WHITEHALL has raised the prospect of Japanese taxpayers helping to fund Britain’s next generation of nuclear power stations. Officials are understood to have asked the Tokyo government whether it will inject funds into planned new reactors at Wylfa in Anglesey and Sellafield in Cumbria. They will be built by the Japanese companies Hitachi and Toshiba. The talks underline Britain’s desperation to get its long-delayed nuclear renaissance back on track — and its difficulty in financing it. EDF’s planned £18bn nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset has been dogged by delays and cost increases. This weekend Jean-Bernard Lévy, chief executive of the French power giant, warned that it could pull out of the project unless it receives financial support from the French state. Hitachi and Toshiba hope to use their British nuclear projects as a showcase for Japanese reactor technology. However, sources said the suggestion of Japanese state equity triggered a “Mexican stand-off” with Whitehall officials, as Britain remains unwilling to inject taxpayer funds. They added that talks were at an early stage and investment might come from Japan Bank for International Co-operation or Japanese financial institutions. Hitachi’s adviser, Rothschild, is understood to have written to the UK government to suggest it take a stake in the Wylfa project.
Sunday Times 13th March 2016 read more »
Cameron’s subsidy-free nuclear plant awaits French state aid. STEPHEN LOVEGROVE can’t have been expecting much as his flight landed in Tokyo. The permanent secretary at the Department of Energy & Climate Change flew there this month for delicate talks on Britain’s civil nuclear renaissance — and Japan’s place in it. Back home, the news was unrelentingly bad. The board of EDF, the debt-ridden French giant chosen to lead the British charge, had repeatedly delayed its vote on approval for the £18bn Hinkley Point project, this country’s first new nuclear plant in two decades. Hinkley will need financial support from French taxpayers. “We are currently negotiating with the French state to obtain commitments allowing us to secure our financial position,” he wrote. “It is clear that I will not engage EDF in this project before these conditions are met.” The letter put paid to the fiction that David Cameron has long tried to sustain, that Hinkley Point would be the first atomic power plant in the world to be built without public subsidy. The reality: the project won’t happen without generous support from not one but three states — Britain, France and China, whose state-owned giant CGN owns a one-third stake. Britain will not give direct aid but has guaranteed that British households will pay artificially high bills for 35 years to fund the project — a tax by another name. This was the context for Lovegrove’s trip to Japan. His mandate was to convince the government there to consider stumping up billions of pounds of taxpayer cash to ensure that nuclear reactors steered by the Japanese giants Hitachi and Toshiba do not run into the sand as Hinkley Point has. Sources close to the talks said the answer was an unequivocal no, especially given that chancellor George Osborne has gone to such great lengths to ensure the Treasury is not on the hook for new nukes. The source close to the talks said a “serious standoff” has developed between London and Tokyo over the issue. As EDF wobbles and Tokyo digs in its heels, Lovegrove has his work cut out if he is to stop Britain’s nuclear renaissance going off the rails.
Sunday Times 13th March 2016 read more »
DESPITE the growing mountain of evidence that EDF’s proposed £18billion nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point, Somerset, will be bad for consumers, the taxpayer, business and potentially the environment, the Government seems pigheadedly wedded to the idea. Thankfully, the contract has yet to be signed, so there is still time to walk away. For the sake of taxpayers, consumers, industry and the environment, I hope the Government does so.
Express 13th March 2016 read more »
THE CHAIRMAN of EDF is confident the controversial nuclear power station Hinkley Point will go ahead despite the fact UK customers could pay four times as much for their energy as the Germans.
Express 13th March 2016 read more »
Fresh doubts have arisen over plans by French Energy firm EDF to build an £18bn nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point, Somerset. Angus MacNeil, chairman of the House of Commons energy committee, has called for the project to be re-examined. It follows a letter that EDF chief executive Jean-Bernard Levy sent to his staff, saying the project needed more funding from the French government. The UK government said it was “committed” to Hinkley Point. But Mr MacNeil, an MP for the SNP, said the government needed to urgently rethink its support for the proposal.
