Theresa May is being urged to pull the plug on the controversial Hinkley Point C project immediately, after new allegations of spying in the US by a consultant working for the Chinese co-investor in the planned nuclear plant. The new government is currently in the middle of a review of the £18.5bn Hinkley scheme following a final investment decision by the developers, EDF of France and its Beijing-based partner China General Nuclear Power (CGN). Paul Dorfman, a senior research fellow at University College London, said the British prime minister could legitimately blame poor French reactor technology if she wanted to save face with the Chinese. “No other OECD country would let China into its critical nuclear infrastructure, given its history of nuclear weapon proliferation. May has already taken the diplomatic ‘hit’ for this, so what’s she got to lose?”
Guardian 11th Aug 2016 read more »
U.S. Nuclear Engineer, China General Nuclear Power Company and Energy Technology International Indicted in Nuclear Power Conspiracy against the United States.
US Department of Justice Press Release 14th April 2016 read more »
Fresh doubt hung over the Hinkley Point nuclear power station deal last night after damning allegations that Chinese firms are involved in espionage. First it emerged that Britain’s Chinese partner in the project, China General Nuclear Power (CGN), has been accused in the US of trying to steal nuclear research secrets. Then Australia announced that it was blocking bidders from China and Hong Kong from taking a controlling stake in its largest electricity network due to national security concerns. Court documents show that Szuhsiung Ho, a Chinese-born US citizen also known as Allen Ho, 66, is alleged to have recruited six US-based experts to help China develop its technology. The allegations raise the prospect that China could build a nuclear power plant in Britain using technology stolen from the Americans. Angus MacNeil MP, chairman of the energy and climate change select committee, said that while it was unclear the UK would have any nuclear secrets China would want to steal, the US’s accusation ‘does raise questions about how honourable the company is and whether it could cut corners on construction methods and issues like that’. Molly Scott Cato, a Green Party MEP, said: ‘These latest revelations must be the final nail in the coffin for Hinkley.’
Daily Mail 12th Aug 2016 read more »
Clairvoyant, lucky, or just plain smart? Maybe Theresa May is all three. Whichever she is, the Prime Minister now has the ammunition she needs to block China’s involvement in the Hinkley Point nuclear power station. And she can do so immediately without losing face. For Britain’s potential partner in Hinkley Point, the state-owned China General Nuclear Power giant, is being accused in the US of leading a conspiracy to steal American power secrets to speed up the development of Chinese reactor technology. A senior adviser of China’s nuclear giant is due to appear in a US court next week to face charges of recruiting US experts to obtain sensitive nuclear technology following a probe by the FBI and the National Security Division.
Daily Mail 11th Aug 2016 read more »
Prime Minister Theresa May has been urged to stop a deal involving the Hinkley Point power station after a major Chinese investor and an employee were charged in the US with nuclear espionage. The state owned China General Nuclear Power Company (CGN) and engineering advisor Szuhsiung Ho are accused of a conspiracy to steal US industry secrets to aid the development of Chinese technology. As part of a 17-page indictment Ho, who is due to appear in court next week, is accused of recruiting American experts to find out secret information. He denies the charges and his lawyer says he was involved in commercial consultancy for CGN. The charges come after Lord Mandelson warned the Prime Minister she must make a decision on whether or not to approve the Hinkley Point project before the end of next month.
Mirror 11th Aug 2016 read more »
Further concerns have been raised over China’s involvement in the £18bn Hinkley Point nuclear power project after it emerged that the state-owned company backing the plant is facing espionage charges in the US. The chair of the parliamentary energy and climate change committee said the allegations raised serious questions about the corporate integrity of China General Nuclear Power (CGN) and must be part of the government’s current review of Hinkley. Warning that there are now “grave concerns” about CGN’s 33% stake in Hinkley, Angus MacNeil MP said: “It does raise questions about how honourable the company is and whether it could cut corners on construction methods and issues like that.” Greg Clark, the new energy secretary, is known to be keen to scrutinise the financial details before formal approval is given. Downing Street has said a decision will be made next month while the Chinese have already made clear their irritation with the delay. Barry Gardiner, shadow energy secretary, expressed concern about the court case being used by ministers as an excuse for dumping Hinkley. “There are many reasons to criticise the Hinkley C deal: the vast cost; the long subsidy lock-in while other technologies fall in price and the technical feasibility of the project ever being built. These are genuine risks the government ought to have addressed two years ago.
