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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.

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:

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

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:

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

EC blessing for new UK plant

07 August 2012

The European Commission (EC) has said it is satisfied with EDF Energy’s proposals to build and operate a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point C.

EDF Energy submitted relevant documentation to the European Commission in January 2010 in line with the requirements of the Euratom Treaty, under which developers of new nuclear power stations must notify the EC of any investment projects. All aspects of the project relating to the objectives of the Euratom Treaty were subsequently assessed through an internal EC working group and through discussions between the EC and the investor.

The EC presented its opinion under Article 41 of the treaty to the UK government in a document dated 12 July. In it, it concludes that the project to build two EPR reactors at the site in the county of Somerset in England’s south-west “fulfils the objectives of the Euratom Treaty and contributes to develop a sustainable national energy mix”.

The recent opinion follows a separate view on cross-border impacts expressed by the EC in May, under Article 37 of the treaty. It concluded that Hinkley Point C “is not liable to result in radioactive contamination of the water, soil or airspace of another Member State that would be significant from the point of view of health.”

EDF Energy Nuclear New Build managing director Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson described the latest EC decision as great news as the company works towards securing the necessary planning and regulatory consents for the project. “We are delighted that the European Commission has given the Hinkley Point C project a clean bill of health,” he said, adding that the verdict was the result of “a lot of hard work”.

It is just over a year since EDF lodged a nuclear site licence application with UK regulators for the plant. The company has already secured local government permission for preparatory works at the site, which is adjacent to the two shut down Magnox reactors at Hinkley Point A and two operating advanced gas cooled reactors at Hinkley Point B.

The Euratom Treaty, signed in 1957, established the European Atomic Energy Community (now referred to as Euratom) and is one of the founding treaties of the European Union (EU). It was initially created to coordinate member states’ research programs for the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Today, it helps to pool knowledge, infrastructure and funding of nuclear energy across the EU and ensures the security of atomic energy supply within the framework of a centralised monitoring system.

Researched and written by WNN

British Energy Policy article

British energy policy is a dark underworld of fanatics

The government’s decision to direct resources to nuclear and wind is typical of an institution befuddled and beset by lobbyists.

Simon Jenkins, Tuesday 22 May 2012 20.30 BST

Anyone who claims to understand energy policy is either mad or subsidised. Last week I wrote that politics is seldom rational. It is more often based on intuition and tribal prejudice. This week we have a thundering example: the government’s new policy on nuclear energy.

Do not read on if you want a conclusion on this subject. For years I have read papers, books, surveys and news stories, and am little wiser. I trust to science and am ready to believe there is some great mathematician, some Fermat’s last theorem, who can write an equation showing where energy policy should turn. I have never met him.

The equation would start with the current market price of coal, gas, oil, nuclear and so-called “renewables”. That would give simple primacy to coal and gas. The equation would then factor in such variables as security of supply, which – being imponderable – can be argued from commercial interest and prejudice. Then it would have to take account of global warming and the virtue of lower carbon emissions. At this point the demons enter.

We must consider CO2 reduction through substituting gas for coal, carbon capture, nuclear investment, biomass, wind, wave, solar and tidal generation. We must consider the application of fiscal policy to gas and petrol use, to energy efficiency and house insulation. Each has a quantity attached to it and each a fanatical lobby drooling for subsidies. As for achieving a remotely significant degree of global cooling, that requires world diplomacy – which has, as yet, proved wholly elusive.

Britain’s contribution to cooling can only be so infinitesimal as to be little more than gesture politics, yet it is a gesture that is massively expensive. Meeting the current EU renewables directive, largely from wind, would cost some £15bn a year, or £670 a household, and involve the spoliation of swaths of upland, countryside and coast. It is calculated to save a mere 0.2% of global emissions, with negligible impact on the Earth’s sea level.

