France’s energy minister said on Monday that an overhaul of the country’s state-controlled nuclear energy industry was imminent, after one of the country’s main builders of nuclear power plants warned of a loss that could hamper its ability to continue operating independently. The minister, Ségolène Royal, told reporters that France’s main nuclear power companies “should organize themselves to refocus on their core business, to forge alliances between major French enterprises and to win bids at the international level.”Ms. Royal spoke after Areva, one of the world’s leading nuclear technology companies, said in a preliminary statement that it expected a 2014 net loss of about 4.9 billion euros, or $5.6 billion, compared with a loss of €500 million a year earlier. The loss that Areva warned of on Monday would be substantially larger than its stock-market value of about €3.7 billion, suggesting that the troubled company, plagued by cost overruns and write-downs, may need new funds to continue operating. Areva’s capabilities are vital to France’s ambitions to remain a world provider of nuclear plants and services like supplying fuel. EDF’s much-heralded plan to showcase French technology in Britain with a £16 billion, or $24.6 billion, power station at Hinkley Point, England, is also looking uncertain. A decision on whether to proceed with construction, in which would be the first such plant to be built in Britain since the 1990s, might not be made any time soon, EDF said this month. Areva is listed as a partner and contractor in the Hinkley Point project, but the company’s recent losses raise questions about how much capital it can contribute. The companies had hoped to have the Hinkley Point plant operating by 2018, but now even 2023 looks optimistic. All of the European projects by Areva or EDF feature the EPR reactor, a 1990s design that was supposed to lock up a big share of global orders for France but is proving exceedingly complex and expensive to build.
New York Times 23rd Feb 2015 read more »
Areva, the French nuclear group, on Monday issued its fifth profit warning in seven months, saying it expected to report a 4.9bn euro loss for 2014 as cost overruns ballooned on key European projects. The annual net loss – due to be the largest the state-controlled group has ever recorded – comes as Areva works with the French government on the details of a state-backed rescue package, according to people familiar with the situation. Areva’s new chief executive Philippe Knoche is due to present on March 4, when full-year results are published, his strategy to reduce the group’s large debt load and restore it to profit. Areva has not sold a new nuclear reactor since 2007 and has been grappling with fierce competition from US, Russian and South Korean companies. It is also contending with weaker demand for nuclear energy following the Fukushima disaster in Japan. Areva has been hit by cost overruns on its flagship Finnish Olkiluoto 3 reactor, which is due to come online in 2018, 10 years behind schedule. The project has so far been the subject of 3.9bn euro of impairment charges – with analysts expecting more writedowns at the group’s full-year results. In a statement on Monday, Areva, which has a 10 per cent stake in the Hinkley Point nuclear project in the UK, said its 2014 impairment charges were also related to its new French uranium conversion plant Comurhex II. The company also warned of further provisions on renewable energies contracts, having already incurred charges of 373m euro on its discontinued solar business.
FT 23rd Feb 2015 read more »
Areva announced on Monday that it expects to report a 2014 net loss of about €4.9bn, which could be large enough to force the French nuclear group to convene an extraordinary general meeting to decide if the company will be dissolved. Investors have been banking on support from the French state, which owns 87% of Areva’s shares but has so far been reluctant to inject fresh capital into the group to shore up its finances.
IFR 23rd Feb 2015 read more »
EU Business 23rd Feb 2015 read more »
The removal of two million litres of liquid radioactive waste from silos used to store swarf waste from Magnox fuel reprocessing at the UK’s Sellafield site marks a significant hazard reduction milestone, according to Sellafield Ltd.
World Nuclear News 20th Feb 2015 read more »
On Wednesday the House of Lords under the Chair of Baroness Verma will be discussing in Grand Committee in the Moses Room at 3.45pm the plan to push through legislation that will remove our right, and the right of Cumbria County Council, to object to burying radioactive waste underground. They hope to do this as soon as practically possible by adding GDFs (Geological Disposal Facilities) to the list of NSIPs (Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects). An NSIP would force through the what we believe to be the government’s plans to return to Cumbria in the search for a site for a GDF. This would of course deny communities the voice usually afforded to them via public enquiries.
Cumbria Trust 23rd Feb 2015 read more »
The Infrastructure Bill is one of the Coalition’s most insidious pieces of legislation. Within, there lurks a whole raft of clauses which undermine environmental protection and diminish common laws and rights: Greenbelt, National Parks, Fracking… and right in the darkest, eensiest hidey-hole.. underground nuclear waste dumps! The House of Lords are to discuss the siting of such a facility this Wednesday. The angle taken under the government’s new proposals is an attempt to wipe out democratic process, to undermine legitimate local authority decisions and to remove the potential for opposition to their actions. In effect, when government did not get the answer it wanted it has chosen to change the rules.
Radiation Free Lakeland 24th Feb 2015 read more »
Cracks discovered in the walls of Belgian nuclear reactors are causing unease among experts. The reason: a previously unknown phenomenon – material fatigue. There are fears that many more reactors could be affected. Several thousand cracks have been discovered by corrosion experts in the pressure vessels of two reactors at the Belgian nuclear power stations Doel 3 and Tihange 2. Caused by a previously unknown phenomenon, material fatigue, it is feared the finding could have implications outside of Belgium. The discovery of the cracks in the reactors “could be a problem for the entire global nuclear industry,” says Jan Bens, general director of the Belgian Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC), speaking on .
Deutsche Welle 23rd Feb 2015 read more »
Ministers responsible for energy in eight EU member states have written to the European Commission asking for a forthcoming action plan on EU energy policy to include nuclear power alongside other low-carbon technologies. The ministers of Romania, France, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and the UK urged the EC to ensure that the Communication on Energy Union, due to be published on 25 February 2015, includes “a package of initiatives to develop a supportive EU framework for safe and sustainable nuclear power”. According to the eight ministers, the package of initiatives should include a commitment from the EC to explore the possibility of applying European financing mechanisms for large infrastructure projects to nuclear projects. European financing for nuclear projects is necessary to address the failure of the market to independently source the requisite start-up capital for nuclear projects, the letter says. In October 2014, when it approved the UK government’s financial involvement in the Hinkley Point C nuclear project, the EC concluded there was a failure of the market to supply capital for the construction of new nuclear power stations without state aid. The ministers’ letter also says European financing is needed to “reduce financing costs by increasing the economic predictability for long-term investments”. In the Hinkley Point C decision, the EC concluded that nuclear power suffers more than other energy sources due to its “longer time horizon and greater investment size”.
Nucnet 19th Feb 2015 read more »
Japan – Fukushima
Sensors at the Fukushima nuclear plant have detected a fresh leak of highly radioactive water into the sea. Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said the sensors, which were rigged to a gutter that pours rain and ground water at the Fukushima Daiichi plant to a nearby bay, detected contamination levels up to 70 times greater than the already-high radioactive status seen at the plant campus.
ABC 22nd Feb 2015 read more »
Israel’s Mossad spy agency in October 2012 had a less alarmist view of Iran’s nuclear program than an assessment delivered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations just a few weeks earlier, according to a purported secret cable published Monday by two media outlets. In a landmark speech to the United Nations in September of that year, Netanyahu had brandished a cartoon drawing of a bomb and said Iran was moving ahead with plans that would allow it to potentially build a nuclear bomb within a year or so. But in the document published Monday by The Guardian and Al-Jazeera, the Mossad is quoted as saying “Iran at this stage is not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons.”
Telegraph 23rd Feb 2015 read more »
Iran nuclear talks making some progress.
BBC 23rd Feb 2015 read more »
British spies sought the assistance of South African intelligence agents in an effort to recruit a North Korean “asset”, according to a series of leaked documents. MI6 wrote to their South African counterparts to request help with what they termed “an unusual opportunity” to gain insight into North Korea’s secret nuclear programme.
Telegraph 23rd Feb 2015 read more »
Daily Mail 24th Feb 2015 read more »
Renewables – solar
A major new study from a leading German think tank and renewable energy specialist says the cost reduction potential of large scale solar is still misunderstood, and predicts that solar PV will be the cheapest form of power within a decade, and cost less than $US0.02/kWh by 2050. The study by the Berlin-based Agora Energiewende says that the end to cost reductions from solar plants is “not in sight”, even after falling more than 80 per cent in recent years. It cites a range or reasons for this. Primarily, though, it comes down to an expected doubling in module efficiency, which will mean less panels are needed to produce the same amount of power, and therefore less land, less materials, less maintenance and lower installation costs.
Renew Economy 24th Feb 2015 read more »
Apple has announced £1.25bn plans to build two data centres in Europe powered entirely on renewable energy. Chief executive Tim Cook said the developments in Galway, Ireland and Jutland in Denmark would be Apple’s largest-ever European project and would “introduce some of our most advanced green building designs”. At 120,000 sq m each, the centres will be among the largest in the world. Apple offsets its data centres’ power use by investing in renewable energy capacity. At the Denmark site, some generation will be done on site. But in Ireland the offsetting will take the form of new projects in other parts o f the country.
Guardian 23rd Feb 2015 read more »
The world’s states should commit to a legally binding emissions cut of 60% by 2050, with five-yearly reviews, in a Paris Protocol to replace the moribund Kyoto agreement at a climate summit later this year, according to a leaked EU document. But environmentalists have questioned the integrity of the headline 60% figure, and a strategy which is seen as overly-tilted towards the US. “Major economies, in particular the EU, China and the US, should show political leadership by joining the Protocol as early as possible,” says the EU’s ‘Road to Paris 2015’ communication, which the Guardian has seen. “It should enter into force as soon as countries with a share of 80% of current global emissions have ratified it.
Edie 23rd Feb 2015 read more »
Guardian 23rd Feb 2015 read more »
The stock-market listed company which owns licences for underground coal gasification (UCG) off Fife in the Forth Estuary is currently carrying out a full environmental risk assessment – including a public health risk assessment – to support its forthcoming planning application. The majority of work being undertaken for Cluff Natural Resources is through Scottish companies or companies with a significant presence in Scotland and it is expected that this planning application will be submitted to Fife Council before year-end.
Scottish Energy News 24th Feb 2015 read more »
A new partnership with controversial US oil giant, Halliburton, to exploit coal gas under the Firth of Forth has come under fierce fire from environmentalists and politicians. The company that’s leading efforts to develop underground coal gasification (UCG), Cluff Natural Resources, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Halliburton. This launches a new collaboration aimed at commercialising exploration licences covering large parts of the Firth of Forth, starting with an area off Kincardine. At the weekend an alliance of 30 community and environmental groups wrote to the Scottish Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing, demanding that UCG be included in the government’s fracking moratorium. They expressed “grave concern” that it had been omitted, and highlighted health and environmental dangers. Friends of the Earth Scotland warned that Cluff’s choice of Halliburton as a partner “should set alarm bells ringing”. It accused Halliburton of lobbying to exclude fracking fluids from safe drinking water legislation in the US.
The National 23rd Feb 2015 read more »