The Welsh Government has agreed to look again at its policy on nuclear waste disposal after a plea by Anglesey’s Assembly Member. It follows concerns voiced by the island’s AM last month that Anglesey could become a “dumping ground” for the disposal of nuclear waste from across the British isles. The UK Government is currently looking for communities to come forward and ”‘volunteer themselves” as potential sites, but Anglesey Council has already stated in no uncertain terms that it has no interest whatsoever in such a plan, despite promised economic benefits for any communities that do so. A meeting is due to take place on the island in September where the UK Government will outline its procedure in finding a solution to Britain’s long-term nuclear waste disposal problem. The Welsh Government’s current policy on the matter is to is neither to support nor object the burial of radioactive waste. But last Tuesday, hours before a planned question on the matter during First Minister’s Questions, the Welsh Government’s Minister for Natural Resources and Food released a statement outlining that this policy could soon change. The Welsh Government is now seeking suggestion from the public on what their position should be. During the session in the Senedd later that day, Anglesey AM Rhun ap Iorwerth sought further assurances that the Welsh Government would oppose proposals to store such waste. First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “We are not in favour of any importing of waste into Wales. We are not in favour of any burial of such waste. We want to ensure that the position that has existed so far continues, namely that the waste goes to Sellafield. We do not intend to change that, and neither does the UK Government from what we can see.”
Daily Post 7th May 2014 read more »
The proposed contract between EDF and the UK government to build one or two new nuclear power stations, the first of which will be at Hinkley Point, is likely to run into legal difficulties, especially at EU level, and to require renegotiation. Those difficulties are largely the result of the proposed contract being too favourable to EDF. Renegotiation is therefore in the interest not only of the UK government but also of EDF itself, since otherwise EDF might find that it cannot protect its investment and might find itself holding some very large stranded assets. As part of that renegotiation, the government should address the problem that in the course of very long term contracts, not only technological, economic and political conditions are likely to change but also very legal environment on which the contracts depend. It should also address the problem that such contracts, when legally binding, restrict the ability of future parliaments to influence policy, so that excluding parliament from decisions to make them is highly questionable.
Prof Simon Deakin 6th May 2014 read more »
Lib Dem energy secretary Ed Davey asserts in an interview published in this month’s Total Politics (“All hands on DECC: Ed Davey interview”, “One great thing about renewables, about nuclear, about energy efficiency, is you don’t have to import them. They are home-grown. They provide jobs. And you’re secure.” This statement if far from being true. Currently wind powermachines and solarphotovoltaic cells are imported, although in both cases the wind and solar energy are free and indigenous. But nuclear power technology and fuel is almost 100% foreign, and very insecure.
David Lowry 7th May 2014 read more »
The closure plans for the Dounreay nuclear site in Scotland are being revised to incorporate significant additional work associated with the transfer of nuclear fuels from Dounreay to the Sellafield site (approximately 300 miles away) in Cumbria. The changes will ‘integrate the fuel handling and transfer into a prioritised and optimised life time plan’ that will minimise additional cost whilst retaining a focus on hazard reduction, according to Dounreay Site Restoration Limited (DSRL), which briefed its staff on the approach being taken today. Around one hundred tonnes of plutonium and uranium fuel have been accumulated at the Dounreay site, which was inherited by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) in 2005. Original plans envisaged long-term storage of the material at Dounreay, but last year NDA took the decision to move the fuel to Sellafield to consolidate a UK fuel stock. “Removing the requirement to modernise the stores at Dounreay and replacing it with a programme to transfer the fuel to Sellafield starting this year removes both the modernisation costs from the later years of the decommissioning programme and substantial security costs from long-term care and maintenance of the site, but does require significant preparation and handling operations, and will add transport and associated security costs in the next few years of the decommissioning programme,” explains Dounreay managing director Mark Rouse.
Nuclear Engineering International 6th May 2014 read more »
Radiation Free Lakeland will be at Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s ‘Beached Art’ event to hand out leaflets and place over 40 ‘radioactive’ pebbles on the beach. The ‘radioactive’ pebbles will symbolise the increasing numbers of radioactive particles brought onto St Bees beach with every tide as a result of historic discharges and also the increased reprocessing activity at Sellafield.
Radiation Free Lakeland 7th May 2014 read more »
Following a rigorous assessment period, EXO water quality monitoring sondes from Xylem Analytics are being deployed in what is arguably one of the most hostile environments imaginable – nuclear waste legacy storage ponds at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing site in Cumbria, UK. One of the major challenges facing Sellafield Ltd is the safe decommissioning of the First Generation Magnox Storage Pond (FGMSP), a nuclear fuel storage facility that was originally built in the 1950s and 1960s as part of the UK’s expanding nuclear programme to receive and store, cool irradiated Magnox fuel prior to reprocessing.
