Former Electricite de France SA Chief Financial Officer Thomas Piquemal said he quit two months ago to highlight the risks of proceeding with the 18 billion-pound ($26 billion) Hinkley Point nuclear power project without additional financing. The timetable pushed by EDF Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jean-Bernard Levy for an investment decision on the U.K. project meant there wouldn’t have been time to strengthen the utility’s balance sheet, Piquemal told a hearing at the National Assembly in Paris. That would have left the company reliant on its 85 percent shareholder, the French state, providing funding and threatened EDF with the same fate as troubled nuclear-reactor builder Areva SA, he said. Speculation has mounted over the future of Hinkley Point since Piquemal resigned amid concerns the project would put EDF under too much financial strain, while labor unions have called for a three-year delay until similar nuclear plants built by the company start operating in France and China. Piquemal said he unsuccessfully requested a three-year delay in the project in 2015 because a U.K. government loan guarantee to help finance Hinkley Point would only be available after a similar plant is completed in Flamanville, France. Levy and Macron have said EDF would risk losing the Hinkley Point project that’s critical to both the utility and Areva if they asked for such a delay. Areva, 87 percent owned by the French state, posted a fifth year of losses in 2015.
Bloomberg 4th May 2016 read more »
EDF’s former chief financial officer urged to utility to delay a final investment decision on building Britain’s Hinkley Point nuclear plant by at least three years, he told France’s parliament on Wednesday. “In January 2015, I proposed to chief executive Jean-Bernard Levy to negotiate a three-year delay with our client because we reasoned that the weight of the project on EDF’s balance sheet would be significant,” former CFO Thomas Piquemal said at a parliament committee hearing. Piquemal said that hybrid debt – of which EDF has issued about 10 billion euros – is indeed more expensive than normal debt, but a lot cheaper than a capital increase and that if the company had not issued the hybrids it would have had to proceed to a capital increase. But he warned that EDF must do all it can to avoid a major credit rating downgrade by debt agencies. Piquemal said that if EDF’s credit rating is strongly downgraded, the hybrid debt will be downgraded to junk bond status, which would pose the problem of its future refinancing from 2020 onwards. “The company cannot afford a significant credit downgrade,” he said.
Reuters 4th May 2016 read more »
EDF’s former finance chief tried to persuade the French energy giant to postpone plans to build an £18 billion nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, Somerset, for at least three years, he told French MPs yesterday. Speaking publicly for the first time since his resignation in March after a boardroom row over the project, Thomas Piquemal said that he quit in desperation because he feared signing off a decision in which he did not believe and considered a threat to EDF’s financial stability. Areva’s problems deepened further this week after it emerged that the state-owned company was being investigated by ASN, the nuclear safety watchdog in France, because irregularities were found in 50 large components installed in French nuclear reactors. ASN said that the discovery of weak spots in the steel reactor vessel of the Flamanville plant had triggered a review of manufacturing procedures at Areva’s Creusot steel forging plant, which has built equipment for the French nuclear programme for decades. ASN has asked Areva to determine the potential impact on the safety of France’s 58 nuclear reactors that generate nearly 80 per cent of the nation’s electricity. Yesterday, Segolene Royal, the French energy minister, sought to damp public fears that up to 30 French reactors could contain faulty components. “I can tell you . . . that the initial results are good, that is to say the components meet regulations. It is the documents that were badly prepared,” Ms Royal said in an interview on RTL, the French radio station. Experts say the investigation of Areva may affect EDF’s willingness to launch a bailout because of the potential liabilities linked to the discovery of faulty components inside a reactor. A similar investigation in Japan led to the shutdown of 17 nuclear reactors.
Times 5th May 2016 read more »
Parts of the Sizewell B nuclear power station in Suffolk were made at a French plant being investigated over possible fake manufacturing records, EDF Energy has confirmed. EDF said components destined for the proposed Hinkley Point C plant were also made at the Areva-owned Le Creusot plant, where anomalies in documents related to 400 nuclear components have so far been identified. The revelations come as EDF’s former chief financial officer Thomas Piquemal, broke his silence to explain his fears over the Hinkley project that led to his resignation in March. Mr Piquemal said he had sought a three-year delay to Hinkley as he was not prepared to “bet 60 to 70pc of [EDF’S] equity on a technology that has not yet proven that it can work and which takes 10 years to build”.
