14 Oct 2016
29 September 2016 was a landmark day for the British people. Greg Clark, the newly appointed head of the newly formed department of Business, Energy and Industrial strategy, signed an agreement with EDF, a company owned by the French government and with the Chinese government as a 33% investor, to proceed with the construction of the first new nuclear power plant in the UK in a generation. Despite all the fuss and furore, the dream of Hinkley C in Somerset is poised to become a reality, albeit by 2030. The Government claimed that UK businesses will benefit from 60% of the estimated £18 billion to be spent on the plant, with 26,000 jobs and internships created.
This decision is a disaster for our nation, primarily because it is an extreme waste of taxpayer money, poses a great threat to our country’s energy security, and to the safety and security of future generations.
Extreme waste of taxpayers’ money
60% of 26,000 jobs is no benefit when one considers that over 27,000 jobs have been lost in the past two years by the solar industry, decimated by Government cuts to the Feed in Tariff and by the death of the Green Deal. The EPR technology is not yet proven in the three countries already constructing the new nuclear power plants, causing each of their budgets to skyrocket out of control. The Olkiluoto 3 (OL3) plant in Finland was supposed to be operational in 2010. It is still not running today.
In December 2012, Areva (the nuclear plant supplier), estimated that the full cost of building the Finnish reactor will be about €8.5 billion, or almost three times the original delivery price of €3 billion. Compare this to the estimated price of the UK plant, estimated at between £18 billion to £29 billion. The UK taxpayer is not privy to the reasons why the plant cost more than 3 times the price in Finland. In Flamanville, France, cracks were found in the plant’s construction. Cracks have also been found in the Taishan facility, in China creating delays and mounting fear of radioactive leakage in Hong Kong, just 130 miles away.
If it is ever completed, the Hinkley C plant is expected to account for 7% of our electricity supply, with a capacity of 3.2GW. UK Power Networks has recently revealed that it has applications to install 6GW of energy storage to our electricity network, virtually eliminating the issue with renewable energy intermittency for a fraction of the cost of Hinkley C and a bringing lot more safety.
Dangerous stockpiles of plutonium in Britain
A catalogue of errors that occur unresolved eventually culminates in disaster. On 5 September 2016, the BBC broadcasted a Panorama programme on the serious accident that is likely to happen at Sellafield in Cumbria. It is hard to believe that our government will ensure UK jobs through the nuclear industry when Sellafield does not employ sufficient employees to sustain reliable safe operations.
The Nuclear Management Partnership, a consortium of French, UK and US companies that were running Sellafield was sacked in 2015 because they were spending too much money. The government has taken over control of the management of Sellafield. Since then, alarms are frequently reset without being investigated, creating conditions that pose an intolerable risk according to those who have managed Sellafield.
The Windscale fire on 10 October 1957 ranks 5 out of seven on the International Nuclear Event Scale. While the name has been changed to Sellafield, the severe dangers persist. An accident occurred in November 2013 forcing the plant to close for 11 months because exposure to radioactive dust made it unsafe to work there.
Experts who have worked at Sellafield say that if something happens, the safety team employed there are not equipped to handle it. Many experts believe that an accident is inevitable, because the plant frequently operates at below minimum safety levels. The poor management and run down infrastructure could lead to a fire that would emit a radioactive plume contaminating our air for 150km. Cracks could allow seepage that could expose the radioactive chemicals to the air. To date, no nuclear waste has been removed from a building that won’t last another 25 years.
Sellafield has the largest stockpile of plutonium in the world, more than the United States and Russia combined. Experts estimate that it will cost £162 billion to clean up Sellafield to make it safe. This experience alone makes it very clear that there is no room for new nuclear power generation on our small island home.
National & Energy Security
Concerns about our national security were raised by politicians and energy experts because of a lawsuit in the US against a Chinese investor in their nuclear power station. The concern is that the Chinese are using their position as investor to improve their knowledge of nuclear science that could be threatening to the national security of the host country.
Real energy security comes when our electricity and heat are affordable for everyone. The Hinkley C plant will not create energy security; in fact it is sure to increase our energy prices because of the guaranteed price that has been secured in the energy Capacity Market. The only way to create real affordable energy is for communities to take the power back into their own hands. This is what we at BHESCO believe, and this is what we will ceaselessly work towards until our own dream has become a reality, when the people of the UK will be writing about a new landmark day in our history.
30 Mar 2015
Everyone will get an opportunity for their question to be asked, questions will be submitted before the event.
Through this event, we aim to:
– Encourage young people/first time voters to engage
– Gain a better understanding of the l…ocal candidates stance on environmental issues
– Encourage lively debate and awareness of the issues
– Give you an opportunity to question your potential MP’s
The event is sponsored by Community Energy South – a new umbrella group for local community energy groups across Sussex and surrounding counties.
Ticket Prices : £5 and concession £3
Doors and bar open: 7.00pm
Deadline for submitting questions: 7.30pm
Debate starts: 8.00pm (prompt – please be in your seats!)
Companies now have the details they need to apply for licences which will enable them to start exploring for shale gas across the UK. Whilst this is only the first step and further drilling requires planning permission, permits from the Environment Agency and sign-off from the Health and Safety Executive, this action highlights the lack of commitment to exploring renewable, clean energy in the UK.
There has also been guidance released for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, World Heritage Sites, National Parks and the Broads, which state that if exploration in these areas is rejected by local authorities, the Communities minister will automatically review and can overturn the decision.
This is not the way towards a stable energy market, with lower prices for consumers. There is a multitude of risks to fracking: methane contamination of drinking water; accidental spillages of fracking fluid contaminating waterways; minor earthquakes and landslides; problems disposing of contaminated fracking fluid; and noise, disruption and local air pollution from lorries and rig operations.
This is why we need to put pressure on the Government to champion clean, renewable energy sources and not those that impact our environment, health and the global climate.
Follow the link to sign Greenpeace’s petition:
The Government was urged last week, by The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee, to accelerate development of the UK’s shale gas and oil resources.The call has been made by the Committee to ensure that the UK can reap the potential benefits that come from extracting the fossil fuels in seams across the country.
Left: the process of fracking
However, as previously reported by BHESCo, this method ofextreme fossil fuel extraction is unsustainable, feeding our dependence on fossil fuels rather than investing in renewable alternatives such as solar, wind and biomass.
The Committee states that the UK is ‘exceptionally fortunate’ to have these resources available, ignoring reports from the Tyndall Centre of the dangers of fracking. It is believed that fracking and extracting resources from seams will reduce our vulnerability, predicted from fossil fuel price increases due in the future. The cost of this vulnerability reduction on our land and water is too great.
Fortunately, not all Members of the Lords are as enthusiastic; Lord Howell has urged caution in the development of commercial fracking, believing it to be seriously flawed and costly. It’s not all good news though as he still wants ‘economically viable shale gas and oil production go ahead as soon a possible’. Howell draws his conclusions from looking at the process in the USA which has taken many years to mature employing their already existing vast fracking infrastructure. The UK, however, does not have such infrastructure meaning that it will be timely and costly to develop.
More important lessons can be taken from the US, where it has been reported that methane emissions are much higher than originally planned and health impacts derived from fracking practices are being validated. At BHESCo we believe that this is the real problem. Fracking releases a concentrated harmful greenhouse gas, methane, which is 20 times more effective in trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, contaminates aquifers and land with poisonous fluids and uses diesel to operate the drilling machinery, emitting harmful particulates and nitrous oxides. All in all, fracking should not be endorsed, urged forward or championed in anyway.
At BHESCo we are encouraging everybody to think about the alternatives to using fossil fuels and join us in a clean energy revolution! Stop depending on fossil fuels and explore the alternatives; could you mount solar panels on your roof to supply your electricity, or install a biomass boiler to heat your home or business? Could you buy an electric or hybrid car? This will put the power back in your hands, not those of the Big Six energy providers, and reduce your impact on the environment.
Join forces with your community to develop a renewable energy project together with us at BHESCo, we could help your local school, community group or even a collection of businesses and homes together set up a community energy project such as this wind farm in Watchfield, which generates enough electricity for 2,500 homes.
Sign up to receive the monthly BHESCo newsletter to keep up to date with news and events in relation to community energy, energy efficiency and the work we do. You can also express your interest and sign up to BHESCo, so when we develop our community projects you will be the first to know about them.