nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

UK under pressure to buy nuclear reactors – from GE/Hitachi, Westinghouse/Toshiba and Areva/Mitsubishi

Abe,-Shinzo-nuke-1Hitachi has made no secret of its motive for trying to export reactor technology saying it needed a fresh outlet for reactors after Tokyo shut down Japan’s nuclear plants

failure to agree a final deal between EDF Energy and the Government on Hinkley “threatens not only the first new nuclear power station for a generation, but potentially all those that will come in its wake,”

ABWRs – one of the least reliable reactors in the world nuClear news No.77, September 2015

Introduction – Anglesey: a victim of Abenomics?  Exporting nuclear technology is a key element of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic strategy – “Abenomics”. Nuclear exports are seen as a way to rev up Japan’s long struggling economy, and tackle the persistent trade deficit made worse by the
need to import energy – especially Liquid Natural Gas – to replace reactors shutdown after Fukushima.

Japan’s top three nuclear engineering companies — Hitachi, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Toshiba — which had a combined profit in their energy and infrastructure businesses of about 242 billion yen ($3.14 billion) in the fiscal year 2010/11, were keener than ever to look overseas for business after Fukushima put the domestic nuclear industry on hold. Continue reading

August 29, 2015 Posted by | marketing, UK | Leave a comment

Concerns over reliability, safety, chemistry of planned Advanced Boiling Water Nuclear Reactors (ABWR)

flag-UKNo2NuclearPower nuClear news No.77, September 2015 ABWRs According to World Nuclear News (WNN) there are four operable Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWR) in Japan while two more are under construction. Another two are being built in Taiwan and two planned for Lithuania, although another two have been shelved in the USA. The design is already licensed in Japan and the USA. WNN points out, disturbingly that ABWRs can run on a full core of mixed oxide (MOX) nuclear fuel, raising the prospect of armed plutonium shipments travelling from Sellafield to Anglesey and Gloucestershire. (6)

Continue reading

August 29, 2015 Posted by | Japan, Reference, technology, UK | Leave a comment

Will UK government lock Britain into Hinkley Nuclear White Elephant?

white_elephant_London-Sm

while these might be reasons for the Government to pull out of the project, it won’t be able to once the deal has been signed. And if the problem is that the strike price is too high, it’s unlikely that EDF or the other funders will want to pull out either.

At the Hinkley point of no return, is this a nuclear white elephant? The IndependentA Hinkley-nuclear-power-plantdeal for the £24.5bn power plant in Somerset could be signed in October after the Government agreed terms with the energy giant EDF. But, writes Tom Bawden, environmentalists are far from alone in opposing an ‘expensive mistake’ TOM BAWDEN 27 August 2015 One of Britain’s most controversial energy projects for decades – the £24.5bn nuclear power development at Hinkley Point in Somerset – is poised to get the green light.

After years of wrangling, the Government and EDF – the energy giant that will operate Hinkley Point C and own around half of it – have agreed a deal that would guarantee EDF a price of £92.50 per megawatt hour of the electricity it generates, rising with inflation, up to 2061. That’s nearly three times the current price, suggesting households may have to hand over a substantial subsidy to the French state-controlled generator in the form of higher bills……..

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has gone so far as to say households will be £74 a year better off in today’s money by 2026-30 than they would be without Hinkley Point C.

But the detractors are not in the least bit convinced, with analysts, politicians and even some rival power companies dismissing the project as a colossal waste of money. Shortly before his sudden departure from RWE Npower this week, the chief executive of the big six provider, Paul Massara, said future generations would look back on Hinkley Point C as an “expensive mistake”.

Despite the strength of opposition to the project, David Cameron is expected to sign a final deal in October during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the UK; the Chinese are big backers of the project….

We look at some of the main challenges to completion.

The political justification

An in-depth report into Hinkley Point C by HSBC bank saw “ample reason for the UK Government to delay or cancel the project”. It argued that the justification for the plant was “receding” because the UK’s energy consumption is falling just as a threefold rise in the number of giant interconnectors, hooking the country up with mainland Europe, means we could import energy much more cheaply than generating it at Hinkley Point.

Furthermore, while UK electricity generation is set to fall, capacity looks set to hold up surprisingly well, in part because of rising wind and solar power. As a result, the strike price is very difficult to justify, HSBC argued.

But while these might be reasons for the Government to pull out of the project, it won’t be able to once the deal has been signed. And if the problem is that the strike price is too high, it’s unlikely that EDF or the other funders will want to pull out either.

Engineering problems

The new reactors at Hinkley Point will use the EPR – European Pressurised Reactor – model, a highly sophisticated new design that is supposed to be safer and more efficient than older reactors, but which has been fraught with problems and is not yet up and running at any site in the world.

The three other sites planning to use the new model have all suffered huge delays – in Finland, France and China – and Hinkley Point would be the fourth. Concerns about EPRs have mounted this year after a potentially catastrophic mistake was identified in the construction of an identical EPR power plant in Flamanville, Normandy……….

Problems at Areva

Areva, the French state-owned reactor designer behind the EPR model, has fallen deep into the red. It has  not sold a new reactor since 2008 as problems with its reactors have pushed plants in France and Finland billions of euros over budget.

But EDF and the French government have moved to address Areva’s financial weakness, meaning it is unlikely to cause problems for the Hinkley Point project by going bust. EDF has agreed to take control of Areva’s main reactor division in a deal orchestrated – and with the implicit financial support of – the French government.

Legal problems

Austria has launched a legal challenge to the European Commission’s ruling that the guaranteed price for the new Hinkley Point reactors amounts to legal state aid. The case is expected to drag on for two to three years…… http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/at-the-hinkley-point-of-no-return-is-this-a-nuclear-white-elephant-10475849.html

August 29, 2015 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

UK’s Hinkley Point C nuclear station is now officially mothballed

Hinkley C Mothballed – Is it in its Death Throes? http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/news/comment/hinkley-c-mothballed-is-it-in-its-death-throws/ Two very recent articles in Click Green and Professional Engineer indicate that Hinkley Point C is now officially mothballed. Indeed the project seems to be in its death throes.

text Hinkley cancelled
We already knew that site preparation work at Hinkley Point C was stopped in April 2015, up to 400 construction workers were laid off, and the Final Investment Decision was delayed until the autumn. (1) What wasn’t clear at the time was that NNB Genco – the consortium planning to build the reactors which consists of EDF Energy, China General Nuclear Corp and other investors – put a cap on future spending on the project. (2)

On 1st July the site entered Care and Maintenance which means that activity at the site is limited to the management of material stockpiles and water management zones, remediation of asbestos contaminated land and archaeological surveys. (3)

The budget cap seems to have been greater than the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) was expecting. ONR, of course, charges NNB Genco for all the work it carries out to regulate its activities.

ONR says it has taken the decision to suspend the production of future inspection reports until a Final Investment Decision is made. It has also suspended attendance at the local liaison committee – the Cannington Forum. These suspensions are most likely because NNB Genco no longer has the budget to pay for them, so the consortium will have asked ONR to stop visiting the site to do inspections and stop attending the forum because it can’t afford to pay. In retaliation ONR says it is “monitoring the impact of the budget constraint upon NNB Genco’s competency and capability”. In other words NNB Genco had better watch out or it will lose its status as an organisation competent and capable of holding a nuclear license.

ONR says its inspectors “continue to engage with the programme of design and safety case activities” related to the start of nuclear safety related construction. Its August newsletter said that further submissions are expected in September this year and the Pre Construction Safety Case related to nuclear island construction was ready for ONR to begin initial engagement at the end of July this year. (4)

So while some desk work appears to be continuing all major work on-site appears to have stopped and NNB Genco is so uncertain that the final investment decision will be positive it has asked ONR to stop as much work as possible to save money – even to the point of threatening its own status as a nuclear capable organisation. The Click Green website says:

“Despite recently publishing a list of preferred suppliers for the £24 billion project, the French firm were in behind-the-scenes talks with the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), during which they informed them of their decision to mothball the site.”

It looks as though it may be all over for Hinkley Point C bar the shouting.

(1) Gloucestershire Echo 2nd April 2015 http://www.gloucestershireecho.co.uk/400-jobs-lost-Barnwood-based-EDF-stops-site-work/story-26271600-detail/story.html

(2) Click Green 20th Aug 2015 http://www.clickgreen.org.uk/news/national-news/126381-exclusive-edf-mothballs-planned-hinkley-c-nuclear-power-site.html

(3) Professional Engineering 20th Aug 2015 http://www.power-eng.com/articles/2015/08/construction-halted-at-hinkley-point-c-nuclear-project-site.html

(4)   See page 7 ONR Regulation Matters August 2015http://www.onr.org.uk/documents/2015/regulation-matters-issue-1.pdf

August 26, 2015 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Protest by 3 middle aged women costs nuclear firm €1million

Anti-nuclear demo ‘cost firm €1million’ http://www.bridgwatermercury.co.uk/news/13610163.Anti_nuclear_demo____cost_firm____1million___/?ref=twtrec AN anti-nuclear protest by three women that blocked the main road into Hinkley B power station cost EDF approximately one million euros, it it was claimed at Taunton Magistrates Court on Friday.

Ornella Saibene, 55, Marian Connelly, 61, and Caroline Hope, 73, effectively prevented all access to the power plant on April 1 this year when they chained themselves together and lay across the road, preventing workers from accessing the site.

The protest started just after 7am and caused a three-mile build up of traffic until they agreed to move at 90.30 a.m.

 The women timed their action to coincide with a shift changeover preventing up to 2,500 people getting to work.

The women – all from Bristol – were each fined £200 and ordered to pay £105 costs after pleading guilty to obstructing the route. Joanne Pearce, prosecuting, said: “The closure cost one million euros. Their disregard to safety and the security of a nuclear power station cannot be tolerated.”

Connelly, Saibene and Hope argued they were exercising their democratic right to civil disobedience and had not committed a criminal offence.

 Saibene, a care worker, told the court: “Hinkley is dangerous and should have been shut down in 2006. It has moved safety margins from zero to ‘calculable’ and nuclear power causes irreversible human and environmental damage for centuries. Hope said they had considered their actions very carefully and added: “I have never broken the law but I felt impelled to do so.”

She read out a statement from Green West Euro MP Molly Scott Cato comparing nuclear power stations to “ageing dinosaurs.”

PCAH says…1:04pm Wed 19 Aug 15

 It is EDF’s inherent disregard for safety which triggers anti nuclear demonstrations. Hinkley B should be shut down and the lifetime extension revoked due to imminent risks of core meltdown from age related structural degradation. The graphite bricks are so cracked and misaligned that EDF are using articulated control rods; boiler tube welds are faulty and fuel pins are not functioning properly. The costs to Somerset residents have been mounting over the past 50 years; when are the regulators going to do anything about it?

August 24, 2015 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, UK | Leave a comment

UK government trashing environmnental policies, promoting nuclear power and fracked gas

Rudd, Amber UK[The new Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd,] will try to meet the UK’s carbon reduction commitments with nuclear power and fracked gas.

(Of course, this is the same Amber Rudd who said that if nuclear reactors were just prettier, everyone would like them. ed.)

commentators from industry, politics and the financial sector have been lining up to condemn the Government’s plans to subsidize the first new reactors proposed at Hinkley.

What is happening in the UK? The new government makes a sharp move away from clean energy in favor of costly polluting sources. Greenworld, 14 Aug 15 The headlines flash daily about major changes in energy policy in the UK; none of them good news. The slashing of support for solar, energy efficiency and other clean energy programs and at the same time an apparent intent to spend absolutely mind-blowing amounts of money on new, untried, and highly risky nuclear power reactors. From the point of view of an America where, haltingly but steadily, clean energy is gaining a true foothold and is moving ahead, it seems incomprehensible that our closest ally would move in the opposite direction of most of the world’s industrial economies. Could that really be true?

So we asked veteran UK activist Pete Roche to explain what is happening in the UK. And no, the news really is not good.

David Cameron’s Conservative Government has now been in power in the UK, without the constraining influence of the Liberal Democrats, for 100 days. From the point-of-view of the environment his new government has been an unmitigated disaster; marked by a sharp embrace of dirty energy sources in a fashion most advanced nations, even including the U.S., are stepping away from.

From the moment the new Government was elected it set about burning the green policies of the previous coalition government. Subsidies for new onshore wind farms, paid for through consumers’ bills, are to end from April next year as are subsidies for solar farms. There will be a review of the feed-in tariff threatening subsidies for solar panels on domestic and commercial roof tops. And other proposed changes will make it much harder for community renewable projects to obtain finance.

The Government has also killed off the Green Deal scheme which provided loans to households for energy efficiency improvements. The scheme was a damp squib but what’s striking is there are no proposals to replace it. And a decade-long plan to force all new homes to be ‘zero carbon’ from 2016 has been dumped. On top of all this the exemption for renewables from the Climate Change Levy–a kind of carbon tax–has been removed, effectively imposing cuts to the income of renewable projects already up and running retrospectively.

The new Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd, told Members of Parliament (MPs) that carbon reduction targets are a bigger priority than meeting renewable energy targets, signalling that she is prepared to miss the UK’s European Union Renewable Target of meeting 15% of our energy needs (not just electricity) from renewable sources by 2020. Continue reading

August 23, 2015 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

UK’s nuclear waste dumping must overcome a “nuclear perception problem”

text-wise-owl‘Nuclear waste dumping must overcome public opposition’ – expert concedes  https://www.rt.com/uk/312735-nuclear-waste-dumping-fears/  18 Aug, 2015 Nuclear lobbyists have admitted that public opposition to radioactive waste is a major challenge to finding new disposal sites for the deadly material.

wastes garbage

A government agency tasked with nuclear waste management conceded that “nuclear dread” was a common feeling among British citizens, who fear the idea of living near radioactive waste dumps. Continue reading

August 19, 2015 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Hinkley Point C Nuclear scam – UK tax-payers fund Chinese investors

text-my-money-2flag-UKTory privatisation scams (2): the Hinkley Point C nuclear payola guaranteed by UK taxpayers for Chinese investors http://www.michaelmeacher.info/weblog/2015/08/tory-privatisation-scams-2-the-hinkley-point-c-nuclear-payola-guaranteed-by-uk-taxpayers-for-chinese-investors/

 “……Another flagrant example of privatising the gains and socialising the losses is the nuclear power station planned at Hinkley Point C in Somerset at a cost of £24.5bn, three times the original proposal, and using the UK taxpayer to guarantee to its French builder EDF  a price per unit of output no less than double its current UK wholesale price.    The government agreed this in November 2011, yet since then wholesale power prices have fallen by 16%; nevertheless the Tories are still guaranteeing the price of £92.50 a megawatt hour, inflation-linked for 35 years and funded through household bills.   So far from being the heroes of competition as they regularly claim, the Tories are driving a pernicious, underhand contempt for market forces to subsidise State-owned foreign companies whilst refusing to offer the same aid to a UK State-owned venture for the same project.

Just how bad a deal this is is shown by the fact that Hinkley will provide just 3 gigawatts of capacity, yet for the same price gas-fired turbines could provide about 50 gigawatts, onshore wind 20 and offshore wind 10.   The plant will not open till 2023 at the earliest, well past the date of the most acute energy shortage at the end of this decade.   And it will cost as much as the combined bill for Crossrail, the London Olympics and the revamped Terminal 2 at Heathrow – beat that for the most expensive white elephant of modern times!

It’s an anachronistic behemoth from the bygone age of energy dinosaurs when the world is rapidly moving towards distributed power via renewable energy.   It’s far too costly, and is it even needed?   First there is the UK’s declining demand for power, currently falling at a rate of 1% a year as energy-saving measures steadily take effect.   Then there is the expected threefold jump in the UK’s Interconnection capacity with continental Europe by 2022 which increases the ability to import cheaper supplies.   And third there is the litany of setbacks in price overruns and huge delays that have afflicted Finland, France and China over EDF’s European Pressurised Reactor which is the same type as is planned for Hinkley Point.

However nothing distracts the Tory nose from a good old-fashioned financial fix behind the scenes, especially when in this case it plays to their abhorrence of UK State involvement in meeting a public need.   So Cameron is off to Beijing in October to sign a final deal wit the Chinese president from which only Chinese investors will gain at UK taxpayer expense.

August 19, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, politics, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

UK faces ‘social and political challenges’ to nuclear waste disposal

radioactive trashflag-UK‘Social and political challenges’ to nuclear waste disposal, Yahoo News Press Association – Mon, Aug 17, 2015 Nearly a third of the UK, excluding Scotland, could be suitable for the deep burial of dangerous radioactive waste, experts believe. New £4 billion plans for geological disposal could see containers of nuclear material sunk into boreholes and caverns 200 to 1,000 metres below ground.

There it would remain safe for hundreds of thousands of years while its radioactivity slowly waned.

A public information campaign aimed at winning support for the proposals is due to be launched early next month.

But planning and consultation is set to take so long that the first batch of nuclear waste is not expected to be placed in the ground until 2040. Earlier proposals for a geological disposal facility in West Cumbria were scotched in 2013 because of local opposition.

Alun Ellis, science and technology director of Radioactive Waste Management, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority subsidiary tasked with delivering geological disposal, said surveys indicated around 30% of the UK might be suitable for nuclear waste burial.

Speaking at a background briefing at the Science Media Centre in London, he added: “It’s a substantial proportion. There’s a substantial part of the UK that is technically suitable to host a geological disposal facility, but as we found in Cumbria that’s only half the problem.

“The other half of the problem, the more difficult half, is how we overcome the social and political challenges.”

With that in mind the aim is now to involve the public every step of the way before deciding where to bury the nuclear waste.

Early next month communities will be consulted on how to conduct an information-gathering exercise paving the way for screening potential sites.Scotland does not form part of the plans because geological disposal is not supported by Scottish government.

An estimated 4.5 million cubic metres of nuclear waste either exists already in the UK or will be generated in the near future – four times the volume of Wembley Stadium.

Of this, 90% can be re-used, recycled or permanently disposed of in surface facilities.

But a long-term solution has to be found for what to do with the remaining 10%, some of which could remain a radiation hazard for thousands of years. Currently the waste is stored in surface facilities where its safety cannot be guaranteed in decades to come, creating a burden for future generations.

“The international consensus is that geological disposal is the safest and most sustainable solution for managing these wastes and also that it is technically feasible,” said Mr Ellis………https://uk.news.yahoo.com/social-political-challenges-nuclear-waste-disposal-150045495.html#BDSfEnV

August 19, 2015 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

America and Churchill planned huge pre emptive nuclear strike on USSR

atomic-bomb-lUnthinkable as it may seem, Churchill’s plan literally won the hearts and minds of US policy makers and military officials.

These “first-strike” plans developed by the Pentagon were aimed at destroying the USSR without any damage to the United States.

The 1949 Dropshot plan envisaged that the US would attack Soviet Russia and drop at least 300 nuclear bombs and 20,000 tons of conventional bombs on 200 targets in 100 urban areas, including Moscow and Leningrad (St. Petersburg)

the Kennedy administration introduced significant changes to the plan, insisting that the US military should avoid targeting Soviet cities and had to focus on the rival’s nuclear forces alone.

 

text-historyPost WW2 World Order: US Planned to Wipe USSR Out by Massive Nuclear Strike, Sputnik News. Ekaterina Blinova. 15 Aug 15,  Was the US deterrence military doctrine aimed against the Soviet Union during the Cold War era really “defensive” and who actually started the nuclear arms race paranoia?

 Just weeks after the Second World War was over and Nazi Germany defeated Soviet Russia’s allies, the United States and Great Britain hastened to develop military plans aimed at dismantling the USSR and wiping out its cities with a massive nuclear strike.

Interestingly enough, then British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had ordered the British Armed Forces’ Joint Planning Staff to develop a strategy targeting the USSR months before the end of the Second World War. The first edition of the plan was prepared on May 22, 1945. In accordance with the plan the invasion of Russia-held Europe by the Allied forces was scheduled on July 1, 1945.

Winston Churchill’s Operation Unthinkable The plan, dubbed Operation Unthinkable, stated that its primary goal was “to impose upon Russia the will of the United States and the British Empire. Even though ‘the will’ of these two countries may be defined as no more than a square deal for Poland, that does not necessarily limit the military commitment.” Continue reading

August 17, 2015 Posted by | history, Reference, UK, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

How the BBC distorted the story of Sellafield

The spectre of the new nuclear renaissance

Al’Khalili then went on to give every impression that high level nuclear waste can be safely stored using the process of ‘vitrification’, that is, turning it in glass, and so binding the waste safely into a permanent, impermeable matrix.

What he failed to mention is that the glass is by no means permanent and durable storage medium for “thousands of generations” as the glass is liable to break down – and that the problem of long term disposal of these wastes remains unsolved. For example, asR C Ewing and colleagues wrote in 1995 in the journal Progress in Nuclear Energy,

“the post-disposal radiation damage to waste form glasses and crystalline ceramics is significant. The cumulative α-decay doses which are projected for nuclear waste glasses … are well within the range for which important changes in the physical and chemical properties may occur, e.g. the transition from the crystalline-to-aperiodic state in ceramics.”

Sellafield-reprocessing
highly-recommended‘Inside Sellafield’ and military plutonium – the BBC’s nuclear lies of omission http://www.
theecologist.org/reviews/2984689/inside_sellafield_and_military_plutonium_the_bbcs_nuclear_lies_

of_omission.html
 
Dr David Lowry 12th August 2015

 Professor ‘Jim’ Al’Khalili’s ‘Inside Sellafield’ programme was a tour de force of pro-nuclear propaganda, writes David sellafield-2011Lowry – understating the severity of accidents, concealing the role of the UK’s nuclear power stations in breeding military plutonium, and giving false reassurance over the unsolved problems of high level nuclear waste.
To mark the 70th anniversary of the first detonations of atomic bombs, two of which were used to immolate over 200,000 people instantly when exploded over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively on 6 and 9 August 1945, the BBC has created a special ‘nuclear season’ of programmes examining the civil and military aspects of nuclear energy.

For one of these programmes the BBC commissioned Baghdad-born Professor Jameel ‘Jim’ Al-Khalili, theoretical physicist and Chair in the Public Engagement in Science from the University of Surrey, to research and present one programme called ‘Britain’s Nuclear Secrets: Inside Sellafield‘.

As a regular BBC broadcaster, hosting the long-running The Life Scientific on Radio 4, and maker of several science television programmes on television, including on quantum physics and the history of electricity, he was eminently qualified to make this programme.

However the programme was highly misleading thanks to major omissions, concealing the severity of accidents, and how the UK’s entire ‘civilian’ nuclear programme was subverted into producing military plutonium that fed into the Sellafield bomb factory. Continue reading

August 14, 2015 Posted by | media, Reference, spinbuster, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Cyber terrorism threat if Britain’s nuclear security moves to online technology

Nuclear power plants ‘could become more open to cyber attacks’ as police consider cloud storage 
The armed police force that guards Britain’s nuclear material is considering storing information in “cloud” despite series of high-profile leaks. 
Britain’s nuclear power stations could be more exposed to cyber attacks within months, experts have warned after the police force that protects them revealed they are considering using the “cloud” to store information.

The Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC), the armed police force tasked with guarding all of Britain’s nuclear plants, has previously refused to use the new storage technology given much of its information is classified as “sensitive”.

However the force has revealed it could start using cloud technology as early as April next year despite a series of high profile information breaches which raised questions about the software’s reliability.

Technology experts warned the move could be “unnecessary” and leave the force more exposed to foreign hackers.

It will raise fears that information about Britain’s nuclear material could be more likely to be obtained by enemies of the state at a time of heightened alert over terrorism…….http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/11792281/Nuclear-power-plants-could-become-more-open-to-cyber-attacks-as-police-consider-cloud-storage.html

August 12, 2015 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

UK energy analysts unhappy with super costly Hinkley nuclear project

scrutiny-on-costsflag-UKPlanned Hinkley Point nuclear power station under fire from energy industry, Guardian,  and , 10 Aug 15  Energy analyst says that for same price as Hinkley Point C, providing 3,200MW of capacity, almost 50,000MW of gas-fired power capacity could be built. Hinkley Point, the planned £24.5bn nuclear power station in Somerset, is under intensifying criticism from the energy industry and the City, even as the government prepares to give the final go-ahead for the heavily subsidised project.

The plant, due to open in 2023, will cost as much as the combined bill for Crossrail, the London 2012 Olympics and the revamped Terminal 2 at Heathrow, calculated Peter Atherton, energy analyst at investment bank Jefferies. He said that, for the same price as Hinkley Point C, which will provide 3,200MW of capacity, almost 50,000MW of gas-fired power capacity could be built.

“This level of new gas build would effectively replace the entire thermal generation fleet in the UK – much of which is old and inefficient – with brand new, highly efficient, low carbon, gas generation,” said Atherton.

Doubts about Hinkley Point have deepened after a detailed report by HSBC’s energy analysts described eight key challenges to the project, which will be built by the state-backed French firm EDF and be part-financed by investment from China.

These challenges include: declining demand for power in the UK, currently falling at 1% a year as energy-saving measures take effect; a three-fold jump in the UK’s interconnection capacity with continental Europe by 2022, massively increasing the country’s ability to import cheaper supplies; and “a litany of setbacks” in Finland, France and China for EdF’s European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) model, the same type as planned for Hinkley Point.

HSBC’s analysts described the EPR model as too big, too costly and still unproven, saying its future was bleak. They also pointed out that wholesale power prices have fallen by 16% since November 2011 when the government agreed a “strike price” for Hinkley Point’s output – effectively a guaranteed price of £92.50 per megawatt hour, inflation-linked for 35 years and funded through household bills. “With the problems encountered by France’s EPR model and a strike price likely to be double the UK wholesale price at the scheduled 2023 time of opening of the proposed Hinkley C EPR, we see ample reason for the UK government to delay or cancel the project,” they said…….. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/aug/09/planned-hinkley-point-nuclear-power-station-energy-industry

August 10, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Britain’s nuclear power and nuclear weapons plans intrinsically linked

peaceful-nukeflag-UKShining a light on Britain’s nuclear state, Guardian, Phil Johnstone and  , 7 Aug 15 
Debates over Trident and energy policy are rarely joined up. But are there deeper links between Britain’s nuclear deterrent and its commitment to nuclear power? 
Two momentous issues facing David Cameron’s government concern nuclear infrastructure. The new secretary of state for energy, Amber Rudd, recentlyconfirmed her enthusiasm for what is arguably the most expensive infrastructure project in British history: the Hinkley Point C power station. At the same time, a decision is pressing on a similarly eye-watering commitment to renew Britain’s nuclear deterrent.

Ostensibly distinct, both of these issues are intensely controversialextremelyexpensiveagonisingly protracted, and often accompanied by vicious political rhetoric. Yet commentators rarely ask how these decisions might be connected. Could such links help to explain the strength of the UK’s nuclear lobby? Britain remains one of only a handful of countries committed to a “nuclear renaissance”, with senior government figures asserting the manifest falsehood that there is “no alternative” to nuclear power. Meanwhile, support for renewables and energy efficiency has been cut.

It seems that Whitehall is in denial about the widely acknowledged performance trends of nuclear power and renewables. The reality is that renewables manifestly outperform nuclear power as low carbon energy sources. Successive UK andinternational studies show they are already more competitive than nuclear. And renewables costs continue to fall. Yet after more than half a century of development (and far greater levels of cumulative public support), nuclear costs keep rising. The performance gap just keeps on growing.

Nor is there any good excuse for ignoring such overblown nuclear promises. Problems of reactor safetynuclear waste and weapons proliferation remain unsolved. Nuclear security risks are uniquely grave. With finance in question andtechnical difficulties mounting, the deteriorating prospects of the Hinkley project are the latest episode in a familiar pattern.

So why is the UK so persistent in pursuing new nuclear power? If the nuclear lobby is driving this, why have other countries with stronger nuclear industries nonetheless developed far more sceptical positions? In the case of Germany, this has meant the country with the world’s most successful nuclear industry and a less attractive renewable resource than the UK, nonetheless undertaking a wholesale shift from one to the other.

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One striking factor is an apparently strong correlation between those countries most eager to construct new nuclear with those expressing a desire to maintain nuclear weapons. But care is needed before jumping to conclusions. Historically,links between enthusiasms for nuclear power and nuclear weapons are well-explored. Almost all the attention here has focused on possibilities for diverting nuclear weapons materials like highly enriched uranium and plutonium. These connections were crucial in early nuclear developments, and remain so in contemporary proliferation threatsBut it is highly doubtful they explain the UK situation. An elaborate global nuclear safeguards regime introduces formidable barriers. And the UK has since the end of the Cold War maintained enormous gluts of key weapons materials………

the links between UK civilian nuclear power and military interests in nuclear submarines run deep. What is remarkable is the complete lack of discussion these provoke in the media, public policy documents, or wider critical debate. Yet the stakes are very high. Does the commitment to a submarine based nuclear deterrent help to explain the intensity of high-level UK support for costly, risky and slow nuclear power, rather than cheaper, quicker and cleaner renewable technologies?

If so, the conclusions are not self-evident. For some supporters of a nuclear deterrent, the additional burdens of nuclear power may seem entirely reasonable. But the almost total silence on these connections raises crucial implications for democracy. Imminent decisions that the government must take over nuclear power and the nuclear deterrent are hugely significant. There is a responsibility on all involved to be open and accountable. Otherwise, it will not just be electricity consumers and taxpayers that pay the price, but British democracy itself.

Phil Johnstone is a research fellow and Andy Stirling is a professor of science and technology policy at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), University of Sussex.  http://www.theguardian.com/science/political-science/2015/aug/07/shining-a-light-on-britains-nuclear-state

August 7, 2015 Posted by | politics, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UK government just quietly funding Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

text-SMRsUK invests in advanced nuclear fuel research, World Nuclear News, 7 Aug 15  “……The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has awarded £1.5 million ($2.3 million) to the NNL and £1.0 million ($1.6 million) to the University of Manchester to fund new capital equipment for nuclear fuel and manufacturing research……..

NNL said that fuels are being developed with the aim of not only enhancing safety performance, but also to improve the economics and efficiency of existing and future reactors, including some designs of small modular reactors. …..
Work on nuclear fuels research and development is carried out through the Nuclear Fuel Centre of Excellence (NFCE), launched jointly by the University of Manchester and NNL last October. Access to the new equipment will also be available to researchers from outside the NNL through funded research programs facilitated by the NFCE. http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/UF-UK-invests-in-advanced-nuclear-fuel-research-0708154.html

August 7, 2015 Posted by | politics, technology, UK | Leave a comment

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