Areva, France’s nuclear giant, has been aware since 2006 that the steel vessel of its flagship new-generation reactor that confines radioactivity is faulty, it was reported on Wednesday. Until now, it was thought that Areva had only recently become aware of “very serious” anomalies in its €9 billion (£6.5bn) European Pressurised Reactor, or EPR – the same model sold to Britain. The EPR is being built in Flamanville on France’s Channel coast. In April, it was revealed that excessive amounts of carbon in the steel in the top and bottom of the reactor’s vessel, which forms a shell around it, could cause cracks which could prove disastrous, since the vessel, which houses nuclear fuel, cannot be replaced during the lifespan of the reactor. However, according to Le Canard Enchaîné, the satirical and investigative weekly, Areva was aware as early as 2006 that “a serious problem risked compromising the solidity of the heart of several of its reactors, including the EPR of Flamanville”. Despite this critical safety issue, according to Le Canard, Areva had “not seen fit to alert anyone” about the problem “and continued construction as if nothing were amiss”. The IRSN note also points out that the technology Areva chose to build the Flamanville 3 reactor vessel was “technologically backward compared to that used in the existing operational fleet (of nuclear plants)”. Experts say the same “production process” as for Flamanville had been used on reactor vessels destined for the British-based plants, along with two in China and one in Calvert Cliffs, Maryland, in America.
Telegraph 9th July 2015 read more »
A weakness has been discovered in a French nuclear reactor of the type set to be built at Hinkley in the UK. France’s nuclear safety regulator told the BBC the flaw in the steel housing the reactor core at the nuclear plant being built in Normandy is “serious”. He added that unless he was satisfied with the plans to put it right, he could stop the project. The fault in the French reactor is thought to be a construction fault, not an inherent weakness in the design. The troubled European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) under construction in France is one of the standard bearers for the next generation of nuclear power plants. It is of the same design as that planned for Hinkley C in Somerset and its collapse would deliver a major blow to the so called nuclear renaissance.
BBC 9th July 2015 read more »
A legal challenge to the Hinkley C project has been lodged by the Austrian government. Campaigners fighting the Hinkley C project are adamant that Austria’s challenge is the final ‘nail in the coffin’ for the controversial project.
This is the West Country 8th July 2015 read more »
In the world of renewable energy, they are still reeling from the budget shocker – the removal of the climate change levy exemption, a source of revenue that had seemed secure for at least another half-decade. Why did George Osborne do it? The official answer is to stop “taxpayer money benefiting electricity generation abroad”. Well, OK, but the share prices show he is also stopping a benefit to companies that very definitely generate in the UK. However it’s dressed up, it seems to be an old-fashioned grab designed to keep a lid on the government’s projected bill for encouraging renewables. But if cost is the worry, the chancellor ought to look elsewhere. How on earth does Hinkley Point, the £24bn nuclear power station planned for Somerset, continue to escape the Treasury’s scrutiny? When up and running, Hinkley Point will generate 3.2GW of energy. For £24bn, you could build enough gas-fired stations to produce 50GW, calculates Peter Atherton, analyst at Jefferies. The economics of Hinkley Point only make sense if the oil price is somewhere around $200 a barrel, as opposed to $60 currently. And, if the chancellor really has an objection to paying foreign generators, he should reflect that, while Hinkley Point is on British soil, the biggest financial winners from the generous inflation-linked contracts underwritten by UK taxpayers will be EdF, part-owned by the French state, and its Chinese partners. Hinkley Point may good for security of energy supply, but, in financial terms, the chancellor is pinching pennies from conventional renewables while squandering pounds on nuclear. The government should look again at Hinkley Point.
Guardian 9th July 2015 read more »
Based on the average data associated with such cases, the legal objection made by Austria this week against the European Commission to facilitate Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant could delay the progress of the facility for around three to four years. That timeframe is based on the average expectation associated with such cases, as confirmed this week by a legal expert who had been advising the Austrian government on the matter. It is less than the worst case scenario timeframe of five to eight years but that delay is not beyond the bounds of possibility as the subsequent decision could still be challenged. Dr Dorte Fouquet, Partner, BBH Brussels who has been advising Vienna on the matter of their objection to Britain’s flagship nuclear power project on the basis of State Aid contravention told Power Engineering International, “From the publication on average statistics from the European Court in State Aid cases the duration can be on average between 31,5 und 50,3 months.” Dr Fouquet quoted the information from the 2013 Annual report of the European Court of Justice, (pg. 186).
Power Engineering International 9th July 2015 read more »
A TEAM of apprentices from Sellafield Ltd has been crowned the best in the country.
Times and Star 9th July 2015 read more »
New Reactor Types
Retired Navy Admiral and former INPO head James Ellis introduces a Hoover Institution Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy series exploring how innovation in civilian nuclear power technology and business cases might play a role in the rapidly changing United States energy system.
Hoover 26th June 2015 read more »
Hartlepool – SMRs
There’s a growing sense of frustration and hand-wringing over delays in the UK’s new nuclear programme – but fresh hope has emerged for a world-first Teesside project. Newcastle company Penultimate Power, formed by long-standing nuclear power advocate Ian Fells, emeritus professor of energy at Newcastle University, was created in 2012 to develop SMRs. It is the only UK company positioned to do so and wants to develop a manufacturing plant in the region and trial the world’s first small modular reactor (SMR) on land next to the existing Hartlepool nuclear power plant. A recently published Government report concluded there is a massive opportunity for the UK and its supply chain to become a world-leader. And now the Government has committed a further £3m on additional work to determine the potential development and deployment of SMRs – having acknowledged there is a two-year time window for Britain to become a world-leader. ‘We can create a global market from here in the North-east, but we have to get on with it” – Ian Fells
Teeside Gazette 9th July 2015 read more »
Richard Dixon: On the face of it George Osborne’s Budget doesn’t say much about the environment. But if you dig into the details there is plenty to show that David Cameron’s claim that the last government would be the ‘greenest ever’ has long been dumped in the husky poo. In the year when world leaders are supposed to agree new climate targets, we needed a budget to put us on track to reduce UK emissions by supporting clean energy and efficiency, and making dirty energy less attractive. Instead we have the opposite with the Chancellor subsidising those companies intent on creating climate chaos. Yesterday’s budget has yet more public subsidies for oil companies operating in the North Sea, so the UK Government is encouraging more oil extraction when the climate cannot afford us to burn what we already plan to take out. The budget also promises a wealth fund for fracking. Combined with the recent announcement to cut support for wind farms, and no extra boost to the UK’s struggling home insulation programmes, this is a budget that drives the UK towards high-carbon, precisely when we should be getting ourselves in shape to be a lead player in a low-carbon world.
FoE Scotland 9th July 2015 read more »
The UK government kicked away one of the main financial supports for renewable energy in yesterday’s budget. The surprise move will cost the sector £3.9 billion over the next five years and undermines any prospect of the country meeting its EU renewable energy targets. Paul Flynn MP attempted to table a question to the Chancellor, George Osborne, for answer on Monday, enquiring “what assessment he has made of the potential effect on UK (a) energy security and (b) plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions of his policy to remove the climate change levy exemption for renewable electricity?” However the question was blocked and he will receive no reply. RenewableUK’s Director of Policy, Dr Gordon Edge said “Yet again the Government is moving the goalposts, pushing some marginal projects from profit into loss. It’s another example of this Government’s unfair, illogical and obsessive attacks on renewables.”
Ecologist 9th July 2015 read more »
Liberal Democrat excesses in promoting renewable energy have given George Osborne a reason to attack it. In the long run, that’s unwise. Among the many regrets the Lib Dems now have about their time in coalition, there should now be a new one – letting subsidies for renewable energy rise out of control. For this gave George Osborne reason to slam clean sources of power again in his Budget yesterday, at possible long-term cost to Britain’s competitiveness. As exclusively reported in this week’s Sunday Telegraph, subsidies for renewables are now expected to reach £9 billion by 2020 – £1.5 billion more than a cap agreed by the Coalition partners after much negotiation. The Lib Dem-run Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) was largely responsible. And yesterday shares in green energy companies tumbled after an angry Chancellor launched what they called a “punitive ” and “unfair” attack on their industry. Fresh from ending subsidies for onshore wind a year early , he announced that businesses getting their energy from renewable sources would no longer be exempt from paying the so-called Climate Change Levy, a measure introduced back in 2001 to encourage the use of clean energy and reduce carbon emissions. The exemption effectively paid over £5 to renewable companies for every unit green energy they produced; the wind industry reckons that it accounts for six per cent of its revenues, and it has been estimated that it could halve the earnings of Drax power station, which controversially is increasingly generating electricity from burning wood. It is, of course, easy to feel uncomfortable at the idea of subsidies, but in fact every form of energy benefits from them, and they are much more justifiable when used to get new technologies off the ground. Nuclear power has absorbed far greater levels of support for decades without ever reaching anything like its potential, and the feather-bedding of fossil fuel companies to the tune of $5 trillion worldwide – in the IMF’s estimation – is little less than scandalous. Constant attacks on renewables are badly denting investor confidence in what should be a growth industry. Taken with the country’s faltering nuclear programme and repeated failures to overcome local opposition even to exploratory fracking for shale gas and oil (despite great government support), Britain is in danger of being seen as an unattractive place for energy investment. And that should really worry the Chancellor.
Telegraph 9th July 2015 read more »
Renewables are the future and energy efficiency is the key so Scotland should embrace the new technology, say David Toke and Peter Strachan. There is much lamenting over the closure or mothballing of fossil fuel power plants, there are complaints about how subsidies are being “wasted” on wind farms and there are calls for more nuclear power in Scotland. Yet such talk ignores 21st century realities, including economic and practical considerations. Renewable energy must lie at the heart of our strategy to make energy in Scotland sustainable and secure. Four key factors must underpin our understanding of what we need. First, we need to cut carbon dioxide emissions whilst at the same time reduce our reliance on imported natural gas. This means that renewable energy and energy efficiency should be priorities. Second, Scotland is connected to the British electricity system, so i t is not relevant to argue for self sufficiency in power station cover in Scotland. Scotland is an integral part of the British electricity system. It is thus nonsense to suggest we need this or that power station to continue operation in a particular place. Third, the reason that power plants are ceasing operation is not because there is an electricity crisis, but a product of the opposite, ie that electricity demand in the UK has greatly fallen. It is good that fossil production and carbon emissions are falling and also being replaced by renewables. The National Grid is managing this system by contracting for as much reserve plant as is necessary, and if some plant is being left mothballed, this means we have more capacity than is needed – this is not a crisis. Fourth, despite complaints made about alleged large subsidies being earned by onshore wind through the Renewables Obligation (RO), the facts speak otherwise. Under the UK government’s new Electricity Market Reform “contracts for differences”, onshore wind contracts were won in the February auction organised by the government for around £80 per MWh for just a 15-year contract.
Scotsman 10th July 2015 read more »
Since the Fukushima incident, investors have given up on the idea of investing in nuclear power and anything that pertains to it. The Economist even said that nuclear power was the “dream that failed.” This statement wasn’t made irrationally; as Japan and Germany closed down all of their operating reactors due to that incident. These closures also prompted Japanese utility companies to sell uranium on to the open market, which helped trigger a large price decline. In the nuclear power industry, one country is considered the main catalyst for growth, and that is China. With 26 reactors in operation, China is now transitioning into the second phase of its nuclear power program. According to the world nuclear association, 24 reactors are under construction in China, with some of these being high temperature, gas cooled reactor plants. In fact, China has an ambitious goal of doubling its nuclear generation capacity by 2020. Despite claims to the contrary, nuclear power is not dead. In fact it is still growing around the world. But rising demand will also put a strain on the supply of uranium, and many analysts are forecasting a uranium deficit sometime this decade.
Oil Price 9th July 2015 read more »
Australia – Radwaste
Hit by tumbling iron-ore prices and searching for a new strategy, one mining company deep in the Australian outback is pushing aside the classic “not in my backyard” protest with a bid to store nuclear waste. Gindalbie Metals Ltd. an iron-ore mining company, is among scores of bidders vying to make the shortlist for a federal-government nuclear repository valued at 27 million Australian dollars (US$20 million) over the next four years—and likely hundreds of millions more once construction starts.
