Wylfa nuclear power station on Anglesey will shutdown for good on 30 December, it has been announced. It will bring an end to 44 years of generating electricity on the island. The decision will see about 150 of its 500 remaining staff lose their jobs by April next year, before full decommissioning gets under way. Wylfa’s operator Magnox said the site would enter a 100-day “cool down” period, before the process of removing nuclear fuel begins.
BBC 2nd Dec 2015 read more »
BBC 2nd Dec 2015 read more »
October’s article about the closedown of Wylfa, Britain’s longest running Magnox reactor, brought to mind the first time I was lied to about nuclear power. I was on a sixth form visit to Calder Hall, the world’s first nuclear power station and the forerunner of the Magnox series. My innocent query was taken as a ruse to get the white-coated scientist, as he played around with a fuel rod, to admit that the real aim was the production of weapons-grade plutonium, not electricity. Wylfa has been running for more than 40 years, thanks to the discovery of ‘rusty bolts corrosion’ in the first set of Magnox reactors. The rusty bolts phenomena is just one variant of breakaway corrosion, where after a few thousand hours of exposure to hot corrosive gases, oxidation rates shoot upwards. In Magnox, it was the coolant, CO2 at high pressure, that was the cause. I first heard about it through the national press, and though treated flippantly, like many nuclear embarrassments, a big reduction in operating temperatures was the only solution. This was imposed at Wylfa right from the start, hence its longevity. The Advanced Gas Cooled Reactor, or AGR, was the follow-on to Magnox, and although higher alloyed materials were used, breakaway corrosion was an issue with these, too, as temperatures were higher.
Materials World 1st Dec 2015 read more »
The Hinkley Point C nuclear power station has failed to outrun its history of controversy with the announcement of Chinese backing. Khai Trung Le speaks with Professor Peter Storey and Peter Haslam on the future of the project. In late 2014, financial analyst Peter Atherton made the claim that Hinkley Point C was the most expensive object in Britain, and this claim has been propagated by opponents since. At £24.5bln, it is not only Britain’s priciest nuclear power station, but also the world’s. Now, after extensive delays, the project is scheduled to go ahead with Chinese support. State-owned China General Nuclear Power Corporation will provide a £6bln investment in Hinkley Point C – a third of construction costs – for a 33.5% equity stake in the plant. In spite of this overall support, Hinkley Point C has yet to reach the same degree of public endorsement. A survey commissioned by Greenpeace and conducted by Populus revealed that 34% of their 2,077 general public respondents opposed it, above the 29% in support. The same survey also revealed that Chancellor George Osborne’s endorsement of the project and courting of Chinese involvement adversely affected opinion among one in five respondents.
Materials World 1st Dec 2015 read more »
The World Nuclear Association (WNA) and pro-nuclear group Nuclear Matters urged world leaders at the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP21) to consider nuclear energy to transition to a low-carbon society. The WNA said by 2050, 1000 gigawatts (GW) of new nuclear capacity is required to combat climate change globally,
Kallanish Energy 2nd Dec 2015 read more »
The COP 21 negotiations in Paris should reach an agreement that encourages a transition to a low carbon society by making better use of nuclear energy alongside other mitigation options, according to the World Nuclear Association. Director General Agneta Rising said “To implement the goals of an ambitious COP 21 agreement governments need to develop policies that encourage investment in low carbon generation, especially nuclear energy. We need 1000 GWe of new nuclear capacity by 2050 to combat climate change. This will require effective regulation and markets that value low carbon emissions and reliable supplies.”
Energy Business Review 1st Dec 2015 read more »
ONR is pleased to see the arrival of a key piece of decommissioning kit which will contribute to accelerated hazard and risk reduction at Sellafield. A 50-tonne ‘transfer tunnel’ has been hoisted into place at the Magnox Swarf Storage Silo (MSSS) – an ageing facility which contains significant quantities of intermediate level radioactive waste. The tunnel is the main component of the first Silo Emptying Plant (SEP) – one of three 360-tonne machines which will extract the radioactive contents of the building as part of its decommissioning. The reduction of hazard and risk, quickly and safely, at Sellafield is a key national priority and ONR’s number one regulatory priority.
