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Small Modular Reactors – the Estonian need or distraction?

On November 30 the Estonian Green Movement will host international and local nuclear energy experts. We will seek clarity on the question of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors as an inescapable need in the Estonian future energy mix, or as a focus-grabbing distraction. The evening will bring some presentations and a panel discussion. Preliminary program:

• SMR financing outlooks – M.V. Ramana, University of British Columbia.

• Nuclear energy and climate change – Paul Dorfman, Nuclear Consulting Group

• Advanced isn’t always better – Edwin Lyman, Union of Concerned Scientists• Estonian national nuclear energy working group overview – Reelika Runnel, Ministry of Environment

• Reflections and discussion – Reelika Runnel, Marek Strandberg (Postimees news portal), Henri Ormus (Fermi Energy), Paul Dorfman.

The conference will be held in English and broadcasted online via the Estonian Green Movement Facebook page.

More information about the event can be found here.

Additional information:
Madis Vasser

Ministers close to deal that could end China’s role in UK nuclear power station

Ministers are closing in on a deal that could kick China off a project to build a £20bn nuclear power station on the Suffolk coast and pump in tens of millions of pounds of taxpayer cash instead – a move that would heighten geopolitical tensions.

The government could announce plans to take a stake in Sizewell C power station, alongside the French state-backed power giant EDF, as early as next month, ahead of the Cop26 climate summit.

That would be likely to result in China General Nuclear (CGN), which currently has a 20% stake in Sizewell, being removed from the project.

It risks inflaming political tensions, which are running high after Britain’s decision to join the Aukus nuclear submarine pact with the US and Australia – a move designed to counteract China’s military expansion. CGN, the power giant backed by the communist state, is also bankrolling EDF’s Hinkley Point C power station in Somerset.

Continue reading in Guardian…

Photograph: EDF.

French nuclear firm trying to fix ‘performance issue’ at China plant

The Guardian – Vincent Ni China affairs correspondent

EDF subsidiary reportedly warned of ‘imminent radiological threat’ at Taishan nuclear power plant

A French nuclear company has said it is working to resolve a “performance issue” at a plant it part-owns in China’s southern Guangdong province after an earlier report of a potential leak there.

Framatome, a subsidiary of the energy giant EDF, told Agence France-Presse news agency that it was “supporting resolution of a performance issue” at the plant. “According to the data available, the plant is operating within the safety parameters,” it said, adding that an extraordinary meeting of the power plant’s board had been called “to present all the data and the necessary decisions”.

The statement came shortly after the US TV network CNN reported that Framatome had previously warned the US energy department of an “imminent radiological threat” in a letter.

According to CNN, the letter included an accusation that the Chinese safety authority was “raising the acceptable limits for radiation detection outside the Taishan nuclear power plant in Guangdong province in order to avoid having to shut it down”.

China’s state-run China General Nuclear Power Group said on Sunday that operations at its nuclear power station in south China met safety rules and the surrounding environment was safe. A US official told CNN “the Biden administration believes the facility is not yet at ‘crisis level’”.

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Building Britain’s Biggest Nuclear Power Station review – so boring it’s a masterpiece!

The Guardian – Stuart Jeffries

This programme was so boring. How boring? Let’s put it this way. It dealt with a 130-metre-long boring machine that is boring three boreholes under the Bristol Channel’s Jurassic bedrock. It’s a machine even more boring than the one boring through the Chilterns to make the rail journey to or from Birmingham less boring. As if that were possible. The machine is so boring it doesn’t have a name, though if there were a public vote it would be called Borey McBoreface.

First, we saw the boring machine arriving by barge then loaded on to trucks and driven under police escort through Somerset lanes. This sequence was so devoid of incident it resembled that four-hour BBC film of a sleigh ride across the tundra in real time. At least the tundra film had huskies. Director Mat Stimpson only had an answer to the question “Where did all the interchangeable male engineers in hi-vis gilets and hard hats go?” Actually that’s not fair: there was a female engineer, whom we saw checking that the ambient temperature didn’t rise too fast to make concrete set too quickly. Which wasn’t boring at all.

Continue reading in Guardian…

Twisted words and facts in the nuclear debate starting in Estonia

Recently, the Minister of the Environment approved the composition of the National Nuclear Energy Working Group, which consists mainly of officials with no background in specific nuclear energy. Doubts arise as to whether it is possible to competently analyze the possibilities of introducing nuclear energy in Estonia, discusses Madis Vasser in a recent article published in Postimees.

Read more..

Nuclear energy seen by ordinary people

“When I was little I used to look at the two towers that I saw on the other side of the river Dnipro and I compared them to two big “Plombir” ice-creams. I didn’t understand back then that the two towers belonged to Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant.”

Discussion evening with Estonian Green Movement intern Xeniya Kozlova who will share: her experience with living next to a nuclear power plant in Ukraine and about her master’s thesis on the ecological impact of the Soviet nuclear experiments in central Asia.

Estonia needs a balanced discussion on the risks of nuclear energy

On March 12, 2021, Fermi Energia, a private company engaged in the marketing of nuclear energy, sent a letter to several state institutions, in which the head of the company Kalev Kallemets strongly questioned the critical opinions of independent energy experts about the potential for nuclear energy in Estonia.

As the issue of the social and environmental impacts of energy is one of the priority areas of activity of the Estonian Green Movement, we consider it necessary to refer to the misleading statements in the Fermi Energia letter. This issue needs a balanced and thorough public debate before the country decides whether to commit itself permanently to nuclear energy, which would also mean significant public costs.

Full article in Estonian can be found here..

Madis Vasser: investors and intelligent people seem to be fascinated by the nuclear myth – sad

On February 9, about 50 nuclear energy enthusiasts from around the world gathered behind video screens to hold the second Fermi Atomic Energy Conference. The highlight of the long day was the solemn signing of the document “Tallinn Declaration on the Future of Licensing of Small Modular Nuclear Power Plants”.

Among the signatories were such large and respected companies as Fortum Finland and Vattenfall Sweden, as well as several small and little-known foreign NGOs. All of them are united by an unwavering belief in the inevitable renaissance of nuclear energy. The aim of the declaration is simple: to encourage the widespread deployment of small nuclear power plants throughout Europe in the early 2030s.

Full article in Estonian can be found here..

The nuclear hype drives us away from the right choices

The possible initiation of a special plan for an experimental modular nuclear power plant in Estonia, which has recently emerged, is, to put it mildly, incomprehensible. It is clear that the green revolution needs alternative solutions to the oil shale industry that would be acceptable to all sections of society, create jobs and be able to provide an opportunity to earn a return on investment. However, proven solutions alongside the nuclear power plant have been around for a long time.

The general misconception is that the current alternatives in the energy sector, which are sustainable wind and solar energy, are not enough and that something is needed to ensure security of supply when there is no wind and no sunshine in some parts of Estonia. However, according to Elering, Estonia’s security of supply is sufficient.

Full article can be found here..
Picture: Wirestock (Freepik)

Peeter Vassiljev: Instead of a nuclear power plant, we need a battery power plant

The challenge for 2030 will not be: “where do we get electricity instead of oil shale at all”, but instead: “what do we do with the surplus electricity produced in favorable weather and where do we get electricity in the dark and windless”. We need the ability to accumulate energy, writes Peeter Vassiljev.

For more than a year, nuclear reactors have been discussed more intensively in Estonia, especially in the key of offering solutions. We would have more climate-neutral energy, we would ensure energy independence, we would stimulate the economy through the construction sector, and it would all be very, very safe, because we are using the latest technology.

Discussion started by talking about molten salt reactors and praised the automatic safety that results from the controllability of the chain reaction and the spontaneous interruption if something goes wrong. After a while, however, co-operation agreements also came with developers of water-based reactors, and this time it was said that well-proven technology has been improved, we have learned from accidents and now making smaller ones and hiding them underground. By now, the deceptive default effect of the debate has passed and the wish to launch a special plan which has been put on the table.

Full article: ERR. Photo: Peeter Vassiljev, private collection.

Plan now for more beastly weather and coastal destruction

The Guardian – Letters

Weather events like Storm Darcy highlight the need for better protection plans in East Anglia, according to Prof Susan M Brooks and Prof Tom Spencer

Once again, eastern England is in the icy grip of “the beast” (UK weather: Storm Darcy to bring more snowfall and gale-force winds, 8 February), with the coast being pounded by persistent waves up to 4 metres high. In February and March 2018, similar waves associated with “the beast from the east” and the “mini beast” stripped beaches down to bedrock and saw soft rock cliffs retreat by over 10 metres. The erodible East Anglian coastline supports habitats of high conservation value and installations of strategic importance to UK energy security (Sizewell nuclear power stations, Bacton gas terminals). If these outbreaks of polar air are to become more frequent in a warmer world, as some suggest, the potential impacts of such phenomena must be factored into regional coastal management planning, alongside the more usual focus on sea-level rise.
Prof Susan M Brooks Birkbeck, University of London, Prof Tom Spencer Cambridge University

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Hinkley Point C costs may rise by £500m on back of Covid crisis

The Guardian – Jillian Ambrose Energy correspondent

Opening of UK nuclear power plant could be delayed by six months

The Covid-19 pandemic could delay construction of the Hinkley Point C nuclear reactor by six months and raise its costs by £500m, according to its developer.

The fresh delays are expected to take the cost of the UK’s first new nuclear power plant in a generation to £23bn, EDF Energy said, and put back its launch to the summer of 2026.

Related: Cross-channel power link for 1m British homes opens

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Saxon church prays for deliverance from nuclear plant

The Guardian – James Tapper

Community says boom in renewable energy means Bradwell B in Essex is not needed

For the 55 years that Tim Fox has worshipped at St Peter-on-the-Wall, his only neighbours have been a farm and a birdwatchers’ shelter.

Now, the tranquil surroundings of the salt marsh and the Essex sea wall at Bradwell-on-Sea are threatened by a new arrival: a sprawling nuclear power station, Bradwell B.

Related: Michael Morpurgo on Bradwell-on-Sea: ‘The exhilaration of infinite beauty’

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Peep Mardiste: Five problems of a small nuclear power plant

If we start to build a nuclear power plant now, we would become a dangerous test site, the risks and costs will start from Estonia and will be covered by us, says a member of the Board of the Estonian Green Movement.

The group of nuclear enthusiasts dream of building the first small nuclear power plant in Europe in Estonia. Such an untested station in the world would involve several risks – radioactive waste, technological threats, security issues and a heavy burden on the public purse. In addition, a new nuclear power plant would not help solve the climate crisis.

Article can be found here. Illustration: Shuttershock/EPL.