The China syndrome, Economist, 25 Sept 15 Britain’s nuclear plans look over-expensive and over-reliant on China “…….. Already the £24.5 billion project to build a nuclear power station called Hinkley Point C in Somerset is expected to finish over-budget and beyond the projected start date of 2023, if it ever starts at all. But on September 21st, after unveiling in Beijing a £2 billion inducement to China to help finance Britain’s first reactor in 20 years, George Osborne exposed himself to further criticism. The country should lead the way on nuclear power as it did in the 1950s, he said. But the implication was, it could only do it with China’s help (see Bagehot).
Critics say this reveals a whiff of desperation about the government’s bet on a nuclear renaissance, ………
Analysts say Mr Osborne is engaged in a complex manoeuvre to ensure that two Chinese firms help finance EDF. The £2 billion guarantee is one inducement. Another is an offer for China to build a reactor of its own at Bradwell in Essex. That has set off further alarm bells, though. Not only would it test confidence in Britain’s Office for Nuclear Regulation, it would also put a critical part of the nuclear industry and the national grid into Chinese hands.
Roland Vetter of CF Partners, an energy trader, doubts a go-ahead for the China project will come soon; licensing new nuclear technology in Britain takes years. It could be a strategic gambit, though. EDF’s boss in Britain, Vincent de Rivaz, notes that British and French companies are keen to help China, which has an ambitious programme of its own to build nuclear power plants. Mr Osborne may also calculate that Hinkley Point will create numerous jobs and building opportunities, the economic benefits of which would accrue quickly.
The costs, meanwhile, would not become apparent until the plant is completed and bills rise. Future governments would reap the fallout, not this one. http://www.economist.com/news/britain/21667932-britains-nuclear-plans-look-over-expensive-and-over-reliant-china-china-syndrome
Corbyn says Labour and SNP will join forces to oppose nuclear deterrent. Irish Times, 25 Sept 15 Labour leader’s opposition to Trident puts him at odds with many in his own party The British Labour Party will work with the Scottish nationalists to try to block the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent in a parliamentary vote due next year, Labour’s new leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said on Friday.
The Conservative government backs the multibillion-pound renewal of Britain’s ageing fleet of nuclear-armed submarines. It has a slim majority in parliament, so some of prime minister David Cameron’s own MPs, as well as other opposition parties, would have to join with Labour and the SNP to defeat the plans.
The Scottish National Party, which won 56 out of 59 seats in Scotland in the general election in May, has long opposed renewing the weapons and had called on veteran antiwar campaigner Mr Corbyn to support them.
“My position on Trident has been very clear all of my life. I am opposed to nuclear weapons,” Mr Corbyn, who was elected as Labour’s leader earlier this month, told BBC Scotland.
“Trident should go. I do not believe that it is a form of defence. I do not believe it is something that anyone in their proper mind would ever want to use.”
Labour’s existing position is to back the renewal of Trident, although it has previously suggested reducing the number of submarines to three from four……..http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/uk/corbyn-says-labour-and-snp-will-join-forces-to-oppose-nuclear-deterrent-1.2366935
What does all this add up to? The government, its Treasury department, its Chancellor George Osborne and its energy department, DECC, are grossly and presumably knowingly misrepresenting the relative costs of renewable energy and nuclear power.
And it’s all part of plan to force upon us a new generation of hyper-expensive nuclear power plants that will cost energy users through the nose until 2060 and beyond, putting the country on a ‘back to the future’ path to the 1950s, while wiser nations reap the benefits of cheap, clean renewable energy.
They must be stopped. And shame upon them!
Nuclear Lies About Renewable Energy http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/09/24/nuclear-lies-about-renewable-energy/ by OLIVER TICKELL There’s no doubt about it. The British Government is spreading untruths about the price of renewable energy.
Is it deliberate? One can only assume so owing to the consistency of the pattern and the equally consistent refusal to explain or correct its misleading statements.
The context is also significant: it’s always in the context of supporting nuclear power over renewable energy sources. Continue reading
Delays and cost overruns that have dogged two nuclear reactors being built in France and Finland have deterred investors from joining a £24bn project to build a plant at Hinkley Point.
French utility EDF is in advanced talks with two Chinese partners — China General Nuclear Corporation and China National Nuclear Corporation — over their final shares of construction spending and roles in the building of up to three nuclear plants in the UK. An agreement could be reached this year.
But Jean-Bernard Levy, EDF chief executive, told Les Echos, the French financial daily newspaper, that it had been unable to secure the support of other investors after persistent problems with the proposed European pressurised reactor design………http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/67001140-6208-11e5-9846-de406ccb37f2.html#axzz3mgxe3MV2
Only China wants to invest in Britain’s new £2bn Hinkley Point nuclear plant because no one else thinks it will work, EDF admits Investors put off by problems facing nuclear reactors under construction in France and Finland Geert De Clercq Wednesday 23 September 2015 Delays and cost overruns at two nuclear reactors under construction in France and Finland have made potential investors wary of joining a consortium led by France’s EDF for a similar project in Britain, EDF’s chief executive has admitted…….http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/only-china-wants-to-invest-in-britains-new-2bn-hinkley-point-nuclear-plant-because-no-one-else-10513752.html
In Courting Chinese Companies, Britain to Help Fund Planned Nuclear Plant NYT, By STANLEY REED SEPT. 20, 2015 LONDON — The British government said on Monday that it would provide 2 billion pounds, or about $3.1 billion, in state aid for a nuclear power station planned for Hinkley Point in southwest England.
The announcement of financial support — which was made by George Osborne, the chancellor of the Exchequer, on a visit to China — appeared to be a confidence-building measure aimed at wrapping up a deal, years in gestation, to build Britain’s first nuclear plant since the mid-1990s.
“They are edging toward trying to sign a deal, but it is taking a long time,” said Antony Froggatt, a nuclear analyst at Chatham House, a London research organization.
The British government said that it expected EDF, the French state-controlled utility leading the project, to make a final decision later this year to go ahead with the plant. If EDF moves forward, it will be supported by two Chinese companies, China General Nuclear Corporation and China National Nuclear Corporation, the government said. Mr. Osborne has been courting Chinese companies to help finance the new Hinkley Point station, which will cost at least £16 billion…….
In trying to build nuclear plants, Britain is bucking the trend in the West. ……
The British government is not only offering financing to help with the construction but has guaranteed EDF a much higher price for the electricity it generates than current market rates. The government also says that it may increase financial support for the plant as the project progresses. Last year, the European Union approved Britain’s use of state aid to finance the plant……Still, Britain’s effort to build nuclear plants has proceeded at what seems a glacial pace. The Hinkley Point project is already several years behind its original schedule.
Centrica, a British utility, walked away from an option to take a 20 percent stake in Hinkley Point and another nuclear plant, citing frustration over delay and costs. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/21/business/energy-environment/britain-says-it-will-aid-planned-nuclear-plant.html?_r=1
The Ultimate Weapon of War: Nuclear Land Mines? National Interest, Matthew Gault, 20 Sept 15 Land mines and nukes are two of the most terrifying weapons of war — for two very different reasons. Nuclear weapons can wipe out entire cities, and land mines wait buried in the earth, ready to harm anyone who wanders too close.
In the 1950s, Britain tried to combine the two into a nuclear mine … with chickens as a heating source. Yes, this was actually proposed. But we’ll get to the chickens in a moment. The Blue Peacock would have been one of the worst kinds of Cold War weapons — a nuke the enemy doesn’t know you have. The United Kingdom sought to develop and deploy 10 nuclear mines. Once completed, it would ship the nightmare weapons to the British Army of the Rhine — the U.K.’s occupation force in Germany.
The BAOR would then plant the landmines along the East German border in the north and detonate them should the Soviets ever try to cross the Iron Curtain. The project’s primary goal wasn’t to kill Soviet soldiers — though the blasts certainly could — but to irradiate and contaminate the North German Plain so Moscow’s troops couldn’t occupy it.
“A skillfully sited atomic mine would not only destroy facilities and installations over a large area, but would deny occupation of the area to an enemy for an appreciable time due to contamination,” explained a Cold War era policy paper unearthed by Discovery.
Scientists based the Blue Peacock’s design on Britain’s first atomic weapon — the Blue Danube. The Danubes were 10 to 12 kiloton bombs designed to free fall from planes. They looked cartoonish, like a bomb Wile E. Coyote might drop on the roadrunner.
The Blue Danubes packed less of a punch than Fat Man and Little Boy, so in 1954, the British Army decided to adapt that tiny nuclear punch into a land mine.
The War Office ordered development and the Royal Armament Research and Development Establishment set to work converting the Danube into the Peacock. In a few years, the researchers had a prototype. The nuclear land mine used a plutonium core surrounded by conventional explosives with twin firing pins. Steel encased the entire contraption.
The project had several problems.
First, compared to a conventional land mine, the Blue Peacock was massive………
The U.S. Army developed and deployed nuclear bazookas — the Davy Crockett — in the ‘60s, but the tiny nuke was still a nuke. It takes miles for the fallout from even a small nuclear blast to dissipate. The Pentagon thought better and shelved the project.
Britain had a similar problem with its Blue Peacock. How could it detonate a nuclear land mine without being anywhere near the device? It came up with two solutions, one ingenious and the other bizarre……….
The British Army shelved the project. One of the prototype Blue Peacocks is currently on display at the Atomic Weapons Establishment Historical Collection in England.
Britain’s attempts to develop a nuclear land mine were crazy, but it wasn’t the only time a nuclear power attempted to develop mines and smaller, more tactical nuclear munitions. It was just one reflection of the mad logic that was 1950s atomic war planning.
This piece first appeared in WarIsBoring here. http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/the-ultimate-weapon-war-nuclear-land-mines-13890
How close we came to Armageddon: Russian bombers began to arm NUKE near UK airspace PILOTS in one of the two Russian supersonic bombers intercepted near UK skies last week had started the countdown to arm a nuclear bomb, sources revealed last night. By MARCO GIANNANGELI, SUNDAY EXPRESS, 20 Sept 15 after RAF specialists analyzed a four-second signal transmitted from one of the Tupolev Tu-160 bombers, known by Nato as “Blackjacks”, in the days following Thursday’s incursion.
Analysts at RAF Boulmer, Britain’s Control and Reporting Centre, confirmed that the Russian bombers had begun the sequence to arm nuclear weapons while carrying out the incursion.
It is not the first time they have done this and comparison with a similar signal transmitted by a TU-95 “Bear” bomber revealed Russian air crew had begun the countdown during an incursion last year, as well.
The Sunday Express revealed that the bomber involved in the February 2014 incident had been carrying a submarine-busting nuclear depth charge designed to attack Britain’s Trident-carrying Vanguard submarines.
“All I can say is that we now know it related to the first stage of arming a nuclear device,” said a senior RAF source last night. “There are several additional arming procedures which, thankfully, were not carried out.”
Last week’s air incursion, which was intercepted by Two RAF Typhoon jets, was the seventh this year by Russian forces.
RAF Boulmer, in Longhoughton. Northmberland, is the headquarters of the Air Surveillance and Control System force and the nerve centre of UK air security operations. Once a target is tracked the information is fed into the NATO network operated by the Combined Air Operations Centre at Uedem, Germany and the RAF’s Air Defence Operations Centre at Air Command, High Wycombe.
However it was only when a female analyst decoded last week’s transmission that it was realised Russia had carried out a similar exercise last year.
Aviation expert Justin Bronk, of the Royal United Services Institute think tank, said the revelation confirmed a “worrying” development in Russian strategy.
“Putin does not allow his air force to fly with cruise missiles because he is so worried about defections, but dual purpose bombs such as nuclear depth charges are a different matter. And these are designed to be a direct threat to our nuclear deterrent. “It is entirely probable that Russian crews have been practicing arming drills. The whole process can take several minutes, and it is important to be able to carry out quickly.”………http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/606505/Armageddon-Russian-bombers-arm-nuclear-bomb-UK-airspace
Ah, you say, but surely new nuclear is the answer? No chance. The new nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point in Somerset was supposed to open in 2017. Now that has been pushed back to 2024 while its estimated cost is skyrocketing to £24bn and beyond.
If it is ever built, Hinkley will be by far the most expensive nuclear plant ever. And they are planning more. Future generations will not thank this government for loading them with high and ever-rising electricity prices to pay for their ridiculous new toys.
Undeterred by their nonsensical energy policy, the Conservatives now want to slash the support mechanism for roof-top solar, known as the feed-in tariff, by up to 87%.
Solar industry is being slashed and burned by the Tories http://www.theguardian.com/business/economics-blog/2015/sep/09/solar-industry-is-being-slashed-and-burned-by-the-tories
Ashley Seager The government’s claim to be leading a solar revolution is a bad joke when it is instead pursuing ideological warfare against ‘green crap’ The government wasted no time after the election in killing the country’s onshore wind power sector and is now taking its wrecking ball to the solar industry, despite the call from the energy and climate change secretary, Amber Rudd, only months ago for a “solar revolution”.
Her claim, repeated this week, that this is the greenest government ever, is a bad joke. The problem is that the Tories’ actions, far from pushing down electricity prices, will push them up. They are playing politics with our money. Why? Because they are culling cheap forms of renewable power, the costs of which are falling rapidly, in favour of ruinously expensive nuclear power, never-likely-to-happen fracking and schemes like the overpriced Swansea tidal lagoon, all of which will suck more money out of our wallets than onshore wind or solar ever could.
The reasons are purely political. The Conservatives perceive they lost rural votes to Ukip in the election because of the latter’s opposition to wind and solar farms.
Rudd and George Osborne have developed a narrative of expensive renewables requiring subsidies that are no longer affordable. Nonsense – the support going to solar and onshore wind has been in sharp decline for years, as the sectors have slashed costs to a competitive level. By contrast, the government’s preferred choices, particularly nuclear power, are horribly expensive and require far higher subsidies than wind or solar. Continue reading
UK’s most aggressive nuclear lobby is pushing for Small Modular Nuclear Reactors and Thorium Reactors. They’ve even got themselves classed as a Charity!!! So, is the veiled co-operation between the old Big nuclear camp, and the new geewhiz Little nuclear camp now wearing thin in Britain?
Pro-nuclear environmentalists in call to scrap Hinkley C plans
Three leading experts urge government to end nuclear project saying delays will create panicked scramble back to fossil fuels, Guardian, Terry Macalister, 19 Sept 15 Three leading environmentalists who broke ranks to give their support to a new generation of nuclear plants have now urged the government to scrap plans for Hinkley Point C.
The call comes as George Osborne and Amber Rudd, the secretary of state for energy and climate change, head off to China, where they will discuss Beijing’s proposed investment in the new nuclear plant in Somerset.
George Monbiot, Mark Lynas and Chris Goodall say the soaring cost and delays to the Hinkley project leave ministers with no option but to pour the estimated £24.5bn worth of investment into other low-carbon technologies
“Hinkley C bears all the distinguishing features of a white elephant: overpriced, overcomplicated and overdue. The delay that was announced recently should be the final straw. The government should kill the project,” they write in a comment piece for the Guardian.
“The new delay should not surprise anyone who’s aware of the technological issues,” said Tony Roulstone, who runs the masters programme in nuclear engineering at Cambridge University. He argues that the plan for Hinkley C is like “building a cathedral within a cathedral”. It is, he concludes, “unconstructable”………
EDF, the French energy group, promoting Hinkley, has already won a generous financial aid package from the government through its “contract for difference” mechanism but has yet to sign the definitive deal it needs with Beijing investors.
This is expected to happen when the Chinese premier visits the UK next month, leaving EDF in a position to finally give the green light to the first nuclear plant to be built in the UK for 20 years.
But the energy company and its French engineering partner, Areva, have been beset by problems, leaving a growing number of former supporters from the world of energy and the City to question the viability of the whole project…….http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/sep/18/nuclear-environmentalists-scrap-hinkley-c-plans
Britain’s nuclear plans: the Corbyn factor https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-nuclear-plans-corbyn-factor
In the debate about replacing the Trident nuclear system, there is space for options that link British to international experience. Jeremy Corbyn, the new leader of Britain’s Labour Party, has long been opposed to the country’s possession of nuclear weapons. But he has also made it clear that this personal commitment does not extend to forcing this policy on the party he now heads. What he does want is an open debate and to convince others of the value of his views.
The replacement of the country’s Trident nuclear system is now being discussed (see “Britain’s defence policy: the path to change“, 7 May 2015). If this were to go ahead and a similar system put in place, the development and lifetime costs will approach £100 billion. Almost everyone in the Conservative government and parliamentary party, and many Labour MPs themselves, believe that a replacement should be built and that Britain should remain a nuclear-weapons power. Yet there is a substantial minority across the electorate that agrees with Corbyn. This view has gained far more traction since it was adopted by the Scottish National Party, a shift prompted not least by the persistent campaigning of nuclear disarmers north of the border, including the Faslane 365 initative. Yet political polarisation means it will be difficult to realise Corbyn’s aims.
The pro-Trident position has an uncompromising military rationale. It entails keeping a ballistic-missile submarine on station and ready to launch at all times – what is called “continuous at-sea deterrence” (CASD). In turn this requires maintaining four submarines, in order to allow one available for round-the-clock patrol, as well as substantial naval back-up. The latter includes what is euphemistically called “deterrence support”, an element that isn’t much talked about in polite circles.
The reason why is that deterrence support is onerous. There is a certain assumption that a Vanguard-class Trident-armed missile-submarine can disappear from its base at Faslane in western Scotland and go on secret patrol almost independently of the rest of the system. The reality is different: there is a continual need to protect Faslane, the Clyde estuary and the seas close to Scotland. Moreover, it is usual practice to have on patrol an attack-submarine, such as one of the new Astute-class boats (nuclear-powered but not nuclear-armed) between the general region of the Trident submarine’s area of operation and the perceived direction of threat. That, of course, means having several such attack-submarines available, which demands a substantial commitment.
The anti-Trident argument tends to the view that Britain’s nuclear weapons are little more than an historical anachronism (see “Britain’s nuclear endgame“, 28 September 2012). The ability to kill 5 million or more people in forty minutes may represent an inkling of great-power status, or a delusion of post-imperialgrandeur (of a kind shared with France). In practice, though, sufficient numbers of people still stick to the old thinking that the choice can be other than “all or nothing”. Corbyn’s supporters may need to recognise this.
A two-stage strategy
An earlier column in this series pointed to one way forward (see “Two steps to zero“, 17 July 2008). This was to scale down Britain’s nuclear forces to a background capability, involving the following steps:
* Cancel the plans to replace the current Vanguard-class boats and a new generation of nuclear warheads
* Reduce warhead numbers from around the current 160 to 30 (an 80% reduction); then have modified warheads available to deploy, if this were ever thought necessary, with cruise-missiles on attack-submarines, such as the new Astute-class (which can already deploy such missiles with conventional warheads)
* Phase out the entire Trident system as soon as this much-reduced force is available
* Adopt an openly stated policy of “no first use” of nuclear weapons and aspire to the elimination of nuclear weapons in Britain when international progress allows.
This would essentially be a residual force. If embraced, it could be less than a decade or so before the very idea of maintaining nuclear forces might be dropped, with Britain then joining the ranks of the 186 member-states of theUnited Nations out of 195 which do not possess nuclear weapons.
What is often forgotten here, including by anti-nuclear activists, is that several countries have given up nuclear weapons on their territory. South Africa actually developed its own small arsenal and then dismantled it. Furthermore, a number of states have in the past decided against developing their own nuclear arsenals after active consideration; they include Argentina, Brazil, Sweden and Switzerland, and probably also South Korea and Taiwan.
At the level of elite power, British nuclear weapons are a symbolic indication of standing in the world. The habit is so strong that it would be easier to give them up in two stages: a radically scaled down and far cheaper force that could then be allowed to wither away.
Whether that becomes an option depends very much on domestic party politics. But the point about revisiting Britain’s nuclear-weapons policy is that the starting-point does not have to be a rigid “for” or “against”. The option just outlined is just one among several. Their very existence means that the debatenow getting underway can be much better informed and less hidebound by increasingly meaningless issues of imaginary great-power status
FIVE REASONS NOT TO BUILD HINKLEY [Excellent graphs] Bloomberg Finance http://about.bnef.com/landing-pages/five-reasons-build-hinkley/ The endgame for the UK’s new reactor project at Hinkley Point is nearing. A Chinese state visit to the UK in October may be the make-or-break point for the project to get the go-ahead. As that moment approaches, we give five reasons not to build the plant. This is an excerpt from our EU Power Weekly, which is available to our BNEF EMEA and BNEF All clients.
Last week, French energy giant EDF announced delays to two key new reactor projects. Firstly, Flamanville 3 in France will only come online in 2018, six years behind the initial plan and three times over budget. Also, Hinkley Point C in the UK will not be completed by 2023 due to delays in reaching a final investment decision. This adds to the uncertainty around the 3.2GW reactor project. Here are five reasons not to build Hinkley.
- It is extremely difficult to build
Hinkley C uses Areva’s troubled EPR (European Pressurised Reactor) technology. All current EPR plants under construction are suffering from severe delays, and there is are substantial concerns about the integrity of some of the reactor vessels.
- It is very expensive
Carrying an all-in financing cost of GBP 24.5bn, Hinkley Point C is the most expensive new reactor project around. On a GW basis, it is even more expensive than fellow EPR projects Flamanville and Olkiluoto, which are both multiple times over budget. (good graph)
- It may not be necessary
- In our view, UK power consumption is in long-term decline. Combined with continued growth of wind and solar capacity and interconnectors to the European mainland, the remaining market might be too small for a mammoth plant such as Hinkley to make sense.
GB annual power consumption and renewable output, 2015-2030 (TWh)
- Hinkley won’t play nice with wind and solar
Also, Hinkley might not help to integrate variable wind and solar. Firstly, the massive 3.2GW plant will not help relieve increasingly apparent constraints in the distribution grid. Secondly, it might not be flexible enough to respond to fluctuations in solar and wind output: in sunny and windy days, Hinkley would need to reduce its output significantly, a feature it is not designed for. Other technologies such as small gas-fired peakers might be better suited — read more about them here, or deploying small, more flexible modular reactors (SMRs) that should be available for commercial deployment by 2022-24.
- It is a cost for future generations
Hinkley will be costly to decommission, even if these costs will only arise in the second half of this century. The decommissioning cost of San Onofre, a 2.3 GW nuclear plant in California, is estimated at $4.4bn (an unusually high cost given its location, other small reactors decommissioning costs are closer to $1bn). For comparison: cleaning up one MW of San Onofre costs as much as a MW of onshore wind. (Also on decommissioning: the German government is trying to ensure German utilities are held liable for the cost of cleaning up their old reactors).
So where is the British flight into ‘nuclear power is cheap somewhere’ fantasy leading us? Well, to nationalisation, of course
What the pro-nuclear lobby now wants is for limitless sums of money to be siphoned off from public spending on education, health and whatever else and spent on building nuclear power stations. The money will be notionally borrowed, a contract that will be concocted that will claim that the electricity consumer will pay the money back at a later date, and the balance will be paid for by, well, less schools, hospitals etc. Meanwhile a story will be manufactured about how all of this is cheap.
The state will end up giving the whole project a blank cheque so that the disastrous construction process can be bankrolled entirely from a bottomless pit of state finances.
The notion that nuclear is cheaper somewhere else is a myth http://realfeed-intariffs.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/the-notion-that-nuclear-is-cheaper.html by Dr David Toke The British attitude to the notion that nuclear power is not cheap after all is a bit like a child who first hears that Father Christmas does not, after all, exist. Disbelief, and in this case a belief that if only Father Christmas is nationalised, then it will still be true. The psychologists call this cognitive dissonance, in other words if a fact is uncomfortable to you, you believe that the fact is wrong.
David Cameron gives go ahead to build Chinese nuclear reactor in ESSEX http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/603390/China-nuclear-reactor-Essex-nuclear-power
DAVID Cameron is poised to sign a landmark deal next month to allow China to build a prototype nuclear reactor in Bradwell, Essex – which would become the first Chinese-operated facility in the West.
The plant is the price Beijing wants in return for its agreement to help pay for two new plants to be built by France’s EDF Energy – one at Hinkley Point in Somerset and the other at Sizewell, Suffolk.
EDF has admitted that Hinkley Point – Britain’s first atomic power station in almost two decades – is already facing delays. It was originally scheduled to open in 2017, but disputes over how it will be funded have held up the start of work – with EDF admitting it would not open before 2024. Problems with the EPR reactor design have also halted progress.
However, David Cameron is adamant to get the project off the ground – which is at the core of the Government’s drive to replace Britain’s ageing fossil fuel plants with low-carbon alternatives.
A similar EDF plant in Flamanville, France, has gone three times over budget and fallen six years behind schedule.
Hinkley Point, which will be twice as big, is on course to become the world’s most expensive power station.
The Chinese – who are currently have 26 nuclear power reactors in operation – are vital to Britain’s low-carbon initiative.
Whitehall officers are said to be hammering out the final details of an agreement under which two of Beijing’s state power companies – China General Nuclear and China National Nuclear Corporation – will take a large minority stake in Hinkley Point. They would also become junior partners, and cover part of the costs for a follow-on plant at Sizewell.
The construction and operation of both sites would be led by EDF.
In return for Beijing’s support on those plants, EDF would sell its right to a development site it owns at Bradwell.
The French, who would become a minority partner, would assist the Chinese through Britain’s approval process for a new reactor design – which the Chinese would use as a selling point as it bids to become the world leader in nuclear technology.
The Chinese design is expected to be capable of producing one gigawatt of electricity – enough to power 1m homes.
Hinkley Point will comprise of two larger EPR reactors – each with a capacity of 1.6GW – which will generate seven per cent of Britain’s electricity needs.
However, the plans for the nuclear plant have stirred controversy because of the huge subsidies the Government has agreed to pay EDF and its Chinese partners – which will be tacked on to taxpayers’ household bills and pay out until 2060.
The starting rate of £92.50 per megawatt hour of power produced is more than double the current wholesale rate and will rise every year with inflation.
A growing number of critics have begun to lobby against Hinkley Point.
Nuclear delay: EDF admits Hinkley Point won’t be ready by 2023 Britain’s first new nuclear plant in a generation has been delayed and will not start generating power in 2023 as planned, French energy giant EDF admits Telegraph UK, By Emily Gosden, Energy Editor
2:04PM BST 03 Sep 2015……a decision has yet to be taken, following a protracted EU state aid inquiry and extended negotiations with the UK Government over subsidies and with Chinese investment partners.
Although a decision is now expected in October, Mr Levy admitted the 2023 start date for the project, which will be subsidised by households through their energy bills, would no longer be met………
Mr Levy also disclosed that the final investment decision would be based on solely EDF and Chinese investment, after failing to tie up deals with any other potential investment partners in time.
EDF said in 2013 it planned to retain only a 45pc to 50pc stake in Hinkley, with Chinese groups China General Nuclear Corporation and China National Nuclear Corporation taking a combined stake of 30pc to 40pc.
Areva, the reactor maker, was expected to take 10pc and other “interested parties” were expected to take up to 15pc. But financial troubles at Areva have forced it to sell its nuclear business to EDF, and Mr Levy said no other investors would be confirmed by the time of FID……
in the first phase EDF and the Chinese will be the investors at the final investment decision.”
It is understood EDF will now retain a majority stake, although the precise share to be taken by Chinese investors is still under discussion.
Hinkley Point was once supposed to be ready in time for Christmas 2017 but has suffered numerous delays and setbacks.
Fears have grown that the project will suffer a similar fate to that of EDF’s troubled Flamanville reactor in France, which uses the same technology as the proposed Hinkley plant.
Flamanville was originally due to cost €3bn and be ready by 2012 but has seen costs spiral. On Thursday EDF said Flamanville would now not start generating until 2018, a year later than the most recent estimates, and would cost €10.5bn………http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/11841733/Nuclear-delay-EDF-admits-Hinkley-Point-wont-be-ready-by-2023.htm
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