Kepco seen as potential buyer for Toshiba’s ailing nuclear unit. When Toshiba won a fierce battle in 2006 for control of Westinghouse, a US designer of nuclear power plants, it was a victory against its local rival Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The two Japanese companies engaged in a bidding war that inflated the acquisition price of Westinghouse from $2bn to $5.4bn – a process that left other would-be buyers of the US company in shock, including South Korea’s Doosan Heavy Industries. A little more than a decade later, another Korean company – state-controlled Korea Electric Power Corporation – has emerged as a possible buyer for Westinghouse, which is reeling from large cost overruns on two US nuclear power plants. Moreover, Kepco may well be the only potential acquirer of Westinghouse that is acceptable to western countries, above all the US. Toshiba is suffering the worst financial crisis in its history because of Westinghouse’s troubles, and last month said it was willing to sell its controlling shareholding in the US company, as well as reduce its 60 per cent stake in a consortium called NuGen, which is planning to build a new nuclear plant in the UK. South Korea has ambitions to become a leading player in the global nuclear industry, and officials at the country’s energy ministry, and Kepco, are keen to secure work on new power plants following a drought in overseas deals since the company landed a breakthrough $20bn export deal in 2009 to supply the United Arab Emirates with four reactors. Kepco has been in negotiations for months about investing in NuGen, according to people involved in the process, although the scale of the Korean company’s participation has not been finalised. The attraction of the UK, however, is clear: Britain has become an important market for the nuclear industry given that other countries, such as Germany, are phasing out reactors. “If Toshiba decided to sell all or some of its shares in Westinghouse the most likely buyer would be from South Korea,” says George Borovas, partner and global head of nuclear at Shearman & Sterling, the law firm. Noting Kepco’s interest in joining the NuGen consortium, Mr Borovas adds: “It is therefore possible that some kind of ‘package deal’ could be structured for a strategic Korean investment into Westinghouse and NuGen at the same time.”
FT 5th March 2017 read more »
[Machine Translation] The creation of a joint venture is planned for April and the operational launch for June. The objective is to reduce the interfaces to deliver the next EPR or develop a future reactor. Even before EDF finalizes the takeover of the Areva (formerly Areva NP) reactors and services division, scheduled for the second half of the year, the two groups will shortly be staying in a joint venture the plans to build the “nuclear islands” Nuclear power plant. Its mission will be to work on the project of the two Hinkley Point EPRs in Great Britain or on the future EPR (see below). The process of informing and consulting works councils began in January and the creation of Nice (Nuclear Island Common Engineering) “could be envisaged in April 2017,” say EDF and Areva documents. “The operational launch of Nice would be scheduled for June 2017,” they said.
Les Echos 3rd March 2017 read more »
A Suffolk peer has made calls for EDF Energy to build lasting homes, rather than temporary accommodation, for workers on the proposed Sizewell C plant.
East Anglian Daily Times 4th March 2017 read more »
The nuclear sector in the West has brought the current crisis partly upon itself by doing the exact opposite of what is known to work in industry, writes Michael Shellenberger. To survive, it must embark on a radical new course: create one company, comparable to Boeing or Airbus in the aircraft sector, that will develop a standardized, efficient reactor design. At the same time, governments should work together to increase confidence in the future of nuclear power. The UK has a key role to play: it should scrap all its existing plans and start from a blank piece of paper.
Energy Post 27th Feb 2017 read more »
Are those who operate Norway’s only nuclear research reactor taking its safety seriously? A new report raises concerns. October 25th brought reports that there was a release of radioactive iodine from the Halden Reactor. The Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority subsequently withdrew the reactor’s operating license from the Institute for Energy Technology. The NRPA has pointed out several issues the institute must resolve before the reactor goes back online.
Bellona 3rd March 2017 read more »
Yet again, an expert – this time, a German – has announced that Germany’s energy transition cannot succeed. He has a surprising insight for Energiewende proponents: the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. How could we have missed that, wonders award-winning energy author Craig Morris? Courtesy Energy Transition/Global Energiewende. German economist Heiner Flassbeck recently argued that Germany will never be able to rely on renewable electricity. His central argument is that the month of December up to the date of the original publication (20 December) shows that Germany’s energy transition is doomed to fail. He certainly puts his finger on the main challenge, yes. The problem with his analysis is that he acts as though there are no solutions – indeed, as though no one had even looked for any.
Renew Economy 6th March 2017 read more »
Renewables – Scotland
Wind turbines generated enough energy to cover two-thirds of Scotland’s total electricity consumption last month, according to figures. WWF Scotland described the WeatherEnergy data as “amazing progress” and urged politicians to maximise renewable opportunities. Figures show that Scotland’s total electricity consumption from homes, business and industry in February was 1,984,765 MWh. Wind turbines contributed 1,331,420 MWh of electricity to the National Grid over the same time, enough to supply the average needs of all Scottish homes and up 43 per cent on February 2016, when wind energy provided 929,417 MWh.
