News September 2015

30 September 2015

Hinkley

UK government should rethink its current Hinkley Point nuclear deal with French and Chinese and seek faster, cheaper power using Japanese technology, according to Institute of Directors chairman Lady Barbara Judge. In a wide ranging interview in this month’s Infrastructure Intelligence magazine, Judge, former chairman of the UK Atomic Energy Authority and now a member of the ACE advisory board, highlighted that is was unlikely Hinkley Point would deliver the UK’s next nuclear power station and called for a rethink.

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Posted: 30 September 2015

29 September 2015

Bradwell

Let me offer a perspective on the chancellor’s visit to China last week that may not immediately have occurred to you: that of the bivalves of the Blackwater estuary in Essex. The native, or Colchester, oyster has had a hard time lately but it was one of the reasons why Julius Caesar thought these islands worth invading. Those that are still hanging on there enjoy a degree of protection as a threatened species. What has the oyster to do with George Osborne’s visit to China, in the company of Amber Rudd, the energy secretary? Well, it appears the chancellor was there to prepare an agreement for David Cameron to sign with the Chinese president during a state visit to Britain next month that will open the door to unprecedented collaboration on nuclear power. In return for helping out with the increasingly expensive Hinkley Point plant in Somerset, the Chinese have been told they can use the site of an old nuclear power station at Bradwell-on-Sea, on the Blackwater estuary, to build a reactor of their own design. I am not worried about the Chinese. I am worried about us. For it is an open question whether British standards of regulation are up to the expectations of people who live in places such as West Mersea, just across the water from Bradwell, where I note with amusement that someone was fined £1,000 the other day for not cleaning up after their dog.

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Posted: 29 September 2015

28 September 2015

Hinkley

Christopher Booker: Two bizarre interviews last week again highlighted how woeful has been much reporting on the costliest engineering project Britain has ever embarked on. Their cue was George Osborne’s announcement that UK taxpayers are to “guarantee” £2 billion of the money paid to firms owned by the Chinese and French governments, to build in Somerset the most expensive nuclear power station in the world. Although it was originally claimed that Hinkley Point C would cost only £10 billion and be “cooking Christmas dinners by 2017”, its completion date is now likely to be well after 2023, and its cost has spiralled so fast it will be way over the current figure of £24.5 billion. This would already make it more expensive than the Channel Tunnel and half the estimated cost of the vast, as-yet unapproved HS2 rail project. At least when John Humphrys interviewed the Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd, that morning on the Today programme, he began by gabbling some of the more obvious objections to Hinkley. But he then gave Rudd a free run to babble about how thankful we should be to the Chinese and the French for helping to give us “low-carbon energy security”. Please, guys, we know you are besotted with climate change and “low-carbon” energy. But even in your own terms, can you not recognise a truly massive national scandal when it is staring you in the face?

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Posted: 28 September 2015

27 September 2015

Bradwell

A PEACEFUL protest including a flotilla of boats will be held on Mersea Island by campaigners fighting against a new nuclear power station at Bradwell. Campaign groups are joining forces for the Fight Against Bradwell – Fab. spokesman for the group said: “Amid growing fears Bradwell is about to be handed over to the Chinese to build a new nuclear power station, people of the local communities, including Mersea Island and Maldon areas, are uniting. “With a Chinese delegation, including China’s president, due to visit the UK in October, people feel now is the time to really show their opposition and make their voices heard. “Protesters will gather on the beach opposite the current power station, while a flotilla of boats and all manner of seafaring vessels, will join the protests on the river. “Hundreds are expected to take part, as support grows by the day.” The protest will take place during the afternoon of Sunday, October 4, from 3.30pm near the monkey steps.

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Posted: 27 September 2015

26 September 2015

Hinkley

Nuclear power returned to the top of the political agenda this week when George Osborne used his visit to China to underline the government’s determination to push through the Hinkley Point C power station project. There are expectations that the energy company behind the proposed plant, EDF of France, will announce a final investment decision on the £24.5bn scheme during the visit of Chinese premier Xi Jinping to London next month. Beijing holds the key to Hinkley because state-controlled EDF wants two of China’s nuclear companies to commit as investors before it gives the green light. But even as governments in Britain, France and China push for a commitment from EDF, there is a growing army of critics who want to halt what they argue is the most expensive power station ever planned. Industrialists and City analysts have joined traditional opponents Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth in saying the scheme is a white elephant. Firstly, EDF supporters argue it is misleading to compare a £92.50 guaranteed price for nuclear with current wholesale power prices because the latter are artificially low due to the depressed value of coal. They make the point that wholesale power prices were £80 per MW hour in 2008 – double their current level – and could return to this level when Britain’s coal-fired power stations are phased out due to old age and greenhouse gas regulations. Friends of atomic power also claim renewables such as wind and solar are also unable to guarantee constant energy production, unlike nuclear, while noting that gas is a fossil fuel which exacerbates global warming. And they insist that some wind projects backed by the government under a scheme running till 2021 could cost £137 per MWh. Vincent de Rivaz, the chief executive of EDF, told the BBC on Thursday that nuclear energy is worth the investment because it provides “baseload” power which is available round-the-clock.

