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Grid flexibility a better choice than nuclear – could save UK $millions

Christina Macpherson’s websites & blogs

When even a right wing news medium like Forbes start questioning the ”wisdom” of nuclear development , that industry must be getting worried.

Ditch Nuclear And Save $860 Million With Grid Flexibility, U.K. Told, Forbes,   David Vetter Senior Contributor, 30 Nov 2, 

The U.K. could save money, reduce the risk of blackouts and more quickly achieve its carbon-cutting goals by abandoning plans to build more nuclear power facilities and instead invest in a flexible electricity grid, new analysis has found.

According to the report from Finnish energy tech firm Wärtsilä, the U.K. would stand to save $860 million per year if, instead of new nuclear power, the government backed grid flexibility measures, such as battery storage and thermal generation. That equates to a saving of about $33 dollars per British household per year. Crucially, the analysis revealed that even if energy generation was to remain the same as it is today, Britain could increase renewables’ share of that generation to 62% simply by adding more flexibility (renewables currently account for around 47% of electricity used, according to the government).

The Wärtsilä report is timely because, in a ten-point plan released earlier this month, prime minister Boris Johnson promised an additional $684 million for the nuclear sector, and the building of new large and small nuclear power stations. Notably, grid flexibility was not mentioned in the plan.

The report also raises questions about the necessity of the 3.2 gigawatt Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, under development in Somerset, southwest England, which has been dogged by controversy and delays since its inception. In addition to coming with all the usual challenges associated with nuclear fission—not least the storage of radioactive waste—the project is at least $3.6 billion over budget and has been the target of numerous lawsuits and both local and international complaints.

Speaking to Forbes.com, Ville Rimali, growth and development director at Wärtsilä Energy, explained why his firm determined that grid flexibility is a preferable alternative to nuclear, as Britain looks for a pathway to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“Flexibility unlocks more renewable energy by balancing the intermittency of wind and solar power to ensure the power supply always matches demand,” Rimali said. “For example, when more power is generated than needed, you can store the surplus in batteries to be used later. The alternative is paying renewables to switch off, which is expensive and inefficient.”

“It’s a bit like running a bath where the volume of water and the size of the plug keep changing,” he explained. “The smaller the bathtub, the more likely the water is to overflow or run out. Flexibility is like having a bigger bathtub—you can pour more water in, without the risk of running out or overflowing.” ………

 investing in nuclear power could, according to Wärtsilä, entrench an inflexible grid while making renewables such as solar and wind less cost-effective.

“New nuclear sites will rely heavily on government subsidies, negatively impact market prices and ultimately weaken the business case for renewables and flexibility,” Rimali said………   https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidrvetter/2020/11/30/ditch-nuclear-and-save-860-million-with-grid-flexibility-uk-told/?sh=2733622b1975

December 1, 2020 Posted by | ENERGY, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Britain’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority doesn’t know how much the waste clean up wiill cost or when it will finish


David Lowry’s Blog 27th Nov 2020, The nuclear industry has perpetrated a lot of untruths in six decades of dissembling. But the brazen atomic assertion repeated endlessly in the1950s that atomic energy would produce power “too cheap to meter” ( originally said by the then chairman of the US Atomic Energy Commission, Lewis Stauss, on 16 September 1954, speech to the US National Association of Science Writers when he opined: “It is not too much to expect that our children will enjoy in their homes electrical energy too cheap to meter..”)
Parliament’s public spending watchdog body, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) revealed on 27 November the huge costs escalations for dealing with the British nuclear waste stockpile, stating: “The cost of the long-term liability to decommission the UK’s civil nuclear sites now stands at £132 billion, though by its nature this estimate is inherently uncertain. Even the cost to take the Magnox sites to the care and maintenance stage of the decommissioning process is highly uncertain, with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) currently estimating that it will cost anything from £6.9 billion to £8.7 billion.”
The PAC goes on to explain that the timetable for completing this work is “similarly uncertain,” with a current estimate of anything from 12 to 15 years, adding “past experience tells us that these estimates could increase further.” The MPs believe that the efforts to produce a reliable estimate are “made more difficult by the historical legacy of decommissioning being an afterthought when the nuclear industry was established, and poor records of what hazardous materials are on the sites.
In this context, the NDA faces a considerable challenge to produce a reliable cost estimate. However, lack of knowledge about the sites was a significant factor in the failure of the Magnox procurement and original contract, which seriously damaged the NDA’s reputation and has now cost the taxpayer in excess of £140 million, and it continues to be a major barrier to making
progress.”

http://drdavidlowry.blogspot.com/2020/11/nuclear-dissembling-from-too-cheap-to.html

December 1, 2020 Posted by | politics, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

With independence, Scotland will remove allnuclear weapons from the Clyde

The National 29th Nov 2020, EVERY single nuclear weapon will be removed from the Clyde once Scotland
becomes independent, according to Ian Blackford. The SNP Westminster leader
was unequivocal as he opened the second day of his party’s conference via
video link from Skye.

https://www.thenational.scot/news/18907017.ian-blackford-desperate-tory-bid-prevent-independence-doomed/

December 1, 2020 Posted by | UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UK’s beautiful Lake District – no “final solution” for the nuclear waste problem.

Radiation Free Lakeland 28th Nov 2020, Millom Rock and Deer Parks, This is a lovely description of a walk in an amazingly beautiful area.unbelievable it could be seriously considered as a nuclear waste dump. This quarry and surrounding area is being seriously considered by Radioactive Waste Management (a government quango) for the “disposal” of heat generating nuclear wastes.

In order to justify new nuclear build such as that at Hinkley Point, there needs to be a “final solution” for the
nuclear waste. This is no solution it is an excuse. A very dangerous excuse.

https://mariannewildart.wordpress.com/2020/11/28/millom-rock-deer-parks/

November 29, 2020 Posted by | environment, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

£132billion and counting – Britain’s nuclear decommissioning mess could take 120 years

Daily Mail 27th Nov 2020, The £132bn bill to make our nuclear sites safe: Decommissioning will cost a fortune and could take up to 120 years, report warns. The cost to current and future taxpayers is estimated at £132billion and more than a century of work will have a significant impact on those who live nearby, added the report. Just to get the sites to the care and maintenance stage of the process will cost up to £8.7 billion.
The PAC said past experience suggests the estimates will soon be out of date, with costs rising even higher. According to the report the NDA admits that it does not fully understand the condition of the sites, which include ten former Magnox power stations.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8991859/The-132bn-bill-make-nuclear-sites-safe-Decommissioning-cost-fortune.html

November 28, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, decommission reactor, UK | Leave a comment

UK taxpayers foot huge bill for the incompetence of The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA)

UK’s nuclear sites costing taxpayers ‘astronomical sums’, say MPs
Public accounts committee says ignorance, incompetence and weak oversight to blame,  Guardian, 
Damian Carrington Environment editor @dpcarrington Fri 27 Nov 2020 The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has a perpetual lack of knowledge about the state and location of waste on the 17 sites it is responsible for making safe, a powerful committee of MPs has found.

This results from decades of poor record keeping and weak government oversight, the MPs said. Combined with a “sorry saga” of incompetence and failure, this has left taxpayers footing the bill for “astronomical sums”, they said.

The NDA acknowledges that it still does not have full understanding of the condition of its sites, including 10 closed Magnox stations from Dungeness in Kent to Hunterston in Ayrshire, the MPs report said.

The NDA’s most recent estimate is that it will cost current and future generations of UK taxpayers £132bn to decommission the civil nuclear sites, with the work not being completed for another 120 years.

Since 2017, the NDA’s upper estimate of the cost of the 12-15-year programme just to get the sites to the ”‘care and maintenance” stage of the decommissioning process has increased by £3.1bn to £8.7bn. “Our past experience suggests these costs may increase further,” said the MPs’ report.

The lack of knowledge of the sites was a significant factor in the failure of a 2014 contract the NDA signed with a private sector company to decommission the Magnox sites. The government was forced to take back the contract in 2018 and the botched tender has now cost taxpayers £140m, the MPs found.

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, deputy chair of the public accounts committee (PAC), said: “Although progress has been made since our [2018] report, incredibly, the NDA still doesn’t know even where we’re currently at, in terms of the state and safety of the UK’s disused nuclear sites. Without that, and after the Magnox contracting disaster, it is hard to have confidence in future plans or estimates.” ……….

