French plans for an £18 billion nuclear plant in Britain faced renewed opposition yesterday amid claims that the investment could undermine the country’s own reactors. Critics warned that essential safety work at French atomic energy sites risks being delayed or abandoned if Eléctricité de France (EDF), the state-owned electricity giant, goes ahead with plans to build two European pressurised reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset. The warning came after the head of France’s nuclear watchdog, the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) expressed concern that EDF’s financial woes posed a threat to the safety of the country’s 58 reactors. Many of the firm’s engineers and executives say its troubles will deepen if it takes on the British project. Unions have no formal veto over the project but they have threatened industrial action if it goes ahead without their approval. Mr Hollande, who is struggling to contain strikes and protests over his plans for labour law reform, is keen to avoid that prospect. Critics, including Thomas Piquemal, EDF’s former financial director, say the firm is too fragile to shoulder its planned two-thirds share of investment at Hinkley Point. Pierre-Franck Chevet, chairman of ASN, told France’s office for the evaluation of scientific and technological choices, that he was concerned about nuclear safety in France. He said the financial, economic or budgetry difficulties faced by EDF and Areva might lead to investments in safety not being made or being postponed. Mr Chevet said that while French reactors were safe at the moment, the future was worrying. Mrs Cailletaud said: “He’s not saying there’s going to be a nuclear accident. What he is saying is that the ASN might shut down reactors if safety work is not carried out. “What we say is that it is important to stabilise EDF’s financial position before going ahead with Hinkley Point.”
Times 28th May 2016 read more »
The workers’ committee at EDF on Thursday dealt a new blow to Hinkley, saying it is likely to vote against the plan. The French utility has been on the verge of giving the final approval to the Hinkley Point project for the past few months, but has delayed doing so on several occasions after a string of last-minute objections. Last month the company announced another pause while it consults unions within the organisation, which have representation on the company’s board. Those unions have threatened to vote against the project, saying they believe it could threaten the company’s future. Speaking to the BBC on Thursday, Jean-Luc Magnaval, the secretary of the EDF workers’ committee, which represents those unions, said that he remained opposed to the scheme despite EDF’s consultation. Mr Magnaval told Newsnight: “We want something that will work. We wish that EDF was as keen to improve the project as they are to start work on it. We have reservations about several aspects of the project: organisation, supply chain, installation and procurement. The trade union is unlikely to give its blessing to the project in its current state. We are not reassured by the documents we have received. We have been given a marketing folder not the full information we require.”
FT 27th May 2016 read more »
Opposition from French unions has cast fresh doubt over the future of the planned Hinkley nuclear power station in Somerset. Key French workers’ unions continue to oppose the £18bn project despite repeated attempts by EDF, which would build the reactors, to win their backing. The French state-owned company has delayed the decision on whether to go ahead until the summer while it consults the unions. Union representatives hold six of the 18 seats on its board.
Guardian 27th May 2016 read more »
Fresh opposition from French trade unions is threatening the future of a new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point, experts say. The Bridgewater-based Hinkley Point C, which would be built by French-owned power company EDF, will cost an estimated £18billion.
Bristol Post 27th May 2016 read more »
City AM 27th May 2016 read more »
EDF Energy had to face the Energy and Climate committee over its nuclear power station, Hinkley Point C yesterday. The power station has been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons in the past – including concerns over its cost and its legality. Vincent de Rivaz, EDF UK’s Chief Executive, had to attend a meeting after the final investment decision was been pushed back yet again. Since March, there have been a series of revelations which throw the £18-21 billion project into doubt. Falsifying safety documents, French Energy Minister Segelene Royale speaking out over concerns of the cost, and a legal opinion from leading barristers which suggests part of the French government’s financial support for EDF could be unlawful under EU competition law. Dr Doug Parr, Greenpeace Chief Scientist who gave evidence at the initial Energy and Climate hearing said: “It is no wonder that the EDF chief refused to be pinned down as to when the company would make the decision to invest in Hinkley. The company is up to its eyes in debt, with Moody’s threatening to downgrade EDF further if the Hinkley investment is made.
Blue & Green Tomorrow 26th May 2016 read more »
In this article, we would like to shed some light on some of the reasons why the EPR reactors have suffered construction delays and are not encountering the commercial success that was expected. It should be noted that the EPR reactor is still new, and that like all new and large construction project, “infant diseases” are to be expected, and that the reactor’s long term commercial viability should not be written off. On top of this, we would also like to point in this article however that the reactor design’s philosophy was not conducive of short construction timings. It is difficult not to acknowledge that the EPR is a complex and costly reactor. However, it is also clear that all its ills cannot be linked to its design. There is little doubt that in countries such as France or the UK, follow-on EPR reactors will be faster to build than the first-of-a-kind reactors currently being built or in the planning (Flamanville in France, and Hinkley Point in the UK). Nevertheless, Areva should ensure that going forward, the reactor’s construction and costs are reduced and better managed. In order to do so, standardization could be increased by reducing the technological choices and aligning regulatory frameworks. Indeed, it is striking that three European regulators, i.e. the Finnish (STUK), French (ASN) and English ones, have different design requirements.
Energy Collective 23rd May 2016 read more »
The First Minister has reaffirmed his government’s support for a new nuclear plant onAnglesey. It’s expected that 2016 will see significant progress on the proposed £12bn Wylfa Newydd project. More than 5,000 construction jobs are on the cards if the scheme goes ahead with around 1,000 positions when it is up and running.
Daily Post 28th May 2016 read more »
The integrated head package has been installed on top of the AP1000 reactor pressure vessel of unit 1 of the Haiyang nuclear power plant in China’s Shandong province. Meanwhile, hydraulic testing has been completed of the primary circuit of Sanmen 1, expected to be the first Westinghouse AP1000 to begin operating.
World Nuclear News 26th May 2016 read more »
As reported by Richard Stone in Science Magazine, Princeton University researchers, running a sophisticated weather modeling computer program, have concluded that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s estimates of consequences from a high-level radioactive waste storage pool fire are significantly downplayed. Frank von Hippel, a nuclear security expert at Princeton University, teamed up with Princeton’s Michael Schoeppner on the modeling exercise. The study examines the Peach Bottom nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania, a Fukushima Daiichi twin design, two reactor plant.
Beyond Nuclear 26th May 2016 read more »
The cheapest energy deals in the market could rise by £70 under plans to let price comparison websites only display offers that earn them commission, suppliers have warned. The Competition and Markets Authority has proposed relaxing rules governing switching sites in an attempt to boost competition and drive down prices, after concluding that most households were overpaying for their energy. But in a letter to energy secretary Amber Rudd, seen by theTelegraph, six small suppliers warn the CMA’s plan will backfire and leave households worse off.
Telegraph 28th May 2016 read more »
A leaked “strategy paper” in the German media has thrown up fresh questions over what Europe intends to spend its innovation budget on. In the paper, dedicated to nuclear research, the European Commission and member states set out broad goals for the nuclear industry, including developing small modular reactors. Nuclear opponents reacted furiously. Sonja van Renssen investigates the fight over nuclear research that goes on in the corridors of Brussels and assesses the implications for the future of European energy research. On 17 May, the Spiegel Online, one of Germany’s main media outlets, published a scoop entitled “EU wants to massively strengthen nuclear”. The author reported that a new “strategy paper” reveals that the European Commission wants to drive the construction of new nuclear plants and even develop new “mini-reactors”. This was a juicy story for Germans, where the last nuclear plant is due to be shut down in 2022. The story catapulted up to the national level, with German Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, denouncing it: “It is absurd even to consider that one of the oldest technologies we use for energy generation in Europe, should get subsidies again. The EU’s ambitions on nuclear remain unclear at this point. The draft agreement has yet to be adopted and may in theory still be amended. Why does it matter at all? Because the SET Plan and its offshoots determine what projects ultimately get political attention and money. There are no funds directly attached to the SET Plan but it will guide the expenditure of EU R&D funds in the Horizon 2020, plus national and private funds.
Energy Post 27th May 2016 read more »
Renewables – tidal
Atlantis Resources, the tidal energy company behind the MeyGen project being constructed in the Pentland Firth, has reported a maiden annual profit. The group, which also confirmed that MeyGen was on track to deliver first power this year, said the profit of 4.3 million Singapore dollars (Â£2.1m) – compared with a S$16.2m loss in 2014 – was largely as a result of the gain from the acquisition of Marine Current Turbines from Siemens last year.
Scotsman 27th May 2016 read more »
John Ashton – Fracking is a futile betrayal of our national interest. Our energy investment problem is a real one. In the debate about how to solve it, shale gas is a red herring. There will still be a role for gas for a while, but it will largely be conventional gas, and there is more than enough of it. Some will still come from the North Sea, despite spin to the contrary from the shale industry. But there is a national interest at stake that is more fundamental still than any consideration of energy, climate, land or health. If we lose confidence in our democracy, we lose the ability to make wise choices about any of our national interests, and to rally the country around whatever we need to do to secure them. In a real sense we would lose our very sanity as a nation.
Guardian 24th May 2016 read more »
The G7 group of countries has set a deadline for the phasing out of subsidies for fossil fuels by 2025 – the first time it has actually set a date. In an announcement in Tokyo, the group, which includes the UK, US, Japan, France and Germany, said it was committed to “swift and successful implementation” of the Paris Agreement on climate change, which was seen as a breakthrough. However, commentators pointed out that the target was not binding and the “warm words” needed to be backed up by steps to stop using fossil fuels.
Independent 27th May 2016 read more »