The Nuclear Industry Association’s annual conference was awash with positivity on Thursday, celebrating the recent ‘wins’ that could see the rebirth of the technology in the UK. However some old chestnuts remain, largely centring on the often negative perception surrounding the industry, a challenge its exponents are intent on overcoming. With Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant as good as secured chairman of the Nuclear Industry Council Lord Hutton looked like a man from whom a large burden has been shifted. He enthused about the recent and growing recognition backed by pledged investment from the government who have decided that nuclear will be a vital component in the UK’s decarbonisation strategy. Asked to gaze into the crystal ball and say what she would envisage the energy sector in the UK looking like in the future, the minister pointed to the failed projections on oil prices to express the folly of prediction, however did say her hope was that the country assumes the leader in one specific area of nuclear power. “New nuclear has a big part to play and I would hope in the 2030s if the UK was the world’s largest exporter of SMR technology.” She said with coal being consigned to the past, a mix of nuclear, renewables and gas was the ideal, along with ‘other technologies we may not yet have heard of’ while also exclaiming surprise at the lack of public support for shale gas. “What we would also like to see is much more focus in energy efficiency and demand –a lot of planning in sorting that demand flow. The electrification of vehicles could be the answer – that would lead to an increase in demand for electricity and leads to bigger demand for nuclear and storage to deal with intermittency.”
Power Engineering 5th Dec 2015 read more »
Nukes vs Climate
The new Breakthrough Energy Coalition, backed by billionaires such as Bill Gates and supported by the global nuclear lobby is hijacking climate talks at COP21, writes Noel Wauchope. At the Paris Climate Summit (COP21), the global nuclear lobby is in overdrive. The centrepiece of today’s global nuclear lobbying is the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, led by Bill Gates, made public at the start of the conference. Bill Gates announced the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, uniting the efforts of two dozen other billionaire philanthropists such as Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos, to sponsor research into energy that doesn’t produce carbon. Gates was present in Paris together with U.S. President Barack Obama —the White House is reported to be supportive of the initiative. Article after article in the U.S. and other media outline the purpose of this group, stressing renewable initiatives, or rather, “clean” energy initiatives. Nuclear power is not mentioned but is tacitly included in that weasel word, “clean”.
Independent Australia 6th Dec 2015 read more »
As delegates at a Paris summit haggle over how to curb global warming, the role of nuclear energy in limiting climate-changing emissions is the subject of fierce debate between champions and critics of atomic power. Energy production accounts for 35% of the greenhouse-gas emissions that fuel global warming, with 25% coming from electricity generation alone. Unlike polluting coal, oil and gas-fired power plants, nuclear facilities do not generate emissions by producing electricity. Like solar panels or wind turbines, they only indirectly generate emissions during their life cycle, namely in the construction of reactors and the extraction of the uranium they use as fuel. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates the median value of emissions from nuclear plants at 16 grams of CO2-equivalent per kilowatt hour, about as much as a wind turbine and far less than the footprint of plants that burn fossil fuels. The IPCC, which tracks global warming for the U.N., puts nuclear power on a par with renewables among the low-carbon energy sources whose share of electricity generation must grow to 80% by 2050—compared with 30% today—if global warming is to be capped at 2 degrees Celsius over pre-Industrial Revolution levels. The IPCC’s apparent endorsement of nuclear energy, which features in nearly all the scenarios it presents in its recommendations on curbing warming, has incensed anti-nuclear groups. Dogged by security concerns, the share of nuclear power in global electricity generation has been in steady decline over the past two decades, falling from 17% in 1993 to 11% in 2012, according to the IPCC. The panel acknowledged the need to find “acceptable responses” to fears over “reactor safety, radioactive waste transport, waste disposal, and proliferation”. A report by the WISE-Paris research agency commissioned by several NGOs, including Greenpeace, concluded that the safety concerns over nuclear power —as exemplified by the 2011 Fukushima disaster—rule it out as a viable energy source. Highlighting the exorbitant cost of nuclear power compared with renewables, the report also accused the nuclear industry of overstating its contribution to the fight against climate change. “From uranium mines to nuclear waste, including radioactive and chemical pollution from nuclear reactors, every phase of the nuclear cycle brings about pollution,” the report said. The researchers made the case for energy saving and greater investment in renewables instead.
Japan Today 6th Dec 2015 read more »
China General Nuclear Power Corporation registers trademarks with UK’s Intellectual Property Office protecting names of its nuclear reactor designs. China happily makes copycat Western goods – from Range Rovers, known as Land Winds, to counterfeit iPhones – but away from home it seems the Chinese like copyright niceties to be observed. The state-owned China General Nuclear Power Corporation has registered trademarks with the UK’s Intellectual Property Office protecting the names of its nuclear reactor designs. It did so in August – two months before President Xi’s visit, when it was announced that CGNPC would invest in and build Britain’s new generation of nuclear reactors. Did the Chinese know something the British public didn’t, or were they just very confident? CGNPC did not comment.Three trademarks have been registered, HPWR1000, HPR1000, and CHPR1000, all names for reactor designs.
Daily Mail 5th Dec 2015 read more »
It was a long time in the making, but this week Europe’s largest solar PV plant was finally brought online. The Cestas solar farm, which is 300MW and covers a 250-hectare site near to the French city of Bordeaux, was connected to the grid earlier this month and has already begun producing solar power at a price cheaper than that offered by new nuclear plants.
Renew Economy 4th Dec 2015 read more »
Japan’s nuclear regulatory body has launched an investigation into metallic spent fuel containers at Tokyo Electric Power Co’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant as they may not have sufficient strength. Members of the Nuclear Regulation Authority raised the issue Friday at a meeting to discuss nuclear safety problems. The body will examine whether the containers made by Kobe Steel Ltd are safe for long-term use. The nuclear regulation watchdog said it will also launch a probe at Japan Atomic Power Co’s Tokai No. 2 nuclear power plant in Ibaraki Prefecture as the same type of fuel container may be used there. The fuel storages meet strength criteria set by the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers. But the metal plates inside them may not be strong enough for use in storing nuclear spent fuel.
Japan Today 6th Dec 2015 read more »
Poland’s deputy defence minister has said the ministry is considering asking for access to nuclear weapons through a Nato program in which non-nuclear states borrow the arms from the US.
Guardian 6th Dec 2015 read more »
We all nearly died in a ‘nuclear war’… in 1999. Ex-CIA analyst Bruce Riedel wrote an obituary of Sandy Berger, a former national security advisor to President Bill Clinton. According to Riedel Mr Berger, who died on Wednesday, warned the then president that Pakistan was planning to use nuclear weapons against India during the Kargil War in 1999. Clinton was due to meet Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif the morning of July 4 1999, however he was briefed by Berger before hand.
Metro 5th Dec 2015 read more »
Green Investment Bank
GEORGE OSBORNE is set to launch the £3bn privatisation of the Green Investment Bank (GIB) within weeks as he pushes ahead with his plan to slash public debt. The chancellor said in the summer that he wanted to sell at least three-quarters of the bank, which was set up to underwrite low-carbon projects such as offshore wind farms. The deal will represent one of the fastest privatisations — the GIB was established in 2012 — and is expected to bring in far more than the £2bn sale of Royal Mail in 2013.
Sunday Times 6th Dec 2015 read more »
Six attempts to set fire to coal underground and tap the resulting gas have resulted in leaks, pollution, explosions and ill-health at plants around the world, according to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa). At El Tremedal in Spain an ignition system malfunctioned and a temperature gauge failed, causing “accumulation of methane and a subsequent explosion”, a draft Sepa report said. The 550-metre well was damaged and shut down in 1997. The plant, which gasified 240 tonnes of coal, also contaminated groundwater. “This was a major technical and economic problem,” the report said. An experimental 30-metre mine called Barbara in Poland suffered similar problems in 2013. “Cracks developed causing gases to leak and create explosive accumulations, igniting due to high temperatures,” Sepa reported. “Heavy metals, ammonia and cyanides found in effluents and groundwater near the site.” The 150-metre deep Chinchilla mine run by Linc Energy in Queensland, Australia, from 2007 to 2013 caught fire because of a coal tar blockage. Toxic gases also leaked to the surface after well casings cracked under pressure.
Herald 6th Dec 2015 read more »
THE world’s once-surging greenhouse gas emissions, blamed for global warming, may have gone into decline. Figures to be published this week will show that global emissions neared a plateau last year and could fall this year — even as the world economy is growing. Scientists will say this week that man-made emissions “nearly stalled” at 37bn tonnes of CO2 last year — and are on track to stabilise or drop slightly this year. The new figures, which will be formally published tomorrow, come at a crucial time, with politicians from 195 countries attending the UN climate talks in Paris. Their aim is to cut emissions enough to limit global warming to below 2C by 2100.
Sunday Times 6th Dec 2015 read more »