The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

As solar energy costs fall, the industry charges on

Solar juggernaut marches on as costs continue to fall [good graphs]  By Sophie Vorrath on 24 April 2017 The global solar market looks set to continue on its trajectory of extraordinary growth, driven by further reductions in the costs of the technology, and a possible post-Trump “gold rush” that is brewing in the US.

The onward march of the solar juggernaut has been predicted by global investment group Deutsche Bank, whose latest report bumped up its 2017 estimate for total demand to 82GW, from a previous forecast of 74GW.

This has certainly been the pattern of recent decades, with dramatic growth rates of PV consistently beating – and sometimes smashing – analyst predictions. And while Deutsche Bank and other analysts continue to flag a slow-down in the market’s near future, it is not expected to happen this year, mainly due to stronger growth forecast for China.

“We are raising our 2017 global demand estimate from 74GW to 82GW, mainly due to expectations of stronger growth in China (from 17GW to 25GW),” the Deutsche Bank report says.

A similar adjustment was made earlier this month by US-based GTM Research, which replaced a projected -7 per cent global PV market contraction with a forecast of 9.4 per cent growth in its latest quarterly report, the Global Solar Demand Monitor.

GTM Research now projects that the annual global solar market’s size will reach 85 GW in 2017, slightly higher than Deutsche’s forecast – and more than double the installed capacity in 2014.

As Deutsche notes in its quarterly report, published on Friday, a good deal of this market momentum is being fuelled by falling PV technology costs, with some developers asking for less than 30c/W for solar modules in India in 2H17 and mid 20c/W in 2018.

Deutsche says this puts solar “at grid parity”, and while such low prices are not yet being offered by tier 1 Chinese suppliers, it believes a near 20 per cent reduction in poly-silicon prices will act as a catalyst for further price cuts for modules.

“Poly prices (down 17 per cent in the past seven weeks) have been declining faster than module prices as the supply chain in China has been focused on working down excess inventory,” the report says.

“We expect poly prices to approach $10-12/kg and module prices to decline to low 30c/W in 2H timeframe.”

Even in Australia, which gets no special mention in Deutsche Bank’s report, the cost of building large scale solar farms is falling to a fraction of the cost of new coal or gas plants. Indeed, according to the former head of Victoria’s Hazelwood brown coal generator, Tony Cancannon – who now heads up Reach Energy – the cost of large scale solar and storage is already competitive with gas-fired generation, and within a few years will be well below $100/MWh.

All the same, Deutsche still expects global solar demand to be “flattish” in 2018, but notes this could be countered by a final “gold rush” in the US – also driven by falling costs, from $60c/W to low $30c/W between Q3’16 and Q4’17.

“Our analysis suggests that project returns in the US could likely exceed the returns solar developers achieved in other markets during prior cycle peaks and these returns are unlikely to improve as incentives gradually decline or net metering phases out.

“As such, we expect the final “gold rush” in the US market to drive strong growth in US demand from 2018,” it says.

And as the table below illustrates [on original] , this view is supported by the strong pipeline of North American utility-scale solar projects, with roughly 8GW under development in Texas alone, and 31GW in the entire US.

But Deutsche also warns of possible speed-humps looming for global solar, such as a slow-down of growth in markets like India.

“Although declining solar module and system costs are driving significant improvement in downstream project economics in India, the pace of new solar project auctions has slowed down significantly,” the Deutsche report says.

According to the Bank’s data, project allocations in India have declined by 67 per cent to 2.9GW in FY17, while the SECI (Solar Energy Corporation of India) has also recently reduced a rooftop solar
tender from 1GW to 0.5GW.

The report puts the slow-down to difficulty securing PPAs in India, limited interest from developers, and tax increases.

“Beyond 2017, we expect overall growth in China to slow down and expect other emerging markets as well as the US to be the primary growth drivers,” the report says. “Our current estimates call for flattish demand in 2018.”

April 26, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, renewable | Leave a comment

Investment: global index reveals 60% of asset owners are now taking some action

Most global investors recognise financial risk of climate change, report finds, Guardian, Paul Karp, 26 Apr 17,  Global index reveals 60% of asset owners are now taking some action, but warns there is still ‘enormous resistance’ to managing climate risk For the first time a majority of global investor heavyweights recognise the financial risks of climate change, according to the results of a major global index rating how investors manage such risks.

But despite the advances, the Asset Owner Disclosure Project chairman, John Hewson, has warned there is still an “enormous resistance” to managing climate risk.

The AODP releases its fifth global index on Wednesday, ranking the world’s largest 500 asset owners and, for the first time, the 50 largest asset managers on their performance managing financial risks associated with climate change.

Asset owners and managers were scored on governance and strategy, portfolio carbon risk management and metrics and targets, and graded as leaders (A-AAA) rating), challengers (B-BBB), learners (C-CCC), bystanders (D-DDD) and laggards (X).

The index found that 40% of asset owners and just 6% of asset managers were classed as laggards, meaning they had a scored zero on the measures for managing and disclosing climate risks.

The report concluded that “the scales have tipped”, as 60% of asset owners are now taking some action.

Of the 500 asset owners, there are now 34 leaders, 34 challengers, 44 learners and 187 bystanders, an increase in all categories since the last year compared with laggards, which fell from 246 to 201 in number.

Australia and New Zealand were among the 10 best-performing countries, which were all in Oceania and Europe…..

April 26, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs | Leave a comment

Hitachi still interested in Wylfa nuclear station, while others waver over NuGen nuclear project in Moorside

Hitachi set for talks with business secretary Greg Clark over Welsh nuclear plant, Mark Sands City A.M’s political reporter, 23 Apr `17 . Bosses at Japanese energy giant Hitachi are due to meet business secretary Greg Clark for talks just weeks after the firm applied for approval to build its Wylfa nuclear project in Anglesey.

Hitachi chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi will meet with Clark this week as government planning continues over the creation of a fleet of new nuclear projects in the UK.

Horizon, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, plans to build and operate two nuclear reactors at Wylfa, capable of generating enough to power around 10 million homes by the mid 2020s.
The application to build the Wylfa reactors earlier this month was the first since 2011, and has been predicted to take around 19 months.

It comes as Hitachi’s Japanese rival Toshiba continues to consider its options over the NuGen nuclear project in Moorside, Cumbria.

French utility firm Engie revealed in early April that it would withdraw from the project, while Toshiba has been wracked with its own problems after revealing dramatic writedowns on its Westinghouse US nuclear unit.

April 24, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, UK | Leave a comment

Subsidies for nuclear power losers disrupt electricity markets

Paying Nuclear Losers for ‘Clean’ Power Upends U.S. Markets, Bloomberg by Jim Polson

April 22, 2017,

  • States permit higher fees to protect jobs, cut fossil-fuel use

Some U.S. states are trying to save money-losing nuclear plants — and disrupting America’s electricity markets in the process. New York and Illinois have cleared the way for nuclear power to be subsidized with higher fees on buyers — aid normally reserved for renewable energy like solar and wind. One reason policy makers gave was to protect jobs at aging plants teetering on closure. Another was nuclear’s emission-free electricity, because states are trying to address climate change by relying less on fossil fuels like coal and natural gas. Connecticut and Ohio are considering similar moves, and pressure is mounting in New Jersey.

But federal regulators and gas-fueled generators including Dynegy Inc. and Calpine Corp. say the states are fundamentally altering the way wholesale power markets work. Armed with billions of dollars in new clean-energy benefits, higher-cost nuclear generators can now compete with companies that get no aid. The first test comes next month when PJM Interconnection LLC, the biggest grid, takes bids to supply power from Chicago to Washington.

“Markets only work if everyone’s competing evenly,” said Joseph Bowring, president of Monitoring Analytics, the company that oversees PJM’s electricity market. “If some get subsidies, then other people are going to want subsidies. And then pretty soon, we’re going to be competing for subsidies instead of competing in the market.”

For a primer on pressures generators face in PJM auction, read this.

While nuclear power has kept its share of U.S. electricity at around 20 percent over the past decade, it’s become a high-cost supplier with the emergence of gas-fired turbines burning cheap shale fuel, as well as more-efficient wind farms and solar panels. The country now gets more electricity from gas than from coal, which has seen its market share plunge.

All that cheap fuel has cut electricity prices, creating financial problems for aging nuclear plants. Five have closed in the past five years and more shutdowns are planned, primarily for economic reasons, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The industry calculus began to change in August when New York handednuclear plants so-called credits for supplying carbon-free power to the state, which means the generators can raise an additional $500 million a year from higher rates. Four months later, Illinois created similar credits to keep money-losing reactors open and 1,500 people employed.

Extra Fee

The way the incentives work is similar to what states have been doing for years to encourage emission-free power. Generators get “credits” for a designated amount of electricity. When that is sold to utilities, the buyers pay the generators an extra fee, which can be recovered in the form of higher bills to customers.

Nuclear incentives saved two plants in Illinois and three in New York, according to Kit Konolige, a senior utilities analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. If subsidies were used to keep open all the nuclear plants in PJM, which doesn’t include New York, electricity supply in the region would be 10 percent higher than otherwise, depressing prices, he said.

On May 10, generators will begin bidding to supply a year of electricity in the PJM region starting June 2020, in return for fixed payments. It’s going to be one of the most closely watched events in the industry this year. Exelon Corp.’s Quad Cities nuclear plant was priced out of last year’s auction. This time, it can expect a subsidy from Illinois customers.

Only the newest and largest nuclear plants can sell power for $25 a megawatt hour, which is the price offered by most gas plants, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. With the help of credits, nuclear power narrows the gap, and generators can offer electricity at close to that price. Wholesale power at a major trading hub within PJM averaged $23.90 a megawatt-hour at 11:28 a.m. Friday in New York, grid data compiled by Genscape show.

Keep Running’

“If you’re getting revenue from one source, you don’t need as much from the auction, so you’re willing to accept less to keep running,” Konolige said.

As a result, prices in this May’s auction for a region covering Chicago may plunge about 16 percent from a year earlier, according to industry consultant Wood Mackenzie Ltd.…….

Operators of cheaper gas-fired power plants, including Dynegy, Calpine and NRG Energy Inc., describe the credits as “bailouts” that threaten to kill competitive markets at the expense of electricity customers. Electricity customers would pay $3.9 billion more if all nuclear plants competing in PJM’s and New England’s wholesale markets were part of programs like New York’s, a Bloomberg Intelligence analysis shows.

“It’s the equivalent of going out to buy a new car and finding out they’re giving them away down the street,” said Abe Silverman, deputy general counsel at Princeton, New Jersey-based NRG. “How are you supposed to compete with that?”

In Connecticut, consumer advocates are fighting the credits and accusing nuclear-plant owners of a money grab.

“Single-state solutions are going to screw up the entire deregulated market,” said John Erlingheuser, advocacy director for the AARP in Connecticut…….

April 22, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Three Mile Island nuclear station could close anytime soon

Three Mile Island, like much of nuclear industry, is on the brink  Wallace McKelvey |   on April 19, 2017  Nuclear power, which generates more than a third of Pennsylvania’s electricity, could soon disappear from the state amid a glut of cheap natural gas from the Marcellus Shale play.

And the first of the state’s five plants to fall could be Three Mile Island, which could close as soon as 2019.

That’s the argument, at least, that TMI owner Exelon is making as it seeks the Legislature’s help to keep struggling reactors like TMI open. The same argument is being made in other states — Illinois and New York both moved to shore up nuclear plants in the last year.

In turn, the gas lobby and other advocacy groups have ramped up efforts to thwart a bailout of the nuclear industry that they say would lead to electric rate hikes.

Pennsylvania lawmakers from both chambers and both parties formed a “nuclear caucus” with the goal of crafting a proposal to rescue the industry this fall. For their part, caucus leaders say they’re not interested in bailouts or subsidies……

Exelon’s most recent SEC filing described TMI as the facility “at the greatest risk of early retirement due to current economic valuations and other factors….

“We’ve operated for the past six years at a loss,” said Joseph Dominguez, Exelon’s executive vice president of governmental and regulatory affairs and public policy. “We have effectively tried everything we can to weather the storm. I think the question in front of us now is how much longer we’re willing to go.”

For two years in a row, TMI failed to clear PJM’s capacity auction, meaning that it was not able to sell guaranteed power in 2019 and 2020…..

In Illinois, Exelon announced the closure of two of its nuclear power plants but reversed the decision when the governor signed off on a $235 million subsidy … Competitors have since filed lawsuits to block the measure.

Exelon isn’t the only nuclear energy company to consider closing plants in Pennsylvania. FirstEnergy Corp. announced that it would close or sell the Beaver Valley nuclear power station near Pittsburgh within the next year. PSEG, which owns half of Peach Bottom station in York County alongside Exelon, also said it wouldn’t operate nuclear plants that are unprofitable. It has pressed New Jersey for similar subsidies to continue operating its nuclear plants there…..

“Here’s what the U.S. government must do to bring about a gradual phase-out of almost all U.S. nuclear power plants: absolutely nothing,” former Nuclear Regulatory Commission member Peter Bradford wrote in 2013. He cited the “abundance of natural gas, lower energy demand induced by the 2008 recession, increased energy-efficiency measures, nuclear’s rising cost estimates and the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station” in Japan………

April 21, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

$billions of Americans’ tax money squandered on weapons

Where Your Taxes Go: The Militarized Budget On the other hand, there is another side of the US government: the government of tax breaks and tax cuts for the rich, the one that squanders as much on the military as the next seven countries combined.

Only 22 percent of military taxes go to US troops for pay and benefits. Meanwhile, nearly half of the military budget goes to a powerful group of multinational corporations that make billions in profits from US warmongering.

Take Lockheed Martin. As the federal government’s biggest military contractor, it received $36 billion in taxpayer dollars in 2015, amounting to 80 percent of its revenues from all sources.

And that’s just one contractor. In all, the Department of Defense handed out more than $297 billion in contracts in 2016….Events like the Syria bombing, and Trump’s election, tend to send stock prices for these companies soaring.

Where Your Dollars Are Going: Why Some Antiwar Activists Are Withholding Taxes, April 18, 2017, By Lindsay KoshgarianTruthout | News Analysis Among the marches, petitions and call-in campaigns that comprise much of the Trump resistance movement, one resistance tactic gets little attention: withholding taxes. As the US seems ready to slide into yet another Middle East war in Syria while preparing for massive cuts to government programs at home, what role does tax resistance play in opposing regressive and violent policies?

While being anti-tax is typically associated with conservatism, there is a small but longstanding tradition within the progressive movement of withholding taxes — specifically, war taxes.

How does tax resistance work, and does it result in a lack of support for government programs that most progressives support and would like to see grow? How much of our taxes go to war, the military and militarism anyway, and how much to worthy programs like education, aid for struggling families, the environment and more?

Paying income taxes may not usually spur introspection, but it might if Americans realized that, for example, they are working 27 days out of every year to pay taxes that support war profiteers. Most progressives and many on the right of the political spectrum would never willingly write a check to weapons contractors, or speak in support of weapons systems that will fuel tomorrow’s air strikes and drone attacks. If Lockheed Martin, the nation’s most prolific military contractor, were a store or coffee shop, many would boycott it. So why willingly give Lockheed $170 a year through taxes — which the average taxpayer now does?

Pride and Prejudice: How the Government Helps (and How Americans Pay for It) The extent to which government helps those who need it most and strengthens every community is certainly underappreciated in a country obsessed with “small government,” a nation that reveres former President Ronald Reagan, who once said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”

Of course, the government does help. More than half of almost every group of Americans — from every region of the country, white, Black, Latino, rural, urban, conservative, liberal — have benefited at some point in their lives from government programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment and welfare. Government programs are often targeted to help those most in need of aid or those historically oppressed. Half of the students who receive Pell grants for college tuition come from families with incomes below $15,223, and 77 percent of them would be the first generation of their families to earn a bachelor’s degree. Nearly one in four Pell recipients is Black. Meanwhile, programs like Meals on Wheels for seniors are almost universally beloved and respected for taking care of some of the most vulnerable members of our society. The federal government serves as a crucial source of support for many………

Where Your Taxes Go: The Militarized Budget

On the other hand, there is another side of the US government: the government of tax breaks and tax cuts for the rich, the one that squanders as much on the military as the next seven countries combined; the one that has increased its spending on federal prisons by 10 times over the last 40 years — the government that seeks to consolidate power and exert control over the world’s most vulnerable people.

The US government promotes an extreme overreliance on military might and a disturbing parallel of policing, incarceration, surveillance and immigration raids and deportations here at home. A recent National Priorities Project analysis of the US discretionary budget showed that 64 percent of the federal discretionary budget — the budget decided by Congress each year, which is covered almost entirely by income taxes — is devoted to the military and militarism: to making and preparing for war, dealing with the consequences of war, and to programs that amount to intimidation and oppression here at home.

At least 23 percent of income taxes go to the military — and if you count spending on veterans’ benefits, national debt due to past wars, or other militarized spending like that for the FBI, federal prisons or immigration enforcement, the estimates only go higher. In addition to paying an average of $3,290 in yearly income taxes for the traditional military, Americans each pay $88 for border control and immigration and customs enforcement, $33 for the federal prison system, and more for programs ranging from the FBI to the CIA and beyond.

Only 22 percent of military taxes go to US troops for pay and benefits. Meanwhile, nearly half of the military budget goes to a powerful group of multinational corporations that make billions in profits from US warmongering.

Take Lockheed Martin. As the federal government’s biggest military contractor, it received $36 billion in taxpayer dollars in 2015, amounting to 80 percent of its revenues from all sources. Lockheed used those taxpayer dollars to pay its CEO more than $19 million in 2015. Taxpayers contributed six times as much to this one weapons maker as they did to all foreign aid in 2016. This should give us pause when we consider how often the US turns to military intervention versus prevention, diplomacy or other means during international crises.

And that’s just one contractor. In all, the Department of Defense handed out more than $297 billion in contracts in 2016 — more than half of the department’s budget.

Events like the Syria bombing, and Trump’s election, tend to send stock prices for these companies soaring.

An Act of Resistance

So, how does it all balance out? Does the government help more than it harms? Is there a way to support the good while resisting the bad?

This is what some war tax resisters attempt to do. In practice, resisting war tax runs the gamut from not paying any taxes at all to withholding a token amount of tax — as low as a few dollars — as a way of registering resistance. For those who want to support the government in its helping capacities, or who want to see those capacities grow, the second may be the better option.

Clearly, resisting taxes is not for everyone — it can come with legal penalties, headaches and a good deal of uncertainty. And of course, war tax resisting is not the only way to influence how your tax dollars are used: calling, visiting or writing your representatives in government; voting; and engaging in street protests play key roles in resisting war and militarism. Still, we are in the midst of a big resistance, and for some, resisting tax may be just what the doctor ordered.

April 19, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Survival of the richest: nuclear bunkers in high demand

  Staff writers 19 Apr 17 FILTHY rich people who have prepared for nuclear warfare and other catastrophic disasters by investing in five-star luxury bunkers might soon move into their multi-million dollar purchases as concerns grow over a nuclear war. 

Sports stars, hedge fund managers and even tech gurus including Bill Gates are rumoured to have invested in doomsday bunkers worldwide.

The bunkers are designed to withstand a nuclear blast and ensure some of the world’s richest people don’t go without a cinema and spa facilities during the attack.

But what once seemed like an over-the-top purchase designed for the super-paranoid and filthy rich has suddenly become a more sensible concept as North Korea threatens “a thermonuclear war may break out at any moment … if the US dares opt for a military action”.

North Korea’s deputy U.N. ambassador Kim In Ryong told a news conference on Monday the country “is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the U.S.” amid increasing tension between the nations.

He said the Trump administration’s deployment of the Carl Vinson nuclear carrier task group to waters off the Korean Peninsula again “proves the US reckless moves for invading the DPRK have reached a serious phase of its scenario”.

BUNKERS SELLING QUICKLY Sports stars, hedge fund managers and even tech gurus including Bill Gates are rumoured to have invested in doomsday bunkers worldwide.

The bunkers are designed to withstand a nuclear blast and ensure some of the world’s richest people don’t go without a cinema and spa facilities during the attack.

But what once seemed like an over-the-top purchase designed for the super-paranoid and filthy rich has suddenly become a more sensible concept as North Korea threatens “a thermonuclear war may break out at any moment … if the US dares opt for a military action”.

North Korea’s deputy U.N. ambassador Kim In Ryong told a news conference on Monday the country “is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the U.S.” amid increasing tension between the nations.

He said the Trump administration’s deployment of the Carl Vinson nuclear carrier task group to waters off the Korean Peninsula again “proves the US reckless moves for invading the DPRK have reached a serious phase of its scenario”.


April 19, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Why is India still looking to nuclear companies that now face financial ruin?

India flirts with nuclear firms facing financial ruiTwo of the major nuclear firms, India is dealing with, have run into financial crisis. As India looks forward to increase its share of nuclear energy in total power generation, the wavering financial condition of the firms raises some serious questions. India Today, IANS  by Prabhash K Dutta New Delhi, April 16, 2017, For long a pariah in the global nuclear technology market, Indian policymakers are pleasantly discovering how the boot is on the other foot as they are furiously courted by foreign firms themselves facing financial ruin.

American nuclear giant Westinghouse, which is in talks with the Indian government on a proposed project in Andhra Pradesh, filed for bankruptcy earlier this month.

A year ago, the French energy major Areva, which has offered to build reactors at a Maharashtra site, began a process of major restructuring following huge losses.


Westinghouse is proposing to build six reactors of 1,000 MW capacity each at Kovvada in coastal Andhra Pradesh. The government has indicated this site in place of the originally proposed Mithi Virdi in Gujarat, where the local population protested against plans to erect a nuclear plant in their area.

Minister of State for Atomic Energy Jitendra Singh said in Parliament earlier this year that the land acquisition process at Kovvada had begun, while discussions had also started with Westinghouse on the techno-commercial aspects of a project proposal.

“I don’t understand why the government is so keen to talk to these nuclear power companies that are in major financial difficulty, unless it is to bail them out,” former Union Power Secretary EAS Sarma told IANS.


“The inevitable fallout of Westinghouse being in a financially weak position will be delay in completing the project and resulting cost over-runs. In this scenario, our government is looking to bail out American companies… to create jobs in the US,” he said.

“On the other hand, the government is going ahead with acquiring land, as if the opposition of locals at Kovvada is of no consequence as compared to the protests at Mithi Virdi,” he added.

Sarma said there are also concerns about the fuel for the reactors to be supplied as per contractual practice, by a financially crippled Westinghouse.

“Westinghouse has sold its fuel fabrication facility to the Chinese and so our fuel will come from the latter, which is a cause for concern, and I have written to the government on this,” the former Secretary said.


The case of Areva, which is proposing six EPR-type 1,650 MW reactors at Jaitapur, is even more complex, with the French firm having signed the agreements with Larsen & Toubro and state-run Nuclear Power Corp during Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s France visit in 2015.

Soon after, Areva declared massive losses of 4.8 billion euros and the French government, which owns 87 per cent of the company, announced its nuclear power arm would be sold to another state-run firm, EDF.

Sarma pointed out that Areva has struggled to complete two identical EPR reactors, one at Olkiluoto in Finland, which is still not operational despite over a decade-long delay and a trebling of costs, and the other in Flamanville, France, plagued by serious construction and security issues, delays and massive cost over-runs.

“The French nuclear security watchdog has issued a number of severe warnings to Areva on major security issues and manufacturing and construction flaws in the reactor being built in Flamanville,” Sarma said.

Flamanville is one of four EPRs under construction worldwide, and its cost overrun — from an estimated 3.3 billion euros to over 10 billion euros — is at the heart of Areva’s current problems.

“Now with their current troubles, there is even more likelihood of Areva compromising on design safety features, on which they have such poor track record,” Sarma said……..


This is a complete reversal of the situation that prevailed before an agreement with the US in 2008 allowed India to engage in nuclear commerce and start importing uranium fuel again for its reactors……..

April 17, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, India, politics international | 1 Comment

Apple might save Toshiba, and so help build New Nuclear Plants

Will Apple’s Overseas Billions Help Westinghouse Complete New Nuclear Plants?, Forbes, Rod Adams ,  15 Apr 17  A Friday report from NHK, Japan’s public broadcasting company, announced that Apple might join Foxconn in a coordinated bid for a majority stake in Toshiba, the world’s second largest supplier of flash memory chips. None of the companies involved has confirmed the report…..

Apple Has Some Of the World’s Deepest Pockets

As of the end of December 2016, Apple reported a cash balance of $241 billion with 94% of it – $230 billion – overseas. It has continued to add to that growing pile of cash overseas mainly because it has not paid U.S. corporate taxes on the related earnings. Repatriating it under current provisions in the tax code would require a large payment to the federal government…..

Overseas Investments Logically Escape U.S. Taxman

Like any well-managed company, Apple is not counting on the government making any changes to current law. It’s logical to believe that the company might be seriously investigating the possibility of direct investments or acquisitions in companies that are headquartered outside the U. S…….

Direct overseas investments would deploy the cash pile into a use that might be more lucrative than collecting the tiny amounts of interest currently paid to all savers, including large, successful corporations.

Apple has a long standing working relationship with Toshiba and most likely has a number of fans within Toshiba. In 2005, during the exciting stages of the iPod era, Apple made a long term purchase commitment – which came with a substantial cash advance – that enabled Toshiba and other flash memory suppliers to make the investments that have led to a technological revolution and a reliably profitable business segment.

Both Apple and Toshiba have profited from the relationship over the years. In 2011, Apple stopped buying flash memory from Samsung, indicating that its components no longer met the company’s evolving requirements as it improved its products. That decision shifted more sales volume to Toshiba…….

How Would This Investment Help Electricity Customers In Georgia And South Carolina?

Several years ago Toshiba, as Westinghouse’s large, profitable and then stable parent company, provided substantial guarantees in the case of cost overruns for both the Vogtle and Summer projects. Each of those projects, one in Georgia and one in South Carolina involves the construction of two of Westinghouse’s flagship AP1000 nuclear power plants. According to recent document filings, the total amount of Toshiba’s guarantees is about $4 billion.

Toshiba would like to complete the projects and successfully demonstrate the value of the AP1000 technology. Even though the company has indicated that it no longer wants to be in the nuclear plant construction business, it is still very interested in being a part of the nuclear power plant engineering, manufacturing, fuel supply, and services business. That business line will have a much greater potential for future profits after the first units begin operating.

