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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Switzerland’ binding referendum – voted to ban nuclear plants, shift to renewable energy

Switzerland votes to ban nuclear plants, shift to renewable energy, in referendum ABC News 22 May 17  Swiss voters have backed the Government’s plan to provide billions of dollars in subsidies for renewable energy, ban new nuclear plants and help bail out struggling utilities in a binding referendum.

Key points:

  • Provisional data shows nearly 60 per cent backed Government plan
  • Solar and wind account for less than 5 per cent of Switzerland’s energy output
  • Voters get final say on major policy issues in Switzerland

Provisional final figures showed support at 58.2 per cent under the Swiss system of direct democracy, which gives voters final say on major policy issues.

The Swiss initiative mirrors efforts elsewhere in Europe to reduce dependence on nuclear power, partly sparked by Japan’s Fukushima disaster in 2011.

Germany aims to phase out nuclear power by 2022, while Austria banned it decades ago.

“The results shows the population wants a new energy policy and does not want any new nuclear plants,” Energy Minister Doris Leuthard said, adding the law would boost domestic renewable energy, cut fossil fuel use and reduce reliance on foreign supplies……. http://www.abc.net.au/n

May 22, 2017 Posted by | politics, Switzerland | Leave a comment

UK election: party policies signal the end of new nuclear power

It now looks increasingly as if the Hinkley C project may be quietly shelved, or even cancelled, with the agreement of both UK and French governments.

And beyond that the prospects for new nuclear power in the UK have never been gloomier. The only way new nuclear power stations will ever be built in the UK is with massive political and financial commitment from government. That commitment is clearly absent.

So yes, this finally looks like the end of the UK’s ‘nuclear renaissance’. Not with a bang, nor even with a whimper, but with a deep and profoundly meaningful silence. Not a moment too soon.

Conservative election manifesto signals the end of new nuclear power, Ecologist, Oliver Tickell & Ian Fairlie, 18th May 2017  After years of pro-nuclear bombast from the Conservative Party, its 2017 manifesto hasn’t got a single word to say about nuclear power, write Oliver Tickell & Ian Fairlie. Instead it announces a renewed focus on cutting energy costs, and a big boost for increasingly low-cost wind power; while both Labour and Libdems offer only weak, highly qualified support for new nuclear build. And so the great British ‘nuclear renaissance’ reaches its timely end.

All of a sudden the UK’s political parties want to have nothing to do with nuclear power.

This much is clear from the party manifestos – notably that of the Conservative Party, published yesterday.

OK, it does not announce an end to Britain’s massive 10GW nuclear power programme set out in the Cameron-Osborne years of government.

In fact, it does not even mention nuclear power. Instead it states that a future Tory government will remain sublimely indifferent to how our electricity is generated, so long as it’s reliable, cheap and low carbon:……

now, it’s all about keeping costs down, says the 2017 manifesto: “We want to make sure that the cost of energy in Britain is internationally competitive, both for businesses and households … Our ambition is that the UK should have the lowest energy costs in Europe, both for households and businesses. So as we upgrade our energy infrastructure, we will do it in an affordable way, consistent with that ambition.”

And one sure way not to deliver cheap energy to the UK is to build new nuclear power stations. if Hinkley C is ever built, UK energy users will be paying more than double the current wholesale power price, inflation adjusted, for 35 years from the time it opens, something that could cost the UK economy £50-100 billion.

Labour and the Libdems: a pocketful of mumbles

By contrast, Labour does give nuclear power a specific mention it is manifesto – just a rather small one that adds up to no real commitment to anything.

“The UK has the world’s oldest nuclear industry, and nuclear will continue to be part of the UK energy supply. We will support further nuclear projects and protect nuclear workers’ jobs and pensions. There are considerable opportunities for nuclear power and decommissioning both internationally and domestically.”

Let’s decipher. Yes, nuclear power will continue to be part of energy supply as we still have quite a few old nuclear power stations that we are not about to shut down.

What about “We will support further nuclear projects”? What kind of nuclear projects? How about decommissioning, nuclear waste management, production of medical isotopes … ? Do these projects include nuclear power? They’re not telling. Most likely (after all we know that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is firmly anti-nuclear) these are warm but empty words to placate powerful nuclear-supporting trades unions like the GMB and Unite.

