Michael Liebreich: If you doubt that the Government’s decision to green-light Hinkley C is bad for the country, type “Hinkley decision praised” into Google. The only voices of support are from the French Government, the project’s main owner EDF, various former advisors to George Osborne, and Malcolm Pyne – a Somerset butcher who has featured heavily in the project’s PR. Conversely, type “Hinkley decision criticised”, and you’ll find every energy and economics expert in the land lining up to put the boot in. Let me count the ways in which Hinkley is a bad deal. First there is the eye-watering cost. Secondly, there are just so many other ways in the country could generate 3.2 gigawatts of zero-carbon energy more cheaply. You could build more renewable generating capacity – particularly onshore wind, which has now become the cheapest potential form of new-build power generation in the UK – and pair it with a range of technologies to manage intermittency. You could build a fleet of new gas power stations and get serious about carbon capture and storage. You could massively increase the country’s interconnections with Continental Europe and Scandinavia, and buy cheap surplus power from their clean energy over-capacity. Alternatively, you could eliminate 3.2 gigawatts of demand by spending a huge amount less than £87bn on energy efficiency. Third is the diplomatic harm which the recent will-they-won’t-they saga has undoubtedly inflicted – just at a time when the UK needs all the goodwill it can muster among both EU members and major Asian trading partners. It would be nice to believe that Theresa May extracted some valuable diplomatic concessions from the French in exchange for giving the green light – we’ll rescue your failing nuclear industry if you support us on Brexit, that sort of thing – but if she did, there is no sign of it from the current EU summit in Bratislava. Finally, perhaps the greatest tragedy of the Hinkley decision is the hole it blows in the UK’s industrial strategy before it has even left the dry dock at the new BEIS. Given the global trend towards a lower-carbon economy, enshrined in last year’s Paris Agreement, any UK industrial strategy must surely be based on a transition to clean energy and transportation. Instead, Hinkley throws a hugely expensive lifebelt to the drowning French nuclear industry and its over-priced, over-complicated, over-regulated 1970s technology. History will judge Theresa May harshly for not killing this train-wreck of a project when she had the chance.
Reaction 19th Sept 2016 read more »
The government’s decision last week to give the final go-ahead to Hinkley Point C, marks the “relaunch of nuclear in Europe”, the boss of EDF Energy has claimed. Chief executive Vincent de Rivaz said it will “transform” the prospects for the industry and have “global implications” for the battle against climate change. “Hinkley Point C is a first,” he added, speaking at the World Nuclear Symposium in London. “The momentum it creates restarting the nuclear new build industry will help future projects – including ours – to be even more competitive.”
Utility Week 19th Sept 2016 read more »
As most of you reading this are probably aware, despite the UK’s Prime Minister, Theresa May, ordering of a review of the project a few months back, it appears that there was never a serious intent to cancel the project, as it was fully approved by May a few days ago, on September 15. According to a report released by Greenpeace, the answer is pretty simple: The people who approved and pushed for the approval of the £18 billion (and rising) project stand to benefit from its approval. Financially. This is probably the only way that the approval of the project makes any kind of sense (other than the obvious factor of pressure from the Chinese government). As Green Party MP Caroline Lucas put it, the Hinkley Point C project is “the biggest white elephant in British history,” so of course money is going to be found at the root of it. The Canary provides more on the report, revealing that “ten advisers and civil servants who worked at the former Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in the last five years had links to EDF. One was recently employed by the DECC and was also a manager at the Office for Nuclear Regulation, the regulator for the nuclear industry. This was before they became a licensing officer for EDF.”
Renew Economy 20th Sept 2016 read more »
Is Hinkley Point C the gateway to a new generation of UK nuclear reactors? If it proceeds, it points to a future UK generation mix heavily reliant on fixed-cost generation and provides a bleak outlook for gas-fired operators, CCS and new forms of renewables like tidal power. But it could still prove an expensive white-elephant that ends rather than rejuvenates the UK’s nuclear future. Given the problems with existing EPR builds, EDF has to prove that it can deliver an EPR on time and on budget.
Platts 19th Sept 2016 read more »
The Sahara and Somerset don’t strike one as obvious doppelgangers: you’re as unlikely to find date palms in the Mendips as to come across a cider brewery on a sand dune. . Niger is the world’s fourth largest uranium producer, with two major mines and several smaller ones, but its uranium wealth has failed to lift the vast majority of the population out of grinding poverty (nor answer its own domestic energy needs – most of its electricity is imported from Nigeria). In Niger, 72.2 per cent of the working population survives on wages no higher than $2 per day; the country came bottom out of 188 territories ranked in the 2014 UN Human Development Index. Africa doesn’t need nuclear, when it has plentiful access to the greatest energy resource available – the sun. 1,500 miles south of Hinkley in the southern Moroccan city of Ouarzazate is the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant. The first phase, Noor One, went live in February, and the site is expected to reach a generating capacity of 580 megawatts by 2018 – enough to power a million homes. 500,000 crescent-shaped mirrors gleam across the desert, following the turn of the sun, sucking the heat down through steel pipes into steam-driven, energy-generating turbines. Instead of a nuclear site at Hinkley Point, why not a solar one near Agadez, Niger? Instead of Bradwell, how about Timbuktu? Nuclear can’t do a lot for Africa, but solar can do a lot for everyone. It’s time to stop the waste and clean up our act.
Telegraph 19th Sept 2016 read more »
POLITICO asked for two views on the power plant. First, Tim Yeo, chairman of New Nuclear Watch Europe, a pro-nuclear campaign group, makes the case for Hinkley. Then Mycle Schneider, a Paris-based independent international analyst on energy and nuclear policy, looks at some of the drawbacks.
World Nuclear Industry Status Report 15th Sept 2016 read more »
Russia’s state-owned nuclear developer has warned EDF that delays or cost overruns at its Hinkley Point power project risk damaging the credibility of the wider industry. Kirill Komarov, deputy chief executive of Rosatom, the Kremlin-controlled company that is building more reactors than any other group, said that problems at other EDF projects, such as Flamanville in France, were having a detrimental impact on the reputation of the industry. He said that a repeat of such problems at Hinkley Point C, an £18 billion scheme approved by the government last week, would have implications for rival nuclear developers, including Rosatom.
Times 20th Sept 2016 read more »
Nigel Cann has been working in nuclear power for more than 30 years, starting as an apprentice technician, later running Hinkley Point B power station in Somerset. For the last five years he has been helping EDF get ready to build Hinkley Point C. “Some people might be daunted to be having to deliver this project, but for me it’s fantastic – I’ve got the best job in the nuclear industry and the best job in UK construction,” he says. “But nobody here underestimates the scale of the challenge: 25,000 people will help build the power station; we will use 75 times more concrete than it took to build the Millennium Stadium; we are running a 175 hectare construction site.” Last week the government finally gave the go ahead to construction of the £18bn Hinkley Point C project.
Construction Index 20th Sept 2016 read more »
French energy giant, EDF, has said that it does not have any plans to develop a third reactor at Heysham power station. Following yesterday’s decision on a new Hinkley Point reactor, David Morris, MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale, spoke in Parliament about how the Hinkley Point decision could bring about the creation of a new power station in Heysham. However, John Munro, station director for Heysham 2, said that a new Heysham power plant was not a going concern for the company. Mr Munro, said: “Our position is very, very clear, the land is land which can’t be built upon for a new nuclear build. “EDF’s position is that we have no plans to build Heysham 3 and we are focussing our efforts on Hinkley Point C which will be followed up by Sizewell and then Bradwell.”
In the Bay 19th Sept 2016 read more »
Risks of a nuclear disaster have been significantly underestimated, scientists have warned just days after the Government approved plans for the £18billion Hinkley Point C reactor. Experts from the UK and Switzerland said that the true cost of the project could be much higher because of the underestimated risks. They blamed the miscalculation on a conflict of interest of industry bodies who have a stake in the major investment going ahead.
Daily Mail 19th Sept 2016 read more »
A team of risk experts who have carried out the biggest-ever analysis of nuclear accidents warn that the next disaster on the scale of Chernobyl or Fukushima may happen much sooner than the public realizes. Researchers at the University of Sussex, in England, and ETH Zurich, in Switzerland, have analysed more than 200 nuclear accidents, and – estimating and controlling for effects of industry responses to previous disasters – provide a grim assessment of the risk of nuclear power.
University of Sussex 19th Sept 2016 read more »
CHINESE hackers could trigger major blackouts with a massive cyber attack on Britain’s newly approved Hinkley Point nuclear plant, a top security expert has warned. Robert M. Lee, CEO of cyber security company Dragos Inc, said the recent cyber attack on the Ukraine’s energy grid – which resulted in mass blackouts – could be replicated in the UK.Lee said the ability to “tamper” with the power grid of enemies is considered to be a powerful tool in “conflict scenarios”. From an espionage and military perspective, this could present major security “challenges” if relations between the UK and Beijing were to break down, Lee says. He said: “Tampering with energy supplies both from an espionage perspective as well as a military objective have long been considerations for conflict scenarios. “Foreign owned infrastructure can introduce challenges in this area.”
Daily Star 18th Sept 2016 read more »
TIGHT security surrounded the first of a planned series of movements of nuclear loads from Dounreay to the USA at the weekend. Armed police escorted the two lorries carrying the heavily shielded containers of highly enriched uranium from the atom plant to Wick John O’Groats Airport at lunchtime on Saturday. Roads around the airport were closed as the bomb-grade material was loaded aboard a US Air Force plane. The plane then took off with the fuel which is understood to be bound for the Savannah River nuclear site in South Carolina. About £8 million has been spent to upgrade the runway at the airport to accommodate the transatlantic flights. It is believed there will be monthly flights over the next 18 months to move the 700 kilogram stockpile of fuel.
