All posts by Marie

Hinkley Point C timeline

Hinkley Point C is to be the first new nuclear power station to be built in the UK for almost 20 years, set to start operation in 2025.

The main achievements regarding Government policy, market reform, investment and general developments of nuclear new build are set out below:

  • January 2009:         UK Government consultation invited nominations for sites to be assessed for their suitability for the deployment of new nuclear power stations by 2025. Ten of the 11 sites nominated were deemed potentially suitable.
  • Also 2009:                 British Energy became part of EDF Energy
  • July 2011:                 Electricity market reform white paper is issued with the intention of stabilising financial returns from low-carbon generation.
  • Nov 2012 :                 An Energy Bill is formally introduced to parliament by UK energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey. This bill is designed to encourage the development of a low-carbon energy infrastructure.
  • Dec 2012:                   National Nuclear Regulators in UK have formally approved the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) design a PWR (pressurised water reactor) design developed by Électricité de France and Areva HP in France.
  • March 2013:               Planning permission granted for two reactors to be built at Hinkley Point C.
  • October 2013:           A Strike Price deal is made between the British government and EDF of £92.50 p/MWh agreed for Hinkley Point C for  the year 2023.
  • October 2014:           European Commissioners approve Hinkley Point Project: Brussels gives go ahead to state subsidy scheme, that offers EDF Energy a set price for 35 years.
  • Sept 2015:                  UK’s Treasury announces a £2 billion loan guarantee for Hinkley Point C.
  • Oct 2015:                    China agrees to take a one-third stake in the £18 billion project. France’s EDF share in the project will be 66.5%, and China’s CGN (China General Nuclear) will be 33.5%.
  • Sept 2016:                  The UK government decides to proceed with the first new nuclear power station for a generation. However, ministers will impose a new legal framework for future foreign investment in Britain’s critical infrastructure. In ‘lessons learned’ it is also suggested that this EPR (European Pressurised Water Reactor) will be the last one ever built.
  • Mar 2017:                     The UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has granted its first consent for the start of construction at Hinkley Point C – concrete base only.

 

UK: Power reactors planned and proposed

Proponent Site Locality Type Capacity
(MWe gross)
Construction start Start-up
EDF Energyn Hinkley Point C-1 Somerset EPR 1670 2023
Hinkley Point C-2 EPR 1670 2024
EDF Energyn Sizewell C-1 Suffolk EPR 1670? ?
Sizewell C-2 EPR 1670? ?
Horizon Wylfa Newydd 1 Wales ABWR 1380 2025
Horizon Wylfa Newydd 2 Wales ABWR 1380 2025
Horizon Oldbury B-1 Gloucestershire ABWR 1380 late 2020s
Horizon Oldbury B-2 Gloucestershire ABWR 1380 late 2020s
NuGeneration Moorside 1 Cumbria AP1000 1135 2024
NuGeneration Moorside 2 AP1000 1135 ?
NuGeneration Moorside 3 AP1000 1135 ?
China General Nuclear Bradwell B-1 Essex Hualong One 1150
China General Nuclear Bradwell B-2* Hualong One 1150
Total planned & proposed 13 units * 17,900 MWe
GE Hitachi Sellafield Cumbria 2 x PRISM 2 x 311
Candu Energy Sellafield Cumbria 2 x Candu EC6 2 x 740

The WNA Reactor Table has four EPRs as ‘planned’ (6680 MWe) and nine units (11,220 MWe) ‘proposed’.

* two units assumed for Bradwell, not confirmed.
The PRISM and EC6 options for Sellafield are alternatives for Pu disposition.

For more information on new nuclear, policy and costing, see the WNA’s website here.

Ed Davey approves Hinkley nuclear power station plans

19 March 2013, source edie newsroom
Planning has been approved by the Government today for construction of the first nuclear power station in the UK since 1995.
Artist impression of the Hinkley Point site in Somerset Courtesy of EDF Energy
Artist impression of the Hinkley Point site in Somerset Courtesy of EDF Energy

The multi-billion pound project at Hinkley Point, Somerset will generate enough low carbon electricity to power the equivalent of five million households, making it one of the largest power stations in the UK. Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Edward Davey, said: “The planning decision to give consent to Hinkley Point follows a rigorous examination from the Planning Inspectorate, and detailed analysis within my Department. “I am confident that the planning decision I have made is robust, evidence-based, compatible with the Energy National Policy Statements and is in the best interests of the country. “It’s vital to get investment in new infrastructure to get the economy moving. Low carbon energy projects will bring major investment, supporting jobs and driving growth. Davey says the planned nuclear power station will generate vast amounts of clean energy and enhance the UK’s energy security. As expected, the planning decision has caused concern for the renewable energy sector and environmental groups, who have said a drive in nuclear is likely to stifle investment in renewables projects. Chief advisor on climate change at WWF-UK, Keith Allott, said: “Backing nuclear means shifting a huge liability to British taxpayers for the cost of building, electricity and crucially, dealing with the waste. Unlike renewable energy, the costs of nuclear keep on rising – as witnessed by the fact that the only reactors currently being built in Europe are massively over-budget and far behind schedule.” “Focusing on renewables and energy efficiency, on the other hand, where the UK has huge potential to be an industrial leader, could deliver both huge cost reductions and a substantial boost to UK economic growth and manufacturing.” In December 2012, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), along with the Environment Agency, approved the design for the nuclear reactor, designed by EDF and Areva, claiming it is suitable for construction and meets regulatory expectations on safety, security and environmental impact.

Fear and stress outweigh Fukushima radiation risk

31 May 2013 – World Nuclear News
The most extensive international report to date has concluded that the only observable health effects from the Fukushima accident stem from the stresses of evacuation and unwarranted fear of radiation.

