A recent conversation with an acquaintance who happens to be a senior civil servant left me strangely dejected. This was no reflection on his conversational skills or personable qualities he is a charming guy. My dejection stemmed from a sense that we had very different views on what constitutes rationality. One of the matters we touched on was nuclear energy. My acquaintance bemoaned the fact that the general public was so irrational on this issue. I think he meant that nuclear was a relatively low-carbon, low-risk (if properly managed) energy source that, unlike, say, wind power, was capable of delivering a consistent flow of megawattage to the national grid. I am partly guessing there, but I am quite sure he was, and is, convinced that he knows the answer that nuclear is a desirable part of the solution to our energy needs and that the public is somehow misinformed and needs to be put right on the subject. I dont know what came over me, but I started to harangue this quite important personage on public perceptions and assessment of risk. Belatedly, I found that the often dry and intricate studies I had undertaken while doing an MSc in environmental policy at the LSE nearly a decade ago had become urgently relevant. The self-styled voices of rationality complain that people who fear nuclear energy are acting emotionally or, worse, hysterically. But this patronising attitude ignores the fact that peoples acceptance of risk is heavily influenced by such factors as whether risks are undertaken voluntarily, whether people feel included in the decision-making process, and whether they trust the experts.
FT 2nd July 2011 more >>
Next week Lynas publishes a new book, The God Species: How the Planet Can Survive the Age of Humans, in which he takes his argument with the green movement a step further. The book accuses the greens of having helped cause climate change through their opposition to nuclear power, and calls this a “gargantuan error, and one that will echo down the ages”.
Guardian 2nd July 2011 more >>
Electricity Market Reform
Government plans for a carbon floor price have been criticised in a new report from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR). According to the research, the implementation of such a policy in the UK would essentially create two prices for CO2 one in Britain and one in the rest of Europe. It claims this would prevent the central aim of the policy, to slash CO2 emissions, as British firms would simply sell the surplus emissions credits on to others in Europe, giving them licence to produce more CO2. The policy would also lead to £1 billion of economic waste, the IPPR said. “Because a floor price for carbon in the UK will depress the carbon price elsewhere in Europe, the UK will effectively hand over billions to European polluters,” the institute’s Andrew Pendleton said.
Low Carbon Economy 30th June 2011 more >>
Business Green 28th June 2011 more >>
Npower, one of Britains biggest electricity suppliers, could be sold for up to £5 billion after its German owner hired Goldman Sachs to review its future. The firm has been a prize asset of RWE, the German utility giant, for nearly a decade. Insiders said it was now considering a sale because of its hefty debt burden, the need to invest billions in a new generation of green power stations and a dissatisfaction with British energy policy. An auction of Npower would shake up the electricity and gas market. The company provides gas and electricity to 6.8m homes, generates 8% of the UKs electricity, and employs 11,000 staff. Iberdrola, the Spanish power company that owns Scottish Power, is regarded as a likely buyer. The move comes as the coalition government puts the finishing touches to a radical new architecture for the power market that it hopes will encourage investment in nuclear power stations, wind farms and other technologies. Chris Huhne, the energy secretary, will this month publish the final version of the governments controversial energy white paper, which will set out the blueprint for a £200 billion, low-carbon makeover of the industry. RWEs troubles also raise immediate questions about our already delayed plans for a new fleet of nuclear stations. RWE and Eon formed one of three consortiums behind plans for plants in Britain. While some have questioned RWEs commitment to nuclear power, senior sources say the German group could sell Npower and continue to invest in the new plants.
Sunday Times 3rd July 2011 more >>
There is also growing concern that Eon and RWE, which formed one of the three consortiums to build new plants in Britain, could scrap their plans after the German government announced a ban on nuclear development in its home market.
Sunday Times 3rd July 2011 more >>
Letter from Radiation Free Lakeland to Lake District National Park. I am resending the 11th April Paper by Professor David Smythe (employed by Nirex ) which I sent to you some months ago outlining why Cumbria is not suitable for deep disposal of high level nuclear wastes.
Radiation Free Lakeland 3rd July 2011 more >>
HOW radioactive waste is dealt with at Dounreay is set to feature in a prime-time TV programme about radiation and nuclear energy. A film crew from BBCs Bang Goes the Theory spent two days in and around the site this week recording material for the programme. Radioactive waste forms part of the 30-minute programme, which examines nuclear energy in light of the UK Governments renewed interest in the technology and the recent accident in Japan. Presenter Dallas Campbell will lead the segment featuring radioactive waste.
John O Groat Journal 1st July 2011 more >>
Darren Nisbett, has turned this concept on its head to produce a hauntingly ghostlike series of infrared works depicting the post-nuclear evacuation zone around the Chernobyl power plant and the battle for dominance between old soviet architecture and new encroaching flora. Chernobyls Zone of Alienation will be exhibited throughout July 2011 at the Rhubarb and Custard gallery, Eton, Berkshire. The exhibition coincides with the Chernobyl disasters 25th anniversary year.
Press Dispensary 21st June 2011 more >>
A former nuclear adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan blasted the government’s handling of the crisis, and predicted more revelations of radiation threats to the public in the coming months. In his first media interview since resigning his post in protest in April, Toshiso Kosako, one of the country’s leading experts on radiation safety, said Mr. Kan’s government has been slow to test for dangers in the sea and to fish, and has understated certain radiation threats to minimize clean-up costs. In his post, Mr. Kosako’s role was to advise the prime minister on radiation safety. And while there have been scattered reports of food contaminationof tea leaves and spinach, for exampleMr. Kosako predicted there will be broader discoveries later this year, especially as rice, Japan’s staple, is harvested.
Wall Street Journal 2nd July 2011 more >>
Its been one of the mysteries of Japans ongoing nuclear disaster: How much of the damage did the March 11 earthquake inflict on Fukushima Daiichis reactors in the 40 minutes before the devastating tsunami arrived? The stakes are high: If the quake alone structurally compromised the plant and the safety of its nuclear fuel, then every other similar reactor in Japan is at risk.
Atlantic Wire 2nd July 2011 more >>
Russia may look to export energy to Germany from a new generation of nuclear plants, the country’s atomic energy agency told a German newspaper a day after Berlin confirmed plans to stop using atomic power by 2022.
Reuters 1st July 2011 more >>
It’s been tried before, but this time Germany means it: In about a decade, the world’s fourth-largest industrial nation will have to get by without atomic energy, following parliament’s approval of the government’s nuclear phase-out plans on Thursday. German commentators agree there is no going back.
Der Spiegel 1st July 2011 more >>
This week’s Micro Power News has news that Ed Miliband is challenging the Government’s solar cuts; plans by a solar company to expand in Cornwall; a new micro-CHP boiler has gained certification; Solarcentury has installed 3000 panels in an Oxfordshire business park, and much more.
Microgen Scotland 1st July 2011 more >>
Britain faces an energy generation gap, according to new research showing that several power plants are going to be forced to shut down years ahead of schedule. The news will pile pressure on the government over its stuttering plans to implement a £200 billion overhaul of the industry. This month it will publish its final plan to replace fossil-fuelled stations with nuclear plants and wind farms. Under an EU directive, owners of coal-fired stations were forced to invest hundreds of millions to reduce emissions from old plants. Those who opted out were given 20,000 hours to operate before closing them down. The high price of gas it has risen by a third this year means stations burning cheaper coal have been running flat out and eating through their allotted time sooner than originally envisioned. Scottish Powers Cockenzie plant, near Edinburgh, could close within six months, according to Utilyx, the energy consultancy. Eons giant Kingsnorth plant in Kent is set to close within a year, while Npower has stopped burning coal at its Tilbury plant in Essex and plans to convert it to run on wood chips.
Sunday Times 3rd July 2011 more >>
ALMOST 170,000 more households could be forced into fuel poverty if Scottish Power’s price hike is replicated by the other suppliers. The new figure was revealed in answers to parliamentary questions from the Scottish Labour Party. Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure Alex Neil said as of 2009, 770,000 households were estimated to be in fuel poverty, but if recently announced price increases by Scottish Power were replicated by other suppliers, up to 169,000 more households could suffer.
Scotland on Sunday 3rd July 2011 more >>