John Sauven: George Osborne’s reputation as a master political tactician may have gone the way of Leave’s £350m a week for the NHS, but the spectre of his misguided energy policy could haunt Britain for decades, and at Hinkley in north Somerset, for millennia. Theresa May’s government urgently need to seize the opportunity to minimise the damage, an opportunity which only lasts while her government can portray them as the last regime’s errors, and disown them. This week we learned that the UK has lost 12,000 jobs in the solar industry. This economic disaster was due to Osborne’s ideologically driven subsidy cuts to what was a vibrant and growing sector of the economy. The ideology in question was not opposition to state subsidies, of course. Hinkley C has now become so uneconomic that it has been condemned in editorials in the normally pro-nuclear Times, Telegraph and Mail, and many EDF executives and employees think it might be a bad enough plan to completely destroy the state-owned utility. On Thursday EDF’s board will make a widely trailed decision on whether to proceed with this “investment”. After years of delay, this unseemly hurry looks a bit like panic. To be clear, the Hinkley subsidies are not bungs to power brokers or inexplicable government largesse; Hinkley’s problems are so severe and so numerous that it requires potentially illegally high levels of state support in order for it to be built. Listing them all – the legal risks, the engineering risks, the liability risks, the credit risks, the safety risks – would take so long there would probably be some new ones before I’d finished. But they all spring from a reactor design, which has so far proved impossible to make work, and has even been described as “unconstructable” by an engineering professor. One of the few arguments Hinkley’s defenders had left was that offshore wind, a technology that has the potential for huge amounts of power, but has received a tiny fraction of nuclear’s research and development outlay in both time and money terms, was still more expensive than Hinkley. However, even this last advantage has now evaporated. The NAO has claimed this month that new offshore wind would actually be cheaper than new nuclear energy, a claim confirmed by Danish firm Dong Energy building two offshore windfarms for €72.70 (£61.10) a megawatt hour, compared to Hinkley’s £92.50.
Guardian 27th July 2016 read more »
EDF shareholders have signed off on a €4bn equity fundraising to help pay for the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant in Somerset, southern England — a project that the company expects to approve on Thursday. Investors agreed to the financing package on Tuesday, with the French state, which owns 85 per cent of the indebted company, agreeing to subscribe to €3bn-worth of the new shares. EDF’s agreement paves the way for its board to make the long-delayed final investment decision on the £18bn nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point.
FT 26th July 2016 read more »
Burnham-on-sea.com 27th July 2016 read more »
Reuters 26th July 2016 read more »
One third of the £18bn capital costs of the project are being met by Chinese investors, but Hinkley Point remains an enormous undertaking for the stressed French company and has been criticised by French unions. he UK government has guaranteed a price of £92.50 per megawatt hour of electricity – more than twice the current cost – for the electricity Hinkley produces for 35 years. Wholesale energy prices have fallen since the price was agreed, leaving the government to make up the difference. The UK’s National Audit Office estimated future top-up payments would rise from £6.1bn to £29.7bn over the length of the contract.
BBC 27th July 2016 read more »
The six labor-union representatives sitting on EDF’s 18-member board have repeatedly opposed the project. They wanted to see it delayed by three years to give EDF time to complete the construction of similar reactors in France, Finland and China, which are several years behind schedule. The company’s works council secretary, Jean-Luc Magnaval, told the news agency Reuters that his union had filed a complaint on the matter with a Paris court, which has scheduled a hearing on the case for August 2. A variety of Generation 4 reactor designs, which engineers hope will be more inherently safe and more cost-efficient than previous generations, are in various stages of prototype development, but none are expected to be commercially available before about 2030 or 2040. By that time, however, renewable energy technologies and battery storage systems may have attained such a low cost that construction of new nuclear power stations may prove a tough sell financially. That’s already the case for the Hinkley Point C project and for EDF’s other three existing EPR reactor projects around the world, all of which have proven to be far more expensive than optimistic early estimates, and very likely none of which would be getting built had they not been supported by heavy government subsidies.
Deutsche Welle 26th July 2016 read more »
Ahead of an expected Final Investment Decision (FID) by EDF’s Board on Thursday (28th July) Stop Hinkley has written to the new Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark, to ask him to stamp his own mark on energy policy by ditching proposals for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C. Allan Jeffery said: “If the Company does indeed make a positive Final Investment Decision on Thursday it will be little more than EDF spin. The largely French Government-owned company has a long list of problems to sort out before construction can begin. EDF says there will no concrete poured until at least mid-2019 and this will depend on the start-up of the EPR (the European Pressurised Reactor) at Flamanville, scheduled for the end of 2018 – six years late.”
Stop Hinkley 26th July 2016 read more »
A group of campaigners are calling on the government to ditch the new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C (HPC) in Somerset. Called ‘Stop Hinkley’, the group has sent a letter to Business, Energy and Industry Strategy Secretary Greg Clark ahead of a final investment decision for the project by EDF’s Board on Thursday. They say a final investment decision for Hinkley would be “little more than spin as problems mount for nuclear delusion”. They believe the nuclear project is too expensive, will kill British manufacturing, is bad for consumers, the taxpayer, business and potentially the environment and is a total waste of money. Renewable energy and energy efficiency projects could be implemented very quickly and much more cheaply, they added.
Energy Live News 26th July 2016 read more »
The board of EDF meets in Paris on Thursday morning to discuss its long-planned investment in a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset, southwest England. There is speculation that the meeting will come to a definitive decision after years of delay. If the outcome is to go ahead, the French company has work to do in rebuilding trust. So what should investors and consumers be looking for? If this is to be a serious commitment by EDF we should at get answers to at least some of the doubts and concerns. First, we should expect to see the publication in full of the expert assessments made of the problems that have bedevilled the two EPR reactors under construction at Olkiluoto in Finland and Flamanville in Northern France. Olkiluoto was originally supposed to come on stream in 2009 and, according to the Finns, the costs of the delay now amount to some €2.6bn. Flamanville will be six years late at least and is already €7.3bn over budget. Trust in the technology has to be restored. Publication of the reports on what went wrong in both cases will demonstrate that lessons are being learnt and that EDF has remembered its commitment to transparency. Second, we should expect to see the contract for Hinkley published in full. This will be another important step in rebuilding trust. Consumers, French and British taxpayers, the company’s employees and investors — including shareholders in EDF, who have seen the company lose more than 60 per cent of its value over the last two years — need to know in detail who will be carrying the risks associated with the project. If construction is delayed, for instance,who pays any extra cost, and who will compensate consumers for the investment required to find alternative power supplies? The French government as the ultimate owner of EDF has seen these details. So has the Chinese government as a major investor. Consumers and non-government shareholders will be pleased to be brought into the circle of knowledge. Third, we should expect to see a detailed explanation of who is funding the construction phase of the project over the next decade. There are numerous estimates of the total cost of the project ranging from £18bn to £37bn but even the lowest figure would make Hinkley the most expensive nuclear station ever built. The sum dwarfs the resources of EDF itself, which has a current market capitalisation of just €21bn Euros. The company’s credit rating has recently been downgraded by Moodys and the outlook remains negative. The risks to the company have already provoked the resignation of the former finance director Thomas Piquemal. Any further French (or UK) government funding would raise more state aid issues in Europe. A proper financing plan is obviously critical to a final investment decision and will help to restore market confidence in the current leadership of EDF. Fourth, we should expect to see a clear and absolute commitment to deliver the project by 2025, as repeatedly promised in recent months by EDF’s leadership in the UK. The UK has to plan its energy supplies and the two reactors at Hinkley are due to provide 7 per cent of total requirements. Any further delay would require alternatives to be found, and soon. One hopes Thursday’s announcement will sweep aside all doubts and we will be able to look forward to cooking our Christmas turkeys in 2025 on Hinkley power. All this, of course, assumes that there really will be a decision on Thursday rather than yet another postponement. The EDF board could decide that there are still too many unresolved problems associated with the EPR and that the risks to the company’s future are too high. As the French proverb has it: Qui mal commence, mal achève.
FT 26th Feb 2016 read more »
As our one-time columnist has departed for Number Ten, we highlight some of the ideas advanced by the man described in today’s papers as the Prime Minister’s ‘political brain’. During Xi’s visit to London, the two governments will sign deals giving Chinese state-owned companies stakes in the British nuclear power stations planned for Hinkley Point in Somerset and Sizewell in Suffolk. It is believed that the deals could lead to the Chinese designing and constructing a third nuclear reactor at Bradwell in Essex. Security experts – reportedly inside as well as outside government – are worried that the Chinese could use their role to build weaknesses into computer systems which will allow them to shut down Britain’s energy production at will. “For those who believe that such an eventuality is unlikely, the Chinese National Nuclear Corporation – one of the state-owned companies involved in the plans for the British nuclear plants – says on its website that it is responsible not just for “increasing the value of state assets and developing the society” but the “building of national defence.” MI5 believes that “the intelligence services of…China…continue to work against UK interests at home and abroad.”” – October 2015 Compromising our security for the sake of trade is a fool’s bargain.
Conservative Home 15th July 2016 read more »
The cost of power from offshore wind turbines is now cheaper than the energy to be generated by the nuclear power plant planned for Hinkley Point in the UK, according to an Energydesk analysis. As French firm EDF prepares to make its final investment decision on the controversial project,Danish renewables company Dong has bid to build windfarms off the Dutch coast for record-breakingly small amounts. The agreed strike price of €72.5/MWh (or roughly £60 at current exchange rates) would would mean an estimated £85/MWh including transmission costs, and no more than £92 taking into account the ‘balancing costs’ to cover for the energy’s intermittency — the government has argued Hinkley offers value because it runs continuously. It’s worth noting that this is far cheaper than the offshore wind projects in the pipeline in the UK, though the upcoming subsidy auction is expected to deliver far better deals than the £110+ contracts agreed in early 2015.
Energydesk 27th July 2016 read more »
Unions members at EDF launched a last ditch attempt to derail plans to build a nuclear power plant in Britain, amid fears over whether the French utility giant’s balance sheet can stomach the £18bn project. It comes as EDF board members prepare to consider the final investment decision for Hinkley Point C at a meeting on Thursday. EDF works council secretary, Jean-Luc Magnaval, told Reuters that it had filed a complaint with a Paris court, and a hearing on the case is due to take place 2 August. “We demand a suspension of the decision,” Magnaval said.
City AM 26th July 2016 read more »
A nuclear power project that could create some 9,000 construction jobs should only go ahead if its cost are competitive with renewable energy, MPs have said. The Welsh affairs committee said the £10bn Wylfa Newydd power station was important to the Isle of Anglesey’s economic future but should be built only “if the strike price is below that agreed for Hinkley Point C and competitive with renewable sources”, citing a lack of public confidence in the costs and safety of nuclear power.
Construction News 26th July 2016 read more »
The proposed 2,700 MW Wylfa Newydd nuclear power plant in North Wales should be built only if the strike price is below that agreed for EDF’s planned 3,200 MW Hinkley Point C plant, a UK parliamentary committee said Tuesday, voicing concerns of soaring nuclear plant construction costs. The report noted the UK national government’s desire to become a leader in the construction of small modular reactors, or SMRs, and suggested that the Trawsfynydd nuclear decommissioning site in Wales would be an “ideal” location for any UK SMR. Although “SMRs are not certain to be a source of low-cost power, they are an option worth exploring,” the committee said, adding that development of SMRs in the UK could support the creation of a nuclear supply chain and create jobs. “Due to its previous use as a nuclear power station, it already has available grid connections, an adequate supply of cooling water, and a skilled local workforce,” the report said. The Trawsfynydd site is home to a decommissioned 470 MW, two reactor magnox nuclear power station. In the 2015 Autumn Statement, the UK earmarked GBP250 million for SMR research as part of a competition to identify a best value design and to build an SMR in the 2020s.
Platts 26th July 2016 read more »
The developers behind Wylfa Newydd say they can deliver the project for a “fair and acceptable” strike price. Horzion Nuclear Power made the comments after a Welsh Affairs committee report said the Government should only build Wylfa Newydd if the strike price is below that agreed for the Hinkley Point C, £92.50 per megawatt hour (Mwh). If the price of electricity falls below this level, the government has in effect said it will make sure EDF receives the difference between the two prices.
Daily Post 26th July 2016 read more »
As delays mount at large new nuclear power projects around the world, more attention is turning to smaller alternatives, which industry experts hope may help provide the next generation of electricity. So-called “small modular reactors” — miniature nuclear power plants with a capacity of less than 300 megawatts — could provide an alternative to mega-plants like the two 1.6 gigawatt reactors planned at Hinkley Point in Somerset. The UK project is one of a number of delayed or abandoned nuclear power schemes, which have left policymakers around the world looking for cheaper, less risky options to meet electricity demand. SMRs are designed as shrunken versions of larger plants; they can be made in factories and moved by train, truck or barge to the site. Developers say that if enough are built in the same factory, costs per unit of energy output can be driven down well below those of larger plants.Despite the optimism among some in the industry, there remain significant hurdles to widespread use of SMRs. Firstly, even those building them privately admit the first ones will cost roughly the same per unit of electricity produced by a large reactor until costs can be driven down. One executive says: “Over time, we think we can get the costs down — as long as enough of them are commissioned.” But advocates of SMRs say that even if they prove more expensive for the electricity produced, costs are less likely to escalate and more likely to be fully funded. David Hess of the World Nuclear Association says: “Financing is a huge policy risk, and SMRs reduce that. And if the project goes wrong, at least less money has been wasted.”
FT 27th July 2016 read more »
An EXCELLENT and detailed Response to the CONsultation from Braystones Beach Residents who are close neighbours of the proposed Moorside plan.
Radiation Free Lakeland 26th July 2016 read more »
The final public consultation event on plans for a controversial new nuclear power station in west Cumbria is being held today. NuGen, the UK nuclear new-build developer, announced last year that it had officially signed a contract with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority for the Moorside site next to Sellafield. The signing followed completion of studies at Moorside that deemed the site suitable for the construction of three reactors. Cumbria County Council has since agreed to support the development of the Moorside nuclear power station, as long as the company behind the plans invests in infrastructure and local communities.
ITV 27th July 2016 read more »
Cyber threats to nuclear facilities are becoming more sophisticated each day, and the technical capacity to address the threat remains limited. This threat is global and undermines the security of nuclear materials and facility operations. Traditional nuclear security practices focus primarily on preventing physical attacks—putting in place “guns, guards, and gates” to prevent theft of materials to build a bomb or sabotage of a nuclear facility—with the assumption that nuclear facilities are air-gapped and safe from traditional cyber attacks.
NTI 25th July 2016 read more »
The Nuclear AMRC is working with Sellafield Ltd to cut the cost of making future designs of nuclear waste container boxes, potentially saving hundreds of millions of pounds in decommissioning costs.
The Manufacturer 26th July 2016 read more »
The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) is concerned with the direction of travel with low carbon energy policy in the British Isles. This state of flux puts at risk achieving essential long-term carbon reduction targets. The abolition of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and its absorption into a new Department of Business, Energy and Infrastructure Services (BEIS) suggest a changed emphasis in favour of the economic role of energy rather than the fundamental need to reduce carbon emissions. Despite its many faults, DECC gave a cross-departmental steer across government to tackle climate change as a core priority of the country. Moving it into an infrastructure department susceptible to be dominated by big business comes as a worry to many environmental groups. NFLA want to see the new Secretary of State Greg Barker, and the Ministers of State who will take charge of energy policy, refocusing policy on retaining ambitious carbon reduction targets, supporting the development of community and decentralised energy solutions and ensuring safe radioactive waste management and nuclear decommissioning policies are maintained.
NFLA 26th July 2016 read more »
Harvey Wasserman: The New York Times published an astonishing article last week that blames green power for difficulties countries are facing to mitigate climate change. The article by Eduardo Porter, How Renewable Energy is Blowing Climate Change Efforts Off Course, serves as a flagship for an on-going attack on the growth of renewables. It is so convoluted and inaccurate that it requires a detailed response.
Ecowatch 24th July 2016 read more »
They have suffered more than 100 billion euros of writedowns in four years, according to a study of Watt’s Next Conseil.Tous looking to refocus on renewables, networks, or services. Most energy companies now have the same goal: to focus on renewable energy, networks, or services to the energy, activities often fixed incomes and limited risks.
Les Echos 21st July 2016 read more »
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 2011 decision to rapidly phase out the country’s 17 nuclear power reactors has left the government and utilities with a massive problem: How to clean up and store large amounts of nuclear waste and other radioactive material.
Environment360 25th July 2016 read more »
Renewables – offshore wind
The UK has grabbed the lion’s share of European investment in the first half of this year. According to a report – due to be published in full later today by Wind Europe – UK projects reaching Final Investment Decision were worth £8.7 billion out of a total in Europe of £11.74 billion. This means that three-quarters of all Europe’s investment in offshore wind is flowing through the UK. The prospect of Brexit and the political and policy uncertainty it brings, not least during what may be up to three years of negotiating a new UK-EU relationship, will cast a shadow over UK investments.
Scottish Energy News 27th July 2016 read more »
The French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME) has awarded contracts to a Quadran-led EolMed consortium and a joint venture of French group Eolfi and Chinese nuclear group CGN to pilot floating wind parks off its coast. The contracts were awards following bidding for tender round, which was launched by ADEME in 2015 for four offshore sites including one in Brittany and three in the Mediterranean. The tender is part of the government’s efforts to develop wind farms aimed at testing industrial-scale floating offshore wind technology.
Energy Business Review 26th July 2016 read more »
Residents in the Orkney Islands are to benefit from a new smart-control energy system linking the renewable energy generated from wind turbines to the heating systems in their homes. Around 100 households in the islands are to trial the new scheme after the Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre Development Trust received £1.2 million for its Heat Smart Orkney project from the Scottish Government’s Local Energy Challenge Fund. The project will use the excess electricity that Orkney cannot export into the UK grid because of lack of capacity and divert it to newly-installed heating devices in domestic properties.
Scottish Energy News 27th July 2016 read more »
Excitingly, we’ve two weeks to go to fund our community-owned solar project at Infinity Foods. This 50kWp array will proudly generate electricity for Infinity’s warehouse. Already Europe’s largest wholesaler of wholefoods, our PV at Infinity will help green the warehouses packing, sorting and lighting, as well as powering their forklift trucks. We’ve already had loads of people support the project. Members get a 5% interest on their investment, which is an even better idea in light of the news that high street banks are preparing for negative interest rates. Were that to happen, money in your bank account would actually decrease (rather than earning interest).
Brighton Energy 26th July 2016 read more »
The challenge London set itself in its 2011 Climate Change and Energy Strategy is ambitious. To reduce the city’s CO2 emissions, the target for buildings is to retrofit 2.9 million homes; retrofit public buildings comprising a total of 11 million m2 of floor space; and retrofit 44 million m2 worth of private sector workplaces by 2025. These 55 million m2 constitute two thirds of London’s current non-domestic stock of buildings. Currently, London is falling well behind on its milestones to 2025, and the rewards of stepping up energy efficiency action in the capital are too good to miss. Millions of homes and businesses still stand to gain from energy efficiency upgrades. A step-change in delivery is needed, combined with a panoramic view and thorough understanding of all the benefits it can bring. Capturing the above benefits simultaneously, by investing in the energy performance of our buildings, will help London to meet its targets, maintain its economic competitiveness and to be a place that people want – and can afford – to live and work.
ACE 27th July 2016 read more »
The United Kingdom was once a world leader in energy savings. We proved that investing in buildings, insulating lofts, and switching to efficient boilers, motors, and lighting created jobs, saved money, and lowered the environmental costs of energy systems. But in recent years we have turned our back on our own evidence, reducing the breadth and depth of energy efficiency programmes. In this less ambitious scene, the government has finally revealed its plans for the next phase of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO). Happily, the new version contains some important design improvements over earlier plans. Unhappily, the programme as a whole is still too narrow and too small, failing to deliver bill savings to the vast majority of UK households (businesses remain unserved too).
SPRU 26th July 2016 read more »
The recent Commons report on the failure of the government’s green deal campaign, lambasted as abysmal by MPs, has highlighted the urgent need for the government to learn from its mistakes and implement a comprehensive UK energy efficiency scheme.
It’s high time for the government to use both carrot and stick – inspiration and legislation – to make UK homes warmer and healthier. I therefore propose that we revive the great British refurb, to harness Britons’ enthusiasm for home improvement and make our homes energy efficient. The scheme was originally launched back in 2009, ahead of the green deal launch in 2013. But now is the time to bring it back, using the carrot of our inexhaustible desire for lifestyle aspirations and backed by the stick of legislation, with a new set of national energy efficiency ratings that homes would have to meet in order to be rented or sold.
Guardian 26th July 2016 read more »
A new study of “clusters” of industrial facilities in Scotland shows that delivering shared transport and storage infrastructure can greatly reduce the cost of achieving deep cuts in the UK’s carbon emissions. The analysis published by Scottish Carbon Capture & Storage shows how re-using existing natural gas pipelines, which pass close to centres of industrial activity, can reduce the cost of transporting captured carbon dioxide (CO2) to geological storage sites already identified offshore.
Scottish Energy News 27th July 2016 read more »
A new pro-shale group in Lancashire, part-funded by the onshore gas industry, launched yesterday in Blackpool. Lancashire for Shale called on local and national decision-makers to get behind onshore natural gas development in the county. The group said it was made up of local businesses and residents who “believe natural gas from Lancashire’s shale will create opportunities for our businesses, new jobs and much-needed investment for our county”.
Drill or Drop 26th July 2016 read more »