31 January 2016

Hinkley

BRITAIN could withdraw financial support for the controversial £18bn nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, Somerset, if a similar plant being built by France’s EDF is not running by 2020, The Sunday Times can reveal. The condition, attached to a Treasury loan guarantee, raises fresh questions about the future of Britain’s first new atomic power plant in a generation. Last week EDF, which is 84% owned by the French state, postponed a board meeting in Paris to approve Hinkley Point, amid concerns about the heavily indebted company’s ability to fund the project. The plant will be financed by EDF and its Chinese partner CGN, with the backing of a 35-year contract to sell power to households at above-market rates. The arrangement hinges on a Treasury agreement to guarantee up to £17bn in loans. Mounting problems at Flamanville, where EDF is building a plant of the same reactor design, could void that commitment. Flamanville is years behind schedule and three times over budget. Last year inspectors uncovered “very serious anomalies” in the €10.5bn (£8bn) plant’s reactor vessel. In the worst case, France’s nuclear regulator, which is carrying out a review of the project, could force EDF to break the steel vessel out of the reactor building, adding years to the timetable. Another project, in Taishan, China, has also been delayed. When the European Union signed off on the Treasury’s guarantee of Hinkley Point, it insisted it be conditional on Flamanville having “completed the trial operation period” and other operational milestones by December 2020. If Flamanville misses that deadline, EDF would be forced to immediately repay any loans that benefited from government support.

Sunday Times 31st Jan 2016 read more »

Wylfa

Hitachi boss raises concerns about funding of its own Wylfa Newydd project with foreign secretary during visit to Japan. The head of Hitachi has warned that the debacle surrounding the construction of Hinkley Point nuclear plant throws up “very serious concerns” about its own investment in the UK. Hiroaki Nakanishi, chairman and chief executive of the Japanese industrial giant, said the setbacks experienced by Hinkley’s developer EDF raised questions about how future plants including its Wylfa Newydd project are funded. In an interview with The Telegraph, Mr Nakanishi revealed that he had expressed concerns about the expected costs of the project with Philip Hammond during the Foreign Secretary’s visit to Japan this month. Horizon is in talks with the Government to ensure the Wylfa deal presents value for money for both sides. Horizon is in negotiations with the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) on issues such as the strike price, or the amount the Government will guarantee per unit of electricity produced, which will be key to attracting additional finance.

Telegraph 30th Jan 2016 read more »

Hinkley/Wylfa

The ongoing uncertainty over EDF’s Hinkley Point has cast doubt over the UK’s second planned new nuclear plant, Horizon’s Wylfa Newydd project, according to a report in the Sunday Telegraph. The newspaper reported this weekend that Hitachi chairman and chief executive Hiroaki Nakanishi expressed his concerns to the foreign secretary Philip Hammond when Hammond visited Japan earlier this month. Nakanishi told the Telegraph: “The DECC worries about the stability of the scheduled construction of the [Hinkley Point] nuclear power plant, so some of the conditions – the credit requirements – those kind of things may affect us. “In order to set up the financial conditions [to build Hinkley], Chinese capital was introduced, but what the real result will be – we have a very serious concern about that.” Meanwhile, the Sunday Times reported that a get-out clause in the government’s contract with EDF, allowing the Treasury to back out of financial support if the French energy giant’s troubled Flamanville nuclear plant is not up and running by 2020, could put further pressure on the project. EDF is believed to have delayed a final investment decision on Hinkley until next month at the earliest, amid growing concerns over the financing of the proposed nuclear plant.

Utility Week 31st Jan 2016 read more »

Energy giant EDF has leased offices to provide a base for a large part of the project team working on the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.

Western Daily Press 30th Jan 2016 read more »

Moorside

A GLOBAL search has started to find the people to design a new nuclear power plant. NuGen has launched a competition to create a vision for its proposed site at Moorside, near Sellafield. It is the first time this kind of competition has been staged in the nuclear industry. It is split into two sections. One, run by the Royal Institute of British Architects, is open to all qualified architects and seeks imaginative designs for the site including a visitor centre, an accommodation block and masterplan. The second, for landscape architects and run by the Landscape Institute, aims to find the most creative and sustainable solutions for providing the setting for the Moorside development.

Carlisle News & Star 30th Jan 2016 read more »

Supply Chain

Sheffield Forgemasters has said it would have been able to help build Britain’s new nuclear power station – after being snubbed in favour of foreign firms. The company, which recently announced it was having to cut 100 jobs from its 700-strong workforce, has hit back at claims from Government industry minister Anna Soubry that British firms did not have the ‘capacity’ to create key parts for the Hinkley Point station in Somerset. French and Japanese suppliers are being used instead by French energy giant EDF, who are responsible for the site.

Sheffield Star 31st Jan 2016 read more »

Radwaste – Australia

Hill End nuclear dump ruled out due to community opposition and it is not even high level waste! A low and medium level nuclear waste facility will not be built at Hill End in central-west New South Wales because community opposition to the proposal is so strong, the Federal Government has said.

Cumbria Trust 31st Jan 2016 read more »

Japan – reactor restarts

Japan on Friday restarted its third nuclear reactor since a country-wide shutdown in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in 2011, after a court ruled it was safe despite opposition from local residents. The government and utility firms have been pushing to get reactors back in operation nearly five years after a huge earthquake and tsunami caused a disastrous meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The accident forced all of Japan’s dozens of reactors offline for about two years in the face of public worries over the safety of nuclear technology and fears about radiation exposure. Kansai Electric Power’s No. 3 reactor at its Takahama nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture, which uses plutonium-mixed fuel, was switched on Friday afternoon, a company official said.

Japan Today 30th Jan 2016 read more »

In the wake of the disastrous nuclear accident in northeastern Japan nearly five years ago, the Fukui Prefecture town of Takahama has been seeking ways to reduce its heavy dependence on a nuclear power plant for its livelihood. “It is true that we’ve depended on the nuclear industry,” said a local official responsible for community buildings in the municipality, home to Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Takahama nuclear plant. The town and the nuclear power station have “become inseparable” since the plant’s No. 1 reactor started operations in 1974, according to the official. The plant has provided jobs for the community, with the much of the town’s economy geared towards providing services for those who work at the facility. On Friday, the plant’s No. 3 reactor was brought back online after a hiatus of nearly four years, becoming the third reactor in the nation to restart operations under the country’s new safety standards compiled after the March 2011 accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Kansai Electric plans to reactivate the No. 4 reactor at the plant in late February.

Japan Times 31st Jan 2016 read more »

Trident

Up to 130 Labour MPs will defy Jeremy Corbyn and vote to renew Trident, anti-nuclear campaigners have estimated – challenging the leader’s belief that the majority of the party backs his position. After analysing thousands of public statements, past voting records and private conversations with activists groups, Trident opponents believe a majority of Labour MPs support renewal.

Telegraph 30th Jan 2016 read more »

Labour could refuse to vote on the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent, an issue that is deeply dividing the party, because of a lack of detail about the next generation of nuclear missile-carrying submarines. The Conservatives want to hold a snap vote in the House of Commons to approve the construction of four new submarines, currently estimated to cost £31bn, that would maintain Britain’s round-the-clock nuclear deterrent. This vote is now expected by Easter, before Labour completes a review that is expected to overturn the party’s current policy of supporting Trident.

Independent 30th Jan 2016 read more »

Nuclear War

As the world teeters on the edge of Armageddon, Britain’s top brass are faced with the most chilling decision of all. After Russia has invaded a Nato state, the rapidly escalating crisis threatens the very existence of Britain. Now, with a nuclear strike on London imminent, military commanders and senior Government figures in a Whitehall bunker must choose whether to launch our Trident missiles in response, having already decided against a nuclear strike at an earlier stage in the crisis. But the decision is no – and this outcome of an utterly realistic ‘war game’ throws up deeply troubling questions, not least with the current political row over Government plans to spend £100 billion replacing our fleet of Trident submarines. When Nato leaders become divided about how to respond, America and Britain go it alone to launch a ground offensive to force Putin’s troops back, during which four British soldiers are taken hostage until they are rescued by Special Forces. Then Russia hits back with a nuclear strike on Royal Navy warship HMS Ocean – instantly killing 1,200 Royal Marines and sailors. Remarkably, the committee votes against retaliating with a nuclear strike. But America, which also lost a warship, ignores the British advice and unleashes its own nuclear attack on a Russian military target – pushing us into all-out atomic war.

Daily Mail 31st Jan 2016 read more »

Renewables

Scientists thought solar and wind power were prohibitively expensive options to cut carbon emissions. But new research suggests these green technologies might be an affordable solution if employed on a national scale in a ‘superhighway of electrons’. Power from solar, wind, and other existing technologies would all contribute to a grid across the continental United States to share the burden of power production. That combination would make it economically feasible to cut carbon emissions significantly in the electricity sector, according to a study published Monday in the journal Nature.

Christian Science Monitor 29th Jan 2016 read more »

Rewnewables – offshore wind

Hundreds of millions of pounds of investment poured into the development of three proposed Scottish offshore wind farms over the last decade is at risk because of continuing delays in securing vital government subsidies. Years of planning has so far gone into five massive multi-billion pound wind farms planned for Scotland’s east coast. But only two of the windfarms – the 664MW Beatrice project and the 448MW Neart Na Gaoithe project – have so far been successful in bidding for valuable government subsidies, which make projects commercially viable by guaranteeing the price at which electricity is sold for a 15-year period. In the last Contracts for Difference (CfD) bidding auction held in 2014 the three other windfarms (Seagreen, Inch Cape and Moray Offshore) were unsucc essful and, since the Conservatives returned to power last May, no further auctions have been held. Michael Brown, chief accountant of the 1116MW Moray Offshore project, told the Sunday Herald that £90 million has so far been spent by Portuguese developer EDP Renewables on project development costs and that at least one potential investor had withdrawn because of the extended funding uncertainty. Since failing to obtain a subsidy contract in 2014, Brown said, the company has had to maintain an Edinburgh office employing 40 people “who are doing pretty much zero at the moment as the project is on hold”. “We are having to spend several million pounds a year just to stand still,” he said.

Sunday Herald 31st Jan 2016 read more »

Renewables – solar

In a study released recently in the journal Research Policy, Oxford University researchers found, in the short term, that solar’s upward swing was unstoppable. The researchers said falling manufacturing costs, which have dropped by 10% a year since the 1980s, would grow solar’s share of global electricity from roughly 1.5% today, to as much as 20% by 2027. Not everyone is as optimistic. The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) most ambitious scenario for renewables puts the amount of electricity produced from solar photovoltaic cells at 16% of global production by 2050. However, the IEA has consistently under-estimated solar. In 2000, it predicted the world’s solar capacity would quadruple over the course of the next 15 years. In reality, it took just five. The IEA then upgraded their 2015 forecast from 5 GW to 14 GW. This time it took just three years to get there.

Guardian 31st Jan 2016 read more »

Fuel Poverty – Scotland

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has criticised the Scottish Government for its “short-sighted decision” to cut £15m from its efforts to tackle fuel poverty. Speaking about the issue ahead of addressing Labour Party members in Inverness, Ms Dugdale promised that if Labour win in May’s election she will bring in a “ground-breaking” Scottish Warm Homes Act. The legislation, she said, will “deliver the changes we need to see in planning and building regulations to tackle fuel poverty”. The Labour-led Scottish executive set the target of abolishing fuel poverty by 2016, but Ms Dugdale said: “We know the SNP Government will miss that target.” She went on to say that budget cuts which will reduce spending on tackling fuel poverty by more than £15 million to £103.3 million in 2016-17 “will be devastating for low income families and pensioners i n Inverness and all across Scotland”.

STV 30th Jan 2016 read more »

Fossil Fuels

As Cuadrilla prepares for a public inquiry into its plans to explore for shale gas Lancashire, will 2016 finally be the year that fracking gets the go-ahead in the UK?

Telegraph 30th Jan 2016 read more »

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Published: 31 January 2016