Roy Pumfrey: If it ever gets built, there will only be 900 permanent jobs at Hinkley C, many fewer than the 2,000 jobs already lost in the insulation industry due to Government cutbacks. Improving insulation in houses saves people from wasting money on electricity, but the Government, and it seems Somerset County Council, seem happy to approve subsidies for their massive White Elephant at Hinkley Point instead. Despite all the PR spin, this is just another false dawn for HPC! Nothing is happening at the site, nor likely to until EdeF fill the black hole in their finances caused by the Chinese only taking a 33.5% stake in the project instead of the 40% expected.
This is the West Country 5th Nov 2015 read more »
EDM 619: That this House objects to the Departmental Minute from the Department for Energy and Climate Change, dated 21 October 2015, concerning contingent liabilities relating to the entering into of contracts regarding the Hinkley Point C power station; and directs the Department to ensure a full examination is undertaken of the nature, extent and consequences of the contingent liability which it proposes to incur, including any associated risk to public funds and impacts on energy bills, before proceeding any further with accepting this liability.
Parliament 28th Oct 2015 read more »
Ian Liddell Grainger: There have been occasions in the last few years when the vision of Hinkley Point C has appeared to float just like a mirage – distant and unattainable. So it must have been to everyone’s enormous relief to see the huge, penultimate piece of the jigsaw levered into place when the agreement with the Chinese government was signed a couple of weeks back. Just a few more signatures are needed on the financial arrangements now and we should then be all clear for work on the project to crank up in April. And although I understand that the anti-nuclear protestors are going to carry on protesting I firmly believe the majority of local people are whole-heartedly in favour of a project which is going to transform this corner of the West Country. After all, many of them have had a nuclear power station as a neighbour for more than 50 years and have been entirely content with the situation. Talking to people who have been in this area far longer than I have I been impressed by the memories they hold of how the local economy prospered during the building of both A and B stations at Hinkley Point.
Bridgwater Mercury 6th Nov 2015 read more »
Increased Levels of Americium 241 were recently reported in the mud at Ravenglass (RIFE, Oct. 2015). Americium 241 has a half life of over 400 years and will remain deadly for well over 4,000 years. Slight increases in cesium and plutonium were reported as well, by the UK government. Americium 241 increased in the mud at Ravensglass from 2013-2014 (reported Oct. 2015) even though discharges have supposedly decreased. Not stopped, mind you, they continue to dump all sorts of deadly radionuclides into the Irish Sea. A TBq (terabecquerel) is 1000000000000 disintegrations per second (i.e. radioactive shots per second). That is terabecquerel per year for discharges and becquerels per kilogram for mud.
Mining Awareness 5th Nov 2015 read more »
I spent Wednesday morning at a press conference where Sellafield was the primary point of discussion. Officials from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) were joined by several academics to talk about the options for dealing with the 140 tons of plutonium that are currently stored at the site. The largest stockpile of civil plutonium in the world, it presents a multitude of problems and opportunities. Which outweighs which depends very much on who you speak to, and how optimistic you are in relation to the development of certain technologies. Top of the list – and the government’s current preference – is for some application that uses mixed oxide fuel, or MOX. A Sellafield MOX Plant was completed in 1997, didn’t actually begin operation until 2001, and was closed in 2011 after a poor performance record that saw it deliver just 5 tons of MOX in its first five years. To put that it into context, it was designed with a capacity for 120 tons a year. Total construction and operating cost was around £1.2bn. While France has had a degree of success in producing MOX, construction on the US’s MOX production facility at the Savannah River Site was recently pushed back a decade, and may not be in operation until 2033. Another option on the table is PRISM. Developed by GE Hitachi (GEH), PRISM is a sodium-cooled fast reactor that uses a metallic fuel alloy of zirconium, uranium, and plutonium. GEH claims PRISM would reduce the plutonium stockpile quicker than MOX and be the most efficient solution for the UK. The problem is, despite being based on established technology, a PRISM reactor has yet to be built, and the UK is understandably a little reluctant to commit in this direction. Seen as something of a gamble, it remains in the running alongside the currently more favoured MOX option. Amid all the uncertainty, one thing is for sure. Regardless of what decision is taken, a proportion of the plutonium will end up as waste and will need to be safely disposed of. One of the speakers at the press conference was Professor Neil Hyatt from the University of Sheffield. A materials science specialist, Hyatt is currently developing an immobilisation technique that can be used to render the plutonium unsuitable for weaponisation, allowing it to be more safely stored in the longer term. Using a form of hot isostatic pressing (HIP), the process mimics the formation of ancient minerals by using extreme heat and pressure to lock the plutonium inside ceramic based wasteforms. According to Hyatt, the HIP technology is about a decade away from operation. Unlike MOX and PRISM, immobilisation has no prominent industry backers. In comparison to exploiting the plutonium for our energy needs, there is no great fortune to be made from disposing of it safely. But immobilising the entire plutonium stockpile may in fact be a more economically sound approach than reprocessing, says Hyatt.
Engineer 6th Nov 2015 read more »
Jeremy Corbyn has given his views on a third nuclear power station at Heysham and the district’s housing crisis while on a visit to Lancaster University. The Labour leader, who is opposed to the use and holding of nuclear weapons, was measured in his response when asked about plans for Heysham 3. “There has got to be a planning process,” he said. “I recognise the jobs need. I recognise we need a mix of energy. “I strongly support green energy but you have to have a base of electricity production otherwise you would end up with no supply. “I am concerned about nuclear safety and waste, and that has to be addressed. “I am also concerned that nuclear energy clean-up costs will be dumped on the British public rather than the company that’s doing it.”
Lancaster Guardian 6th Nov 2015 read more »
While the world is focused on Iran and nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, an accelerated round of nuclear plutonium production is about to get started in East Asia. Areva, the French nuclear export firm, is desperate for business, and therefore is seeking to sell a large plutonium separation plant to China. It is simultaneously urging Japan to start commercial operation of its large plutonium recycling complex, despite the unfavorable impact this would have on efforts to rein in worldwide production of nuclear explosives. The Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun recently reported that after an October 5 meeting in Tokyo, “Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his French counterpart Manuel Valls agreed to help ensure Japan maintains its longtime policy to recycle spent nuclear fuel.”
National Interest 6th Nov 2015 read more »
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) said today it will prepare a proposal for taking a minority stake in Areva’s reactor business. EDF has already agreed to take a stake of at least 51% in Areva NP, which is also responsible for equipment and fuel manufacturing, as well as services for reactors. In late-July, EDF and Areva announced they had signed a memorandum of understanding that sets out the principal terms and conditions for EDF to take a majority in Areva NP. Areva will hold a stake of no more than 25%, allowing the potential participation of other minority partners.
World Nuclear News 6th Nov 2015 read more »
Bloomberg 6th Nov 2015 read more »
The announcement during Xi’s visit of an agreement to allow substantial Chinese participation in the UK civil nuclear program signifies a new era for China’s nuclear export program and perhaps for the global nuclear industry. It also provides fodder for ongoing debates about the costs and benefits of using nuclear power to address climate change and the national security implications of allowing foreign investment in critical infrastructure. We outline the scope of nuclear cooperation, explain the key factors driving the deal, and discuss the potential implications for the global nuclear industry.
CSIS 23rd Oct 2015 read more »
The UK’s nuclear deal with China makes no sense, writes Jeffrey Henderson – unless you factor in the simultaneous agreement to forge lucrative links between UK and Chinese financial markets. Lucrative, that is, for the City institutions whose interests the British government so assiduously represents. As for the rest of us, our task is simple: to bear the ever-growing cost.
Ecologist 6th Nov 2015 read more »
The nuclear industry courtesy of UK government is no stranger to dangling carrots. Ethicists have been hired to write papers on the ethics of offering ‘compensation or bribery to Host Communities.‘ Perhaps a much more relevant paper would be on the ethics of writing a paper on the ethics of compensation for nuclear dumping in the midst of no end in sight to new waste being churned out daily? The government department tasked with trying to find a place to dump nuclear waste in the 1990s was called, NIREX. Cumbria Said No back then, when the plan was much smaller for much less dangerous wastes. Cumbria also said NO to the son of NIREX, the ironically named, “Mananging Radioactive Wastes Safely” in January 2013. Now the Grandson of NIREX is the much slicker Radioactive Waste Management. They are continuing the nuclear dumping agenda, running CONsultations aimed at “Implementing Geological Disposal” of Nuclear Waste including Heat Generating Nuclear Wastes. Published below with permission from No Nuclear Waste Dumping is an excellent account of what happened on Friday at the CONsultation.
Radiation Free Lakeland 6th Nov 2015 read more »
LLW Repository Ltd has submitted a far-reaching planning application which, if successful, will ensure the future of its site until 2050. The submission of the application follows news that LLWR has been granted a revised permit to allow continued disposal of wastes at the site – the culmination of 7 years’ work by the organisation. The site, near Drigg, in West Cumbria, is the UK’s national facility for the disposal of low level radioactive waste. And the planning application is seeking to enable the phased construction of 3 new vaults (9a, 10 and 11) where low level waste would be disposed of in specially-grouted containers. If successful, construction work on vault 9a could start in 2016 and run for almost 4 years. The application would also allow higher-stacking of containers in vault 8 and the disposal of containers in vault 9, where they can currently only be stored.
NDA 3rd Nov 2015 read more »
Lancashire can play a “distinctive” role in the Northern Powerhouse agenda, with big opportunities in the nuclear and aerospace sector, according to Manchester City Council’s chief executive.
Lancaster Guardian 7th Nov 2015 read more »
The UK is wasting a huge sum on nuclear energy at a time when low-carbon sources can provide a growing share of the world’s electricity supply, writes Paul Dorfman, Nuclear’s worldwide new-build record is equally fragile. Of the 67 reactors currently being built, 8 have been under construction for more than 20 years, another for 12 years; and at least 49 have been significantly delayed. For the remaining 18 reactor units, construction either began within the past five years or the reactors haven’t reached projected start-up dates. A large number of these projects involve the Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom, which is building plants in Russia and Belarus and claims more reactor orders from Iran, Turkey, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Jordan, Hungary, Finland, Egypt, India and South Africa. There are doubts over whether Rosatom has the cash and supply chain capacity to carry out more than a small fraction of these; most depend on Russian finance, hit hard by the recent plunge in oil prices and western sanctions. Rosatom is already facing delays in its own homeland due to lack of resources. Despite its own economic downturn, China has 28 reactors under construction – 42% of the world’s total new-build – with 21 reactors (17 GW) in operation, which in 2013 provided 2.1% of the country’s electricity. To put this into perspective, in 2013 alone, China installed 12 GW of solar, (a threefold increase over 2012), with plans for solar to grow up to 66 GW by 2017. The general post-Fukushima situation suggests that nuclear construction will be constrained in the coming decade. Although some European plants are still planned in Finland, France and the UK, Italy and Switzerland have cancelled plans for new reactors, Belgium has confirmed a nuclear phase-out, Sweden and Spain are maintaining a nuclear moratorium, and eight EU countries have signed a declaration that nuclear power is incompatible with the concept of sustainable development. Germany, Europe’s dominant electricity user, has made its choice. Its decision to phase out nuclear power by 2022 and to instead invest in renewables, efficiency measures, grid infrastructure and energy storage, will prove significant for both European and international energy policy.
China Dialogue 6th Nov 2015 read more »
We have reached the point when, on a warm day in early November, the country can run short of electricity, it is time to turn the question round. Is the Western policy elites’ obsession with global warming itself a threat to civilised life on the planet? Commenting on wobbly Wednesday, the distinguished energy expert Professor Dieter Helm said: “We are now sailing very close to the wind.” I am not sure whether he was playing with that metaphor, but he is right. Of electricity generated in Britain in 2014, 19 per cent came from renewables, the majority of that being wind. So if there ain’t no wind, there’s much less power. And without wind, there has to be a non-intermittent “despatchable” source of energy, such as gas or dirty energy from emergency diesel generators, to plug the gap. And if you have to buy emergency energy, you – or rather we, the consumers – have to pay emergency prices. So now we have coal-fired power stations closing down, no new gas-fired power stations coming on stream and – even after the friendly words exchanged between David Cameron and the President of China in London last month – no actual, definite money to ensure we get the promised nuclear power station at Hinkley Point. The energy “safety cushion” has lost its stuffing. All we know is that the current renewables subsidies of £4 billion will rise to £8.5 billion by 2020: we’ll be getting lots more offshore wind-farms (there being fewer angry voters in the sea than on land).
Telegraph 6th Nov 2015 read more »
Caroline Lucas: The National Grid’s urgent request for extra generation this week has been widely hyped as an emergency, with the country at risk from blackouts. On closer examination, it turns out that the National Grid has been calmly explaining that a “notification of inadequate system margin” (NISM) is not a last resort. It’s simply part of the standard toolkit for balancing supply and demand, issued this time because of multiple breakdowns at some large power stations. Given that almost all the UK’s coal-fired power stations are over 40 years old, it’s not terribly clear why anyone would expect them to be particularly reliable in the first place. But even if, behind the hysteria, we didn’t come that close to an outage, this episode should nevertheless serve as a wake-up call to a government beset by short-term, last-century thinking on energy.
Guardian 6th Nov 2015 read more »
Russia and Korea have signed a contract to carry out research on experimental fuel rods irradiated in the BOR-60 fast research reactor. Dimitrovgrad, Russia-based RIAR’s BOR-60 is the world’s only fast research reactor in operation. Commissioned in 1969, BOR-60 is fully contracted till the end of its lifetime in December 2020.
World Nuclear News 6th Nov 2015 read more »
While the UK is to build a nuclear plant at Hinkley Point, Sweden has started dismantling one. US Westinghouse Electric Company will segment the reactor pressure vessel at the Barsebäck Nuclear Power Station in the south of Sweden. It has two reactors with a capacity of 600MW each, which were closed in 1999 and 2005. The works aim to reduce the amount of remaining radioactivity in the plant since its operation stopped and facilitate safe dismantling of other components. The project is expected to take around four years to complete, the company stated.
Energy Live News 6th Nov 2015 read more »
THE government’s plan to build nuclear power plants will go ahead, with the Cabinet “poised to make a decision” on the way forward soon, the head of the Nuclear Energy Corporation of SA (Necsa) said. “It will go ahead — we do not have an option,” Necsa CEO Phumzile Tshelane said on Talk Radio 702 on Wednesday. He said the two choices to increase continuous power were coal and nuclear as other methods were not viable given the deteriorating climate.
BD Live 4th Nov 2015 read more »
Renewables – solar
For decades the electricity industry has been a cautious and conservative business, but the plunging prices of solar panels, down by about two-thirds in the past six years, have woken it up with a bang. Dynamic rooftop solar power companies have entered the market, in the most radical change to electricity supplies since the industry was born in the 19th century. It has been described as the equivalent of the mobile revolution in telephony, or the PC in computing. Yet for some the disruptive potential of solar power is not so much a promise as a threat. Established electric utilities are facing challenges they had not dreamt about five years ago. Many are starting to push back. It is a battle that will shape the future of the industry — and possibly of the climate. Britain’s boom-and-bust in residential solar power shows how vulnerable the industry can be when it relies on subsidies. In 2010, the UK government introduced “feed-in tariffs” for people who fitted solar panels or other renewable energy systems, offering guaranteed payments from the utilities for power generated, paid for by charges added to all customers’ bills. The rates were attractive, and about half a million homes in the UK now have solar panels.
FT 6th Nov 2015 read more »
Councils have not been put off investing in solar despite the recent subsidy cuts, according to public sector energy consultant Stephen Cirrell. Speaking at the Solar Energy UK exhibition in Birmingham last month, Cirrell said local authorities were adjusting the timeline of projects with many opting to wait it out for two years. Very few however, were walking away from a commitment to pursue solar energy. Storage, private wires and falling costs of PV panels will help to make solar economic for local authorities. Nottingham City Council is a trailblazer.
Solar Portal 4thNov 2015 read more »
This week’s Micro Power News.
Microgen Scotland 6th Nov 2015 read more »
housands of householders – particularly those on low incomes – are missing out on free energy efficiency measures, including new boilers, because they may not be aware that help is available. Since 2013, energy firms have been ordered by the government to reduce energy consumption and support people at greater risk of fuel poverty through what is known as the energy company obligation (ECO) scheme. So far around 1.5m energy-saving measures have been installed in households across Britain, at a rate of around 25,000 a month. However, with winter weather just around the corner, householders who live in older properties that may not have such measures in place are being encouraged to see if they are entitled to a free or low-cost upgrade.
Guardian 7th Nov 2015 read more »