The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Serious doubts about UK’s Trident nuclear plan – problems not “manageable or resolvable.”

Times 23rd July 2017,New questions are being raised about the UK’s £41bn programme to replace
its Trident nuclear deterrent after the cost of building the reactors that
will power the submarine fleet soared.

An extra £235m of taxpayers’ money is needed for the £1.465bn scheme to make and maintain the reactor cores
for the navy’s existing nuclear submarines and the four Dreadnought-class
ballistic missile submarines, the first of which is expected to enter
service in 2028.

Last week a government watchdog gave the project a damning “red” warning. The rating – the severest possible – by officials at the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA), which reports to the Cabinet
Office and Treasury, means a successful delivery of the project “appe ars
to be unachievable” under the original budget and that “there are major
issues on project definition, schedule, budget, quality and/or benefits
delivery, which at this stage do not appear to be manageable or

July 26, 2017 Posted by | UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

3 big errors in UK’s debate about Euratom

Mark Johnson’s Blog 23rd July 2017, In the current UK debate about Euratom, there are three common errors.

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

Remarkable success of Scotland’s wind power in 2017

Independent 24th July 2017, In the first six months of 2017 enough power was generated to supply more
than all of Scotland’s national demand for six days. Wind power output in
Scotland has helped set a new record for the first half of the year,
according to an independent conservation group.

Analysis by WWF Scotland of data provided by WeatherEnergy found wind turbines provided around
1,039,001MWh of electricity to the National Grid during June. Renewable
energy figures show the power generated last month was enough to supply the
electrical needs equivalent to 118 per cent of Scottish households or
nearly three million homes.

In the first six months of 2017 enough power was generated to supply more than all of Scotland’s national demand for six
days. Turbines provided 6,634,585MWh of electricity to the National Grid,
which analysts say could on average supply the electrical needs of 124 per
cent of Scottish households, or more than three million homes.

Dr Sam Gardner, acting director of WWF Scotland, said: “The first six months of
2017 have certainly been incredible for renewables, with wind turbines
alone helping to ensure millions of tonnes of climate-damaging carbon
emissions were avoided. “Scotland is continuing to break records on
renewable electricity, attracting investment, creating jobs and tackling
climate change.

July 26, 2017 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

Wind farms subsidy-free and half the cost of Hinkley nuclear power station to build

Drop in wind energy costs adds pressure for government rethink

Tories urged to look at onshore windfarms which can be built as cheaply as gas plants and deliver the same power for half the cost of Hinkley Point, says Arup, Guardian,Adam Vaughan, 24 July 17, Onshore windfarms could be built in the UK for the same cost as new gas power stations and would be nearly half as expensive as the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant, according to a leading engineering consultant.

Arup found that the technology has become so cheap that developers could deliver turbines for a guaranteed price of power so low that it would be effectively subsidy-free in terms of the impact on household energy bills.

France’s EDF was awarded a contract for difference – a top-up payment – of £92.50 per megawatt hour over 35 years for Hinkley’s power, or around twice the wholesale price of electricity.

By contrast, Arup’s report found that windfarms could be delivered for a maximum of £50-55 per MWh across 15 years.

ScottishPower, which commissioned the analysis, hopes to persuade the government to reconsider its stance on onshore windfarms, which the Conservatives effectively blocked in 2015 by banning them from competing for subsidies and imposing new planning hurdles.

Keith Anderson, the firm’s chief operating officer, told the Guardian that onshore wind could help the UK meet its climate targets, was proven in terms of being easy to deliver, and was now “phenomenally competitive” on price.

“If you want to control the cost of energy, and deliver energy to consumers and to businesses across the UK at the most competitive price, why would you not want to use this technology? This report demonstrates it’s at the leading edge of efficiency,” he said.

The big six energy firm believes that with a cap on top-up payments so close to the wholesale price, onshore windfarms would be effectively subsidy-free – but the guaranteed price would be enough to de-risk projects and win the investment case for them.

“What we are asking for is a mechanism that underpins the investment risk,” said Anderson.

The group believes that any political sting for Tory MPs concerned about public opposition to turbines in English shires would be removed because such a low guaranteed price would see only the windiest sites coming in cheap enough – which means windfarms in Scotland.

“You put these projects in the right place, you will get the correct level of resource out of them to keep the costs down and you will get public acceptance of people liking them,” Anderson said, citing the example of the company’s huge Whitelee windfarm near Glasgow.

Dr Robert Gross, director of the centre for energy policy and technology at Imperial College, said: “Onshore wind has been coming in at remarkably low prices internationally, so a contract for difference price of around £50-60 per MWh looks perfectly feasible for a good location in the UK, one of the windiest countries in Europe.

