Letter Stop Hinkley: Is the vulnerable coastline of North Somerset a sensible place to build two of the world’s largest nuclear reactors? Anybody who has walked along the footpath on the sea wall in front of the existing nuclear sites in Somerset can see the effects of the recent stormy weather. There is clearly overtopping of the present sea wall with driftwood, seaweed and beach stones. No wonder an extra few metre high gabion wall was added to protect the aging A and B stations. Walking further along the seashore one sees fragile, vulnerable cliffs suffering from storm damage and coastal erosion. Is this a sensible site for the new build Hinkley C nuclear power station? Hinkley on the Severn Estuary is situated on the second highest tidal range in the world. With the latest climate change predictions of rising sea levels and increasing extreme weather patterns, which were experienced last winter around the South West Peninsula, it begs the question, is the vulnerable coastline of North Somerset a sensible place to build two of the world’s largest nuclear reactors? Running these reactors will create a permanent, high level radioactive, on-site waste store. This waste has to be kept safe and out of the human environment for the life span equivalent of 80 Stonehenge. Do people also realise, that this high-level nuclear waste store is less than 50 metres from the sea and will need to be protected from sea encroachment for thousands of years? In 1607 a tsunami/storm surge swept up the Severn Estuary flooding a vast area of Somerset, killing thousands of people locally. If a nuclear waste store had been present at Hinkley it would have exposed people to radioactivity, spreading contamination over a wide area, which would have made large areas bordering the estuary, uninhabitable today. Having looked at the flood risk assessment documents for the DCO (development consent order) for Hinkley C it becomes clear why the engineering costs to build these two vulnerable reactors are so enormous. The site and its road access routes are dissected by flood zones, according to the Environment Agency maps which illustrate the flood risk areas. Aerial photographs as recent as the floods of 1981 at Hinkley show the original A and B stations virtually isolated as an island and flood water cutting through the access to the proposed Hinkley C site. We are all too aware in Somerset how flood water in itself can cause havoc, but thinking about the nuclear waste being washed by that flood water emphasises the vulnerability of a long-term nuclear waste store in the county. Have we not learned about the destructive powerful forces of the sea? Much better to put those forces to use as renewable tidal energy!
Western Morning News 7th Jan 2015 read more »
THE chief executive of EDF Energy has said that construction of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant should begin early next year, despite financial pressures. The French energy firm’s chief executive Vincent de Rivaz made the comments during his speech at a recent Nuclear Industries Association conference. He said more legal and other work is needed to be completed before EDF could give the long-awaited final investment decision on Hinkley Point, but he was confident that a decision would be made in the first quarter of 2015 – March at the latest. He added discussions with potential new and existing foreign shareholders to the project were continuing. Doubts have been raised that French firm Areva, which is designing the Hinkley C reactor, will be able to find the funds to take its 10% stake in the project. Two Chinese groups have already agreed to take between 30 and 40% and EDF will have a stake of between 45 and 50%. Mr de Rivaz admitted that delays at its Flamanville plant in France were a setback, but insisted they would not impact financially on the British project, which is using the same European pressurised reactor (EPR) technology
Burnham & Highbridge Weekly News 8th Jan 2015 read more »
A counter terrorism emergency exercise is taking place at Hunterston B Power Station this month. It is part of their extensive training in emergency response arrangements throughout the year. Training and exercises in the recent times include radiological breaches, fires, search and rescue, seismic activity, and other procedures. The parent company EDF Energy are planning to expand their fire team training to include rescue from height training rigs. Later in January, EDF will be demonstrating their capability to deal with a significant plant fault to a team of internal assessors, and in March, they will be holding their annual demonstration to the nuclear regulators.
Largs & Millport News 7th Jan 2015 read more »
The shipment, containing three barrels of cemented waste from the reprocessing of the used fuel at Dounreay, arrived at Belgoprocess’ site in Dessel, Belgium, on 26 December, the country’s Federal Agency for Nuclear Control said. This was the 21st and final shipment under a contract signed between the UK Atomic Energy Agency (UKAEA) and the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre (SCK-CEN) in the 1990s, Dounreay Site Restoration Limited (DSRL) noted. Under the contract, between 1993 and 1994 some 240 used fuel elements were sent from Belgium’s BR2 research reactor to the UK’s Dounreay site in Scotland for reprocessing. The fuel has since been dissolved and the re-usable uranium separated from the waste “fission products” and turned into new fuel. The higher activity liquid waste was conditioned and solidified in cement within 500-litre stainless steel drums.
World Nuclear News 7th Jan 2015 read more »
The first woman to become a power station director has been awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours list. Gwen Parry-Jones, former station director at Heysham 1 power station, is recognised for her role within the energy industry and also her work promoting science and technology careers. Gwen took over Heysham 1 power station in 2008.
Lancaster Guardian 7th Jan 2015 read more »
New Reactor Types
The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Argonne National Laboratory will work with three of the world’s leading nuclear products and services companies on projects that could unlock the potential of advanced nuclear reactor designs. The Lemont, Illinois-based laboratory said this cooperation will help create a new generation of safer, more efficient reactors. The three projects partner Argonne with Areva Federal Services, based in Aiken, South Carolina, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, based in Wilmington, North Carolina, and Westinghouse Electric Company, based in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania, to address significant technical challenges to the design, construction and operation of next-generation reactors.
World Nuclear News 8th an 2015 read more »
Nuclear materials balance figures (also known as ‘Material unaccounted for’, and described in the industry as inventory differences) for the processing of civil nuclear material were published annually from 1977 onwards by UKAEA on behalf of the UK nuclear industry. Changes in the structure of the industry which followed from setting-up the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) meant that figures for 2004/5 and 2005/6 were released, on behalf of the industry, by the then DTI. The transfer in April 2007 of operational aspects of the work of the UK Safeguards Office (UKSO) from DTI to the HSE/ONR means that the figures for 2006/7 onwards have been released, as a matter of routine, on the ONR website.
ONR (accessed) 8th Jan 2015 read more »
Radiation Free Lakeland have sent the following response to the Welsh Consultation on Radioactive Waste Management. Wales wants to change its previously neutral stance on Geological Disposal because it wants to build new reactors in Anglesey. Geological Disposal is not safe anywhere. New build is not safe anywhere. The Consultation ends on January 22nd.
Radiation Free Lakeland 8th Jan 2015 read more »
World Nuclear Outlook
Investments totalling some $1.2 trillion could be made in new nuclear power projects around the world, according to the latest forecast by the World Nuclear Association (WNA). More than half of this total will be made in Asia. The WNA’s latest survey – entitled The World Nuclear Supply Chain: Outlook 2030 – examines the opportunities and challenges over the next 15 years. The report’s reference scenario envisages the start-up of 266 new reactors by 2030, with an investment of some $1.2 trillion. Taking into account nuclear power plant construction and refurbishment projects for long-term operation the international market for suppliers could be worth $30 billion per year. The report will be launched on 15 January at the World Nuclear Spotlight event to be held in Beijing.
World Nuclear News 8th Jan 2015 read more »
Early implementation of planned reforms to fix the EU carbon market is much more important than the details of those reforms, according to a report produced for the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). Rapid reforms are needed to tackle the “myopia of firms” who risk getting locked in to a high-carbon path, says the report published by DECC yesterday. Early reform is the single biggest factor in correcting the problems faced by the carbon market, it adds. The EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) is central to EU efforts to tackle climate change. But it has been suffering from chronically low prices that are insufficient to drive needed low-carbon investments, potentially leaving firms facing higher costs later on if they are forced to retire high-carbon technology early.
Carbon Brief 7th Jan 2015 read more »
A 7-page internal memo circulated among EC energy officials in November contains a long-list of 40 “key actions” that could or would contribute to “energy union” (whatever that means). Though I will not post the full leaked document here, I’ve made a summary list below to share what is and isn’t part of the EC’s thinking. I make no comment on the obvious duplications and overlaps. All the usual caveats regarding leaked drafts apply. Nudges in emphasis are my own. A final “energy union” paper is expected next month.
Mark Johnstone 8th Jan 2015 read more »
Finnish nuclear power consortium Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) on Thursday said it is looking to cut up to 110 jobs, or 13 percent of its staff, due to lower power prices and soaring costs from its delayed Olkiluoto 3 reactor project. The start of the reactor, planned to be Finland’s fifth and biggest nuclear unit, has been delayed until late 2018, almost a decade later than originally planned.
Reuters 8th Jan 2015 read more »
We pause today to remember those slain at the French satirical news magazine Charlie Hebdo. Several of the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo were close allies of the French anti-nuclear movement, even providing cartoons to the French anti-nuclear network, “Sortir du nucléaire.”
Beyond Nuclear 8th Jan 2015 read more »
Many people just don’t understand the changes that are underway in the generation and distribution of electricity; changes that make the concept of baseload power–whether from nuclear or fossil fuels–obsolete and indeed cause it to interfere with the clean energy sources of the present and future. Although we’ve written a lot about these changes last year, we’ll continue to do so in the coming year: it’s clearly something that is not yet well understood, perhaps the same way that cell phones–and the enormous changes they would bring to our lives and culture–were not well understood at the beginning either (perhaps for good reason, the idea that people carrying around shoebox-sized phones to make staticky phone calls would lead, within a generation, to more computer power in our pockets than high-end PCs of just a few years ago, could be seen as laughable if one didn’t know what was coming).
Green World 8th Jan 2015 read more »
In 2010, Germany set out a range of ambitious policies to cut emissions and decarbonise its energy sector. Four years on, new figures show the programme, known as the Energiewende or ‘energy transition’, is making slow but steady progress. It has not been easy. Earlier this year, there was speculation that Germany might abandon its emissions reduction target as it struggled to cut coal use. It didn’t. Instead, the government unveiled a new, refreshed climate action plan laying out some changes to the programme. Thinktank Agora Energiewende has compiled new figures showing that while Germany’s direction of travel is clear, reforms are vital if the country is going to hit its climate goals.
Climate Progress 7th Jan 2015 read more »
Like Denmark and Germany, Scotland now gets more than a quarter of its electricity from clean power.
Take Part 5th Jan 2015 read more »
Lighting innovations have traditionally been the preserve of technology companies. But now construction and insulation heavyweight Kingspan says it has developed a “zero energy” lighting solution it claims will typically pay for itself in about three years. The system combines energy-efficient LED lights and smart controls with solar PV systems and custom designs to make the best use of natural light in order to cut energy use dramatically while driving financial savings for the business. When Kingspan installed the system at a 32,000 square metre warehouse in Yorkshire, it reduced the cost of the building’s lighting by a staggering 91 per cent and the company estimates that even without the PV panels the average business lighting electricity cost would fall from £25,583 to £3,837. According to Kingspan, the potential annual saving for the UK business community as a whole is in the region of £3.7bn.
Business Green 8th Jan 2015 read more »
A Scottish campaign calling for the government to tackle fuel poverty is being backed by nurses as a way to reduce ill-health. Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland has joined environmental charity WWF Scotland and the Existing Homes Alliance to request that the Government increases investment in energy efficiency. It is hoped that this will decrease the number of patients treated for conditions associated with living in cold and damp houses such as, asthma and other respiratory infections.
Nursing in Practice 7th Jan 2015 read more »
More than a million households cannot afford to heat their homes sufficiently even though a member is in work, a thinktank has found. A study by Policy Exchange looking at the 2.3m households in England in fuel poverty found that half of them, around 1.1m households, had someone in work. Fuel poverty has been made worse by rising energy bills and, despite improvements, the housing stock is still highly inefficient, it said. Households in the least energy-efficient properties would have to spend an extra £1,700 a year to heat their homes to a comfortable level.
Guardian 9th Jan 2015 read more »
The huge scale of the unburnable carbon reserves held by the global energy industry has again been underlined with the publication today of a major new study that concludes 80 per cent of coal reserves and a third of oil reserves should stay in the ground. The study from the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources published in the journal Nature assesses the scale of fossil fuel reserves that can be exploited if the world is to have a 50 per cent chance of limiting average global temperature increases to 2C. Authors Christophe McGlade and Paul Ekins detail how coal reserves are likely to be particularly constrained, with 80 per cent of reserves deemed unusable through to 2050. Similarly, the study suggests a third of oil reserves and half of gas reserves will have to go unexploited if the world is to stand a reasonable chance of avoiding severe climate change impacts. Significantly, the study considers the potential for carbon capture and storage technologies to enable greater exploitation of fossil fuel reserves but concludes that it is likely to only have a modest impact.
Business Green 8th Jan 2015 read more »
Scotsman 8th Jan 2015 read more »
Carbon Brief 7th Jan 2015 read more »
An in-depth focus into the investment undertaken in networks, the challenges and opportunities on offer and a vision for what future integrated networks might look like.
DECC 8th Jan 2015 read more »