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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

ICAN calls on Nobel Foundation to cease indirect nuclear arms investments

TRANSPARENCY CALL Nobel Foundation accused of indirect nuclear arms investments https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/transparency-call_nobel-foundation-accused-of-indirect-nuclear-arms-investments/43614160 The Swiss-based winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize has called on the Nobel Foundation

external link to be more transparent about how it invests its money. This follows allegations that the body has indirectly invested in companies linked to the United States’ nuclear arms programme.

Last month, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weaponsexternal link (ICAN) received the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts in the process to bring about a global treaty to ban nuclear arms.

But the German NGO Facing Finance, together with Norwegian environmental organisation Framtiden and German television channel ZDF, have uncovered evidence that the Nobel Foundation has invested in an index fund that includes Lockheed Martin, Textron and Raytheon. All three companies have been active in US nuclear weapons manufacturing.

Geneva-based ICAN has its own investment tracker called Don’t Bank on the Bomb, which encourages investors to publicly divest from companies associated with the production of nuclear weapons. But this system looks specifically at financial sector investments, and does not reveal individual investors.

ICAN Executive Director Beatrice Fihn called on the foundation to open its books more fully to public scrutiny.

“There are public reports that the Nobel Foundation has an ethical investment policy not to invest in weapons prohibited by international treaty, and we encourage the Nobel Foundation to be more public and transparent about how they implement this policy,” she said in an email to swissinfo.ch.

New direction

ICAN will officially receive the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10. Fihn said that ICAN would use the prize “to strengthen the work of prohibiting and eliminating nuclear weapons”.

In an emailed response to swissinfo.ch, the Nobel Foundation said it invested in funds rather than picking specific companies. Since the beginning of the year, it has changed its investment policy to find “more sustainable alternatives to our equity index funds”.

“Today, the Nobel Foundation has clear guidelines regarding ethics and sustainability. No new investments are made in funds that invest in companies that violate international conventions regarding, for example, land mines or cluster bombs, or who have investments in nuclear weapons,” Nobel Foundation Executive Director Lars Heikensten told swissinfo.ch.

“Our current investments are being investigated based on these guidelines. In addition, we have joined the UN initiative Principles for Responsible Investments (PRI), and have thereby incorporated environmental, social and governance factors into our investment decisions.”

He added that the foundation was “considering using our position to make active investments in sustainable projects and in this way, make a real difference”.

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October 20, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, Switzerland, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Swiss group CNP to stop buying power from Fessenheim nuclear power station

Fessenheim loses one of its biggest customers. The Swiss group CNP will
stop buying electricity from the French nuclear power plant (EDF), which is
due to close permanently in 2019.
https://www.lesechos.fr/industrie-services/energie-environnement/030550663088-fessenheim-perd-lun-de-ses-plus-gros-clients-2113553.php

September 14, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, Switzerland | Leave a comment

More money in nuclear decommissioning than in running nuclear power?

Swiss utility BKW jumps into nuclear plant dismantling business, Reuters, 7 Sept 17  Reuters Staff

  •  DfN already works with BKW at Muehleberg station
  • GE, Hitachi and Veolia also looking at decommissioning business

By John Miller ZURICH, Sept 7 (Reuters) – Swiss utility BKW AG bought a small German nuclear services company on Thursday, joining firms including GE that are banking on rising revenue from the decommissioning of European nuclear plants.

BKW, which plans to dismantle its own Muehleberg nuclear station after shuttering it in 2019, bought Dienstleistungen fuer Nukleartechnik GmbH (DfN). Its services include verifying that components removed from nuclear facilities are no longer radioactive.

Other companies, including Finland’s Fortum, privately held U.S.-based Bechtel and the GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy alliance, are also seeking to benefit from plant decommissioning in Sweden as well as Germany.

Germany decided to exit nuclear power by 2022 following the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011.

