Problem with Hinkley C’s concrete base

EDF says the problem is limited to 150 cubic metres where pipes and cables are due to be laid. Weak, poor quality cleanliness and not wide enough.

Is Owl reassured? No. But our Local Enterprise Partnership, with its top-heavy nuclear interest Board members, will no doubt be …

Source: Times Business News (pay wall)

Hinkley C subsidising UK nuclear weapon industry

So NOW see just why our Local Enterprise Partnership – where many past and present board members have and had nuclear and arms industry interests – is pouring money into Hinkley C.

Scientists tell MPs government is using expensive power project to cross-subsidise military by maintaining nuclear skills

“The government is using the “extremely expensive” Hinkley Point C nuclear power station to cross-subsidise Britain’s nuclear weapon arsenal, according to senior scientists.

In evidence submitted to the influential public accounts committee (PAC), which is currently investigating the nuclear plant deal, scientists from Sussex University state that the costs of the Trident programme could be “unsupportable” without “an effective subsidy from electricity consumers to military nuclear infrastructure”. …

“What our research suggests is that British low-carbon energy strategies are more expensive than they need to be, in order to maintain UK military nuclear infrastructures,” said Stirling.

“And without assuming the continuation of an extremely expensive UK civil nuclear industry, it is likely that the costs of Trident would be significantly greater.”

The Hinkley Point project has been criticised for its huge cost. The French electricity company EDF is currently in the early stages of constructing the plant near Bridgwater, Somerset, in partnership with the China General Nuclear Power Group.

The government has agreed a minimum price of £92.50 per megawatt hour (MWh) for electricity produced by Hinkley Point, the first new-build nuclear power plant in the UK since 1995. Under this agreement, if the usual wholesale price is lower, the consumer pays the difference in price. The current wholesale electricity price is around £42 per MWh, so the electricity consumer would pay EDF an extra £50 per MWh.

Last month, the government agreed a “strike price” of £57.50 per MWh for offshore windfarms off Scotland and Yorkshire, far below the Hinkley guaranteed price.

This week, the Green MP Caroline Lucas asked the government about the Ministry of Defence and the business department discussing the “relevance of UK civil nuclear industry skills and supply chains to the maintaining of UK nuclear submarine and wider nuclear weapons capabilities”.

Harriett Baldwin, the defence procurement minister, answered that “it is fully understood that civil and defence sectors must work together to make sure resource is prioritised appropriately for the protection and prosperity of the United Kingdom”.

Johnstone said the decision-making process behind Hinkley raised questions about transparency and accountability, saying: “In this ever more networked world, both civil and military nuclear technologies are increasingly recognised as obsolete. Yet it seems UK policymaking is quietly trying to further entrench the two – in ways that have been escaping democratic accountability.”

At a hearing held by the PAC in parliament on Monday, senior civil servants defended the Hinkley deal after a National Audit Office report concluded that it was “risky and expensive”. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/oct/12/electricity-consumers-to-fund-nuclear-weapons-through-hinkley-point-c

Utility companies move into battery storage, not nuclear

Our Local Enterprise Partnership still puts all OUR eggs in the Hinkley C basket (case).

“Britain’s switch to greener energy will take another significant step forward this week with the opening of an industrial-scale battery site in Sheffield.

E.ON said the facility, which is next to an existing power plant and has the equivalent capacity of half a million phone batteries, marked a milestone in its efforts to develop storage for electricity from windfarms, nuclear reactors and gas power stations.

The plant, housed in four shipping containers, is the type of project hailed by the business secretary, Greg Clark, as crucial to transforming the UK’s energy system and making it greener.

At 10MW, the Blackburn Meadows battery is one of the biggest in Britain so far, but will soon be eclipsed by much larger plants.

Centrica, the parent company of British Gas, is building a 49MW facility on the site of a former power station in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, while EDF Energy is working on one of the same size at its West Burton gas power station in Nottinghamshire.

David Topping, the director of business, heat and power solutions at E.ON, said: “This is a milestone for E.ON in the new energy world and an important recognition of the enormous potential for battery solutions in the UK.”

The utility-scale batteries are being built in response to a request from National Grid, the owner of Britain’s power transmission network, for contracts to help it keep electricity supply and demand in balance, which is posing an increasing challenge for the grid as more intermittent wind and solar comes online. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/09/uk-first-mega-battery-plant-come-online-sheffield-eon-renewable-energy

“Great South West” LEP for LEPs! The South-West Regional Development Agency rising from its ashes?

We’ve had the Heart of the South West LEP!
We’ve had the “Golden Triangle” LEP (Exeter, Plymouth, Torquay)
We”ve even had the “Golden Quadrangle” LEP (Owl’s suggestion for adding in Cornwall or Dorset)

NOW we have the “Golden Pentangle” (adding in Cornwall AND Dorset)
yet ANOTHER unelected, unaccountable and non-transparent quango:

THE GREAT SOUTH WEST LEP!

first reported by Owl in August 2016 here:
https://eastdevonwatch.org/2017/08/26/forget-heart-of-the-south-west-hello-great-south-west/

An update …

It seems plans are well-advanced for the “super” Local Enterprise Partnership of Local Enterprise Partnerships! They now even have a (very poor) website!

Those who remember life BEFORE our own LEP will recall that it was preceded by the much-derided South-West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA) – so despised by the Tory/Lib Dem coalition that one of its first actions was to dispose of it and replace it with business-led, business-dominated, business-driven LEPs.

In our case it didn’t exactly work that way as OUR LEP (Heart of the South West – ie Devon and Somerset) decided to employ at a vast salary ex-SWRDA senior manager Chris Garcia – who is so beloved of our LEP that they raised his salary 26% last year!

However, he will perhaps be miffed that the job of CEO of the CEOs of all these LEPs has not gone to him but to Rozz Algar, a former Human Resources Manager:
http://herne.org.uk/pages/about-us/rozz-algar-cmgr-fcmi/101

Want to know what this “super” LEP is planning for us? Go to their NEW (riddled with grammar and spelling mistakes – OWL has spotted SIX spelling mistakes on its home page alone!) website at:

http://greatsouthwest.org.uk/

And hear LEP-speak like you’ve never heard it before! Including that old chestnut about how many hospitals it COULD (but won’t) build!

“AN INTRODUCTION TO GREAT SOUTH WEST?
[Yes there really IS a question mark at the end of that heading!!!]

The South West of England is a great place. It is poised for a step change in prospertiy and productivity. When the productivity in the South West of England matches that currently in the South East we will add over £18bn a year to the UK’s economy. That’s enough to build a new NHS hospital every week.

Our economy is already bigger than that of Manchester and more than two and a half times that of Birmingham – with the single largest infrastructure project in Europe already underway (generating billions of pounds of business opportunities) and the best natural capital in the country (attracting more visitors than anywhere else outside London).
[Just in case you don’t realise it, they are talking about Hinkley C nuclear power plant – that great white elephant in North Somerset]

The pubication of the SW Growth Charter in 2016 started our journey to promote our great region and we welcome the continuing support of stakeholders across the region to hlep in shaping our opportunities and building the momentum.

Our strategy for greater prosperity is to collaborate to promote

a self-sustaining and resillient South West ….
with innovation, enterprise and infrastructure ….
with productive people and rewarding careers …
utilising our natural and entreprenurial capital …
and sharing the benefits for all

We are focused towards having a clear and consistent strategy in time for the Autumn Statement.

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN IN PRACTICE?

Great South West looks to build on existing good practice and collaborative working such as the science and innovation audit

By working together as a region will ensure that the South West has a strong voice to highlight investment opportunities to national and international private and public investors; as well as projecting a positive and progressive image for all

It will help to support the economic growth and prosperity of the whole region by linking up programmes and ensuring that the asks and priorities are consistent and reflect the strengths of the region

The Great Southwest does not intend to impede individuals or groups from their own initiatives or joining with others. We will not be a bureaucracy; but look to support and add value where it can.

It aims to support a flourishing private sector and a highly skilled population able to make the most of the great opportunities that the South West has to offer

Note: The name Great South West is a working title at present and may alter as the intiative gains momentum in order to be appropriate and resonate with all parties. This is not a brand used by the West of England LEP for their local authority areas.”

Yep, all on the back of Brexit!

DCC EDA Independent Councillor Shaw asks LEP CEO killer question

The question

When will the Heart of the South West LEP offer something to small town, rural and coastal Devon?

The response:

“This was the question I asked Chris Garcia, of the Heart of the South West LEP, when he appeared before the Corporate Infrastructure and Regulatory Services Scrutiny Committee (CIRS) at Devon County Council yesterday. Mr Garcia said that Government funding was geared mainly to urban areas, but the LEP has a ‘rural growth commission’ which will publish a report shortly. I shall look out for it.

Mr Garcia didn’t reply, however, to my criticism that the LEP is itself skewed by the ‘white elephant’ new nuclear power station at Hinkley C in Somerset. This project, rashly endorsed by Theresa May who had a chance to halt it, will cause British consumers pay over the odds for electricity for decades to come, based on an unproved type of nuclear station which is not supported even by many who believe nuclear energy is necessary for national energy needs, and in the control of French and Chinese state companies! As renewables get cheaper and electric storage becomes viable, this is a project we don’t need. True, it will bring some jobs to Somerset, but not to most of Devon.

Mr Garcia came with a powerpoint and brandishing the LEP’s latest glossy annual report. I asked that in future, we had proper written reports circulated in advance which members could scrutinise.

Mr Garcia didn’t mention the word ‘devolution’. HoTSW is leaving all that to Devon and Somerset county councils, who are apparently now planning to establish a Joint Committee. What that will involve is something else county councillors will need to scrutinise carefully.”

When will the Heart of the South West Local Economic Partnership (LEP) offer something to small town, rural and coastal Devon?

UK “best place in the world” to flog nuclear projects thanks to “supportive government”

“Under pressure from Brexit and the declining costs of renewable energy, Britain‘s nuclear industry is increasingly relying on supportive government policy to plough on with high-profile — and controversial — projects.

With four big projects due for completion by 2025, the country is at the forefront of a global industry left shaken by the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima nuclear site in Japan.

“The UK is the best place in the world to build nuclear” as the sector does not face the political opposition found elsewhere, David Powell, Hitachi’s Europe vice-president for nuclear power plant sales, told AFP on the sidelines of a conference in London this month.

Britain’s Conservative government has made the decommissioning of the country’s coal-fired power stations and ageing nuclear reactors — many of which were built in the 1950s — a pillar of its energy security policy and low-carbon commitments.

Only one of Britain’s 15 existing reactors is expected to be in use by 2030.

But British anti-nuclear campaigners have denounced the government’s steadfast commitment to nuclear power, urging it to focus instead on renewable sources like wind and solar.

“The contrast between the nuclear industry and the renewables industry could not be starker,” said Doug Parr, policy director at Greenpeace UK.

“Offshore wind, in particular, is dramatically falling in cost and rapidly improving in technology,” he said.

“It is clear that new nuclear will only be built with substantial government support not required by renewable energy technologies like wind and solar.”

Two new windpower projects announced last week appeared to confirm that it has become cheaper to harness energy from wind than nuclear.

But Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, says he is not convinced, and that harnessing atomic energy still has its advantages.

“For nuclear energy, as with offshore wind, the more you build the more the price falls,” he told AFP at the conference, which was also attended by senior delegates from the French giant Areva, China’s CGN and the US group Westinghouse.

“Nuclear delivers what offshore wind can’t deliver, which is constant, always available power. It does not matter what the weather is like,” he said.

Nuclear ‘must have its place’

But the industry also faces an entirely different obstacle in the form of Brexit, with Britain having to decide on whether to remain in Euratom, the European nuclear regulator.

In recent written evidence submitted to the UK parliament, French energy group EDF warned continued access to skilled labour from the EU, and the development of an alternative regulatory framework for Britain, would both be necessary for major projects like Hinkley Point to go ahead.

Last March, the first pouring of concrete at the Hinkley Point C power plant in western England brought the vision of a nuclear future for Britain one step closer to reality.

The site’s two reactors, due to be built by 2025 in conjunction with EDF and China’s CGN, will be Britain’s first in more than two decades.

EDF is also considering building a reactor at Sizewell in eastern England as a counterpart to Hinkley, while CGN has its eyes on a similar project nearby.

Elsewhere, two reactors being built in Wales by the Japanese conglomerate Hitachi are expected to gain regulatory approval before the end of the year.

Increased demand for electric cars, trains and heating are contributing to the growing electricity demand, meaning a surge in new capacity is required, according to industry experts.

“No one says it should all be nuclear, but it must have its place,” Greatrex said.

But the competition from wind and solar power threatens to severely test the viability of British nuclear projects across the board in the coming years.

Official figures show nuclear energy represented 21.2 percent of Britain’s energy production last year, compared with 24.4 percent from renewable energy sources.”

https://www.24matins.uk/topnews/uk/against-rising-headwinds-uk-pushes-ahead-with-nuclear-projects-21602

A test for our LEP: offshore wind power now vastly less expensive than Hinkley C

The Local Enterprise Partnership for Devon and Somerset (Heart of the South West LEP) is investing heavily in Hinkley C nuclear power station in Somerset.

This is not surprising, as many of its members are making money, now and in the future, in providing services and infrastructure for the massively expensive French/Chinese project. Making THEIR money with OUR money – whether the white elephant gets built or not.

Now we hear that the infrastructure costs of offshore wind power have plummeted – making it much more cost-effective than nuclear power, particularly Hinkley C nuclear power:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/11/huge-boost-renewable-power-offshore-windfarm-costs-fall-record-low

Now, solar energy is operating at zero subsidy and onshore costs for wind power are also falling – and energy storage batteries are also becoming nearer to cost-neutral for homeowners.

So, what is/was our LEP’s Plan B for this eventuality?

Er ….. they don’t need one or want one, because THEIR profits aren’t based on what’s best for us, or what costs least but what’s best for them.