Britain’s multi-billion pound nuclear building programme could face long delays because of cutbacks at EDF Energy’s parent company in France. The company has still not confirmed it will go ahead with the work and it now has revised the decision to ‘the earliest possible date’. Confirmation is not expected until March at the earliest, if at all. Delays had been caused by issues negotiating agreement with the British Government over price guarantees. But now the parent company, which is state-owned, is under pressure from the French government to cut costs. Details will be made known when the group releases its full-year earnings in February. EDF chief financial officer Thomas Piquemal said the firm would prioritise French investment in the year ahead, raising the possibility of a delay in its nuclear projects in Britain.
Mail on Sunday 23rd Dec 2012 more »
French electricity giant EDF, the engineer, constructor and operator of the Areva-designed EPR nuclear reactor (F3) being built in Flamanville, northern France, has announced a steep hike in the cost of the reactor, from an initial €3.3 billion in 2005 to a dizzying €8.5 billion this year. A revised estimate issued two years ago had put the cost at €6.5 billion. Work on the reactor is already behind schedule by four years and optimistic estimates say it could go on stream in 2016 at the earliest with costs expected to rise even further by then. These announcements pose a dilemma for India, which plans to buy six of the massive 1650 MW reactors to be built in Jaitapur, Maharashtra. Normally, the first of a series turns out to be the most expensive since it is the first project to be translated from paper to concrete reality and costs tend to decrease as the equipment becomes tried, tested and streamlined. In the case of EPR, however, that logic appears to have been turned on its head. Flamanville (F3) is not the first but the second of the series to be built, the first being Olkioutou in Finland, which is also running several years behind schedule and is expected to start operating in 2014. Not a single EPR of the four being built is currently operational, although Areva keeps assuring the Indian government that the two under construction in China, Taishan I and II, are “running at cost and on schedule”. Not that surprising, considering there are 9000 Chinese workers doing 10-hour shifts, seven days a week. But the Chinese appear to be on track also because they fought hard and obtained a total transfer of technology. Not so India, which refused this option. Therefore, the engineer/contractor mix under the overarching umbrella of the NPCIL remains fuzzy. What is worrying in the EPR story is not just the roll-on effect the huge jump in cost will have on the Indian purchase but the massive challenges posed by the complexity of design, construction and maintenance.
The Hindu 22nd Dec 2012 more »
Electricite de France on Tuesday declined to comment on a report of a probe into its recent partnership with a Chinese utility to develop a new type of nuclear reactor. EDF had said in November that the agreement with China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corporation Holding GDNCP.UL was to develop a concept for a 1,000-MW reactor. This would be cheaper and smaller than the 1,600-MW EPR reactor blamed for the loss of a landmark project in Abu Dhabi in 2009.
Reuters 25th Dec 2012 more »
This report covers the Structural Integrity Level 4 meeting on 18 September 2012 as part of a planned intervention to maintain regular contact with EDF Energy Nuclear Generation Limited (NGL) to review progress in the management of structural integrity issues affecting, or with the potential to affect, nuclear safety at Sizewell B. Attention is focussed on the reactor coolant system boundary and components with a required high confidence in defect tolerance. International operational experience (OPEX) is monitored to provide forewarning of potential material degradation mechanisms.
ONR (accessed) 26th Dec 2012 more »
The Chapelcross nuclear plant in Scotland has reached another milestone, with the complete defueling of the third of its four reactors. The nuclear power station located near the town of Annan in Dumfries and Galloway in south west Scotland, stopped producing power in 2004. After receiving the formal permission from the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) in July 2008 to begin defuelling of the plant, the first flask was sent to Sellafield for reprocessing in April 2009.
Energy Business Review 24th Dec 2012 more »
The Government is considering a dramatic increase in nuclear power generation through the use of mini-reactors. The plants – the height of a three-storey building – would create enough power to light a small town and would be six times cheaper to build than the huge new power stations being planned. Next month, the Department of Energy and Climate Change will publish a long-term strategy for nuclear power. The Government is keen for Britain to become a world leader in constructing such plants. But as we lack the research required, finance ministers are encouraging scientists at the National Nuclear Laboratory, headquartered in Sellafield, Cumbria, to collaborate on international projects into small modular reactors (SMRs).
Mail on Sunday 8th Dec 2012 more »
The International Uranium Film Festival is looking for movies, documentaries and image or industrial films about nuclear energy and uranium mining. The Uranium Film Festival is based in Brazil and has travelling festivals in other countries. It is dedicated to all films about nuclear energy, uranium mining and radioactivity and nuclear safety. “We started 2011 in Rio de Janeiro and have been also in Portugal and Germany already. Now in January 2013 we are in India.” For the next, the 3rd International Uranium Film Festival of Rio de Janeiro scheduled for May 2013, the festival also invites Nuclear or Uranium companies, institutions and all NGOs working on nuclear issues to send their films – old and new – about all nuclear or radioactive issues to the festival. Deadline for the film entry 31.01.2013. More information at the website.
