30 June 2015

Flamanville

More safety faults could be uncovered in France’s flagship nuclear reactor being built by Electricite de France SA and Areva SA in Normandy, a regulator warned. “There are difficulties” in the execution of the project, Pierre-Franck Chevet, head of the French nuclear safety regulator, told a parliamentary hearing in Paris on Thursday. “As we enter into the period of startup trials and the qualification phase, there could be more anomalies. We’ll have to deal with them.”

Bloomberg 25th June 2015 read more »

Hinkley

Austria, which was due to file a legal complaint on Monday against EU-granted state subsidies for a new nuclear power plant in Britain, has delayed the move by several days, a source said. Last week, the government announced it would formally challenge the subsidies for the Hinkley Point C project in the European Court of Justice on June 29. Austria argues the proposal is in breach of European law and risks distorting the energy market. “The complaint initially announced for this Monday will probably not be filed before Wednesday,” a source familiar with the case told AFP.

EU Business 29th June 2015 read more »

The developers behind the nuclear power station in Somerset have said they are unconcerned over a planned legal challenge by the Austrian government. The Austrians have said a deal by the UK government to guarantee the price of electricity from the nuclear plant breaches European rules on state aid. The Austrian government has confirmed it will file a formal complaint in the next few days. Last October, the European Commission said the deal was within EU rules. EDF has described the subsidy deal for Hinkley Point C in place as “fair and balanced”. He added: “They were approved by the European Commission following a robust and lengthy investigation.

BBC 29th June 2015 read more »

Nuclear Safety

A new report published today by Greenpeace found that Europe’s nuclear regulators have failed to act on vital lessons from the Fukushima catastrophe, exposing Europeans to the risk of a nuclear accident. The release coincides with the bi-annual conference of the European Nuclear Safety Regulator Group (ENSREG) held in Brussels. Greenpeace nuclear energy expert Jan Haverkamp said: “Europe has failed to learn some of the vital lessons from Fukushima and remains woefully unprepared for similar accidents. We call on the Commission and regulators to act now to ensure that European nuclear operators address these serious safety concerns.” The report analyses national action plans that are based on a series of nuclear ‘stress tests’ set up in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in March 2011. It found that several countries in Europe have failed to implement crucial protection measures against earthquakes, floods and hydrogen explosions, and the installation of proper pressure safety valves to prevent the release of radioactivity into the environment in case of accident. The lack of such valves at the Fukushima reactor forced operators to face the dilemma of risking over-pressurisation and explosion, or releasing radioactivity and therefore contaminating the environment and population.

Greenpeace 29th June 2015 read more »

The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) has published its analysis of UK / European nuclear safety three and a half years after the Fukushima disaster. The Policy Briefing is the first of a trio of nuclear policy briefings – the others being on nuclear emergency planning and nuclear security – which challenge the new UK Government and nuclear regulatory agencies to consider fundamental changes as a result of specific issues the Fukushima disaster has raised. NFLA Policy Briefing 132 on nuclear safety considers the recently agreed and updated International Convention on Nuclear Safety. It notes that the robust Swiss / European proposed changes were significantly diluted following representations from the United States and Russia. This would have required existing reactors to upgrade to a similar level of safety in certain respects to that of new reactors. Europe is spending much more on upgrading reactors than the rest of the world. In France, EDF, for instance, is spending around $13 billion on implementing safety measures on its 59 reactors, whereas American utilities will spend only $3 billion for roughly 100 reactors. However, in the NFLA‟s view, European nuclear safety authorities have dodged major questions such as the threat from terrorism, plane crashes, off-site emergency plans, and the same multiple disaster scenarios that sparked the Fukushima crisis.

NFLA 25th June 2015 read more »

Sellafield

From 1 April 2016 the NDA will become the owner of Sellafield Ltd, the Site Licence Company responsible for managing and operating Sellafield on behalf of the NDA. The new arrangements will replace the current parent body organisation model and therefore ownership of Sellafield Ltd by Nuclear Management Partners. Sellafield Ltd will continue to benefit from private sector expertise but that support will come from suppliers rather than a private sector owner. Sellafield Ltd will use best practice ways of introducing private sector support into public sector arrangements, including the intention to appoint the use of a strategic partner. The Sellafield Model Change Programme is well underway to bring about improved management arrangements by 1 April 2016.

