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S and P Global Ratings has made it plain: nuclear power can survive only with massive tax-payer support

Nuclear power ‘dead and alive’, S&P proclaims, EURACTIV, 13 Nov 19, Growing competition from cheap renewable electricity, safety concerns, and rising costs of new plants are slowly driving nuclear power over the edge – except in Russia and China where the industry continues to enjoy extensive state support, S&P said in a note to investors.It’s probably one of the worst kept secrets in the energy world: nuclear power wouldn’t be able to stand on its own feet without massive government support.

Now, S&P Global Ratings has made it plain and clear to investors.

“The global nuclear industry is facing challenges to do with safety concerns, tightening regulations post-Fukushima, phase-out policies in several countries, aging asset bases, increasingly volatile energy markets, and competition with renewables,” the rating agency wrote in the note, released on Monday (11 November).

“We see little economic rationale for new nuclear builds in the US or Western Europe, owing to massive cost escalations and renewables cost-competitiveness, which should lead to a material decline in nuclear generation by 2040,” S&P said.

But despite those challenges, it would be too soon to pronounce nuclear power dead, S&P adds. China and Russia, for instance, continue to build new nuclear capacities, supported by energy policies and significantly lower construction costs, the rating agency remarked.

In the US, Energy Secretary Rick Perry has touted small modular reactors (SMRs) as key to the industry’s future, saying small reactors could provide access to electricity in areas of the globe which are currently “shrouded in darkness”. ……..

In Europe, a battle has been raging below the radar on whether to include or reject nuclear power from an upcoming sustainable finance classification scheme aimed at driving private investments into the green economy.

While France supports the inclusion of nuclear in the EU’s draft green finance taxonomy, Germany and Austria argue nuclear isn’t sustainable and shouldn’t be eligible for any kind of EU support. A final decision on the EU’s sustainable finance taxonomy is expected in December.

November 14, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs | Leave a comment

Messianic Rick Perry preaches nuclear to sceptical Europeans

Messianic Perry preaches nuclear to sceptical Europeans, By Frédéric Simon | Oct 26, 2019  Small nuclear reactors can help “vulnerable nations take control of their destinies,” the US energy secretary said in Brussels today (21 October), claiming that small off-grid nuclear plants can bring electricity to poor nations and “disperse the darkness” around the globe…….

Today’s remarks, made in Brussels at the first EU-US high-level forum on small modular reactors, were again chiefly aimed at Eastern European countries, which have repeatedly complained about Russian interference in national politics, using gas as a lever.

Nuclear is a divise topic in Europe. While countries like France opted for it decades ago, others like Germany and Austria are strongly opposed.

“Nuclear energy is neither safe and sustainable nor cost-effective,” said German State Secretary for Energy, Andreas Feicht, during a recent meeting of EU energy ministers,  firmly rejecting suggestions that EU money might be used to extend the lifetime of existing nuclear plants.

Today’s remarks, made in Brussels at the first EU-US high-level forum on small modular reactors, were again chiefly aimed at Eastern European countries, which have repeatedly complained about Russian interference in national politics, using gas as a lever.

Nuclear is a divise topic in Europe. While countries like France opted for it decades ago, others like Germany and Austria are strongly opposed.

“Nuclear energy is neither safe and sustainable nor cost-effective,” said German State Secretary for Energy, Andreas Feicht, during a recent meeting of EU energy ministers,  firmly rejecting suggestions that EU money might be used to extend the lifetime of existing nuclear plants……

November 14, 2019 Posted by | EUROPE, marketing, USA | Leave a comment

The push for nuclear power in Africa, but what happens to the wastes?

