The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

South Africa’s govt and nuclear power utility Eskom undermine renewable energy development

Nuclear and coal lobbies threaten to scupper renewables in South Africa The Conversation,  Hartmut Winkler
Professor of Physics, University of Johannesburg June 27, 2017 South African power utility Eskom recently repeated that it will not conclude supply contracts with the developers of new renewable energy power stations. These developers were selected under a programme to facilitate private sector involvement in the building of medium-sized renewable energy power stations.

The programme has won plaudits for its success in facilitating the establishment of multiple solar and wind farms in record time. But Eskom is once again stalling.

The power utility’s stand threatens the viability of the entire renewable energy sector in the country. It’s hostility also defies logic given that the whole world is embracing renewable energy as key to a clean energy future and combating climate change.

So what lies behind the opposition?

The answer lies in the fact that two powerful lobbies are at work in South Africa. One is pro-coal, the other pro-nuclear. This has made the success of the renewable energy projects a target for attacks from interested parties in both. Disrupting the renewable energy sector would ensure that the coal sector remains dominant. And that, over time, it is gradually displaced by nuclear.

The lobby groups attached to coal and nuclear appear to have had powerful allies on the state utility’s board. There is mounting evidence that they have been furthering the interests of a group linked to the Gupta family. It in turn has been accused of capturing state entities to further its own ends, as well as those of President Jacob Zuma, his family and allies.

t has also been widely argued that the massively expensive proposed nuclear build is being driven by the same interest groups.

The battle over renewables is therefore closely linked to a wider political confrontation over control of key aspects of the South African economy.

Eskom’s flawed argument

The renewables dispute centres on the state utility’s refusal to endorse 1121 MW of new renewable energy….

The Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown has been disingenuous in citing cost as a reason to stop the last phase of renewables. The higher costs she recently quoted were presumably those associated with the first round of renewable energy projects. These contracts were concluded in 2012 and prices for renewables have come down considerably since.

For its part Eskom has pointed to the oversupply of electricity as the reason for its objection. But elsewhere it has trumpeted the need for more nuclear power. It can’t have it both ways.

Powerful forces at play

Until two years ago Eskom was seen as a neutral player committed to effectively provide electric power in the best interests of the country. It threw its weight behind previous power procurement plans.

But that all changed in 2015 after Brian Molefe was appointed CEO.

Molefe and his successor Matshela Koko are both linked to the controversial Gupta family. Their names featured in the Public Protector’s State of Capture report as well as in a bulk leak of emails which implicated the Guptas and other leading figures in the state capture network.

Molefe and Koko played a pivotal role in helping the Guptas purchase a coal mine – the Optimum mine – and to secure a lucrative coal supply contract with Eskom. Both are also strongly pro-nuclear. They have also gone on record to argue that renewable energy is too expensive……

June 28, 2017 Posted by | politics, renewable, secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

American government scientists prevented by Trump govt from attending international nuclear meeting

Trump Administration Blocks Government Scientists from Attending International Meeting on Nuclear Power, 2The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) recently sent a comment letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), recommending several actions aimed at helping prevent nuclear plant shutdowns ….NEI urged FERC to make preserving nuclear plants a fundamental guiding principle and not to interfere with legitimate state public policy goals regarding nuclear energy. …

The letter also recommended that FERC direct RTOs and ISOs to develop mechanisms that provide additional revenues in recognition of nuclear’s attributes such as long-term rate stability, system resiliency and fuel diversity.

While comprehensive, enduring reforms are being developed, the commission should ensure that interim measures are in place to prevent further loss of secure and resilient nuclear generation,” NEI said…..

June 28, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Hinkley Point C nuclear project obsolete already, but would cost £22 billion compensation if it were to be scrapped

Times 27th June 2017,The lesson of the Hinkley Point C saga is not to repeat it. Contractors
started pouring concrete for the Hinkley Point C power station three months
ago and could be still at it in ten years‘ time.

By then, there is a chancethat the economics of energy will have suffered a surprise upheaval making
nuclear power genuinely affordable, but that chance is slim to vanishing.
It is more likely that current trends driving down the cost of renewable
and gas-fired power stations will continue.

Hinkley Point C will meanwhile be vulnerable to the sort of delays and cost-overruns that have plagued
every other reactor so far built to the same design, none of which is yet producing power. If experience is any guide, electricity from Hinkley Point will command more than twice the price of power from other sources,
including low-carbon renewables.

The value of subsidies to honour that “strike price”, which is meant to compensate the contractors for taking on
the risk of the project, will have more than quintupled since being agreed.

Hinkley Point C will create jobs but in a white elephant that will be technologically out of date before being connected to the grid. It is being built in part to keep the lights on without relying on highly polluting coal, but mainly because technology moves faster than bureaucracy. In complex matters politicians tend to rely on bureaucrats’ advice, and many
backed the plan before Theresa May gave her final approval last year.

Not one had the courage to cancel it when it was still possible to do so without exposing taxpayers to the risk of multibillion-pound compensation claims.

Sources close to an internal review of the project under way at EDF, the lead contractor, say that its budget is already edging up towards £20 billion from last year’s £18 billion estimate. Its completion date is now expected to be 2027 rather than 2025. The value to EDF and its Chinese partner of the “contract for difference” agreed in the deal has risen from
£6 billion to £30 billion as the price of gas and renewables, especially solar, has fallen.

The most alarming figure in the NAO report is an estimate of £22 billion that investors in Hinkley Point C could claim in
compensation were it to be scrapped.

June 28, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

South Korea suspending construction of 2 nuclear reactors

S.Korea to suspend construction of 2 nuclear reactors while decides fate,

* Will gather public opinion on the two reactors

* New president wants to address public concern over atomic safety

* Country’s oldest reactor was permanently closed last Monday (Adds detail, background)

SEOUL, June 27 South Korea’s government said on Tuesday it would suspend construction of two partially-completed nuclear reactors while it gathers public opinion on the facilities and decides whether they should be scrapped.

The government said in a statement that it would form a committee that would spend about three months deciding whether or not construction of the plants should continue.

The move comes after the country’s new president, Moon Jae-in, said South Korea would stop building new nuclear power plants and not extend the lifespan of old reactors to address public concerns over atomic safety.

The part-completed Shin Kori No.5 and Shin Kori No.6 are located near the city of Busan, some 300 km (186 miles) southeast of Seoul. They were scheduled to be completed by March 2021 and March 2022 respectively.

If construction was scrapped, potential costs including compensation would be about 2.6 trillion won ($2.3 billion), South Korea’s Office for Government Policy and Coordination said in the statement.

South Korea is currently running 24 nuclear reactors after it permanently closed its oldest nuclear reactor, Kori No.1, last week. Nuclear power generates about one-third of the nation’s electricity

June 28, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Korea | Leave a comment

British tax-payer funding the small nuclear reactor (SMR) gamble

UK funds off-site nuclear module construction project, Power Engineering, 06/27/2017, By Tildy Bayar Engineering firm Cammell Laird has won £200,000 ($255,000) in UK government funding to develop nuclear modules. The company said the funding from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) would go toward a project that aims to work out the best way to build and test large modules at off-site locations before transporting them to nuclear sites for installation.

The Fit for Modules project is supported by the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC), Arup, Fraser Nash and Laing O’Rourke……

“The [UK] nuclear new build programme estimates a potential spend of up to £100bn over 30 years,” he said. “It is therefore imperative that as an industry we make the programme work from a cost and schedule perspective, stripping out waste and any unnecessary expense.”

He added that the project could “lay the foundation blocks for the UK to develop a complete industry specializing in off-site modular build”.

“If we can make a success of building modules for the domestic nuclear sector we can spin that expertise out to export markets as the UK looks to ramp up exports post-Brexit.”

In March the firm announced a partnership with the Nuclear AMRC to open a development centre for modular manufacturing methods for new-build reactors of all sizes, drawing on “a host of innovative technologies to significantly reduce costs and lead times for nuclear new build”.

June 28, 2017 Posted by | politics, technology, UK | Leave a comment

Local communities not included in process for cleaning up Russia’s Andreeva Bay nuclear dump

«Nuclear waste at Andreeva Bay affects us», says Norwegian border town mayor

Norway spends hundreds of millions on nuclear clean-up at Russia’s dump site located near the two countries’ border. But local Norwegian authorities are not taken aboard in the process. Barents Observer, By Atle StaalesenJune 27, 2017 

«Just 50 km from here there are thousands of spent nuclear fuel elements,» says Kirkenes town Mayor Rune Rafaelsen.

His municipality has 196 km of border with Russia, and it is just a short ride from the Kirkenes town hall to the Andreeva Bay, the major Russian dump site for spent nuclear fuel.

«If something happens in Andreeva, we would be among the first to feel the consequences», Rafaelsen says to the Barents Observer.

The town mayor underlines that local representatives should have been part of the Norwegian government delegation visiting the dump site today.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende travels with a major delegation of government officials and experts. But there are no local representatives included.