NDA 29th June 2015 read more »

Nuclear Investment

GMB, the union for workers in the nuclear industry and in engineering construction, responded to a reply from Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change to an earlier letter from GMB. This raised concerns at the prospect of the Bradwell nuclear site being handed over lock, stock and barrel to the Chinese National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) as part of the deal to fund Hinkley Point C. See notes to editors for copy of GMB letter of 10th June and the reply from Amber Rudd dated 17th June attached as a pdf. Gary Smith, GMB National Secretary for energy, said “I have studied the letter from Amber Rudd carefully and conclude that it looks that the UK Government is preparing for a hand over of the future UK nuclear infrastructure to the Chinese state. This is a total betrayal of workers in the UK and of the long term interests of the UK economy. Amber Rudd accepts that UK manufacturers and the nuclear industry in the UK will play no part in the global nuclear industry which will be dominated by China. This treachery is driven by ideological dogma on Osborne’s part over funding for the energy sector. The UK Government is relying on foreign state owned companies to fund the development of new nuclear stations having stood down UK state owned companies to do the job that the private sector is clearly not prepared to do.

GMB 29th June 2015 read more »

China nuclear deal a betrayal.

Shropshire Star 29th June 2015 read more »

Press & Journal 29th June 2015 read more »

The Government is preparing to hand over the of new nuclear power stations to Chinese firms, in a “total betrayal” of UK workers, a union has claimed. The GMB raised concerns earlier this month about the prospect of a site in Bradwell, Essex, being given “lock, stock and barrel” to the Chinese National Nuclear Corporation. Energy Secretary Amber Rudd responded in a letter to the union: “The UK government welcomes overseas investment in the UK’s new nuclear programme. This includes investment and participation from Chinese companies in the Hinkley Point C project and progressive involvement more generally in the UK’s nuclear new build energy programme. “In the future, this could include leading the development of a site in the UK and the potential deployment of a Chinese reactor technology in the UK, subject to meeting the stringent requirements of the UK’s independent nuclear regulatory regime.”

Western Morning News 29th June 2015 read more »

Radhealth

In 2013, I discussed several epidemiological studies providing good evidence of radiogenic risks at very low exposure levels: A powerful new study has been published in Lancet Haematology which adds to this evidence However the study’s findings are perhaps even more important than the previous studies, for several reasons. First, as stated by the authors, it provides “ strong evidence of a dose-response relationship between cumulative, external, chronic, low-dose, exposures to radiation and leukaemia”. Second, it finds radiogenic risks of leukemia among nuclear workers to be 50% greater than previously thought. Third, it confirms risks even at very low doses.

Dr Ian Fairlie 29th June 2015 read more »

Supply Chain

Leaders of the nuclear industry will gather in London today to launch an initiative to broaden the UK supply chain for new plant builds. Trade body the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) is launching a Nuclear Supply Chain Partnership (NSCP) to help smaller companies get ready to bid for manufacturing work on new nuclear projects.

Process Engineering 30th June 2015 read more »

Energy Supplies – Scotland

For the first time, this year interconnectors are eligible to participate, increasing the competitive pressure on the auction clearing price and helping to ensure that security of supply is delivered at least cost to consumers. This makes it more likely that Scotland will have to import energy in bad winter weather conditions – when electricity generated from wind turbines can dive to zero – from England.

Scottish Energy News 30th June 2015 read more »

Europe

Europe will likely get more than half of its electricity from renewable sources by the end of the next decade if EU countries meet their climate pledges, according to a draft commission paper.

Edie 29th June 2015 read more »

France

In fulfillment of a campaign promise, President François Hollande’s government is aiming to pass legislation in July that will cement a nuclear energy drawdown, bringing nuclear’s share of generation to 50 percent by 2025 in an effort to diversify France’s energy production as the country adopts new targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The move is a drastic shift for one of France’s iconic industries. New reactors also are struggling. Areva’s third-generation nuclear reactor, EPR, is now under construction at four sites: two in China, one in France and one in Finland. All four are behind schedule, and the French and Finnish reactors have seen their costs more than double, suffering from quality control and management problems. “The cost of construction of new nuclear is extraordinarily expensive,” said Antony Frogatt, a senior research fellow at Chatham House, an international affairs think tank. He observed that there are ways to extend the lives of existing reactors, but upgrades get progressively more expensive, and certain components, like reactor pressure vessels, cannot be replaced, so renewed operating licenses are only prolonging the inevitable. With the world converging in Paris later this year to hammer out a climate agreement, nuclear energy proponents like China and skeptics like Germany are keeping a close eye on France to see whether the French experiment will vindicate their approaches to energy.

Scientific American 29th June 2015 read more »

Germany

Four years after Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear power completely, the country’s oldest remaining reactor has been shut down. But is Germany’s nuclear phase-out on track – and what obstacles does it face? Apart from continued debate over financing renewables, the phase-out of atomic energy in Germany comes with another major challenge: where to put nuclear waste so it can remain safely out of the environment for a million years. The committee tasked with finding a final repository estimates that the process could take 30 to 80 years – potentially pushing the end of this process far into the next century.

Deutsche Welle 29th June 2015 read more »

E.on has decommissioned the Germany’s oldest remaining nuclear reactor, 1,345MW Grafenrheinfeld, located in south of Schweinfurt at the river Main. The move is a part of the country’s plan, initiated four years ago, to close all its nuclear power plants by the end of 2022, reported The Associated Press. Commissioned in 1981, the Grafenrheinfeld is the first reactor to be shut down since the country closed the eight oldest of its 17 nuclear reactors in 2011, in wake of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Energy Business Review 29th June 2015 read more »

Canada

Canada and the UK today signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on enhancing cooperation in the field of civil nuclear energy.

World Nuclear News 29th June 2015 read more »

Iran

For more than a decade, Iran’s nuclear ambitions have threatened to cause a new war in the Middle East. Back in 2002, Iran was found to have constructed two secret nuclear installations. One of these sites was a uranium enrichment facility; the other a plutonium plant. Either could eventually have been used to produce the essential material for nuclear weapons. From that moment onwards, America and its allies sought to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions. For several years, they had little success: Iran continued to expand its nuclear industry, acquiring 19,500 of the centrifuge machines which could be used to make weapons-grade uranium. In 2009, Iran was found to have constructed a second uranium enrichment plant in secret.

Telegraph 30th June 2015 read more »

The Vienna talks are not expected to reach agreement by Tuesday’s deadline, but a US official voiced optimism about solving the problem of access rights for nuclear inspectors in Iran.

Telegraph 30th June 2015 read more »

After 12 years of on-off negotiations tonight’s deadline for securing a deal on Iran’s nuclear programme will be missed as the talks stumble over Tehran’s willingness to allow inspectors into the country, and the lifting of sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Independent 29th June 2015 read more »

In some quarters of Tehran the view is that what happens in Vienna will not stay in Vienna but will have profound implications for Iran as a whole; that lessening the country’s international isolation will empower the forces of progress at home; that there will be a link, in the words of one foreign diplomat, between the number of centrifuges that are dismantled and, say, the universal requirement that women wear the hijab in public. “If there is a nuclear agreement it will be a victory for the forces of progress over the forces of darkness,” jokes Vali, a businessman with strong reformist instincts.

Guardian 29th June 2015 read more »

Whatever the outcome of the nuclear negotiations due to be finalized this week, it is important to remember that Iran will retain the technical capability to develop nuclear weapons for some considerable time to come. This ’freeze and rollback’ period is seen by some, particularly Israel and Saudi Arabia, as a concern, but could actually be useful in enabling a genuine approach to building trust with Iran.

Chatham House 29th June 2015 read more »

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has signed an agreement with France on the peaceful uses of nuclear power. The Memorandum of Co-operation aims to help the countries improve policy implementation, standards, regulations and guidelines in the field of radioactive waste management.

Energy Live News 30th June 2015 read more »

Saudi Arabia has for past several years been laying the groundwork for a civil nuclear program with no possible military dimensions (PMDs). However, there is a strong possibility that the Kingdom might begin to engage in contingency planning for a defensive nuclear program with PMDs. This planning represents an emerging Saudi nuclear defence doctrine.

