30 May 2013

Radwaste

TOXIC radioactive waste from across the country could be stored and treated at Hinkley Point A under proposals drawn up by the Government. But despite the highly contentious nature of the plans, neither West Somerset Council, Stogursey residents or Sedgemoor District Council have been directly asked for their views. The Government quango the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency (NDA) has published “credible options” for intermediate waste disposal and the treatment of fuel element debris, which district councillors said they had only discovered by chance this week. The NDA is looking to reduce costs by minimising the number of sites dealing with waste treatment and storage from decommissioned nuclear power station sites run by its contractor Magnox. A long list of 22 options for the storage of intermediate waste has already been whittled down to eight options, with one involving the transport of such waste from Dungeness in Kent to Hinkley Point. The long list for the treatment of fuel element debris originally stood at 14, but has been reduced to nine options, four of which involve Hinkley A taking on waste from either Sizewell A in Suffolk or Oldbury in Gloucestershire or from both.

West Somerset Free Press 24th May 2013 read more »

Nuclear Subsidy

How far should the state subsidise the energy sector? It’s an increasingly vexed question, bringing in as it does matters of fiscal, environmental, business and social policy — subsidy directly affects the amount that we all pay for electricity and gas. It’s a highly relevant argument as well. Just this week Centrica, the owner of British Gas, threatened to pull out of a £2bn project to build a 580MW wind farm 16 miles off the Norfolk coast unless the government guaranteed that it would receive a power price reportedly three times higher than the current market value. Similarly, EdF is haggling over the guaranteed price it will receive for electricity from its planned new nuclear power stations at Hinkley Point and Sizewell, and Horizon Nuclear Energy, owned by Hitachi, will doubtless also be coming to the negotiating table with similar demands to guarantee a return on its planned investment in reactors at Wylfa and Oldbury.

The Engineer 29th May 2013 read more »

New Hinkley Point station bogged down in wrangles as ‘energy gap’ widens and bills increase. Failure to agree terms with the government and the struggle to find investors means EDF Energy may not begin construction of its new nuclear power plants until the autumn. Even when the government finally settles the price dispute, before construction goes ahead, EDF still has to secure the financial backing of a co-investor in the project before construction can begin. Centrica – owner of British Gas – had pledged to invest 20% of the expected £15billion installation costs but pulled out in February. EDF is said to be in discussions with Chinese state-owned nuclear company CGNPC, but needs to settle the ‘strike price’ before any deal can be signed. EDF is also struggling with high levels of corporate debt, which experts believe puts the construction of Hinkley Point C under greater threat.

Energy Choices 29th May 2013 read more »

Torness

EDF’s Torness nuclear power station is coming back online after seaweed shut off two reactors late last week. The two units had to be taken out of service for three and a half days as high seaweed levels in the Forth Estuary threatened to clog the plant’s cooling system. The rising plantlife was attributed to severe weather and rough seas in the area. Unit two came back into service at 6:30am and unit one is expected to follow shortly.

Utility Week 29th May 2013 read more »

Opinion Poll

More people back subsidies for new nuclear power plants – including one at Wylfa on Anglesey – in the UK than are opposed to them, a poll has revealed. More than two-fifths (43%) think the Government should subsidise the construction of new reactors, compared to 28% who do not back the idea, the survey of more than 2,000 people showed.

Daily Post 29th May 2013 read more »

Hinkley

The government’s nascent nuclear new build programme suffered a fresh blow this week after it emerged that Greenpeace has launched a legal challenge against EDF’s £10bn Hinkley nuclear project. The challenge is against the government’s decision to grant planning permission for the new Hinkley Point nuclear power plant on the grounds the government has yet to secure a site to store the plant’s nuclear waste. If the application for judicial review is granted, the project could be hit by months if not years of legal wrangling as the case is heard in court.

Building 30th May 2013 read more »

More people back subsidies for new nuclear power plants in the UK than are opposed to them, a poll has revealed. More than two-fifths (43 per cent) think the Government should subsidise the construction of new reactors, compared to 28 per cent who do not back the idea, the survey of more than 2,000 people showed.

South West Business 29th May 2013 read more »

Wylfa

A MAJOR step forward in making Wylfa B a reality has been taken, as design work on the nuclear reactor starts. Horizon, which was bought by Hitachi of Japan in November 2012, plans to build between four and six Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWRs) in the UK at its sites at Wylfa and Oldbury, Gloucestershire. The units would be the first commercial boiling water reactors in the country. Hitachi-GE – 80% owned by Hitachi and 20% by GE – is the technology provider and has now been contracted to perform front-end engineering and design work for the proposed Wylfa plant.

Daily Post 29th May 2013 read more »

Dungeness

Wildlife charity the RSPB warned today that the proposed expansion of Lydd Airport was fundamentally flawed. It was announced yesterday that Lydd Airport Action Group was mounting a legal challenge to the decision to approve plans to extend the runway and build a new terminal for around half a million passengers each year. The RSPB has now joined the fight, saying it is also appealing the decision, which was given the go ahead in April by by Eric Pickles, the communities and local government secretary, and Patrick McLoughlin, the transport secretary.

Kent Online 28th May 2013 read more »

Aldermaston

The Atomic Weapons Establishment, which makes and maintains warheads for the UK’s Trident nuclear deterrent, has been ordered to pay more than £280,000 for putting employees at a site in Berkshire at risk, the Health and Safety Executive has said.

Professional Engineering 29th May 2013 read more »

Nuclear Skills

The £7 million Construction Skills Centre at Lakes College is being delivered on schedule and on budget. The building itself has been completed but is still being fitted out in readiness for the first cohort of students in September. It will provide modern teaching spaces and workshops for up to 600 students initially. Britain’s Energy Coast has, through funders Nuclear Management Partners, invested £4 million in the centre. Britain’s Energy Coast Campus has provided a further £2 million through its funders Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. Lakes College will invest £1 million in new equipment and facilities. The skills centre has been billed as a crucial investment in the future of young people in West Cumbria, which is set for a number of major construction projects in the coming years.

NW Evening Mail 24th May 2013 read more »

Plutonium

All countries that use nuclear power face the problem of how to dispose of their hazardous waste. In addition to the highly radioactive fission products at its Sellafield nuclear installation, the UK has accumulated 112 tonnes of plutonium, separated from spent power reactor fuel and stored as weapons-ready oxide powder. This, according to calculations by the International Atomic Energy Agency, is enough to make 10,000 nuclear weapons. The British government spends billions guarding this stockpile against theft by terrorists. Getting rid of it could be as simple as converting that plutonium into reactor fuel and burning it in new light water nuclear reactors. Known as the MOX process – named for the “mixed oxide” plutonium-uranium ceramic fuel that would be burned inside the reactor.

New Scientist 29th May 2013 read more »

Thorium

Why use uranium as the nuclear fuel of choice when another fuel offers the same emissions-free energy without the danger? That’s the argument made by proponents of thorium reactors. They claim that thorium can provide nearly unlimited clean energy without generating long-lived waste or reprocessing dangers. Perhaps because of this promise, India’s future nuclear programme will rely heavily on thorium, and recently China has also joined this race.

New Scientist 29th May 2013 read more »

Utilities

Fresh attempts to crack down on alleged abuse by energy companies were underway last night with the UK government announcing plans to end a £900m “windfall” tax scheme, and a further inquiry into BP over possible fuel price fixing in Spain. In the middle of a series of existing investigations into alleged petrol and gas price manipulation by regulators, the chancellor, George Osborne accused gas and electricity distributors of trying to game the tax system. The Exchequer claims that energy distributors have only recently started to try to claim “windfall” capital allowances for costs dating back decades. The draft legislation, introduced yesterday, will form part of the current Finance Bill but will be acted on by the tax authorities with immediate effect. It is only a matter of weeks since some of the big six companies such as RWE npower admitted to a House of Commons select committee that they had paid almost no tax and yet made huge profits from recent earnings. The energy companies claim that this is because they are investing billions of pounds on new power plants which can be legitimately “written off” against capital allowances.

Guardian 29th May 2013 read more »

Japan

Fukushima crisis update 23rd to 28th May. TEPCO is reportedly suffering significant staff shortages at its crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, raising concerns that the utility will not be able to handle decommissioning of the plant—which has not even officially begun—in the coming decades.

Greenpeace 29th May 2013 read more »

The Nuclear Regulation Authority on Thursday handed the Japan Atomic Energy Agency an official notice prohibiting restart of the company’s Monju fast-breeder nuclear reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture. The written order was handed to JAEA executive vice president Yonezo Tsujikura, instructing the company to improve its safety measures. The trouble-plagued next-generation test reactor has been cited for numerous safety violations.

Japan Today 30th May 2013 read more »

Czech Republic

Czech government parties clashed over a $10 billion project to build new nuclear reactors as the plan pit the finance minister against the prime minister. The expansion of the Temelin nuclear power plant is becoming a focus of political disputes one year before general elections after Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said he has doubts the project is an “efficient” investment. Premier Petr Necas likened Kalousek’s comments to those of an “accountant”failing to address long-term strategy.

Bloomberg 24th May 2013 read more »

UAE

Emirates Nuclear Energy (ENEC) has begun work on the second nuclear reactor at the proposed $20bn power plant in Barakah, Al Gharbia, UAE. In July 2012, ENEC secured license from the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation of the UAE to construct two nuclear power reactor units at the Barakah plant. Construction on the first nuclear reactor started in 2012 and is expected to be completed in 2017.

Energy Business Review 29th May 2013 read more »

North Korea

North Korea vowed on Wednesday to tighten its hold on its “priceless” nuclear deterrent, confounding reports that it might be willing to resume multilateral talks on denuclearisation.

Telegraph 29th May 2013 read more »

South Korea

South Korea’s shutdown of two more atomic power plants because of safety concerns could hardly be worse news for the country’s nuclear energy industry, coming as Seoul struggles to increase nuclear exports to developing countries. The government this week suspended operations at two nuclear reactors found to be using control cables whose safety certificates were faked. It also extended a shutdown of a third nuclear reactor to replace cables for similar problems. The decision means 10 of the country’s 23 nuclear power plants will be offline.

FT 29th May 2013 read more »

Shares in Korea Electric Power have fallen to their lowest level in more than five months after two more of its nuclear plants were shut over the use of unauthorised parts.

BBC 29th May 2013 read more »

Trident

Around 1,600 people packed in to hear Dr Blix deliver what proved to be political dynamite. His answers to questions the more so. Dr Blix is speaking his mind and his strong and vibrant heart. At 84, he is seemingly unchanged from the man in his seventies whom I accompanied on some of his searches for WMD in Iraq. If Britain and America had listened to this man, we would never have invaded and dismantled Iraq. Dr Blix talks with huge experience and authority about nuclear weapons. His most explosive statements centred on Britain’s plan, in an age of austerity, to spend vast billions on replacing Trident with a new “nuclear deterrent”. From a peace and security perspective he described it as “a completely pointless exercise”.

Channel 4 28th May 2013 read more »

Thousands of jobs could be at risk if the Liberal Democrats win their battle to replace the Trident nuclear weapons system with a scaled-down version, defence officials have warned. Ministers are preparing to release the results of a Whitehall review into Britain’s deterrent, which will say that money could be saved by reducing the number of nuclear submarines from four to three or two.

FT 29th May 2013 read more »

Energy Efficiency

The number of homeowners insulating their walls has crashed this year, according to new data that places fresh pressure on the government to make a success of its flagship energy efficiency Green Deal programme. According to figures from the Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency (CIGA), the number of homes installing cavity wall insulation fell to just over 1,000 last month, compared to nearly 40,000 in April 2012.

Business Green 29th May 2013 read more »

Luciana Berger, the shadow minister for climate change, said: “This staggering collapse in the number of energy-efficiency installations is a disaster for our economy and a body blow for hundreds of small businesses across the country. This is all the more damaging when there are at least 5.8m homes in the UK that still need cavity wall insulation, according to the government’s own estimates.”

Guardian 29th May 2013 read more »

Climate

Tim Yeo, the Tory MP pushing to make Britain’s electricity supply almost entirely green, provoked surprise after suggesting that “natural phases” may be partly to blame for global warming. “Although I think the evidence that the climate is changing is now overwhelming, the causes are not absolutely clear,” Mr Yeo told a gathering of Russian investors, according to the The Daily Telegraph. “There could be natural causes, natural phases that are taking place.”

Independent 29th May 2013 read more »

Telegraph 29th May 2013 read more »

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Published: 30 May 2013
Last updated: 1 June 2013