Ten years ago, when the British government first considered launching a new nuclear programme, Areva, the French nuclear technology company, said it could build reactors that would produce electricity profitably at £24 per megawatt-hour. It seemed an attractive proposition. Not only was this less than previous reactors, it was competitive with other power sources. New technology seemed to have opened the door to affordable carbonless electricity; Britain could meet its ever-tougher climate goals without shaking the public down. A decade on and a major nuclear accident later, the world knows better. Nuclear projects elsewhere have been scrapped and existing stations shuttered or scheduled for early closure. Meanwhile stringent regulations have exposed Areva’s promise as a chimera. It turns out that the price of new nuclear for Britain is not £24 per MWh but nearly four times as much. The French face several obstacles. First, there is the question of EDF’s balance sheet, groaning under a €37bn debt pile. The company’s share price has more than halved in the past year and its market capitalisation is now about €21bn. That is not much more than the company’s 67 per cent share of the cost of Hinkley C. Linked to this are worries about the reactor technology it is employing. The two projects under construction, including EDF’s at Flamanville in France, are delayed and over budget. It might be difficult to entice lenders while it is possible that problems with Flamanville might cause construction to be halted or scrapped. New nuclear might not be needed were the UK to rethink its costly promises and reduce its carbon targets to match those of other EU states. If new reactors are to be considered, however, they must be subjected to the rigours of competition. That is the only way to get the right technology at acceptable cost. Britain is saddled with the worst of all worlds. The government has effectively written the French a long-dated option to sell it unproven technology at an extremely generous price. Politically painful it may be, but the case for halting Hinkley Point C is becoming hard to refute.
FT 18th Feb 2016 read more »
Hinkley C funding delays causing uncertainty in Burnham business community. The Burnham Chamber of Commerce have expressed concern as the potential investment associated with the new build will have a knock on effect on the town. A spokesman for the group said: “Uncertainty is unwelcome but the concentration of Hinkley C support services and infrastructure in Bridgwater means that the material impact on Burnham is limited.” In Bridgwater there was similar frustration. The chairman Steve Leahy said: “We were told early January but early January has come and gone. I’ve had discussions today about it and made enquiries but we can’t get any news of the decision.”
This is the West Country 18th Feb 2016 read more »
Although the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant is not in North Devon, it offers considerable benefits to this area’s businesses and economy. The sum of £16 billion is being invested in the plant and, while much of this will be spent in Somerset, there is a huge demand for contractors from across the region to work on various aspects of the project.
North Devon Journal 18th Feb 2016 read more »
Horizon Nuclear Power has gained planning consent to expand its Wylfa Newydd site office on Anglesey. The £1m extension is needed to house Horizon’s expanding workforce on Anglesey, and is a further step in preparations ahead of the construction phase in a few years time. Wylfa Newydd is predicted to employ around 1,000 workers once operational with a peak of more than 6,000 during construction.
Daily Post 18th Feb 2016 read more »
MARGARET Thatcher’s government feared the nuclear reactor at Dounreay could have been responsible for a cluster of leukaemia cases. Conservative ministers ordered a survey into the concerns in the mid-1980s. They were worried about a number of cases of the disease among young people in Thurso living within 12.5 kilometres (7.7 miles) of the nuclear facility. The then Scottish Secretary Malcolm Rifkind announced a study that would examine the number of cases between 1958 and 1983, to try to establish whether or not there was a link between low levels of radiation and leukaemia. Ministers were also worried about clusters in two other parts of the UK. However, neither of these appeared to be linked to nuclear sites. Initial findings from the study, reported to the cabinet, showed that experts found that “the distribution of cases is the result of chance”.
Herald 19th Feb 2016 http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14287863.Thatcher_s_government_feared_Dounreay_linked_to_leukaemia_cases/
Britain faces a “looming gap” in its energy supplies because of a series of failures in the Government’s scheme to keep the lights on, British Gas owner Centrica has warned. Ministers must make “significant changes” to their capacity market, which pays power stations to guarantee their availability, in order to push the subsidy high enough to secure investment in new gas plants, it said. The current scheme overestimates how much wind power may be available, given there will be “zero” when the wind doesn’t blow, and procures insufficient reliable power plant capacity, the energy giant said.
Telegraph 18th Feb 2016 read more »
British firms can expect to see their energy bills fall by between 10-20pc this summer as turmoil in the oil market pays dividends for customers. The wholesale cost of gas on the UK market has plummeted by more than 40pc in the last year due to a global oversupply and depressed oil prices. The weaker gas price has also caused wholesale electricity prices to slump by more than 30pc, because a large amount of the UK’s power network is gas fired. Although companies are unlikely to see their bills fall at the same rate once government levies and transport costs are included, cost savings are still likely to top those seen by domestic customers. Typically, firms are able to negotiate contracts with energy suppliers, meaning that the business-to-business market is more competitive than household supply.
Telegraph 18th Feb 2016 read more »
Do we really need nuclear power to provide baseload power? Is 100% renewables possible? The UK Government and pro-nuclear advocates argue that we need nuclear power to provide baseload electricity. In reality the concept of baseload power is quickly becoming obsolete. It is perfectly feasible to design a reliable electricity system based on 100% renewable energy. In fact strong market forces which favour decentralised energy mean that utilities continuing to promote large centralised power stations are threatening their own existence and need to move to a new decentralised utility model as soon as practicable.
No2NuclearPower 19th Feb 2016 read more »
Tom Greatrex: While it remains the case that at times when wind power is less productive, then the integrated grid enables power to come from England and Wales to Scotland to manage demand, the low carbon baseload power derived from Scottish nuclear power stations is an integral part of the current mix that is helping reduce carbon emissions and make electricity supply more stable, predictable and secure. There will continue to be innovation and technological development, opportunities for industry to adapt, diversify and secure new work, and bright ideas that will make a contribution for the future – and much of that can, and will, I expect, come from Scotland. Nuclear expertise is a key part of that potential, and should be a part of that collaborative effort you rightly highlight as the best route for an energy future that maximises security of supply while minimising carbon emissions.
Scottish Energy News 18th Feb 2016 read more »
Tom Greatrex: Too often, it seems it is also too easy to indulge in endless and circular arguments about the merits of different technologies set up in opposition to each other, without acknowledging that the prize is in achieving the optimum mix between the best features of ways of generating, storing, distributing and saving power at a time when decarbonisation of heating, transport, industry and power will increase the overall levels of demand for electricity. Electrification of train lines and more people using electric cars is undoubtedly good for the environment, but increases demand for power as a consequence. Nuclear-generated electricity has an important part to play in providing the bedrock of low carbon, baseload power which complements other forms of generation in a balanced mix. If we are serious about security of supply while reducing emissions in power generation at a time when demand for power will increase from heat and transport, nuclear will need to be part of the energy landscape in the future as much as it has been for the past 40 years.
Scotsman 19th Feb 2016 read more »
As governments worldwide face up to the climate change commitments under the COP21 agreement and the need for large – and growing – baseload power, nuclear generation is again being hailed as a real answer to the world’s energy problems. However as with all energy solutions, set-up costs can be prohibitively high. Given the tight constraints on national balance sheets, governments and developers are creating new and often innovative funding methods for nuclear plants, writes Fiona Reilly.
World Nuclear News 18th Feb 2016 read more »
NUCLEAR waste from other power stations is now being stored in Berkeley despite residents being told that this would never happen. Members of the Magnox-run power station’s site stakeholder group (SSG) meeting on (WHEN) were told that waste from Sizewell A and Dungeness A power stations would be kept at Berkeley via Oldbury. The company said that a small amount of waste from the power stations in Suffolk and Kent after it revised its waste strategy to reduce costs. Storing the “intermediate level waste” (ILW) at Berkeley would save about £200 million.
