Mike Weatherley MP (Conservative Hove): On the day of a Backbench Business Committee debate on nuclear subsidy he sets out why he opposes further taxpayer support to this sector. As someone who has witnessed firsthand the long lasting devastation of nuclear accidents at Chernobyl (where signs of contamination remain to this day even in Cumbria from a disaster that struck 25 years ago and 1,200 miles away), I know that we must not pursue any new nuclear, let alone break our Coalition Agreement commitment not to subsidize it. Today’s Backbench Business Committee debate highlights that negotiations are underway between DECC and new nuclear supplier EDF to guarantee a set price for nuclear energy (“the strike price”). This ‘subsidy by any other name’ shifts the notoriously high economic risk from nuclear corporations to the consumer and will be presented to Parliament as a non-reviewable contact that is likely to be binding for decades. This outrageous deal, forged behind closed doors, directly contravenes our Coalition commitment and wholly pre-empts the current Energy Market Reform legislation and the proper democratic process of Parliamentary scrutiny. Today’s backbench call is for pause while the Public Accounts Committee examines whether this deal would represent value for money – bearing in mind their findings last week detailing the huge decommissioning failures at Sellafield where the cleanup will take 120 years and cost £100bn – twice the original estimate and equivalent to our entire Health budget last year.
Politics Home 7th Feb 2013
The delicate nature of the long-running negotiations between the government and EDF over plans for a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point have been highlighted, after the boss of the utility warned the company will not proceed with the project without the right level of support. Speaking to news agency Bloomberg, EDF chief executive Henri Proglio said the company would walk away from its plans for a new UK nuclear reactor if the government does not deliver an adequate guaranteed price for the power generated through the planned contract for difference mechanism. “I have no reason to take the pressure off the people I’m talking to,” he said of the negotiations, adding, “I won’t qualify myself as confident, but rather conscious that an agreement can be reached”.
Business Green 6th Feb 2013
Prof Steven Thomas: Nuclear power can only survive if it’s competitive with alternatives. Even with China in the market, that’s unlikely.While China is by far the most important market worldwide for nuclear-power plants, nuclear is not important to China and even if it continued to build large numbers of reactors, nuclear power would still supply less than 10% of China’s electricity. The hope from Areva and Westinghouse that China would be a showcase is now fading. Ultimately, nuclear power can only survive if it is competitive with the alternatives. Unless the trend of sharply rising real costs can be reversed, this will not be the case. Financiers are reluctant to finance new nuclear plants unless the costs of any problems could be passed on to electricity consumers because of nuclear power’s poor track record. At worst, this will make new nuclear projects impossible to finance. At best, it will make the cost of borrowing high, pushing the cost of nuclear power even higher.
China Dialogue 6th Feb 2013
It’s being called a ‘triple whammy’ for the UK nuclear industry. And with what’s on the horizon – it’s beginning to look more like a quadruple or quintuple whammy. More dark clouds are gathering. Further whammies lie ahead. Whammy #4: Largely unnoticed, a few weeks ago the chief executive of French nuclear giant EdF, Vincent de Rivaz, told a committee of UK politicians that if EdF builds new nuclear reactors in the UK, it wants to be paid whether the electricity is used or not. “If a power station is available to generate electricity, its operator should not suffer financially because a policy or system decision is made that its electricity is not needed,” he said. Whammy #5: On top of that, EdF wants a guaranteed price for the electricity its new reactors would produce. Indeed, the company says it will pull out all together unless it is guaranteed profits.
Greenpeace 6th Feb 2013
Householders should guarantee the nuclear industry a profit through their electricity bills to safeguard the future of Britain’s precarious energy supply, a senior Conservative says. Tim Yeo, the chairman of the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee, said that companies now needed to be sure that they would make a profit for investing in a vital new generation of nuclear power plants amid signs that they were not now willing to finance them. His intervention came as the head of the French energy giant EDF, which is trying to drum up interest in its plan to build Britain’s first nuclear reactors for decades, said that his company would not build them unless it were handed a high enough price for the power they produced. Centrica, the owners of British Gas, pulled out of a deal to help EDF to finance the project this week amid growing costs and delays. It had already invested £200 million in the venture. Mr Yeo added that the time had come for the Government to go even farther and guarantee profits for the companies building the plants. He said it was not too onerous to ask consumers to pay for the profit guarantee through their energy bills.
