Britain’s first nuclear power plant for more than 20 years, which is planned in Somerset, is too expensive and uses the wrong type of reactor, a retired nuclear scientist and Westcountry landscape campaigner has claimed. Phillip Bratby, a leading member of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) in Devon who worked in the nuclear industry as a safety engineer for years, says the plant will be safe, low carbon and provide the constant “baseline” power which even a thousand wind turbines could not match. However, he believes the Government acted too hastily in sanctioning the current design before others were given a chance to provide a more economical alternative. “I think that in picking the EPR they have chosen the worst of the three options available in terms of reactors,” he told the Western Morning News. “It is just a bigger version of an older design and not much different from Sizewell B but with a lot of added features. Other designs are much better, cheaper, and easier to build and operate. The EPR was just first in the queue and the first to get licensed. They have chosen the wrong design and paid a lot more money than was necessary. I don’t think Ed Davey got a particularly good deal.”
Western Morning News 11th Aug 2015 read more »
One of the more perverse responses to the tsunami that knocked out the Japanese nuclear plant at Fukushima in 2011 was a backlash against atomic energy. Germany, for instance, accelerated plans already in place to phase out nuclear power, which accounts for around 17 per cent of the country’s electricity supply, after the Japanese disaster triggered protests from German voters. Arguably, however, the Fukushima incident demonstrated the resilience of well-maintained nuclear plant. A greater natural disaster could hardly be imagined than the huge earthquake and consequent inundation of the surrounding area. Yet the damage caused by the reactor meltdown was relatively limited given the scale of the catastrophe. Here in the UK, meanwhile, arguments continue over the first of a planned new generation of nuclear reactors to be built for 30 years, at Hinkley Point in Somerset. At issue is not safety but economics, with concerns being raised about the high subsidy being offered to the £24bn project. Analysts with the HSBC bank recently suggested that the deal between the government and state-owned French developer EDF is “becoming harder to justify”. There are doubts, too, about the European Pressurised Reactor after financial difficulties facing a similar scheme in Finland. To complicate matters, Austria has started a legal challenge in the European Court of Justice over the levels of UK state aid for Hinkley. This newspaper has long championed nuclear power and often criticised the failure of the last Labour government to sustain the industry. New reactors are needed but there is a risk of being lumbered with a white elephant under current plans. Amber Rudd, the energy secretary, needs to reassess them before committing taxpayers to what may be an unsustainable project at Hinkley Point.
Telegraph 12th Aug 2015 read more »
Terrified residents have demanded answers after helicopters swooped on a disused nuclear power station at the break of dawn. Paula Williams has written to her MP Liz Savile Roberts wanting to know why homeowners who live near Trawsfynydd Nuclear Power Station weren’t told about the exercise. Last week, a camper near the station spoke of his fear when awoken by Chinook helicopters at 3am on July 31. Paula, who works for Snowdonia Farm Holiday Wales, frantically attempted to find out what was happening.
Daily Post 11th Aug 2015 read more »
The construction of a nuclear archive has started in the UK. The NDA (Nuclear Decommissioning Authority) Archive, located in Wick, will collect and store records from all the civil nuclear sites in the country. It will be accessible to the sector for international research and to the public. The NDA will be responsible for ensuring that all the information is available in line with legislation on public information.
Energy Live News 11th Aug 2015 read more »
Today, Japan restarted a reactor for the first time since it shuttered its nuclear sector in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster. The Sendai number one reactor could be the first of 25 plants to restart operations, though all are facing legal challenges. If Japan succeeds in resuscitating its nuclear industry, it would once again be a leading producer of atomic energy. If it fails, its climate pledge to the UN will be at risk. Carbon Brief has mapped the world’s top countries for nuclear power, showing Japan’s dramatic fall and the rise of its Asian neighbours. While new nuclear plants are continuing to be built, the rate is behind that needed to maintain current levels of output — let alone to raise nuclear’s share of the global electricity mix. If that doesn’t change, the International Energy Agency says the world’s climate goals will be at risk.
