News

Wylfa

Hitachi Ltd. is likely to suspend a project to build nuclear power plants in Britain, mainly because it has become difficult to recruit investors over concerns about ballooning construction costs, it has been learned. The company could make a final decision early next year at the earliest after considering the stances of the Japanese and British governments, according to sources. Hitachi has already informed the Japanese government of the possibility that it could freeze the project, sources said. The suspended period appears to be undetermined, but the company will leave some possibility it could resume the project after scrutinizing its profitability. Of the total cost, arrangements have been under way to have the British government finance more than ¥2 trillion, with the remaining ¥900 billion to be shouldered equally by three parties — Hitachi; the British government and British companies; and Japanese government-affiliated financial institutions and Japanese companies — by attracting additional investors in Horizon. Hitachi had intended to make a final decision on the project in 2019. However, it has become difficult for the company to rally support for the project from prospective investors. Within Hitachi as well, cautious opinions have grown about the profitability of a project involving a huge investment that would be recouped through electricity charges over a long period. Hitachi has set lowering its share in Horizon from 100 percent to 50 percent or lower through additional investments as a condition to undergo the project, because this would mean the risk involved is dispersed. The company had hoped that the additional funding would come from major utilities such as Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Co. The condition was set because a nuclear power project carries the unavoidable risk of having to pay huge damages in the event of an accident.

Japan News 16th Dec 2018 read more »

Britain’s nuclear energy plans were thrown into further doubt last week after reports from Japan suggested that Toshiba’s rival, Hitachi, was considering pulling out of its proposed £15bn Wylfa Newydd station on Anglesey. The government is expected to take a one-third stake in the plant, as well as providing all of the debt, in a reversal of previous policy. Troubles at Hitachi are believed to stem from the Japanese government’s wariness in matching the UK’s stake in the project. It is hoped a deal will be reached by April to keep the project on track. “We have a significant issue with the expectation of what is coming offline,” said Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association. “If we are going to maintain energy security, we must be able to replace that capacity.” Wylfa and Moorside are among six plants planned. Britain has no large-scale reactor technology of its own, and the power stations will be designed by the Japanese, the Chinese and the French. They may never reach fruition, however, unless the government can address the key problem: financing. While they can be lucrative investments, nuclear power stations require patient investors willing to sit tight during the long, risky years of building. Overruns during building are frequent and were behind the problems at Toshiba’s nuclear unit, Westinghouse, in 2016. EDF is now behind plans for another financing model, the “regulated asset base” (RAB), which could be used for EDF’s planned Sizewell C plant in Suffolk and become the template for new builds. Under the RAB, a project’s builder begins charging households for future electricity as soon as construction starts, with a regulator — in this case, most likely Ofgem — controlling the amount. Supporters say it encourages investment because of the immediate return. Many pension funds are believed to be interested in backing Sizewell on that basis.“The RAB holds the promise that the financing elements of building new nuclear can be dealt with,” said Greatrex. “I don’t think anyone is expecting any future development using the same model as Hinkley.” The RAB arrangement is controversial, not least as bill-payers start paying for the station long before its energy can boil a kettle. Although widely used in infrastructure, the model proposed for the nuclear industry would require new laws. The government has been reviewing the RAB model and ministers are expected to announce soon whether they think it viable, with a consultation or white paper expected early next year. Whether it would get through, given the Brexit distraction, is by no means certain.

Times 16th Dec 2018 read more »

A bid to start clearance work for a new nuclear power station has been halted by the Welsh Government over fears about the effect on wildlife at a nature reserve. The Welsh Government said its decision to review the plans does not imply any view from the Welsh ministers about the merits of the application. A spokesman for Horizon Nuclear Power said it was “disappointed” that the application which was “passed unanimously” by the council had been called in. “We disagree with the reasoning and justification for the call in and are now considering our options on how we respond to the decision. “We are also looking closely at how the decision impacts the project and how these impacts can be mitigated.”

North Wales Chronicle 15th Dec 2018 read more »

Posted: 16 December 2018

Moorside

American officials have raised concerns over the prospect of a Chinese state company building a nuclear power station on the Cumbrian coast next to Europe’s biggest radioactive waste dump. Department of State representatives are understood to have raised their fears with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) over the attempts of China General Nuclear (CGN) to buy Moorside, next to the Sellafield nuclear-waste processing site. The Americans are worried about the site’s proximity — 20 miles — to Barrow-in-Furness, where Britain’s nuclear submarines are built by BAE Systems. The UK has a longstanding collaboration with America over the submarines’ missiles. The US intervention is likely to complicate efforts to develop a plant at Moorside. The site’s owner, the Japanese giant Toshiba, has given up on nuclear power and is liquidating its NuGen project on the site after attempts to engineer a sale to a South Korean company collapsed. CGN has a fraught relationship with the US, amid growing tensions between China and President Donald Trump. One of its engineers, American citizen Allen Ho, pleaded guilty last year to producing “special nuclear material” for China. His case prompted a full-scale review by the US National Security Council, which led to new rules blocking CGN from acquiring American technology. CGN is keen to use Britain as a showcase for its nuclear reactor technology in the hope that it can export it around the world. Its UK head, Rob Davies, signalled continued interest in Moorside last week, saying: “[It is] a very smart site, it’s a nice site.” He added: “We want to build a fleet in the UK.” Rolls-Royce is among rivals to China’s CGN eyeing the site of Toshiba’s ditched planned power plant in Moorside, Cumbria. The FTSE 100 engineer is understood to have held “conceptual discussions” about building miniature nuclear power plants, known as small-modular reactors (SMRs) there.

Times 16th Dec 2018 read more »

Posted: 16 December 2018

Sellafield

Sellafield, former star of the nuclear age, scrubs up for a different future. When uranium was scarce, reprocessing was all the rage. Two decades on, the Cumbrian plant, though still a major source of jobs, has outlived its mission. It’s the endgame for Sellafield, as its focus shifts to a decades-long mission of storing civil and military nuclear waste and gradually cleaning up the 700-hectare site. The site, known to be the most hazardous industrial facility in Europe, dates back to the dawn of the nuclear age. This is where British scientists rushed to develop nuclear weapons during the cold war. The opening here of the world’s first nuclear power station in 1956 was billed as the start of a “new atomic age”. Insiders often reach for the metaphor of 3D chess to describe the challenge of removing old and often contaminated infrastructure while building modern facilities to house waste the government hopes will one day be buried deep underground. With 11,000 workers, Sellafield is like a town, with a laundry, hospital, restaurants and its own armed police to protect the stockpile of plutonium, the biggest in the world. The facility eats up two-thirds of the UK’s annual £3bn nuclear clean-up spending. With the recent collapse of plans to build a new nuclear power station in the field next door, Sellafield is a vital source of decent, high-paying jobs for the area. One anecdote shared – perhaps apocryphal – is of a local lawyer taking a job in the Sellafield laundry because it was better paid. Tony Lywood, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Copeland, said even with no job losses, the end of reprocessing was a “disaster” for the area because of the changing nature of the work. He also opposes plans to see more future jobs in the private sector supply chain. But Jamie Reed, a former Labour MP who quit two years ago to become head of community relations at Sellafield, said: “Our people have been brilliant. They understand Sellafield is changing. The mission is now clean-up.”

Observer 15th Dec 2018 read more »

Some 25 years ago Sellafield’s then operator British Nuclear Fuels plc (BNFL) took many by surprise by publishing plans to supplement Calder Hall’s electricity output (for Sellafield site use) not with a new nuclear plant but with a Combined Heat and Power plant (CHP) that would run on natural gas pumped from the Irish Sea via a Barrow-in-Furness land hub. The 168MWe Fellside CHP plant, now owned by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s subsidiary Sellafield Ltd and operated by PX Group, has generated electricity and steam for the Sellafield complex since 1995, with surplus electricity fed into the National Grid. However, in a letter in July last year from Sellafield Ltd to local authority planners, the Fellside CHP is described as ‘an aging asset approaching the end of its design life with a large degree of obsolesence’.

CORE 15th Dec 2018 read more »

Posted: 16 December 2018

Dounreay

HANT welcomes the final flight according to an unknown source but remains cautious for 2 reasons : i) There has been no information provided about the nuclear materials that were supposed to be coming in exchange from the US and converted into radio isotopes to treat cancers, and ii) Why have only 6 flights taken place when 12 were announced last year ? Answers on a post card please to HANT !

HANT 13th Dec 2018 read more »

Posted: 16 December 2018

Utilities

A senior executive at one of Britain’s most complained about energy suppliers is planning a new gas and power venture, just weeks after his former employer collapsed. The energy regulator has granted a licence to Extra Energy’s former managing director, Ben Jones, just one week after it was forced to put in place a bailout plan for the company’s 100,000 stranded customers. At the time of its collapse, Extra ­Energy ranked among the worst for customer service, had lost almost three quarters of its customers, and failed to pay millions for renewable energy subsidies, which were claimed through customer bills.

Telegraph 15th Dec 2018 read more »

Households face a bill of almost £14m to pay for the collapse of small energy supplier Iresa. Bills will increase to cover the £11.5m Iresa owed in credit balances to its 100,000 customers, as well as other costs. Octopus Energy, a larger rival, took on the customers and paid the bills. Octopus is now asking other suppliers to chip in, under a controversial industry levy system set up by the regulator, Ofgem. Ofgem said on Friday that it was minded to approve the application, subject to a consultation. SSE and Npower are set to update the market this week on a planned merger of their retail energy units into a new listed business. It was thrown into doubt last month after the pair said they were renegotiating terms.

Times 16th Dec 2018 read more »

Posted: 16 December 2018

Taishan

On Friday 14th of December 2018, CGN and EDF announced, at a joint press conference in Beijing, that unit 1 of Taishan nuclear power plant had become the world’s first EPR to enter into commercial operation. This last milestone was reached on Thursday 13th of December 2018 after the final statutory functional test of continuous operation at full power for 168 hours. The successful outcome of this test marks the achievement of all prerequisite conditions for the reactor’s safe operation.

Nasdaq 14th Dec 2018 read more »

Posted: 16 December 2018

India

India and France on Saturday reviewed the progress of a preliminary pact to build six nuclear power plants producing 10 gigawatts of energy to power Asia’s third-largest economy. The review was under taken by Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and visiting French foreign minister Yves Le Drian in New Delhi. Le Drian’s two-day visit comes a day after the Supreme Court ruled on Friday that it found no evidence of wrongdoing in the government’s decision-making process to procure 36 Rafale aircraft from French company Dassualt Aviation. The court also rejected petitions for an investigation into the Rs 59,000 crore deal. It was unclear from the public statements of Swaraj and Le Drian whether this matter came up for discussion during their meeting on Saturday. During talks, the two sides also agreed to “launch projects together in Africa, particularly in the area of sustainable development in connection with the International Solar Alliance(ISA),” Le Drian later told reporters in New Delhi, according to a statement emailed by the French embassy in the capital.

Livemint 15th Dec 2018 read more »

Posted: 16 December 2018

US

A nuclear test reactor that can melt uranium fuel rods in seconds is running again after a nearly quarter-century shutdown as U.S. officials try to revamp a fading nuclear power industry with safer fuel designs and a new generation of power plants. The reactor at the U.S. Energy Department’s Idaho National Laboratory has performed 10 tests on nuclear fuel since late last year. “If we’re going to have nuclear power in this country 20 or 30 years from now, it’s going to be because of this reactor,” said J.R. Biggs, standing in front of the Transient Test Reactor he manages that in short bursts can produce enough energy to power 14 million homes. The reactor was used to run 6,604 tests from 1959 to 1994, when it was put on standby as the United States started turning away from nuclear power amid safety concerns. Restarting it is part of a strategy to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by generating carbon-free electricity with nuclear power initiated under the Obama administration and continuing under the Trump administration, despite Trump’s downplaying of global warming.

Daily Mail 15th Dec 2018 read more »

Posted: 16 December 2018

Turkey

The Turkish Atomic Energy Authority (TAEK) granted the country’s first nuclear power plant Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant’s (NPP) project company Akkuyu Nuclear, a “limited works permit” for the construction of the plant’s second unit, Rosatom announced on Dec. 14. Receiving the “limited works permit” is an important stage in the licensing of Akkuyu NPP second unit’s construction, according to a statement of Russia’s State Nuclear Energy Corporation, Rosatom, the major consortium partner for the plant.

Hurriyet 15th Dec 2018 read more »

Posted: 16 December 2018

Renewables – offshore wind

One of the world’s largest wind farms off the coast of North Wales could be about to get bigger. The 160 turbine Gwynt y Mor, situated around eight miles off the coast of Colwyn Bay, started generating power in 2015. Prior to being built the £1.8bn project with 150 metre high turbines attracted huge opposition with fears about the impact on tourism in Llandudno, concerns that proved unfounded.

Daily Post 15th Dec 2018 read more »

Posted: 16 December 2018