News October 2011

31 October 2011

Sellafield

Taxpayers will be expected to pay the full costs of closing down and decommissioning a nuclear fuel plant at Sellafield which was built to provide plutonium-uranium mixed oxides (Mox) fuel to foreign power companies. A senior Sellafield executive has reassured Japanese customers that they will not have to pay the expected £100m costs of decommissioning the Sellafield Mox Plant, in Cumbria, which was closed in August because of Japan’s “anticipated” cancellation of orders as a consequence of the Fukushima incident. Next week, the Government is expected to announce its response to a public consultation on what to do with the UK’s huge 112 tonne stockpile of plutonium waste stored at Sellafield. It has said that its “preferred option” is to build another Mox plant at Sellafield, this time dedicated to dealing with British-owned plutonium.

Independent 31st Oct 2011 more >>

Radwaste

With nice timing for the scary Halloween season the Managing Radioactive Wastes Safely Partnership have produced a draft consultation document which will be used to continue promoting the “steps towards geological disposal” of high level nuclear wastes in Cumbria’s leaky geology.

101 uses for nuclear power 30th Oct 2011 more >>

Energy Security

Two new power stations in Yorkshire, creating more than 1,000 jobs and enough energy to power more than two million homes, will be approved. Charles Hendry, the energy minister, said this was “a further example of our determination to clear the backlog of planning applications, to stimulate growth and enhance our energy security”.

Telegraph 30th Oct 2011 more >>

Energy Prices

SSE, the owner of Southern Electric, is writing to the Energy Secretary, Chris Huhne, to say it will get rid of loss-leading discounts for online customers in order to “give everyone a fairer deal”.

Telegraph 31st Oct 2011 more >>

Japan

Nearly eight months after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, Japan is resuming steps it hopes will lead to exports of commercial nuclear technology to India and Vietnam, even as Japan itself is scaling back the use of nuclear energy at home.

Wall Street Journal 31st Oct 2011 more >>

Two men were injured on Saturday at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, while assembling a crawler crane. The men were installing the crane’s back mast using another crawler crane, The support crane was lifting the back mast vertically in order to place it into its pivot points on the superstructure when the slings appear to have slipped or given way, dropping the mast onto the two men.

Vertikal 31st Oct 2011 more >>

The nuclear industry is constantly reassuring the public that its reactors are safe. But, as the nuclear disaster in Japan continues to unfold, the evidence mounts that these assurances frequently can’t be trusted at all and that in Japan in particular, the nuclear industry and the government have failed in their duty to protect the Japanese people. Media reports on this week’s publication of Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) manuals said the documents show that ‘the utility’s lack of preparedness for an emergency’ was ‘a major factor leading to the meltdowns after the March 11 quake-tsunami’, so it’s no wonder the company had previously refused to make the full documents public. It was Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency that demanded disclosure.

Greenpeace International 28th Oct 2011 more >>

Germany

German artist Anselm Kiefer wants to buy a shut-down nuclear power plant, he told a German magazine, just as Europe’s biggest economy phases out atomic power due to safety concerns following the Fukushima disaster in Japan earlier this year.

Reuters 30th Oct 2011 more >>

Nuclear Weapons

The world’s nuclear powers are planning to spend hundreds of billions of pounds modernising and upgrading weapons warheads and delivery systems over the next decade, according to an authoritative report published on Monday. Despite government budget pressures and international rhetoric about disarmament, evidence points to a new and dangerous “era of nuclear weapons”, the report for the British American Security Information Council (Basic) warns. It says the US will spend $700bn (£434bn) on the nuclear weapons industry over the next decade, while Russia will spend at least $70bn on delivery systems alone. Other countries including China, India, Israel, France and Pakistan are expected to devote formidable sums on tactical and strategic missile systems.

Guardian 30th Oct 2011 more >>

Posted: 31 October 2011

30 October 2011

Plan B

The Plan B authors propose investment that would be made possible by a new round of quantitative easing. Beyond the usual suspects, such as transport and housing, the main plank of the plan would be the development of a Green New Deal, and the job creation that would come with ensuring the UK was the most environmentally friendly country in the world.

Guardian 29th Oct 2011 more >>

Radwaste

Exhibition and series of events: In Lakeland’s leaky geology; a huge system of underground tunnels; to contain man’s most long lasting legacy; Is it possible? Is it ethical? How will we tell future generations? Should we make more waste? 24th March to 19th Mat 2012 Kendal Museum.

Rock Solid Expo 28th Oct 2011 more >>

Japan

Japanese officials in towns around the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant reacted guardedly to plans announced on Saturday to build facilities to store radioactive waste from the clean-up around the plant within three years.

Reuters 29th Oct 2011 more >>

Test Veterans

A devastating new report shows that eight in 10 of Britain’s nuclear test ¬veterans went on to develop multiple medical conditions. And three in four of the men who survived atomic blasts in the 1950s fear their health was ¬damaged due to being used as ¬human guinea pigs for Cold War scientists. A survey by the Ministry of Defence shows 83 per cent have since developed ¬between two and nine ¬serious long-term ¬illnesses. Some have more than 10.

Sunday Mirror 30th Oct2011 more >>

For 10 years the Sunday Mirror has exposed the treatment of our nuclear-test veterans as one of this country’s greatest scandals. Now a Ministry of Defence survey confirms it. Successive governments have treated the vets with contempt by refusing to accept that they were terribly damaged by being deliberately exposed to atomic blasts in the 1950s.

Sunday Mirror 30th Oct 2011 http://www.mirror.co.uk/opinion/voiceofthemirror/2011/10/30/just-how-much-more-do-nuclear-veterans-need-to-prove-115875-23524746/

Renewables

Members of the solar sector are preparing to stage a protest calling on the prime minister to intervene to block anticipated plans to halve feed-in tariff (FIT) incentives for solar installations, which they fear will “kill off” the fast-expanding industry.

Business Green 28th Oct 2011 more >>

Workers at PV Crystalox’s Oxfordshire factory were glum as they filed out on Friday evening. The plant makes components for solar panels. It’s the kind of green technology that is supposed to be leading Britain to recovery, but Crystalox is being squeezed on all sides. Last week it started a 30-day consultation on redundancies among its 140 staff. A fortnight ago the company warned it would make an operating loss at the end of the year. Citing tough market conditions, it outlined plans to shrink production in Oxfordshire and suspend work at its polysilicon processing site in Germany. The news sent its share price down 42% in a day. Crystalox is far from alone. Across Europe and America, makers of solar panels are taking a battering from cheap Chinese competition, high raw material prices and stagnant demand. Cuts to government subsidies in Germany and Italy — Europe’s biggest markets — and in Britain mean the solar-power gold rush is coming to an end.

Sunday Times 30th Oct 2011 more >>

Homeowners who fitted solar panels will soon be left out of pocket according to a leaked document which reveals the government is planning to slash the amount of money it pays for generating renewable energy. In an embarrassing slip-up, the Energy Savings Trust charity accidentally published confidential details of proposals to cut renewable energy payments by more than 50 per cent. It would mean the amount the average household receives for generating solar energy would fall from £1,190 to £640.

Daily Mail 29th Oct 2011 more >>

Environmentally-aware whisky makers are using their waste to produce electricity with one of the major producers putting £80m into bio-energy. In particular, they have worked out how to use the waste from the production process to power biomass plants that produce enough heat and energy to run the distilleries. They are avoiding thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions and cutting their energy bills.

Sunday Times 30th Oct 2011 more >>

Posted: 30 October 2011

29 October 2011

New Nukes

French power company Electricite de France SA, or EDF, (EDF.FR), Friday decided to delay the construction of four planned nuclear reactors in the U.K., a company spokeswoman said, confirming a report from Les Echos newspaper. EDF is taking time to evaluate the consequences of delays at a reactor under construction in Flamanville, northern France and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan, the spokeswoman said. EDF will release a new calendar for the project during the fall, she said. Les Echos said the company is evaluating whether conditions for the EUR20 billion investment are met in the U.K. EDF was planning to start building the first of the planned nuclear rectors in 2013, the newspaper said

Fox Business 28th Oct 2011 more >>

Les Echos 28th Oct 2011 more >>

The head of EDF Energy said that, although significant progress has been made, it is too early to say when construction of its new UK reactors is likely to start. Meanwhile, Horizon has completed the purchase of land next to the existing Wylfa plant.

World Nuclear News 28th Oct 2011 more >>

The first of the UK’s new nuclear power stations looks set to be complete by 2019 at the earliest, analysts forecast, after developer EDF Energy said it expects to take its final investment decision at the end of next year. “They [EDF] would be looking at a minimum five-year build time, but in reality, even with all being well, six years is more realistic,” one utilities analyst said on Friday. EDF had originally expected a start date of 2018 for its 3.2GW Hinkley Point C plant, but following the Japanese nuclear disaster in March, this was delayed. The likely date for the final investment decision was revealed by EDF Energy chief executive Vincent De Rivaz as he addressed the Nuclear Development Forum on Thursday. He said the decision was dependent on three elements being in place: Transitional arrangements for the introduction of Contracts for Difference – one of the main components of the government electricity market reform package – are in place; Arrangements for the funded decommissioning plan are set; The company having “a high level of confidence” in the cost and timetable for construction. “Beyond the final investment decision there will be the question of when we can start main construction, and beyond that, of when we can expect to complete construction,” de Rivaz said. But he stopped short of giving an anticipated completion date.

Heren Energy 28th Oct 2011 more >>

Hinkley

EDF is expected to submit its application for a new-build nuclear power station to the UK Infrastructure Planning Commission next week. According to a statement by Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater in West Somerset, the home of the proposed Hinkley Point facility, the planning application is imminent’

Infrastructure Journal 28th Oct 2011 more >>

EDF Energy has confirmed it will start site preparation works at Hinkley Point C in the Spring and has also completed the sale of land at Wylfa to the Horizon nuclear consortium for a proposed new reactor.

Construction News 28th Oct 2011 more >>

Radwaste

Draft West Cumbria Managaing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership Consultation Document available. This will be discussed at the Partnership meeting on 3rd November before the consultation is officially launched.

WCMRWS Partnership 27th October 2011 more >>

Stress Tests

Greenpeace today presented a map allowing citizens in every European country to see how nuclear plants fared under ‘stress tests’. After the Fukushima disaster in Japan, Brussels told all nuclear power plant operators to carry out tests, hand over and publish the results by 31 October. They are meant to see whether plants can stand up to extreme scenarios, including earthquakes, floods, loss of power and cooling. To date, several regulators had failed to disclose the results to the public, despite being urged to do so by European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group, the group that designed the tests. Early Greenpeace analysis of the 10,000 or so published report pages revealed missing results. Multiple-reactor failure that struck at Fukushima was supposed to be examined, but is missing from results. The threat of airplane crashes were also a promised part of tests, but are largely ignored.

Greenpeace 28th Oct 2011 more >>

Greenpeace on Friday slammed “alarming gaps” in EU-wide safety checks on nuclear plants, notably for failing to address “the unthinkable” after Fukushima. Seeking to ease public concerns following the March earthquake and tsunami that triggered Japan’s nuclear crisis, the European Commission and national atomic operators struck a deal to launch stress tests on the European Union’s 143 reactors in June. But environmental watchdog Greenpeace said in a statement that early analysis of reports issued so far “reveals alarming gaps in results.”

