In West Cumbria we already host Sellafield, one of the most hazardous sites in the world. It is now proposed that three new nuclear power plants are to be built next door at Moorside and the threat of a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) being imposed on us still remains. On Wednesday 11 March at 7.30 Arnie Gunderson and Ian Fairlie, two internationally respected authorities on the nuclear industry, will be speaking at the Skiddaw Hotel about the Moorside project and the Waste Isolation Pilot Project near Carlsbad in New Mexico, which is very relevant to Cumbrians as it is the only GDF currently in operation anywhere in the world. It has had its problems with canisters containing waste exploding and roofs collapsing.
Radiation Free Lakeland 7th March 2015 read more »
Defence Nuclear Safety
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is struggling to recruit enough skilled engineers to keep its nuclear bombs and submarines safe, according to a new report from its internal watchdog. The Defence Nuclear Safety Regulator (DNSR) is warning that the shortage of suitably qualified nuclear staff is “the principal threat to the maintenance of safety in the Defence Nuclear Programme”. This is “a long standing issue” that could impede major developments, it says.
Sunday Herald 8th March 2015 read more »
A top-secret £634 million project vital for renewing the Trident nuclear weapons system has been halted following design and management difficulties, according to the government’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR). This could undermine the UK government’s entire plan to replace Trident, say critics. They are demanding investigations by the National Audit Office and by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The MoD insisted that work towards replacing Trident was continuing, though it was being kept “under close review”. Insiders, however, have claimed that key projects are faltering and could be cancelled. Since 2013 the private consortium that runs the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) for the MoD has been building a plant, codenamed Pegasus, to make enriched uranium components for nuclear warheads and fuel for nuclear submarines based on the Clyde. But in response to a freedom of information request, ONR has revealed that Pegasus – named after a fabled flying horse – has been grounded. “AWE has placed the Pegasus project on-hold and is currently re-assessing requirements for project delivery”, said ONR. A “revised scope and delivery schedule” was now awaited.
Sunday Herald 8th March 2015 read more »
Future nuclear power plant development in the U.S. looks dismal as cost overruns and multiyear delays plague four new reactors under construction in Georgia and South Carolina. Southern Co. , the Atlanta-based power utility that dominates much of the Southeastern U.S., recently told Georgia regulators that costs have ballooned by $1.4 billion for its minority stake in the Vogtle nuclear power plant expansion in Waynesboro, Ga. The company’s Georgia Power utility is now on the hook to spend $7.5 billion for its 46% share, while municipal utilities own the rest. The company’s disclosure shines a light on a persistent industry problem. What was once seen as a major strength of new nuclear reactor designs—a streamlined construction method —is now proving to be an Achilles’ heel. As Southern and another utility, Scana Corp. , try to add new nuclear power to the U.S. electrical grid, the companies have struggled to get critical components built. One big hang-up: obtaining large equipment modules in a timely fashion from Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. , which has a huge fabrication facility in Lake Charles, La. CB&I says it is doing its best amid engineering changes. It has delivered more than 400 modules to the two utilities for the four reactors. But Scana recently told regulators in South Carolina that deliveries of some key components for its V.C. Summer nuclear power plant expansion near Jenkinsville, S.C., are more than two years behind schedule. A series of delays have pushed back project completion dates as much as three years, to as late as 2020. The construction method CB&I uses for the Westinghouse-designed reactors was a major selling point for the projects. The concept was to build large structural sections of each nuclear reactor in a central facility and then haul them to plant sites for final assembly. The new technique was heralded as a way to eliminate the delays and cost overruns that hurt the nuclear industry’s expansion 30 years ago. But fabrication has proved more difficult than expected, said Jeff Lyash, president of CB&I’s power business, in an interview last fall. Projects that are the first of their kind are often challenging, he added. Before the 2008 recession, U.S. utilities were planning to build more than a dozen Westinghouse nuclear reactors, but energy prices collapsed and power demand fell, stymieing most projects. Further expansion, experts say, hinges on the success of these current projects.
Wall Street Journal 5th March 2015 read more »
Still big gaps in Iranian nuclear deal talks.
Scotsman 8th March 2015 read more »
How a US-Iran nuclear deal might transform the balance of power in the Middle East. Israel and the Arab powers could respond by escalating their proxy wars against Iran.
Telegraph 7th March 2015 read more »
Last week, a report publishing research conducted by a consortium of 9 UK universities, and co-authored by CIED researcher, Dr Victoria Johnson argued that up to 50 per cent of electricity demand in the UK could be met by distributed and low carbon sources by 2050. “Distributing Power: A transition to a civic energy future” published by the EPSRC-funded Realising Transition Pathways Research Consortium assesses the technological feasibility of a move from the current traditional business models of the ‘Big Six’ energy providers to a model where greater ownership is met by the civic energy sector. It also goes further by questioning what types of governance, ownership and control a distributed future would need. Despite an unfavourable policy environment, there is growing interest in the potential of distributed energy systems from a range of stakeholders: the devolved governments, municipalities, and communities. Although market penetration remains low, the number of decentralised generation schemes is growing. But activity is neither coherent nor well-co-ordinated. In the her blog post, for policy@Manchester, Victoria describes some of the key findings from Distributing Power and highlights that a major driver for this transition would be a step change in the role of the civic energy sector (communities, co-operatives, local authorities, town and parish councils, social housing providers) through participation in, and ownership of, electricity generation schemes.
Sussex Energy Group 7th March 2015 read more »
The public will be invited to invest in new interest-bearing premium bonds which will specifically fund billions of pounds of investment in solar, wind and other forms of clean energy, if Labour forms the next government. Shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint said the time had come to involve the public and local communities in financing and backing new green energy projects – as happens in Germany – in a way that would benefit the environment and give people an attractive financial return. If Labour wins power, Flint says she will ask the Green Investment Bank – set up by the coalition to fund green investment – to oversee the management of new “green bonds”, which experts believes would yield far higher rates of return t han many traditional methods of saving.
Observer 8th March 2015 read more »
Technical problems and delays mean the Government’s target of installating of “smart” electricity and gas meters in every home by 2020 is likely to be missed, energy select committee warns.
Telegraph 7th March 2015 read more »
Naomi Klein: I have begun to understand how climate change – if treated as a true planetary emergency akin to those rising flood waters – could become a galvanising force for humanity, leaving us all not just safer from extreme weather, but with societies that are safer and fairer in all kinds of other ways as well. The resources required to rapidly move away from fossil fuels and prepare for the coming heavy weather could pull huge swaths of humanity out of poverty, providing services now sorely lacking, from clean water to electricity, and on a model that is more democratic and less centralized than the models of the past. This is a vision of the future that goes beyond just surviving or enduring climate change, beyond “mitigating” and “adapting” to it in the grim language of the United Nations. It is a vision in which we collectively use the crisis to leap somewhere that seems, frankly, better than where we are right now.
Guardian 6th March 2015 read more »
Pledges at this year’s climate summit to cut carbon emissions are likely to fall far short of the targets needed to avoid heating the planet by more than 2C. That is the stark conclusion of a report by a team led by British economist Nicholas Stern. The group, based at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, concludes that action planned by countries – in particular the European Union, the US and China – will still leave the world emitting 10bn tonnes of carbon a year in excess of levels needed to prevent global warming from having devastating consequences.
Observer 7th March 2015 read more »
Thousands of climate change activists marched on the Houses of Parliament yesterday to urge politicians to start taking global warming seriously. The march, called “Time to Act”, was designed to increase support for action ahead of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris in November. Organisers said that 20,000 people turned out, but other estimates put the crowd at about 5,000.
Independent 8th March 2015 read more »