In October last year, the European Commission approved the state aid scheme in favour of the British nuclear power plant project Hinkley Point C. The German electricity supply company Greenpeace Energy has now decided to take legal action against this decision with the help of the renowned German energy law firm Becker Büttner Held (BBH). A number of municipal energy utilities, such as Stadtwerke Schwäbisch Hall, are considering and, respectively, preparing to join the lawsuit.
Becker Buttner-Held 12th March 2015 read more »
GDA – AP1000s
The Westinghouse AP1000 reactor design re-entered the GDA process in June 2014 and following a period of remobilisation, technical assessment work commenced in January 2015. We have now agreed revised resolution plans from Westinghouse for the 51 outstanding GDA issues. These issues will need to be resolved before ONR and Environment Agency can make a decision on whether to issue a Design Acceptance Confirmation and Statement of Design Acceptability for the AP1000 reactor design. Westinghouse are aiming to complete GDA in early 2017 but this will be dependent on the timely delivery of high quality documentation for regulatory assessment.
ONR 12th March 2015 read more »
Plans by NuGen to build a new nuclear power plant at Moorside in Cumbria took a step closer today after the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and Environment Agency (EA) moved the project to the General Design Assessment phase. The targeted completion the design of the plant is January 2017, with the first reactor due to come online in 2024. Once fully operational, the plant will provide 3.4GW, enough to power up to 6 million homes or 7 per cent of the UK’s electricity needs. NuGen, which plans to build three Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at the site on land to the north and west of Sellafield, said: “This notification that the regulators and Westinghouse are taking forward design assessment on the AP1000 to close-out, on a timescale in keeping with NuGen’s Moorside project delivery, is important news for us, and for the UK as a whole.”
New Civil Engineer 12th March 2015 read more »
The NuGen consortium behind plans for new build at Sellafield has unveiled its team as it prepares for a public consultation on its plans. It has hired Copper Consultancy, a specialist in public consultation for major infrastructure projects, which already has a presence at Westlakes Science Park. Fergus McMorrow, a former chief executive of Copeland Council, has joined NuGen’s planning team. And Dan Gould has joined as communications manager. Mr Gould has worked in communications in the nuclear industry for more than 10 years, including roles at DRS, BNFL and Magnox. He will take the lead in producing materials to support the NuGen consultation, and dealing with the media. The 10-week consultation begins in mid May with an exhibition in Whitehaven.
Cumberland News 12th Mar 2015 read more »
The top official at the Energy Department has admitted to not having “general confidence” that the escalating cost of cleaning up the Sellafield nuclear facility can be accurately forecast any time soon. Stephen Lovegrove, the Department’s Permanent Secretary, told The Independent that the huge range in the current estimate for decontaminating the Cumbrian site – £88bn to £218bn – illustrated the “level of uncertainty” in the forecasts. Mr Lovegrove was speaking after a hearing of the Public Accounts Committee yesterday afternoon. He told MPs that it was “impossible to know” the costs of the detoxification of one of the world’s most hazardous nuclear sites, a job that will not be completed until well into the 22nd century. Mr Lovegrove and John Clarke, the chief executive of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, appeared before the committee yesterday after Nuclear Management Partners (NMP), the private sector consortium overseeing the clean-up, was in effect sacked in January. Mr Clarke agreed with Mr Lovegrove, saying experts “can’t yet even start to scope” projects not due to start for many years – meaning that costs are likely to increase as problems are found.
Independent 12th Mar 2015 read more »
A fresh attack against the rising cost and delays in the decommissioning and cleaning up of the Sellafield nuclear site has been launched by MPs. Leading figures from the nuclear industry were questioned by the Public Accounts Committee following the revelation that the expected costs have increased by £5bn in a year, to £53bn. In a recent progress report on the work, the National Audit Office (NAO) criticised the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which oversees the plant, for delays in cancelling a clean-up contract with the consortium Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) after demands from MPs a year ago to do so. The report said the contract was terminated only last month, at a cost to the taxpayer of £430,000 in fees. Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who chairs the committee, described the rise as “astonishing” and repeated her criticism during a hearing yesterday. Mr Clarke told the committee it would be two years before communities would be invited to volunteer to be considered for sites where nuclear waste could be disposed of, with some form of financial benefit expected to be offered.
