SONE Newsletters


Newsletters for SONE members

SONE Newsletter 268 - August 2021

UK Government policy — Raw materials and raw principles — Another big lithium ion battery fire — Resilience, the question people need to ask — The jury — Hydroelectricity and climate change.


SONE Newsletter 267 – July 2021

Natural Science and ignorance by Carl Sagan — High temperature reactors: a comment and a reply — The Nuclear Institute — The danger and inadequacy of lithium storage batteries — From the Dalton Nuclear Institute, Manchester.


SONE Newsletter 266 – June 2021

SONE website rebuilt — News from ‘Penultimate Power’ (UK) Ltd — Nuclear and NetZero — Glasgow declined! — You don’t have to be a scientist to trust nuclear energy — ‘Core Power’ at SONE AGM.


SONE Newsletter 265 – May 2021

How to get the nuclear message through to people. What is successful on social media, for instance? Here are some examples that did better than most. — A word from Bill Gates. — The Windjammers, a fanciful story for our time. — Core Power, less fanciful nuclear news for shipping.


SONE Newsletter 264 – April 2021

EU ruling on ‘taxonomy’. — Losses and hopes in the USA. — Hualong One and Two. — ‘Energy and Life with NetZero: Lessons from Covid-19’. — ‘Shorting the Grid’ by Meredith Angwin.


SONE Newsletter 263 – March 2021

SONE at COP26, Glasgow, 1-12 November 2021. — Oh, not the story of Renewables again! — The decline of the nuclear fleet. — Burial sites for wind turbines. — Discussing climate change with doubters. — The case for nuclear power in Japan and South Korea.


February Newsletter No262

Wise words from SONE’s Patron, James Lovelock. He may be right in saying that, after giving up fossil fuels, the world will go on messing about with renewables before giving them up for nuclear. But is there enough time? Also, Fukushima: a tragedy of misunderstanding ten years on


January Newsletter No261

This month the world turned upside down and as a result this Newsletter is late. A poor excuse, perhaps, but I hope that Members will find the items below stimulating and in some cases encouraging. Of course the choice is personal, but includes important points of view not readily found elsewhere.


December Newsletter No260

A very Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year to all SONE members and their families Wise words from Professor Sarah Gilbert, developer of the Oxford/Astra­Zeneca Vaccine, echoing the sound advice of Marie Curie, long ago... “Don’t dismiss science, because science does so much for us.If you feel uneasy about science, go and understand the science. Go and find out what’s going on”.


November Newsletter No259

The good news – Sizewell C. “Boris Johnson is close to giving Sizewell nuclear power plant in Suffolk the go-ahead” we were told on November 5th. Sizewell C will provide 3.2 GW of electricity for 60 to 80 years – and 5.8 GW of waste heat in addition.


October Newsletter No258

We will not be able to hold the AGM in person at the Institute of Civil Engineers as we had hoped. Nevertheless, the Meeting will go ahead on 26 October at 2pm, but in a different form. It will be in two parts, both online and open to Members. In a lighter vein, Marie Zabell has drawn a cartoon strip about the differing effects of nuclear and renewables on Nature.


August Newsletter No257

Last month Neville Chamberlain wrote to the Prime Minister, as reported in Newsletter 256. The reply that came back from the Ministry repeats what is already in the public sphere. — Nuclear Phobia was born 75 years ago this month.


July Newsletter No256

Everybody is waiting for the Government to announce its energy policy. Whether it is the Government or the Civil Service that is in disarray, it is clear that feet are being dragged and that plans for a viable energy future are still gathering dust in Whitehall. A letter to the Prime Minister. A comment on Solar Panels. Nuclear radiation is not like a virus.


June Newsletter No255

The cacophony that currently fills the news columns obstructs rational communication. The noise is almost exclusively on the subject of COVID-19 and health, of course. It makes spreading sensible discussion on the need for nuclear energy that much harder. Improving the ratio of signal to noise requires getting the message signal right – but understanding how the noise is received, too.


May Newsletter No254

At last! Admittedly dwelling on emotion rather than evidence, a full-length video, “Planet of the Humans”, made by environmentalists, that condemns “Renewables” for the confidence trick that they are.


April Newsletter No253

What was once the National Nuclear Corporation (NNC), based in Knutsford and which might be regarded as the last UK specialist nuclear engineering organisation, is now in US ownership, having been bought by Jacobs Engineering for a reported £250million.


February Newsletter No252

On 8 January at the suggestion of SONE member, Malcolm Savidge, the Cirencester Science and Technology Society hosted a lecture on “Nature, Nuclear Energy and Life”. On 25 January SONE members attended an open “Stargazing” event hosted by the Oxford Physics Department.


January Newsletter No251

Some cuttings from the daily press by James Lovelock and Sir Bernard Ingham. “A Message for Society from Science” published in Oxford at the end of 2019 by Wade Allison. News of bizarre political decisions that will lead to self-harm by EU. A discussion on synthetic fuels with Christopher Cockcroft.


December Newsletter No250

All General Election candidates have received an open letter organised by the Nuclear Industry Association and signed by many familiar names. You can read it by clicking here.  Though it reads well, it lets the “renewables” off too lightly, I argue.


November Newsletter No249

It had been our intention to issue a Press Release at the time of the Annual General Meeting, urging the Government to increase investment in nuclear power.


September Newsletter No248

It’s twenty years since SONE was formed to promote civil nuclear power in the UK. It is time to review how the UK has fared during that time in its commitment to nuclear energy.


July Newsletter No247

26th July 2019 is the 100th Birthday of James Lovelock CH CBE FRS, Patron of SONE, Lovelock is the doyen of the broad scientific study of the environment and its future including the part that nuclear energy should play. In the 1970s he developed the Gaia Theory, a description of the two-way dynamic relationship between life and its environment.


June Newsletter No246

The website for the Moltex Molten Salt Reactor is offering an investment opportunity open during May and June. I understand that this offer is well subscribed and any SONE member who is interested may have to act quickly to avoid disappointment. (This is not a recommendation, but SONE will alert members whenever such a new opportunity to support nuclear energy initiatives in the UK comes to our attention.)


May Newsletter No245

A resolution to cease carbon emissions, as passed by Parliament with great fanfare, achieves nothing unless a thought-out plan follows. The solution should come from advances in science and technology, everyone supposes. These two, science and technology, get conflated by commentators who would benefit from studying the difference.


April Newsletter No244

A Good News Month – mostly There have been a few seminal moments in industrial history when a whole new vision of the future appeare. I think of Brunel’s Great Britain, Stephenson’s Rocket and the repeal of the Red Flag Act in 1896 when a new more realistic idea of safety on the roads allowed an avalanche of new development to begin.


March Newsletter No243

Energy, life and the environment renewables, fossil fuel and nuclear. To most creatures energy means food and warmth. Squirrels may hedge against changing conditions by simply hoarding nuts, but early humans expanded their interest in energy as they learnt to use fire, power mills and sail ships.


February Newsletter No242

Notices: You can help spread information about the benefits of nuclear energy by asking for a talk. Any audience: educational, political or general interest. Email the secretary to fix an occasion.


January Newsletter No241

A time to look forward – the future for nuclear. We live in exciting times, and I mean that in a positive sense. The benefit of new nuclear is evident from the large plants now coming online in China. The future for the UK is fraught with major financial and political hurdles but the investment has to be made if the UK is to thrive.


December Newsletter No240

The future prospects for successful energy production are crystal clear, unlike other matters that face nations today. The only feasible solution is nuclear deployed on a grand scale, although there is a healthily wide choice of actual designs to choose from.


November Newsletter No239

Alan Woods described the ideas behind the 440 MWe small reactor that the consortium lead by Rolls Royce has proposed to the UK Government. Unlike many of the other designs that are jostling for attention and support around the world, including the UK, it is based on standard PWR (Pressurised Water Reactor) technology with standard fuel.


October Newsletter No238

The drought this summer has kept the issue of global warming and carbon emissions in the public eye.


August Newsletter No237

Though unseen by most people these are responsible for a significant fraction of the world’s emissions of CO2, oxides of nitrogen and sulphur.


July Newsletter No236

China General Nuclear Power Group and EDF Group have today announced that unit 1 of the Taishan nuclear power plant has been connected to the grid, becoming the world’s first EPR to achieve grid connection and power generation.


June Newsletter No235

Rehabilitating Nuclear Power. Energy needs to be affordable, secure and reliable.


May Newsletter No234

Let us give thanks that the “Blast from the West” is slowly evicting the “Beast from the East” from these shores. George Inglis CBE – a short obituary.


April Newsletter No233

Sir William McAlpine, Bt - a short obituary. Small modular reactors by Neville Chamberlain.


March Newsletter No232

Decarbonizing Cities: Helsinki Metropolitan Area by Rauli Partanen.


February Newsletter No231

A summary of UK nuclear power reactors. To know, or not to know: the nuclear question.


January Newsletter No230

The year 2017 has seen some real progress in plans to build new nuclear power stations in the UK. That this progress has been slow is the fault of finance, regulation and public opinion.


November Newsletter No229

An international view of nuclear energy issues for 2018 by Dan Yurman.


October Newsletter No228

Minutes of AGM, Oct 2017. Plans for SONE's future.


September Newsletter No227

How much choice do we have?


August Newsletter No226

A new treasurer needed for a new era. UK government talks on SMRs.


July Newsletter No225

A manifesto of ideas for the future of SONE.


May Newsletter No224

ALL QUIET ON THE WESTMINSTER FRONT The nation’s politicians had lots to say about lots of things, including each other, as the General Election campaigns got under way this month but there was hardly a word about nuclear energy. The need for a nuclear new build programme and ...


April Newsletter No223

WHERE WILL IT ALL END? Just as it seemed that things were going reasonably well for new build nuclear energy projects in the UK the Prime Minister called a snap general election and that put discussion on much needed investment by the State in nuclear power on ...


March Newsletter No222

THINKING AHEAD. This is a Newsletter with a difference. In part it is concerned with the future of SONE itself rather than the future of nuclear energy or a particular form of it. However, it also describes discussions we have been having with another organisation which supports nuclear.


February Newsletter No221

WE TOLD YOU SO. Around the time of last year’s annual meeting, some four months ago, a SONE committee member, Gerald Clark, made what was regarded by some (but not me) as an outrageous suggestion. He argued that the UK Government should consider investing directly in the nuclear industry.


January Newsletter No220

SMRs GET A BOOST AS HINKLEY FACES A CHALLENGE. This month has been notable for the considerable boost given to the development of the small modular reactor (SMR). Much of this has come from positive announcements in the United States and the United Kingdom...


December Newsletter No219

Welcome evidence that the Government is pressing ahead with plans to help secure a nuclear renaissance in the UK came this month with the announcement of a £20 million spend on the first phase of a new nuclear research and innovation programme.


October Newsletter No217

ANNUAL REPORT FOR THE YEAR 2015-2016. The central theme of this year’s annual general meeting in London this month is best described by Tony Blair’s pre-election rallying cry from 15 years ago: “Our top priority was, is and always will be education, education, education”.


September Newsletter No216

The Hinkley C project has finally been approved by the UK Government. Now the real work starts. The Sunday Telegraph’s take on the decision was encouraging. “Hinkley fires up Britain’s nuclear Ambitions” it said when the Government announcement was made.


August Newsletter No215

The expression “waiting with bated breath” has two meanings – someone anticipating something attractive happening in the near future and someone fearing the worst. Either of them could apply to the situation we find ourselves in as we wait to hear what Theresa May has decided.


July Newsletter No214

Within hours of this month’s announcement that the EDF Board had given the go ahead for investment in the £18 billion Hinkley Point C power station project in Somerset the UK Government announced that it needed more time to consider the scheme.


June Newsletter No212

The considerable political and economic uncertainties caused by the European Brexit referendum result mean that the UK nuclear energy industry is in for a turbulent time, no matter how hard those responsible for the country’s new build reactor programme try to play down the significance.


May Newsletter No212

Selling the crown jewels is a term used to describe the action of companies selling off key assets to friendly third parties or spinning them off into separate entities as a defence against unwelcome takeover bids.


April Newsletter No211

A FARCE WORTHY OF FEYDEAU Politicians at daggers drawn. A furious French President banging heads together. A major nuclear power station building project thrown into doubt. A “flamboyant” executive in denial, insisting that all will come right in the end.. Rebellious workers warning their bosses that they could ...


March Newsletter No210

Sellafield’s other legacies. We might not have a United Kingdom or be preparing to vote on whether to stay in the European Community if it was not for the Sellafield nuclear site in West Cumbria.


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February Newsletter No209

First, the good news. EDF is extending the lifetime of the reactors at four of its nuclear power stations in the UK. Now for the bad news. EDF has still not taken a final investment decision on the £18 billion Hinkley Point C project.


December Newsletter No207

The Paris climate change talks ended in an agreement (of sorts). The UK Government approved exploratory drilling at potential shale gas sites beneath national parks. A challenging new book was published, one which should be read by everyone with an interest in nuclear energy.


November Newsletter No206

Britain has the makings of a credible energy policy at last, one which acknowledges the key role which nuclear energy must play, alongside natural gas, at the centre of the UK’s electricity generation system. Expenditure on energy research is to be doubled, with a major commitment to SMRs.


October Newsletter No205

Annual report for the year 2014-2015. Small could be big for Britain. The next big thing for the UK’s nuclear energy industry and its suppliers could well be small – small modular reactors (SMRs) to be precise.


September Newsletter No204

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, world-wide nuclear generating capacity is set to expand over coming decades. The notable exception is Western Europe, where it is expected to decline. That can be attributed largely to Germany’s decision to abandon nuclear energy.


August Newsletter No203

SQUEAKY BUM TIME Twelve years ago Sir Alex Ferguson, then Manager of Manchester United, coined a somewhat earthy expression, one which reappears near the end of every football season. Sir Alex said it was “squeaky bum time” for those managing clubs at the top and bottom of the ...


July Newsletter No202

Nine months ago the European Commission approved the Hinkley Point C State aid case and in my November 2014 Newsletter – my first – I welcomed the decision. I thought it was time to get behind the EDF proposal.


June Newsletter No201

Three years ago the award-winning, innovative and much admired Sellafield Visitors Centre was shut down – damned as unnecessary and a drain on the taxpayer by the Government-owned site operator, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).


May Newsletter No200

LEARNING EXPENSIVE LESSONS Two significant reports have been released in recent weeks detailing the technical progress which has been made in dealing with the aftermath of the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear reactor accidents. In both cases, progress has been substantial. Politically, however, the two events continue to have ...


April Newsletter No199

LIVING WITH THE LEGACY Nuclear waste storage and disposal in the UK is back in the news – and for once the news is good. Firstly, Parliament approved a change in the law which will make it easier to explore potential sites for an underground radioactive waste depository.


March Newsletter No198

YOU KNOW IT MAKES SENSE (POSSIBLY) Del Boy Trotter, in the television comedy series Only Fools and Horses, regularly insists that “you know it makes sense” when trying to press home the case for something he’s not too sure about.


February Newsletter No197

A CLIMATE CHANGE COMPROMISE This month has seen several important political initiatives – and one which seemed important on a first reading but amounted to very little. This was the joint pledge to tackle climate change signed by David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg in what one newspaper called “a rare show of unity”.


January Newsletter No196

An energy world full of contradictions We live in a world of extraordinary contradictions, particularly if we work in the energy sector. In the UK a ten-year life extension for an important nuclear plant has just been announced while in Germany utilities have revealed that they are claiming ...


December Newsletter No195

Old king coal remains centre stage Ten years from now Britain will no longer be generating electricity from coal – not even coal from other countries – if the Liberal Democrats have their way. An industry which dominated the UK energy scene for centuries and with a post-war ...


November Newsletter No194

A GREAT DEAL TO BE PLEASED ABOUT I am fortunate to have succeeded my old friend Sir Bernard Ingham as SONE’s Secretary at a time when we have a great deal to be pleased about and to look forward to.


October Newsletter No193

SONE, with new blood, working for a real nuclear renaissance SONE is to continue its efforts, subject to resources, to secure a substantial nuclear-powered future for Britain. It will do so with a partly new team. The AGM, held on October 20 at the Institution of Civil Engineers, ...


September Newsletter No192

A call to arms: Your committee needs you If this year’s Annual General Meeting on Monday, October 20 does not entirely mark all change, SONE will nonetheless be seen to be gearing up for the future. First, the committee has appointed a new Secretary. He is Harold Bolter, ...


August Newsletter No191

Three warnings of fragility of energy supplies Three events this month have combined to demonstrate the fragility of the world’s energy supplies and Britain’s in particular. The first was Angela Merkel’s dash to Kiev when yet another sub-crisis of Russia’s annexation of the Crimea boiled up with a ...


July Newsletter No190

Methinks these soothsayers are slightly potty. While the good ship “Nuclear Power” is becalmed in the bureaucratic doldrums, there has been a flurry of excitement about David Cameron’s re-shuffle which saw 40 changes and brought in ten women – three into the cabinet.


June Newsletter No189

A minister crying in the wilderness We live not just in interesting but incredible times. The Ukraine remains a threat to oil and gas supplies. The fragmentation of Iraq (and Syria) by a murderously fanatical Islamic agent known as ISIS has already raised the price of petrol and ...


May Newsletter No188

Let us spread the nuclear message like Professor Fells Let us give thanks for Ian Fells. Newcastle Upon Tyne’s emeritus professor wrote a very simple letter to The Times on May19 in response to its leader a week earlier entitled: “Wanted: An energy policy”. He said: “You emphasise ...


April Newsletter No187

Oh to be in England – but not when madness is there Robert Browning may wistfully have written: “Oh to be in England now that April’s there”. Our advice would be to give it a miss – and Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, too – when UN environmental zeal in inflicted upon it.


March Newsletter No186

Ukraine strengthens the case for nuclear power Nothing perhaps over this month has more underlined the need for nuclear power in the UK than the plight of the Ukraine. In truth the West has cut a sorry figure responding to Russia’s annexation of the Crimea. This is because ...


February Newsletter No185

Let’s be clear about sone and global warming There is nothing like a drought, a heat wave, a deep freeze and, of course, a flood to bring out the global warmers. And so, with California, Australia, North America and the southern half of the UK variously afflicted, the ...


January Newsletter No184

The slow race to develop UK nuclear power is on So far the New Year has delivered some cheer to nuclear supporters. Perhaps the best news is the purchase by Toshiba, owners of Westinghouse, for £85m of a controlling 60% stake from Iberdrola/GDF-Suez in what seemed to be ...


January Newsletter No172

HOW NOT TO HANDLE NUCLEAR POWER AT THE CROSSROADS. Nuclear power is at the crossroads, according to the Paris-based Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA). They can say that again. That certainly is the situation here in the UK as EdF approaches the moment of truth: Will it or won’t ...


November Newsletter No170

WE KNEW THINGS WERE DIFFICULT, BUT NOT THAT DESPERATE SONE exists for but one purpose: to promote civil nuclear power. With energy policy in its present parlous state, we were sooner or later going to have to review how we do so. In an ideal world, this would ...


October Newsletter No.169

IT’S GOING TO HAPPEN – BUT AT WHAT PRICE, INDUSTRY ASKS. Lord Hutton, chairman of the Nuclear Industry Association, told SONE’s AGM on October 22 that it was meeting at a watershed for nuclear power development in Britain with the French company, EdF, coming up to a major ...