That a country of Britain’s size, status and relative prosperity is running the risk of power cuts is a quite shocking state of affairs. There is admittedly some justification in Mr Davey’s excuse – that this is largely the fault of the last lot, and particularly the disastrously inadequat e and idealistically minded energy policy run by our now friendless Labour leader, Ed Miliband. Replacement, base load generating capacity takes a long time to build, and it should have begun a long time ago. Even so, the Coalition has had nearly five years behind the wheel now, and very little progress does it seem to have made, beyond committing consumers to eye-wateringly high future bills to persuade the French state to build us a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point. It’s hard to imagine a greater shambles. Still, all things are relative, and come to think of it, the Germans seem uncharacteristically to be making an even worse fist of it than us in their attempt to rid themselves of reliance on nuclear, uncouple from the ghastly Vladimir Putin, and at the same time swathe themselves in luxurious green.
Telegraph 7th Nov 2014 read more »
Letter from Eddie Martin to NDA: You will be aware that the above titles, followed by lengthy narratives complete with apparently incriminating photographs, appeared respectively in The Ecologist and subsequently in The Guardian. A day or two later The Daily Telegraph and The Mirror featured the same story. Other media have since broadcast the article. Whilst I suspect that a slightly more forensic examination of ‘the facts’ by these newspapers might have produced a slightly less apocalyptic scenario, when respected media do produce such reports, which are then circulated nation-wide, the public – and, not least, the public of Cumbria – surely deserve a comprehensive, truthful and factual response… if not rebuttal. Unfortunately, the response which finally emerged from Sellafield last Friday was entirely predictable and did little to inspire confidence, or additional confidence, in the successful management of the surface-held radioactive waste, especially that held in the ponds.
Cumbria Trust 8th Nov 2014 read more »
THE consortium behind plans for a nuclear power station at Sellafield is stepping up site investigations. NuGen, a partnership between Toshiba of Japan and GDF Suez of France, has an option on 500 acres earmarked for three reactors at Moorside, Sellafield. It re-started site assessment work at the end of August. This involves geophysical surveys, archaeological age-dating and borehole drilling work – carried out well into next year – to provide feedback’s to NuGen’s technical team. The findings will allow NuGen to draw-up detailed site plans for the Westinghouse AP1000 reactors.
NW Evening Mail 7th Nov 2014 read more »
Last night Radiation Free Lakeland joined representatives from Lancaster District CND and Lancaster residents in demonstrating outside the Storey Institute in Lancaster. In association with Lancaster Uni, Professor Robin Grimes from Imperial College, a leading “Nuclear Champion,” was giving a talk on “What Nuclear New Build Means to the North West.”
Radiation Free Lakeland 7th Nov 2014 read more »
MINEHEAD-based tea and coffee specialist DJ Miles has secured the rights to supply food and drink to the EDF Energy’s Hinkley C project.
Somerset County Gazette 7th Nov 2014 read more »
Yesterday, energy and climate secretary Ed Davey made his annual energy statement to parliament. It’s a chance for the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to tell us all how its policies are progressing, from decarbonising the UK to securing supplies and trying to keep down energy bills. There’s a mass of information in the report, but you probably don’t have time to read it. So here are five things we learned from DECC’s annual energy statement. Our five learnings barely scratch the surface of the annual energy statement. They do give a snapshot of how DECC is doing, however. There has been progress on energy efficiency and renewables while government retains high hopes for fracking. But despite all that, decarbonisation remains a challenging long-term prospect.
Carbon Brief 7th Nov 2014 read more »
The government expects household energy bills to increase significantly over the next 15 years. But its energy and climate policies will help curb the rise, it argues, making households better-off than they otherwise would be. How persuasive you find DECC’s argument may depend on how much you trust its assumptions. In particular, there is a lot of uncertainty about estimates of how much energy will cost in the future. Such estimates rely on two predictions: how much energy demand there will be, and what the cost of fuel is likely to be. If the government’s projections for either are these are wrong, it can have a big impact on its estimates of how much households will pay for energy. DECC expects there to be a long term trend of UK households using less energy. It assumes household electricity demand will continue to fall – about 20 per cent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels, with gas demand falling by about 25 per cent. Without government policies, demand is still expected to fall, but not by as much: electricity by about eight per cent, and gas by about 17 per cent. At the same time, DECC assumes the cost of gas and coal, the main fossil fuel used to generate electricity, will rise significantly. But such prices aren’t stable.
Carbon Brief 7th Nov 2014 read more »
Energy & Jobs
Politicians love to talk jobs when they make announcements. Creating jobs is much more exciting than signing bits of paper and it’s easier to grasp than the “net societal benefits” used by policy wonks to justify their plans. A new report from the UK’s Energy Research Centre (UKERC) finds good evidence for short-term job creation as a result of low-carbon policies, but the longer term picture is much less clear. We’ve taken a look.
Carbon Brief 7th Nov 2014 read more »
France – Drones
Staff at one of France’s most sensitive nuclear power plants in eastern France received a shock recently when they looked up and saw, hovering against the sky, a mysterious civilian surveillance drone.The sighting at Creys-Malville, part of state-owned EDF’s fleet of nuclear reactors, was reported to the police, but a few days later another appeared at a different site. And then another. Within a month there had been sightings of drones at 13 of the country’s 19 nuclear sites, which house 58 reactors. Sometimes the flights appear to have been co-ordinated, like on October 19 when the craft were seen flying over four sites at the same time. Some of the drones have been large, up to two metres long, while others simpler, smaller models. They show no sign of stopping, with the latest flights occurring last weekend. Security experts say the kind of devices used can be bought relatively simply online, fitted with inexpensive camera equipment and operated from miles away. The flights come at a time of heightened concern over the potential threat from home-grown jihadi militants returning from Syria and Iraq and about nuclear safety. The French government is, partly due to popular pressure following the 2011 disaster in Japan, reducing its reliance on nuclear power from 75 per cent of energy supplies to 50 per cent. Suspicion as to who is behind the sequence of events initially fell on French anti-nuclear campaigners at Greenpeace, who in 2012 flew a paraglider over the Le Bugey plant near Lyon, filming the incident with a drone. But the group quickly denied any involvement.
FT 7th Nov 2014 read more »
US – radwaste
The Republican takeover of the Senate and consequent sidelining of the Democratic majority leader, Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, will undoubtedly increase calls for reviving the Energy Department’s proposed nuclear waste repository at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain. The project got a big boost from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff when it recently concluded that the Energy Department has “demonstrated compliance with NRC regulatory requirements” limiting long-term radioactive leakage from the proposed repository. This result produced headlines like this one, which ran in the New York Times in October: “Calls to use Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste site, now deemed safe.” The NRC staff did not explain, and no one in the media seems to have caught on, that its favorable conclusion reflected the Energy Department’s pie-in-the-sky design for Yucca Mountain—not the repository as it is likely to be configured. The likely repository configuration doesn’t come close to meeting NRC requirements. The key design element in question is something the Energy Department calls a “drip shield.” This is a kind of massive, corrosion-resistant titanium alloy mailbox that is supposed to sit over each of the thousands of waste canisters in Yucca Mountain’s underground tunnels. In NRC’s definition, it is designed “to prevent seepage water from directly dripping onto the waste package outer surface.” The name drip shield itself is a giveaway that there is a water problem at Yucca Mountain. There is indeed a lot more water, and it is flowing faster, than the Energy Department imagined when it picked the site, which is why it added the drip shield to the original design.
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 5th Nov 2014 read more »
Japan – Reactor Restarts
Governor Ito of Kagoshima, today bent to the will of the nuclear industry in granting approval for the highly contentious restart of the two Sendai nuclear reactors. In an effort to avoid full responsibility for the decision he was making, he announced that restart was “unavoidable,” rather than explicitly consent. In large part, this is due to the fact that this decision will be hugely unpopular in his prefecture, as the large majority of residents are opposed to the restart of the nuclear reactors. In granting approval of the Sendai reactors, Governor Ito and the Kagoshima prefectural Assembly – which voted earlier to approve restart – have utterly failed to understand the tragic lessons of the 2011 Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear catastrophe. And in this failure, they are shouldering the responsibility for the lives and livelihoods of the hundreds of thousands of residents throughout the prefecture who are under direct threat in the event of a major nuclear disaster at Sendai. In the last week evidence has been made public that the reactor operator and the Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) are ignoring volcano risks to Sendai. In addition, Governor Ito today made the weak argument that in the event of a nuclear disaster, residents could simply stay in their homes – and therefore, the evacuation plans are sufficient. Such a statement amounts to a slap in the face of Fuksuhima victims, like those from Iitate, 40 km for the destroyed Fukushima nuclear power plant. The government failed to evacuate Iitate residents for over a month after the nuclear disaster – and as a result citizens were unnecessarily exposed to very high levels of radiation. Greenpeace recently completed a radiation survey in Fukushima, including in the village of Iitate. In spite of massive decontamination efforts in Iitate, radiation levels remain above government targets, and it is unlikely that community members will ever be able to safely return.
Greenpeace 7th Nov 2014 read more »
Herald 8th Nov 2014 read more »
Irish Times 7th Nov 2014 read more »
Iran has failed to keep an agreement to hand over information about past research into technology related to nuclear weapons, the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Friday. The disclosure cast doubt over whether a final deal to resolve the nuclear question is achievable by the deadline of November 24. Both America and Iran are preparing for a final round of talks in Vienna.
Telegraph 7th Nov 2014 read more »
A news report on Thursday that revealed secret communications between President Barack Obama and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has a top Republican lawmaker accusing Obama of playing ‘footsie’ with the ‘enemy’ just as the deadline for a nuclear deal with the country approaches.
Daily Mail 7th Nov 2014 read more »
NUCLEAR test veterans have called on the Prime Minister to do ‘the decent thing’ and set up a £25 million benevolent fund. Campaigners up and down the country, including Archie Ross, of Oak Close, Castle Gresley, appealed to David Cameron to come through with a promise made earlier this year where he said he would look at setting up a fund for those left afflicted due to atomic tests in the 1950s and 60s.
Burton Mail 7th Nov 2014 read more »
The energy market is poised for a revolution as councils and social housing landlords across the UK prepare to take on the Big Six providers by supplying their own electricity. From Plymouth and London, to Nottingham, Bristol and Berwickshire, local authorities are working on plans to set themselves up as electricity and gas retailers, and promising to significantly undercut the traditional suppliers. Some are promising to cut at least £100 from the average household dual-fuel bill of about £1,300 a year. Initially, the new suppliers will look to sell electricity generated by other power companies but in the longer term many plan to produce their own energy, through renewable sources such as wind and solar. The move comes amid growing discontent at the big energy firms, which have consistently come at the bottom of customer satisfaction surveys after continued price hikes over the past few years.
Independent 7th Nov 2014 read more »
Renewables – solar
Four solar companies attempting to sue the government over its decision to halt subsidies for large solar farms from early next year have had their case dismissed by the High Court today, despite the judge agreeing the move would have a retrospective impact on the industry.
Business Green 7th Nov 2014 read more »