Michael Liebreich: Assuming its unions have not succeeded in stopping it, the board of EDF is today expected to wave through a decision on Hinkley C, the first new nuclear power station in the UK for 20 years and, at £18bn, the world’s most expensive power station. The obvious question is why this train-wreck of a project was not killed long ago. To answer this, you have to delve into the politics of the Conservative Party. In 2010, Tory support was being hit by defections to Ukip, whose average member was an older white guy: implacably anti-EU and hence anti-renewable energy, and very keen indeed on nuclear. A strong pro-nuclear position was seen as one way of shoring up the party’s right flank. The irony is that, all the while, the underlying logic for the project was being undermined. As soon as news broke of the Fukushima nuclear accident, the Tory right all but forgot its support for nuclear power, instead adopting fracking as its cause célèbre. The costs of renewable energy were plummeting to the point where wind projects could be built with little or no subsidy. And the cost of natural gas was falling too, driving down wholesale power prices. The National Audit Office this month released an updated calculation of the lifetime value of the subsidy to Hinkley: a mind-bending £37bn.
City AM 28th July 2016 read more »
EDF’s board meets on Thursday to approve the construction of two nuclear reactors in the U.K., which will cost about 18 billion pounds ($23.6 billion). Cosma Panzacchi, a Bernstein analyst, expects EDF to green light the project. He’s probably right, though investors should pray otherwise. When one side — in this case U.K customers — gets a raw deal, you’d assume the other party is getting a good’un. But Hinkley could turn out to be a financial disaster for everyone. Indeed, renewable energy costs are falling fast and battery storage is improving. So one day much of our power might be generated and stored locally and distributed via smart grids, leaving a diminished role for giant nuclear plants. France will be doing both EDF and its nuclear industry a disservice if it bets big on Hinkley with a still unproven technology, and fails spectacularly. Better to wave a white flag now than build a radioactive white elephant.
Bloomberg 27th July 2016 read more »
French energy company EDF is expected to give the go-ahead for an £18bn nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
Guardian 28th July 2016 read more »
Guardian 28th July 2016 read more »
Daily Mail 28th July 2016 read more »
Times 28th July 2016 read more »
A legally-binding contract committing UK consumers to subsidise Britain’s first new nuclear plant in a generation is expected to be signed on Friday, after the board of EDF meets to approve the £18bn project on Thursday. If the Government were to change its mind once the contract is signed, the UK could be liable to pay French state-controlled EDF billions of pounds in compensation. Labour’s shadow energy secretary Barry Gardiner issued an eleventh-hour plea to the Government not to sign the contract in its current form, which gives EDF significant leeway to delay completion of the project for up to eight years. EDF can still secure the full 35-year contract if Hinkley produces first power any time until 2029. Thereafter the contract would be shortened by one year for every year further delay, but could only be cancelled without penalty for the UK if Hinkley was still not generating by 2033. Mr Gardiner said it was “extremely dangerous” of the Government to give EDF “an open-ended cheque” for the construction of the reactors and said it should face penalties for every year of delay beyond 2025.
Telegraph 27th July 2016 read more »
With a €4bn equity fundraising now approved, EDF has the final piece of its Hinkley Point jigsaw in place — requiring only board sign-off for its UK nuclear power plant. And, assuming directors give the go-ahead for the £18bn project on Thursday, attention in France and the UK will quickly shift to whether the company has enough money to pay for its two-thirds share. The share issue that was agreed on Tuesday, which will provide a fairly immediate €4bn. Then, once the final investment decision is taken, CGN, the Chinese state-backed nuclear group, will pay around €800m in funds owed from the €2.4bn that EDF has already spent on the scheme. EDF says these two measures will help secure the money it needs to press ahead with the early stages of the project. Between now and 2018, the company will also raise €1bn from cost reductions, alongside an additional €10bn in asset sales over an unspecified timeframe. A further saving — of an unspecified amount of money — will come from paying the French government the dividends on its shareholding in equity rather than cash. However, it can only do this for two years — meaning the pressure for savings may well return after 2018.
FT 27th July 2016 read more »
Energy giant EDF is set to make its long-awaited final investment decision on the planned nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, ending doubts over the massive £18 billion project.
Belfast Telegraph 27th July 2016 read more »
Today (28 Jul) is Decision-Day for the French EDF nuclear giant (which operates the Scottish nuclear stations) on whether to go ahead with the proposed new UK nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point C – or not. The GMB – the ‘energy workers’ union’ – last night called on the EDF board to go ahead with the atom plan at its meeting in Paris today ‘to reassure workers and investors after Brexit’.
Scottish Energy News 28th July 2016 read more »
The long-awaited final investment Decision (FID) for EDF Energy’s planned 3,200-MWHinkley Point C nuclear power station in western England, scheduled to take place at a board meeting of French utility EDF in Paris July 28, will not only give the go ahead for the first new nuclear plant in the UK since 1995, but could also serve as the starting gun for a total of 16,000 MW of new nuclear capacity due to be built in the country. All this should be taken with a pinch of salt, however. The UK has a history of ambitious new nuclear construction programs that end up as something of a damp squib. The last nuclear plant built in the country, the 1,250-MW Sizewell-B, the UK’s only PWR reactor, was commissioned in 1995. At the same time that this unit was approved, there were also ambitious construction plans for a series of PWRs, including at Wylfa-B, Sizewell-C and, indeed, Hinkley Point C. While these plans were expected to come to fruition by the late 1990s, only Sizewell-B eventually got built. Going further back, the UK’s Minister of Power, Fred Lee, in May 1965 rather melodramatically called the Advanced Gas-Cooled reactor, or AGR, the “the greatest breakthrough of all time,” heralding another ambitious nuclear construction program in the country. The reality is rather different, and while the AGR currently remains the backbone of the UK’s nuclear power industry, the reactor design today is viewed as a rather exotic, technologically-challenged hybrid that is unique to the UK. Looking further back still, the first indigenous UK nuclear reactor design, the magnox reactor, was the subject of large scale construction and export plans, most of which did not come to fruition. Only two reactors were ultimately exported and the design is arguably best known for the worst nuclear disaster in the UK, the 1957 fire at the Calder Hall site, within the present day Sellafield complex. This event resulted in the worst nuclear disaster in the UK’s history and a significant radioactive release.
Platts 27th July 2016 read more »
SEDGEMOOR is “Hinkley ready” as the multi-billion pound nuclear power plant looks set to get the go ahead, according to the district council. After months of delays and rumours, energy giant EDF will hold a board meeting in London today where Hinkley Point C is reportedly set to be given the green light when members make their Final Investment Decision (FID). It is welcome news for the area, with thousands of jobs set to be created and millions of pounds ready to be ploughed into the area if approved.
Burnham & Highbridge News 28th July 2016 read more »
Energy analyst Tom Burke, Chairman of Third Generation Environmentalism, told Sky News it was a waste of taxpayers’ money.”I think it offers expensive solutions and ones that are unreliable. We could probably achieve Hinkley and probably the whole nuclear programme a lot cheaper if we went ahead with investing in renewables and investing in energy efficiency.” The project has also attracted controversy over the likely involvement of Chinese funding – a third of the total cost. Others, meanwhile, worry about the potential risk of a nuclear disaster. Stop Hinkley campaigner Allan Jeffery warned: “If it was to have an accident there would be large amounts of radioactivity going all over the southwest of England.” EDF declined to comment ahead of the meeting but has previously said that the plant meets “stringent safety standards” and is a good deal for consumers.
SkyNews 28th July 2016 read more »
CUMBRIAN businesses stand to benefit if, as expected, EDF announces today that it is pushing ahead with a new nuclear power station in Somerset.
In Cumbria 28th July 2016 read more »
The technology behind the European pressurised reactor (EPR) is meant to be safer than anything that has gone before. But the project is more than three times over budget and years behind schedule, and France’s nuclear safety authority has found weaknesses in the reactor’s steel. Today, not a single EPR reactor operates anywhere in the world. In Flamanville, the first concrete was poured in 2007. Since then costs have more than tripled to €10.5bn, while the project is six years behind schedule. In Finland, the location of another EPR, the picture is even worse: the Olkiluoto reactor is nearly a decade behind and three times over budget, with the added headache of legal battles over who is to blame. Less is known about two EPR reactors being built in China. What might have been just a colourful tale of shareholder angst took a different turn in 2015, when it emerged that weak spots had been found in the Flamanville reactor’s steel, which is made by another French industrial champion, Areva. France’s Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) said it had found “very serious anomalies” in the reactor vessel. As the regulator deepened its investigation, it warned that the problems could affect other reactors in operation, although it stressed that France’s reactors were safe. In its latest annual report, the ASN described the safety of the country’s 58 nuclear power plants as “satisfactory”, but said it had “significant concerns” for the future as financial pressures build on France’s nuclear industry. The decision on Hinkley Point C may come down to politics. Young at RBC suggests that EDF wants a decision on Hinkley Point C while the UK has a functioning government and before possible Brexit aftershocks complicate the picture. “If you are EDF, why would you want to wait and run the risk of a snap election being called?” he says. A future government could change its mind on the project, Whitehall’s official spending watchdog has said, warning of a “tidal wave” of pressures from an impending Brexit.
Guardian 27th July 2016 read more »
Sizewell and Bradwell
Plans for new nuclear power stations at Sizewell in Suffolk and Bradwell in Essex are likely to come a step closer today. The multi billion pound project has been proposed by the French energy company EDF. It’s expected to approve funding tonight for the development of its new nuclear programme in the UK.
ITV 28th July 2016 read more »
As the new Government settles into power, so the backbenches are going through the process of shaking out into groups of shared interests, picking topics on which to press ministers and so on. Given the existing controversies over infrastructure, and Downing Street’s new focus on industrial strategy, these seem set to be two of the key areas. Right on cue, I’ve just received a group letter from 19 MPs on the topic of nuclear power – notably the signatories include John Whittingdale, newly returned to the backbenches in the reshuffle
Conservative Home 27th July 2016 read more »
The nuclear industry sees the UK as a springboard for its plans to expand in the next 20 years, especially as a pioneer in the deployment of a new breed of small reactors. Despite the UK referendum vote to leave the European Union, the industry is confident that many small reactors will be built in Britain and that the country will become a showcase for the industry and an exporter of the technology. The ideal is for each town to have its own reactor. The government-owned National Nuclear Laboratory says the industry worldwide will be worth £400 billion by 2035, and much of the development and new build will be in Britain. In a Nuclear Energy Insider poll, almost 70% of those in the nuclear industry thought this figure was realistic.
Climate Change News 27th July 2016 read more »
If you recall, we said recently that Cumbria owed a great debt of gratitude to Professor David Smythe who voluntarily gave his time and expertise to ensure that the MRWS process wasn’t a one-sided PR exercise. In view of his continuing problem with Glasgow University (see the previous post), we have written to the University expressing our concern at what appears to be an attempt to stifle his research. Eddie Martin in his capacity as a past leader of Cumbria County Council has also written to them.
Cumbria Trust 28th July 2016 read more »
Trust in Japan’s nuclear watchdog, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), has been jolted. At hand is an issue raised by Kunihiko Shimazaki, former acting chairman of the NRA. Shimazaki pointed out that Kansai Electric Power Co. underestimated the maximum shaking that could occur during an earthquake at its Oi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukui Prefecture. Shimazaki is an authority on seismology, having formerly served as president of the Seismological Society of Japan. While serving in the NRA, he handled screening of power companies’ earthquake predictions for nuclear power plants including the Oi nuclear plant. After he stepped down two years ago, he re-examined data and found the method of calculating standard ground motion (the maximum shaking that would occur during an earthquake) was inappropriate in some cases, depending on the type of fault. This could lead power companies to underestimate figures, he apparently found in his research.
Mainichi 25th July 2016 read more »
Renewables – solar
Bristol Sport’s Ashton Gate Stadium, home to Bristol Football Club and Bristol Rugby, has partnered with Bristol City Council to install solar PV panels on one of its stands as part of a major refurbishment of the ground. The 460-panel system, installed on the stadium’s West Stand, will provide 117kW of energy for the sports venue, generating more than 95,000kWh of energy a year. It is expected to reduce the stadium’s carbon emissions by 20%, cutting the energy bill by £150,000 over a 20-year period. The installation was made possible through a partnership between Bristol City Council and Bristol Sport – the stadium’s owner – as part of a bold pledge by the former European Green Capital to be running entirely on clean energy by 2050.
Edie 27th July 2016 read more »
Renewables – marine
A £10 million EU programme to fund open-sea trials for ocean energy – where test facilities include the Orkney-based European Marine Energy Centre – is seeking applications from developers. Successful applicants will receive free access to test ocean energy technologies in real sea conditions at a network of open sea test centres. The FORESEA project was launched to help enterprises test and demonstrate low carbon energy technologies in real sea environments.
Scottish Energy News 28th July 2016 read more »
Renewables – offshore wind
The European offshore wind industry has enjoyed a record six months of investment, according to new figures released today by trade body WindEurope. In the first six months of this year Europe’s offshore wind projects attracted €14bn of investment, split across seven projects and financing a total of 3.7GW of new clean energy capacity. The UK attracted the lion’s share of new investment, with UK projects worth €10.4bn securing a final investment decision, amounting to roughly three-quarters of all European investment.
Guardian 27th July 2016 read more »
A renovation programme to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from buildings in Europe could create a million jobs, provide warmer homes, more comfortable factories and offices, reduce fuel bills across 28 countries, and cut imports of Russian gas, researchers say. This is because buildings are currently the biggest single emitter of GHGs in Europe. Many have inefficient heating and cooling, combined with poor insulation. But with existing technology and political will, they could be transformed into energy producers and become carbon-neutral, says a report produced by OpenEXP, an international group of experts helping policymakers to reach sustainable development goals.
Climate News Network 27th July 2016 read more »