Trust me, I won’t go a penny over budget on Hinkley: Britain’s new £18bn nuclear plant is finally under way… Now EDF’s boss has to build it on time. De Rivaz is outraged when I put to him the claims of a senior consultant engineer of my acquaintance, that the technology could be dodgy. ‘Nothing could be more untrue,’ he replied with barely concealed contempt. ‘I cannot understand how that expression is used for technology which has been approved by the safety regulator in the UK, which has been approved by the Chinese safety authority. ‘On the contrary, it meets the highest safety standards among all nuclear reactors being built in the world at present.’ So what then about the much-publicised delays in building the twin reactor at Flamanville in Brittany? ‘The project in Flamanville is now fully on track and fully compliant with the reset schedule we gave one year ago,’ EDF’s UK chief insists. ‘The Chinese projects [using the same design] are now completed in terms of construction and are about to enter the commissioning and test phase… it’s a very positive reality. How on earth would EDF and its Chinese partners put £18billion at risk on a project if we weren’t confident in the ability to do it on time and budget?’ De Rivaz is equally robust when it comes to defending the price for the electricity, the burden of which British electricity customers will have to shoulder for at least a quarter of a century after completion. ‘The simple truth is the high price is competitive with other low-carbon technology,’ he says. He points out that his plant has a life of up to 60 years whereas other low-carbon technologies, such as wind, have ‘well-known problems of intermittency’, which means they cannot be relied upon at all times.
Daily Mail 22nd Sept 2016 read more »
As Hinkley C is given the green light, research published today by the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex, shows how intense British Government attachments to nuclear submarines help drive a strong bias in UK energy policy in favour of nuclear power. This is despite nuclear power being recognised in the Government’s own detailed analyses to be expensive and otherwise “unattractive” compared to other low carbon options. The report ‘Understanding the Intensity of UK Policy Commitments to Nuclear Power documents strongly-held views in UK defence policy, that nuclear-propelled submarines form a crucial military capability. Yet these are arguably the most complex engineered artefacts in the world, not easy for a country with a declining manufacturing base to build and maintain. “On the military side, we found strong fears that without continued commitment to civil nuclear power, the UK would be unable to sustain the industrial capabilities necessary to build nuclear submarines,” said report co-author Dr Phil Johnstone. “We systematically examined a range of different possible reasons for official UK attachments to nuclear power”, said report co-author Emily Cox. “None of these are satisfactory to explain the intensity of support for nuclear power maintained by a variety of UK Governments. It seems that pressures to continue to build nuclear submarines form a crucial missing piece in the jigsaw.” “The Government’s own data shows the UK to be blessed with abundant, secure and competitive renewable energy resources”, said report co-author Professor Andy Stirling, “in a world turning much more to renewables than nuclear power, Britain might be expected to be taking a lead in these new technologies”. Yet a greater priority in UK policy making appears to lie in maintaining ‘nuclear submarine capabilities’. Parliamentary Select Committee Reports and many other policy documents on the military side reveal intense pressures for strong Government support for skills and training, design and manufacturing and research and regulatory capabilities linking with the civil nuclear industry.
University of Sussex 21st Sept 2016 read more »
Influential credit ratings agency Standard & Poors (S&P) has downgraded its rating on EDF following the UK government’s approval of the controversial Hinkley C nuclear plant. The change of EDF’s rating from A to A- on Wednesday evening follows the UK government’s decision to greenlight the new nuclear plant last week, bringing to an end years of uncertainty over the £18bn project’s future. The downgrade comes as a further blow to EDF, whose share price has fallen by around a third over the past year as fears over the firm’s cashflow and the reliability of its European Pressurised Reactor technology (EPR) mounted. According to French newspaper Le Figaro, S&P said it had made the downgrading due to both the high risk of the Hinkley project and the heavy investment needed from EDF, which will put strain on its already stretched balance sheet. The news comes after Moody’s credit rating agency placed its A2 rating of EDF on review for downgrade following the final announcement last week that Hinkley will be going ahead.
Business Green 22nd Sept 2016 read more »
EDF’s credit rating has been downgraded after the UK government’s decision to approve the construction of an £18 billion nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset. The heavily indebted French company, which is 85 per cent owned by the French government, has had its rating chopped from A/A-1 to A-/A-2 by Standard & Poor’s, the US ratings agency, leaving it four notches above junk status. S&P believes that the execution risk of constructing the twin reactor plant is high and the huge investment involved will strain EDF’s already overstretched balance sheet. However, S&P issued a “stable” outlook on the group, reflecting the French government’s decision to help to stabilise its finances. That was an improvement on a previous “negative” outlook. Moody’s, another ratings agency, placed EDF’s ratings on review last week after the decision to approve the Hinkley project.
Times 23rd Sept 2016 read more »
City AM 22nd Sept 2016 read more »
WEST Somerset Council’s leader said he is delighted that Hinkley C is going ahead, but expressed disappointment at the council’s lack of involvement in the decision-making process. Cllr Anthony Trollope-Bellew said the council only received a telephone call from a civil servant an hour after the news had been broken in the press and online.
This is the West Country 21st Sept 2016 read more »