George Osborne has rejected accusations from a former head of the civil service that his plans for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset would create a “big white elephant” and a “bottomless pit”. At a grilling of the Chancellor by the House of Lords’ Economic Affairs Committee, Lord Turnbull – who was Cabinet Secretary between 2002 and 2005 – pointed out that since the coalition government struck a deal in 2013 with EDF and Chinese investors to build the UK’s first new nuclear plant in two decades, the price of oil had collapsed and the French energy company had run into serious technical problems with its reactor design. “Shouldn’t we really go back to the drawing board, rather than plumping for what I think will be a kind of bottomless pit and a big white elephant?” Lord Turnbull, who was also Permanent Secretary to the Treasury between 1998 and 2002, suggested that the Government ought to use gas as an interim source of energy while the problems of nuclear were addressed.
Independent 9th Sept 2015 read more »
George Osborne says Britain remains on track to build its first nuclear power plant in more than 20 years, claiming that the country will be left with a ‘very big hole’ in its electricity needs without the site. The Chancellor said he would visit China this month, where he is expected to press for a deal between EDF, the French developer of Hinkley Point, and potential investment partners in the country. He said the Government was fully behind a deal, and described it as a “tragedy” that Britain had stopped building nuclear power stations. “I’m pretty confident that we’re going to be able to do a deal, but we’re still in negotiations,” he told the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee. Mr Osborne said nuclear power stations, including Wylfa in north Wales, would form part of the Government’s energy strategy to “make sure the lights stay on”. Lord Turnbull said the deal, which guarantees EDF a price of £92.50 per megawatt hour, was “incredibly expensive” and a “huge commitment” for the Government. He also highlighted similar concerns over EDF’s nuclear project in Normandy, which faces a five-year setback and escalating costs. The crossbench peer suggested that the Government should get back to the “drawing board” rather than “plumping for a bottomless pit and big white elephant”.
Daily Telegraph 9th Sept 2015 read more »
Unions in Britain are urging the government to speed up the process for financing decisions required to green-light the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant construction project in Somerset in southwest England, but the build under discussions has taken a decidedly international flavor, as Chinese investors look to play an increasingly meaningful part in Britain’s energy future. The drama over the weekend began with Jean-Bernard Levy, chief executive officer of French utility giant saying in a Friday news conference that the timetable for Hinkley Point C project would be delayed due to financial considerations. The news was billed as a slip. Levy was discussing the announced delay at the Flammanville nuclear plant construction project, when he unexpectedly said financing decisions had delayed progress at Hinkley Point C. Construction was still slated to take the same amount of time, he said, which meant Hinkley Point would not be up and running in 2023, which is already a setback from the original completion estimate of 2017. A financial decision and a revised timetable would come in October, reports indicate. But a critical factor is said to be the London visit in October by Chinese Premier Xi Jin Ping. On Sunday, British newspaper The Express said that Prime Minister David Cameron was “adamant” to get Hinkley Point C off the ground and was willing to sign a large minority portion of the project to Chinese companies in exchange for Chinese firms taking a majority stake in at least one future nuclear project expected in Britain — a build expected in Bradwell, northeast of London.
Nuclear Street 7th Sept 2015 read more »
GMB call on MPs to force Government to halt plans for Chinese nuclear reactor in Essex linked to funding Hinkley and Sizewell.
Politics Home 7th Sept 2015 read more »
Speculation has been growing that David Cameron could sign an agreement with the Chinese president during a state visit to the UK in October. The move would be part of a wider package tackling the future of nuclear energy across the country. It is thought the Bradwell site, next to the former nuclear power station, could be given over to a Chinese firm to build and run a new nuclear plant in return for China’s investment in new nuclear builds at Hinkley Point and Sizewell C. EDF, which owns each of the sites, has a long-standing partnership with the China National Nuclear Corporation and the China General Nuclear Power Group and has said it is looking to work with them in the UK. Any new design would have to meet strict criteria set by UK regulators. The Bradwell Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG) has already written to the two Chinese firms outlining their opposition to any plans for a new development at Bradwell. BANNG say that as well as the potential health risks, Bradwell is not a sustainable site due to an increasing flood risk and the lack of sufficient cooling water from the shallow and slow to refresh Blackwater estuary.
