Jeffrey Hendrerson, Prof International Development Bristol University: George Osborne will address the Conservative party conference on Monday fresh from a sales trip to Beijing. His efforts to drive more trade between the two nations saw Chinese state-owned companies invited to participate in the development of nuclear generating plants in Britain. They will have the chance to work with French state-owned company, EDF at Hinkley Point, Somerset and will be the sole operators at Bradwell, Essex. The move has already attracted doubts but there are other vital issues that have yet to be aired. These can be crystallised into five clear questions that Osborne and his government must answer. Two Chinese companies are involved with Hinkley Point: China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN). The latter was responsible, under its previous guise (China Guangdong Nuclear Power) for building and running China’s first nuclear station, Daya Bay, near Hong Kong. It was initially improperly built – with reinforcement rods missing from the concrete base under the reactor – and there have since been reports of minor leakages of radioactive materials (though this is difficult to check, given China’s lack of transparency). The deeply corrupt environment in which many Chinese companies operate compounds the possibility of these companies being lax on safety measures and it’s simply not good enough to say that Britain has one of the tightest nuclear safety regimes in the world. Confronted with the power of the Chinese government and the British government’s enthusiasm for unceasing flows of Chinese investment, the risk must be that the regulatory agency will be sidestepped or unable to cope. The £2 billion guarantee – and the undoubtedly far higher sums that will follow – will effectively result in the British taxpayer subsidising the Chinese Communist Party.
The Conversation 5th Oct 2015 read more »
About 300 people took to a beach and kayaks to stage a protest against plans for a new nuclear power station in Essex. Chancellor George Osborne announced the plan to build a Chinese-designed power station near a former plant at Bradwell-on-Sea. The new plant is said to be large enough to supply energy to 1m homes. The Department for Energy and Climate Change said the government was working on development of the project. A spokesman said: “The Bradwell-on-Sea site is subject to the wider ongoing negotiations about the potential nuclear site Hinkley Point C (in Somerset).
BBC 5th Oct 2015 read more »
France has invited Japan’s nuclear industry to take part in the reorganisation of its own nuclear sector, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Monday. French state-controlled utility EDF agreed in July to buy between 51 and 75 percent of French nuclear giant Areva’s reactor-making subsidiary Areva NP and said it would look for partners to buy a minority stake. Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd said in September it was in talks Areva about possibly taking a stake in Areva NP, which has been struggling since the Fukushima disaster in 2011 hurt demand worldwide for nuclear reactors. Valls told reporters in Tokyo he made the proposal to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Abe did not comment publicly on whether he had responded to the invitation. He told reporters Japan and France have been world leaders in the nuclear industry and that Japan intended to contribute to safety improvements by sharing lessons learned from the accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant. A source familiar with the situation said EDF was talking with Japanese and Chinese investors about selling them part of Areva NP but the talks were at a very early stage. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Areva are already working together under their Atmea joint venture to design the 1,100 megawatt Atmea1 reactor, using technology from Areva’s EPR reactor and MHI’s APWR reactor. EDF plans to build two EPRs in Hinkley Point, Britain, in a consortium with Chinese utilities China General Nuclear Corporation (CGN) and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC). It also plans to help its Chinese partners build a China-designed Hualong reactor in Britain. Industry insiders say it could be difficult to have Chinese and Japanese investors in the same company in such a strategic industry.
Reuters 5th Oct 2015 read more »
Nuclear power plants throughout the world are in denial over the risk of a serious cyber attack, a new report has warned. The study claims that the civil nuclear infrastructure in most countries is unprepared for such attacks. The consequences could be devastating, as even a small-scale attack, it found, could release deadly radiation into the local area.
Daily Mail 6th Oct 2015 read more »
Express 5th Oct 2015 read more »
Washington Times 5th Oct 2015 read more »
A report on the growing cyber risks to nuclear power plant quotes anonymous insiders who reveal a lack of cybersecurity awareness, design flaws, threat actors, cyber-attack scenarios and backbiting among personnel.
Computerworld 5th Oct 2015 read more »
The only thing preventing a possible nuclear reactor meltdown could be the password “1234,” according to a new global study of power plant security systems, the Financial Times reports. Hacking into a power plant’s computers could allow a malicious individual to tamper with cooling systems and back-ups to induce a nuclear meltdown. While the risk of damage is exponentially high in the case of a hack, new research has found that nuclear facilities have few measures in place to prevent a destructive cyber attack.
The Week 5th Oct 2015 read more »
Oldbury power station has removed the last fuel from its reactors, marking the end of an era for the site.
NDA 5th Oct 2015 read more »
Engineering & Technology 5th Oct 2015 read more »
Radiation Free Lakeland are delighted to be once again what must be the most beautiful setting for a country show ….Wasdale, on the 10th October. There will be a stall with information on how to get active in the growing resistance to dangerous new nuclear reactors next to Sellafield on the green fields and River Ehen floodplain which the industry are calling ‘Moorside’.
Radiation Free Lakeland 5th Oct 2015 read more »
Los Alamos National Laboratory has only a narrow time frame before it runs out of room to store its nuclear waste. The lab’s radioactive transuranic waste is supposed to be sent to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, but that site was shut down last year after the underground storage area was contaminated. Transuranic waste can include items like protective boots and gloves, machinery and sludge.
Albuquerque Journal 4th Oct 2015 read more »
SDLP South Down MP Margaret Ritchie has raised concerns about what she described as ‘early moves to identify the North as a spot for dumping Britain’s Nuclear Waste’. Radioactive Waste Managament Ltd have launched a consultation on proposals for the draft National Geological Screening Guidance which will be used as the basis for locating a geological disposal facility for underground storage of nuclear waste.
Newry Times 5th Oct 2015 read more »
Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has given her full backing for the cutting of subsidies for onshore wind and solar, insisting that “renewable energy can stand on its own two feet”. Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester this afternoon (5 October), Rudd said: “As we have already shown, we will be tough on subsidies. There is no magic money tree. “We said in our manifesto that we would halt the spread of subsidised onshore wind farms, and that’s exactly what we have done – this would have been impossible in the coalition.
Edie 5th Oct 2015 read more »
The UK’s largest renewable energy association (REA) has criticised the speech by Energy Minister Amber Rudd at the Conservative party conference for lacking in vision for the industry. The REA said Rudd’s speech failed to respond to calls for clarity, from communities and other investors, about the renewable energy sectors’ future. Dr. Nina Skorupska, Chief Executive, Renewable Energy Association, said: “The Secretary spoke about fulfilling the government’s promise to slow the development of onshore wind. What went unsaid was how the government has additionally destabilised the solar, geothermal, marine, anaerobic digestion and biomass industries. This speech was a missed opportunity to offer the more than 20,000 hard-working individuals in the renewables industry facing potential job losses some sort of clarity about their future. An association spokesman added: “Since the general election there has been bonfire of policies, with nothing taking their place to continue the delicate success of the UK’s renewables industry.
Scottish Energy News 5th Oct 2015 read more »
I welcome UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd’s u-turn in her bold speech on Monday to the Conservative Party conference when she asserted “We must be tough on subsidies, pro-competition, anti-monopoly, pro-innovation and pro-consumer.” She added: “While people support a transition to a low-carbon future, they don’t support this at any cost. There is no magic money tree. As we have already shown, we will be tough on subsidies.” May we assume she now intends to withdraw the UK opposition to the challenge by Austria and Luxembourg in the European Court to the massive StateAid subsidies awarded to the UK by the European Commission last December, backing the grotesquely expensive UK new build nuclear programme?
David Lowry 5th Oct 2015 read more »
Amber Rudd has today defended the controversial decision to slash support for renewable energy projects, arguing the government remains fully committed to delivering clean energy technologies that are more cost effective than polluting alternatives and establishing the UK as a “home for energy innovation”. Speaking to the Conservative Party conference for the first time as Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Rudd said recent proposals to slash support for wind and solar power were “motivated by getting the balance right between supporting new, low carbon generation and protecting billpayers”.
Business Green 5th Oct 2015 read more »
Some 30 years after the world’s worst nuclear accident blasted radiation across Chernobyl, the site has evolved from a disaster zone into a nature reserve, teeming with elk, deer and wolves, scientists said on Monday. The remarkable turnaround in the area, which was declared a permanent no-go zone for people after the accident in 1986, suggests radiation contamination is not hindering wildlife from breeding and thriving, but underscores the negative impact humans have on populations of wild mammals.
Reuters 5th Oct 2015 read more »
Independent 5th Oct 2015 read more »
Daily Mail 5th Oct 2015 read more »
Guardian 5th Oct 2015 read more »
Lord Adonis, the new chairman of the government’s independent infrastructure commission, has been given the task of drawing up detailed plans for a trio of big infrastructure schemes in time for the next Budget. The former Labour transport secretary has been asked to draft proposals for Crossrail 2, the High Speed 3 rail project and improvements to Britain’s energy storage. All are likely to feature in George Osborne’s budget speech in the spring. However, plans for the new commission, which is designed to guide the government on long-term infrastructure planning, were given a mixed reception on Monday as experts questioned whether it would have real power to make big decisions. Doubts were also raised over the effectiveness of proposals to pool and then tap into local authority pension funds.
FT 5th Oct 2015 read more »
Energy companies that repeatedly offer poor customer service will have “no hiding place”, under plans from Amber Rudd, the energy secretary, to strengthen the power of the ombudsman. Ms Rudd used her speech to the Conservative Party conference to announce a crackdown on misbehaving firms and industry-wide customer service problems. She said the ombudsman, which investigates complaints, would be given “real teeth” so he could look at systemic issues in the industry, not just individual cases.
Telegraph 5th Oct 2015 read more »
A new report from the Low Carbon Infrastructure Task Force sets out ten transformative low carbon infrastructure projects for Scotland’s future. This report looks beyond Scotland’s publically supported current infrastructure pipeline to identify the kind of low carbon infrastructure that will be needed to help meet Scotland’s climate change targets. It is intended to build upon the momentum already generated by the Scottish Government in developing low carbon infrastructure policy frameworks. This work has been commissioned by the Low Carbon Infrastructure Task Force, an independent body established as part of a WWF Scotland initiative. The objective of the Task Force is to champion and encourage the public sector to fund and/or facilitate the finance of low carbon infrastructure. It brings together key figures across the infrastructure lifecycle in Scotland, from the public and private sectors, construction and finance industries, and academia, under an independent chair.
Scotland’s Way Ahead 5th Oct 2015 read more »
During 2014 renewable energy in Scotland displaced 12.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide – equivalent to a quarter of Scotland’s total carbon emissions – according to new data released last week by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC). The figures show renewable energy projects in the country displaced more than one million tonnes of carbon dioxide every month during 2014, the most recent year the data is available. The reduction is the highest ever recorded in Scotland, represents an improvement of almost 120 per cent on figures from 2010, when 5.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide were displaced.
Business Green 5th Oct 2015 read more »
Japan – Plutonium
A surplus of Japanese plutonium over the next few years could pose significant nuclear dangers for the region and the world unless it is addressed now, a new report released this week by a Washington, D.C.-based think tank has warned. Japan is the only non-nuclear-weapon state which extracts plutonium from the spent fuel produced in nuclear reactors – a process called reprocessing – to fabricate more fuel, a controversial practice since the plutonium can also be used to make nuclear weapons. While Tokyo has pledged not to produce more plutonium than it consumes, the fallout from the 2011 Fukushima incident makes it likely that Japan will violate that commitment in the next decade, with a plutonium conversion facility still in the works and only a portion of its reactors that consume plutonium likely to be restarted before the reprocessing plant is at full capacity. Japan’s resulting plutonium glut, argues James Acton, a longtime nonproliferation analyst, must be averted by Tokyo and its partners because it would set a damaging precedent, exacerbate regional tensions and increase the likelihood of nuclear terrorism.
Diplomat 30th Sept 2015 read more »
Kazakhstan became the leading supplier of uranium for the 100 operating US nuclear power reactors in 2014, according to US Energy Information Administration. The former Soviet republic supplied 12 million pounds, or 23%, of the 53.3 million pounds of uranium purchased by owners and operators of American reactors – nearly double the 6.5 million pounds of Kazakh-origin uranium purchased in 2013. In previous years, Australia, Canada, and Russia have been leading suppliers of uranium to the United States. The amount of US-origin uranium purchased in 2014 decreased 65% compared with 2013.
Energy Voice 5th Oct 2015 read more »
The European Union should maintain at least the current capacity of nuclear generation up to and beyond 2050, entailing the commissioning of more than 100 nuclear power reactors over the next 35 years, Foratom said 2 October. This target would deliver 122 GWe of nuclear capacity between 2025 and 2045. The nuclear trade body for the EU, Foratom stated the target after submitting a position paper to the European Commission on the planned publication of a revised version of the Illustrative Program for Nuclear Energy, known as PINC. The EC is mandated by the Euratom Treaty to periodically issue a new PINC to indicate targets and program for nuclear production and the corresponding investment required.
World Nuclear News 5th Oct 2015 read more »
Letter: Recent media reporting on Chinese investment in the UK’s nuclear sector underplays China’s commitment to nuclear power and its adherence to the most stringent modern standards of safety. China has a clear long-term plan for nuclear. The country’s investment in the UK is an integral part of this strategy, which is creating opportunities across the global supply chain for many UK manufacturers. Chinese investment will contribute to technological improvements in nuclear power and will unlock more options for developments globally for the UK. Local investment and through life support (these are 100-year projects) offset any misguided concerns over a Chinese takeover of the sector.
FT 6th Oct 2015 read more »
Green energy is cheap in the long run and clean compared to “dirty” coal and costly nuclear power, a senior German energy official said on the sidelines of a Cape Town conference, at a time when South Africa plans to expand atomic power generation. President Jacob Zuma’s government is developing an energy mix that will boost power generation in Africa’s most advanced economy which has been hit by electricity shortages and reduce its reliance on mostly coal generated energy. “If you want to have expensive electricity you buy nuclear generators, if you want dirty electricity you burn coal,” Rainer Baake, state secretary for energy in the economy ministry, told Reuters, when asked what advice he would have for South Africa which is working on increasing electricity production. “If you want clean energy in the long run that will be cheaper, you transfer to a renewable system, but the decision has to be made by your own government,” he said on Monday on the sidelines of a renewable energy conference in Cape Town.
Reuters 5th Oct 2015 read more »
I HAVE been following with keen interest the debate about the place of nuclear in electricity production in SA. What I observed resonates with what, about 45 years ago, I learnt as a graduate student at Oxford University when I investigated the economics of nuclear power for electricity generation in the UK. The UK, as one of the pioneers of nuclear energy for civilian purposes, had in 1963 announced the launch of its second nuclear power programme, based on its own advanced gas-cooled reactor (AGR) technology, a decision that was clouded in controversy. First, AGR technology was unproven at the scale envisaged for the power stations and there were alternative, well-established and cheaper US technologies available. Second, the decision was taken when the coal industry was contracting, with disastrous consequences for male employment locally; there was a strong sense that, had the coal industry benefited from investment on the scale that had been put into nuclear research and development, it could have provided a highly competitive source of fuel for the electricity industry and the closure of collieries could have been delayed. Third, extravagant claims were made about the benefits of the programme: the nuclear industry would be hugely strengthened, leading to exports of not only AGR technology but also of plant and equipment.
BD Live 6th Oct 2015 read more »
Fusion reactors could become an economically viable means of generating electricity within a few decades, a team of UK researchers has claimed. The group, from Durham University and Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in Oxfordshire, has re-examined the economics of fusion, and taken into account recent advances in superconductor technology.
Engineer 5th Oct 2015 read more »
David Cameron has said there are circumstances in which he would launch a nuclear attack on another country. The PM described nuclear bombs as “the ultimate insurance policy” and said the attack could be “justified”. Mr Cameron’s statement comes after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he would not use nuclear bombs on another country’s population. “If you … believe like me that Britain should keep the ultimate insurance policy of an independent nuclear deterrent, you have to accept there are circumstances in which its use would be justified,” Mr Cameron told BBC One’s Andrew Marr show on 4 October.
Independent 5th Oct 2015 read more »
“Nuclear weapons can wipe out life on Earth, if used properly.” Despite being found in the liner notes of a Talking Heads album, this is the sentence I think best captures the bizarre contradictions of the atomic age. Human beings have manufactured bombs explicitly designed to unleash destructive forces equivalent to hundreds of thousands of tonnes of TNT. Deploy them and millions die; civilisation as we know it could disappear. And yet, they’re not actually supposed to be used. In fact, their proper function is to remain in the ground, or at sea, or in the air. Launch, fire or drop ‘em and the whole system has failed. Is there any other device so intricately constructed in order to decrease the likelihood of its own use?
Guardian 5th Oct 2015 read more »
Renewables – offshore wind
It is only ‘a matter of time’ before floating offshore wind farms become an important source of clean power in several countries around the world, including Scotland, the US and Japan, according to one industry expert. Maurice Jenkens, the international business development director at Swedish floating wind developer Hexicon, says there are certain countries – which are surrounded by deep waters – where traditional offshore projects are not feasible on a large scale and thus the only choice will be floating turbines.
Edie 5th Oct 2015 read more »
Renewables – solar
If solar is 20% efficient (as it has been in lab tests) at turning solar energy into power, we’d only need to cover a land area about the size of Spain to power the entire Earth renewably in 2030. This map, from the Land Art Generator Initiative, shows just how little space that really is.
Business Insider 5th Oct 2015 read more »
Scotland has met the government target of installing more than 500MW of locally-owned community-generated renewable energy – five years ahead of schedule. The government was initially hoping to meet this target by 2020 but today Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing is announcing that an estimated 508 megawatts of community and locally owned capacity is now operational.
Scottish Energy News 6th Oct 2015 read more »
Letter Colin Hines: Memo to Lord Adonis in his new role as adviser on infrastructure projects: read Zoe Williams’ article on the use of quantitative easing for green and social investment. As the dark, deflationary clouds from China and elsewhere gather, and as unemployment and underemployment are still to be found in great swaths of the country, Adonis could propose an infrastructure programme that can help deal with these threats. This would involve using QE to fund increased economic activity that protects the environment through a programme to make all the UK’s 30m homes, offices and factories energy efficient. This decades-long energy infrastructure project would create new jobs in a vast range of skills in every part of the country. The work and business opportunities generated in every constituency will provide huge tax revenues and so calm even the most ardent deficit botherers. In short, it would be QE not just for the people, but also for the planet.
Guardian 5th Oct 2015 read more »
Energy storage could replace peak gas in our electricity network. That’s the finding of a study that my colleagues and I recently published in the Journal of Applied Energy. Energy storage is often considered the holy grail of the electricity sector. Tesla’s Powerwall home battery system, for instance, allows households to store energy from solar panels, to be used when the sun isn’t shining. It is seen as a vital piece of the puzzle in a future with more renewable energy. Storage is great for households, but could also be as important in the wider electricity network. Here’s how it could work.
Renew Economy 6th Oct 2015 read more »
Britain will shut down all its coal-fired power stations by 2023, under plans being drawn up by ministers before a United Nations climate change conference in Paris next month. The proposals to set a firm date for the country’s last coal-fired station to cease generating electricity are being discussed by officials at the Department of Energy and Climate Change. It is understood that Amber Rudd, the energy secretary, could announce the plan before the conference begins on November 30. Under the proposals, Britain’s ten coal-fired power stations, the biggest supplier of electricity for decades, would be forced to convert to alternative fuels such as woodchips, to fit carbon capture and storage equipment – or shut.
Times 6th Oct 2015 read more »
IT is highly unlikely that strict regulation will fully protect Scotland’s food chain against risks of contamination caused by fracking, a drilling and civil engineering expert has warned. Professor Robert Jackson, a former academic at the University of Salford who has previously been hired as an independent expert to examine environmental issues by Scottish Water, said that if fracking went ahead, it risked compromising water supplies while fluid injected underground could poison groundwater, soil, crops, grazing land and livestock if it reached the surface. The pro-fracking lobby has insisted that tough regulation would be imposed on any fracking activities in Scotland in a bid to reassure opponents. However, in a new paper, Professor Jackson pointed to research from the world’s l argest oilfield services company which estimated that 60 per cent of gas wells leak within 30 years.
Herald 6th Oct 2015 read more »