Celebration of Nuclear Research and Development

Held last week, the Nuclear Institute Annual Conference was hailed another great success.

The event, organised by the NI and supported by Sellafield Ltd and Innovus, took place at Energus, in West Cumbria.
Over 200 delegates, representing a large proportion of the Cumbrian nuclear industry, had the opportunity to see first hand the variety of innovative techniques and technologies that have been developed to support decommissioning and waste management at Sellafield Ltd.

There was an opportunity to listen to key speakers including Dame Sue Ion, an expert adviser on the nuclear industry. Dame Sue Ion has been a prominent figure in the UK nuclear industry for decades. Other speakers include Sylvain Du-Tremblay, Chief Technical and Engineering Officer at Sellafield Ltd and Melanie Brownridge of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

Sylvain Du Tremblay chief Technical and Engineering Officer at Sellafield Ltd said: “Today provides an excellent networking opportunity with some of the leading champions and key representatives of the industry. It is inspiring to see companies and universities showcasing the work they have carried out and the excellent innovation developed.”

The Land Quality Technical Team from Sellafield Ltd was pleased to present their own progress in the field of research and development, concentrating on a display that captured the spectrum of land quality work. This diversity in work was rewarded with an ‘NI Cumbria Branch Technology Development Award’ for best series of posters.

Julian Cruikshank, Senior Technical Leader, Land Quality, Sellafield Ltd, said: “It was an honour to receive this award on behalf of the whole team. The panel felt that the Land Quality Team had done an admirable job in showing the multi layered approach to their work and range of problems associated with contaminated land and groundwater issues.”

Source: Nuclear Matters

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

Report Predicts Skills Shortage for UK Infrastructure

A new report published by design, engineering and project management consultancy, Atkins, predicts that infrastructure projects in the UK could experience higher costs, delays or poor decision making and project delivery in the coming years due to a lack of scientists, engineers and technicians.

However, it also identified an opportunity to save £6 billion through the better planning and coordination of project delivery which will be needed to overcome the skills shortage.

The study – The Skills Deficit: Consequences and opportunities for UK infrastructure – compiles the views of more than 40 experts from infrastructure owners, engineering consultancies and contractors, academia and industry bodies, with a particular focus on how they believed the UK’s predicted lack of skills could impact on the delivery the government’s National Infrastructure Plan. The main consequences they identified are:

  • Increased cost of delivering infrastructure, primarily due to wage inflation
  • Delays to project delivery on key infrastructure projects across all sectors
  • Poor decision making or project delivery due to not having the right people in the right jobs
  • Loss of intellectual property and skills from the UK due to increased use of overseas engineers
  • Stifling of innovation due to lack of resources
  • UK plc becoming a less attractive place to live, work and invest due to the country’s capability to deliver new or upgraded infrastructure.

The report also estimates that the government and industry will need to invest £2.5 billion in training and development to provide enough skills to meet the country’s infrastructure requirements over the next decade.

(Click below link to read more)

Source: Nuclear Matters

David Cameron snubs Austria over nuclear ‘ambush’

David Cameron has delivered a snub to the Austrian Chancellor over his attempts to derail Britain’s first nuclear power station for 20 years.
Werner Faymann, the Austrian Chancellor, attempted to hand Mr Cameron a letter of protest shortly before a European summit in Brussels this week.
Mr Cameron, however, refused to accept it and told him to instead “respect Britain’s energy choices”.

In October the European Union approved a controversial £17.6 billion subsidy deal for Hinkley Point C, which is expected to provide 7 per cent of the UK’s electricity by 2023.
But Austria, which does not have nuclear power, claims that the plans for the new power station amount to “state aid” and is threatening to mount a legal challenge.

It is understood that the letter from Mr Faymann questioned suggestions that Austria’s challenge would damage its relationship with Britain.
According to a leaked memo, the Austrian deputy ambassador in London reportedly told his Government in Vienna that the UK will take “every opportunity” to damage the country if Vienna does not drop a legal challenge to the construction of the £24.5 billion plant.
A British official said: “The PM’s view is clear – it’s for each country to decide their own energy mix. That’s also the view spelt out in the EU treaties and the PM explained to Chancellor Faymann that he is not going to have other countries seeking to dictate what’s in Britain’s own energy interest.”

The UK is a signatory to a letter to European Commission vice President Maros Sefcovic, who oversees energy, along with other countries including France, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia underlining their view that nuclear power has an important role to play across the continent.
It points out “the EU’s future energy policy must fully reflect the right of member states to determine their own low carbon energy mix, as enshrined in the EU treaties and leave the option of nuclear power open”.

Source: The Telegraph

EDF pushes back Hinkley Point nuclear decision

Artists impression of new Hinkley Point C station

French energy group EDF has delayed an investment decision on a £16bn project to build two nuclear energy reactors in Hinkley Point, Somerset.

Last month, the firm said it expected to sign an agreement in March.

On Thursday, EDF’s chief executive said the company was in “the final phase of negotiations, but that phase can take a considerable amount of time”.

Plans to build two reactors at Hinkley Point are currently facing a potential legal challenge from Austria.

The company’s comments came as it reported net income rose by 5.2% last year to 3.7bn euros (£2.4bn), as output at its nuclear plants beat forecasts.

However, profits in the UK were down 25% due to unplanned closures at two of its stations.

The firm had to shut down its Heysham 1 station in Morecambe and its Hartlepool unit in August for boiler inspections.

EDF logo

Analysis: John Moylan, BBC industry correspondent

When will EDF make the decision to invest in Britain’s first new nuclear power plant in a generation?

A “final investment decision” (FID) had been expected by the end of 2014. That was delayed until the end of the first quarter 2015. Now that deadline seems unlikely.

EDF hopes to conclude talks with its proposed stakeholders – including two state-owned Chinese nuclear firms – by the end of March.

But with an election pending it’s likely a FID will be put off until May/June at the earliest. Some have speculated it could be pushed back until the autumn.

That must all raise serious questions over EDF’s plan to be generating power from Hinkley Point C by the end of 2023.

‘Final phase’

Austria, which opposes nuclear energy, has challenged the subsidy deal between the UK and EDF.

The challenge threatens to stall investment plans and been met with retaliation from UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

Chief executive Jean-Bernard Levy said talks between EDF’s partners, French nuclear group Areva and the UK government were continuing.

He said: “We are in the final phase of negotiations, but that phase can take a considerable amount of time, depending on the number of problems left to resolve.

“There is no other project on the agenda.”

EDF, 84.5%-owned by the French state, is the world’s biggest operator of nuclear plants.

Source; bbc news 

Rolls-Royce Awarded Boron Measurement Technology Contract

Rolls-Royce, in partnership with COMEX NUCLEAIRE, has been awarded a contract to supply boron measurement systems for the entire fleet of 900MW nuclear reactors in France owned and operated by EDF Group.
Rolls-Royce boron meter technology, known as Boronline, complies with the latest French safety regulations. It provides real-time data on boron concentration levels in the reactor coolant through continuous measurement and is essential to control the reactivity of the core and ensure safe operation.
Eric Blanc, President – I&C, Rolls-Royce said: “We are delighted to be awarded this contract. We have extensive experience in nuclear I&C and invest continuously in R&D to ensure that we are able to offer our customers the latest I&C technology that meets the most stringent safety regulations.”
“Our relationship with EDF spans over forty years and we are pleased that they have once again put their trust in our world-class technologies which help to ensure the safety and performance of their reactors.”
The contract, which includes equipment feasibility and supply, on-site activities and long-term support, is scheduled to run until 2022. COMEX NUCLEAIRE will oversee mechanical design, support for licensing with French Safety Authority (ASN) and installation.
Rolls-Royce provides I&C systems and solutions to more than 200 nuclear reactors worldwide including all 58 nuclear reactors in France, through its I&C centre of excellence based in Grenoble, France.

Source: Nuclear Matters

Horizon Nuclear Power clears justification hurdle

The regulatory justification process for Horizon Nuclear Power’s choice of the Hitachi-GE’s ABWR for build at Wylfa Newydd is now complete, after approval by both Houses of Parliament.

ABWR (Hitachi) 460x120
Image: ABWR, Hitachi-GE

The justification process was based on an application made by the UK Nuclear Industry Association which made the case that Wylfa Newydd’s benefits to British society in terms of security of supply and carbon reduction outweigh any potential radiological health detriments. The application is specific to Horizon Nuclear Power’s chosen reactor design, the ABWR as supplied by Hitachi-GE.

Horizon said: “The completion of the justification process comes after two rounds of public consultation, a ruling from the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, and unanimous approval in both Houses of Parliament.” Company COO Alan Raymant said it was a “major milestone” for the project and came alongside the completion of the company’s first public consultation of people near to Wylfa Newydd. The site is on the Welsh island of Angelsey alongside Wylfa, an operational nuclear power plant with two Magnox units since 1971. One of the units is now closed; the other will shut down in December.

Horizon hopes to build two ABWR units at Wylfa Newydd and start them up in around 2025. It is putting the ABWR design through the Generic Design Assessment process operated by the Office for Nuclear Regulation.

Source: World Nuclear News