Scotsman 6th March 2017 read more »
A CALL for the UK Goverment to reverse its “deeply damaging” energy policy has been made on the back of new figures that show a huge surge in Scotland’s windpower output. The data reveals that wind power output jumped by over two-fifths compared with the same period last year and generated more than Scotland’s total electricity needs on four separate days. The figures come hard on the heels of a warning that one in six jobs in the Scottish renewable energy sector is expected to be lost in the next year. The predicted drop has been blamed on the closures of support schemes for renewables by the UK Government. The SNP has now urged the Chancellor to use Wednesday’s Budget to secure the renewables sector.
The National 6th March 2017 read more »
Despairing over what’s become of large swathes of the rural Scottish landscape has brought me a lot of friends. Up in Sutherland, our own “No More Windfarms” group, established to protest, as we put it in our campaign literature, “yet another wind turbine development in this part of the Highlands”, gifted me with a great number of letters and emails of support – from handwritten cards to links to blogs and related sites. One of my ex-pupils at Dundee, where I teach, started up her own campaign in Perthshire when she realised she was starting to feel “hemmed in” as she put it, by the giant turbines that were predating upon the land all around the base of the Cairngorms, and realised then how many in her community felt the same way.
Scotsman 6th March 2017 read more »
Renewables – tidal
Developers of the world’s largest tidal stream energy plant have set out ambitious plans to slash its power generation costs by more than half in an attempt to secure subsidies for the project to continue. Atlantis Resources has installed four turbines on the seabed between the northern Scottish mainland and the island of Stroma. It hopes to expand the project, known as Meygen, eventually to build 260 such machines, which it likens to “underwater windmills”, harnessing some of the fastest-flowing waters in Britain to generate up to 398 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 175,000 homes. Meanwhile a project to test new floating wind farm technology off the coast of Scotland faces a race against time to win planning consent before the subsidy scheme it requires is scrapped. The Dounreay Tri development would involve two five-megawatt turbines being attached to a floating, semi-submersible rig anchored to the seabed near Thurso. To proceed, it needs planning permission from Scottish ministers in time to qualify for the renewables obligation subsidy scheme, which shuts at midnight on March 31. The scheme would offer it subsidies worth about £140 per megawatt-hour on top of the market price.
Times 6th March 2017 read more »
The headquarters of CATL, China’s fastest growing battery maker, lie on the edge of the city of Ningde, a stone’s throw from ponds where farmers raise carp and a street of cheap noodle restaurants and vehicle repair shops frequented by migrant workers. Inside the vast factory, battery parts move silently on automated conveyor belts. Signs on the walls encourage workers not to waste materials or time, or indulge in “unnecessary bending” for their own safety. The plant looks like lots of others dotted across the country. But with a valuation of $11.5bn, Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd, to give it its full name, is anything but mundane. It is set to become China’s Panasonic – a national champion – and a key part of Beijing’s ambitious plan to re make the global battery market and exploit rising demand for electric cars.
FT 5th March 2017 read more »
Tesla Motors Inc. is making a huge bet that millions of small batteries can be strung together to help kick fossil fuels off the grid. The idea is a powerful one—one that’s been used to help justify the company’s $5 billion factory near Reno, Nev.—but batteries have so far only appeared in a handful of true, grid-scale pilot projects. That changes this week. Three massive battery storage plants—built by Tesla, AES Corp., and Altagas Ltd.—are all officially going live in southern California at about the same time. Any one of these projects would have been the largest battery storage facility ever built. Combined, they amount to 15 percent of the battery storage installed planet-wide last year.
Bloomberg 30th Jan 2017 read more »
World leader Electrochaea announced it had obtained EU patents for the selectively-bred archaea microbes it uses to eat hydrogen and CO2 to make methane for the gas grid. The hydrogen comes from electrolysis using surplus or curtailed electricity while the CO2 can either come from biogas or flue gases. The company claimed that rapid expansion is now possible and that ‘gigawatt scale plants are feasible by 2025’. If Electrochaea’s technology continues to work well it will provide one of the central pillars of world decarbonisation.
Carbon Commentary 5th March 2017 read more »
Carbon Brief analysis shows the UK’s CO2 emissions fell by 5.8% in 2016, after a record 52% drop in coal use. The reduction would leave UK CO2 emissions some 36% below 1990 levels. The huge fall in CO2 from coal use in 2016 was partially offset by increased emissions from oil (up 1.6%) and gas (up 12.5%). These findings are based on Carbon Brief analysis of Department of Energy, Business and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) energy use figures. This analysis has proven to be accurate in previous years (see below). The department will publish its own CO2 estimates on 30 March.
Carbon Brief 6th March 2017 read more »
Carbon emissions in the UK have fallen to levels barely seen since the latter days of Queen Victoria after a collapse in the use of coal, new figures show. Consumption of coal sank by a record 52 per cent in 2016 from the previous year as use of the fuel was pummelled by cheaper gas, higher domestic carbon prices, the spread of renewables and other environmental policies.
FT 6th March 2017 read more »