Archive for the ‘Nuclear power’ Category

Small modular reactors [credit: ANS Nuclear Cafe]

Small modular reactors [credit: ANS Nuclear Cafe]

Climate News Network reports on a possible alternative to the mega-sized nuclear plants of the last century.

The nuclear industry sees the UK as a springboard for its plans to expand in the next 20 years, especially as a pioneer in the deployment of a new breed of small reactors.

Despite the UK referendum vote to leave the European Union, the industry is confident that many small reactors will be built in Britain and that the country will become a showcase for the industry and an exporter of the technology. The ideal is for each town to have its own reactor.


nuke-powerIn a surprise move, the UK govt has put the brakes on the Hinkley Point nuclear power contract. Yesterday, there was anticipation in the media that the directorate of EDF would approve the scheme. In the event, the vote was 10 to 7 in favour, though one director resigned beforehand.

Maybe the depth of the split on the EDF board has given the new UK government the jitters. In a brief two line statement this morning, the business secretary, Greg Clark, said the government would now examine all components of the deal and decide in the Autumn whether to go ahead, or not.


Credit: Wikipedia

Credit: Wikipedia

Sanity went out of the window some time ago in the Western world’s ideas on electricity supply, and California’s leaders have been keen to lead that type of charge, in league with ‘green’ pressure groups, as Somewhat Reasonable points out.

“California’s largest utility and environmental groups announced a deal Tuesday [June 21] to shutter the last nuclear power plant in the state.” This statement from the Associated Press reporting about the announced closure of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant should startle you.

The news about shutting down California’s last operating nuclear power plant, especially after Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) had sought a 20-year extension of the operating licenses for the two reactors, is disappointing—not startling.

What should pique your ire is that the “negotiated proposal,” as the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) called it, is between the utility company and environmental groups—with no mention of the regulators elected to insure that consumers have efficient, effective and economical electricity.


Small modular reactors [credit: ANS Nuclear Cafe]

Small modular reactors [credit: ANS Nuclear Cafe]

A thousand or two of these and Hinkley Point C could be surplus to requirements. — PEI reporting.

A UK-based small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) development consortium has announced a co-operation agreement with the Polish National Centre for Nuclear Research (NCBJ) aimed at deploying its U-Battery technology in Poland.  


credit: IB Times

credit: IB Times

This non-project (so far) must hold some sort of record for delays, doubts, cost increases and basic feasibility. PEI reports on the latest negative news.

The beleaguered Hinkley Point C project in western England is set to suffer another setback, with the unions involved in EDF reinforcing their opposition to the nuclear power plant project going ahead.


Hinkley Point, Somerset [image credit:]

Hinkley Point, Somerset
[image credit:]

This could be yet another spanner in the works for the tottering nuclear power project that Britain’s political leaders seem so keen on. On the other hand a negative view from Greenpeace of nuclear power is no surprise.
H/T Power Engineering International

Legal opinion commissioned by Greenpeace suggests that any French government financial support to EDF to enable the company to build the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in the UK would almost certainly be blocked by the European Commission.

The legal viewpoint is that the commission would not agree to government assistance as it would constitute a breach of state aid guidelines.


Decision time? [credit: Bussolati]

Decision time? [credit: Bussolati]

Now EDF has to show it wouldn’t be sidelining renewable energy projects if it committed to building Hinkley nuclear plant, reports the Telegraph. Can it get any more farcical?

Hinkley Point C could still be postponed, French energy minister Ségolène Royal has said, in an apparent sign of division within the French government over the controversial nuclear project.


Hinkley Point C nuclear site [image credit: BBC]

Hinkley Point C nuclear site [image credit: BBC]

The Hinkley Point nuclear saga rumbles on. Engineers reckon the design is out-of-date and needs replacing, as PEI reports.

EDF’s engineers have circulated a paper to all executives internally counselling against developing the Hinkley Point C nuclear power project.

The white paper said that the “realistic service date was 2027” due to the size of the project, continuing design modifications to the European Pressurised Reactor system and the “very low” competency of French supplier Areva in making some of the large components.


Could this be the UK’s last chance to be even slightly sensible about electricity generation?


By Paul Homewood


Rolls-Royce is engaged in discussion with the UK government over the possibility of its expertise being used to develop small modular nuclear reactors as an alternative to larger projects such as the controversial Hinkley Point C plant.
The company argues that the mini reactors it is championing are a more viable medium-term solution to
Britain’s looming energy crisis, although the first crop of new large reactors will still need to be deployed.

NuScale SMR nuclear reactor

Rolls says its expertise gained producing power plants for the Royal Navy’s submarines means it’s ideally positioned to fill the gap in the UK’s energy requirement while larger projects are being developed.
Hinkley Point C was initially meant to start generating next year but has been beset with problems linked to design and financing arrangements.
Paul Stein, Rolls’s director of research and technology, said: “Traditional plants are bespoke projects and aren’t getting cheaper…

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Hinkley Point site [image credit: IB Times]

Hinkley Point site [image credit: IB Times]

More pain for UK nuclear plans as the finance issue erupts again and French unions claim the reactor design is still faulty. Analogies to sinking ships and rats spring to mind.

EDF has confirmed that its finance director has quit ahead of an expected final investment decision on the £18bn Hinkley Point nuclear power plant. Thomas Piquemal stepped down because he feared the project could jeopardise EDF’s financial position, according to reports.

EDF shares opened 8.2% lower on Monday. Last month, Chris Bakken, the director of the project that could produce 7% of UK electricity by 2025, said he was leaving to pursue other opportunities.


Waiting...waiting... [credit:]


The seemingly endless saga of the UK’s attempts to get a new nuclear plant rumbles on ad infinitum, as PEI reports. This news comes as UK coal plants are closing at an ever-faster rate.

There are fears that final approval for the Hinkley Point C project in south western England may be delayed for another year, as the company’s board frets about seeking new investors for the project. The Financial Times reports that the company is concerned about being exposed if it doesn’t secure additional backing.

The nuclear power plant, originally set for a 2017 opening, has since been put back to 2025, but analysts now say the latest issue could push that date back even further. EDF has said repeatedly that final investment decision (FID) approval for the plant in Somerset, in the west of England, is “imminent”. Jean-Bernard Lévy, chief executive, said last week the decision was “very close”.

End of an era where Britain can stand proud

Posted: December 30, 2015 by tchannon in Energy, Nuclear power



(c) Ian Capper under CC

World’s Last Magnox Nuclear Reactor Shuts Down for Final Time

12/30/2015 | Aaron Larson

The Wylfa Nuclear Power Station—the last operating Magnox reactor in the world—came offline permanently on Dec. 30.

Located in Anglesey, an island off the northwest coast of Wales in the UK, the plant entered service in 1971. Originally constructed with two 490-MW units, only Reactor 1 has been operating since 2012.

The UK pioneered the Magnox design back in the 1950s. Its name comes from the magnesium-aluminum alloy used to clad the fuel rods. The reactors were pressurized, CO2-cooled, graphite-moderated units fueled with natural uranium. The design could also be used to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons. The first of 11 eventual plants was the 190-MW Calder Hall facility in Cumbria, which opened in 1956. The Wylfa site was the largest of the Magnox plants.


In limbo - Hinkley C [image credit: EDF]

In limbo – Hinkley C [image credit: EDF]

Something is not quite right with the UK’s nuclear power plans, as this Click Green exclusive shows. Anti-nuclear legal action by Austria and reports of serious technical issues can’t be helping the cause.

The UK’s nuclear watchdog has stopped safety inspections at the planned site of the Hinkley C nuclear power station after EDF Energy ordered a stop to all groundwork, ClickGreen can reveal.

Despite recently publishing a list of preferred suppliers for the £24 billion project, the French firm were in behind-the-scenes talks with the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), during which they informed them of their decision to mothball the site.


A Westinghouse reactor design proposal (Image Credit: Westinghouse)

A Westinghouse reactor design proposal
(Image Credit: Westinghouse)

Back to the drawing board for nuclear power, reports Nuclear Power Daily. Looks like the replacement for US coal power won’t be ready for a while yet.

The US government is offering millions of dollars for innovative ideas to design new nuclear reactors, the Department of Energy announced in a press release.

“We have been encouraged by recent interest in advanced reactor technology,” Acting Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy John Kotek said on Friday. “The funding opportunity allows for multiple-year funding for up to two awards with a total of $40 million in DOE [Department of Energy] cost share per award.”

The Energy Department noted it was issuing the funding opportunity as an early step in increasing investment in nuclear advanced reactor technologies.


Are the Austrians going to press ahead with this as a favour to anti-nuclear Germany, expecting some reward?


By Paul Homewood


PEI report:

The European Commission’s decision on Hinkley Point was published in the Official Journal on Tuesday, and there now commences a two month period whereby potential objections from Austria, Luxembourg and other entities can be recorded. If the decision is contested it may prove a fatal blow to the UK’s nuclear power ambitions due to the lengthy delays that would entail.
Dr Dorte Fouquet, Partner, BBH Brussels who has been advising Vienna on the matter of their objection to Britain’s flagship nuclear power project on the basis of State Aid contravention, told an audience at Platts Power Summit in central
London today that if Vienna presses on with its challenge it could set back construction of the Hinkley Point C project for around eight years based on average case statistics.
She added that were it to go unchallenged “this decision would be practically the end…

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Anyone for dates?



Photo left credit Smudge 9000. Photo right, can’t read it [1].

Ofgem approves power link with Belgium

LONDON Tue Dec 2, 2014 11:14am GMT

(Reuters) – Ofgem has approved plans for a 1 gigawatt electricity interconnector link with Belgium, it said on Tuesday.

The Nemo interconnector would run from Zeebrugge, Belgium, to Kent in southern England, facilitating the flow of enough electricity to power up to 3 million homes, Britain’s Energy Secretary Ed Davey said in the Ofgem statement.

It is due to open in 2019, Ofgem said.

Hmm… Aug. 21, 2014

Nuclear Shutdowns Leave Belgium Looking for Power Closure of Three Nuclear Power Plants Leaves Government Fearing Winter Energy Crunch


I hope this does not come true.

A cliff hanger descended over the Rosetta space mission as fate casts a shadow when an attempt at landing went fatally awry.

It turns out that fragile and complex technology was used instead of robust tried and tested nuclear plant. Fault intolerance.

The solar cells in Rosetta’s solar panels are based on a completely new technology, so-called Low-intensity Low Temperature Cells. Thanks to them, Rosetta is the first space mission to journey beyond the main asteroid belt relying solely on solar cells for power generation. Previous deep-space missions used nuclear RTGs (Radio isotope thermal generators). The new solar cells allow Rosetta to operate over 800 million kilometres from the Sun, where levels of sunlight are only 4% those on Earth.

But they forgot the possibility of or ignored an unknown environment might have cliffhangers waiting. It has landed in shadow.

Philae is receiving about 1.5 hours of illumination during every 12-hour rotation of the comet. [so? not designed for this then?]

This will be insufficient to top up its battery system once the primary charge it had on leaving Rosetta runs out. That was some 60-plus hours.

It means Philae is unlikely to be operating in its present state beyond Saturday. [go into low power mode, what the EU insist the prolls do]



Ex-Environment minister Owen Paterson is tonight delivering the annual GWPF lecture. In it he will say the climate change act should be scrapped. UKIP has been saying this for years and has had a detailed energy policy document out for years detailing better alternatives for a viable mixed energy policy. The full text of his speech has been published at the Spectator. Here’s an except:

The vital importance of affordable energy

owen-patersonBut first, let us consider what is at stake. We now live in an almost totally computer-dependent world. Without secure power the whole of our modern civilisation collapses: banking, air traffic control, smart phones, refrigerated food, life-saving surgery, entertainment, education, industry and transport.

We are lucky to live in a country where energy has been affordable and reliable.

Yet we cannot take this for granted.

While most public discussion is driven by the immediacy of the looming 2020 EU renewables target; policy is actually dominated by the EU’s long-term 2050 target.

The 2050 target is for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent relative to 1990 levels. The target has been outlined by the European Commission. But it is only the UK that has made it legally binding through the Climate Change Act – a piece of legislation that I and virtually every other MP voted for.

The 2050 target of cutting emissions by 80 percent, requires the almost complete decarbonisation of the electricity supply in 36 years.

In the short and medium term, costs to consumers will rise dramatically, and the lights would eventually go out. Not because of a temporary shortfall, but because of structural failures, from which we will find it extremely difficult and expensive to recover.

We must act now.


Cambridge University punting - Mathematicians' bridge  [credit: Wikipedia]

Cambridge University punting – Mathematicians’ bridge
[credit: Wikipedia]

The UK is playing a key role in an international project to develop a radical new type of nuclear power station that is safer, more cost-effective, compact, quicker and less disruptive to build than any previously constructed, reports

Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), as part of the RCUK Energy Programme, a team at the University of Cambridge is exploring whether the element thorium could help to meet the new design’s fuel needs. As well as being three to four times more abundant than uranium, thorium could potentially produce electricity more fuel efficiently and therefore more cheaply.


Oldest UK power reactor life extension to 2015

Posted: August 30, 2014 by tchannon in Nuclear power


Image David Dixon under CC licence

Wylfa nuclear power station, North Wales

UK nuclear regulator to decide on Wylfa 1 life extension next month