Professor ‘Jim’ Al’Khalili’s ‘Inside Sellafield’ programme was a tour de force of pro-nuclear propaganda, writes David Lowry – understating the severity of accidents, concealing the role of the UK’s nuclear power stations in breeding military plutonium, and giving false reassurance over the unsolved problems of high level nuclear waste.
Ecologist 12th Aug 2015 read more »
The SNP has today highlighted new analysis which suggests the UK Government’s plans for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point are too costly and should be abandoned. Analysis from investment bank Jeffries shows that the new plant will cost more than Crossrail, the London Olympics and Heathrow Terminal 2 combined, at a cost of £24 billion. The project is also based on a model described by analysts at HSBC as “too big, too costly and still unproven”. Whilst making this massive commitment to new nuclear power, the UK Government also plans to axe subsidies for onshore wind projects. However, analysis from Jeffries also suggests that onshore wind can provide far greater electricity capacity for the same price. Commenting, Mike MacKenzie MSP said: “This new analysis is further proof that the Hinkley Point project is nothing more than a taxpayer subsidised nuclear boondoggle. “Scotland’s renewables industry will pay a heavy price for this Tory government’s ideological obsession with new nuclear. As the Tories plough ahead with new nuclear, their decision to axe onshore wind support is expected to cut investment by up to £3 billion and put more than 5,000 jobs at risk. All this despite onshore wind being a cheaper source of electricity than new nuclear.
SNP 10th Aug 2015 read more »
£200m boost to the Region from Hinkley. French energy giant EDF has this week revealed its preferred bidders to supply services to the proposed nuclear power plant, including businesses in North Somerset, with a potential boost to the region in excess of £200million. Among the firms chosen is a joint venture between Weston’s Crosville Motor Services and First Bus, who will operate high-frequency services to the construction site from park- and-ride sites, as well as nearby towns and villages.
Weston Mercury 12th Aug 2015 read more »
Three anti-nuclear protesters are due in court in Somerset later after blockading the road leading to the nuclear power station at Hinkley. The three women, all from Bristol, have been charged with ‘willful obstruction of the highway’. It follows a demonstration outside the power station in April.
ITV 13th Aug 2015 read more »
The independent committee tasked with scrutinising radioactive waste policy has urged regulators to develop a licensing framework for a future geological disposal facility (GDF). A GDF is considered essential for long-term storage of the UK’s spent nuclear waste, but has been delayed for years because of problems finding and agreeing a suitable site. Last year, the government attempted to move things along by revising its siting policy and publishing a white paper on implementing geological disposal. This included cash incentives for communities willing to host a site and the start of a national geological screening exercise to find potential locations. According to its annual report for 2014/15, the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) is satisfied that the revision was conducted appropriately. However it raises concerns about the general regulatory framework, the national geological screening exercise and the development of generic safety cases. CoRWM says it is essential that the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) resolves the issue of licensing under the Nuclear Installations Act 1965 before communities are invited to participate. “It is “vitally important that there is a clear nuclear safety and environmental regulatory framework for the GDF in order to give the public confidence that it will be properly regulated,” it says. The second issue raised by CoRWM is in relation to national geological screening. DECC’s white paper notes that, although a great deal is known about the UK’s subsurface geology, there is not yet enough detail to fully inform the siting of a GDF. CoRWM also wants RWM to produce a generic environmental safety case for each of the three possible geological settings for a GDF: hard rock, clay and salt. To date, RWM has only quantified the hard rock case, with associated qualitative statements on how the other safety cases relate to it.
ENDS 7th Aug 2015 read more »
Members of Congress from Michigan announced a new effort Monday to prevent the burial of Canadian nuclear waste near the Lake Huron shore, calling for a study by an agency that represents both nations in boundary waters disputes. Democratic Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters said they will introduce legislation that would require the U.S. State Department to negotiate with Canada over delaying a decision on the waste facility until the study is completed. Rep. Dan Kildee, a Democrat from Flint Township, said he would offer the same measure in the House.
