EDF has not put the investment decision for its plan to build two nuclear reactors in Hinkley Point, Britain, on the agenda for its board meeting on Monday, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters. The state-owned utility’s board is set to focus on the firm’s 2015 earnings – which will be released on Tuesday – despite press speculation about an imminent decision on Hinkley. A new internal report by Yannick d’Escatha, former head of French state nuclear agency CEA, raises serious doubts about whether the Hinkley Point C project could be realised on schedule. The project’s 18 billion pound (23.21 billion euros) budget is bigger than EDF’s 22.5 billion euro market value. One source said some unions and EDF insiders are proposing that EDF and its Chinese partner CGN postpone the plan by a few years and offer the UK government to build European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) “New Model”, instead of the current model.
Reuters 14th Feb 2016 read more »
The giant French energy company EDF is under pressure to abandon or delay building the nuclear power station in Somerset which is at the heart of David Cameron’s strategy to “keep the lights on” in Britain in the next decade. The board of the largely state-owned company is expected to postpone a decision once again on whether to commit to the £18.6bn Hinkley Point C project, which is supposed to provide 7 per cent of Britain’s electricity by 2025. An internal report to the EDF board has warned that for technical reasons it will be impossible to complete the two “new generation” nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point within the nine-year timetable. The report also suggests that the much-delayed project would be financially disastrous for the struggling French company, despite a commitment by the British Government to pay double the market rate for the station’s electricity. EDF is also reported to be having difficulty raising the £12.4bn it needs to build the two European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) in Somerset – a capital sum almost as much as it entire stock market valuation. The company’s powerful unions and several senior EDF executives are said to believe that the project could be suicidal for the world’s biggest generator of nuclear energy. They want EDF to abandon the project – or at least persuade Britain to wait for another three years until a more advanced generation of EPR reactors is available.
Independent 14th Feb 2016 read more »
EDF has still not secured funding for a £18bn nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset, further delaying one of the UK’s biggest energy projects. Board members at the French utility will meet on Monday to sign off on the company’s annual results. Some supporters of the Hinkley Point plant had hoped they would use the meeting to give the scheme their final approval but two people close to the process told the Financial Times that EDF had not secured the necessary funding. The final investment decision is not on the formal agenda, those people said, with one person saying it could be several months before all the financing is lined up. “The question of the funding is far from being resolved,” one person close to the process said. “EDF and the French state would need to sell assets under good conditions and in a short period of time, which seems quite complex at the moment considering EDF’s share price.” The utility is grappling with a large debt load as well as increased competition in its domestic market. Shares in the company have fallen 55 per cent in the past year, reducing its market capitalisation to 19.5bn euros. The group has net debt of 37bn euros. The market turmoil this year has made discussions over the financing more difficult, one person close to the talks said. EDF is in discussions with the French government to help find financing. EDF is also spending at least 1.25bn euros to buy a majority stake in Areva reactor unit, Areva NP, as part of a government-backed bailout. It also faces a 100bn euros bill to upgrade its ageing nuclear power stations by 2030. EDF said in September last year that the plant it is building in Flamanville, Normandy – already years overdue – would be delayed another year until 2018 and would cost 10.5bn euros up from an initial budget of 3bn euros.
FT 14th Feb 2016 read more »
Letter Allan Jeffery: Before Hinkley C can be built, the EPR reactor of the same design being built at Flamanville in France must be completed and be established generating. before 2020, or else the UK government’s guarantees and financial agreements fall apart. So it is not surprising that EDF tried to go unnoticed as it drove a convoy carrying the steel lid and pressure vessel from Chalon, where it was produced across France to Flamanville, though this was documented and publicised by Greenpeace last week. These two parts, the pressure vessel and lid, could signal the final death tomb of the dream French EPR nuclear reactor, because they do not meet the high quality safety standards required for nuclear technology. In April the French Nuclear Safety Authority, (the ASN) discovered a very serious default in the composition of the steel used in the pressure vessel. Tests showed excessive presence of carbon, which makes the steel more brittle and subject to breakage. The pressure vessel contains the huge amounts of atomic fission energy in the core.
Bridgwater Mercury 14th Feb 2016 read more »
Britain cannot just rely on state-backed enterprises like EDF and its Chinese partners to build a fleet of new nuclear reactors, Alan Raymant warns. By now, construction of EDF’s new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset was supposed to be well underway, ready to fill the looming energy supply crunch as old coal plants close. More reactors were supposed to be following on Hinkley’s heels, with 16 gigawatts – enough to meet about a third of peak winter UK electricity demand – up and running by 2025, replacing Britain’s existing nuclear plants as they retired. Instead, cash-strapped EDF is still to take a final decision on Hinkley, with the latest hoped-for decision date, this Tuesday, likely to be missed. First power from the Somerset plant is not due until 2025 and while other developers are aiming to start generating around the same time, they are years off investment decisions. Alan Raymant, chief operating officer of Horizon Nuclear Power admits that “the new nuclear programme is not going to sort out the short term challenges” but insists it is “absolutely critical” to addressing the supply gap that is looming in the longer-term. “The longer our project takes, the more pronounced that problem becomes.” Horizon has already been delayed: when Raymant took the role in 2009, it was a newly-created joint venture between German energy giants RWE and E.On, targeting first power by the end of this decade. But after Germany’s u-turn on nuclear power, the companies pulled out in 2012 and the venture was bought by Japan’s Hitachi for £700m. With new owners bringing a different reactor technology to the project – twin Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWRs) with a combined capacity of 2.7GW – Horizon pushed its target for first power from Wylfa back to the “first half of the 2020s”. This remains the aim, Raymant confirms: “We are looking at 2024, 2025.” To do that, it needs to take a final investment decision on the plant in “early 2019”. That gives Horizon three short years to secure planning consent, safety approval for the ABWR design, a Government subsidy contract, EU state aid clearance, and the backing of investors. The biggest hurdle will be finding the money. If the UK wants to deliver 16 gigawatts of new nuclear – now by a revised target of 2030 – it is going to need to secure many tens of billions of pounds of investment. “We have to look to widen the pool of investors as far as we can,” says Raymant. “We can’t just rely on state-owned enterprises to provide that investment.” EDF set out to bring other investors on board: pension funds and Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds were touted, but none signed up. “For third parties observing the announcements of delays and cost overruns for the EPRs [the Hinkley reactor technology] under construction, it is difficult to commit,” Jean Bernard-Levy, EDF chief, admitted. Only China’s state nuclear corporation has so far agreed to invest, taking a lower share than EDF had hoped and even then only in return for a red carpet invitation to build its own reactor technology at Bradwell. EDF also abandoned the idea of project-financing Hinkley, despite securing £17bn of Government loan guarantees; it has since emerged the loans had been awarded a sub-investment grade, BB+ rating by Infrastructure UK. EDF is now struggling to get the project over the line by funding its share from its own balance sheet.
Telegraph 14th Feb 2016 read more »
French utility Engie is considering a widespread restructuring with between 10bn to 20bn euros worth of disposals under Isabelle Kocher, the incoming chief executive. People close to the group told the FT that Ms Kocher will try to accelerate the company’s move away from thermal energy and mature markets in Europe, instead putting greater emphasis on renewables and emerging markets. This could involve the French group selling much of its exploration and production assets, thermal power generation plants in United States and coal-fired power plants, all of which should yield about 10bn euros added these people. Alongside those plans there is a likely initial public offering of Engie’s Belgian unit Electrabel, as well as the sale of other non-core assets, which could yield another 5bn to 10bn euros over the next three years. The strategy of shifting into renewables and high-growth markets is not new for Engie. Gerard Mestrallet, the long-time chief executive of the group, has had the same approach in recent years. However, Ms Kocher will be looking to go faster than her predecessor, said people close to the group, in part to stamp her authority on the company.
FT 14th Feb 2016 read more »
Two papers published in the last few weeks provide a sobering reality check after the rhetorical success of the Paris climate change conference in December. Getting any agreement was a diplomatic triumph but producing real change on the scale necessary will be much more difficult. The two documents are very different but both excellent pieces of work. Their calculations and assumptions are detailed, transparent and, most important of all, evidence based. Both, however, reflect a degree of unjustified optimism. The first is ExxonMobil’s long-term energy outlook to 2040. The second is the Grantham Institute’s assessment of the credibility of the pledges made in Paris by the G20 nations, which account for the bulk of global economic activity and the overwhelming majority of current and future greenhouse gas emissions. Both are freely available and worth reading by anyone interested in the energy industry or the debate on climate change. The Grantham paper dissects the credibility of the pledges made against a set of criteria. It says to be judged credible countries should have in place:
FT 15th Feb 2016 read more »
A SOLUTION to the global issue of nuclear waste disposal is a step closer following the release of Royal Commission findings in South Australia. The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission has released its initial findings in Adelaide, which show a nuclear waste disposal facility in the South Australian outback would be viable and highly profitable. The commission found that the facility would need to be supported by the construction of a dedicated rail freight line, airport and port.
The Lead 15th Feb 2016 read more »
Guardian 15th Feb 2016 read more »
The federal government plans to spend $80 million assessing whether its hottest nuclear waste can be stored in 3-mile-deep holes, a project that could provide an alternative strategy to a Nevada repository plan that was halted in 2010. The five-year borehole project was tentatively slated to start later this year on state-owned land in rural North Dakota, but it has already been met with opposition from state and local leaders who want more time to review whether the plan poses any public danger.
