Half of Belgian nuclear capacity offlineGDF Suez is experiencing difficulties in Belgium. Two of its nuclear reactors, Tihange 2 and Doel 3, may remain offline until spring and may need to be halted permanently. Both reactors were first stopped in 2012 after finding indications of cracks in their core tanks. After reopening in 2013, the reactors were closed again in March of this year for further tests after inspections uncovered irregularities in the strength of the tanks. The interim results of the tests would show the tanks are weakened by the cracks and may need to remain closed until the spring of 2015 or may even remain shut permanently. Concerns are growing over a possible shortage of electricity in the country during the winter. Indeed, with another reactor, Doel 4, also closed because of damage to its turbine, more than half of Belgium’s nuclear capacity is offline.
Le Monde | 2014, August 22nd
Russia leads the way in European nuclear projectsA report published by the World Nuclear Association (WNA) portrays a two-tier Europe. For the member states, it predicts in 2030 an installed nuclear capacity of between 62 GW and the current 122 GW. France’s energy transition will play a key role, as it alone accounts for a half of installed capacity within the EU. But countries outside of the EU are driving the sector. While the nine non-EU countries surveyed by the WNA (including Russia, Turkey and Ukraine) total an installed capacity of 41 GW, the reference scenario anticipates strong growth to 71 GW by 2030. Russia, with its domestic nuclear programme and Rosatom’s strong exports, mainly accounts for the progress. Rosatom is building two reactors in Belarus and has inked a contract to build two more in Turkey. Russia is also among candidates to build a reactor in Slovakia, the report notes. In the coming years, the finalisation of the two EPRs under construction by Areva and EDF in Finland and France, as well as “new reactors planned in Finland, Hungary, Lithuania and the UK will determine if the short-term decline expected in the European nuclear industry will be reversible”, analyses the industry association.
Les Echos | 2014, August 13th
Assessing the cost of wasteFrance’s National Agency for Radioactive Waste Management (Andra) is currently undertaking one challenging task: estimating the cost of nuclear waste for the 100 years to come. The Andra is expected to submit its assessment of the costs attached to the Cigeo project of deep geological repository. The assessment is highly anticipated as it will determine the amount of subsequent provisions EDF and Areva will have to set aside, and thus impact the cost of nuclear power as a whole. For now, estimates range from €15 to €35 billion. The Andra is currently talking about those estimates with EDF, Areva and the CEA, before it submits them to the Energy ministry.
La Croix | 2014, August 05th
Citizens in favour of a state-controlled foundationWhile opposition and government lambasted the idea of a state-controlled foundation to take responsibility of the decommissioning of ageing reactors, a large majority of the German population has voiced its support to the idea, as shown by a recent survey. The clear majority was driven by the fear that some ailing energy companies might not be able to guarantee the dismantling of nuclear plants in the long-term. The four nuclear operators, E.On, RWE, EnBW and Vattenfall, already offered to put their €36 billion provisions in a state-supervised foundation.
Handelsblatt | 2014, August 05th
Poma to build a funicular for France’s Cigeo projectFrench company Poma was awarded a 15-year €68-million contract by France’s National Agency for Radioactive Waste Management (Andra) to build a funicular that will carry nuclear waste into the deep geological repository facility planned in Bure (Lorraine). Should the project (Cigeo) be finally approved by the French government, it will enter into service in 2025. The cable car will carry heavy nuclear waste packages 500 metres underground.
Les Echos | 2014, July 29th
Consider taking nuclear waste and get paidBritain’s Department of Energy and Climate Change has unveiled plans to pay communities for considering whether to host nuclear waste in their areas. They would receive up to £1 million a year for five years if local people “engaged constructively” with officials. The payments would rise to £2.5 million a year for up to 15 years if boreholes were drilled to assess suitability. The overall payments by the DECC to communities could total £40 million. Final approval of sites would be subject to a “test of public support”, yet to be decided.
The Times 2d Ed. | 2014, July 25th
European Commission unveils ambitious plansThe European Commission on July 23 unveiled ambitious proposals for energy savings. Under the current proposal, EU governments should improve energy efficiency by 30% compared with 2007 levels. Member states’ leaders will say in October if they agree with this ambitious programme. On the whole, meeting the 30% target could cost €89 billion annually in upfront investments, the Commission said.
The Wall Street Journal Europe | 2014, July 24th
Concerns mount at Sellafield after take-over announcementUnions at Sellafield in the UK have expressed concerns about the future of the nuclear site, as URS, which heads the consortium leading the clean-up work, could be bought by California’s Aecom. Already criticized when the consortium was granted an extension last year, the deal is now set to fall into what an industry source described as “yet more confusion” by URS’s change of ownership, expected to be completed by the end of the year. Union leaders want to know what due diligence the government and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) are undertaking to ensure that Aecom is suitable to lead the Sellafield job.
The Independent | 2014, July 24th
Who will pay for the nuclear phase-out?Germany’s federal government is concerned that the provisions in the billions of power companies, which are intended for the phasing out of nuclear power, will not be sufficient. The Ministry of Economy avoided any explicit mention as regards the taxpayers not having to pay for the dismantling of nuclear reactors. The letter solely stated that “under the current polluter liability” principle, full cost responsibility lies in the hands of businesses. Last May, the energy suppliers E.ON, RWE and EnBW had jointly proposed to transfer the remaining German nuclear power plants, together with the provisions, in a public foundation.
Frankfurter Rundschau | 2014, July 23rd
Japan’s NRA clears Sendai 1 & 2Japan’s nuclear watchdog gave safety clearance on July 16 for the restarting of two nuclear reactors in Kagoshima prefecture, southern Japan, recognizing their compliance with stricter regulations created after the Fukushima nuclear accident. The reactors approved by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) are Sendai units 1 and 2 in Satsuma-Sendai city, operated by Kyushu Electric Power Company. The NRA will officially release its inspection report and conduct the final check at the site after posting the report on its website for public comment for a month. The ultimate decision now lies in the hands of local and national authorities, which will have to convince inhabitants. Meetings with Sendai’s inhabitants are scheduled in October, making it impossible for the reactors to restart before this date.
Les Echos | 2014, July 17th
Sellafield is looking for expertsSellafield Limited is currently engaged in a search for specialist suppliers who would be able to assist with the clean-up and decommissioning work at the UK’s historic nuclear site in Cumbria. The work will cover a 10 year period and is currently valued at £1.5 billion. The consortia chosen will work collaboratively with Sellafield Ltd. There is no guaranteed work or committed expenditure, but Sellafield believes that the rewards for chosen suppliers could be substantial. A European call for tender will be launched by the end of the year and suppliers will be selected in 2015.
Enerpresse | 2014, July 03rd
UK nuclear programme gains momentumPlans to build a new British nuclear power station in West Cumbria are moving forward with the announcement by Japan’s Toshiba and France’s GDF Suez that construction of the facility, through their joint venture NuGen, would begin in 2020, with the goal of having the first reactor operating in 2024. The £10 billion reactors will create up to 21,000 jobs and produce 7% of all UK electricity, in what is expected to be Europe’s largest nuclear station. The reactors will use the Westinghouse AP1000 technology.
The Times | 2014, July 01st
ITER prepares for fusionAssystem is among the companies participating in the completion of one of the largest project currently taking place in France, the ITER experimental fusion reactor. Together with Egis Industries, Empresarios Agrupados and Atkins, the Group is part of the ENGAGE European consortium, in charge of architect engineering for the ITER facility. The delivery of the buildings is scheduled for 2016.
Le Moniteur des Travaux Publics et du Bâtiment | 2014, June 27th
Sellafield makes British nuclear waste bill rocketThe bill for cleaning up Britain’s nuclear waste has topped £110 billion after a £6.6 billion increase in the cost estimate for work required over the next 120 years. The biggest increase derived from a fresh assessment of the work required at Sellafield, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) said. Sellafield is now estimated to cost £79.1 billion but the NDA warned that the total would “increase significantly next year” once it had fully assessed a new “performance plan”.
The Daily Telegraph | 2014, June 24th
French Ecology Minister demands review of alternatives to CigeoFrench Ecology Minister Segolene Royal declared that she favoured a review of alternatives before the Cigeo project of deep repository was finally approved. “What I believe is that we have not fully examined all the technological alternatives”, she said. She notably mentioned subsurface nuclear storage, which she said has not been fully considered yet.
Libération | 2014, June 24th
French energy transition bill avoids nuclear controversyOn 18 June, French Energy Minister Ségolène Royal presented an eagerly-anticipated energy transition bill. The bill aims to enshrine presidential ambitions and meet the European objective of a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared with 1990's level. In 2030, nuclear generating capacity will be cut from 75% to 50% of France's total output by 2025, but Ms Royal did not say how.
La Tribune, Les Echos, The Wall Street Journal | 2014, June 19th
Contracts Between China and the UKAs Li Keqiang, China’s Prime minister, was on an official visit in the UK, the two countries signed contracts worth £14 billion (€17.5 billion). British Petroleum will notably supply China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) with natural gas for £12 billion and over 20 years.
Daily Telegraph | 2014, June 18th
Nuclear Could Become Less Competitive Than Renewable EnergiesAccording to a study released by Greenpeace this Thursday, renewable energies, such as wind power and solar energy, could become more competitive than nuclear energies. Costs of production could rise significantly if the nuclear power stations had to comply with the new security rules applied to the new EPR reactor.
La Tribune | 2014, June 13th
Deputies ask State to take charge of nuclear sectorOn 10 June, a parliamentary inquiry committee presented its report on the costs of the nuclear sector. Two main recommendations emerged: the State must take back the control over the sector and not leave EDF in charge on its own, and it must also clear uncertainties on the life expectancy of the 58 French nuclear plants as well as on the funding of the sector.
Les Echos | 2014, June 11th
Germany considers shale gasGermany is set to lift its ban on fracking as early as next year. Applications to carry out the process for extracting the country’s estimated 1.3 billion cubic metres shale gas reserves will be subject to an environmental impact assessment under new legislation to be discussed by the cabinet before the summer break. Just like in France, the German industry is pressuring the government, arguing that shale gas will boost competitiveness, notably with US rivals.
Les Echos | 2014, June 05th
IEA sounds the alarm for the world’s energy needsEnormous amounts of capital investment will be needed to supply the world’s energy needs through 2035, according to a report released by the International Energy Agency (IEA). A total of $40 trillion would go to developing and maintaining energy supplies, with another $8 trillion being spent on energy efficiency, the organisation said, warning that even that amount of investment would not eliminate many of the issues the industry faces.
International New York Times | 2014, June 03rd
Green energies in EuropeRenewable energies in Europe represent 28% of the electricity mix, becoming the first source of electricity. There are 200 GW of installed capacity with 120 GW in wind power and 80 GW in solar energy. Gas power plants have become unprofitable, raising a problem for France in case of peak periods. Meanwhile, between 2012 and 2013, gas prices increased by 37%. Unlike to the US and Japan, the consumption of energy in Europe has decreased.
Les Echos | 2014, May 28th
ONR independency questionedThe UK Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) is receiving technical advice from several of the very companies that it is supposed to be monitoring, including the US engineering conglomerate Jacobs and the FTSE 100 stalwart Amec, leading to accusations of conflict of interest. In early April for example ONR handed Jacobs a five-year deal to help the watchdog in areas like assessing external hazards and decontamination in relation to its work on existing nuclear sites and future reactor designs.
The Independent | 2014, May 27th
Nuclear future is in smallSmall nuclear reactors may be the future of the industry. The head of the OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) has voiced hopes that small nuclear reactors could boost the market. However, more investments are needed. In France, Areva and EDF have set up a consortium to develop the technology but the market today is still a niche, with lingering questions as to both the profitability of such devices and the regulatory framework. In the US, Microsoft founder Bill Gates is one of the enthusiastic supporters of such technologies. He believes they could bring affordable electricity and help fight climate change. France and the US could in fact conduct life-size tests on small reactors but with larger reactors being extended, they still lack the real incentive to do so.
Die Welt | 2014, April 23rd
Energy disputeA factional dispute over energy is brewing in the FDP. Deputy party chairman Wolfgang Kubicki would rather fill energy supply gaps with nuclear power than with lignite. “If we aren’t to manage the energy transition by 2020, we’ll have to see where the electricity is to come from”, said Mr Kubicki. Party leader Christian Lindner had said at the beginning of the month that nuclear power shouldn’t be used to compensate shortages, arguing instead for conventional power plants, especially coal-burning ones. Network expansion over the next two years is central to Mr Kubicki’s conception of a successful energy transition. However, wherever power lines were to be built, like in Bavaria, Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia, citizens’ initiatives have opposed them.
Frankfurter Rundschau | 2014, April 23rd
Britain’s nuclear dump under threat of rising seasBritain’s Drigg low-level waste repository (LLWR) near Sellafield is almost certain to be eroded by rising sea levels and to contaminate the Cumbrian coast with large amounts of radioactive waste, says the Environment Agency (EA). The report comes as EA officials are considering a plan by the companies that run Drigg to dispose of a further 800,000 cubic metres of waste there over the next 100 years. Erosion from storms and rising sea levels caused by climate change has “emerged as the expected evolution scenario” for Drigg, it says.
The Guardian | 2014, April 21st
ASN wants to extend its powersThe French Safety Authority (ASN) 2013 annual report on nuclear safety and radiation protection in France noted that the country’s situation was “quite satisfactory on the whole”. The ASN report however issued concerns regarding Areva’s La Hague and Romans FBFC facilities. Besides, head of ASN Pierre-Franck Chevet advocated for more powers to the regulatory body, including the implementation of a system of daily penalty payments in case of compliance deficiencies. Mr Chevet said such new power for the ASN could be introduced in France’s impending energy transition bill. He also suggested that the ASN financing system be reshaped, with direct contribution from the large operators.
Les Echos | 2014, April 17th
German court rules in favour of nuclear tax refundA Hamburg finance court said that German authorities should refund 5 nuclear operators, to the global amount of €2.2 billion, in nuclear fuel taxes by the government. In its decision, the court questioned the compatibility of the nuclear-fuel tax with German and European law.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung | 2014, April 15th
IPCC report urges increase in low-carbon optionsThe Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said the world needs to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by 40-70% by 2100 to keep the global temperature rise below the 2°C-cap. The cheapest and least risky route to dealing with global warming is to abandon all dirty fossil fuels in coming decades. The report includes nuclear power as a mature low-carbon option, but cautions that it has declined globally since 1993 and faces safety, financial and waste-management concerns. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is also included.
La Croix | 2014, April 14th
Japan reverses “zero nuclear” policyJapan’s cabinet has given its approval to an energy policy that recommends the restart of its idled nuclear reactors despite public concerns. Japan’s fourth Basic Energy Plan defines nuclear as an “important base load power source” and will also allow the construction of new nuclear reactors.
Le Monde | 2014, April 13th