More than £12bn of the UK government spend on two new power plants will go abroad, mainly to companies in France, a government adviser warns. More than half of the £24bn expected to be spent on the first British nuclear reactors for two decades could go abroad to foreign suppliers, a leading UK academic and government adviser has warned. The issue is of extreme political sensitivity because George Osborne has already faced criticism for providing huge subsidies to Hinkley, which is being developed by EDF Energy of France. “It will be seriously tough for British manufacturers to meet the needs of EDF in line with the commitment that 60% of the value of the project will remain in this country,” said Sir Keith Burnett, who is a member of the Council of Science and Technology reporting to the prime minister, David Cameron. Burnett, the vice-chancellor of Sheffield University, said that 40% of the total value of the work at Hinkley Point atomic plant would largely go to French firms. At least £4bn worth of spending on items such as pipes and pumps – around 15% of the project by value – will be up for grabs for the UK but only if local companies can provide the higher specification supplies required by EDF. Burnett thinks that will be difficult to achieve.
Guardian 6th Dec 2015 read more »
Nukes vs Climate
Letter: Dorfman, Fairlie, Lowry and Porritt: Contrary to the article by James Hansen, Kerry Emanuel, Ken Caldeira and Tom Wigley, many scientists around the world remain sceptical that nuclear is the answer, or even part of the answer, to climate change. The academic authors have a fine record in identifying the causes and consequences of climate change, but their proposed solution simply doesn’t make sense. The main problem is that, contrary what many think, nuclear power is a poor method of reducing carbon emissions: its uranium ore and fuel processes have heavy carbon footprints. Indeed, of the ways to reduce carbon emissions in the energy sphere, nuclear is by far the most expensive in terms of pound per tonne of carbon saved. Renewables, especially wind and solar, are now less expensive, quicker to install, and much safer: with them one does not have to worry about the spectres of Chernobyl and Fukushima. But perhaps most important of all is the moral dimension. Given the technical and political obstacles to dangerous spent nuclear fuel, should we be passing these problems to future generations? What about the Irish Sea, still the most radioactively contaminated sea in the world due to Sellafield’s discharges? What about the sheep farms in north Wales still subject to food controls due to radioactive contamination from Chernobyl almost 30 years ago? The climate change negotiators in Paris should think hard before recommending nuclear as a solution. It isn’t.
Guardian 6th Dec 2015 read more »
Liunda Pentz Gunter: Last week a new billionaires club strode into COP21 in Paris promising big money for ‘clean energy’: the Breakthrough Energy Coalition. But most of its members are nuclear obsessives, writes Linda Pentz Gunter, from Bill Gates to Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson. And what the the world needs is not ‘patient investment’ into nuclear research, but impatient investment into renewables deployment. The first question that crossed my mind when reading about the latest Bill Gates investment venture was “is this a cover to divert yet more money into nuclear energy?” The Breakthrough Institute, after all, is the name of the pseudo-green nuclear energy front group whose people promoted and starred in the 2013 nuclear power propaganda film, Pandora’s Promise. But so far the Breakthrough Institute is lying low on the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, although I suspect not for long. At first glance, the mission of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, whose collective wealth is $350 billion, sounds reasonable enough, even if it takes a while to get ones head around that kind of disposable income. More research? More innovation? Why? The chump change of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition members could, on a massive scale, deploy wind, solar and geothermal energy, technologies that are not waiting to be invented. They are ready now and lack only the political willpower to implement. And it’s deployment we so desperately need. Why throw more money into ‘patient’ research? Surely they understand we no longer have the luxury of time? So who are these guys and what are they really up to? A review of Coalition members yields a mixed bag full of red flags proudly flying the radiation symbol.
Ecologist 6th Dec 2015 read more »
Women bring a whole different perspective to the nuclear sector. That’s the view of Miranda Kirschel, Energy Advisor at EY. She also leads the Women in Nuclear UK (WiN UK) organisation, which aims to encourage them to develop a career in the sector and promote dialogues with other women out in the public. Speaking to ELN she said: “The reality is we see things a little bit differently, we bring something new to the party, we tend to associate with some of the motive issues which perhaps in a meeting with men, only men, you wouldn’t necessarily get so you miss out on some really important elements.
Energy Live News 7th Dec 2015 read more »
The nuclear decommissioning sector never stands still, with the estimated clean-up costs, the technology used and the approach to procurement all liable to constant flux. The total bill for cleaning up Britain’s 17 nuclear sites has increased in each of the last five years, rising from £45.1bn in 2009 to almost £70bn this year, according to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the public body responsible for the UK’s civil nuclear legacy. Part of the reason for the cost escalation, as one supplier puts it, is that “nobody can be sure what the waste comprises – nor how to deal with it”. This can mean an uncertain existence for the supply chain. Last month, scientists at Sellafield hailed a breakthrough, whereby intermediate-level nuclear waste, previously destined for processing in an expensive new encapsulation plant, will instead be stored much more cheaply with concrete grout inside steel boxes. The NDA was understandably happy to trumpet these “huge savings to the taxpayer”. However, there may have been a mixed reception to the news at AMA, the Atkins-Mace-Areva joint venture that was appointed to build the £1bn Silos Direct Encapsulation Plant in April 2014 – which is no longer required. And in January, Nuclear Management Partners, a consortium of URS, Amec and Areva, was stripped of its £22bn, 17-year contract to run Sellafield, in favour of what the NDA calls “new, simplified management arrangements”. Both episodes illustrate how priorities can change in the nuclear decommissioning sector as more detail is uncovered about the waste, better disposal methods are devised and clients decide on more efficient ways of working with their supply chain.
Construction News 3rd Dec 2015 read more »
Britain’s nuclear watchdog has discovered serious flaws in record keeping on radio-active waste at Sellafield. The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) found that while there were proper records of nuclear waste accumulated at the Decommissioning Operating Unit there, records of waste disposed of from the unit were deficient. Sellafield, the closest nuclear facility to Ireland, has long been a cause of concern to environmentalists here. The inspector described the handling of the records as a “significant shortfall” that made it difficult for Sellafield to demonstrate that “vital records are being managed appropriately for these high hazard facilities”. “It became apparent to me that there is no quality assurance check or peer review when data is entered into Sellafield Limited’s waste tracking database. “Consequently, it was my opinion that there is potential for the information in the waste tracking database to be incorrect. This database is used to make decisions on waste routing so this shortfall is significant and is one which may occur in other operating units because the same database is used across the Sellafield site.” The ONR has begun enforcement action to make Sellafield address the failings, saying the “lack of robustness” must be swiftly addressed.
Irish Examiner 7th Dec 2015 read more »
The purpose of this project is to help the Environment Agency, Office for Nuclear Regulation and Natural Resources Wales better understand the needs of members of the public in relation to engagement in the GDA of new nuclear reactor designs, by engaging in a dialogue with members of the public.
Science Wise (accessed) 7th Dec 2015 read more »
A cargo of nuclear waste that arrived in Australia at the weekend was aboard a ship owned and operated by a web of German companies, registered in the tiny Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda and crewed by a mix of Russian and Ukrainian seafarers. It brought accusations from an independent Australian Senator that Australia was “tendering out its national security to the lowest common denominator”, and followed expressions of disbelief from major party parliamentarians that the bureaucracy did not check the ownership of foreign vessels operating in Australian waters. The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) defended the use of the ship, saying it was nuclear-rated and declared fit-for-purpose by both Australian and French nuclear and maritime safety authorities.
Sydney Morning Herald 6th Dec 2015 read more »
Tony Lodge – research fellow at the Centre for Policy Studies and author of “The Great Green Hangover” – next winter the situation looks precarious. The government’s anti-coal policies look set to force the early closure of most of Britain’s remaining coal-fired power stations long before equivalent-sized replacements are ready. Ministers want to see gas-fired power plants replace coal by the mid-2020s but there is no strategy to deliver plant-for-plant replacements; instead, they seem happy to keep carbon taxes high to force out coal. Research by the Centre for Policy Studies indicates that Britain hasn’t been more at risk of power cuts, shortages and price spikes for more than 60 years. There is a real risk that the available dispatchable electricity generating capacity — those supplies that are readily available when they are needed — will fall below likely demand, particularly in the winter of 2016-17. The available electricity capacity next April, after the early closure in March of three big coal plants, is calculated to be 52,360 megawatts. This contrasts with National Grid’s 2015-16 winter electricity demand forecast of 54,200MW. Britain’s last deep coalmine, at Kellingley in North Yorkshire, will close this month. Sunk in the 1960s to supply new local power stations, it had pinned its hopes on carbon capture, but the government scotched that in the autumn statement.
Times 7th Dec 2015 read more »
US – Energy Policy
U.S. Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders unveiled a climate change plan on Monday that seeks to end the country’s dependence on oil, coal and nuclear energy and could pressure party front-runner Hillary Clinton. The Vermont senator’s plan envisions 10 million new jobs in clean energy such as wind, solar and geothermal power. It would ban oil and gas lobbyists from working in the White House, end new fossil fuel lease sales on public lands, and would cut carbon emissions faster in coming decades than the goals set in President Barack Obama’s clean power plan. “It’s time for a political revolution that takes on the fossil fuel billionaires, accelerates our transition to clean energy and finally puts people before the profits of polluters,” Sanders, who calls himself a democratic socialist, said in a statement. The plan can be seen here: https://berniesanders.com/people-before-polluters/
Reuters 7th Dec 2015 read more »
Moscow has shelved Turkish Stream, a 63 Bcm gas pipeline through the Black Sea, as tensions with Ankara escalate following the downing of a Russian fighter jet. Aleksandr Novak, the Russian energy minister said talks are suspended and construction start on the pipeline, scheduled for July 2016, has been called off. Progress on the Akkuyu nuclear power station, built by Rosatom, may also be hit by Russia’s retaliatory sanctions.
Gas to Power Journal 7th Dec 2015 read more »
Security chiefs are trying to block the release of documents that would shed fresh light on how Britain and the US came close to provoking a Soviet nuclear attack. They are insisting that a report, The Detection of Soviet Preparations for War Against Nato, must remain secret. The report was drawn up by the joint intelligence committee (JIC) after a Nato military exercise codenamed Able Archer 83.
Guardian 7th Dec 2015 read more »
Something incredible is happening right now across the globe. Achieving 100 percent clean energy is becoming “the new normal” in the fight to solve climate change. What’s driving this trend is a flowering of ambition. Cities across the globe are demonstrating what it means to lead with ambition. Today, 1,000 mayors issued a declaration in Paris at the Climate Summit for Local Leaders, the largest-ever global gathering of local leaders focused on climate change. The declaration states: “We—the undersigned mayors, governors, premiers, and other local government leaders—commit collectively to support ambitious long-term climate goals such as a transition to 100% renewable energy in our communities.”
Sierra Club 4th Dec 2015 read more »
Renewables – solar
Debbie Dooley is a firebrand Republican and an outspoken founding member of the Tea Party. But in a fast-intensifying battle over the future of solar power in Florida, she is not on the side you might expect. Along with a diverse grassroots citizens’ coalition including environmentalists and other left-leaning activists, Dooley is taking on Big Energy and its big-spending conservative backers in an intriguing fight that puts her toe-to-toe with her onetime political allies. She is at the spearhead of a campaign to place an initiative before Florida voters next year that would give consumers the freedom to choose to buy their solar energy from smaller private companies and bypass the mega-bucks utilities. “It’s Florida’s solar eclipse,” says Dooley, who points to statistics she claims are proof that the Sunshine State is trailing the nation in utilising its most plentiful natural resource.
Guardian 6th Dec 2015 read more »
An architect has designed a house which costs just £15 ($23) per year to heat, light and power. Colin Usher has built his own four-bedroom home in Merseyside. Will Batchelor has been looking into how Colin keeps his bills so low.
BBC 5th Dec 2015 read more »
Swedish researchers have developed a new paper-like material that can store as much energy as market-scale supercapacitors and batteries. Power Paper’ is a 15cm wide, less than 1mm thick, sheet of conductive polymer that can store as much as 1 Farad of energy. It has been developed by researchers at Linköping University’s Laboratory of Organic Electronics and could ultimately serve as a sustainable replacement for current batteries. The paper has already set four world records for highest charged and capacitance in an organic electronic, highest measure current in an organic conductor, highest capacity to simultaneously conduct ions and electrons and highest transconductance in a transistor.
Edie 4th Dec 2015 read more »
Almost one third of UK local power networks could be overloaded if electric vehicles (EVs) become a mainstream motoring choice, a new study has found.
Edie 4th Dec 2015 read more »
The company responsible for more than one-third of Germany’s electricity grid says there is no issue absorbing high levels of variable renewable energy such as wind and solar, and grids could absorb up to 70 per cent penetration without the need for storage.
Renew Economy 7th Dec 2015 read more »
China is forecast to become the world’s biggest electric car market this year, with sales estimated at 220,000 to 250,000 vehicles, the official news agency Xinhua said on Sunday, quoting the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. Worldwide electric cars sales are expected to increase to 600,000 this year, association deputy secretary-general Xu Yanhua told an industry conference. China is tipped to surpass the US as the world’s biggest electric car market, she said, putting the American market at an estimated 180,000 vehicles.
Telegraph 6th Dec 2015 read more »
As representatives of nearly 200 countries gathered in Paris to discuss ways of reducing emissions from fossil fuels, many pointed to what they consider a simple and obvious way to change behavior: Stop widespread subsidies that encourage the use of fossil fuels. Industrialized nations agreed to start phasing the subsidies out after an agreement at the Group of 20 summit meeting of the world’s largest economies in 2009, and some progress has been made. The International Energy Agency said its $490 billion estimate for worldwide fossil fuel subsidies in 2014 would have been $610 billion if not for changes since that agreement. But calls for greater cuts continue. The energy agency issued a statement last month identifying the elimination of subsidies as one of the most effective strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The subsidies are “public enemy No. 1 in terms of sustainable development,” said Fatih Birol, executive director of the agency.
New York Times 5th Dec 2015 read more »
Plans to gasify coal under the sea around Scotland could cause pollution, earthquakes, underground explosions and “uncontrollable” fires, according to confidential draft reports from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa). The Scottish Government’s green watchdog admits that it doesn’t know what level of protection its safety regulation can provide against the hazards of underground coal gasification (UCG). The risks were “sometimes unknowable”, it says in one report. The revelations have prompted anger from politicians, community groups and environmental campaigners. They are demanding that the government’s temporary moratorium on UCG be turned into a permanent ban.
Ferret 6th Dec 2015 read more »