Similarly, energy groups E.ON and EnBW, which are now tearing down their German nuclear plants, are seeking to parlay newfound dismantling expertise by offering similar services elsewhere in the world…….https://www.reuters.com/article/bkw-nuclearpower-dismantling/swiss-utility-bkw-jumps-into-nuclear-plant-dismantling-business-idUSL8N1LO4R1

September 9, 2017 Posted by | decommission reactor, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Swiss Alps: global warming is revealing long-frozen bodies of lost travellers

Melting glaciers in Swiss Alps could reveal hundreds of mummified corpses, Frozen bodies of couple who vanished 75 years ago among those uncovered recently as global warming forces ice to retreat, Guardian, Philip Oltermann and Kate Connolly, 5 Aug 17, Swiss police say hundreds of bodies of mountaineers who have gone missing in the Alps in the past century could emerge in coming years as global warming forces the country’s glaciers to retreat.

Alpine authorities have registered a significant increase in the number of human remains discovered last month, with the body of a man missing for 30 years the most recent to be uncovered.

Rescue teams in Saas Valley in the Valais canton were called last Tuesday after two climbers retreating from an aborted ascent spotted a hand and two shoes protruding from the Hohlaub glacier…….

The discovery comes less than a week after the bodies of a Swiss couple, missing for 75 years, were found in the Tsanfleuron glacier in the same canton…….

Switzerland’s glaciers have been melting at an unprecedented rate, losing almost one cubic km in ice volume or about 900 bn litres of water over the past year. According to an investigation by Tagesanzeiger newspaper, eight of the 10 months in which the glaciers have lost the most in volume over the past century have been since 2008.

Since 1850, when glaciers covered 1,735 sq km (670 sq miles) of Swiss land, the total area has shrunk by a half, to about 890 sq km.

Police in Valais expect the bodies of many more missing persons to emerge because of global warming. “It’s quite clear,” a spokesman, Christian Zuber, told the Guardian.

“The glaciers are retreating, so it’s logical that we’re finding more and more bodies and body parts. In the coming years we expect that many more cases of missing persons will be resolved.”…… https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/04/melting-glaciers-swiss-alps-could-reveal-hundreds-mummified-corpses

August 5, 2017 Posted by | climate change, Switzerland | Leave a comment

The international nuclear industry in financial meltdown

Global Meltdown? Nuclear Power’s Annus Horribilis, Jim Green, New Matilda, 9 July 2017 https://newmatilda.com/2017/07/09/global-meltdown-nuclear-powers-annus-horribilis/

This year will go down with 1979 (Three Mile Island), 1986 (Chernobyl) and 2011 (Fukushima) as one of the nuclear industry’s worst ever ‒ and there’s still another six months to go, writes Dr Jim Green.

Two of the industry’s worst-ever years have been in the past decade and there will be many more bad years ahead as the trickle of closures of ageing reactors becomes a flood ‒ the International Energy Agency expects almost 200 reactor closures between 2014 and 2040. The likelihood of reactor start-ups matching closures over that time period has become vanishingly small.

In January, the World Nuclear Association anticipated 18 power reactor start-ups this year. The projection has been revised down to 14 and even that seems more than a stretch. There has only been one reactor start-up in the first half of the year according to the IAEA’s Power Reactor Information System, and two permanent reactor closures.

The number of power reactors under construction is on a downward trajectory ‒ 59 reactors are under construction as of May 2017, the first time since 2010 that the number has fallen below 60.

Pro-nuclear journalist Fred Pearce wrote on May 15: “Is the nuclear power industry in its death throes? Even some nuclear enthusiasts believe so. With the exception of China, most nations are moving away from nuclear ‒ existing power plants across the United States are being shut early; new reactor designs are falling foul of regulators, and public support remains in free fall. Now come the bankruptcies…. The industry is in crisis. It looks ever more like a 20th century industrial dinosaur, unloved by investors, the public, and policymakers alike. The crisis could prove terminal.”

Pro-nuclear lobby groups are warning about nuclear power’s “rapidly accelerating crisis“, a “crisis that threatens the death of nuclear energy in the West“, and noting that “the industry is on life support in the United States and other developed economies“.

United States

The most dramatic story this year has been the bankruptcy protection filing of US nuclear giant Westinghouse onMarch 29. Westinghouse’s parent company Toshiba states that there is “substantial doubt” about Toshiba’s “ability to continue as a going concern”. These nuclear industry giants have been brought to their knees by cost overruns ‒estimated at US$13 billion ‒ building four AP1000 power reactors in the U.S.

The nuclear debate in the US is firmly centred on attempts to extend the lifespan of ageing, uneconomic reactors with state bailouts. Financial bailouts by state governments in New York and Illinois are propping up ageing reactors, but a proposed bailout in Ohio is meeting stiff opposition. The fate of Westinghouse and its partially-built AP1000 reactors are much discussed, but there is no further discussion about new reactors ‒ other than to note that they won’t happen.

Six reactors have been shut down over the past five years in the US, and another handful will likely close in the next five years. How far and fast will nuclear fall? Exelon ‒ the leading nuclear power plant operator in the US ‒ claims that “economic and policy challenges threaten to close about half of America’s reactors” in the next two decades. According to pro-nuclear lobby group ‘Environmental Progress‘, almost one-quarter of US reactors are at high risk of closure by 2030, and almost three-quarters are at medium to high risk. In May, the US Energy Information Administration released an analysis projecting nuclear’s share of the nation’s electricity generating capacity will drop from 20 per cent to 11 per cent by 2050.

There are different views about how far and fast nuclear will fall in the US ‒ but fall it will. And there is no dispute that many plants are losing money. More than half in fact, racking up losses totalling about US$2.9 billion a year according to a recent analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. And a separate Bloomberg report found that expanding state aid to money-losing reactors across the eastern US may leave consumers on the hook for as much as US$3.9 billion a year in higher power bills.

Japan

Fukushima clean-up and compensation cost estimates have doubled and doubled again and now stand at US$191 billion. An analysis by the Japan Institute for Economic Research estimates that the total costs for decommissioning, decontamination and compensation could be far higher at US$443‒620 billion.

Only five reactors are operating in Japan as of July 2017, compared to 54 before the March 2011 Fukushima disaster. The prospects for new reactors are bleak. Japan has given up on its Monju fast breeder reactor ‒ successive governments wasted US$10.6 billion on Monju and decommissioning will cost another US$2.7 billion.

As mentioned, Toshiba is facing an existential crisis due to the crippling debts of its subsidiary Westinghouse. Toshibaannounced on May 15 that it expects to report a consolidated net loss of US$8.4 billion for the 2016‒2017 financial year which ended March 31.

Hitachi is backing away from its plan to build two Advanced Boiling Water Reactors in Wylfa, Wales. Hitachi recentlysaid that if it cannot attract partners to invest in the project before construction is due to start in 2019, the project will be suspended.

Hitachi recently booked a massive loss on a failed investment in laser uranium enrichment technology in the US. A 12 May 2017 statement said the company had posted an impairment loss on affiliated companies’ common stock of US$1.66 billion for the fiscal year ended 31 March 2017, and “the major factor” was Hitachi’s exit from the laser enrichment project. Last year a commentator opined that “the way to make a small fortune in the uranium enrichment business in the US is to start with a large one.”

France

The French nuclear industry is in its “worst situation ever” according to former EDF director Gérard Magnin. France has 58 operable reactors and just one under construction.

French EPR reactors under construction in France and Finland are three times over budget ‒ the combined cost overruns for the two reactors amount to about US$14.5 billion.

Bloomberg noted in April 2015 that Areva’s EPR export ambitions are “in tatters“. Now Areva itself is in tatters and is in the process of a government-led restructure and another taxpayer-funded bailout. On March 1, Areva posted a €665 million net loss for 2016. Losses in the preceding five years exceeded €10 billion.

In February, EDF released its financial figures for 2016: earnings and income fell and EDF’s debt remained steady at €37.4 billion. EDF plans to sell €10 billion of assets by 2020 to rein in its debt, and to sack up to 7,000 staff. The French government provided EDF with €3 billion in extra capital in 2016 and will contribute €3 billion towards a €4 billioncapital raising this year. On March 8, shares in EDF hit an all-time low a day after the €4 billion capital raising was launched; the share price fell to €7.78, less than one-tenth of the high a decade ago.

Costs of between €50 billion and €100 billion will need to be spent by 2030 to meet new safety requirements for reactors in France and to extend their operating lives beyond 40 years.

EDF has set aside €23 billion to cover reactor decommissioning and waste management costs in France ‒ just over half of the €54 billion that EDF estimates will be required. A recent report by the French National Assembly’s Commission for Sustainable Development and Regional Development concluded that there is “obvious under-provisioning” and that decommissioning and waste management will take longer, be more challenging and cost much more than EDF anticipates.

In 2015, concerns about the integrity of some EPR pressure vessels were revealed, prompting investigations that are still ongoing. Last year, the scandal was magnified when the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) announced that Areva had informed it of “irregularities in components produced at its Creusot Forge plant.” The problems concern documents attesting to the quality of parts manufactured at the site. At least 400 of the 10,000 quality documents reviewed by Areva contained anomalies. Work at the Creusot Forge foundry was suspended in the wake of the scandal and Areva is awaiting ASN approval to restart the foundry.

French environment and energy minister Nicolas Hulot said on June 12 that the government plans to close some nuclear reactors to reduce nuclear’s share of the country’s power mix. “We are going to close some nuclear reactors and it won’t be just a symbolic move,” he said.

India

Nuclear power accounts for just 3.4 percent of electricity supply in India and that figure will not rise significantly, if at all. In May, India’s Cabinet approved a plan to build 10 indigenous pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWR). That decision can be read as an acknowledgement that plans for six Westinghouse AP1000 reactors and six French EPR reactors are unlikely to eventuate.

The plan for 10 new PHWRs faces major challenges. Suvrat Raju and M.V. Ramana noted: “[N]uclear power will continue to be an expensive and relatively minor source of electricity for the foreseeable future…. The announcement about building 10 PHWRs fits a pattern, often seen with the current government, where it trumpets a routine decision to bolster its “bold” credentials. Most of the plants that were recently approved have been in the pipeline for years. Nevertheless, there is good reason to be sceptical of these plans given that similar plans to build large numbers of reactors have failed to meet their targets, often falling far short.”

South Africa

An extraordinary High Court judgement on April 26 ruled that much of South Africa’s nuclear new-build program is without legal foundation. The High Court set aside the Ministerial determination that South Africa required 9.6 gigawatts (GW) of new nuclear capacity, and found that numerous bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements were unconstitutional and unlawful. President Jacob Zuma is trying to revive the nuclear program, but it will most likely be shelved when Zuma leaves office in 2019 (if he isn’t removed earlier). Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi said on June 21 that South Africa will review its nuclear plans as part of its response to economic recession.

South Korea

South Korea’s new President Moon Jae-in said on June 19 that his government will halt plans to build new nuclear power plants and will not extend the lifespan of existing plants beyond 40 years. President Moon said: “We will completely re-examine the existing policies on nuclear power. We will scrap the nuclear-centred polices and move toward a nuclear-free era. We will eliminate all plans to build new nuclear plants.”

Since the presidential election on May 9, the ageing Kori-1 reactor has been permanently shut down, work on two partially-built reactors (Shin Kori 5 and 6) has been suspended pending a review, and work on two planned reactors (Shin-Hanul 3 and 4) has been stopped.

Taiwan

Taiwan’s Cabinet reiterated on June 12 the government’s resolve to phase out nuclear power. The government remains committed to the goal of decommissioning the three operational nuclear power plants as scheduled and making Taiwan nuclear-free by 2025, Cabinet spokesperson Hsu Kuo-yung said.

UK

Tim Yeo, a former Conservative politician and now a nuclear industry lobbyist with New Nuclear Watch Europe, saidthe compounding problems facing nuclear developers in the UK “add up to something of a crisis for the UK’s nuclear new-build programme.”

The lobby group noted delays with the EPR reactor in Flamanville, France and the possibility that those delays would flow on to the two planned EPR reactors at Hinkley Point; the lack of investors for the proposed Advanced Boiling Water Reactors at Wylfa; the acknowledgement by the NuGen consortium that the plan for three AP1000 reactors at Moorside faces a “significant funding gap”; and the fact that the Hualong One technology which China General Nuclear Power Corporation hopes to deploy at Bradwell in Essex has yet to undergo its generic design assessment.

The only reactor project with any momentum in the UK is Hinkley Point, based on the French EPR reactor design. The head of one of Britain’s top utilities said on June 19 that Hinkley Point is likely to be the only nuclear project to go ahead in the UK. Alistair Phillips-Davies, chief executive officer of SSE, an energy supplier and former investor in new nuclear plants, said: “The bottom line in nuclear is that it looks like only Hinkley Point will get built and Flamanville needs to go well for that to happen.”

There is growing pressure for the obscenely expensive Hinkley Point project to be cancelled. The UK National Audit Office report released a damning report on June 23. The Audit Office said: “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… Today’s report finds that the Department has not sufficiently considered the costs and risks of its deal for consumers…. 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 for difference has increased from £6 billion to £30 billion.”

Writing in the Financial Times on May 26, Neil Collins said: “EDF, of course, is the contractor for that white elephant in the nuclear room, Hinkley Point. If this unproven design ever gets built and produces electricity, the UK consumer will be obliged to pay over twice the current market price for the output…. The UK’s energy market is in an unholy mess… Scrapping Hinkley Point would not solve all of [the problems], but it would be a start.”

And on it goes. Hinkley Point is one of the “great spending dinosaurs of the political dark ages” according to The Guardian. It is a “white elephant” according to an editorial in The Times.

EDF said on June 26 that it is conducting a “full review of the costs and schedule of the Hinkley Point C project” and the results will be disclosed “soon”. On July 3, EDF announced that the estimated cost of the two Hinkley reactors has risen by €2.5 billion (to €23.2 billion, or €30.4 billion including finance costs). In 2007, EDF was boasting that Britons would be using electricity from Hinkley to cook their Christmas turkeys in December 2017. But in its latestannouncement, EDF pushes back the 2025 start-up dates for the two Hinkley reactors by 9‒15 months.

Oliver Tickell and Ian Fairlie wrote an obituary for Britain’s nuclear renaissance in The Ecologist on May 18. Theyconcluded: “[T]he 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’.”

Switzerland

Voters in Switzerland supported a May 21 referendum on a package of energy policy measures including a ban on new nuclear power reactors. Thus Switzerland has opted for a gradual nuclear phase out and all reactors will probably be closed by the early 2030s, if not earlier.

Germany will close its last reactor much sooner than Switzerland, in 2022.

Sweden

Unit 1 of the Oskarshamn nuclear power plant in Sweden has been permanently shut down. Unit 2 at the same plant was permanently shut down in 2015. Ringhals 1 and 2 are expected to be shut down in 2019‒2020, after which Sweden will have just six operating power reactors. Switzerland, Germany and Taiwan have made deliberate decisions to phase out nuclear power; in Sweden, the phase out will be attritional.

Russia

Rosatom deputy general director Vyacheslav Pershukov said in mid-June that the world market for the construction of new nuclear power plants is shrinking, and the possibilities for building new large reactors abroad are almost exhausted. He said Rosatom expects to be able to find customers for new reactors until 2020‒2025 but “it will be hard to continue.”

China

With 36 power reactors and another 22 under construction, China is the only country with a significant nuclear expansion program. However nuclear growth could take a big hit in the event of economic downturn. And nuclear growth could be derailed by a serious accident, which is all the more likely because of China’s inadequate nuclear safety standards, inadequate regulation, lack of transparency, repression of whistleblowers, world’s worst insurance and liability arrangements, security risks, and widespread corruption.

Dr Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth, Australia, and editor of the World Information Service on Energy’s Nuclear Monitor newsletter.

July 10, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, politics, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, UK, USA | Leave a comment

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

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

Germany, and Swiss groups question why Swiss nuclear reactor is again shut down

Germany demands answers after Swiss nuclear reactor is restarted… and then shut down again, The Local, 20 Feb 17, The German environment minister has demanded answers from the Swiss authorities after the Leibstadt nuclear reactor in the canton of Aargau near the German border was switched off on Friday night, just seven hours after being restarted following a six months shutdown.

Shortly after the reactor was brought on line at around 5.30pm on Friday, operator KKL noted a malfunction of the exhaust system responsible for filtering gases from the condenser in a non-nuclear area of the reactor, KKL said in a statement……
Greenpeace has also criticized the move, while 16,000 people have signed a petition against the reactor led by a Swiss Green Party politician, reported Swiss news agencies.
Some 12 Swiss and German groups have written to the Swiss government to demand the shutdown of the reactor. ……https://www.thelocal.de/20170220/questions-asked-after-swiss-nuclear-reactor-is-restarted-and-then-shut-down-again

February 22, 2017 Posted by | Germany, politics international, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Switzerland to vote on the government’s energy straegy

Swiss to vote on government’s anti-nuclear energy strategy, The Local, 2 Feb 17The Swiss people will go to the polls on May 21st to decide whether the government’s ‘energy strategy 2050’ should go ahead.

The policy, which will instigate a gradual withdrawal from nuclear power in favour of renewable resources, is opposed by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) which in October launched a campaign to gather enough signatures to force a referendum on the matter.
On Tuesday the government confirmed that the SVP had gathered 68,390 valid signatures, well over the necessary threshold of 50,000, reported news agencies.
Consequently, in May the Swiss people will get the chance to have their say on the government’s energy plans.
The Energy Strategy 2050 was devised following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 and is spearheaded by energy minister and current Swiss President Doris Leuthard.
Under the plans no new nuclear power plants will be built in Switzerland and the five that do exist – including the world’s oldest operating reactor, Beznau I – will be decommissioned at the end of their technically safe operating life.
The strategy will also see a new focus on exploiting hydropower and other renewable resources such as wind and solar power, measures which require changes to the existing energy law…….http://www.thelocal.ch/20170201/swiss-to-vote-on-governments-anti-nuclear-energy-strategy

February 3, 2017 Posted by | politics, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Sweden’s nuclear sites to get armed guards

All those terror attacks’: Sweden’s nuclear sites to get armed guards Rt.com  5 Jan, 2017 Sweden has decided to tighten up security around nuclear plants by requiring guards to be armed. The measures will be introduced following recent terrorists attacks across the globe.

“Just look at all the terror attacks, for example in Istanbul recently. We have to keep up and protect our operations as best we can,” Anders Österberg, spokesperson for OKG AB, a Swedish corporation which owns and operates the country’s Oskarshamn Nuclear Power Plant, said, according to Sveriges Radio on Thursday.

Starting from February 4, guards at three Swedish nuclear plants – in Ringhals, Oskarshamn, and Forsmark – will be equipped with guns, Österberg later told TT news agency. Under new regulations, security officers are required to use guard dogs for patrolling nuclear power sites.

Until now, the guards were only allowed to carry batons……..https://www.rt.com/news/372732-sweden-security-nuclear-sites/

January 6, 2017 Posted by | safety, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Switzerland concerned over possible abnormalities in AREVA-supplied nuclear reactor components

safety-symbol-Smflag-SwitzerlandTwo Swiss nuclear plants to be checked for irregularities, SwissInfo, 13 Dec 16The Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (IFSN) has confirmed that steam generators at the Beznau and Gösgen nuclear plants must be checked for possible anomalies.

In a statement on Tuesday, IFSN said it had asked the operators of the Beznau and Gösgen nuclear plants to check the quality of steel components used in the steam generators.

Plant operators must scrutinize documents relating to the components and report to IFSN by April. They should then carry out any physical checks on materials.

The news follows reports that the French nuclear safety authority (ASN) discovered in June that certain steam generator channel heads made by two different manufacturers – Areva’s Creusot plant and Japan Casting & Forging Corp (JCFC) – could contain a zone comprising a high carbon concentration. That could weaken the mechanical resilience of the steel and its ability to resist the spreading of cracks.

“This pushed us to check the steam generators at the Beznau and Gösgen plants,” said IFSN interim director, Georg Schwarz……http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/nuclear-power_two-swiss-nuclear-plants-to-be-checked-for-irregularities/42759794

December 14, 2016 Posted by | safety, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Swiss reject hasty exit from nuclear power, but not by a huge vote

Swiss reject plan to speed up exit from nuclear energy  Herald Courier, Associated Press |BERLIN (AP) , 27 Nov 16, — Swiss voters rejected a plan to accelerate the country’s exit from nuclear energy in a referendum Sunday, turning down an initiative that would have forced their government to shut the last plant in 2029.

The plan promoted by the Green party would have meant closing three of Switzerland’s five nuclear plants next year. Polls ahead of the referendum had shown a tight race, but voters shot down the initiative by 54.2 percent to 45.8 percent.

Under Switzerland’s direct democracy system, proposals need support from both a majority of the country’s cantons (states) and of the national vote to pass. Only six of Switzerland’s 26 states backed the nuclear shutdown plan.

After the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, the Swiss government adopted a gradualist approach toward transitioning the country to renewable energy by 2050.

It said nuclear plants should continue to operate as long as they are deemed safe, but didn’t set a precise timetable. The government said it needs time to switch to other sources such as wind, solar and biomass energy.

If successful, the initiative would have limited the lifespan of nuclear plants to 45 years and meant the closure next year of the Beznau 1, Beznau 2 and Muehleberg reactors. The newest of the plants, in Leibstadt near the German border, started operating in 1984 and would have had to close in 2029.

The nuclear plants currently generate around a third of Switzerland’s electricity.

“We would have liked to win, that’s clear, but 45 percent for ‘yes’ is a good result,” Regula Rytz, the Greens’ chairwoman, told SRF television. Her party isn’t part of Switzerland’s broad coalition government.

“The problems haven’t been resolved with this referendum Sunday,” Rytz said. “We will keep at it on safety, on financial security … and on expanding renewable energies.”….

The referendum result “is a disappointment for all who had hoped for clarity on when the last nuclear power station in Switzerland will go offline,” Rita Schwarzeluehr-Sutter, a deputy German environment minister, said.

Nuclear power is “an outdated model in Switzerland, too,” she said, adding that the country has some of the world’s oldest reactors and “their days are numbered anyway.” http://www.heraldcourier.com/news/swiss-cast-ballots-on-referendum-on-nuclear-energy/article_92960829-a9d6-57a4-9cce-031054b7ab3a.html

November 28, 2016 Posted by | politics, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Switzerland’s nuclear reactors will keep going – for now

Swiss nuclear plants to remain on grid, swissinfo.ch


By Urs Geiser , 27 Nov 16 

Swiss voters have thrown out a proposal to close the country’s five nuclear power plants after 45 years in operation. The Green Party initiative was rejected by 54.2% of the vote, according to final results.

Only six of the country’s 26 cantons, mainly in French-speaking Switzerland, came out in favour of the phase out. Despite the defeat, Regula Rytz, president of the Green Party, welcomed Sunday’s result.

“The high number of yes votes confirmed that citizens wanted to opt out of nuclear power in the long run,” she said.

The leftwing Social Democrats said the nuclear era was coming to an end, while the environmental organisation Greenpeace described the result as a “slap on the wrist” of the nuclear power industry.

Confidence 

Energy Minister Doris Leuthard  said the result was a vote of confidence in the government and its energy strategy. “Voters do not want a hasty shut down of nuclear power plants. A policy change is not feasible from one day to the next,” she told a news conference…….

Supporters of the initiative argued the safety of old reactors, operating since the early 1970s, could no longer be guaranteed. Instead, they called for more energy efficiency and renewable energy resources.

“An orderly phase out creates more safety and protects our country,” according to the campaign slogan of the initiative committee.

If it had been approved, three plants would have had to close as early as next year and Switzerland would have phased out nuclear energy production by 2029. Most of the Swiss nuclear reactors have unlimited operating licences, which are subject to approval by the regulator.

The proposal was backed by an alliance of leftwing parties, trade unions and environmental organisations……..

Energy Strategy

Following the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, the Swiss government in 2011 decided in principle to opt out of nuclear power production by 2034. In its energy policy, the government recommended decommissioning all nuclear reactors and to promote hydroelectric power, renewable energy and combined gas plants.

Last September, parliament approved an energy strategy, ending more than two years of debate. The programme foresees boosting renewable energy resources and outlaws the construction of nuclear power plants. However, it sets no deadline for the existing reactors to be shut down.

Unhappy with the Energy Strategy 2050, the rightwing Swiss People’s Party is challenging the law to a referendum, criticising planned government subsidies for renewable energy resources……

Nuclear votes

The Nov 27 was vote was the seventh nationwide ballot on nuclear power in Switzerland since 1979.

Ballots also took place at cantonal and local levels, notably on the storage of nuclear waste, public stock ownership in nuclear companies or a ban of nuclear power supplies for public utilities.

November 28, 2016 Posted by | politics, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Swiss can’t give away nuclear reactors, let alone sell them

radiation-sign-sadflag-SwitzerlandSwiss try to give away nuclear plants, but find no takers, REneweconomy, By  on 18 November 2016 Energy Transition  The operator of Switzerland’s nuclear reactors, Alpiq, reportedly offered reactors to France’s EDF at no cost or “a symbolic franc.” The French, who have their hands full with their own struggling fleet at home, refused the offer. A potential power shortfall still looms in the background. Craig Morris explains.

On the weekend, Swiss media reported (in German and in French) that Swiss reactor operator Alpiq could find no buyer for its two nuclear plants and is therefore hoping to give them to the Swiss state. The firm’s CEO is quoted saying that France’s EDF was not interested even at no cost because it “has its own problems pertaining to nuclear power at present.”

It is possible that the announcement is a bargaining chip just in case the Swiss decide in their referendum later this month to phase out nuclear. Alpiq’s Gösgen reactor would then have to close in 2024; Leibstadt, in 2029. The company may thus be looking for ways to ask for money from the Swiss state in return for a closure. At present, the firm is apparently losing 2 billion francs annually but can only pass on half of those losses to consumers.

Oddly, neighboring France faces a power shortage that should lead to greater demand in Switzerland; the aforementioned losses have been part of a longer trend stemming back to the solar boom of Germany (see my report from 2012), which began bringing down prices on spot power markets despite Chancellor Merkel’s nuclear phaseout of 2011. Solar and wind have simply grown faster than anyone expected.

As I recently explained, France has more than a third of its reactors closed at present. At the beginning of November, it was announced (in French) that five of the 20 reactors (out of 58) currently undergoing inspections would not come back online this month as expected.

Concerns of a power shortage also extend to the UK, where system operator National Grid warned of a potential shortfall on Monday, November 07. Power prices have reached as high as 40 pence on the spot market, whereas 4 pence would be more usual (play around with this table). The British were importing power full blast on line from the Netherlands and France, thereby contributing to the drain on French supply.

As a result, French prices were also high that Monday, reaching nearly 40 cents. But that’s nothing: a power trader says it is “almost certain” that France will reach its price cap of three euros per kilowatt-hour on the exchange this winter. The head of EDF, which operates all of France’s reactors, has now said that the danger of a blackout this winter is real (in French). At that point, France might import from the UK no matter what the cost, and the British would fire up their strategic reserve……..

The problem is thus that France and the UK have failed to build enough renewables, especially biogas plants running on waste (which are dispatchable), while they wasted time hoping to build nuclear plants that never emerged. As for the Swiss, well, they have suffered from the same indecision but may set it aside finally in their referendum on November 27. http://reneweconomy.com.au/swiss-try-give-away-nuclear-plants-find-no-takers-47105/

November 19, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Majority of Swiss back proposal to shut down nuclear power by 2029

Poll finds support for nuclear phaseout, SwissInfo Ch By Urs Geiser , 21 Oct 16  

A proposal to decommission Switzerland’s nuclear power plants by 2029 has the backing of a majority of citizens, according to a survey conducted seven weeks ahead of a nationwide vote. Despite this, pollsters believe the initiative is likely to be defeated on November 27.

Supporters of the Green Party proposal had a 21% lead over opponents seven weeks before polling day, while 7% of respondents were undecided, results published on Friday showed.

“The political left, women and citizens in the French-speaking part of the country are in favour,” said Claude Longchamp of the leading GfS Bern research and polling institute.

Supporters face a strong alliance of opponents, including centre-right parties, parliament, the government and the business community.

Longchamp said the grassroots of the centrist Christian Democrats are likely to play a key role……..http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/november-27-vote_poll-finds-support-for-nuclear-phase-out/42529278

October 22, 2016 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, politics, Switzerland | Leave a comment