Builders of the U.K.’s first nuclear plant in two decades are about to take a vital component and break it. The 110-ton spherical steel lid was destined to sit atop a reactor at the Hinkley Point site in Somerset. Instead it will be sacrificed to test the strength of a part already welded in place at similar atomic projects in France and China. The tests are essential after regulators found potential weaknesses in the steel used to contain radiation. The results may derail countries’ nuclear programs that are relying on the EPR reactors. They also threaten a generation of atomic plants that developer Areva SA has billed as the world’s safest.
Bloomberg 19th June 2015 read more »
Energy Voice 19th June 2015 read more »
[Machine Translation] Flamanville (France) – New weld defects were detected on the EPR nuclear reactor under construction at Flamanville (Manche), but work is continuing at full speed. Defects were detected unfortunately three of the twenty four welds (10 cm thick each) of the primary circuit, said director of Antoine Menager site during a presentation on the progress of construction at Flamanville.
Romandie 19th June 2015 read more »
WELSH First Minister Carwyn Jones said Wylfa Newydd could make a real difference to North West Wales. Speaking during a visit to the site in Cemaes Bay last week, Mr Jones trumpetted the benefits of the proposed new nuclear power station, saying it would bring a huge economic boost and present a once in a generation opportunity. He said: “The planned decommissioning of the existing Wylfa power station and the plans for Wylfa Newydd offer a real opportunity for Welsh businesses and young people in the area.
News North Wales 18th June 2015 read more »
SHEPWAY councillors voted last night to try and get Dungeness C back on the national radar. The issue was brought up by Cllr Rory Love in motions by councillors. He said: “This is the opportune time to reaffirm our commitment to Dungeness C. “I want to make sure jobs are here for our citizens. I hope this get s support.”
Folkestone Herald 18th June 2015 read more »
Kent Business 19th June 2015 read more »
A former chairman of the Hunterston site stakeholders forum has raised concerns that the goalposts could be moved concerning the designated end state of Hunterston ‘A’ after it has been fully decommissioned. Tony Bale, who was chair of the nuclear liaison forum, sat in the audience during the group’s recently quarterly meeting, and sought assurances from ‘A’ site director Martin Grafton. The public event took place at Fairlie Bowling Club’s new clubhouse. Questions surrounding the loss of jobs at the site were also raised at the forum, and the implications on the downsizing of the plant, and whether it would cause delays to reaching the end state. The power plant is currently undergoing care and maintenance preparations where the most dangerous hazards are being removed such as sludges/resins, and conventional hazards such as asbestos.
Largs & Millport Weekly News 19th June 2015 read more »
Seeking clarification on the Environment Agency’s statement to Sellafield’s local stakeholder group (WCSSG) meeting on 9th June that, with ONR, it has been asked by the NDA to review the option of immobilising plutonium, CORE received the following response from the NDA: “Research work on the immobilisation of plutonium is being carried out to find out if the process can be “industrialised” so that it could be used to treat material that is unsuitable for reuse or for disposition of the entire stockpile if Government decided not to pursue re-use.” Since the Government declared in 2011 that its preferred management option for the UK’s stockpile of separated plutonium (c120 tonnes) was its re-use as MOX fuel, this review of immobilisation suggests that, having specifically ruled out immobilisation as an option for the plutonium stockpile (apart from the handful of tonnes of the material too contaminated for re-use), the NDA is having second thoughts. This, together with the merest hint that Government might back-track on its preferred option, adds to the lingering doubts on the official commitment to plutonium re-use. The doubts first surfaced in 2012, just months after the Government’s preferred option announcement, when the NDA invited third parties to submit ‘additional alternatives’ to the re-use as MOX option. Whilst this resulted in proposals being submitted by GE Hitachi (PRISM fast reactor) and Candu Energy Inc – both of which continue to be assessed today – the need to issue the invitation in the first place suggested at the time that NDA confidence in the re-use as MOX option was less than convincing. Since then, the painful progress (delays and cost-overruns) of the construction of the Savannah River MOX plant in the US – closely watched by the NDA – will have added further to the Authority’s doubts. The immobilisation option currently being funded and researched by the NDA and the National Nuclear Laboratory for the plutonium that cannot be re-used is the Hot Isostatic Press (HIP) system which, under high pressure and temperature, converts the plutonium into a ceramic waste form suitable for long-term storage and ultimate disposal.
CORE 19th June 2015 read more »
A new fund set up by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) at the request of the European Commission will finance projects to rehabilitate former uranium mines and processing sites in Central Asia.
World Nuclear News 18th June 2015 read more »
More than half a century after the world’s first commercial nuclear plant went into operation in the United States, the industry may finally be nearing a way to store radioactive waste underground permanently. The world has 270,000 tonnes of used fuel stockpiled, much of it under water in ponds at nuclear power stations, adding to the urgency of finding a permanent storage solution for material that can remain toxic for hundreds of thousands of years. Finland and Sweden hope to be the first countries in the world to be able to put the most dangerous high-level waste (HLW) into underground storage in the next decade, using a new technology to encase fuel rods and protect them from erosion.
