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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

The rapidly deepening financial disaster that is the nuclear industry

burial NUCLEAR INDUSTRYNuclear power’s rapidly accelerating crisis, REneweconomy, By  on 22 February 2017   A fire-sale is underway as the punch-drunk nuclear power industry tries to stop the rot.

The French government is selling assets so it can prop up its heavily indebted nuclear utilities.  Électricité de France (EDF) announced in 2015 that it would sell A$13.8 billion of assets by 2020 to rein in its debt, which now stands at A$51.8 billion.

EDF is purchasing parts of its bankrupt sibling Areva, which has accumulated losses of over A$14 billion over the past five years. French EPR reactors under construction in France and Finland are three times over budget ‒ the combined cost overruns amount to about A$17.5 billion. Bloomberg noted in April 2015 that Areva’s EPR export ambitions are “in tatters“, and now Areva itself is in tatters.

Meanwhile, Japanese industrial giant Toshiba would like to sell indebted, US-based nuclear subsidiary Westinghouse, but there are no buyers so Toshiba must instead sell profitable assets to cover its nuclear debts and avoid bankruptcy.

Engie reportedly wants to sell its stake in the consortium, and the French government has already sold part of its stake in Engie … to help prop up EDF and Areva! Deck-chairs are being shuffled.

The latest dramas occur against a backdrop of deep industry malaise, with the receding hope of even the slightest growth resting squarely on the shoulders of China. 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.”

Toshiba and Westinghouse are in deep trouble because of massive cost overruns building four AP1000 reactors in the US ‒ the combined overruns are about A$14 billion and counting. The saga is detailed in Bloomberg pieces titled ‘Toshiba’s Nuclear Reactor Mess Winds Back to a Louisiana Swamp‘ and ‘Toshiba’s Record Fall Highlights U.S. Nuclear Cost Nightmare‘.

Toshiba said on February 14 that it expects to book a A$8.2 billion writedown on Westinghouse,(on top of a A$3 billion writedown in April 2016. These losses exceed the A$7.1 billion Toshiba paid when it bought a majority stake in Westinghouse in 2006.

Bankruptcy looms for Toshiba, with the banks circling and the risk heightened by the likelihood of further delays and cost overruns with the AP1000 reactors in the US, and unresolved litigation over those projects.

Toshiba says it would likely sell Westinghouse if that was an option ‒ but there is no prospect of a buyer. The nuclear unit is, as Bloomberg noted, “too much of a mess” to sell. And since that isn’t an option, Toshiba must sell profitable businesses instead to stave off bankruptcy.

Toshiba planned to make nuclear operations and microchips its two growth areas. But now the company plans to sell most ‒ perhaps all ‒ of its profitable microchip business to prop up the nuclear carcass and avoid bankruptcy. The company might get A$17‒22 billion by selling its entire stake in its microchip business, said Joel Hruska from ExtremeTech. “That would pay off the company’s immediate debts,” Hruska said, “but would leave it holding the bag on an incredibly expensive, underwhelming nuclear business with no prospects for near-term improvement.”

Plans for three AP1000 reactors at Moorside in the UK are in doubt. Toshiba hopes to sell its 60% stake in the project consortium NuGen. Cumbrians will be glad to see the back of corruption-plagued Toshiba ‒ but corruption-plagued South Korean utility KEPCO might take its place. Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment (CORE) commented: “KEPCO is itself still emerging from a major scandal that surfaced in 2012 involving bribery, corruption and faked safety tests for critical nuclear plant equipment which resulted in a prolonged shut-down of a number of nuclear power stations and the jailing of power engineers and parts suppliers.”

Plans for six AP1000 reactors in India may not survive the Toshiba / Westinghouse meltdown. The project is now almost impossible according to Reuters’ sources. India is said to be one of the countries leading the ‘nuclear renaissance’ but hasn’t seen a single reactor construction start since 2011.

Toshiba’s demise would not greatly concern the nuclear industry if it was an isolated case, but it is symptomatic of industry-wide problems. Nick Butler from Kings College London wrote in a Financial Times online post: “Toshiba is just one company in the global nuclear industry, but its current problems are symptomatic of the difficulties facing all the private enterprises in the sector.

