As nuclear projects using the EPR design run into long delays and huge costs overruns, industry hopes are pinned on the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor, writes Chris Goodall. But with eight AP1000 projects around the world going the way of the EPR, is it really a wise choice for the UK’s Moorside nuclear site? Will new nuclear projects around the world avoid the major problems that have affected the first eight AP1000s because the construction companies have learnt how to build these huge projects more efficiently? Or is a safe third generation nuclear power station beyond the capacity of even the most experienced contractors to build to a tight timetable and at a predictable cost?
Ecologist 17th July 2015 read more »
One of the energy secretary Amber Rudd’s first and biggest jobs involves tough negotiating over the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear power station. Her brother Roland Rudd’s PR firm represent a company with big interests in Hinkley Point but the government’s conflict of interest procedures are not picking up the issue. Roland Rudd is founder of City PR firm Finsbury. Finsbury’s clients include construction firm Kier. In 2012 Kier signed a £100m contract with EDF Energy to help build Hinkley. The new register of MPs interests has a new category “family members involved in lobbying”, but Rudd makes a no mention of Roland or his firm.
Private Eye 10th July 2015 read more »
The decision to build the new Hinkley C nuclear power station will suffer another two month delay as further question marks were raised over the entire project. The chief executive of EDF told the French parliament that the long-awaited Final Investment Decision would not now happen until ‘after the summer pause’ – the great month-long break the French take to the Mediterranean throughout August. That means the crucial FID decision is almost certain not to be taken until September at the earliest – almost six months after it was first due before the election.
Western Daily Press 16th July 2015 read more »
Open letter opposing Hinkley Point C going ahead is wrong as the UK will be using gas and nuclear for a very long time says, GMB. We know that civil nuclear power in the UK has a good safety record as we organise it says GMB. GMB, the union for energy workers, responded to an open letter to GMB in the Ecologist in response to GMB call for the construction of Hinkley Point C new nuclear power station to go ahead as there is no requirement to await the outcome of the Austrian legal challenge. See notes to editors for copy of the open letter dated 15th July from David Elliott, Ian Fairlie, Jonathon Porritt et al and GMB press release dated 7th July. Gary Smith, GMB National Secretary for energy in his response, said Ian, Thanks for the letter. I will resist the temptation of a lengthy reply. I am afraid you are wrong on a whole number of levels. If the Austrians are successful and they won’t be, they will continue to be surrounded by ageing Soviet style reactors. I get their concern but their solution, trying to stop new modern reactors being built which could replace the old Soviet kit is just plain daft. Civil nuclear power in the UK has a good safety record. We know as we organise it. The truth is there are very few jobs for working class people in renewables and those that do exist are invariably not unionised. We did organise a chunk of the sector before solar was cut and we are the only union with national negotiating rights in the insulation sector. The jobs facts are an inconvenient truth. I am writing tomorrow to the government on the UK supply chain and offshore wind. Maybe you would be better putting energy into attacking the Tories rather than sending me letters like this that frankly are erroneous.
Your Nuclear News 16th July 2015 read more »
Chapelcross – Submarine Waste
The SNP government reacted angrily last night after it emerged that a former nuclear power station near Annan is in the running to be the UK base for radioactive material from decommissioned Royal Navy submarines. UK defence officials are looking for a base to handle and store dangerous radioactive waste from 27 submarines that are waiting to be dismantled. Scottish ministers had already objected to the inclusion of the former nuclear power station at Chapelcross on a list of five potential sites around the UK when it was unveiled last year. In a new report looking at potential issues on all the sites, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed that there are local objections to each one and all five will remain in contention until the decision is taken next year. Richard Lochhead, the Scottish environment secretary, wrote to the UK government last night p rotesting again at the inclusion of the site. A Scottish government spokeswoman said: “The MoD must listen to and respect the views of the majority of people and organisations in Scotland who responded to the consultation, expressing their strong opposition.”
