Two new radioactive waste facilities have opened in the UK. The first two vaults for the disposal of low-level waste have been completed at Dounreay, while the first intermediate-level waste (ILW) has been put into a new interim storage facility at Berkeley.
World Nuclear News 16th May 2014 read more »
The Westminster Government has hit back at claims its has suppressed a report into radiation at Dalgety Bay. Former PM Gordon Brown accused ministers of a dereliction of duty as he revealed parts of a long-awaited document to be released by the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE) next week into the contaminated foreshore’s impact on health. Meanwhile, the SNP claimed the Ministry of Defence had been forced into abandoning attempts to block the report. However, now a Government spokesman has stressed a commitment to delivering the best advice to the local community. “The advice from Public Health England, formerly the Health Protection Agency, has consistently been that the risk to the local community at Dalgety Bay from the presence of radium is very low,” he said. “We are committed to ensuring that those living locally continue to receive the best possible advice which is why we have worked closely with COMARE to ensure the report’s findings are based on the most comprehensive and up-to-date information available.” He added the draft of the report — which will be published as soon as possible — had been circulated to the Scottish Government and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) last November so the local community can continue to receive the most appropriate advice and any necessary action can be taken. The local community council chairman also expressed “outrage” that agreement was not reached to release the report earlier.
Dundee Courier 16th May 2014 read more »
Scotland – Energy Costs
As part of a general tactic of promoting fear and uncertainty in Scotland the UK Government has implied that Scottish electricity consumers will face hefty increases in their electricity bills if Scotland becomes independent. What has escaped notice is that if the UK Government made good its implied threat that they would stop incentives being paid for renewables that have already been installed in Scotland (and not just ones that might be installed after independence), then the outcome would almost certainly be significant increases in English electricity bills. At worst there could be a breakdown in the British electricity system and blackouts.
Dave Toke’s Blog 17th May 2014 read more »
Scotland – Economy
A different, sustainable economy is possible, for Scotland and globally, if we break away from the neo-liberal race to the bottom. Today, I was speaking at the Friends of the Earth Scotland’s conference, ‘Transforming Scotland ‘s Economy’. My contribution was on the impact of privatisation with a focus on the energy industry and local government. Instead of lots of numbers and charts that I am inordinately fond of, I started with a topical story that for me illustrates all that is wrong with our economic system. Soma, is a small mining town in western Turkey, host to one of the greatest industrial crimes in mining history when an explosion trapped 800 miners. The death toll has already claimed 280 lives and may yet exceed 300. I use the word crime deliberately, this was no ordinary accident.
Dave Watson 17th May 2014 read more »
Global consulting firm PwC says the nature of the electricity market is changing so quickly that the traditional energy utilities are facing their “Kodak” moment. Either they change quickly, or they will lose their “right to survive”, even as the providers of what is usually considered an essential service.
Renew Economy 5th May 2014 read more »
British Gas’s plan to offer millions of households “free power” on Saturdays has been delayed indefinitely, The Telegraph has learnt. Britain’s biggest energy supplier disclosed last August that it had been trialling the eye-catching tariff and planned to launch it to the wider market early in 2014. It said the plan could shift energy demand away from peak weekday times, reducing the need for more power stations to avert blackouts. But the future of the tariff is in doubt after it emerged it would not be launched this year and British Gas was unable to give any revised date for its rollout.
Telegraph 17th May 2014 read more »
Energy giant SSE is braced for calls to cut prices this week, when it is expected to reveal its profits surged 9pc to £1.54bn last year. Britain’s second-largest energy supplier announced in March that it would freeze household energy prices until 2016, drawing praise from politicians. But the tide is likely to turn when its results show that group earnings increased substantially over 2013-14, when it raised prices by 8.2pc.
Telegraph 17th May 2014 read more »
Artful, a 7,400-tonne, 106-yard-long attack submarine, was edged out of its giant construction hall at the Devonshire Dock Hall in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, on Friday and was carefully lowered into the water the following day. Artful, the third of seven highly complex Astute-class submarines being designed and built for the Royal Navy, will now begin the next phase of its test and commissioning process ahead of sea trials next year.
Shropshire Star 18th May 2014 read more »
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is suffering a severe and worsening shortage of skilled nuclear engineers that could threaten the safety of nuclear weapons and submarines on the Clyde. Official figures released by the MoD reveal that one in 10 nuclear safety posts – both civilian and military – are vacant. The MoD’s own safety watchdog has warned that the staffing crisis poses “a significant threat to the safe delivery of the defence nuclear programme”. The revelations have been described as utterly shocking by the SNP’s Westminster defence spokesman, Angus Robertson MP. “To find out there are so many vacancies in critical nuclear positions is totally unacceptable,” he told the Sunday Herald.
Sunday Herald 18th May 2014 read more »
Iran and world powers were nursing their wounds on Saturday after a bruising round of nuclear talks, but diplomats and experts remain hopeful a historic deal can still be struck by a July 20 deadline.
Middle East Online 17th May 2014 read more »
It had been predicted that this would be the “sticker-shock conversation”, and that is how the latest round of nuclear talks turned out. The phrase, for those unfamiliar with American retail jargon, refers to the unpleasant moment a prospective buyer eyes the price label on an object of desire. In Vienna, the object is a lasting compromise on Iran’s nuclear programme, and the price came as a shock even to the seasoned diplomats who have been working away at this for years. One senior western diplomat had this to say: Perhaps expectations had been a little high…On some issues we would have probably expected a little bit more flexibility on their side.