BBC 12th March 2016 read more »
5 reasons why we are backing Hinkley Point C, as part of our plan to tackle a legacy of under-investment in the UK’s energy infrastructure and build a system fit for the 21st century.
DECC 12th March 2016 read more »
Measures to control risks associated with the planned new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point could be strengthened to enhance the safety of the project, according to a safety expert. Yannick d’Escatha was asked by EDF to work on the multi billion pound project risk review ahead of an eagerly awaited final decision regarding investment for the Somerset plant. He conducted the review with the help of five EDF experts independent from the project. He said: “Evidently any project involves risk. The key is to put them under control.
Western Daily Press 12th March 2016 read more »
Belfast Telegraph 12th March 2016 read more »
Nuclear plant a white elephant – Molly Scott-Cato.
Plymouth Herald 12th March 2016 read more »
Electricity generated from onshore wind now being installed in the UK is over 30 per cent cheaper than Hinkley C – and that’s using official market data. Onshore wind schemes now being installed are being paid over 30 per cent less than what Hinkley C would be paid under the UK Government’s current agreement with EDF if it was generating now. Of course this 30 per cent is really a big underestimate of the price difference because Hinkley C is offered the prospect of a loan guarantee for around two thirds of the capital costs – a commitment that is, metaphorically, worth its weight in gold, and one that is simply not available to onshore wind schemes. You don’t believe me? Well work out the sums yourself. Onshore wind’s income stream essentially consists of two items, first the wholesale power cost, which since December has been running at around £30-35 per MWh, and then it receives 75 per cent of the value of a renewable obligation certificate (ROC) which at the latest e-auction price was valued at £42.70. So that gives you a price paid to onshore wind schemes being set up now of £67 per MWh.
Dave Toke’s Blog 12th March 2016 read more »
Good government sometimes consists of correcting a potentially disastrous mistake before it is too late. Hinkley Point is one such. Progress towards construction of Hinkley Point C would be progress in the wrong direction. The project is too expensive for British consumers and too expensive for its main investor, France’s EDF. Its other investor, the China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN), is anxious to proceed because Hinkley Point suits Beijing’s agenda of investing in Britain’s critical infrastructure and eventually showcasing its own nuclear technology at other British sites. Even if construction went without a hitch, Hinkley Point C would be the world’s most expensive power station. It would cost more to build than China’s Three Gorges hydroelectric dam and produce one seventh the power. The only investor confident it can afford its stake is CNG, wholly-owned by a one-party state that is unconcerned about breaking even. Chin a sees the project as a loss leader. It hopes it will yield prestige and, in due course, export sales. French trade unions as well as the state auditor have made clear their opposition to Hinkley Point. Moody’s, the ratings agency, has warned that if EDF proceeds its credit rating will be at risk. If this project unravels China will lose face. British ministers will look foolish too. But saving face is the worst possible reason for building anything, especially a problem-plagued nuclear power station. This government has shown it can be flexible. It should make a U-turn on Hinkley Point.
Times 11th March 2016 read more »
EDF said a decision by the European Commission to approve the proposed partnership between EDF and China General Nuclear (CGN) supporting new nuclear projects in the UK is “a positive step” for the Hinkley Point C project and shows that the robust agreements underpinning the project continue to pass independent scrutiny. EDF also confirmed that it is looking to take a final investment decision on Hinkley Point C “in the near future”. In a statement yesterday the French company said the French and UK governments have also recently expressed their support for the project. CGN and EDF have signed a framework agreement for the proposed construction of Hinkley Point C, with EDF Energy holding 66.50 percent and CGN 33.50 percent, and Sizewell C, with EDF owning 80 percent and CGN holding 20 percent. CGN is also aiming to build a nuclear plant at Bradwell B in Essex using its Hualong One reactor technology and EDF Energy has said it will help CGN with the UK regulatory approval process for the reactor design.
