Letter: The French PWR is already five years behind schedule. I can only hope that Hinkley C progresses at the same rate. By 2029 I don’t suppose I’ll be around to worry about possible accidents or low level radiation leaks or what they (France and China) want to do with spent fuel rods, enriched uranium. They could dump them here or, take them away for re processing for nuclear weapons, either way this toxic waste will be around for hundreds of thousands of years before it is even half as dangerous (and that is still dangerous). If Hinkley never gets completed it will have been a terrible waste of tax payers’ and electricity customers’ money and of the lives of those whose careers and working lives are bound up with it. Meanwhile, the demand for electricity is falling and the case for energy from renewable sources grows ever stronger.
This is the West Country 31st Oct 2015 read more »
Letter: As someone who was educated for over a decade in Britain, I often tell my Chinese friends how much I respect the democratic values and the equality of people in Britain. Yet this blatant display of sycophancy towards a dictatorial regime has instantly reduced Britain’s status and standing in the eyes of those who once admired it.
Observer 1st Nov 2015 read more »
THE UK Government has been urged to provide assurances of “strict scrutiny” over the export of material which can be used to manufacture nuclear weapons to a country with defence links to North Korea. Data shows that in January this year, the UK approved the export of £1,193 of deuterium compounds to Ethiopia under a licence granted by the government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The material has uses ranging from the construction of nuclear reactors and the manufacture of medicinal drugs, to the production of nuclear weapons. The information, collected by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), also shows the deuterium has been exported to Ethiopia under a “dual-use” licence as goods for both military and civilian purposes.
Herald 1st Nov 2015 read more »
Japan – Fukushima
Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Thursday that radiation levels of up to 9.4 sieverts per hour have been detected near a reactor containment vessel at the meltdown-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Sept. 4-25 checks found the extremely high radiation levels in a small building containing a pipe that is connected to the reactor 2 containment vessel at the plant, which was devastated in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Tepco said. Exposure to such a dosage for some 45 minutes would result in death. Tepco said it expects decontamination work at the site to take at least one month. Extremely high radiation levels and the inability to grasp the details about melted nuclear fuel make it impossible for the utility to chart the course of its planned decommissioning of the reactors at the plant
Japan Times 30th Oct 2015 read more »
PV solar power generation in Germany is already 5% higher in the first nine months of this year than all of last year. Germany’s PV systems generated 33,193 gigawatt hours of solar electricity through the end of September, according to the German Association of Energy and Water Industries. Wind power in the first nine months of 2015 has generated 52% more than it did in all of 2014. 59,006 gigawatt hours has been produced, according to the same source. 114,723 gigawatt hours of electricity in Germany came from renewable sources in the first nine months of 2015, which was almost double the amount produced from nuclear sources. Additionally, some electricity prices have decreased from the previous year. For example, the cost of peak load power is nearly at 2002 levels.
Clean Technica 29th Oct 2015 read more »
When Chancellor Angela Merkel called up the boss of Germany’s biggest power producer RWE two days after the first explosion at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, there was no mention of a u-turn in her energy policy. Twenty-four hours later, Juergen Grossmann learnt through the media that Merkel was planning to shut down the country’s oldest nuclear plants and bid farewell to a technology she had vowed was critical just six months earlier. The decision, one of the biggest policy turnarounds in Germany’s history, lays bare a lack of coordination untypical for Merkel, a physicist by training and known for her disciplined step-by-step approach. Half a decade on, it shows. As the Fukushima disaster approaches its fifth anniversary, Germany’s utilities are in crisis and struggling to shoulder the shutdown bill. There are fears the government may have to bail them out.
Reuters 1st Nov 2015 read more »
Proposals for a nuclear reprocessing hub in South Australia, apparently gaining in both Coalition and Labor support, will be sorely tested in the coming and inevitable public debate. This is a thinly disguised plan for the first nuclear power stations and a reprocessing plant on Australian soil. Such reactors and plant will require public subsidies unless, as in the latest British project, a foreign entity like China helps foot the bill. China and Japan are at the heart of the South Australian proposals. When Prime Minister John Howard tested the waters of public opinion on nuclear power stations – without the China or Japan factor – his retreat was swift and total. The idea is to store nuclear waste above and below ground somewhere in the Outback – that is, on Aboriginal land. Besides raising questions of transporting the waste, what of the morality of dumping such toxic material in someone else’s yard? If so safe, why not put the nuclear hub in Adelaide or Canberra, let alone the Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, Indian, British or French countrysides?
AFR 1st Nov 2015 read more »
A minor explosion has occurred at the Doel 1 reactor at the Doel power plant outside Antwerp. The explosion happened as a transformer caught fire around 11PM on Saturday night. Els De Clercq, the power generator’s spokeswoman insisted that there was no danger for the plant’s staff or the wider surroundings as reactor 1 is offline and no fissionable material is present at the minute. The reactor hasn’t been running since last February because at 40 it has reached the end of its planned life. Ms De Clercq stressed that the incident was not linked to the nuclear part of the power plant.
Flanders News 1st Nov 2015 read more »
The Scottish Labour party is to vote on abolishing Britain’s nuclear deterrent after delegates voted heavily in favour of a debate on the Trident missile system. The decision to debate cancelling Trident’s replacement at Scottish Labour’s annual conference this weekend came as activists applauded calls from Jeremy Corbyn for the party to embrace “the sunshine of socialism”. On Friday, delegates overwhelmingly backed calls from constituency parties to hold a potentially divisive vote on Trident’s renewal on Sunday: the party’s leadership is split on the issue, with unions and MSPs at loggerheads.
Guardian 30th Oct 2015 read more »
The future of Britain’s nuclear deterrent could be thrown into doubt on 1 November when the Scottish Labour Party conference is expected to vote against the renewal of the Trident missile system. In a move that will highlight the struggle between the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters and the party’s centre-right, the Scottish branch of the party is set to have the debate that the UK Labour conference at Brighton in September conspicuously avoided.
Independent 31st Oct 2015 read more »
Press and Journal 1st Nov 2015 read more »
Bill Clinton signed the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996. Eventually, he was joined by leaders in 183 nations, all pledging to ban any and all nuclear explosions in any and all environments. Nearly 20 years later, the treaty has to go into effect. The reason is that there are still eight nations that have signed but not formally ratified the treaty (and a few, like North Korea and India, that have done neither). In the US, for example, the president has the power to sign a treaty, but it falls to the Senate to ratify it with a two-thirds vote, making it legal. The Senate rejected the CTBT in a largely party-line vote in 1999—the first such rejection of a security-related treaty since 1919’s Treaty of Versailles—and so it languishes.
Motherboard 31st Oct 2015 read more »
Renewables – solar
The viability of new small renewable energy projects across the UK was hit badly in August with the announcement of significant imminent cuts to “feed in tariffs” – the UK government payments to incentivise small clean energy projects. Budget cuts were the main reason. It is true that the cost of, say, solar panels has declined significantly in recent years but during this time the average payback period was already over ten years. This will lengthen considerably with the proposed changes, which can only lead to fewer schemes, less clean energy generated in Scotland and continued dependence on the big trans-national energy companies. But there is some good news for those who want to invest in and support solar projects in Edinburgh. The Edinburgh Community Solar Co-op share issue was launched to great acclaim in September and they are looking to raise £1.4 million to mount solar panels on 25 council buildings across the city and generate up to 1.5MW.
Edinburgh Evening News 28th Oct 2015 read more »
Tens of thousands of households are scrambling to put solar panels on their roofs before lucrative subsidies are cut, official statistics suggest – amid warnings the “mad rush” could see some get their fingers burnt. Ministers announced in late August that they planned to slash rooftop solar subsidies by almost 90 per cent from the new year, as they seek to rein in green energy costs. Experts say the move will mean installing rooftop panels – which can currently make a £7,000 profit over 20 years – will no longer be viable for most households. Solar panel installations under the “Feed-in-Tariff” (FiT) subsidy scheme hit a three-year high of 18,346 in September, up 59 per cent on August, statistics from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) show. Most of the installations are believed to be domestic rooftop panels – although the FiT scheme is also used to subsidise commercial rooftop projects and small solar farms. The surge in installations is expected to continue through to December, with the Solar Trade Association reporting its members seeing “a very significant rise in demand”. Rooftop panels can be installed in as little as half a day. A typical solar system costs about £6,250, according to The Eco Experts, a solar price comparison website. Currently, a household’s combined subsidy earnings and savings could come to £673 a year, meaning they recoup the cost of the panels in just under 10 years and could make a £7,210 profit after 20 years – the duration of the subsidies. But if the generation tariff is slashed by 87 per cent, as proposed, combined earnings and savings would fall to £266 a year, meaning even after 20 years a household would not have recouped the installation cost. It would take a further seven years of bill savings to make a return on the investment, The Eco Experts estimates.
Telegraph 1st Nov 2015 read more »
Renewables – Scotland
While Scottish ministers continue to voice their opposition to renewable subsidy cuts, the current circumstances present them with a challenge on whether and how Scotland could progress with its own energy policy. In a nation with a long history of individual innovation, invention and pioneering, there is surely an opportunity for the Scottish Government to implement measures that would enable it to deliver on its goal of creating a robust, widespread, efficient and profitable renewables sector. Of course, setting its own energy agenda requires significant resources and would also rely on major investment. There are, however, a number of areas which Scotland could look at in the short term in developing such a strategy. Most obvious is the potential for further development of offshore renewables, incorporating Scotland’s world-leading skills and knowledge in the oil and gas sector to facilitate further growth. If support is not viable through a subsidy mechanism, then perhaps tax breaks would encourage progress here. The Scottish Government has the opportunity to think outside the box in terms of how it can support priority energy projects. These projects are initially capital intensive with no return until electricity is actually being generated, which can take years. Developers would welcome support in the early stages of a project, perhaps achieved through a series of government provided loans – interest free or discounted – which could assist in the testing and consenting phases. Planning is another area where the Scottish Government could make a significant impact. Earlier intervention to speed up the planning and consenting regimes of qualifying projects could serve as a real incentive to potential investors who are vital in the ongoing development of Scotland’s energy sector. If the Scottish Government takes this opportunity to develop an innovative energy policy, going forward, Scotland’s renewable energy output could complement the UK government’s focus on shale gas and nuclear energy to ensure the lights stay on on both sides of the Border.
Scotland on Sunday 1st Nov 2015 read more »
MINISTERS have opened talks on subsidising the building of the world’s longest undersea power cable to bring electricity generated by Iceland’s hot lava and thundering waterfalls to Britain. Last week David Cameron formed a taskforce to negotiate the terms of a potential financial aid package for the £5bn, 1,000-mile power line under the Atlantic. Edi Truell, the City financier behind the idea, said he expects the details to be hammered out by May. This would allow Atlantic Superconnection, the company he set up to lead the project, to begin awarding contracts in the summer. The line would carry 1.2 gigawatts of low-carbon electricity to Britain, enough to power more than 1.2m homes.
Sunday Times 1st Nov 2015 read more »
Low Carbon Economy
Nine out of 10 companies are failing to plan ahead for a low-carbon economy despite recognising they have a duty to tackle climate change, according to new research. More than a third of business leaders (38 per cent) do not see climate change and the transition to a low-carbon economy as a concern, while 41 per cent see it as only a “minor concern”, according to research by Aston University.
Independent 31st Oct 2015 read more »
Christopher Booker: Why the Paris climate treaty will be the flop of the year. At the end of this month 40,000 politicians, officials, green activists, lobbyists and journalists from 195 nations will converge outside Paris – at Europe’s largest airport reserved only for private jets – for a conference that they hope will change the world . The chief obstacle to such an agreement is exactly the same as it was at Kyoto in 1997 and at that last mammoth conference which so signally failed to get Kyoto renewed at Copenhagen in 2009. The vast majority of countries have argued all along that, if man-made CO2 is causing a problem, the fault lies with those “developed” nations that became rich before everyone else by burning fossil fuels to power their industrial revolution.
Telegraph 31st Oct 2015 read more »
There is a race taking place in the motor industry between two powerful camps to decide what will propel the cars of the future. On one side sit some of the big names of car making: Japanese giant Toyota; its domestic rival Honda; and their Asian neighbour Hyundai, who are all betting big on the potential of hydrogen power. The other camp, smaller, but more vocal, is being led by tech visionary Elon Musk, who is convinced that electric cars powered by batteries represent the future and is sticking with them for his Tesla cars.
Telegraph 31st Oct 2015 read more »
SOLAR panels could be added to electric cars to prevent them running out of charge just to keep their Scottish drivers warm. Up to 40 per cent of battery power is used to heat vehicles on winter days, researchers at Edinburgh Napier University have found. This is because electric cars don’t produce “waste heat” like petrol or diesel models which can be channelled into warming their interiors. The university already uses solar panels on the side of a building to charge the equivalent of 12 electric cars a year.
Scotland on Sunday 1st Nov 2015 read more »