Times 6th Feb 2013
On February 7th a motion tabled by a cross party group of MPs questioning subsidies for new nuclear power stations is to be debated in the House of Commons. Please send an urgent message to your MP to urge them to support the motion! The motion reads: That this House notes that both the Coalition Agreement, and numerous ministerial statements, have committed the Government to provide “no public subsidy” to new nuclear; further notes that negotiations are currently ongoing between DECC and new nuclear suppliers to fix the strike price in advance of the legislation on Energy Market Reform; is concerned by wider issues of subsidy and transparency and in particular that this process pre-empts the legislation; is further concerned that new evidence suggests that this constitutes an unjustifiable subsidy to a mature industry; therefore calls on the Government to pause the process while the Public Accounts Committee examines whether the Contract for Difference being offered to new nuclear power generation offers genuine value for money.Proposed by: Martin Horwood, Mike Weatherley, Caroline Lucas, Martin Caton, Andrew Stunell, Zac Goldsmith, Mike Weir, Andrew George, Tessa Munt.
Dave Toke’s Green Energy Blog 6th Feb 2013
The nuclear reactor near Crystal River north of Tampa Bay will never fission again. Duke Energy has decided to shutter the trouble nuclear power plant, which has been shut down since 2009 thanks to a crack in the dome that shields the reactor. Attempts to repair the initial crack had caused other cracks to form and the company estimated that fixing those cracks would cost another $1.5 billion minimum, possibly much more. The woes facing nuclear reactors are not confined to the U.S. New reactors in France and Finland are behind schedule and over budget and Germany plans to phase out its nuclear fleet in coming years. Meanwhile, the politicians of Cumbria in northwest England voted to reject a planned repository for nuclear waste in their county. Paired with decisions by energy company Centrica to abandon plans to build new reactors in the U.K. and a new government report highlighting nuclear industry incompetence, nuclear energy may be “finished in the U.K.,” according to nuclear power proponent and environmental columnist George Monbiot.
Scientific American 5th Feb 2013
Just prior to the release of the Energy Bill, two significant events occurred, providing a significant vote of confidence in the future of the UK nuclear programme. First, On November 26th the Japanese Hitachi Ltd. completed its £700m acquisition of the fledgling Horizon Project from its German owners, The next day, November 27th, NNB GenCo (the EdF-BE subsidiary) received its Nuclear Site License for the construction, commissioning and operation of the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant, proving the second important event. Soon after, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change presented the Energy Bill to the House of Commons, which aims to support the move of the UK’s future energy production from a dependence on fossil fuels to a more diverse mix of energy sources, including nuclear and renewables.
Telegraph 6th Feb 2013
Letter: It is hard to see how the UK’s projected future electricity demand and energy security can be met without an element of new nuclear power, to replace some of the existing nuclear stations as they come to the end of their lives. If new civil nuclear electricity-generating capacity is commissioned in the UK, waste management and end of life decommissioning will be taken properly into account from the start, and so will be proportionately less expensive to deal with than the legacy of the early days of the UK’s military programmes.
FT 7th Feb 2013
Letter: You report that Centrica may be finding the prospect of building a nuclear power station – with highly uncertain costs – against a fixed-price contract unattractive. As a consumer, I find the prospect of paying a price fixed high enough to give nuclear companies the return they want for taking on this uncertainty equally unattractive – particularly as my share of any cost over-run would be a small fraction of my electricity bill. Would it not be better to link the contract price for nuclear electricity to the out-turn cost of the stations? Passing on 100 per cent of any cost over-run would give no incentive for cost control, but passing on, say, 80 per cent should greatly reduce the companies’ cost of capital, while bearing 20 per cent of any over-run would still be a strong incentive to keep the project under control.
FT 7th Feb 2013
Centrica’s decision to pull out of the EDF consortium to build nuclear plants at Hinkley Point in Somerset, and Sizewell, Suffolk has had no material effect on the pipeline of work for the British nuclear supply chain, experts say, but it knocks confidence in the UK’s overall industrial strategy.
The Manufacturer 6th Feb 2013
Pressure is mounting on the Government to take over the nuclear new-build programme, which includes a plant at Sellafield. The GMB Union is calling for the state to step in after another private company pulled out. Centrica, the owner of British Gas, has announced that it would not take up an option for a stake in the construction of nuclear power stations at Hinkley Point in Somerset, and Sizewell, Suffolk. Chief executive Sam Laidlaw said the company was “uncertain about overall construction costs and timeline.” Its partner, EDF, must either pick up the tab or find a new partner. Although Centrica’s decision has no direct bearing on the NuGen consortium’s proposals for Sellafield, it adds to doubts about whether the private sector will be able to fund new build.
Cumberland News 6th Feb 2013
It would be wrong to imply, as some commentators have, that the UK’s plans are in tatters. Despite some speculation to the contrary, EDF still appears to be committed to its new-build plans and – following Centrica’s exit – is reportedly now in talks with China’s Guangdong Nuclear Power. Meanwhile, Hitachi’s decision to buy Horizon nuclear power has been hailed by the government as evidence that there is an appetite for investing in the UK.
The Engineer 6th Feb 2013
It never rains but it pours in the UK’s nuclear industry. Plans to build new reactors are stalling as yet another company pulls out, and there is still nowhere to store nuclear waste permanently.”It’s clearly a setback,” says Francis Livens of the University of Manchester, UK. “But it’s too early to say the new build is done for.”
New Scientist 6th Feb 2013
Last November I wrote a news story about how a register of meetings released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) under freedom of information legislation had exposed the extent to which senior civil servants had been wined and dined by nuclear industry lobbyists. The register was revealing on two levels: first, it showed how there had been dozens of meetings since Decc’s Office for Nuclear Development (OND) had been formed in 2009; second, it showed just how lavish the hospitality offered by the lobbyists had been with meetings regularly taking place at some of London’s most luxurious restaurants and hotels. Craig Bennett, the director of policy and campaigns at Friends of the Earth, remarked at the time: “What the taxpayer should be asking is whether this succession of lavish hospitality has resulted in lavish subsidies for nuclear.”
Guardian 6th Feb 2013
THE Lake District may not be out of the ‘nuclear woods’ yet – despite a major ruling by county councillors, campaigners fear. Objectors wanting the national park excluded from any underground geological disposal facility (GDF), are monitoring moves in West Cumbria to keep the idea alive.
Westmorland Gazette 4th Feb 2013
Eddie Martin’s Speech on 30th Jan: As Community Leaders we councillors must quite frequently make difficult, sometimes lonely, and occasionally quite courageous decisions. Such decisions are unlikely to please everyone! Making a courageous decision often comes, of course, with a high price. On the upside, that courageous decision usually proves to be the right one, even if it takes years for people to appreciate it. It might cost your office, but chances are, someday you will be remembered for doing the right thing. We are now faced, I suggest, with the most courageous and pivotal decision we shall ever have to make.
Radiation Free Lakeland 6th Feb 2013
A local man has called upon North Ayrshire Council to pitch a bid for a nuclear dump. With tongue firmly in cheek (we think) Mr A Anderson of Largs wrote to the Largs & Millport News stating: “With Cumbria Council’s rejection of the proposal to store nuclear waste, a golden opportunity has arisen for North Ayrshire Council to volunteer Largs and Fairlie as a place to store this waste. “I’m sure that local supporters of nuclear energy, who have been so vociferous in their condemnation of the proposed coal powered plant would have no objections to storing the waste produced by this process? After all, it is 100% safe, isn’t it? Or as I suspect, would they take the same stance as the nuclear energy supporters in the Sellafield area, that it should not be stored in my back yard.”
Largs & Millport Weekly News 6th Feb 2013
The scale of work to create new storage facilities for nuclear waste means Sellafield is likely to become Europe’s biggest construction site over the next decade. Much of the waste now being kept at the Sellafield site is in outdated storage facilities. The shocking scale of the nuclear legacy has been revealed as bosses at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) defended their record for overseeing the clean-up of the site. The issue hit the headlines yesterday as the House of Commons spending watchdog, the Public Accounts Committee, revealed that the projected cost of decommissioning Sellafield is now £67.5bn – more than the Government’s annual spending on education. Last week, Cumbria County Council rejected a plea to continue investigating west Cumbria as a possible site for an underground dump. The spiralling costs of decommissioning Sellafield and the huge scale of the nuclear waste problem – built up over the last 50 years – can only add to the pressure facing ministers as they try to find a long-term solution.
Carlisle News & Star 6th Feb 2013
EDF Energy will have to make Suffolk an “even better place to live, work or play” for Suffolk Coastal District Council to back plans for Sizewell C. The council’s cabinet met on Tuesday night and offered its conditional support for plans for the new nuclear power station near Leiston. It said the environment had to be protected, jobs created and infrastructure improved. A public consultation on EDF’s proposals ends on Wednesday.
BBC 6th Feb 2013
Today is your last chance to have your say on plans to build a new nuclear power station on the Suffolk coast. EDF energy have released plans to build a third power station at Sizewell and have been asking the public for their views in twelve public meetings.
Heart Radio 6th Feb 2013
The Dungeness B nuclear plant was involved in two safety scares last year, a new report reveals. In December 2012 operators EDF told the nuclear safety watchdog that its sea defences were not as strong as previously thought. it was also revealed in the ONR’s latest bulletin on nuclear incidents that the wrong type of control rod had been loaded into Reactor 22 at Dungeness B in March 2003. The ‘misload’ was only discovered during routine control rod maintenance after their removal from the reactor. At the time the reactor 21 had been shut down for maintenance but 22 was still operating.
This is Kent 6th Feb 2013
In December 2012, EDF Energy Nuclear Generation Ltd (NGL) notified ONR that the primary sea defence at the Dungeness B nuclear power station (a shingle bank) was not as robust as previously thought. On 5 November 2012, EDF Energy Nuclear Generation Ltd (NGL) found that an incorrect control rod had been loaded into Reactor 22 at Dungeness B in March 2003. The misload was identified during routine control rod maintenance after their removal from the reactor.
ONR (accessed) 6th Feb 2013
The planned sale of Urenco poses a quandary for the three European governments that own it. They want a good price for the world’s second-largest nuclear fuel vendor, yet are suspicious of every buyer’s motives.Germany, Britain and the Netherlands, which set up Urenco more than forty years ago, have a duty to ensure secret technology that could be used to make an atomic bomb does not fall into the wrong hands.
Reuters 6th Feb 2013
In an apparent change of attitude, the new coalition Japanese government has expressed that it may be open to reviving nuclear power. Toshimitsu Motegi, the minister for economy, trade and industry told reporters in a group interview that the previous administration’s policy of shutting down reactors that are more than 40 years would be reviewed. Although the more surprising was that Motegi envisions that nuclear power could grow in capacity again, with more plants being built as long as they meet the safety requirements of the recently formed recently formed Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA).
Nuclear Energy Insider 6th Feb 2013
Google Earth’s all-seeing cameras have collected new images of a nuclear test site in North Korea.
ITV 7th Feb 2013
China should exact a “heavy price” from North Korea if it carries out a planned nuclear test, state media has declared, in an unusually strongly-worded call for action.
Telegraph 6th Feb 2013
Nuclear energy is responsible for powering nearly 20 percent of the US, and in Southern California the San Onofre nuclear power plant has created much debate in the surrounding community. The station has been closed for about a year due to a leak that was detected in the steam generator tubes, but despite the wishes of the people living the area to keep the plant closed, the utility company is pushing to bring the reactor back online. Arnie Gundersen, chief engineer for Fairewinds Energy Education, analyzes the situation.
GRTV 6th Feb 2013
DUKE ENERGY, the largest electricity generator in the US, has decided to permanently close its Crystal River nuclear plant in Florida after a string of bungled repairs. The 860 MW plant, which began operations in 1977, was shut down in 2009 to refuel and replace its steam generators but has never returned to service. In the process of carrying out maintenance work the reactor’s containment structure was cracked. An attempt to repair the crack in 2011 resulted in new cracks to other areas of the containment structure. It’s estimated that Duke Energy would have had to pay as much as US$3.4bn to repair the problems and would then have had to negotiate with regulators to extend the plant’s operational life once its license expires in 2016.
Chemical Engineer 6th Feb 2013
PLANS to dispose of decades of US nuclear waste at the Hanford site in Washington State have come under heavy criticism from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which has predicted yet more massive delays and budget overruns. The Department of Energy (DoE) first launched its plans to build a waste treatment and immobilisation plant, known as the WTP, in 2000. At the time, it estimated that construction work would be completed by 2009, but this has since slipped by ten years while costs have risen from US$4.3bn to almost US$14bn.
Chemical Engineer 6th Feb 2013
A new report from the health professionals’campaign group Medact interrogates the notion that ‘nuclear deterrence’ is an essential component of the UK’s defence strategy. You and I pour a can of petrol over our heads. Then each of us threatens the other with a blowtorch. The fact that we could both go up in flames is supposed to prevent one of us from pressing the button.
Open Democracy 6th Feb 2013
A new analysis from research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance has concluded that electricity from unsubsidised renewable energy is already cheaper than electricity from new-build coal and gas-fired power stations in Australia. The modeling from the BNEF team in Sydney found that new wind farms could supply electricity at a cost of $80/MWh –compared with $143/MWh for new build coal, and $116/MWh for new build gas-fired generation.
Renew Economy 7th Feb 2013
In a remote corner of west Texas, in the shadow of a sprawling wind farm, one of the world’s largest batteries was switched on last week. Deep in oil country, the battery is at the vanguard of efforts to help renewable energy sources realise their potential and, ultimately, oust fossil fuels in the US. Built for energy giant Duke Energy by local start-up Xtreme Power, the array is the biggest and fastest battery in the world. It can deliver 36 megawatts of wind power to the grid over a period of 15 minutes. The battery’s job is to act as a buffer, smoothing out the supply of electricity from the 153 MW Notrees wind farm nearby. The intermittent nature of wind power means fossil fuel powered turbines often have to step in to match energy supply with demand. The battery at Notrees bridges the gap.
Climate Crocks 5th Feb 2013
The European Commission yesterday confirmed State Aid approval for the UK government’s flagship Green Deal programme, potentially paving the way for Green Investment Bank funding for the high profile energy efficiency scheme. In a statement, the Commission said that up to £600m of public support could be provided to the Green Deal under State Aid rules, after officials ruled the scheme could make a “significant contribution” to the EU’s common objective of improving energy efficiency.
Business Green 6th Feb 2013