News March 2008

31 March 2008

New nukes

The renewable energy sector has questioned the Government fast-tracking its nuclear programme while failing to promote sustainable alternatives. Philip Wolfe, Renewable Energy Association (REA) executive director, said: “There seems to be a mismatch in the sense of urgency the Government attaches to developing nuclear and renewables. “The Government has an excessive concentration on electricity and an inadequate realisation that there needs to be a much more coherent energy policy. Heating and ventilation are often completely neglected in policy-making.

Heating and Ventilation News 28th March 2008 more >>

Nuclear reactors of the kind France wants to sell to Britain suffer from “potentially catastrophic” problems, it was claimed yesterday. A letter from France’s nuclear safety watchdog, ASN, leaked on a website yesterday, highlighted weaknesses that could undermine the £2.8billion project. Pointing out “numerous malfunctions” in the building of the reactor at Flamanville, it calls for them to be corrected in a month. These include weaknesses in steel grids reinforcing the concrete base supporting the reactor. Such damage could lead to nuclear accidents, threatening the population of northern France, the Isle of Wight and possibly the coast of England.

Telegraph 31st March 2008 more >>

Dounreay

A MAJOR shake-up in the running of Dounreay comes into effect on Monday in a move which will pave the way for the privatisation of the site. Since the experimental fast reactor complex was built over 50 years ago, it has been run by Government quango, the UK Atomic Energy Authority. But from Monday, the UKAEA is being sidelined to make way for a commercial concern, which will make profits from the £3 billion clean-up of the defunct plant. Industry regulators have cleared the way for the site operating licences to be transferred on Monday to Dounreay Site Restoration Limited (DSRL). It will be the new employer of the 970-strong UKAEA workforce and the body charged with observing the raft of heath and safety and radioactive substances legislation. DSRL is a wholly owned subsidiary of UKAEA Ltd, a newly-formed offshoot of the UKAEA. UKAEA Ltd will employ between 12 and 17 managers, drawn from the UKAEA and its two joint venture partners at Dounreay, Amec and CH2M Hill. UKAEA Ltd is being formed to submit a bid when the management of Dounreay is put out to contract.

John O Groat Journal 28th March 2008 more >>

North Korea

An escalating war of words across the world’s last Cold War, nuclear-armed border spiraled dramatically yesterday when North Korea threatened to wreak total destruction on its neighbour to the south.

Times 31st March 2008 more >>

Guardian website 30th March 2008 more >>

Terror

Graham Allison of Harvard University assesses the threat of a nuclear terrorist attackj on the US.

Washington Times 30th March 2008 more >>

Clean coal

The government comes under renewed pressure today to step up backing for the use of clean coal as part of future electricity generation. The call to speed up decision-making comes from the TUC’s clean coal task group, which includes representatives from unions and companies within the coal and power industries. It said delays in backing emerging technologies behind clean coal and carbon capture and storage “are causing uncertainty and delaying vital investment, increasing risks to the UK’s security of electricity supplies”.

Guardian 31st March 2008 more >>

Times 31st March 2008 more >>

Microgeneration

New rules designed to help homeowners, schools and hospitals to install climate-friendly generators will be announced today by the Energy Minister. Malcom Wicks will give details of the funding as part of changes to the Low Carbon Buildings Programme in which the cap on grants will be raised to 50 per cent of the costs. The scheme is to be extended from tomorrow to give households more time to obtain grants. It takes effect just a few days before planning rules change to cut red tape surrounding the installation of solar panels and other forms of microgeneration.

Times 31st March 2008 more >>

Posted: 31 March 2008

30 March 2008

New Nukes

Article by Brian Wilson: When the movers and shakers of Britain’s civil nuclear industry assembled in London last week, the mood was upbeat. A speech from John Hutton, the business minister, had removed any lingering doubts about the Damascene scale of the government’s conversion to nuclear’s future role in the UK energy mix.

Sunday Telegraph 30th March 2008 more >>

John Hutton: Scotland knows how immense the contribution from North Sea oil and gas was to the transformation of its economy three decades ago. Nuclear has the potential to be just as important to its economic future. I want Scotland to take every advantage it can of this new reality. Scotland could play a tremendously important role, helping the UK to become the number one place in the world for companies to do business in new nuclear. Nuclear contributes to around a third of to Scottish electricity generation, compared to 19% across the whole of the UK. This of course could continue if the Scottish Executive had an open mind on the role of that new nuclear could play. Investment in new nuclear could be great news for Scottish consumers and workers.

Scotland on Sunday 30th March 2008 more >>

THE SNP’s non-nuclear policy will be a “disaster” for Scotland, a UK Cabinet minister warned last night. Business Secretary John Hutton said that the Scottish Government’s decision to oppose any new nuclear power stations would have a detrimental effect on the nation’s economy, with the loss of 10,000 jobs. He also raised concerns that Westminster wants to strip Alex Salmond of his power to veto nuclear power when he insisted that “energy security” – generating enough power to keep the lights on – was a UK matter.

Scotland on Sunday 30th March 2008 more >>

Diana Quick: For 25 years I have lived in the shadow of Sizewell so I know why Britain must NOT go nuclear. with the Government’s about-face announcement that it plans to encourage more reactors AND that it will reinvent the planning inquiry system to pre-empt specific objections to each proposed site, has been a wake-up call.

Mail on Sunday 30th March 2008 more >>

NORTH Staffordshire Green Party is opposing what is claims are possible plans for a nuclear power station in the county. “On March 26 the Secretary of State for Business and Enterprise outlined the Government’s positive attitude to the development of more nuclear power stations in the UK,” said Party spokesman Professor Andrew Dobson. “One of the potential sites for a new nuclear power station is Rugeley in Staffordshire.

This is Cheshire 29th March 2008 more >>

Further extract from Saturday’s Guardian: “Industry recognises that nuclear power and renewables in Britain are mutually exclusive because they both need government support as well as the same national grid infrastructure to distribute electricity. Last week Carlo de Riva, chief executive of French state-owned nuclear company EDF, said British backing for renewables, would undermine nuclear power. “If you provide incentives for renewables … that will displace the incentives built into the carbon market. In effect, carbon gets cheaper. And if carbon gets cheaper, you depress the returns for all the other low-carbon technologies. [like nuclear power].”

Guardian 29th March 2008 more >>

Fuel Poverty

Power companies will be forced to spend £3bn of their profits helping customers save energy under government plans expected to lead to lower fuel bills for pensioners. Householders will be issued with eco-friendly lightbulbs, anti-standby devices designed to ensure TVs are properly turned off and home insulation under the scheme to be unveiled this week. Designed to help combat global warming by reducing carbon emissions from homes, it should, however, also offer families a chance to cut their bills as a result of reducing energy use. Almost half the money that power companies will be told to spend from this Tuesday will be earmarked for the over-70s, poor families and the other vulnerable groups who have suffered most from rising fuel bills in recent months.

Observer 30th March 2008 more >>

Renewables

It will cost every household in the UK at least £2,000 to comply with the new European Union target of producing 15 per cent of all energy from renewable sources by 2020, according to a report commissioned by the government. The report also says the UK will have to spend far more to meet the target than other EU countries, because the UK lags behind the rest of Europe on renewables and is a heavy energy user. According to energy consultancy Pöyry, the bill for the UK to meet the target would be at least €5bn a year for more than a decade, compared with just over €3bn a year for France and Germany, and well under €500m for most other countries.

Observer 30th March 2008 more >>

Energy Efficiency

More than eight million tonnes of carbon, equivalent to the emissions of 11 million passenger flights across the Atlantic, will be released by homes built over the next eight years, according to a housing group which says new rules do not apply to private developers. Under the regulations, homes built by housing associations will have to reduce their carbon emissions at a faster rate and over a shorter period than those built by private developers, who will have two years’ grace before the regulations take effect. The National Housing Federation fears this approach will mean that the 1.4m new homes built by private developers up to April 2016 will needlessly emit more than eight million tonnes of carbon over their lifetime.

Observer 30th March 2008 more >>

Suspicions are growing that many of the 56 bids submitted by building companies to construct the Government’s 10 eco-towns are little more than old-fashioned commuter dormitory settlements with a “green spin”.

Telegraph 30th March 2008 more >>

Climate

It’s the race for the greenest of the laurels, the contest for the ultimate ecological accolade. Four countries are competing to be the first of the world’s 195 nations to go entirely carbon neutral. Iceland, New Zealand, Norway and Costa Rica have formally signed up to go zero carbon, joining the Climate Neutral Network.

Independent on Sunday 30th March 2008 more >>

SCOTLAND’S THREE MAIN FAITHS have come together this weekend in an unprecedented plea to government ministers to raise the game on climate change. They have warned Scotland must toughen its plans to cut the pollution warming the globe to help prevent millions from dying in poor countries. Protestant, Catholic and Islamic leaders are urging the Scottish National Party not to abandon its manifesto commitment to reduce climate pollution by 3% a year. They have come out in support of demands made by Stop Climate Chaos Scotland – a new coalition of more than 30 groups with at least 1.5 million supporters. The coalition’s campaign for more action to tackle climate change, also being launched today, is backed by the Sunday Herald.

Sunday Herald 30th March 2008 more >>

Posted: 30 March 2008

29 March 2008

Renewables

Britain is seeking to change the rules governing renewable energy targets to make it easier for the UK to fulfil its commitment to promote clean energy. At present, only 3% of the UK’s power comes from renewable energy, but ministers have agreed to increase this fivefold within 12 years. To help reach this goal, the government has started lobbying the EU over the way the target is calculated. At a closed session of the energy council of ministers this month, the business minister, Lady Vadera, proposed that British investments in renewable energy anywhere in the world should count as part of UK’s effort. The proposals to the EU have heightened concern among the groups that the UK is on a course for a massive nuclear power programme.

Guardian 29th March 2008 more >>

North Korea

North Korea raised the stakes Friday in its nuclear disputes with South Korea and the United States, test-firing several missiles and warning it may slow down work to disable atomic plants.

AFP 28th March 2008 more >>

Posted: 29 March 2008

28 March 2008

New Nukes

The communique promises to “improve the efficiency and effectiveness of nuclear development projects … to share information on nuclear safety, security and waste management, action which could be extended to other European partners.” This is seen within the Business and Enterprise Department and the French delegations as an important signal that the French and UK nuclear industries can work closely as Britain prepares to expand its nuclear industry. Britain will lean on French nuclear industry skills at least in the initial stage of expansion.

Guardian 28th March 2008 more >>

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister Gordon Brown agreed on Thursday to cooperate on civil nuclear technology, improving French companies’ chances of leading the UK’s nuclear power push.

Christian Today 28th March 2008 more >>

NUCLEAR power will top the agenda at a UK-France summit between Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy today.

Edinburgh Evening News 27th March 2008 more >>

Several media reports in advance of the summit between the two leaders had indicated that the deal would outline plans for construction of new reactors in the UK, but the summit declaration contains only a vague commitment to “improve the efficiency and effectiveness of nuclear development projects…through our nuclear regulators working closely together to share information on nuclear safety, security and waste management.” Such cooperation “could be extended to other interested European partners,” the declaration adds. But how this might improve on existing cooperation between European nuclear regulatory bodies through the Western European Nuclear Regulators’ Association (Wenra) was not outlined in the declaration.

Nuclear Engineering International 27th March 2008 more >>

Reuters 27th March 2008 more >>

TEES engineering companies have welcomed Business Secretary John Hutton’s claim that Britain must “significantly expand” its nuclear power production for the sake of national security and combating climate change.

Newcastle Evening Gazette 27th March 2008 more >>

From a windswept corner of Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, Japan Steel Works Ltd. controls the fate of the global nuclear-energy renaissance. There stands the only plant in the world, a survivor of Allied bombing in World War II, capable of producing the central part of a nuclear reactor’s containment vessel in a single piece, reducing the risk of a radiation leak.

Bloomberg 13th March 2008 more >>

There’s much talk these days about how everything from solar energy to wave energy and giant offshore wind farms are “the future”. And maybe they are. The problem is just that if you are over 40 they aren’t very likely to play a particularly big part of your future. For the foreseeable future at least, cutting carbon emissions and creating energy security in the West really means going nuclear.

Money Week 27th March 2008 more >>

The UK Government’s declaration that it wants to expand Britain’s nuclear capacity so it becomes the nation’s new North Sea oil was derided by the SNP as “madness”. Mike Weir, the SNP Energy Spokesman at Westminster, said the minister had “succumbed to a severe bout of March madness in proposing a massive expansion of nuclear power in the UK”. He claimed Gordon Brown’s Government was becoming “increasingly obsessed with the illusion that nuclear power is the silver bullet’ to tackle climate change”, which was crazy given the problems associated with atomic power, such as the disposal of nuclear waste. He added: “Rather than chase the illusion of a nuclear quick fix’ the UK government needs to put serious effort into developing renewable resources. Thankfully, Scotland has an SNP government that will prevent this nuclear madness spreading north of the Border.”

Herald 27th March 2008 more >>

Reprocessing

It seems clear that recycling remains a very live issue in the nuclear sector, indeed with an apparent push from several quarters to pursue it more vigorously in the future. Used fuel management is a huge and still growing business and options are being sought that hit a variety of requirements, certainly not merely economic but also considering environmental, resource sustainability and non-proliferation objectives.

Nuclear Engineering International 22nd March 2008 more >>

Nuclear Waste

Ian Jackson’s analysis of waste costs: The £8.2 billion waste disposal cost, spread across 10 new reactors, amounts to £820 million per reactor, equivalent to 41% of each reactor’s expected £2 billion capital cost. Business models for nuclear generation assume back end costs of only 5% for decommissioning and waste management. As a result, the NDA may need to fix repository waste disposal prices in the range from £500 million to £1000 million (£50 million to £100 million per new reactor) for new build to remain economically viable. The bottom line is that nuclear energy utilities probably need fixed waste disposal ‘prices’ for repository disposal capped somewhere in the range from £12,200 to £24,400/m3, but the NDA’s true marginal ‘cost’ is nearer to £67,000/m3, and the commercial ‘value’ of the repository asset could approach £201,000m3 if operated as a fully private sector venture.

Nuclear Engineering International 27th March 2008 more >>

New nuclear power stations will not be built unless the government fixes the market price for dealing with waste, according to a nuclear industry expert today. And rigging the price will, say Greenpeace, mean that taxpayers will have to subsidise new nuclear power stations.

Greenpeace 27th March 2008 more >>

The government says the decision on building new nuclear reactors will be entirely up to the market and utility companies will have to pay their “full share” of decommissioning and waste management costs, but Gordon Brown is going to have to cook the books like a cordon bleu chef if wants to attract new investment.

Greenpeace 27th March 2008 more >>

Nuclear Weapons

President Nicolas Sarkozy vowed last week to trim France’s force de frappe to under 300 warheads, half its maximum cold-war tally. Keeping the deterrent up but warhead numbers down puts France in line with America, Russia and Britain. Of the five recognised powers, only China is thought still to be adding to its arsenal.

Economist 27th March 2008 more >>

Blacknest was set up in the early 1960s to house a group of scientists charged with trying to develop techniques to identify nuclear explosions anywhere around the world, whether happening in the atmosphere, underground or underwater.

BBC 28th March 2008 more >>

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has ordered a full inventory of US nuclear arms after parts of ballistic missiles were mistakenly sent to Taiwan.

BBC 28th March 2008 more >>

Times 28th March 2008 more >>

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern T.D. today said that the threat of international terrorism had deflected attention away from the pressing issue of nuclear disarmament. Speaking in Dublin, Minister Ahern said there needed to be renewed focus on nuclear disarmament despite the pressing issue of terrorism.

eGov Monitor 27th March 2008 more >>

North Korea

North Korea warned Friday that US delays in resolving the nuclear dispute could slow down work to disable its plutonium-producing atomic plants.

AFX 28th March 2008 more >>

Terror

Vehicles passing through major ports and the Channel Tunnel are to be screened for radioactive material in a bid to combat “nuclear terrorism”. The plan was within a Franco-British communiqué after French President Nicolas Sarkozy held talks with Prime Minister Gordon Brown in London. A Home Office spokesman said the intention was to screen all major points of entry to the UK from France.

BBC 27th March 2008 more >>

Dounreay

Equipment and techniques used in the decommissioning of a Scottish nuclear power research complex have attracted international interest. A patent has been applied for a pump and camera used to drain the final dregs of hazardous liquid from a reactor at Dounreay in Caithness. It could potentially be used in the clean-up of French sites. Scandinavians have also been watching closely how a deep shaft containing toxic waste has been isolated. About 900 tonnes of sodium which once flowed in the circuits of Dounreay’s Prototype Fast Reactor (PFR) were pumped out.

BBC 27th March 2008 more >>

THE Nuclear Decommissioning Authority is being urged to redouble its efforts to help the Far North cope with the rundown of Dounreay.

John O Groat Journal 26th March 2008 more >>

A PIECE of radioactive plastic found buried on Dunnet beach is currently being analysed by scientists at Dounreay.

John O Groat Journal 21st March 2008 more >>

Egypt

By signing a deal this week with Russia, Egypt is pushing forward with its desire to stay at the head of a nuclear family Arab nations are creating to counterbalance Iran and Israel. A handshake between Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday sealed the nuclear cooperation deal that looks set to cause some concern in the West.

Middle East Online 27th March 2008 more >>

Companies

Suez is interested in an industrial cooperation with British Energy BGY.PA rather than a purely financial investment in the UK nuclear power producer, the head of the French utility said on Thursday. “If we can play an industrial role, let’s talk about it … but if this is strictly a financial role, then we are not interested,” Suez Chief Executive Gerard Mestrallet told reporters on the sidelines of a nuclear conference in Paris.

Reuters 27th March 2008 more >>

Suez, the French utility planning to merge with Gaz de France, said yesterday it will not buy a stake in British Energy but would be interested
in reaching a deal to develop and produce reactors with the Scottish-based nuclear power provider.

Herald 28th March 2008 more >>

A Spanish commercial court has ordered Electricité de France to clarify its intentions toward Iberdrola, the owner of ScottishPower, after months of speculation that the French power company is planning to make a takeover bid for its Bilbao-based rival.

Herald 27th March 2008 more >>

Windscale

THE man who led heroic efforts to put out the Windscale Fire in 1957 and prevent Britain’s worst atomic accident from becoming even more serious has died in Australia at the age of 90.

Whitehaven News 26th March 2008 more >>

Posted: 28 March 2008

27 March 2008

New nukes

Westinghouse is planning a nuclear renaissance that will use Britain as a springboard to supply reactors to the whole of Europe, creating more than 15,000 jobs here. Stephen Tritch, president and chief executive of the US-based reactor maker, which is owned by Toshiba, told The Times that the UK was one of four major markets on which Westinghouse was concentrating because of the Government’s stated intention to develop a fleet of new-generation nuclear power stations.

Times 27th March 2008 more >>

French expertise and money is likely to play a pivotal role in the drive to build a new generation of nuclear power plants in the UK. EDF, the energy company controlled by the French Government, has said that it wants to build four new nuclear power stations in Britain — a far more ambitious proposal than any of the other five big utilities in the UK. The Government has estimated that each plant would cost about £2.8 billion to build, but the cost could run to as much as £3.6 billion. EDF has also stated clearly that all four of these would be to a French design developed by Areva, the nuclear energy giant that is also part-owned by the French state.

Times 27th March 2008 more >>

A major expansion of Britain’s nuclear power sector that could create 100,000 new jobs has been heralded by the Government. John Hutton, the Business Secretary, signalled that the next wave of nuclear plants will form a much larger part of Britain’s energy mix in future, saying the country must “significantly expand” its nuclear sector.

Telegraph 27th March 2008 more >>

Britain needs urgently to replace its elderly power stations, and Business Minister John Hutton said on Wednesday the government was doing all it could to encourage firms to finance and build nuclear power plants.

Christian Today 27th March 2008 more >>

Energy companies cannot be charged a fully commercial price by the government for disposing of nuclear waste without “killing the prospect” of a new generation of reactors, a government adviser will warn today. The analysis will fuel opposition to the government’s contentious and aggressive drive to expand the UK’s nuclear capacity. Gordon Brown will today underscore his determination to attract investors to build reactors, at his summit with Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president. The leaders are expected to agree to Anglo-French co-operation on nuclear skills and regulation.

FT 27th March 2008 more >>

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is to hold talks with Gordon Brown on nuclear energy, on the second and final day of his state visit to the UK. The two leaders are expected to seal an agreement on a new generation of power stations, during talks at Arsenal Football Club’s north London stadium.

BBC 27th March 2008 more >>

Newcastle Evening Chronicle 27th March 2008 more >>

Channel 4 News 26th March 2008 more >>

Times 26th March 2008 more >>

Business secretary John Hutton has called for a “significant expansion” in Britain’s nuclear power industry. In a speech to the Unite trade union, he argued the industry should go beyond replacing its 23 ageing reactors, which provide 20% of the UK’s electricity. Hutton said “I think the technology is proven, not just in terms of producing electricity but in terms of safety as well. In terms of waste disposal, I don’t think there is an argument about how it should be done – there is an argument about where it should be done.” SNP MP Mike Weir, said: “The UK government are becoming increasingly obsessed with the illusion that nuclear power is the “silver bullet” to tackle climate change. This is completely crazy given that there is no solution to the huge problems associated with nuclear power, particularly the disposal of nuclear waste.”

BBC 26th March 2008 more >>

Telegraph 26th March 2008 more >>

Telegraph 27th March 2008 more >>

Times 26th March 2008 more >>

Asked if the Prime Minister agreed with John Hutton that the Government should go further than the 23 existing nuclear reactors, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) told the assembled press that John Hutton spoke on behalf of the Government, so the Prime Minister did agree.

No.10 Downing Street 26th March 2008 more >>

Letter from Colin Challen MP: John Hutton’s latest reflections on nuclear power demonstrate how rapidly British energy policy is regressing to its default mode – dig it up and burn it. At the same time as we are promised the nuclear pipe dream, we are also set to have new coal-powered power stations without carbon capture and storage. This comes at the same time as we have fought for one of the lowest renewables targets in the EU, are languishing third from bottom in current renewables provision out of 27 EU states, and are announcing yet another microgeneration review. The message Hutton’s department seems to want to promulgate in its energy policy is to reassure everybody that no serious change is needed, that we should carry on increasing our demand for energy and that climate change isn’t as urgent as some people make out. One can only conclude that the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform is utterly unfit for purpose and should have the title Department for Fiddling While Rome Burns.

Guardian 27th March 2008 more >>

Letter (1): The idea of reducing global warming CO2 pollutants by nuclear stations, relying on an ever-dwindling supply of finite uranium, runs diametrically counter to government commitments to embark on a programme of renewable energy resource developments. Letter (2): centralised power generation, from whatever source, is massively wasteful, with high energy loss in generation and distribution. Moreover, the way we use energy is also massively wasteful. The future lies with microrenewable generation, mediated by fuel cells, set in local networks and coupled to more efficient energy use. Letter (3) Prof Lewis Lesley: This is yet another chapter in a 50-year fantasy that nuclear power will bring untold riches. The Thorp plant at Sellafield, which has never worked properly. For 10% of the tax money spent without results on nuclear power, we could have retrofitted 100% of our housing stock to a zero-carbon standard, and saved 40% of our energy consumption. Perhaps Emperor Nero might advise?

Guardian 27th March 2008 more >>

Business Secretary John Hutton’s claim that Britain must “significantly expand” its nuclear power production for the sake of national security and to combat climate change is misleading and dangerous, Friends of the Earth said today. The environmental campaign group said that if the government put this level of commitment into genuine green solutions – expansion of renewables, energy efficiency, combined heat and power and cleaner carbon technology – we could lead the world, create thousands of jobs and meet our energy needs.

Friends of the Earth Press Release 26th March 2008 more >>

We need to see early action taken by the government to provide the ‘clear route map’ which Hutton talks of, and the leadership required to build global investor confidence in Britain’s nuclear energy market.

CBI Press Release 26th March 2008 more >>

What happens in little old Copeland, which is after all the home of Britain’s commercial (and military) nuclear power industry? We know there are laudable efforts underway to mitigate the predicted employment rundown at Sellafield as a result of the NDA’s decommissioning programme. But don’t we deserve our fair share of the 100,000 new jobs?

Whitehaven News 26th March 2008 more >>

The Liberal Democrat candidate for Barrow-in-Furness has attacked Hutton’s plan to expand nuclear power.

North West Evening Mail 26th March 2008 more >>

Gordon employed his brother Andrew as his personal assistant in the 80s when both were young-ish (her reference: Bower, Tom) and it’s not impossible that this week, 25 years later, Brown Minimus is lurking somewhere in the Emirates stadium for Sarkozy’s visit. When the nuclear-powered Napoleon offers to share with Brown French nuclear expertise, it’s partly the younger Brown’s firm that would supply it – Andrew Brown is head of communications for EDF Energy, the UK subsidiary of French state-controlled power firm, EDF.

Guardian 26th March 2008 more >>

Nuclear Weapons

President George W. Bush on Wednesday reassured Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, that a US shipment of nuclear missile components to Taiwan in 2006 was a “mistake”. Stephen Hadley, the White House national security adviser, said Mr Bush made the comments to Mr Hu in a phone call on Wednesday morning. The Pentagon on Tuesday said the US had mistakenly sent electrical fuses for intercontinental ballistic missiles, instead of a consignment of helicopter batteries.

FT 27th March 2008 more >>

John McCain on Wednesday vowed to lead a fresh global push towards nuclear disarmament if elected president, arguing that the US did not need all the atomic weapons in its arsenal.

FT 27th March 2008 more >>

At Easter in 1958 some 10,000 people marched from London to the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in Aldermaston to protest against Britain’s first hydrogen bomb tests. This year over the Easter weekend people came together from across Britain – some of whom had protested in the original march – to participate in the 50th anniversary event.

Guardian Weekly 26th March 2008 more >>

Companies

Diversified engineering conglomerate Toshiba will invest $300 million in Nuclear Innovation North America, a new company formed by power generator NRG Energy. The newly formed company will promote the deployment of advanced boiling water reactor nuclear power plants in North America.

Energy Business Review 26th March 2008 more >>

Balfour Beatty is close to joining a consortium of major energy providers bidding to deliver Britain’s new generation of nuclear power stations. Balfour said it is in talks with major energy players about becoming a “first tier” player in the £10bn programme.

Contract Journal 26th March 2008 more >>

Posted: 27 March 2008

26 March 2008

New nukes

Britain and France are set to sign an agreement this week calling for the construction of new nuclear power stations in the UK using French know-how. Environmental groups have condemned the deal as unnecessary.

Business Green 25th March 2008 more >>

A government minister will call today for a huge expansion of Britain’s nuclear power in what he predicts could be a £20bn economic bonanza that will create 100,000 new jobs and benefit the economy as much as North Sea oil. In an ambitious speech that will alarm the anti-nuclear lobby, John Hutton, the business secretary, will argue that the UK’s nuclear programme should go beyond replacing the existing stock of 23 reactors, which provide 20% of the country’s energy. Instead nuclear should contribute “a significantly higher proportion” of the nation’s energy needs in the years ahead, and Britain should aim to become a world leader in the development of nuclear power technology.

Guardian 26th March 2008 more >>

BBC 26th March 2008 more >>

FT 26th March 2008 more >>

Daily Mail 26th March 2008 more >>

Telegraph 26th March 2008 more >>

Thousands of extra jobs could be created if designs for a new generation of nuclear power stations in the UK could be used around the world, a trade union claims. Unite wants the government and the nuclear regulator to license “global designs”, set at an international standard, for the new sites in this country.

Herald 26th March 2008 more >>

Builder and Engineer 25th March 2008 more >>

Brown will open the proverbial front door to French utility Electricity de France (EDF), and its burgeoning workforce, to come build and operate any new nuclear power stations here in the UK. They will claim that nuclear power is the bedrock of global energy security and a necessary tool in the fight against climate change, but do these claims stand up to scrutiny? Does political mantra really mean solid answers to the bigger questions on climate change and how to keep the lights on? Sadly not.

Greenpeace 25th March 2008 more >>

The UK government’s announcement in January, to give the go ahead for a series of new build nuclear power plants, is set to provide the industry with one of the most challenging design projects of the decade. Our existing nuclear power stations are utilitarian in design at best. What the design industry has now been given is a chance to change perceptions and create power stations that the nation can be proud of; that will enhance rather than spoil the landscape.

Engineer Live 26th March 2008 more >>

Forty countries are now revisiting, or contemplating, nuclear power. Russia announced this month that it expects to build as many as 42 new domestic reactors by 2030, compared to 31 running now. Its nuclear holding company, Rosatom, created in another fit of state-led industrial reorganisation, hopes to export another 60. Some of these will go to China, which has 11 reactors in operation and five more under construction. The plan is to increase Chinese nuclear generation capacity fivefold by 2020, and further triple it by 2030. In the US 30 new plants have been announced, and several developed countries are eyeing the replacement of existing reactors.

FT 25th March 2008 more >>

India

The US has stepped up its bid to persuade India to proceed with the civil nuclear deal between the two countries, amid fears in Washington that time to ratify the agreement could run out unless the Indian coalition government rallies around it soon. In a sign of the US administration’s impatience for progress on a deal it sees as a signal foreign policy achievement, President George W. Bush met Pranab Mukherjee, India’s foreign minister, in the White House this week.

FT 26th March 2008 more >>

India’s foreign minister has said that continuing fierce domestic opposition could delay a landmark US-India civil nuclear cooperation deal.

BBC 25th March 2008 more >>

US

Power producer NRG Energy Inc said it has formed a company to develop and invest in new nuclear energy projects in North America. Nuclear Innovation North America LLC will focus on marketing, siting and financing new nuclear projects, including the planned South Texas Project units 3 and 4, NRG said. Japan’s Toshiba Corp will be the primary contractor on all of the new company’s projects, NRG said in a statement. Toshiba will invest $300 million in the company over the next six years and will receive a 12 percent equity stake.

Reuters 26th March 2008 more >>

Interactive Investor 25th March 2008 more >>

Egypt

Egypt and Russia have signed a deal clearing the way for Russian involvement in building up Egypt’s nuclear power industry.

BBC 25th March 2008 more >>

Reuters 25th March 2008 more >>

Bahrain

The United States and Bahrain signed a deal Monday on peaceful nuclear energy cooperation, holding it up as a model for the Middle East that contrasts with Iran’s disputed atomic program.

Middle East Online 25th March 2008 more >>

Nuclear Weapons

The US mistakenly sent nuclear missile components to Taiwan in 2006, the Pentagon revealed yesterday, marking the second big failure of nuclear safeguards in recent years. The Pentagon accidentally shipped four fuses for the Minuteman missile instead of the helicopter batteries that Taiwan had ordered. No fissile material was included, but Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, has ordered an investigation.

FT 26th March 2008 more >>

Guardian 26th March 2008more >>

Telegraph 26th March 2008 more >>

Times 26th March 2008 more >>

Research Reactor

Britain’s last nuclear reactor for research and training will soon be shut after failing to secure enough commercial funding, it has emerged, just as government tries to encourage rapid growth in the industry. Imperial College London said its Consort reactor at Silwood Park in Berkshire was more than 40 years old and unsuited for modern nuclear research. But its closure highlights Britain’s shortage of nuclear research facilities.

FT 26th March 2008 more >>

Energy Policy

Letter: The news that Defra is refusing to support the go-ahead for Britain’s first supercritical clean-coal power station at Kingsnorth, against the recommendation of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (DBERR), has highlighted the urgent requirement for a Secretary of State for Energy back in the Cabinet.

Independent 26th March 2008 more >>

Obituary

On 10 October 1957, at the age of 39, Thomas Tuohy was deputy to the general manager at the Windscale and Calder works of the Ministry of Supply (now known as Sellafield) when one of the “piles” – primitive nuclear reactors – making plutonium for Britain’s first atomic bombs overheated.

Independent 26th March 2008 more >>

Posted: 26 March 2008

25 March 2008

New nukes

Letter from David Lowry: If Gordon Brown does, as you report, sign up to an entente atomique with President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday it makes one wonder how seriously he and his government believe in the new national security strategy he unveiled to parliament last week. In the strategy document, the final paragraph of a section on “Tackling competition for energy and building energy security”, states: “At home, we are also encouraging investment in nuclear facilities”, then concedes in parentheses “although this has security implications of its own”. Indeed the last thing more nuclear power will bring is security.

Guardian 25th March 2008 more >>

Letter from Prof Gary Craig: So, we are to join France in exporting nuclear power technology to the world. This will presumably require us to turn a blind eye to the conditions under which uranium is produced in France’s client states, such as Gabon and Niger – countries ruled by oppressive and autocratic regimes, propped up by France’s military.

Guardian 25th March 2008 more >>

Letter from Dr Phil Williamson: BE bases its confidence on climate models that seriously underestimate the current rate of sea-level rise – and do not take account of future ice-sheet melt. Over the next 100 years, sea-level rise measured in metres rather than centimetres seems increasingly likely. By the time new nuclear power stations are operational, their useful lifetime may be much reduced.

Guardian 25th March 2008 more >>

Unite, the UK’s largest trade union, is calling on the government and the UK’s nuclear regulator to licence global designs for the new generation of UK power stations. Unite, which has more than 26,000 energy sector members, says that a standard design is vital to encourage the largest number of bids for the new build nuclear contracts and to give UK industry the opportunity to supply the construction and manufacturing requirements. The union says that as well as securing thousands of existing jobs, 10,000 additional jobs could be created if the UK regulator licence designs that could be used throughout the world.

Unite 26th March 2008 more >>

Sizewell

BRITISH Energy is refusing to reveal the amount of high level radioactive waste stored at the Sizewell B nuclear power station for “reasons of security”. It has previously refused, for the same reason, to discuss the risk to the public posed by the presence of the waste, which is contained in spent uranium fuel elements stored under water on site.

Suffolk Evening Star 24th March 2008 more >>

UAE

The United Arab Emirates has approved plans to pursue a nuclear power programme, saying it would invest $100m in an agency that plans to make it the first Arab state to develop atomic energy. The cabinet approved a plan for the formation of the Nuclear Energy Implementation Organisation, which will work alongside the International Atomic Energy Agency – the United Nations watchdog – as it builds nuclear power facilities. The government said it would import uranium, shunning the uranium enrichment process, the most sensitive aspect of a nuclear development programme.

FT 25th March 2008 more >>

Brazil

Greenpeace activists set up lines of toilet seats with radioactive symbols on them in Rio de Janeiro Monday to protest the “waste” of public funds for the construction of a new nuclear power plant.

AFP 24th March 2008 more >>

Turkey

Turkey opened a bid Monday for the construction of the country’s first nuclear power plant, part of a plan to reduce the country’s dependence on gas supplies from Iran and Russia.

AP 24th March 2008 more >>

Nuclear Disarmament

THOUSANDS of anti-nuclear protesters gathered at the Aldermaston atomic weapons plant yesterday – 50 years after the first demonstration there. Many of those attending the rally organised by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) had been on the first march to the Atomic Weapons Establishment in 1958.

Scotsman 25th March 2008 more >>

Metro 24th March 2008 more >>

Channel 4 News 24th March 2008 more >>

Independent 25th March 2008 more >>

Telegraph 25th March 2008 more >>

Posted: 25 March 2008

24 March 2008

British Energy

Gas and electricity group Centrica is in the early stages of studying whether it should weigh into the £10bn takeover battle for nuclear power company British Energy (BE).

Telegraph 24th March 2008 more >>

PA 23rd March 2008 more >>

Channel 4 News 23rd March 2008 more >>

Manchester Evening News 23rd March 2008 more >>

New nukes

Senior German energy executives warned yesterday that Europe’s biggest economy faces growing blackouts unless it follows the Franco-British lead in promoting new nuclear power stations. They seized on a weekend report in the Guardian that Gordon Brown and French president Nicolas Sarkozy will unveil an alliance to build nuclear plants and export the modern technology worldwide at their “Arsenal” summit at the Emirates Stadium this week to press the case for Germany to pursue its own new nuclear renaissance.

Guardian 24th March 2008 more >>

Coal

Plans to build Britain’s first coal-fired power station since 1984 have led to a cabinet split amid concerns that the project would undermine efforts to cut carbon emissions.

Independent 24th March 2008 more >>

John Sauven: Kingsnorth exposes a government energy strategy in disarray. One week the Prime Minister commits the UK to generating around 40 per cent of its electricity from renewables, the next his Business Secretary sings the praises of the most carbon-intensive form of power generation around. We can only hope that John Hutton’s words were an attempt to stake out his territory in the Cabinet, not a wider signal of government intent.

Independent 24th March 2008 more >>

North Korea

North Korea is again in the news. The visible success of the New York Philharmonic’s February concert in Pyongyang produced a predictable wave of optimistic expectations. Combined with the talks about alleged “progress on the nuclear issue”, the concert has helped to foster an impression that the soft approach to the country is working and will eventually bring about the miraculous transformation of a destitute rogue state into a reforming nation, akin to China or Vietnam. However, this sense of optimism needs to be kept in perspective. The North Korean regime has been striving to acquire nuclear weapons for half a century. Pyongyang needs them both as a deterrent against a foreign attack and as a negotiating chip to deploy in order to squeeze important concessions from the outside world.

FT 24th March 2008 more >>

Posted: 24 March 2008

23 March 2008

New nukes

Article by Pete Roche: YESTERDAY IT was revealed that Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy will sign an agreement this week to export nuclear technology around the world. Brown hopes Britain can create a skilled labour force working in partnership with France to sell reactors around the globe, supposedly to help combat climate change. But the two leaders will be opening a Pandora’s box, which is more likely to damage the solutions to global warming.

Sunday Herald 23rd March 2008 more >>

Britain and France will announce a deal to build new nuclear power stations and export the technology worldwide during President Nicolas Sarkozy’s state visit next week, the Guardian reported Saturday.

AFP 22nd March 2008 more >>

PA 22nd March 2008 more >>

Anti-nuclear groups have expressed their disappointment at reports that the UK is poised to join France in creating new nuclear generators.

BBC 22nd March 2008 more >>

ITN 22nd March 2008 more >>

Newcastle Evening Chronicle 22nd March 2008 more >>

Ananova 22nd March 2008 more >>

An Anglo-French plan for a new generation of nuclear power stations will be unveiled by Nicolas Sarkozy and Gordon Brown this week as part of a series of measures designed to forge a “fraternal” relationship between the two countries.

Sunday Telegraph 23rd March 2008 more >>

British Energy

The government has promised the European and UK utility giants circling British Energy that it will not block a takeover of the £13bn nuclear generator, in which it holds a 35 per cent stake. This opens the way for British Energy to become the latest UK independent energy company to be swallowed up – most likely by Eon or RWE of Germany, French firm EDF, or a combination of the three. A deal could be struck this summer.

Observer 23rd March 2008 more >>

But nothing is ever simple when it comes to the nuclear sector, particularly where the government is involved. If British Energy was sold in its entirety to one buyer, that purchaser would subsequently have a stranglehold on the best sites. Indeed, barring competitors from building new reactors in this way is one of the biggest attractions of buying the company. Yet this would be anathema to the government’s free-market ethos.

Observer 23rd March 2008 more >>

THE gas and electricity group Centrica is examining a £10 billion bid for British Energy (BE), the nuclear power company that last week confirmed it was in talks with potential suitors. Centrica, led by chief executive Sam Laidlaw, hopes it can provide a “British solution” to the future of British Energy, which has been evaluating partners for some months. However, senior sources at Centrica say the company may lack the firepower to see off rivals, thought to include France’s EDF, Germany’s RWE and Spain’s Iberdrola.

Sunday Times 23rd March 2008 more >>

Iran

A senior officer in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has emerged as the father of a nuclear programme that western intelligence services believe is aimed at producing a warhead capable of devastating any city in the Middle East.

Sunday Times 23rd March 2008 more >>

Nuclear Weapons

President Nicolas Sarkozy called for new limits on nuclear weapons yesterday after accepting an advanced nuclear submarine called Le Terrible into the French navy.

Belfast Telegraph 22nd March 2008 more >>

Fuel Poverty

Households face the misery of being hit by an extra £100 on their energy bills by the end of the year on top of the average increase of £128 they have already faced since Christmas, experts have predicted. The price rises will come as a particular blow to pensioners and others on low fixed incomes, who are already feeling the pinch of rising food, transport and petrol costs amid wider anxieties over the economy.

Observer 23rd March 2008 more >>

Soon after Labour came to power, the government set itself a binding target of eradicating the vast majority of fuel poverty in England by 2010, and entirely across the UK by 2018. Yet the number of fuel-poor households has been rising steadily since 2005 as oil prices – and utility bills – have increased. It is now the highest for a decade. The government faces charges of incompetence, and every time an energy group makes a big profit, howls of protest follow. Who is to blame?

Observer 23rd March 2008 more >>

Renewables

Britain is set this week to enter a new age, generating energy directly from the seas that surge around its shores. On Saturday a strange, 122ft- long contraption – looking like an upside-down windmill – will set off from the Belfast dock that built the Titanic to produce the first electricity ever brought ashore from British tides.

Independent on Sunday 23rd March 2008 more >>

Peter Fraenkel, one of Britain’s most respected pioneers of renewable energy, has been working on the idea behind the new tidal turbine for longer than 30 years and originally used the technology on the River Nile.

Independent on Sunday 23rd March 2008 more >>

Two events this week will set out very different visions of Britain’s future in an age of accelerating climate change and diminishing supplies of oil – and very different views on how this country can lead the world. On Thursday Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy will meet amid much ballyhoo in the unlikely environment of Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, where they are expected to sign an agreement to build a new generation of nuclear power stations and to export the technology around the globe. And on Saturday, as we report today, a barge is set quietly to slip out of Belfast to install the world’s first-ever commercial tidal power turbine in the much more attractive surroundings of Strangford Lough.

Independent on Sunday 23rd March 2008 more >>

Mikhail Prokhorov, Russia’s sixth-richest tycoon, has claimed that the UK is “missing a trick” in its search for clean energy and vowed to “invest billions” in hydrogen fuel cells. Mr Prokhorov told The Independent on Sunday that the UK’s commitment to a nuclear energy programme overlooked research that suggests hydrogen technology could be a more efficient option.

Independent on Sunday 23rd March 2008 more >>

Companies

SCOTTISHPOWER moved closer to French ownership this weekend amid a series of cross-border talks that would reshape the European energy market. Electricité de France (EdF) and Spanish construction firm ACS are already targeting Spain’s biggest utility, Iberdrola, owner of ScottishPower in a deal that would see the Scottish firm come under the control of the state-owned French utility. Under the latest plans, the pair also want to buy Union Fenosa, the third-biggest Spanish utility.

Scotland on Sunday 23rd March 2008 more >>

Posted: 23 March 2008

22 March 2008

New nukes

Britain and France are to sign a deal to construct a new generation of nuclear power stations and export the technology around the world in an effort to combat climate change. The pact is to be announced at the “Arsenal summit” next week when prime ministers Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy will meet at the Emirates stadium in north London.

Guardian 22nd March 2008 more >>

A union-sponsored conference on the future of the nuclear industry might once have attracted a few dedicated insiders and PR managers, perhaps to one of the miserably utilitarian buildings around Sellafield. But a meeting on Wednesday organised by Unite will see presentations by the business secretary, John Hutton, British Energy’s chief executive, Bill Coley, and a host of other senior industry figures to a packed room of more than 150 delegates. And it will take place at the incongruously glamorous location of the Bafta film and television headquarters in London’s West End.

Guardian 22nd March 2008 more >>

Nuclear Weapons

Nicolas Sarkozy announced yesterday that France is to cut its nuclear arsenal, but insisted that nuclear deterrence remained a “life-insurance” in the face of new threats. Speaking at the launch of a nuclear-armed submarine, Mr Sarkozy said France’s airborne strike force would be cut by a third, leaving it with fewer than 300 warheads.

Telegraph 22nd March 2008 more >>

Mirror 22nd March 2008 more >>

Daily Mail 22nd March 2008 more >>

BBC 21st March 2008 more >>

CNN 21st March 2008 more >>

President Nicolas Sarkozy called for new limits on nuclear weapons yesterday after accepting an advanced nuclear submarine called Le Terrible into the French navy.

Independent 22nd March 2008 more >>

French President Nicolas Sarkozy pledged on Friday to maintain a strong nuclear weapons program in order to defend his country against threats such as the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran.

Reuters 21st March 2008 more >>

Proliferation

For a well-resourced state, the undetected procurement of nuclear capability is no longer very, very hard. Today, it is merely difficult. And paranoia, as the Israeli bombing example displays, has risen accordingly. Becoming a nuclear power is a costly, time-consuming and risky exercise involving murky deals on the black market. Players are forced to immerse themselves in a new international industry staffed by mercenary scientists, arms dealers and spies. But it can be done, and the rewards are great. Having the bomb buys a regime or state power, prestige and security.

Daily Mail 22nd March 2008 more >>

Companies

The power group Électricité de France is planning to team up with a construction company to launch a bid worth almost €90bn (£70bn) for two of the three biggest utilities in Spain, it emerged yesterday. The deal would involve the partners taking control of Iberdrola, the owner of Scottish Power, and Unión Fenosa, according to the Wall Street Journal. Under the deal, the Spanish construction company ACS, which owns 13% of the Bilbao-based Iberdrola, would buy it outright and sell off assets such as Scottish Power to EDF. The French giant would then take over parts of Fenosa. ACS owns 45% of Fenosa.

Guardian 22nd March 2008 more >>

Telegraph 22nd March 2008 more >>

Dounreay

DOUNREAY will be no more within 16 years if newly-revised plans by site contractor the UKAEA come to pass. The decommissioning of the one-time hub of the UK’s fast reactor programme can be completed by 2024, the country’s nuclear clean-up quango is being told. The UKAEA is also saying the work can be done for £3 billion – half a billion less than the previous estimate.

John O Groat Journal 21st March 2008 more >>

MOVES to employ robotic search-and-retrieve devices as part of the intended partial clean-up of the contaminated seabed off Dounreay are continuing this week with a new series of underwater trials.

John O Groat Journal 19th March 2008 more >>

A PIECE of radioactive plastic found buried on Dunnet beach is currently being analysed by scientists at Dounreay. It is believed to be the latest unwanted jetsam to have been washed up on the tide from the plant. The UKAEA has confirmed that Tuesday’s find on the beauty spot has the site’s “radioactive signature”. A large particle was detected and recovered on the Sandside foreshore on Wednesday afternoon. Initial tests put it in the significant category, of similar activity to those previously found there.

John O Groat Journal 21st March 2008 more >>

Posted: 22 March 2008