November 14, 2019 Posted by | AFRICA, marketing, wastes | Leave a comment

Georgia Power and the ballooning costs of Nuclear Plant Vogtle

Plant Vogtle Expansion in the Spotlight: billion$ more at risk

 Sara Barczak, SACE consultant and former Regional Advocacy Director. November 8, 2019 On the heels of public hearings before the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) on Georgia Power’s controversial $2.2 billion rate increase request, the “Elephant in the Room” will be in the spotlight: the over budget, more than five year delayed Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion. The PSC will hold a hearing this Tuesday for Georgia Power witnesses to testify about the project’s status in the combined 20th/21st semi-annual Vogtle Construction Monitoring (VCM) proceeding.

In the 19th VCM, approved last February, the Commission decided to combine the next two reporting periods, which SACE and others opposed, and as predicted, Georgia Power has since spent a lot on the mismanaged nuclear project. The Company is now asking for verification and approval of $1.248 billion in expenditures. And that’s just for Georgia Power’s 45.7% share of the costs incurred during the reporting period from July 2018 to June 2019 for the two new AP1000 reactors under construction at Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro, along the Savannah River.

The continuing saga is like a broken record in each of these VCM proceedings, and it remains mostly the same upon reading Georgia Power’s report and the witnesses’ written testimony, which will be discussed before the Commission on Tuesday.

The project (again) isn’t meeting the productivity goals and appears to be falling further behind schedule, but Georgia Power remains confident (again) that they will somehow have Unit 3 online by November 2021 and Unit 4 by November 2022. Remember, these reactors were supposed to both be operational by April 2017!

And (again) Georgia Power provides itself an out, pointing (again) to a multitude of potential “challenges” in the months ahead that could impact the schedule and most importantly ultimate costs to the utility customers. Because of consistent delays and mismanagement, the currently-projected total cost of this project has more than doubled from the original $14.1 billion estimate to over $28 billion.

Georgia Power customers concerned about their utility bills should let the Commission know that not only are they worried about how the proposed rate hike will affect their bills, but are also very concerned about what happens when the other shoe drops – when Plant Vogtle’s final budget-busting price tag gets rolled into customer’s electricity rates.

Unable to attend the November 12 hearing? Watch online starting at 9am ET via the PSC’s livestream feed and contact the PSC with your concerns.

November 12, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

France considering building 6 new EDF nuclear reactors at a cost of at least 46 billion euros ($51 billion)

France’s EDF expects six new nuclear reactors to cost 46 billion euros: Le Monde, PARIS (Reuters) 11 Nov 19 – French power utility EDF estimates it would cost at least 46 billion euros ($51 billion) to build six of its latest generation EPR nuclear reactors if the government decides to build them, French newspaper Le Monde reported on Saturday.The estimate was in a confidential document presented to the board of state-controlled EDF at the end of July, it said.

The EPR model is the latest generation reactor being built by EDF, with complex engineering and enhanced safety features put in place after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown in Japan.

However, the Flamanville EPR reactor under construction in northern France has been plagued by cost overruns and a series of technical problems resulting in years of delays.

EDF, in which the state has an 84% stake, said in October the project which began in 2006 would cost 1.5 billion euros more than previously expected, raising the total cost to 12.4 billion euros.

November 12, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics | Leave a comment

EDF – a nuclear business financial meltdown

The world’s largest nuclear power producer is melting down MSN, Bloomberg, Francois De Beaupuy, 1 Nov 19, 
On the shores of the English channel in Normandy, engineers are struggling to fix eight faulty welds at a plant that’s supposed to showcase France’s savoir faire in nuclear power.As they consider sending in robots to access hard-to-get-to areas between two containment walls, for Electricite de France it’s just the latest setback in a project that’s running a decade late and almost four times over budget.

“We hear every year that there’s a new problem,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Monday. It is not acceptable that one of the most prestigious and strategic sectors for our country is facing so many difficulties.”

The Flamanville plant is now slated to be completed in 2022 at a price tag of 12.4 billion euros ($13.8 billion), with the latest glitch costing a whopping 1.5 billion euros. Bemoaning the loss of France’s edge in the sector because of a 15-year gap between the start of construction at the plant and that of the previous reactor, Le Maire has given EDF a month to come up with an action plan to restore the industry’s know-how before the country can determine whether it will build any new atomic plants.

