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Nationalise the UK nuclear industry- the only way to save it – says Hitachi chairman

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January 24, 2019 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

UK CAN meet its climate goals without the Wylfa nuclear plant

Q&A: Can the UK meet its climate goals without the Wylfa nuclear plant? 

Carbon Brief, 21 January 2019   “……. recent analysis from the government’s official advisers the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) shows the UK could meet its power demand and climate goals to 2030 at low cost, without any new nuclear beyond the Hinkley C scheme already being built in Somerset.

This new analysis reflects the dramatic cost reductions seen for renewables in recent years. Greg Clark, the UK’s secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS), made a similar point last week as he spoke in parliament about the failed Wylfa deal. He told MPs:

“The economics of the energy market have changed significantly in recent years. The cost of renewable technologies such as offshore wind has fallen dramatically…The challenge of financing new nuclear is one of falling costs and greater abundance of alternative technologies, which means that nuclear is being outcompeted.”……….

The CCC’s “central renewables” and “high renewables” scenarios meet the 2030 carbon target without new nuclear beyond Hinkley C. In these scenarios, nuclear generation in 2030 is 35TWh – the estimated output of Hinkley C plus Sizewell B, each running for 90% of available hours……….

 each of the 2030 scenarios supplies enough electricity to meet projected demand, meaning the lights would not “go out”. Gas would still supply 20-25% of electricity, most of which would be used to cover peak demand during winter or to fill gaps in variable renewable output.

The CCC scenarios out to 2030 all massively expand renewables, whether or not additional new nuclear plants get built. The renewable share of the mix increases from 33% in 2018 to at least 58% in 2030. Nuclear’s share falls from 18% in 2018 to between 10% and 17% in 2030. At the low end, where no new nuclear is added after Hinkley C, it is renewables that make up the gap.

[The CCC says: “We do not consider [the BEIS 2030] pathway credible.” This pathway sees nuclear’s share hold steady, though, as BEIS notes, this is “not based on [nuclear] developers’ proposed pipeline”. BEIS also assumes imports via electricity interconnectors reach 21% of the total while the CCC assumes net-zero imports, with interconnectors helping balance supply and demand.]

The CCC says expanding wind and solar is a “low-regrets” option as renewables are likely to be cheaper than new gas, with similar costs to running existing gas plants or raising imports, even after accounting for the costs of integrating their variable output onto the grid. The CCC adds:

“If new nuclear projects [beyond Hinkley C] were not to come forward, it is likely that renewables would be able to be deployed on shorter timescales and at lower cost.”

Replacing the output of the shelved new nuclear plants at Wylfa, Moorside and Oldbury with renewables would be 13-33% cheaper, including the costs of balancing variable output, according to quickfire analysis from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit.

Note that reductions in per-capita electricity generation have saved the UK the equivalent of four Hinkley Cs of demand since 2005, according to recent Carbon Brief analysis. The CCC assumes continued efficiency improvements to 2030 are offset by demand for electric vehicles and heating. ……https://www.carbonbrief.org/qa-can-the-uk-meet-its-climate-goals-without-the-wylfa-nuclear-plant

January 24, 2019 Posted by | climate change, UK | Leave a comment

For UK it;s now time to double down on wind and solar energy

January 24, 2019 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

A Royal Navy nuclear-powered submarine nearly hit a ferry

Nuclear-powered Royal Navy submarine in near-miss with ferry ITV News 21 Jan 19, A nuclear-powered Royal Navy submarine was involved in a near-miss with a large passenger ferry, it has emerged.

An investigation has been launched into the previously unreported incident, which occurred in the Irish Sea on November 6.

The ferry was Stena Superfast VII, which operates between Northern Ireland and Scotland.

It has a capacity for 1,300 passengers and 660 cars.

The submarine was submerged at the depth needed to extend its periscope above the surface of the water.

The Royal Navy would not confirm which of its 10 submarines was involved. They are all nuclear-powered but only four carry Trident nuclear missiles……… https://www.itv.com/news/2019-01-21/royal-navy-submarine-in-near-miss-with-ferry/

January 22, 2019 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

UK’s nuclear power strategy in a state of collapse

Nuclear strategy in ‘meltdown’ after Wylfa suspension, David Blackman, 21 January 2019, source edie newsroom

The government’s nuclear strategy is in “meltdown” following Hitachi’s announcement that it is halting work on its plans for a new UK atomic power plant in north Wales, Alan Whitehead has said. Labour’s energy spokesperson told the House of Commons yesterday (17 January) that Hitachi’s announcement, which also means a halt of work by the company’s UK nuclear arm Horizon on its other UK project at Oldbury in Gloucestershire, is a “significant blow” to the economy.

He said that the latest move, combined with Toshiba’s decision in November to scrap its plans for a three-reactor plant at Moorside, means that a total of 9.2GW of planned nuclear generation will not be delivered.

Whitehead also accused the government of reacting “far too slowly” to concerns about financing from its potential nuclear partners, including Hitachi’s arm Horizon, adding that government “dithering” had contributed to the axing of Moorside………..

Greg Clark, secretary of state for business and energy said that renewable technologies offer increasingly cost-effective and reliable options compared with nuclear, which is chiefly justified on the grounds that it replaces the baseload generating capacity currently supplied by higher emitting coal and gas plants: “We have also seen a strengthening in the pipeline of projects coming forward, meaning that renewable energy may now be just as cheap, but also readily available.

“In many ways, the challenge of financing new nuclear is one of falling costs and greater abundance of alternative technologies, which means that nuclear is being outcompeted.”

But he said the government remains committed to nuclear through the recently agreed sector deal with the industry, adding that it is considering a proposal from a Rolls-Royce led consortium for a “significant” joint investment in a small modular reactor project.

In addition, he said the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is exploring the regulated asset base model for financing nuclear development, which EDF is keen to see used for its next such project at Sizewell, and will be setting out its proposals for this new approach in an energy white paper that is due to be published in the summer. https://www.edie.net/news/11/Nuclear-strategy-in–meltdown–after-Wylfa-suspension/

January 22, 2019 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

France to replace Fessenheim nuclear plant with solar power project

EU approves France’s plan to replace nuclear plant with 300 MW of PV https://www.pv-magazine.com/2019/01/21/eu-approves-frances-plan-to-replace-nuclear-plant-with-300-mw-of-pv/

The commission said the project selected through the tender will receive a premium tariff under a 20-year contract, and the tender’s budget is approximately €250 million.

“The aid will be granted by the French state and will contribute to the French and European objectives of energy efficiency and energy production from renewable sources, in line with the EU’s environmental objectives, with possible distortions of competition state support being reduced to a minimum,” the commission stated.

The tender was announced by the French government in April. In July, France’s Directorate General for Energy and Climate – part of the Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition – revealed details of the tendering scheme. According to that announcement, 200 MW of the tendered capacity will be for ground-mounted PV ranging in size from 500 kW up to 30 MW, with the remaining 100 MW accounted for by rooftop projects larger than 8 MW in scale.

Potential tariffs estimated

The tender was to be implemented in three phases, starting late last year and continuing in the middle and latter stages of this year, and was set to comprise three groups of installations: the ground-mounted PV; rooftop systems on buildings, greenhouses, carports or agricultural buildings with an output of 500 kW to 8 MW; and rooftops with a capacity of 100-500 kW.

Projects selected among the first two categories will be entitled to a premium feed-in tariff while installations of the third and smallest category will have access to a regular FIT. The premium tariff for ground-mounted PV is expected to be €50-70/MWh, and that for larger rooftops €70-100/MWh. Smaller rooftop projects are expected to be granted €80-110/MWh.

The 40-year-old Fessenheim nuclear site, in the Haut-Rhin department of Alsace in northeastern France, is set to be decommissioned by next year. The plant has seen more than one temporary shutdown due to safety issues. One of the most high-profile issues occurred in April 2014, when Reactor 1 was shuttered. The French Nuclear Safety Authority reported at the time that internal flooding in the non-nuclear part of the reactor had damaged safety electrical systems. After being repaired, the reactor was reconnected to the grid in May the same year.

January 22, 2019 Posted by | France, renewable | Leave a comment

Advantages of cross-border energy interconnection between UK and Europe

Green Alliance: UK must look to EU interconnection amid ‘crumbling’ nuclear plans, Business Green, Michael Holder, 21 January 2019

  “……… New analysis by the environmental think tank highlights myriad benefits for the UK from trade in electricity with European countries, but warns leaving the EU – particularly under a ‘no-deal’ scenario – threatens to undermine opportunities to enhance cross-border interconnection.

Published on Friday, the analysis shows that a mix of increased electricity interconnection with the EU in addition to installing more renewable energy in the UK would help to keep consumer bills down, boost access to and trade in clean power, and also maintain energy security, in the face of on-going struggles to deliver planned new nuclear projects.

It follows Japanese firm Hitachi’s announcement last week that it has halted construction of the £16bn Wylfa nuclear project in Wales after failing to agree a funding support package with the government. Hitachi’s plans for another nuclear plant in Gloucestershire have also been shelved.

Green Alliance said trading power across borders with Europe could help reduce energy sector emissions in the short term without the need to build more capacity, and that interconnection could also help provide instant back up power when needed at peak times.

It also highlights the economic benefits of interconnection, with cross border trading delivering a combined value of £700m to UK markets in 2017, according to Friday’s analysis.

However, leaving the EU without a deal could cost the UK as much as £2.2bn per year at the current level of interconnection, the think tank warned.

Similar research by climate think tank E3G recently argued the merits of the UK maintaining membership of the EU internal energy market in order to fully realise the cost and carbon benefits of electricity interconnection with Europe.

At present, the UK is one of the least interconnected countries in Europe, and it therefore has the most to gain from improving its power connections with the rest of the continent, argued Chaitanya Kumar, senior policy adviser at Green Alliance……….

In the short term, Kumar suggested boosting interconnection could help strengthen the case for scaling up UK renewables capacity, and that negotiating continued participation in the EU’s internal energy market should therefore be a crucial part of the UK’s future relationship with the EU, particularly as the government’s nuclear energy plans “are crumbling”.

“Instead of doubling down on subsidised, expensive nuclear, the government should now be focusing on building cheaper alternatives in more renewables and electricity interconnection with Europe,” he said. “The UK’s climate ambitions are not under any immediate threat from the failed nuclear plans, but that can only be guaranteed if the existing alternatives are scaled up.”

The report follows news last week that plans for a new interconnector between Peterhead and the Norway took a step forward, after securing planning permission from Aberdeenshire Council.

The North Connect transmission link would see a 415-mile cable link Peterhead with the Norwegian Coast, providing up to 1.4GW of power between the two countries from 2023.

A number of similar projects are in the pipeline, but experts fear their prospects are largely dependent on the UK securing a Brexit agreement with the EU that allows for streamlined energy trading – something that is not guaranteed under a ‘no deal’ scenario. https://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/3069586/green-alliance-uk-must-look-to-eu-interconnection-amid-crumbling-nuclear-plans

January 22, 2019 Posted by | ENERGY, EUROPE, politics international | Leave a comment

Soviet Union’s secret nuclear weapons bunkers in Poland

Secret Soviet Bunkers in Poland Hid Nuclear Weapons, Live Science, By Mindy Weisberger, Senior Writer | January 21, 2019 In the 1960s, the Soviet Union built massive bunkers in Poland. These bunkers didn’t appear on maps, and were carefully concealed to be invisible to spies from the air.

But now, these long-abandoned buildings are revealing some of the secrets of Russian military strategy during the Cold War.

Soviet documents from that time period described the sites as communications centers, though the buildings vanished from official records soon after they were built. Indeed, at the time, the Soviet Union denied having nuclear weapons cached anywhere in Poland.

But researchers are finally taking up the investigation of these secret sites, and uncovered the bunkers’ primary purpose: storehouses for nuclear weapons. [In Photos: Soviets Hid Nuclear Bunkers in Poland’s Forests]

Archaeologist Grzegorz Kiarszys, an adjunct professor at the Institute of History and International Relations in Poland, has conducted the first in-depth exploration of three of these nuclear warhead storage facilities. By delving into archives of declassified satellite images and analyzing building scans, Kiarszys is piecing together the role that these secret sites played on the global chessboard, at a time when the threat of nuclear war between the world’s biggest superpowers was all too real.

His findings were published online today (Jan. 21) in First View, a preview of the journal Antiquity‘s February 2019 issue.

Tactical storage

For the study, Kiarszys looked at three abandoned top-secret facilities that stored nuclear weapons and housed military personnel:…….. https://www.livescience.com/64553-soviet-nuclear-bunkers-poland.html

January 22, 2019 Posted by | EUROPE, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Switzerland’s nuclear meltdown in 1969

Historic nuclear accident dashed Swiss atomic dreams  https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/radioactive_historic-nuclear-accident-dashed-swiss-atomic-dreams/44696398  JAN 21, 2019 

Fifty years ago today, a nuclear meltdown occurred in Switzerland’s first experimental nuclear power station. Built in an underground chamber in Lucens in the western part of the country, it was the site of the worst nuclear accident in Swiss history.

The plant was opened in 1962, with the aim of not only producing energy, but also allowing Switzerland to develop a reactor bearing the “Made in Switzerland” label and enabling experiments with nuclear energy.

But these plans were pushed aside when disaster struck in the plant’s reactor cavity on January 21, 1969. A pressure tube burst which created a power surge leading to the reactor malfunctioning and an explosion. Luckily, a member of staff who was scheduled to be working on the reactor at the time was found safe and sound elsewhere. The plant’s underground design also prevented people and the environment from being harmed.

The accident’s severity registered at 5 out of a possible 7. The concentration of leaked cooling gas that was behind the door of the reactor cavity was lethal. It wasn’t even possible to measure the radioactivity because it was above the maximum level on the measuring instruments.

But the reactor cavern was not completely sealed: the radioactivity spread to the control room 100 metres away. In the machine cavern closest to the reactor, a team involved in shutting down the turbine had been exposed to radiation. A witness report said that since the decontamination showers had been out of order, the workers had to shower in a temporary facility without hot water.

The government ordered an inquiry into the incident and a report was eventually published ten years later. The Swiss Association for Atomic Energy found there had been no major negligence on the part of the plant’s managers. The cause of the incident was corrosion in a pressure tube, brought about by humidity.

January 22, 2019 Posted by | history, incidents, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Rolls Royce involvement in Bradwell nuclear project is supposed to allay concerns about Chinese control

January 22, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

A dose of nuclear financial realism – is badly needed in Britain

Britain badly needs a dose of nuclear realism. If it remains a strategic necessity, the UK must find a way to win more bang for its buck, Ft.com ,   , 21 Jan 19

One thing British politicians have never lacked when making nuclear policy is optimism. When it comes to atomic energy, they leave Dr Pangloss in the shade. Take the last big nuclear programme back in the 1960s, whose purpose was to meet a fifth of the UK’s electricity needs. Rather than using proven (if US made) reactor technology, the government bet instead on a homegrown gas-cooled type. The minister of power, Fred Lee, confidently predicted the experimental design would be a world beater. Britain had “hit the jackpot”, he declared. The UK certainly hit something. But it wasn’t pay dirt. The AGR programme dragged on for more than two decades and was, in the words of the man who commissioned it, Arthur Hawkins of the Central Electricity Generating Board, “a catastrophe that must not be repeated”.  ………
 Once again, there is plenty of wishful thinking. Indeed, policy has been driven largely by a series of optimistic guesses. These include not just the cost of new reactors, but also the willingness of private capital to fund them without assistance from the state.  …….
again there are multiple reactor types. Repurposing often almost untested equipment for UK safety rules means that each starts from scratch with its own prototype, learning as it goes along. Add the need to fund these “first of type” schemes with private capital and it’s not surprising that projects have been falling by the wayside. Toshiba pulled out in November and, last week, Hitachi shelved plans to install its boiling water reactor technology at a promising site in Anglesey, having spent £2bn just getting to the start line.
The result is that a decade in, Britain has just one project under way — at Hinkley Point in Somerset — for which the government has struck an eye-wateringly expensive contract. The owner, EDF of France, is now saying it could do subsequent projects cheaper, because it will have the Hinkley experience to draw on. But given the absence of competition (the only other participant left in is CGN of China, EDF’s partner at Hinkley), the government faces the unpalatable prospect of a series of potentially disadvantageous bilateral deals. The UK originally set a target of about 18GW of electricity coming from nuclear by the 2030s. This has since been reduced to about 12GW. With only Hinkley and an ageing Sizewell B likely to be in operation, just 4.4GW of that target is likely to be met.  ……….
Removing complexity (and wishful thinking) doesn’t come without cost. The government would have to acquire the necessary sites and assist bidders to get them to the start line. (Abu Dhabi cut some corners the UK might balk at, such as accepting the supplier’s home country safety accreditation). It means the government acting as owner, committing to fund construction itself rather than going through complex contortions to attract just a sliver of risk-bearing equity. There may not be the political willpower.
 Of course, Britain does not have to go ahead with nuclear. It can run the risk of relying on other zero-carbon technologies, such as renewables, and other countries by building interconnectors. It can legislate to change the carbon targets it has set itself. But if nuclear power remains a strategic necessity, the UK needs a realistic programme to meet it. Otherwise the country will end up building vanishingly little new capacity, and doing so only at extortionate cost.  https://www.ft.com/content/5bc23eec-1caa-11e9-b2f7-97e4dbd3580d

January 22, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Further tests to be made on Flamanville nuclear reactor’s faulty weldings

Reuters 21st Jan 2019 French state-owned power company EDF said it would make further tests next
month on faulty weldings at its Flamanville nuclear reactor plant, which
has been plagued by technical problems. “EDF actively continues to
implement the action plan on welds of the main secondary system announced
on 25 July 2018. The ‘hot tests’ are now scheduled to commence during
the second half of February,” EDF said in a statement. EDF said it would
keep the targeted construction costs for Flamanville at 10.9 billion euros
($12.4 billion).
https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-edf-flamanville/french-utility-edf-to-make-further-tests-on-faulty-flamanville-weldings-idUKKCN1PF0JB?rpc=401&

January 22, 2019 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

Orkney islands produce more electricity from wind and waves than they can use

Observer 20th Jan 2019 A tech revolution – and an abundance of wind and waves – mean that the people of Orkney now produce more electricity than they can use. It seems the stuff of fantasy. Giant ships sail the seas burning fuel that has been extracted from water using energy provided by the winds, waves and tides. A dramatic but implausible notion, surely.

Yet this grand green vision could soon be realised thanks to a remarkable technological transformation that is now under way in Orkney. Perched 10 miles beyond the northern edge of
the British mainland, this archipelago of around 20 populated islands – as well as a smattering of uninhabited reefs and islets – has become the centre of a revolution in the way electricity is generated.

Orkney was once utterly dependent on power that was produced by burning coal and gas on the Scottish mainland and then transmitted through an undersea cable. Today the islands are so festooned with wind turbines, they cannot find enough uses for the emission-free power they create on their own. Community-owned wind turbines generate power for local villages; islanders drive non-polluting cars that run on electricity; devices that can turn the energy of the waves and the tides into electricity are being tested in the islands’ waters and seabed; and – in the near future – car and passenger ferries here will be fuelled not by diesel but by hydrogen, created from water that has been electrolysed using power from Orkney’s wind, wave and
tide generators.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jan/20/orkney-northern-powerhouse-electricity-wind-waves-surplus-power-

January 22, 2019 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

Rolls-Royce vies for UK nuclear role

 https://www.bbc.com/news/business-46950292

Rolls-Royce has confirmed it is in talks with Chinese state-run firm China General Nuclear (CGN) over providing essential systems for a new power station in the UK.

The UK engineering company makes instrumentation and control systems for nuclear reactors.

The plant will be based at Bradwell, on the River Blackwater in Essex.

The project is one of three new nuclear schemes in this country in which CGN is centrally involved.

Rolls-Royce already has an agreement with CGN’s subsidiary, CTEC, to develop and sell reactor control systems for selected projects in China and on international markets.

Nuclear strategy

The planned new “Bradwell B” power station is a major component of the government’s nuclear strategy. The country’s existing reactors are ageing and all of them are due to shut down by 2035.

The Essex site is already home to an obsolete nuclear power station, which closed in 2002.

Its replacement was one of six new nuclear plants which were lined up in recent years to help meet energy needs in decades to come.

However, three of those projects have since fallen by the wayside.

January 22, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, UK | Leave a comment

Rosatom announces scholarships for Indian students in nuclear energy studies 

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi, 21 Jan 19  Rosatom, the Russian agency for atomic energy, has announced scholarships for Indian students in the arena of nuclear energy, according to a statement on Monday.

January 22, 2019 Posted by | Education, Russia | Leave a comment