UK regulators expect to complete the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process for Hitachi-GE’s UK Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (UK ABWR) as scheduled, in December 2017, but doubt the GDA for the Westinghouse AP1000 will be done by March as previously stated. In its quarterly GDA report for May to October 2016 issued recently, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) also said it had met “a number of times” in the period with General Nuclear Systems as the potential GDA Requesting Party (RP) for China General Nuclear’s HPR1000 design. On the AP1000, ONR said: “Our delivery confidence for this project is amber/red, which means that successful delivery of the project is in doubt with major risks or issues apparent in a number of key areas. We acknowledge that Westinghouse has made progress since the start of the year and its commitment is welcome; however there are only five months remaining and a very large amount of assessment to complete with issues still emerging. We will undertake a project deep dive at the end of this year, when we expect to have a clear view on the viability of completion and closure at the end of March 2017.”
World Nuclear News 28th Nov 2016 read more »
Article 6 of the Euratom Treaty provides for nuclear industry practices to be rejustified in the light of new scientific evidence of harm to health, writes Chris Busby. We now have that evidence, in particular that radiation exposure even at very low levels causes severe and heritable genetic damage to people and entire families. Now, we must use the law to protect our health from radiation! In the last ten years I have, as an expert witness, successfully argued the position in more than 20 cases in the USA. And this year I put the evidence into the High Court in London on behalf of the atomic test veterans. After 19 weeks we still haven’t heard a Decision. But we can together, you and me, use the current European and UK law to force the government to admit that the current radiation risk model is wildly incorrect. This will result in a new model reflecting the real dangers of radiation exposures, and internal exposures in particular, which are around 1,000 more dangerous than currently acknowledged.
Ecologist 28th Nov 2016 read more »
Britain is exporting electricity to France for the first time in four years after safety concerns forced the closure of 12 French nuclear reactors. The turnaround in demand is helping to drive up prices in the UK and elsewhere, according to the RTE, the French grid operator. A total of 17 French reactors are out of action either for safety checks or for routine maintenance, leading to a sharp drop in electricity production and fears of power cuts in France this winter. The closures are a setback for EdF, the state-owned group, which is leading the project to build two new-generation EPRs at Hinkley Point in Somerset at a cost of £18 billion. France usually exports large quantities of electricity to its neighbours, including Britain. In its latest report, however, RTE said net exports in October had fallen to just 522 gigawatt hours, an 89 per cent drop compared with the same month in 2015 and the lowest figure since the February 2012 cold snap, which was also the last time France imported electricity from Britain. The report said electricity prices were rising as a result. “The availability of the French nuclear fleet remains very low. In consequence, market prices are going back up everywhere in Europe, in a sustained way in Belgium, France and Britain where numerous price spikes have been recorded.”
Times 29th Nov 2016 read more »
One unusual item affected by the fallout from Britain voting to leave the EU: 3,000 cubic metres of radioactive waste in rural Oxfordshire. The eventual decommissioning of an EU-owned nuclear tokamak machine, currently the largest nuclear fusion experiment in the world, is a potential flashpoint in Brexit negotiations, with the cost estimated at £289m. Based at the Culham Centre in south Oxfordshire, the Joint European Torus (JET) project involves some 350 scientists exploring the potential of fusion power, backed by funding from almost 40 countries in the EUROfusion consortium. The future of the project is in doubt because Britain is potentially ending its membership of Euratom, Europe’s treaty framework for the safe civilian use of nuclear energy. Membership is required for participation in EUROfusion. Established by treaty in 1957, the Euratom community is legally separate from the EU but it is governed by EU institutions such as the European Commission, which oversees the safe operation of civilian nuclear installations. Britain’s plan to trigger the Article 50 exit clause of the EU would, according to EU lawyers, notify intention to exit Euratom as well. “We have no idea what will happen to this British nuclear facility,” said one senior Brexit negotiator. The British government is yet to make clear its nuclear co-operation plans. A spokesperson said: “The government is assessing the legal and policy implications of the public’s vote to leave the EU, including the UK’s membership of Euratom.”
FT 28th Nov 2016 read more »
Last week the European Commission made a decision on one of its investigations related to the new Nuclear Power Plant, Paks II of Hungary. An infringement procedure was opened because of the lack of compliance with EU public procurement rules after the Hungarian Government directly awarded the nuclear project to Rosatom. In its decision the European Commission approved the reasoning of the Hungarian Government and allowed the project to proceed without competition and without transparent public procurement based on technical exclusivity, stating that only the Russian reactor fits the Hungarian legal requirements. The details of the Commission’s justifications are not published yet, however, without going into details we can draw a clear conclusion: the Paks II agreement is again one of the ad hoc, shady deals of the Commission which follows along the history of the nuclear sector from the very birth of EURATOM.
Nuclear Transparency Watch 28th Nov 2016 read more »
Today the world has 448 reactors, many with capacity factors of better than 90 percent. That’s the share of the reactors’ potential output that they averaged year-round, producing more than twice as much electricity as PV cells and wind turbines combined. Nuclear power provided the highest share of electricity in France (77 percent), but Swiss reactors contributed 38 percent and South Korea got 30 percent, as did Japan before Fukushima. The U.S. share remains at almost 20 percent. Meanwhile, there have been cost overruns in the construction of nuclear plants and a frustrating inability to come up with an acceptable way to store spent nuclear fuel. Nor has there been much success in switching to reactors that might be safer and less expensive than the dominant design of pressurized water reactors, which are essentially beached versions of U.S. Navy submarine designs of the 1950s. The only leading economies with major expansion plans are in Asia, led by China, South Korea, and India, but even they can’t do much to reverse the decline in the share of nuclear power in worldwide electricity generation. That share peaked at nearly 18 percent in 1996, fell to 11 percent in 2015, and is expected to bump up to just 12 percent by 2040, according to the International Energy Agency.
IEEE Spectrum 26th Sept 2016 read more »
The University of Bristol, in England, has developed new technology that uses nuclear waste to generate electricity in a nuclear-powered battery. A team of physicists and chemists from the university has “grown a man-made diamond” that, when placed in a radioactive field, is able to generate a small electrical current. The developers say the innovation could solve some of the problems of nuclear waste, clean electricity generation and battery life. This new method for radioactive energy was presented at the Cabot Institute’s annual lecture – Ideas to Change the World – on 25 November. The Cabot Institute is the university’s first flagship cross-disciplinary research institute. In a statement, the university said that, unlike the majority of electricity-generation technologies, which use energy to move a magnet through a coil of wire to generate a current, the man-made diamond is able to produce a charge simply by being placed in close proximity to a radioactive source.
World Nuclear News 28th Nov 2016 read more »
Japan’s government estimates the cost of cleaning up radioactive contamination and compensating victims of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster has more than doubled, reports say. The latest estimate from the trade ministry put the expected cost at some 20 trillion yen ($180bn, £142bn). The original estimate was for $50bn, which was increased to $100bn three years later. The majority of the money will go towards compensation, with decontamination taking the next biggest slice. Storing the contaminated soil and decommissioning are the two next greatest costs. The compensation pot has been increased by about 50% and decontamination estimates have been almost doubled. The BBC’s Japan correspondent, Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, says it is still unclear who is going to pay for the clean up. Japan’s government has long promised that Tokyo Electric Power, the company that owns the plant, will eventually pay the money back. But on Monday it admitted that electricity consumers would be forced to pay a portion of the clean up costs through higher electricity bills. Critics say this is effectively a tax on the public to pay the debt of a private electricity utility. The fault that caused the earthquake and tsunami is still causing trouble. Last week, a magnitude 7.4 earthquake hit Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures. Japan’s scientists said this was a strong aftershock of the massive 2011 quake. This time, Japan escaped with only a few reports of minor injuries, and tsunami waves of over 1m.
BBC 28th Nov 2016 read more »
The most eye-catching pledge is Fillon’s promise to introduce an EU-wide carbon price floor of €30 per tonne – a policy also backed by current Prime Minister Francois Hollande. Fillon contends the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) in its current form is “malfunctioning” and the best way to make it more effective is to raise the price of a tonne of carbon. Any such move is likely to face stiff opposition from heavy industry, as has been the case with the continued lobbying against the UK’s own carbon floor price. But thanks to France’s relatively green energy system – due to its high proportion of nuclear power, it has the lowest carbon footprint of any country in Europe – Fillon insists it is in France’s “competitive interests” to push for a high carbon floor price. Elsewhere in the document, Fillon makes clear that he wants nuclear to continue to play a key role in the French energy system going forward. Criticising incumbent President Francois Hollande’s plant to decrease the share of nuclear in electricity production from 73 per cent today to 50 per cent by 2025, branding the plan “dogmatic, untenable and against the public interest”. Instead, Fillon proposes extending the life of France’s 58 reactors to run for 60 years instead of the planned 40.
Business Green 28th Nov 2016 read more »
Renewables – small hydro
In the western Himalayas, the entire village of Hamal is powered by a small hydroelectric plant on the edge of the Shalvi river. Producing 2MW per hour, the plant provides enough power to light up 100 homes at a time, ending the village’s once-endemic power cuts. Small hydro projects, producing up to 25MW per hour, have the potential to transform India’s rural communities and are being driven by companies such as Vaishnavi Consultants, which completed the Hamal project in 2014. The Indian government has said that by the end of March 2017 it hopes privately owned small hydro will be adding 7,000MW per hour to the national grid, enough to power more than a million light-bulbs, although there is little indication as to whether they are on track.
Guardian 29th Nov 2016 read more »
Renewables – offshore wind
A Glasgow-based British government energy business development agency is to hold a competition for wind power developers to ‘road-test’ their technology to find ways of bringing down costs. The Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult wants SMEs to compete for access to its 7MW offshore wind demonstration turbine in Fife to prove and commercialise innovative new sensing technologies. OREC is developing a digital clone of its Levenmouth turbine by fitting sensors to its blades, tower and substructure to monitor its behaviour in real-world conditions. In parallel, it will provide the opportunity to a number of emerging technology developers to demonstrate and validate their latest innovations alongside existing best-in-class products.
Scottish Energy News 29th Nov 2016 read more »
The global market for battery chemical lithium is likely to remain “fairly balanced” for the next four to five years with supply rising to meet increased demand from electric vehicles, according to Albemarle, one of the biggest producers. Demand for lithium is likely to rise by 20,000 tonnes a year until 2021, Luke Kissam, chief executive of the US-listed company said on Monday. But that can be met from additional expansion from the largest global producers, he added.
FT 28th Nov 2016 read more »
Fuel poverty action groups have called for the Scottish Government to ensure that plans to force private landlords to ensure that rented homes are warm and free from damp are brought in as soon as possible as a charity south of the border warned that many people are suffering from illness and anxiety as they struggle to heat their homes. Energy Action Scotland said that while the Scottish Government is taking action to tackle fuel poverty, particularly in the rented sector, the new Regulation of Energy Efficiency in Private Sector Homes (REEP) needed to be introduced as fast as possible after a consultation next spring to help people living in cold, damp properties. Sister charity National Energy Action yesterday launched a campaign to lobby the UK Government to consider similar legislation. It said that four million households in the UK still face the problems of living in a cold, damp home, affecting their life chances. The problem is particularly acute in privately rented homes such as bedsits and hostels.
Scotsman 28th Nov 2016 read more »
China could waste as much as half a trillion dollars on unnecessary new coal-fired power stations, a climate campaign group has said, arguing that the world’s top carbon polluter already has more than enough such facilities. China’s rise to become the world’s second largest economy was largely powered by cheap, dirty coal. But as growth slows, the country has had a difficult time weaning itself off the fuel, even as the pollution it causes wreaks havoc on the environment and public health.
Guardian 28th Nov 2016 read more »