And what kind of ‘support’? Speeches in the House of Commons? Or tens of billions of pounds of hard cash. It’s hard to say. Does this add up to a firm commitment to build a fleet of new nuclear power stations at massive public cost? Hardly.

The Libdem position is similarly weak, promising only that “We will … Accept that new nuclear power stations can play a role in electricity supply provided concerns about safety, disposal of waste and cost are adequately addressed, new technology is incorporated, and there is no public subsidy for new build.”

We know perfectly well that nuclear power is hugely expensive, intrinsically unsafe due to its potential for massive harm (look only to Fukushima), can only operate with enormous public subsidies, and that no one has yet figured out a way to keep nuclear wastes safely contained for tens of thousands of years, an informed interpretation of this statement might go: “Nuclear power? Not on your nelly!”…….

Meanwhile the SNP says it wants no new nuclear power stations in Scotland; and Plaid Cymu leader Leanne Wood is opposed to new nuclear power, but her executive supports Wylfa because of the jobs. Got that?

Why the turnaround?

It has surely become clear to politicians that nuclear power is in a death spiral, terminally afflicted by:

  • very high costs, at least double those of conventional generation, which can only be carried by governments, taxpayers and energy users at the expense of more deserving and productive investments;
  • apparently unconstructable reactor designs hit by massive cost overruns and delays in France, Finland and the USA;
  • the bankruptcy of the world’s biggest nuclear power contractor, the Toshiba-owned Westinghouse – lined up to build a massive new nuclear complex at Moorside in Cumbria with three AP1000 reactors – mainly as a result of these cost overruns and delays on AP1000 projects in the USA;
  • the parlous condition of the French parastatals EDF and Areva, which survive only thanks to the inexhaustible largesse of French taxpayers;
  • investor reluctance to have anything to do with new nuclear power stations unless returns are guaranteed in cast iron contracts at huge expense to taxpayers;
  • the continuing lack of a long term solution for nuclear waste storage / disposal;
  • the inflexibility of nuclear power stations, which means that they overproduce when electricity is in surplus, while being unable to keep up with demand when power is desperately needed;
  • the continuing precipitous decline in the cost of disruptive ‘new energy’ technologies such as solar, wind, including offshore wind, grid-scale batteries, power to gas, smart grid, set to continue and gather pace for many years to come.

So what’s the alternative? Given that onshore wind is already the cheapest new source of power generation, and offshore wind costs are falling rapidly (and are already far cheaper than new nuclear), wind power really should have a big role. So check out this statement from the Conservative manifesto:

“While we do not believe that more large-scale onshore wind power is right for England, we will maintain our position as a global leader in offshore wind and support the development of wind projects in the remote islands of Scotland, where they will directly benefit local communities.”

This commits a future Tory government to maintaining a strong pipeline of large offshore wind projects, while opening the door to medium and small scale onshore wind power in England, as well as to large scale wind on Scottish islands and elsewhere in the devolved nations. What it ultimately means is that wind power has a great future in the UK – in stark contrast to previous policy…….

Not with a bang, nor even a whimper

It now looks increasingly as if the Hinkley C project may be quietly shelved, or even cancelled, with the agreement of both UK and French governments.

And beyond that the prospects for new nuclear power in the UK have never been gloomier. The only way new nuclear power stations will ever be built in the UK is with massive political and financial commitment from government. That commitment is clearly absent.

So yes, this finally looks like the end of the UK’s ‘nuclear renaissance’. Not with a bang, nor even with a whimper, but with a deep and profoundly meaningful silence. Not a moment too soon.http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2988965/conservative_election_manifesto_signals_the_end_of_new_nuclear_power.html

 

May 20, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

FirstEnergy Solutions could go bankrupt. First Energy pleads for tax-payer subsidies

FirstEnergy CEO Discusses Possible Bankruptcy For Generation Company http://wvxu.org/post/firstenergy-ceo-discusses-possible-bankruptcy-generation-company#stream/0 The CEO of one of Ohio’s largest energy providers made a rare appearance before state lawmakers, pleading for nuclear plant subsidies. This push comes as the company is nearing a major decision

FirstEnergy CEO Chuck Jones personally went before the Ohio Senate, saying subsidies would prop up their two struggling nuclear plants.

If passed, FirstEnergy customers would see about a $5 increase to their monthly electric bills.

Time might be running out to save these plants. As Jones explains, the subsidiary FirstEnergy Solutions which controls all the power generation could soon declare bankruptcy.

“They’re looking at that right now. That decision could happen anywhere between today and six months from now.”

Jones pointed out that he does not make decisions for FirstEnergy Solutions.

The nuclear credits bill has stalled in the House and Senate and will likely not come back up until the fall.

May 20, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

France names ex Green candidate as energy minister

http://reneweconomy.com.au/france-names-ex-greens-candidate-and-solar-advocate-as-energy-minister-16021/By Emiliano Bellini on 19 May 2017 PV Magazine Newly appointed energy minister Nicolas Hulot is a well-known journalist and environmentalist which has had a leading role in the French Green Party (Europe Écologie-Les Verts) in the past, and has always supported solar through his foundation.

Nicolas Hulot has been named new France’s new energy and environment minister in the cabinet led by the new prime minister Edouard Philippe. Hulot’s ministry, which under the previous government was named Ministry of Energy, Ecology and Sustainable Development (MEEM), has been renamed into Ministry of the Ecological and Solidarity-based Transition.

Hulot, who was a candidate in the primary of the Green Party (Europe Écologie-Les Verts) to the 2012 French presidential election, is a well-known journalist and environmentalist who became popular thanks to his documentary tv show “Ushuaïa Nature, whose slogan is “wonder is the first step towards respect.”

He is also the president of the Fondation Nicolas-Hulot, an environmental organization created by him in 1990.

The new minister has always been a supporter of solar energy in the French political debate.

In 2011, after the French government introduced a moratorium on solar projects which paralyzed the sector for several years, Hulot’s foundation released a study containing a series of proposals on how to further develop PV, and on how to involve all of the country’s interested parties, including government, media, enterprises and associations, in the transition to a clean energy economy.

In a more recent study published in 2015, Hulot’s foundation said that solar must be deployed “at human scale” everywhere in the world, and that it must be adopted especially in countries with low access to electricity. As for PV in France, the foundation said that the country has the potential to install a further 20 GW and 25 GW in addition to the 5.8 GW installed at the time.

This, the reports stressed, can occur without putting pressure on the national grid. If achieved, the target proposed by Hulot’s foundation would enable the country to raise the share of solar in the country power mix from 1% to 8%.

As for the outgoing energy minister, Ségolène Royal, it must be acknowledged that she performed an extraordinary job for the solar sector.

Immediately after her appointment, she started several initiatives aimed at restoring investor confidence, a clear and stable regulatory framework, and a reasonable level of incentives. Under her mandate, solar saw its target by 2023 being tripled to 20.2 GW. Royal’s energy strategy also decided that nuclears share of the French energy mix should fall to 50% by 2025.

Note: Reuters reports that news of the appointment sent the share price of nuclear utility EDF down as much as seven per cent, as the appointment raised doubts in investors’ minds about the strength of Macron’s commitment to a pro-nuclear energy policy.

“There is a fear of a stricter ecological line given Hulot’s history as an environmental campaigner,” said Andrea Tueni, markets analyst with Saxo Bank. Hulot, who scores high in popularity polls, said he hoped the job would allow him to bring about change.

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.

“As renewable energy becomes more and more competitive, the nuclear industry business model belongs to the past,” he said.

May 20, 2017 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

Ohio legislature suspends decision on bailing out nuclear power plants

Ohio House Sidelines Bailout of 2 FirstEnergy Nuclear Plants  Opponents are praising a decision to suspend deliberations on a proposed bailout of Ohio’s two nuclear plants, even as Akron-based FirstEnergy continues to push for the deal.  US News, May 19, 2017, By JULIE CARR SMYTH, AP Statehouse Correspondent COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Opponents are praising a decision to suspend deliberations on the proposed financial rescue of Ohio’s two nuclear plants, even as Akron-based FirstEnergy continues to push for the deal.

House Public Utilities Chairman Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, discontinued testimony on legislation containing the proposal Wednesday after vocal protests by consumer, business, and environmental groups and energy competitors.

“I am not sensing a keen desire on the part of the House members to vote on this and doubt that we will have more hearings in the near future unless something cataclysmic should happen,” cleveland.com quoted Seitz as saying.

The plan calls for a special fee charged to customers that the company argues is necessary to secure the future of its aging Davis-Besse and Perry plants. The two facilities produce 14 percent of Ohio’s electricity.

FirstEnergy CEO Chuck Jones took his case to the Ohio Senate on Thursday, testifying for more than an hour before the Senate Public Utilities Committee on separate legislation containing the bailout plan……..

Exactly how much the plan would generate for the nuclear plants isn’t clear because subsidies are based on a complex formula involving plant emissions. Recently approved subsidy deals in New York and Illinois aimed at stopping unprofitable nuclear plants from closing prematurely cost billions.

 The Environmental Defense Council has placed the price tag for the Ohio proposal at $5.25 billion. The Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, representing utility ratepayers, calculated the costs to each of FirstEnergy’s 2 million residential customers at $57 a year, on average, for up to 16 years, with the potential that the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio could allow upward adjustments.

Seitz’s decision to sideline the proposal was praised by the Coalition Against Nuclear Bailouts, a group of more than 50 organizations that has joined forces to fight the plan. The coalition includes the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, associations representing bars, bowling alleys and other small businesses, and a host of local community representatives.

Commissioner Pete Gerken of Lucas County, which includes Toledo, said the proposal would cause families and businesses in FirstEnergy’s territory to “foot the hefty bill.”

“Further, this proposed bailout would pick winners and losers in the energy generation market and could drive private investment, jobs and tax revenues for local governments and schools out of Lucas County and other areas of the state,” he said.

The Lucas County commissioners, in northwest Ohio, and the mayor of Lordstown, in northeast Ohio, are among groups that announced opposition to the bailout ahead of Seitz’s action. https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/ohio/articles/2017-05-19/ohio-house-sidelines-bailout-of-2-firstenergy-nuclear-plants

May 20, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

British Labour Party supports renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent, disappoints many voters

CND 17th May 2017 The Labour Party manifesto has now been published. Its policy on nuclear weapons states: Labour supports the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent. As a nuclear-armed power, our country has a responsibility to fulfil our obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Labour will lead multilateral efforts with international partners and the UN to
create a nuclear-free world.

This will come as a huge disappointment to many voters and CND supporters. Labour’s policy on nuclear weapons is in
accordance with the status quo, representing no change from what has gone before. At a time when a majority of countries are supporting a fresh initiative at the UN to negotiate a nuclear ban treaty, it is very disappointing that the Labour Party has made no reference to engaging with this process. There is a glimmer of hope from Labour’s planned Strategic
Defence and Security Review. http://www.cnduk.org/cnd-media/item/3408-labours-manifesto-and-nuclear-weapons

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

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

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

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

Ohio House Public Utilities Committee suspends further hearings on FirstEnergy’s special nuclear customer charges

FirstEnergy nuclear hearings suspended in Ohio House, Cleveland.com  By John Funk, The Plain 
 May 17, 2017  CLEVELAND, Ohio — The chairman of the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee has suspended further hearings — and a vote — on a proposed bill allowing FirstEnergy to create a special customer charge to subsidize its nuclear power plant fleet.

“We have heard over 10 hours of testimony on this bill [House Bill 178]. I have given proponents and opponents a chance to make their case,” said William Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican who chairs the committee.

“I am not sensing a keen desire on the part of the House members to vote on this and doubt that we will have more hearings in the near future unless something cataclysmic should happen.”

Cataclysmic events might include a decision by FirstEnergy Solutions to seek bankruptcy protection from its creditors or a decision by the company to immediately close its four nuclear power plants.

FirstEnergy Solutions, the unregulated subsidiary of FirstEnergy, is legally the owner of all of the company’s power plants. FirstEnergy Solutions has been operating with junk bond ratings for some time.

Its parent has tried to distance itself from the company, even creating a separate board of directors, which includes two FirstEnergy employees. But FirstEnergy recently had to guarantee a cash settlement between FirstEnergy Solutions and several railroad companies claiming breach of contract when FirstEnergy Solutions closed coal-fired power plants along Lake Erie and declined further deliveries…….http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2017/05/firstenergy_nuclear_hearings_s.html

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

Secretive move by Australian government, to develop Generation IV nuclear reactors?

Submission to:  Inquiry: The Generation IV Nuclear Energy – Accession. by Noel Wauchope, 24 April 2017

First of all, I find it very strange that this agreement has been signed up to in advance, not by any elected representative of the Australian Parliament, but by Dr Adi Patterson CEO of the Australia Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, apparently pre-empting the results of this Inquiry!

I find it disturbing that this Inquiry is being held without any public information or discussion. Are we to assume that the decision to join this “Charter” is being taken without prior public knowledge?

It is a pretty momentous decision. According to the World Nuclear Association the 2005 Framework agreement “formally commits them (signatories) to participate in the development of one or more Generation IV systems selected by GIF for further R&D.”

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 currently prohibits the development of nuclear power in Australia. Nuclear power cannot be approved under either the EPBC Act or the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998.  These prohibitions are, as I understand it,  supported by all major parties in Australia?

This would be an extraordinary step for Australia to take, especially in the light of the recent South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission (NFCRC) pro-nuclear Royal Commission, which, while recommending South Australia for an international nuclear waste dump, nevertheless stated that

The recent conclusion of the Generation IV International Forum (GIF), which issued updated projections for fast reactor and innovative systems in January 2014, suggests the most advanced system will start a demonstration phase (which involves completing the detailed design of a prototype system and undertaking its licensing, construction and operation) in about 2021. The demonstration phase is expected to last at least 10 years and each system demonstrated will require funding of several billion US dollars. As a result, the earliest possible date for the commercial operation of fast reactor and other innovative reactor designs is 2031. This timeframe is subject to significant project, technical and funding risk. It extends by six years a similar assessment undertaken by GIF in 2002. This means that such designs could not realistically be ready for commercial deployment in South Australia or elsewhere before the late 2030s, and possibly later.”

This was hardly a ringing endorsement of Generation IV nuclear reactors.

The South Australian Citizens Jury, Community Consultations, numerous economists, and the S.A. Liberal Party all rejected that nuclear waste plan, as not economically viable.  A huge amount of preparation was done by the NFCRC in investigating the phases of the nuclear Fuel Cycle (more accurately Chain) to arrive at their rather negative view of Generation IV nuclear reactors.

That makes it all the more extraordinary that the Australian government would be willing to sign up so quickly to ANSTO’s request that Australia put resources into these untested, and so far, non-existent nuclear technologies.

I hope that the Committee is aware of the present financial troubles of the giant nuclear corporations, such as AREVA, Toshiba, and Westinghouse Electric. Nuclear power is turning out to be a financial liability wherever it is not funded by the tax-payer, (as in China and Russia). (1)

The World Nuclear Association describes the Generation IV International Forum (GIF) as countries for whom nuclear energy is significant now or seen as vital in the future. Australia’s situation in no way fits these criteria.

Nuclear energy is not significant now in Australia, and even the NRCRC nuclear proponents do not see it as vital for Australia’s future. It is almost laughable, that right now, renewable energy systems are taking off in Australia – both as large solar and wind farms, and as a huge increase in small decentralised systems such as home and business solar panel installations.

That’s where Australia should be putting its resources of human energy, talent, and funding.

The claims made by the nuclear lobby, ANSTO and some politicians, notably Christopher Pyne and Julie Bishop, about Generation Iv nuclear reactors, do not stand up to scrutiny:

Non proliferation “-   Furthering Australia’s non-proliferation and nuclear safety objectives.” The well-known claim that a “conventional” nuclear bomb cannot be made from these new types of reactor, might be true, to a certain extent. However, IFRs and other plutonium-based nuclear power concepts fail the WMD proliferation test, i.e. they can too easily be used to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. The use of thorium as a nuclear fuel doesn’t solve the WMD proliferation problem. Irradiation of thorium (indirectly) produces uranium-233, a fissile material which can be used in nuclear weapons.  These materials can be used to make a “dirty bomb” – irradiating a city or other target.  They would require the same expensive security measures that apply with conventional nuclear reactors.

If the purpose in joining the GIF is to strengthen non-proliferation and safety – why is ANSTO the implementing agent not the Australia Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office?

Solving nuclear waste problem? Claims that these new nuclear reactors will solve the problem of nuclear wastes are turning out to be spurious. For example, Nuclear energy startup Transatomic Power has backed away from bold claims for its advanced reactor technology after an informal review by MIT professors highlighted serious errors in the company’s calculations. (2) Even at the best of times, the “new nuclear” lobby admits that their Gen IV reactors will produce highly toxic radioactive wastes, requiring security for up to 300 years.
The Integral Fast Reactor is called “integral” because it would process used reactor fuel on-site, separating plutonium (a weapons explosive) and other long-lived radioactive isotopes from the used fuel, to be fed back into the reactor. It essentially converts long-lived waste into shorter lived waste. This waste would still remain dangerous for a minimum of 200 years (provided it is not contaminated with high level waste products), so we are still left with a waste problem that spans generations. (3)

Climate change. The claim that new nuclear power will solve climate change is spurious. This ignores life-cycle CO2 emissions

Nuclear energy is not zero carbon.

Emissions from nuclear will increase significantly over the next few decades as high grade ore is depleted, and increasing amounts of fossil fuels are required to access, mine and mill low-grade ore.

To stay below the 2 degrees of global warming that climate scientists widely agree is necessary to avert catastrophic consequences for humans and physical systems, we need to significantly reduce our emissions by 2050, and to do this we need to start this decade. Nuclear is a slow technology:

The “Generation IV” demonstration plants projected for 2030-2040 will be too late, and there is no guarantee the pilots will be successful.

Nuclear Economics. For “a time when significant expansion in nuclear power production is underway” – this is a laughable falsehood. In reality, nuclear power economics are in a state of crisis, most notably in America, but it is a world-wide slowdown. (4)

The vagueness of the Generation IV International Forum (GIF) agreement is a worry. Australia is to formally commit to participate in the development of one or more Generation IV systems selected by GIF for further R&D.  Surely Australia is not going to sign up to this, without any detail on what kind of research, what kind of reactor, what amount of funding we would be committing to the GIF.

And all this without any public discussion!

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/apr/11/toshiba-losses-uk-moorside-nuclear-plant-westinghouse
  2.  https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603731/nuclear-energy- startup-transatomic-backtracks-on-key-promises/
  3. https://skeptoid.com/episodes/4555
  4.  http://reneweconomy.com.au/nuclear-industry-crisis-29735/

May 17, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

UK National Grid halts plan for Moorside nuclear plant connection

Utility Week 15th May 2017, National Grid hits pause on Moorside connection. Plans shelved for “biggest new power line since electricity network was built”. Plans to build a 102-mile power line connecting the proposed Moorside nuclear plant in Cumbria to the transmission network have been placed on hold, National Grid has revealed.

The news comes after developer NuGen confirmed earlier this month that it was conducting a “strategic review of its options” following reports that its main shareholder, Toshiba, may mothball the Moorside project.
http://utilityweek.co.uk/news/National-Grid-hits-pause-on-Moorside-connection/1302702

May 17, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

South Afric a’s formidable anti nuclear women ready to take on the government again

As for the tremendous display of “girl power”, the women are adamant that there are many men that they could not have done it without. There is, however, an immense sense of pride in what they’ve achieved. Let this victory serve as a reminder to anyone who tries to pull the wool over South Africans’ eyes again, that if you strike a woman, you strike a rock
A chat with the ladies who said no to nuclear
Meet the women who stopped the nuclear dealhttp://www.news24.com/Opinions/IN-FOCUS/in-focus-i-meet-the-women-who-stopped-the-nuclear-deal-20170508 Alet Janse van Rensburg, Kate Davies. Liz McDaid. Vainola Makan. Siphokazi Pangalele. Lydia Mogane. Makoma Lekalakala. Natasha Adonis.

These are some of the women whose names will go down in history for saving South Africa (for now, at least) from a disastrous nuclear deal with Russia that would’ve cost us trillions and most likely bankrupted the country.

For more than two years they lived and breathed the nuclear deal, getting up while it’s still dark to attend meetings, and going to bed after midnight to organise pickets, protests, public meetings and petitions. None of them would even attempt to calculate how much time went into the effort.

Yet, true to form, none of them wants the credit for the court victory that nullified the nuclear deal. “It was easy. It was easy to identify with because it was about our children’s future and our children’s children’s future,” says Makan (50), an activist from Right to Know (R2K) in Cape Town.

“You want to see your grandchildren live in a world free from these bad things. The legacy you leave for the next generation is what drives you. Maybe women are closer to that, bearing the burden of child birth,” says McDaid (55), spokesperson for the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (Safcei).

Davies (65), founder of Safcei, agrees that although the campaign against the nuclear deal was never meant to be a women’s effort, it certainly was driven by a group of very dedicated women.

“I come from a generation that had a lot of women who were involved in the Black Sash in our lives,” she says. “I myself was a young member of the Black Sash and so that kind of silent protest came naturally to me – something I fear the younger generations don’t know.”

It all started in 2014 when Earthlife Africa uncovered that South Africa signed a deal with Russia that nobody knew about to procure nuclear energy. Earthlife Africa started a legal process with Safcei. Kate started a vigil outside Parliament every Wednesday for when the ministers would arrive.

This vigil only ended last week after the Cape High Court ruled that all nuclear agreements made so far were unlawful and should be set aside.

“For more than two years we stood there every week to speak truth to power. Sometimes there were two people in the wind and rain. Sometimes there were 20 or 50 people. Sometimes it was only Kate. That was about knowing we could win, but that it’s a long haul and that we just had to keep going step by step,” says McDaid.

Initially the focus was on nuclear energy as an environmental issue.

“We were worried about the footprint of different energy types and the impact of high energy prices on the poor. That’s why we started asking how government makes decisions about our energy needs and that’s when we started realising that the decision making processes weren’t happening as they were supposed to,” says McDaid.

“When you look at the CSIR and the research that has been done, it’s very clear that nuclear is not needed for our energy future. So then the question becomes, why are we pushing for it? The obvious answer is that there are corrupt forces at play. From there it was a case of following the money.”

As they prepared for the court case, they started working with other organisations such as R2K, Open Democracy, Section27 and the trade unions. They held a coalition meeting at Community House in Cape Town and more than 20 organisations showed up to find out how they could help. R2K came on board, and started to roll out mass actions, attending parliamentary meetings, organising marches to Parliament and distributing pamphlets and petitions.

“They say when you have faith in little you can be trusted with much. It was only a few of us who stood in Parliament to fight for the cause, but when the 60 000 came, we were confident that we could handle it and we had faith in our message,” says Makan.

They also realised early on that they would need the public to buy into the process and needed a media expert, so they roped in the expertise of Adonis (41), who runs her own PR firm in Cape Town.

“I wasn’t interested in the nuclear deal or anything before I came on board,” she says. “I think one of the core problems was that it was out there, but people weren’t paying attention. So we had to get the average South African – who was me – to notice the campaign.”

When they heard they won the case last Friday (with costs!), they were ecstatic.

“The process was vindicated. The legal process was won and we had the hearts and the minds of the people behind us. In the lead up with the firing of Pravin Gordhan we had people in the streets and with Ahmed Kathrada’s memorial nuclear was a central theme. So legally, politically and in terms of the minds of people we were vindicated,” says Makan.

“We know that they’re still not going to do things on a moral basis. But politically, because of the balance of forces, and because we are going to continue to work against any deal, it will be much harder for them to do a deal with Russia.”

What is clear is that going forward any attempt to go through with the nuclear deal will have to include a public participation process and now that the public is thoroughly informed, it will be much harder for them to push the deal through.

According to Earthlife Africa’s Makoma Lekalakala, while the court victory was expected, it only ruled on the unlawful procedure followed to procure nuclear and not the actual issue of nuclear energy. That is something that will have to be addressed going forward.

“We are for a greater investment in renewable energy, as it’s much cheaper and cleaner for the environment,” she says.

The others agree.

“We will have to educate the public. Going forward we will continue to encourage South Africans to be active citizens. It doesn’t matter if you’re a cleaner at a factory, or a street sweeper or a CEO, you have the right to say something about how things are being done in your country. The Constitution gives you that right,” says Adonis.

And while the victory in court was a major achievement for the team, it was a victory for every South African citizen.

“This judgement shows you that you can win and that you can make a difference and that the country will not be sold to the highest bidder. The people can govern,” says McDaid.

As for the tremendous display of “girl power”, the women are adamant that there are many men that they could not have done it without. There is, however, an immense sense of pride in what they’ve achieved. Let this victory serve as a reminder to anyone who tries to pull the wool over South Africans’ eyes again, that if you strike a woman, you strike a rock

May 15, 2017 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, PERSONAL STORIES, politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Jeremy Corbyn on need to protect Britain by using diplomacy and defusing tensions around the world

Jeremy Corbyn Explains Why He Can’t Envisage Using Nuclear Weapons, HuffPost UK, 14 May 17, May’s closeness to Trump is the real ‘coalition of risk and insecurity’
Jeremy Corbyn has signalled he can’t envisage ever using nuclear weapons because to do so would mean the world had already suffered a “cataclysmic failure”.

The Labour leader said that nuclear warfare would mean “the indiscriminate killing of millions of people” and risk long-lasting radiation that would wipe out all life across much of the planet.

In a keynote speech on defence and security at the Chatham House think tank, Corbyn stressed that his “first duty” would be to protect Britain by using diplomacy and defusing tensions around the world.

He also said that the UK’s Trident nuclear deterrent would be renewed by Labour and then placed into a strategic defence review to look at new, long-term threats such as cyber warfare.

Corbyn also said that he wouldn’t “take any lectures” from the Tories on humanitarian intervention after the Thatcher government refused to apply sanctions on South Africa in the wake of apartheid shootings of children in Soweto.

And he claimed that the Conservatives were the party putting Britons in danger as “Theresa May seeks to build a coalition of risk and insecurity with Donald Trump”.

A Labour government would “step back, learn the lessons of the past and find new ways to solve and prevent conflicts”, he said.

And it would seek to build cooperation with China and India, unlike the Prime Minister, who in January said that the two Eastern giants were threatening to ‘eclipse’ the West in military terms.

Corbyn, a long-time advocate of unilateral nuclear disarmament, said earlier this year that his instructions in any nuclear conflict would be to “follow orders when given”, rather than writing a letter automatically granting prior authority to fire off missiles.

May 15, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

South African government still determined to sign new nuclear power agreements

South Africa to Sign New Nuclear Power Pacts After Court Ruling https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2017-05-13/south-africa-wont-appeal-judgment-blocking-nuclear-power-deal May 13, 2017, JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa plans to sign new, more transparent nuclear power agreements with five foreign countries after a high court blocked a deal with Russia due to a lack of oversight, the energy ministry said on Saturday.

South Africa signed intergovernmental agreements with Russia, France, China, South Korea and the United States in 2014 as part of plans to build a fleet of nuclear power plants at a cost of between $30 billion and $70 billion.

Many investors view the scale of the nuclear plan as unaffordable and a major risk to South Africa’s financial stability, while opponents of President Jacob Zuma say the deal will be used as a conduit for corruption. Zuma denies allegations of wrongdoing.

State energy firm Eskom says nuclear power should play a role in South Africa’s energy mix and will help reduce reliance on coal.

The Western Cape High Court found last month that the agreement with Russia lacked transparency and offered Moscow favorable tax rules while placing heavy financial obligations on South Africa. The energy ministry said it had “major concerns” about the court judgment but would not appeal the ruling. It will continue with nuclear energy plans adhering to stricter procedural guidelines, including consulting parliament.

“There is no intention to table the current agreements but (we) will embark to sign new agreements with all five countries and table them within reasonable time to parliament,” the ministry said in a statement.

Eskom on Friday reinstated its former chief executive Brian Molefe, a Zuma ally who has supported the nuclear power plan.

Molefe stepped down five months ago after being implicated in a report by the country’s anti-graft watchdog into alleged influence-peddling. He denied any wrongdoing.

 Some analysts say former finance minister Pravin Gordhan was fired partly because he resisted pressures from a political faction allied to Zuma to back nuclear expansion.

New Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has said nuclear expansion will only be pursued if it is affordable. (Reporting by Joe Brock; Editing by Mark Potter)

May 15, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment