Contractors working in the South-west have said they will need to re-evaluate building designs and increasingly turn to offsite manufacturing due to the large demand for workers at Hinkley over the next five years. Problem areas for the contractors include the demand for steel fixers and concrete crews, with firms already looking at alternatives to concrete frames on various projects. Steel fixers position and secure steel rebar and steel mesh used in reinforced concrete. Bam Construct western regional director Tim Chell said his firm was trying to “second guess” the market and was likely to increase its usage of steel frames due to a future shortage of concrete crews.
Construction News 1st Nov 2016 read more »
The U.K. government agreed to limit what the operator and investors of the newly approved, controversial Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant would have to pay for radioactive waste storage, pushing the rest onto taxpayers, government documents reveal. The government approved the plant, which will be operated by state-controlled French energy firm, EDF, with financial backing from China, last month. In its reporting on Sunday, the Observer wrote that one document said there would be a “cap on the liability of the operator of the nuclear power station which would apply in a worst-case scenario.” “The U.K. government accepts that, in setting a cap, the residual risk, of the very worst-case scenarios where actual cost might exceed the cap, is being borne by the government,” it stated. The British paper adds: “Separate documents confirm that the cap also applies should the cost of decommissioning the reactor at the end of its life balloon.”
Common Dreams 31st Oct 2016 read more »
France and China will set up a fund for joint investment in overseas projects, France’s foreign minister said on Monday, as China’s voracious appetite for overseas acquisitions continues to grow despite some recent stumbles in overseas markets. “Hinkley Point is a very good example of what we’re going to do together, to win contracts in third markets and in all sectors” Jean-Marc Ayrault told reporters at a joint briefing with China’s foreign minister Wang Yi in Beijing. He was referring to a $24-billion (20 billion pound) Franco-Chinese project to build Britain’s first nuclear power plant station in decades.
Reuters 31st Oct 2016 read more »
Hinkley and Hunterston
Fears have been raised that two of the UK’s nuclear reactors might not be able to shut down in an emergency. Documents show the nuclear regulator raised concerns over fractures in the keyways that lock together the core of Hunterston B power station in Ayrshire. They also show the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) is also concerned that Hinkley B in Somerset might have similar problems. EDF insists the cracks pose no threat to safety. Hunterston B and Hinkley Point were the first of Britain’s Advanced Gas Cooled Reactors [AGR] and built in the 1970s. In the documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request, the ONR raised concerns over cracks in reactor three of Hunterston B and spoke of the possibility of them being present at Hinkley B.
BBC 31st Oct 2016 read more »
CRACKS in one of Scotland’s nuclear reactors may prevent it shutting down in an emergency, according to a report by the industry watchdog. Papers obtained by the BBC under freedom of information show that the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) raised concerns about fractures at the core of Hunterston B power station in Ayrshire, and potentially similar problems affecting Hinkley B in Somerset. The ONR documents referred to cracks in reactor three of Hunterston B, built in the 1970s. John Large, who helped design Britain’s early nuclear reactors, believes that if the cracks get any worse it could jeopardise the reactor’s stability in the event of a disaster and make it impossible to lower control rods to shut the reactor down. He described how the structure would become “a very loose stack o f bricks”. He said: “These keyways are beginning to fracture… that means the locking together – the way that force can be transferred from one brick to another – is lost, so it becomes a very loose stack of bricks.” Allan Jeffery, of campaign group Stop Hinkley, said he was concerned that the graphite core – which cannot be repaired – has become less dense because of the effects of radiation. He said: “This… could end up distorting the channels the fuel and the boron control rods use.
Herald 1st Nov 2016 read more »
Ross Greer, Scottish Green MSP for West of Scotland, today (31 Oct) said that safety concerns about the Hunterston nuclear plant aired in a BBC documentary show the need for Ayrshire to plan an economic shift away from such a risky, high-cost industry. In the programme, fears are raised by nuclear expert John Large that the plant’s reactors might not be able to shut down in an emergency. Documents obtained through Freedom of Information show regulator concerns over cracks in reactor three of Hunterston B. Ross Greer MSP said: “The issue of cracks in the reactor has been raised before, and this latest set of concerns from an industry expert will add to uncertainty for local people. It shows how undemocratic French-based multinational EDF were in deciding to extend the life of the plant without seeking local views. “We must start planning now for an economy for Ayrshire that does not feature this risky, high-cost industry. There are alternative sectors we could be building up, whether in renewable energy, food and drink, manufacturing or in energy efficient housing. I look forward to a time when the West of Scotland doesn’t have to worry about nuclear reactor cracks but sadly we’ll be stuck with its toxic legacy for generations.”
Scottish Greens 31st Oct 2016 read more »
OFFICIAL documents revealed the nuclear ¬regulator’s concerns over fractures in the core structure of Hunterston B power station in Ayrshire. CRACKS found in a nuclear reactor have sparked fears that it could not be shut down in an emergency. Official documents revealed the nuclear ¬regulator’s concerns over fractures in the core ¬structure of Hunterston B power station in Ayrshire. Operators EDF Energy say the cracks pose no threat to safety at the site. But paperwork obtained through a freedom of ¬information request shows the Office for Nuclear ¬Regulation have raised concerns over ¬fractures in the brick keyways that lock together the core in reactor three. It’s feared the same problem could arise at EDF’s sister station – Hinkley B in Somerset.
Daily Record 31st Oct 2016 read more »
EDF has moved to allay fears that Hinkley B wouldn’t be able to shut down in an emergency. It was reported by the BBC that the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) had concerns over possible fractures in the graphite bricks which were used in the construction of the reactor. The graphite bricks are in the keyways that would lock together the core of the power plant if a natural disaster, such as an earthquake was to happen. The data was gained from a Freedom of Information request submitted by the BBC, and within it, it stated the ONR was concerned the graphite would not be able to lock together in an emergency.
This is the West Country 31st Oct 2016 read more »
The Environment Agency (EA) has released the information regarding how and when to make your comments on the proposed extension to Magnox’s nuclear waste discharge permit as we reported in Courier 640. The Courier has downloaded the documents, which are in the form of 150 Megabytes of pdf documents with no index or executive summary. Marine consultant Terri Portmann commented: “The files contain over 150mb of data and information, some will be very technical in nature. That this has been launched on the general public without an executive summary or even an index of where certain aspects of the evidence may be found is simply not good enough, the pdf format makes it difficult for most to search. The time table of 28 days, with no drop in sessions or events being held where locals can come along and ask questions and offer further evidence demonstrates to me that this its purpose is NOT meaningful consultation. There will be very technical aspects that the public are not expected to have knowledge of but there will be areas to do with the habitat, abundance of species to include fish and fauna and a broad base of local knowledge that could be tapped into if given the opportunity that could help inform. Locals will want to fully understand why there are no alternatives to this taking place because ‘need’ will be a criteria that must have been considered, people will want to know that the habitat and families will not be at risk in the short, medium and long term. If the Government was serious about meaningful engagement and consultation you would expect to see a 12-14 week consultation with drop in sessions where the public could come and ask questions and feedback could be collated, you would expect to see this early in the consultation. It may be appropriate for a consultation to take even longer where it falls over the Christmas period so in this case I would expect to see at least 16 weeks. Locals may want to make representations to the consultation team, MPs, Ministers, the Chair of the Environment Agency and voice concern about the complexity and short time frame for consultation.” She went on to say that the unlawful dumping of nuclear waste has continued for a longer period than the initial license allowed for. Terri and other experts recommend that the most effective response local residents can make is to write (or send an email) to the addresses below and copy in DEFRA, the Cabinet Office, and your MP to complain about this inadequate consultancy exercise pointing out that it is highly technical with no interpretation into laypersons’ language, no executive summary, and that the EA is holding no local stakeholder events at which explanations can be offered and questions asked. Responses should also mention that the existing permit has already been exceeded unlawfully. The draft decision documents, draft permits and supporting documents are available for download from https://ea.sharefile.com/d-s525eac10f764869a.
Courier No.641 30th October 2016 read more »
As the nuclear juggernaut drives the destruction of the Cumbria coast at Sellafield with nuclear waste dumps, boreholes, dredged-out rivers and a massive new nuclear power station, Marianne Birkby recalls ancient legends of the Woodwose, the Green Man, and the Beast of Beckermet. Can these forces of untamed nature be called upon to combat the growing nuclear menace?
Ecologist 31st Oct 2016 read more »
Hitachi-GE has satisfactorily addressed the requirements of Regulatory Issue 0001 issued in June 2015. The issue represented a serious regulatory shortfall and stated the regulators expectations with respect to Hitachi-GE providing a suitable and sufficient definition and justification for the radioactive source terms in the UK ABWR during normal operations. The radioactive source term is a fundamental part in understanding and therefore being able to control the hazards associated with any nuclear facility. Hitachi-GE presented a resolution plan to address the issue, which is now completed. The regulators are now satisfied with Hitachi-GE’s definition and justification for the source terms for the reactor. This is considered a positive step forward as Hitachi-GE continues to progress through ONR’s step 4 of the GDA process. The regulators remain confident that Design Acceptance Confirmation and Statement of Design Acceptability are achievable in December 2017, subject to timely and quality submissions from Hitachi-GE.
ONR 31st Oct 2016 read more »
Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy announced today it is to provide industry advice to Imperial College and Bangor University’s newly formed Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) Research Hub and Network, following the signing of a memorandum of understanding. Cooperation will include part-time deployment of a researcher to Bangor, and building on the existing program of Japanese internships for UK students. Hitachi-GE is already supporting nuclear development in North Wales, providing the UK ABWR reactor to Horizon Nuclear Power for Wylfa Newydd, under contract to delivery team Menter Newydd. President and Representative Director of Hitachi-GE, Hidetoshi Takehara, said: “This is about helping create a deeper and broader pool of BWR expertise here in Wales and across the UK, supporting the engineers and industry of the future … With development of the UK’s first BWR proposed just up the road at Wylfa Newydd, this scheme helps ensure that project is a springboard to the UK becoming a world-power in its domestic expertise on BWR technology.”
World Nuclear News 31st Oct 2016 read more »
When an ITV documentary in 1983 revealed a high number of childhood leukaemia cases between 1955 and 1983 in the village of Seascale, in north-west England, it caused a public outcry. That’s because the village is just a few miles south of the Sellafield nuclear site. The documentary, which found 7 cases of leukaemia (when less than 1 would have been expected), prompted a series of investigations into what was happening. And ever since, the question of what caused the Seascale cancer cluster has been a matter of much debate. Now, a report by the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE) – a group of independent experts that provides advice to the government about issues relating to radiation and health – confirms that the cancer cluster is no longer present, and suggests that radiation wasn’t to blame. So what was?
Cancer Research UK 31st Oct 2016 read more »
Rolls-Royce plc, Britain’s leading manufacturing multinational, hired a network of agents to help it land lucrative contracts in at least 12 different countries around the world, sometimes allegedly using bribes. An investigation by the Guardian and the BBC has uncovered leaked documents and testimony from insiders that suggest that Rolls-Royce may have benefited from the use of illicit payments to boost profits for years. The network of agents is now the focus of large-scale investigations by anti-corruption agencies in the UK and the US. The Guardian understands the inquiries are looking into specific allegations that these hired intermediaries were bribing people. One individual who it is alleged has worked for Rolls-Royce is a businessman whose family has donated more than £1.6m to the Liberal Democrats and is currently an adviser to the party’s leader, Tim Farron. Sudhir Choudhrie and his son, Bhanu, have been arrested and questioned by the SFO over the bribery allegations. Both denied wrongdoing and were released without charge.
Guardian 31st Oct 2016 read more »
The European Parliament has approved Fusion for Energy’s (F4E) accounts for the 2014 financial year following a delay while decisions were being made on a revised schedule for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (Iter) project under construction in southern France.
Nucnet 28th Oct 2016 read more »
A shipload of gravel is causing controversy in French Polynesia amid campaigners’ concerns that it could be contaminated with plutonium from nuclear tests. The cargo has been unloaded in the port town of Rikitea, on Mangareva island, against the wishes of island leaders, Radio New Zealand reports. It has been transported 800km (500 miles) from Hao atoll, used as a military base by France when it carried out nuclear weapons tests in the Pacific, and anti-nuclear group Association 193 claims it is irradiated. The stone will be used to build roads on the island as it develops fish farms to supply the Chinese market.
BBC 31st Oct 2016 read more »
Taiwan has taken a step toward phasing out nuclear power generation in nine years. The move represents Taiwan’s response to the lessons it has learned by thinking seriously about the catastrophic nuclear accident that occurred in 2011 at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. The undertaking deserves to be monitored carefully. Like Japan, Taiwan is poor in natural resources. It introduced nuclear power generation in the 1970s amid an increasingly tense standoff with China and growing pressure from being isolated internationally. Currently, three nuclear power plants are in operation in Taiwan. Also like Japan, Taiwan is prone to earthquakes and other natural disasters. The Fukushima nuclear disaster triggered a massive wave of action by citizens calling for the termination of nuclear power generation. The trend has also been fueled by a series of problems that plagued the island’s fourth nuclear reactor, which was under construction, intensifying public distrust of the safety of nuclear power.
Asahi Shimbun 31st Oct 2016 read more »
An inter-governmental agreement is the preferable route to expanding the Czech Republic’s nuclear power fleet, a senior official at state-controlled energy group CEZ suggested on October 31. The comments of Petr Zavodsky, head of CEZ’s nuclear power construction division, come just days after it was reported that China is pushing Prague to hand it a contract to build one of two planned units without a competition, similar to Russia’s deal in place in Hungary. The comments only highlight the opposing geopolitical forces at play in the Czech Republic and the wider region.
BNE Intellinews 1st Nov 2016 read more »
Renewables – solar
On Friday evening as the sun descended over the old Hollywood set of “Desperate Housewives,” Elon Musk took to a stage and fired up his presentation about climate change. It was a strange scene, with hundreds of people crowded into the middle of a subtly artificial suburban neighborhood. It wasn’t until about a minute into the speech that Musk casually let the crowd in on Tesla’s big secret. “The interesting thing is that the houses you see around you are all solar houses,” Musk said. “Did you notice?” The answer, in short, was no. Like everyone else, I knew we were there to see Musk’s new “solar roof,” whatever that was supposed to mean. But try as I could as we walked in, I didn’t see anything that looked like it could carry an electric current. If anything, the slate and Spanish clay roofs looked a bit too nice for a television set. This is the future of solar, Musk proclaimed. “You’ll want to call your neighbors over and say ‘check out the sweet roof.’ It’s not a phrase you hear often.”
Bloomberg 31st Oct 2016 read more »
The energy arm of British retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) has today (31 October) announced the winners of a £350,000 Community Energy Fund which supports a range of projects looking to install on-site clean technology systems. A total of 26 winners were selected for M&S Energy funding of up to £12,500 each, with 19 based on 78,837 general public votes and the other seven chosen by a panel of judges which included former Energy Secretary Sir Ed Davey, Forum for the Future director Giles Bristow and SSE head of community investment Moven Smith.
Edie 31st Oct 2016 read more »
Renewables – offshore wind
Technological innovations for offshore wind energy generation hold the potential to grow the sector from 13GW of capacity in 2015 to more than 100GW in 2030, according to new analysis from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). A 160-page report released today (31 October) by IRENA suggests that falling costs of offshore wind energy technology and ongoing technological innovations within the sector could drive a surge in worldwide uptake and deployment. The ‘Innovation Outlook’ report highlights particular innovations such as floating turbines and larger blades that together hold the potential to boost sector growth and increase market hold. Wind energy innovations are set to reduce the overall costs of energy from windfarms by 57% over time, IRENA says.
Edie 31st Oct 2016 read more »
SCOTTISH ministers and the leaders of three island councils have written to the UK Business Secretary over claims that government indecision is putting at risk more than £1.3 billion of funding for large-scale renewable energy products. Their letter to Greg Clark was announced as Holyrood ministers met council leaders from Orkney, Shetland and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar at the Convention of the Highlands and Islands (COHI) in Inverness. The politicians expressed their concern about the effects of continued uncertainty on support for large-scale renewable energy projects on the Scottish Islands. An independent report estimated that island economies could benefit by up to £725 million from renewables over the next quarter of a century. But the Scottish Government said delays in announcing which technologies would be supported in the next round of auctions that back the sector were putting at risk existing investments made in developing renewable energy projects.
The National 1st November 2016 read more »
At least £1.3 billion of investment in ‘shovel ready’ Scottish energy projects is being put at risk by indecision by the UK Government over major funding decisions according to the Scot-Govt. Scottish Deputy First Minister John Swinney and leaders of three Scottish Island Councils have written to Greg Clark, the UK Business and Energy Minister, to voice concern about the effects of continued uncertainty on support for large-scale renewable energy projects on the Scottish Islands.
Scottish Energy News 31st Oct 2016 read more »
The German government recently published its Green Paper on Energy Efficiency and launched a consultation process inviting comments on the ideas put forward in the green book. RAP’s detailed response provides evidence and examples of the essential role that end-use energy efficiency must play in a faster and lower-cost transition to a clean energy economy. The key policy decision is to put “Efficiency First” whenever saving energy is less expensive or more valuable than investing in supply-side energy resources. The ambition of the Energiewende (energy transition) is high. In addition to its renewables goals, the German government established aggressive targets for improved energy efficiency—a 25 percent reduction in total power consumption by 2050 (relative to 2008), even with the expectation that the heat and transport sectors will drive a significant shift to electricity via heat pumps and electric vehicles. This requires new thinking. The principle of Efficiency First helps to minimise the costs of this transition and increases its feasibility going forward. In the response to the green book, RAP draws on international experience and sets out several concrete policy recommendations for bringing Efficiency First to life.
SPRU 31st Oct 2016 read more »
In 2002 Scotland announced a plan to eliminate fuel poverty, one of few countries in the world to do so. The government was supposed to have got there by the end of this month, but it hasn’t – not by a long way. The story behind what has happened helps to show why a new approach to this measure of living standards is needed, not only in Scotland but worldwide. Scotland defines fuel poverty as households that must spend 10% or more of their total income to have regular and adequate heating. When this year’s figures are finalised, they will confirm that well over 30% of households are still in this category. Levels also vary widely across regions and households – 70% of households in the Western Isles, for example. To be fair to Scotland, many countries still don’t even recognise this living standard, or define it more narrowly. England used to recognise it, but switched to a blunter definition two years ago. This was essentially a Westminster ploy to slash the figures and attracted widespread criticism. You can see from the graphic below that the situation has grown steadily worse since the 2002 announcement. Scotland in back in the same position as in 1996, the one previous year for which there are figures. The improvement at the turn of the century was due to things like increasing incomes and employment and energy efficiency programmes. Fuel poverty got worse again because of the recession and rising energy prices, and because of the poor condition of Scottish housing stock: 53% with disrepair to critical elements. Early schemes also targeted low-hanging fruit such as insulating buildings already in reasonable repair – and still largely do.
The Conversation 31st Oct 2016 read more »