“Windfarms generally need fixed price contracts in order to secure finance, otherwise volatile electricity prices can make investing in wind risky.”

The Conservative manifesto was seen by some in industry as softening the party’s stance on onshore wind, saying that it did not believe “more large-scale onshore wind power is right for England” but not mentioning Wales and Scotland, which have some of the best potential sites.

The party also promised a review of the cost of energy which the Guardian revealed last week was likely to be led by the University of Oxford economist Dieter Helm, a critic of the cost of today’s renewable and nuclear power technologies.

However, Anderson said he saw the report, due in October, as a good opportunity.

“I would find it surprising if anybody else doing a costs review of the energy sector comes to a fundamentally different argument [to the Arup report],” he said.

Leo Murray, of climate change charity 10:10, said: “It looks increasingly absurd that the Conservatives have effectively banned Britain’s cheapest source of new power.”

July 26, 2017 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

Financially unachievable – UK govt’s £43 billion plans to replace the Trident nuclear weapons system

Plans to replace Trident slammed as “unachievable” by Westminster watchdog, THE UK Government’s £43 billion plans to replace the Trident nuclear weapons system and build a new fleet of nuclear-powered submarines for the Clyde are “in doubt” or “unachievable”, according to a high-powered Westminster spending watchdog.

A new report from the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) to the Cabinet Office and the Treasury in London has condemned three major nuclear projects run by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for being poorly managed, over-budget and beset by technical problems.

The financial rating for a submarine reactor manufacturing plant has been sharply downgraded for 2017, while two other nuclear submarine projects have had “major risks” every year for the last three years. All of the IPA’s assessment of a fourth £20bn plan to upgrade Trident warheads has been kept secret for national security reasons.

To try and combat the problems the MoD has launched a major reorganisation and set up a new Submarine Delivery Agency. It has also renamed the Trident replacement programme Dreadnought, and engaged in “rebaselining” to delay project delivery.

The IPA report, which covers 143 projects run by 17 UK Government departments, was posted online last week. Buried in a table and spreadsheet released at the same time were damning indictments of the MoD’s flagship nuclear projects.

A £1.7bn project to build new submarine reactor manufacturing plants at Rolls Royce in Derby called Core Production Capability is given the IPA’s worst rating of ‘red’ for 2017. “Successful delivery of the project appears to be unachievable,” said IPA.

“There are major issues with project definition, schedule, budget, quality and/or benefits delivery, which at this stage do not appear to be manageable or resolvable. The project may need re-scoping and/or its overall viability reassessed.”

The reactor plants were £250 million over budget and needed “rebaselining” to meet target dates, IPA said. It had previously rated the plants as “amber” in 2015 and 2016, meaning they they had “significant issues” requiring management attention.

The £31.6bn project to build four new nuclear-armed Dreadnought submarines to replace Trident and a £9.9bn programme to build seven new conventionally-armed nuclear-powered Astute-class submarines were both rated as “amber/red” for the third year running. All the submarines are due to be based at Faslane on the Gareloch near Helensburgh.

According to the IPA an amber/red rating suggests the schemes may not be viable. “Successful delivery of the project is in doubt, with major risks or issues apparent in a number of key areas,” it said.

“Urgent action is needed to address these problems and/or assess whether resolution is feasible.”

Three of the Astute submarines have been delivered to the MoD, and four are still to be completed. “Overall affordability remains the programme’s key challenge,” said the IPA.

The date when the nuclear-armed Dreadnought submarines are currently scheduled to be ready to replace ageing Trident boats has been kept secret. The Vanguard-class submarines that carry Trident nuclear missiles have already had their lives extended from 25 to 38 years.

The IPA has also assessed the financial viability of the MoD’s £20bn Nuclear Warhead Capability Sustainment Programme to upgrade the weapons. But its verdict has been deleted from its report on the grounds that it is exempt from freedom of information law under national security and defence provisions.

The Scottish National Party argued that Trident costs were escalating out of control. “A billion here – a billion there – to add to the bill for these weapons of mass destruction,” said SNP defence spokesperson, Stewart McDonald MP.

“The Westminster obsession with Trident is already squeezing conventional defence expenditure as everything else is sacrificed for these redundant, eye-wateringly expensive weapons. The Tories need to get a grip on costs if they insist on Trident renewal.”

Arthur West, chair of the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, pointed out that MoD projects kept going substantially over budget. “The Trident programme in particular continues to be a shambles from a cost point of view,” he said.

The Nuclear Information Service, which monitors nuclear activities, warned that the UK was going to encounter more problems building a new generation of nuclear weapons. “The delays and cost increases that we are already seeing cast further doubt on the MoD’s ability to deliver these projects on time and within budget,” said the group’s research manager, David Cullen.

The MoD has set aside a “contingency” of £10bn in case replacing the four Trident submarines costs more that the estimated £31bn. There were matters relating to nuclear weapons that it could not discuss openly, it said.

“These ratings reflect the complexity and scale of delivering the most advanced submarines ever commissioned by the Royal Navy, the ultimate guarantee of our national security,” stated an MoD spokesperson.

“We are determined to get our submarine programmes right. That’s why we have established a new Director General Nuclear sponsor organisation and a new Submarine Delivery Agency.”

July 24, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

We are actually on the cusp of the greatest energy revolution in history.

Morning Star 21st July 2017, Reading headlines about Donald Trump pulling the US out of the Paris climate deal, Middle East heatwaves and the rampaging activities of the Gulf oil powers, you could be forgiven for thinking the world is crashingtoward a final oil-fuelled armaggedon.

But according to renewable energy investment experts, we are actually on the cusp of the greatest energy
revolution in history. The cost of renewables like solar and cell batteries for electric vehicles are making the carbon-based economy obsolete, with the turning point only a few years away.

Tony Seba, Stanford University professor and energy futurist, sees oil consumption collapsing after 2020
due to disruptive technologies and the fact that renewables are beating the old polluting energies where it matters most: market price. “The age of centralised, command-and-control, extraction-resource-based energy sources
(oil, gas, coal and nuclear) will not end because we run out of petroleum, natural gas, coal, or uranium,” he told investment specialists Southbank Research. “It will end because these energy sources, the business models
they employ, and the products that sustain them will be disrupted by superior technologies, product architectures and business models.

Compelling new technologies such as solar, wind, electric vehicles, and autonomous (self-driving) cars will disrupt and sweep away the energy industry as we know it. For the left and Labour to reap the benefits of these technology revolutions it must embrace the renewable sector, and not make the mistake of focusing purely on distribution, while leaving control
of the energy and transport technology to the market. Public ownership of energy utilities can be part of a planned energy revolution in which we collectively reap the benefits of decentralised non-carbon based energy
systems and resist the rent-seeking plans of monopoly capital.

July 24, 2017 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

Britain’s nuclear problem with Euratom might bring the whole edifice of Brexit crashing down

New European 21st July 2017, The Euratom row lays bare the innate flaws of Brexit. But it also gives pro-Europeans their biggest chance yet to regain the initiative. Our politicians have belatedly woken up to the fact that amongst the many complex implications of Brexit are some very serious issues to do with nuclear safety, nuclear waste and nuclear medicine.

These arise because the government’s Hard Brexit plan entails leaving the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) which, in turn, arises because although Euratom is not part of the EU it falls within the jurisdiction of the ECJ. Although the ECJ has in fact made very few judgments regarding Euratom, Theresa May has made leaving all forms of its jurisdiction a non-negotiable red line, and so leaving Euratom was included in both the Article 50 letter and the parliamentary Act which authorised her to send that letter.

This may now lead to a parliamentary rebellion amongst Tory MPs against, at least, this aspect of Brexit, meaning it is possible the government will not have a majority for it.

But what is happening with Euratom points up very sharply a whole series of extremely significant questions about Brexit in general. Perhaps the most important question – the nuclear question, so to speak – is that given there are very strong and obvious reasons for avoiding the chaos, damage, cost and complexity of leaving Euratom then do these not apply even more strongly to the entire matter of leaving the EU?

Could Euratom be the first major crack that will bring down the whole ill-conceived edifice of Brexit?

July 24, 2017 Posted by | politics international, UK | Leave a comment

Britons unaware of the dangers of radioactive waste transport, but campaigners protest

Radiation Free Lakeland 22nd July 2017, Braving the rain in Carlisle today campaigners went to bear witness to the Nuclear Industry’s whitewashing of its seemingly never ending transports of mountains of spent fuel and nuclear materials.

The day is a great draw for thousands of railway enthusiasts who are in love with the diesel
engines. Many are unaware of the dangerous cargo of nuclear fuel, even those who live in Carlisle.

Created in 1994 by British Nuclear Fuels Ltd (now the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority) to take over British Rail’s handling of nuclear material. DRS has since diversified into other freight operations including food. This diversification serves to take the focus away from the main purpose which is the transport of nuclear materials (the only publicly owned railway we are allowed to have is that bearing nuclear freight!)

July 24, 2017 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

South Korea hoping to market their nuclear wares to Britain

Koreans target £10bn Welsh nuclear plant, John Collingridge July 23 2017,  The Sunday Times A Korean state-owned power giant is drawing up plans to buy a slice of a new £10bn nuclear plant in north Wales.

July 24, 2017 Posted by | marketing, South Korea, UK | Leave a comment

No prospect of Britain sending nuclear wastes back to Europe

Curious confusion over British threat to dump nuclear materials on EU     Letter to the Financial Times 21 July 17 

Your report “UK issues coded warning to Brussels over nuclear waste” (Financial Times, 20 July; is based on a curious confusion and a worrying level of ignorance by anonymous so-called nuclear experts your reporters say have advised the UK Government.
It a is both an empty and, frankly, a totally counter-productive threat to return fissile materials ( and radioactive wastes)  to countries of origin in the EU, as part of a sui-disant  negotiating  posture on Brexit by the UK, in order to  “
On 19 January this year, the UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)  announced it  had agreed to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) taking ownership of 600 kg of material previously owned by a Spanish utility, and  of 5 kg of material previously owned by a German organisation.
BEIS asserted that “These transactions, which have been agreed by the Euratom Supply Agency, will not result in any new plutonium being brought into the UK, and will not therefore increase the overall amount of plutonium in the UK.” adding  it had “agreed to these transactions on the grounds that they offer a cost-effective and beneficial arrangement, which allows the UK to gain national control over more of the civil plutonium located in the UK, and facilitates conclusion of outstanding contracts with the Spanish and German” (
receding this, three years ago, on 3 July 2014 the UK announced that it had struck an agreement with German and Swedish governments to take title to 140 kgs of plutonium in the former case, and 800 kgs in the latter, arising from the reprocessing at Sellafield and management at Dounreay respectively of spent nuclear fuel from the two nations.

And, earlier, in April 2013, BEIS’s predecessor department, DECC, announced in a statement on management of oversees owned plutonium   it was taking over 750 kg of plutonium belonging to German utilities, 1,850 kg previously loaned from France, and 350 kg from Dutch firm GKN. At the same time, 650 kg of plutonium stored at Sellafield was transferred from German to Japanese ownership.(

 A similar deal with Germany in in 2012 saw the UK take ownership of  4,000 kgs of plutonium. (
Thus the overseas ownership of plutonium in the UK has gradually been transferred to the UK. Thus there is no prospect of any ship sailing towards  Antwerp (or any other EU port) as the nuclear expert cited fancifully imagined.
It is possible that some of reprocessing waste arising from the chemical separation of imported foreign spent  nuclear fuel at Sellafield could be returned-to-sender in a fit of pique  by DexEU. However, BEIS has already- through its predecessor department- indicated it wanted to adopt a policy of substitution” based on “radiotoxic equivalence” to  the reprocessing nuclear waste stockpile to minimize the volumes of waste shipped back to continental Europe.
A BEIS official told me at a nuclear policy forum meeting of interested non-governmental parties on 18 July that the department has a team of dedicated staff looking in detail at all the ramifications of withdrawal from Euratom for UK nuclear policy. Perhaps DexEU officials should consult these in-house experts over Euratom before issuing  empty threats.

July 22, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, politics international, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

UK govt to exempt polluting industries from contributing to renewables, and cuts subsidies to wind and dolar

Independent 20th July 2017, The Government is planning to give some of the UK’s most polluting
industries a £130m exemption from helping to fund new renewable
technologies, which will “heap costs” onto small companies and households,
environmentalists have warned.

Subsidies for the two cheapest forms of green electricity, onshore wind and solar, have been respectively scrapped
and slashed to the bone, but financial support is still available for
offshore wind and other emerging technologies – to a large degree because
of the potential benefits to the economy.

This is funded by electricity bill payers and the Government has expressed concern about the effect on
“energy intensive industries”. According to the new plan, these companies
would be given an exemption because having to pay extra “can undermine

However Gareth Redmond-King, head of climate and energy
policy at WWF-UK, pointed out that this “disappointing decision” would mean
other bill payers would end up paying more and reward firms that are
contributing more than most to global warming.

July 22, 2017 Posted by | politics, renewable, UK | Leave a comment

Decentralised renewable energy is benefiting businesses

Edie 20th July 2017, Businesses that invest in decentralised energy systems can enjoy the triple benefit of economic value, security of supply and “telling a good story”, the new chief executive of community energy supplier Mongoose Energy has told edie. In his previous role as head of international NGO the Climate Group, Mark Kenber led the RE100 scheme which gets firms to source 100% renewable electricity.

It was revealed by edie earlier this month that the initiative was targeting 500 members by 2020 after passing the 100-member milestone. Kenber, who took the reins at Wiltshire-based Mongoose Energy in April, welcomed the growing number of businesses recognising the financial benefits of sourcing renewable energy.

He cited Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with local suppliers as one of the increasingly popular methods for
companies to meet renewable energy targets, and also improve CSR credentials. “Businesses sign up to RE100 for broadly financial reasons, they know the economics stack up,” Kenber said. “And if you can get a lot of CSR benefit from it, with a local store buying from the localcommunity, it’s a really good story. A lot of them are looking at that. Now
you can get competitive prices which work for both partners.–Localised-energy-will-revolutionise-the-way-businesses-source-power—/

July 22, 2017 Posted by | decentralised, UK | Leave a comment

Britain tried to block European Union energy efficiency rules

Politico 18th July 2017, Negotiations over Britain’s exit from the EU got underway in earnest this
week, but that doesn’t mean that the U.K. is withdrawing from other EU
business. Far from it. It has emerged that British ministers and officials
lobbied hard against a European Commission plan on energy efficiency, even
though the rules might never apply to the U.K.

Assuming it leaves the EU as planned in March 2019. Britain opposed a compromise deal on future EU
energy efficiency rules during a long and difficult meeting of EU energy
ministers last month, pushing the Commission to water down its proposals.

Richard Harrington, a junior minister at the U.K.’s Department for
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, told the Energy Council meeting
in June that the U.K. was “disappointed” with Brussels’ proposal to
boost the target to 30 percent.

He said the British government “cannot support” the proposed compromise on energy efficiency because “we do
not believe it strikes the right balance to provide sufficient flexibility to reach our ambitions.”

The energy efficiency rules are part of a wider package of proposals meant to accelerate the EU’s transition to clean
energy, and while the European Commission is pushing for an inter-institutional deal on all eight parts of the package by the end of 2018, officials doubt that is realistic.

The move to block strong energy efficiency rules is creating “a lot of bad feelings” among other EU
countries, especially since Britain “will need all the friends it can
get” after Brexit, said Jonathan Gaventa, director at think tank E3G.

July 22, 2017 Posted by | ENERGY, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

UK’s nuclear clean-up to cost £119 billion and take 120 years

NDA 19th July 2017, The Nuclear Provision is the best estimate of how much it will cost to clean up 17 of the UK’s earliest nuclear sites over a programme lasting around 120 years. The 2017 forecast is that future clean-up across the UK will cost around £119 billion spread across the next 120 years or so. This is broadly unchanged (increased by £2bn) from the previous year’s estimate.

July 21, 2017 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

UK threatens to return radioactive waste to EU without nuclear deal

Brexit department warns EU counterparts it will ‘return waste to its country of origin’ if an agreement on nuclear cooperation cannot be reached, Guardian, Daniel Boffey 20 July 17, Britain has warned the EU that it could return boatloads of radioactive waste back to the continent if the Brexit talks fail to deliver an agreement on nuclear regulation.

In what is being taken in Brussels as a thinly veiled threat, a paper setting out the UK position for the negotiations stresses the right “to return radioactive waste … to its country of origin” should negotiations collapse.

The UK paper, detailing the British government’s hopes for future cooperation once it leaves the Euratom treaty, at the same time as leaving the EU, further stresses the “strong mutual interest in ensuring close cooperation in the future”.

Britain currently has a 126-tonne stockpile of radioactive materials originating from EU countries such as Germany, Italy and Sweden.

The state-owned Sellafield plant in Cumbria has been reprocessing spent nuclear field from across Europe since the 1970s, producing reusable uranium, plutonium and radioactive waste. Almost a fifth of the UK’s stockpile of civilian plutonium at Sellafield originates from overseas…….

Britain has signalled that while it is leaving the Euraotom treaty, of which it has been a member since 1957, it wants to continue to cooperate on nuclear regulation after the UK leaves the union in March 2019. The treaty regulates the civilian use of atomic technology and critics of the government’s position fear there is a threat of disruption to UK supplies of nuclear reactor parts, fuel and medical isotopes vital for the treatment of cancer if a new agreement outside membership of the EU is not reached……

The EU insist, however, that such cooperation on nuclear regulation would require the UK to recognise the jurisdiction of the European court of justice, which is a red line for Theresa May…….

July 21, 2017 Posted by | politics international, UK | 1 Comment