From our Chairman
NUCLEAR IN NEW ENERGY STRATEGY
SONE warmly welcomes the recent Government announcement of its energy strategy. Included is a commitment to build substantial new nuclear capacity. Excellent news.
The intention appears to be that the programme will embrace both new large stations and some SMR stations. At this stage, the programme is thin on detail. One interesting and welcome aspect is the intention to set up a new body to drive this programme forward. Hopefully this new quango will be made up of nuclear industrialists and people who know what is required. Let us also hope that BEIS does not instigate a round of “consultations” so spinning everything out until the tide changes again.
SONE members should now be expressing our support for the new strategy and urging our MP’s to encouraging the Government to put the fine words into real action.
Meanwhile, Rolls-Royce have reported that, under this programme, they would hope to have their first SMR on stream in 2029.Neville Chamberlain
A link to Johnson’s latest pronouncements as reported by CNBC: https://www.cnbc.com/2022/05/02/boris-johnson-uk-will-build-one-new-nuclear-plant-a-year.html, though now reported in UK press, too. Talking with Japan, the BBC tell us: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-61329435. If we have been here before, perhaps we can keep HMG on board this time!
More good news, this time from California
California has long been the home of science-defying anti-nuclear politics. Their last nuclear power plant, Diablo Canyon, has been condemned as not competitive with “ever cheaper” renewables, backed by gas and hydro. Record low water levels on the Colorado, record prices for gas and predictable problems with renewables are undercutting that story.
So, with the threat of power shortages looming and the climate crisis worsening, the Los Angeles Times reported on 29th April “Governor Gavin Newsom may attempt to delay the long-planned closure of California’s largest electricity source: the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant.”
This will be a triumph for Heather Hoff and Kristin Zaitz, who—while themselves working at the plant—founded the original Mothers for Nuclear. They are Honorary Members of SONE and have responded to a message of congratulation.
Germany should be next to see the light. Mothers for Nuclear Deutschland, @Moms4G with 900 followers, appreciate the task ahead:
Kalifornien, das Mutterschiff der internationalen Anti-Atom-Bewegung dreht sich und nimmt Kurs auf die Rettung von #DiabloCanyon— Mothers for Nuclear Deutschland (@Moms4G) April 29, 2022
Es ist Zeit, den Kopf aus dem Sand zu nehmen, @Die_Gruenen! https://t.co/yaO6OUOtcA
You might expect that with Putin supplying their gas the German Government would have already decided to maintain their nuclear power plants. But apparently not!
Richard Ollington, SONE Member, appeared on GBNews on 31st March making the general case for nuclear against onshore wind.
Then on 19th April Wade Allison was invited back onto Liam Halligan’s “On the Money” to discuss energy bills. That is the third time. Evidently our message is welcomed on this media channel.
Renewables and batteries in trouble
Having proclaimed how cheap it is, the wind industry now says it is
selling at a loss:
Wind, solar and the expanding battery industry are highly dependent on
exceptional minerals. Just how unrealistic their ambitions are is spelt
out in a letter authored by Natural History Museum Head of Earth
Sciences Prof Richard Herrington and fellow expert members of SoS
MinErals (an interdisciplinary programme of NERC-EPSRC-Newton-FAPESP
funded research) just delivered to the Committee on Climate Change.
The letter explains that to meet UK electric car targets for 2050 we would need to produce just under two times the current total annual world cobalt production, nearly the entire world production of neodymium, three quarters the world’s lithium production and 12% of one year’s total annual production of mined copper. A 20% increase in UK-generated electricity would be required to charge the current 252.5 billion miles to be driven by UK cars.
Meanwhile the safety of lithium-ion batteries continues to cause concern:
- firstly for shipping insurance:
- secondly for the London Fire Brigade:
- thirdly for German buses:
Other types of battery may prove safer, but the problems of weight, charging rate, life time have also to be overcome.
In this mad world where there are so many fools, what should we make of
this – notice the date?
Recommended Article this month
On the subject of offshore wind, a new article is posted on the SONE website:
Anything to avoid nuclear?
Thanks to Derek Birkett for writing up the following story about a project likely to be charged to British consumers, one suspects.
Renewable Energy from Morocco?
A recent article in the Express of 14th March 2022 has revealed a surprising project to exploit the renewable potential of Morocco by means of a direct subsea HVDC cable connection over a distance of two thousand kilometres. The project would have a potential to supply 8 percent of Great Britain’s electricity needs at a cost of £16 billion and will generate electricity from the sun and wind to deliver 3.6GW of reliable energy for an average of more than 20 hours a day. Four cables, each 3,800km long form the twin 1.8GW HVDC subsea cable system that will follow the shallow water route from the Moroccan site to a grid location at Devon in the UK, passing Spain, Portugal, and France.
A technical feasibility study has already been completed to validate the reliability and cost of the project with an agreement already made with National Grid for voltage source convertor stations to be set up in Devon. Former Tesco boss Sir David Lewis is heading the project and intends raising £800m to build three UK production facilities to tap into growing demand for the electric cables used for offshore wind farms and undersea interconnectors. From other information sources a new type of cable laying vessel is under a tendering process for delivery in 2025 with this project in mind. New factories located at Hunterston and Port Talbot are in the process of seeking planning permission.
Clearly this project has the potential to stimulate considerable commercial investment and seems to have satisfied conditions for reliability and costing but does it meet the requirement for security of supply? The timing of this press report is before the invasion of Ukraine and the far-reaching consequences that must follow. Without doubt a new reality has emerged where supply security has become an overriding consideration above environmental concern. The need for basic sources of fuel supply has been neglected by western democracies and the apparent solution of further renewable investment overlooks the serious pitfalls that accompany its development. A new paper by the GWPF entitled Taking Back Control explains well this predicament and recommends the immediate curtailment of further renewable investment.
The vulnerability of cable when used for grid transmission, apart from its excessive cost, is the delay arising from whenever fault situations occur, especially with subsea interconnection in winter. There is a further security hazard in being a prime target for terrorist activity where at least one nation has a submersible facility being launched from submarines. There is the requirement for consent to allow any power transfer, becoming a source of leverage in any political negotiation, unrelated to power supply. Not least is the marine circumstance with any fault that must be traced, retrieved, repaired, tested then reinstated by highly specialised personnel whenever sea conditions permit, an uncertain process that can last for weeks, if not months.
Transmission and generation are bedfellows and with privatisation became separated. With wind resource the cost of connection was borne by the grid thereby concealing the actual cost that would eventually be paid by the consumer. The example of solar power has only daytime availability and gives scant support over the winter months, the time when power is most needed. Both these sources are unreliably intermittent with low utilisation. The GB grid system demands replacement sources that are dispatchable that can only be thermal with there being insufficient hydro potential. Essentially, renewable sources demand a corresponding capacity of thermal investment, unless reliance is placed upon vulnerable continental interconnection.
Therefore, that interconnection can only come from undersea HVDC connection with the continent. Already the UK is reliant on Europe for supply at winter peak demands. This circumstance would have come much sooner had peak demands not dropped substantially, with rising consumer bills having doubled over the past decade. Can power imports be expected if any EU member has a shortfall of capacity over peak periods? Can future cohesion of EU nations endure? The neglect of dispatchable generation across Europe over this past decade (as also in the UK) presents a scenario that cannot discount power failures becoming endemic.
Further renewable investment onto the limited size of the GB Grid System can only stimulate grid instability. Unlike the continent with French nuclear base load as an anchor, the position in the UK will see most nuclear capacity being withdrawn before planned new nuclear capacity can emerge. Past uncertainty to deliver, especially from foreign expertise, suggests a need to promote new super critical coal resource as an insurance. The UK is alone in not developing this indigenous asset where winter stocks can be readily stockpiled at site.
In conclusion, what must be considered is the grid system requirement to cover the maximum potential single event loss with any supply disruption. A project on the scale of the Moroccan scheme would join other new continental interconnections together with large intended new build nuclear projects. The provision of running standby capacity is an expensive burden that could entail further support when having this scale of potential losses to consider. An overall engineering assessment should be undertaken to enlighten our political masters of the unacceptable risks of our changed circumstance, especially when policy is being driven by commercial imperatives.Derek G Birkett 5th April 2022
How nuclear energy acquired a bad name
In the April Newsletter there was a link with brief discussion to a webinar to be held on 20th April by IOMP-ICRP on Radiation Protection and LNT. Unfortunately, the conservative obstruction of science on display was of the kind that must have been familiar to Copernicus and Galileo in their discussions with the church.
In this Newsletter we give some links to the other side of the story.
Professor Edward Calebrese of Amherst College, Massachusetts, is a
famous toxicologist who has worked for many years unravelling the
pseudo-science with which the conservative forces of the fossil fuel
industry succeeded in fighting off the challenge from nuclear energy.
While the tobacco industry survived for many years by denying the link
to cancer, the safety industry has maintained that nuclear radiation
causes cancer according to the Linear No-Threshold model. This is
scientifically bogus but has protected the interests of fossil fuels for
70 years. The US Health Physics Society is concerned to expose the
history and science by publishing Calebrese’s work in a series of videos:
Members of SONE who wish to read a less formal account of how humanity misjudged nuclear radiation and its cancer risks are welcome to find books “Radiation and Reason” and “Nuclear is for Life” on Amazon, or obtain them direct from Wade Allison, Southfields, Ludgershall, Aylesbury HP18 9PB, enclosing a cheque for £20, the pair. No cheque book? Call 01844237602.
Here is another well-seasoned read on the same subject:
Prof. Ludwik Dobrzyński 1941-2022
A Polish physicist, a friend of nuclear energy, a founder member of SARI (Scientists for Accurate Radiation Information). He will be sadly missed, even by many who never actually met him.Wade Allison, Hon Sec