Senior engineers at French utility EDF have called for at least a two year delay at the controversial Hinkley Point nuclear project in the UK and recommended a redesign of the reactor technology. An internal white paper written by dissenting EDF engineers, which has been seen by the Financial Times, argues that Hinkley Point is so complex and untested that the company should announce a later completion date than the target of 2025. The paper, circulated among top executives, said that the “realistic service date was 2027” due to the size of the project, continuing design modifications to the European Pressurised Reactor system and the “very low” competency of French supplier Areva in making some of the large components. The white paper also made the case for a “new EPR”, calling on the company to redesign the current reactor technology to make it smaller, cheaper to build and less complicated. Three people close to the company said that CGN, EDF’s Chinese partner for Hinkley, also feared possible delays, attempting to insert a clause so it would take on a lower financial risk if there were a large problem. But the majority of the 18-strong board is likely to vote in favour of the deal in May, according to people close to the group. The company is 85 per cent state owned, and the government wants the project to go ahead.
FT 29th March 2016 read more »
The opening of the Hinkley Point nuclear power station should be pushed back at least two years and its reactor technology redesigned, according to a letter from senior engineers on the project. The French company EDF, which plans to build the power plant in Somerset to generate 6 per cent of Britain’s energy, was struck a fresh blow in a letter from engineers warning that its technology was over-complex and its planned completion date unrealistic. A white paper circulated internally at the company said that the plans for the site were so complicated and untested that the company should expect completion of construction at least two years later than the target of 2025, according to the Financial Times. The group of dissenting engineers reportedly blamed the proposed delay on the “very low” competency of the French supplier Areva in manufacturing some of the l arger components, the large scale of the project, and the continuing design modifications to the reactors. They concluded that a “realistic service date was 2027”. Maintaining the original timetable is particularly important because the planned completion date is designed to coincide with the closure of the last coal-fired power stations in the UK. The internal document also argued that the company should redesign the EPR to make it smaller, cheaper to build and more simple. According to the newspaper, three people close to EDF said that CGN, the company’s Chinese partner for the power station, was also concerned about possible delays. The sources added that the Chinese firm was attempting to insert a clause ensuring that it would take on a reduced financial risk in the event of a large problem.
Times 30th March 2016 read more »
According to existing plans, 2025 is set to be a pivotal moment in the history of British energy. By the end of that year, the UK’s last coal-fired power station is meant to have closed while the country’s first new nuclear plant in 30 years should have opened. This would be the biggest step yet in the country’s planned transition away from fossil fuels and towards zero-carbon energy. The problem for ministers is that over the past few months, the closure of old coal power plants has accelerated while the likelihood of Hinkley Point nuclear power station opening by 2025 appears to be receding. The internal report from a group of EDF engineers who are pushing for a 2027 start date is the latest sign of that. scenarios drawn up National Grid, the company whose job it is to keep daily supplies running, show that without new nuclear power by the mid-2020s, carbon emissions will be higher and baseload electricity prices more volatile. In its “Future Energy Scenarios” document drawn up last yea r, it argues that new nuclear by the mid-2020s is a “cornerstone” of its predictions for a green energy future. If it becomes clear in the next few years that Hinkley Point is not likely to open until after 2025, ministers will be able to plug the gaps by giving subsidies to companies to provide back-up power. Under the “capacity market” system, the government awards billions of pounds’ worth of top-up payments to encourage companies to build reserve power.
FT 29th March 2016 read more »
The prospect of dozens, possibly hundreds of jobs across Sedgemoor and North Somerset at the planned £18billion Hinkley Point C nuclear plant could be delayed for at least two more years, according to an expert on the project. Steve Thomas, a professor of energy policy at the University of Greenwich, told the Mercury around £13billion of the plant’s financing is yet to be agreed, and could remain that way until 2018. He said: “The loan guarantees which make up about 70 per cent of the money for the project were originally dependent on another nuclear plant in France, called Flamanville, going ahead by the end of 2020. “But the reactor vessels for that plant are currently being scrutinised because they have anomalies in them – and the report on that won’t be finished this year, and may not be finished next year either. “That 2020 clause has since been quietly deleted, but we don’t know why or what has replaced it.”
Weston Mercury 30th March 2016 read more »
Energy & Climate Change Committee Hinkley investigation.
House of Commons 23rd March 2016 read more »
THE reactor design for the proposed nuclear power plant in Cumbria is taking longer than expected to get approval. But the US firm behind the reactor, Westinghouse Electric, says it is confident the design for Moorside, at Sellafield, is safe and will get the go ahead. NuGen wants to build three Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at Moorside with a combined output of 3.6GW – enough to power six million homes and supply 7.5 per cent of the UK’s electricity needs. It is due to make a final investment decision in 2018, with work starting two years later. But the timetable is based on the design being approved in January 2017. That date now looks certain to slip. Westinghouse needs a design acceptance confirmation from the Office for Nuclear Regulation and a statement of design acceptability from the Environment Agency. The regulators have just issued a quarterly update warning of delays in the generic design assessment process. Their report says: “There has been closure programme slippage and a lack of technical convergence in some areas. “This means that we have still to agree with Westinghouse the full extent of the work required to close out all of the GDA issues.
In Cumbria 29th March 2016 read more »
Carlisle News and Star 29th March 2016 read more »
Nuclear Industry Association chief executive Tom Greatrex has warned the government not to repeat the mistakes made with its failed carbon capture and storage competition process as it launches the first phase of a competition to encourage the development of small modular reactors. Greatrex said a road map for SMRs set to be published by the government over the summer will be key to the success of its efforts.
Utility Week 29th March 2016 read more »
Rolls Royce is suggesting that it can leverage its decades of experience building nuclear power plants for Royal Navy Submarines to build what are called Small Modular (Nuclear) reactors (SMRs). SMRs are an innovative concept in that they get around many of the problems associated with traditional reactors. Rather than having the reactor built onsite as a traditional construction project, the SMRs are built in a factory and then shipped to a site for installation as part of a larger facility. The process of making many reactors over and over again using the same techniques in a factory controlled setting has the potential to lower power generation costs for nuclear by at least 20 percent according to Rolls Royce.
Oil Price 29th March 2016 read more »
The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has warned Britain’s nuclear industry faces growing threats from terrorism, cyberattacks and state-sponsored espionage.
Utility Week 29th March 2016 read more »
A security guard who worked at a Belgian nuclear medical research facility was murdered two days after the Brussels bombings, it emerged yesterday (Saturday 26 March), deepening fears that Islamist terror cells are plotting attacks against nuclear installations. Didier Prospero, a guard with the G4S security company, was shot dead at his home in the Froidchapelle district of Brussels on less than 24 hours after Belgian authorities stripped several workers of their security passes at two nuclear plants this week. The circumstances of 45-year-old Mr Prospero’s death remained murky last night, with conflicting reports over whether or not the murder was linked to terrorism, or if his work security pass had been stolen.
EU Reporter 26th March 2016 read more »
Cyber security for the UK’s arsenal of nuclear weapons at Faslane is to be upgraded to counter attacks from hackers. It is understood the US-built Trident missile system will be given increased protection from threats posed by rogue nations such as North Korea and terrorists groups including so-called Islamic State.
STV 30th March 2016 read more »
Evening Express 30th March 2016 read more »
The UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) plans to increase its “frontline resources” by 9-10% each year until 2020, according to the Strategic Plan it published last week. This is needed to ensure the ONR can “respond positively” to an increase in regulatory demand from the period of “substantial growth” that the country’s nuclear industry is experiencing.
World Nuclear News 29th March 2016 read more »
Alex Russell: No one can accurately predict when, if ever, the cornerstone of that policy, the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant, will be built. Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, has not only put UK’s energy eggs in this one basket but, as an interim measure, championed the use of UK-produced shale gas to generate the power to keep the lights on. This stance is a blatant panic measure that defies logic. Scotland currently has imposed a moratorium on fracking for gas and on undersea coal gasification. Given Rudd’s strident claims for the benefits from fracking of huge job creation, energy security and thwarting the economic ambitions of Russia, it is not surprising that a Conservative councillor Ross Thomson has taken up the cudgels and is challenging the continuation of the moratorium in Scotland. A reversal of the decision to impose a moratorium on fracking would be a kick in the teeth for those Scots who joined the SNP after the referendum and who believe in a better approach to economics and equality. It could derail the independence bandwagon.
Energy Voice 29th March 2016 read more »
On 26 April 1986, a catastrophic nuclear accident occurred at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in northern Ukraine. An explosion and subsequent fire released large quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere, which spread over much of the western USSR and Europe. Almost 30 years on, Eòrpa reporter Anne Lundon travelled there to find out about the continued impact the disaster has on the country.
BBC 30th March 2016 read more »
ITV 29th March 2016 read more »
Telegraph 29th March 2016 read more »
Daily Mail 29th March 2016 read more »
Despite their turbulent political relations, the US and Russia continue their co-operation when it comes to issues of nuclear safety and upholding nuclear nonproliferation. One of the key joint programs of the two countries is aimed at returning highly enriched uranium intended for research reactors back to its country of origin. This is a unique project in the nuclear energy sector with the participation of highly-trained specialists from both countries that work with third countries in order to strengthen the world security. One of the most important objectives of the Research Reactor Fuel Return Program is preventing illegal proliferation of nuclear materials and derivatives thereof. This is an attempt by both countries to make every effort to prevent spent nuclear fuel materials and highly enriched uranium from getting in the hands of terrorists.
EU Reporter 30th March 2016 read more »
Bernie Sanders has called for phasing out all U.S. nuclear power plants, which currently account for 19 percent of our electricity portfolio. Nuclear energy has plenty of problems: reactors can melt down, they are ripe targets for terrorists, they are wildly uneconomical, mining the uranium that feeds them is dangerous and environmentally destructive, and no one wants the spent fuel stored nearby. These are the reasons Sanders has long been an opponent of nuclear energy. A few decades ago, that was a widespread view on the left. But now climate change has become the main concern of many environmentalists, and nuclear energy’s saving grace is that it has virtually no carbon emissions.
Grist 28th March 2016 read more »
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo blasted the troubling conditions at the Indian Point Energy Center on Tuesday evening, announcing in a statement that hundreds of faulty bolts were found within one of its reactors.
Business Insider 29th March 2016 read more »
US nuclear power plants are joining coal plants in losing out to lower-cost natural gas and renewables for electric generation. Low gas prices have already put the brakes on a revival of US nuclear construction and are blamed for the premature retirement of reactors in four states. Owners of nuclear plants in Florida and California also decided to retire, rather than repair, damaged reactors based on future low-priced gas expectations.
Argus Media 29th March 2016 read more »
IT IS time for the gloves to come off. The onus is on those who support the procurement of nuclear power stations to demonstrate that this initiative is not corrupt and will not be ruinous for the economy. We face a possible credit rating downgrade to junk, which will make us all poorer: it will cost a lot more to service our debt, there will be less money for social programmes, the rand will fall even further, and inflation will rise. Yet some still promote a huge nuclear programme that is not needed, that is more expensive and risky than alternative energy sources, that is hard to finance, and that will create contingent liabilities for the Treasury when we can least afford them. SA does not need to procure large chunks of new power now. Electricity demand is not growing: it’s falling, and is lower than it was a decade ago. Depressed economic activity is partly the reason, but it’s not the most important one.
BD Live 29th March 2016 read more »
The tiny Pacific state of the Marshall Islands has given oral evidence to the International Court of Justice against all nuclear armed states for failing to pursue disarmament. The UK, India and Pakistan were present to deny the charges, but the US, Russia, France, China, Israel and North Korea have denied the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.
Ecologist 29th March 2016 read more »
Renewables – Geothermal
Plans to drill a deep geothermal well beneath the city of Aberdeen could deliver heating to thousands of nearby homes and an exhibition centre as Scotland looks to accelerate progress towards its goal of 11% non-electrical heat demand coming from renewable sources by 2020. A Government-funded report suggests that the new demonstration scheme, which would exploit geothermal energy through a pipe stretching almost 1.2 miles into the ground, could help position the region as a global energy hub and heighten the potential of this form of energy for the rest of the UK. Aberdeen City Council says it is “willing to support” a bid to fund the “fracking free” scheme which would provide a decarbonised heat supply to local dwellings and the proposed Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC). According to the latest figures from the Scottish Government, Scotland produced enough heat from renewable sources to meet between 3.7% and 3.8% of non-electrical heat demand in 2014 – up from 1% in 2009 but still a long way short of the 11% target set for 2020. Last summer, the Scottish Government released a new policy roadmap which set out its approach to decarbonising the heat system. The Heat Policy Statement outlined a number of new approaches to renewable heat, such as the designation of energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority, and the funding of feasibility studies into the potential for geothermal energy in Scotland.
Edie 29th March 2016 read more »
Renewables – solar
One thousand solar panels – capable of generating 0.2GWh of electricity per annum – have been installed by Scottish Water at its Marchbank water treatment works near Balerno. The treatment works currently produces 40 mega litres of water per day – enough to fill 16 Olympic swimming pools. This means that 17,000 properties in parts of western and southern Edinburgh and areas of West Lothian now receive drinking water which has been treated thanks to the power of the sun.
Scottish Energy News 29th March 2016 read more »
Investment in 1,500 new coal plants around the world could be wasted if action on climate change and pollution prevent them from being used. Almost $1tn of investment in new coal-fired power stations could be wasted if growing concerns about climate change and air pollution leave the plants unused, according to a new report. About 1,500 new coal plants are in construction or planning stages around the world but electricity generation from the fossil fuel has fallen in recent years, the detailed report from the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and CoalSwarm found. In China, existing plants are now used just 50% of the time, coal use is falling and new permits and construction have been halted in half of the nation’s provinces, affecting about 250 plants.
Guardian 30th March 2016 read more »