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'Hundreds of problems' at EU nuclear plants
Hundreds of problems have been found at European nuclear plants that would cost 25bn euros (£20bn) to fix, says a leaked draft report.
The report, commissioned after Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster, aimed to see how Europe's nuclear power stations would cope during extreme emergencies.
The final report is to be published on Thursday. The draft says nearly all the EU's 143 nuclear plants need improving.
Anti-nuclear groups say the report's warnings do not go far enough.
For its part, the regulatory body for European nuclear safety has urged the Commission not to use language that could undermine public confidence, says the BBC's Chris Morris in Brussels...
(2 October 2012)
Nuclear fusion – your time has come
Jeff Forshaw, The Guardian
Every year, one typical coal-fired power station devours several million tonnes of fuel and produces even more carbon dioxide. Burning stuff has the virtue that it is simple but it is very brutal. That volume of carbon dioxide is damaging the atmosphere and, in the longer term, the fuel will run out. It is clear that the world needs an alternative to generating energy by setting fire to things.
For a good few years now, nuclear fusion has looked like offering a solution to the problem. For every 100 tonnes of coal we burn, fusion has the potential to deliver the same amount of energy, without any carbon dioxide emission, using a small bath of water and the lithium contained in a single laptop battery. Moreover, it would be inherently very safe and would not produce any significant radioactive waste. Lest there be any confusion, the science behind this way of harnessing the energy locked away inside the atomic nucleus is entirely different from that used in current nuclear fission reactors. It almost seems too good to be true … but it isn't.
A fusion reactor called Iter is currently under construction in France and is due to start operation in 2020. Its principal goal is to determine the viability of fusion at the scale of a power station. Success is widely anticipated and there are already plans afoot to build a "demonstration power plant" to start operating in the 2030s...
(16 September 2012)
So Far Unfruitful, Fusion Project Faces a Frugal Congress
William J. Broad, New York Times
For more than 50 years, physicists have been eager to achieve controlled fusion, an elusive goal that could potentially offer a boundless and inexpensive source of energy.
To do so, American scientists have built a giant laser, now the size of a football stadium, that takes target practice on specks of fuel smaller than peppercorns. The device has so far cost taxpayers more than $5 billion, making it one of the most expensive federally financed science projects ever. But so far, it has not worked.
Unfortunately, the due date is Sunday, the last day of the fiscal year. And Congress, which would need to allocate more money to keep the project alive, is going to want some explanations...
(29 September 2012)
Japan Minister Says Nationalization Needed to Phase Out Nuclear
Tsuyoshi Inajima, Bloomberg
Japan’s government should take control of nuclear power plants to achieve its goal of phasing out atomic power over the next three decades, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano wrote in a book published today.
It is “inevitable” the government will have to step in if nuclear operators cannot pay compensation costs in the event of an accident, Edano, 48, told reporters when asked about the nationalization proposal in his 240-page book. “It doesn’t make sense that private companies profit from nuclear power, while the government alone bears risk,” Edano said...
(28 September 2012)
Triple blow hits UK nuclear revival
David Thorpe, Energy & Environmental Management
The drop-out of bidders for nuclear operator Horizon, opposition from the one British community that might host buried nuclear waste, and a damning European report on existing plant safety, all provide new headaches for nuclear supporters...
(3 October 2012)