A new report commissioned by Greenpeace from an independent group of nuclear energy experts has exposed the decrepit state of Europe’s nuclear reactors showing that ageing is an urgent issue in most European countries that have nuclear power plants. Analysis for the report shows that 44% of European nuclear reactors are over thirty years old. The average age across Europe is now 29 years, while a typical design lifetime is 30 or 40 years. It raises the prospect of a new era of nuclear risk across Europe – unless governments resist calls for reactors to be operated beyond their intended lifetimes.
Greenpeace 5th March 2014 read more »
Out of Age 5th March 2014 read more »
Contractors have expressed concern over the government’s lack of a “plan B” should plans for a new nuclear station Hinkley Point C collapse, after construction minister Michael Fallon refused to accept the possibility of a negative decision from Brussels on state aid.
Construction News 3rd March 2014 read more »
The EPR nuclear reactor is a busted flush. The two examples under construction in France and Finland are way over time, and budget. If the UK goes ahead with an EPR at Hinkley Point in Somerset, writes David Toke, the taxpayer will pay a huge price.
Ecologist 4th March 2014 read more »
Nuclear power is back on the UK’s agenda, but what to do with the long-lasting radioactive waste remains the problem. Costing The Earth investigates the best ways to dispose of it. Produced by Martin Poyntz-Roberts In case you missed it, Cumbria Trust has made the above item available to listen to directly from this post. CT Ed note: This programme will have been produced prior to recent events in Carlsbad, New Mexico, where they have now shut down the WIPP (Waste Isolation Pilot Plant) until further notice.
Cumbria Trust 5th March 2014 read more »
The federal government’s only underground nuclear waste site remained shuttered Monday and state environment officials said they have set deadlines for the U.S. Department of Energy and its contractor to deal with radioactive waste left above ground at the repository. Dozens of drums and other special containers that have been shipped to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant from federal facilities around the country are being stored in a parking area at the plant and inside the facility’s waste handling building. From there, the waste is usually taken to its final resting place deep in underground salt beds. However, WIPP has been closed since early February because of back-to-back accidents, including a radiation release that exposed at least 13 workers and set off air monitoring devices around the plant.
Albuquerque Journal 4th March 2014 read more »
Nuclear engineers in Wolverhampton have been celebrating completion of two major pieces of waste handling technology. The two 400-ton Silo Emptying Plants (SEPs) have been built at the Spring Road factory of Nuclear Engineering Services (NES), each assembled from more than 13,500 component parts. The SEP assemblies are called mobile caves and have been designed for use at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing site in Cumbria to retrieve irradiated waste including Magnox swarf – fuel cladding from old power stations dating back to the 1960s – from 22 storage silos. Each cave runs on a rail system and removes the waste using a hydraulic grab and tooling system.
Express and Star 4th March 2014 read more »
A consultation sets out proposals which would allow the NDA to manage by means of interim storage and disposal any small quantities of overseas origin oxide fuels that are either not economic to reprocess or cannot be reprocessed in THORP before it closes in 2018. This approach would permit the NDA to close out the remaining overseas contracts in a cost-effective and timely way, providing more certainty over the future plans for THORP and for the future decommissioning of the Dounreay licensed site.
DECC 3rd March 2014 read more »
Britain’s Heysham 1-1 nuclear reactor was taken offline on Tuesday night, EDF Energy said on Wednesday.The 610-megawatt unit was taken offline at 2114 GMT on Tuesday due to “operational requirements”.
Reuters 5th March 2014 read more »
A vigil is being held in Lancashire to mark the third anniversary of the Fukishima nuclear power station disaster in Japan. The event is being held at Heysham Nuclear Power station on March 8th. Campaigners will use the event to express concerns about how climate change could affect Heysham power stations where nuclear waste is stored on site. Mo Kelly, a local architect, who will discuss rising sea levels, said: ‘When storms occurred this winter, we visited the power station, and were horrified to see that waves within Morecambe Bay were flooding the promenade that runs beside the 1.220mm high flood defence wall on the perimeter of the power station.
Lancashire Evening Post 4th March 2014 read more »
Westmorland Gazette 4th March 2014 read more »
Britain’s nuclear base at Fasland in Scotland faces “severe disruption” after workers yesterday announced strike action over pay. Unite members will stage the first walkouts at the facility for decades on March 10 and 11. The strike was postponed last month but is back on after workers voted by 732 to five to reject the latest “derisory” below-inflation pay offer.
Morning Star 4th March 2014 read more »
Climate vs Nuclear
The next United Nations Norwich Association Saturday talk is on 15th March in The Curve at the Forum at 11am.The speaker will be Dr Ian Fairlie, an independent consultant on radiation in the environment, and his title will be “Does Nuclear Energy Provide an Answer to Global Warming?” As we await a new generation of nuclear power stations in Britain, this is a very topical and important question at the moment.
Network Norfolk 4th March 2014 read more »
The world’s nuclear industry experts will converge on Warrington for Nuclear UK, a major event in the International Festival for Business (IFB) 2014 calendar. The IFB is the largest global concentration of business events during 2014, running across seven weeks in June and July and attracting business delegates and trade intermediaries from around the globe. Set to be one of the IFB’s foremost events, Nuclear UK is a strategic leadership forum aiming to promote ideas and innovations to drive development within the nuclear industry. Warrington can lay clain to being the birthplace of the UK’s nuclear industry, and is currently the location of world-class nuclear engineering, research, training and project delivery expertise.
BDaily 4th March 2014 read more »
RWE AG (RWE) had its first full-year loss since the foundation of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949 as slumping power prices led to billions of euros in writedowns. The country’s largest power generator posted a net loss of 2.76 billion euros ($3.8 billion) on sales of 54.1 billion euros after a profit of 1.31 billion euros, it said in a statement. It wrote down 4.8 billion euros on assets, mainly power stations.
Bloomberg 4th March 2014 read more »
Telegraph 4th March 2014 read more »
Gas and oil prices have risen amid fears the Ukraine crisis could have a damaging effect on one of Europe’s main energy supply routes. Russia provides a quarter of Europe’s natural gas, half of it through Ukraine. But Europe has much more gas storage capacity than a few years ago, the Guardian reports – and the availability of shale gas has “blunt[ed] Russia’s natural gas weapon”, according to the Washington Post. Simon Tulett, BBC News.
Carbon Brief 4th March 2014 read more »
As the European Union looks to agree on the future of its climate and energy policy the conflict in Ukraine has raised fears over gas supply in Europe. Around 30% of the EU’s gas comes from Russia and around a third of that goes through the Ukraine – which Russia’s gas giant Gazprom is threatening with sanctions. The latest instability pushed up gas price futures by 10%. An analysis by Energydesk of the European Commission’s impact assessment suggests that new emissions targets would push down Europe’s gas imports. The analysis suggests adding renewables and efficiency targets could cut imports by twice as much as an emissions target alone. At the same time an analysis by Poyry argues that European shale gas could also reduce imports – though the same analysis sees no impact from rising imports from Russia through to 2030.
Greenpeace Energy Desk 4th March 2014 read more »
Thirteen ministers have urged the European Union to reach agreement on the main elements of its 2030 environment and energy policy this month or risk deterring investors and delaying efforts to get a global deal on climate change. Among the rest of the 28 EU member states, the most prominent opposition has come from Poland, which says there is no hurry to reach a political deal. “We can work with Poland to get an agreement in March,” Britain’s energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey told reporters. “I’m not saying it’s going to be easy.” But he said the early agreement of the 13 ministers, including from France, Germany and Britain, provided a chance to make an agreement with Poland and others. The commission, the EU executive, in January outlined its vision of 2030 climate and energy policy to succeed the existing set of 2020 goals. The commission suggested a single fully binding 2030 target to cut carbon emissions by 40% compared with 1990 levels, plus an EU-wide goal to get at least 27% of energy from renewable sources such as wind and solar. In broad terms, the Green Growth Group supports the commission view.
Guardian 4th March 2014 read more »
The curse of Uranium has fallen once again on the Black Hills of South Dakota, ancestral home to the Lakota Indians – now fighting a massive mining project that threatens land, rivers and groundwater.
Ecologist 3rd March 2014 read more »
India Today news service reported on February 27, 2014: “Advanced Heavy Water Reactor is the latest Indian design for a next-generation nuclear reactor that will burn thorium as its fuel”. Co-incidently, Dr. Gordon Edwards had informed Pressenza that, “There are two countries that are testing moderated thorium-fuelled nuclear reactors, and they are Norway and India. In both cases, the fuel is a blend of Thorium and Plutonium. Although the plutonium used is not “weapons-grade”, it is definitely “weapons-usable” material. The IAEA has made it abundantly clear that all grades of plutonium are weapons-usable.” Pressenza has Gordon Edwards’ writings on the issue of Thorium in our archives. He informed us that, “These articles were written at a time when I was not aware of how seductive the “Thorium” pitch was going to turn out to be.” “When it comes to the weapons proliferation aspect, it is important to realize that U-233 is an excellent nuclear explosive,” Gordon Edwards explains, “just as plutonium-239 is, and has the advantage that the bomb design can be a whole lot simpler – you don’t need to use the implosion mechanism that is required with plutonium, you can use a simple gun-type assembly instead.”
Pressenza 5th March 2014 read more »
Japan – plutonium
There is no reason for concern that plutonium held by Japan could be diverted for nuclear arms purposes, the U.N. atomic watchdog said on Monday, after objections raised by China in another dispute between the east Asian neighbors. Last month, Beijing said it was “extremely concerned” by a report that Japan has resisted returning to the United States more than 300 kilograms of mostly weapons-grade plutonium. Kyodo news agency said that the United States had pressed Japan to give back the nuclear material, which could be used to make up to 50 nuclear bombs. Japan had balked, but finally given in to U.S. demands, Kyodo said. The material was bought for research purposes during the 1960s and the two governments will likely reach an official agreement on its return at the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague in March, an official at Japan’s Education Ministry said.
Japan Today 4th March 2014 read more »
Iran is reducing its most proliferation-prone nuclear stockpile as required by its landmark deal with world powers but much work remains to be done to resolve all concerns about Tehran’s activities, the U.N. atomic watchdog chief said on Monday.
IB Times 4th March 2014 read more »
US – solar
The US’s fossil fuel industry is scared at the growth of solar power, and its ever-declining market cost. So it’s fighting back, reports Trip Van Noppen, doing its best to quash solar growth by imposing new costs and restrictions.
Ecologist 3rd March 2014 read more »
Anti-nuclear campaigners have spoken out against lorry convoys loaded with nuclear materials that pass through Banburyshire and which they say pose a potentially catastrophic risk to human life. Oxfordshire-based NukeWatch UK supporters Nigel Day and Paul Mobbs slammed the decision to send a convoy carrying potentially deadly materials such as plutonium – which ignites when exposed to air – along the M40 past Banbury on January 28, in poor weather conditions which they say heightened the risk of a collision. Banbury-based environmental consultant Mr Mobbs said: “The January 28 convoy was absurd because the weather conditions were awful. If you want to reduce the risk you don’t make a journey when there’s limited visibility on the M40.”
Banbury Guardian 4th March 2014 read more »
Planners for the aftermath of a nuclear strike in Belfast during the Cold War had a disturbingly naive attitude to its apocalyptic impact, records have revealed. Emergency bread centres were envisaged and an “inner zone” of six miles from the site of a notional blast at a now-demolished railway station close to the city’s docks was to be established, according to a 1953 file released by the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI).
Belfast Telegraph 5th March 2014 read more »
Belfast Newsletter 4th March 2014 read more »
RUSSIA test-fired a nuclear-capable missile this evening as tensions continue over its presence in Ukraine’s Crimea region.
Express 4th March 2014 read more »
Renewables – solar
The solar industry is going great, with tens of gigawatts of new capacity planned for 2014 alone. But as Jonathon Porritt writes, the solar revolution could be going even faster – with smart, consistent policies for solar power in Europe and Japan.
Ecologist 1st March 2014 read more »
Renewables – wind
Four of the country’s largest energy companies have piled pressure on Alex Salmond to abandon planning changes that would make it harder for them to build wind farms on wild land. Scottish Power, SSE, EDF and E.ON – four of the ‘Big Six’ energy firms – warned the First Minister that the additional protections would seriously damage his chances of meeting his radical green energy targets. They raised doubts over whether several areas of outstanding natural beauty featured in a proposed official map of wild land needed extra protection, including large swathes of the Highlands. Smaller wind farm companies also joined the attack, arguing that shielding the most remo te areas would force them to build closer to towns and villages. But Scottish Borders Council said the map failed to protect some of the most popular beauty spots in its area because the definition of “wild” was too narrow. Ministers are considering introducing safeguards that would make it more difficult to build on wild land, which is defined as being rugged, remote and free from modern visible human structures. The energy companies were responding to a map drawn up by Scottish National Heritage (SNH), a quango, suggesting 43 areas that should be designated for protection.
Telegraph 5th March 2014 read more »
Estimates of Cuadrilla’s shale gas resource in the North West of England may have to be increased significantly upwards. A geologist with the company said there is 330 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas in place in its licence area, 50% more than previous estimates. Cuadrilla is the only company in the UK to have used hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in its test wells. But it could take two years to see if the gas is commercially viable. Last summer the British Geological Survey (BGS) reported that there could be around 1,300 tcf of gas in the Bowland basin in North West England. Based on data from two wells that it had fracked in 2011, Cuadrilla estimated that there was around 200 tcf in its licence areas. Now a more detailed analysis of seismic and well data suggests a significant upgrade to the g as potential of the area.
BBC 5th March 2014 read more »
When the British Geological Survey doubled estimates for the shale gas reserves in the Bowland Basin, it raised expectations of a US-style shale gas revolution in the UK. The region – which stretches from Cheshire to Yorkshire – is one of the UK’s most promising onshore shale gas prospects and could hold between 822 and 2,281 trillion cubic feet. “The shale gas potential is enormous here, even if we just get 1 per cent of the in-place estimates,” says John McGoldrick, chief executive of unconventional gas company Dart Energy. But just because gas is recoverable, it doesn’t mean it makes economic sense to do so. Explorers must drill wells to discover natural gas flow rates. Cuadrilla is the only company to have fracked in the UK and no wells have been fracked since an 18-month moratorium was lifted more than a year ago. The UK’s shale gas potential remains largely unknown. Exploration is expensive and it is easy to spend more on drilling a well than the value of gas that comes out of the ground. Drilling costs are significantly higher in the UK than the US. The nascent supply chain and long licensing process are largely to blame.
FT 4th March 2014 read more »
Relying on shale gas would be a “very expensive” solution to meeting the world’s growing demand for energy, the chief executive of BHP Billiton, the mining, oil and gas group, has said. Andrew Mackenzie, who took over at BHP last year, also called for a price to be put on greenhouse gas emissions to address the threat of global warming, and said the mining industry needed to do more to develop technology to capture and store carbon dioxide.
FT 4th March 2014 read more »
Norway’s decision to set up an expert group to see if its $840bn oil fund should stop investing in fossil fuel companies has triggered a wave of speculation since it was announced last week. If the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund were to ditch such investments, it might not immediately affect Royal Dutch Shell or BP, both among the fund’s top 10 holdings, nor the other oil and gas companies that together account for 8.4 per cent of the fund’s equity investments. But it would galvanise a gathering campaign to persuade investors that fossil fuel companies are an increasingly risky bet as regulatory efforts to combat air pollution and climate change intensify, and the costs of alternative energy sources tumble. “It would change the terms of the debate quite profoundly,” says Ben Caldecott, head of the stranded assets programme at Oxford University’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment.
FT 4th March 2014 read more »
BP is putting its US shale gas assets into a separate standalone business to improve its profitability after the fracking boom triggered a glut of cheap gas and squeezed industry margins. All the British oil company’s onshore oil and gasfields in the US, excluding those in Alaska, will go into the business. Among these are shale oil and gasfields holding 7.6 billion untapped barrels and 21,000 producing wells, which have been hit by a collapse in prices. Based at a new location in Houston, away from BP’s headquarters of its upstream division, the business will operate separately from the rest of the group. BP said that this would allow it to cut costs and make speedy decisions to compete with more nimble independent producers, which have pioneered the shale boom.
Times 5th March 2014 read more »