The chief executive of EDF Energy, a unit of Electricite de France (EDF.FR), will leave Britain if the French company’s 14 billion pound Hinkley Point reactor project collapses, U.K. daily The Times reported Monday without citing specific sources. Vincent de Rivaz, the longest-serving boss of Britain’s Big Six energy companies, has staked his credibility on getting the plan to build Britain’s first new reactors for decades off the ground, The Times wrote. However, the chances of the project going ahead are receding, with EDF Energy and the U.K. government in a stand-off over the level of subsidies–funded by levies on consumers’ bills–that the company will receive, The Times said.
Dow Jones 5th May 2013 read more »
Nuclear advocates seem to have fallen in to the trap of believing their own propaganda. That, and a belief that the Government would eventually come around to doing what was really needed to get nuclear power stations built – give them a state backed blank cheque. But blank cheques are not on offer. There are at least two reasons for this. First, it runs exactly counter to a basic premise of liberalised markets in that competition is supposed to obtain cost reductions, something that cannot happen if the costs are guaranteed like in a nationalised industry. The second is that nuclear power has technological competitors including renewable energy. How can the Government justify in a democratic polity giving a blank cheque to nuclear power when it does not do the same for more popular renewable energy and energy conservation technologies? Why should nuclear be preferred over renewables and energy efficiency? One could list other institutional obstacles of course, for example the politics of obtaining consent under EU state aid rules. Indeed the new nuclear build programme looks more and more implausible the more one delves into the detail. In fact the headlines in the newspapers about EDF demands for £100 strike prices and 35-40 year contracts only tell part of the story. The irony is that nuclear is so uncompetitive that even these terms would be unlikely to lead to Hinkley C being built.
Dave Toke 6th May 2013 read more »
Lord Foulkes of Cumnock: House of Lords debates don’t often sound unanimous. When it does happen it tends to mean that there is something seriously wrong for the Government. Britain draws 19 per cent of its energy from nuclear power, an industry in which we once led the world. By 2023, all but one of our nuclear power stations are set to close. With our demand for energy increasing, there is pressure to commission the next generation of stations in order to avoid a serious shortfall. Responding to this situation, the Government has planned for the construction of 16 GW of nuclear capacity by 2025. Here we arrive at the problem, the point which recently unified the Lords. To meet this target, the Government decided to pursue a radical, free-market approach to the construction of the next generation of nuclear power stations, an approach that looks doomed to fail. Reducing the state’s role to that of a regulator, the Government invited the market to tender applications to build and run nuclear power stations on eight proposed sites. The problem is that the market isn’t interested. As a business venture, nuclear power stations are unique and improbable. Building them takes up to ten years and costs around £7bn. They then start earning their money back, slowly, over the course of a 60-year life span. No one, at least no private investor, is interested in thinking in those kind of terms. With no competition to drive down prices, EDF has the Government right where it wants them. Its first step was to get the Coalition to drop its promise that there will not be subsidies for nuclear power. The next step was to begin negotiating these subsidies. By some calculations, these could run to £50bn over the course of the proposed reactor’s lifespan.
This is Money 6th May 2013 read more »
It is tempting to attribute variations in support for nuclear power to prominent accidents such as Three Mile Island in the United States or Fukushima in Japan. To illuminate how such attribution can be problematic, the authors discuss the historical context of the Three Mile Island accident in the United States. They point out that the US nuclear industry faced major challenges even before the 1979 accident: Forty percent of all US reactor cancellations between 1960 and 2010, they write, occurred before the accident in Pennsylvania. While safety concerns were undoubtedly a driver of public aversion to new nuclear construction in the United States, the nuclear industry already faced substantial economic and competitiveness obstacles, much like the nuclear industry worldwide before Fukushima.
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists May June 2013 read more »
Billions of pounds of investments in major UK infrastructure projects are at risk because of a rift in relations with the Chinese government. Future projects such as the High Speed 2 rail network and the UK’s nuclear investment programme could be starved of capital from China Investment Corporation (CIC), its sovereign wealth fund.
Telegraph 6th May 2013 read more »
Leading energy companies have told the government it needs urgently to review the costs of its latest green energy programme, which one group claims could add as much as £100 a year to household power bills. That is nearly double the costs the energy department has forecast for the Energy Company Obligation programme it launched in January this year. The measure obliges the big six energy suppliers to make people’s homes more energy efficient by improving insulation and putting in better heating, especially in low income households. It is aimed at tackling fuel poverty, in which people struggle to afford adequate energy – a growing concern across Europe as energy prices rise at a time of economic weakness. But it could end up worsening the problem, according to a senior executive at one leading energy supplier.
FT 6th May 2013 read more »
Britain’s plutonium stockpile, the biggest in the world, has just grown by another three tonnes as the German and Dutch governments have handed over their stores, apparently glad to be rid of it.
Scientific American 6th May 2013 read more »
The media have been running various versions of the history of Margaret Thatcher’s rule, but few have focused on her impact on energy policy, apart that is from the obvious issue of the Miners strike- which was predicated by her decision to, in effect, close down the UK coal industry.A brutal, divisive episode. The government won by using brute state power, aided by Thatcher’s commitment to nuclear power, which, as the leaked Cabinetminutes at the time revealed, was seen as having ‘the advantage of removing a substantial portion of electricity production from the dangers of disruption by industrial action by coal miners or transport workers’.
Dave Elliott 1st May 2013 read more »
A confident Luton-based manufacturer has won its largest order for nuclear components in 10 years. Specialist pump maker Hayward Tyler, in Kimpton Road, says its business in the United States picked up £3.1million of nuclear related orders in the period since December 31, including its largest single order in the sector over the last decade. Other orders received in the period included £2.8million of conventional power pump orders from China and India, £1.2 million of oil and gas orders recorded by the UK business and £2.7 million of mainly power related orders for Africa.
Luton Today 7th May 2013 read more »
An independent Scotland would face a far greater struggle to keep the lights on than if the country remained part of the UK, energy economists say in a research paper published today. It comes on the day that a major consumers body will warn that independence could also cause electricity bills to rise. The controversial findings are contained in research papers published by the respected David Hume Institute at the University of Edinburgh. Peter McGregor and Kim Swales, both economics professors at Strathclyde University, say that security of electricity supply or “keeping the lights on” must surely be a key objective of the Scottish government, whatever the constitutional circumstances. This, they say, becomes harder the smaller an economy is, and because of several other factors including a more concentrated portfolio of generation, an economy less able to trade electricity, a smaller storage capacity and a more restrictive transmission system. Scottish government targets involving no new nuclear generation and ruling out large-scale biomass plants imply a generation portfolio that is less diversified than at present, although this could improve between 2020-30 as more offshore wind, wave, and tidal generation come on stream.
Times 7th May 2013 read more »
One-third of all prefectural governments in Japan are either planning or building mega-solar power plants, each capable of generating more than 1,000 kilowatts (equal to 1 megawatt) of electricity. In some cases, the entities are building more than one facility. The electricity will be sold to electric power companies under the feed-in tariff system, an incentive program introduced last July that offers above-market rates for energy from renewable sources. The Asahi Shimbun found that 17 prefectural governments across Japan are committed to solar power generation. The study covers local governments’ own power plants or those of joint ventures between public and private companies trying to move in on the power generation business.
Asahi Shimbun 6th May 2013 read more »
Debris with a high level of radiation has been found at the No. 3 reactor building of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, according to the Secretariat of the Nuclear Regulation Authority and Tokyo Electric Power Co. Exposure to radiation has not been confirmed among plant workers, it said Saturday. Radiation of 540 millisieverts per hour was detected in debris removed from the building by a crane remote-controlled from the fifth floor of the reactor building.
Jiji Press 6th May 2013 read more »
Jury selection began on Monday in the trial of an elderly nun and two other environmental activists who broke into a supposedly secure facility that stores enriched uranium for nuclear bombs, embarrassing the U.S. government.
Reuters 6th May 2013 read more »
India’s Supreme Court gave the green light today to commissioning the nation’s largest nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu, despite widespread protests. “Necessary clearances have been taken by the government and development of the nuclear power plant is important for India,” said the ruling on the Kudankulam plant. The Russian-built Kudankulam plant is the country’s biggest nuclear power project.
Morning Star 6th May 2013 read more »
A SENIOR Scottish business figure has backed plans for Scotland to play a major part in the UK becoming a hub for European fracking operations. Lord Smith of Kelvin highlighted how much of the manufacturing in other energy technologies such as nuclear and wind comes from outside the UK. He believes that could be reversed for fracking and pointed out Weir Group, where he is chairman, already has about 30% of the fracking market in the US. Campaigners have raised many concerns over fracking – the process of drilling then injecting fluid into the ground to fracture shale rocks and release natural gas – including contamination of ground water, the amount of water used in the process and the potential damage to the environment.
Herald 6th May 2013 read more »