Beijing’s growing confidence in its plans to help build new reactors at Hinkley in Somerset and Bradwell in Essex has been underlined by the recent incorporation of seven new Chinese nuclear-related firms in London. It appears, however, that an agreement between China and its partner EDF of France to develop the first new reactors in Britain for 20 years has still not been signed. Beijing’s creation of so many new businesses could further alarm those concerned at the degree of complexity surrounding the £18bn Hinkley scheme. Documents from Companies House show the recent listing of General Nuclear System Limited and Bradwell Power Holding Company alongside more opaque entities such as Libra International and Sagittarius International. All seven companies use the same Stratton Street address in Mayfair, west London used by the state-owned China General Nuclear Power Corporation. They also have the same director, Zhu Minhong, the public face of China’s nuclear power business in Britain.
Guardian 3rd April 2016 read more »
A few weeks ago Thomas Piquemal, the finance director of EDF (Électricité de France), resigned over the company’s plans to build a 3,200MW nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset, next to two existing plants. This week, a union representative on the EDF board has said that he will vote against the plans to build the reactor, while in an internal document leaked to the Financial Times, some of the company’s engineers have expressed concerns about the technology involved. So far, EDF still officially backs the project – last month, EDF CEO Vincent de Rivaz told a House of Commons committee that it will “clearly and categorically… go ahead”. Despite the lavish subsidies, there have been fears this deal could blow up in EDF’s face. “There are other calls on its capital and resources, not least France’s nuclear power stations, which require an expensive upgrade,” says Nils Pratley in The Guardian. EDF already has high debts and S&P has warned if the project goes ahead it may downgrade its bonds, currently rated A+. EDF has been unable to convince partners other than the Chinese to fund the upfront costs – and these may be in jeopardy, as no written contract has been signed.
Money Week 3rd April 2016 read more »
George Kerevan: Why George Osborne is putting Chinese interests first and letting British steel die. WHY is the Tory government prepared to sacrifice the British steel industry in favour of protecting Chinese commercial interests? Why is a supposedly “patriotic” Conservative like Chancellor George Osborne willing to hand over the future of the British Steel.
The National 4th April 2016 read more »
The principal reason that the French and later the South Koreans could continually lower construction costs of their nuclear fleets is that they picked one design, standardized it and built lots of them. What the UK is proposing is almost bespoke nuclear construction with six sites and four different plant designs–one of which, EDF’s, is already proving “difficult”. Think of it this way: more people can be clothed, per pound spent, at Marks & Spencer than at Savile Row. Well, maybe the cuts are different, but not the electricity. The Cameron government, despite its supposed faith in free markets, finds that it must provide extensive almost extraordinary guarantees for these nuclear projects. This will add to the government’s debt burden and commit electricity consumers to decades of high prices. For these and other reasons the government should be working on a Plan B.
Oil Price 2nd April 2016 read more »
The UK’s first “dry store” for spent nuclear fuel has officially been opened in Suffolk. It is a method of storing spent nuclear fuel that has already been cooled. The fuel is loaded into a metal canister which is then welded shut and placed within a large, leak-tight steel and concrete cask. The facility will store spent fuel from EDF Energy’s Sizewell B nuclear power plant from autumn this year until a Geological Disposal Facility is available for the longer term storage.
Energy Live News 4th April 2016 read more »
Matt Ridley: Britain has the highest electricity prices because it has the most draconian climate policies. Despite promises not to do so, the government insists on going faster than other countries in emissions reduction. As Lord Deben, chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, put it recently, apparently without intended irony, the British approach to climate legislation is the envy of most countries in the world. At green conferences maybe. As well as paying huge and growing bills to subsidise those futile playthings of the rich, the wind and solar industries, energy-intensive industry also picks up the cost of the “carbon price floor”, a tax on fossil fuels used to generate electricity, which was introduced in 2013 and doubled last year to £18.08 per tonne of carbon, or more than four times the cost of the European emissions trading scheme, of £4 a tonne. This can have little impact on climate, however, not only because Britain’s emissions are less than 2 per cent of global emissions, but because it merely exports jobs and emissions.
Times 4th April 2016 read more »
National Grid’s decision to grant lucrative contracts to two large British coal-fired power plants, helping keep them open, shows it is in a “blind panic” about electricity supplies next winter, according to industry insiders. At the end of last week, National Grid, which runs the UK electricity network, granted two services contracts – one to Fiddlers Ferry in Cheshire the other to Drax in North Yorkshire. The deals will ensure in an emergency the power stations are able to start up again without electricity from the grid, which would be essential in a national power outage. But industry insiders believe that with electricity supplies looking tighter than ever, the contracts are designed to make sure the plants stay open over next winter. National Grid denies this, saying the companies won a competitive bidding process. Sara Bell, chief executive of Tempus Energy, which provides electricity through the wholesale markets, has asked the competition watchdog and Ofgem, the energy regulator, to investigate. “This is a bilateral, behind closed doors transaction, in support of a coal plant that only a few weeks ago stated it could not continue to operate,” she said. “Worse still, the sudden nature of the deal announcement has moved the market, to the detriment of other market participants.” She said Tempus was also considering a legal challenge.
FT 3rd April 2016 read more »
In order to develop aligned positions to meet the major challenges facing the French nuclear sector and to prepare the appropriate decisions, EDF, the CEA and AREVA (Paris:AREVA) have decided to found the French Nuclear Platform (Plateforme France Nucléaire – PFN), a tripartite body to discuss the major transversal topics for the nuclear sector in France and abroad. This body will unite, on a quarterly basis, six key managers from the three entities, including the Chairmen of the CEA, EDF and AREVA. Its chairmanship will be decided on a rotating basis, with the Chairman’s mandate lasting one year. The first mandate will be entrusted to the Chairman of AREVA.
Business Wire 31st March 2016 read more »
Plutonium – US
Madmen within the American government-Obama Administration with their poison “gift” basket diplomacy are planning to bury old foreign plutonium, from terrorist countries such as Switzerland, Sweden, and Japan, at WIPP in New Mexico, and old foreign uranium waste in Utah, Texas, or elsewhere, USA. Switzerland had their plutonium in vaults at Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) behind heavy gates and probably in a bunker. Meanwhile, US commercial nuclear waste sits dangerously on nuclear reactor sites throughout America and the US government (read taxpayer) is being sued because it has not been removed from the sites, as promised. WIPP is for US defense related transuranic waste. WIPP is dangerously unfit for purpose. Only madmen-terrorists would add foreign nuclear waste on top of US waste. WIPP has been closed for over two years subsequent to a fire-explosion of plutonium waste, a “radiological event”.
Mining Awareness 2nd April 2016 read more »
The latest government statistics revealed that a quarter of all our power needs came from British sunshine, wind and rain last year. It’s a testament to our world class renewable resources that clean, green generation is now a major player in UK energy. We often come up against a perception that renewables play an insignificant role in powering the country, but these new stats demonstrate the lack of accuracy in this view. In fact, renewables are now the second biggest generator of electricity in the UK – just 5% behind gas and ahead of both coal and nuclear, which account for 23% and 21% respectively. Renewables reached 4% just a decade ago, so it’s grown by more than 20% in 10 years. We think that’s growth any economist would be impressed by. Scotland sourced 57.7% of its electricity from renewable sources last year, crushing its 50% target by some margin. This comes soon after the closure of the last coal plant in Scotland, marking a significant step in the move away from fossil fuels.
Good Energy 1st April 2016 read more »
Renewables – solar
Glasgow-based SPV Energy (a trading division of Solar PV Energy Solutions) has been awarded the title of ‘Solar PV Installer of the Year’ at the Scottish Regional Energy Efficiency & Retrofit Awards, part of the UK awards for the energy saving and efficiency sector. Commercial Director Jim O’Brien, a former Partner with St James’s Place Wealth Management, and partner John Gorman run the Shettleston based company which was responsible for the installation of 4000 Solar PV panels on the 700 sustainable energy homes at the Athletes Village in the city’s East End.
Scottish Energy News 4th April 2016 read more »
Renewables – Geothermal
The Scot-Govt. has published the independent scientific reports it commissioned on the prospects for four geo-thermal energy sites – just hours before parliament was dissolved for the Scottish general elections to Holyrood. Geo-thermal energy may be included in the next iteration of the Scottish Energy Strategy which Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has announced will open for consultation when the new parliamentary session opens in August.
Scottish Energy News 3rd April 2016 read more »
Renewables – Tidal
A new investment in Scotland is being hailed as a breakthrough in the attempt to attract funds into Britain’s nascent tidal power sector. Equitix, the infrastructure investor, plans to put more than £100m into Scottish tidal power over the next two years in partnership with Atlantis, a leading developer. The deal is a significant boost to Atlantis, which expects to begin generating electricity this summer from its MeyGen scheme in the Pentland Firth, billed as the world’s largest tidal stream project under construction. Tim Cornelius, Atlantis CEO, told the Financial Times that the deal with Equitix, which has more than £1.7bn funds under management, would help pave the way for other investors to get involved in the nascent UK tidal sector.
FT 4th April 2016 read more »
ENERGY minister Fergus Ewing has stepped up calls for the UK Government to meet a commitment to support the development of renewable power on Scotland’s islands. He accused the Conservatives of having an “ideological obsession” against renewable energy and said it was “scandalous” that major projects were being held up. On Saturday, The Herald revealed growing concerns within Scotland’s renewable sector that the Department for Energy and Climate Change was preparing to ditch promised subsidies needed to open up the islands to large-scale wind power generation. DECC insisted it remained committed to clearing the additional subsidies with the European Commission but refused to say whether it had begun the necessary formal processes. Without extra support, wind farm developments remain stuck in limbo because it is not economic for generating companies to install the transmission infrastructure required to export the power. Mr Ewing said: “It is frankly scandalous that jobs and investment in the islands are being jeopardised because of the Tories’ ideological obsession against renewable energy. “The SNP has consistently called upon the UK government to take necessary and swift action to ensure that the renewables ambition of Orkney and Shetland is realised in full. “And we have stood firmly behind Scotland’s renewables industry and set ambitious targets on carbon reduction which have received international acclaim.”
Herald 4th April 2016 read more »