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Biden inches towards presidency and overhaul of global climate action — RenewEconomy

A republican controlled senate will not be a barrier to a likely Biden presidency undertaking a massive shake-up of American and international climate action. The post Biden inches towards presidency and overhaul of global climate action appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Biden inches towards presidency and overhaul of global climate action — RenewEconomy

November 5, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Several U.S. utilities back out of deal to build Small Nuclear Reactors

November 5, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Biden as president would pursue climate ‘cheaters’, such as Morrison’s Australia

November 5, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Chernobyl’s bumblebees still affected by radiation

This new data shows effects on bumblebees are happening at dose rates previously thought safe for insects, and the current international recommendations will need to be re-evaluated.

November 5, 2020 Posted by | environment, radiation, Reference, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Japanese nuclear regulator’s website hit by possible cyberattack

Japanese nuclear regulator’s website hit by possible cyberattack, Japan Timeshttps://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/11/04/national/nuclear-regulator-website-cyberattack,  KYODO, Nov 4, 2020

The Nuclear Regulation Authority said Tuesday its official website became inaccessible possibly due to cyberattacks.

The incident comes a week after the regulatory body’s intranet had an unauthorized access from outside.

According to the NRA, the government’s cybersecurity institute notified it of the website disruption on Tuesday afternoon. There was no abnormality when the NRA updated the website Monday evening, it said.

The website remained inaccessible for hours, but the problem was resolved by around 8:30 p.m., the NRA said.

In August, a fake website resembling that of the NRA was discovered by an official of the regulator.

November 5, 2020 Posted by | incidents, Japan, secrets,lies and civil liberties, technology | Leave a comment

United States under Donald Trump formally exits Paris Agreement on climate change

November 5, 2020 Posted by | climate change, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Some problems that will handicap the development of Small Nuclear Reactors

The I&C challenges for small modular reactors, Nuclear Engineering International 4 November 2020  Dr Li Li examines the instrumentation and control requirements and challenges for a new generation of small modular reactors.

REACTOR DEVELOPERS ARE DEVELOPING A wide variety of small modular reactor (SMRs)….. Many use Generation III+ pressurised water reactor (PWR) technology similar to that used in current gigawatt-scale reactors, while others are based on advanced Generation IV technologies ranging from high temperature gas-cooled reactors to molten-salt reactors.

Each design will have its own requirements for instrumentation and control (I&C) systems for the operation, monitoring and control of the reactor, turbine island and balance of plant. Even among PWRs, the design principles and I&C architectures are very different and cannot be easily replicated from one design to another.

To understand the challenges, let’s look at three competing designs: the UK SMR being developed by a consortium of companies including Rolls-Royce, Jacobs, Assystem and Atkins with support from research institutions including Nuclear AMRC; the NuScale Power Module backed by Fluor Corporation with funding from the US Department of Energy; and the Westinghouse SMR, which adapts technologies from the established AP1000 design………..

The issue of cyber security will be critical for the certification of digital I&C systems. According to the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team, part of the US Department of Homeland Security, cyber-attacks and security infringement targeting control systems have increased significantly in recent years. With more digital smart devices used in nuclear power plant of any size, it must be a priority to protect the vulnerability of smart devices and digital I&C system from cyber attack and malicious sniffing from hostile individuals or organisations…….

 in most cases, new codes and standards will need to be developed for advanced reactors.

The development of new codes and standards is a very lengthy process. It will take resources and time to publish a new standard for the nuclear industry, and we might not see one ready before new SMR developers file their design certification application……….

Many SMR designs, including the three considered above, have the potential to be used for co-generation of process heat, district heating or desalination. This will introduce additional complexity for regulators to approve the power plant I&C design, if the co-generation processes are located at same site for economic reasons. This brings new challenges because extra safety measures must be considered. For example, additional safety features of the control system and evacuation plan must be approved by an adequate jurisdictional authority for the orderly shutdown of both the nuclear plant and industrial processes in the event of an accident.


Author information: Dr Li Li, Head of the digital I&C group at the UK’s Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC)   https://www.neimagazine.com/features/featurethe-ic-challenges-for-small-modular-reactors-8345341/

November 5, 2020 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Poland’s nuclear energy plans not likely to be supported by the European Commission

Nuclear power is not considered environmentally sustainable, and there is little hope this approach will change. Therefore, the possibilities for bankrolling nuclear energy are very limited.

Brussels’s impact on Poland’s nuclear project,   https://biznesalert.com/brusselss-impact-on-polands-nuclear-project/ : Paweł Wróbel, @Pawrobel   4 Nov 20Poland’s nuclear power plant constrsuction program has been riddled with ambiguity for many years. Neverthele, among the few certainties remains the necessity to abide by the EU law on granting state aid. The project cannot happen without Brussels. Investments in nuclear energy are one of the most expensive in the energy sector, which is why building a nuclear plant in Poland will not be possible without state support. Therefore, the European Commission will have to approve the selected financing model – Paweł Wróbel, CEO of Gate Brussels, writes for BiznesAlert.pl.

Recently in a reaction to the plans made by Warsaw, Frans Timmersmans, Executive Vice President of the European Commission for the European Green Deal, has stressed that the EC would not stand in the way of building nuclear power plants (NPPs) in member states. This assurance was also offered to the prime minister of the Czech Republic, who announced before the last EU summit, that his country would support the increase in CO2 reduction target to 55 percent by 2030, only if the EC did not interfere with nuclear programs. Timmermans really wants all the member states to support the increased CO2 emissions reduction target. Even though it is Margrethe Vestager, another EC Executive Vice President, who is responsible for competition, Timmerman’s voice will be very important when it comes to the decision process.
Timmermans is a seasoned diplomat, a former foreign minister of Holland, so it is worth paying attention to the entirety of his statement to learn what he thinks about these kinds of investments in the energy sector. In his opinion, nuclear power had “serious disadvantages”, e.g. the necessity to import uranium and handle radioactive waste. He also pointed out that nuclear power was “very expensive”, which is why long-term state involvement was crucial. “… [I]f you invest in it, you’re stuck with it for a very, very long period of time,” he stressed.
Still, Timmermans did not openly admit that the European Commission did not bet on nuclear power, even in the context of the 2050 climate neutrality target. However, this approach is visible in the Union’s main strategies, which determine the target energy transition model. The strategies were adopted last July and are titled: the EU Strategy for Energy System Integration and the Hydrogen Strategy. Neither of the documents suggests that nuclear energy will play a significant role in the European Green Deal
The EC has been consistent in its push for renewable energy sources (RES) as the basis for energy generation in the EU, and the most cost-efficient option. Renewables will make it possible to electrify heat generation and transport. While hydrogen will play a complementary role, especially when it comes to industrial processes and heavy transport. This approach is reflected in the ongoing revisions of the main legislation for the energy sector. The goal of this strategy is to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. Nuclear energy is not an important part of this model.
The situation is similar when it comes to EU funding mechanisms and regulations on public and private entities on financial markets in EU states, e.g. in taxonomy. Nuclear power is not considered environmentally sustainable, and there is little hope this approach will change. Therefore, the possibilities for bankrolling nuclear energy are very limited. The availability of options is a lot smaller than in case of RES or hydrogen. Of course, the EC respects the principle of “technological neutrality”, so it cannot deprive states of their ability to invest in nuclear energy, especially that some of them do bet on this kind of power generation. However, this means it is necessary to find a model that will be in line with EU law.
One of the biggest challenges is to prepare a financing model for the investment that will comply with EU rules for state aid. The EC has stressed its role is to limit as much as possible any interference with competition on the energy market that state aid may cause. During its inquiries into state aid plans, e.g. with regard to nuclear energy, the EC holds talks with governments that plan such investments. The EC then determines what conditions need to be met for it to approve the aid. This happened, e.g. in 2017 when Hungary wanted to expand its Paks II NPP. The Hungarian government had to take on considerable commitments for the EC to agree the investment was in line with EU rules.
Those included the following: (1) profits could only be used to pay off debt to the state, or to cover the NPP’s operational costs, (2) Paks II could not be formally linked with other entities on the energy market, including the existing Paks power plant, which meant it had to survive on the market on its own, (3) at least 30 percent of the production had to be sold on the open energy market, whereas the remainder via an open auction system. Especially the last condition could be too difficult to meet, as nuclear energy is one of the most expensive when it comes to new investments.
In case of Poland an EC consent will not be unconditional either. The process usually takes a dozen or so months. In case of Paks II it took 3 years. These are one of the most difficult and one of the longest cases. The final conditions that the EC will set, will determine not just the construction process, but mostly the terms on which the NPP will have to function on the market.

November 5, 2020 Posted by | EUROPE, politics | Leave a comment

Sizewell C – Britain walking into a trap that benefits only the nuclear industry

Sizewell C – Britain walking into a trap that benefits only the nuclear industry, Sizewell C: Dodgy deals and obscure decision-making  https://eciu.net/blog/2020/sizewell-c-dodgy-deals-and-obscure-decision-making  By Jonathan Marshall, Head of Analysis@JMarshall_ECIU, 02 November 2020  This weekend the BBC reported that the Government was close to reaching a deal with EDF to construct a new nuclear power station at Sizewell in Suffolk. Sizewell C is expected to be a carbon-copy of the plant under construction at Hinkley Point, and will help fill the gap left as Britain’s existing nukes retire.

There is little point in re-hashing the well-worn arguments about whether we need new nuclear in the UK. No changing of minds on either side looks likely, nor is there much point trying to counter the six-or-so lines from either side about why nuclear is a good or bad choice.

What is worth scrutiny, though, is how the Government appears to be making another hash of agreeing terms and penning a contract.

Just three years ago the National Audit Office delivered a stinging rebuke of the deal with EDF for Hinkley Point C, saying it has ‘locked consumers into a risky and expensive project with uncertain strategic and economic benefits’; that efforts to ensure value for money had been overlooked; and that there remained a risk that the developer would come cap-in-hand for more cash before the project was finished, at which point the Government would not be in the strongest position to say no.

Backroom dealings

Based on current reports, it seems that one of the major failures from Hinkley – that the deal was concluded bilaterally, behind closed doors, and with no downward pressure on costs through competition – is being repeated.

And it is hard to see how the Government has let itself be backed into this corner, allowing EDF to present itself as ‘the only option’ for the new nuclear it is no doubt saying is essential to reach net zero.

Sizewell has even received public backing from those usually in favour of a small state and as little Government intervention as possible, a position miles away from what is seemingly imminent.

Endless stalling on policy decisions and lack of support for other plants has seen other proposals evaporate, changing economics have seen developers pull out globally (Japan, for example, has said it will get to net zero without new nuclear), and a constant drumroll of political support for the as-yet-to-exist Small Modular Reactors rather than traditional large plant have left EDF as the only player in town.

The Government, well aware of the benefits of pitting projects against each other, has been lauding the successes of doing exactly that in auctions for offshore wind, in the capacity market and in a host of nascent markets for flexible power. Yet, nuclear remains exempt.

And while there are some factors that would make an auction system more difficult – high project start-up costs, lengthy safety sign-offs, etc, it is surely not beyond the wit of ministers and their advisors, and the civil service, to force something into place.

The only winners from the current behind-closed-doors set-up are the nuclear industry, which is not an effective way to make policy.

Time-Limited Backstop

The desperation to bring costs down for nuclear mean British electricity users are set to be on the hook for the costs of building Sizewell before it starts generating.

This situation would raise eyebrows in many instances, but for a scheme based on projects currently running wildly over budget and embarrassingly behind schedule, this seems like madness.

There are few guarantees in British media, but stories about rising energy bills are about as close as one can get. Extra costs on households to pay back investors, rather than for actually producing energy, mean this deal could be a toxic legacy for years to come.

It remains to be seen what protections from overrunning costs are put in place for consumers, and what guarantees that the cost agreed through a Regulated Asset Base (RAB) model will not increase as the project inevitably runs over budget. Both of these are pretty essential for allaying concerns that the public is being sold another white elephant.

Going Blind

Backing Sizewell raises as many questions as it answers, on which clarity from Government would help onlookers understand their decision-making.

On finances, the latest BEIS assessments of generation costs didn’t include nuclear, apparently for commercial confidentiality reasons. We should now expect these to be updated, especially as the latest iteration included the associated ‘system costs’ of different technologies. Doing this for nuclear (which of course imposes other costs on the power grid due to its inflexibility) is now vital.

Where are the assessments of how new nuclear can fit into increasingly smart and flexible power grids? Churning out a constant stream of electrons is good for keeping the country running, but it would be more useful if there was some data to show how it impedes on the rest of the grid.

What thought has been given to location? The Suffolk coast is set to be the landing point for a huge amount of offshore wind capacity – is it the best place for a new nuclear plant? Or just the only place still in the running?

How could the power output from Sizewell be used most effectively? What are the economics behind building an electrolyser nearby to convert excess power into hydrogen? Can the waste heat be made use of?

Providing answers to these sort of questions (just a few of many more) would help us to have a more grown up debate around nuclear, and would help understand the reasons for signing what, at first sight, looks like another dodgy deal.

Theresa May’s decision to sign off Hinkley was met with widespread dismay, for the reasons above and for many more. Without more clarity on Government thought, it appears our current Prime Minister could be walking into the same trap.

November 5, 2020 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

UK nuclear weapons making to be run by the Ministry of Defence

Public Technology 3rd Nov 2020, The government has claimed that bringing the manufacturing of nuclear
warheads back in house will enable it to better “invest in technology”.
Since 1993, the Atomic Weapons Establishment – which is responsible for
developing, manufacturing, and managing the UK’s arsenal of nuclear
weapons – has operated as a private company, under contract from the
government.

Hunting-BRAE held the contract until 1999, at which point a
25-year deal was awarded to AWE Management Ltd, a joint venture led by 51%
shareholder Lockheed Martin, supported by Serco and Jacobs Engineering.
Defence secretary Ben Wallace announced in parliament this week that,
following a review, the “Ministry of Defence has concluded that AWE will
revert to a direct government ownership model”. From as early as next
summer, the nuclear agency will become an arm’s-length government body,
wholly owned by the ministry.

https://www.publictechnology.net/articles/news/government-claims-bringing-nuclear-warheads-house-will-enable-investment-technology

Basingstoke Gazette 3rd Nov 2020, THE government will take control of a nuclear weapons manufacturer in
Aldermaston. AWE, which also has a site in Burghfield, is to be taken over
by ministers to “simplify and further strengthen” the relationship between
the operator and the Ministry of Defence. It means that Lockheed Martin,
which owns 51 per cent of AWE Management Ltd, and Serco, which owns 24.5
per cent, will be stripped of their control of the base when the lucrative
25-year contract comes to an end, with Sky News reporting that it could be
as soon as next year.

https://www.basingstokegazette.co.uk/news/18842320.awe-aldermaston-taken-government/

November 5, 2020 Posted by | politics, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Ohio Nuclear-Plant Owner’s Bankruptcy Plan Upheld by Appeals Court

November 5, 2020 Posted by | legal, USA | Leave a comment

Exelon may be about to split off its unprofitable nuclear generation business.

Exelon May Split Its Utilities From Nuclear, Generation BusinessExelon’s mulls a split for its generation business with two Illinois nuclear plants facing closure and others struggling.  GTM, JEFF ST. JOHN NOVEMBER 04, 2020  Exelon Corp. confirmed Tuesday that it is exploring a plan to separate its multistate utilities businesses from its generation business, which is preparing to close two of its 21 nuclear power plants due to money-losing market conditions.CEO Chris Crane confirmed the “review of our corporate structure,” first reported to be underway by Bloomberg last month, during the Chicago-based company’s third-quarter earnings conference call. The move comes as Exelon is struggling with profitability at several of its nuclear plants, which face falling energy prices and challenging conditions in the capacity market run by mid-Atlantic grid operator PJM.

Exelon has secured zero-emissions credits for financially struggling nuclear plants in New York and New Jersey, two states seeking to eliminate their carbon emissions by midcentury, and has won similar credits as part of Illinois’ 2016 Future Energy Jobs Act that supply about $235 million per year in zero-emissions credits to its Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear plants.

But Exelon has not secured subsidies for four other Illinois nuclear power plants, including the Byron and Dresden facilities. In August it announced it will close those plants in 2021 and may also seek early retirement of its Braidwood and LaSalle power plants unless it can obtain state support to bolster their economics. ………

State support for zero-carbon nuclear scrambled by bribery scandal

Exelon had gathered support last year for a bill that would have created a new state capacity market structure to bolster its nuclear fleet’s revenues. This “Fixed Resource Requirement,” or FRR, structure would have pulled some plants out of PJM’s capacity market, where they are likely to struggle to compete under federally mandated rules that will force state-subsidized resources to adhere to minimum bids that could undermine their competitiveness against fossil-fueled power plants .

But the FRR plan contained in last year’s Clean Energy Jobs Act lost lawmaker support in the wake of Exelon utility ComEd’s connection to a federal bribery investigation alleging the utility steered jobs, contracts and payments to House Speaker Michael Madigan in exchange for favorable treatment in the state capitol. Exelon agreed to pay a $200 million fine and submit to a deferred prosecution agreement this summer.

Gov. Pritzker has so far rebuffed Exelon’s entreaties for state aid for its nuclear power plants, calling its August decision to close the Byron and Dresden plants a “threat.”   Pritzker’s office has proposed a clean energy plan laying out his preferred path for achieving the state’s decarbonization goals, after the Clean Energy Jobs Act and a rival clean energy bill, dubbed Path to 100, were unable to advance during this year’s legislative session, which was dominated by issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Crane told analysts that gaining an FRR for Exelon’s Illinois nuclear fleet was not a “gating factor” for whether or not it would move forward with its reorganization. “If the plants are not profitable, they don’t cover their cash needs or the earning requirements, we shut them down, with or without FRR,” he said. “Some people have called it a threat. It’s not a threat. It is just a reality.”……….  https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/exelon-confirms-its-exploring-splitting-utilities-from-nuclear-generation-business

 

November 5, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Due to shutdowns, Japan has only one nuclear reactor working

Japan left with only one nuclear reactor working due to shutdown, Asahi Shimbun, By HIROKI HASHIMOTO/ Staff Writer, November 4, 2020

  ”……….. This is the first time since May 2017 that all nuclear reactors operated by Kansai Electric remain suspended.

Electric power companies are required to construct an anti-terrorism facility at their nuclear power plants under stringent new safety regulations imposed after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima plant.

But Kansai Electric failed to meet the deadline at the Takahama nuclear power plant in Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, forcing it to take its No. 3 and No. 4 reactors offline.

In addition, pipes need to be replaced at its Oi nuclear power plant’s No. 3 reactor.

Kansai Electric submitted repair plans to the government and expects to finish the work in January so it can restart the reactor in February at the earliest.

In January this year, the Hiroshima High Court granted a provisional disposition order to stop Shikoku Electric’s Ikata nuclear power plant’s No. 3 reactor in Ikata, Ehime Prefecture, which means it is unlikely to come back online until next March at the earliest.

Kyushu Electric’s Sendai nuclear power plant’s No. 1 and No. 2 reactors in Satsuma-Sendai, Kagoshima Prefecture, were also suspended after construction of an anti-terrorism facility fell behind schedule.

The Genkai nuclear power plant’s No. 3 reactor is undergoing regular inspections, so only the No. 4 reactor is still operating.

This situation is expected to continue until Dec. 22 when Kansai Electric plans to restart the No. 3 reactor at its Takahama nuclear power plant.  http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13900336

November 5, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, Japan, safety | Leave a comment

Climate Change – Hubris or Nemesis for Nuclear Power?

BANNG (accessed) 3rd Nov 2020, Climate Change – Hubris or Nemesis for Nuclear Power? By Andy Blowers.
Article for Town & Country Planning Association. Proposals for new nuclear
power installations are often presented as integral to solutions to climate
change, but the dangers of sites in low-lying coastal areas only add to a
range of threats to security and the environment posed by nuclear power

https://www.banng.info/wp/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/AB_TCP_Sept_Oct_2020.pdf

November 5, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Europe still without a final disposal solution for its most dangerous nuclear waste

Le Monde 4th Nov 2020, Europe still without a final disposal solution for its most dangerous
nuclear waste. The first edition of the World Report on Nuclear Waste,
published Wednesday in its French version, provides elements of comparison
of management methods in different countries.

https://www.lemonde.fr/planete/article/2020/11/04/l-europe-toujours-sans-solution-de-stockage-definitif-de-ses-dechets-nucleaires-les-plus-dangereux_6058412_3244.html

November 5, 2020 Posted by | Belarus, wastes | Leave a comment