News

China

A new nuclear safety law in China is ready to be passed, state media said on Monday, adding that the legislation will help prevent and deal with accidents and promote development of the industry. Safety in China’s nuclear industry has become increasingly important as it seeks to increase exports of its nuclear technologies. China has already signed agreements to build reactors in Argentina, Romania, Egypt and Kenya. It plans to build more than 60 nuclear plants at home in the coming decade and will see total domestic capacity rise to 58 gigawatts by the end of 2020. The new law is needed to better ensure nuclear safety, prevent and deal with nuclear accidents, protect people’s health and the environment and promote the industry’s development, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing parliament’s standing committee.

Reuters 28th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 29 August 2017

US

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is keeping an eye on Hurricane Harvey and its effect on the South Texas Project nuclear power plant in Bay City, Texas.

Energy Voice 28th Aug 2017 read more »

During his speech last week about Afghanistan, President Donald Trump slipped in a line that had little to do with fighting the Taliban: “Vast amounts” are being spent on “our nuclear arsenal and missile defense,” he said, as the administration builds up the military. The president is doing exactly that. Last week, the Air Force announced major new contracts for an overhaul of the U.S. nuclear force: $1.8 billion for initial development of a highly stealthy nuclear cruise missile, and nearly $700 million to begin replacing the 40-year-old Minuteman missiles in silos across the United States. While both programs were developed during the Obama years, the Trump administration has seized on them, with only passing nods to the debate about whether either is necessary or wise. They are the first steps in a broader remaking of the nuclear arsenal — and the bombers, submarines and missiles that deliver the weapons — that the government estimated during President Barack Obama’s tenure would ultimately cost $1 trillion or more.

Star Tribune 27th Aug 2017 read more »

New York Times 28th Aug 2017 read more »

The US Energy Information Administration last week published its latest ‘Electric Power Monthly’ which reveals US renewable energy is locked in a virtual dead-heat with US nuclear energy, each providing roughly 20% of the country’s electrical generation. However, according to experts looking at recent figures, it’s predicted that nuclear will soon see its percentage share decrease, while renewables are only expected to continue to increase their percentage share of electrical generation.

Clean Technica 28th Aug 2017 read more »

Bill McKibben: The call for the rapid conversion of energy systems around the country to 100 percent renewable power—a call for running the United States (and the world) on sun, wind and water. What Medicare for All is to the healthcare debate, or Fight for $15 is to the battle against inequality, 100% Renewable is to the struggle for the planet’s future. It’s how progressives will think about energy going forward—and though it started in northern Europe and Northern California, it’s a call that’s gaining traction outside the obvious green enclaves. In the last few months, cities as diverse as Atlanta and Salt Lake have taken the pledge. No more half-measures. Barack Obama drove environmentalists crazy with his “all-of-the-above” energy policy, which treated sun and wind as two items on a menu that included coal, gas and oil. That is not good enough. Many scientists tell us that within a decade, at current rates, we’ll likely have put enough carbon in the atmosphere to warm the Earth past the Paris climate targets. Renewables—even the most rapid transition—won’t stop climate change, but getting off fossil fuel now might (there are no longer any guarantees) keep us from the level of damage that would shake civilization.

In These Times (accessed) 28th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 29 August 2017

Renewables – offshore wind

A giant offshore wind farm would generate more than £1.1 billion of spending in Scotland and support thousands of jobs, according to a new independent report. Neart na Gaoithe (NNG) has been the subject of a number of legal challenges from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The charity has argued that the project and three others that have been mooted for the east coast of Scotland could result in a “major decline in seabird populations”. Research published today by the Fraser of Allander Institute at Strathclyde University said that about £2 billion will be needed to build the wind farm, with £510 million of that being spent in Scotland. A further £1.7 billion is to be used to run the wind farm for 25 years, about £610 million of the sum being spent with Scottish companies. The institute estimates that the impact of the wind farm over its building and operations phase would be equivalent to £827.4 million of gross domestic product: the equivalent of about 0.6 per cent of Scottish onshore GDP for 2016. On jobs, 2,000 people would be employed directly or indirectly over a four-year construction period.

Times 29th Aug 2017 read more »

Scotsman 28th Aug 2017 read more »

The National 29th Aug 2017 read more »

Herald 29th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 29 August 2017

Fossil Fuels

Anti-fracking protesters will make a last-ditch effort to prevent Cuadrilla fracking in Lancashire when they bring a legal challenge to the Court of Appeal this week. The case, to be heard tomorrow and Thursday, seeks to overturn planning consent that was granted by Sajid Javid, the communities secretary, last October. Lancashire council had rejected the plans in 2015 but Mr Javid approved them after a public inquiry. Campaigners tried unsuccessfully to challenge the decision through a judicial review, which was heard in March and dismissed by a High Court judge in April, but were given the right to appeal. Cuadrilla began drilling at its Preston New Road site this month and says it expects to frack at the end of the year. It would be the first fracking in Britain since 2011. The company said that it “remains confident that the planning co nsent will not be overturned”. A spokeswoman for the Preston New Road Action Group said: “We trust the secretary of state’s decision to allow fracking will be found unsound, and Lancashire county council’s original decision will be reinstated.”

Times 29th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 29 August 2017

Climate

If you read or listen to almost any article about climate change, it’s likely the story refers in some way to the “2 degrees Celsius limit.” The story often mentions greatly increased risks if the climate exceeds 2°C and even “catastrophic” impacts to our world if we warm more than the target. Recently a series of scientific papers have come out and stated that we have a 5 percent chance of limiting warming to 2°C, and only one chance in a hundred of keeping man-made global warming to 1.5°C, the aspirational goal of the 2015 Paris United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference. Additionally, recent research shows that we may have already locked in 1.5°C of warming even if we magically reduced our carbon footprint to zero today.

The Conversation 23rd Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 29 August 2017

Nuclear Transport

ANTI-NUCLEAR campaigners are holding a meeting this week to highlight the issue of planes landing at RAF Lossiemouth carrying radioactive material. Three flights loaded with highly enriched uranium, which can be used on a nuclear warhead, have already touched down in Moray. And campaigners anticipate that another dozen planes belonging to the American military will also use RAF Lossiemouth over the coming months. The uranium has been stored for several years at the former Dounreay nuclear plant on the north coast of Scotland. One of the speakers at Tuesday’s meeting will be Tor Justad, chairman of Highlands Against Nuclear Transport, who has monitored the goings on at Dounreay for the past four decades. He said: “Any movement of nuclear material is creating a completely unnecessary risk.

Northern Scot 27th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 28 August 2017

Generation IV Reactors

James Hansen’s Generation IV nuclear fallacies and fantasies. The two young co-founders of nuclear engineering start-up Transatomic Power were embarrassed earlier this year when their claims about their molten salt reactor design were debunked, forcing some major retractions. The claims of MIT nuclear engineering graduates Leslie Dewan and Mark Massie were trumpeted in MIT’s Technology Review under the headline, ‘What if we could build a nuclear reactor that costs half as much, consumes nuclear waste, and will never melt down?’ MIT physics professor Kord Smith debunked a number of Transatomic’s key claims. Smith says he asked Transatomic to run a test which, he says, confirmed that “their claims were completely untrue.” Kennedy Maize wrote about Transatomic’s troubles in Power Magazine: “[T]his was another case of technology hubris, an all-to-common malady in energy, where hyperbolic claims are frequent and technology journalists all too credulous. Hansen states that 115 new reactor start-ups would be required each year to 2050 to replace fossil fuel electricity generation ‒ a total of about 4,000 reactors. Let’s assume that Generation IV reactors do the heavy lifting, and let’s generously assume that mass production of Generation IV reactors begins in 2030. That would necessitate about 200 reactor start-ups per year from 2030 to 2050 ‒ or four every week. Good luck with that. Moreover, the assumption that mass production of Generation IV reactors might begin in or around 2030 is unrealistic. A report by a French government authority, the Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety, states: “There is still much R&D to be done to develop the Generation IV nuclear reactors, as well as for the fuel cycle and the associated waste management which depends on the system chosen.” Hansen says Generation IV reactors can be made “more resistant to weapons proliferation than today’s reactors” and he claims that “modern nuclear technology can reduce proliferation risks”. But are new reactors being made more resistant to weapons proliferation and are they reducing proliferation risks? In a word: No. Hansen claims that “modern nuclear technology can … solve the waste disposal problem by burning current waste and using fuel more efficiently” and he states that nuclear waste “is not waste, it is fuel for 4th generation reactors!” But even if IFRs ‒ Hansen’s favoured Generation IV concept ‒ worked as hoped, they would still leave residual actinides, and long-lived fission products, and long-lived intermediate-level waste in the form of reactor and reprocessing components … all of it requiring deep geological disposal. UC Berkeley nuclear engineer Prof. Per Peterson states: “Even integral fast reactors (IFRs), which recycle most of their waste, leave behind materials that have been contaminated by transuranic elements and so cannot avoid the need to develop deep geologic disposal.”

Renew Economy 28th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 28 August 2017

Brexit

Leaving Europe’s nuclear regulator after Brexit could have a damaging impact on Britain’s energy sector, a survey of specialists has found. Nearly half of nuclear engineers (47%) believe leaving the EU will have a harmful impact on the UK energy industry, while 82% called on the Government to stay in Euratom, which manages radioactive material in the EU, according to a survey of 1,570 experts working in the sector. Some 86% of respondents said staying in other European energy agreements should be a top priority for ministers.

Energy Voice 28th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 28 August 2017

Nuclear Power

The Atom: A Love Affair. It tells the story of the tempestuous relationship between the general public and civil nuclear power, from the passionate enthusiasm of the 1950s to the deep disillusion of today. Directed by Vicki Lesley, the film interviews many of those involved, including me, and incorporates a remarkable collection of vintage clips and other media.

Atom: A Love Affair 25th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 28 August 2017

Energy Markets

Letter: WITHIN the last year or so, the UK Government has ordered nuclear power stations from EDF, a wind farm for the southern North Sea from DONG Energy and a wind farm for the northern North Sea from Statoil. These three companies have the following features in common: They are not British. All are state owned and were state-created (EDF is French, DONG is Danish and Statoil is Norwegian). In their home countries they employ people and contribute to diversity in the economy, importantly, to a strengthened science base.

Herald 28th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 28 August 2017