Tagged: Nuclear power

Britain’s Nuclear Secrets: Inside Sellafield will show viewers the reality of atomic power

Physicist Jim Al-Khalili will present Britain’s Nuclear Secrets: Inside Sellafield and aim to tell the story of the country’s often controversial nuclear industry

Sellafield nuclear plant is seen on February 24, 2005, in Sellafield, England. On March 17, 2011
Image: Sellafield nuclear plant is seen on February 24, 2005, in Sellafield, England. On March 17, 2011

Cameras are being allowed behind the scenes at the Sellafield nuclear power plant as part of a season of TV shows exploring the atomic age.

Physicist Jim Al-Khalili will present Britain’s Nuclear Secrets: Inside Sellafield and aim to tell the story of the country’s often controversial nuclear industry.

He said: “As a nuclear physicist, I found gaining such amazing access to somewhere as huge and important as Sellafield a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“Little is known about Britain’s nuclear industry so it’s no wonder that the general public have tended to be so suspicious of it, sometimes with good reason.

“So telling the story of Britain’s nuclear history, both the past failures and the recent successes, is vital.”

The show, part of the BBC Four Goes Nuclear season, promises “unprecedented access to some of the country’s most secret buildings” and examination of incidents including the 1957 fire at the site and subsequent controversy over radioactive leaks.

Other programmes include a Storyville documentary about the atomic age using archive footage and complete with a score by Mogwai and a film about the men and women who built the first atomic bomb in the dying days of World War Two.

Britain's Nuclear Secrets: Inside Sellafield
Image: Professor Jim Al-Khalili getting ready to split the atom 

BBC Four’s channel editor Cassian Harrison said: “BBC Four Goes Nuclear will give our audiences a chance to contemplate the history and the extraordinary potential of our nuclear age.

“We have unique access to Britain’s most renowned nuclear facility with the documentary Britain’s Nuclear Secrets: Inside Sellafield, alongside other captivating new and archive programmes for the channel.

“BBC Four Goes Nuclear will consider the nuclear age from all sides – its ground-breaking opportunities as well as its terrifying dangers.”

Source: Mirror

China in talks to build UK nuclear power plants

British officials talking to Chinese about plan that could see up to five reactors being built at cost of £35bn, sources say

A worker at the Oldbury nuclear power station before it was closed
A worker at the Oldbury nuclear power station before it was closed. Chinese nuclear firms reportedly want to build a new plant there. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

China is poised to make a dramatic intervention in Britain’s energy future by offering to invest billions of pounds in building a series of new nuclear power stations.

Officials from China’s nuclear industry have been in high-level talks with ministers and officials at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) this week about a plan that could eventually involve up to five different reactors being built at a total cost of £35bn.

Greenpeace described the move as desperate, while others warned of security fears, but the government has been courting China as the UK atomic programme has been hit by rows over subsidies and worries that EDF – the French company with the most advanced plans to build new reactors in the UK – could be hampered by the change of government in Paris.

China has operated its own atomic plants since 1994. It is awash with cash from its hugely successful industrial expansion and sees the UK as a potential shop window for exporting its atomic technology and expertise worldwide.

Companies from China have already invested in or taken over other infrastructure assets in Britain, such as Thames Water, the port of Felixstowe and the Grangemouth oil refinery. They also own businesses ranging from Weetabix to the Gieves & Hawkes tailoring brand.

The China National Nuclear Power Corporation (CNNPC), which is keen to invest in Britain, has just unveiled plans to raise about £17bn through a domestic share offering.

A team from the Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research and Design Institute (SNERDI), an arm of the huge China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), met senior DECC officials over the last few days, three different sources confirmed.

Read more here: The Guardian

Renewable energy is conquering quirky nature of Britain’s climate

Many new solar farms are springing up.

Britain’s energy supply is increasingly driven by the weather. As spring progresses, large numbers of new solar farms will make a noticeable difference to the energy mix. Wind farms on and offshore are also being brought on line.

At the same time the decision over whether to go ahead with Britain’s first new atomic plant in 30 years in Somerset has been put off again. Even if it is built the station is unlikely to be producing power before 2030. This leaves 15 years in which the electric output from renewables in their many forms will grow dramatically as costs fall. Solar, wind and small-scale hydropower are all now cheaper than new nuclear build and undersea turbines and even wave power are getting more competitive.

One big drawback to acceptance of renewables has been opponents drawing attention to the quixotic nature of British weather causing output to vary; but even that problem is being conquered. Individual solar systems for homes can now come with domestic water heating devices and batteries to run the house when the sun goes down. Much larger district batteries, storing energy from surplus wind and solar during the day, are providing power in the evening peak.

Energy policies seem to have lagged behind the exciting possibilities this holds out for Britain’s energy supply, contrasting sharply with enthusiasm for the stagnant nuclear industry. But clever engineering, smoothing out the peaks and troughs of renewable power, looks like making the nuclear industry redundant before a new station can be built.

Source: The Guardian

Nuclear power is the greenest option, say top scientists

Environmentalists urged to ditch their historical antagonism and embrace a broad energy mix

Nuclear power is one of the least damaging sources of energy for the environment, and the green movement must accept its expansion if the world is to avoid dangerous climate change, some of the world’s leading conservation biologists have warned.

Rising demand for energy will place ever greater burdens on the natural world, threatening its rich biodiversity, unless societies accept nuclear power as a key part of the “energy mix”, they said. And so the environmental movement and pressure groups such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace should drop their opposition to the building of nuclear power stations.

In an open letter to be published next month in the journal Conservation Biology, more than 65 biologists, including a former UK government chief scientist, support the call to build more nuclear power plants as a central part of a global strategy to protect wildlife and the environment.

The full gamut of electricity-generation sources, including nuclear power, must be used to replace the burning of fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas if the world is to have any chance of mitigating severe climate change, their letter says.

The letter is signed by several leading British academics including Lord May of Oxford, a theoretical biologist at Oxford University and former chief scientific adviser; Professor Andrew Balmford, a conservation biologist at Cambridge; and Professor Tim Blackburn, an expert in biodiversity at University College London.

As well as reducing the sources of carbon dioxide, the chief man-made greenhouse gas implicated in climate change, the expansion of nuclear power will leave more land to support biodiversity and so curb the extinction of species, they say.

Recognising the “historical antagonism towards nuclear energy” among environmentalists, they write: “Much as leading climate scientists have recently advocated the development of safe, next-generation nuclear energy systems to combat climate change, we entreat the conservation and environmental community to weigh up the pros and cons of different energy sources using objective evidence and pragmatic trade-offs, rather than simply relying on idealistic perceptions of what is ‘green’.”

It is too risky to rely solely on renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power for replacing fossil fuels because of problems to do with scalability, cost, materials and land use, they explain.

Nuclear power – being far the most compact and energy-dense of sources – could also make a major, and perhaps leading, contribution …. It is time that conservationists make their voices heard in this policy area,” they say.

A golf-ball-sized lump of uranium would supply the lifetime’s energy needs of a typical person, equivalent to 56 tanker trucks of natural gas, 800 elephant-sized bags of coal or a renewable battery as tall as 16 “super” skyscraper buildings placed one on top of the other, they said.

The letter was organised by Professor Barry Brook of the University of Tasmania and Professor Corey Bradshaw of the University of Adelaide. The two co-authored a paper in the January issue of Conservation Biology outlining the scientific case of nuclear power in terms of environmental protection. Of seven major technologies for generating electricity, nuclear power and wind energy had the highest benefit-to-cost ratio, they concluded.

“Trade-offs and compromises are inevitable and require advocating energy mixes that minimise net environmental damage. Society cannot afford to risk wholesale failure to address energy-related biodiversity impacts because of preconceived notions and ideals,” they said.

Professor Corey told The Independent on Sunday: “Our main concern is that society isn’t doing enough to rein in emissions… Unless we embrace a full, global-scale assault on fossil fuels, we’ll be in increasingly worse shape over the coming decades – and decades is all we have to act ruthlessly.

“Many so-called green organisations and individuals, including scientists, have avoided or actively lobbied against proven zero-emissions technologies like nuclear because of the associated negative stigma,” he said.

“Our main goal was to show – through careful, objective scientific analysis – that on the basis of cost, safety, emissions reduction, land use and pollution, nuclear power must be considered in the future energy mix,” he explained.

The letter aims to convince people of the potential benefits of nuclear power in a world where energy demand will increase as the climate begins to change because of rising levels of greenhouse gases, Professor Corey added.

“By convincing leading scientists in the areas of ecological sustainability that nuclear has a role to play, we hope that others opposed to nuclear energy on purely ‘environmental’ – or ideological – grounds might reconsider their positions,” he said.

Source: The Independent

Russia moves in on Finnish nuclear energy market

Finland is to build a new nuclear reactor in cooperation with Russia, despite growing EU energy security fears.

Dungeness Nuclear Power Station

Finland has announced controversial new plans to build a nuclear reactor in cooperation with Russian firm Rosatom.

The nuclear reactor will be built on the condition that Finland maintains an energy partnership with Russia over the coming years.

Sampo Terho, who is an MEP for Finland and a substitute member of parliament’s industry, research and energy committee, said, “I welcome Fortum taking a stake in Fennovoima nuclear power plant project as positive news, which hopefully will help to advance the project”.

He added that “nuclear power is an important part of the efforts to achieve the EU’s climate targets and this project is a step in the right direction”.

Last October, member states agreed to work to reduce EU domestic greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 per cent below the 1990 levels by 2030, and to increase the share of renewable energy to at least 27 per cent of the EU’s energy consumption by 2030.

The project has posed concerns due to Russia’s involvement, among deepening tensions between the country and the EU as the conflict in Ukraine rages on.

The strained relations between Russia and the EU have caused observers – including former council president Herman van Rompuy – to worry that Europe’s gas and energy supplies may be in jeopardy, as most of it is streamlined through Russia.

According to Eurostat data, in 2012, 33.7 per cent of the EU’s crude oil, 32 per cent of natural gas and 25.9 per cent of solid fuels were imported from Russia.

The commission has repeatedly expressed its hope for more energy security in Europe, and for the EU to produce more of its energy rather than relying on third countries. Last March, EU leaders asked the commission to come up with a plan to reduce the union’s energy dependence, especially to Russia.

Greens/EFA group co-president Rebecca Harms described the plans as “very regrettable”. She insisted that “the decision to build a new nuclear reactor is wrong; with a Russian partner, it is even worse, given the current situation in eastern Europe”.

The German deputy said, “seen from a European perspective the manoeuvre is totally contrary to the EU’s energy security goals, which aim to cut the EU’s damaging dependency on Russian energy”.

This is not the first time Rosatom has worked closely with a European firm, as it had previously teamed up with British company Rolls-Royce to assess the feasibility of introducing Russian nuclear reactor technology to the UK market.

Source: The Parliament Magazine

Growth in support for UK new build

Support for the construction of new nuclear power plants in the UK has grown by more than 10% over the past decade, with 45% of people now approving the building of new reactors, according to the latest Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) poll.

More than two-thirds (68%) of those who support the construction of new reactors to replace existing ones do so because of concerns about the UK’s energy self-sufficiency. Some 66% said they believe new reactors could reduce reliance on coal and gas.

The reliability of electricity supply from nuclear power plants was named as the main reason for supporting the construction of new reactors by 64% of respondents, an increase of seven percentage points over the past two years. Job creation and investment was cited as the second reason.

However, the poll highlighted a lack of knowledge on how the nuclear industry deals with its waste, with 82% of respondents who oppose the construction of new reactors citing this as their main reason. Only 21% of those questioned said they were aware of future plans for waste disposal.

Concerns about public safety was cited by 39% of those questioned as the main disadvantage of nuclear energy, down from 46% in 2012.

NIA chief executive Keith Parker said, “The UK is on the cusp of a major program of nuclear new build and the industry has to make sure that people trust and understand the sector.”

He said, “We often talk about the positive impact building new nuclear capacity will have on jobs and businesses. But, if we don’t build new nuclear power there will be a much bigger issue. The country will lose almost a fifth of its generating capacity, carbon dioxide emissions will rise, and the country would become more dependent on imported energy – something which concerns a large number of people.”

Referring to the results of the latest poll, Parker said it is “clear that industry and government need to engage openly and build greater understanding about what radioactive waste is. The British industry is successfully decommissioning old nuclear plants and that expertise is being used across the world. We should be proud of that.”

The online YouGov poll questioned 2015 UK adults between 10 and 17 November, the NIA said.

Source: World Nuclear News

EDF Energy to press on with Hinkley nuclear reactor project

Chief executive says construction of UK’s first reactor in 20 years should begin early next year despite financial pressures
Hinkley Point nuclear power station
Artist’s impression of EDF’s Hinkley Point C station. Photograph: EDF/PA  

EDF Energy expects to give the go ahead before spring for construction of the UK’s first new nuclear reactor for 20 years, despite financial problems at its partner Areva and a warning on the difficulty of such projects.

The comments from Vincent de Rivaz, EDF chief executive, came at a nuclear conference where senior industry figures raised fears of a skills and supply chain crunch at the £25bn Hinkley Point C power station in Somerset.

De Rivaz admitted that delays at its Flamanville plant in France were a setback, but insisted they would not impact financially on the British project, which is using the same European pressurised reactor (EPR) technology.

“We should be under no illusion that building new nuclear plants has never been easy,” he told the Nuclear Industries Association (NIA). “We take the construction risk for Hinkley Point C – not the customers. Let us be clear, the cost of Hinkley Point C has not increased by one penny as a result of the delays at Flamanville.”

The EDF executive said volatile oil prices, uncertainty over Russian energy supplies and high hopes for a binding new climate change agreement to restrict carbon emissions underlined the need for new nuclear plants.

De Rivaz said legal and other work needed to be completed before EDF could give the final investment decision on Hinkley Point, but he remained confident that a positive decision could be made in the first quarter of 2015. He said discussions with potential new and existing foreign shareholders to the project were continuing.

Asked about the problems at Areva, designer of the EPR and shareholder in the Hinkley project, De Rivaz said the French government, which owned the majority of shares in the business, had agreed to support it as a going concern.

Read the full article here http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/dec/04/edf-energy-nuclear-reactor-hinkley

Source: Guardian