30 April 2014

Energy Costs

Energy bills are likely to rise twice as fast as the government forecasts this decade because households are not buying new efficient appliances that are supposed to save them money, a new report warns on Wednesday. Ministers claimed last year that energy bills would rise by £64 over the rest of the decade – from £1,267 in 2013 to £1,331 in 2020. It said that the costs of green subsidies would be partially offset by consumers using less energy as they trade in old fridges, TVs and lights for new efficient models. But new analysis by centre-left think tank IPPR for campaign group Global Action Plan finds that bills are likely to increase by a further £63, because consumers will buy fewer efficient products than expected. Slow roll-out of regulation, confusing product labelling and consumers saving their cash after the economic downturn are all likely to result in savings from product efficiency being 40pc less than the £158 that the government had forecast, it found.

Telegraph 30th April 2014 read more »

Magnox

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority is facing legal action from Energy Solutions, which alleges it did not follow regulations when it awarded a huge decommissioning contract to a rival bidder earlier this year.

World Nuclear News 29th April 2014 read more »

Building 29th April 2014 read more »

Waste Transport

Holtec International has received a contract from Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company (SKB) for designing, licensing and supply of an IAEA Type B transport cask for operational and decommissioning waste. The contract will provision International Atomic Energy Agency Type B transport casks for operational and decommissioning waste. Holtec said that this is second contract with SKB following last year’s order to design transport casks for spent fuel. Florida-based company plans to license the cask in both Sweden and the US.

Energy Business Review 29th April 2014 read more »

EDF

Gareth Wynn, communications director for nuclear new build at EDF Energy, delivered the opening keynote speech at the PRWeek-run event attended by 140 communications professionals in London today. “I’m championing one of the activities, which is called Bringing Nuclear to Life. It comes back to building advocacy. What I’m building is a couple of hundred employees who are properly prepped and briefed on how to cope with the story why does nuclear matter in the energy mix and why is new nuclear important to EDF Energy.”

PR Week 29th April 2014 read more »

Companies

Rolls-Royce is close to reaching an agreement to sell part of its energy division to Siemens in a deal valued at up to £1bn. The UK engineering group on Tuesday confirmed it is in talks over the sale of a unit that makes small and medium gas turbine generators for the oil and gas industry and small industrial power plants. Any deal would exclude Rolls-Royce’s sensitive nuclear power business, which is part of the division and designs and builds the reactors for the Royal Navy’s submarines as well as providing services to the civil sector.

FT 29th April 2014 read more »

Radwaste

Westinghouse and Sellafield have tested what they claim is an effective method for the removal of hydrogen from shielded boxes containing nuclear waste. Nuclear waste that contains metallic spent nuclear fuel pieces or sludge generates hydrogen through radiolysis and chemical reactions. These waste materials can be stored in shielded boxes with filtered vents for removal of the hydrogen to prevent formation of flammable gas mixtures. Commercially available filters are designed for applications without shielding, such as for fitting the opening of a 200 litre drum.

Profssional Engineer 29th April 2014 read more »

Energy Policy

The so-called ‘wave 9’ survey of public attitudes to energy technologies published today by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) shows just how out of step with the public the Conservatives have become in their policies. As detailed below, the Government’s survey shows that the public is much more supportive of onshore wind – the technology they are determined to curb – compared to the technologies to which they want to give incentives, namely nuclear power and shale gas. The Conservatives want to stop premium price contracts being given to onshore wind and are busy stopping local authorities giving windfarm proposals planning permission. Yet onshore wind is, under Electricity Market Reform (EMR), until 2020, being given much lower incentives compared to nuclear power. So it is not as if the country cannot afford windfarms compared to nuclear power in particular, and shale gas cannot be a cheaper way of reducing carbon emissions!

Dave Toke’s Blog 29th April 2014 read more »

RenewableUK says a new survey published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, which shows that levels of public support for onshore and offshore wind energy are even higher than before, proves that the anti-wind Conservative party is out of touch. Earlier this month, the Conservative Energy Minister Michael Fallon announced that his party would cease to support any further onshore wind projects – even though it’s the cheapest form of renewable energy the UK has and it’s a vital part of our electricity mix if we want to keep the lights on. In the latest wave of DECC’s Public Attitudes Tracker, 70% of people said they support the development of onshore wind – the highest ever figure since DECC’s regular opinion polls began in March 2012. A record-breaking number also support offshore wind, at a new high of 77%. Wave and tidal energy also remains popular at 77%, matching its previous highest levels of support. In contrast, public support for shale gas stands at only 29%.

Renewable UK 29th April 2014 read more »

Carbon Budgets

To meet its obligation of reducing carbon emissions by at least 80% by 2050 under its Climate Change Act and to do so in a way that is affordable, the UK needs to gradually reduce its carbon emissions by meeting a series of milestones called carbon budgets. The Government is currently reviewing the Fourth Carbon budget, which covers the period 2023 to 2027 and requires significant cuts in carbon emissions in the UK’s power sector. The Government had initially approved that budget in 2011, subject to a review in 2014. Having received revised advice on the budget from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC ) back in December 2013 and having committed to making a decision by the end of the first quarter of this year, it is legitimate to ask why the Government is taking so long to accept the CCC’s advice. There are a myriad of reasons why the Government should make a rapid decision on this issue, here are just a few. After years of political divisions on climate and energy policy and the Conservatives’ latest proposal to make life as hard as possible for the cheapest form of renewable electricity, now is the time for the Government to show it has a long-term plan for the low-carbon sector. The Fourth Carbon Budget provides it with the opportunity to do just that.

Huffington Post 29th April 2014 read more »

Opinion Polls

The use of nuclear power to generate electricity in the UK is attracting growing support from the public, an official survey has revealed. The latest public attitudes research for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) found that 42% of UK adults supported nuclear energy in March 2014, compared to 38% in September 2012. Opposition to the technology dropped from 27% in September 2012 to 20% in March this year, the survey of more than 2,000 people found.

Professional Engineer 29th April 2014 read more »

When you ask people whether they’re worried about climate change, they’ll probably say yes. But if you put it next to other problems like unemployment and rising prices, it’ll rank rather lower on most people’s list of priorities. Nevertheless, new polling suggests more people now see climate change and energy supply as significant challenges for the UK. The economy remains the public’s greatest concern. But DECC’s poll suggests a combination of recent events and a slight reduction in concern about the economy could be creating greater space for political debate and action on climate change and energy.

Carbon Brief 29th April 2014 read more »

Nukes vs Climate

A webinar yesterday offered convincing and well-documented assertions that a) nuclear power cannot possibly be a useful means of addressing climate change; indeed, it only makes the problem worse; b) in fact, the entire antiquated concept of “baseload” power makes the problem still worse by preventing the full implementation of 21st century energy technologies; c) even if nuclear power–including existing reactors–were able to address climate, it would be too expensive to do so and that expense crowds out better alternatives; and d) the nuclear industry’s efforts to save its existing reactors (forget about building new ones) is beginning to look like an all-out war on renewables and ratepayers alike.

Green World 29th April 2014 read more »

Nuclear Weapons

The mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki reiterated their calls Tuesday for international efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons. “Even now, after a quarter of a century has passed since the end of the Cold War, there still exist more than 17,000 nuclear warheads around the world,” Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui said. “We are still living under the risk of destruction through nuclear weapons,” he told a meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference held at the U.N. headquarters in New York. Describing nuclear weapons as “ultimate inhumane weapons and an absolute evil,” Matsui, who has set a goal of abolishing nuclear weapons by 2020, showed his resolve to help realize a convention banning such weapons.

Japan Times 30th April 2014 read more »

A report recounting a litany of near-misses in which nuclear weapons came close to being launched by mistake concludes that the risk of potentially catastrophic accidents is higher than previously thought and appears to be rising. Too Close for Comfort: Cases of Near Nuclear Use and Options for Policy, published by Chatham House, says that “individual decision-making, often in disobedience of protocol and political guidance, has on several occasions saved the day”, preventing the launch of nuclear warheads. The report lists 13 instances since 1962 when nuclear weapons were nearly used. In several cases the large-scale launch of nuclear weapons was nearly triggered by technical malfunctions or breakdowns in communication causing false alarms, in both the US and Russia. Disaster was averted only by cool-headed individuals gambling that the alert was caused by a glitch and not an actual attack.

Guardian 29th April 2014 read more »

The Nonaligned Movement (Nam) representing over 100 developing countries urged United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki Moon on Monday to convene a long-delayed conference promoting a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa made the appeal in advance of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference due to begin next year.

Morning Star 29th April 2014 read more »

US

Carbon dioxide emissions could be 4% higher in 2040 if all US nuclear power plants retire after their 60th year of operation, according to an analysis by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). In its Annual Energy Outlook 2014 (AEO2014) EIA looks at several cases that could represent conditions leading to additional coal and nuclear plant retirements, and it examines the potential energy market and emissions effects of the loss of this capacity. In 2012, coal and nuclear plants provided 56% of the electricity generated in the United States.

Modern Power Systems 29th April 2014 read more »

Russia

Russian insurance group Sogaz has again won the annual tender to provide property insurance to all of the country’s nuclear power plants. It is also to insure the construction of Russia’s first floating nuclear power plant.

World Nuclear News 29th April 2014 read more »

Turkey

Two nuclear power projects in Turkey, once operational, are estimated to help the government save $7.2 billion by reducing gas imports by one-third in addition to generating 32% of the country’s electricity. The government is keen to fast-track a Rosatom-led reactor in Akkuyu, Mersin province, and aims to realise a further reactor on the Black Sea cost through a Japanese-French consortium by 2023.

Gas to Power Journal 29th April 2014 read more »

Taiwan

Taiwan’s premier has halted construction of the country’s fourth nuclear power plant with its eventual opening depending on the outcome of a national referendum.

Construction Index 29th April 2014 read more »

China

China has never suffered a Three Mile Island-like nuclear power plant accident, much less a Chernobyl meltdown or a Fukushima disaster. But now that the government under Premier Li Keqiang has put the country on a fast-track for nuclear power development, with dozens of new reactors scheduled to launch by 2020, the insurance industry is focusing attention on the difficult question “what if?” China’s insurers have been taking a cue from the National People’s Congress, the nation’s top legislature. A special panel under the NPC’s Environmental and Resources Protection Committee was recently ordered to draft a nuclear safety law, the nation’s first, with a built-in framework for power plant accident compensation.

Global Times 26th April 2014 read more »

Renewables – solar

Solar power’s greatest drawback has always been that it is intermittent and, even in the sunniest climes, peak electricity demand is frequently in the evening when the Sun is going down. The engineering challenge has been to design a system in which enough of the Sun’s heat can be stored to produce full power continuously even on cloudy days – and better still, all night. Many different designs have been tried, but finally a commercial plant in Spain seems to have cracked the problem, and as a result has won an award from a panel of independent judges. The Gemasolar plant near the Spanish city of Seville, built by Torresol Energy, can store enough heat to operate for 18 hours at full capacity without any additional power from the Sun. For many months of the year it can run for 24 hours a day.

Climate News Network 29th April 2014 read more »

Fossil Fuels

Recent news that a gas project in Queensland has been charged with environmental harm has put the spotlight on underground coal gasification, or UCG. Linc Energy’s Chinchilla project was a pilot UCG project which was completed in October 2013. Following a nine-month government investigation, the project now faces a potential fines of A$2 million over alleged “serious environmental harm”. The company has vowed to fight the charges, and claims regulation favours the rival coal seam gas industry. UCG, like coal seam gas (CSG), is an unconventional method of extracting gas from coal seams. It is also considered a “clean coal” technology — offering a way to continue exploiting coal resources while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. While it is estimated that Australia has reserves of1 trillion cubic metres of CSG reserves, there may be 12 trillion cubic metres of UCG. Despite trialling the technology since the 1980s, UCG has so far failed to achieve the environmental standards needed for commercialisation. So, what is UCG, and are concerns about environmental impacts justified?

Renew Economy 30th April 2014 read more »

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Published: 30 April 2014