The struggling French energy giant EDF is set to receive a state bailout worth billions of euros, allowing it to forge ahead with plans to build an £18 billion nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset. Emmanuel Macron, the French economy minister, dismissed concerns in France and Britain about the high cost of the project to build two nuclear reactors using French technology. Instead, he signalled the French government’s willingness to prop up EDF to enable it to complete the job. “If we need to recapitalise, we will do it,” he said. “If we need to renounce dividend payments again, we will do it.” Details of the bailout are likely to be thrashed out at a meeting between Mr Macron and Jean-Bernard Levy, the chief executive of EDF, in Paris today. Yesterday, Mr Macron was jeered by EDF workers during a visit to a nuclear power station in Civaux, western France. They were angry at remarks he had made, suggesting they accept a pay cut to help to fund the Hinkley project. Mr Levy is understood to be pressing the government to renounce its dividend payments for up to five years, bolstering the group’s balance sheet by about €12 billion . He also wants authorisation to sell a 50 per cent stake in RTE, the high voltage transmission network that is France’s equivalent of the National Grid, for about €3.5 billion. Mr Levy has told staff he will approve the plan to build the reactors at Hinkley Point only if he gets financial support from the French state. Critics in France say that EDF cannot afford to shoulder the lion’s share of cost of the investment. Mr Macron underlined his determination to see the British project through. “Hinkley Point is a beautiful project,” he said. “It is a very profitable project for the next 35 years.”
Times 18th March 2016 read more »
Guardian 17th March 2016 read more »
Daily Mail 17th March 2016 read more »
Telegraph 17th March 2016 read more »
Mr Macron is due to meet Mr Levy on Friday.
FT 17th March 2016 read more »
The Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron was welcomed Thursday by cries of protest and anger of a hundred employees on arrival at the Civaux Nuclear Power Plant (Vienna). Employees, including almost all wore the colors of the CGT union, denounced the remarks made by the Minister on 8 March in the National Assembly who called the company to “collective efforts”. The Minister asserted, however, that the state, which owns over 84% of EDF, was ready to inject money to straighten the EDF group and the government would make its arbitration before the ” beginning of May. ” “If there is need to recapitalize, we will,” he said. “If there needs to further waive dividends, we will,” he added, during his visit.
Le Parisien 18th March 2016 read more »
Les Echos 17th March 2016 read more »
Workers at French utility EDF jeered Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron when visited a nuclear plant on Thursday, protesting over comments they saw as blaming them for financial pressures at the group. The CGT union also renewed calls to delay a 18 billion pound nuclear reactor project at Hinkley Point in southwest England, saying it would put the financial health of the state-controlled company at risk.
Reuters 17th March 2016 read more »
Electricite de France SA still plans to make the final decision to go ahead with an 18 billion-pound ($26 billion) nuclear power plant in the U.K. before its annual general meeting in May, according to three people familiar with the matter. Approval for the project could come as early as this month, two of the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. When asked Thursday if there will be a decision by EDF’s AGM, Chief Executive Officer Jean-Bernard Levy told reporters at the Civaux nuclear plant in Western France that it would come “soon.”
Bloomberg 17th March 2016 read more »
The Energy and Climate Change Committee has called EDF Energy, and other energy companies planning to build reactors in the UK, to Parliament to give evidence on the future of the nuclear industry. Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Committee, Angus MacNeil MP: “The Government is counting on new nuclear to supply a significant proportion of the UK’s demand for low-carbon baseload power in future. The focus right now is on Hinkley Point C but there are other important projects in the pipeline. Serious questions are being raised about the cost and viability of the Hinkley project and the value for money for taxpayers. The Energy and Climate Change Committee will hear from commentators that have raised concerns about financing nuclear projects. We will also question the Chief Executive of EDF and other companies planning to build reactors about the challenges for new nuclear across the UK.”
Parliament 17th March 2016 read more »
The UK’s Energy and Climate Change Committee has called EDF Energy, and other energy companies planning to build reactors in the UK, to Parliament on 23 March to give evidence on the future of the nuclear industry.
World Nuclear News 17th March 2016 read more »
City AM 17th March 2016 read more »
EDF Energy will be giving evidence to the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee on Wednesday 23rd March as part of its session entitled “UK New Nuclear Status Update”. The hearing will give EDF Energy an opportunity to answer the Committee’s questions on the investment plans for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C in Somerset. EDF Energy and CGN signed a Strategic Investment Agreement in October for the construction and operation of Hinkley Point C. This partnership was recently approved by the European Commission. EDF has recently confirmed its intention to invest in Hinkley Point C in the near future. Both the French and British Governments have expressed their strong support for the project which will provide the UK with reliable low carbon electricity to meet 7% of its needs.
EDF 17th March 2016 read more »
In response to a growing clamour for Hinkley Point C to be cancelled, the Department of Energy and Climate Change has published a list of five reasons why it is backing the nuclear plant. This is Stop Hinkley’s response. Stop Hinkley Spokespeson Roy Pumfrey says: “This is our rebuttal of some hugely dubious claims by DECC which are about as watertight as a colander.”
Stop Hinkley 17th March 2016 read more »
Delusions or lies? The UK government’s five spurious reasons to back Hinkley Point C. The UK’s Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) on 12 March published a short list of reasons why the proposed 3.2 GWs of nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point should be built. The publication, 5 Reasons why we are backing Hinkley Point C, is a mix of truth, unprovable assertions and omissions which could also be construed as lies, writes independent energy consultant Mike Parr. The DECC statement assumes that the problem of intermittent generation plus storage will not be solved any time soon. It also relies on ignorance amongst the UK population with respect to the true state of affairs with respect to dispatchable vs intermittent supply. Did DECC read the interview with Steven Holliday, CEO of National Grid, who said in September last year that “the idea of large coal-fired or nuclear power stations to be used for baseload is outdated” and who said about “intermittent” renewables that “We will have the intelligence available in the system to ensure power is consumed when it’s there and not when it’s not there.”
Energy Post 15th March 2016 read more »
A pressure group is calling for changes to the rail network to enable construction materials for Sizewell C to be transported by train to avoid using the roads and protect residents.
Ipswich Star 17th March 2016 read more »
One of two reactors at EDF Energy’s Torness nuclear plant in Scotland has been shut down after a problem surfaced during maintenance. Station director Paul Winkle said: “Whilst carrying out routine maintenance in the conventional turbine part of the plant there was an issue with a valve and our operations team took prompt action and manually shut down the reactor, putting safety first. “Cooling to the reactor was maintained at all times and there were no safety, health or environmental impacts. The reactor will be returned to power as soon as maintenance is satisfactorily completed.” WWF Scotland director Lang Bank said: “This might be the first unplanned shutdown at Torness this year, but given similar incidents in the past few years it’s clear that nuclear power is showing itself to be an increasingly unreliable source of energy. “It underlines why Scotland is right to be choosing to harness more power from renewable energy sources.”
Utility Week 17th March 2016 read more »
The National 18th March 2016 read more »
BBC 17th March 2016 read more »
Scotsman 17th March 2016 read more »
Herald 17th March 2016 read more »
Energy Voice 17th March 2016 read more »
Greenpeace gives evidence to nuclear power inquiry: The Welsh Affairs Committee continues their inquiry into the future of nuclear power in Wales hearing from pro- and anti-nuclear pressure groups, and academic experts on small modular reactors.
Parliament 17th March 2016 read more »
We have all heard the claim. We need nuclear power because, along with big hydropower, it’s the only low carbon generation technology that can supply ‘reliable baseload power’ on a large scale. For example, the UK Energy Secretary Amber Rudd, attempted to justify the decision to build the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear power station on the grounds that “we have to secure baseload electricity.” Underlying this claim are three key assumptions. First, that baseload power is actually a good and necessary thing. In fact, what it really means is too much power when you don’t want it, and not enough when you do. What we need is flexible power (and flexible demand too) so that supply and demand can be matched instant by instant. The second assumption is that nuclear power is a reliable baseload supplier. In fact it’s no such thing. All nuclear power stations are subject to tripping out for safety reasons or technical faults. That means that a 3.2GW nuclear power station has to be matched by 3.2GW of expensive ‘spinning reserve’ that can be called in at a moments notice. The third is that the only way to supply baseload power is from baseload power stations, such as nuclear, coal and gas, designed to run flat-out all the time whether their power is actually needed or not. That’s wrong too. But in all the flexible, renewables-based approaches, conventional baseload power stations are unnecessary. In the words of former Australian Greens’ Senator Christine Milne: “We are now in the midst of a fight between the past and the future”. The refutation of the baseload fairy tale and other myths falsely denigrating renewable energy are a key part of that struggle.
