Renew On Line (UK) 68

Extracts from NATTA's journal
Renew, Issue 168 July-Aug 2007
   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         


1. Energy White Paper - and Planning White paper

2. LCBP Household Woes- micropower issues

3. Wave & tidal projects - and the Marine Bill

4. Budget and Climate Bill Reactions

5. Biofuel progress- ban them?

6. The Greening of Brown- and Hain

7. BG goes beyond gas

8. World developments- IPCC latest

9. Around the EU- Dutch, Danes,talians Germans all at it

10. US news -New US plans

11. Nuclear Developments -Australia, China, UK

11. Nuclear Developments

Australian Objections

The Australian Business Council for Sustainable Energy has criticised the claim in the Australian Federal governments Nuclear Review (see Renew 167) that the cost of nuclear in 2020 is comparable with other energy technologies, and therefore is economically feasible. It says that the Review, which was led by Dr Ziggy Switkowski, has ignored the costings by its own consultants, which show that nuclear power is in fact considerably more expensive than the other energy technologies.

The BCSE say that the Review ‘touts the hypothetical costs of a nuclear reactor in 2020- which the Review panel’s own consultants say are yet to be proven in practice. The hypothetical cost that the Review came up with is $40 to $65 per megawatt hour (MWh). This figure is less than the detailed nuclear costings by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago, of $75 - $105 per MWh. In the Review, the cost of this hypothetical nuclear reactor in 2020 is compared with current clean energy technology costs that are in place today. This is a false comparison- akin to comparing apples with oranges.’

It goes on ‘When we look at a ‘like-with-like’ comparison for a range of clean energy technologies in 2020 based on the Review panel’s own consultants’ report, a very different picture emerges’. - and it provides the following data:

Technology / Fuel 2020 Cost per MWh
Nuclear $40 to $65
Bagasse $30 to $42
Other Biomass $36 to $90
Gas $30 to $36
Wind $35
Solar Thermal $97

It comments ‘As the table shows, nuclear is more expensive than a range of technologies than can be rolled out in large quantities over the next 20 years to meet our growing power needs. Further, no assessment of geothermal was included in their assessment which has ignored a massive cost-effective resource. The expected cost of geothermal is less than 60MWh in 2020. Biomass, geothermal and gas are storable forms of energy which can be turned up or down as needed- exploding the myth that either nuclear or coal are the only baseload power options. As the Switkowski report confirms, Australia will not succeed in cutting greenhouse emissions without Government intervention to put a price on carbon pollution.’ It concludes ‘Let’s stop second-guessing the market and just get on with it’.

China opts for AP1000

Westinghouse Electric Company and its consortium partner The Shaw Group have announced that China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Company has selected the Westinghouse AP1000 advanced passive reactor design for four new nuclear plants to be constructed at the Sanmen and Yangjiang sites.

US-based Westinghouse was until recently owned by BNFL, but Toshiba has been accepted as the preferred bidder in a $5billion sell off, with US company Shaw as a partner. Toshiba, beat off rival bids from US group General Electric and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

WEC backs nuclear

The World Energy Council has produced a report on the role of Nuclear Power in Europe, which claims that, as WEC Secretary General Gerald Doucet put it ‘Nuclear Power has an important role in the energy mix if we are to achieve sustainability and improve global accessibility, acceptability and availability of modern energy services’.

However WEC says that there are still economic and public acceptability problems to resolve, including the waste issue. But oddly it claims that if spent fuel is reprocessed, only ‘about 4% of the original fission products would be buried and the remaining 96% of useful uranium and plutonium recycled and reused’. This is a little disingenuous. It is true that if the plutonium and uranium are extracted from spent fuel, then there is much less active material to deal with, but the chemical separation processes create a lot of low and intermediate wastes.

The report concludes that the future of nuclear ‘will depend on innovation, such as the development of new reactor and fuel cycle technologies. To be successful, these technologies need to address concerns related to nuclear safety, proliferation and waste generation. They also need to be able to generate electricity at competitive prices’, and it highlights the need for ‘added support for nuclear R&D with a special focus on Generation 3+ and Generation 4 technologies, which are expected to be available between 2030 and 2040’. These are portrayed very optimistically, as being ‘expected to increase efficiency by almost 80 times the current levels, lower costs and decrease proliferation risks’.

It goes on even more fancifully ‘they are expected to make nuclear power sustainable while reducing by almost 100 times the need for natural uranium and the production of long lived radioactive waste. They are also expected to extend its application to non-electricity products such as hydrogen, synthetic hydrocarbon fuels and process heat for the industry.’
..and so do Blair & Miliband
‘Around the world today people are recognising that it will be very difficult for us to have energy security as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and CO2 emissions without replacing our existing nuclear power stations. If we do not take that action now- we have to make decisions now- we will face a situation over the next few years in which our dependence on gas imports rises, and we are unable to meet our CO2 emissions targets and make sure that we have proper energy security.’ Tony Blair in Jan. in Parliament.

And in an interview in the London News (22/01), asked if nuclear should be part of our future energy mix, Environment Secretary David Miliband answered ‘I think nuclear is part of that’. Later on he said ‘old nuclear power stations are coming to the end of their lives, and I can’t see how we’re going to meet our CO2 commitment with fewer[nuclear] stations than we have now.’ See Groups for SERA’s dilemma: Miliband is their president.

BE all set to go?

Nuclear generator British Energy has formally announced that it’s seeking partners for joint ventures in building a new fleet of nuclear plants in the UK. But a reminder of the problems came when in Feb., the operators of the nuclear site at Dournreay, Caithness, the UK Atomic Energy Authority, were fined £140,000 for releasing radioactive particles into the sea and illegally dumping radioactive waste over a period of more than 20 years. They are not alone. British Nuclear Fuels has also recently been fined £500,000 for the serious leak of radioactive liquid inside the Thorp reprocessing plant in Cumbria. Collaborative computing project

UK ‘must act on waste’
An IEA study of UK energy policy, called for a ‘rapid move towards the selection and implementation of a comprehensive policy for radioactive waste disposal’ to bolster ‘potential investment in new nuclear’. There was ‘substantial uncertainty which will act as a barrier to new plant[s]’.

The Energy Alberta Corporation wants to have a Candu twin reactor plant in
Northern Alberta to provide energy to extract oil from tar sands- by 2016/7.

France - non
French NGOs, united in ‘RAC’ (Reseau Action Climat), have opposed their governments attempt to include nuclear in the new EU 20% non-fossil energy plan.

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