“Serious industrial unrest” at Europe’s biggest nuclear site could threaten the Conservatives’ chances of winning a forthcoming byelection, unions have warned. The byelection in the marginal Cumbrian seat of Copeland has been described as “Theresa May’s to lose”. But the Conservative candidate hoping to overturn Labour’s 2,564 majority will have to explain to thousands of workers at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing site why the government is trying to downgrade their final-salary pension scheme. Trade unions representing many of Sellafield’s 10,000 workers have written to the government warning they cannot support either of the options being considered.
Guardian 28th Dec 2016 read more »
Shares in Toshiba fell by 20 per cent yesterday as investors continued to panic after a warning that it may have to write down billions of dollars at its US nuclear business. On Tuesday Toshiba revealed that it could suffer “several billion dollars” of impairment losses on part of its Westinghouse nuclear business in the US over the purchase of a construction and services business from Chicago Bridge & Iron in 2015. In the UK the company could face questions over the impact that its problems may have on NuGen, a joint venture with Engie, the French energy services group, which plans to create a new generation nuclear power station in west Cumbria. The reactor technology is to be provided by Westinghouse. Standard & Poor’s downgraded Toshiba to B- from B, with a negative outlook, saying that it expected shareholder equity to “drastically shrink”. The company said that it would take until February to establish the impact of the writedown but would not say whether it would wipe out its value.
Times 29th Dec 2016 read more »
Toshiba shares slumped sharply on Thursday, the third straight day of heavy losses. The Japanese industrial giant has now had more than 40% of its value wiped off since 26 December. It comes after the firm’s chairman apologised and warned that its US nuclear business may be worth less than previously thought. Shares were down 26% at one stage in Tokyo, but pulled back some of those loses to close 17% lower. Toshiba stocks had already lost 20% on Wednesday and 12% on Tuesday. Toshiba said on Wednesday that it faced a possible heavy one-off loss, linked to a deal done by its US subsidiary, Westinghouse Electric. Westinghouse bought a nuclear construction and services business from Chicago Bridge & Iron in 2015. But assets that took on are likely to be worth less than initially thought – and there is also a dispute about payments that are due. It has this week also reported “inefficiencies” in the labour force at CB&I, along with other factors driving up costs. The size of the writedown is not likely to be established until February, but is expected to run to several billion dollars. Toshiba’s nuclear business has not made a profit since 2013. And while the firm has said the writedowns announced this week were a one-off, nuclear services globally are struggling. Since the Fukushima disaster in 2011, nuclear energy has been a much harder sell. Some governments have opted to scale back how much they planned to rely on nuclear as an electricity source, or (as in the case of Taiwan) turn away from nuclear energy altogether to focus on renewables. Big nuclear projects around the world have faced heavy delays, partly caused by a lack of skilled workers needed to meet regulatory standards. For example in the US, Westinghouse (which Toshiba bought in 2006) is working on two new generation nuclear reactors in Georgia and South Carolina which are running late and over budget.
BBC 29th Dec 2016 read more »
Shares in Toshiba fell 17 per cent to ¥257 on Thursday, taking the total loss of equity value to more than 40 per cent since the Japanese company announced that it was facing a multibillion-dollar writedown at its US nuclear division Westinghouse. As investors continued to digest Tuesday’s warning, shares in some of Japan’s biggest banks slid after the electronics-to-nuclear conglomerate raised the prospect of losses on their loans. Sumitomo Mitsui Trust – which has a particularly large exposure to Toshiba as a share of equity – fell 4.1 per cent on Thursday while the megabanks Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Mizuho Financial were down between 1.9 per cent and 2.5 per cent. The declines suggested a high risk of a debt-to-equity swap or other restructuring at Toshiba, underlining the severity of its crisis over accounting for US nuclear contracts. Toshiba declined to comment. The company has said it does not expect to announce the precise size of the necessary write-off until February, leaving analysts speculating that it could fall into negative equity, and investors unwilling to trust its disclosure.
FT 29th Dec 2016 read more »
Toshiba Corp. plunged by the most on record as the once heralded U.S. nuclear renaissance turns into a nightmare for the Japanese company. The shares fell by 20 percent, the most since 1974, according to available data, to close at 312 yen in Tokyo, following a 12 percent drop Tuesday. Toshiba said it may have to write down billions related to an acquisition made by U.S. unitWestinghouse Electric that was geared toward completing the newest generation of reactors at two U.S. facilities. The projects, overseen by utilities Southern Co. and Scana Corp., are years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.
Bloomberg 27th Dec 2016 read more »
Toshiba was looking to profit from a global nuclear power revival when it paid $5.4 billion for Westinghouse Electric in 2006. Instead, cost overruns and missed deadlines threaten to sink the Japanese conglomerate.
Wall St Journal 29th Dec 2016 read more »
A new boss is at the helm of Hartlepool’s nuclear power station. The new director, Craig Dohring, immediately paid tribute to the station’s biggest strength which, he said, was its outstanding workforce.
Hartlepool Mail 29th Dec 2016 read more »
2017 will be a crunch year for some of the biggest proposed infrastructure projects ever seen in Wales from a tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay to a new nuclear power station for Anglesey.
Wales Online 29th Dec 2016 read more »
Tim Yeo: New Nuclear Watch Europe (NNWE) has long argued that new nuclear build is critical to meeting Europe’s decarbonisation targets. However, the interest group recognises that, if Europe is serious about its climate change commitments, the much needed shift from fossil fuels to low carbon generation sources, such as nuclear, is potentially threatened by the economics. In the latest of a planned series of Brussels-based, Nuclear Energy Policy Forum events, NNWE called on pro-nuclear countries across Europe (that is, the EU and beyond), to work together even more closely and harmonise safety requirements with the aim of reducing the cost of new nuclear to the benefit of consumers and governments alike. Safety requirements for nuclear new build vary considerably across the EU and its neighbouring countries. NNWE maintains that harmonisation of those requirements will drive costs down and allow the technology to compete on economic grounds. At the same time, NNWE is clear that in calling for the harmonisation of safety requirements it is not suggesting that any consequent reduction in the cost of nuclear new build should be at the expense of safety. Nuclear power stations have an outstanding record of safety in Europe and that should not be compromised. The Brussels event brought together representatives from across the EU Institutions and the nuclear sector to consider whether the lack of harmonised safety requirements have made nuclear plants too expensive to build.
Euractiv 15th Dec 2016 read more »
Ten more people were diagnosed with thyroid cancer as of late September this year in the second round of a health survey of Fukushima Prefecture residents, which began in April 2014, a committee overseeing the survey disclosed on Dec. 27. The number of people confirmed to have cancer during the second round of the survey stands at 44, while the overall figure including cases detected in the first round stands at 145.
Mainichi 28th Dec 2016 read more »
AN earthquake in Fukushima has put the city’s nuclear power plant owners on alert. A magnitude 6.3 quake has hit Japan’s Kanto region, according to the Japanese Meteorological Agency. The area borders the Tōhoku region, where the Fukushima Power Plant had a devastating meltdown in 2011 after a mega earthquake caused a massive tsunami wave.
Express 28th Dec 2016 read more »
The retirement of Sen. Harry Reid may give new life to a project he’s made a career out of opposing. For years, the Senate minority leader and Nevada Democrat has been the most vocal opponent of a plan to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, a remote site less than 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas. Analysts say Mr. Reid’s staunch political opposition to the proposal partly led to the Obama administration to pull the plug on Yucca Mountain in 2011.
Washington Times 27th Dec 2016 read more »
President-elect Donald J. Trump’s Twitter post last week that the United States must “greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability” provoked confusion and anxiety that intensified the next day when he added, in a television interview, “Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.” Largely unspoken in the tumult, but running just below the surface, was a deep uncertainty about the future of a cornerstone of America’s nuclear policy: its program to safeguard the nation’s atomic stockpile. A central mission of the nation’s weapons laboratories is to ensure that the country’s nuclear weapons still work if needed. To do that, the government has long relied on a program that avoids the need for underground testing, instead using data from supercomputers and laboratory experiments and inspecting the warheads. But some nuclear analysts say that the Trump administration is likely to face decisions that could upend the bomb program, leading to a resumption of testing and perhaps a new global arms race if they are mishandled. Adding to the concern is Mr. Trump’s choice of a politician with no expertise in nuclear or technical matters, former Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, to lead the Energy Department, which runs the nation’s nuclear-weapons labs and the safeguards program.
New York Times 27th Dec 2016 read more »
10 Reasons Trump Won’t Lead A Nuclear Renaissance. Donald Trump in the White House and Theresa May in 10 Downing Street. They will open the door to more nuclear spending, no doubt. Prime minister May has already given a green light to Britain’s most expensive energy project, a heavily subsidized nuclear power station at Hinkley Point. Based on the most recent federal budgeting approvals, we expect that no U.S. nuclear weapons programs will want for funds. But, despite all the post-election industry euphoria, should we anticipate a full renaissance for U.S. commercial nuclear power? Is that just a bridge too far, so to speak? Let’s look at the what will go into some of these decisions.
Oil Price 28th Dec 2016 read more »
Sweden has generated more energy from wind power than it ever has before. Nearly 5.7 million kWh of wind power was generated as the country harvested the effects of “Storm Urd” and intense weather across the south of the country. That smashed through the previous record, set almost exactly a year ago, beating it by more than half a million kWh.
Independent 28th Dec 2016 read more »
Russia’s minimum objective is to maintain the share of nuclear in its energy mix at around 18%, a significant reduction from more optimistic targets set as recently as 2014. Alexander Lokshin, first deputy general-director of state nuclear corporation Rosatom said in an interview on the company’s website that the reason for the reduction in new-build plans is the almost stagnant rate of energy demand in Russia. He said forecasts of around 4.5% annual growth in energy demand set in 2006 “proved to be far from reality”.He said growth in energy consumption is almost at zero while existing nuclear generating capacity that was scheduled to be shut down is continuing to operate.
Nucnet 27th Dec 2016 read more »
More communities are producing their own renewable energy, with a 17% increase in nine months, according to a new report. Scotland had 595MW of community and locally-owned renewable capacity in June this year – enough to power about 300,000 homes, the research found. This was a 17% increase on the operational capacity in the last report in September 2015, when the operating capacity was estimated at 508MW. As in previous years, the largest proportion of operational community and locally-owned capacity was on Scottish farms and estates, which produced 41% (244MW), followed by local authorities, which made 18% (108MW). The Energy Saving Trust report, published on December 29, found there are 15,570 locally and community-owned renewables sites in Scotland at present, though more wish to pursue projects. Within those already in place, the two largest power sources continue to be onshore wind (273MW) and biomass (162MW). Business, innovation and energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “We have exceeded our 2020 target of achieving 500MW in community and local ownership and, in line with our 2016 election manifesto commitment, we now pledge to double this to 1GW in the same timeframe. “Putting this in context, 1GW would be enough electricity to power half a million homes in Scotland. “Locally-owned renewables have the potential to help drive social, economic and environmental change in communities across Scotland.
Independent 29th Dec 2016 read more »
Northern Ireland will begin the new year in political crisis, with another likely challenge to first minister Arlene Foster over a botched green energy incentive scheme that could cost Â£400m over the next two decades. All of Northern Ireland’s main political parties have lined up against Ms Foster, who lost a no-confidence vote in the assembly just before Christmas but survived on a technicality.
FT 29th Dec 2016 read more »
POOR Scots will languish in cold homes for another 25 years unless ministers step up efforts to end fuel poverty, the Scottish Greens claim. Figures published earlier this month show 748,000 households struggle to power their homes. This marks an improvement on the previous year, when 845,000 households had difficulty with heating and lighting. However, the figure is still higher than in 1996, when fuel poverty was first measured, and the Scottish House Condition Survey found 738,000 households were in this category. Now the Greens claim it will take a quarter of a century to eradicate the problem unless the Scottish Government changes its policy. Two working groups have made more than 100 recommendations to the Scottish Government since it missed its target for ending fuel poverty in November. Norman Kerr, director of Energy Action Scotland, wants Holyrood to do more for rural areas and to “develop a new strategy set a new fuel poverty target and increase funding” for this work. He said: “The progress to date on solving the problem of cold, damp and unaffordable to heat homes must not be lost, but can and should be built upon.” Age Scotland deputy chief executive Keith Robson said low energy prices had masked the extent of the problem and warned of the impact of any hikes, saying: “We need a radical transformation of Scotland’s housing stock if we want to ensure that older people can live in safe, warm and comfortable homes which they can afford to heat.” The Greens want warm homes to become a national infrastructure priority, and Wightman called for action to “end the scandal of people being unable to heat their homes in energy-rich Scotland”.
The National 29th Dec 2016 read more »
Self-driving electric cars could reduce air pollution to almost zero in Scotland’s cities within the next decade, an expert has predicted. Simon Tricker, of “smart cities” specialist UrbanTide, said the vehicles could also make car parks obsolete. Mr Tricker believes self-driving cars are likely to be commonplace by 2030. He was speaking ahead of Scottish Renewables’ first low-carbon cities conference, which will be held in Edinburgh in February. “Scottish local authorities are already thinking about what city streets will look like in a decade’s time – and the answers are pretty astounding,” he said. “Self-driving cars won’t need parking spaces in cities – they’re likely to be rented rather than owned and will just head off and carry out their next journey after dropping passengers off.
BBC 27th Dec 2016 read more »