The much trailed debate on the 140 tonnes of UK-owned plutonium stockpiled at Sellafield took place today at Westminster today 14th June 2016. In the event the word ‘debate’ was a complete misnomer as the half-hour session consisted of a 20 minute impassioned plea from the Copeland MP and a 10 minute response from MP Andrea Leadsom, Minister of State at the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC). There was no debate. In his plea to Government to come to a quick decision on a new Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX) fabrication plant at Sellafield , Jamie Reed reminded the Minister of State -and the meagre handful of other attendees – that in the immediate wake of the 2011 closure of the failed Sellafield MOX Plant (SMP) – a new facility had been promised by Government, that there were consequences in delaying a decision on the MOX re-use of plutonium which he described as a ‘powerful asset’, and that no community (West Cumbria) was so reliant on the nuclear industry. In her response, the Minister of State began with the now customary Government ‘love-in’ with Sellafield, its workforce and all things nuclear before moving onto the thorny problem of plutonium disposition. She made it clear that all options for plutonium under consideration by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) – treating it as a waste product, re-using it as MOX in LWR or CANDU reactors or for fuelling the PRISM fast reactor – currently suffered not only from ‘insufficient understanding’ but also from varying degrees of maturity. Whilst assuring Jamie Reed that all options will lead to new jobs, she emphasised that a Government decision on a new MOX plant ‘can’t and won’t be taken quickly’. Pointing out the need to learn lessons from the multi-million dollar overspend being incurred at the Savannah River MOX plant in the US, she promised that the finally selected option for the UK’s plutonium ‘must offer best value for UK taxpayers’. In effect, the Minister of State’s response simply mirrrored the NDA’s latest update on plutonium management announced just two months ago – that a decision on a new MOX plant or other option was unlikely to be made for a further decade. There is some surprise therefore, from observers outside todays ‘debate’, that those recent NDA findings had not registered with the Sellafield MP.
CORE 14th June 2016 read more »
PEOPLE across Cumbria are divided over plans to build a new Mox plant to utilise the UK’s plutonium stockpile. Copeland MP, Jamie Reed, addressed parliament yesterday to encourage a “clear, coherent and timetabled plan” to make the most of Sellafield’s nuclear waste. Around 140 tonnes of plutonium is currently being stored at the west Cumbrian site and Mr Reed believes his constituents are sitting on a gold mine that could create thousands of new jobs in the coming years. The Labour MP, who is a member of the energy and climate change select committee, and a vice chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on nuclear, said: “Government must take action now to plan for an efficient and effective way to dispose of our nuclear stockpile. “It’s not a waste, it’s an asset and the longer we leave it, the harder it becomes to do anything with.” It is believed the plant could create as many as 5,000 jobs during construction, in addition to a further 1,000 once it’s operational. Stuart Klosinski, project and programme manager of the Furness Economic Development Forum, has welcomed the idea saying it would create a “tremendous boost” for the area. He said: “Making use of that stockpile in the way Jamie Reed suggests would be a tremendous boost for Cumbria. The original Sellafield Mox plant shut in 2011 and yielded only 13.8 tonnes of Mox fuel over its nine-year life, well short of the 120 tonnes predicted. Energy minister, Andrea Leadsom, said the government would not be able to make a decision on the second plant any time soon, but Mr Reed says there can be no delay.
NW Evening Mail 14th June 2016 read more »
Hansard 14th June 2016 read more »
The following is a Guest Blog from a close neighbour of the proposed Moorside Project. Seven years ago we were horrified to learn that RWE, with the backing of DECC and the government, were planning on building a nuclear power plant on fields immediately behind us. We were even less impressed to find that we had just two weeks to formulate a response which might help protect us. Despite having no knowledge we did it. We even stood up to the bullying MPs of the Select Committee, who tried to cut short our measly 15 minute allocation. Along with so many others we eventually managed to get sense to prevail and the Kirksanton and Braystones submissions were both abandoned. E.on RWE and subsequently Germany as a whole, abandoned nuclear expansion. Today, the reasons given by government for abandoning Braystones and Kirksanton remain just as valid and apply too, to the Moorside site. Anyway, we heaved a sigh of relief. We could now get back to enjoying a peaceful retirement in our chosen location; one which our family has had connections with for 100 years. Now, the Big Boys are back: this time with plans to build a three reactor site. They even came up with a brand new name for the area, “Moorside” a green field site that has been re-labelled a brown field site for no good reason.
Radiation Free Lakeland 13th June 2016 read more »
NuGen is investigating how bat roosts close to the Moorside development will be affected by upcoming work. Earlier in the year, ecological specialists from Amec Foster Wheeler identified trees, buildings and other structures that have the potential to hold bat roosts and the teams are now returning to these locations to carry out bat roost surveys to see how they can mitigate the effect of the work and consider the possibility of relocating the roosts if necessary.
Whitehaven News 14th June 2016 read more »
The retrieval of mixed waste from the underground chambers at the decommissioned Berkeley nuclear power plant in the UK is progressing. Clearance of these vaults will enable the two Magnox units to enter a period of long-term passive storage. The Berkeley site housed some 620 tonnes of metallic fuel element debris (FED) and 6665 containers – some of which are sludge cans – in three underground vaults. A single silo houses charge rods and the chutes used to discharge fuel from the site’s two Magnox reactors. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) said today it achieved its first major milestone in March when the chute silos were declared empty. “Although we originally anticipated that all the material would be intermediate-level waste (ILW), a campaign of innovative retrieval techniques and segregation enabled some of it to be disposed of as low-level waste and very low-level waste, diverting over 50 tonnes away from the site’s interim storage facility and saving millions of pounds,” said Paul Oswald, Berkeley site head of projects.
World Nuclear News 14th June 2016 read more »
The cheapest energy deals in the market are set to rise as wholesale costs rebound and green levies increase, industry experts have forecast. Several small suppliers have already started to increase their one-year fixed-price deals, with Ovo Energy announcing a rise of 7.6pc, or £63 a year, for new customers. The company said its costs for purchasing gas for the year ahead were up by 23pc since January, and electricity costs up 16pc, while non-commodity costs such as power plant subsidies had also risen and were set to rise further. Fears of a supply crunch this winter could also lead to further wholesale electricity price increases, experts warned. Industry consultant Cornwall Energy said its analysis showed that costs for suppliers had been broadly falling since the start of 2014 but it believed that “the cost s of domestic energy supply are reaching the bottom of their current cycle”, with wholesale prices now ticking up.
Telegraph 14th June 2016 read more »
By 2028 it will be cheaper to generate power by building a new onshore wind farm than by turning on an existing gas plant, according to an annual report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The report said the UK’s generation mix will “change dramatically” over the next 25 years, with new utility-scale solar also becoming cheaper than existing gas by 2033. Between now and 2040 $186 billion will be invested in the UK’s energy system, the report said, with 77 per cent being spent on renewables. As a result fossil fuels’ share of the generation mix will roughly halve to 30 per cent, while renewables share will roughly double to 70 per cent. Despite this gas will remain the largest single source of power (110TWh). It said government support for “uneconomic nuclear and offshore wind capacity will account for nearly half of all investment” with $56 billion being spent on offshore wind and $34 billion being spent on nuclear. Solar will account $49 billion of spending, largely driven by domestic uptake. Because of the government’s support, the report said offshore wind and nuclear will make up a majority of new capacity between now and 2030, with gas and small-scale solar also making significant contributions.
Utility Week 14th June 2016 read more »
Sovereign wealth fund Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) has told French authorities it wants to sell its stake in nuclear group Areva. La Lettre de l’Expansion reported on Monday. KIA is Areva’s second-biggest shareholder with a 4.82 percent stake, according to ThomsonReuters data. The newsletter said the Kuwaiti fund had complained that its investment in Areva, which is majority owned by the French government, was made based on incorrect company accounts.