Times 18th July 2015 read more »
FOUR hundred safety workers at the Sellafield former nuclear power plant in Cumbria will strike over pay grading, energy union GMB announced yesterday. The health physics monitors, who use Geiger counters to check radiation levels at the site, will walk out for 24 hours on July 28. They have been battling for 15 years to be placed in a higher pay grade and, following two years of negotiations, had thought they had won their demand.
Morning Star 18th July 2015 read more »
With EDF Energy publishing its Japanese Earthquake Response Programme ONR Recommendation Closeout Report in mid-June, concerning nuclear plant safety enhancements in Britain, it turns out the Office of Nuclear Regulation wants more from the company. The Closeout Report documents three years of work that is the direct result and response to the March 2011 International Nuclear Event Scale 7 “Major accident,” at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant on the East Coast of Japan, EDF Energy’s report says. The response in Britain entailed gearing up for “extremely unlikely but severe natural hazards,” that could strike its British fleet of eight nuclear power stations comprised of 15 reactors in the country that have a combined 9,000 megawatt capacity. With Fukushima Daiichi providing the motivation, EDF Energy responded with an extensive program of resilience enhancements that included “a large quantity of Deployable Back-Up Equipment that is in a continuous state of readiness with emergency responders trained and procedures developed,” the introduction to the 200-page report says. Only a month after the report’s releases, the EBR (Energy Business Review) reports that the British regulator has already asked for a few more enhancements. The recommendations include additional staff training for technical staff, more backup equipment and facilities dedicated to emergency command and management.
Nuclear Steet 17th July 2015 read more »
EDF Energy has completed improvements at its nuclear plants in the UK to meet the regulatory requirements, even as the Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has suggested a few more enhancements.
Energy Business Review 14th July 2015 read more »
The International Panel on Fissile Materials has released a new research report, Plutonium Separation in Nuclear Power Programs: Status, Problems, and Prospects of Civilian Reprocessing Around the World. The report looks at the history, current status and prospects of programs aimed at separating plutonium for civilian use from spent fuel produced by nuclear power reactors. Today only China, France, India, Japan, Russia and the United Kingdom have active civilian reprocessing programs, and all of these programs are detailed in the report. The report also looks at the rise and fall of reprocessing in Germany and the agitation in South Korea for starting a program.
International Panel on Fissile Materials 17th July 2015 read more »
Green taxes which push up energy bills are to be slashed by the government, MailOnline has learned. A ‘big reset’ of the support given to the renewable industry is expected to be announced within weeks, including cuts to funding for the solar industry. Cabinet insiders say the view on tackling subsidies has ‘hardened’ over fears recent price cuts announced by power firms will be wiped out by rising environmental taxes.
Daily Mail 17th July 2015 read more »
The government is reportedly preparing a “big reset” of clean energy subsidies in a move that could slash support for solar projects and trigger a major re-shaping of the UK’s decarbonisation strategy. The Daily Mail reported today the Cabinet has this week discussed a series of new proposals designed to honour the Conservative Party’s manifesto commitment to “cut emissions as cost-effectively as possible”. Sources told the paper ministers view on clean energy subsidies had “hardened” and that a “big reset” of support policies was being planned. The paper said the changes, which could be announced within weeks, would likely mean steep cuts to solar subsidies, shelving of plans for the Swansea Tidal Lagoon, and an increased focus on new nuclear and gas power capacity.
Business Green 17th July 2015 read more »
Energy bills are back in the news, with the Office of Budget Responsibility calculating new figures for the cost of low carbon power, the Competition and Markets Authority investigating energy companies, and both IPPR and Policy Exchange releasing reports in the past few weeks. With so much to debate, and a lot of seemingly conflicting numbers to grasp, here are five things you should know: 1. The levy control framework (LCF) makes up 3% of the average energy bill. 2. Support for low carbon power isn’t the reason bills are rising 3. We haven’t actually overspent – yet 4. The LCF has headroom which is a good thing The LCF was set at £7.6bn with additional ‘headroom’ of 20%, bringing its total value to around £9.1bn. The main reason costs are projected to be higher than anticipated is that small scale solar has been more popular than expected. The second reason is that offshore wind farms are generating more electricity than expected. Decc predicted that they would have a load factor of around 38% , but the newest ones are generating around 45% of their rated capacity. 5. Low carbon infrastructure has benefits as well as costs. Of all policy areas across government, low carbon investment most closely resembles a long term investment plan, designed to increase economic growth. Reducing investment in low carbon infrastructure might cut a small component of energy bills, but it would also cut a major driver of UK GDP.
Guardian 17th July 2015 read more »
Five former energy regulators have launched a withering attack on the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) dismissing its recent report on the big six power suppliers as fundamentally flawed. Prof Stephen Littlechild, ex-head of Offer, Clare Spottiswoode, former head of Ofgas, and others expressed “grave concerns” about the CMA’s conclusion that the energy companies have been overcharging and condemned its proposed remedy of barring price rises. They said: “The proposed price control – a safeguard price cap or default tariff – has serious disadvantages. It will restrict competition and militate against the CMA’s other remedies to increase customer involvement. “It will increase regulatory uncertainty and hence the cost of capital, and hence prices to customers. The recommendation also ignores the practical and political implications of such intervention.”
Guardian 17th July 2015 read more »
Britain could face blackouts if the wind doesn’t blow in winter 2016-17, unless emergency measures are brought in to bolster electricity supplies, official analysis suggests. Output from Britain’s power plants would not be enough to meet peak demand if there was “low wind” – meaning the thousands of wind turbines across the country would generate very little electricity, forecasts show. Old mothballed power plants are now likely to be paid millions of pounds to fire back up or factories paid to switch off at peak times, under proposed emergency measures to ensure the lights stay on. Normally, the UK’s electricity grid has a spare capacity “margin” – meaning more power is available than is expected to be needed to meet peak demand. The margin ensures that “consumers are not affected” if demand for electricity increases unexpectedly – such as in a cold snap – or power plants break down, Ofgem says.
Telegraph 17th July 2015 read more »
The energy regulator has issued a new and more alarming warning about the potential for blackouts, saying Britain’s spare capacity margin could dwindle to zero as early as next year. The prediction from Ofgem has forced the infrastructure operator, National Grid, to consult on another round of subsidies to encourage companies to keep power stations open, a move likely to raise household energy bills further. It could also leave Britain further dependent at times of peak demand on “diesel farms”, which have been condemned by environmentalists as carbon-intensive and expensive to run. Ofgem predicted earlier this wee k that capacity margins could fall as low as 1.2% this winter, but admitted in a consultation document on Friday that the demand-supply cushion risks being wiped out completely in 18 months. “Our analysis shows that the Lole (loss of load expectations) could range between two and 15 hours per year for our central view of the risks (corresponding to margins between 0% and 4%),” the document says with regard to the 2016-17 winter period. The power squeeze has been getting steadily worse as coal, nuclear and gas plants have been retired owing to age or environmental legislation. But paying power companies – many of which are from the big six energy firms that have been criticised for the scale of their retail profits – will be unpopular when some consumers are already struggling to pay their energy bills.
Guardian 17th July 2015 read more »
Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez was hired as a nuclear engineer after graduating from college – but he was fired after just 10 days for failing a background check, it has been revealed. The 24-year old, who gunned down four Marines during two brazen gun attacks in Chattanooga, Tennessee on Thursday, was employed by FirstEnergy Corp in Ohio in 2013.
Daily Mail 18th July 2015 read more »
Reuters 17th July 2015 read more »
As we are now in the period between the 70 thanniversary of the first test of an nuclear explosive device, in the “Trinity “test at Socorro, New Mexico on 16 July 1945, and the first belligerent use in war of a nuclear device as a nuclear weapon three weeks later, on 6 August 1945, when it was used to immolate some 150,000 civilians in Hiroshima, I think it useful to look at what might have happened had Henry A. Wallace, who had been FD Roosevelt’s wartime vice-president succeeded in joining Roosevelt on the Presidential ticket at the 1944 Democratic convention as his running mate. Had Wallace been President not Truman, the Cold War may never have begun; and we could have avoided the nuclear arms race as well.
Dr David Lowry 17th July 2015 read more »
The new Conservative government has been in power for less than three months but has already announced a tranche of anti-green policies and undermined investor confidence in the sector, precisely what the renewables industry pleaded with it not to do prior to the general election. Earlier than expected cuts to onshore wind subsidies, the removal of Climate Change Levy exemption for renewables and a rumoured overspend in the Levy Control Framework budget, coupled with the Department for Energy and Climate Change having its budget for the next year slashed by £70 million, has led the industry to ask just one question: what’s next?
Solar Portal 15th July 2015 read more »
In a new study by Stanford University, a solid financial, technical and economical case for the U.S to convert its all-purpose energy systems to ones powered by wind, water and sunlight (WWS) has been made. Based on their calculations, the authors say solar PV could account for 38% of power generation in 2050, and create up to 2.3 million jobs.
PV Magazine 2nd July 2015 read more »
100% Renewable Cities
José Etcheverry, Professor at York University and Manual Valdés, Deputy Manager, City of Barcelona discuss what the 100% renewable cities movement means for cities.
Renewable Cities 7th July 2015 read more »
Scottish councils could lose out on £44 million of scarce income under UK government plans to scrap subsidies for wind farms. Dozens of jobs could also be at risk under the UK government’s plans to ditch £800 million of support a year early for onshore turbines. The announcement last month was welcomed by anti-wind farm groups who say they have scarred Scotland’s countryside in recent years as “subsidy chasers” flock to erect turbines on hills and moorland. A new report by industry body Scottish Renewables reveals local authorities have already invested more than £650,000 in site investigation and pre-planning work on publicly owned wind farm projects. But these are now facing the axe because the subsidy regime has ended.
Scotsman 18th July 2015 read more »
An additional 2 million tonnes of CO2 emissions could be produced each year by 2020 as a result of the government’s decision to axe zero carbon targets, according to industry experts. The decision, which included ditching both the proposed 2016 uprating of building regulations and the proposed “allowable solutions” carbon offsetting scheme, was announced as part of chancellor George Osborne’s productivity drive, Fixing the Foundations, last week. A snapshot analysis produced by architect HTA and corroborated by other consultants, suggests that each home produced to current building regulations will emit two tonnes more carbon per year than those previously proposed under the “zero carbon” target. Should the government hit its target of building 200,000 homes a year over the next five years, then by 2020 those homes will produce an additional two million tonnes of CO2 each per year as a result of the government’s decision.
Building 17th July 2015 read more »
The most important environmental meeting in history is on course to decisively tackle climate change as an “unstoppable and irreversible” momentum builds to “green the planet”, the United Nations climate change chief has told The Independent. Christiana Figueres says she is confident that December’s UN summit in Paris – regarded as the most important so far – will deliver its ambitious target to agree on action drastic enough to limit global warming to 2C. Beyond this level, the consequences of climate change become increasingly devastating. “The stars are aligning towards a Paris agreement that will establish a pathway that keeps us within the limit of 2C,” Ms Figueres said.
Independent 17th July 2015 read more »
A farmer who gave an energy company permission to dig a test borehole for coal bed methane gas out of a sense of national duty has warned other landowners not to allow fracking and other unconventional gas exploration companies on their land. The potential of gas drilling to pollute water courses and the effect it could have on the value of farmland left Paul Hickson and his family stressed for years and no wealthier, he said. “I very much regret signing anything. I would never ever go into this kind of agreement again. As a farmer or landowner, you have the most to lose. I would say to anyone approached, please don’t let anyone drill on your land [to extract coal bed methane and gas by fracking shale].”
Guardian 17th July 2015 read more »
SCOTLAND’S pro-shale gas lobby is fighting hard to win public acceptance for fracking. It is under no illusions that it faces an uphill struggle. This week, on a coach to Shanghai, the boss of the firm that is already bringing shale gas to Scotland by importing it from America expressed exasperation at the opposition to his plans to create an indigenous supply, giving a rare interview to The Herald.
Herald 18th July 2015 read more »