News January 2014

13 January 2014


Toshiba is in the final stages of boosting its stake in British nuclear power firm NuGen to around 60 percent by buying a 10 percent stake from French utility GDF Suez SA (GSZ.PA), industry sources familiar with the matter said on Monday. Toshiba would buy the stake from GDF Suez, which owns 50 percent of NuGen, for about 3 billion yen ($29 million), the Nikkei business daily reported earlier without citing sources.

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Posted: 13 January 2014

12 January 2014

Electricity Market Reform

SLOW progress on electricity reforms are doing little to help decision-making for some of the biggest projects in the renewables sector, it has been claimed. The Energy Bill passed into law last month with the promise of driving the £110 billion of investment needed to replace polluting power plants while heading off the risk of blackouts. The Act’s lengthy passage – 54 weeks through the House of Commons and the House of Lords – was not helped by the on-going furore over household utility bills, nor the subsequent wrangle over the cost of government green initiatives. Nevertheless, Energy Secretary Ed Davey, declared: “We have driven the Energy Bill through parliament on time to send out a clear signal to investors and industry. We have delivered the certainty they need and confirmed Britain’s position as one of the most attractive countries in the world to invest in energy generation.” Though clean energy producers have been guaranteed a minimum price for their electricity, assurances on other crucial matters are less clear. Industry sources say these ambiguities are continuing to hold up investment decisions. One major Scottish project that has seen little progress is the £125 million wind turbine factory due to be built in Leith by Spanish renewable group Gamesa.

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Posted: 12 January 2014

11 January 2014

Energy Supply

The man who masterminded London’s highly successful Olympic Games has said power blackouts would be “the best possible thing” because they would force politicians to confront the looming energy crisis. Sir John Armitt, who is also advising the Labour Party on Britain’s infrastructure needs, said the country was heading towards an energy-capacity crunch because ministers had failed to ensure the construction of new power stations to take over from decommissioned nuclear and coal plants. And as Britain faces a weekend of freezing weather there were new warnings about the proximity of a capacity crunch from Dieter Helm, a leading energy academic who believes ministers have underestimated future power demand. Angry business leaders dismissed Armitt’s comments as irresponsible, but Armitt, who worked on the Sizewell-B nuclear reactor while at the construction group Laing, insisted new capacity was needed. “We are very close to being in a crisis when it comes to energy … the Central Electricity Generating Board used to say that a resilient network operated on a 25% capacity surplus. We’re down to 4% because we’ve gone slower than we should have done on nuclear.”

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Posted: 11 January 2014

10 January 2014


The role of commercial director of the much criticised public body overseeing the cleanup of Britain’s old nuclear power stations has been axed amid a wider management shakeup. The exit of Sean Balmer, who has been at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority for eight years, follows recent heavy criticism of the organisation’s performance, particularly at Sellafield in Cumbria. John Clarke, the chief executive of the NDA, has scrapped the commercial director post and created three new positions on his executive team including one full-time job looking after Sellafield, the UK’s largest atomic complex. The moves also follow the departure of the chief operating officer, Mark Lesinski, before Christmas and the planned exit at the end of March of the head of human resources, Jim McLaughlin. Clarke was subjected to ferocious criticism from politicians at a meeting of the Commons public accounts committee that expressed grave concerns over the estimated £70bn cost to the taxpayer of work at Sellafield.

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Posted: 10 January 2014

9 January 2014

Nuclear Innovation

Innovation Funding for Low Carbon Technologies: opportunities for bidders. Industry has set out plans to develop up to 16GW of new nuclear power by 2025. However, a significant expansion in nuclear power generation, beyond the immediate target of 16GW may be required if CO2 emission targets are to be met. A cross-government review, undertaken in response to the House of Lords’ Science and Technology Committee’s report on UK nuclear research and development (R&D) capabilities, has resulted in the publication of a suite of documents available on the Government website. These include the Nuclear Industry Strategy, a Nuclear Energy Research and Development Roadmap, a Nuclear Industrial Vision Statement, a Long Term Nuclear Energy Strategy, and a Civil Nuclear Research and Development Landscape Review. Investment in innovation will help to decrease costs, increase capacity, decrease delays to construction and demonstrate efficient waste and decommissioning processes. It has been estimated that investment in nuclear innovation could provide benefits valued between £5 billion and 40 billion by 2050 and £5 billion and 90 billion by 2100. It would also help create UK based business opportunities that could contribute between £1.5 billion and 13 billion to GDP by 2050.

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Posted: 9 January 2014

8 January 2014


The U.K. finished a preliminary study of a General Electric Co. and Hitachi Ltd.-developed nuclear reactor, bringing the technology closer to approval in Britain. The U.K. Advanced Boiling Water Reactor will begin the second of four steps in the Generic Design Assessment process to ensure the technology is safe and suitable for use, the Office for Nuclear Regulation said today in an e-mailed statement.

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Posted: 8 January 2014

7 January 2014


Today’s entry reports on the unsuccessful judicial review of the grant of development consent for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station. On 19 December judgment was issued in the case of An Taisce (the National Trust for Ireland) v the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. The judgment has now been published and can be found here. Here is a summary and analysis. The case was heard by Mrs Justice (Frances) Patterson, who only became a High Court judge on 1 October and was formerly head of Kings Chambers in Manchester. She also heard the challenge to the refusal of consent for the Preesall gas storage project last month, for which the judgment is yet to be issued.

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Posted: 7 January 2014

6 January 2014

Happy New Year

Isn’t it time you made it your New Year’s Resolution to switch from the Big 6 energy suppliers, if you haven’t already? You know you’ve been meaning to do it for quite some time now. It takes almost no time at all. Even those companies that have pulled out of building new reactors in Britain, such as Eon, RWE and Iberdrola, have nuclear interests elsewhere, apart from SSE. Despite having pulled out of the consortium planning to build new reactors at Hinkley Point and Sizewell. British Gas owner, Centrica, retains a 20 per cent stake in EDF Energy’s eight nuclear power stations. A good place to start your switch is here:

Although only 1% of the electricity sold by SSE in the year 2012/13 was nuclear generated, 54% was coal. See:

Posted: 6 January 2014

6 January 2014


A nuclear power plant in Lancashire has been taken offline owing to a faulty boiler pump. EDF Energy, operators of Heysham Power Station in Morecambe, said Heysham 1 was closed down at around 08:00 GMT on Saturday. It said the move was “unplanned but standard procedure and there was no danger to the public”. The firm added it would not affect power supplies in the area. It hopes the unit will resume next week.

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Posted: 6 January 2014

5 January 2014


The reported costs of the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant rose from an expensive £10bn in 2012 to an eye-watering £16bn within the space of a year. Why so much? During a 21 October investor conference call, the CEO of the French state-owned utility EDF, Henri Proglio, estimated the construction cost of the 3260 MW, twin EPR reactor project at £14bn, “in line with the amounts committed to the EPR at Flamanville,” i.e. £7bn each. EDF estimates a further £2bn will be necessary due to the specifics of the UK regulatory regime and site specifics of Hinkley Point C. The total estimated project cost, therefore, is £16bn.

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Posted: 5 January 2014