Edie 6th May 2014 read more »
“BEWARE: WILD ROBOTS AHEAD” reads the sign on the cage. Inside, a hexacopter – a drone with six rotors – hovers menacingly. A quadcopter – with four – rests on the ground. They aren’t really wild robots, of course, and the test arena isn’t much of an ecosystem, but the quadcopter in particular has a rather special skill: it can build its own nest out of foam. In effect, it’s the world’s first flying 3D printer. One day such drones might work together to help remove waste from nuclear sites or help patch up damaged buildings.
New Scientist 7th May 2014 read more »
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) granted a license for Areva’s NUHOMS MP197HB Transport Package, which allows for the safe transport of high burnup used nuclear fuel.
Energy Business Review 7th May 2014 read more »
The next General Election is just a year away. What will be the energy issues on the table and who will be debating them? Will the Lib Dems still be in existence or will they, after an uninspiring role in government, implode and leave a simple choice between Labour and the Conservatives? Or will they, as the deep and principled people we have grown to love, simply switch sides? Could we have a new Lib-Lab coalition? So what will these mean for the energy industry? Labour’s last policy review document says it will abolish Ofgem and create a ‘tough new energy watchdog’ with the power to force energy companies to pass on price cuts when wholesale costs fall. It also proposes setting up an ‘Energy Security Board’ to plan for and deliver the UK’s energy needs. Labour is thinking of creating an organisation to act as a ‘guiding mind’ for energy policy decisions – known as an ‘energy security board’ – to bring in ‘to referee the big energy wrestling match’.
IGov 7th May 2014 read more »
Davey: this coalition has “without a doubt” been the greenest government ever. But there’s a caveat. “That’s significantly down to the Liberal Democrats’ role in the government,” he adds, pointing to a doubling of renewable energy usage since 2010 and the UK’s “world-leading” role in offshore wind. “We had a target in the past of producing 30% of our electricity by 2020 from renewables. I think we’re going to beat that and it’s not often a minister can actually say, ‘we’ve not only got a target but we’re quite confident we’re going to beat it.’ That’s a measure of the success. We’ve taken the green agenda further than any government, and no one seriously thinks that would have happened if the Liberal Democrats hadn’t been in power.” “One great thing about renewables, about nuclear, about energy efficiency, is you don’t have to import them. They are home-grown. They provide jobs. And you’re secure,” he argues, calling for “a European strategy, and then global strategy, to say to the Russians, ‘we don’t necessarily need your oil and gas guys, we’re not going to sit here waiting for you. If you are going to try to throw your weight around we’ll go on without you.’”
Total Politics 25th April 2014 read more »
House Armed Services Committee Republicans are looking to block the Obama administration from continuing nuclear security work in Russia until the Ukraine crisis has been resolved. Draft defense authorization bill language released on Monday would bar the use of fiscal 2015 funds by the Energy Department’s nuclear security arm “for any contract, cooperation, or transfer of technology” between the United States and Russia, pending specific action by the administration. For the release of funds, the Energy secretary, in consultation with secretaries of State and Defense, must certify to key congressional committees that “the Russian Federation is respecting the sovereignty of Ukrainian territory,” according to the Republican draft bill.
National Journal 6th May 2014 read more »
The G7 group of industrialised nations has focused on energy security, prioritising low-carbon sources including nuclear power for deployment in an effort to establish resilient low-carbon power systems. Energy ministers from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the USA concluded a two-day meeting in Rome yesterday with a joint statement. Referring to the current problems in Ukraine and the possibility of disruption to gas supplies into the country and across Europe, the G7 members said: “We are committed to initiate a systematic and enduring step change to improve energy security at national, regional and global levels.”
World Nuclear News 7th May 2014 read more »
The Commission (DG Energy) invited national administrations and a few guests to discuss “EU energy security strategy” last Monday morning (5 May). The leaked agenda is copied here. What stands out most is a complete lack of prioritisation. Of eleven options listed, none are indicated as priorities. And so far as can be seen, none are evaluated as having relative benefits as compared to the others e.g. in terms of speed, scale or costs. Whereas the March European Council said clearly that “moderating energy demand through enhanced energy efficiency should be the first step” this issue was the last step on Monday. Maybe they ran out of time before getting to that point, e.g. if Oettinger was dashing to airport for his Rome flight?
