WASTE from Bradwell power station could be released into the River Blackwater for another two years, if plans get the green light. Magnox, which runs the decommissioned power station, has applied to the Environment Agency to vary its existing permit for disposal of some waste. The power station currently releases fuel element debris (FED) which contains broken down material left over from nuclear reactors as part of the decommissioning process. The waste is dissolved using a nitric acid solution before being released into the estuary.
Clacton Gazette 11th Nov 2016 read more »
Analysts studying the Environment Agency’s (EA) permit allowing Magnox to dump nuclear waste in the Blackwater say that the terms of the license give Magnox permission to pump an “unlimited quantity for unlimited time” of radioactive waste that floats on the surface of the water on the ebb tide. The EA has extended the consultation period on the permit toDecember 17th but experts say that this is nowhere near long enough to allow a proper examination of the documents, which (as we reported in Courier 641) are unindexed and unsearchable, and contain highly technical language. A spokesperson for Mersea Island Environmental Alliance (MIEA) said: “if you took 5 minutes to read each pages, and read non-stop for 8 hours a day it would take over 20 days just to read it. The original timescale of 28 days was quite frankly a joke, while the EA has extended this another 28 days this is still clearly not long enough for the people across the communities to meaningfully consult on this important issue. There is a worrying pattern developing here. ”The nature of the waste to be disposed of is explained clearly by several sources: after disposal of the metals and other solid matter at the site, what is left is liquid waste, which will (if permitted) be pumped into the Blackwater estuary for an hour on the ebb tide. The permit states “The discharge will take place over 30 minutes each day on the daytime ebb tide between 1 and 2 hours after high water.” The EA’s documents include the condition “The operator shall, as far as reasonable [sic] practicable, minimise the amount of mercury in the discharge arising from pH correction dosing.” No mention is made of who decides what is “reasonably practical” or what sanctions are in place should the operator fail to comply with this condition.
Mersea Island Courier 13th Nov 2016 read more »
Steve Kidd: It is generally accepted that the prime problem affecting nuclear power today is an economic one. On the one hand, there are very few reactors under construction in the developed world on account of the high and escalating costs of constructing large reactors and the consequent difficulties of financing them. On the other, stiffer competition from gas-fired generating units and rising renewable shares of power generation are threatening many of the nuclear stations already in operation, despite their established record of achieving low and stable operating costs. The difficulty of reaching the Final Investment Decision at the Hinkley Point C project in the UK highlights the former. Even when a supposedly liberalised power market is “adapted” to favour investment in a carbon-friendly large scale and mature technology, the magnitude of the required finance, the long timescales and the obvious risks of schedule overruns make it very difficult to secure the funds needed to go ahead. The revenue from the project may be guaranteed by the state (attracting criticism from those that argue that both energy security and lower carbon emissions can be achieved by a combination of more gas-fired power and renewables) but that may not be enough if costs are high and threaten to run out of control.
Nuclear Engineering International 11th Nov 2016 read more »
A 24-hour strike is under way at a nuclear weapons factory responsible for making Britain’s Trident warheads. Staff at Berkshire’s Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) started industrial action at 07:00 GMT over pension changes. The Prospect union said members voted to go ahead with the walk-out following a “derisory pension offer”. An AWE spokesman said it had undertaken “detailed contingency planning” to maintain the site’s safety.
BBC 14th Nov 2016 read more »
Morning Star 15th Nov 2016 read more »
The last failed search process, Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) restricted the search area to the volunteer boroughs and a 5km offshore strip for coastal areas. As we know, only Copeland and Allerdale volunteered and the process was vetoed by Cumbria County Council which recognised the overwhelming local opposition to the proposal amongst a long list of concerns. A great deal is known about Cumbria’s geology from previous failed attempts, including the £400m Nirex spent before reaching the conclusion that the geology was so complex that they couldn’t even model groundwater flow between two boreholes just 200 metres apart. The Nirex Inquiry Inspector Chris McDonald concluded that the search process should move away from Cumbria to an area of simple geology, largely found in eastern and southern England. More recent attempts by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to mislead the public by suggesting that Nirex could have found Cumbria to be suitable if it had been allowed to continue, have been strongly rebutted by Chris McDonald. After another rebranding exercise, the body responsible for finding a site to bury the nation’s nuclear waste is Radioactive Waste Management (RWM). The new process is currently expected to seek volunteers in the second half of 2017, but the offshore strip has been extended from 5km to 20km. Cumbria Trust recognises the significance of this change in policy.
Cumbria Trust 15th Nov 2016 read more »
Britain’s biggest energy company has warned the government about the dangers of “unintended consequences” if ministers make a fresh intervention to drive down household bills. Iain Conn, chief executive of Centrica, said he would welcome “constructive dialogue” with business secretary Greg Clark in the wake of a report claiming the “big six” energy companies were making bigger profits than previously thought. But Mr Conn insisted there was no truth in aclaim in the Sun newspaper that energy companies were making profit margins of up to 24 per cent on their standard tariffs.