Some 80 international experts contributed to a report by the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), which was then reviewed by 170 experts at the committee’s meeting in Vienna that started on 27 May. It concluded “Radiation exposure following the nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi did not cause any immediate health effects. It is unlikely to be able to attribute any health effects in the future among the general public and the vast majority of workers.”

“On the whole, the exposure of the Japanese population was low, or very low, leading to correspondingly low risks of health effects in later life” – Wolfgang Weiss (UNSCEAR)

The only exception are the emergency nuclear workers that received radiation doses of over 100 mSv during the crisis triggered by the 15 metre tsunami that struck the plant on 11 March 2011. Records show that 146 workers fall into this category. They will be monitored closely for “potential late radiation-related health effects at an individual level.”

By contrast, the public was exposed to 10-50 times less radiation. Most Japanese people were exposed to additional radiation amounting to less than the typical natural background level of 2.1 mSv per year that comes mainly from the ground and from space. People living in Fukushima prefecture are expected to be exposed to around 10 mSv over their entire lifetimes, while for those living further away the dose would be 0.2 mSv per year.

“On the whole, the exposure of the Japanese population was low, or very low, leading to correspondingly low risks of health effects in later life,” said Wolfgang Weiss of UNSCEAR. The conclusion reinforces the findings of several international reports to date, including one from the World Health Organisation (WHO) that considered the health risk to the most exposed people possible: a postulated girl under one year of age living in Iitate or Namie that did not evacuate and continued life as normal for four months after the accident. Such a child’s theoretical risk of developing breast cancer by age 89 would be increased from 29.04% to 30.20%, according to WHO’s analysis.

Social and societal effects

The emergency situation at Fukushima Daiichi began on 11 March 2011 but it was not until 15 March that the accident sequence culminated in its most significant emission of radioactivity. Japanese authorities used the intervening days to evacuate residents from a 20 kilometre radius and advise those in a further 10 kilometre zone to remain indoors when possible. A further area to the northwest was evacuated on a longer timescale. UNSCEAR said that these actions taken to protect the public “significantly reduced exposures.”

The sheltering order was lifted when the power plant was stabilised around September 2011 and the 20 kilometre and additional areas have been progressively reclassified for various levels of controlled entry. Residents can return without protective gear to repair tsunami damaged homes in the majority of the area, although they are still not allowed to stay overnight and some areas remain strictly off limits.

It is this upheaval to people’s lives that has brought real health effects, and these will need “special attention” in coming years, said Carl-Magnus Larsson, chair of UNSCEAR. “Families are suffering and people have been uprooted and are concerned about their livelihoods and futures, the health of their children… it is these issues that will be the long-lasting fallout of the accident.”

UNSCEAR’s report “will be the most comprehensive international scientific analysis of the information available to date” when published in full later this year at the UN General Assembly.

 

Meltdown: Despite the Fear, the Health Risks from the Fukushima Accident Are Minimal

Time Magazine (March 2013) – Article by Bryan Walsh

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) report (PDF) on the estimated health effects from the Fukushima nuclear accident is out, and the results are… reassuring. The WHO modeled the impacts of excess radiation doses on those living around the Fukushima plant, which partially melted down after the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. The agency concluded that any additional cancer risk from radiation was small—extremely small, for the most part—and chiefly limited to those living closest to the plant. The WHO found:

  • For leukemia, a lifetime risk increase of around 7% over baseline cancer rates for males exposed to the radiation as infants, and about 6% for females exposed as babies.
  • For all solid cancers (meaning everything with a discrete tumor mass, including brain and breast cancer), a lifetime risk increase of about 4% over baseline rates for females exposed as infants.
  • For thyroid cancer (which chiefly occurs in women) a lifetime risk increase of around 70% over baseline rates for women exposed as infants.

Wait a minute, you might be thinking. 7%, 6%, 4%, 70%—those percentage increases actually sound pretty large. Is the WHO saying that those exposed to Fukushima radiation now have a 7% chance of eventually contracting leukemia? Or a 70% chance of contracting thyroid cancer? Isn’t that worrying?

 

(MORE: 2013: A Cloudy Forecast for Renewable Energy, with a Silver Lining)

But that’s not what the WHO is saying. From the report itself:

These percentages represent estimated relative increases over the baseline rates and are not absolute risks for developing such cancers. Due to the low baseline rates of thyroid cancer, even a large relative increase represents a small absolute increase in risks. For example, the baseline lifetime risk of thyroid cancer for females is just three-quarters of one percent and the additional lifetime risk estimated in this assessment for a female infant exposed in the most affected location is one-half of one percent.

What that means is that the risk of getting cancers like leukemia or thyroid cancer is already very, very low, and even those who lived close to Fukushima—and therefore most likely received the highest radiation doses—will see only a small increase in that small danger. As Richard Wakeford of the University of Manchester, one of the authors of the report, told journalists:

These are pretty small proportional increases. The additional risk is quite small and will probably be hidden by the noise of other (cancer) risks like people’s lifestyle choices and statistical fluctuations. It’s more important not to start smoking than having been in Fukushima.

For those who lived beyond the immediately affected areas around Fukushima, the increased risk is likely to be infinitesimal. The report also looked at the brave emergency workers at the Fukushima plant, who likely received higher radiation doses during the meltdown than anyone else in Japan. The news there, too, is mostly good: perhaps one-third of the workers face a higher lifetime risk of cancer, but that risk still remains low.

While an earlier study by researchers at Stanford University estimated that the radiation from Fukushima might result in an as many as 1,300 additional cancer deaths globally, some researchers feel that the WHO may have even overestimated the increased risk from the accident. (And keep in mind that with some 7.6 million cancer deaths each year, 1,300 additional deaths would mean an increase of 0.02%.) Wade Allison, an emeritus professor of physics at Oxford University, told the AP:

On the basis of the radiation doses people have received, there is no reason to think there would be an increase in cancer in the next 50 years. The very small increase in cancers means that it’s even less than the risk of crossing the road.

(MORE: Independent Commission Releases Report on Fukushima Meltdown, Blames Japanese Culture)

I’m pretty sure that Allison means the risk of getting hit by a car while crossing the road, not the risk of getting cancer while crossing the road. But the point is, by the WHO’s own estimates, Fukushima is unlikely to have a very significant health impact on Japanese citizens. Part of that is due to prompt action in the wake of the accident, including the evacuation of nearby towns, and even more importantly, bans on food from the affected areas. After Chernobyl, some 6,000 children exposed to radiation later developed thyroid cancer because many drank irradiated milk—milk that the Soviet government at the time should have banned.

Greenpeace—which put out its own report on the Fukushima fallout earlier this month—wasn’t happy with the WHO, releasing a statement challenging the study from the group’s nuclear radiation expert Dr. Rianne Teule:

The WHO report shamelessly downplays the impact of early radioactive releases from the Fukushima disaster on people inside the 20 km evacuation zone who were not able to leave the area quickly.

The WHO should have estimated the radiation exposure of these people to give a more accurate picture of the potential long-term impacts of Fukushima. The WHO report is clearly a political statement to protect the nuclear industry and not a scientific one with people’s health in mind.

Far be it from me to say the WHO, or any international scientific organization, is above reproach. But the WHO’s modeling here seems if anything conservative, overstating the potential risk. And when environmental groups pick holes in scientific consensus on something like Fukushima, they sound very much like the politically conservative climate skeptics who are constantly harping on the supposedly international scientific conspiracy over climate science.

Fukushima, for all the attention, was ultimately small potatoes compared to the disaster at Chernobyl. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) reported that the Fukushima plant may have released about 900,000 terabecquerels of radiation into the air at the height of the disaster, while the 5.2 million terabecquerels of radiation were released during the Chernobyl accident, which also covered a much bigger territory. It’s just a reminder that’s what true about natural disasters is true about man-made ones: the public response or lack of one can matter as much or more than the disaster itself.

But it’s also pretty important that the human health effects of one of the biggest nuclear disasters seem to be virtually nil. That’s worth remembering as nations  turn away from nuclear power on the grounds that it is simply too dangerous. In the wake of the Fukushima accident, Germany decided to begin shuttering its nuclear power plants years before they were do to close. The result, as Bloomberg reported yesterday, has been more coal, more pollutants and more carbon. New coal plants with about 5.3 GW of power capacity will begin operating in Germany this year, far more than the 1 GW of coal that is likely to come offline. Greenhouse gas emissions rose 1.6% in Germany last year. The increase in coal—due in part to the reduction in carbon-free nuclear power—has more than outweighed the vast increase in renewable power created by Germany’s progressive energy policy.

The challenging economics of building new nuclear plants are another question, especially in developed countries. But it’s very difficult to see the logic of voluntarily shutting down the biggest source of carbon-free electricity when it turns out the dangers of nuclear power seem to be overstated. (Tokyo seems to agree—Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that the country would begin restarting idled nuclear plants once new safety guidelines are in place later this year.) And it’s not just carbon—if existing nuclear is replaced by coal or even natural gas, we’ll also see an increase in other pollutants which pose clear and present health dangers that exceed the risks of atomic power. Nuclear power is scary—scarier than climate change for most people—but the facts don’t back up that fear.

(MORE: Nuked: A Year After Fukushima, Nuclear Power Is Down — and Carbon Is Up)

Bryan Walsh is a senior editor at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bryanrwalsh. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME

Read more: http://science.time.com/2013/03/01/meltdown-despite-the-fear-the-health-risks-from-the-fukushima-accident-are-minimal/#ixzz2MVm0k8MP

UK progress towards waste repository stalls

After a 7-3 vote by Cumbria County Council to halt investigations into locating the UK’s high-level waste repository there, the UK has no live options for it.  Two Local Boroughs in Cumbria are strongly in favour of locating the repository there, but agreement at both regional and local government level is necessary.  Four years progress has been stalled.  The site selection process is based on a principle of voluntarism under which communities explore their options with the right to withdraw at any time. The same policy has been applied with success in Finland and Sweden to find suitable and welcoming places for radioactive waste disposal.  The vast majority of UK high-level wastes are already in Cumbria, in interim storage.  Despite the vote, the County Council hoped that “The nuclear industry is, and will continue to be, a key part of the Cumbrian economy.” WNN 30/1/13.

Myth of Smart Meters and Articles of Interest

The Joan Pye Project are concerned about the two-way connection of proposed ‘Smart Meters’ with the implication that suppliers will have biased control.

More articles of interest:

1) Power politics – Professional Engineer

April 2013

Planning consent has finally been granted for the building of a new nuclear power station in Somerset. When will others follow?

EPR reactor will be built alongside the existing stations at Hinkley Point (above and below)

A world of promise has dwindled to a window of opportunity. New nuclear power stations will be built on these shores but there will be fewer than one might have hoped and the going will be slower than originally anticipated. And consumers will pick up a substantial bill for the privilege. What a difference a few years make.

 

The notion of a resurgent nuclear industry in the UK was attractive to many. Unions – which had long argued that the building of a new nuclear fleet would attract investment, secure jobs, and help plug a looming energy gap – were pleased with the idea that the country’s nuclear skills base would be maintained.

Politicians, looking for further ways in which to decarbonise electricity generation, saw nuclear as a means, alongside renewables, of hitting binding targets to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide.

And the public were arguably swayed by a PR offensive on the part of the industry that aimed to overturn perceptions or misconceptions about nuclear power – although it did not convince a lot of people in Scotland.

Globally, countries that had never before developed civil nuclear power were keen to do so. Those that had previously invested in nuclear were keen to expand their fleets of power stations or to replace reactors that were shutting down. Reactor vendors Areva and Westinghouse were scheduled to build or were building new nuclear power stations in Europe, China and the US.

Fast forward to 2013, and the industry is inching towards the beginning of construction of a single EPR reactor at Hinkley Point C in Somerset. Last month, another regulatory hurdle was cleared as planning consent was granted to utility EDF to build the plant. But the biggest barrier to progress – the decision on what, if any, subsidy should be made available to the company – has yet to be decided.

Until that decision is made, some time in the coming months, nuclear new build is at an impasse. A positive decision on a subsidy, or “strike price,” will send a signal to other potential investors that the government means business.

But, once agreed, it is unlikely that a new reactor will be generating electricity at Hinkley Point before the early 2020s – later than an initial target of 2018. As for the development of other power stations, they seem even further down the track.

At the beginning of the generic design assessment (GDA), it is worth remembering, four reactor vendors were expressing an interest in having their designs approved for licensing in the UK. These were Areva of France, Westinghouse, Atomic Energy of Canada with the ACR-1000, and GE-Hitachi with the ESBWR.

But Atomic Energy of Canada and GE-Hitachi soon dropped out of the running. That left as the sole GDA participants the French company Areva, which is building its EPR design in Finland and Normandy, and Westinghouse, which is constructing its AP1000 design in China. Westinghouse has also signed contracts to build the first new nuclear reactors in the US for decades.

Westinghouse and Areva said at the time that they hoped the freeing-up of GDA resources would speed the approval of their respective designs. Yet the GDA was only completed for Areva’s EPR last December, after five years of studies. Site-specific approvals still have to be made at Hinkley Point C before construction can begin.

Westinghouse has not reached the end of the GDA, and is waiting for approval from a customer for its design before carrying out the final stages of the process. Such approval may be from NuGen, the consortium formed by GDF Suez and Iberdrola. NuGen’s Moorside project focuses on the development of a new generation of nuclear power stations with a total capacity of 3.6GW on land in west Cumbria.

The GDA became more tortuous than might otherwise have been the case thanks to the need to include a report from Mike Weightman, HM Chief Inspector of Nuclear Installations, on the implications of the Fukushima disaster in Japan. Weightman’s report was published in December 2011.

Although Weightman concluded that the desire to build new reactors in Britain should not be extinguished by events in Japan, the tsunami and subsequent nuclear accidents at Fukushima saw the tide swing against nuclear power in Germany.

This led to the withdrawal from the British scene of other utilities. RWE Npower and E.On turned their back on Horizon Nuclear Power, a joint venture they had established, which had been expected to deliver new power stations at Wylfa and Oldbury. Westinghouse, which had been banking on being chosen by Horizon as its preferred vendor, thus suffered a serious setback to its British ambitions.

The joint venture has subsequently been taken over by Hitachi, which intends to build its own Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWRs) at the sites. But since Hitachi was not in the initial GDA process, it will have to enter the race from a standing start, and approval could take four years.

© EDF Energy

 

 

2) EDF nuclear to power UK trains

11 January 2013

By electrifying more track and contracting nuclear power supplies from EDF Energy the UK rail network operator will reduce fossil fuel use over the next ten years.

A joint statement today described how Network Rail will purchase power exclusively from EDF Energy, with that supply matched to nuclear generation. With a requirement of 3.2 TWh per year, Network Rail is the UK’s largest power customer. It owns all the railway infrastructure and purchases power centrally, recouping money from firms that operate trains across its network.

Currently, 55% of rail traffic in the UK is electrically powered but this is set to grow to 75% by 2020 with the completion of an electrification program spanning 2000 miles (3220 km) of track. Network Rail chief executive David Higgins said, “Rail is already the greenest form of public transport and this partnership with EDF Energy will help us make it greener still.”

For EDF Energy, CEO Vincent de Rivaz called the deal “a massive vote of confidence in our nuclear-backed energy.” He said, “The deal places nuclear energy at the heart of the UK’s infrastructure for the next ten years and serves to underline that nuclear power is part of everyday life in Britain.”

EDF Energy operates 14 Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor and one pressurized water reactor, totalling 9548 MWe in generating capacity. It has advanced plans for a new EPR unit at Hinkley Point, which it wants to be the first of four. The company also has wind and coal assets, but output from these was excluded from the Network Rail deal, which “comes with a guarantee that the electricity supplied… is matched by electricity from low-carbon nuclear generation.”

Network Rail will purchase power “up to ten years in advance” under the deal, a privilege which the companies said “helps to deliver greater certainty over costs and significantly reduce exposure to short term, volatile energy prices.” This kind of long-term arrangement is made possible by the economics of nuclear power, which feature high costs for construction and capital but low and predictable fuel and operating costs.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

 

3) http://www.affordable-energy.eu/hello-world/

One millon signatures needed now!

Posted by admin at September 6th, 2012

The EU’s Climate & Energy package, with its very aggressive targets for renewable energy, is driving up energy costs. It is forcing millions of households and pensioners into fuel poverty. It is undermining industrial competitiveness in the UK and Europe, and driving energy-intensive businesses, with their jobs and investment, out of the EU altogether.

But it will have little or no effect on the environment, since the EU accounts for only around 13% of CO2 emissions. Meantime around the world there are some 1200 new coal-fired power stations in the pipeline.

This European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), under the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, calls for the suspension of the package until other major global emitters, like China and India, take corresponding action. We need a million signatures, to get a hearing from the EU institutions. Sign up now. The job you save could be your own — or your children’s.

Driven by Roger Helmer: UKIP MEP

 

  4) Hitachi Closes in on UK Nuclear Reactors Plan

15 January 2013, source edie newsroom

Hitachi’s plans to construct six nuclear reactors in the UK came a step closer to fruition today, after Ministers called for an assessment of the reactor design.

The Japanese firm bought the Horizon Nuclear Project from RWE and E.ON for £696m in November 2012 and plans to develop new nuclear reactors at Wylfa in Anglesey and Oldbury in Gloucestershire.
Plans for the six Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABRWs) will receive a Generic Design Assessment (GDA) from the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency.
Four ABRWs have already been approved and constructed in Japan and are also licensed in the USA and Taiwan.
John Hayes, Minister of State for Energy, said:
“New nuclear has a central role to play in our energy future, delivering secure, low carbon power and supporting jobs and economic growth. Hitachi’s commitment to the UK is extremely welcome, and I am determined that we work closely with the company to deliver their planned investment.”
However, Hayes insisted that it was vital the Government was absolutely sure that any reactor used in the UK met rigorous safety standards.
“That’s why I’m asking the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency to conduct a thorough examination of the reactor design proposed for the Wylfa and Oldbury sites,” he added.
Hitachi UK welcomed the call for an examination, heralding the UK’s regulatory process.
Hitachi Nuclear Power Systems CEO Masaharu Hanyu said: “Today’s announcement from the Minister of State marks the start of an important process for the ABWR, for Hitachi-GE and for Horizon Nuclear Power. The UK GDA is a rigorous and thorough process and we look forward to having our initial discussions with the regulators.
Conor McGlone

 

5) Global warming forecast lower than previous predictions

9 January 2013, source edie newsroom

The Met Office’s new climate forecast model predicts that the rise in global warming over the next five years may not be as extreme as previously estimated.

According to the new data, the average global temperature is expected to remain between 0.28°C and 0.59°C above the long-term (1971-2000) average during the period 2013-2017, with values most likely to be about 0.43°C higher than average.
This is lower than the previously predicted 0.54°C, above the long term average, it announced through its earlier climate model, known as HadCM3.
The updated decadal forecast, published in December last year, is the first to make use of the Met Office’s latest climate model, HadGEM3.
However, it stressed that these forecasts are for research use only, adding that the results would not provide any further insight into long term trends on climate change.
“The fact that the new model predicts less warming, globally, for the coming five years does not necessarily tell us anything about long-term predictions of climate change for the coming century,” the Met Office said.
With these new findings, the Met Office is researching potential causes of the recent slowdown in global warming, including natural variability, the recent deep solar minimum, the influence of forcing from short-lived species, such as sulphate aerosol emissions, and the climate response to these forcings.
Leigh Stringer

 

6) Official data chart renewables slowdown

By Pilita Clark and Jim Pickard

Financial Times January 21, 2013

The growth of wind farms and other renewable energy projects is heading for a sharp slowdown after 2020 according to official forecasts, despite ministers’ claims they want the UK to become a global centre of green power. Figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change predict a tenfold increase in the amount of new renewable power capacity added between 2012 and 2020. However, from 2020 the department forecasts that cumulative new installations will slow dramatically, rising from 35 gigawatts in 2020 to just 42 GW by 2030.
“This data shows that even Decc [the energy department] itself is projecting deployment of renewables in the UK to all but stop dead in 2020,” said Keith MacLean, policy director of SSE, one of the UK’s big six energy suppliers and a large investor in wind power.
“We are at risk of throwing away the great progress the UK has made in becoming a world leader in renewables.”
The comments reflect continued tensions between government and industry over Britain’s future energy mix, two months after publication of an energy bill touted as the biggest overhaul of the power market for two decades.
Growth in renewables is projected to slow in part because some existing green power plants are set to start closing in the 2020s, and partly because of a lack of specific government targets for low carbon electricity sources beyond 2020, officials said.
The figures predict renewables’ share of UK electricity generation will remain unchanged at 34 per cent between 2020 and 2030. The share from gas will rise from 29 per cent to 35 per cent over the same decade and nuclear will increase from 20 per cent to 24 per cent. Coal fired electricity generation will sink from 12 per cent to 3 per cent.
Decc said that its projections, released late last year but little noticed at the time, did not represent government targets or its preferred technology mix. They were merely “used internally as a baseline for further modelling to inform strategy and policy development”.
Still, the forecasts appear to be at odds with the message some ministers have given about the UK’s long-term commitment to green power.
David Cameron, prime minister, said last year he “passionately” believed that the rapid growth of renewable energy was vital to the UK’s future.
Investor confidence has been dented by a high-profile row between Ed Davey, the pro-green Liberal Democrat energy secretary, and John Hayes, a Tory minister in his department who is strongly opposed to wind farms.
Investors are still unhappy about parts of the weighty energy bill Mr Davey unveiled last year that is designed to encourage more investment in power generation, including nuclear, renewable and gas plants.
SSE and other companies say the bill lacks measures to give green investors confidence beyond 2020.
One measure to do that would be a 2030 decarbonisation target for the electricity sector, which the chancellor, George Osborne, has resisted. Another would be a commitment to an EU-wide 2030 renewables target, which the government has yet to make.
The energy bill is passing through parliament and has reached committee stage.
Tim Yeo, chair of the energy committee, is considering an amendment to force the government to set a decarbonisation target – a policy backed by Labour – although it is unclear how many Tory and Lib Dem MPs would support this.

 

7) Mankind is a plague on the Earth, says Attenborough

Ben Webster Media Editor Mankind is a “plague on the Earth” and we face a stark choice between choosing to limit population growth or letting famine have the same effect, Sir David Attenborough has said.
The broadcaster has given his starkest warning to date about the consequences for the natural world of allowing population to rise from seven billion now to a projected nine billion by 2050.
Speaking to the Radio Times about his latest natural history television series, he said humanity urgently needed to reach a “coordinated view” about its exploitation of the planet’s resources.
“We are a plague on the Earth. It’s coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so. “It’s not just climate change; it’s sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde. Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now.
“We keep putting on programmes about famine in Ethiopia; that’s what’s happening. Too many people there. They can’t support themselves — and it’s not an inhuman thing to say. It’s the case. Until humanity manages to sort itself out and get a coordinated view about the planet it’s going to get worse and worse.”
Sir David, 86, is a patron of Population Matters, formerly the Optimum Population Trust, which calls for “everyone to have a smaller family size”.
It argues: “Only by there being fewer of us can we ensure acceptable living standards for all in the long term.”
When Sir David became patron in 2009, he said: “I’ve never seen a problem that wouldn’t be easier to solve with fewer people – or harder, and ultimately impossible, with more.”
In the interview, to launch his new series for the Eden channel focusing on animals with distinctive evolutionary quirks, he questions whether there is a need for someone to replace him after 60 years making wildlife programmes.
“I’m not sure there’s any need for a new Attenborough. The more you go on, the less you need people standing between you and the animal and the camera waving their arms about. It’s much cheaper to get someone in front of a camera describing animal behaviour than actually showing you [the behaviour]. That takes a much longer time.
But the kind of carefully tailored programmes in which you really work at the commentary, you really match pictures to words, is a bit out of fashion now… regarded as old hat.”

 

8) Cleaning up Fukushima City

14 December 2012 – World Nuclear News

Decontamination work is accelerating in Fukushima City but a huge task remains with over 100,000 homes still to be treated.

The capital of the prefecture, Fukushima City lies 65 kilometres from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that suffered a major accident caused by the earthquake and tsunami of 11 March 2011.

The city is not among the most affected by radioactive contamination, the 11 municipalities within about 30 kilometres of the plant that were evacuated and have seen only partial return. In those areas the national government is responsible for decontamination to reduce additional radiation dose to below 20 milliSievert per year (mSv/y) in the short term with an ultimate goal of 1 mSv/y.

Fukushima City is in a second category of 104 municipalities across eight prefectures from which nobody was evacuated and life continues as normal. City authorities and the prefectural government are in charge of cleaning up the caesium-137 released by the accident that has raised ambient doses by 5-10 mSv/y for the city’s 290,000 inhabitants.

The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) has said radiation at these levels cannot be scientifically linked to any effect on people’s health. Nevertheless Japanese authorities are determined to clean up. Decontaminating children’s facilities such as schools was the top priority and all 202 of these were tackled by August last year. By December last year, the city’s 68 parks were also cleaned up and, by the end of May this year, all the municipality’s 5700 hectares of farmland and orchard had been decontaminated. The total cost of this work was Y6.8 billion ($81 million).

Now the focus is on people’s homes, with the goal of reducing additional dose to 1 mSv per year. This is primarily done by pressure-washing and wiping down the outside of people’s homes, washing ornamental trees and removing a few centimetres of soil from their gardens.

So far, about 4000 homes have been cleaned. One area saw dose rates of 7 mSv/y after the accident drop to 2 mSv/y after clean-up. The last remaining stage of work there is to clean the roads and gutters, which may yield a further reduction to 1 mSv/y or less. Methods have been fine-tuned with the use of warm water and certain detergents. Run-off water is treated in drains with zeolite that absorbs the caesium and allows the water to be processed in the normal way.

The clean-up team deals with about ten homes per day, but all 110,000 homes in the city are to be cleaned so the work rate must improve in order to finish on schedule in the next five years. In total this will cost around Y31 billion ($370 million).

There is an equally pressing waste management issue, due to the half-tonne of contaminated soil that arises from each home on average. At the same time, many tonnes of soil have been removed from the sides of roads, where it absorbed caesium washed out by rain. Fukushima City currently has only one temporary storage site for all this, with capacity to hold 500,000 tonnes of soil. Each municipality will have to create something similar to store a grand total of 1 to 1.2 million tonnes of soil. Next in the national government’s plan is to create a single interim store for all the soil from every municipality – in just three years’ time.

 

Nuclear best option for Europe, report says

19 December 2012

Nuclear energy is the European Union’s answer to meeting aggressive targets on carbon dioxide emissions while reducing dependency on fossil fuels, according to consultants Frost & Sullivan.

In a new report – entitled European Nuclear Power Sector: Trends and Opportunities – Frost & Sullivan says, “Despite the environmental risks, nuclear energy shows potential to reduce emissions and dependence on fossil fuels, and therefore, will be a major contributor to the European energy mix in 2020.”

“It is difficult to envisage Europe phasing out nuclear power from its energy mix … Nuclear power will play an active role in Europe’s energy generation and in meeting the region’s environmental goals.”
Neha Vikash Frost & Sullivan

The report notes that, despite the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan, the number of nuclear power reactors under construction worldwide “is still higher now than across the last two decades.”

Frost and Sullivan pointed out that France, Finland, the UK and Sweden have all reaffirmed their commitment to nuclear power, while Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic are also planning to push ahead with new units, following increased safety assessments.

Neha Vikash, an energy and power supplies research analyst with  Frost & Sullivan, commented: “It is difficult to envisage Europe phasing out  nuclear power from its energy mix, despite the antagonistic stance of countries  like Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Belgium where there are likely to be  embargoes on further nuclear power development. Nuclear power will play an  active role in Europe’s energy generation and in meeting the region’s  environmental goals.”

“While there will be shutdowns, member states like the UK and Finland will push through better safety standards and support new nuclear build over the next four to five years,” Vikash noted. “Apart from new builds, these states will also concentrate on increasing the share of electricity generation from renewables and decreasing their dependence on fossil fuels.”

According to Frost & Sullivan, nuclear plant life extensions represent a bigger market over the next 20 years than new build for the current nuclear supply chain. Life extension projects are likely to take place at plants with a combined generating capacity of 132 GWe.

“Nuclear energy will remain a prime candidate as Europe mulls its decarbonizing options,” the report says. “Carbon capture and storage (CCS) could potentially reduce the dependence on coal and gas. However, this technology is still at a nascent stage with few demonstration projects having been implemented.”

Changing energy mix

Total European power generation will increase from 3338 TWh in 2010 to 3832 TWh in 2020, according to Frost & Sullivan. Over this period, however, output from nuclear power plants is expected to fall slightly, from 937 TWh to 910 TWh. Nuclear’s share of total generation will drop from 28.0% to 23.7%, accordingly.

European wind turbines produced 119 TWh of electricity in 2010, while other renewable sources generated 124 TWh. Some 327 TWh came from hydropower. By 2020, wind is expected to generate 647 TWh, with 408 TWh coming from other renewables and 392 TWh from hydro.

The use of coal and oil for electricity generation is expected to drop significantly by the end of the decade. Output from coal- and oil-fired plants is forecast to be 517 TWh and 24 TWh, respectively, in 2020, down from 940 TWh and 105 TWh in 2010.

Vikash said, “Dependence on foreign imports, especially gas from Russia, is politically fraught. Therefore, nuclear energy will be among the few alternatives Europe is left with to meet its energy needs while staying on course to meet its climate change goals.”

“Renewables represent the best foreseeable option, but are cost-intensive,” according to Frost & Sullivan. “Moreover, it is not possible for renewables to compensate for the large-scale energy production currently supported by nuclear sources, until the next decade.”

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

December Nuclear News (UK)

13/12/2012

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the Environment Agency (EA) have announced, as part of the Generic Design Assessment (GDA), to issue final design acceptances for the EDF/AREVA European Pressurised Water Reactor (EPR).

The GDA process is one action set out by Government to facilitate new nuclear within the UK. This process considers safety, security and environmental aspects of reactor design and allows any issues to be identified and resolved at an early stage.

This is a key milestone in making new nuclear part of the future energy mix and increasing low carbon energy generation in the UK.

ONR estimates that the GDA process for EPR has involved 27,000 days of assessment time and thousands of technical documents. The cost of around £35 million ($56 million) per reactor design is charged back to the proponent companies.

For more information see:

DECC website:http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/news/

ONR website: http://news.hse.gov.uk/onr/2012/12/uk-regulators-confirm-acceptance-of-new-nuclear-reactor-design/

Other News:

UK nuclear utility EDF Energy is to extend by seven years the life of four of its Advanced Gas-cooled Reactors – two each at Hinkley Point B and Hunterston B(Seven more years for Hinkley and Hunterston B4 December 2012 –  Written and Researched by World Nuclear News

 

Fracking

Hydraulic fracturing for shale gas will resume after the Government today lifted a ban on the practice, known as fracking. The practice had been suspended since it induced two seismic tremors in the country’s only fracking operations in Lancashire in May last year. Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey said “Shale gas represents a promising new potential energy resource for the UK. It could contribute significantly to our energy security, reducing our reliance on imported gas, as we move to a low carbon economy.”  13 December 2012, source edie newsroom

Power shortage risks by 2015, Ofgem warns

BBC Business NEWS 5 October 2012 Last updated at 13:34

Britain risks running out of energy generating capacity in the winter of 2015-16, according to the energy regulator Ofgem.

Its report predicted that the amount of spare capacity could fall from 14% now to only 4% in three years.

Ofgem said this would leave Britain relying more on imported gas, which would make price rises more likely.

The government said that its forthcoming Energy Bill would ensure that there was secure supply.

Ofgem blames the risk on coal-fired power stations being closed sooner than expected and EU environmental legislation.

The warnings come in Ofgem’s first annual Electricity Capacity Assessment.

It comes three years after Ofgem’s Project Discovery report, which warned that electricity shortages could lead to steep rises in energy bills.

It is now saying the highest risk of shortages would be sooner than expected because coal-fired power stations would be closing sooner than it had predicted in 2009.

‘Unprecedented challenges’
The regulator said more investment was needed in building fresh generating capacity.

“Consumers need protection from price spikes as well as power cuts”
Audrey Gallacher, Consumer Focus

“The unprecedented challenges in facing Britain’s energy industry… to attract the investment to deliver secure, sustainable and affordable energy supplies for consumers, still remain,” said Ofgem chief executive Alistair Buchanan.

“Ofgem is working with government on its plans to reform the electricity market to tackle these issues.”

Energy Secretary Ed Davey said the government would respond to the report before the end of the year.

“Security of electricity supply is of critical importance to the health of the economy and the smooth functioning of our daily lives,” he said.

“That is why the government is reforming the electricity market to deliver secure, clean and affordable electricity.”

Ofgem’s Ian Marlee: “There is an increased risk of electricity shortages”
Energy UK, which represents the energy industry, said Ofgem was right to highlight the challenges it faces in the coming years.

“We must secure over £150bn of investment in the UK to replace aging power stations and infrastructure, keep the lights on and meet our carbon targets,” said its chief executive Angela Knight.

“All while making sure that energy bills are affordable for the millions of homes and businesses that rely on the power supplied by our members.”

Price worries
The trade union Prospect, whose members include 21,000 professionals working in nuclear decommissioning and energy supply, called for government action to avert power shortages.

“This report highlights how imperative it is for the government to act now and introduce electricity market reform that ensures the programme of new nuclear build and other vital energy infrastructure projects, such as carbon capture and storage, are attractive enough to secure the long-term investment they require,” said Prospect general secretary designate Mike Clancy.

Audrey Gallacher, director of energy at Consumer Focus expressed concern about the dangers of rising prices.

