News 2017

Hinkley

Hinkley is a “disaster” that’s “doomed to failure” because it’s using unproven technology on too large a scale, according to Tom Crotty, a director at chemical maker Ineos AG. The U.K. has also over-committed to wind power and should be investing more in solar energy, he said. Without a sound energy policy, the country risks falling behind other countries trying to develop low-carbon energy capacity. Big energy users such as Ineos also need stable policies when making their long-term investment plans. “The government has done quite a lot, let’s be clear, and we wouldn’t blame them for excitement over nuclear,” Crotty said in an interview in London. “We just think the strategy is totally wrong.” Building new gas-fired power plants to fill a gap caused by a three-year delay in Hinkley Point C could save the U.K. 3.2 billion pounds through 2030, according to analysis by BEIS that assumes low gas prices. Filling the delay using offshore wind and carbon capture technology would cost the nation 7.3 billion pounds. Hinkley is expected to be built by 2025. “In terms of the savings through building gas, if we took this option we wouldn’t meet our climate-change target in 2050,” BEIS said by email. It expects a price on greenhouse gas emissions to “add greater weight to the costs of gas in the 2030s, 2040s and beyond.”

Energy Voice 28th June 2017 read more »

The latest announcement from EDF that Hinkley C will be further delayed and that EDF will be hit with even more cost overruns risks making true the prediction of EDF former Finance Officer that the project will bankrupt the company. This may well lead to increasing pressures on the UK Government to put billions of UK taxpayers money into the project. Hinkley C, which former EDF boss Vincent de Rivaz said (in 2007) would be generating by the end of this year (2017) will now, according to EDF, not be generating electricity until 2027. Ten years on and the project is still ten years away! But meanwhile the company has spent massive sums getting not very far towards building the plant. It is now in danger of wasting even the money the French state has pumped into EDF to save the company and build the project in Somerset. Sixteen months ago EDF Finance Director Thomas Piquemal resigned, after EDF decided to make a ‘final investment decision’ over Hinkley C, fearing it could put the whole company at risk. Perhaps this is an echo of policy before privatisation of electricity when nuclear power appeared to cost very little simply because the Government, through the aegis of the nationalised industry, paid for all of the construction costs, not to mention taking responsibility for ‘back-end’ decommissioning costs. Then nobody noticed that they, the taxpayer and electricity consumer, were really picking up the bill. The nuclear industry longs to return to these bad old days.

Dave Toke’s Blog 27th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 28 June 2017

New Nuclear

Nuclear power still has a “key role” in keeping Britain’s lights on and reducing carbon emissions, the new UK energy minister has said, rejecting suggestions that the government was cooling on plans for a new generation of reactors. The nuclear industry was rattled by the absence of any commitment to nuclear power in the Conservative party manifesto before this month’s general election. But Richard Harrington, a Tory MP who moved from his previous job as pensions minister after the election, said nuclear power still had “a big part to play” in maintaining UK energy security and meeting climate goals. His comments at a nuclear industry conference in London came days after the National Audit Office criticised the government for a “risky an d expensive” deal with EDF of France to build Britain’s first new reactors since the 1990s at Hinkley Point in Somerset. EDF confirmed this week that it was conducting a review of Hinkley’s cost and timetable after a report in French newspaper Le Monde claimed that the £18bn budget was set to rise by 1bn-3bn euros and the expected completion date to slip by two years to 2027. The negative headlines about Hinkley have been seized on by critics who say nuclear power is being left behind by the falling cost of renewable energy. However, Mr Harrington said nuclear remained part of the government’s plans for a “diverse mix of energy assets” delivering “reliable and affordable” electricity. “Constructive” talks had been held with Horizon and NuGen, the Japanese-owned companies planning new reactors in Wales and Cumbria, he added.

FT 27th June 2017 read more »

Nothing should be read into the omission of support for the nuclear industry in the Conservative manifesto, the newly appointed energy minister has said. Richard Harrington, who was appointed parliamentary under-secretary state at the Department for business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS) a fortnight ago, said the government remained committed to the nuclear sector in a speech today.

Utility Week 27th June 2017 read more »

Merseyside shipyard and engineering company Cammell Laird has been awarded around £200,000 in Government funding to develop the concept of building off-site modules for nuclear new build projects. Cammell Laird energy division managing director Jonathan Brown said the funding from the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) would be used run a series of events examining how best to build and test large modules at ‘off-site’ locations before transporting them to nuclear sites for installation.

Business Desk 28th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 28 June 2017

Wylfa

As the first concrete is poured at the controversial Hinkley Point C, Britain’s second new nuclear power plant for the last 30 years is moving along at an impressive pace. Hitachi subsidiary Horizon Nuclear Power has applied for a licence to build the plant at Wylfa in Wales, with the hope of producing electricity by the early 2020s. Britain’s nuclear fleet is ageing, with all of its plants due to begin decommissioning by 2023. Currently, they make up around 20% of baseload power and without them the UK will need to act fast to secure the country’s energy supply. As such, new nuclear has become a hot topic and Wylfa is set to become an important part of the new strategy as it will take over from the previous Magnox reactor, which began decommissioning at a nearby site on the Isle of Anglesey in 2015. So far the plant has received a lot less public scrutiny and condemnation than its counterpart in Somerset, working within a community comfortable with nuclear power and with a lower level of government involvement. But what challenges will it have to face?

Power Technology 26th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 28 June 2017

Hunterston

THE public has received assurances from the police regarding policing at Hunterston following recent terrorist atrocities in Manchester and London. Largs Community Councillor Margaret Wood said: “Sometimes people are a bit afraid of the situation, and then we have Hunterston and I know it is well patrolled, but what the older community are worried about is what happens if something happens at Hunterston? “The information I have been giving them is that the power plant is well secure and everything is in hand with officers and it is well protected.

Ardrossan Herald 26th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 28 June 2017

Brexit & SMRs

The government has set up a new team to spearhead the UK’s withdrawal from Euratom, a senior official said this morning. In a speech at a Nuclear Industry Association conference this morning, Matt Clarke of the civil nuclear and resilience directorate at the department for business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS) said the new team had been set up within the department. He told delegates at the Nuclear New Build conference that the team would be involved in negotiations with the EU about establishing a nuclear co-operation arrangements with key partner states and establishing a new domestic nuclear safeguarding arrangements. Last week’s Queen’s Speech contained a bill to create a domestic nuclear safeguarding regime to replace the existing pan-European arrangements provided by Euratom. Clarke said: “Exit [from Euratom] does not affect the government’s aims of maintaining close co-operation on civil nuclear safety with Euratom members and the rest of the world.” He also tried to reassure the conference that the government remains committed to its small modular reactors (SMRs) competition despite a lack of progress since its launch last March. Clarke said: “The government recognises the pot of SMRs. There are a number of potential benefits in terms of providing a secure, low carbon energy source as well as broader industrial benefits and high value jobs.” He said that BEIS had met the companies which had submitted entries to the competition and would be “communicating next steps in due course.” He added that deciding how SMRs fit into the government’s wider industrial strategy was one of the “key questions” being addressed by NIA chair Lord Hutton, who is leading work on shaping a tailored “sector deal” for the nuclear industry.

Utility Week 27th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 28 June 2017

Flamanville

[Machine Translation] Monday 26 and Tuesday 27 June, a group of nuclear experts must give its opinion on the tank and the cap of the Flamanville EPR, whose steel is not sufficiently homogenous in carbon. IRSN made a critical report on the properties of the lid. Reporter explains this complicated file. The Nuclear Safety Standards Group (GP-ESPN) has been referred by the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN), who is due to say on Tuesday if the EPR tank is strong enough Its manufacturing defects. In order to give their opinions, the 31 experts (civil society, industrial representatives, researchers, etc.) are studying a technical report drawn up by the IRSN (Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety). According to this report, which the AFP has been able to consult, the main concern is in the lid of the tank, while the suitability of the bottom is not totally questioned. Without thorough and regular checks throughout the operation of the reactor, “the ability to service the actual tank lid (…) is not permanently acquired,” reports the report. He adds that ‘EDF is currently unable to implement’ the necessary controls and that, if this situation is not resolved, the use of the current cover ‘can not be envisaged beyond a few years Operating “. In other words, EDF could have to replace the lid of the tank of the EPR. But it will be up to the ASN to conclude in its final decision, expected in the autumn after public consultation.

Reporterre 27th June 2017 read more »

[Machine Translation] The file of the EPR of Flamanville enters its last phase. Since its conception, this power station of third generation has only chained the galleys. Whether in terms of timing and costs (they have tripled to 10.5 billion euros). But the most serious incident concerns the Flamanville vat. Two years ago, the Nuclear Safety Authority announced that it had too high concentrations of carbon. “A serious or very serious anomaly,” ASN president Pierre-Franck Chevet said, because this incident could reduce the capacity of the tank to withstand pressures and thermal shocks. On the other hand, the tank weighing not less than 450 tons is one of the few parts of a plant that cannot be changed. Re-doing another would take years. This would be a fatal blow to Flamanville, EDF’s takeover of Areva’s reactor business and Hinkley Point’s English EPRs (which depend on the successful launch of Flamanville). Ultimately, it is the entire French nuclear industry that, if the ASN has a negative opinion, may find itself in the middle.

Challenges 26th June 2017 read more »

[Machine Translation] EPR of Flamanville: a report warns EDF on the reliability of the lid of the tank. The operator may have to quickly replace this reactor masterpiece after commissioning, which is still scheduled for the end of 2018.EDF executives have been overly optimistic, obviously convinced that the future reactor tank of the Flamanville (Manche) EPR reactor would pass without difficulty before the “judges” of the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) and His armed wing, the Institute of Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN). The situation is ultimately more complex: it is not excluded that the plant operator must at least change the lid of this tank, only a few years after the EPR has been put into service. Meeting on Monday 26th and Tuesday 27th June, the 31 members of the permanent group of experts for nuclear pressure equipment (industrialists, associations …) took note of a long report (193 pages) of the IRSN and the Direction des Equipment under ASN’s nuclear pressure, which is very critical in some respects. If it does not question the future of the powerful third generation reactor (1,650 MW), designed by Areva in the 1990s, it puts an additional mortgage on a project that will already cost 10.5 billion d ‘ Three times more than expected.

