More than 300 North Somerset businesses have shown interest in working on Hinkley Point C. The £18billion nuclear project received a boost in October after an agreement was signed between EDF Energy and its Chinese partner. Around 370 North Somerset companies have now registered an interest on working on Hinkley, near Bridgwater. Somerset County Council predicts Hinkley C will provide around 25,000 jobs during its construction, and 900 jobs in its 60-year operating life.
Weston Mercury 9th Dec 2016 read more »
Permanent housing rather than temporary camps could be on the cards for thousands of workers set to build the Moorside nuclear power station.
Whitehaven News 9th Dec 2016 read more »
The Pile Fuel Cladding Silo at Sellafield is “a step closer to being cleaned up” thanks to the installation of six 12.4 tonne stainless steel doors designed to open the building’s ‘locked vaults’. The silo is one of the ‘big four’ legacy facilities at the Sellafield site in Cumbria, England.
World Nuclear News 9th Dec 2016 read more »
A series of new battery power-storage plants and two small new gas power stations will be built in the UK following the award of subsidies designed to bolster energy supply and head off the threat of shortages. But government hopes of an ambitious “dash for gas” were dealt another blow after this week’s auction of subsidies to build backup capacity for Britain’s energy network. No new gas power station of a significant scale won a subsidy contract in the bidding process, where companies and technologies competed to provide backup power for the lowest price during the winter of 2020-21. However, the British Gas owner, Centrica, won support for a small-scale gas power plant to be built by 2019 at King’s Lynn in Norfolk. An extension will also be added to US company InterGen’s gas plant in Spalding, Lincolnshire. Analysts at Barclays banking group said: “Overall we believe the auction will largely be viewed as a disappointment by the UK government in terms of securing the significant levels of new gas generation capacity they hoped for in order to ensure security of supply.”
Guardian 9th Dec 2016 read more »
Britain will pay almost £130m in subsidies to keep dirty old coal plants running through the winter of 2020-21, after they proved a cheaper option for keeping the lights on than building big new gas plants. The Government on Friday awarded £1.2bn of subsidy contracts through its capacity market auction to companies that could help ensure Britain has the power it needs in four years’ time at the lowest cost. The subsidies, the lion’s share of which went to existing gas, coal and nuclear plants, will cost a typical household £14 on their energy bill in 2020. However, ministers estimate the scheme will also save households £12 in wholesale energy costs by avoiding price spikes that could have been seen if power supplies ran low. The Government is keen to see new gas plants built as a cleaner replacement for old coal plants, which it wants to shut by 2025. It hailed the capacity market as a success after securing the construction of two mid-sized gas plants, as well as a raft of new battery storage projects. But analysts at Barclays said they believed the auction “will largely be viewed as a disappointment by the UK government in terms of securing the significant levels of new gas generation capacity they hoped for”.
Telegraph 9th Dec 2016 read more »
Some of Britain’s most polluting power stations will receive a share of more than £150 million of public money paid to meet peak winter demand. Coal-fired generators including the big Drax plant in North Yorkshire and RWE’s Aberthaw plant in south Wales are among the winners of contracts in the government’s annual auction for back-up electricity supplies for 2020-21, despite plans to shut them by 2026 to reduce carbon emissions. Elderly coal plants and small, polluting diesel generators will receive £154 million from the auction, the results of which were announced yesterday. Neil Clitheroe, global retail director at ScottishPower, which has called for higher investment in large new gas plants, criticised the favouring of dirty, ageing plants over investment in cleaner, gas-burning stations.
Times 10th Dec 2016 read more »
The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) has submitted today to the UK Government its views on a discussion paper considering how civil nuclear sites are delicensed as full decommissioned concludes. The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Department has published a discussion paper on what the process should be to move nuclear sites from nuclear regulatory to environmental regulatory and eventually likely local authority control. This process is likely to require changes in nuclear legislation, in particular the 1965 Nuclear Installations Act. Some sites like Winfrith, Trawsfynydd and Dounreay are just a few years away from beginning the full decommissioning process in earnest, with other nuclear sites close behind them. The three environmental regulators for England, Scotland and Wales have earlier this year consulted on how the regulatory regime will have to change and the BEIS discussion paper links to it be considering its impact on nuclear legislation and how the process may develop. The five key conclusions in the NFLA response to the discussion paper are: There is a danger that what is being proposed will simply be seen as turning nuclear sites into nuclear dumps as a way of saving money. The concept of “optimisation” which is decided by the operator and regulators making value judgements needs to be replaced with the concept of the Best Practicable Environmental Option which uses a systematic, consultative and decision making procedure. Any part of a nuclear site upon which it is proposed to allow unrestricted use must be able to show that doses to members of the public will be of the order of 0.01mSv or less per year. Using a risk factor in conjunction with probability of receiving a dose is too flexible and unacceptable. Any waste left on-site much be concentrated and contained in a monitorable, retrievable store. Former nuclear operators should remain liable for any future unexpected events and should also be liable to pay for any regulatory effort in perpetuity.
