BRITAIN has staged a behind-the-scenes diplomatic drive to soothe fears in Tokyo that Japan could lose out to China in the competition to sell nuclear reactors to the next generation of UK power stations. British officials reassured their Japanese counterparts that China would not “jump the queue” to have its nuclear technology certified as safe by British inspectors — despite political pressure from the Chinese government. In Tokyo, sources said the pressure rose ahead of the visit to Britain by China’s president Xi Jinping last month, when Chinese negotiators pushed for preferential treatment in last-minute negotiations to seal the deal. China sees Britain as the gateway to the global market as it seeks to win the first export sales for its Hualong-1 reactor, which has not yet gone into service at home. China will invest some £2bn and hold a minority stake alongside the French energy giant EDF to build the controversial Hinkley Point C plant in Somerset and the Sizewell C project in Suffolk. But the real prize for Beijing is the prospect of selling the Hualong-1 into the Bradwell plant in Essex, a project that China would dominate with an 80% stake. To do so it must pass the UK’s extensive approval process, which is run by the Office for Nuclear Regulation. The two Japanese giants, Hitachi and Toshiba, have already committed hundreds of millions of pounds and hundreds of staff to winning approval for their nuclear projects in Britain. A Japanese nuclear industry expert said little is known about Chinese inspection standards because few details are disclosed to the outside world. Basic data is treated as a state secret and some key personnel are not allowed to leave the country. But the expert said the quick approval inside China was not surprising because the design of the Hualong-1 is a version of an imported French EPR-type reactor and thus uses known technology. The Hualong-1 has yet to make its debut in commercial operations inside China. State media reports say building has started on a site for two of the reactors in east China’s Fujian province but power generation is between five and six years away.
Sunday Times 29th Nov 2015 read more »
Energy Policy – Gas
THEY are the centrepieces of millions of homes, but gas appliances such as boilers, living-room fires and cookers will largely have to disappear if Britain is to meet its targets for cutting greenhouse gases, the government’s climate watchdog has warned. The committee on climate change (CCC) has said that these appliances must be replaced by low-carbon alternatives such as heat pumps — devices which extract warmth from the ground or air. It wants 4m homes to be heated by such devices by 2030, with installations accelerating after that until gas plays a minimal role in heating and cooking in homes by 2050. It has also said all gas-fired power stations must close by the mid-2030s unless they strip CO2 from their emissions. The plan could anger a government that is increasingly sceptical about renewables and in favour of fracking. However, it follows new official figures showing that in 2013 natural gas was the UK’s biggest source of greenhouse emissions, generating 185m tonnes of CO2. The scale of such a challenge is huge. Britain has 27m homes of which 23m use mains gas for heating or cooking or both. The alternatives are expensive, with ground source heat pumps costing about £12,000.
Sunday Times 29th Nov 2015 read more »
With the UK set to wean itself off coal power over the next decade, what will take its place to keep the lights on? Last year coal provided about 29% of UK electricity, so the government needs to make sure plans are in place for when coal plants start to close. Here are 8 steps the government could take next to make sure the gap left by coal is filled, while rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions and without the need for new nuclear plants: Plug the leaks; 54% of the energy we use in producing that power is lost before it arrives at homes and businesses. Smaller, more-efficient power stations – or local renewables; Don’t switch off solar and wind; marine energy; share with neighbours; storage; smart energy; some gas for now.
Greenpeace 24th Nov 2015 read more »
Political parties, green campaigners, faith groups, trade unionists, students and an array of pantomime animals braved the biting wind and rain in Edinburgh yesterday to demand global action to cut the pollution that is causing climate chaos. Over 5,000 colourfully dressed protestors from across Scotland marched through the city from the Meadows to Princes Street Gardens in the bitter cold to a rally demanding “climate justice” from world leaders gathering in Paris on Monday. Opposition parties criticised the Scottish Government for missing its first four annual targets to cut climate pollution. The Scottish Green MSP, Patrick Harvie stressed that most fossil fuels had to stay in the ground to avoid a climate catastrophe. Labour’s environmental justice spokeswoman, Sarah Boyack, promised to deliver a new “warm homes” law. It would change planning and building regulations to create jobs, tackle fuel poverty and cut energy waste, she said. A lonely Conservative, the Lothian MSP Cameron Buchanan, was shouted down by the crowd when he said that nuclear power was needed to combat climate change.
