Rob Pitcher, partner and head of nuclear at international law firm Eversheds, comments: Despite recognising the government’s position, that government subsidies are not and never were part of the deal, the real elephant in the room is yet to be addressed. Namely the amount of financial support (e.g.. ROCs, feed in tariffs etc) which other low carbon technologies enjoy, the cost of which is borne by the consumer, and why such schemes should not be extended to new nuclear power. There should be a level playing field for all low carbon energy generating technologies, one of which is nuclear. This issue needs to be addressed if private investors are to be given the sense of security they will need if the momentum behind the proposed new nuclear build programme is to be kept up.
Eversheds 10th August 2010 more >>
Behind Mr Huhne’s bullish claims, an awesome array of hurdles must be cleared, with unprecedented timeliness for the 2018 deadline to be met. Britain faces a looming energy gap as coal power stations are turned off in 2015 to comply with European clean air legislation. And the replacement of obsolete fossil fuel plants with zero-carbon renewable or nuclear generation is central to meeting targets to cut UK carbon emissions by 34 per cent by 2020. Mr Huhne’s efforts to allay fears of delay followed a Confederation of British Industry report warning that 150bn of private sector investment in low-carbon infrastructure including nuclear is being threatened by uncertainties in the planning regime. But the planning process is just one of a dizzying array of regulatory, political and financial questions that need answers in the next 18 months if construction is to start at EDFEnergy’s Hinkley Point site in Somerset by next year, as is currently planned. The first milestone is for the Nuclear Industry Association’s detailed justification for new sources of ionising radiation to be passed by Parliament. The submission will be put before the House this autumn by the Secretary of State, and will therefore be the first major test of Liberal Democrat Mr Huhne’s uncertain commitment to new nuclear. Meanwhile, the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) to license all-new reactor designs from Areva and Westinghouse is already underway. The process is due to complete next June, but at the same time the regulator needs to be entirely restructured, scaling up from the low-level oversight function of recent years to take on both the GDA itself and the vastly important site licensing process that will follow. The straitened public finances and government search for savings is already ringing alarm bells in the industry. “This is not an area where there can be cuts,” one source said. EDF expects to put in planning applications for Hinkley and Sizewell this winter. But before the necessary permissions can be granted needed by the end of next year major changes to the planning system itself also need to be worked through. First is the National Policy Statement (NPS), a strategy document designed to streamline the planning procedure but that needs to be consulted upon, agreed, and ratified by Parliament first. The timetable for the energy sector NPS has already slipped by six months. A revised draft is now due for consultation this autumn, to be ratified by March. The biggest hurdle for new nuclear is that the power stations are hugely expensive, and the cost of power too unreliable to provide a sufficiently secure return. It is therefore incumbent on the government to create a policy framework that will provide incentives for private sector investment. The Government has committed to a carbon floor price to help give extra stability to the volatile, and low-priced, EU Emissions Trading Scheme. But until details such as the level of the floor price are clarified, the efficacy of the scheme remains in question. Considerable work is also required on how liability for as-yet-unknown decommissioning costs will be apportioned. “One person’s incentives are another person’s subsidy,” an industry source said. “If nuclear gets anything it is seen as a subsidy, but if the review doesn’t make the economics make sense then companies won’t build.” Worryingly, the last electricity market reforms, after privatisation, took several years. “This is the most important piece of the jigsaw,” Professor Helm said. “We will be extremely lucky to get it sorted out by the end of 2011.”
Independent 10th Aug 2010 more >>
Yorkshire Post 10th Aug 2010 more >>
Lancashire Evening Post 10th Aug 2010 more >>
Energy Secretary Chris Huhne was accused last night of an astonishing U-turn after promising new nuclear power stations – despite being an anti-nuclear campaigner. The Lib Dem minister said yesterday potential sites had been identified and power should be on stream by 2018.
Daily Mirror 10th Aug 2010 more >>
Half a kilometre beneath rolling wheat fields outside the small town of Bure in northeast France, the country is preparing to dispose of its radioactive waste. In a 1-billion (US$1.3 billion) underground laboratory, the French National Radioactive Waste Management Agency (ANDRA) is testing the soundness of the rock and the technologies to contain the waste. ANDRA scientists are convinced that the rock formations can safely house highly radioactive waste, and plan an industrial-scale facility that would open deep below a 30-square-kilometre site nearby in 2025. It would be among the world’s first geological repositories for high- and medium-level long-lived nuclear waste and the largest.
Nature 10th Aug 2010 more >>
GOVERNMENT plans to press ahead with plans for new nuclear reactors have been welcomed by a Suffolk MP. Speaking on Monday, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne pledged Britain would have a series of new nuclear power stations by 2018. This gives the green light for a new reactor at Sizewell power station – a scheme that should bring up to 5,000 construction jobs into the area and the number of people employed at the plant up to 700. Suffolk Coastal MP Dr Therese Coffey said: “I think it is good news for local people so I’m very happy to hear it’s going to get the green light and we can get on and solve the energy security problem.
Lowestoft Journal 10th Aug 2010 more >>
Evening Star 10th Aug 2010 more >>
Energy Secretary Chris Huhne announced that “we are on course to make sure that the first new nuclear power station opens on time in 2018”. He would not identify where it would be built but offered these clues: “there are a number of sites that have been identified around the country and those are generally on sites where we have previously had, for example, nuclear power stations and where the local people are very keen that there should be new nuclear build”. Previously had a nuclear stations? Local People in favour of another? Soundsa like Wylfa to me.
The Druid 10th Aug 2010 more >>
THE findings of two inquiries into last week’s fire at the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston will be made public.
Basingstoke Gazette 10th Aug 2010 more >>
Letter: Your interview with Vince Cable fails to mention one blot on his otherwise honourable character. It was built into the coalition pact that the Lib Dems “maintained their opposition to nuclear power”. So it was a shock to see him trotting round India, peddling nuclear power. India is not signed up to the non-proliferation treaty and that was the reason that even the business-before-all Labour regime would not sell them nuclear power. The link between civil and military nuclear technology is the reason we seek to deny Iran’s acquisition of nuclear power, a denial whose legitimacy is undermined by this export agreement.
Guardian 11th Aug 2010 more >>
International Power, which is being taken over by French rival GDF Suez, is planning to wield its new financial clout with a major expansion push into North Africa. Executives said the planned takeover – which will see GDF Suez’s non-European power stations combined with International’s Power’s 45 plants around the world – will allow the new group to invest more heavily in building plants.
Guardian 11th Aug 2010 more >>
Phil Cox, the chief executive of International Power, will pick up a £1m cash windfall and continue to lead the company, after confirming its takeover by GDF Suez.
Telegraph 11th Aug 2010 more >>
International Power shareholders are set for a £1.4bn windfall as a sweetener for the merger deal with French utility giant GDF Suez.
The reverse takeover formally announced yesterday will see the French company merge its GDF Suez International business with International Power, in return for a 70 per cent stake in the combined group.
Independent 11th Aug 2010 more >>
As if things in Russia were not looking sufficiently apocalyptic already, with 100-degree temperatures and noxious fumes rolling in from burning peat bogs and forests, there is growing alarm here that fires in regions coated with fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster 24 years ago could now be emitting plumes of radioactive smoke.
Several fires have been documented in the contaminated areas of western Russia, including three heavily irradiated sites in the Bryansk region, the environmental group Greenpeace Russia said in a statement released Tuesday. Bryansk borders Belarus and Ukraine.
New York Times 10th Aug 2010 more >>
Fierce wildfires raging across Russia are a risk to the top-secret capital of its nuclear research industry, officials admitted last night. Two soldiers were killed yesterday fighting blazes dangerously close to the highly sensitive town of Sarov, despite claims in recent days the fires were under control. The town, where the atomic complexes are based, is so tightly guarded it remains closed to foreigners, as in Soviet times.
Daily Mail 11th Aug 2010 more >>
World Nuclear News 10th Aug 2010 more >>
US nuclear expert Kevin Kamps, who is currently visiting Japan, today sent a letter to the Japanese Government warning them to “carefully consider” the “very serious financial risks” of investing in new atomic reactors in the United States. The letter, which was endorsed by over 70 US NGOs, was addressed to Prime Minister Naoto Kan, Minister of Finance Yoshihiko Noda and Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Masayuki Naoshima. Kamps is a member of US NGO Beyond Nuclear. He campaigns on a wide range of nuclear issues, including radioactive waste and US Government funding for new nuclear reactors. Japanese government and industry hope to export nuclear reactors to countries in Asia, including Vietnam, and to countries in the Middle East, but their first priority is to participate in the construction of proposed new reactors in the United States. However, Kamps points out that the long-awaited US nuclear renaissance might not materialize.
CNIC 11th Aug 2010 more >>
Japan’s nuclear power industry is big business at home, but has only recently sought to extend its reach overseas, hoping to benefit from a more assertive export strategy. The country’s three big nuclear technology companies – Toshiba, Hitachi and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries – have built most of the 20-some nuclear plants that supply Japan with a quarter of its power. Japanese groups have laid the groundwork with acquisitions and alliances, as well as a push into fuel-procurement, operations and maintenance. Toshiba bought Westinghouse of the US in 2006, Hitachi has partnered with General Electric, and Mitsubishi Heavy has forged ties with Areva of France.
FT 11th Aug 2010 more >>
Letter from David Lowry: It is now accepted that Israel has around 200 nuclear warheads, although Tel Aviv declines to confirm its atomic weapons status. But, despite the fact that Israel has undoubtedly received considerable atomic assistance from the US, as is told in detail in Seymour Hersh’s excellent 1991 expose, The Samson Option, there are no published details of Israel actually testing a nuclear device. The only possibility I have come across is that Israeli nuclear scientists were present at France’s atmospheric tests in Reganne in Algeria in the early 1960s, or else the post-test calibration data were shared with Israel by France. I wonder if anyone else knows more details?
Guardian 11th Aug 2010 more >>
CHANCELLOR Angela Merkel has made combating climate change one of her priorities. But she is having difficulty finding consensus even within her own government on a new energy policy, especially on the most contentious issue: the future of Germany’s nuclear plants. Mrs. Merkel and her Christian Democrats have yet to take a firm position but are generally considered sympathetic to extending the life of the nuclear plants. The Christian Democrats’ small sister party in Bavaria, the Christian Social Union, is adamant that they remain open.
Yet at the Environment Ministry, Norbert R ttgen, a Christian Democrat, has upset many of his fellow conservatives by questioning the need for extending the life of the nuclear power plants.
New York Times 10th August 2010 more >>
Nearly 45 percent of the electricity in Portugal’s grid will come from renewable sources this year, up from 17 percent just five years ago.
New York Times 9th August 2010 more >>
Nuclear development in China has continued apace with the grid connection of a new reactor, the completion of a reactor building and a heavy forging deal.
World Nuclear News 10th Aug 2010 more >>
Companies that fail to register their energy use by next month will be hit with fines that could reach £45,000 under the little-known rules. Those that do participate in the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) initiative by declaring their energy use will face charges for every ton of greenhouse gas they produce. These payments are expected to average £38,000 a year for medium-sized firms, and could reach £100,000 for larger organisations.
Telegraph 11th Aug 2010 more >>