Option papers for the long-term management of radioactive material produced and stored at Dounreay were published by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) in 2011 and 2012. The material, owned by the NDA, included ‘Exotic Fuels and Nuclear Material’ described as comprising unirradiated plutonium and high enriched uranium fuels and irradiated (spent) high enriched uranium fuel – the latter from the Prototype Fast Reactor (PFR) and other experimental work at Dounreay. In February this year the NDA announced that, for these exotic fuels, ‘the option for this material which best meets our objectives, is for it to be transported to Sellafield for long term management’. Yet behind the scenes plans indicate that some of Dounreay’s exotic material – specifically the irradiated (spent) fuel assemblies containing highly enriched uranium (HEU) – may well be shipped to the United States. Such plans, conspicuous by their absence in any NDA document, originated in November 2011 with an application by NAC International (acting on behalf of the US Department of Energy) to America’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for authorisation ‘to package and ship from Dounreay to the Savannah River site in Aiken, South Carolina five special fuel assemblies in a one-time shipment’. Authorisation was granted by NRC in January 2012 for the shipment to be made – up to the end of 2013 – but uncertainties about transport schedules have resulted in a further application being submitted to NRC by NAC International in June 2013 for the authorisation to be extended to 31st December 2014.
CORE 28th Aug 2013 read more »
The coalition is heading for a bitter new row over green energy as senior Tories seek to unpick carbon targets which stand in the way of Britain building more than 40 gas-fired power stations. Ministers struck an agreement in 2011 to reduce emissions by half by the mid-2020s, compared with 1990 levels, as part of Britain’s attempt to cut its share of global warming. But George Osborne, chancellor, secured a potential opt-out if a December 2013 review by the Climate Change Committee, the statutory body which advises the government on emissions, proved that Britain was moving faster than the rest of the EU. The Engineering Employers’ Federation has been urging the chancellor to kill off the carbon targets, saying the review will be a “real test” for the government. “The other EU states haven’t stepped up to the mark and we believe that means the rip cord needs to be pulled on these targets,” said Gareth Stace, head of climate at the EEF. “If we go ahead we will be locked into tougher targets than the other members states.”
FT 27th Aug 2013 read more »
A rise of 10 per cent in energy costs does not mean a similar percentage fall in demand. An excellent paper by Tooraj Jamasb and Helena Meier looked at historical UK energy data and found that up to a certain income level, elasticity is very low (ie if you need to heat your home, you need to heat your home, even if it costs more). The people in the income bracket £20,000-£35,000 (part of the “squeezed middle” identified by Ed Miliband) adjust consumption the most when prices go up. The richest people, perhaps unsurprisingly, do not seem to be too affected by price and continue to heat their homes by burning £50 notes or whatever it is they do. But there coiuld be other reason too, such as insulation, concern about the environment or the fact that we;ve stoppede buying more stuff. So what does all this mean for policy, in particular low carbon policy? First, it means that absolute reductions in energy use across UK are possible. This, in many ways, turns conventional wisdom on its head. It was previously assumed that overall demand would just keep growing, but only the rate could be slowed. Second, it presents a major challenge for the Coalition to show that the Green Deal, Energy Company Obligation and other measures will continue the previous reductions (recognising that lots of the easier stuff has been done). In particular, they need to show they are successfully helping the poorest people.
Business Green 28th Aug 2013 read more »
Chris Goodall: In this note I want to advance the idea that the UK is gravely mistaken in trying to substitute electricity for gas for the purpose of home heating. Heat demand is much more seasonal than electricity need. Switching to heat provided by electricity will disproportionately increase peak demand for electricity, obliging the UK to waste large sums on capacity payments for electricity generating plant that will work for a few hours or days a year. The comfortable wisdom that providing heat using electricity is good for the UK is utterly wrong. In fact, we should stick with gas as the principal source of domestic heat. The infrastructure is there already and gas storage is simple and cheap. Crucially, we need to ensure that this gas is made from electricity at times when the grid is in surplus. This technology is called ‘power to gas’ and is a topic of central interest in other European countries. The UK has yet to wake up to the potential of this idea and the Committee could have a crucial role in bringing it to the attention of UK policymakers.
Carbon Commentary 27th Aug 2013 read more »
In a proposal submitted to The Asahi Shimbun, researchers at an international group of nuclear experts outlined steps they say Japan must take to break away from its “failed” nuclear fuel recycling policy. Masafumi Takubo and Frank von Hippel of the International Panel on Fissile Materials noted that Japan currently has 44 tons of already separated plutonium, enough to make more than 5,000 Nagasaki-type atomic bombs, while it has no clear path toward disposal. In the proposal titled, “Ending plutonium separation: An alternative approach to managing Japan’s spent nuclear fuel,” they said Japan’s reprocessing policy has “insignificant” resource conservation and radioactive waste management benefits.
Asahi Shimbun 28th Aug 2013 read more »
JAPAN’S nuclear regulator has upgraded the rating of a leak of radiation-¬contaminated water at its tsunami-hit nuclear plant to a “serious incident” on an international scale. The Nuclear Regulation Authority originally gave a level one rating – an “anomaly” – to the August 19 leak of 300 tons of water from a tank at the Fukushima ¬Dai-ichi nuclear plant. Last week it proposed ¬raising that to level three – a “serious incident” – and has now made that change after consulting the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Herald 29th Aug 2013 read more »
London Evening Standard 28th Aug 2013 read more »
The dangers presented by fires at French nuclear power stations must be “taken very seriously” after a report showed there were around 100 fire incidents at nuclear sites in 2011, Jean-Christophe Niel, managing director of national nuclear safety regulator ASN, said in an interview published Wednesday. Earlier this month, ASN published a report which said that around 40% of the 100 fire incidents reported in 2011 at French nuclear sites — which includes power plants as well as fuel reprocessing and research sites — were caused by electrical faults. “Out of the hundred fire incidents in 2011, around 10 were considered significant in terms of nuclear safety,” Jean-Christophe Niel told Le Parisien newspaper in an interview. Looming over the nuclear sector is the prospect of downsizing the power plant fleet, as President Francois Hollande has pledged to reduce the share of nuclear power from 75% of generation to 50% by 2025. However, legislation which puts into practice the multi-year legal process for shutting nuclear power plants is yet to be presented to parliament, and the only closure announced by the government is the shutdown at the end of 2016 of the two oldest operational reactors at the Fessenheim site. The government is expected to announce this autumn initial proposals for its long-term energy policy, which should include further details on its plan to gradually shut down nuclear plants.
Platts 28th Aug 2013 read more »
The first independent assessment of Iran’s atomic program since the June presidential election shows Iranian officials steadily expanding the country’s nuclear capacity while also avoiding provocative steps that might trigger an Israeli military strike. United Nations nuclear inspectors who visited Iranian nuclear facilities in the summer observed the installation of hundreds of new centrifuges in two different facilities the country uses to make enriched uranium. The officials also found that Iran’s available stockpile of low-enriched fuel has grown an additional 6 percent since May to more than 15,000 pounds, enough in theory for about nine nuclear bombs if the material is enriched to weapons-grade.
Washington Post 28th Aug 2013 read more »
Middle East Online 28th Aug 2013 read more »
Reuters 28th Aug 2013 read more »
BBC 28th Aug 2013 read more »
North Korea has been carrying out construction work at its Yongbyon nuclear complex, including near a mothballed reactor that experts say could produce plutonium for bombs, a U.N. nuclear agency report showed on Wednesday.
Voice of America 28th Aug 2013 read more »
A movement aimed at putting the Berlin city grid under citizens’ control when the system goes on sale next year has sprung up. The grid is owned by the Swedish firm Vattenfall. The co-operative founded by the two students, Citizen Energy Berlin, has recruited around 1,000 members, each paying a minimum of €500 (£430) a share. It has raised €5.4m (£4.6m). Taking control of the grid is an idea whose time has come. Activists in Hamburg and other cities have launched similar campaigns to regain control of their local grid. In the Black Forest region, a residents’ co-operative in Schönau has been running the grid since the 1990s. “Schönau is showing us the way,” said Colell. There is broad support in Germany for the goals of the energy transition, or energiewende: cutting coal usage and phasing out nuclear reactors by 2022, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The plan is to cut the country’s emissions by 40% by the end of the decade, and by up to 95% by 2050.
Guardian 28th Aug 2013 read more »
RenewableUK has welcomed today’s Government announcement that it is minded to grant planning permission for a huge industrial base for the offshore wind sector on the east coast of England as a significant step forward which could lead to the creation of thousands of jobs. This is a positive step forward for the £450 million project, Able Marine Energy Park, which covers nearly 800 acres of the south bank of the Humber and moves it a step closer to unlocking the potential to create up to 4,000 high-quality jobs supplying components for offshore wind turbines, as well as providing an assembly and installation base for North Sea projects. RenewableUK is now looking forward to examination of the two issues contained in the announcement so that a final decision can be reached as there has already been a significant delay.
Renewable UK 28th Aug 2013 read more »