News September 2015

21 September 2015

Hinkley/Bradwell

The UK has opened the way for the first Chinese-designed nuclear power plant in the west, saying Beijing could use Britain to launch a global rollout of its technology. Amber Rudd, energy secretary, said she wanted Beijing to take the lead in developing new nuclear plants in Britain. She said China was expected to lead the construction of a Beijing-designed nuclear power plant in Essex, in eastern England, its first in the west, under a proposed joint deal with EDF, the French energy group, to build a new generation of UK reactors. “They very much want to have their design up and running in the UK,” she told the Financial Times on a visit to Beijing. “That’s because we have such tough standards of regulation everyone can have confidence they are safe and show that they have a great operation to take elsewhere.” Her comments came as chancellor George Osborne announced during the same visit an initial £2bn government guarantee for the Hinkley Point nuclear power station in south-west England in an attempt to boost the much delayed project, which has major Chinese backing. Mr Osborne said the £24.5bn project, to be built by EDF to a French design in partnership with two Chinese companies, would “open the door to unprecedented co-operation” between the UK and China on more nuclear stations.

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Posted: 21 September 2015

20 September 2015

Hinkley

UK support for low-carbon energy technologies is running at £250 million a year, writes Chris Goodall. Yet the government wants to throw four times more, every year for 35 years, at the Hinkley C nuclear power station that could take almost as long to build as Salisbury Cathedral. Unfortunately, the main competing design [to the EPR] also vying for permission to construct nuclear plants in the UK, Toshiba’s AP1000, is also experiencing huge construction problems in China and the US. Electricity consumers in the state of Georgia have just had another 6% added to their bills to pay for the delays in the completion of the power station at Vogtle. Hinkley will be paid at least double the current wholesale price of electricity if it is ever completed. This means it will receive a subsidy from UK electricity bill payers of about £1.1bn a year, more than the total cost of the Feed-In Tariffs for solar PV and wind that the government recently curtailed because of a shortage of money. This subsidy will continue for 35 years, far longer than the support for any other technology. The UK is saddling itself with a billion pound burden each year for more than a generation. If the project takes until 2025 to finish, a baby born today will be 45 years old when the subsidy ceases. Other countries – less bewitched by the allure of nuclear – are making fast progress on the road to energy systems that can cope well with daily, and seasonal, swings in power production from renewables. And in many parts of the world, solar and wind are now costing little more than half what the UK government is promising EdF for its risky Somerset plan. Solar, in particular, is now priced at less than a quarter of five years ago and the cost reductions are continuing. Construction is 50 times faster; a large solar farm takes 12 weeks to build compared to the 12 years for the Normandy reactor. UK Government R&D support for all alternative energy technologies is probably running at about £250m a year, a quarter of what will be spent on eventually subsidising Hinkley Point. The rational choice today is for the UK to back away from this generation of nuclear power and invest properly both in next generation of atomic energy and in renewable energy technologies that can shift the UK rapidly to a green future.

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Posted: 20 September 2015

19 September 2015

Hinkley

We are pro-nuclear, but Hinkley C must be scrapped: George Monbiot, Mark Lynas and Chris Goodall. Overpriced, overcomplicated and overdue, the Hinkley project needs to be killed off and the money invested into other low-carbon technologies. Hinkley C bears all the distinguishing features of a white elephant: overpriced, overcomplicated and overdue. The delay that was announced recently should be the final straw. The government should kill the project. The greatest problem Hinkley C imposes is energy blight. As the project is delayed, the power it would otherwise have generated is likely to be supplied instead by fossil fuel plants. If it does indeed turn out to be unconstructable, the result is likely to be a panicked scramble back into gas and even, perhaps, coal. We urge the government to scrap this plant, and to use the money promised to its investors to accelerate the deployment of other low carbon technologies, both renewable and nuclear. We would like to see the government produce a comparative study of nuclear technologies, including the many proposed designs for small modular reactors, and make decisions according to viability and price, rather than following the agenda of the companies which have its ear.

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Posted: 19 September 2015

18 September 2015

Bradwell

It is now pretty clear that David Cameron will sign an agreement with the Chinese Government, at the time of the State Visit of President Xi Jinping in October, that will enable two Chinese state-owned nuclear companies to develop the site at Bradwell which is currently owned by EdF. Development is likely to happen rather quicker than anyone might have imagined as, given the financial problems and delays with Hinkley Point, the Bradwell site may well get top priority as the Government is anxious to lever in Chinese investment. ‘Cameron’s folly means the sacrifice of the Blackwater estuary,’ said Professor Andy Blowers, Chair of the Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG).

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Posted: 18 September 2015

17 September 2015

Hinkley

The chief executive of EDF Energy, Vincent De Rivaz, says the final investment decision on Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant is close to hand following rigorous planning, but took aim at what he called ‘doubters and procrastinators’ whose ends were to derail the project. Mr De Rivaz said at a visit to Dungeness nuclear power plant that rigorous scrutiny of the project has: “helped us to improve our plans and bring us to the brink of a Final Investment Decision.”The decision which has been delayed by two years is predicted to be made next month when the President of China, Xi Jinping visits Britain. Speaking at the visitor centre at Dungeness B nuclear power station in Kent on Tuesday he professed gratitude for the rightful scrutiny the project has been subjected to “from Parliament, the European Commission, the regulator, the unions, from our workforce, suppliers, customers, partners and many other stakeholders.” He continued: “We are approaching the Final Investment Decision for our new nuclear project Hinkley Point C. As we do, scrutiny has naturally increased. Just as we embrace transparency, we welcome scrutiny. We relish challenge based on facts. Be in no doubt – Hinkley Point C is a vast undertaking.” “New nuclear is good for Britain and Hinkley Point C is the first step in the journey. So we need to get it right. This analysis has been conducted through a rigorous, comprehensive and exhaustive set of processes which has taken the best part of a decade.” ” The processes are led by responsible and accountable people who concluded that it is an investment which Britain needs and that it is based on a good deal and a strong project.” De Rivaz paid tribute to the resilience being shown in pushing the project through as overseen by three Prime Ministers and eight Secretaries of State.

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Posted: 17 September 2015

16 September 2015

Hinkley

Current low electricity prices are irrelevant when judging whether the proposed Hinkley Point nuclear power plant is a good deal, EDF has claimed. Vincent de Rivaz, EDF Energy chief executive, issued a defence of the controversial £24.5bn project, insisting it is “affordable and fair” – despite mounting calls for it to be abandoned. Ministers have promised the French energy giant it will be paid £92.50 for every megawatt-hour of electricity the proposed Somerset power station will generate for 35 years. Critics argue the price, which is more than double the current wholesale price of power, represents poor value for money for consumers who will be forced to subsidise it through their energy bills. Mr de Rivaz said: “Some critics have compared the strike price to the current electricity price. The price today is not a relevant comparison to the electricity Hinkley Point will produce in decades to come. According to data from the ICIS Power Index, wholesale power this week was trading at £42.41, down from £52.41 on the day the initial Hinkley deal was agreed in October 2013. Mr de Rivaz insisted that Hinkley – which EDF recently admitted would no longer come online in 2023 as planned – would “be there when the country needs it”.

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Posted: 16 September 2015

15 September 2015

Bradwell

A Chinese-designed nuclear power plant could be built in the UK quicker than expected as a result of delays experienced at Hinkley Point project, which is to be built by France’s EDF Energy, said Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield. The potential site for the Chinese-designed nuclear power plant is at Bradwell, in Essex, and the forthcoming visit to China by the British Chancellor George Osborne will be focused on discussing the details of the Bradwell project, Burnett said. “Our chancellor has said that we can’t wait forever for Hinkley Point and he is going to China next week. He is signalling as far as he could that the possibilities to build with China is going up the agenda rapidly.” The China visit led by Osborne will be followed by visits by officials from the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Department of Business and Innovation; talks will be completed before the state visit by President Xi Jinping in October. This series of events lead to the increased probability of rapid progress for UK-China cooperation on nuclear power generation, Burnett said. The EDF-led Hinkley Point project has already attracted political support from the British government as the first in a new generation of UK nuclear power stations, but announcements by EDF earlier this month about potential delays has made industry experts and the UK government consider alternative options. One of these options is to accelerate progress on a Chinese-led nuclear plant project, and Burnett said he believes this is a viable option because of the proven efficiency and speed of the Chinese nuclear sector.

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Posted: 15 September 2015

14 September 2015

Hinkley

The endgame for the UK’s new reactor project at Hinkley Point is nearing. A Chinese state visit to the UK in October may be the make-or-break point for the project to get the go-ahead. As that moment approaches, we give five reasons not to build the plant. This is an excerpt from our EU Power Weekly, which is available to our BNEF EMEA and BNEF All clients. Last week, French energy giant EDF announced delays to two key new reactor projects. Firstly, Flamanville 3 in France will only come online in 2018, six years behind the initial plan and three times over budget. Also, Hinkley Point C in the UK will not be completed by 2023 due to delays in reaching a final investment decision. This adds to the uncertainty around the 3.2GW reactor project. Here are five reasons not to build Hinkley: It is extremely difficult to build; It is very expensive; It may not be necessary; Hinkley won’t play nice with wind and solar; It is a cost for future generations.

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Posted: 14 September 2015

13 September 2015

Moorside

Dozens of pylons could be built through the Lake District to connect up a proposed new nuclear power station, under plans critics warn would cause “immense damage” to the precious scenery of the National Park. Ministers hope new nuclear reactors will be built at Moorside, near Sellafield in Cumbria, to help address Britain’s looming energy crunch. But new high-voltage power lines will be required to hook the plant up to the grid and campaigners say the proposed route south of the plant, which includes a 15 mile stretch though the National Park, will blight the landscape. A new campaign launching on Monday from groups including Friends of the Lake District, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the Open Spaces Society will urge N ational Grid, the company in charge of Britain’s high-voltage networks, to rethink its plans. The cables should either be taken offshore – an option National Grid rejected earlier this summer- or be buried underground, they argue.

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Posted: 13 September 2015

12 September 2015

New Nuclear

Britain needs a degree of energy security and that will be provided by nuclear base load.The mistake would be for policymakers to abandon long-term plans to address energy shortages simply because the oil price has tumbled over the past year. It is not so long ago that experts were predicting the world would reach peak oil production in the year 2000.The glib response to these changes would be for policymakers in Britain to say forget expensive plans for new nuclear and build a fleet of natural gas or oil burning plants instead. The debate is not made any easier by the struggle EDF is having in getting Britain first new nuclear plant at Hinckley Point in Somerset off the ground. Several objections are being raised. The first is that the proposed third-generation pressurised water reactor (remains a problem technology because of delays at plants in Brittany and Finland. It is not encouraging, but better the teething problems are resolved by engineers overseas rather than in the UK.

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Posted: 12 September 2015