News

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

South Korea

South Korea aims to expand the share of renewables and also natural gas in its fuel mix to gradually cut back its high dependence on coal and nuclear power over the 15 years to 2031, the energy ministry said on Thursday. The ministry’s new draft proposal – an adjustment to its power supply plan for 2017-2031 – reflects growing domestic calls for better air quality and more stringent nuclear safety. Despite efforts to boost renewables and natural gas, however, South Korea’s power generation mix will remain dominated by nuclear and thermal coal, which will still account for 60 percent of electricity in 2030, the plan showed.

Reuters 14th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 14 December 2017

Nuclear Weapons

I find it hard to understand why you did not find room on the 34 pages you devoted to news on Monday (Dec 10) to the ceremony in Oslo awarding the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), despite having reported the award when it was originally announced two months. In that report, you noted that the Nobel peace prize award [to ICAN) has “so far been shunned by Britain and the other atomic weapon powers.” Sadly, this continued at the ceremony itself, when the UK declined to send its Ambassador to Norway or its International disarmament ambassador, based in Geneva, to the ceremony, despite ICAN having a very active British chapter.

David Lowry’s Blog 11th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 14 December 2017

Energy Storage

An investment company has revealed plans to develop three pumped hydro storage companies in Scotland with an estimated total capacity of around 1,200MW. ILI pumped storage is looking for £3.4m of investment.

Utility Week 13th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 14 December 2017

Renewables – Solar

Last week, my 10:10 colleague Leo Murray co-authored a new report on solar-powered trains with Nathaniel Bottrell, an electrical engineer at Imperial College. It’s exciting stuff. We think solar could power 20% of the Merseyrail network in Liverpool, as well as 15% of commuter routes in Kent, Sussex and Wessex. There’s scope for solar trams in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Nottingham, London and Manchester too, and there’s no reason it should just be a British thing either. We’re especially excited about possibilities in San Francisco, Mexico City, India and Spain, but trains and trams all over the world could be running on sun in a few years time. Sign up for Lab notes – the Guardian’s weekly science update. It’s also a genuine world first. There are a few solar stations – Blackfriars Bridge being by far the coolest – and some trains in India even have solar panels on their roofs, but that’s just to power equipment like lights and fans. No one’s moving the trains themselves with solar. Yet. What’s especially interesting is how our new innovation came about – in particular the role community energy groups have played in its development (often despite policy support, not because of it, or in response to policy constraints). Looking ahead, there are also important questions to be asked about what role these community groups might play in its deployment. The idea came from a community solar group in Balcombe, West Sussex, formed in response to the first anti-fracking protests in the UK, in the summer of 2013. After the drillers, the activists, the press and various other hangers-on had left, the villagers were left with a question our current energy system lets most of us ignore: how should we power ourselves? They decided they wanted local, community-owned energy, and also that they wanted to go solar.

Guardian 14th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 14 December 2017