After spending at least £25 million and four years of effort, EDF and Areva achieved interim reactor design approval December 14 for their UK EPR, but much work remains before regulators approve that first nuclear safety concrete pour at Hinkley Point C, where EDF plans to build two EPRs. The companies have overcome major obstacles in the UK Generic Design Assessment, or GDA, review of the EPR design over the past four years. Most notable of these were concerns about the reliability of the digital instrumentation and control (I&C) system for the reactor and about protection against aircraft crashes. The I&C concerns were overcome by agreeing to design changes including the installation of a hard-wired backup system, among other measures. Still, the Office for Nuclear Regulations (ONR) granting of interim approval for the UK EPR came with a long list of caveats 31 so-called GDA Issues. Moreover, portions of the UK EPR design were, by agreement, outside the scope of the GDA review altogether.
i-nuclear.com 15th Dec 2011 more >>
The designs for the two nuclear reactors at the planned power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset have won initial approval. The Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency have issued interim design acceptance statements. Both said the designs addressed issues identified in a report on the Fukushima accident in Japan.
BBC 15th Dec 2011 more >>
ONR director for nuclear new build Kevin Allars said: “This interim acceptance confirms that all the plans on how the industry will resolve the outstanding issues are in place. It is for the designers now to satisfy us that they have resolved these issues. We will not allow the industry to build the reactors until they have done so.”
Planning 15th Dec 2011 more >>
Mike Tynan, vice-president of Westinghouse UK, said the decision of the nuclear regulatory bodies to give interim approval to the firms AP1000 reactor design yesterday meant it would be able to step up talks with the owners of land earmarked for new nuclear power stations across the country. It is talking with Horizon Nuclear Power, the group made up of European energy firms npower and E.ON, which owns land at the Wylfa reactor in Angelsey, North Wales and Oldbury, Gloucestershire, about the AP1000 being chosen as the reactor to be built on the sites. Mr Tynan said: These interim approvals demonstrate clearly that the regulators believe the design will meet UK safety and environmental requirements and, although there remain a number of pieces of work to complete, the remaining activity does not pose a substantial risk to final approvals being granted. Some of the additional work required to go from interim to final approval status has already been carried out, some is currently in progress, and we will embark on the remainder once we have been selected as the preferred reactor design by a UK utility customer. Mr Tynan said it expected to hear which technology choice Horizon had made early in 2012.
Lancashire Evening Post 15th Dec 2011 more >>
THERE is outrage at plans to erect pylons across large parts of the Gwynedd countryside, blighting the landscape and an area made famous by artist JMW Turner. The National Grid is set to begin a period of public consultation during the new year, into plans to erect new lines and pylons linked to the potential construction of a new nuclear power station at Wylfa on Anglesey.
Caernarfon and Denbigh Herald 15th Dec 2011 more >>
THE two nuclear reactor designs proposed for Wylfa B have won interim approval from the regulator. Horizon Nuclear Power must decide between the Areva and EDF’s European Pressurised water Reactor (EPR) and Westinghouse’s AP1000 reactor for its site on Anglesey. Yesterday the Office for Nuclear Regulation said: Generic designs for two nuclear reactors proposed for construction in the UK have been granted interim design acceptance by the independent nuclear safety, security and environment regulators.
Daily Post 15th Dec 2011 more >>
PE is launching a new conference focusing on the supply chain and engineering opportunities in the nuclear newbuild programme. It will be held on 23rd Feb 2012.
Professional Engineering 14th Dec 2011 more >>
Families will have to pay about £14 a year to energy companies to avoid widespread blackouts when the wind does not blow, as a result of the new subsidy system set out by the Government yesterday as part of its reforms to the electricity market. National Grid will offer generators a higher price to provide back-up at times of peak demand or when intermittent renewables such as wind farms fail to generate power. These costs will ultimately be met by consumers. According to government forecasts, there is a one in seven chance of 2.5 million homes experiencing blackouts by 2024 if no action is taken.
Times 16th Dec 2011 more >>
Letter: There is a serious ambiguity in the consultation documents sent out around the county about the underground nuclear waste dump and it needs to be cleared up immediately. The short summary which is about as much as most people will want to read says that the issue of whether waste from new nuclear power stations would go into a depository can be made if or when new nuclear power stations are constructed in the UK. Another summary documents says: The facility could potentially also take waste from any new nuclear power stations. Yet the dump is clearly being planned with two levels of waste in mind (on paper): the baseline inventory and the upper inventory, which is almost twice as big and could grow. The consultation document says: A 10GW(e) new nuclear-build programme was assumed in the upper inventory. However, currently developers are planning a 16GW(e) programme. So are we faced with a hole in the ground mainly for the waste currently at Sellafield, or is it a much bigger hole, with twice the disturbance and 120 years of new waste trundling in from all over the country to someones back yard?
Whitehaven News 15th Dec 2011 more >>
FOR France, nuclear power has long been a source of national pride. Its European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) is the worlds most advanced nuclear reactor and some consider it the safest. But since the nuclear accident at Fukushima in Japan, potential buyers have been having second thoughts (although the plant in question was not French.) On December 12th Areva, Frances state-owned nuclear champion, said it would take a 2.4 billion ($3.1 billion) charge against profits. This will give the firm its first ever operating loss, of perhaps 1.6 billion for 2011. That hurts. Areva may face trouble at home, too. Last month La Tribune, a newspaper, said that Electricité de France (EDF), Arevas biggest customer, was preparing to dump the EPR and design a smaller, cheaper reactor with China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corp, for international export. The Chinese firm is already building two EPRs in China. The report caused a storm.EDF angrily denied that it wanted to abandon the EPR. But it is indeed co-operating with the Chinese firm to design a smaller and cheaper reactor. The EPR is very powerful, but for some countries its capacity of 1,750MW is too much, says Hervé Machenaud, EDFs head of generation and engineering. Local grids cant handle that much power. A new Franco-Chinese reactor could strain relations between EDF and Areva, which have in the past fought bitterly. Both wish to lead the French nuclear export drive. Areva is already marketing a smaller reactor, the ATMEA-1. It wants a new Franco-Chinese reactor to be based on its ATMEA design. The two firms are also trying to redesign the EPR to make it far cheaper.
Economist 17th Dec 2011 more >>
Japan’s tsunami-stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant has reached cold shutdown, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said on Friday, a key milestone in efforts to bring under control the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl 25 years ago.
Reuters 16th Dec 2011 more >>
Breaking News.ie 16th Dec 2011 more >>
Nine months after the devastating earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, causing a meltdown at three units, the Tokyo government is expected to declare soon that it has finally regained control of the plants overheating reactors. But even before it has been made, the announcement is facing serious doubts from experts.
New York Times 14th Dec 2011 more >>
Japanese authorities are set to announce Friday that they have brought the Fukushima Daiichi complex’s devastated reactors to a state called cold shutdown, a milestone in stabilizing the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl. The declaration, which falls roughly nine months after nuclear fuel in the plant’s stricken reactors reached meltdown temperatures, would mark a triumph over the chaos loosed by Japan’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Companies involved in bringing the plant under control describe, with previously undisclosed details, their work in a science-fiction landscape where jury-rigged robots survey forbidden zones and hazardous pools, and workers shrouded a blown-out reactor building with a covering that they maneuvered into place using electric fans and then fit together like Lego blocks. Until the last bit of fuel is removed and the plant completely dismantleda process that experts say could take decadesthe unknowns are so great that authorities aren’t even sure how to start tackling some of the biggest problems, which include locating and stopping the flow of toxic water and removing the melted nuclear fuel. Even if a submarine robot is developed, who is going to take it to the basement and put it into the water?’ The water is so radioactive that workers can’t even put a water-level gauge there.” It will take thousands of people, and as much as 30 years, experts have estimated, until the last bit of fuel is removed from Fukushima Daiichi and the plant completely dismantled.
Wall Street Journal 15th Dec 2011 more >>
Japan’s government and the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant say it will take up to 40 years to decommission the plant’s damaged reactors. NHK has learned about a timetable drawn up by the industry ministry and Tokyo Electric Power Company, based on a report released earlier by the state’s Atomic Energy Commission. The new timetable includes a plan to begin removing used fuel rods from spent fuel pools at 4 reactor buildings within 2 years, starting with reactor 4. That’s one year ahead of what the Commission called for in its report. The removed spent fuel will be temporarily stored within the compound.
NHK 15th Dec 2011 more >>
There are no prospects that new nuclear power reactors will be constructed in Japan because of the Fukushima fiasco. The government, finding it difficult to ignore a call for reducing the nation’s reliance on nuclear power as much as possible, is expected to reduce the weight of nuclear power in a basic energy policy to be revised next year. But despite this situation, the Noda administration is eager to export nuclear technology. The policy is unprincipled.
Japan Times 16th Dec 2011 more >>
The government failed to tell the International Atomic Energy Agency about unaccounted-for or unreported amounts of enriched plutonium and uranium it has found in nuclear waste produced by its own facilities over the past year, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura admitted Thursday.
Japan Times 16th Dec 2011 more >>
EON AG, Germanys biggest utility, said its investing 7 billion euros ($9.1 billion) in renewable energy projects over the next five years as the country drops nuclear power generation. EON plans to build at least three offshore wind projects, including the 1 billion-euro Amrumbank West farm in the North Sea, Dusseldorf-based EON said in an e-mailed statement today.
Bloomberg 15th Dec 2011 more >>
After a grueling week in which their internal dissension was aired on television, the five members of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission face an even bigger hurdle – figuring out how to work together. A protracted struggle could mean gridlock as the agency deals with a sweeping set of reforms to fix regulatory gaps meant to keep the nation’s nuclear plants safe.
Reuters 15th Dec 2011 more >>
Caroline Lucas: Given that a parliamentary decision on Trident is not due until 2016, that no proper debate has been forthcoming on whether the system is even necessary, and given the perilous state of the public finances, one might expect the Government to refrain from spending any money on it in this term. But in his answer to a parliamentary question I tabled in November, defence minister Peter Luff revealed that the Ministry of Defence is already spending at least £2bn on making enriched uranium components, high explosives and putting together warheads at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in Aldermaston and Burghfield in Berkshire. These new investments include, for example, £734m on a facility called Mensa for dismantling and assembling warheads, and a £634m highly enriched uranium plant named Pegasus.
Politics Home 14th Dec 2011 more >>
Two solar companies are celebrating after a High Court Judge granted them permission to challenge the government over its proposals to cut subsidies for solar energy. Mr Justice Mitting today overturned the court’s previous decision and granted SolarCentury, HomeSun and campaign group Friends of the Earth a judicial review on Tuesday and Wednesday next week.
Business Green 15th Dec 2011 more >>
Guardian 15th Dec 2011 more >>
Independent 16th Dec 2011 more >>
FT 16th Dec 2011 more >>
Letter from NFLA: In recent weeks there has been a strong and well-organised media campaign constantly arguing that large increases in gas and electricity bills are almost entirely due to “green taxes” for the development of renewable energy. So I am pleased to hear the Committee on Climate Change confirm that this is a huge red herring (Annual energy bills ‘to rise by £190 by 2020’, 15 December). I believe this co-ordinated campaign has been orchestrated by those interests who seem to be determined to stop the positive, clean, sustainable and huge economic potential that exists with developing renewable forms of energy. The parallel benefit of promoting energy efficiency should be welcomed in reducing the alarming rise in fuel poverty, and it will directly help to cut fuel bills.
Guardian 15th Dec 2011 more >>
John Urquhart: 12 December 2011 was a dark day for Britain the day Chris Huhne, secretary of state for energy and climate change, slashed solar subsidies, while proclaiming what a good result Britain had achieved at the climate change conference in Durban. Huhne claims the cost of solar panels has halved, and that therefore the subsidy (FIT) should be halved. But solar panels are only half the cost of installation, so even if panel prices have halved, which is doubtful, the total cost of investment has reduced by only a quarter.
Guardian 15th Dec 2011 more >>
Letter: The report published by the Committee on Climate Change clearly demonstrates that green energy policies are not the main driver of rising energy bills. It found fossil fuel price rises had been responsible for 80 per cent of bill increases in the past six years, with the cost of gas adding nearly £300 to the average bill. In contrast, Energy Secretary Chris Huhne recently revealed the current cost of supporting onshore wind was around £5-6 on the average electricity bill.
Scotsman 16th Dec 2011 more >>
A field trial of LED light fittings in social housing says the new technology can deliver huge energy savings, reduce costs and makes residents feel safer. The study, carried out by the Energy Saving Trust (EST), measured the performance of more than 4,250 LED light fittings installed at 35 sites. The EST said it carried out the trial because an increasing number of LED lights were now commercially available. It is predicted the technology could dominate the lighting market by 2015.
BBC 16th Dec 2011 more >>
Rebecca Willis is an associate of Green Alliance. This article is based on Demanding Less: Why we need a new politics of energy, by Rebecca Willis and Nick Eyre. Debates about energy focus overwhelmingly on energy supply. Should we go for renewables, nuclear or both? Will carbon capture and storage work? What happens if Russia cuts off supplies of gas? These questions are generally asked, and answered, by a small group of technical specialists in business and government the kinds of people who can talk with enthusiasm about electricity market reform and renewables obligation certificates. A new politics of energy, which asks the fundamental questions about how and why energy is used, rather than assuming that progress depends on a continued supply of abundant energy. A politics that future-proofs our communities, by preparing them for coming resource constraints. One that doesn’t expect our energy dilemmas can be solved by technical interventions by a small group of experts, but which instead acknowledges that our history has been shaped by energy, and our future will be, too.
Guardian 16th Dec 2011 more >>