Wall St Journal 9th July 2015 read more »
Japan – Radwaste
Welcome to Japan, land of cherry blossoms, sushi and sake, and 17,000 metric tons of highly radioactive waste. That’s what the country has in temporary storage from its nuclear plants. Supporters of atomic power say it’s cleaner than fossil fuels for generating electricity. Detractors say there’s nothing clean about what’s left behind, some of which remains a deadly environmental toxin for thousands of years. Since atomic power was first harnessed more than 70 years ago, the industry has been trying to solve the problem of safe disposal of the waste. Japan has been thrown into the center of the conundrum by its decision in recent months to retire five reactors after the Fukushima disaster in 2011. Shaun Burnie, senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany, said this shows Japan’s reactor program and high-level nuclear waste policy is “in a state of crisis.” Without a clear disposal strategy, costs to take apart the reactors can end up being double original estimate, said Colin Austin, senior vice president at Energy Solutions, which has worked on every decommissioning project in the U.S. Another wrinkle in Japan for finding a final disposal site is that the country sits on a mesh of colliding tectonic plates that make it one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world. Former NRC chief Macfarlane, who is also a seismologist, said that doesn’t make it impossible to bury the waste. A repository hundreds of meters underground is partly protected against quakes in the same way submarines are during high storms, she said. Leaving nuclear waste on the surface indefinitely means it will get into the environment so Japan has to solve this, she said. “An adequate place underground is better than waiting for the best possible place.”
Energy Voice 10th July 2015 read more »
Japan – reactor restarts
Japan’s 11 utilities plan to spend at least 2.4 trillion yen ($19.69 billion) to improve the safety of their nuclear plants, 1.5 times higher than an estimate made 18 months ago, an Asahi Shimbun survey showed. Some of the companies surveyed did not include costs for anti-terrorism measures in their estimates, so the total for safety upgrades will increase.
Asahi Shimbun 10th July 2015 read more »
Trident will have to renewed or scrapped soon, so is Mutually Assured Destruction the way forward, or is it time to ban the bomb?
Philosophy Tube 22nd May 2015 read more »
Renewables – AD
The anaerobic digestion industry has been hit with an £11 million cut by the Treasury, according to the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA). The group has calculated that the removal of the Climate Change Levy exemption for renewables, announced in yesterday’s Budget, will cost the AD industry around £11 million in revenue each year.
Utility Week 9th July 2015 read more »
Renewables – onshore wind
A green energy summit has been held in Glasgow to discuss the impact of plans to end onshore wind farm subsidies. The UK government recently announced plans to scrap the Renewables Obligation scheme early. UK Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has said ending the scheme meant energy bills would not need to rise. But Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing, who chaired the summit, has accused the Conservatives of ignoring Scottish concerns. The event was attended by more than 200 people from businesses and organisations, according to the Scottish government. Industry body Scottish Renewables has warned the change could put up to Â£3bn of investment in Scotland at risk, and called for UK ministers to reconsider. Speaking after the summit, Mr Ewing said: “Delegates this morning spoke about the damage this will cause the rural economy – many of the shops and business that are vital to these communities. “Over the next few weeks DEC C (Department of Energy and Climate Change) will be seeking the views of those affected and I strongly encourage anyone with an interest to respond on this to ensure our concerns are heard. “We will continue to make representations to both the UK government’s energy department and to the Scotland Office, feeding back from what I heard at the summit and the many meetings I have had with representatives from the industry.”
BBC 9th July 2015 read more »
THE Tory Government’s decision to end subsidies for onshore wind farms a year earlier than planned is “anti-business”, according to Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing, who said the impact would spread right across Scotland. He was speaking at an emergency summit in Glasgow called to discuss the recent UK Government decision to end the Renewables Obligation subsidies in April 2016 rather than a year later. The level of concern in the wind power industry can be shown by the fact that the summit was attended by more than 200 representatives from across the renewables sector, compared to the 130 expected by the Scottish Government.
