The World Nuclear Industry Status Report provides an account of an industry in decline, writes Jonathon Porritt – with rising operating costs and an ever-shrinking share of world energy production, while the sector loses the race for investment and new generating capacity to fast growing renewable energy technologies. Every year, the World Nuclear Industry Status Report reminds me why those in the Green movement who think nuclear has a major role to play in securing a low-carbon world are completely, dangerously off their collective trollies. The Status Report is not an anti-nuclear polemic. Over the years, its authors (Mycle Schneider and Antony Froggatt) have assiduously built its reputation for dispassionate reporting on the state of the industry, presented as objectively and non-judgmentally as possible. It uses a wide range of sources (academic, industry, avowedly pro-nuclear and avowedly anti-nuclear) to maintain longitudinal datasets going back over decades to tell it as it is – in contrast to all the froth of partisan propaganda. On both sides. The Report digs down deep into the situation in Japan (as troubling as ever, whatever the self-justifying protestations of George Monbiot – the man who, mystifyingly, ‘fell in love’ with nuclear power because of Fukushima – and others), in China, at Hinkley Point, and in the context of a whole range of “potential newcomer countries”. As I worked my way through all this, page by page, it’s all but impossible for me to understand how any thoughtful, intelligent environmentalist could possibly suppose either that: a so-called nuclear renaissance is ever going to happen; or even in the improbable circumstances that it did, how it could possibly deliver the kind of safe, secure, low-carbon energy the world needs so desperately. And the longer they hang on to these fantasies, the more damage they do, sowing confusion and doubt, distracting attention from the business of driving forward with the renewables-efficiency-storage alternative.
Jonathon Porritt 25th Aug 2014 read more »
The following letter was sent to all the national papers – only the Daily Mail picked it up (and edited it – original below). Despite there being no solution to the problem of what to do with radioactive waste our leaders seem hell bent on “the biggest nuclear development in Europe” here in Cumbria. We recently walked 5 miles around part of the massive area being proposed. We saw and photographed roe deer, sedge warbler and followed ancient tracks criss crossing the area. From conversations with people we met it was clear that we are being led up the garden path into thinking that Moorside is somehow already part of the expanding Sellafield site.
Radiation Free Lakeland 25th Aug 2014 read more »
Nearly 3,000 people have signed a petition calling on the Government to scrap plans to build a huge new nuclear reactor in Cumbria. A total of 2,824 people have voiced their concerns online at the proposed plans – dubbed Europe’s largest nuclear project – to build another nuclear site in west Cumbria. The £10bn plant at Moorside will be built next to the county’s existing nuclear plant Sellafield, should it get the go-ahead. The plans have become a major talking point in the area with opponents highlighting environmental issues while supporters claim it could create up to 21,000 jobs. Those behind the petition, Radiation Free Lakeland, say that building a new site would make the area more dangerous.
Carlisle News and Star 25th Aug 2014 read more »
Sometime in May or June next year — in all likelihood after the general election on May 7 — the Competition and Markets Authority will publish the initial findings of its investigation into the energy market. It is an indication of the task facing the authority that analysts are not remotely confident about predicting the outcome. Options range from the market being given a clean bill of health to the authority insisting on a break-up of the big energy companies. Both extremes appear equally plausible.
Times 26th Aug 2014 read more »
The Big Six energy companies have previously fended off periodic calls for a competition investigation by warning that it could lead to the lights being turned off. They argue that the uncertainty caused by a lengthy investigation would scare off investment in new power stations and wind farms, which in turn could scupper the government’s renewable energy targets and plunge the country in darkness. As lobbying tactics go, it was crude but highly effective. This time, the mood among Big Six has turned to wearied resignation and they welcomed the investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority as a chance to “clear the air”. The truth is that investment dried up months before the CMA was even a glint in the eye of Ed Davey, the energy secretary. Power generators were already struggling to respond to increasing intervention from the state. Most gas plants are loss-making because of a slump in wholesale electricity prices. The rapid expansion in heavily subsidised wind and solar farms means that gas plants operate only at night, or when the wind does not blow.
Times 26th Aug 2014 read more »
The results of a three-year project investigating what a purely renewable power supply would look like have been published. The findings could be a roadmap for the coming years bar unforeseen technical breakthroughs. The visualization is nothing short of astonishing – see for yourself. And if you don’t speak German, you might want to use two screens, one with that website and one with this one because all I am going to do today is show you how to navigate the interactive graphics. In a future post, hopefully tomorrow, I will take a look at some of the underlying assumptions. Basically, we are looking at an hour-by-hour extrapolation of current data for a future scenario with a 100 percent renewable power supply. The project is called “combined power plant” (Kombikraftwerk), a sort of virtual power plant consisting of solar, wind, and biomass with ancillary storage & generation facilities, control technology, and power lines. We originally wrote about the project briefly last year.
Renew Economy 26th Aug 2014 read more »
Japan – Fukushima
The three molten cores at Fukushima plant, each weighing a hundred tons, are so radioactive, that no one can approach them, including robots, which melt down immediately, Dr. Helen Caldicott, the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize nominee, physician and anti-nuclear advocate, states in an interview to Radio VR: “And no one ever will, and the contamination will go on for hundreds of years,” Ms. Caldicott cites top physicists as saying.
RIA Novosti 23rd Aug 2014 read more »
A Japanese court has ruled that Fukushima nuclear operator Tokyo Electric was responsible for a woman’s suicide after the March 2011 disaster and must pay compensation, in a landmark ruling that could set a precedent for other claims against the utility. The civil suit by Mikio Watanabe claimed that Tokyo Electric Power Co Inc (Tepco) was to blame for the July 2011 death of his wife, Hamako, 58, who doused herself in kerosene and set herself on fire after falling into depression.
Reuters 26th Aug 2014 read more »
For the first time ever, a nuclear power plant was forced to close in South Korea, after heavy rain. The Gori-2 nuclear power plant was shutdown as a precaution because of the rain and flooding according to the Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co. One of the buildings which takes in seawater to cool down turbine steam had taken in too much water. The plant, located in Busan, South Korea’s second largest city, has been in operation since 1983.
Post 26th Aug 2014 read more »
A senior federal nuclear expert is urging regulators to shut down California’s last operating nuclear plant until they can determine whether the facility’s twin reactors can withstand powerful shaking from any one of several nearby earthquake faults. Michael Peck, who for five years was Diablo Canyon’s lead on-site inspector, says in a 42-page, confidential report that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is not applying the safety rules it set out for the plant’s operation. The document, which was obtained and verified by The Associated Press, does not say the plant itself is unsafe. Instead, according to Peck’s analysis, no one knows whether the facility’s key equipment can withstand strong shaking from those faults – the potential for which was realized decades after the facility was built.
Guardian 25th Aug 2014 read more »
To lose one power station may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness. But to lose THREE? Even Oscar Wilde would struggle to find a polite way to describe this most improbable – and by now, alarming – situation in Belgium. Belgium has lost more than half of its nuclear power capacity after two reactors were shut down in May when cracks appeared in the steel casings surrounding them. Earlier this month, another large plant was closed after an oil leak. That incident has now, somewhat mysteriously, been blamed on sabotage. It emerged this week that none of the three nuclear power stations is likely to be repaired before winter. Cue the nation’s media cranking out doomsday stories about possible power outages in the depths of winter, with entire communities left without heat and plunged in darkness.
Wall St Journal 22nd Aug 2014 read more »
Iran is “in the process” of completing measures on transparency in its nuclear research that were agreed with the U.N. atomic agency, a senior Iranian official was quoted as saying, suggesting Tehran had at least partly met a Monday deadline for cooperation.
Reuters 25th Aug 2014 read more »
BAE Systems has begun to demolish buildings in Barrow as part of a £300m redevelopment programme that will transform the way it builds submarines. Demolition specialists are in the process of flattening certain disused buildings in what is the first significant phase of activity in the large-scale eight-year programme. The site’s old foundry and boiler shop are the first to be demolished, and it is anticipated that more than 90 per cent of materials such as timber, bricks, sandstone and metals will be recycled. The demolition of the site’s old foundry and boiler shop will pave the way for new facilities that will house pressure hull units ready for shot blast and paint, and the integration of submarine equipment modules.
Westmorland Gazette 25th Aug 2014 read more »
Within a few decades, large-scale, centralized electricity generation from fossil fuels could be a thing of the past in Europe. That’s the word from investment bank UBS, which just released a new report anticipating a three pronged assault from solar power, battery technology, and electric vehicles that will render obsolete traditional power generation by large utilities that rely on coal or natural gas. According to Renew Economy, which picked up the report, the tipping point will arrive around 2020. At that point, investing in a home solar system with a 20-year life span, plus some small-scale home battery technology and an electric car, will pay for itself in six to eight years for the average consumer in Germany, Italy, Spain, and much of the rest of Europe. Crucially, this math holds even without any government subsidies for solar power.
Climate Progress 24th Aug 2014 read more »
The Labour party believes the rules covering fracking – or hydraulic fracturing – for gas are not tight enough and will attempt to strengthen regulation of the controversial drilling method by tabling a series of amendments to the infrastructure bill in the House of Lords on Tuesday. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) says there are adequate safeguards covering drilling for shale gas under existing rules or voluntary agreements. However, Tom Greatrex, the shadow energy minister, believes current agreements do not go far enough. The opposition wants to see well-by-well disclosure of the fracking fluid being pumped into the well, baseline monitoring of methane levels in the groundwater and environmental impact assessments for all fracking sites.
Guardian 25th Aug 2014 read more »
Forget all the estimates about the reserves left in the North Sea; it’s nearly impossible to predict, writes Peter Jones. So, how much ruddy oil is out there under Scottish waters? In one very real sense, the answer to that question doesn’t matter a whole lot. For the important question is this: how much more oil can be extracted at a profit? And to that question, anybody who tells you that they know the answer is a liar. Moreover, there are umpteen reasons why it is stupid to confidently assert that 24 billion barrels of oil will be produced from Scottish waters over the next 30 years. They won’t be.
Scotsman 26th Aug 2014 read more »
Time is running out for us. We have to speed up. My idea begins with the publication of a declaration in an international newspaper, signed by more than a hundred of the winners of the world’s environmental prizes, saying why we believe the global community can no longer delay meaningful action on global warming, and calling on foundations and philanthropists to throw at least a part of their endowments into the fight while there is still time.
Indie Gogo (accesed) 26th Aug 2014 read more »