Nuclear futures: renewables blossom in Germany’s post-nuclear vision .http://theconversation.com/nuclear-futures-renewables-blossom-in-germanys-post-nuclear-vision-14364 Erik Gawel, Sebastian Strunz 22 May 2013, When the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan was hit by a tsunami in March 2011, the disaster had a profound effect on German energy policy. Chancellor Angela Merkel reasoned that “Fukushima has forever changed the way we define risk in Germany.”
Three days after the news of meltdown in three of Fukushima’s reactors, Chancellor Merkel drew a line under German nuclear power. The seven oldest nuclear power plants in Germany were immediately taken off the grid, and two months later the government made this permanent. The remaining German nuclear power plants, it was decided, would be shut down by 2022.
This decision was a spectacular policy U-turn, as the same conservative government had only recently overturned an earlier attempt to ban nuclear power in Germany. In 2010, Chancellor Merkel’s coalition had argued that nuclear power was a “bridge technology” ecessary to pave the way towards a carbon-free energy system. The prolonged use of nuclear power would be indispensable in order to guarantee security of supply, it was claimed.
This raises two questions: did removing seven power plants endanger the security of supply to the German national grid? And what convincing long-term strategy is there in place to manage the shift to carbon-free energy without nuclear power? Read more »
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
Siemens: Europe can save €45bn by optimising renewable energy generation 22 May 2013 http://www.renewableenergyfocus.com/view/32558/siemens-europe-can-save-45bn-by-optimising-renewable-energy-generation/ Siemens – which is hosting six Round Table discussions around the globe to discuss levers for optimising energy systems worldwide – says if regional characteristics were given higher priority when investments were made in renewable energy installations, Europe could save billions of Euros. The European energy system is inefficient to the point of damaging the continent’s competitiveness, it adds.
The company estimates that building and expanding renewable energy installations in the wrong locations is costing Europe around €45bn in unnecessary investment - the preliminary findings come via an ongoing studySiemens is conducting with the Technical University of Munich to examine energy systems worldwide. Significantly, the €45bn figure includes associated extension of the power grid.
In Germany alone, the potential savings are possible on a magnitude of 4-5 times the annual investment in solar and wind power plant construction, the firm says. The crux, according to Siemens, lies in the choice of location: installations must be built at the sites in Europe that offer the highest power yields. Read more »
Germany Continues to Export Power Despite Nuclear Exit http://climatecrocks.com/2013/05/21/germany-continues-to-export-power-despite-nuclear-exit/ Climate Denial Crock of the Week with Peter Sinclair May 21, 2013
FRANKFURT–Germany exported more electricity than it imported for the seventh consecutive year in 2012, despite an accelerated exit from nuclear-power generation that included the immediate and permanent shut-down of nearly half of the country’s atomic reactors in 2011.
Germany exported about 22.8 terrawatt-hours of electricity more than it imported in 2012, the Federal Statistics Office, Destatis, said Tuesday in a written statement.
The main destinations for German-produced electricity were the Netherlands, Switzerland and Austria, said the statistics office, citing data supplied by Germany’s four power transmission grid operators. The main sources of power imports into Germany were France, Denmark and the Czech Republic, it said.
The statistics office didn’t provide any reasons for the continued power exports, despite the fact that Germany shut down eight of 17 nuclear reactors in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan in March 2011.
The rapid expansion of solar- and wind-power installations are seen as the main reason for continued German electricity exports, as well as the erosion of wholesale power prices under which many of Europe’s utilities are presently suffering.
French nuclear plant research to include heatwave, tsunami analysis, http://www.platts.com/RSSFeedDetailedNews/RSSFeed/ElectricPower/26951912 Robin Sayles, newsdesk@platts
France is to invest Eur50 million ($64.2 million) in nuclear safety projects, taking into account knowledge gained from the Fukushima disaster in 2011, caused by an earthquake and huge tsunami.
In a document published late Friday, France’s energy ministry said it has selected over 20 research projects, ranging from operations management studies to disaster impact and radiation risk analyses.
Two of the accepted research projects are to analyze the risks of climate change and extreme weather occurrences. The SEEN project aims to “estimate the current and future climate risks for nuclear power production better,” including heatwaves, droughts and torrential downpours, the government said.
France’s 58 nuclear power reactors, operated by state-owned EDF, rely on river or sea water for cooling purposes.
Sustained hot and dry periods can prompt reactor shutdowns as water temperatures rise, while stormy weather can also release debris into rivers, such as tree branches, which must be filtered before the water is deemed safe for use.
The TANDEM project is to study the impact on France’s coastline of tidal waves, in particular the Atlantic and English Channel, where many of France’s nuclear power plants are situated.
The government did not give the specific leaders of the projects, but it has previously said that the projects would be carried out by academic and state-run nuclear bodies such as IRSN, the national radiological risk body.
Following the Fukushima disaster in 2011, EDF committed to carry out extra safety work recommended by nuclear watchdog ASN, which it said would cost around Eur10 billion.
Klaus-Günter Warnecke, the mayor of Remlingen, has been monitoring progress at the Asse nuclear waste site for nearly 20 years. Recent local media reports say he may have to wait another 20 years before the clearance of the site begins.
Living above Germany’s old nuclear waste, DW, 20 May 13, A German law has recently come into effect ordering the cleanup of 126,000 barrels of radioactive waste at the Asse nuclear dump site. But it seems the process could take a lot longer than locals initially hoped for….. Heike Wiegel is not just a resident here, she’s also a member of the citizen group ‘aufpASSEn’ – meaning ‘watch out’ in German – which helps raise awareness about issues from the Asse nuclear waste site.
There are a number of other anti-Asse groups in the region. Now, with the law ordering the removal of waste from the site, they want to make sure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated.
“What happened back then at the Asse site should never have happened,” Wiegel says after a long pause. “That such an old, unstable salt mine would be used for nuclear waste, which, in the end, was just thrown in barrel by barrel.” Read more »
Germany grapples with nuclear energy phaseout The Local Germany’s energy transition project – in which nuclear power will be phased out and replaced with energy from renewable sources – is facing the challenges of cheap coal, unresolved energy storage and an out-of-date electricity grid. 20 May 13 “…The hard-to-predict flow of renewable energies compared to fossil or nuclear power is one of the many challenges of the energy transition which Chancellor Angela Merkel rang in following Japan’s 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
The goal is to be nuclear-free by 2022 and to combat pollution and climate change by boosting the share of clean and safe renewables to 80 percent by 2050.
Across Germany, solar panels, made popular by state subsidies and falling unit prices, now cover many home roofs and stretches of farmland.
New laws have allowed home owners to sell excess power back into the grid, while other incentives promote home insulation and other efficiency gains.
Germany’s solar power capacity has risen exponentially to reach a current level of about 30 gigawatts. Another 25 to 30 gigawatts come from wind farms across vast
stretches of Germany’s flat, coastal north and offshore parks in the North and Baltic seas.
Merkel, a physicist by training, said last week that, under optimal conditions, the total now falls just shy of Germany’s usual demand of 65 to 70 gigawatts Read more »
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
Fife Christmas Island veteran vows to fight on with campaign http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/local/fife/fife-christmas-island-veteran-vows-to-fight-on-with-campaign-1.91551 By MICHAEL ALEXANDER, 9 May 2013
A Fife Christmas Island veteran who recently won a legal fight against the Ministry of Defence (MoD), has vowed to continue his fight for “the truth”, despite 12 ex-servicemen losing their appeal to be granted a war pension.
Dave Whyte, 76, of Kirkcaldy, told The Courier that, thanks to his recent freedom of information victory over the MoD, he can now “prove beyond doubt” that he was exposed to massive levels of unsafe radiation following the British nuclear tests carried out in the 1950s.He remains adamant the whole situation is a “cover up” by the MoD to protect the civilian nuclear industry.
Mr Whyte took the MoD to court last year for refusing to supply him with information about radiation levels he and thousands of veterans were exposed to while serving in the armed forces. Read more »
Ship with radioactive cargo gutted by fire in Hamburg harbour http://indymedia.org.au/2013/05/18/ship-with-radioactive-cargo-gutted-by-fire-in-hamburg-harbour , 17 May 2013 – - A freighter which burned spectacularly in Hamburg harbour had highly dangerous radioactive substances aboard.
The north German city-state’s social democrat government only today released details of the fire on 1 May because the opposition Greens had put a question on notice.
As well as 8.9 tonnes of uranium hexafluoride the “Atlantic Cartier” also had some 180 tonnes of highly flammable ethanol, several tonnes of explosives, including munitions, and rocket fuel on board.
The highly toxic uranium hexafluofide is a compound used in centrifuges and other plants to enrich uranium. An area contaminated with it would be uninhabitable for a very long time. Read more »
Belgium may face legal battle after 2 nuclear reactors get green light Euro News, 19 May 13 Greenpeace are threatening to sue the Belgian government. The leading environmental activist network is threatening legal action after Belgium’s nuclear safety regulator gave the green light to GDF Suez to go ahead and restart two nuclear reactors.
However, during a news conference, the Belgian Interior Minister, Joelle Milquet claimed that the government does not have the
power to block the move….. Last year two nuclear reactors were closed after safety concerns were flagged up in their their tanks, during an ultrasound check.
Greenpeace says it is the government’s responsibility to guarantee the safety of the Belgian people.
“We will summon the government for the lack of decent emergency plan and at the same time they increase the risks of a nuclear accident,” says Greenpeace Belgium energy campaigner Eloi Glorieux.http://www.euronews.com/2013/05/17/belgium-may-face-legal-battle-after-2-nuclear-reactors-get-green-light/
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 »
EDF Slumps After Nuclear Price Concerns Trigger Stock Downgrade http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-05-16/edf-slumps-after-nuclear-price-concerns-trigger-stock-downgrade.html By Tara Patel – May 16, 2013
Electricite de France SA, Europe’s biggest power producer, fell the most in five months in Paris.
trading after Bank of America Corp. cut its rating on the stock on concern earnings from nuclear generation will fall short.
EDF (EDF) fell as much as 5.5 percent, the biggest intraday decline since Nov. 29, and was down 4.8 percent at 17.265 euros as of 4:39 p.m. local time. The French government, which controls Paris-based EDF, is due to set wholesale prices for the company’s atomic power by the end of the year as the utility pushes for higher rates to help finance investments and cover costs. The tariff “could disappoint investors,” Arnaud Joan, an analyst at Bank of America in London, wrote in a report published today. Read more »
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
it would be wise to stop making the stuff
France Starts Public Debate on Underground Nuclear Waste Site http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-05-15/france-starts-public-debate-on-underground-nuclear-waste-site.html By Tara Patel - May 15, 2013 France has started a public inquiry into a plan to build a nuclear waste repository to be buried half a kilometer under the northeastern countryside.
A series of public meetings will be held through Oct. 15, according to the inquiry’s website, and the government and regulators will consider the outcome when they decide whether to approve the site.
If approved, the Cigeo project will store highly radioactive waste from Electricite de France SA’s 58 reactors in a site near Bure that straddles the Meuse and Haute-Marne regions. Andra, the waste-management agency spearheading the plan, wants to start construction in 2019 and begin operations in 2025.
The facility will cost 13.5 billion euros ($17.4 billion) to 16.5 billion euros for construction and operation over 100 years, according to Andra’s website.
The inquiry is “a masquerade and pure exercise in public relations,” anti-nuclear group Sortir du Nucleaire said yesterday in a statement. No one can guarantee the safety of the site for such a long period, it said.
EDF now stores waste at reactor sites and at above-ground facilities at La Hague in northern France. Sweden and Finland are also developing deep repositories after the European Union established nuclear waste disposal standards in 2011.
Under French law, nuclear operators including EDF and Areva SA (AREVA) have to build portfolios or amass funds to pay for the decommissioning of reactors and radioactive waste storage.
A parliamentary report published last year concluded operators may not be setting aside enough money. Cost estimates for the Cigeo site vary from 14.4 billion euros to 35 billion euros, that report said.
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