Uranium Film Festival 26th Dec 2012 more »
Asian countries are closer to winning a bid to build Turkey’s second nuclear power plant near the Black Sea city of Sinop, the Turkish energy minister said on Tuesday, in a signal that Canada was no longer in the running.
France24 25th Dec 2012 more »
It is now more important than ever that we take advantage of fortuitous diplomatic circumstances and seek a deal with Iran, one which both addresses our basic security concerns and allows Iran to come away with dignity. The window for nuclear diplomacy between Iran and the west has been open since Barack Obama’s re-election. But it will start inching shut as we approach the Iranian presidential elections in June. The same election-season policy paralysis that grips Washington every four years also afflicts Tehran. Iran’s political system has been especially fragmented during president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s second term, and factional competition will intensify. Since negotiations can’t be held before January, that leaves a short period – no more than five months – in which to hammer out an agreement.
Guardian 25th Dec 2012 more »
On December 5th, 2012, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published an article entitled “From Bushehr to the Bomb.” The blockbuster WSJ article reported that Iran had removed, from its supposedly “proliferation-proof” Russian-built Bushehr Reactor in the Northern Persian Gulf, up to “220 pounds of weapons-grade plutonium.” And, the WSJ article further relates that “experts tell us that the rapid extraction of weapons-useable plutonium from spent rods is a straightforward process that can be performed in a fairly small (and easily secreted) space.” And, “as many as 24 Nagasaki-type bombs could be produced with 220 pounds of plutonium.” However, the real, immediate danger of the 220 pounds of weapons-grade plutonium in Iran’s hands is not that they would build a technologically-complicated “Nagasaki” “Fat Man” implosion nuclear bomb, but that they could build a technological-no-brainer “Thin Man” gun-type nuclear “dirty” bomb.
Israel National News 25th Dec 2012 more »
Hitachi Ltd is still in talks with Lithuania’s government over plans to build a nuclear plant, the Japanese firm’s top executive said on Tuesday, after the country’s new centre-left government had indicated it would reconsider new nuclear power projects.
Reuters 25th Dec 2012 more »
The Russian Federation signed an intergovernmental agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) concerning the cooperation in the peaceful use of atomic energy.
Nuclear Engineering International 19th Dec 2012 more »
The construction of Vogtle project in Georgia, US, the first newly licensed nuclear-power plant in the country, has come across problems and might be delayed years behind schedule. Bill Jacobs of GDS Associates, who is monitoring the project, has advised the Georgia Public Service Commission that due to unsatisfactory performance by the project team, construction of the plant was falling behind schedule. Jacobs has advised the regulators to be prepared for a potential delay of two to four years. Initially, the first reactor of the two-reactor plant was scheduled to begin operation in 2016, but now it is expected to go online in 2017. Being constructed at a cost of $14bn, the new plant is being considered to mark the revival of the US nuclear industry, reported The Wall Street Journal. The nuclear facility will be constructed by a consortium that includes Shaw Group and Westinghouse Electric Company.
Energy Business Review 26th Dec 2012 more »
Supermarkets are replacing the open refrigerators in their stores, which chill milk, meat and shoppers alike and which waste huge amounts of energy. The Co-operative, which already has 100 stores with doors on its fridges, is saving £50m a year in energy bills and cutting its environmental impact. If all the UK’s supermarkets put doors on their fridges, the electricity saved would be roughly double the output of the giant Drax coal-fired power station in Yorkshire, Europe’s second largest. But few are following the Co-op’s lead, worried about sales if groceries are shut away.
Guardian 25th Dec 2012 more »
The policy, intended to boost green power generation, will mean that from April there is a higher minimum price for polluting carbon emissions in the UK than for the rest of Europe. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Volker Schultz, chief executive of Essar Oil UK, warned that the measure could put Britain’s seven remaining refineries at a “significant disadvantage”.
Telegraph 26th Dec 2012 more »
The Chancellor is being urged to hand back some of his record windfall from taxing household energy bills to help people living in fuel poverty. The Government will pocket £1.9 billion in VAT receipts in 2012, more than double its take in 2004, and, with the big energy companies forcing through an inflation-busting round of energy tariff rises recently, the figure is set to top £2 billion next year. Andrew Warren, director of the Association for the Conservation of Energy, said: “It isn’t just the energy companies who are being rapacious. The 5 per cent VAT rate on households’ electricity and gas bills is effectively a stealth tax. Add it to the money raised from the carbon tax and electricity and gas bills have become a nice little earner for the Government. “The Government should be returning some of their windfall VAT gains to help those in fuel poverty to keep warm, by helping them to cut out the draughts and heat their homes effectively.”
Times 26th Dec 2012 more »
Fracking may, or may not, play a key role in our future power needs, but it’s much too soon to write it off, argues Brian Wilson.
Scotsman 26th Dec 2012 more »