The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Nuclear giants AREVA and Hitachi to help dismantle Japan’s nuclear recators

French group to help Japan dismantle nuclear reactors November 26, 2015   French nuclear giant Areva said Thursday it had linked up with Hitachi GE Nuclear Energy to help Japan dismantle boiling-water nuclear power stations. Following a massive accident at the Fukushima reactor, hit by a tsunami in 2011, Japan said it would shut down 11 nuclear reactors, although it has put two back on stream this year.

Areva was involved in the Fukushima clean-up, but that reactor is not covered by the new agreement, the French group said in a statement. It has been working with Hitachi to improve Japanese reactors’ safety for the past two years.

Areva’s role will now be to participate in preliminary studies for dismantling boiling-water reactors.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has been pushing for a return to nuclear  to generate electricity after Japan’s several dozen  went offline in the wake of the 2011 disaster.

The resource-poor nation’s energy bill has soared since it was forced to turn to fossil-fuel imports to plug the gap.

But the Japanese public remains wary of atomic power, and Abe’s push has prompted rare protests and damaged his popularity.

November 27, 2015 Posted by | decommission reactor, France, Japan | Leave a comment

France’s new energy law to drastically limit electricity from nuclear power

radiation-sign-sadflag-franceFrance’s nuclear industry on back foot over new energy law, Michael Stothard in Paris ,26 Nov 15  Designed to shift France on to a greener footing ahead of next week’s climate change conference in Paris, the adoption of a new energy law has instead alarmed the country’s powerful nuclear industry and raised fundamental questions about the country’s energy mix.

The long-awaited energy transition law was finally passed with nearly 1,000 amendments and after a gruelling 150 hours of parliamentary debate.

Under the controversial legislation parliamentarians agreed to drastically reduce the country’s output of nuclear energy from 75 per cent of the current total to 50 per cent by 2025. They also committed to sizeable increases in the use of renewable energy to make up for the shortfall in nuclear energy production and targeted a 40 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Overall energy consumption would fall by a fifth by 2030 under the new law……..
The energy debate has raised questions about the future of France’s nuclear industry, long a source of national pride, and comes on the eve of a climate conference in Paris aimed at reaching a new global accord on reducing carbon emissions.“All the world is watching,” said Ségolène Royal, France’s energy minister, at a climate change event this month in Paris. “Changing the way we consume energy is key to our preparation for the climate summit.”……

November 27, 2015 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

EDF removes employees, fears radicalisation at nuclear facilities

Nuclear Free by 2045?   Nuclear power can’t avoid Islamic radicals*

translation of:
Le Journal du Dimanche (Sunday Journal) by Matthieu Pechberty November 22, 2015
safety-symbol1flag-franceRadicalization has affected nuclear power plants operated by EDF (Électricité de France). Authorities have already withdrawn access for dozens of employees since the beginning of the year.
Since the attacks [November 13, 2015], state authorities are on the lookout as they face a rise in Islamic radicalization at EDF sites. During a meeting of the High Commission for Transparency and Information on Nuclear Security (HCTISN), the high commissioner for defense of nuclear security, Christophe Quintin, acknowledged, without being more precise, that employees are being refused access to nuclear power plants notably for reasons related to Islamic radicalization. Michel Lallier, representative of the CGT [labor union] (Confédération Général de Travail) confirmed, “He certainly spoke of radicalization, even if his response was evasive. We’ll never know exactly what the security concern was.”

At this meeting, Mr. Quintin’s assistant, Colonel Riac, emphasized the justification for the lack of transparency of the authorities. A Greenpeace representative who was at the meeting, Yannick Rousselet, said, “He clearly said he would not state the reasons for the denial of access to an employee. It could be because he frequented a radical milieu. He even acknowledged that these people have not committed any offense and the judgment process is somewhat arbitrary.” The two officials were contacted, but did not return calls.
An employee at Flamanville targeted by DGSI
On November 4th, Christophe Quintin made an important announcement. At a lunch conference devoted to information on nuclear sites, one of the attendees reported that Mr. Quintin told the invited group that he estimated “the services eject one person per week for the phenomenon of radicalization.” He explained that this surveillance applied to French workers but less so to foreign workers and workers subcontracted by EDF. Each year, the services of the state make 100,000 administrative inquiries for 73,000 workers (of which 23,000 are contractors)………
In August 2014, a Muslim engineer employed by an EDF subcontractor was denied access to the nuclear power plant at Nogent-sur-Seine. There again, the prefecture did not explain its motives for the decision, but religion was at the heart of it. One year ago, Belgian authorities discovered that a person who left to fight in Syria had spent several years working as an engineer at the Doel NPP with access to the reactor. The plant is operated by the French company Engie (formerly GDF Suez).

November 25, 2015 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

France’s nuclear company EDF increases security following the Paris attacks

safety-symbol1flag-franceEDF boosts nuclear plant security after Paris attacks France’s EDF has increased security at its nuclear plants following the Paris attacks in which 130 people died last week, the head of the state-controlled utility said on Tuesday.

“We are in a state of extreme vigilance on all our sites,” Jean-Bernard Levy said on France 2 television.

EDF operates 58 reactors at 19 nuclear plants across France, which relies on atomic energy for about three quarters of its electricity.

Levy said EDF had been on “maximum alert” since the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris in January and that it made systematic background checks on all people who work in its nuclear installations, both its own staff and outside contractors.

November 25, 2015 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

Increasing risk of sabotage by extremists working in the nuclear industry

safety-symbol-SmWorking in Nuclear while Muslim , Nuclear Free by 2045?, 24 Nov 15  Since the inception of nuclear energy, anti-nuclear critics have been warning about the vulnerability of nuclear power plants to deliberate sabotage. Recent events indicate that we are moving closer to a period of global instability in which state governments cannot protect against non-state actors who will deliberately or unintentionally create a nuclear disaster.

This week a group of Tatar radicals attacked electricity transmission lines in Ukraine which deliver power to Crimea. The government of Ukraine has a well-known dispute with Russia over its claim to Crimea, but it likely had no intention of committing such a war crime that would endanger the lives of millions of civilians and create further tensions with Russia. The narrow-minded attackers were apparently unaware of the effect their assault would have on Ukrainian nuclear power plants, but nonetheless two of them were cut off from the electrical grid and had to use backup power. A report in Russia Today quoted a Ukrainian energy company official about the seriousness of the situation:
The apparent act of sabotage in Ukraine’s Kherson region forced an emergency power unloading at several Ukrainian nuclear power plants, which can be extremely dangerous, according to the first deputy director of Ukraine’s energy company Ukrenergo, Yuriy Katich. [1]
It was backup power that was famously lost at Fukushima-Daiichi, leading to the meltdown of three reactor cores and a melting of spent fuel in the Reactor 4 building. Thus these plants in Ukraine are just one step away from meltdown, but it is likely in this case that backup power can be maintained until the transmission towers are repaired. Yet the incident highlights how things will go worse in the future when a similar event occurs in a failing state where fuel for backup generators can’t be supplied on time and the main transmission lines can’t be repaired.
Social instability is also a factor now in France. The attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015 highlighted the inability of security agencies to identify and break up groups of French citizens who are intent on committing acts of mass violence. If they couldn’t be found in the suburbs of Paris, how can we be sure that they will be found among people who work at nuclear power plants? This issue came to light in a report published in Le Journal du Dimanche on November 22, 2015 (translated below). It was reported that French security agencies have been using religious affiliation as a reason to deny access to nuclear power plants.
Everyone would like to keep NPPs safe from malicious attack, but there are serious problems involved in trying to eliminate all risks. The security agencies are using affiliations as the basis of exclusion, without any official charge of criminal intent or conspiracy. Thus if an enterprise is so dangerous that large segments of society have to be denied the right to work in it, in the vain hope that doing so will prevent sabotage, it is worth asking whether this enterprise should exist at all. Is there a safer way to boil water or to produce electricity without boiling water?

November 25, 2015 Posted by | France, safety, World | Leave a comment

France still keen to market nukes to South Africa

Hollande-salesFRANCE STILL KEEN ON SA’S NUCLEAR POWER DEAL French Foreign Minister says France named a special envoy to make the pitch to supply SA’s needs. Jean-Jacques Cornish | about 13 hours ago

PRETORIA – French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says his country is still willing to take part in South Africa’s nuclear power project despite reports of a deal being made with Russia.

He told President Jacob Zuma France has named a special envoy to make the pitch to supply South Africa’s needs. Fabius says the purpose of his talks with Zuma yesterday was to ensure South African participation in the climate change summit in Paris at the end of this month.

