Germany says using tax money for nuclear power ‘out of the question’ BY BARBARA LEWIS AND TOM KOERKEMEIER BRUSSELS Thu Mar 5, 2015 (Reuters) – Using taxpayers’ money to fund nuclear power is “absolutely out of the question”, German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Thursday, in an apparent swipe at British plans to finance new atomic generation.
Gabriel was arriving for talks in Brussels on the European Commission’s proposal for an energy union, which would deepen cross-border cooperation on energy across the 28-member EU…….
“There are countries in the EU that want to support nuclear power with tax money. We think that is absolutely out of the question,” Gabriel said.
“We will not agree by any means that nuclear energy be supported by public money. Nuclear energy is the most expensive kind of generation. It has now been around for 50 years, it is not new and it is dangerous.”
Gabriel did not directly mention Britain’s plans to finance new nuclear generation to be built by French utility EDF at Hinkley Point in southwest England.
The European Commission last year approved state aid for the 16 billion pound ($25 billion) plan, drawing fierce criticism and legal action from those who say the subsidy distorts competition.
On Wednesday, a German energy cooperative announced it would take legal action against Britain’s plan to pay a guaranteed price for power produced at Hinkley Point….. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/05/us-eu-energy-nuclear-idUSKBN0M115Q20150305
Energy firm sues EU over Brit nuclear plant http://www.thelocal.de/20150305/green-energy-company-to-sue-eu-over-nuclear-energy 05 Mar 2015 Renewable energy provider Greenpeace Energy plans to sue the European Commission over its decision last year to allow the UK to build a new nuclear reactor. The Hamburg company says that the huge subsidies involved in the UK project will upset German energy markets and harm small renewable energy providers, and argues that the the European Commission (EC) should not have given the project the go ahead because the subsidies would distort competition.
Silvia Brugger, director of the Climate and Energy Programme at the Heinrich-Böll Foundation – closely linked to Germany’s Green party – told The Local that the lawsuit is “justified” and an “important signal,” and denied that a favourable ruling would threaten Germany’s subsidy programme for renewable energy.
“[This process] should expose the full costs of nuclear energy and conversely highlight the competitive advantages of renewable energy,” said Brugger. Continue reading
Sellafield clean-up costs rise to £53bn, says NAO BBC News 4 Mar 15 The cost of decommissioning and cleaning up the Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria has increased by £5bn to £53bn, says the National Audit Office.
Margaret Hodge MP, chair of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which commissioned the report, said the cost hike was “astonishing.”
A year ago, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the body responsible for the clean up, said the cost would be £48bn.
The work is also behind schedule, the report said.
The Authority gave the £9bn Sellafield clean-up contract to Nuclear Management Partners (NMP), but following criticism of NMP’s competence, decided in January to cancel the contract.
“It is galling that breaking the contract will cost the public purse £430,000,” said Mrs Hodge, whose committee recommended the Authority consider doing this a year ago.
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the Department of Energy and Climate Change, NMP, and Sellafield Ltd. are due to appear before the Committee on 11 March.
Mrs Hodge said she expected them to “tell me how the escalation in cost of cleaning up Sellafield will be stopped and performance put back on track.”
Chris Jukes, regional officer of the GMB union, said: “GMB has been absolutely clear all along that the NMP model did not work at Sellafield…….
The total cost of cleaning up the UK’s 17 nuclear sites is “around £70bn”, the NAO says.
Sellafield is the “UK’s largest and most hazardous nuclear site”, including two nuclear fuel reprocessing plants, waste management and storage plants, as well as storage ponds and silos containing waste from the UK’s first nuclear plants.
The Authority aims to clear the site by 2120. http://www.bbc.com/news/business-31725365
Hinkley C nuclear power station faces legal challenge BBC News 5 Mar 15 “The planned Hinkley C nuclear power station in Somerset is the subject of a new legal challenge. A German energy co-operative founded by environmental lobby group Greenpeace is to launch a legal action against the European Commission.
It accuses the Commission of wrongly approving the nuclear reactor project in October following a lengthy state aid inquiry…….Unfair state aid?
Soenke Tangermann, managing director of Greenpeace Energy, said the “highly subsidised” electricity produced by the plant would “noticeably distort European competitiveness.”
The energy cooperative was founded by Greenpeace 15 years ago and now operates as an independent company.
“This effect will have economic disadvantages for committed green [energy] providers like us and that’s why we are going to court,” Mr Tangermann said.
Greenpeace Energy says the subsidies planned for the controversial scheme are far higher than those for wind and solar power in Germany.
Austria – which opposes nuclear power – has also signalled it will launch its own legal challenge against the project, arguing that subsidies ought to be restricted to renewable energy sources.
Greenpeace Energy is also calling on the German government to take action against what it calls “the unfair state aid approval.”…….http://www.bbc.com/news/business-31732679
The Nuclear Safety Framework in the European Union after Fukushima, EU Bulletin
Written by European Values | Friday, February 27th, 2015 Franklin Dehousse and Didier Verhoeven (EGMONT – The Royal Institute for International Relations) “…….Even though the nuclear energy has already been in decline in many EU countries before 2011, it was the Fukushima accident that substantially contributed to Germany’s and Belgium’s decisions to abandon nuclear energy entirely, Italy’s decision to cancel the restart of its own nuclear energy program, and France’s decision to gradually decrease the share of nuclear energy in its overall electricity production. The trend to reduce the nuclear plants’ share of electricity supply will probably continue within the Union in the following years. This will happen not only because of the very fact that most of the nuclear reactors are 20 years and older and with only four new ones currently being built, but also because of the boom of renewable sources and the EU’s effort to reduce its energy dependency on Russia…..
Nevertheless, the EU directive of 2009, which enforced important restrictions, caused wide resentment and thus was replaced by a new directive in 2014, which dropped some of the substantial restrictions. The initial directive introduced common security standards and provided a legal framework for the foundation of a common security body which would associate inspectors with the right to control the implementation of these standards. The new directive, on the other hand, strengthens the security principles without implementing common standards, while seeking to ensure the increasing independence of national regulators and improve the control mechanisms.
(The study can be downloaded here) http://eubulletin.com/4144-the-nuclear-safety-framework-in-the-european-union-after-fukushima.html
After the Apocalypse: The anti-nuclear film that wasn’t, Nuclear Free by 2o45? by Dennis, 27 Feb 15
As the fourth anniversary of the earthquake-tsunami-meltdown syndrome approached, I looked back at an example of pro-nuclear spin that appeared in the media in the spring of 2011. Ironically, the pro-nuclear message discussed here is a film about the horrors of atomic weapon blasts in The Polygon, the sacrifice zone in Kazakhstan where the Soviet Union detonated hundreds of nuclear and thermonuclear bombs. I’m timing this article to also commemorate the birth of the Nevada-Semipalatinsk anti-nuclear movement which is marked every year in Kazakhstan on February 28th.
After the Apocalypse  is a one-hour documentary that takes place in Semipalatinsk, a town in north-eastern Kazakhstan where the USSR detonated 456 nuclear weapons, many of them large-yield megaton hydrogen bombs. The camera goes to radioactive craters where herders still take their animals to graze. It goes to a museum where the pickled corpses of deformed babies sit in jars. However, the horror show of the past is not the main attraction. The film concentrates on the fierce struggle that still goes on today over the reproductive rights of the Kazakhstan hibakusha. The director, Antony Butts, follows a pregnant woman, Bibigul, whose wide-set eyes suggest chromosome damage. She wants to give birth despite the protestations of Toleukhan Nurmagambetov, a doctor who talks of the deformed, and too often abandoned, babies in the region as “monsters.” Continue reading
UK backs £315m renewable energy projects Guardian, Fiona Harvey, 27 Feb 15, More than a dozen windfarms and five solar farms are among first projects to receive financial support under contracts for difference More than a dozen new onshore wind farms are to receive financial backing through the coalition government’s reformed renewable incentive scheme, along with two offshore wind projects and five solar farms.
The contracts for the new renewable energy projects amount to more than £315m in total, spread across five renewable technologies, and taken together should produce more than 2GW of new generation capacity, enough to power 1.4m homes.
But green campaigners and parts of the renewable energy industry were disappointed by the auction process used to award the contracts, arguing that some technologies and projects had lost out in the reforms……..
all the forms of renewables represented, apart from energy from waste, came in at substantially less than the strike price.
This was in marked contrast to the strike price for nuclear power, which will result in one nuclear reactor being built – at Hinckley in Somerset, by the French state-backed utility EDF – for £80bn calculated on the strike price alone. Solar power, which has seen costs plummet as worldwide use of panels has risen, settled for 58% lower, with offshore wind 18% and onshore wind 17% under their respective strike prices…….
In response to the first Contracts for Difference auctions for renewables, Greenpeace Chief Scientist Dr Doug Parr said: “Today’s announcements show renewables’ costs are plummeting, and will mount a growing challenge to conventional sources of power in delivering energy security for the UK.
“Those who say we should tackle climate change but are opposed to wind and solar farms need to explain how they plan to cut carbon emissions whilst keeping consumer bills as low as possible.
“We’ve known onshore wind is much cheaper than nuclear for a while, but now we learn that solar power is already cheaper than new gas generation in some cases. It makes you wonder what could have been achieved with less party-political manoeuvring and more stable Government support for the clean technologies already being embraced by the world’s largest economies.” http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/feb/26/uk-backs-315m-renewable-energy-projects
Switzerland becomes first country to submit Paris climate deal pledge, Guardian, Ed King, 27 Feb 15 Swiss government says it will cut greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2030 as part of a UN deal on global warming later this year, reports RTCC Switzerland has become the first country to formally communicate its contribution to a UN climate change deal: 50% greenhouse gas cuts on 1990 levels by 2030.
Released on Friday, the Swiss government says 30% of those cuts will be achieved within the country, with the remaining 20% through carbon markets or other forms of offsets.
“This objective of a 50% reduction in emissions reflects Switzerland’s responsibility for climate warming and the potential cost of emissions reduction measures in Switzerland and abroad over the 2020-2030 period,” says the Swiss communication.
“Switzerland, which is responsible for 0.1% of today’s global greenhouse gas emissions and, based on the structure of its economy, has a low level of emissions (6.4 tonnes per capita per year), will use emissions reduction measures abroad to reduce the cost of emissions reduction measures during the period 2020-2030.”……..
All major economies have been asked to submit their ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’ before 1 October this year, after which the UN will assess whether the world is on course to avoid dangerous levels of warming. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/feb/27/switzerland-becomes-first-country-to-submit-paris-climate-deal-pledge
The Siberian crater saga is more widespread — and scarier — than anyone thought WP, By Terrence McCoy February 26 In the middle of last summer came news of a bizarre occurrence no one could explain. Seemingly out of nowhere, a massive crater appeared in one of the planet’s most inhospitable lands. Early estimates said the crater, nestled in a land called “the ends of the Earth” where temperatures can sink far below zero, yawned nearly 100 feet in diameter.
The saga deepened. The Siberian crater wasn’t alone. There were two more, ratcheting up the tension in a drama that hit its climax as a probable explanation surfaced. Global warming had thawed the permafrost, which had caused methane trapped inside the icy ground to explode. “Gas pressure increased until it was high enough to push away the overlaying layers in a powerful injection, forming the crater,” one German scientist said at the time.
Now, however, researchers fear there are more craters than anyone knew — and the repercussions could be huge. Russian scientists have now spotted a total of seven craters, five of which are in the Yamal Peninsula. Two of those holes have since turned into lakes. And one giant crater is rimmed by a ring of at least 20 mini-craters, the Siberian Times reported. Dozens more Siberian craters are likely still out there, said Moscow scientist Vasily Bogoyavlensky of the Oil and Gas Research Institute, calling for an “urgent” investigation.
He fears that if temperatures continue to rise — and they were five degrees higher than average in 2012 and 2013 — more craters will emerge in an area awash in gas fields vital to the national economy. “It is important not to scare people, but to understand that it is a very serious problem and we must research this,” he told the Siberian Times. “… We must research this phenomenon urgently, to prevent possible disasters.”……..http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/02/26/the-siberian-crater-problem-is-more-widespread-and-scarier-than-anyone-thought/?tid=hpModule_9d3add6c-8a79-11e2-98d9-3012c1cd8d1e&hpid=z16
Former Japanese PM warns against Welsh nuclear site renewal By Daily Wales correspondent, 25 Feb 15
The former Prime Minister of Japan has used a visit to Wales to urge the UK Government to scrap its commitment to nuclear energy. He is using the tour to send out a message to the UK Government that the safety risks posed by nuclear energy are simply not worth taking.
“What occurred in Fukushima in 2011 was caused by humans, not a natural disaster. It is clear to me that what caused this catastrophe was our commitment to an unsafe and expensive technology that is not compatible with life on this planet.
“The only safe option when it comes to nuclear power is to abandon your plans for nuclear power. It simply is not worth the risk………
Mr Kan’s visit to Wales has been supported by Welsh anti-nuclear campaign group, People Against Wylfa B (PAWB), Friends of the Earth Cymru, CND Cymru and Welsh language campaign group, Cymdeithas yr Iaith.
Potential for transforming relationships with Iran, with nuclear talks, says EU Foreign-Policy Chief
Senior U.S. officials on Monday said there was progress during weekend discussions as Iran and the six powers—the U.S., France, Germany, the U.K., Russia and China—seek to agree on the framework of a final agreement by the end of March. The deadline for the full, detailed agreement is June 30.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said this week that the six powers should know soon whether a deal was attainable. However, officials have warned that significant gaps remain in the diplomacy, which aims to ensure Tehran can’t quickly amass enough material for a nuclear bomb in return for phasing out tough international sanctions.
Asked if she believed the two sides were coming close to a deal, Ms. Mogherini said, “Yes, we are getting close.”…..http://www.wsj.com/articles/iran-six-powers-near-nuclear-deal-1424975896
Overnight the EU released its target for greenhouse gas reductions ahead of a meeting later this year in Paris.
It’s committing to reducing emissions by at least 40 per cent over 1990 levels by 2030 as David Mark reports.
DAVID MARK: The US and China made some commitments to greenhouse gas reduction targets at the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) meeting in Brisbane last year.
DAVID MARK: The US and China made some commitments to greenhouse gas reduction targets at the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) meeting in Brisbane last year.
Now the EU has announced specific targets – its member countries will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2030 over 1990 levels……
European Commission Unveils Draft Energy Strategy, Renewable Energy World, David Appleyard, Contributing Editor February 25, 2015 LONDON — The European Commission has unveiled “A Framework Strategy for a Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy,” which is a key plank in the development of its plans for Europe’s energy sector through 2030.
The Framework Strategy broadly sets out five interrelated policies, and the steps to achieve its policy goals, including new legislation to redesign and overhaul the electricity market, substantially developing regional cooperation and an integrated market, and with a stronger regulated framework.
Among the measures designed to engender a unified, clean and sustainable European energy sector, the Commission has revealed that it will propose a new Renewable Energy Package in 2016-2017 to include a new policy for sustainable biomass and biofuels, as well as legislation to ensure that the 2030EU target of at least 27 percent of EU energy to come from renewables is met cost-effectively.
In a Communication to the European Parliament, the European Council, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions and the European Investment Bank, the Commission noted that the European Union is committed to becoming the world leader in renewable energy.
However, the document also concedes that to achieve the 27 percent target new challenges must be addressed including developing appropriate energy markets and transmission and distribution infrastructure.
“Existing legislation and new market rules need to be fully implemented, enabling the roll-out of new technologies smart grids and demand response for an efficient energy transition,” the Commission says, adding that renewable production needs to be supported through market-based schemes that address market failures, ensure cost effectiveness and avoid over-compensation or distortion………
Summing up, Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), observed that the EU’s draft Energy Union document shows the intention to switch the EU’s electricity supply system to a “flexible, smart low-carbon grid.”
Black says: “The EU’s draft international climate pledge doesn’t contain any surprises — essentially it is taking what EU governments decided to do back in October and putting that package of measures and targets forward into the UN climate convention.
“The Energy Union proposals are a bit more interesting and show that in principle the EU doesn’t want to continue with an electricity system dominated by fossil fuels, but switch to the kind of flexible smart low-carbon grid being pioneered in Germany, which should lead to a cheaper and more secure system that’s less dependent on Russia.” http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2015/02/european-commission-unveils-draft-energy-strategy
The prince was speaking to health professionals, health ministers and senior civil servants about “putting health at the centre of the climate change debate”.
He said climate change was a challenge of “astonishing complexity” and urged health practitioners to be bolder about highlighting its effects on well-being.
He said: “I hardly need to tell you we are faced, I fear, as far as the problem of human-induced climate change is concerned, with a challenge of astonishing complexity.
“The fact of climate change is now accepted by every major scientific body in the whole world.
“The gravity and immediacy of the threat it poses to us and our children and grandchildren is also accepted by constituencies that can scarcely be accused of being part of some half-baked conspiracy dreamt up by extreme environmentalists intent on undermining capitalism.
“These constituencies include the UN, the World Bank; The Pentagon and the UK Ministry of Defence, the CIA, NSA. … and, I’m happy to say, nurses and doctors.”
The prince added: “Your message isn’t just of alarm, but of hope.
“Actions which are good for the planet are also good for human health……….. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/feb/26/planet-earth-is-a-sick-patient-due-to-climate-change-says-prince-charles
One of the world’s most iconic sites has become the latest high profile venue to embrace renewable energy, after the installation of two vertical axis wind turbines as part of the Eiffel tower’s high profile renovation project….
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