News May 2012

31 May 2012

Sellafield

The company in charge of running Britain’s nuclear reprocessing operation at Sellafield in Cumbria said today that it needs an extra £276 million of taxpayer’s money to complete the single biggest nuclear construction project in the UK. Sellafield Ltd said that the final costs of building the Evaporator D complex to handle Britain’s liquid nuclear waste will need to be increased from £397m to between £599m and £673m. This is more than six times the original estimate for the project. The extra costs of completing the project will wipe out the company’s efficiency savings of £182m and come on top of the £1.34 billion wasted on the Sellafield Mox Plant.

Independent 30th May 2012 more >>

Hinkley

Bidders for the massive Hinkley Point C civils job are bracing themselves for a series of savage costs cuts in the contract value. The two main bid teams led by Laing O’Rourke and Balfour Beatty met with energy giant EDF today for an update on the project. But contractors fear delays in the contract award will give EDF the chance to squeeze margins on the job. A winner for the £1.2bn civils package was due to be announced this month. But bidders are not expecting a decision now until late summer at the earliest as uncertainty over the project continues in the wake of the election of new French President Francois Hollande. A source close to the project told the Enquirer: “Everything is being delayed now and there seems to be little urgency about awarding the contract. “It’s such a massive job the client knows it can keep bidders hanging on. “I’m sure they will use this extra time to compare the two bids and incorporate the best, or cheapest solutions, in the final win. “The price is sure to get driven down while EDF demands the highest rates it can for energy produced by the plant.” A Kier Bam joint venture was awarded the £100m site preparation contract at Hinkley last year but main work has still not started.

Construction Enquirer 30th May 2012 more >>

Ministers are ‘on the cusp’ of signing a deal for Britain’s first new nuclear power station for almost 30 years, the Government said last night. Lord Marland, its energy spokesman in the Lords, said a final deal to build a new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point, in Somerset, would be sealed within months.

Daily Mail 30th May 2012 more >>

Dounreay

Land and Marine has resumed its search of the seabed near Dounreay for “significant” fragments of nuclear fuel. The company is working with specialist radiation sub-contractor Nuvia to recover the remains of historic discharges from the site. Its return to the seabed marks the third consecutive year of full-scale offshore clean-up and the fourth involving remotely-operated equipment on the seabed.

DSRL 29th May 2012 more >>

Energy Bill

The electricity markets reforms outlined in last week’s draft Energy Bill are untested and could increase costs for businesses, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said today. In a wide-ranging review of the UK’s energy policies, the Paris-based organisation warns an emissions performance standard for new power plants, the carbon floor price, and the so-called contracts for difference, which set future power prices, are “more than is strictly necessary”. While the report is generally positive about the UK’s policies, it warns low carbon generation may be pushed aside in favour of new gas plants and urged the government to encourage an “efficient mix of new, cleaner generation, more efficient use of existing infrastructure and more flexible demand.”

Business Green 30th May 2012 more >>

Government plans to reform the energy sector risk becoming “expensive and ineffective”, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned. In its review of UK energy policy, published on Wednesday, the IEA also warned that the Green Deal efficiency scheme could be hindered by mistrust of the Big Six suppliers. The UK’s Electricity Market Reform package – intended to encourage a new generation of nuclear and renewable power plants – was a “pioneering effort”, it said, but was also “untested”. They represent a “fundamental departure” from market-based principles and “will need to be carefully monitored and adjusted to ensure that they complement market-based incentives for timely, efficient and innovative private sector responses, and do not become an expensive and ineffective substitute for them,” the IEA said.

Telegraph 30th May 2012 more >>

Can you believe a single word they say? The government’s new Energy Bill published last week was proclaimed as enabling the UK to “move away from high carbon technologies” (i.e. coal, oil and gas). The Bill says that to meet the government’s statutory commitment to cut greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050, electricity plants must be largely decarbonised by the 2030s. That is impossible without the widespread deployment of CCS – capturing the carbon from power stations and storing it underground. Yet the government clearly doesn’t believe this is going to happen, not surprisingly since no prototype exists anywhere and its development is riddled with problems. What that means is that the government is talking green technology, but actually giving the nod and wink to all the dirtiest fuels – coal, oil and gas. Game, set and match to the fossil fuel lobbies, and contempt and shame to the Tory/LibDems who still talk green, but act dirty brown.

Michael Meacher 30th May 2012 more >>

EDF

Fitch Ratings has affirmed Electricite de France’s ‘A+’ rating for long-term issuer default and senior unsecured debt, with a stable outlook. The ratings agency said May 30 that EDF’s leading positions in Europe, particularly in France where it has a large, low-cost nuclear generation portfolio, regulated distribution and quasi-regulated supply businesses, contributes to its stable and predictable cash flow. However, Fitch said capital expenditures were expected to increase to meet requirements from the French nuclear safety regulator, post-Fukushima, and that this could put pressure on leverage ratios. Fitch said EDF would spend between €12 to €13 billion on capital expenditures in 2012-13, rising to as much as €13 to €15 billion in 2015-16. Fitch said that EDF has “no financial headroom at the current rating level and negative developments on energy policy, for example legislation on nuclear assets, or adverse regulatory changes in relation to tariff reform, would constrain the ratings.”

i-Nuclear 30th May 2012 more >>

The EDF Energy people at Barnwood are part of a team responsible for safely generating around a sixth of the UK’s electricity from our nuclear power stations. The electricity generated avoids almost 40 million tonnes of carbon each year – equivalent to about half the cars on the road in the UK. It’s been an important few weeks for our business. In April, we launched the country’s first 100% nuclear-backed tariff for residential customers called Blue+Price Promise. Only this week, the draft energy bill was published which will help to pave the way for low-carbon generation including new nuclear power stations.

Gloucester Citizen 31st May 2012 more >>

He is a star of French industry, running a state-owned energy giant with interests across the world, notably in Britain. But Henri Proglio, the chief executive of EDF, is facing the indignity of a 68 per cent pay cut after the French Government denounced his salary as indecently high.

Times 31st May 2012 more >>

Aldermaston

Nuclear Information Service has published the results of a major investigation into the effectiveness and openness of the Local Liaison Committee for the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE). We found that, although members of the Local Liaison Committee take their duties seriously and work hard, it is not reasonable to expect them to take on a mass communication role about issues at AWE sites. The committee was established on a relatively informal basis back in 1993 and has not significantly changed its approach since then. As a result it now falls well short of stakeholder engagement standards which are adopted as the norm elsewhere in the nuclear sector.

Nuclear Information Service 30th May 2012 more >>

Companies

Water and wastewater service provider Severn Trent Services (STS) has won a contract to supply a chlorine dioxide generator to a nuclear plant in China. STS, which operates in the UK and Ireland, US and Italy, will provide the Taishan nuclear plant in the Guangdong province of China with its Capital Controls chlorine dioxide generator.

Edie 30th May 2012 more >>

Radwaste

On high-level nuclear waste, the world’s governments are registering low levels of activity. The US pulled the plug on its planned Yucca mountain repository in Nevada last year. The UK has been inviting local communities to “volunteer” to host a storage facility since 2008. Meanwhile France and Germany shunt waste between each other, hoping something will turn up. That something may be “transmutation”. Using particle accelerators to convert waste into elements with shorter half-lives – perhaps coupled with thorium reactors to generate electricity – looks increasingly attractive.

New Scientist 30th May 2012 more >>

NEWLY elected SNP councillor Alex McLean has responded to criticism over an election row. Councillor McLean who decried an election claim by Labour councillor Alex Gallagher that the SNP were to deposit nuclear waste from around the country at Hunterston has reiterated his point that it was a Westminster issue. Following recent letters criticising him and SNP colleague Alan Hill Mr McLean stated this week: “I would point to the Scotland Act, Schedule 5 (Reserved Matters), which identifies the ‘Transport of radioactive material’ and ‘Regulation of the carriage of dangerous goods’ as reserved matters.

Largs and Millport Weekly News 30th May 2012 more >>

Nuclear Research

Nuclear energy will have to be used globally to meet the world’s growing energy needs and Britain must be part of that development. That was the message from the Duke of York, opening the new Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and paying his fifth visit to the neighbouring Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, on South Yorkshire’s Advanced Manufacturing Park. Prince Andrew told staff and guests: “It’s a great pleasure to be back here again and a real pleasure to open something that’s going to have serious and important consequences in the years to come.

Sheffield Star 30th May 2012 more >>

Emergency Planning

HOSPITAL workers from St Mary’s took part in a training exercise to make sure they are prepared for a chemical or nuclear incident during the Olympics.

Fulham Chronicle 30th May 2012 more >>

Iran

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday he did not expect talks next month with six world powers in Moscow on Iran’s nuclear programme to yield any major breakthroughs, but hoped to improve confidence between the two sides.

Reuters 30th May 2012 more >>

Germany

Germany expects renewables to contribute 35% electricity by 2020 – no matter what the cost. Polling shows German citizens are indeed seriously concerned, but rather than losing faith they are worried that the changes needed to accommodate large amounts of variable renewable energy on the grid, in particular thousands of kilometres of new power lines and the ramping up of energy storage, are not happening quickly enough. The contrast with the UK, where renewables contributed 9.5% of electricity in 2011, is stark. Rainer Hinrichs-Rahlwes, head of the German renewable energy federation, blames the absence of Fits for individuals and community groups until 2010, 20 years after Germany, and the earlier policy forcing major energy companies to ensure a chunk of their power generation was renewable, which he says meant small-scale renewable energy generators weren’t considered. In Germany 65% of renewables are owned by individuals or communities: in the UK the figure is less than 10%.

Guardian 30th May 2012 more >>

Germany’s power-transmission companies have tabled plans to build four electricity Autobahns to link wind turbines off the north coast with manufacturing centres in the south – a boost for Angela Merkel after criticism from industry that Berlin has done little since announcing an accelerated nuclear phase-out a year ago.

FT 31st May 2012 more >>

Renewables

Geothermal energy in the UK could generate as much electricity as nine nuclear power stations, according to a new report published today. The independent technical report confirms the UK has enough deep geothermal resource to match 20% of the UK’s electricity demand as well as enough heat for millions of homes. Engineering consultants Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM) have identified geothermal ‘hotspots’ in Cornwall, Weardale, Lake District, East Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Cheshire, Worcester, Dorset, Hampshire, Northern Ireland and Scotland. And the SKM report found geothermal resources could provide 9.5GW of baseload renewable electricity – equivalent to nearly nine nuclear power stations – which could generate 20% of the UK’s current annual electricity consumption. In addition, geothermal could provide over 100GW of heat, which could supply sufficient heat to meet the space heating demand in the UK.

Click Green 30th May 2012 more >>

Guardian 30th May 2012 more >>

Telegraph 31st May 2012 more >>

Herald 31st May 2012 more >>

THE chairman of ice cream and crisp manufacturers Mackies has warned MSPs that the “lights will go out” for Scotland’s electricity supply unless there’s a drive towards renewable energy. Maitland Mackie, speaking at the Scottish Parliament’s economy and energy committee today, said that energy bills will “undoubtedly” keep rising unless there’s an expansion of wind farms to create renewable energy. Mr Mackie went onto say that Scotland was running out of fossil fuels as he called on MSPs to focus on renewable energy rather than nuclear power.

Scotsman 31st May 2012 more >>

Energy from gas power stations has been rebranded as a green, low-carbon source of power by a €80bn European Union programme, in a triumph of the deep-pocketed fossil fuel industry lobby over renewable forms of power. In a secret document seen by the Guardian, a large slice of billions of euros of funds that are supposed to be devoted to research and development into renewables such as solar and wave power are likely to be diverted instead to subsidising the development of the well-established fossil fuel.

Guardian 29th May 2012 more >>

Green Deal

Public mistrust of the “big six” energy firms may undermine the UK government’s planned Green Deal, according to the International Energy Agency.

BBC 30th May 2012 more >>

Fuel Poverty

New research from uSwitch.com has shown that Britain could be less than three years away from an energy affordability crisis. Under current pricing trends, the average household energy bill will reach £1,500 by 2015. Importantly, the price comparison company estimates that an affordability tipping-point occurs when bills hit £1,500. At this point, nearly 60 percent of consumers indicated that bills would become unaffordable with almost six in ten households not receiving adequate heating as a result. The research also finds that at this point almost four in ten households will be forced to switch their heating off entirely, exasperating fuel poverty.

Solar Power Portal 30th May 2012 more >>

Posted: 31 May 2012

30 May 2012

Moorside

NuGeneration Ltd., with plans to build up to 3.6 GW of new nuclear plant in the UK, has hired US-based Jacobs Engineering to supply engineering services under a two-year framework contract, Jacobs said in a May 29 statement. The contract value was not disclosed. The contract will see Jacobs supplying environmental consultancy and engineering support to NuGen’s own engineering consortium. NuGen itself is a consortium of Iberdrola and GDF Suez.

i-Nuclear 29th May 2012 more >>

New Nukes

The future of nuclear power in the UK hangs in the balance after it emerged that crucial government funding deals could break EU law. Industry insiders stress that state subsidies, which guarantee financial returns for companies that invest in the technology, are essential to ensure new power stations are built – but energy firm Centrica has reportedly warned proposals to guarantee energy prices could be hampered by EU state aid regulations.

This is Money 29th May 2012 more >>

Three places: Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima. And three more: Banqiao, Machhu II, Hiakud. Most people react with horror to the first trio, while the second three locations usually draw a blank look. In fact, the latter were the sites of three major hydroelectric dam failures: in China and India in 1975, 1979 and 1980, which were directly responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands. In contrast, the death toll directly associated with radiation exposure from the three best-known civil nuclear accidents is estimated by the World Health Organisation to be conservatively about 50, all associated with Chernobyl. Our irrational fear of the atom stands in the way of the development of nuclear power and its potentially vital contribution to the long-term energy needs of an ever-increasing and energy-greedy world population.

Telegraph 30th May 2012 more >>

Hinkley

UK-based EDF Energy expects to make an announcement on the civil engineering contract for its proposed new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset “soon,” a spokesman told Platts late Monday. Responding to press reports that the GBP1.2 billion ($1.88 billion) contract had been put on hold until at least 2013, a spokesman said the company does not comment on active tenders, but “we can say that we expect to be able to make an announcement to take forward this particular contract soon.” “The procurement process is on track, and has always assumed that certain contracts would be signed once we make our final investment decision. This has not changed,” he said. To date, contracts worth a total in excess of GBP750 million have been let to over 370 companies, the spokesman added. EDF Energy has said it will make its final investment decision on the construction of the first of four planned 1,600 MW class EPR units at Hinkley Point and Sizewell this autumn. The decision hinges on the price at which contracts for difference are set. The contracts are a key part of the low-carbon support outlined in the UK government’s Electricity Market Reform, and effectively guarantee prices for each low-carbon technology. “Our final investment decision depends on having a profitable project which meets the financial targets,” EDF Energy said early May. “This in turn depends on agreeing, as soon as practicable, the contract for difference…It is important that we get the detail right on these arrangements ahead of our final investment decision.”

Platts 29th May 2012 more >>

Western Daily Press 30th May 2012 more >>

An announcement on who will build a new nuclear power station in Somerset has been delayed. EDF Energy was due to announce this week the winner of the main contract, worth more than £1bn, to build Hinkley Point C but that will now not happen. Anti-nuclear energy protesters have claimed it puts a question mark over the whole project. An EDF spokesman said the company was “on track to deliver what is needed for the UK”. Crispin Aubrey, from the Stop Hinkley group, said the delay could be for up to a year.

BBC 29th May 2012 more >>

Power Engineeering 29th May 2012 more >>

THE GOVERNMENT close to signing a deal for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, ministers said today. Lord Marland, the Government’s energy spokesman in the Lords, insisted the deal will be sealed by the end of the year, despite the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Scotsman 29th May 2012 more >>

PA 29th May 2012 more >>

ITV West 29th May 2012 more >>

Daly Mail 30th May 2012 more >>

Oldbury

GOVERNMENT reforms that could kick-start a new nuclear power station at Oldbury have been unveiled. Ministers aim to drive billions of pounds of investment into nuclear plants and renewable technology as they look to shift the emphasis away from gas power. And yesterday they published a draft Energy Bill, which includes measures to make building nuclear plants more viable.

Bristol Evening Post 30th May 2012 more >>

Cumbria

Colin Taylor, senior economics adviser at the Institute of Directors, said: “We hope contracts for different frameworks will succeed but it looks like an overly-complex way of delivering much-needed investment in Britain’s energy infrastructure.” There is no government subsidy for building Britain’s new power stations such as NuGen’s planned Moorside development at Sellafield but the consortium is fully committed to going ahead. It predicts a £9bn investment for West Cumbria. Copeland MP Jamie Reed said: “I hope this will now bring forward the necessary investments in nuclear from the market as I believe it will. “After working closely with potential nuclear investors for many years, they’ve always made it clear that they required this kind of operating framework. “We need nuclear generation not only in order to be able to meet our carbon emission targets but to better secure our national energy supplies as well. “Crucially, new nuclear investments will also help re-balance our economy nationally but more so locally. “These investments are absolutely key to West Cumbria’s future.

NW Evening Mail 29th May 2012 more >>

Nuclear Research

The Duke of York officially opened the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Rotherham on Monday. Work on the new 8,000 square metre research centre finished in 2011 but yesterday marked the formal opening of the centre for industry R&D.

The Manufacturer 29th May 2012 more >>

World Nuclear News 29th May 2012 more >>

Radwaste

A Tennessee company that decontaminates and recycles nuclear scrap metal has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, leaving more than 1 million pounds of radioactive waste in limbo.

Metal Bulletin 29th May 2012 more >>

Politics

Green Party nonsense pt2: nuclear power and the problem of the precautionary principle.

Telegraph 29th May 2012 more >>

Finland

Olkiluoto power plant, in the west of the country, is the site of the ‘EPR’, the first third-generation reactor and a test case for the industry Finland was the first western European nation to decide to build more nuclear energy plants after the Chernobyl accident in 1986, and it has been equally unfazed by the Fukushima disaster in Japan last year. While Germany responded by bringing forward the phase-out of nuclear power from 2034 to 2020, with Belgium and Switzerland quickly following suit, Finland is pressing ahead with its fifth nuclear reactor and has plans to build two more. This is partly, the government says, for environmental reasons. The Kyoto treaty discourages it from building fossil fuel plants and it cannot build many more hydro¬electric plants without destroying tracts of precious wilderness. Given the climate, solar power is hardly an option, whi le biomass is insufficient, so the country has settled on nuclear.

FT 30th May 2012 more >>

Iran

International nuclear talks with Iran have achieved nothing, a senior Israeli official said yesterday, suggesting that some western nations were happy to see the negotiations drag on. Israel, which has threatened to go to war to prevent its arch-foe going nuclear, has fretted on the sidelines as six world powers press for a curb on Iranian uranium enrichment. Breaking Israel’s official silence on the second round of talks, held in Baghdad last week, deputy prime minister Moshe Yaalon said it had produced only “more Iranian time-buying”.

Scotsman 30th May 2012 more >>

The reports which emerged hour by hour from the negotiating chamber in Baghdad last week spoke of proposals offered and spurned, then of counter-proposals and an improving ambience. In retrospect such reports more a reflection of the journalistic imperative to keep a conventional narrative going than actual developments inside the room.

Guardian 29th May 2012 more >>

Pakistan

Pakistan has launched a new, indigenously designed missile, capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. The Hatf IX multi-launch missile carrier has a maximum range of only 60km, meaning it can strike accurately at targets at extremely close range in nuclear terms.

ITN 29th May 2012 more >>

India

Neither the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan last year nor protests over safety at home have slowed India’s nuclear programme: all efforts are being made to meet the country’s goal of generating 63 gigawatts of nuclear power by 2032.

Nature 29th May 2012 more >>

Germany

Germany must invest tens of billions of euros in its power grid over the coming decade to avoid an electricity shortfall as it switches from nuclear to renewable energy, grid operators said on Tuesday. Germany’s government, the federal energy network regulator and grid firms unveiled joint plans to build thousands of kilometres of new electricity lines by 2022, to help distribute volatile renewable energy.

Reuters 29th May 2012 more >>

Green Deal

A new report backed by EDF Energy will today call on London’s 33 boroughs to consider becoming Green Deal providers that would help finance and install home insulation measures, in an effort to ensure the success of the government’s flagship energy efficiency loan scheme.

Business Green 29th May 2012 more >>

Posted: 30 May 2012

29 May 2012

Energy Bill

Fears the UK will use gas-fired power stations to deal with its looming energy crisis rather than turn to renewable sources have seen the country drop out of the top five most attractive countries for clean energy investment. The UK dropped to sixth out of 40 countries in Ernst & Young’s quarterly report, published today, falling back below Italy after a strong performance in offshore wind energy had raised its position earlier in the year.The new emissions performance standard for power plants unveiled in last week’s draft Energy Bill sparked fears of a new dash for gas if it is used as a bridge fuel while coal-fired stations are phased out.

Business Green 28th May 2012 more >>

If the renewables sector hoped that the Bill would offer up any clarity on the upcoming reforms, particularly the financial support mechanisms, they were to be disappointed. The draft Bill was light on detail, with no concrete information on plans for a capacity market or the levels of financial support the renewables sector can expect. The delay in real numbers and information will be frustrating for the renewables sector, which would be forgiven for seeing the Bill as, according to one commentator, “yet another promise that clarity and stability are just around the corner.” Jim Skea, of research body UKERC, said on Tuesday: “The draft Energy Bill brings more clarity about the framework for Electricity Market Reform, but precisely how nuclear, renewables and CCS will be encouraged is still not clear, and will only become clear when secondary legislation is published. The draft Bill doesn’t bring either the waiting or the debating to an end.” But perhaps most disconcerting is the government’s decision to omit a binding commitment to decarbonising the electricity supply by 2030, something which its own advisors claim is essential to ensure the UK meets its 2050 carbon targets. Instead, a statement from Ed Davey promised to decarbonise the UK’s electricity supply “in the 2030s”, essentially pushing it back by another decade and prompting fears that this is the start of an incremental slip in government commitment to carbon targets. “Two decades out and we are already seeing signs of slippage on the government’s carbon ambitions,” said Leo Hickman on the Guardian newspaper. “Is it any wonder that many people see such goals as hollow words spoken by politicians who live or die by short-term political cycles?”

Renewable Energy Focus 25th May 2012 more >>

The draft bill consists of 109 clauses, 44 of which are concerned with the establishment of the Office of the Nuclear Regulator. Seventeen deal with selling off the government strategic pipelines (?) and miscellaneous bits and pieces, and nine clauses set up a ‘strategy and policy’ statement to be set out each year, leaving just thirty nine clauses for everything discussed in the White Paper and all the EMR reform supposedly required. Not only that, but of the ten schedules set out in the draft bill, only three deal with anything other than the Office for Nuclear Regulation and associated odds and sods. And… it gets worse. Of the thirty nine clauses dealing with what one might call ‘actual EMR’ six go about setting up what are called ’Investment Instruments’ which are, not to put too fine a point on it notes of comfort for nuclear generators ahead of the actual date on which Contracts for Difference can actually start. They certainly won’t be notes of comfort for anyone else, because they will all be able to obtain Renewables Obligation Certificates until 2017: so a whole section devoted to shoring up EDF ahead of whatever else comes out of the Bill. This means, of course that most of the business of making EMR work will be the subject of secondary legislation, most of which still seems to be under intensive discussion.

Alan Whitehead MP 28th May 2012 more >>

Alan Whitehead MP says the Energy Bill is not very likely to succeed in its objectives; much of the content is to facilitate new nuclear;

Alan Whitehead MP 28th May 2012 more >>

Monbiot: Coal and gas emissions targets have been abandoned, by sleight of hand, to the inferno of the energy bill. Energy policy in the United Kingdom looks like a jam factory hit by a meteorite: a multicoloured pool of gloop studded with broken glass. Consider these two press releases, issued by the Department of Energy and Climate Change last week. Tuesday: the government’s new energy bill will help the UK to “move away from high carbon technologies”. Wednesday: applications for new oil and gas drilling in the North Sea have “broken all previous records”. This is “tremendous news for industry and for the UK economy”. The government knows that these positions are irreconcilable. at least the government’s emissions limit will prevent new coal plants being built without CCS. Won’t it? New plants produce about 800g/kWh, so they appear to be excluded by the 450g limit. This would be consistent with the promise in the coalition agreement: the rules “will prevent coal-fired power stations being built unless they are equipped with sufficient carbon capture and storage to meet the emissions performance standard”. The draft bill explains that any new coal plant that “forms part of” the capture and storage programme will be exempted from the emissions standard.

Guardian 28th May 2012 more >>

New Nukes

The government is pressing ahead, in the face of growing difficulties, with its effort to build new nuclear power stations in Britain. So far, it has failed to come clean about what this will actually cost British businesses and householders. Among the several ways in which it is attempting to subsidise new nuclear power stations is the contract for difference (CfD) mechanism proposed in the Energy Bill. Steve Thomas, an academic at Greenwich University, has come up with a handy little formula for calculating what it will cost just for this instrument to get EDF to invest in Hinkley and Sizewell. C (capacity in gigawatts) x 1000 (converts gigawatts to megawatts) x S (difference between wholesale price and strike price in CfD) x 8760 (hours in a year) x 0.8 (plant availability). For Hinkley and Sizewell, using the necessary strike price calculated by Peter Atherton of Citi (£166/MWh), compared to a current wholesale price of £51/MWh, and assuming the CfD is for 30 years and the plant runs for 80% of the time the formula then gives: 6.4*1000*30*115*8760*0.8 = £155 billion.

TomBurke 28th May 2012 more >>

Hinkley

EDF has reportedly put on hold a £1.2bn civil engineering contract for a new nuclear station at Hinkley Point in Somerset, heaping more problems on the government’s plans for a fleet of new reactors. Two building consortiums were expecting to hear the outcome last week, but now do not think the contract will be awarded until 2013, according to trade magazine Construction News. The move comes just weeks after major earthworks to prepare the ground for the new station were delayed and could mean the earliest the new plant will be built is 2021, about four years later than planned.

Business Green 28th May 2012 more >>

4 Traders 28th May 2012 more >>

Sizewell

An anti-nuclear energy group says it should have been invited to a conference about the proposed Sizewell C power station station in Suffolk. The Joint Local Authorities Group (JLAG) is bringing together local groups to look at community issues. The Campaign Against Nuclear Expansion (Cane) said it was a community group, but had been excluded. The JLAG said Monday’s meeting was about transport and training needs, not a debate about nuclear power.

BBC 28th May 2012 more >>

Horizon

COUNTY nuclear energy staff have met Energy Minister Charles Hendry, who gave them a positive message about the future of their jobs. Mr Hendry addressed 130 staff at Horizon Nuclear Power at Gloucester Business Park, which was set up to develop plans for new nuclear plants at Oldbury-on-Severn, South Gloucestershire, and Wylfa in North Wales.

Gloucestershire Citizen 29th May 2012 more >>

Nuclear Accidents

Catastrophic nuclear accidents such as the core meltdowns in Chernobyl and Fukushima are more likely to happen than previously assumed, according to new research. And the study warns that Western Europe has the worldwide highest risk of radioactive contamination caused by major reactor accidents. Based on the operating hours of all civil nuclear reactors and the number of nuclear meltdowns that have occurred, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz have calculated that such events may occur once every 10 to 20 years (based on the current number of reactors) — some 200 times more often than estimated in the past.

Click Green 22nd May 2012 more >>

Germany

There’s been plenty of debate and speculation recently on the carbon impact of Germany’s nuclear phase out. Last week my colleague Damian Carrington presented what looked like proof that the impact was negligible: German emissions fell in the period and anyhow Germany remained a net exporter of electricity. I agree with Carrington on most issues but in this case I don’t believe the argument stacks up. I want to explain why, not because I have a particularly strong view on nuclear power, but because it’s a good opportunity to make a broader point that I think is important and too often missed.

Guardian 28th May 2012 more >>

German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity – equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity – through the midday hours of Friday and Saturday, the head of a renewable energy think tank has said. Germany’s government decided to abandon nuclear power after the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year, closing eight plants immediately and shutting down the remaining nine by 2022. They will be replaced by renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and bio-mass.

Guardian 28th May 2012 more >>

Japan

Low levels of nuclear radiation from the tsunami-damaged Fukushima power plant have turned up in bluefin tuna off the California coast, suggesting that these fish carried radioactive compounds across the Pacific Ocean faster than wind or water can.

Independent 29th May 2012 more >>

Guardian 29th May 2012 more >>

BBC 29th May 2012 more >>

Naoto Kan, the former Prime Minister, has admitted that his office was “overwhelmed” during the Fukushima nuclear meltdown last year, and he recommended that Japan scrap all its reactors to avoid a repeat. He told a parliamentary committee yesterday that the bulk of the blame for the disaster lay with the nuclear lobby, which he said had acted like the nation’s out-of-control military during the Second World War, with “a grip on actual political power”.

Independent 29th May 2012 more >>

Scotsman 29th May 2012 more >>

Jordan

Dozens of Jordanian activists on Saturday demonstrated in protest of their country’s plan to build a nuclear reactor. At the sit-in in front of the prime ministry’s headquarters, the activists denounced the plan as detrimental to the environment, saying the project entails environmental and health risks.

East Day 27th May 2012 more >>

Turkey

Engineering surveys at the Akkuyu nuclear power plant site on Turkey’s southern Mediterranean coast are due to be completed in 2012, Russia’s Atomenergoproekt has announced. Four 1200 MWe VVER-1200s are planned for the Akkuyu site, under a 2010 agreement between the governments of Russia and Turkey.

Nuclear Engineering International 28th May 2012 more >>

US

The resignation last week of the chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is another demonstration of the bankrupt basis of the NRC. Gregory Jaczko repeatedly called for the NRC to apply “lessons learned” from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster in Japan. And, for that, the nuclear industry quite successfully went after him fiercely. The New York Times in an editorial over the weekend said that President Obama’s choice to replace Jaczko, Allison Macfarlane, “will need to be as independent and aggressive as Dr. Jaczko.”

Common Dreams 28th May 2012 more >>

Aldermaston

Nuclear Information Service May Update: Warhead convoy monitoring indicates that UK has commenced decommissioning warheads; Design contracts awarded for Trident replacement submarines; Stress tests highlight need for further protection against Fukushima-type events at defence nuclear sites; Smooth progress conceals underlying tensions at Non-Proliferation Treaty PrepCom meeting; UK-Norway Initiative reports on recent research findings; £1 billion for AWE under new pricing agreement; Periodic Review of Safety identifies site-wide safety shortfalls at AWE Aldermaston; Action plan exposes difficulties in response to 2010 fire at AWE.

Nuclear Information Service 28th May 2012 more >>

Trident

Letter Prof Norman Dombey: I agree with Sir Menzies Campbell that it is time to move on from outdated relics of the cold war such as the “Moscow criterion”. During the cold war there was good reason for the British government not to rely on the US to deter a nuclear strike by the Soviet Union against the UK: the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 had shown that the US could not be relied on to retaliate against the Soviet Union in the event, for example, of a Soviet strike on targets in western Europe. But the world has moved on these last 50 years. What is clear is that the present Trident D5 missile system, whereby each missile can accommodate 12 warheads and each Vanguard submarine can carry 16 missiles, is grotesquely large for any purpose other than to provide employment for submarine builders in Barrow-in-Furness and missile builders in Sunnyville, California.

FT 29th May 2012 more >>

Nuclear War

Department of Transport officials appointed hundreds of Mancunians to step in and run lorry deliveries, goods vehicles and bus services if the city was hit by a nuclear bomb.

Manchester Evening News 28th May 2012 more >>

Posted: 29 May 2012

28 May 2012

Energy Bill

Plans for a new generation of nuclear power stations have suffered a potential setback after Centrica claimed a proposed subsidy scheme could breach EU rules on state aid. It is warning it cannot make a final decision at the end of this year unless an appropriate subsidy mechanism is in place. Centrica is concerned that the temporary arrangements, involving the government issuing so-called letters of comfort to developers of low carbon energy projects, have undergone inadequate scrutiny and are not enshrined in legislation. Centrica privately warned the government in April it could pull out of its joint venture to build nuclear reactors in the UK if the strike prices under the contracts for difference were not high enough, and therefore provided inadequate returns.

FT 27th May 2012 more >>

Citi Comment on Draft Energy Bill.

Citi 23rd May 2012 more >>

Hinkley

The award of a £1.2bn civil engineering contract for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset has been put on ice by EDF Energy, triggering more uncertainty over the nuclear renaissance. Two consortiums led by Balfour Beatty and Laing O’Rourke were hoping to have heard about the huge deal in recent days but now expect no decision until 2013 at the earliest. The move is a blow to employment prospects in the area and comes weeks after £100m worth of site preparation was postponed. The soonest a new reactor will be built in Somerset could now be 2021, around four years later than originally hoped. EDF declined to comment on the latest setback, with a spokesman for the 83% state-owned French power company saying: “I am afraid it is not our practice to comment on open tenders.” The group insisted that its wider plans remained intact and it aimed to start work on the £100m contract, which was awarded last year to construction partner Kier Bam, “as soon as practicable, and all necessary steps are being taken to ensure that work can start in good time”. EDF says it still plans to go ahead with new reactors in Britain but industry experts say uncertainty over the government’s planned support mechanism through “contracts for difference” and the election of President François Hollande, who is sceptical about nuclear power, have encouraged EDF to slam on the brakes.

Guardian 27th May 2012 more >>

Horizon

China’s Guangdong Nuclear Power group and Toshiba, the Japanese industrial giant that owns reactor builder Westinghouse, are believed to be favourites to build nuclear plants in Britain. Final bids for Horizon, the joint venture set up by Germany’s Eon and RWE to co-ordinate the building of the £10 billion nuclear plants in Wylfa, Anglesey, and Oldbury, Gloucestershire, must be completed by June 15. A second nuclear consortium, headed by China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation with links to Westinghouse, is also working on a bid. Horizon, which is worth about £300 million, owns the land where the new plants will be built. It is expected that the project will be managed by Exelon, the US’s biggest nuclear operator, which has about 20 per cent of its home market and runs ten power plants.

This is Money 27th May 2012 more >>

Japan

Japan breathed a collective sigh of relief when the government declared that the worst of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster was over – the stricken plant having reached a more-or-less stable state known as “cold shutdown”. Six months on, fresh safety concerns, focused on what some experts say are vulnerabilities in a pool housing spent uranium fuel, has put the government and Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), the plant’s owner, on the defensive. It is also highlighting the daunting challenges that remain before the site, devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, can be fully secured.

FT 27th May 2012 more >>

Nearly three-quarters of Japanese companies support abandoning nuclear power after last year’s Fukushima disaster, although a majority set the condition that alternative energy resources must be secured, a Reuters poll showed on Friday.

Reuters 25th May 2012 more >>

Iran

Iran has said it will continue to stockpile highly enriched uranium and has ruled out the inspection of a suspect military site in a sign of Tehran’s frustration that concessions on its nuclear programme may not result in relief from international sanctions.

FT 27th May 2012 more >>

Iran will not compromise on the West’s demand to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent, said Fereydoon Abbasi Davani head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization.

IB Times 27th May 2012 more >>

Iran is to build a new nuclear power plant, alongside its sole existing one in the southern city of Bushehr, by early 2014, according to the head of the country’s Atomic Energy Organisation.

Telegraph 27th May 2012 more >>

Times 28th May 2012 more >>

Posted: 28 May 2012

27 May 2012

Energy Bill

BRITAIN’s plans for new nuclear power stations have suffered a blow with a warning from Centrica that a subsidy scheme is illegal. Centrica, the British partner in the consortium building the plants, has told ministers that proposed “letters of comfort” would break rules on state aid. The letters, in which the government will promise to pay a guaranteed price for power, were a key part of last week’s energy bill. Ministers hoped the pledges — meant to tide industry over until a full-blown subsidy regime starts in 2014 — would allow the EDF Energy/Centrica consortium to start work on time.

Sunday Times 27th May 2012 more >>

The government’s solution to all these problems is to replace a deregulated market with a command-and-control one. It has stated how much it expects each renewable technology to generate by 2020, as well as how many nuclear plants it wants, and where. It will create long-term contracts for supplying low-carbon energy, setting a minimum price for solar power, another for offshore wind and so on. The hope is that this will give energy firms the assurances needed to invest in new forms of generation. The certainty is that David Cameron’s Conservative-led coalition government is rowing hard against the free market. This is odd, and wrong. The energy business is changing fast. The price of solar power has fallen; the price of oil has soared. Shale gas is booming. Wave power, carbon-capture technologies and electricity storage could all prove revolutionary. All the more reason to let investors, not Mr Cameron, pick the winners.

Economist 26th May 2012 more >>

The prospect of a new nuclear age has moved closer with a boost to plans to build new power stations and deal with the waste from the old ones.

BBC 25th May 2012 more >>

THE British government’s energy reforms have prompted alarm that Scotland could lose control over the setting of subsidy levels for £46 billion of renewable projects. The draft Energy Bill, unveiled this week, aims to reduce carbon emissions and boost the supply of clean energy by driving billions of pounds of investment into new nuclear plants and renewables. There are warnings, however, that Westminster could wrest control of renewable incentives after 2017 when a lucrative subsidy regime – the Renewables Obligation – runs out. Energy observers and environmental campaigners fear uncertainty over future subsidy levels could jeopardise an estimated £46 billion worth of renewable electricity projects that are in the pipeline in Scotland. It could also undermine the SNP’s economic case for independence, which rests heavily on income from renewables.

Sunday Times (not online) 27th May 2012 more >>

Radwaste

Professor Stuart Haszeldine of Edinburgh University said West Cumbria was a poor choice for underground storage due to its porous slate rock. He told Channel 4 News: “There is water gushing through cracks in the roof of this cavern underground in West Cumbria. “That same sort of crack allows water to enter into the waste disposal site and that water gradually dissolves the waste and brings it up towards the surface.”

Channel 4 News 26th May 2012 more >>

Scotland

Letter: In Scotland, plans for the expansion of onshore wind will result in the continued industrialisation of large tracts of our natural environment. But the growth of onshore wind will barely compensate for the future closure of compact nuclear plants at Hunterston and Torness, which produce copious quantities of clean energy from small costal sites. Per unit of energy produced, diffuse and intermittent wind also requires vastly more steel and concrete than nuclear.In advocating a nuclear-free future, Polly Higgins is casually discarding the most land and resource-efficient means of displacing carbon from energy production. She may well find herself first in the dock at any future tribunal.

Scotland on Sunday 27th May 2012 more >>

Japan

What passes for normal at the Fukushima Daiichi plant today would have caused shudders among even the most sanguine of experts before an earthquake and tsunami set off the world’s second most serious nuclear crisis after Chernobyl. Fourteen months after the accident, a pool brimming with used fuel rods and filled with vast quantities of radioactive cesium still sits on the top floor of a heavily damaged reactor building, covered only with plastic. The public’s fears about the pool have grown in recent months as some scientists have warned that it has the most potential for setting off a new catastrophe, now that the three nuclear reactors that suffered meltdowns are in a more stable state, and as frequent quakes continue to rattle the region.

New York Times 26th May 2012 more >>

Japanese officials tour the stricken Fukushima-Daichii power plant, offering a glimpse inside one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters.

Reuters (Video) 26th May 2012 more >>

Japanese environment minister visits the spent fuel pools of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant’s Number four reactor, which activists say could cause a major nuclear disaster if they spill out in the event of another earthquake.

Telegraph 26th May 2012 more >>

For Japan’s anti-nuclear campaigners Fukushima came as a blessing in (heavy) disguise. In a different way, the same might also be said for Scotland. That was certainly the feeling at last week’s renewable-dominated All-Energy conference in Aberdeen, when a session on the Japanese opportunity was added to the programme. Scotland’s international profile in green technologies, assiduously promoted by the current Scottish Government, suggests new trading possibilities with our oldest friends in the Far East. In the aftermath of Fukushima, as Japan races to adopt renewable technologies, and reaches out to countries which have by choice, not necessity, prioritised green power. Scotland is at the leading edge.

Sunday Herald 27th May 2012 more >>

Iran

Iran has played down a United Nations report that said Iranian nuclear scientists had enriched uranium to a higher-than-expected level. On Friday, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported samples taken in February showed particles with enrichment levels of up to 27%, putting Iran closer to making potentially weapons-grade uranium. The IAEA said it was assessing Iran’s explanation that the traces of high-enriched uranium resulted from technical factors. The sample came from Iran’s Fordow facility, buried underground to shield it from air strikes.

Sunday Herald 27th May 2012 more >>

Iran has significantly increased its output of low-enriched uranium and if it was further refined could make at at least five nuclear weapons, according to a US thinktank. The Institute for Science and International Security, which tracks Iran’s nuclear programme, made the analysis on the basis of data in the latest quarterly report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Guardian 26th May 2012 more >>

Coal

A loophole in the UK Government’s new energy bill will allow the coal-fired power station proposed for Hunterston in North Ayrshire to belch out hundreds of millions of tonnes of climate pollution and wreck Scotland’s targets to cut emissions. The hitherto unnoticed get-out clause was slipped in by Westminster after lobbying behind the scenes by the coal industry, and contradicts promises made by Prime Minister David Cameron and the Liberal Democrats. It has been condemned as “utterly ridiculous” and “crazy” by leading environmental groups. Control over energy is not devolved to the Scottish Parliament or Government. The loophole exempts coal stations that adopt government-approved technologies to trap carbon emissions from tough new limits on pollution. But the technologies – known as carbon capture and storage (CCS) – may only cover a proportion of the pollution, and may not work.

Sunday Herald 27th May 2012 more >>

Independent 27th May 2012 more >>

Renewables

Massive reserves of geothermal energy have been found in rocks deep under Britain, with the north and the southwest potentially containing enough heat to generate power for millions of homes. Prince Charles has been among the first to exploit such sources, drilling boreholes to extract heat energy from the ground at his Highgrove estate in Gloucestershire and at the Castle of Mey, the late Queen Mother’s summer residence in northern Scotland. Such systems have always been seen as too expensive compared with other sources of renewable energy but now a geological study suggests Britain has enough accessible underground heat to generate up to 20% of its electricity and provide warmth for homes.

Sunday Times 27th May 2012 more >>

German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity per hour – equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity – through the midday hours on Friday and Saturday, the head of a renewable energy think tank said.

Reuters 26th May 2012 more >>

Posted: 27 May 2012

26 May 2012

GDA

The UK EPR is undergoing more design changes as part of the regulator’s generic design assessment (GDA) review, according to information from the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR). The original four-year GDA review of the Areva EPR led already to a number of design changes, most notably the requirement for a hard-wired backup for the digital control and instrumentation (C&I) system (see iNM, May, 12). Since last year, Areva and EDF have been working to close out the 31 “GDA Issues” attached to the interim design approval granted in December. That process is also leading to some design changes, according to ONR. “We have received a number of modification proposals to amend the EPR design to take account of the solutions proposed to some of the GDA Issues,” ONR said in its latest quarterly report, citing two examples. There are two related design changes to the main coolant loop pipework and both improve the quality of inspection achievable during construction and through life, an ONR spokeswoman told i-NUCLEAR May 25.

i-Nuclear 25th May 2012 more >>

The approval process for EDF’s planned Hinkley Point C nuclear reactors is three months behind schedule.

Building 25th May 2012 more >>

EDF

Electricite de France SA Chief Executive Officer Henri Proglio said spending in France will be a priority to maintain nuclear reactors and keep them safe. EDF’s role is one of “big public service,” Proglio told shareholders at an annual meeting in Paris. The utility will develop industry in France and hire and train young people, he said. EDF also needs to move more quickly into international markets by selling atomic reactors and renewable energy abroad to countries like China, Proglio said today. Development in Italy, Poland and the U.K. will also come, he said.

Bloomberg 24th May 2012 more >>

New Nukes

There were two big pieces of nuclear news coming out of the UK this week. First, the government published plans to reform the electricity market, promising to hand over billions in subsidies to the nuclear industry to encourage them to build new nuclear reactors. Secondly, the government is working with French-owned energy giant EDF to extend the life of ageing UK nuclear reactors. Taken together, it shows that the government is quite prepared to put the interests of the nuclear industry above the safety and wellbeing of the public. The government says it remains optimistic that a fleet of new nuclear reactors will be built in the UK by 2025 without subsidy. They’re the only ones who still pretend to believe this will happen. With one nuclear reactor costing a mind-blowing £7 billion, most energy companies and private investors want nothing to do with new nuclear.

Greenpeace 26th May 2012 more >>

Letter Dr Gerry Wolff: It is not true that “New nuclear facilities … are essential to meeting Britain’s future energy needs, because they provide carbon-free, always-on electricity generation to complement the natural intermittency of wind power” (leading article, 23 May). Nuclear power is certainly not “carbon-free”. Peer-reviewed research shows that the nuclear cycle emits between nine and 25 times as much CO2 as wind power. Most renewables provide a much more effective means of cutting emissions. And nuclear power is certainly not “always on”. Like all kinds of equipment, nuclear power plants can and do fail. And failure of a nuclear power station can be very disruptive on the grid because, normally, a largish chunk of power is lost without much warning. By contrast, the gradual and predictable variations in the output of renewables are much easier to manage. There is now a range of techniques which can ensure reliable, robust and responsive supplies of electricity from entirely renewable sources of power. If we are worried about this or that “energy gap”, we should certainly not try to fill it using nuclear power. In just one year (2010), Germany installed 8.8GW of photovoltaic solar panels, producing about the same amount of electricity each year as a 1GW nuclear power station but up to 8.8 times the peak output of a nuclear power station, because PV generates in daylight hours when demand is high.

Independent 26th May 2012 more >>

Letter Pete Roche: What makes you so sure the Government is right about electricity demand doubling because of switching to electric vehicles and heating? Germany, which is planning an entirely non-nuclear route, even with a similar 2050 objective of an 80 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases, expects electricity demand to be 25 per cent below present levels by implementing an energy-efficiency programme. Not only is energy demand reduction compelling from an economic point of view, because it is far cheaper than building new generating capacity, but it is also key to reducing CO2 emissions without driving thousands more householders into fuel poverty. In fact, the overall level of electricity demand may only have to increase moderately, given the potential for achieving significant energy demand efficiencies across all sectors of the economy, including those that are to be electrified.

Independent 26th May 2012 more >>

Letter: Whether we continue with nuclear power should be decided by an informed public. Nuclear power stations are subject to catastrophic failure; they are extremely expensive and likely to require subsidy; they produce dangerous waste with no agreed means of disposal and they have the same enrichment technology as for nuclear weapons manufacture. The power stations and temporary waste deposit storage are vulnerable to terrorist attack; they centralise “power” in the hands of elites; the fuel, uranium, will become increasingly scarce; they make poor countries dependent on rich ones and they draw funds from development of renewable energy. After the mega-disaster of Fukushima, we know that they can result in a virtually impenetrable state of denial.

Independent 26th May 2012 more >>

Energy Bill

The UK faces two big energy challenges. The first is to build the infrastructure needed to meet future demand for power and heat. The second is how to do so while hitting the targets the country has set itself for cutting carbon emissions. While the coalition’s energy bill, published this week, reconciles the two, it does so in ways that leave much to be desired. The model laid out in the bill jettisons too much of the liberalised market that has assured Britons low prices and secure supplies for 20 years. This is to be undermined by the government’s desire to mandate how much of the UK’s electricity should come from various sources by 2020. This involves setting minimum prices for power generated from different sources, such as nuclear, wind and solar. The precise level of these long-term contracts has yet to be set. Negotiating some of them might be fraught. In nuclear, there may be only one supplier – the French group, EDF.

FT 25th May 2012 more >>

The publication of a draft Energy Bill this week represents the start of the process of one of the most significant pieces of reform that the Coalition will undertake during its time in power. The complexity and lack of detail around some of the specifics elements of the Bill means that is too early to predict if it will achieve its desired outcomes. However, it would be wrong not to acknowledge that it represents another important and welcome step in the reform of the electricity market that is required to attract the necessary investment in low carbon forms of energy, especially new nuclear.

British Chamber of Commerce 25th May 2012 more >>

Liberal Democrat Davey is the greenest member of the Cabinet, if past history is anything to go by. Yet last week he laid a draft Bill before Parliament that would lavish vast sums on a nuclear industry that he, and his party, had long opposed and which the Coalition has consistently insisted it would never subsidise. The “electricity market reform” provisions of the draft Energy Bill are so complex that only a handful of people are said to fully understand them. But among those outside government that have studied them, there is a remarkable consensus that they tilt the playing field sharply in favour of the atom at the expense of generating electricity not just from fossil fuels such as gas, but from renewable sources like the sun and the wind – while failing to address the importance of reducing demand through energy efficiency. Which is the polar opposite of what you’d expect from one of the few top politicians to have entered public affairs through the green movement.

Telegraph 26th May 2012 more >>

Horizon

The Minister of State for Energy, Charles Hendry, has visited the Gloucester headquarters of Horizon Nuclear Power. His visit follows the withdrawal of parent companies RWE and E.ON from the project at the end of March. Speaking ahead of the visit Charles Hendry said: “Horizon Nuclear Power represents an extremely attractive investment opportunity. “Horizon’s team is a prized asset. A group of very talented and experienced staff who have worked extremely hard over the past three years to make Wylfa and Oldbury two of the most attractive sites in Europe to invest in new nuclear. “There has already been strong interest in Horizon and we are making the Government’s commitment to new nuclear clear to interested parties.

Bdaily 25th May 2012 more >>

Dungeness

THIS week we have had some good news for Dungeness and the future of nuclear power on Romney Marsh. EDF Energy, the company that owns and operates Dungeness B, has confirmed that it is in talks with National Grid and the Government about extending the life of the station. This means, from where we are now, that Dungeness will be producing electricity for Kent for at least another ten years. This is good news for everyone who works at and with the power station. The Government has also published this week a draft energy bill which paves the way for the future investment needed to build the next generation of nuclear power stations. These new sources of nuclear energy will provide a large amount of the low-carbon electricity that this country will need in the coming decades. This bill has been welcomed by the energy companies that will build the new fleet of stations, and I will be urging them to look seriously at Dungeness. The Government has made clear that the “door remains open” to building a new power station there, but that any company taking proposals forward would need to satisfy the planning inspector that they could minimise and compensate for any loss of the protected habitats at the site.

Folkestone Herald 25th May 2012 more >>

Springfields

The Springfields Fuels processing plant near Preston, Lancashire was the first in the world to make nuclear fuel for commercial power stations. The site has produced several million fuel elements and supplied products and services to over 140 reactors in 15 countries. A resurgence of demand for nuclear fuel has prompted Springfields to re-commission a previously moth-balled light water reactor (LWR) plant at the site, which is still the UK’s main nuclear fuel manufacturing operation.

Factory Equipment 25th May 2012 more >>

Planning

A summary of the regime for authorising major infrastructure projects introduced by the Planning Act 2008 and amended by the Localism Act 2011.

Bircham Dyson Bell 25th May 2012 more >>

Japan

Fukushima update 22nd to 24th May.

Greenpeace 25th May 2012 more >>

Japan is leaning toward a policy of halving nuclear power’s share of electricity supply from pre-Fukushima levels to about 15% by 2030, but will likely stop short of pledging the long-term exit strategy that many voters favor, experts said. That would be a victory of sorts for a nuclear industry that has been under fire since a huge earthquake and tsunami devasted the Fukushima atomic plant in March 2011, triggering meltdowns in the world’s worst radiation accident in a quarter century.

Japan Today 25th May 2012 more >>

Iran

The UN nuclear agency has found traces of uranium at Iran’s underground atomic site enriched to higher than previous levels and closer to what is needed for nuclear weapons, diplomats say. The finding by the International Atomic Energy Agency does not necessarily mean that Iran is secretly raising its enrichment threshold. The diplomats say the traces could be left during start-up of enriching centrifuges until the desired level is reached. That would be a technical glitch only.

Independent 25th May 2012 more >>

Iran has raised its potential capacity to make sensitive nuclear material by installing hundreds more uranium enrichment machines at an underground site, an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report has said. The watchdog also said that satellite images show “extensive activities” at the Parchin military complex, some 20 miles southeast of Tehran, which inspectors want to check over suspicions that nuclear weapons-relevant research was done there. The activities could hamper the IAEA’s inquiry, it said – an allusion to what western diplomats have said may be Iranian efforts to remove incriminating evidence. Iran has denied pursuing a clear weapons capability. The IAEA report yesterday said inspectors had found traces of uranium particles enriched to up to 27 per cent at Iran’s bunkered Fordow site, compared with the 20 per cent level Tehran has officially reported to the IAEA.

Scotsman 26th May 2012 more >>

China

China plans to spend $27 bn (£17bn) this year to promote energy conservation, emission reductions and renewable energy. The country’s finance ministry said it wants to promote energy-saving products, solar and wind power and accelerate the development of renewable energy and hybrid cars.

Guardian 25th May 2012 more >>

Fusion

A US company and an Iranian university have agreed to collaborate on nuclear fusion, the elusive technology that promises a limitless supply of clean energy. New Jersey-based Lawrenceville Plasma Physics Inc and Tehran’s Islamic Azad University will jointly design a fusion machine that “would be affordable to construct in industrializing nations”, according to a contract signed last weekend.

Guardian 25th May 2012 more >>

District Heating

CHP/DH is at long last being taken seriously in the UK, being mentioned as a key option in the new DECC Heat strategy and also in the new Bioenergy strategy. But we have a long way to go the catch up.

Environmental Research Web 25th May 2012 more >>

Renewables

A COLLEGE in Edinburgh is to install Scotland’s largest solar roof as part of its aim to boost its eco credentials and save hundreds of thousands of pounds. Some 650 solar panels will be fitted to the roof of Telford College’s main campus, in West Granton Road. The college says the solar roof will generate enough electricity to allow the campus to become self-sufficient in terms of power, and make extra money as the surplus is sold to the grid.

Scotsman 25th May 2012 more >>

Posted: 26 May 2012

25 May 2012

GDA

EDF and Areva have closed out only one of the 31 original “GDA Issues” lodged against the UK EPR design when the Office for Nuclear Regulation issued its interim design approval, or I-DAC, last December. According to the ONR’s latest Generic Design Assessment (GDA) quarterly report — issued May 24 for the period ending March 31 — EDF and Areva have fallen substantially behind in the number of responses to the GDA Issue resolution to date. ONR said the shortfalls in deliverables “are having an effect on our progress and on our ability to use the (outside) technical support contractors we had programmed to support our work, as their availability is not always guaranteed when the original assessment dates have been missed.”

i-Nuclear 24th May 2012 more >>

Evaluation of the Environment Agency’s consultation on the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) for new nuclear power stations. Commissioned by Environment Agency.

Shared Practice 24th May 2012 more >>

Energy Bill

THE government’s draft Energy Bill has sparked hopes of new private sector investment in nuclear new-build. Copeland MP Jamie Reed said yesterday: “I hope this will now bring forward the necessary investments in nuclear from the market as I believe it will. After working closely with potential nuclear investors for many years they’ve always made it clear that they required this kind of operating framework.”

Whitehaven News 24th May 2012 more >>

“There is absolutely no case for subsidising nuclear power” said Dr Gerry Wolff of the Energy Fair group, responding to the recently-published draft of the Energy Bill 2012. “The proposed ‘feed-in tariff with contracts for difference’ is a blank cheque to a nuclear industry that is already heavily subsidised. Nuclear white elephants will be paid for via surcharges to consumers’ bills, for perhaps as much as 35 years.” said Dr Wolff. “It will be mainly poorer people that will foot the bill because they will be least able to afford the up-front costs of generating their own power.

Energy Fair 22nd May 2012 more >>

Market Oracle 24th May 2012 more >>

Sellafield

More than 1,000 construction workers have walked off the Sellafield site today in protest at job loss selections. The 1,100 workers, members of the Unite and GMB unions, left the site at midday when tensions “erupted’’ after an announcement that Mitie is to make a shop steward and two health and safety stewards redundant. The Mitie Group recently won a £200 million facilities management contract on the nuclear site to provide cleaning, maintenance and security services.

Cumberland News 24th May 2012 more >>

Whitehaven News 24th May 2012 more >>

Horizon

Energy Minister Charles Hendry today reassured 130 Gloucester nuclear energy workers that their jobs were not under threat despite an upset in Government plans for a new generation of power stations. Mr Hendry spoke to staff at Horizon Nuclear Power in Gloucester which was set up to develop plans for new nuclear plants at Oldbury-on-Severn, South Gloucestershire and Wylfa in North Wales. This afternoon Mr Hendry said the Government was progressing with talks with potential new partners who would take over Horizon.

This is Gloucestershire 24th May 2012 more >>

Speaking ahead of the visit Charles Hendry said: “There has already been strong interest in Horizon and we are making the Government’s commitment to new nuclear clear to interested parties. The launch of the draft energy bill this week has shown investors that we are prepared to take tough decisions to ensure confidence in our long-term vision for the electricity market. While this is a commercial process, I am confident everyone involved is working to ensure a swift sale can be achieved, which will protect the jobs of those working here.”

Energy Live News 24th May 2012 more >>

DECC 24th May 2012 more >>

Radwaste

A crucial decision on whether or not to participate will not be taken until the autumn, but the results of a Mori telephone opinion poll has swung the balance in favour of scanning the area for a suitable site. Copeland and Allerdale borough councils, along with Cumbria County Council, will decide in October/November on the basis of a report by the West Cumbria Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership (MRWS). An important part of it will be the independent Mori survey results. Of 3,000 Cumbrian residents who took part, 68 per cent in Copeland and 51 per cent in Allerdale want a site search to be made in West Cumbria.

Whitehaven News 24th May 2012 more >>

Times and Star 24th May 2012 more >>

A SELLAFIELD workers’ lobby group has urged the government to build an underground nuclear dump in the county. An opinion poll, carried out on behalf of the West Cumbria Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership, showed that almost 70 per cent of Copeland residents and 51 per cent of Allerdale residents were in favour of the government selecting the area to host a £4bn nuclear waste repository.

NW Evening Mail 24th May 2012 more >>

Letter: All members of the Partnership should read again carefully the Government White Paper “Managing Radioactive Waste Safely” which laid out the procedure for GDF site selection. While this document has been the subject of repeated re-interpretation by the Government, the NDA and the partnership, at its core are two immutable features: The first is that a GDF cannot be imposed on a community which has not volunteered to host it. This has been upheld by the powers that be who argue that other parts of the country, acknowledged as geologically more suitable, cannot be investigated because they have not volunteered to be involved in the process. The second feature of the White Paper, which has been actively marginalised by the Partnership, is that a “host community” exists. This is not the community of West Cumbria or any other ad hoc grouping that suit the planners. It is carefully defined thus: “The community in which a facility will be built can be termed the ‘Host Community’. The host community will be a small, geographically defined area, and include the population of that area and the owners of the land. For example it could be a town or a village.”

Whitehaven News 24th May 2012 more >>

Letter Jean McSorley: A Freedom of Information request has revealed the budget ask for communications for the MRWS for 2011-12. The combined overall budget proposed was £291,860. The wages for communications people was proposed at £50-£65 per hour for less senior staff, rising to £98 per hour for the head of the company which runs the PR on the nuclear dump. I’ll leave people to ‘do the maths’ on what those figures work out at a daily, weekly or yearly rate. The budget document has comments which also reveal significant concerns over the amounts proposed for communication overall, in particular the increases proposed above spending in previous years. The information reveals just how important PR has become in the MRWS process. It would be in keeping with the MRWS’s approach of ‘openness and transparency’, if the relevant bodies published a precise breakdown on what was spent on ‘communications’ in 2011-2012 and also the monies proposed for the 2012-2013 budget?

Whitehaven News 24th May 2012 more >>

PLANS are being considered to create a nuclear waste dump under the fields around Rye. Shepway Council is examining the possibility of a nuclear disposal facility which would see nuclear waste, from all over the UK, being buried under Romney Marsh. They say the £12 billion facility could create jobs in the Rye area when the Dungeness A and B power stations are phased out. But opponents of the plan say it could have a disastrous impact on the environmental ecology.

Rye & Battle Observer 25th May 2012 more >>

Sizewell

ELECTRICITY giant EDF Energy could extend the life of Sizewell B nuclear power station by a further 20 years. The firm is currently working with the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) regarding the “extension of the operational lifetime” of its existing fleet of nuclear power reactors. It means that the Suffolk reactor could see its decomissioning date extended from 2035 to 2055. Last night a spokesman for EDF Energy said no decisions had yet been made and in Sizewell’s case it was unlikely that anything would be agreed until much nearer the 2035 deadline.

Coastal Scene 23rd May 2012 more >>

Hinkley

SERIES of meetings about the Hinkley C nuclear project have heard major concerns about traffic and a housing shortfall. Planning commissioners have been hearing public opinion on Hinkley C at eight open floor meetings this month – at Bridgwater College’s Cannington campus, Otterhampton village hall in Combwich, Bridgwater town hall and Stogursey Victory Hall. At the sparesely attended Bridgwater town hall meeting (see picture), Bridgwater town and district councillor David Baker said Hinkley C would cause road junctions in the town to be “overloaded” by extra HGV traffic, even after road improvements.

This is the West Country 24th May 2012 more >>

Works to prepare for Somerset’s newest nuclear power station is well under way, despite claims there are problems. Local authorities gave permission for the ground work for another power station at Hinkley Point, on the Somerset coastline, to begin last year – although permission for the actual plant itself is not expected to be made by the government until later this year. This week it was claimed that French energy giant EDF, who is behind the Hinkley plan, had been delayed in getting earthworks completed.

Wells Journal 24th May 2012 more >>

Bridgwater College has received £2 million from EDF Energy to help students and local people secure new skills, training and jobs for Hinkley Point C and to create a legacy of engineering excellence across the South West.

Western Daily Press 24th May 2012 more >>

Heysham

The Manchester office of DTZ, acting on behalf of joint LPA receivers, has sold 12.11 acres of land at Heysham in Lancashire. The former railway sidings off the A683 were purchased by National Grid Electricity Transmission.

Place North West 24th May 2012 more >>

Dounreay

Plans to move nuclear material from Scotland to England will not result in savings that could benefit communities, local authorities have been told. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) proposes moving fuel and other radioactive material from Dounreay to Sellafield for treatment. The proposal is deemed to be more cost effective than building new facilities at Dounreay in Caithness. Councils had hoped this might leave spare money to invest in projects. The NDA has two separate proposals to transport material from Dounreay to Sellafield, where there are existing facilities, or ones being built, to handle it. For the material to stay at Dounreay, storage sites would have to be upgraded or replaced within the next 15 years.The benefits are that a future demand on HM Treasury will be reduced” The NDA has said that it would take eight to 10 years to design and build the necessary facilities. In the case of material called breeder, the NDA has estimated that it would cost about £60m to transfer it to Sellafield, but £65m to deal with it at Dounreay.

BBC 25th May 2012 more >>

New Nukes

Various letters in response to Simon Jenkins: Simon Jenkins is looking for mathematical formulae that will help him understand the complexities of climate change, renewables and nuclear. Let me oblige with three suggestions from a recent conference on climate change organised by Help Rescue the Planet. First RC + MJ = GG where RC stands for Reduced Carbon, MJ for More Jobs and GG for Green Growth. Secondly, EC + R > NO where EC stands for Energy Conservation, R for Renewables and NO for Nuclear Option (In maths > indicates greater than). In other words if the government is planning to spend £100bn to meet our energy requirements, should it spend it on conservation and renewables or on getting Russia or China to build a new generation of nuclear reactors. In political as well as purely economic terms this is a “no brainer”. Why does nobody mention the building of the high-voltage, direct current European supergrid, which will allow import of electricity from the Sahara, hydro-power from Norway, and geothermal from Iceland at times when we cannot generate solar or wind power, and export electricity when we generate more than we need? Several undersea links are there: to France and Ireland. Last year a cable was laid to the Netherlands. The next link to Norway has already been planned. Why does the energy secretary not mention this project, which won’t expose us to the risk of a nuclear future?

Guardian 25th May 2012 more >>

Companies

A West Cumbrian firm is poised to help a massive Japanese nuclear power plant get back on its feet after it was hit by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Forth Engineering, which does work with the Sellafield nuclear site, is building a £3 million research and development facility which will create around 20 jobs. Mark Telford, managing director, said: “This interest means a great deal to the company, not just financially and to keep work flowing but to make the company feel proud of what it’s doing and make it all feel worthwhile. The new facility being built at Risehow will develop robotic technology to be used in nuclear decommissioning at Sellafield and work is nearing completion.

Times and Star 24th May 2012 more >>

France

Henri Proglio, chief executive of EDF, has warned France’s new president that he will need to discuss compensation with the nuclear power group if he presses on with plans to shut the country’s oldest atomic plant. The comments highlight the possible tensions ahead should François Hollande stick with his pre-election promise to cut France’s reliance on nuclear energy, the state-owned supplier of about three-quarters of the country’s electricity.

FT 24th May 2012 more >>

Japan

CNIC May/June Newsletter.

CNIC 24th May 2012 more >>

Radiation levels in most of Japan are below cancer-causing levels a year after the Fukushima plant accident, a World Health Organisation (WHO) report published on Wednesday says.

BBC 24th May 2012 more >>

Iran

International talks over Iran’s nuclear programme were salvaged from collapse in Baghdad with a last-ditch agreement to make another attempt at a compromise deal in Moscow next month.

Guardian 25th May 2012 more >>

World powers are hindering talks in Baghdad with Iran over its nuclear programme, creating a “difficult atmosphere”, according to an Iranian delegate.

Telegraph 24th May 2012 more >>

Letter: On Monday, the Government handed out £350m in contracts to upgrade Britain’s nuclear submarine fleet. The project will ensure, says Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, that the UK will have nuclear weapons of mass destruction “into the 2060s”. On Tuesday, Britain was one of the six states – five of which have nuclear weapons – in talks with Iran about its nuclear energy programme. Urged on by Israel, another nuclear state, they were trying to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. There’s nothing like having the moral high ground is there?

Independent 25th May 2012 more >>

IRAN accused world powers yesterday of creating “a difficult atmosphere” hindering talks on its atomic energy programme, signalling a snag in diplomacy to ease a stand-off over fears of a covert Iranian effort to develop nuclear bombs. The nub of the dispute was not immediately clear as the high-stakes negotiations in pursuit of a framework deal to stop a feared drift towards a new Middle East war went into a second day in the Iraqi capital Baghdad. But Iran had served notice that it wanted immediate relief from economic sanctions as part of any deal to stop higher-grade uranium enrichment, a pathway to nuclear arms, whereas Western powers insisted Tehran must first shut it down.

Herald 25th May 2012 more >>

Tough negotiations between Iran and world powers over Tehran’s nuclear programme ended last night with a plan to meet next month for another round of talks.

Scotsman 25th May 2012 more >>

Iran yesterday rejected internationally backed incentives for Tehran to curb its nuclear programme in a development which stopped well short of a breakdown but suggested that negotiations which lie ahead could be protracted and tortuous.

Independent 25th May 2012 more >>

Iran has to address concerns by the IAEA over the extent to which it conducted research on weaponisation. If progress is achieved, the conditions could be laid for a breakthrough in Moscow. But the US and the EU have also got to be mindful of Iranian psychology. The regime needs a deal they can present as a victory, not a national humiliation. If the ending of medium-enriched uranium is the goal, it is one worth spending time on. It will not be achieved by Iran looking down the barrel of a gun.

Guardian 25th May 2012 more >>

A rule of thumb suggests that when Israeli leaders talk of war, they are unlikely to give the order. But the opposite also holds true – silence can be ominous – and it will remain true despite the negotiations between Iran and the world’s six leading powers that took place in Baghdad yesterday.

Telegraph 24th May 2012 more >>

Telegraph 24th May 2012 more >>

US

President Barack Obama said on Thursday he will nominate Allison Macfarlane, an expert in nuclear waste, to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and plans to name her as the panel’s chairman once she is confirmed by the Senate. Macfarlane would replace Gregory Jaczko, who announced his resignation on Monday after a contentious term as the top nuclear safety official marked by accusations from his four fellow commissioners that his bad temper had created a hostile work environment.

Reuters 24th May 2012 more >>

i-Nuclear 24th May 2012 more >>

Fukushima has given U.S. nuclear regulators four important lessons given a tendency to downplay the far-reaching consequences of disasters and outdated ways of preparing for them. First, we know from multiple disasters that people who live far from predetermined evacuation zones will move themselves and their families to places where they feel safe. We saw this during the Three Mile Island scare when 200,000 people in Pennsylvania — far more than the 3,500 people advised to leave — departed en masse from the area. Fukushima has underscored the ways in which formal evacuation plans are “fantasy documents.”

CNN 25th May 2012 more >>

Trident

Sometimes, I feel like I’m taking crazy pills. I seem to be one of the only people who has noticed that amid the biggest financial crisis in a generation, parliament has just insouciantly waved through £350 million on some drawings of some new submarines. Maybe I’m being unfair – maybe there will also be scale models to sit on an admiral’s desk too, maybe even a Troy Tempest uniform for Nick Clegg to dress up in – but it still seems like a hell of a lot of money.

Huffington Post 24th May 2012 more >>

Renewables

On 24th May, DECC announced the conclusion of its consultation on Comprehensive Review Phase 2A: Solar PV Cost Control, which was published on 9th February 2012. The long awaited document sets out both FiT rates in the short-term (i.e. from 1st August) and the longer term management of the scheme. Greg Barker informed the House that Government had listened to the industry and believed that these changes would put the Feed-in Tariff scheme on “a predictable and sustainable long term footing”, promoting confidence amongst businesses and consumers.

Ecuity 24th May 2012 more >>

Business Green 24th May 2012 more >>

Business Green 24th May 2012 more >>

Guardian 24th May 2012 more >>

Posted: 25 May 2012

24 May 2012

Energy Bill

Peter Atherton, Citigroup’s head of European utility sector research, said he was “surprised” the Government had published Tuesday’s draft Bill when it still appeared to be very uncertain as to how key proposals would work. “After two years, the Government seems no closer to being able to square its desire to support new nuclear with its political imperative not to be seen to be subsidising nuclear build,” he wrote in a research note. “If the publication of this Bill was meant to demonstrate progress and reinvigorate investors’ appetite, we suspect it might have the opposite effect.” He said the Government did not seem to have “much confidence in its own proposals” for how “contr acts for difference” (CfD), intended to guarantee return on investments, would work. He doubted that generators would regard the proposed “synthetic counterparty arrangement” for CfD as equivalent to “a government-backed counterparty that was originally promised”. But Mr Atherton told The Daily Telegraph he had spoken to dozens of institutional investors “who are expected to fund the £110bn” and as yet “not a single fund manager” believed the draft Bill would make them more likely to do so. “In fact, many of them have suggested it makes them less likely,” he said. Capital markets had already been “dubious” about energy policy, he said, and he believed the draft energy Bill had “possibly undermined [the Government’s] credibility further,” he said.

Telegraph 23rd May 2012 more >>

Two large overseas investors in the UK energy market have joined the chorus of criticism of the government’s new energy bill. The German-based E.ON, one of the big six electricity providers in Britain, said national subsidy schemes for renewables such as Britain’s contracts for difference had helped “bust” key European carbon reduction initiatives.And Norway’s Statkraft, said on Wednesday it would not be able to press the button on a giant £30bn offshore wind farm on the Dogger Bank until ongoing “uncertainty” was lifted. Speaking at a climate change symposium in Svalbard, Norway, E.ON’s chief executive, Johannes Teyssen, said: “We started the ETS [emissions trading system] with a lot of noise but we never took care of it. National policies took over and the ETS is bust.” He pointed to Britain’s “contracts for difference” scheme introduced by the energy bill as an example of how national governments were going their own way. Teyssen said renewable energy regimes throughout the EU should be made “coherent and consistent” with ETS so that the cap and trade scheme can be revitalised. There was no investor anywhere who would put money into wind or solar schemes on the basis of the ETS, he said, adding that the collapse in the price of carbon in that scheme had left power companies burning coal as much as possible.

Guardian 23rd May 2012 more >>

Journalists’ gnawing desire to put a number – any number – on the cost to households of the UK’s new draft energy bill has led to some peculiar results. Today, in two pieces of reporting based on the same set of figures, the Times and the Telegraph come to wildly different conclusions on the matter, with the Telegraph deciding domestic electricity bills will go up by £100 a year, while the Times goes all out for a doubling of household electricity bills to £1000.

Carbon Brief 23rd May 2012 more >>

SDLP MP for South Down, Margaret Ritchie, has called on the Conservative-led government to rethink its Draft Energy Bill. Speaking as the government unveiled their Draft Bill at Westminster Margaret Ritchie, criticised the ongoing commitment to fossil fuels and the nuclear industry: “It could not be clearer with current record oil and petrol prices that the reliance on imported fossil fuels is not serving consumers, businesses or the wider economy in Northern Ireland. While I commend the stated aim of decarbonising the electricity sector, the path set out in this draft legislation in no way provides the guarantees needed to encourage green energy investment and will continue to leave people vulnerable to high prices.”In the North of Ireland more people every year are falling into fuel poverty and this draft bill was an opportunity to make the bold changes necessary to reform the energy market with a view to the long term needs of the economy. Consumers and businesses are suffering and need a coherent strategy that delivers clean, green jobs and sustainable fuel prices. “Instead the government seem to have delivered more of the same, especially with the continued obsession with the expensive and ultimately unsafe energy source that is nuclear power.

4NI.co.uk 23rd May 2012 more >>

Electricity bills could rise by up to £200 a year for each home under plans to guarantee high prices for firms building nuclear power stations and wind farms. Details emerged yesterday as the Government unveiled a revolution in the way the nation produces its electricity. Consumers will have to pay more to ensure companies make a profit on their multi-billion-pound investment.

This is Money 23rd May 2012 more >>

Nuclear Costs

Some people worry about nuclear power because they fear the risks to human health from radioactivity. Others are concerned about the morality of leaving a legacy of radioactive wastes that will be dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years. Others again are concerned about the risks of proliferating nuclear weapons since no-one has yet found a way to make atoms work for peace without also making them available for war. These are all legitimate concerns but what has begun to trouble me more recently is the impact of nuclear power on the ability of some people to reason. Nuclear power seems to have acquired the power to destroy logic. In its presence otherwise intelligent, highly educated, well informed people in responsible positions seem to lose all power to reason logically. The ability of nuclear power to destroy logic was also displayed yesterday by the Energy Secretary himself. Throughout the day he repeatedly asserted that nuclear power was the cheapest way to decarbonise the British economy. It has long been acknowledged that off-shore wind is expensive. Its electricity currently costs about £135/MWh. Many commentators have argued that this is much too expensive and should be abandoned. As a report from Citi last week showed, assuming nuclear power stations are built on time and to budget, something that has not so far been possible for the type of reactor EDF want to build in Britain, their electricity would cost £166/MWh. I find it difficult to follow the logic that allows someone to argue that something that is £31/MWh more expensive is really cheaper. Maybe Ed Davey should change his name to Alice.

Tom Burke 23rd May 2012 more >>

New Nukes

Letters: 1. Providing for our energy needs will never be a free lunch but going down the nuclear road will be a hugely expensive mistake. 2. A Corruption of Governance report is worth reading for the detailed and authoritative way in which it appears to destroy the UK Government’s case for nuclear power. As the title suggests, it “shows that the evidence given to Ministers and Parliament, on which they based [their decision to support new nuclear power stations] was a false summary of the analysis carried out within Government”.

Herald 24th May 2012 more >>

Hinkley

One of the four major contractors lining up for the £1.2 billion main civils package at Hinkley Point C has revealed it is not expecting a decision to be made on a preferred bidder until 2013. Vinci chief executive and chairman John Stanion told Construction News he does not expect EDF Energy to make a final decision until finalised details on proposed “contracts for difference” are published. The contracts are part of plans to reform the energy sector set out in a draft government bill this week. If construction is delayed until 2014, with a seven-year construction timetable this would mean the nuclear plant would not be operational until around three years later than had first been expected.

Construction News 23rd May 2012 more >>

An anti-nuclear protester is under investigation for using House of Commons writing paper to write to her MP. Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, says Katy Attwater has committed a crime and her behaviour is “disgraceful”.

Western Daily Press 23rd May 2012 more >>

Sizewell

SIZEWELL C will be built and thousands of jobs created thanks to the Government’s pro-nuclear Energy Bill, ministers and EDF bosses claimed last night. The draft bill crucially includes a mechanism whereby the taxpayer acts like a guarantor for any potential losses for companies willing to invest in nuclear power if energy prices fluctuate. This means EDF can be sure of a minimum return on their initial investment in building the new reactor. The bill apparently leaves only one serious hurdle for the project in the shape of new French President Francois Hollande who remains opposed to the country’s reliance to nuclear power and wants the state-owned firm to concentrate its investment at home rather than abroad. Energy Minister Charles Hendry told the East Anglian Daily Times the Government had done everything possible to ensure Sizewell C goes ahead. “We have worked closely with EDF and we are confident the outcome bill will be positive.”

East Anglian Daily Times 23rd May 2012 more >>

The Government’s draft energy Bill is likely to be viewed with great interest in the Anglia region particularly in Suffolk where Sizewell nuclear power station is situated and there are plans for one of the largest wind farms in the world, the East Anglia Array, 14km off the coast.

ITV Anglia 23rd May 2012 more >>

Bradwell

Bradwell Power Station has reached another significant milestone in its decomissioning journey. The cooling ponds at the nuclear power station, which was in operation between 1962 until 2002, and still employs 700 people, have now been drained and decontaminated, edging it closer to the care and maintenance stage that is scheduled to begin in 2015.

Chelmsford Weekly News 22nd May 2012 more >>

Wylfa

GUARANTEED long-term prices for electricity will boost the chances of new investors taking over the Wylfa B project, ministers say. They hope radical reforms to the electricity market will attract the £110bn needed to keep the lights on over the next two decades. The cash should also help seal other types of projects such as renewables to underline Anglesey’s Energy Island plan. But families will end up paying for the changes, outlined in the draft Energy Bill.

Daily Post 23rd May 2012 more >>

Oldbury

GOVERNMENT reforms to the British electricity market could pour massive investment into new nuclear plants and renewable energy helping to safeguard the creation of thousands of new jobs in the county.

Gloucestershire Citizen 23rd May 2012 more >>

The Government will raise electricity bills in an attempt to attract investors to build another nuclear power station in the West Country. Ministers want to artificially hike up bills to make it more attractive for companies to invest in building a new power station in Oldbury, in South Gloucestershire.

Western Daily Press 23rd May 2012 more >>

Dungeness

A group of Kent MPs are meeting the Prime Minister today to discuss the possibility of a third nuclear power station at Dungeness. At the moment the reactors at Dungeness will close by 2023 but a new Government bill favouring nuclear power has been announced. Folkestone and Hythe MP Damian Collins is among those meeting David Cameron at No 10.

ITV Meridian 24th May 2012 more >>

Radwaste

Save Our Lake District – Don’t Dump Cumbria! today denounced the IPSOS MORI opinion poll that supports the go-ahead for the next stage in the so-called ‘search’ for a nuclear dump in West Cumbria. Ruth Balogh for SOLD DDC! said: ‘The respondents to this poll were largely ignorant of this process. 19% of those asked had never heard of it; and 61% had either just ‘heard of it’ or knew ‘just a little’. Only 4% said they knew ‘a lot’ about it and 16% knew a ‘fair amount’. ‘Given this level of ignorance, should the Partnership take these results seriously? ‘And more important, what has Osprey Communications been doing with the six figure sums they been awarded to raise the matter among local people? Their efforts have been a woeful failure’. If the results of the written submissions to the consultation are anything to go by, the more people know in depth about his very complex issue the less they support going ahead. For every one of the 7 questions, about 60% favoured withdrawing now, and 40% favoured going ahead.

Save Our Lake District 23rd May 2012 more >>

Rock Solid? Power Point Presentation – Dr Helen Wallace.

Radiation Free Lakeland 23rd May 2012 more >>

Local campaign group CORE (Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment) has today warned that the Partnership cannot take yesterday’s Poll results as a clear mandate for inflicting an underground nuclear waste dump on West Cumbrian communities. In presenting the results of its telephone opinion poll to the Partnership, Ipsos-MORI revealed that just under half of those polled knew little or nothing about the MRWS process. The presentation showed that of the 4262 people canvassed on the lead question ‘how much do you feel you know about the search in West Cumbria for a potential site for a deep underground facility for higher activity radioactive waste’, the responses were as follows: 4% Know a lot about it; 16% Know a fair amount about it; 36% Know just a little about it 25% Have heard of this but know almost nothing about it; 19% Have never heard about it CORE’s spokesman Martin Forwood said today “The poll shows that 44% (25% + 19%) – or 1875 out of the 4262 people contacted – had little or no idea about what was going on with the nuclear dump process. On that basis, Ipsos-MORI’s overall conclusion that ‘at least half support taking part in the search for a possible site’ is based on grounds as shaky and unsafe as the West Cumbrian geology”.

CORE 23rd May 2012 more >>

THE majority of Copeland residents would support a search for a suitable nuclear repository site under West Cumbria. A packed meeting of the West Cumbria Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership heard yesterday that 68 per cent of Copeland residents supported the search. The survey, carried out on behalf of West Cumbria MRWS Partnership, also showed less than a quarter of Copeland residents were opposed to the search, while five per cent said they were neutral and 10 per cent said they did not know.

NW Evening Mail 23rd May 2012 more >>

Communities across west Cumbria have given clear support to the idea of hosting a repository for highly radioactive waste in the area, it was claimed today. Copeland MP Jamie Reed has said having the disposal facility would be “entirely” in the area’s interests. Meanwhile, the Sellafield Workers Campaign Secretary Craig Dobson said that recent public consultation on the issue had clarified that there is widespread support.

Carlisle News & Star 23rd May 2012 more >>

IF MARSH people do not want to host a £12 billion national nuclear waste disposal centre then the idea will die, the council has insisted – so the Herald has launched its own poll to help residents get what they want. More than 650 people have already taken part in our online poll and opinion is split, with 57 per cent against the plans for a facility to bury radioactive waste up to 3,300ft under the Marsh, and 43 per cent supporting the proposal.

Romney Marsh Herald 24th May 2012 more >>

PLEX

ELECTRICITY giant EDF is in talks with the UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) about extending the life of nuclear power stations in Scotland. Both Torness power station in East Lothian and Hunterston in Ayrshire are due to come to the end of their lives in 2023 and 2016 respectively. French-owned EDF and the ONR yesterday confirmed that the two organisations were discussing the prospect of the two sites remaining open, along with six other plants in the UK.

Scotsman 23rd May 2012 more >>

Companies

Amec, a UK consultancy, engineering, and project management services company, is in talks with the Serco Group to buy Serco’s nuclear Technical Consulting Services (TCS) business, both companies said in separate statements May 23. Amec, with 2011 revenue of £3.2 billion, is a member of Nuclear Management Partners, the consortium with Areva and URS that is running the Sellafield nuclear and chemical waste complex on behalf of the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. Serco, a UK based international services firm with £4.6 billion in revenue in 2011, is in joint ventures with Jacobs Engineering and Lockheed Martin to run the UK’s Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston and in another JV with Battelle and the University of Manchester to run the National Nuclear Laboratory. Serco’s TCS division provides consulting and project solutions primarily to the UK civil and defence nuclear markets and has annual revenues of approximately £70 million, the companies said.

i-Nuclear 23rd May 2012 more >>

Independent 24th May 2012 more >>

Construction News 23rd May 2012 more >>

Nuclear Engineering International 23rd May 2012 more >>

Sellafield

When staff at Sellafield, UK, slammed the door shut on cooling ponds back in the 1960s, little thought went into how the waste would be dealt for future generations. Now decommissioning operators are trying to work out how best to handle bundles that are too dangerous to touch. It is a risky and intricate task. A new suite of tools could help take waste management a step further forward – semi-robotic and remotely operated vehicles, as Sellafied managers reported in May 2012 after they completed a delicate operation to move contaminated objects in the first generation Magnox storage pond (FGMSP).

Nuclear Insider 23rd May 2012 more >>

RadHealth

Preliminary dose estimation from the nuclear accident after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

WHO May 2012 more >>

Submarines

Four people have been injured after a fire broke out on a nuclear-powered submarine at a US Navy shipyard. Emergency services were called to the blaze on board the USS Miami which is docked in Maine on the east coast of the US. Authorities have not said how the fire started but the submarine’s nuclear reactor was not operating at the time and is reportedly not affected.

Sky News 24th May 2012 more >>

Germany

With the UK taking another step towards supporting new nuclear power on Tuesday – at either no extra cost to the consumer if you believe ministers, or substantial cost if you believe most others – it’s worth taking a look at what actually happens when you phase out nuclear power in a large, industrial nation. That is what Germany chose to do after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, closing eight plants immediately – 7GW – and another nine by 2022. The shrillest critics predicted blackouts, which was always daft and did not happen. But more serious critics worried that the three things at the heart of the energy and climate change debate – carbon, cost and security of supply – would all head in the wrong direction. Here in Berlin, I have found they were wrong on every count.

Guardian 23rd May 2012 more >>

Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed with Germany’s state premiers on Wednesday to step up efforts to expand the power grid and resolve a dispute over solar incentives as she tries to rescue plans for a switch away from nuclear to renewable energy. Merkel said her vision for an energy shift in Europe’s biggest economy would require a lot of work and coordination but all parties at the three-hour talks in Berlin had vowed to work together despite clashing interests.

Reuters 23rd May 2012 more >>

Iran

Fresh talks between world powers and Iran over Tehran’s nuclear programme have begun in Baghdad. Negotiators from the US, UK, China, Russia, France and Germany sat down with a team of Iranian diplomats to try to hammer out specific goals in the long impasse. Iran is demanding that the West outline timetables and steps ahead to gradually address international concerns over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear ambitions. Tehran hopes to leave the Iraqi capital with a clear framework for future talks and potential deal-making, an Iranian official said. Western diplomats have voiced similar concerns, although few believe the discussions in Baghdad will yield breakthroughs in the showdowns over Iran’s nuclear intentions.

Herald 24th May 2012 more >>

Talks in Baghdad concerning Iran’s controversial nuclear programme have gone into an unscheduled second day after diplomats failed to reach agreement.

BBC 24th May 2012 more >>

Reuters 24th May 2012 more >>

World powers meeting in Baghdad yesterday produced new proposals aimed at limiting the levels of uranium enrichment in Iran’s nuclear programme and edging towards a deal they hope could lift the threat of a Middle East war.

Independent 24th May 2012 more >>

Oddly enough, both sides in the bitter dispute over Iran’s nuclear ambitions have become quite good at soothing rhetoric. Saeed Jalili, the Islamic Republic’s chief negotiator, says that “pressure and the language of threat is useless in dealing with the Iranian nation, but talks and cooperation can be a positive approach”. Meanwhile, Baroness Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, declares the only aim is to “restore confidence” in the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme. So the mood music is pleasant enough, but scratch beneath the surface and this confrontation looks as intractable as ever. In the end, Iran will either continue to enrich uranium or this highly sensitive process will be halted. Iran will either keep its existing stockpile of enriched uranium or surrender some or all of the material that its scientists have sacrificed so much to produce (the five who were assassinated on the streets of Tehran have paid with their lives).

Telegraph 23rd May 2012 more >>

Wednesday’s meeting between Iran and the world’s six leading powers in Baghdad was hardly the stuff of breakthroughs, yet by the modest standards of diplomacy with Tehran, the fact that the two sides talked in detail about what divides them counted as progress of sorts.

Telegraph 23rd May 2012 more >>

Iran has proposed a “new and comprehensive” package of proposals to six world powers during talks in Baghdad over its disputed nuclear programme, Iranian media reported.

ITV News 23rd May 2012 more >>

World powers presented Iran with a package of proposals at talks in Baghdad on Wednesday, aimed at defusing tensions over its nuclear programme and fending off the threat of a new Middle East war.

Guardian 23rd May 2012 more >>

Ministry of Defence reluctantly planning for being drawn into a US-Israeli conflict with Iran over Tehran’s possible nuclear arms.

Guardian 23rd May 2012 more >>

Daily Mail 23rd May 2012 more >>

Defence minister Ehud Barak says ‘there must be no window’ Iran can creep through to advance nuclear programme.

Guardian 23rd May 2012 more >>

Iran’s national currency has recovered its value against the dollar in expectation that today’s nuclear talks in Baghdad between the country’s officials and the world’s major powers could establish a long-running procedure and defuse tensions over a military strike on the regime’s nuclear facilities.

Guardian 23rd May 2012 more >>

Renewables

First Minister Alex Salmond has announced a double boost for Scotland’s burgeoning renewable energy industry on the opening day of the annual All Energy showcase event in Aberdeen. In his opening address at the two day green energy exhibition and conference he revealed that a £70 million fund has been established to help develop Scotland’s first commercial wave and tidal power developments and a new centre for the development of enhanced North Sea oil recovery through carbon capture and storage technology.

Scotsman 24th May 2012 more >>

A team led by Atlantis Resources has won a government-backed contract worth up to £13.2m to investigate ways of driving down the cost of tidal power, as part of plans that could see the fledgling industry supply up to 27GW of capacity in the UK by 2050.

Business Green 24th May 2012 more >>

A new, highly efficient wood-chip burning combined heat and power (CHP) plant looks set to help two Cambridge hospitals cut their carbon emissions and energy consumption in half. The new plant is part of a renovation to an energy centre that has been supplying Addenbrooke’s and Rosie hospitals with sustainable energy for the last 20 years. During that time, the hospitals have been incinerating clinical waste to provide heat and hot water to the Cambridge Biomedical Campus and will continue to do so.

Business Green 24th May 2012 more >>

Green Deal/ Green Investment Bank

The German development bank KfW borrows freely and is transforming the energy efficiency of the nation’s homes. The UK’s fledgling equivalent will do neither. Business secretary Vince Cable, responsible for the UK’s Green investment bank (GIB), visits the German development bank KfW today, a day after the law establishing the GIB was published. It will be an interesting visit. When I met Leon Macioszek, director of KfW in Berlin on Tuesday, I pointed out that the GIB can’t actually borrow. This rendered him speechless as his mind wrestled hopelessly with the contradiction. But I am sure he will recover in time to tell Cable about the bank’s work. There is a lot of it, and much of it very relevant to the UK’s troubled Green deal plan to make 14m British homes warmer and cheaper to heat. The UK Green investment bank has £3bn of taxpayers’ money and will not, as it stands, support any home refurbishments, despite many experts saying this is exactly the sort of investment it should assist.

Guardian 24th May 2012 more >>

Posted: 24 May 2012

23 May 2012

Energy Bill

Newly released documents about the Draft UK Energy Bill.

Energy Webwatch 22nd May 2012 more >>

Written Ministerial Statement.

DECC 22nd May 2012 more >>

Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Simon Hughes MP, recently told the House of Commons that the Liberal Democrats remained opposed to nuclear power, and that the policy of not subsidising new reactors meant “it will not happen because it has always needed to be subsidised”. But that rather depends on Liberal Democrat Ministers telling the truth and calling a subsidy a subsidy. Surely the time has come for a Liberal Democrat rebellion.

Spinwatch 22nd May 2012 more >>

There seems to be a consensus, particularly among environmental groups, that the bill will largely favour the nuclear and gas industries, with the new long-term contracts known as “contracts for difference” disadvantaging the smaller renewables companies.

Guardian 22nd May 2012 more >>

Energy Secretary Ed Davey was pressed by Today presenter John Humphries as to whether the changes amounted to a subsidy for new nuclear. “There is going to be no public subsidy for new nuclear,” he said. “What we want is a market structure that makes sure we keep the lights on. “Unless nuclear can be price competitive – as the industry says it can be – these nuclear projects won’t proceed”.

BBC 22nd May 2012 more >>

The simple fact is that low carbon energy investment will not really begin to flow until the government confirms the strike price at which CfDs will be offered for different technologies. That is why the row over renewables vs nuclear is currently so much hot air. Green campaigners suspect the government will tilt the various strike prices in favour of nuclear, but they have no way of knowing which technology will deliver the most attractive returns to investors until the actual strike prices and the duration of all CfDs is confirmed. It is the prospect of this two year investment hiatus that has prompted the government to take the remarkable decision to try and give the Secretary of State the unprecedented power to offer wonderfully named “letters of comfort” to selected low carbon developers, reassuring them that they will be guaranteed returns ahead of the launch of the CfD programme. Leaving aside the fact these letters could in fact prove worthless given they are entirely dependent on the EU granting state aid approval for the new regime, they look like a staggeringly direct intervention from the government as ministers desperately try to get new low carbon projects underway.

Business Green 22nd May 2012 more >>

The government has insisted its energy bill was not a “blank cheque for nuclear”, rejecting claims that its support for a new wave of low-carbon power generation would push up household electricity bills and amount to a public subsidy. The bill, published on Tuesday, contains sweeping reforms of Britain’s electricity market designed to attract the £110bn in investment needed over the next decade to keep the lights on and ensure that the UK meets its ambitious carbon reduction targets. It does this by guaranteeing prices for low-carbon electricity, providing a stable return for companies making big investments in expensive energy projects like new nuclear power stations and offshore wind farms. But the bill faced criticism from some environmental groups which wanted different support mechanisms for renewables, rather than a catch-all scheme for all low-carbon technologies. “As it is, it looks like the process has been rigged for nuclear,” said Nick Molho, head of energy policy at conservation group WWF-UK. While industry figures broadly welcomed the bill, some said the timetable was too slow and that many details remained unresolved. Matt Bonass, climate change lawyer at Bird & Bird, said the bill did “little to provide investors with the certainty they are looking for”.

FT 23rd May 2012 more >>

The draft energy bill plans major changes to the market, causing concern that consumers’ bills could rise and renewable energy is being neglected. Green groups and some renewable energy companies also attacked the draft bill, accusing ministers of breaking promises not to subsidise nuclear power, because the “contracts for difference” by which low-carbon power generators will be guaranteed a price for their electricity will favour the nuclear industry. Davey denied the charge, and said the plans would encourage all forms of low-carbon generation, helping the UK to meet its climate-change targets. Bridget Woodman, of the energy policy group at the University of Exeter, said: “Rarely can an energy measure have attracted such universal condemnation. The key players – renewable generators, most energy companies, consumer groups and commentators – all recognise that contracts for difference won’t deliver a sustainable energy future … The government is in a hole and needs to stop digging before it’s too late to put the UK on a path to a sustainable energy future.”

Guardian 22nd May 2012 more >>

Simon Jenkins: The government’s decision to direct resources to nuclear and wind is typical of an institution befuddled and beset by lobbyists. Anyone who claims to understand energy policy is either mad or subsidised. Last week I wrote that politics is seldom rational. It is more often based on intuition and tribal prejudice. This week we have a thundering example: the government’s new policy on nuclear energy.

Guardian 22nd May 2012 more >>

Electricity bills are set to double over the next 20 years after the Government revealed plans to intervene in the energy market to kick-start £110 billion of investment in low-carbon power generation. The Department of Energy and Climate Change hopes that a draft Bill laid before Parliament yesterday will herald a new fleet of nuclear power plants, more giant offshore wind turbines and other renewable energy projects. Consumers, both households and businesses, are bracing for the worst as the DECC said it would press on with plans for guaranteed high prices for electricity generated from clean energy and taxes that will raise the cost of power produced from coal and gas.

Times 23rd May 2012 more >>

Mr Davey unveiled the draft energy bill on Tuesday, with policies intended to attract investors to build new nuclear and renewable power plants. Britain needs £110bn of investment to keep the lights on and meet green targets. The policies will see annual household electricity bills rise by about £100 by 2030, ministers said, arguing the proposals used the cheapest model available and would actually save consumers £100 compared with not implementing them. However, suppliers such as RWE npower and SSE have argued that parts of the proposals risk unnecessary price rises. RWE said the proposed system to encou rage gas fired plants – designed to ensure security of supply – “would make the British energy sector highly inefficient, costing consumers many billions in unnecessary cost”. Mr Davey said: “In this business there are lots of vested interests and some of them want a particular approach because it suits them best.” If everyone in the industry had been pleased by the proposals, bill-payers “should be worried”, he said.

Telegraph 23rd May 2012 more >>

Domestic power bills will be 2.4pc higher between 2016 and 2020 than if the government did not pursue the policies it unveiled today, the impact assessment for the draft energy bill shows. Ministers claim that Electricity Market Reforms will “keep the lights on, bills down and air clean”. They argue that ultimately their policies provide the cheapest way to incentivise investment in low-carbon nuclear and renewable technologies needed to replace old and polluting power stations. “With or without reform, household electricity bills are likely to increase over time, driven primarily by rising fossil fuel prices,” the Department of Energy and Climate Change said. “However, electricity market reforms will help to reduce the amount that bills will increase. As a result of these reforms, electricity bills are estimated to be, on average, 4pc lower over the next two decades than they would otherwise have been. “Average bills for businesses and energy intensive industries will also be lower than without reform.”

Telegraph 22nd May 2012 more >>

The draft Energy Bill, published today, will do nothing to help energy efficiency or make it easier for new renewable energy companies to enter the market place. It is too complicated, biased towards the Big Six, gas and nuclear, and still contains many uncertainties.

Low Carbon Kid 22nd May 2012 more >>

Ed Davey: The coalition agreement makes clear that new nuclear will only be built if it is without public subsidy – a commitment originally lifted from the Conservative manifesto. I have been very clear since taking over as Secretary of State that that is a non-negotiable. If nuclear reactors are not cost competitive with other forms of low carbon power generation they will not be built. But our existing electricity market makes it more difficult for such low carbon technologies to develop and deploy, because they all have much higher upfront capital costs than unabated fossil fuel competitors like gas. Raising the carbon floor price, introduced as part of our green tax switch policies, will help but by itself will be insufficient. We need electricity market reform to reduce the risk and cost of capital for all these low carbon technologies. The challenge is to move from where we are now, to where we want to be by the middle of the next decade. Our reforms are ambitious and far-reaching and cannot be done in a “big bang”. Yet we need to give investors the strongest possible signals now, locking into law the transparency, predictability and stability they seek. That is why we are proposing a phased approach.

Conservative Home 22nd May 2012 more >>

Britain announced plans Tuesday to finance a new generation of nuclear power plants and renewable energy facilities in a move that illustrates divergent energy policies within the European Union as it grapples with the challenge of reconciling economic and environmental objectives.

New York Times 22nd May 2012 more >>

The British government proposed an overhaul of the country’s electricity market in a bid to lure the 110 billion pounds of investment needed to replace aging power plants and expand renewable energy. The draft law, published today, lays out plans to guarantee prices for low-carbon electricity and pay producers for providing back-up supply when wind power falls short, according to the Department of Energy and Climate Change. It’s aimed at securing commitments from utilities to fund new atomic reactors and clean-power projects, curbing reliance on gas-fed plants.

Bloomberg 22nd May 2012 more >>

Proposed “investment instruments” would give secretary of state power to guarantee prices for renewables and nuclear developers ahead of 2014 electricity market reforms.

Business Green 22nd May 2012 more >>

Electricity bills could rise by up to £200 a year for each home under plans to guarantee high prices for firms building nuclear power stations and wind farms. Details emerged yesterday as the Government unveiled a revolution in the way the nation produces its electricity. Consumers will have to pay more to ensure companies make a profit on their multi-billion-pound investment.

Daily Mail 23rd May 2012 more >>

After years of procrastination, our government has belatedly admitted that unless it urgently addresses Britain’s energy needs, there is a real risk that the lights will go out across the country over the next decade. It took the departure of Chris Huhne from the Department of Energy and Climate Change for the Coalition to concede that we need a chain of new nuclear power plants – rather than plastering the land with wind turbines. But the idea that £110 billion of new investment in the country’s future energy needs can be found without a government subsidy, as ministers claim, is disgraceful piece of government dissembling.

Daily Mail 22nd May 2012 more >>

When it comes to keeping Britain’s lights on, the Government is between a rock and several rather hard places. A quarter of our ageing power plants will shut by the end of the decade. But demand is set to double as people turn to electricity for heating and to run their cars. And under EU treaty commitments, 30 per cent of our power must be green by 2020. Meanwhile, household fuel bills have trebled since 2004 and 8.5 million people are set to slide into fuel poverty over the next four years. The proposed solution is for private investors to bankroll £110bn-worth of offshore wind farms and new nuclear power stations. There is no alternative to rapidly moving ahead with plans for new nuclear power stations.

Independent 23rd May 2012 more >>

The Scottish Government has welcomed today’s publication of the draft UK Energy Bill but warns against any future support for nuclear power. Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said that the Scottish Government supported the strengthening of market support for renewable electricity as well as carbon capture and storage, but warned that any reform must reflect Scotland’s devolved powers, deliver low carbon energy potential and protect consumer interests. And he warned the UK Government that the Scottish Government expects to be a partner in decision making about reform, not a consultee.

Click Green 22nd May 2012 more >>

The SNP accused the Coalition Government of subsidising nuclear power through the back door last night after it published plans to drive millions of pounds of investment into a new generation of power stations. Mike Weir, the party’s energy spokesman, said UK ministers were “obsessed” with the energy source, which they were “plainly subsidising”.

Herald 23rd May 2012 more >>

One big disappointment is that the bill avoids making a firm commitment to banish coal and gas. The Westminster Government’s Climate Change Committee claims the UK can hit its targets only if it decarbonises by 2030. With no clear strategy and energy plans thrown off course by the Government’s failure to strike new deals with nuclear generators, an unintended consequence of the bill could be a new “dash for gas”, which could break CO2 targets and make Britain more dependent on foreign imports. This bill, though good in parts, represents a wasted opportunity. The best and cheapest way to make progress on decarbonisation, security of supply and affordability is to reduce the amount of energy consumed. The omission in the bill of the “Negawatts” strategy to incentivise energy savings is puzzling.