Civil nuclear power involves huge up-front capital costs, very long pay-back periods and high risks that are compounded by a lack of experience, especially in managing nuclear construction projects after a long period with few new plants. For all those reasons, private investors avoid the sector and prefer to put their money where they see faster and safer returns.”http://reneweconomy.com.au/nuclear-powers-rapidly-accelerating-crisis-26711/

There is agreement that the nuclear industries in the US, Japan and the EU ‒ in particular their nuclear export industries ‒ are in deep trouble. A February 2017 EnergyPostWeekly article says “the EU, the US and Japan are busy committing nuclear suicide.” Michael Shellenberger from the pro-nuclear Breakthrough Institute notes that: “Nations are unlikely to buy nuclear from nations like the US, France and Japan that are closing (or not opening) their nuclear power plants.”

Shellenberger said: “From now on, there are only three major players in the global nuclear power plant market: Korea, China and Russia. The US, the EU and Japan are just out of the game. France could get back in, but they are not competitive today.”

That’s good news for the nuclear industries in South Korea, China and Russia. But they might end up squabbling over scraps ‒ there were just three reactor construction starts last year around the world. South Korean companies have failed to win a single contract since the contract to build four reactors in the UAE. Likewise, China has made no inroads into export markets other than projects in Pakistan and Argentina.

Russia’s Rosatom has countless non-binding agreements to supply reactors, mostly in developing countries. But Russia can’t afford the loan funding promised in these agreements, and most of the potential customer countries can’t afford to pay the capital costs for reactors. Former World Nuclear Association executive Steve Kidd says it is “highly unlikely that Russia will succeed in carrying out even half of the projects in which it claims to be closely involved”.

The pro-nuclear Breakthrough Institute’s Michael Shellenberger presents cataclysmic assessments of nuclear power’s “rapidly accelerating crisis” and a “crisis that threatens the death of nuclear energy in the West“.

Likewise, pro-nuclear commentator Dan Yurman says that a “sense of panic is emerging globally” as Toshiba exits the reactor construction industry. He adds: “After nine years of writing about the global nuclear industry, these developments make for an unusually grim outlook. It’s a very big rock hitting the pond. Toshiba’s self-inflicted wounds will result in long lasting challenges to the future of the global nuclear energy industry. Worse, it comes on top of the French government having to restructure and recapitalize Areva …”

Yurman notes that Westinghouse may struggle to keep its nuclear workforce intact: “Layoffs and cost cutting could reduce the core competencies of the firm and its ability to meet the service needs of existing customers much less be a vendor of nuclear technologies for new projects.” Likewise, Will Davis, a consultant and writer for the American Nuclear Society, explains the failure of the Japanese/US AP1000 projects and the French EPR projects with reference to the “loss of institutional knowledge, industrial capability and construction capability” over the past generation.

As recent history has repeatedly shown, this loss of capability leads to reactor project delays and cost overruns, and that in turn leads one after another country to abandon plans for new reactors. Vast numbers of staff, skilled across a range of disciplines, need to be trained and employed if the nuclear power industry is to move ahead (or even survive). But utilities and companies are firing, not hiring, vast numbers of staff and making a perilous situation much worse … possibly irretrievable. EDF, for example, plans to cut 5,200 to 7,000 staff by 2019 (including 2,000 sacked last year) ‒ about 10% of its total workforce.

Ironically, Westinghouse, the villain in Toshiba’s demise, may have made the best strategic decision of all the nuclear utilities. In 2014, Westinghouse announced plans to expand and hopefully triple its nuclear decommissioning business. The global reactor fleet is ageing and the International Energy Agency anticipates an “unprecedented rate of decommissioning” ‒ almost 200 reactor shut-downs between 2014 and 2040. http://reneweconomy.com.au/nuclear-powers-rapidly-accelerating-crisis-26711/

February 22, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs | Leave a comment

Long closure of Flamanville nuclear reactor is costing EDF £1m a day

AREVA EDF crumblingEDF faces £1m a day bill to keep French nuclear reactor offline   https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/feb/21/edf-faces-1m-a-day-bill-to-keep-french-nuclear-reactor-offline Prolonged closure at Flamanville plant after fire damage piles further financial pressure on state-owned energy firm, Guardian, , 21  Feb 17, The prolonged closure of a major French atomic reactor after an explosion this month probably costs EDF at least £1m a day, according to experts.

The nuclear plant operator, which will spend £18bn building the UK’s first new nuclear power station in a generation, shut unit 1 at its Flamanville plant after a fire broke out in the turbine hall.

The company initially estimated it would switch on the reactor within a week, but later pushed the date to the end of March. Work begins this week on replacing damaged equipment.

The unexpectedly long closure adds to the financial pressure on EDF, which last week reported a 6.7% decline in core earnings to €16.4bn (£14bn) in 2016. Closures of its French nuclear plants last year, partly for safety checks, have already cost the 85% state-owned company an estimated €1.3bn.

Prof Neil C Hyatt, head of nuclear materials chemistry at the University of Sheffield, said the lost revenue from the reactor closure in Normandy could be £1m per day.

“Bringing a nuclear power plant back online after an unscheduled outage is a complex task and EDF will want to ensure that all parts of the system are working safely and effectively. A short delay to complete the necessary checks is to be expected, given that the outage was unplanned,” he said.

Another expert said the cost of closure could be up to £1.8m per day, depending on energy market prices, and questioned why there was a delay.

“It took operator EDF almost a week to progressively correct the original outage estimate from one day to 50 days. EDF has provided no information as to why the outage time went from a few days to seven weeks,” said Mycle Schneider, a nuclear energy consultant based in Paris.

The 1.3GW reactor at Flamanville is one of a dozen of EDF’s French nuclear fleet currently offline, which the company said was usual for this time of the year.

It did not say why the restart date for the reactor had been revised four times, or why it had jumped from a few days to more than six weeks. John Large, a nuclear consultant who has advised the UK government, said initial reports that the fire was in a ventilator suggested the offline reactor would be back online within a week or two. Replacing such parts should be relatively straightforward, he said.

He added that the plant’s continued closure would also add to headaches at the French grid operator RTE, which warned of power cuts at the start of winter due to nuclear outages. “The continuing impact on the grid is likely to be significant, especially if a cold snap develops,” Large said.

A second reactor at the plant is still supplying electricity to the French grid. EDF said: “Work on recommissioning the affected equipment has started this week and should last several weeks, with reconnection to the grid planned for the end of March.”

February 22, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, France | Leave a comment

Another delay in start of nuclear reactors in southern Chinese city of Taishan

China delays nuclear reactor start again https://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/34464586/china-delays-nuclear-reactor-start-again/#page1  on February 22, 2017,  Paris (AFP) – Two nuclear reactors being built in the southern Chinese city of Taishan will come onstream months later than planned, said China General Nuclear Power (CGN), which runs the project together with France’s EDF.

“Taishan Nuclear recently organised a comprehensive evaluation on subsequent engineering construction plan and relevant risks, and after due consideration, it is decided to adjust the construction plan of Taishan project,” CGN said in a statement filed late Monday to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

The reactors are of the so-called third-generation European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) type which has yet to go onstream anywhere in the world, and their start had been delayed once before, in 2016.

Britain in September gave the green light, with conditions, to EDF and CGN to build such a reactor an Hinkley Point, after a heated debate which included worries about China’s involvement.

Following EPR delays in Finland and in France, the two Chinese reactors are set to become the first of their type to go into service anywhere.

“The expected commercial operation of Taishan Unit 1 and Taishan Unit 2 are adjusted from the original first half of 2017 and the second half of 2017 to the second half of 2017 and the first half of 2018, respectively,” it said.

Construction of the Taishan plant started in 2009.

February 22, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, China | Leave a comment

Pacific Northwest ratepayers could save hundreds of millions of dollars by shutting down NW nuclear-power plan

Study: Savings possible by shutting down NW nuclear-power plant Seattle Times  February 21, 2017 The Associated Press  PORTLAND (AP) — A new study says Pacific Northwest ratepayers could save hundreds of millions of dollars if the Bonneville Power Administration and Energy Northwest close the region’s only commercial nuclear power plant and replace its output with renewable energy.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports (http://bit.ly/2lJ7Z7q) that the Portland-based McCullough Research consulting firm estimated savings from $261.2 million to $530.7 million over 10 years due to historically low renewable energy prices.

 The report was commissioned by the anti-nuclear group Physicians for Social Responsibility and is the latest salvo against the aging plant….http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/study-savings-possible-by-shutting-down-nuclear-power-plant/

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

Toshiba pulls out: it’s the end for Texas nuclear project

nuclear-dominoesFlag-USAToshiba pulling plug on US nuclear reactor plan. Write-downs, delays spell end to Texas project. Nikkei Asina Review,  February 20, 2017 TOKYO –– Toshiba appears set to withdraw from a plan to build two nuclear reactors at a U.S. power plant amid sizable write-downs on American nuclear operations and lengthy construction delays.

The Japanese manufacturer had been contracted to build the third and fourth reactors for U.S. utility NRG Energy’s South Texas Project, taking Toshiba’s advanced boiling water reactors abroad for the first time. Toshiba looks to pull out of the project, and will decide later what to do with its stake in the joint venture that serves as the developer.

  The reactors were to debut as early as 2016. But delays on the project have brought heavy costs for Toshiba, including write-downs totaling 72 billion yen ($638 million at current rates) logged in fiscal 2013 and fiscal 2014. Ground has not been broken on the units, while work such as civil engineering lies outside Toshiba’s purview. Further losses are unlikely, according to a source involved with the project……http://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/Toshiba-pulling-plug-on-US-nuclear-reactor-plan

February 20, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA | 1 Comment

Toshiba’s nuclear dominoes collapsing

nuclear-dominoesToshiba’s Nuclear Projects Falling Like a Row of Dominos February 6, 2017, The Energy Collective by Dan Yurman   The Japanese conglomerate is expected to announce Feb 14 that it will pull out of projects in the UK (3 AP1000s) and India (6 AP1000s) due to its deep financial difficulties.
Westinghouse may be sold off for its technology and services lines of business, but new investors will be needed for the projects in the UK and India.

A sense of panic is emerging globally as Toshiba, troubled by extensive losses and fake financial reports, heads toward a complete exit from the commercial nuclear energy industry. The two countries that will be hardest hit by the expected actions will be the UK and India.

Unlike the situation following the Fukushima crisis, in which the Japanese government in effect nationalized TEPCO, no bailout of Toshiba is expected to come to its rescue. ……..

NuGen Project Faces Investor Uncertainty

Toshiba will likely end its planned commitment for a 60% equity stake in the NuGen Consortium at the UK Moorside project located in Cumbria. An effort to build three 1150 MW Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactors will now need new investors or a new reactor vendor or both.

In the UK backers of the NuGen project are looking to see if the government will directly fund the effort with Westinghouse acting as a technology vendor uncoupled from its parent’s convoluted corporate structure. ……..

The question is whether South Korea would want to take on another major project while it is still completing the other three units in the UAE plus it has domestic reactors that have capital requirements. The risk of being overextended in terms of money and management capability is one the firm will likely weigh relative to its interest in entering the UK nuclear market.

It is also less likely that Chinese state owned nuclear firms will have an appetite for further investments in the UK’s new nuclear build. They already have a full plate. Two firms have combined to take a 33% stake in the massive Hinkley Point C project. Also, they have also committed to enter the costly and lengthy Generic Design Assessment effort for the Hualong One reactor.

The two firms building the units at Fangchenggang hope to export the Hualong One to the UK for the Bradwell site once the Hinkley project is complete sometime in the mid-2020s. The firms have plans for a majority equity stake in the Bradwell project which could cost $10 billion. That’s a lot to take on and the prospect of being overextended is very real.

NPCIL Sees Andhra Pradesh as Now Being “Impossible”

Efforts by Westinghouse to close a deal to build six AP1000s for NPCIL at a coastal site in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh will go by the boards. The Indian government has not make any official statement about Toshiba’s problems. However, Reuters reported that it was told it now looks to be “impossible” for the six unit project to move ahead.

The Indian utility had been seeking U.S. Export Import Bank loan guarantees for the project which has cost estimates of at least $15 billion. Congress throttled the bank’s loan powers in 2015 and is unlikely to loosen the restraints for a project sponsored by Toshiba, at least in its current financially distressed state.

What Future for Westinghouse?

The risks that Westinghouse faces even if the reactor division is able to establish itself as an independent vendor to EPC firms and investors include keeping its work force intact during what could be a lengthy transition. Layoffs and cost cutting could reduce the core competencies of the firm and its ability to meet the service needs of existing customers much less be a vendor of nuclear technologies for new projects…..

February 8, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, Japan | Leave a comment

Anglesey nuclear power plant – in doubt if Britain leaves European nuclear cooperation institution

Brexit bill prompts Anglesey nuclear power plant concerns, BBC, 7 February 2017 Plans to build a nuclear plant on Anglesey will face big challenges if the UK leaves a European nuclear cooperation institution due to Brexit, according to an expert.

Prof Dr Glyn O Phillips said leaving Euratom would make it difficult to get staff for projects like Wylfa Newydd.

The UK will leave the body if the bill to trigger Article 50 to start the process of leaving the EU is approved……

Prof Phillips, winner of international science awards, said that withdrawal from Euratom “will be destructive to any nuclear work in the UK” as European resources have been centralised at Cern in Geneva, Switzerland.

“They are trying to build a centre now in Manchester, to bring some kind of training but, in the end, all our researchers go back and forth to Cern,” he said in an interview BBC Cymru Fyw.

“If that link is cut and we can’t keep the connection, then I can’t see how we could ever produce the workforce that is vital to maintain the new power stations that they are talking about.”

He said training is “crucially important” to staff the next generation of plants, and that doing so is dependent on “working with other people”.

“I don’t see cutting ourselves off through Brexit bringing any new jobs. It just means that you cannot use other people’s resources.”…….http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-north-west-wales-38884641

February 8, 2017 Posted by | employment, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Florida Power and Light, and the costly nuclear mess it is in

text-my-money-2Flag-USAWe Pay for FPL’s Mess, Miami’s Community Newspapers By: Grant Miller |February 6, 2017 In case you haven’t heard, Japan’s Toshiba is in financial free-fall and is pulling its subsidiary Westinghouse out of the nuclear construction business due to massive losses. According to Forbes, Toshiba’s President Satoshi Tsunakawa said Westinghouse is “unlikely to carry out actual construction work for the future nuclear power plant projects to eliminate risk.”

The two new reactors proposed by FPL for Turkey Point are supposed to be designed and built by Toshiba-Westinghouse. With this news, how can FPL continue to claim they intend to build two new reactors and why do we have to keep paying for them?

Clearly, market trends run counter to FPL’s misguided plans. Power from a natural gas plant is much cheaper than new nuclear, and utility scale solar projects are vastly cheaper than either nuclear or natural gas.

Toshiba is right to tag reactor construction as a loser. Duke Energy Florida cancelled their plans in 2013 to build new reactors due to staggering price increases and long delays. Reactors under construction in Georgia and South Carolina are massively over budget and way behind schedule. So why do we, FPL customers, continue to take a financial hit for a project that will likely never be built while FPL can walk away from it at any time without any impact to its shareholders?

FPL customers have already forked over $280 million dollars for this boondoggle. The project comes before regulators at the Florida Public Service Commission again this year when FPL will be again asking for more money. FPL should not request more money from customers and if they do, the Commission should protect consumers and say no.

If history is our guide, FPL hasn’t even been able to safely manage the existing reactors at Turkey Point. Many decisions FPL has made have been ill advised, starting with building them in the first place.

In the late 1960s, FPL dumped heated cooling water via a pipe directly into Biscayne Bay, killing much of the nearby marine nursery grounds. The damage was well documented. In the early seventies, a federal judge in Miami made FPL stop direct discharges of heated water into the Bay and a holding area for the contaminated water was developed. It grew to a 10 square mile area of connecting “cooling canals” that acts like a radiator……..

FPL’s next “fix” was to dump toxic chemicals into the cooling canals to kill the algae and then add billions of gallons of freshwater into the system. They ultimately flushed all of that toxic and hyper saline water into our National Park and our federally protected Aquifer.

Now FPL wants to suck up over four decades of pollution and pump it down into the boulder zone below our aquifer for “safe” keeping. State and local regulators have rightfully expressed concerns. FPL’s model does not consider simple evaporation, the drawdown from the surrounding canals, and it shows more water than really exists in the system to mask the damage their plan will cause to the surrounding wetlands.

Also, let’s not forget we are spending billions of dollars on Everglades Restoration in south Florida. FPL’s plan to draw down water from the wetlands and concentrate salt in the system is in direct conflict with this important taxpayer project designed to improve our economy and resiliency.

Why should we trust FPL to “fix” the mess they created with decades of bad decisions much less trust them with tens of billions more to add two more new reactors? We’ve already been forced to pay big bucks for FPL’s nuclear sham that has ravaged our local environment, risks our water supply and threatens our future. We must stop this monopoly that continues to spend our money on regretful choices and the wrong technologies.

Floridians must continue to demand changes from state legislators and regulators about how energy is produced in Florida. Much is at stake including our drinking water. It’s time to take a different direction toward a clean and safe energy future. http://communitynewspapers.com/aventura/pay-fpls-mess/

February 8, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

France joins the throng jostling to market nuclear power to Kenya

flag-franceFrance joins suitors for Kenya’s nuclear plant venture, Business Daily Africa,  NEVILLE OTUKI, notuki@ke.nationmedia.com    February 7   2017 IN SUMMARY French Economy and Finance minister Michel Sapin said the nuclear-rich European country was looking to offer Kenya technical, engineering and financial support to develop reactors.
Kenya plans to start building its first nuclear plant from 2022 in a five-year period at a cost of about Sh500 billion
China, Russia, South Korea and Slovakia have since inked various pacts with Kenya in manpower development and skills exchange as they eye a possible deal.

France has joined the list of countries courting Kenya for a multi-billion-dollar deal to build East Africa’s first nuclear power plant.

fighters-marketing-1

French Economy and Finance minister Michel Sapin said the nuclear-rich European country was looking to offer Kenya technical, engineering and financial support to develop reactors.

Kenya plans to start building its first nuclear plant from 2022 in a five-year period at a cost of about Sh500 billion.

China, Russia, South Korea and Slovakia have since inked various pacts with Kenya in manpower development and skills exchange as they eye a possible deal.

“We have expressed our readiness to support the construction of the plants. Our support involves everything from expertise to funding,” Mr Sapin said on Sunday after concluding his two-day visit to Kenya during which he presided over the return of Peugeot assembly to Kenya…….

Mr Sapin said that France was seeking pacts with Nairobi like the ones it entered with South Africa on nuclear power development.

France has over the years signed several pacts with South Africa whose two power plants were built by French firm Areva.

South Africa plans to add more nuclear power plants.

Energy experts from Italy and Germany last October, however, advised Kenya to drop plans to build nuclear reactors and instead harness its vast renewable energy resources for power generation. The experts, attending a renewable energy conference in Nairobi, reckoned that Kenya is better off developing more geothermal wells, solar parks and wind farms.

They cited massive costs for a nuke plant, long construction periods of about 10 years and expensive decommissioning of plants at the end of their lifespan, especially disposing of hazardous radioactive waste.

Italy shut down its last nuke plant in 1990 and the people voted against the atomic technology in a 2011 referendum. Germany plans to pull nuclear plants off its power grid by 2022 in favour of green energy. http://www.businessdailyafrica.com/France-joins-suitors-for-Kenya-s-nuclear-plant-venture/539546-3802926-item-1-119w5bk/index.html

February 8, 2017 Posted by | France, Kenya, marketing | Leave a comment

Nuclear costs weigh on Vattenfall causes a loss

thumbs-downVattenfall slides to Q4 loss as German nuclear costs weigh, Nasdaq, 7 Feb 17 
Fourth-quarter operating loss 2.8 bln crowns * 5.6 bln provision for Germany nuclear waste storage costs * Proposes no dividend for 2016 for fourth year in a row (Adds detail, background) STOCKHOLM, Feb 7 (Reuters) – Swedish utility Vattenfall [VATN.UL] slumped to an operating loss of 2.8 billion crowns ($315 million) in the fourth quarter after booking provisions for nuclear waste storage in Germany and other one-off charges. Vattenfall had already taken a $3.5 billion charge in the second quarter, mainly for German lignite mines and power plants sold in September, and it ended 2016 with a record annual loss of 21.2 billion crowns. [nFWN1C60K7]
The company, which has struggled for years due to low energy prices and financially disastrous overseas expansion, said it would not pay an annual dividend to its owner, the Swedish government, for a fourth straight year……..
Vattenfall said higher provisions for future nuclear waste storage due to new legislation in Germany, which is phasing out nuclear power, accounted for 5.6 billion crowns of the 9.9 billion of net charges in the fourth quarter.
http://www.nasdaq.com/article/update-1vattenfall-slides-to-q4-loss-as-german-nuclear-costs-weigh-20170207-00586#ixzz4Y29RqzU7

February 8, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, Sweden | Leave a comment

France, Russia, jostling to market nuclear technology to South Africa

fighters-marketing-1SA’s nuclear build contract still wide open, says France minister, SUNDAY TIMES BUSINESS BY ASHA SPECKMAN, 2017-02-05  France’s finance minister Michel Sapin believes the race between suppliers to win South Africa’s nuclear build is still wide open and that France has a trick up its sleeve.

Sapin addressed the media in Pretoria on Friday after a meeting with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on the same day that he discussed issues related to the nuclear build.

Communicating through a translator, he said he had reminded Gordhan of the “quality and the know-how of French companies” which operate in the nuclear sector and has asked for “full transparency” on the process. The talks had also broached the questions of price, financing and affordability of the project. But Sapin declined to go into further detail.

Russia’s Rosatom was rumoured to be a frontrunner in the bidding for the multibillion-rand nuclear contract. But last month it denied it had made an official bid. French nuclear companies EDF Group and Areva intend to put in a joint bid but had not yet done so, Sapin said. “I still have a feeling the competition is open and we’ll see how it unfolds. France is not afraid of competition … We have trump cards up our sleeves,” he said.

