“Cool down nuclear plan because renewables are better bet, ministers told”

“Government advisers have told ministers to back only a single new nuclear power station after Hinkley Point C in the next few years, because renewable energy sources could prove a safer investment.

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) said the government should cool down plans for a nuclear new build programme that envisage as many as six plants being built.

The commission, launched by George Osborne in 2015, said that a decade ago it would have been unthinkable that renewables could be affordable and play a major role in electricity generation. But the sector had undergone a “quiet revolution” as costs fell, it said.

Sir John Armitt, the NIC’s chairman, said: “They [the government] say full speed. We’re suggesting it’s not necessary to rush ahead with nuclear. Because during the next 10 years we should get a lot more certainty about just how far we can rely on renewables.”

He argued that wind and solar could deliver the same generating capacity as nuclear for the same price, and would be a better choice because there was less risk. “One thing we’ve all learnt is these big nuclear programmes can be pretty challenging, quite risky – they will be to some degree on the government’s balance sheet,” he said.

“I don’t think anybody’s pretending you can take forward a new nuclear power station without some form of government underwriting or support. Whereas the amount required to subsidise renewables is continually coming down.”

Renewables were a “golden opportunity” to make the UK greener and make energy affordable, he added.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jul/10/nuclear-renewables-are-better-bet-ministers-told

“China looking to buy stake in UK nuclear plants, say reports”

No problem, our Local Enterprise Partnership members with vested interests in nuclear power will ensure that all their workforce take Mandarin lessons.

“The Chinese government has emerged as a potential buyer of a multibillion-pound stake in Britain’s nuclear power plants.

The talks will reignite debate about China’s involvement in the UK nuclear power industry. Two years ago, the government paused approval for the £18bn Hinkley Point C project because of security concerns over China’s stake.

China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN), a state-run corporation, is said to be interested in buying a major stake in eight power stations, including Sizewell in Suffolk and Dungeness in Kent.

The power stations are operated by EDF Energy, a subsidiary of the French company EDF, but earlier this year, the British Gas owner, Centrica, put its 20% stake up for sale. The Sunday Times suggested CGN hoped to acquire a 49% stake, which indicates EDF could be looking to offload some of its shareholding.

The proposed deal would be a headache for Theresa May, who is concerned about giving China greater access to critical infrastructure projects and has initiated a new national security test for foreign takeovers.

CGN is becoming an increasingly important player in Britain’s atomic plans, and is working with EDF Energy on plans to develop a new nuclear power station at Bradwell-on-Sea in Essex.

The sale could attract interest from pension and insurance funds, but analysts say the pool of bidders is small because the reactors have a limited shelf live.

Paul Dorfman, a senior researcher at University College London’s Energy Institute, said Britain was an outlier in its openness to Chinese investment.

“It’s entirely credible [that China would be allowed to buy the stake] in the context of what the British government is doing,” he said. “There is no other OECD country that would allow China to own any of its critical infrastructure, let alone its nuclear infrastructure.”

Dorfman said EDF, with €33bn (£29bn) of debt, was eager to raise funds from asset sales. “EDF is in financial difficulties and has been for some time. It’s looking to sell off whatever it can sell off. It’s worried about debt, its credit rating … plus its waste and decommissioning liabilities,” he said.

The eight nuclear power stations, which used to be grouped under British Energy, generate 8.9 gigawatts of electricity and supply about 20% of Britain’s electricity needs. They were bought by EDF for £12.5bn in 2008. The following year, Centrica took a 20% stake, which it values at £1.7bn.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jul/08/china-interested-majority-stake-uk-nuclear-power-stations-reports?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Hinkley privatised nuclear waste clean up contract cancelled and nationalised

“The UK government has been forced to take a multibillion-pound nuclear cleanup contract back into public ownership, after a botched tender to the private sector landed the taxpayer with a £122m bill.

The government will take over the decommissioning of Britain’s 12 Magnox sites, including the former nuclear power stations at Dungeness in Kent and Hinkley Point in Somerset.

The move is a response to the fallout from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) awarding a 14-year deal to the international consortium Cavendish Fluor Partnership in 2014.

Last year the government settled with two US companies that lost out on the £6.2bn contract and brought a legal challenge over the tender process.

Ministers terminated the contract early, leading to speculation over whether it would be put out to tender again to the private sector or brought back into public hands.

David Peattie, the NDA’s chief executive, told staff he understood they had faced uncertainty in recent months, as he confirmed that the private company Magnox Ltd would become a subsidiary of the NDA on 1 September. He said the change would result in “more efficient decommissioning”.

A source close to the process said: “The reason that this has been done is to remove some of the commercial complications and the large fees paid to contractors. This will ensure more money is spent directly on cleaning up these sites.”

Unions said they wanted talks with the new management regime for assurances over pay and terms.

Peter McIntosh, the Unite union’s acting national officer for energy, said: “This decision is long overdue. The 2014 contract should not have been awarded to any organisation.”

He added: “We need to ensure the taxpayer gets value for money through the transfer of the business and it is not paid for at the expense of the workforce.”

Whitehall’s spending watchdog, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), has strongly criticised the NDA and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy over the handling and oversight of the nuclear cleanup contract, one of the government’s biggest ever.

A review of the failings that led to the bungled process, written by the former National Grid boss Steve Holliday, is due to be published later this year.

Bringing the Magnox work back into the public sector means that about 85% of Britain’s nuclear cleanup work is in public hands, after the NDA’s takeover of the Sellafield storage and reprocessing site in 2016.

The PAC last week announced an inquiry into the NDA’s work at Sellafield, which is forecast to be £913m over budget and faces potential delays.

Magnox Ltd looks after 10 former Magnox power stations and two nuclear research sites.”

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jul/02/uk-nuclear-cleanup-contract-back-in-public-hands-after-122m-bill

Hinkley C “never to be repeated mistake” to be repeated!

And yet another Local Enterprise Partnership will be subsidising yet another expensive nuclear power plant with OUR money.

The government has confirmed it is considering putting taxpayers’ money into a project to build a new nuclear power station at Wylfa in North Wales.

It’s a decision that, if taken (and it almost certainly will be), will mark a significant U-turn in the government’s approach to procuring new nuclear power.

In 2010, the government was adamant that the UK public should never have to run the risk of lengthy and costly overruns that have become a hallmark of nuclear plant construction.

In the case of Hinkley Point C in Somerset, the government made much of the fact that come what may, the UK taxpayer would be insulated from the skyrocketing costs that the contractor, EDF, had incurred on a similar plant in France.

But there was a price to pay for that taxpayer protection: very expensive electricity.

In return for shouldering all the risk, EDF demanded a price for the electricity that Hinkley will (one day) produce that is double the current going rate.

The National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee were critical of that deal and there was considerable pressure to significantly reduce the cost of power from the Wylfa plant. It’s expected it will come in around £77 per unit, compared to £92.50 for Hinkley. …

“The 60-Year Downfall of Nuclear Power in the U.S. Has Left a Huge Mess”

“The demand for atomic energy is in decline. But before the country [USA] can abandon its plants, there’s six decades of waste to deal with.

… It is 60 years since America’s first commercial nuclear power station was opened by President Dwight D. Eisenhower at Shippingport, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on May 26, 1958. But the hopes of a nuclear future with power “too cheap to meter” are now all but over. All that is left is the trillion-dollar cleanup. …”

http://flip.it/w8Ec5e

So what do we do? WE build MORE nuclear power stations which our Local Enterprise Partnership heavily subsidises with OUR money. Though, as a number of members of the LEP have nuclear interests, it won’t worry them.

Wind trumps nuclear in first 3 months of 2018 (one nuclear station offline due to wrong kind of seaweed!)

Maybe Hinkley C – in which our Local Enterprise Partnership is investing so much of our money – should be surrounded by wind turbines as back up!

“Britain’s windfarms provided more electricity than its eight nuclear power stations in the first three months of 2018, marking the first time wind has overtaken nuclear across a quarter.

The renewable energy industry hailed the milestone as a sign the UK was well on its way to an electricity system powered by cheap, domestic green energy.

Across the first quarter, wind power produced 18.8% of electricity, second only to gas, said a report by researchers at Imperial College London.

Two nuclear plants were temporarily offline for routine maintenance, while another was shut because of seaweed in the cooling system. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/16/wind-power-overtakes-nuclear-for-first-time-in-uk-across-a-quarter

“UK in last ditch new nuclear crunch talks as ageing power plants falter”

Remember, Hinkley C is where most of our Local Enterprise Partnership’s money (OUR money) is invested and a good proportion of LEP board members have nuclear or allied-closely-to-nuclear interests. AND renewable energy costs are getting lower and lower.

“Prime Minister Theresa May faces crunch talks over the future of a new nuclear power station on Thursday, as fresh faults reduce the amount of energy Britain’s ageing fleet of reactors can generate.

The Japanese conglomerate behind plans to build a new reactor at the Wylfa nuclear site in Wales is expected to call on the Government to take a direct stake in the new plant, or risk the £27bn project falling through.

The last-ditch talks between Hitachi chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi and the prime minister were scheduled for the same day that fresh cracks in one of the UK’s oldest [EDF-owned] nuclear plants underlined the need for new investment in low-carbon power.

A string of power plants, including the faltering Hunterston nuclear plant, are set to close by 2025.

Hitachi’s 2.9 gigawatt nuclear project could help to fill the gap created by the closures, but the group is not willing to take on the full risk burden without the backing of other private investors and government involvement.

The conglomerate is planning to back away from the project entirely unless the UK agrees to help finance it or take a stake in the plant alongside investments from the Japanese government, according to local media reports.”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/05/03/uk-last-ditch-new-nuclear-crunch-talks-ageing-power-plants-falter/