NFLA 9th Dec 2016 read more »
The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) All Ireland Forum has read with interest the Environment Protection Agency’s report on health and environmental impacts from a major accident to the Sellafield facility, and has real concerns about it in a number of key areas. This second EPA report follows on from an earlier report of the economic impacts of a nuclear accident affecting Ireland. It noted in the worst case scenario an accident could cost Ireland €161 billion. The EPA report, ‘Potential radiological impact on Ireland of postulated severe accidents at Sellafield’, assessed the potential radiological impact on Ireland of a range of severe hypothetical accident scenarios at the Sellafield nuclear fuel reprocessing plant. It notes that the hypothetical accident scenarios studied were those identified in a risk assessment of Sellafield commissioned by the Irish Government as having the greatest potential to have an impact on Ireland. The report found that for each of the accident scenarios that were considered, the predicted radiation doses were found to be below the levels which would give rise to sheltering, relocation or the evacuation of people being required. The EPA does though note that without appropriate food controls, significant radiation doses could occur in the year following the accident through the consumption of contaminated foods. The EPA notes that Ireland’s National Emergency Plan for Nuclear Accidents (NEPNA) would introduce food controls and on-farm measures, as appropriate, to reduce radiation doses from this pathway and ensure all food for sale is safe to eat. The EPA asserts that this highlights the importance of the introduction of effective food controls as highlighted in NEPNA. EPA argue that while protective actions have been shown to be very effective in controlling radioactivity levels in foods for sale, and hence radiation doses to people, they do have significant socio-economic implications and costs. The NFLA’s representative to the EPA’s Radiation Issues Committee, Paul Dorfman, has considered the report. He first notes that the EPA Report is actually based on a risk assessment developed by the Sellafield site. He also notes that: The report does not take into consideration the key issue – the so-called ‘beyond design-based cascading accidents’ – involved in all major nuclear accidents so far.
NFLA 9th Dec 2016 read more »
Seaborne radiation from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster has been detected on Oregon shores, researchers say. Seawater samples from Tillamook Bay and Gold Beach indicate radiation from the nuclear disaster but at extremely low levels not harmful to humans or the environment.
CBS News 9th Dec 2016 read more »
Fish contaminated by radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan have been detected 6,000 miles away of the US west coast. Salmon carrying traces of caesium 134 particles – the so-called fingerprint of the Fukushima – were found by researchers in the seas off Oregon.
Mirror 9th Dec 2016 read more »
The Paris prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into the suspected falsifying of documents at Areva’s Le Creusot foundry that manufactures parts for nuclear reactors, a judicial source said on Thursday. The case, which alleges forgery, use of forged documents, endangerment of lives and aggravated deception, will be put in the hands of the police, the source said. French nuclear safety regulator ASN said in October that it had asked the courts to step in to investigate after nuclear group Areva sounded the alarm in May over documentation irregularities involving 6,000 nuclear component manufacturing files. Thousands of such documents used in the French nuclear sector dating back to 1965 are being looked at. “We have not been informed (of the investigation) at this point,” a spokeswoman for Areva told Reuters, adding that the group would cooperate with the investigation and hand over all information at its disposal. The discovery of weak spots in the reactor vessel of the EPR reactor under construction in Flamanville in 2014 led Areva to review manufacturing procedures at its Creusot steel forging plant. ASN said in September that Areva had identified 87 irregularities related to reactors operated by state utility EDF, 20 concerning equipment for the Flamanville reactor, and one related to a steam generator for EDF’s 900 MW Gravelines 5 reactor on halt since April.
Reuters 8th Dec 2016 read more »
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. are making final arrangements to invest tens of billions of yen in atomic energy company Areva, which is being bailed out by the French government, sources close to the matter said Thursday. Through the investment, the heavy machinery manufacturer and the spent-fuel reprocessing firm hope to improve technical cooperation with Areva on decommissioning reactors and reprocessing nuclear fuel. Areva has been reeling from weak global demand since the 2011 Fukushima disaster triggered a slump in the nuclear power industry. Areva is being bailed out by the French government, which has been asking Mitsubishi Heavy to invest since last year.
Japan Times 8th Dec 2016 read more »
President-elect Donald Trump’s advisers are looking at ways in which the U.S. government could help nuclear power generators being forced out of the electricity market by cheaper natural gas and renewable resources. In a document obtained by Bloomberg, Trump’s transition team asked the Energy Department how it can help keep nuclear reactors “operating as part of the nation’s infrastructure” and what it could do to prevent the shutdown of plants. Advisers also asked the agency whether there were statutory restrictions in resuming work on Yucca Mountain, a proposed federal depository for nuclear waste in Nevada that was abandoned by the Obama administration.
Bloomberg 9th Dec 2016 read more »
Trump team memo hints at big shake-up of US energy policy.
Energy Voice 10th Dec 2016 read more »
The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) welcomes the 2016 report of the International Coalition to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) / Pax Netherlands which considers in much detail the financial institutions providing support for the development of nuclear weapons around the world. The report, ‘Don’t Bank on the Bomb’, considers financial investments and support for the 27 private companies that manage, maintain or help to develop nuclear weapons for the existing nuclear weapon states.
NFLA 9th Dec 2016 read more »
Renewables – solar
How much electricity do we get back from the large amounts of energy invested in making solar panels? An impressively detailed paper from researchers at the University of Utrecht provides some answers to this crucial question. In short, conventional PV modules made next year will achieve ‘energy payback’ in not much more than a year. Some of the press commentary on the new article in Nature Communications focuses on this benign impact of solar and the scope for continuing improvements in energy use. Other writers took a very different tack. Instead of focusing on the rapid payback on the energy invested in the manufacturing processes of today, the journalists chose to concentrate on the much higher inputs in the past. This makes solar look less good. The headline on Ben Webster’s article in the London Times was ‘Solar panels less green than you think, say experts’. An anti-renewables US website’s headline was ‘Solar power actually made global warming worse, says new study’.
Carbon Commentary 8th Dec 2016 read more »
This week’s Micro Power News.
Microgen Scotland 9th Dec 2016 read more »
Storage projects have landed more than 3.2GW of contracts in the provisional Capacity Market auction results, around 500MW of which has been allocated to new-build battery storage projects. This week’s auction secured around 52GW of electricity capacity for the winter 2020/21 period and storage – competing for extended 15-year contracts for the first time – landed more than 6% of the total allocated capacity. Most notably four of the battery projects previously successful within National Grid’s Enhanced Frequency Response (EFR) tender also gained 15-year contracts as new build generators in this week’s Capacity Market auction, further endorsing their application for grid stability.
Solar Power Portal 9th Dec 2016 read more »
In a big step forward for green energy, the government has said that low-carbon batteries will play a role in balancing the national grid for the first time. About 500MW of battery storage will come online by 2020-21, it said, helping to assure electricity supply at times of high demand. It follows a market-wide capacity auction that also saw agreements signed with gas and coal-power providers. Gareth Miller of energy research group Cornwall said the success of batteries in this year’s auction was a “significant step”. “It may represent only a fraction of total capacity but I think the role of batteries is only going to grow. And lithium ion batteries are a much cleaner way of storing electricity.
BBC 9th Dec 2016 read more »
Battery storage plants will be given UK government subsidies to provide electricity when supplies run low in a breakthrough for a technology considered crucial to the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Several storage facilities – which absorb surplus electricity at times of excess generation and release it when needed – won contracts with National Grid, the UK power system operator, in its latest auction of subsidies for back-up capacity. The 500 megawatts of new storage projects procured in the auction – equivalent to a medium-sized thermal power station – is by far the biggest uptake of battery technology so far by National Grid and highlights the rapid change under way in Britain’s energy sector. The ability to store electricity is seen as critical to helping balance supply and demand in the power system as reliable but dirty fossil fuels are gradually replaced with clean but volatile wind and solar generation.
FT 9th Dec 2016 read more »
A few days ago I heard a presentation by Paul Massara of North Star Solar, a new solar PV + battery home energy system start-up. One of his points was that scale manufacture of lithium ion batteries means that electrical storage is getting cheaper and cheaper, and PV + battery packages are now cost effective in the UK with the right financing package. Certainly such systems seem to be taking off in places like Australia, and are now required in new installations in Germany. These are home system batteries, but it seems very likely that in the near future they will also be joined in many homes by electric vehicle batteries. So what are the implications for the way that electricity markets work if batteries really do become cheap and ubiquitous? My aim here is to do a quick thought experiment about what could happen, definitelynot a prediction of what will happen, by when, and so on. Start first on the demand side, with that rooftop solar PV + battery combo. In the UK, solar output peaks in the middle of the day. In a lot of households, demand is low at this point, and if we assume solar PV is also cheap and households have a lot of it, generation is likely to exceed demand for much of the middle of the day, allowing batteries to charge up. Switching to batteries at the evening peak then reduces net peak demand on the grid (in my thought experiment households have smart meters and home systems which receive some kind of scarcity price signal and automatically switch to the cheapest source– this of course may not happen in reality). If it has been really sunny there may also be enough left over to cut down the morning peak as well.
IGov 9th Dec 2016 read more »
The world’s largest cold energy storage plant is being commissioned at a site near Manchester. The cryogenic energy facility stores power from renewables or off-peak generation by chilling air into liquid form. When the liquid air warms up it expands and can drive a turbine to make electricity. The 5MW plant near Manchester can power up to 5,000 homes for around three hours. The company behind the scheme, Highview Power Storage, believes that the technology has great potential to be scaled up for long-term use with green energy sources.
BBC 10th Dec 2016 read more »