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France’s nuclear shares plunge as environmentalist Nicolas Hulot appointed as Environment and Energy Minister

Reuters 17th May 2017 Green activist Nicolas Hulot was appointed as the minister responsible for environment and energy in the new French government on Wednesday, sending the share price of nuclear utility EDF down as much as seven percent.

EDF shares had rallied strongly since the election of centrist Emmanuel Macron as president on May 7 as investors expected a pro-nuclear energy policy from the new government. But the appointment of Hulot – France’s best-known
environmental campaigner and a former television documentary maker – as ecology minister raised doubts in investors’ minds about the strength of that commitment.

Hulot is not known specifically as an anti-nuclear campaigner but has been critical of nuclear energy and of EDF’s strong
focus on nuclear, which accounts for 75 percent of France’s electricity generation. The world’s biggest operator of nuclear plants, EDF has a 18 billion pound ($23.3 billion) project to build two nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point, Britain and needs to spend 50 billion euro ($55.7 billion) on upgrading its ageing French nuclear plants.  The planned takeover of Areva’s nuclear reactor unit will also cost several billions.

In an interview with Liberation newspaper last month, Hulot said one of France’s main challenges will be to reposition EDF on a path that is compatible with a transition from dependence on nuclear power towards the use of more
renewables.

“While elsewhere the energy transition accelerates, EDF gets closer to Areva, overinvests in costly nuclear projects like Hinkley Point, and does not invest enough in renewables,” he told the paper. Asked by Le Parisien newspaper in March whether France should stop using nuclear energy, he said: “That is a medium-term target”. “As renewable energy
becomes more and more competitive, the nuclear industry business model belongs to the past,” he said.
http://uk.reuters.com/article/france-election-government-energy-idUKL8N1IJ43S

May 19, 2017 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

LEGO goes 100% renewables, UK goes for off-shore wind

Business Green 17th May 2017 LEGO Group has today become the latest global brand to announce it has met a 100 per cent renewables goal, confirming that the opening of the Burbo Bank Extension wind farm means it has ‘balanced’ its annual power demand with electricity from renewable sources. The toy manufacturing giant confirmed the inauguration of the 258MW offshore wind farm in Liverpool Bay means the company’s annual power use is now matched by output from projects it has invested in.

It added that the goal had been met three years ahead of schedule. LEGO Group’s parent company KIRKBI A/S holds a 25 per cent stake in the Burbo Bank Extension project, alongside a 25 per cent stake held by Danish pension fund PKA and a 50 per cent stake held by developer DONG Energy. The company said the project meant LEGO has invested DKK6bn
($895m) in delivering two offshore wind farms over the past four years and has supported the development of more than 160MW of renewables capacity since 2012.  http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/3010256/lego-breezes-past-100-per-cent-renewables-goal-thanks-to-uk-offshore-wind-farm

Bloomberg 16th May 2017 Scottish judges paved the way for as much as 10 billion pounds ($13 billion) to be invested in offshore wind power by overturning a ruling that said projects may kill too many birds. Planning permission should move
forward at four wind farms being developed by SSE Plc, Mainstream Renewable Power Ltd., Fluor Corp. and SDIC Power Holdings Co., according to the ruling by three judges at the Inner House at the Court of Session in
Edinburgh on Tuesday.

They said a judge in the Outer Court was wrong to revoke consent in July for the wind farms, that may create as much as 2.3 gigawatts of new capacity off Scotland’s east coast. The earlier ruling asserted that Scottish ministers didn’t properly assess how the projects would threaten migratory seabirds such as the puffin.

Mainstream said it would now seek to develop the 2 billion pound Neart Na Goithe offshore wind farm as quickly as possible, according to a separate statement. The project has a contract with the U.K. government for a subsidy of 114 pounds a megawatt hour.  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-16/scottish-offshore-wind-may-get-13-billion-lift-from-bird-ruling

Edie 17th May 2017 The planet’s biggest and most powerful wind turbines have begun generating electricity off the Liverpool coast, cementing Britain’s reputation as a world leader in the technology. Danish company Dong Energy has just finished installing 32 turbines in Liverpool Bay that are taller than the Gherkin skyscraper, with blades longer than nine London buses.

Dong Energy, the windfarm’s developer, believes these machines herald the future for offshore wind power: bigger, better and, most importantly, cheaper. Each of the 195m-tall turbines in the Burbo Bank extension has more than twice the power capacity of those in the neighbouring Burbo Bank windfarm completed a decade ago. “That shows you something about the scale-up of the industry, the scale-up of the technology,” said Benjamin Sykes, the country manager
for Dong Energy UK.

The project is the first time the 8MW turbines have been commercially used anywhere in the world, which Sykes hailed as a “very important milestone” for the sector. https://www.edie.net/news/10/Mersey-feat–world-s-biggest-wind-turbines-go-online-near-Liverpool/

Bloomberg 16th May 2017 Scotland was so bullish about becoming Europe’s wind energy hub its politicians fell out with a brash real-estate developer and reality TV star called Donald Trump. Five years on, Trump’s ambitions have taken him to the White House.

But instead of the 950 offshore turbines Scotland envisioned by the end of 2017, it has only 63 because of legal battles, geographical challenges and caps on government aid. The swooshing blades out at sea were a pivotal part of the nationalist-led Scottish government’s goal to get 100 percent of the nation’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020. It was supposed to be a growth area in what would be Europe’s newest state, along with turning Scotland into the Saudi Arabia of marine energy.

Despite four offshore wind projects getting the go-ahead this week, more targets have been missed than met and U.K. subsidies have been cut. With Scottish independence back in the political mix ahead of the June 8 election and the
economy in pain, the plans are under scrutiny again. “People overestimated the likely scale of deployment,” said Niall Stuart, chief executive of the Glasgow-based trade association Scottish Renewables. The whole of the U.K. was over-confident about the prospects for offshore wind, he said. “Clearly it’s nothing like the most optimistic scenario.” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-05-16/how-is-a-watch-made-from-scratch

May 19, 2017 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

Severe coastal floods set to double in number, as sea levels rise

Rising seas could double the number of severe coastal floods  https://www.newscientist.com/article/2131642-rising-seas-could-double-the-number-of-severe-coastal-floods/ By Chelsea Whyte, 8 May 2017  Just 35 years from now, severe coastal flooding could hit twice as often as it does now – if the seas rise by between just 5 and 10 centimetres.

Such a hike would make 50-year weather events happen twice as often, according to work by Sean Vitousek, a coastal scientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and his colleagues. A 50-year event is an increase in sea level so large that it’s only likely to happen twice a century.

Sea levels are actually projected to rise by more than this – estimates put it at between 10 and 20 centimetres over the next few decades.

 “It doesn’t take a ton of sea level rise to significantly change the frequency at which you have flooding,” says Vitousek.

Extremely high water levels are sometimes caused by storm surges and low pressure atmospheric systems, when the easing of pressure on the sea allows water levels to rise. But normal tides and waves also play a part.

Cities under water

Taking those factors into account in his model, Vitousek found that, by 2050, wave-exposed Indian cities like Mumbai and Kochi, and Abidjan in Ivory Coast would see increased frequency of flooding with just a 5-centimetre rise in seas.

If the rise were 10 centimetres, increased flooding would also hit Shanghai, London and New York.

Sea level rise is a global phenomenon that affects regions differently. The ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland are so massive that their gravity draws ocean water towards them. As they melt, that water will go elsewhere.

If you lose Greenland, you’ll have more water in the ocean, which will elevate sea level everywhere. But the effect will be stronger farther away from Greenland,” says Anders Levermann of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. “In Greenland or Antarctica, the water levels may even drop. The tropics always lose because they’re in the middle.”

Sea levels are currently going up by about 3 to 4 millimetres across the globe somewhat uniformly, Vitousek says, but some areas are more susceptible to sea level rise than others because that makes up a larger percentage of their overall water levels.

n the higher latitudes where the difference between high and low sea level in a given year could be 3 metres, a few centimetres may not be noticeable. But in the tropics, that small increase could account for 10 to 20 per cent of the variation, Vitousek says. “It’s not a trivial percentage of the water level,” he says.

Accept the danger

Aimée Slangen, a climate change scientist at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, says regional events like El Niño could keep down some of the sea level rise in the tropics, but not forever.

“I think it would only delay the inevitable: at some point, flooding frequencies are going to increase as long as sea level keeps on rising,” she says. Vitousek says possible responses are to retreat from coastlines or to invest in engineering solutions, like building up natural beaches or creating artificial ones or building sea walls that provide shoreline protection.

But over the next few decades, an increase of 10 to 20 centimetres is inevitable, says Levermann. Even with large reductions in emissions, the die has already been cast for the near future.

“No one has to be afraid of sea level rise, if you’re not stupid,” he says. “It’s low enough that we can respond. It’s nothing to be surprised about, unless you have an administration that says it’s not happening. Then you have to be afraid, because it’s a serious danger,” Levermann says.

Journal reference: Nature Scientific ReportsDOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-01362-7

Read more: Unexpected Antarctic melt could trigger 2-metre sea level rise

May 19, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

World’s biggest wind turbines now generating power off UK coast

Thirty-two of the world’s largest wind turbines are up and generating power in new offshore wind project off the UK coast.
http://reneweconomy.com.au/worlds-biggest-wind-turbines-now-generating-power-off-uk-coast-60315/

May 19, 2017 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

19 May Climate News

Climate stabilization: Planting trees cannot replace cutting CO2 emissions
Growing plants and then storing the CO2 they have taken up from the atmosphere is no viable option to counteract unmitigated emissions from fossil fuel burning, a new study shows.
http://www.enn.com/pollution/article/51292

Antarctica ‘greening’ due to climate change
Plant life on Antarctica is growing rapidly due to climate change, scientists have found.
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-05/uoe-ad051617.php

May 19, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, ANTARCTICA, climate change | Leave a comment

Switzerland to vote on promoting renewables and banning nuclear power

Reuters 17th May 2017, Swiss voters will on Sunday determine the fate of a law proposing billions of dollars in subsidies for renewable energy, a ban on new nuclear plants and a partial utilities bailout. Polling so far suggests the law will be approved in the binding referendum, but support has slipped.

A survey this month by research institute gfs.bern for state broadcaster SRG showed 56 percent of voters backed the law, down from 61 percent. The Swiss initiative mirrors efforts elsewhere in Europe to reduce dependence on nuclear power, partly sparked by Japan’s Fukushima disaster in 2011. Neighbouring Germany aims to phase out nuclear power by 2022. Nearby Austria banned it decades ago.

Debate on Switzerland’s “Energy Strategy 2050” has focused on what customers and taxpayers will pay for the measures
and whether a four-fold rise in solar and wind power by 2035, as envisaged in the law, can deliver reliable supplies.
http://uk.reuters.com/article/swiss-energy-idUKL8N1IJ3R6?rpc=401&

May 19, 2017 Posted by | politics, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Chang Hsien-yi, the Taiwanese scientist who tried to save his country from nuclear war

The man who helped prevent a nuclear crisis, 18 May 2017  In 1988 Taiwan was racing to build its first nuclear bomb, but one military scientist put a stop to that when he defected to the United States and exposed those plans. This is the story of a man who insists he had to betray his country in order to save it.

To this day, critics consider Chang Hsien-yi a traitor – but he has no regrets. “If I can ever do it all over again, I will do it,” says the calmly defiant 73-year-old, speaking from his home in the US state of Idaho.

The former military colonel has been living there since 1988 when he fled to the US, a close ally of the island, and this is his first substantial interview about that time.

It might seem a perplexing turn of events given the close relationship the US has with Taiwan, but Washington had found out that Taiwan’s government had secretly ordered scientists to develop nuclear weapons.

Taiwan’s enemy, the Communist government of China, had been building up its nuclear arsenal since the 1960s, and the Taiwanese were terrified this would be unleashed on the island.

Taiwan separated from China after the Chinese Civil War in 1949. To this day China considers Taiwan a breakaway province and has vowed to reunify with the island, by force if necessary.

The leadership of the island was also in an uncertain phase – its president, Chiang Ching-kuo, was dying, and the US thought that General Hau Pei-tsun, whom they saw as a hawkish figure, would become his successor.

They were worried about a nuclearisation of the Taiwan Strait and bent on stopping Taiwan’s nuclear ambition in its tracks and preventing a regional arms race.

So they secretly enlisted Mr Chang to halt Taiwan’s programme.  When Mr Chang was recruited by the CIA in the early 1980s, he was the deputy director at Taiwan’s Institute of Nuclear Energy Research, which was responsible for the nuclear weapons programme.  As one of Taiwan’s key nuclear scientists, he enjoyed a life of privilege and a lucrative salary.

But he says he began questioning whether the island should have nuclear weapons after the catastrophic Chernobyl accident in 1986 in the former Soviet Union. He was convinced by the Americans’ argument that stopping the programme would be “good for peace, and was for the benefit of mainland China and Taiwan”……..

Setting the record straight Mr Chang has remained silent for decades. But with his recent retirement he now wants to set the record straight with a memoir, titled Nuclear! Spy? CIA: Record of an Interview with Chang Hsien-yi.

The book, written with academic Chen Yi-shen and published in December, has reignited a debate about whether Mr Chang did the right thing for Taiwan……..

Mr Chang insists he feared then that ambitious Taiwanese politicians would use nuclear weapons to try to take back mainland China.

He claims Madame Chiang Kai Shek, the stepmother of dying President Chiang Ching-kuo, and a group of generals loyal to her had even gone so far as to set up a separate chain of command to expedite the development of nuclear weapons……

“You don’t have to be in Taiwan to love Taiwan; I love Taiwan,” says Mr Chang.

“I am Taiwanese, I am Chinese. I don’t want to see Chinese people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait killing each other.” http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-39252502

May 19, 2017 Posted by | PERSONAL STORIES, Taiwan, weapons and war | Leave a comment

India plans to build 10 nuclear reactors

Indian cabinet approves plans to build 10 nuclear reactors, Reuters, 18 May 17,  India’s cabinet approved plans on Wednesday to build 10 nuclear reactors with a combined capacity of 7,000 megawatts (MW), more than the country’s entire current capacity, to try fast-track its domestic nuclear power program.

The decision by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government marks the first strategic response to the near collapse of Westinghouse, the U.S. reactor maker that had been in talks to build six of its AP1000 reactors in India.

Westinghouse, owned by Japan’s Toshiba, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March after revealing billions of dollars in cost overruns at its U.S. projects, raising doubts about whether it can complete the India deal.

India has installed nuclear capacity of 6,780 MW from 22 plants and plans to add another 6,700 MW by 2021-22 through projects currently under construction. The 10 additional reactors would be the latest design of India’s Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor.

“This project will bring about substantial economies of scale and maximize cost and time efficiencies by adopting fleet mode for execution,” the government said in a statement……..http://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-nuclear-idUSKCN18D21X

May 19, 2017 Posted by | India, politics | Leave a comment

Scathing criticism of Ontario’s proposed plan for nuclear plant emergencies

Ontario’s proposed plan for nuclear plant emergencies ripped, THE CANADIAN PRESS, MAY 18, 2017 TORONTO – Ontario’s proposed plan for how to respond in the unlikely event of a nuclear emergency falls short, environmental groups say. The province recently released an update to its emergency planning for potential large-scale accidents at the Pickering, Darlington, Bruce Power, Chalk River and FERMI 2 nuclear sites. It deals with co-ordinating responses and public communication, zones and evacuation procedures, preventing food and water contamination, and limiting exposure to radiation.

The environmental groups, including Greenpeace and the Canadian Environmental Law Association, say the proposal isn’t based on a large enough incident, and needs to plan for an accident on the scale of the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan.

Given we’re seeing nuclear accidents at the international level about once a decade, we need to prepare for such events,” said Shawn-Patrick Stensil with Greenpeace.

“These proposals do a disservice to Ontarians. They make no proposals to tangibly strengthen public safety and ignore key lessons from Fukushima. It’s unacceptable.”

Community Safety Minister Marie-France Lalonde said the plan “definitely” covers a Fukushima-scale accident………

Environmental advocates have for years been urging a wider distribution of those potassium iodide, or KI, pills. Radioactive iodine is released in the event of a nuclear accident, and the potassium iodide pills can help protect against thyroid cancer.

The pills are currently distributed to households and businesses within a 10-kilometre radius of the nuclear sites, but the environmentalists want that to be 50 kilometres. People outside the 10-kilometre radius can currently request the pills.

The groups also say the government has no comprehensive plan to address potential contamination of the Great Lakes, which are a source of drinking water for millions……..

The plan is posted for public comment until July 14 on the province’s regulatory and environmental registries. Lalonde said experts will be reviewing all the comments to decide what changes need to be made. http://www.torontosun.com/2017/05/18/ontarios-proposed-plan-for-nuclear-plant-emergencies-ripped

May 19, 2017 Posted by | Canada, safety | Leave a comment

AREVA and EDF pin their hopes on delayed, super-costly, Olkiluoto-3 nuclear project

Nuclear plant nears completion after huge delays, Western Europe’s first atomic power station in 15 years is test of Areva technology FT.COM 18 MAY 17  by: , Energy Editor  On the shores of the Baltic Sea, beneath the big azure sky of a Nordic spring, Finland’s Olkiluoto-3 nuclear plant looks almost complete.

A team of painting contractors streaming out of the red reactor building at the end of their shift are the only external sign that this is still a work in progress. Yet, as the final touches are made to western Europe’s first new nuclear power station for 15 years, its owners have a blunt assessment of progress. “If the nuclear industry wants to have a future it cannot afford more projects like this,” says Pekka Lundmark, chief executive of Fortum, the Finnish power company which owns a 26 per cent stake in TVO, the consortium behind Olkiluoto-3.

Areva, the French reactor manufacturer, began building Olkiluoto in 2005 with a target for completion by 2009 at a cost of €3.2bn. The latest timetable would see it open almost a decade late at the end of 2018 and nearly three times over budget at €8.5bn. The project is the most extreme example of the delays and cost overruns which have become commonplace in the nuclear industry, plunging reactor companies such as Areva and Toshiba’s Westinghouse subsidiary into financial crisis………

Olkiluoto is entering a crucial phase with “cold functional testing”, the first operational trials of the reactor system, due to start in June. Several further important milestones must be cleared in the months ahead before the Finnish nuclear regulator can issue an operating licence…….

TVO facing an awkward balancing act, between co-operating with Areva to finish the project while simultaneously pursuing the French company and its former partner, Siemens, for billions of euros of compensation for the delays.

Talks aimed at a settlement broke down a year ago and the International Court of Arbitration made a “partial award” last November in favour of TVO. It has yet to rule how much Areva and Siemens, which exited the consortium in 2009, must pay. Olkiluoto liabilities were among the main factors which led the French government to arrange a €5bn bailout of Areva, 87 per cent owned by the state, and force it into a tie-up with EDF, the French utility, due for completion this year. Responsibility for Olkiluoto will remain in a separate “old Areva” to protect state-controlled EDF from TVO’s compensation claim, which would ultimately be borne by French taxpayers. The restructuring has raised alarm in Finland that Areva might neglect Olkiluoto in favour of projects at Flamanville in France and Hinkley Point in the UK which are both led by EDF. All three projects involve the European Pressurised Reactor, technology conceived by French and German engineers in the 1990s that was supposed to herald a new era of international growth for the French nuclear industry. Instead, it has turned into a nightmare as construction problems, along with renewed safety fears after the meltdown in 2011 at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, have combined to curb demand.

The EPR was designed with safety as the top priority after the Chernobyl meltdown in Ukraine a decade earlier spewed radioactive fallout across Europe. But extra safeguards, such as a concrete dome over the reactor strong enough to withstand an aircraft strike, have proved ruinously expensive to build.

……..The Flamanville plant is six years late and €7bn over budget, with the risk of further delays beyond the current 2018 opening target as French regulators scrutinise potential faults with reactor components…….

EDF and Areva are hoping for a smoother experience at Hinkley Point, where concrete was poured for the first permanent structures in March…..
After heavy losses elsewhere, EDF and Areva desperately need to make money from Hinkley’s two reactors. The £18bn project has been criticised in Britain for the £92.50 per megawatt hour price guaranteed to EDF for electricity from the plant, rising with inflation for 35 years. That is more than twice the current wholesale price, but it will only prove a good deal for EDF if it can control construction costs better than has been the case at Flamanville and Olkiluoto……..https://www.ft.com/content/36bee56a-3a01-11e7-821a-6027b8a20f23 

May 19, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, Finland | Leave a comment

Greenpeace taking case to European Commission against French government’s increased funding to EDF

Reuters 17th May 2017 Greenpeace is filing a complaint with the European Commission arguing that the French government’s recapitalization of state-controlled EDF amounts to illegal state aid for the utility’s plan to build nuclear plants in HinkleyPoint, Britain.

Greenpeace said the 3 billion euro ($3.33 billion) capital injection for EDF in March, plus 3.8 billion euros of foregone dividends since 2015 – the state leaves money in EDF by taking a share dividend instead of a cash dividend – are incompatible with European Union competition law.

“Instead of acting like a smart investor, the state is providing unconditional support to EDF and its nuclear projects that
threaten the health of the company, notably Hinkley Point. There is no economic logic,” said Greenpeace France legal campaigner Laura Monnier.   http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-edf-britain-subsidies-idUKKCN18D0MV

May 19, 2017 Posted by | France, Legal | Leave a comment

Nuclear companies EDF and AREVA create a new nuclear company EDVANCE

Global News Wire 17th May 2017 EDF Group’s Board of Directors has approved the creation of the company EDVANCE which brings together EDF and AREVA NP engineers. This is a significant milestone in the reconstruction of the nuclear industry, announced in June 2015.
EDVANCE will be in charge of the basic design and implementation (studies, procurement support, assembly and commissioning) for projects involving nuclear islands and control systems for new reactors being built, both in France and around the world.
EDF will own 80% of the company’s capital, while AREVA NP will own 20%. This new company is set up independently from EDF’s acquisition of the exclusive control over NEW AREVA NP, planned for the end of 2017. http://globenewswire.com/news-release/2017/05/17/987156/0/en/EDF-EDF-Board-of-Directors-approves-the-creation-of-EDVANCE-a-significant-milestone-in-the-reconstruction-of-the-French-nuclear-industry.html

May 19, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, France | Leave a comment

Pit collapse at Idaho Nuclear Landfill

Cleanup at Idaho Nuclear Landfill on Hold After Pit Collapse https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/idaho/articles/2017-05-18/cleanup-at-idaho-nuclear-landfill-on-hold-after-pit-collapse
Officials are trying to determine what caused the side of a pit at a nuclear waste landfill in Idaho to collapse. 
May 18, 2017, By REBECCA BOONE, Associated Press  BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Some cleanup efforts at a nuclear waste landfill in Idaho were placed on hold while workers try to figure out what caused a collapse in a dig area that sent an excavator into a pit.

The excavator was digging up transuranic waste — which is waste contaminated with highly radioactive elements.

No radiation was released during the May 11 incident, and no one was injured, said Erik Simpson with Fluor Idaho, a contractor hired to clean up the site at the Idaho National Laboratory.

The excavator was digging at the 97-acre (392,545-sq. meter) Subsurface Disposal Area near Idaho Falls when the side of the pit collapsed.

 Simpson said the excavator slid partway into the 21-foot (6 -meter) deep pit. The operator remained in his protective cab for about 90 minutes.

May 19, 2017 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Next generation nuclear power is unlikely to save the industry from bankruptcy

“The story the nuclear industry tries to offer, is that while old reactors may have been afflicted with problems, the new generation is going to be immune. But while they will get around some, they will also have a new set of problems,” says Ramana. “If it were up to me, I would say it’s not worth spending more money on these things, throwing good money after bad.”

“The nuclear industry is sort of riding into the sunset,” he says. “The question is how fast is it going to ride into it.”

For those who see a nuclear sunset on the horizon, the clearest solution to the problem of both energy production and climate change is renewables.

What the end of the atomic renaissance means for nuclear power, New Scientist,  The next generation of nuclear reactors was meant to bring cheaper, safer power. Where are they, and can they save the industry from bankruptcy and closure? By Lisa Grossman,7 May 2017

IT’S not a great time to be a nuclear reactor engineer. Plants are closing all over the world, even before the end of their usable lives. The most recently shut was a £15 billion power station in Cumbria, UK.

In the US, the only four reactors being built are years late and billions over budget. Should the four Westinghouse models under construction in South Carolina and Georgia ever be finished, it’s hard to say who will service them. Westinghouse Electric, their manufacturer and one of the last private companies building nuclear reactors, filed for bankruptcy on 29 March.

What happened? Just four years ago, we were supposed to be entering a nuclear renaissance. The US had started building its first reactors in 30 years to much fanfare. The Bush and Obama administrations increased spending on nuclear energy R&D by billions of dollars. Radical new designs for the next generation of reactors were supposed to spread safer, cleaner, sustainable energy around the globe.

 Instead, we seem to be stuck with a dwindling supply of mid-20th century models. “Even if they finish those [Westinghouse] reactors, they will not be monuments to the nuclear renaissance,” says economic analyst Mark Cooper at Vermont Law School. “They will be mausoleums to the end of nuclear power.” Can the next generation of reactors still save the day?

“New reactors will not be monuments to the nuclear renaissance – they will be mausoleums”

Between 1996 and 2016, the share of global electricity generated by nuclear power dropped from 17.6 to 10.7 per cent. The downturn is perhaps surprising given nuclear’s green credentials. The typical nuclear power plant splits uranium atoms in a process called fission, and uses the heat from that reaction to produce steam, drive a turbine and generate electricity. This offers cheap, clean energy – nuclear power plants produce no greenhouse gases or air pollution, they run day and night, and are relatively inexpensive to operate………

The designers of these “Generation IV” reactors tried to take innovative approaches to safety, moving away from standard ways of making power from uranium – which accounts for most of the safety measures – to less dangerous ways like depleted uranium and other materials that don’t require enrichment or reprocessing, reducing proliferation risks. Other safety measures included burying the reactor or simply making them small and modular.

These reactors were moving steadily through the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s approval process, but there has been no sign of them.

 Some think the stall is permanent. “The story the nuclear industry tries to offer, is that while old reactors may have been afflicted with problems, the new generation is going to be immune. But while they will get around some, they will also have a new set of problems,” says Ramana. “If it were up to me, I would say it’s not worth spending more money on these things, throwing good money after bad.”

“The nuclear industry is sort of riding into the sunset,” he says. “The question is how fast is it going to ride into it.”……..

Some places will keep building the old models. Adoption is up in Russia and Asia, particularly South Korea. Other places will keep their ageing fleet on life support as long as they can. Three plants in New York, each more than 40 years old, will remain operating for another 12 years.

Even if new models do come online, it leaves a long time between the decline of the ageing fleet of nuclear reactors and the emergence of the first credible alternatives.

In the meantime, something will be needed to provide electricity. If municipalities build capacity with ever improving wind and solar devices, which have much lower set-up costs, it could render new nuclear plants unnecessary….

For those who see a nuclear sunset on the horizon, the clearest solution to the problem of both energy production and climate change is renewables. Nuclear energy might be sustainable, in the sense that it will last a long time, but ultimately Earth’s uranium supplies will run out. Not so wind and sun, says Cooper.

“Anyone who wants to buy that small modular reactor can look up in the sky and feel the breeze blowing and know they don’t have to go that route,” Cooper says. “Nuclear is never going to catch up.”…https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23431262-800-what-the-end-of-the-atomic-renaissance-means-for-nuclear-power/?utm_campaign=RSS%7CNSNS&utm_source=NSNS&utm_medium=RSS&utm_content=physics&campaign_id=RSS%7CNSNS-physics

 

May 19, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged to pull the plug on nuclear bailout, as lawmakers work against it

New York’s nuclear “bailout” faces court challenges and questions from lawmakers, Mc Alester News capital,  By Joe Mahoney | CNHI State Reporter May 18, 201ALBANY — The Cuomo administration’s effort to drive subsidies to three upstate nuclear-power plants is being challenged in both the courts and the halls of the statehouse.

The cost of what critics call a “nuclear bailout” is already being reflected in higher utility bills across the state.The opponents warn the plan will lead to higher costs for taxpayers and consumers as power bills increase for municipalities, school districts, universities and hospitals.

 Under the subsidy program, which has been approved by the Public Service Commission, New York utilities are buying power at inflated rates from Exelon, a Chicago company that owns the reactors at Nine Mile Point on the shores of Lake Ontario, James FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Oswego County and the R.E. Ginna Nuclear Plant in Wayne County.

OPPOSITION FORCES   Legislation to derail the program is pending in both houses of the State Legislature, though the fate of the measure is unclear. Meanwhile, lawsuits challenging the subsidy have been filed against the state by a group of owners of gas-fired power plants. The group contends the subsidy is illegal because it interferes with the federal government’s ability to regulate energy prices.

On a separate but related front, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, an environmental group, is challenging the arrangement in state court. It contends state regulators failed to follow proper procedures in approving the subsidy last year and that ratepayers will be left facing “unreasonable and unjust” costs.

The New York Public Interest Research Group, a consumer watchdog, has joined Clearwater’s court action. Its legislative director, Blair Horner, said court arguments in both lawsuits are expected to be heard within the next several weeks.

Horner noted several lawmakers have concerns that they were left out of the loop when Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushed through a subsidy that is expected to cost billions of dollars.

“It’s sort of astonishing to them that they were cut out of the process,” he said…….

DEMONSTRATION  Those fighting the nuclear subsidy have stepped up their campaign to convince Cuomo to pull the plug on it.

Representatives of NYPIRG and other groups opposed to it, calling themselves Stop the Cuomo Tax, staged a demonstration this week outside the governor’s Manhattan office.

“Too many of us have trouble paying our utility bills already, and now Governor Cuomo is raising our rates by almost $8 billion to fund a giant giveaway to Exelon,” one of the protestors, Renata Pumarol, deputy director of New York Communities for Change, said in a statement.

Joe Mahoney covers the New York Statehouse for CNHI’s newspapers and websites. Reach him at jmahoney@cnhi.com  http://www.mcalesternews.com/cnhi_network/new-york-s-nuclear-bailout-faces-court-challenges-and-questions/article_ea4d5e6d-35de-5d97-a98e-e438d08bdd15.html

May 19, 2017 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment