Britain will not be hit by 1970s-style industrial blackouts, Michael Fallon, the energy minister, insisted on Sunday. The Conservative minister admitted there was a risk of power shortages in the UK within three years, but insisted the Government would not let that happen. The news comes after the power industry regulator Ofgem warned last week that the chances of Britain experiencing a blackout had risen sharply and that industrial users could be asked to shut down factories at peak times. Mr Fallon told BBC1’s Sunday Politics: “I don’t agree there is a real risk. There is a risk, of course. There is going to be less reserve capacity in three years’ time but we have got time to deal with that, and we have got plans to deal with that.” Asked what chance there was of Britain being hit by blackouts, he replied: “Oh, low. We are going to make sure they don’t happen, I can absolutely tell you. “We are not going to have industrial blackouts, factories shut at lunchtime and people sent home or anything like that.”
Telegraph 30th June 2013 read more »
Andrew Neil and Anita Anand with the latest political news, interviews and debate, including the latest on fears of power blackouts with energy minister Michael Fallon.
BBC 30th June 2013 read more »
Utilities will be paid to bring mothballed power stations back into commission under government plans to bridge a looming power supply gap, according to Ed Davey, energy secretary. Mr Davey dismissed suggestions that Britain could face 1970s-style blackouts, after energy regulator Ofgem warned that the risk of power cuts was increasing and a proposal from National Grid that factories and shops could be paid to cut their energy usage on winter workdays. The minister insisted that reforms outlined in the coalition’s energy bill designed to unlock billions of investment in new low-carbon generating capacity would remove the risk of supply shortfalls. Utilities have taken their gas-fired power stations offline because of the low “spark spread” – the difference between the cost of gas and the price of electricity generated from it. They would need big financial incentives to fire them up again when the economics remain so poor.
FT 30th June 2013 read more »
Tim Montgomerie: Britain is crying out for construction of new homes for first-time buyers, investment in power plants to keep the lights on and the development of high-speed broadband to ensure that we can compete with the rest of the world in digital commerce. Alternatively there’s fracking, GM crops, peaceful use of drones, 3D printing, thorium-based nuclear power, driverless cars, graphene, superlife batteries, MOOC-based (massive open online course ) learning and personalised medicine if our politicians really want to be forward-looking, without placing all of their eggs in the expensive and very likely out-of-date HS2 basket.
Times 1st Juy 2013 read more »
Large &Associates, Independent Nuclear Consulting Engineers, have just completed theiryear-long Review of the above GDA. Their conclusions make worrying reading, since the ONR have already given the go-ahead for the design, despite the fact that many of the ‘closed-out’ safety issues have not been settled, but deferred for Iater resolution at various times during construction.
Shutdown Sizewell 28th June 2013 read more »
The Links Between Nuclear Power, Nuclear Waste, Plutonium and the Spread of the Bomb by Jim Harding and Walter C Patterson, 1985. Now available.
Walt Patterson (accessed) 1st July 2013 read more »
Nuclear and radioactive materials are still going missing and the information that the United Nations atomic agency receives about such incidents may only be the tip of the iceberg, said a senior UN official. Any loss or theft of highly enriched uranium, plutonium or different types of radioactive sources is potentially serious as al Qaeda-style militants could try to use them to make a crude nuclear device or a so-called dirty bomb, experts say. Khammar Mrabit, a director of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said there had been progress in recent years to prevent that from happening. But he said more still needed to be done to enhance nuclear security.
International Herald Tribune 28th June 2013 read more »
Reuters 28th June 2013 read more »
Last Thursday was an historic day for the Nation. Congress took the first step in adopting a rational and achievable nuclear waste disposal plan that would reverse the catatonic state of our existing nuclear program. The Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2013 creates a new and independent Nuclear Waste Administration to manage nuclear waste, construct an interim storage facility(s) and site a permanent waste repository through a consent-based process. All of this will be funded by on-going fees collected from nuclear power ratepayers (the Nuclear Waste Fund).
Forbes 30th June 2013 read more »
It doesn’t appear Japan’s troubled plutonium-thermal (pluthermal) power generation program is going to see the light at the end of the tunnel anytime soon. The utilities are being forced to continue using the pluthermal process because it constitutes a key component of Japan’s nuclear fuel recycling program. Past problems have delayed the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel, and some utilities face the possibility of having to halt their nuclear plant operations, even if they are allowed to restart idled reactors, because they simply have no place to store the spent fuel. In addition, the utilities have poured trillions of yen into the nuclear fuel recycling program with little to show for it. The problem of where to store spent nuclear fuel has major ramifications for not only the electric power companies.
Asahi Shimbun 28th June 2013 read more »
About 100 protesters shouted anti-nuclear slogans as the first shipment of mixed-oxide fuel since the meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant arrived in Japan on June 27.The 7,000-ton Pacific Egret, escorted by 10 or so coast guard and police vessels, appeared through the mist in Uchiura Bay in front of Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture at 6:30 a.m. The British-registered ship, carrying mixed-oxide fuel processed in France, docked at a port on the plant premises at 7 a.m. The fuel was in a 6.2-meter-long metal container that weighed 100 tons.
Asahi Shimbun 27th June 2013 read more »
The dash for gas is being outrun by the race for renewables. According to the latest projections from the International Energy Agency, by 2016 global electricity generation from wind, solar, hydro and other forms of renewable power will exceed that from natural gas – and should be double that provided by nuclear plants. This surge is being driven in large part by emerging economies. China is leading the way, accounting for 40 per cent of the projected global growth in renewables between 2012 and 2018, the IEA – a Paris-based body with 28 member countries – notes. So are we on track to transition from coal to a low-carbon future based around renewables, with natural gas as a temporary “bridge fuel”? Not yet, say energy analysts: major changes in policy are still needed if the world is to avoid tipping over the 2 °C threshold that climatologists say constitutes “dangerous” global warming.
New Scientist 27th June 2013 read more »
Many millions of pounds are being invested in seaweed research from Vietnam to Israel to Chile because producing biofuels in the sea removes at a stroke many of the serious problems with conventional biofuels. Though important as greener alternatives to oil, many biofuels are produced from food crops, such as corn and sugar, which drives up global prices in a world where a billion people are already hungry. Biofuel production also consumes increasingly scarce freshwater and the worst examples – those from palm oil – can produce more carbon dioxide than diesel.
Guardian 1st July 2013 read more »
Fracking facts: Ten things you need to know about shale gas.
Campaign Against Climate Change 29th June 2013 read more »
The fossil fuel industry is killing us. They have five times the amount of coal, gas and oil that is safe to burn — and they are planning on burning it all. Left to their own devices, they’ll push us past the brink of cataclysmic disaster — life as we know it will be irrevocably altered forever. Unless we rise up and fight back. Do The Math chronicles follows the climate crusader Bill McKibben as he works with a rising global movement in a David-vs-Goliath fight to change the terrifying math of the climate crisis.
350.org (accessed) 1st July 2013 read more »
Amid all the excitement following last week’s news that trapped gas in UK shale formations were double previous expectations, some sobering news from America was lost. A report by the Harvard University-based Kennedy School of Government said that development of shale gas reserves outside the US was “improbable” at the moment. Forget a quick shale gas revolution here– we don’t have the technology.
Telegraph 30th June 2013 read more »
Nick Butler: The problem for the Government is not the noisy opposition to shale gas but the fact that development on any serious scale will undermine the logic, if that is the right word, of the jumbled mess which currently passes for an energy policy. Regardless of the relative prices of production, once the Government has signed contracts which guarantee a return to investors in nuclear and renewables such as offshore wind there will be more than enough capacity to supply projected electricity demand growth. In part this policy is driven by legal commitments on emissions reductions which take no account of the costs involved. So shale gas even if it is materially cheaper could go unproduced while consumers pay prices which make the UK an uncompetitive location for industries for which energy costs matter.
FT 30th June 2013 read more »
The price of oil could halve within the next decade because of a shale revolution, according to industry experts. John Llewellyn, the former head of international forecasting at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, said that most oil price forecasts underestimated radically the impact of new extraction techniques for shale oil and gas on supply. Official estimates last week revealed that Britain was sitting on enough shale gas to power the country for 43 years, although it remains years from extraction. Cheap gas helps to lower the oil price and many shale rocks also contain oil.
Times 1st July 2013 read more »
Climate change poses as grave a threat to the UK’s security and economic resilience as terrorism and cyber-attacks, according to a senior military commander who was appointed as William Hague’s climate envoy this year. In his first interview since taking up the post, Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti said climate change was “one of the greatest risks we face in the 21st century”, particularly because it presented a global threat. “By virtue of our interdependencies around the world, it will affect all of us,” he said. He argued that climate change was a potent threat multiplier at choke points in the global trade network, such as the Straits of Hormuz, through which much of the world’s traded oil and gas is shipped.
Guardian 30th June 2013 read more »