nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Mismanagement and incompetence as the nuclear industry plunders Britain’s public purse

Sellafield on seaNuclear plundering of the public purse – the Sellafield and Moorside billions, Ecologist, Martin Forwood 13th December 2016 

While the government is cutting vital public expenditure across the board there’s one industry for which no costs are too great, writes Martin Forwood. The price of an ‘evaporator’ at the Sellafield nuclear complex is escalating towards £1 billion, while billions more of taxpayer finance are being lined up to finance cooling systems, power lines and transport links for the adjacent Moorside new-build nuclear power plant.

The Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s elevation to the US Presidency have turned the international status quo upside down.

But some things – like the nuclear industry’s insatiable appetite for taxpayers’ money – never change.

Sellafield’s Evaporator D project, with NuGen’s Moorside in hot pursuit, is a prime example as it limps along, sustained only by ever increasing helpings from the public purse.

With nuclear power rightly acknowledged as being a hideously expensive way of boiling a kettle, then Evaporator D – known to the Sellafield workforce as the ‘Big Kettle’ – must be breaking all records.

Initially costed at £90 million (2007) and originally due to come into operation in 2010/11, the cost has increased eight-fold to £740m – as at September 2015. With a ‘challenging’ operational date currently pencilled in as 2017/18, and with updated figures yet to be published, the sky is clearly the limit for Evaporator D.

The tortured progress of the new Evaporator, designed to reduce (by evaporation) the volume of the dangerous liquid High Level Wastes (HLW) produced by spent fuel reprocessing, reveals a catalogue of project mismanagement and eye-watering cost hikes that show little sign of abating.

Promoted specifically by BNFL and subsequently by the NDA as being urgently needed to support continued reprocessing operations in the B205 (magnox fuel) and THORP (oxide fuel) plant, Evaporator D is currently being shoe-horned into the HLW complex.

There it will join its three fellow but semi-crippled evaporators (A,B & C) whose increasing unreliability through age and internal corrosion had underpinned the urgency for Evaporator D.

A tale of mismanagement and incompetence

Despite claiming not to recognise the £90m estimate of 2007, the NDA was nevertheless happy to confirm a price tag of £100m in 2008, since when the cost of Evaporator D has risen in almost annual increments – with the biggest hike to over £600m.

That number comes in a damning report by the National Audit Office that was highly critical of the NDA’s project management and that of its subsequently sacked contractor Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) who had acted for the NDA as Sellafield’s Parent Body Organisation since 2008. As the NAO reported,

“Gaps in the capability of subcontractors in the supply chain to undertake work to the standards required for nuclear installations have had direct consequences for the speed and efficiency of project delivery. For example, the Authority estimates that £50 million of the £244 million increase in the cost of evaporator D and part of the 18-month delay since 2009 is because the subcontractor lacked experience in welding to the necessary nuclear quality standards.

“The Authority was aware of these risks when it approved the start of construction. It relied on Sellafield Limited’s assurances that its subcontractor could manage the risks. The Authority did not obtain assurance from Sellafield Limited that it had put in place appropriate quality assurance and training.”

The cramped conditions in and around the HLW complex was a major factor in employing the novel option of having the main elements of the Evaporator built off-site (by Interserve at Ellesmere Port) and delivered by barge to Sellafield beach in the form of 11 modules, the largest weighing 500 tonnes and measuring 12.5 x 7.5 x 27 metres tall. The Evaporator, whose top and bottom sections are shown above being fabricated at Ellesmere Port, will operate in an upright position once installed at Sellafield.

Novel as the option was, it soon fell foul of a range of problems that included a disorganised supply chain, design changes, the quality of module fabrication, and seismic qualification.

With the modules delivered to Sellafield beach and hauled onto site between 2011 and 2013, Evaporator D’s cost increases from 2013 onwards are largely attributed by the NDA to the ‘transfer of incomplete modules to site’. This resulted in extensive additional cutting and welding work being needed – in a confined work space – to connect together the component parts of the Evaporator system.

And now Evaporator D looks set to miss the ‘reprocessing boat’

The greatest irony of all is, of course, that despite the early hullabaloo about its urgent and crucial support role for reprocessing at Sellafield, Evaporator D can be of service to THORP reprocessing (due to finish in 2018) for no more than one year at best.

At worst it will be of service only for THORP’s post-2018 clean out, the remnant days of B205 reprocessing which is due to end around 2020 and other site decommissioning work.

Faced with this prospect and the embarrassing reality that its much vaunted Evaporator D could indeed miss the THORP reprocessing boat for which it was primarily designed, the NDA and Sellafield Ltd damage limitation teams have recently swung into top gear – by stressing the Evaporator’s future decommissioning role through its ability to deal with the larger waste particles expected to be encountered during the coming years of clean-up work.

For a project whose £740m cost will undoubtedly escalate further, aggrieved taxpayers may take some comfort from Sellafield’s 2012 announcement that plans for a fifth (£600m) Evaporator E had been scrapped. But they should now cast a wary eye to NuGen’s new-build project just across the road from Sellafield where the prospect of further pilfering from the public purse is simmering on the back-burner.

Moorside nuclear power plant – another massive drain on taxpayers’ money …….

http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2988449/nuclear_plundering_of_the_public_purse_the_sellafield_and_moorside_billions.html?utm_source=&utm_medium=&utm_campaign=

December 19, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Highland airport runway – unsafe for planes carrying radioactive trash?

Airplane dangerflag-UKCalls to ban ‘unsafe’ nuclear flights from Highland airport   Sunday Herald, Rob Edwards, 18 Dec 16 FLIGHTS loaded with weapons-grade uranium that are being launched from a Highland airport are in dangerous breach of runway safety limits, according to documents released under Freedom of Information (FoI) law.

The revelations have led to angry accusations from politicians and environmental groups that a “horrific gamble” is being taken on these flights and calls for the nuclear transports to be banned immediately.

Bombs-grade uranium from Dounreay nuclear plant in Caithness is being flown from Wick John O’Groats Airport to America aboard 130-tonne C-17 US Air Force planes, which according to the documents, are too heavy for most of the runway.

The company that runs the airport denies these accusations and says the runway complies with current industry standards.

A deal to fly 700 kilograms of highly-enriched uranium waste from Dounreay to the US was announced by former UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, at a nuclear security summit in Washington DC in March. The first flight took place from Wick airport under armed guard on September 17 – and more are expected next year.

There were earlier reports that Wick’s runway was too short for C-17 aircraft and that the airport’s rescue and firefighting capability was inadequate. The flight from the US in September landed at RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, which experts say could have been to minimise the weight of fuel it was carrying for its short hop to and from Wick.

Now detailed technical reports obtained by the Sunday Herald disclose that the runway may not be strong enough to withstand the flights. Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) had commissioned the US engineering firm AECOM to examine the structural suitability of Wick’s runway for C-17s, and it produced a 46-page report in October 2015.

Under safety standards used by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the report found that most of the runway was deficient. “The movements of the C-17 will not meet the necessary criteria for normal overloading operations as stated in the guidance and thus should only be allowed in emergency situations,” it said……….

John Finnie MSP, transport spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, called for the flights to be suspended pending a safety review. “The public will rightly be alarmed by this disclosure,” he said.

“It clearly suggests that no legitimate risk assessment has been undertaken and a lower standard is being applied simply because of what the cargo is. I intend raising this matter in the Scottish Parliament.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland described the released documents as damning. “It is almost beyond belief that these flights are using a runway that is not fit for purpose,” said the environmental group’s director, Dr Richard Dixon.

“Gambling against the horrific consequences of one of these flights crashing is bad enough but vastly increasing the risk of a crash by using an unsuitable airport is almost too stupid to believe. Whoever thought this was an acceptable plan should lose their job and these flights should be banned immediately.”

Tor Justad, chairperson of the campaign group Highlands Against Nuclear Transport, demanded an “absolute assurance” that the C-17 aircraft would not damage the runway or suffer an accident. “Safety standards are being compromised to allow the uranium flights to go ahead,” he said………….. http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14973582.Calls_to_ban___39_unsafe__39__nuclear_flights_from_Highland_airport/?ref=rss

December 19, 2016 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Pro nuclear UK Prime Minister Theresa May heading towards quiet public subsidising of new nuclear stations

any UK financing would be “off balance sheet” to avoid inflating public debts
The UK’s willingness to consider government involvement reflects a change in thinking since Theresa May replaced David Cameron as prime minister last June. Her enthusiasm for “industrial strategy” — a term enshrined in Mr Clark’s formal job title — has already been widely interpreted as signalling a greater openness to intervention in business affairs.
may-theresaPublic finance sought for Welsh nuclear plant, Hitachi in talks over state funding for Wylfa in Anglesey by:  and  in London, Ft.com, 16 Dec 16  

Hitachi is in talks with the Japanese and UK governments about potential state financing for the multibillion-pound nuclear power station it is planning to build in Wales.

Government equity, loans and credit guarantees are among the options being explored by the Japanese conglomerate and officials in London and Tokyo, according to people briefed on the matter.

Any UK public finance for the power plant at Wylfa in Anglesey would represent a major change in policy; the British government has for years resisted the idea of exposing taxpayers’ money to the heavy expense and high risks involved in building nuclear reactors.

Philip Hammond, UK chancellor, is in Japan this week, and Greg Clark, business secretary, is expected to visit next week, with the Hitachi nuclear project high on the agenda for both.

Following a meeting with government officials and business leaders in Tokyo on Thursday, Mr Hammond that financing for the nuclear power project in Wales could total around £12bn, of which a portion would be contributed by Japan. Negotiations are continuing but bankers indicated the Japanese contribution could be on the order of ¥1tn ($8.5bn).

People involved in the process said talks still “have a long way to go” and it was far from certain that a deal with the two governments would be reached.