FT 14th Nov 2016 read more »
Nuclear vs Climate
Arni Gundersen: Nuclear power lobbyists and their marketing firms want us to believe that humankind’s current CO2 atmospheric releases would have been much worse were it not for those 438 power plants now operating. How much worse? The World Nuclear Association industry trade group estimates that an additional 1.1 gigatons of CO2 would have been created in 2015 if natural gas plants supplied the electricity instead of those 438 nukes. Worldwide, all those nuclear power plants made only a 3 percent dent in yearly CO2 production.Put another way, each of the 438 individual nuclear plants contribute less than seven thousandths of one percent to CO2 reduction. That’s hardly enough to justify claims that keeping your old local power plant running is necessary to prevent the sea from rising. Let’s fast forward to 2050. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) estimates that even if the 2015 Paris Accords (COP 21) are implemented and 1,000 new nuclear power plants are constructed, global CO2 emissions will still increase to a minimum of 64 gigatons. While this increase appears counterintuitive given the Paris agreement, it is on target because of pent-up energy demands from large populations in India, China, Southeast Asia and Africa who want to achieve the standard of living in western developed countries. Can new atomic power reactors really help cut CO2 by 2050? Unfortunately, what is past is prologue. The World Nuclear Association claims that 1,000 new nuclear power plants will be needed by 2050 to combat CO2 buildup and climate change. The MIT estimate also assumes 1,000 nuclear power plants must be in operation by 2050. Using the nuclear trade association’s own calculations shows that these new power plants will offset only 3.9 gigatons of CO2 in 2050; 3.9 gigatons out of 64 gigatons is only 6.1 percent of the total CO2 released to the atmosphere in 2050, hardly enough for the salvation of the polar bears. If those 1,000 nuclear power plants were cheap and could be built quickly, investing in atomic power reactors might still make sense. However, Lazard Financial Advisory and Asset Management, with no dog in the fight, has developed a rubric which estimates that the construction cost of those new power plants will be $8,200,000,000,000. Yes, that’s $8.2 trillion to reduce CO2 by only 6 percent.
Truthout 14th Nov 2016 read more »
Workers at the Chernobyl nuclear site in Ukraine today started the process of sliding into place the arch – known as the New Safe Confinement, or NSC – that will shield radioactive waste caused by the 1986 Chernobyl accident. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which is managing the financing of work to secure Chernobyl, said the NSC is one of the most ambitious projects in the history of engineering. The NSC, costing around €1.5bn ($1.6bn) is the largest moveable land-based structure ever built, with a span of 257 metres, a length of 162 metres, a height of 108 metres and a weight of 36,000 tonnes. It will now be moved into its resting place over Chernobyl’s Unit 4, which was destroyed in the accident 30 years ago. The EBRD said the sliding is done with help of a special skidding system that consists of 224 hydraulic jacks to push the arch 60 centimetres each stroke. It is anticipated that the total “skid time” will be around 40 hours of operation spread over arpound five days. The NSC was constructed in a clean area near the Chernobyl-4 reactor and will be slid over 327 metres to seal off the unit. It will make the site safe and allow for the eventual dismantling of the aging shelter currently housing the reactor and the management of the radioactive waste within the structure. Ostap Semerak, Ukraine’s minister of ecology and natural resources, said: “The start of the sliding of the arch over reactor four is the beginning of the end of a 30-year long fight with the consequences of the 1986 accident.” The construction of the NSC by Novarka – the French construction consortium formed to build the NSC by Vinci Construction and Bouygues Construction – started in 2012.
Nucnet 14th Nov 2016 read more »
France’s heavy reliance on nuclear baseload energy is leaving it short of power, and the country faces blackouts and soaring power prices this winter. French grid operator RTE last week warned consumers about rolling blackouts in winter and energy analysts predicted soaring power prices after more than one-third of the country’s nuclear plants had to be shut down because of safety concerns over its reactor vessels. France’s heavy reliance on nuclear – it supplies around three-quarters of its electricity – leaves it terribly exposed when something goes wrong, such a generic design fault. The French regulator has ordered the closure of up to 24 ageing nuclear power plants so that a crucial steel component could be reviewed after investigations into the disastrous delays and cost overruns at its next generation plant at Flamanville revealed major faults, which have been repeated in at least 18 other generators. France used the standardisation to build its reactor fleet quickly and cheaply, but environmental groups have been warning for years that the discovery of such a generic fault could incapacitate a large part of the fleet.
Renew Economy 15th Nov 2016 read more »
Property developer Franklin L. Haney is going all out for nuclear at a time when reactors are being shut down across the U.S. His company, Nuclear Development LLC, said Monday it would purchase an unfinished facility in Alabama from the Tennessee Valley Authority for $111 million after the government-controlled utility failed to complete a project that began four decades ago. Nuclear Development plans to invest as much as $13 billion to complete the Bellefonte plant with work starting in 2017, the company said in a statement Monday. “This project will bring new life to the region by creating thousands of jobs while providing assured access to reliable, affordable, zero-emission energy,” Haney said in the statement. The sale underscores the challenges that America’s nuclear power generators have been facing for years amid competition from generators burning cheap natural gas and the rising use of renewable power. Five nuclear power plants have retired in the past five years including Fort Calhoun in Nebraska, which closed last month.
Bloomberg 14th Nov 2016 read more »
The election of Donald Trump probably means that, one way or another, the USA will pull out of the Paris Agreement on climate change, but this may make less difference to how much carbon the world would have emitted than what you might think. For a start the Paris Agreement already has enough national states as signatures representing a high enough proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions to remain valid with a US withdrawal. The Agreement requires there to be signatories representing at least 55 per cent of global emissions, and there’s more than that left in the agreement without the USA. Second, internally, such downwards pressure on carbon emissions as there is is mainly bound up with technological changes or policies that are likely to continue anyway. Coal consumption in the US has fallen by around a quarter since 2008, but. according to a recent paper published in The Electricity Journal this has very little to do with Obama, and almost all to do with the increased availability of cheap natural gas. The growth in production of shale gas has been the factor that has reduced the demand for coal and led to the closure of increasing numbers of ageing coal fired power plant. Another factor reducing coal use is the growth of renewable energy – mainly wind and solar. These technologies are promoted by a bi-partisan Congressional agreement on a policy of production tax credits (wind) and investment tax credit (solar). These will decline in force and run out in 2020. However, many Republican Congressmen are relatively sympathetic towards renewable energy, and there are possibilities that some form of tax credit support could be renewed. The Republicans may not care much for the climate issue, but they are interested in helping people, including often the renewable energy industry, make money.
Dave Toke’s Blog 14th Nov 2016 read more »
Renewables – offshore wind
While you were distracted by Donald Trump, the renewable energy sector broke another record. Last week Swedish utility Vattenfall agreed to build a giant offshore wind farm in Denmark that would sell power for €49.50 per MWh — far cheaper than anything we’ve seen so far. This is fairly huge news that appears to have gotten lost in the haze of a shocking Presidential election. The project – which will power nearly a quarter of Danish households –has received some press coverage, but those reports were based on a Vattenfall statement that seriously hedged its bets, calling the strike price “among the lowest costs in the world for offshore wind power.” It’s far more than that. Vattenfall basically just broke its own record, having been heralded earlier this year for its other Danish windfarm, which will produce power for €60 per MWh. Indeed a Vattenfall spokesperson told Energydesk that, though the cost of offshore wind in some Asian countries is largely unknown: “To my understanding Kriegers Flak is the cheapest offshore wind farm world wide.”
Energydesk 15th Nov 2016 read more »
Renewables – onshore wind
Photographer Richard Jones’s Energy+Notion project tells the story of energy in Wales, from the remnants of coal mining that shaped its towns and landscapes to the new windfarms springing up where the mines once stood.
Guardian 15th Nov 2016 read more »
Renewables – wave
Carnegie Wave Energy’s offshore energy-generating infrastructure is purposefully inconspicuous. Its patented CETO buoys, which resemble large circular tanks, are tethered to an anchor in the seafloor and remain fully submerged, out of sight. Cornwall’s wave hub is billed as “the world’s largest and most technologically advanced site for the testing and development of offshore renewable energy technology”, and the funding is a significant boost for Carnegie’s global expansion plans. The project is to begin immediately, with commissioning set for 2018, followed by 12 months of operations.
Guardian 15th Nov 2016 read more »
Liverpool City Council is seeking to procure a uniquely branded local energy supply to reduce electricity and gas fuel bills for the city’s residents and to enable us to deliver innovative energy services in the future with the intention of benefitting citizens financially together with pursuing broader environmental objectives. The council is seeking to partner with a fully Ofgem licenced supply company which will sell gas and electricity to both residential and business customers under the council’s Liverpool Energy Community Company (LECCy) brand essentially as a “white label” arrangement. For the purposes of this specification, the white label will be referred to simply as “the LECCy”.
Liverpool City Council 23rd Sept 2016 read more »
We are again getting to the time of the year when the days are getting shorter and the nights colder. Many of us are turning our heating on, without having to think too much about it. However, many others are in a situation where they cannot afford heating in their homes and this time of year can have dire consequences on their health and wellbeing. We at the Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand, together with South East London Community Energy, a community group developing sustainable energy projects, have been researching community-led initiatives that address fuel poverty. Fuel poverty kills and it is an urgent issue that needs to be addressed as an energy, social and health issue, and at all levels of government, local authorities and health authorities. It also has wider energy justice implications in terms of how we consider equity within our energy system. We need to ask ourselves what type of a society we live in – and if our homes, usually a source of comfort, are allowed to keep having fatal consequences.
SPRU 14th Nov 2016 read more »