East Anglian Daily Times 9th Sept 2015 read more »
Three peers have launched a bid to block the government’s proposal to end Renewables Obligation (RO) support for onshore wind farms. Lib Dem peers Lord Wallace of Tankerness and Baroness Maddock and Labour’s Lord Whitty last week jointly announced their intention to oppose Clause 60 of the planned legislation, which would see the key subsidy for new onshore wind farms cut from April next year. In addition, Lord Whitty and fellow Labour peer Lord Grantchester have submitted an amendment to include a clause forcing the government to formally publish an assessment on the UK’s decarbonisation programme.
Business Green 7th Sept 2015 read more »
The original licenses issued by the NRC for nuclear power reactors permit operation for up to 40 years. Owners can, and many have, applied to the NRC for license renewals that permit operation for up to 20 more years. While calendars are involved, the owners and the NRC use other means to determine nuclear plant lifetimes. Sawing it in half and counting the rings may determine the age of a tall woody plant (i.e., tree), but it doesn’t work for nuclear plants tall or small. And even if it did, the process ends the lifetime and provides insights only about the past. Like doctors treating patients, owners and the NRC don’t saw nuclear plants in half. Instead, they employ an array of techniques to first predict nuclear plant lifetimes and then monitor reactor lifes
Union of Concerned scientists 8th Sept 2015 read more »
The Energy Act 2004 requires NDA to review, update and consult on our Strategy every 5 years. The timing of the formal consultation will ensure that our final draft Strategy is informed by the outcome of the government’s spending review. This document gives stakeholders the opportunity to provide their input whilst we complete our review. As well as any general observations we would like this engagement opportunity to focus on: “Are we asking the right questions?”
NDA 8th Sept 2015 read more »
Brussels has approved General Electric’s $14bn acquisition of Alstom’s energy business, but on condition that the merged group divest some of its turbine operations to Ansaldo Energia, an Italian engineering company. The deal has also been approved by US regulators, with the Department of Justice on Tuesday morning filing a proposed ruling that would allow it to proceed. The decisions in the two jurisdictions mean the acquisition is on course to be completed in the next few weeks, pending approvals from a few smaller markets and remaining legal formalities. The green light from EU competition officials on Tuesday ends months of difficult negotiations with GE. At times, it had appeared that Brussels would block the merger over fears that the purchase of the Alstom energy operations would make GE too dominant in the market for the heavy-duty turbines that generate electricity at power stations.
FT 8th Sept 2015 read more »
The US nuclear sector is leading in cyber security due to its collaborative skills. That’s according to Tony Berning, Senior Manager at software company OPSWAT, who said it makes the industry “healthy”.
Energy Live News 9th Sept 2015 read more »
Letter Greg Butler et al: We read with interest Professor Gerry Thomas’s Health risks from nuclear accidents – fact or fiction? in Ingenia 63. The Opinion makes a good case for a re-evaluation of what the risks from nuclear energy actually mean for existing and future operations. These thoughts are offered about the consequences of the UK’s current approach. In common with all industrial activities, the nuclear industry seeks to keep risks to the public well below 1 in 10,000 per annum for the public, and drives towards the broadly acceptable level of 1 in a million. Using the accepted calculations, this equates to a dose of 16.7 microsieverts per annum, but this has been ‘rounded down’ to 10 microsieverts. Despite, as Professor Thomas says, it being hard to show a categorical link between radiation and health below 100 millisieverts – UK policy and regulation measures seek to keep doses some 10,000 times lower.
Ingenia September 2015 read more »
Letter: In the June issue of Ingenia, Professor Fells makes a good case for an early start to produce small modular reactors (SMRs) in the UK – as did the original editorial Small but powerful in Ingenia 62. I, too, am keen that we make sensible use of nuclear energy. It gives me all the more concern, therefore, to note worrying technical problems such as the shutting down of two Belgian pressurised water reactors in March 2014 because of thousands of cracks in their pressure vessels. This dismal news was followed by the discovery of defects in the reactor pressure vessel of EDF Energy’s first European Pressurised Reactor in Flamanville 3, Northern France. These issues seriously handicap nuclear technology. In addition, of course, they do not help its public image.
Ingenia September 2015 read more »
Japan – Fukushima
A few signs of life are returning to this rural town made desolate by the Fukushima nuclear disaster four-and-a-half years ago: Carpenters bang on houses, an occasional delivery truck drives by and a noodle shop has opened to serve employees who have returned to Naraha’s small town hall. But weeds cover the now rusty train tracks, there are no sounds of children and wild boars still roam around at night. On the outskirts of town, thousands of black industrial storage bags containing radiation-contaminated soil and debris stretch out across barren fields. This past weekend, Naraha became the first of seven towns that had been entirely evacuated to reopen since the March 11, 2011, disaster, when a tsunami slammed into the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, causing meltdowns and a massive radiation leak. The town’s viability is far from certain, and its fate will be watched closely by authorities and neighboring towns to see if recovery is indeed possible on this once-abandoned land.
Japan Today 9th Sept 2015 read more »
South Australia, a rust belt state that’s 60 percent desert, is staring into the abyss. It is grappling with the highest unemployment in the country and a steady outflow of people to other states. And in 2017, General Motors Co. will close its Holden factory, ending more than 50 years of automaking in the Adelaide suburb of Elizabeth, where 1 in 3 are already without work. Options for state Premier Jay Weatherill to stem the decline are dwindling and he’s looking at all of them, even the possibility of using the state as a dump for the world’s nuclear waste.
Japan Times 7th Sept 2015 read more »
French think tank négaWatt published a study back in 2011 investigating how the country could switch almost completely to renewable energy. Now, the analysis and an overview of charts has been made available in English. Craig Morris investigates.
Renew Economy 9th Sept 2015 read more »
France’s environment minister cast doubt Tuesday on the planned 2017 closure of the country’s oldest nuclear power plant, drawing anger from environmental groups and concerns from neighbouring Germany. On a visit to the northeastern city of Strasbourg, Segolene Royal linked the closure of the 37-year-old Fessenheim plant nearby to the opening of a brand new, next-generation nuclear reactor in Flamanville in the northwest, planned for the end of 2018 after four delays.
The Local 9th Sept 2015 read more »
Greenpeace built a replica of the Tsar Bomba that we call Fenno Bomba (Fennovoima is the name of the new nuclear plant that Rosatom is building in Finland). Then a team of our activists dressed up and took our Fenno Bomba in the very door step of a gala dinner organised by Fennovoima. There they gave leaflets and presented the Fenno Bomba to the guests (including the Finnish prime minister). The gala was attended also by a “representative” of Russia’s Rosatom. After the prime minister made his speech, the Russian wanted to say a few words. The rest is already a legend. We wanted to highlight the absurdity of the fact that Finland is building a new nuclear plant with a Russian nuclear company Rosatom that displays a gigantic bomb as a proof of its nuclear know-how. Our action shows the farce of the Fennovoima nuclear project, but sadly the truth is even more unbelievable. The project is highly controversial, and has run into many problems before reaching the stage where it’s still waiting for the building permit. Core issues include weak ownership, lack of financing and zero credibility, both in Fennovoima and its main business partner Rosatom.
Greenpeace 8th Sept 2015 read more »
Stepped-up activity at North Korea’s main nuclear complex could point to fresh plutonium production for nuclear weapons, a US thinktank has said. Fresh satellite images of the Yongbyon facility showed high-level activity at two sites, including the five-megawatt reactor seen as North Korea’s main source of weapons-grade plutonium, according to analysts at the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University. While stressing the difficulty in determining a precise reason for the movement, the analysts suggested a number of scenarios, including renovation work or the replacement of contaminated equipment.
Guardian 9th Sept 2015 read more »
Doughnut-shaped and cored like an apple, could a pint-sized nuclear reactor recreate the sun on Earth? A start-up in southeast England is betting on it. Tokamak Energy (TE), a privately funded venture 55 miles west of London, says it is pursuing “a faster way to fusion”. The 16-strong team aims to convert the energy that fuels stars into electricity within ten years. That would be a colossal feat of physics and engineering, and something that has eluded scientists since the 1950s.
RTCC 8th Sept 2015 read more »
Two anti-nuclear campaigners who chained themselves to a car outside a naval base during a protest have been acquitted of aggravated trespass. Nicola Clark, 40, and Theo Simon, 57 denied the charge after the protest at Devonport Naval Base, Plymouth in July 2014. The pair from Somerset told Plymouth Magistrates Court they did not dispute chaining themselves to the car. Judge Kevin Grey ruled it was not possible to trespass on a highway.
BBC 8th Sept 2015 read more »
Plymouth Herald 8th Sept 2015 read more »
ITV 8th Sept 2015 read more »
Radiation Free Lakeland have just heard the news that the Trident Two have been acquitted today at Plymouth Magistrates Court. Cumbrians have sent messages of Support for the Trident Two’s peaceful protest in the form of a blockade at the Plymouth Devonport Dock. We have heard that the Judge awarded the Trident Two, Nikki Clarke and Theo Simon, costs and pointed out that the prosecution’s case had “a fatal flaw” So they were acquitted on a technicality but the media and the public heard all the arguments against Trident.
Radiation Free Lakeland 8th Sept 2015 read more »
Renewables – public opinion
More than three quarters of UK households would support renewable energy projects such as wind turbines and solar farms if the profits generated benefitted the local community, a poll has found. Co-operative Energy polled 2000 UK adults in order to reveal public attitudes on community projects in the wake of the Government’s decision to consult on subsidy withdrawals for community energy generation investment. Co-operative Energy general manager Ramsay Dunning said: “The overwhelming picture from our poll is that the British public support renewable, and most importantly, community energy generation. Therefore the Government’s decision to withdraw its support from the renewable sector is extremely disappointing and at odds with popular opinion.
Edie 8th Sept 2015 read more »
Renewables – solar
Solar generation costs are likely to fall below the average wholesale price of electricity across Europe by 2030, according to a new study, highlighting the potential of a solar revolution across the globe – not just in the household and commercial market, but also for utility-scale installations. The study by the EU-sponsored European Photovoltaic Technology Platform, released this week, suggests that solar PV costs will fall by half over the next 15 years – after an 80 per cent fall over the last five years – even without any new technology breakthroughs. This means that by 2030, the generation costs of solar PV – including grid integration costs of 2c/kWh– will be lower than the wholesale price of electricity in most of Europe. In southern European states, it already is cheaper, and by 2030 the cost of solar PV could be as low as €20-€25/MWh, depending on the cost of capital. Even in London, the cost of large-scale solar PV will be around €50/MWh – equal to the current wholesale price and way below the cost of nuclear, the current Tory government’s clean technology of choice.
Clean Technica 7th Sept 2015 read more »
Renewables – wind
The UK’s and Ireland’s wind energy markets received a boost this week after three companies announced major financial deals to further their wind portfolios. Peel Energy and Belltown Power yesterday announced they had reached financial close on their proposed Frodsham Wind Farm project, after partnering with KfW IPEX-Bank.
Business Green 8th Sept 2015 read more »
Renewables – biofuel
A Scottish company that is developing a biofuel made from Scotch whisky by-products has been awarded an £11m grant by the UK Department for Transport. Edinburgh-based Celtic Renewables is one of three advanced biofuel producers to share in a £25m funding pot. The firm said the biofuel, called biobutanol, could provide an alternative to car and aviation fuel. The grant will go towards building a biofuel facility that will be operational by December 2018. Celtic Renewables is a spin-out company from the Biofuel Research Centre (BfRC) at Edinburgh Napier University.
BBC 7th Sept 2015 read more »