Robert Peston: Whenever I ask government officials and ministers why they are taking so long to reach a deal with EDF on building the promised vast new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset, they say “40 years” – and turn a whiter shade of pale. What they mean is that the French energy giant says it needs a commitment of between 35 and 40 years on the price to be paid by consumers for the power generated by Hinkley, before it presses the button on £14bn of expenditure for the two new reactors. For officials in particular, who in theory could still be employed by taxpayers in 10 years or so, when vast amounts of electricity would start to emanate from the plant, it is a pretty scary idea that they might be committing all of us to pay more for that electricity than is justified – and not just for a few weeks or months, but till 2060. My reading of the mood of both sides is one of cautious pessimism. If anything, it seems remarkable to me that de Rivaz has somehow prevented EDF’s board from pulling the plug, given that it is spending £1m every day to keep alive the possibility of an adventure whose starting date may seem from Paris to be somewhat elusive. That said, the calculation being made in the Treasury and Downing Street is that EDF has more to lose from the deal’s collapse than the UK does – the company would have to write off more than £1bn it has already spent on the project, and its ambition to become the global player in nuclear development and operation would be damaged, and perhaps terminated.
BBC 16th April 2013 read more »
As the British government and EDF push back another target date for completing negotiations over new reactor construction at Hinkley Point, a prominent former politician has argued that the outcome will have far-reaching consequences for both nuclear power and energy policy in the UK. In an editorial published in The Telegraph newspaper Saturday, John Hutton wrote that, “Failure to reach agreement on the price of nuclear electricity threatens not only the first new nuclear power station for a generation, but potentially all those that will come in its wake.”
Nuclear Street 16th April 2013 read more »
A pressure group opposed to a nuclear dump in Cumbria is trying to make it a key issue ahead of next month’s county council election. Pressure group NO Ennerdale Nuclear Dump (NOEND) has been very vocal in its opposition to any plans for an underground site. Their campaign comes after the county council decided not to continue searching for a site for a nuclear storage facility in January. Uncertainty remains over any future site in the UK. Roger Parker, a group spokesman, said they had asked all county council candidates three key questions about the nuclear dump, asking what their view was and what they thought should happen to existing nuclear waste. He said the “problem of the legacy” of nuclear waste remained.
Carlisle News and Star 16th April 2013 read more »
Members of the big six group of energy suppliers are paying very low or even no corporation tax despite reaping significant profits from high domestic bills, new research shows, prompting outrage from MPs and calls for reform of the way the industry is regulated. The revelations drew outrage from MPs yesterday, who gave senior executives from the companies an intense and sometimes bad-tempered grilling at a select committee hearing. Tim Yeo, chairman of the committee, said: “I don’t think [these companies] grasp the extent of public disgust towards them.” He said they should have been “more abject” in their apologies for mis-selling of products, which resulted in tens of thousands of consumers paying more than they needed to. “Any consumer watching the proceedings today will not feel those companies have learned their lessons yet.”
Guardian 16th April 2013 read more »
The boss of energy giant Npower has admitted that the company hasn’t paid UK corporation tax for three years after coming under fire over rising electricity and gas bills from outraged MPs. Paul Massara, the firm’s chief executive, claimed it was because of a “simple accounting UK rule,” but the news will spark fresh anger at energy firms, which have been accused of forcing millions of ordinary people into fuel poverty while making huge profits while.
Independent 16th April 2013 read more »
Telegraph 16th April 2013 read more »
Times 17th April 2013 read more »
Britain’s increasing reliance on imported gas has only heightened the pressure on the government to increase its capacity to store it. In the UK several companies, including SSE, Centrica and Italy’s ENI, have plans for projects that would increase storage capacity, but have so far held off on developing them because of a lack of clarity on government policy. In addition, with gas prices relatively high compared with coal, for example, the market signals have not been there to encourage investment by utilities, which have been running their coal plants heavily instead. Although the supply issues in March had no direct effect on consumers, Britain’s increasing reliance on imports means prices could become more volatile, and households and industrial users could be hit by higher bills.
FT 16th April 2013 read more »
The Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania will be the first in the U.S. to be tested on its emergency response procedures in the event of a terrorist attack, The Patriot News reports. The drill will take place in the context of a simulated attack, perhaps a strike from the air, like an airplane deliberately crashing into the facility, thought the nature of the fictional scenario is being kept secret. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been requiring nuclear plant operators to prepare for such scenarios since 2011. Three Mile Island took part in a pilot drill for such an attack several years ago.
Power Engineering 16th April 2013 read more »
Japan Steel Works Ltd., a nuclear parts supplier for customers including Areva SA, fell the most in two months in Tokyo trading after the Nikkei reported that workers at a plant will take time off as orders decline. Shares slumped 5.6 percent to 489 yen as at 1:13 p.m. local time, set for the biggest drop since Feb. 5. Japan Steel Works was the biggest decliner among stocks listed on the Nikkei 225 Stock Average. Japan Steel operates the only plant in the world capable of producing the central part of a nuclear reactor’s containment vessel in a single piece, reducing the risk of a radiation leak. The Tokyo-based company has removed aged facilities and relocated some of its workers at the Muroran plant since the Fukushima disaster, President Ikuo Sato said March 13 in an interview.
Bloomberg 15th April 2013 read more »
What to do with spent nuclear fuel has been one of the headaches for promoting nuclear power development. The federal government on Tuesday said it will provide $15.8 million to a new project to design a better way to store the used fuel outside of nuclear power plants.
Forbes 16th March 2013 read more »
THE US has announced plans to fund to operate a pair of nuclear emergency response centres, able to rapidly transport vital safety equipment anywhere in the country. The centres will be based in Memphis, Tennessee and Phoenix, Arizona, covering the eastern and western areas of the country respectively. They are to be operated jointly by French nuclear company Areva and the Pooled Equipment Inventory Co (PEICo) – a company that provides a shared inventory service to the US nuclear industry. The idea behind the centres was developed in the wake of 2011’s Fukushima disaster, where damage caused by the initial earthquake was made worse when emergency backup generators and other equipment failed in the face of a devastating tsunami. Even once the problem had been recognised, the sheer scale of the disaster meant that it took considerable time for replacements to reach the site.
Chemical Engineer 16th March 2013 read more »
The source term of the atmospheric release of 131I and 137Cs due to the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant accident estimated by previous studies was validated and refined by coupling atmospheric and oceanic dispersion simulations with observed 134Cs in seawater collected from the Pacific Ocean. By assuming the same release rate for 134Cs and 137Cs, the sea surface concentration of 134Cs was calculated using the previously estimated source term and was compared with measurement data. The release rate of 137Cs was refined to reduce underestimation of measurements, which resulted in a larger value than that previously estimated. In addition, the release rate of 131I was refined to follow the radioactivity ratio of 137Cs. As a result, the total amounts of 131I and 137Cs discharged into the atmosphere from 5 JST on March 12 to 0 JST on March 20 were estimated to be approximately 2.0 × 1017 and 1.3 × 1016 Bq, respectively.
Journal of Nuclear Science and Technology 15th March 2013 read more »
A Japanese court has rejected a petition, to close down the two operating nuclear reactors at Kansai Electric Power’s Ohi plant in western Japan. Anti-nuclear advocates had filed a petition to shut down reactors at the plant, as the parts of the station sit above an active faultline, which is against Japanese law on nuclear siting. Kansai Electric spokesman Akihiro Aoike was quoted by Reuters as saying that the injunction on Ohi was rejected by the court on Tuesday.
Energy Business Review 17th April 2013 read more »
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived on Monday in Niger, the world’s No. 4 uranium producer, where the French nuclear group Areva has seen its grip on the industry loosened by a government looking to diversify its partners. Some Western analysts say Iran may be close to exhausting reserves of raw uranium crucial to its nuclear activity and might have to seek out foreign sources, although the U.N. sanctions would forbid such purchases.
Reuters 15th April 2013 read more »
Last week’s south-western quake occurred close to Iran’s only nuclear power station, in Bushehr. Iranian officials said that the plant was undamaged and no radioactive material escaped. Nuclear power stations generally cope quite well with earthquakes, says Michael Bluck of Imperial College London. They are built on thick slabs of concrete that cushion them, and backup generators are used to keep the reactors cool in the event of an accident. Iran does have other nuclear facilities but little is known about them.
New Scientist 16th April 2013 read more »
Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant was not damaged by the major earthquake that struck on Tuesday, an official at the Russian company that built the plant said.
Trust 16th April 2013 read more »
NORTH Korea has dismissed calls from the U.S. to halt its nuclear production and tone down its fiery rhetoric, declaring it will not “pay slightest heed to such talk.”
Express 17th Apri 2013 read more »
A turbo generator at Kozloduy nuclear power plant was shutdown due to a hydrogen leak in its cooling system. The component that was shut down was part of its conventional, non-nuclear unit, reported Associated Press. Officials from the plant were quoted by Associated Press as saying, “there were no changes in the radioactivity level at the plant.”
Energy Business Review 15th April 2013 read more »
Plans for a 5.6MW solar park in Cumbria have courted controversy from local residents. Burscough-based Green Switch Solutions is seeking views from Allerdale Borough Council over plans to construct a 5.6MW solar park across approximately 11 hectares of land in Bothel, Cumbria. However, a local campaign group has warned that it will oppose Green Switch Solutions’ plans. The Westnewton Action Group, set up in 2007 to unsuccessfuly oppose the development of a local wind farm, issued a warning that covering “green agricultural land” with “shiny black plastic” would create significant visual impact on the local area.
Solar Portal 16th April 2013 read more »
“The drive to clean up the world’s energy system has stalled.” That was the damning verdict from Maria van der Hoeven, the executive director at the International energy Agency (IEA). Hoeven added: “Despite much talk by world leaders, and despite a boom in renewable energy over the last decade, the average unit of energy produced today is basically as dirty as it was 20 years ago.” For the 28 countries that make up the IEA membership – including the UK – the Energy Sector Carbon Intensity Index (ESCII), which shows how much carbon dioxide is emitted to produce a unit of energy, stood at 2.39 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of oil equivalent (tCO2/toe) in 1990. By 2010, this had fallen to only 2.37 tCO2/toe. However, the IEA report did show that from 2011 to 2012, photovoltaic and wind technologies grew by 42 per cent and 19 per cent respectively.
Utility Week 17th April 2013 read more »
The European Union’s climate change policy is on the brink of collapse today after MEPs torpedoed Europe’s flagship CO2 emissions trading scheme by voting against a measure to support the price of carbon permits.
Telegraph 16th April 2013 read more »
Europe’s plan to put a high price on pollution was left in tatters last night after MEPs voted against propping up the world’s biggest carbon-trading scheme. Carbon permit prices plummeted by 40 per cent to a new low, raising doubts over whether the European Union’s much-maligned scheme can survive.
Times 17th April 2013 read more »