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Thought for the day. UK Conservative govt ready to nationalise nuclear power

You didn’t know? Boris Johnson is a Socialist at heart. After so many perambulations around those minefields of how to make the tax-payer fund (otherwise unaffordable) nuclear power, the UK might soon take the plunge – be honest, and just nationalise the whole thing, as they do in Russia, China, France

March 22, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Boris Johnson determined to show ‘leadership’ on nuclear power

Johnson announces aim for UK to get 25% of electricity from nuclear power. PM meets industry bosses to discuss new power stations, with several reactors slated for closure as energy demand rises, Guardian,   Jasper Jolly and Rob Davies 22 Mar 22

Boris Johnson has told nuclear industry bosses that the government wants the UK to get 25% of its electricity from nuclear power, in a move that would signal a significant shift in the country’s energy mix.

Johnson on Monday met executives from major nuclear utilities and technology companies including the UK’s Rolls-Royce, France’s EDF, and the US’s Westinghouse and Bechtel to discuss ways of helping to speed up the development of new nuclear power stations.

The UK generates about 16% of its power from nuclear power stations, but several reactors are slated for closure, while electricity demand is expected to rise steadily in the next decade. That would mean large investments in new power stations would be required just to keep the share of nuclear constant, let alone increase it to a record level of just over a quarter of electricity use.

Also present at the meeting were a series of big pension companies and insurers, including Aviva, Legal & General and Rothesay Life, alongside major foreign investors including Australia’s Macquarie and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. Ministers have wrestled for years with how to attract private capital to invest in nuclear – but companies have balked at putting pension and insurance cash at risk.

The government is considering changes to insurance rules set by the EU and copied by the UK to make it easier for insurers and pensions to invest. The UK is switching to a “regulated asset base” model, which it hopes will give long-term investors more certainty on returns, a change it hopes will address limitations to the current rules, known as Solvency II.

The government wanted to show the nuclear and investment industries that it had a “clear ambition for more nuclear” in part to balance out intermittent renewable power sources, according to a government source briefed on the discussion.

………………..According to an aide who was present at the meeting, Johnson told industry heads and financiers that there had been a “chronic absence” of leadership by successive British governments on nuclear energy and that the country was “being left for dead” by other nations, such as France, on the issue.

Speaking after the meeting, Tom Greatrex, the chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA), said: “Accelerating nuclear projects is absolutely essential to keep energy costs down, cut expensive gas imports and strengthen our energy security as we move towards net zero.

“That means urgently investing in a fleet of large and small nuclear stations, alongside renewable investment, to deliver the clean, sovereign power we need.”

The UK has struggled to build new nuclear power stations in recent decades, with the Japanese conglomerate Hitachi in 2020 pulling out of plans to build a new reactor at Wylfa, north Wales, and geopolitical tensions making the government less keen on attracting Chinese investment to Sizewell C on the Suffolk coast.

Meanwhile the existing nuclear fleet has been in steady decline, with Hunterston B in Scotland retiring earlier this year, Hinkley Point B in Somerset due to follow suit in the summer, and Heysham I and Hartlepool I due to shut down in 2024.

At that point, nuclear capacity is expected to fall as low as 3.6GW.A cross-party group of MPs that campaigns on nuclear issues has called for the government to increase its annual nuclear power capacity to 15GW by 2030 and 30GW by 2050, far above the 12.7GW installed at nuclear power’s peak in 1995.

Major obstacles include difficulty in securing funding from private investors and a ban on new nuclear projects, which was among the factors that scuppered the Wylfa project in north Wales.projects in Scotland, imposed by the devolved government, which prevents Hunterston B being replaced.

The government is examining a plan to revise the financing model for major projects, which was among the factors that scuppered the Wylfa project in north Wales.

Under plans for Sizewell being discussed by Whitehall officials and EDF, the government could take a stake in a development company that will push it through various stages of planning and bureaucracy, sharing the costs with EDF.

Private sector investors such as the insurance funds L&G and Aviva would then be lured in at a later stage in return for a government-backed funding model called the regulated asset base (Rab), diluting the taxpayer and EDF.

Legislation on Rab funding – the same model used to fund airports such as Heathrow and water companies – is due to progress through parliament next month.  https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/mar/21/johnson-announces-aim-for-uk-to-get-25-of-energy-from-nuclear-power

March 22, 2022 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Renewable energy: Austria, a leader of anti-nuclear advocacy in Europe

Renewable energy: Austria, a leader of anti-nuclear advocacy in Europe, https://www.france24.com/en/tv-shows/focus/20220321-renewable-energy-austria-a-leader-of-anti-nuclear-advocacy-in-europeBy:

Vianey LORIN|Anthony MILLS, The EU is proposing to put nuclear power on its list of sustainable energy sources. But Austria is threatening to file a case with the Court of Justice of the European Union to get that text annulled. The country has never embraced nuclear energy and is even home to the world’s only power station to have been built but never fired up. Austria produces more than 75 percent of its electricity from renewable energy and is a leader of anti-nuclear advocacy in Europe. Our correspondents report.

March 22, 2022 Posted by | EUROPE, opposition to nuclear, politics international | Leave a comment

Russia about to announce an export ban on uranium

Putin goes nuclear: Biden faces crisis as Russia BANS uranium exports in sanction response

US PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN is currently facing a nuclear crisis as Russia announces an export ban on uranium. Express UK, By ANTONY ASHKENAZ Mar 21, 2022  Russian President Vladimir Putin has hit back the US for the crippling sanctions placed by Joe Biden on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine. Earlier this month, the US dealt a major blow to Moscow by announcing a ban on Russian oil and gas, the country’s largest export. Now as a response to the embargo, Russia is considering halting the sale of uranium to the US.

When he was asked about how he felt about imposing a ban on the export of uranium, Mr Novak said: “This issue is also on the agenda, it is being studied.”

Uranium, which is a key component of nuclear weapons and nuclear energy, is another energy resource mined in Russia.

The US energy industry relies on Moscow and its key allies Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan for roughly half of the uranium powering its nuclear power plants.

Mr Biden has faced intense lobbying from the nuclear industry to continue buying Russian uranium despite Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russia has known uranium deposits of 500,000 tonnes and accounts for 9 percent of the world’s uranium production, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Uranium is primarily used for its nuclear properties, both as a fuel for power plants and for nuclear weapons.

Earlier this month, at a White House address, Mr Biden said: ‘We’re banning all imports of

 Russian gas, oil and energy’…………….

 sources noted that these sanctions do not include a ban on imports of uranium for nuclear 

power plants………..   https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/1584053/putin-news-russia-nuclear-nightmare-uranium-exports-ban-ukraine-invasion

March 22, 2022 Posted by | politics international, Uranium | Leave a comment

Deal on Ukrainian nuclear safety to come ‘soon,’ says IAEA chief


Deal on Ukrainian nuclear safety to come ‘soon,’ says IAEA chief,  
https://www.politico.eu/article/deal-ukraine-nuclear-safety-iaea-chief-russia-war/

Agency hopes to send experts to Ukraine to get ‘credible, objective’ on the ground information.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is closing in on a deal to guarantee the safety and security of nuclear facilities in Ukraine, according to its chief Rafael Mariano Grossi.

“We are negotiating, we are approaching what we want to be the final stages of our consultations,” Grossi told European lawmakers on Monday, adding he hoped to reach a deal “very soon.”

The discussions, which started on March 10, are “very delicate” diplomatically, he said.

The future framework will make “no political references to the situation in the plants or no connection that could be construed as legitimizing the presence of anybody in a foreign territory,” according to Grossi, responding to concerns that it could be used by Moscow to legitimize control over parts of Ukraine’s territory.

He added that it will require Russia and Ukraine to “observe some of the rules … that have been repeatedly violated with enormous risk for the population, local, regional, European populations” since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February.

Russian troops have taken control of the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear power plant and the active nuclear power station at Zaporizhzhia, prompting fears of potential nuclear disaster and large-scale environmental damage.

Grossi has repeatedly expressed his concerns about nuclear safety as the conflict unfolds, but at no point has the IAEA warned of explicit and immediate danger outside Ukraine.

Speaking to MEPs on Monday, he stressed that “nuclear power plants are very robust, they can sustain an airplane that falls on them.” It would take “massive means” to get to the core of a reactor. He also repeated that targeting nuclear plants would constitute a breach of international law.

Once the framework is agreed, Grossi said he hopes to send IAEA experts to Ukraine “to facilitate the situation there, also as a deterrent to new, complicated, dangerous occurrences taking places.”

Experts will also look to gather “credible, objective information” about the situation on the ground, he said, noting that it is becoming “increasingly difficult” to ascertain the facts of the situation “because there are conflicting narratives about what is happening.”

March 22, 2022 Posted by | politics international, safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Western countries importing Russian uranium and nuclear supplies – WITH NO SANCTIONS.

Weekly Data: Cutting nuclear links with Russia may be harder than cutting fossil fuel imports,  https://www.energymonitor.ai/sectors/power/weekly-data-russian-uranium-supply-chains

Russia’s war in Ukraine and Western countries’ subsequent sanctions are wreaking havoc on fossil fuel supply chains – but uranium deliveries for nuclear power remain untouched, for now.

By Mirela Petkova,   As the EU looks for ways to reduce its dependence on Russian gas and oil in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the future of nuclear energy is also becoming uncertain. This may seem surprising at first. Nuclear power generated almost a quarter of the total electricity produced in the bloc in 2020 and the European Commission recently allowed for the classification of some nuclear power plants as green investments under the EU Taxonomy for green investment.

Energy Monitor’s Weekly Data shows Russia is the second-biggest source of uranium, the raw material for nuclear fuel, for EU member states. The supply chain is diversified, as countries such as Niger, Kazakhstan and Canada also contribute significant amounts.

Domestic production remains low, with uranium originating outside the EU 27 accounting for 95% of total consumption, according to the European Atomic Energy Community. However, getting the uranium is not the only element of fuelling nuclear plants – it also must be enriched. Russia provides about 35% of enriched uranium globally and according to the World Nuclear Association (WNA) has the biggest enrichment capacity in the world, with China ranked second. Among EU members, countries with enrichment capacities include Germany, the Netherlands and France.

Furthermore, a significant number of nuclear reactors in Europe are Russian-designed – 18 out of 103, in five of the 13 nuclear EU member states. According to the WNA, there are Russian-designed reactors in Bulgaria and Finland (two each), Hungary and Slovakia (four each), and the Czech Republic (six).

Those reactors contribute significantly to some of the countries’ electricity supplies. In the case of the Czech Republic, nuclear power makes up one-third of electricity production, and Hungary’s four reactors account for almost half its electricity needs. Europe’s Russian-designed nuclear plants depend largely or wholly on Russian companies for fuel fabrication.

The supply chain situation is different, but just as difficult, across the Atlantic. Despite US President Joe Biden’s executive order in early March 2022 to stop imports of Russian oil and gas, uranium for nuclear power plants has not been targeted. The reliance on Russia is slightly smaller than the EU’s – according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), in 2020, Russia accounted for 16% of US uranium imports, with Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan accounting for 8% and 22%, respectively.

US domestic uranium production has declined steeply in recent years, with the EIA being unable to publish quarterly production figures in the last two years due to a low reporting threshold. As Republican Senator John Barrasso from Wyoming proposes legislation to ban imports of Russian uranium, the US could find itself cut off from Russian imports.

Back in Europe, while the war in Ukraine has made clear the EU must work to diversify its energy supplies, the bloc’s dependence on Russian uranium fuel and enrichment has, so far, flown under the radar. Either way, looking ahead, Russia’s reserves of uranium pale in comparison with countries such as Australia, Kazakhstan and Canada.

March 22, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international | Leave a comment

Chernobyl radiation monitors ‘not working’

Chernobyl radiation monitors ‘not working’   https://www.cessnockadvertiser.com.au/story/7667680/chernobyl-radiation-monitors-not-working/?cs=6981Australian Associated Press 21 Mar 22,

Ukraine’s nuclear regulatory agency says the radiation monitors around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, site of the world’s worst meltdown in 1986, have stopped working.

In a statement on Monday, the agency also said there are no longer firefighters available in the region to protect forests tainted by decades of radioactivity as the weather warms.

The plant was seized by Russian forces on February 24.

According to Monday’s statement, the combination of risks could mean a “significant deterioration” of the ability to control the spread of radiation not just in Ukraine but beyond the country’s borders in weeks and months to come.

Management of the Chernobyl plant said on Sunday that 50 staff members who had been working non-stop since the Russian takeover have been rotated out and replaced.

March 22, 2022 Posted by | safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Nuclear energy development not possible in USA, unless it is tax-payer funded?

What Is Holding U.S. Nuclear Energy Back?   OilPrice.com 21 Mar 22

”……….There are three basic business risks associated with nuclear power for an investor-owned utility:  financing, operating, and sales. (Four if you add in new construction risk which is not inconsequential.) The simple reason no US investor-owned utility — apart from Southern Company’s Plant Vogtle—- is building or considering new nuclear investments is the first risk, financing. To paraphrase a former NYC mayoral candidate, the capital costs are “too damn high”. By any metric, nuclear power is economically uncompetitive. According to the recent Lazard study comparing the cost of new power generation, it is about three times more costly than natural gas and five times more costly than new wind and solar.

This begs an obvious question. How can we have more of something if it is wildly, economically uncompetitive? The answer is simple: eliminate the consideration of economics from new power plant development. Take for example a large nuclear construction project at Turkey’s four-unit Akuyu nuclear power station. In the US that is a $40+billion capital project. No US investor-owned utility has the balance sheet to handle multiple unit projects of that size. Only the US government has the borrowing capacity for projects of that magnitude and risk. This, in turn, suggests that new nuclear power plant development will only occur in the US If we compromise on our free enterprise principles and take new nuclear plant development out of the private sector entirely. These enormous financing risks are now impossible to comfortably absorb in a corporate setting where they must be constantly balanced against shareholder interests. ….’

March 22, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

UK’s Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng considering launching State-owned nuclear company

 Government ministers are mulling over plans to launch a state-owned
nuclear company, which would assume stakes in future domestic projects.
Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is considering the move as he looks to
speed up the development of nuclear plants – which have suffered years of
delays- and reduce the UK’s reliance on foreign energy, according to The
Sunday Times.

 City AM 20th March 2022

https://www.cityam.com/the-nuclear-option-ministers-weigh-up-state-company-as-sunak-doubts-uk-energy-strategy/n.wordpress.com/

March 22, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Boris Johnson all for nuclear power – but there are tensions with the Treasury about this

 Boris Johnson will host a meeting with leaders from the nuclear power
industry today as part of efforts to boost domestic energy supplies. The
prime minister wants to remove the barriers to the raising of Britain’s
nuclear power output and sees the industry, along with renewables, as key
to reducing energy imports.

Today’s meeting with nuclear industry bosses
will inform the prime minister’s British Energy Security Strategy, which
has been hit by delays. It is unlikely to be unveiled until early next week
because of tensions with the Treasury and the prime minister’s travel
arrangements, which include a trip this week to a Nato summit in Brussels.
A government source said that the Treasury had delayed Johnson’s plans
for a significant increase in the number of nuclear power plants out of
concern about the feasibility and cost.

 Times 21st March 2022

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/boris-johnson-and-energy-bosses-discuss-nuclear-option-for-cutting-imports-m3pgbqcf3

March 22, 2022 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Boris Johnson ‘gung ho’ for new nuclear power, but Chancellor Rishi Sunak applying the brakes

Boris Johnson in ‘gung ho’ push for more nuclear power as energy
crisis starts to bite. Boris Johnson will on Monday sketch out to industry
bosses what one minister called his “gung ho” approach to boosting
Britain’s nuclear power sector, as officials draw up plans that could
target a fivefold increase in capacity by 2050.

The prime minister vowed
this month to make “a series of big new bets on nuclear power” and
government insiders say this could imply the construction of at least half
a dozen big new stations between 2030 and 2050.

Rishi Sunak, chancellor,
last week applied the brakes to Johnson’s plans to set out an energy
security strategy this week, amid Treasury fears about the cost to the
public purse. New nuclear power stations each require close to £ 20bn to
build and the industry is prone to cost overruns.

Sunak, who presents his
Spring Statement this week, is trying to hold down spending to give him
space to cut taxes. “We need to do more work on the nuclear strategy
before we press ahead,” said one ally of the chancellor. But one cabinet
minister said: “Boris has had something of an evangelical conversion, in
the past few months – he has been really gung-ho for nuclear.” The
energy strategy is due before the end of the month.

 FT 20th March 2022

https://www.ft.com/content/17852c7c-fd92-40cb-b4ec-9767c6069677

March 22, 2022 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Evangelical fervour for new nuclear power in UK’s Tory government

 Wylfa on Anglesey could get three new nuclear reactors as the Prime
Minister is said to be ‘enthusiastic’ about accelerating plans in order
to reach the UK’s future net-zero targets and close an energy black hole.


US nuclear company Westinghouse has put together a consortium with
construction group Bechtel to revive plans for two nuclear reactors at
Wylfa since Hitachi, a Japanese conglomerate, abandoned their own plans in
2019.

A consortium led by Rolls-Royce also wants to place one of their own
‘small’ modular reactors on the site. According to the Financial Times,
Boris Johnson is “enthusiastic about Wylfa’s prospects,” with one
cabinet minister telling the newspaper he “has had something of an
evangelical conversion, in the past few months”.

Ynys Môn MP Virginia
Crosbie has also been enthusiastic about the plans, describing herself in
the House of Commons as “the Atomic Kitten”. However, Chancellor Rishi
Sunak is said to be less enthusiastic given the cost to the taxpayer of
financing such huge projects that would not be operational for decades,
with a target of meeting the UK Government’s ‘net zero’ goal by 2050.

 Nation Cymru 21st March 2022  https://nation.cymru/news/wylfa-could-get-three-new-nuclear-reactors-as-boris-johnson-enthusiastic-about-accelerating-plans/

March 22, 2022 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Boris Johnson in the grip of the nuclear lobby

Prime minister Boris Johnson is expected this week to meet the bosses of
leading power and energy development companies to discuss ways of
increasing Britain’s electricity and gas supplies.

Officials from EDF, developer of the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power plant, are expected to
be invited to the talks. Rolls-Royce and nuclear company Westinghouse are
also understood to have been invited. EDF and Sizewell C declined to
comment.

But Stop Sizewell C said the Suffolk power project was not the
solution to the energy crisis as it stepped up its campaign again at the
weekend by projecting messages onto Sizewell B on Saturday night.

 East Anglian Daily Times 20th March 2022

https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/business/sizewell-projections-message-on-nuclear-power-8768518

March 22, 2022 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Nuclear lobby touting small nuclear reactors to Alaska


House bill would streamline approval of small nuclear reactors in Alaska, Alaska Public Media, By, Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks, March 21, 2022  A bill moving through the Alaska Legislature would streamline the state’s approval process for small nuclear reactors, which have been touted as cleaner, more cost-effective sources of energy for Alaska.

There are no microreactors operating anywhere in the United States. But a few pilot projects are planned, including one at Eielson Air Force Base. The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission must approve any new reactor, but House Bill 299 from Gov. Mike Dunleavy would exempt microreactors from some decades-old state requirements.

At a state House committee hearing, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation environmental health director Christina Carpenter said the bill would exempt microreactors from multi-agency study and legislative siting approval requirements……………

Alaska Community Action on Toxics executive director Pam Miller describes nuclear power as destructive throughout its lifecycle.

“While these nuclear microreactors are being touted as a solution for the climate crisis and energy needs in rural Alaska, I believe that it’s a false solution and that these reactors are actually quite dangerous,” she said. “From the mining of uranium, which usually takes place on Indigenous lands, through the enrichment process. And then there is the untenable problem of radioactive waste disposal, and that has not been solved.”

Miller said she is also concerned about the security of microreactors in Alaska, especially if deployed in remote locations.

Under the bill, microreactors proposed for areas without local government would still need to get siting approval from the legislature.  https://www.alaskapublic.org/2022/03/21/house-bill-would-streamline-approval-of-small-nuclear-reactors-in-alaska/

March 22, 2022 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Catholic bishops assert their opposition to nuclear weapons

Catholic bishops assert their opposition to nuclear weapons,  THE organisation Justice & Peace Scotland have reaffirmed their opposition to nuclear weapons and have marked the 40th anniversary of the Scottish Bishops 1982 landmark statement entitled Peace and Disarmament.

A video, recorded in conjunction with Sancta Familia Media, features clergy, young people and laity reaffirming their opposition to nuclear weapons, and the reasons for their stance.

The video features Archbishop William Nolan (Glasgow), Archbishop Leo Cushley (Edinburgh), Bishop John Keenan (Diocese of Paisley), Bishop Brian McGee (Diocese of Argyll and the Isles) as well as young people from every Catholic diocese in Scotland………….  https://www.irishpost.com/news/catholic-bishops-assert-their-opposition-to-nuclear-weapons-231766

March 22, 2022 Posted by | Religion and ethics, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment