The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Britain’s Failing New Nuclear Programme should be Scrapped

 financial-meltdownflag-UKNo2NuclearPower, No.93 March 2017  Toshiba’s announcement that it will not be involved in the construction of new nuclear reactors at the Sellafield ‘Moorside’ site in Cumbria has thrown into sharp relief the sorry state of the UK’s new nuclear policy which is clearly failing to deliver. It is obvious now that it can only be delivered with huge public subsidies the country can ill afford at a time when public services are under intense strain.

Toshiba announced on 14th February that it expects to book a €5.9bn write-down on Westinghouse ‒ more than it paid to buy a majority stake in the Company from the British government’s BNFL in 2006 ‒ and it expects to report a net loss of €3.2bn in the fiscal year to March 2017.Audited figures are now due on March 14.

The mess has been caused mainly by the delayed and over-budget AP1000 reactors being built in the US. The cost to complete four AP1000 reactors ‒ two each in South Carolina and Georgia ‒ will “far surpass the original estimates”. Combined, the cost overruns exceed US$10 billion. And since there is still a long way to go before construction of the four reactors is complete, there is plenty of scope for further cost overruns. (1) There is now even talk of the possibility of bankruptcy for Toshiba. Former Westinghouse boss Shigenori Shiga, appointed as chair of Toshiba following a US$1.3 billion accounting scandal in 2015, stood down from his position on February 14.

Toshiba says it would like to sell Westinghouse if that was an option ‒ but there is no prospect of a buyer. The nuclear unit is, as Bloomberg noted, “too much of a mess” to sell. And since that isn’t an option, Toshiba must sell profitable businesses instead to stave off bankruptcy. The company plans to sell most ‒ perhaps all ‒ of its profitable microchip business to prop up the nuclear carcass and avoid bankruptcy. The company might get €12.3‒16.1bn by selling its entire stake in its microchip business, said Joel Hruska from ExtremeTech. “That would pay off the company’s immediate debts,” Hruska said, “but would leave it holding the bag on an incredibly expensive, underwhelming nuclear business with no prospects for near-term improvement.” (2)

The ripple-effects of Toshiba’s latest problems will be many and varied. Japan’s ambitions to develop a large nuclear export business are in tatters. As recently as last year, Toshiba said it hoped to win 50 contracts to build new nuclear plants in India and China over the next decade. As well as Moorside reactor construction projects being planned in Turkey and elsewhere are up in the air.

But it is not just Toshiba that is in crisis. Over the past decade, international energy utilities Eon, RWE Npower, Iberdrola, SSE and Centrica have all confidently announced their commitment to building new nuclear power stations, whether at Hinkley Point, Wylfa or Moorside, but then had to pull out as they realise they cannot afford the huge levels of investment that such projects require. (3) In Europe, energy giants EDF, Engie (France), E.ON, RWE (Germany) and Vattenfall (Sweden), as well as utilities TVO (Finland) and CEZ (Czech Republic), have all been downgraded by credit rating agencies over the past year. All of the utilities registered severe losses on the stock market

March 4, 2017 - Posted by | business and costs, UK

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: