West Cumbria has been ruled out of current plans for an underground nuclear waste storage facility, energy minister Baroness Verma has said. Cumbria had volunteered to consider housing the waste site, but the plan was vetoed by the county council. Copeland Council had wanted to press on with the plans for the site, which would not be built until at least 2025. However, Baroness Verma confirmed the county was no longer an option and an alternative UK site was being sought.
BBC 13th Feb 2013
Following a meeting with ministers local council leader that backed plan concedes current process to find a site has ended. Energy secretary Ed Davey and energy minister Baroness Verma met with the leaders of Copeland and Allerdale councils and local MP Jamie Reed yesterday to discuss how they might proceed with the process to find a location for a long-term nuclear waste storage facility in Cumbria. Cumbria County Council voted against the plans earlier this month – despite Copeland and Allerdale district councils voting in favour – effectively vetoing the plans. The councils were the last group participating in the government’s Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) process, which was designed to find a location for a long-term storage facility through a competition between local authorities. After the meeting, Copeland council leader Elaine Woodburn accepted that the current process was now “dead” and that the government would need to start fresh process to identify a possible site.
Building 13th Feb 2013
FOLLOWING the decision not to proceed with plans for a nuclear storage facility in Cumbria, Copeland politicians met with senior government figures to address the issue. Local MP Jamie Reed and Elaine Woodburn, leader of Copeland Borough Council, were among those to meet the secretary of state for energy and climate change Ed Davey. They discussed the outcome of the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) process, which ended with a no vote from Cumbria County Council last month. Mr Reed said: “The meeting with Ed Davey and Baroness Verma was very encouraging – it’s clear that the Sellafield workforce, Copeland and Allerdale Borough Councils and the government have a shared understanding about the problems surrounding radioactive waste management and of the need to move forward quickly. “It’s equally clear that government welcomes continued discussions with committed, informed, credible partners and that our Copeland and Allerdale councils are now in a much stronger position than they were before the County Council voted against its own policies. “The MRWS process in Cumbria is dead. The problem of radioactive waste management at Sellafield intensifies as a result and a new process is obviously now required.”
NW Evening Mail 13th Feb 2013
EDF 2012 results report states (in French) Hinkley Point C final investment decision will be made 1Q 2013 at earliest
EDF 13th Feb 2013
French utility EDF is expected cut more costs, sell assets and scale back investment as the state-controlled group struggles with a cap on electricity prices and heavy debts. When EDF reports 2012 earnings on Thursday, analysts predict the world’s largest single operator of nuclear plants is likely to embark on a one billion euro cost-cutting plan, on top of 2.5 billion euros ($3.34 billion) of cuts begun in 2011. EDF and other European utilities are burdened with big debts built up through rapid expansion before the 2008 crisis. They also face falling demand due to the weak economy in the region and a drive for greater energy efficiency.
Reuters 12th Feb 2013
EDF is now demanding a double subsidy of a high ‘strike price’ for electricity generated and ‘underwriting’ of at least some of the costs of building Hinkley C nuclear power station. EDF is edging towards the outcome that serious nuclear analysts always knew was the only basis for funding nuclear power – by the Government effectively writing a blank cheque for it. Make no mistake, allowing EDF to have state guarantees for the costs of Hinkley C will, on the basis of previous experience, result in the Government having to pay for those guarantees. This means that billions of pounds will be diverted from money available for hospitals, schools etc towards guaranteeing profits for EDF. In addition it seems that EDF is also demanding a high ‘strike price’, that is payment for electricity generated, on top of the Government agreeing to ‘underwrite’ its construction costs. The newspapers (see below) talk of EDF wanting a ’10 per cent’ return on Hinkley C. That, of course, would only be possible if EDF gets the state ‘underwriting’ guarantees (for the whole of the investment, not just part of it) because only then would banks and other lenders be willing to lend money to EDF to allow the rate of return to come down from the around 15 per cent that EDF shareholders would expect if the deal was funded wholly off EDF’s balance sheet.
Dave Toke’s Blog 12th Feb 2013
ENERGY giant EDF is in talks with the Government over a potential raid on the public purse to underwrite the costs of building new nuclear reactors. The news comes after one of EDF’s major backers for its planned new Sizewell C reactor on the Suffolk coast, Centrica, pulled a promised £2bn from the project. But the move is set to spark controversy after Prime Minister David Cameron vowed his Government would not subsidise any new nuclear projects from public funds. But sources close to Government yesterday confirmed talks were at a “very early stage”. It is thought the main focus so far has been on EDF’s plans for a new reactor at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
East Anglian Daily Times 13th Feb 2013
The government has today moved to downplay fears talks with EDF over payments for electricity from new nuclear plants have broken down, a scenario that would have a major impact on the UK’s energy strategy and carbon targets. Talks over the “strike price” for the French energy giant’s planned £14bn Hinkley Point plant in Somerset have dragged on since last year and The Times reports today that they have now “broken down” over the level of financial support EDF is demanding.
Business Green 12th Feb 2013
Hinkley Point energy giant EDF has asked the Government to back its investment in the nuclear reactors it wants to build in the UK. The French company has argued its multi-billion pound planned nuclear station in Somerset is one of the UK’s top five infrastructure projects and, as a result, could be eligible for a state-backed guarantee. The Financial Times reported that talks between EDF and the Government were at an early stage and formal discussions could start after both sides had agreed a fixed price for the nuclear power generated there. The Government has repeatedly said there would be no public subsidy for new nuclear reactors in the UK.
Western Daily Press 13th Feb 2013
Western Morning News 13th Feb 2013
Letter: Your front page article of February 12 was headlined “EDF asks for state backing on nuclear site” and warns of “controversy for a government that has pledged not to provide public subsidies for the industry”. I would suggest the headline should have read “more state backing”. And the lack of controversy to date is perhaps because the state backing has been heavily disguised, at the cost of lots more regulatory complexity.
FT 13th Feb 2013
Letter: Isn’t it high time that energy companies, as well as the financial sector, should be made to carry the burden of the damage they cause? With a little more legal jeopardy, Exxon, BP, Total, Shell and the others might have taken the precautionary measures to prevent accidents. And the same logic should be applied to the nuclear industry. If that entails that these industries are then stunted by the cost, that only goes to show that they are economically unsustainable in their current form. It is high time to end their special treatment.
FT 13th Feb 2013
A huge section of roofing covering part of the defunct nuclear power plant at Chernobyl has collapsed under the weight of snow. Officials immediately denied any threat of radiation even though the accident involved a cover on part of the workings of Reactor Number 4 which exploded in 1986 in the world’s worst atomic disaster.
Daily Mail 13th Feb 2013
Workers were forced to evacuate after a roof collapsed at Chernobyl, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, on Wednesday.
Telegraph 13th Feb 2013
BBC 13th Feb 2013
A section of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine has collapsed under the weight of snow. “The preliminary reason for the collapse was too much snow on the roof,” the agency said, adding that the radiation situation is “within the norm” and nobody was harmed in Tuesday’s incident. The area of the accident is estimated about 600 square metres, (6,500 square feet), the emergency agency said. A statement on the website of the power station described the accident as the “partial failure of the wall slabs and light roof of the Unit 4 Turbine Hall”.
e-News 13th Feb 2013
Ukrainian officials on Wednesday sought to reassure the public that radiation levels were unaffected at Chernobyl and there was no safety threat after a partial roof collapse at the exploded nuclear power plant.
CBS News 13th Feb 2013
Examiner 13th Feb 2013
In one of my previous posts I talked about the connection between nuclear power and nuclear weapons. In this post I am going to expand a bit more on the history of what is going on with Iran. This post is not about whether Iran has a nuclear weapons programme but to give some background on some of the reasons it is seeking its own source of enriched uranium.
Peter Lux 14th Feb 2013
Keith Taylor: A plant which enriches uranium is just about the last place you’d want to hear of having to shut down because of the ‘corrosion’ of its structural steelwork. But, following an investigation by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), it was revealed last week that the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston has indeed been hit by a temporary closure while further investigations into problems at the ageing facility take place.
Huffington Post 30th Jan 2013
Aero engineer Rolls-Royce has agreed a new ten year contract with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) which will help the department save up to 200 million pounds and sustain up to 2000 jobs in the UK. The company said on Wednesday that the new contract, which is worth around 800 million pounds, would help deliver cost savings around the provision of nuclear propulsion systems for Britain’s existing and future submarine flotilla. Rolls-Royce said the deal reinforces Britain’s commitment to the submarine programme.
Reuters 13th Feb 2013
A Fukushima prefectural government panel said Wednesday two young people, who were 18 or younger when the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi complex erupted in March 2011, have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, bringing the total number of such cases to three.
Mainichi 13th Feb 2013
NORTH Korea’s latest nuclear test is bad news, both for Asia and for a world that needs to reduce its reliance on nuclear weapons. But international overreaction – with responses that raise rather than lower the temperature, and push the region closer to a nuclear arms race – would make bad news even worse.
Scotsman 14th Feb 2013
Western scientists and intelligence agencies are racing to gather details of North Korea’s latest nuclear test, as diplomats, driven by the fear that Pyongyang is moving nearer to its goal of obtaining a nuclear-armed missile capable of hitting the US, scrambled to formulate their response.
Independent 13th Feb 2013
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Wednesday said she hoped Iran would show some “flexibility” at upcoming talks with world powers on its nuclear program in Kazakhstan.
EU Business 13th Feb 2013
US President Barack Obama clearly acknowledged the threat of climate change and the pressing need to do something about it in his annual state of the union address. He highlighted the potential for solar, wind and even natural gas – but nuclear power received not a single mention.
World Nuclear News 13th Feb 2013
A solar power company capable of “printing” colourful glass that can generate electricity from the sun’s energy announced a £2m funding boost on Tuesday. Oxford Photovoltaics, a spin-off from the University of Oxford, said the investment from clean-tech investors MTI Partners will help its solar glass, which can be dyed almost any colour, take a step closer to the commercial market.
Business Green 13th Feb 2013
Politicians of all hues love talking about community, urging people to get involved in planning, building and providing services for people in their area. But do they really know the cost to those involved? Do they realise the time, energy and expertise needed to jump through the many hoops involved to get a community scheme off the ground? Judging by my experience, I can only assume not. I’ve just moved into one of the North’s newest experiments in communal living; a pioneering eco-cohousing project just outside Lancaster, created and run by the people who live there. So I know how difficult it is to bring community schemes to fruition, and how government agencies, far from helping community projects thrive, can frustrate them.
Guardian 14th Feb 2013
I HOPE that Brian Wilson (Letters, February 12) is wrong, as wind power has to be a critical element in the strategy to wean civilisation off fossil fuels and mitigate global warming. That the global climate is in danger is evident in the disappearing ice in the Arctic – arguably the canary in the mine pointing to the presence of serious and unnatural global warming. Mr Wilson states that wind power is a green myth because output is unreliable, being available only 25% of the time. This is true only of a single wind farm. Farms at opposite ends of the country operating at different times in different winds could have an aggregated output of 50%. Farms spread over the continent could in theory be generating power 100% of the time if enough were built. However, this need not be necessary.
Herald 14th Feb 2013
ABERDEEN’S oilfield service companies could benefit from a massive expansion in the shale oil sector, according to accountant PricewaterhouseCoopers, but critics of the industry say the opportunity is overstated and the focus should be on the potential for green energy. The shale gas and oil industry has expanded rapidly in the US, although controversy remains over fracking – releasing hydrocarbons by pumping water, chemicals and sand at high pressure to fracture the shale rock. Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, highlighted the uncertainty about how much shale oil and gas in the UK can be extracted and concerns that fracking can pollute water supplies. The British Geological Society estimated only 10%-20% of the UK shale gas reserve may be recoverable. Mr Dixon said the Scottish oil industry has large opportunities in catering to the renewable sector, notably wind power, and from decommissioning old North Sea oil fields.
Herald 14th Feb 2013
SCOTLAND is sitting on up to £5 billion of natural gas reserves which could be extracted using the controversial technique known as fracking, financial experts said today. A report from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) said Scotland is in a prime position to “capitalise” on shale gas, which is produced by fracking, due to the expertise that already exists in the country’s oil and gas sector. Reserves of the gas, which has helped transform the fortunes of the United States economy, potentially lie beneath a huge swathe of central Scotland stretching from Aberdeenshire to Dumfries and Galloway.
Scotsman 14th Feb 2013