Carbon Brief 11th Aug 2015 read more »
For companies such as Japan Steel Works (JSW), a specialist builder of reactor cores and a victim of some of the highest electricity price increases in the country, the restart was especially sweet. Its shares, viewed by some as a proxy for Japan’s tormented nuclear sector, rallied sharply on Tuesday after months of trading some 75 per cent below their peak before the 2011 nuclear disaster at Fukushima Dai-ichi that led Japan to suspend nuclear power. Ikuo Sato, JSW president, said in an interview this summer that the restart would help improve the global image of a nuclear industry where Japanese companies – Mitsubishi, Toshiba and Hitachi – are big players. He also hoped it would stimulate demand for the containers used to store spent nuclear fuel, once a solid source of profits for JSW. But Naoto Kan, the prime minister who led Japan during the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster, described the restart as a “huge mistake” by an industry in decline. “Nuclear power generation is a technology of the 20th century,” he said on Tuesday. “As a source of energy, it is inferior from the long-term point of view.”
FT 11th Aug 2015 read more »
The Sendai Nuclear Power Plant on the island of Kyushu broke a four-year lull on 11 August when it switched one of its reactors back on. The restart is the first since Japan’s nuclear-power industry ground to a halt two years ago following safety concerns in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster. It will help the world’s third-largest economy to lower its carbon emissions. But the government energy plan that includes this shift in policy is much too modest if Japan is to help keep global temperatures from rising by more than 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, say analysts.
Nature 11th Aug 2015 read more »
Nuclear restarts will put downward pressure on spot LNG prices. Prices have collapsed since then as new supplies have come online, most notably in Australia. Also, since LNG prices are largely linked to the price of oil, the oil bust over the past year has led to a corresponding crash in LNG prices. According to Platts, front month JKM cargoes for September 2015 are now trading at $7.825/MMBtu, or less than half of what they were just a year and a half ago.
Oil Price 11th Aug 2015 read more »
The process to restart unit 1 of the Sendai nuclear power plant in Japan began today, marking the end of almost two years of the country’s entire reactor fleet standing idle. The unit is expected to re-enter commercial operation early next month.
World Nuclear News 11th Aug 2015 read more »
Grid parity for solar at household level may already have been reached, an advocacy group for renewable energy in Japan has said. At the same time, the first nuclear reactor to be fired up in Japan since the Fukushima crisis went online on Tuesday. Japan Renewable Energy Foundation (JREF)’s senior researcher Keiji Kimura wrote in a blog that Japan may have attained grid parity for PV near the end of last year. According to Kimura, government assessments of energy prices that were carried out in May this year estimated solar PV power to cost 29.4 per kWh. By comparison, the government-appointed Working Group said that price was more than twice as expensive as LNG-based thermal generation, which costs 13.7 per kWh. However, Kimura wrote, these prices do not take into account the costs of transmission and distribution through power grids. These costs occur separately, but are nonetheless added onto consumer energy bills. Effectively, as other regions such as California and New York have been assessing and incorporating into their electricity markets. Kyushu Electric Power was the first of a number of electric utilities to halt considering applications for new PV projects last September, citing concerns that it would not be able to accommodate them on its networks. In Japan, electric utilities are also responsible for transmission and distribution in their respective regional service areas. That issue was resolved following a long and protracted saga. Various measures were introduced including giving electric utilities the right to remotely curtail output of renewable energy facilities while government-appointed working groups calculated, based on figures provided by the utilities, how much capacity was available for renewables in the affected regions. Meanwhile, further cuts to renewable energy support were announced.