“While there is enough generation capacity to mean that widespread power-cuts are still unlikely, narrower margins mean the risks of outages are higher and scarcity of energy could also feed into possible price rises in future,” he said.

“Consumers need protection from price spikes as well as power cuts.”

See also:
http://www.internationalorganizationsdesk.com/report-says-power-shortages-could-happen-early-2015-g499476519?language=en

Land of the setting sun

Opinion Resetting Gazprom Monday 17 September 2012

Finally there was some good news for Gazprom and President Putin last week and it came – of all places – from Tokyo. Japan’s momentous decision to phase out its nuclear power sector will bolster gas (and oil and coal) demand for a long time to come. Good for Gazprom – which surely needed a bit of good news. More on that in a moment. Let’s first consider the announcement by the government in Tokyo that it wants nuclear power to be phased out entirely by 2040.
Surely this is a staggering blow for the Japanese – and global – nuclear energy industry. Indeed, the decision might prove to be one of the great turning points in the history of energy.
Admittedly, 2040 is still some way off. A next Japanese government could reverse the decision. But that is not really the point. The point is rather that the government after the next one could then decide to reverse the reversal. Germany is also in its second phase-out after all. In other words, the signal that is being given is that the nuclear sector cannot count on a stable investment climate anymore in Japan. For a long-term, capital-intensive industry like a nuclear power that’s a death blow.
Nor will the repercussions of this decision be confined to Japan. In the nuclear sector, Japan counts for a lot more than Germany. In 2010, Japan had 54 nuclear power plants connected to the grid, accounting for almost 30% of electricity production. Germany had 17, good for 23%. More importantly, unlike Germany, Japan had ambitious plans to expand its nuclear production – to 50% of total power production. It also has, unlike Germany, a large export-oriented nuclear industry. To put it differently: Germany was always an anti-nuclear country, Japan was a pro-nuclear country.
But there is a wider message that needs to be considered here. This is, in effect, that nuclear power cannot rely on a stable investment climate anymore in any democratic country. What can happen in Germany and Japan, can happen in the US, UK and even France. Clearly this kind of “regulatory uncertainty” will have a highly negative impact on investors, on engineers, on policymakers, on energy strategists. Above all it will send young people the message that nuclear power is not the wave of the future. That it’s a dying industry. This can quickly become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The only future that nuclear energy has in this context is in centrally planned economies, where political leaders do not have to take public opinion into account – at least not directly. What kind of future is that?
Well, as they say, one man’s meat … In Moscow the Japanese decision will no doubt have been celebrated in some form or other. The Russian gas sector in particular needed a bit of good news. Gazprom has received one blow after the other in recent times. Shale gas is the biggest blow of course. The European Commission’s drive to remake the gas market (and undo oil-indexation) is another. To those two has now been added Brussels’ decision to launch an anti-trust investigation against Gazprom.
That last bit of news was met by President Putin with his usual bluster. He immediately issued a decree barring strategic Russian enterprises, including Gazprom, from disclosing information to foreign regulators. But then Russia has over the years consistently underestimated the sheer tenacity of the Brussels bureaucracy. Moscow – encouraged to some extent by Berlin, Paris and Rome – has never taken Brussels seriously and apparently still does not. This will prove to be a costly mistake.
And, despite the tonic from Tokyo, it would be another costly mistake for Russia to think that the gas market will now simply go its way. The shale revolution is much, much too big for that. It is spreading all over the world.
So what can Gazprom do? According to energy expert Alan Riley, Professor at the City Law School at City University in London – and a long-time Gazprom critic, it can do plenty. In an eye-opening analysis written for EER, he argues that in fact Gazprom is in an ideal position to profit from the coming “Golden Age of Gas”. Whether Moscow is open to such “friendly advice” from third parties is of course open to question. The Japanese are going for a full “energy reset”.

UK site celebrates delicensing

20 September 2012

A large area of one of the UK’s legacy nuclear sites will become available for redevelopment after regulators approved the removal of over ten hectares of land from the Winfrith nuclear site licence after decommissioning work.

The UK Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has approved the removal from the licence of an equivalent to about 12% of the Winfrith nuclear research and development site, which operated from the 1950s to the 1990s. This means the land can be redeveloped, and although there are no immediate plans it is anticipated that some of the newly delicensed area may be used for the development of a local green technology park.

Nine unique research and development reactors operated at Winfrith, in the southern English county of Dorset. The site has been undergoing decommissioning since the last operating reactor shut down in 1995, and seven of those nine have now been decommissioned and dismantled. The two remaining reactors – the Dragon prototype gas-cooled reactor and the Steam Generating Heavy Water Reactor (SGHWR), which was the only Winfrith reactor to supply electricity to the grid – have been defuelled and remain under care and maintenance in the zone which is still covered by the site licence.

Decommissioning work involves the removal of bulk radioactive material, dismantling and removal of contaminated parts of the facility, demolition work and final cleanup of the land to meet an agreed end state for future use. The newly delicensed area at Winfrith reflects the decommissioning and removal of several research facilities and other buildings including the zero energy reactor halls and fissile material store. Areas of grass now cover the land where some of Winfrith’s longest running research reactors once operated. Other areas released as part of the delicensing project contained an emergency services building, offices, workshops and a railhead. With redundant facilities removed, the land has been restored to brownfield status, prior to being made available for eventual non-nuclear use.

The closure of the site is managed by Research Sites Restoration Limited (RSRL), which is owned by Babcock International and operates under contract to the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Agency. Current plans would see the site’s final closure taking place in 2048, but the ONR notes that recently submitted proposals for an optimised decommissioning program from RSRL could see that date brought forward “significantly”. In a statement noting the release of the Winfrith land from the licence, the regulator expressed its confidence in RSRL’s ability to deliver on the optimised program.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News