Hunterston B and Hinkley B
The Office for Nuclear Regulation has today published its assessment of the Periodic Safety Review (PSR) for two of Britain’s nuclear power stations, alongside an update of EDF Energy Nuclear Generation Ltd’s (EDF) revised graphite core safety case. Following a high level of interest in graphite core aging in AGR reactors ONR, the nuclear safety and security regulator, has taken the step to announce its conclusions As part of its robust and extensive inspection and assessment regime, ONR confirms that EDF has carried out an adequate Periodic Safety Review for the Hunterston B power station in Ayrshire and Hinkley Point B power station in Somerset. ONR has also accepted EDF’s revised graphite core safety case for both sites, but has included a number of recommendations as part of this acceptance. These significant assessments were directly relevant to our decisions in relation to the PSR. The revised safety case provides new limits and conditions of operation in response to keyway root cracking of the graphite in the core, which is an expected part of the aging process as reactors get closer to their end of life. Acceptance of the safety case is also reliant on a revised inspection and monitoring strategy. Dr Richard Savage, Chief Nuclear Inspector said: “From our extensive review of the safety case processes and procedures, we confirm that EDF has justified future operations for the period through to end of generation (currently 2023) and defueling activities to 2027. “However, ONR’s confirmation is subject to their operations being supported by a detailed understanding of the condition of the core at each reactor must undertake regular inspections and assessment of the graphite cores to demonstrate that it remains within the limits and conditions defined in the safety case.
ONR 24th Feb 2017 read more »
The UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has published its assessment of the Periodic Safety Review (PSR) for Hunterston B in Ayrshire and Hinkley Point B in Somerset, alongside an update of EDF Energy Nuclear Generation’s (NGL) revised graphite core safety case. Hunterston B and Hinkley Point B are Advanced Gas-cooled Reactors (AGRs) that both started up in 1976 and are scheduled to close in 2023. In a statement on 24 February, ONR confirmed that EDF had carried out an adequate PSR for the two plants – HNB and HPB – and said it had accepted EDF’s revised graphite core safety case for both sites, but had included recommendations as part of this acceptance. The ONR said in its report the fundamental nuclear safety requirements of the graphite core are affected by the two principal ageing and degradation mechanisms affecting the HPB/HNB graphite bricks; graphite weight loss and irradiation induced dimensional change. The stresses within the graphite bricks later in life can result in cracks originating from the key-ways on the periphery of the bricks, known as key-way root cracking (KWRC). This is of nuclear safety concern because it potentially affects the functioning of the keying system of the core, which holds the bricks in alignment, the regular said. Along with the graphite weight loss, the progression of KWRC will probably determine the lifetime of the reactors, it added. A significant nuclear safety concern for operation beyond the onset of KWRC was the ability to safely shutdown the core during a seismic event. ONR said that, in addressing the concern, NGL identified and implemented a series of “reasonably practicable modifications” to the plant, such as establishing diverse shutdown capability of the core, in order to support plant life extension. Inspection will “play a crucial role in supporting the period of safe operation of the reactor in late life,” the regulator said, adding that certain improvements are necessary, such as the development of a capability to measure the condition of control rod channels. NGL should develop improved inspection and monitoring technology; in particular equipment capable of performing visual inspection and dimensional measurements of control rod channels, it said.
World Nuclear News 1st March 2017 read more »
The UK must make greater efforts in developing the next generation of nuclear reactors if it is to succeed in a market which is to become increasingly competitive Earlier this week, I attended a conference on small modular nuclear reactor technology as research for a feature I am writing for our upcoming issue. Small modular reactors (SMRs) are one of the hot topics in the nuclear sector at the moment, and the UK is active in developing several of them; readers will be able to learn more in the upcoming feature. The first generation of SMRs to be deployed are very likely to be ones which use established technology; in other words, they are scaled down PWR-type modules. A side effect of this is that the UK will never own the full IP. So in order to be sure of gaining the valuable advantage of being a prime mover in the field, we have to look to the next generation of reactors. These are known as Generation IV, and differ from PWRs in many important respects. Most Generation IV technologies operate at high temperatures, using different construction materials and coolants from the current generation of reactors. The UK has experience in developing high-temperature reactors, and although this development did take place some decades ago, with those involved now around retirement age, that experience is still valuable and viable. There are several projects looking at developing this type of reactor in academia and industry in Britain. However, it is not alone in this, and research is also underway in the US, Canada, Russia, and China, among others. And they are all equally determined to access the potential benefits of these technologies A recent report from the UK Nuclear Innovation and Research Advisory Board (NIRAB) identified Generation IV reactors is an important area for research, but there is a danger that because they are unlikely to be the first commercial SMRs they will be neglected in favour of those designs that can be sold and start recouping their development costs more quickly. This would be a mistake. One way to avoid it, and this is also a NIRAB recommendation, would be for the UK to become an active member of the Generation IV Foundation (GIF), a transnational body that supports collaboration in developing these reactors.
The Engineer 1st March 2017 read more »
Toshiba Corp has asked a Japanese law firm to help estimate the potential financial impact if it decides its U.S. nuclear unit Westinghouse should file for Chapter 11 protection from creditors, sources with knowledge of the matter said. Toshiba is looking at a potential Chapter 11 filing as one of several options for Westinghouse as a means to limit future losses from the Pittsburgh-based company, the two sources said. The sources declined to be identified as they were not authorised to speak to the media. Last week, responding to media reports on a potential Chapter 11 filing, Toshiba said it was not aware Westinghouse was considering the step.
