Ministers challenged on future of nuclear energy Industry dogged by doubts about China and rise of renewables calls for clarity. The head of construction at the UK’s first nuclear power plant in three decades has challenged the government to decide whether “it wants nuclear or not” as ministers prepare to publish a new energy policy later this year and uncertainty hangs over China’s continued involvement in the sensitive sector. “The government needs to decide if it wants nuclear or not,” said Stuart Crooks, managing director of Hinkley Point C. “If it doesn’t want nuclear, no amount of financing will make it happen,” referring to a continuing debate about how to finance any future nuclear plant. The nuclear industry is hoping the government will clarify its position later this year with a long-delayed energy white paper due in the autumn. Supporters of nuclear energy say it is essential to meet the UK’s target for net zero carbon emissions by 2050. With the £22.5bn Hinkley project already running two years late and £2.9bn over budget, EDF wants to show it is making progress. It has finished the base for the station’s second reactor. In the coming months, the world’s largest crane, dubbed ‘Big Carl’, will lift giant prefabricated steel containment structures into place and fill the bases with equipment and piping in critical steps towards building the reactors. But the coronavirus pandemic has forced EDF to reverse plans to expand its workforce on-site to 6,000, instead at the height of the coronavirus lockdown it fell to 2,000. Worker numbers have since returned to 4,500 split over two shifts but productivity is as much as 20 per cent lower because of social distancing. On Thursday, EDF warned of a “high” risk of further delays, which could push back first power generation until 2027. Speaking earlier in the week, Mr Crooks said that disruptions caused by the coronavirus at supplier factories, which are running at 50 per cent of output on average, were the biggest risk to the schedule. Nigel Cann, Hinkley’s delivery director, said his team had leaned on CGN’s experience and expertise. “The reach back on lessons learned is really valuable,” he said. “But they don’t lead on anything.” That confidence is unlikely to be shared by some in the ruling Conservative party who want China out of the UK’s nuclear programme. The UK government is also under growing pressure from Washington, which has become increasingly hostile towards the Chinese government. In 2018 the US warned London it believed CGN was involved in the transfer of civilian nuclear technology for military uses.
FT 30th July 2020 read more »
The Covid-19 pandemic is threatening delays and further cost increases in the construction of the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant, the developer EDF has warned. A slowdown in work at the Somerset site has increased the risk that Britain’s first new nuclear plant in a generation will not be ready to generate power by December 2025 as planned, the French energy giant said. The plant is being built jointly by EDF, which owns 66.5 per cent of the project, and the Chinese state nuclear group CGN. When complete it should generate enough electricity to power six million homes. Costs have risen from £18 billion when it was approved in 2016 to between £21.5 billion and £22.5 billion. EDF had already warned of a risk that the first reactor could be delayed by 15 months and the second by nine months, which would lead to a further £700 million cost increase. EDF said yesterday that the impacts of Covid 19 “increase the risk of postponement of planned commissioning dates” and a “comprehensive study to assess the need for an updated schedule and costs” was under way.
Times 31st July 2020 read more »
Electricite de France SA was fined 5 million euros ($6 million) by France’s markets regulator for providing false information on the Hinkley Point C nuclear project. EDF and former Chief Executive Officer Henri Proglio, who was fined 50,000 euros, failed to properly disclose new circumstances concerning the U.K. project’s financing, the Autorité des Marchés Financiers said in a statement on Thursday. In October 2013, EDF announced it would build the U.K.’s first nuclear reactors since 1995 after reaching a deal with the government on guaranteed prices for the power they’d generate. The energy firm also said the project would benefit from a British credit guarantee on conditions that were yet-to-be agreed. EDF and Proglio should have specified in a statement a year later that there had been significant changes on the guarantees, the AMF said. EDF and its current CEO Jean-Bernard Levy were cleared of a second accusation brought forward by AMF investigators. The AMF’s enforcement committee assesses civil market-abuse cases ranging from insider trading to publishing misleading information. Electricite de France SA said it’s facing delays at the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant as the coronavirus pandemic hampered work on-site and hit supply chains. The largest and most advanced infrastructure project in the U.K. will miss three key milestones this year, one of them critical — risking the 2025 completion deadline. EDF plans to make up time by the end of 2021 but the threat of a second wave of coronavirus and lockdowns could cause more long-term set-backs. “We’ve absorbed a lot of factory delays but we had some margin in our program to do so,” Hinkley Point C’s managing director Stuart Crooks said in an interview on-site in the southwest of England. EDF still expects Hinkley to be finished on time. The French utility is working on the assumption that the virus peters out by the end of the year so supply chains and work at Hinkley can return to normal. There are about 4,500 staff currently on the site that covers an area equal to 245 soccer fields. Initial plans were to ramp-up the number of workers to around 6,000 but that depends how long social distancing rules stay in place.
Bloomberg 30th July 2020 read more »
Electricite de France SA said it’s facing delays at the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant as the coronavirus pandemic hampered work on-site and hit supply chains. The largest and most advanced infrastructure project in the U.K. will miss three key milestones this year, one of them critical — risking the 2025 completion deadline. EDF plans to make-up time by the end of 2021 but the threat of a second wave of coronavirus and lockdowns could cause more long-term set backs. The U.K. government had put nuclear at the heart of its effort to attract billions of pounds of investment in new power plants and create thousands of jobs but spiraling costs, delays and much cheaper renewable power have dampened enthusiasm for the technology.
Bloomberg 30th July 2020 read more »
Construction Enquirer 30th July 2020 read more »
EDF has said the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a slowdown in construction and maintenance of its nuclear power plant fleet in both France and the UK. It has warned of further delays to the schedules for completing both the Flamanville and Hinkley Point C projects. EDF said the risk of delays in the commissioning schedule of the Hinkley Point C plant in Somerset, UK, is “high”. The first of its two EPR reactors is scheduled to start up at the end of 2025. In September 2019, the company said the risk of delay to units 1 and 2 – of 15 months and nine months, respectively – had increased. These postponements, it said, would lead to an additional cost of about GBP700 million (USD914 million).
World Nuclear News 30th July 2020 read more »
The number of workers at an Avonmouth manufacturing facility which had an outbreak of Covid-19 at the weekend has increased for the fourth day running. The cement manufacturing plant, which supplies Hinkley Point C, is owned by construction giant Balfour Beatty. On Sunday (July 26) the company said 19 of its 90 staff had tested positive for the virus – and by Tuesday the number had risen to 28 employees. On Wednesday the figure stood at 36 employees – more than a third of the site’s workers. But today (Thursday, July 30) Balfour confirmed the number has risen to 38.
Bristol Post 30th July 2020 read more »