Apocalyptic predictions are circulating about the size of electricity bills in 2030 if the move to green power goes ahead. There is no need for them to come true. The UK’s energy policy is not “plausible” and a “crisis” is inevitable. That is the view of Peter Atherton, a respected utilities analyst who works for Liberum Capital, an investment bank in the City. Atherton is convinced that successive UK governments have grossly underestimated the engineering, financial and economic challenges posed by the planned move from a high-carbon electricity sector to a low-carbon one. Atherton is not the only one in the City asking difficult questions. Harold Hutchinson, a utilities analyst with Investec Securities, is also deeply sceptical about the UK’s nuclear strategy. The coalition has set much store on new nuclear but is balking at guaranteeing a price of over £100 per megawatt hour. Hutchinson points out that the last time nuclear was built in Britain there was the state-owned Central Electricity Generating Board to help. Similarly, the current list of newbuild projects in France, Finland and the Czech Republic all have the state as the major shareholder. This strategy is implausible. Any “crisis” stems from the government’s unwillingness to use the power of the state to ensure local companies build a network fit for tomorrow at a cost the consumer can bear. If David Cameron is looking for a patriotic mission to head off the Ukip surge, then instead of funding a futile war in Kabul, he could start ensuring domestic energy security through the proper funding of the new Green Investment Bank in Edinburgh.
Observer 5th May 2013 read more »
The energy department has lost its second top official in a matter of weeks, prompting claims that its ambitious plans to overhaul the country’s electricity system are in danger of falling apart. Ravi Gurumurthy, head of strategy at the department of energy and climate change, is resigning for unspecified reasons, according to people familiar with his move. The departure follows the recent resignation of Jonathan Brearley, head of energy markets and networks. The latest changes follow a series of moves at the top of DECC, beginning with the unexpected departure of Moira Wallace, i ts permanent secretary, in July. David Cameron, prime minister, then quashed the appointment of David Kennedy, the climate change expert chosen as her replacement, leaving the department headless until January, when Stephen Lovegrove, a former investment banker, was selected. Nick Turton, the department’s head of press, is also leaving in the summer.
FT 4th May 2013 read more »
At Scotland’s Dounreay site, 22 apprentices are learning the complex business of decommissioning a nuclear plant. Even when the five nuclear reactors have been dismantled, the youngsters will find their skills in demand across the world. Carol Robertson, apprentice training co-ordinator, said: “It is a traditional four-year technical apprenticeship and most of our recruits are school-leavers from the local area. The qualification is a combination of on-the-job training and college-based study. If they move out of this specialised industry, they tend to move into the oil industry but they are specialists in this field and could work anywhere in the world.”
Express 5th May 2013 read more »
Book: Nuclear Terrorism and Global Security: The Challenge of Phasing Out Highly Enriched Uranium. This book examines the prospects and challenges of a global phase-out of highly enriched uranium—and the risks of this material otherwise being used by terrorists to make atom bombs. Terrorist groups, such as Al Qaeda, have demonstrated repeatedly that they seek to acquire nuclear weapons. Unbeknownst even to many security specialists, tons of bomb-grade uranium are trafficked legally each year for ostensibly peaceful purposes. If terrorists obtained even a tiny fraction of this bomb-grade uranium they could potentially construct a nuclear weapon like the one dropped on Hiroshima that killed tens of thousands.
Routledge 4th April 2013 read more »
The core purpose of the NPT was security and the prevention of nuclear war, but the esoteric diplomacy of the current regime has become too far removed from the dangerous and messy world of today’s nuclear risks and ambitions. Rebecca Johnson reports at the close of the NPT meeting in Geneva.
Open Democracy 4th May 2013 read more »
On April 15, two alleged terrorists in Boston killed three people, injured more than 170 others and terrified a nation — for about $100 it cost them to modify pressure cookers into bombs. We should be glad they didn’t come to Japan, where they may have been able to explode a ready-made nuclear dirty bomb, kill untold thousands, render huge swaths of the country uninhabitable — and get paid by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) in the process. I wish I were kidding. Japan has more than 50 gigantic nuclear “pressure cookers” ripe for exploitation by terrorists. And they wouldn’t even have to lay siege to the facilities. Instead, they could just walk into a nuclear plant and leave with enough weapons-grade plutonium for a small atomic device — which later could be detonated wherever they chose. How? In Japan, getting access to a nuclear power plant is very simple: fill out a job application.
Japan Times 5th May 2013 read more »
A $22 billion dollar deal for a Japanese-French consortium to build Turkey’s second nuclear power plant. What could possibly go wrong? Let’s see, shall we? The French company contracted to help build the Turkish reactors is AREVA, which has a long, embarrassing history trying to build nuclear facilities. The prototype untried and untested next-generation European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) the company is building at Olkiluoto in Finland is currently seven years late, at least 3.6 billion euros over budget, and inundated with safety and construction problems. The EPR being built by EDF at Flamanville in France is five years late, its cost has rocketed 3 billion euros to 8.6 billion (leading to major partner in the project Enel pulling out), and it too has suffered the same safety and construction problems as its sibling in Finland.
Greenpeace International 4th May 2013 read more »
Duke Energy’s cancellation yesterday of licensing efforts to build two nuclear reactors at subsidiary Progress Energy’s Harris nuclear plant is good news – but it comes with a taint. The Shearon Harris failure perfectly typifies why the US nuclear “renaissance” is making global warming worse. It is tragic that, against our vigorous warnings, Duke-Progress threw away eight years and $70 million – while blocking widespread advances in energy-saving programs, solar and wind, and combined heat and power, which together could allow phase-out of all fossil-fueled power in the Carolinas and help avoid the soaring electricity rates that are hammering families, small businesses and local governments.
NCWarn 3rd May 2013 read more »
The debate over costs is over. Solar power won. Nuclear power lost. If your utility wants to own a new power plant, a utility-grade solar farm is a better deal than a new nuclear power plant. Perhaps that’s why Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is building the world’s largest solar farm and not a new nuclear power plant.
The Street 4th May 2013 read more »
Leading health experts are urging the government to take action against the growing threat that mosquito-borne diseases, including potentially fatal malaria, could soon arrive in the UK. The disturbing recommendation to “act now before it is too late” is being made as a growing body of evidence indicates that what were once thought of as tropical diseases are being found ever closer to the UK. Health experts meeting at the annual public health conference of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health later this week will hear that rising incidences of a growing list of pest-borne diseases are now a “serious” cause for concern in the UK. The conference will be told that it would be complacent to think that diseases such as dengue fever, malaria and Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, now present on the European continent but once considered “exotic and confined to faraway places”, will not emerge in the UK.
Observer 5th May 2013 read more »