News January 2014

22 January 2014

Energy Costs

Green taxes on energy bills will more than double by the end of the decade, despite a promise by David Cameron to “roll back” the charges, according to one of Britain’s biggest suppliers. Tariffs to fund wind turbines and solar panels will drive the average gas and electricity bill towards £1,500 a year by 2020, npower says. The claim by the German-owned company raises the prospect of another inflation-busting price rise after the next election, and threatens to break the uneasy truce agreed between the Government and the energy industry. In a report published today, npower says that the cost of green levies will fall only temporarily after the Government’s decision last month to remove some environmental tariffs from bills. Npower says that subsidies to fund the rapid expansion of wind farms, solar power and biomass plants will cost households an extra £82 by 2020. Funding insulation schemes will add a further £77 to bills. In total, green taxes will add £245 to the cost of heating and lighting a home by the end of the decade, the company adds.

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Posted: 22 January 2014

21 January 2014


The UK’s ambitious plans for a new generation of nuclear reactors that could be fuelled using the country’s stockpile of waste radioactive material took an important step forward yesterday, as the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) announced that it had identified three “credible” approaches for reusing separated plutonium. The NDA last year undertook a review of the government’s “preferred option” of reusing plutonium as MOX fuel, and also looked at the credibility of alternative proposals put forward by GE-Hitachi and Candu. The agency yesterday published a position paper on its review, indicating that a possible a U-turn could be on the cards as each of the three proposals represents a “credible reuse option” for the UK’s plutonium stockpile. “This work has resulted in NDA concluding that reuse remains the preferred option and, based on the information provided and against our definitions, there are three credible reuse options: – reuse as MOX in light water reactors, reuse in CANDU EC6 reactors and reuse in PRISM fast reactors,” the NDA stated. “We note all the technologies being considered have pros and cons and that no “perfect” solution exists. It may be that a multi-track approach offers best value for money.”

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Posted: 21 January 2014

20 January 2014


Proposals to move 144 tonnes of nuclear waste the length of the West Country, in lorries from Gloucestershire to West Somerset will be opposed this week. West Somerset councillors are being urged to oppose the plan by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to move 70 lorry loads of the waste from the Oldbury power station on the banks of the Severn to Hinkley Point A, where it would be processed and stored.

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Posted: 20 January 2014

19 January 2014


The government stands accused of drafting the consultation process to select the site of a multibillion-pound nuclear waste storage facility to favour a location that some geologists claim is unsuitable for burying radioactive material. Two leading geologists told the Observer that they believed the government was keen to push through Sellafield as the site of the facility, a subterranean tunnel network that would be the size of Carlisle, despite an official inquiry demonstrating that its geology is highly fractured and unsuitable for the safe storage of radioactive waste. David Smythe, emeritus professor of geophysics – who in 1994 conducted a 3D seismic survey in west Cumbria on behalf of Nirex, the government agency responsible at the time for nuclear waste – said he had been “horrified” by what his study had revealed. Smythe said burying radioactive waste in land around Sellafield was “irresponsible and dangerous”. “It is manifestly unsuitable,” he said. “Studies suggest there could be leaks in as little as 50 years, when the material needs to be held for between 100,000 and 1m years.”

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Posted: 19 January 2014

18 January 2014


New European energy policy goals may include an overarching target for expansion of renewable energy, according to reports. The UK has been lobbying against a binding target, which it argues will interfere with plans to build new nuclear power plants instead of wind, solar or biomass.

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Posted: 18 January 2014

17 January 2014

European Energy Policy

A Greenpeace media briefing on the 2030 Climate and Energy package: On 22 January, the European Commission will release a package of draft climate and energy policies which will include proposed 2030 targets for the EU to cut carbon emissions and increase the share of renewables in the energy system. A separate target for energy savings is expected to be dropped until a review of existing legislation later this year. The package will also include a legislative proposal on how to fix the EU’s ailing carbon market, the Emissions Trading System (ETS).

