EDF Energy has insisted it will take a decision to go ahead with new reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset but was unwilling to say exactly when despite being pressed by exasperated MPs. The French government, which owns 85% of EDF, has previously said it was aiming for the start of May but Vincent de Rivaz, the chief executive of the UK arm of EDF, was unwilling to set a timescale. “I can’t give you this morning a precise date. I just have to give the one provided by the [French] economics ministry,” said de Rivaz after repeated requests to name a date by MPs on the energy and climate change select committee. A succession of expert witnesses at the select committee hearing lined up to pan the Hinkley project saying it should be scrapped for costing too much.Peter Atherton, a utility analyst with Jefferies investment bank, said the French had got a “great, great deal” from the UK bill paper via the government’s subsidy regime, adding “once it’s operational that power station is going to be gold”. Simon Taylor, a specialist in nuclear financing and a lecturer at Cambridge University, said Hinkley “looks poor value for money” and it would be best if the French government pulled the plug on it. Doug Parr, policy director from Greenpeace, said there were cheaper and cleaner ways of meeting energy security and carbon targets via renewable energy and storage. “If it is built, it will be an act of political will of the UK and French governments … [it was now] beyond any commercial logic.”
Guardian 23rd March 2016 read more »
Construction News Briefing 23rd March 2016 read more »
Reuters 23rd March 2016 read more »
Western Daily Press 23rd March 2016 read more »
FT 23rd March 2016 read more »
In at times farcical scenes, Mr de Rivaz instead said MPs were making a “very reasonable assumption” that it should be by mid-May. Asked by Conservative MP James Heappey why it was “reasonable for us to assume it but not reasonable for you to just say it”, Mr de Rivaz responded: “I am very pleased to give you the privilege to make the assumption and to draw the right conclusion as you have done.”
Telegraph 23rd March 2016 read more »
MPs today grilled EDF Energy supremo Vincent de Rivaz over the troubled Hinkley C nuclear plant in Somerset. He insisted that the project was definitely going ahead – but refused to say when the ‘final investment decision’ was due. Confused? Bewildered? Frustrated? So were the MPs. But one thing is clear as day. The Hinkley C project is grossly, monstrously uneconomic and the only way it can be financed is with massive public subsidies and preferential ‘investments’ from the French, British and Chinese governments. No genuinely private investor is willing to put up a penny.
Ecologist 23rd March 2016 read more »
The Hinkley Point C nuclear project in the UK will “clearly and categorically” go ahead with a final investment decision at the beginning of May, EDF Energy chief executive officer Vincent de Rivaz told a parliamentary committee in London today. EDF Energy chief executive officer Vincent de Rivaz
NucNet 23rd March 2016 read more »
Should an indebted French utility company invest in the construction of the world’s priciest nuclear reactors at Britain’s Hinkley Point? France has said its energy giant EDF will make a final decision in early May.
Deutsche Welle 23rd March 2016 read more »
“I will start by saying clearly and categorically that Hinkley Point C will go ahead,” declared Vincent de Rivaz, the chief executive of EDF Energy, the UK end of the French state-owned company that is supposed to be building the £18bn nuclear plant in Somerset. So that’s a definite yes? Not exactly. It’s a definite maybe because, as de Rivaz was obliged to concede in the next breath to MPs on the energy select committee, he cannot say when an investment decision will be made. That is because events are out of his and EDF’s hands. Everything depends on the willingness of the French government to bail out an overindebted company that already faces the costly challenge of upgrading France’s nuclear generating capacity. The French economy minister, Emmanuel Macron, this week floated the notion of supplying the funds and making a final investment decision on Hinkley in early May, but it was unclear whether this “deadline” has any greater force than the others that have come and gone. The best thing the UK government could do, as argued here for ages, is to call the whole thing off and write a better energy policy for the 2020s. EDF’s European pressurised reactor model is unproven and the versions under construction in Finland and France are nine and six years behind schedule respectively. Not only this, but the cost of Hinkley is hideous for future UK consumers. The chancellor, George Osborne, unwisely attached too much of his personal political capital to Hinkley. But even he should realise that this farce cannot be prolonged beyond May. Set a deadline and stick to it.
Guardian 23rd March 2016 read more »
Angus MacNeil MP, chair of the Commons Energy and Climate Change committee, tells Sky’s Ian King his view on evidence given by EDF’s UK boss Vincent de Rivaz over its much-delayed announcement to give the go-ahead for the nuclear plant.
Sky News 23rd March 2016 read more »
Molly has endorsed the views of leading energy experts who have called for the Hinkley C nuclear project to be scrapped. The group told MPs on the Energy and Climate Change committee today that Hinkley is ‘very bad value for money’, and it was time to ‘pull the plug’ on the deal.
Mollt Scott Cato MEP 23rd March 2016 read more »
Small Nuclear Reactors
Fans of small modular reactors (SMRs) say they will avoid the problems of delay and cost over-run that has beset traditional reactors. Most importantly, they say, “mini-nukes” as small as a tenth the size of a conventional reactor would be much easier to finance. There are two catches. First, there’s still no solution (in the UK at least) to what to do with the nuclear waste. The government appears willing to go ahead with new nukes without knowing what happens to spent fuel and contaminated equipment. Second, no-one has actually built an SMR yet, and it’s likely to take until the 2030s or 2040s before SMRs are widespread and making a real contribution to hitting carbon emission targets. According to John Sauven of Greenpeace there’s a high risk it will take longer than predicted to bring small scale nuclear on-stream. “Remember the nuclear industry promised in the 1950s that it would deliver energy too cheap to meter,” he says. “Since then it’s been completely overtaken by wind and solar energy which are much safer, reliable and cheaper. “With nuclear it’s always jam tomorrow. We’ve got to decarbonise the energy industry now.” Other critics warn that renewables and energy storage are progressing so fast that the energy industry won’t need the sort of round the clock “baseload” power produced by nuclear in the medium term future.
BBC 23rd March 2016 read more »
BBC 23rd March 2016 read more »
The Swedish nuclear regulator has said it believes the country’s radioactive waste management company can meet all the safety and radiation protection requirements for its planned used nuclear fuel encapsulation plant next to the Clab interim storage facility in Oskarshamn. Svensk Kärnbränslehantering AB (SKB) submitted applications to build the country’s first repository for used nuclear fuel, together with a plant to encapsulate the fuel prior to disposal, to Sweden’s Radiation Safety Authority (Strålsäkerhetsmyndigheten, SSM) in March 2011. The integrated facility – the encapsulation plant and the Clab interim storage facility – is referred to in SKB’s application as Clink. SKB has since made both clarifications and additions to the applications. The company has also submitted an application to extend the storage capacity of the Clab facility from the current 8000 tonnes of fuel to 11,000 tonnes.
World Nuclear News 23rd March 2016 read more »
The prospect of Isis or another terror group with the “technical know-how” obtaining nuclear weapons is “obviously a concern”, the Defence Secretary has said, as the Government considered its response to the deadly terror attacks in Brussels. Michael Fallon stressed the importance of ensuring terror groups could not “get their hands on nuclear weapons” and said the UK was doing its part by maintaining strict export controls on the necessary technology. Responding to questions following a speech on the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons system, Mr Fallon said: “It is obviously a concern that we will see non-state actors with the finance and perhaps some of the technical know-how seeking to get hold of nuclear weapons.
Independent 24th March 2016 read more »
The Brussels terrorist gang were preparing an attack on a nuclear power plant and had recorded 12 hours of reconnaissance footage, it has been reported. The ISIS cell were spying on the Belgian’s nuclear power chief, possibly as part of a kidnap plan to force him to let them into an atomic facility.
Daily Mail 24th March 2016 read more »
The cat and mouse surveillance of the two Barrow-based nuclear ships Pacific Heron and Pacific Egret entered its penultimate stage yesterday when a consignment of plutonium was loaded onto the Pacific Egret in the tiny nuclear port of Tokai Mura on 22nd March. Dashing officialdom’s best efforts to keep the loading – and indeed the ships’ entire voyage from Barrow-in-Furness via the Panama Canal to Japan and onward to the USA – under wraps, the loading of at least seven containers on 22nd March was watched and filmed by local NGO’s and Japanese media crews with helicopters who reported that, along with 331 kgs of plutonium, a consignment of Highly Enrished Uranium (HEU) may also have been loaded.
CORE 23rd March 2016 read more »
Britain faces an “electric shock” costing consumers at least £500m a year if it leaves the EU, the energy secretary will claim on Thursday. Amber Rudd will invoke the threat of Russia blocking gas supplies to Europe and the risk of losing billions of pounds of EU investment to urge voters to reject a departure from the EU in the June 23 Brexit referendum. “Being in the EU helps us attract billions and billions of pounds of investment in our energy system and supply chain,” she will tell employees at the Britned electricity interconnector in Kent that links the UK with the Netherlands. “Taken together, this investment helps support 660,000 jobs in the UK’s energy sector. Does anybody really think all of that investment would continue if we left the EU, and with no extra costs?”
FT 23rd March 2016 read more »
Amid the complicated real-life equations and compromises – where science and politics meet to figure out the viability of nuclear energy – the long, deep, human parable of Chernobyl is often lost. That story is partly embodied in an unlikely community of some 100 people, called ‘self-settlers’ who, today, live inside the Chernobyl exclusion zone. Almost all of them are women. The men having died off due to overuse of alcohol and cigarettes, if not the effects of elevated radiation. The women, now in their 70s and 80s, are the last of a group of some 1,200 people who defied authorities – and it would seem, common sense – and illegally returned to their ancestral homes shortly after the accident.
Chatham House 23rd March 2016 read more »
German utilities may have to make hefty payments on top of provisions made to cover the costs of storing nuclear waste, three members of a commission responsible for safeguarding the funds told Reuters on Tuesday. The country’s four biggest power utilities, comprising E.ON , RWE, EnBW and the German business of Sweden’s Vattenfall, have set aside about 39 billion euros ($44 billion) to finance the dismantling of nuclear stations and storage of contaminated components. Fearing that utilities could buckle under the weight of the financial burden and fail to come up with the funds, Berlin has set up a commission to protect the money, most likely through a government-controlled fund to cover storage operations, the most complex element of the country’s nuclear exit. About 17.3 billion euros will be needed just to cover interim and long-term storage and the commission sources said that a surcharge of between 30 percent and 100 percent of that amount is being discussed.
Reuters 22nd March 2016 read more »
Case for retention of nuclear deterrent.
MoD 23rd March 2016 read more »
Europe’s once world-beating clean technology industry has fallen into a rapid decline, with investment in low-carbon energy last year plummeting to its lowest level in a decade. The plunge in European fortunes comes as renewable energy is burgeoning around the world, with China in particular investing heavily. As recently as 2010, Europe made up 45% of global clean energy investment, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), which examines the sector. But after peaking at $132bn in 2011, investment in the EU plunged by more than half, to 18% of the global total, or $58bn, in 2015. Michael Liebreich, chairman of the BNEF board, said the global financial crisis and its aftermath were to blame only in part. “Europe’s failure to respond [to the crisis was a factor and] global investors, scared about the survival of the euro, had plenty of reason to hesitate about putting money into euro-dominated clean energy projects,” he said. But he also pointed to mistakes made by policymakers in member states, which he said had created a “boom-bust” cycle by initially showing strong support for renewables then rapidly rowing back as they feared the expense of successful subsidies.
Guardian 23rd March 2016 read more »
Renewables – Hydro
All UK hydroelectric projects with planning permission are in Scotland, according to research by Scottish Renewables. The group said a total of 27 projects with a combined capacity of 58.5MW have planning permission, with 14 schemes totalling 26.8MW under construction in the UK – all in Scotland. The study comes after news earlier this month that two community-scale hydropower plants in the Scottish Highlands have secured nearly £5 million investment from the Green Investment Bank.
Utility Week 24th March 2016 read more »
Scotland will on Thursday witness an end to the coal age which fired its industrial revolution with the closure of Longannet power station. The symbolic switch off is an important step towards a lower carbon Britain but is another blow to energy security. The Fife-based plant – the biggest of its kind in Britain – has been generating electricity for a quarter of Scottish homes for almost half a century but has bowed to a mixture of old age, rising transmission costs and higher taxes on carbon. Over 230 direct jobs and an estimated 1,000 indirect ones could be hit by the decision from Spanish-owned utility, Scottish Power, to switch off the last generator at the 2,400 mega watt capacity plant. “Coal has long been the dominant force in Scotland’s electricity generation fleet, but the closure of Longannet signals the end of an era,” said Hugh Finlay, generation director at ScottishPower.
Guardian 24th March 2016 read more »
BBC 24th March 2016 read more »
FT 24th March 2016 read more »
Scotsman 24th March 2016 read more »
Herald 24th March 2016 read more »
Richard Dixon: When the steam turbines at Longannet power station cease to turn at the end of this month there will be no coal being burned for electricity production anywhere in Scotland for the first time in at least 115 years. For a country which virtually invented the Industrial Revolution, this will be a hugely significant step, the beginning of the end for fossil fuels in Scotland. We failed to have a planned transition when deep coal mining collapsed in the 1980s. We failed again in the 1990s with the closure of most of Scotland’s heavy industries. A lesson from Longannet is that we should recognise the writing on the wall for North Sea oil and gas and start now to plan an orderly transfer of skilled workers and investment from oil and gas to renewable energy and energy efficiency, and at the same time show an international lead on climate change.
Herald 23rd March 2016 read more »
The Scot-Govt. has today given the go-ahead for construction and operation of a gas fired combined heat and power (CHP) plant at BP’s Kinneil Terminal at Grangemouth. The terminal is adjacent to the INEOS Grangemouth petrochemical complex and processes approximately 40% of the North Sea crude oil production which is brought to the site via the Forties pipeline system. The Kinneil Terminal requires steam for heat energy to drive the necessary oil separation processes and the new plant will meet those requirements.
Scottish Energy News 23rd March 2016 read more »
The National 24th March 2016 read more »
The British government has ‘not closed the door’ on UK carbon-capture projects or technology and – instead – said that CCS has a potentially important role to play in the’ long-term decarbonisation of the UK’s industrial and power sectors.’ And junior UK energy minister Andrea Leadsom – who is a strong supporter of British Independence from the EU – added: “We recognise that CCS could be crucial to the long-term competitiveness and decarbonisation of energy intensive industries such as steel and the longevity of North Sea industries, which are a vital part of our economy. “However, we know that currently CCS costs are high and must come down. “This is why we are committed to working with industry to bring forward innovative ideas for reducing the costs of this potentially important technology.”
Scottish Energy News 24th March 2016 read more »