Nuclear power stations would be forced to shut down if a new measures are not in place when Britain quits a European atomic power treaty in 2019, an expert has warned. Rupert Cowen, a senior nuclear energy lawyer at Prospect Law, told MPs on Tuesday that leaving the Euratom treaty as the government has promised could see trade in nuclear fuel grind to a halt. The UK government has said it will exit Euratom when article 50 is triggered. The treaty promotes cooperation and research into nuclear power, and uniform safety standards. “Unlike other arrangements, if we don’t get this right, business stops. There will be no trade. If we can’t arrive at safeguards and other principles that allow compliance [with international nuclear standards] to be demonstrated, no nuclear trade will be able to continue.” Asked by the chair of the Commons business, energy and industrial strategy select committee if that would see reactors switching off, he said: “Ultimately, when their fuels runs out, yes.” Cowen said that in his view there was no legal requirement for the UK to leave Euratom because of Brexit: “It’s a political issue, not a legal issue.”
Guardian 28th Feb 2017 read more »
Engineering & Technology 28th Feb 2017 read more »
UK trade minister Liam Fox today reassured the country’s international partners that it remains committed to its nuclear power program as it leaves the Euratom Treaty. The government announced last month the UK intends to leave the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) in explanatory notes to a bill it published authorising Brexit. The peaceful use of nuclear energy within the EU is governed by the 1957 Euratom Treaty. The Euratom Community is a separate legal entity from the EU, but it is governed by the bloc’s institutions. The Euratom framework includes nuclear cooperation agreements with third party countries, including Canada, Japan and the USA. It facilitates UK participation in long-term research and development projects, and it also provides a framework for international nuclear safeguard compliance. Opening the Civil Nuclear Showcase in London, an event organised by his Department for International Trade, Fox said, “Some have suggested that the referendum result was a vote for insularity or that the UK will somehow be abandoning our international commitments. Nothing could be further from the truth.
World Nuclear News 28th Feb 2017 read more »
There are “just weeks” to secure the future of a world-leading research facility on UK soil in the wake of the government’s decision to leave the European Atomic Energy Community as part of Brexit. The future of the JET experimental reactor has been in question since it was announced last month that the UK would be leaving Euratom, which funds and coordinates nuclear research, including the Oxfordshire facility.
Times Higher Education 27th Feb 2017 read more »
French energy firm EDF’s bland chief Vincent de Rivaz, who’s responsible for the construction of the £24billion Hinkley Point nuclear power plant, is keen to ingratiate himself with locals. He informed the British Chamber of Commerce yesterday that all bacon sandwiches consumed by the 1,200 builders working on the Somerset site come from locally-sourced pigs. Some are predicting pigs will fly before EDF makes its scheduled 2025 completion date.
Daily Mail 28th Feb 2017 read more »
A 25-tonne machine has been installed at Sellafield to tackle what is said to be one of the most challenging nuclear clean-up jobs. The £100 million Silo Emptying Plant will scoop radioactive waste from the Magnox Swarf Storage Silo. It will be packed into nuclear skips and sent to modern waste stores at Sellafield, pending final disposal in the UK’s Geological Disposal Facility. The 1960s storage facility, which contains 10,000 cubic metres of intermediate level waste, has been described as one of the most hazardous buildings in western Europe. The machine is the first of three being installed in the building and will be ready to start retrieving waste in 2018. It is estimated to take between 20-25 years to complete the task. Chris Halliwell, Head of the Magnox Swarf Storage Silo said: “This is probably the most complicated and advanced machine ever built at Sellafield.
Energy Live News 28th Feb 2017 read more »
Failed EPR and AP1000 reactor projects have brought giant energy companies to their knees, and even pro-nuclear lobbyists now acknowledge that the industry is in crisis. Jim Green, editor of the Nuclear Monitor newsletter, takes stock of the crisis in the global nuclear sector and concludes that the industry’s likely response, a retreat from post-Fukushima efforts to strengthen safety standards, risks making a bad situation worse.
Energy Collective 23rd Feb 2017 read more »
The man whose resignation triggered the Copeland by-election has wished his Conservative successor, Trudy Harrison, well in her new job. In a statement to the News & Star, Mr Reed, who quit Parliament to take on a new role at Sellafield, said: “I’d like to thank every Labour voter for turning out and I congratulate Trudy on her victory. I wish her the very best of luck. “Over the last 12 years, every Labour voter in Copeland has had a role to play in what we achieved: new nuclear policy and the Moorside project, the new West Cumberland Hospital, the University of Cumbria, the Uclan medical school, Westlakes School, the impending Whitehaven education campus, Energus, the Construction & Skills Centre, Nuclear College and the UTC, the National Nuclear Lab, Cleator Moor Health Centre, 30,000 new dentistry places, Albion Square in Whitehaven, the Dalton Cumbria facility at Westlakes Science Park, flood defences in Keswick and much more. “Thanks to the support of Labour voters and the hard work of Labour councillors, we have set west Cumbria on a course of unparalleled success and opportunity. “Our best days really are ahead of us – although it may not seem like that at the time.
Whitehaven News 27th Feb 2017 read more »
Letter Lord Hollick, House of Lords: Further to Nick Butler’s blog “The price of power: how to renew a broken policy” (February 27): the challenge for those designing energy policy is to satisfy three objectives – security of supply, affordability and the reduction of carbon emissions. The report published last week by the House of Lords Economics Affairs Committee concludes that current policy is not addressing all three of these aims adequately. Reducing emissions has been given a legally enforced priority with little regard to costs. We do not believe the lights are about to go out, but the margin of safety is thin, and the mechanisms devised to ensure security of supply carry even more costs which will in the end be reflected in the bills of consumers, including UK-based businesses. The financial and technical risks associated with new nuclear, which the Financial Times has reported regularly over recent months, could add still further costs. The government has gone beyond the role of setting direction for the energy sector to intervening in every detail. The balance between the public and private sectors has been distorted – discouraging private investment just when it is most needed. Transparency has been sacrificed – we still do not know all the details of the Hinkley Point deal – and competition between different electricity generators, which should be the means of keeping costs down, has been minimised. More money needs to be devoted to research and its application. Our report advocates the creation of a national laboratory dedicated to the development of new low cost, low carbon sources of supply. Less money needs to be spent on subsidies. Open competition would bring down costs and increase transparency. It should be possible to ensure consumers pay less for their electricity without sacrificing any of the objectives.
FT 1st March 2017 read more »
Letter Hugh McNeal Renewables UK: Nick Butler is wrong to suggest that the UK government’s energy strategy has failed. During this decade, under three Conservative or Conservative-led governments, renewable energy has moved from being a marginal source of power to a point where it now provides 25 per cent of the UK’s electricity. Wind capacity alone has expanded from 4GW in 2010 to more than 14.5GW today. Decarbonising energy is not an additional requirement – it is government strategy. This infrastructure transformation should be celebrated. Mr Butler is also incorrect to suggest that “ministers promoted specific technologies irrespective of cost”. The government set the offshore wind industry a target in 2012 to slash costs by a third before the end of this decade – the industry hit it i n 2016. Research taking place in the UK at institutions such as the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult in Blyth, is driving these reductions, undermining his assertion that “almost all the recent gains in solar and wind technology have come from the US and China”. The UK has more than 5,000MW of offshore wind capacity, whereas China has only 500MW and the US just 30MW. The suggestion that consumers will be “paying through the nose” for renewables is incorrect. Bloomberg New Energy Finance states that onshore wind is the cheapest way to generate electricity, bar none – including gas. As last week’s House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee report notes, the main cause of increases in electricity bills over the past 14 years is rising international fossil fuel prices. When it comes to keeping the lights on, Mr Butler says that “security of supply has been made more vulnerable” by the clumsy way renewables have been promoted. Last week the UK Energy Research Centre highlighted that costs were dramatically lower for flexible systems overall, with renewable energy playing a mainstream role. In the words of Steve Holliday, who ran National Grid for a decade, stories about blackout Britain are “just scare stories”. We could not agree more.
FT 1st March 2017 read more »
U.S. Department of Energy’s Mismanaged Plutonium Fuel (MOX) Project: Will the Doom or Gloom Scenario Play Out as the Downward Spiral Continues? Chronic Funding Problems and Construction Challenges have Determined the Project’s Fate.
SRS Watch 28th Feb 2017 read more »
Savannah River Site Watch has obtained and released the scathing National Nuclear Security Administration’s Fiscal Year 2016 assessment of the performance of the contractor in constructing the mismanaged plutonium fuel (MOX) construction project at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina. The highly critical assessment by the U.S. Department of Energy’s s NNSA rates the construction performance of CB&I AREVA MOX Services as “unsatisfactory.” This devastating rating and the justification for it merits the termination of the project-management contract, according to SRS Watch, a non-profit public interest oversight organization based in Columbia, South Carolina and near to SRS.
SRS Watch 28th Feb 2017 read more »
Global Nuclear Power Database.
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 28th Feb 2017 read more »
Argyll and Bute Council was under fire yesterday after featuring a nuclear submarine on the front cover of a brochure to attract visitors to the region.
Press & Journal 1st March 2017 read more »
Herald 1st March 2017 read more »
France – radwaste
Radioactive waste storage project in Bure frozen by the courts. The Administrative Court annulled the transfer to the National Agency for the Management of Radioactive Waste of a forest under which nuclear waste must be buried.
Le Monde 28th Feb 2017 read more »
Renewables – tidal
Tidal lagoons with large volumes of water will make electricity cheaper than nuclear power and offshore wind. That’s according to Mark Shorrock, Chief Executive Officer of Tidal Lagoon Power Limited, the company behind the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon pathfinder project. Speaking to ELN at RenewableUK’s Wave and Tidal 2017 conference last week, Mr Shorrock explained how the project would actually work and what it would be capable of. He said: “The tidal lagoon is a 320MW power station, it’s a U-shaped breakwater, nine kilometres of breakwater, built out into the sea and at its deepest point we have a large concrete turbine house encompassing 16 turbines. “To give you a sense of the volumes of water, that’s five Olympic swimming pools of water per second coming through the turbines and will provide enough electricity for 155,000 homes for the next 120 years.”
Energy Live News 28th Feb 2017 read more »
The UK Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association has secured a dedicated inquiry into the role of hydrogen and fuel cells in a holistic energy system, by the Science and Technology Committee of the UK Parliament. The Science and Technology Committee – comprising Members of Parliament from the various parties – recently received more than 70 ideas for new inquiries through its ‘My Science Inquiry’ Open Call, and selected nine for further consideration. These nine participated in a Dragons’ Den style pitch process on 1 February, from which ‘the role for hydrogen and fuel cells in a holistic energy system’ was selected as the subject of an Inquiry to be launched later this year. ‘We have been campaigning on the importance of hydrogen and fuel cells as innovative cross-sector solutions with a range of stakeholders, and are delighted that the role of hydrogen and fuel cells in a holistic energy system has been selected amongst numerous proposals for an Inquiry,’ says Amanda Lyn.
Renewable Energy Focus 28th Feb 2017 read more »
Thousands of old, stone-walled homes could end up rotting under government plans to make them more energy efficient, landlords have warned. The Countryside Landowners Association said cladding homes in concrete to insulate them would have an effect “like a lettuce trapped in a plastic bag”. Under new rules, every rental property in England will have to qualify for an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of grade E or above, if it is let after April 2018. Unlike modern homes, which have wall cavities which can be insulated, older homes have solid walls. Matthew O’Connell, from the CLA, said: “As soon as you cover a stone wall with cement render or impenetrable material you will get damp, mould and condensation. If there is timber it will rot. The walls will become sodden.” The CLA said the government system for measuring efficiency was “failing to accurately reflect the energy efficiency of traditionally built homes”. A separate report by the Green Building Council said 25 million homes – one a minute – will need insulating by 2050 if the government is to meet its carbon reduction commitments.
Times 1st March 2017 read more »
An overhaul of the EU’s flagship trading scheme for cutting carbon emissions by European industries has been approved by the member states. The agreement to reform the emissions trading system comes after almost two years’ of discussions but just two weeks after the European parliament voted in favour of a new directive. The acceleration in the EU’s efforts to toughen up the carbon reduction regime illustrates widespread acknowledgement of the need to plug loopholes in current legislation. The emissions trading system (ETS) is the EU’s key policy for combating climate change by reducing emissions from more than 11,000 installations in the power sector and energy intensive industries. The policy involves a market-based cap and trade system which forces companies to buy allowances to emit carbon. There have been widespread concerns that emissions were not being sufficiently capped due to an oversupply of “allowances” on the carbon market. ETS was introduced 12 years ago and initially worked well but prices plummeted after 2008 following the economic downturn. Under the proposed directive – now due for deliberation by the European parliament – the number of allowances can be gradually reduced, to push up their cost and provide an incentive for industries to adopt cleaner technologies. The cap on emissions will fall by 2.2% a year – the so-called linear reduction factor – until at least 2024. Environmental campaigners claim that the reformed ETS does still not do enough. A proposal to remove the rights of big polluters, such as the cement industry, from receiving free carbon credits, was not passed by the European parliament in February, frustrating many.
Guardian 28th Feb 2017 read more »