Gloucestershire Gazette 18th Feb 2016 read more »
Mixed reactions to Torness life extension.
Southern Reporter 18th Feb 2016 read more »
A suspect linked to the Nov. 13 Paris attackers was found with surveillance footage of a high-ranking Belgian nuclear official, the Belgian authorities acknowledged on Thursday, raising fears that the Islamic State is trying to obtain radioactive material for a terrorist attack. The existence of the footage, which the police in Belgium seized on Nov. 30, was confirmed by Thierry Werts, a spokesman for Belgium’s federal prosecutor, after being reported in the Belgian daily newspaper La Dernière Heure.The news set off an immediate uproar among Belgian lawmakers, who charged that they and the country had been misled about the extent of the potential threats to the country’s nuclear facilities, as well as about the ambitions of the terrorist network linked to the Islamic State that used Belgium to plot the Paris attacks, which killed 130 people.
New York Times 19th Feb 2016 read more »
Radioactive material has been declared stolen from an oil depot in Iraq, sparking fears among officials it could be used as a weapon if seized by Islamic State. The “highly dangerous” Iridium-192, which was stored in a protective case the size of a laptop, went missing from a storage facility belonging to a US oilfield company in the southern city of Basra. A senior environment ministry official told Reuters up to 10g of Iridium-192 in capsules could not be traced. The substance itself is the property of Istanbul-based SGS Turkey.
IB Times 18th Feb 2016 read more »
Fife councillors are furious the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has failed once again to update them about Dalgety Bay beach radiation clean-up. Accusing the MoD of “dragging its heels”, local MP Roger Mullin will seek answers at a meeting next month. Mr Mullin aired his discontent at the lack of progress on tackling the problem, which first came to light more than 25 years ago. He said: “Indeed, my recent correspondence with the Ministry of Defence gives me no confidence that they are honouring earlier promises. “They have seriously slipped from commitments made two years ago. “That for more than 25 years this has been a known issue with no proper action speaks volumes regarding the extent to which the people of Dalgety Bay have been taken for granted.”
Dundee Courier 18th Feb 2016 read more »
Europe’s nuclear power industry wants to build another 100 reactors between now and 2050, but has said it is missing a stable regulatory framework to attract investment. The nuclear lobby is calling on the European Commission to set a clear regulatory framework to attract investment in newbuilds.
Interfax Energy 18th Feb 2016 read more »
Japan – Fukushima
A court in Japan has ordered the operator of the tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear plant to compensate a couple who fled radiation, even though they lived outside the evacuation zone. Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) will pay 30m yen ($265,000; £185,00) for financial losses and poor health. It is thought to be the first time Tepco has been found liable for people outside the mandatory evacuation area.
BBC 19th Feb 2016 read more »
US – radwaste
In the St. Louis area, a slow-burning underground fire is close to a vast store of nuclear waste buried in a federal Superfund site. The fire reportedly has been smouldering beneath a nearby landfill since at least 2010. The Washington Post reports that residents are afraid of what may happen if the fire — which is by some accounts as little as 1,500 feet away –reaches the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton, Mo., a Superfund site filled with decades-old waste from the federal government’s nuclear weapons program. Angry locals also think the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which manages the site, hasn’t done enough to stop the fire.
Discovery 18th Feb 2016 read more »
US – Indian Point
According to an Associated Press (AP) report from 2011, three quarters of all U.S. nuclear power plants have reported tritium leaks. News coverage, by the AP and ABC News about the newest reported leak from the aged Indian Point atomic plant located just north of New York City, has shown that tritium levels in groundwater are 740 times the amount allowed in drinking water. “There is a leak somewhere,” said Gundersen in response to this most recent leak of radioactive tritium, “and I don’t think they know where it is.”
Fairwinds 12th Feb 2016 read more »
US – renewables
A bipartisan group of governors from 17 states has pledged to accelerate their efforts to create a green economy in the US by boosting renewables, building better electricity grids and cutting emissions from transport. An accord signed by the governors states that the US must “embrace a bold vision of the nation’s energy future” by reducing emissions, transitioning to clean energy sources and ensuring that infrastructure isn’t risked by extreme weather events such as floods and wildfires. The agreement sets out commitments to expand renewable energy and energy efficiency and integrate solar and wind generation into electricity grids. These grids will be “modernized”, the accord states, to improve energy reliability. Companies that offer electric vehicles or vehicles that run on alternative fuels such as hydrogen or natural gas will be provided incentives and help with infrastructure in the 17 states. New standards and benchmarks for energy efficiency and renewables will also be set. The governors are from California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington. These states are home to around 40% of the US population. Advisers from the states, which include both Democratic and Republican governors, will meet to set out steps towards meeting these promises.
Guardian16th Feb 2016 read more »
It has already caused anxiety across Asia and raised fears of a new arms race, but scientists also say that North Korea’s nuclear programme could cause a volcanic eruption of Mount Paektu, the country’s highest mountain. The underground test site is 72 miles from the volcano and an explosion could increase pressure in the magma chamber beneath the 2,744m mountain, driving molten rock upwards.
Times 19th Feb 2016 read more »
Leading bidders in South Africa’s long-awaited nuclear programme, Areva of France and Rosatom of Russia, were in the dark about the cost of the project, their representatives said yesterday. Areva managing director Yves Guenon and Rosatom regional vice-president Viktor Polikarpov told an energy conference in Johannesburg that, like most people in the country, they did not know the cost of the programme. Previous estimates have put the cost of the project as high as R1 trillion, making it the largest single procurement programme.
IOL 17th Feb 2016 read more »
Moscow is committed to funding the expansion of the Paks nuclear plant, and the project will continue without interruption, Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed on February 17 after meeting Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Orban’s trip to Moscow on February 17 was surrounded by speculation that the controversial deal, in which Moscow will lend Budapest €10bn of the estimated €12bn project costs, could break down due to Russia’s economic problems. However, the Hungarian project, which has provoked concern in Brussels, appears to be seen by Moscow as a strategic and political priority.
Intelli News 18th Feb 2016 read more »
Just in the last few years, the Obama administration, once keen on nuclear disarmament, has instead reversed course with plans not only to maintain but to modernize the existing nuclear fleet. As the New York Times reported in 2014, the administration “is engaging in extensive atomic rebuilding while getting only modest arms reductions in return.” This was borne out in the release of the White House budget on February 9. According to analysts, Obama is going out with a bang, proposing to build new weapon systems for each leg of the nuclear triad: allocating roughly $3.2 billion to modernize and recapitalize nuclear submarines, bombers, Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, and nuclear-equipped cruise missiles, and putting nuclear weapon modernization on track for an estimated $1 trillion price tag over the next 30 years.
American Conservative 18th Feb 2016 read more »
Labour is to consider replacing Trident submarines with a cheaper, aircraft-based nuclear deterrent. The proposals, drafted originally for a Liberal Democrat think tank, will be considered by shadow defence secretary Emily Thornberry. The plan would see nuclear submarines ditched and replaced with a new system of air-dropped nuclear weapons, a type of deterrent last relied on by Britain in the 1950s and 1960s.
Daily Mail 18th Feb 2016 read more »
Countries all around the world are powering towards a low-carbon future by embracing solar, wind and geothermal energy. Read on to find out which countries are leading the charge.
Climate Council 16th Feb 2016 read more »
Renewables – solar
A London-exclusive feed-in tariff (FiT) subsidy scheme and a new solar taskforce are among the new approaches to renewable energy generation that should be taken by the next Mayor of London, a new report from Greenpeace has claimed. Greenpeace has urged all mayoral candidates to increase London’s solar output tenfold – reaching 750MW of installed solar capacity by 2025 – in an attempt to increase the current rate of just 0.5% of the 3.4 million homes in the capital that currently have solar photovoltaics installed on their roofs. Greenpeace UK energy campaigner Barbara Stoll said: “London is a world leader in innovation, yet it’s missing out on the energy revolution of the century.
