It sometimes seems like US and European nuclear companies are in competition to see which can heap greater embarrassment on their industry. Last week was the turn of the US side to generate ugly headlines when work was suspended on the VC Summer nuclear plant in South Carolina to stem spiralling costs. The decision by utilities Santee Cooper and Scana Corporation dealt another blow to Westinghouse, the US nuclear subsidiary of Japan’s Toshiba, five months after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The US plants risk becoming an even bigger fiasco than those involving the European Pressurized Reactor at Flamanville in France and Olkiluoto, Finland, which, although years late and billions of euros over budget, at least look likely to be completed in the next couple of years. Lower than expected growth in US electricity demand — because of increasing energy efficiency and sluggish economic growth — has further undermined the economic case for nuclear power since the Westinghouse projects were approved. But could this change if electric vehicles increase strain on the power grid? Elon Musk said Tesla’s new Model 3, billed as the company’s first mass market EV, was off to a strong start with 455,000 orders. For all its growth in renewable power, Europe remains heavily reliant on Russian gas. Gazprom’s proposed Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany would reinforce this mutual dependency, but the project looks vulnerable to new US sanctions against Russia signed last week by President Donald Trump. Rising US LNG exports could pose another challenge to Russian dominance of European gas markets. Renewable power is growing rapidly in the UK. But as Carbon Brief shows, the main beneficiary of declining coal power generation since the 1970s has been gas, and fossil fuels still dominate overall energy use.
FT 7th Aug 2017 read more »
EDF review shows cost escalation and further completion delay by up to 15 months at Hinkley Point C; Other Third Generation reactors in trouble: South Carolina program to build 2 Westinghouse AP1000 reactors abandoned; Rolls Royce consortium bid to introduce Small Modular Reactor program, but is there time? Meanwhile wind power costs keep going down and now deepwater floating turbines on the horizon.
Seeking Alpha 7th Aug 2017 read more »