Australian news, and some related international items

”Green nuclear” is a FRAUD.

calling nuclear power green or sustainable is plain simple fraud on the world and an attempt to equate something that is as harmful as nuclear reactor with a solar power panel or a windmill.

The nuclear industry lobby says that the cost of running a nuclear power plant is minimal and that over a life-cycle nuclear power is competitive. However, this is false again as decommissioning of a nuclear power plant can be more expensive than building one and that too, leaving a great deal of doubt over how safely the nuclear waste has been stored and whether it would not leak into the ground water or contaminate the soil over the course of tens of thousands of years that the nuclear waste will be radioactive.

EU greenwashing nuclear power: Short sighted &  counterproductive  Extravagantly expensive, long gestation to mount & ever-present aftereffects. Media India, February 21, 2022By Ranvir Nayar /  New Delhi  In its rush to meet the carbon emission targets, European Union has adopted a highly controversial approach of wholehearted backing for nuclear power and the European Commission’s move to give green tag to nuclear power sets a wrong & dangerous precedent.

After nearly half a century of being home to the world’s most high profile anti-nuclear movement, it is fashionable to be nuclear in Europe again. From Heads of States to the bureaucrats sitting in Brussels, everyone seems to have new-found love for nuclear power.

Last week, French President announced that the French nuclear power giant EDF will build six new nuclear power plants at a cost of over EUR 52 billion, with the options for eight more. This decision marks the biggest investment plans in any European country for the nuclear power production in several decades.

The announcement came days after the European Commission announced new draft rules for certifying energy sources as per their carbon emissions in order to facilitate its transition to carbon-neutral future. Under the provisional rules, the EC has given a green label for nuclear and gas power plants. It sets out the criteria for classifying investments in nuclear or gas-fired power plants for electricity generation as ‘sustainable’, with the aim of directing ‘green finance’ with lower costs for the borrowers, towards activities that contribute to reducing greenhouse gases.

The third bit of news from the nuclear domain in the recent weeks was that Electricité de France (EDF), one of the biggest nuclear power producers in the world, was struggling to stay afloat. The firm had announced yet another delay in commissioning of its much-hyped and extremely controversial EPR, the so-called new generation of nuclear reactors that it has been trying to build at Flamanville in France, besides a couple of other sites in other countries. EDF said now the plant would be ready only in 2023 and the cost would go yet again up to EUR 12.7 billion.

Barely had the stock markets digested this bit of bad, but not entirely unexpected news, since EPR has proven to be the bete noire of EDF ever since it was conceived over a decade ago, than the French government announced that EDF ought to cut its electricity price down to the same level as rivals in the French market. This news sent EDF stock plunging by 20 pc.

This led the French government, which holds 84 pc equity in the troubled giant, to lend a big helping hand and last week, EDF unveiled a plan for injection of EUR 2.5 billion of fresh capital in order to avoid bankruptcy. The French government will provide EUR 2.1 billion for the same. In addition, to stay afloat, EDF will also sell about EUR 3 billion in various assets to raise cash for operations.

The recapitalisation is demonstration of a strong support by the French government to the nuclear powerhouse that has been struggling for survival over the past few years as it has overshot the cost and timelines of its projects.

But even with recapitalisation, 2022 will be especially difficult for EDF as it has to tackle corrosion issues in numerous reactors and with its debt already touching the skies at EUR 43 billion, EDF has to make heavy investments in new reactors as well as maintenance of its remaining ones. The problem of maintenance reflects in its forecast for power production this year as EDF has cut its estimates by nearly 15 pc.

Nuclear Power is anything but green 

The EDF saga is one of the many very good reasons why the EU erred in putting nuclear power in its green energy, even if provisionally. This has been opposed by several EU members, notably Germany and Austria, which have both forsaken nuclear power. The anti-nuclear lobby in the EU was also horrified by the manner in which the EU had handled the issue. It was on the eve of the New Year that the European Commission tried to slip in a major modification in how various power sources are labelled, by according the green investment tag to nuclear power.

