The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Chernobyl nuclear plant remains a high danger, with instability in Ukraine

Ukraine instability threatens efforts to keep Chernobyl plant safe, 26 Apr 15 

Today marks the 29th anniversary of the disaster

Aid agencies in Ukraine say instability in the region is threatening efforts to make the Chernobyl power plant safe for the next 100 years.



Today is the 29th anniversary of the world’s worst ever nuclear accident, which affected the lives of more than seven million people.

Adi Roche, voluntary chief executive of Chernobyl Children International, visited the site in recent weeks.

She said people don’t realise that the radioactive material released in 1986 represents just a fraction of the toxic material still inside the crumbling complex:

April 27, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Nuclear industry embarks on a public advertising campaign

klein_dale-2Nuclear power industry hopes for a new era, Standard Times James Osborne, Apr 25, 2015“…….With high-profile advocates like former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Christie Whitman on board, the industry is embarking on a very public campaign arguing nuclear must be part of any national energy plan. To accomplish that, it wants to examine amending power and licensing regulations to encourage nuclear and speed up construction.

From the $6 billion to $8 billion cost of a new reactor in this country to the 2011 meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant, nuclear faces an uphill climb domestically. Perhaps no hurdle is greater than wholesale power prices, which have fallen nationally as U.S. hydraulic fracturing operations have flooded the country with cheap natural gas.
The U.S. has five new reactors under construction in South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. But with power prices low, any plans for further construction have been put on hold. Also, the future of the country’s 61 nuclear plants, many of which were built in the 1970s, is falling into doubt as facilities come up for relicensing and will probably require costly upgrades…….

the industry will face opposition. Nuclear remains a divisive issue among environmentalists. Some support it as a proven means to cut carbon emissions out of the nation’s power supply.

But there are many see its potential contamination risks as just too great to make it sensible……..

April 27, 2015 Posted by | marketing, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Money running out for safety cover, as dangerous Chernobyl nuclear wreck reaches 29th anniversary

The reactor itself is still too contaminated for workers to approach. Removal of radioactive materials there will only begin once the new confinement structure has been finished. 

Chernobyl arch faces €265m funding gap ahead of disaster’s 29th anniversary, , Guardian 24 Apr 15  World must plug funding gap for massive 100-metre steel arch being built to contain remaining radioactive waste at the site. A massive engineering project to make the Chernobyl nuclear power plant safe is facing a €265m (£190m) funding shortfall.


Next week a conference held by Germany in London will call on countries to make up the gap, but the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has said it may have to ask its shareholders to make up the shortfall if donations dry up.

This Sunday marks the 29th anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, when a power surge blew the roof off a reactor, spewing radioactive clouds across Russia, and eastern Europe.

A makeshift sarcophagus built in the explosion’s aftermath was supposed to protect the environment from radiation for at least 30 years. But it has since developed cracks.

The project to build a new radiation container had been due for completion this year but the deadline slipped to November 2017, as costs mushroomed from an initial estimate of €800m (£572m) to more than €2.15bn today.

Over 40 governments and the European commission have committed to help a Chernobyl Shelter Fund tasked with sealing off the 100 tonnes of uranium and one tonne of plutonium that remain within the site.

“If countries recognise the nature of the problem in Chernobyl and its importance for human security in Ukraine and ecological security in Europe, there is a hope that the gap could be closed at the donor conference on April 29,” Anton Usov, an EBRD spokesman told the Guardian. “Verbally the donors are committed to contribute more funds.”

The bank believes there is a broad understanding among nations of the threat that radioactive dust on the site still poses to Kiev, around 70km away……..

The reactor itself is still too contaminated for workers to approach. Removal of radioactive materials there will only begin once the new confinement structure has been finished.

April 27, 2015 Posted by | safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

First shale oil, now solar is transforming Japan’s and the global energy market

sun-championLike Shale Oil, Solar Power Is Shaking Up Global Energy  25 Apr 15 One by one, Japan is turning off the lights at the giant oil-fired power plants that propelled it to the ranks of the world’s top industrialized nations.  With nuclear power in the doldrums after the Fukushima disaster, it’s solar energy that is becoming the alternative.