One person said that any UK financing would be “off balance sheet” to avoid inflating public debts. This could include the government taking a direct minority stake alongside Hitachi provided it did not bring the whole project on to the Treasury’s books. Japanese government support is likely to come in the form of loans.

UK government officials said they were “looking at options” for how the Wylfa project should be financed.

The UK’s willingness to consider government involvement reflects a change in thinking since Theresa May replaced David Cameron as prime minister last June. Her enthusiasm for “industrial strategy” — a term enshrined in Mr Clark’s formal job title — has already been widely interpreted as signalling a greater openness to intervention in business affairs.

Hitachi acquired Horizon Nuclear Power, the company planning to build the Wylfa plant, from German utilities Eon and RWE in 2012.

The scheme has been given fresh momentum by the government’s approval in September for the £18bn Hinkley Point nuclear plant in Somerset — a decision which confirmed Mrs May’s support for renewal of the UK’s nuclear power industry……. https://www.ft.com/content/8204883c-c2eb-11e6-9bca-2b93a6856354

December 17, 2016 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Nuclear industry prolongs the delusion that UK’s Hinkley nuclear station is proceeding well

nuclear-dreamflag-UKHinkley Point C Wylfa Newydd  NuClear News No 91, Jan 2017 Back at the Nuclear Industry Association’s annual conference EDF’s Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson tries to keep the delusion going telling delegates that “1,000 workers [are] currently on site” and “first nuclear concrete expected in Q1 2017”

In fact the first pour of concrete (for the reactors) will not start until 2019. At the moment a temporary jetty is being built but it will take about a year to complete and construction of workers’ accommodation may start in 2017. In the meantime about a 100 HGV lorry movements a day are carrying, spoil, limestone, rebar, metal shearing aggregate and plate material. 40 buses a day carry shift workers between Bridgwater and the site, but ironically these buses can’t be used by local residents who have had their local services scrapped.

So there will be two more years of falling renewable costs and rising nuclear costs before construction at Hinkley can get underway in earnest. And two more years of revelations about the mess that EDF and Areva have gotten themselves into. ) http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo91.pdf

December 17, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, UK | Leave a comment

South Korea might join the throng marketing their costly nuclear reactors to Britain

fighters-marketing-1
South Korea says minister, British counterpart discussed nuclear power cooperation http://www.reuters.com/article/us-southkorea-nuclear-uk-idUSKBN14508N 15 Dec 16 South Korea’s energy minister Joo Buy-S-Korea-nukesHyung-hwan discussed cooperation on British nuclear energy projects in a meeting in London on Thursday with Britain’s business minister Greg Clark, South Korea’s energy ministry said in a statement.

The statement from Seoul didn’t disclose details of discussions on nuclear energy, but said the two countries will hold a follow-up meeting in the first half of next year.

A British government statement issued said the two countries underlined a commitment at the meeting to keep working together on science, innovation and technology, without mentioning nuclear power.

Korea, Asia’s fourth-largest economy and the world’s fifth-biggest user of nuclear power, is keen to export its nuclear reactor technology, developed through state-run utility Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO).

Earlier this year, Britain gave the green light to the $24 billion Hinkley Point C project, its first new nuclear power plant in decades.

Along with that project, NuGen, a joint venture between Toshiba and French utility company Engie, plans to build three reactors at the Moorside site on the coast of Cumbria, in northwest England.

According to Seoul’s statement on Friday, Korea’s energy minister also had a meeting with NuGen chief Tom Samson during his British visit. The minister said Korean participation in Nugen projects would contribute to their success.

Earlier this year a person familiar with the situation told Reuters KEPCO had engaged in talks with Toshiba and Engie about buying a stake NuGen. A NuGen spokesman declined to comment on whether talks were taking place with KEPCO, which also declined to comment.

(Reporting by Jane Chung; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

December 17, 2016 Posted by | marketing, South Korea, UK | 1 Comment

Japanese government to provide $8.5 billion) for a UK nuclear power plant project in Wales

Tax - payersJapan, Hitachi to stump up $8.5 billion for Horizon nuclear project in Wales: source http://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-nuclear-hitachi-idUSKBN1440BA   By Takaya Yamaguchi | TOKYO, 15 Dec 16 The Japanese government and a Hitachi Ltd (6501.T) unit will compile a package worth around 1 trillion yen ($8.5 billion) for a UK nuclear power plant project, a government official involved in the project said on Thursday.

The Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the Development Bank of Japan will provide financing for the project, the official told Reuters.

The funding plans are a boost for the project, one of several new nuclear plants planned in the UK, which is aiming to replacing its ageing fleet of atomic reactors.

Hitachi’s Horizon unit plans to construct at least 5.4 gigawatts of new nuclear capacity across two sites in Britain.

The funds will be provided for the first plant planned at Wylfa Newydd in Wales.

The Nikkei newspaper said Hitachi would invest about 10 percent of the expected 19 billion pounds ($24 billion) cost of the project. A Hitachi official declined to comment, saying the amount has not been announced.

($1 = 117.2600 yen)

($1 = 0.7971 pounds)

December 17, 2016 Posted by | Japan, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

Engie, (formerly GDF Suez) might pull out of UK nuclear power plan at Moorside in Cumbria

scrutiny-on-costsflag-UKMoorside   NuClear News No 91, Jan 2017  Unfortunately for nuclear supporters utilities in the UK are, like PGE, beginning to realise that the old utility model is dying. Engie, formerly GDF Suez, which owns 40% of NuGen, the Company which wants to build three new nuclear reactors at Moorside in Cumbria, next to Sellafield, is fully aware that “the future is going to be much more about decentralized energy”. The company is roughly one third owned by the French Government, and is the parent company of the Belgian utility, Electrabel, which operates all seven of Belgium’s nuclear reactors. But it is now trying to abandon its new reactor projects in Turkey and England because it no longer has the resources to finance such expensive projects. (8)

The Chief Executive of Engie UK, Wilfrid Petrie, says “It’s very difficult today to build a new power plant [in the UK] with current market conditions”. Instead, the Company offers localised services that could include installing insulation, district heating and solar panels on existing buildings as well as supplying gas and electricity. “We see the emergence of a new type of organisation within cities,” he says. Engie, he believes, can build on its relationships with councils and other commercial customers to expand its British business by developing local, decentralised energy in urban areas, where demand is high. “We don’t want to sell a huge amount of energy. Our big focus is on the demand side. The future is going to be much more about decentralized energy,” he says. (9)

If Engie does pull out of the NuGen consortium it will make it even harder to finance the construction of three new reactors at Moorside. NuGen has already told the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee that it is hoping that certain non-nuclear elements of the project might be paid for by the UK Government. Despite casting its net far and wide in an attempt to drum up the required finance the consortium is clearly struggling to attract support. Hoping that the taxpayer will rescue the project, NuGen’s CEO Tom Samson told the House of Lords that one non-nuclear element of the project has been identified by the consortium as the seawater system required to cool Moorside’s reactors. Samson hopes that major ‘civil works’ such as the removal of excavation spoil, could also qualify for Government largesse. There’s also a suggestion there might be Government assistance to improve the transport infrastructure of Cumbria. The very notion that the Treasury should ride to the rescue when hospital and community services in West Cumbria are being increasingly starved of Government support is not going down too well in some quarters. (10) http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo91.pdf

December 17, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, UK | Leave a comment

Confusion in , and opposition to, Bradwell’s Chinese-built nuclear plant plans

questionflag-UKBradwell Notes NuClear News No 91, Jan 2017 Maldon District and Essex County Council are paving the way for Bradwell’s Chinese-built nuclear plant by offering free Mandarin lessons to councillors. Professor Andy Blowers, chairman of the Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG), said “it may be that neither council possesses expertise in understanding what is proposed. And learning Mandarin will not compensate for that.” (1)

BANNG has been opposing new nuclear development at Bradwell for the last 8 years, on the grounds that the low-lying site is totally unsuitable for such development and, now, also because of concerns, shared with others, regarding security issues and Chinese involvement in such sensitive UK infrastructure. Professor Andy Blowers said: “There is a long process ahead before any new nuclear power station can be built at Bradwell. The rigorous Generic Design Assessment has not yet commenced and then there will be a planning process in which Maldon District and Essex County Councils will be consultees. By celebrating in any way, the County Council potentially compromises its disinterested role as a consulted planning authority. The suggestion that there is something to celebrate could give the impression that a new Chinese power station will simply be waved through”. (2)

Meanwhile the NDA’s policy of spreading nuclear waste around the country to save money continues. Essex County Council has voted to lift restrictions imposed only 4 years ago and to allow Magnox, operators of the Bradwell site, to transfer Intermediate-Level Waste (ILW) from Dungeness and Sizewell to the Bradwell Interim Storage Facility (ISF). The restriction had decreed that only Bradwell-generated waste could be stored there. Bradwell will now become a regional nuclear waste store for the indefinite future and a precedent for the import of further wastes may have been set. The planning approval means that the long-held principle of selfsufficiency, whereby each site hosts its own wastes, is contravened. (3)

In a surprise move EDF and Chinese nuclear company CGN have consulted Mersea Island residents over the proposed new nuclear power station at Bradwell. The previous official position was that Mersea Island was in the wrong planning area (despite being much closer to and directly downwind from the site). If people want to share their views on the project they can do so via the website: http://www.bradwellb.co.uk (4)

Sizewell C EDF Energy has launched its stage2 public consultation on the proposals for two EPRs to be built at Sizewell. The consultation is open until 3 February 2017. (1)

Community leaders who met to discuss the proposals agreed that the developers need to offer a better deal for Suffolk. Nearly 80 town and parish representatives along with members of the Joint Local Authority Group (JLAG) concluded that EDF Energy’s stage two consultation for Sizewell C has failed to make enough progress from its proposals four years ago. The key concerns raised at the summit focussed on the proposed accommodation campus, whose location near Therberton is feared to lack the required infrastructure to transport up to 2,400 workers to and from the construction site. Other issues included EDF’s alleged failure to “fully understand the communities of east Suffolk” and their concerns. The summit also heard that EDF’s proposals to have 35 metre high “spoil heaps” would have a significant impact on those living and visiting the area and it was not yet clear what mitigation would be provided. Transport routes for construction material were also said to be unclear, with EDF urged to provide more detail about how much would be brought in by road, sea and rail. (2) http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo91.pdf

December 17, 2016 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, UK | Leave a comment

Anglesey UK: economy stagnates during the struggle to find finance for Wylfa Newydd New Nuclear

hungry-nukes 1flag-UKWylfa Newydd  NuClear News No 91, Jan 2017 “The Government knows that solar and wind will be cheaper by the time Hinkley is generating” says Stop Hinkley spokesperson Roy Pumfrey. “It is blindingly obvious that solar and wind will win through in the end.” (21)

If the French nuclear industry managed to somehow get through its current difficulties ,EDF and China’s state-backed CGN can always appeal to their respective governments to help fund delivery of Hinkley Point C if things go pear-shaped, but Horizon, which is proposing to build two Advanced Boiling Water Reactors at Wylfa on Anglesey and two at Oldbury in Gloucestershire doesn’t have that luxury. Instead it will need to raise much more of its capital funding through attracting private investors – and proving to them it’s a safe bet. Horizon’s CEO Duncan Hawthorne admits this will be a challenge. “Quite honestly, we can’t point to a large parade of successful (nuclear) projects … We have to have a credible story in order to get financial support for the build costs”. He has got to somehow show that it is possible to construct a plant that will guarantee to investors it can be built on time and budget – and be commercially viable. (22) Given that there were only four ABWRs operating anywhere in the world before Fukushima with an average load factor of only 45%, and all have been closed since 2011, this might be a tall order for Hawthorne. (23)

The Japanese government and Hitachi are reported to be putting together a package worth £6.79bn to finance the Wylfa. The total cost of the project is expected to be around £19bn. There has been talk, according to the Nikkei Asian Review of the UK Government shouldering 25% of the cost. Even if that were the case that still leaves £11.5bn to be found from somewhere. (24)

While Wales and the global climate waits for Horizon to prove something that might well be impossible to prove the local economy on Anglesey has been “allowed to stagnate over decades due to a promise that nuclear power would come and save the day”. Robat Idris from People Against Wylfa B says residents are concerned about nuclear waste from the proposed Wylfa Newydd power plant and were not convinced that any new jobs would be for local people. He says focusing efforts on bringing renewable and community energy schemes to Anglesey would offer more long-term benefits. (25) http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo91.pdf

December 17, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, UK | Leave a comment

Japanese government planning to subsidise Britain’s new nuclear build

Tax - payersTokyo eyes ¥1 trillion in financial support for Japanese firms pursuing U.K. nuclear plants http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/12/16/business/tokyo-eyes-%C2%A51-trillion-financial-support-japanese-firms-pursuing-u-k-nuclear-plants/#.WFONt9J97Gg The government is considering offering financial assistance through state-affiliated banks for projects won by Japanese companies for nuclear power plant construction in Britain, sources said Thursday.

Under study is a plan for the Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the Development Bank of Japan to invest in and provide loans to local companies that build and operate nuclear power stations, the sources said.

 The Japanese government hopes to establish a framework for financial assistance totaling about ¥1 trillion within 2017 also by asking major Japanese and British private financial institutions to participate in the scheme, according to the sources.

Visiting British Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond told reporters in Tokyo on Thursday that Britain is holding talks with the Japanese government, Hitachi Ltd. and Toshiba Corp. on a financial support framework for nuclear power plant construction projects in his country.

On the same day, Hammond met with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga to exchange opinions about nuclear plant construction.

British Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary Greg Clark plans to visit Japan as early as next week and hold meetings with officials of Hitachi, Toshiba and the JBIC.

Under the envisaged scheme, the Japanese government expects to offer financial assistance to Horizon Nuclear Power Ltd., a unit of Hitachi, and NuGeneration Ltd., which is under the wing of Toshiba.

December 17, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, Japan, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

Cheap energy storage will change the renewable energy debate

Diagram-energy-storage-1Storage – the missing link NuClear News No 91, Jan 2017  Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) predicts a six-fold increase in investment in energy storage to $8.2bn (£6.7bn) by 2024, and to $250bn (£197bn) by 2040. This massive growth in energy storage will create a “fundamentally different” global power system. This energy storage ‘megashift’ is already beginning to gather pace. The battery market has seen breath-taking levels of growth from utilities over the past 12 months, while non-utilities are increasingly realising that lithium-ion or flow storage systems can act as the perfect accompaniment to onsite renewable energy installation. (11)

Paul Massara, former CEO of RWE nPower, is now CEO of North Star Solar, a new solar PV + battery home energy system start-up. He says that lithium ion batteries for electrical storage are getting cheaper and cheaper, and PV + battery packages are now cost effective in the UK with the right financing package. Cheap, ubiquitous electrical energy storage will lead to a very different world and may change the focus of many of today’s energy policy debates. It is likely to help reduce peak demand, and allow renewables to provide a much higher percentage of electricity demand, especially if they are cheaper than alternative forms of low carbon electricity such as nuclear or fossil fuel with carbon capture and storage. (12)

North Star Solar has set up a joint scheme with the former colliery town of Stanley in Co Durham to offer in-home batteries and solar panels for free to all the town’s 35,000 households. Paul Massara says the combination of rooftop panels, a lithium battery and energy-efficient LED light bulbs will immediately cut power bills by 20%. (13)

The £19m ‘Big Battery’ installed at a sub-station in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire has completed a two-year trial and successfully shown that power storage has the potential to be both technically and commercially viable. (14)

Camden Council has teamed up with Islington and Waltham Forest Councils to deliver a pilot programme to test the potential benefits of solar panels and energy storage systems for residents at risk of fuel poverty. The ’24/7 Solar’ initiative is being part-funded by national fuel poverty charity National Energy Action. The aim of the trial is to see if there is evidence that integrated solar and storage technologies can effectively reduce the energy bills of fuel poor households. (15) Meanwhile in Edinburgh and surrounding towns several housing associations have been working with Sunamp to install solar PV and heat storage ‘batteries’. Surplus solar generated electricity can be diverted to the heat battery and used for hot water or central heating when required later. (16) And in Orkney where renewable energy generators are often curtailed due to the constraints on the distribution of electricity around the Orkney grid, yet fuel poverty levels are at 63%, a new project, launched by Heat Smart Orkney Ltd, is aiming to divert unused renewable energy into affordable heat. (17) The Scottish Government has given a new 400-MW pumped-storage hydro power plant in Dumfriesshire permission to go ahead. (18)

Solar power is expected to be the cheapest form of energy (not just electricity) everywhere in the world by around 2030. Cheap solar panels and advances in storage technology are transforming the world. By 2030 or 2040 solar will be the cheapest way to generate electricity, indeed any form of energy EVERYWHERE. The proportion of global electricity provided by solar is likely to grow from 2% now to at least 50% by 2030. We can see the cost of batteries coming down in price dramatically, but turning surplus solar electricity generating during the summer into something we can put into natural gas networks will probably come soon. Generating hydrogen from water and, using microbes, combining it with carbon dioxide to form methane is the simplest way to do this. (19)

Even offshore wind costs are falling. Swedish utility Vattenfall has agreed to build a giant offshore wind farm in Denmark that would sell power for €49.50 per MWh. Vattenfall has broken its own previous record of €60 per MWh. Once the cost of transmission is included this works out at around £75.50/MWh compared with £100.50/MWh for Hinkley Point C (once inflation has been added to the £92.50 at 2012 prices). (20) http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo91.pdf

December 17, 2016 Posted by | energy storage, UK | Leave a comment

Studyfinds that wind farms have significantly reduced UK’s greenhouse emissions

Brazos Wind Farm, Texas. Photo by Leaflet via a Wiki CC BY-SA 3.0 LicenseWind farms play key role in cutting carbon emissions, study finds https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-12/uoe-wf120916.phpUNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH:  WIND FARMS HAVE MADE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN LIMITING CARBON EMISSIONS FROM OTHER SOURCES OF POWER GENERATION IN GREAT BRITAIN, A STUDY SHOWS.

Power from wind farms prevented the creation of almost 36 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from sources such as coal and gas, in a six-year period – the equivalent of taking 2.3 million cars off the road, analysis of nationwide output shows.

The figures from 2008-2014, analysed in the most accurate study of its kind to date, suggest that a greater investment in wind energy could help meet Scottish and UK government targets for carbon emissions reduction.

Engineers from the University of Edinburgh analysed National Grid figures for the power generated by various sources including wind, coal and gas. Their data detailed generator energy output figures for every half hour, creating a comprehensive picture of how demand over time was met by power from the various sources.

Their study improves on previous estimates because it uses real, rather than estimated, energy output figures and takes into account the inefficiency of individual conventional generators, researchers say. The calculations are complex because energy demand is met from a mix of sources at any one time, and when output from wind turbines increases, a number of different conventional sources may need to decrease their outputs.

The study demonstrates that government estimates for carbon savings underestimated the benefits from wind farms. Over the six year period, 3.4 million more tonnes of greenhouse gases were saved than thought – the equivalent of taking an extra 220,000 cars off the road.

Engineers say their methodology could be applied to give accurate estimates of possible future emissions savings for energy developers, planners and policymakers. They suggest wind power generation could play an increasingly important role in the future energy mix, which could also include carbon capture and storage, marine and nuclear power.

The study, published in Energy Policy, was supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Dr Camilla Thomson, from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Engineering, who led the study, said: “Until now, the impact of clean energy from wind farms was unclear. Our findings show that wind plays an effective role in curbing emissions that would otherwise be generated from conventional sources, and it has a key role to play in helping to meet Britain’s need for power in future.”

December 16, 2016 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

No room for wives in BBC’s staff nuclear cold war bunker

atomic-bomb-ltext-from-the-archivesBBC staff offered chance to survive nuclear holocaust – but wives left at men onlyhome http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/07/23/bbc-staff-offered-chance-to-survive-nuclear-holocaust—but-wive/ Telegraph Reporters 23 JULY 2016 

BBC employees were offered the chance to survive a nuclear holocaust by broadcasting from an underground bunker, but they could not tell their wives, newly released files reveal.

The broadcaster secretly drew up plans during the Cold War for how it would run a Wartime Broadcasting System in the event of a major disaster.

Early versions of the plan – known as the ‘War Book’ – say that staff were “assigned” or “designated” to go underground, but later editions suggest they were “invited”. Chosen workers were informed not to tell their wives or bring them to the bunker, the files released by the BBC reveal.

“My clearest memory is of a discussion about whether people with spouses could bring them along,” Bob Doran, an experienced editor in Radio News in the 1980s, who attended a civil service seminar in Yorkshire said. The answer was no.
BBC bosses planned to set up 11 protected bunkers – known as ‘Regional Seats of Government’ – spread across the UK, each with a studio and five staff from nearby local radio stations.

A bunker at the Engineering Training Department at Wood Norton in Worcestershire would be a headquarters staffed by 90 BBC staff including engineers, announcers, 12 news editors and sub-editors.

The output would be controlled by the government, but the BBC made a collection of cassette tapes of old radio comedies to entertain the public.

Shows chosen to amuse listeners during Armageddon included the Goon Show, Just a Minute and Round the Horne.

December 12, 2016 Posted by | history, media, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

EDF’s nuclear reactor troubles pose another hindrance to UK’s Hinkley project

New blow for Hinkley Point contractor EDF after French safety checks
Safety issues force many reactors offline with warnings of power cuts across France, higher energy prices and a rise in emissions,
Guardian,  and , 4 Dec 16, The company building the UK’s first new nuclear power station for decades is facing questions over the health of its fleet of French nuclear plants after an investigation which has left the country with the lowest level of nuclear power for 10 years and the prospect of power cuts during a cold snap.

Thirteen of Électricité de France’s (EDF) 58 atomic plants are offline, some due to planned maintenance, but most for safety checks ordered by the regulator over anomalies discovered in reactor parts……..

The problems stem from a fault identified last year by the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) in the as-yet-unfinished reactor at north-western France’s Flamanville plant – the same design approved for Hinkley Point C in the UK…….

Nuclear critics believe the situation shows the need for France to diversify away from nuclear and invest more in renewable sources such as wind and solar power, which account for less than 4% of electricity generation, compared with 25% in the UK.

Charlotte Mijeon, of the anti-nuclear group Sortir du Nucléaire (Get Out of Nuclear), said there was a “chain of responsibility” for the crisis in France’s nuclear industry which ranged from the government at the top to subcontracted private suppliers.

“The system of nuclear safety in France has always been limited,” she said. “It starts from the premise that the industrials are honest and the moment there is a problem they will flag it up to the safety authorities and it will be sorted out.” https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/dec/02/hinkley-point-edf-new-crisis-safety-checks-french-nuclear-plants

December 5, 2016 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Britain’s planned new nuclear reactors will produce twice as much highly radioactive trash as now exists

The nuclear industry and government have repeatedly said the volume of nuclear waste produced by new reactors will truthbe small, approximately 10% of the volume of existing wastes; implying this additional waste will not make a significant difference to finding a GDF for the wastes the UK’s nuclear industry has already created. However, the use of volume as a measure of the impact of radioactive waste is highly misleading.

A much better measure would be the likely impact of wastes and spent fuel on the size or “footprint” of a GDF. New reactors will use so-called ‘high burn-up fuel’ which will be much more radioactive than the spent fuel produced by existing reactors. As a result it will generate more heat, so it will need to be allocated more space in the GDF’s disposal chambers. So rather than using volume as a yardstick, the amount of radioactivity in the waste – and the space required in a GDF to deal with it – are more appropriate ways of measuring the impact of nuclear waste from new reactors.

radioactive trashThe activity of existing waste – mostly stored at Sellafield amounts to 4,770,000 TBq. The proposed reactors at Moorside would produce spent fuel and ILW with an activity of around 4,206,012 TBq making a total of 8,976012 TBq stored in Cumbria. However the activity of spent fuel and ILW stored at new reactor sites outwith Cumbria would amount to 15,586,988 TBq – almost twice as much. And if we assume that the reactors at Bradwell goahead it will probably be more than twice as much.

NuClear News No 90 4. Nuclear Waste Updates  The Department of Business, Energy and flag-UKhighly-recommendedIndustrial Strategy – BEIS – (formerly called ‘DECC’) was planning to hold two public consultations, on the draft National Policy Statement for a Geological Disposal Facility and on Working With Communities based on the work of the Community Representation Working Group, this autumn, but the uncertainty caused by recent turbulence in the wider political environment means that these now look likely to be delayed until early 2017.

Energy Minister Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe hailed a “nuclear renaissance” when she addressed the Office for Nuclear Regulation Industry Conference in Cumbria. She said that as well as Hinkley Point C and proposals for new reactors at Moorside the Government is “going further, with proposals to develop 18GW of nuclear power across six sites in the UK.”

She said the Government would be launching a new siting process for a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) in 2017. The Whitehaven News reported that the site for the GDF would almost certainly be in West Cumbria, but this was not in the Minister’s published speech. (1)

Just to finally knock on the head the idea that most of the nuclear waste is in Cumbria already so we might as well build the GDF there, nuClear News has done some number crunching:

Radioactive Waste Management Ltd (RWM) has developed a detailed inventory of radioactive waste for disposal in its proposed GDF which it calls the ‘Derived Inventory’. This inventory is subject to uncertainty due to a range of factors such as uncertainty about the life of the AGR reactors and what happens to the UK’s plutonium inventory, and, of course proposals for new reactors.

The Derived Inventory is therefore updated periodically to take into account new information. RWM published a new 2013 Derived Inventory in July 2015. This can be compared with the previous 2010 Derived Inventory to obtain further information about the impact of a new reactor programme. The table below is from an RWM report which does just that. (2)

The 2010 inventory showed a derived inventory (2010 DI) which did not include any spent fuel or other waste from new reactors and an upper inventory (2010 UI) – which did include spent fuel and wastes from a 10GW new reactor programme. On the other hand the 2013 Derived Inventory has only one set of figures which includes spent fuel and waste from a 16GW new reactor programme. As mentioned above this could increase in future to take account of the fact that the Government now anticipates the size of the new reactor programme will be 18GW, to allow for the latest additional to the proposed fleet – Bradwell B. Beyond that there are ambitions to build between 7 and 21GW of Small Modular Reactor (SMR) capacity by 2035.

The nuclear industry and government have repeatedly said the volume of nuclear waste produced by new reactors will be small, approximately 10% of the volume of existing wastes; implying this additional waste will not make a significant difference to finding a GDF for the wastes the UK’s nuclear industry has already created. However, the use of volume as a measure of the impact of radioactive waste is highly misleading.

A much better measure would be the likely impact of wastes and spent fuel on the size or “footprint” of a GDF. New reactors will use so-called ‘high burn-up fuel’ which will be much more radioactive than the spent fuel produced by existing reactors. As a result it will generate more heat, so it will need to be allocated more space in the GDF’s disposal chambers. So rather than using volume as a yardstick, the amount of radioactivity in the waste – and the space required in a GDF to deal with it – are more appropriate ways of measuring the impact of nuclear waste from new reactors. The total activity measured in Terabecquerels (TBq) of the 2010 Derived Inventory, (not including any wastes from new reactors) was 4,770,000 TBq.

The total activity given in the 2013 Derived Inventory, which includes waste and spent fuel from a 16GW new reactor programme, was 27,300,000 TBq. Not all of this huge increase in activity is down to new reactors. For instance there is a big jump in the activity of legacy spent fuel and 3,700,000 TBq from spent mixed plutonium-uranium oxide (MoX) fuel – a category which does not appear at all in the 2010 inventory. However, 19,793,000 TBq is activity from new reactor wastes and spent fuel. So the activity of radioactive waste from a new reactor programme would be roughly four times the activity in the total 2010 inventory.

Of course this figure is for a 16GW new reactor programme. For an 18GW programme the total activity of spent fuel and intermediate level waste would be about 22,267,125 TBq or almost five times the activity of existing waste.

[Table on original]

These numbers are significant because of the amount of repository space taken up by existing waste mostly located in Cumbria compared with waste stored on reactor sites outwith Cumbria. The NDA has estimated the total repository footprint for a baseline inventory (the total waste expected to be created by the existing programme) of between 5.6 km2 and 10.3km2 depending on the rock-type. However, the footprint from a maximum inventory which includes a 16GW new reactor programme would be between 12.3km2 and 25km2. (3)  [Table on original]

So the activity of existing waste – mostly stored at Sellafield amounts to 4,770,000 TBq. The proposed reactors at Moorside would produce spent fuel and ILW with an activity of around 4,206,012 TBq making a total of 8,976012 TBq stored in Cumbria. However the activity of spent fuel and ILW stored at new reactor sites outwith Cumbria would amount to 15,586,988 TBq – almost twice as much. And if we assume that the reactors at Bradwell goahead it will probably be more than twice as much. http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo90.pdf

December 2, 2016 Posted by | Reference, UK, wastes | Leave a comment