If officials in Brussels had hoped that the media and others would be busy welcoming 2022 and hence its trick would get little attention, within hours they were proven wrong as the new government in Germany as well as numerous environmental groups rebuked the EC’s tag and asked for a withdrawal.

The EC’s tag had been in the offing for a while, especially as the European Union as well as rest of the world, struggles to meet the ambitious levels of cut in carbon emissions needed in order to achieve their targets under the Paris Agreement.

Not surprisingly, driving the move towards green tag for nuclear power is France, which is not only the biggest user of the power source, but also began its 6-month rotating presidency of the EU on January 1, 2022. However, French and EC officials ought to have realised that such a controversial move could not just be slipped in, especially as it came days after a new government in Germany, which for the first time has the Green Party as a major partner and which had actively campaigned for a total phase out of nuclear power in the country.

Continue reading

February 21, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

National Parks are for protection not development – new national poll

National Parks are for protection not development – new national poll

New national polling confirms that the vast majority of Australians do not want to see prime protected areas like National Parks compromised by commercial or large-scale development. Research undertaken by National Parks Australia Council, a coalition of state-based conservation groups, shows just how protective Australians are of our national parks and reserves.

February 21, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Antarctica and Greenland’s polar ice shelves are melting from below

Antarctica and Greenland’s polar ice shelves are melting from below

The largest ice masses on the planet contain so much water that they’re increasing sea levels around the globe as temperatures rise. Satellites can see these drastic changes from space.

February 21, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cannon-Brookes’ unstoppable billions pierce the bubble of fossil fuel denial — RenewEconomy

Bid by Cannon-Brookes and Brookfield for AGL is an assault on the citadel itself, from the inside out, and we should all be cheering from the sidelines. The post Cannon-Brookes’ unstoppable billions pierce the bubble of fossil fuel denial appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Cannon-Brookes’ unstoppable billions pierce the bubble of fossil fuel denial — RenewEconomy

February 21, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cannon-Brookes: We have $20 billion to push net zero by 2035 — RenewEconomy

Updated: Cannon-Brookes says grid can reach net zero by 2035, and Australia should have cheapest power prices in world thanks to wind and solar. The post Cannon-Brookes: We have $20 billion to push net zero by 2035 appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Cannon-Brookes: We have $20 billion to push net zero by 2035 — RenewEconomy

February 21, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

AGL rejects Cannon-Brookes early closure bid, insists it can reinvent itself — RenewEconomy

Australia’s biggest coal generator AGL rejects tech billionaire’s bid as too low, insists it can “continue to reinvent itself.” Cannon-Brookes responds. The post AGL rejects Cannon-Brookes early closure bid, insists it can reinvent itself appeared first on RenewEconomy.

AGL rejects Cannon-Brookes early closure bid, insists it can reinvent itself — RenewEconomy

February 21, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Captured by climate propaganda — Beyond Nuclear International

Sunrise Movement should sunset any support for nuclear power

Captured by climate propaganda — Beyond Nuclear International

February 21, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Time is running out — Beyond Nuclear International

New radioactive mud dump threat looms

Time is running out — Beyond Nuclear International

February 21, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

February 21 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion:  ¶ “Fab Labs Or Gigafactories? Or Both?” • Does everything need to be produced in a gigafactory? What is the place for a fab lab or microfactory? In a recent book, Dr Paul Wildman makes the argument for cosmolocalisation – global design produced locally in fab labs, where peer works with peer for the […]

February 21 Energy News — geoharvey

February 21, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger a Nuclear Catastrophe – Tilman Ruff

The Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger a Nuclear Catastrophe, By Tilman Ruff 21 Feb 22,

  There are two potential nuclear dimensions to a war in Ukraine, which could create a massive humanitarian disaster and have profound global implications.

In the first week of February, US officials estimated that if war using conventional weapons broke out, 25,000 to 50,000 civilians could die in Ukraine, along with 5,000 to 25,000 Ukrainian and 3,000 to 10,000 Russian soldiers, and that between 1 and 5 million people would flee their homes and become refugees.

