SHARES in Toshiba, the prime mover behind plans for a nuclear power station in west Cumbria, have gone into freefall. Forty per cent has been wiped off the Japanese company’s value after it said on Monday that its US subsidiary, Westinghouse Electric, may have overpaid by several billions of dollars for another nuclear construction and services business. To compound matters, the company is embroiled in an accounting scandal. Its shares plunged to 259 yen (£1.81) on Thursday before staging a modest recovery on Friday. It is not clear what, if any, impact the crisis will have on plans for a £10bn nuclear power station at Moorside, Sellafield. However, the agency Moody’s has downgraded Toshiba’s ratings and warned that the writedown could affect the company’s ability to pay its debts. Toshiba holds a 60 per cent stake in Moorside developer NuGen, alongside ENGIE of France. A decision on whether to proceed with the project is due in 2018. NuGen has been seeking further backers for the scheme and is understood to have held talks about potential investment from the Korea Electrical Power Corporation.
In Cumbria 30th Dec 2016 read more »
Shares in Japanese industrial giant Toshiba slumped for the third successive day yesterday in a tailspin that has wiped nearly 50 per cent off the value of the business. It comes after the company’s chairman warned that its US nuclear business may be worth less than previously thought. Toshiba’s shares fell a further 26 per cent at one stage in Tokyo yesterday, but pulled back some of those losses to close down 17 per cent.
Scotsman 30th Dec 2016 read more »
Westinghouse’s woes help explain why the nuclear industry has seen its dreams of global growth sputter. Until recently, the company was regarded as the industry’s front-runner, the only nuclear supplier to have landed contracts for its next-generation reactor in both the US and China. But a series of missteps and unexpected problems have snarled nuclear projects by Westinghouse and rivals including Areva and General Electric. Fifty-four reactors are under construction in 13 nations, and 33 are badly delayed, according to the World Nuclear Industry Status Report, an independent annual assessment. Blunders have afflicted projects regardless of location, reactor design or construction consortiums. To lower costs and speed construction times, Westinghouse and its competitors came up with cookie-cutter plant designs in which major sections would be built as modules in factories and then hauled to plant sites for final assembly. Gone was the customisation that added expense. But the strategy appears to have backfired. “Supply-chain issues just moved from the plant sites to the factories. It didn’t solve the basic issue of quality control,” said Mycle Schneider, a nuclear expert based in Paris. And cookie-cutter designs meant flaws got replicated. In France, Areva is trying to get to the bottom of a scandal involving falsified records for critical components that have wound up in nuclear plants there and in other countries, including the US. The problems appear to stretch back decades and to have gone unnoticed despite supposedly strict government supervision. Areva has said it is co-operating with investigators from France and other nations. “There’s a world-wide problem with managing these megaprojects,” said Edwin Lyman, senior scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, DC. “Managers grossly underestimated the time and cost of construction.”
The Australian 30th Dec 2016 read more »
TWO volunteers from Burnham-on-Sea RNLI visited a key part of the Hinkley C construction plans to advise on safety issues ahead of the development. Chairman of Burnham-on-Sea RNLI Ashley Edwards and Matt Davies, lifeboat operations manager, visited the Fugro F1200 jack-up barge, currently berthed in Avonmouth, to offer safety tips ahead of construction. The barge will be used to ferry building materials to the site, with a temporary jetty set up in Bridgwater Bay during construction.
Burnham & Highbridge Weekly News 30th Dec 2016 read more »
EDF Energy has been given the go-ahead to start using its new £200million dry fuel store at the Sizewell B nuclear power station. The go-ahead, from the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), comes two months after the company submitted details of the precautions it would take to safely operate the facility EDF staff have spent the past few months testing the plant inside the state-of-the-art store which covers an area equivalent to a football pitch. The company started planning the new store five years ago after it became clear that the existing facility, which stores highly radioactive spent fuel under water, was nearing capacity. It applied to the ONR in October for permission in the form of a “licence instrument” to start using the new facility and a go-head has now been given. The new Sizewell B store is capable of holding all the spent fuel from the remainder of the expected 60 years of operation of the power station. Inside the store, fuel elements removed from the reactor will be encased in stainless steel and concrete.
Ipswich Star 29th Dec 2016 read more »
East Anglian Daily Times 29th Dec 2016 read more »
The Republic of Ireland attempted to use the international horror over the Chernobyl nuclear accident in the former Soviet Union to press for a cessation of all discharges from the Sellafield plant in the UK. Secret documents, released under the 30-year rule, also reveal concerns the Chernobyl fall-out cloud might drift over Ireland. Weeks after the accident, vegetables from a German embassy garden in Moscow had 10 times the normal levels of radiation. A secret briefing note for Taoiseach Dr Garret FitzGerald, dated December 4, 1986, warned the outright closure of Sellafield would also be “more complex than it might appear”.
Belfast Telegraph 30th Dec 2016 read more »
A year after a north Wales nuclear power station switched off its reactors, workers at the site are slowly adapting to the new challenge of removing used fuel. About 74,000 spent radioactive fuel cells remain at Wylfa on Anglesey. Every one of them will be taken to Sellafield in Cumbria for reprocessing. The change in focus has proved a personal and technical challenge for the workforce, which has been cut by about 200 posts in the past year. But senior production technician Gareth Jackson told BBC Wales’ George Herd the de-fuelling process had offered him some job security.
BBC 30th Dec 2016 read more »
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today outlined its highlights for 2016, ahead of its 60th anniversary year. These included a report on verification and monitoring in Iran, the entry into force of the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM), response to the outbreak of the Zika crisis in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the promotion of safe nuclear solutions towards sustainable development worldwide.
World Nuclear News 30th Dec 2016 read more »
Independent companies challenging Britain’s big six energy suppliers warned the government to stop meddling in gas and electricity markets as ministers consider whether more action is needed to drive down household bills. Executives said “blunt instruments” such as price caps risked reducing competition and deterring investment — the opposite of what the government says it wants to achieve. Bill Bullen, chief executive of Utilita, one of the largest independent energy suppliers, told ministers: “Just get out the way. You are more a problem than a solution.” His comments, to the Financial Times, were echoed by Juliet Davenport, chief executive of Good Energy, another big independent supplier. “It is time for the government to step back,” she said. “More intervention will create more uncertainty.”
FT 30th Dec 2016 read more »
Inside Chinese abandoned secret nuclear city known as 404.
Daily Mail 31st Dec 2016 read more »
CONSERVATIONISTS have teamed up with the green energy industry to demand the Scottish Government sets a new target to ensure half the country’s power comes from renewables by 2030. WWF Scotland and Scottish Renewables made the call following what they believe has been a “landmark” year for Scottish renewable energy thanks to world firsts, record setting and innovation. Among the milestone achievements in 2016 were the creation of the world’s first fully operational array of tidal power turbines off Shetland and plans for kite power stations and floating wind farms. WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “2016 was without doubt a landmark year for renewables in Scotland, with several world firsts achieved, new records set, and amazing innovation shown.”
Scotsman 30th Dec 2016 read more »
WIND farms could become more efficient after a breakthrough by scientists. New insights into the fluctuations of wind energy have been discovered. The amount of energy generated by renewables fluctuate. On particularly windy days, for example, surges in power generated by wind turbines have been known to overwhelm the electrical grid, causing power outages. Dealing with the peaks and troughs of intermittent renewable energy will become increasingly challenging as governments try to phase out of more stable coal-powered energy sources. But now Professor Mahesh Bandi, head of the collective interactions unit at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University, Japan, has used experimental wind plant data to explain the statistical nature of these fluctuations. The study published in Physical Review Letters said wind speed patterns can be depicted as a spectrum on a graph. In the past, some scientists have argued that the power produced by geographically dispersed wind turbines in windy and calm locations at any one point in time will average out when they reach a centralised grid. But Mr Bandi’s findings show that this phenomenon, known as “geographic smoothing”, only works to a certain extent. A surge in power at one wind turbine plant will coincide with the surge at a far-away plant within the same long time-scale eddy, meaning that the power they provide for the grid cannot be averaged out. Mr Bandi said: “Understanding the nature of fluctuations in wind turbine power has immediate implications for economic and political decision making.”
Herald 31st Dec 2016 read more »
Protesters have called themselves the “frontline in the fight against fracking” as they prepare to camp out on New Year’s Eve by one of the two UK sites where the practice is has been given the go-ahead. Activists moved on to private farmland near Kirby Misperton, North Yorkshire, just before Christmas, after the high court rejected a legal move to stop plans for fracking at a well south-west of the village. A handful of campers braved Christmas Day outdoors with the sub-zero temperatures that have followed, but say hundreds more people have come to show their support at the site over the last week from the local area an d around the country. One camper, Eddie Thornton, from nearby Pickering, said on Friday that the protesters would continue the “peaceful non-violent resistance” until gas firm Third Energy withdrew its plans to test for shale gas.
Guardian 30th Dec 2016 read more »