As if things were not bad enough for the prospect of completing constructions of the ailing European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) design, things have now gotten worse with the discovery of a serious flaw in the reactor design. This threatens the future of the already very late EPR at Flamanville in France, but also may threaten the completion of two (also late) EPRs being built in Taishan, China, the disastrously late plant at Olikuoto Finland and the increasingly unlikely plans for a twin reactor for Hinkley C in the UK (see previous blog post). This is because the company that produced the faulty reactor also makes parts for the other EPRs. According to Reuters the French nuclear regulators (ASN) have been told that tests ‘had shown that in certain zones of the reactor vessel and cover of the EPR there was a significant concentration of carbon, which weakens the mechanical resilience of the steel and its ability to resist the spreading of cracks……AREVA (the French state owned nuclear constructors) ‘declined to comment on whether the tests would lead to new delays for Flamanville and impact three other EPRs under construction, one in Olkiluoto, Finland, two in Taishan, China.’
Dave Toke’s Blog 9th April 2015 read more »
Letter Ian Fairlie: Kevin Coyne of Unite union needs to update his thinking (Hinkley Point C nuclear project workers face layoff, 3 April). First, Britain has no “growing energy needs”: UK electricity demand has declined 14% since 2000, while GDP has increased 18%. Second, although temporary site-clearing workers will be laid off, is this a reason for continuing with a grossly uneconomic project that UK banks, international funding agencies, other UK energy companies, and foreign governments are steering well clear of? For more jobs, Coyne should look to Germany whose non-nuclear energy policies have resulted in 440,000 direct jobs in its burgeoning renewable energy industries in recent years. Wouldn’t it be nice to have 440,000 new jobs here? It’s about time the union movement looked to the future than the past on energy policy. And the Labour party too. I write as a union man, a former TUC research officer.
Guardian 9th April 2015 read more »
NUGEN – the consortium behind a planned nuclear power station – is setting up an information centre in Whitehaven Civic Hall. The information centre, says the consortium, will play a key role in the forthcoming public consultation around NuGen’s proposed Moorside project – a three-reactor plant on land next to Sellafield. The Moorside Information Centre, which will be opened in time for the launch of the 10-week public consultation in mid-May, will include a staffed, continuous exhibition where visitors will be able to access information about the project, ask questions and register their comments.
Whitehaven News 9th April 2015 read more »
BANNG has written to all prospective parliamentary candidates in the constituencies affected by Bradwell: Clacton; Colchester; Harwich and North Essex; Maldon; and Witham. Here is the message that has been sent.
BANNG 9th April 2015 read more »
Some nuclear industry commentators seem to think that delays at Hinkley Point C will boost the argument for building small modular reactors in Britain. In reality the industry is trying to find a silver lining to the cloud which is hanging over it, and using the problems of its own making to squeeze even more funds out of the hard pressed taxpayer. The trouble is that in developing its crazier future nuclear scenarios the UK Government is failing to develop alternative non-nuclear scenarios to replace them when they turn out to have been a delusion, which they surely will.
No2 Nuclear Power 9th April 2015 read more »
The delay in progressing with Britain’s nuclear power plant programme is leading to calls for a move towards developing small modular reactors instead. With Hinkley Point’s development seemingly postponed for at least the next couple of months, engineering business and industry experts are pressing the government to fund research into the smaller models that could be built in the UK and taken from factory to site on the back of a lorry. The government has agreed to study the feasibility of the technology after a committee of MPs called for more research in March. In contrast to the £24.5bn required for Hinkley Point, earmarked to open in 2023, an SMR could cost less than £1bn. Each unit would have up to 300 MW power and several could be deployed together to create mini-power stations. The two Areva reactors being installed at Hinkley have capacity of 1650MW. Sheffield University has already begun work with Nuscale, a US company, on a design.
