News December 2014

31 December 2014

Nuclear vs Renewables

Governments are still spending billions on nuclear research, but it looks like being an unhappy new year for the industry as it continues to shrink while renewables grow. With nuclear power falling ever further behind renewables as a global energy source, and as the price of oil and gas falls, the future of the industry in 2015 and beyond looks bleak. Renewables now supply 22% of global electricity and nuclear only 11% − a share that is gradually falling as old plants close and fewer new ones are commissioned. New large-scale installations of wind and solar power arrays continue to surge across the world. Countries without full grids and power outages, such as India, increasingly find that wind and solar are quick and easy ways to bring electricity to people who have previously had no supply. Nuclear enthusiasts − and there are still many in the political and scientific world − continue to work on fast breeder reactors, fusion and thorium reactors, heavily supported by governments who still believe that one day the technology will be the source of cheap and unlimited power. But, so far, that remains a distant dream. In the meantime, investors are increasingly sceptical about putting their money into nuclear − whereas renewables promise an increasingly rapid return on investment, and may get a further boost if the governments of the world finally take climate change seriously.

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Posted: 31 December 2014

30 December 2014

Moorside

On New Years Eve, supporters of a radiation free Lakeland will be taking a 10 minute walk from the centre of the pretty Lakeland village of Beckermet to the biggest crime scene of the year. They will be representing the thousands of people who have already signed a petition to Stop Moorside. The crime is taking place at Petersburgh and Greenmoorside Farm, a beautiful historically fertile lowland area between the Lakeland mountains and the Irish Sea. The drilling of 100 boreholes up to 150m has begun in preparation for 3 proposed nuclear reactors to be built by the same people responsible for Fukushima. The consent for the drilling of the 100 boreholes has been achieved by lies, deception and the dumping of any semblance of democracy.

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Posted: 30 December 2014

29 December 2014

Sizewell

Small “modular” nuclear power stations should in future be considered for the UK instead of large-scale plants such as the proposed Sizewell C, according to a House of Commons committee. The small plants could be manufactured off-site and assembled on-site, according to the Energy and Climate Change Committee. It wants the Government to work with industry to better understand the economics of small modular reactors (SMRs) and assess the conditions under which they might become cost effective in the UK.

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Posted: 29 December 2014

28 December 2014

Hunterston

Questions have been asked concerning the dangers of drones flying over Hunterston Power Station, during a recent nuclear liaison meeting. With the growing popularity of drones – radio controlled flying devices which can carry cameras and take photographs and videos from the air – questions have been asked in relation to safety near nuclear sites. West Kilbride community councillor John Lamb was curious to know what the rules and regulations were in terms of the EDF owned site. There is an exclusion zone for manned aircraft surrounding Hunterston which resulted in the Red Arrows having to cancel a Viking Festival air show two years ago in the district.

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Posted: 28 December 2014

27 December 2014

Hinkley

SOUTH-WEST Green MEP Molly Scott Cato has met with the new EU Competition Commissioner to challenge her over the decision to give the green light to the financial deal on Hinkley C nuclear power station. Ms Scott-Cato said the meeting with Commissioner Vestager was an important opportunity to make representations on behalf of the many businesses in the South-West which could be hit by what she claims is the unfair competition the deal represents, and her many constituents who oppose Hinkley C. She said: “I wanted a clearer understanding of Commissioner Vestager’s position on nuclear and Hinkley in particular and to establish how and whether decisions taken by the previous Commission can be challenged.”

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Posted: 27 December 2014

26 December 2014

Cybersecurity

South Korea is seeking the cooperation of Chinese authorities in a probe into a cyberattack on its nuclear power plant operator after tracing multiple Internet addresses involved to a northeastern Chinese city near North Korea, a prosecution official said on Wednesday.

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Posted: 26 December 2014

24 December 2014

Capacity Market

The UK capacity auction: a backdoor way of staving off the utility death spiral. A mantra is inscribed on the walls of the UK Treasury. It reads ‘No subsidy without additionality’. In layperson’s language, this strange phrase means that the only justifiable purpose of handing a business a cheque is to get it to do something it wouldn’t otherwise do. This golden rule was spectacularly flouted in the UK electricity capacity auction that was concluded last week. A billion pounds will be handed to generators in 2018 in return for doing precisely what they would have done anyway. Negligible amounts of new electricity generating capacity was drawn into the market and existing plants will not change their behaviour. Later in this article I’m going to look briefly at two successful participants in the auction – the pumped storage reservoirs and the nuclear fleet – to show why this is so. Consider two important sources of electricity at the times of greatest demand at 5pm on mid-winter weekday evening: nuclear and pumped storage reservoirs. EdF put in bids to the capacity auction offering 7.9 gigawatts of power. (I mustn’t digress but I don’t think that EdF has actually delivered 7.9 gigawatts from its nuclear power stations at any stage of the winter so far, so its ability to deliver on the commitment must be questioned). Nuclear power station are meant to run all the time. It costs money to shut them down or run at a reduced load. No operator would ever voluntarily not have its nuclear stations working. There was no point whatsoever in allowing these power plants into the capacity auction and paying them about £150m a year to carry on doing what they want to do anyway. In the UK it looks as though the major generators have staved off the death spiral a little by capturing another billion pounds from consumers. That billion could have gone into energy storage units, power to gas facilities or renewable generators, such as anaerobic digestion plants, that can modulate their output to help match supply and demand, thus easing the transition away from carbon-based fuels. Unfortunately, the auction just bought off the large generators instead.

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Posted: 24 December 2014

23 December 2014

Nuclear Cybersecurity

Britain’s largest generator of nuclear power said it would be looking at the hacking of a South Korean nuclear operator to see if any lessons could be learned – but the UK industry emphasised that its security standards are high and that it is well-equipped to withstand a cyber-attack. A spokeswoman for EDF Energy, which owns eight out of the nine nuclear power stations in the UK, said it took nuclear safety and security very seriously. “This extends to our stance around cyber-security and while it is not appropriate to go into detail, we work very closely with our regulator and other agencies to ensure that we have appropriate, ‘in depth’ protection measures in place to safeguard informa tion” she said. “Changes in threats to the UK and our industry in particular are kept under constant review and take into consideration recent cyber-events and changes in cyber-threats. “We are monitoring the situation in South Korea and will take any lessons learned from this into account.” The Office of Nuclear Regulation, has in place strict security regulations, requiring sites to have a security plan, which must include details of “the protection of computer-based systems important to safety and security (known as CBSIS)”. A 2012 ONR security review said computer systems must be protected “against cyber-attack, manipulation, falsification and sabotage, consistent with the threats identified in national threat assessments”.

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Posted: 23 December 2014

22 December 2014

Radwaste

Andy Blowers: A Geological Disposal Facility for Nuclear Waste – If not Sellafield then where? In the wake of the publication of the Implementing Geological Disposal White Paper, Blowers looks at political and policy developments in the search for a site for the geological disposal of higher-activity nuclear waste, and argues that the White Paper leaves the way open for further procrastination

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Posted: 22 December 2014

21 December 2014

Nuclear Safety

The nuclear industry and its supporters have contrived a variety of narratives to justify and explain away nuclear catastrophes, writes John Downer. None of them actually hold water, yet they serve their purpose – to command political and media heights, and reassure public sentiment on ‘safety’. But if it’s so safe, why the low limits on nuclear liabilities?

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Posted: 21 December 2014