Engineers Defend Nuclear Fusion Spend

Committee of MPs tells nuclear fusion scientists predicting commercial viability of fusion of being in ‘cloud cuckoo land

Inside the JET fusion reactor at Culham

Scientists and engineers from the nuclear fusion research community have rallied against an attack from a member of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee that accused them of being in “cloud cuckoo land”.

Speaking at a meeting at the House of Lords earlier this week, Lord Peston slammed Professor Steven Cowley, head of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, for asserting that fusion research would produce “a commercially sustainable outcome” within the next 40 to 80 years.

He said: “You’re talking about cloud cuckoo land. I’m talking to all of you. What you’ve done is invent a marvellous system, where all the scientists in this area waste an enormous amount of public money worldwide, on a self-sustaining system with no likely outcome worth anything.”

“It’s not even obvious that fission plants are commercially viable. You are talking about things that are not even a million miles close to being built. “

The Lords Science and Technology Committee has been tasked with investigating the value of public funding for nuclear fusion research, pegged at £174.7 million this year. The UK is also contributing to the development and construction of the next generation of fusion tokomak, Iter, in the south of France. Iter is budgeted to cost a total of at least £13 billion and is planned to be completed by 2021.

Cowley, who is also the chief executive of the UK Atomic Energy Authority and a Professor of Physics at Imperial College London, admitted that if a more sustainable source of electricity were invented by 2040, research for nuclear fusion energy would be redundant.

He said: “If we were not making progress, we should not invest in fusion. At the moment we have transitional decarbonising technologies – nuclear fission and carbon capture and storage. By the end of the century we will need technologies to replace them.”

Nuclear fusion research represents 14% of the Research Council’s total spend on energy related research. Dr Sharon Ellis, deputy director of Research Councils UK, which is responsible for investing public money in research to advance knowledge and generate new ideas, said: “Without particular evidence, there is no reason to stop funding fusion research. As it stands, we are getting advances in material and robotics and backwards investment. The balance sheet is positive.”

Dr David Kingham, chief executive of Tokomak Energy, which is developing smaller, 100MW modular tokomaks that use high-temperature superconducting magnets, said: “Tokomaks are the way forward but there needs to be more diversity in the approach. The European roadmap is too linear – innovation doesn’t work like that. There is a risk that slow progress at Iter will delay progress as a whole.”

Source: Institute of Mechanical Engineers

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

Hinkley Point nuclear plant: ‘very good prospect’ of go-ahead this year, says Amber Rudd

Energy secretary says proposed new nuclear plant is ‘essential’

There is a “very good prospect” of a decision to build Britain’s first new nuclear plant finally being taken later this year, Amber Rudd, the energy secretary has said.
Despite mounting doubts about EDF’s proposed Hinkley Point power station, Ms Rudd told MPs on Tuesday she believed it was “essential” that the project go ahead.

Ms Rudd told MPs on the energy select committee: “We hope the decision will be made later on this year. We are very committed as a government to making sure that we build new nuclear and Hinkley Point will be the first of those.

“Old nuclear is coming off and I think we need as much investment as we can procure in order to support new nuclear.”
Protracted negotiations between EDF and Government over subsidies for Hinkley resulted in a headline deal in October 2013 but details are still being ironed out, while investments from Chinese nuclear partners are yet to be finalised and financial turmoil at reactor-maker Areva has caused further problems.

Ms Rudd said: “I haven’t got the scars of the past three to four years, or two and half years, as my permanent secretary may have in terms of taking forward that negotiation, but I have met the parties involved in the past 10 weeks and it looks to me like there is a very good prospect of it reaching a happy conclusion later this year.”


Image: Illustration of the proposed Hinkley Point C (EDF Energy)

EDF laid off hundreds of construction workers earlier this year as preparatory work at the Somerset site ground to a halt and Jonathan Reynolds, Labour’s shadow energy minister, wrote to Ms Rudd last month urging her to “admit the project will not proceed and inform Parliament what your alternative energy strategy will be”.
But Ms Rudd told MPs: “This is going to be the first new nuclear plant in over 20 years so it is essential to me that we succeed in it.”

A legal challenge from Austria to the EU’s state aid approval for Hinkley subsidies, while “very unwelcome”, was not expected to affect the final investment decision being taken later this year, she said.

