The Hinkley Point C nuclear power development is one of the largest and most complicated undertaken in the UK in the last decade. In our new special report, Insider takes a look at the ambition, investment and skills needed to get such an impressive project off the ground, and the supply chain and business opportunities it will create.
Insider Media 28th Nov 2014 read more »
EDF Energy has refused to be drawn on reports that Hinkley Point C could be affected by financial setbacks hitting one of its investors. French firm Areva, which is designing the reactor, is due to have a 10% stake in the nuclear plant, which EDF confirmed was still the case despite reports that the firm is struggling. EDF has also been looking for outside investors to stump up and support the £25billion venture and rumours have circulated that stateowned Saudi Arabian firm Saudi Electric could join in. Stop Hinkley campaigners have accused the firm of “having more partners than Elizabeth Taylor” and said they are shocked that Saudi Arabia might be about to bankroll the project. There have been widespread reports that over-excessive demands from the Chinese partners have caused setbacks for Hinkley which prompted new talks with Saudi Electric. When contacted by the Mercury, EDF spokesman Gordon Bell would not be drawn on whether Areva’s financial position would threaten the future of Hinkley C – a claim which has been made in national newspapers. He also would not comment on whether Saudi Electric might have a stake in the project, saying only that there was still a 15% share open to other investors.
Bridgwater Mercury 28th Nov 2014 read more »
Source close to project says consultants expected to be brought onto EDF’s £16bn nuclear power plant. Chinese construction consultants are expected to be brought onto EDF’s £16bn Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant project to work alongside UK firms, Building understands. A source close to the project said Chinese consultants who have built the same type of nuclear reactors in the Chinese city of Taishan are likely to have a role in the UK mega scheme. There has been concern in the industry the project could be snapped up by Chinese firms after EDF announced China General Nuclear (CGN) and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) agreed to take a 40% stake in the scheme last year. Reports emerged last week that Chinese investors were pushing for chunks of manufacturing contracts to be handed to Chinese firms. But Building’s source said this is unlikely to happen due to the high level of regulatory checks in the UK required to work in the nuclear sector. Building also understands, from the same source, that reports that Saudi Arabia’s electricity utility company has been in talks with EDF about a stake in the scheme are unfounded.
Building 27th Oct 2014 read more »
PLANS for a new radioactive waste treatment plant at Faslane have been submitted to Argyll and Bute Council by the Ministry of Defence.
Helensburgh Advertiser 28th Nov 2014 read more »
The director of one of the companies I used to work for had a technique of getting contracts which is probably not that uncommon. He would get contracts with promises to deliver with ridiculous short time scales for delivery and also undercut the competitors on price. He then renegotiated the contract after a while once the client had already made considerable commitment to the project. The client could, of course, called his bluff and cancel the contract. However, this would not look good for the people who originally negotiated the contract – specifications were often deliberately vague so that our company had reasons why the project would not be delivered on time or to budget. Also if the needed the project completed it meant starting the cycle again with another company who would do the same thing. The investors and banks who had invested lots of money in the company were reluctant to risk losing a substantial about of money so they kept the company going – it is better to owe £1million and £100 to a creditor1. Things did eventually catch up with the company I worked for and it went bust. However, the director set up another company and is probably still plying his trade. It seems to me that the nuclear industry is doing this on an international scale – lots of promises with very few deliverables. This may explain some of the things that are happening in the industry. Recently Horizon Nuclear Power has made an agreement with the Office of Nuclear Regulation to start purchasing equipment for a reactor at Wylfa2 in Wales before the design or site has been approved the company themselves state that construction will not start until 2019. This will promise jobs in the UK and abroad which is just another notch in the commitment of the UK and other countries commitment to nuclear power.
Peter Lux 28th Nov 2014 read more »
Problems involved with dealing with complex systems. The reason it is abstract is because I want to make the ‘complex systems’ as simple as possible. We are told that nuclear is ‘certainly’ safe, that there is ‘no possibility’ of an accident and ‘all possible’ accidents have been considered. This post is to explain why it is not true.
Peter Lux 15th Nov 2014 read more »
When discussing nuclear safety we are often told by the nuclear industry that they have ‘fail-safes’, ‘built in redundancy’ etc that make their reactors ‘safe’. In this post I shall explore some of these claims. It will, hopefully, not bring up any surprises for people involved in nuclear safety but will hopefully be useful to others.
Peter Lux 12th Nov 2014 read more »
This post was going to be about the ICRP’s (International Committee on Radiological Protection) risk model. However, Dr Chris Busby has recently written an article for The Ecologist which covers some of what I was going to say. However, there are a few additional points I would like to make. It is important to note that many of what are called ‘anti-nuclear’ arguments do not need this critique since they merely take the ICRP risk factors and apply them. This gives about 5000 fatal cancers from Fukushima and more than 32,000 from Chernobyl. To go onto the ‘unscientific’ way in which these risk model is applied it is important to understand something about the scientific method used. Since there are variables which can affect cancer risk in the real world understanding what is happening is a bit like detective work.
Peter Lux 23rd Oct 2014 read more »
With big bond repayments due in 2016-17 and its credit rating cut to junk last week, France’s loss-making nuclear group Areva has a narrow and shrinking window to turn around its business and refinance its pile of debt.With billions of capital destroyed by writedowns on a Finland reactor project and an African uranium mine and its revenue crimped by a post-Fukushima dearth of reactor orders, Areva lacks the earnings to repay debt and is seeking to delay payment by extending its bond maturities.The 87 percent state-owned firm has already cut spending and investment to the bone and has few assets left to sell, while a capital increase has been ruled out for now. Knoche told parliament this week Areva wants to accelerate partnerships with companies in Asia. The firm already works with Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, with which it is designing a new reactor model. China’s CGN Power, which is building two EPR reactors in China and will invest in a project to build two more in Britain, is another potential partner. Analysts doubt anyone would want to buy into Areva’s loss-making reactor division, tainted by cost overruns. But its uranium mining and nuclear fuel divisions – accounting for most of the company’s 1.04 billion euros 2013 core earnings – would be attractive, particularly for China, which is keen to secure uranium supplies for its growing nuclear fleet.
Reuters 28th Nov 2014 read more »
After a dismal 2014, Rolls-Royce is facing calls to break itself up. It needed to examine spinning off or selling its non-aerospace divisions, said Investec Securities. The stock’s 32 per cent decline this year “should be a catalyst for Rolls’ board to reconsider its strategy”, said the broker. Though management’s plan to create an industrial engine conglomerate was only part complete, investor confidence was shattered and the weak share price took further acquisitions off the agenda, Investec added. The broker also reckoned that a break-up might allow Rolls to shed its nuclear submarine division, ridding itself of the government “golden share”, which blocks a foreign takeover of the aerospace operations.
FT 28th Nov 2014 read more »
Toss a dart at a map of the United States and, more often than not, it will land where shale can be found underground. A drab, relatively featureless sedimentary rock that historically attracted little interest, shale (as used here, the term includes clay and a range of clay-rich rocks) is entering Americans’ consciousness as a new source of gas and oil. But shale may also offer something entirely different—the ability to safely and permanently house high-level nuclear waste.
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 27th Nov 2014 read more »
In a continuation of previous form, the BBC’s article on the ‘Counting the Cost’ report by the Royal Academy of Engineering has leapt upon the assertion that the cost of blackouts could be in the billions. However, the report points out that this would only happen in the event of a UK-wide blackout (including all the major cities) for more than around 12 hours; a situation which is incredibly unlikely. The BBC report focuses on the idea that the costs could be very high; but somewhat misses the point that the costs could also be lower than we currently expect them to be. The main conclusion of the Counting the Cost report was that, at the moment, we simply don’t have enough information to place a price on blackouts.
Sussex Energy Group 28th Nov 2014 read more »
The UK’s clean power sources met at least 35.5 per cent of electricity demand during the third quarter of the year, despite a drop in output from the UK’s nuclear reactor fleet. The latest statistical release from the Department of Energy and Climate Change, released yesterday, confirmed that the low carbon share of electricity generation provided by major power producers rose 0.3 per cent year on year during the three months from July to September.
Business Green 28th Nov 2014 read more »
Letter: Scotland has only two of the UK’s nine nuclear power stations but nearly half of the UK’s wind turbines and more than half of its hydro resource. It is thus no particular achievement for renewables output in Scotland to have exceeded Scottish nuclear generation over the first six months of 2014, which included unusually windy weather, although UK-wide, nuclear output was on average more than twice that of wind.
Herald 29th Nov 2014 read more »
The energy regulator has ordered power generator Drax to pay a record £28m for failing to help thousands of deprived households save money on their electricity bills. Drax, operator of Britain’s largest coal-fired power station, near Selby (left), will pay up to £20m to consumers who missed out on the savings, with a further £8m to be paid partly as a fine and partly to consumers. Another generation company, InterGen, will pay a fine of £11m.
Guardian 28th Nov 2014 read more »
Times 29th Nov 2014 read more »
Telegraph 28th Nov 2014 read more »
French nuclear watchdog ASN got a clean bill of health from an International Atomic Energy Agency-led peer review on Friday, although the report highlighted the need for more staff and money in the future. France, the world’s most nuclear-reliant country, gets three quarters of its electricity from 58 reactors operated by state-owned utility EDF.As the reactors age, approaching 40-years old in the next decade, ASN will need more frequent safety checks requiring more staff and funds, both hard to obtain given government budget constraints.
Reuters 28th Nov 2014 read more »
“It was my duty to do this and I did it.” These are the words of one of our Greenpeace activists when he was prosecuted last September for the peaceful protest at the nuclear power plant of Fessenheim in France. These thoughts are shared by the 17 people who participated in the action at Cofrentes nuclear power plant in Spain in 2011 to expose its dangers, for which they will be tried in the coming days. The Cofrentes 17 face a possible sentence of almost three years in prison.
Greenpeace 28th Nov 2014 read more »
The EPA’s plan for ‘clean power’ are welcome, writes Tim Judson – except for its inclusion of nuclear, and economic distortions and serious omissions that favour the technology. In this open letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, he and co-signatories call on her to ditch the ‘false and irrational assumptions’ used to justify both new and existing nuclear power.
Ecologist 28th Nov 2014 read more »
Russia state-run atomic energy company Rosatom is planning to develop a $9bn nuclear power plant (PLTN) project in Indonesia. Russia trade representation senior expert Sergey Kukushkin told kontan.co.id: “We have met with officials from BATAN [National Nuclear Energy Agency] for this partnership.” Rosatom plans to work with local partner for the development of 2×1,200MW project.
Energy Business Review 28th Nov 2014 read more »
The UK and Germany both have ambitious climate change mitigation policies and both have intervened in electricity markets to bring forward investment in zero carbon sources and increase energy efficiency. However, both countries’ power sector carbon intensity remains stubbornly high because of a high reliance on coal, increasingly at the expense of cleaner but more expensive existing gas generation. Together, the UK and Germany account for half of EU emissions from coal fired power generation. Action in these countries to reduce unabated coal would have a big impact on the carbon intensity of power across the Union. This is particularly true in the case of Germany where recent increases in coal burn have been export-led, causing cleaner capacity to be displaced in neighbouring countries. The stated reasons for continuing to rely on coal in both the UK and Germany are concerns about costs and concerns about security of supply. But on closer inspection, neither of these claims stack up.
Sandbag 28th Nov 2014 read more »
Fracking carries potential risks on a par with those from thalidomide, tobacco and asbestos, warns a report produced by the government’s chief scientific adviser. The flagship annual report by the UK’s chief scientist, Mark Walport, argues that history holds many examples of innovations that were adopted hastily and later had serious negative environmental and health impacts. The controversial technique, which involves pumping chemicals, sand and water at high pressure underground to fracture shale rock and release the gas within, has been strongly backed by the government with David Cameron saying the UK is “going all out for shale”. But environmentalists fear that fracking could contaminate water supplies, bring heavy lorry traffic to rural areas, displace investment in renewable energy and accelerate global warming.
Guardian 28th Nov 2014 read more »
The rise of US shale is similar to the dotcom boom of the late Nineties and will cause many companies to fail, one of Russia’s top oil executives has warned.
Telegraph 27th Nov 2014 read more »