nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Torness nuclear power station has radiation leak

Radiation leak at Torness nuclear power station, Herald Scotland Rob Edwards Sunday 29 March 2015 An investigation is under way after a radiation leaked at the Torness nuclear power station in East Lothian, the Sunday Herald can reveal. According to the French state company that runs Torness, EDF Energy, radioactive tritium was discovered in water contained in part of the power station’s drainage system. The discovery was immediately reported to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) and the UK government’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR)……

Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, warned that Torness was “well into middle age and the cracks are literally beginning to show”.

He said: “This is the latest in a series of problems at Scotland’s two nuclear stations and shows that regulators need to be very vigilant if we are to avoid a serious release of radioactivity to the local environment while these plants continue to operate.”

The local liaison committee was told that reactors at Torness had to be unexpectedly shut down four times in 2014 because of a series of equipment faults. EDF Energy also operates a 39-year-old nuclear power station at Hunterston in North Ayrshire, where cracks and breakdowns were reported in October 2014.

Jason Rose, Scottish Green candidate for MP in East Lothian, thought that the number of leaks and shutdowns showed that Torness was well past its prime. “Those of us who have to live with a nuclear plant on our doorstep need assurances from EDF that more effort will be made to prevent these sorts of serious incidents,” he said.

“I remain extremely concerned that there will be no public scrutiny of plans to extend the operating life of the plant, and no effort by local or national government to prepare a smooth transition for workers and the economy. Local people should have a say in what happens next at Torness.”……http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/environment/investigation-under-way-into-radiation-leak-at-torness-nuclear-power-station.121878992

March 30, 2015 Posted by | incidents, UK | Leave a comment

UK’s official data show how renewable energy has overtaken nuclear

sun-championflag-UKUK: Solar grows 93% in 2014 as renewables overtake nuclearhttp://www.pv-magazine.com/news/details/beitrag/uk–solar-grows-93-in-2014-as-renewables-overtake-nuclear_100018792/#axzz3VWyAXbwj Renewable energy generated 19.2% of the U.K.’s electricity in 2014, government figures show, surpassing nuclear generation for the first time ever

Official data from the U.K. government has confirmed that renewable energy contributed more to the grid than nuclear power for the first time ever in 2014.

The statistics show that renewables accounted for 19.2% of electricity generation last year, ahead of nuclear power, which generated 19% of the country’s electricity.

Total renewable electricity capacity at the end of the year stood at 24.2 GW, which was 4.5 GW – or 23% – more than a year previously.

Although solar PV’s share of renewable generation was a mere 6%, the industry’s participation in electricity generation grew a massive 93% last year, boosted by the 2.8 GW of solar PV capacity added over the course of 2014. Solar PV powered 3.9 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity. No other renewable energy source grew as fast. Continue reading

March 27, 2015 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

50% of power from renewables in Scotland 2014

renewable_energyScotland: 50% powered by renewables in 2014 http://www.edie.net/news/6/Scotland–50–powered-by-renewables/ 26 March 2015, source edie newsroom Lucinda Dann
Scotland has met its 50% renewable electricity target a year ahead of schedule after a surge of 11.7% in the past year alone.

Figures published today (26 March) by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) for renewable energy generation in 2014 reveal that 49.6% of gross electricity consumption came from renewable sources in Scotland last year – an increase from 44.4% in 2013.

The figures show that renewables generated 32% more electricity than any other single source of power in Scotland.

In total, the renewables sector generated a record 10.3TWh, compared to 7.8TWh2 from nuclear generation – previously Scotland’s main source of electricity. The figures also show that coal and gas-fired electricity generation produced 5.6TWh and 1.4TWh respectively over the same six-month period.  Historic  Wind made the most significant contribution to the total with 11,592 GWh, up 4% from 2013, and making it another record breaking year for wind. Bioenergy saw the biggest increase in output – rising 11.7% in the last year.

Scottish Renewables chief executive Niall Stuart said: “The announcement that renewables have become Scotland’s main source of electricity is historic news for our country, and shows the investment made in the sector is helping to deliver more power than ever before to our homes and businesses.

“Every unit of power generated from renewables means less carbon emitted from the burning of fossil fuels, decreases our reliance on imported energy and supports jobs and investment in communities across Scotland.”

Top priority  Energy Minister Fergus Ewing added: “2014 was also another record breaking year for wind output and the Scottish Government remains committed to continuing this upward trend. The recent independent survey by YouGov shows further support for the development of wind power, with an increase to 71 per cent in public backing.

“The Scottish Government has made its energy policy a top priority and has achieved great progress, despite being limited in terms of its devolved responsibilities. We look forward to proposals for more powers encompassing the necessary levers to deliver Scottish priorities.”

WWF Scotland said that for Scotland to meet its next renewable target in 2020, the offshore wind sector would have a major role to play.

WWF Scotland’s head of policy Dr Sam Gardner said: “To ensure the continued growth of this industry, attract supply chain investment, and continue to bring down costs, the next UK Government must provide a stable and sustained funding pipeline for offshore wind and clear volume signals in the 2020s.”

Scotland is significantly ahead of the rest of the UK, where renewables still only account for a fifth of all UK electricity. However this increase in greener energy generation has still contributed to an 8% drop in total emissions.

March 27, 2015 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

Copper Consultancy PR firm helps UK govt to undemocratic management of nuclear wastes

Whose idea was it to scrap democracy in order to dump nuclear wastes? https://mariannewildart.wordpress.com/2015/03/23/whose-idea-was-it-to-scrap-democracy-in-order-to-dump-nuclear-wastes/ Radiation Free Lakeland and others are asking: Just whose idea was it to plan to scrap democracy in order to dump nuclear wastes? Was the bright idea given to Government by the PR firm Copper Consulting?

Copper Consultancy a PR firm with offices in London, Bristol, Suffolk and most recently Cumbria, told the Department of Energy and Climate Change that: “allowing local authorities to determine the outcome of a process which is designed to deliver a national Government policy may not be the most appropriate route.”   This piece of work is a response to Cumbria County Council and the majority of Parish Councils’ saying no to geological disposal of nuclear wastes.

In their blog Copper Consulting go on to say that: “local authorities are consultees rather than decision makers. The final revolving-door1decision rests with the Planning Inspectorate and the Secretary of State. A logical conclusion might therefore be to classify the GDF as an NSIP”

There has always been a suspicion that nuclear is a PR strategy rather than an energy strategy, now we have proof. There is a revolving door between the NDA and Copper Consultancy a PR firm. Ivan Stone who was Executive Director of Copper Consultancy is now the Stakeholder Engagement and Communications Director – of the NDA/RWM (Radioactive Waste Management – a new arm of NDA) Copper Consultancy have also just been awarded the PR job of selling newnuclear build and new nuclear wastes at Moorside to the public. Continue reading

March 25, 2015 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Small Nuclear Reactors turn out to have an equally Big Radioactive Waste problem

flag-UK1. Small Reactors and the UK’s Long-Term Nuclear Strategy. nuClear News, March 2015 “……Waste Implications The Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) has looked at the waste implications of a 75GW programme [ i.e Small Modular Reactor or PRISM] which would be equivalent to a programme of over 50 new large-scale reactors.
wastes-1It said that since the Government has, so far, been mainly talking about the waste inventory from only a 16GW nuclear new build programme, it should consider defining a maximum size for a deep geological facility (GDF) and make clear that we might need multiple GDFs. (15)
The Environment Agency (EA) has already set a limit on the risk that may be caused by the burial of radioactive wastes of 10-6 (i.e. one in a million). (16) Figures from the NDA Disposability Assessment Report for waste arising from new EPR reactors (17) suggest that a programme equivalent to 50 large reactors would require around four GDFs.1
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has built up a momentum for SMRs by throwing hundreds of millions of dollars in cost-shared funding to jump-start the industry…..
text-SMRsfirst someone needs to build a massive supply chain. Money for that would presumably come from customer orders – if there were any. The problem is it appears that no one actually wants to buy one
So what are prospects for small reactors, both in the UK and globally? Former CoRWM Chair, Professor Gordon Mackerron says no SMR (properly defined) has yet been commercialised anywhere in the world, and work on them has been waning because the developers cannot find a market. This is unsurprising as their cost per unit of output is higher than the already expensive conventional, larger reactors, unless hundreds can be sold to give manufacturing economies……http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo72.pdf

March 22, 2015 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Scotland’s influence on UK decisions on Trident nuclear fleet

flag-ScotlandScottish Party May Prove Crucial to Future of Britain’s Nuclear Fleet  NYT, By  MARCH 21, 2015 “…….Scotland’s growing political importance has made the future of the nuclear arsenal an issue in Britain’s general election campaign, intensifying debate over whether the country can afford its nuclear deterrent, a quarter-century after the end of the Cold War.

That question is being asked because of the surging popularity of the Scottish National Party, which stands to the left of the opposition Labour Party and has promised to rid Scotland of nuclear weapons, putting it at odds with both Labour and the Conservative-led government.

Despite losing its bid last year for Scotland to win independence from Britain, the Scottish National Party has gained strength in the polls and could tilt the balance of power if, as happened in the last national election in 2010, neither Labour nor the Conservatives win an outright majority in Parliament in the voting on May 7.

Should Labour win the opportunity to form a government and turn to the Scottish National Party for support — a prospect analysts say is very real despite a Labour promise not to enter a formal coalition with the party — the question of abandoning the Trident missile system, moving the fleet from Scotland, or at least delaying an expensive modernization program would be on the table……..

The politics of Scotland is now crucial to the future of Britain’s nuclear deterrent. Angus Robertson, the Scottish National Party’s defense spokesman, said that Faslane is a symbol of how Scottish views on Trident have been “totally ignored” and that “repeated British governments have made decisions over the heads of people in Scotland.”

Mr. Robertson said the proximity of Faslane to Glasgow, less than 40 miles away, makes Scotland’s largest population center a target for any enemy attack, fueling hostility to nuclear weapons. “There is overwhelming public opposition,” he said, citing stances taken by activists, churches and labor unions, among others………http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/22/world/europe/scottish-party-may-prove-crucial-to-future-of-britains-nuclear-fleet.html

March 22, 2015 Posted by | UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Cost of Small Nuclear Reactors is greater than cost of large ones

1. Small Reactors and the UK’s Long-Term Nuclear Strategy. nuClear News, March 2015  “……..A recent House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee investigation into small reactors looked at SMRs but also PRISM reactors – 311MW sodium-cooled fast reactors being promoted as a way of using up the plutonium stockpile at Sellafield – and reactors fuelled by thorium rather than uranium. Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) SMR proponents suggest that mass production of modular reactors could reduce costs, but others agree that SMRs are likely to have higher costs per unit of output than conventional reactors. (5) Even if SMRs could eventually be more cost-effective than larger reactors due to mass production, this advantage would only come into play if large numbers of SMRs were ordered. But utilities are unlikely to order an SMR until they are seen to produce competitively priced electricity. This Catch-22 suggests the technology will require significant government financial help to get off the ground.
smr-aUSTRALIA-copy
The Washington-based Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) says mass production could create new reliability vulnerabilities – if one reactor is discovered to have a fault, all other reactors manufactured in the same facility are likely to have the same fault, so all would have to be taken off-line at the same time. Millions of cars, presumably made to high quality control standards, for instance, are routinely recalled. Additionally IEER has serious concerns in relation to both safety and proliferation. (6) By spreading SMRs around the globe we will increase the proliferation risk because safeguarding spent fuel from numerous small reactors would be a much more complex task than safeguarding fewer large reactors. (7)…….
None of the designs, including the most credible, which are based on scaled-down versions of currently deployed PWR technology, is yet ready. NNL speaks of ‘detailed technical challenges’ not yet resolved. It is therefore no surprise that no-one has yet built a single SMR let alone made a commitment to building the large numbers that would be needed to make the economic case remotely credible. And the safety licensing process that will need to follow design completion would, according to the Chief UK nuclear inspector, take up to 6 years in the UK.
The cost of SMRs is essentially unknowable at the moment, but there is evidence to suggest they will be even more expensive than existing reactors…..

March 22, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, politics, Reference, UK | Leave a comment

In just one year, Sellafield nuclear clean-up bill jumps an extra £5bn

Cost of nuclear clean up at Sellafield increased an extra £5bn in the past year Chronicle Live UK By   15 Mar 15 The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has been slammed by MPs for the ever-increasing costs at the site in Cumbria Constantly increasing costs for the clean up of Sellafield are Britain’s bill for the Cold War, an MP has claimed.

This week MPs launched a fresh attack against the rising cost and delays of decommissioning and cleaning up the Sellafield nuclear site.

Leading figures from the nuclear industry were questioned by the Public Accounts Committee following the revelation that the expected costs have increased by £5 billion in a year, to £53 billion.

In a recent progress report on the work, the National Audit Office (NAO) criticised the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which oversees the plant, for delays in cancelling a clean-up contract with the consortium Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) after demands from MPs a year ago to do so.

The report said the contract was terminated only last month, at a cost to the taxpayer of £430,000 in cancellation fees.

  • The site is used to store nuclear material from across the UK and was the host of a facility which secretly produced nuclear materials for the UK’s defence programme during the Cold War which was finally demolished in 2014……..

Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who chairs the committee, described the rise as “astonishing” and repeated her criticism during a hearing on Wednesday.

Delays had increased by 86 months since September 2013, while costs were going up by billions of pounds, she said…..

She said she was struck by the “unpredictable massive burden on future generations”, telling the nuclear industry officials it was a good idea to have strong targets and ambitions……..http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/cost-nuclear-clean-up-sellafield-8838478

March 16, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, decommission reactor, politics, UK | Leave a comment

UK Labour thinking about having fewer nuclear submarines

LABOUR ‘PONDERS FEWER NUCLEAR SUBS‘, Herald Scotland, 15 March 2015 A Labour government would consider if one submarine fewer could be used to provide Britain’s nuclear deterrent, Ed Balls has said……..

The SNP is committed to scrapping the nuclear weapons system, with the issue proving a major election issue north of the border.

Labour’s support for maintaining the nuclear deterrent could be a stumbling block to any post-election deal with the SNP.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Pienaar’s Politics, Mr Balls reiterated Labour’s commitment to providing Trident while offering the greatest value for money…..

In a statement, SNP MSP Bill Kidd said: “One submarine armed with Trident nuclear weapons of mass destruction is one too many – and a recent New Statesman survey showed three quarters of Labour’s Westminster candidates agree as they don’t support Trident renewal.

“An absolute priority for a strong team of SNP MPs at Westminster will be to use their clout to make sure that we don’t waste £100 billion on putting a new generation of nuclear weapons on the River Clyde – with the money saved invested in health, education and childcare.” http://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/scottish-politics/labour-ponders-fewer-nuclear-subs.120693836

March 16, 2015 Posted by | UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Unsafety for workers decommissioning Dounreay nuclear power station.

Nuclear waste workers at Dounreay power station fear for their safety Decommissioning staff, hit by injuries and concerned about equipment, express ‘no confidence’ in management  Independent UK, MARK LEFTLY Author Biography SUNDAY 15 MARCH 2015  THE DECOMMISSIONING OF ONE OF THE UK’S MOST SIGNIFICANT NUCLEAR POWER STATIONS HAS RUN INTO SERIOUS PROBLEMS AFTER WORKERS RESPONSIBLE FOR DISPOSING OF RADIOACTIVE WASTE ACCUSED THEIR MANAGERS OF FAILING TO KEEP THEM SAFE.

Staff at Dounreay, on Scotland’s northern coast, have written to the site’s managing director, Mark Rouse, to raise concerns about decommissioning process.

The letter, seen by The Independent on Sunday, says workers have reported an “increasing number of injuries” and have “serious concerns” about the quality of new protective suits and other safety equipment. And they have “no confidence in senior management”.

The letter was sent to Mr Rouse last November, six weeks after a fire at the plant resulted in a serious radioactive leak. Staff warn that the situation at Dounreay is now similar to that of the mid-1990s, when a major safety audit had to be carried out.

Later this week Mr Rouse and a senior executive from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) will address the Dounreay Stakeholder Group, but the problems will add to growing concerns around the UK’s multi-billion pound nuclear clean-up industry. Earlier this month, the National Audit Office reported that the cost of decommissioning and cleaning up the Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria has increased by £5bn to £53bn. The private sector consortium responsible for Sellafield was sacked in January.

In September, it emerged that the overall cost of cleaning up Britain’s toxic nuclear sites has risen by £6bn, from an estimated £63bn over the next century to £69bn. The Government and regulators have been accused of “incompetence”…..

The workers’ letter claims that the focus on delivery has been “at the expense of safe processes and practices on health, safety and welfare”…….http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/nuclear-waste-workers-at-dounreay-power-station-fear-for-their-safety-10108715.html

March 16, 2015 Posted by | employment, UK | Leave a comment

Web traffic for the UK’s nuclear weapons agency routed through Russian telecom by error

A network error routed traffic for the UK’s nuclear weapons agency through Russian telecom, The Verge By Russell Brandom March 13, 2015 
For the past week, something strange has been going on in the European internet. For five days, web traffic from Texas to certain addresses in the UK has been routed through Ukrainian and Russian telecoms, taking a detour thousands of miles out of the way. Network traffic often takes a circuitous route as a result of network congestion or interconnection difficulties, but neither one would be enough to account for these routes. Instead, this was the result of a bad route announced by Ukraine’s Vega telecom, inserting itself in between. “At this point, I have to believe this was an innocent mistake by Vega,” said Dyn’s Doug Madory, who first discovered the redirection, “but it’s concerning nonetheless.”
This phenomenon is known as “route hijacking,” and it’s a common security concern for network engineers and security researchers alike. It’s particularly disconcerting because of the sensitive nature of many of the sites involved. Among the dozens of sites involved was the UK’s Atomic Weapons Establishment, which is tasked with managing and delivering the UK’s nuclear warheads, ……..

It’s still likely that the redirection was simply an innocent error, but it underscores the insecure nature of the global routing system. While much of the web has grown more wary of digital attack, routing is still based on trust, with networks freely announcing routes and friendly telecoms adopting them as a matter of habit. As a result, inefficient and potentially insecure routes like this one can linger for days without being corrected, without the parties involved ever being aware of them.

The full traceroute is below, with the Ukrainian telecom visible at line 11 and Russian interconnection at 12 and 13:…..http://www.theverge.com/2015/3/13/8208413/uk-nuclear-weapons-russia-traffic-redirect

March 14, 2015 Posted by | incidents, UK | Leave a comment

Hinkley Nuclear Power Plant – Game Over?

Hinkley-nuclear-power-plantflag-UKHinkley Point: the Beginning of the End, Jonathon Porritt, 11 Mar 15  I’ve always said that the two proposed new reactors at Hinkley Point would never get built. Now I’m not just saying it: I’m absolutely convinced that they’ll never get built.

A couple of weeks ago, EdF formally confirmed that no decision would be taken on Hinkley Point before the General Election, and probably not before the end of the year. The reason it gave was that: “We are in the final phase of negotiations, but that phase can take a considerable amount of time, depending on the number of problems left to resolve.”

And that list of problems is daunting. First, it needs to be able to sign final deals with co-investors, including the Chinese, who are beginning to cut up rough; then it needs final confirmation from the European Commission and the UK Government for a whole load of issues regarding the waste transfer contract; it needs to finalise a £10bn loan guarantee from the Treasury; and, despite months of discussions, it needs to conclude negotiations with the UK Government regarding the subsidy contract.

protest-Hinkley-C

You’ll notice that this list does not include any delays that may be caused by the Austrian Government challenging the EU’s decision to approve as ‘legal’ (within the EU’s state aid rules) the billions of pounds of subsidy that the UK Government will pump into the project. EdF doesn’t talk about that, as it still hopes that the Austrians will be ‘persuaded’ by the UK Government to withdraw its challenge.

And the UK Government is certainly intent on doing exactly that. Over the last few months, details have been trickling out about the retaliatory measures UK Ministers are now threatening in a demonstration of state bullying that beggars belief. A leaked memo showed UK ministers asserting that “the UK will take every opportunity to sue or damage Austria in the future.”

Which shows just how desperate the Coalition Government has become, having put all its notionally ‘low carbon’ eggs in the nuclear basket – a decision that has forced ministers to go to extraordinary lengths to get the Hinkley Point project over the line. Influential commentator Dr Philip Johnstone, Research Fellow at the Science Policy Research Unit, put it as follows:

“Every wish of the nuclear industry has been granted by the UK Government. The British planning system has been ‘streamlined’, with nuclear a key inspiration of the need to speed things up. The Government has created one of the best institutional contexts in the world for developing nuclear, with a new Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Office for Nuclear Development, and has ensured that nuclear regulators are equipped to pre-license designs for new build. As well as this, a strategic siting assessment and environmental assessment were carried out, further ‘streamlining’ the process of new nuclear construction. Electricity Market Reform has been brought in, where, despite being a mature technology, nuclear was granted Contracts for Difference at double the current market rate for the next 35 years.”

But none of that cuts much ice with the Austrians, and if their challenge proceeds, nobody quite knows how long a delay that might entail. It will certainly be years, not months……..

All this chaos and confusion must surely mean that, post Election, we might at last be able to get back to a serious debate about energy policy here in the UK, without Hinkley Point distorting every single aspect of today’s Electricity Market Reform, shadowing out every single policy alternative, and holding back the mindset andbehavioural revolutions amongst both business and the general public on which our energy future really depends.

We’ve already paid a very significant price for Labour’s sad surrender to the seductive lies of the nuclear industry, and for this Coalition Government’s near-incomprehensible decision to pursue the EPR reactor design for Hinkley Point. Between them, they’ve dug a hole already so deep that they have no idea what to do other than to keep on digging.

So let’s just hope that those Austrians stick to their guns with their legal challenge, for this is by far the longest and by far the most robust rope-ladder up which those benighted politicians – and ever-more benighted pro-nuclear greenies – will soon – ever so thankfully – be able to climb. http://www.jonathonporritt.com/blog/hinkley-point-beginning-end

March 11, 2015 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

You mustn’t criticise the nuclear industry in Cumbria

see-no-evilflag-UKArnie Gundersen and Dr Ian Fairlie Banned from Keswick School https://mariannewildart.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/arnie-gundersen-and-dr-ian-fairlie-banned-from-keswick-school/

March 10, 2015 Posted by | civil liberties, UK | 1 Comment

Increasing number of nuclear safety incidents at Britain’s top secret Trident nuclear submarine base,

safety-symbol-Smflag-UKMore than 450 nuclear safety incidents reported at Britain’s Royal Navy submarine base  Mirror,  2 March 2015 By  The incidents took place between 2008/09 and 2013/14 at Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde, where the country’s nuclear armed Trident subs are housed

More than 450 “shocking” nuclear safety incidents have been reported at Britain’s top secret Trident nuclear submarine base, new figures show.

Up to 451 safety incidents happened between 2008/ 9 and 2013/14, which involved at least 71 fires and major equipment failures at the Faslane base.

In the last year alone the number of accidents has almost doubled from 68 in 2012/13 to 107 in the following year 2013/14.

The incidents happened at Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde, where Britain’s shadowy nuclear armed Trident submarines are based……. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/more-450-nuclear-safety-incidents-5261415

March 7, 2015 Posted by | incidents, UK | Leave a comment

UK and 7 other EU countries want funding to prop up their nuclear industry

nukes-hungryflag-EUUK joins Romanian push for new EU nuclear aid package Guardian, , 5 Mar 15 UK and seven other EU countries call on commission for increased nuclear aid funding and support to help meet climate targets and energy security objectives. The UK and seven other countries last month called for a new package of nuclear aid funding and support, in a letter sent to the commission ahead of the EU’s energy union policy launch.

The letter, seen by the Guardian, calls for new EU financing mechanisms for nuclear as a low carbon technology, and research and innovation initiatives to deal with the costly and unresolved issues of nuclear waste and decommissioning.

New state aid guidelines are also needed, it says, and these should be based on past EU decisions, including the approval of the UK’s planned Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in Somerset……..

The letter to the commission’s vice president Sefkovic and climate commissioner Miguel Cañete was signed by the Romanian energy minister, Andrei Gerea, on behalf of ministers in seven other countries including the UK, France, Poland, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Slovenia and Slovakia.

The ministers’ core argument is that many countries would not be able to cost-effectively meet EU climate targets and energy security objectives, without bloc support for new nuclear plant builds and the maintenance of existing reactors.

The cost-effectiveness argument is key, as minutes of a commissioner’s discussion seen by the Guardian indicate that the UK’s planned £17.6bn subsidy for Hinkley was cleared by Brussels partly on the basis that it would have been too expensive to organise a competitive tendering process.

The competition commissioner of the time, Joaquín Almunia, told other commissioners that “the specificities of nuclear technology made it impossible to achieve full competition between operators, at least at the time of the HPC project. For a project like the present one, the costs of preparing a project bid are so considerable that it would seem almost impossible to organise an open and transparent bidding process with several bidders.”

The minutes show that the EU decision largely rested on the imputed common interest in advancing nuclear power outlined in the Euratom treaty. But Hinkley’s approval was resisted by the commission’s environment and climate directorates who argued that it called into question the bloc’s ‘technology neutrality’ and would create market distortions.

“This is really about state aid which is supposed to be for new technologies that haven’t proved themselves viable yet. But nuclear energy has had 70 years and still has not been able to prove itself viable, even when the public pays for its waste disposal and decommissioning. It should not be eligible for subsidies,” said Molly Scott Cato, the Green MEP for South West England and Gibraltar………http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/mar/04/uk-joins-romanian-push-for-new-eu-nuclear-aid-package

 

March 7, 2015 Posted by | EUROPE, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

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