Both Southern Company’s Georgia Power unit and SCANA, as the lead utilities in each consortium building the power plants, are in an evaluation phase to determine if the plants can and should be finished…..

neither of the state utility regulators will allow project completion if the costs seem prohibitive and if the burden of the cost overruns places an excessive burden on their electricity customers.

Though the cost overrun guarantee from Toshiba will apparently survive the Westinghouse bankruptcy, it may end up near the end of the creditor line if Toshiba itself must seek bankruptcy protection…..

April 17, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, Japan, USA | Leave a comment

Disastrous time for nuclear power lobbyists – with nuclear financial meltdown

A big chill  Much more detail could be provided about the possibly fatal problems facing Toshiba and Westinghouse, but let’s instead put the issues into context.
Beyond the direct impact of the unfolding crisis on numerous reactor projects around the world, the most important impact of the crisis is the chilling effect it will have ‒ and is already having ‒ on the nuclear power industry.
The AP1000 fiasco in the US shows that industry giants can be brought to their knees by cost overruns on just a few reactors. Further confirmation comes from two French EPR reactors under construction in France and Finland: combined cost overruns amount to at least US$13.5bn and counting, and French utilities EDF and Areva would both be bankrupt if not for repeated multi-billion-dollar government bailouts.
Governments, energy utilities and companies, banks, and investors will be considerably less likely to gamble on nuclear power in light of recent events.

Nuclear power lobbyists ‘freaked out’ as crisis deepens By  on 13 April 2017 The nuclear power crisis escalated dramatically on March 29 with the announcement that US nuclear giant Westinghouse, a subsidiary of Japanese conglomerate Toshiba, had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The filing marks the start of lengthy and complex negotiations with creditors and customers and the US and Japanese governments.

 The companies are in crisis because of massive cost overruns building four AP1000 nuclear power reactors in the southern US states of Georgia and South Carolina. The combined cost overruns for the four reactors amount to about US$11.2bn and counting. Stephen Byrd from Morgan Stanley said that the cost of the plants, if completed, will be about twice Westinghouse’s original estimate.
The crisis escalated again on April 11 when Toshiba released unaudited financial figures and noted in its financial statementthat there is “substantial doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern”. Toshiba reported a net loss of US$5.9bn for the Oct.‒Dec. 2016 quarter, mainly because of a US$6.3bn writedown on Westinghouse. Equity stood at negative US$5.7bn as of 31 March 2017.
Adding to the drama, auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers did not endorse the April 11 financial statement and instead submitted a statement emphasising the risks to Toshiba’s future.
Toshiba had already twice delayed release of its financial figures, and released unaudited figures on April 11 in the hope of avoiding a stock exchange delisting that would worsen the crisis engulfing the firm, increasing financing costs and exposing it to further lawsuits from shareholders.
But all that can be said about the release of hideous figures, accompanied by a disclaimer from the auditor, is that it was the least-worst of Toshiba’s options. The company still risks being delisted. Toshiba was already sitting in the fiscal naughty chair, its shares designated “securities on alert” due to a profit-padding accounting scandal from 2008‒2014 that was revealed in 2015.
Financial figures for the March 2016 ‒ March 2017 fiscal year will not be released until mid-May. Toshiba says that it could end up with a net loss of US$9.1bn for the fiscal year, well over double the estimate provided just a month earlier. “Every time they put out an estimate, the loss gets bigger and bigger,” said Zuhair Khan, an analyst at Jefferies in Tokyo. “I don’t think this is the last cockroach we have seen coming out of Toshiba.”
Toshiba will still be liable for existing cost overruns with the four AP1000 reactors in the US but the bankruptcy filing may limit its liability for future cost overruns. Thus Toshiba has somewhat reduced the likelihood of facing bankruptcy itself … by throwing Westinghouse under a bus. The bankruptcy filing bodes poorly for Westinghouse and the AP1000 projects in Georgia and South Carolina ‒ the future of the company and its reactor projects are in doubt.
Even if Toshiba and Westinghouse survive the unfolding crisis, some of their reactor projects and plans will not. Four AP1000 reactors under construction in China will likely be completed, but plans for more AP1000 reactors in China seem unlikely to progress, and plans for 6‒12 AP1000 reactors in India will likely be shelved.
Toshiba has tried but failed to sell Westinghouse several times already so must instead sell off profitable parts of its operations ‒ including its highly-profitable memory chip business ‒ to stave off bankruptcy.
Incredibly, Toshiba chief executive Satoshi Tsunakawa said in mid-March that Toshiba might have to pay a buyer to take Westinghouse off its hands.
So Friends of the Earth could take control of Westinghouse and use the accompanying payment to turn it into a renewable energy start-up or a karaoke bar franchise? Perhaps, but anyone willing to take Westinghouse off Toshiba’s hands would presumably also be taking on a debt load as well as future risks associated with company’s nuclear business.
Meanwhile, French company Engie has exercised its right to sell its 40% stake in NuGen to Toshiba. NuGen is the consortium which hoped to build three AP1000 reactors at Moorside, near Sellafield, in the UK. Toshiba wanted to sell its 60% stake in NuGen, and now wants to sell its 100% stake.