ONR 24th Nov 2015 read more »
Cumbria Trust notes two significant international developments in the drive to build Geological Disposal Facilities (GDFs) in Sweden and Finland. The Swedish regulators have approved a site for a GDF, and Finland has gone even further by issuing a construction licence for a GDF. The UK is a few decades behind Sweden and Finland in its search for a GDF site due to the irrational and unjustifiable desire the UK government has to site a GDF in Cumbria. We fear that despite all the talk of a national geological screening process, this is merely a distraction before Cumbria is targeted for a third time, as we noted in our consultation response. It is worth noting that both Sweden and Finland have chosen virtually flat sites with no hills or mountains to drive groundwater flow, in keeping with international guidelines. The topography is similar to coastal Norfolk in both cases. Perhaps that is why they are so far ahead in building a GDF, while the UK fixates on Cumbria, with its highly complex geology, and fast groundwater flow driven by the highest mountains in England. How many more failed search processes do we need before the UK wakes up?
Cumbria Trust 2nd Dec 2015 read more »
The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) has formally approved Radioactive Waste Management’s Swedish counterpart’s – SKB’s – choice of location for a geological disposal facility. The selection process, in which local communities volunteered to host the facility, is similar to that used in the UK. Forsmark was put forward by local leaders as one of the candidates for the underground disposal facility for spent nuclear fuel in 2002, enjoying 77% local support. SSM’s Ansi Gerhardsson said, “Our preliminary assessment is that the site selection process, based on its preconditions vis-à-vis volunteering municipalities, has culminated in the most suitable site for a repository of the type planned.”
NDA 1st Dec 2015 read more »
The regional assembly of the Arkhangelsk oblast along Russia’s northern coast has approved the start of preliminary work on establishing a near-surface repository for solid intermediate-level and solid long-living low-level radioactive waste in the region, Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom said in a statement. The decision will allow Russia’s nuclear waste management authority No Rao to start examining possible locations for the facility, which will hold contaminated equipment, clothing and medical equipment, the statement said, without giving details.
NucNet 1st Dec 2015 read more »
New Reactor Types
Westinghouse Electric Co.’s CEO Danny Roderick in January challenged his employees to come up with the next big thing in nuclear energy — the next generation reactor. It had been a very long time since such words were uttered at the Cranberry-based nuclear company. “His charter was to take a clean sheet approach and come up with the most economic [option],” said Cindy Pezze, chief technology officer. The central question was: “How can we get to a more economic future for nuclear?” No new nuclear reactor has been built in the U.S. on time and on budget, and the overruns haven’t been trivial. That track record, along with cheap and plentiful natural gas and a lack of environmental policy that incentivizes low carbon generation, has held back the nuclear renaissance predicted a decade ago. Even operating nuclear plants with capital costs far behind them are having trouble competing. A handful are headed for premature retirement.
Power Source 1st Dec 2015 read more »
French utility giant EDF has awarded two major contracts, the companies signing the deals announced. One contract, valued at “tens of millions of euros” was awarded to AREVA for the dismantling of vessel internals of the Superphenix reactor in Creys-Malville, France, near the French border with Switzerland. In the other deal, Schneider Electric, a British firm, was granted its bid to supply medium voltage PIX switchgear for the Hinkley Point C power station in England, which is expected to be a $37 billion project. The Schneider’s UK contract covers design, engineering and deployment of the equipment. EDF’s tender process allows for British companies to win 60 percent of the supply chain value in supplier contracts.
Nuclear Street 1st Dec 2015 read more »
Reacting to David Cameron’s speech at the Paris climate summit Dr Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “That husky must be turning in its grave. David Cameron shamelessly tells the world he is committed to tackling climate change and urges everyone else to get on with it when his own energy policy will deliver the opposite, with dreams of nuclear that won’t come true, baseless assumptions about fracking actually working and cuts all round for renewables. Since the election, the UK Government have made changes that guarantee we will not meet climate or green energy targets. This is a problem for Scotland with our target of 100% renewable electricity in just 5 years’ time. Our very successful industry will be set back years because of the Tories’ ideological objection to windfarms and solar.
FoE Scotland 30th Nov 2015 read more »
No longer burdened with ministerial baggage the Renewable Energy Association (REA) hosted two former energy minsters, Ed Davey and Greg Barker, last Thursday. It was fascinating to get an insight from the last five years of coalition government. It was the day after the Comprehensive Spending Review and a week after the long awaited reset speech. Master of ceremonies, Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Michael Liebreich, tried to capture the government’s energy strategy with a French phrase which may come in handy to Amber Rudd in Paris this week – “reculer pour mieux sauter”, which is to draw back in order to make a better jump. We have certainly seen the government being very good at the first part. The former colleagues agreed it was hard to see us achieving our carbon budgets by 2030 following decisions to scrap CCS funding and the new ‘gas plus gas’ strategy. That jump forward is not looking so assured with the UK now locked in to “fossil” technologies beyond 2030. From the REA viewpoint Amber Rudd’s recent reset speech created more questions than answers, and certainly no relief from the dozen negative policy interventions the renewables industry have endured since the election. We now have more uncertainty over CfD auctions, with it looking like the cheapest technologies in pot one are now excluded from the process, and pot two technologies having to hit as yet undefined government cost effectiveness measures. Following that speech it looks like that, by this time next year, the cheapest renewables such as solar and on-shore wind will be the only technologies not getting government support, with gas, diesel and nuclear all being directly subsidised. This is plainly absurd. The most fascinating aspect of listening to former politicians is hearing their regrets. Between Davey and Barker they shared frustrations about mistakes over the Green Deal energy efficiency scheme, as well as the capacity mechanism allowing carbon-intensive diesel generation to play a “leading” role. There were also annoyances over cross-government battles over Zero-Carbon Homes (now scrapped), banning coal by 2025 (scuppered by Osborne two years ago only to be rightly resurrected by Amber Rudd this month), and pressure from Treasury to sign the nuclear deal in at a higher cost (a worrying detail for consumers as we enter new discussions with the Chinese). The revelations make me wonder what Amber Rudd will be saying when she is recounting her regrets as Energy Secretary in years to come. Will it be decimating a solar industry so close to cost parity leaving us to play catch-up after the rest of the world benefits? Will it be massively increasing our dependency on foreign gas in uncertain geo-political times, ensuring we miss our own legally binding carbon-budgets to boot? Will it be binding consumers to expensive and unnecessary subsidies for established technologies such as gas and nuclear for decades to come?
Business Green 1st Dec 2015 read more »
As you read this, a terror attack has put atomic reactors in Ukraine at the brink of another Chernobyl-scale apocalypse. Transmission lines have been blown up. Power to at least two major nuclear power stations has been “dangerously” cut. Without emergency backup, those nukes could lose coolant to their radioactive cores and spent fuel pools. They could then melt or explode, as at Fukushima. Yet amidst endless “all-fear-all-the-time” reporting on ISIS, the corporate media has remained shockingly silent on this potential catastrophe. The world’s 430-plus licensed commercial nuclear plants give terrorists like ISIS the power at any time to inflict a radioactive Apocalypse that could kill millions, destroy huge parts of the Earth and devastate the global economy. Fallout from Chernobyl’s 1986 disaster has killed more than a million people. Cancer rates among children and others near Fukushima are soaring. Americans downwind from Three Mile Island died in droves. Major scientific studies in Germany and elsewhere link soaring cancer and other human death rates to nearby reactor emissions even without an accident.
Ecowatch 25th Nov 2015 read more »
The reshaping of the European energy market triggered by Germany’s green energy transition took another twist today, as RWE announced it was planning to pool its renewable energy, grids and retail business areas in a new subsidiary. In a move that largely mirrors the decision last year by its compatriot E.ON to split into clean energy and fossil fuel operations, RWE issued a statement announcing plans to create a new subsidiary and then offer 10 per cent of the company to the market through an IPO, currently scheduled for late 2016. The new company, which is likely to be headquartered in Essen, will bring together RWE’s renewables, grids and retail operations in Germany and across Europe, while the remaining organisation will stay focused on “conventional power generation and energy trading”. RWE said spinning out the new low carbon subsidiary would “create a platform for growth with its own access to the capital market”, while also providing the group as a whole with greater financial flexibility as it manages Germany’s nuclear phase out.
Business Green 1st Dec 2015 read more »
RWE will follow the lead of rival German energy supplier Eon in splitting its business to create a new listed company.
Utility Week 1st Dec 2015 read more »
Reuters 1st Dec 2015 read more »
The second phase of a large-scale project to remediate the former Gunnar uranium mine in Saskatchewan can go ahead after Canadian nuclear regulators decided to allow the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) to proceed with tailings remediation.
World Nuclear News 1st Dec 2015 read more »
French energy group Neoen on Tuesday inaugurated a 300 megawatt (MW) solar farm, Europe’s biggest, which will produce power at a price below that of new nuclear plants. Built on a 250-hectare site south of Bordeaux, the plant will provide power for 300,000 people and cost 360 million euros. It will sell power at 105 euros per megawatt-hour (MWh) for 20 years, well below the cost of power from new nuclear power reactors. “We will deliver power at an extremely competitive price, similar to wind power, and at any rate cheaper than the cost of power from new nuclear plants,” Neoen Chief Executive Xavier Barbaro told reporters on Tuesday. French state-controlled utility EDF plans to build two nuclear reactors in Hinkley Point, Britain, which will produce power at a government-guaranteed price of 92.5 pounds per MWH, or about 130 euros. EDF’s existing French nuclear reactors, mostly built in the 1970s and 1980s, produce power at a cost of around 55 euros per MWh.
Reuters 1st Dec 2015 read more »
Yes, a 100% Renewable Energy future is possible! This was the conclusion of the workshop “Decarbonisation – 100 % Renewable Energy and more” hosted by the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA) in Berlin on November 9th, 2015. It is technically feasible to have an energy supply system that relies solely on Renewable Energy (RE) and to reach carbon neutrality, as demonstrated by several studies conducted at national level in Germany and France, as well as at city-level focusing on the City of Rheine, Germany, developed by Solar Institute Jülich, and on Victoria-Gasteiz, Basque Country, Spain, developed by the City Council, and ICLEI member.
Carbon & Climate Commentary 24th Nov 2015 read more »
The goal of powering a company, city, state, or nation with 50% to 100% renewable electricity would have seemed preposterous (and nearly impossible) not long ago. As we outline in our most recent Clean Edge benchmarking report, Getting to 100, a growing number of companies and governments are reaching such targets, or aim¬ing to achieve such goals – and nobody is laughing. This dramatic shift is both technically and economically feasible, and will have perhaps the greatest impact on the global economy and environment as any other energy trend unfolding today. Outside the U.S., jurisdictions that are already 100% powered by renewable electricity include the nation of Iceland, several small islands, and the states of Carinthia in Austria and Schleswig-Holstein in Germany (the latter with a population of 2.8 million). According to the 2015 Global Status Report from research organization REN21, renewables now outpace coal and natural gas combined for new generation capacity additions around the world. Renewables represented 59% of net additions to global power capacity in 2014, with wind, solar PV, and hydropower dominating the market.
Renew Economy 2nd Dec 2015 read more »
As world leaders prepared to discuss a major climate change treaty in Paris, Germany had a couple of especially windy days, which drove the share of wind energy in the German grid above 50 percent and the spot price of electricity to zero, or so close to it as to make no difference. All that’s missing to make 100 percent renewable energy feasible is cheap and ample storage that would help to smooth supply. That requirement no longer looks impossible. Only a year ago, critics of Energiewende said it had failed, claiming that Chancellor Angela Merkel had derailed it by pledging to give up nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. Phasing out “clean” nuclear energy drove up the use of Germany’s primary source of traditional energy — the dirtiest one, coal — and for a few years, the country’s carbon emissions actually increased. The trend ended last year, however, as emissions dropped almost to the 2009 level, the lowest since 1990. Constantly increasing solar and wind installations — Germany now has about 45 percent of Europe’s total wind generation — were the main reason for that. Europe’s first commercial battery storage system went online in Germany a little over a year ago and more projects have since joined it. It’s a hot market. Earlier this month, the investment bank Lazard published its first analysis of the costs of various storage technologies, and it showed that for some of them, costs were rapidly declining. The bank said the energy storage industry was at an “inflection point” similar to the one renewable energy saw eight years ago. It’s clear now that the program has been a success and that as long as there is a well-defined goal and a determined effort to reach it, the necessary technology will present itself.
Bloomberg 30th Nov 2015 read more »
Keith Barnham: New research shows that wind and solar can meet 80% of Germany’s power demand, with biogas and hydropower providing the balance, writes Keith Barnham. And if Germany can do it, so can other countries, many of them even more easily – with no need for fossil fuels or nuclear power. COP21 should raise its ambitions and commit to a 100% renewable electricity future, everywhere. There are powerful lobbies that argue that the renewables are too unreliable; expanding too slowly; and too expensive to supply the world’s electricity needs. Without, that is, significant help from the technologies the lobbyists are paid to represent – be they fossil fuel or nuclear. Here is the evidence, some of it new and unexpected, that the lobbyists’ arguments at a variance with the realities. Two projects in Germany, under the collective name of Komikraftwerk (combined-power plant) have clearly demonstrated that the reliability objection is a myth. Solar PV and wind power are complementary. Together they can supply around 80% of the electrical power needs of Germany. The only backup required is 17% biogas electricity and 5% storage power. Together they provide a renewable electricity supply that is reliable 24/7, summer through winter. Recent evidence in a paper I wrote with the head of Kombikraftwerk and an Italian colleague in Nature Materials explodes the second myth. Wind and PV and wind power are expanding exponentially in many countries. The expansion is so fast in Germany that wind and PV could provide the foundation of an all-renewable electricity supply as early as 2020. Had the savage cuts to the subsidies for PV and wind power in the UK not been implemented, wind and PV could likewise be on target to provide the backbone of an all-renewable electricity system just two years later, in 2022. Bristol Council has received applications to build 48 diesel electricity generators. The council should turn this down on the basis of carbon emissions. While doing so they could point out that the ideal flexible electric power would come from a combined heat and power (CHP) generator sited near Bristol’s award winning anaerobic digestion (AD) plant. This would produce electricity from the plant’s bio-methane with a carbon footprint around 70 times lower than diesel. In return, waste heat from the electricity generation could speed up the AD.
Ecologist 30th Nov 2015 read more »
The cost of worldwide clean energy technology deployments could be reduced by up to $550bn over the next 10 years if countries adopted global collaboration as a means of accelerating innovation, a new report has found.
Edie 1st Dec 2015 read more »
Renewable energy company Ecotricity has raised £18.5 million from the third issue of its innovative ecobond concept, and will use the funds to build new green energy projects across the UK – it already operates a number of wind turbines in south west Scotland.
Scottish Energy News 2nd Dec 2015 read more »
Renewables – solar
An anonymous survey of solar sector workers has found that a further 576 jobs have been lost in the industry and 1,600 face the prospect of unemployment next year as a result of government plans to curb financial support for renewable energy. The survey, published yesterday by the Solar Trade Association (STA) in collaboration with RenewableUK, reveals 576 people have been made redundant from solar jobs since the general election in May, which marked the beginning of a period of severe policy turbulence for the UK’s renewable energy sector.
Business Green 1st Dec 2015 read more »
Kingfisher, the owner of B&Q and Screwfix, is to put solar panels on its distribution centres and some stores as part of a £50m investment to cut its reliance on the National Grid. The investment comes after Kingfisher installed solar panels at the Screwfix head office in Yeovil in the summer. They now generate a third of the site’s power. Richard Gillies, the group’s sustainability director, said he hoped Kingfisher’s commitment would demonstrate to world leaders meeting in Paris for climate change talks this week that businesses wanted to invest in sustainability.
Guardian 1st Dec 2015 read more »
Renewables – Floating Turbines
The evolution of floating wind turbines mirrors almost exactly that of offshore oil exploration and production structures. Norwegian oil company Statoil’s decision to build the first floating wind farm represents a carbon risk hedge in an area in which it can deploy its considerable offshore expertise. If costs can be reduced, floating wind farms would hugely expand the exploitable wind resource. Given the expectation that wind turbine size will continue rising to at least 10 MW, offshore wind has considerable cost reduction potential on top of the gains already made. Moreover, floating turbine technology would allow wind farms to be sited in water depths of between 50 and 226 meters, compared to the current limitation of grounded substructures of 40-50 meters. So – potentially at least – lower costs and more sites, suggesting wind energy has a lot more to give.
Platts 1st Dec 2015 read more »
With more and more analyst reports predicting the sort of battery storage market growth in Australia over the next 10 years that will see half of all households with solar and storage, we thought it was about time to do a stocktake of what is available (or soon to be available) on the Australian market. As we are bound to have missed some battery storage systems, readers are encouraged to contribute any information that is missing – particularly drawing from their own experience of home solar and storage systems.
One Step Off the Grid 2nd Dec 2015 read more »
One of Britain’s dozen remaining coal-fired power plants is to be converted to burn wood pellets shipped in from North America, after the European Commission approved a £1bn subsidy contract for the project. RWE’s Lynemouth power station in Northumberland is due to close by the end of this year under environmental rules, but will now be resurrected as a biomass plant following EU state aid approval for the consumer-funded subsidies. The 420 megawatt plant, which produces enough electricity to power 450,000 homes, could be up and running again within 18 months, subject to a final investment decision early next year, RWE said.
Telegraph 1st Dec 2015 read more »
Tony Juniper: The theme at COP21 today has been the urgent need to cut fossil fuel subsidies that favour dirty energy over renewables, writes Tony Juniper. Sadly the UK is setting all the wrong examples – ramping up its spending on fossil fuels, while slashing its much smaller renewable energy budgets. While there is much talk in Paris about ‘putting a price on carbon’, many here believe that undoing the opposite signals that cut the price of carbon is the obvious place to begin.
Ecologist 30th Nov 2015 read more »
More than 2,400 coal-fired power stations are under construction or being planned around the world, a study has revealed two weeks after Britain pledged to stop burning coal. The new plants will emit 6.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year and undermine the efforts at the Paris climate conference to limit global warming to 2C. China is building 368 plants and planning a further 803, according to the study by four climate change research bodies, including Ecofys and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. India is building 297 and planning 149.
Times 2nd Dec 2015 read more »
Mary Church FoE Scotland – Listening to Obama say his piece, you could be forgiven for mistaking the fact that the USA is the number one blocker of progress in the UNFCCC process here in Paris just as it was in Copenhagen. Again, like in Copenhagen, the USA and other countries that owe a big carbon debt to the developing world have decided where to point the finger of blame if things don’t go their way in Paris. In Copenhagen it was China; ahead of Paris, India was already being painted as the key troublemaker for the strong position it held on climate change at the recent G20 meeting.
The National 1st Dec 2015 read more »