Reuters 13th June 2016 read more »
France’s Areva SA detailed plans to raise as much as €8 billion ($9 billion) mostly from the government and selling assets in a wide-ranging restructuring of the state-controlled, nuclear-engineering group after years of losses.
Wall Street Journal 15th June 2016 read more »
EPRs – Olkiuoto
One of the main international customers for a much-delayed and costly nuclear reactor has expressed deep worries over the future of France’s atomic industry amid signs of political wrangling. Finland’s TVO was the first customer for French nuclear group Areva’s European Pressurised Reactor technology – due to also be used at the UK’s controversial Hinkley Point power station – but the project has been beset by large cost overruns and a delay of almost a decade. The two companies had been in negotiations in recent weeks to resolve multibillion-euro legal claims by both parties, as well as pave the way for the sale of a majority stake in Areva’s nuclear reactor business to French utility EDF. But the sudden breakdown of those talks has rattled TVO, which operates some of Finland’s nuclear power plants. Jarmo Tanhua, chief executive, told the Financial Times of his big concerns about the future of France’s nuclear industry. “We are afraid of what is happening. One thing is we don’t really understand why we don’t proceed with the negotiations. Our understanding is that it has something to do with the restructuring in France or the politics,” he said. The issue is likely to be raised by Finland’s prime minister, Juha Sipila, when he visits his French counterpart Manuel Valls on Wednesday in Paris. The £18bn Hinkley Point project has raised political concerns in both the UK and France as well as worries about the viability of EDF, which is planning to build the power station based on Areva’s technology. Areva’s EPR technology was meant to mark a renaissance for Europe’s nuclear industry, with TVO’s Olkiluoto 3 plant in Finland being the first new reactor in western Europe for decades. But problems with the reactor’s design and lack of expertise has meant that Olkiluoto 3 is now due to start electricity production in 2018, compared with an original start date of 2009. State-controlled Areva, and its former joint venture partner Siemens of Germany, are suing TVO for 3.5bn euros in an arbitration case, while the Finnish company is countersuing for 2.6bn euros. Mr Tanhua said he believed TVO and Areva had been “quite close to agreement” over settling the legal disputes, and allowing the carveout of any liabilities from Olkiluoto 3 to enable state-controlled EDF to buy its stake in Areva NP, the reactor business.
FT 14th June 2016 read more »
ANTI-NUCLEAR activists from across Wales join a seven-day blockade of Burghfield Atomic Weapons Establishment today, echoing the call for the Trident programme to be dismantled. A Welsh contingent will bolster the protest outside the nuclear site, where English, Scottish and various European protesters have been assembling since June 6.
Morning Star 15th June 2016 read more »
Emissions Targets – Scotland
Emissions in 2014 were 46 per cent below 1990 levels, significantly exceeding the country’s 2020 target of reducing emissions by 42 per cent.
Business Green 14th June 2016 read more »
Scotland has exceeded a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 42% – six years early. New statistics show its 2014 emission levels were 45.8% lower than in 1990. The Scottish government had set a target to reduce emissions by at least 42% by 2020, and 80% by 2050. Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham welcomed the “outstanding progress” and confirmed that the government would now set a “new and more testing 2020 target”. Figures published on the Scottish government’s website also revealed that Scotland met its annual climate change targets for the first time since 2010. But environmental campaigners said the loss of heavy industry and warm winters contributed more to the cut in emissions than bold government policy. There was a 39.5% drop in Scottish source emissions between 1990 and 2014, compared to the UK’s 33% reduction over the same period. Jim Densham, of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, said it was “great news” that Scotland had hit its target and it proved it was possible to cut emissions “while building a progressive and productive society”. “However apart from the electricity and waste sectors, it’s hard to see a bold fingerprint of Scottish government policy driving the transition to a zero carbon economy,” he said.
BBC 14th June 2016 read more »
STV 14th June 2016 read more »
Guardian 14th June 2016 read more »
Holyrood 14th June 2016 read more »
Scotsman 14th June 2016 read more »
Herald 15th June 2016 read more »
Editorial: what is at the heart of the matter here is how the figure was achieved. Are we aware of attitudes changing, and our behaviour now contributing to a fall in emissions? We would love to say yes, but in reality, we would be kidding ourselves. A lot of the reduction has come from circumstances rather than intent. Environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham yesterday claimed that a reduction in residential emissions “may have been due to people turning down their heating”. If she is right and that did happen, it would probably be possible to count on the fingers of one hand the number of people who did this for the good of the planet. Most probably turned their heating down because they did not need it. Over the period, we experienced mild weather. A government minister should be able to point to far more convincing evidence, if this is a clear government target – which it is. The danger is that if we do not really know why something happened, we cannot say whether the stats represent a variation or an enduring trend, and next year – or the year after – the figures could revert to where they were.
Scotsman 15th June 2016 read more »
Scotland has met its emissions targets six years early, according to new figures released yesterday. But as the statistics were published, Nicola Sturgeon came under fresh pressure to lift her government’s moratorium on fracking in Scotland. Jim Sillars, the former deputy leader of the SNP, claimed that fracking could save Scotland’s industrial base, while Ineos, the company leading the campaign for fracking in Scotland, argued that it had science on its side. Yesterday Mr Sillars launched a highly critical attack on Labour for abandoning its working-class supporters, many of whom needed the jobs a fracking boom could supply. He berated Kezia Dugdale, the Scottish Labour leader, for opposing fracking. He said: “There is already one scientific report on the desk of the Scottish government saying that, properly regulated, fracking should take place in Scotland. It is unlikely the expected second report will contradict the first.” He suggested that it might have been wiser to see both reports before opposing fracking so completely. “Hysteria, not science, motivates the anti-fracking lobby. Misery for those who cannot turn on the heating at home is what results from po licy driven by green propaganda,” he said.
Times 15th June 2016 read more »
The Scottish Government plans to set a new and more testing climate-change target for 2020 after exceeding the existing benchmark six years early. Figures published on Tuesday show a 45.8% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions was achieved by 2014. The government had set a goal of reducing emissions by at least 42% by 2020, and 80% by 2050. She said: “I can advise the chamber that I am writing to the Committee on Climate Change today, seeking their advice on Scotland’s future targets in response to the Paris Agreement. “These ambitious new targets will serve as a statutory impetus to further action. “Delivery will require co-ordinated approaches across portfolios and the reflection of climate-change considerations at the very highest level of government.” She added: “We set ourselves a high bar and are showing by our deeds, as well as our words, that Scotland can indeed lead the world. Mark Ruskell, the Scottish Greens’ climate change spokesman, said: “It is clear that quirks in accounting, warm weather, wind farms and recycling have finally resulted in a met target. “It is hard to see how Scottish Government policy has delivered much of this progress and we still have much to do on transport and housing.” Labour’s Claudia Beamish welcomed the progress but said there needed to be “a significant strengthening of policies”.
The National 15th June 2016 read more »
Alan Simpson: The campaign to Remain cannot be left to the grey men of British politics, writes Alan Simpson. The Labour leadership must proclaim the case for a green Europe that belongs to its people not its corporations, inspiring voters with a positive vision of the EU as it ought to be – and that we can bring about only as fully engaged members.
Ecologist 13th June 2016 read more »
The ravaged land of a major coal city in northern China has been reclaimed by a thriving solar sector.
China Dialogue 9th June 2016 read more »
Los Angeles City Council is going to consider a motion this month that would direct the municipal utility to determine how to move the city to 100 percent renewable energy. The motion already has broad support from councilmembers, and Los Angeles officials confirmed that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has begun work on the report, which will be developed with research partners, including the Dept. of Energy. The motion from council members Paul Krekorian and Mike Bonin reads: LADWP is on the verge of making significant investments in its infrastructure, and with that 100-year-old power system in need of significant upgrades, the city has an opportunity to re-create its utility in a way that recognizes the potential for a fossil-free future, demonstrates global leadership in its commitment to clean energy, and protects ratepayers from the increasing costs of carbon-based fuels. The importance of the economics here cannot be underestimated. Los Angeles’ $57 million worth of LED lights, for example, will have paid themselves off in less than six years — a staggering return on investment. A report published last fall found that cities could save themselves $17 trillion by pursuing clean energy options such as increased efficiency, “aggressive” solar installations, and better public transportation.
Climate Progress 10th June 2016 read more »
“A solar panel”, says Pablo Cotarelo, “is a way to redistribute wealth”. The energy analyst is sitting in the little courtyard of Rosa de Foc, a social centre in Barcelona. Inside, members of the food co-op are collecting their weekly fruit and veg; here in the yard a group of activists from the UK are listening to Cotarelo describe the ‘energy revolution’ planned for the city. They’ve come over on a social movement ‘tour’ with Global Justice Now, a group which campaigns against poverty and injustice and pushes for democratic ownership of resources. “We are trying to establish a kind of co-operative with state ownership – a ‘public citizen’ company. It’s a very new proposal, not tried before in Spain”, explains Cotarelo. The radical plan is made possible by the takeover of City Hall by ‘citizen’s platform’ Barcelona En Comu last year. De-privatising water and energy is high on the agenda.
Bella Caledonia 11th May 2016 read more »
Renewables – offshore wind
Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse is today due to formally launch the start of the development work to build the £2.6 billion Beatrice offshore wind parc in the Moray Firth. Wheelhouse will join Global Energy Group Chairman, Roy MacGregor, and senior managers from SSE (the biggest single equity-holder in the project) and Siemens for a multi-million pound contract signing at Nigg Energy Park.
Scottish Energy News 15th June 2016 read more »
Renewables – Island Energy
A Hebridean community energy trust has shared in a £1 million hand-out to 20 charities by the Highland Sustainable Development Fund. The Isle of Canna Community Development Trust has been awarded £100,000 towards the installation of a renewable-energy powered grid to serve the current population and local businesses. The island is not connected to the mainland electricity grid and currently relies on environmentally-damaging diesel generation. The island was bequeathed to the National Trust for Scotland by the Gaelic folklorist and scholar John Lorne Campbell in 1981. The Highland Sustainable Development Fund – funded by SSE’s onshore wind farms – is open to all non-profit making organisations, community groups and charities with a project that will provide benefit in the Highland region. It is expected to release over £20 million in awards over the next 25 years. The fund will open again in autumn 2017.
Scottish Energy News 15th June 2016 read more »
Pressure is growing on the UK government to release a report into the impacts of shale gas fracking, which campaigners have accused ministers of suppressing. The Committee on Climate Change, which advises parliament on meeting the UK’s carbon targets, submitted the report in March. It covers the expected impact of exploiting the UK’s onshore oil and gas resources on nationally set greenhouse gas targets. It can only be published when the secretary of state for energy has responded. Green activists suspect that ministers are wary of the potentially explosive impact of the report, which is likely to find that fracking would be an addition to the UK’s carbon dioxide output, if pursued to the extent that ministers support. As well as being a wholly untapped new source of fossil fuel, and thus carbon, fracking has also been found to release more carbon than conventional oil and gas exploration, because of the difficulty of production and the dangers of leakage. “The government is trying to start a whole new fossil fuel industry and is sitting on a report from its official advisers about the impact,” said Tony Bosworth, campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “It must publish as soon as possible, and certainly before any decision about fracking in Lancashire. If it doesn’t, the suspicions that it is trying to keep the report quiet will continue.” If the report suggests that fracking could endanger the UK’s climate targets, it would be a key weapon for anti-fracking campaigners in their fight against the granting of planning permission for shale gas and oil works. A legal challenge being consideredagainst North Yorkshire council’s decision to allow fracking in Ryedale is based on claims that it has not adequately considered the climate impact of the technology.
Guardian 14th June 2016 read more »
David Smythe, an emeritus professor of geophysics and a leading critic of the fracking industry, has had his university email address cancelled, and his access to scientific journals cut off. The action was taken without notice by the university authorities in January a few days after Smythe posted online a discussion paper critical of fracking safety and regulation in the UK. He has since been attempting to persuade the university to reinstate his access, but so far without success. Smythe has submitted a series of objections to fracking plans in England, and appeared as an expert witness for community groups opposing plans to exploit coalbed methane near Falkirk in 2014. He has had a bitter public row with Glasgow University’s energy engineering professor, Paul Younger, who has voiced support for fracking.
Ferret 14th June 2016 read more »
Nearly 400 international scientists called on Barack Obama to rule out further expansion of oil and gas exploration in Arctic waters under US control. The letter, signed by prominent Arctic, marine and climate specialists – including a former member of Obama’s administration, urges the president to rule out any future hunting for oil in the waters of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. The letter follows a series of new heat and melting records in the Arctic, which have stunned scientists. Last week it was warmer in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, than in New York City. The Danish Meteorological Society said the 75F temperature was the second heat record since April, and followed a very early start to the ice melt season. In addition to putting the entire Beaufort and Chukchi seas off-limits for the next oil and gas leasing offer, from 2017 to 2022, the letter urged the administration to consult native Alaskan groups on any further Arctic developments.
Guardian 14th June 2016 read more »
CHEMICALS giant Ineos has hit out at “untrue and disingenuous” arguments against fracking and challenged Scottish Labour MSPs to supply evidence that backs up demands for a ban. The global firm, which holds fracking exploration licences across the central belt but has seen progress halted by an SNP moratorium, entered a fraught political row by disputing Labour’s repeated claims that “the science is clear” against unconventional onshore gas extraction. In a dramatic intervention, it called for a face-to-face meeting with the party to “properly understand” its concerns and to “make the case for a fair hearing for shale gas development in Scotland”. In a letter to Claudia Beamish, the Labour MSP who won the backing of Holyrood in calling for a ban earlier this month after the SNP abstain ed, Ineos states it is “very surprised” at her argument that a ban is justified because “the last thing our planet needs is another fossil fuel”.
Herald 15th June 2016 read more »
Ineos letter to Claudia Beamish.
Scottish Energy News 15th June 2016 read more »
Environmental campaigners have criticised the annual Oil and Gas Conference taking place in Aberdeen for failing to recognise the urgency of the climate crisis and the need to put Scotland on a path to a clean energy future. The conference coincides with Scotland meeting its climate targets for the first time. Friends of the Earth Scotland Director Dr Richard Dixon said, “It is ironic that on the day the Scottish Government announced that it has met its climate targets for the first time, oil and gas firms are meeting to discuss how to drill for every last drop in the North Sea. The future of the fossil fuel industry cannot be discussed in a parallel universe where climate change doesn’t matter.
FoE-Scotland 14th June 2016 read more »
The Paris Agreement was signed with a goal of holding climate change below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. While countries make commitments, the financial sector continues to finance risky, environmentally destructive sectors of the fossil fuel industry. In Shorting the Climate, the new report from RAN, BankTrack, Sierra Club and Oil Change International, we’re calling on the global banking sector to end its support for these dangerous sectors: coal mining, coal power, extreme oil (tar sands, Arctic, and ultra-deepwater oil), and liquefied natural gas (LNG) export.
Rainforest Action 14th June 2016 read more »