Nuclear power plants generates clean, baseline-quality energy, advocates like to claim. It’s too bad that nuclear is also about the most expensive form of power you can buy. A recent report and statement from CEZ-AS, the country’s largest utility, once again highlight why the economics of nuclear don’t work. In short, CEZ has been pushing to add two new nuclear reactors to the Temerlin plant that would come online around 2025. The utility has made the usual argument—that nuclear will create employment, help the country gain energy independence and even let the Czechs export power to neighboring European countries—but it has also said it can’t build the plan without government guarantees on the price of power. Granted, solar is costly too. Various analysts peg the cost of residential solar in Europe at around 150 Euros per megawatt, lower than Temelin but still high. Nonetheless, the price of solar is going down–not up as in the case of nuclear—and there are number of ways to reduce the costs. Research firm IHS says that the lifetime cost of solar for an industrial plant actually fell below conventional prices last year if the industrial consumer bypasses the utility and builds the solar array itself. Coupling solar with storage can let companies bypass peak demand charges too, which can account for 30% of a bill. Renewables and energy efficiency continue to increase in performance and drop in price. Over 30 GW of solar will get installed this year. 99 percent—or 694 MW of the 699MW—of the capacity added in the U.S. in October consisted of renewable plants. Solar accounted for 72 percent of the total, according to FERC. Last month, I noted that replacing light bulbs with LED fixtures could postpone the need for new mega power plants for a lot less money. And they would make your house more attractive. Nuclear may not be completely dead as a concept. Some hope exists for modular reactors or even thorium. But the traditional reactors just don’t seem to add up anymore.
Forbes 6th Dec 2013 read more »
Hinkley Point C Meanwhile, the first day of the An Taisce challenge to the decision to give development consent for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station took place at the High Court. Outside, it became a rowdy focal point for nuclear objectors. Inside, it was rather a somnolent affair setting out the history of the Espoo Convention, amongst other things. The case turns on whether environmental effects on Ireland being severe but unlikely would be sufficient to require consultation when normally they have to be likely. In other news, the European Commission is checking whether the strike price deal does not infringe state aid rules, and the Espoo Convention Implementation Committee is considering the transboundary consultation issue at a meeting in Geneva next week. Can’t they leave it alone?
BDB Law 6th Dec 2013 read more »
AN Taisce began court action in London to challenge the legality of the UK’s decision to grant permission to build a nuclear power station in Somerset, 150 miles from the Irish coast. Leigh Day, acting for An Taisce, claims the UK acted unlawfully by failing to consult the Irish people about the potential trans-boundary effects of the nuclear power station.
Irish Herald 6th Dec 2013 read more »
Europe’s competition authorities are to investigate the UK’s offer of state guarantees to help finance new nuclear power plants. EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia has expressed concerns that the British government’s deal with EDF to build a new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in south-west England could contravene EU rules on state aid.
Modern Power Systems 6th Dec 2013 read more »
On 21st March 2011 George Monbiot stated: “As a result of the disaster at Fukushima, I am no longer nuclear-neutral. I now support the technology.” Jonathon Porritt peruses Monbiot’s subsequent intellectual gymnastics. It really pains me that the nuclear industry is able to summon up his pro-nuclear advocacy as one of the strongest shots in their rapidly emptying locker. And even though he is still out there as the man who ‘fell in love’ with nuclear power at the time of the Fukushima disaster, I can’t help but notice that he may be having second thoughts. The headline for his Guardian article on October 22 was a simple one: “The Farce of Hinkley C will Haunt Britain for Decades”. It turns out that even George Monbiot is opposed to the Government’s plans to build two new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset. That won’t exactly have EDF quaking in their lead-lined boots, but it must piss them off just a little. It’s worth analysing this change of heart in a more detail, based on that article. And whilst keen to avoid any hint of ‘told you so’, it may be helpful to compare his newly-minted objections to Hinkley Point with the letter that myself, Tom Burke, Tony Juniper and Charles Secrett (as former Directors of Friends of the Earth) wrote to the Prime Minister back in March 2012.
Ecologist 7th Dec 2013 read more »
Britain’s hopes of averting blackouts have been dealt a massive blow after the Government’s green subsidy cutbacks left one of the country’s largest power stations on the brink of closure. Eggborough coal plant, which generates 4 per cent of the UK’s electricity, had planned to convert to burning biomass material to secure its future as dirty coal power is phased out. However, the £400 million plan is in tatters after the Government last week unexpectedly decided to ration the green subsidies, funded by levies on consumer bills, needed to pay for it. Barring a last minute change of heart by officials, mounting European environmental legislation and taxes will force the Yorkshire plant to close by the end of 2015, just when it would be needed most. The plant employs 500 workers and up to 400 more contractors. Ofgem, the energy regulator, has warned that Britain’s reserve generating margin could fall to as low as 2 per cent by the winter of 2015/2016 because new plants are not being built to replace the old coal plants coming offline.
Times 7th Dec 2013 read more »
It is ‘immoral’, asserted Michael Fallon at this week’s Spectator energy conference, to force basic-rate taxpayers to subsidise wealthy landowners’ wind turbines and the solar panels of well-off homeowners. It is hard to remember the last time a minister was so frank about something which had been government policy until a few hours earlier.
Spectator 7th Dec 2013 read more »
Five of the big six energy suppliers in Britain have so far failed to announce how they will pass on the £50 annual bill reduction to all their customers promised by the chancellor in the autumn statement. Consumer groups criticised the foot dragging, which was underlined on Friday when E.ON said bills would rise 3.7%. The company was the last of the big six to set its figure in a wave of price rises that will cost householders an estimated £920m. The government has helped large power firms by removing the cost, or slowing down implementation, of various social and environmental obligations. The move is designed to aid cutting customers’ gas and electricity bills. E.ON said it would have increased its dual fuel prices by more than 3.7% if it had not been for the levy cuts, but the German-owned firm has not lowered bills for those on fixed rates.
Guardian 6th Dec 2013 read more »
Energy giant E.On has admitted increasing its profits as part of a 3.7 per cent household price rise, which will add £48 to a typical household bill. The company risked anger by admitting that £4 of the price rise was due to it increasing “the money we earn”.
Telegraph 6th Dec 2013 read more »
The last of the big six energy providers confirmed that it will raise prices yesterday when E.ON said it was putting up its tariffs by an average 3.7 per cent from January 18. The increase will add £48 per year to the average dual fuel bill. Bills for customers who buy only electricity from E.ON will rise by an average of 3.7 per cent, or £20 per year, while gas customers will pay another 4.6 per cent, or a £37 rise, a year. E.ON had been expected to impose a 6.6 per cent rise but scaled it back following the Government’s restructuring of green levies this week. The package of measures is designed to reduce consumers’ bills by about £50 next year.
Times 7th Dec 2013 read more »
The deadline for people to have their say on how the Government will search for a massive underground nuclear storage site has been extended. Public consultation on the process to find somewhere to keep high-level atomic waste was supposed to end yesterday. But a technical glitch at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has meant some responses sent to the Government were not received on time. Civil servants have, therefore, decided that the cut-off for opinions should run until December 19.
Carlisle News & Star 6th Dec 2013 read more »
Lake District National Park Authority: we would not support any Geological Disposal Facility that prejudiced the National Park or its setting, including any intrusive investigation above or below ground within the National Park. Such major development has the potential to adversely impact on the special qualities of the National Park and seriously impact the visitor economy of Cumbria.
LDNP 2nd Dec 2013 read more »
The European Commission is to review its procedures for ensuring nuclear materials in the European Union (EU) are not diverted from peaceful to military uses. It has released a tender for an expert to check its systems, which are coordinated by its directorate general for energy Directorate E, based in Luxembourg. The EC has 162 nuclear inspectors and a €20.5 million ($28.1 million) budget, conducting 1275 inspections in 2012, assessing 1.6 million records from nuclear operators. The commission said Directorate E is conducting an internal analysis of how it implements these checks, and wants an independent review to “identify, suggest and document any possible improvement.”
