French state-controlled utility EDF will delay the final investment decision on its project to build two nuclear plants in Britain until September, French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said in a newspaper interview. Macron, who had told parliament last month the decision on the 18 billion pound (22.60 billion euro) Hinkley Point project in Britain would be taken in early May, told the Journal du Dimanche three conditions were necessary for it to be given the go-ahead. The strengthening of EDF’s financial situation, which would be assured by a 4 billion euro ($4.5 billion) capital increase announced on Friday, a consultation of trade unions, and unspecified measures to ensure the operational execution of the plants’ construction.
Reuters 23rd April 2016 read more »
AFP 24th April 2016 read more »
France has thrown its support behind EDF, the French electricity company, and its plan to build the £18 billion nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, Somerset, by supplying a €3 billion lifeline. President Hollande’s administration has agreed to put in the money towards a proposed €4 billion (£3 billion) cash-raising the company is proposing by issuing new shares. EDF said last night that the confirmation of the fundraising made it possible for the company to proceed with investments including Hinkley Point C by putting it on a “solid financial footing”.
Times 23rd April 2016 read more »
Another day, another reason why that nuclear Dumbo, Hinkley Point C, might thankfully never fly. The key promoter of the project, France’s EDF, was yesterday again in talks with the French government over getting the £18 billion project off the ground — such a no-brainer, too, that it’s already sparked director resignations and warnings from EDF’s own engineers not to push the Hinkley Point button.Well, now, thanks to Greenpeace and renewable energy supplier Ecotricity, we have another barrier to the insane project: state aid issues. The pair have commissioned a legal opinion from three barristers from London’s Monckton Chambers, who persuasively argue that just about any financial support from President Hollande will fall foul of EU rules. And it’s tough to see how EDF will do it otherwise, given its debts of almost €35 billion dwarf its €23.5 billion market value. The barristers reckon any of four ways of backing the company would count as state aid: taking dividends as equity, a direct recapitalisation, getting a state-owned bank to provide backing or propping up EDF’s French operations. Try any of them and, not only do Greenpeace and Ecotricity have grounds for a legal challenge, but EDF might have to “repay billions of euros to the French government . . . and withdraw from the Hinkley project”.
Times 23rd April 2016 read more »
A report in the Independent says that the EDF Board of Directors has agreed to undertake discussions with the company consultative council before taking a decision, a process which is likely to take a long time ie until next year. However this could well be a cover for the numerous problems facing the project, not least EDF’s own parlous financial position and the fact that it needs the French Government to bail it out even without going ahead with the Hinkley C project.There has been a game of ‘pass the decision’ to abandon a project that no independent financial consultant would come within a light year of recommending for the go-ahead. The French Government has been faced with what seems to many to be the ludicrous prospect of heavily subsidising a power station to supply the British with electricity. This is despite the fact that the British themselves have promised to pay EDF around £100 per MWh in current prices for 35 years with the British Treasury agreeing to guarantee a £17 billion loan for the project! It is not as if even such a project could be a ‘loss leader’ for the French. Two versions of the same (EPR) plant design have been spectacular construction disasters already in Finland and France. Various engineers and managers, company unions and employee shareholders have pleaded for the project to be abandoned or put in deep freeze, and last month the Chief Financial Officer of EDF resigned in protest at the apparent determination of the EDF leadership to proceed with the project.
Dave Toke’s Blog 22nd April 2016 read more »
At a meeting at President Francois Hollande’s palace on Wednesday, the government did not agree on whether to give extra financial support for EDF, which is weighed down by 37 billion euros (£28.8 billion) of net debt and struggles with record-low power prices. French media have reported that Macron is not in favor of recapitalizing EDF now, because investments for Hinkley Point and a 50 billion euro upgrade of France’s nuclear reactors are several years away.
Business Insider 22nd April 2016 read more »
Campaigners are holding a protest walk against plans to build pylons across the Lake District National Park. The 50m (150ft) pylons would run from Carlisle to Heysham, Lancashire, to connect a new £10bn nuclear power plant at Moorside, Sellafield, to the grid. Power Without Pylons and Friends of the Lake District say the National Grid is “ignoring” demands for the cables to go underground in “sensitive landscapes”. The National Grid said it “fully recognises the importance” of the area. The campaign walk is taking place from Black Combe where the pylons will be visible, down to the National Park’s costal boundary and across the mouth of Duddon.
BBC 23rd April 2016 read more »
Nuclear power station staff battled to save a colleague who hanged himself in a store room. Steven Tull was still alive when he was found at the decommissioning Dungeness A but died later in hospital, an inquest heard.
Kent Messenger 23rd April 2016 read more »
French utility EDF will extend the depreciation period for its nuclear plants this year, its CEO said in a newspaper interview, an accounting move that will free up cash for costly investment projects in France and Britain. “By the closing of our first-half results, we will draw the accounting consequences of our intention to extend the lifespan of our existing nuclear plants beyond 40 years,” EDF CEO Jean-Bernard Levy said in Saturday’s Le Figaro newspaper. EDF had said before it intended to extend the lifespan of its French nuclear plants to 50 or 60 years, beyond the 40 years they were initially built for. Energy Minister Segolene Royal said in February that the government was willing to give the go-ahead for such a move. But French nuclear watchdog ASN is the only authority allowed to grant such an extension, and it has said a decision on the matter would not come before 2018-2019. To make the accounting change, which would automatically boost EDF’s profits, the company must convince its auditors that there is a good chance of the extension being granted.
Reuters 23rd April 2016 read more »
Thyroid cancer is still being diagnosed in children today, following the disaster 30 years ago. As the power plant core exploded, a volatile isotope of Iodine was pumped into the air – Iodine-131. This iodine can be inhaled, or ingested, and when it rains, it is deposited on the ground and can stay there for up to eight days. While remaining there, it could be ingested by animals as they eat grass. Subsequently, when humans eat these animals – cows, or sheep etc. – they ingest the iodine, too. “The thyroid needs iodine – it’s an essential part of our diet,” Gerry Thomas, expert in the molecular pathology of cancer of Imperial College London, told IBTimes UK. “The problem is, iodine’s incredibly rare. So when there are lots of it, the thyroid quite literally sucks it up.” She says that following the Chernobyl disaster, there were huge amounts of radioactive iodine in the environment, and those living in the surrounding area were badly affected.
IB Times 23rd April 2016 read more »
Eerie ghost town scenes of Chernobyl 30 years on from radioactive nuclear catastrophe.
Daily Star 23rd April 2016 read more »
Standing 100 yards from the husk of Chernobyl’s Reactor Number 4, the click-click-click of the Geiger counter becomes alarmingly insistent. One step closer and it is beeping and flashing. Our guide gives a reassuring smile. “It’s fine,” she says. But she knows we know she would say that. Soon, we are back on the bus and driving away from the Vladimir Ilyich Lenin Power Station, better known as Chernobyl. When I first visited, two years after the world’s worst nuclear accident, it took weeks of negotiating with the Soviet authorities to gain access to the plant. Today, busloads of visitors arrive on an almost daily basis. For less than £100, the adventurous can take a one-day tour of the so-called “dead zone”, the contaminated 10km circle drawn around Chernobyl after the accident in the early hours of 26 April 1986. Holidaymakers rubber-necking the scenes of catastrophes used to be called “disaster tourists”. Today, those helping travellers to beat a path to Chernobyl, Fukushima or Auschwitz prefer to talk of adventure tourism. The Ukrainian authorities refer euphemistically to “education” rather than “tourism”, mindful of accusations they are profiting from tragedy.
Guardian 24th April 2016 read more »
Czech Republic – Radwaste
Hundreds of residents in seven municipalities held protest events on Saturday expressing opposition to plans for the Czech Republic in the coming years to begin building a deep geological nuclear waste repository. The country’s Radioactive Waste Depository Authority is aiming to conduct geological surveys in all seven areas to assess suitability. Protestors on Saturday held sports events and one of the towns said it was withdrawing its representatives from talks with the authority, on the grounds it had misrepresented their position. The protest comes only a few days before the world marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.
Radio Prague 23rd April 2016 read more »
Environment Minister Segolene Royal has said that France’s oldest nuclear power plant, scheduled for closure in 2018, could be turned into a factory producing electric cars or batteries.
Machinery Market 23rd April 2016 read more »
Belgium’s nuclear authority has said its power plants are safe after calls by Germany to shut down two aging reactors. But critics say details are lacking – and point to a conflict of interest. With doubts about the safety of Belgium’s nuclear reactors rife among neighboring countries, and the threat of attacks on its nuclear sites still a valid concern, the news that one of the country’s disputed reactors had once again shut down unexpectedly on Thursday wasn’t encouraging. Late in the afternoon, utilities operator Engie Electrabel announced that the 34-year-old Doel 3 reactor near the city of Antwerp, close to the border with the Netherlands, had automatically shut down following a standard test – “normal procedure if there is an anomaly,” according to a plant spokesperson. The Belga news agency said the outage was expected to last for 24 hours.
Deutsche Welle 21st April 2016 read more »
Many of us have signed up with energy companies that offer 100% renewable electricity, so why not switch to a gas tariff that also promises to be carbon neutral? Energy firm Good Energy is hoping to tempt green households to do exactly that. This week the Chippenham-based firm started offering a domestic gas tariff that will allow customers to claim their gas usage produces no overall net carbon. Launched to coincide with the Paris climate change agreement signing yesterday, Good Energy’s “green gas” tariff will include 6% biomethane, produced in the UK from organic matter including manure and even sewage. The move makes it the latest supplier to offer green gas – produced from the 300 or so anaerobic digesters dotted around the UK, a small number of which directly feed the biogas they produce into the national grid. Good Energy says the overwhelming majority of its 39,000 gas customers will be automatically moved to the tariff. Other emissions produced by customers will be offset through carbon-reduction schemes that support local communities in Malawi, Vietnam and Nepal. After electricity, biogas is seen as the next step towards green energy, as more anaerobic digestion sites open up.
Guardian 23rd April 2016 read more »
CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Does the Committee on Climate Change want to blow us all up? Some publicity has alighted on the latest brilliant idea from the “greenies” as to how we can comply with the Climate Change Act by “decarbonising” our economy. Ofgem paid Â£300,000 for a study suggesting that, instead of cooking with CO2-emitting natural gas, we should switch to carbon-free hydrogen. A Â£2 billion pilot project for Leeds would show how natural gas, or methane, could be converted to hydrogen by piping away all its nasty CO2 to be buried in holes under the North Sea.
Telegraph 23rd April 2016 read more »
Renewables – solar
Installation artist Olafur Eliasson was born in Copenhagen in 1967 to Icelandic parents. He is best known for creating a giant sun in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in 2003, viewed by more than 2 million people, and for making four dramatic waterfalls in New York harbour in 2008. In 2012, he launched Little Sun solar-powered lamps for areas of the globe with no electricity (though they have also proved popular at music festivals in the developed world). This month, he releases the Little Sun Charge, which uses solar energy to power mobile phones.
Guardian 24th April 2016 read more »
There are fresh fears about fracking in Scotland’s central belt after scientists in America discovered dangerous levels of toxic ‘gender-bender’ chemicals downstream from a fracking site. Researchers from the University of Missouri found hormone-disrupting chemicals in surface water near a fracking waste water disposal facility at Fayetteville in West Virginia. The concentrations were high enough to damage wildlife and threaten human health, they said. Experts and environmentalists warn that the US findings expose the risks that millions would face in Scotland were the fracking industry’s plans to be given the go-ahead. This is, however, denied by the industry. Companies, led by INEOS, which runs petrochemical plants at Grangemouth, have plans to frack hugh swathes of Scotland around Glasgow, Edinburgh, Falkirk and Dunfermline. They want to create large drilling fields to hydraulically fracture underground rocks to extract shale gas for public use. But their ambitions have been temporarily thwarted by a Scottish Government moratorium on development while health and environmental impacts are assessed. The SNP election manifesto published last week promised that fracking would not be allowed “unless it can be proved beyond any doubt that it will not harm our environment, communities or public health.”
Sunday Herald 24th April 2016 read more »