Star Tribune 14th Feb 2016 read more »
In “Conditions for criticality by uranium deposition in water-saturated geological formations“, Xudong Liu; Joonhong Ahn of the Dept of Nuclear Engineering, U. Cal. Berkeley; & Fumio Hirano of Japan Atomic Energy Agency, Geological Isolation Research and Development Directorate, Tokai-mura, (2014), raise the question of risk of a criticality event, an uncontrolled nuclear reaction, in a deep geologic repository for nuclear waste. Despite some seemingly faulty assumptions, which appear to understate risk, they rather bravely, considering their affiliations and funding, conclude that there could be a problem. At the end is the statement: “This study was carried out under a contract with METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) of Japanese Government in the fiscal year of 2012 as part of its R&D supporting program for developing geological disposal technology.”
Mining Awareness 13th Feb 2016 read more »
A Cumbrian nuclear-services business has been acquired by a listed engineering group. Nuclear Decontamination Services Ltd (NDSL), which operates at Sellafield and other UK nuclear installations, has been bought by Leeds-based Renew for £235,000. Shepley Engineers subsidiary (under the Renew banner) will absorb the business. For the year to 31 January 2015, NDSL reported revenues of £188,000 and pre-tax profits of £105,000.
Machinery Market 14th Feb 2016 read more »
Israel has picked up signs of the beginning of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East as Arab states seek nuclear weapons to counter Iran, the Israeli defence minister has warned. Moshe Ya’alon said Sunni Arab nations were not reassured by last year’s nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers and were making their own preparations for nuclear weapons. “We see signs that countries in the Arab world are preparing to acquire nuclear weapons, that they are not willing to sit quietly with Iran on brink of a nuclear or atomic bomb,” Mr Ya’alon said.
Telegraph 14th Feb 2016 read more »
The United States expressed concern on Friday over the security of Pakistan’s tactical nuclear weapons. The statement followed the US announcement about its intention to sell F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan. At a State Department news briefing, Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said that tensions between India and Pakistan were equally worrying and urged the two nations to continue their dialogue to alleviate some of those tensions.
Dawn 14th Feb 2016 read more »
For more than a decade, it has been impossible for operators of the Indian Point nuclear power plant to stop highly radioactive reactor and spent fuel pool coolant from leaking into the groundwater and migrating to the Hudson River. And despite assurances from Entergy that this time will be different, there is no indication that the company has developed the ability to prevent the latest uncontrolled leaks from following the underground waterway into the Hudson. And because the river is a tidal estuary flowing as much as 20 miles above and below the nuclear site, radioactive contaminants may be sucked into the drinking water systems of several river towns.
Energy Matters 12th Feb 2016 read more »
German power companies will be responsible for the full cost of dismantling Germany’s nuclear power plants, the chairman of a commission looking at how to safeguard funds to pay for the country’s nuclear withdrawal told a German newspaper on Monday. Germany’s “big four” utilities — E.ON RWE EnBW and Vattenfall VATN.UL — have earmarked nearly 40 billion euros (£30.91 billion) in provisions to pay for the dismantling and storage of waste from their nuclear plants, the last of which will be closed in 2022. The utilities had proposed to bring the money into a foundation, which would manage the dismantling, but Juergen Trittin told German Rheinische Post newspaper that this would not be the case.
Reuters 15th Feb 2016 read more »
The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) has been critical to decarbonising the UK’s heat sector, reports from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) have found. Several reports released by DECC yesterday (11 February) evaluated both the domestic and non-domestic RHI schemes, concluding that, after positive feedback, more than 800MW of additional capacity could potentially be added each year.
Edie 12th Feb 2016 read more »
Linlithgow Natural Grid’s (LNG) ‘Heat from the Street’ (HftS) project aims to install the first node in an innovative and expandable Linlithgow Heat Network. A new Energy Centre will be installed, utilising recovered heat from sewer wastewater and powered by solar electricity, with underground district heating links initially connecting six nationally prestigious historic community buildings in the centre of Linlithgow, including St Michael’s Church, Burgh Halls and Linlithgow Palace (birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots).
Linlithgow Natural Grid 14th Feb 2016 read more »
Renewables – solar
Pakistan’s parliament has become the first in the world to run entirely on solar power. Known as the Majlis-e-Shoora, the seat of the government in the country’s capital, Islamabad, is now wholly powered by the sun. First announced in 2014, the venture has been funded by the Chinese government as an act of friendship, with the solar power plant costing around £36.5 million.
Independent 14th Feb 2016 read more »
Renewables – Island Energy
The Orkney isles are generating so much electricity from renewable sources that they cannot export it all to mainland because of a lack of HVDC connections that it is ‘forced’ to look at ways to use up the excess.
Scottish Energy News 15th Feb 2016 read more »