The National 10th July 2015 read more »
Westminster’s decision to pull the plug on subsidies for the onshore wind sector could have a “devastating impact” on Scotland and should be urgently reconsidered, according to the nation’s renewables sector. UK ministers announced last month that the current financial support scheme, known as the Renewables Obligation, would end a year earlier than planned – closing from April 2016. The decision has caused an outcry in Scotland, with industry experts claiming £3 billion of investment could be lost and 3,000 jobs put at risk. Speaking at an emergency summit to discuss the way forward when support is withdrawn, Jenny Hogan, director of policy at Scottish Renewables, urged the UK government not to abandon Scotland’s onshore wind sector by “pulling the rug from under it” earlier than expected.
Scotsman 9th July 2015 read more »
Scottish Energy Minster Fergus Ewing has criticised the recent UK Government decision to end the Renewables Obligation early as ‘anti-business’ following a summit with the industry earlier today.
Scottish Energy News 9th July 2015 read more »
Plans to build a wind farm near a Highlands beauty spot have been officially rejected to preserve the character of the “wild land.” The decision to turn down the turbines on the edge of the Glen Affric area, west of the Great Glen, was yesterday welcomed by environmental groups. The case was seen as a test of the Scottish government’s commitment to protecting “wild land” areas in rural Scotland from overdevelopment.
Times 9th July 2015 read more »
Herald 9th July 2015 read more »
WeatherEnergy has revealed wind electricity output in Scotland more than doubled in June. The most recent figures from last month have revealed that wind power in Scotland generated two times the outputs compared to last year, according to renewable data firm WeatherEnergy, which said that wind energy produced the equivalent of 33 percent of the country’s full electricity requirements for the month, reported Energy Voice. The data also revealed that there was sufficient wind output to meet the needs of at least 100 percent of Scottish homes on six days out of the month. In addition to this data from WeatherEnergy, charity organization WWF Scotland said that the country’s wind turbines alone provided 620 GWh (gigawatt hour) of electricity to the National Grid, which is about equal to meeting the needs of 1.7 million (70%) of Scottish households. This is a 120% boost compared to June of last year when wind power generated 281 GWh.
Hydrogen Fuel News 9th July 2015 read more »
Renewables – Floating Turbines
The French government is planning to launch a tender for several pilot floating offshore wind farms, Reuters reports. Matthieu Monnier, head of offshore wind at France Energie Eolienne (FEE) was reported as saying he expected two-three floating turbine projects with capacities of 15-60 MW each, for a total capacity of maximum 100 to 120 MW. Portugal and Norway have led floating turbine technology development, with a single floating turbine each, and Portugal plans to build a 25 MW floating wind demonstration farm. Japan also has floating offshore wind projects.
Offshore Engineer 8th July 2015 read more »
Demand response could be the real game-changer for the energy sector by offering a competitive alternative to energy storage, smart technology firm Open Energi has said. The energy industry has already heralded energy storage as a potential game-changer since Tesla launched its suite of batteries in early May, but Open Energi’s director of business development David Hill told Utility Week that “inherent costs” invovled in storage means demand-response could have a greater impact. Demand response “done well” is an “exciting alternative” to storage because it is “transformationally cheaper”, he said.
Utility Week 9th July 2015 read more »
CAMPAIGNERS have warned of the potential environmental damage caused by fracking as Grangemouth plant owner Ineos is today expected to unveil Europe’s largest ethane storage tank. Details are due to be released this afternoon of the £125 million structure which was granted planning permission last year. Over the next 15 years the tank is expected to store ethane gas, which is extracted through the controversial fracking process in the USA and imported into Scotland. Ethane gas is used at the Grangemouth plant to manufacture petrochemicals and plastics. Last night, Friends of the Earth highlighted pollution caused by fracking in the US and the danger of blighting communities this side of the Atlantic if it was to go ahead in Scotland. Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “We str ongly suspect Ineos’ plans for fracking in Scotland would result in blighted communities, with planning permissions sitting unused for years.
The National 10th July 2015 read more »
The world’s fossil fuel companies risk wasting billions of dollars of investment by not taking global action to fight climate change seriously, according to the chief economist of the International Energy Agency (IEA). Fatih Birol, who will take the top job at the IEA in September and is one of the world’s most influential voices on energy, warned that companies making this mistake would also miss out on investment opportunities in clean energy.
Guardian 9th July 2015 read more »