Yet the government wants to commit a staggering £100bn to wind farm subsidies over the next decade, almost all to rich landowners. Northamptonshire, with England’s most planned wind farms per acre (and least wind), will probably have turbines visible from horizon to horizon. Will this really so impress China and India as to persuade them to change their emissions policies? It is like a primitive tribe burning its wives and treasure to awe an enemy into submission.

So complex is the mathematics of these calculations that it rapidly dissolves into naked prejudice: irrational fear of nuclear, urban hatred of landscape, leftwing loathing for oil companies. Yesterday the government was forced to pretend that it is not subsidising nuclear power at all, a fuel I can support but which is ruinously expensive on present, probably exaggerated, estimates of risk. Investing in it would require massive government intervention – with consumers paying some £200 a year above the market price of electricity – almost as much as does “free” wind power.

The energy minister, Ed Davey, squirmed on the BBC yesterday morning, a politician who could not persuade people he was doing the right thing – and was therefore probably doing the wrong one.

Energy policy is a dark underworld populated by fanatics and necromancers. Read through the literature and you will learn that nuclear means tsunamis, terrorists and Frankenstein monsters, or is as harmless as a local radiology clinic. Biomass is the new dawn, or threatens half the world’s forests. Wind turbines are free energy, or they tear up peat and exhaust Mongolian minerals.

We face a “peak oil” crisis, or we do not. We face a nuclear winter, or not. We can live for ever on shale gas, or it causes earthquakes. The world is doomed anyway (James Lovelock) or not doomed at all (Nigel Lawson). All Europe could be wired to the Saharan desert, or perhaps only in theory.

We feel our way through this miasma by relying on gut instinct or on those we blindly trust. The public sums allotted in grants and price enhancements to green energy – with 8 million people facing fuel poverty – are so enormous they have bred an army of lobbyists clamouring to protect every programme for every resource under, and including, the sun. They pounce hysterically on any opponent of their favoured watt or therm.

For my part, I must patiently await my mathematician. Until then I will never be persuaded that the beauty of the British landscape should be sacrificed for an insignificant reduction in global warming, one that is obliterated by a Chinese power station in minutes. My view is reinforced by the Welsh scientist, Sir Roger Williams, in his 2009 British Academy lecture. He remarked his “greatest hope among renewables is of tidal power … both predictable and potentially substantial”. He supported the Severn barrage, a sacrifice of landscape preferable to putting the Cambrian mountains under wind turbines.

Another trusty is Dieter Helm, Oxford professor of energy policy, who makes the seemingly obvious point that since gas is cheap and prevalent and has lower emissions than coal, the biggest carbon gain is won by a straight switch from coal to gas. As for preferring direct resources to the two most expensive energy sources, nuclear and offshore wind, that could appeal only to an institution now as befuddled and beset by lobbyists as the British Treasury.

Nuclear Waste Consultation Closes

23 March 2012

By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News

Failure to agree on a repository will lead to waste being stored for long periods above ground Continue reading the main story

Friday marks the end of a consultation that could determine the fate of the UK’s high-level radioactive waste.

Above: The repository plan would see the waste contained in canisters and buried beneath Cumbria.

West Cumbria residents have been asked for their views on whether local councils should enter formal talks with government on hosting a repository.

More than 750 responses have been sent and will be analysed in coming months.

West Cumbria is the only place to have expressed interest. If it decides against, there is no other option on the table for disposal of this waste.

If talks go ahead, the repository deep in the Cumbrian rock could begin receiving waste from the UK’s fleet of nuclear reactors – some of which have already closed – from around 2040.

The consultation is being managed by the West Cumbria Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) Partnership, formed by the three councils interested – Copeland and Allerdale Borough Councils, and Cumbria County Council.

The partnership has also run a number of discussion events in community centres and a web-based seminar.

Tim Knowles, chair of the partnership and a member of Cumbria County Council, said public opinion was crucial in determining whether formal talks go ahead.

“Normally we live in a system where there’s an elective representative democracy, where people elect representatives to make decisions for them,” he told BBC News. “But in this case, the government has made it clear there must be broad support from the public, and that has to be demonstrable through this consultation.
“In my view it would be impossible for the local authorities to move ahead if there was very clear opposition from the general public.”

There has already been opposition from local anti-nuclear groups, some of whom decided not to take up invitations to join the partnership.

Pete Roche, an independent consultant on nuclear issues who advises the Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) organisation, said the safety case for the repository had not been made.

“NFLA are extremely concerned about a number of outstanding issues that are still to be looked at before we could even begin to produce a decent safety case for deep geological disposal,” he said.

“It seems to us that the geology in West Cumbria is particularly bad – and in this process, voluntarism comes before geology, and local communities could be left with the effects of that.”

He was aware, he said, of 900 issues that needed to be investigated, including the possibility that gases containing radioactive elements could force their way to the surface.

Balance of risks

The government decided to adopt a ‘voluntarist’ approach to the nuclear waste issue in 2006.

Previous attempts to find a deep disposal site, it concluded, had foundered principally because communities felt the facility was being foisted upon them.

Finland and Sweden pioneered the voluntarist approach and in both cases it has led to communities actively bidding to be the host.

Although about 16 local authorities around the UK made initial enquiries, the three Cumbrian councils were the only ones to take matters any further.

The risk assessment for local people is that about 70% of the nation’s high-level waste is already in the region – at Sellafield.

‘Open and transparent’

West Cumbria MRWS Partnership will publish all responses to the consultation in a few months’ time, alongside a report detailing what it sees as the implications.

Then, each of the three councils will decide whether it wants to enter talks.

If they do, they will be able to negotiate benefits for local communities, and will have the option of withdrawing at any stage until a final contract is signed.

Biomass Blaze Highlights Bizarre Nature of ‘Renewable’ Energy

Sunday Telegraph 11 March 2012

Biomass blaze highlights bizarre nature of ‘renewable’ energy

On February 27, 120 firemen were rushed to deal with a major incident at Tilbury, east of London, where 6,000 tons of wood pellets had caught fire at what is now ”the world’s largest biomass power station’’. Until recently Tilbury was one of England’s 14 remaining coal-fired power plants. But, attracted by the 100 per-cent-plus subsidies we pay to help meet the EU target whereby within eight years, 32 per cent of our electricity must come from ”renewables’’, the plant’s German owners, RWE, have converted it to burning more than half a million tons of pellets a year, imported from Georgia, US, where the wood is grown and processed.

One problem is that large quantities of green wood are liable to combust, the most likely cause of this fire (the second such in Britain in recent months). Another is that wood generates energy so much less efficiently than coal that the plant’s output has fallen from 1,100 megawatts to only 750MW. (However, this is still two-thirds of the power generated on average by all our 3,500 wind turbines combined.)

Rather more serious, though, since the claimed purpose of ”biomass’’ is to help reduce Britain’s emissions of carbon dioxide, is that the wood actually emits more CO2 for each unit of electricity it produces than the coal it replaced (not to mention all the additional CO2 emitted by processing and shipping it across the Atlantic). This recently led that bizarre body, the Committee on Climate Change, set up to advise the Government under the Climate Change Act, to recommend that biomass power stations should only be permitted to operate if they are fitted with ”carbon capture and storage’’, designed to pipe away and bury all the CO2 they emit.

So, in order to reduce our CO2 emissions, we subsidise power companies to burn wood which ends up emitting much more CO2 than the fossil fuels it replaces, so that the Government is now told that this should only be allowed if the firms then remove that CO2 by a process so CO2 intensive that it doubles the cost of the electricity, in order to bury it under the sea using technology not yet commercially developed and which, according to various scientific studies, will never work anyway,

Yet according to the Department for Energy and Climate Change, ”biomass’’ is going to be as important to meeting our EU targets
as those useless windmills.

Thus in every direction do the ”green dreams’’ of those who rule us in London and Brussels collide with reality.