The prospects for expansion of the nuclear industry worldwide look worse in 2017 than at any time since the first atom stations were built in the 1950s. Toshiba, the giant Japanese company that owns the American reactor designer Westinghouse, is the latest company to face financial difficulties due to unforeseen cost overruns and delays that run into billions of dollars. Westinghouse Electric’s troubles began after it bought construction contractor CB&I Stone & Webster and then had to write down the value of the acquisition by billions of dollars because of problems with building four new reactors for US utilities. Électricité de France (EDF), the French company with ambitious plans to build four nuclear reactors in Britain, is in ever-deepening financial difficulties because it has failed to build new stations on time or on budget at Olkiluoto,Finland, and Flamanville, in France. It is also embroiled in an ongoing scandal over faulty reactor parts. Even Rosatom, the state-owned Russian company, keen to expand sales outside its own borders, is pegging back on its building plans at home. Alexander Lokshin, the first deputy director general, said on the company’s website that, because forecasts of energy use growth in Russia have proved to be inaccurate, the company had settled for life extensions of existing plants rather than a large programme of building new ones. While China and India continue to press ahead with nuclear projects, both countries are putting ever-greater effort into renewables, which provide much quicker returns. China has cut back on nuclear plans, but is continuing to build both its own home-grown designs and two reactors of EDF’s new design, which are still under construction although they should already be in operation. There are seven giant reactor projects – the first of 10 planned – for Britain. So far there has not been the slightest hint from either the companies or the UK government that the plans might need revision. Time will tell whether anyone will come up with the $50 billion in capital needed to build them.
Climate News Network 11th Jan 2017 read more »