World Nuclear News 6th Dec 2013 read more »
The amount of nuclear-generated electricity in the OECD area declined by 5.2% between 2011 and 2012, according to the Brown Book of nuclear energy data published by the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency. Total electricity generation fell 0.1% over the same period. There were 331 operational reactors in the OECD as of 31 December: 215 pressurized water reactors, 78 boiling water reactors, 23 heavy water reactors and 15 gas-cooled reactors. Most of the units (133) were located in Europe, with 125 in the Americas (US, Canada and Mexico) and 73 in the Pacific region (South Korea and Japan). Total nuclear generation amounted to 1884 TWh in 2012, a fall from 1988 TWh in 2011, according to the publication, dubbed the ‘Brown Book.’ Total electricity generation fell just 0.1% from 4823.1 TWh in 2011 to 4818.1 TWh in 2012. Nuclear generation in 2012 totalled 869.3 TWh in the Americas, 849.0 TWh in Europe and 165.7 TWh in the Pacific region.
Modern Power Systems 6th Dec 2013 read more »
UniStar Nuclear Energy is completely withdrawing its application to build a third nuclear power plant at Nine Mile Point on Lake Ontario. The company submitted an operating license application in September 2008 to build what would have been Nine Mile 3. But just over a year later UniStar submitted a letter requesting the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to temporarily suspend the application review, including any supporting reviews by external agencies, until further notice. The reason? The company told the NRC it was because Nine Mile Point 3 was not selected for federal loan guarantees.
CNY Central 6th Dec 2013 read more »
Reporters Without Borders deplores the lower house of the Japanese parliament’s adoption yesterday of a “special intelligence protection bill” that would pose an unprecedented threat to freedom of information, and calls on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government to abandon the proposed law. “How can the government respond to growing demands for transparency from a public outraged by the consequences of the Fukushima nuclear accident if it enacts a law that gives it a free hand to classify any information considered too sensitive as a ‘state secret’?” Reporters Without Borders said.
Reporters without Borders 27th Nov 2013 read more »
Iran and six world powers plan expert-level talks next week to work out details of implementing a breakthrough agreement for Tehran to curb its nuclear programme in return for a limited easing of sanctions. Officials from Iran and the US, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia will meet in Vienna, where the UN nuclear watchdog agency is based.
Herald 7th Dec 2013 read more »
Mexico – radioactive source
Officials have begun the delicate task of recovering a stolen shipment of highly radioactive cobalt-60 abandoned in a field in central Mexico. The material, which the International Atomic Energy Agency called “extremely dangerous,” was found removed from its protective container. The pellets did not appear to have been damaged or broken up and there was no sign of contamination to the area, the agency said, quoting Mexican nuclear safety officials.
Independent 6th Dec 2013 read more »
Six people arrested following the theft of highly radioactive cobalt-60 are being tested for possible radiation exposure, a Mexican government official has said. The official said the suspects were taken to the general hospital in Pachuca for observation and testing and, once cleared, will be turned over to federal authorities in connection with the armed heist of a truck.
Times 7th Dec 2013 read more »
Renewables – Solar Aid
Chepnyaliliet school, with its rough concrete walls and tin roof at the end of a dusty lane lined with cacti and wild roses, seems an unlikely place find early adopters of technology. But that is exactly what Rhoda Sigei is. The determined nursery teacher was the first person in Bomet county, a verdant patch of Kenya’s Great Rift valley, to buy into the potential of using solar lamps. When the headteacher brought some samples to the school, Sigei knew she had to have one, so she asked for an advance on her tiny salary. “It was a struggle to get the first one, but I didn’t stop there. I bought three,” she says. She quickly realised the £5 orang plastic lamps, branded as d.lights, would pay for themselves because she and her husband, who farms a small plot, would no longer have to pay £8 a month in fuel for their paraffin lamp. That is a substantial saving when you earn just 3,000 Kenyan shillings (£21) per month. A reliable light in the evenings has enabled Sigei to help her 12-year-old daughter, who is struggling at school, and let her 14-year-old son indulge his interest in science.
Guardian 6th Dec 2013 read more »