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UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) compares falling costs of renewables with rising costs of nuclear power

poster renewables not nuclearflag-UKNuclear competitiveness falling with rise of renewables, says government watchdog, businessGreen, Jocelyn Timperley, 14 July 16, A new report on the future of Britain’s electricity supply from the government spending watchdog has highlighted the falling costs of renewables compared with nuclear, with figures projecting onshore wind and solar will be the cheapest ways of generating electricity by 2025.

The report examines how new sources of electricity can be used to meet the looming capacity gap the UK faces over the coming decade while supporting emissions targets and keeping energy bills affordable.

Its findings show that renewables may be a cheaper option than conventional energy sources, with Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) forecasts for the levelised cost of energy of wind and solar in 2025 having decreased since 2010. The cost forecast for nuclear during the same time period has increased while it has remained constant for gas.

“Supporting early new nuclear projects could lead to higher costs in the short term than continuing to support wind and solar,” the report concludes. “The cost competitiveness of nuclear power is weakening as wind and solar become more established.”………

The NAO also lays out how the projected costs of Hinkley Point C have skyrocketed since the strike price was initially agreed based on an estimated cost of £6.1bn in October 2013. Projections laid out in the report show the top-up subsidy payments for the nuclear plant have changed along with forecasts of the wholesale price of power, with the most recent estimate in March 2016 valuing the payments at £29.7bn.

In addition, the NAO warned of the risks for consumers of signing up to the 35-year Hinkley Point C contract, expected to begin in 2025, due to the difficulty in predicting how wholesale electricity prices will fluctuate, as well as how other energy technologies will develop. “Over a longer time frame there is greater potential for technological changes that reduce the competitiveness of nuclear compared with other power sources,” the report says.

The new report comes just days after DECC vastly raised its estimate of how much the Hinkley project would cost in subsidies over its lifetime, suggesting it will cost £37bn in total subsidies, more than double its £14.4bn estimate a year ago……..

Among a host of other environment and energy decisions, Theresa May will soon have to make the long-awaited decision on whether to go ahead with Hinkley Point. And the NAO report makes clear it will be as much a strategic and political decision as an economic one. http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/analysis/2464823/nuclear-competitiveness-falling-with-rise-of-renewables-says-government-watchdog

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July 15, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

UK taxpayers up for an extra £30bn for Hinkley Point C nuclear project?

Hinkley costsReport reveals top-up fees for Hinkley Point C could cost us an extra £30bn http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/report-reveals-top-up-fees-for-hinkley-point-c-could-cost-us-an-extra-30bn/story-29511798-detail/story.html A government spending watchdog has warned tax payers could cost energy consumers £30 billion in “top-up payments” for Hinkley Point C. By David_Clensy  July 14, 2016

The deal for the Somerset nuclear power station sees the government paying EDF a fixed price for electricity generation over 35 years from 2025. But if the wholesale price falls, the government pays EDF a top-up fee.

The National Audit Office had previously estimated that this top-up fee would amount to £6.1 billion during the 35 year period, but in its latest report the watchdog has scaled up the estimate to £29.7 billion – nearly doubling the cost of the £37 billion construction project.

The report also expressed fears that taxpayers could end up with a range of other payments under debt guarantees agreed by the government with EDF. “Supporting early new nuclear projects could lead to higher costs in the short term than continuing to support wind and solar. The cost competitiveness of nuclear power is weakening as wind and solar become more established,” the report, Nuclear Power in the UK, states.

Environmental lobbying group Greenpeace has jumped upon the opportunity to call upon the new Prime Minister to scrap the entire project.

John Sauven, director of Greenpeace UK, said: “The government’s line that Hinkley is a good deal for billpayers is falling apart. Today’s damaging report from the NAO should kill this myth once and for all. It makes the government’s slash and burn approach towards help for homegrown renewable energy companies look completely out of step with reality. Unlike nuclear the cost of renewables is falling every year.”

 

July 15, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

High expectations in Iran, for nuclear deal economic help have not been met

flag-IranYear after nuclear deal, Iran’s high expectations not met, Christian Science Monitor To sell Iranians on the nuclear deal, President Rouhani promised a new era. But the consensus is it has yet to materialize, and many blame the US.  By Scott Peterson, Staff writer JULY 14, 2016 ISTANBUL, TURKEY — Joy erupted on the streets of Tehran a year ago Thursday, when Iran signed a landmark nuclear deal with six world powers hailed as a victory of diplomacy over war.

The deal was marketed by both sides as a “win-win”: Iran would dismantle the most controversial aspects of its nuclear program – minimizing the chance of acquiring a nuclear weapon for at least a decade – in exchange for the lifting of sanctions that crippled its economy.

As jubilant Iranians waved flags and heralded an easing of Iran’s isolation, President Hassan Rouhani promised that “a page has turned in the history of Iran.”

But one year later, the 159-page accord is a study in unmet high expectations for change, as hard-liners in both Iran and the US Congress fight to undermine the deal to ensure as little political benefit as possible for the architects of the accord – Mr. Rouhani and President Barack Obama – as well as for their long-term strategic foes, in Washington and Tehran.

Analysts say the Iranian president promised more than he could deliver.

“Rouhani had no choice other than leveraging pent-up public demands to rally elite support for diplomacy; the hype was as indispensable as its ensuing disillusionment was inevitable,” says Ali Vaez, the senior Iran analyst for the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.

“The deal has not ushered in a new era. It is, at best, taking Iran back to where it was before the nuclear crisis,” says Mr. Vaez. “The establishment deemed ending economic isolation as an exigency for preserving its power. Now it fears rapid economic opening could loosen its grip on power.

All sides have strictly adhered to the letter of the deal: Iran has dramatically reduced the scale of its nuclear infrastructure – reconfiguring a heavy water nuclear reactor and a deeply buried uranium enrichment facility, for example – while keeping a limited capacity to produce fuel for nuclear energy. And non-nuclear sanctions have been lifted, partially ushering Iran back into the global economy.

But the deal has not yet enhanced Rouhani’s ability to fulfill his promise of expanding social freedoms, or of creating a less securitized atmosphere. In fact, the opposite may be true, after steady warnings from Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, about “infiltration” and “soft war” from the United States and the West.

US and European banks also are proving reluctant to engage with Iran, fearful that non-nuclear US sanctions might bite, thereby depriving Iran of the full hoped-for benefits of the deal. The House is readying new measures this week that will impose further sanctions over terrorism and human rights abuses, or limit Iran’s use of the dollar, all of which the White House says it will veto………..http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2016/0714/Year-after-nuclear-deal-Iran-s-high-expectations-not-met

July 15, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Teresa May has the opportunity now to stop the Hinkley nuclear boondoggle

text Hinkley cancelledMay can make a point at Hinkley , The Times,  alistair osborne, 14 July 16      that’s it then: Theresa May is now in charge of Britain’s nuclear button. So why waste the chance to make an immediate impact? She should press it pronto and blow up Hinkley Point C.

What better start could she make than that? No project better sums up the doomed Cameron/Osborne alliance than the overpriced Somerset nuke, built as it is on little more than a giant Franco-Sino bribe. Or rather not being built, given its myriad financial and technical deficiencies. At a stroke, Mrs May could deliver the nation the warmest of nuclear glows, distance her regime from her predecessor’s… (subscribers only) http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/may-can-make-a-point-at-hinkley-qch0jb775

July 15, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Nuclear plant retirements are likely to continue

nukes-sad-Fitch: US Nuclear Retirements Continue Amid Low Power Prices http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160714005752/en/Fitch-Nuclear-Retirements-Continue-Power-Prices July 14, 2016

Nuclear plant retirements driven by economic and policy headwinds are likely to continue. Based on announced nuclear retirements, Fitch Ratings expects that the amount of retired and retiring gigawatts (GW) will outpace new nuclear plant additions between 2013 and 2025.

Key factors driving the shutdowns include low natural gas prices due to abundant US supply and actual and anticipated penetration of renewable generation and regulatory constructs that do not adequately compensate for nuclear energy’s non-emitting attributes.

The recent spate of announced nuclear facility retirements is not surprising in light of the depth and duration of the current extended downturn in wholesale power prices and policy challenges faced by nuclear plant operators. Plant closings appear likely to continue unless there are policy changes to address market structures and incentives.

While smaller single-unit merchant nuclear facilities are particularly vulnerable, larger rate-regulated and merchant nuclear facilities are also at risk.

For more information on this topic, see Fitch’s full rating report on “Pacific Gas and Electric Company,” available on our website at www.fitchratings.com.

Additional information is available on www.fitchratings.com.

July 15, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Britain’s new Government axes climate department

exclamation-flag-UKGovernment axes climate department By Paul RinconScience editor, BBC News website, 14 July 16,  The government has axed the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) in a major departmental shake-up.

The brief will be folded into an expanded Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy under Greg Clark.

Ed Miliband, the former energy and climate secretary under Labour, called the move “plain stupid”.

It comes at a time when campaigners are urging the government to ratify the Paris climate change deal…….One of the most pressing items on the environment agenda is the ratification of the Paris climate deal, which was inked last year.

The climate “sceptic” group Global Warming Policy Forum has long demanded the demise of Decc, so alarm bells are ringing loudly for some green groups……

The Green Party and Friends of the Earth, for instance, see the move as potentially a major downgrade for climate as a government priority.

Decc has made the UK a world leader in climate policy, and scrapping the department removes the words “climate change” from the title of any department. Out of sight, out of mind, in the basement, perhaps…….http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-36788162

July 15, 2016 Posted by | climate change, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) to stymie climate action?

climate-changeTIP proposal casts doubt on G20 climate pledge, leaked EU draft shows  Draft proposal reveals new loopholes on a pledge to phase out fossil fuel subsidies within a decade, Guardian, , 13 July 16, Trade negotiators in Brussels are proposing new loopholes on a G20 pledge to phase out fossil fuel subsidies within a decade, in the latest leaked TTIP proposalsseen by the Guardian.

The EU’s draft text for a trade and sustainable development chapter also appears to draw an equivalence between the need to prevent trade distortions and the fight against climate change.

The leak will provide fresh ammunition to critics of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) free trade deal, who fear that its provisions could undermine hard-won climate commitments.

One of these was a pledge in May to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies by 2025 – which currently run at $10m (£7.5m) a minute – by G7 ministers at a summit in Japan……..https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/13/ttip-proposal-casts-doubt-on-g20-climate-pledge-leaked-eu-draft-shows

July 15, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

U.S. Plans to Saturate Globe With Weapons

du_roundsU.S. Plans to Saturate Globe With Weapons http://davidswanson.org/node/5211#.V4enaFLKUhw.linkedin by davidswanson My headline above is a plain English translation of this Pentagonspeak found in a Reuters headline today: “Demand for U.S. arms exports set to keep growing, official says.”

As the United States and NATO antagonize Russia, and pressure NATO members to buy more weapons, and showcase U.S. weapons in numerous wars, and use every carrot and stick in the State Department to market U.S. weapons, an “official” who happens to have been located at a giant weapons trade show predicts that of its own accord “demand” for weaponry is going to grow. Here’s Reuters’ first sentence:

“International demand for U.S. weapons systems is expected to continue growing in coming years, a senior U.S. Air Force official said on Sunday, citing strong interest in unmanned systems, munitions and fighter jets.”

Thus is the proliferation of drones around the world spun as something positive, along with bombs and jets. And thus is it spun as something that simply results from the quality and desirability of the products.

Quick, which five nations do you most want murdering their enemies with missiles from drones over the United States?

Meanwhile, the United States already exports the majority of weapons exported on earth, including the majority of weapons to war-torn regions like the Middle East that don’t manufacture their own weapons but rather suffer from their import as did Native Americans from alcohol or Chinese from opium. U.S. citizens content themselves with fantasizing that the war business is patriotic, while their nations’ killers battle against U.S. weapons sold by profiteers who have only customers, no enemies.

“‘The appetite just keeps getting bigger and bigger,’ U.S. Air Force Deputy Undersecretary Heidi Grant told Reuters in an interview on the eve of the Farnborough International Airshow. U.S. arms sales approved by the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency rose 36 percent to $46.6 billion in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2015, and are likely to remain strong this year, Grant said.”

“There are good-hearted people,” wrote Jan Oberg last week, “who believe that countries have competent experts who along a series of indicators measure and judge which security challenge are waiting in the future – and a series analyses of the threat towards their country on this or that time horizon. The probability of each threat is also evaluated – to help politicians with limited budgets to allocate money to guard against some ‘realistic’ but not all possible/thinkable threats.”

In reality, Oberg explains, the war business generates sales and invents justifications for them. Which came first, the enemy or the bombs? The bombs. Listen to this, from Reuters:

“Grant, the Air Force’s top international arms sales official, said she was working with many countries in eastern Europe and others that wanted to increase their defenses following Russia’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine, but faced tough budget constraints.”

Now there’s not actually any secret around the facts here. The United States, led by Victoria Nuland, who awaits a top appointment in a Hillary Clinton regime, facilitated a coup in Ukraine, installing an anti-Russian government. Then the people of Crimea voted to join Russia. Then the United States began pushing weapons on Eastern European countries as necessary to defend against such “Russian aggression.” Then NATO had a meeting this past weekend to plan for war with Russia.

Each of those events has a date, and their order is not in any dispute. Back in May the Politico newspaper reported on Pentagon testimony in Congress to the effect that Russia had a superior and threatening military, but followed that with this:

“‘This is the “Chicken-Little, sky-is-falling” set in the Army,’ the senior Pentagon officer said. ‘These guys want us to believe the Russians are 10 feet tall. There’s a simpler explanation: The Army is looking for a purpose, and a bigger chunk of the budget. And the best way to get that is to paint the Russians as being able to land in our rear and on both of our flanks at the same time. What a crock.”

Politico then cited a less-than-credible “study” of Russian military superiority and aggression and added:

“While the reporting about the Army study made headlines in the major media, a large number in the military’s influential retired community, including former senior Army officers, rolled their eyes. ‘That’s news to me,’ one of these highly respected officers told me. ‘Swarms of unmanned aerial vehicles? Surprisingly lethal tanks? How come this is the first we’ve heard of it?”

But what better to scare Poland with than swarms of Russian drones, real or otherwise? Go back to the fact that the U.S. Air Force has a “top international arms sales official.” What purpose does that individual serve under the U.S. Constitution?

July 15, 2016 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

If Amazon forest catches fire, world climate will be in even bigger trouble

Why we should all worry about the Amazon catching on fire this year, WP, By Chris Mooney July 12 When you Google “Amazon fires,” the first thing you encounter is a tablet device. But in the coming months, if scientific forecasts prove correct, that may change.

Researchers are increasingly concerned that the Amazon rain forest — the world’s largest tropical forest, a huge repository of carbon and a vital cycler of water into rainfall across much of South America — will soon burn in a way that has not been seen in many years.

The reason is the lingering effect of the recent El Nino event. Forecasts from NASA and the University of California-Irvine, and from the International Research Institute for Climate and Society suggest that because of how El Nino reduced precipitation in the region earlier this year, the Amazon is far drier than usual, and primed to burn once the dry season reaches its height this summer (the fire season runs from June through November with a September peak).

According to the NASA/U.C. Irvine forecast, the Amazon is currently “far drier than 2005 and 2010 — the last years when the region experienced drought.” The years 2005 and 2010 also saw major blazes in the Amazon.

Indeed, the NASA/U.C. Irvine researchers shared data suggesting that the storage of water in the Amazon in March of 2016, as measured by NASA’s twin GRACE satellites (which detect gravitational anomalies at the Earth’s surface), is far lower now than it was in March during these prior years.

“We have the possibility of killing hundreds of thousands of trees in the Amazon in 2016, if you let these fires start,” says Paulo Brando, an Amazon fire expert at the Woods Hole Research Center and Ipam (the Amazon Environmental Research Institute).

If these forecasts are verified, there will be a great deal at stake. It isn’t just that huge, dangerous clouds of smoke could reach major urban areas ranging from Manaus to Rio. It’s that the fires risk helping to tip the Amazon into a new state that scientists fear — one in which it will be drier, store less carbon, cycle less water and generate less rainfall.

That would be disastrous for the Earth’s climate overall. The Amazon alone stores an enormous amount of carbon,  120 billion tons worth. Put that stuff in the atmosphere and the result would be justly termed catastrophic………

It is important to note that so far, what we are looking at are bad fire forecasts for this summer in the Amazon — but not a catastrophe at this point. The forecasts may not be realized. (That happens!) And the forecasts could also drive at least some action in Brazil and other Amazon countries to take steps to prevent people from starting fires, blunting the potential consequences of drought.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that scientists continue to talk about the Amazon in the same way they talk about, say, West Antarctica or the overturning circulation of the Atlantic Ocean — as a delicate system that we could tip, with enormous consequences. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/07/12/the-ultimate-forest-fire-whatll-happen-when-the-amazon-burns/

July 15, 2016 Posted by | Brazil, climate change, SOUTH AMERICA | Leave a comment

New York’s Governor Cuomo should invest clean energy funds in actual clean energy, not dirty nuclear

dirty-nuclearNew York’s Governor Would Rather Prop Up the Nuclear Industry Than Invest in Renewable Energy, By Jessica Azulay / AlterNet July 13, 2016

Why doesn’t Cuomo invest clean energy funds in actual clean energy, such as solar and wind? New York is poised to dump $7.6 billion into dirty, dangerous and aging nuclear power plants as part of a policy that Governor Andrew Cuomo is calling the Clean Energy Standard. Although this policy would provide support for renewable energy by requiring utilities to meet New York’s goal of producing 50 percent of electricity from renewable energy by 2030, the real money in the plan is sadly reserved for bailing out nuclear plants. The governor wants to keep several aging nuclear plants open to preserve jobs in two upstate communities.

That may be good politics—and certainly no one wants those people to lose their jobs—but there are substantial drawbacks, including putting millions of New Yorkers at risk. Why doesn’t the governor invest clean energy funds in actual clean energy, such as solar and wind?

To put the 12-year, $7.6 billion plan into perspective, consider that Cuomo’s NY-Sun program, which pays for the state’s solar incentives, is slated to invest only $1 billion into the solar industry over 10 years. That billion dollars has supported the creation of a lot of jobs. Halfway through NY-Sun’s life, New York state has benefitted from the creation of 8,000 solar jobs. Conversely, the $7.6 billion to keep nuclear plants open will save about 2,000 jobs. Based on this math, the money would be better spent invested in solar energy. If the governor wants to give existing nuclear workers a helping hand, he could also provide renewable energy companies incentives to hire them.

Left as it is, the nuclear subsidy policy would turn on its head New York’s promise to lead the nation in renewable energy and instead leave New York and Governor Cuomo leading the nation in nuclear subsidies for old and dangerous reactors. The so-called Clean Energy Standard would spend twice the amount of money on dirty energy as it would on renewables. That is preposterous.

The plants that the state wants to prop up are failures both financially and technologically………

Thousands of New Yorkers and over 100 organizations have criticized these nuclear subsidies, instead calling for the governor to let dangerous and unprofitable nuclear plants close and to invest our money in renewable energy and energy efficiency instead. But on July 8, the governor’s Public Service Commission went the opposite direction, releasing a new, expensive version of the proposed subsidies. The commission is giving the public a paltry 10 days to comment while the governor stated to the press Wednesday he is working to finalize a deal to keep FitzPatrick open to save 600 jobs and use nuclear as a so-called “clean energy bridge” at the cost of billions of dollars.

Governor Cuomo should protect the safety of millions of New Yorkers. He should say no to subsidizing the nuclear industry and yes to New York’s clean and green energy economy. Call him today at (518) 474-8390http://www.alternet.org/environment/new-yorks-governor-andrew-cuomo-would-rather-prop-nuclear-industry-invest-renewable

July 15, 2016 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Dame Vivienne Westwood DBE now patron of Stop Hinkley Nuclear Campaign

Stop Hinkley Campaign Gains Vivienne Westwood As Patron http://blueandgreentomorrow.com/2016/07/13/stop-hinkley-campaign-gains-vivienne-westwood-patron/   Dame Vivienne Westwood DBE has announced that she will become a patron of the Stop Hinkley Campaign as a result of EDF Energy’s plans to build two large new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

The French Trade Unions have declared that they remain convinced the Hinkley project should be postponed until a litany of problems has been solved, and there is increasing speculation that the project will be ditched after the Brexit vote. Now the Stop Hinkley Campaign is re-doubling its efforts to ensure that this foolhardy scheme is cancelled as soon as possible.

Fashion designer and activist, Vivienne Westwood said: “Hinkley Point C is not a solution to the climate change problem. It will simply trap us into the same system that gave us fossil fuels. We need a different sort of economy – a fair economy founded on true human values, and cheap and infinite sustainable energy.”

She continued: “Climate change is a global emergency, we can’t wait around while the big utilities build expensive and dangerous nuclear plant, which is late and over-budget. We need to start building a sustainable energy system now.

It is perfectly feasible, quicker and cheaper, to replace all the proposed nuclear stations by reducing our energy consumption.”

Stop Hinkley spokesperson Roy Pumfrey says: “Vivienne Westwood is a welcome addition to our growing list of patrons. She will be helping us to spearhead a drive for new members. Unlike Government Ministers, she understands that nuclear power is seriously damaging our efforts to tackle climate change. The campaign against the white elephant Hinkley Point C project is going from strength to strength.”

July 15, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Hungary says shuts reactor at Paks nuclear plant due to malfunction

http://uk.reuters.com/article/hungary-nuclear-stoppage-idUKL8N1A028K BUDAPEST, JULY 14, Hungary shut the first reactor block of the Paks nuclear powers plant on Thursday due to a malfunction in the control equipment, the Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority said.

The block automatically stopped due to the malfunction, its safety was not threatened and it remains safe, it said in a statement on its website.

July 15, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment