After a private consortium tried, and failed, to rescue the power station from decades of neglect, it is back in the arms of the public sector once again. It’s like being in a timewarp, stuck back in the bad old days when the taxpayers’ bottomless purse was casually mined to prop up failing industries. For, amazingly, such spending has been going on – even in these post-Thatcher, austerity-driven times – in a small, if controversial, corner of Cumbria. That corner, is of course, home to Sellafield – Europe’s biggest and most hazardous nuclear complex. This week, the Government abruptly dismissed the consortium that has been running it for the past six years, after what Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) identified as “big delays” and “huge cost overruns, rising to astonishing levels”. Sellafield has largely dropped out of the headlines in recent years, after decades of bad publicity about radioactive accidents, managerial incompetence and business boondoggles. And that is where it likes to be, for secrecy, combined with bureaucratic bungling, has long been one of its specialities. They even spent £1.4 billion on a plant where the plutonium would be mixed with uranium to make fuel for ordinary reactors, but – as widely predicted – that didn’t work either: designed to produce 120 tonnes of fuel a year, it managed only 15 in a decade before closing. This was only one in a whole series of eye-wateringly expensive plants t hat failed to perform as expected. As a result, nearly 130 tonnes of highly dangerous, useless, plutonium are stored onsite, at a cost of £40 million a year. More than a quarter of a ton was discharged in to the Irish Sea, much to see what would happen. Worst of all, though, as the consortium – Nuclear Management Partners – has admitted, “there is a mass of very hazardous (nuclear) waste onsite in storage conditions that are extraordinarily vulnerable, and in facilities that are well past their designated life”. The National Audit Office (NAO) says this poses “significant risks to people and the environment”. One official review concluded that, at worst, an explosive release could kill two million Britons and require the evacuation of an area reaching from Glasgow to Liverpool.
Telegraph 17th Jan 2015 read more »
GMB Shop Stewards Meeting To Seek Cumbria Nuclear Delivery Authority To Promote Nuclear Renaissance At Sellafield To Help Power Nation. West Cumbria has some of the most highly skilled and experienced nuclear workers on the planet and they are best placed to deal with the waste and in return our members want a secure future says GMB. 150 GMB Shop Stewards from Sellafield are to meet on Friday 16th January to discuss the future of the site and their response to the sacking of NMP. See notes to editors for GMB press release on NMP.
GMB 15th Jan 2015 read more »
2014 marked the 20th anniversary of a National Academy of Sciences report that issued a stark warning. Growing stockpiles of weapons plutonium, being removed from dismantled U.S. and Russian nuclear warheads that were no longer needed after the end of the Cold War, represented a “clear and present danger.” In 2002 the DOE decided to cancel the immobilization program and focus exclusively on MOX. However, the MOX approach itself has proven far more expensive, technically difficult, and time-consuming than originally anticipated.
Union of Concerned Scientists December 2014 read more »
EDF expects to sign an investment agreement with two Chinese nuclear power companies for the Hinkley Point C new nuclear project by the end of March. At a Beijing-based conference the chief executive of EDF China Song Xudan confirmed that the investment deal would be signed with China General Nuclear Power (CGNP) and China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) at the end of the first quarter, according to a report from Bloomberg. The agreement would pave the pay for construction of the first UK new nuclear power plant in a decade to begin by start of 2016.
Utility Week 16th Feb 2015 read more »
Austria is preparing legal action against the European Commission’s decision to allow a price guarantee for EDF’s £34 billion ($51 billion) Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in the UK, the Austrian Environmental Ministry confirmed this week. “The Austrian federal government, with the unanimous support of the Austrian Parliament, is preparing an action for annulment to the Court of Justice of the EU,” ministry spokesperson Julia Puchegger told Interfax. “I think that there are good chances for success for a lawsuit,” Reinhard Schanda, a partner at the Vienna-based law firm Sattler & Schanda, told Interfax.
Interfax 15th Jan 2015 read more »
AN exhibition on the history of Hinkley Point opens at the Museum of Somerset in Taunton on Saturday. Landscapes of Power: The Archaeology and History of Hinkley Point, will shed light on archaeological discoveries from the site, and from the proposed route of the Cannington bypass, following a series of excavations.
Somerset County Gazette 15th Jan 2015 read more »
A Dark Ages cemetery and more than 100 burials has been unearthed at the site of a new nuclear power station. The discovery is one of many by archaeologists who have spent years excavating ground where Hinkley Point C is being built in Somerset.
BBC 16th Jan 2015 read more »
The Welsh Government has said there is little it can do to stop a network of new electricity pylons being erected across Anglesey. The statement was made after the island’s AM called on the Welsh Government to back residents’ opposition to the plans in the Senedd on Tuesday.
Daily Post 15th Jan 2015 read more »
DOUNREAY will not be affected by a decision to terminate the contract of the operators of the giant Sellafield site in Cumbria. UK energy secretary Ed Davey gave the assurance after Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) were effectively sacked. The NMP consortium was led by US corporation URS which is part of the Cavendish Dounreay Partnership (CDP) which has the contract to decommission the Caithness site. Mr Davey said the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) would now direct control of the £9 billion clean-up of the Cumbrian site.
John O Groat Journal 16th Jan 2015 read more »
Improved organizational performance, enhanced safety, optimized operations and increased national and international confidence in Member States’ organizations, facilities, programmes and activities are among the benefits that IAEA ARTEMIS peer reviews provide to Member States. Launched in 2014, ARTEMIS is an integrated review service that aims to enhance the coordination and application of IAEA resources in nuclear energy and nuclear safety to peer reviews that meet the needs of Member State institutions and programmes in nuclear-related areas. “The scope of the ARTEMIS service covers both safety and technical considerations of spent fuel and radioactive waste management, decommissioning of facilities and remediation activities,” said Juan Carlos Lentijo, Director of the Division of Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Waste Technology.
IAEA 16th Jan 2015 read more »
Britain and the US are to set up a joint ‘cyber squad’ to carry out fake hacking attacks on banks, aircraft and nuclear power plants. In talks at the White House today, David Cameron and Barack Obama are set to agree an unprecedented level of co-operation, with a team of agents to help safeguard both countries. A report from British spy chiefs to be published today says four in every five big firms in the UK last year experienced some sort of serious cyber security breach.
Daily Mail 16th Jan 2015 read more »
The Nuclear Industry Association publishes a report of the Nuclear Energy APPG event ‘Explaining the work of the Nuclear Industry Council and the implications of the Autumn Statement’ in parliament, addressed by its chair Lord Hutton of Furness. “The industry really has turned Parliament around. We do now have a political House singing from the same hymn sheet on nuclear power. We need to work hard to keep it that way” John Robertson MP concluded.
Politics Home 16th Jan 2015 read more »
Installing more wind turbines will make the UK’s energy market more resilient to global fossil fuel price shocks, an independent report has concluded. Dwindling domestic gas and coal supplies mean the nation would become dependent on volatile imports, it adds. The report, by Cambridge Econometrics for RenewableUK, said wind power saved the UK £579 million in fossil fuel costs in 2013. The UK is recognised for having the best wind resource in Europe. “One of the main messages from this report is that in a scenario with a higher content of wind energy, you are less reliant on fossil fuels,” explained co-author Sophie Billington, a researcher from Cambridge Econometrics. “This is a key message, particularly when you consider that the UK – for the past five years or so – has imported more gas than it has produced domestically. “
BBC 16th Jan 2015 read more »
Business Green 16th Jan 2015 read more »
Well that went well, didn’t it? At least Ed Davey thinks so. I’m referring here to the results of the first capacity auction, the final results of which were posted earlier in the month. Here’s Ed responding to an intervention on the subject that I made during the recent Energy Prices debate in the house: ‘The results of the capacity auction were far better than we had predicted. The closing price – the clearing price – was significantly lower than we predicted, so there will be a lower impact on consumer bills.’ Hmm I’m not sure crowing about the low clearing price of the auction as a mechanism for protecting consumer bills (when that was nowhere in the specification of the auction) is a wise, long-term line to take. A bit like a general reporting that ‘our invasion force failed to land on the beaches and we were repulsed with huge losses. But we only sent ten ships, a far lower number than we had anticipated, so there’s a considerable saving to the taxpayer to take into account in evaluating the success of the operation’.
Alan Whitehead 16th Jan 2015 read more »
There’s another kind of nuclear energy that’s been waiting in the wings for decades – and it may just demand a recalibration of our thoughts on nuclear power. Nuclear fission using thorium is easily within our reach, and, compared with conventional nuclear energy, the risks are considerably lower.
Discover 16th Feb 2015 read more »
Status Review of Renewable and Energy Efficiency Support Schemes in Europe in 2012 and 2013.
Council of European Energy Regulators 15th Jan 2015 read more »
Japan has submitted its instrument of acceptance to the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage – an important international instrument relating to liability and compensation for damage caused by a nuclear accident – triggering its entry into force.
