Nuclear futures: renewables blossom in Germany’s post-nuclear vision, The Conversation, 23 may“….The idea that it is irrational German angst that has led Germany to forge a path distinct from its neighbours doesn’t stand up to scrutiny: of 27 European Union member states, 11 have no civil nuclear power, and most have no intention of developing any. Four other European countries are joining Germany in phasing out nuclear power, while Italy closed its last nuclear power station in the 1980s, and in 2011 rejected plans to look at the issue again.
So Germany turning away from nuclear power is not a panicky reaction that endangers the country’s security of supply, more an important and well-integrated part of her transformation to use renewables exclusively.
Which is not to say that the Energiewende is without problems. Rising electricity bills and the costs of expanding many thousands of miles of transmission lines threaten to strain public acceptance. Rampant nimbyism and ecological and economic trade-offs have to be addressed; any plan for large offshore-wind farms that promise to provide efficient, renewable energy inevitably leads to conflicts with environmentalists.
Maintaining the power grid’s stability in a renewable-based system remains a challenge. But there is nothing to suggest that turning off nuclear power will jeopardise Germany’s clean energy vision. And where Germany leads, others may follow.http://theconversation.com/nuclear-futures-renewables-blossom-in-germanys-post-nuclear-vision-14364
Japan emerges as solar beacon, SMH, 22 May 13, “…..Nuclear doubts Meanwhile Japan’s new nuclear regulator looks set to shut down at least one plant and maybe more, after a report published 16 May found that an earthquake fault under the country’s oldest reactor at Japan Atomic’s Tsuruga plant was active. National law bans building reactors on active faults.
“Japan Atomic’s survival is now in doubt,” Takashi Aoki at Mizuho Asset Management told Bloomberg News. This also raises the risk for the five other power stations under investigation for active faults. Japan Atomic has repeatedly said that the fault is not active, according to a company statement.
The new Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) also said last week it would issue an order to keep a separate unit, the Monju experimental fast breeder reactor, closed until its operator overhauled safety measures.
The verdict might be a blow for Abe’s efforts to get the nuclear capacity back online but it could be reassuring news for the Japanese public that the new watchdog does not seem to shy away from making unwelcome decisions to prioritise safety. The NRA’s predecessor reportedly ignored warnings before March 2011 when the earthquake and tsunami caused the meltdown of three reactors in Fukushima……..
Members of Abe’s party gathered on 14 May to demand restart of the nuclear reactors for the sake of the economic recovery. However, their demands may not be in line with public sentiment: in March, thousands of protesters marched through Tokyo, calling on the government to reject nuclear power.
The NRA is not expected to compile new safety standards until after July 2013, meaning that any decision on resuming operations could likely only be made after the upper house elections this summer…….http://www.smh.com.au/business/carbon-economy/japan-emerges-as-solar-beacon-20130522-2jzpt.html#ixzz2U3UWoJXE
Anti-uranium forces press Va. candidates for gov News Leader, May 21, 2013 RICHMOND — Opponents of uranium mining in Virginia met with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe on the issue and they said he’s solidly in their corner, while a meeting with Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli has yet to be arranged.
Gov. Bob McDonnell, in the meantime, has not decided his response to a February suggestion that he direct state agencies to put uranium mining regulations in place to help guide the 2014 General Assembly if it considers ending a decades-old prohibition on uranium mining in Virginia.
The two pro-mining legislators who proposed the approach after legislation fell flat in the 2013 session are divided on whether the issue will emerge in the next session of the Legislature. The meeting between mining opponents and McAuliffe occurred in Danville about three weeks ago. Two who attended said McAuliffe was clearly opposed to ending the state’s 1982 moratorium on uranium mining.
“He said he had studied the issue and that it made absolutely no sense, either economically or scientifically,” said Jack Dunavant, a longtime opponent of uranium mining from Halifax County. “He was opposed to it and he said you can quote me on that.”
Andrew Lester, executive director of the Roanoke River Basin Association, said McAuliffe called uranium mining a “horrible idea.”
Lester, who was not representing the association at the meeting, said McAuliffe assured him, “I’ll tell you right off the bat you don’t have to worry about me. I am against this thing.”….. http://www.newsleader.com/viewart/20130521/NEWS01/305210004/Anti-uranium-forces-press-Va-candidates-gov
Nuclear subsidies: a gamble on the price of gas, Climate Spectator, 20 May 13Will Blyth ”…..the idea of billion pound subsidies for a new crop of nuclear power stations in a time of austerity sounds outlandish. Is this a sensible use of the public’s money?
We should note that the government is not parting with any cash up front. This is a buy-now, pay-later deal. Money will only flow to the nuclear companies from our bills once they start generating electricity.
The first nuclear plant in the pipeline is Hinkley Point in Somerset, which has received planning consent. The government is currently negotiating a contract with the owner, energy company EDF, to agree a price they can charge when the plant comes online.
The contract terms will be long – perhaps up to 40 years – giving the company revenue certainty, and reducing their capital costs in the face of fluctuating market prices. Yet to be announced, this fixed price may be 70 per cent higher (worth more than £1 billion per year) compared to today’s market prices. But as the plant will not be operational for at least 10 years, the key question is what price power will be a decade from now.
That depends. If the price of gas stays where it is or falls, government will have locked consumers into an expensive energy source for 40 years. But if gas prices rise, electricity prices will also rise, and nuclear energy will subsidise us rather than the other way round. In which case, if the government fails to build new nuclear plants now it will have locked out consumers from a relatively cheap source of future power.
This is the nature of the commercial risks associated with nuclear, and why companies will not build new plants without some price assurance from government. By fixing a price, the government transfers that risk to the consumer. Depending on the terms of the contract agreed with EDF, the public may also share the risk of major cost overruns, and of dealing with nuclear waste.
Britain’s existing nuclear plants are also operated by EDF, which bought them from the government in 2009 for £12.5 billion in a deal that left the costs of cleaning up with the government. This is going to be expensive: the decommissioning of the huge nuclear reprocessing plant at Sellafield, Cumbria, is estimated at more than £67 billion, a bill that costs the government £2.3 billion per year through the annual budget of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. EDF pays nothing into this fund as the “polluter pays” principle says they should, so this represents a hefty subsidy. But the government would never have received such an attractive sale price if the taxpayer had not been left to pick up the tab.
……Judged on purely commercial grounds, the nuclear decision is a large bet on the price of gas (not to mention nuclear safety) http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2013/5/21/energy-markets/nuclear-subsidies-gamble-price-gas
New US Energy Secretary confirmed, supports nuclear energy and natural gas The Verge, By Carl Franzen May 16, 2013 T
he US Senate just voted unanimously to confirm a new Energy Secretary for the country. Ernest Moniz, a 68-year-old nuclear physicist and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will take on the role of the head of the Energy Department, reporting directly to President Obama, who nominated him for the job after the previous Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, resigned earlier this year, saying he wanted to return to academic life. The job puts Moniz in charge of everything from the development of new energy startups, to helping fund new battery research and electric vehicle companies (Tesla Motors was started by a previous Energy Department loan), to managing thesafety of nuclear weapons and nuclear energy in the US.
The latter point is of special interest because Moniz, in contrast to his predecessor, is an advocate for more nuclear power. In the wake of the Fukushima reactor meltdown in Japan in 2011, Moniz wrote an article in The Atlantic calling for the US government to approve a type of smaller, cheaper nuclear reactor. He also supports increased usage of natural gas, which produces lower emissions than oil or coal, and he led an energy research initiative at MIT that was funded by oil and gas companies, leading other scientists to express concern that he was too close to these types of companies to be an effective Energy Secretary…… http://www.theverge.com/2013/5/16/4338118/new-us-energy-secretary-confirmed-supports-nuclear-energy-and-natural
Ministers urged to clarify nuclear cost overruns http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/10065162/Ministers-urged-to-clarify-nuclear-cost-overruns.html
The Government has been urged to clarify who will bear the risk of any cost overruns in building new nuclear plants, after ministers appeared to suggest the burden could fall on consumers. By Emily Gosden 17 May 2013 In a memo to the energy select committee, released on Friday, ministers also admit that delays or cost overruns at EDF’s proposed £14bn nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset could jeopardise the chances of any other new UK nuclear plants being built. Read more »
The parliamentary budget officer’s latest analysis of the government’s spending estimates shows the Crown corporation will cost the public purse an additional $236-million this year, bringing the total to $362-million for 2013-14. The additional money is for AECL’s research and development program.
The federal budget watchdog says although Ottawa’s support for the troubled nuclear agency has decreased by 60 per cent over the last four years, the booked savings in terms of direct support for operations is misleading.
At the same time, AECL’s losses have ballooned: from $300-million in 2009-10 to $3-billion over the first three quarters of 2012-13.
“As a wholly-owned Crown corporation, the government of Canada is ultimately responsible for AECL’s liabilities,” the PBO points out.
Overall, the report calculates that the government will spend $1.1-billion more during the current fiscal year than what was contained in the main estimates issued in early March. That will bring spending for the 2013-14 fiscal year to about $253.6-billion…… http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/budget-watchdog-says-nuclear-agency-a-major-drain-on-public-purse/article11988610/
Coalition still ‘optimistic’ about nuclear power despite EDF and China concerns. Guardian UK Building programme advancing, says minister as expectations of timetable delay at Hinkley Point grow and Chinese ‘lose interest’ The government has insisted it was still optimistic about plans to build a series of nuclear power stations despite expectations that EDF would delay its timetable for a new reactor at Hinkley Point and concerns that China was losing interest in being a co-investor…….
On Friday, the construction trade paper Building quoted industry sources as saying that EDF did not expect to take a final investment decision on Hinkley in Somerset until September at the earliest.
The firm, 80% of which is owned by the French state, had originally talked about concluding negotiations by the end of 2012. That was later extended to the first quarter of 2013. Delays have traditionally dogged nuclear energy projects but are particularly worrisome in this case because Britain faces a potential energy capacity crisis within five years…..Sam Laidlaw, Centrica’s chief executive, told shareholders: “Not only had the cost increased but also the schedule had lengthened very considerably. So instead of taking four to five years to build, EDF were telling us that it was going to take nine to 10 years to build. That is a long time to be writing out a cheque for this project.”….. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/may/17/coalition-optimistic-nuclear-power-edf-china
Nawaz Sharif to be nuclear PM DC | Shafqat Ali | 16th May 2013 Islamabad: Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leader Nawaz Sharif wants to take over power on May 28, the day when he had ordered nuclear tests in 1998 as the Prime Minister….. May 28 holds great significance in the country’s history as well as in the political career of Mr Sharif, as in 1999, on the same day, the Sharif-led government had carried out six nuclear tests in Chaghi in response to the five nuclear blasts conducted by India, rejecting world pressure, particularly from the then U.S. President Bill Clinton. http://www.deccanchronicle.com/130516/news-world/article/nawaz-sharif-be-nuclear-pm
Exodus of energy experts from ‘greenest’ government as funding for renewables is held up on grounds of cost Blow to fight against climate change as CO2 in the atmosphere hits record high THE INDEPENDENT, PAUL BIGNELL , OLIVER WRIGHT, 11 MAY 2013 THE GOVERNMENT IS FACING AN EXODUS OF SENIOR ENERGY AND CLIMATE CHANGE ADVISERS AMID GROWING CONCERNS THAT DECISIVE ACTION TO TACKLE GLOBAL WARMING IS FALLING VICTIM TO TREASURY INTRANSIGENCE.
It emerged that Ben Moxham, David Cameron’s respected adviser on energy and the environment, had quit No 10 after reportedly becoming frustrated at the slow pace of progress.
His departure follows that of Ravi Gurumurthy, a key architect of the Energy Bill which is currently going through Parliament. He stood down from his role as head of strategy at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) last week.
Also departing is Jonathan Brearley, director of energy strategy and futures for DECC, who has also handed in his notice and will leave the department in July. All three men were key proponents of the Government’s strategy of subsidising new offshore and onshore renewable electricity projects to decarbonise Britain’s energy market by 2030.
But the proposals are being held up by the Treasury on cost grounds. Critics claim it is attempting to delay investment – particularly in offshore wind – and instead concentrate on exploiting shale gas reserves. …… http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/exodus-of-energy-experts-from-greenest-government-as-funding-for-renewables-is-held-up-on-grounds-of-cost-8611631.html
Germany aims to become one of the greenest countries in the world – with a huge shift towards renewable energy and massive energy savings
Los Angeles to San Onofre: ‘Not So Fast!’ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/harvey-wasserman/los-angeles-to-san-onofre_b_3167482.html 04/29/2013 A unanimous Los Angeles City Council has demandedthe Nuclear Regulatory Commission conduct extended investigations before any restart at the San Onofre atomic power plant.
The move reflects a deep-rooted public opposition to resumed operations at reactors perched in a tsunami zone near earthquake faults that threaten all of southern California. Read more »
Another Big Victory for Renewable Energy – This Time in the Rockies http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/nlong/another_big_victory_for_renewa.html Noah Long, 29 April 13, Critical votes in The Colorado legislature late Friday night and yesterday represent yet another victory for renewable energy despite a national drive by the fossil fuel industry to roll back standards supporting increased clean power sources like wind and solar.
The Colorado House voted to increase rural renewable energy to 20 percent, doubling access for 100,000 Colorado customers. A version of the bill had already passed the Senate and is supported by Governor John Hickenlooper. A final vote is still necessary before it gets to the governor’s desk, but after these decisive votes, it should become law.
The move will bring clean energy, jobs and economic opportunity to rural Colorado. The increase could result in as many as 10,000 new wind, solar and renewable jobs.
The win for renewable energy in the heart of the Rockies sends a clear national message. Despite the fossil fuel industry’s attempt to roll back renewable energy standards around the country that require utilities to provide an increasing percentage of their power from renewable resources, voters continue to want more clean energy. Roll back attempts have failed in Kansas and North Carolina (more on NC, here). In Arizona, a lawmaker withdrew his proposal to reduce the renewables requirement on that state’s utilities.
Colorado — which will now get 20 to 30 percent of its energy from clean sources — is on pace to have the second highest renewable energy standard in the country- only behind California.
NRC shoots down Texas nuclear plant expansion, Dallas News.com By James Osborne April 30, 2013 Plans to build two new reactors at the South Texas Project nuclear facility outside Bay City hit a road block Tuesday.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission ruled that a partnership between NRG and Toshiba Corp. through the holding company Nuclear Innovation North America violated a U.S law prohibiting foreign control of nuclear power plants.
“At this point NINA from our perspective is foreign owned, controlled or dominated,” said NRC spokesman Scott Burnell. “Until such time as NINA can come up with a different corporate ownership structure we would not be able to approve their license.”…… http://bizbeatblog.dallasnews.com/2013/04/nrc-shoots-down-texas-nuclear-plant-expansion.html/
The Republican-led House modified SB 1472 to add new hurdles to the unpopular nuclear cost recovery act but voted down amendments that would have required the companies to disclose how much of the monthly bill was going into the planning costs among other amendments.
They also rejected an amendment to put the so-called “nuclear cost recovery act” to a voter referendum, an amendment that would ban any development on a nuclear plant until there is a permanent disposal site for nuclear waste, and an amendment to repeal the proposal….. Since the act took effect in 2006, Progress Energy has charged customers more than $1 billion to expand the now-crippled Crystal River nuclear power plant and to start developing a new plant in Levy County….. Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, urged the House to reject the compromise language added to the House bill, saying it will allow utility companies to continue to profit from customers paying the nuclear fee even if the plant is never built.
“We weakened the bill,” he said. “Now what do utility companies have to be concerned about?”
A final vote on the bill is expected later this week. http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/stateroundup/florida-house-rejects-attempts-to-repeal-nuclear-fees/2118425
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