Telegraph 29th June 2015 read more »

Brazil

AREVA has temporarily reduced its activities at a nuclear power plant in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This is due to delays in securing financing for Eletrobrás Eletronuclear’s (ETN) Angra 3 project, the company said. The Angra nuclear power plant consists of two pressurised water reactors, Angra 1 and Angra 2; Angra 3 is the third reactor. The French firm added it would resume all project activities as soon as ETN secures a financial solution. An agreement signed by AREVA and ETN in 2013 includes the supply of engineering services, components and the reactor’s instrumentation and control system.

Energy Live News 29th June 2015 read more »

Renewables

The energy-efficiency and cost-efficiency of buildings and areas can be improved by combining different heating methods locally. The DESY project, led by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, used ecological hybrid solutions to enhance the efficiency of heat and electricity production in buildings. Cost-efficient energy investments entail heating and heat recovery. A hybrid solution combining a ground heat pump with solar heating turned out to be the most efficient solution with the lowest life-cycle costs.

VTT 29th June 2015 read more »

After years of lofty promises, Wall Street believes the renewable energy industry can produce a payoff. In just a few years, investors have gone from zero to billions in the amount of money they’re pumping into renewable-energy companies and environmentally friendly projects. Tax-equity funds and specialty financial tools like “green bonds” and yieldcos have become increasingly popular. And investments in the renewable-energy companies that benefit from these financial tools have far outperformed those in oil-and-gas drilling and coal mining since the start of 2013, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a research arm of Bloomberg LP.

Wall St Journal 25th June 2015 read more »

Renewables – community ownership

Muirhall Energy’s community share-offering for its recently submitted wind farm in Dumfries and Galloway has been welcomed by a local community group. The scheme could see local communities own a share of up to 10% in the development. Based in South Lanarkshire, Muirhall Energy has submitted a planning application for a 48MW wind energy development at Crossdykes, near Lockerbie. The company has been consulting in the local community for the past year and sees local community ownership playing a significant role in the project’s success. Muirhall’s planning application, which was submitted to Dumfries & Galloway Council last month, features 15 turbines of up to 130m in height with each machine capable of producing up to 3.2MW.

Scottish Energy News 30th June 2015 read more »

Renewables – onshore wind

The government must explain how its withdrawal of support from onshore windfarms will affect the cost of meeting greenhouse gas emissions targets, and urgently set out plans for alternative electricity generation, its statutory advisors on climate change have said. One of the first policy announcements from the incoming Conservative government was that support for onshore windfarms would be withdrawn from 2016, and planning procedures put in place that will make it much harder for any new windfarms to be brought forward. This is likely to severely restrict the development of any new onshore wind farms in England, despit e the fact that they are the cheapest form of renewable electricity generation. This in turn will push up the cost of reducing emissions, and meeting renewable energy targets set for 2020. Lord Deben, the chairman of the committee on climate change, said that the job of the committee stopped short of advocating particular measures, but that it could advise ministers on the likely overall effect of their climate policies. He said: “This [end of subsidies to onshore wind] is a political step by the government, and it is perfectly reasonable for them to do – as long as they are prepared to allow people to know what the cost is going to be, and what they are going to do instead [to meet climate targets].” Under the Climate Change Act, ministers must respond to the committeeby mid-October. This means the government will be forced for the first time to put a price on its controversial quasi-ban on new onshore wind farms, and set out how the resulting shortfall in renewab le energy generation will be made up.

Guardian 30th June 2015 read more »

Fusion

A prototype nuclear fusion reactor will be unveiled during Britain’s Royal Society summer science exhibition, the country’s leading showcase for new research. Start-up group Tokamak Energy, a subsidiary of the UK government’s Culham Laboratory, said it expected electricity to be produced from nuclear fusion within a decade, as Britain aims to shift towards green energies.

Share Cast 29th June 2015 read more »

Climate Change

In its latest progress report, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) delivers its verdict on how effective government policy has been in achieving the UK’s legislated climate targets. The report is a story of good news with serious qualifications. In 2014, emissions fell dramatically in the UK, meaning that the government will comfortably remain within the carbon budgets outlining the rate of decarbonisation up to 2022. But can the government take the credit for the reductions? And will it be able to continue at its current pace? With a number of key policies set to expire, the future looks uncertain, says the CCC. Lord Deben, chairman of the CCC, says: “The government has put into place a series of programmes which properly meets its [current] requirements, but it has very urgently to move those forward if it’s going to be in that same place in two or three years’ time, certainly in five years’ time.” The government has set itself a fourth carbon budget, covering the period 2023 to 2027. There has been no advance in government policies that could close the gap for 2023 – 27 – many of which are due to conclude during the course of the current Parliament. The following table sets out policies that are set to expire in the near future. Several may also be a risk of funding cuts.