Le Monde 26th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 28 June 2017

Energy Policy

The Clean Growth Plan is to be published in the autumn when Parliament returns after the summer recess, according to newly appointed climate change minister Claire Perry. Speaking in her first appearance in the role during questions in the House of Commons this morning, the MP for Devizes explained her intention to publish the long overdue document following the return of MPs on 5 September 2017. However, she was not clear how close to this date the CGP would be published, stating only: “My intention is to publish the plan when the House returns from the summer recess.” “I look forward to cross-party discussion and, hopefully, consensus on a document that is hugely important both for Britain’s domestic future and for our international leadership,” she added.

Solar Power Portal 27th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 28 June 2017

Utilities

A year after the break-up of Eon and RWE in a sweeping restructuring of Germany’s power industry, investors are bracing for the next wave of upheaval in European utilities. Bankers and industry executives say further deals look certain as electricity companies scramble to adapt to the accelerating shift towards renewable energy. The £318m sale last week of two UK gas-fired power stations by Centrica to EPH of the Czech Republic was the latest example of a utility reshaping its portfolio. Now, expectations are growing of bigger transactions to come. Much of the anticipation is focused on the new companies created by the separation of Eon and RWE. Both German utilities split themselves in two, with one unit focused on traditional thermal generating businesses – dominated by coal and gas-fired power – and the other comprising “cleaner” businesses, such as renewables, electricity distribution and consumer services. Uniper, the conventional power business spun out of Eon, has been touted by analysts and bankers as a potential target for Fortum, the Finnish utility. Meanwhile, Innogy, the clean energy business split from RWE, has been linked with Engie of France. Whatever constellation of deals emerges, it looks increasingly likely that the ripples from restructuring of RWE and Eon will not stop at Germany’s borders. As Mr Critchlow says: “Once one player consolidates, like at a dance, everybody will look for a preferred dance partner.” Helping customers reduce their energy bills does not sound like an especially appealing business model for an electricity company. Yet that was the aim when the UK arm of Engie paid £330m to acquire a business specialising in making buildings more energy efficient from Keepmoat, the construction company. “There’s more value today in helping reduce consumption than in selling energy itself,” says Wilfrid Petrie, head of Engie in the UK. He likens the shift to the one undergone by the telecoms industry, which today finds its growth in services and content rather than the line rental and phone calls that used to be its core business.

FT 27th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 28 June 2017

Cybersecurity

The Chernobyl nuclear site has been caught up in the massive cyber attack that has caused chaos across Europe. Workers at the power plant that was the sight of a nuclear explosion in 1986 have needed to use hand-held counters to measure radiation after computers were taken offline by malware. The virus, identified as a modified version of Petya, has targeted companies, banks and airports, across Europe – mostly Ukraine and Russia.

Metro 27th June 2017 read more »

The monitoring systems at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant have been broken by a worldwide hack. Systems usually used to monitor the area around the power station – which is still an active and dangerous area following the disaster in 1986 – are not working because of the cyber attack, Ukrainian authorities said. Those areas must now be monitored manually, according to a statement. The entire country of Ukraine is being hit by a sustained cyber attack that has hit some of its most important state and private infrastructure. Though the attack began in the country – and most of the damage is still being done there – it is rapidly spreading across the world, hitting firms across Europe and America.

Independent 27th June 2017 read more »

Mirror 27th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 28 June 2017

Rosatom

For most companies, problems for three of their biggest competitors would probably be cause for celebration. But at Russian nuclear conglomerate Rosatom, the recent setbacks at rivals Westinghouse, Areva and Kepco have instead caused concern. Their woes are representative of the wider threat from renewable and other sources of energy to the nuclear industry, according to Kirill Komarov, Rosatom’s deputy chief executive, amid ambitious growth plans by the sprawling state-run group. Many analysts still see Rosatom, a conglomerate that spans the nuclear energy industry, as a beneficiary of the crisis given its ambitions. It is managing 42 power plant projects in 12 countries, including EU members Finland and Hungary, commissioned 10 nuclear units in the past decade, and has a 10-year order book worth $133bn, excluding its domestic business. This plays a part in the forecasts of the International Energy Agency of a tripling of global nuclear capacity by 2060. Rosatom’s increased influence has unnerved some, however. Its role as a 34 per cent shareholder and supplier of finance and atomic fuel for Finland’s Hanhikivi plant almost caused the collapse of the Finnish government in 2014, when the country’s Green party left the previous ruling coalition in protest. The EU took three years to approve Hungary’s Pak II plant, built and financed by Rosatom, amid fears in Brussels of Russian leverage on the bloc’s eastern flank.But given the troubles at western rivals and the pivot by Seoul, some industry analysts say only China’s collection of state-controlled nuclear firms have similar scale to challenge Rosatom.

FT 28th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 28 June 2017