Guardian 11th Aug 2016 read more »
A network of agents, payments from a Beijing-backed slush fund and a series of illicit transfers of highly sensitive nuclear knowhow: the case against Britain’s Chinese partner in the controversial Hinkley Point C project could have leapt from the pages of a modern spy thriller. According to the US Department of Justice, the FBI has discovered evidence that China General Nuclear Power (CGN) has been engaged in a conspiracy to steal US nuclear secrets stretching back almost two decades. Both CGN and one of the corporation’s senior advisers, Szuhsiung Ho, have been charged with conspiring to help the Chinese government develop nuclear material in a manner that is in clear breach of US law.
Guardian 11th Aug 2016 read more »
Who is the US engineer accused of nuclear espionage?
Guardian 11th Aug 2016 read more »
It has been a bad couple of weeks for China Inc, with useful international deals coming off the rails and damaging its brand in the process. First, its invitation to the Hinkley Point party was snatched back as Theresa May put plans for the nuclear plant on ice. Her concerns about the security implications of Chinese investment, particularly in critical infrastructure, soon became apparent. Then, on Thursday, came Australia’s announcement that it would block a Chinese state-owned company from leasing a Sydney electricity grid on national security grounds. It is only right and sensible to seek engagement with the world’s second largest economy, and its cooperation and investment brings considerable benefits – especially evident in light of the vote to leave the EU. It is also sensible to scrutinise and manage foreign investments carefully, as experts such as Nigel Inkster, formerly of MI6, advocate, acknowledging the challenges they pose not only in infrastructure but also in areas such as the tech sector, which may provide the future innovation that will drive the UK economy. Some deals may not be appropriate; others may need to be structured and monitored carefully. The question is not whether to do business with China, but when and how to do it.
Guardian 11th Aug 2016 read more »
The UK has become increasingly dependent on — as the Bank of England’s governor, Mark Carney, memorably put it earlier this year — the “kindness of strangers”. Those strangers include the Chinese, who had assumed that their financial involvement in Hinkley would lead to a more lucrative role in Britain’s nuclear industry and the British economy more broadly. If Hinkley is in doubt perhaps we should also doubt the kindness of the Chinese. And for Britain, that’s a cause for concern. The UK is enormously dependent on the deep pockets of foreign investors. At the last count, our balance of payments current account deficit stood at 7 per cent of national income. To use the vernacular, it’s a whopper, the largest deficit in the postwar period and one of the biggest such deficits in the world. We often think of a balance of payments deficit as the gap between the value of imports and a (lower) value of exports. Sometimes it’s better to think of it as the gap between the value of domestic investment and a (lower) value of domestic savings. Seen this way, our dependency on the kindness of strangers becomes clearer. If we wish to spend more than we save, we will have to depend on the savings of others. If they are not forthcoming we’ll have to tighten our belts. The UK has been a magnet for Chinese direct investment; over the years, we’ve attracted more Chinese money than any other EU country. If the Chinese turn their backs on us, then we’ll have to tighten our belts even further, particularly if we’re given a frosty reception by the Chinese-sponsored Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, reducing the opportunities for British business to operate within the world’s most dynamic region.
Times 12th Aug 2016 read more »
Yesterday China broke its silence over the ongoing saga that is the UK Government’s attempt to build a new nuclear power station in Somerset. It all looked likely to proceed – at last – a little over a week ago when EDF’s board members voted to give the Hinkley Point project the go ahead. That is despite more than one board members of the French energy giant, which has its UK headquarters in Gloucester and plans a major regional base in Bristol, resigning in protest over the plans. But in a surprise move the Government itself stepped in post decision insisting there would be no movement until it had reviewed the whole project. Now China, which initially seemed to take the slight on the chin, has told us all what it really thinks. China’s Ambassador in London, Liu Xiaoming, said Britain’s relationship with Beijing was now at a “critical historical juncture”. He called for a quick decision on the £18billion project, in which his country has a one-third stake, and said he hoped the UK would “keep its door open” to his country. Suggestions that Prime Minister Theresa May has security concerns over the Chinese State investing in critical infrastructure in the UK appeared to anger Beijing, but a Government spokesman has insisted she was right to order the review.
South West Business 10th Aug 2016 read more »
Australia blocked the A$10 billion ($7.7 billion) sale of its biggest energy grid to State Grid Corp of China and Hong Kong’s Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings citing security concerns, in a blow to the country’s privatisation plan. Nine months after clearing the sale of TransGrid to an investor group 40 percent controlled by Kuwaiti and Abu Dhabi interests, Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison said on Thursday he was rejecting the sale of Ausgrid to the rival Asian bidders because of risks to the national interest.
Reuters 11th Aug 2016 read more »
FT 11th Aug 2016 read more »
Australia’s move comes as the UK has postponed approval for the Hinkley Point nuclear power project, in which China’s General Nuclear Power Corporation will have a minority stake, on similar concerns.
BBC 11th Aug 2016 read more »
Telegraph 11th Aug 2016 read more »
Hinkley Point is set to be the first new nuclear power station in years, and the most expensive object on earth. The nuclear industry and the government claim Hinkley is a good option if we want to “keep the lights on” – but is Hinkley the golden goose they claim it to be? Here we expose five popular myths about the nuclear plant. The myth: we need Hinkley to meet our energy needs; The myth: Nuclear is low carbon and we need it to meet our emissions targets; The myth: Hinkley is the cheaper option; The myth: we need Hinkley because renewable energy only works when it’s windy/sunny; Myth: there is widespread support for Hinkley
Greenpeace 11th Aug 2016 read more »
Alternatives to Hinkley
The government expects solar and wind power to be cheaper than new nuclear power by the time Hinkley Point C is completed, its own projections show. Theresa May’s government last month made a surprise decision to delay a deal on Hinkley, prompting a renewed look at what alternatives could power Britain if ministers this autumn fail to back new reactors in Somerset. An unpublished report by the energy department shows that it expects onshore wind power and large-scale solar to cost around £50-75 per megawatt hour of power generated in 2025. New nuclear is anticipated to be around £85-125/MWh, in line with the guaranteed price of £92.50/MWh that the government has offered Hinkley’s developer, EDF. On previous forecasts, made in 2010 and 2013, the two renewable technologies were expected to be more expensive than nuclear or around the same cost. This is the first time the government has shown it expects them to be a cheaper option. The figures were revealed in a National Audit Office (NAO) report on nuclear in July. “The [energy] department’s forecasts for the levelised cost of electricity of wind and solar in 2025 have decreased since 2010. The cost forecast for gas has not changed, while for nuclear it has increased,” the NAO said.
Guardian 11th Aug 2016 read more »
With the proposal for a new power station at Hinkley Point looking set for the junkyard, let’s show them what we – the people – really want: more solar PV! Here at Brighton Energy Coop we’re just about to close our investment window for new solar PV at Infinity Foods’ warehouse in Portslade; if you’re quick we can just about accept new investment. Solar PV is a much better bet that giant nuclear white elephants. Renewable energy is already producing more electricity than the UK’s nuclear power plants – and most of our renewable capacity has been built in the last six years. Hinkley has already been in planning for longer than that – with no end of further blahblahblah in sight.
Brighton Energy 11th Aug 2016 read more »
A preferred site has been identified for the construction of a demonstration small modular reactor (SMR) at the US Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL), near Idaho Falls.
World Nuclear News 11th Aug 2016 read more »
PROPOSED bribes for communities near fracking sites are “small fry” compared to the hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ cash used to buy off those affected by the nuclear power industry, campaigners said yesterday. Cumbria in north-west England “is in the grip of a far-reaching nuclear bribery scandal,” according to Radiation Free Lakeland, with taxpayers’ cash for public projects filtered through the privately owned nuclear power industry. Campaigner Marianne Birkby said: “Compared to the nuclear industry, the frackers are in the third division where bribery is concerned, as we know all too well in Cumbria. “The nuclear industry leads the super league — and has been buying the people of Cumbria and our representatives for two decades now.” She said that £10 million of taxpayers’ cash was paid recently to local authorities when the nuclear industry wanted planning permission relating to storage of low-level nuclear waste at Drigg, near Sellafield. “This nuclear largesse was paid by the much-lamented Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), which saw most of its budget going to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA),” said Ms Birkby. “So we are all paying for the privilege of having nuclear waste dumped on our doorstep into eternity.” The DECC, set up by Gordon Brown in 2008, was disbanded by Prime Minister Theresa May last month and merged with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to form the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. In 2012-13 it spent 69 per cent of its budget on managing Britain’s historic nuclear sites via the NDA. Ms Birkby said a social fund operated by the NDA “has turned to a slush fund, unfairly influencing communities on whether or not they should accept nuclear waste and new nuclear reactors in their midst. “The evidence suggests that the slush fund is working its magic. “Tens of millions of pounds have been given to hospitals, colleges and wildlife and heritage groups. Money has gone to lifeboat appeals, footpaths and a harbour-wall scheme. “All of these and many more have received money that should have come direct from the public purse — but instead has been filtered through the prism of the nuclear industry.”
Residents Action on Fylde Fracking chairman Ian Roberts said: “The battle against nuclear energy is significantly more difficult than the battle against fracking because that industry is well and truly embedded and has local support whereas the fracking industry is being held at bay while opposition grows significantly.”
Morning Star 11th Aug 2016 read more »
Mark Ruskell MSP, Energy & Environment spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, today (11 Aug) challenged Scottish Ministers to close a loophole that allows nuclear power plants to have their operating life extended without public input. At the moment, nuclear power stations’ Periodic Safety Reviews don’t require an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), so the public have no say in whether stations such as Torness or Hunterston are allowed to operate beyond their previously agreed lifespan. However, the Scottish Government has this week launched a consultation on amending the rules around EIAs, prompted by an EU directive aimed at protecting the environment. “The public are being denied a say in decisions that have huge implications for the local environment and future generations. Communities who have nuclear power stations on their doorstep should be properly consulted. Operators of nuclear plants should be made to show their environmental impact compared to alternative forms of energy generation or energy efficiency. “Nuclear with its toxic legacy and eyewatering costs should have no place in Scotland’s future energy mix. We must close this regulatory loophole before a decision on the latest Hunterston safety review is reached in January, and similarly Torness in 2019/20. We must reassert authority over the nuclear industry and give our communities a real say.”
Scottish Green Party 11th Aug 2016 read more »
Additional documentation on the engineering feasibility of a deep repository has been submitted by Switzerland’s national radioactive waste disposal cooperative Nagra. It claims there are no safety advantages to constructing a deeper repository than originally envisaged. In January 2015, Nagra proposed that further investigations are carried out at the proposed siting regions of Zürich Nordost and Jura Ost in the third and final stage of Switzerland’s plan for selecting sites for two repositories: one for low- and intermediate-level waste (LLW/ILW) and the other for high-level waste (HLW). It also said the four other regions under consideration in the second stage – Südranden, Nördlich Lägern, Jura-Südfuss and Wellenberg – will be placed in reserve. The six sites were proposed in November 2011 during the first stage of the selection process. Nagra is required to propose at least two regions to host each of the repositories for further investigations in the third stage. Last September, the Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (ENSI) requested that Nagra submit additional technical documentation related to the optimization of the repository depth in terms of safety. It was required to show whether construction at greater depth involves disadvantages in terms of safety and whether modifying the repository concept would be advantageous for such depths.
World Nuclear News 11th Aug 2016 read more »
Europe’s two biggest utilities reported their first-half results this week, nearing a test for the new units they have created, separating new and conventional energy assets. At both E.ON and RWE, the new energy units comprise renewable power, grid networks and retail sales, separated from fossil fuel energy and trading, to target growth markets, and more stable, regulated incomes, given that renewables are often supported by government subsidies, and grid networks earn regulated returns. But there are also big differences. E.ON is spinning off its conventional energy assets, now called Uniper, to exit completely overtime. RWE will separate its new business, now called innogy, and retain a large, majority shareholding. The tactic raises two questions; first, how far deep-rooted are the changes, and second, what investors will make of it.
Energy & Carbon 11th Aug 2016 read more »
IGov has published a number of blogs etc about the New York Reforming the Energy Vision, and in particular NY’s new, regulatory value proposition, distribution service providers. When discussing the NY REV in GB with various stakeholders in different forums (for example, the DSO versus DSP workshop), the comments received can be divided into four general streams.
IGov 11th Aug 2016 read more »
The University of Exeter’s Energy Policy Group (EPG) is very pleased to submit to the Consultation on the National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA) – Process and Methodology. The EPG submitted evidence to the National Infrastructure Commission’s (NIC) Inquiry into Electricity Interconnection and Storage, which subsequently led to the very good NIC Report on Smart Power. The EPG has a project: Innovation and Governance for a Sustainable Economy (IGov). This has a small team working on the politics and decision-making processes of governance which fits squarely within the NIC remit. At root, IGov argues that GB energy governance (including of interconnection and storage) is not fit for purpose. We have developed a DRAFT institutional framework for what we would argue is a fit-for-purpose GB energy governance structure. This is attached as an Annex to this submission.
IGov 11th Aug 2016 read more »
The Russian government has approved plans for the construction and commissioning of 11 new nuclear power reactor units by 2030, the state-operated domestic news agency RIA Novosti has reported. The units will include one Generation IV BN-1200 sodium-cooled fast neutron reactor to be built at the Beloyarsk nuclear station in Zarechny, 50km east of Yekaterinburg in the southern Urals. Reports in Russia earlier this year said a decision on whether to go ahead with new Beloyarsk units would not be taken before 2019. They said the decision would depend largely on the results of operating Beloyarsk-4, the pilot BN-800 plant, which was connected to the grid in December 2015, but has not yet begun commercial operation. There is one existing, commercially operational sodium-cooled fast reactor at Beloyarsk, the BN-600. Both the BN-600 and the BN-800 are smaller versions of the BN-1200.
Nucnet 10th Aug 2016 read more »
An accident in July at the construction site of the first nuclear power plant in Belarus has recently been revealed, according to POWER magazine.Exact details of the accident are not entirely clear, but Rosatom, the Russian state firm behind the construction of the plant, revealed that on 10 July, a 330-ton reactor vessel fell during preparations for installation for a media event the next day. Rosatom officials blamed workers for not properly securing the vessel, and tried to brush off allegations by Belarusian officials, suggesting via social media that the vessel was dropped from “a height of two to four meters.” “It is wrong to use misleading words like ‘hit the ground’ or ‘fell’ because the reactor was moving toward the ground at a pace below that of a pedestrian,” Rosatom’s First Deputy CEO for Operations Management Alexander Lokshin told reporters on 1 August. Nevertheless, news of the incident was allegedly suppressed for at least two weeks, and only merged following media speculation reports in neighboring Lithuania.
Oil Price 11th Aug 2016 read more »
Wind turbines generated the equivalent of all of Scotland’s power needs last Sunday (7 August) for the first time on record, according to data from the WWF and WeatherEnergy.
Edie 11th Aug 2016 read more »
City Hall has taken an important step closer to securing a license that could be used to provide ‘clean electricity’ to power TfL’s underground stations and other facilities. The government regulator for gas and electricity markets, Ofgem, has confirmed that the Mayor can formally advertise his application for a new type of junior electricity supply licence called ‘licence lite’, with the aim of the licence being granted in September. When the licence is granted, City Hall will become the first local authority in the UK to hold a special ‘licence lite’ that will allow it to buy energy from small, low and zero carbon energy generators, and sell it directly to the public sector to help meet the sector’s electricity needs.
My Green Pod 10th Aug 2016 read more »
Cities large and small are leading the charge on the country’s transition to clean energy, driven by concerns that range from air pollution to the need to create jobs, according to a new report from the Sierra Club. The report, part of the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign that is pushing cities to transition to 100% renewable energy, underscores the role urban areas play in addressing climate change. Cities produce more than 60% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, according to a United Nations report, and which makes urban zones a key point of leveraging fighting global warming.
Time 10th Aug 2016 read more »
Letter David Lowry: The latest “community support” offer from the Treasury for those areas having fracking rigs installed is truly a Russian roulette gamble for local people. An article in the Washington Post on 10 April last year, headlined “Rise of deadly radon gas in Pennsylvania buildings linked to fracking industry”, reported on a detailed study in the journal Environmental Health Perspective that revealed a “disturbing correlation” between unusually high levels of radon gas in mostly residences and fracking that has become the industry standard over the past decade. Moreover, this is what Public Health England (the health watchdog) stated in October 2013: “If the natural gas delivery point were to be close to the extraction point with a short transit time, radon present in the natural gas would have little time to decay … there is therefore the potential for radon gas to be present in natural gas extracted from UK shale.” This health trade-off for money is what this offer really asks residents to accept. In light of this clear precautionary approach, it is odd that all ministers seem to be uncritically cheerleading for expanded fracking, despite its possible radon risk.
Guardian 10th Aug 2016 read more »