Herald 23rd May 2012 more >>

Brighton Pavilion MP and leader of the Green party, Caroline Lucas, said: “While I welcome efforts to address the UK’s dependence on fossil fuels, reduce our exposure to volatile energy prices and boost long term investment in renewables, this draft energy bill is deeply flawed and looks likely to benefit only the industry’s most powerful players. “The Government has made a big noise about being ‘technology neutral’ and not putting all of its eggs in one energy basket, but the Electricity Market Reform proposals expose a clear bias towards nuclear and gas. “We know that subsidising new nuclear would fly in face of the Coalition’s promise not to use taxpayer’s money for nuclear, yet no matter how much Ministers deny it, EMR will gift EDF and other potential nuclear operators with billions of pounds in subsidies over the lifetime of a power station.”

Natural Choices 22nd May 2012 more >>

The Energy Bill will introduce contracts to guarantee profits for firms that invest billions in new nuclear or offshore wind power stations. Reforms to the UK’s electricity market will push up consumer bills by £160 a year to pay for new nuclear plants and renewables.

Construction Enquirer 22nd May 2012 more >>

Following this morning’s publication of the Government’s draft Energy Bill, Friends of the Earth Senior Energy Campaigner Paul Steedman said: “The Government needs to stop obsessing over a way to make the sums for nuclear power add up, stop our homes leaking heat and switch the country from dirty gas to clean British energy from wind, sun and water to help hard-pressed households with their bills.” He added: “After 18 months of dithering, this Bill doesn’t even set out a clear purpose, when it should make a simple commitment to decarbonising our electricity supply by 2030. All the Bill contains is a desperate attempt to prop up the dying nuclear industry and a way of letting in dirty gas by the back door, even though soaring gas prices have led to rocketing bills. More gas and new nukes will only add to bill payers’ pain.”

Friends of the Earth 22nd May 2012 more >>

Electricity bills will rise £160 a year to fund a push to more renewable energy, the draft Energy Bill will predict today, but officials said the rise would be less than the cost of not acting. MPs have suggested the system will work for nuclear but not for other low-carbon power such as offshore wind, and warned the plans amount to a subsidy for new nuclear reactors. The Government is depending on nuclear power to form an important part of its efforts to keep the lights on with clean electricity, but RWE npower and E.ON announced earlier this year they had decided not to go ahead with developing nuclear power plants at Wylfa in North Wales and Oldbury-on-Severn, Gloucestershire, a move which it was warned threatened the creation of thousands of jobs and undermined UK energy policy.

This is Money 22nd May 2012 more >>

Metro 22nd May 2012 more >>

The long-awaited UK draft energy is expected to favour new gas-fired and nuclear plants over renewables, as the Government is set to introduce new support schemes – including contract for difference – as a price guarantee for power companies. The Government will propose a new draft law later today. “Gas is cheap, has much less carbon than coal and will be the largest single source of our electricity in the coming years. And so the energy secretary will set out our new gas generation strategy in the autumn to secure investment,” George Osborne told MPs in a speech on Wednesday in a parliamentary debate on the draft energy bill.

Gas to Power Journal 22nd May 2012 more >>

In moving ahead with plans to build new nuclear power stations, the UK is increasingly out of step with some of its European neighbours.

FT 23rd May 2012 more >>

ONR

A new regulator will oversee safety when nuclear power stations are under construction. The Office for Nuclear Regulation has functioned as part of the Health and Safety Executive but will become an independent body in charge of all aspects of safety during the construction and operation of the power stations. In the Draft Energy Bill, the ONR is given responsibility to protect against harm from radiation including during the design and construction phases of “relevant nuclear installations and associated sites”.

Construction News 22nd May 2012 more >>

Hinkley

Energy secretary Ed Davey has confirmed talks have begun between the Department of Energy and Climate Change and EDF Energy/Centrica, to ensure an investment decision on Hinkley Point C is not delayed. with Contracts for Difference rates not set to be finalised until 2013 – and not available to generators until 2014 – the government is now inviting developers with pressing final investment decisions to come forward. It has already opened talks with nuclear developers EDF and Centrica to provide them with some firmer guarantees in order to prevent the plans for Hinkley Point C collapsing. Green Party leader Caroline Lucas blasted the CfD system however, stating it exposed a “clear bias towards nuclear and gas”. She added: “We know that subsidising new nuclear would fly in face of the coalition’s promise not to use taxpayer’s money for nuclear, yet no matter how much Ministers deny it, [electricity market reform] will gift EDF and other potential nuclear operators billions of pounds in subsidies over the lifetime of a power station.”

Construction News 22nd May 2012 more >>

Reuters 22nd May 2012 more >>

It now seems clear that the private sector – which is attracted to the Severn barrage – is put off by the enormous decommissioning costs of nuclear and uncertainties about the rate of return. The only way to overcome this would be contracts supported by the government to guarantee a fixed price for electricity from nuclear – some reports suggest this could add £200 a year to household energy bills. Enthusiasm for nuclear has waxed and waned within government – while it seems to fairly strong at the moment, this is mainly because the looming energy gap will have to be plugged in the medium term, and imported gas is too risky. The Severn barrage may yet be a more realistic option after all.

ITV West 22nd May 2012 more >>

Dungeness

MP Damian Collins is to meet David Cameron over hopes of building a third Dungeness nuclear station. A Dungeness C station has been ruled out for more than a decade – but hopes have now been buoyed by a new government bill favouring nuclear power. And there are also new hopes that Dungeness B could carry on producing energy for longer. Folkestone and Hythe MP Mr Collins will discuss the idea at a meeting with the Prime Minister tomorrow.

Kent Messenger 22nd May 2012 more >>

Sizewell

The government is setting out its plans for the future of our windfarms and nuclear power stations when the Draft Energy Bill is unveiled in the House of Commons today. Energy Secretary, Edward Davey is announcing – as part of the draft legislation – plans to reform the energy market which the Department of Energy and Climate Change says “will benefit consumers, investors, the environment and economy.” It could be big news for our region, which leads the way in offshore wind energy. There could be scope in the draft legislation for the building of new nuclear power stations at Sizewell in Suffolk and Bradwell in Essex as well. Meanwhile, energy giant, EDF is in talks with the nuclear regulator about extending the life of its power stations, including Sizewell in Suffolk.

ITV 22nd May 2012 more >>

PLEX

EDF will decide whether to extend the lives of its U.K. Hunterston B and Hinkley B plants by 2013 as the government plans to boost clean-energy power generation. The decision will hinge on the commercial viability of the plants and successful reviews by Britain’s nuclear watchdog, a spokeswoman at EDF said today in response to queries. “Extending the lives of our nuclear power stations makes absolute sense in terms of filling a short-term energy need while the country rightly continues toward aggressive decarbonization targets,” EDF said in an e-mailed statement. “Life extension helps with the very short-term risk but doesn’t change the need or urgency of the new nuclear program.”

Bloomberg 22nd May 2012 more >>

Energy giant EDF, which runs Torness nuclear power station in East Lothian, is in talks with regulators about extending the life of its UK reactors. The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) today said it was “content for the plants to continue to operate” as long as they pass safety tests. French-owned EDF, which has eight nuclear power stations in the UK, has previously said it wanted to extend the life of Torness for at least five years beyond the scheduled closure date of 2023. The moves to keep the plants open come after UK Government plans for a new generation of nuclear power stations were thrown into disarray when one of the two leading consortia bidding to build new plants pulled out.

Scotsman 22nd May 2012 more >>

The firm, which runs Sizewell B in Suffolk, is working with the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) regarding the “extension of the operational lifetime of their existing fleet of nuclear power reactors”. The reactors are due to start decommissioning in 2016, with seven of the eight ceasing generation by 2023, according to the EDF website.

East Anglian Daily Times 22nd May 2012 more >>

Radwaste

Today was the day that the Partnership Patsy’s were told that there is “broad support” for a nuclear dump in Cumbria – apparently this is the BIG NEWS the media has already whipped into and which will be broadcast far and wide, whilst the democratic and unanimous votes of 75% of Parish Councils are discounted as of little consequence. A representative from Upper Derwent Parish Council asked what independent regulator they could voice concerns to about this and other Partnership failings. The answer – The ‘Decision Making Bodies’ i.e. the same crew who are going along with the whole shebang.

Radiation Free Lakeland 22nd May 2012 more >>

THE results of an opinion survey to find out if people in West Cumbria are in favour of taking part in the Government’s search for a suitable site for a nuclear waste repositor have been published today (May 22). Polling company Ipsos MORI surveyed more than 3,000 resident adults in Cumbria on behalf of the West Cumbria Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) Partnership. The results show that 51% of people in the area covered by Allerdale Borough Council supported taking part in the search for a suitable site for a deep underground disposal facility for higher activity radioactive waste compared with 37% who were opposed. 4% said they were neutral and 8% said they did not know. In the area covered by Copeland Borough Council 68% of people supported taking part in the search for a suitable site for a deep underground disposal facility for higher activity radioactive waste compared with 23% who were opposed. 4% said they were neutral and 5% said they did not know.

NW Evening Mail 22nd May 2012 more >>

Carlisle News and Star 22nd May 2012 more >>

ITV Border 22nd May 2012 more >>

ITV Border 22nd May 2012 more >>

BBC 22nd May 2012 more >>

Britain has moved a step closer to finding a permanent home for its huge stockpile of nuclear waste after a poll showed residents were in favour of an underground dump in Cumbria. More than half of the people living in the county are prepared to talk to the Government about hosting the UK’s estimated 300,000 tonnes of radioactive waste in a repository buried deep underground. But geologists and some local campaigners fear that the area on the fringes of the Lake District is an unsuitable place to store material which could take many thousands of years to decay. The poll of more than 3,000 people, conducted by Ipsos Mori for the partnership of local authorities behind the proposals, found 51 per cent were in favour of opening negotiations, with 33 per cent against. Professor David Smythe, former chair of geophysics at the University of Glasgow, said the area around Copeland and Allerdale was “one of the worst places geologically in the UK” to store nuclear waste. “In West Cumbria water flows deep underground from hills and comes up near the surface,” he said. “We’ve done technical modelling, showing that the dissolved waste could come back to the surface in a few thousand years. “West Cumbrian geology is very well understood, and we know it is geologically one of the most complicated sites in the world. If Sellafield was not there, it would be passed over immediately.”

Times 23rd May 2012 more >>

Dalgety Bay

The Scottish government has backed moves to extend emergency restrictions preventing fishing in the Dalgety Bay area. The legislation, which needs to be approved by MSPs in the Scottish Parliament next week, will ban the gathering of seafood and bait. There are concerns about radioactive contamination in the area.

BBC 23rd May 2012 more >>

Companies

ENGINEERING group AMEC is looking to bolster its nuclear services business unit with the acquisition of Serco Group’s North West-based Technical Consulting Services business. Both parties issued statements to the stock exchange revealing that they are in talks over a potential deal for the £70m turnover unit, which has its headquarters at Risley, Warrington.

Business Desk 23rd May 2012 more >>

Construction Enquirer 23rd May 2012 more >>

NPT

NFLA Policy Briefing 97, which provides an overview of the nuclear weapons debate, the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Preparatory Conference and meetings of the Mayors for Peace 2020 Vision Campaign Association.

NFLA 21st May 2012 more >>

Japan

Fukushima Crisis Update 18th to 21st May.

Greenpeace 22nd May 2012 more >>

North Korea

North Korea intensified its war of words against the United States on Tuesday, vowing to strengthen its nuclear deterrent after Washington warned Pyongyang of further sanctions if it did not abandon its atomic program.

Reuters 22nd May 2012 more >>

Telegraph 22nd May 2012 more >>

Iran

World powers will test Iran’s readiness under pressure of sanctions to scale back its nuclear programme at talks in Baghdad aimed at easing the decade-old standoff.

Guardian 23rd May 2012 more >>

Guardian 22nd May 2012 more >>

UNITED Nations inspectors are set go back into Iran to investigate whether the country is secretly producing weapons- grade uranium for use in nuclear missiles. In a move which could reduce the tensions in the Middle East, which have grown since the inspectors were forced to leave the country, a deal has been struct to allow the UN nuclear agency back into Iran.

Scotsman 23rd May 2012 more >>

Iran could be allowed to continue with its nuclear programme if it agrees to stop enriching uranium to a critical level from which it could quickly produce a nuclear weapon.

Telegraph 22nd May 2012 more >>

Israel’s Defence minister voiced scepticism yesterday over an agreement by Iran to open up its nuclear facilities to UN inspectors, saying that the Iranians were trying to create a “deception of progress” to stave off international pressure. The cool reception from Ehud Barak signalled that Israel will not ease up pressure on the international community to curb Iran’s nuclear programme.

Independent 23rd May 2012 more >>

Trident

The Liberal Democrats are deeply unhappy with the plans. No “final decision” is supposed to be made until after the next General Election. Yet the Ministry of Defence and the Tories are carrying on regardless. The LibDems see no need, strategic or economic, for “like for like” replacements for the boats, warheads and missiles. As though fighting the good fight in a parallel universe, they are busily examining alternatives. Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond was yesterday announcing £350 million in Trident design contracts.

Herald 23rd May 2012 more >>

The government has awarded contracts worth £350 million to UK companies to design the next generation of nuclear submarines.

Scotsman 23rd May 2012 more >>

CONTRACTS to design the next generation of nuclear submarines – worth £350million – were awarded today. Most of the work will go to BAE systems. It has been claimed the contract will sustain the jobs of 1,000 workers at its site in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. The first Successor submarine is due to delivered in 2028, replacing the Vanguard Class vessels. A decision on the final design and build will not be made until 2016, but the Ministry of Defence said detailed work has to take place now.

Scotsman 22nd May 2012 more >>

Reuters 22nd May 2012 more >>

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) has slammed the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) decision to place £350m worth of design contracts for the next generation of nuclear-armed submarines – describing Britain’s nuclear weapons as a ‘bottomless pit’ for spending.

CND 22nd May 2012 more >>

Posted: 23 May 2012

22 May 2012

When is a subsidy not a subsidy?

The Government has finally published its Draft Energy Bill which includes so-called Electricity Market Reform as promised in the Queen’s Speech earlier this month. Keith MacLean, head of policy at one of the Big Six utilities, Scottish and Southern Energy, says it’s a complex system “designed to mask what is effectively a subsidy for new nuclear power, which could derail investment in renewables”.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey was pressed on the Today programme this morning by presenter John Humphries on whether the changes amounted to a subsidy for new nuclear. John Humphries said the Coalition Agreement and the European Commission prohibit subsidies to new reactors and so the Government is trying to get around that by calling it something else, and offering long-term contracts to would-be nuclear-builders.

For a longer version of this article see Spinwatch 22nd May 2012.

Posted: 22 May 2012