Response to letter from Lesley Griffiths AM Sept 6th 2018
We endorse a number of the statements made by the Cabinet Secretary in her letter dated September 6th specifically :
An 80% reduction in emissions by 2050 (although Zero Carbon Britain claims 100%)
Trawsfynydd is the only inland nuclear power plant in the UK, it was shut down in 1991 after 26 years of operation. However, in June 2018 the UK Government announced a £40m facility to support the design of Advanced Nuclear Technologies (ANT’s) would be developed on the site
Advanced Nuclear Technologies (ANT’s) encompasses Small Modular Reactors (SMR’s) – the term used to describe a wide range of developing nuclear reactor technologies that share a number of common attributes ;
* they are smaller (under 300 Mw) producing about a tenth of the power of a conventional nuclear station
* designed so that much of the plant can be made in a factory and transported to the site.
SMR’s generally fall into two categories
a) Generation III water-cooled SMR’s – similar to existing nuclear power station reactors but on a smaller scale, and b) Generation IV advanced modular reactors, which use other cooling systems or fuels . They range in scale between micro, small and medium scale reactors and which span technology types from conventional water-cooled reactors, to those using novel fuels and coolants.
The Westinghouse SMR is a >225 MWe integral pressurized water reactor
The Government is running a two-stage Advanced Modular Reactor (AMR) Programme, managed by Innovate UK where they have invited companies such as Rolls Royce to submit designs / ideas
Stage 1 – Launched in March 2016, offering grants of up to £4 million to support around 8 initiatives to undertake feasibility studies.
Stage 2 – Up to £40 million to support 3-4 vendors to accelerate their designs eg. at Trawsfynydd
WHAT IS WRONG WITH THEM ?
It’s the same old technology – The basic idea actually dates to the 1940s, when the U.S. Air Force, Army, and Navy each initiated R&D on various types of small reactors. Some proponents see them as the solution to the problems facing large
reactors, particularly soaring costs, safety, and radioactive waste. Unfortunately, small-scale reactors can’t solve these problems, and would likely exacerbate them. As the history makes clear, small nuclear reactors would be neither as cheap nor as easy to build and operate as their modern proponents claim.
(IEER/PSR presentation http://www.ieer.org/fctsheet/small-modular-reactors2010.pdf
It’s the last ditch stand of a dying industry – nuclear power proponents are pinning their hopes on SMR’s without thinking about the new problems they will create such as inspecting production lines , procedures for recalls, or the complications and costs of a variety of new forms of nuclear waste on a number of different sites.
Safety concerns – You need more SMR’s to produce the same amount of energy as conventional stations so that raises issues of safety, quality, licencing and of course security
Cheaper does not necessarily mean cost-effective – In Dec 2017 The Atkins Consultancy report for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said there was “a great deal of uncertainty with regards to the economics of SMR’s. The Report found that power from SMRs would cost nearly one-third more than conventional nuclear stations because of reduced economies of scale and the costs of deploying first-of-a-kind technology.” http://www.atkinsglobal.com/en-GB/angles/all-angles/our-nuclear-future
Efficiency and most renewable technologies are already cheaper than new large reactors. The time it will take to certify SMRs will do little or nothing to help with the global warming problem and will actually complicate current efforts underway.
The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 is unique to Wales and demands that we think about the long-term impact of decisions, it also offers a huge opportunity to make long-lasting, positive changes for current and future generations and yet the Welsh Government is condoning an energy policy at variance with the Act.
What is the future for Wales are we to be engulfed by nuclear power stations? – At present that looks possible;
* In 2010 the UK Government categorically stated it would not subsidise nuclear developments.
* 19th July 2011 the UK Government approved a National Policy Statement on Nuclear Generation. This listed 8 sites in England and Wales suitable for new nuclear reactors. Developers are currently planning 13 new reactors at 6 of the sites – the other nomi-nated sites are Heysham and Hartlepool.
* March 2017 concrete pouring started on the first structures at Hinkley Point : an 8km network of tunnels to carry piping and cables around the site; mud from the site is sched-uled for dumping in Cardiff Grounds from July 2018 .
* June 4th 2018 Greg Clarke announces “Wylfa Newydd could cost more than £15 billion to build and be part-funded by taxpayers to the tune of £5 billion” thus overturning the 2010 pledge not to subsidize
Four reactor designs are being considered for UK new-build: the Areva/ Frama-tome EPR (originally the European Pressurised Reactor), Westinghouse’s AP1000, Hitachi-GE’s Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR), and the Chinese Hualong HPR1000. South Korean group Kepco is also preparing a bid to deploy its APR1400 in the UK
Hinkley Point – Scheduled for completion by 2025
Hinkley Point in Somerset is 14 miles from Barry and 19 from Cardiff. After years of negotiations the UK government has finally managed to convince EDF (a French utility company) to invest, but only after it guaranteed the company a set price for the electricity the plant produces, even if its higher than the open market price at the time. Even then, EDF only committed once it had secured Chinese backing. As the formerly pro-nuclear The Economist put it in 2016 in an analysis entitled “ Hinkley Pointless – Britain should cancel its nuclear white elephant and spend the billions on making renewables work” .
Wylfa Newydd (Ynys Mon) – Scheduled for completion 2024
Horizon Nuclear Power, owned by Hitachi plans to build two 1.3GWe ABWR’s at Wylfa and at least two at Oldbury (Gloucestershire). Hitachi is still trying to find funding partners to share the costs and is currently sounding out the Development Bank of Japan and other Japanese power companies ; a problem as many are struggling with the heavy financial fallout from the 2011 meltdown at Fukushima. Tepco for example has to raise huge amounts of money to decommission the Fukushima Dai-ichi station and compensate victims.
Moorside (Cumbria) – scheduled for completion 2024
Cumbria already has the biggest store of plutonium anywhere in the world and is now set for a further 3 new reactors. The original plan by NuGeneration, ( the British subsidiary of Toshiba-owned Westinghouse Electric Company) , had the station coming online from 2024.
Why is the UK Government so determined to push ahead with nuclear and why is the Welsh Government not challenging this energy programme when we have more than enough green renewable options here. We need to ask questions NOW
WHAT YOU CAN DO
1. Write to your MP pointing out why a nuclear energy programme is unnecessary, is no solution to climate change and will cost the earth and the environment.
2. Write to your AM and ask them to justify why the Welsh Government is supporting the UK Government nuclear programme in light of the 2015 Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (Wales)
Points to raise
> Nuclear power is a financial nightmare not only will it cost the taxpayer billions the public will also have to run the risk of lengthy and costly over-runs; the hallmark of nuclear power construction worldwide
> Nuclear is no solution to climate change – The UK has a binding target of a cut in CO2 gases by 34% by 2020 but even at the most optimistic nuclear building rate ie. 10 new reactors by 2025, the UK’s carbon emissions would be cut by just 4%. And where do they think the uranium comes from ?
> Nuclear locks us into the same old inflexible, inefficient and outdated energy system, it also undermines the solutions that can deliver energy and cut our carbon footprint quicker and cheaper.
> Nuclear waste – we already have a 60 year legacy of waste we don’t know what to do with. New nuclear plants will increase the amount of atomic radioactivity by at least three times.
> Nuclear increases our chances of major radioactive contamination from accidents, routine releases and terrorism.
> Nuclear has a history of very serious accidents – Kyshtym 1957 (Soviet Union) level 6 on the INES(International Nuclear Events Scale) Level 7 being the worst possible. Windscale Fire (1957 Cumbria) ) INES level 5, Three Mile Island (USA 1979 ) level 5, Chernobyl (Ukraine 1986) level 7 and Fukishima (Japan 2011) level 7.
On the 25th of January 2018 the Welsh Government issued a Consultation Document on the “Geological disposal of radioactive waste – Working with potential host communities” (Responses by 20 April 2018)
The document seeks views on the arrangements for engaging with communities in Wales considering hosting a Geological Disposal Facility(GDF) or waste dump. Questions include:
what might constitute a community + how they might be identified (e.g. County Council, Community Council, landowner, a community group or a local group of businesses?)
how communities should be represented and how to involve people in the wider community
the right of withdrawal and the test of public support
the financial implications.
Diagram : Radioactive Waste Management Ltd – Siting and Engagement Implementation Dec 2017