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Posted: 17 January 2014

16 January 2014


Evidence from the USA casts a lot of doubt on hopes that the AP1000 design promoted by Toshiba for the planned 3.4 GW development in Cumbria will be cheaper than Hinkley C. Toshiba, the majority owners of the NuGen franchise, and hopeful developers of the plant say they will ask for a lower price than the £92.50 given for Hinkley C. Well, good luck to Toshiba in finding investors, even though, no doubt they will (like Hinkley C but unlike renewable energy schemes) be offered a very valuable amount of loan guarantees from the UK Treasury.

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Posted: 16 January 2014

15 January 2014


Britain’s nuclear project NuGen will finally be up and running in 2024, it has been announced. Toshiba also revealed on Tuesday it will pay £102m for a 60pc stake in NuGen, which will see a new nuclear power plant built in West Cumbria, providing 7pc of the UK’s electricity needs. The Japanese company will build three nuclear reactors for the project, codenamed Moorside, with a combined capacity of 3.4 gigawatts (GW). This is less than the maximum 3.6GW the Government had predicted could be produced.

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Posted: 15 January 2014

24,000 Deaths and the Bonkers Scenario

The UK Government is missing huge opportunities for renewable energy and energy efficiency which could effectively tackle climate change and fuel poverty, while it fantasises about building up to 50 new reactors by 2050 with nowhere to put the nuclear waste.

The UK’s Energy Consumption amounts to around 1635 Terawatt Hours per year (TWh/yr). Electricity consumption is around 328TWh/y and the planned new nuclear station, Hinkley Point C, would be expected to produce 25TWh/yr if it was able to operate at an unlikely 90% load factor.

Yet UK Government plans are currently missing out on:

An extra 155TWh/year of electricity could be generated by offshore wind by 2030;

About 40TWh/year could be saved by implementing a comprehensive domestic energy efficiency programme by 2030, and this could be increased by 100TWh/year of electricity saved through other efficiency measures;

Between 22 and 140TWh/yr of electricity could be generated from solar panels on domestic roofs; and another 30TWh/yr of electricity from solar panels on industrial and commercial roofs;

140-190TWh/yr could be generated from solar farms – just using land currently used for growing biofuels.

Instead of developing plans to meet 100% of our electricity requirements from renewable energy, as in many other countries, the UK Government has been considering plans for 75GW of new nuclear capacity – about 50 new reactors – by 2050. Such a scenario would likely require around four deep nuclear dumps to be built somewhere in the UK – yet we haven’t even found a site for the waste we have already created.

Hinkley Point C is now expected to cost £6 billion more than building an equivalent station in France, and there are reported to be 724 unresolved safety issues with the EPR reactor.

With up to 7 million homes plunged into fuel poverty this winter, and around 24,000 deaths from cold related illnesses in England and Wales alone, government attacks on energy efficiency leading to dramatic falls in the number of lofts, cavities and solid walls being insulated, it must surely now be clearer than ever that the Government’s obsession with nuclear power is distracting attention from what we really should be doing to end fuel poverty and tackle climate change.

2014 needs to be the year when nuclear subsidies are finally scrapped and energy efficiency is put firmly at the centre of future UK energy policy.

For more on these stories see nuClear News No.58, January 2014.


Posted: 14 January 2014

14 January 2014

Emergency Planning

Revised Principles: Where there is a potential for off-site release of radioactivity within the UK that would require implementation of countermeasures, detailed emergency planning zones (DEPZ) are designated. ONR determines the size of DEPZ on two principles: A technical assessment of the area likely to be affected by a radiation emergency as defined in REPPIR; An assessment of the practical and strategic implications of implementing countermeasures and aid those members of the public who are likely to be affected by a radiation emergency. This assessment involves the consultation with local authorities and includes local demographic and geographical considerations.

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Posted: 14 January 2014