Unfair state aid The new British government is already facing legal challenges from Austria and Luxembourg and from various renewable energy groups for unfair state aid for this nuclear project.
[Britain] has not developed renewables as fast as Germany and other European neighbours—claiming that new nuclear build would fill the gap.
It now looks as though the government will urgently need to rethink its energy policy
New Energy Policy Needed as Nuclear Giants Take a Hit,TruthDig May 29, 2015 By Paul Brown, Climate News Network LONDON—The European nuclear industry, led by France, seems to be in terminal decline as a result of the cancellation of a new Finnish reactor, technical faults in stations already under construction, and severe financial problems.
The French government owns 85% of both of the country’s two premier nuclear companies — Areva, which designs the reactors, and Électricité de France (EDF), which builds and manages them. Now it is amalgamating the two giants in a bid to rescue the industry.
Even if the vast financial losses involved in building new nuclear stations can be stemmed, there is still a big question mark over whether either company can win any new orders…………. Continue reading
Japan Nuclear Plant Obtains Final Permit Needed To Restart, Huffington Post By MARI YAMAGUCHI 05/27/2015 TOKYO (AP) — A nuclear plant in southern Japan on Wednesday obtained the final permit needed to restart its reactors, paving the way for it to become the first to go back online under new safety standards introduced after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
All of Japan’s more than 40 reactors are currently offline for repairs or safety inspections. The two units at the Sendai nuclear power plant are among 24 reactors seeking to restart, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pro-business government tries to put as many back online as possible.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority approved the Sendai plant’s operational safety plans, the last step of a three-part screening process. The plant’s safety program includes emergency response plans in case of fire, floods or other natural disasters, or a serious accident…… While local municipalities have already approved the Sendai plant’s restart, many residents oppose the plan, citing potential danger from active volcanos in the region.
Kyushu Electric hopes to restart one reactor at the Sendai plant in late July after on-site tests and training and the other in late September, though there could be some delays………http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/27/japan-nuclear-plant-restart_n_7450350.html
Spent-nuclear fuel issues plague restarts http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/05/26/national/spent-nuclear-fuel-issues-plague-restarts/#.VWTjIdKqpHw JIJI MAY 26, 2015Spent fuel at the Hamaoka nuclear power station in Shizuoka Prefecture could exceed the capacity of storage pools some two years after the plant is restarted — much sooner than the previously assumed eight years, according to sources.
The faster pace is because the storage pools for reactors 1 and 2 at the Chubu Electric Power Co. plant will be removed from the complex’s total storage capacity following the decommissioning of the two units.
Previously, Chubu Electric planned to continue using the two reactors’ storage pools. The operations of the two reactors ended in 2009.
Last month, four power suppliers, including Kansai Electric Power Co., decommissioned a combined five aging reactors, significantly reducing storage pool capacity.
As of the end of March, the Hamaoka plant’s storage capacity fell by 440 tons in the past six months to 1,300 tons, reflecting the exclusion of the reactor 1 and 2 pools, according to Chubu Electric’s semiannual report to the Federation of Electric Power Companies. Meanwhile, the amount of spent fuel stored at the plant stood at 1,130 tons.
If the remaining three reactors at the plant are brought back online, the amount of spent fuel would exceed the storage capacity in 2.3 years, compared with the eight years estimated before the company’s decision not to use the reactor 1 and 2 pools.
Of all 15 domestic nuclear plants that operators are seeking to restart, storage space capacity appears to be lowest at the Hamaoka plant.
Only four of the plants have more than 10 years before they run short of capacity, including Hokkaido Electric Power Co.’s Tomari plant, which has the longest time, at 16.5 years. The three others are Tohoku Electric Power Co.’s Higashidori plant, with 15.1 years, Hokuriku Electric Power Co.’s Shika plant, with 14.4 years, and Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai plant, with 10.7 years.
All nuclear reactors in Japan are now offline.
Some nuclear plant operators are working to increase their spent-fuel storage capacities while pinning hopes on fuel recycling at Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd.’s facilities in the village of Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture.
Chubu Electric has applied to build a dry-cooling storage facility at the Hamaoka plant to boost its total capacity to store spent fuel. It hopes to put the facility into operation in fiscal 2018 if the plan is approved by the Nuclear Regulation Authority.
A Chubu Electric official said storage capacity prospects remain unclear at the plant because it is uncertain if any reactors will be allowed to restart.
French Bill Seeks to Boost Renewable Energy, Cut Nuclear Use http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/french-bill-seeks-boost-renewable-energy-cut-nuclear-31308484
PARIS — May 26, 2015, France’s lower house of parliament has approved a bill aimed at boosting renewable energy and reducing the country’s reliance on nuclear power, among other environment-friendly measures.
The French government wants to be exemplary this year in environmental matters, since Paris is hosting a U.N.-backed conference in December where 196 countries aim to limit greenhouse gas emissions to fight global warming.
The bill pushed by Ecology Minister Segolene Royal was approved Tuesday by the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, with 308 votes for and 217 against. It will then go to the Senate for further discussions. At the end of the process —probably over summer— the assembly will have the final say.
Among the more significant changes are the following measures: Continue reading
Government hiding nuclear power plant costs: Earthlife Africa http://mybroadband.co.za/news/energy/127160-government-hiding-nuclear-power-plant-costs-earthlife-africa.html
Nuclear critic Earthlife Africa argues that South Africa’s new power plants are another arms deal scandal waiting to happen By Staff Writer – May 24, 2015 The South African government has done studies on what it would cost to build the planned 6 or 8 nuclear power stations, but it is not releasing the information (Also see: ANC wants to use people’s retirement savings to bail out Eskom).
This is according to nuclear critic and Earthlife Africa project co-ordinator Tristen Taylor, the Sunday Times reported.
Taylor was responding to comments from deputy director general of the Department of Energy, Zizamele Mbambo, who said that it would be premature for government to release figures at this stage, as prices were still being negotiated.
Mbambo’s comments were surprising, Taylor said, adding that government is not releasing the studies because it knows the nuclear power plants are going to cost a lot of money. Continue reading
The online magazine Business Journal recently explained the matter in bookkeeping terms. Kansai Electric and other power companies plan to decommission at least five superannuated reactors rather than apply for extensions because their respective output isn’t enough to pay for the government’s new safety measures, which cost about ¥10 billion per reactor. The problem is that once a reactor is shut down permanently, in addition to the cost of decommissioning, the company’s revenue for that plant drops to zero, thus hurting its bottom line even more and making it difficult to borrow money or issue bonds. Consequently, METI is thinking of changing the accounting system so that companies can spread this loss over 10 years, during which they can add a surcharge to every customer’s bill for decommissioning.
Obviously, when METI says nuclear is the cheapest form of energy, they’re not thinking about the user.
Lowball nuclear pitch is fooling no one http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/05/23/national/media-national/lowball-nuclear-pitch-fooling-one/#.VWJCRtKqpHx BY PHILIP BRASOR Earlier this month, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) announced the results of a review of energy production costs, which concluded that nuclear will remain the cheapest alternative for Japan over the next 15 years while pointing out that the calculations took into consideration the government’s new safety measures. By 2030, the cost of producing a kilowatt hour of electricity in a nuclear plant is expected to increase from ¥8.9 to ¥10.1. This estimate also incorporates the presumed savings resulting from those new safety measures, which, METI assumes, will reduce the “frequency” of reactor accidents.
In comparison, energy derived from coal will cost ¥12.9 per kilowatt hour and from LNG ¥13.4, though these figures are based on price increases predicted in 2011. More significantly, the cost of solar will rise from ¥12.4 to ¥16, and wind from ¥13.9 to ¥33.1. Geothermal comes in at ¥19.2. METI said these high costs will “affect development” of renewables, implying that there isn’t much of a future for them.
A few days later, Shukan Asahi ran an article assessing these calculations, pointing out that the figure of ¥10.1 per kW/hour for nuclear is, in the ministry’s statement, followed by the word ijō, meaning “at least,” while figures for other energy sources are not.
The Asahi suggests that METI is trying to assure deniability because it’s almost certain that nuclear-related costs will increase in the future. According to Kenichi Oshima, professor of environmental economics at Ritsumeikan University, the ¥9.1 trillion needed to clean up the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and pay compensation to locals affected by the accident was not factored into the estimate; nor was the cost of decommissioning not only Fukushima No. 1 but other reactors scheduled to go out of service in the next 15 years, and Tokyo Electric Power Co. hasn’t even set a budget for decommissioning Fukushima, a separate procedure from the cleanup. To put matters into perspective, the estimated amount of radioactive material at Fukushima that needs to be processed is equivalent to the amount of radioactive material that would need to be processed from the normal decommissioning of 54 nuclear reactors. Continue reading
METI changes tactics after search for nuclear waste host proves futile http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/05/22/national/meti-changes-tactics-search-nuclear-waste-host-proves-futile/#.VV-6ZdKeAXB
KYODO The government will select potential areas to host nuclear dump sites instead of waiting for communities to volunteer, according to the revised policy on permanent disposal of high-level radioactive waste that was adopted by the Cabinet on Friday.
The revision, the first in seven years, was prompted after towns, villages and cities throughout Japan snubbed requests to host nuclear waste dumps. The government has been soliciting offers since 2002.
The move is seen as a sign that the government wants to address the matter as it proceeds with its pursuit of reactor restarts. All commercial units have largely sat idle since the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 plant in 2011.
It remains unclear when a final depository could be built, because the policy mentions no time frame. The government also plans to expand its storage capacity for spent fuel by building new interim facilities as a short-term fix.
“We will steadily proceed with the process as (resolving the problem is) the current generation’s responsibility,” minister of economy, trade and industry Yoichi Miyazawa told reporters, adding there will be “quite a few” candidate sites.
They will be chosen on scientific grounds, the policy says.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration is seeking to revive atomic power, although the majority of the public remains opposed in light of the Fukushima disaster, which left tens of thousands homeless. Critics have attacked the government for promoting atomic power without resolving where all the waste will end up.
Permanent disposal of high-level nuclear waste requires that a depository be built more than 300 meters underground, where the materials must lie for up to 100,000 years until radiation levels fall to the point where there is no harm to humans or the environment.
About 17,000 tons of spent fuel is stored on the premises of nuclear plants and elsewhere in Japan, but some would run out of space in three years if all the reactors got back online.
Under the revision, the government said it will allow future generations to retrieve high-level waste from such facilities should policy changes or new technologies emerge.
Worldwide, only Finland and Sweden have been able to pick final depository sites. Finland is building the world’s first permanent disposal site for high-level waste in Olkiluoto, aiming to put it into operation around 2020.
But many other countries with nuclear plants are struggling to find a site for such a facility. In the United States, President Barack Obama decided in 2009 to call off a plan to build a disposal site in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain due to local opposition.
Nuclear: EDF made an offer to over 2 billion euros in the … – Les Echos 23 May 15 As he announced, the president of EDF Jean Bernard Levy has sent this Friday to Areva executives Philippe Varin and Philippe Knoche, its proposal for the resumption of the activity of reactors Nuclear Group (Areva NP, formerly Framatome). Reportedly, this offer values the activities concerned just over € 2 billion, net of liabilities of the company. Specifically, the valuation is calculated on the basis of a multiple of 7.5 times EBITDA (EBITDA) activities occasions, recalculated according to the area concerned and restructurings that have been completed. “ This is an indicative offer, which must be followed by a period of due diligence before being adjusted to become a firm offer, possibly with conditions precedent ,” said a source close to the folder. “ At this point, the offer of EDF covers about a third of the financing needs of Areva, estimated at around 7 billion euros ,” continues the source.
During his public this week, Jean-Bernard Levy was very explicit. If the proposal EDF responds to a request of the State, its majority shareholder…..wseconomymarket.blogspot.com.au
Obama Signs Congress Review of Iran Nuclear Deal Bill Into Law NBC News Halimah Abdullah May 23rd 2015 President Barack Obama signed into law on Friday legislation giving lawmakers a chance to review any nuclear deal the White House seeks to hammer out with Iran.
The U.S. and five other world powers have crafted a delicate framework with Iran to keep it from developing nuclear weapons. The nuclear deal with Iran is a key part of the president’s foreign policy legacy, a fact he underscored during an interview this week with The Atlantic.
The law gives Congress at least a month to review the details of an agreement. During the review, the president would be prevented from lifting congressionally imposed sanctions on Iran……http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/iran-nuclear-talks/obama-signs-congress-review-iran-nuclear-deal-bill-law-n363476
Federal ruling calls future of Diablo Canyon reactors into question http://www.foe.org/news/archives/2015-05-federal-ruling-calls-future-of-diablo-into-question May. 21, 2015 by: Kate Colwell Friends of the Earth: Decision is beginning of the end for troubled nuclear plant
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a major victory that could mark the beginning of the end for the Diablo Canyon nuclear reactors, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commissioners have ruled that an Atomic Safety Licensing Board will decide whether Pacific Gas & Electric Co. was allowed to illegally alter the plant’s license. This alteration is an attempt to hide the risk from powerful earthquake faults discovered since it was designed and built. The Commission’s referral of the issue to the licensing board parallels a move that presaged the shutdown of Southern California Edison’s San Onofre nuclear plant two years ago.
“This is a major victory that could be the turning point for a nuclear-free future for California,” said Damon Moglen of Friends of the Earth, which had petitioned the NRC, saying that the secret amendment of the license was an illegal maneuver designed to avoid holding a public hearing on the issue as required by federal law. “PG&E now is following the same path that forced Southern California Edison to pull the plug on San Onofre,” Moglen said.
In a 3 -1 ruling released today, commissioners ruled that Friends of the Earth’s petition will now be considered by an expert panel of the licensing board. Friends of the Earth alleged that PG&E is operating the 1960-era nuclear reactors at Diablo Canyon in violation of their license and called for the reactors to be closed immediately pending public hearings to prove it is safe.
The Commission did not rule on closing the reactors pending public hearings, but ruled that the safety issues should now be considered by the Commission’s executive director for operations.
Today’s decision is all but identical to that by the Commission in November 2012 in response to a similar petition from Friends of the Earth regarding the damaged nuclear reactors at San Onofre. In that case, the licensing board ruled in May 2013 that public hearings should be held as part of a formal license amendment proceeding to assess the safety of San Onofre. When Edison announced the closure of San Onofre a few weeks later, they referred to the ASLB decision.
“This decision is indeed the beginning of the end for Diablo Canyon,” said Dave Freeman, former head of the federal Tennessee Valley Authority, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. “PG&E is not going to get away with running Diablo Canyon when the plant can not withstand the ground motion from the earthquake faults we now know surround these reactors,” said Freeman, a special advisor to Friends of the Earth.
The ruling comes days after the NRC sent PG&E a letter requiring the utility to conduct further seismic risk studies to show whether Diablo Canyon — California’s last nuclear plant, on the Pacific coast near San Luis Obispo — is operating within the bounds of its license. Diablo Canyon is one of only two nuclear plants the NRC classified as high priority for the seismic risk study.
Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) approves restart of a third plant – but more hurdles remain
NRA approves restart for third nuclear plant, Japan Times, 20 May 15 REUTERS, KYODO, BLOOMBERG, AFP-JIJI Japan’s nuclear regulator signed off on the basic safety of a reactor at a third nuclear plant on Wednesday, as the country inches toward rebooting its atomic industry more than four years after the crisis began at Tepco’s Fukushima No.1 facility….
But the reactor is not expected to go back online before winter, as Shikoku Electric has yet to obtain local approval and finish other necessary procedures….
The safety approval is still only one of three needed before the Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) gives its final sign off. The consent of local authorities, which is seen as a formality, is also required, along with operational checks.
At a meeting on Wednesday, the NRA’s commissioners signed off on a provisional assessment that says the Ikata reactor meets new design standards introduced in the wake of Fukushima. The decision will be open to public comment for about a month before being formalized…..
Operators also have to overcome legal hurdles. Anti-nuclear activists have stepped up petitioning the judiciary to block restarts, with a majority of the public opposed to atomic power.
Residents near the Ikata plant filed a lawsuit in December 2011 to mothball the station, but a decision has yet to be made.
In a related move, the Fukui District Court has rejected Kansai Electric Power Co.’s appeal of a ruling that prevents the utility from restarting two reactors at its Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture, according to Tadashi Matsuda, a representative for the plaintiffs who won the case.
The court dismissal was decided Monday but not announced to the media. A court official declined to comment when contacted Tuesday. Kansai Electric representatives couldn’t be reached for comment.
The Fukui District Court issued an injunction in April preventing the utility from moving ahead with plans to restart the reactors.
The court said at the time that new safety regulations introduced following the Fukushima disaster of 2011 are still too lax to ensure the safety of the two reactors at the Takahama station….The rejected appeal throws yet another roadblock in the utility’s path to resuming operations at its nuclear plants……http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/05/20/national/japan-approves-third-nuclear-plant-restart/#.VV5O1rmqpHx
Trees have been felled and roads built in the area, even though the government has not yet granted the final building permit. Fennovoima only has a provisional permit granted last year and must seek a final permit this summer in addition to a permit from the local municipality to begin building work.
Most of the cottages located on the Hanhikiviniemi peninsula have already been purchased by Fennovoima, but the last few holdouts are now subject to compulsory purchase orders. According to the orders, the cottages must be vacated and handed over by the end of May, even though appeals against the compulsory purchase orders are still pending.
Protests on the way Fennovoima currently controls around 990 acres of land and water at Hanhikiviniemi, and this will increase to 1,235 acres with the new acquisitions.
The local Pro Hanhikivi group is opposed to the project, but is also resisting the influx of activists who are camped out in protest at the ongoing construction work. The group is planning a legal challenge to Fennovoima’s actions, and says it does not support protests by more radical groups.
“We want the court to take a view on the principle of whether it’s allowed to grant a permit to start construction that is irreversible,” said Pro Hanhikivi vice-chair and Green League MP Hanna Halmeenpää.
She says the local council’s decision to allow initial building work to proceed is against Finland’s municipal laws and runs counter to the principles of good governance.
The Fennovoima plant was originally approved by parliament in 2010, but planning delays and financing issues have dogged the project since then. Last autumn the Green League walked out of government in protest at the arrival of Russian firm Rosatom as the contractor and part-owner of the plant.
The Greens felt that such a major change in the plans meant they should be re-considered from scratch.
Even then, financing was not secure until state-owned energy firm Fortum stepped in to take a major stake in Fennovoima. According to the original terms on which the project was approved, a majority of the ownership should be in European, meaning European Union, hands.
The project has also prompted opposition in Sweden, where 20,000 people signed a petition opposing the new reactor. Pyhäjoki is located just 96 miles from the Swedish coast.
This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch News as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.
Fukushima; The Beginning Of The End, A series of announcements over the last two weeks have shown the Abe administration’s true plan for Fukushima & Japan. As the political class pushes for reactor restarts, their commitment towards Fukushima has turned to outright betrayal.
Starting in 2016 local governments will be forced to pay for part of the reconstruction costs.
Last week the central government announced they plan to reopen any area below 50 mSv/year for people to return by 2017. Areas at 20 mSv/year or below would be reopened in 2016. 20 mSv/year is the international maximum annual radiation exposure for nuclear workers. Now adults and children would be expected to expose themselves to radiation levels at and even above what is permissible for nuclear workers. ICRP cites that the public should not be exposed to more than 1 mSv/year.
The central government plans to end housing assistance for voluntary evacuees by 2017. …….http://www.fukuleaks.org/web/?p=14764
Engie will not acquire struggling French nuclear group Areva, Ft.com 21 May 15 Michael Stothard in Paris Engie would consider working with struggling French nuclear group Areva on some business lines but is not looking for any full-blown acquisitions to help rescue the company, according to the chief executive of the utility.
“If we consider something, it would be in co-operation with Areva, not simply an acquisition of some assets,” Gérard Mestrallet told the Financial Times on the sidelines of a business and climate change conference in Paris
The comments come as the French government looks to elicit the aid of French companies to help rescue Areva, which reported a €4.8bn loss last year.
Areva, which is 87 per cent government-owned, has fallen victim to a slump in global demand for new reactors that followed the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, as well as crippling cost overruns at key projects…….
Any deal between Areva and Engie would be likely to come alongside a much larger agreement with EDF, which earlier this week outlined its preference for a broad rescue package to acquire Areva NP, the division that designs, manufactures and maintains nuclear reactors.
“The more ambitious proposal from EDF will preserve the technical expertise of Areva’s reactor business and create the possibility of partnerships with outside groups from France or elsewhere,” said Jean-Bernard Lévy, EDF’s chief executive.
The more ambitious proposal from EDF will preserve the technical expertise of Areva’s reactor business and create the possibility of partnerships with outside groups from France or elsewhere– Jean-Bernard Lévy, EDF’s chief executive
Another option on the table would see EDF, which is 85 per cent state-owned, simply recruit 1,200 Areva engineers who specialise in nuclear safety. This would require a greater injection of capital in the group from the government, however.
It is ultimately up to Paris to decide between these two options. A decision could come as early as June ……….3.http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/3d592a50-ffb8-11e4-8c46-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3aoqg2DDh
This week Finland cancelled its option for a second European Pressurised Reactor as the existing EPR project sinks into a abyss of cost over-runs, delays and litigation, writes Jim Green. It now looks like the EPR is a failed technology and its owner, French nuclear giant Areva, is fast running out of both money and orders as its ‘hot prospects’ evaporate.
There’s been plenty of bad news recently for the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) nuclear power station design.
And now there’s more. The Finnish electricity company TVO announced this week that it had cancelled plans to build a second EPR at Olkiluoto in western Finland because of delays and problems with the first EPR on the site currently being built by Areva and Siemens.
That plant, Olkiluoto 3, is running severely over time and budget. Construction began in 2005 and it is not expected to commence operating until 2018, nine years late.
The estimated cost has risen from €3.2 billion (US$3.6b) to €8.5 billion (US$9.5b). Areva has already made provision for a €2.7 billion (US$3.0b) writedown on the project, with further losses expected. FTVO and Areva / Siemens are locked ina €10 billion legal battleover the cost overruns.
Finland’s government had given TVO a deadline of 30th June to request a building permit for its planned Olkiluoto 4 plant. TVO said it would not pursue the project due to “the delay of the start-up of Olkiluoto 3 plant unit.”
It added: “In this situation it is impossible to make significant Olkiluoto 4 related decisions necessary for the construction license application.” Continue reading
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