Reuters 1st March 2017 read more »
Struggling French nuclear reactor maker Areva on Wednesday reported a 665m euro net loss for 2016, which was an improvement on the previous year but still highlighted the scale of the problems facing the group. The state-controlled company is undergoing a far reaching restructuring in a government-backed deal after losses brought it to the brink of collapse. The company recorded a net loss of 2bn for 2015 and 4.8bn for 2014. The shake-up at Areva is part of a wider upheaval in the global nuclear industry as European, US and Japanese reactor makers struggle with weak order books, strained finances and rising competition from Russian, Chinese and South Korean companies. Areva’s reduced loss for 2016 reflected an improved performance by its reactor business. It swung from an operating loss of 100m in 2015 to a 440m profit last year, partly due to cost-cutting. However, with Areva struggling with construction of a flagship power plant in Finland, it was agreed last year that the reactor business would be taken over by EDF, the French utility, in a deal that values that part of the group at about 2.5bn. This transaction is meant to be completed in the fourth quarter of this year. The rump of Areva will focus on uranium mining and nuclear fuels, and the group is due in June to undertake a 5bn capital increase.
FT 1st March 2017 read more »
DOSSIER – The former flagship of nuclear, now in difficulty, must launch a recapitalization of 5 billion euros. But several clouds threaten the future of the company. Areva takes one step at a time to avoid bankruptcy. The nuclear group has been in deep crisis for more than two years, due to the post-Fukushima slowdown and overcapacity investments, but mainly to the acquisition of the UraMin mining company and the delays accumulated for the EPR under construction. Olkiluoto, Finland. Five-point radiograph of the situation of the ex-flagship of the French nuclear, which has just experienced its sixth consecutive year in loss (665 million euros in 2016).
Les Echos 1st March 2017 read more »
Dozens of proposed gas and diesel-fired generators could be scrapped after Ofgem confirmed that it would almost wipe out the payments they receive for producing electricity at peak times. The regulator argues that payments to plants producing less than 100 megawatts give them an unfair advantage against bigger rivals. Curbing the so-called “embedded benefits” payments, which are made by suppliers as a result of Britain’s complex network charging system, could save consumers up to £7 billion by 2034, or £20 per household each year, it said. Critics said that the move would unfairly penalise businesses that had already made investments in expectation of receiving the payments. “The consequences for industrial manufacturers, hospitals and local authorities who generate their own power could be devastating,” Tim Rotheray, chief executive of the Association for Decentralised Energy, said. The change could also jeopardise plans to build small generators that could help to keep the lights on in coming winters, the association warned.
Times 2nd March 2017 read more »
Telegraph 1st March 2017 read more »
FT 1st March 2017 read more »
HANT (Highlands Against Nuclear Transport) has today launched a Crowdfunder Campaign Appeal to raise £1000 by 26 April 2017. The money raised will be used to pay for 1 year’s running costs and will pay for hire of meeting rooms, publicity materials and other costs of the campaign.
Highland Against Nuclear Transport 1st March 2017 read more »
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has announced the appointment of David Peattie as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
NDA 1st March 2017 read more »
Carlisle News and Star 1st March 2017 read more »
The Energy Department has delivered a blunt assessment of the work done by one of the world’s biggest companies in the nuclear business: “Unsatisfactory.” For a decade, CB&I Areva MOX Services has been under contract with the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration to design, build and operate a facility near the Savannah River in Aiken, S.C. Yet the project – designed to convert weapons-grade plutonium and uranium into a mixed oxide fuel for commercial nuclear power plants – has been running far beyond budget and way behind schedule. Estimates now put the price tag at $17 billion.
Standard 28th Feb 2017 read more »
We are witnessing a historic passing of the baton of global leadership on technology and climate from the United States to China. The new U.S. administration has said it will abandon climate action, gut clean energy funding, and embrace coal and oil — the dirty energy sources of the past that experts say can’t create a large number of sustainable new jobs. At the same time, China is slashing coal use and betting heavily on clean energy, which is clearly going to be the biggest new source of permanent high-wage jobs in the coming years. Indeed, Beijing plans to invest a stunning $360 billion by 2020 in renewable generation alone, and China’s energy agency says the resulting “employment will be more than 13 million people.”
Think Progress 28th Feb 2017 read more »
Renewables – tidal
A European tidal energy consortium – led by Nova Innovation in Scotland – has secured funding from the European Commission to demonstrate a new direct drive power take-off for tidal turbines. The Tidal Turbine Power Take-off project will run for 36 months. It will build the PTO subsystem and conduct accelerated onshore testing in Germany followed by in-sea testing in Scotland with third party validation of the design and the test results. The technology – when commercialised – will reduce the lifetime cost of tidal power by 20% and provide long term system reliability. The consortium is to receive grant funding of €4.4 million under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for research and innovation.
Scottish Energy News 2nd March 2017 read more »
WWF Scotland director Lang Banks commented on the news  that a planned electricity superhighway between Scotland and Norway has received 10million Euros backing from the European Union “If Scotland and the rest of Europe are to move to a 100 per cent renewable future then greater use of interconnectors is an essential part of that future. Greater interconnection brings the double benefits of ensuring security of supply and removing the need to build lots of expensive new nuclear or fossil fuel power stations. “Sharing different renewable resources between nations allows us to fulfil our renewable energy potential and drive down climate emissions across northern Europe, much more effectively than relying on domestic action alone. “The Scottish Government has set out welcome plans to meet half of our energy needs from renewable sources by 2030. This announcement reinforces Scotland’s position at the leading edge of the renewable electricity transformation occurring across Europe.”
Wired Gov 1st March 2017 read more »