News 2017

EPRs

A French-designed nuclear reactor ordered by Britain is facing further scrutiny after the disclosure that defects were detected in one of the same models under construction in China. The revelation adds to the string of setbacks that have hit the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) designed by Areva, the French nuclear group. Britain has ordered two of those reactors for Hinkley Point C. They are being built by EDF, the French state energy giant, and China General Nuclear Power Corporation at a cost of £19.5 billion. China General Nuclear Power Corporation, which is building two reactors in a joint venture with EDF near Macau in southern China, said it had found “local defects” in the Taishan 1 reactor. It said that welding in the deaerator, which is used to remove oxygen from water circuits, was defective. The parts had been replaced, it said. Taishan 1 is due to come on stream this month to become the world’s first functioning example of the European reactor. The second Chinese reactor, Taishan 2, is due to come online next year. The $8.7 billion project was initially due to be completed last year, but was delayed by safety concerns. The problems in China pale by comparison with those affecting other projects. Work on a similar reactor at Olkiluoto in Finland began in 2005 and was supposed to finish in 2009. It is now expected to be in action from 2019. EDF is also building a reactor at Flamanville in Normandy which was due to begin operating in 2012, but won’t be working until the end of next year. The reactors at Hinkley Point were originally due to be operational in 2025 but EDF said this summer that they were likely to be 15 months late.

Times 14th Dec 2017 read more »

Daily Mail 13th Dec 2017 read more »

Welding defects in deaerator at Taishan nuclear plant known to manufacturer in production stage, documents show. Documents show that defects with a deaerator in the generating unit 1 of Taishan nuclear power plant were known as early as 2012, following FactWire’s revelation on Tuesday that the key component cracked during performance tests. Harbin Boiler, the manufacturer, apparently has faced technical challenges since the early stages of production, causing oversized gaps between parts of the deaerator which made it necessary to remold their shapes on site before assembly, according to a technical report written by an engineer at the manufacturer. FactWire also found previous incidents involving deaerators at Daya Bay and Ling Ao nuclear power plants, both of which sit about 50km from Hong Kong. Changes in water levels inside the deaerators affected the cooling capacity of the nuclear reactor cores.

Factwire 14th Dec 2017 read more »

Hong Kong Free Press 14th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 14 December 2017

Hinkley

Ten years ago, Vincent de Rivaz, the former chief executive of EDF Energy, promised that people in Somerset would be able to cook their Christmas dinner this year using electricity generated by his company’s Hinkley Point C power station. They now reckon it will open in 2027. Having taken him at his word, a group of local protesters intend to show up at the construction site today with a raw turkey and ask EDF what they should do with it. I suspect they will be told to stuff it. Projects like this often run way over schedule. Friends of the Earth once threw a birthday party for the Dungeness B reactor on the tenth anniversary of its estimated completion. They put a single candle in it, which at the time produced more energy than the power station.

Times 14th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 14 December 2017

New Nuclear

The government is being put under increasing pressure to find new sites for nuclear power stations and help quicken the approval of reactors after a new report has called for an end to delays in decisions. The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) report, Nuclear Power: A Future Pathway for the UK, follows government announcements last week on its support for the next generation of nuclear technologies. It believes an independent review of the Generic Design Assessment process is needed, which is a necessary step for the approval of any reactor in the UK. The report states how the review should ensure that costs are not unnecessarily added and to enable the faster approval of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs).Other critical points of the report include a need for experienced workers from oversees to enter the UK to address the shortage of nuclear construction skills and running a new Strategic Siting Assessment to identify further nuclear sites beyond Hinkley Point C’s potential completion in 2025, including locations for SMRs. The Nuclear Pathway set out in IMechE’s report is said to be achieved by a commitment to replacing old nuclear with new nuclear by 2030, and having a fleet of affordable SMRs by 2040.

Ace 13th Dec 2017 read more »

Professional Engineering 13th Dec 2017 read more »

Gareth Redmond-King, head of Energy and Climate at WWF commented on the announcement by the UK Government of £56 million of funding for new advanced and small modular reactors – “mini nuclear power stations” “At a time when the cost of large-scale nuclear is increasing, and the cost of renewables is plummeting, it is bewildering that the UK Government should be committing yet more money to new nuclear – only a matter of weeks after a freeze on renewables funding was announced. “Small-scale nuclear is untried, untested technology which will deliver nothing for over two decades. Meanwhile, the next wave of offshore wind – not to mention onshore wind and solar – could deliver when we actually need them, during the 2020s.”

WWF 7th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 14 December 2017

Energy Costs

It shows how much money many families could save by switching to the cheapest energy tariff on the market. Or, to be more precise, it compares the cheapest tariff on the market with the average “standard” tariff over the past seven years. The current £330 gap between the two tariffs is the second largest gap over the period. (The tariffs are for gas and electricity in a typical UK household).

FT 14th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 14 December 2017

Brexit

Britain should retain as a close as possible a relationship with the European civil nuclear regulator after Brexit, a Commons committee has demanded ahead of a crucial vote on the issue. MPs on the committee warn that the impacts of leaving Euratom will be “profound”, putting the UK in a much weaker position to drive regulatory standards at a European level. “We conclude that the Government should seek to retain as close as possible a relationship with Euratom, and that this should include accepting its delivery of existing safeguards requirements in the UK,” the report from the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) committee states. The committee’s report comes as more than 100 MPs signed an amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, dealing with the Government’s intention to leave Euratom after Brexit. They want the Prime Minister to guarantee protections for the nuclear industry.

Independent 13th Dec 2017 read more »

David Davis has stated that although there is no ‘systematic impact assessment’ of Britain leaving the European Union, the UK government has produced a ‘sectoral analysis’ of several industries. Joshua McMullan writes that one sector where it would be wise to examine the impact of leaving without any negotiated arrangement would be the nuclear power industry as the UK leaves Euratom. He highlights some potential foundations for a future agreement between the two.

LSE 13th Dec 2017 read more »

A cross-party committee of MPs is warning the government that ‘no deal’ for our nuclear sector could have extremely damaging consequences.

Left Foot Forward 13th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 14 December 2017

France

France faces a decade-long struggle to upgrade its nuclear power plants, but for Natacha Piot, whose firm makes metal pipe supports for reactors, there’s little visibility beyond Christmas. She’s chief executive officer of one of the dozens of subcontractors engaged in a 48 billion-euro ($56.4 billion) project to extend the life of Electricite de France SA’s aging atomic plants. Like several of her peers, Piot is critical of how the state-run utility is managing the process. “I can’t afford to hire because we don’t know what we’ll have to do in a month,” said Piot, CEO of CITA Production, based near the Saone River, north of the vineyards of Burgundy. “We’re overloaded until Christmas, but it’s a total haze for 2018. We’re in a permanent fog.” EDF has cut earnings forecasts as longer-than-planned maintenance and refueling halts at its 58 reactors were compounded by safety checks demanded by the nation’s nuclear watchdog. That means the utility expects nuclear-power generation to barely rebound this year, after a shortage of skilled workers at its contractors cut output by 7.9 percent to 384 terawatt-hours in 2016. EDF will probably miss its nuclear output goals in 2017 and 2018, lowering earnings to the bottom of the company’s latest forecasts, Olly Jeffery, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, wrote in a Dec. 6 note. “Delays could slip into 2019 as well,” he said. As EDF wrestles to prolong the lifespan of reactors by at least an extra decade, CITA Production, the firm founded by Piot’s father in 1964, isn’t the only subcontractor struggling to keep up with the utility’s fast-changing requirements.

Bloomberg 13th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 14 December 2017

Japan

A Japanese court on Wednesday ordered Shikoku Electric Power Co not to restart one of its reactors, overturning a lower court decision and throwing into turmoil Japan’s protracted return to nuclear power after the Fukushima disaster.

Reuters 13th Dec 2017 read more »

NHK 13th Dec 2017 read more »

Mainichi 13th Dec 2017 read more »

Energy Voice 14th Dec 2017 read more »

Mirror 13th Dec 2017 read more »

Wednesday’s ruling by the Hiroshima High Court halting the planned restart of a nuclear reactor in Ehime Prefecture has cast doubt on the judgment of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority — which had approved the restart under stricter post-Fukushima guidelines — shocking the government and utilities across the nation. The ruling deals a heavy blow to a plan by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration to bring more reactors back online, and is sure to prompt the government and utilities to keep a closer eye on similar cases continuing across the country.

Japan Times 14th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 14 December 2017

US

The Havasupai Tribe and a coalition of conservation groups praised the decision Tuesday by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the Department of the Interior’s 20-year ban on new uranium mining claims across 1 million acres of public lands adjacent to the Grand Canyon.

Ecowatch13th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 14 December 2017

Belgium

When an astronaut took nighttime pictures of Europe from the International Space Station this year, one nation stood out far below on the twinkling surface of the earth: Belgium. It is the only country in Europe to keep nearly all of its 2.2 million streetlights on through the night, making it a world leader in light pollution, and easily identifiable even from space. The phenomenon has been a source of ridicule and humor in Belgium for decades. But since the images were published in May, some have also begun to ask a simple but tough question: Why? The official explanation is that it helps road safety and provides security. But critics doubt this and say the phenomenon sheds light not only on Belgium’s roads but also on a mutually profitable relationship among its politicians, electricity distributors and main energy supplier, Electrabel. Belgium’s share of energy from renewables is around 7.8 percent, about half the European Union-wide average, while the government has extended until at least 2025 Electrabel’s permits for seven nuclear reactors that date from the ’70s.

New York Times 12th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 14 December 2017

Russia

A senior executive at the Russian nuclear processing plant suspected of being behind a spike of radioactivity over Europe this autumn has admitted that the isotope recorded does emerge as part of the plant’s production cycle but said its levels are negligible. Russian officials last month reported high levels of Ruthenium-106 in areas close to the Mayak nuclear plant in the Ural Mountains. The environmental group Greenpeace alleged Mayak could have been the source of a Ruthenium-106 leak, but the plant said it has not extracted the isotope or conducted any other operations that may lead to its release “for many years”.

Energy Voice 14th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 14 December 2017