Telegraph 4th May 2016 read more »
What are these architects on? Talking about Moorside, a de-luxe henhouse for contented hens in Moscow or a tattoo parlour in Zagreb? When architects start to wax lyrical about the design of NuGen’s Moorside project it becomes obvious that they should do their profession a major favour and stick to designing new hospitals, public toilets and strange shaped skyscrapers. In case you missed it, architects Scott Br…ownrigg recently published (28th April) their ‘Masterplan’ on the design of Moorside in the Architect’s Journal and on their website. And who exactly are these architects Scott Brownrigg ? It’s probably enough to know that whilst the firm has offices worldwide in places such as Moscow, Zagreb and Singapore, the nearest they get to a whiff of West Cumbria are the offices in Guilford and Aldershot in the leafy south. Not only that, the firm’s ‘visioning’ commission on Moorside, drawn up its Advanced Technologies arm is apparently headed by director Iain Macdonald who is described ‘as an expert in nuclear energy who has worked on the new European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) at Hinkley Point’. Enough said – the glowing testimonial says it all.
CORE 4th May 2016 read more »
A NUCLEAR power station operator has sought to allay fears over controversial plans to store more waste at Bradwell Power Station. Magnox has applied to Essex County Council to remove a planning condition barring it from storing waste removed from other power plants at Bradwell. Two community evening events were organised to update residents in Bradwell and Mersea on the plans. Around 30 people attended the Bradwell community evening last week. The intermediate level waste which will be stored at Bradwell typically consists of includes sludge, sand, gravel and metal.
Maldon Standard 3rd May 2016 read more »
Large infrastructure projects require a range of key features and sufficient risk management to attract financing, but a new nuclear project has to go further still to draw in potential backers, delegates at a recent conference in London heard.
World Nuclear News 4th May 2016 read more »
Major concern seems to be arising in the Caucasus. Mere days ago, Georgian authorities reported the arrest of an elderly Georgian man and several Armenian nationals — alarmingly suspected of being current or former members of the Armenian Security Service — who were attempting to smuggle and illegally sell some $200 million worth of nuclear-grade materials. The highly radioactive U-238 can be used to produce a myriad of deadly and destructive apparatuses, not the least of which is a dreaded “dirty bomb.” The specter of a dirty bomb is of paramount concern for security services and counterterrorism officials worldwide. Internationally, the deep alarm of officials associated with the discovery of U-238 was compounded earlier this year when a group of individuals was discovered attempting to smuggle Cesium-137, a highly radioactive isotope that is a waste product from nuclear reactors. Some of this material entered Georgia through the separatist Russia-annexed enclave of South Ossetia and was traced back to Russian facilities. This adds much credence to constant complaints by Georgia and Azerbaijan related to the fact that their territories under separatist control, such as Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and South Ossetia, are being used for all manner of illegal smuggling from nuclear material to arms to narcotics.
Washington Times 3rd May 2016 read more »
Energy Policy – Scotland
SCOTLAND’S next government must work with industry to develop a clear framework for investment in renewable energy, the All-Energy 2016 event heard yesterday. “Whoever makes-up the new government here in Scotland on Friday, I hope that they will work with us and the UK government to find common ground and a way forward for renewables,” said Keith Anderson, chief corporate officer of ScottishPower. “Yes, we need more flexibility from Westminster to allow the continued development of onshore wind,” he continued. “That doesn’t mean asking for subsidy and it can’t involve trying to embarrass the government into backing down from existing statements or policy. But it does require us to work with them to find a way of creating some clarity and framework for investment.” Mr Anderson also called for action on energy storage, noting that 50,000 megawatt hours of electricity – enough to power 12,500 homes for a year – was shut down from wind farms over the UK’s Easter weekend because there was nowhere to store it. Sir Jim McDonald, principal and vice chancellor at the University of Strathclyde and co-chair of the Scottish Government’s Scottish Energy Advisory Board – a collaboration between government and industry to develop energy strategy – said 2015 had been a “troubling” year as the UK government undid a raft of renewable policies.
Herald 5th May 2016 read more »
The armies of Pakistan and India are practicing for nuclear war on the battlefield: Pakistan is rehearsing the use of nuclear weapons, while India trains to fight on despite such use and subsequently escalate. What were once mere ideas and scenarios dreamed up by hawkish military planners and nuclear strategists have become starkly visible capabilities and commitments. When the time comes, policy makers and people on both sides will expect—and perhaps demand—that the Bomb be used.