For the world’s largest producer of nuclear power producer, Flamanville is just one of many challenges. Across the channel, delays at two U.K. reactors have upped the cost to as much as 22.5 billion pounds ($28.9 billion), 2.9 billion pounds more than previously estimated. EDF also faces mounting costs of maintaining 58 domestic nuclear plants that provide more than 70% of France’s power.

Add to the mix the fact that the former electricity monopoly is losing market share among French corporate and residential clients as rivals buy a part of the electricity it generates at below-market prices, and it’s easy to see why investors are bearish about the company. EDF’s stock has lost 34% this year, making it the second worst-performing utility in the Stoxx 600 Utilities Index of European companies.

A year ago, EDF was Europe’s biggest utility by market value. Now, its market capitalization stands at 28 billion euros, less than half that of Italy’s Enel SpA, which has swelled to 69 billion euros on the success of its renewable business. RWE AG, the German utility planning to shut down its nuclear plants and progressively phase out coal-fired plants, is up 43% this year and Orsted A/S, the Danish champion in offshore wind, whose revenue is about a sixth of EDF’s, has surpassed the French giant.

“Investors are staying away because of current uncertainties following the strongly negative news flow on the reputation of the nuclear industry,” said Auguste Deryckx, an analyst at AlphaValue. “The CEO’s stubbornness in pursuing nuclear, which is limiting potential growth in renewables that are better valued by the market, remains a black spot.”

EDF is struggling to cover the 15 billion euros it needs annually to maintain its aging nuclear reactors, build new atomic and renewable projects, upgrade its electricity network and roll out smart meters, even after cutting 1.1 billion euros in cost cuts in the past four years. Profits have been hit not only by falling power prices, but by safety issues that have forced reactors to be shut for several months in France and the U.K. Other clouds on the horizon—the decommissioning of two of its oldest reactors next year and a dozen more by 2035, and the treatment of nuclear waste.

The one-time monopoly—now about 83% owned by the state—needs some drastic measures, says Chief Executive Officer Jean-Bernard Levy, who’s pushing the state for an increase in the regulated prices at which rivals buy the company’s nuclear power……..

November 2, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, France | Leave a comment

Nuclear costs escalate as wind prices keeps falling,

WindEconomics: Nuclear escalates as wind prices keeps falling, WindPower monthly, 31 October 2019 by David Milborrow

Nuclear power is too expensive. That is the implicit conclusion of the UK government, which has issued a consultation document on possible ways of reducing the electricity price.

This would be possible if the government — which can borrow money cheaply –shouldered some of the risks and/or provided some finance.

The consultation focuses on “regulated asset base” models. The document describes these models as “typically used for funding UK monopoly infrastructure” and involving “an economic regulator who grants a licence to a company to charge a regulated price to users of the infrastructure”.

One of the advantages for developers is that charges can be levied before the project is completed.

The range of possible prices quoted in the consultation document, shown in the top below, bears out the maxim that “prices are what you want them to be”.

They range from a minimum of -£6/MWh, when the state shoulders all the risks and the rate of return for the government is 2%, to £137/MWh, when the investors demand a 12% rate of return and bear all the risks. In the first case, the cost to the taxpayer would be £18 billion.

The present contract for the under-construction Hinkley Point C power station, which has been widely criticised, is based on a 9% rate of return and an electricity price of £92.5/MWh (2012 prices). That is about £106/MWh (€119/MWh on 1 October) in 2019 prices.

It was announced on 25 September that the estimated cost of the project had risen by nearly 10% — to £21.5-22.5 billion.

The price of electricity to the consumer will not increase, but the profitability for developer EDF will be reduced. This gives a new benchmark price for nuclear of £6,750/kW, as the facility’s output will be 3.26GW.

The effects of moving away from state funding can be illustrated by looking back to the first public inquiry for Hinkley Point…..

November 2, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, renewable, UK | Leave a comment

African countries being conned into nuclear debt, by Russia

African countries rush to sign nuclear deals with Russia, Daily Maverick By Peter Fabricius• 29 October 2019

But concerns are being raised about whether they can all afford nuclear energy.

The Russian nuclear power corporation Rosatom has already signed nuclear cooperation agreements with about 18 African counties, as Russia accelerates its drive for nuclear business on the continent.

The growing commitment of African countries to high capital cost nuclear energy has raised some concern about whether they are committing themselves to unaffordable debt.

Rosatom director-general Alexey Likhachev revealed a large number of nuclear agreements with African countries after signing an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy with the Ethiopian Minister of Innovation and Technology, Getahun Mekuria Kuma, during the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi on the Black Sea last week.

Mekuria later told the Russian official news agency Tass that Ethiopia had plants to build a nuclear power plant.

Rosatom later also signed an agreement with Rwanda at the summit on cooperation for the construction of a centre of nuclear science and technology in Rwanda. Rosatom had a strong presence at the economic forum which paralleled the political summit. The Rosatom stand attracted scores of interested African government officials on the sidelines of the forum. …..

Likhachev told journalists after the discussion that Rosatom had now signed memoranda of understanding or intergovernmental agreements with about one-third of countries on the continent – about 18. He could not say how many of these were about scientific cooperation and how many were about producing nuclear energy “because very often those two tracks go hand in hand”.

But he did say in the discussion that about half of the African countries with which Rosatom had signed nuclear agreements were actively discussing joint projects with the corporation, which had been stipulated in contracts. The most advanced joint project is with Egypt, which has contracted Rosatom to build a 4,800MW nuclear power plant……

“We are ready to propose to Ethiopia cutting-edge solutions of nuclear technology. And our Ethiopian partners are invited to visit nuclear facilities in our country.

“Apart from larger capacity nuclear power plants, we also stand ready to offer smaller capacity, modular reactors.”

……..However, the apparent rush to nuclear energy by African countries has raised some concerns that they may be committing themselves to high capital costs of nuclear power production which they will be unable to afford.

Analysts have noted that even South Africa, one of the top two economies on the continent, backed away from an apparent commitment by former president Jacob Zuma to order 9,600MW of nuclear power plant production from Rosatom – at an estimated cost of about R1-trillion.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said after meeting Putin on the sidelines of the summit that the Russian president had once again asked him if South Africa was still interested in building a nuclear power plant and he had told him once again that it still could not afford to.

An African minister at the summit told Daily Maverick that although power plants could be an important source of economic growth, African countries were sinking further into debt and had to be careful to ensure they could afford the infrastructure they built.

Likhachev defended nuclear energy as an economical source of electricity over the long term. ……….

Olivier Nduhungirehe, Rwandan minister in charge of the East African community  would not be drawn on the cost and affordability implications, saying the details of the agreement would be announced in due course.

October 31, 2019 Posted by | AFRICA, marketing, politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

USA negotiating nuclear sales with Saudi Arabia

October 31, 2019 Posted by | marketing, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

Countries vie to market nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia

October 31, 2019 Posted by | marketing, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Russia’s Rosatom nuclear firm targets its marketing at African countries

Russia’s State-Owned Nuclear Giant Is Targeting Africa for its Growth

By Paul Burkhardt   October 30, 2019, 
  •  Russian developer has signed over a dozen agreements in Africa
  •  Various financing options being considered for the plant build

Rosatom Corp., is eyeing Africa as one of its “priority regions” to build more nuclear reactors and expand its business……(Subscribers only)

October 31, 2019 Posted by | AFRICA, marketing | Leave a comment

France’s government demands that EDF fix Flamanville nuclear reactor within one month

EDF given a month to draw up a fix for Flamanville’s nuclear woes French energy group under pressure to address faults highlighted in a new report.  David Keohane in Paris, 28 Oct 19.

