Trust me, I won’t go a penny over budget on Hinkley: Britain’s new £18bn nuclear plant is finally under way… Now EDF’s boss has to build it on time. De Rivaz is outraged when I put to him the claims of a senior consultant engineer of my acquaintance, that the technology could be dodgy. ‘Nothing could be more untrue,’ he replied with barely concealed contempt. ‘I cannot understand how that expression is used for technology which has been approved by the safety regulator in the UK, which has been approved by the Chinese safety authority. ‘On the contrary, it meets the highest safety standards among all nuclear reactors being built in the world at present.’ So what then about the much-publicised delays in building the twin reactor at Flamanville in Brittany? ‘The project in Flamanville is now fully on track and fully compliant with the reset schedule we gave one year ago,’ EDF’s UK chief insists. ‘The Chinese projects [using the same design] are now completed in terms of construction and are about to enter the commissioning and test phase… it’s a very positive reality. How on earth would EDF and its Chinese partners put £18billion at risk on a project if we weren’t confident in the ability to do it on time and budget?’ De Rivaz is equally robust when it comes to defending the price for the electricity, the burden of which British electricity customers will have to shoulder for at least a quarter of a century after completion. ‘The simple truth is the high price is competitive with other low-carbon technology,’ he says. He points out that his plant has a life of up to 60 years whereas other low-carbon technologies, such as wind, have ‘well-known problems of intermittency’, which means they cannot be relied upon at all times.
Daily Mail 22nd Sept 2016 read more »
As Hinkley C is given the green light, research published today by the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex, shows how intense British Government attachments to nuclear submarines help drive a strong bias in UK energy policy in favour of nuclear power. This is despite nuclear power being recognised in the Government’s own detailed analyses to be expensive and otherwise “unattractive” compared to other low carbon options. The report ‘Understanding the Intensity of UK Policy Commitments to Nuclear Power documents strongly-held views in UK defence policy, that nuclear-propelled submarines form a crucial military capability. Yet these are arguably the most complex engineered artefacts in the world, not easy for a country with a declining manufacturing base to build and maintain. “On the military side, we found strong fears that without continued commitment to civil nuclear power, the UK would be unable to sustain the industrial capabilities necessary to build nuclear submarines,” said report co-author Dr Phil Johnstone. “We systematically examined a range of different possible reasons for official UK attachments to nuclear power”, said report co-author Emily Cox. “None of these are satisfactory to explain the intensity of support for nuclear power maintained by a variety of UK Governments. It seems that pressures to continue to build nuclear submarines form a crucial missing piece in the jigsaw.” “The Government’s own data shows the UK to be blessed with abundant, secure and competitive renewable energy resources”, said report co-author Professor Andy Stirling, “in a world turning much more to renewables than nuclear power, Britain might be expected to be taking a lead in these new technologies”. Yet a greater priority in UK policy making appears to lie in maintaining ‘nuclear submarine capabilities’. Parliamentary Select Committee Reports and many other policy documents on the military side reveal intense pressures for strong Government support for skills and training, design and manufacturing and research and regulatory capabilities linking with the civil nuclear industry.
University of Sussex 21st Sept 2016 read more »
Influential credit ratings agency Standard & Poors (S&P) has downgraded its rating on EDF following the UK government’s approval of the controversial Hinkley C nuclear plant. The change of EDF’s rating from A to A- on Wednesday evening follows the UK government’s decision to greenlight the new nuclear plant last week, bringing to an end years of uncertainty over the £18bn project’s future. The downgrade comes as a further blow to EDF, whose share price has fallen by around a third over the past year as fears over the firm’s cashflow and the reliability of its European Pressurised Reactor technology (EPR) mounted. According to French newspaper Le Figaro, S&P said it had made the downgrading due to both the high risk of the Hinkley project and the heavy investment needed from EDF, which will put strain on its already stretched balance sheet. The news comes after Moody’s credit rating agency placed its A2 rating of EDF on review for downgrade following the final announcement last week that Hinkley will be going ahead.
Business Green 22nd Sept 2016 read more »
EDF’s credit rating has been downgraded after the UK government’s decision to approve the construction of an £18 billion nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset. The heavily indebted French company, which is 85 per cent owned by the French government, has had its rating chopped from A/A-1 to A-/A-2 by Standard & Poor’s, the US ratings agency, leaving it four notches above junk status. S&P believes that the execution risk of constructing the twin reactor plant is high and the huge investment involved will strain EDF’s already overstretched balance sheet. However, S&P issued a “stable” outlook on the group, reflecting the French government’s decision to help to stabilise its finances. That was an improvement on a previous “negative” outlook. Moody’s, another ratings agency, placed EDF’s ratings on review last week after the decision to approve the Hinkley project.
Times 23rd Sept 2016 read more »
City AM 22nd Sept 2016 read more »
WEST Somerset Council’s leader said he is delighted that Hinkley C is going ahead, but expressed disappointment at the council’s lack of involvement in the decision-making process. Cllr Anthony Trollope-Bellew said the council only received a telephone call from a civil servant an hour after the news had been broken in the press and online.
This is the West Country 21st Sept 2016 read more »
State-controlled power utility Electricite de France cut its earnings outlook on expectations of lower nuclear output from an increase of plant outages, sending its share price down. EDF, which last week got the go-ahead from the British government to build the £18 billion ($23.4 billion) Hinkley Point nuclear plant in the U.K., said it expects earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of between €16.3 billion ($18.3 billion) and €16.6 billion. It previously had forecast a range of €16.3 billion to €16.8 billion. The company had already lowered its nuclear output forecast in July, but had maintained its earnings target. The French power company said it was forced to close down its nuclear reactor for longer period that planned to carry out inspections after the country’s nuclear safety authority requested to conduct tests on the quality of the steel in the reactors’ vessels. The profit warning, which sent EDF’s shares down 1.8% to €10.62, is another blow for shareholders, who have seen the value of the company lose more than 20% this year. The utility, which already suffers from low electricity prices in its home country and losses of market share, has recently embarked on expensive new projects that are deemed a political priority. The French government, which owns about 85% of EDF, pressured the company to take a majority stake in beleaguered nuclear reactor manufacturer Areva NP. The government also pushed EDF to make the final investment decision to build the Hinkley Project in the U.K. Some senior EDF officials and labor unions worried about the project’s impact on the company’s net debt which already stood at €37 billion last year. One board member resigned over the issue in July as did Chief Financial Officer Thomas Piquemal in March. The U.K. government’s approval of the Hinkley Point project prompted Standard & Poor’s to downgrade EDF’s debt rating to A- on Wednesday evening, further pressuring the share price on Thursday morning.
Wall St Journal 22nd Sept 2016 read more »
UK steelmakers are likely to win lucrative deals to supply the 18 billion pound ($23.5 bln) nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point, not enough though to secure the future of Britain’s troubled steel sector, industry experts say. UK steel firms are slowly emerging from a crisis that has seen around 5,000 jobs, or a fifth of the workforce, axed since last October, thanks primarily to rising steel prices and a falling pound making exports more competitive. Britain approved the controversial, China-backed Hinkley Point project last Thursday, firing optimism its construction will also help arrest the steel sector’s decline. But to ensure its ultimate survival, the industry needs more infrastructure projects that use British steel, lower energy costs and, crucially, more measures to prevent dumped or subsidised steel from China and elsewhere from entering the country.
Reuters 22nd Sept 2016 read more »
TEAMS at Bradwell Power Station have completed a huge clean-up operation to prepare the site for decommissioning. Site operator Magnox originally said the plant would be completely decommissioned by 2015 but it is now likely to be in 2019. In December the company admitted work is not “as far advanced” as expected and would continue beyond its “initial ambitious target”. The power station stopped generating electricity in March 2002, after running for 40 years. The latest milestone has seen the completion of four years’ work to decontaminate the site’s ponds – which are used to temporarily store and cool used nuclear fuel.
Maldon Standard 21st Sept 2016 read more »
Greg Clark, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, visited Moorside, near Sellafield, where NuGen hope to construct the power station. His visit came following the first ‘Cumbria Nuclear Conference’ in Carlisle, which took place yesterday and Wednesday.
In Cumbria 23rd Sept 2016 read more »
Cumbrian businesses have been hearing how they could benefit from being included in future developments in the nuclear industry. A conference held in Carlisle this morning, examined how nuclear investment could benefit all of Cumbria, not just the west. Delegates hear that businesses could have a stake in billions of pounds.
ITV 22nd Sept 2016 read more »
Tom Greatrex: Nuclear is an essential part of the UK’s future low-carbon energy system, argues Tom Greatrex of the Nuclear Industry Association.
Business Green 23rd Sept 2016 read more »
One of the most difficult things about being caught up in a national disaster, apart from the daily grind of survival, must be how quickly your story gets forgotten as the news moves on. Think back to March 2011, when the earthquake, tsunami and subsequent accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan were headlining global news. Today, it’s an old story, although not for the people who lived in the area. French photographer Guillaume Bression, together with his colleague Carlos Ayesta, was closely involved in the Fukushima story as it broke, and subsequently came up with a unique and moving style to demonstrate the legacy of the catastrophe: the pair moved former residents back to their offices, shops, restaurants and hangouts in Fukushima, and then photographed them in the untouched ruins and decay.
Amateur Photographer 22nd Sept 2016 read more »
NFLA welcomes ICAN-UK report which highlights the serious risks to the public of an accident involving a nuclear weapon road convoy in England, Scotland or Wales.
NFLA 22nd Sept 2016 read more »
More than 1.3 million Brummies would be at risk of radiation poisoning if a nuclear weapons convoy crashed on the M6, an alarming new report has revealed. Protesters warn 38 train stations, 18 hospitals and 500 schools would affected and residents would see increased risks of cancer, sickness and major disruption to their daily lives if the worst happened. The warning comes in a report from the Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons which calls for an end to transporting dangerous nuclear material on the nation’s roads.
Birmingham Mail 22nd Sept 2016 read more »
A 78-year-old man who dived under a lorry carrying nuclear weapons on the outskirts of Stirling has praised the actions of police in dealing with the incident. By way of protest, Brian Quail joined 21-year-old student Alasdair Ibbotson in lying down in front of a 20-vehicle convoy which was thought to be carrying weapons to Faslane. The incident happened on the A84, at the junction of Back O’ Hill Road and Millennium Way, Raploch, around 5pm last Thursday, and lasted around 20 minutes, causing some disruption to commuters.
Daily Record 22nd Sept 2016 read more »
Renewables – wave
Four ocean energy developers are to be awarded a total of £2 million development funding by Wave Energy Scotland after successfully competing to the second phase of a technology programme. The funding will support further design, modelling and testing of technologies being developed to help commercialise the Scottish wave energy sector. This brings the total investment by the organisation in Scottish wave energy technology development to £11.8 million across 39 projects in less than two years. But while sea-surface, wave-power technologies are struggling to establish themselves following the financial sinking of Pelamis, sea-bed surface tidal energy is striding ahead, with Atlantis Resources plc aiming for first-power from its Pentland Firth Meygen project next year.
Scottish Energy News 23rd Sept 2016 read more »
Renewables – Biomass
Scot Heat & Power has won the contract to supply biomass fuel to St Andrews University’s £25 million green energy project. The Broxburn-based company will supply round wood for the next five years to the Guardbridge Energy Centre – a macro-renewable project on the site of the former Curtis Fine Papers Mill that is supporting the university’s aim of becoming the UK’s first carbon neutral institution of its kind. The biomass Energy Centre will use virgin round wood, sourced locally from sustainably managed forests by Scot Heat & Power to produce and store hot water. This will then be pumped four miles underground to the university’s North Haugh Campus via a district heating network that will heat and cool its administration and academic building, as well as its laboratories and residences.
Scottish Energy News 23rd Sept 2016 read more »
Renewables – offshore wind
Dong Energy is planning to create the world’s largest offshore wind maintenance hub in Grimsby, creating at least 200 jobs. The Danish company said the hub would be up and running from March 2018, initially serving three east coast windfarms. Westermost Rough is already operational, while Race Bank and Hornsea Project One are under construction. The three wind farms together are expected to generate enough electricity to power 1.5m homes. The new facility at Grimsby’s Royal Dock will include a marine and helicopter centre capable for around-the-clock service to offshore farms. It will be served by two new hi-tech ships which can c arry a 60-strong maintenance crew and remain at sea for long periods.
Guardian 22nd Sept 2016 read more »
An £11 billion scheme to install smart energy meters in every home is flawed and a waste of money, according to an influential group of business leaders. The Institute of Directors will call on Theresa May today to open an “urgent review” into the programme, which it said offered dubious benefits to consumers despite costing up to £410 per household through bills. The government says that the meters will save consumers £26 per year, meaning that it could take 15 years before they benefited from the move. Smart meters show in real time how much electricity and gas is being used by households. Supporters claim that they encourage greater energy efficiency, leading to lower bills and carbon emissions. About 3.6 million smart meters have been installed, with the government planning a further 50 million by the end of the decade.
Times 23rd Sept 2016 read more »
The £12 billion auction for National Grid’s gas pipeline business is set to enter its final phase today with a string of bidders from China, Europe, Australia, the Middle East and North America preparing to table offers. Li Ka Shing, Hong Kong’s richest man, is understood to be participating through his Cheung Kong Infrastructure vehicle, which already owns a string of UK business interests, including the electricity distribution network formerly owned by EDF. Another Chinese consortium is believed to include Fosun, the industrial conglomerate, and China Gas.
Times 23rd Sept 2016 read more »
FT 22nd Sept 2016 read more »
Britain’s first new large gas plant in three years began electricity generation this week, the owner of the Carrington plant near Manchester said. The plant, with a capacity of 880 megawatts, can generate enough electricity to power around 1 million homes. “Carrington Power Station is the first large-scale gas-fired power plant to come online in Great Britain since 2013,” Irish utility ESB, the plant’s owner, said in an emailed statement, adding that first commercial operations began on Monday.
Reuters 21st Sept 2016 read more »