Michael Meacher: Without a word being said, British householders and businesses are about to be forced to pay for a French nuclear loser. The two German energy companies, RWE and E.ON, announced a month ago that they were withdrawing from building new nuclear power stations at Wylfa in Anglesey and Oldbury in Gloucestershire after the German government opted for early closure of its remaining reactors. The UK company Centrica, which has an option of 20% in any new build at Hinkley and Sizewell, has a weak balance sheet and is unlikely to proceed. That leaves two French nuclear power companies, EDF and Areva, who the Tory government want to build two new reactors at Hinkly Point in Somerset and two at Sizewell in Suffolk. But they will only do so if they are guaranteed a high enough price for the electricity generated and if the risks in building the reactors are transferred to British households and businesses. And those risks are huge. So that the French can build reactors of the wrong kind (the European Pressurised Reactor), which we dont need and cant afford (a capital cost of 4,750/kW), and which will hugely distort UK energy policy for the next 40 years, The Coalition is about to rig the market through its so-called Electricity Market Reform programme which is aimed to favour nuclear at the expense of every other alternative. It will absorb huge amounts of direct and indirect subsidy even though the government has repeatedly and solemnly intoned that there will be no public subsidy at all for the building of new nuclear. In fact there will be a triple subsidy a capacity payment, a carbon floor price, and a low carbon contract for difference.
Michael Meacher 30th April 2012 more >>
Open letter from Caroline Lucas to David Cameron: Measures which should have been in his speech include: A commitment that electricity market reform (EMR) legislation will be designed specifically to enable the development of various renewable energy technologies, rather than being written by and for the nuclear industry. Nuclear power has no place in a green energy future; We need a road map to demonstrate how the UK’s electricity sector will be virtually zero carbon by 2030, as recommended by the UK’s own independent advisers on the Committee on Climate Change, and required to meet existing climate targets; Reducing energy demand should be made a priority, both in the proposals for EMR and elsewhere across government policy making. Energy efficiency is the best way of keeping bills down, addressing fuel poverty and reducing the need for new energy supply of any kind, yet your speech yesterday was silent on the subject.
Guardian 30th April 2012 more >>
Today’s entry reports on a decision to accept changes to the Hinkley Point C application. In contrast to the refusal to allow changes to Covanta Energy’s proposed Brig y Cwm energy from waste project application last August, the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) has allowed changes to be made to EDF’s proposed Hinkley Point C (HPC) nuclear power station application. In a letter issued last week, Andrew Phillipson, the chair of the now five-person panel of what we must now call ‘Examining Inspectors’, has allowed the application to continue with changes sought at the preliminary meeting on 21 March and elaborated upon on 30 March. What are the changes, and why have they been allowed? The changes are described in Table 3 in this document, starting on page 7. There are six changes. The first is a new culvert to allow otters to cross the Cannington Bypass at Mill Stream (all together now: awww!). The other five changes are all to the designs of road accesses and junctions (one fewer than originally expected). Although three of these require changes to the flood risk assessment, they are all stated not to affect the conclusions of the environmental impact assessment.
Bircham Dyson Bell 30th April 2012 more >>
NFLA/Stop Hinkley submission warns that Somerset will get long-term highly radioactive waste store through undemocratic process. The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) organisation and the Stop Hinkley campaign have submitted a joint detailed response to the Planning Inspectorate over EDFs application to build two new nuclear reactors at the Hinkley Point site in Somerset.The response warns that, if the application succeeds, Somerset will host a highly radioactive waste store for over 100 years following a planning process that is fundamentally undemocratic.
NFLA 30th April 2012 more >>
French energy group EDF has reiterated its commitment to British nuclear power, which bodes well for civil engineering recruitment in the sector. Media reports last week stated that Centrica, EDF’s partner in the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear build in Somerset, was threatening to pull out of the project unless it received assurances over future government financial support for nuclear power. However, EDF’s chief executive Vincent de Rivaz has responded that his company is continuing to press ahead with its “strong and credible new nuclear project” and is still dedicated to plans to build the first new nuclear plants in the UK for two decades.
Career Structure 30th April 2012 more >>
Four decades in pictures.
BBC 28th April 2012 more >>
PROPOSALS have been launched for a unit to be built near the Sizewell B power plant for use in the event of nuclear fallout or disaster. Public consultation was opened in nearby Leiston last night for the planned construction of an emergency response centre, which EDF Energy revealed would house back-up plant equipment storage for the companys nuclear crisis arrangements. Members of the public gathered at Sizewell Sports and Social Club, in King Georges Avenue, to see plans and offer feedback on the proposal which would be sited on brownfield land at the Sizewell B railhead. The centre is one of a number of enhancements identified following an independent review into the UK nuclear facilities by the Office of Nuclear Regulation after an earthquake and subsequent tsunami led to the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in Japan last March.
East Anglian Daily Times 30th April 2012 more >>
Nuclear emergency planning arrangements at the factories where the UK’s nuclear weapons are manufactured do not meet standards adopted at a similar plant in the USA and should be reviewed in the light of the Fukushima emergency, according to an independent expert on nuclear safety. Emergencies resulting from acts of terrorism at the bomb factories have not been taken into account in risk assessments because they are not considered to be ‘reasonably foreseeable’ by nuclear regulators, and hazard appraisals are vague and fail to identify the nature and severity of potential accident scenarios. John Large of Large & Associates, a consulting nuclear engineer who examined the emergency arrangements at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), where warheads for the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons system are manufactured, described the results of the study (available to download below) as very disturbing.
NIS 29th April 2012 more >>
It is tempting, particularly in Scotland, to assume that bad news for nuclear is good news for renewables but that is wildly over-simplistic. For anyone whose priority is the carbon reduction objective, nuclear and renewables should be seen as partners rather than opponents. The realistic alternative to nuclear is the expanded use of fossil fuels for the provision of baseload. Most seriously, the market will continue to promote the use of gas for the generation of electricity. This is neither environmentally sound nor very clever from a security of supply perspective since, increasingly, gas is imported rather than drawn from the North Sea. Then there is the issue that, 20 years from now, Russia will dominate that market to a much greater extent than it does today. Do we really want that? In Scotland, we see Scottish Power switching Cockenzie from coal to gas firing. The same thing could happen at Longannet. Add in Peterhead – with or without CCS – and Scotland, like the rest of the UK, could within a few years, be heavily dependent on imported gas, subject to volatile price fluctuations, for our domestically-generated baseload electricity. Before nuclear investment takes place, there will need to be some guarantees about security of demand once the new stations come on-stream. That is what the Coalition Government’s Energy Market Reforms are supposed to deliver. Interestingly, however, the Germans complained that the current proposals are exacerbating uncertainty rather than resolving it.
Utility Products 30th April 2012 more >>
Dozens of campaigners have staged a protest outside energy giant Centrica’s head offices, over what they say are “rip-off” energy bills fuelled by rising gas prices. Greenpeace said more than 50 protesters blockaded the road to the energy company’s headquarters in Windsor, Berkshire, with a giant spoof energy bill. They also shut down the offices by sealing the entrances with bills printed on wood and locked to the doors, the green group said. A handful of protesters are also said to be inside the building attempting to locate chief executive Sam Laidlaw’s offices, so they can “redecorate” it with rolls of wallpaper printed with energy bills.
Guardian 30th April 2012 more >>
China called on the United States and Russia – which hold the vast majority of the world’s nuclear warheads – on Monday to make further “drastic” cuts in their atomic arsenals.
Reuters 30th April 2012 more >>
A French magazine is claiming that President Nicolas Sarkozy and Libya’s ex-strongman Moamer Kadhafi reached a “secret deal” to trade nuclear cooperation for the release of foreign medics. Based on “confidential documents”, the report to appear Wednesday in weekly Les Inrockuptibles emerged ahead of Sunday’s run-off vote between Sarkozy and Socialist frontrunner Francois Hollande.
AFP 30th April 2012 more >>
Israel’s defence minister Ehud Barak restated the case for a military strike on Iran’s nuclear programme before it reaches the “immunity zone”, dismissing criticism from the country’s former intelligence chief that political leaders were misleading the public over the consequences of action.
Guardian 30th April 2012 more >>
Energy-poor Jordan said on Sunday a Russian firm and a French-Japanese consortium are to compete to build the kingdom’s first nuclear plant.
Middle East Online 30th April 2012 more >>
A plan to store radioactive waste in Sydney’s southern suburbs raises safety concerns, says a local councillor who is angry the area is being treated like a world dumping ground. Thirteen cubic metres of the waste – enough to fill one-third of a shipping container – will be returned to Australia by 2015 and stored for five years at the Lucas Heights nuclear facility. The waste, which will remain toxic for centuries, was generated in Australia through the production of nuclear medicine and during scientific research. It was taken to France for reprocessing but will be returned under an Australian-Franco government agreement and kept in a newly built storage unit.
The Age 1st May 2012 more >>
It could be the latest Inside the Beltway TV drama: the safety guardians of America’s nuclear industry working in a political environment so toxic that the White House was compelled to appoint the bureaucratic equivalent of a marriage counsellor. Firstly, there have been testimonies to Congress of “outbursts of abusive rage” at the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The senior regulator, George Jaczko, was accused of bullying the sole woman on the five-member commission, a Republican nuclear engineer Kristine Svinicki. All four of his commissioners were in open revolt. Republicans in Congress also weighed in, with a letter last week demanding Jaczko justify his performance. But the real drama, going largely unseen amid the infighting at the regulator, is over the future of America’s nuclear industry after the Fukushima disaster in Japan last year, nuclear experts say. “All of this in my opinion is a sign of a desperate struggle going on involving the NRC,” said Robert Alvarez, a nuclear expert at the Institute for Policy Studies. “The majority of commissioners were put there largely with the blessing of the nuclear industry, and are now pushing back over potentially expensive upgrades to the reactor fleet after Fukushima.” After a 30-year hold on new reactor construction, America’s nuclear industry had been poised for an era of expansion until Fukushima occurred and NRC, under Jaczko’s command, began a review of America’s 100-plus reactors.
Guardian 30th April 2012 more >>
US President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda have warned North Korea that its “old pattern of provocation” is over. Mr Obama said North Korea’s recent actions, including its failed rocket launch, would “only serve to deepen Pyongyang’s isolation”.
BBC 30th April 2012 more >>
Solar Schools a project to help schools to “crowd-fund” a solar roof by gathering lots of small donations from their local community. Best of all, from 10:10’s perspective, each successful school would become a visible and empowering example of a community working together to solve climate change. We might even be able to work with the same communities on other projects in the future such as retrofitting schools on a street-by-street basis, or investing in community wind farms. To test the Solar Schools idea we launched a pilot scheme, and set up a website with an accompanying resource pack to help the participating schools to raise money.
Guardian 30th April 2012 more >>
The renewable energy industry has hit back at a report claiming a “dramatic proliferation” of wind turbines is blighting the English countryside, warning “an unrepresentative minority using exaggerated statistics” should not be allowed to derail public support for the technology. CPRE figures claiming England will see 4,000 30 metre high turbines built are wrong, says trade body RenewableUK.
Business Green 30th April 2012 more >>