The only British company in the running to build a new generation of atomic power plants has threatened to pull out due to uncertainty over the governments energy policy a move that could imperil the countrys nuclear renaissance. Executives at Centrica, which is planning to build a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset in a joint venture with EDF Energy, have warned Whitehall officials that the plan hangs by a thread and could be scrapped if the company does not receive assurances about the future price of nuclear-generated electricity. A decision by Centrica to pull out would also present a dilemma for EDF Energy, subsidiary of the French state-run electricity group EDF, which would have to decide whether to shoulder the huge costs of building nuclear plants in the UK on its own or seek another partner. Some of the governments reforms, which were first unveiled in a white paper last summer, will be set out in next months Queens Speech. One element is long-term contracts that would guarantee a steady rate of return over the lifetime of a new plant so-called contracts for difference.
FT 20th April 2012 more >>
David Cameron is to make a keynote speech on Thursday at Lancaster House, telling an august group of 23 international energy ministers that the coalition is committed to a green future in which Britain no longer relies on fossil fuels. But the prime ministers vision will be undermined by Centricas warning on Saturday that it could pull out of its joint venture to build nuclear plants in the UK. Greenpeace the environmental group which campaigns against nuclear power called on the government to urgently deliver a Plan B involving more renewable energy. Despite successive governments bending over backwards to make the business case stack up, the nuclear dream is failing, said John Sauven, its executive director.
FT 20th April 2012 more >>
Centrica is willing to walk away from building new power stations in Britain because of uncertainty over the Governments energy policy. The group is the only British company in the running to build a new generation of nuclear power plants but will not proceed unless it is guaranteed an acceptable price for the electricity that they would produce. Centrica, which plans to build a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset in a joint venture with EDF Energy, has told government officials that it would be difficult to make such a big investment without being confident of the returns it would bring. The plants are expected to cost more than £6 billion each. The Government has said that it would guarantee long-term prices for electricity from certain sources, which could include nuclear, in order to encourage investment. A move to support new nuclear facilities by guaranteeing high prices would be criticised by anti-nuclear campaigners, who would view the arrangement as a subsidy through bills.
Times 21st April 2012 more >>
Ed Davey: Liberal Democrats were at pains in the negotiations for the coalition to insist that if nuclear power stations were to be built in the UK that there should be no public subsidy. This position was reiterated by Chris Huhne in a statement to the House of Commons on October 18th 2010 as reported in his article on Lib Dem Voice. So I would like to allay Fiona Hall concerns expressed on Lib Dem Voice yesterday by clarifying that there has been absolutely no change in this position.
Lib Dem Voive 20th April 2012 more >>
Ministers are planning to subsidise nuclear power through electricity bills despite their promises not to, a secret document seen by the Guardian reveals. The leaked document clearly lays out plans to use “contracts for difference” for nuclear energy, which would allow nuclear operators to reap higher prices for their energy than fossil fuel power stations. The plans will further inflame rows over energy policy and cause a political furore for the Liberal Democrats, who fought the general election firmly opposing an expansion of nuclear power. Fiona Hall, leader of the Lib Dem group in the European parliament with a special interest in energy, said she now had no doubt that the contract for difference was a subsidy. “Industry on all sides believe this is a subsidy.” She wants the UK court of auditors as well as the European commission to give a legal ruling on the issue and believes any subsidy runs against the coalition agreement. In a blog posted on the Liberal Democrat Voice website she calls on fellow party members to “speak out” against nuclear subsidies. The Guardian has also seen a presentation made by Scottish & Southern Energy to MPs last month, saying the plans contain “hidden subsidies”, will be open to challenge on legal grounds, and could “mess up” funding for renewables.
Guardian 20th April 2012 more >>
A Government submission to the European Commission shows that subsidies introduced as part of electricity market reform will help not only renewables such as wind and solar power but all low-carbon technology, which includes nuclear. By failing to single out renewable energies the Government is effectively allowing the nuclear industry to claim the same sort of public help. Both parties went into the election saying no subsidy for nuclear but thats exactly what this is, said Greenpeace. It is OK to give developing technologies such as renewables support but nuclear is a mature technology that does not deserve a subsidy. They have had 60 years of development why should they continue to get bill payers money?
Telegraph 21st April 2012 more >>
All mainstream political parties have committed to not providing public subsidy for nuclear power. But energy companies will not build them without a hefty subsidy. So instead of taking full advantage of the UKs excellent potential for renewable energy and investing in energy efficiency, ministers have been looking at how to transfer the spiralling cost of delivering nuclear power to taxpayers and consumers. This may be illegal under European law. And one of the energy companies has warned that it risks damaging investment in renewable energy. But despite the governments best efforts, the nuclear dream is fast turning into a nightmare. Its time for energy secretary Ed Davey to admit that the governments nuclear dream is failing. Hes now faced with a future of more imported gas, higher energy bills and higher greenhouse gas emissions. That would be unpopular with bill payers and bad for efforts to curb climate change. The government could ditch nuclear, reign back on gas and start taking advantage of the UKs potential for investment in clean, renewable energy. They could put large scale energy efficiency, as well as renewable energy, at the heart of this years electricity market reforms. Its not too late for a plan B, but time is running out. Ed Davey needs to step up and deliver.
Greenpeace 20th April 2012 more >>
The fourth in a series of Briefings, written by Tony Juniper, Jonathon Porritt and Charles Secrett and me, is released today. The fourth Briefing, The Wider Economic Impacts of Nuclear Power, can be downloaded here, and focusses on: Costs; the European Single Market; Carbon Leakage; Impact on the UK Jobs Market; Job Generation.
Tom Burke 19th April 2012 more >>
The consultative planning process employed in many Western countries may be acting to slow down the progress and increase the costs of large-scale developments, even when they are in the wider national interest.
Nuclear Engineering International 20th April 2012 more >>
The Government should take a bigger role in ensuring Britains planned new nuclear power stations go ahead, a trade union has said. The GMB has called for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) the public sector body in charge of cleaning up former nuclear sites to be renamed the Nuclear Development Authority and asked to lead the companies behind plans for a new fleet of reactors. The call comes following the withdrawal of German energy giants RWE and E.ON from the Horizon consortium which plans to build a new power station in Wales.
Cumberland News 20th April 2012 more >>
Westinghouse has entered into an agreement with Missouri-based utility Ameren Missouri to jointly solicit US Department of Energy funding to license and build the Westinghouse SMR at the Callaway nuclear power plant site in Missouri. The Westinghouse SMR is a 225-MWe integral pressurized water reactor (PWR), with all primary components located inside of the reactor vessel. It utilizes passive safety systems and modular construction techniques. The DOE issued a funding opportunity announcement March 22 noting the availability of investment funds of up to $452 million to develop small, modular reactors or SMRs. The DOE plans to consider SMR applications that incorporate passive safety features and that can be licensed expeditiously, achieving a commercial operation date on a US domestic site by 2022.
i-Nuclear 20th April 2012 more >>
The leader of Sedgemoor District Council has thanked Bridgwater Town Council for helping to meet its legal costs over plans to build a £10bn nuclear power station. The district council approved an outline document yesterday (Thursday), which the will form the basis of a final document to be jointly submitted with West Somerset Council and Somerset CC next month. The local impact report will examine plans by the French energy giant EDF to build a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point.
Local Gov 20th April 2012 more >>
I CAN’T be the only resident of North Wales that feels a sense of unease that the Russian state nuclear authority is seeking to build a power station at Wylfa. The good citizens of Ynys Môn have already experienced one meltdown when their local council suffered a level seven systems failure. As a result, the Welsh Government had to scramble an emergency team in order to decontaminate decision making at Llangefni. An exclusion zone is still in place around the island’s ballot boxes. The sight of Russians wielding modified engineering drawings is hardly going to help public confidence in the future of the island. After all, before the Soviet nuclear authority got involved, Chernobyl was a sleepy backwater known only to students of Ukrainian railways.
Liverpool Daily Post 20th April 2012 more >>
The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) has published its latest policy briefing. It outlines initial concerns over the decision to start moving by road and sea radioactively contaminated heat exchangers from the decommissioned former Magnox reactor at Berkeley, Gloucestershire to a site in Nykoping, Sweden for decontamination and recycling.
NFLA Press Release 17th April 2012 more >>
The quality of concrete in a nuclear plant is crucial. Building a new generation of nuclear reactors in the UK will require a specialist approach to concrete and careful consideration of supplying material to manage project risks.
Construction Index 20th April 2012 more >>
Labour is considering organising the bulk purchase of cheap electricity to sell at a discount in a move designed to help squeezed households and show that the party is focused on more than just winning elections, Ed Miliband has told the Guardian. The initiative is being studied by the Labour leader after being urged on the party by the American community activist Arnie Graf, who is advising him on how to revitalise the party’s culture. Miliband said: “It is an outstanding idea. It might involve working with, or emulating what [the activist organisation] 38 degrees and Which? magazine are trying to do, which is to sign up people to bulk buy energy from the energy companies.
Guardian 20th April 2012 more >>
Fukushima update 17th to 19th April.
Greenpeace International 20th April 2012 more >>
Japan is set to have no nuclear power within weeks for the first time in over 40 years following last year’s crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which crushed public trust in nuclear power and prevented the restart of reactors shut for regular maintenance checks. The poll, taken alongside the monthly Reuters Tankan company sentiment survey, showed only 15 per cent of firms want an early restart for idled reactors, while 72 per cent said safety should be the key priority – despite the impact the loss of power could have on their businesses.
Engineering & Technology 20th April 2012 more >>
French power group Electricite de France SA (EDF.FR) may have to wait as much as three months before it can restart one of its French nuclear reactors that was halted after a fire occurred at its Penly plant, in Northern France, French business daily Les Echos reports Friday.
Dow Jones 20th April 2012 more >>
Greeces plan to dig its way out of its financial hole by becoming Europes solar powerhouse may be starting to work. Global photovoltaics developer SDL Solar plans to design and build 23 MW of utility-scale solar photovoltaic plants in Greece as part of a wider plan to develop 100 MW of solar capacity across the country. SDL Solar says it has very large plans for the Greek solar market and is working on three initial projects as a pilot for the implementation of a much larger portfolio.
Energy Efficiency News 20th April 2012 more >>
Letter: Amid all the talk of Iran is aiming to equip itself with nuclear weapons (Report, 14 April), it seems too often ignored that the one Middle East country that indisputably has nuclear weapons is Israel. The person who, in 1986, produced the conclusive evidence for Israel having these weapons was Mordechai Vanunu. For this “crime” he has suffered 26 years loss of freedom: 18 years in prison 12 of these in solitary confinement followed by eight years of being forced to live in Israel against his wishes, under stringent limitations on his freedom of movement, speech and association. If an Iranian scientist came forward with firm evidence that Iran was secretly equipping itself with nuclear weapons this would be regarded as a brave act worthy of praise not punishment; surely Mordechai’s identical action in relation to Israel’s nuclear weapons should be regarded in a similar light?
Guardian 20th April 2012 more >>
Jeremy Corbyn MP: Last Tuesday I asked the foreign secretary about progress towards the establishment of a nuclear weapons-free Middle East, as a vital component of ensuring peace in the region. The reply was: “We have no chance of achieving a nuclear-free Middle East as long as Iran persists in a programme that the world suspects is a nuclear military programme.” Of course, this programme – one that is ‘suspected’ by Hague, but not confirmed – is not the real stumbling block in establishing a new nuclear-free zone, but Israel’s already- existing arsenal.
Politics.co.uk 20th April 2012 more >>
Canada’s Candu Energy, a unit of SNC-Lavalin Group, is in talks with the Turkish government to build a nuclear power plant with a 3,000 megawatt installed capacity on the Black Sea coast.
Reuters 20th April 2012 more >>
This weeks Micro Power News available, as Government gets itself into a mess over the Green Deal.
Microgen Scotland 20th April 2012 more >>