Evaporator D must be breaking all records. Initially costed at £90M (2007) and originally due to come into operation in 2010/11, the cost has increased eight-fold to £740M – as at September 2015. With a ‘challenging’ operational date currently pencilled in as 2017/18, and with updated figures yet to be published, the sky is clearly the limit for Evaporator D. The tortured progress of the new Evaporator, designed to reduce (by evaporation) the volume of the dangerous liquid High Level Wastes (HLW) produced by spent fuel reprocessing, reveals a catalogue of project mismanagement and eye-watering cost hikes that show little sign of abating. Promoted specifically by BNFL and subsequently by the NDA as being urgently needed to support continued reprocessing operations in the B205 (magnox fuel) and THORP (oxide fuel) plant, Evaporator D is currently being shoe-horned into the HLW complex where it will join its three fellow but semi-crippled evaporators (A,B & C) whose increasing unreliability through age and internal corrosion had underpinned the urgency for Evaporator D. For a project whose £740M cost will undoubtedly escalate further, aggrieved taxpayers may take some comfort from Sellafield’s 2012 announcement that plans for a fifth (£600M) Evaporator E had been scrapped. But they should now cast a wary eye to NuGen’s new-build project just across the road from Sellafield where the prospect of further pilfering from the public purse is simmering on the back-burner. Largely under-reported by the media, Moorside’s developer NuGen told the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee in early November that it had been calculating how elements of its proposed triple AP1000 reactor site might be carved up to allow the non-nuclear elements of the project to be paid for by the UK Government. For despite casting its net far and wide in an attempt to drum up the additional finance to meet the clearly under-estimated £15Bn cost of building Moorside, the consortium of Japan’s Toshiba and France’s Engie is clearly struggling to attract support – a struggle intensified by the not unexpected news today that Engie itself has declared that it plans to pull out of the Moorside and other new-build developments because ‘it no longer has the resources to finance such expensive projects’ and wants to concentrate on renewables instead.
CORE 8th Dec 2016 read more »
Cumbrian nuclear safety group Radiation Free Lakeland have received a letter of thanks from Austria’s Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management. The letter states: “In the name of the Federal Chancellor we want to thank you for your commitment regarding the nuclear power plant in Moorside. Europe needs citizens who advocate the exit from nuclear energy to ensure the sustainability of energy supply and critically engage themselves in social, economic and political issues. As you might know, Austria has already expressed its opposition to the use of nuclear energy within a referendum in1978 and is also going to adhere to a policy in favour of a global shift away from this form of energy generation in the future. For the Austrian Federal Government it is clear that alternative forms of energy are worth of promotion.” The letter of thanks to the Cumbrian group is in response to the report commissioned by Radiation Free Lakeland and written by the by Edinburgh Energy and Environment Consultancy. The report, which describes the Moorside reactor design as “dangerous and not fit for purpose” was made possible through crowd funding. Radiation Free Lakeland have raised almost £4000 specifically to produce a body of independent evidence regarding the Moorside plan. The report concludes that: “The AP1000 advanced passive nuclear reactor design has a weaker containment, and fewer back-up safety systems than current reactor designs. Its so-called advanced passive design make the reactor particularly vulnerable to a very large release of radioactivity following an accident if there were just a small failure in the steel containment vessel, due to the chimney effect. …. the containment is dangerously close to exceeding the maximum post accident pressure that it could withstand. Several ways in which the AP1000 design could lose the ability to cool the reactors in an emergency have been identified, and Fukushima has shown that a containment breach is possible, and that arrangements for keeping the spent fuel ponds cool are inadequate.
Radiation Free Lakeland 8th Dec 2016 read more »
A routine battery charge was the likely cause of a hydrogen leak at Heysham 2 power station. Operators EDFsaid an alert was sparked on Tuesday teatime after hydrogen was detected on site. But following the incident, a spokesman for EDF Energy said: “Early indications show that the probable cause of the increased hydrogen in the area was linked to a routine battery recharge which was taking place in the battery room in the site’s turbine hall.
The Visitor 7th Dec 2016 read more »
The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) welcomes Stephen Agnew MLA submitting an Assembly question in to the Northern Ireland Government seeking its views on a recent Irish Government commissioned report which suggested a potential huge economic impact to the island of Ireland in the event of a nuclear accident at a British or French nuclear facility. The report by ESRI was originally pushed for by the NFLA’s representative to the Environment Protection Agency’s Radiation Issues Committee, Dr Paul Dorfman.
NFLA 8th Dec 2016 read more »
Mass evacuations or a requirement for people to stay indoors for prolonged periods of time would not arise in the event of an accident at the Sellafield nuclear plant, a study has found. But the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warned that the public could receive twice the average annual dose of radiation, and that strict food controls would be needed to avoid a spike in cancer rates over subsequent years. While emergency controls would be effective in reducing exposure and health risks, there would be “significant socio-economic implications and costs”, it added. This would include the loss of tourism and markets for seafood and farm produce because of consumer concerns, and the effects could last for “months and years”.
Irish Independent 9th Dec 2016 read more »
BBC 8th Dec 2016 read more »
Belfast Telegraph 8th Dec 2016 read more »
Irish Farmers Journal 8th Dec 2016 read more »
Sixth annual report explaining the background to the Geological Disposal Programme and covering progress between April 2015 and March 2016. In its November 2010 response to the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee’s report Radioactive Waste Management: a Further Update (March 2010), the Government committed to producing an annual report to Parliament, setting out the Government’s progress in relation to the management of higher activity radioactive waste. This is the sixth annual report. It covers the background to the Geological Disposal Programme, and sets out progress between April 2015 – March 2016, in particular, progress with delivery of the initial actions set out in the Implementing Geological Disposal White Paper (2014) and Radioactive Waste Management’s preparations for siting.
BEIS 8th Dec 2016 read more »
Outpacing Cyber Threats: Priorities for Cybersecurity at Nuclear Facilities takes a fresh look at cybersecurity at nuclear facilities and offers a set of ambitious, forward-leaning priorities and recommendations. The appendix to the main report reveals for the first time a list of known nuclear cyber incidents, including cases at Sellafield and Bradwell.
NTI 7th Dec 2016 read more »
Energy Policy – Scotland
Scottish Energy Strategy needs more hydro power, more district heating – and more storage heaters! (says SSE).
Scottish Energy News 8th Dec 2016 read more »
The decommissioning of eight Soviet-designed nuclear reactors in Lithuania, Bulgaria and Slovakia was a condition for the countries’ EU accession. We found that the EU funding programmes set up to assist with meeting this requirement have not created the right incentives for timely and cost-effective decommissioning. While some progress has been made, key infrastructure projects have experienced delays, and the critical challenges involved in working in the controlled areas still lie ahead. By 2020, EU support should have reached 3.8 billion euro. The estimated total cost of decommissioning will be at least 5.7 billion euro. If the cost of final disposal of high-level waste is included, this total could double.
European Court of Auditors 20th Sept 2016 read more »
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. decided to close its Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant because its baseload power—often cited as nuclear’s best asset—doesn’t fit into the dynamic grid California is developing, a PG&E executive said today at the U.S. Energy Storage Summit in San Francisco. Steve Malnight, PG&E’s senior vice president for regulatory affairs, was speaking specifically of market conditions in California, but many consider California a trailblazer for the nation on energy and climate issues, so his comments will resonate in the ongoing debate over nuclear’s role in a clean-energy future. “Considering a shutdown was a difficult decision for us,” Malnight said, “but as we really looked at the changing dynamics in California, given the choices we’ve made in California, and the policy direction in California, there was a clear recognition that Diablo was not going to be a good fit for the future needs of the system.”
Forbes 7th Dec 2016 read more »
With Trump at the helm, sentiment gives way to practicality in the energy industry. For the vast untapped potential of the nuclear energy industry and the uranium that feeds it, this could contribute to a market-disrupting revival that no longer bows to fear and the politics of economy. While there have been some oversupply issues keeping uranium prices down, the bigger problem has been negative sentiment rather than real fundamentals, but the Trump presidency will see through that. Trump’s take on nuclear energy is quite simple. As he noted after the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan: “If a plane goes down, people keep flying. If you get into an auto crash, people keep driving.” Now more than ever, demand for uranium appears to be assured. But more than that, it’s about to truly explode as a number of situations combine to form the new era of nuclear power.
Energy Voice 9th Dec 2016 read more »
Nuclear giant EDF could be heading towards bankruptcy, writes Paul Brown, as it faces a perfect storm of under-estimated costs for decommissioning, waste disposal and Hinkley C. Meanwhile income from power sales is lagging behind costs, and 17 of its reactors are off-line for safety tests. Yet French and UK governments are turning a blind eye to the looming financial crisis. The liabilities of Électricité de France (EDF) – the biggest electricity supplier in Europe, with 39 million customers – are increasing so fast that they will soon exceed its assets, according a report by an independent equity research company, Bankruptcy for EDF seems inevitable – and if such a vast empire in any other line of business seemed to be in such serious financial trouble, there would be near-panic in the workforce and in governments at the subsequent political fall-out.
Ecologist 8th Dec 2016 read more »
French authorities have opened a preliminary investigation into whether documents were falsified at one of the forges of French nuclear group Areva, which makes parts for nuclear plants across France and the UK. Areva said in May that it was reviewing thousands of manufacturing records for nuclear plant components manufactured over several decades at the Le Creusot forge after finding inconsistencies, modifications or omissions in the documents. French nuclear safety regulator ASN said in October that it had asked the courts to step in to investigate. An investigation was opened on Wednesday, according to people close to the Paris prosecutor’s office. Areva said on Thursday that it had not been informed of the investigation, but that it was ready to co-operate. It is the latest step in a wider investigation into quality-control issues and manufacturing problems at Le Creusot after the ASN in 2014 found that part of a reactor vessel installed at a new reactor that EDF is building in Flamanville may be weaker than expected. EDF has been forced to keep some atomic reactors shut down for months this year at the request of the atomic watchdog. These halts have been compounded by shutdowns resulting from potential weakness in steel of some components at 18 of EDF’s 58 nuclear reactors. The watchdog already authorised the restart of six of these 18 reactors, and approved this week the restart of the 12 remaining units that have either been halted or were soon due to be stopped. This is pending a series of final checks and tests.
FT 8th Dec 2016 read more »
The company that designed Britain’s proposed £18 billion nuclear plant is facing a criminal investigation on suspicion of aggravated fraud, forgery and endangering life. Prosecutors in Paris have opened an inquiry into allegations that a factory owned by Areva, the French nuclear group, has been falsifying safety tests for decades. The factory has already made one key component for the reactors planned at Hinkley Point in Somerset but this was scrapped amid safety fears and a replacement was ordered from Japan. The Hinkley Point reactors were designed by Areva and are being built by EDF, the state-owned company. EDF is poised to take over the factory at the centre of the inquiry, which may be asked to make further components for the Somerset reactors, a Paris source claimed. The Hinkley Point project, in which EDF has a two-thirds stake and China General Nuclear Power Group the remaining third, is designed to produce seven per cent of Britain’s electricity.
Times 9th Dec 2016 read more »
[Machine Translation] Nuclear: Justice wants to shed light on the anomalies in the Areva factory of Creusot. An investigation is opened for the endangerment of another person, forgery and use of forgery and aggravated deception after the discovery of manufacturing anomalies. The Paris public prosecutor’s office opened an investigation to shed light on anomalies in the manufacture of parts of nuclear reactors at the Areva du Creusot plant and on irregularities in the monitoring process, according to a judicial source.
Europe1 8th Dec 2016 read more »
The Paris public prosecutor’s office opened an investigation to shed light on anomalies in the manufacture of parts of nuclear reactors at the Areva plant in Creusot (Saône-et-Loire) and irregularities in the monitoring process. “Endangerment of others, forgery and use of forgery and aggravated deceit” The investigation was opened Wednesday at the Public Health Pole of the Public Prosecution for endangering others, forgery and use of forgery and aggravated deceit. It follows in particular a report by the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) on 20 October.
Le Dauphine 8th Dec 2016 read more »
Wholesale power prices for the first three months of 2017 have plunged in response easing fears over reduced nuclear output in France.
Utility Week 8th Dec 2016 read more »
The Olkiluoto-3 European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) nuclear plant under construction in Finland is on schedule to begin commercial operation in 2018 with the country’s regulator preparing a safety assessment that will pave the way for fuel loading.
Nucnet 7th Dec 2016 read more »
Former prime minister Bob Hawke, 87, says Australia ‘should become a dumping ground for the world’s nuclear waste’ – as he is given honorary degree.
Daily Mail 9th Dec 2016 read more »
Renewables – wind
The National Grid has announced that onshore and offshore wind-turbines have set a new record by generating more than 10,000 megawatts of electricity for the first time. The record of 10,104MW was achieved between 2 and 2.30pm on 8 Dec 2016, providing 23% of Britain’s total electricity demand at that time. A spokesman for the trade association Renewable UK commented: “This shows that wind is playing an increasingly central role as a reliable part of our new modern energy system. “As we install more wind power, more records will tumble. This is a Christmas clean energy bonus – not just for the renewable energy sector, but for all of us”. Juliet Davenport, Chief Executive of 100%-renewable Good Energy – which owns the UK’s first commercial wind farm in Cornwall – said.
Scottish Energy News 8th Dec 2016 read more »
Renewables – Bioenergy
There is strong public support for producing bioenergy in the UK from both biomass and waste, with 80% of respondents in favour of bioenergy playing a bigger part in the UK energy mix. Levels of support for bioenergy compare favourably with levels of support seen for other renewable energy technologies.
ETI 8th Dec 2016 read more »
Oxford County, Ontario, has just opened a wind farm as part of a project to go 100% renewables for electricity and heat. Craig Morris visited the project, which could become a role model for the entire country.
One Step Off the Grid 9th Dec 2016 read more »
Political leaders in the Western Isles have accused the UK government of a “betrayal” over plans to curb subsidies for new wind farms. Two major schemes, which already have planning consent, are expected to result in a £1bn investment in Lewis. But last month the developments were frozen out of the latest round of subsidies for renewable energy. The UK government said it was committed to renewable energy with £13bn invested in UK projects last year. The Conservatives made a manifesto commitment in the 2015 general election to end subsidies for onshore wind. Ministers last month announced a consultation on creating a separate criteria for island onshore wind. Energy firms argue that without the subsidies, it would be too expensive to lay a sub-sea cable to bring the electricity from the islands to consumers on the mainland. Angus Campbell, leader of Western Isles Council, told BBC Scotland: “In the past we couldn’t get connected because we weren’t regarded as onshore wind. We argued for a separate case for the islands. “We are now being told we might be treated as onshore wind and because [subsidies for] that have stopped, we would be the first to suffer,” he said. “Morally, I do believe that’s wrong.”
BBC 9th Dec 2016 read more »
‘Green gas’ plants that use grass proposed for fracking sites by leading renewable energy company. ‘We want to show that there‘s an alternative to fracking – and start a local debate in the areas directly affected by it,’ says green energy company’s founder Dale Vince. Renewable energy firm Ecotricity has submitted planning applications to build ‘green gas mills’ on two proposed sites of fracking wells in Lancashire. The mills would turn locally grown grass into biogas, a process that is almost carbon neutral as most of the greenhouse emissions produced when the gas is burned are absorbed by the next crop of grass.
Independent 8th Dec 2016 read more »
National Grid has sold a majority stake in its gas pipe network to a consortium led by Australian investment bank Macquarie and which includes backing from Qatari and Chinese state investors.
Scottish Energy News 8th Dec 2016 read more »
Independent 9th Dec 2016 read more »
Telegraph 8th Dec 2016 read more »
A highly polluting method of extracting gas has been effectively killed off in the UK after the government said it would not support the technology. Underground coal gasification, which involves injecting oxygen and steam underground to release gas from coal seams, would massively increase UK carbon emissions if exploited, according to a government-commissioned report. The review by consultants Atkins said if power stations used gas from the method, it would be 40-100% dirtier in terms of CO2 emissions than burning gas from the North Sea and imports. Exploiting all the UK’s coal reserves would release the equivalent of 24 years of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said the government was “minded to not support” the technique. Underground coal gasification has proved controversial elsewhere in the world, particularly over its environmental impact in Australia, and Scotland banned it in October.
Guardian 8th Dec 2016 read more »
Telegraph 8th Dec 2016 read more »
Times 8th Dec 2016 read more »