The Institute of Directors (IoD) has backed Theresa May’s decision to review the £18.5bn Hinkley nuclear scheme but launched a savage attack on successive government policies for failing to deliver energy security. The traditionally conservative employers group also released an opinion poll showing three-quarters of its members supported action to counter climate change with strong backing for solar, wind, and even tidal power. Only 9% of the 1,000 bosses “strongly agreed” that the proposed new reactors at Hinkley Point C would make Britain more economically competitive. Less than a fifth strongly believed Hinkley would make the UK more strategically secure although a different poll taken 12 months ago showed a huge majority in general favour of new nuclear power stations being constructed.
Guardian 19th Aug 2016 read more »
Successive British governments have failed to deliver secure or affordable energy supplies, dealing a blow to the nation’s competitiveness, business leaders warn. A survey of nearly 1,000 bosses by the Institute of Directors published today found that 70 per cent believed consecutive Labour, coalition and Conservative administrations since 2002 failed to make energy available at reasonable cost. Dan Lewis, senior infrastructure policy adviser at the institute, said: “Since the early 2000s, government of all stripes have focused on increasing use of renewable energy in order to reduce carbon emissions,” he added. “Cutting CO2 is overwhelmingly supported by business, but politicians have underplayed the other two crucial aims of energy policy: delivering secure and affordable power. Following the creation of the new business and energy department, now is the ideal moment for the government to reconsider the direction of travel.”
Times 19th Aug 2016 read more »
Unemployment has risen in the south west by 6,000 in the past three months according to the latest Labour Market Statistics released by the Office for National Statistics. And the number of jobless people is up by 10,000 on the same period in 2015. Despite the increase in claimants the government says there are 18,000 more people in work than the same period last year and 30,000 fewer people classed as “economically inactive”. Jobcentres across Somerset are gearing up for the final decision in Hinkley Point C Nuclear Power Station, which if approved will bring thousands of jobs to the county and could result in rising wages as the project needs to attract the best workers to the county’s biggest ever infrastructure project.
Somerset Live 17th Aug 2016 read more »
EDF Energy has announced contracts worth £240m for its planned Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, despite uncertainty over whether the project will go ahead. The contracts cover areas including workforce accommodation, catering, transport, office supplies, maintenance and utilities.
CIPS 18th Aug 2016 read more »
Ben Bradshaw MP: Should the Government pull the plug on Hinkley C? Theresa May has paused the scheme while she “reviews” it. The Financial Times called for its scrapping months ago and now the Economist has joined it. When Britain’s two main business and economy publications are saying this, policy makers should sit up and listen. Their main argument is that with renewable energy costs plummeting and technology advancing at an enormous pace, the huge cost of Hinkley and the very high guaranteed price that will be paid for its energy under the proposed contract, make it an over-expensive white elephant before it’s even built. This is one of Mrs May’s trickier immediate dilemmas to ponder as she walks up and down those Swiss peaks.
Exeter Express & Echo 17th Aug 2016 read more »
David Lowry: THE first nuclear power plant on the Hinkley Point site in Somerset was built in the 1960s. At the time, the United States, was intimately involved in the planning. Why was this? The first public hint is to be found in a statement by the Ministry of Defence on June 17 1958 on “the production of plutonium suitable for weapons in the new [nuclear] power stations programme as an insurance against future defence needs” in Britain’s first-generation magnox reactor. Labour’s Roy Mason asked why the government had “decided to modify atomic power stations, primarily planned for peaceful purposes, to produce high-grade plutonium for war weapons” and “to what extent this will interfere with the atomic power programme?” He was informed by paymaster general Reginald Maudling: “At the request of the government, the Central Electricity Generating Board has agreed to a small modification in the design of Hinkley Point and of the next two stations in its programme so as to enable plutonium suitable for military purposes to be extracted should the need arise. “The modifications will not in any way impair the efficiency of the stations. As the initial capital cost and any additional operating costs that may be incurred will be borne by the government, the price of electricity will not be affected. “The government made this request in order to provide the country, at comparatively small cost, with a most valuable insurance against possible future defence requirements. The cost of providing such insurance by any other means would be extremely heavy.”
Morning Star 17th Aug 2016 read more »
Once considered a vital part of Britain’s clean-energy future, the beleaguered Hinkley Point nuclear plant project looked further than ever from becoming reality this week as a row erupted between the three countries developing the massive facility: the United Kingdom, France, and China. Allen Ho, a naturalized American citizen, was charged in April with “conspiracy to unlawfully engage and participate in the production and development of special nuclear material outside the United States, without the required authorization from the U.S. Department of Energy.” Ho’s alleged corporate espionage on behalf of China General Nuclear has given rise to dark fears of a Chinese “back door” into the operations of the U.K. grid. Security concerns were reportedly the reason behind new prime minister Theresa May’s decision last month to freeze the Hinkley Point project until a review of the deal is completed. A May aide wrote an op-ed warning that foreign owners of British nuclear facilities could “build weaknesses into computer systems that will allow them to shut down Britain’s energy production at will.” Beyond conspiracy theories and diplomatic wrangling, the real problem with Hinkley Point is that it just doesn’t make sense, economically or technologically. The era of gigantic, centralized power plants is receding as distributed wind and solar arrays, smaller reactors, and energy storage all become cheaper and more widely available. “In a world moving towards cheaper, flexible, decentralized power systems, investing in eye-wateringly expensive, always-on ‘base-load’ plants increasingly looks like a 20th Century solution for a 21st Century problem,” wrote Richard Black, director of the London-based Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit. The influential newsmagazine The Economist also this week called for a halt to Hinkley Point. “Regardless of security worries about China, which are probably overblown, the Hinkley plan looks extraordinarily bad value for money … Britain should pull out of the deal.”
MIT Technology Review 15th Aug 2016 read more »
A range of mini-nuclear power plants could help solve Britain’s looming power crunch, rather than the $24 billion Hinkley project snarled up in delays, companies developing the technology say. So-called small modular reactors (SMRs) use existing or new nuclear technology scaled down to a fraction of the size of larger plants and would be able to produce around a tenth of the electricity created by large-scale projects, such as Hinkley. The mini plants, still under development, would be made in factories, with parts small enough to be transported on trucks and barges to sites where they could be assembled in around six to 12 months, up to a tenth of the time it takes to build some larger plants. NuScale, majority owned by U.S. Fluor Corp, is developing 50 megawatt (MW) SMRs using PWRs which could be deployed at a site hosting up to 12 units generating a total of 600 MW. The 50 MW units would be 65 feet (20 meters) tall, roughly the length of two busses, and nine feet in diameter. Rolls-Royce, which already makes components for PWR nuclear submarines, is part of a consortium developing a 220 MW SMR unit which could be doubled for a larger-scale project. Rolls-Royce Chief Scientific Officer Paul Stein said the first 440 MW power plant would cost around 1.75 billion pounds ($2.3 billion) but costs would likely fall once production is ramped up.
Reuters 18th Aug 2016 read more »
Britain would be foolish to turn its back on the “golden era” of relations with China, Beijing’s official news agency has claimed, dismissing concerns over Chinese involvement in the Hinkley Point nuclear project as “China-phobia”. Since becoming Prime Minister last month Theresa May has stepped back from David Cameron and George Osborne’s energetic and controversial courtship of China, infuriating Beijing by postponing a final decision on the approval of the proposed £18bn ($23.5bn) nuclear power station. In a letter to Chinese president Xi Jinping this week, May said she looked forward to “strengthening cooperation with China on trade and business and on global issues” and confirmed she would attend the G20 summit being hosted by the Chinese city of Hangzhou on 4-5 September. A Downing Street source told the Guardian the letter was intended to reassure Beijing “of our commitment to Anglo-Chinese relations”. However, May and her advisers are believed to have misgivings about the closeness to Beijing that developed under her Conservative party predecessor. “After divorcing the EU, Britain would be foolish to decline stronger trade ties with China, whose markets remain home to tremendous business opportunities,” argued the article, which was penned by journalist Zhu Junqing. “The worries over the plant are as groundless as they are unnecessary,” the article added, claiming it would be “commercially suicidal” for China to use the project to damage Britain’s national security. “London’s misgivings over Chinese involvement in its key infrastructure is yet another stroke of China-phobia,” Xinhua claimed.
Guardian 19th Aug 2016 read more »