Penn Energy 8th April 2015 read more »
The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) notes today that the Sellafield Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant – or THORP – shortly reaches its 21st birthday. The THORP facility is a salutary exercise in some of the failings of the UK nuclear industry and of the over-ambitious claims that continue to be made about nuclear power.
NFLA 9th April 2015 read more »
Parts of the Taishan 1 and 2 nuclear reactors under construction in China were made by the same manufacturer that supplied the reactor vessel of EDF’s EPR in Normandy where anomalies were found, French nuclear watchdog ASN said on Wednesday.Creusot Forge, a subsidiary of French state-owned group Areva, made some steel parts for the two Chinese reactors using techniques similar to those for the French EPR in Flamanville, where weak spots were found, the ASN said. Tests at Flamanville in late 2014 showed that certain zones of the reactor vessel and cover had a significant concentration of carbon, which weakens the mechanical resilience of the steel and its ability to resist the spreading of cracks. The pressure vessel of the other EPR under construction, Finland’s Olkiluoto 3, is not affected as it was made by another manufacturer, the ASN said in a statement, confirming an earlier statement by Finnish utility TVO.
Reuters 8th April 2015 read more »
Japan – Fukushima
Tainted water from Fukushima nuclear plant storage may be evaporated or stored underground instead of following earlier plans to release it into the ocean. Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), which is responsible for cleaning up the crippled power plant, planned to release the tritium-laced water into the ocean. However, it suffered a setback following protests by local fishermen who are already struggling with their livelihood following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that led to the meltdown of three reactors. Water is used to keep the wrecked reactors cool enough to prevent further radioactive releases, but there is no available technology to remove the tritium. Chief decommissioning officer Naohiro Masuda, told Reuters he did not know when a final decision about evaporation would be made.
Russia Today 9th April 2015 read more »
The government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. are studying three different plans to remove melted nuclear fuel from reactors at the crippled Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant, it has been learned. The Yomiuri Shimbun obtained a draft outline of an operation road map as well as a strategic plan on technical methods concerning the removal of melted fuel rods in reactors Nos. 1 to 3. One of the options involves filling reactors with water. The other two methods don’t involve filling them completely with water because repairing possible leaks in the reactors could be difficult. The best approach among the three will be determined by the first half of fiscal 2018. The government and TEPCO were to present the draft outline at a meeting to be held in Fukushima Prefecture on Thursday. A final draft will then be compiled based on the opinions of local residents, marking the second time for the road map to be revised following the first revision in June 2013.
Japan Times 9th April 2015 read more »
French Nuclear Safety Authorities reveal EPR’s vulnerability as Modi visits France to advance nuclear purchase The French nuclear safety regulator ASN has reported extremely serious defects in the European Pressurized Reactor being built at Flamanville (France) by the French nuclear company Areva. The detected defects have to do with substandard material used in crucial components, the bottom and the lid of the EPR pressure vessel, the very heart of the reactor. These components cannot be repaired once the reactor goes critical.
Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace 9th April 2015 read more »
Restarting progress on the Jaitapur nuclear power plant in India will be high on the list of discussion points between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande, according to media reports. Modi’s first trip to Europe as prime minister includes a stop in France that begins Thursday. The Jaitapur project stalled due to a gap between the two sides on the cost of power produced at the proposed nuclear power station. An agreement for a 9900 MW power plant envisioned construction of the world’s largest nuclear power plant in terms of net electric power rating. Agreements were signed in December 2010 by the leaders’ predecessors Manmohan Singh and Nicolas Sarkozy for the first phase of the construction project and for a 25-year supply agreement of nuclear fuel. A $9.3 billion contract was signed by French nuclear power giant Areva S.A. and the state-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India. Plans call for construction of six 1,650-megawatt European Pressurized Reactors designed by Areva. The land for the facility, 2,000 hectares, was purchased by the Indian government in 2010.
Nuclear Street 7th April 2015 read more »
US – radwaste
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid hasn’t left office yet, but one of his signature achievements — keeping the nation’s radioactive nuclear waste from being stored in his home state of Nevada — is already showing signs of decay. A congressional delegation spent Thursday touring Yucca Mountain, suggesting there may be new life for the proposed nuclear-waste disposal facility located 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, a facility that was mothballed by President Obama in 2010 after being blocked for years by Mr. Reid. The 75-year-old Mr. Reid announced March 27 that he would retire instead of seeking a sixth term in 2016. With Mr. Obama leaving office at the same time, those who support — or at least want to consider — building the underground storage bunker are taking advantage of the looming power vacuum.
Washington Times 9th April 2015 read more »
IRAN’S Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei declared yesterday that he was “neither for nor against” a nuclear agreement put together last week by international negotiators in Switzerland. And the country’s President Hassan Rouhani said that Iran wouldn’t sign any accord over the country’s nuclear energy programme unless all sanctions linked to it were lifted immediately.
Morning Star 10th April 2015 read more »
IT IS not yet a done deal. Hardliners on both sides will do their best to sabotage it in the coming weeks. Yet the odds on Iran and six world powers striking a big nuclear deal have shortened dramatically. The announcement on April 2nd of the parameters for an agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear programme (claimed by the Iranians to be peaceful), in exchange for lifting sanctions, was more detailed than expected. But several unresolved issues mean there will be much hard negotiating to be done if a deal is to be signed by the June 30th deadline.
Economist 11th April 2015 read more »
From predictions of nuclear ‘break-out’ to monitoring for ‘sneak-out’, scientific expertise is central to the success of the preliminary accord.
Nature 9th April 2015 read more »
The eruption of nuclear weapons into today’s election campaign should ignite a real debate over the UK’s Trident missile system, writes Oliver Tickell. The notion that the UK is more secure with nuclear weapons than without is a dangerous illusion. The truth is the reverse – they are far more likely to make the UK a nuclear target, than to protect it.
Ecologist 9th April 2015 read more »
The key decision on whether or not to replace the submarines that carry the Trident nuclear weapons system will have to be made almost immediately by the next UK government. Production contracts for the next generation of submarines are due to be awarded some time in 2016. That makes the political decisions made after May 7 central to whether the UK remains in the exclusive nuclear weapons club for the long term. While all the parties involved in this election seem to have firm – and rather varied – positions on Trident, none is likely to engender meaningful change. It is highly likely that the Vanguard submarines that carry the Trident nuclear-armed missiles will be replaced. Ultimately, opposition from the SNP or anyone else might come to very little. Had the Scottish referendum resulted in independence, the Trident base at Faslane could well have been lost, but that is no longer the issue.
The Conversation 10th April 2015 read more »
Is renewing the Trident nuclear programme necessary for UK defence in the modern world?
City AM 10th April 2015 read more »
A furious war of words erupted over the future of the UK’s nuclear weapons yesterday after the Conservatives confirmed they would build four new Trident missile-carrying submarines.
Press and Journal 10th April 2015 read more »
Daily Star 10th April 2015 read more »
What is the Trident row about? A guide to the politics surrounding Britain’s nuclear deterrent.
ITV 9th April 2015 read more »
Former Labour foreign minister Kim Howells has warned that the threat of nuclear proliferation is likely to return “with a vengeance” with Iran moving closer to getting a bomb. The issue of nuclear weapons has jumped up the political agenda with Defence Secretary Michael Fallon confirming a new Conservative government would go ahead with the construction of four new Trident nuclear missile submarines. He claimed Ed Miliband would “stab the United Kingdom in the back” over the renewal of Trident.
Wales Online 9th April 2015 read more »
To many in the defence industry, the election row over Britain’s nuclear deterrent carries all the hallmarks of a passing storm — for the moment at least. “Both parties have been relatively clear that they support renewing the Trident nuclear programme,” says one defence industry insider. “In principle they have all signed up to this. Everyone thinks we are still on track.”
FT 9th April 2015 read more »
Prof Keith Barnham: Would Larry Elliot take advice from a butcher about a vegetarian diet? He quotes data “helpfully provided” by BP that the renewables can supply only 20% of energy demand by 2035. My book, The Burning Answer: A User’s Guide to the Solar Revolution, discusses the evidence from Germany that the UK could have an all-renewable electricity supply well before that date. The renewables can also greatly reduce the demand for natural gas for heating. German experience has shown that wind, solar and biogas can reliably meet electricity demand 24/7, all year. Their contributions are already reducing the wholesale price of German electricity. I doubt the BP report contains that information.
Guardian 9th April 2015 read more »
Renewables – solar
A SECOND solar park is being proposed for the Egremont area. David and John Hewitson in the fields where the solar park may be built Farmers John and David Hewitson, want to build a 50 acre solar park on their land, near Thornhill. A separate plan for a 44 acre solar park near Bigrigg and Woodend is currently being processed by Copeland Council.
Whitehaven News 9th April 2015 read more »
Newly-announced funding includes a new £14 million loans scheme which will offer homeowners interest-free loans of up to £10,000 for energy efficiency measures. The Scottish Government will also launch the next phase of its Cashback scheme which will see £10 million made available to homeowners and private tenants, and £5 million for social landlords. Through the scheme private sector households will be able to claim up to £5,800 for installations recommended by an energy advice report, and households in remote areas will be entitled to greater amounts to cover the increased costs they face. In 2014/15 1,700 social landlord tenants benefitted from the Cashback scheme while it delivered 4,000 energy efficiency measures to 3,400 households in the private sector.
Scottish Energy News 10th April 2015 read more »
The Sonnenspeicher starts with a set of off-the-shelf Lithium-Iron-Phosphate batteries. Walter says they’re the best out there. But the potentially world-changing difference is his special sauce — a proprietary mix of electronics and software that maximize the batteries’ efficiency and lifespan and micromanages the flow of electricity between the solar panels, the batteries and the grid so that as much of it as possible stays onsite, stored in the batteries and released only when needed.
PRI 6th April 2015 read more »
A rebounding economy will lead to greater demand, rising electricity rates and falling costs tied to technology — especially energy storage devices that could facilitate the use of rooftop solar panels. For utilities, that means fewer grid connected customers and possible declines in revenue of $35 billion a year. That’s according to a study by Snowmass, Colo.-based Rocky Mountain Institute, which concludes solar-plus-battery systems will escalate, albeit the pace of that rise is contingent on the regulatory framework that states establish. It’s a follow up to an examination released a year ago in which the institute concluded that the trend toward more rooftop solar electricity, or distributed generation, is conditioned on more affordable and reliable battery technologies.
Forbes 7th April 2015 read more »
Today Rocky Mountain Institute released The Economics of Load Defection, a new report that analyzes how grid-connected solar-plus-battery systems will become cost competitive with traditional retail electric service; why it matters to financiers, regulators, utilities, and other electricity system stakeholders; and possible paths forward for the evolution of the electricity grid.
RMI 7th April 2015 read more »
The amount of radioactive material in Pennsylvania homes has increased alongside the state’s fracking boom, according to a new study published Thursday in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. Researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health asserted that levels of radon — a odorless, carcinogenic, radioactive gas — have been on the rise in Pennsylvania homes since 2004, around the same time the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) began rapidly increasing the number of permits it issued for unconventional gas drilling. There had been no similar increases in indoor radon concentrations prior to 2004, the study said.
Climate Progress 9th April 2015 read more »
Residents of charming villages near Gatwick face another threat to their tranquillity that could make the airport’s proposed new runway pale into insignificance. If a small exploration company’s claims are correct, they are living above a giant oilfield comparable to those under the North Sea. UK Oil & Gas Investments (UKOG) said yesterday that there could be up to 100 billion barrels of oil under southern England. The North Sea has produced 45 billion barrels since 1975.
Times 10th April 2015 read more »