EUROPEAN Union rules to be published in the coming weeks, could make it easier to justify using taxpayers’ money to fund nuclear power, pitching major EU powers against each other. The European Commission (EC), the EU’s executive, says its mind is still open on the topic, but it is under pressure to set a legal framework for state aid to nuclear projects after several member states, including Britain, sought its guidance. Whatever it lays down, as part of wider modernisation rules, is likely to widen a rift between anti-nuclear nations, like Germany and Austria, and those in support of the technology, such as Britain and the Czech Republic.
Irish Independent 17th Aug 2013 read more »
FOR 66 years they have formed Britain’s deadliest nuclear legacy. Now a 400ft chimney and a burnt-out reactor that once spewed radiation across the Lake District are finally to be dismantled, using giant robotic machinery to rip out the still-lethal contaminated material. The Windscale Pile One chimney has lain sealed and isolated at the heart of the Sellafield site in Cumbria ever since the primitive reactor it ventilated caught fire in 1957. The blaze caused a national emergency, spreading radiation across much of Britain and northern Europe – but far greater amounts were left trapped in the chimney. It is so radioactive that it has been left standing untouched along with the reactor, which still contains more than 10 tons of highly radioactive melted uranium fuel. It has since become an icon for environmentalists, symbolising B ritain’s past nuclear blunders and, they say, carrying the threat of more to come should the country once again embrace nuclear power. By next year, however, the chimney should be gone – with the pile reactor, fuel-rod cooling ponds and a giant silo used for storing the metal cladding stripped from fuel rods also heading for demolition. Martin Forwood, of Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment (C ORE), welcomed the attempt to make the reactors safe. “This fire happened in the 1950s and the buildings are hazardous and contaminated, so they should be made safe,” he said. “We want an end to the nuclear fuel reprocessing industry that perpetuates the problem.”
Sunday Times 18th Aug 2013 read more »
Working in top secret over a period of 17 years, Russian and American scientists collaborated to remove hundreds of pounds of plutonium and highly enriched uranium — enough to construct at least a dozen nuclear weapons — from a remote Soviet-era nuclear test site in Kazakhstan that had been overrun by impoverished metal scavengers, according to a report released last week by the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard. The report sheds light on a mysterious $150 million cleanup operation paid for in large part by the United States, whose nuclear scientists feared that terrorists would discover the fissile material and use it to build a dirty bomb.
New York Times 18th Aug 2013 read more »
Iran has about 18,000 centrifuges, including 10,000 active ones, the outgoing head of the country’s atomic agency said Saturday, confirming figures from the UN watchdog overseeing its disputed nuclear drive.
Fox News 17th Aug 2013 read more »
Some mainstream media around the world have a tendency to publish misinformed or, worse, systematically and falsely negative stories about renewable energy. Some of those stories’ misinformation looks innocent, due to careless reporting, sloppy fact checking, and perpetuation of old myths. But other coverage walks, or crosses, the dangerous line of a disinformation campaign—a persistent pattern of coverage meant to undermine renewables’ strong market reality. This has become common enough in mainstream media that some researchers have focused their attention on this balance of accurate and positive coverage vs. inaccurate and negative coverage.
Rocky Mountain Institute Blog 31st July 2013 read more »
If solar were fashion, we’d say it was having a moment. Over the past few years we’ve gone from near zero solar photovoltaic panels to 2.5GW of capacity. Of this 1.9GW is installed on rooftops and 0.6GW on giant solar farms, with planning secured for a further 0.9GW of utility scale projects. Ordinarily, I’d greet these farms supplying renewable energy with a cheery, “Welcome to the grid!” Unfortunately, my real response on seeing one on a beloved rolling south Devon hillside was more profane. Developers tend to say they’re of “low visual impact”. Actually they’re positively industrial, guaranteed to bring out your inner Nimby. There’s a sad lack of projects offering cheap energy for locals. (Good Energy’s Delabole wind farm and the single westmillsolar.coop in Watchfield are rare exceptions). So far big solar’s brought scant power to the people.
Observer 18th Aug 2013 read more »
Britain has fewer than two dozen brownfield sites suitable for large numbers of solar panels, according to an industry study. The research appears to challenge claims by ministers that renewable energy targets can be met by placing most panels on brownfield sites and roofs of buildings. The intervention comes after the Government announced a massive expansion of solar farms, which attract generous subsidies. In June, Greg Barker, the energy and climate change minister, said it was his ambition for 20GW of energy to be produced by solar panels by 2020 — effectively a 10-fold increase in the number of solar farms currently built or being planned.
Telegraph 18th Aug 2013 read more »
RWE, a German energy firm, wants to construct 240 offshore turbines, each 722ft tall – more than four times the height of Nelson’s column – to generate 1,200 megawatts of electricity. The scheme, which could earn RWE hundreds of millions of pounds a year in consumer subsidy, is planned for an area 10 miles off the North Devon coast, eight miles from Lundy Island, a 1.7 sq mile outcrop owned by the National Trust. Its developers say it will help Britain meet its renewable energy targets and could boost the economy by creating thousands of jobs. But the plans have prompted a backlash from residents in Devon and Lundy, as well as environmental and heritage groups, who claim it could cause lasting damage.
Telegraph 18th Aug 2013 read more »
Letter Steuart Campbell: THE government’s latest published statistics (for 2011) do not support Jenny Hogan’s claim (Letters, 11 August) that Scotland produces more electricity from renewables than coal or gas. In that year only 16 per cent of electricity came from renewables, or 26 per cent if one includes hydro-generation. But 39 per cent came from burning coal or gas. Renewables (excepting hydro) have a long way to go to exceed the 33 per cent that came from nuclear generation.
Scotland on Sunday 18th Aug 2013 read more »
Smart meters will be widespread in the UK by the end of the decade, but has the government thought through the security ramifications? Inside each device is a sim card that enables it to communicate with the utility companies that supply the gas and electricity. This is how the utilities will always be able to supply an accurate meter reading. But it will also enable them remotely to terminate your supply if, for example, you fail to pay your bills on time. Which means – and here’s the interesting bit – Kim Jong-un, the Chinese army or any number of unsavoury characters in the Middle East or Russia could do the same.
Observer 18th Aug 2013 read more »
A large cross-section of environmental and conservation groups has called on the Government to “put the brakes on fracking”. In a letter in today’s Sunday Times, the NGOs – including the Wildlife Trusts, RSPB, WWF and Greenpeace– say protests in Balcombe, Sussex are not an isolated case of local dissent, but emblematic of concern shared by many of their members about the threat fracking poses to communities and the environment. This is the first time such a large number of influential NGOs has joined together to urge the Government to stop its headlong rush into fracking, and the first time the Wildlife Trusts have spoken out nationally. It comes after RSPB yesterday issued its first formal objections to fracking proposals in Balcombe and Lancashire.
Greenpeace 18th Aug 2013 read more »
Letter: Fracking to the degree proposed by the coalition would leave the UK with a gas- dependent energy system for decades to come, significantly compromising our ability to meet legally binding targets on cutting carbon emissions. There is also no evidence that shale gas would reduce household energy bills, and the clean technologies that can improve energy efficiency and deliver cheaper energy over time are being sidelined. The coalition needs to put the brakes on fracking now and place the focus back onto our greatest natural assets — wind, wave and solar power.
Sunday Times 18th aug 2013 read more »
Significantly, conservationists are raising a second objection as well: that “increasing oil and gas use will scupper our chances of meeting climate targets.” Some supporters of shale exploitation say the cheaper and (relatively) cleaner energy it would produce could serve as a bridge to usher the UK into an era of secure supplies and low-carbon emissions. Others see shale not as a bridge but as a dead end. The RSPB concludes: “…concentrating our resources on extracting fossil fuel from the ground instead of investing in renewable energy threatens to undermine our commitment to avoiding dangerous levels of climate change.”
Climate News Network 17th Aug 2013 read more »