Solar power is set to become profitable in Japan as early as this quarter, according to the Japan Renewable Energy Foundation (JREF), freeing it from the need for government subsidies and making it the last of the G7 economies where the technology has become economically viable.

Japan is now one of the world’s four largest markets for solar panels and a large number of power plants are coming onstream, including two giant arrays over water in Kato City and a $1.1 billion solar farm being built on a salt field in Okayama, both west of Osaka.

“Solar has come of age in Japan and from now on will be replacing imported imported uranium and fossil fuels,” said Tomas Kåberger, executive board chairman of JREF.

Japan is retiring nearly 2.4 gigawatts of expensive and polluting oil-fired energy plants by March next year and switching to alternative fuels.  Japan’s 43 nuclear reactors have been closed in the wake of the 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima power plant after an earthquake and a tsunami – since then, renewable energy capacity has tripled to 25 gigawatts, with solar accounting for more than 80 percent of that.

Once Japan reaches cost-revenue parity in solar energy, it will mean the technology is commercially viable in all G7 countries and 14 of the G20 economies, according to data from governments, industry and consumer groups.

“Just as shale extraction reconfigured oil and gas, no other technology is closer to transforming power markets than distributed and utility scale solar,” said consultancy Wood Mackenzie, which has a focus on the oil and gas industry.

Oil major Exxon Mobil says that “solar capacity is expected to grow by more than 20 times from 2010 to 2040.”

April 27, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

In Turkey, anti nuclear protestors mark anniversary of Chernobyl disaster

Protest-No!Anti-nuclear demonstration marks anniversary of Chernobyl disaster  The Sinop Anti-Nuclear Platform (Sinop NKP) held a demonstration on Saturday in Sinop province in order to mark the 29th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster in Ukraine and to raise their voices against the Turkish government’s plans to construct nuclear power plants in Sinop and the Akkuyu district of Mersin province.

Several nongovernmental organizations, local residents of Sinop and members of left-wing parties from all over Turkey were among the demonstration participants. According to the Sözcü newspaper, there was a total about 10,000 protesters.

The protesters said the Chernobyl disaster was a lesson that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) should keep in mind before resorting to nuclear power plants to address the country’s energy shortage.

On April 26, 1986 an explosion and fire at the Chernobyl plant released a large quantity of highly radioactive fallout into the atmosphere that spread over an extensive area, including large parts of the western Soviet Union and Europe, in one of the worst accidents in history in terms of cost and casualties.

“Developed countries including Germany, Austria and Sweden decided to close down their nuclear plants after this disaster and Germany‘s energy requirements are two-and-a-half times larger than Turkey’s. The US, the country that has the most nuclear power plants, is not building any new ones. When the aforementioned countries are using more and more alternative energy sources like solar and wind power, there is no point for Turkey to venture into contracting to build a nuclear power plant,” said Chamber of Electrical Engineers (EMO) Secretary General Hüseyin Önder.

Following this demonstration, the Anti-Nuclear Platform (NKP) issued a written statement noting that Sinop is known for being the happiest city in Turkey and that a nuclear power plant would damage the city’s landscape and its image of being a peaceful city.

The platform also stressed that the AK party is trying to convince the people of Sinop to support the project by promising that the power plant would provide thousands of job opportunities for residents, but the statement contended that only around 300 people will able to work there and that they will mostly be workers from the outside of the city.

April 27, 2015 Posted by | EUROPE, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

One of world’s largest floating solar plants opened in Japan


As highlighted in a report released this week by The Climate Group, regions with more land space, specifically the UAE with its huge solar resources, are primed to benefit from the fast-growing low carbon economy.

solar floating Kagoshima Nanasujima

The giant plant in Japan was inaugurated last March but has only just opened, as announced by Kyocera and Ciel et Terre International, two manufacturers that are heavily investing in this technology. The system is made up of two solar parks, at Nishihira Pond and Higashihira Pond in Kato City in Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture, with a capacity of 1.7 megawatts (MW) and 1.2 MW respectively.


Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology is becoming more wide-spread in Japan, driven in part by the closure of the country’s fleet of nuclear plants following the Fukushima disaster – even if there are some concerns about the possibility the country could soon reopen them.

… total solar PV capacity has moved from just 19 MW in 1992 to 13,532 MW in 2013 –more than double the previous year.


However, with a landmass slightly smaller than California and a population density closer to India, this expansion in PV collides with the lack of space. Thankfully, Japan is surrounded by sea and has many water reservoirs to cater for its seasonal variation in rainfall levels, so is experimenting more frequently with floating PV systems.

Not only is floating solar more convenient, it is also more energy efficient. A study by Korea Water Resources Corporation (K-water) claims the technology is more efficient because it has a lower temperature during the day when compared to overland PV modules. This should be achieved due to the reflection of light from the water surface, which keeps the PV modules cooler………

April 27, 2015 Posted by | Japan, renewable | Leave a comment

Maine’s Governor wants to remove voters’ rights on decisions on small nuclear reactors

Flag-USALePage’s plan to negate rule on nuclear power plants could be radioactive. Observers wonder why his attention to the issue begins with an attempt to disempower Maine voters. 26 Apr. BY BILL NEMITZ COLUMNIST | @BillNemitz Consider yourselves warned, fellow citizens. Gov. Paul LePage is fiddling around with Maine’s nuclear hot button.

“We anticipated this might provoke a conversation,” noted Patrick Woodcock, director of the Governor’s Energy Office, in an interview on Friday.

 He’s talking about L.D. 1313, a bill quietly submitted by the LePage administration that would eliminate a longstanding requirement that any and all proposed nuclear power projects in Maine be put to a statewide referendum.

text-SMRsUnder LePage’s new plan, scheduled for a hearing Wednesday at 1 p.m. before the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee, voters would no longer have a say on the creation of nuclear power plants with generating capacities of 500 megawatts or less.

(Just so you know, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant’s Unit 1 reactor – one of three destroyed by Japan’s apocalyptic tsunami in 2011 – had a generating capacity of 460 megawatts.)

Let’s back up a little.

Back in 1987, when the now-defunct Maine Yankee nuclear plant in Wiscasset was still a lightning rod for the state’s highly charged anti-nuclear movement, the Legislature passed a law mandating that future construction of “any nuclear power plant” in Maine “must be submitted to the voters of the State” before any ground is broken…….

Considering the complexity and controversy bound to greet any talk of dusting off nuclear generation in Maine, why start with a bill that effectively tells voters they’re being cut out of the process?

Or, as longtime anti-nuclear activist Ray Shadis of Edgecomb put it on Friday, “You don’t start a conversation by throwing a hand grenade in the room.”

Shadis, who currently represents the lone remaining intervenor in the proposed relicensing of New Hampshire’s Seabrook nuclear plant, sees this week’s hearing as “the kind of rudeness we’ve come to expect from Gov. LePage.”

He also thinks the governor is dreaming if he thinks small modular reactors – the brainchildren of a new generation of nuclear engineers working mostly out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – can attract the investment capital needed to put them on the energy radar here in Maine or anywhere else, for that matter.

“It seems smart. It seems 21st century. But it is not,” Shadis said, noting that for all the design work that’s been done on small modular reactors over the past decade or so, they’ve generated virtually no interest on Wall Street.

“The most rabid anti-nuclear crowd are the investors in the market,” Shadis noted. “It takes a long time to realize any return at all. And the entirety of what you invest can turn from an asset to a liability overnight. Why bother risking your money? So they don’t.”

Thus, he said, LePage’s bill at best “is impractical, it’s silly. Out there in the energy world, where people are really trading on this stuff, it will make Maine the laughingstock. It will make us look like patsies.”

Shadis isn’t the only one watching with a raised eyebrow. Rep. Mark Dion, D-Portland, who co-chairs the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee, can’t understand why the LePage administration would start this “conversation” by first erasing voters from the equation………. 

April 27, 2015 Posted by | politics, technology, USA | Leave a comment

Arrest of anti nuclear protestor who landed drone on Shinzo Abe’s office

flag-japanMan arrested for landing drone on Shinzo Abe’s office in nuclear protest, Guardian, 25 Apr 15 
Yasuo Yamamoto charged over landing of drone with tiny amount of radiation in apparent protest against use of nuclear power after Fukushima disaster. 
A Japanese man has been arrested for landing a drone on the prime minister’s office with a minuscule amount of radiation in an apparent protest against the use of nuclear power, four years after the Fukushima disaster.

Unemployed Yasuo Yamamoto, 40, who lives in Fukui Prefecture in western Japan, was arrested on Friday and charged with obstruction of official business, police said.

The maximum penalty is three years in prison or a 500,000 yen (£2,770) fine.

Media reported that Yamamoto turned himself in at a police station in Fukui and said he landed the drone as a protest against nuclear power…..A drone marked with a radioactive sign was found on the roof of Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s office on Wednesday. The radiation was so low it was not harmful to humans.

Yamamoto said he put radioactive sand that he got from Fukushima in a container on the drone, media reported…….

April 27, 2015 Posted by | Japan, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Christian crusade for action on climate change

climate-changeBeliever among the skeptics: A Canadian’s crusade to convert Christians to climate change belief, National Post William Marsden | April 24, 2015 WASHINGTON — Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, a cheerful, Toronto-born evangelical Christian, has become the hottest ticket in the highly polarized U.S. debate over climate change.

Named in 2014 by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in America, she is sought out by Hollywood stars, applauded by environmentalists and fellow scientists, and a huge draw on the Christian speaking circuit because she has opened the door, if only a crack, to the largest and single most stubborn community of climate skeptics in America — evangelicals.

She has essentially become a missionary among her own people. And in doing so she has single-handedly raised hopes of a potential breakthrough in U.S. climate politics. The reasoning is simple. If you can convince evangelicals of the reality of man-made climate change, the rest of the country will follow………

“So I realize that, sure, most of these people, if you polled them, they would say climate change isn’t real. But if you actually take the time and talk to them, only about 10 per cent of people are hardcore”……..

Climate science was not the issue, she said. The debate was over faith. She faced a wall of Christians who believed that God’s absolute power eclipsed anything that mankind could do to the planet.

Hayhoe countered with scripture stating that while God created the Earth, he gave mankind dominion over it and Christians have to play an active role as its protector and not just its exploiter. Add a pinch of basic climate science and that’s essentially her message.

“I had to be a whole person not just a scientist and I had to share with them why I cared about climate change,” she said. “And for me my faith was a big part of that and for people here their faith is a big part of that.”

The word got out and before long Hayhoe had to meet increasing demands to talk to evangelical and other Christian communities…….

“I see my responsibility not as changing people’s minds but as offering them the information they need to change their minds.”

April 27, 2015 Posted by | climate change, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Designing for recycling of rare earths is essential – theme for April 2015

The world is still in the grip of the philosophy of endless growth, endless consumption of material “goods” and energy. Along with that goes the “throwaway mentality.

The result – not just the disappearance of precious resources – water, land , biodiversity  – but also the dirty pollution of the ecosphere with wastes. One of the worst is radioactive wastes. (Don’t be caught by the nuclear lobby lie about the’nuclear fuel cycle’ – which is really a chain leading to toxic wastes needing burial)

However, environmentalists must wake up to the fact that nearly all of our advanced technology requires “rare earths” – cerium,  15 lanthanoid elements and one or both of the elements yttrium and scandium. Thorium is often classed with them. Mining these elements results in highly toxic radioactive tailings.

If we’re serious about not creating radioactive wastes disasters, such as the notorious ones in Malaysia and China then the answer must be – DESIGN – designing wind turbines, cell phones, lap-tops etc – in a such a way that the rare metals can be easily retrieved and used again.

The situation clearly calls for international policy initiatives to minimize the seemingly bizarre situation of spending large amounts of technology, time, energy and money to acquire scarce metals from the mines and then throwing them away after a single use.”


April 25, 2015 Posted by | Christina's themes, RARE EARTHS | Leave a comment

Ban Uranium Mining and Nuclear Power- call from World Uranium Symposium

Global Conference Urges Ban on Uranium Mining and Nuclear Power By Paul Brown, Climate News Network LONDON—Uranium mining across the world should cease, nuclear power stations be closed and nuclear weapons be banned, according to a group of scientists, environmentalists and representatives of indigenous peoples.

Three hundred delegates from 20 countries that produce uranium for nuclear power, weapons and medical uses called for an end to all uranium mining in a declaration launched on Earth Day this week at a meeting in Quebec, Canada.

The venue for the World Uranium Symposium was chosen because Quebec state is currently considering whether to continue its moratorium on uranium mining, having already closed down its only nuclear power plant in 2013.

Symbolic choice

The city of Quebec is also symbolic because this is where Canada, the US and the UK made a co-operation agreement in 1943 that led to the building of the world’s first nuclear weapons. Two of the resulting A-Bombs were used to destroy the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

But the symposium was more concerned about the damage that existing uranium mining is doing to the welfare of indigenous peoples, and the “erroneous view” that nuclear power can help solve the problem of climate change.

The declaration applauded the expansion of renewable energy and the significant strides in phasing out nuclear power following the growing awareness that “nuclear power is not a cost-effective, timely, practical or safe response to climate change”.

“The risks to health, safety and the environment represented by the entire nuclear fuel chain . . . greatly exceed the potential benefits for society”

It called for “a worldwide ban on uranium exploration, mining, milling and processing, as well as the reprocessing of nuclear waste, and the irresponsible management of radioactive waste”.

Dr. Eric Notebaert, associate professor of medicine at the University of Montreal, co-president of the Symposium, and member of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, said that the symposium delegates all agreed that “the risks to health, safety and the environment represented by the entire nuclear fuel chain—from uranium mines, to power reactors, to nuclear weapons, to radioactive wastes—greatly exceed the potential benefits for society”.

Dr. Juan Carlos Chrigwin, a physician affiliated with McGill University, and president ofPhysicians for Global Survival, said: “The issuing of this World Declaration on Uranium is the culmination of essential work carried out over many years by international coalitions who, despite geographical and cultural differences, share common objectives and who desire to shape a common vision of a better world.

“Uranium does not provide a viable or sustainable approach for dealing with climate change, nor for providing isotopes for medical use. Today, there are a number of medical and energy alternatives that are cheaper and safer.”

The declaration is open for organisations and individuals to sign on the internet and is bound to put further pressure on an industry already suffering from falling confidence.

The price of uranium has dropped from $138 a tonne in 2007 to less than $40 a tonne currently as plans to build more nuclear stations have been shelved in several countries.

While the search continues for rich new uranium deposits—particularly by China in Africa and the US in Greenland—it is unlikely to be economically viable to exploit them at current prices.

Carbon footprint

According to the World Nuclear Association, 52% of the world’s production comes from 10 mines in six countries. The largest is in Canada, followed by one in Australia, but the largest single producer is Kazakhstan, which has four mines in the top 10 in the world. In Africa, Niger and Namibia are also big producers.

While many pro-nuclear governments—including the UK’s—regard nuclear power as a clean, low-carbon form of energy, the politicians ignore the carbon footprint of the mines and the consequences for the health of workers.

It is in developing countries that the miners and the local environment tend to suffer most because of open cast mines. For example, large areas of Kazakhstan are too dangerous to inhabit as a result of mountains of uranium tailings and mildly radioactive dust.

The Symposium’s co-president, Dr. Dale Dewar—a physician who is associate professor at the University of Saskatchewan and is co-author of the book, From Hiroshima to Fukushima to You—summed up by saying: “We are calling on national and international leaders to protect our planet and our populations from any further nuclear catastrophes. Anything less would be irresponsible.”

April 25, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

High levels of radiation in children’s playground – Tokyo park closed

radiation-warningflag-japanTokyo park closed over dangerous radiation Sky News, , 24 April 2015 Extremely high levels of radiation have been discovered in a playground in Tokyo, officials said Friday, fanning fears for the health of children in the area.

Soil underneath a slide at the park in the northwest of the Japanese capital showed radiation readings of up to 480 microsieverts per hour, the local administrative office said.

Anyone directly exposed to this level would absorb in two hours the maximum dose of radiation Japan recommends in a year. “Many children play in the park daily, so the ward office should explain the situation,” Kyodo News quoted a 62-year-old local woman as saying.

The radiation level is over 2000 times that at which the national government requires soil cleaning in areas around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, where reactors melted down after the March 2011 tsunami…….

The park has been sealed.

April 25, 2015 Posted by | environment, Japan | Leave a comment

Demonstrations in New York City for abolition of nuclear weapons

Protest-No!Demonstrators to rally for nuclear abolition The Wisconsin Gazette  Monday, 20 April 2015  Thousands of protesters are set to gather in New York City this week to demand a nuclear-free world in advance of the five-year Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference.

Activists, scholars and students with anti-nuclear, peace and environmental justice movements will call on the NPT Review Conference meeting at the United Nations to mandate the commencement of “good faith negotiations” for the complete elimination of the world’s nuclear arsenals, as required by the treaty.

Activist events include an international conference April 24-25 at the Cooper Union featuring speakers from more than a dozen countries.

On April 26, a mass rally will take place in Union Square, followed by a march to Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, where millions of petition signatures will be presented to UN and NPT officials.

The rally will launch a “Global Wave,” with participants symbolically waving goodbye to nuclear weapons. The Global Wave will travel west, by time zone, with public events scheduled in Papeete, Manila, Amman, Bethlehem, Stockholm, Paris, London, Sao Paulo and points in-between.

An interfaith service will precede the rally.

Joseph Gerson, disarmament coordinator at the American Friends Service Committee and one of the events’ lead organizers, is working with activists from Tokyo to Toronto and Berlin to Brazil.

He said, “More than a thousand Japanese activists, including 50 Hiroshima and Nagasaki A-bomb survivors, will be joining us in this 70th anniversary year of the U.S. atomic bombings. Their suitcases will be filled with 7,000,000 petition signatures calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons.”

In the United States, peace walks originating in Tennessee, at the Oak Ridge nuclear weapons production facility, California and New England, will converge in New York, with groups journeying on peace trains from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut, and coming on buses from as far away as Chicago and Massachusetts.

A “Bike for Peace” ride from Washington, D.C., will arrive in New York City on April 24.

Organizers say nuclear disarmament is now more important than ever………

April 25, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, opposition to nuclear, USA | Leave a comment

Highly hazardous clean-up begins, of Sellafield’s radioactive sludge

Radioactive Sludge Clear-Up At Sellafield, Sky News, 23 Apr 15 The radioactive waste held in a six-metre-deep pond dates back to the 1950s, and would fill 21 double decker buses. Work has begun to remove sludge from an old storage pond at one of the most hazardous nuclear plants in Europe, Sellafield in Cumbria.
sludge removal Sellafield

Around 1,500 cubic metres of radioactive material is being emptied from an area which was built to store nuclear fuel for recycling in the 1950s.

Sellafield’s reactor is being decommissioned but reprocessing continues

The storage vessels were brought to Sellafield in separate sections and welded together, before being carefully slid into a reinforced concrete building to safeguard against leaks.

But there is an added complication: the pond is full of large metal boxes of nuclear fuel which they will have to work around and make sure remain fully submerged at all times.

Andy Lindley, from the Office for Nuclear Regulation, said: “This is highly hazardous waste and its removal will take some years to complete….

April 25, 2015 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

French govt kept its own report under wraps – 100% renewable energy is feasible

flag-franceSuppressed French report says 100% renewables is possible, Energy Transition,  23 Apr 2015   by  Over the Easter break, French daily Le Monde reported that an official study for a conference to be held last week was being held back. The energy experts investigated a 100 percent renewable supply of electricity by 2050. Craig Morris got hold of a copy, which still lacks an executive summary. So he wrote one.

Last week, a conference was held in France to investigate, as the title puts it (website in French), whether France is ready for 40 percent renewable electricity by 2030. But as Le Monde pointed out at the beginning of the month (report in French), French energy agency Ademe announced at the beginning of the year (press release, PDF in French) that the centerpiece was to be “the presentation of an unpublished study showing the path towards 100 percent renewable electricity.” Ademe itself commissioned the study, which was conducted under conditions that French think tank negaWatt calls “extraordinary” (in French).

According to Le Monde, Ademe says the presentation of the study has been taken off the agenda because the subject is “very sensitive.” The paper goes one step further calling it “explosive.” At the beginning of the year, French Energy Minister Ségolène Royal threw her weight behind the construction of a “new generation of reactors” (report in French), potentially calling into question the government’s official goal of reducing the share of nuclear in the power sector from around 75 percent to 50 percent.

The word now is that the study – which reportedly already cost nearly 300,000 euros – is to be published later this year. In the meantime, the experts are to “verify” a number of the findings.

What are the findings? The leaked PDF has two blank pages where the executive summary should be. So I wrote my own.

Executive Summary

The French power sector faces fundamental challenges over the next two decades. Nuclear power currently covers around three quarters of demand, but the average nuclear plant is around 30 years old. The government aims to reduce its dependence on nuclear, partly by switching to renewables.

France has not only been a leader in science for centuries, but is also proud of its long democratic tradition. The combination of democracy and research makes a broad investigation into possible options obviously desirable. This study is designed as a scientific investigation within a democratic debate.

Previous studies have investigated (nearly) 100 percent renewables in Japan (Energy Rich Japan), Germany (KombikraftwerkGeschäftsmodell Energiewende, and SRU), the UK (Zero-carbon Britain), Australia, the US (90% renewable electricity in Renewable Electricity Futures), California (PDF), and indeed for the European Union as a whole (RE-thinking 2050). Ecofys has conducted a 100 percent renewable scenario for the entire world, and Greenpeace regularly updates its Energy [R]evolution studies, which are also global. PriceWaterhouseCoopers has also produced a roadmap for 100 percent renewable electricity in Europe and North Africa (PDF). This list is not exhaustive; we refer readers to the World Future Council’s (WFC) list of such studies and reports, which can be searched by region. The WFC has also produced this overview. Furthermore, Denmarkand the Netherlands already have an official target of 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.

The present study is intended to help fill that gap for France. It is hoped that the findings will contribute to an open discussion about the French energy future, including with the informed public. The main previous study for France was produced by négaWatt, which investigated more than 90 percent renewable energy (not just electricity) in 2011.

In line with these other publications, the study found that a 100 percent supply of renewable electricity would be possible and affordable but not trivial. To account for efficiency and conservation, two basic scenarios are investigated, one with 406 TWh of annual consumption, the other with 487 TWh (2014: 465 TWh). The study also investigates the effect of temperatures on power demand – an aspect not generally covered in other such studies, but useful here because France is so reliant on electricity for space heating. Note here that Denmark aims to use excess renewable electricity to produce heat (power-to-heat). In other words, France’s current dependence on electric heat, which is currently seen as a problem, can be helpful in a transition towards renewables.

One question is how much of each type of energy source – solar, wind, biomass (excluding methanization), geothermal, hydropower, and ocean energy – would need to be installed. The study answers this question in great detail for each of the country’s 21 regions…………

The entire investigation also places France within its European neighbors, which are assumed to be 80 percent renewable by 2050 (in accordance with the European Commission’s Roadmap 2050). The power trading situation is therefore also studied. The goal will therefore be greater energy independence without complete autonomy.

Finally – and here I simply translate a passage from page 6 – “Ademe is fully aware that this study is only a first step down a path we will have to travel in the years to come. The findings raise new questions, which future studies will have to address.”

Craig Morris (@PPchef) is the lead author of German Energy Transition. He directs Petite Planète and writes every workday for Renewables International. For this report, he would also like to express his thanks to the swarm (you know who you are), who helped him put together the list of studies into 100 percent renewables.

April 25, 2015 Posted by | France, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment


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