A South Korean energy giant that was embroiled in a forgery scandal has been tapped up to invest in a new nuclear power station planned for the Cumbrian coast, writes John Collingridge. Tom Samson, chief executive of the plant’s developer, NuGen, is understood to have approached potential investors including Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) in recent weeks as its Franco-Japanese backers struggle for funds. NuGen’s owners, Engie (formerly GDF Suez) and Toshiba, aim to build a 3.8 gigawatt plant, capable of powering 6m homes, at Moorside in Sellafield. Along with Hinkley Point C in Somerset and Wylfa in Anglesey, it is one of three projects whose goal is to unblock Britain’s nuclear power logjam. But like the long-delayed Hinkley Point, finding investors prepared to fund NuGen’s £10bn-plus project is proving a challenge. The Sunday Times revealed in March that Whitehall has asked for Japanese taxpayer funds to help get Wylfa and Moorside off the ground. Rothschild, which is advising Wylfa’s Japanese backer, Hitachi, is understood to have written to the UK government to suggest it also take a stake in the Wylfa project. Stephen Lovegrove, who until March was permanent secretary at the Department of Energy & Climate Change, flew to Tokyo last month for funding talks with Japanese ministers and executives. On his way back he stopped off in Seoul for similar discussions. Kepco held talks about joining the NuGen consortium in 2013, according to reports, but no deal materialised. Japanese trading house Itochu, which owns car repair chain Kwik-Fit, is also understood to have been approached by NuGen about injecting funds.
Times 1st May 2016 read more »
A FINAL decision on funding the controversial Hinkley Point C nuclear plant will now be taken in September at the earliest, it was revealed by French economy minister Emmanuel Macron this week. And the four-month delay casts fresh doubts on whether the £18 billion project will be completed on time in 2025. Last month, the French Government said the station’s finances would finally be in place in May and last Friday it was announced that a financial bail-out for developer EDF had been agreed with the French state, its major shareholder. This involved raising £4 billion as part of a restructuring programme to make it possible to go ahead with a strategic investment plan for Hinkley C. But this week came the bombshell announcement from M Macron that EDF had agreed a 60-day consultation with unions hostile to the project to discuss costs and safety.
West Somerset Free Press 30th April 2016 read more »
The French government is planning to sell shares in some of the country’s largest companies to pay for a €3bn aid package that will help utility EDF build the controversial Hinkley Point nuclear project in the UK. People close to the discussions say that shares in Renault and Safran are likely to be sold this year, along with the airports in Nice and Lyon, in order to ensure that there will be no extra cost to taxpayers for the investments by the majority-state owned utility group. This comes as the government last week promised to provide three-quarters of the money for a €4bn capital raise by EDF this year. The group, which has a stretched balance sheet with €37bn in net debt, needs money to pay for a range of costly investments. This includes the £18bn Hinkley Point nuclear project in the UK as well as an estimated €55bn bill in the coming decade just to increase the lifespan of the country’s 58 nuclear power stations from 40 years to 50 years.
FT 1st May 2016 read more »
When Unit 4 of the VI Lenin nuclear power station exploded shortly after 1am, it sent plumes of radioactive debris, molten bitumen and chunks of graphite spewing into the Ukrainian night sky. The date was April 26, 1986, but the legacy of Chernobyl and the world’s worst nuclear accident continues to this day. At the time, it felt like a death blow for nuclear power, poisoning not just large parts of Ukraine and Belarus but also the fraught debate over the risks of nuclear energy. Some countries, such as Italy, abandoned nuclear power almost overnight. In Britain, the response was more nuanced, but the disaster did help to put the industry in a deep freeze, forcing the government to drop plans for a new fleet of reactors amid growing public hostility. Only one new reactor has been built in the UK since, at Sizewell in Suffolk. Yet 30 years after Chernobyl, Russia’s nuclear industry is making an unlikely comeback. This month, thousands of international delegates will fly into Moscow for Atomexpo 2016, a nuclear energy conference organised by Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear supplier and the same company that built Chernobyl. While EDF, the troubled French nuclear champion, faces big technical problems and delays with its EPR reactor, earmarked for Hinkley Point in Britain, Rosatom has been stealing a march on rivals and building up its order book. It now has orders for new nuclear plants worth $101 billion in Russia and other countries, including Vietnam, China, India, Bangladesh, Belarus and Hungary. It is also making inroads into western Europe, with a new reactor planned for Finland, where a botched rival project involving EDF is running billions of euros over budget and years behind schedule. Rosatom has signed deals with Egypt and Argentina and others are planned for South Africa and Jordan. In total, Rosatom claims to be building 41 reactors around the world, 37 per cent of the global total.
Times 2nd May 2016 read more »
Twenty workers at the The Hanford Site nuclear facility in Washington state were sent for medical evaluations after inhaling chemical vapors in the vicinity of a leaking nuclear waste tank which was being transferred, according to US Energy Department officials. Hanford tank workers were performing routine tasks at the vast nuclear waste site when they all started complaining of headaches on Thursday before being sent for medical evaluations, according to local news station KING.
Russia Today 30th April 2016 read more »
Leonard Brookes, who has died aged 96, was chief economist with the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) in the 1970s and a prominent advocate of nuclear energy. In later years, while continuing to champion nuclear power, he emerged as a “climate sceptic” who rejected the notion that climate change can necessarily be attributed to man’s use of fossil fuels. He gave evidence to a House of Lords Committee on the subject and in 2004 produced a detailed study showing the unsuitability of wind farms as elements in national electricity supply, arguing that wind energy had little relevance to a programme of reducing carbon emissions. He was probably best known, however, for his scepticism about the claimed benefits to energy conservation of measures to improve energy efficiency, his contention being that measures to raise energy efficiency at an individual, microeconomic level, go hand in hand with increases in energy consumption at a macroeconomic level.
Telegraph 1st May 2016 read more »