Nuclear power is suffering one of its worst ever years, writes JIM GREEN. Even nuclear enthusiasts agree that the industry is in crisis. The bankruptcy filing by US nuclear giant Westinghouse has sent a cold chill through the industry which elsewhere, is suffering from crippling economic problems, successful legal challenges, and public opposition. Hitachi is backing away from its plan to build two Advanced Boiling Water Reactors in Wylfa, Wales. Hitachi recently said that if it cannot attract partners to invest in the project before construction is due to start in 2019, the project will be suspended. Tim Yeo, a former Conservative politician and now a nuclear industry lobbyist with New Nuclear Watch Europe, said the compounding problems facing nuclear developers in the UK “add up to something of a crisis for the UK’s nuclear new-build programme.” The lobby group noted delays with the EPR reactor in Flamanville, France and the possibility that those delays would flow on to the two planned EPR reactors at Hinkley Point; the lack of investors for the proposed Advanced Boiling Water Reactors at Wylfa; the acknowledgement by the NuGen consortium that the plan for three AP1000 reactors at Moorside faces a “significant funding gap”; and the fact that the Hualong One technology which China General Nuclear Power Corporation hopes to deploy at Bradwell in Essex has yet to undergo its generic design assessment. The only reactor project with any momentum in the UK is Hinkley Point, based on the French EPR reactor design. The head of one of Britain’s top utilities said on June 19 that Hinkley Point is likely to be the only nuclear project to go ahead in the UK. Alistair Phillips-Davies, chief executive officer of SSE, an energy supplier and former investor in new nuclear plants, said: “The bottom line in nuclear is that it looks like only Hinkley Point will get built and Flamanville needs to go well for that to happen.” There is growing pressure for the obscenely expensive Hinkley Point project to be cancelled.
Ecologist 13th July 2017 read more »