Sapin’s was a working visit to deepen relationships and did not involve signing agreements. It forms part of a concerted drive by the French government to expand its partnerships in the wake of Brexit,which would have major trade implications……..http://www.timeslive.co.za/sundaytimes/businesstimes/2017/02/05/SAs-nuclear-build-contract-still-wide-open-says-France-minister

February 6, 2017 Posted by | France, marketing | Leave a comment

Toshiba’s just one corporation in a slew of nuclear financial crises

Not just Toshiba – the global nuclear industry is in crisis everywhere, Ecologist, Jim Green 3rd February 2017   Global nuclear power capacity grew slightly in 2016, writes Jim Green, but it was more a dead cat bounce than the promised ‘nuclear renaissance’. The collapse of Toshiba, the direct result of its failing nuclear ventures, is indicative of the crisis faced by nuclear contractors and utilities worldwide. Another sign of the industry’s poor outlook: no major commodity had a worse 2016 than uranium.

financial-crisis

Recent revelations that nuclear giant Toshiba faces multi-billion dollar losses and write-downs and may rule itself out of future nuclear construction bids around the world have dominated the world’s financial press.

Toshiba was only just recovering from a 2015 accounting scandal in which it padded reported profits by about US$1.3bn over seven years.

The ripple-effects of Toshiba’s latest problems will be many and varied. Japan’s ambitions to develop a large nuclear export business are in tatters.

As recently as last year, Toshiba said it hoped to win 50 contracts to build new nuclear plants in India and China over the next decade. Also up in the air are reactor construction projects being planned in the UKTurkey, and elsewhere.

Toshiba says it is “re-examining its relationship” with Westinghouse, its struggling US subsidiary. Delays and cost overruns on nuclear construction projects in the US will be expressed as write-downs that could be as high as US$7 billion.

As Toshiba, so the entire nuclear industry

Toshiba’s 2006 acquisition of Westinghouse has turned out to be a “pivotal moment in Toshiba’s decline” according to Bloomberg. Even pro-nuclear commentator Dan Yurman says the looming massive write-down has “doomed” the company’s US nuclear business.

He adds that it “also apparently ends the so-called nuclear renaissance in the US for full size reactors. During 2007-2010 there were more than two dozen applications expected for new reactors, but now only a few licenses have been completed and they do not have any links to near term plans to build the units.”

But it’s not just Toshiba. Other nuclear utilities around the world are also in deep trouble. Their problems were summarised in the July 2016 World Nuclear Industry Status Report:

“Many of the traditional nuclear and fossil fuel based utilities are struggling with a dramatic plunge in wholesale power prices, a shrinking client base, declining power consumption, high debt loads, increasing production costs at aging facilities, and stiff competition, especially from renewables.

  • In Europe, energy giants EDF, Engie (France), E.ON, RWE (Germany) and Vattenfall (Sweden), as well as utilities TVO (Finland) and CEZ (Czech Republic), have all been downgraded by credit rating agencies over the past year. All of the utilities registered severe losses on the stock market.
  • French utility AREVA has accumulated €10 billion (US$10.9 billion) in losses over the past five years. Share value 95% below 2007 peak value. Standard & Poor’s downgraded AREVA shares to BB+ (‘junk’) in November 2014 and again to BB- in March 2015. The company is to be broken up, with French-state-controlled utility EDF taking a majority stake in the reactor building and maintenance subsidiary AREVA NP will then be opened up to foreign investment. The rescue scheme has not been approved by the European Commission.
  • The AREVA rescue scheme could turn out to be highly problematic for EDF as its risk profile expands. EDF struggles with US$41.5 billion debt, downgraded by S&P, shares lost over half of their value in less than a year and 87% compared to their peak value in 2007.
  • RWE shares went down by 54% in 2015.
  • In Asia, the share value of the largest Japanese utilities TEPCO and Kansai was wiped out in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster and never recovered. Chinese utility CGN (EDF partner for Hinkley Point C), listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange since December 2014, has lost 60% of its share value since June 2015. The only exception to this trend is the Korean utility KEPCO that operates as a virtual monopoly in a regulated market.
  • In the US, the largest nuclear operator Exelon has lost about 60% of its share value compared to its peak value in 2008………..”http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2988607/not_just_toshiba_the_global_nuclear_industry_is_in_crisis_everywhere.html

February 4, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs | Leave a comment

British government now being urged to guarantee Moorside nuclear funding

text-my-money-2The Moorside nuclear complex (Image: Nugen)Government urged to guarantee Moorside nuclear funding, text-relevant ITV.com, 3 Feb 17     The Government is being urged to step in and guarantee funding for a new nuclear power station after Japanese giant Toshiba said it was reviewing its investment in overseas nuclear projects.

The GMB union said ministers should take urgent action to secure the development at Moorside in Cumbria.

The future of the planned £10 billion power plant has been thrown into doubt after Toshiba said it was reviewing its overseas nuclear business.

Toshiba owns Westinghouse, the American-based nuclear developer whose AP1000 nuclear reactors are set to be used at Moorside……http://www.itv.com/news/border/2017-02-03/government-urged-to-guarantee-moorside-nuclear-funding/ 

February 4, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

France’s next President to face costly propping up of the nuclear industry

AREVA EDF crumblingFrance’s Next President May Face $3 Billion Nuclear Hangover, text-relevantBloomberg by Francois De BeaupuyFebruary 4, 2017, 

  • Not enough left in the kitty to bail out both EDF and Areva
  • Sale of assets from phone company to Renault may be considered

Whoever succeeds Francois Hollande as France’s president may find one of their first tasks in office will be selling off some of the nation’s prized assets to prop up the state’s nuclear industry.

That’s because the government is as much as 3 billion euros ($3.2 billion) short of the 7.5 billion euros it has said it needs this year to fix the financial problems of Areva SA and Electricite de France SA, said two government officials with direct knowledge of the matter. Hollande will try to find an answer before he leaves office in June, one of the people said. If he can’t, his successor must decide how to plug the gap, said the other person.

France is preparing to rescue its nuclear industry after EDF was weakened by falling European power prices and Areva lost billions on a long-delayed project in Finland. The president must either increase the national debt or weigh politically sensitive privatizations of holdings in anything from automakers such as Renault SA to the former phone monopoly — a tall order with the first round of presidential elections just three months away…….

While the government has enough in its privatization account for the 3 billion-euro stimulus it plans for EDF this quarter, it remains almost 3 billion euros short of the 4.5 billion euros it wants to help its near-bankrupt reactor maker, Areva, complete its restructuring and meet debt repayments this year, said the officials. Areva shareholders on Friday voted in favor of a 5 billion-euro state-backed bailout, which includes 500 million euros from Japanese investors………https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-03/france-s-next-president-said-to-face-3-billion-nuclear-hangover

February 4, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics | Leave a comment

Blow to UK nuclear strategy as Toshiba considers pulling out of Cumbria plant

 scrutiny-on-coststext-relevantGovernment urged to seek new investors to save Moorside project after concerns key partner will leave consortium, Guardian, , 3 Feb 17, Plans for a new nuclear power station in Cumbria are likely to be scrapped after a key backer pulled out, creating a major hole in the government’s nuclear strategy.

Two industry sources close to the process said Toshiba had privately decided to quit the consortium behind the planned Moorside plant, echoing sources who told Reuters and the Wall Street Journal that the Japanese company was withdrawing from new nuclear projects in the UK.

Toshiba said last month it was reviewing all its nuclear business abroad after suffering a multibillion-dollar writedown on its US business. It has promised to provide more details about its intentions when it publishes results on 14 February.

The French energy firm Engie, which is Toshiba’s partner in the NuGen consortium, has long been seen as wanting to get out of the project. Its chief executive said last year the future did not lie in nuclear power……..

“Any potential investor in that project is going to need to have very direct reassurance from the government; even if they are just starting an exploratory period, they are welcomed,” said Tim Yeo, the chairman of the pro-nuclear group New Nuclear Watch Europe.

The former Conservative MP said ministers should even consider taking a direct stake in the Moorside plant. Such an interventionist approach would have been anathema in recent years but appears more credible after recent leaks revealed the government was considering taking a stake in another new nuclear plant, at Wylfa in Wales……..

Moorside, near Sellafield, is a key part of the government’s hopes for a new fleet of power stations to fill the UK’s energy gap in the next decade as coal plants and ageing atomic plants close.

The only one to be approved so far is EDF’s £18bn Hinkley Point C plant in Somerset, which was made financially possible through subsidies to be levied on household bills. The government hopes new plants will be built at Wylffa, Sizewell, Bradwell and Oldbury…… https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/feb/03/toshiba-exit-could-scrap-plans-for-new-nuclear-power-plant-in-cumbria

February 4, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment