Companies looking to build new nuclear power plants in the UK should seek to learn from the problems reported in Europe and the successes in China and South Korea in order to mitigate budget over-runs and delays. A new report from KPMG International has found that despite a reputation for spiraling project costs and delays, the nuclear power industry is experiencing a global resurgence as demand grows for low-cost, low-carbon power technologies. To capitalise on such a substantial opportunity, the industry, however, has some critical challenges to resolve. In particular, project owners and engineering contractors must employ new approaches for better project risk management in order to attract investment and ensure profitability.
KPMG 22nd Feb 2011 more >>
Electricity Market Reform
Drax, which will be penalised by higher prices for carbon emission allowances, is trying to restrict its pollution by burning biomass typically wood chippings or straw pellets with its coal, but Ms Thompson said that the costs of firing biomass at a certain point outweighed the incentives, meaning that Drax was burning only half the biomass that it could. It therefore releases about 1.25 million more tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than it might. Biomass receives a quarter of the green energy incentives given to wind energy and, according to Ms Thompson, reforms proposed by the Energy Secretary Chris Huhne to secure investment in low-carbon energy generation will mean windfalls for nuclear power stations.
Times 23rd Feb 2011 more >>
Letter from Marianne Birkby: Lord Clark of Windermere, a leading light in lobbying for the government’s U-turn over the forest sell-off, made a very rousing speech at Whinlatter last Saturday. Celebrities and NGOs have tripped over themselves in lining up to encourage people to support Saving the Forests. When asked about saving the forests and surrounding area from having a high-level nuclear dump beneath them, he replied that he is “fully supportive of geological disposal of high-level nuclear wastes in West Cumbria.”
Morning Star 22nd Feb 2011 more >>
The final substantial GDA quarterly report before we publish our conclusions on 30 June 2011. It provides an update on our work to assess the safety cases for the new nuclear power station designs and looks at the key challenges ahead. HSE’s main focus this last quarter has been on progressing the Step 4 assessments for both the Westinghouse AP1000 and the EDF and AREVA UK EPR. A number of meetings took place to agree with the Requesting Parties (RPs) what further information they will provide during the coming months, and which areas are likely to require further work beyond June 2011. On 18 October the Environment Agency reached a major milestone on the completion of its consultation on its GDA findings to date. Responses received have been published and are currently under consideration. We have not identified any showstoppers at this point, and subject to further progress on some key areas in the next few months we would expect to consider issuing an Interim Design Acceptance Confirmation (DAC) and Interim Statement of Design Acceptability (SoDA) for each design in June 2011.
HSE 22nd Feb 2011 more >>
A previous blog entry looked at the reasons for the predicted shortage of electricity generation in the UK by 2017. The main drivers are the (non-carbon, ironically) emissions limits placed on fossil fuel power plants, and the country’s ageing nuclear plants coming to the ends of their natural lives. Just to maintain the current demand for electricity, a further 25 gigawatts of capacity must be built by 2025, but since wind farms typically only provide 1/3 of their stated capacity and most of the new capacity is from wind energy, the government estimates that 43GW of new generating capacity is needed by 2020 and 60GW by 2025. This is a tall order – will the the requisite new electricity generation will be provided even if the Planning Act regime works perfectly?
Bircham Dyson Bell 21st Feb 2011 more >>
A collaboration agreement for the development of excellence in skills for the global nuclear energy industry has been signed between the USA’s Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) and the UK’s National Skills Academy for Nuclear.
World Nuclear News 22nd Feb 2011 more >>
David Wilson Homes has bought a 15ha brownfield site next to a science park in Oxfordshire for the development of 275 homes. The company, a subsidiary of Barratt Group, has bought Chilton Field from a joint venture between the UK Atomic Energy Authority and Goodman, which is developing the adjacent Harwell Oxford Campus, a science, technology and business park. The site has planning consent for 275 new homes, sports facilities and green open spaces. The brownfield Chilton Field redevelopment will enhance the provision of local housing for the community. The land was freed up for development in 2002 when the UK Atomic Energy Authority finished decontaminating the post-war nuclear research centre.
Property Week 22nd Feb 2011 more >>
Scottish leader Iain Gray outlined plans to have thousands of properties producing their own renewable energy if the party wins the election in May. He promised an initial target for 10,000 more homes in the next four years, with an ambition to make household and community renewables the standard by 2020. Mr Gray said the plan would reduce domestic fuel bills and create 300 jobs and 750 traineeships. During a visit to the Dunedin Canmore Housing Association regeneration project in Edinburgh, he said, “As well as cutting carbon emissions, insulating our homes will help us to eradicate fuel poverty. “Nobody in Scotland should be forced to choose between heating their home properly and putting food on the table. My ambition is to have more homes producing renewable energy than anywhere else in the UK.
Dundee Courier 22nd Feb 2011 more >>
Aberdeen Press and Journal 22nd Feb 2011 more >>
Herald 22nd Feb 2011 more >>
Areva will be required to spin off its uranium mining activities under the French government’s plans for a strategic partnership between the company and EDF. The forthcoming Atmea-1 reactor design and small reactors up to 300 MWe will also be targets for future development.
World Nuclear News 22nd Feb 2011 more >>
France launches nuclear industry overhaul. The overhaul also involves the setting up of a nuclear power strategic committee chaired by ric Besson, the energy minister, with Henri Proglio, the chief executive of electricity behemoth EDF, as his deputy. Their aim is to “strengthen relationships and partnerships between different actors in the nuclear industry”. The appointment is a fillip to state-owned EDF and reinforces its role in securing French nuclear business abroad. The council has also called on Areva, EDF and GDF Suez, France’s other leading power company, to add to their portfolio of reactors by co-operating in the development of the new mid-sized reactor. In a separate move the government has asked Areva to spin off its uranium mining arm into a separate subsidiary that could eventually be listed on the market.
FT 23rd Feb 2011 more >>
The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria have much in common. In the second half of the 20th century they were part of the Socialist Bloc dominated by the Soviet Union and, as members of the Comecon (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance), also a distribution market for Soviet industrial production. In all of these countries – with the exception of Poland – nuclear power plants were built during the 1970s and 1980s using the Soviet technology of the time. Specialists were also trained in the Soviet Union, and upon their return these individuals formed the basis of the nuclear intelligentsia. In all five countries the electricity sectors were controlled by state monopolies. After the collapse of the socialist system these monopolies were transformed into companies of various kinds, but the governments kept their majority stakes in them. The Czech Republic’s EZ, Poland’s PGE, Hungary’s MVM, Bulgaria’s NEK and Slovakia’s Slovensk elektr rne had no difficulty maintaining their dominant positions, which were not even threatened by the market liberalisation which followed EU accession. Competition could not challenge the transformed monopolies due to their exceptional starting position, and proponents of nuclear energy have maintained significant influence at all of these companies
Heinrich Boll 21st Feb 2011 more >>
While construction continues on a mixed oxide nuclear fuel plant at Savannah River, negotiations on where the fuel will be used remain in the early stages. The $4.8 billion Savannah River MOX Plant is being built by Shaw Areva MOX Services to combine 34 tonnes of ‘surplus’ plutonium oxide with uranium oxide to create fuel for conventional power reactors. Russia is disposing of an identical amount of plutonium through a bilateral arms reduction deal that eliminates explosive fuel from some 17,000 unwanted nuclear weapons.
World Nuclear News 21st Feb 2011 more >>
The Department of Energy spent $43 million in a failed effort to treat and re-package 28.5 cubic meters of radioactive sludge at the Hanford nuclear production site in Washington state according to a new report from the Energy Department’s Inspector General. The amount of sludge, 28.5 cubic meters, is about equal to the water that would fill a small backyard above-ground swimming pool.
CBS News 22nd Feb 2011 more >>
Failure to pursue a program for recycling spent nuclear fuel has put the U.S. far behind other countries and represents a missed opportunity to enhance the nation’s energy security and influence other countries, the former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Sunday.
Nuclear Power Daily 23rd Feb 2011 more >>
Saudi Arabia said Tuesday it signed an agreement with France for cooperation on the development of peaceful nuclear energy. The agreement, the first nuclear accord signed by the kingdom, “allows Saudi experts to study the French technology options, their financial requirements and implications for developing qualified national human resources,” according to an emailed joint statement. For Saudi Arabia, a booming population and developing economy are constraining the government’s ability to provide electricity and water, while keeping domestic demand for oil at bay. Nuclear energy is increasingly becoming the favored alternative, one that experts say could save more valuable crude for export and satiate local demand for power and water.
Wall Street Journal 22nd Feb 2011 more >>
Middle East Online 22nd Feb 2011 more >>
Kuwait’s Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah met his visiting UK counterpart David Cameron on the latest regional developments and several issues of mutual interest. Following the talks, two memos of understanding were inked between both sides on peaceful nuclear usage, technical business and trade cooperation.
Global Arab Network 22nd Feb 2011 more >>
David Cameron has voiced “cautious optimism” that the popular uprisings sweeping the Middle East would not see the rise of extremism while stressing that the outcome was vital to the UK’s trade and security interests. In a rare speech at the Kuwaiti parliament by a visiting foreign leader, the Prime Minister said the region was the “epicentre of momentous change”. “We will not standby and let Iran cast a nuclear shadow over this region”.
ITN 22nd Feb 2011 more >>
Independent (video) 22nd Feb 2011 more >>
Ukraine and the US have signed an agreement on nuclear security in Washington under which both the countries will cooperate to safeguard the vulnerable nuclear materials and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Energy Business Review 21st Feb 2011 more >>
As you would imagine, it’s not easy getting on board one of Britain’s nuclear submarines. And nor should it be. After all, these are pretty much the most powerfully destructive weapons on earth. I first approached the Ministry of Defence about making a programme on the future of Trident in the summer of 2009. Some 15 months, numerous meetings, e-mails and phone conversations later, I finally clambered on board HMS Victorious, one of Britain’s four “bomber” submarines, berthed at Faslane.
BBC 23rd Feb 2011 more >>
REDUCING Britain’s fleet of nuclear submarines would “risk” the effectiveness of the UK’s military deterrent, Defence Secretary Liam Fox has claimed. In what appears to be a toughening of his stance, Dr Fox said that the Trident nuclear programme needed the full fleet of four submarines at the Clyde Naval Base at Faslane.
Scotsman 23rd Feb 2011 more >>
Having now reviewed the status of the project for Greenpeace, I can only conclude that “like-for-like” Trident replacement remains firmly on track. You quote Sir Menzies Campbell, who sits on the new Trident commission, as saying: “This is the first time in a very long time that we have had a wholesale review of nuclear weapons policy.” However, work on the successor submarine programme to replace the Trident missile system has begun. A joint US-UK effort to design a common missile compartment for each country’s respective replacement submarine programme commenced in 2008 and the UK has already spent over £200m on upfront engineering design activity. In 2007 the MoD approved a budget of £309.5m for the concept work on successor submarines – and defence secretary Liam Fox has confirmed that between April 2007 and June 2010 nearly twice this amount was spent, some £570m.
Guardian 23rd Feb 2011 more >>