The UK has eight operating nuclear power plants, with all but one due to retire in the next decade. Only one new plant is being built, at Hinkley Point in Somerset, and it is years behind schedule and billions over budget.

Despite recent speculation over another new plant being given the go-ahead at Sizewell in Suffolk, Boris Johnson failed to announce this in his green industrial revolution plan last week. The government’s new national infrastructure strategy, published on Wednesday, said: “The government is pursuing large-scale nuclear projects, subject to clear value for money for both consumers and taxpayers.”

In 2015, the government stripped another private consortium of a £9bn contract to clean up the nuclear waste site at Sellafield. The company had been heavily criticised for its executives’ expense claims which included a £714 bill for a “cat in a taxi”.  https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/nov/27/uks-nuclear-sites-costing-taxpayers-astronomical-sums-say-mps#_=_

November 28, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, decommission reactor, politics, UK | Leave a comment

British MP’s continue to botch in the ever more costly saga of Britain’s “old” nukes and “new” nukes

Times 27th Nov 2020, The NDA doesn’t really know because, as it told MPs, it “still does not have full understanding of the condition of the 17 sites”. It’s a point it proved with the meltdown of the £3.8 billion Magnox clean-up contract wrongly awarded to the Cavendish Fluor Partnership in 2014. That fiasco saw a High Court judge rule that the losing bidder, Energy Solutions and its partner, Bechtel, should have won the 14-year contract to bring the plants to a state of “care and maintenance”. The upshot? The government terminated the contract at a cost to the taxpayer of £142 million.

And now it’s back in the hands of the NDA, which is telling MPs that even that bit of work will now cost up to £8.7 billion and take another “12 to 15 years”. As the committee notes: “Past experience with the NDA suggests even these estimates will soon be out of date and costs may increase further”.

Isn’t that the story of everything to do with nuclear? True, you’d expect new-build plants to be better managed than Magnox and less
tricky to decommission than the Sellafield complex. The NDA also rejects the committee’s “suggestions that we may not understand the safety of our sites”. And the taxpayer-fleecing cost of the electricity coming from the £22.5 billion Hinkley Point C is meant to cover the clean-up bill.

Yet before Boris presses the go button on more nukes, including Rolls-Royce’s modular type, shouldn’t there be a debate about the waste? The government’s big idea is to bribe some local authority into housing a nice toxic dump, prettily dressed up as a “geological disposal facility”. Copeland in Cumbria is the closest to volunteering. But a deal is a long way off and the plan’s been vetoed before by Cumbria county council.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/business/nuclear-clean-up-bill-needs-scrutiny-h7c3xcz27

November 28, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Depressing news for the nuclear lobby in Western Europe

Western Europe cools on plans for nuclear power https://climatenewsnetwork.net/western-europe-cools-on-plans-for-nuclear-power/, November 25th, 2020, by Paul Brown  As more reactors face closure, governments in Europe may prefer renewable energy to replace nuclear power.

LONDON, 25 November, 2020 – News that two more reactors in the United Kingdom are to shut down on safety grounds earlier than planned has capped a depressing month for nuclear power in Europe.

The news came after weeks of unfounded speculation, based on “leaks”, that the British government was about to take a stake in a giant new French-designed nuclear power station planned at Sizewell in Suffolk on the east coast of England as part of a “Green New Deal.” Taxpayers’ backing would have enabled the heavily-indebted French company EDF to finance the project.

In the event Boris Johnson, the prime minister, in his 10-point “green” plan  for the UK, boosted a far more speculative alternative scheme from a Rolls-Royce consortium which was helping to pay for research and development into a full-blown proposal to construct 16 small modular reactors (SMRs).

He failed to mention the Sizewell scheme at all, and instead of singing the praises of nuclear power extolled the virtues of offshore wind power, in which the UK is currently the world leader.

Johnson hopes that offshore wind will produce enough electricity to power every home in Britain, leaving little room for a nuclear industry. He has referred to the UK as “becoming the Saudi Arabia of wind power.”

Meanwhile across the English Channel in Belgium the Electrabel company – the Belgian subsidiary of French utility Engie – has cancelled any further planned investment in its seven-strong nuclear reactor fleet because of the government’s intention to phase out nuclear power by 2025.

“The cause of this damage [at Hunterston] is not fully understood, and it is entirely possible that this form of age-related damage may be much more extensive”

Plans will only be re-instated if a Belgian government review fails to find enough alternative electricity supply to replace the reactors’ output. The seven Belgian reactors currently produce half the country’s electricity supply.

These reversals come seven years after British governments promised a nuclear renaissance by encouraging French, Japanese, American and finally Chinese companies to build ten nuclear power stations in the UK. Only one station has been begun, a £22 billion (US$29 bn) joint venture between EDF and Chinese backers.

The French, with a 70% stake and the Chinese with 30%, began work on the twin reactors, to be known as Hinkley Point C, in Somerset in the West of England more than two years ago. The station was due to be completed in 2025, but is behind schedule and has cost overruns.

The two partners wanted to replicate these reactors at the planned Suffolk plant, Sizewell C, but EDF has not found the necessary capital to finance it, hoping that the London government would either take a stake or impose a nuclear tax on British consumers to help pay for it.

The idea was for Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C to replace the 14 smaller reactors that EDF owns in Britain, thus keeping the nuclear industry’s 20% share of the UK’s electricity production. Johnson appears to have dashed these hopes. At best Hinkley Point C will produce 7% of the nation’s needs.

Meanwhile there is a question mark over the future of EDF’s remaining reactor fleet in Britain. Two of the 14, also at the Sizewell site, are French-designed pressurised water reactors opened in 1991, and have plenty of life left in them, but the other 12 are all older British-designed advanced gas-cooled reactors (AGRs) that use graphite blocks to control nuclear reactions.

Premature closure

A serious safety flaw has emerged in this design, involving hundreds of cracks in the graphite, causing doubts over whether the reactors could be turned off quickly in an emergency.

After a long stand-off with the UK’s nuclear safety watchdog, the Office for Nuclear Regulation, EDF decided earlier this year to prematurely close two of the worst affected reactors – both in a station known as Hunterston B in Scotland. Now, for the same reason, two further reactors at Hinkley Point B in Somerset will also close. All four reactors will be defuelled in 2022.

Currently six of these 12 AGR reactors are turned off – out of service for maintenance or safety checks. Two of them, at Dungeness B on the south-east coast of England, have been undergoing repairs since 2018 – this time because of corrosion of vital pipework – although cracks in the graphite blocks are also a safety issue here too.

While EDF remains upbeat about its prospects in developing nuclear power and is keeping its remaining ageing AGR reactors going until they can be replaced, it is hard to see where the company will get the money to build a new generation of reactors or attract government subsidies to do so.

The UK’s decision to back the British company Rolls-Royce to develop SMRs means it is unlikely the government has the money or the political inclination to back the French as well.

Rolls-Royce has been badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic because a large part of its business relies on the struggling aviation business, while it needs support because it makes mini-reactors to power British nuclear submarines. The proposed SMR research programme will allow nuclear-trained personnel to switch between military and civilian programmes. 

Long out of office

The Rolls-Royce SMRs are a long shot from the commercial point of view, since they are unproven and likely to be wildly expensive compared with renewable energy. However, they have the political advantage of being British, and their development lies so far into the future that the current government will be out of office before anyone knows whether they actually work or are economic.

As far as the current crop of reactors is concerned, it is clear that at least those with graphite cores are nearing the end of their lives. Nuclear power has some way to go before it can expect a renaissance in the UK.

Paul Dorfman is a research fellow at University College London. He told the Climate News Network: “It is apparent that the graphite cores of Hunterston B, Hinkley B, and possibly all UK AGR reactors have developed and continue to develop significant structural damage to graphite bricks, including keyway cracks in the fuelled section of the reactor.

“It is also clear that the cause of this damage is not fully understood, and it is entirely possible that this form of age-related damage may be much more extensive.

“Given that weight loss in graphite blocks and subsequent graphite cracking occurs in all UK AGRs, what’s happening with Hunterston B has significant implications for the entire UK AGR fleet.

Dr Dorfman concluded: “Given the parlous finances of EDF, who are already struggling with their own reactor up-grade bills in France, it is entirely likely that UK nuclear generation will be reduced to  just Sizewell B, with electricity generation relying almost entirely on renewables by the time Hinkley C comes online, very late and over-cost as usual.” – Climate News Network


November 26, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Precious Suffolk Coast bird habitat to be destroyed by Sizewell C nuclear ptoject

Bird Guides 22nd Nov 2020, Despite the UK Government this week announcing “greater protections for England’s iconic landscapes”, concerns are increasing over plans for a new twin nuclear reactor at Sizewell, on the Suffolk coast, with The Wildlife Trusts expressing deep worry. The Sizewell C project would cut through the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and its associated important wildlife designations.
Suffolk Wildlife Trust believes that the proposed development in such a wildlife-rich, fragile location would be catastrophic for UK nature when wildlife declines are so extreme that the Government recently has committed to protect 30% of the UK’s land by 2030 – to allow nature to recover. After a decade of assessing the impact, Suffolk Wildlife Trust believes that Sizewell C should not go
ahead. Christine Luxton, Chief Executive of Suffolk Wildlife Trust, commented: “Sizewell C would destroy a vast swathe of the Suffolk coastline in one of the most beautiful natural parts of the UK.
People visit this part of Suffolk from all over the country to enjoy the wild countryside. If this vast development gets the go-ahead, an area of the coast the size of 900 football pitches will be directly affected by the development. Barn Owls, Water Voles and Common Kingfishers will see their habitat destroyed.

https://www.birdguides.com/news/the-wildlife-trusts-raise-concerns-over-sizewell-c/

November 24, 2020 Posted by | environment, UK | Leave a comment

UK could save £660m through to 2030 by scrapping Sizewell nuclear plan, switcing to flexible eneegy technologies

November 24, 2020 Posted by | ENERGY, UK | Leave a comment

UK government losing enthusiasm for new nuclear power stations, as grim financial realities set in

November 23, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Boris Johnson’s UK government adding nuclear power to its long list of failures

November 23, 2020 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Inaccuracies in Boris Johnson’s document supporting nuclear power development

Dave Lowry’s Blog 19th Nov 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is not a details man; and he often plays fast-and-loose with the truth. So it should not really come as a surprise that the document he issued in support of his ‘Ten Point Plan for a GreenIndustrial Revolution’ contains inaccuracies. I am sure he did not write it himself, so specialist officials who prepared it, have been prepared to write in his happy-go-lucky casual relation with the truth in the text they crafted.

The section covering Point 3: Delivering New and Advanced Nuclear Power, is a good exemplar of a perpetuated inaccuracy by nuclear
cheerleaders, who rewrite history for modern convenience. In the second paragraph of this section, its states: “The UK was home to the world’s first full-scale civil nuclear power station more than sixty years ago…”

The nuclear plants in question are not named, but sixty years ago there were only four nuclear power reactor plants operating in the UK. Two were experimental reactors in Scotland: the Dounreay Materials Test Reactor (DMTR) that went critical in May 1958; and the Dounreay Fast Reactor (DFR), which achieved criticality on 14 November 1959. The only other two reactors operating were the Chapel Cross Magnox production reactor in Annan, Dumfries and Galloway, in 1959, which did generate electricity, but primarily was used to produce weapons-useable plutonium, and tritium from inserted lithium, to enhance hydrogen nuclear warhead explosions

http://drdavidlowry.blogspot.com/2020/11/broris-johnson-plays-truth-or-dare-with.html

November 21, 2020 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

UK government’s plans for Sizewell and Wylfa nuclear stations are wavering, with doubts about costs

November 21, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Britain’s enthusiasm for nuclear power stations is waning.

Bloomberg 20th Nov 2020, Britain’s ambition to renew its aging fleet of nuclear power plants is losing momentum after the government offered few new details on how it will support additional projects. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s
administration set aside 500 million pounds ($661 million) for small modular reactor projects but was silent on support for traditional
large-scale plants.

The issue gained urgency on Thursday as Electricite de France SA’s announced the closure of its Hinkley Point B reactors two
years early. The government’s latest thinking on how to replace its aging fleet of nuclear plants marks a dramatic shift from 2013, when David Cameron agreed to funding for new reactors at the Hinkley Point site with support from China. Since then, relations with China have deteriorated, electricity demand slumped and renewables such as wind and solar farms became much cheaper than new atomic plants.

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/nuclear-power-pushed-to-back-burner-in-u-k-s-green-energy-plan-1.1525271

November 21, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment