National Audit Office investigation must be expedited quickly not just for Hinkley Point but for billions of pounds of investment in new nuclear across the country including West Cumbria, Wylfa and Oldbury says GMB. GMB, the union for energy workers, responded to the announcement by the National Audit Office that it is conducting an investigation into the strike price agreed for Hinkley Point C and that it will report to Parliament at an appropriate point. See notes to editors for statement on the National Audit Office website. Gary Smith, GMB National Officer for Energy, said “On energy policy in the UK we have too many jockeys on the horse which allows opponents of nuclear power and vested interests to cause needless delays. There is a grave danger that the constant undermining of a clear direction will hinder the investment needed for new nuclear power stations to lower carbon emissions and stop the lights going out.”
Your Nuclear News 20th Oct 2014 read more »
Something a bit odd is happening in Somerset. This relates to the community bounty promised upon the eventual arrival of Hinkley C nuclear power station in North Somerset. You will recall, no doubt, the excited announcement by Michael Fallon last year; residents of the local authorities around the plant would be receiving, in addition to retention of the business rate, around £1000 per megawatt hour for up to forty years once the plant was producing power. That might amount to some £128 million all in, which is not bad going at all for cash-strapped local authorities. The previous year, EDF had announced that they would be lavishing some £64 million on local communities to get the project going. So, presumably, like the £5000 per installed megawatt that onshore wind developers are committed to provide for communities (provided that nice Mr Pickles lets them build any) and the 1% of revenues fracking well companies will have to donate to communities if they consent to a well and it actually produces anything, nuclear developers will also be supporting local communities. Well, not exactly, as it turns out. Pretty much all the money that EDF have provided so far has gone on things that benefit…er…EDF – like widening access roads and so on. And, so I understand, the company has flatly refused to have anything to do with developer benefits subsequently. And following the strong hand DECC played in the negotiations throughout, flat refusal was indeed how it turned out.
Alan Whitehead MP 21st Oct 2014 read more »
A worker who saved his company £1.5million missed out on a reward because he put in his idea a day late. Senior engineer Jarred Fraser managed to save the massive sum from the clean-up bill for Dounreay nuclear site in Caithness after his bright idea was taken up by his bosses who run a reward scheme for money saving innovations. The original intention was to build an effluent treatment plant to deal with low-level radioactive waste produced by the decommissioning of Dounreay’s notorious underground shaft and silo. Mr Fraser’s Eureka moment came when realised an existing building would be able to do the job. His bosses at site licence company DSRL agreed with the intended redeployment of the building above the site’s cluster of low-active pits. It had been earmarked to be levelled once its current role was over. The switch has cut the cost of the scheme from £6million to about £4.5 million. But his idea came a day too late for him to prosper under the company’s scheme which offered small cash sums and gift vouchers for ideas.
Press and Journal 20th Oct 2014 read more »
The energy minister, Fergus Ewing MSP, has responded to concerns regarding the future of Hunterston ‘B’, and believes that the station will continue to operate safely through the remainder of its life until 2023. At the Scottish Parliament, Cunninghame North MSP Kenneth Gibson asked: “If there is any possible threat to public safety, can the Energy Minister confirm that remedial action will be taken immediately and that if, in the interests of safety, Hunterston B has to close sooner than 2023, hundreds of people will continue to be employed at Hunterston through the commencement of a decommissioning process that will last for several decades at least?”Mr Ewing replied: “The life extension to 2023 was granted fairly recently and a very rigorous process is in application. The Scottish Government is regularly in contact with the company, and the company is happy to take an open and transparent approach. I am hopeful that, although difficulties may arise, they will be dealt with in a businesslike and efficient way and that the station will continue to operate effectively and safely throughout the remainder of its life.”Alison Johnstone of the Scottish Greens asked: “What role does the Scottish Government have in ensuring the safety of nuclear power stations? We should not be alarmist about the Hunterston cracks, but they make the overwhelming case for a full environmental impact assessment and public scrutiny of any decision to extend the lifetime of these plants.”She asked if the Government would support a full environmental impact assessment of any lifetime extension for Hunterston. Mr Ewing responded: “First, let me confirm that the office for nuclear regulation, to which I spoke to, has confirmed what it has made absolutely clear. As the regulator, it has provided an assurance that there are no immediate safety implications for Hunterston B and that it is safe to continue to generate electricity.“I can assure Ms Johnstone that the environmental case was considered when Hunterston B’s life was extended to 2023. That extension was made two years ago, and it has already been fully discussed and reported in the Parliament.“In addition to that and the life extension case, it is my understanding of the process from my discussions with the ONR and previously that there is a periodic safety assessment. The next periodic safety assessment is due to be carried out in 2016.
Largs & Millport Weekly News 21st Oct 2014 read more »
A new Greenpeace report exposes Rosatom, the most ambitious nuclear exporter, peddling a supposed cure-all contract solution to the enormous nuclear problems, as a particularly risky and dangerous business partner. Our report lays bare the troubled history and current problems with the Russian nuclear program. As Rosatom’s predecessors oversaw the worst nuclear disaster in world history at Chernobyl, the company likes to claim it learned from its mistakes and has some of the safest reactors in the world. But a look at both its domestic and foreign projects casts a long shadow of doubt on both these claims and their future ambitions abroad. Rosatom offers what seems like a deal too good to be true – a Build Own Operate (BOO) contract, which promises to finance, build, and operate reactors abroad – as well as take back and reprocess the waste spent from those reactors. But the deal has serious financial, environmental and political implications.
Greenpeace 21st Oct 2014 read more »
Rosatom, the state nuclear corporation of Russia, is actively pursuing expansion domestically and abroad, despite the decline of the nuclear industry globally. Rosatom is a questionable business partner, plagued by concerns over corruption, the safety and quality control standards of its nuclear reactors, its competence at building and operating nuclear plants, its model for financing projects, and concerns over its ability to complete construction on time and on budget.
Greenpeace 6th Oct 2014 read more »
One reason that giant nuclear utilities like Exelon, Entergy, Duke and others are so aggressively taking extraordinary steps to force ratepayers to keep their obsolete, aging reactors operating at any cost is that these utilities have failed to adequately plan for the reality that reactors have a limited operational life and at some point will have to be retired. The issue is global, it isn’t confined to the U.S., but the ramifications of this failure to plan, or perhaps to accept the reality that no machinery lasts forever–especially not the kind exposed to the tremendous heat and radiation levels that nuclear reactors are–will have its greatest impact in the deregulated states of the U.S. Two recent articles on the idea of extending reactor licenses even further than they already have been (and far further than is reasonable from a public safety perspective), one in the New York Times and one from the U.K., bring the fundamental issue to some light–even if perhaps unintentionally.
Green World 21st Oct 2014 read more »
The UK’s wind farms generated more power than its nuclear power stations on Tuesday, the National Grid says. The energy network operator said it was caused by a combination of high winds and faults in nuclear plants. Wind farms are causing controversy in rural areas and the government is choking off planning permission for new sites. But for a 24-hour period yesterday, spinning blades produced more energy than splitting atoms. Wind made up 14.2% of all generation and nuclear offered 13.2%. It follows another milestone on Saturday, when wind generated a record amount of power – 6,372 MW, according to National Grid. This formed nearly 20% of the the UK’s electricity, albeit at a time at the weekend when demand is relatively low.
BBC 22nd Oct 2014 read more »
The energy supply industry represented 3.5% of the UK economy in 2012 and employed around 176,000 people. UK business can profit from changes the world will have to make to address the issues of energy security, affordability and sustainability. Our strategy outlines funding opportunities for your business in the following areas: developing new energy technologies; building a flexible, secure and resilient energy system; reducing greenhouse gas emissions at point of use.
Innovate UK 21st Oct 2014 read more »
The Fit For Nuclear programme will be able to help an additional 300 SMEs target the nuclear industry and provide matched funding for business improvement and R&D to businesses in England after receiving support from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund. The scheme, which is operated by Nuclear AMRC and the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS), aims to develop SME manufacturers’ ability to work with the civil nuclear supply chain.
Real Business 21st Oct 2014 read more »
Professional Engineer 21st Oct 2014 read more »
A leading nuclear expert from Sellafield is set to spend three years in Austria working for the International Atomic Agency in Vienna. Ian Gordon, Head of External Affairs at Europe’s most complex nuclear site, has begun a three year assignment at the IAEA headquarters. He will lead an international team of specialists sharing learning about all aspects of radioactive waste management. Mr Gordon has over has over 12 years’ experience in the nuclear industry, all of it spent at the Sellafield site, having previously worked in automotive, white goods and telecommunications. He has travelled, with his family, to Vienna, where he will join the IAEA as Section Head for Waste Technology.
NW Evening Mail 22nd Oct 2014 read more »
Australian investment bank Macquarie Group has bought Deutsche Bank’s uranium book, a source familiar with the matter said, as the increasingly commodities-focused lender pushes deeper into global energy trading.The deal includes Deutsche’s long-term trading contracts and stockpiles of low-grade uranium yellowcake, which were valued at the end of last year at around $200 million.
Reuters 21st Oct 2014 read more »
The EU’s 28 member states face many challenges if they are to revive Europe’s sluggish economy. One of the most important – and one receiving too little attention – is the need to co-ordinate energy policy. The fragmentation of the European energy market is a glaring strategic weakness, highlighted by the fact that the club, as a whole, imports more than half its gas and electricity. EU heads of government will discuss the matter at a Brussels summit on Thursday but progress remains grindingly slow. A row between Spain and France over renewable energy demonstrates how protectionist EU member states have become. Spanish wind turbines produce far more power than is needed in the domestic market but the energy cannot be exported to Spain’s biggest neighbour because there are few transmission lines to carry it across the Pyrenees. Mariano Rajoy’s government says France is reluctant to open its border to flows of cheap renewable energy, accusing the French state-backed nuclear industry of blocking the move.
FT 21st Oct 2014 read more »
When it comes to Europe’s energy networks, Spain is an island – and it blames France for its isolation. After decades of frustration, Madrid’s anger is now boiling over ahead of an EU summit this week, where diplomats expect a showdown between Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and French President Francois Hollande. Renewable energy lies at the heart of their dispute: Spanish wind turbines easily produce more power than is needed in the domestic market but that energy is wasted because there are few transmission lines to carry it across the border to France. Viewed from Madrid, the Pyrenees are a protectionist barrier behind which France has been shielding its nuclear industry from the competition posed by Spain’s abundant renewables.
FT 21st Oct 2014 read more »
European leaders are meeting this week to discuss the future of region’s energy and climate policy. Among other things, countries will debate the European Commission’s proposal to cut EU emissions 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030. Some of the most important discussions may be on an item that isn’t officially on the agenda, however: how to get Europe’s carbon market, the EU emissions trading scheme (EU ETS), working properly. A draft of the policy framework’s conclusions seen by Carbon Brief says “a well functioning, reformed EU ETS will be the main European instrument” for cost-effectively achieving the region’s emission reductions. The commision has laid out some reforms it hopes will improve the market’s effectiveness. But yesterday, the UK government published a positioning paper calling the commission’s proposals “insufficient”. We take a look at the UK government’s plans to reform the struggling carbon market, and why doing so could be a key part of the EU’s climate plans.
Carbon Brief 21st Oct 2014 read more »
French President Francois Hollande has promised to limit the growth of the country’s nuclear power, many older reactors have been targeted for decommissioning, and Greenpeace and other environmental groups have been relentless in their anti-nuclear campaigning. But until now, it seemed unlikely that France would ever truly rethink its love affair with nuclear power. Last week, it did. On Oct. 10, France’s parliament voted to begin moving to undo decades of nuclear growth and to reduce its importance to the country’s energy mix. Over the next 11 years, France will reduce the amount of electricity coming from nuclear by one-quarter — from 75 percent to 50 percent. To do that, estimates are that as many as 20 of France’s 58 reactors would have to be closed.
Christian Science Monitor 20th Oct 2014 read more »
Japan – Fukushima
Before the Fukushima nuclear crisis forced them from their homes, residents of Futaba had praised the Daiichi power plant as a “godsend” that brought jobs and money to the Japanese coastal town. Now, more than three years after the disaster, a new documentary film reveals that they remain stuck in cramped emergency housing facing the reality that they are likely never to return home.
Independent 21st Oct 2014 read more »
The newly appointed chief of Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) is expected to continue efforts to restart the country’s nuclear power generation, according to reports. Japanese and international news outlets including Reuters reported that Yoichi Miyazawa, on taking office yesterday, told assembled news reporters that he was keen to visit the site of a nuclear reactor cleared to go back online. Miyazawa was quoted as saying that there is “no question that atomic power is an important baseload energy source for Japan’s future”.
PV-Tech 21st Oct 2014 read more »
Radioactive fallout and contamination is still present within the 30km exclusion zone around Chernobyl, but by and large this only poses a limited hazard to living things. In fact, the absence of people has caused wildlife in the area to thrive – some rare species have even returned to breed. Some of the radioactive isotopes released into the atmosphere at Chernobyl – notably Strontium-90 and Caesium-137 – still linger in random “hot spots” on the ground. Radiation exposure may be tolerable for short periods, but living for long periods poses an unacceptably high risk to health.
Independent 21st Oct 2014 read more »
Allison M. Macfarlane, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, announced Tuesday that she will resign to take a teaching job at George Washington University. Macfarlane, who still has more than three years left in her term, said she would leave Jan. 1 and become director of the university’s Center for International Science and Technology Policy. In an interview, she called it “a great offer,” but people close to her said she also stepped down to spend time with her ailing mother. “I accomplished what I wanted to do at the NRC,” Macfarlane said, “and I really miss academia.” Trained as a geologist and a former professor at George Mason University, Macfarlane has served as NRC chair since July 9, 2012, and has restored a more collegial atmosphere in an agency that had been roiled by controversy over the management style of her predecessor, Gregory B. Jaczko. Macfarlane has also overseen the implementation of new safety measures prompted by the tsunami that severely damaged Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex in 2011. Those included additional protective equipment at reactor sites, sturdier seismic and flood protection at power plants, and progress on hardening venting systems at plants that had a design similar to Fukushima’s.
Washington Post 21st Oct 2014 read more »
The world’s largest tokamak fusion reactor is currently under construction in Cadarache, France with initial operations slated to begin in 2020. Fusion research is expensive and the total price of the ITER experiment is expected to be over €15 billion. Which participants are pumping the most money into the reactor? The majority of funding comes from the European Union through the Euratom organization. EU cash contributions reached €80.43 million in 2013. South Korea and China came second and third, providing €20.5 and €19 million respectively. According to ITER, the United States contributed €17.7 million in 2013.
Forbes 20th Oct 2014 read more »
A NEW study has shown that nuclear test veterans have passed on the effects of deadly radiation to their children. Research – first reported by the Sunday Mirror in 2007 – which shows that their offspring have 10 times the normal rate of birth defects has now finally been accepted by the scientific community.
Burton Mail 21st Oct 2014 read more »
The WWF’s latest energy report ‘Warm homes, not warm words’ calls for stronger government action to tackle the carbon emissions from heating homes. The report states that currently just 2% of UK heating demand is met by low-carbon sources and the Government is “very far” from the 25% goal to be achieved by 2030. This is especially important as heating accounts for 32% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions and 44% of energy use. Zoe Leader, WWF-UK’s Climate and Energy Specialist, said: “The Government’s support for renewable heat is making slow but steady progress, but at the current rate will fail to meet our climate change goals. “In the next 15 years, the UK needs to insulate eight million lofts, install nearly four million heat pumps and quadruple the number of homes connected to heat networks.
Scottish Energy News 22nd Oct 2014 read more »
Renewables – solar
Environment Secretary Liz Truss this week announced new plans to tackle the “blight on the landscape” that is solar farms, confirming that farmers that install solar arrays will not be able to claim CAP payments for that land. Truss said the move would save £2m and tackle the “big problem” of “using land that can be used to grow crops, fruit and vegetables” to generate clean energy. But critics yesterday slammed the proposals as a politically motivated attack on a technology that commands around 80 per cent public support, arguing that the move to halt CAP payments would have a negligible impact and had not been fully thought through.
Business Green 21st Oct 2014 read more »
The newly appointed Environment Secretary this week made her first major policy intervention in the green economy, with a statement that many regard as more aimed at winning back UKIP voters than having any meaningful impact on either the rural economy or the environment. Liz Truss told the Mail on Sunday that solar farms were “ugly”, and announced that Defra would ensure farmers who install photovoltaics on their land would no longer be eligible for direct payments under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) from January next year.
Business Green 21st Oct 2014 read more »
Environment secretary Liz Truss has cut solar farm’s subsidies saying they harm food production, but most UK solar farms successfully produce food as well. Karl Mathiesen investigates. London Greens councillor J enny Jones said Truss’s suggestion to the Mail on Sunday that orchards were being replaced by solar farms was “total nonsense”. Jones said: “This misguided attack by the environmentsecretary deliberately ignores the fact that the planning system is already there to prevent unsightly and overly dominant solar farms or their deployment on high-quality productive agricultural land. Where they do go ahead on poorer grade soils, planning conditions should ensure that they boost biodiversity and revert back to their original use when appropriate.”
Guardian 21st Oct 2014 read more »
New research reveals solar installations at US schools have expanded more than 1,000-fold over the past decade, slashing carbon emissions and energy costs in the process.
Business Green 21st Oct 2014 read more »
It would be ‘bizarre if Scotland was not to exploit the potential wealth of the large-scale shale gas deposits across the Central Belt’. This was a key answer provided to topical questions on Scottish energy issues at an expert panel debate at the first Heriot Watt University Energy Academy Showcase in Edinburgh recently. Prof. Gordon Hughes, professor of Economics at Edinburgh university, told an audience of more than 100 peers, students and energy sector representatives from across the Scottish energy spectrum: “Assuming there is sufficient quantities of shale, and that these are economically recoverable, it would be bizarre not to exploit this natural resource. I can’t think of many other countries around the world which are sitting on substantial wealth in oil and gas and which have chosen to simply walk away from this.
Scottish Energy News 22nd Oct 2014 read more »
The former chairman of the Environment Agency is to be paid £75,000 a year by the shale gas industry to work one day a week chairing a “task force” on the risks and benefits of fracking. Lord Smith of Finsbury, who stepped down from the agency last month, said the task force would be independent and “go some way to answering important questions and tackling legitimate concerns” about fracking. Asked if fracking should be allowed to take place while his task force was still considering the evidence and before it issued its final report, which is expected in the first half of 2016, he said: “I’m not going to answer that I’m afraid, because it is an entirely hypothetical question.” The task force is being advised by experts including Stephen Tindale, a former director of Greenpeace UK.
Times 22nd Oct 2014 read more »
Guardian 21st Oct 2014 read more »