30 October 2016

Hinkley

Taxpayers will pick up the bill should the cost of storing radioactive waste produced by Britain’s newest nuclear power station soar, according to confidential documents which the government has battled to keep secret for more than a year. The papers confirm the steps the government took to reassure French energy firm EDF and Chinese investors behind the £24bn Hinkley Point C plant that the amount they would have to pay for the storage would be capped. The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy – in its previous incarnation as the Department for Energy and Climate Change – resisted repeated requests under the Freedom of Information Act for the release of the documents which were submitted to the European commission. “The government has attempted to keep the costs to the taxpayer of Hinkley under wraps from the start,” said Dr Doug Parr, Greenpeace chief scientist. “It’s hardly surprising as it doesn’t look good for the government’s claim that they are trying to keep costs down for hardworking families.” on the very last day before government officials had to submit their defence against an appeal for disclosure of the information, the department released a “Nuclear Waste Transfer Pricing Methodology Notification Paper”. Marked “commercial in confidence”, it states that “unlimited exposure to risks relating to the costs of disposing of their waste in a GDF [geological disposal facility], could not be accepted by the operator as they would prevent the operator from securing the finance necessary to undertake the project”. Instead the document explains that there will be a “cap on the liability of the operator of the nuclear power station which would apply in a worst-case scenario”. It adds: “The UK government accepts that, in setting a cap, the residual risk, of the very worst-case scenarios where actual cost might exceed the cap, is being borne by the government.” Separate documents confirm that the cap also applies should the cost of decommissioning the reactor at the end of its life balloon. The level of the cap is unclear. But Dr David Lowry, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Resource and Security Studies in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who made the FoI request, said it was clear that the risk of footing the bill for a significant cost overrun had been transferred from Hinkley’s operator to the taxpayer.

Observer 30th Oct 2016 read more »

Moorside

Last night supporters of a Radiation Free Lakeland went along to the meeting called by Power without Pylons. The meeting at the pretty village of Broughton in Furness was attended by a whole host of people who have been given the green light by the great and the good to vehemently oppose the Pylons while ignoring the Main Event. We stood outside and leafletted – many people nodding in agreement at the sight of the nuclear waste barrel – the lasting legacy product of nuclear power.

Radiation Free Lakeland 29th Oct 2016 read more »

Engie

French gas and power group Engie will keep nuclear energy as part of its strategy but there is less room for it now and further investments in nuclear will depend on regulation and economics, the company’s CEO said on Wednesday. Engie, a market leader in French gas and a challenge to EDF in French power, operates seven nuclear reactors in Belgium and has nuclear newbuild projects in Britain and Turkey. “Nuclear is and will remain an important element of our strategy,” Engie Chief Executive Officer Isabelle Kocher told reporters in reply to questions on Wednesday. She added there was less room now for nuclear power than there was 20 years ago as other technologies had emerged and were increasingly competitive. She said that in some cases it is better to install renewables with batteries, but that in some countries nuclear will probably remain necessary in the energy mix. Engie has a 40 percent stake in the Toshiba-led NuGen consortium to build three Westinghouse nuclear reactors in Britain. It is also part of a consortium to build a nuclear plant in Turkey. Kocher said Engie was far from taking investment decisions on its British and Turkish projects. “We expect 2018 for the UK and later for Turkey, but we may know this sooner if it becomes clear that the regulatory context and market environment are not favourable,” she said.

Reuters 26th Oct 2016 read more »

Dounreay

North firm John MacLean and Sons Electrical (Dingwall) shut its Wick site with the loss of eight jobs months after being taken over by a US company. The wholesale electrical supply company said it had closed its branch in the Caithness town and put its premises up for sale following a downturn in work at the former Dounreay nuclear power station. Nine staff were employed at the Wick facility, which was shut after a consultation period with the workers during March and April this year.

Press & Journal 28th Oct 2016 read more »

Japan

The safety and regulation of the Japanese nuclear fleet is called into serious question by the discovery of Japanese-manufactured flawed steel components installed in operating French nuclear reactors forced to shut down last week by the French nuclear safety regulator ASN, according to a new Greenpeace report. The threat to nuclear reactor safety in Japan is due to the supply of steel components to the nuclear industry from both Japan Casting and Forging Company (JCFC) and the Japan Steel Works (JSW), according to the technical report (http://bit.ly/2eMqJMm) released today by Greenpeace Japan, by the nuclear engineering consultancy, Large&Associates of London. Evidence of astonishingly high levels of excess carbon far outside regulatory limits with the associated loss of steel toughness and significant increase in the risk of catastrophic failure of primary containment components, have been discovered in JCFC-manufactured components installed in steam generators in 12 reactors owned by the French state-utility, EdF. The independent French nuclear agency, IRSN, recently warned that due to the excess carbon content, there was an increased risk of failure of the affected steam generator leading to a potential reactor core meltdown.

Fukushima 311 27th Oct 2016 read more »

China

Steve Thomas: For China’s nuclear industry, 2016 has been a frustrating year. So far, construction has started on only one new plant, and its target of bringing 58 gigawatts of nuclear capacity in service by 2020 seems impossible to meet. China has had little export success so far. In part, this is because there are fewer markets open to new nuclear. Such markets are typically found in developing countries where the financial risks are greater, and where governments have tried and failed to launch nuclear power programs themselves. It seems clear there is a political element to the Chinese nuclear export strategy, which is to gain influence and leverage in the importing countries. However, if the world nuclear market does not pick up soon, the Chinese government may decide to put its formidable resources behind other technologies that would develop influence with less economic risk. If China’s nuclear home market is not flourishing, this decision will be much easier.

The Diplomat 29th Oct 2016 read more »

Disarmament

Rebecca Johnson: On 27 October, the UN General Assembly’s Disarmament and Security Committee voted for negotiations in 2017 on a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons, with momentous consequences for Trident renewal. In accordance with past experience, ranging from the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the Mine Ban Treaty, and the Cluster Munitions Convention, among others, the UK’s attempts to prevent negotiations going ahead will soon make way for tactics to derail, dismiss, obstruct and undermine a constructive outcome. When a nuclear prohibition treaty is concluded, however, the UK will soon sign, though without much enthusiasm, and try and save whatever they can from the Trident fiasco. And in a few years UK politicians and diplomats will probably take credit for the treaty as a long-standing British objective.

Open Democracy 29th Oct 2016 read more »

Renewables – tidal

The green energy entrepreneur seeking to build the world’s first tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay has claimed it is “inconceivable” that an independent review will not back his project. Mark Shorrock, chief executive of Tidal Lagoon Power, is awaiting the results of a six-month assessment of his plan, led by Charles Hendry, the former energy minister. Mr Hendry is due to report to ministers by next week on the strategic case for tidal lagoons and “whether they could play a cost effective role as part of the UK energy mix”. Mr Shorrock said: “It is inconceivable he would say ‘no’.” The £1.3bn Swansea project would involve building a six-mile, horseshoe-shaped breakwater with turbines to harness the power of the tides. Despite early enthusiasm from Government, the plan, which would depend on subsidies from energy bill-payers, has foundered amid concerns over its cost. But Mr Shorrock said he believed Mr Hendry had accepted the case that Swansea was a prototype for a series of larger lagoons that would be cheaper.

Telegraph 29th Oct 2016 read more »

Local Energy

Take some inspiration from the tiny communities around the world that are taking the fight against climate change seriously, sluggish politicians and pessimistic couch potatoes be damned. When the rest of us just can’t even, these little towns could —and did. Greensburg, Kansas — the town that was flattened by a devastating tornado in 2007 — rebuilt itself to run on 100 percent renewable energy. It’s only the second U.S. city to do so after Burlington, Vermont.

Grist 26th Oct 2016 read more »

Renewables

US scientists have found a new way to generate energy at home: the tribo-electric floor. Tread on it and it will convert the kinetic energy of a footstep into a current of electricity. And it’s made from the waste wood pulp that already serves as cheap flooring throughout the world. Xudong Wang, an engineer and materials scientist, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and colleagues report in the journal Nano Energy that they have taken cellulose fibres from forest waste material and chemically treated them in a way that creates an electric charge when they come into contact with untreated wood pulp fibres. The result: a patented, tribo-electric nanogenerator floor covering that can harness the energy of any footfall, and turn it into electric current that could light up a room or charge a battery.

Climate News Network 29th Oct 2016 read more »

Microgeneration

This week’s Micro Power News: includes news of Gloucester cathedral going solar; Swansea community solar project; Wales’ first solar powered village; crowd funded solar project at SOAS.

Microgen Scotland 28th Oct 2016 read more »

Fossil Fuels

Britain’s leading shale gas explorer Cuadrilla Resources has reported widened losses of almost $18m (£15m) for 2015 as it counts the costs of another year waiting to get fracking approval. The energy company has spent almost three years seeking permission to frack in Lancashire and hopes to finally start drilling next year after getting the green light for one of its sites earlier this month. Currently it has no oil and gas production, so virtually no income.

Telegraph 29th Oct 2016 read more »

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Published: 30 October 2016