The SNP has raised concerns over reports that nuclear material from the Dounreay nuclear power station in Caithness is being transported to Wick Airport. The party’s leader at Westminster, Angus Robertson, told the Commons it was believed the material would then be flown to the US. He raised the issue with Chancellor George Osborne, who was standing in for David Cameron at Prime Minister’s Questions. Mr Osborne said established procedures were in place for moving nuclear materials. Mr Robertson said: “There are growing reports in the north of Scotland about plans to transport dangerous nuclear material, including potentially nuclear weapons grade nuclear uranium, from the Dounreay nuclear facility on public roads to Wick Airport. It is believed it will then be flown to the United States.” Mr Robertson asked Mr Osborne what the material would be used for, and questioned whether the Chancellor or any of his colleagues had discussed it with any Scottish government minister.
BBC 9th Dec 2015 read more »
Press and Journal 10th Dec 2015 read more »
Brechin Advertiser 9th Dec 2015 read more »
DOUNREAY has confirmed its first batch of unused fuel from its Prototype Fast Reactor (PFR) has been successfully transported to Cumbria. The next phase of the programme to de-fuel Dounreay and transfer shipments to Sellafield is under way. The cargo is the latest fuel to be removed from Dounreay as part of a programme that started in 2001. The safe arrival of the first of the fuel from the PFR follows the successful completion earlier this year of the first phase of transports of breeder material from the Dounreay Fast Reactor (DFR) to Sellafield.
John O Groat Journal 8th Dec 2015 read more »
Mini-versions of current-generation nuclear reactors could be the solution for the industry’s problems in finding financing for new atomic power stations, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said on Wednesday. The construction of new reactors in developed countries has virtually ground to a halt in recent years due to safety fears following the 2011 Fukushima disaster and because nuclear projects struggle to find financing as they compete with cheaper natural gas and renewable energy. China is building dozens of reactors at home, and Russia has won nuclear contracts in developing nations with offers of cheap export credits, but in the United States and Europe, nuclear projects can be counted on the fingers of one hand. The sole major nuclear newbuild contract in Europe is for French EDF and Chinese utility CGN to build two reactors in Hinkley Point, Britain thanks to 35-year subsidies. Moniz said “small modular reactors” (SMR) – smaller versions of the light water reactors that are in operation in most nuclear plants worldwide – can be a solution to the industry’s financing problems.
Reuters 9th Dec 2015 read more »
The UK government’s decision to raise nuclear R&D spending and launch a Small Modular Reactor competition propels the UK towards the first Generic Design Assessment from around 2017 and the first commercial reactor in the late 2020s, industry experts said. UK Chancellor George Osborne announced November 25 a new range of measures to support the next generation of nuclear power plants which will include investment of at least GBP250 million in nuclear R&D over the next five years and the launch in early 2016 of a competition to identify the most cost efficient Small Modular Reactor (SMR) design. The measures, announced in the Autumn Spending Review, are a significant boost to the advanced nuclear industry and come as global SMR developers move towards cooperation with UK firms and the government to develop the first commercial reactors.
Nuclear Energy Insider 6th Dec 2015 read more »
Gordon Mackerron et al: What do the pre-Spending Review announcements from DECC – and the Review itself – mean for UK energy and climate change policy? The top technological priorities are plain: continuing commitment to nuclear power including large consumer subsidies for Hinkley C until around 2060, a new £250m to spend mostly on small modular reactors (SMR); and a reinforced commitment to shale gas development, including a new Shale Wealth Fund for the north of England. When security is seen through the lens of minimising import dependence, these are classic security-enhancing ideas. The long-held policy commitment to develop carbon capture and storage technology in the UK through a £1bn commercialisation programme fund has however now been abandoned. CCS was a major plank in the idea that the electricity system could be mostly decarbonised by 2030 and almost fully decarbonised by 2050 without too much pain in terms of rapid withdrawal from fossil fuels. These ambitions for the electricity system now look more remote. It is also worth looking at nuclear and shale from a quite different security perspective – the risk of delayed delivery. Large conventional reactors are proving hard enough to deliver. The Hinkley point reactors were originally due to help us cook Christmas turkeys by 2017, and now they might just do the same job by 2025. The third station down the line of EDF plans is now due to be Chinese-owned and Chinese-designed, and the politics of that are hardly going to be straightforward. The new commitment to SMRs means that there is now to be a competition to find the best design and build it in the 2020s. This timetable looks tight but could be technically feasible. But even if it is, one of the main advantages claimed for SMRs – proximity to urban areas to allow heat to be utilised – is subject to quite untested public acceptability. This means that the nuclear and fracking prongs of the Government’s security strategy are potentially not secure at all because of a high risk of late and limited delivery. Ironically the technologies now being reined in by policy – renewable energy and energy demand reductions – offer security both in the sense of being domestic, and in principle more deliverable because they attract relatively little public opposition and are, especially in the demand area, often cheap. They also of course offer major contributions to emission reductions.
SPRU 9th Dec 2015 read more »
Highly polluting diesel generators are set to earn tens of millions of pounds over the next few years by providing an alternative source of electricity to companies at peak times, according to a new analysis. Small diesel-generator farms already look set to be one of the big beneficiaries from this week’s auction of government subsidies to boost the supply of electricity. But a report from Frontier Economics estimates that these generators will also benefit significantly from other payments, for providing back-up power to companies when demand is highest. These payments gave an unfair advantage to diesel generators because, without them, they would not be able to undercut other electricity generators when bidding in the auction for public subsidies, Frontier argued.
FT 9th Dec 2015 read more »
France, the Netherlands and other countries will compete for the first time this week to supply emergency electricity to Britain, when the government holds an auction designed to guarantee enough power during periods of peak winter demand. The capacity market auction, which begins today, aims to secure 45 gigawatts of electricity for the winter of 2019-20 by paying generators that promise to supply back-up power at short notice. This year, the auction has been thrown open to the operators of four subsea power cables, pitting overseas generators against the operators of conventional power stations in the UK. It is the first time that foreign suppliers have been allowed to participate.
Times 8th Dec 2015 read more »
Open Utility is 9 staff strong and conducting their first real-life trial of their software, dubbed Piclo. Partnering with Good Energy – a UK utility – 24 renewable energy generators and 14 large commercial customers are participating in the trial, which is possibly a world first for such a concept. Via the Piclo website, a customer selects their generators in order of preference. Then, with matching based on 30 minute intervals, the customer can log-on to see exactly which generator is supplying them at any given moment. At the end of the month their electricity bill tells them exactly how much energy came from each generator. At the same time the generator can decide who to sell power to and whether to offer discounts or premiums to certain customers. Genius!
Renew Economy 10th Dec 2015 read more »
Almost 3.5 million have switched electricity supplier so far this year – which is already higher than the same period in both 2014 and 2013. The latest electricity switching data also shows 113,780 customers switched to smaller suppliers in November, which is above average at 29% of all switches for the month. By July this year, there were a total of 29 companies selling at least one energy source to household customers – also an all time high.
Scottish Energy News 10th Dec 2015 read more »
French utility EDF is to lose its place in France’s blue-chip CAC 40 stock index, ceding the prized slot to Klépierre, the real estate investment company. The change, which will come into effect on December 21, ends a 10-year run by the electricity generator and distributor in the country’s top flight of listed companies. In a statement, state-controlled EDF put its exit down to the fact that the French state holds about 85 per cent of its share capital, severely limiting its free float — one of several factors an independent steering committee responsible for reviewing CAC 40’s members looks at when making its regular reviews. But it is no secret that EDF’s stock has performed poorly this year on the back of falling energy prices, rising competition as well as the high cost of maintaining its nuclear power plants. EDF needs €55bn to cover upgrades to its nuclear power plants in the coming years and £18bn for the construction of two plants in the UK.
FT 8th Dec 2015 read more »
Critics of a multibillion-dollar program to convert excess U.S. weapons-grade plutonium into fuel for commercial nuclear reactors under a 2000 treaty with Russia have seized on a newly disclosed report to renew calls for an end to the project. The fiscal 2016 defense authorization law includes $345 million in funding for a plant under construction at the DOE’s Savannah River site in South Carolina, which will take 34 metric tons of plutonium and mix it with uranium to form safer mix-oxide (MOX) fuel pellets for use in commercial nuclear reactors. Congress must still appropriate the funding authorized in the law, but supporters say they do not expect any issues. Critics argue the MOX project should be halted after years of delays and cost increases, even though any changes could jeopardize one of the few agreements with Russia that is still running smoothly. Francie Israel with the National Nuclear Security Administration said the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) was continuing work on the project for now, but several analyses had shown that diluting the plutonium and disposing of it at a site in New Mexico would cost less than half of the MOX approach. Russia has its own program to eliminate 34 metric tons of plutonium. A previously undisclosed report completed by privately-held Aerospace Corp for DOE in August concluded that diluting and disposing of the plutonium – or downblending – was the least technically complex of several alternatives and had the lowest cost risk since no new facilities were required.
Reuters 8th Dec 2015 read more »
Mayor of Reading Councillor Sarah Hacker opened the new office of the Nuclear Information Service last week. The group researches, investigates, monitors and reports on the atomic weapons establishments at Aldermaston and Burghfield as well as nuclear weapons convoys between Berkshire and Faslane nuclear submarine base in Scotland and related safety and environmental issues. It has moved from its office in Southampton Street which is to be redeveloped to a new office at Reading International Solidarity Centre in London Street in Katesgrove .
Get Reading 9th Dec 2015 read more »
A nuclear windfall is up for grabs. China plans to almost triple its atomic power generation by the end of the decade and is forecast to spend $1 trillion to expand capacity by 2050. Westinghouse Electric Co. says its latest model will trump a mainland rival, the Hualong One, designed by the country’s largest nuclear operators. The Pennsylvania-based company, which will fire up its first AP1000 reactor in China in 2016 after years of delays, is seeking a foothold in the world’s largest energy consumer just as President Xi Jinping tries to nurture homegrown technology while shifting away from more polluting fossil fuels. Westinghouse is promoting the new unit as the safest and most efficient available.
Bloomberg 9th Dec 2015 read more »
Rosatom has stopped construction work at Turkey’s first nuclear power plant, Turkish energy officials said on Wednesday, as relations between Moscow and Ankara continue to worsen after the downing of a Russian jet. State-owned Rosatom has not terminated the contract for the building of the $20 billion project and is reluctant to do so because of the heavy compensation clauses, energy officials said. However, Turkey is already assessing other potential candidates for the project, the officials told Reuters. The possible cancellation of the project is unlikely to have any impact on Turkey’s immediate energy supplies, as the planned nuclear power plant was not seen coming online before 2022 and had already run into delays due to regulatory hurdles and Moscow’s financial woes.
Reuters 9th Dec 2015 read more »
ITER, the elusive and multi-million dollar fusion fantasy, was yet another nuclear chimera introduced at the Paris COP21 climate talks as a ‘solution’ to our climate crisis, writes Linda Pentz Gunter. But the idea is pure fantasy: long before it can be made to work, if it ever can, it will have been made obsolete by harnessing the power of our giant fusion reactor in the sky: the Sun.
Ecologist 9th Dec 2015 read more »
North Korea claims to have developed a new kind of nuclear weapon to add to its arsenal – the hydrogen bomb. It is still unclear whether the latest claim of Kim Jong-un is a gimmick or a real threat.
IB Times 10th Dec 2015 read more »
During a meeting in the Kremlin, Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told the President that Kalibr cruise missiles had been fired by the Rostov-on-Don submarine from the Mediterranean Sea for the first time. President Putin said the new cruise missiles could also be equipped with nuclear warheads – but that he hoped they would “never be needed”. According to Russia Today, he said: “We must [analyse] everything happening on the battlefield, how the weapons operate. “The Kalibrs (sea-based cruise missiles) and KH-101 (airborne cruise missile) have proved to be modern and highly effective, and now we know it for sure – precision weapons that can be equipped with both conventional and special warheads, which are nuclear. “Naturally, this is not necessary when fighting terrorists and, I hope, will never be needed.”
Independent 9th Dec 2015 read more »
Russia ‘refuses to rule out use of nuclear weapons in fight against ISIS’.
Mirror 10th Dec 2015 read more »
Daily Mail 9th Dec 2015 read more »
Renewables – VAT
The government has shocked the renewable energy industry by proposing a massive hike in VAT on solar panels and wind turbines from next summer. The moves, announced by the revenue and customs authority, HMRC, made “a mockery of (David) Cameron’s claims to climate leadership” say critics and come amid proposed cuts of almost 90% in some solar subsidies. HMRC blamed the planned increase in VAT from 5-20% on a European commission ruling covering energy saving materials used in the construction trade and said the EC decision had been upheld by the court of justice of the EU. But the UK tax authorities stoked anger within the industry by claiming the changes would do little damage. “The measure is likely to affect fewer than 500,000 individuals and households and the impact … is anticipated to be negligible,” it wrote in a consultation document released on Wednesday. The Solar Trade Association (STA), lobby group for the photovoltaic sector, said it was an astonishing and avoidable blow that could add £900 to a typical domestic rooftop installation and would only serve to suck even more potential investment from low carbon power.
Guardian 9th Dec 2015 read more »
Currently homeowners only pay 5% VAT when installing a solar PV or solar thermal hot water heating system as opposed to the standard rate of 20% VAT on other goods and services. However the UK Government has put forward a proposal to increase this to 20% – which would add £900 to the cost of a typical 4kW domestic solar power installation, which is currently around £6,400. The Treasury consultation stems from an EU court ruling that the current reduced rate of VAT for solar and other energy saving products in the UK violates the Brussels VAT Directive as they cannot be considered a ‘renovation to a property’.
Scottish Energy News 10th Dec 2015 read more »
Renewables – Scotland
The Scottish renewables energy sector is ‘in the dark and in disarray’, an industry chief has told Energy MPs in the Scottish Parliament. The extent to which the Scottish renewables industry has been damaged by recent UK Government policies was the subject of a Holyrood evidence session. Giving evidence to the Energy and Enterprise committee in the Scottish Parliament of the extent of damage caused by UK government policy, the head of Scottish Renewables, said: “The various cuts, delays and removals of support schemes for the renewable energy industry has, in many ways, left the sector in disarray.”
Scottish Energy News 10th Dec 2015 read more »
A new £352bn coalition of investors including large insurer Aviva and major public and private funds in the UK, Norway and France has been launched to put pressure on some of the world’s biggest corporations to clean up their electricity sources. Aviva Investors – the £267bn arm of one of the UK’s biggest insurers – is one of 20 founding members of the initiative, which launches on Wednesday in Paris as negotiators at UN climate talks work against the clock to thrash out a new deal on limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Other members include the French public sector fund ERAFP, Norway’s largest private pension fund KLP and Strathclyde pension fund, one of the UK’s largest public pension funds. The investors will call on the biggest companies on the stock exchange to switch to using 100% renewable electricity, by making a public pledge to join the RE100 campaign, which works to increase corporate demand for clean energy. Businesses joining set their own targets for transitioning to 100% renewable electricity.
Guardian 9th Dec 2015 read more »
The UK’s fifth-biggest bank has today (8 December) announced a new project that will see 800 of its UK branches fitted with more than 90,000 LED lights in a £17.5m retrofit lighting investment. Both the UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) and Sustainable Development Capital Limited (SDCL) have invested £8.4m in the lighting project which will see Santander cut emissions by approximately 7,000 tonnes annually.
Edie 9th Dec 2015 read more »
Tayside Health Board is to spend £15.4 million on building a new renewable power generator and energy-efficient ‘green’ lightbulbs. Yet this will shave just 10% off the board’s annual utility bills. The new energy centre at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee will provide 90% of the power and 100% of the heat for Ninewells, which also houses Tayside Children’s Hospital and Maggie’s Cancer Centre Dundee. In addition, LED-lighting and insulation will be installed at Perth Royal Infirmary and Stracathro Hospital near Brechin as part of the project. A 25-year performance contract has been signed with Vital Energi, which was procured under the Carbon Energy Fund (CEF) framework. Vital will be responsible for the design, construction, installation and on-going operation and maintenance of the technology for the duration of that agreement.
Scottish Energy News 10th Dec 2015 read more »
COP21 Urban Legends: Bold Mayors Remaking the World One City at a Time. More than two thousand cities around the world are taking proactive steps to lift their economies and lower greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a perfect example of thinking globally and acting locally.
Green TV 8th Dec 2015 read more »
Britain and other rich countries face demands for $3.5 trillion (£2.3 trillion) in payments to developing nations to secure a deal in Paris to curb global warming. Developing countries have added a clause to the latest draft of the text under which they would be paid the “full costs” of meeting plans to cut emissions. An analysis of plans published by 73 developing countries shows that they want $3.5 trillion by 2030. India alone is seeking $2.5 trillion, according to the website Carbon Brief. The amount paid by rich countries is a key unresolved issue at the climate conference in Paris, which is supposed to end tomorrow. The latest version of the text has more than 360 points of disagreement.
Times 10th Dec 2015 read more »