The taxpayer-funded consortium running Sellafield is performing even more poorly than had been thought, according to the National Audit Office. Nuclear Management Partners, which has just been awarded a five-year extension to its £1.6 billion-a-year contract, is forecast to find only £652 million of savings in its decommissioning programme over the first five years of its contract, below its minimum target of £796 million. The consortium, led by URS, of the United States, and made up of Amec, the FTSE 100-listed engineer, and Areva, the French nuclear specialist, has already faced criticism for running behind schedule and over budget on most of the nuclear clean-up work. Today the Public Accounts Committee will begin its latest investigation into what has gone wrong at Sellafield, home to some of the most contaminated toxic waste in the world. MPs will hear evidence from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, which tendered the contract to NMP, and from the Department of Energy and Climate Change, which funds the authority.
Times 4th Nov 2013 read more »
An analysis from Deutsche Bank makes some observations about the cost of nuclear, the comparisons with gas, the price of abatement, and the cost of upkeep for France’s existing fleet. The first point made by Deutsche is that this deal underlines the fact that nuclear is not cheap, but really, really expensive – a point that should not be forgotten. As we have noted in the other article, the £92.50/MWh strike price is nearly double the current average cost of generation in the UK. Deutsche takes issue with the UK government’s claim that the contract is “competitive with other large-scale clean energy and with gas’. It notes that this contract would only be cheaper than gas generation if the crude oil price (to which UK gas is linked) averages more than $150 barrel in real terms over the next 40 years. This, says Deutsche Bank, is around 3 times the average oil price over the last 40 years, and a 50 per cent premium to the average oil price over the last 5 years.
Renew Economy 4th Nov 2013 read more »
Gas and nuclear power plant projects with sufficient capacity to supply electricity to every UK household are on hold because of government policy dithering, the energy industry claims on Monday. A report by EY, the financial services firm, commissioned by industry body EnergyUK, says that there is “a pipeline of projects ready to build enough additional conventional power stations to replace ageing power stations and to power 25m to 30m homes (27GW) over the next decade”. But it warns: “Many projects are awaiting government policy decisions before committing to construction.” Increasing volumes of subsidised, intermittent wind farms make the economics of gas plant tricky, while the influx of cheap coal from America has made the situation worse. Ministers plan a system of subsidies to encourage gas plants to be built but EY says: “Until finalised, investors remain uncertain; meaning that the vast majority of planned gas power stations have not progressed from the drawing board.”
Telegraph 4th Nov 2013 read more »
Nuclear vs Climate
Scientists urge climate groups to back nuclear power as they warn wind and solar will not be enough to fulfil world’s energy needs. In an open letter to climate campaigners and politicians, the scientists – former Nasa expert James Hansen, Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution, Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tom Wigley of the University of Adelaide – said relying on solar and wind power was ‘unrealistic’.
Daily Mail 4th Nov 2013 read more »
Guardian 3rd Nov 2013 read more »
If you want nuclear as part of the solution, you necessarily need to explain why renewable energy won’t be able to do the job alone. This particular open letter says: Renewables like wind and solar and biomass will certainly play roles in a future energy economy, but those energy sources cannot scale up fast enough to deliver cheap and reliable power at the scale the global economy requires. We’ll have to wait a couple of decades to see if solar and wind are able to provide for 100 percent of energy. Contrary to what Jim Hansen (not an expert on energy systems) thinks, I expect that this will happen. But we already know one thing for sure. Solar and wind have scaled up enough already to make nuclear lose in the market place. Even with nuclear enjoying the benefit of insufficient levels of insurance (leaving the remaining risk for the taxpayer), it just doesn’t make economic sense any more to build new nuclear plants. And if you decide to build a new nuclear plant today, it won’t be able to deliver energy until ten years later, and will then have to compete for a couple of decades against wind and solar at the much more reduced prices these technologies will have then. In contrast, you can build a large solar project in a couple of weeks or months. I am not sure why that is “not fast enough”, but it is sure faster than nuclear by a factor of over ten.
Lenz Blog 4th Nov 2013 read more »
AMEC has agreed to acquire Automated Engineering Services Corp, a 175-person professional design engineering nuclear services firm based in Naperville, Illinois, US, with annual revenues in excess of $30m. The consideration of $29m will be paid in cashand completion is expected by the end of November 2013. Established over 20 years ago, AES provides plant design/modification engineering, engineering analysis, safety, licensing and regulatory services, and engineering programme support to existing nuclear utilities, primarily in the US.
Money AM 4th Nov 2013 read more »
Share Cast 4th Nov 2013 read more »
CUMBRIA County Council is to debate a new consultation document which has been drawn up to find a way forward on the controversial underground storage of radioactive waste. The review was prompted by the council’s decision in January to pull out of the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely process. The storage of nuclear waste underground – known as geological disposal – has been a divisive issue for Cumbrians. The consultation document, which Cumbria county councillors will debate on Thursday, asserts that geological disposal ‘provides a long-term, safe solution to radioactive waste management that does not depend on ongoing human intervention’.
Westmorland Gazette 3rd Nov 2013 read more »
The row over high energy bills was stoked on Sunday, with new figures seen by the Guardian showing that npower, one of the big six suppliers, owed its customers almost £400m at one stage last year. The latest controversy around overcharging comes as Sam Laidlaw, the boss of Centrica and the most senior executive in the energy supply sector, breaks his silence to admit at the CBI conference on Monday that public trust in his industry has broken down. Npower, which is owned by the German generator RWE, claimed the £400m had been created largely through the direct debit system as householders built up a balance ahead of higher winter fuel consumption. But Caroline Flint MP, the shadow energy and climate change secretary, said energy prices were high enough without people being charged for gas and electricity they were yet to use.
Guardian 3rd Nov 2013 read more »
SMEs can save on their energy bills. Four of the Big Six energy companies have announced significant price rises this winter, but 29 per cent of SMEs rarely or never check their energy tariffs, according to AXA. It says that, on average, those that switch their energy supplier save 30 per cent — the equivalent of £399 on the average SME energy bill of £1,331. Applied to all those that never change tariff, that equates to more than £500 million.
Times 4th Nov 2013 read more »
CHILDREN living near the scene of one of the worst nuclear disasters in history have been given clothes, food and school supplies from a north Durham aid mission. Two trucks packed with donations travelled from the area to villages around the town of Brest, in Belarus, which suffered from high levels of radioactive pollution following the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion in 1986.
Northern Echo 3rd Nov 2013 read more »
A “significant milestone” is at hand for cleanup of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, with spent nuclear fuel removal likely to start on schedule, the U.S. Energy Secretary said on Friday after a visit to the site.
Reuters 1st Nov 2013 read more »
The Cold War has long since thawed – but Russia is still trying to get one over the rest of the world in the technological stakes. Nuclear missiles aren’t the name of the game though – the nation is building a floating nuclear power plant which it hopes to switch on in September 2016. Last month state energy firm Rosatom’s subsidiary installed the second reactor of the ship, called ‘Akademik Lomonosov’, at a shipyard in St Petersburg.
Energy Live 4th Nov 2013 read more »
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei voiced his support on Sunday for Iran’s talks with world powers over its disputed nuclear programme while expressing pessimism about them.
Middle East Online 3rd Nov 2013 read more »
A bid to renationalise the electricity grid in the German capital Berlin has narrowly failed in a referendum. The measure was backed by 24% of those eligible to vote, but a quorum of 25% was needed for it to pass. It had been supported by green groups, who believe the current provider relies too much on coal. Opponents said it would burden Berlin with debt. In a referendum last month, Hamburg, Germany’s second biggest city, voted to buy back its energy grid. In Berlin’s referendum, 80% of those who voted supported the measure, but a “yes” vote required at least 25% of eligible voters to cast ballots and that figure fell just short.
BBC 4th Nov 2013 read more »
FT 4th Nov 2013 read more »
BENEATH a patchwork of green fields and beech forests not far from the city of Brunswick, Germany, lies an environmental time bomb. Known as Asse II, it is an abandoned salt mine used as a makeshift store for hundreds of thousands of drums of radioactive waste, dumped there during the 1960s and 70s. In 1988, groundwater began seeping through the walls of the mine as many had feared, threatening disaster. Since then, a fractious debate has raged over how best to deal with the mine’s contents. Each week, hundreds of litres of brine entering the chambers are collected and stored with the drums of waste, and the mine’s structure is becoming unstable. So a decision had to be made: should engineers backfill the chambers, abandon the mine and leave the waste there in perpetuity, or should they remove it all? Both options are risky. Removing the waste will be complex.
New Scientist 4th Nov 2013 read more »
Centrica is preparing to abandon a £2bn offshore wind farm project because subsidies offered by the government are too low. The British Gas owner will not build the Race Bank wind farm, 17 miles off the north Norfolk coast, unless proposed subsidies are significantly increased, three sources told The Telegraph. Ministers will not confirm final subsidy levels until December but are thought unlikely to increase draft prices enough for the project, which Centrica said could power 450,000 homes, to go ahead. The move will raise fresh doubts over the future for the offshore wind industry, which ministers publicly insist they want to see developed.
Telegraph 3rd Nov 2013 read more »
Fracking could be subject to wide-ranging new European rules that the industry fears will undermine its plans to follow America, where shale wells have sharply reduced the price of gas. The European Commission is to announce proposals for legislation on shale gas in January as part of its 2030 energy and climate-change strategy. It will argue that the industry would benefit from greater certainty about the environmental standards it will have to meet.
Times 4th Nov 2013 read more »