Whitehaven News 12th Mar 2015 read more »
Letter Eddie Martin: Let’s try to put this into context. Sellafield is the third most radioactive site in the world after Chernobyl and Fukushima and, at the site, expert staff are into chemistry and technology which few, if any in the world, have ever employed before. It really is cutting-edge technology and engineering and there is a very steep learning curve. but we are already exporting that expertise. What other part of the public sector would get away with a £5billion overrun; total £53bn thus far and rising. During my term of office, Cumbria County Council struggled to find £80m of savings and are still struggling to find another £80m. Think of the wonderful things we could achieve with £5bn. But we simply cannot ignore the ever-expanding volumes of nuclear waste. However, Sellafield/NDA really do seem to have an open cheque book; costs keep rising, spending spirals upwards and the budget increases, yet again. Cumbria – despite the undoubted employment opportunities which Sellafield affords – is poorly rewarded for housing most of the nation’s deadly waste. And that is unjust.
Whitehaven News 12th Mar 2015 read more »
THE Menai Bridge was decorated in Japanese flags on Wednesday as nuclear protestors marked four years since the Fukushima disaster. More than 40 campaigners attended the rally organised by People Against Wylfa B on the Anglesey end of the suspension bridge during the morning rush hour.
News North Wales 12th Mar 2015 read more »
Magnox has unveiled proposals to store intermediate level nuclear waste from Sizewell A at the old nuclear power plant in Essex. If approved by the authorities, including the nuclear watchdog and Essex County Council, the process of transporting a maximum of 15 packages could begin next year. The move is expected to save tax payers around £15million in building costs for a waste store at Sizewell, with the material being held in surplus space at Bradwell, and result in 600 fewer lorry movements.
East Anglian Daily Times 12th Mar 2015 read more »
RWM has been holding a series of events around the country to communicate the aims and methods of the National Geological Screening (NGS) exercise. The exercise will look at what geological attributes should be considered in producing national, high-level screening guidance, using existing geological information and based on the requirements of the generic geological disposal facility (GDF) safety cases. The resulting high-level guidance will then be applied across the country, in order to bring together high-level geological information relevant to the GDF safety cases.
NDA 12th March 2015 read more »
The UK government intends to work openly with experts in the field of community decision making in order to develop the detail of a process for working with communities. A Community Representation Working Group (CRWG) is being set up to help DECC develop the mechanisms for working with communities within the GDF siting process in future. This work will cover issues including how to define ‘community’ or types of community, how to provide effective representation, governance and decision making, how to deliver a test of public support and how to manage and disburse community investment. The group will be chaired by DECC, as the department responsible for the policy of geological disposal, and will have a core membership comprising the developer (Radioactive Waste Management), other relevant government departments, representatives with an insight into local government issues and academia. The CRWG will be supported by Local Partnerships, owned by HM Treasury and the Local Government Association who will gather evidence and literature on behalf of the group.
DECC 12th March 2015 read more »
The ‘environmentalist’ peer Baroness Worthington argued last week in the House of Lords for local authorities to be stripped of their powers to refuse the dumping of radioactive waste in their areas. Geneticist Becky Martin takes her to task in this Open Letter.
Ecologist 12th March 2015 read more »
In its final report of this Parliament, the Energy and Climate Change Committee (ECCC) says the next Government must turn its focus to nuclear power and carbon capture and storage (CCS) and provide better support for the research and development of low-carbon technologies. The interactive report, titled ‘Fueling the debate’, outlines the key challenges that the new Government must overcome if a decarbonised energy system is to be realised by 2030. The Committee, chaired by veteran Tory MP and nuclear and fracking enthusiast Tim Yeo, also provides an overview of its own role in what it calls a ‘defining period for energy and climate change policy’. Electricity market reform, improving competition in the market and exploring the potential for shale gas were particular successes of the ECCC, according to the report.
Edie 12th March 2015 read more »
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) carbon budget could provide the scientific basis for a global cap on emissions, suggested Tim Yeo, the outgoing chair of the UK’s energy and climate change committee. In its most recent report, the UN-backed panel of climate scientists calculated that total carbon dioxide emissions must be limited to 3,670 gigatonnes in order to prevent warming of more than two degrees Celsius. Around 1,890 gigatonnes of this “budget” had already been emitted by 2011. Yeo told a conference in London today that the remaining gigatonnes could guide governments in capping carbon globally through an emissions trading scheme.
Carbon Brief 12th March 2015 read more »
The government must ‘face down’ the anti-frackers as part of a balanced UK energy supply. In his last major speech as an MP, Tim Yeo, Chairman of the Commons’ Energy Committee, included this warning in the committee’s report on energy challenges facing the incoming British government after the May elections.
Scottish Energy News 13th Mar 2015 read more »
On 12th March 2015 the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee published their latest inquiry. This provided a review of their work over the course of the last Parliament and looked forward to ask what the energy system in 2030 might look like and what are the immediate challenges which need to be overcome in the next parliament might be. Prof. Catherine Mitchell was one of eight panel members asked to give their views on the future of challenges for energy and climate policy at the launch event and some of the ideas she put forward in this debate are summarised here: CM – Future Challenges for Energy Policy. The Energy Policy Group also submitted written evidence to the inquiry and the EPG submission can be accessed here or from the ECC website.
IGov 12th Mar 2015 read more »
Conservative plans to effectively ban new onshore wind farms will lead to higher energy prices for consumers, Tim Yeo, the senior Tory backbencher has claimed. In a valedictory speech on Thursday, Mr Yeo is expected to launch a scathing attack on “blind unreasoning hostility” to wind turbines from opponents whom he labels “climate change sceptics”. David Cameron pledged last year that a Conservative government would scrap subsidies for new onshore wind farms that are yet to gain planning consent – a move that would effectively prevent further turbines being built, since they are reliant on subsidies to be profitable. Mr Cameron said the public was “fed up” of onshore wind and Britain did not need any more. However, the Prime Minister has also insisted the Conservatives remain committed to the UK’s legally-binding long-term climate change targets. Mr Yeo said this would leave the Conservatives needing to spend more money on other, more expensive green power sources instead – such as offshore wind farms, which the party has so far supported despite its cost.
Telegraph 12th Mar 2015 read more »
The government has managed to “keep the lights on” – but buying in extra ‘safety net’ capacity at short notice has brought costs for the taxpayer and the environment. And the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee has declared that the government should not be congratulated on keeping the lights on.
Scottish Energy News 13th March 2015 read more »
Keeping the lights on over the winter has proved costly both financially and environmentally, peers will say today. While the blackouts predicted by some commentators did not transpire, the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee will say the UK “sailed too close to the wind” by letting the gap between generation capacity and demand shrink to its lowest level in years.
Business Green 12th March 2015 read more »
Letter: I disagree with the contentions of Professors Younger and McInnes (Letters, March 10) that it is impossible to generate electricity without the continued use of fossil fuels to provide base load. The source of this assertion lies in the need, in our traditional grid system, to actively intervene to balance supply and demand, otherwise frequency stability is degraded and this “balancing act” is deemed to be severely compromised by the introduction of “inflexible” and “intermittent” renewable sources. Surprisingly, perhaps, in general electrical engineering practice outside the power supply industry, this deliberate need for predictive balancing of supply and demand is not an issue. For example, any stand-alone complex electronic device, such a mobile phone, laptop computer or electric car, is a small but self-contained power system. It exhibits varying power demand from a multiplicity of electrical circuits and components influenced by changing operational modes, while the electrical supply comes from an energy storage device (usually a battery). Significantly, this energy source delivers power only when it is needed. Thus supply and demand are automatically balanced. If the battery is rechargeable, which it usually is, then balanced demand/supply is maintained as long as the battery contains sufficient charge. Importantly, it does not matter how erratic or intermittent the charging process is as long as on average over a defined time period, the charging power supplied to the battery is equal to or greater than the power demanded over the same interval, by the electrical circuits of the device in question. The inference is that an electrical power supply system, at the national grid level, can function perfectly adequately with intermittent renewables acting as the primary power sources, if the supply si de is buffered from the demand side by massive energy storage (MES) plants such as pumped hydroelectric schemes. A few of these storage facilities are already in place in Scotland. There are many other massive storage technologies which could be implemented, for example the Nordhaven “green island” storage scheme near Copenhagen but, tragically, their development is almost non-existent at the present time.
Herald 13th Mar 2015 read more »
Gas and electricity bills would be cut by up to 10 per cent next winter if Labour wins power in May, Ed Miliband will promise tomorrow. The Labour leader will announce that his party would rush through legislation forcing the energy regulator Ofgem to ensure that the fall in the global oil price is passed on to households and business by next Christmas. The “Big Six” energy firms have been accused of not sharing the benefits of falling wholesale prices with their customers. Labour claims its proposed price cut would be worth at least Â£100 a year to a typical family, and a total of Â£2.5bn to householders and business. The final decision on price cuts by individual firms would be made by Ofg em, which would have a duty to ensure “fair prices”.
Independent 13th March 2015 read more »
Guardian 13th March 2015 read more »
The EU has blocked Hungary’s €12bn nuclear deal with Russia, a decision that is likely to inflame tensions between the Kremlin and Brussels. The ruling from the European Commission is a setback for Viktor Orban, Hungary’s prime minister, who has courted the Kremlin despite the conflict in Ukraine. Russia and Hungary agreed last year to build two 1,200 megawatt nuclear reactors in the town of Paks, 75 miles south of Budapest, in a deal that would have extended Moscow’s commercial reach deep into central Europe. Contracts for designing, building and maintaining the plants were awarded to a subsidiary of Russia’s state-owned nuclear group Rosatom in December. Budapest’s decision to award the bulk of contracts for the two reactors to Rosatom without a public competition prompted the commission to launch a probe into whether the deal violated public procurement and state aid rules. The investigations are continuing.
FT 12th March 2015 read more »
Hungary denied Thursday a newspaper report that the European Union has vetoed its planned nuclear project with Russia, a move which could strain frosty relations between Moscow and Brussels. A Hungarian cabinet state secretary Andras-Giro-Szasz “firmly denied” the report, in a statement to Hungarian state newswire MTI. The Financial Times newspaper reported Thursday that EU nuclear body Euratom has refused Hungary’s plans to import nuclear fuel from Russia in a decision backed by the European Commission, scuppering the planned expansion of the Paks nuclear power plant, kilometres (75 miles) south of Budapest. “It is not true that the EU has blocked the Paks II construction,” Giro-Szasz, communication state secretary for the prime minister’s office, told MTI. Giro-Szasz said he has asked the FT to issue a correction, MTI added.
EU Business 12th Mar 2015 read more »
Hungary is nearing a deal with the European Union’s nuclear energy agency Euratom about details of a Hungarian-Russian deal to expand its Paks nuclear power plant after Euratom questioned elements of the deal, a top government official said on Friday. The Hungarian prime minister’s chief of staff, Janos Lazar, told public radio that fuel supply was one element of a multi-faceted deal and that Euratom would like to enable suppliers other than Russians to ship fuel to Paks.
Reuters 13th Mar 2015 read more »
State senator Sean Edwards is advocating for nuclear energy to become part of South Australia’s energy mix, importing and recycling used nuclear fuel to generate energy and revenue for the state. Edwards announced his plans to provide a submission to the recently announced Royal Commission on South Australia’s role in the nuclear fuel cycle, calling for it to investigate the potential of leveraging the unused uranium and plutonium left in fuel that has already fuelled nuclear power plants elsewhere. A world-wide inventory of 240,000 tonnes of used nuclear fuel could underpin a strategy giving the state a “transformative economic advantage”, he said.
World Nuclear News 12th March 2015 read more »
The future of France’s nuclear industry has never looked bleaker, with a government pledging to wean the country off atomic power, cut-throat rivalry in world export markets and the debt of flagship nuclear group Areva in junk territory. But even with a painful overhaul and lean years ahead for the nuclear sector, the fuel which after World War Two powered France’s rise to the Group of Seven nations remains the bedrock of its energy independence and is so strategically vital that Paris will not let Areva fail. That is the premise underpinning a new industrial strategy due to be announced by Areva and domestic utility EDF in coming months, while President Francois Hollande is softening his resolve to reduce the share of nuclear in France’s electricity mix. Hollande has charged Areva’s new management team, led by Philippe Varin, to work with EDF to come up with a new industrial and financial strategy by end July. Details are scarce so far, but industry sources agree that one likely outcome is a deeper involvement of EDF, possibly a capital stake, in Areva’s reactor business and a possible sale of part of its uranium mines to Chinese investors. Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron told Reuters on Monday the two firms could forge an industrial alliance and that EDF may consider a capital investment in Areva’s reactor business.
Reuters 11th Mar 2015 read more »
Japan – Fukushima
Four years ago, after a devastating tsunami left 18,000 Japanese dead, Japan faced another, potentially bigger, catastrophe: 300,000 people had to be evacuated as several reactors of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant started to melt down on March 11, 2011. In 2015, has the world forgotten the threat that was posed by Fukushima? Here are three ways the disaster is still having an impact today. Nuclear radiation remains dangerous in and around the destroyed reactors. Villages in its proximity will remain a no-go zone for inhabitants for an unpredictably long time. The nuclear power plant itself is far from being secured: Its owner TEPCO has so far been unable to remove hundreds of fuel rods stored nearby because the 2011 earthquake destabilized or destroyed large parts of the buildings. Furthermore, radiation continues to contaminate underground water.
Washington Post 12th March 2015 read more »
On the basis of detailed analysis, the National Cooperative for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste in Switzerland (Nagra) has narrowed down the number of areas under active consideration for siting from six to two. These are Zürich Nordost and Jura Ost. The other four regions – Südranden, Nördlich Lägern, Jura-Südfuss and Wellenberg – will be placed in reserve. These proposals are the result of a safety-based comparison carried out by Nagra in line with requirements specified by the Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (ENSI).
NDA 12th March 2015 read more »
Hawaii is on track to pass legislation this year requiring the state to go 100 percent renewable by 2040. Earlier this month, committees in the Hawaii House and Senate both unanimously recommended bills that would raise the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) from the current target of 70 percent by 2030 to the ultimate goal of 100 percent by 2040. Hawaii has had an RPS since 2001, and right now the state gets just over 21 percent of its power from renewable sources — a 12 percent increase in just six years.
Renew Economy 12th March 2015 read more »
Defence Nuclear Safety
More than 450 nuclear safety incidents have been reported at Faslane, new figures show. Up to 451 safety incidents happened between 2008/9 and 2013/14, which involved at least 71 fires and major equipment failures at the naval base. In the past year, the number of accidents has almost doubled from 68 in 2012/13 to 107 in 2013/14. Figures released in response to a parliamentary question by SNP MP Angus Robertson revealed that 12 of the incidents were Category B — the second highest level.
Daily Record 12th Mar 2015 read more »
The Russian Federation has begun construction of the world’s largest universal nuclear-powered icebreaker. Officially called the LK-60 (unofficially, the Arctic), the ship will generate 175 MW of electric power. The cost for the record-breaking vessel is reported to be 36,959 billion rubles ($1.16 billion).
Hydraulics and Pneumatics 12th Mar 2015 read more »
UNUSUALLY in the last week of this parliament, foreign affairs debates have become more significant, and I hope that the election campaign also includes a serious debate on Britain’s role in the world. On Monday there was a debate on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and Britain’s role in the review conference which takes place at the UN from the end of April.
Morning Star 13th Mar 2015 read more »
Renewables – solar
In 2003 SunEdison pioneered power purchase agreements (PPAs) as a way for companies to buy solar energy without the cost of investing in installing the panels. Almost 12 years later, the company has brought the model to UK households, reflecting a seismic shift for what is regarded as the largest renewable energy developer in the world following last year’s $2.4bn acquisition of First Wind. The SunEdison Energy Saver Plan will see the company install rooftop solar systems for free and then sell the electricity at a reduced rate to the homeowner, who can save up to 15 per cent on their energy bills.
Business Green 12th March 2015 read more »
Renewables – Tidal
A pioneering Scottish renewables power company is getting ready to take delivery of the world’s biggest and most powerful tidal turbine for its sea-trials off Orkney this summer.
Scottish Energy News 13th Mar 2015 read more »
EDINBURGH-based Celtic Renewables, which produces biofuel from residues of the whisky industry, has won £500,000 further investment. The company received £250,000 from the Scottish Investment Bank, the investment arm of Scottish enterprise. An existing private investor provided £250,000. Celtic Renewables recently unveiled the first samples of bio-butanol from the by-products of whisky fermentation using a process developed by its scientists. The company hopes to build its first demonstration facility at the Grangemouth petrochemical plant by 2018.
Herald 13th Mar 2015 read more »
Energy company Celtique Energie has dropped plans to test for shale oil in two sites in West Sussex, after the government announced a last-minute change to the law that would ban drilling in national parks. The South Downs National Park Authority and West Sussex County Council unanimously rejected plans for exploratory shale oil and gas wells at Fernhurst and Wisborough Green last year.
Guardian 12th March 2015 read more »
Scuttling coal: How ending unabated coal generation can stimulate investment, cut bills and tackle carbon pollution. IPPR report models the impacts of reducing the UK’s high unilateral carbon prices, which place unnecessary burdens on business and household bills, and introducing an emissions performance standard that would phase-out unabated coal generation in a more controlled and cost-effective way and stimulate investment in alternative capacity.
IPPR 12th Mar 2015 read more »
The UK can stop burning coal and cut energy bills at the same time by introducing a new emissions cap, according to a new report by think tank IPPR. The analysis, entitled Scuttling Coal, calls for the introduction of an Emissions Performance Standard (EPS) in 2017 that would limit carbon dioxide emissions to 450g per kWh for existing coal-fired plants, a measure which new stations are already required to follow.
Energy Desk 12th Mar 2015 read more »