CBC News 11th Aug 2015 read more »
The German government has presented its plan for permanently disposing of nuclear waste. Critics say the proposal is a tacit admission that it is a bigger problem than it has ever acknowledged before. Pausing only to get the okay from the cabinet, Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks gave a press conference on Wednesday to present the government’s brand new plan for dealing with radioactive waste. The plan foresees two locations: one site for low- to medium-radioactive waste is already being converted – the Konrad Shaft, part of a disused iron ore mine near the town of Salzgitter in northern Germany. But the other location, for highly radioactive waste, has yet to be found. The new news is that Konrad would not be extended, as had been previously proposed, and this unknown new location would therefore also have to house any radioactive waste produced between now and 2022, when Germany plans to shut down its last reactor. But the plan for dealing with the waste has a much longer time-scale, one which makes clear just how dangerous nuclear waste is to dispose of. Next year, a parliamentary commission will present its findings on the options, but an actual location won’t be chosen until 2031, and it will take until 2050 to convert that site until it is ready to store the waste. The process of moving the waste there will then take several more decades.
Deutsche Welle 12th Aug 2015 read more »
The new Conservative government is letting slip its commitments to renewable energy and climate change mitigation. The bad decisions keep coming, and don’t add up to a policy strategy consistent with the UK’s emissions and efficiency targets, and more generally with fighting climate change. Last week, the government announced it would scrap the zero carbon homes target for 2016. The target was announced a long time in advance (in 2006), and nine years of industry commitment could now be lost. This is a huge setback in the path to a low carbon UK, and undermines the credibility of government energy and climate policy. This follows the abolition of the Energy Efficiency Deployment Office immediately after the May elections. The office was seen as a potential game-changer just three years ago, and this move could reduce energy efficiency to the secondary and marginal role it played in the past.
SPRU 12th Aug 2015 read more »
Al Maiorino, outlines the grassroots strategies that are most effective in countering opposition to nuclear projects. Megaprojects consist of development in a variety of industries, including nuclear, that aim to achieve a particularly ambitious or remarkable scale. Substantial financial investment is usually required to make such projects successful, and they can take years to complete. Due to the tremendous investment involved, megaprojects can also be very risky, as investors and the public may lose a great deal of time and resources if projects do not make it to fruition. Bent Flyvbjerg – a leading researcher on megaprojects from Oxford University’s Said Business School – stated that only one in ten megaprojects, which he defines as projects that cost more than $1 billion and affect more than 1 million people, are able to succeed. In part, Flyvbjerg’s comments come in light of South Africa’s plan to bring on 9600MW of nuclear capacity by 2030 through the construction of six new nuclear power plants. In a country that generates 85% of its power from coal and experiences frequent power outages, nuclear power offers an opportunity to stabilize power generation and thus, economic development, in a cleaner, more reliable way. However, without a concentrated effort to build public support, this nuclear project, like many others runs the risk of costly delays or even cancellation, just as Flyvbjerg’s observed.
Nuclear Engineering International 5th Aug 2015 read more »
Households’ lights could be dimmed and kettles take longer to boil when the wind isn’t blowing, under Government-backed plans to routinely dip the voltage of Britain’s electricity supplies. As Britain builds more wind farms, the measures to dip voltage could be used when there is an unexpected lull in wind power output. New technology to instantly dip the voltage of power to entire regions “at the press of a button” has already been quietly trialled on half a million households across north-west England. The system could be rolled out across the UK in coming years, ministers have indicated – after trials showed consumers did not notice any difference
Telegraph 12th Aug 2015 read more »
Cold weather boosted sales at Eon, Germany’s biggest utility by market value, but income declined sharply as the business came under pressure from expanding renewables and lower oil prices. Underlying net income declined 21 per cent to 1.2bn euro in the first half of this year, though sales rose 5 per cent year on year to 57.3bn euros beating expectations. A big restructuring is under way at Eon in response to the dramatic shift to renewables in Germany. Energy from clean sources has favourable access to the power grid in Europe’s biggest economy, squeezing the earnings of businesses that generate power from nuclear energy and fossil fuels. Nearly 26 per cent of Germany’s power generation came from clean sources last year. The country aims to generate up to 60 per cent of electricity from renewable energy by 2035.