Nucnet 11th March 2016 read more »
Protesters against Lydd Airport’s ambitious runway extension plans say permission for search and rescue (SAR) helicopters to ues the site is a major risk to the nearby nuclear power station. Lydd is less than three miles away from the reactor at Dungeness on the Romney Marsh. And campaigners say the aircraft “have the critical mass to cause a serious radiological release” in the event of an “accident” and have permission to fly in previously restricted airspace.
Kent News 12th March 2016 read more »
The poll also finds that the public are evenly divided on the question of building more nuclear power stations in the UK: 37 per cent supported the idea, 36 per cent opposed. Men are around twice as likely as women to support new nuclear power (53 per cent compared with 23 per cent).
Independent 12h March 2016 read more »
As we approach the 5th anniversary of the Fukushima emergency and 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, Spencer Wheatley, Prof Benjamin Sovacool and Prof Didier Sornette argue that the risks of another major nuclear accident are much greater than the industry believes. We recently performed a statistical study of the risk of accidents and incidents (events) occurring in nuclear power plants across the world. Here some of the findings of this study, as well as references that it contains, are discussed as they pertain to the current and near-term risks.
Scientists for Global Responsibility 7th March 2016 read more »
The nuclear energy industry’s performance in decommissioning will be critical for the future of nuclear power generation, but there is a lack of “globally coherent and reliable information” on decommissioning costs, rendering the issue controversial, a study by the Nuclear Energy Agency says. The study says the decommissioning challenges faced are significant, spanning technical, financial, social and political issues. Pressure is growing in some countries to speed up the closure and decommissioning of nuclear stations, shorten overall schedules and cut costs.
Nucnet 9th March 2016 read more »
Response to Geraldine Thomas and the BBC on Fukushima.
Goddards Journal 11th March 2016 read more »
Chris Busby on Geraldine Thomas. On the 5th Anniversary of the catastrophe, Prof Geraldine Thomas, the nuclear industry’s new public relations star, walked through the abandoned town of Ohkuma inside the Fukushima exclusion zone with BBC reporter Rupert Wingfield-Hayes. Thomas was described as “one of Britain’s leading experts on the health effects of radiation”. She is of the opinion that there is no danger and the Japanese refugees can come back and live there in the “zone”. Her main concern seemed to be how untidy it all was: “Left to rack and ruin,” she complained, sadly. At one point, Rupert pulled out his Geiger counter and read the dose: 3 microSieverts per hour. “How much radiation would it give in a year to people who came back here,” he asked. Thomas replied: “About an extra milliSievert a year, which is not much considering you get 2mSv a year from natural background”. “The long term impact on your health would be absolutely nothing.” Now anyone with a calculator can easily multiply 3 microSieverts (3 x 10-6 Sv) by 24 hours and 365 days. The answer comes out to be 26 mSv (0.026Sv), not “about 1mSv” as the “leading expert on the health effects of radiation” reported.
Russia Today 12th March 2016 read more »
Five years ago, an epic tsunami off the coast of Japan triggered a triple-reactor nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Ever since then, 7,000 workers have been laboring round-the-clock on a massive, and unprecedented, cleanup effort. Science correspondent Miles O’Brien takes an exclusive look at ground zero of the greatest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
PBS 11th March 2016 read more »
Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station, site of the world’s second worst nuclear disaster, is an unexpectedly relaxed place these days – or at least, that is the impression everyone who works there is at pains to give. Until recently all who came here were sealed in astronaut-like face masks. Today the 8,200 workers wear simple overalls inside the plant’s offices, and even outside there are zones where nothing more than a white suit and a dust mask are required. Unlike Chernobyl, which was sealed inside a concrete “sarcophagus”, the aim is to dismantle Fukushima Dai-ichi piece by piece, and remove the deadly molten gunk. Nothing like it has ev er been attempted before, Tepco has only the dimmest idea of how it will be achieved, and each faltering step towards the goal seems inevitably to be followed by a stumble back. The most immediate problem is underground water, which flows from the hills above the seaside plant, where it becomes irradiated by the ruined reactors before ending up in the Pacific. Tepco slurps up the contaminated water and stores it on site – 815,000 tons so far, with 300 tons added every day. Processing can remove most of the radioactive elements, but not all. Experts insist that the only way to deal with it is to pour it into the sea – not surprisingly, this is bitterly resisted by local fishermen. In an effort to stem the flow, Tepco has built an underground “ice wall” of frozen earth to keep out the groundwater – but after spending Y34.5 billion (Â£210 million) on the plan, it has been blocked by the nuclear regulator because it could make the problem worse. Meanwhile the company is trying to ascertain the state of the broken reactors using purpose built robots, and a kind of X-ray machine employing cosmic rays. Once they have mapped out the interior, further robots will be used, capable of removing the radioactive material and placing it inside suitable storage vessels. None of this technology is close to being invented. Officially, the company says that it will take 30 to 40 years. In an interview last year Mr Ono conceded that it could take two centuries. And all of this is assuming that there is no repeat of the earthquake and tsunami. “If a major earthquake and a tsunami hit again,” says Mr Ono, “that would cause a lot of tension among us.”
Times 11th March 2016 read more »
Five years ago an earthquake off the coast of Japan triggered a tsunami and a series of meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant. Kaori Suzuki’s home is nearby – determined to stay, but worried about her children’s health, she and some other mothers set up a laboratory to measure radiation.
BBC 13th March 2016 read more »
On the 11th of March 2016 it will be five years since the devastating nuclear meltdown occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station in Japan. In 2011, a massive 9.0 earthquake unleashed a tsunami that devastated the seaboard and claimed the lives of 15 893 people. Another 6 152 people were injured and approximately 2 500 people are still listed as missing. Fukushima should be a lesson to us all that nuclear is never safe, and is an expensive dead-end road to nowhere. But in South Africa, instead of revising the country’s nuclear plans in light of Fukushima and the projected exorbitant costs and long construction times, the South African government has steadfastly stuck by the idea that this country’s nuclear fleet should be substantially increased.
Greenpeace Africa 11th March 2016 read more »
China will expand its strategic uranium reserve as part of its “five-year plan” for 2016-2020, with the aim of ensuring it has enough fuel to supply a massive programme of new nuclear reactors. Beijing, which began stockpiling uranium in 2007 and is estimated by the World Nuclear Association to have 74,000 tonnes of inventory – or about nine years of current demand – does not disclose details of its reserves. However, demand is expected to outstrip domestic supply in coming years and a move to increase reserves could give a boost to depressed global prices.
Reuters 11th March 2016 read more »
Just weeks after publicly confirming that terrorism suspects were spying on a senior nuclear official, the Belgian government announced it will take an unprecedented step towards strengthening security at the country’s sites that house potentially dangerous nuclear materials. Historically, an unarmed private security force has guarded Belgium’s seven reactors and two power stations. The arrangement has long sowed anxieties in Washington, where officials complained vigorously — but in private — that the absence of armed guards at these facilities left the Belgians’ nuclear and radioactive materials vulnerable to theft.
Centre for Public Integrity 11th March 2016 read more »
Simply implementing its Paris climate conference commitments on reducing greenhouse gas emissions could save the US billions of dollars – and save hundreds of thousands of lives.
Climate News Network 13th March 2016 read more »
You may laugh at this big battery but it could cut your bills by 70%. This £2,500 battery, combined with rooftop solar panels, can slash household power bills by up to 70%. Electricity and gas demand have been falling, incrementally, for the past five years owing to more efficient household appliances and better insulation. Batteries that can soak up cheap or even free power during the middle of the day, then discharge it at peak evening times — when power is most expensive — would dramatically speed up that drop in demand. They could also unleash renewable technologies that today remain tethered to the blowing wind and shining sun, and sweep away the business model of the big six utilities, who for the last half-century have flogged electricity to passive, disengaged customers from fossil-fuel power stations.
Sunday Times 13th March 2016 read more »