European Union state aid regulators are set to approve Britain’s 19-billion-euro (£15 billion) plan to build a nuclear plant with French utility EDF, several people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday. The case is important for Britain, which wants to replace a fifth of its ageing nuclear power and coal plants over the coming decade, and for France, whose nuclear sector would benefit from the major export contract. Other EU countries such as Germany, which is phasing out nuclear energy, and pro-nuclear Lithuania and Poland are also following the case for guidance on the level of state aid allowed for such projects. An industry source said EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia would make a recommendation to his colleagues soon.”This will be rather positive for the Hinkley Point consortium, but this recommendation will come with a number of conditions,” the source said, adding that it would be up to the British government and the EDF-led consortium to decide whether these conditions were acceptable. The sources said British authorities were rushing to finalise details of power-price guarantees and state-backed loans for European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia before he leaves office at the end of October. British Energy Secretary Edward Davey met Almunia earlier on Wednesday to discuss the case. Sources said London had sent a team of officials to Brussels to work on the case after being told to submit final data to the Commission by the end of next week.”If they don’t (submit the information), the case won’t be resolved under the current Commission. Then it won’t be looked at until January,” the person said. Green politicians and environmental campaigners have said the British financing plan for Hinkley Point cannot be justified either in terms of EU law or value to consumers because of the huge financial cost of nuclear power.”The proposed deal pays no attention to either European law or the interests of the consumer,” said Andrea Carta, EU legal adviser to campaign group Greenpeace. “Furthermore, the government has failed to run a transparent tender procedure, which should lead the Commission to reject the plan.”
Reuters 17th Sept 2014 read more »
EU state aid regulators are set to hand the UK’s new nuclear programme a major boost by approving the deal to build a £16bn reactor at Hinkley, according to reports today. News agency Reuters has quoted sources familiar with the matter as saying approval will be forthcoming in the next couple of weeks. If confirmed, the news will come as a major relief to the UK government which had been sweating on a decision since the EU competition watchdog opened an investigation into the project and the coalition’s planned subsidy agreement with developer EDF in December last year.
Business Green 18th Sept 2014 read more »
Plans to build Britain’s first new nuclear plant in a generation at Hinkley Point in Somerset are likely to gain EU state aid approval within weeks, according to reports. The European Commission has been examining the proposed £16bn project since December amid concerns the UK has offered developer EDF Energy excessively generous subsidies. UK energy consumers could pay the French company and its partners as much as £17.6bn in subsidies over a 30-year period, under the terms of the Government’s deal, the EC said in January. It warned this could be unnecessary and may constitute illegal state aid. However, Reuters also reported sources saying that while the recommendation would be positive, it would come with “a number of conditions”, and that regulators were still awaiting further information from the UK before taking their decision. Headline subsidy terms were agreed to much fanfare last October but EDF and the Treasury remained in negotiations over the summer over the details of a £10bn loan guarantee.
Telegraph 18th Sept 2014 read more »
TRANSPORT links in and around Bridgwater are set to improve, thanks to a massive £3million cash injection announced this week. News of the improvements has not been greeted as enthusiastically by everyone in the area, however with The Stop Hinkley Campaign group feeling that the bill for any improvements to the infrastructure to benefit the development should be met solely by EDF and not the taxpayer. Roy Pumphrey of the campaign group said: “Surely EDF Energy has already had enough subsidies from hard-pressed taxpayers and consumers. “If the European Commission gives the goahead to the deal between the UK Government and EDF, it could be worth up to £17billion. “The Government and local authorities should be forcing EDF to make any improvements necessary at their own expense.”
Bridgwater Mercury 17th September 2014 read more »
Members of the local campaign group Stop Hinkley will stage a nuclear waste demonstration on 27th September 9.30am till midday at Bridgwater Railway station, in solidarity with a country-wide protest at the movement of radioactive waste along the railway network.
Stop Hinkley 18th Sept 2014 read more »
Hitachi, Ltd. today announced that it will open a new R&D base in the UK – the European Nuclear Research Centre (ENRC) – on September 30th 2014. The Centre will not only coordinate Hitachi’s nuclear research activities in Europe formed by a core team, but also provide additional resources to facilitate the development of safe and efficient nuclear power technologies based on advanced plant maintenance technology and proven decommissioning techniques in Europe. Since April 2014, Hitachi has been collaborating with The University of Manchester on technology to reduce the level of radiation exposure in annual inspection. Further, Hitachi has been working to actively develop the infrastructure of nuclear power generation in Europe. In August this year, the GDA (Generic Design Assessment) of the UK ABWR (Advanced Boiling Water Reactor) moved to step 3 for Hitachi’s new UK Nuclear Power Plant Project, operated by Horizon Nuclear Power Ltd., which Hitachi acquired in November 2012., In addition, at the end of July 2014, Hitachi came to an agreement with the Lithuanian Ministry of Energy to discuss establishment of the Project Company to proceed with the Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant Project in Lithuania.
JCN 18th Sept 2014 read more »
In a recent news article about the evacuation zone around Sizewell nuclear power plant Jeremy Western, director of special projects and nuclear new build for EDF, said that the zone was so small because the likelihood of an accident was “exceedingly unlikely”. This is rather like saying that an ocean liner does not need a full compliment of lifeboats because the chances of it sinking are “exceedingly unlikely”. The accident at Fukushima has shown that the aim of emergency planning should be to be prepared for events that are not ”reasonably foreseeable”. What should be learnt from Fukushima is that we have ‘consideration of an extreme accident’ which could be caused by events that are beyond the design of the power plant. It is clear from Chernobyl and Fukushima that such events, even if they are “exceedingly unlikely” would require an evacuation zone of at least 20Km. The nuclear industry constantly tell us that we should trust them and that they know what they are doing. How are we meant to do this if they have not learnt the lessons, not just from Fukushima but from the Titanic.
Peter Lux 16th Sept 2014 read more »
Since transuranic elements can still be used to produce power and their long half-lives creates more problems for long term disposal it is theoretically possible to ‘burn’ them to dispose of them and possibly create more power from the spent fuel. Several technologies have been proposed for this including fast reactors, PRISM and DUPIC. When the transuranics are ‘burnt’ in the reactor they end up as fission products which tend to be much more radioactive but have shorter half-lives than the transuranics. This is a good thing since we do not know what to do with long lifetime waste (tens of thousands of years). However, it is not so good because you end up with much more radioactivity and we do not know what to do with the highly radioactive medium lifetime waste (hundreds of years). Even if all the transuranics were to be removed there are also several long lived fission products which would make the waste dangerous for tens of thousands of years. Even ‘natural uranium’ is not safe. Any technology that reuses spent fuel will take a lot of money and time to develop. It decreases but does not eliminate the problem of disposing of long lived waste but also drastically increases the amount of highly radioactive medium lived waste (hundreds of years). Nuclear power is already finding it difficult to compete with renewables. It is time to admit that enormous resources put into the development of nuclear fission has been a waste of money and we should stop throwing good money after bad.
Peter Lux 6th Aug 2014 read more »
Developing nations are leading a revival of interest in nuclear power, say atomic plant builders, but orders remain elusive as more safety features post-Fukushima have inflated investment costs. Three-and-a-half years after Japan’s reactor accident shook confidence, around 25 countries are thinking of turning nuclear to sustain strong growth and provide cleaner and reliable power. “It’s not so much growth in the developed countries but we’re seeing a lot of other countries that are wanting to develop nuclear. We’re finding money in places we didn’t even know existed,” Danny Roderick, chief executive of Toshiba-owned nuclear reactor maker Westinghouse, told Reuters at a nuclear industry conference last week in London. Rival reactor designer GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, a joint venture between the U.S. and Japanese companies, said it has held meetings with officials from India, Mexico and Vietnam, among others. Countries as diverse as Bangladesh, Turkey or Jordan, are also considering building nuclear plants and around 160 reactors are expected to come online over the next decade, according to the World Nuclear Association. On paper, that should provide plenty of work, but the industry continues to lick its wounds in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake in Japan in March 2011, which caused triple meltdowns and hydrogen explosions at Tepco’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
World Nuclear Industry Status 18th Sept 2014 read more »
Reuters 18th Sept 2014 read more »
The 1,000-MW Almaraz I nuclear power facility in Spain automatically went offline following a pressure drop, which triggered the protection system. Reuters cited Nuclear Security Council as saying that the plant officials have been able to identify the cause of the pressure drop. The plant, which is jointly owned by Iberdrola, Endesa and Gas Natural, currently remains secure though offline. The production halt, however, does not have any implications on the safety of the employees or the general public and has been categorised in the International Nuclear Event Scale as Level 0 event. The nuclear power plant comprises two PWRs of 1049 and 1044 MWe.
Energy Business Review 18th Sept 2014 read more »
Japan currently stores spent nuclear fuel primarily at 18 nuclear power plants around the country. Most of the 17,000 tons of radioactive material is kept in spent nuclear fuel pools. Storage of spent nuclear fuel in pools is highly vulnerable to incidents such as natural disasters and terrorist attacks. If such an incident were to occur, the spent fuel rods in pools could cause immense damage by releasing huge amounts of radiation. This problem was brought to the fore by the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in 2011. But the debate on storage and disposal of spent nuclear fuel is getting nowhere fast. A nuclear power subcommittee of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy held a meeting Sept. 16 to discuss a range of topics, including spent nuclear fuel. But nothing notable came out of the discussions. Why? The principal factor is the government’s refusal to change its policy of continuing the nuclear fuel recycling program. The program is designed to reuse all spent nuclear fuel in fast-breeder reactors or in existing reactors. If the system for recycling nuclear fuel is actually realized, the problem of having to store spent fuel in the pools would be solved. But it is already clear that neither the Monju project to develop practical fast-breeder reactors nor the “pluthermal” project to use nuclear fuel made from reprocessed plutonium and uranium in existing reactors is viable, technologically or economically.
Asahi Shimbun 19th Sept 2014 read more »
China became the latest nation to line up for a stake in India’s civil nuclear energy drive on Thursday, agreeing to open talks on cooperation in a sector that New Delhi sees as the solution to its chronic power problems.A deal for India to buy nuclear reactors from Beijing could be years away, but Chinese President Xi Jinping’s agreement to explore options means his country may now be competing with the United States, France, Russia and several others.
Reuters 18th Sept 2014 read more »
North Yorkshire cable cleat manufacturer Ellis has won a repeat order to supply items for a nuclear power plant in China. The Malton-based company will supply Emperor cable cleats and ProTect cable straps, which will be installed in an Areva European Pressurised Reactor that is being built in the Guandong province. The order was placed at the beginning of the second phase of the Taishan Nuclear Power Project — a joint venture between EDF and China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group.
Machinery Market 19th Sept 2014 read more »
Finland’s ruling coalition looks closer to breaking up after the head of the Green League said he would ask his party to leave the government over a controversial Russian-backed nuclear-power project. An exit by the Green League won’t trigger an immediate government collapse or snap elections, but will make it tougher for the four remaining coalition partners to pass confidence votes and have draft laws approved in Parliament. The Green League will make its formal decision this weekend.
Wall St Journal 18th Sept 2014 read more »
Fennovoima, a Russian group, has secured a conditional approval to construct Rosatom nuclear reactor in Northern Finland. This prompted Finland’s Green Party to quit the cabinet. The party had earlier threatened that it would quit the cabinet if the company was given the approval for the project. However, the approval for the 1,200MW plant is yet to be passed by the country’s Parliament.
Energy Business Review 18th Sept 2014 read more »
Reuters 18th Sept 2014 read more »
Solar photovoltaic installations in Italy provided nearly 10% of the country’s electricity demand from January to August. The highest monthly solar PV output was recorded in August at 2,834 kilowatt hours — the highest amount of energy generated from PV plants in Italy ever.
Renew Economy 18th Sept 2014 read more »
On the 29th June 2014 The BNTVA launched a ‘Snapshot survey’ to capture, in layman’s terms, the general health status across British Nuclear Test Veteran’s (NTV)family trees. The concept is to produce an overview of the levels of health problems present in each generation of NTV family groups. This information could then be used to illustrate major differences in the health and wellbeing NTV families experience contrasted to that of the general population.
BNTVA 18th Sept 2014 read more »
The US renewables market received a major boost this week as new research emerged demonstrating how large wind and solar farms can compete with gas-fired power on price in many parts of the country without relying on subsidy.
Business Green 18th Sept 2014 read more »
Renewables – offshore wind
The global offshore wind energy market is expected to increase more than fivefold by 2020, according to a new report by research consultant GlobalData. That equates to a projected global output of 39.9 Gigawatts – an annual growth rate of 28% over the next six years. The uptick will be driven mainly by the UK, Germany and China who have a number of offshore wind projects in the pipeline.
Edie 18th Sept 2014 read more »
UN general secretary Ban Ki-moon has summoned world leaders to a climate summit next week. Cue the international negotiations machine creaking into gear. At the meeting, countries will be invited to clarify their visions for a new global climate deal, due to be agreed in 2015. To get the ball rolling, some big hitters are already announcing what they see as being the key elements of a new deal. Last week, the UK released a document outlining its approach. Today, it’s the US’s turn. In a submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which oversees the formal negotiations but isn’t involved in the meeting next week, the US clarifies how it thinks a new agreement should work. Here’s the key bits.
Carbon Brief 18th Sept 2014 read more »
This weekend marks a crucial turning point for climate change campaigning across the world. The People’s Climate March (expected to attract hundreds of thousands in New York, and smaller crowds in London and elsewhere) is the beginning of a journey that will end in Paris, December 2015, when UN negotiators have a chance to improve on the dismal outcomes of the now infamous Copenhagen talks five years ago. Over the next 15 months, campaigners face the formidable task of re-animating the shapeless spectre of climate change, coaxing it out of hiding and back into the public eye. There is another chance to build public support for a legally binding agreement between all of the world’s nations, to keep most of our remaining fossil fuels in the ground. But we have to learn from our mistakes, and ask what could be done differently this time. Here are three important ideas for re-inspiring public support – in the hope that the road to Paris has a happier ending than the long bus journey to Copenhagen:
Guardian 18th Sept 2014 read more »