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
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
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.
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.
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.