Renew On Line (UK) 64

Extracts from NATTA's journal
Renew, Issue 164 Nov-Dec 2006
   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         

1. Energy Review and the RO

2. Scotland Accelerates
3. Micro power doubts
4. UK’s first combined PV and wind system
5. Marine Power - wave and tidal ups & downs
6. Tyndall say 90% CO2 cut needed
7. Local Biofuel growth stalled
8. Ramblers fear wind farms
9. Carbon Rationing
10. Planning for Decentral Power
11. UK funding for sustainable energy
12. UK Roundup
13. Renewables in Europe
14. World Renewables
15. Nuclear News

15. Nuclear News

EPR public enquiry

Setting up a local public enquiry into the proposed construction of the European Pressurised-water Reactor (EPR) at EdF’s Flamanville site in N. Western France, prime minister de Villepin said the Flamanville reactor was ‘essential for our country’s energy future’. However, according to Modern Power Systems, current economic conditions have pushed the estimated cost of the development up by around 10% as steel and copper prices rise and the project is now estimated to cost some euro 3.3 bn, giving an estimated generation cost of euro46/MWh, a slight increase compared with the initial estimates. Given agreement from the Public Inquiry, which in France are relatively low key local affairs lasting a few weeks at most, construction is expected to start in 2007, with commissioning set for 2012.

However, there are some unresolved issues- and some opposition. See our Reviews for a report on IEER’s claim that France could do without nuclear and still reduce emissions:

Moreover, according to a leaked EDF report seen by New Scientist (18/5/06), the EPR is not designed to withstand a 9/11-style aircraft attack by terrorists. New Scientist said that the report claimed that the EPR ‘is capable of resisting an accidental crash by a five-tonne military fighter... but only by extrapolation does it argue that the reactor will also withstand the impact of a 250-tonne commercial airliner flown deliberately into it’, a view challenged by independent nuclear engineer, John Large, as ‘entirely unjustified’.

* As the Daily Mirrors’ spoof bomb attack on a waste shipment in a NW London railway siding in July illustrated, the UK also has security problems. A paper presented to the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management highlighted in particular the danger posed by liquid waste from the reprocessing of nuclear fuel at Sellafield. But the DTI’s Office for Civil Nuclear Security said it was convinced that the procedures for protecting civil nuclear installations and processes were ‘robust and fit for the purpose’, although it recognised that attention to some other issue, such as better waste conditioning, could ‘make a positive contribution to safety’. Sellafield already has a no-fly zone overhead and RAF fighters are ready to scramble if an aircraft enters the zone, plus other security measures, some imposed after 9/11, and is patrolled by its own armed police force- costing around £50m p.a.

*A web map showing the possible effects of a major accident at a UK nuclear plant (you can choose which), is available at:

Spanish phase out ?

After a six month period of review/discussion, a government-led study has concluded that it was important to keep the public involved in the question of what to do about nuclear energy. It added that Spain had to take decisions on the storage of nuclear waste as quickly as possible. The Industry Ministry said ‘it is advisable to intensify efforts to provide objective information... so people can form opinions based on knowledge’.

The Socialist government has pledged to wind down Spain’s nuclear industry, which provides around 20% of its electricity. However, this will be challenging since Spain imports 80% of its energy- but with oil prices rising, change is also attractive and many utilities are now focusing on renewable sources like wind and solar power. Spain closed down one of its nuclear plants in the spring and has six left.

Other phase out news

A two-year foundation degree, run by the University of Central Lancashire and Lakes College, west Cumbria, will be Britain’s first course in dismantling nuclear plants. Organisers said the course was being set up in response to the government’s pledge to spend £50bn cleaning up the nuclear facilities (now more like £70bn). But it will also look at plant construction and operation. FT May 29

In the USA the Trojan Nuclear plant is being decomissioned. You can watch the spectacular demolition of its cooling tower at:

French leak

A radioactive waste site, CSA in Soulaine in the Champagne area of France, has been leaking, according to ANDRA, its operator, who reported that ‘the wall of a storage cell fissured’ while concrete was being added to seal a recent layer of waste. In the 1980’s, when the site was first proposed, ANDRA stated categorically that their dump site would not release any radioactivity. Now the French nuclear authority is saying ‘this event revealed a flaw in the conception of the storage cells of the site.’

Once full, the site will be one of the world’s largest with over 1 million cu meters of low/intermediate waste. A new high-level waste site is being planned in Bure, also in the Champagne region. EdF’s reactors produce 1,200 tonnes of waste every year.
Source: Greenpeace International

US poll: ‘renewables not nuclear’

US President Bush has suggested that ‘Nuclear power will help us deal with the issue of greenhouse gases... Nuclear power helps us protect the environment’, and in May the White House announced that a special working group, led by the National Economic Council, has been established to oversee the expansion of nuclear power in the United States, unofficially referred to as the nuclear accelerator working group. However, a national survey by the Civil Society Institute, a nonpartisan and nonprofit think tank, found that 61% of Americans think nuclear power is too costly and too far in the future to address climate change, and favour renewables /increased energy saving. According to the survey, 75% would be concerned if ‘nuclear power was focused on at the expense of renewable, clean and safe alternative energy solutions’ such as ‘solar, wind and other less expensive and more rapidly delivered energy solutions’.

IEER on Nuclear

The US based Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) has produced a very timely, comprehensive and hard hitting book on nuclear power: ‘Insurmountable Risks: The Dangers of Using Nuclear Power to Combat Global Climate Change’ by Brice Smith. Download the executive summary from:

‘Fusion is renewable’

The international consortium that is to construct ITER, the $5bn International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, at Cadarache, S.France, involves the US, Japan, China, Russia, India, S.Korea & the EU. It is expected to be completed by 2015 and to operate for 20 years. US energy secretary Samuel Bodman said ‘As partners in ITER, we are pursuing the promise of unlimited, clean, safe, renewable and commercially available energy from nuclear fusion, which has the potential to significantly strengthen energy security, at home and abroad. Fusion is renewable; commercial fusion reactors would use lithium and deuterium, both readily available natural resources.’ The US Dept. of Energy has already allocated $25m to ITER and Bush has asked for $60m next year.

UK round up
No to nuclear

‘On the basis of the information I have so far seen, I am not convinced of the case for proceeding to a new generation of nuclear power stations in this country. I believe that investment in conservation and renewable energy offers a more reliable route to the energy sustainability which this country needs.’’ Charles Clarke, former Home Secretary , BBC On-Line, Sept 5th. He added ‘The power of nuclear energy makes it a natural magnet for terrorist activity'.

Nuclear v Renewables

The Commons Trade and Industry Committee’s report ‘New nuclear? Examining the issues’ in July got rather lost given the parallel launch of the Energy Review. But it contained some interesting points e.g. on how support for nuclear might undermine renewables, which will hopefully be taken up in the forthcoming White paper. We’ll review it in Renew 165

Ten times more

Meanwhile, taking a wider view, writing in Science, Sir Martin Rees, president of the Royal Society, lamented the G8’s lack of resolve and called for a NASA-Apollo type push to develop alternative energy sources, with at least 10 times the $1.5bn a year funding that goes into researching nuclear fusion.

Cheap -while stocks last?

Prof. Robin Grimes of Imperial College London says that nuclear power could be generated at 2-3p /kWh, while KPMG, says a new1GW plant would only cost £1.2-1.5bn. However the positive spin was dented by the news that Finlands new reactor is now a year behind schedule, while ex-Minister Michael Meacher has claimed that there may not be enough high grade uranium to fuel a new fleet of

Some MOX sold

British Nuclear Group has signed a new mixed oxide fuel supply contract for Sellafields troubled MOX plant with German utility EnBW Kernkraft, for the supply and transport of MOX fuel to EnBW’s Neckarwestheim 2 reactor. It also requires EnBW to commit to convert all the plutonium arising from their reprocessing contract at Sellafield into MOX. But this presumably means BNG has to get the MOX plant- & THORP- working properly!

UK Clean-up costs

In June, Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks reported that ‘As a result of the restructuring of British Energy, Government will underwrite the company’s segregated decommissioning fund. This fund will cover the costs of decommissioning British Energy’s nuclear power stations as well as certain other liabilities relating to waste management.’ He noted that the Government will underwrite this fund to the extent that the liabilities outweigh the assets, but he said that a recent valuation put the assets of the segregated fund at £8.1bn, ‘which exceeds the recent revised forecast of the liabilities’.

He also reported that ‘following the successful conclusion of the EC State Aid Review... financial responsibility for decommissioning BNFL sites has passed to the NDA under the Energy Act 2004. Until this point BNFL held nuclear funding assets of some £17.3 bn on its balance sheet to fund future decommissioning costs. Following the transfer of the nuclear decommissioning liability to the NDA, these assets have been transferred back to the Government.’

But that still leaves at lot more to find- the total clean up cost has been put at around £70bn and maybe more.
*BNFL has reported a 23% rise in profits to £208m.

NATTA/Renew Subscription Details

Renew is the bi-monthly 30 plus page newsletter of NATTA, the Network for Alternative Technology and Technology Assessment. NATTA members gets Renew free. NATTA membership cost 18 pa (waged) 12pa (unwaged), 6 pa airmail supplement (Please make cheques payable to 'The Open University', NOT to 'NATTA')

Details from NATTA , c/o EERU,
The Open University,
Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA
Tel: 01908 65 4638 (24 hrs)

The full 32 (plus) page journal can be obtained on subscription
The extracts here only represent about 25% of it.

This material can be freely used as long as it is not for commercial purposes and full credit is given to its source.

The views expressed should not be taken to necessarily reflect the views of all NATTA members, EERU or the Open University.

We are now offering to e-mail subscribers a PDF version of the complete Renew, instead  of sending them the printed version, should they wish.