Britain’s atomic power plants ‘could be attacked by drones’ The Independent, MARK LEFTLY SUNDAY 21 DECEMBER 2014 Nuclear power stations are highly vulnerable to drone attack, according to a confidential report that British ministers are being urged to consider.
Compiled by a British nuclear expert, John Large, the report followed a number of unexplained, but apparently co-ordinated, flights of tiny, unmanned vehicles over French nuclear installations. The grave issues uncovered there, said Mr Large, were equally relevant to the UK’s 16 operational reactors, which generate about 18 per cent of the country’s electricity.
In public evidence to the French parliament, Mr Large said he set the defences of a standard nuclear power plant against different types of attack that could be launched by drones, such as precisely placed explosive devices and the dropping off of equipment that would aid an insider saboteur.
Existing nuclear power plants, he said, were not designed to counter the threat of “near-cyborg technology”. He warned: “In each of the four… attack scenarios that I examined, the plant fared very badly indeed – if these scenarios had been for real, then there would have been the potential for a major radioactive release.”
Mr Large’s modelling showed that the “flexible access and manoeuvrability of the drones” means that they were able to fly over and twist around physical barriers that “belonged to a different age”. Even small, battery-powered drones can lift 10 or more kilograms of cargo, while vehicles available in high street hobbyist shops are “certainly not toys but machines capable of following and discharging intelligent commands”………..
Experts in Germany have warned that the drones could identify weaknesses before sending in an attack helicopter to blow apart thick cement walls. The subsequent meltdown then has the potential to spread radiation up to 180 miles.
Dr David Lowry, a consultant researcher for the World Institute for Nuclear Security in Vienna, said: “My general view is that all nuclear facilities are at risk of malevolent terrorist attack, but [this] is something that most politicians brush under the carpet.”……http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/britains-atomic-power-plants-could-be-attacked-by-drones-9938086.html
£1bn subsidy in energy capacity auction will boost coal and nuclear power, Guardian, Terry Macalister, 19 Dec 14
Government wanted new gas-fired power stations to be built but 68% of the capacity is to be provided by existing power stations. Consumers will need to stump an extra £1bn a year in 2018 to encourage power stations to stay open and keep the lights on, the government confirmed on Friday.
A “capacity market” auction undertaken this week by National Grid has ended with a price of £19.40 per kilowatt (kW) being agreed as a subsidy.
EDF, the owner of the UK’s existing nuclear fleet, is one of the major provisional winners but other “big six” firms such as E.ON, npower and SSE have also succeeded……………….
EDF’s nuclear fleet is also providing 16% of the capacity. This will also be a bonus for Centrica which owns 20% of this EDF-operated business. Centrica has also had two gas stations included. 45% comes from gas fired plants and less than half a percent by those promising demand side reduction………….http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/dec/19/uk-energy-auction-coal-nuclear-generation
Record renewable generation disproves Cameron’s attack on onshore wind. Edie.net
18 December 2014, source edie newsroom
Figures from the latest Energy Trends report by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) show that 18% of electricity was produced from renewable sources in the third quarter of 2014 – a 4% increase on last year.
Electricity generated from onshore wind increased by 7.7% while generation from offshore wind was up by 14.1%.
In light of these figures, clean energy trade association RenewableUK claims that David Cameron was wrong to attack onshore wind earlier this week, when he claimed that the public was “fed up” with onshore windfarms and said the country did not need any more subsidised turbines on land now that the energy source was capable of providing 10% of UK energy.
RenewableUK’s director of external affairs Jennifer Webber said: “Electricity generated from renewables – up again. Clean power provided by wind for British homes – up again. No wonder two-thirds of the public repeatedly tell every independent polling organisation from YouGov to Ipsos MORI that they support wind energy, and a majority of people want to see more onshore wind farms built near them.
“Their understanding of the importance of generating clean power from home-grown sources stands in sharp contrast to the misguided and quite frankly ignorant comments by the Prime Minister earlier this week, when he wrongly suggested that people are fed up with wind.”
