Today’s entry reports on the extension of the Planning Act 2008 to cover nuclear waste disposal. Earlier this month, the Infrastructure Planning (Radioactive Waste Geological Disposal Facilities) Order 2015 was laid before Parliament. This will extend the Planning Act 2008 regime to a 17th type of nationally significant infrastructure project (NSIP). Although the existing 16 thresholds have had some changes, this is the first new type of infrastructure project to be added to the regime. This means extending the list of NSIPs in section 14 of the Act from (a) to (p) to (a) to (q), and adding a new section 30A that gives the threshold for the new NSIP. The threshold is that it is either a borehole preparing for a radioactive waste facility or the facility itself. The facility has to be for the final disposal of radioactive waste, at least 200m below the ground or sea bed and such that the engineering and natural environment will inhibit radionuclides from reaching the surface. So all those disposal facilities over 200m below ground where the radionuclides will reach the surface won’t count as NSIPs. Seriously, though, the last criterion is an interesting part of the definition that will presumably require the Planning Inspectorate to be satisfied that it is true before deciding whether to accept the application for examination, as otherwise it won’t be an NSIP.
BDB Law 26th Jan 2015 read more »
A huge pocket of warm water exists beneath what is supposed to be France’s largest nuclear garbage pit, located near the town Bure. This site is destined to store, for at least 100,000 years, the most dangerous high-level waste that has accumulated since France built its first reactor. 125 meters tall, 30 kilometers wide and dozens of kilometers long, this reserve of warm water could sooner or later be used to produce heat or energy. The water is a comfortable 66 degrees, but it is found at a depth of 1,800 meters, while the nuclear waste is to be buried above it at a depth of 500 meters. On January 5, 2015, the agency for the management of radioactive waste (ANDRA) will find itself on trial in high court in Nanterre for having divulged false information concerning the supposed absence of concern about significant underground water tables at the site in Bure. The citizen groups Sortir du nucléaire and Stop Bure 55, and Mirabel Lorraine Nature Environnement have brought the charges.
Cumbria Trust 27th Jan 2015 read more »
Electricité de France (EdF), the French energy group, intends to build one of the largest nuclear power stations in the world at Hinkley Point, United Kingdom. However, this project would be commercially viable only on the basis of massive subsidies granted by the British government, which would clearly violate EU competition law. The past EU Commission has approved these nuclear subsidies at its last but one session. This scandalous decision has the potential to trigger an avalanche of new nuclear power projects across Europe. The Austrian government is determined to take this case to the European Court of Justice, and EWS has lodged a formal complaint directly with the EU Commission. Yet only if the pressure of European civil society surpasses the clout of nuclear lobbyists will we be able to prompt the newly appointed EU Commission to reverse this misguided decision. Any EU citizen is entitled to submit a complaint free of charge. Join our complaint now – or draft your own text – and join us in demanding: No Money for Nuclear Power – Stop Brussels!
EWS (accessed) 26th Jan 2015 read more »
Nuclear Waste Transport
TRAINS carrying deadly nuclear waste are being driven over a ramshackle and poorly maintained railway line in Cumbria to re-processing plant Sellafield, activists warned yesterday. Residents who live near the railway say the track has a history of accidents — including landslips onto the line. Marianne Birkby, member of campaign group Radiation Free Lakeland, said: “Residents of Braystones have for some years been trying to get some remedy for the awful state of the railway crossing and line. Not all of them are anti-nuclear but all are worried.
Morning Star 27th Jan 2015 read more »
As regular readers of the IGov blog will know, one of our favourite topics is the capacity market probably because it is such a clear demonstration of how governance of the UK energy system can act to impede change in the direction of a more sustainable system. Now the results of the first capacity market are in, the dust is settling, and it is beginning to become clear what has gone wrong and why.
IGov 26th Jan 2015 read more »
The UK is the first country in the EU to have started a “capacity market”. Under this scheme, the UK government offers payments to electricity suppliers for making “backup capacity” available. The first auction, held in December for capacity in 2018/2019, has resulted in contracts for £931 million for UK power generators. According to Mike Parr, Director of energy consultancy PWR, most of this money is wasted. He says the scheme is overgenerous because it covers the entire 49 GW of capacity in the UK rather than just the 6 GW peak capacity that needs to be covered. It also fails to encourage new-build generation and demand response.
Renew Economy 27th Jan 2015 read more »
A FUND totalling £1.5 million has been established to help North Staffordshire manufacturers enter or expand their presence in the growing nuclear sector. Fit For Nuclear (F4N) is offering grants of around £10,000 to companies that want to meet industry standards and compete for work in civil nuclear.
Stoke Sentinel 26th Jan 2015 read more »
Blackpool Gazette 26th Jan 2015 read more »
Japan will produce definitive targets for renewable energy this year, according to a government official. The country’s leaders have taken criticism from pro-renewable energy groups for not doing so previously. Keiji Hidaka, deputy director of the Agency for New and Renewable Energy (ANRE), a recently established division of the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), confirmed the news to PV Tech in a call on Friday morning. He did not however give any indication of likely percentages or criteria for determining the targets.
PV Tech 26th Jan 2015 read more »
Finnish power producer TVO and construction consortium Areva-Siemens have gone to London’s International Dispute Resolution Centre (IDRC) in a bid to settle the ongoing €3.5bn Finnish nuclear arbitration over construction delays to the 1.6gw Olkiluoto 3 nuclear plant.
Legal Business 26th Jan 2015 read more »
Kazakh energy minister Vladimir Shkolnik said today the government is considering construction of two nuclear power plants in the country. Kazakhstan currently has no nuclear power generation capacity, as the Aktau nuclear reactor, the country’s only nuclear power plant, was shut down in June 1999.
World Nuclear News 26th Jan 2015 read more »
The historic 2006 India-US nuclear deal had been held up for eight years amid US concerns over who would be liable for any nuclear accident. Mr Singh, the deal’s architect, had told the parliament that it marked the “end of India’s decades-long isolation from the nuclear mainstream”. Now, a large insurance pool will be set up, without the need for any further legislation. The plan, according to reports, is to transfer the financial risk to insurers in the case of an accident. Analysts say the two governments have done “all they can do” and it is now up to the suppliers – or American firms wanting to sell reactor technology to India – to do business. So what lies ahead for American companies? “It is not going to be easy. Pricing will be a key issue,” says science journalist Pallava Bagla. “New generation American reactors are three times more expensive than comparable India-made reactors. They are also untested as all of them are under construction, including in the US.” Both General Electric and Westinghouse Electric Company, two major US suppliers, have already been given land in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh state to build reactors. Westinghouse has praised developments and said it looked forward to the “fine print” of the agreement and further meetings, including a planned “insurance seminar”. GE said it would review the agreement soon. Clearly, it won’t be a walk in the park for American suppliers. It is too early to say that the deal will spur billions of dollars worth of nuclear contracts.
BBC 26th Jan 2015 read more »
Podcast: Are scientific and industrial ideas about commercial nuclear fusion reactors in the near future just wishful thinking?
Guardian 26th Jan 2015 read more »
BAE Systems’ submarine plant in Barrow in Furness has been caught in the crossfire of a war of words between controversial comedian Russell Brand and local MP John Woodcock. The activist comedian has posted a video titled “Trident vs NHS” on his website questioning the value of the Britain’s Trident nuclear submarine programme and plans for its “Successor” replacement, saying the money should instead be used to fund the NHS. Mr Brand – who appears to have made the video in his bedroom while wearing a towel on his head – also questions the motives behind BAE employing former ministers.
Telegraph 26th Jan 2015 read more »
Renewables – solar
Solar panels were fitted on the roofs of more than 125,000 homes last year, according to government figures. The numbers also show that 700MW of solar was installed on buildings and in ground-mounted solar farms under the Feed-in Tariff subsidy scheme over the course of 2014 – the equivalent of powering 212,000 homes.
Business Green 26th Jan 2015 read more »
Renewables – tidal
The prospect of a six-mile tidal lagoon capable of providing clean energy from the waters of Swansea Bay has edged closer, after the government invited comments on its approach to negotiating a contract with the developers. A month-long consultation published today outlines how the government is “starting closer discussions” with Tidal Lagoon Power to establish whether the proposed 320MW lagoon would be affordable and provide value for money for energy consumers.
Business Green 23rd Jan 2015 read more »
The injection of renewable or “green” gas into UK networks has been growing rapidly – and there are now 28 biomethane to grid projects connected to the gas distribution network, transforming food, brewery and agricultural wastes and energy crops into ultra-clean energy. These plants have the capacity to produce 1.8 billion kilowatt hours of gas per year, enough to meet the heating and cooking needs of around 100,000 homes. Biomethane injected into the gas grid, helps decarbonise gas supply in just the same way as renewable electricity decarbonises power generation.
Scottish Energy News 27th Jan 2015 read more »
Zero Carbon Homes
MPs have been urged to back new amendments to the Infrastructure Bill which would beef up carbon emissions standards for newly built homes. The Infrastructure Bill, which also features divisive fracking regulations, will be debated and voted on for the third and final time in the Commons today (26 December). The Government’s Zero Carbon Homes standard was effectively watered down last year, allowing developers to offset their carbon emissions by paying into a fund, rather than delivering carbon reduction measures on site. But these extra cost would be passed on to consumers, meaning new-home buyers will effectively be paying a carbon tax without enjoying lower energy bills, according to a green coalition including the Renewable Energy Association (REA), Solar Trade Association (STA), WWF and Greenpeace.
Edie 26th Jan 2015 read more »
The government must confirm today that any expansion of shale gas extraction in the UK would not exceed the UK’s carbon budgets, the chairman of the influential Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has warned. Speaking to BusinessGreen, Lord Deben, said he was concerned that the Infrastructure Bill currently includes no provision to ensure that future growth of the shale gas industry would not undermine the Climate Change Act, which includes a goal to cut carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 against 1990 levels.
Business Green 26th Jan 2015 read more »
Finally, about three years too late, the debate on fracking is moving onto the territory it should have always been played out upon: climate change. There are myriad reasons to oppose fracking in the UK, varying enormously in their legitimacy, but the one source of opposition that trumps all others is the very real threat that a successful fracking industry is incompatible with long term efforts to tackle climate change. As Environmental Audit Committee Chair Joan Walley argues today, “ultimately fracking cannot be compatible with our long-term commitments to cut climate changing emissions unless full-scale carbon capture and storage technology is rolled out rapidly, which currently looks unlikely”. Bravo. As I’ve argued before the problem with fracking in the current UK context is that if it were to prove as successful as David Cameron and George Osborne hope it would quickly prove incompatible with our climate change goals. Walley uses the “oil tanker” metaphor, arguing that adding ever more fossil fuel infrastructure makes it ever harder to turn the trajectory of UK’s energy sector towards decarbonisation. I prefer the Chekov’s Gun metaphor: if you build a fracking industry it is going to get used. Either way, in a carbon constrained world you can’t construct a new fossil fuel industry without a credible plan for quickly deconstructing it.
Business Green 26th Jan 2015 read more »
MPs have overwhelmingly rejected a bid to suspend fracking for shale gas. But the government agreed to Labour proposals for 13 new conditions to be met before shale gas extraction can take place. During a Commons debate, ministers also pledged an “outright ban” on fracking in national parks. Earlier, a committee of MPs called for a moratorium on the practice on the grounds that it could derail efforts to tackle climate change. The Environmental Audit Committee also warned that there were “huge uncertainties” about the environmental impact of fracking.
BBC 26th Jan 2015 read more »
Independent 26th Jan 2015 read more »
Guardian 26th Jan 2015 read more »
Environmental campaigners have called on the Scottish Government to act and “rule out” fracking after moves to introduce a moratorium were rejected at Westminster. The UK Government agreed to an “outright ban” on fracking in national parks and accepted a Labour amendment on tougher regulation on shale gas extraction following a debate in the House of Commons on Monday. But ministers won a series of votes at report stage on the Infrastructure Bill by big majorities, including the backbench attempt to place a moratorium on further fracking taking place, which was defeated 308 to 52. WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “It’s disappointing that, despite the support of the SNP, moves by MPs for a moratorium on fracking across the UK were defeated. However, all is not lost. “The ball is now back in the Scottish Government’s court. In the interests of people and the environment, just as they have done on nuclear power, we now urge them to use their existing powers on planning to rule out fracking and other unconventional gas extraction here.” Scottish Labour said attention must now turn to the Scottish Government but the SNP described the party’s policy on the issue as a “sham” and said the vast majority of Scottish Labour MPs abstained on the vote on a moratorium.
STV 26th Jan 2015 read more »
An attempt to halt fracking in Britain failed in the Commons last night, though only after some last-minute footwork by the Government to head off defeat. An amendment to the Infrastructure Bill, which contains provisions to make the extraction of shale gas and oil easier and commercially viable, would have imposed a moratorium on the process for up to 30 months. It was heavily beaten after Labour abstained having forced ministers to agree to tougher regulation. Had the vote been passed it might have sounded the death knell for fracking before it had even got off the ground. In the event, the Government offered a series of concessions to avoid defeat. These included an outright ban on fracking in national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty where it previously would have been allowed only in “exceptional circumstances”. While this sounds like a good idea, some of our biggest shale reserves are thought to be in protected areas such as the South Downs and the North York Moors. Once the Government starts to make exceptions, opponents just outside such areas will demand to know why they cannot be included. The anti-fracking lobby will take heart from such backtracking to pursue their cause. They will also have been emboldened by a report from the Commons environmental audit committee which stated that fracking was incompatible with the UK’s low-carbon commitment, a questionable assertion that is not supported by peer-reviewed scientific research. The Coalition Government has put in place a robust regulatory regime for shale extraction and the time has now come to get fracking. The country will simply not understand it if our parliamentarians continue to stand in the way of the opportunities it provides to underpin our energy security.
Telegraph 27th Jan 2015 read more »