Three quarters of voters say Cumbria should not be home to a new nuclear power station. In our online poll, 73 per cent of voters said Cumbria should NOT be home to a nuclear power station.
NW Evening Mail 18th May 2016 read more »
Blu-Tack, can openers and other household items have been used by thrifty scientists in the decommissioning of a nuclear power station. The Dounreay power plant, in Caithness, Scotland, is in the process of a £1bn shutdown operation that has seen scientists tasked with finding cheaper ways to deal with the hazardous material that is left at the site. Lang Banks, director of environmental group WWF Scotland, said: “The ingenuity of those involved in cleaning up Dounreay’s radioactive legacy certainly has to be praised.” However he added: “Not all the challenges faced in dealing with the thousands of tonnes of waste the nuclear industry has left in its wake right across the country will be so easy to solve. “It’s just another reason why Scotland is right to be choosing an energy future based on clean renewables instead of hazardous and expensive new nuclear power.”
Independent 21st May 2016 read more »
STV 21st May 2016 read more »
Last year, the Sunday Herald broke the story about a plan to ship nuclear material from Dounreay to America. The report said the plan was for nearly five kilograms of enriched uranium to be transported by sea from Caithness to the US Government’s nuclear complex at Savannah River in South Carolina. The material was said to have come from a research institute in Mtskheta, some six miles from the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, in a secretive US operation codenamed Auburn Endeavour in April 1998. Washington was said to have been worried at the time that it could have fallen into the hands of Chechen gangs or Iran. However, it later emerged that the proposed UK Government plan is to ship not five kilograms but 700kg of nuclear material.
Sunday Herald 22nd May 2016 read more »
Devonport Royal Dockyard Limited (DRDL) has submitted an application for a minor variation to an environmental permit which covers operations on their dockyard site in Plymouth, Devon. The Environment Agency will consult technical experts and the public on the environmental permit application received. The application, if approved, will enable them to increase discharges of carbon-14 to the atmosphere during the refit of the Royal Navy submarine, HMS Vanguard.
Environment Agency 20th May 2016 read more »
Japan’s chief cabinet secretary called it “the devil’s scenario.” Two weeks after the 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami devastated the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, causing three nuclear reactors to melt down and release radioactive plumes, officials were bracing for even worse. They feared that spent fuel stored in the reactor halls would catch fire and send radioactive smoke across a much wider swath of eastern Japan, including Tokyo. Thanks to a lucky break detailed in a report released today by the U.S. National Academies, Japan dodged that bullet. The near calamity “should serve as a wake-up call for the industry,” says Joseph Shepherd, a mechanical engineer at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena who chaired the academy committee that produced the report. Spent fuel accumulating at U.S. nuclear reactor plants is also vulnerable, the report warns. A major spent fuel fire at a U.S. nuclear plant “could dwarf the horrific consequences of the Fukushima accident,” says Edwin Lyman, a physicist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., who was not on the panel.
Science Mag 20th May 2016 read more »
Washington is promoting commercial interests of the energy corporation Westinghouse in Europe, creating risks for European nuclear power plants, an article in Forbes read. For example, in 2015, two of the Westinghouse-made fuel assemblies at the South Ukraine nuclear power plant (NPP) were found to be leaking. Since 2015, the NPP has been using US-made fuel.
Sputnik 21st May 2016 read more »
Tony Juniper: Energy policy requires joined-up long-term thinking based on evidence and consistent choices. The infrastructure needed to achieve the secure supply of affordable and sustainable energy must give confidence to investors, anticipate technology trends and seek synergies between priorities that apparently pull in different directions. During recent years we’ve entered a period wherein UK energy policy has ceased to do this and instead has become driven by political short-termism, is increasingly incoherent and has fallen victim to ideology and the internal politics of the Conservative Party. The result will be outcomes opposite to those signalled in ministerial soundbites that speak of ‘keeping the lights on’ and lowering bills for ‘hard working families’. In just a few months several decades of progress toward a sustainable low-carbon energy system was thrown into reverse. Support for on-shore wind was axed, so was backing for Britain’s fast-growing solar power sector. Incentives for generators to displace coal with biomass were ended while policies to deliver zero carbon homes and low carbon commercial buildings were scrapped. Long-standing plans for carbon capture and storage demonstration projects were axed too. The new power policy that staggered from the wreckage of the old one was based on a mix of new nuclear power stations, an increased reliance on gas (to be increasingly obtained by the controversial process of fracking) and the expansion of offshore wind power generating capacity. To say that this new policy was conceived on thin ice is a gross understatement. Take the killing of on-shore wind. Despite bending over backwards to create the conditions for the French Government owned EDF to invest in new stations in the UK, there are serious wobbles going on across the English Channel, where EDF executives, French ministers and labour unions are expressing grave doubts as to whether building new rectors at Hinkely Point in Somerset is a good idea. Doubters have quite rightly seen major risks ahead, not least based on the on-going difficulties EDF is facing in delivering similar reactors in Finland and France.
IB Times 21st May 2016 read more »
Pakistan has made a formal application to join a club of nuclear trading nations, the foreign ministry said on Friday, a move likely to lead to a showdown in the group which has also been facing calls to induct India as a member.
Reuters 20th May 2016 read more »
The world’s largest oil companies have in recent weeks announced a series of “green” investments – in wind farms, electric battery storage systems and carbon capture and storage (CCS). These unexpected moves come hot on the heels of revelations by Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter, that it plans to sell off parts of its national oil company and diversify its economy away from petroleum. They also come in the aftermath of a United Nations climate change agreement and before annual general meetings for Shell and Exxon Mobil this week, meetings at which shareholders will demand that more be done to tackle climate change. So has the fossil fuel industry finally woken up to the dangers posed to their futures by a move to a low-carbon world, or is this all “greenwash” – relatively insignificant investments designed to shake off critics? Or does it just make good business sense for Big Oil to do this at a time when oil prices are low, renewable projects look like steady long-term investments, and green businesses can be snapped up on the cheap? Oil analysts themselves say it makes sense for oil companies to invest in renewables at a time when the value of green firms is also depressed by the low oil price. One leading City figure saw lots of reason for this: “Assets are relatively cheap; it’s a good time to diversify; and you can keep some of the low-carbon critics at bay. Also, the oil companies have a herd mentality: once one of them does it, you can expect the rest to follow. You could say green is in fashion.”
Guardian 21st May 2016 read more »
Climate News Network 22nd May 2016 read more »
From the phones in our pockets to the cars on our roads, almost everything with an electrical circuit needs a battery. But while the rest of the technology industry has made great leaps over the past couple of decades, batteries have not. The shortcomings of batteries are now one of the biggest bottlenecks in transport, energy, infrastructure and more. Our power demands are ever-increasing, but our ability to carry or store power is limited. Smartphones barely last a day, electric vehicles have much shorter ranges than petrol or diesel cars, and storing energy from sources such as solar panels is difficult. A breakthrough in energy storage is sorely needed, and many companies, including some of the oil giants, are working on it. There’s a potentially lucrative market for those that succeed, but the limitations imposed by the chemistry of batteries have proved difficult to overcome. The biggest problem is energy density – how much energy can be stored in a given size and weight. Lithium-ion batteries, first introduced in 1991 and used in phones, cars and other rechargeable devices, store between 150 and 250 watt-hours per kilogram (Wh/kg). To put that in perspective, a fridge uses around 1,600 Wh a day, and petrol stores about of 13,000 Wh/kg – or more than 50 times the energy of even the best lithium-ion batteries.
Guardian 21st May 2016 read more »
CONTROVERSIAL plans to frack in North Yorkshire could have a devastating impact on the local economy, a former MP has warned. Baroness McIntosh claimed granting permission to use the controversial gas mining method could turn Ryedale into “an industrial site on a massive scale”. She was among more than 70 speakers opposing Third Energy’s plan to frack close to the village of Kirby Misperton, as councillors began considering whether to give the go-ahead yesterday.
Yorkshire Post 21st May 2016 read more »
THE new Cabinet Secretary tasked with deciding whether or not to allow fracking is facing a conflict of interest on the issue, as his own constituency is a potential hot-spot for the controversial gas technology. Half of Keith Brown’s Clackmannanshire and Dunblane seat lies inside a potential fracking zone licensed by Ineos, the owners of Grangemouth and Scotland’s main player in fracking. Ineos recently held a public meeting in Alloa, in Clackmannanshire, to promote fracking. Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, involves drilling into underground shale beds then pumping in water, sand and chemicals at high pressure to release trapped methane gas. Ineos currently imports shale gas from the US for use as feedstock in its chemical works, but wants to source it locally from the shale beds under the central belt.
Sunday Herald 22nd May 2016 read more »
At midnight on 10 May 2016, the UK hit an energy milestone. For the first time in over 100 years, the amount of coal being used by the national grid to power Britain’s kettles, computer and televisions fell to zero. And then it stayed at zero for four hours. Two days later, this time for five hours, coal usage fell to zero again. Nuclear, wind, hydro and solar energy powered the national grid in coal’s place. By 13 May, the needle had hit zero four times, for a total of around 25 hours. This historic turning point came on the eve of a Government consultation on phasing out coal energy completely by 2025. “As part of our plans for a cleaner energy future, we are one of the first countries to announce our intention to consult on ending unabated coal by 2025,” a spokesperson for the Department for Energy and Climate Change told The Independent. “We will issue this consultation shortly.” Though it was celebrated by green campaigners, zero coal happened entirely by chance. Some coal plants happened to be out for maintenance, so the national grid replaced coal with other sorts of energy. “We are generation neutral and cannot be seen to favour one type of generation over another,” a National Grid spokesperson said, “therefore this wasn’t planned by us and is merely a coincidence.”
Independent 21st May 2016 read more »