According to a BBC article, the average person in the UK uses 10% less electricity than five years ago ……..http://www.edie.net/news/6/Cameron-was-wrong-to-attack-onshore-wind–says-RenewableUK/
The Government is reportedly so worried that Hinkley will be delayed it has commissioned a “secret review” into the project. The probe, being led by the Treasury, is said to be examining whether the 2023 completion date is likely to be met and is apparently costing “tens of millions of pounds”. The outcome of the investigation is expected at the end of the year, which The Times says is why EDF delayed taking a final investment decision this summer until January or February.
Hinkley Point C – A Review of the Year, nuClear News Dec 14 “………… To many it feels like the project is sleep walking towards disaster. It’s just that no-one is quite sure whether the disaster will be a virtually ‘unconstructable’ power plant struggling to come into operation years late and vastly overbudget or the collapse of the whole project before it even starts.
Cambridge nuclear engineer, Tony Roulstone, recently described the type of reactor planned for Hinkley as ‘unconstructable’, and said Areva, the French company that owns the EPR design, is no longer actively selling power stations of this type. In those countries still looking to expand nuclear power, such as Saudi Arabia, China and Turkey, Areva is now pushing an alternative reactor.
In China, where two EPRs are currently being constructed, the authorities have indicated that they will not use the design for future power plants. In other words, the Hinkley design is already regarded as a failure by those with most knowledge of it. (3)
The European Commissioners decided to approve subsidies reported to be up to £17.6 billion to EDF Energy in October. Doug Parr, Chief Scientist at Greenpeace calculates the subsidies to be closer to £37billion on an undiscounted basis. (4)
The Austrian Government has declared its intention to take the Commission to the European Court of Justice over the decision, (5) In the UK independent energy supplier Ecotricity is also among companies and organisations considering a legal challenge.
There appears to be a groundswell of opinion among renewable energy companies and associations in Britain and
Europe that something should be done. (6) This could leave the project in limbo. Legal action would take at least a year to conclude and EDF Energy would have to decide whether or not to risk proceeding with the project in the meantime in case it has to be abandoned if the legal action is successful.
Nuclear damages attempts to tackle climate change nuClear News Dec 14
It is now almost 15 years since Tony Blair asked the Number Ten Performance and Innovation Unit (PIU) to carry out a thorough review of energy policy. That review ultimately led to the 2003 Energy White Paper which concluded that the current economics of nuclear power make it an unattractive option, and that there are still important issues about nuclear waste which need to be resolved.
In launching the White Paper in Parliament the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry at the
time, Patricia Hewitt, said: “It would have been foolish to announce …a new generation of nuclear power stations, because
that would have guaranteed we would not make the necessary investments in energy efficiency and renewables.”
Unfortunately, as we know, the nuclear lobbyists got to work straight away and this policy was
eventually reversed. (1)
When the Nuclear White Paper was published in January 2008 giving the go-ahead to new reactors, Professor Gordon Mackerron, who had been a prominent member of the PIU Energy Review team and went on to Chair the first Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM), expressed concern that nuclear investments would ultimately stall. But the
expectation that new reactors would be built would hold back investment in the alternatives. So we could get to 2020 and find that neither nuclear, nor other forms of carbon abatement technology had been built. (2)
Regrettably, now we are 7 years closer to 2020, it looks as though Hewitt and Mackerron’s worst fears are coming true.
Nuclear power is a distraction from the urgent task of tackling climate change for five main
Firstly, nuclear power provides quite a small percentage of the UK’s energy needs, so it is
important that we don’t allow plans to build new reactors to disrupt plans to introduce other
forms of low carbon energy.
Secondly, Funding is limited. Even in boom times there is a limited supply of money, so we need
to maximise the carbon savings achieved from every pound spent. But, as we shall see, nuclear
is probably the most expensive way to save carbon.
Thirdly, there is a serious risk that nuclear will soak up all the funds available for low carbon
Fourthly tackling climate change is urgent, the sooner we can start making savings, the bigger the cumulative impact. New reactors at Hinkley are not expected to start operating until about 2023 at the earliest, whereas other forms of carbon abatement could start making savings now.No2NuclearPower
Finally, global markets are moving rapidly towards more decentralised low carbon energy
systems. But by promoting nuclear power, the UK will be bucking this trend and prolonging the
life of outmoded, centralised utility models. Andy Blowers, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, and
another former CoRWM member says it is this “Business As Usual” aspect of nuclear power
Nuclear damages attempts to tackle climate change nuClear News Dec 14
“………Meanwhile investment banks seem to have decided that the centralised utility model’s days are numbered:
UBS says it’s time to join the solar revolution and large power stations will be obsolete in 10 –
20 years time.
HSBC is predicting an energy storage boom.
Citi says wind and solar will continue to gain market share from coal and nuclear,
Citibank says the Big6 will lose 25% of their customers in the next six years.
Barclays has downgraded the US power sector because it can’t compete with renewables. (7)
So what are the alternatives to nuclear? A new piece of research from Forum for the Future,
Farmers Weekly and Nottingham Trent University has analysed the potential for rolling out
different renewable technologies on UK farms – principally solar and wind, and some anaerobic
digestion. Their report estimates that it would be relatively simple to get the first 20 GW onto
the grid from farm-based solar and wind. And that could be on stream by 2020 if we get behind
it, well before the projected date of 2023 for completion at Hinkley Point. (8)
Hinkley is expected to produce, at a very optimistic 90% load factor, 25TWh (billion kWh) every
Domestic energy efficiency alone could save 40TWh/yr by 2030 and help eliminate fuel poverty
into the bargain. Other efficiency measures, such as converting commercial and street lighting to
LEDs could save 4 times what Hinkley might produce.
Britain’s solar industry says it could install the same capacity as Hinkley in 24 months and at
total electricity consumption 328TWh/yr
total energy consumption 1635TWh/yr
Hinkley (at an unlikely 90% load factor) 25TWh/yr
Offshore wind up to 155TWh/yr
Solar Farms (just on land used for biofuel) 190TWh/yr
Commercial rooftops 30TWh/yr
Domestic roofs 140TWh/yr
Domestic efficiency by 2030 40TWh/yr
Other efficiency measures 100TWh/yr (9)
So 2015 will be a crunch year for energy policy in Britain. EDF says it will make its investment
decision in January or February. But Chinese investors alreaddy appear to be wobbling. We know
they don’t want to build any more EPR reactors themselves – they have been described by one
nuclear engineer as “unconstructable” (10). They would be mad to commit themselves to the No2NuclearPower
nuClear news No.69, December 2014 12
huge sums of money required before waiting to see whether Olkiluoto and Flamanville can be
Nuclear damages attempts to tackle climate change nuClear News Dec 14
“……….Former Labour MP, Alan Simpson points out that we have forgotten in this country that, until
1947, most local authorities earned 50 per cent of their income from the work of their localised
utilities. Germany already has 180 local authorities taking their energy grids back into public
ownership, why can’t we. Already, 50 per cent of Germany’s electricity generating capacity
comes from renewables but only 5 per cent of this generating capacity is owned by the big
Recently local authorities across the UK have started to develop an energy policy. A number of
local authorities have been developing what are being called either Local Authority Energy
Service Trusts (LAEST‟s) or Energy Service Companies (ESCO’s). These exciting developments
are a clear sign of interest from Councils in taking a more active role in energy policy, to
alleviate local fuel poverty and promote a low carbon future. Though these policies are at an
early stage at present, such developments are part of a growing move in local government to
develop more comprehensive energy policies. To some extent, they are influenced by the
positive role local government plays in countries like Germany, Denmark and Austria in
developing ambitious local, community owned renewable energy projects. Let us hope we see
more advances in this area in 2015. (12)
Catherine Mitchell, Professor of Energy Policy at Exeter University, and another former member
of the PIU team, says global energy systems are going through a time of rapid technological
change, which has implications for the conventional utility model. This is leading to two types of
countries – those that are enabling, or at least not constraining, the change in energy systems;
and those which, for various reasons, are ignoring or attempting to constrain it. While
constraining change may slow it down, countries cannot stop it completely – and the question is
whether by constraining change in the energy system countries are setting themselves up for a
very disruptive time at some point in the future with a wider loss of innovation within their
economies, as opposed to a more managed transformation. Whatever, happens 2015 will see
Renewable energy-powered vehicles can save lives http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/auto/news/auto-technology/renewable-energy-powered-vehicles-can-save-lives/articleshow/45533794.cmsBy IANS | 16 Dec, 2014,NEW YORK: Driving vehicles that use electricity from renewable energy instead of gasoline could reduce the resulting deaths due to air pollution by 70 percent, says a study.
The researchers from University of Minnesota also found that vehicles running on corn ethanol or powered by coal-based or “grid average” electricity are worse for health.
Switching from gasoline to those fuels would increase the number of resulting deaths due to air pollution by 80 percent or more.
“These findings demonstrate the importance of clean electricity, such as from natural gas or renewable sources of energy, in substantially reducing the negative health impacts of transportation,” said study co-author Chris Tessum from University of Minnesota, US.
Air pollution increases rates of heart attack, stroke, and respiratory disease.
The researchers estimated how concentrations of two important pollutants – particulate matter and ground-level ozone – change as a result of using various options for powering vehicles. They looked at liquid biofuels, diesel, compressed natural gas, and electricity from a range of conventional and renewable sources.
Their analysis included not only the pollution from vehicles, but also emissions generated during production of the fuels or electricity that power them.
“Our work highlights the importance of looking at the full life cycle of energy production and use, not just at what comes out of tail pipes,” co-author of the study Jason Hill pointed out.
The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Hinkley Point C – A Review of the Year, nuClear News Dec 14
“……..Meanwhile a new report from Forum for the Future, Nottingham Trent University and Farmers’ Weekly estimates that UK farms could have a generating capacity of 20GW by 2020 compared with Hinkley’s 3.2GW capacity which won’t be available until 2023 at the very earliest. (30)
Now former Government Chief Scientist, Professor Sir David King who was instrumental in
persuading Tony Blair to ditch the 2003 Energy White Paper, which argued against supporting
nuclear power and go for new reactors now says we might be able to do without them if we can
develop energy storage. (31) He obviously knows a dead horse when he sees one.
On 8th October 2014 following the European Commission’s decision to approve subsidies to
Hinkley, Allan Jeffrey a spokesperson for the Stop Hinkley Campaign appealed to EDF Energy
and the UK Government to examine in detail the flurry of recent reports from investment and
energy analysts predicting a bright future for solar energy and other renewables as well as
energy storage. (32)
“The technology proposed for Hinkley Point C is well past its sell-by-date. It’s time for Somerset to
look to the future and develop a locally-controlled sustainable energy industry which doesn’t
involve leaving a toxic legacy for our grandchildren’s children and which can tackle climate
change and fuel poverty in a much more cost effective way.”
The reports highlighted by the group suggest that the old centralised utility model is becoming
increasingly redundant and decentralised energy supply will become increasingly important in
Former Labour MP Alan Simpson says the place which scares the Big 6 energy companies the
most is Germany. Already, 50 per cent of Germany’s electricity generating capacity comes from
renewables. But big energy companies only own about 5 per cent of this generating capacity
95% is owned by farmers, small businesses, local authorities, community co-operatives and
individuals. Overall 50% is owned by citizens. And now local authorities are beginning to take
back control of the grid to help this energy revolution along. (33)
The question for 2015 is whether South-west England will join the renewables revolution or
Nuclear damages attempts to tackle climate change nuClear News Dec 14
“……….You might say “well climate change is urgent, so why don’t we do nuclear as well as all the other
stuff”. But there is a limited supply of funds and the way the Government has organised thesubsidy schemes at the moment it looks as though nuclear will use up all of those funds.
The Treasury’s so-called Levy Control Framework limits the amount of money which can be
collected from consumers’ bills. This year the pot of money available will be £3.5bn. This will
increase to £6.45bn by 2018/9. But because subsidies to low carbon energy are an ongoing
commitment, £3.55bn of that will go to projects already running and only £2.9bn will be
available to new schemes. The total pot will go up to £7.6bn in 2020/21, an increase of just over
£1bn. We don’t know the exact figure for 2023/24, but we do know that Hinkley will require
around £1bn, so it will probably use up all the money for new projects. (4)
And there isn’t expected to be any more money for new projects until 2027, by which time
Sizewell C could be ready to start gobbling up cash.
Nuclear is too slow
The sooner we make carbon savings the greater the cumulative impact by, say, 2025. Nuclear
takes a long time to build. Hinkley is expected to take about eight years, so there won’t be any
carbon savings until at least 2023. The two other reactors being built in Europe at the moment
are both late – Olkiluoto in Finland is 7 years late and Flamanville in France is 4 years late.
Hinkley might save a million tonnes of carbon per year in eight years time, whereas a re-booted
energy efficiency programme could have already saved 14 million tonnes by then. (5)
Centralised utilities – a dying model
Former Government Chief Scientist, Professor Sir David King who was instrumental in
persuading Tony Blair to ditch the 2003 Energy White Paper and go for new reactors now says
we might be able to do without them if we can develop energy storage. (6)
He’s probably been reading the financial press. The 21st November might go down as the day the
nuclear renaissance finally died in Britain. Look at UK Nuclear News for that day and you will
Consumers could be on the hook for £37bn worth of undiscounted subsidies to Hinkley over its
The cost of Hinkley has gone up from £9bn in 2011 to £24.5bn now.
Reactor builder – Areva – which was expected to take a 10% stake in Hinkley is in the midst of a
Chinese nuclear group to buy UK wind farms, Ft.com Chris Adams, Energy Editor 14 Dec 14
China’s biggest nuclear power generator is preparing to enter Europe’s renewable energy market, snapping up three UK wind farms from French utility EDF
in a signal of its intent to build a global generating business.
The move by state-owned China General Nuclear Corporation (CGN), set to be announced on Monday, would be its first big acquisition of onshore wind generating capacity in the west………
The agreement with EDF could help smooth talks on a bigger deal to build Britain’s first nuclear power plant in a generation, at Hinkley Point in Somerset………
The Chinese group will pay EDF more than £100m, analysts estimate, for an 80 per cent stake in the sites. Together, the sites generate more than 70 megawatts of electricity — enough to serve nearly 40,000 homes.
EDF will retain a 20 per cent stake in the three wind farms and continue to operate the turbines. It will also buy the electricity generated……….
The deal’s timing is significant: it comes as EDF, one of the Britain’s “big six” energy suppliers, looks to finalise agreement with possible investors, including CGN and China National Nuclear Corporation, on the financing of Hinkley Point C, the new nuclear power plant expected to cost £24.5bn.
The Chinese companies have been pushing for a bigger role in the plant’s construction and want a substantial share of the supply contracts, a demand that has complicated negotiations.
They also want ownership of another nuclear site, at Bradwell in Essex, with the aim of building their own reactor. Discussions over that have been a stumbling block. EDF is aiming to make a final investment decision early next year.http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/db8c9540-838f-11e4-9a9a-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3LzcYrpGa
Calls for nuclear safety probe over station faults http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/calls-for-nuclear-safety-probe-over-station-faults-1-3634131 14 Dec 14, Torness is one of 15 nuclear power stations across the UK that have been forced to shut down due to faults over the last three years – with campaigners calling for an urgent review into the reliability of nuclear energy.
Analysis for local councils revealed that 15 reactors have had 62 unplanned shut-downs since 2011, with Torness near Dunbar forced to close twice last year due to the build-up of seaweed clogging the plant’s filters.
The research – which was carried out by Edinburgh-based nuclear consultant Pete Roche – found plants hit by a range of faults including cracks and electrical, boiler and valve defects.
And now the 50-strong group of local authorities who commissioned the report are raising fears over safety and the UK’s future energy supply.
Manchester councillor Mark Hackett, who chairs the group, said: “I call upon the UK Government, the National Grid and the nuclear regulators to urgently review the safety issues around such a large number of unplanned shutdowns.
“The Government also has to prioritise alternatives over the next 12 months to ensure the unreliability of nuclear power does not lead to the lights going off around the country.”
Dungeness nuclear power station in Kent had to be shut down 21 times between 2012 and 2014.
One of the main ways of covering up the true cost to society of nuclear power has been downplaying the difficulty, danger and cost of nuclear reprocessing and safe storage of the unwanted byproducts. In Britain, this was made the responsibility of private companies with a strong motivation to cut corners in order to maximize profits.
The results of such behind-the-scenes agreements between governments and private companies are now visible in these photographs. Far from having a coherent plan for dealing with the medium-and high-level radioactive waste, the authorities have allowed the site to become a ticking time bomb.
Leaked Photos Show UK Nuclear Plant Poses Public Safety Threat By Trevor Johnson Global Research, December 10, 2014 World Socialist Web Site Photos of radioactive waste storage ponds in a shocking state of neglect at the UK’s Sellafield (previously Windscale) nuclear reprocessing plant reveal that they have been severely neglected for decades.
Cracked concrete tanks—the largest measuring 20m by 150m with a depth of 6m—have been left open to the elements since the mid-1970s despite high levels of radioactivity.
After being left derelict for nearly 40 years, the radioactive material from hundreds of tons of spent fuel rods left in the ponds is now in danger of being exposed to the air, which could set off a nuclear explosion. This poses a major threat to public safety at the plant in Cumbria, northwest England.
The photos were published on the web site of the Ecologist magazine. Continue reading
Wind Power Provided 107% of Scotland’s Home Electricity Needs In November http://sustainnovate.ae/en/industry-news/detail/wind-power-provided-107-of-scotlands-home-electricity-needs-in-november 10 December 2014 | Posted by Zachary Scotland is an amazing leader in the renewable energy space. As I wrote last month,renewable energy provided more electricity than either nuclear energy, coal, or natural gas in the first half of 2014 in Scotland. It aims to get 100% of its electricity from renewable resources by 2025, one of the most ambitious targets in the developed world.
In October, wind energy provided 126% of home electricity demand. While that was a great month for wind energy, it wasn’t a wild fluke. WWF Scotland reports that, in November, wind power again provided over 100% of the country’s residential electricity needs, 107% this time. Producing 812 TWh of electricity, that’s enough for 2.6 million Scottish homes.
Scotland has excellent wind resources, but it also has great political leadership and is attractive to industry leaders.
“While Torness nuclear power station had to be shutdown unexpectedly, November turned out to be another big month for wind power in Scotland, with enough pollution-free electricity generated to supply 107 per cent of Scottish households with the electricity they need,” said WWF Scotland’s director Lang Banks. “Even on calmer days, when wind wasn’t at its strongest, wind still supplied the equivalent of almost a third of electricity needs of every home. It’s clear that wind is now a critical and growing part of our current power sector.”
The highest wind power output during the month was on November 11, when 55,611 MWh of electricity were produced by wind turbines. That was enough to supply 5.34 million homes with electricity, or 221% of Scottish homes.
The data above was provided by WeatherEnergy and analysed by WWF Scotland.
Record wind power levels as new research shows clear majority back wind energy projects near them, Renewable UK, 9 December 2014
RenewableUK was today celebrating a new daily record amount of electricity generated from wind. Official National Grid figures showed that on Sunday 7th December an average of 7.315GW of power was produced by wind farms. The previous record was 7.234GW. This means that the equivalent of 43% of all GB homes were powered by wind on Sunday.
RenewableUK also commented on research carried out by Accent for the Energy Institute and New Power Magazine which showed that 61% of people would accept a wind turbine, or several turbines, within five miles of their home. The research, which was carried out in November, among householders throughout the UK, found that only 24% of people would welcome a gas extraction site with possible fracking near them, and just 18% backed local nuclear. The only technology with more popular support than wind was solar PV.
The survey also showed that 54% of UKIP voters, and 57% of Conservative voters support wind energy within 5 miles of their home, despite the leaders of their parties opposing onshore wind.