Minister Brende is on site to mark the first shipment of spent nuclear fuel out of the old rundown storage site. We should have been invited to take part in the delegation», Mayor Rafaelsen says. «We should have taken for granted that national authorities involve local expertise in the process».

According to the local mayor, Kirkenes has its own carefully elaborated preparedness plans for cases of nuclear accidents on the Russian side of the border. And there is solid local expertise, he argues……

The Andreeva Bay storage site holds as much as 22 thousand spent nuclear fuel elements, all of it a legacy of Soviet-era policy. It is located in the Litsa fjord on the Russian Barents Sea coast.

Since the 1990s, the site has attracted huge international attention since most waste were stored in poor conditions, partly outdoor. Norwegian authorities have alone granted millions in aid to secure and clean up the site.

The first containers with the highly radioactive uranium fuel elements are this week due to be shipped from Andreeva, along the coast of the Kola Peninsula to Atomflot base in Murmansk and from there further by train for reprocessing in Mayak in the South Urals.

June 28, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear Energy Institute lobbies USA govt to prop up failing nuclear industry

Nuclear Energy Institute urges FERC to take action to prevent nuclear plant closures June 27, 2017 by Daily Energy Insider Reports The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) recently sent a comment letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), recommending several actions aimed at helping prevent nuclear plant shutdowns….NEI urged FERC to make preserving nuclear plants a fundamental guiding principle and not to interfere with legitimate state public policy goals regarding nuclear energy. …

The letter also recommended that FERC direct RTOs and ISOs to develop mechanisms that provide additional revenues in recognition of nuclear’s attributes such as long-term rate stability, system resiliency and fuel diversity.

While comprehensive, enduring reforms are being developed, the commission should ensure that interim measures are in place to prevent further loss of secure and resilient nuclear generation,” NEI said…..

June 28, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Taiwan govt yet to make a decision on costly mothballed fourth nuclear power plant

No plan yet on mothballed nuclear plant debts: Cabinet 2017/06/27 Taipei, June 27 (CNA) The government has yet to reach a conclusion about how to deal with Taiwan’s mothballed fourth nuclear power plant or the debts it incurred, said Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) on Tuesday.

While the government remains committed to phasing out nuclear energy and will not open the fourth nuclear power plant, what to do with it has yet to be decided, he said…..

June 28, 2017 Posted by | politics, Taiwan | Leave a comment

Britain’s Hinkley Point nuclear project to cost billions more than was forecast

Nuclear plant to cost consumers ‘billions more’ News 24 24 June 17 London – A highly-controversial UK government deal for the new Hinkley Point nuclear power plant will cost British energy consumers billions more pounds than forecast, the country’s National Audit Office said on Friday.

“The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s deal for Hinkley Point C has locked consumers into a risky and expensive project with uncertain strategic and economic benefits,” the NAO said in a report.

Under the project, UK energy users will have sums added to their bills for a period of 35 years.

The NAO said the combined cost of such payments is set to surge to $38bn.

 “Delays have pushed back the nuclear power plant’s construction, and the expected cost of top-up payments under the Hinkley Point C’s contract… has increased $38bn,” the report said……

The contract for a French-Chinese consortium to build Britain’s first nuclear plant in a generation was signed in September after a string of controversies threatened to scupper the huge deal.

China’s involvement

The British government had delayed agreement over concerns about China’s involvement, while there were also questions about how the French state-owned power giant EDF would fund the construction of Hinkley Point.

But Britain finally gave the go-ahead last September for the complex, which is expected to provide seven percent of the country’s power needs. Beijing’s state-run China General Nuclear Corporation is set to finance £6bn of the cost of the Hinkley Point plant, with French state-owned power giant EDF providing the remaining £12bn.

Critics have focused on an electricity price guarantee to be paid to EDF of £92.5 for every megawatt hour of power produced by Hinkley for the next 35 years, rising with inflation, despite falling energy prices…….

June 26, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

The Fight Against Hinkley Nuclear Isn’t Over – UK Greens

Green Party 23rd June 2017,Lucas: “Consumers and taxpayers are going to be ripped off by this absurd
project” Caroline Lucas, the co-leader of the Green Party, has responded to
a report by the National Audit Office on Hinkley Power Station.

The report says that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s
deal for Hinkley Point C has locked consumers into a ‘risky and expensive
project’ with uncertain strategic and economic benefits. The multibillion
pound project at Hinkley is currently supported by both Labour and the
Coservatives, but opposition to the plans is expected to grow as the costs

Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the Green Party, said: “The National
Audit Office’s damning report confirms what many of us have been saying
for a long time: the Hinkley deal is overpriced and risky. Not only are
consumers and taxpayers going to be ripped off by this absurd project but
it will also divert resources away from building the clean energy
infrastructure we need, and threaten our climate change targets because of
the snail’s pace at which it will be built.

“The fight against Hinkley isn’t over – and we will be joining campaigners in continuing to
highlight the major shortcomings of this project. This is a crossroads for
Britain – and the signing of this deal has seen us swerve down the wrong
path. By reversing this decision we can put the resources needed into
building a decentralized energy system where Britain puts to use its most
abundant resources: the sun, sea and wind.”

June 26, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Healthy masculinity requires a healthy environment

Masculinity and the Environment: A Double-edged Sword, Trump, populist masculinity, and the Paris Agreement., The Good Men Project ,June 23, 2017 by Joseph Gelfer , Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement, with its disastrous consequences for our collective future, has been met with dismay by politicians and citizens from around the world. Of course, this decision comes as no surprise, not just because of his previous signaling on the matter, but because resistance to environmental concerns is a key value of the type of populist masculinity that underpins his presidency.

The connection between Trump-like masculinity and its perception of the environment is well known. A 2011 study in the journal Global Environmental Change shows that “conservative white males are significantly more likely than are other Americans to endorse denialist views.” The cast of populist masculinity celebrities that support Trump has also been keen to embody this view. For example, Alex Jones’ publication Infowars ran numerous articles such as Globalist Cucks Triggered After Trump Puts America Before Paris Agreement. The masculinity element is not just implicit here, but explicit, with the use of the emasculating term “cuck” and the fact that the article was illustrated with a picture of Trump giving a hand gesture indicating that someone has a tiny penis. Breitbart and other publications that platform populist masculinity views ran similar articles. Elsewhere, the likes of Paul Joseph Watson and Milo Yiannopoulos have thrown their weight behind Trump on this issue, as well as Mike Cernovich, who upped the muscular ante by asking, “How do these people know so much about climate change? These people can’t even lift, bro!”

While there is a danger of blaming everything on masculinity and being distracted from bigger geo-political culprits, it is fair to say that masculinity has a damaging effect on the environment. It’s not just Trump and the populist masculinity celebrities. More generally, stereotypical masculine values work against sustainability, whether it be violence, domination and exploitation of people and natural resources, or even connecting lifestyle choices such as eating less meat with being unmanly. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Stereotypical Masculinity for the Environment

There are also men in the public eye who look stereotypically masculine but who are working towards a more sustainable future. Soon after the withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, the exemplar of muscularity Arnold Schwarzenegger made an appeal to Trump to think again, using the logic not of tree-huggers, but job-creators. While Schwarzenegger may not have been an ideal governor for California, he did at least do his bit for standing up for the environment, and he did it with a certain masculine clout such as his famous facebook post, “I don’t give a **** if we agree about climate change.”

In a similar way, we can point to Elon Musk who stepped down from Trump’s advisory councils after the Paris announcement. Musk makes his money in some of the most stereotypically masculine things on the planet: sleek cars and phallic rockets. Yet at the same time it is arguable that between championing electric cars at Tesla, green energy at SolarCity and ultimately interplanetary existence with SpaceX, Musk is doing more for our sustainability as a species than any other business person alive.

We can look at Leonardo DiCaprio whose playboy lifestyle, complete with a penchant for supermodels, is the epitome of a certain type of stereotypical masculinity. But his environmental activism over the years has turned countless people on to this issue, and far outweighs the private-jet-hypocrisy snipes gleefully made by populist masculinists such as Paul Joseph Watson. And there are countless other men, both in the public eye and in private life, who may look in some ways like standard masculine climate change deniers, but whose values and behavior say something altogether different.

Both Remedy and Poison…..

ecofeminism should [not] be discarded, rather complemented. In short, the environment needs to be turned into a “men’s issue.” Conservatives do not have a monopoly when it comes to masculinity and the environment. The binary between women tending towards environmental protection and men tending towards environmental destruction is false, in exactly the same way as the binary between femininity and masculinity is false.

 The message needs to be clear: healthy masculinity requires a healthy environment. This does not even necessitate moving outside of the frame of stereotypical masculinity. Ensuring a healthy environment is logical as it secures existential survival; it means the environment must be protected and requires strength. Men need to champion this issue as if their lives and those of their families depended on it: because they do.

June 26, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, psychology and culture | Leave a comment

Britain’s Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) in a panic about UK leaving Euratom, as part of Brexit

Britain’s Brexit plan will plunge its nuclear power plants, cancer
treatment centres and leading research facilities into chaos within two
years, according to a secret government assessment.

Times 26th June 2017, The UK plans to pull out of Euratom, Europe’s nuclear body, at the same time as it leaves the EU
in 2019. A bill to replace European safeguards with a British system of
oversight was published in last week’s Queen’s Speech.

However, experts say that this would not match the regime provided by the EU body, meaning that
plants, research facilities and hospitals may be unable to import
radioactive material after Brexit. Officials from the Department for
Business, Enterprise and Industrial Strategy have warned that it will take
seven years to replace the current set of agreements, The Times has been

The delay would partly be caused by the fact that work on new
international treaties, for example with the US and Japan, cannot start
until new inspections standards are approved. Ministers have suggested
that, as with financial regulations, there could be a transition period
after Brexit to allow a new regime to be put in place, but experts say that
the complexity of the task is still not sufficiently realised.

The Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) will today step up calls for David Davis, the
Brexit secretary, to consider asking for Britain to remain an associate
member of Euratom instead. That option will worry some Tory MPs, because
some lawyers believe that it would require oversight by the European Court
of Justice or even for Britain to continue to take part in elections to the
European parliament. Tom Greatrex, the NIA chief executive, said the plans
did not “come anywhere close” to matching the scale of the problem.

June 26, 2017 Posted by | politics, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

R1 trillion nuclear power project still happening, says South African President Jacob Zuma

Zuma: The Nuclear Deal Is Still Happening, Folks He says nuclear power stations will eventually bring the country profits once they are built. Huff Post, Amil Umraw, Politics Reporter  23/06/2017 South Africa’s controversial nuclear build programme is still very much on the cards.

In his responses to parliamentary questions on Thursday, President Jacob Zuma said government still intends to pursue the acquisition of nuclear power stations at a “pace and scale” that the country can afford…..

He denied that the deal is going to push the agenda of any country, especially Russia.

However, Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi reportedly told a delegation at a nuclear conference in Moscow on Wednesday that the deal would be awarded to the “most experienced people who have a track record”.

Kubayi reportedly met Russian Energy minister Alexander Novak and Rosatom head Alexei Likhachev during her visit. Rosatom is a Russian state company believed to be the strongest contender for the award of the nuclear contract.

The nuclear build programme was dealt a blow by the Cape Town High Court after Earthlife Africa and the Southern Africa Faith-Communities’ Environmental Institute successfully challenged the way in which the state determined the country’s nuclear power needs. The plan would have seen South Africa purchasing 9 600 megawatts of extra nuclear power.

The programme is expected to cost the country around R1 trillion.

June 24, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Should British tax-payers cough up for both Hinkley and Wylfa nuclear power boondoggles?

FT 23rd June 2017, NAO said the government should have at least considered sharing the construction risk at Hinkley to lower the cost for consumers. This conclusion will add to debate in Whitehall over whether the government should contribute to financing other planned nuclear plants, including one planned by Hitachi of Japan at Wylfa in Anglesey.

Talks have been held between the UK and Japanese governments about making Wylfa a public-private partnership, according to people briefed on the matter. This would reduce costs for consumers compared with Hinkley but expose taxpayers to more risk.

June 24, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Energy Secretary Perry quickly backtracks on statement about Yucca nuclear waste dump plan

Perry says no decision made on interim nuclear waste storage in Nevada, Las Vegas Review Journal  June 21, 2017  WASHINGTON — Energy Secretary Rick Perry clarified a previous statement on interim nuclear waste storage, telling a Senate subcommittee Wednesday that no decisions have been made on temporary sites for spent fuel in Texas, New Mexico or Nevada.

Private companies in New Mexico and Texas have submitted applications to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to store nuclear waste on an interim basis.

Perry created a firestorm Tuesday when he suggested to the House Appropriations subcommittee on energy that the Nevada National Security Site could store waste temporarily.

The suggestion brought an avalanche of criticism from Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and members of the state’s congressional delegation who called the proposal ill-conceived and likely illegal because of restrictions involving the former nuclear test site northwest of Las Vegas.

Before the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on energy, Perry clarified the statement to note that no decision has been made on interim storage and that any such plan would require coordination with Congress.

“I think it is appropriate to say, there are no plans at this particular time for interim storage in New Mexico, Nevada or Texas or any other site,” Perry said…..

June 23, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment