29 January 2016

Hinkley

EDF has told contractors at Hinkley Point to restart “unconstrained spending” in anticipation of the £18bn nuclear plant obtaining the final green light within days. The instructions to suppliers, reported by the industry magazine Building, comes despite EDF’s unwillingness to press the last investment button at a board meeting on Wednesday. The state-owned French group delayed the decision after last-minute pressure from its investors and unions over the cost of the scheme, but contractors in Somerset are being told to restart work, which stopped in April last year. A source told Building: “EDF used the words ‘unconstrained spending’ to the supply chain to get the project moving. By ‘unconstrained’ they mean ‘we’re going to go on as if a decision has been made’.”

Guardian 28th Jan 2016 read more »

Insider Media 29th Jan 2016 read more »

Contractors on the £18bn Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant have been told to start spending money as client EDF says it will be releasing its budget imminently. Sources close to the project have told Building EDF has instructed suppliers on the Somerset power plant to restart “unconstrained spending” on the scheme, despite the fact a final investment decision has yet to be made. A source told Building: “EDF used the words ‘unconstrained spending’ to the supply chain to get the project moving. By ‘unconstrained’ they mean ‘we’re going to go on as if a decision has been made.’”

Building 28th Jan 2016 read more »

Caroline Lucas MP: EDF’s unfolding fiasco over the Hinkley C nuclear power station proves that nuclear power can come only at enormous financial cost to consumers and taxpayers, writes Caroline Lucas – and even then, investors are scared off by the risks. The government must get over its nuclear obsession and seize our renewable future. The concerns of French unions are worth a closer look. They include pending legal cases, the lack of evidence Hinkley can be built on time, and the partnership with the Chinese nuclear energy company when no other investors appear to be interested. Most telling of all is the following question: “what happens if the UK government decides to look after consumer interest?” This shows that the Conservative Government’s pro-nuclear policy flies in the face of everything they say about looking after the interests of consumers and billpayers. Indeed, studies show that solar power coupled with energy storage and smart grid technology could generate the equivalent to Hinkley Point C at half the cost – to the Government and to you and I. Wind power, even with backup, is cheaper than nuclear power too. The Government’s obsession with outdated, inflexible, expensive nuclear power stations is looking more economically and environmentally reckless by the day. So I’ve tabled some more urgent parliamentary questions on Hinkley.

Ecologist 28th Jan 2016 read more »

EDM 1019: That this House believes that the new delay on the plan for Hinkley Point C proves that the unaffordable, technologically-failed project is doomed; recognises that immediate cancellation would avoid the massive waste of multi-billions in cost over-runs and years of delays suffered by all other EPR projects; and urges new investments in the proven green technologies of renewable power sources.

Parliament 27th Jan 2016 read more »

The latest delays to the Hinkley Point C new nuclear plant could spell bad news for UK carbon budgets, Carbon Brief analysis shows. A final investment decision on the scheme, due to be the UK’s first new nuclear plant for a generation, has just been postponed by French energy firm EDF in the latest of many delays. Each year it fails to operate would add 10-11 million tonnes of CO2 to the UK’s emissions, assuming it is replaced by gas-fired generation. The UK is already expected to miss its carbon budgets for the mid-2020s. The emissions from a delay at Hinkley would increase this overshoot four-fold, Carbon Brief analysis shows. [The exact nature of the UK carbon budgets depends on accounting rules, see the footnote below. The UK is off-track whatever the measure

Carbon Brief 28th Jan 2016 read more »

It seems astonishing now but Hinkley Point’s French owner vowed that the new plant would be built and generating 7 per cent of the UK’s electricity needs by Christmas next year. EDF Energy’s UK boss, Vincent de Rivaz, made that promise in 2007, before the timetable slipped back first to 2019 and then to 2025. The last completed British nuclear station was Sizewell B in Suffolk, which opened in 1995, while older plants have stopped generating electricity or are preparing for decommissioning. Hinkley C is supposed to be the catalyst for a new fleet of reactors across the UK. The plant was delayed by EDF’s protracted negotiations with the government over what, in effect, amounts to state aid through a guaranteed minimum price paid for its electricity; legal hurdles at the European Union level, including a challenge from anti-nuclear Austria; and attempts to shore up the funding for the project by selling a one-third stake to the Chinese. Despite the problems, it was still a bit of a shock to see EDF’s board delay a meeting this week in which directors would have made what has been coined a “final investment decision” on the project. After all these years, EDF still doesn’t seem to be fully confident that billions of pounds of investment is worth the risk, and has delayed a decision for at least a month. Greenpeace’s executive director, John Sauven, is surely right when he says this proves the board is “rattled” –though I doubt he will get his wish that this “could well signal curtains for Hinkley”. I suspect it will still get the green light, and even if it doesn’t, the Government will plough on with building reactors elsewhere. Even if I’m wrong, Whitehall needs to prepare as though this is the case, given that cross-party policy for so long has been to bridge our yawning energy gap by building these stations. Maybe the whole plan collapses if EDF pulls out, maybe not. This is what makes a parliamentary answer to a question by Clive Lewis this month all the more curious. The shadow energy spokesman is a high-flying Corbynista who, after only eight months as an MP, is already joint-fifth favourite to be the next Labour leader. He found that the deployment of officers at the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC), both to protect sites and materials in transit, will fall from 1,113 this financial year to 931 by 2019-20.

Independent 29th Jan 2016 read more »

In 2007 Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive of EDF’s UK arm, made the now-infamous promise that by Christmas 2017 we would be cooking our turkeys using energy generated at Hinkley C nuclear power station. That has already been put back to well into the 2020s. But if you are making plans for Christmas 2025 it might be an idea to base them around eating cold turkey sandwiches by candlelight around a wind-up gramophone. Trouble is, who would want to invest in a gas-fired power station knowing the fickleness of energy policy? Commit to building one now and what guarantee is there that this or the next government might renew Ed Miliband’s pledge to close down all gas power stations, as well as coal power stations, by 2030?

Spectator 28th Jan 2016 read more »

EDF Energy is close to making the final investment decision that will start main construction work on Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, Europe’s biggest civil engineering project. West Country businesses are on the starting blocks, tensed and ready for the starter’s gun. But there have been some equally tense times along the way. The massive earth-moving machines on site at Hinkley Point may have been silent for the past few months, but there has been no let-up in activity at neighbouring Sedgemoor District Council as it prepares for its role as a host authority for the biggest construction project in Europe.

Western Daily Press 28th Jan 2016 read more »

Former Burnham MP Tess Munt attacks dirty costly nuclear.

Burnham-on-sea. com 29th Jan 2016 read more »

Sizewell

EDF is playing down speculation that a decision expected to trigger the launch of the next round of public consultation over plans for Sizewell C has been delayed. The final investment decision for Hinkley Point C in Somerset has been expected for some time following the announcement in October last year of significant Chinese investment in the £18billion project. EDF has always maintained the go-ahead for Hinkley would trigger the launch of the long-awaited next phase in Sizewell C consultations. It was widely expected the Hinkley decision would be made at a board meeting yesterday but it appears to have been postponed to the next meeting, thought to be scheduled for February 16. The reason is understood to be problems in finalising the full investment after a trade union representative on EDF’s board drew up a list of 15 concerns, mostly over finance.

Ipswich Star 27th Jan 2016 read more »

Sellafield

Sellafield has selected four consortia to help with the decommissioning of the nuclear site in deals worth a combined £500m. In total, 12 companies have won places on the 10-year Decommissioning Delivery Partnership framework. Sellafield has hailed the local impact of the work, with the chosen partners committing to create 240 new apprenticeships over 10 years. Eleven of the 12 companies in the consortia are based in or have a significant presence in Sellafield’s home county of Cumbria. As part of a range of measures designed to help boost the local economy, the successful companies have also pledged to allot 20 per cent of their subcontractor spend to SMEs.

Construction News 28th Jan 2016 read more »

The UK’s Sellafield Ltd has arranged GBP500 million ($715 million) of socioeconomic investment via a Decommissioning Delivery Partnership (DDP) framework. The package includes jobs, apprenticeships and work for small- and medium-sized businesses. Sellafield Ltd describes the arrangement as possibly the UK’s first ever public procurement that guarantees benefits for the community. It said that independent data analysis of the framework has found that 1140 jobs a year could be created or supported during the 10-year contract period. Tom Foster, chief decommissioning officer at Sellafield Ltd, said the DDP is going to be a crucial part of the company’s mission to reduce the risk on the Sellafield site “by getting waste out of high-hazard facilities as soon as possible”.

World Nuclear News 28th Jan 2016 read more »

Sizewell

Evacuation is ruled out for nuclear power station area, unless such action was within a clear policy or legal framework. Pete Wilkinson is calling for public participation in an emergency planning exercise. Andy Osman, Suffolk Emergency Planning Officer says Evavuation is not a public protection action that is planned for any foreseeable Sizewell emergency.

East Anglian Daily Times 26th Jan 2016 read more »

Moorside

Landscape architects and designers from across the globe are being asked to come up with ideas for Europe’s largest new nuclear power station, at NuGen’s Moorside site in West Cumbria.

Horticulture Week 28th Jan 2016 read more »

EPRs

Construction of two Areva-designed nuclear units in China is delayed while tests are conducted on the reactor vessel of a similar project in France, regulators in Beijing said on Wednesday. China will review the construction of the reactors in the southern coastal city of Taishan, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) from Hong Kong, after French authorities complete their own safety evaluations of an Areva-designed EPR unit in France, Yao Bin, head of the nuclear emergency and security division under the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, said at a briefing on Wednesday. An Areva spokeswoman declined to comment. “The construction of the Taishan nuclear power plant and the construction of the EPR unit is slightly delayed,” said Xu Dazhe, head of the China Atomic Energy Authority, according to a transcript of the same briefing. “We have to figure out all the problems, and then undertake further follow-up works.” China is poised to be the first nation to operate an EPR, a third-generation reactor that produces more electricity than the average unit. French regulators in April 2015 said that Areva found weaker-than-expected steel in part of the reactor vessel for an EPR being built in France. The plant in China will likely start up before the unit at Flamanville in Normandy and another in Finland, Electricite de France’s chief executive officer Jean-Bernard Levy said in September.

Moneyweb 27th Jan 2016 read more »

Intractable problems at two nuclear plants under construction in France and Finland threaten more delays to EDF’s plan to build four nuclear reactors in Britain. The state-owned French utility announced an 18 billion pound ($26 billion) project in October to build two Areva-designed European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) at Hinkley Point, southwestern England, with Chinese partner CGN. The two companies also plan to build two more EPRs at Sizewell in eastern England. The plan was first announced in 2013, but an investment decision has been put off repeatedly as EDF struggles to find partners and funding. Now it is being delayed by EDF’s planned takeover of the reactor arm of Areva, which itself is being held up by EDF’s refusal to take on financial responsibility for delays and cost overruns at an EPR Areva is building in Finland. Weak spots discovered in a second EPR being built in France could potentially cause even bigger problems, experts say. On Wednesday, the French state came to the rescue of Areva – virtually bankrupt after four years of losses – with a five billion euro capital increase and EDF agreed on a provisional valuation of 2.5 billion euros for the reactor business.A source familiar with the situation told Reuters that before finalising Areva’s reactor arm takeover, EDF wants guarantees not only for OL3, but also for Flamanville. “It is difficult to imagine that EDF would make a final engagement decision on Hinkley Point without knowing what is going to happen with Flamanville and Taishan,” said Mycle Schneider, lead author of World Nuclear Industry Status Report. The vessels of two EPRs being built in Taishan, China were manufactured by the same supplier as that of Flamanville. No problems have so far been reported with the vessels there.

Reuters 28th Jan 2016 read more »

Areva

French nuclear group Areva said it plans a 5 billion euro capital increase to restore its finances and said it expects the planned takeover of its reactor arm by fellow state-owned utility EDF to be finalised in 2017. The French president’s office said in a statement that the state, as leading Areva shareholder with an 87 percent stake, will take part in the operation and guarantee its success and will invite minority shareholders to take part.

Reuters 27th Jan 2016 read more »

Les Echos 27th Jan 2016 read more »

Areva’s board of directors has given a mandate to its CEO to finalize negotiations on EDF’s acquisition of a majority stake in its nuclear reactor business. The moves follows agreement by the two companies on the final valuation of Areva NP. EDF said its board yesterday agreed on a final valuation of Areva NP’s activities at €2.5 billion ($2.7 billion). The companies had earlier agreed on an indicative price of €2.7 billion ($2.9 billion) at the closing date.

World Nuclear News 28th Jan 2016 read more »

Toshiba

FEW tasks are more urgent for Japan than the clean-up of the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. Extracting spent fuel-rods from its toxic reactor buildings calls for a new generation of remote-controlled robots. One gadget broke down last spring after just a few hours’ operating amid intense radiation. This month Toshiba, a conglomerate ranging from semiconductors to nuclear engineering, unveiled a scorpion-shaped robot equipped with multiple live-feed cameras that will go into action at the plant next year.

Economist 30th Jan 2016 read more »

NDA

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has revealed it will contribute £500,000 towards a £1.5 million innovative energy projects fund. The Innovate UK’s Energy Game Changer initiative encourages SME businesses outside of the energy sector to solve some of the technical challenges faced by the industry. While the fund operates across all areas of the trade including oil, gas and nuclear, the NDA is particularly interested in technologies which could be applied to decommissioning challenges.

Construction News 28th Jan 2016 read more »

Energy Supplies

This week a report from the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IME) said they think the “capacity gap”, the difference between the demand for electricity and the likely supply, could be a massive 55% in 2025 as old coal and nuclear plants exit the system. This 55% figure is overblown. It arises from very pessimistic assumptions about the amount of capacity that can be provided by renewable’s and a forecast of much higher energy demand in a decade’s time. In fact National Grid reckons that in most scenarios electricity demand in 2025 will be about the same as it is today (although after that date increasing use of electricity for heating and transport means it will start to take off). And though the Government has scaled back subsidies for onshore wind and solar, they are still hoping to increase the supply of offshore wind in the next 10 years. Meanwhile advances in wind technologies mean that more onshore wind is able to generate more of the time. But elsewhere the IME report gets it right. At the moment there’s a lot more certainty about the power stations coming offline in the next 10 years than about the capacity coming up to replace it. The Government has made a historic commitment to phase out the use of coal for power generation, as recommended by IPPR last year. This is a hugely positive step, since coal is the most polluting form of large-scale electricity generation and also releases harmful particulates – the last thing we need while fighting to keep the UK’s air pollution within the EU’s legal limits. But what is needed to follow on from that is a much clearer plan for incentivising the next wave of clean generating capacity that the country needs. This must include the digital technology that will maximise the efficiency of the system and keep costs low for households and businesses.

Huffington Post 28th Jan 2016 read more »

Energy giant SSE is considering shutting its Fiddler’s Ferry coal-fired power plant early, threatening to blow a hole in the Government’s plans to keep the lights on, the Telegraph has learnt. The 2GW power plant in Cheshire produces enough electricity to power two million homes and in 2014 secured a subsidy contract with the Government to guarantee three of the plant’s four units would be available to generate in 2018-19. But SSE is now understood to be considering pulling out of the contract and shutting the plant sooner, because the subsidies through the ‘capacity market’ scheme may not be enough to outweigh losses the plant is incurring.

Telegraph 28th Jan 2016 read more »

Wind farms were paid more than double the market price to stop generating electricity this week, despite the country facing an increased risk of blackouts this winter. Strong wind conditions in the early hours of Monday and Tuesday morning threatened to overwhelm the grid with more subsidised power than needed, forcing National Grid to offer lucrative payouts of between £58 and £115 per MWh to turn the turbines off. The payouts stand well above the current market rate of around £45/MWh to compensate wind farms for the subsidies they might otherwise have earned.

Telegraph 26th Jan 2016 read more »

Energy Policy

A 61% cut in emissions by 2030 below 1990 levels remains the minimum effort required of the UK, despite the increase in global ambition after the Paris climate agreement. That’s the conclusion of today’s letter to Amber Rudd, the energy and climate change secretary, from her official advisers the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). Although the letter fails to recommend higher ambition it does further cement the CCC’s position on the UK’s fifth carbon budget, which must be set in law before the end of June. It also promises to look at whether the UK’s 2050 goal remains sufficient.

Carbon Brief 28th Jan 2016 read more »

The government’s climate change advisory body has today said its recommendations regarding the UK’s fifth emissions reduction target remain the same – despite the global emissions reduction deal struck in Paris in December. In a letter to Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said the proposals it made in November for the UK’s fifth carbon budget – which will set out the emissions reduction needed between 2028 and 2032 – remain unchanged at 57 per cent CO2 equivalent below 1990 levels.

Business Green 28th Jan 2016 read more »

Fukushima

“Fukushima is the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind,” Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear industry senior vice president, told Truthout shortly after a 9.0 earthquake in Japan caused a tsunami that destroyed the cooling system of Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) nuclear plant in Fukushima, Japan. While this statement might sound overdramatic, Gundersen may be right. The company has repeatedly come under fire for periodically dumping large amounts of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean. Even though the plant has not been online since it was largely destroyed in 2011, fission products such as uranium continue to generate heat, and therefore require cooling. “The fuels are now a molten blob at the bottom of the reactor,” Gundersen said. That left several highly radioactive blobs that now have water on top of them, hence causing the water to become extremely radioactive. This process of cooling the cores has now generated hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of tons of highly radioactive water that then must be dealt with somehow. According to a 2013 study by the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center in Norway, the first radioactive oceanic plume released by Fukushima is likely to hit the US’s West Coast in force in 2017, with levels expected to peak in 2018. According to the report, the majority of the radioactive material from the disaster is expected to stay concentrated along the West Coast through at least 2026. Even though that plume hasn’t yet hit, the spread of radiation has already been substantial. Professor Michio Aoyama of Japan’s Fukushima University Institute of Environmental Radioactivity believes the amount of radiation that has now reached North America is probably nearly as much as was spread over Japan during the initial disaster.

Truthout 27th Jan 2016 read more »

Europe

EU billions destined to transform the carbon-intensive, inefficient energy systems of central and eastern Europe are being misspent, finds a new report today by CEE Bankwatch Network and Friends of the Earth Europe. Bad spending plans and a lack of climate commitments from nine central and eastern European governments is hampering Europe’s transition away from fossil fuels, the groups say.

Bankwatch 26th Jan 2016 read more »

Belgium

Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg have raised concerns over two ageing Belgian nuclear reactors recently brought back to life after being shut down for more than two years over safety concerns. German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks this week demanded a meeting with Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon to express the concerns of German citizens who live in close proximity to the problem-riddled nuclear reactors. The meeting, which will take place in Brussels on Monday, comes after similar requests from Dutch and Luxembourgish officials worried about the safety of people who live near Belgium’s Doel 3 and Tihange 2 reactors. In summer 2012, Belgian authorities found small cracks in the pressure vessel of Doel 3 during a scheduled outage and safety check, opting to keep it offline until more tests were conducted. In September of the same year, the same flaws were discovered in the Tihange 3 reactor. The Doel nuclear power station – which counts four reactors in all, including the country’s oldest one – straddles the border between Belgium and the Netherlands’ western Zeeland province. The three reactors that comprise the Tihange nuclear power station are located around an hour’s drive from the borders of Germany and Luxembourg.

France24 28th Jan 2016 read more »

Renewables

It’s official: more money was invested in renewables and more generation capacity added in 2015 than ever before. Conventional wisdom has always been that low fossil fuel prices would make renewables uncompetitive even as the cost of renewable energy continues to drop. In that view, fossil fuel prices drive investments in renewables. It’s not happening, however, so maybe it’s time to consider the reverse paradigm: renewables driving fossil fuel prices. Craig Morris investigates.

Renew Economy 29th Jan 2016 read more »

Renewables – solar

Mayor of London Boris Johnson appears to have brushed off plans for a potential feed-in tariff (FiT) system for London, saying that it is unnecessary since investment returns under the new regime are already sufficient. Responding to a question on the potential for such a scheme by London Assembly member Murad Qureshi, Johnson yesterday admitted that changes to the FiT are significant, but said household investment in rooftop panels still ensured a solid return, Solar Power Portal reported.

Business Green 28th Jan 2016 read more »

Renewables – tidal

Tidal lagoon strike price close to Hinkley Point’s £92 could give project the green light, says ex-Welsh Water boss. A former managing director of Welsh Water has said that a 90-year agreement on a strike price could be the way ahead for Swansea Bay tidal lagoon. Nigel Annett said that bond investors such as pension funds, who would provide most of the finance for the lagoon’s construction, are interested in “long-term, low risk investments.” If the Swansea Bay lagoon can beat the strike price agreed for Hinkley Point C nuclear power station – £92.50 per megawatt hour – “that should give it the green light.” While that may be on the low side, Sir Terry Matthews, chairman of Swansea Bay City Region board, did confirm this week that a figure below £100 is being considered. Mr Matthews said he had been assured that the strike price would be less than £100. Either figure would be a long way below the £168 suggested in an independent report in 2014, although that was based on a term of 35 years rather than the 90 now being put forward.

Wales Online 27th Jan 2016 read more »

Energy Storage

National Grid and distribution network operators (DNOs) should give market players “longer-term reliable and robust signals” to encourage the uptake of energy storage technology in the UK, Npower has said. RWE Npower’s strategic business development manager, Cogen & Generation Services’ Graeme Dawson said at a recent event on energy storage that the signals from the system operator are “valuable” to other market players in determining the likely costs of ancillary services in the future.Dawson said that the Transmission System Operator (TSO) National Grid is “still learning” from the last 12 months about the effect of embedded generation on the system and how forecastable it is. But he said the development of energy storage would be boosted by concrete signals from the TSO on the size of the frequency response market in the future.

Utility Week 28th Jan 2016 read more »

Fossil Fuels

Coal firms were this week hit with yet another barrage of bad news, adding to the mounting signals that the industry is becoming a pariah in investment circles. A major study released yesterday from the University of Oxford warned that Australia, Germany and Japan are the countries most at risk from a “utility death spiral” due to their reliance on coal for energy generation.

Business Green 28th Jan 2016 read more »

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Published: 29 January 2016