Rolls-Royce has ramped up its efforts to build a fleet of small nuclear power stations as the next stage of a government competition draws closer. City A.M. understands that 30 employees from its Trident submarine work are now checking work on Rolls’ blueprint for the Small Modular Reactors (SMRS). The Sunday Times first reported the news. It comes as the government’s Successor programme, which will replace the UK’s four nuclear submarines with newer models, moves from the design to the manufacturing stage.
City AM 2nd Oct 2016 read more »
Several thousand people demonstrated against the construction of nuclear reactors near the northern French town of Flamnville on Saturday. British opponents of the planned reactor at Hinkley Point joined European opponents of nuclear power. The protesters gathered at Siouville-Hague, between a nuclear waste treatement centre at La Hague and the site of a third nuclear reactor at Flamanville, which is currently under construction. The first protest against the plan took place 10 years ago at Cherbourg on the Channel coast. French power company EDF, which is also building the Hinkley Point reactor, says it should be ready to operate in the third quarter of 2018, six years late. Its cost has trebled to 10.5 billion euros after a number of problems.
RFI 1st Oct 2016 read more »
An investigation into clusters of cancer cases around Sellafield and Dounreay nuclear sites has found they were very unlikely to have been caused by radiation exposure. A report from the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (Comare) said the clusters had gone. It also found no evidence of a spike in thyroid cancers following the Windscale reactor fire in 1957. The committee said rural population mixing may have been a factor. Comare – an expert Department of Health committee – now wants more research to be carried out into the role that infection plays in the development of leukaemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It has been suggested that an infectious agent could be introduced into rural communities by an influx of people, triggering a rise in cases of these rare cancers. Around 500 children under 14 develop leukaemia every year in the UK, making it the most common cancer among children.
BBC 30th Sept 2016 read more »
Childhood leukaemia is probably triggered by a mystery virus raising hopes that a vaccination against the devastating disease could be found. The finding comes after 30 years of research into whether increased cancer rates near nuclear power stations are linked to radiation. Since the 1980s there have been concerns that nuclear plants were causing cancer after disease rates were found to be up to 10 times greater than the national average in communities like Seascale, near Sellafield in Cumbria. However today the government’s Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (Comare) said there was no evidence that it was the nuclear power plants themselves which were behind the increase. Instead, they said it was more likely that the large influx of people who moved to areas to staff the plants had brought in viruses, which had triggered cancer in local populations.
Telegraph 30th Sept 2016 read more »
Children living near two nuclear sites in the United Kingdom, Sellafield and Dounreay, showed no increase in risk of leukaemia or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a new analysis of cancer rates from 1991 to 2006 has shown. The report’s authors said that the increased incidence of these cancers found in earlier years may have been associated with exposure to infections as people from elsewhere moved into these previously isolated rural areas. The Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE) has been investigating possible cancer clusters around nuclear installations for the past 30 years. A report in 1984 found an increased incidence of leukaemia in under 25s living in Seascale, a village near the Sellafield nuclear site in northwest England. A second report in 1988 found higher rates of leukaemia in children and young people living near the Dounreay nuclear site in Caithness, Scotland.
BMJ 3rd Oct 2016 read more »
Anti nuclear campaigners claim an inadequate runway at Wick Airport is justification for halting airborne nuclear cargoes between Dounreay and the US. Military flights carrying highly enriched uranium have just begun and are set to continue for several years. Local SNP MP Paul Monaghan has claimed the planes are unable to take off safely because the runway is too short. He bases his concern on research that claims to show the US Air Force C17 Globemaster requires a “safe” runway length of 7,600ft. Wick John O’Groats Airport, which was recently upgraded by the UK Government at a cost of £8million, is 6,000ft long. Mr Monaghan, who represents Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, said: “I’m very concerned to learn that the huge Boeing aircraft being used cannot take off safely from Wick John O’Groats due to the short runway length.
Press & Journal 3rd Oct 2016 read more »
It’s been 60 years since the world’s first full-scale nuclear power station, Calder Hall, opened in west Cumbria. In celebration, The Beacon museum are opening a new exhibition documenting the history of the station. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II came to west Cumbria to officially open the plant in 1956.
ITV 3rd Oct 2016 read more »
When video footage of a Belgian nuclear official was discovered in the apartment of a terrorist behind the Paris attacks of November 13, 2015, it heightened the concerns of national security experts in the United States and abroad about nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorist groups. As strange as it may sound, though, catastrophe is opportunity. The United States and the other nuclear powers must seize this opportunity to work together to broaden their nuclear security policy to mitigate the growing threat of a nuclear-armed terrorist group. Stronger physical protection of nuclear facilities, tigher border controls around nuclear power states, and increased transparency among civilian and military nuclear programs will undeniably lower the risk of this threat.
IAR 30th Sept 2016 read more »
Britain signed off on the most costly energy deal it has ever made this week – but the price we agreed for energy from Hinkley is still lower than the peak prices that will hit British wallets even harder, and sooner. Current commitments to renewable generation will cost each household £466 by 2020/21, the centre-right think tank the Centre for Policy Studies reckons. Yet the CPS highlights something often overlooked – the volatility of the spot market. On September 14, the day-ahead electricity price hit £999/MwH for more than an hour. Typically the wholesale price hovers around £45/MWh. This was the coincidence of unplanned shutdowns of our nuclear stations, the outage of the French interconnect, and a lovely heat wave. Hinkley Point C has a guaranteed price of £92.5/MWh, index-linked to 2012 prices. Gas and nuclear typically provide 70 per cent of our energy, with nuclear the most reliable and cost effective source for baseload. More of both sources would be the optimal cost effective energy strategy. But Britain’s dash for wind has hidden costs. Wind generates between close to zero and 11 per cent of electricity and the volatility has had a few side effects.
The Register 30th Sept 2016 read more »
Winter power prices have spiked upwards after EDF cut its projection for nuclear output due to safety tests at a number of its reactors in France. On 23 June the French nuclear regulator ASN ordered EDF to undertake safety tests on a number of its reactors in France to make sure they don’t suffer from a similar manufacturing anomaly to one uncovered at the Flamanville 3 reactor being built in Normandy. ASN said as many as 18 of EDF’s reactors could be affected. Last week, EDF announced that planned outages for refuelling had been extended because of the tests, in particular at its Tricastin 1 and 3 reactors. It said its target for nuclear output in 2016 had been cut from 395–400 TWh to 380–390 TWh and that it expected nuclear output in 2017 to be in the in the range of 390–400 TWh. Power prices shot up on Wedesday, seemingly after details of the safety checks and the resulting added maintenance were published in a French magazine. In France the price of baseload contracts for the first quarter of 2017 averaged €55.90, up from €47.90 on Tuesday. ICIS said it was the biggest day-on-day change for a three-month contract it has witnessed in 15 years monitoring the French power market. UK prices are often affected by developments on the French market due the 2GW interconnector connecting the two countries. The baseload price for the first quarter of 2017 rose from £47.65 to £51.23 between Tuesday and Wednesday, and the price of six-month contracts for the 2016/17 winter season jumped by 7.7 per cent. The last time there was such a big change in the price of three or six-month contracts was in 2008.
Utility Week 30th Sept 2016 read more »
Policies to support renewable generation will cost the average household £466 in 2020, a report published by the Centre for Policy Studies has claimed. It called for a new energy bill to “prioritise costs, competitiveness and security of supply” as the Energy Act of 2013 is based on flawed analysis and is “already out of date” due to the Brexit vote and changes to fossil fuel prices. If the cost of renewable subsidies covered by the Levy Control Framework (LCF) are in line with the £7.6 billion budget for 2020/21, then they will cost each household £281, both directly through their bills and indirectly through inflated prices for goods and services. The paper cited an annual estimate of £5 billion by Renewable Energy Foundation director John Constable for network and other costs that would be incurred due to renewable generation. These would cost the average household a further £185 in 2020.
Utility Week 30th Sept 2016 read more »
For most of the last half century, energy security has been defined in terms of Opec boycotts, the risk of the Strait of Hormuz being closed to oil tankers and the dangers of Russia cutting off gas supplies through the European pipeline network. In the last few years, however, much has changed. Now, energy security concerns are focused internally and the risks are concentrated around the networks that sustain complex modern economies. The networks are physical but they are controlled by electronic systems. The greatest threat on this updated analysis is that hostile forces – whether terrorists or state-sponsored cyber specialists – could penetrate and disrupt or destroy those systems. These fears are beginning to reshape public policy and that will affect how the energy business develops across the world. Two factors have contributed to the changing definition of energy security. First, there is no longer any sense that supplies are scarce. If anything, there is a shortage of buyers, a situation compounded by the achievement of virtual self-sufficiency in North America. Patterns of trade have shifted so the US is now a supplier of oil to Venezuela and of gas to the UK petrochemical sector via the Grangemouth refinery.
FT 3rd Oct 2016 read more »
One of the all-time records for TV pick-ups came in 1984 when the BBC aired “The Thorn Birds” mini-series It is a distinctly British phenomenon: millions of viewers leaping up from the sofa at the end of a popular television show to boil the kettle or raid the fridge, causing a big spike in demand for electricity. But as more and more people use on-demand television services to watch their favourite dramas whenever they like, the TV power pick-up has faded to a feeble version of its former self. Historically, surges in demand have been so big that National Grid, the network operator, keeps back-up power stations on standby to make sure the system stays stable. Grid managers also have a subscription to the Radio Times to monitor looming blockbusters that are likely to draw big ratings. Because of the growth of services su ch as BBC’s iPlayer and other catch-up options, however, fewer people are watching programmes live – and the Grid says that is having a big effect on TV pick-ups. “We see as many but they are much, much smaller than they were,” said Jeremy Caplin, forecasting manager at National Grid. “The way that people watch TV has meant that they have come down in size.” The share of time-shifted television viewing rose to 13 per cent last year, up from about 6 per cent in 2010, industry data show.
FT 3rd Oct 2016 read more »
The nuclear industry is gradually recovering from its post-Fukushima slump, but excess capacity keeps uranium prices at record lows, forcing mining companies to mothball mines, slice costs and cut debt as they struggle to survive. The World Nuclear Association (WNA) says it is feasible that global nuclear electricity production, at around 2,441 terawatt hours (TWh) in 2015, may return to 2011 levels this year and to pre-Fukushima levels in two-three years. In 2010, the last full year before Fukushima, nuclear generation came to 2,630 TWh. Long-term perspectives have picked up too. China plans to build at least 60 nuclear plants in the coming decade, South Africa last month kicked off a major nuclear tender, and Thursday’s signature of the Hinkley Point contract between French utility EDF (EDF.PA) and the UK government opens the way for up to 12 new reactors in Britain. As nuclear reactors need fuel, all this should be good news for uranium miners, but the radioactive metal last week hit a new decade low of $23.5 per pound.
Reuters 3rd Oct 2016 read more »
The government might stay involved in the management of Tokyo Electric longer than planned, given the ballooning costs of scrapping the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, sources close to the matter said. The delay in reactivating the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture, the main pillar of the utility’s reconstruction plan, is another factor prompting the government rethink, the sources said Saturday. It had planned to end state control next April. The government is leading the business operations of struggling Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings, which is facing huge compensation payments and other problems from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, because it has acquired 50.1 percent of the firm’s voting rights via the state-backed Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp.
Japan Times 2nd Oct 2016 read more »
Renewables – Geothermal
The concept and practice of ‘fracking’ – the practice of splitting, or fracturing rock formations deep underground which is used day and daily in the offshore N. Sea oil industry – has become so toxic that it is deterring investment in the geo-thermal energy sector in Scotland. This hitherto overlooked ‘political by-product’ of the Scot-Govt’s temporary moratorium on onshore shale gas exploration was raised by independent academic experts at the UK Shale Energy conference in Glasgow last week.
Scottish Energy News 3rd Oct 2016 read more »
Reykjavik used to be marketed as a place of ‘pure energy’, run on geothermal power – and now Iceland’s capital is trying to become the world’s first carbon neutral city. Last month, Iceland became the one of the first countries to ratify the Paris climate deal with a unilateral parliamentary vote, shortly after Reykjavik announced its aim to be carbon neutral by 2040.
Guardian 3rd Oct 2016 read more »
Homes and businesses across 11 local authority areas will be warmer and cheaper to heat thanks to over £9 million of Scottish Government funding. Councils have been awarded the funding to pilot new and innovative approaches to drive down energy bills and tackle climate change, but most of the money will be spent on insulation. Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme (SEEP) Pathfinder Fund is being directed at businesses, community groups and individuals working and living in areas with particularly high levels of fuel poverty.
Scottish Energy News 3rd Oct 2016 read more »
Cuadrilla is “confident” that the Government will this week approve its plans to frack in Lancashire, in a “pivotal moment” for the UK shale gas industry, its chief executive Francis Egan has said. Sajid Javid, the communities secretary, is expected to announce on Thursday whether he will overrule local councillors and grant the company permission to frack at two sites between Blackpool and Preston. In a make-or-break week for UK frackers, councillors in Nottinghamshire will also vote on Wednesday on whether to open up a new exploration front in the East Midlands by approving proposed drilling by IGas. Cuadrilla’s plans were thrown out by Lancashire council last summer, despite one site, Preston New Road, being recommended for approval by local planning officials. The company’s appeal against th e rejections was heard at a public inquiry earlier this year, with the secret verdict of the planning inspector referred to the communities secretary in July.
Telegraph 2nd Oct 2016 read more »