A big chill
Much more detail could be provided about the possibly fatal problems facing Toshiba and Westinghouse, but let’s instead put the issues into context.
Beyond the direct impact of the unfolding crisis on numerous reactor projects around the world, the most important impact of the crisis is the chilling effect it will have ‒ and is already having ‒ on the nuclear power industry.
The AP1000 fiasco in the US shows that industry giants can be brought to their knees by cost overruns on just a few reactors. Further confirmation comes from two French EPR reactors under construction in France and Finland: combined cost overruns amount to at least US$13.5bn and counting, and French utilities EDF and Areva would both be bankrupt if not for repeated multi-billion-dollar government bailouts.
Governments, energy utilities and companies, banks, and investors will be considerably less likely to gamble on nuclear power in light of recent events. Not many energy utilities and companies are as large, and as capable of absorbing debt, as Toshiba and Westinghouse. And few are as experienced: Toshiba has built 20 reactors in Japan (some in joint ventures), and Westinghouse has built 91 reactors globally. Yet cost overruns on four conventional reactors have brought these industry giants to their knees.
Nuclear lobbyists freaked out
The French Liberation newspaper said on March 29 that the Toshiba / Westinghouse crisis, and the huge problems facing French utilities EDF and Areva, forebode a lasting “nuclear winter”.
A February 15 piece in the Financial Times said: “Hopes of a nuclear renaissance have largely disappeared. For many suppliers, not least Toshiba, simply avoiding a nuclear dark ages would be achievement enough.”
Nuclear advocate Rod Adams wrote in Forbes on March 27: “Outside of Asia and Russia, prospects for nuclear power plants in the extra-large size range seem to be dimming by the week.”
Ted Norhaus from the Breakthrough Institute, a pro-nuclear lobby group, wrote on March 27 about his ideas to forge “a globally competitive advanced nuclear sector … from the ashes of today’s dying industry”. His innovative, ecomodernist proposal is to supersize taxpayer subsidies to the nuclear industry, combined with some Silicon Valley-inspired tish and fipsy about “radically reorganizing the nuclear sector” to facilitate “bottom-up innovation, led by start-ups, not large incumbents”.
Following the Westinghouse bankruptcy filing, the Breakthrough Institute’s Michael Shellenberger said: “I’m freaked out, honestly. If we were building nuclear plants, I wouldn’t be so worried. But if nuclear is dying, I’m alarmed.5
Of course those lobbyists are dramatising the situation to highlight the importance and urgency of supersizing taxpayer subsidies to the nuclear industry. If the nuclear power industry is dying, or if it is dying in the West, that will take some decades to play out. Nonetheless, nuclear power growth can be confidently ruled out in the US, Japan, across EU countries combined, and in numerous other countries for the foreseeable future … not to mention the 160+ countries that are nuclear-free and plan to stay that way.
The industry is downsizing and the recent Toshiba / Westinghouse crisis is the sort of convulsion that inevitably attends an industry-wide downsizing. Smart money has already walked: the UK Nuclear Free Local Authorities noted on April 4 that seven energy utilities and companies have abandoned plans to build new reactors in the UK over the past decade.
The nuclear industry may or may not be dying, but it is certainly in deep trouble and downsizing. After a growth spurt followed by 20 years of stagnation, nuclear power is approaching the Era of Nuclear Decommissioning (END) and recent events tend to confirm that the industry is indeed at the beginning of the END.
Dr Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia and editor of the Nuclear Monitor newsletter produced by the World Information Service on Energy.

April 15, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs | Leave a comment

Nuclear industry sinking into a black financial hole

Nuclear giants limp towards extinction  April 14, 2017, by Paul Brown Cost overruns and delays are pushing the nuclear industry into a financial black hole that threatens any future expansion.

LONDON, 14 April, 2017 – Any lingering hope that a worldwide nuclear power renaissance would contribute to combating climate change appears to have been dashed by US company Westinghouse, the largest provider of nuclear technology in the world, filing for bankruptcy, and the severe financial difficulties of its Japanese parent company, Toshiba.

After months of waiting, Toshiba still could not get its auditors to agree to its accounts this week. But it went ahead anyway and reported losses of nearly $5 billion for the eight months from April to December, in order to avoid being de-listed from the Japanese stock exchange.

The company admitted it too could face bankruptcy, and is attempting to raise capital by selling viable parts of its business.

In a statement, it said: “There are material events and conditions that raise substantial doubt about the company‘s ability to continue as a going concern.”

Nuclear reactors

The knock-on effects of the financial disasters the two companies face will be felt across the nuclear world, but nowhere more than in the UK, which was hoping Westinghouse was about to start building three of its largest nuclear reactors, the AP 1000, at Moorside in Cumbria, northwest England.

The UK’s Conservative government will be particularly embarrassed because, in late February, it won a critical parliamentary by-election in the seat that would be home to the Moorside plant, on the guarantee that the three reactors would be built − a pledge that now seems impossible to keep.

Martin Forwood, campaign co-ordinator for Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment, says: “I think the day of the large-scale nuclear power station is over. There is no one left to invest anymore because renewables are just cheaper, and these prices are still going down while nuclear is always up.”

Toshiba and Westinghouse are in deep trouble because the reactors they are currently building − the same design as the ones planned for Cumbria − are years late and billions of dollars over budget. Even if the companies can be re-financed, it seems extremely unlikely they would risk taking on new reactor projects.

Both the UK and Toshiba have looked to the South Korean nuclear giant KEPCOto take over the Moorside project, but the company is unlikely to want to build the Westinghouse design and would want to put forward its own reactor, the APR 1400.

“There is no one left to invest anymore because
renewables are just cheaper, and these prices
are still going down while nuclear is always up”

This would delay the project for years, since the whole safety case for a new type of reactor would have to be examined from scratch.

But the company is already under pressure from within South Korea, where Members of Parliament have urged KEPCO not to take on a risky project in the UK. Twenty-eight members of the Republic of Korea’s “Caucus on Post-Nuclear Energy” have called on KEPCO not to invest in Moorside.

The other nuclear giant present in Britain, the French-owned Électricité de France (EDF), is in serious difficulties of its own. It is already deep in debt and its flagship project to build a prototype 1,600 megawatt reactor at Flamanville in northern France is six years behind schedule and three times over budget at €10.5 billion.

Originally due to open in 2012, its start date is now officially the end of 2018, but even that is in doubt because an investigation into poor quality steel in the reactor’s pressure vessel is yet to be completed.

Despite this, the company and the UK government are committed to building two more of these giant reactors in Somerset in southwest England, and have started pouring concrete for the bases to put them on. These reactors are due to be completed in 2025, but nobody outside the company and the UK government believes this is likely.

So, with troubles of its own, EDF is in no position to help Toshiba out of its financial difficulties. In the nuclear world, this leaves only the Chinese and the Russians who might be capable of taking on such a project.

The Russians will be ruled out on political grounds, and the Chinese are already helping out EDF with a large financial stake in the Somerset project. They also want to build a nuclear station of their own design at Bradwell in Essex, southeast England – another project that looks likely to take more than a decade to complete.

Vast capital costs The problem for all these projects, apart from the vast capital cost and the timescales involved, is that the energy industry is changing dramatically. Solar and wind power are now a cheaper form of producing electricity across the world, and are less capital-intensive and quicker to build.

Despite the fact that there are more than 430 nuclear reactors in operation worldwide and the industry still has great economic and political clout, it is beginning to look like a dinosaur – too big and cumbersome to adapt to new conditions.

Nuclear power now produces about 10% of the world’s electricity, while 40% is from coal and 23% from renewables. The rest is mainly from natural gas.

Dr Jim Green, national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia, says: “Nuclear lobbyists are abandoning the tiresome rhetoric about a nuclear power renaissance. They are now acknowledging that the industry is in crisis.

“The crisis-ridden US, French and Japanese nuclear industries account for half of worldwide nuclear power generation.

“Renewable energy generation doubled over the past decade, and strong growth, driven by sharp cost decreases, will continue for the foreseeable future.” – Climate News Network

Comment:  Terrific article, thank you – encompassing the severe problem that nuclear power can survive only where tax-payer funds it.  However, I wish that you would also consider the way in whic h this nuclear financial crisis is being cleverly used by the “new nukes” lobby. In Britain, the thorium nuclear lobby have managed to get themselves the status of a registered charity!!   That’s the Alvin Weinberg Foundation (not to be confused with the genuine charity in the USA the Weinberg Foundation)   Comanies like NuScale, Fluor, Transatomic, Terrestrial Energy, etc are touting their wares to government. The argument goes lik ethis. “Our reactors, (still only as bluepints), are different from the conventional ones. Therefor they must be safer cheaper, and a boon to humanity.”

April 15, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs | Leave a comment

Toshiba’s financial woes – a bad omen for UK nuclear programme: is Moorside dead?

Toshiba’s US nuclear problems provide cautionary tale for UK  Experts say construction delays and cost problems at two plants are due to lack of experience and absence of supply chains, Guardian, , 14 Apr 17, 

The roots of Toshiba’s admission this week that it has serious doubts over its “ability to continue as a going concern” can be found near two small US towns.

It is the four reactors being built for nuclear power stations outside Waynesboro, in Georgia, and Jenkinsville, South Carolina, by the company’s US subsidiary Westinghouse that have left the Japanese corporation facing an annual loss of £7.37bn.

Construction work on the units has run hugely over budget and over schedule, casting a shadow over two of the biggest new nuclear power station projects in the US for years.

Events came to a head last month when Westinghouse was forced to file for bankruptcy protection to limit Toshiba’s losses……..

Toshiba’s losses stem from Westinghouse’s acquisition in 2015 of the nuclear construction business CB&I Stone & Webster, which it hoped would solve the delays on the two sites. That deal has now backfired spectacularly, pushing Westinghouse and its parent company to the brink of financial collapse.

The regulator for one of the projects, Plant Vogtle, in Georgia, has said Westinghouse’s bankruptcy means the project will require more “time and money”.

 Meanwhile the utility company paying for the Virgil C Summer Nuclear Generating Station, near Jenkinsville, South Carolina, warned this week that abandonment of the project was one of the options it was now considering………

Nephew said: “This experience may push the US into a different model, perhaps focused on smaller modular reactors, or less complicated designs.”

The US energy secretary, Rick Perry, signalled the Trump administration’s support for nuclear this week, issuing a statement at the G7 summit in which he said the US backed “advanced civil-nuclear technologies”. That suggested support for next-generation reactors rather than the sort being built by Westinghouse.

Richard Morningstar, chairman of the Global Energy Centre at the international affairs thinktank Atlantic Council, said: “What is happening to Westinghouse and Toshiba only emphasises the need to double down on research on new, safe, nuclear technologies, such as small modular reactors. If we do not do so in the US, leadership will be ceded to other countries.”

One such aspiring atomic leader is the UK, where the government wants to build a new generation of nuclear power stations to help satisfy the country’s power needs for decades to come.

But there are obvious parallels between the two countries on the issues of recent experience and supply chains. The UK has not completed a new nuclear power station since Sizewell B on the Suffolk coast started generating power in 1995………

The EPR reactor design for Hinkley is the same as that for the reactors it is building in Finland, and at Flamanville, in France, though both of those are running late and over budget.

The other new nuclear projects proposed around the UK, all by foreign companies, look less certain and all are still years from construction starting in earnest.

Toshiba said this week it would consider selling its shares in the consortium behind another plant planned at Moorside, in Cumbria, which would utilise three of the same AP1000 Westinghouse reactors being built for the two crisis-hit US plants.

The South Korean power company Kepco last month expressed an interest in buying into the project, and the business secretary , Greg Clark, went to South Korea last week for talks on collaboration on nuclear power.

However, any rescue by Seoul is far from certain. The two leading candidates in South Korea’s elections in May said this week that they favoured rowing back on nuclear power and switching to renewable energy. Kepco would also face a regulatory delay of several years if it wanted to use its own technology at Moorside……..

While the government has argued that it has plans in place to keep the lights on if new nuclear projects do not materialise, others said the deepening crisis at Toshiba this week showed the need for ministers to consider a new energy policy.

“It’s time to come up with a new plan A,” said Paul Dorfman, of the Energy Institute, at University College London, who believes the Moorside project is dead. “It’s time for a viable strategy that talks about grid upgrades, solar, energy efficiency, and energy management.”

A report published on Thursday highlighted another alternative: a U-turn on the Conservative party’s manifesto commitment to block new onshore windfarms. Analysis for the trade body Scottish Renewables suggested wind turbines on land had become so cheap they could be built for little or no subsidy, compared to the lucrative contract awarded to EDF for Hinkley.

April 15, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, UK | Leave a comment

Nuclear contractors not turning up for work amid Westinghouse woes by Bloomberg – 14/04/2017The company contracted to build Scana Corp.’s two nuclear reactors in South Carolina went bankrupt. Scana’s credits ratings are, as a result, at risk of downgrades. Its shares have plunged.

And now some of the people hired to help finish the reactors aren’t showing up for work.

In a meeting Wednesday, Scana executives assured South Carolina regulators that work continues on the two reactors being installed at its V.C. Summer plant, despite Toshiba Corp.’s Westinghouse Electric unit filing for Chapter 11 last month. But the Cayce, South Carolina-based utility owner also said Westinghouse is cutting weekend and overtime work and that contractor Fluor Corp. has seen a “high incidence” of new hires failing to show up for training since Westinghouse went bankrupt.

“We’re monitoring this aspect of the project to see if that trend continues,” Stephen Byrne, a senior vice president at Scana, said, based on a transcript released by the state Public Service Commission Thursday. “Work continues on-site without substantial disruption,” he said, adding that about $120 million a month is being paid to keep up construction.

Westinghouse’s bankruptcy has thrown the fate of both Scana’s reactors and Southern’s Vogtle nuclear project in Georgia into question. Westinghouse has estimated that finishing the plants may cost another $4 billion that it can’t collect from Southern and Scana. The projects are already years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget. Byrne identified Fluor and Bechtel as two companies capable of finishing Scana’s project should Westinghouse drop out as lead contractor.

Fluor didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Scana Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Addison said during Wednesday’s meeting that the company was recently told by Westinghouse that its V.C. Summer project accounts for $1.5 billion of those estimated cost overruns. Should Westinghouse walk away from its obligations, the utility may collect about $1.7 billion worth of damages from it and could seek compensation directly from Toshiba.

“Toshiba has a number of very valuable businesses, the most prominent of which is its flash memory business — in fact, they invented the flash memory and are Apple’s principal flash memory supplier,” Addison said. “Our assessment is that there is substantial at Toshiba to support our claim for damages if Westinghouse fails to pay.”

Scana is in the middle of a 30-day evaluation period during which it’s reviewing its options for the V.C. Summer project. The company’s considering continuing construction, abandoning plans for one of the two reactors or dropping the project altogether and seeking recovery under state law.

The entire project is about one-third complete, Byrne said.

April 15, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

American nuclear power industry prospects down the drain, after Westinghouse bankruptcy

A Bankruptcy That Wrecked Global Prospects Of American Nuclear Energy, Forbes, Kenneth Rapoza , 13 Apr 17  ……The bankruptcy of Westinghouse Electric Company (WEC) has ruined its global ambitions. While the Pennsylvania-based company asserts that its March 29 filing for creditor protection doesn’t impact its businesses globally, very few seem to believe it as its Japanese parent company Toshiba Corp. warned on Tuesday that WEC may have nuked its future…….

On Tuesday, Toshiba dimmed hopes when it reported third quarter earnings losses of $5.2 billion for the 9 months ending Dec. 31. They still cannot get their earnings properly audited, prompting rumors of a delisting on the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE). Bloomberg reported that Toshiba’s continued write-down of Westinghouse nuclear power plants, all of them delayed by years and some of them being suspended outright, could hurt the company’s balance sheet so severely that it gets sentenced to second-class status on the TSE. That would trigger a deeper sell off of index funds mandated to hold the stock. If you have to point fingers, WEC’s nuclear power plant is where to aim……..
At this point, building new AP1000 nuclear power plants seems like wishful thinking.

“I see enormous difficulties ahead for Westinghouse,” says Simon Taylor, director of the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge. Westinghouse was working on an over $20-billion Toshiba-controlled project in the north of England called Moorside, intending to build three of its pressurized water reactors known as the AP1000.  Following the bankruptcy announcement, Engie, a French utility, exercised its option to sell its 40% interest to Toshiba, and quit the project. Now Toshiba is desperate to sell the fully-owned site to competitors as it doesn’t stand a single chance to raise money needed to build the plant.

Taylor thinks Westinghouse, one of the oldest names in U.S. electric power, will now have a harder time. China was their biggest hope.

“The Chinese, so far as I can tell, will never buy another AP1000 again,” Taylor says…….

[In India] . Experts doubt that any commercial contract could be signed until there is a clarity about Toshiba’s exit and Westinghouse’s own future while the calls to scrap the project altogether are gaining momentum…..

In Eastern Europe, Westinghouse prospects look even bleaker. Westinghouse has always relied in the U.S. geopolitical clout to get business there. In order to weaken Russia’s influence in the region Washington would all but force former communist countries into choosing WEC’s often untested offering or even scrapping competitors’ projects. But with all that political support the problem has always been in Westinghouse’s inability to finance its projects.

Westinghouse signed a contract in Bulgaria in 2014 for the construction of an AP1000 power plant at the Kozloduy site. There has been little progress since then as neither the client nor the vendor are capable of finding money for the project.

Back home, both of the two nuclear power plants being built in the U.S are AP1000s. Both are a combined $17 billion over budget.

Over the next 12 years, the U.S. has around 15 nuclear power plants on paper. Of those 12, five have been suspended, including Westinghouse’s planned 2029 project with Duke Energy in Florida to build two reactors. Their other Duke project, in South Carolina, is now delayed by at least three years and with this bankruptcy, will probably never get built. WEC’s two new AP1000 projects are licensed by Duke. “We’ve been monitoring Westinghouse and their other projects here and across the world…but we are not making any decisions to build and not going to speculate on that right now,” says Rita Sipe, a spokesperson for Duke Energy.

The Economist magazine speculated on April 1 that there would be ugly lawsuits in South Carolina and Georgia, adding that the future of the AP1000 “looks bleak”. Sadly, it was not an April Fool’s joke.

While it is certainly common in nuclear power plant construction to witness delays and cost over-runs, WEC seems to have carved out a niche of notoriety here. It’s finally bankrupted them.

“It’s hard to see who would be able, willing and permitted to buy WEC,” says Taylor. The Trump Administration says it is seeking a non-Chinese owner of Westinghouse. WEC is not yet talking about selling assets……

April 14, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Toshiba to dump UK Moorside nuclear project, in effort to stay afloat?

Toshiba considers sale of Moorside nuclear project in Cumbria as own survival in doubt in wake of £7bn losses 11 APRIL 2017

Toshiba is considering selling a stake in its nuclear project in Cumbria after warning it could struggle to remain in business  as a result of expected annual losses of more than 1trn yen (£7bn).

The Japanese conglomerate, which makes everything from flash memory drives to laptops and semiconductors, admitted it is considering selling some or all of nuclear specialist NuGeneration to keep itself afloat.

NuGen currently owns 100pc of the Moorside site, after buying 40pc back from France’s Engie for $138.5m (£111m) earlier this month.That sale followed the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing of Westinghouse, another Toshiba-owned company which is set to provide reactors for Moorside.

Asked what it would do with NuGeneration, a Toshiba spokesman said while no final decisions have been made “we would like to explore alternatives, including the sales of shares.”

He went on to explain that Toshiba is “carefully monitoring the situation in consultation with other stakeholders including the British Government.”Separately NuGeneration said it had been looking for investors prior to Westinghouse’s troubles and emphasised that the construction of Moorside was always going to be done by a third party.

But a spokesman acknowledged “there is no certainty” with regards to Westinghouse’s involvement in the development stage of the project.

Theoretically, Westinghouse’s AP1000 reactors, which have received regulatory approval, remain attached to the project but if a new investor were to come on board, it is unclear if different reactors may be proposed, potentially delaying the already behind schedule project yet further.

Samira Rudiga an energy fund manager at Guinness Asset Management, said the news was another nail in the coffin for the UK’s nuclear hopes.

“Nuclear does not make sense in the UK,” she said. “It takes 10 years to build and can take as long if not longer just to come to a decision to build a plant.”However, she expects the Government to still consider nuclear projects and thought there would be companies in Europe and Asia able to take on Toshiba’s stake in Moorside.

Greg Clark, the Business secretary, travelled to South Korea earlier this month in a bid to save the project, appealing to Korean nuclear giant Kepco to invest.

Toshiba reported a pre-tax loss of 597bn yen for the nine months to December 31, smashing through its  earlier guidance of a 390bn loss for the full financial year.

“For the reasons stated above, there are material events and conditions that raise the substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern,” Toshiba said.

At the end of 2016, the impending multi-billion-dollar write down triggered one of the worst-ever share fallsfor a major Japanese company, with ratings downgrades and investor pessimism erasing almost all of its 87pc rally so far that year. Toshiba delayed publication of its annual results twice prior to publication, and the company took the unusual step of publishing its accounts without sign-off from its auditor, PriceWaterhouseCoopers Aarata.

Toshiba said that while it had not yet fully determined the full cost of restructuring Westinghouse, its calculations suggested net income would fall by roughly 620bn yen.

April 12, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, UK | Leave a comment