News

18 July 2006

New nukes

In 30 years, more elderly Europeans than ever will be lighting their homes and watching television. Buying electricity for them today at a low fixed price is a simple mechanism to alleviate the coming demographic problem. The British government’s recent energy review sets the scene. The complex economics of nuclear power hinge on the capital intensity of the project. A megawatt of capacity will cost about £2,000 to build: considerably less than the updated cost of Britain’s last nuclear power station at Sizewell but substantially more than the contract price for Europe’s only new nuclear station, due for completion in Finland in 2009.
FT 18th July 2006

Polly Toynbee – The climate change deniers have now gone nuclear. When the rightwing tradition of bad science comes onside, it’s time to look seriously at other energy technologies.
Guardian 18th July 2006

Dominic Lawson: Cameron should be wary of the eco-loons. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament revealed yesterday that it had tripled its membership in the brief period since Tony Blair announced his conversion to the cause of nuclear energy. This demonstrates something I had always suspected – that a surprisingly large number of people think the civil nuclear industry is a front for the nuclear weapons programme. Half a century ago, when the Queen opened the world’s first nuclear power station, that was certainly the case. While Calder Hall was promoted as the dawn of a new era of clean energy, Winston Churchill gave it the go-ahead because it would also supply weapons-grade plutonium. But to imagine that the current Prime Minister is engaged in a similar act of concealment is not just ignorant; it is paranoiac. While I realise that Mr Blair has done much to earn the cynicism with which he is viewed, it takes a truly warped mind to believe he has taken this deeply controversial step in order to produce plutonium which even the military don’t want.
Independent 18th July 2006

Nuclear power is in the news again, and today’s students will need to form opinions about it
Education Guardian 18th July 2006

Eurotunnel’s bankruptcy sounds a warning for nuclear investors.
FT 18th July 2006

Frank Dobson: While members of the existing cabinet are bound by joint responsibility, the Blairites want to make irrevocable and massive spending commitments on identity cards, a replacement for Trident and nuclear power. A legacy of reduced freedom of action.
Guardian 18th July 2006

Sellafield

WEST Cumbria’s nuclear opportunities head has questioned the feasibility of building a second generation nuclear power plant at Sellafield. Rosie Mathisen, manager of the West Cumbria Nuclear Opportunities group, set up to ensure that the area capitalises on the nuclear industry, said a decision not to rebuild here would give the area a chance to reduce its reliance on the nuclear industry.
West Cumberland Times and Star 14th July 2006

Hinkley

British Energy has shut its Hinkley Point B7 nuclear plant because of a fault, a company spokesman said on Monday. The plant was shut on Saturday because of problems with a control rod, he said. The outage was expected to be “short term”, the spokesman said. He declined to give further details.
Reuters 17th July 2006

Opinion Polls

There have been two new polls covering nuclear energy in the past few weeks, one by ICM and one by YouGov. ICM found that the majority (58%) of people thought that nuclear energy was safe…but not so safe that they would be happy to live next to a nuclear power station – 50% said they would be very concerned if one was to be built near them. Unsurprisingly, asked to make a straight choice between different forms of power without reference to cost, reliability and so on – far more people thought that money should be invested in renewable sources like solar (79%) and wind (76%) power than in nuclear (38%).
UK Polling Report 17th July 2006

Northern Ireland

It is doubtful that the Secretary of State, Peter Hain, will ever make a more surreal statement than last week’s, in which he announced that the North would not be getting its own nuclear power station.
Belfast Telegraph 17th July 2006

Torness

FORMER Cabinet Minister Gavin Strang has attacked his Edinburgh Labour colleague Alistair Darling over his support for a new nuclear power station at Torness. The Edinburgh East MP spoke out after the Trade and Industry Secretary made it clear the Government wants to see more atomic power stations built to fill the energy gap. Edinburgh South West MP Mr Darling and East Lothian MP Anne Moffatt have both supported the idea of a new plant on the Torness site.
Edinburgh Evening News 17th July 2006

Iran

That it has become the received wisdom in the US that Iran was directing Hizbollah to deflect international pressure on Tehran’s nuclear programme, is testimony to the Bush administration’s ability to dominate the discourse in the mainstream media. The crisis has also demonstrated how it can rely on the support of the US foreign policy establishment – Democrat and Republican – when it comes to matters of vital national interest to the US and Israel. Challenging these assertions, Iranian analysts and activists in the US – both those for and against the Iranian theocracy – are warning that such simplified arguments may not only be completely erroneous, but will also complicate the process of calming down the crisis while raising the chances of a direct conflict between Iran and the US.
FT 18th July 2006

Posted: 18 July 2006

17 July 2006

Scotland

MALCOLM Chisholm yesterday became the first senior Labour minister to declare his total opposition to new nuclear power stations in Scotland. Mr Chisholm, Jack McConnell’s communities minister and a member of the Scottish Executive, also claimed that most Scots shared his view.
Scotsman 17th July 2006
Herald 17th July 2006

North Korea

North Korea has angrily rejected a UN Security Council resolution imposing trade sanctions and condemning it for its recent batch of ballistic missile tests, saying it constituted “a prelude to the provocation of the second Korean War”.
Independent 17th July 2006

G8

World leaders at the G8 Summit in St Petersburg failed to agree common ground on nuclear energy and global warming yesterday. Tony Blair’s struggle to persuade the world’s eight most powerful nations to unite to end climate change produced a disappointing one-line acknowledgement that the issue matters to some countries, but not others. The British delegation had hoped yesterday’s main session of the summit could be used to kick-start informal talks over what the world will do when the Kyoto agreement on climate change runs out in 2012. Mr Blair is adamant that negotiations must begin soon and must involve the US, which notoriously did not sign up to the present agreement.
Independent 17th July 2006

Environmental advocacy groups accused the Group of Eight industrial nations on Sunday of failing to take seriously the problems of climate change and the dangers of nuclear energy.
Reuters 16th July 2006

Nuclear Weapons

At a Trident conference at Chatham House last week, there was no sign of a government presence, even to listen. No “full and open debate” has even started. Yet Blair and Gordon Brown have publicly asserted a determination to replace the missile system. How can any of us respect an administration that, on a complex issue with implications for this country half a century hence, makes up its mind before hearing the evidence?
Guardian 17th July 2006

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament has signalled its resurgence by agreeing a 50 per cent increase in its staffing levels and campaigning budget as it fights the Government’s plans to replace Trident and allow a new generation of nuclear power stations.
Independent 17th July 2006

Energy Review

Letter from Steuart Campbell – he calls a technology that re-uses “used fuel” renewable.
Scotsman 17th July 2006

As policy U-turns go, last week’s Government Energy Review was at the more brazen end of the spectrum. Just three years after virtually ruling out a new generation of nuclear power stations in a White Paper, these generators were given the official go-ahead. The Prime Minister was candid about the reason for the reversal, telling the House of Commons Liaison Committee a week before the review was published: “I’ve changed my mind.” That may well be true, but we wonder how much thought Mr Blair has given to the consequences of this decision. There is, of course, the question of how the nuclear waste produced by these power stations (which, we should remember, remains radioactive for thousands of years) will be dealt with. The Energy White Paper had nothing to say about the technicalities of how this waste will be disposed of, or the Government’s involvement in the process. But there is also the significant question of popular opposition to Mr Blair’s nuclear plans.
Independent 17th July 2006

Opinion piece by Ruth Lea of the Centre for Policy Studies: the Energy Review contained a much more balanced package of proposals than the 2003 Energy White Paper.
Telegraph 17th July 2006

British Energy

THE government is expected to appoint investment bankers over the next fortnight to handle the £2.4 billion sale of part of its 65 per cent stake in nuclear generator British Energy.
Scotsman 17th July 2006
Interactive Investor 16th July 2006

Plans for the sale, one of a number of government sell-offs proposed by Gordon Brown, the chancellor, in this year’s Budget, will be set out in a written parliamentary answer this week. The disposal could raise about £2bn as fund managers look to benefit from a revival in nuclear power and the company’s improved prospects.
FT 17th July 2006

New nukes

A petition of 10,000 signatures from the Cumbrian area has been presented to Tony Blair calling on the government to base a new generation of atomic plants on the controversial Sellafield site. But there was also disappointing news for supporters of atomic power with the Finnish energy firm TVO saying its new Olkiluoto 3 plant was now one year behind schedule and the builder – Areva of France – reporting a “sharp fall” in first-half operating results.
Guardian 17th July 2006

Posted: 17 July 2006

16 July 2006

British Energy

The Government will launch the £2.4bn sale of part of its majority stake in British Energy this week in a move that could see foreign companies, such as French nuclear group EDF, buying minority stakes in the rejuvenated nuclear generator. Government officials will hold a beauty parade of investment banks to handle the sale, which is expected to take place in the autumn. The National Audit Office criticised the Department of Trade and Industry earlier this year, for not using a competitive process to appoint advisers for the company’s restructuring four years ago.
Independent on Sunday 16th July 2006
Sunday Times 16th July 2006

New nukes

IT came as no surprise that last week’s report from the UK Energy Review opened the door to new nuclear power stations. What was less expected was a bold return to central planning with a Kafka-esque twist. If you suspect you live near the site of one of the planned next-generation new nuclear power stations and you want to block it, you now have just four months to make your case – so long as you want to use the “economics” or “necessity” of nuclear power in your argument, that is. Because from 31 October, the government will consider both arguments settled. But the sites will not be chosen until after a review which starts in January next year. The £10bn (E14.5bn, $18.4bn) to £15bn worth of business that nuclear engineers and construction firms are hoping to get from replacing 10,000 megawatts (MW) of nuclear power, now looks almost within grasp. Far from fudging the nuclear issue, as some have claimed, the government is moving with uncharacteristic speed. Once it has published a “statement of need” in a White Paper at the turn of the year, the necessity or economics of individual nuclear power stations will not form part of any local enquiry. Not that you’d know it from the announcement. You had to get to page 164 to find out the government had effectively launched the planning enquiry process. Trade Secretary Alastair Darling made no mention of it in his address to the House of Commons. Indeed, he spent more than than half his speech dwelling on renewables and energy saving, before he even mentioned nuclear power. And it’s not just the economic argument that starts being settled now. The first stages of a separate enquiry into the safety of nuclear power could begin this year, although the process, known as justification, will eventually involve a public consultation. Once the independent committee on nuclear waste reports in a fortnight, the government will start taking the first steps towards siting and building a long-term nuclear waste dump. The licensing of the most likely reactor designs could start this year and once these sites are decided, local planning enquiries will not be able to question whether there are more suitable locations, or whether a particular reactor is safe.
The Business 16th July 2006

If you were a conspiracy theorist you might wonder at the miraculous change between the last energy white paper, in 2003, which was lukewarm on nuclear, and last week. You might wonder about circumstances that could not have been more beneficial to integrated energy companies; high oil and gas prices now, followed by lots of demand for alternatives and nuclear later. Leaving aside conspiracy theories, which are almost always wrong, there is a fundamental question to be asked. If things can change so dramatically in the past three years, what will they look like in three, five or ten years? Will the case for nuclear, or for wind farms, be stronger or weaker than it is now?
Sunday Times 16th July 2006

Brian Wilson: TO GAIN a sense of perspective, it is always a good idea to view political debate from a distance in both time and space. So where better to be while the energy review was reaching its crescendo than the Isle of Lewis, where every flick of a switch is dependent upon power generated on the mainland – just as anywhere else – from a mix of coal, gas and nuclear.
Scotland on Sunday 16th July 2006

Letter: In reference to the Government’s energy review findings released on July 11, the Country Land & Business Association (CLA) is concerned that the debate over nuclear electricity is a distraction. There appears to be a fixation on nuclear generation of electricity, yet electricity accounts for only 25% of UK greenhouse gas emissions. The questions must go further than “Are we going to run out of electricity?” Surely we should be asking, “Can we provide a secure and sustainable supply of energy for our needs in the future?”, and “How can we deliver positive environmental results rather than simply reduce our negative effects?”
Nottingham Evening Post 15th July 2006

A team from Canadian power company AECL is flying to London this weekend to sell its Candu nuclear reactor.
The Business 16th July 2006

Posted: 16 July 2006

15 July 2006

Energy Review

The government has just given the green light to more nuclear energy, but why were the workers campaigning for this move funded by BNFL? Andy Rowell investigates
Guardian 15th July 2006

Letter from Norman Kerr, Energy Action Scotland: Much discussion of the government’s energy review has focused on the nuclear versus non-nuclear argument. Sadly, there is little in it to cheer four million fuel-poor households who struggle to pay rising energy bills.
Scotsman 15th July 2006

Energy companies were pleased at the scope of the report and the way in which it reflected all the complexities of the operating environment. An npower executive said this week that pretty much all that the German-owned energy company had called for in its submission to the review had been found in the finished document. The only qualification the executive had was that some detailed proposals needed to be applied to this policy skeleton, quickly. The main bright spot for all the quoted companies in this sector was the Government’s clear commitment to the principle of the market. Nuclear power may be back on the agenda, but it is not to be subsidised and the Government has made clear that it is for private investors to fund any new developments. The question is whether the energy review has done enough to encourage generating companies to invest. The problem is that decisions on investment for many of the companies are now taken overseas. For instance, E.ON and RWE are facing similar pressures to invest in security of supply and generating capacity in their home markets of Germany. Despite the Energy Review’s fine words, the chances are that energy prices over the next few years will climb steadily higher. That, coupled with the Government’s commitment to remove planning hurdles, will enable generating companies to embark on a period of investment, the like of which has not been seen since the nationalised industry’s Sixties heyday.
Times 15th July 2006

Letter: the UK government is in favour of more nuclear power stations but its energy review skates over where to find the large number of engineers necessary to build, operate and decommission them. The UK’s small pool of home-grown talent is mainly tied up with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the output of suitably qualified graduates has been dwindling for years. As a result, more than 70 per cent of companies in the nuclear industry have skills gaps, according to Cogent, which monitors skills needs in the energy sector.
FT 15th July 2006

MANCHESTER will stay a nuclear-free city despite government plans for a new generation of nuclear power stations. The city council has re-affirmed that there should be no new nuclear energy in Britain and that the existing capacity should be phased out.
Manchester Evening News 14th July 2006

Letter: So at last we have the Government’s long awaited nuclear review, oops, sorry, energy review. As we already new it was an exercise in dressing up the heavy promotion of nuclear build in the greenery of lots of ‘renewable talk’.
Lincolnshire Echo 14th July 2006

Letter: I do not share the view of Andrew Harris and Alan Shaw (letters, July 10) that decisions on nuclear power should be taken by “experts”. The job of experts in a democracy is to present their evidence in a form which can persuade elected representatives to take decisions that they are prepared to justify to the people. The history of nuclear power in this country, in respect to three key issues: cost, safety and the inter-relationship with the nuclear weapons programme, has been one of so-called experts, many with vested interests, dissembling until found out. Your correspondents seek to perpetuate the delusion that experts can be impartial.
Times 15th July 2006

Hinkley

Residents opposing a wind farm in Brent Knoll could pave the way for more nuclear power stations in the region. The claim was made by North Somerset councillor Mike Bell at the Lib Dem regional conference. Mr Bell, who is Weston’s prospective MP, said wind farms, like the one proposed in Brent Knoll, should be encouraged.
Bristol Evening Post 14th July 2006

Wylfa

YNYS Mon AM Ieuan Wyn Jones is seeking urgent talks with the electricity industry and unions over prospects for anew nuclear power station on Anglesey. The Plaid leader said the government’s energy review left many unanswered questions by suggesting nuclear could be part of future power plans. No announcement over likely sites for anew generation of nuclear plants is expected for some months, the AM said yesterday. “As AM for AngleseyI have aduty to find out whether or not anew station is planned for the island. “I need to know what kind of station might be planned, the likely timescale, the cost, the number of jobs created and how it’s intended to deal with the waste and environmental concerns.”
Daily Post 14th July 2006

Posted: 15 July 2006

14 July 2006

G8

A draft G8 communique on “Global Energy Security”, expected to be approved at a summit in Russia this weekend, highlights a deep split on the issue of nuclear energy among the world’s most powerful economies. The 5,500-word draft statement, given to Reuters by a senior official from one of the Group of Eight nations, was still being revised before the arrival on Saturday of the leaders of the United States, Russia, Japan, Germany, Italy, Canada, France, Britain and the European Union in St. Petersburg. Although the United States and Russia would have liked the G8 statement to back the global revival of nuclear energy, Germany and, to a certain extent Italy, oppose this, G8 diplomats said. The draft text clearly highlights this rift.
Reuters 13th July 2006

Putin has created an energy superpower whose voice is again important. And he has placed the issue of energy security at the heart of the summit agenda. Russia is the world’s second biggest oil producer after Saudi Arabia.
Independent 14th July 2006

New nukes

Conservation group WWF has lent its weight to the criticism directed at the Government over the recent Energy Review, calling announcements over an energy gap ‘fantastic spin’, designed to usher in new nuclear energy facilities. The group also called the new generation of nuclear power stations a ‘red herring’ that would divert resources away from renewable development and uptake.
Green Consumer Guide 14th July 2006

The government said today that its energy review had won support for a multi-billion-pound nuclear programme despite scepticism from some power companies. But the growing optimism within Whitehall was shaken by a warning from the biggest nuclear union that it was prepared to take industrial action to save the pension position of its members threatened by privatisation.
Guardian website 13th July 2006

THE RIGHT to object to plans for windfarms and nuclear power stations could be taken away as the government tries to drastically reduce carbon emissions. Whitehall will make the decision that nuclear plants and windfarms are safe and necessary and therefore cannot be challenged in a planning hearing.
West Cumberland Times and Star 14th July 2006

A PETITION of 10,000 signatures calling for the Government to reopen Sellafield as a second generation nuclear plant was presented to the Prime Minister this week. Unions representing Sellafield workers drew up the petition in the wake of the energy review, in which the government has signalled a nuclear future for the country. Peter Kane, spokesman for the GNB at Sellafield, said he understood that Tony Blair had given the union representatives an encouraging hearing.
West Cumberland Times and Star 14th July 2006

WEST Cumbria’s nuclear opportunities head has questioned the feasibility of building a second generation nuclear power plant at Sellafield. Rosie Mathisen, manager of the West Cumbria Nuclear Opportunities group, set up to ensure that the area capitalises on the nuclear industry, said a decision not to rebuild here would give the area a chance to reduce its reliance on the nuclear industry. In a statement released after the Government’s energy review, she said that if a plant was built here, there were local people with the skills to service such a plant. She said: “However, whether West Cumbria is a commercially feasible site is questionable because of connectivity and transmission issues.
West Cumberland Times and Star 14th July 2006

A new generation of nuclear power stations and creating more energy from renewable sources such as wind and waves received Government backing, as well as plans to encourage people to conserve or use less energy. Simple ideas include phasing out ‘standby’ buttons on electrical appliances in future years.
Cumberland News 14th July 2006

CUMBRIA’S Conservative politicians have signed a joint declaration calling on the government to invest in Sellafield and put an end to decommissioning at the west Cumbrian reprocessing plant. The declaration also demands a new generation of nuclear power stations built in west Cumbria to “sustain our economy, support local business and preserve local employment”.
Cumberland News 14th July 2006

Letter from a LibDem Councillor: So the Tories are refusing to oppose the construction of any new nuclear power stations? Once again, David Cameron has shown his commitment to the environment is barely skin deep.
Bath Chronicle 13th July 2006

A nuclear power station and wind farm could be destined for the Maldon district under new Government plans. The area could be a prime location for the power plants which must be built to generate new sources of fuel. As a result, the decommissioning of Bradwell power station and the refused application for a wind farm on the Dengie could both face reversals in the light of an energy review published on Tuesday.
Essex Chronicle 13th July 2006

Dr Kevin Anderson, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research’s energy programme, comments on the DTI Energy Review. “The Energy Review has a highly disproportionate focus on electricity supply as opposed to heat and transport – neglecting the other 82% of UK energy use. It has the traditional over-emphasis on large, centralised and big power supply using conventional engineering thinking. “There is no real action proposed to realise the substantial potential of alternative means of generating low-carbon power, such as micro-generation of electricity at the community-level and the widespread implementation of combined heat and power.”
Environment Times 13th July 2006

Green campaigners say another lengthy battle looms if the Government announces it is willing to allow a new nuclear plant to be built in the North East.
Newcastle Evening Chronicle 13th July 2006

It could be up to seven years before the UK sees approval for its first new nuclear power station. Despite promises to speed up the licence application process, a fast-track system could still be some way off – assuming private sector investment is forthcoming. The news follows rumours that government inspectors were due to visit Hartlepool Nuclear Power Station early next year with a view to granting permission for a second plant.Health and Safety Executive (HSE) proposals for a two-phase pre-licensing approval could cut delays in granting licences if adopted. Phase one would see the approval of reactor designs. The second stage would be based on location and a site and operator-specific assessment before a licence was granted. The process is intended to provide a more transparent, rigorous and robust regulatory approach to the safety of any new nuclear reactors. But an HSE spokesman said phase one could take nearly four years to approve, with phase two taking only a little less time. British Energy said “There is land enough at the site to build a second station at Hartlepool,”
Evening Gazette (Teesside) 13th July 2006

Can this selfish country cope with nuclear power? Imagine what a nuclear industry equivalent of the water companies’ performance would be like.
Independent 14th July 2006

Letter from Bridget Woodman You are right to highlight energy security as a key issue for any energy policy. However, you are mistaken in assuming that nuclear power can make a significant contribution to this, either in the short or longer term. Energy security comes from a number of factors: a secure supply of fuel from a range of sources, adequate output from a diverse portfolio of generating technologies, flexible stations to react to changes in demand, reliable infrastructures to transport energy to users, and the ability to compensate for unforeseen losses in output with other power sources. Nuclear power can play only a limited role. It is only a generator of electricity, rather than a contributor to a wider range of energy needs such as heat production. Its fuel source, uranium, is imported and finite. It is not flexible, but has to operate at more or less full output at all times. It is necessarily large in scale, meaning that there always has to be an equal amount of spare generation available in case the largest nuclear unit, Sizewell B, should fail. Add to this the potential security threats from terrorism, the long-term implications of nuclear waste and the possibility of a serious accident, and in fact nuclear power is not an attractive option for the UK. The Government’s statement is an enormous missed opportunity to develop a more secure, flexible and small-scale energy system offered by the range of renewable technologies and combined heat and power.
Times 14th July 2006

France – Finland

Optimism about the European nuclear energy industry took a knock when French giant Areva warned that first-half operating profit will be lower than a year ago and full-year operating cash flow will be “highly negative”. The nuclear energy group’s predictions came after this week’s revelation that work on Finland’s 3.8 bln eur Olkiluoto 3 reactor, which is the only nuclear power plant under construction in Europe, is a year behind schedule.
Interactive Investor 13th July 2006

Scotland

THE long-term future for Torness Power Station remains uncertain, despite the announcement by Tony Blair that nuclear power should form an important part of energy policy in years to come. Despite Westminster support, Holyrood has the final say on whether any new nuclear power stations will be built on Scottish soil – as planning is a devolved matter. East Lothian MSP John Home Robertson, who supports the principle of a Torness B, said: “The Executive’s position is that they won’t approve any new nuclear power stations until the issue of waste is resolved.” However, he added that there was no “pressing need” for an immediate replacement for the British Energy-owned site on the outskirts of Dunbar, which contributes more than £22m to the local economy.
East Lothian Courier 13th July 2006

Iran

Major powers turned over to the 15-nation U.N. Security Council on Thursday details of energy and economic incentives they offered to Iran if it suspends its nuclear ambitions and stops uranium enrichment. The three-page incentive package, which had not previously been published in full, includes a pledge to “actively support” the building of new light water power reactors in Iran.
Reuters 14th July 2006

British Energy

British Energy, the nuclear power group, risks having to pay out hundreds of millions of pounds in order to keep control of a coal power station following a challenge from its bondholders.
FT 14th July 2006

Posted: 14 July 2006

13 July 2006

New nukes

The central problem of the Blair government has always been a lack of imagination. This is not the same as a lack of boldness: new Labour has made a point of pushing through unpopular policies, whether with the party (foundation hospitals, tuition fees, trust schools) or the country as a whole (war in Iraq). The trouble is that it has too often mistaken a readiness to grasp the nettle for a genuine vision of Britain’s future. Nowhere is this more obvious than in energy policy.
New Statesman Leader 17th July 2006

Letter from Keith Taylor (Green Party): The case against nuclear power is well known, but in recent weeks the arguments have coalesced around the economics. Simon Jenkins (Comment, July 12) does not believe “a word that the ‘renewables’ industry … say, because they want to get at £1bn of public funds”. Since 1974 the UK has spent £6.8bn on research and development into nuclear fusion, which is still no nearer, while in the same period it has spent only £540m on renewable power research.
Guardian 13th July 2006

Several letters on energy efficiency including one from Andrew Warren: The government’s energy review makes plain that, even by the end of the next decade, the most optimistic assumption is that only a single new nuclear power plant could be operating, delivering just over one million tonnes of carbon saving ( but only if it replaces an existing fossil fuel station). In contrast, elsewhere in the review it states that saving energy in our businesses and households “could save around 25 million tonnes of carbon through cost-effective energy efficiency measures” by 2020.
Guardian 13th July 2006

A 34-page cost-benefit analysis, testing the case for new nuclear power generation, is just one part of the paper mountain. It puts what the Blair government is actually committing itself to in an altogether more sober light.
Reading it might just calm people like Duncan McLaren. It might also disappoint those on the pro-nuclear side of the argument who think it’s full steam ahead for a lot of new capacity. The analysis suggests there is “scope for adding a relatively small amount of nuclear capacity in the period to 2025”. It quantifies that amount at around six gigawatts, or four new stations, if comparable in capacity to the one currently being built in Finland or the other now planned in France. But none of them is likely to come on stream before 2021. The analysis envisages an eight-year pre-development period for a public inquiry, licensing, etc, starting in 2007, and a six-year construction phase. To put that in context, pre-development is expected to take longer than Sizewell B, while the construction time is only 14 months shorter. The study does put the cost of new-build nuclear a lot lower than Sizewell, £22-£38 per megawatt-hour against the Suffolk plant’s £60/MWh. But it draws that figure, not from Whitehall guesstimates but from independent calculations, including several from global investment banks which would have to come up with the money if these things are ever to be built.
Herald 13th July 2006

Letter from George Paterson: THERE is only one part of the UK that is short of energy, and that is England. To burden the rest of the population with the cost of a nuclear programme gives more weight to those who want an independent Scotland.
Herald 13th July 2006

Letter from Scottish Renewables Forum: NOTE in recent correspondence the continuing belief in the myth that wind power is a pointless exercise because it requires 100% back-up from conventional sources such as nuclear and fossil-fuel-burning power stations – the implication being that it will not reduce carbon emissions. People should not fall for this line. Windfarms, and other renewable sources of electricity, are producing, and will produce, significant levels of useful electricity in Scotland. This green power will ensure that, principally, coal-fired power stations will generate less power, thus providing significant carbon emission savings.
Herald 13th July 2006

Matthew Parris asks: why doesn’t Tony Blair pack up all his troubles in one horrific kit bag, and put the next big nuclear power station on the site of the Dome? He assures us it will be safe. So what could be the objection?
Times 13th July 2006

It will cost up to £1.4bn to upgrade Britain’s electricity network if a new fleet of nuclear power stations is built, says the National Grid. The power network operator believes the extra investment is essential if the UK’s electricity system is to cope.
Telegraph 13th July 2006

David King on why we need nuclear power: We need everything in the armoury: These wedges have to include each of the following: energy-efficiency gains; an ambitious programme of energy renewables; decarbonising the transport sector; a programme to reverse the decline of nuclear energy on the grid; distributed energy generation with combined heat and power; energy microgeneration, making much of the built environment independent of the national grid; and carbon capture and storage. In effect, this has been set out in the Energy Review published this week.
Independent 13th July 2006

A NEW generation of nuclear power stations and alternative energy sources will meet Britain’s energy needs, the government has announced in its Energy Review. M.E.N.’s reporter Ben Rooth looks at how the proposals will affect the north-west.
Manchester Evening News 12th July 2006

THE commitment to a new generation of nuclear reactors is likely to mean a reprieve for Heysham Power Station, near Morecambe, which was due to close in 2023.
Manchester Evening News 12th July 2006

THE north west could be in the forefront of the government’s bid to move toward nuclear power and renewable energy.
Manchester Evening News 12th July 2006

UNISON, the UK’s largest union, regrets Government proposals to build new nuclear power stations. Whilst welcoming plans to tackle climate change, UNISON strongly believes there is no case for embarking on a new nuclear build programme. UNISON is concerned that there seems little prospect of a national consensus over nuclear waste disposal.
Unison Press Release 12th July 2006