World Nuclear News 16th Jan 2015 read more »
Negotiators are gathering in Geneva this weekend to mount a near-final assault on the dispute over Iran’s nuclear ambitions – a confrontation which has come close to causing a third Gulf war. The hurdles in the way of a settlement relate to Iran’s capacity to enrich uranium and the lifting of the sanctions imposed by America and its allies. A comprehensive deal that would resolve a dangerous stand-off is achievable, but only if the two sides are ready to satisfy each other’s basic needs.
Telegraph 16th Feb 2015 read more »
A new generation of combined heat and power boilers that produce their own electricity – earning households up to £500 a year – are to be launched at the end of this month, backed by insurance giant Aviva. The promoters reckon they will be in 1m homes by 2018. Flow Energy says households which currently have large heating needs – typically spending about £2,000 a year or more on gas and electricity – will have to pay a typical £1,200 to install one of the new boilers and after five years will share in the “feed-in tariffs” earned from generating electricity.So what’s the catch? The structure of the deal is unusual, to say the least. You will have to sign a five-year agreement with Flow’s finance partner Zopa and pay it £77 a month. Flow Energy will then rebate you £77 a month in cashback. In effect the household gets a new money-making boiler for the cost of installation. (A typical boiler costs around £2,500.) But for the first five years Flow Energy keeps the feed-in tariffs (FITs) plus the electricity you generate. Only after that does it share the income 50-50 with the homeowner.The firm says it has been working on a new combined heat and power (CHP) boiler for the past decade that is suitable for the mass market. CHP boilers generate electricity as a by-product of heating the home or hot water at relatively little cost. But while they have been around for several years they have yet to be taken up in serious numbers, partly because of their higher cost and concerns over reliability.
Guardian 17th Jan 2015 read more »
Renewables – solar
Nature experts have slammed a decision to allow a solar farm with tens of thousands of panels to be built on protected wildlife-rich grassland. West Dorset District Council has approved plans for the renewable energy project on Rampisham Down, one of the largest areas of lowland acid grassland in England and designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for its wildlife importance. Conservationists fear the installation of more than 100,000 panels will destroy much of the site, which supports masses of flowers such as lousewort and eyebright, as well as wildlife including skylarks and waxcap fungi. The scheme has been approved despite the council’s own planning officers recommending it should be turned down, opposition from government conservation agency Natural England and Dorset Wildlife Trust, and an alternative site bei ng proposed across the road.
Telegraph 16th Jan 2015 read more »
This week’s Micro Power News: small wind and solar crowdfunding successes; solar Stirling; Wiltshire and Ledbury solar co-ops etc
Microgen Scotland 16th Jan 2015 read more »
SSE subsidiary Scottish Hydro Electricity Transmission has said that it will accept £1.1bn of funding from Ofgem for a new subsea cable. The allowance from the energy regulator is £105m less than SHE Transmission applied for. The 100 mile-long (161km) cable will connect two sides of the Moray Firth and need 600 people to build it. Due for completion in 2018, the cable could add 1.2 gigawatts of new renewable energy capacity to the grid.
BBC 16th Jan 2015 read more »
Herald 17th Jan 2015 read more »
A proposed site for controversial fracking for shale gas has been granted environmental permits by regulators. The permits set out the conditions that shale company Cuadrilla must follow to protect groundwater, surface water and air quality and safely manage and dispose of waste at Preston New Road, Plumpton, in Lancashire, the Environment Agency said. It is one of two new sites in Lancashire where Cuadrilla is seeking permission to drill, frack and test gas exploration wells, with Lancashire county council set to make a decision on the planning applications later this month. The Environment Agency said it had conducted a rigorous as sessment of Cuadrilla’s applications and carried out extensive public consultation.
Guardian 16th Jan 2015 read more »
The oil price rout could end in the second half of the year, according to the International Energy Agency, which believes that “signs are mounting that the tide will turn”. The agency, which represents the world’s largest energy-consuming nations, said that it expected a slowdown in oil output growth from non-Opec producers, which in turn would help to ease the global glut in crude. Oil companies have cancelled dozens of projects that have been rendered uneconomic and have cut spending to weather the downturn.
Times 17th Jan 2015 read more »
NASA and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have confirmed 2014 was the warmest year since records began in 1880. The 10 warmest years in the instrumental record, with the exception of 1998, have now occurred since 2000. Carbon Brief rounds up the reaction from scientists.
Carbon Brief 16th Jan 2015 read more »