The ability of EDF, the French utility, to fund the £18 billion Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant has been thrown into further doubt after reports suggesting that CGN, its Chinese partner, would shoulder a smaller-than-expected amount of financial risk. Despite having a 66.5 per cent stake in the project, EDF would assume a higher proportion of the liabilities associated with costs overruns or delays, according to Le Journal du Dimanche. The French newspaper cited a note by Thomas Piquemal, EDF’s former chief financial officer, to the company’s audit committee regarding the project, which is mired in controversy on both sides of the Channel. The note is understood to state that, in the case of a 5 billion euro cost overrun, EDF would be liable for 80 per cent of the additional costs. Should the project be delayed by six months, the state-controlled French group would have to refund hundreds of millions of euros to CGN. A payment of 1.6 billion euro would also be payable to EDF’s Chinese partner in the event that the Austrian government succeeds in its complaint to the European Commission over what it regards as illegal state aid for the project. Mr Piquemal quit this month, apparently believing that Hinkley Point C could put the whole of EDF’s finances at risk. He became the second senior resignation at the French group, after the departure of Chris Bakken, the project director, last month.
Times 28th March 2016 read more »
French utility EDF has agreed to shoulder part of Chinese partner CGN’s financial risks should there be delays or cost overruns in the Hinkley Point nuclear project in Britain, weekly Le Journal du Dimanche reported. The newspaper cites a note by former chief financial officer Thomas Piquemal to the EDF board’s audit committee regarding the 18 billion pound project. The notes says in the case of five-billion-euro cost overrun, EDF would have to finance 80 percent of it, despite having a 66.5 percent stake in the project.
Reuters 27th March 2016 read more »
Over the last few days, people from across Egremont/Whitehaven, have been receiving letters to their homes, along with a questionnaire. The letters have left many people worried that they could lose their homes with a proposed contractors village being built nearby. Here is a copy of the letter.
RAAI 23rd March 2016 read more »
A £1.2 billion super-structure is to be built over the Chernobyl nuclear wasteland preventing radiation from escaping for the next century. On April 26 1986, nearly 30 years ago to the day, the world witnessed the worst nuclear accident in its history. A power failure simulation led to an explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the town of Pripyat, then in Ukraine SSR, part of the Soviet Union. The accident is one of only two level seven disasters – the maximum classification – ever given by the International Nuclear Event Scale. The other is Fukushima. The catastrophe directly claimed the lives of 31 people. Roughly 50,000 residents of the nearby town of Prip yat, where the workers were housed, were hastily evacuated. But in the ensuing clean-up hundreds of thousands of people were exposed to deadly radiation, thought to have contributed to a host of illnesses people later developed, such as cancer. In addition, the explosion spewed nuclear particles into the atmosphere, and a potentially deadly cloud swept over much of the Western USSR and Europe. The long-term health complications and eventual death toll from the fall-out from Chernobyl remain hotly contested to this day.
Independent 27th March 2016 read more »
After the Fukushima disaster, the authors analyzed all past core-melt accidents and estimated a failure rate of 1 per 3704 reactor years. This rate indicates that more than one such accident could occur somewhere in the world within the next decade. The authors also analyzed the role that learning from past accidents can play over time. This analysis showed few or no learning effects occurring, depending on the database used. Because the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has no publicly available list of nuclear accidents, the authors used data compiled by the Guardian newspaper and the energy researcher Benjamin Sovacool. The results suggest that there are likely to be more severe nuclear accidents than have been expected and support Charles Perrow’s “normal accidents” theory that nuclear power reactors cannot be operated without major accidents. However, a more detailed analysis of nuclear accident probabilities needs more transparency from the IAEA. Public support for nuclear power cannot currently be based on full knowledge simply because important information is not available.
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 2nd March 2016 read more »
The recent attacks in Belgium and elsewhere would have been catastrophic if the terrorists had gotten their hands on nuclear weapons or even a primitive “dirty bomb,” which combines nuclear material with conventional explosives. International efforts to prevent access to such weapons have made significant progress in recent years, but there is still a long way to go.
New York Times 27th March 2016 read more »
On March 31, Chinese President Xi Jinping will be among world leaders attending the fourth and last Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C., where they will try to strengthen nuclear security to deal with the evolving threat of nuclear terrorism. Such efforts are badly needed, in light of the facts that there have been approximately 20 documented cases of theft or loss of highly enriched uranium or plutonium (although more may have occurred) since the early 1990s,and that there are nearly 2,000 metric tons of dangerous nuclear materials scattered across hundreds of sites around the globe.
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 24th March 2016 read more »
Starting in the 1970s, but especially since the attacks on the United States in September 2001, there has been concern that terrorists could acquire enriched uranium and make such a simple weapon. To do so, they would need to gain access to several tens of kilograms of material enriched to more than 20 percent uranium 235, i.e., highly enriched uranium (HEU). As of the end of 2014, the global stockpile of HEU was estimated to be about 1,370 tons, sufficient for more than 20,000 Hiroshima type weapons. A new report from the International Panel on Fissile Materials (IPFM) proposes that it is necessary and feasible for all production of HEU for military and civilian purposes to be banned.
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 18th March 2016 read more »
When President Barack Obama kicks off the fourth and final Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in Washington on Thursday, he will tell delegations from 51 nations, plus major groups such as the European Union and United Nations, about successes made in ensuring nuclear material does not fall into the hands of terrorists. It’s a timely message in the wake last Tuesday’s attacks in Belgium, which have been claimed by the Islamic State group, commonly known as ISIS or ISIL. But some in the nonproliferation community are concerned that when the summit shuts down at the end of the week, the issue of securing fissile material will cease to be a prime focus for the nations.
Defense News 27th March 2016 read more »
Just in time for the annual appearance of cherry blossoms, fifty-two heads of state will come to Washington to discuss nuclear security. The fourth and final Nuclear Security Summit, launched by President Barack Obama in 2010, will take stock of the progress made in securing vulnerable nuclear material over the last six years.
Carnegie Endowment 25th March 2016 read more »
How a Cyber Attack on a Nuclear Facility Could Unfold. Nuclear security and safety rely on information technology. Whether that technology is motion detectors around the perimeter of a nuclear power plant or monitoring systems in nuclear reactors, all of these systems play a vital role in keeping nuclear materials safe and secure. Recent events, however, have exposed new threats in the cyber domain that raise troubling questions about the security of nuclear facilities.
Nuclear Security Index 23rd March 2016 read more »
A security guard at a Belgian nuclear research centre was murdered and had his pass stolen just days after the Brussels bombings. However, prosecutors have said that Didier Prospero’s death was a criminal affair and unrelated to any terror threat.
Metro 27th March 2016 read more »
The UK’s largest energy suppliers are under renewed pressure to double their recent tariff cuts as fresh data shows the latest round of reductions has done little to reduce fuel poverty. The Big Six have offered customers gas price cuts of just 5pc, and no change to electricity prices, despite energy markets plummeting over 30pc to lows not seen since 2010.
Telegraph 27th March 2016 read more »
Vietnam’s first nuclear power plant will go online by 2028, part of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s plan to develop nuclear facilities in Vietnam to ensure a stable future power supply.
Kallanish Energy 28th March 2016 read more »
Ministry of Defence admits it doesn’t know how much replacing Britain’s Trident nuclear submarines will cost.
Mirror 23rd March 2016 read more »
Renewables – Geothermal
PLANS to drill a deep geothermal well below Aberdeen to heat local homes and businesses would unlock massive quantities of pollution-free energy, campaigners claim. As government-funded report suggests that a demonstration scheme which would tap into high temperatures found miles underground could help position the area as a global energy hub, WWF Scotland has called all political parties to commit to plans to bring clean and affordable warmth to thousands of households and businesses. It has been claimed the “fracking free” plan to drill a deep geothermal well below the city also has the potential to cushion the economic blow from the crisis in the North Sea and highlight the potential from this form of energy for the rest of the UK. The proposal comes on the back of recent claims by Prime Minister David Cameron that Icelandic volcanoes could pipe power to homes across the UK via a a subsea cable.
Herald 27th March 2016 read more »
British companies could save as much as £1bn on their energy bills by changing their ‘energy behaviours’ rather than rely on technical solutions, according to Npower energy experts. Npower Business Solutions, a division of the Big Six supplier, said that it has already helped customers to drive bills down by £26m after acquiring an energy management firm which specialises in company habits. Npower snapped up the RUMM energy consultancy in April last year as part of the company’s plan to grow within the increasingly competitive business supply market. A spokeswoman for the supplier said Npower is targeting total savings of £1bn for its energy customers by focusing on RUMM’s behavioural approach to energy saving. Each company could save between 3-15pc, or an average saving of 9pc, the supplier added .
Telegraph 27th March 2016 read more »
Is climate change the cause of extreme weather events? Until now the link has been suspected but never confirmed with scientific confidence. That position is now changing. A new study from the US confirms that for some extreme events there is a causal connection. As this linkage becomes more obvious the public demand for action will grow more intense a nd that in turn will raise a serious political problem. Even politicians who fully accept the risks of climate change cannot change the weather because heatwaves and other current extreme weather conditions are being caused by the change that has already occurred. Cutting carbon emissions to zero immediately – even if that were practical – would not alter the situation although it could, of course, prevent further deterioration. Equally, countries cannot not isolate themselves. The weather does not recognise political boundaries. In such circumstances the only viable response is adaptation and the development of provision to cope with the increased risks. The approach is sensible but it can be expensive. Taking precautions against the risks of a heatwave is not a simple process. In politics, if a risk cannot easily be removed or managed the temptation is to look for someone to blame. In legal terms this will be translated into the concept of liabilities. If you are a sh areholder in an energy business you might like to ask your company’s view of the issue. It would be fascinating to read their responses.
FT 28th March 2016 read more »