Taxpayers may still have to guarantee up to £2 billion in cheap loans for the Hinkley Point nuclear plant despite ministerial promises to the contrary, it has been claimed. The original plan for the exchequer to underwrite loans to build the power station in Somerset was announced by George Osborne when he was chancellor in 2015. EDF had sought the government guarantee to help to ensure that the project had access to finance. Last September ministers suggested that it was no longer needed after Theresa May’s “pause” of the nuclear deal. At the time Greg Clark, the business secretary, told the Commons: “EDF has confirmed to me that it will not be taking up that £2 billion guarantee, so the taxpayer is fully insulated from the costs of construction.” A letter from EDF in September said that it did not “anticipate” using the guarantee. However, subsequent government statements suggest the possibility that it will remain on the books. In a written answer to MPs and peers in October, ministers said: “The government is confirming that it has approved the provision of a guarantee for up to £2 billion to the project for the construction of its new EPR nuclear plant in Somerset, backed by commitments from the shareholders.” In their answer in October ministers continued: “The guarantee will be available from 2018 to 2020 if necessary conditions are met and is at government’s discretion. Even if made available, and EDF have indicated to the secretary of state for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy that it is not their current intention to take up the guarantee, I judge the likelihood of any call under the guarantee to be very low.” Labour cr iticised the development yesterday. Barry Gardiner, the shadow international trade minister, said: “The assurance that Greg Clark gave me was categoric: EDF were not taking up the guarantee. Whilst I took him at his word, it appears that the Treasury were aware the secretary of state was suffering from baroque speech. That is why the guarantee is still marked as a liability on their books.”
Times 5th Jan 2017 read more »
EDF buys its reactors from Areva and was browbeaten into taking a majority stake in the reactor-making subsidiary last year. Areva’s problems affect how soon EDF can complete one of its two delayed nuclear units, Flamanville in France. Investigating alleged false documentation, described by one Areva executive as “more of a cultural” than a technical problem, could push Flamanville’s start up beyond 2020. That in turn would be more bad news for Hinkley Point C in the UK. EDF’s plans for this partly depend on £2bn of financing from the UK government. To take this funding and get any more there is a condition: Flamanville must be operational by end 2020 at the latest, according to an agreement with the European Commission over state aid. This last point raises questions as to whether EDF could complete Hinkley without the aid; and if not whether the UK can do without Hinkley Point’s generation capacity. The answer to the latter depends on other nuclear projects elsewhere in Britain. There are two. One in Cumbria has plenty of its own complications and involves Japan’s Toshiba, itself in financial turmoil. Another, in Wales, involves Japanese industrial Hitachi for which the UK government h as decided it will provide funding. All this comes as offshore wind progressively looks cheaper to run, even with all the subsidies, than Hinkley ever will.
FT 4th Jan 2017 read more »
A government-led rescue of French nuclear group Areva and the wider atomic energy industry may cost the state as much as 10 billion euros ($10.45 billion), but political support is almost certain whoever wins the presidential election in May. While taxpayers will ultimately pick up the huge bill, the main election contenders – from the Socialists and conservatives to the far-right National Front – broadly back the bailout, which involves splitting up Areva. On top of its dire financial state, Areva is beset by technical, regulatory and legal problems. But given its importance to a nuclear industry that generates three quarters of France’s electricity and employs 220,000 people, the next government probably has little choice but to stand by the scheme hatched under outgoing Socialist President Francois Hollande.
Reuters 4th Jan 2017 read more »
The Sizewell consultation document places a great deal of emphasise on the job opportunities the power station could provide. Edf has been severely criticised by representatives of its own workforce who are wary of going ahead with Hinkley given the financial difficulties the company faces. On July 28, EDF’s board voted 10 to 7 to proceed with the project. All six staff representatives and one other board member voted against, while one board member resigned in protest against EDF’s strategy. In August 2016 worker representatives on the board filed a challenge to overturn the company’s controversial decision to build the reactors. They protested against the participation of several directors “with conflicts of interests”, claiming that some of the EDF board members who voted in favour of Hinkley Point represent companies that are EDF customers and could benefit from the UK contract.
Peter Lux 4th Jan 2016 read more »
As we begin a new year of campaigning against nuclear in general, and Sizewell in particular, it is worth looking back brieﬂy over the past months, which has chronicled some of the worst possible concerns about the integrity of the nuclear industry. As you are aware, Electricitie de France (EdF) owns all the British operating nuclear reactors and in 2016 was awarded, in partnership With China General Nuclear Power, two new reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset at a cost of upwards of £18bn. This despite EdF having major operational problems, ﬁnancial instability, delays, over-runs, safety concerns, alleged false accounting, anti-competitive practice and huge ongoing legal battles. In July 2016, its sister company: Areva, suffered spiraling debts, tippled towards bankruptcy and it was alleged that important documents had been falsiﬁed. The ailing EdF stepped into offer 2.5billion Euros to purchase Areva’s reactor construction business, the division that will build Hinkley C.
Shut Down Sizewell 4th Jan 2017 read more »
Leiston-cum-Sizewell Town Council will be giving its views on the stage two consultation for Sizewell C – examining the main issues which will affect the town and its area for years to come. Town councillors met with residents last month at a special meeting to hear their concerns, when EDF officials were also on hand to explain the progress of the project and answer questions. The town council is broadly in favour of Sizewell C but wants to ensure the best deal for the town and “to ensure that the lessons of the past are learned from and not repeated”. Councillors have expressed a range of concerns, with the main worry being the siting of the accommodation campus for 2,400 workers at nearby Eastbridge.
East Anglian Daily Times 4th Jan 2017 read more »
NUGEN says it “remains committed” to plans for a nuclear power station in Cumbria, despite the crisis affecting its majority shareholder Toshiba. Forty per cent was wiped off the Japanese company’s value in the last week of 2016 after it said that its US subsidiary, Westinghouse Electric, may have overpaid by several billions of dollars for another nuclear construction and services business. To compound matters, the company is embroiled in an accounting scandal.
In Cumbria 5th Jan 2017 read more »
A legacy of lies and covered-up accidents has left nuclear energy with a serious credibility gap, writes Paul Brown. But poor safety is only the beginning of the industry’s problems. With ‘new improved’ reactor designs all running late and way over budget, any nuclear revival can only be sustained at massive, unaffordable taxpayer cost.
Ecologist 4th Jan 2016 read more »
As 2017 begins, the Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) note that whilst the new nuclear and fossil fuel sectors remain in real difficulties, it is renewable energy that is moving forward across the UK, despite antagonistic policies against renewables from the UK Government. In the nuclear sector, financial and other pressures mount on the three companies that are seeking to build new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point, Sellafield Moorside and Wylfa. At the same time, figures show a record number of oil and gas companies went into insolvency last year. Meanwhile, renewables are contributing record figures to UK energy generation.
NFLA 4th Jan 2017 read more »
Energy Policy – Scotland
Scotland is producing greener electricity than the rest of the UK, figures from campaign group WWF Scotland suggest. Its analysis of most recent figures, covering the 2014 year, suggest electricity generated in Scotland resulted in 196 grammes of carbon dioxide (CO2) produced per kilowatt hour (kWH) of energy generated compared with 400 grammes for the UK as a whole. WWF Scotland said the climate change impact of electricity production in Scotland also dropped by almost two-fifths (38 per cent) between 2010 and 2014 compared with a 12 per cent drop reported for the UK as a whole in the same period. Fabrice Leveque, climate and energy policy officer at WWF Scotland, said: “Thanks to the Scottish Government’s leadership on renewables policy, the climate change impact of producing electricity in Scotland has fallen rapidly and is now half that of the whole of the UK. “The transformation in the way we produce our power is helping Scotland harness the many economic and social benefits of shifting to a zero-carbon future.” WWF Scotland has called on the Scottish Government to widen its renewables targets to include all energy needs.
Daily Record 4th Jan 2017 read more »
Scotsman 4th Jan 2017 read more »
Edie 4th Jan 2017 read more »
Scotland has broken two new solar energy milestones. The country has been praised for installing more than 200MW of solar capacity and for being home to 50,000 different arrays, according to new statistics from WWF Scotland and the Solar Trade Association (STA) Scotland. Around 49,000 of the locations are households, with the remainder of panels installed at businesses. Almost 200 community-led solar schemes also now exist in Scotland, providing 2MW of green energy. Although the country saw solar energy grow by 30MW to 209MW (17%) last year, it was still the smallest year-on-year increase since 2011.
Energy Live News 3rd Jan 2017 read more »
Japan’s Yukiya Amano is set to be re-elected unopposed as head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, a diplomatic source said Tuesday. With no opposition apparently being voiced against his re-election, the 69-year-old Japanese is expected to stay on as the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency for another four years from December, subject to approval by the IAEA board of governors in March and a general assembly meeting in September.
Japan Times 4th Jan 2017 read more »
An arrangement with the leading insurance company in France helps with the goal of doubling wind power capacity in the country, French power group ENGIE said. The French company said it build up its partnership with Crédit Agricole Assurances, the leading insurer, by absorbing the onshore wind power portfolio held by Maia Eolis. ENGIE completed an acquisition of Maia Eolis, which specialized in wind farm construction and development, in May. “Under the agreement, the wind farms operated by Maia Eolis, representing total installed capacity of 267 megawatts, will be transferred to FEIH, the joint venture established by ENGIE and Crédit Agricole Assurances,” the companies explained. ENGIE counts an installed wind power capacity of more than 1,700 MW in France. The French power company said its relationship with the insurer will help with its balance sheet and, as a result, strengthen its regional footing in the wind power sector. France has a goal of using renewable energy to satisfy about a quarter of its energy consumption through renewable energy by the end of the decade and establish itself as a regional leader in wind power technology.
UPI 3rd Jan 2017 read more »
Peter Bradford: Instead of having political leaders and regulators make pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey-type guesstimates of how much nuclear power we’ll need, how long we’ll need it, and how much we should pay for it, we should adjust our power markets to procure the needed low-carbon electricity. Beyond that, we can regulate emission results where necessary. We should minimize mandating the continued use of existing power plants. Instead, our power markets can prioritize low-carbon technology, just as they have proven themselves capable of doing with reliability and demand response. In the many large states where power is sold through competitive markets and nuclear reactors must compete with other types of generators (and with energy efficiency and storage combinations), some reactors can no longer make a profit. Although they made higher profits than their regulated brethren in the years when market prices were high, those profits have long since been paid as dividends, reinvested, or paid as property taxes to fortunate host communities. Without the threat of climate change, there would be scant reason to prop these reactors up any longer. But does climate change really justify the support now being demanded by the nuclear industry – successfully in New York and Illinois and fervently in Ohio – with more states soon to come? Actually, no. The fate of a few endangered reactors in a handful of states means almost nothing in terms of solving the problem of global climate change. The entire 99-member US reactor fleet represents something like 1% of the low-carbon energy necessary to stabilize the climate by midcentury if it replaces the average US mix of coal-and gas-fired power. Replacing a dozen uneconomic reactors mostly with natural gas during the early years of a transition to a low-carbon economy is a long way from the apocalyptic carbon debacle that the nuclear industry laments. And to the extent that the reactors are replaced by efficiency and renewables, the climate impact is nil. Polar bears on shrinking Arctic ice floes and Pacific islanders with vanishing homes must regard these fervid and time-consuming US state debates with exasperation.
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 12th January 2017 read more »
Russian nuclear fuel manufacturer TVEL has signed a contract with the China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIEA) for the supply of fuel to the Chinese Experimental Fast Reactor (CEFR).
World Nuclear News 4th Jan 2017 read more »
Solar and wind is now either the same price or cheaper than new fossil fuel capacity in more than 30 countries, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum. The influential foundation has described the change as a “tipping point” that could make fighting climate change into a profitable form of business for energy companies. But investors and energy firms are still failing to put money into such green solutions despite the fact that they are cheaper than more traditional forms of electricity generation, according to the same report. “Renewable energy has reached a tipping point – it now constitutes the best chance to reverse global warming,” said Michael Drexler, Head of Long Term Investing, Infrastructure and Development at the World Economic Forum. “Solar and wind have just become very competitive, and costs continue to fall. It is not only a commercially viable option, but an outright compelling investment opportunity with long-term, stable, inflation-protected returns.” Just ten years ago, generating electricity through solar cost about $600 per MWh, and it cost only $100 to generate the same amount of power through coal and natural gas. But the price of renewable sources of power plunged quickly – today it only costs around $100 the generate the same amount of electricity through solar and $50 through wind. The cheap price of solar and wind energy is already encouraging companies to build more plants to harvest it. The US is adding about 125 solar panels every minute, according to the Solar Energy Industry Association and investment in renewables in 2015 rose to $286 billion, up 5 per cent from the year before. Even despite that cheap price, the investment isn’t enough to counteract the catastrophic effects of global warming. The worldwide investment is only 25 per cent of the $1 trillion goal set in the landmark Paris climate change accord, and because of political problems with investments it can’t be hard to convince companies to put their cash into green power.
Independent 4th Jan 2017 read more »
Solar power is now cheaper than coal in some parts of the world. In less than a decade, it’s likely to be the lowest-cost option almost everywhere.
Bloomberg 3rd Jan 2017 read more »
Investment in windfarms will fall off a “cliff edge” over the next three years and put the UK’s greenhouse gas reduction targets at risk, a think-tank has found. More than £1bn of future investment in renewable energy projects disappeared over the course of 2016, the Green Alliance found when it analysed the government’s latest pipeline of major infrastructure plans. Investment in wind, solar, biomass power and waste-to-energy projects will decline by 95% between 2017 and 2020, it added. While a slowdown in green energy investment had been expected after ministers cut several subsidy schemes over the last 18 months, the figures lay bare the dramatic extent of the decline. RenewableUK, which represents the wind power industry, said the government needed to set out its vision on energy to enable investor confidence. Emma Pinchbeck, the group’s executive director, said: “The energy sector is changing. The infrastructure pipeline shows that the private sector understands the smart money is on the renewables industry – that is why they are moving from high carbon assets to low carbon ones.” But the infrastructure pipeline showed the government had managed to cut £2bn from the cost of decommissioning old nuclear power plants. The think-tank said that was good news as it could free up money to spend on encouraging people to switch to lower carbon heating, which ministers have admitted is progressing slowly.
Guardian 4th Jan 2017 read more »
Health, housing, anti-poverty and environmental organisations have called for more public money to be spent on making Scotland’s homes energy efficient after a new poll found there was overwhelming backing for more investment to tackle fuel poverty. A survey commissioned by WWF Scotland revealed that 69 per cent of Scots support more public investment in energy efficiency and 87 per cent want to see an end to cold homes in Scotland within a decade. The charity said the findings send a clear message to the Scottish Government that investment must be stepped up to ensure no-one is living in a cold, difficult to heat home. The environmental group is calling for funding for energy efficiency to be increased to £190 million with a total of £4.5 billion of public funds being spent between now and 2025, through subsidised loans, grants for the fuel-poor and other schemes.
Scottish Housing News 4th Jan 2017 read more »