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Posted: 26 September 2015

Does anyone still think Hinkley C is a good idea?

Over a month ago the Stop Hinkley Campaign asked if there is anyone left who still thinks Hinkley Point C is a good idea – apart from EDF and George Osborne of course?

Stop Hinkley spokesperson, Roy Pumfrey said:

The critical comments have been coming thick and fast over the past few years– including from utility chiefs, City analysts, the Chancellor’s father-in-law and a former Tory Chancellor. How many more nuclear supporters have to stand up against this scheme, which has left the City flabbergasted, before the Government and EDF do the sensible thing and call a halt to this ludicrously expensive deal?”

Since then, the comments have just kept coming – from The Economist to The Ecologist; from George Monbiot to FT columnist Nick Butler. Here’s a selection. Critical views on the Hinkley

It’s also worth remembering that according to former Labour spin doctor, Damian McBride, Ed Balls was, if he became Chancellor, planning to review the spiralling costs of new nuclear power plants with a view to scrapping them. He decided this AFTER briefings from the Treasury.

Posted: 25 September 2015

25 September 2015

Hinkley

It is the costliest white elephant in history. No power station, perhaps no building, so expensive has ever been built anywhere. In a modest meadow overlooking the Bristol Channel is to rise a structure that will outstrip in extravagance the Three Gorges dam, St Peter’s Basilica, the Taj Mahal and probably the pyramid of Cheops. It is to be built – you guessed it – by the British taxpayer. You can accuse George Osborne of many things but not of austerity. Hinkley Point C marks a new high watermark in public sector extravagance. As for nuclear plants, the 2010 coalition agreement was explicit. In view of Liberal Democrat opposition, nuclear stations would be built only “provided there was no public subsidy”. It took two Lib Dem energy secretaries, Chris Huhne and Ed Davey, no time to renege on that as the nuclear construction lobbyists got to work on them. The hapless new energy secretary, Amber Rudd, has been forced to describe Hinkley Point as “value for money”. She must be speaking Chinese. Osborne is not just chancellor but energy secretary, aid secretary, foreign secretary and – whisper it not – really prime minister. This week he has been in China, where like Genghis Khan he burns mountains of precious jewels to show off to his hosts. No one dares call him to account. These are dangerous times for the public finances.

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Posted: 25 September 2015

24 September 2015

New Nukes

The UK government and its Chancellor George Osborne are grossly misleading the public over the relative costs of renewable energy and nuclear power, writes Oliver Tickell. Osborne’s claim that nuclear is the ‘cheapest low carbon technology’ is the very reverse of the truth. He and his nuclear plans must be stopped. Take that figure of £80 per MWh for the bids to build onshore wind farms in the UK earlier this year. It’s actually a whole lot higher than it should be. In Germany, wind farms are being built for between £36 and £79 per MWh, although the UK is much windier, providing – in principle – much cheaper power. So why does it cost more here? Because the UK’s unfavourable policy environment is putting off investors and forcing them to seek higher returns. As far as solar power is concerned, the UK’s Solar Trade Association believes that UK solar generation can be fully cost competitive with fossil fuels, with no subsidy at all, by 2020. As for offshore wind, BVG estimate that prices will drop to about 73% of current levels by 2025. Offshore wind prices in the last CFD auction in February were between £114 and £120 per MWh. And 73% of that means prices of £83.22 to £87.60 by 2025 – considerably less than Hinkley C’s £96.24.

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Posted: 24 September 2015

23 September 2015

Hinkley

Campaigners trying to stop a nuclear generator being built in Hinkley in Somerset have written to David Cameron. The Stop Hinkley Campaign has urged the Prime Minister to end co-operation with China, claiming recent explosions in the country have highlighted its poor health and safety record.

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Posted: 23 September 2015

22 September 2015

Hinkley

Today’s announcement of a £2 billion government guarantee for Hinkley C confirms that Chancellor George Osborne and his Treasury cannot be trusted to run the UK’s energy policy – which is precisely what they are doing. On top of decimating the renewables industry, now they’re risking billions on a failed nuclear design owned by failing companies. It’s time to stop the madness. If one thing is clear in the incoherent mess that is UK energy policy today – which is set to to saddle UK taxpayers and energy users with a disastrous combination of high prices, massively subsidised nuclear power, rising carbon emissions as fossil fuels are forced to plug the gaps in both nuclear and renewable power delivery, and a growing likelihood of blackouts – it is this: George Osborne and his Treasury department must get their hands off DECC. Amber Rudd – a former Parliamentary Private Secretary to Osborne – must give way to a new and independent secretary of state, free to put in place rational, coherent and consistent policies on energy and climate change.

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Posted: 22 September 2015