A nuclear programme that was abandoned two decades ago has emerged as a possible 11th-hour solution to Britain’s plutonium-waste headache, which the Government has to decide on within weeks. Government officials are looking again at the possibility of using nuclear “fast reactors”, which were dropped by Britain in 1994, to dispose of more than 100 tonnes of waste plutonium stored at Sellafield in Cumbria. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and senior advisers within the Department for Energy and Climate Change (Decc) have asked for technical and financial details of an American-designed fast reactor that can burn up the plutonium waste as nuclear fuel. Within weeks of the Government’s expected response to a public consultation on plutonium waste, led by energy minister Chris Huhne, officials appear to be having second thoughts about their preferred solution to the problem, the building of a second plutonium-uranium oxides fuel plant at Sellafield.
Independent 28th Oct 2011 more >>
UK regulators continue to anticipate issuing interim approvals by the end of the year, according to the latest quarterly report on the progress of the UK’s Generic Design Assessment (GDA) for the AP1000 and UK EPR reactors. The newly published quarterly progress report covering the period to 30 September notes that the only resolution plans that are still to be agreed are those needed to address issues from the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan earlier this year. The recent publication of UK chief nuclear inspector Mike Weightman’s final report on Fukushima means that the companies should now be able to make progress on developing those plans, the ONR and EA say. If the two agencies find those plans to be “credible”, they will consider providing an interim Design Acceptance Confirmation (DAC) and interim Statement of Design Acceptability (SoDA) for each design. “We expect to be in a position to do this by the end of 2011,” the latest report states.
World Nuclear News 27th Oct 2011 more >>
Ministers risk undermining the competitiveness of UK manufacturers by loading 50 per cent more costs on to the electricity bills of energy-intensive users compared with Germany, a study has found. The figures, disclosed on Thursday by the EEF manufacturers association, will heighten a Whitehall debate over how to shield British companies from the full burden of energy and climate change policies. From 2013, a carbon floor price will increase electricity bills across the board, with the chemicals, steel and aluminium industries most exposed. In that year, British government policy will add 24 per cent to the bills of an energy-intensive manufacturer, according to the EEF. The comparable figure in Germany will be 16 per cent.
FT 27th Oct 2011 more >>
Telegraph 28th Oct 2011 more >>
Times 28th Oct 2011 more >>
EDF Energy will not set a firm date for completion of its first new nuclear power plant in Britain until it makes its final investment decision at the end of next year, the chief executive said on Thursday. “I will not give a firm and final completion date at this stage. At the moment of the FID (Final Investment Decision), I expect to be able to do so,” CEO Vincent de Rivaz said in a statement. Britain’s largest nuclear power producer plans to submit a 30,000-page planning application to the UK’s Infrastructure Planning Commission for the new plant before the end of this month, Rivaz said. In July it applied for a site licence and an environmental permit for its Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in Somerset.
Reuters 27th Oct 2011 more >>
Another step has been taken towards the development of a new nuclear power station at Wylfa. Horizon Nuclear Power and Isle of Anglesey County Council have signed a Planning Performance Agreement which sets out the working arrangements for both parties in relation to the specific activities the council will need to carry out to fully and impartially assess Horizon’s proposals.
News Wales 27th Oct 2011 more >>
Daily Post 27th Oct 2011 more >>
The consortium behind a new nuclear power station on Anglesey have completed the purchase of more land. Horizon Nuclear Power (HNP) secured the purchase of the land near the proposed Wylfa B site at auction in 2009. The transaction was subject to a number of conditions which its says have now been resolved. “Taking title to the land is one of the key steps required for us to be able to develop a new power station on the Wylfa site,” said HNP. As a result of the completion of the purchase, land within the government boundary for permanent nuclear buildings transfers into Horizon’s ownership from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and energy firm EdF.
BBC 27th Oct 2011 more >>
German utilities E.ON and RWE paid between 200-250 million pounds for purchasing land at Wylfa nuclear power plant in Britain to build a new station.
Reuters 27th Oct 2011 more >>
North Wales Chronicle 27th Oct 2011 more >>
EDF Energy has restarted its 620-megawatt (MW) UK Hartlepool R2 nuclear reactor on Thursday morning, the company said in a statement.
Reuters 27th Oct 2011 more >>
Northern Irish firm Graham Construction will build vaults on a former military airfield in the Scottish Highlands, Graham Construction will begin work next month on a £100m store for low-level radioactive waste from a former nuclear power station. The Northern Irish firm will construct up to six shallow vaults on a former military airfield near Dounreay in the Scottish Highlands for client Dounreay Site Restoration Limited (DSRL). When complete in 2014, they will be used to hold items like paper, rags, tools, glass, concrete and clothing which contain small quantities of mostly short-lived radioactivity.
