Dave Toke: The government’s plans for new nuclear power stations are on the rocks, and it would require desperate measures to save them. Some evidence of the desperation emerged when John Hayes, the recently appointed minister for energy said, in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, that he is ‘mulling over’ the possibility of underwriting plans for building new nuclear power stations. He appeared to be referring to the last remaining ‘live’ proposal by EDF’s for a 3.2 GW nuclear power plant at Hinkley C in Somerset. Mr Hayes would be well advised not to sip from the poisoned chalice (underwriting) he has been presented by nuclear supporters via the Daily Telegraph. Underwriting means telling EDF, in effect, that the government would foot whatever bill it took to build the power plant. Nobody knows for sure how much that would be given than similar plants still being built in Finland and France are now terribly over budget and a long time behind schedule. Underwriting would blast a hole through specific Conservative pre-election commitments not to underwrite nuclear power construction, not to mention Ed Davey’s pronouncements about there being ‘no blank cheque’ for nuclear. Underwriting would make a complete nonsense of any notion of nuclear power being competitive with renewable energy sources such as wind power and solar power which certainly are not in receipt of ‘underwriting’ commitments. The terrible irony of the government’s proposals is that the renewable energy support mechanisms proposed in the Energy Bill have been hamstrung by the political drive to give priority to a nuclear power building programme that may never actually materialize.
Huffington Post 18th Oct 2012 more >>
Letter: Simon Jenkins suggests we should draw inspiration from Dieter Helm’s call for a dash for gas. Yet rises in the cost of gas have been responsible for more than 80% of the increase in consumer energy bills over the last five years. We have a fundamental choice about whether we want to build more energy or burn more energy. A recent study for E3G finds this relates not just to the volatile price of gas, but also to the risk of policy failure. Our analysis shows that if there is less energy efficiency, less CCS or less nuclear than the government is planning, then the cost of energy in a gas-heavy system could go up almost 100%. But if these policies fail under a renewables-heavy system, then the cost of energy to the consumer is likely to go up no more than 8%. The lesson is that gas is not a cheap option. A gas-based energy system carries a heavy risk of much higher costs for the consumer.
Guardian 19th Oct 2012 more >>
George Osborne is said by the Independent to be referring to green campaigners both inside and outside his party as “the environmental Taliban”. His office denies it, but the insult fits in with the way Conservatives and rightwing politicians around the world now regularly denigrate greens. In 2009, Roger Evans, a Conservative member of the London assembly, wrote in a blog that people fighting the expansion of the London City airport were “the climate change Taliban”. He was was slapped down by the prime minister, David Cameron, and the mayor, Boris Johnson. He eventually apologised profusely. The Taliban slur has since been widely used in Australia and in the US along with more regular putdowns of environmentalists as “Naz is”, “subversives”, “militants” and “watermelons” (green on the outside, red on the inside). The insults in Britain are led by James Delingpole, a shock-jock Telegraph blogger employed to be offensive to the greens.
Guardian 19th Oct 2012 more >>
Mark Lynas: who are Osborne’s “environmental Taliban”? These days, it is more than just Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace activists who will feel offended. So will the entire renewables industry, which has notched up a significant success as Britain becomes the leading nation worldwide in offshore wind-installed capacity (albeit with turbines manufactured abroad). So also will the Nuclear Industry Association, which depends for the future of its members on the aggressive government decarbonisation programme for which Osborne now seems to be the main opponent. Make no mistake: the Taliban coalition in favour of sustainable energy is broadening all the time.
Independent 18th Oct 2012 more >>
Morgan Sindall has landed the £1.1bn contract to deliver a series of major infrastructure works at the Sellafield nuclear site, beating off competition from Balfour Beatty. The contractor, in a joint venture with engineer Arup, was chosen as the preferred delivery partner for the Infrastructure Strategic Alliance contract, worth up to £1.1bn over a maximum of 15 years, which is part of Sellafield’s long-term programme of strategic investment. As Building revealed this month, , Morgan Sindall was in competition with Balfour Beatty for the job, which will see the winning contractor charged with managing and delivering a series of infrastructure projects and emergent work, ranging from £1m to £50m and providing a range of essential services at the Sellafield nuclear site.
Building 12th Oct 2012 more >>
ACADEMICS and members of industry attended an event at Sheffield University to discuss methods of dealing with the UK’s radioactive waste. The event was attended by representatives from the National Nuclear Laboratory, the Sellafield nuclear plant and the Atomic Weapons Establishment. The conference centred on developing new ideas for the storage of nuclear waste and the possible corrosion of current storage methods.
Sheffield Star 19th Oct 2012 more >>
French state-owned utility only has six weeks left to ensure its troubled fleet of nuclear power reactors is capable of producing enough electricity to cope with winter demand, the French power grid’s head said on Wednesday. Around a third of EDF’s 58 nuclear reactors — which are on average 26 years old — have been offline since April due to a maintenance, problems restarting some of the ageing reactors and unexpected outages. This has led to questions over the energy company’s ability to adequately supply its customers in time this winter with supply already been hit by hitches at French and Belgium reactors.
Reuters 18th Oct 2012 more >>
Voicing their opposition to atomic power as a source of energy, anti-nuclear activists in Britain have expressed their solidarity with the protests against the nuclear power plants at Kudankulam in India and Hinkley Point in the UK. The activists, including doctors and academics, held a meeting at the House of Commons here last night and expressed their concern about the present situation in Kudankulam. The meeting was hosted by MP Caroline Lucas and organised jointly by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and South Asia Solidarity Group.
Outlook India 19th Oct 2012 more >>
Fukushima Crisis Update 16th to 18th Oct 2012.
Greenpeace 19th Oct 2012 more >>
An un-redacted version of a recently released Nuclear Regulatory Commission report highlights the threat that flooding poses to nuclear power plants located near large dams — and suggests that the NRC has misled the public for years about the severity of the threat, according to engineers and nuclear safety advocates. “The redacted information shows that the NRC is lying to the American public about the safety of U.S. reactors,” said David Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer and safety advocate with the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Huffington Post 19th Oct 2012 more >>
Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil producer, has plans to become 100% powered by renewable and low-carbon forms of energy, according to an influential member of the royal family. But the process is likely to take decades, and some observers are sceptical as to whether it is any more than window-dressing. Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, founder of the King Faisal Foundation and one of the state’s top spokesmen, told the Global Economic Symposium in Brazil that he hoped the kingdom might be powered entirely by low-carbon energy within his lifetime – he is 67 – but that he thought it was likely to take longer. However, he insisted Saudi was moving ahead with investment in renewable energy, nuclear power and other alternatives t o fossil fuels and that it could use its vast oil reserves for other goods, such as plastics and polymers.
Guardian 19th Oct 2012 more >>
For the Israelis, time is running out before Iran becomes so difficult to attack that only the US could do it, so it is still possible that a crisis could develop before the US election on 6 November. Israeli politicians fear that a second-term Obama administration would have far too much freedom of action on Palestine and on Iran – a thoroughly unpalatable prospect.
Independent 20th Oct 2012 more >>
Swiss utility Axpo today dismissed the results of a study commissioned by German federal state Baden-Wurttemberg that declared the country’s Beznau reactors unsafe. The state commissioned German research institute Oko-Institut to test the safety of Switzerland’s Beznau reactors, which have a combined capacity of 730MW, and France’s 1.7GW Fessenheim nuclear plant. The study used the same assessment criteria as when Germany’s nuclear watchdog evaluated the safety of German reactors following the March 2011 nuclear accident at Japan’s Fukushima-Daiichi plant.“Fessenheim and Beznau are far from meeting basic safety standards for nuclear reactors,” Baden-Wurttemberg environment minister Franz Untersteller said today. But Swiss utility Axpo dismissed this conclusion, saying “the Beznau nuclear plant (KKB) has recently passed the EU stress test with flying colours and it performed better than the nuclear reactors in Baden-Wurttemberg”. The utility will now review the study in depth.
Argus Media 19th Oct 2012 more >>
Areva CERCA, a subsidiary of Areva Group, has been awarded a new contract to supply 62 extra low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel elements to research nuclear reactor Maria in Poland.
Energy Business Review 19th Oct 2012 more >>
Householders insulating their homes from January will be able to claim hundreds – and potentially thousands – of pounds back in cash from the government, the energy secretary, Ed Davey, said on Friday. Following a week of controversy over rising energy bills and confusion over an announcement by David Cameron that energy companies would have to offer customers the “lowest tariff”, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) outlined a £125m pot of cashback money for the first people to increase the energy efficiency of their homes under the green deal.
Guardian 19th Oct 2012 more >>
Independent 20th Oct 2012 more >>
There are no technical barriers to the large-scale integration of solar power into the electricity grid in Europe over the long term, says a report by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association. The EPIA report, released Wednesday (17 October), predicted photovoltaics would account for 15% Europe’s electricity production by 2030, or 25% “under a paradigm shift scenario”.
Euractiv 19th Oct 2012 more >>
Scottish Greens have described the SNP’s change of policy on NATO as moral hypocrisy, and a terrible misjudgement that will alienate anti-nuclear Scots who are still considering whether to vote for independence. Patrick Harvie, MSP for Glasgow and Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, said: “Rather than building a platform of distinctive policies that make the case for a radically better Scotland, the SNP leadership seem determined to quash the party’s better instincts. It is moral hypocrisy of the worst kind to be so vocal in opposition to Trident but in favour of an alliance based on the nuclear protection of other states. This is a profound misjudgement that sets the face of the SNP against radical Scotland at a time when they should be energising campaigners.
Scottish Greens 19th Oct 2012 more >>
Ekklesia 19th Oct 2012 more >>
After a passionate and tempestuous debate that put the SNP leadership’s grip on the party to the test, Nationalists have backed an independent Scotland becoming part of the Nato nuclear alliance. At the party’s conference in Perth, a plan backed by leader Alex Salmond to reverse 31 years of
opposition to the Atlantic defence organisation was passed by delegates, by just 29 votes. The decision came as a relief to both Mr Salmond and Westminster leader Angus Robertson who, during the heated two-and-a-half-hour debate, had been forced to look on as member after member tore into the plan, warning it would leave the SNP open to claims it had “sold its principles” and turned them into “hypocrites”.
Scotsman 20th Oct 2012 more >>
Herald 20th Oct 2012 more >>