Edie 18th Feb 2016 read more »
Southill Community Energy launches share offer for residents to invest in community solar farm in Oxfordshire, one of the last projects in the country to receive higher subsidy rates. Residents of Prime Minister David Cameron’s Parliamentary constituency of Whitney in Oxfordshire are being offered one of the last chances in the country to invest in a community solar project.
Business Green 18th Feb 2016 read more »
Renewables – tidal
Scotrenewables Tidal Power has completed deployment of its advanced modular anchoring system at the European Marine Energy Centre on Orkney in preparation for the launch of its SR2000 2-MW floating tidal turbine later this year.
Scottish Energy News 19th Feb 2016 read more »
Our social landlords at Wheatley – GHA, Cube, Dunedin Canmore, West Lothian Housing Partnership and Loretto Housing – are finding new ways to mitigate rising energy costs and help people make their money go further. We’ve been involved in a number of ground-breaking partnerships to help address these concerns. District heating and renewable energy schemes offer significant benefits for customers and housing providers. A partnership with Scottish Gas and SSE allowed Cube to overclad the multi-storeys and low-rise blocks to improve energy-efficiency. Another partnership saw Lowther Homes, which provides mid and full-market properties for rent, and GHA upgrade a multi-storey block in Ibrox, Glasgow. A Â£1 million grant from the Community Energy Savings Programme, in partnership with Scottish Power, enabled a combined heat and power engine to be built a stone’s throw from the flats. Of course, energy-efficient heating systems alone wo n’t end fuel poverty. Buildings need to be maintained and upgraded to ensure they remain warm and dry. The combination of district heating systems with external wall insulation, new windows and new or upgraded roofs means we can make our homes more energy efficient. Cube, in partnership with British Gas, is investing £10.6m in homes in Glasgow’s Broomhill, Gorget and Maryhill neighbourhoods. The biomass heating systems run on wood pellets rather than fossil fuels, making them more environmentally friendly. Elsewhere, Dunedin Canmore, working with the City of Edinburgh Council and its communities, delivered a £6 7million regeneration project to create sustainable housing in the Moredun Park and Hyvots areas of South Edinburgh. Energy-efficient initiatives included solar hot water, solar PV and communal heating. Nearly 300 homes were refurbished to a highly energy-efficient standard meaning low energy bills for residents. Dunedin Canmore has nearly 1,000 homes heated by communal heating schemes. Wheatley Group has joined other housing groups to launch Our Power – a non-profit energy company which aims to save disadvantaged communities around £11m on their energy deals over the next five years. At the same time, we offer a free in-house fuel advice service to tenants to help them get access to the cheapest energy tariffs and arrange low-cost repayments. We can’t do much about the weather but by being less reliant on the Big Six, embracing technology and continuing to invest in our homes we can make a significant difference to tenants’ lives.
Scotsman 19th Feb 2016 read more »
Fuel Poverty – Scotland
Cold and hard to heat homes are a major of source of ill-health in Scotland particularly for the elderly. The head of the Royal College of Nursing Theresa Fyffe recently said: “it’s indefensible that cold, hard-to-heat homes continue to leave the most vulnerable in our society at the mercy of cold weather each winter.” Shockingly, it is estimated that between 2,500 and 3,000 older people are dying from cold related illnesses every winter. It’s clear we must to do a far more to ensure that the homes for our elderly are properly insulated.
This is why this week I lodged a motion in Parliament supporting Age Scotland’s warm homes campaign. The charity is calling for a Warm Homes Act and investment to raise all housing to a high energy performance standard. In addition to the serious health risks, poorly insulated homes are also a major drain on household finances with one third of Scottish households living in fuel poverty. But it is worse for older people with nearly half of our single household pensioners suffering from fuel poverty.
Sarah Boyack MSP 18th Feb 2016 read more »