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Britain reverses course on nuclear power

Jill Lawless, Associated Press
The British government on Thursday approved construction of the first new nuclear power plants in a generation, saying atomic energy could help fight climate change and secure the country’s energy supplies in an increasingly unstable world.

Britain joins a growing list of countries rethinking the long-unpopular nuclear option, driven by global warming, geopolitical uncertainty and rising fuel prices. Environmentalists, however, condemned the move as an expensive and dangerous folly that would divert resources from the search for genuinely clean forms of energy.
(10 January 2008)

Britain to Build New Nuclear Power Plants

eNews 2.0
The British Labour government Thursday gave the green light for the construction of a new generation of nuclear power plants which it claimed would safeguard energy supplies while meeting the challenges of climate change.0110 07The controversial plan, presented to parliament in a White Paper Thursday, marks the renaissance of of atomic energy in a country which produced one of the first major anti-nuclear movements in postwar Europe.

Private investors will be invited to build the new plants, which are set to replace Britain’s 19 old-fashioned nuclear power stations expected to be phased out by 2035.

Business Secretary John Hutton told parliament that the government was aiming to secure supplies through a “balanced energy mix” that would include a trebling of renewable energy resources by 2015.

The case for “clean and affordable” nuclear energy was “compelling,” said Hutton, citing both the rising costs of fossil fuels and the need to meet carbon emission targets.

But critics attacked the plan, which they said was agreed by a cabinet some of whose members were once prominent supporters of the anti-nuclear movement.
(10 January 2008)
Also posted at Common Dreams.

Green advisers dismiss nuclear plans as ‘megafix’ solution

John Vidal, Guardian
Two of the UK’s chief green advisers yesterday launched a ferocious attack on government saying the national fight against climate change will be hindered by the decision to encourage nuclear power.

Sir Jonathon Porritt, the chairman of the government’s Sustainable Development Commission (SDC), speaking for the first time since the announcement last week, said that responding to climate change with nuclear power was a “technological megafix”.

“What is disturbing is that government is failing to understand that the more urgent that dealing with climate change becomes, the less relevant that nuclear power is. Solutions have to be found on waste, cost, and decommissioning. They have not been found on any of those issues. It reveals how poor is the understanding by government of the importance of climate change,” he said.
(16 January 2008)

Nuclear Britain

Chris Vernon, The Oil Drum: Europe
On Thursday 10th January 2008 Business Secretary John Hutton announced to MPs that he was giving the green light for new nuclear build in the UK. He is inviting energy companies to bring forward plans to build and operate new nuclear power plants. However considering the nuclear cliff, has the decision come too late to maintain the nuclear contribution?

…John Hutton said in his speech that he hoped the first new reactors would be online by 2018. I’m of the opinion he’s basing that hope more on the nuclear cliff graph than realistic analysis of how long it will actually take. He needs the first one in 2018. If it’s taken this long to get this far, how long is it going to take to (a) choose a design and (b) create the commercial environment the manufactures will demand?

A loss of 5.6GW generating capacity doesn’t sound awful until we consider the background against which it is likely to occur. UK gas production will be almost over by the end of the next decade leaving the country reliant on imports from Norway, Russia and beyond. This raises serious question marks over the long term viability of the 36% (2006 DUKES 5.1) electricity the country currently generates from gas. In addition to that approximately one third of the existing coal fleet is scheduled to close under the EU Large Combustion Plant Directive. In times of hardship EU directives will be the first thing to ignore but even the coal supply is questionable as the UK imports most of its coal and is now competing in an increasingly competitive market.
(15 January 2008)

Germany to remain anti-nuclear stronghold

Vera Eckert, Reuters
Germany will uphold staunch political opposition to atomic energy, unperturbed by the mood swinging back in favour of nuclear power elsewhere.

Oil at record highs, climate worries, and the need to cut dependency on energy imports is due to move the British government to back new nuclear power plants on Thursday.
But Germany, Europe’s biggest and most central power market, will not follow suit.

Faced with a critical and vigilant electorate, no German government will be able to turn back a seven-year old nuclear exit programme for its 17 reactors which must be completed in 2021.

Nor will anyone suggest a new generation of power plants.
(10 January 2008)

Nuclear USA: September – November 2007

Sarah Meyer, Index Research
An overview of policies at home and abroad

… This research covers approximately two months in 2007 of American nuclear policies abroad, as well as those at home. Both are terrifying.

Sarah Meyer is a researcher living in the UK.
NB: I will no longer be researching / blogging as frequently as I am 72 and had a stroke in February 2007. Thank you.

(January 2008)