Chinese nuclear power at Bradwell: an economic liability, environmental disaster and political catastrophe. Barry Jones, Emeritus Professor of Politics and International Relations at the University of Reading and a member of the Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG) Core Group, discusses the economic, environmental and political issues raised by the proposed new Chinese nuclear power station at Bradwell. The accords signed by Prime Minister David Cameron and the Chinese President at the end of the latter’s State Visit to the UK marked a significant step towards a new fleet of nuclear power stations throughout the UK and towards a Chinese built and operated nuclear plant at Bradwell. This development comes in the face of increasingly widespread doubts about the general economic wisdom of building new nuclear power stations and growing concerns about the environmental and security implications of permitting Chinese state-owned companies to build and operate nuclear power stations in the UK. The economic case for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley has been disputed by no less than the authoritative Financial Times, which argued in a leader article of 9 September, 2015 that: ‘…from the perspective of the UK consumer the terms look even less desirable. Few would bet on wholesale electricity prices holding steady at double their present level for the next half century. Some experts even hypothesise that they might fall, both magnifying the scale of the [nuclear] subsidies and making them permanent. Meanwhile the cost of alternative low carbon sources, such as solar, and better battery technology, is falling fast’. Such views have encouraged the Chief Executive of the National Grid, Steve Holliday, to conclude that: ‘The idea of baseload power is already outdated’ and that more distributed, smart systems of electricity production and consumption are now required. The Government has, however, become fixated upon the supposed ‘need’ for new nuclear power stations and largely subordinated the transformational potential of a range of genuinely ‘renewable’ technologies – from the increasingly widespread solar and wind generators, through to stationary arrays of hydrogen fuel cells (which could be used both to generate electricity from biological materials and to ‘store’ electrical potential created by other renewables).
BANNG 7th Nov 2015 read more »
Stumbling along at half speed to its scheduled end-date of 2018, Sellafield’s ‘flagship’ Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (THORP) continues to notch up missed targets – this time the completion of all overseas reprocessing contracts by the end of 2016. Overseas customers must now wait (at least) until 2018 (the closure date for the plant itself) to see the end of what has been, for them, a less than rewarding reprocessing experience.
Fissile Materials 6th Nov 2015 read more »
Names & Shamed: Scotland’s Dirtiest Companies. The Dounreay nuclear plant on the north coast leaked radioactive tritium gas from waste stacks in breach of authorised limits. It also exceeded its allowance for the amount of water it could extract from radioactive waste vaults six times. The Dounreay nuclear plant pointed out that most of its assessments by Sepa in 2014 had been “good” or “excellent”. It accepted that it had breached gas discharge limits for radioactive tritium, but stressed they were for a limited number of waste stacks, not for the site as a whole.
Herald 8th Nov 2015 read more »
Herald 8th Nov 2015 read more »
A Suffolk group fighting Sizewell C is urging a government minister to review the inclusion of nuclear power in national energy policy in the light of current research and data. Together Against Sizewell C (TASC) said the government has an “increasingly bizarre and incomprehensible obsession with nuclear power”. It has twice delivered a document analysing the case for nuclear power to secretary of state for energy and climate change, Amber Rudd, in the past two months but has yet to receive a reply.
Lowestoft Journal 7th Nov 2015 read more »
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has given the clearest indication yet that he accepts the need for a new nuclear power plant in west Cumbria. In an interview with the News & Star, Corbyn – who has long campaigned against the UK’s nuclear deterrent – spoke of the need to protect nuclear jobs and regulate the industry. His words will be scrutinised by industry officials involved in plans for a new multi-billion pound nuclear power plant at Moorside, near to Sellafield. He said the country needs a mixture of energy sources to maintain the demand for electricity across the UK and to protect nuclear jobs. “I recognise the need for jobs and that you need to have a mix of energy,” said Mr Corbyn. “While I strongly support green energy in general, such as wind, wave, tidal, solar power and energy conservation measures, I understand that you have to have a base of electricity production. Otherwise when those renewable resources don’t kick in you end up with no supply.”
Carlisle News and Star 7th Nov 2015 read more »
This week, Ms Leadsom told Labour’s Paul Flynn, who is concerned over Chinese investment in the proposed £24bn Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in Somerset, that “safety and security in the civil nuclear industry are of paramount importance to the Government”. If that is the case, why has the Government insisted on cutting the resources of the nuclear regulator, which is already struggling to find people with the right skills to become power plant inspectors? Minutes of a 13 October board meeting of the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), which is sponsored by the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP), show this to be the case: “DWP has been tasked with saving £590m by mid-2019, and this target will include the activities of ONR. The board set a very clear expectation that ONR would need to contribute to the efficiency savings and that we needed to be looking for efficiencies across all of ONR and not just the back office functions.” I’m with those who think Ms Leadsom is a decent outside bet for the Conservative leadership in 2019. But, she must square her rhetoric with the financial demands of the DWP: cutting costs at the ONR, when we are on the cusp of building a new generation of nuclear power plants, is ridiculous.
Independent 7th Nov 2015 read more »
Cumbria’s geology is wonderfully complex and has been very well studied. No matter if it was studied for a further 200 years, because it is so complex there can only ever be “poor understanding of how water and gas will flow through fractures and faults (which) could lead to the release of radionuclides in groundwater much faster than expected.”
Radiation Free Lakeland 7th Nov 2015 read more »
Energy Supplies – Scotland
One of Scotland’s leading economists has slammed a report on energy security from the Scottish Parliament’s Economy and Energy Committee, claiming that the committee had been “hijacked” by the pro-wind farm lobby and that the report “ignores the serious supply issues which will be caused by the forthcoming closure of the Longannet power station”. The report on “Ensuring Scotland’s Energy Security” was published last month and follows a six-month parliamentary inquiry. Branding the report as “very poor”, Inverness-based economist Tony Mackay said the report concentrated almost exclusively on electricity supply rather than the published objective of energy security while taking no account of the fact that electricity only accounts for around 20 per cent of energy consumption in Scotland.
Herald 8th Nov 2015 read more »
With as many as 120 warheads, Pakistan could in a decade become the world’s third-ranked nuclear power, behind the United States and Russia, but ahead of China, France and Britain. Its arsenal is growing faster than any other country’s, and it has become even more lethal in recent years with the addition of small tactical nuclear weapons that can hit India and longer-range nuclear missiles that can reach farther.
New York Times 7th Nov 2015 read more »
David Cameron’s chief climate change adviser has warned that the government is “clearly failing” in key policy areas and needs to regain the confidence of investors in green technology, in the runup to next month’s crucial global summit in Paris. Lord Deben, chairman of the UK’s independent committee on climate change, told the Observer of his concerns, particularly regarding the continued waste of energy from draughty homes and the failure to exploit the potential of renewable heat technology. His comments follow criticism from international figures, including the UN’s chief scientist, about Britain’s lack of leadership on renewable energy before the crucial Paris talks i n December, where demanding new targets on reducing carbon emissions are due to be set. EU figures published last week showed that only Malta, Luxembourg and the Netherlands used less renewable energy than the UK as a proportion of total consumption. Just 5.1% of energy used in the UK is renewable, according to figures produced by the EU statistical office. The government has a target of 15% of energy consumption from renewables by 2020, but its record so far leaves it to make the largest improvement of all 28 member states.
Guardian (Observer) 7th Nov 2015 read more »
Since the election, the government has performed a series of dizzying U-turns on its green policies. It has announced cuts to subsidies for onshore wind and solar energy; scrapped the zero carbon homes standard; ended the green deal for home insulation; and reversed its promise to exclude national parks from fracking. There is no question that the green policy framework has been ripe for reform. Some subsidies have been unnecessarily generous and the green levies that pay for them are highly regressive, costing poor households six times as much of their income than the most affluent. But to scrap many subsidies and regulations altogether will be hugely damaging to Britain’s efforts to reduce emissions and is antithetical to Mr Cameron’s 2010 pledge to lead the “greenest government ever”. It is vital that any framework provides long-term certainty to encourage private investment in green technology. Any reform therefore needs to be gradual and signalled well in advance to maintain industry confidence. But to the alarm of green NGOs and business groups alike, the government has ripped up its green policy framework overnight. This will have a long-term effect on investment, and not just in the green sector: business will question whether they can take government commitments at face value. The implications for the UK’s targets to reduce carbon emissions are serious: the independent advisory committee on climate change has warned they are now at risk. And internationally, the tim ing of the about-turn could not be worse, with global leadership more important than ever in the lead up to Paris. The success of the summit is predicated on countries pushing each other to go further in signing up to targets enshrined in national legislation than they would have done without international co-operation. The targets on the table represent huge progress since the 2009 Copenhagen summit, but more will be needed to limit global warming to the internationally agreed target of two degrees.
Observer 8th Nov 2015 read more »
Renewables – Hydro
Western Community Energy Society Limited – Rainepower Hydro at Killington, Cumbria. Never heard of Killington? It lies in a very beautiful part of the Lune valley in south east Cumbria. The Killington and District Sustainable Energy Trust (‘K-SET), the group that initiated the hydro project, was set up in 2009 “to raise awareness of the principles of sustainability” and “to develop exemplar community projects applicable to rural locations for producing energy from renewable sources and reducing energy consumption” This project needs to raise a total of £420,000 – £67,400 has been raised to date (6th November 2015).
Energy4All November 2015 read more »
BRITAIN should put its clocks forward by two hours to help cut its greenhouse gas emissions, according to Lord Deben, the chairman of the government’s committee on climate change. He believes the move would bring people’s lives into closer alignment with the rising and setting of the sun – so saving on lighting and heating in the morning and evening. A second advantage would be to throw Britain out of alignment with its European neighbours. This would ensure the periods of peak demand – usually in the evenings – would not overlap, thus enabling neighbouring countries to use interconnectors to smooth out demand surges. “There is an argument for double summer time [GMT plus two hours]. If we get up nearer the time when the sun rises and go to bed closer to when it sets, we could save a lot of energy.
Sunday Times 8th Nov 2015 read more »
NATIONAL GRID is poised to kick off the £10bn sale of its gas distribution operation. The £33.4bn energy giant has been spurred into action by rampant demand for infrastructure assets from foreign investors. National Grid, which owns and runs much of the country’s electricity system, offloaded half the gas distribution network 11 years ago. Now it is weighing up plans to sell part or all of the other half, City sources said. The mooted sale comes at a pivotal moment. Last week National Grid used emergency powers to ask industry to reduce electricity use because of a shortfall in supply. Some of the sale proceeds could be used to upgrade the grid. The board is understood to have started weighing up options for the four gas distribution networks owned by the company. They supply 10.9m customers across the Midlands, northwest an d eastern England and north London.
Sunday Times 8th Nov 2015 read more »