Herald 29th Nov 2015 read more »
Japan – Reprocessing
The industry ministry has mapped out revisions for the spent nuclear fuel recycling program that call for stronger government involvement to ensure stable management of the troubled program, it was learned Saturday. According to the outline, a new organization sanctioned and supervised by the government will entrust the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel to Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd., which is owned jointly by electric power companies. The government deemed it necessary that it get more involved in the program as a precautionary measure against possible management difficulties at major power companies when the electricity retail market is fully liberalized in April 2016, sources said.
Japan Times 28th Nov 2015 read more »
Japan – Radwaste
A total of 13 out of the nation’s 47 prefectures say they would refuse to host a final disposal site for highly radioactive nuclear waste, a Kyodo News survey showed Saturday. In the survey conducted between late October and early November, 13 local governments said they would “never accept” such a facility, eight sounded negative, while 24 declined to clarify their position and two said they will “carefully consider the possibility.” None showed a positive stance toward hosting the site.
Japan Times 29th Nov 2015 read more »
Egypt is due to start producing power from its first of four nuclear reactors by 2024, the country’s Prime Minister said on Saturday, nine days after it signed an agreement with Moscow to build a power plant to meet its rising energy needs.
Reuters 28th Nov 2015 read more »
The European Commission (EC) has started an infringement procedure against Hungary over concerns about whether the award of contracts to build reactors at a nuclear plant was in line with procurement rules.
Supply Management 28th Nov 2015 read more »
A hectic week on questions of peace and war. Monday saw the publication of the government’s new National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015. Trident replacement hit the headlines as the Review included the news that the manufacturing cost of the four replacement submarines is now expected to be £41 billion rather than £25 billion. They put this as £31 billion plus a £10 billion contingency which, on past record, means they’ll be spending £41 billion. Irritatingly, the whole section on Trident is entitled ‘The nuclear deterrent’. They may call it that, in their ideologically-loaded, fanciful, non-provable fashion, but it’s still a nuclear weapon.
CND 27th Nov 2015 read more »
Britain will enter the Paris climate change talks this week with its credentials as a responsible, low-emission power generator in tatters. That is the stark conclusion of one of the country’s leading energy experts, Professor Stuart Haszeldine of Edinburgh University. Haszeldine believes George Osborne’s last-minute decision to axe the government’s £1bn support for a scheme to capture and bury carbon dioxide emissions from power stations was a final act that utterly undermined British negotiators’ status in Paris. The news of the carbon storage cutback, released after the chancellor’s autumn statement last week, arrived in the wake of other major cuts over the past year in renewable energy programmes, including solar power, wind energy and home insulation projects. Several companies, including Royal Dutch Shell and South of Scotland Electricity, had invested more than £100m developing technology for use at two carbon-storage projects in Scotland and Yorkshire. Carbon dioxide was going to be extracted from power station emissions, liquefied and pumped into underground chambers – until the government halted funding for the project. Haszeldine described the decision as “a betrayal” that desperately weakened the influence of the UK as a nation that was serious about halting climate change.
Observer 28th Nov 2015 read more »
England’s 2.3 million poorest and coldest households are receiving improved insulation at a rate of only 1 per cent a year – meaning they won’t all be properly heated for nearly 100 years. Last year, the coalition vowed that “as many fuel-poor homes as reasonably practicable” would be improved to reach a middling Band C energy efficiency level. Energy bills for homes in this band are often more than £1,000 a year lower than for those with the poorest F and G ratings. Households in fuel poverty are judged to be those on low incomes but with high energy bills. However, the shadow energy minister Clive Lewis and campaigners have pointed to official figures that suggest the Government will struggle to get anywhere near its 2030 target. In 2013 only 110,000 homes – about one in 20 of England’s 2.3 million fuel-poor households – had been insulated to Band C level, up from 40,000 in 2010. At the current rate of progress – about 1 per cent a year – barely a fifth of fuel-poor households will have reached Band C by 2030.
Inependent 28th Nov 2015 read more »
Alex Russell & Peter Strachan: Osborne cleverly avoided saying that the UK government was fully committed to blasting apart thousands of miles of shale beds across lovely stretches of England using countless tons of chemicals, acid, water, sand and in the process risk contaminating water courses and causing earth tremors. The time to frack is when oil prices are high, and they will be high at some point in the future. In addition, fracking will help keep gas and oil prices low and ensure the end of our North Sea oil industry. Hopefully Osborne will again see reason as he did regarding the tax credits fiasco and do another U-turn.
Energy Voice 26th Nov 2015 read more »