Building 27th Oct 2011 more >>
NUCLEAR waste and asbestos from Scotland are being dumped at Lillyhall. The radioactive material, classified as very low-level waste, includes contaminated items from the former nuclear plant at Chapelcross, near Annan. County councillors are furious, especially as the Scottish Government is against nuclear power and Scottish and Southern Energy has pulled out of the consortium to build a nuclear power station at Sellafield. The council has contacted the site director at Chapelcross and the head of the Scottish Governments radioactive waste team to voice its concerns. It says that it is entirely inappropriate to dump radioactive waste at Lillyhall.
Whitehaven News 27th Oct 2011 more >>
Bulgaria’s 30-year-old plan to build a nuclear power plant in an earthquake-prone area on the Danube may become the European Union’s first atomic project doomed by Japan’s disaster, leaving a $2 billion hole in the ground.
Bloomberg 26th Oct 2011 more >>
The wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan may have released more than twice the amount of radiation estimated by the Japanese government, a study by European and U.S.-based scientists said.
Bloomberg 27th Oct 2011 more >>
Japan’s nuclear disaster in Fukushima released twice as much radioactivity into the atmosphere as the authorities initially estimated, according to a new report.
Telegraph 28th Oct 2011 more >>
France’s nuclear monitor said on Thursday that the amount of caesium 137 that leaked into the Pacific from the Fukushima disaster was the greatest single nuclear contamination of the sea ever seen. But, confirming previous assessments, it said caesium levels had been hugely diluted by ocean currents and, except for near-shore species, posed no discernible threat. From March 21 to mid-July, 27.1 peta becquerels of caesium 137 entered the sea, the Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) said. One peta becquerel is a million billion bequerels, or 10 to the power of 15. Of the total, 82 percent entered the sea before April 8, through water that was pumped into the Fukushima’s damaged reactor units in a bid to cool them down, it said.
AFP 27th Oct 2011 more >>
Japan Today 28th Oct 2011 more >>
Greenpeace today lodged a freedom of information request (FOI) with Japans Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, demanding that existing scenario maps covering nuclear disasters at plants, including the Ohi 3 reactor in Fukui, be released, so that local authorities and the public can better assess the risks to be faced from potential future nuclear disasters.
Greenpeace International 28th Oct 2011 more >>
Spiralling oil prices and strong demand for gas after the Fukushima nuclear disaster helped Shell double its profits between July and September. Europe’s largest oil company reported profits of £4.5 billion, up from £2.2 billion, at a time of continued fuel price misery for British motorists.
Independent 27th Oct 2011 more >>
Tokyo Electric Power has asked for about 900 billion yen ($12 billion) from a government-sponsored bailout body as the first instalment of tax payer-funded assistance to pay for compensation from the crisis at its Fukushima nuclear plant.
Reuters 28th Oct 2011 more >>
Britain has built thirty nuclear submarines in the past sixty years, but still hasn’t solved the problem of what to do with the reactors that power them. Several old submarines are laid up at Devonport Naval base, but the idea of storing the reactors there is controversial. The Ministry of Defence is opening a formal consultation process.
West Country Tonight 27th Oct 2011 more >>
A public consultation on the dismantling of the UK’s retired nuclear submarines is set to get under way. Rosyth in Fife and Devonport in Plymouth are the two preferred sites being considered as locations for removing the radioactive material from the vessels. The consultation, which gets under way on Friday, will look at how and where this process will be carried out.
BBC 27th Oct 2011 more >>
The dismantling of a powerful nuclear bomb closes a chapter of the cold war. But the choices and responsibilities embedded in the story of the B53 make this a 21st-century story too.
Open Democracy 27th Oct 2011 more >>
The First Minister has guaranteed he would scrap the Trident nuclear programme if Scotland gains independence. Speaking on STV’s Scotland Tonight show, Alex Salmond agreed “100%” he would get rid of the nuclear submarine programme if he wins independence for the country.
STV 26th Oct 2011 more >>
Scotland has some of the most challenging carbon reduction targets in the world. The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 sets targets to reduce Scotlands greenhouse gas emissions by 42 per cent by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050. All of us householders, businesses, government and social enterprises have a responsibility to reduce energy use and find more sustainable ways to power our homes, our offices, our public buildings and our country. Today, Solas Scotland, a social enterprise with 25 years experience in energy-saving advice, advocacy and technology, will brief MSPs about our ambition to become the UKs leading energy cost reduction centre within two years, and how we hope to create jobs in the process. We will start with the community sector and charities, encouraging them to save money and reduce their carbon emissions by employing some very simple measures. We can advise them on the best energy-saving products, from solar to high-efficiency lighting. The beauty of our service is it is at worst cost-neutral for customers, as they can quickly recoup their initial outlay through lower energy bills. Utility Aid has already saved charities across the UK around 4 million on fuel bills since 2008 through its network of energy-efficiency managers.
Scotsman 27th Oct 2011 more >>
Chris Huhne has hit out at critics of renewable energy, but rising home energy bills remain political kryptonite. Tackling this issue is the key to making the UK a green industrial powerhouse. When he said in his speech, “I know the prime minister agrees,” he highlighted the problem. He may know this, but we don’t. More importantly all those investors already creating thousands of green jobs, and who could create more, don’t either. As the Confederation of British Industry scarcely treehuggers said in response to Huhne’s speech: “We need to ensure that global low-carbon investors choose the UK as a place to do business, which requires certainty in both policy and language.” Ben Warren, at Ernst and Young, agreed: “In the longer term a more strategic view from government is desperately needed to … help overcome the short-term outlook coming from Treasury.” The immediate cause of the Conservative’s abandoning of their detoxifying green zeal is soaring domestic energy bills. This political kryptonite has been relentlessly and inaccurately pinned on green taxes, with the Daily Mail the prime offender. But the urgent investment needed in our energy infrastructure results from the unusually liberal energy market the UK has had for the past two decades. It kept bills low when cheap North Sea gas was flowing freely, but has given no incentive to invest for the future, when gas prices have soared. So rebuilding the UK’s energy infrastructure is a national investment in our future prosperity, and choosing anything other than clean, secure and inexhaustible sources would be madness. For that reason, the funding to get the industry on its feet should come from general taxation, not a levy on fuel bills that hits the poorest hardest. The government already chose this option for the £1bn for a carbon capture and storage demonstration plant. By not making energy bill payers stump up for the failings of past policies, the government in a single stroke draws the sting that is poisoning this vital issue. But if you don’t like that and are still worried about your household budget, I have another suggestion that will save you far more money than the actual green levies on your energy bills: stop buying the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday You’ll be £263 a year better off.
Guardian 27th Oct 2011 more >>
There are suggestions that the Government wants to slash the feed-in tariffs for solar PV by 80% a move that would kill the industry and destroy thousands of jobs. We need your help. We need to make sure that the Government know about the success of the industry and the consequences of cuts this size, and we need you to help us tell them.
Our Solar Future 27th Oct 2011 more >>
The nascent solar industry is about to be thrown a lifeline by Greg Barker, climate change minister, who is poised to cut subsidies to small-scale generators by less than some operators had feared. The Department of Energy and Climate Change is expected within days to announce a cut in the feed-in tariff (FiT) from its current 43p per kWh to about 20p per kWh, the Financial Times has learnt. The new figure is high enough to maintain investment in the industry in the coming years but will stop what officials see as an overwhelming take-up by households. Solar companies had been afraid that the FiT could be reduced to 9p per kWh, as had been urged by some within DECC. At that level it was feared that the industry would be decimated. The turf war over small-scale solar did not involve the Treasury but was instead fought within DECC over the £860m allocation for the current spending round for feed-in tariffs in general. The money does not come directly from government, but via a small charge added to electricity customers bills. One Tory MP said that Mr Barker, who played a key role in setting up the FiT scheme while in opposition, had fought tenaciously to keep it on track. While the FiT system exists to encourage all forms of renewables, some 97 per cent has gone into the solar industry, prompting ministers and officials to seek to put a brake on the spending.
FT 26th Oct 2011 more >>
Anticipated cuts to feed-in tariffs of around 50 per cent will “kill interest in solar PV”, restricting the market to small numbers of installations by green households and businesses, according to a senior executive at the UK’s largest solar company. Speaking to BusinessGreen, Seb Berry, head of public affairs at Solarcentury, warned that if reports the government is planning to cut the level of feed-in tariff support for small-scale solar installations from 43p per kWh to around 20p per kWh prove accurate, the sector’s recent growth will grind to a halt. “This will kill interest in solar PV for social housing and free schemes,” he said. “It reduces the rate of returns to under five per cent and no investor will go near that.”
Business Green 27th Oct 2011 more >>
Solar power companies are resigned to government cuts to subsidies that have generated a boom in the fledgling industry, but community schemes to benefit low-income households are likely to be the biggest losers under the plans. From next April, householders will have to meet a certain standard of energy efficiency before they can be eligible for feed-in tariff subsidies, designed to give people a guaranteed income for the power produced by their solar panels. Officials said this would prevent people from getting subsidies for solar power while wasting energy through draughty and ill-equipped homes. Plans for a government consultation on slashing subsidies are expected to be published early next week. Industry experts fear that cuts will be too deep to allow companies to remain profitable, potentially snuffing out the UK’s solar boom. Under current plans, the level of the feed-in tariff is likely to more than halve, from 43p per kWh to 20p. The solar industry says it can broadly live with that level, but some companies warned that schemes to provide disadvantaged communities and households with low-cost power and heating would be the most likely to be scrapped under the changes.
Guardian 27th Oct 2011 more >>
Lower levels of subsidies were necessary to ensure there was more money to go around and the scheme would not just give “bumper returns to a lucky few”.
Independent 27th Oct 2011 more >>
The energyshare Fund applications have been shortlisted and vote buttons being built. We are in the last stretch now before the exciting announcement and when live voting will commence.
Energy Share News 27th Oct 2011 more >>