Reuters 19th June 2015 read more »
The German government presented a plan on Friday for four interim storage sites to host nuclear waste now piled up at plants in France and Britain, but the move drew criticism from Bavaria, which wants none of the material. After Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, Germany decided to shut all of its nuclear plants by 2022, but still has to work out how to handle tonnes of highly radioactive waste. Original plans to turn an interim nuclear waste storage site in salt formations in Lower Saxony’s Gorleben into a final repository were scuppered by mass protests and the location has finally been excluded by law. The latest plan presented by Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks envisages interim storage sites at nuclear plants in Brokdorf (Schleswig-Holstein), Philippsburg (Baden-Wuerttemberg), Biblis (Hesse) and Isar (Bavaria). These four sites are expected to take 26 containers of German nuclear waste that is being reprocessed and stored in France’s La Hague and England’s Sellafield. But the announcement sparked indignation from Bavaria, with state chancellery minister Marcel Huber calling the government’s unilateral decision “politically unwise and brazen”.
Reuters 19th June 2015 read more »
The operator of Japan’s ruined Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was aware of the need to improve the facility’s defences against tsunami more than two years before the March 2011 disaster but failed to take action, according to an internal company document. The revelation casts doubt on claims by Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) that it had done everything possible to protect the plant, which suffered a triple meltdown after being struck by a towering tsunami. The nuclear accident, the world’s worst since Chernobyl 25 years earlier, caused massive radiation leaks and forced the evacuation of more than 150,000 people, most of whom have yet to return to their homes.
Guardian 18th June 2015 read more »
It is now over four years since the Fukushima accident in March 2011 but the future of Japan in nuclear power remains in substantial doubt. Steve Kidd looks at the outlook for nuclear power in a country with a long history in the sector. The foundations are in place for Japan to continue to have a substantial nuclear sector but the industry has to greatly improve its public relations and paint a positive picture.
Nuclear Engineering International 19th June 2015 read more »
In a significant development that could have positive bearing on proposed Indo-Japan civil nuclear deal, Tokyo is likely to change its policy to allow reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel from Japanese-made reactors. In what could be a major shift in Japan’s nuclear non-proliferation strategy, Tokyo for the first time has approved reprocessing of nuclear fuel by a country using Japanese-made reactors, official sources said from Tokyo.
Economic Times 19th June 2015 read more »
Storing solar energy in a battery in Spain is more criminal than spilling radioactive waste. That’s the implied message written between the lines of a recently drafted law poised for fast-track approval by the government of Spain. Proposed fines for residential and SME use of solar energy self-consumption will be as high as €60 million ($67.7 million).
Clean Technica 18th June 2015 read more »
A number of cooperation documents were signed by Russia and Saudi Arabia on Thursday, after President Putin met with Saudi Prince Mohammed in what was one of the most anticipated meetings at the international economic forum in St. Petersburg. The pair has signed six agreements in total, Al Arabiya News Channel reported. A cooperation agreement on a peaceful nuclear program was among the documents, the press service of Russia’s nuclear agency, Rosatom, said. According to Rosatom, the document is the first in the history of Russia-Saudi relations to create a legal framework for cooperation between the nations in the field of nuclear energy. Future joint projects might include construction of nuclear power reactors, provision of services in nuclear fuel cycling, including those for nuclear power stations and research reactor facilities.
Russia Today 18th June 2015 read more »
World Nuclear News 19th June 2015 read more »
Renewables – onshore wind
Dale Vince, founder of green energy company Ecotricity, said there were two major issues with the government’s plan. He said: “Firstly the government justifies cutting wind support on the basis of saving money and wanting technologies to stand on their own feet. At the same time it awards a further 35 years of new subsidies to nuclear, and billions to the oil and gas industry to support it against falling energy prices. “The IMF recently reported that Britain spends £30bn a year subsidising the fossil fuel industry, that’s over £1,000 per household. Onshore wind by contrast costs £10 per household. Government sentiments make sense, but they’re targeting the wrong subsidised energy source.”
London Loves Business 18th June 2015 read more »
Has the Secretary of State actually stopped the giving out of Renewable Obligation certificates after March 2016 by saying in a written statement that there will be no RO certificates after that date? There has, of course been a justifiable storm, on the day of the statement, about its effect: a good piece by Julie Elliot MP in Business Green sets out just what damage such a knee jerk, ill thought out piece of reverse engineering will do to the wind industry and to the cost of renewables. I concur with all that, but my question is, in the rush to produce this handbrake turn has the Sec of State actually done what she thinks she has? The Minister is going to legislate to close entry: which I guess she will have to do because there exists already a piece of secondary legislation which states that no new RO certificates are to be issued for electricity generation after 31st March 2017. Primary legislation, that is, – that the minister has in mind. That will be the forthcoming Energy Bill rostered to appear in this session. Let us say it starts its passage through Parliament in late autumn: after all its stages it will probably get royal assent .ooh around next summer, after the magic date of April 2016 has passed, but obviously, before the former magic date of March 2017 has appeared. And meanwhile, as far as I can see the RO closure Order of 2014 chugs on until such time as it doesn’t. So maybe we’ll find ourselves in the difficult situation of having to give out ROs in the spring or summer of 2016 because the law says we have to, even if the Minister says we don’t. I wonder if that has been budgeted for? Just asking.
Alan Whitehead MP 19th June 2015 read more »
Brian Wilson: It was Ms Rudd’s L ibDem predecessor, Ed Davey, who legislated, in the 2012 Energy Act, to scrap the Renewables Obligation with effect from 2017. Instead, the government adopted Contracts for Difference (CfD) which involves developers bidding into finite pots, so that only some projects requiring least subsidy succeed. In other words, the “open-ended” principle was abandoned at that point. Ms Rudd brought the date forward to 2016 while allowing projects with planning consents and grid connections under the RO system to go ahead as scheduled. To avoid the charge of hyperbole, it would be useful to quantify how many are actually affected by this adjustment and, on that basis, to argue for some leeway. The Scottish Government always refused to break down its target into different technologies because the “100 per cent renewables” mantra was cover for the fact that nearly all the growth came from onshore wind. It was unrealistic to expect this to go on for ever – paid for, 90 per cent , by consumers in England – but it was only fair for transition to be phased in rather than abruptly imposed. I find it bitterly disappointing that so little of the manufacturing associated with wind farms in Scotland has been carried out here. That is a major failure on the part of the Scottish Government and does no credit to the biggest developers, Scottish Power and SSE, who have had the benefits of major planning consents and vast subsidies through the Renewables Obligation but failed to reciprocate by creating an industry worthy of the name. However, that does not mean there are not significant numbers of related jobs and businesses in Scotland and the rest of the UK with entitlement to some protection from sudden changes in policy. Having made her headline announcement, it would be to Ms Rudd’s credit if she now allowed her department room to negotiate on the practical issues arising from implementation.
Scotsman 20th June 2015 read more »
Geoffrey Lean: the announcement was not quite as savage as it seemed. It left open a loophole that would enable between 1,000 and 3,000 more turbines to escape the axe. And those schemes that will be unable to take advantage of it would probably not have been ready to go ahead before the subsidies ran out anyway in 2017. It is also true that for many years successive Governments concentrated almost exclusively on encouraging onshore wind, at the expense of developing other clean technologies – like tide, wave, and geothermal power, hydrogen, electric vehicles and, above all, ways of storing electricity generated by intermittent renewable sources . The industry, both greedy and arrogant, exploited their favour for all it was worth, often overriding local sensibilities, and has largely itself to blame for getting its come-uppance now.
Telegraph 19th June 2015 read more »
National Grid is set to radically overhaul the way it balances the UK’s electricity system to rely mostly on demand-side measures by the end of the next decade rather than using generating assets. Currently the transmission system operator spends around £850 million per year to keep the UK’s supply and demand in balance, with the vast majority of this spent on paying generators to ramp up or curtail power output to meet fluctuating demand. But National Grid’s head of commercial operations Duncan Burt told Utility Week exclusively that it is preparing to revolutionise how it maintains secure supply by relying on demand-side measures for “well over 50 per cent of the time” by 2030.
Utility Week 19th June 2015 read more »
I asked the PM if he could assure me that the reports were not true, and that he would be continuing instead to support energy efficiency underwriting. Present programmes such as Green Deal, ECO and Warm Homes discount are , in truth, not very well funded, but are in my view essential to continue over the next period for what one might call immediate and long-term reasons. I wasn’t sure that I would get all this in the answer that the Prime minister would give me to my question: but a general acknowledgement of the importance of energy efficiency in homes, and a generalised commitment to keep funding on track would have been good enough. What I actually got was a smirking riposte congratulating me on being returned to Parliament because there weren’t many Labour MPs on the South Coast….which I sort of knew already. My fault, I guess for thinking that a pertinent question to the Prime minister in the bear pit of PMQs might get anything other than a joke response.
Alan Whitehead MP 19th June 2015 read more »
We find out next week if the first major round of fracking in Britain will be approved, in a community that’s divided over the technology. Although Lancashire is split on the controversial method of extracting shale gas and oil, at a national level the UK’s political parties have been unusually united in their support for hydraulic fracturing. But that political consensus has begun to fracture since the election. Both of the likely next leaders of the Labour party and the Lib Dems support a ban on fracking. That would leave Ukip and the Conservatives, who are “going all out for shale”, as the only parties in the UK strongly in favour.
Guardian 19th June 2015 read more »