FT 12th Aug 2015 read more »
Japan – Fukushima
Four years ago, the fishing town of Namie, on the northeast coast of Japan, lived through an experience of malediction biblical in scope. Beginning at 2:46 PM on March 11, 2011, without warning, the town’s population of 23,000 was struck by a triple disaster in quick succession: an earthquake measuring nine on the Richter scale that severely damaged the upper town, a fifteen-meter tsunami that carried away the entire lower town, and finally, in the days that followed, a blanket of radioactivity, from explosions in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant just six miles away, that settled over the town’s ruins.
New York Review of Books 12th Aug 2015 read more »
It is the first move in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s quest to restart nuclear power stations and redress a chronic shortage of power that has led to hikes in electricity prices. He wants nuclear to provide 20 to 22 per cent of the country’s electricity by 2030, compared with 30 per cent before the Fukushima disaster. But distrust of nuclear power in Japan is unabated. Around 100 anti-nuclear protesters gathered outside the plant as it was being restarted. A poll of 1000 Kagoshima residents earlier this month for the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper showed that 57 per cent were opposed to the restart, with 30 per cent in favour. Another problem is where to put highly reactive nuclear waste. According to The Japan Times, about 17,000 tonnes is languishing in temporary storage pools around the country, with some tipped to reach capacity within three years.
New Scientist 12th Aug 2015 read more »
On the day U.S. and Iranian negotiators reached a historic nuclear agreement last month, Hadi Partovi threw an impromptu party in his backyard outside Seattle, setting in motion a rare expression of solidarity among the country’s most prominent Iranian-Americans.
Reuters 13th Aug 2015 read more »
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has completed hot functional testing on its new 1,200MW unit 2 of Watts Bar nuclear power plant, located near Spring City, Tennessee, US. The hot functional testing is a critical pre-operational requirement for TVA to secure Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) operating license, prior to fueling the reactor. During the eight-week testing, operators used the heat generated by plant to increase the temperature and pressure of almost 60 systems to normal operating levels and to turn up the unit’s main turbine to normal operating speed.
Energy Business Review 12th Aug 2015 read more »
South African power utility Eskom, struggling to meet demand in Africa’s most developed economy, is to pay an estimated 200 million rand ($15.6 million) for the supply of nuclear waste storage casks to keep its Koeberg plant running beyond 2018. The seven new reinforced metal casks to be supplied by U.S. energy company Holtec International are the first step of a three-phase project to create more storage space at Koeberg, which is Africa’s only nuclear power plant, situated about 35km from Cape Town.
Reuters 12th Aug 2015 read more »
Crowds gathered to wave goodbye to one of the town’s most impressive engineering feats. The sun shone down on Buccleuch Dock as hundreds of people assembled to wave their flags at the third Astute class submarine – Artful. The 7,400 tonne hunter-killer submarine edged her way from Devonshire Dock where she has been moored until today.
In Cumbria 13th Aug 2015 read more »
Obama wants to spent $1trillion on a new generation of nuclear weapons.
Ecowatch 11th Aug 2015 read more »
Plans to restrict access to key renewable energy subsidy schemes threaten the future of community energy projects, Scottish and Welsh ministers warned in a letter to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) yesterday. Welsh Natural Resources Minister Carl Sargeant and Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing joined forces to warn uncertainty surrounding the Westminster government’s proposed shake-up of clean energy subsidy schemes could mean that community energy projects struggle to get the funding needed to begin development. The letter follows recent announcements by Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, that the government will end Renewables Obligations (RO) support for onshore wind projects and consult on proposals to end RO support for solar farms and review the pre-accreditation system for the popular feed-in tariff (FiT) scheme.
Business Green 12th Aug 2015 read more »
Community energy schemes will be hit hardest by Amber Rudd’s recent energy subsidy shake-up, ministers from Scotland and Wales have warned. Scotland Energy Minister Fergus Ewing and Wales Natural Resources Minister Carl Sargeant have co-authored an open letter to Rudd urging her to consider new ways to support community schemes.
Edie 12th Aug 2015 read more »
Japan has a vision of becoming a carbon-neutral, hydrogen-fuelled society by 2040 – one of the most ambitious hydrogen energy plans in the world. How could an efficient hydrogen energy plant work in reality, given Japan’s limited, densely populated area? Over the summer, a team of international students descended on DNV GL’s Oslo headquarters to develop an innovative solution: harvesting hydrogen from seawater in the windy waters north of Japan, using floating offshore wind turbines.
Guardian 7th Aug 2015 read more »
Tesla has taken 100,000 reservations for its Powerpack and Powerwall battery products, worth approximately $1bn, according to founder Elon Musk. Speaking on the company’s quarterly earnings call, Musk said Tesla had taken reservations (non-binding agreements) which led him to believe the company would sell $50m of storage in the fourth quarter of 2015, and up to $500m in both 2016 and 2017.
Edie 12th Aug 2015 read more »
A new contender for Britain’s greenest home has been unveiled in North Yorkshire. The four-bed house, known as Furrows, will have a unique renewable energy system, allowing it to generate more than 13,000 kWh of electricity and heat a year. Around 5,000 kWh will be used by Furrow’s homeowners with the remaining 8,000 kWh exported to the grid – enough electricity to run two further houses.
Edie 12th Aug 2015 read more »
Councils could be stripped of the right to determine fracking applications unless they approve them quickly, under new measures to be announced by the government today. Ministers want to fast-track applications through the planning process and will make clear that they will be likely to “call in” fracking applications, meaning the decision would be made by central government rather than locally. Fracking companies have complained that councils are taking too long to decide on applications and making unreasonable objections. In June, Lancashire county council rejected applications made more than a year earlier to drill and hydraulically fracture wells near Blackpool. Daisy Sands, of Greenpeace, said: “Local residents could end up with virtually no say over whether their homes, communities and national parks are fracked or not.”
Times 13th Aug 2015 read more »
Scotland could lose out on hundreds of millions of pounds of investment in a shale energy boom after the UK government announced yesterday that it would fast-track fracking proposals. Greg Clark, the UK communities secretary, said that the Westminster government intended to go “all out for shale” by actively considering “calling in” any application for shale gas exploration and extraction from councils, bypassing local opposition. However, the Scottish government has placed a moratorium on fracking in Scotland while consultation takes place on environmental concerns. The Scottish Conservatives warned last night that the delay could damage the Scottish economy, with significant planned investment in the fledgling industry going instead to England.
Times 13th Aug 2015 read more »
The fracking industry has had a shot in the arm as the government puts local councils on notice that ministers will step in to override any “slow and confused” decisions on shale drilling applications. A fast-track process taking effect from Thursday means the communities secretary will for the first time systematically assess all shale oil and gas applications to make sure councils rule on them quickly. Councils currently have 16 weeks to decide on such applications, and this rule will remain in place. But if they delay rulings or repeatedly knock back drilling applications that ministers deem reasonable, they will risk the communities secretary stepping in to overrule them.
FT 13th Aug 2015 read more »
Ministers will intervene on planning applications for controversial fracking operations if local authorities fail to act quickly enough, the government announced on Thursday, in a bid to fast-track fracking. Industry and the government have been frustrated at the slow rate of progress on exploratory fracking for shale gas and oil in the UK, which has been bogged down in the planning process. Ministers have been told that applications to drill and frack in Lancashire could be delayed by 16 months in an appeals process after they were rejected by Lancashire county council. Under the new planning guidance issued today, councils will be given a deadline of 16 weeks to approve or reject fracking applications. Greg Clark, the secretary of state for communities, will now systematically be able to ‘call in’ applications and decide himself.
Guardian 13th Aug 2015 read more »
Telegraph 13th Aug 2015 read more »
Herald 13th Aug 2015 read more »