EDF is struggling, but may well still succeed, to persuade the Government to give it what amounts to a blank cheque to build Sizewell C nuclear power plant by wrapping it up in an opaque mechanism called the Regulated Asset Base (RAB). Parallel to this a lot of people in Britain are engaging in a process of self-kiddology. They so deeply believe that nuclear power is necessary for the UK that they will gladly be hoodwinked by a bogus financial scheme that allows another nuclear construction debacle. Let’s cut to the chase. EDF is in big financial trouble – and that’s before the current virus crisis. Last December I wrote about the massive financial problems experienced by EDF, http://realfeed-intariffs.blogspot.com/2019/12/the-secret-massive-losses-edf-is.html If the UK Government commits to the RAB finding of Sizewell C it will be a lifeline to EDF. This will attenuate its problems of trying to get its own French Government to fund its liabilities by getting a different Government, the UK, to offer it what is a virtually unlimited cash facility. EDF is now struggling to afford to build Hinkley C, and so it badly needs the cash fillip of unlimited funds on a notionally different, but related (and difficult to separate) project.
Dave Toke’s Blog 3rd June 2020 read more »
Letter from Dr Andy Wood and William Kendall, Suffolk, UK.: Choosing nuclear narrows future energy choices. The case Jonathan Ford makes for borrowing at the lowest cost could apply to any capital project including new nuclear (“Britain needs new nuclear, and the government should fund it” June 1).But he doesn’t explain why he thinks EDF can deliver Sizewell C on time and budget when two of their other pressurised water reactor EPR projects are over a decade late and Hinkley’s costs are rising? There are serious questions about nuclear’s role in net zero. Lord Deben, chairman of the UK’s independent committee on climate change, describes it as a “transitional” power source, saying: “If we get better at balancing the grid and the amount of baseload energy, the need becomes smaller.” There is wide agreement with Mr Ford that new nuclear takes a long time to build and costs are too high, but the National Infrastructure Commission draws a different conclusion: “Making decisions now, such as committing to a fleet of nuclear power plants, rules out a more diverse future generation mix and the potential this has to reduce costs to consumers.” We concur.
FT 3rd June 2020 read more »
Letter submitted by David Lowry to the FT: Jonathan Ford’s Opinion article on the UK’s nuclear energy prospects has a contestable headline. followed by an aspirational, but physically unachievable, sub headline that asserts: Professor Jacobson argues cogently that aside from significant CO2 emissions in the nuclear fuel production chain ( from uranium mining to final waste disposal) : “all nuclear plants emit 4.4 g-CO2e/kWh from the water vapor and heat they release. This contrasts with solar panels and wind turbines, which reduce heat or water vapor fluxes to the air by about 2.2 g-CO2e/kWh for a net difference from this factor alone of 6.6 g-CO2e/kWh.” He adds: “because all nuclear reactors take 10-19 years or more between planning and operation vs. 2-5 year for utility solar or wind, nuclear causes another 64-102 g-CO2/kWh over 100 years to be emitted from the background grid while consumers wait for it to come online or be refurbished, relative to wind or solar.” What the UK needs in a post-coronavirus energy systems reconstruction to boost the economy is many more decentralized energy units of differing renewable energy technologies to even out intermittency, backed up by a serious multi-billion pounds energy efficiency progamme. Nuclear is essentially a very, very expensive industrial irrelevance.
David Lowry’s Blog 2nd June 2020 read more »