14 February 2017

Toshiba

Toshiba shocked investors on Tuesday with a last-minute delay to a long-awaited financial update, saying it needed more time to probe its Westinghouse nuclear business. Toshiba had been expected to release third-quarter earnings on Tuesday, including the exact size of a writedown for its U.S. nuclear business that is expected to top $6 billion due to hefty cost overruns at two projects, as well as planned remedies. Instead, the TVs-to-nuclear conglomerate said by email minutes after earnings had been due that it was “not ready”, sending its shares sharply lower. Chief Executive Satoshi Tsunakawa had been expected to use Tuesday’s earnings to address investor concerns. That includes the prospects for its nuclear business, where Toshiba is expected to withdraw from nuclear plant construction, and its efforts to raise capital, for example with the sale of a stake in its memory chip business in Tokyo.

Reuters 14th Feb 2017 read more »

Toshiba chairman Shigenori Shiga has resigned, hours after the company was forced to delay revealing details of a multi-billion dollar loss. The Japanese conglomerate was expected to say it was writing off about $6bn (£4.8bn) at its US nuclear business. But the BBC understands Toshiba has not been able to agree with its auditors how big the writedown should be. The company said Mr Shiga was stepping down “to take management responsibility for the loss”. He will remain on the board until June to help deal with the fallout of the problems, Toshiba said. The financial chaos has led some analysts to warn the company’s future is at risk. Toshiba has asked regulators for an extra month before issuing its earnings report – which will include the size of the loss and details of measures it plans to take to tackle its finances.

BBC 14th Feb 2017 read more »

Toshiba could warn today that it may not be able to continue as a going concern after massive losses in its US nuclear construction business. The Japanese conglomerate may announce writedowns up to $6 billion related to a subsidiary’s takeover two years ago. It will warn that the scale of the losses may endanger the future viability of the company, according to Nikkei, the Japanese publisher. The company, which reports results for the nine months to December today, has already put a stake in its memory chip business up for sale as it battles to ensure that the amount it owes does not exceed the value of its assets. The state of the finances also threatens to derail the UK nuclear programme as Toshiba considers quitting the Nugen venture, which is due to build reactors at Moorside in Cumbria. Toshiba said last month that it was putting its entire overseas nuclear business under review and would give further details of its plans today. Toshiba, and its junior partner Engie, were already looking to bring more investors into the project. It is not clear whether buyers of the venture would be willing to continue using Toshiba’s Westinghouse reactor technology, which is close to securing regulatory approval for use in the UK. Switching to a new technology could cause years of delay and uncertainty for Nugen, which still claims it can take a final investment decision next year.

Times 14th Feb 2017 read more »

Toshiba is expected to confirm that it is withdrawing from new nuclear projects outside Japan, dealing a blow to plans for a new power station in the UK. Chris Jukes, the GMB union’s senior officer for Sellafield, said: “A new build at Moorside is part of a vital broader and home-grown energy mix – built, maintained and operated by British workers. Brexit should be a perfect opportunity to demonstrate conclusively a better way for nuclear in west Cumbria. For 70 years Whitehaven has been a hub for nuclear. That is why we are calling on the British government to commit the investment that is lost by Toshiba pulling out and for the British and Japanese governments to work together on a broader solution so that post-Brexit, west Cumbria jobs, skills and nuclear futures are guaranteed.” Rebecca Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary, said: “The government’s energy policy is in chaos. We have become increasingly reliant on the decisions of foreign companies whose interests lie with their owners and not British consumers. If Toshiba pulls out of the proposed Moorside plant in Cumbria, the government must intervene immediately and provide public support and financial stability for Moorside and the community of west Cumbria. That means taking a public stake in exchange for public support to protect energy supplies and jobs. Labour backs new nuclear and an expansion of renewable energy to keep the lights on and meet our climate change targets.”

Guardian 13th Feb 2017 read more »

Toshiba is considering selling an interest in a U.K. nuclear venture to Korea Electric Power Corp., aiming to reduce its involvement in the riskier side of the atomic power business in the wake of massive losses linked to U.S. projects. The Japanese conglomerate controls 60% of NuGeneration, a joint venture planning to build a nuclear plant in northwestern England. Toshiba has sought to unload part of this stake for some time. The company has discreetly approached Kepco about a deal. Going forward, the two sides will hash out such details as how much of NuGen will change hands. Toshiba will likely also request help with manpower, such as sending Kepco nuclear engineers to the U.S. and elsewhere amid a shortage in Japan.

Nikkei Asian Review 14th Feb 2017 read more »

If you want to understand why Toshiba Corp. is about to report a multi-billion dollar write-down on its nuclear reactor business, the story begins and ends with a one-time pipe manufacturer with roots in the swamp country of Louisiana. The Shaw Group Inc., based in Baton Rouge, looms large in the complex tale of blown deadlines and budgets at four nuclear reactor projects in Georgia and South Carolina overseen by Westinghouse Electric Co., a Toshiba subsidiary.

Bloomberg 13th Feb 2017 read more »

Nuclear Subsidies

Leader: British nuclear energy and the case for public funding. If ministers want new plants to be built, they will need to back them. The obstacles to the UK’s ambition of building a fleet of new nuclear power plants appear larger by the day. Toshiba’s troubles could stall plans for a plant at Moorside in Cumbria. The £18bn Hinkley Point project has won approval, despite its eye-watering cost, but it too could still fall through if a new French government doubts EDF’s ability to build it, or if China pulls its investment. Moreover, the decision to leave Euratom – a consequence of Theresa May’s approach to Brexit – will create uncertainty for the entire industry. If UK ministers wish to overcome these obstacles, they will need to reconsider their longstanding opposition to public investment in the sector. The UK is in theory an attractive market, since few developed countries are expanding nuclear generation, and approval from the UK regulator serves as a badge of quality. Nonetheless, ministers need to recognise the reality: without government support, private capital markets will not finance projects with enormous upfront capital costs, huge construction risks and very long-term pay-offs. The next test of the UK’s commitment to nuclear expansion will be the plant Hitachi wants to build at Wylfa, in Anglesey. If ministers want this to proceed, they should be open in principle to financing the project directly. This could be done in a way that overcomes at least some of the Treasury’s concerns – for example, by buying a minority stake in the project, which would not count towards public debt and could be sold on once the plant was in operation. Since the government is better able to bear long-term risk and can borrow more cheaply than the private sector, this could cost less than offering guarantees for investors to bear the same risks. The original argument for replacing and expanding the UK’s ageing fleet of nuclear reactors was that it was essential to secure the country’s energy supply and meet its legal commitments to cutting carbon emissions. This argument may now be weaker, given sharp falls in the price of gas and the cost of offshore wind power. Yet nuclear energy is still important to maintaining diversity in the UK’s energy supply. If the government now believes it can meet the UK’s future energy needs by other means, it should explain how it plans to do so. If it is still relying on nuclear expansion to plug the gaps in supply that will open up, it will need to be open to funding it directly.

FT 14th February 2017 read more »

It would appear that the UK government’s nuclear power policy is taking another hit. Tomorrow Toshiba is expected announce that it’s pulling out of the NuGen project, taking 60% of the funding for the 3 reactors planned for Moorside in Cumbria with it. Right on cue, stories have appeared in the press saying that government is thinking about or even ‘under pressure’ to inject huge amounts of taxpayers cash into the project in order to get it built. The same issue is emerging over at the proposed nuclear project in Anglesey. One of these reports says “proposals for public investment [are] being pushed primarily by industry rather than ministers.” Now let’s get this straight: If the UK government takes stake in these projects, it would be expensive. A 25% share in both NuGen and Anglesey could cost over £7 billion — and that’s before taking into account the cost overruns synonymous with nuclear projects. This would still leave over £20bn other investment to find, but is a substantial commitment of public money. So it is worth spending a few moments to consider why direct government funding of these nuclear stations is such an eccentric and ill-conceived idea.

Energydesk 13th Feb 2017 read more »

Moorside

Union leaders have demanded clarity over the future of a planned new nuclear power station in the UK after Japanese giant Toshiba asked for a delay in releasing its accounts amid a shares plunge. The company was expected to announce huge losses and that it was pulling out of nuclear projects outside Japan. That fuelled fears over the future of a new plant at Moorside in Cumbria, which Toshiba has a 60% stake in building.

ITV 14th Feb 2017 read more »

Energy Voice 14th Feb 2017 read more »

CUMBRIA’S planned new nuclear plant is still in doubt after one of the key movers behind it delayed making an announcement on its commitment to the project.

Carlisle News and Star 14th Feb 2017 read more »

Wylfa

The developers of Wylfa Newydd say they are “confident” of Government support for nuclear as reports emerge taxpayers’ cash could be used to fund new generation projects. Industry sources claim business and energy secretary Greg Clark could reverse years of government opposition to direct public subsidy to ensure new nuclear plants get built.

Daily Post 13th Feb 2017 read more »

Nuclear Safety

U.K. nuclear safety regulations place too low a value on human life. “It is difficult to see how any safety case presented from now on that relies in any way upon the UK VPF, whether on the roads, the railways or in the nuclear industry, such as the new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C in Somerset, could stand up to test in court. More modern and accurate methods exist, but the regulators are not using them.” New research has shown that the benchmark used by the U.K. Office for Nuclear Regulation for judging how much should be spent on nuclear safety has no basis in evidence and places insufficient value on human life. The review suggests it may need to be ten times higher — between £16 million and £22 million per life saved. New research has shown that the benchmark used by the U.K. Office for Nuclear Regulation for judging how much should be spent on nuclear safety has no basis in evidence and places insufficient value on human life. The review suggests it may need to be ten times higher — between £16 million and £22 million per life saved.

Nuclear News 13th Feb 2017 read more »

Nuclear Archive

A national archive for the civil nuclear industry has opened on the north coast of mainland Scotland. More than 70 years’ worth of information and up to 30 million digital records are to be stored at Nucleus in Wick, Caithness. They include papers, photographs and plans from nearby Dounreay, as well as Harwell in Oxfordshire, Trawsfynydd in Snowdonia and Sellafield in Cumbria. Nucleus will also store local archives dating back to the 16th Century. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has had the facility cons tructed at a former RAF site. Many of the documents, photographs and technical drawings relate to Dounreay, an experimental nuclear power complex 30 miles (48km) away from Wick. Built in the 1950s, Dounreay is now in the process of being decommissioned and the site cleaned up.

BBC 14th Feb 2017 read more »

Energy Policy

This submission argues that GB is trapped in an infrastructure which is not fit for purpose. GB is not going to be able to transform to a fit for purpose infrastructure system unless those who pay for it also support it. The infrastructure changes which occur have to be those which GB people want, and value in their everyday lives. This is a move to an energy efficient Britain – whether this is buildings, the energy system, the transport system and the waste and water systems. All these systems need governance overhauls to provide appropriate incentives for the ‘new’ sustainable, cost effective and efficient systems and to stop providing incentives to the ‘old’ system. This is not as radical as it might seem. Other countries around the world are implementing these transformations and GB should learn from them.

IGov 13th Feb 2017 read more »

Fast Reactors

Last year, the government officially decided to decommission Monju — the Japan Atomic Energy Agency’s prototype fast breeder reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture. The government plans to continue developing a fast reactor with an eye on later developing a demonstration reactor, which are both seen as more practically feasible than the Monju reactor. For the time being, the government plans to continue developing and accumulating technology for ASTRID (see below) — an acronym for Advanced Sodium Technological Reactor for Industrial Demonstration — jointly with the French government. Current light-water reactors for commercial nuclear power plants mainly use uranium as fuel. Ordinary water, known as light water, cools the reactors. This water slows neutrons from the nuclear fission chain and effectively causes uranium to repeatedly split. Fast breeder reactors and fast reactors use plutonium as fuel and liquid sodium as coolant. Neutrons are not slowed down and can be used at high speeds. Fission occurs more easily when fast neutrons hit plutonium.

Japan News 13th Feb 2017 read more »

Fusion

The UK government’s intention to leave Euratom alongside leaving the EU was announced just over two weeks ago in the White Paper entitled “The United Kingdom’s exit from, and new partnership with, the European Union”. This has obvious implications for UKAEA – especially the continued operation of JET after 2018 and the UK’s continued participation in ITER. UKAEA has since received the following statement from the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Jo Johnson MP. The research done at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy is rightly recognised as world class and it has driven UK leadership in fusion R&D for many years. The Government has no intention of compromising this position following the decision to withdraw from the Euratom Treaty. Leaving Euratom is a result of the decision to leave the EU as they are uniquely legally joined. The UK supports Euratom, and we value international collaboration in fusion research and the UK’s key role in these efforts. Maintaining and building on our world-leading fusion expertise and securing alternative routes into the international fusion R&D projects such as the Joint European Torus (JET) project at Culham and the ITER project in France, will be a priority.

UKAEA 13th Feb 2017 read more »

Nuclear Weapons

Donald Trump’s election has prompted some deep soul-searching in Germany. One of the most intriguing areas is on nuclear weapons policy. In an oracular pronouncement seized on by the media, Roderich Kiesewetter, a member of the ruling Christian Democrats, said that if Mr Trump’s America “no longer wants to offer a nuclear security guarantee, Europe still needs a nuclear umbrella”. One of the publishers of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung then gave the screw another twist. Given Russian rearmament and a smallish Anglo-French panoply, let’s think the “unthinkable” – our “own nuclear deterrent”.

FT 14th Feb 2017 read more »

France

[Machine translation] Extension of life of nuclear power plants: IRSN lists the difficulties encountered by EDF. The IRSN evaluated the quality of operation of the EDF reactors. Emphasis is placed on key points for extending their life span beyond 40 years, including facility compliance and maintenance.

Actu Environnement 10th Feb 2017 read more »

Spain

Spain’s nuclear regulator, Consejo de Seguridad Nuclear (CSN), has conditionally approved the restart of the single-unit Santa Maria de Garoña nuclear power station in Burgos, northern Spain, pending a series of modifications and conditions, CSN said in a statement. CSN’s board voted four to one in favour of allowing the single-unit plant, which has been mothballed since the end of 2012, to restart. This would require the operator Nuclenor, which is jointly owned by Spain’s two largest utilities Iberdrola and Endesa, to carry out a series of additional activities before the energy ministry can approve the restart, CSN said. CSN said some conditions apply to all operators of nuclear power stations in Spain and include administrative procedures regarding documentation and safety plans, and the handling of radioactive waste. However, two further sets of conditions need to be met, the first before any fuel is loaded into the reactor and the second before the reactor is restarted. Further CSN approval is required before these stages, CSN said.

Nucnet 10th Feb 2017 read more »

Renewables – offshore wind

OFFSHORE windfarms look set to offer significantly better value for money than the cost of nuclear power agreed with energy firm EDF for Hinkley Point C, according to the chief executive of RenewableUK. While offshore wind continues to drop in price as more money is invested in it – costs have fallen by around a third over the last four years – the 35-year deal with EDF sets the price of nuclear power at more than twice the current retail price of electricity. This is expected to rise further when inflation and soaring Brexit-related costs are taken into account. Hugh McNeal, a former civil servant in the now abolished Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), said the decision by ministers to end subsidies for onshore wind farms had been hard for the industry and the building of new turbine s on land was expected to grind to a halt after next year. Green energy subsidies are paid through energy bills, but MPs had criticised as “shambolic” government efforts to communicate the impact on consumers. McNeal said he expected that offshore windfarms would secure a deal with the Government which was lower than the £92.50 per megawatt hour agreed with EDF for Hinkley Point C.

The National 14th Feb 2017 read more »

Offshore windfarms look set to provide significantly better value for money than the extravagant cost of nuclear power agreed with EDF for Hinkley Point C – according to leading expert Hugh McNeal, chief executive of RenewablesUK.

Scottish Energy News 14th Feb 2017 read more »

Business Green 13th Feb 2017 read more »

Renewables – investment

Around 100,000 local government employees in Glasgow, Ayrshire, Lanarkshire and Dumbartonshire have invested another slice of their wages into a £50 million offshore wind farm in N. Ireland. This is a result of the Strathclyde Pension Fund – to which all council workers in the West Central Belt belong and which is managed by a handful of officials in Glasgow cooncil – being a major investor with a 20% holding in the Dublin-based NTR investment fund. NTR has now added a further 25 MW to its onshore NTR Wind-1 fund with the acquisition of Castlecraig Wind Farm in Northern Ireland, the third such purchase of pre-construction wind assets by NTR from renewable energy developer RES. Capital costs for the project amount to just over £50 million.

Scottish Energy News 14th Feb 2017 read more »

Biofuel

Italian-style coffee shop chain Caffé Nero is looking to extend an innovative coffee-to-biofuel recycling scheme beyond greater London after a successful partnership with recycling company First Mile and technology firm Bio-Bean. Nero expects to have converted 218 tonnes of used coffee grounds into 98 tonnes of biomass pellets – enough fuel to power the equivalent of 453 homes – when the retailer reaches the first annual milestone of its partnership with First mile and Bio-Bean in July.

Edie 13th Feb 2017 read more »

Fossil Fuels

A new report on the coal sector in the European Union (EU) says there is no hope of greenhouse gas emission reduction targets being met unless at least a quarter of the coal-fired power plants now operating in the region are phased out within the next three years. Scientists say that the burning of coal is the primary cause of global warming, and also of severe air pollution, leading to health and other problems. The report by the Climate Analytics research group says that, by 2030, virtually all of the EU’s more than 300 coal power plants need to be phased out and plans for new coal-fired facilities abandoned.

Climate News Network 13th Feb 2017 read more »

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Published: 14 February 2017