4 October 2012

Toshiba-Westinghouse

One of the world’s leading builders of nuclear power plants could be forced to pull out of the troubled programme to build six new reactors in Britain. The withdrawal of Toshiba, owner of Westinghouse, a heavyweight player in the sector, would deal a further blow to Britain’s fading hopes of building a new generation of nuclear power plants. A Franco-Chinese consortium failed to make a bid for the multibillion-pound Horizon project before last week’s final deadline, leaving the consortium led by Toshiba and a rival Japanese offer from Hitachi in the running. But The Times has learnt that Toshiba-Westinghouse wants to quit the nuclear industry altogether and is struggling to raise finance for the joint venture. Toshiba has asked JP Morgan to sell its stake in Westinghouse as part of a restructuring of the group. The investment bank was appointed in the summer to sell a 49 per cent holding but is now being asked to find a buyer for up to 70 per cent of the stake. It is understood that JP Morgan has not receive d any expressions of interest. If it does not find a buyer, Toshiba is unwilling to pay a significant portion of the estimated £30 billion required to build six reactors in Britain itself. The Japanese company’s attempts to raise finance elsewhere have also failed, The Times has learnt. Japan’s state-controlled export credit agency, JBIC, has refused to underwrite an estimated £4.3 billion capital raising planned by Toshiba because the country is also phasing out nuclear power after Fukushima. The Chinese state-controlled group, State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation, which had formed part of the Toshiba-led consortium with Exelon, the US generation company, had committed to provide almost half of the costs of the project but recently pulled out.

Times 4th Oct 2012 more >>

New Nukes

In a recent blog, Sir Bernard Ingham, former press secretary to Margaret Thatcher, posed an important question: do we want nuclear at any price? Sir Bernard is an avid supporter of new nuclear build, so the answer he invites – no – is all the more significant. The Government’s strategy for delivering nuclear capacity seems fast to be running into the sand. If the Government is serious about new nuclear build, it needs urgently to change tack, and to the horror of the Chancellor – desperate to get on top of Britain’s debts – it may even have to stand ready to put the public balance sheet behind the endeavour. Nuclear, it would seem, is still too big a risk for the private sector to willingly bankroll. In practice, the subsidy demanded by potential operators via guaranteed charges is heading for the stratosphere, threatening to lock-in high energy prices for generations to come. You can argue the toss about whether a guaranteed price amounts to a “public subsidy”, but most consumers, faced with a nuclear surcharge, would certainly think it does. Today, nobody would be willing to go ahead unless there is a guaranteed price per se for nuclear output at least comparable with other forms of carbon free generation such as offshore wind. The Government is right now in the midst of attempting to negotiate this price. An announcement was due by mid-November, but the process is proving long and difficult, and a conclusion is now unlikely this side of the New Year. The Government should scrap this madness while there is still time, and instead of committing future energy users to very high prices, use its balance sheet and cheap borrowing costs to underwrite the capital investment instead. Future prices could then be regulated using a simple return on capital formula, as applied to other utilities. Do we want nuclear at any price? Obviously not. But if the Government could be persuaded to overcome its aversion to anything that might smack of a public spending commitment, we don’t have to. We could still have nuclear power at a tolerable price.

Telegraph 3rd Oct 2012 more >>

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority should be re-tasked and re-named as the Nuclear Development Authority to co-ordinate and drive a consortium to develop the six new nuclear power stations needed says GMB. GMB, the union for workers inth enuclear industry, commented on reports in todays Financial Times that French nuclear group Areva and China’s Guangdong Nuclear Power Corporation Holding (CGNPC) have walked away from the UK’s 6-gigawatt Horizon project.

GMB 3rd Oct 2012 more >>

The drop-out of bidders for nuclear operator Horizon, opposition from the one British community that might host buried nuclear waste, and a damning European report on existing plant safety, all provide new headaches for nuclear supporters.

Energy & Environmental Management 3rd Oct 2012 more >>

There has been bad news for the UK government’s nuclear revival plans in recent days as reports indicate that investment is looking uncertain. Earlier this week, energy and carbon management specialists Utilyx indicated that Spanish energy giant Iberdrola is apparently dropping its plans to build new nuclear reactors in the UK. Iberdrola is part of a joint venture with France’s GDF Suez to invest in new nuclear development in Cumbria. But now, according to reports, the Spanish company is considering pulling out of NuGen, which SSE also opted out of last year. Meanwhile, interest also appears to be wavering in Horizon Nuclear Power, the nuclear development project set up by German utilities E.ON and RWE to build new reactors at Wylfa in Wales and Oldbury in Gloucestershire.

Energy Efficiency News 3rd Oct 2012 more >>

The government’s nuclear energy plans were in trouble as Chinese investors withdrew interest in two projects and local councils postponed a decision on storing atomic waste. Areva, the French nuclear engineering group, confirmed that it had pulled out of the running to buy a stake in Horizon Nuclear Power, the enterprise planning to construct new reactors at Wylfa in Wales and Oldbury in Gloucestershire. Areva said its partner, the state-owned China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group (CGNPC), had also shelved its bid.

Guardian 3rd Oct 2012 more >>

Horizon

Areva SA (AREVA) and China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group Co. decided against bidding for the Horizon venture in the U.K.

Bloomberg 3rd Oct 2012 more >>

A French-Chinese consortium has dropped its bid to build an £8bn nuclear power station on Anglesey. The Horizon project to build new reactors at Wylfa and Oldbury, Gloucestershire, was put up for sale by German-owned E.ON and RWE in March. Areva and the Guangdong Nuclear Power Corporation Holding (CGNPC) did not submit a bid by Friday’s deadline, saying their interest was “suspended”. Two other companies were thought to be interested in taking over the project. The American power giant Westinghouse and the US-Japanese partnership GE Hitachi were also predicted to submit bids.

BBC 3rd Oct 2012 more >>

Plans for new nuclear power stations in the UK have suffered a setback as Chinese financial backing for two new reactors has failed to materialise, and a bid by French nuclear group Areva has not been submitted. Areva’s withdrawal leaves bids by a consortium led by US nuclear engineering company Westinghouse – reportedly without the involvement of the China National Nuclear Power Corporation, as has been previously floated – and one by Japan’s Hitachi, whose nuclear techonology is not yet licensed for use in the UK. “The Chinese could not get the commitments they were looking for from the British government,” said one source with contacts in the Beijing nuclear industry, adding that the problem was about technology rather than political issues. Some British MPs and commentators had raised questions about the wisdom of allowing Chinese state firms access to sensitive UK energy systems. There have also been reports that Iberdrola, the Spanish group that owns Scottish Power, is considering dropping out of a separate consortium bid to build a new nuclear plant near Sellafield in Cumbria, while France’s EDF was said to be struggling to complete work on a generic design assessment it needs in order to proceed with building a new atomic power station in collaboration with Areva at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

Guardian 3rd Oct 2012 more >>

A Franco-Chinese consortium has pulled out of the running to build a new nuclear power station at Wylfa in Gwynedd. The Financial Times has today reported that the anticipated bid by French engineering company Areva and China Guangdong Nuclear Group for the Horizon nuclear joint venture failed to materialise ahead of last Friday’s deadline.

Wales Online 3rd Oct 2012 more >>

Russian state-owned nuclear power company Rosatom failed to submit a bid to buy the UK nuclear joint venture Horizon Nuclear Power after detailed study of licensing requirements for new reactors in the UK, a spokesman said October 3. Rosatom had previously expressed interest in licensing its Generation III+ VVER, pressurised water reactor, the 1200-MWe “NPP 2006” design as part of its interest in Horizon. The reactor design, also known as the MIR 1200 in Europe, is an evolutionary design based on the VVER 1000. The NPP 2006 includes passive safety systems, aircraft protection, and, like the Areva EPR, a core catcher to contain the reactor core in the event of a severe accident meltdown, Rosatom says. Versions of the NPP 2006 have or are being built in Russia, China and India and the reactor has or is being bid into Turkey, Finland and the Czech Republic. “After detailed study of the process of licensing of new reactors in the UK we decided not to participate,” in the bidding to buy Horizon Nuclear Power, the Rosatom spokesman said.

i-Nuclear 3rd Oct 2012 more >>

The village of Salwick, in the countryside just outside Preston, has an interest in Horizon through its biggest employer, the Springfields nuclear fuel factory which has employed hundreds of people for generations. It is owned by power station-building group Westinghouse, the energy giant which is one of the bidders for the Horizon portfolio, as part of a consortium backed by Chinese financial heavyweight, State Nuclear Power Technology Corp. Should it be successful in its bid – which pitches it against rival reactor builder Areva and, as of last week, a third party backed by Japanese giant Hitachi – the fuel used to power the new reactor at Wylfa would come from Springfields.

Lancashire Evening Post 3rd Oct 2012 more >>

France’s Areva has dropped out of the race to buy British nuclear new-build project Horizon, the company said on Wednesday, three months after announcing it was bidding for it with China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding.

Reuters 3rd Oct 2012 more >>

Utility Week 3rd Oct 2012 more >>

BBC 3rd Oct 2012 more >>

Business Green 3rd Oct 2012 more >>

Sizewell

COUNCILLORS will soon learn more about how bosses hope to engage with the public over plans to build a new nuclear power station. EDF Energy’s draft Statement of Community Consultation (SoCC) will go before Suffolk Coastal District Council’s Sizewell Task Group on Monday. The document – which has also been sent to Suffolk County Council – outlines how the French-owned power company hopes to make the public aware of its plans for Sizewell C. Both local authorities will be able to comment on the draft SoCC to allow EDF to make any changes before public consultation starts next month.

East Anglian Daily Times 2nd Oct 2012 more >>

Sellafield

Balfour Beatty and Morgan Sindall are vying for a £1.1bn contract to deliver a series of major infrastructure works at the Sellafield nuclear site. The Infrastructure Strategic Alliance contract, worth up to £1.1bn over a maximum of 15 years, is part of Sellafield’s long-term programme of strategic investment, with the winning contractor charged with managing and delivering a series of infrastructure projects and emergent work, ranging from £1m to £50m. Building understands that Sellafield has now shortlisted two bidders for the hotly contested job – Balfour Beatty and Morgan Sindall – with an announcement on the successful bidder expected in early December. It is understood that Sellafield invited between five and seven firms to tender for the job and that Babcock, Jacobs, URS and Amec were among those interested. Capita Symonds dropped out at an earlier stage.

Building 3rd Oct 2012 more >>

Radwaste

Cumbria delays nuclear burial decision amid rising worries about trust. Key councils feel unable to commit to joining detailed investigation of possible sites without further guarantees of the right to withdraw. They also want alternative disposal methods to be considered. Here is their letter to Baroness Verma, minister in the department of energy and climate change, following a meeting with her last week.The councils also plan to use the extra three months to ensure funding for community representatives to monitor and scrutinise the work if the detailed study does go ahead. They will then hold the postponed 11 October meeting in January.

Guardian 3rd Oct 2012 more >>

Council chiefs are demanding more information from the Government before deciding whether to take part in a search to see if there is a suitable site in west Cumbria for a nuclear dump. They will seek clarification from the Department for Energy and Climate Change on a string of issues. These include questions over the right to withdraw from the process and clarification on a package of “community benefits”. Alan Smith, leader of Allerdale council, said the councils needed to take full account of a report from The West Cumbria Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership. This report said “a lack of trust appears to us to be at the root of many of the key concerns”. The partnership includes a wide range of community organisations as well as all the councils in Cumbria.

Cumberland News 3rd Oct 2012 more >>

NW Evening Mail 3rd Oct 2012 more >>

Europe

Stress Tests carried out at the EU’s 143 reactors have exposed hundreds of problems which could need 25 billion euros in order to restore proper plant safety.

Independent 4th Oct 2012 more >>

The European commission has been accused of ‘dodging tough questions’ on the safety of nuclear plants in Europe. The attack from the Greens group in parliament comes ahead of this week’s publication of a commission report of the outcome of ‘stress tests’ on Europe’s nuclear reactors.

The Parliament 3rd Oct 2012 more >>

US

Replacement power costs and difficult questions are beginning to stack up at San Onfore Generating Station (SONGS) 2 and 3, which have been out of service since January and remain so pending resolution of steam generator tube wear problems. Particularly embarrassing is that the problems have arisen in newly replaced steam generators. Steam generator reliability has been a major issue for pressurised water reactors over the years – making initial claims that they would have a service life of 40 years now look laughable. Judging by the experience at San Onofre there are still important lessons to be taken on board.

Power Engineering 18th Sept 2012 more >>

The company providing security at a US nuclear facility has been fired following a breach of security in July, when three people entered the complex. The intruders – including an 82-year-old nun – managed to access the area surrounding the highly enriched uranium materials facility, severing three fences and defacing a building before being apprehended.

Info4Security 4th Oct 2012 more >>

Germany

German use of coal to generate electricity has declined steadily from 1990 to 2011, according to readily available statistics on the German electricity system. The percentage of coal-fired electricity in German electricity generation has fallen from 56.7% in 1990 to 43.5% last year–a decrease of more than 10% despite a increase in total electricity generation during the same period of about 10%. At the same time the share of renewable energy in the electricity mix has increased from 3.6% to 19.9%, mostly due to the rapid development of wind energy and biomass.

Renew Economy 4th Oct 2012 more >>

Japan

Fukushima Crisis 28th Sept to 1st Oct.

Greenpeace 3rd Oct 2012 more >>

First it was Europe and then it was China, but as the world absorbs the impact of Tokyo’s decision to phase out nuclear power over the next three decades, some are starting to ask if the next big centre of renewable energy growth will be Japan. “It is absolutely possible,” says Jim Long of Greentech Capital Advisors, a global adviser on renewable energy, headquartered in New York. “This could provide a significant stimulus for the development of a major renewable energy market in Japan, and underpin the global ambitions of a number of large Japanese industrial companies in the clean energy sector.” Japan certainly does not lack green energy ambition. In line with last month’s decision, the country has plans that envisage the investment of Y38tn ($483bn) in non-hydroelectric renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, over the next two decade s, plus an extra Y84tn in energy-efficient technology. This will come on top of the introduction in July of some of the world’s most generous low carbon energy subsidies, which have already spurred an estimated $2bn of investment. Some unlikely companies are already entering the renewables field, including mobile phone group, SoftBank, which is planning to build several solar parks and a wind farm.

FT 4th Oct 2012 more >>

Iran

The ongoing development work at the heavily protected Fordo nuclear fuel enrichment site near Qom in Iran is highly significant in changing the terms of the evolving crisis over the Iranian nuclear programme. Open source intelligence now suggests that Fordo is a core part of the Iranian post-attack recovery capability. This has major implications for policy formulation for the longer-term resolution of the crisis, as it could potentially change the diplomatic balance.

Oxford Research Group 30th Sept 2012 more >>

If embargoes are playing a part in, or actually causing, the currency collapse, however, this poses a question of its own. The sanctions were imposed, and recently toughened by an EU ban on oil imports, to punish Tehran and force it to come clean about its nuclear intentions. The threat of military action is held somewhat vaguely in reserve. But a combination of fierce national pride, divided leaders, and a population – at both the elite and popular levels – discontented and fearful of the future risks producing a response that is the very opposite of that desired. Sanctions remain infinitely preferable to armed force. But unless they penalise the right people, they risk unintended, even disastrous, consequences. The international focus to date has been on the perceived threat from a nuclear Iran. Other scenarios must now be considered: one is of a defiant and desperate people even more reluctant to bow to Western demands; another is the messy collapse of the state. The West needs to plan for all contingencies.

Independent 4th Oct 2012 more >>

As with so many sanctions in recent history, the sanctions against Iran are clearly proving capable of destabilising the economy and inflicting pain on ordinary people, while the prospect of achieving their stated objective of nuclear non-proliferation in the region remains elusive.

Guardian 3rd Oct 2012 more >>

South Africa

South Africa has created an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) that was outlined in 2011 with medium- and long-term goals for the expansion of the electric supply in the country.The South African IRP outlines a plan to bring 9.6 GW of new nuclear capacity online by 2023.

New Economy 3rd Oct 2012 more >>

Nuclear Weapons

On the 60thanniversary of Britain’s first atomic weapons test, we need to consider the parallels between how the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was achieved in the 1990s and today’s nuclear challenges. The British government is, yet again, unable to read the writing on the wall.

Open Democracy 3rd Oct 2012 more >>

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Published: 4 October 2012
Last updated: 18 October 2012