Ms Rudd, who said value for money was her top priority in the department, rejected suggestions she was “secretly having regrets” about the subsidy terms agreed by the Coalition, which will see consumers on the hook to pay roughly double the current market price of power for 35 years.

Ms Rudd suggested the price was worth it because nuclear was reliable, unlike renewables. “We have to have secure base-load, so you should not be surprised that we are prepared to pay more for that in order to ensure nuclear is part of the mix. The requirement for nuclear is absolute,” she said.

However, future nuclear plants were expected to come in more cheaply, she said.

New £10bn Sellafield nuclear power plant set to create 21,000 jobs

Power station near Sellafield will have its own railway station, health centres and local amenities, with a transport infrastructure to take pressure off local roads.

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

The site of a new £10billion power plant in Britain has been confirmed, creating up to 21,000 jobs.

A deal to secure the land needed was completed to pave the way for Europe’s biggest new nuclear project.

Venture group Nugen paid an undisclosed sum for the site at Moorside, near Sellafield in Cumbria.

It will see three nuclear reactors constructed on the land which was owned by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).

The sale follows months of tests to ensure the area is suitable.

The three Westinghouse reactors planned will have a combined output of 3.4 gigawatts, almost seven per cent of the UK’s total electricity needs.

Each of the reactors will take about four years to build, and a small town of 4,000 new homes will be needed for the huge workforce.

It will have its own railway station, health centres and local amenities, with a transport infrastructure to take pressure off local roads.

Much of the material required will be carried to the site by sea.

The new workers’ town will feature sustainable homes, remaining in place after the development is completed to provide social housing, a key need in Cumbria.

Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom said: “Backing the next generation of nuclear projects is a key part of our long-term plan to power the economy with clean, secure energy and keep bills as low as possible for hard working families and businesses.”

Copeland MP Jamie Reed also welcomed the move, saying: “We have lobbied long and hard for new nuclear build to complement the array of world-class nuclear skills we already have here.”

The development is expected to generate up to 21,000 jobs during its lifetime.

Early building work will start in 2017 with a target date of 2024 for the first of three reactors starting to produce power. The other two would follow in 2025 and 2026.

Peak employment will be during the key construction phase in 2022-2024, when about 6,000 people will be involved. During operation, Moorside will directly employ more than 1,000 people.

Developers are set to build a new railway station at Mirehouse, running into the construction site.

A marine off-loading dock for materials brought in by sea is also possible.

Sequencing centres for lorries will aim to keep heavy vehicles off the nearby A595 at peak times.

Nugen chief executive Tom Samson said: “This is great news for the North West and particularly for West Cumbria, the UK’s nuclear heartland.

“We are delighted to be taking forward Moorside, a massive development which will supply some seven per cent of the UK’s future electricity.”

John Clarke, CEO of the NDA, said: “The completion of the land sale supports the initiative to have West Cumbria recognised as a centre of nuclear excellence, building on over six decades of nuclear expertise in the area, whilst delivering excellent value for money for the taxpayer and the national economy.”

Some question marks remain about how the project will be funded.

The European Commission is currently investigating whether government support for the planned new £16 billion Hinkley Point nuclear plant in Somerset breaches EU rules.

The government sees a new generation of nuclear plants as key to our future energy needs.

But anti-nuclear campaigners warned the new project would make the area a terrorist target.

Radiation Free Lakeland’s Marianne Birkby said the land next to Sellafield was originally designated as a ‘buffer zone’ to prevent further development.

She said: “The land acquired was bought out of the public purse as a buffer zone around Sellafield to ensure that there would be no new hazardous development or population increase.

“Protections have been ditched to accommodate the nuclear industry and our nuclear-obsessed government who plan to double the terrorist target of with nuclear sprawl on green fields adjacent to a flood plain.

“The only protections now are for the nuclear industry at the expense of Cumbria and the wider environment. What other industry would be allowed to operate with nominal public liability in the event of contamination accident?”

Source: Mirror

Land deal secures Cumbria’s Moorside nuclear plant

Westinghouse nuclear reactor in China
Image: The Westinghouse reactor proposed for Moorside is being built at a number of sites across the world

The site of a £10bn nuclear power plant in Cumbria has been confirmed after a deal to secure land near the existing Sellafield complex was completed.

Joint venture group Nugen said it had paid an undisclosed sum for the vast tract of land at Moorside.
The project will see three nuclear reactors constructed on the site, which was owned by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).

The sale follows months of tests to ensure the area was suitable.
The three Westinghouse reactors planned for Moorside will have a combined output of 3.4 gigawatts. Nugen said they will be able to supply almost 7% of the UK’s electricity requirements.

Each of the reactors will take about four years to build.

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Image: Sellafield Ltd 

Nugen chief executive Tom Samson said: “This is great news for the North West and particularly for West Cumbria, the UK’s nuclear heartland.
“We are delighted to be taking forward Moorside, a massive development which will supply some 7% of the UK’s future electricity.”

John Clarke, CEO of the NDA, said: “The completion of the land sale supports the initiative to have West Cumbria recognised as a centre of nuclear excellence, building on over six decades of nuclear expertise in the area, whilst delivering excellent value for money for the taxpayer and the national economy.”
Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom added: “Backing the next generation of nuclear projects is a key part of our long-term plan to power the economy with clean, secure energy and keep bills as low as possible for hardworking families and businesses.”

Copeland MP Jamie Reed said: “We have lobbied long and hard for new nuclear build to complement the array of world-class nuclear skills we already have here.

“It’s taken 10 years to reach this point. This latest news is warmly welcomed and further proof that West Cumbria’s best days are ahead of us.”

Source: BBC News

EDF’s nuclear reactor closed for £30m refurb

Torness power station. Image: EDF
Torness Power Station. Image: EDF

One of the reactors at EDF Energy’s nuclear power station in East Lothian, east of Edinburgh, is out of service for maintenance works.

The £30 million refurbishment of one of the two reactors at Torness power station started last week.

It is expected to last nine weeks and the works include inspections and the installation of new equipment at the plant.

More than 500 workers will also change two gas circulators which help cool the reactor and replace blades on the turbine which turns steam into low carbon electricity.

The maintenance of each reactor takes place every three years and is planned in advance with National Grid to ensure there is no impact on the country’s electricity supply, stated EDF.

Station Director, Paul Winkle said: “This inspection, maintenance and investment programme has been carefully planned over the last two years and will enable us to continue safely generating low carbon electricity at Torness for many years to come.

Torness power station started operations in 1989 and generates enough electricity to power two million homes.

The company claims it has produced enough low carbon electricity to save the equivalent of 140 million tonnes of emissions during its 27 years of operation.

Source: Energy Live News

Recycling and Reusing Saves £15 Million

Savings of around £15 million have been achieved by teams across the NDA estate using an online database to re-use and recycle redundant equipment.

Among the items transferred from one site to another are pumps, cranes, forklift trucks, tractors, blocks of lead, boilers, radiation detectors, breathing apparatus, office equipment, robotic equipment, a snow plough – and more.

The NDA Asset Transfer Scheme (NATS) was launched 8 years ago by NDA for sites to advertise unwanted items, or seek redundant equipment from other sites. Many items are in good condition but no longer needed at a site as progress is made in decommissioning programmes. Other sites can benefit from the equipment if they are at a different stage in decommissioning or undertaking similar projects. NATS is available to all Site Licence Companies with the main aim of reducing costs and waste.

The principle of recycling assets across the estate has now been enshrined in SLC contract specifications. Before buying new, procurement teams seek to acquire goods from other sites first. On-the-ground teams, meanwhile, advertise redundant equipment for a specified period, before following their usual disposal processes, which prioritise the most cost-effective options.

Martin Grey, the NDA’s Engineering Manager (Assurance), said:
“One site has accumulated £1.9 million of benefits in the first few months of 2015 by avoiding the costs of buying new equipment, and by transferring surplus kit to other sites. Another site acquired 50 tonnes of lead that will be used for shielding. These kinds of transactions are taking place across the estate regularly. They deliver huge all-round benefits not just in cost terms but also in encouraging a more sustainable approach to asset use.”

One of the larger exchanges was Dounreay’s super-compactor, which was acquired brand new from AWE where it was surplus to requirements and is now in use to crush drums of Low Level Waste which will disposed of in the site’s new vaults for LLW. The site’s own machine had suffered a major mechanical failure in 2011 and a backlog of 11,000 drums built up before the replacement was found.

The latest version of the Asset Transfer Scheme is being extended to include transport assets for our subsidiary, INS.

Source: Nuclear Matters