Get Into Nuclear | Nuclear News | May Overview



Here at Get Into Nuclear we aim to provide a clear, easy to read overview of the key news stories of interest and importance in the UK Nuclear Industry as they happen via our social media channels and via a monthly summary on our website.

General Nuclear Industry

14th May- Nuclear deterrent safe from cyber attacks which hit NHS, says Defence Secretary

Britain's nuclear deterrent is protected from cyber attacks which wreaked havoc across the NHS, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has said.

Mr Fallon ruled out concerns over the threat of viruses on Trident operating systems, after the global attack which hit 48 NHS trusts in England and 13 Scottish health boards.

The Government had set aside more than £1.9 billion to tackle cyber threats, of which some £50 million went to the NHS, after an official security review highlighted hacks as a major threat, he said.

Mr Fallon told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: "We never comment on the different systems, obviously for reasons of security, that our submarines use but our vanguard submarines I can absolutely assure you, are safe and operate in isolation when they are out on patrol, and I have complete confidence in our nuclear deterrent."

Pressed further, he said: "I can assure you that the nuclear deterrent is fully protected."

See the full article from AOL here.

25th May - Westinghouse aims for competitive future

Westinghouse's core business remains strong and the company intends to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy stronger, better and more competitive, interim president and CEO José Gutíerrez said yesterday.

Gutiérrez's speech to the Nuclear Energy Assembly - the US Nuclear Energy Institute's (NEI's) annual conference for the US nuclear industry, held this week in Arizona - was his first discussion of Westinghouse's current situation in an open forum since the company's 29 March bankruptcy filing. He said it was important to note that the filing focuses on the construction of the four US reactors at Vogtle and VC Summer. The company's AP1000 construction projects in China are making good progress, and the company remains confident that AP1000 is "good technology," he said.

The bankruptcy filing was a strategic move to "reset the financial footprint" of the company to address construction issues at US projects, while protecting the company's core business, he said. The projects have been beset by significant cost overruns.

The two AP1000s being built at Vogtle in Georgia are scheduled for commercial operation in December 2019 and September 2020, respectively. The project is majority owned by Georgia Power (45.7%), with co-owners Oglethorpe Power (30%), MEAG Power (22.7%) and Dalton City (1.6%), and the units will be operated by Southern Nuclear Operating Company. The two units under construction at VC Summer in South Carolina are being built for Scana subsidiary South Carolina Electricity and Gas and co-owner Santee Cooper and are currently expected to begin operation in 2020.

Gutíerrez said a combination of factors had led to the issues prompting the bankruptcy declaration. The original contracts were signed in 2008 in the context of an expected "nuclear renaissance" - with up to 32 reactors under construction or contracted by 2030 - which failed to materialise. The company had to make significant redesigns to the reactors in response to requirements from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission after the September 2001 terrorist attacks and the 2011 Fukushima accident.

In-depth article can be found at World Nuclear News here

30th May - Areva reactor business sale meets European rules

The European Commission yesterday approved EDF's takeover of Areva's nuclear reactor business under EU merger regulations. The transaction, expected to be completed by the end of this year, is "unlikely to raise competition concerns", it said.

French utility EDF agreed in July 2015 to take a stake of between 51% and 75% in Areva's reactor unit in a government-backed plan to revitalise France's nuclear power industry. The reactor operations to be sold have been transferred to a subsidiary wholly owned by Areva NP, referred to as 'New NP'. Contracts for the Olkiluoto 3 EPR project in Finland and for resources required to complete that project, and some contracts relating to components forged in the Le Creusot plant, are not included in the sale. Those contracts will remain within Areva NP.

The Commission said it had "assessed the probable effects of the transaction on the ability and incentives of the merged entity to engage in foreclosure strategies by restricting access to products, equipment and services designed or supplied by New NP and to EDF, as a customer".

On the market for the design and construction of new reactors, the Commission concluded that EDF and New NP "would not be in a position to push out their competitors because of the different market characteristics and the number of suppliers, and also the number of nuclear plants not operated by EDF".

Full article from World Nuclear News can be found here.

Nuclear Decommissioning

15th May - European industry rates decommissioning opportunities

Germany is offering a great opportunity for new suppliers of decommissioning services because over the next five years all of its shutdown nuclear power plants will enter the decommissioning phase, Jörg Klasen, director of nuclear services at EnBW, said yesterday.

Klasen spoke at the 8th Annual Nuclear Decommissioning & Waste Management Conference Europe 2017 being held in Manchester, England. Asked where they see the biggest opportunities in nuclear decommissioning and waste management over the next five years, 57% of the conference delegates selected Germany.

EnBW, Germany's third biggest utility, received a decommissioning and dismantling permit for Neckarwestheim 1 from the Baden-Württemberg environment ministry in early February. Neckarwestheim 1 thus became the first of the eight units shut down in 2011 to begin dismantling work. Two months later, EnBW received a permit for this work to start at unit 1 of its Philippsburg plant.

"After receiving the licences in the Spring, we are now starting the real work of decommissioning and dismantling. But one of the challenges of entering the European market is the language," Klasen said.

"We've been in contact with several new suppliers, and there is the problem of language when the experts are to have discussions with each other. At the management level, they can talk in English with no problem, but our [engineering] experts are used to speaking in German. So companies from abroad who join with a German-based engineering team have a better chance of getting business."

Read more from World Nuclear News here.

And more from Power Engineering here.

Nuclear Energy

2nd May - Britain unplugged? Brexit warning over nuclear power

Britain’s power supply could be in jeopardy if it loses access to nuclear fuels and expertise because of Brexit, the government is being warned. Critics say the Tories have no coherent plan for what comes after the Euratom treaty, which governs safety standards, cooperation, research and trade in atomic energy across the EU.

Cross-party MPs are warning that unless proper arrangements are made, Britain could be reduced to a “rule-taker”, forced to comply with European rules and standards without having any say in them. And the UK could end up running out of nuclear fuel for reactors that are relied upon heavily for electricity. “Decisive action must take place now,” says Justin Bowden from the GMB trade union.

Read an in-depth article on the matter from The Guardian.

6th May - Toshiba bankruptcy threatens Moorside

Toshiba’s bankrupt nuclear arm may be prevented from providing any emergency funds to its overseas interests, throwing the future of the Moorside nuclear plant in Cumbria into fresh doubt.

It has emerged that Westinghouse, the Toshiba-owned American nuclear reactor developer, faces orders not to prop up any joint venture agreements that it entered into before the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March.

Wall Street private equity giant Apollo has pledged an $800m (£617m)rescue loan to the Pennsylvania-based company, which is awaiting court approval, while a group of hedge funds is also interested in providing emergency financing.

Find out more from The Telegraph here

16th May - CEO Tom Samson briefs Cumbrian stakeholders on NuGen’s Strategic Review

NuGen’s CEO Tom Samson held a series of meetings with elected representatives and technical and special interest groups in Cumbria to discuss the company’s current transitional phase.

Following recent news on challenges to NuGen’s Moorside project due to shareholder and reactor vendor issues, NuGen initiated a series of face-to-face meetings with communities and representative groups in West Cumbria to discuss the current situation.

Held at Whitehaven Golf club, the Moorside Technical Group (MTG) was followed by an elected members’ briefing where parish council, local authority and county councillors were briefed on NuGen’s plans, and given the opportunity to ask questions about the situation.

Tom Samson set the scene by outlining NuGen’s “tough start to 2017” when the extent of financial issues affecting Toshiba and reactor vendor Westinghouse became apparent.

He said these issues, unconnected to Moorside, had then prompted current shareholder ENGIE to decide to exit the project in line with shareholder agreements.

“At the end of March, it became clear we at NuGen had to take a step back due to these circumstances and revisit some fundamental elements on which we had been building the programme to deliver Moorside.”

“As has been reported we took the decision to “hit the pause button” in order to explore our options to move forward to our objective – which is to deliver the next generation of low-carbon baseload electricity by the mid-2020s, for the benefit of the UK’s future prosperity.

Check out the news story from NuGen here.

24th May - Britain's on the brink of a small-scale nuclear reactor revolution

Sure, there are hurdles, but no £18bn hole on the other side like Hinkley Point.

For the first time ever in April, the UK's data centres and clouds ran on electricity generated without burning coal.

The National Grid celebrated the news on Twitter with the promise of more coal-free days to come.

As coal-fired power plants wind down and with talk of blackouts in the air, nuclear is back on the table after the government gave the go-ahead last year for a third reactor at Hinkley Point in Somerset. Hinkley Point C is an £18bn, 35-year scheme that'll be operated by EDF. It took financial backing from the Chinese government to land.

However, a cheaper and smaller alternative is emerging if activity from British entrepreneurs and academics is anything to judge by – the small "modular" nuclear reactor, or SMR.

Mini reactors are nothing new – they have been installed in nuclear submarines since the 1950s, and Rolls-Royce produced them for the Royal Navy for decades.

An SMR is defined as producing 300MWe – just 10 per cent of what Hinkley Point C should provide.

SMRs are defined as reactor systems that are comparatively small, compact and entirely factory built. As a result, SMRs can be placed underground or underwater and moved for decommissioning. They employ "passive" safety systems that do not require human intervention – therefore fewer staff – and use a relatively small amount of nuclear material. There are a number of different SMR designs.

Find out more from The Register.

24th May - UK public have say on revised Wylfa Newydd design

Horizon Nuclear Power has today launched the third formal consultation on its planned Wylfa Newydd nuclear power plant on the Isle of Anglesey. The public will be able to give their opinion on the latest proposals for the project, including a more compact plant design.

The company said that since it last consulted on the project, between August and October 2016, the project has "gone through an important period of review". This has reflected two key stages in the on-going development of the project: the appointment in May 2016 of Menter Newydd as its engineering procurement and construction joint venture partner; and Horizon's consideration of previous consultation feedback.

Horizon CEO Duncan Hawthorne said, "In this third stage of consultation, we're focusing on the areas that have changed or where there are new proposals. The changes we're proposing will enable us to streamline our construction schedule, reduce the number of construction workers we need to bring in and temporarily house, and cut the number of development sites we need."

Under the latest proposals, the layout of the Wylfa Newydd plant has been altered to make construction and operation of the project more compact and efficient, Horizon said. The main plant buildings are now located on a single 'power island' rather than in two independent areas, thereby reducing the overall site area. In addition, some of the buildings, structures and features of the plant have been reduced in number.

Horizon said the construction process "now adopts a more modular technique", which reduces the construction program and requires fewer construction workers on site. It is now proposing constructing one larger radioactive waste storage facility to serve both reactors, rather than two separate smaller buildings. Horizon said the landscape mounds have also been reviewed "to give a more natural shape to the landscape".

All three of Wylfa Newydd's off-site facilities - the alternative emergency control centre, the environmental survey laboratory and the mobile emergency equipment garage - have been consolidated on a site at Llanfaethlu. This, Horizon says, reduces the number of development sites associated with the project.

Read the full article from World Nuclear News.

Read a further news story from The BBC here.

26th May - Nuclear still shines in the UK

On Friday 26 May more than 60% of electricity generation in the UK came from low carbon sources. By far the largest single source was nuclear energy. However, that might not be the impression gained from news reports that day, such as the FT's Solar outshines nuclear as spring sun boosts UK output and BBC News's UK achieves solar power record as temperatures soar. This briefing examines that facts behind this. It also examines what generation option has the greatest potential for securing further greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

Many of the news reports that day focused on the peak of solar generation, around midday when the sun shone strongest. At this time about 24% of electricity generation in the UK was supplied by solar, a fraction more than the 23% supplied by nuclear. But, as the chart below shows, using data from Gridwatch, solar generation only exceeded nuclear generation for around three hours. Away from this peak solar output declines rapidly, whereas nuclear generation remains near-constant throughout the day.

Check out the amazing article from World Nuclear Association here.

Nuclear Defence

22nd May - Labour's nuclear defence policy descends into chaos

Jeremy Corbyn refused to promise Labour would keep all four Trident submarines on Saturday as the party's nuclear stance descended into chaos.

During a BBC interview Mr Corbyn said his party was "committed to Trident", but refused to specify whether that meant renewing each of the four nuclear submarines required to maintain a presence as sea at all times.

He said: "Included in our manifesto is absolute commitment which is given by the party and given by me that we will also pursue multilateral disarmament through the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and that is a position that has been held for a long time by the party."

But when asked if he was committed to renewing the four submarines Mr Corby simply said: "It is clear what is said in the manifesto."

Find out more from The Telegraph.

Here at Get Into Nuclear we aim to provide a clear, easy to read overview of the key news stories of interest and importance in the UK Nuclear Industry as they happen via our social media channels and via a monthly summary on our website.

Any feedback, comments, issues or requests are very much encouraged.

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