The toll could be much greater, especially if the conflict spread to neighbouring countries and NATO forces became embroiled. As Max Fisher wrote in the New York Times on 15 Feb: “threats and bluffs work best when they are backed up by action, increasing the risk of a war that neither side may truly want”, and “the more both sides try to make their threats credible, for example by relocating troops, the more they heighten the risk of a miscalculation that could careen out of control. He quotes Columbia University international relations scholar Dr. Keren Yarhi-Milo: “Every day that we’re not resolving it, we are increasing the percentage chance that something will go wrong”.

Conventional wars can be horrific enough. There must scarcely be a family in Russia or Ukraine without a relative among the close to 14 million Russians or 7 million Ukrainians who died during World War II, and Ukraine has been scarred by repeated invasions from both east and west. Modern weapons have greater destructiveness, range, accuracy while military spending has continued to increase to record levels even through the COVID-19 pandemic, to a staggering USD1981 billion in 2020. NATO members account for 56%, the US alone for 39%, and Russia for 3.1% of the global total.

 Eruption of armed conflict in Ukraine risks involving not only Ukraine and Russia (and Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine it has occupied), but neighbouring countries where Russian forces are stationed – Belarus and Modova, and many of NATO’s 30 members in Europe and across the Atlantic, notably the US, with forces stationed in many other NATO countries.

However a war in Ukraine could have two potentially devastating nuclear dimensions.

 Nuclear power plants as potential ‘dirty’ bombs

Nuclear power plants are huge potential pre-positioned radiological weapons.

Ukraine, site of the world’s worst ever civilian nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, has 15 operating nuclear power reactors, in 4 nuclear plants in different parts of the country. The largest is Zaporozhye, in Enerhodar in the southeast of the country. It lies on the east (towards Russia) side of the Dniepr River, 330km west of the city of Donetsk and 200 km from the border of the Donetsk region, part of which has been taken over by Russian/Russian-backed forces. The site has 6 nuclear reactors of 950 Mw each, producing about a quarter of Ukraine’s electricity. It is the second largest nuclear power plant in Europe and one of the 10 largest in the world.

Like most nuclear power plants, highly radioactive and hot used reactor fuel is onsite in cooling ponds, as the fuel needs to be actively cooled for several years, before being put in dry assemblies, which are also on site. As reactor fuel becomes more radioactive the longer it is inside a reactor, cooling ponds often contain more radioactivity in the spent fuel than the reactors themselves do, but are housed in simple buildings without the multiple engineered layers of containment reactors typically have. As we saw in the Fukushima nuclear disaster, reactor meltdowns and explosions releasing vast amounts of radioactivity do not require a high level military assault breaching reactor cores. They can happen simply from disruption to the constant power and circulating water system required to keep reactors and spent fuels pools cool.  At the Fukushima Daiichi site at the time of the disaster, 70% of all the radioactivity on site was in the spent fuel pools.

Nobel laureate physicist Prof Joseph Rotblat described in his landmark 1981 study “Nuclear radiation in warfare” that precision-guided bombardment or a commando raid with conventional weapons could rupture a reactor’s containment and pressure vessel, but that very serious radiological consequences could ensue even without rupture of the pressure vessel if the reactor cooling system were put out of action. He stated that: “In a pressurized water reactor [all Ukraine’s operating power reactors are of this type] the melt-down of the core could occur within less than one minute after the loss of coolant”.

War in Ukraine could turn nuclear if any of its nuclear power reactors and/or spent reactor fuel cooling ponds were damaged sufficiently to cause loss of coolant meltdown and/or explosion. The Russian-made Buk missile which brought down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine in 2014, killing all 298 people on board, appears to have been launched by Russian-backed separatists. A nuclear power plant may be an attractive high-impact target, including for proxy groups who may not be under direct military control but have access to high level weaponry.

Russia is one of the growing number of states actively engaged in cyberwarfare. Nuclear power plants and other nuclear facilities have repeatedly been targets of cyberattack, including infamously the  Stuxnet computer virus targetted by Israel and the US to disrupt Iran’s uranium enrichment centrifuges in 2009.

Rotblat also described how the radioactive fallout from a damaged reactor, and even more so from an explosion in a spent fuel pool, could release more and longer-lived radioactivity than detonation of a nuclear bomb.

Thus nuclear power plants are effectively huge pre-positioned potential radiological weapons.

War turning nuclear

 If fighting erupted in Ukraine, it would almost certainly begin with conventional weapons. Many of these have sufficient accuracy, range and destructiveness to put targets that are of high military value to Ukraine, Russia and NATO members at risk, even far from any frontline – like military and air bases; intelligence, command and logistical centres. Both Russian and NATO/US military doctrines allow first use of nuclear weapons in situations where the prospect of military defeat looms

Russia has 1600 deployed strategic nuclear weapons, and 1912 tactical nuclear weapons. Most of the delivery systems for the latter can carry either conventional or nuclear warheads, increasing the risk of worst-case thinking and precipitous and over reaction on the other side, and the danger of the threshold to nuclear escalation being crossed.

The  US has 1650 deployed strategic nuclear weapons, and 100 B-61 nuclear bombs deployed to bases in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Turkey for delivery by aircraft of those nations.

in addition,  France has 280 deployed nuclear weapons, and the  UK 120 deployed nuclear weapons.

If the threshold of use of nuclear weapons is crossed, those who have managed nuclear weapons and nuclear war plans tell us the risks or rapid and large-scale escalation are very high. The current Ukraine crisis involves not only complicated history, politics and personalities, but hundreds of senior officials; many thousands of civilian and military officials and advisors; multiple enormous complex and dispersed command, control and communications systems; a web of often unconnected communications across many time zones and languages; and through Russia and NATO involves the 4 nations that possess all the world’s 3750  currently deployed nuclear weapons, including all the 2000 nuclear weapons on high alert, ready to be launched on short notice (counted in minutes).

There is a lot that can go wrong.

Diplomacy to remove the danger of nuclear escalation is desperately urgent and needs to progress to negotiations among all nuclear armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals under strict verification and timelines. Otherwise it will be a matter of time before our luck finally runs out.

Tilman Ruff Tilman Ruff AO is Co-President of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (Nobel Peace Prize 1985); and co-founder and founding international and Australian Chair of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, the first to an entity born in Australia.

February 21, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Public Opposition to Nuclear Power

Public Opposition to Nuclear Power. February 19, 2022

Nuclear power is not popular with the public in most countries. After the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011, a global Ipsos survey put global public opposition at 62% averaged out, with it being much higher in some countries e.g. 79% in Germany.  94% voted against it in a referendum in Italy in the wake of Fukushima. 

While opposition remain strong in most places around the world, with concerns about climate change rising, there have been some shifts in view in some countries, for example, in the USA , at least according to a survey by Bisconti. But even in countries that are relatively pro-nuclear, public support for it is not that strong. For example, it was reportedly at 38% in 2021 in the UK, compared to 79% support level for renewables, with just 2% opposed to them. 

Though its strength may have varied over time, opposition to civil nuclear power has been a world-wide phenomenon attracting people in many countries. To some extent, it grew out of opposition to nuclear weapons, a grass roots response which expanded significantly in the 1960s in Europe in particular, and continued at varying levels right up to the end of the cold war in the late 1990s, and indeed exists still, as does the threat of nuclear war.  

Opposition specifically to civil nuclear power emerged in the early 1970s, but, although it drew on some of the same roots as opposition to atomic weapons, it took on its own character and dynamic. In particular, it reflected increasing generational conflicts and the rise of an ‘alternativist’ anti-establishment counter culture amongst young people in the West. It also reflected growing environmental concerns, and support for alternative energy, as indicted by the ubiquitous ‘smiling sun’ graphic part of ‘Nuclear Power? No thanks!’ campaign button that had originated in Denmark in 1975. 

Although at times quite militant, there was a preference, shared with the anti-bomb movement, for non-violent direct action/passive resistance. For example, in the USA, in the 1970’s there were mass peaceful demonstrations at nuclear sites, with, in May 1977 a 2,500 strong citizens ‘sit down’ occupation of the site of the proposed reactor at Seabrook in New Hampshire, leading to 1,400 people being arrested and detained. The late 1970s also saw some of the largest demonstrations against nuclear power in the UK, at the proposed site of the Torness nuclear power station in Scotland, with 5,000 demonstrating in 1978 and up to 10,000 the following year. 

Although at times quite militant, there was a preference, shared with the anti-bomb movement, for non-violent direct action/passive resistance. For example, in the USA, in the 1970’s there were mass peaceful demonstrations at nuclear sites, with, in May 1977 a 2,500 strong citizens ‘sit down’ occupation of the site of the proposed reactor at Seabrook in New Hampshire, leading to 1,400 people being arrested and detained. The late 1970s also saw some of the largest demonstrations against nuclear power in the UK, at the proposed site of the Torness nuclear power station in Scotland, with 5,000 demonstrating in 1978 and up to 10,000 the following year. 

However, that was avoided. Indeed, nuclear opposition, locally and globally, was subsequently renewed, reinforced and widened, with many new participants becoming involved, by nuclear accidents like that at Three Mile Island in the USA in 1979, Chernobyl in the Ukraine in 1986 and Fukushima in Japan in 2011. The industry certainly faced set back after each of these events, with public opposition increasing. For example, following the Three Mile Island accident, an anti-nuclear protest was held in New York City, involving 200,000 people; Chernobyl led to protests around the world, including up to 200,000 opposing Italy’s nuclear plans; and directly after Fukushima, 60,000 people marched in opposition to nuclear in central Tokyo and again, in 2012, 75,000 people joined a march, this in a country where public displays of dissention on any issue were rare.

Following Fukushima, opposition to nuclear spread across Asia. For example, 130,000 people took to the streets in Taiwan in March 2014 calling for a nuclear phase out. Strong local opposition also emerged in South Korea and Thailand and continued in India. From often being easily dismissed as a fringe, marginal movement, opposition to nuclear power was now wide spread, attracting large majorities (80% and above in polls) in many countries.

Looking back over the whole period, it has to be said that few proposed plants have been halted by direct action/protest campaigns, although they have arguably contributed to a change in political climate, for example in Germany & Spain, but then so did the accidents, e.g. in Asia, following the Fukushima plants spectacular demise. There has been a lot of scholarly research on what mobilises people to act on nuclear issues, much of it done after Fukushima, which clearly had a big impact.

However, so has economics. The progressively poor economics of nuclear has probably been the main reason why nuclear has been in decline in many places. Though there can be two-way interactions between political opposition, with for example linked public demands for improved safety, and the economics of nuclear power. Looking ahead, it may be that the increasingly poor economics and the slow delivery potential of nuclear power compared to renewables, which are clearly progressing, will now move even more people to an anti-nuclear/pro renewables position, including those who see climate change as needing an urgent response. And that may constrain nuclear further. 

The Bottom line 

Nuclear is not doing well. In the US, given the increasingly competitive alternatives, old nuclear plant closures continue, although some plants may be kept open for a while with subsidies (see my last post), and one new one is being built. Some small new plants may also be tested. But otherwise, nuclear is, in effect, phasing itself out there. In Asia, although Japan has restarted a few reactors, no new ones are planned. China is expanding renewables very dramatically, and although it, and India, are also continuing with nuclear expansion programmes, they are relatively small compared with their renewable programmes. Meanwhile, South Korea has continued with its nuclear phase out by 2030 policy. 

In Europe, the UK, France and Finland, as well as some Eastern European countries, still  back nuclear, but in addition to the well-known case of Germany, with its last plant scheduled to close by the end of the year, nuclear phase out commitments have also been made in Belgium, Spain, and Switzerland. As noted earlier, after Fukushima, Italy also voted overwhelmingly in a referendum not to go nuclear, a position already adopted by Denmark, Austria, Ireland, Greece and Portugal.  

All of which makes the recent statement from the pro-nuclear group Human Progress inaccurate as well as appalling: ‘Whereas a few months ago European Union bureaucrats drawing up the “taxonomy” that defines which energy sources would be considered carbon-free (i.e. valid substitutes for fossil fuels) excluded nuclear power, now nearly all except the fanatical Germanic states have reversed themselves. Indeed, the map of pro- and anti-nuclear Euro¬pean countries now closely resembles a map of World War II circa March 1945, shortly before the taking of the Ludendorff Bridge broke the last line of organised resistance in the Reich’. 

Well, it is usually the left that is chastised for playing the ideology card! See my next post…

February 21, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear fusion is an expensive delusion

Nuclear fusion is an expensive delusion – so of course this government
is right behind it. It’s time to redirect the billions being squandered
in fusion energy and invest in solutions to the climate crisis that
actually work.

Last week, there were headlines (again) about a “major
breakthrough” in the search for unlimited, cheap, carbon-free electricity
from nuclear fusion reactors. Breathless announcements suggested that the
UK’s 38-year-old JET Fusion programme had finally produced 11 megawatts
of heat energy for five seconds.

To the average person on the street that
sounded impressive. But it equates to the energy needed to boil a measly 60
kettles. Even more unimpressive, but a crucially important question that
the headlines missed, was: how much energy had to be put into the Jet
machine to get these 11 megawatts (MW) out?

So we decided to ask the UK Atomic Energy Agency (UK AEA), whose sole mission is to research and
produce a working fusion electricity plant and who carried out last
week’s experiment. The sad truth is that they admitted that they actually
had to put 40 MW of heat into the plasma to produce 11 MW of sustained
fusion heat for five seconds.

They added: “It is no secret JET uses a lot
of energy. It was designed in the 1970s with copper magnets and will soon
pass the baton to more energy-efficient experiments. After literally a
hundred years of research, since Arthur Eddington first postulated that
nuclear fusion could be the stellar energy source, and untold billions of
pounds invested by various governments ever since to try and replicate the
creation of a mini star on earth, we still cannot produce a single net kWh
of energy.

The fusion “industry” is always promising us unlimited clean
energy in two to three decades time, but the cruel truth is that despite
yet another annual flurry of “breakthrough” headlines, the fusion Holy
Grail remains as illusory as the Grail itself. Despite all these wasted
billions, Boris Johnson’s government, as part of its supposed “10 Point
Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution”, stated: “Our ambition is to be
the first country to commercialise fusion energy, enabling low carbon and
continuous power generation.” It pledged another £222m for the spherical
tokamak programme which “aims” to build the world’s first
commercially viable fusion power plant by 2040, and another £184m to help
found a global hub for fusion innovation in the UK. But in response to an
excited BBC interviewer asking a fusion spokesperson when she might be able
to boil her kettle with fusion energy, they said possibly in the 2050s.

 Independent 19th Feb 2022

February 21, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Reality check: The green inflation myth

Reality check: The green inflation myth

Kingsmill Bond et al

The latest myth of the energy transition is that green technologies are driving inflation because they are expensive and rising in price. The reality is in fact the opposite. The faster the world deploys renewables, the more money we will save in energy costs.

February 21, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fresh pressure on Japan to reverse Fukushima discharge plan — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

Gustavo Caruso (front), director and coordinator of the IAEA’s nuclear safety and security department, meets with officials from Tokyo Electric Power Company in Tokyo on Monday. February 17, 2022 Japan’s proposal to release contaminated water from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the ocean was condemned again as a team from the International […]

Fresh pressure on Japan to reverse Fukushima discharge plan — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

February 21, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment