China’s Risky Nuclear Renaissance http://online.wsj.com/articles/heard-on-the-street-chinas-risky-nuclear-renaissance-1414508639 CGN Power’s Plan to Go Public Could Be Dicey By ABHEEK BHATTACHARYA Oct. 28, 2014
Nuclear energy: It’s risky stuff. Hence, there is often a heavy degree of government control over it—which makes it a doubly risky investment proposition.
Especially when that government is China’s.
A number of Chinese state-owned nuclear companies are going public these days. CGN Power, the country’s largest with 9.4 gigawatts of operating capacity, will likely offer $3 billion worth of new shares in Hong Kong next month, reports The Wall Street Journal. A small affiliate, CGN Meiya Power , raised $262 million in Hong Kong last month and has seen its shares rise by 20% since. Meanwhile, another top operator, China National Nuclear Power, also plans an initial public offering.
Once listed, these will be one of a handful of stocks globally, including the likes of Exelon of the U.S. and EDF of France, offering high or pure exposure to nuclear energy. And while much of the rest of the world is ambivalent about or hostile to nuclear energy, Beijing has big expansion plans. The Chinese government suspended new project approvals after Japan’s Fukushima accident in March 2011. But the need to diversify away from smog-causing coal has put its nuclear ambitions back on track. China now targets nearly tripling the nuclear capacity that’s up and running to 58 gigawatts by 2020. The IPOs will help fund that ambition.
The state’s involvement can cut both ways, though. CGN Power sells most of its output to state-run electricity grids at regulated tariffs. For power plants that began operating before 2013, these tariffs are tailored to yield a “reasonable” profit, according to CGN’s prospectus. Yet its net profit has fallen since 2011 because of either surging costs or weakening sales.
For newer plants, the tariff is supposed to be fixed—except when it isn’t. In a bid to avoid competition, these plants are required to cut tariffs if neighboring coal-fired power is cheaper. That’s quite likely as coal prices spiral downward. Energy prices are heavily regulated precisely because consumers are rather attached to light and heat. That makes them subject to political, as well as economic, forces.
In France, for example, shares in state-run EDF tanked 14% in June when the government scrapped a planned tariff increase. There’s even more reason to worry in China since governments could keep down power prices as a stimulus to troubled heavy industries. Growth prospects are high, which is likely one reason that CGN Meiya already trades at 10.9 times 2013 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization. That is far higher than EDF’s 4.8 times or Exelon’s 6.6 times.
Double-digit multiples are no doubt tempting for IPO bankers but look too much for a large nuclear generator carrying this much political risk. Problem is, CGN’s balance sheet means it needs a high multiple, or fast growth in profits, to make its IPO math work.
Net debt as of this March is a hefty 5.1 times 2013 Ebitda, and still high at four times even if related-party loans are excluded. And less than 10% of the IPO proceeds are currently earmarked for paying off borrowings. As if nuclear power wasn’t risky enough
ANOTHER investigation into the controversial Hinkley C deal has begun.
Just two weeks ago, the European Commission approved plans for the £16bn nuclear power plant.
They had been investigating whether the subsidy deal between energy company EDF and the Government constituted as illegal State aid.
While the project was approved, the National Audit Office has now begun investigating the deal to make sure the subsidy price of £92 a megawatt hour represented value for money.
The NAO is a financial watchdog which scrutinises public spending on behalf of Parliament……….
The Stop Hinkley Campaign welcomed the news about the investigation. Spokesperson Allan Jeffrey said: “This is an extraordinarily bad deal, locking consumers into high prices until almost 2060.
“Worse still, it will use up most of the money available to subsidise non-fossil fuel energy, leaving almost nothing available for renewables at a time when their costs are plummeting.
“The European Commission’s ill-thought through decision has turned UK Energy Policy into even more of a dog’s breakfast than it was to begin with…….
Energy supplier Ecotricity has said it is considering taking legal action against the deal along with the Austrian Government and Germany………http://www.somersetcountygazette.co.uk/news/11554761.Hinkley_C_deal_goes_under_scrutiny_again/
Japan to ratify international convention on nuclear accident compensation pact THE ASAHI SHIMBUN http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201410240041
Japan intends to ratify an international convention that sets a global uniform standard for compensating victims of nuclear accidents.
The move is in line with fears of an increasing risk of a nuclear accident abroad with developing nations accelerating their efforts to construct nuclear power plants.
The convention limits responsibility for nuclear accidents to the operator of the nuclear plant, meaning companies that manufacture nuclear plant equipment would not be liable. That provision would make it easier for Japanese manufacturers to export nuclear technology.
However, critics charge that Japan has not yet adequately assessed the reasons for the catastrophic triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in 2011 and that it is wrong to join a convention that would promote nuclear technology exports.
The Abe administration will submit a bill to the extraordinary Diet session now in progress to ratify the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC). Currently, five nations, including the United States, have ratified the treaty, which was adopted in 1997.
However, the treaty has still not entered into force because one provision has not been met–that the total installed nuclear capacity of the ratifying nations be at least 400,000 megawatts.
If Japan ratified the convention, that provision would be cleared. The United States has been lobbying Japan to join the pact. Continue reading
Is France’s Love Affair with Nuclear Over? Oil Price, By Chris Dalby | Sun, 19 October 2014 French President Francois Hollande has promised to limit the growth of the country’s nuclear power, many older reactors have been targeted for decommissioning, and Greenpeace and other environmental groups have been relentless in their anti-nuclear campaigning. But until now, it seemed unlikely that France would ever truly rethink its love affair with nuclear power.
Last week, it did. On Oct. 10, France’s parliament voted to begin moving to undo decades of nuclear growth and to reduce its importance to the country’s energy mix. Over the next 11 years, France will reduce the amount of electricity coming from nuclear by one-quarter — from 75 percent to 50 percent. To do that, estimates are that as many as 20 of France’s 58 reactors would have to be closed.
The vote was part of a package of legal reforms in France’s long-awaited energy transition law, a main pillar of which was slowing nuclear power production and then maintaining it at the new lower level before progressively lowering it over the next 10 years.
The second pillar was removing bureaucratic hurdles that prevented renewable energy projects from getting off the ground. A trial period will see wind, solar, bio-gas and small hydro projects receive streamlined authorization in seven French regions.
A comparison of the contribution of renewables versus nuclear in France’s energy mix shows the massive disparity that the government is seeking to address. In June, France had 8,592MW of onshore wind installations and 5,095MW of PV, translating to 3.8 percent and 1 percent of the country’s energy needs. This compares to 63.2GWe of nuclear capacity.
The energy transition law aims to erase this imbalance. At 50 percent of national energy production, nuclear will remain the biggest source, but will be supported by a boosted renewables sector, with wind and solar levels similar to Germany’s…………
In March, around 60 Greenpeace protesters managed to spectacularly infiltrate Fessenheim in northeastern France, the country’s oldest nuclear power plant, which is set to be decommissioned in 2016. The activists deployed a huge banner on one of Fessenheim’s reactors, reading “Stop Risking Europe”, in support of their argument that France’s aging nuclear installations put all of Europe at risk, much like Chernobyl. Europe-Ecologie Les Verts (EELV), backed the protest at the time, widening a rift with Hollande’s Socialist Party that the energy transition law hopes to close……..
the pressure is on. Germany, Belgium and Switzerland are all abandoning nuclear power. Flagship nuclear firm Areva, which builds nuclear plants around the world, is not the profit-making juggernaut it once was. Nuclear is no longer as cost-competitive as it used to be compared to natural gas, wind and PV…….http://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Nuclear-Power/Is-Frances-Love-Affair-with-Nuclear-Over.html
Japan’s nuclear restart unlikely this year, local vote expected in December http://planetark.org/enviro-news/item/72335 16-Oct-14 JAPAN Kentaro HamadaAs Japan pitches an unpopular nuclear restart to residents near Kyushu Electric Power Co’s Sendai plant, local politicians say approval is unlikely until December, delaying an already fraught process to revive the country’s idled reactors.
More than three years after the nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima, the worst disaster since Chernobyl, Japan’s nuclear plants remain offline nationwide even as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushes to restart reactors that meet new safety guidelines set by an independent regulator.
The focus has switched to townships located near the Sendai reactors, the nation’s first to receive safety clearance from regulators. The debate over restarts pits host communities that get direct benefits from siting reactors against other nearby communities that do not reap the benefits but say they will be equally exposed to radioactive releases in the event of a disaster. Continue reading
The action of the commission, although not addressing all potential impacts, is effectively saying, “so what?” “There are no significant environmental impacts from indefinite storage of used fuel.”.
Finding a permanent nuclear storage center, Aiken Standard By CLINT WOLFE Guest columnist Oct 13 2014 “……..In a meeting that took only a few minutes the Nuclear Regulatory Commission passed a ruling regarding continued used nuclear fuel storage……..
A series of court challenges over time has seen the commission stick to its so-called waste confidence rule.
This rule has at least two aspects that are pertinent to this discussion.
One is that “if you don’t have a place to put the used fuel, then you can’t make any more.”
The commission has responded in the past that they are confident that a repository would be available before it is needed and merely kept changing the date on which that would occur. This approach led to a challenge that the commission was violating the National Environmental Protection Act by proposing a significant new federal project without having determined the environmental impact. This environmental impact could be looked at in every case to significantly slow each new license application.
The commission’s recent action closes out the waste confidence rule and introduces the continued storage rule. Continue reading
EDF $27 Billion Bond Plan Offers Nuclear Blueprint: U.K. Credit http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-13/edf-s-27-billion-of-nuclear-bonds-seen-as-template-u-k-credit.html By Sally Bakewell Oct 14, 2014 Electricite de France SA’s plan to raise as much as 17 billion pounds ($27 billion) of bonds for Britain’s first nuclear project in two decades is being seen as a template for financing expansion in the industry.
EDF won approval from the European Commission last week to build the 24.5 billion-pound plant at Hinkley Point in southwest England, a year after agreeing to the project. The U.K. government will back the debt, which will be the nation’s largest bond offering on a single project, according to Deloitte LLP.
“The use of bonds with a U.K. government guarantee will be a highly influential template in the nuclear sector,”Kevin Magner, director for corporate finance in the government and infrastructure team at Deloitte, said by phone. “For projects of this sheer size which developers can’t finance on their balance sheets, they’re turning more to the bond market for large volumes of debt where the projects can achieve the necessary credit quality.”
Other nuclear projects that may follow include Hitachi Ltd.’s plan to build 5.4 gigawatts of plants at sites in Wales and south Gloucestershire, and a power station with as much as 3.4 gigawatts in west Cumbria being developed by a venture between Toshiba Corp. and GDF Suez SA, Magner said. The U.K. government announced a program in July 2012 to offer as much as 40 billion pounds in debt guarantees for infrastructure projects to lift the economy.
“There will be a big market for this debt since it’s guaranteed by the government,” Continue reading
French MPs back cut to nuclear energy reliance http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/10/us-france-energy-idUSKCN0HZ1LB20141010 (Reuters) - A law which fixes a target of reducing French nuclear power production from 75 percent of the country’s energy supplies to 50 percent by 2025 won approval from the lower house of parliament on Friday.
Its much-delayed energy transition law, steered by energy minister Segolene Royal, is being reviewed by the national assembly under a fast-track procedure, to counter the thousands of amendments proposed by opposition MPs. Although the bill skirts the question of how the reduction in theshare of nuclear energy is supposed to happen — it does not single out any reactor for closure, for instance – it caps nuclear electricity capacity at the current 63.2 gigawatts.
That would force EDF, which operates all of France’s nuclear reactors, to close an equivalent capacity when it launches the 1.6 gigawatt next-generation Flamanville reactor, due in 2016.
Royal said earlier this week the utility could choose to close another plant than Fessenheim, France’s oldest and the one Hollande had promised to shut down.
The whole bill is expected to be approved next Tuesday before being sent to the country’s upper house early next year, with the view to final adoption in the spring, in time for a high-profile climate conference hosted in Paris in 2015.
The bill also introduced a goal to halve the country’s energy consumption between 2012 and 2050, with a midway target of a 20 percent cut by 2030, thanks to tax rebates on insulation work and bonuses for electric car buyers.
France’s energy deficit — the difference between the money it spends on energy imports such as oil and gas and the money it earns on exports such as electricity — amounted to 66 billion euros ($83 billion) in 2013.
That compares with a wider trade deficit of 62.2 billion euros.
(Reporting by Emile Picy; Writing by Michel Rose; editing by Keith Weir)
Germany: Exiting coal-fired energy at same time as nuclear impossible http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/383277/economy/business/germany-exiting-coal-fired-energy-at-same-time-as-nuclear-impossible October 12, 2014 BERLIN – Germany dismissed on Sunday a report suggesting it planned to exit coal-fired power generation in order to protect the climate, saying this would impose too great a burden on industry as the country is also phasing out nuclear energy.
Der Spiegel weekly said Economy and Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel was planning a medium-term exit from coal due to environmental concerns. Its report cited no sources.
“For a country like Germany with a strong industrial base, exiting nuclear and coal-fired power generation at the same time would not be possible,” a spokeswoman for his ministry said in an emailed statement.
Germany, Europe’s largest economy, is currently going through an “Energiewende”, an energy shift which moves the country towards renewable sources following a decision to phase out nuclear power by 2022.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government wants renewable energies to make up 40-45 percent of German energy consumption by 2025 and 55-60 percent by 2035. The Spiegel report said the government wanted to remove 10 gigawatts of coal-fired power generation, equivalent to around two dozen small power plants, from the network.
The ministry spokeswoman said it was first and foremost for the operators to decide which plants to shut down and they must then apply for approval to the federal network agency.
“It’s clear, though, that the conventional generation system must adapt to the needs of the Energiewende,” she added.
Coal-fired power accounted for around 45 percent of German power generation in 2013. — Reuters
Friday’s vote is part of an ambitious makeover of France’s energy use promised by President Francois Hollande during his 2012 election campaign.
The measure calls for renewables to increase in the energy mix for electricity production, rising from 23 per cent in 2020 to 32 per cent in 2030.
Use of fossil fuels should drop to around 30 per cent.
The measure also sets a goal for a reduction of 40 per cent in greenhouse gas emissions from the 1990 levels by 2030 and a 75 per cent reduction in 2050. t also targets a 20 per cent reduction in energy consumation by 2030, in line with a draft project EU leaders are set to consider at an October 23-24 summit in Brussels…http://www.businessspectator.com.au/news/2014/10/10/resources-and-energy/french-parliament-backs-nuclear-cuts
Sweden faces future without nuclear, World Nuclear news, 01 October 2014 Sweden may be facing the phase out of nuclear power following agreement by the country’s Social Democrats and their junior coalition partner, the Green Party, to set up an energy commission tasked with achieving a 100% renewable electricity system. ………Social Democrat leader Stefan Lofven said in a statement today: “Sweden has very good potential to expand renewable energy through our good access to water, wind and forests. In time, Sweden will have an energy system with 100% renewable energy.”….
The parties said in separate, but identical statements that nuclear power should be replaced with renewable energy and energy efficiency. The goal, they said, should be at least 30 TWh of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020. A goal for 2030 has yet to be set, they added. Support for offshore wind and solar power are needed “in addition”, they said.
Nuclear power “should bear a greater share of its economic cost”, they said. “Safety requirements should be strengthened and the nuclear waste fee increased.”
Nuclear power trumps democracy http://www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/commentators/2587477/nuclear_power_trumps_democracy.html Donnachadh McCarthy 9th October 2014
The UK’s political mainstream has performed a complete U-Turn in policy on nuclear power, culminating yesterday in the European Commission’s approval of a £15-20 billion subsidy package for the Hinckley C project. Donnachadh McCarthy delves into the nuclear industry’s deep and far-reaching political links.
Why is our democracy failing to tackle the horrific urgency of the climate crisis and the decimation of our eco-systems?
And why are all the main political parties betting the farm on nuclear power in spite of its madhouse economics – and against all their promises to either oppose nuclear power altogether, or to refuse subsidies for it?
In my new book, The Prostitute State – How Britain’s Democracy Has Been Bought, I set out my view that there is a single problem at the root of our nation’s difficulties.
A corporate elite have hijacked the pillars of Britain’s democracy. The production of thought, the dissemination of thought, the implementation of thought and the wealth arising from those thoughts, are now controlled by a tiny, staggeringly rich elite.
As a result the UK is no longer a functioning democracy but has become a ‘Prostitute State’ built on four pillars: a corrupted political system, a prostituted media, a perverted academia and a thieving tax-haven system.
This has disastrously resulted in a flood of wealth from the poor and middle classes to the top 1%. This stolen wealth is built on the destruction of the planet’s ecosystems, which are essential for humanity’s survival.
Nuclear power defeats democracy
The reversal of government policy on nuclear power is a classic example of how the Prostitute State trumps democracy. Betrayed environmental activists must understand that – notwithstanding the noble form of democratic structures – what they are really up against is a corrupt corporate state.
The concept of lobbying is reasonably well known, but few of us understand how far lobbying has penetrated and hijacked the political parties themselves.
For example, most people are perplexed at how the nuclear industry managed to persuade the UK’s previous Labour government to build a fleet of hugely expensive experimental nuclear power stations on land prone to flooding from rising sea levels.
They also struggle to comprehend and why Labour’s shadow energy and climate change minister, Caroline Flint MP, having stated that she would only support nuclear power if built without public subsidies, now supports the £15-20 billion subsidy package for Hinkley C nuclear power station
Labour managed managed this policy U-Turn despite the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear catastrophes; the failure to find safe waste-disposal sites capable of protecting radioactive waste for over 100,000 years; and insurance companies’ point blank refusal to provide nuclear accident insurance.
It’s the money, stupid
My simple answer is that the nuclear industry has poured millions of pounds year after year into a massive political lobbying campaign.
They bought a whole swathe of senior ex-politicians to work as nuclear lobbyists, spent a fortune on trying to manipulate public opinion through media and advertising, and even funded school trips to their nuclear plants.
As they managed to persuade a Labour government to abandon their 1997 election manifesto commitment to oppose new nuclear power stations, it is crucial to understand how deeply the nuclear lobby is embedded in the Labour party.
My personal belief is that a complex web of financial interests ensured that the Labour government served the nuclear industry – no matter what Labour party members or the British public wanted.
Just consider for example the following list of Labour Party politicians: Continue reading
South Korean town votes no to nuclear plant WP, By Associated Press October 9 SEOUL, South Korea — Voters in a South Korean city have rejected plans to build a nuclear power plant in a referendum the government says has no legal effect.
Thursday’s vote in Samcheok, on South Korea’s east coast, went as expected following this year’s election of a mayor who wants the government to scrap nuclear plant……..“I will persuade the national government based on this result,” the Samcheok mayor, Kim Yang-ho, told Yonhap News Agency. “I hope the government’s policy will reflect Samcheok citizens’ real opinion.”……..
Some 85 percent of the 28,867 residents who cast ballots said no, according to a volunteer committee set up to administer the referendum after election authorities refused. Out of 42,488 who registered to take part, turnout was 68 percent……http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/south-korean-town-votes-no-to-nuclear-plant/2014/10/09/1d3d23ce-5023-11e4-877c-335b53ffe736_story.html
Nuclear Deal With Russia Brings Political Storm Clouds in South Africa VOA October 09, 2014 JOHANNESBERG, SOUTH AFRICA— Opposition lawmakers are crying foul about a multibillion-dollar nuclear power deal with Russia, saying the agreement could give Moscow the power to veto South African trade with other nuclear providers.The Sept. 22 strategic partnership, signed on the sidelines of the International Atomic Energy Agency conference in Vienna, comes as Moscow has sought to boost lucrative exports of nuclear equipment, technology and expertise in recent years…….
Lance Greyling, a top lawmaker with the opposition party Democratic Alliance, said there was confusion about the Sept. 22 deal. A draft agreement signed last year gave Russia the power to veto South African trade with other nuclear providers, party officials have said.
- “What the government is saying at the moment is that they’ve just signed a framework agreement with Russia and that there will still be a procurement process that is followed,” he told VOA on Oct. 3. “But what we are unclear about is what exactly is in this framework agreement, and the fact that they’re not willing to show it to us makes us highly suspicious.”…..
- If the government has nothing to hide in the deal then it needs to share details of the arrangement with lawmakers, Greyling said…….
South Africa is “going the nuclear route”, according to the Department of Energy’s acting director-general, Dr Wolsey Barnard. But given Eskom’s dire financial predicament, the government is opting for a “vendor-financed” option.
We should applaud the fact that Eskom, probably, will not be building South Africa’s next power station.
The delays and cost overruns associated with Medupi and Kusile demonstrate it’s not competent as a project manager for the building of such large plants.
However, the decision to “go nuclear” has more to do with politics than economics. Nuclear is costly – given the dramatic fall in gas prices, a private enterprise would not build a nuclear plant in the current operating environment. And nuclear will take too long to deliver – South Africa needs power sooner rather than later. Continue reading
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