Dave Elliott: A 50% renewable electricity target for 2030 and a radical free market shake up- that’s what is on the cards from the latest EU proposals, with consumers empowered to self-generate and sell power themselves. The European Commission’s recent proposed energy policy changes aim to keep the EU competitive as the clean energy transition changes global energy markets. It also proposes new approaches to empowering and informing consumers, enabling them to self-consume renewable electricity without facing undue restrictions, and ensuring that they are remunerated for the electricity they feed into the grid. It also ‘recognizes energy communities and facilitates their participation in the market’. The EC’s proposal have all still to be agreed, but it’s pretty far reaching, with actions to accelerate clean energy innovation, and encourage public and private investment, and a commitment ‘to modernising the EU’s economy and delivering on jobs and growth for all European citizens’.
Environmental Research Web 10th Dec 2016 read more »
THE estimated cost of cleaning up Japan’s wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant has doubled to nearly 22 trillion yen (£150 billion) and decommissioning expenses are expected to keep on rising, a government panel said yesterday. The figure increases the decommissioning part of the total from 2tn (£14bn) to 8tn yen (£55bn) due to surging labour and construction expenses. Panel officials said the numbers could still grow as experts learn more about the damage to the reactors and determine fuel removal methods. The costs of compensation, decontamination of the area and waste storage are also up significantly. A massive March 2011 earthquake and tsunami caused the plant to suffer multiple meltdowns. Officials say its decommissioning will take several decades. Panel chair Kunio Ito, a Hitotsubashi University professor of commerce, said it was inevitable that plant operator Tepco would pass some of the costs on to customers.
Morning Star 10th Dec 2016 read more »
German power companies are engaging in PR antics by offering to drop lawsuits over 2011’s hasty shutdown of nuclear reactors, an anti-nuclear energy group says. A waste deposit bill goes before parliament next week.
Deutsche Welle 10th Dec 2016 read more »
In a statement made at the International Conference on Nuclear Security in Vienna, U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz announced that “the United States is beginning consultations with the IAEA to monitor the dilution and packaging of up to six metric tons of surplus plutonium at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in Aiken, South Carolina.” The material in question is part of the U.S. plutonium stock that was designated excess for military purposes. In addition to the 6 MT of non-pit plutonium covered by the current initiative, it also includes 34 MT of pit plutonium that was to be disposed as part of the U.S.-Russian Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement (PMDA) as well as 7.1 MT of pit plutonium for which a disposition path is not yet assigned. The Department of Energy announced its intent to dispose of the 6 MT of non-pit plutonium in January 2016 (a formal record of decision was published in April 2016).
International Panel on Fissile Materials 5th Dec 2016 read more »
Hans Blix, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has claimed it would be disastrous for the world if the US tore up the Iran nuclear agreement, but warned that the president-elect, Donald Trump, would be unlikely to heed advice from the British government on the benefits of the deal. In the wake of Theresa May’s insistence last week that the agreement “neutralising” the risk of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons was vital, Blix said that while “many Brits would like to think” they could sway Trump, he could not see “anyone who would be influential in talking to him”. “The special relationship, the old brotherhood? I don’t know whether he would be open to such things”, Blix told the Observer at the International Luxembourg Forum on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe held in London. “Maybe the Brits will talk about the golf course in Scotland? I think he is not a very international figure but I can’t indicate anyone who would be influential in talking to him.”
Trump has threatened to scrap the nuclear deal, signed by six major powers including Britain, in which Iran agreed to scale down its nuclear aspirations in exchange for sanctions relief.
Guardian 10th Dec 2016 read more »
HUNDREDS of financial institutions are cashing in on the nuclear arms trade, it was revealed yesterday. A total of 390 companies are investing up to £400 billion in nuclear weapons producers, according to investigations by the International Coalition to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and Pax Netherlands. Thirty-three of these institutions are in Britain. The ICAN report also names 36 firms which have some form of limitation on investment in the weapons-producing companies. These include Barclays, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Standard Chartered. However all 36 also have “exclusion policies” which let subsidiaries to invest in nuclear weapons firms. The report was welcomed by the Manchester-based Nuclear Free Local Authorities Association (NFLA).
Morning Star 10th Dec 2016 read more »
It is still too difficult to make a reliable assessment of the new US President-elect’s nuclear policy. But we can make a judgement on the current administration. Despite promises by President Obama in 2009 to reduce the role of nuclear weapons and eventually rid the world of them, progress has ground to a halt, and started to reverse. Unless Obama can advance the agenda he set out in Prague in the next month and a half, President-elect Trump will inherit an exceedingly fragile world. This week the International Atomic Energy Agency spelled out one of the threats when it warned that nuclear terrorists across the globe are capable of striking any country in the world. While countries have stepped up their investment in nuclear security, terrorists and criminals will try to exploit any vulnerability to get their hands on deadly radioactive materials and attack nuclear facilities, said the IAEA chief Yukiya Amano.
Independent 10th Dec 2016 read more »
Renewables – solar
THAT solar panels do not emit greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide when they are generating electricity is without question. This is why they are beloved of many who worry about the climate-altering potential of such gases. Sceptics, though, observe that a lot of energy is needed to make a solar panel in the first place. In particular, melting and purifying the silicon that these panels employ to capture and transduce sunlight needs a lot of heat. Silicon’s melting point, 1,414°C, is only 124°C less than that of iron. Wilfried van Sark, of Utrecht University in the Netherlands, and his colleagues have therefore tried to put some numbers into the argument. As they report in Nature Communications, they have calculated the energy required to make all of the solar panels installed around the world between 1975 and 2015, and the carbon-dioxide emissions associated with producing that energy. They also looked at the energy these panels have produced since their installation and the corresponding amount of carbon dioxide they have prevented from being spewed into the atmosphere. Others have done life-cycle assessments for solar power in the past. None, though, has accounted for the fact that the process of making the panels has become more efficient over the course of time. Dr Van Sark’s study factors this in.
Economist 10th Dec 2016 read more »