Mark Johnston 8th May 2014 read more »
On May 1, the entire editorial board at the New York Times published an article revealing an astonishing ignorance of easily accessible facts. The NYT argues that Germany’s energy transition proves that the world needs nuclear. Craig Morris explains. criticism of Germany’s energy transition is loudest among supporters of nuclear, whose main battle cry is now that we need carbon-free electricity, but renewables are not (yet) ready to do the job alone. Germany has set out to test that hypothesis, so it is crucial for nuclear supporters to prove Germany wrong. And the facts be damned.
Energy Transition 7th May 2014 read more »
Nuclear power plants in the United States increasingly risk closure amid growing competition from cheap natural gas, which experts said could hamper President Barack Obama’s efforts to combat climate change.
Phys.org 7th May 2014 read more »
A former US Navy sysadmin who worked in an aircraft carrier’s nuclear reactor department has been charged with hacking into government networks using the USN’s own computers. Prosecutors have alleged that Nicholas Paul Knight, 27, of Chantilly, Virginia, and his co-accused, 20-year-old Daniel Trenton of Salem, Illinois, were leading members of a blackhat group called Team Digi7al.
The Register 7th May 2014 read more »
IT Pro Portal 7th May 2014 read more »
THESE people might not look dangerous but they’re taking up arms against weapons. A group of knitters from Wallingford have been taking part in a national campaign against nuclear weapons – by creating a seven-mile long pink scarf. Once complete, the scarf will stretch between the Atomic Weapons Establishment sites at Aldermaston and at Burghfield.
Oxford Mail 7th May 2014 read more »
Can we harness the energy of an earth-bound sun? It’s a question that has obsessed and perplexed scientists for more than half a century. According to Professor Steve Cowley, director of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) and chief executive of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, it remains one of the “great quests” in science. The creation of a self-sustaining reaction here on earth would be a revolutionary moment for humanity. It would mean we’d have a near-limitless source of energy that is clean, safe and cheap. The fuel used for fusion (two isotopes of hydrogen, deuterium and tritium) is so abundant it will effectively never run out; one kilogram of it provides the same amount of energy as 10 million kilograms of fossil fuel. And while some fusion reactor components would become mildly radioactive over time, they should be safe to recycle or dispose of conventionally within 100 years, according to fusion experts. But Cowley insists real progress has been made over the years. Current research focuses on two means of achieving a fusion reaction: inertial confinement fusion, which uses lasers to compress fuel pellets and create a reaction, and magnetic confinement fusion, which uses magnetic fields to control and contain the extremely hot hydrogen plasma.
Guardian 7th May 2014 read more »
Renewables – Tidal
Good Energy has made its first foray into tidal power by investing in a pioneering £750m project to build a lagoon in Swansea Bay. The AIM-listed company has secured an option to purchase 10 per cent of the projected annual 495GWh power output from project operators Tidal Lagoon (Swansea Bay) PLC, and has taken an equity stake of £500,400 in the company.
Business Green 7th May 2014 read more »
Utility Week 7th May 2014 read more »
Renewables – solar
Green MP Caroline Lucas has waded into the row over the government’s planned review of solar subsidies, tabling an urgent parliamentary question calling on the government to confirm current levels of support will be retained until at least April next year. It emerged last week that the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is planning to launch a new review of solar subsidies, designed to support the goals of the recently announced Solar Strategy by trimming subsidies for large solar farms and potentially increasing them for commercial rooftop installations.
Business Green 7th May 2014 read more »
A House of Lords committee has urged changes in the law to fast-track fracking and ensure property owners cannot delay drilling under their land. The economic affairs committee (EAC) is also demanding ministers set up a special cabinet committee on the issue and make it a “national priority” to sell the benefits of shale gas to a sceptical British public. The EAC writes in Thursday’s report that while it takes the concerns of landowners and environmentalists very seriously, the advantages of a potential shale boom hugely outweigh the disadvantages. Lord MacGregor, who chairs the EAC, said: “A successful shale gas industry in the UK would be good for our economy and energy security. The United States has raced ahead with the development of shale gas and oil in recent years with enormous benefits to US industry and the economy generally.” He added: “The committee strongly supports the decision to go ‘all out for shale’. But here in the UK we have not yet left the starting gate. Developing a successful shale gas and oil industry should be a national priority.” Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace UK, said: “Fracking is a non-solution – it won’t deliver for many years, if ever. The real urgent national priority is to push ahead with the renewable technology and efficiency measures which would much more rapidly address the security issues flagged up by the Ukraine crisis. “The Lords spent seven months cherry-picking the wafer-thin evidence that fits a foregone conclusion about the benefits of shale gas. This is just more taxpayer-funded cheerleading from unelected politicians who seem all too happy to ignore the country’s legitimate concerns about fracking. “On one page the lords are saying public concerns should be taken seriously, on the other they urge the government to strip people of their right to say no to fracking firms planning to drill under their homes – a move opposed by three quarters of British people.”
Guardian 8th May 2014 read more »
Developing a successful and effectively regulated shale gas industry in the UK must be an urgent priority, say peers.
Independent 8th May 2014 read more »
BBC 8th May 2014 read more »
A shale gas boom will not take off in Britain until next decade unless ministers take urgent action to cut red tape and convince the public to support fracking, an influential Lords committee warns on Thursday. Britain risks missing out on jobs, heightened energy security and potentially cheaper bills unless the Government “gets its act together” to streamline cumbersome regulation, the Economic Affairs committee says. Encouraging development of shale gas and oil should now be an “urgent national priority” and should be overseen by a new Cabinet committee chaired by Chancellor George Osborne, it recommends.
Telegraph 8th May 2014 read more »
A cabinet committee dedicated to fracking should be established to fulfil David Cameron’s commitment to go “all out for shale”, according to a House of Lords committee. Exploiting Britain’s shale resources should be “an urgent national priority”, but the government has failed to match its encouraging words with action to reduce the red tape delaying exploration. Shale reserves equivalent to 40 years of UK gas consumption could deliver energy security and save up to 250,000 jobs, the Lords Economic Affairs Committee says in a report published today. However, it adds that the future of shale gas in this country hangs in the balance because of a complex regulatory regime. The peers are dismayed that the Environment Agency has not received any applications for permits since a moratorium was lifted in 2012.
Times 8th May 2014 read more »
Fracking operations in the United States have contributed to a surge of earthquakes across the country, scientists are warning. A new study found that earthquakes in Oklahoma rose by 50 per cent over the last seven months, leading researchers to warn that the risk of a damaging earthquake measuring a magnitude of more than 5.5 has increased significantly in the state. Agencies reported 183 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or higher from October until April 14th, compared with an average of only two per year on the same scale from 1978 to 2008.
Times 8th May 2014 read more »
Calls for a ban on fracking for unconventional gas in Scotland have been rejected by MSPs at Holyrood. The controversial method of gas extraction has driven down energy prices in the US and energy bosses want to see it expanded here. But environmental campaigners warn it is unsafe and the Greens lodged a motion at Holyrood yesterday calling for a ban. Green MSP Alison Johnstone said it would put communities at risk and make meeting Scotland’s climate targets even harder to achieve. “Here in Scotland, we have the opportunity to act on the commitment and promises of leadership on climate change by simply saying no to a whole new set of fossil fuel problems and ruling unconventional gas out of bounds in Scotland,” she said. Finance secretary John Swinney refused to endorse the calls for a ban. He said environmental watchdog the Scottish Environment Protection Agency published guidance on shale gas in 2012. The government has also introduced “buffer zones” between potential developments, indicating a willingness to listen to communities, Mr Swinney added. An updated policy on this issue will come to parliament “in due course”, he said. Labour’s Iain Gray said there were growing concerns about future energy supply as conventional power stations are closing and the country’s two nuclear power stations, Hunterston and Torness, will not be replaced when they shut down. He said: “We urgently need a hard-headed realistic, comprehensive plan about how we transition to a de-carbonised energy market while still protecting security of energy supplies.” The country is in “no position to shut down another potential energy source”, especially without the scientific evidence for the reserves available.
Scotsman 8th May 2014 read more »
Over $1tn is being gambled on high-cost oil projects that will never see a return if the world’s governments fulfil their pledge to tackle climate change, according to a new report. The Carbon Tracker Initiative (CTI) research found that $1.1tn of capital expenditure is expected in the next decade in expensive oil sands, deepwater and Arctic projects but that this investment will be lost if policymakers agree to slash carbon emissions. Investors managing trillions of dollars have already begun pressing fossil fuel companies to set out their strategies to manage the risk that oil, gas and coal burning may be restricted in the future. But recently ExxonMobil said it thought it was “highly unlikely” that the world would cut carbon emissions enough in order to tackle dangerous climate change. “ExxonMobil’s attitude that the risk of climate action is near zero seems an irresponsible attitude to risk management to me,” said Anthony Hobley, CEO of CTI.
Guardian 8th May 2014 read more »