The overly ambitious claims by NuGen, such as with the employment numbers, appear somewhat implausible and at odds with the current experience in the US where the construction of AP1000 reactors at Vogtle in Georgia and Summer in South Carolina (the first new-build in the US for 30 years) are already 12 months or so behind schedule and over budget. Similar delays – a hallmark of the so called global nuclear renaissance, are also reported for AP1000 construction in China at Sanmen and Haiyang. Toshiba’s earlier claim (Ecologist 17/1/14) that its NuGen venture will be faster and cheaper than EDF’s development of EPR reactors at Hinkley C in Somerset appears equally implausible. Further, sceptical observers will wait with interest to see whether Toshiba lives up to another claim reported in the Ecologist that it will ask ‘for a lower (strike) price than the £92.50 (per Megawatt/hour) given for Hinkley C’ by the UK Government.in October 2013. In welcoming this week’s announcement, the West Cumbrian pro-nuclear lobby has clearly taken no account of the many major hurdles facing the project – the first and foremost being the ruling expected later this year by the EU Competition Commission on the legality of the range of generous subsidies and underwritings offered to the UK’s new-build developers by Government. Then there’s the progress of the Regulators’ Generic Design Assessment (GDA) of the Westinghouse AP1000. With only Stage 1 of the complex assessment process completed, further delays to the process are likely as evident from the Regulators’ latest Progress Report (January – March 2014) which points to 51 ‘technically challenging’ issues still to be resolved and that ‘we expect the completion of GDA for the AP1000 reactor design to take a number of years’. No nuclear ‘island’construction can begin until the GDA issues have been resolved and the process completed.
CORE Briefing 6th July 2014 read more »
China & UK
BEIJING has opened talks with EDF Energy about buying one of the French power giant’s UK nuclear development sites — paving the way for the first Chinese designed-and-built atomic power station in Britain. EDF has already teamed up with two state-owned giants, China General Nuclear Power Corporation and China National Nuclear Corporation, to build two reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset. The plants would be the first since Sizewell C in Suffolk in 1995. However, it is understood that EDF’s Chinese partners have now begun talks to buy land that would be suitable for the construction of their own reactor. This follows a deal David Cameron agreed last month during the visit of Chinese premier Li Keqiang. It allows for China to design, own and operate nuclear stations in Britain. EDF, which is 84% owned by the French state, operates almost all of Britain’s atomic power plants. In 2010 the government identified eight sites that would be suitable for new stations. All are where plants are already in operation. It is thought that EDF’s sites at Heysham, Lancashire, or Hartlepool in northeast England could be the most sought after by the Chinese.
Sunday Times 6th July 2014 read more »
A new campaign group has been formed. The Blackwater Guardians is concerned about the dissolution process that has started at Bradwell Power Station and claims it will result in unnecessary discharges of radioactive liquid being poured into the Blackwater Estuary, causing harm to people and the environment.
Essex County Standard 5th July 2014 read more »
EDF, which operates most of Britain’s nuclear power stations, could be in line for an £800m windfall via a loophole in a government subsidy scheme aimed at keeping the lights on at times of peak demand. Ed Davey, the energy and climate change secretary, last week outlined his plan to pay power plants to be on standby from 2018 in an effort to deal with peak demand and the intermittency of wind power. Most industry experts assumed that the “capacity market” scheme – the cost of which will be passed to the consumer – was designed to ensure that the many gas-fired power stations threatened with closure would be kept open. But the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) now admits the scheme will be open to all forms of generation including nuclear, which has low operating costs and therefore could undercut its competitors in the auction to be run by the National Grid. The market is meant to start with that auction later this year although the ratings agency Moody’s has warned it may be delayed if it is found to breach European commission rules on state aid. All but one of the UK’s nuclear power plants are owned by the largely French state-owned EDF, whose UK atomic portfolio includes seven ageing plants due to be closed by 2024. Cornwall Energy, a power industry consultant, estimates that successful bids by EDF using all seven of its existing plants could be worth £223m in the 2018-19 financial year and £818m in total by 2023.
Guardian 6th July 2014 read more »
Energy prices for British consumers would fall by £1bn a year if electricity interconnectors between continental Europe and the UK were doubled by 2020, according to the operator of the UK’s gas and electricity networks. “The £1bn price saving could be achieved for an investment of £3bn,” said Steve Holliday, chief executive of National Grid. Interconnectors are transmission cables which allow electricity to flow between countries, and can be used to import or export power. The UK has four so far, linking the British mainland to France, Ireland, the Netherlands and Northern Ireland. These total 4,000 megawatts, about 5 per cent of existing electricity generation capacity. Importing cheaper power reduces the UK’s wholesale prices and would benefit consumers if lower prices are passed on by retailers.
FT 6th July 2014 read more »
The political outlook on green issues for the UK is substantially more fractured now than it was in 2010, according to former energy secretary Chris Huhne. Speaking at the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA) conference in Birmingham on 2 July, Huhne said that none of the political parties are offering reassurance on tackling climate change as they were four years ago. He said that in 2010 there was “a sort of uncanny consensus across all three main parties about the need to tackle climate change and ‘go green’.” He added: “These days, a lot more politicians are trying to appeal to different audiences, including people worried about their household energy bills, and the effect of wind turbines on the landscape.”
Edie 4th July 2014 read more »
Can the UK accept that current policy is failing and come up with something better? Spare a thought on this bright summer’s day for two men struggling to reconcile truth and political reality. Oliver Letwin, Cabinet Office Minister in the UK Government and Jo Johnson MP, head of the No 10 policy unit, have the task of writing the first draft of the Tory Party’s manifesto for the election next May. The manifesto will have to include something on energy policy. Both Mr Johnson and Mr Letwin are decent men who can generally be relied upon to speak and act honestly and honourably. That is where their problems begin. On energy policy how can they tell the truth about a policy which by common consent – among business, academics and the serious NGOs – is a costly failure? The fundamental error of the Electricity Market Reform process is that it is protectionist in nature. Companies are guaranteed revenue and the incentives to reduce costs once the deals are signed is minimal. Deals which guarantee index linked prices – from a starting point way above the current wholesale price for 15, 20 or in the case of new nuclear for 35 years are indefensible. Each element of the system should be competitive, with performance incentives which allow suppliers and consumers a share of the benefits if the providers succeed in bringing costs and prices down. EMR should be scrapped and a review process created to come up with the details of a better scheme which can be implemented once the election is over.
FT 6th July 2014 read more »
For three and half days in July, nuclear security experts from around the world will be meeting at the IAEA’s Headquarters in Vienna to take stock of developments in the field of nuclear forensics –which is the science of uncovering the origin and history of nuclear and other radioactive materials, especially those found at a crime scene. The more than 350 attendees will review the role of nuclear forensics as an essential element of national nuclear security infrastructure; present recent scientific achievements and exchange experience and lessons learned related to the application of nuclear forensics; review current state-of-practice in the field; and identify advances in analytical tools. They will also propose and discuss mechanisms for achieving further international and regional cooperation, as well as propose ways to increase IAEA support to Member States that request assistance in developing nuclear forensics capabilities.
IAEA 30th June 2014 read more »
Areva chief operating officer Philippe Knoche said on Friday the French state-controlled nuclear group may not be able to meet its self-set target of selling 10 reactors by 2016.”2016 had always been a commercial target. While there is still a solid basis for this, the calendar has stretched a bit,” he told reporters at a conference in Aix-en-Provence.
Reuters 4th July 2014 read more »
Get off the train at Stroud and the first building on the left is Ecotricity. Walk up to the main street, and the office block on the right is Ecotricity. On the outskirts of town, there is another one for Ecotricity. In fact, go anywhere in this part of Gloucestershire and it’s impossible to avoid the renewable-energy company. It’s the largest private-sector employer by far, with 400 staff. That number is growing at the rate of 20 a month – “120 more since Christmas,” says Dale Vince, the firm’s 52-year-old chief executive and founder.
Independent 6th July 2014 read more »
The concept is a nuclear power plant built on a floating platform similar to an offshore oil rig. The plant would be manufactured at a shipyard then towed out to sea, where it would be anchored to the ocean bottom. An underwater cable would transmit electricity back to land, and there would be a living quarters built into the plant, just like an offshore drilling platform. The reactor pressure vessel – the part of the reactor susceptible to overheating – would be surrounded by a containment vessel, and flooded with seawater. While the concept for a floating nuclear reactor isn’t entirely new- Russia is already building one and planning to put it into service by 2016 – the MIT-led prototype is the first to combine a nuclear power plant with an oil drilling platform in its design. Also, unlike the Russian plant, which is located very close to shore, OSMRs (Offshore Small Modular Reactors) would be towed far out to sea.
Oil Price 6th July 2014 read more »
Finland – radwaste
The Finnish nuclear regulator needs another six months to review Posiva’s application to build a waste encapsulation plant and a final repository at Olkiluoto. Posiva – a waste management joint venture of utilities Fortum and TVO – submitted its application to the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (Stuk) in December 2012. At that time, Stuk expected to complete its review of the application by the end of this month. Posiva has not yet provided all the information required, Stuk said. New safety requirements published last December have also delayed the review. Assuming it completes its review in December, Stuk said it would submit its report to the Ministry of Employment and the Economy in January. The ministry will then forward the licence application and related materials for consideration by the government.
World Nuclear News 26th June 2014 read more »
US – radwaste
Environmental radiation releases spiked again in mid-June around the surface site of the only U.S. underground nuclear weapons waste storage facility near Carlsbad, New Mexico. The facility, the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP), has been shut down since February 14, when its isolation technology failed, releasing unsafe levels of Plutonium, Americium, and other radio-nuclides into the environment around the site.
Dissident Voice 6th July 2014 read more »
Bulgaria, one of five EU states that depend totally on Russia for nuclear fuel, is set to take a step towards diversifying its suppliers when Westinghouse Electric Company buys a stake in a state-controlled firm building new atomic units.Westinghouse, the world’s largest nuclear fuel producer and part of Japan’s Toshiba group, has concluded talks with the Balkan country to take a 30 percent stake in Kozloduy NPP – New Build, which is building new units at the Kozloduy nuclear site in Bulgaria.
Reuters 6th July 2014 read more »
Japan is still struggling to deal with the hugely complex ramifications of the nuclear accident at Fukushima Dai-ichi. While there is often a hope that disasters may act as a major catalyst, following 3/11 it appears that there has been more continuity than change in Japanese politics.Hymans has identified a similar state of affairs, noting that debate about nuclear power has ‘gone around in circles’ with Japan failing to reach ‘a coherent long-term nuclear policy response.’ Yet the very serious political, economic and technical challenges that have emerged following the fateful events of 11 March 2011 are slowly forcing Japan to come to terms with the role nuclear energy might play in its future. The approach Abe is presently pursuing is setting Japan on course for an unproductive and suboptimal middle ground, in which it is exposed to the potential risks that follow from operating nuclear reactors in a country vulnerable to multiple natural hazards (earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, typhoons), while receiving limited benefit, given that it is predicted that nuclear power may constitute less than 10% of Japan’s energy supply. In light of this situation, Hymans has predicted that ‘the coming nuclear restarts… can be expected to be highly inconsistent and politicized, and to routinely violate economic and technical rationality.’ The direction Japan is headed – essentially cutting the baby in half – will solve neither the economic nor environmental challenges Japan faces in securing its energy supply, nor will it satisfy the anti-nuclear majority or pro-nuclear business groups. Rather than continuing his troubling moves to supress debate, Abe needs to use his position of strength to foster an open and inclusive discussion about Japan’s future and what role nuclear energy should play in it. Unfortunately there are few signs that Abe is willing to do so.
Japan Focus 7th July 2014 read more »
The Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture could restart two reactors in autumn without a crucial emergency facility in place to deal with a possible nuclear accident and evacuations of host communities. The Sendai plant, operated by Kyushu Electric Power Co., is expected to be the first to resume operations among all plants that have applied for safety screenings by the Nuclear Regulation Authority. The Cabinet Office in September 2012 instructed all prefectures hosting nuclear power plants to ensure that off-site emergency centers be equipped with ventilation and other systems to prevent radiation contamination and be located between 5 and 30 kilometers from the nuclear plant.
Asahi Shimbin 7th July 2014 read more »
Japanese government officials no longer expect the world’s biggest nuclear plant to restart this year, sources said, a delay which deals a blow to turnaround plans for operator Tokyo Electric Power. Starting the Kashiwazaki Kariwa facility in Niigata Prefecture is a pivotal part of Tokyo Electric Power Co’s attempts to shore up its finances three years after its Fukushima site suffered three nuclear meltdowns. The company had slated the restart of two reactors at Kashiwazaki for this month, but critics have long said that goal was unrealistic and four sources with direct knowledge of the matter said it would be postponed. One source said the timetable could be pushed back by a year.
Japan Today 7th July 2014 read more »
Since late January there have been several under-reported and nuclear-related actions in Ukraine as tension deepens, such as the brief occupation of the Zaporija complex by 40 Neo-nazi Right Sector actvists from Kiev in May in an action “designed to deter pro-Russian federalists and separatists”. From April 2014, the Kiev government has on several occasions made calls for “Western governments” to provide international monitors and “non-aligned peacekeeping forces” to protect the country’s NPPs, repeatedly stating that major attacks on NPP complexes could release more radiation than Chernobyl and Fukushima combined.
Market Oracle 7th July 2014 read more »
Nigeria’s plan to develop a nuclear power plant was capable of lifting its electricity supply base to a new level, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Technical Cooperation deputy director-general Dr Kwaku Aning said. Aning was quoted by THISDAY Live as saying that the desired nuclear power project was achievable, although complex. The IAEA will assist Nigeria in ensuring a smooth and adequate preparation for the project construction, Aning said, adding that placing measures that prevent pollution would be better than trying to clean up possible disasters.
Energy Review 4th July 2014 read more »
Letter: Councillor Mark Hackett, Chair, UK & Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities, and 10 others The Trident Commission’s headline finding “Britain ‘should keep its nuclear deterrent'” is mistaken (29 June). Modernising and proliferating nuclear weapons is out of step with international law and Britain’s security needs. In one of its few relevant passages, the Trident Commission concluded that the UK needs to needs to prepare a “glide-path” for reducing its reliance on nuclear weapons. With the Vienna Conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons scheduled for 8-9 December, the Commissioners need to work to ensure that Britain takes part in multilateral steps aimed at abolishing nuclear weapons, rather than sticking the UK’s head in the sand and pretending that the world has not changed in 30 years.
Independent 6th July 2014 read more »
Letters: A RECENT flurry of letters on the nuclear weapons in the independence debate appears to have both the Yes and, in particular, the No camps peddling a misconception. Both sides often argue that the UK nuclear deterrent would be, in some way, unilaterally dismantled in an independent Scotland. This is not the case. The independence campaign and other enlightened people for that matter do not argue for disarmament; they argue for the removal of nuclear weapons from Scotland.
Scotsman 7th July 2014 read more »
Bob Fleming was told nuclear tests would have no health effects but 14 of his 21 descendants have been born with defects.
Mirror 6th July 2014 read more »
The cost to households of subsidising solar power has almost quadrupled in two years, according to new figures, and is set to jump again next year. Currently about £580 million, or £7.40 of an annual household energy bill, pays for generous subsidies for wealthy homeowners who have spent thousands of pounds installing panels on their roof, as well as for developers of large-scale solar farms. Those figures compare with just £150 million, or £1.90 per household, in the year to March 2012, according to figures from the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), which opposes subsidies on the grounds that they distort the market.
Times 7th July 2014 read more »
More than 150 businesses from across the solar power industry and beyond have joined forces to warn David Cameron of the threat to a sector that could be worth almost £80 billion globally by the end of the decade. The coalition of companies, which includes furniture giant Ikea, will ¬submit a letter to the Prime Minister today urging him to back the “thriving” sector. The submission comes on the day the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) closes its consultation on proposed changes to support for solar power. Critics argue that the proposals are already having a damaging effect on parts of the industry. Paul Barwell, chief executive of the Solar Trade Association (STA), which organised the letter, said: “Solar is a home-grown solution to Britain’s energy crisis. If the government provides a stable policy environment, solar will soon be subsidy-free. But the government is now proposing to tilt the playing field against large-scale solar, while not taking sufficient action to unlock commercial rooftop solar – that is unacceptable.”
Scotsman 7th July 2014 read more »
Letter Juliet Davemport, John Sauven etc: Eight per cent of Britain’s daytime electricity came from solar power on June 21, and Germany now generates over half its electricity in this way. Why then is the Government ignoring the potential of mid- to large-scale solar farms in its current proposals on renewable subsidies? Solar farms are quick to build, and the technology is available now. Solar energy is cheap and low-carbon and it helps Britain meet its renewable energy target. It is popular with the public, provides an alternative income stream for farmers, and is helping a growing number of schools to cut their energy bills. Given the right support now, large-scale solar power could be free of subsidy by 2020. Yet a large number of longer-term investments will not go ahead under current proposals. The majority of the players in Britain’s solar market are innovative small and medium enterprises, procuring investment from alternative sources such as crowd-funding. So, as well as helping to solve our energy crisis, solar power is also promoting competition in the market.
Telegraph 7th July 2014 read more »
Renewables – solar
As early as 2018, solar could be economically viable to power big cities. By 2040 over half of all electricity may be generated in the same place it’s used. Centralised, coal-fired power is over.
Guardian 7th July 2014 read more »
Industry today set out ambitious recommendations to all political parties for how the UK economy could save billions by placing buildings at the heart of energy policy. The Sustainable Energy Association’s Manifesto, published on 7 July, uses the Government’s own online calculator to demonstrate how an ambitious programme of insulating buildings, and producing more energy directly from buildings themselves could net savings to the economy averaging £12.1bn per year from now until 2050. This is equivalent to a £189 saving per year, every year, for every UK citizen. The SEA manifesto calls on all major political parties to adopt a renewed approach to energy policy, focusing on: An Energy in Buildings Strategy; A major focus on the use of smart technology to treat buildings as an integral part of the energy system; A new approach to home heating, recognising the potential of the heating installer; A major infrastructure-based energy refurbishment of the UK’s buildings.
Sustainable Energy Association 7th July 2014 read more »
The plan for ‘smart meters’ is a mistake. Even those who now promote them do not fully understand them. Experience in other countries shows they will not fulfil their optimistic official targets and that they are fraught with risks. They do not work properly in several types of building. Their complex technology could take years to bed down.
Daily Mail 6th July 2014 read more »