News 2017

SMRs

Major players in the nuclear industry have been summoned by the government to present their plans for the development of small modular reactors. NuScale and Rolls-Royce among companies reportedly invited to talks with the government over the next few weeks. Hitachi and Westinghouse have also been invited. The meeting is likely to relate to a competition launched by the government in March 2016 to find the best value SMR design for the UK. The results were originally due to be revealed last autumn alongside a roadmap for the development of SMRs. Appearing before the House of Lords science and technology committee in March former energy minister Jesse Norman told members the competition would be “back on track” soon.

Utility Week 15th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 16 August 2017

Nuclear Skills

The head of nuclear at one of Britain’s leading engineering companies says the sector will not have the engineering capacity to develop a new generation of nuclear power plants, if the government fails to commit to a clear policy strategy. The country hasn’t built a nuclear power plant in decades and government inaction has presided over a failure to train new engineers, while experienced engineers gradually retire. Alistair Smith, nuclear development director at Costain told Financial Times, “It’s 20 years since we built a nuclear power station. These people are not just sitting around waiting to start again. We’ve just got Hinkley Point C started and resources on that project are already starting to look scarce.” About 1,800 people are already employed at Hinkley and about 25,000 jobs are expected to be created by the project over the next decade. Mr Smith said there were a limited number of UK contractors with the capabilities to deliver projects as big and complex as nuclear power stations and companies needed to see more clarity before decisions are made on investing in the necessary skills.

Power Engineering International 14th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 16 August 2017

Sellafield

Amec Foster Wheeler has won a £160million deal for the Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria. The firms will manage the engineering support services for asset care and maintenance for the site over the next four years.

Energy Voice 16th Aug 2017 read more »

Business Desk 16th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 16 August 2017

Energy Policy – Scotland

Scottish Green MSPs demand Holyrood targets zero emissions by 2040 to fight climate change. They claim the forthcoming Climate Bill isn’t ambitious enough and are pressing ministers to do more. Under current plans Scotland has a target to reduce emissions by 80 per cent come 2050. The Scottish Government has made moves to improve that and raise the target to 90 per cent. But the Green MSPs say that could prove too little too late and are demanding a zero emissions target be included in the new draft with a target a whole decade earlier than planned in 2040. WWF Scotland are among the groups currently running petitions urging First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to do more to strengthen the bill. In a web statement, they say: “We have the chance now to play our part in tackling this global challenge.” Friends of the Earth Scotland are close to gathering 2000 signatures for their own campaign to get the government to commit to more action. They are calling for a 77 per cent reduction by 2030 and zero emissions by 2040, saying: “Without much tougher action from all the world’s wealthy nations we are facing unstoppable temperature increases.”

The Sun 16th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 16 August 2017

Brexit

The implications of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union are particularly significant for the energy sector. This uncertainty surrounding Brexit negotiations in turn raises specific regional concerns. The North as a whole boasts 48 per cent of the UK’s renewable power, including 71 per cent of England’s biomass generation, 41 per cent of UK wind power and 40 per cent of UK installed nuclear capacity. Concerns over the retention of mechanisms and legislation that support the energy sector are therefore particularly pressing for businesses and other energy stakeholders in the North.

IPPR 16th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 16 August 2017

Proliferation

Cobalt-60 radiation machines are one of the many tools doctors have used in the treatment of cancer for the past 50 years. In North America, nearly all of these units have been replaced with more advanced technology called linear accelerators, which do not contain radioactive material and provide medically superior treatment. In developing countries, the cobalt-60 radiation machines remain prevalent. They are cost-effective and appealing in states with limited or intermittent electricity supplies and other physical infrastructure as well as a shortage of medical and technical expertise. The surest way to prevent terrorists from acquiring these materials, while not limiting people’s access to necessary cancer treatment, is to phase out cobalt-60 radiation machines and replace them with linear accelerators. The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration, which is in charge of efforts to secure potentially dangerous radioactive material, has been supporting this approach for several years. To do so, developing countries need better technology and treatment environments, not only to support this transition away from cobalt-60 machines but to improve cancer treatment overall.

Center for Non Proliferation Studies 14th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 16 August 2017

France

TRACES of radioactive material have been unearthed by construction workers at the Flamanville nuclear site – less than 30 miles from Jersey’s coast. The incident has been reported to the French nuclear regulator ASN – the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire – and has been classed as a ‘Significant Environmental Event’. Employees were said to have been in the process of clearing 8,700 tons of non-nuclear waste as part of a larger project to build a car park, when they came across nearly 100 suits used by technicians working in zones exposed to nuclear activities. A spokesman for the plant said that the construction had been stopped following the incident and that some of the waste had been in the ground since 1989.

Jersey Evening Post 15th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 16 August 2017

North Korea

In an honest, if careless, moment, former US president Bill Clinton declared in July 1993: “It is pointless for [North Korea] to develop nuclear weapons. Because if they ever use them it would be the end of their country.” But the aggressor could be the US. Cheerleader for Western imperialism, war and Trump, the historian of a sort Niall Ferguson wrote in the Sunday Times on July 9: “Military action is always risky… The right question is whether or not the risk of inaction would be greater. Three presidents in succession decided that it would not be — and here we are. Is Donald Trump capable of breaking the sequence? I’d say so.”

Morning Star 15th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 16 August 2017

US

Before 2005, US carbon emissions were marching upwards year after year, with little sign of slowing down. After this point, they fell quickly, declining 14% from their peak by the end of 2016. Researchers have given a number of different reasons for this marked turnaround. Some have argued that it was mainly due to natural gas and, to a lesser extent, wind both replacing coal for generating electricity. Others have suggested that the declines were driven by the financial crisis and its lasting effects on the economy. Here Carbon Brief presents an analysis of the causes of the decline in US CO2 since 2005. There is no single cause of reductions. Rather, they were driven by a number of factors, including a large-scale transition from coal to gas, a large increase in wind power, a reduction in industrial energy use and changes in transport patterns. Declines in US CO2 have persisted despite an economic recovery from the financial crisis. While the pace of reductions may slow, many of these factors will continue to push down emissions, notwithstanding the inclinations of the current administration.

Carbon Brief 15th Aug 2017 read more »

The US government should hold “a structured conversation” with the country’s nuclear industry on ways to restore and develop the sector, according to an essay from Mark Hibbs, senior fellow of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s nuclear policy program. “The pending bankruptcy of Westinghouse, announced five months ago, could have far-reaching strategic impact on US exports and on the economic viability, safety, and security of nuclear power installations in the United States and beyond,” Hibbs says. However, he notes that the Chinese and Russian nuclear industries “appear immune to and poised to capitalise on the problems that have beset Western firms”. Both countries have ambitious plans to export their nuclear power technology around the world.

World Nuclear News 15th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 16 August 2017

Japan

The industry ministry has opened discussions for reviewing Japan’s Strategic Energy Plan, which defines a grand framework for how the country will consume, and cover the demand for, electric power, heat and other forms of energy. Industry minister Hiroshige Seko has said the core part of the plan will remain basically unchanged. Minor adjustments alone, however, would simply not suffice under current circumstances. The ongoing edition of the plan is questionable in many respects, including in the way it defines nuclear energy as a mainstay power source despite broad public opposition to restarts of nuclear reactors. A big wave of change is occurring on a global scale. For example, there are moves, mostly in advanced industrialized nations, for pulling the plug on nuclear power. There is also a trend for moving from coal-fired thermal power generation, given that the Paris Agreement has now taken effect for fighting global warming. Renewable energy options, such as wind and solar power, are spreading rapidly. Japan should also redraw the image of its future self. First and foremost, a phase-out of nuclear power should define the foundation of the country’s new future perspective. While combining a nuclear phase-out with a fight against global warming won’t be an easy task, advances in energy-saving technologies and in renewable energy options have lowered the hurdles for pursuing both. There is a need to seek pathways for doing so, with due consideration given to cost performance and the stability of the energy supply.

Asahi Shimbun 14th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 16 August 2017