The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) notes two different reports that again emphasise the woes that are engulfing the private companies trying to deliver new nuclear power stations in England and Wales. NFLA reiterate that an alternative energy policy focused on a wide renewable energy mix and decentralised energy led by local authorities and energy cooperatives would be a sensible and effective way forward. The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee report on government energy policies found them to be badly designed by successive administrations. They had not only neglected the excessive financial costs to consumers, but had failed to ensure the UK has a secure future energy supply that will ‘keep the lights on’. The Committee particularly focused on the Hinkley Point C deal between the UK Government and EDF Energy as the most obvious example of an ‘unbalanced’ scheme that paid little attention to value for money. The Committee called on the Government to set out how capacity from the nuclear power station will be replaced if the project does not come in on time, amid real concerns over long delays. It was also reported today that Toshiba, until recently planning to build three new nuclear reactors at the Moorside site close to Sellafield in west Cumbria, is exploring ‘Chapter 11 bankruptcy’ for its U.S. nuclear power unit Westinghouse Electric Company. This is among a number of options to rebuild the business. Toshiba recently said it would not construct reactors at the Moorside site, but would help develop the current phase of development. It is looking for a buyer of its 60% stake in the Moorside consortium. This news shows the extent of the crisis in the company and that the likelihood of developing the Moorside site must now have diminished significantly.
NFLA 24th Feb 2017 read more »
Failed EPR and AP1000 reactor projects have brought giant energy companies to their knees, and even pro-nuclear lobbyists now acknowledge that the industry is in crisis. Jim Green, editor of the Nuclear Monitor newsletter, takes stock of the crisis in the global nuclear sector and concludes that the industry’s likely response, a retreat from post-Fukushima efforts to strengthen safety standards, risks making a bad situation worse. The crisis over Toshiba that is it hitting the headlines is part of a much deeper crisis in the global nuclear sector. The venerable Japanese company is far from the only nuclear player in crisis. Take France. The French government is selling assets so it can prop up its heavily indebted nuclear utilities. Électricité de France (EDF) announced in 2015 that it would sell €10bn of assets by 2020 to rein in its debt, which now stands at €37.4bn. EDF is being pressured by the French government to purchase parts of its bankrupt sibling Areva, which has accumulated losses of over €10bn over the past five years. French EPR reactors under construction in France and Finland are three times over budget ‒ the combined cost overruns amount to about €15bn. Bloomberg noted in April 2015 that Areva’s EPR export ambitions are “in tatters“, and now Areva itself is in tatters.
Energy Post 23rd Feb 2017 read more »
This morning’s Tory victory sweep in the Labour stronghold of nuclear heartland Copeland has coincided with the publication of a Lords report criticising the government’s nuclear energy policy. Closer to Westminster, a damning report published today by the House of Lords has highlighted the government’s own problems when it comes to formulating viable nuclear energy policy. It accuses the government of “fragility” in its development of nuclear contingency plans, and criticises the priority given to the reduction of energy emissions over dealing with the risk of a supply gap created by the closure of every coal-fired power station in the UK by 2025. Last week’s announcement by Toshiba that it may renege on its commitment to financing the Moorside energy plant project has forced the government to consider taking on a minority stake in the £10 billion project. This raises the controversial spectre of public investment in a costly and risky industry. Foreign policy concerns have also come to the fore after the government’s recent decision to withdraw from Euratom, the European nuclear research agency. These are compounded by the security implications of building an energy strategy around foreign investment from countries like China, in the case of plans for a new plant in Essex.
City AM 24th Feb 2017 read more »