SONE Newsletter 290 – September/October 2023

Posted by Wade Allison on 28 September 2023 in Newsletters

Tagged with: AGM, Bret Kugelmass, Essay competition, House of Lords, Jubilee, Regulation, Renewables, Shipping.

This month

Editorial Note: There is no shortage of good news this month, and some that is not-so for those who trust sources of energy that carelessly stretch the bounds of credibility – or physics and engineering.
I hope that you enjoy this Newsletter. You should also be receiving papers for the upcoming AGM for Oct 16th. Most important are the arrangements for the House of Lords Celebration at 6.30 on Oct 27th – with the encouragement to apply in good time (see below).
With these and other deadlines imminent, the next Letter may be November by the time we get there. My apologies for that.

The Jubilee Essay Prize Competition

Announcement of the winners

The Sir Bernard Ingham Prize

An address by the UK Energy Secretary in 2098 by Harry Anders of High Wycombe, aged 34.

The Sir William McAlpine Prize

The New Atomic Age by Ruben Davies of East Finchley, aged 15.

The prizes of £1000 each will be presented by John Ingham and Lady Judy McAlpine at the AGM. The two winning essays are posted here:

At the AGM there will be a general discussion of our future with nuclear, chaired by Johnny Ball and inspired by the essays.
All who entered the Competition have been given a year’s membership of SONE and books. We hope to see them, both at the AGM on Oct 16th and at the House of Lords Celebration on Oct 27th.

Arrangements for House of Lords Celebration Oct 27th 6.30-8.30pm

Admission will be by invitation card and ID only. Members are reminded that if they wish to attend they should apply for a named card to John Assheton,, giving a postal address. Numbers are limited so we recommend early application. Other guests will be members of the Nuclear Industries Association and the Young Generation Network (YGN). This is an occasion, not just to look back over 25 years of SONE, but forward to the next 25 and 50 years with our younger guests – as the authors of our Prize Essays have invited us to do. There will be a number of short contributions from our host Lord Cunningham, Zion Lights, Tony Roulstone, a politician or two, and several SONE Committee Members, young and old. Refreshments too, if all goes to plan!

SONE talks to the public: “Science at the Shops” Oct 22nd

Members in range are invited to come and engage with the public at our stall entitled ‘Nuclear Energy: The sustainable option?’ This will be one of a number of such science stalls set up at Templars Square Shopping Centre, Pound Way, Cowley, OX4 3XH from 10 am to 4 pm on Sunday 22nd October. Do come if you can. Marie Zabell and I should be there.

Manpower, and womanpower too

The future of nuclear energy is all about people. The need worldwide is vast and will grow. “Employment in the UK nuclear industry has reached a 20-year high as new nuclear projects are developed, according to data from the Nuclear Industry Association’s annual Jobs Map. The UK’s civil nuclear sector now employs 77,413 people, a 20% year-on-year increase.”

This is a great opportunity for UK scientists and engineers. We also read that France is looking to develop the UK workforce.

France’s EDF has created EDF EPR Engineering UK - a 100% subsidiary of Edvance (itself a subsidiary of EDF and Framatome) - to strengthen its nuclear engineering presence in the UK and optimise its project performance. With almost 600 employees, EDF EPR Engineering UK incorporates teams already present in the UK, provided by the EDF Group – EDF SA, Framatome, Edvance and EDF Energy - and its partners.

Last Energy

There is no shortage of designs for new nuclear power plants. One that has not been mentioned before in these newsletters is Last Energy. Hailing from the US, it has ambitions in Poland and the UK. It was founded by Bret Kugelmass who also started the Titans Of Nuclear podcast series
Last Energy reactors are conventional and small 300C, hence low efficiency (20 MWe, 80MWth) with air cooling.

A podcast with Tom Nelson

A recent recording

Nuclear shipping news

There were two sessions on nuclear shipping at the London International Shipping Week on 14 Sept that I attended. The case for changing the maritime nuclear regulations was well supported by speakers from Lloyds, Corepower and several voices from the American Bureau of Shipping who were there to address the subject. While the regulation of land-based nuclear power is heavily influenced by short term electoral pressures, the maritime industry works on a 20-year time horizon, has its own deep pockets, and works largely out of the public view through the International Maritime Organisation, a branch of the UN.
By the 2050s the prospect of a holiday on a large nuclear-powered cruise ship may be seen as very attractive! With the opening up of new Arctic routes there will be new places to visit. Prospects should be good for the crew too In the meantime South Korean interests are entering the business. .

Reconsidering regulations

On the 25th September Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi opened the 67th International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference by saying that opinion polls show the “tide is turning” on public attitudes to nuclear energy, but countries “still need to engage stakeholders openly and proactively” in their nuclear power programmes.

Among other things that means reducing the absurd overhead of regulations that inflates costs and delay. The World Nuclear Association says
“A new joint report from World Nuclear Association, the Nuclear Energy Institute and the Canadian Nuclear Association proposes regulatory steps which can be taken to minimise the time and cost for large-scale deployment of a fleet of standardised reactor designs that are acceptable in multiple countries around the world.”

The weather gets worse for renewables

Two principles drive promoters of wind energy to seek more support.
The first is obvious: When the wind doesn’t blow, it cannot deliver any electrical energy. That produces no financial return.
The second is not far behind: When the wind does blow, it drives prices down. And with the growing number of wind farms and more wind, prices are driven negative. A negative financial return means somebody has to pay to dump the energy at intermittent unpredictable times

So the wind power industry runs to the public purse for more money!
In the USA the Danish wind firm Orsted is ready to pull out

This is on top of the news we reported in August:
Perhaps the wind industry should hang up their boots and reflect on the words of the renewable lament below….

The Renewable Rover:

“I’ve paid for renewables for many a year,
But the problems they pose are becoming quite clear,
Uncertain and fickle, expensive for sure,
And I never will pay for renewables no more.
So it’s no nay never, no nay never no more,
Will I pay for renewables, no never no more.

I went to a pub that I used to frequent,
And the landlord complained that he can’t pay the rent.
The tourists have gone and the visitors too,
‘Cos all the wind turbines are spoiling the view.
Refrain: So it’s no, nay, never…etc.

The days in December are cloudy and grey,
The Sun barely shows in an eight hour day,
Then why all this money we all have to pay,
To subsidise solar here in the UK?
Refrain: So it’s no, nay, never…etc.

I went to my boss to confess what I’ve done:
I’d relied far too much on the wind and the Sun.
He told me demand should be met hour by hour,
And for that we will need more reliable power.
Refrain: So it’s no, nay, never…etc”

[Said to be from the album “Fifty hurts, sixty Hertz more” by “The Three Phases.” Picked up on the internet.]

Too old? Nonsense!

Many members of SONE may see themselves as too old to help build the next generation of nuclear power stations. But they know that now is the time. What should they do?

Exercise their judgement based on a lifetime of experience!
Read, speak out and write, unbiased by a need for employment or personal gain!

Perhaps, send a brief opinion piece for the SONE Newsletter to!

George Bernard Shaw had the right idea – even if he had no relevant experience whatever!

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.
I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no “brief candle” for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright
and political activist 1856-1950
Wade Allison
26 September 2023