The Alvin Weinberg Foundation is a charity promoting safe, secure and sustainable advanced nuclear energy.

Posted by Suzanna Hinson

The Science and Technology Committee of the House of Lords are undertaking an inquiry on the priorities for nuclear research and technologies.

Our response has now been published online here: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/lords-select/science-and-technology-committee/inquiries/parliament-2015/nuclear-research-and-technologies/nuclear-research-and-technologies-publications/ or can be read below.

 

Weinberg Next Nuclear – Written evidence (PNT0045)

 

Weinberg Next Nuclear[1] is a charity promoting advanced nuclear technologies: fast reactors, molten salt reactors, small modular reactors. We therefore very much welcome this Committee enquiry.

Since the Committee’s 2011 report on the UK’s nuclear R&D capacity, Weinberg Next Nuclear has published two short reports on the need for the UK government to support nuclear innovation – financially and through public policy.

Our 2015 report Why Nuclear Innovation is Needed  (http://www.the-weinberg-foundation.org/2015/11/23/why-nuclear-innovation-is-needed/) outlined the advantages of next-generation nuclear technology:

– They can use liquid fuel, so the core cannot melt down;

– They can re-use the spent fuel – which still contains over 90% of the energy that was in the original uranium;

– Advanced reactors could reduce the amount of nuclear waste which has to be managed by future generations (and which already exists so cannot be wished away) by around 95%;

– They can use plutonium as fuel. The UK has the largest stockpile of plutonium in the world;

– They can be built as small modules and then assembled on site to reach the scale desired. This could reduce construction costs. They could be installed where the heat could be used as well as the power.

We called on the then-Chancellor George Osborne to fund prototype demonstrations of advanced nuclear reactors. He did allocate £250 million to nuclear R&D in the 2015 Autumn Statement, and the Government launched the SMR competition.

In April 2016 we published a follow-up report Next Steps for Nuclear Innovation in the UK (http://www.the-weinberg-foundation.org/2016/04/27/report-launch-next-steps-for-nuclear-in-the-uk/) This report:

– outlines criteria which government should use in selecting reactor designs to support (but does not say which designs should be chosen);

– recommends that at least one of the reactors supported should be a Generation IV design, because this could re-use spent nuclear fuel, and also use plutonium as fuel. The UK has the largest plutonium stockpile in the world;

– suggests that SMRs and micro-reactors (less than 20 megawatts) will be cheaper to construct than large reactors because they can be made on production lines then transported to site. Generation IV reactors may also be considerably cheaper than existing nuclear designs due to less complex designs – though this will not be known until one has been constructed;

– supports the Office for Nuclear Regulation’s proposal to increase its capacity by expanding staff numbers. Lack of regulatory capacity is currently the major barrier to nuclear innovation in the UK;

– proposes that UK nuclear regulators should work closely with their Canadian and US counterparts, with the aim of developing a regulatory approval mechanism that would cover all three countries.

Weinberg Next Nuclear believes that responsibility for ensuring that the UK has a coherent and consistent long term policy for civil nuclear activities lies firmly with the Government. The Government is not doing enough to fund research and development on SMRs, or on motivating others to do so. The results of the SMR competition need to be announced as soon as possible. The Government then needs to do more to fund research, development and demonstration of fast reactors and molten salt reactors.

 

Author: Stephen Tindale, Director

24 February 2017

 

 


[1] This is the operating name of the Alvin Weinberg Foundation.

Posted by Suzanna Hinson

New nuclear power capacity in the UK is a challenge to construct. Hinkley Point C had been in the pipeline since 2008. It now has final approval, but will take many more years to build. The length and expense of getting new capacity from initial proposal, through the expensive regulatory assessment to construction is a daunting prospect for companies with new reactor designs and plans. 

The UK’s licencing and regulatory system needs to be better resourced and better connected. The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) undertakes a Generic Design Assessment, recognised globally as a leader in nuclear regulation. But ONR is limited in its capacity, able to do only two assessments at a time at present. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) manages the UK’s legacy of old reactors, spent fuel and – importantly – licensed nuclear sites.

The fact that regulation and siting are dealt with by different organisations lengthens delays, slows progress and increases costs, often with nuclear developers bounced between the two organisations. The disconnect between these two organisations and their separate priorities is also outdated. Increasingly, nuclear designs show potential to not only produce electricity and heat but also to recycle spend fuel as a resource rather than waste. To make progress on advanced reactors the two organisations need to work more closely together.

Both the ONR and NDA take their direction from the Government. With the Industrial Strategy highlighting that nuclear is a priority, the Government need to act. It should:

·      tell the NDA to release sites for demonstration of reactors;

·      tell ONR to begin Generic Design Assessment on two Generation IV designs.

The NDA has sufficient capacity to assess then release necessary sites. ONR’s lack of capacity has in the past been a block to nuclear innovation. Other countries’ nuclear regulators, notably the Canadian ones, have many more staff than ONR does (and are also more willing to begin dialogue with potential developers before the formal regulatory process begins). ONR now aims to increase its capacity, a welcome objective, that must now be delivered. Ministers must tell ONR to begin assessing advanced reactor designs to prevent them becoming a bottleneck for expansion. The increased capacity should also be used to allow greater cooperation between the two organisations.

With the exit from Euratom and competition from other countries, it is essential that the UK turns its policy support for nuclear into actual progress, or risk getting left behind in this key sector. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy must not use lack of ONR capacity as an excuse for inaction.

Posted by Stephen Tindale

Last week I went to Amsterdam to speak at a seminar on ‘nuclear: the elephant in the room’. The Netherlands has only one operating nuclear power station, Borssele, providing about 4% of the power generated in the country. The Netherlands is very flat (and much of it below sea level) so hydro is not an option. This explains why the Netherlands currently gets only around 6.5% of its energy from renewables. The Dutch target under the EU Renewable Energy Directive is to get 14% of total energy from renewables by 2020. Major expansions of on- and offshore wind are underway. But where should the other 86% come from?

The Netherlands has substantial gas resources, so a lot of gas power stations. Gas is less bad for the climate than coal is, and an effective way to back up intermittent renewables such as wind. But gas without carbon capture and storage is not low carbon enough to be regarded as clean (as we argued in http://www.the-weinberg-foundation.org/2017/01/23/new-report-the-case-for-a-clean-energy-alliance/).

The Dutch go to the polls on 15 March. None of the 28 parties standing in the general election is proposing a new nuclear power station. So the reference to the elephant in the room was appropriate.

The role that nuclear could play was well set out by Pier Stapersma of Clingendael, the Netherlands Institute for International Relations (https://www.clingendael.nl/). Pier pointed out that it is possible for nuclear reactors to ‘load follow’ – operate as back up to intermittent wind – and that smaller reactors can do this more efficiently than large reactors can.

Despite the lack of political engagement with nuclear issues, there is some important nuclear research underway in the Netherlands, notably into thorium molten salt reactors at the Delft University of Technology. The website states that “Sun and wind are intermittent energy sources, that require backup. Thorium MSR’s are excellent for providing this. MSR’s can ‘load follow’ automatically, by laws of nature. This means that if demand goes up, they produce more, if it goes down, they produce less.” (http://thmsr.nl/#/)

There is also research into thorium MSRs being done in Denmark, by Copenhagen Atomics (http://www.copenhagenatomics.com/). I met staff from Copenhagen Atomics at the seminar. Denmark has traditionally been anti-nuclear: the smiling sun Nuclear Power: no thanks logo was created in Denmark in 1975 (http://www.smilingsun.org/), and the country has no nuclear power stations.

Copenhagen Atomics aim to build a “waste burner”, using the legacy of past nuclear activities. Weinberg Next Nuclear’s next report will be on this subject. Advanced nuclear technology, including Molten Salt Reactors, have potential to engage previously anti-nuclear audiences. Alongside their energy security and cost reduction potential, this makes them worth investing in.

Posted by Suzanna Hinson

On Monday, the Nuclear Industry Association held its Small Modular Reactor conference. Weinberg Next Nuclear were delighted to attend and our director Stephen Tindale was one of the many speakers.

The conference was opened by Tom Wintle, deputy director of SMRs, decommissioning and waste at the department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Though he spoke very eloquently about the importance of nuclear, and SMRs to the government, particularly in regards to the Industrial Strategy’s aims of home grown industries, developing skills, regional rejuvenation and a stronger economy for the growth areas of tomorrow, he would not be drawn on the real issues the audience clearly wanted to hear about: the much delayed SMR competition and the question of public funding at Moorside. Instead, he highlighted changing priorities of the government, with a renewed focus on energy security, consumer bills and the potential for driving exports and capturing a global SMR market in a post Brexit UK. He would also not be drawn on the future relationship with Euratom, saying it was too early to speculate but repeating it was a non-negotiable aspect of exiting the EU, a decision many we spoke to think is premature and will lead to huge hurdles for British nuclear in the future.

Clearly, despite the challenges ahead, the potential and appetite for new nuclear displayed at the conference was immense. Talks followed by Charles Potter of the national Nuclear laboratory who said there were 250 potential sites for SMRs in the UK with an estimate of 70GWe that could be developed. Then Dr John Iris Jones spoke about the nuclear site at Trawsfynydd and how the community, who largely rely on the current nuclear reactor for jobs, were strongly in support of a new SMR and were keen to see progress on the technology.

Our Director Stephen Tindale was on a panel with Mike Middleton of the Energy Technology InstituteLiz Saville-Roberts MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd and Tom Greatrex of the Nuclear Industry Association discussing SMRs and Industrial Strategy. He argued the government needed a portfolio of clean energy technologies, and within the nuclear portfolio itself, there are lots of opportunities including load following for intermittent technologies and using up the spent fuel stockpile for energy instead of treating it as waste. When asked about government plans he said the Government have spent enough time building a vision; now, we need action. The action we need to see, Stephen recommended, was the Government telling the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to release sites for advanced nuclear and instructing the Office for Nuclear Regulation to undertake Generic Design Assessments for advanced reactors, expanding their capacity to do so if necessary. 

Later panels discussed achieving and financing SMRs. The former by Chris Lewis from EY and Richard Beake from Atkins discussed the 60x30x2 challenge. This incorporates electricity at less that $60 per mwh, available by 2030 at a cost of $2billion per plant. Nuclear power stations have thus far been failing at this challenge because they are too large and complex, generating much hope that SMRs could be the smaller, simpler solution that will deliver. Counteracting this point was a later finance panel who said getting cost down is over-emphasised as to an investor it sounds like risks. This panel, comprising Fiona Reilly from Atlantic Superconnection LLPAnurag Gupta from KPMG LLP and Gareth Price from Allan & Overy LLP, also argued that BEIS were putting too much hope into an export market as with bigger contributors emerging like China and the US, it is unlikely that the UK will be able to compete. Instead, they argued other costs should be taken into account such as the avoided cost of managing the plutonium stockpile if re-cycled as fuel, and the value of jobs to communities which are worth more than the wages alone. Overall they made a strong statement for state-led nuclear power incorporating the private sector at a later stage of development if possible.

The other sessions of the day and networking were all equally interesting at what was overall an excellent event. However the clear mood is that talking and discussion are not being paralleled with policy progress. The sector desperately needs to see some action from government, to progress with the SMR review, provide certainty for Moorisde and clarify the terms of Euratom membership. Without certainty that the UK is still a nuclear player the sector will easily be lost overseas, to Canada, the USA or Asia, where the necessary action and support is more readily available.

Posted by Suzanna Hinson

Dear Greg,

I wrote an open letter to you last July regarding the Hinkley decision, published on Weinberg Next Nuclear’s website http://www.the-weinberg-foundation.org/2016/07/29/open-letter-to-greg-clark-on-hinkley/. As I said in that letter, the government should “highlight and welcome the Office for Nuclear Regulation’s plan to deliver decisions on the Generic Design Assessments for Wylfa and Moorside in 2017”. Now, with Toshiba’s withdrawal making Moorside’s future insecure, the government should step in to ensure that the project continues.

Priority 7 in your Industrial Strategy Green Paper correctly identifies the advantages of nuclear, with  “a commitment to develop a strong UK supply chain to support the sector”. This ambition to make the UK a leader in the nuclear sector will be significantly compromised if the pipeline of projects loses Moorside.

UK energy security will also be compromised.  With Brexit putting the costs of imports into question, and the decline of North Sea production meaning that the UK will rely increasingly on these imports, becoming more self-sufficient in energy must be a priority. The ageing nuclear power plants will soon be decommissioned, and with the coal phase out by 2025, a gap is imminent. Nuclear power is an essential technology to contributing to filling this gap, providing the UK with secure power that is also low carbon.

Finding other companies to step in and replace Toshiba will be challenging. The UK government should therefore fund the construction of the plant itself. The Institute for Public Policy Research think tank calculates that, for a nuclear construction program of 14.2GW (as recommended by National Grid in 2014 as part of scenarios for meeting UK and European legal targets on low-carbon energy), public provision of capital during the construction phase could save consumers £1.2–1.8 billion between 2015 and 2035, by socialising policy risks and therefore reducing financing costs. If public ownership continued during the operational phase, but private companies ran each nuclear plant, this could produce additional savings for the consumer of £2.5–3.7 billion over the period. (http://www.ippr.org/publications/when-the-levy-breaks-energy-bills-green-levies-and-a-fairer-low-carbon-transition)

Nuclear provides high-skilled jobs across the supply chain, from research to operation, often in old industrial areas. It also supplies low carbon, secure power. Government support for Moorside would help put an industrial strategy into action. Hinkley was an inherited project for the current government: Moorside is an opportunity to finance new nuclear in a more efficient way.

Best wishes

Stephen

Posted by Suzanna Hinson

The Scottish Government released in January a Draft Climate Change Plan along with a consultation on their suggested policies. Weinberg Next Nuclear has responded and our submission is available below. Scotland is leading the UK in decarbonisation and we believe their targets for negative power emissions and overall decarbonisation timescales should be celebrated for their ambition. Continued support for renewables, and significant hope in the potential for Carbon Capture and Storage form the basis of their policy. However nuclear power, which currently supplies a third of Scotland’s electricity, is neglected. Weinberg Next Nuclear believes that nuclear power is an essential element of a a diverse decarbonisation energy mix. Scotland’s nuclear power plants are ageing and even with life extensions, will be unlikely to operate past 2030. Thus without plans for new nuclear power, Scotland risks missing its decarbonisation targets. Instead, Scotland should look at the potential for advanced nuclear power, which can offer low-carbon, reliable electricity, whilst also securing other benefits for Scotland.

 

Written evidence to the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee submitted by Weinberg Next Nuclear

  1. Summary
  • Progress, targets and timescales are all good. A net zero target is recommended.
  • Power sector is already driving decarbonisation; however policy to decarbonize power relies too heavily on CCS and neglects nuclear, undermining the Scottish Government’s commitment to decarbonisation.
  • Without a significant policy shift in the power sector Scotland risks no longer meeting its targets.
  • Considerable benefits for Scotland, within e.g. air quality and landscape, can be derived from a new nuclear build programme and should therefore be pursued.
  1. Introduction

Weinberg Next Nuclear is a UK charity promoting safe, secure and sustainable nuclear power as a solution to the energy challenges of today. Weinberg focuses on all aspects of the nuclear power industry as well as the wider energy sector and decarbonisation.

Weinberg Next Nuclear welcomes the opportunity to respond to the Scottish Governments call for Evidence on the Draft Climate Plan. As a charity that works across the energy space, we will be directing our response to the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee as the energy sector falls within their remit.