EU Business 28th Oct 2011 more >>

Nuclear Security

A team of nuclear security experts led by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has visited the UK to assess civil nuclear security arrangements. This follows a commitment made in advance of President Obama’s Nuclear Security Summit in April 2010. The International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) Mission assessed the UK’s laws and regulations around nuclear material and nuclear facilities. The Mission Team also assessed compliance with the International Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials and the IAEA’s guidelines on nuclear security. The Mission Team visited the Sellafield civil nuclear site and Barrow port, which is used for the transport of civil nuclear material, to see first-hand how these measures are implemented in practice. The IAEA concluded the state of civil nuclear security is sufficiently robust. This is both in the context of the legal and regulatory framework and how this is implemented at the Sellafield site and the Barrow port.

DECC 28th Oct 2011 more >>

Wylfa

German utilities RWE AG (RWE.XE) and E.ON AG (EOAN.XE) completed the GBP200 million purchase of land for a new nuclear station at Wylfa in Wales, an RWE spokeswoman said in an email Friday.

Dow Jones 28th Oct 2011 more >>

Submarines

Public Consultation on Dismantling. Documents available.

MoD 28th Oct 2011 more >>

The Ministry of Defence has revealed it wants to dismantle nuclear submarines stored at Devonport in Plymouth and Rosyth in Fife at both sites.

BBC 28th Oct 2011 more >>

REDUNDANT nuclear submarines could be broken up at a Westcountry dockyard amid claims its major job boost will pose huge risks to public safety. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) today begins a 16-week consultation examining options for dismantling decommissioned nuclear-powered vessels.

Western Morning News 28th Oct 2011 more >>

A sixteen week public consultation by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on options for dismantling submarines that have left service with the Royal Navy has started. The consultation aims to seek the views of the public on disposal of the Navy’s redundant nuclear submarines, which are contaminated with radioactive waste.

Nuclear Information Service 28th Oct 2011 more >>

Nuclear Submarine Forum (NSubF) – Briefing on the Ministry of Defence Submarine Dismantling Project (SDP)

Nuclear Submarine Forum 28th Oct 2011 more >>

Japan

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant may have released twice as much radiation into the atmosphere as previously estimated, according to a study that contradicts official explanations of the accident. In a report published online by the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics experts from Europe and the US estimated that the quantity of the radioactive isotope caesium-137 released at the height of the crisis was equivalent to 42% of that from Chernobyl.

Guardian 28th Oct 2011 more >>

A government panel on Friday said that decommissioning the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is likely to take 30 years or more, local media reported. “We set a goal to start taking out the (core) debris within a 10-year period,” the panel under the Japan Atomic Energy Commission said in a draft, according to Kyodo News. “It is estimated that it would take 30 years or more to finish decommissioning.”

Japan Today 29th Oct 2011 more >>

Why is Japan not tapping into its vast potential for geothermal energy capabilities? And will the nation finally start to wake up to the possibility of tapping into such resources in the wake of the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis? Geothermal power currently accounts for less than 1 per cent of Japan’s energy output – despite the fact that it is located above the world’s third largest reserve of geothermal resources (after the United States and Indonesia). The Japanese government has long imported its oil, goal and gas from overseas while investment in nuclear energy has been high since the 1970s oil crisis. As a result, at the time of the March 11 disaster, nuclear power accounted for 30 per cent of the nation’s electrical supplies, with plans to expand this to 50 per cent by 2050. A panel of government ministers are believed to be exploring whether to ease rules surrounding renewable energy plant construction in Japan – including the relaxation of regulations surrounding the drilling of geothermal resources at protected national parks, according to the Nikkei.

Telegraph 28th Oct 2011 more >>

Yesterday close to two hundred women from Fukushima began a three-day sit-in outside the Tokyo office of Japan’s Ministry of Economy calling for the evacuation of children from areas with high radiation levels and the permanent shut down of nuclear reactors in Japan currently switched off. Their peaceful protest is a powerful – almost radical – act in a country where standing up for something can often mean ostracism from one’s community. These are not women who regularly participate in civil protest. These are mothers who fear for their children’s safety and future. These are grandmothers separated from their families. The fact that they have put their own lives and families on hold for these three days reflects the harrowing situation these women and their families have found themselves in since the nuclear disaster.

Greenpeace International 28th Oct 2011 more >>

Pakistan

Pakistan has conducted a test flight of a multi-tube cruise missile, which is capable of delivering nuclear warheads. In a statement the Pakistani military Inter Services Public Relations organisation described the Hatf-VII (Babur) cruise missile as a terrain hugging missile with high maneuverability, stealth capabilities at low altitudes, and one that can deliver nuclear and conventional warheads with pin-point accuracy.

ITN 28th Oct 2011 more >>

Reuters 28th Oct 2011 more >>

Renewables

The offshore wind industry will today take a major step forward with the announcement of a raft of new seabed lease agreements from the Crown Estate that could support up to 5GW of new capacity. Together with planned Round 3 zones off the Scottish coast, the total awarded offshore wind capacity in Scottish waters is now nearly 10GW.

Business Green 28th Oct 2011 more >>

Solar subsidies will be dramatically cut by more than half, according to government documents that were prematurely published online and quickly taken down. The cut will almost double the payback period for householders, the document revealed, meaning someone installing £10-12,000 solar panels will only be in credit after 18 years rather than the current 10.

Guardian 28th Oct 2011 more >>

EST Briefing Document.

Guardian 28th Oct 2011 more >>

If the changes to feed-in tariffs (Fits) inadvertently published by the Energy Saving Trust today turn out to be correct, there will be two obvious questions for homeowners hoping to install solar. First, what will the cuts mean in financial terms? Second, will it be possible to install solar before the cuts kick in? Community schemes will be asking a third question, too: will they be offered any protection from the cuts?

Guardian 28th Oct 2011 more >>

Homeowners who decide to save money by generating their own renewable energy for the National Grid are to lose almost half their Government subsidy, prematurely published documents suggested yesterday. Drastic cuts to the feed-in tariff (FIT) for solar power, the guaranteed income to anyone who installs working solar panels in their roof, are likely to be announced by the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Chris Huhne, on Monday. And the precise level of the cut – from 43.3p per kilowatt hour of solar electricity to just 21p – appeared to be made clear yesterday in a document inadvertently published on the website of the Energy Saving Trust, the public advice body, and quickly taken down. Although the Department for Energy and Climate Change said later that the published document was “neither final nor accurate”, the swingeing 50 per cent cut in the subsidy it revealed was in linewith what observers have been expecting.

Independent 29th Oct 2011 more >>

The planned reduction to so-called feed-in tariff would almost double the time taken for households to make their money back on investments from about ten years to 18 years, meaning that domestic solar power is likely to become the preserve of wealthy homeowners, with spare cash to invest.

Times 29th Oct 2011 more >>

You could not make it up. In a development that reads like a plot from The Thick of It, the Energy Saving Trust inadvertently published a fact sheet on its web site this morning providing details of the government’s imminent cuts to solar feed-in tariff incentives and apparently confirming that they will, as widely expected, be halved to 21p per kWh. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) then rushed out a statement insisting that the document was “neither final nor accurate”, but declined to let anyone know what was inaccurate about it, leaving the 25,000 people who work in the solar industry facing a truly depressing weekend as they wait for Monday’s promised parliamentary announcement. The shambolic events follow a fortnight of leaks and rumours that offer an exemplary case study in media management at its worst. I am no conspiracy theorist, but the manner in which reports found their way into the press suggesting that that feed-in tariff rates could be cut to just 9p per kWh, only to be followed by an off-record briefing to the Financial Times suggesting that the rate would in fact be around 20p per kWh looks like a classic softening up exercise dreamed up by some real life Malcolm Tucker in Whitehall. The plan appears to have been to try to convince people that a rate of around 20p is in fact a good deal on the ground that it could have been a lot worse. The FT fell for it, running a story about an imminent halving of support that will eviscerate a fast-expanding industry under a headline suggesting that the move was a “boost” to the sector. It is impossible not to have a huge amount of sympathy for the solar companies which now face an extremely uncertain future.

Business Green 28th Oct 2011 more >>

Homeowners hoping to save money by leasing their roofs to host solar panels could struggle to sell their houses, surveyors have warned.

Telegraph 28th Oct 2011 more >>

Up to 2,500 turbines have been refused planning permission in recent years because the wind turbines in motion can mimic the spinning blades of jets, causing havoc on an air traffic controller’s radar screen. Both air defence and passenger jets are effected. However a new technology solves this problem by using a more sensitive radar that can tell the difference between wind turbines and aeroplanes. The data is fed back to air traffic control ensuring the correct information is known about the area where there are wind farms.

Telegraph 29th Oct 2011 more >>

Microgeneration

All the news about solar cuts and this week’s other Micro Power developments.

Microgen Scotland 28th October 2011 more >>

Posted: 29 October 2011

28 October 2011

Plutonium

A nuclear programme that was abandoned two decades ago has emerged as a possible 11th-hour solution to Britain’s plutonium-waste headache, which the Government has to decide on within weeks. Government officials are looking again at the possibility of using nuclear “fast reactors”, which were dropped by Britain in 1994, to dispose of more than 100 tonnes of waste plutonium stored at Sellafield in Cumbria. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and senior advisers within the Department for Energy and Climate Change (Decc) have asked for technical and financial details of an American-designed fast reactor that can burn up the plutonium waste as nuclear fuel. Within weeks of the Government’s expected response to a public consultation on plutonium waste, led by energy minister Chris Huhne, officials appear to be having second thoughts about their preferred solution to the problem, the building of a second plutonium-uranium oxides fuel plant at Sellafield.

Independent 28th Oct 2011 more >>

GDA

UK regulators continue to anticipate issuing interim approvals by the end of the year, according to the latest quarterly report on the progress of the UK’s Generic Design Assessment (GDA) for the AP1000 and UK EPR reactors. The newly published quarterly progress report covering the period to 30 September notes that the only resolution plans that are still to be agreed are those needed to address issues from the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan earlier this year. The recent publication of UK chief nuclear inspector Mike Weightman’s final report on Fukushima means that the companies should now be able to make progress on developing those plans, the ONR and EA say. If the two agencies find those plans to be “credible”, they will consider providing an interim Design Acceptance Confirmation (DAC) and interim Statement of Design Acceptability (SoDA) for each design. “We expect to be in a position to do this by the end of 2011,” the latest report states.

World Nuclear News 27th Oct 2011 more >>

Energy Prices

Ministers risk undermining the competitiveness of UK manufacturers by loading 50 per cent more costs on to the electricity bills of energy-intensive users compared with Germany, a study has found. The figures, disclosed on Thursday by the EEF manufacturers’ association, will heighten a Whitehall debate over how to shield British companies from the full burden of energy and climate change policies. From 2013, a carbon floor price will increase electricity bills across the board, with the chemicals, steel and aluminium industries most exposed. In that year, British government policy will add 24 per cent to the bills of an energy-intensive manufacturer, according to the EEF. The comparable figure in Germany will be 16 per cent.

FT 27th Oct 2011 more >>

Telegraph 28th Oct 2011 more >>

Times 28th Oct 2011 more >>

Hinkley

EDF Energy will not set a firm date for completion of its first new nuclear power plant in Britain until it makes its final investment decision at the end of next year, the chief executive said on Thursday. “I will not give a firm and final completion date at this stage. At the moment of the FID (Final Investment Decision), I expect to be able to do so,” CEO Vincent de Rivaz said in a statement. Britain’s largest nuclear power producer plans to submit a 30,000-page planning application to the UK’s Infrastructure Planning Commission for the new plant before the end of this month, Rivaz said. In July it applied for a site licence and an environmental permit for its Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in Somerset.

Reuters 27th Oct 2011 more >>

Wylfa

Another step has been taken towards the development of a new nuclear power station at Wylfa. Horizon Nuclear Power and Isle of Anglesey County Council have signed a Planning Performance Agreement which sets out the working arrangements for both parties in relation to the specific activities the council will need to carry out to fully and impartially assess Horizon’s proposals.

News Wales 27th Oct 2011 more >>

Daily Post 27th Oct 2011 more >>

The consortium behind a new nuclear power station on Anglesey have completed the purchase of more land. Horizon Nuclear Power (HNP) secured the purchase of the land near the proposed Wylfa B site at auction in 2009. The transaction was subject to a number of conditions which its says have now been resolved. “Taking title to the land is one of the key steps required for us to be able to develop a new power station on the Wylfa site,” said HNP. As a result of the completion of the purchase, land within the government boundary for permanent nuclear buildings transfers into Horizon’s ownership from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and energy firm EdF.

BBC 27th Oct 2011 more >>

German utilities E.ON and RWE paid between 200-250 million pounds for purchasing land at Wylfa nuclear power plant in Britain to build a new station.

Reuters 27th Oct 2011 more >>

North Wales Chronicle 27th Oct 2011 more >>

Hartlepool

EDF Energy has restarted its 620-megawatt (MW) UK Hartlepool R2 nuclear reactor on Thursday morning, the company said in a statement.

Reuters 27th Oct 2011 more >>

Dounreay

Northern Irish firm Graham Construction will build vaults on a former military airfield in the Scottish Highlands, Graham Construction will begin work next month on a £100m store for low-level radioactive waste from a former nuclear power station. The Northern Irish firm will construct up to six shallow vaults on a former military airfield near Dounreay in the Scottish Highlands for client Dounreay Site Restoration Limited (DSRL). When complete in 2014, they will be used to hold items like paper, rags, tools, glass, concrete and clothing which contain small quantities of mostly short-lived radioactivity.

Building 27th Oct 2011 more >>

Radwaste

NUCLEAR waste and asbestos from Scotland are being dumped at Lillyhall. The radioactive material, classified as “very low-level waste”, includes contaminated items from the former nuclear plant at Chapelcross, near Annan. County councillors are furious, especially as the Scottish Government is against nuclear power and Scottish and Southern Energy has pulled out of the consortium to build a nuclear power station at Sellafield. The council has contacted the site director at Chapelcross and the head of the Scottish Government’s radioactive waste team to voice its concerns. It says that it is “entirely inappropriate” to dump radioactive waste at Lillyhall.

Whitehaven News 27th Oct 2011 more >>

Bulgaria

Bulgaria’s 30-year-old plan to build a nuclear power plant in an earthquake-prone area on the Danube may become the European Union’s first atomic project doomed by Japan’s disaster, leaving a $2 billion hole in the ground.

Bloomberg 26th Oct 2011 more >>

Japan

The wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan may have released more than twice the amount of radiation estimated by the Japanese government, a study by European and U.S.-based scientists said.

Bloomberg 27th Oct 2011 more >>

Japan’s nuclear disaster in Fukushima released twice as much radioactivity into the atmosphere as the authorities initially estimated, according to a new report.

Telegraph 28th Oct 2011 more >>

France’s nuclear monitor said on Thursday that the amount of caesium 137 that leaked into the Pacific from the Fukushima disaster was the greatest single nuclear contamination of the sea ever seen. But, confirming previous assessments, it said caesium levels had been hugely diluted by ocean currents and, except for near-shore species, posed no discernible threat. From March 21 to mid-July, 27.1 peta becquerels of caesium 137 entered the sea, the Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) said. One peta becquerel is a million billion bequerels, or 10 to the power of 15. Of the total, 82 percent entered the sea before April 8, through water that was pumped into the Fukushima’s damaged reactor units in a bid to cool them down, it said.

AFP 27th Oct 2011 more >>

Japan Today 28th Oct 2011 more >>

Greenpeace today lodged a freedom of information request (FOI) with Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, demanding that existing scenario maps covering nuclear disasters at plants, including the Ohi 3 reactor in Fukui, be released, so that local authorities and the public can better assess the risks to be faced from potential future nuclear disasters.

Greenpeace International 28th Oct 2011 more >>

Spiralling oil prices and strong demand for gas after the Fukushima nuclear disaster helped Shell double its profits between July and September. Europe’s largest oil company reported profits of £4.5 billion, up from £2.2 billion, at a time of continued fuel price misery for British motorists.

Independent 27th Oct 2011 more >>

Tokyo Electric Power has asked for about 900 billion yen ($12 billion) from a government-sponsored bailout body as the first instalment of tax payer-funded assistance to pay for compensation from the crisis at its Fukushima nuclear plant.

Reuters 28th Oct 2011 more >>

Submarines

Britain has built thirty nuclear submarines in the past sixty years, but still hasn’t solved the problem of what to do with the reactors that power them. Several old submarines are laid up at Devonport Naval base, but the idea of storing the reactors there is controversial. The Ministry of Defence is opening a formal consultation process.

West Country Tonight 27th Oct 2011 more >>

A public consultation on the dismantling of the UK’s retired nuclear submarines is set to get under way. Rosyth in Fife and Devonport in Plymouth are the two preferred sites being considered as locations for removing the radioactive material from the vessels. The consultation, which gets under way on Friday, will look at how and where this process will be carried out.

BBC 27th Oct 2011 more >>

Nuclear Weapons

The dismantling of a powerful nuclear bomb closes a chapter of the cold war. But the choices and responsibilities embedded in the story of the B53 make this a 21st-century story too.

Open Democracy 27th Oct 2011 more >>

Trident

The First Minister has guaranteed he would scrap the Trident nuclear programme if Scotland gains independence. Speaking on STV’s Scotland Tonight show, Alex Salmond agreed “100%” he would get rid of the nuclear submarine programme if he wins independence for the country.

STV 26th Oct 2011 more >>

Energy Efficiency

Scotland has some of the most challenging carbon reduction targets in the world. The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 sets targets to reduce Scotlands greenhouse gas emissions by 42 per cent by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050. All of us householders, businesses, government and social enterprises have a responsibility to reduce energy use and find more sustainable ways to power our homes, our offices, our public buildings and our country. Today, Solas Scotland, a social enterprise with 25 years experience in energy-saving advice, advocacy and technology, will brief MSPs about our ambition to become the UKs leading energy cost reduction centre within two years, and how we hope to create jobs in the process. We will start with the community sector and charities, encouraging them to save money and reduce their carbon emissions by employing some very simple measures. We can advise them on the best energy-saving products, from solar to high-efficiency lighting. The beauty of our service is it is at worst cost-neutral for customers, as they can quickly recoup their initial outlay through lower energy bills. Utility Aid has already saved charities across the UK around 4 million on fuel bills since 2008 through its network of energy-efficiency managers.

Scotsman 27th Oct 2011 more >>

Renewables

Chris Huhne has hit out at critics of renewable energy, but rising home energy bills remain political kryptonite. Tackling this issue is the key to making the UK a green industrial powerhouse. When he said in his speech, “I know the prime minister agrees,” he highlighted the problem. He may know this, but we don’t. More importantly all those investors already creating thousands of green jobs, and who could create more, don’t either. As the Confederation of British Industry – scarcely treehuggers – said in response to Huhne’s speech: “We need to ensure that global low-carbon investors choose the UK as a place to do business, which requires certainty in both policy and language.” Ben Warren, at Ernst and Young, agreed: “In the longer term a more strategic view from government is desperately needed to … help overcome the short-term outlook coming from Treasury.” The immediate cause of the Conservative’s abandoning of their detoxifying green zeal is soaring domestic energy bills. This political kryptonite has been relentlessly and inaccurately pinned on green taxes, with the Daily Mail the prime offender. But the urgent investment needed in our energy infrastructure results from the unusually liberal energy market the UK has had for the past two decades. It kept bills low when cheap North Sea gas was flowing freely, but has given no incentive to invest for the future, when gas prices have soared. So rebuilding the UK’s energy infrastructure is a national investment in our future prosperity, and choosing anything other than clean, secure and inexhaustible sources would be madness. For that reason, the funding to get the industry on its feet should come from general taxation, not a levy on fuel bills that hits the poorest hardest. The government already chose this option for the £1bn for a carbon capture and storage demonstration plant. By not making energy bill payers stump up for the failings of past policies, the government in a single stroke draws the sting that is poisoning this vital issue. But if you don’t like that and are still worried about your household budget, I have another suggestion that will save you far more money than the actual green levies on your energy bills: stop buying the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday You’ll be £263 a year better off.

Guardian 27th Oct 2011 more >>

There are suggestions that the Government wants to slash the feed-in tariffs for solar PV by 80% – a move that would kill the industry and destroy thousands of jobs. We need your help. We need to make sure that the Government know about the success of the industry and the consequences of cuts this size, and we need you to help us tell them.

Our Solar Future 27th Oct 2011 more >>

The nascent solar industry is about to be thrown a lifeline by Greg Barker, climate change minister, who is poised to cut subsidies to small-scale generators by less than some operators had feared. The Department of Energy and Climate Change is expected within days to announce a cut in the “feed-in tariff” (FiT) from its current 43p per kWh to about 20p per kWh, the Financial Times has learnt. The new figure is high enough to maintain investment in the industry in the coming years but will stop what officials see as an overwhelming take-up by households. Solar companies had been afraid that the FiT could be reduced to 9p per kWh, as had been urged by some within DECC. At that level it was feared that the industry would be decimated. The turf war over small-scale solar did not involve the Treasury but was instead fought within DECC over the £860m allocation for the current spending round for feed-in tariffs in general. The money does not come directly from government, but via a small charge added to electricity customers’ bills. One Tory MP said that Mr Barker, who played a key role in setting up the FiT scheme while in opposition, had “fought tenaciously” to keep it on track. While the FiT system exists to encourage all forms of renewables, some 97 per cent has gone into the solar industry, prompting ministers and officials to seek to put a brake on the spending.

FT 26th Oct 2011 more >>

Anticipated cuts to feed-in tariffs of around 50 per cent will “kill interest in solar PV”, restricting the market to small numbers of installations by green households and businesses, according to a senior executive at the UK’s largest solar company. Speaking to BusinessGreen, Seb Berry, head of public affairs at Solarcentury, warned that if reports the government is planning to cut the level of feed-in tariff support for small-scale solar installations from 43p per kWh to around 20p per kWh prove accurate, the sector’s recent growth will grind to a halt. “This will kill interest in solar PV for social housing and free schemes,” he said. “It reduces the rate of returns to under five per cent and no investor will go near that.”

Business Green 27th Oct 2011 more >>

Solar power companies are resigned to government cuts to subsidies that have generated a boom in the fledgling industry, but community schemes to benefit low-income households are likely to be the biggest losers under the plans. From next April, householders will have to meet a certain standard of energy efficiency before they can be eligible for feed-in tariff subsidies, designed to give people a guaranteed income for the power produced by their solar panels. Officials said this would prevent people from getting subsidies for solar power while wasting energy through draughty and ill-equipped homes. Plans for a government consultation on slashing subsidies are expected to be published early next week. Industry experts fear that cuts will be too deep to allow companies to remain profitable, potentially snuffing out the UK’s solar boom. Under current plans, the level of the feed-in tariff is likely to more than halve, from 43p per kWh to 20p. The solar industry says it can broadly live with that level, but some companies warned that schemes to provide disadvantaged communities and households with low-cost power and heating would be the most likely to be scrapped under the changes.

Guardian 27th Oct 2011 more >>

Lower levels of subsidies were necessary to ensure there was more money to go around and the scheme would not just give “bumper returns to a lucky few”.

Independent 27th Oct 2011 more >>

The energyshare Fund applications have been shortlisted and vote buttons being built. We are in the last stretch now before the exciting announcement and when live voting will commence.

Energy Share News 27th Oct 2011 more >>

Posted: 28 October 2011

27 October 2011

Energy Security

A new report states that the government must start thinking strategically about energy security to protect the UK’s energy supply. The report, published by MPs on the Energy and Climate Change Committee, argues that gas storage capacity needs to be increased in the UK to minimise the potential damage from supply interruptions or price spikes. The UK is already reasonably energy secure, but encouraging investment in gas storage and insulating more homes will improve its position and help to reduce the impact of rising energy prices.

The Engineer 26th Oct 2011 more >>

The committee says it is not convinced that the Government’s Electricity Market Reform White Paper strikes the right balance between encouraging investment in new gas-fired power stations in the short term and the need to decarbonise the power sector by 2030. The proposed Emissions Performance Standard (EPS) could have been used to set out that pathway, but in its weak current form the MPs warn that it could lock the UK into a high-carbon, gas-dependent electricity system.

Energy & Climate Change Committee 25th Oct 2011 more >>

BG will buy 3.5m tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) each year for two decades from Cheniere Energy Partners, which operates a gas terminal in Louisiana. With US gas prices at a low, the move will allow BG to sell into more lucrative markets. Spot prices in Asia are around four times those in the US. The US has not traditionally been an exporter of gas, but new technology has allowed it to access vast reserves trapped in shale rock, swamping its domestic market. Cooling gas into LNG form means it can be shipped far and wide. In the long term, the exports could help bring down the price of gas around the world.

Telegraph 26th Oct 2011 more >>

Statoil has threatened to sell its gas elsewhere if Chris Huhne wins his battle with the Treasury to expand renewables radically and curb fossil-fuelled power plants. The Norwegian energy group, which supplies about a quarter of Britain’s gas consumption from the North Sea, warned that Britain could become a less attractive market if renewables and nuclear power were favoured at the expense of gas plants. The uncertainty created by the Government’s lengthy overhaul of the electricity market has been stoked by political infighting over Britain’s green agenda, one of the most ambitious — and potentially most expensive — in the world. Last night Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary, defied George Osborne when he told renewable energy leaders that Britain would not abandon its green-plan drive, despite the economic downturn. The Chancellor recently vowed that Britain would not cut its carbon emissions any faster than the rest of Europe and blamed record energy bills on renewable subsidies.

Times 27th Oct 2011 more >>

Politics

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne made a thinly-veiled attack on George Osborne for opposing green measures. Lib-Dem Mr Huhne criticised “green economy deniers” as he hit back at the Chancellor’s Tory conference declaration that Britain should not lead Europe in cutting carbon emissions if it holds back UK growth. Mr Osborne had said: “We aren’t going to save the planet by putting our country out of business.” Mr Huhne turned the words against him by saying: “We are not going to save our economy by turning our back on renewable energy.”

Evening Standard 26th Oct 2011 more >>

Hinkley

IT’S been much debated but now it’s official – the A39 at Washford Cross will get a roundabout if EDF Energy’s plans for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point are approved. The energy firm must build the roundabout before work begins on the nuclear facility as it forms one of several preliminary works to be carried out at the site earmarked for Hinkley C. It will serve a new park and ride planned by EDF at the nearby Smithyard Terminal for Hinkley construction works if it eventually receives permission for the nuclear station.

Somerset County Gazette 26th Oct 2011 more >>

Dounreay

Work is due to begin next month to construct a £100 million store for low-level radioactive waste from a former nuclear power station. Up to six shallow vaults will be built on land next to Dounreay in Caithness, with the first expected to be ready in 2014. They will be used to hold items like paper, rags, tools, glass, concrete and clothing which contain small amounts of mostly short-lived radioactivity.

Rutherglen Reformer 26th Oct 2011 more >>

Daily Record 26th Oct 2011 more >>

GDA

Quarterly report on the progress of Generic Design Assessment (GDA) of the AP1000 and UK EPR reactors. It follows publication of our GDA Issues and the Requesting Party (RP) resolution plans in July.

HSE 26th Oct 2011 more >>

Supply Chain

MCNULTY Offshore Construction is a leading manufacturer in the oil, gas and renewable energy sectors, and it is poised to clinch orders when the UK nuclear industry starts replacing old stock. McNulty, originally a small stevedore business in 1906, has built an unrivaled reputation, making key sections of offshore oil and gas rigs, and is now taking advantage of the growth in the alternative energy market.

The Journal 26th Oct 2011 more >>

Japan

The disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in March released far more radiation than the Japanese government has claimed. So concludes a study that combines radioactivity data from across the globe to estimate the scale and fate of emissions from the shattered plant.

Nature 25th Oct 2011 more >>

Scientists 26th Oct 2011 more >>

Japanese authorities are investigating what appears to a major cyberattack involving viruses or trojans against the servers of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in August of this year.

Info Security 26th Oct 2011 more >>

Iran

Iran is ready to resume negotiations with world powers on its nuclear programme, focusing on issues of “common ground,” foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said on Wednesday.

EU Business 26th Oct 2011 more >>

Bulgaria

Bulgaria has awarded a multi-million dollar contract to an international consortium for the design of a national low- and intermediate-level waste (LLW and ILW) repository on land adjacent to the Kozloduy nuclear power plant.

World Nuclear News 26th Oct 2011 more >>

A consortium made up of Spanish waste management company ENRESA, Westinghouse Electric Spain (WES) and Germany’s DBE Technology has been awarded a multi-million dollar contract for the design of a low and intermediate level waste repository at the Kozloduy nuclear power plant site in Bulgaria.

Nuclear Engineering International 26th Oct 2011 more >>

China

China is facing increasing safety risks from its nuclear power plants as existing facilities age and a large number of new reactors go into operation, the country’s environmental minister said in comments published on Wednesday.

Reuters 26th Oct 2011 more >>

Renewables

EU’s energy commissioner Gunther Oettinger, the director general for energy Philip Lowe, and the head of the EU’s Athens task force Horst Reichenbach have discussed the idea of enabling Greece to repay some of its debts to EU member states, such as Germany, by providing them with solar energy. EurActiv has learned that the EU’s energy directorate general has been asked to investigate the idea’s potential, which is so far hampered by a lack of enthusiasm from EU nations. “Several German companies have expressed interest in the idea but it would clearly be more interesting if several member states were involved,” a senior source told EurActiv.

Guardian 25th Oct 2011 more >>

Posted: 27 October 2011

26 October 2011

New Nukes

New report from No Need for Nuclear will show that the evidence given to Ministers, MPs and Parliament, on which they based their decisions in support of new nuclear power stations was false and an incorrect summary of the actual evidence and research carried out within Government.

NoNeed4Nuclear 25th Oct 2011 more >>

Horizon

The German consortium planning to build new nuclear plants in the UK is negotiating a cash injection of up to €5bn in exchange for a 25 per cent stake, according to people familiar with the situation. The talks underline the scale of the financial challenge behind the UK’s ambition to build a new generation of reactors. The proposal for an equity stake was raised during a series of meetings between the German utilities and Toshiba in London and Düsseldorf from July to discuss the financing of the project, according to people familiar with the talks. One industry source said similar discussions had taken place with Areva. A cash injection would help the strained finances of RWE and Eon, which are facing mounting costs as a result of Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear power by 2022. Eon in August announced its first quarterly loss and pledged to cut costs by €1.5bn every year until 2015. RWE, burdened by net debt of €27.5bn, has promised €11bn of asset sales by 2013.

FT 25th Oct 2011 more >>

Oldbury

Reactor 1 at the Oldbury nuclear power station in the United Kingdom will stop generating electricity in February 2012, ten months earlier than originally planned, operator Magnox Ltd has announced.

Nuclear Enginering International 25th Oct 2011 more >>

Nuclear Street 24th Oct 2011 more >>

Dounreay

Work to construct a £100m store to hold low-level radioactive waste from Dounreay is due to start next month. The dump at the former experimental nuclear power plant in Caithness will have six vaults, with the first vault expected to open in 2014. Low-level rubbish includes paper, rags, tools, glass, concrete and clothing contaminated by radioactivity. The demolition and clean-up of the Dounreay plant is expected to create 240,000 tonnes of such waste.

BBC 26th October 2011 more >>

Politics

A significant Cabinet split over the environment will emerge today when the Climate Change Secretary attacks the Chancellor, George Osborne, for threatening to abandon the Government’s green pledges. The simmering feud between the Coalition partners on environmental policy will break out into the open as Chris Huhne, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, launches an attack on Mr Osborne for vowing that the UK should not lead Europe in its efforts to cut carbon emissions. Mr Osborne is the leader of an increasingly influential faction within the Cabinet willing to sacrifice green policies if doing so is deemed helpful to economic growth. Whereas the Chancellor said at the Conservative Party conference that “We’re not going to save the planet by putting our country out of business,” Mr Huhne will say in a speech this morning: “We are not going to save our economy by turning our back on renewable energy.” “David Cameron’s claim to be the ‘greenest government’ lies in tatters after just 18 months,” said the shadow Energy and Climate Secretary, Caroline Flint. “From neutering the Green Investment Bank, to scrapping zero-carbon homes and undermining solar panels on schools, the Government’s old Tory ideas prevail at every turn. However green Chris Huhne tries to appear, we know that the true blues in Treasury undermine climate-change policies at every turn,” Ms Flint said. Mary Creagh, the shadow Environment Secretary, commented: “George Osborne’s out-of-date ‘go slow’ on green issues has infected the entire Government, which is why they are even failing on their own coalition commitments.”

Independent 26th Oct 2011 more >>

The climate and energy secretary, Chris Huhne, will attack “climate sceptics and armchair engineers” for criticising renewables, in a speech on Wednesday on the economic benefits of green energy. Huhne will insist the government is backing renewable energy and has resolved to make the UK the largest market in Europe for offshore wind. His speech to the annual renewable industry conference comes in the wake of the publication of government proposals to reduce subsidies for green technologies including onshore wind, although the plans contained better news on support for offshore wind, wave and tidal power. And the solar industry is bracing itself for an announcement on the review of feed-in tariffs that pay people for the electricity they generate from small-scale renewables, which is expected to slash payments for solar electricity. The industry claims the expected move will hit jobs and growth in the sector. But Huhne will say today that renewable energy technologies will deliver a new industrial revolution, creating jobs and bringing investment into the UK. Louise Hutchins of Greenpeace said: “It is increasingly clear that there’s a green war at the heart of government. On the one hand Chris Huhne is making a strong case for the strategic role renewable energy can play in creating jobs and reducing CO2 emissions, while at the same time George Osborne seems to be in perpetual denial about the benefits of investing in green growth. The renewables industry urgently needs a clear and coherent policy from the government so that lost confidence is restored. We’ll know the coalition’s priorities are sound if in the coming weeks ministers support smallscale solar and wind power at a level that will protect the growth in jobs and manufacturing in that sector, rather than slashing support as is currently rumoured.”

Guardian 26th Oct 2011 more >>

Chris Huhne is set to infuriate some Tory coalition partners today by dismissing “green economy deniers” who are sceptical about renewable energy projects. In an outspoken attack, the energy secretary will criticise what he calls “an unholy alliance of short-termists, armchair engineers, climate sceptics and vested interests” standing in the way of green power.

FT 26th Oct 2011 more >>

Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary, is planning to deploy an extraordinary range of insults to describe people who find fault with wind, solar, tidal and wave energy. The minister’s hardline support for renewable energy is understood to have antagonised senior Conservatives, including Chancellor George Osborne. Mr Osborne has previously expressed concern about green initiatives that are “piling costs on the energy bills of households and companies”.

Telegraph 26th Oct 2011 more >>

Times 26th Oct 2011 more >>

IAEA

Former UN nuclear monitor and Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei sees growth in nuclear energy — particularly in emerging economies — despite the Fukushima disaster caused by Japan’s March tsunami. “There will be, in the short term, a slowdown in some countries. But others like France, India or China (won’t see) an impact on their (nuclear) programs,” he told the Wall Street Journal on Monday.

Middle East Online 25th Oct 2011 more >>

China

According to the US Energy Information Administration’s International Energy Outlook 2011, China plans to add far more new nuclear capacity than any other nation. China will add 106 GW of nuclear capacity by 2035. Despite some temporary delay after Fukushima, China aims to have 40 reactors by 2020 and, by 2030, enough additional reactors to generate more power than all 104 reactors in the US.

IB Times 25th Oct 2011 more >>

Japan

Fukushima crisis update 17th to 20th October.

Greenpeace International 24th Oct 2011 more >>

Despite Mitsubishi Heavy Industrial’s denial that any valuable data was stolen in August’s cyber attack, a report claims there are signs it was. Sensitive data including plans for nuclear power plants and fighter jets “apparently was stolen” from Japanese industrial manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) during the cyber attack it uncovered in August 2011. When the company revealed the attack in September, it said “”crucial data about our products or technologies have been kept safe”. But the Asahi Shimbun newspaper this week cited ‘sources’ as saying that since then, an internal investigation found evidence that nuclear and military data was in fact taken during the attack.

Information Age 25th Oct 2011 more >>

The Inquirer 25th Oct 2011 more >>

Motorists in Japan are facing an unfamiliar peril. They are being offered used cars with low mileage, well-maintained engines and sound bodywork. The only flaw is that they are dangerously radioactive. In the aftermath of the nuclear disaster, used-car dealerships have found themselves stuck with vehicles that have absorbed high levels of radiation from the meltdown of the reactors at the Fukushima nuclear plant. Barred from exporting the vehicles, they have resorted to re-registering them to disguise their origin, and selling them to customers who have no idea of the risk to which they are being exposed.

Times 26th Oct 2011 more >>

US

Florida regulators have approved cost recovery amounts for the state’s two largest utilities related to the construction of planned nuclear power reactors and uprates of existing reactors. The utilities will be able to collect more than $280 million from customers in 2012.

World Nuclear News 25th Oct 2011 more >>

Nuclear Weapons

The last of the nation’s biggest nuclear bombs, a Cold War relic 600 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, has been dismantled in what one energy official called a milestone in President Barack Obama’s mission to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

Guardian 26th Oct 2011 more >>

Daily Mail 26th Oct 2011 more >>

Alert.net 25th Oct 2011 more >>

BBC 25th Oct 2011 more >>

Renewables

Letter from Euan McLeod (Glasgow City Council), Stephen Churchman (Gwynedd County Council), Ralph Pryke (Leeds City Council); Councillors and national chairs of Nuclear Free Local Authorities: Cutting financial incentives to wind farms is a kick in the teeth for the renewable energy industry at a time when it could help provide new jobs. We are dismayed that the UK Government is actively considering cutting financial incentives to wind farms. Following the reductions in feed-in tariffs for solar power, this is another kick in the teeth for the renewable energy industry at a time when it could actually help to provide Britain with much-needed new jobs, clean energy and economic vitality. Such a change of policy would be a disaster for the renewable energy industry and will clearly put targets to reduce carbon emissions under threat. We also have to compare this with the Government support for the nuclear industry — the billions given to manage our nuclear waste legacy, the huge effort to facilitate new nuclear build and the large indirect public subsidies available to new nuclear through electricity market reforms. Have we forgotten Fukushima so easily?

Times 24th Oct 2011 more >>

Here at WWF, we’re really worried at how the energy debate is currently playing out in the media. Renewable energy and green policies in general are being blamed on a daily basis for rising energy bills. An increasingly vocal lobby is calling on the government to cut support for renewable energy, abandon decarbonisation targets and embrace new forms of fossil fuel like shale gas. So what’s the main reason for recent energy bill increases? It’s primarily down to our over-reliance on gas. Between 2004 – when Britain became a net importer of gas – and 2009, the gas price for electricity generation rose by 84 per cent. Over the same period, electricity bills went up by 63 per cent. Whilst environmental policies have a cost, that cost has represented to date a small proportion of consumer bills.

Business Green 25th Oct 2011 more >>

Britain’s offshore wind industry will struggle to fulfill new orders in four years’ time as the yearly growth in UK offshore wind farms is expected to double between 2015 and 2016, figures released by Britain’s renewable energy trade association showed on Tuesday.

Reuters 25th Oct 2011 more >>

The boss of one of Britain’s largest energy companies has admitted that solar power is inefficient and that poorer households are subsidising richer ones who can afford to install panels on their roofs. Volker Beckers, chief executive of RWE npower, said that the amount of electricity that some solar panels generated did not justify the subsidies received by consumers who install them. Within days, the Government is to propose cuts in the generous subsidies for domestic solar panels, which are funded by blanket levies on all consumers’ energy bills. Many experts argue that “photovoltaic” (PV) roof-mounted panels do not generate enough renewable electricity to justify the handouts. Mr Beckers cited George Monbiot, the environmental commentator who has criticised the scheme as being unfair and too expensive.

Times 26th Oct 2011 more >>

Consumers have been warned to install solar panels as soon as possible, in anticipation of fierce subsidy cuts that will make them less financially attractive. Industry experts fear the government is about to at least halve feed-in tariff (Fit) rates, threatening up to 25,000 solar jobs, after officials were surprised at the speed of take-up. “If the government goes ahead with the reduction of the rates, it would mean those taking up the scheme in April 2012 will not receive as much money for their energy as those who signed up prior to the changes, so it really is important to start thinking about installing solar technology sooner rather than later,” said Helen Booker, solar expert at Npower. The money allocated to the Fits was set at 867m to 2015, with annual spending of 80m in 2011-12 rising to 161m in the next financial year. But the unexpected degree of enthusiasm for the feed-in tariffs, by which households gain a guaranteed income for every unit of energy their panels produce, means the money is already running out. Current and planned installations add up to about 100m worth of feed-in tariffs, according to the industry. More than 100,000 microgeneration systems mostly solar panels adding up to about 320 megawatts (MW) of capacity have been installed in the UK, nearly all since new feed-in tariff subsidies were introduced in April 2010. Around 100MW more are estimated to be in the pipeline. The Department of Energy and Climate Change estimates that installations are set to top 500MW, which would far outpace the budget.

Guardian 25th Oct 2011 more >>

Energy Efficiency

UK’s small businesses missing out on £7.7 billion by ignoring energy efficiency measures. Almost 4 million small businesses are currently energy inefficient. Only one in five UK SMEs have energy efficient equipment in the workplace 84 per cent of employees say being environmentally friendly makes them happier at work. Nearly four million of the UK’s 4.8 million small businesses are potentially missing out on £7.7 billion every year by not implementing energy efficiency measures, according to new research from E.ON.

Eon Press Release 24th Oct 2011 more >>

Fossil Fuels

BP’s “public consultation” over its plan for a controversial deepwater oil well off the coast of Shetland, closed this month, has been reopened by Chris Huhne, for further comments.

Independent 26th Oct 2011 more >>

Posted: 26 October 2011

25 October 2011

Non-Nuclear Futures

The UK could be primarily powered by renewable energy by 2030 without the need for new nuclear power plants, according to a report commissioned by WWF. Between 60% and 90% of the nation’s electricity could come from wind, solar, tidal and other sustainable sources, with the rest supplied via an international supergrid and gas power stations. David Nussbaum, chief executive of WWF-UK says “Failure to commit to a high-renewables future would leave us facing the prospect of dangerous levels of climate change and high energy prices.” The new report notes that meeting an existing 2020 renewable energy target will increase household bills by 4%, but that this could be more than offset by cuts in usage through better energy efficiency. WWF’s Positive Energy report differs from previous analyses by including a continuation of renewable energy building after 2020, as well as big increases in energy efficiency. The energy scenarios at the core of the report were developed by GL Garrad Hassan. In the highest renewables scenarios (90% of capacity), ambitious action on energy efficiency reduces the capital costs of renewables, gas and supergrid interconnectors from £216bn to £170bn. The report calls for a firm renewable target for 2030, to give long-term and stable financial support for the renewable industry. The warning that a new “dash for gas” could lock in high carbon emissions is echoed by the Commons select committee on energy and climate change.

Guardian 25th Oct 2011 more >>

The campaign group will use the report to call for the government to install a 60 per cent minimum target for renewable electricity by 2030, well above the 40 per cent goal proposed by the CCC in May and the 35 per cent set out by the government in its electricity market reforms. The report reasons that reducing energy demand through the use of financial incentives could cut the need for new generating infrastructure, saving up to £40bn.

Business Green 25th Oct 2011 more >>

High reliance on wind power supported by a portfolio of pan-European interconnections is the most effective route to a low-carbon future for UK electricity, according to a new report. The Positive Energy report, released by environmental group WWF based on modelling by consultants GL Garrad Hassan, finds that a not-too-ambitious scenario that includes 105GW of renewables, 20GW of gas and 35GW of interconnection would deliver near-decarbonisation by 2030, without the need for nuclear energy or carbon capture and storage. With sufficient interconnection, the report says, the UK could become a net exporter of renewable energy, particularly offshore wind power. The investment required for the high-wind, high-interconnector, low-gas scenario would amount to 212 billion (243.3 billion), 165 billion of which would be for renewable generation. Under this scenario, renewable source s would generate 61% of electricity demand.

Windpower Monthly 24th Oct 2011 more >>

Energy Security

The Government needs to step up its efforts to protect the UK’s energy supplies from short-term shocks, with the country’s “dangerously low” gas storage capacity leaving it prone to supply interruptions and sudden price spikes, an influential group of MPs will warn this morning. The Energy and Climate Change Committee will also point out that, while the UK is growing increasingly dependent on energy imports, the Department for Energy and Climate Change has not “published a strategy for achieving energy security”, in contrast to its approach to climate change. France’s storage capacity amounts to 87 days’ worth of supply. Germany boasts a capacity of 69 days. Moreover, more action was needed to cut waste. “The Government could be doing a lot more to reduce unnecessary energy wastage. It needs to look at how it can use building regulations and energy efficiency standards for electrical appliances to cut waste and save cash on people’s energy bills,” Mr Yeo said.

Independent 25th Oct 2011 more >>

Scotsman 25th Oct 2011 more >>

Old Reactors

Three British nuclear power units restarted at the weekend, increasing nuclear power production availability by 1,500 megawatts (MW) and weighing on short-term power prices on Monday. EDF Energy restarted its Sizewell B2 nuclear reactor on Sunday morning, after a seven-week refuelling outage, while reactor B21 at its Dungeness site restarted on Sunday afternoon. “Sizewell B resynchronised to the National Grid at around 0500 GMT (on) Sunday 23 October, following its planned refuelling outage which started on 2 September,” a spokeswoman for the operator said. Nuclear operator Magnox also restarted its 310-MW Wylfa unit 4, which had been out of service since an unplanned outage on Oct. 16.

Reuters 24th Oct 2011 more >>

East Anglian Daily Times 24th Oct 2011 more >>

Oldbury

After 44 years of operation, unit 1 of the UK’s Oldbury nuclear power plant will be permanently shut down in February 2012, ten months earlier than expected, Magnox Ltd announced.

World Nuclear News 24th Oct 2011 more >>

This is Gloucestershire 24th Oct 2011 more >>

Radwaste

Leeds University has formed a Sludge Centre of Expertise aimed at helping nuclear engineers work out how to dispose of nuclear waste safely and efficiently. The centre has teamed up with Sellafield Ltd to clean up radioactive waste produced by the UK nuclear industry. Sludge wastes have built up at nuclear power plans such as Sellafield after years of operation and the experts from Leeds will provide the plant’s nuclear engineers with information on the sludge that needs to be removed.

The Engineer 24th Oct 2011 more >>

Terror

Scientists at Northwestern University, Illinois, have outlined a new method for detecting electromagnetic radiation at the high energy end of the spectrum. The work could lead to the development of a small, hand held device able to detect this “hard radiation” and has implications for the detection of radioactive materials which could potentially be employed in terrorist weapons, such as nuclear bombs or radiological dispersion devices, as well as materials employed in clandestine nuclear programs.

Gizmag 24th Oct 2011 more >>

EDF

EDF has made what it hopes will be the decisive offer to end its long-running battle to take control of Edison, Italy’s second biggest utility by market capitalisation. EDF is keen to use Edison as a vehicle to develop its gas business. The French company is best known for its nuclear power plants, which supply 85 per cent of France’s electricity, but there are long-term concerns about the atomic energy market following the meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima plant.

FT 24th Oct 2011 more >>

Korea

North Korean and US diplomats began talks in Geneva today on Pyongyang’s nuclear programme, the second meeting in less than three months. US diplomats refused to state their specific goals for the two-day talks but have in the past said they want the country to stick to a 2005 deal requiring “verifiable denuclearisation.”

Morning Star 24th Oct 2011 more >>

Iran

The U.N. nuclear watchdog is expected to publish intelligence soon pointing to military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear activities but stopping short of saying explicitly that Tehran is trying to build atom bombs, Western diplomats say.

Reuters 24th Oct 2011 more >>

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has urged Iran to reassure the world about the nature of its nuclear drive but there is little hope talks will resume any time soon, diplomats said Monday.

EU Business 24th Oct 2011 more >>

Spain

The 1,027MW Almaraz 2 nuclear reactor in western central Spain was shut down yesterday because of overheating in a cooling pump. All parameters were stable when the unit was disconnected from the grid and it went into cold shutdown as a precautionary measure, the plant operators said.

Argus Media 24th Oct 2011 more >>

China

Construction of the first EPR unit at the Taishan nuclear power plant in China’s Guangdong province has reached a major milestone with the dome of the reactor building being lowered into place. First concrete was poured in October 2009, and unit 1 should begin operating in 2013, with unit 2 in 2014. The construction of two further EPRs at Taishan is expected to begin by 2015.

World Nuclear News 24th Oct 2011 more >>

Sweden

The nuclear reactor at Oskarshamn was closed down late on Saturday night after a fire broke out at the plant. Although the fire, which broke out in the turbine hall of Unit 2, was quickly put out by the plant’s own emergency services, the reactor and the turbine were closed down as a precautionary measure. It is still unclear when the reactor 2 can be restarted again, with investigations ongoing.

The Local 23rd Oct 2011 more >>

Shale Gas

Dominic Lawson: Last month, the exploration company Cuadrilla announced it had discovered a shale gas field potentially containing a scarcely comprehensible 200 trillion cubic feet of the stuff. Not only is this vastly bigger than any of our remaining North Sea reservoirs: it is not even in deep waters. Cuadrilla’s discovery lies beneath and around Blackpool, Lancashire, offering the prospect of cheap, secure energy to homes and businesses for decades to come – and perhaps centuries, since this geological formation is not peculiar to subterranean Blackpool but extends from just south of the Scottish border to Derbyshire, with another shale layer ranging from the East Midlands to the South Coast. It doesn’t take a degree in economics to realise that if the Government is genuinely concerned about rising energy prices and fuel poverty, it should immediately abandon the fatuous and massively subsidised wind-power experiment and instead dash for gas. I realise that some are genuinely concerned by the so-called “fracking” required to release shale gas, but the Environment Agency has reviewed Cuadrilla’s operations and said it does not consider that they are a risk to the environment – including water resources. The Government’s whole carbon-reduction plan based on hugely expensive “renewable” energy is on life-support and will soon have the plug pulled. Chancellor Osborne’s declaration at the Conservative Party Conference that “we will cut our emissions no faster than our fellow countries in Europe” sounded the death knell to the hubristic policy of being “a world leader in climate change”; and last week it emerged that the European Union is finally questioning its own policy of cutting emissions regardless of what the rest of the world does.

Independent 25th Oct 2011 more >>

Renewables

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond announced an £18m boost for marine renewables, the same day he it was announced he is to be the recipient of an international climate change award. The investment will be used to establish a wave and tidal commercialisation fund to help develop Scotland’s first commercial wave and tidal power arrays. It forms part of the £35m provided to enterprise agencies by the Scottish Government over the next three years to directly support the marine and tidal industry including planned projects in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters. Speaking yesterday, Mr Salmond said: “I am delighted to announce an £18m commercialisation fund which will help developers to unleash the power of Scotland’s seas, as part of our biggest financial commitment to date of £35m for this sector.

Edie 25th Oct 2011 more >>

Posted: 25 October 2011

24 October 2011

Radwaste

RESIDENTS angry at the decision to allow nuclear waste to be dumped near their village have raised £10,000 to help fund a legal battle. Campaigners organised quiz nights, safari suppers and yard and garage sales to raise the funds for the court case. They hope it will overturn the decision to allow the waste to be dumped at Augean’s East Northants Resource Management Facility, in Stamford Road, King’s Cliffe. They have also received personal donations towards a £30,000 target to meet the total costs of bringing the case. It is due to be heard at the High Court in London on Tuesday, November 2. Villager Louise Bowen-West is bringing the case on behalf of the community of King’s Cliffe.

Stamford Mercury 23rd Oct 2011 more >>

Opinion Polls

The nuclear lobby takes some comfort from opinion polls, some of which suggest that, although support in the UK had fallen after Fukushima, it still outweighed opposition. For example, according to an Ipsos-MORI Poll in August carried out for the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA), when asked ‘how favourable are you to the nuclear energy industry’, 28% said favourable, 24% unfavorable. When asked ‘do you support or oppose building new nuclear power stations to replace the existing fleet’, 36% supported, 28% opposed. However, the results are not consistent across all polls: a poll for the British Science Association found that opposition was still in the majority: it said 37% of the UK population support the use of nuclear power for producing energy in the UK, but opposition was at 47%. Moreover the responses depend a lot on the questions asked. An earlier Ipsos MORI poll, in May, part of a global survey, found that, in the UK, 74% disagreed with the idea of ‘modernization’ of electricity production via nuclear, while a massive 80% felt that ‘nuclear was not a viable long term option.’

Enviromental Research Web 22nd Oct 2011 more >>

Politics

Evidence that the government has abandoned its effort to be the greenest ever has mounted to the point that it cannot be ignored. George Osborne whose free market ideology means he cannot comprehend that green regulations create growth far more often than preventing it. This is why the government slashed between £400m and £1.3bn from the subsidies directed at creating a sustainable and clean energy supply for the UK and ultimately reducing energy bills.

Guardian 21st Oct 2011 more >>

Energy Prices

Huhne condemns us all to fuel poverty. As soaring energy bills – up by 18 per cent – help to push inflation to its highest level for 20 years, everything the Government has done to “fight climate change” has also been driving millions more people into “fuel poverty”. Last week, a new study suggested that this is already causing 2,700 deaths a year in England and Wales. So at least there are faint signs that a crunch is approaching, where it becomes obvious that our climate change make-believe can only lead to economic suicide. As yet, however, no vestige of reality seems to have entered the head of Mr Huhne. Last week he was again lamenting on the Today programme that we cannot afford to depend for our electricity on ever-rising imports of natural gas – without mentioning that our best hope of keeping Britain’s lights on is our vast potential reserve of shale gas. He hates this because it offers the prospect of electricity so much cheaper than that from his useless windmills.

Telegraph 22nd Oct 2011 more >>

Letter Louise Hutchins: Professor Dieter Helm argues that policymakers shouldn’t assume they know what the future will bring, but then says they should base policy on his assertion that cheaper gas prices will be available at least for the next couple of decades. In reality he is paddling against a tide of expert analysis warning of long-term gas price rises, particularly as demand from developing countries outstrips any new shale gas finds. The costs of nuclear power too have only increased since the Fukushima disaster. It may not fit with Dieter’s world view, but if we are to bring energy bills under control in the medium term, we need to stop importing ever more expensive gas and start building “fuel-free” renewable energy, where costs are already falling and Britain can gain from jobs and export industry growth.

Guardian 23rd Oct 2011 more >>

Japan

Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, plans to sell part of its stake in a wind power utility to raise funds for compensation payouts, a report said Sunday. The embattled company will sell a 20 percent interest in Eurus Energy Holdings to trading firm Toyota Tsusho for an estimated 20 billion yen ($262 million), the Nikkei business daily reported.

AFP 23rd Oct 2011 more >>

Korea

The US and North Korea are due to hold talks in Geneva, aimed at restarting stalled nuclear negotiations. Six-party discussions involving North and South Korea, China, Russia, Japan and the US broke down in April 2009 when North Korea walked out. One month later, North Korea tested its second nuclear weapon, which was followed by increased tension on the Korean peninsula.

BBC 23rd Oct 2011 more >>

Jordan

Jordan has warned Japan that if the Diet fails to ratify a bilateral civil nuclear cooperation accord by yearend, a Japan-France consortium will miss out on the chance to win a lucrative contract to build the country’s first nuclear power plant, diplomatic sources said Saturday.

Japan Times 23rd Oct 2011 more >>

Iran

The European Union warned Iran on Sunday that it risks new sanctions if it fails to return to international talks aimed at easing concerns about its disputed nuclear programme. In conclusions adopted at an EU summit, the council of 27 EU states “urges Iran to respect all obligations under international law.”

EU Business 23rd Oct 2011 more >>

Switzerland

The anti-immigrant Swiss People’s Party (SVP) lost ground in elections yesterday which resulted in a rise in support for Greens opposed to nuclear power. Early projections predicted that the SVP was heading for its worst result in 20 years, losing seven seats, due partly to competition from a conservative party formed by SVP renegades as well as from the Green Liberals which want an end to nuclear power.

Times 24th Oct 2011 more >>

Nuclear Weapons

This month’s NIS Update contains news about the forthcoming Ministry of Defence consultation on submarine dismantling, risks posed to the defence equipment programme by spending on the Trident replacement programme, and the new Nuclear Liabilities Management Strategy published by the Ministry of Defence. There’s also news from the Atomic Weapons Establishment about new planning applications which will shortly be submitted to West Berkshire Council, and safety vulnerabilities revealed following the Weightman Review of nuclear safety.

Nuclear Information Service 23rd Oct 2011 more >>

Renewables

A pioneering project to provide 22,000 tenants of social housing schemes with solar panels generating free electricity is in jeopardy. Fears the government will cut subsidies for solar installations have prompted backers to withdraw their support. The project had been planned by Empower Community, a social enterprise. Empower says families would have saved an average of 120 from their electricity bills by using free solar power during daylight hours. Empower’s project was supported by eight local authorities and housing associations, along with charities and a major pension fund. It was designed to take advantage of a subsidy arrangement, called a feed-in tariff, designed to encourage renewable energy generation.

BBC 23rd Oct 2011 more >>

The future of the booming solar industry is in doubt, as the cash strapped Coalition considers slashing the subsidy for feed-in tariffs (FITs), which pay homeowners for producing energy. The Department of Energy may cut up to 75 per cent in FITs, which insiders said would ‘kill the industry stone dead’. An announcement is expected by the end of the year. In the past 12 months the number of people working in the industry has jumped from 3,000 to 26,000 and installations have doubled since June to more than 85,000 in a scheme that started in April last year. As the cost of solar installation plunges – in the past 18 months prices of solar panels and installations have fallen more than 20 per cent – the Solar Energy Industries Association is expecting the subsidy to come down. But a 75 per cent cut is bigger than expected, raising fears that the Government will be forced to row back on its green credentials. These fears have been confirmed by cuts in subsidies to onshore wind turbines.

This is Money 23rd Oct 2011 more >>

Posted: 24 October 2011

23 October 2011

Energy Prices

The advice of Chris Huhne, the energy secretary, for families to shop around to save money on power bills has been undermined by research that found most households would save only £1 a week by changing supplier. Some may even end up paying more. The figure is only a quarter of the sum Huhne’s Department for Energy and Climate Change claimed last week could be saved after a “summit” between the secretary of state and the six biggest power providers. A household using less than 2,000 kilowatt hours of electricity or gas equivalent to less than 11,000kwh a year is charged an average of 15% more per unit than consumers who use twice that amount. In the case of Npower, the lowest energy users are paying as much as 23% more for a unit of electricity and 27% more for gas. Alan Whitehead, Labour MP for Southampton Test and a member of the energy and climate change select committee, said: “It’s perverse for the government to be telling people they have to save money and insulate their homes, when the energy companies will have free rein to penalise them for doing so.”

Sunday Times 23rd Oct 2011 more >>

Britain’s liberalised energy market still charges some of the lowest prices in Europe. Gas prices here are not actually that high — the oil price equivalent of $60 (£38) a barrel. On the Continent they are $80-$100. The price rose because of demand from Asia, which is continuing to grow just as Europe looks likely to fall back into recession. Britain now has the choice of falling further behind in competitiveness or persuading Europe to take a new direction based on the discovery of secure supplies of gas. For the truth is that the thing most likely to put up consumers’ bills over the next decade is Europe’s target of 20% of all energy consumption coming from renewables by 2020. This is calculated to add about 30% to customers’ bills. Once, it looked sensible to hedge our bets against ever-spiralling gas prices with clean coal, offshore wind and nuclear power at the equivalent of $130-$180 a barrel. That was before the shale gas revolution, which has cut gas prices in America to the equivalent of $22 a barrel. The discovery of shale gas in Britain and Poland — and new discoveries in the northern North Sea — means there could soon be a credible, alternative way of meeting Britain’s 2050 environmental targets at lower cost, by moving from coal to gas. Eventually, the shale gas revolution will hit China, displacing coal, which could be the single best thing for the planet.

Sunday Times 23rd Oct 2011 more >>

Shale Gas

In just 10yrs shale gas has transformed the market in the US – it is so abundant that prices have collapsed. And there are thought to be trillions of cubic metres of it in Britain, including 5.6 trillion cubic metres in the Blackpool area. The shale — fine-grained rock formed from compressed mud and other deposits, including dead creatures that collected on the seabed when Britain was covered by water 320m years ago — extends from near the Scottish border to Derbyshire, with a younger layer from the East Midlands all the way to the south coast. Until recently it was too expensive to tap. Then came a technological revolution that is now poised to be exploited in Britain. Could it be our own cheap energy of the future? In a traditional gas field the fuel is tapped by drilling in the right place, releasing the gas to flow to the surface under its own pressure. Shale gas, however, is stuck in more challenging rock and needs a more aggressive approach. A mixture of water, sand and chemicals is pumped down the bore at high pressure to create small fractures in the rock. When the pumping stops, the sand keeps the small fractures open and the gas starts to flow. The process is called hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”. The quantities are so large some experts believe it is time to rewrite the rule book on energy. According to the International Energy Agency, the world has enough “unconventional” gas to last for 250 years — and it is a cleaner fuel than coal, still a significant energy source in many countries. For Britain, the implications are profound. The arrival of commercial shale gas on world markets could make nuclear power and offshore wind look very expensive. Dieter Helm, professor of energy policy at Oxford University, believes a rapid switch to electricity generation by gas, which has about half the emissions of coal, could save the taxpayer billions, cut household bills and bring about faster falls in emissions. He said: “We’re going to spend £100 billion on offshore wind, and my guess is that it would cost £10 billion or less to achieve the same carbon dioxide emissions if you closed lots of coal and built gas instead.” The costs are high partly because of the big subsidies for renewable energy. He added: “If shale gas really delivers, there could be substantial falls in price.” Environmentalists, who like high energy prices because they make renewable energy seem less expensive and spur changes in behaviour, are horrified. They point out that in America lax regulation has led to problems. Some householders found they could set light to their water taps because methane got into the supply. There are worries about the contamination of ground water by chemicals. France, Switzerland and some US states have banned fracking.

Sunday Times 23rd Oct 2011 more >>

Radwaste

Letter Marianne BIRKBY, Radiation Free Lakeland: The plan to build new reactors at what is already the most dangerous nuclear site in Europe and to find a ‘solution’ to the waste problem has ratcheted up a gear following the findings of the Weightman report. For the plan for new build at Sellafield and other chosen sites to go ahead there needs to be seen to be a “solution” to the nuclear waste problem. The DECC “solution” is to dig a 1,000-metre hole to dump the high level wastes and spent fuel in Cumbria’s leaky geology. The resulting slag heap(s) ripped from Lakeland geology could be the equivalent of up to several Great Pyramids. Link to Prof David Smythe’s presentation on Rock Spoil (http://mariannewildart.files.wordpress. com/2011/10/rock-spoil-great-pyramids-in-cumbria-11oct11.pdf): “No possible underground repository site can be found within the area of Allerdale and Copeland district councils, that would be geologically safe. In addition to the insurmountable geological problems, the NDA (Nuclear Decommissioning Authority) is misleading the elected officials and the general public of West Cumbria as to the scale of environmental blight to be caused, were such a repository to be excavated. “The MRWS: (Managing Radioactive Waste Safely) partners need to ask some searching questions of the NDA; in particular, why the figures from the NDA’s own environmental assessment, used herein, have not been presented in a more honest and transparent way.”

Whitehaven News 20th Oct 2011 more >>

Oldbury

OLDBURY nuclear power station will finally close in February 2012 when the second of its two reactors is shut down for good. It will bring 44 years of generation at the plant near Thornbury to an end – three years more than initially anticipated. Industry regulators gave approval for continued operation during that extra time, despite objections from the anti-nuclear sector, and recently agreed that reactor one could keep running until the end of 2012 but no longer. Reactor two was closed a week after the announcement and its unused fuel – which is no longer made – was transferred to reactor one. Operators Magnox and site owners the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, in conjunction with the Office for Nuclear Regulation, said the decision to close reactor one was taken on economic grounds, with further operation of one of the world’s oldest nuclear reactors no longer viable.

Bristol Evening Post 22nd Oct 2011 more >>

Wylfa

DEVELOPERS have unveiled the details of a £120m holiday park on Anglesey – plus plans for more than 400 homes and housing for Wylfa B workers.

Daily Post 22nd Oct 2011 more >>

Hinkley

Mile after mile of giant pylons strung across some of Britain’s most picturesque countryside or high-voltage power lines buried in a trench at a cost of £1 billion? That is the choice facing the residents of Somerset and Britain’s taxpayers as the government pushes ahead with a controversial plan to build the UK’s first new nuclear power station in nearly two decades. The plan to construct a 37-mile link from the proposed plant at Hinkley Point C to Avonmouth drew more than 8,000 complaints. Liam Fox, the former defence secretary and the MP for North Somerset, wrote to Chris Huhne, the energy secretary, accusing him of “short-termism of the worst sort” for failing to support the trench option, which, he argued, could be cheaper in the long term.

Sunday Times 23rd Oct 2011 more >>

Japan

Since the beginning of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Greenpeace has been working on the ground in Fukushima prefecture, providing independent information on contamination levels. More recently, we’ve been testing fish and shellfish from five supermarket chains in seven Japanese cities, and what we found gives cause for concern. We found radioactive contamination in just over half the samples highlighting problems with the official government monitoring of Japan’s seafood, and again underscoring its inadequate efforts to protect the health and safety of its people. Up to 88 becquerel per kg of caesium was found in 34 of the 60 samples – that’s well below Japan’s official limits of 500 becquerel per kg, but not so far from the 150 becquerel limit set in Ukraine following Chernobyl.

Greenpeace International 21st Oct 2011 more >>

Syria

In the next few days, inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency are due to arrive in Damascus for the first time in more than three years to talk about the Dair Alzour site, bombed by Israel in 2007. In May, the IAEA declared that the site was ‘very likely’ a covert nuclear reactor under construction, and has referred the issue to the Security Council.

Guardian 23rd Oct 2011 more >>

Korea

Two days of U.S.-North Korea talks opening on Monday in Geneva are aimed more at managing tensions on the tense Korean peninsula than resuming regional talks on ending the North’s nuclear programs.

Reuters 23rd Oct 2011 more >>

Litvinenko

It’s almost five years since Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB officer living in Britain, was poisoned with radioactive polonium after drinking tea with Russian contacts at a London hotel. His widow, Marina, has been campaigning ever since for a further investigation into claims that he was killed at the behest of the Russian state – and 10 days ago was rewarded when the St Pancras coroner said he would reopen the case and commission a wide-ranging inquiry. She talked to Sally Williams about what this means for herself, her son, and her long search for the truth about her husband’s death.

Telegraph 23rd Oct 2011 more >>

Trident

PHILIP Hammond’s appointment as defence secretary has once again thrown open the debate over the future of Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent. Outwardly the argument is whether Mr Hammond, pushed by budgetary concerns and appeasing the Lib Dems, will reduce our submarine-based Trident system, or replace it with something different. The real question for those who appreciate that Britain can never be without a robust nuclear deterrent is much more delicate: will a US-centric Trident system be replaced by a joint Anglo-French policy to shore up European defence? Mr Hammond, successor to Dr Liam Fox, is viewed with ¬trepidation by senior military and defence experts, who rate him a “budget man”, not a “deep defence thinker”.

Sunday Express 23rd Oct 2011 more >>

Fuel Poverty

Two hundred people, most of them elderly, will die in Britain of cold-related diseases every day this winter, according to calculations by Britain’s leading advocacy group for old people, Age UK. “The fact that these ‘excess’ deaths occur in winter makes it clear that they are due directly to cold,” the organisation’s research manager, Philip Rossall, said. “And the fact that other, colder countries have lower excess winter deaths means that there is no reason that they are not preventable. The cost of heating an adequately sized house is estimated to be £1,300 a year, so if you are on pension credit of £7,000, you are very fuel-poor indeed. Why is this not a national scandal?

Observer 22nd Oct 2011 more >>

CCS

With thousands of jobs promised by the fledgling industry, First Minister Alex Salmond has vowed to fight on to ensure the “planet-saving technology” is developed in this country. But Wednesday’s shock revelation has left industry experts asking: what next for CCS in Scotland? Attention is now shifting to six smaller projects that the coalition government has put forward for a share of ¤4.5bn (£3.9bn) in European Investment Bank (EIB) funding. The UK schemes – including plans to retrofit Scottish & Southern Energy’s gas-fired power station in Peterhead for CCS – are up against six similar proposals from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Romania. Up to three British programmes could receive funding from the EIB, with the winners due to be announced next year. While four of the British projects are in north-east England, Scotland could have a second bite at the cherry in the form of John Whittaker’s plan to build a coal-fired power station at Hunterston, in Ayrshire, which is also on the shortlist.

Scotland on Sunday 23rd Oct 2011 more >>

Posted: 23 October 2011

22 October 2011

Nuclear Subsidy

This government has never had much of an energy policy, beyond flatulent assertions that it would “make renewables come of age”. It lavishes billions on subsidising turbines, and Mr Huhne embraces some of the most ambitious carbon emission targets in the world. The consequence is that energy costs continue to soar – consumer prices have almost doubled in five years – while progress is meagre towards averting a threatened British energy crunch a decade hence. Whatever the government does, electricity prices must rise in the years ahead, but extravagant green policies make matters worse. Between 2002 and 2010, subsidies to Britain’s wind manufacturers cost £200,000 a job, and in 2009-10 still amounted to £57,000. If the government maintains present levels of state aid, in the next decade renewables will receive £39bn from taxpayers to generate modest supplies of electricity. (Quoting Renewable Energy Foundation). Britain’s next nuclear generation is stalled, because the government insists that plants should be built without subsidy – this, when windmills rotate on sheaves of taxpayers’ cash. Almost every other nation subsidises nuclear construction. It is not surprising this is necessary, when each plant costs an estimated £5bn.

FT 21st Oct 2011 more >>

Oldbury

Europe’s oldest nuclear reactor at Britain’s Oldbury power station will close down 10 months earlier than expected in February next year after operator Magnox decided that running the 44-year-old reactor was no longer economically viable.

Reuters 21st Oct 2011 more >>

Reuters 21st Oct 2011 more >>

The oldest civilian nuclear reactor in the world will stop generating electricity next February after 44 years because it would not be economically viable to continue, it was announced yesterday.

Independent 22nd Oct 2011 more >>

Hinkley

Anti-nuclear protesters declared the mass blockade at Hinkley Point on 3rd October as a victory over EDF Energy. The nine-hour blockade in Somerset attracted supporters from all over the UK including Rising Tiders from London, Bristol & Plymouth. Several people came from as far afield as France, Ireland, Germany and Belgium as numbers topped 250.

Rising Tide 21st Oct 2011 more >>

Areva

Unions at nuclear reactor maker Areva fear up to 4,000 staff, or 10 percent, will lose their jobs in a strategic review to be presented by CEO Luc Oursel in mid-December, Le Figaro newspaper said/

Reuters 21st Oct 2011 more >>

Radwaste

European scientists studying the geological disposal of high level radioactive waste have concluded that the process is “an effective isolation barrier for tens of thousands to millions of years.” Writing for the June e-news bulletin of the European Nuclear Society, the conclusion comes from researchers at Laboratoire Subatech in France and SCK-CEN in Belgium and is based on the results of two EU-funded waste research projects they coordinated.

World Nuclear News 21st Oct 2011 more >>

Canada

When Japan’s Fukushima nuclear accident took place last March, public officials in Japan and Canada alike jumped straight into Chernobyl-style damage-control mode, dismissing any worries about impacts. Now evidence has emerged that the radiation in Canada was worse than Canadian officials ever let on. A Health Canada monitoring station in Calgary detected radioactive material in rainwater that exceeded Canadian guidelines during the month of March, according to Health Canada data obtained by the Georgia Straight.

Georgia Straight 20th Oct 2011 more >>

Korea

This year, summer floods, soaring global food prices and the continued reluctance of America and its allies to provide aid to a hostile and nuclear-armed dictatorship means millions of children and pregnant women are slowly starving. So this autumn harvest is being watched particularly closely, and already there are concerns that it won’t be enough to feed a nation that has struggled with food shortages for more than 15 years.

Scotsman 22nd Oct 2011 more >>

Japan

When the 13-meter (40-foot) tsunami that wrecked Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant hit Onagawa to the northeast, hundreds of residents found refuge at the local nuclear plant, rather than run the other way. Onagawa may now serve as a trump card for the nuclear lobby — an example that it is possible for nuclear facilities to withstand even the greatest shocks and to retain public trust.

Reuters 21st Oct 2011 more >>

Iran

Iran plans to soon start moving nuclear material to an underground site for the pursuit of sensitive atomic activities, diplomatic sources say, a move likely to add to Western fears about Tehran’s intentions. They said a first batch of uranium hexafluoride gas (UF6) — material which is fed into machines used to refine uranium — would be transferred to the Fordow site near the holy city of Qom in preparation for launching enrichment work there.

Reuters 21st Oct 2011 more >>

Trident

CONCERNS have been raised that the promotion of Phillip Hammond to the position of Defence Secretary could lead to a rethink on replacing Trident. The nuclear deterrent, currently based in the Faslane submarine base on the Clyde, supports an estimated 11,000 jobs in Scotland. There has been a debate within the coalition over whether it is too expensive to replace, with a lifetime cost of £100 billion. The Lib Dems have made it clear they oppose the replacement and have an opt-out in the coalition agreement to abstain on the issue. There have been concerns among right-wing Conservative back-benchers that the Treasury and Chancellor George Osborne might also be willing to sacrifice a submarine-based nuclear deterrent for something cheaper. But former defence secretary Liam Fox, who was forced to resign last week over questions about his relationship with a defence contractor, had let it be known he would resign as a point of principle if the Trident replacement was abandoned. But defence experts point out that Dr Fox’s replacement, Mr Hammond, the former transport secretary, has never voted in favour of replacing Trident and has abstained on all occasions. He also arrives with a reputation as a minister more interested in finding savings.

Scotsman 18th Oct 2011 more >>

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has deflected concerns that its new defence secretary may be less committed to renewal of the country’s nuclear deterrent than his predecessor. Philip Hammond, who succeeded Liam Fox on 14 October, was absent during three House of Commons votes held since 2007 on renewing the submarine-based Trident nuclear deterrent, sparking fears over his degree of support for the system following his appointment. However, an MoD source told Jane’s on 19 October that his absence – during two votes in March 2007 and one in June 2010 – resulted from scheduling commitments rather than ideological concerns.

Janes 21st Oct 2011 more >>

Guardian 21st Oct 2011 more >>

SCOTLAND’S nuclear base could lose all of its specialist police under budget cuts being considered by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The UK’s prime strategic nuclear deterrent – nuclear submarines armed with Trident missiles – is currently policed by some 1000 specially trained MoD Police. However, The Herald has learned that ministers are considering cutting the MoD Police – who are specialists in counter-terrorism – and replacing them with military personnel trained to be “armed security guards”.

Herald 21st Oct 2011 more >>

Alex Salmond contrasting “Devo Max” with independence: “Fiscal responsibility, financial freedom, real economic powers is a legitimate proposal,” he will tell the Inverness gathering. “It could allow control of our own resources, competitive business tax and fair personal taxation. All good, all necessary, but not good enough. Trident nuclear missiles would still be on the River Clyde, we could still be forced to spill blood in illegal wars such as Iraq, and we could still be excluded from the councils of Europe and the world. These things only independence can bring.”

FT 21st Oct 2011 more >>

Microgeneration

Joining the local energy revolution this week: Bournemouth – 500 council house; Hampshire – 60 council buildings; Omagh District Council hydro scheme; Selkirk community wind; Moto Service Station; more Ikea branches; M&S clothes retailer; Wales’ efficiency schemes last year outperformed those in the rest of Britain.

Microgen Scotland 21st Oct 2011 more >>

Renewables

The government is set to reduce funding for large scale renewable energy projects by up to £1.3bn by cutting support for the renewable obligation certificates (Rocs).

New Civil Engineer 20th Oct 2011 more >>

ENERGY companies have given warning that the Scottish Government could endanger the future of offshore wind projects by reducing subsidies. SNP energy minister Fergus Ewing unveiled the Scottish Government’s blueprint for future subsidies yesterday, which includes ending support for biomass plants, and increasing support for tidal renewables. Electricity suppliers have to provide an increasing share of power from renewable sources, and different numbers of Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) are awarded for different types of renewable energy generation. The proposals, which will go out to consultation, include plans to reduce wind subsidies, taking onshore support down from one ROC per megawatt hour to 0.9, and reducing offshore wind from two ROCs to 1.8 by 2017-18. This means energy companies would have to produce more energy from these sources to meet the obligations.

Scotsman 22nd Oct 2011 more >>

Posted: 22 October 2011