Renew Economy 18th March 2016 read more »
The government has launched a competition to find a partner to help bring “mini nuclear reactors” into the UK energy market. More than 16 firms are set to enter the Department of Energy and Climate Change competition, which aims to identify a preferred technology for Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) to be rolled out in a series of new power plants over the next 15 years. Companies expected to take part include NuScale, Westinghouse and Bechtel, which have already put their names forward as potential partners. The government will chose the best SMR design at the end of the competition. Companies have been given until 6 May to put forward their designs and business cases, with a decision on which companies will make the next round of the competition expected in the autumn.
Construction News 18th March 2016 read more »
Business Green 18th March 2016 read more »
DECC 17th March 2016 read more »
At events today in Westminster, and in Manchester on the 18th – 20th March, Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) and other groups are organising four high profile events highlighting the impacts of the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters and the alternatives of going ‘beyond nuclear’ to renewable energy alternatives. This evening in Portcullis House a number of leading experts and politicians will be speaking at the annual Westminster event commemorating the Fukushima disaster. The keynote speaker will be Professor Alexander Likhotal, the President and Chief Executive of Green Cross International, who will read out a speech on behalf of Mikhail Gorbachev, President of the Soviet Union at the time of the Chernobyl disaster. The speech outlines what Gorbachev calls ‘one of the most tragic incidents of our time’. Other speakers at this meeting, chaired by Shadow Foreign Office spokesperson Catherine West MP, include Molly Scott-Cato MEP, Professor Tim Mousseau, Dr Ian Fairlie and Dr Dominic Kelly.
NFLA 17th March 2016 read more »
While fuel melted down in three separate reactors, it is the condition of reactor one that is of particular concern. Last May, Tepco announced that nearly all of the fuel in reactor one had melted, but with radiation levels dangerously high it hasn’t been possible for humans to go in, investigate the interior and locate the fuel. So Tepco brought in the machines. This involved developing purpose-built robots for each of the reactor buildings, a process that itself takes two years. Here the robots are designed to wade through underwater chambers brimming with contaminated water in search of melted fuel rods. But so far this approach has yielded underwhelming results, with the high radiation levels frying the robots’ wiring and leaving them incapable of carrying out their task.
Gizmag 17th March 2016 read more »
Koide Hiroaki has spent his entire career as a nuclear engineer, and has become a central figure in Japan’s movement for the abolition of nuclear power plants. He met with Katsuya Hirano and Hirotaka Kasai to discuss the catastrophic nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima Daaichi in March 2011, and the crimes and cover-ups committed both before and after the event.
Ecologist 17th March 2016 read more »
Today Westinghouse President and CEO Danny Roderick issued the following statement to refute the Bloomberg News article that implies that Westinghouse’s finances are under government investigation. “Westinghouse strongly refutes Bloomberg’s recent reporting about being possibly investigated by government agencies. The headline and article were factually inaccurate and reckless. “There was nothing new in the article. Westinghouse has been transparent and cooperative with the independent investigation committee. According to the independent report cited in the article, no accounting irregularities have been found in Westinghouse’s accounting. To our knowledge, Westinghouse financial reporting is not under investigation. “Bloomberg has done journalism and free speech a disservice by citing unnamed sources and speculating. This poor “reporting” has had a dramatic impact on Toshiba shareholders and Westinghouse customers throughout the world.”
Westinghouse 17th March 2016 read more »
American researchers have developed a process for removing an extremely toxic element from nuclear waste, paving the way for safer and faster disposal. In an article published in the latest issue of the journal Science, the team from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), the USA, described how they managed to remove highly radioactive americium from the nuclear waste – a problem that has puzzled researchers for decades. “In order to solve the nuclear waste problem, you have to solve the americium problem,” said Tom Meyer, Professor of Chemistry at UNC, who led the study. The new technique breaks down americium into a more manageable material by removing three electrons. Professor Meyer used a similar technique previously to tear electrons from water molecules in a research dealing with solar energy. The only difference is that splitting americium requires twice the amount of energy as splitting water. The resulting element behaves more like plutonium and uranium, which are easy to remove from the radioactive waste with existing techniques.
Engineering & Technology 17th March 2016 read more »
The Nuclear Illustrative Programme, PINC 2016 will be the sixth presented under article 40 of the Euratom Treaty since 1958, and the first to present the nuclear vision of the new European Commission. The present note proposes a reality check of this vision, as it appears in a draft version of PINC 2016 and the attached Staff Working Document that were provided to WISE-Paris, against the current evolution of nuclear power. It also discusses how this vision stands in the face of the analysis outlined in the previous illustrative programme, an update in 2008 of PINC 2007.
Greens EFA 15th March 2016 read more »
China’s plans to process spent nuclear fuel into plutonium that could be used in weapons is drawing concern from the U.S. that Beijing is heightening the risk of nuclear proliferation.
Wall St Journal 17th March 2016 read more »
China General Nuclear (CGN) has announced a 12.3% increase in revenue in 2015 to CNY 23.3 billion ($3.6 billion), while profits increased 6.5% to CNY 6.6 billion ($1.0 billion) compared with 2014.
World Nuclear News 17th March 2016 read more »
China’s two biggest state-owned nuclear power operators announced a joint venture to export the country’s third-generation nuclear power reactors internationally. A ceremony took place Thursday morning in Beijing at Hualong International Nuclear Power Technology Co.’s new headquarters, China General Nuclear Power Corp. said in an e-mailed statement. The company is an equal joint venture between CGN and China National Nuclear Corp. to develop and export the home-grown Hualong One reactor overseas, it said.
Bloomberg 17th March 2016 read more »
The United States and China are deepening nuclear security cooperation, with new technical collaborations and the expected participation of Chinese President Xi Jinping at the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C., later this month, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said Thursday. Moniz also addressed U.S. work with China on implementing the recent Iran nuclear pact. Moniz met with reporters in Beijing between talks with Chinese counterparts on nuclear security and climate change. The agency signed an agreement this week to broaden an established program through which the United States provides China with training and technology to detect “illicit movements, smuggling of nuclear materials and logical sources.” The two powers share an interest in preventing global smuggling of nuclear materials, he said, and have taken tangible steps to work together in combatting the threat.
Science Mag 17th March 2016 read more »
Germany’s highest court on Wednesday challenged claims by power firms that a government decision to end nuclear power generation earlier than planned amounted to expropriation of their plants. Following the Fukushima disaster in Japan in March 2011, Germany announced plans to exit nuclear energy by 2022, effectively speeding up a plan first drawn up in 2002 to eventually shut all of the country’s reactors. Utilities argue that the move overturned a decision from late 2010, which backed extending the lifespan of some plants, and plan to claim damages for the production volumes they say they will be forced to forfeit.
Reuters 16th March 2016 read more »
An unprecedented alliance of 30 major cities and districts from three countries has joined forces to try to shut down two ageing Belgian nuclear reactors close to their borders. Cologne and Dusseldorf in Germany, Luxembourg City and Maastricht in the Netherlands are among the cities co-funding a lawsuit to close one reactor – Tihange 2 – and calling on the European commission to prepare a separate case at the European court of justice. “More than 30 districts have adopted resolutions to support us, and want to join the lawsuit,” said Helmut Echtenberg, the mayor of Germany’s Greater Aachen region, who is leading the campaign. Only one plaintiff may appear in court, “but we will ensure that Tihange 2 is no longer connected to the grid in the future,“ Echtenberg said. “This is my honest conviction.”
Guardian 17th March 2016 read more »
In April 2014, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, a tiny island country part of Micronesia, filed groundbreaking lawsuits to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against the world’s nine nuclear-armed countries. Now, almost two years later, the ICJ has heard preliminary oral arguments in three of the cases.
Greenpeace 18th March 2016 read more »
An international accelerated push to double the share of renewables in the global energy mix by 2030 would lead to annual savings of $4.2trn and limit temperature rise to the crucial 2C target established at the Paris climate change conference, new research has claimed. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) published its REmap report yesterday (16 March), suggesting that doubling renewable generation in the energy mix from 18% to 36% by 2030 would create substantial economic benefits that outweigh the implementation costs 15 times over.
Edie 17th March 2016 read more »
Renewables – solar
The “tampon tax” may have been grabbing the headlines, but the long-running row over VAT on solar panels may be about to steal the political limelight as it emerges that a host of Eurosceptic Tory MPs could rebel to back a Labour amendment to block a planned VAT tax rise on solar technologies.
Business Green 17th March 2016 read more »