National Grid says that the country has the electricity generating capacity to meet the average maximum need over the course of the UK winter. But this calculation critically depends on the reliability of power stations as well as an accurate assessment of the true generating capacity of each plant. This article looks at National Grid’s assumptions on power station availability over the next months and casts a somewhat surprised eye on its apparent errors, particularly in calculating the likely output from nuclear stations. National Grid has raised its assessment of the nuclear fleet’s availability, and by more than any other major type of power station. It predicts that 90% of the UK nuclear capacity will be working at the point of maximum demand, up from 84% last year. In the face of repeated unplanned shut downs at EdF’s plants this year, I can think of absolutely no reason for this enhanced optimism. And, indeed, National Grid’s cheery forecast is not shared by Ofgem, which held its estimate at 81% availability, in its report in mid-summer. The Ofgem document actually predates the unplanned closures at Hartlepool and Heysham 1 that started a couple of months ago and I doubt Ofgem would be as optimistic today. I looked at the performance of the UK’s nuclear fleet from early December to mid-February this year. Only for a couple of days did it actually achieve the 90% output that National Grid – based on information from operator EdF – suggested it will for 2014/2015. Average performance was 81% of potential, in line with Ofgem’s more conservative forecasts for this winter and last. As I write this, only 3 of EdF’s nuclear generating units out of 16 (in eight power stations on seven sites) are working to their full rated capacity. A further 4 are operating at 20% below maximum power as a precaution. Sizewell (one station but two turbine units) is on a planned refuelling stop. 2 other units are suffering from mechanical faults and 4 are being inspected for a possible problem in their boiler units and will return to operation between now and the end of December, although at a lower output than previously. Another plant is returning to full power after refuelling.
Carbon Commentary 30th Oct 2014 read more »
Ecologist 31st Oct 2014 read more »
Some of the national daily papers have picked up on the issue of the continuing problem with the state of the legacy waste being held at the Sellafield site. Nuclear safety expert John Large, called it a ‘significant risk’and expert in radiological risk Gordon Thompson (USA) told the Guardian: ‘The site’s overall radiological risk has never been properly assessed by the responsible authorities. [The] photos, showing disgracefully degraded open-air ponds at Sellafield, indicate that a thorough assessment of risk is overdue.’
Cumbria Trust 31st Oct 2014 read more »
Summary of Freedom of Information (FOI) releases for requests received by the UKAEA from April to June 2014.
UKAEA 31st Oct 2014 read more »
The UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has awarded a total of £13m, contributing to a joint funding initiative, to the UK companies and consortia aimed at helping develop new technologies for current and next generation nuclear power stations. The funds will be used by the UK companies and consortia for novel construction and manufacturing techniques, remote monitoring and sensors to reduce the need for people entry to radioactive areas as well as an ocean-imaging system to prevent jellyfish blocking cooling water intakes.
Energy Business Review 31st Oct 2014 read more »
Does the EU nuclear safety directive risk fragmenting international standards, asks Ana Stanič. Seeking to strengthen nuclear safety standards in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident, in July this year the European Union amended the nuclear safety directive adopted in 2009. Back then, adoption of the nuclear safety directive marked an important development in regulating nuclear safety. Building on the provisions of the Convention on Nuclear Safety, an incentive-only instrument, and the principles adopted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the EU became the first regional actor to adopt legally-binding nuclear safety rules. The 2009 directive granted the EU for the first time express competence in nuclear safety. Its adoption met, however, with strong opposition from industry and national regulators, which consider nuclear energy as falling within the purview of member states. Less than five years later, the European Commission has given itself a greater role in nuclear safety, without even waiting for the findings of its own study on the member states’ compliance with the 2009 Directive, due just two weeks after the amended directive was adopted. The Commission claims that these new rules were needed in light of the Fukushima accident.
World Nuclear News 31st Oct 2014 read more »
A COLLEGE in Hartlepool has been chosen to provide the nuclear workforce for the future. The College of Further Education has been named as a key partner in the Nuclear Industrial Partnership (Nuclear IP) which was launched at The House of Lords to address potential future shortfalls of workers within the sector.
Hartlepool Mail 1st Nov 2014 read more »
Last week, the EU agreed its 2030 targets for emission cuts, energy savings and clean energy. Greenpeace has been clear in its assessment: the level of emission cuts is inadequate, and the deal risks slowing down Europe’s clean energy investments. Despite this, there are four good reasons to be optimistic about what this decision means for the global fight against climate change.
Greenpeace 31st Oct 2014 read more »
French authorities said on Friday they had detected drones over two nuclear power plants, the latest in a baffling series of incidents across the country. A spokesman for security forces said: “Drone-type machines overflew two nuclear plants during the night. They were detected by police in charge of protecting the plants and staff.” “These machines were not neutralised because they did not represent a direct threat” to the nuclear facilities, the spokesman added.
Guardian 31st Oct 2014 read more »
IB Times 31st Oct 2014 read more »
In March 2011, Japan suffered the worst nuclear catastrophe in a generation, with triple reactor core meltdowns and exploded containment buildings at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The catastrophe was a stern warning about the perils of depending on nuclear power. Legislation to promote renewable energy has meant the number of solar power installations has rocketed. With reactors going offline and being unable to restart due in large part to public opposition, Japanese citizens have enjoyed over a year in which no nuclear power plant has operated. This progress could be reversed if the Abe administration gets its way and begins restarting reactors. The first two to be promoted for restart are at the Sendai nuclear plant in the Kagoshima prefecture, on Japan’s southern island of Kyushu. These proposed restarts are not a done deal, as some news reports have suggested. Greenpeace wants Governor Ito and his officials in Kagoshima to respect the opinion of the majority of the prefecture’s residents – and the Japanese public at large – and step in to keep Sendai closed. It’s a simple question of public safety: no reactors should be restarted. And especially not the two at Sendai which are situated in a coastal seismic zone next to a super volcano.
Greenpeace 31st Oct 2014 read more »
But even if North Korea has the capacity to deploy nuclear weapons, would it ever use them? In an NK News specialist opinion survey, a panel of experts agree that the odds of a nuclear attack by the rogue state against its antagonists – Seoul, Tokyo and Washington – remain low.
Guardian 31st Oct 2014 read more »
ISLINGTON North MP Jeremy Corbyn has called on the government not to boycott a conference about the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons conference in Vienna. Britain has rejected an invitation to the conference which was attended by 128 nations last year, CND activist Mr Corbyn told the House of Commons on Tuesday. In a question to the foreign affairs minister, he said: “Britain should be there and should not boycott it, as it will apparently do along with the other five permanent members of the Security Council.” Conservative Tobias Ellwood replied to praise Mr Corbyn’s “consistent” views on this subject, but ruled out nuclear disarmament under a Tory government.
Islington Tribune 31st Oct 2014 read more »
143 states have voted in favour of a fifth United Nations General Assembly First Committee resolution on DU weapons, which calls for states to provide assistance to countries affected by the weapons.
ICBUW 31st Oct 2014 read more »
More than £81 billion worth of renewable energy projects are proposed by 2025, representing nearly half of all infrastructure spending in the UK, new figures reveal. The Scottish share is £16.4bn or 20 per cent of the headline figure, but the industry in Scotland is warning sustained political support is needed to reassure the investors who can make it happen. Barbour ABI, a specialist provider of construction intelligence services which advises the Office for National Statistics (ONS), has released new data revealing a total of 405 renewable energy projects in the pipeline. They are worth a combined total of £81bn which now account for approximately 47 per cent of proposed UK infrastructure projects.
Herald 1st Nov 2014 read more »
Renewables – solar
Friends of the Earth rejects claim it is ‘working closely’ with controversial trade association, as row sparks host of questions over schools-focused lead generation initiative.
Business Green 31st Oct 2014 read more »
To many, it may seem somewhat surprising that rooftop PV deployment has been the segment of dominance in the UK until now. Talk of ROCs and CfDs certainly dominates the press, and the concerns of many in both the government and the domestic PV sector. But, the reality of UK solar PV activity cannot be disputed: rooftops have been the main driver of deployment so far. The tipping point however is just a matter of days away. As this occurs, the UK will officially have more ground mount than the FiT-driven rooftops that were instrumental in the UK becoming a PV region of global significance back in 2011.
Solar Portal 31st Oct 2014 read more »
In an event organised by the National Insulation Association (NIA) and its member Hamilton (Building Contractors) Ltd, a team of officials from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), visited Bradford’s Holme Wood Estate in order to examine first-hand the challenges that face the occupants of some of the poorest housing stock in the UK and the Solid Wall Insulation solutions available to them.
National Insulation Association 31st Oct 2014 read more »
On Sunday 2nd November, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will publish its latest synthesis report, distilling the latest knowledge on what UN chief Ban Ki-Moon has called the greatest threat ever faced by humanity. The synthesis report will wrap up the IPCC’s fifth assessment (AR5) of climate change. It draws together information from the IPCC’s reports on the science of climate change, climate impacts and the ways climate risks can be addressed. It takes a mammoth collective effort on the part of scientists, economists and policymakers to produce these IPCC reports. Is it worth it?
Carbon Brief 31st Oct 2014 read more »
Geoffrey Lean: The new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that irreversible consequences could be averted, at surprisingly little cost, if action is taken without delay. Campaigners against global warming and their bitterest opponents are united by one word this weekend: irreversible. It appears 48 times in the draft of the most important report so far on climate change, being finalised today in Copenhagen, signifying that unless the world takes speedy action to curb emissions of greenhouse gases their dire effect will last for thousands of years, at least. Reversal also motivates a growing number of sceptics calling for repeal of Britain’s Climate Change Act which is, they say, driving the country into unique dependence on unreliable renewable sources of energy. The two views are bound to clash ever more vigorously in the run-up to a planned internat ional climate agreement in Paris next December. The new report, to be published tomorrow by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), aims to provide the “road map” for that treaty. The culmination of a series of four over the last year, it is still being argued over, line by line, by the world’s governments and top scientists.
Telegraph 31st Oct 2014 read more »
Just when you thought you’d heard of all the perils that global warming could bring, here’s another being put forward. A new report – which comes as the world’s governments meet in Copenhagen to finalise the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – says it could give rise to terrorist groups like Nigeria’s Boko Haram. The warning is given in the latest annual Climate Change and Environmental Risk Atlas just published by the global risk analytics company, Maplecroft. The Atlas looks at 26 different kinds of problem facing 198 countries, and concludes that 32 of them are at “extreme risk” from climate change. The worst ten are Bangladesh, Sierr a Leone, South Sudan, Chad, Haiti, Ethiopia, the Philippines, the Central African Republic and Eritrea. All of the 32 depend heavily on agriculture, with two thirds of their combined working populations engaged in it. Maplecroft says that global warming is already hitting their food production and aggravating poverty, migration and social instability – “factors that significantly increase the risk of conflict and instability in fragile and emerging states alike”.
Telegraph 31st Oct 2014 read more »
A university which condemned fossil fuel companies for contributing to climate change has now admitted that oil and gas will be needed “for many decades to come”. The University of Glasgow angered many of its senior scientists this month when it agreed to a demand from a student environmental group that it sell £18m worth of shares in the fossil fuel extraction industry. The university portrayed itself as a green pioneer, declaring it was “the first UK university to divest from the fossil fuel industry” The university has now issued a new statement in which it acknowledges that power from renewable sources, such as wind, is intermittent and needs to be backed up by power stations burning fossil fuels. Paul Younger, professor of energy engineering and one of six professors at the university who criticised colleagues for swallowing student “propaganda” on fossil fuels, said the new statement would help repair relationships with oil and gas companies which funded research. He said the university had realised its position on fossil fuels was too simplistic: “The university has now acknowledged that we don’t have available at scale alternatives [to fossil fuels] for transport, heat and power on demand.”
Times 31st Oct 2014 read more »