News

Hinkley

The cost and timetable for the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant are subject to a “full review”, its developer EDF has admitted, after reports that the company expects the project to be years late and billions of pounds over budget. The French energy company has promised to deliver power from the £18 billion project in Somerset by the end of 2025 but Le Monde said that this was no longer seen as realistic by insiders, who said it would start up in 2027. The delays are expected to result in the cost of the project, funded jointly by EDF and CGN, China’s state nuclear company, increasing by up to 3 billion euros, it said. Yesterday EDF said that “a full review of the costs and schedule of the Hinkley Point C project is in progress” and the results would be disclosed “soon”. Further delays to Hinkley, which was once envisaged to be up and running this year, will raise more questions about the subsidy for the project, as well as Britain’s strategy to keep the lights on as old coal and nuclear plants shut. Yesterday EDF highlighted its annual report, published in March, which referred to the Hinkley review in the small print. At that stage the report said that “no material adverse impact has been identified on the project total cost or completion date”. It also confirmed that EDF and CGN were committed to fund a “contingency margin” of up to £2.7 billion, on top of the £18 billion budget. EDF is bracing itself for a decision by French safety regulators over whether it must replace part or all of a component in the European pressurised reactor it is building at Flamanville in France. It is expected to be told that it must replace the cover of the steel reactor vessel within a few years of the reactor starting up after it was found to contain too much carbon, making it weaker than planned. Flamanville is running six years late and is set to cost three times more than the original estimate. EDF set the 2025 start-up date for Hinkley Point in October 2015. It then suffered almost a year of delays after struggling to arrange its own financing for the project and then faced a review by Theresa May, but insisted the 2025 date still stood. EDF has however warned that Brexit could delay delivery of major energy projects in the UK.

Times 27th June 2017 read more »

French state-owned power company EDF said on Monday that it was still reviewing the costs and schedule of its planned Hinkley Point C power station in Britain, responding to a media report that said the project faced cost overruns. “As indicated in the 2016 annual financial report, a full review of the costs and schedule of the Hinkley Point C project is in progress following the financial investment decision and in accordance with the project company’s rules of governance,” EDF said in a statement. “EDF will disclose the results of this review as soon as it is completed,” it said. Le Monde newspaper reported over the weekend that Hinkley Point C would have a budget overrun of between 1-3 billion euros ($1.1-$3.4 billion) as its construction could be delayed by two years.

Reuters 26th June 2017 read more »

New York Times 26th June 2017 read more »

The lesson of the Hinkley Point C saga is not to repeat it. Contractors started pouring concrete for the Hinkley Point C power station three months ago and could be still at it in ten years’ time. By then, there is a chance that the economics of energy will have suffered a surprise upheaval making nuclear power genuinely affordable, but that chance is slim to vanishing. It is more likely that current trends driving down the cost of renewable and gas-fired power stations will continue. Hinkley Point C will meanwhile be vulnerable to the sort of delays and cost-overruns that have plagued every other reactor so far built to the same design, none of which is yet producing power. If experience is any guide, electricity from Hinkley Point will command more than twice the price of power from other sources, including low-carbon renewables. The value of subsidies to honour that “strike price”, which is meant to compensate the contractors for taking on the risk of the project, will have more than quintupled since being agreed. Hinkley Point C will create jobs but in a white elephant that will be technologically out of date before being connected to the grid. It is being built in part to keep the lights on without relying on highly polluting coal, but mainly because technology moves faster than bureaucracy. In complex matters politicians tend to rely on bureaucrats’ advice, and many backed the plan before Theresa May gave her final approval last year. Not one had the courage to cancel it when it was still possible to do so without exposing taxpayers to the risk of multibillion-pound compensation claims. Sources close to an internal review of the project under way at EDF, the lead contractor, say that its budget is already edging up towards £20 billion from last year’s £18 billion estimate. Its completion date is now expected to be 2027 rather than 2025. The value to EDF and its Chinese partner of the “contract for difference” agreed in the deal has risen from £6 billion to £30 billion as the price of gas and renewables, especially solar, has fallen. The most alarming figure in the NAO report is an estimate of £22 billion that investors in Hinkley Point C could claim in compensation were it to be scrapped.

Times 27th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 27 June 2017

Nuclear Jobs

The nuclear power industry’s new build programme has the potential to almost double the number of UK jobs across the civil nuclear sector. New figures published by the Nuclear Industry Association 2017 employment survey shows that the Hinkley Point C, Wylfa Newydd and Moorside new build projects could create more than 50,000 job opportunities during construction, with at least 3,000 permanent roles spread across the three sites once operational. Currently there are 1,500 workers on site at Hinkley Point C and overall the project is due to create 25,000 job opportunities. Additionally, NuGeneration’s Moorside programme in Cumbria will create 20,000 jobs during construction and Horizon Nuclear Power estimate 6,000 people will be on site at Wylfa Newydd during the peak construction phase of the project. The Government’s commitment to a wide-ranging industrial strategy was reiterated in the Queen’s Speech, and the NIA believes the nuclear sector has an important role to play in delivering a strategy which will “spread prosperity and opportunity across the country”. As the 2017 Nuclear Jobs Map demonstrates, the industry is spread across the country and the sector will help drive a number of the Government’s 10 pillars of industrial strategy, with jobs in engineering, manufacturing, construction and decommissioning and world-leading expertise being exported across the world. Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, commented: “We know new nuclear will help ensure the lowest-cost route to decarbonisation, generating the reliable, round the clock, low carbon electricity the UK needs.

Scottish Energy News 27th June 2017 read more »

The civil nuclear industry employs almost 16,000 people in Cumbria, according to a new study. The Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) has just published the 2017 version of its annual ‘job map’, which shows where each of the 65,000 people in the UK’s sector is employed. The organisation has also said that new build projects – such as the £10bn proposal for a power plant in Moorside, near Sellafield – have the potential to double the number of jobs in the industry.

Carlisle News & Star 26th June 2017 read more »

Politics Home 26th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 27 June 2017

Flamanville

The cover of the reactor vessel EDF is building in Flamanville, France, may not be able to function more than a few years unless the utility can do additional tests which so far it has not be able to, nuclear regulator ASN said in a report. While the long-awaited report, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, concludes the European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) is fit for service, EDF may have to replace its vessel cover soon after its scheduled start-up in 2018. The requirement is a major blow for EDF, which will have to start planning for a costly replacement of a key part before the reactor even starts up. The reputational damage could also add to concerns in Britain about its 18 billion pound ($23 billion) project to build two similar EPR reactors in southwest England. The French regulator had ordered a deep review of the Flamanville vessel following the discovery in 2015 of carbon concentrations in the base and cover of the containment vessel, which make its steel more brittle. The report – led by the IRSN, the ASN’s technical arm – is being reviewed by a group of independent experts on Monday and Tuesday. This autumn, ASN will partly base its final ruling on Flamanville on the experts’ recommendations. The ASN report states that while the base of the vessel is fit for service despite the need for increased monitoring over its lifetime, manufacturer Areva NP has not been able to conduct sufficient tests on the cover as it is no longer accessible. These controls are indispensable in order to ensure the reactor’s safety over its 60-year lifetime, the report says.

Reuters 26th June 2017 read more »

[Machine Translation] A group of experts is meeting Monday and Tuesday to discuss the “fitness for service” of the tank and lid of the Flamanville EPR. About thirty members of the Permanent Expert Group on Nuclear Pressure Equipment (GPESPN) have met since Monday morning and for two days at the ASN to discuss the “fitness for service” of The tank and the lid of the EPR under construction at Flamanville (Manche). Two years ago, ASN announced that the steel used to forge the caps of these two parts had a carbon content above the expected levels. What could potentially weaken the resistance of these critical equipment for the safety of the nuclear reactor, which is scheduled to be commissioned in 2019 by EDF after years of delays. Since the revelation of this “serious anomaly, even very serious” by ASN President Pierre-Franck Chevet, Areva and EDF have demonstrated the resistance of the tank and its lid, Despite the underperformance of steel. After six months of calculating the calculations carried out by Areva on representative parts of the tank and the lid, IRSN and the ASN service specialized in pressure equipment have drafted a first technical report, which Serves as a working basis for members of the GPESPN. According to Reuters, quoting the text given to the experts, “the rapporteur considers that the anomaly does not call into question the suitability for service of the bottom of the tank provided that the controls of the bottom of the tank provided by EDF Are adapted so as to be able to detect the set of defects “. EDF believes that these controls can be carried out. On the other hand, “the rapporteur considers that the suitability for the current lid of the EPR reactor tank in Flamanville is not sustainable in the absence of sufficient in-service controls. And the debate crystallizes on the ability to control the performance of the lid. EDF does not therefore exclude replacing this part, within a few years, as the ASN may request. After two days of discussions between experts (including EDF and Areva executives, as well as DCNS, Bureau Veritas, Onet Technologies, metalworkers, etc.), the GPESPN will deliver its opinion, Before the ASN college deliberates to issue its preliminary decision. This will then be submitted for public consultation, before a definitive opinion is sent by the ASN, expected in September.

Les Echos 26th June 2017 read more »

[Machine Translation] EPR of Flamanville: a report warns EDF on the reliability of the lid of the tank. The Nuclear Safety Authority considers that this centerpiece of the plant will have to be rapidly replaced after the reactor is put into service by the end of 2018. At the end of 2016, Areva and EDF submitted a dossier on this tank, a 420-tonne forged item in the Areva plant in Creusot Forge (Saône-et-Loire) in 2006-2007. According to the manufacturer of this component and its future operator, it passed some 2 000 tests and checks successfully, in the presence of ASN engineers. These tests were to ensure that, despite the too high carbon concentration of its bottom and lid, the tank of this third-generation pressurized nuclear reactor, which will be operated for at least sixty years, is capable of Resist thermal shock and high pressures, including accidental situations. If the tank itself is deemed fit for service, its lid will have to be changed a few years after the start of operation, scheduled for the end of 2018. “The use of the current tank cover Could be envisaged beyond a few years of operation without the necessary controls to strengthen the second level of defense in depth “, notes the report of the Institute of Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) , Armed ASN, revealed by the Reuters news agency. EDF says that the Flamanville EPR will start at the end of 2018 – six years behind schedule and a threefold increase in the initial estimate (to 10.5 billion euros). The approval of the tank by the ASN is one of the conditions set by the European Commission to authorize the purchase of Areva NP, the manufacturer of the reactors, by EDF. The recapitalization of Areva (5 billion euros) planned this year is also subject to a green light on the tank.

Le Monde 26th June 2017 read more »

[Machine Translation] They are only five hundred, but they hold your lives in their hands. Experts from the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN), reinforced by the 1,700 agents of the Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Institute (IRSN), are responsible for controlling the activities of the French industry, from power plants to Reactors and fuel to the laboratories of the Atomic Energy Commission (CEA). On Monday 26 and Tuesday 27 June, they were to discuss the future of the EPR in Flamanville (Manche). Despite defects in the forging of the tank where the nuclear reaction occurred, they were about to judge it to be good for the service, by means of reinforced controls. And thus to reopen a trial in legitimacy that had almost disappeared as the nuclear “gendarme” was more intractable in its controls and more severe in its opinions. The President of this independent authority, appointed for six years by the President of the Republic, is irrevocable. Over the years, ASN has gained legitimacy, leading the hard life to EDF and Areva and establishing itself as one of the most respected authorities in the world. First under the rule of André-Claude Lacoste, then of his successor Pierre-Franck Chevet. Would ASN do too much? Would she be overly anxious? “A problem can not be solved by denying it,” replies the current patron willingly to his detractors. He did not hide, in January, that “the situation with regard to nuclear safety and radiation protection is worrying”. Not that the French are under the threat of a nuclear catastrophe, but because we have entered the post-Fukushima era and that “an unprecedented period of stakes” opens for this sector. The list of these stakes is long: modernization of the 58 EDF reactors and spent fuel reprocessing plants, upgrading Areva plants manufacturing plant components, Cigéo control, the contested underground waste storage project Very radioactive in Bure (Meuse), certification of new reactors … And all this in a context where calendars and costs erode everywhere, such as those of the EPR, the international Iter project or the Jules Horowitz research reactor.

Le Monde 27th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 27 June 2017

Wylfa

Horizon has completed its latest consultation on the Wylfa Newydd nuclear power station on Anglesey. But concerns have been raised about the proposed housing for construction workers on the project. More than 1,000 people across North Wales were updated on the proposals as part of the latest phase of consultation. As part of its application to build the power station – known as a development consent order – Horizon will submit a consultation report covering the issues reported at every stage of formal public consultation. The company revealed revised plans in May 2017, including a reduction in the area taken up by the main power station. The amount of workers’ accommodation was also reduced to a single temporary campus at the construction site. Concerns have been raised about the housing, with many workers expected to be based in holiday and private rented accommodation.

Insider Media 27th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 27 June 2017

Energy Policy

The UK’s ambitious target of slashing carbon emissions by more than half within 13 years is at risk because of government dithering on energy policy, industry professionals have warned. A survey by the Energy Institute, the professional body for the energy sector, has found that four fifths of its members believe the UK is currently on track to miss the 2030 goal. “The mood among our members is that energy policy is on pause and ministers need to hit the play button,” said Louise Kingham, chief executive of the Energy Institute. Among the list of stalled government decisions are the fate of a multimillion-pound competition to build mini nuclear power plants and whether to strike a subsidy deal for a pioneering tidal lagoon at Swansea. A flagship plan on how to meet the UK’s 2030 target of cutting emissions by 57% compared to 1990 levels, originally expected last year, is now “long overdue,” Kingham added. Jim Skea, the president of the institute, said of the delayed Clean Power Plan: “If we’re going to keep on track [with binding carbon targets] there is an urgent need to get that published.” The group’s members oppose an energy price cap which many thought would hurt investment. But they favoured stronger action on energy efficiency – such as better building standards – as the best way to meet carbon targets and restore trust in the industry. The institute’s leaders also highlighted the need to begin decarbonising heat for homes and business. They said the government had been slow to look at alternatives to natural gas, because alternatives such as hydrogen or electrification were seen as harder than ways for cutting emissions from power, such as windfarms. As a result, the group’s members thought the contribution from gas for heating would only decline modestly by 2030. “It’s this gap on things like energy efficiency and a heat policy – that’s the real thing that will hold back investment and grow the uncertainty,” said Skea.

Guardian 26th June 2017 read more »

The UK’s ambitious target of slashing carbon emissions by more than half within 13 years is at risk because of government dithering on energy policy, industry professionals have warned.

Edie 26th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 27 June 2017

Brexit

The 2017 Energy Industry Barometer surveyed 939 members of the Energy Institute. They said access to a skilled workforce after Brexit should be prioritised, and that EU energy and climate laws should be retained to ensure no disruption in supply or prices. “Workforce availability and the smooth transition of energy and climate change laws need to be priorities,” said Jim Skea, president of the Energy Institute. “The stakes are high for the UK’s energy economy,” commented Steve Halliday, former CEO of the National Grid. “The potential is there for significant industrial benefit and emission reduction at least cost to consumers and taxpayers, but sound policy making should not be drowned out by Brexit or other political upheavals.” Nuclear power stood out as the only area where respondents thought the government’s policies had created a positive impact in the last twelve months, thanks to the green light being given for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station. However, there is a backdrop of uncertainty for the UK’s nuclear industry, with the government committed to withdrawing from Euratom, the continent wide regulatory association.

Institute of Mechanical Engineers 26th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 27 June 2017

Proliferation

Letter Dr T Douglas Reilly: The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal) is excellent; it is far better and more extensive than I ever expected. If followed by all parties, it blocks all avenues for Iran to develop nuclear explosives. To be sure, it is vehemently opposed by Israel’s prime minister Netanyahu and Republicans in Congress. I am a physicist who worked in nuclear safeguards and non-proliferation for 38 years at the Los Alamos national laboratory; the majority of my efforts were for and with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that has the responsibility of inspecting the nuclear facilities of states signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT). Among other things, I developed programmes that have been part of the initial IAEA inspectors’ training since 1980. I’ve trained many of the inspectors who inspect Iran today, and have inspected Iran’s facilities since it signed and ratified the NPT shortly after it came into force in 1970.

Guardian 26th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 27 June 2017

Westinghouse

SCANA Corp said on Monday it extended its assessment for six weeks of an unfinished U.S. nuclear power plant being built for the utility by a unit of Toshiba Corp, which is seeking to cut ties to the financially disastrous project. The South Carolina project, known as VC Summer, and a similar half-finished nuclear power plant in Georgia known as Vogtle, are billions of dollars over budget and pushed Toshiba’s Westinghouse Electric Co LLC into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March.

Reuters 26th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 27 June 2017

US

The latest issue of the U.S. Energy Information’s “Electric Power Monthly” (with data through April 30) reveals that—for the first time since the beginning of the nuclear era—renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar—inc. small-scale PV, wind) are now providing a greater share of the nation’s electrical generation than nuclear power.

Eco Watch 26th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 27 June 2017

Czech Republic

A nuclear power station’s publicity stunt resulted in a meltdown, after they ran a bikini contest in order to choose their next intern. Czech Power generation conglomerate CEZ decided it would be a good idea to get ten high school graduates to strip down to their bikinis and pose in a cooling tower of its Temelin nuclear power plant.

Metro 26th June 2017 read more »

Mirror 26th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 27 June 2017