Britain’s nuclear industry is falling inexorably into Chinese hands. At Hinkley Point in Somerset, after years of debate and delay concrete is now finally being poured by EDF for the base of Britain’s first nuclear reactor to be built since Sizewell B. But plans to build a fleet of new reactors at other sites where existing plants are due to be retired from service are tumbling like nine-pins. Will any more be built? It’s hard to say, but without giant dollops of Chinese cash it looks increasingly improbable. Amid falling costs for renewable alternatives, Britain’s nuclear dreams are foundering on the rocks of cold economic reality, just as they did under Thatcher when a flood of North Sea gas arrived to reshape the nation’s energy landscape. EDF, which owns the UK’s existing reactor fleet, and its Chinese partner CGN remain committed to developing three new nuclear projects at Hinkley, Sizewell in Suffolk and another at Bradwell in Essex – a Chinese-led scheme – quite how the £50 billion-odd cost of building them will be met remains murky. With debts of over 31 billion euros (£27bn), the French state-owned company is strapped for cash and looks increasingly reliant on its Beijing-backed partner to get them built. The dawning reality is that without Chinese money to prop up EDF the industry is a busted flush. Amid mounting security fears, Britain will have to think hard about the wisdom of handing over the keys to a large part of its nuclear fleet to Beijing. Meanwhile, there are other ways China might seek to boost its stake in Britain’s nuclear fleet. For starters, CGN has approached the UK government about developing Moorside, the site adjacent to Sellafield which has been vacated by Toshiba, using its own technology. It could seek to do something similar at Wylfa too. Moreover, Centrica is planning to offload a 20 pc stake it holds in EDF’s existing fleet of UK reactors. China could be a willing buyer if it is allowed to do so. Whether or not any of this matters is of course another question, but amid growing tensions with China over espionage and security, many figures within Britain’s security establishment view the prospect as alarming.
Telegraph 24th Jan 2019 read more »
Hitachi’s exit puts Britain’s nuclear policy in meltdown As investors get cold feet, the government must either subsidise the industry or find other sources of power. On January 17th Hitachi, a Japanese company, said it would shelve plans for two nuclear power stations, at Wylfa Newydd in Anglesey and at Oldbury in Gloucestershire. The announcement came just two months after Toshiba, another Japanese firm, ditched plans for a nuclear plant in Cumbria.
Economist 26th Jan 2019 read more »
With only one of the existing facilities in the UK set to be operational by 2030, building new nuclear power plants in the UK is more critical than ever. By 2030, all but one of Britain’s 15 currently operational nuclear facilities are to be taken offline, equating to a 35% reduction in the country’s total power. From Bradwell B to Wyfla Newydd, here we profile all the UK’s proposed nuclear facilities, how they’re progressing and what they could provide for the country’s grid.
Compelo 24th Jan 2019 read more »
The Government needs to urgently reinvigorate its nuclear policy following of the demise of three new power station projects in quick succession. That is the view of John Grainger, stakeholder relations director at membership organisation Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster (BECBC), who told in-Cumbria that new nuclear technologies, such as Small Modular Reactors, could have a key role to play while the Government wrestles with bringing down the cost of large-scale developments. The Government’s nuclear new build ambitions were dealt a hammer blow last week when Hitachi announced it was shelving its plans for a £14 billion power station at Wylfa Newydd, Anglesey – along with longer-term proposals for a second station at Oldbury in Gloucestershire – after talks with the Government broke down over funding for the project. Mr Grainger said the fact that only one of the once-planned six new power stations was under construction at Hinkley Point C, meant that the UK was facing a significant gap in baseload zero carbon energy as the nation’s eight remaining nuclear power generating facilities begin to wind down one-by-one. But Mr Grainger stressed the need for the Government to ensure nuclear remained part of the energy mix and that there was still a compelling case of large-scale developments. “In parallel, we need to explore new funding models for large- scale investment that could give a competitive strike price and rebalance the risk/reward equilibrium for both Government and investors alike,” he added. His comments come as the Government explores applying a Regulated Asset Base (RAB) model to support new large-scale nuclear projects. The RAB model sees a regulator set a fixed sum for the cost of a project along with a fix return for the project’s investors, paid for by the consumer. The introduction of the RAB based model, which is some way off being adapted to nuclear projects, is believed to have scared off Korean utility Kepco when it was negotiating the potential buy-out of NuGen.
Carlisle News & Star 24th Jan 2019 read more »