Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West, is to hold a crisis meeting with the Vice President of the French Assembly, Denis Baupin, on the ‘triple risks’ posed by Hinkley C nuclear power station. The meeting takes place ahead of a state visit by Chinese President, Xi Jinping, to the UK later this month. The UK government is rumoured to be ready to sign a financial deal with the Chinese which would ensure funding for the nuclear new build. Dr Scott Cato and Mr Baupin will be joined by protesters and a white elephant outside the gates of Hinkley on Friday and will draw attention to the risks to security, the risk of an energy gap and the risks associated with Chinese ownership of the plant.
Molly Scott Cato 6th Oct 2015 read more »
This week George Osborne took the entire energy policy brief out of the department for energy and climate change, and handed it to the new National Infrastructure Commission. It could mean a swift end to the Hinkley C nuclear plant and a new wave of renewables – but don’t count on it. NIC chairman Lord Adonis is no green dreamer. But at least he takes energy seriously.
Ecologist 7th Oct 2015 read more »
The situation over Britain’s proposed fleet of new nuclear reactors can charitably be described as a mess, and it isn’t one that looks likely to be tidied up any time soon. There’s still no final decision on whether Areva is definitely going to build Hinkley Point C, even though everyone assumes that it will (the decision has been described as ‘imminent’ for at least the past two years). And the Chancellor’s blandishments to convince Chinese investors to stump up the cash that apparently can’t be obtained from anywhere else means that the UK has now agreed that a Chinese-designed reactor (of as-yet unknown and unapproved technology) will be built in Essex at some point in the future. Along with the uncertainty and delay over Hinkley C, there are lingering concerns about the reactor design. The Areva EPR is not yet operational anywhere and the two flagship projects, in Flamanville, Normandy and Olkiluoto, Finland, are both seriously behind schedule and over budget. Understandably, many people, even within the industry, have doubts over the wisdom of hitching the UK to that particular wobbly wagon.In terms of expertise, the UK is certainly capable of designing a reactor. Pressurised water reactors are actually built in the UK: Rolls-Royce builds and maintains the reactors for the Royal Navy’s nuclear submarines, and is currently developing a third-generation unit for use in the proposed replacement for the Vanguard-class Trident boats. This could be seen as a distinct advantage, because small PWRs are the basis for small modular reactor (SMR) technology, which is often stated as being a more practical option for the UK.
Engineer 7th Oct 2015 read more »
OUTRAGED campaigners staged a protest against proposals to allow Chinese investors to build a new nuclear power station at Bradwell. A flotilla of boats took to the water as Mersea and Maldon residents joined forces with action groups Bradfield Against New Nuclear and the Friends of Bradwell, following two weeks of planning. Hundreds attended the protest opposite the power station, raising banners and donning radiation suits. Campaigners fear the new nuclear station could harm wildlife in the Blackwater estuary and damage the fishing industry.
Maldon Standard 5th Oct 2015 read more »
Sir John Armitt: My colleagues and I – including Lord Adonis – consulted widely and proposed the creation of a National Infrastructure Commission to provide dispassionate analysis of the UK’s long-term infrastructure needs. Three years later, I am thrilled to finally see cross-party support for the concept. During this year’s Budget, the Chancellor said government needed to be bold when it comes to infrastructure, and this is indeed a bold and positive step. Lord Adonis is the right person to take the helm. He has long championed infrastructure and brings vast experience in transport and housing. He is known and respected across political boundaries for his drive, intelligence and ideas. He has all the credentials.
Institute of Civil Engineers 7th Oct 2015 read more »
New nuclear plants can form a major part of an affordable low carbon transition, with both large nuclear and small modular reactors (SMRs) potentially playing a role, but a strategic approach to reactor siting and effective public consultation will be important to determine the extent of their deployment, according to a new report published by the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI).
ETI 7th Oct 2015 read more »
New nuclear reactors have a major role to play in delivering low-carbon electricity in the UK, the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has claimed. In a new report released today (7 October), the ETI – a public-private partnership between global energy and engineering companies and the UK Government – said that large-scale reactors could provide up to 35GW of baseload capacity, while a ‘fleet’ of small modular reactors (SMRs) could provide combined heat and power (CHP) generation.
Edie 7th Oct 2015 read more »
Onshore wind energy has become cheaper than electricity from any other source in the UK for the first time, in what could be a landmark moment for renewable energy in Britain. Yet the Government has been accused of scuppering Britain’s best chance of meeting the country’s ambitious environmental targets through its continued resistance to onshore turbines, despite growing evidence that they are the most affordable option. However, new figures show they not only produce cheaper energy than coal, oil or gas power stations, but also remain far cheaper than offshore turbines, which the Government is championing. Onshore wind farms currently produce about 60 per cent of the UK’s wind power output. Although they are set to remain the predominant form of renewable energy in the next few years despite opposition in Westminster – which has stopped subsidies and given the final say on whether a project should go ahead to local residents – supporters of green energy say the country is missing a chance to maximise their potential.
Independent 7th Oct 2015 read more »
New onshore windfarms are now the cheapest way for a power company to produce electricity in Britain, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). Costs have dropped to $85 (£55) per megawatt hour (MWh) compared with the current costs of about $115 for constructing coal or gas-fired plants, its analysis found. The price of wind, which has fallen from $108 just 12 months ago, compares with nuclear which Bloomberg assesses at $190 – the latter up on a year ago as project delays are factored in to developments.
Guardian 7th Oct 2015 read more »
Britain is, according to most estimates, the windiest country in Europe. Gales sweep across the north, south-westerlies toss the Welsh moors and, all in all, 2015 was the most blustery year for the past two decades. So the news that onshore wind energy is now the cheapest on offer to UK consumers should be an unalloyed cause for celebration. As it is, dark clouds hang heavy. The price of a mWh of wind energy generated onshore has fallen to $85 (£55), according to Bloomberg, which puts it some way below coal and gas (at $115 and $114 respectively). Evidently, consumers will be wanting more of it in the near future, particularly since the price of coal and gas is only set to rise. Yet Britain’s onshore wind industry has been blown off course by the Government, and a rise in capacity is not likely to match the rise in demand. In the Coalition years, power was shifted to local authorities to veto the construction of onshore wind farms, with the predictable result that fewer projects are getting off the ground. In some controversial cases, escalated to central government, the then Communities Secretary Eric Pickles saw the plans for new farms scrapped. A triumph for Nimbyism, a tragedy for the nation’s energy infrastructure. Making matters worse, the Conservatives recently announced that subsidies for onshore wind farms would be cut a year earlier than planned – a decision that saw 250 proposed wind farms disappear. As the Confederation of British Industry – hardly a group of eco-warriors – pointed out, this will discourage investment at a crucial juncture for renenwables and harm Britain’s commitment to clean up its energy mix by 2020. Some rural residents may thank the Conservatives for stymying onshore wind farms, and saving the views from their ho mes. But as winds rise, and prices fall, the rest of the country could be forgiven for feeling thunderous.
Independent 7th Oct 2015 read more »
Electricity generated by large wind farms is now cheap enough in many places around the world to compete effectively with electricity generated by coal and natural gas. At the same time, solar panel farms aren’t quite low cost enough to be as competitive with fossil fuels as wind energy is. Still, the cost of electricity generated by solar panels has also come down significantly this year.
Fortune 6th Oct 2015 read more »
Scientific American 6th Oct 2015 read more »
One of the pioneers of the United Kingdom’s renewable energy industry says the British government is distorting the market in an attempt to support fossil fuels and nuclear power. His accusation comes as the industry’s trade association, RenewableUK, announces that in the second quarter of this year renewable energy produced 25.3% of the country’s electricity − more than either nuclear power (21.5%) or coal (20.5%). The accuser is Dale Vince, who in 1995 founded the green energy company Ecotricity, which supplies almost 170,000 British customers with wind and solar power. He is challenging the government to scrap its subsidies for nuclear power and fossil fuels in order to “create a level playing field” after it cut support for renewable energy.
Climate News Network 7th Oct 2015 read more »
Background: After the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in March 2011, radioactive elements were released from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Based on prior knowledge, concern emerged about whether an increased incidence of thyroid cancer among exposed residents would occur as a result. An excess of thyroid cancer has been detected by ultrasound among children and adolescents in Fukushima Prefecture within 4 years of the release, and is unlikely to be explained by a screening surge.
Epidemiology 5th Oct 2015 read more »
Four attempts by Russian-linked gangs in Moldova to sell nuclear material have been thwarted by the authorities and the FBI over the past five years, according to an Associated Press investigation. The most recent case was in February when undercover agents were offered a large amount of radioactive caesium from a smuggler who specifically sought a buyer from Islamic State, the report said. The cases involved informants and an undercover police officer posing as a connected gangster complete with a Mercedes Benz provided by the FBI. Despite being arrested, the alleged kingpins got away with short prison sentences and in some cases have resumed nuclear smuggling, AP found.
Guardian 7th Oct 2015 read more »
It’s the stuff of a Kiefer Sutherland ’24’ series: shadowy eastern European gangsters with links to the Russian secret service hawking the ingredients of a dirty bomb in illicit nightclub encounter.
LBC 7th Oct 2015 read more »
Daily Star 7th Oct 2015 read more »
Metro 7th Oct 2015 read more »
Isis nuclear smuggling gang: Read the full investigation into how FBI stopped extremists getting radioactive material.
Independent 7th Oct 2015 read more »
Experts warn that Northeast Asia could see a dangerous growth in stocks of weapons-usable plutonium — and U.S. lawmakers say Obama administration policies could be making matters worse. Japan plans to open as early as next spring a plant that could reprocess enough spent reactor fuel to make as many as 1,000 nuclear bombs a year. The plutonium that is produced is supposed to be for generating electricity, but Japan already has tons on hand and no use for it, with its reactors at a virtual halt following the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster. Local politicians are aggressively backing the plant, eager for investment in a remote northern region. Meanwhile, the U.S. is renewing civil nuclear agreements with China and South Korea on less restrictive terms.
AP 7th Oct 2015 read more »
An American nuclear power company has set out its ambition to bring its minature reactors to the UK as part of a market it says could be worth £400bn by 2035. Small modular reactor (SMR) developer NuScale Power, which is backed by primary investor Fluor Corporation and says it has the support of the US government, wants to establish its reactors, which are less than 3m in diameter, in this country. NuScale Power chairman chief executive John Hopkins said: “We see the UK as one of the most attractive places globally to do nuclear business. Britain has the opportunity to grab a share of the future high value global SMR market.
New Civil Engineer 7th Oct 2015 read more »
A report published by the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), has found that nuclear reactors with a capacity in units of 300 MWe or less would be suitable for use in the UK. The report, which includes work by Atkins, Mott MacDonald and Rolls-Royce, models future energy requirements and generation scenarios and analyses how Small Modular Reactors (SMR’s) and large baseload reactors could fit into the future energy system.
Institute of Mechanical Enginners 7th Oct 2015 read more »
Centrica may face plenty of criticism from green groups, but according to the boss of its growing social impact investment arm it is serious about becoming a major player in the UK clean tech community.
Business Green 7th Oct 2015 read more »
The French government wants utility EDF and nuclear group Areva, both state-owned, to keep a combined 66 percent stake in Areva’s former reactor building arm Areva NP, a government source told Reuters on Tuesday.With respective stakes of 51 percent for EDF and 15 percent for Areva, this would open the door for outside investors to buy into Areva NP and limit the amount of funds the French state will have to spend on saving the nuclear firm.The source also said EDF and Areva will look for one or more partners for the remaining 34 percent of Areva NP and said EDF will finalise its offer for Areva NP at the end of November, but declined to comment on media reports saying the French state plans to inject 2.5-3 billion euros of new capital into Areva.
Reuters 6th Oct 2015 read more »
Europe should maintain at least the current capacity of nuclear generation up to and beyond 2050, which will involve the commissioning of more than 100 nuclear reactors over the next 35 years, the Brussels-based industry group Foratom has said. Foratom said major investments will be required in nuclear new build, lifetime extension and safety upgrades, fuel cycle operations, decommissioning and waste management. It also called on the European Commission to provide a stable regulatory and investment framework for nuclear projects, improve the harmonisation of nuclear regulation across the EU, and address “existing market failures” in many member states to help ease the burden of high up-front capital costs for nuclear. Foratom said there should be an effective carbon price in the EU linked to a well-functioning emission trading scheme, or ETS.
NucNet 5th Oct 2015 read more »
The prime ministers of France and Japan attended high-level talks in Tokyo on enhancing nuclear cooperation between the two countries. The talks included cooperation in nuclear safety and research on decommissioning nuclear facilities. In a joint statement, the two countries noted the role that nuclear power plays in national energy policies and highlighted its contribution to “energy independence, economic competitiveness and the fight against climate change”.
World Nuclear News 7th Oct 2015 read more »
Japan – Fukushima
Four Japanese researchers have attributed most of the thyroid cancer cases found among children and adolescents after the March 2011 nuclear power plant crisis in Fukushima Prefecture to radiation from the accident in their report published Tuesday. Annual thyroid cancer incidence rates in Fukushima after the disaster through late last year were 20- to 50-fold higher than a pre-accident level for the whole of Japan, a team led by Toshihide Tsuda, professor of environmental epidemiology at Okayama University, said in the electronic edition of the journal of the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology.
Japan Today 8th Oct 2015 read more »
Abandoned buildings, cars and bikes can be seen in the stunning photographs which show how the land surrounding the nuclear plant has been reclaimed by nature. These never-before-seen photographs give an unprecedented look at the exclusion zone surrounding the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant. The massive 12.5 mile zone has become an overgrown wilderness after being abandoned in the wake of the 2011 nuclear disaster. Hundreds of cars, bikes and every-day items lay untouched as a reminder of the haste in which they were left when the area was evacuated after a massive tsunami ripped the power plant apart. Arkadiusz Podniesinski, a professional photographer and filmmaker from Poland, took the pictures when he visited Fukushima last month.
Mirror 7th Oct 2015 read more »
Huffington Post 7th Oct 2015 read more »
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told Russia there were other places Turkey could get natural gas and other countries that could build its first nuclear plant, in the wake of Russian incursions into Turkish air space during its air campaign in Syria.
Reuters 8th Oct 2015 read more »
Russia and Armenia have signed an intergovernmental agreement on the exchange of information related to nuclear and radiation safety. The agreement was signed yesterday in Yerevan by Sergey Kirienko, director general of Rosatom, and Yervand Zakharyan, Armenia’s energy minister.
World Nuclear News 7th Oct 2015 read more »
The US government believes North Korea has the capability to launch a nuclear weapon against the homeland and stands ready to defend against any such attacks, a high-level US military official has said.
Guardian 8th Oct 2015 read more »
From the wind turbines that dot the plains of northern Germany to the solar panels speckling the roofs of Bavarian farmers, the shift to renewable energy has transformed the German landscape. It has reverberated through the economy too, squeezing the profits of traditional utilities and prompting complaints from industry over high electricity prices. In June, the utility Eon shut down its Grafenrheinfeld nuclear plant seven months ahead of schedule, marking a milestone in Germany’s transition from nuclear power. The closure of Grafenrheinfeld, serving the manufacturing heartland of southern Germany, underlined the country’s phasing out of nuclear energy and the simultaneous growth of renewables that have taken up the slack. Proponents of the Energiewende say the success of the shift has defied the sceptics. Patrick Graichen, executive director of Ago ra Energiewende, a Berlin-based think-tank, says: “We will probably reach 30 per cent [of electricity generation from renewables] this year, compared with where we were 15 years ago – which was 6 per cent. Three challenges remain. While the use of nuclear power is shrinking, the country remains heavily dependent on lignite and coal, which generated 26 per cent and 18 per cent respectively of German electricity output last year. Angela Merkel’s government is under pressure to curb the use of coal and lignite to meet its target of a 40 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by the end of the decade from 1990s levels. But Germany abandoned plans to raise emissions charges for older coal-fired power stations in July, in the face of an outcry from the power sector. Instead, 2.7 gigawatts of lignite-fired plants will be placed into a reserve from 2017 and then closed after four years.
FT 8th Oct 2015 read more »
David Cameron told the Conservative Party conference in his set-piece leader’s speech today. “My first duty as Prime Minister is to keep people safe. Our belief in strong defence and sound money. ..In government, I have a team who keep us safe at home and abroad……Justine Greening, Michael Fallon, Philip Hammond and Theresa May. and because our independent nuclear deterrent is our ultimate insurance policy – this Government will order four new trident submarines.”
David Lowry 7th Oct 2015 read more »
Renewables – solar
The Solar Schools energy education project, which has helped install more than 1,000 solar panels on schools across the UK, may be forced to close next year because of planned government cuts in support for renewable energy. The charity 10:10, which started the Solar Schools project in 2011, has said that if “drastic” cuts to renewable energy subsidies proposed by the government go ahead, the scheme will no longer be financially viable. “Solar power and schools are a perfect fit. We have big roofs, lots of daytime energy use – and children whose futures depend on a rapid switch to clean energy. It simply cannot be the right decision to block more schools from benefiting from solar power. Yet that is exactly what will happen if the government goes through with these cuts.”
Business Green 7th Oct 2015 read more »
Switches in government energy policy were blamed last night for the collapse of a solar energy company, with the loss of nearly 1,000 jobs. About 930 employees at Mark Group, a Leicester-based solar energy and home insulation company that has been in business since 1974, were told that they had lost their jobs only hours before administrators at Deloitte were called in. Chris Farrington, of Deloitte, said: “Unfortunately, the company has sustained heavy losses due to structural changes in its core markets, which it has been unable to survive, despite some significant recent investment. With regret, the administrators are having to make a significant number of redundancies, but are working with remaining employees to secure an urgent sale of the ongoing business.” Mark Group had been bought only recently by SunEdison, an American solar energy company. Changes in British government policy, including the withdrawal of subsidies for domestic solar power installations from January, have severely dented Mark’s prospects. UK subsidies for rooftop solar panels have been cut from 12.9p per kilowatt hour now to 1.6p from January – a devastating blow for the industry.
Times 8th Oct 2015 read more »
Guardian 7th Oct 2015 read more »
The Scottish Government has announced that it reached its 500MW target of community and locally-owned energy five years early with a total generating capacity of 508MW renewable energy now installed. Anne Schiffer, energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth said: “We wish to congratulate the Scottish Government and those communities involved who have made this happen. With the UK Government’s sustained and ideological attack on renewable energy, this announcement is fantastic news. “What is important now is that we see this as a starting point of a citizen-led renewables transformation not the end. Scotland must continue to lead the way to an energy future that benefits both people and the planet. To ensure even more communities benefit across the country, we urge the Scottish Government to double the 2020 target to 1000MW as well as set an ambitious target of 2000MW for 2030.”
Friends of the Earth Scotland 6th Oct 2015 read more »
THE SNP has been accused of attempting to suppress debate within its own ranks after party HQ watered down a conference resolution calling for a moratorium on fracking to be extended. A potentially divisive debate is to take place at the party’s conference on unconventional oil and gas, based on a resolution that was submitted ahead of the event by the SNP’s Leith branch calling for a u-turn in Scottish Government policy. It has emerged that party bosses have rewritten the submission without consultation with the branch, leaving delegates with the chance to agree to a far weaker position than was proposed by grassroots members. Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, criticised the party leadership for allowing only a tame motion to be debated. Far stronger submissions calling for an outright ban on unconventional oil and gas extraction were rejected by a powerful SNP committee that agrees what can be put to members at conference, while it is understood that proposed amendments to the watered down Leith resolution were also ignored.
Herald 8th Oct 2015 read more »