Britain is supposed to be on the cusp of a nuclear renaissance. A country whose last new nuclear plant was hooked up to the grid in 1995 now aims to have five new stations operating by 2025. With two reactors apiece, the new plants would together generate 16 gigawatts (GW). Or at least, that was the plan. But with nuclear developers pulling out, policy proposals deemed unworkable and costs spiralling, the chances of it actually happening on time – and affordably – seem, at best, slim. The cornerstone policy to encourage new nuclear is to offer low-carbon generators long-term contracts guaranteeing the price for electricity they will produce, so ensuring them sufficient returns to invest. But the industry, including EDF, is unhappy at the proposed contract design and a committee of MPs has deemed it unworkable. Ministers are scrambling to redraw the contract in time for EDF to invest, but have previously warned that the model the industry wants may constitute state aid under EU rules. Negotiating state aid clearance could also threaten the year-end timetable. Keith Parker, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA), says he is optimistic that things are falling into place and all the indications are that EDF will proceed. But for them to do so, that guaranteed electricity strike price currently being negotiated with the Government will need to be right. The choice between overpaying or abandoning the best hope of new nuclear would not be a palatable one and, despite increasing calls to do so, ministers have so far refused to elaborate on Plan B if no nuclear is forthcoming. By the end of the year we will have a much better idea whether they will need one.
Telegraph 21st Aug 2012 more >>
It would push the boundaries to permit Chinese investment in such a sensitive area as nuclear generation. Traditionally, British governments have sought to keep such assets in UK or friendly (for which read European or American) hands. While no formal barriers have been put in the way of other foreign bidders, such a block was mooted a few years ago when Russias Gazprom seemed likely to bid for Centrica. There is no obvious commercial reason to discriminate against a Chinese nuclear operator. The Horizon grouping would use western technology in its UK power stations, and would enter into long-term supply agreements from which it would provide against the ultimate costs of their decommissioning. The regulatory framework could be structured to allow the UK to take control in a crisis. However, the government should not be beguiled by its nuclear hopes into ignoring strategic concerns, such as whether it is wise to give Beijing access to UK atomic technology and to the architecture of the countrys power grid. Such worries cannot be fixed with a few regulatory tweaks.
FT 20th Aug 2012 more >>
The government is reportedly seeking to limit China’s investment in the UK’s nuclear sector, as the bidding deadline looms for the Horizon nuclear reactor project that has been put up for sale by owners E.ON and RWE. Two consortia have separately teamed up with Chinese investors to bid for the Horizon Wylfa B project located in North Wales. French firm Areva has reportedly submitted a bid with China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Company, while Japan’s Toshiba Westinghouse filed a bid with China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation.
Business Green 20th Aug 2012 more >>
Nukes & Climate Change
Oliver Tickell: Does the world need nuclear power for us to solve the climate crisis, as Monbiot claims? Let’s look at the figures. In 2010 the world demand for primary energy was equivalent to 12,000 million tonnes of oil (Mtoe), 87% of which was provided by oil, gas and coal. Nuclear power contributed a gross 626 Mtoe, about 5% of the total, while renewables accounted for 935 Mtoe, almost 8%. Assume a 2% growth in primary energy demand per year over the next 35 years, and that demand will double to some 24,000 Mtoe. Rely on nuclear power to accommodate all the growth, and knock out 4,000 Mtoe-worth of coal, and it will have to produce 16,000 Mtoe of energy per year a 25-fold increase on its current level. Today the world has 440 operational nuclear reactors, so 25 times more means 11,000 reactors. To have these in 35 years means building, on average, about one a day. Or in an exponential growth scenario, the world would need to sustain an annual increase of 8% per year in the number of operational nuclear reactors for 35 years.To date the nuclear industry has produced one major radiation release for every 3,000 years of reactor operation. On that basis our 11,000 reactors would give us four such events a year.The world already has some 2,000 tonnes of weapons-grade plutonium and uranium, and is producing a further 75 tonnes of plutonium per year from its 440 reactors. Just 8kg of plutonium is enough to make a small nuclear bomb, so it is inconceivable that proliferation could be contained securely in a 11,000-reactor world producing enough plutonium for hundreds of thousands of bombs every year.
Guardian 20th Aug 2012 more >>
An international giant is looking at selling a stake in the firm which owns a Lancashire nuclear plant. Toshiba is in talks over selling part of its 67% stake in the Westinghouse Electric Company, which operates Springfields Fuels in Salwick, near Preston. The company employs nearly 1,000 people at the factory and has its UK headquarters at Matrix Park in Buckshaw Village, near Leyland. Reports in Japan and the United States said the company is seeking to sell a 17% stake in Westinghouse to retain a controlling interest in the business.
Lancashire Evening Post 20th Aug 2012 more >>
Sedgemoor District Council said it is “happy” with a £94 million community compensation package agreed with EDF Energy in return for hosting the proposed new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point. However, there has been no further agreement on legacy housing. The council, along with Somerset County Council and West Somerset County Council last week agreed the wording of the Section 106 document, expected to be signed in the next few weeks. In all EDF Energy’s community commitments stand at £94 million. Doug Bamsey, corporate director of regeneration for Sedgemoor, told Utility Week that while the agreement did not cover legacy housing, EDF is set to acquire the rest of the required land from Innovia by the end of this year. “At that point we can work with EDF Energy as the land owner,” he said.
Utility Week 20th Aug 2012 more >>
Nuclear Flasks on the way to Sellafield.
You Tube 16th aug 2012 more >>
Over a ten days period, between August 8 and August 18, ten nuclear incidents were recorded worldwide. These included events in the USA, UK and Japan. The safety or otherwise of nuclear power depends to divide opinion with strong advocates in both camps. Without re-running this debate, the world’s news has seen ten nuclear power related incidents occur over a ten day period during August 2012.
Digital Journal 19th Aug 2012 more >>
North Korea will have been able to build as many as 48 nuclear weapons by 2015 unless the international community is able to make sanctions already imposed on the regime work.
Telegraph 20th Aug 2012 more >>
Buried in the many documents the Japanese health ministry places on its website is the monthly estimate of deaths. During the 12 months following Fukushima, the number of deaths for all of Japan jumped 57,900 above than the prior year. About 19,200 were additional deaths from accidents, almost all from the immediate impact of the earthquake and tsunami, but that left 38,700 excess deaths from other causes — with no immediate explanation. While all of these cannot automatically be attributed to radiation exposure, they should be taken seriously and become the subject of extensive health studies.
Huffington Post 16th Aug 2012 more >>
Britains nuclear deterrent is at risk because the Navy does not have enough sailors to man its submarines, Ministry of Defence officials admit.
Telegraph 20th Aug 2012 more >>
A plan to build an 11-mile long barrage across the Severn estuary has been given a boost after David Cameron asked ministers to re-examine the proposal. The £30bn scheme, championed by the former Labour minister Peter Hain who quit his shadow cabinet role earlier this year to promote it, promises to generate 5% of the UK’s electricity and create 10,000 jobs. It would be expected to be operational for more than 120 years. The prime minister met Hain last month to discuss the plan and, according to the FT, has now asked Oliver Letwin, his policy chief, and Ed Davey, the energy and climate change secretary, to investigate the idea for the 6.5GW barrage.
Guardian 20th Aug 2012 more >>
CAIRNGORM Windows says it has secured £5 million of solar panel sales in just over a year. The Inverness company, which is better known for manufacturing uPVC windows, said it had taken on 10 staff to cope with the demand for photo voltaic panels from businesses and consumers. The company’s managing director, David Dowling, said: “It is boom time for us just now and shows that our initial Â£500,000 investment in panels was a gamble which has paid rich dividends.
Herald 21st Aug 2012 more >>