Carbon Brief 30th June 2015 read more »

The UK must take urgent action to prepare for the impact of climate change, the government has been warned. Ministers should focus on the future risks of heatwaves and flooding, says the Committee on Climate Change. Its report said more needed to be done to keep emissions on track, although the government said it was committed to meeting its climate change target. It also warned a decision to stop onshore wind farm subsidies early could potentially add £1bn a year to bills.

BBC 30th June 2015 read more »

Fossil Fuels

Lancashire county council has rejected a planning application by shale gas explorer Cuadrilla to frack in the county, in a major blow to what would have been the UK’s biggest round of fracking so far. Anti-fracking campaigners outside the council’s town hall in Preston, where the verdict was announced, reacted with delight and cheers, and people in the chamber applauded.

Business Green 29th June 2015 read more »

BBC 29th June 2015 read more »

Independent 30th June 2015 read more »

Guardian 29th June 2015 read more »

Telegraph 29th June 2015 read more »

Professors David Smythe and Stuart Haszeldine, of Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities respectivel,y strongly advised Lancashire’s councillors not to proceed with planning permission, despite the council’s planning officials saying it should go ahead. The National has learned that the intervention by way of written submissions helped “turn the tide” as one anti-fracking campaigner put it. Both men modestly played down their role in the county council’s deliberations, but Haszeldine’s call for Scotland’s moratorium on fracking to be extended across the UK was said to be particularly persuasive. He said: “It is a good result and a bold and brave decision by the councillors. They did what elected representatives should do.

The National 30th June 2015 read more »

Plans for a multibillion-pound fracking industry in Britain have suffered a huge setback after councillors defied their own legal advisers by rejecting an application for the first drilling site. Fracking companies immediately called for a change in the law to limit councils’ ability to block applications. Cuadrilla is “strongly considering” an appeal after Lancashire county council’s development control committee rejected its application to drill and hydraulically fracture up to four exploratory wells.

Times 30th June 2015 read more »

I used to think communism was the most damaging creed that could be foisted upon an economy. Following yesterday’s decision by Lancashire county council to reject a second planning application for fracking near Blackpool, I realise there is an even more destructive belief system: localism.

Times 30th June 2015 read more »

Be in no doubt, it is a seismic decision. Nine county councillors have defied the full-throated backing of David Cameron, well over £100m of spending from shale gas firm Cuadrilla and their own planning officers to reject plans for the UK’s first full-scale fracking. Cuadrilla are near certain to appeal, but the nascent fracking industry in the UK may never recover from this blow. Councillors around the country will feel emboldened to stand up to the intense national pressure to back fracking. In the future, this may well be seen as the day the fracking dream died. In the shorter term, the rejection is set to present an excruciating decision for Cameron’s government.

Guardian 29th June 2015 read more »

PROSPECTS for the shale gas industry in the UK have suffered a setback after plans for controversial drilling technique fracking were blocked at a site on the Fylde coast in Lancashire. Politicians in Scotland welcomed the decision to reject plans by energy firm Cuadrilla, which had wanted to frack and test the flow of gas following drilling at up to four exploration wells at a proposed site between Preston and Blackpool. However, an MSP warned that companies may attempt to target Scotland for fracking opportunities despite the Scottish Government imposing a moratorium on the drilling technique used for extracting oil or natural gas from deep underground. Labour’s energy spokesman Lewis Macdonald said developers may view Scotland as a “soft touch” for shale gas exploration after Deputy First Minister John Swinney said he wanted taxes from the process devolved to Holyrood. Mr Swinney said the Scottish Parliament should be handed powers to impose charges on drilling companies in a move he said was needed “purely for policy completeness” and not so Scotland could cash in on fracking.

Scotsman 30th June 2015 read more »

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Published: 30 June 2015