The French government has given energy group EDF a month to deliver a plan to fix the litany of problems at the state-backed group’s over-budget flagship nuclear project at Flamanville. The planned plant at Flamanville in north-west France is considered a litmus test for the next-generation European Pressurised Reactor technology, and will help determine whether the French government will build further nuclear plants.
EDF had warned earlier this month that the cost of the project had ballooned by €1.5bn to €12.4bn, in part due to faulty weldings. On Monday, a government-commissioned report into the failings at Flamanville lambasted EDF. It pointed to several issues besetting the wider French nuclear industry, including a lack of specific skills at EDF, poor project management and headaches the group has had in integrating the nuclear business of its failed competitor Areva.

 “This is a failure for the entire French nuclear power industry, we must recognise this failure and treat it and address all the consequences,” Bruno Le Maire, French finance minister, said at a press conference in Paris.

 Flamanville was “supposed to have cost €3bn and its construction was supposed to have lasted four and a half years; it will now cost four times as much, and its construction will last for 15 years,” Mr Le Maire added.

 A decision by French president Emmanuel Macron on whether to build new nuclear plants comes as the government aims to cut the percentage of nuclear electricity used in France from 72 per cent to 50 per cent. Even as the overall percentage generated by nuclear drops, new plans may need to be build as older ones are shut.
Construction at Flamanville has been delayed until the end of 2022, having previously been scheduled for the end of 2019. EDF, which is controlled by the government, is also gearing up for an internal reorganisation of its structure.
 For EDF, the quid pro quo for reorganising itself is the hope of a new higher price for its nuclear energy — assuming it can be agreed with Brussels.
 Flamanville is just one of three projects being built in Europe using the next-generation EPR technology. The other two are the Olkiluoto project in Finland, which is more than a decade late, and the UK’s Hinkley Point, which is also delayed and mired in controversy over its high costs.

October 29, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics | Leave a comment

The reprehensible pro nuclear campaign for bailing out nuclear power in Ohio

Melting Ice, Crumbling Nukes, Cecile Pineta Newsletter Sunday, October 27, 2019 For anyone following or attempting to follow nuclear energy news in the United States, what’s been going on in the State of Ohio is a solid indicator of just where we stand, technologically, and from a style of government standpoint.

Without going into stupefying background detail, I’ll try to sum up the Ohio situation with help from the summary published Oct. 26 by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman who have been birddogging this issue for decades now. And I quote:

  • In July, the gerrymandered Ohio Legislature passed HB6, a massive

[1 billion-dollar] bailout to keep the two dying nukes operating on Lake Erie, [Davis-Besse, and Perry].

  • Akron-based First Energy is bankrupt…[demanding] a promised $1 billion bailout.
  • Signature gatherers were offered as much as $2,500 to turn over their signed petitions. [Contrast this with receiving only $.25 cents a signature.]

While disrupting legitimate [signature] gatherers, pro-nuke thugs aggressively collected multiple duplicate signatures for a fake non-binding petition.

Deep Pockets

  • First Energy then claimed it had gathered more than 800,000 “pro-nuke’ signatures.
  • First Energy accompanied [thug] assaults with a massive radio/TV/mailer campaign [with the ridiculous claim that] “Chinese Communists” were buying Ohio’s grid.
  • OACB’s court filing showed that state regulations imposed on certification have vastly reduced the number of referenda Ohioans can vote on.
  • Wednesday last, Oct. 26, a federal judge rejected OACB’s request for more time to gather signatures, and sent the case to the Ohio GOP-dominated Supreme Court.
  • OACB is rumored to have about 225,000 signatures on hand, 40,000 short of the threshold. Far more will be needed to overcome a [Republican] Secretary of State certain to disallow as many as [possible].
  • [And here’s the kicker:] Polls show Ohioans [who will be the rate-payers] vehemently opposed to the bailout. [That’s why] most observers believe if it [got] on the ballot, the referendum would pass by a large margin.
  • [But] should Federal appeals fail, and the Ohio Supreme Court refuse the request for more time, the referendum process will have suffered a potential death blow nationwide. It will mean Fascist thugs will be free to assault legitimate signature gatherers at will.

This last point is the main take-away. First Energy mounted this campaign in major Ohio cities: Youngstown, Akron, Toledo, and Columbus among them. It underwrote its million-dollar-plus cost-of-doing business in flyers, TV/radio/mailer announcements. It paid thousands of goon-disrupters to do their thuggish business on the streets.

At play is a $1 billion bailout. A million-dollar cost-of-doing business is a mere investment, a drop in the corporate bucket. At issue is that its cost will be passed directly to ratepayers.

Core tests conducted at Davis Besse show that its containment vessel is critically embrittled. Should there be an accident (like Three-Mile Island for example} Lake Erie is at serious risk of nuclear contamination. First Energy’s ratepayers draw their water from Lake Erie, the fourth largest of the Great Lakes and source of fresh water for Canadians and Americans living in the area.

Already in 2011, following the nuclear catastrophe at Fukushima, I covered the issue of Davis Besse’s critical embrittlement in Devil’s Tango: How I Learned the Fukushima Step by Step.

That was 8 years ago…..

October 28, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | 1 Comment

Over 300 financial institutions put $748 billion in to nuclear weapons companies

300 lenders invest $748 bil. in top nuclear weapon producers: report KYODO NEWS – Oct 26, 2019 More than 300 financial institutions in the world invested a total of $748 billion in companies involved in the nuclear weapons industry in a two-year period through January, according to a report by an international nongovernmental organization.

Of the 325 investors, eight are Japanese lenders with a total investment of $25.5 billion, says the Netherlands-based PAX. The eight include Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., Mizuho Financial Group Inc. and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc.

The 18 recipients, which PAX calls “the top 18 nuclear weapon producing companies,” include Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. a U.S. defense giant involved in the manufacturing of the long-range nuclear Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile.

The total investment was up 42 percent from the tally in the previous report, which covered 20 companies in a period between January 2014 and October 2017, according to Susi Snyder, a PAX member who is the main author of the new report.

She attributed the increase to a 192 percent jump by Boeing and a 300 percent surge by French defense company Thales SA.

Snyder, however, said the number of investors “continues to drop” amid rising criticism against investment in inhumane weapons such as nuclear bombs.

She cited a provision in the nuclear weapons ban treaty banning “to assist” developing nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devises. The treaty was adopted in 2017 at the U.N. General Assembly.

Snyder praised Resona Holdings Inc. for not providing loans to borrowers that are involved in the development of nuclear weapons.

Such a policy is “a really positive step” toward reducing — and eventually eliminating — nuclear weapons, she said.

Of the eight Japanese lenders listed in the report, Fuyo General Lease Co. said it has not invested in nuclear weapon producing companies, although a company that had business dealings with a Fuyo subsidiary in the United States was acquired by a nuclear weapons-related company.

Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings Inc. said it invests in the given companies through some index funds handled by a group company.

Six other lenders — Mitsubishi UFJ, Mizuho, Sumitomo Mitsui, Orix Corp., Nomura Holdings Inc. and the Development Bank of Japan — said they do not comment on individual dealings.

PAX focused on all financial institutions involved in underwritings of share and bond issuances for one or more of the 18 companies since January 2017 and own at least 0.5 percent of the outstanding shares or bonds of at least one of the companies based on the latest data available through June last year.

October 28, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, weapons and war | Leave a comment

For the climate’s sake, the $multibillion nuclear industry bailouts must stop

October 26, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, climate change, politics, USA | Leave a comment