Letter: How many nuclear engineers does it take to screw in a light bulb? Given the scarcity of such engineers it would be difficult to recruit the one required to screw it in, let alone the six to figure what to do with the old bulb for the next 10,000 years.
Independent 13th July 2006
Telegraph 13th July 2006

IN ITS ENERGY Review the Government has at last faced up to serious problems in powering Britain for the next 50 years. During the past 40, governments have tried short-sightedly to pick winners in the energy stakes, be they coal, gas, nuclear or, as in the blinkered and overoptimistic 2003 review, “renewables” such as wind. Moreover, until recently, governments have been cushioned against energy realities by the resources of North Sea gas and oil. These are now squandered and declining, while our coal and nuclear power plants are ageing, so that by 2025 there will be, potentially, a 30 to 50 per cent shortfall in generating capacity.
Times 13th July 2006

Nuclear Waste

Letter from Gordon MacKerron: What the committee will not be doing is recommending specific sites where any facility should be located. Instead, we will be outlining a process we think the government should follow to find suitable sites. We believe strongly that neither CoRWM nor the government should identify sites.
Guardian 13th July 2006

Nuclear Weapons

Tony Blair today hinted that MPs could get a vote on replacing Britain’s controversial Trident nuclear deterrent.
Guardian website 12th July 2006
http://www.guardian.co.uk/nuclear/article/0,,1818808,00.html?gusrc=rss
Times 13th July 2006

Iran

The smouldering international confrontation over Iran’s nuclear programme flared into life last night after Russia and China agreed to back a US-led move to refer Tehran to the UN security council, a process that could lead to the imposition of punitive sanctions and a sharp escalation of the crisis.
Guardian 13th July 2006

Posted: 13 July 2006

12 July 2006

Energy Review

The Energy Challenge Document is available at: http://www.dti.gov.uk/energy/review/index.html
And also at the BBC site below.

The go-ahead has been given for a new wave of UK nuclear power stations. Industry secretary Alistair Darling told MPs nuclear power needed to be part of the mix of energy supply for the UK over the next 40 years.
BBC 11th July 2006

The nuclear power industry dealt a blow to the government’s hopes of seeing a new generation of plants when leaders warned that the energy review published yesterday did not go far enough or offer suitable incentives. Politicians must get away from the “froth” of words and come up with something more concrete before winning support for new stations, said the Association of Electricity Producers (AEP). Other nuclear experts warned that Tony Blair’s hopes of a nuclear future could be wrecked by skills shortages, while the energy regulator, Alistair Buchanan, said last night there could be a gas supply crunch as early as this winter.
Guardian 12th July 2006

The government yesterday unveiled an array of measures, from nuclear new-build to phasing out the standby setting on computers. It said these would take the UK closer towards meeting its target of cutting carbon emissions by 60% of 1990 levels by 2050 and helping to secure energy supplies in the long term.
Guardian 12th July 2006

Mr Blair and Alistair Darling are right to say that Britain needs a mix of energy sources. For that reason, replacing Britain’s aging nuclear infrastructure with a new generation of safer and cheaper nuclear generators is a sensible step. That will not be popular in all quarters, even with many of those who are greatly concerned by climate change. What is important is that renewing Britain’s nuclear generators should be seen as a stop-gap measure. That is why replacing the current proportion of power generated by nuclear means, rather than increasing it further, is important. Over-emphasis on nuclear power could dangerously distort Britain’s energy market and crowd out funding and research into alternatives.
Guardian Editorial 12th July 2006

If the government got one thing right yesterday it was to present the energy review as something more than just a straight vote for nuclear power. Many critics and supporters were left confused and frustrated by the details- or lack of them – on atomic power given by industry secretary Alistair Darling. Alan Duncan, for the Tories, accused Labour of producing not just a carbon-free strategy but a content-free one, while the Association of Electricity Producers, whose members would build any new plants, called for an end to the “frothy talk”. But others saw the signals they wanted or suspected. The Washington Group, a nuclear project management company, welcomed a commitment to atomic power while London’s mayor, Ken Livingstone, condemned it as a “colossal mistake”.
Guardian 12th July 2006

The Daily Star says – we prefer the Cameron way with green fuels. With nuclear power there is always a danger of another Chernobyl.
Daily Star 12th July 2006

Posted: 12 July 2006

11 July 2006

New nukes

On Tuesday, Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks is expected to make public Britain’s intention to invite the private sector to build a series of new nuclear power plants. One likely way forward, therefore, would be for investors to join together in a consortium that jointly decides on building a fleet of identical power plants – rather than each investor choosing different, competing reactor designs.
BBC 10th July 2006

A NEW generation of nuclear power stations, designed to make Britain less dependent on imported gas, will move an important step forward today with the release of the Government’s long-awaited Energy Review. The review, to be presented by Alistair Darling, the Trade and Industry Secretary, will conclude that nuclear power will be part of the future British generating mix.
Times 11th July 2006
Telegraph 11th July 2006
ITV News 11th July 2006
Sky News 11th July 2006
Scotsman 11th July 2006

Twenty years after an explosion blew the roof off a reactor at Ukraine’s Chernobyl power plant and took an industry’s reputation with it, nuclear power – in the words of Tony Blair – is “back on the agenda with a vengeance”. Following a six-month review of energy needs, the prime minister is today due to sanction massive and contentious private investment in a new generation of nuclear reactors, the first to be built since the 1980s.
FT 11th July 2006

George Monbiot says: Sure, nuclear power is safer than in the past – but we still don’t need it. It’s true that another Chernobyl couldn’t happen in a new reactor, but the case against is as strong as ever.
Guardian 11th July 2006

Tony Blair wants the first in a new generation of nuclear power stations to be fired up in 2016. The target, considerably earlier than has been expected, underlines how important Downing Street believes the nuclear element is in its drive to meet the twin needs of increasing energy supplies while cutting carbon emissions by 60pc by 2050.
Telegraph 11th July 2006

The decision – unthinkable as recently as three years ago – may change the terms of the debate internationally, as all industrialised countries grapple with the need to meet rising energy demand in an uncertain world.
FT 11th July 2006

Those involved in a huge lobbying campaign for a new generation of nuclear power stations will declare victory today when the government’s energy review finally gives the plants the green light. Among those celebrating will be industry leaders, including the chancellor of the exchequer’s brother. Andrew Brown is head of media relations at EDF Energy, which operates 58 atomic reactors in France and has been pressing the British government to renew its fleet of power stations here.
Guardian 11th July 2006

Labour and the nuclear lobby.
Spinwatch 10th July 2006

The Commons Trade and Industry Select Committee should perhaps have waited to see the contents of today’s Energy Review – well leaked though it has been – before condemning the Government for being too swift to back the case for a new generation of nuclear power stations. Yet on one point, the MPs are undoubtedly right. The Energy Review might give the go-ahead for a new programme of nukes, but without explaining how they are to be financed – an issue unlikely to be addressed – the pledge is not worth a fig.
Independent 11th July 2006

Tony Blair must not give “preferential treatment” to nuclear power when the Government unveils its long-awaited energy review this week, a committee of MPs says today. In a hard-hitting report, the Labour-dominated committee warns the Prime Minister not to rush into hasty decisions on nuclear power which will end up shaping Britain’s energy policies for decades to come.
Telegraph 11th July 2006

What will not be spelt out, according to some experts, will be the way that the lion’s share of government assistance to the energy sector will go towards building a new nuclear fleet of as many as 10 reactors. Bridget Woodman of Warwick Business School said: “We will be moving towards a very large scale, centralised electricity generating system which could be set in stone for the next 50 years. There will be twiddly little bits of renewable development – but it will never be a mainstream option. It could be a pretty bleak day for renewables.”
Guardian 10th July 2006

Six new nuclear power stations and a fivefold increase in electricity from wind, solar and tidal sources will be key planks of an Energy Review unveiled by the Government tomorrow.
Daily Mail 10th July 2006

Northern Ireland

Nuclear power stations will not be built in Northern Ireland, Secretary of State Peter Hain has said.
BBC 11th July 2006

Wales

The assembly government is braced for an announcement which could see new nuclear power stations built in Wales.
BBC 11th July 2006

Scotland

An energy review published by the SNP has found that Scotland produces six times more energy than it uses. It also highlighted research which found Scotland has one of the best climates in Europe for using solar heat in buildings. However, the review said there should be a cap on onshore wind farms, although added that there was a “big future” for offshore wind farms.
BBC 10th July 2006

UNCERTAINTY about the Scottish Executive’s policy on nuclear power could deter international energy giants from investing in new nuclear plants in Scotland, an industry leader has warned. Keith Parker, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said that Scotland could lose out on millions of pounds of investment creating thousands of well-paid jobs because Scottish ministers have not matched moves by the UK government.
Scotsman 10th July 2006

Russia

The US is expected to make significant concessions to Russia over the storage of nuclear fuel in order to win backing for foreign policy, reports say. According to newspapers including the Washington Post, the US is keen to get Russia’s support as it tackles concerns including Iran and North Korea. As well as lifting a ban on storing spent nuclear fuel, the US was also offering to back Russia’s membership of the World Trade Organisation and give Russian companies freer access to US markets.
BBC 10th July 2006

Iran

Iran’s top nuclear negotiator and the EU’s foreign policy chief are meeting to try to defuse a row over Tehran’s contested nuclear plans.
BBC 11th July 2006

AGRs

Letter: It is hardly surprising that cracks have been found in the graphite rods in one of Scotland’s nuclear reactors. There have been doubts about the safety of these graphite rods for many years. So it seems that the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, was wrong, yet again, when he decided that the United Kingdom should renew nuclear power stations.
Scotsman 11th July 2006

Tidal Energy

A ten-mile barrage across the Bristol Channel could become reality in just over a decade under long awaited Government plans to power Britain for the future. Tomorrow the Government is set to announce plans for a new generation of nuclear plants to plug a predicted energy gap facing the country.
Western Daily Press 10th July 2006

Waste Transport

TRAINS carrying nuclear waste through Stratford are “hugely vulnerable” to a terrorist attack, according to environmental pressure group Greenpeace. In a letter to West Ham MP Lyn Brown, the organisation cited a recent study by nuclear expert John Large, which said that the security on such trains was “minimal”.
Bucks Free Press 10th July 2006

Waste

An officer at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has suggested (as a joke, says the NDA) that employees should be fined £5 if they are caught referring to Cumbria’s low-level waste repository as “Drigg”. For some reason, people in the nearby village of Drigg are upset by the idea that the name should be applied to the repository. You’d think they’d want to be rid of it.
Telegraph 11th July 2006

Radiation & Health

The debate about what caused childhood cancers around Sellafield has ignited again.
Telegraph 11th July 2006

Posted: 11 July 2006

10 July 2006

Energy Review

The government will this week unveil plans for a five-fold increase in energy generation from wind, solar, tidal and agricultural sources as a key measure in its long-awaited energy review. Proposals to raise the level of electricity produced by these sources from 4 per cent to 20 per cent of the UK’s needs, along with moves to prioritise support towards promising technologies that are currently uneconomic such as offshore wind farms, will be outlined in the document, to be published on Tuesday. The boost will be emphasised by ministers to head off criticisms of the government’s backing for nuclear power, which forms a key part of the strategy. In the 120-page document, the final draft of which has been seen by The Observer, the government concludes that nuclear power is now economically viable and that it should play a role in the UK’s future need for sources of carbon-free and secure energy. The government is concerned that without nuclear, the UK will become dependent on gas, moving from 38 per cent of today’s supply to 55 per cent by 2020, with up to 90 per cent of this imported – largely from potentially unstable regions such as the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa and Russia. Three years ago it drew the opposite conclusion in its last Energy White Paper. The review says that the closure of nuclear and coal plants over the coming decade will mean 25 gigawatts of carbon-free, secure capacity must be built by 2020 – some 30 per cent of today’s total capacity.
Observer 9th July 2006
BBC 9th July 2006

Six new nuclear power plants will form a key part of the energy review.
Daily Mail 10th July 2006

Posted: 10 July 2006

9 July 2006

New nukes

FRANCE’s EDF, Germany’s Eon and British Energy are considering teaming up to bid for multi-billion-pound contracts to build the UK’s next generation of nuclear power stations. The government has indicated that it will approve nuclear new build when it releases the outcome of its long-awaited energy review, expected this Tuesday.
Sunday Times 9th July 2006

FRENCH nuclear giant Areva plans to push for a UK permit for its next-generation European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) design as soon as the government’s Energy Review comes out in support of new nuclear power stations this week. Areva and other nuclear companies have long demanded to be able to licence reactor designs before their customers decide to build a new station at a particular location – known as “pre-licensing”. A source close to the company told The Business: “Should the Energy Review open the pathway to nuclear power, pre-licensing will be the next step. We and other vendors would definitely look at pre-licencing.”
The Business 9th July 2006

A major review of Britain’s future energy supplies has been a sham designed only to push through Tony Blair’s dream of a new generation of nuclear power stations, a former leading government adviser claims today. Stephen Hale, who until a few weeks ago was special adviser to the then Environment Secretary, Margaret Beckett, writes in The Observer that the Prime Minister ‘refused to consider the alternatives’ to nuclear energy. ‘The depressing truth is that the review was undertaken primarily to act as a springboard to formally initiate the government’s nuclear position,’ says Hale, who is now director of the Green Alliance think-tank.
Observer 9th July 2006

The Energy Review will back the PM’s push for atomic energy, but, says Stephen Hale, it won’t deal with the challenge of global climate change
Observer 9th July 2006

Tony Blair’s energy review has pulled off a remarkable feat: it has abolished history. Don’t take our word for it, read what Dr Colin Mitchell, a manager of nuclear policy at the Department of Trade and Industry in London, wrote last month when he turned down a request for information on the review. The only way for Blair to gove new reactors the go-ahead this without flinching is to ignore the history of nuclear power over the last 50 years. Because if he remembered the mountains of radioactive waste, the companies that have gone to the wall and the billions of pounds wasted, he would choose another way.
Sunday Herald 9th July 2006
RobEdwards.com

AS the use of nuclear power expands, it will become increasingly ineffective at combating global warming, warns a report by an independent think tank published today. The Oxford Research Group argues that a worldwide shortage of high-grade uranium ore will force new nuclear reactors to exploit increasingly lower-grade ores for their fuel. Because that requires more energy to extract, the process will result in ever-greater amounts of climate-wrecking pollution.
Sunday Herald 9th July 2006
RobEdwards.com

The Prime Minister’s enthusiastic support for nuclear power will reopen a rift in the Labour Party from leftwing MPs fiercely opposed to any new nuclear plants. Opponents fear building more nuclear power stations in Britain will heighten the risk of a Chernobyl-style disaster. They claim decommissioning existing plants will cost taxpayers £70bn. The Health & Safety Executive said a new generation of nuclear reactors could receive approval in about half the six-and-a-half years it took to gain consent for Sizewell B in Suffolk, the last nuclear station to be opened in Britain in 1995.
Article for and Against by Bernard Ingham and Roger Higman
Sunday Mirror 9th July 2006

After 25 years in the political wilderness, nuclear power is back in favour. Tony Blair pressed the button for new nuclear stations in May in a speech to a City audience, so the outcome of this week’s energy review is unlikely to hold any big surprises. But there is one difference this time round. Blair will insist that nuclear pays its way, saying there will be no state handouts to cover the cost of decommissioning reactors and disposing of waste. This is a tall order. KPMG, the consultancy, estimates that the private sector would have to invest around £15bn in new build over the next 30 years to maintain the current share of electricity generated by nuclear power of 20 per cent.
Sunday Telegraph 9th July 2006

Whether Britain goes nuclear or not will not solve the power crisis we all face in the short-term. Even if all goes according to plan – and it probably won’t – there will be no nuclear stations on line before 2016. In the meantime, we face a squeeze on power supplies. The last Magnox nuclear stations are due to be phased out in the next three to four years and, together with ever more onerous regulations to cut harmful carbon dioxide emissions, Britain will need a lot of new generation capacity; senior industry executives estimate that as much as 15 gigawatts – just under a fifth of all current generation – will be needed by 2015.
Sunday Telegraph 9th July 2006

G8

World leaders are planning a massive expansion of nuclear power in their own countries and across the developing world, according to documents drawn up for the G8 summit and leaked to the Sunday Herald. An action plan for “global energy security” to be agreed in St Petersburg next weekend envisages a network of nuclear fuel plants in G8 countries combined with the widespread sale of reactors to developing countries – as long as they promise not to use them for making nuclear bombs.
Sunday Herald 9th July 2006

Leaked G8 documents available to download.
RobEdwards.com

North Korea

Russia is facing criticism after secretly offering to sell North Korea technology that could help the rogue state to protect its nuclear stockpiles and safeguard weapons secrets from international scrutiny.
Sunday Telegraph 9th July 2006

A PROGRAMME of covert action against nuclear and missile traffic to North Korea and Iran is to be intensified after last week’s missile tests by the North Korean regime. Intelligence agencies, navies and air forces from at least 13 nations are quietly co-operating in a “secret war” against Pyongyang and Tehran.
Sunday Times 9th July 2006

Decommissioning

A delegation has come back from the United States excited at the prospect of creating a training centre for the nuclear industry in Bridgwater. An academy based on US expertise in dismantling nuclear power stations could bring millions of pounds of investment and training to the area.
Bridgwater Times 8th July 2006

Posted: 9 July 2006