Hitachi has agreed to continue negotiating with the UK over the future of a ¥3tn (£20bn) nuclear plant in Wales, in response to enhanced terms offered by the British government. The vote to move ahead, at a pivotal meeting on Monday, means the board has accepted the principle of a tripartite investment structure under which Hitachi, the UK government and state-backed Japanese entities would become equal investment partners in a project fraught with risk of huge cost overruns and low profitability. People close to the Hitachi board, who said ahead of Monday’s meeting that the decision was ” very finely balanced’, said things were now looking positive for a project that many view as critical to the British nuclear industry. A memorandum of understanding is expected in June, said one of the people. The Wylfa Newydd development, located on the island of Anglesey, is also seen by some as a litmus test of UK-Japan trade relations as Brexit approaches. In recent weeks, and as a gauge of how keenly it wants to bring the project to fruition, the UK government has discussed a number of proposals with Hitachi that reflect the Japanese group’s reluctance to shoulder too large a slab of equity risk. Sweeteners from the UK side included an offer to double the level of its previous guarantee on the loans required to fund construction. A letter sent by the UK government on the eve of the Hitachi board meeting outlining its latest proposals was received positively by the Japanese company, according to people familiar with the situation. But the same people said objections were raised during Monday’s meeting, and that some directors were concerned Hitachi might be taking on too much financial risk. Another key factor is the strike price – the guaranteed level at which the plant sells electricity – which is still under discussion. The UK government is expected to back a price some £15 per megawatt hour lower than the £92.50/MWh negotiated for the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant that is under development by EDF.
FT 29th May 2018
Hitachi Ltd. has decided to continue talks over a ¥3 trillion nuclear power plant project in Wales after the British government made a financing offer, according to a source. The maker of machinery and infrastructure systems made the decision at an extraordinary board meeting Monday and will exchange a document that will serve as a basic agreement with the British government if negotiations make progress, the source said. The British government has offered to shoulder ¥2 trillion in loans directly and indirectly through a local financial institution. Even so, Hitachi remains concerned over the risk of pursuing the project due to the hefty cost. The remaining ¥1 trillion to be financed by investments will be equally shouldered by three parties — Hitachi, a British group and a Japanese group. Hitachi Chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi made a personal request to British Prime Minister Theresa May earlier in the month for support for the nuclear plant construction operations, another person familiar with the matter said earlier. As other nuclear projects abroad involving Japanese companies have been struggling due to increased costs for safety measures, making progress in the Wales project is seen as a boost for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s goal of exporting nuclear power technology to drive economic growth. The Japanese government is involved in the project through a state-backed financial institution. Hitachi has indicated that should talks over the British government’s proposed funding prove difficult, the company may withdraw from the project after the total cost swelled for additional safety measures. It remains unclear whether the nuclear power plant project as a whole will be profitable, as Hitachi and the British government are at odds over the purchase price of electricity to be produced at the plant, the source said. Currently, the purchase price offer by the British government, which is considerate of local opposition, is some 20 percent lower than the price Hitachi wants, according to the source.
Japan Times 28th May 2018
Higher offer from UK keeps Hitachi at table for nuclear project. Japanese conglomerate seeks to reduce disaster liability. Hitachi has agreed to continue negotiations with the U.K. on a planned nuclear power plant in Wales after the government in London expanded financial support to ease the Japanese group’s concerns about its hefty price tag. The Board voted to move ahead on Monday. The UK has offered to lend Hitachi over 2 trillion yen. Hitachi aims to conclude a memorandum of understanding as soon as mid-June. Some of Hitachi’s outside directors remain concerned about the project’s risks. The company plans to insist on safeguards that eliminate Hitachi’s financial liability. Hitachi is currently the full owner of the project’s developer but looks to sell down its stake in the operations over time. Because the size of the stake in the project directly translates to its accident liability.
Nikkei Asian Review 29th May 2018
Hitachi Ltd. has decided to continue talks over a ¥3 trillion nuclear power plant project in Anglesey, Wales after the British government made a financing offer, according to reports. The maker of machinery and infrastructure systems made the decision at an extraordinary board meeting on Monday. Reporting from the Japanese Times indicates that the UK government has agreed loans and loan guarantees covering ¥2 trillion, but not to take an equity stake in the remaining ¥1 trillion investment needed. Kate Blagojevic, Head of Energy for Greenpeace UK, said – “Nuclear has been given more state support than any other industry. After sixty years of preferential treatment, shielded from risk and scrutiny, it still can’t compete in the energy market. “Reports that the government could put the taxpayer on the hook, not just for the risk of this project failing but for the billions it will cost in construction are deeply troubling. “We should be told why the government thinks it makes economic sense to pay far more for our electricity when other technologies, like offshore wind and solar power with battery power are not only cheaper but safer, faster, cleaner and a lot more popular.”
Greenpeace 28th May 2018
A group of anti-nuclear campaigners have travelled to Japan to petition the government to withdraw support for a nuclear power station on Anglesey. A petition against the Wylfa Newydd nuclear plant signed by almost 6,000 people was handed to Japan’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry. Pawb’s (People against Wylfa B) trip comes amid reports of UK and Japanese government investment in the project. Technological giant Hitachi said there had been “no changes to disclose”. Speaking to BBC Wales from Japan, Meilyr Tomos from Pawb, said: “There’s huge uncertainty. It’s a scheme that requires two governments to prop it up, so there’s no certainty on anything at this stage. “It’s not a commercial proposition. You need the biggest bang for your buck, that’s not something nuclear can deliver, it’s far too expensive.”
BBC 28th May 2018
[Machine Translation] Citizen groups who came to Japan from England asked the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to cancel the plan concerning the nuclear export plans to the UK, which is backed by the Japanese government and promoted by Hitachi, Ltd., to the UK. British citizen group: “We are very anxious and concerned about the nuclear plans we are about to build now, I do not want the people of Wales to happen to the people of Fukushima.” Nuclear power plant A local citizen group in the UK where the construction plan goes forward has submitted 5823 signatures to the Ministry of International Trade and Industry requesting that the plan be canceled and the government’s support be canceled. The civil society appealed that “nuclear exports are impossible despite the continuing miserable situation due to the accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant”, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said, “There is no fact that we have decided support at the moment” It was. According to the stakeholders, since Hitachi is likely to increase construction costs, the British government is seeking support for 2 trillion yen loan proposal. Hitachi is expected to confirm the continuation of the plan at the Board of Directors on 28th
Asahi TV News 28th May 2018
Richard Bramhall. Referring to The GEM’s recent article on the dumping of mud from Hinkley Point in the Bristol Channel, campaigners oppose the dumping not because of ‘passion’ but because of science. EDF’s references to bananas, radon and cosmic rays are unscientific. Potassium40 (in the bananas), radon and cosmic rays are evenly distributed in body tissue and the radiation effects are well understood. The radioactive particles which EdF refuses to look for in the mud are quite different. The UN has published data showing enormous amounts of particulates from Hinkley Point. These are microscopic fragments of uranium oxide and probably plutonium which are small enough to inhale. From the lung they can travel anywhere in the body — to the lymph nodes, for example. Such particles emit very short-range radiations all the time, continually hitting the cells within a few microns. To treat this as an average all-body dose is like thinking you can safely keep your baby warm by tucking a soldering iron into her babygro. The Government laboratory that tested mud samples did not use techniques capable of detecting uranium or plutonium. This is why campaigners demand thorough testing.
Barry GEM 28th May 2018
Communities in east Suffolk have launched a bid for major Government compensation to help them cope with plans for a number of huge energy projects which opponents say will “desecrate” the countryside. While plans continue to progress for Sizewell C, the Leiston area is now also facing creation of a 30-acre substation complex for Scottish Power’s next two windfarms, and also two major industrial-scale National Grid projects called Nautilus and Eurolink to share power with Belgium and Holland. People living in the area – who have now formed an action group to fight the plans – say they did not know its designation as an “energy hub” would lead to such “disruption, damage and destruction”, including up to 10km of trenches for power cables.
East Anglian Daily Times 28th May 2018
A dome lift at a Chinese nuclear plant has paved the way for the construction of a nuclear reactor at Bradwell B in Essex.
New Civil Engineer 29th May 2018
The UK’s 550 MW Dungeness B-21 nuclear unit came back online at 2.30 am (0130 GMT) Sunday as planned, operator EDF Energy said in a REMIT note. EDF Energy took the unit offline on May 17 for a planned refueling outage. Any delays to the unit’s return would have impacted balance of summer and potentially winter prices, traders said on May 17. The Dungeness nuclear power plant in Kent, southern England, has two units totaling 1.05 GW and an estimated decommissioning date of 2028.
Platts 28th May 2018
Energy Policy – Scotland
Fifty groups from across Scotland have joined forces to call for “real action” from the Government in tackling fuel poverty. The groups, led by the Existing Homes Alliance, fear the Scottish Government’s planned Warm Homes Bill will be a missed opportunity, unless steps are taken to beef up the legislation. Ministers have already committed that the Bill will enshrine in legislation their “long term ambition to eradicate fuel poverty”. But the groups – who include trade unions, environmental campaigners, the Church of Scotland, businesses and others, want politicians to “ensure that Scotland gets the Warm Homes Bill it was promised and that it deserves”. The latest figures showed 649,000 households – 26.5% of the total in Scotland – were classed as being in fuel poverty in 2016, meaning they needed to spend at least 10% of their income to keep their properties warm. Lori McElroy, chair of the Existing Homes Alliance, said: “More than a quarter of Scottish households are still living in fuel poverty – the same proportion who faced cold homes a decade ago – and over a million homes fall below the energy efficiency standard needed for our health … the Scottish Government is in danger of failing to grasp that opportunity. The proposed Fuel Poverty Bill is far too narrow, focused just on creating a new definition of fuel poverty and setting new fuel poverty targets … we are calling on the Scottish Government and all MSPs to ensure that Scotland gets the Warm Homes Bill it was promised and that it deserves.” The 50 groups all want the Bill to include long term targets for improving energy performance with clear timescales for action, as well as incentives for homes to be made more energy efficient. “Bringing Scotland’s homes up to a standard of energy efficiency will tackle fuel poverty and climate change, reduce ill-health, improve well-being, reduce inequalities, and create and sustain jobs across Scotland. It is quite simply one of the best investments that the Scottish Government could make.”
Herald 29th May 2018
Scotsman 29th May 2018
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 can abandon its plants, there’s six decades of waste to deal with. It was just another day in the life of the defunct Hanford nuclear site, a remote part of Washington State that made most of the plutonium in America’s Cold War arsenal. On the morning of May 9, 2017, alarms sounded. Around 2,000 site workers were told to take cover indoors, and aircraft were banned from flying over the site for several hours. The roof of a tunnel had collapsed, exposing railcars that had been loaded with radioactive waste from plutonium production and then shunted underground and sealed in decades before.
The Atlantic 28th May 2018
Chinese wind energy operators are being hung out to dry in markets. The revelation of plans to introduce competitive bidding rules for wind farms knocked the share price of operators such as Huaneng Renewables and China Longyuan Power by nearly a tenth at the end of last week. This is a buying opportunity. China has become the world’s top wind power, accounting for one-third of global renewables investment, according to research by Brookings. Eleven per cent of energy consumed in China is from renewables. The new bidding rules seem to contradict the country’s decisive push towards clean energy and increased wind capacity and are likely to reduce returns. But they do not affect existing and fully approved projects. Admittedly these projects face some troubling problems of their own. Grid inefficiencies force the sites to shut down frequently. Wind operators expect subsidies, paid for by end-user surcharges. But less than three-quarters of these are being collected, leading to shortfalls and bloated receivables on operator balance sheets. Competitive bidding would at least lower wind energy prices and help to address this mismatch. Prices must come down in the long term if wind farms are to compete with other energy sources such as coal.
FT 29th May 2018
Armenia is preparing for a major modernization of the country’s only nuclear power plant (NPP). The work will begin on June 1 and will last two months. The Ministry of Energy of the Republic said that despite the suspension of the work of the NPP, there will not be a deficit of electricity in the country. Armenian specialists are engaged in technical re-equipment of the station together with their Russian counterparts. “The nuclear power plant will be completely restarted in December. The modernization program is financed by a Russian loan of $ 300 million and is aimed at extending the life of the nuclear power plant for another ten years. After that, according to the results of expert studies, it will be decided whether it is possible to prolong the operation or not,” said Minister of Energy Infrastructures and Natural Resources of Armenia, Artur Grigoryan. “Armenia coordinated with the European Union the issue of extending the operation of the nuclear power plant for 10 years within the framework of the signed Agreement on Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership,” Grigoryan, told journalists on Friday.
Georgia Today 28th May 2018
The UK Government has launched a £102.5m investment programme in a bid to tackle the challenges the UK faces as the renewables revolution continues, suggesting that the nation’s energy sector could soon be poised to take clean power sources mainstream. The joint BEIS, Innovate UK and UK Research and Innovation initiative, which forms part of the Industrial Strategy, was completed on Wednesday (May 23) with the finalisation of plans for a new research network focusing on decarbonising the nation’s energy sector. The consortium accompanies funding for strategic research projects that address industry-led challenges in the development of local, investable, consumer-centred clean energy approaches, including the creation of up to three local energy systems demonstrators that could be ready for new consumer energy systems by the 2020s. UK Research and Innovation chief executive Sir Mark Walport said the investment, called the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, will create “new commercial solutions that benefit consumers through reduced bills; that drive economic growth through new businesses and high-value jobs, and that do this at a reduced environmental cost”.
Edie 25th May 2018
Renewables – tidal
Ministers are expected to break their silence in the row over the £1.3bn Swansea tidal lagoon project following the parliamentary recess. The long-standing row over whether to back the renewable energy project reached crisis point in recent weeks under the scrutiny of a joint select committee inquiry. The ministers for business, energy and industrial strategy declined calls to appear before the MPs earlier this month to face questions over whether Tidal Lagoon Power’s plans should receive support via a levy on energy bills. However, a source close to the inquiry said ministers had agreed to appear following the parliamentary recess in mid-June, “because they’ll have plenty to say then”. “The implication is that they’ll have made a decision by then, and be happy to answer questions,” the source added. The Government is under pressure to speak out after a five-year political stalemate between Welsh MPs in favour of the project’s economy-boosting potential and those who balk at its costs of £150/MWh over 35 years.
Telegraph 28th May 2018
Renewables – offshore wind
A GREEN energy project which faced legal challenges from Donald Trump has passed a milestone with the installation of the final device. Bosses at Vattenfall confirmed the last of the 11 turbines – the world’s most powerful – at its European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) off Aberdeen has been put in place. It is the first commercial project to use a new style of foundations, each of which weigh almost as much as 10 Boeing 747 aircraft. The giant turbines are 191m tall, with each blade 80m. The 164m rotor has a circumference larger than that of the London Eye. The Aberdeen Bay development will be Scotland’s largest offshore wind test and demonstration facility and will trial next generation technology. But it has been hit by delays, including legal challenges from Donald Trump who claimed the turbines would ruin the views from his golf course at Balmedie. It is now scheduled to start generating power this summer, and should produce the equivalent of more than 70% of Aberdeen’s domestic electricity demand.
The National 29th May 2018
Californian scientists have worked out how to reduce global warming so as to make the world 20 trillion US dollars better off. It’s simple. Just stick to the spirit of an international agreement that the American President Donald Trump has already broken. The researchers arrived at their forecasts of climate profit and loss to calculate that if the 195 nations who agreed in Paris in 2015 to contain global warming to “well below” 2°C by the end of the century kept their promise – and global temperatures have already crept up 1°C in the last century as a consequence of the profligate use of fossil fuels – then there would be a 60% chance that the benefits would exceed $20 trillion.
Climate News Network 28th May 2018
Smart meters could help unlock already growing consumer interest in electric vehicles (EV), according to a new survey that suggests more than eight people in Britain are considering buying or leasing an EV in the next five years. The Populus survey of over 2,000 UK adults was carried out on behalf of Smart Energy GB, the government-backed agency tasked with promoting the UK’s smart meter roll out. The poll found that while there is already considerable consumer interest in the fast-expanding EV market, engagement is likely to rise further once people realise how plug-in vehicles can integrate with advanced smart meters to help curb energy costs. More than a third of respondents said they would be more interested in buying an EV if they have a smart meter, while a third of drivers said they would be more likely to purchase an EV if they could programme it to charge automatically at home when energy is cheapest.
Business Green 29th May 2018
Writing exclusively for BusinessGreen, Claire Perry argues smart meters could unlock the rapid adoption of cleaner and more cost effective vehicles. Modernising our energy system lies at the heart of the government’s Industrial Strategy and Clean Growth Grand Challenge. A smart energy system will deliver cheaper and cleaner energy for consumers.
Business Green 29th May 2018