John O Groat Journal 19th Sept 2016 read more »
STV 19th Sept 2016 read more »
The Energy and Climate Change Committee (ECCC) is to be disbanded on 17 October. Responsibility for scrutinising energy and climate change policy will fall to what is currently the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee. It will be renamed the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee.
Utility Week 19th Sept 2016 read more »
Grassroots, who vote for party policy at their conference each year, agreed the deal to build Hinkley Point – which was given the green light by Theresa May last week – was poor value for money. This was despite a plea not to rule it out from the senior Liberal Democrat and former energy minister Ed Davey who negotiated the original deal. He told activists they should not be dismissing any sources of low-carbon energy, adding: “We should not be taking nuclear off the table because of the risks posed to our children and their children by climate change.” But the party voted in Brighton to oppose the construction of the new plant, agreeing that represents very poor value for money for UK consumers. The said UK energy strategy should rest on energy efficiency, renewable energy, storage and interconnection with European grids. Lynne Featherstone, Liberal Democrat Energy Spokesperson, said: “Failing to call a stop to Hinkley will prove a costly mistake. Not just the financial cost to consumers and the public purse, but the opportunity cost for renewables. “The opportunity to pull the plug on Hinkley has been missed, and we will all pay for it from our pockets.”
Eastern Daily Press 19th Sept 2016 read more »
LibDems 19th Sept 2016 read more »
Left Foot Forward 19th Sept 2016 read more »
Sellafield is home to 80% of the UK’s nuclear waste and some of the world’s most hazardous buildings. Now it needs to clean-up. Earlier this year WIRED was given rare access to Sellafield, a sprawling collection of buildings dating back to the first atom-splitting flash of the nuclear age. This was where, in the early 1950s, the Windscale facility produced the Plutonium-239 that would be used in the UK’s first nuclear bomb. In 1956 this stretch of Cumbrian coast witnessed Queen Elizabeth II opening Calder Hall, the world’s first commercial nuclear power station. Both buildings, for the most part, remain standing to this day.
Wired 17th Sept 2016 read more »
Brussels has opened an investigation into Luxembourg’s tax arrangements with Engie, the French utility, as it expands its state-aid clampdown on “sweetheart” tax deals.
FT 19th Sept 2016 read more »
The US Department of Energy is planning to use a consent-based approach to select sites for the storage and disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. The strategy for these sites includes a pilot interim storage facility, consolidated interim storage facilities, and two permanent geologic disposal facilities—one for commercial spent nuclear fuel and the other for defense spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste.
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 9th Sept 2016 read more »
Energy Policy – Scotland
Public support for a low carbon future should encourage Scottish ministers to back bolder projects to tackle climate change, according to WWF Scotland. The environmental charity said ambitious new policies were needed to reduce emissions. It has surveyed 1,000 people – with 61% agreeing the Scottish government should invest in low carbon initiatives that reduce emissions. Ministers said Scotland was a world leader on climate change. The Scottish Parliament’s environment, climate change and land reform committee is due to discuss Scotland’s progress towards meeting its greenhouse gas emissions targets later. Polling data, released by WWF Scotland, suggested about 61% of the public agree “the Scottish government should invest in projects that reduce emissions, like public transport and affordable heat networks, to create a low carbon Scotland”.
BBC 20th Sept 2016 read more »
STV 20th Sept 2016 read more »
The Los Angeles City Council took a major step Friday toward making the city run on clean energy alone. The Council directed the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to develop a plan for going 100 percent renewable, including looking at where, when, and how the city should allocate resources to achieve that goal. In the motion, Councilmembers Paul Krekorian and Mike Bonin wrote that “the city has an opportunity to re-create its utility in a way that recognizes the potential for a fossil-free future, demonstrates global leadership in its commitment to clean energy, and protects ratepayers from the increasing costs of carbon-based fuels.” It passed unanimously, 12–0, on Friday. (Three council members were not in attendance.)
One Step Off the Grid 20th Sept 2016 read more »
Billionaire Jim Ratcliffe’s efforts to kick-start a British shale gas industry have suffered a setback after his company Ineos significantly downgraded its exploration plans for this year. Mr Ratcliffe announced his entrance to the embryonic UK fracking sector two years ago with great fanfare, unveiling plans to invest $1bn and promising benefits to be paid directly to landowners affected by the process, in an attempt to overcome opposition. In January, Ineos director Tom Crotty told the Telegraph it intended to swiftly carry out seismic surveying and submit planning applications in the spring, enabling it to drill tens of “core wells” to take samples of shale rocks before the end of the year.
Telegraph 19th Sept 2016 read more »