Plans to usher in a new era of nuclear energy by building the countrys first reactor for 20 years in Somerset have been cast into doubt amid concerns over the Governments energy policy. Centrica formerly British Gas has threatened to pull out of a joint agreement with French company EDF Energy to construct the Hinkley Point C twin reactor. Executives at Centrica, which holds a 20 per cent stake in the project, have warned Whitehall officials that the plan hangs by a thread and could be scrapped without assurances on the future price of nuclear-generated electricity.
This is Gloucestershire 23rd April 2012 more >>
“Our position on nuclear new-build has not changed and we are still working towards taking a final investment decision on Hinkley Point by the end of the year,” a Centrica spokesman said, responding to press reports over the weekend that the company could withdraw from its project to build a new nuclear power plant with EDF Energy at Hinkley Point in Somerset. There are a number of areas where we still need absolute clarity, such as cost, market framework and planning approval and permits,” he added.
Platts 23rd April 2012 more >>
Christopher Pincher MP: Last week Centrica signalled that it may withdraw from its joint venture to build a new fleet of nuclear power stations. The week before, RWE and E.ON announced that they are not proceeding with their plans to rebuild the Wylfa station on Anglesey. With all but one of our nuclear stations due to shut down by 2023, the long term future of the nuclear industry in Britain is now in doubt. If that is not a wake-up call to government, then set alongside the closure of up to one third of our coal-fired stations by 2015 in order to meet our carbon reduction targets, and the failure of CCS to take off at Longannet, this latest news should set alarm bells ringing in Whitehall. There is already a growing recognition that on-shore wind does not provide a free passport to clean energy. Fundamentally, nuclear investors must be given certainty. Certainty that an Energy Bill will be a centre-piece of the Queens Speech and will be introduced quickly; certainty the contracts issued for clean energy like nuclear will be long term; certainty that those contracts will offer a reasonable rate of return; certainty that the post-Fukushima security review will not lead to unsustainable construction costs in a country where the industry has one of the best safety records in the world.
Conservative Home 24th April 2012 more >>
Director of GeneWatch Dr Helen Wallace will be in Kendal next month to give a free lecture at Kendal Museum, part of the Rock Solid? Expo art and events exploring the government plan to try to contain nuclear wastes in Cumbrian geology. The exhibition and events have taken their name from Rock Solid? a scientific report written by Dr Wallace (PDF link), an overview of the status of research and scientific evidence regarding the underground disposal of highly radioactive wastes, which in Cumbria would in all probablity include the disposal of waste from the Heysham power stations.
Virtual Lancaster 23rd April 2012 more >>
Nuclear Engineering Services (NES) has completed installation of flask leak test equipment (FLTE) at the Dounreay fast reactor facility in Scotland. The contract has been delivered for Dounreay Site Restoration, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Babcock Dounreay Partnership, a consortium of Babcock International Group, CH2MHILL and URS.
Energy Business Review 24th April 2012 more >>
HARTLEPOOLS nuclear station will be helping to power the Olympic Games. Eighty per cent of the low carbon electricity sourced to supply the Games will come from EDF Energys existing nuclear fleet, including Hartlepool. The rest will come from renewable energy. EDF is an official partner of London 2012 and the companys chief executive Vincent de Rivaz said: Im very proud that we will be powering London 2012 with a supply package that is backed by nuclear and renewable electricity.
Hartlepool Mail 23rd April 2012 more >>
Executives from big energy companies are set to be called in front of an influential committee of MPs amid concerns that Britains nuclear renaissance is under threat. Eon and RWE, the German utilities, announced last month they were selling their Horizon joint venture to build nuclear reactors in Britain, in part because of financial difficulties caused by Germanys retreat from atomic power after the Fukushima disaster in Japan. The FT reported on Saturday that Centrica has also threatened to pull out of a separate consortium with EDF Energy due to uncertainty over the governments energy policy. Tim Yeo, chairman of the energy select committee, said it was ominous that no buyer had come forward to purchase Horizon. He also warned he was very alarmed by the threat of withdrawal from Centrica, which is planning a new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset in a joint venture with EDF Energy. Senior figures from the four companies as well as Charles Hendry, energy minister, are expected to be called to give evidence after the committee has met on Tuesday. Mr Yeo warned that the electoral success of François Hollande, the Socialist challenger who won the first round of the French presidential election on Sunday, was a risk factor for Britains nuclear programme given his aim of reducing the share of atomic energy in France. EDF is majority-owned by the French state.
FT 23rd April 2012 more >>
Bernard Jenkin, the Conservative MP who chairs the Public Administration committee, said: There is a failure in this government to think strategically. Mr Jenkin mentioned problems that have hampered ministers in the past few years that his committee thought could have been avoided by better long-term planning. Weve had unrealistic objectives on renewables, chaos in nuclear power.”
FT 23rd April 2012 more >>
The commander of the Royal Navys newest nuclear-powered submarine was taking a shower minutes before it ran aground, an official inquiry has concluded. The 24-page report says Commander Andy Coles was spotted returning to his cabin as HMS Astute, the UKs most advanced hunter-killer sub, headed into a sandbank. The embarrassing detail is included in the inquiry which found that a catalogue of errors contributed to the beaching of the £1billion submarine off the west coast of Scotland on October 22, 2010.
Daily Mail 24th April 2012 more >>
The Bee 24th April 2012 more >>
STV 23rd April 2012 more >>
The nuclear reactor which drives the propulsion system is roughly the size of a dustbin but will last the 30-year life of the boat without needing to be replaced. But there are some other big numbers to bear in mind – the first three Astute class submarines (HMS Astute, Ambush and Artful) cost the Government £3.8bn, according to last year’s National Audit Office report, compared with an initial contract for £2.58bn. That report also showed the project was 47 months late, with an original in-service date for Astute of May 2005.
Telegraph 23rd April 2012 more >>
North Korea has almost completed preparations for a third nuclear test and has the capacity to carry it out “soon,” a senior source with close ties to Pyongyang and Beijing told Reuters.
Reuters 24th April 2012 more >>
George Cowan, who died on 20 April aged 92, was a chemist who influenced everything from the Manhattan Project and the hunt for evidence of the Soviet Union’s first nuclear tests to the Santa Fe Opera. After graduate studies at Princeton, Cowan continued his nuclear research as part of the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb. Cowan was a troubleshooter for the effort at various research sites around the country and was among the few people who had knowledge of the bomb’s separate components.
Independent 24th April 2012 more >>
The renewable energy industry supports 110,000 jobs in the UK and could support 400,000 by 2020, a report says. The Renewable Energy Association (REA) and consultants Innovas conclude that the industry is worth £12.5bn per year to the UK economy. Last week the European Commission said low-carbon generation and energy efficiency could generate five million jobs across the EU by 2020. The report follows two opinion polls showing public support for renewables.
BBC 23rd April 2012 more >>
Caroline Lucas MP: The UK is the richest country in Europe in renewable energy potential, but the new focus on gas threatens to displace investment in those renewables, making it even harder to achieve our targets and nurture this jobs-rich sector. A number of studies have shown the overall climate impact of shale gas to be as great as that of coal. If carbon capture and storage technology is not in place, burning just 20% of the gas which Cuadrilla claims to have found in its licence area in Lancashire would generate 15% of the UK’s total CO2 allowance to 2050. And despite claims from gas lobbyists that shale gas will bring down energy bills, we know from Ofgem and DECC that recent energy bill rises resulted mainly from high gas prices. Analysis by Deutsche Bank concludes that the impact of shale on bills would actually be low.
Guardian 23rd April 2012 more >>
Cllr Audrey Doig: Where is the coherence in UK government energy policy? You have recently published three important energy policy articles that show the extensive confusion there is with the government’s energy policy. Late last week you reported that the proposed “green deal’ for the promised renewable energy and energy efficiency revolution is under threat of being shelved. Then you reported that the proposed new nuclear build utility for Sellafield, GDF Suez, is threatening to pull out of the project unless the government effectively gives it more price guarantees (at taxpayers’ expense, I’ve no doubt). And finally you reported that the highly dubious and environmentally risky shale gas experiments will get the green light, despite, as you accurately report, scores of alarming issues like mini-earthquakes, water contamination and damaged natural landscapes. It doesn’t make me feel confident that there is a coherent energy policy in the UK? What is clear to me is that the only safe, sustainable, clean, job-friendly and environmentally sound energy policy must be the development of a wide UK renewable energy mix, enhanced commitment to energy efficiency and microgeneration projects, coupled with international co-operation to create a European renewable super-grid . I urge the government to hold a strategic energy review as a matter of urgency and bring environmental common sense into its policy, rather than short-term economic expediency.
Guardian 23rd April 2012 more >>