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Moorside nuclear power project now at serious risk

Moorside Failing New Nuclear Programme should be Scrapped No2NuclearPower, No.93 March 2017

Doubts Plans for three new AP1000 reactors to be built at Moorside in Cumbria next to Sellafield are now at risk from the financial crisis engulfing Toshiba. Toshiba owns 60% of Nugen, the consortium working on the plans. Nugen has said it wants to take a final investment decision by the end of 2018 in order to generate the first power in about 2025. However, it already faces an uphill battle to secure financing in time. Toshiba and France’s Engie, which owns the remaining 40% of NuGen, are believed to have been in talks for months with South Korea’s Kepco and are also understood to be talking to the UK and Japanese governments about potential financial support. (11)

But Kepco told the FT that it was not in talks with Toshiba about participation in NuGen, although several people involved in the process said South Korean investment was the best chance of keeping the project alive. “It’s hard to see how Moorside can go ahead without Kepco,” said one senior nuclear industry figure. It is thought that if Kepco were to get involved it would prefer to use its own reactor design, the APR-1400, rather than Westinghouse’s AP1000. This would set the project back at least four years because the Korean technology would need approval from UK regulators, while Westinghouse’s has nearly completed the clearance process. (12)

Cumbrians may be glad to see the back of corruption-plagued Toshiba ‒ but corruption-plagued South Korean utility KEPCO wouldn’t be much of an improvement. Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment (CORE) commented:“KEPCO is itself still emerging from a major scandal that surfaced in 2012 involving bribery, corruption and faked safety tests for critical nuclear plant equipment which resulted in a prolonged shut-down of a number of nuclear power stations and the jailing of power engineers and parts suppliers.” (13)

Engie has also sounded increasingly lukewarm about Nugen, with Isabelle Kocher, chief executive, saying last year that there was “a place for nuclear new-build in the world, but less than before”. In December it was reported that Engie would like to abandon its 40% share of Nugen. (14)

US nuclear firms can only deal with overseas companies if the countries have a nuclear cooperation agreement. The US holds such an agreement with Euratom but not with the UK, raising the possibility that Westinghouse could be unable to continue working on the project once Britain leaves Euratom until a new bilateral deal is signed.

After much speculation that Toshiba would withdraw from the NuGen consortium, it now says it will “consider” a continued role in the development, so long as it can avoid any involvement in construction. Having completed a review of overseas nuclear operations, the company said it will seek to “exclude risk inherent on construction work and focus on equipment supply and engineering” in future. (15)

If NuGen is to make a final investment decision in 2018 and get the reactors up and running by 2025 there are huge challenges still to be overcome – a timescale many in the industry already think is highly unrealistic. The fact that Toshiba will no longer take on any of the financial risk of construction means Moorside is only likely to go ahead if new investors can be found to build the plant. (16)

March 4, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, UK | Leave a comment

The nuclear problems of EDF  

Poster EDF menteurNo2NuclearPower, No.93 March 2017

The French government is selling assets so it can prop up its heavily indebted nuclear utilities. EDF announced in 2015 that it would divest €10bn of assets by 2020 to ease its debt load ‒ which now stands at €37.4bn. EDF, which is supposed to be building a new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point, issued three profit warnings last year following a string of unplanned nuclear plant shutdowns.

EDF is contending with a government-directed restructuring of the French nuclear industry, and is being pushed by the French state, its controlling shareholder, to rescue reactor builder Areva by taking over the part of its struggling business that is behind EPR technology. The EPR reactor that EDF is building at Flamanville in France is already six years late and €7.2bn over budget. A large drop in French nuclear output over the winter due to safety inspections on 18 of its French reactors, at the request of the country’s nuclear regulator ASN, was partly to blame for a sharp drop in profits. Furthermore, the company is saddled with debt and needs to spend €55bn upgrading its existing reactors in France. (4) A recent report for Greenpeace France suggests that if EDF has to close 17 of its 58 reactors to meet the government’s requirement that nuclear power should provide 50% of the nation’s electricity in 2025, then EDF will have to increase its provisions by more than €20 billion. The cost of handling nuclear waste will add at least €33.5 billion to that figure. (5)

A French parliamentary committee said that EDF would need a public bailout to meet the cost of closing ageing power stations. The warning was issued after unions expressed fury about an announcement that EDF plans to cut 3,900 jobs in France over the next three years. Jean-Marc Sylvestre, an economics commentator, said that the group was on the “edge of a precipice” and faced a choice between privatisation and bankruptcy. He described EDF’s situation as a “catastrophe foretold”. EDF’ s critics say that the company, which has debts of more than €37 billion lacks the financial resources to meet its commitments in France, let alone embark upon the Hinkley Point scheme. Their concerns were fuelled with the publication of a report by the committee for sustainable development, which accused EDF of failing to plan for the dismantling of its plants. (6) EDF has only set aside has €36 billion to pay to clean up reactors at the end of their working lives, whereas it needs €75 billion. EDF disputes the figures. (7)

March 4, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, France | 1 Comment

The nuclear problems of Hitachi

Hitachi NO2NuclearPower, March 2  017Meanwhile the Japanese company Hitachi which is planning to build the proposed plant at Wylfa on Anglesey, is set to lose tens of billions of yen this financial year after withdrawing from a uranium enrichment joint venture in the US. Hitachi is expected to report a 70 billion yen ($620 million) non-operating loss by the time books are closed at the end of March. The deficit is largely attributed to the joint venture GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Inc. withdrawing from the uranium enrichment project. Hitachi no longer expects any profits from the North Carolinabased company, of which it owns 40% and the rest by General Electric. Hitachi and GE were expecting more nuclear power plants to be built when they launched the joint fuel enrichment business, but orders have been sluggish across the globe, forcing the project to be shelved. Nevertheless, Hitachi says it will be sticking with its nuclear power business. The company said No2NuclearPower nuClear news No.93, March 2017 4 that it plans to proceed with its project to build a plant in Britain by ensuring costs are thoroughly managed. (8)

In its favour is the fact that four ABWR reactors – the type of reactor it wants to build at Wylfa – have actually been built, in Japan. But their reliability has been poor. (9) The 2011 accident at Fukushima closed down all Japanese reactors, but according to IAEA the load factor – the proportion of time the reactors were generating power – for those ABWRs in the period between 2007-11 had been below 50%. (10

March 4, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, Japan, UK | Leave a comment

UK taxpayers up for tens of billions of pounds sterling as govt bends to pressure to build new nuclear reactors

screw-the-taxpayerflag-UKTens of billions of taxpayers money at risk as pressure mounts to spend billions more on new nuclear  Dave Toke’s green energy blog  

 Giant portions of public spending are now at risk of pouring down a nuclear power black hole as calls for the Government to make direct investments into new nuclear power plant intensify. Ultimately the sums at risk would be much larger than the Government’s own estimates of the cost of the Trident nuclear weapons system.Former Minister and House of Commons Energy Committee Chair Tim Yeo is the latest to call for the Government to take ‘minority’ equity shares in new nuclear  projects. There has been a flurry of such demands in the wake of the near bankruptcy of Toshiba, who spearhead the 3GW proposed plant at Moorside in Cumbria.

In fact nuclear power is proving to be virtually undeliverable and ruinously expensive in western countries. Toshiba’s problems stem from the fact that they own Westinghouse who are responsible for the construction (so-far non-construction) of AP1000 reactors in South Carolina and Georgia in the USA. These plant are as costly as the failing French EPR design that is so disastrous in  the cases of the Finnish and French reactors, something which is bankrupting the French nuclear industry and EDF.

Despite the manifest bankruptcy of the technology, rather than question whether it is right to continue with the new nuclear programme, its supporters are in effect wanting to bet the British economy on it. If the Treasury are forced against their will to sanction ‘equity’ stakes in new nuclear reactors, the losses and., eventually, all the liabilities will fall on the UK Government. Nobody else will invest in the projects unless the Government guarantees the lot.

Hinkley C (3.2GW planned) will cost over £24 billion according to the European Commission. The reactors at Moorside and Wylfa, assuming they cost similar amounts, would thus make the taxpayer responsible for around £50 billion of debt. People will claim that the Government is ‘only’ taking a minority equity stake. That’s how it will start, and then would represent an enormous amount of state spending and liabilities. After all one quarter of £24 billion is still £6 billion. But it won’t end there, as sure as night follows day, not with the construction costs as well as the rest. It never does with nuclear power!Normally of course under the Government’s ‘low carbon’ programme, project raise their own finance and the project owners earns their money from premium price contracts (CfDs) awarded through the Government. That is always the case with renewable energy projects. They find their own money. Electricity consumers pay a premium price to enable this on their bills. But now for nuclear to go ahead, so it is said, not only will the consumers have to pay a high premium price, but taxpayers will have to fund at least part of the construction as well. This is money, please note, that will disappear from the Government’s coffers as the plant is built – it is not something that will be shuffled onto future generations like decommissioning

The fact that the Government is effectively financing the building will produce a conflict of interests with the Government negotiating with itself in setting the CfD price. No doubt a ‘lower’ CfD price will be set (that is less than the notorious Hinkley C price) when in fact it will be the taxpayer that will end up paying out countless billions for the projects.

Annual spending on primary education is around £26 billion. Hence building just Moorside will give the Government liabilities (which are likely to be paid by the Government) which will rival this spending.

But then to listen to some people, you’d think building Moorside was more important than closing down all primary schools for a year.

It isn’t.

Some sources:

March 4, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Electric cars can bring a Zero Carbon Energy Grid

Nissan electric test car. Photo by JM Rosenfeld (flickr). CC BY-SA 2.0. Wikimedia Commons. Electric Cars are the Missing Link to a Zero Carbon Energy Grid, Skeptical Science  2 March 2017 by Ryan Logtenberg, (good graphs) Since the start of the industrial revolution, humans have released hundreds of billions of tons of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere, acidifying oceans, increasing the frequency of extreme weather events, raising sea levels with the worst effects yet to come.  The general consensus gleaned from the Paris Climate Summit in 2015 is that in order to halt the relentless march of climate change and its forecasted catastrophic consequences, one step we need to take is to transform our fossil fuel based economy to one powered by zero-emission renewable energy.

The good news is that investments in solar and wind generation have become competitive and in many cases cheaper and more profitable than similar investments in fossil fuels. The graphs below shows how solar and wind installations in the US have beaten fossil fuel installations for the past 3 years.

Globally, the conversation has shifted from “can renewables compete with fossil fuels?” to “how much intermittent renewable energy can our power grid handle?”  Currently power grids rely on a steady and predictable stream of power generation. They can handle only so much of the fluctuation that comes from solar (surges during the day) and wind (surges when it’s windy).

The investment required in energy storage facilities to fulfill the needs of a 100% renewable energy grid is typically believed to be very high. Essentially millions of large industrial-scale batteries or creative energy storage solutions are needed to smooth out the surges. But what is often forgotten is that a creative solution is currently being built at an accelerating rate, in the form of vehicle batteries from the budding electric transportation system. Electric vehicles will herald in a new age of clean air on busy city streets, but they can also serve a secondary purpose of solving the energy storage issue of renewables.

Mass adoption of electric vehicles is coming.  Many of the drawbacks of electric vehicles are quickly being addressed: From inexpensive vehicles with  200-335 miles of range, to the rapid expansion of ultra fast charging stations that can charge vehicles to 80% in 15 minutes or less.  Several countries in Europe now see zero emission vehicles as the logical solution to addressing air pollution and are looking to implement bans on new fossil-fuel powered vehicles as early as 2025.  Some major cities are even going a step further and will be banning all diesel powered vehicles from their cities.  Clearly,  the age of the fossil fuelled powered vehicle is quickly coming to an end.   But, how big of an impact can an electrified transportation sector have in creating a green energy grid?  Well let’s look at the numbers:……….

An Intensive peer reviewed study titled “Cost-minimized combinations of wind power, solar power and electrochemical storage, powering the grid up to 99.9% of the time” evaluated billions of 100% renewable energy grid scenarios using 4 years of real weather and grid load data.  They concluded that with 15kWh set aside from each electric car for grid energy storage a 100% renewable energy grid could power 90%-99.9% of hours entirely on renewable electricity, at costs comparable to today’s prices.  Something to note is that the study was done in 2013 before the second generation of electric vehicles like the Chevy Bolt, Tesla 3 and other large battery, mass market vehicles were introduced to the public.  Using 45 kWh for battery storage from a Chevy Bolt instead of 15kWh that was used in the study would increase total storage capacity by 300% making it a whole lot easier and cheaper to run America’s grid on renewables.

V2G integration into our zero carbon energy grid makes sense because it eliminates the needs for investing in expensive energy storage since the vehicles we will be driving could already provide that service.  It also allows a vehicle owner that participates in V2G services to generate revenue from their vehicle while they sleep…….

As the same factors hold true for electric vehicles, don’t be surprised when you see a substantial reduction in total US greenhouse gas emissions from a zero carbon energy and transportation sector occurring sooner than you think.   You can help accelerate this transition by making a pledge that your next vehicle will be electric.


March 4, 2017 Posted by | climate change, ENERGY, USA | Leave a comment

Worker sneaked a gun into a nuclear power station

Contractor brings firearm into nuke plant, Adam Smith, 4 Mar 17, A decision by a contractor to bring a firearm into the protected area at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant Thursday led to the plant declaring an “Unusual Event,” an official said Friday.

Ray Hopson, spokesman with the Tennessee Valley Authority, said the contractor is working as part of the scheduled refueling outage on the plant’s Unit 2. The firearm, a small-caliber derringer, was not discovered on the worker’s person, he said.

 The firearm was brought through the plant’s stringent security portal. Hopson said TVA Nuclear has taken compensatory measures to bolster security screening across its fleet.

There were no injuries or safety threats to employees or to the public.

 The Unusual Event, which is the least severe of the four emergency classifications, was declared at 12:30 p.m., Hopson said. Officials with the Alabama Emergency Management Agency and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission were notified. The plant exited the Unusual Event at 3 p.m.

He said the contractor was escorted off the site and his nuclear access clearance was revoked.

“TVA Police are conducting an investigation to determine the next steps in the legal process relating to potential violations of federal statutes,” Hopson said. “The company takes this incident seriously and is in communication with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to evaluate performance and ensure that proper steps are taken to prevent a recurrence.”

March 4, 2017 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Decentralised Energy – it’s the future for Britain

 No 2NuclearPower, nuClear news No.93, March 2017  2014 saw a spate of reports from Investment Banks and energy analysts which concluded that, amongst other things, conventional utility models are no longer fit for purpose. The reports highlighted the changes to the old centralised utility model which are on the horizon and the importance of new technologies. They suggested that decentralised energy supply will be increasingly important in the future. (See nuClear News No.68 – Decentralised Energy Marches On).

UBS, for instance, declared that it is “time to join the [solar] revolution”. Citi Research predicted “that solar, wind, and biomass continue to gain market share from coal and nuclear into the future”.

As far back as 2012 Moody’s said:

“What were once considered stable companies have seen their business models severely disrupted. Given that further increases in renewables are expected, these negative pressures will continue to erode the credit quality of thermal based utilities in the near to medium term .” (1)

At the beginning of 2016 the Chief Executive of Engie UK, Wilfrid Petrie, predicted “…the emergence of a new type of organisation within cities,” which don’t want to sell a huge amount of energy but focus instead on the demand side. “The future is going to be much more about decentralized energy,” he said. (2)

Now finally EDF may be catching up. Les Echos, the French business newspaper, carried an extraordinary article from Senior Vice President Marc Boillot who said “large nuclear or thermal power plants designed to function as baseload are challenged by the more flexible decentralized model”. He says that the centralised model of power production is dying, to be replaced by local solar and wind, supplemented by batteries and intelligent management of supply and demand. Not only will this be cheaper in the long run but customers are actually prepared to pay more for solar electricity and actively work to reduce usage at times of shortage. His conclusion is that “the traditional model must adapt to the new realities, thus allowing the utilities to emerge from …hypercentralized structures in a world that is becoming more and more decentralized”. (3)

March 4, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

NRC Approves License Transfer of FitzPatrick Nuclear Plant  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved the transfer of the operating license of the James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in upstate New York from Entergy Nuclear Operations to Exelon Generation Co. The transfer will become effective March 31 once the NRC amends the license to reflect the plant’s new ownership.

Entergy had announced plans to cease operations at FitzPatrick in January, citing unfavorable economic conditions. Exelon agreed to purchase the plant and keep it operating after the New York Public Service Commission approved zero-emission credits for nuclear power plants. The two companies jointly applied for the license transfer on Aug. 18. FitzPatrick is a boiling-water reactor located near the shore of Lake Ontario in Scriba, N.Y., about six miles northeast of Oswego. It is licensed to operate through Oct. 17, 2034. The license transfer includes the generally licensed independent spent fuel storage installation located on the plant grounds.

The NRC staff’s review of the license transfer application concluded that Exelon is financially and technically qualified to conduct the activities under the license, has satisfied the NRC’s decommissioning funding assurance requirements for the facility, and is not owned, controlled, or dominated by a foreign entity.

March 4, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

US Senators introduce Bill to promote easier licensing of nuclear reactors

Buy politiciansBipartisan group of senators introduce Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act, Wyoming Business Report ,WBR Staff, Mar 2, 2017 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), joined with Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Joe Manchin (D-WV) in introducing S. 512, the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA).

S. 512 will promote innovation in the nuclear sector by enabling processes for licensing new reactors…….

To view full text of the legislation, click here.

Barrasso’s home state of Wyoming has the largest known uranium reserves in the nation.

March 4, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Hinkley Point C – “risky and poor value for money” – House of Lords Committee

Hinkley-nuclear-power-plantNo2Nuclear Power nuClear news No.93, March 2017

The Hinkley Point C nuclear plant is risky and poor value for money, according to a House of Lords committee that urged the government to set out a “plan B” in case the £18 billion project is not built on time. (1)

In a damning report on energy policy, the Lords economic affairs committee said that household energy bills had already soared by 58% since 2003 and the risk of blackouts had increased, in part due to “poorly designed government interventions, in pursuit of decarbonisation”. Ministers should abandon plans to award subsidies to future nuclear plants through bilateral deals like that given to Hinkley, the committee said. Instead such projects should be forced to compete against wind farms, solar power farms and gas-fired power stations to find the cheapest way of keeping the lights on and cutting emissions. The committee said that the government should ensure that “the security of the UK’s energy supply is the priority of its energy policy” and suggested that climate change targets be “managed flexibly”. Lord Hollick, the committee’s chairman, highlighted Hinkley – which was signed off by Theresa May in September – as “a good example of the way policy has become unbalanced and affordability neglected”, and described it as “very, very expensive”. (2)

The total cost to consumers for Hinkley Point C is estimated to be £30bn. The committee called for an independent Energy Commission to advise Government on how to achieve an optimum balance of its three key objectives to keep the lights on at low cost while cutting carbon. “It would not be entirely different to the role that the OBR plays with regards to the Treasury. What it would do is provide a degree of transparency, not only for the Government itself to make its decisions but for industry and observers and analysts so that there is a greater degree of accountability as opposed to confusion,” he said. (3)

On the other hand the report was slammed by some environmentalists and renewable energy advocates for calling for decarbonisation to be relegated in favour of security of affordable supply. Critics said its conclusions were ‘out of touch’ and ‘backward-looking’. The report was accused of arguing that generation of electricity from fossil fuels is cheaper than renewable sources and that subsidies provided to clean energy generation have resulted in considerably higher costs for consumers……..

March 4, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

The financial cost to electricity consumers of subsidies for Upstate NY nuclear plants

text-my-money-2How will subsidies for Upstate NY nuclear plants affect your electric bill?, By Tim Knauss |   “…….State regulators ordered utilities to begin collecting the money next month to cover $462 million in annual subsidies the state will pay. The money goes to the  Nine Mile Point, FitzPatrick and Ginna nuclear plants in return for producing low-carbon power. The Public Service Commission said sustaining the nukes will save jobs and prevent greenhouse gas emissions from increasing.Thanks to the extra revenue, the once money-losing nuclear plants are now expected to add millions to the profits of parent company Exelon Corp. Exelon owns Nine Mile Point and Ginna, and expects to complete the purchase of FitzPatrick from Entergy Corp. this spring.

— The new surcharge

New York utilities will file tariffs this month detailing the rates they will charge to collect the nuclear subsidy payments. There will be minor variations among utilities, but the rates should all be close to $0.0033 per kilowatt-hour (KWH), regulators say. That’s one-third of one cent per KWH.

For a residential customer using 600 kilowatt-hours per month, the surcharge will add about $2. Use 900 KWH per month, and the charge grows to $3.

Large commercial and industrial customers will pay much more. A typical large hospital uses more than 1 million KWH per month. Onondaga County, with facilities ranging from a jail to a sewage treatment plant, used more than 10 million KWH per month in 2012, according to the county’s climate action plan.

Each utility will turn over what it collects to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which then pays the plant owners. NYSERDA signed contracts with each of the three nuke plants to buy their “zero emission credits,” or ZECs, as compensation for producing electricity without carbon emissions.

For the first two years, the ZECs will be priced at roughly 1.75 cents per kilowatt-hour of power produced. The prices will be recalculated every two years after that. The amount of the subsidies will decrease if wholesale power prices increase.

Nuclear profits rise

Exelon told investors last month that its cash flow and profit outlook have improved thanks to the New York nuclear subsidies and a similar program adopted in Illinois.

In December, four months after New York regulators created ZECs to subsidize struggling Upstate nuclear plants, Illinois passed a law creating ZECs to bail out two nuclear plants that Exelon had threatened to close in that state. Beginning in June, Exelon will receive $235 million in annual ZEC payments for the Clinton and Quad Cities plants.

In a conference call with investors, Exelon executives said the ZEC programs in New York and Illinois are expected to boost the company’s gross margin (revenues minus fuel and purchased power costs) by $400 million this year and by $600 million in 2019.

The legal challenges

The New York nuclear subsidies face a legal challenge in federal court in Manhattan, where a group of non-nuclear generating companies has sued the Public Service Commission, claiming the subsidies interfere with wholesale markets. The lawsuit is attracting national attention from industry watchers.

An expert who is under contract to monitor wholesale markets for the grid operator in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland filed a brief in the case warning that the nuclear subsidies could distort markets even beyond New York state. But two environmental groups, National Resources Defense Council and Environmental Protection Fund, filed briefs defending the subsidies as a legitimate effort to control carbon emissions.

Last week, a Harvard University energy expert asked the judge to provide an audio feed to courtroom hearings so that anyone could dial in and listen. U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni has not yet responded to the request.

If the case goes to trial, it probably will not be resolved before summer, after the subsidies take effect, according to the transcript of a conference between the judge and lawyers.

second lawsuit filed in state Supreme Court in Albany also aims to overturn the nuclear subsidy program. The state lawsuit was filed by environmental group Hudson River Sloop Clearwater and organic farm Goshen Green Farms. They claim the PSC failed to follow correct procedures by approving the subsidies too hastily and by adopting regulations that were “arbitrary and capricious.”

That lawsuit is pending.

Contact reporter Tim Knauss anytime | email | Twitter | 315-470-3023

March 4, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Georgia Power Suspends Study for Nuclear Plant Near Columbus Georgia Power is suspending its study of a site near Columbus for a new nuclear power plant. March 3, 2017, LUMPKIN, Ga. (AP

In a letter Wednesday to the Georgia Public Service Commission, the utility told officials that the proposed nuclear plant in Stewart County would not be needed as soon as previously expected.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ( reports that the preliminary study was expected to cost $99 million. Georgia Power says halting the study “is unlikely to delay the ability to deploy new nuclear when needed by customers.”

While the Atlanta-based utility cited demand forecasts, the decision also comes as Georgia Power’s parent Southern Co. face more financial uncertainty around an ongoing nuclear expansion project at the Vogtle (VOH’gohl) nuclear plant near Augusta, where two new reactors are under construction.

March 4, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA | 1 Comment

Problems of geoengineering as a fix for climate change

geoengineeringThe Crazy Climate Technofix #auspol John Pratt, 4 Mar 17     by Mark White, Illustrations by Bren Luke 
“………….Earth’s climate has been edging towards a scene usually reserved for a post-apocalyptic movie.

Some posit geoengineering as a radical fix to climate change.

Others say the risks are too high and its proponents mad.

Welcome to the debate where science fiction meets climate science.

If you visit a block of land near the West Australian dairy town of Harvey in a few years’ time, you will see a few pipes sticking out of the ground, a solar panel and an aerial for communications devices.

There may be a hut and some room for parking.
These will be the only visible signs of the South West Hub project, designed to test the feasibility of pumping megatonnes of carbon dioxide into the vast Wonnerup sandstone layer, a kilometre-and-a-half deep beneath the Jarrah-Marri trees on the surface.
The gas will be liquefied in a nearby compressor building – an anonymous farm shed – and transported to the injection site via underground pipes.
Wonnerup is an example of carbon capture and storage, one of a suite of technologies known as geoengineering, or climate engineering.

Geoengineering is a mixed bag, but the idea involves large-scale interventions at the level of the whole planet, with the goal of fixing the climate.

It’s tricky, dangerous, and largely considered “fringe science”.
The proposals come in two main flavours.

One is carbon dioxide removal, which strips the gas from the atmosphere and slowly restores atmospheric balance.

A mix of techniques would be needed: hundreds of factories like Wonnerup, billions of new trees and plants, plus contentious technologies such as artificially encouraging the growth of plankton.
The second is solar radiation management, intended to cool the Earth by stopping the sun’s heat from reaching the planet’s surface.

That can be achieved by pumping minute particles into the atmosphere, but carries the risk of killing billions of people.
Right now, we don’t have the tools or the knowledge to deploy these fixes.

But some prominent climate scientists argue that as carbon emissions continue to rise, geoengineering will have to be employed to avoid catastrophic climate change………….

As we’re failing to keep the planet pleasant and habitable for future generations, could we instead fix the climate with technology?
With geoengineering?
Debate about geoengineering in Australia is “almost being avoided”, according to Professor David Karoly, a noted atmospheric scientist at the University of Melbourne.

He is a member of the Climate Change Authority, which advises the federal government, and was involved in preparing the 2007 IPCC report on global warming.
“There’s very little discussion on it in terms of government circles, there’s very little research on it, there’s very little discussion of it in what might be called mainstream science,” Professor Karoly says.

Policymakers are including geoengineering in their plans, but many technologies are still unproven and potentially dangerous.
“You’ll generally find among climate scientists that almost all are opposed to geoengineering,” says Professor Jim Falk, of the University of Melbourne’s Sustainable Society Institute.

“They’re already pretty concerned about what we’ve done to the climate and don’t want to start stuffing around doing other things we only half-understand on a grand scale.”
When the US National Academy of Science launched a report last year analysing geoengineering options, committee head Marcia McNutt, a geophysicist, was asked if any should be deployed.

She replied “Gosh, I hope not”.
The report considered carbon dioxide removal and solar radiation management so risky it used the term “climate intervention” instead of geoengineering, arguing the term “engineering” implied a level of control that doesn’t exist.
But the IPCC has considered scenarios where such engineering would be necessary: its 2014 assessment report mentions bio-energy carbon capture and storage (known as BECCS), where plant fuel is burned and the resulting carbon dioxide buried.
And the Paris Agreement noted there would be need for a “balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases” in 2050-2100.

“A few years ago, these exotic Dr Strangelove options were discussed only as last-ditch contingencies,” wrote Kevin Anderson, deputy director of the UK’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change, of the Paris talks in Nature magazine.
“Now they are Plan A.”……….

March 4, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

UK: New Nuclear Reactors in Jeopardy because of Brexit?

No2Nuclear Power nuClear news No.93, March 2017    A footnote in the Parliamentary Bill published on 26th January to authorise Brexit confirmed that the UK intends to leave EURATOM as well as the European Union. (1) Up until that point this was a grey area with disagreements over whether Brexit meant the UK would also have to leave EURATOM……..

The decision has wide-ranging implications for Britain’s nuclear industry, research, access to fissile materials and the status of approximately 20 nuclear co-operation agreements that it has with other countries around the world. The UK is going to have to strike new international agreements with all these countries to maintain access to nuclear power technology – crucially with the US because several of the UK’s existing and planned nuclear reactors use US technology or fuel. A new bilateral agreement will also be needed with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Nuclear co-operation agreements can take considerable time to agree and ratify. It may not be possible to complete them before Britain leaves the EU in 2019

New Reactors in Jeopardy? The concern now in the UK nuclear industry is that leaving EURATOM will complicate and delay the UK’s plans to build a new generation of nuclear power stations. “The new wave of British nuclear power stations was in jeopardy” said the Times. Withdrawal could cause “major disruption” according to the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) particularly for Horizon and Nugen, which are developing plans for reactors on Anglesey and in Cumbria because their plans involve co-operation with US nuclear companies. Former Labour MP Tom Greatrex, now chief executive of the NIA, said: “The UK nuclear industry has made it crystal clear to the government before and since the referendum that our preferred position is to maintain membership of EURATOM.” (3) Although Horizon, whose reactors would use US nuclear fuel, says it is reassured by the government’s commitment to put new regulatory arrangements in place quickly. (4)

The Hinkley Point C station in Somerset could also face renewed problems…..

March 4, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Calculating the cost of climate change


Risky business — calculating climate change losses in major European coastal cities
A new study that assesses potential future climate damage to major European coastal cities if, as currently, global carbon emissions continue to track the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s worst emission scenario

A new study that assesses potential future climate damage to major European coastal cities has found that, if, as currently, global carbon emissions continue to track the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s worst emission scenario (RCP8.5), overall annual economic losses may range from 1.2 billion USD in 2030 to more than 40 billion by 2100.
The paper, ‘Climate Risk Assessment under Uncertainty: An Application to Main European Coastal Cities’ published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science, focused on 19 major European coastal cities including Istanbul, Rotterdam, Barcelona, Hamburg, London, Dublin, Marseille, St Petersburg and Copenhagen.
For the first time, the report’s authors adapted into their modelling methods for dealing with uncertainty well known in other fields of economics, such as financial economics.

They successfully applied them to so called ‘tail events’ and their possible impacts in the chosen cities.

The study’s results show that despite their low probability of occurrence the huge scale of damage that tail events may cause means that they should be carefully considered in coastal vulnerability analysis.

In 2030, just 13 years away, under a worst case emission scenario, Rotterdam tops the economic impact table with expected annual losses of almost 240-million USD, closely followed by Istanbul, St Petersburg and Lisbon.

By 2100 the expected annual losses in Istanbul could reach almost 10-billion USD, Odessa in the Ukraine could lose 6.5-billion USD annually and Rotterdam 5.5-billion. Glasgow and Dublin could both suffer economic losses of around 1.5-billion USD in annual economic losses by 2100.
About two thirds of our planet’s mega-cities–cities with populations of more than 5 million people–are located in low-lying coastal areas so protecting these areas from rising sea levels is critical to saving lives and property.

Being so vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, coastal cities also have a major role in adapting to them.
The report urges local, regional, and national policy-makers not to settle for traditional approaches to calculating climate impacts but instead seek to introduce risk assessments under uncertainty into their decision-making processes.

The author’s say that in line with the level of risk in each coastal city and the risk aversion of decision-makers, adaptation measures will need to be implemented in the near future in order to avoid critical damage and major losses.

Press link for more: Eureka Alert

March 4, 2017 Posted by | climate change, EUROPE | Leave a comment