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 4th May 2016 read more »
At 01:23 on 26th April 1986 an experiment was started at reactor number 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant (NPP) in northern Ukraine (then part of the USSR). The purpose of the experiment was to investigate reactor safety in the event of failure of the main electricity supply to the plant. Less than a minute after the start of the experiment there was a steam explosion which blew the lid off the reactor and resulted in the largest accidental release of radioactivity into the environment in the history of nuclear power production. The exposed reactor core continued to burn for approximately 10 days with continued releases of radioactivity to the atmosphere over this period. The Chernobyl accident led to a large resurgence in radioecological studies both to aid remediation and to be able to make future predictions on the post-accident situation, but, also in recognition that more knowledge was required for future accidents. In this on-line virtual special issue we have selected 30 (in our opinion) key papers published in the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity. Whilst necessarily excluding many important papers, in our view, the papers selected cover a number of key radioecological questions with a focus on advances made by research conducted following the Chernobyl accident. The areas we identified as being significantly advanced following Chernobyl were: the importance of semi-natural ecosystems in dose formation; the characterisation and environmental behaviour of hot particles; the development and application of countermeasures; the “fixation” and long term bioavailability of radiocaesium and; the effects of radiation on plants and animals.
Elsevier (accessed) 5th May 2016 read more »
If there’s one country that could disprove the old joke among engineers about nuclear power — that nothing can compete with a paper reactor — it may be China. Nuclear power is enjoying a theoretical renaissance in the United States, with researchers advancing a new generation of inherently safe designs and with start-up companies attracting venture capital. But so far, only China has shown the kind of long-term, strategic thinking that would be required to launch a real nuclear revival.
Nature 4th May 2016 read more »
While the world is distracted by bathrooms, celebrity gossip, and Beiber’s new haircut, the world is having MAJOR issues that need attention and cooperation to prevent us sleep walking into preventable catastrophes. Below are just SOME. According to a Missouri emergency plan a fire at the Bridgeton Landfill is closing in on a nuclear waste dump. The fire has been burning uncontrolled for over five years. Clouds of smoke drift into St. Louis leaving it heavily polluted. In December of last year, the EPA said they would install a physical barrier to isolate the nuclear waste, but it could take up to a year to build. A study by Miami-Dade County concluded that the area’s 40 year old nuclear power plants at Turkey Point are leaking into Biscayne Bay. This damage is polluting the bay’s surface waters and it’s fragile ecosystem. Recently bay waters near the plant have had a large plume slowly moving towards water wells several miles away that supply clean water to millions of people in Florida. Indian Point nuclear power plant in New York. At this site, there’s been an uncontrollable radioactive flow leaking into the groundwater which leads into the Hudson River, only 25 miles from New York City. The tritium leak is the ninth in just the past year. Thyroid cancer registered the biggest increase, going from 13 percent below the national average to 51 percent above. But apparently things like this don’t make the news anymore, only celebrity gossip, and political distractions.
Anonymous 3rd May 2016 read more »
The international ITER project to build a prototype nuclear fusion reactor will be delayed by more than a decade and faces another 4 billion euros of cost overruns, its director told French daily Les Echos. ITER chief Bernard Bigot said the experimental fusion reactor under construction in Cadarache, France, will not see the first test of its super-heated plasma before 2025 and its first full-power fusion not before 2035. “The previous planning, which foresaw first plasma by 2020 and full fusion by 2023, was totally unrealistic,” said Bigot, who succeeded Japan’s Osamu Motojima at the head of ITER early last year. The new delay will add 4 billion euros of cost overruns to the 14 to 15 billion euros estimated so far. The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project’s seven partners – Europe, United States, China, India, Japan, Russia and South Korea – launched it 10 years ago with a cost estimated at 5 billion euros.
Reuters 2nd May 2016 read more »
Fife-based energy consultancy Everoze has launched its LEAF (Life Extension Assessment Framework) to help project owners make better decisions about the future of renewables assets and portfolios as they reach maturity. Everoze partner, Joe Phillips explained: “It’s not simply a choice between life extension, repowering and decommissioning. “There are a myriad of options across this spectrum, some of which challenge renewables assets and their owners to adopt very different operational or business models. “We’ve been surprised about the level of appetite and the economic case for adding solar or storage capacity to existing wind farms, for example. The lifetime IRR improvement comparing existing and rebooted assets can be well in excess of 0.5%.” Fellow partner, Colin Morgan added “The most valuable thing about an asset might not be the turbines or modules, but rather hard-won local stakeholder relationships and access to a firm grid connection.
Scottish Energy News 5th May 2016 read more »
Solar energy has eclipsed onshore wind energy in England, while Scotland devoured the lion’s share of new renewables investment across the UK in 2015, according to the latest annual Energy Entrepreneurs report. The report, published by London-based Smartest Energy, shows that independent generators invested over £376 million in more than 1,000 commercial-scale renewable projects in 2015, adding 2.4GW of new capacity. Consequently, these energy entrepreneurs now supply 7.6% of UK power demand with clean electricity. Last year 5,467 projects developed outside the traditional electricity supply sector generated more than £1 billion of electricity – enough to power more than 6.2 million households.
Scottish Energy News 5th May 2016 read more »
Renewables – Tidal
“In the same way Denmark is widely credited with pioneering the offshore wind industry – and reaping the benefits – Britain has the opportunity to own tidal power from a manufacturing, IP, supply chain and know-how perspective. We cannot allow this opportunity to be wasted.” That was the crystal-clear challenge – and warning – to the Scottish renewable sector and the Holyrood and Westminster governments by Tim Cornelius, Chief Executive of tidal-energy colossus Atlantis Resources last night.
Scottish Energy News 5th May 2016 read more »
Renewables – wind
Amidst the all-too prevalent gloom pervading the post-subsidy British and Scottish renewable energy sector, a possible Scottish silver lining has appeared amongst the clouds in the shape of a prospective home-grown turbine blade manufacturer and developer. Edinburgh-based ACT Blade is being invited to present in a number of ‘green Dragon’s Den events in Glasgow and Edinburgh after revealing that is has developed the formula for a wind-turbine blade which it claims is: 50% Lighter; 30% Stronger and which can Deliver a 9% reduction in cost of energy from its patent-pending new 4-metre blades.
Scottish Energy News 5th May 2016 read more »
Sainsbury’s has cast doubt on the UK’s ability to keep the lights on, revealing it has built a string of new power plants for its supermarkets in part due to fears of a looming energy crunch. Paul Crewe, a senior executive at the supermarket giant, said he had sleepless nights over energy security and feared UK electricity demand could soon outstrip supply. The new gas-fired power generators – already supplying electricity for 10 supermarkets, and due to be built at a further six this year – would enable the stores to keep trading even in the event of a blackout, he said. “It gives us energy security,” Mr Crewe said. “Energy security is extremely important, it keeps me awake at night if I’m honest thinking about it – especially as we use just under one per cent of power in the UK. We know UK grid infrastruct ure is at an extremely stretching period of time.” He raised concerns about the UK being “reliant on interconnectors from Europe and gas from the Baltic and Russia”. “Having the ability to generate our own power at a local level gives us surety of supply at these locations as the availability of electricity becomes more stretched across the national grid infrastructure, with demand potentially outstripping supply in the near future,” he said. Mr Crewe, head of sustainability at Sainsbury’s, said the new generators, which produce both heat and power, would be profitable and also formed part of its strategy to go green by generating energy from leftover food waste. Sainsbury’s sends inedible food waste that cannot be used for human or animal consumption to anaerobic digestion plants where it is turned into ‘biogas’. This is fed into the national gas grid and the supermarket giant then buys an equivalent amount of gas back out of the grid for use in its new power plants.
Telegraph 4th May 2016 read more »
Ineos is set to start a seismic survey of potential shale gas deposits, as it fires the starting gun on a major British fracking drive. Gary Haywood, chief executive of Ineos Upstream – an arm of the petrochemicals giant dedicated to building a British shale gas business – said that the seismic survey would help it to determine if commercial resources existed on licences it acquired last year in a string of promising areas of northern England.
Times 5th May 2016 read more »
Twenty Conservative MPs have written to the prime minister urging him to accept the steep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions required by the UK’s ‘fifth carbon budget’. On the eve of local elections in several regions, and the poll for the next London mayor, the MPs have made a strong statement that climate change is a problem that cannot wait. The 20 backbench Tory MPs include former fisheries minister Richard Benyon, chair of the health select committee Sarah Wollaston, former under-secretary of state for health Daniel Poulter, and member of the environmental audit committee Rebecca Pow.
Guardian 5th May 2016 read more »