But he took the opportunity in their Pretoria meeting to assure the South African president that France has the competency to supply and install the nuclear power station it’s looking for.

Despite reports that Russia has already clinched the deal with South Africa, France does not regard this as a fair accomplishment. (Edited by Winnie Theletsane)

November 23, 2015 Posted by | France, marketing | Leave a comment

Employee-shareholders of EDF call for halt to too-costly British Hinkley Point nuclear project

thumbs-downtext Hinkley cancelledHinkley Point nuclear plan puts survival of EDF at risk, say employee shareholders

French energy firm should halt expensive UK project in which it has has nothing to gain and everything to lose, says association of employee-shareholders EDF’s £18bn project to build two nuclear reactors in Hinkley Point, Britain, is so expensive and so risky that it puts the survival of the French utility at risk, an association of employee-shareholders said on Thursday.

EDF Actionnariat salarié (EAS) said in a statement that the interests of EDF are gravely threatened by the Hinkley Point project, which it calls “a financial catastrophy foretold” in which EDF has nothing to gain and everything to lose.

“EAS asks the management of EDF to stop this risky project, whose financial risks are to big for our company and which could put EDF’s very survival at risk,” the association said.

EDF staff own 1.72% of the utility’s capital, making employees the second-largest shareholder after the state, which hold 84.5%, according to ThomsonReuters data.

Last month, EDF announced a partnership with Chinese utility CGN to build Hinkley Point, but the two companies have not yet made the final investment decision to go ahead with the project, which EDF reluctantly agreed to finance on its already stretched balance sheet after other partners pulled out.

EDF, which already has to borrow money every year to pay its dividend, faces a €55bn (£39bn) upgrade of its nuclear fleet over the next decade, will spend some €5bn to install Linky smart meters in coming years and needs to invest billions in the reactor unit of Areva, which it plans to buy next year.

Standard & Poor’s last month warned that it might downgrade EDF’s debt if it goes ahead with Hinkley Point, because of the project’s high execution risks and substantial investment needs.

November 14, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, France, UK | Leave a comment

France’s effort to market nuclear technology to South Africa

Hollande-salesFrance seeks to win over SA on nuclear energy, Business Day, BY SISEKO NJOBENI, NOVEMBER 06 2015 AMID speculation about SA’s nuclear build programme, the French special envoy for the French-South African nuclear partnership Pascal Colombani is in the country punting his country for the highly anticipated programme.

During his two-day visit to the country, Mr Colombani is scheduled to have meetings “at the political level” as well with relevant public enterprises such as Eskom and the South African Nuclear Energy Co-operation (Necsa). However, he would not say who he was scheduled to meet in government.

“This is my first visit since I have been appointed by President (François) Hollande as his special envoy for the nuclear partnership with SA. Therefore, the overall purpose of my visit is to scale up our co-operation into a long-term strategic partnership in nuclear energy with SA,” Mr Colombani told Fin24.

He said France and SA shared ambitious goals for the development of nuclear energy, “which should become one key component of our strategic partnership”.

Mr Colombani said France was ready to scale up the co-operation between the two countries into a strategic long-term partnership, by supporting the development of SA’s new nuclear programme. Technology, training and safety were at the core of this partnership, he said……

November 7, 2015 Posted by | France, marketing, South Africa | Leave a comment

France invites China in, to save failed nuclear corporation AREVA

Buy-China-nukes-1France’s nuclear-reactor maker Areva open to Chinese funds, says French President Francois Hollande, South China Morning Post,   Zhen 3 Nov 15 It’s natural to involve China in Areva’s planned restructuring as the two nations cooperate to build nuclear plants, says French President French President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday that France welcomed Chinese investment in its state-owned nuclear-reactor maker Areva, as he wrapped up his two-day trip to China.

“We welcome foreign capital in the Areva restructuring. It would not affect our sovereignty,” Hollande said in Beijing.

On Monday, Areva and the China National Nuclear Corporation signed a memorandum of understanding for possible partnership on nuclear-waste recycling that could be worth €20 billion (HK$171 billion).

Hollande said that as China and France had become partners building nuclear plants together in Britain and China, it was natural to have the Chinese in the Areva recapitalisation. Last month, French utility company EDF came to an agreement with Chinese nuclear company CGN to jointly build the Hinkley Point nuclear plants in Britain.

Despite the continuous nuclear cooperation, Hollande said his two-day China trip focused more on climate change issues to ensure success in the upcoming UN round of climate talks to be held in Paris next month……..

November 4, 2015 Posted by | China, France, politics international | Leave a comment

Sell EDF shares, because of Hinkley nuclear costs – says leading broker

cliff-money-nuclearBroker tells investors to sell EDF shares because of Hinkley Point costs,   Guardian, , 22 Oct 15, 

Investec Securities has ‘long-term concerns’ about financial strain the £18bn nuclear project will put the French energy group under.A leading City broker has called on investors to sell their shares in EDF, saying it has “long-term concerns” about the financial stresses on the French energy group from the £18bn Hinkley Point C nuclear project in Somerset.

The sell note from Investec Securities comes a day after EDF signed a deal with China General Nuclear Corporation and said it would start work within weeks on the UK’s first new nuclear plant for 20 years.

The government has finally admitted what had been denied for years – that the contract for difference aid mechanism for the power station is effectively a state subsidy.

The fine print of a formal document from the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: “The government confirms that it is not continuing the ‘no public subsidy policy’ of the previous administration.”

Coalition ministers always argued that any new nuclear plants would only be constructed if they could be done without subsidy.

“A long-dated project is the last thing that EDF needs, given the existing pressures on its balance sheet. Unless favourable disposals materialise, we fear the dividend will be a casualty,” said a research note from Harold Hutchison, utility analyst with Investec.

EDF, which is largely owned by the French state, has still not taken an irreversible investment decision or received the final documentation from the government on the controversial subsidy system.

But the state visit to Britain of the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, was used as a platform to effectively launch the Hinkley scheme that EDF now says will be funded by debt and not underwritten by UK government guarantees.

Investec believes this will be difficult for EDF at a time when a new French energy law means the company must close some of its power stations while being encouraged to bail out its troubled engineering partner, Areva, through a merger.

EDF is also under financial stress because a new nuclear plant at Flamanville in Normandy, north-west France, has run far over budget and been hit by delays.

Opinion is polarised about whether Hinkley will provide useful baseload low carbon power or is a white elephant project that is far too expensive and stands little chance of being constructed on time. The first of two reactors is scheduled to open in 2025 and in theory could provide 7% of the UK’s electricity 24 hours a day for 35 years.

October 24, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, France, UK | Leave a comment

Nuclear energy falls from France’s pride and joy, to its expensive source of woe

plants-downTale of woe in French nuclear sector,, October 13, 2015,  Michael Stothard    Broken government promises, multibillion-euro delays and a key national champion rescued from the brink of failure: it has been a torrid year for the proud French nuclear industry.

Problems came to a head in August when Areva, the designer and builder of nuclear reactors around the world, was forced to strike a multibillion-euro rescue package deal with rival group EDF and the French government. It had been hit by foreign competition, the downturn in global nuclear demand following the 2011 Fukushima disaster and cost overruns. It had not sold a new reactor since 2007. It urgently needed to be put back on a “sound footing” to keep nuclear a “strength for our country,” said Manuel Valls, French prime minister, before the deal to sell much of the company to EDF………

The country is also a torchbearer for nuclear power as part of the European energy mix when many countries have retrenched following Fukushima. “There’s no doubt the global nuclear industry, including in France, is challenged and it is asking itself some profound questions since Fukushima,” says Jean-Marc Ollagnier, chief executive of Accenture’s resources operating group.

But for French nuclear the past five years have been a tale of technical problems and cost overruns that brought Areva to its knees and called into question the country’s ability to deliver on next generation technology.

……..The final problem came in April when the French nuclear regulator discovered flawed steel in EDF’s reactor in Flamanville, prompting EDF to carry out tests………

These construction problems highlight the complexity of the EPR projects, and have led some to question if there is demand for these larger reactors, given their cost and size. The questions come at the same time as internal political ones, as France attempts to reduce its reliance on nuclear power.

President François Hollande, due to a deal struck between the anti-nuclear Green party and his ruling pro-nuclear Socialist party, has promised to reduce nuclear in the French energy mix from 75 to 50 per cent by 2025…….. Even if no plants are shut down for political reasons in the lead-up to 2025 there are still decisions to be made, all of which are likely to be expensive.

The grand carénage, increasing the life expectancy of the 30-year-old plants from their current 40 years to 50 years, is expected to cost EDF around €55bn, should it ever win political approval. Closing one nuclear plant has already proved difficult. Decommissioning Fessenheim, France’s oldest reactor on the German border, was promised by the government to happen by 2016. This year it was delayed until Flamanville comes online in 2018, leaving the government accused of breaking its promises……..

October 14, 2015 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

Rating agencies warn EDF of downgrade, if they continue with Hinkley nuclear station plan

scrutiny-on-costsEDF faces threat of credit downgrade over Hinkley Point Two of the world’s biggest ratings agencies have warned that EDF and its Chinese partners face credit-rating downgrades if they press ahead with a £16 billion nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

Amid growing doubts about the deal, Moody’s said the project would have a “credit negative effect” on the companies because of the dangers of big cost overruns and delays to EDF’s untested EPR French reactor technology……. (subscribers only) .

October 7, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, France, UK | Leave a comment

France’s nuclear corporation AREVA is still there – only just

AREVA crumblingAreva still standing despite turbulent times News Advance October 3, 2015 Jason Ruiter Like an eroding plateau, the nuclear industry sloughed off a section of its market share – but it still stands.

Areva announced a loss of $5.3 billion in global income in 2014 from the year prior, resulting in a loss of roughly several hundred employees in the Lynchburg area and a need to consolidate, adopt austerity measures and sell a chunk of its business to Électricité de France, the largest utility in France which is also majority-owned by the French government. The power plant business segment of Areva – which employs most Areva Lynchburg employees and constructs, designs and services nuclear plants – will sell 75 percent of the company to EDF for an injection of equity into the business…….

survival came at a cost: Areva NA introduced an advanced severance package to qualified employees to retire early in addition to cutting 22 jobs in the area last fall. Last year, Areva, one of the biggest employers in the region, reported about 1,800 employees in the area. This year, they have about 1,500, a decrease of about 16 percent. For the North America continent, those numbers are steeper, decreasing roughly 20 percent from 5,000 full-time and part-time employees to “closer to 4,000,” Mignogna said……

“Debt is due now,” Mignogna said. “So the [French] government had to react now and try to work out a deal where we could get some cash inflow to the company and they chose to do that.” The result was the EDF purchase of Areva’s power plant operations, which will be consummated by the end of 2016.

Just how much Areva will be changed through the purchase by EDF is unclear. Mignogna said that due to anti-trust considerations, where Areva will be providing services to EDF’s competitors, the North American portion will be operated at “arm’s length.” But he wasn’t sure if Areva’s name will be changed to EDF as a result……..

October 7, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, France | Leave a comment

France hoping to get Japan to help save failed nuclear company AREVA

AREVA crumblingNuclear energy on agenda during French PM’s trip to Japan French Prime Minister Manuel Valls rounded off a three-day visit to Japan with bilateral talks on the nuclear sector.

It follows an announcement in September by Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries stating it was considering taking a stake in Areva NP, the reactor-making subsidiary of French nuclear company Areva. In July, French energy giant EDF agreed to buy between 51 and 75 percent of the subsidiary. At the time it announced it would be looking for partners to take a minority stake.

Valls formally asked his counterpart Shinzo Abe for Japan’s help in reorganising France’s nuclear sector……

October 7, 2015 Posted by | France, Japan, politics international | Leave a comment

France’s EDF does a policy U-turn – now investing in renewables

renewables-not-nukesflag-franceShifting focus: Owner of world’s largest nuclear fleet looks to renewable energy, Fierce Energy September 24, 2015 By William Pentland EDF, the state-controlled electric utility company based in Paris, France, is pinning its hopes for growth on renewable energy investments, including investments in markets outside of Europe. “By 2030, we want to have a significant presence in three to five countries outside of Europe, notably in solar and wind,” said Jean-Bernard Levy, chief executive officer of Electricite de France SA (EDF), in an interview with the French financial daily newspaper,Les Echos.

EDF owns and operates the world’s largest fleet of nuclear reactors. Currently, 95 percent of the French utility’s generating assets are located in either France, Britain or Italy. Levy said EDF would ramp up investments in renewable energy in these markets.

“Our objective is to double our European and French renewables fleet by 2030 from 28 to more than 50 gigawatts,” Levy said.

This strategy departs markedly from the strategy articulated by Levy’s predecessor, Henri Proglio.

While speaking at the Eurelectric conference in June 2014, Poglio said that the European Union needed to assert greater “control” over the pace of renewable energy growth………

September 25, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, France | Leave a comment


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