PV-Tech 11th Aug 2015 read more »
Japan, a resource-poor country, has relied on nuclear power to supply up to 30% of its energy needs. But since the shutdown of reactors, the country’s nine energy companies have had to buy expensive fossil fuels to cover the shortfall. They have been paying 3.6 trillion yen (£18.5bn, $28.9bn) more every year. Some of these costs have been passed on to consumers, resulting in electricity prices going up by about 30%. Using fossil fuels has made it more difficult for Japan to meet its targets in reducing carbon emissions. Energy companies have also been saddled with huge amounts of spent fuel and plutonium, which are usually recycled into usable nuclear power fuel. The companies have heavily lobbied the government to restart the Sendai power plant.
BBC 11th Aug 2015 read more »
After spending about $100 million, Sendai nuclear reactors 1 and 2 have both cleared Japan’s NRA safety examinations and met new post-Fukushima regulatory standards.
Forbes 11th Aug 2015 read more »
As we observe the 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it may seem like the threat from nuclear weapons has receded. But it hasn’t; the threat is actually increasing steadily. This is difficult to face for many people, and this denial also means that we are not very well-prepared for nuclear and radiological events.
Daily Mail 12th Aug 2015 read more »
What most people might not know is that planet Earth has been a test bed for a staggering amount of nuclear detonations: 2153, according to a new video, visualizing every single nuclear bomb ever to be detonated from 1945 to the present day.
Motherboard 11th Aug 2015 read more »
The White House is blocking the release of a Pentagon risk assessment of Russia’s violation of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, according to a senior House leader. Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, disclosed the existence of the Pentagon assessment last month and said the report is needed for Congress’ efforts to address the problem in legislation.
Business Insider 11th Aug 2015 read more »
The lack of discussion from the UK Government on support for renewable energy is likely to cause disruption to community energy projects. These concerns have been highlighted today in a joint letter from the Scottish and Welsh Governments to the UK Government. The letter comes after the UK Government’s decision to close the Renewables Obligation early and many projects, both private and community owned, remain unclear on what impact this will have for their developments. The letter reiterated both government’s commitment to community renewables and warned that community projects are likely to be hit harder by the impact of the UK Government’s decision Highlighted that local supply chains are likely to suffer
Scottish Energy News 11th Aug 2015 read more »
Earlier this month the Solar Trade Association told The National the Tory administration was trying to “pull the rug out” from under the UK’s fledgling renewables developments. Yesterday Scottish Energy minister Fergus Ewing and Welsh Natural Resources minister Carl Sargeant raised concerns about the impact on community-owned projects and local supply chains. Calling for “meaningful dialogue”, they said community energy is a “key priority” for both governments and stressed that communities have “invested heavily, in time, money and commitment, in a cleaner energy future”. They warned the changes could price local groups out of the market, pushing the small scale industry into a “hiatus”.
The National 12th Aug 2015 read more »
Teesside is to be the site of the world’s largest new power and steam biomass plant as part of a new £424m project. The project in Middlesbrough will have a capacity of 299 MW combined heat and power (CHP), enough to power at least 600,000 UK households. Abengoa and Toshiba will construct the £424m power plant, which will use wood pellets from sustainable forest resources in the US and Europe. The project developers say the fuel source will be in compliance with the UK’s incentives for renewable energy.
Edie 11th Aug 2015 read more »
After Iran struck a deal with world powers over its nuclear programme, Hossein Zamaninia, its deputy oil minister, struck a hopeful tone, saying Europe could be a market for the country’s natural gas in the years to come. Iran may be the world’s third largest gas producer, but it faces several challenges in exporting the country’s most abundant commodity to Europe. These include a looming oversupply of liquefied natural gas; growing competition from other producer countries; demand weakness in the continent; and infrastructure troubles at home.
FT 11th Aug 2015 read more »
With oil prices back down to $50 a barrel for Brent crude, a falling gas price and its share of the European energy market declining, the Russian economy is in real trouble. The situation is dangerous because the problems cannot easily be corrected. The risk is that the economic problems could lead to political instability both within Russia and around its borders.
FT 9th Aug 2015 read more »