The role of commercial director of the much criticised public body overseeing the cleanup of Britain’s old nuclear power stations has been axed amid a wider management shakeup. The exit of Sean Balmer, who has been at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority for eight years, follows recent heavy criticism of the organisation’s performance, particularly at Sellafield in Cumbria. John Clarke, the chief executive of the NDA, has scrapped the commercial director post and created three new positions on his executive team including one full-time job looking after Sellafield, the UK’s largest atomic complex. The moves also follow the departure of the chief operating officer, Mark Lesinski, before Christmas and the planned exit at the end of March of the head of human resources, Jim McLaughlin. Clarke was subjected to ferocious criticism from politicians at a meeting of the Commons public accounts committee that expressed grave concerns over the estimated £70bn cost to the taxpayer of work at Sellafield.
Guardian 9th Jan 2014 read more »
On 4th December 2013, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, announced as part of the UK Government’s National Infrastructure Plan, that the government had signed a co-operation agreement with Japanese energy company Hitachi “to promote external financing” for a new nuclear power plant at Wylfa in Anglesey, Wales. The site was bought by Hitachi for around £700m in October 2012 and the plant will be built by Horizon Nuclear Power, a subsidiary of Hitachi, which they bought from E.ON UK and RWE npower. The new nuclear power plant, formerly known as Wylfa B, has been renamed Wylfa Newydd (“New Wylfa” in Welsh), in recognition of the “opportunities” the facility will bring, including the creation of up to 6,000 jobs while the reactors are being built and around 1,000 when the plant is operating. Horizon plans to build two new 1,300 MW Advanced Boiling Water Reactors, the first commercial boiling reactors in the country. The development will be classed as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) under the Planning Act 2008 and will therefore require a Development Consent Order (DCO). The required licences and permissions are expected to be in place for the project by 2018. First nuclear construction will start around 2019 and the first reactor will become operational in the first half of the 2020s. It is not only Japanese companies investing in the UK nuclear sector. Several Chinese firms have signalled their intent to invest in UK infrastructure projects, including nuclear power plants. Earlier in 2013, the UK government agreed a “strike price” with EDF Energy of £89.50 for each megawatt of electricity produced every hour from the proposed nuclear power plants at Hinkley Point, Somerset and Sizewell, Suffolk. It was also announced that Chinese companies China National Nuclear Corporation and China General Nuclear Power Corporation will be minority shareholders in the project at Hinkley Point.
Mondaq 8th Jan 2014 read more »
As the nuclear renaissance gathers pace, the NDA has again joined with other public bodies to open up opportunities for UK businesses, offering a total of up to £13 million investment for new technologies covering new build, current operations and decommissioning. The collaboration between the UK innovation agency the Technology Strategy Board, the NDA and the Department of Energy and Climate Change is aimed at helping UK-based businesses take advantage of the opportunities arising following the recent agreement on Hinkley Point C, the first nuclear power station to be built in the UK for almost 20 years. The funds will be made available early in 2014 as part of a drive to grow a robust, sustainable UK supply chain through the development of innovative products and services for the nuclear sector. The initiative will focus on key technology areas such as construction, manufacturing, operation, maintenance and decommissioning and waste.
Caithness Business 8th Jan 2014 read more »
Excellent progress is being made in the UK to repatriate overseas-owned highly active waste to Japan, with three shipments successfully completed and another one due to depart in the coming weeks (In April according to Platts Nuclear News Flashes – Ed) In line with usual practice, information relating to this upcoming fourth shipment to Japan will be released as follows: The name of the ship to be used will be released a few days before departure from the UK; The name of the UK Port will be released on the day of loading the ship in the UK port; Date of departure, transport route and the approximate arrival timing in Japan will be released just after departure from the UK; A notification of the transport’s completion will be made after the cargo’s arrival at its final destination in Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited’s faciliy. As with the three transports that have already taken place from the UK to Japan – and the previous 12 similar transports from France to Japan – the highly active waste will be transported in extremely robust flasks. Substantial additional protection is also provided by the state-of-the-art purpose built nuclear cargo vessel on which the material will be transported.
Sellafield Ltd 7th Jan 2014 read more »
Letter: the Department of Energy and the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) Partnership have persistently ignored the findings from the 1996 Nirex Inquiry regarding the priority to choose the safest possible geology for a GDF (repository) and the unsuitability of the geology in west Cumbria. There is a groundswell of opinion that Cumbria County Council should not be excluded from any decision making regarding the most serious and far-reaching issue Cumbria has ever faced. To exclude county councils from decision-making is undemocratic and bypasses the authority responsible for minerals and waste and where applicable, nuclear developments, as well as highways and other relevant strategic assets. In the previous MRWS consultation, Government, county and district councils all agreed on the imperative of the ‘Three Green Light System’. When it didn’t go according to plan, DECC simply changed the rules. The ensuing removal of county councils from decision making was based on just four out of nearly 200 suggestions in the Calls for Evidence. In contrast, the majority of suggestions (well over 50 per cent) calling for national geological screening were completely ignored.
Whitehaven News 9th Jan 2014 read more »
The University of Leeds will lead a consortium of 10 universities in a national research programme looking at ways of dealing with Britain’s nuclear waste. The £8 million project, funded by the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), will start in February and bring together the nuclear industry, the Government’s nuclear advisors and the country’s leading academic researchers. More than 40 doctoral and post-doctoral researchers will work over the next four years on issues including how best to handle different types of spent fuels, packaging and storing waste, and dealing with nuclear sludges in ponds and silos at nuclear power stations. Professor Simon Biggs, Director of the University of Leeds’ Institute of Particle Science and Engineering, who will lead the University consortium, said: “The project is primarily focused on developing new technologies and providing confidence in the safe storage and disposal of legacy waste. The UK is a technology leader in this field and the core aim of this project is to maintain and further develop that skill base.”
Cumbria Trust 10th Jan 2014 read more »
The Hague, the capital of the Netherlands will host the international Nuclear Security Summit on March 24 and 25, 2014. The Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte will chair the event. He said: ‘The amount of nuclear material in the world is enormous. If it falls into the hands of terrorists, the consequences could be disastrous. The international community must do everything in its power to prevent this. As chair of the Nuclear Security Summit, I am determined to make it a success. In this way, the Netherlands will contribute to a safer world.’
Professional Security 9th Jan 2014 read more »
All of the largest energy suppliers – the so-called “big six” – have passed on savings from a Government deal to cut green levies. SSE said yesterday it would cut tariffs by 3.5pc from March 24, reducing a typical annual dual-fuel household bill for its five million customers from £1,224 to £1,186. Customers will also receive a £12 rebate in the autumn as a result of another energy bill change. Later in the day, Npower become the last to tweak bills, promising to cut by 2.6pc from February 28. However, experts are warning that even after the cuts customers could still pay far less if they were to switch, and that now it is the smaller suppliers dominating the best buys.
Telegraph 9th Jan 2014 read more »
With filming for the forthcoming Paddington Bear film in full swing, the famous Paddington Bear statue in London has been the focus of campaigners. Campaigners are highlighting the threat to Peru, the home of the Andean Bear on which Paddington is based, from uranium mining. Peru is currently a nuclear free country with no uranium mining. But as a direct result of the UK’s nuclear policy fuelling the demand for uranium , this could change. Nuclear cheerleaders such as George Monbiot disingenuously say “let them burn plutonium” but the brutal reality of this nasty nuclear cheerleading is the ripping of uranium out of the ground. Peter Hooper the Chief Executive of Macusani Yellowcake, a Toronto based company has said: “Peru has no uranium mining and they have one medical reactor. That’s it. The uranium here was found by Margaret Thatcher…She persuaded the British Geological Survey to fly Peru and half of Chile ..Right now we own 90% of the plateau”. (Macusani Plateau).
Radiation Free Lakeland 9th Jan 2014 read more »
Today’s entry reflects on engaging opponents of infrastructure projects before and during examinations. Coming fresh from a series of hearings into an application under the Planning Act 2008, one theme that has emerged is that of the difficulty of engaging with objectors to projects. The issue of local engagement is one of the five principal topics that form part of the 2014 review of the Planning Act regime, so it is timely to consider this issue. At the early stages, objectors (and I mean those who do not want the project to go ahead at all) understandably tend to express their criticisms of the project and reasons why it should not proceed, rather than offering suggestions about how, if it is to go ahead, it could be better. Often, it is only once the examination is under way that they start to engage more constructively on how to minimise the adverse impacts of the project on themselves and others. Although project promoters may be willing to make changes where possible, it is often too late to do so, particularly if it means alterations to the land that needs to be acquired or occupied. Even if changes are able to be made, promoters may be wary of giving the impression that the project is in a state of flux, which refusing to make any changes would avoid. I’m not saying that promoters are blameless when it comes to lack of pre- (or post-) application engagement, but I’m focusing on objectors at the moment.
BDB Law 9th Jan 2014 read more »
European Union legislation influences or determines almost all aspects of energy production and use. Increasingly over the past five years, it has been widely criticised for setting clashing targets and competing objectives that have undermined living standards and the environment. The EU’s treaties make it clear that “energy mix”, the question of how countries generate their electricity, remains a question of sovereignty, but binding targets for renewable power, wind and solar have undermined that principle. The EU directive on renewable energy has probably had more impact on how power generation works and the bills paid by households than any other single piece of European legislation.
Telegraph 9th Jan 2013 read more »
The European Union’s installed nuclear generating capacity in 2050 is forecast to be at about the same level as in 2010, according to the European Commission’s (EC’s) analysis of the bloc’s current energy and climate policies. In its report – entitled EU Energy, Transport and GHG Emissions: Trends to 2050 – the EC presents a new ‘EU Reference Scenario 2013’. Last revised in 2009, this scenario was updated in July 2013 to determine the development of the EU energy system under current trends and adopted policies. The scenario includes all binding targets set out in EU legislation regarding development of renewable energies and reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as well as legislation promoting energy efficiency. It comes as negotiations get underway into defining targets for European emission reductions up to 2030.
World Nuclear News 9th Jan 2014 read more »
The government has dismissed speculation that Rosatom already had a head start to build eight power stations in South Africa, but links with the Russian state-owned nuclear energy firm appear to be strengthening by the day. The chief energy investment strategist at Casey Research, Marin Katusa, reported on Tuesday that in the global battle for energy supremacy, Russia “has won another victory over the US”. He claimed Rosatom had just signed an agreement to build eight new atomic reactors in South Africa, which he described as “the battleground”.
Business Report 9th Jan 2014 read more »
U.S., greenhouse gas emissions are declining. They are 12 percent below 2005 levels, and national emissions have fallen every year since 2008. As a result, the U.S. is within striking distance of President Obama’s 2009 pledge to reduce emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels. The downturn in emissions means there is a decent chance that the U.S. will arrive in Paris for the next major international climate conference at the end of 2015 on track to fulfilling its reductions commitment, a pole position that should give Obama considerable leadership chops with other heads of state. Some of the reduction in emissions has been the result of the downturn in the economy, but it’s the other reasons that are especially interesting.
Huffington Post 8th Jan 2014 read more »
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has pledged to support Vietnam in the construction of nuclear power plants in the country. The agency is to send experts to Vietnam to discuss building infrastructure, safety and other issues related to nuclear energy.
Energy Live News 10th Jan 2014 read more »
Talks between Iran and six world powers on implementing November’s deal to freeze parts of Tehran’s nuclear programme have stumbled over the subject of advanced centrifuge research, diplomats have said.
Morning Star 9th Jan 2014 read more »
As senior Iranian and western diplomats gathered in Geneva to discuss the implementation of an agreement sealed in November between Tehran and six world powers, Khamenei – who has the final word on all Iranian state matters – made it clear that he remained sceptical of the US and its intentions.
Guardian 9th Jan 2014 read more »
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) is set to establish a new business unit on February 1, 2014 to further strengthen its involvement in the Sinop nuclear power plant (NPP) project currently under way in the Republic of Turkey for independent power producer (IPP). The Turkey Nuclear IPP Development Department is expected to accelerate formulation of the specific project conditions, such as the financing framework, power purchase agreement among others.
Energy Business Review 9th Jan 2014 read more »
Our panel of experts answer your questions on the use of thorium in nuclear reactors. Thorium is increasingly being promoted as an alternative fuel to uranium in civil nuclear fission reactors. Proponents argue it’s safer, more abundant and much harder to weaponise. But the most significant development of thorium-fuelled reactors at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the US was cancelled in the 1970s and the technology would need large amounts of investment to continue readying it for commercial use.
The Engineer 9th Jan 2014 read more »
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made a rare visit Thursday to an Air Force nuclear missile base, hoping to boost morale among the men and women who operate and safeguard the nation’s Minuteman 3 nuclear missiles. But his attempt to cheer the troops was tempered by news that launch officers at another base had been implicated in an illegal-narcotics investigation.
Guardian 9th Jan 2014 read more »
Renewables – Solar
New York governor Andrew Cuomo delivered his State of the State address on Wednesday and announced an even greater commitment to clean energy, including $1 billion in new funding for solar energy projects. Launched in 2012, Cuomo’s NY-Sun Initiative has already been a tremendous success, with almost 300 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic capacity installed or under development, more than was installed in the entire decade prior to the program.
Climate Progress 9th Jan 2014 read more »
For a while now, the fossil fuel industry has been promoting the idea that gas generation is key to the UK’s cheap, secure, relatively low carbon future. With households keeping one eye on their energy bills, a new survey suggests the public is starting to agree. A team from the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) asked a nationally representative sample of nearly 1,000 people what they thought of the UK’s energy system, and which technologies they’d like to see more of in the future. They found that public support for gas is at its highest point since 2005, while public concern over climate change has dipped.
Carbon Brief 9th Jan 2014 read more »