Guardian 17th May 2014 read more »
Ukrainian police stopped a group of armed men from entering Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, located in southeastern Ukraine. In video footage allegedly showing the attempted break-in, the men say they are members of the Right Sector group. The gunmen were stopped Thursday at the entrance of the city of Energodar, near Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant, the facility’s press service said in a Friday statement on its website. The power plant’s authorities said the incident did not affect the station’s operations. However, security at the plant and throughout Energodar has been heightened.
Russia Today 17th May 2014 read more »
You’d think that a world-leading renewable energy country like Germany — a country that recently saw about 75% of its electricity production coming from renewables (at noon last Sunday) – wouldn’t need big rallies for renewable energy. Ah, but you’d be wrong. Everywhere renewable energy is growing fast, it is threatening extremely rich energy industries. Money has influence on politics all over the world, so that means renewables need strong citizen support to keep growing. That said, since renewable energy is 1) owned by a much larger number of people, and 2) so much better for society as a whole, once renewable industries start growing, citizen support and action just gets stronger. Take a stroll through these videos below to see how totally awesome a renewable energy rally in Berlin, held last Saturday.
Clean Technica 16th May 2014 read more »
Renewables – Geothermal
Earlier this year, researchers in Iceland found a new way to transform the heat generated by volcanic magma into electricity. The advancement could be especially valuable in Iceland, a country that has capitalized on its unique geology to derive a quarter of its electricity production and around 90 percent of household heating from geothermal energy. And it’s just the latest innovation in a series of geothermal energy breakthroughs dating back a century to the first geothermal power generation in Italy in 1906. As these advancements continue, geothermal energy is clearly becoming a major renewable energy source waiting to be tapped — one that’s literally sitting beneath our feet.
Climate Progress 15th May 2014 read more »
Renewables – Small Hydro
A LANDMARK hydro scheme that once illuminated a Scottish stately home when electric power was in its infancy is being brought back into service. The pioneering Victorian scheme has been reinvented for the 21st century using the latest renewable technology and has helped a botanical garden near Peebles become the greenest in the UK. It is the latest in a raft of eco-friendly innovations that have seen Dawyck, the Borders outpost of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE), being crowned as the first ¬carbon-neutral garden of its type in the country. Heating for its visitor centre, which was built in 2008, is provided by a sustainable biomass boiler, while the revamped hydro system is forecast to offset more than 20 tonnes of climate-warming carbon dioxide each year.
Scotland on Sunday 18th May 2014 read more »
A recent commentary piece in Ends report (UK’s energy efficiency plan ‘not fully coherent’, by Paul Hatchwell, 7th May) is critical of DECC’s National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NEAP). In the article Hatchwell refers to an assessment by the EU-wide Coalition for Energy Savings which concluded that the ‘UK’s plans were considered “assessable”, but classed as “not fully coherent and/or several measures and claimed savings questionable”. As project leader on a Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand project on the ‘Policy synergies and trade offs for low energy innovation’ I find this article interesting as it highlights the difficulties of making complex policy mixes work.
Sussex Energy Group 13th May 2014 read more »
The poorest households spend 40% of their income on housing, food and fuel, a huge increase on a decade ago, according to research uncovered by an all-party parliamentary inquiry into hunger and food poverty. The evidence suggests that while the cost of living crisis has hurt every socio-economic group, it has been a disaster for the poorest households. The proportion of income that the poorest households spend on necessities rose by nine percentage points between 2003 and 2012, in the biggest rise endured by any economic group. According to a cross-party inquiry led by Labour MP Frank Field, the disproportionately large increase seen in the poorest households is due entirely to rising housing and fuel costs – the proportion of income spent on food is the same as a decade ago. UK households combined spent £34.3bn on energy in 2013, a real-terms increase of 131.1% on the £14.8bn spent in 2003. Had energy prices risen in line with the RPI over the same period, households would have spent £20.6bn on energy in 2013 – an increase of just 39.2% on 2003.
Observer 18th May 2014 read more »
JIM RATCLIFFE, the billionaire who recently won a bitter battle with unions at Scotland’s Grangemouth refinery, has struck the first deals to bring cheap American shale gas to Britain. He will import 1.6bn tons a year from terminals on America’s Atlantic coast and the Gulf of Mexico. The gas will be sent to a facility in Norway owned by Ineos, Ratcliffe’s giant chemicals company, and to Grangemouth. The Scottish plant needs it because North Sea production is dwindling. Last week Ineos won approval from Falkirk council for the construction of a 60,000 cubic metre storage tank for the imported gas, which will be used to make ethylene, a vital chemical in the manufacture of plastic.
Sunday Times 18th May 2014 read more »
It is often claimed by those who deny the reality of climate change that scientific forecasts about the impact of global warming are far too uncertain to merit taking action. There is no reason to suffer the inconvenience of leaving the planet’s fossil fuels unburned when the current analyses of meteorologists, oceanographers and geophysicists will probably turn out to be false alarms, they argue. Such contention is dangerously false. For a start, scientists’ warnings about future weather patterns are certainly not overreactions to the evidence they have gathered. In most cases, observed climate changes – the slump in summer sea ice coverage in the Arctic in recent years is a good example – have turned out to be far more drastic than researchers had originally predicted. Their views of the future – melting icecaps, spreading deserts and acidifying oceans – are cautious evaluations that most probably underestimate the likely impact of global warming. After a week that has seen several UK newspapers give wild and inordinate coverage to false claims that some scientists have tried to suppress inconvenient climate research, this point needs emphasising. A world bedevilled by climate change is not a remote, questionable prospect. It is a reality that has already arrived and is destined to have increasingly profound impacts until we wake up to the threat and act coherently.
Observer 18th May 2014 read more »