  1. Progress, targets and timescales good

As the Committee on Climate Change reported, Scotland is leading the UK in greenhouse gas emissions reductions. Previous targets have been successfully met with a cut of adjusted emissions by 45.8% between 1990 and 2014, exceeding the 2020 target of a 42% cut six years early. These impressive emissions reductions were achieved whilst the Scottish economy grew. This success has made Scotland a leader in the decarbonisation space, second only to Sweden among Western European countries in cutting emissions over this period.

Future targets as set by The Climate Change Act 2009 show good ambition, with an 80% cut by 2050, though a net zero target should soon be discussed. The power sector has previously been the most successful at decarbonising, and future emissions savings may rely on progress in power whilst other sectors are more challenging. The policy for zero, or even negative emissions from power by 2030 is an ambitious target on an ambitious timeline. This level of ambition is needed but it needs policies to match that are currently lacking. Without more comprehensive, diverse power policy, this target is at risk of being missed.

  1. Meeting the Targets: a role for nuclear

The Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee focuses on the following areas, Electricity generation, Reducing energy demand, Renewable energy (renewable electricity and renewable heat), Interconnection, Grid issues and Fuel poverty. These are all key areas of the power sector, and focusing on demand side issues such as interconnection and efficiency as well as the underemphasised renewable heat are vital to overall decarbonisation. But focusing on renewable energy, rather than low carbon energy, is limited. To give the best chance of decarbonisation, Scotland should encourage an all of the above approach including CCS and nuclear.

There is no current CCS in Scotland or anywhere else in the UK. With the cancellation of the CCS competition by Former Chancellor George Osborne the likelihood of imminent CCS commercialisation in the UK is low. Nuclear power on the other hand as point 7.1.5 states supplied,

“just over a third of Scotland’s electricity in 2015. This represents an increase from 2007, when nuclear energy represented 25.7% of Scotland’s electricity supply.”

Additionally 2.2.4 states:

Electricity will be increasingly important as a power source for heat and transport. As a result, the total volume of electricity supplied within Scotland will increase to 2032. System security will be ensured through diverse generation technologies, increased storage, smart grid technologies and improved interconnection.”

Nuclear power is already making up a significant proportion of the low carbon power required to meet the negative emissions electricity generation target by 2030. If unabated fossil fuels are to continue to be replaced whilst electricity demand grows, Scotland will need a reliable form of power.

Pursuing CCS is wise, especially with the potential to combine with bioenergy for negative emissions; on which we welcome the proposal of a whole system bioenergy action plan and suggest it has a large emphasis on sustainability criteria. However with CCS still a significant way from commercialisation, Scotland should not rule out options that are already delivering carbon savings, such as nuclear power.

We recommend Scotland replaces Hunterston nuclear power station with a new nuclear station. Hunterston is due to close in 2023 and though the owner EDF may extend its life, it has been generating since 1976 so will not be able to continue for much of the foreseeable future. When it does close the gap will need to be filled and if renewables are not expanding quickly enough there is a risk of a relapse on emission savings. Torness nuclear power stations’ life has already been extended, but only until 2030. Thus even if the Scottish government met it’s 2030 target, emissions would likely rise again when Torness closes.

With a third of Scotland’s low carbon power due to close down, there is a need for replacement to compliment the expansion of renewables. This will be necessary whether CCS is delivered or not. Advanced nuclear power, with simpler, more secure and more sustainable reactors, can fill this gap, contribute to emissions savings and also generate new opportunities for Scotland (see below section 5).

Though Weinberg Next Nuclear accept the limits to Scotland’s options due to the policy demands of Westminster, the Scottish government now has an opportunity to channel the pro-nuclear sentiment set out by Westminster in the Industrial Strategy into a decarbonisation narrative.

Though Weinberg Next Nuclear recommends a diverse energy supply based on an “all of the above” strategy, there are obvious environmental concerns to take into account. All technologies have their limitations, including nuclear, but these are often overstated. One technology that can cause more damage than others is pumped storage hydropower, which is supported in the draft climate plan. Though hydro provides reliable power, the construction of dams is often fraught with environmental compromises, and the location should be considered, especially in areas of natural beauty such as the Scottish highlands. Nuclear could provide the same power, with additional skills benefits, without the environmental compromises.

  1. Opportunities to secure wider benefits

In line with the UK’s industrial strategy, a renewed nuclear focus could give the opportunity for building a strong nuclear skills and innovation base in Scotland, drawing upon the wealth of experience and expertise that exists. Continuous failure to preserve this expertise is regrettable and could lead to a further ‘brain drain’. Similarly, focusing on building a skills and innovation based economy in Scotland, led by a dual commitment to nuclear and renewables, could see Scotland becoming a leading nation in the world on successful and sustainable decarbonisation.

There are social opportunities to consider to expanding nuclear power. Nuclear power stations are expensive to build but, given their very long lifespans, most of the power produced will be cheap. Fuel prices will not play any significant role as the price of uranium remains low, as well as the fact that uranium is almost 71 000 times more energy dense than natural gas. This has a dual benefit. Firstly, modern nuclear power stations can play a significant role in addressing fuel poverty by reducing the costs of electricity. Secondly, by opting for nuclear power, issues around landscape (e.g. windfarms, commercial solar farms) are less of an issue. This is highlighted in table 1, showing the vast amounts of space required to replace merely one nuclear reactor.

Table 1: Landscape impact

Technology Capacity factor (%) Sq. miles needed to produce 1000 MW
Nuclear 90 1
Wind 32-47 260-360
Solar 17-28 45-75

 

Further social opportunities stemming from a nuclear-led decarbonisation are found within air quality. By opting for a rapid decarbonisation by using long-proved technologies, nuclear power can replace fossil fuel-based electricity generation within timescales that renewables cannot match. If this is coupled with a serious commitment to decarbonise the transport (non-aviation) fleet, the air quality in Scotland could derive considerable benefits. This, in turn, would allow many serious health issues connected with poor air quality in many of Scotland’s cities to be addressed in an adequate manner.

  1. Recommendations
  • Set a net zero decarbonisation target.
  • Acknowledge the urgency of decarbonisation of the energy sector, by changing focus to low carbon energy focus to encompass nuclear and CCS
  • Establishing a nuclear skills and innovation programme in Scotland.
  • Remove the Memorandum on New Nuclear in Scotland, thus allowing for modern nuclear power stations to be built in Scotland.
  • Establish a programme of nuclear new build in Scotland, coupled with a commitment to decarbonise the non-aviation transport sector.

February, 2017

Posted by Suzanna Hinson

It has been confirmed that the UK intends to leave the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) as part of the Brexit process. Following their loss in the Supreme Court last week, the government has produced a bill on triggering Article 50 to put to a commons vote. As part of the explanatory notes of this very short bill, was the revelation that Britian will be leaving both the EU and Euratom. Euratom, a separate legal entity to the EU but governed by EU institutions, has controlled nuclear power in Europe since 1957.

The move has been met with shock by the industry, with Dr Paul Dorfman, honorary senior researcher at the Energy Institute at University College London, calling it a “lose-lose situation” due to the potential for reduced competitiveness and reduced safety. There will be increased pressure on the already under-resourced Office for Nuclear Regulation to cover all of Euratom’s responsibilities including non-proliferation inspections, authorizing the sale of nuclear material and safeguarding power, fuel fabrication and waste sites. Alternatively the UK would need to negotiate with the International Atomic Energy Agency for help with this new burden. The decision will likely impact the UK’s plans for new power stations, research, skills development and dealing with the waste legacy.

The decision will also likely mean the eventual loss of the world leading Fusion experiment based in Culham, Oxfordshire, involving 350 scientists and funding from 40 countries, to another country such as Germany or France. This loss could risk perpetrating across the nuclear research space, with the isolation from Euratom making the UK far less attractive for research and innovation leading to a funding and brain drain at the very time the UK is trying to reinvigorate its nuclear leadership through it’s Industrial Strategy.

A complex set of negotiations will now have to take place as most nuclear co-operation with the UK relies on safeguards provided through Euratom. It may not be possible to agree and ratify new agreements before Britain leaves the EU in 2019. According to Vince Zabielski, a senior lawyer at law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, “current new build projects will be placed on hold while those standalone treaties are negotiated” meaning possible delays at Hinkley as well as Bradwell, Moorside and Wylfa.

The decision however is not just bad for the UK, but for nuclear as a whole. With the UK one of the last big supporters of the technology, weakening its strength in the field will give power to anti-nuclear camps across the continent.

Weinberg Next Nuclear is very concerned that the departure from Euratom could severely damage the UK’s nuclear industry, with impacts on energy security, industrial competitiveness and decarbonisation objectives. We find no reason why such drastic action needs to be taken. Article 50 deals with the two Treaties of Lisbon: the Treaty on the European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. However the Euratom treaty is separate, not mentioned in either of the above treaties thus there is no reason for including Euratom in any part of Article 50 debate. As Jonathan Leech, a senior lawyer and nuclear expert at Prospect Law said, “there doesn’t seem to have been any real explanation as to why, because we are going towards the unknown at great speed. Legally we don’t have to [leave Euratom because the UK is leaving the EU],”.

Weinberg Next Nuclear thus urges the government to reconsider and avoid the highly damaging consequences this unnecessary withdrawal could have on the UK’s nuclear future.

Posted by Suzanna Hinson

Weinberg Next Nuclear, the charity promoting the next generation of nuclear energy, is delighted to announce its newest Patron – Professor Wade Allison, Emeritus Professor of Physics and Emeritus Fellow of Keble College. Professor Allison is a leading authority on medical physics, especially the effects of radiation on life. His work has attracted considerable attention around the world, especially following the accident at Fukushima Daiichi in 2011. Since then he has been to Japan several times to lecture and to visit teachers, community leaders, doctors and evacuees in the region affected by the accident.

wade

He studied Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, before completing his DPhil in Particle Physics at the University of Oxford. After his doctorate, Professor Allison spent two years at the Argonne National Laboratory in the US, before returning to teach and research at Oxford. He was subsequently appointed Professor and Fellow of Keble College.

Professor Allison has published two books on the topic of radiation fear.

In Radiation and Reason (2009) he brought the scientific evidence of the effect of radiation to a wider audience. After the Fukushima accident this was translated into Japanese and Chinese. Nuclear is for Life (2015) is a broad study that contrasts the cultural rejection of nuclear energy with the evidence, at all but the highest levels, for the harmless, and even beneficial, interaction of radiation with life.

Upon his appointment, Professor Allison said:

‘’Fukushima showed that radiation is no threat to life – the need for a carbon-free economy should be satisfied by nuclear power. We need a radical change in the way we approach nuclear power, not only in regards to technology, but to the broader cultural aspects. Nothing short of a paradigm shift will be needed. Weinberg Next Nuclear can play a key role as catalyst for change’’

Stephen Tindale, Director of Weinberg Next Nuclear, said:

“Public opposition to nuclear energy on the basis of exaggerated and unscientific fear of radioactivity is a significant barrier to nuclear progress. The world needs more nuclear energy, and addressing the fear factor is a major part of nuclear advocacy. So I am delighted to welcome Wade as a Patron. Wade has immense scientific knowledge and is also extremely well versed in the need for new public communication on nuclear.”

Posted by Suzanna Hinson

23 January 2017: Clean energy sectors should set up an alliance to shape a supportive industrial strategy.

The British government is today publishing a consultative green paper on a new industrial strategy. It proposes to offer ‘Sector Deals’ to address sector-specific challenges and opportunities. These would “offer a range of support”, including supporting innovation.

The Government highlights that Britain has strengths in research and development of smart energy technologies. And one of the ten” strategic pillars” will be:

“Delivering affordable energy and clean growth. We need to keep costs down for businesses, and secure the economic benefits of the transition to a low-carbon economy.”

In response to the green paper, the Alvin Weinberg Foundation think tank has published a report on The Case for a Clean Energy Alliance. The report argues that:

 

“An Alliance would bring together like-minded organisations – those concerned with energy security, fuel poverty, economic competitiveness, environment, air quality and climate change – to work towards a common goal of decarbonisation. The renewables, CCS and nuclear sectors do already work together on specific issues, through their trade associations. An Alliance would add value by taking a strategic approach, to complement, not duplicate, the tactical co-operation that takes place between sectors already. The Alliance should not be an alternative public voice for clean energy, but rather unite existing voices.”

“The energy industry needs to offer strategic advice to governments on how best to facilitate clean energy. Some competition between sectors is inevitable: public money is limited. Nevertheless, there are significant questions on which competition is neither necessary nor helpful.”[i]

The criteria for judging what is low-carbon should include the full life-cycle of the technology, including land use change. Full members should be trade associations: companies and civil society organisations could become associate members.

Stephen Tindale, Weinberg director, said:

“An active industrial strategy offers a great opportunity for clean energy. To take advantage, different clean energy sectors should work together more strategically. With all the energy challenges of today, now is not the time for sectoral technology tribalism: it is the time for a Clean Energy Alliance.”

Contact: Stephen Tindale

stephen.tindale@the-weinberg-foundation.org

07941 433780

[i] Strategic questions that an Alliance could address include:

  • Should low-carbon energy technologies continue to receive public financial support into the 2020s?
  • If so, how should such support be delivered – through guaranteed tariffs or through grants?
  • Should public money to support clean energy be raised through taxation or through energy bills?
  • How can the operation of the Levy Control Framework be improved in order to increase investor confidence?
  • Is the Contract-for-Difference approach efficient and fair: should it be reformed or would the resulting regulatory instability undermine any potential benefits?”

Posted by Suzanna Hinson

Whilst many European reactors are hampered with delays, construction of four new units in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is on or even ahead of schedule. The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) announced that the Barakah Nuclear Energy plant is now 75% complete and still scheduled to finish in 2020.

The first of four APR – 1400 PWR units is expected to start operation this year, with the others coming online each consecutive year afterwards until the entire plant is generating in 2020. Unit 3 recently passed the milestone of having its reactor containment linear dome installed and Unit 4 is ahead of schedule with the concrete for the containment building now being poured. The plant is being built by a South Korean-led consortium with close consultation from the International Atomic Energy Agency and huge public support.

Surveys conducted by ENEC show that public support has increased with the construction of the plant. In December 2012, 82% of people surveyed were in favour of nuclear energy compared to 66% in 2011. An even greater figure of 89% of those surveyed supported a plant being built in the UAE, up from 67% in 2011, before construction started. The 2012 survey also found that awareness of nuclear energy had increased with a total of 89% believing that peaceful nuclear energy is “extremely important,” “very important,” or “important” for the UAE.

The power plant, which began construction in 2012, will provide when completed up to a quarter of the UAE’s electricity demand (5600MWe) and in doing so, save up to 12 million tonnes of carbon emissions per year. 


Endorsements:

I warmly welcome the Alvin Weinberg Foundation’s evidence-based approach to the energy debate, and enthusiastically support its mission to raise awareness of next-generation nuclear energy amongst NGOs and the general public.

— Mark Lynas

@aw_nextnuclear

NIA's SMR conference on Monday was an excellent discussion - but it is clear we now need action on new nuclear.... https://t.co/9xeTX3SzRN
- Friday Mar 3 - 2:21pm

Our Director @STindale making the case for #nuclear as part of a diverse, clean energy mix. https://t.co/5HmYpqUIaB
- Friday Mar 3 - 1:39pm


Sign up for our Weinberg Next Nuclear Newsletter
* = required field

© The Alvin Weinberg Foundation 2014
The Alvin Weinberg Foundation is a registered UK charity. Charity number: 1155255
The Alvin Weinberg Foundation web site uses cookies to record visitor patterns.
Read our data protection policy

Design by Tauri-tec Ltd and the Alvin Weinberg Foundation