European countries are retreating from a Swiss-led proposal to strengthen international nuclear safety rules in the face of opposition from the U.S. and Russia. Less than two weeks before the Convention on Nuclear Safety convenes in Vienna to decide whether to amend international regulations, European countries are scrambling to draft a compromise agreement that can win U.S. and Russian support without forcing costly reactor upgrades, according to three European diplomats familiar with the negotiations who asked not to be named because talks are private. The shift was reported by Reuters on Jan. 30. “The European Union simply blinked,” Henry Sokolski, executive director of the Arlington, Virginia-based Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, said in an interview. By folding, the EU may weaken its position in future negotiations, he added. The Swiss-led European initiative was intended to make regulators show how they mitigate against radioactive contamination from nuclear accidents like the March 2011 Fukushima Dai-Ichi meltdowns that caused 160,000 people to flee. The plan ran into U.S. opposition from the start as American diplomats argued that amending the treaty would be a long and cumbersome process and could be internationally divisive.
Bloomberg 2nd Feb 2015 read more »
BANGOR University and Horizon Nuclear Power, developers of Wylfa Newydd, have signed an agreement to work together closely in future years. The organisations last week signed an official memorandum of understanding after a series of meetings between both parties. The agreement will see Horizon provide placements and graduate schemes for students, link both parties together in research facilities and projects, and co-promote science, technology, engineering and maths educational activities.
News North Wales 1st Feb 2015 read more »
A goat herder who has a college degree in weed sciences told federal wildlife officials that she could eliminate the need for a possible 700-acre controlled burn at the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge by turning her goats loose there and eliminate concerns over spreading radioactive plutonium. Lani Malmberg said it’s unwise to burn land that has been exposed to the toxic metal, and she said her goats won’t suffer any ill consequences. The refuge was created in 2006 in the wake of the nuclear weapons site’s closure, and a $7 billion cleanup was finished in 2005. Concerns that a controlled burn there could put plutonium into the air prompted Boulder’s Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center and surrounding communities to take a stance against that happening.
abc news 1st Feb 2015 read more »
The creation of an energy union is supposed to be a flagship policy of the European Commission of 2014-19. Jean-Claude Juncker billed it as such at the outset of his presidency of the Commission, though quite what might constitute an energy union – how deep, how wide, how intense – is still a matter of much debate.
European Voice 2nd Feb 2015 read more »
There is some promise for nuclear: Projects in Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee may yield the first new nuclear plants in decades. The industry and its advocates are touting new, safer reactor designs. In addition, thanks to a federal appeals court decision, utilities no longer have to add to the $30 billion burden of paying for the abandoned Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository. And the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is pressing hard for its rules to reduce carbon emissions, which would squeeze competing coal-fired plants. But on the flip side, Wisconsin, California, Florida and Vermont are shuttering aging nuclear plants, and some planned new ones have been shelved in Maryland, New York, Texas and Florida. Closing and decommissioning isn’t cheap — usually a billion dollars or more. As many as seven reactors in Illinois, Ohio and New York could close this year if not rescued by ratepayers.
Renew Economy 2nd Feb 2015 read more »
THE SNP’s hopes of a post-election deal with Labour have suffered a blow after Douglas Alexander warned his party would not negotiate over Britain’s nuclear deterrent. The shadow foreign secretary refused to rule out a power-sharing agreement with the Nationalists but Nicola Sturgeon’s aim of winning major concessions from a minority Labour administration appeared to recede after he said his party would not “trade away” the defence of the UK. His comments came as a new analysis suggested the SNP was on course to win 45 of Scotland’s 59 MPs.
Herald 2nd Feb 2015 read more »
Renewables – tidal
The first of the new Atlantis 1.5 megawatt flagship AR1500 tidal turbine systems is on track to be delivered to the MeyGen project in the Pentland Firth in Q1 2016. With the design nearing completion Atlantis is now in final negotiations with various suppliers to provide the major elements of the turbine. Much of the turbine will be procured in Scotland and the turbine is also due to be assembled at a location in Scotland.
Scottish Energy News 2nd Feb 2015 read more »
Renewables – geothermal
A scheme to heat the Eden Project’s vast greenhouses by tapping hot rocks under Cornwall is being threatened by proposals to restrict fracking. A geothermal plant had been planned at the environmental visitor attraction to extract naturally occurring heat to replace the gas it uses to heat its famous “biomes”, which are giant domes containing tropical and Mediterranean flora. The £35 million plant, which would involve twin boreholes drilled into granite three miles below the earth’s surface, is intended as a demonstration project for technology which could supply much of Britain with zero-emission heat and power. However, the team behind it says that a complete ban on fracking in protected areas, which Labour forced the government to accept last week, could destroy efforts to deliver one of the least obtrusive and most sustainable sources of green energy.
Times 2nd Feb 2015 read more »
The Scottish Government is to hold private meetings with environmental groups and with industry representatives ahead of the public consultation promised by Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing when he announced his fracking moratorium last week. Ewing and fellow Scottish Government Ministers are to now offer to meet with key stakeholders with an interest in this area in advance of a full public consultation. Environmental organisations, including Friends of the Earth Scotland and WWF Scotland, both welcomed the announcement. Industry bodies including Ineos and the UK Onshore Operators Group also welcomed the opportunity to engage in the consultation.
Scottish Energy News 2nd Feb 2015 read more »
Scottish ministers left a fracking expert feeling “violated” and “degraded” after they deliberately ignored their own independent report into the issue. In an acutely embarrassing intervention for Scottish ministers, Professor Paul Younger also criticised the Scottish government’s mortorium on fracking, announced last week, as “feigned”. He added that the government had deliberately ignored its own report for political reasons. The professor of energy engineering at Glasgow University was one of several senior academics who were commissioned by the Scottish government to look into the controversial issue. Their independent scientific report, published last summer, made it clear that safeguards had to be in place if fracturing was to be allowed to go ahead. But it did not come up with any significant public health or environmental concerns that the experts believe d should stop fracking taking place. Speaking on BBC Scotland’s Sunday Politics programme, Professor Younger said: “At the time it was released, the Scottish government welcomed the report and said it was very thorough, very well done, this was the sort of evidence base they were looking for. “Now, all of a sudden, out of the blue, we start hearing about gaps and further things they need to look into on environment and health. I tell you what, it’s all made up, it’s pretendy.” He added: “This is completed feigned. It’s completely false and I just feel violated as a professional. Having worked on that committee to suddenly be treated like a political football like this – it’s very, very degrading.”
Times 2nd Feb 2015 read more »
Telegraph 1st Feb 2015 read more »
SCOTTISH energy minister Fergus Ewing’s decision to place a moratorium on the granting of new licences permitting shale oil and gas exploration is, from one perspective, an opportunity for all interested parties to voice their support or raise concerns on the future of fracking in Scotland. At first glance this announcement had the potential to cause serious consternation from those who believe fracking will be an important part of the energy mix which keeps the lights on in the UK – an approach which looks to responsibly maximise output from traditional oil and gas, renewables, nuclear and coal bed methane extraction. However, in the cold light of day, the results of the frenetic manoeuvring which took place at Westminster and then Holyrood on the respective fracking votes, are not all bad. A moratorium in lieu of a public consultation could be the catalyst for setting out what is acceptable to individuals, communities, industry and investors, and which will allow our fledgling fracking industry to progress. Scotland has benefited from 40-plus years of experience gathered in the unforgiving North Sea environment which can be put to best use in establishing a fracking regime which is safe, as environmentally friendly as possible, provides a healthy tax stream for the revenue to the benefit of all the UK, and gives us security over our energy supply at a time when global conflict, regional disputes and fluctuating energy prices have become more common than is acceptable.
Scotsman 2nd Feb 2015 read more »