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Sizewell C nuclear – a huge black hole for taxpayers’ money

“If the Chancellor is looking for cheap, reliable, energy independence,
he is backing the wrong project, as Sizewell C’s ultimate cost and
technical reliability are so uncertain and building it is reliant on French
state-owned EDF.

Green-lighting Sizewell C also loads more tax onto
struggling households, who would be forced to pay a nuclear levy on bills
for a decade before they could light a single lightbulb. Despite the
Chancellor’s statement, Sizewell C still needs financing, and with at least
a year before it’s decided whether it will finally go ahead, we’ll keep
fighting this huge black hole for taxpayers’ money, when there are cheaper,
quicker ways to get to net zero.”

Stop Sizewell C 3rd Dec 2022

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December 5, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

The complicated politics of nuclear power

Cardinal News, by Dwayne Yancey, December 5, 2022

Feelings about nuclear energy generally split along left-right lines. But while Gov. Glenn Youngkin is pushing nuclear energy in Virginia, it’s left-of-center governments that are now pushing small nuclear reactors internationally and a conservative state legislator in Southwest Virginia who opposes them.

The push to build such small portable reactors – the technical term is “small modular reactor,” or SMR – is pretty widespread, though………………………

It will not surprise you to learn that Americans are politically polarized over nuclear energy the way they are most other things. A Gallup Poll earlier this year found Americans almost evenly split – 51% in favor, 47% against. What’s more interesting, though (or maybe more predictable), is how they split: 60% of Republicans are in favor of nuclear energy, only 39% of Democrats are.

That left-right split is generally true around the world, which a) helps explain why this nuclear proposal is coming from a Republican governor, and b) makes the exceptions so interesting.

Globally, France is an obvious exception. …………….. there has been a general left-right consensus that nuclear energy is an important national priority. Not until the Green Party came along in 1984 was there any significant voice against nuclear power, according to a paper published by Oxford Academic.

Another interesting exception comes just to our north – in Canada, specifically with the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau……… Trudeau has also come down on the side of nuclear power. …………[Four provinces] called for making Canada “a global SMR technology hub” ………………………

Another left-of-center government promoting nuclear energy is our own – the Biden administration.

The Democrats’ so-called climate bill – officially the Inflation Reduction Act – that passed this summer contains numerous provisions promoting nuclear energy. More recently, Biden’s special presidential envoy for climate, John Kerry, has been one of the chief proponents.  In November, Kerry made two announcements that haven’t gotten much attention. First, he announced that the United States will partner with Ukraine on a pilot program to build a “secure and safe small modular nuclear reactor” in Ukraine. Second, he announced plans to help Europeans – particularly in central and eastern Europe – convert coal-fired plants to small modular reactors

……… All these exceptions to ideological orthodoxy have come on the left, but there are some on the right, too. I mentioned that the Gallup Poll found 60% of Republicans in favor – but it also found 37% opposed. One of those Republicans who opposes nuclear power – at least in Southwest Virginia – is Del. Marie March, R-Floyd County. She recently posted on Facebook: “Youngkin wants nuclear micro reactors to be placed in SWVA coal mines. I am very concerned about this new technology and prefer that SWVA isn’t used as the lab rat.

For too long NOVA harvests our taxes and our land. Now they want to use us to harvest power. Right now a Nuclear power plant is being targeted in Ukraine to be bombed. Look at the impact of a nuclear meltdown on generations of people and the ecosystem. We don’t need Geiger counters in SWVA!”

March’s concern about coal country effectively being used as a sort of “sacrifice zone” to generate energy for urban areas isn’t that different from what some liberal groups might say. ……………………

Now, none of this is meant to make a case one way or another on the wisdom of splitting atoms and whether some of that should be done in Southwest Virginia. It is meant to put the proposed SMR in Southwest Virginia in a global context and to show that the politics of nuclear are not always clear-cut. We in Virginia will get to see this play out in the General Assembly (and perhaps beyond). Youngkin has proposed $10 million to go toward research and development of innovative energy technologies, with half of that devoted to nuclear research. That may be exactly what we should expect of a conservative governor. Meanwhile, the liberal government in Canada has invested more than $18 million toward its own nuclear research. Who would have thought that Glenn Youngkin and Justin Trudeau had so much in common, or that Marie March would wind up aligned with Greenpeace?  https://cardinalnews.org/2022/12/05/the-complicated-politics-of-nuclear-power/

December 5, 2022 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Iran increasing its nuclear power

 Iran on Saturday began construction on a new nuclear power plant in the
country’s southwest, Iranian state TV announced, amid tensions with the
U.S. over sweeping sanctions imposed after Washington pulled out of the
Islamic Republic’s nuclear deal with world powers.

The new 300-megawatt plant, known as Karoon, will take eight years to build and cost around $2
billion, the country’s state television and radio agency reported. The
plant will be located in Iran’s oil-rich Khuzestan province, near its
western border with Iraq, it said.

Iran has one nuclear power plant at its
southern port of Bushehr that went online in 2011 with help from Russia,
but also several underground nuclear facilities. The announcement of
Karoon’s construction came less than two weeks after Iran said it had
begun producing enriched uranium at 60% purity at the country’s
underground Fordo nuclear facility. The move is seen as a significant
addition to the country’s nuclear program.

 PBS 3rd Dec 2022

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/iran-announces-start-of-construction-on-new-nuclear-power-plant

December 5, 2022 Posted by | Iran, politics | Leave a comment

Small modular reactor plans to be blocked by the Scottish government

Plans to power a refinery in Scotland with a Rolls-Royce small modular
reactor (SMR) are likely to stall due to opposition from the Scottish
government. Government officials have said they will block any moves to
power the Grangemouth refinery on the Firth of Forth with a nuclear
reactor. According to the Sunday Telegraph, talks have taken place between
chemicals group Ineos and Rolls-Royce, and the two companies are understood
to have considered whether the plant could be powered by an SMR.

New Civil Engineer 30th Nov 2022 https://www.newcivilengineer.com/latest/scottish-small-modular-reactor-plans-to-be-blocked-by-government-30-11-2022/

December 2, 2022 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK | Leave a comment

UK Funding subsidy to French firm EDF, for the £26bn Hinkley Point C nuclear plant even if it does not start operating until 2036

EDF has secured 14 years of funding for the UK’s upcoming nuclear plant
Hinkley Point C in case of the risk of further delays. The French energy
giant has agreed a new contract ensuring its funding even if it does not
start operating until 2036.

EDF confirmed to City A.M. the project is still
on course for completion in 2027, following an approximately two year delay
driven by the pandemic and supply chain disruptions. It is also roughly 45
per cent over budget – having initially been projected to cost £18bn, but
now expected to be priced at £26bn.

The new subsidy contract still includes
clauses in the former deal, which was set to expire just three years
earlier in 2033. This includes stipulations such as shortened payments to
EDF if Hinkley Point C fails to start generating power by May 2029.

If the plant is up and running by that date, EDF receives a guaranteed £92.50 per
megawatt hour for its electricity for the first 35 years of its life. The
latest deal instead reflects a renegotiated settlement between the UK and
China, with the Government paying CGN a £100m exit fee from the next
project – Sizewell C.

City AM 1st Dec 2022
https://www.cityam.com/edf-secures-further-funding-for-hinkley-point-c-in-new-settlement/

December 2, 2022 Posted by | politics | Leave a comment

TODAY. The GREAT BRITISH NUCLEAR financial mess

In a gloomy financial statement, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said the Office for Budget Responsibility had judged that the UK’s economy was shrinking. J.P.Morgan said on Tuesday it expects a contraction in the UK’s economy next year as it enters a lengthy period of stagnation in the face of soaring gas prices, slowing global growth and tighter economic conditions. It predicts “Tighter monetary and fiscal policy amid scarring from both the pandemic and Brexit”

In the midst of all this financial gloom, both the Tory government and the Labour opposition delight in predicting a boom in electricity production from a fleet of nuclear reactors both Big and Small – a fleet that is magically going to appear like some sort of miasma – as taxpayer funds pour into nuclear projects like Sizewell C (Big) and Rolls Royce’s 470 MWe SMR (Not Really Small At All)

Seven months ago the UK government dreamed up “Great British Nuclear” – a “flagship” to “enable nuclear projects”. Now it is clear that “Great British Nuclear” is nothing more than a public relations exercise.

Wylfa and Cumbria nuclear projects failed. because, although the
government offered to take a 30 per cent stake, no other investors came
forward. Now the government is to take a 50% stake in the up to £43 billion Sizewell C , – again desperately touting for investors.

And now – the government unveils plans to establish “Great British Energy”, a new arms-length public body to oversee UK nuclear power pipeline

The Tories pinched the name from the opposition Labour Party, which touted its plan as “all about renewables”. But Labour didn’t mind a bit, when the government co-opted it and turned it into some sort of nuclear justification body. Indeed, Labour’s just as ecstatic as the Tories, about Britain’s wonderful nuclear future – and to hell with the expense!

December 1, 2022 Posted by | politics, UK | 5 Comments

UK’s £26bn Hinkley Point C nuclear station now faces 11 year delay

Britain’s flagship Hinkley Point C nuclear power station is facing the risk of an 11-year delay, piling further pressure on efforts to keep the lights on. According to a new contract between the Government and French company
EDF, Hinkley will still be funded even if it does not start operating until 2036 – more than a decade after its initial deadline in 2025.

It raises the prospect of significant further hold-ups at Hinkley, which has already been delayed until mid-2027. The change to the subsidy contract terms comes as the Government is paying China a reported £100m to exit its involvement in a second planned new nuclear project, Sizewell C in Suffolk, which is also being developed with EDF. The Government confirmed on Tuesday that CGN will exit Sizewell C, with the state paying an unconfirmed sum to cover its 20pc shareholding and a commercial return. The Times reported this to be £100m. CGN’s involvement with Hinkley Point C is believed to be unaffected.


However, as part of the negotiations, Hinkley Point C now has more leeway than previously to get up and running. The project has a deal with the Government under which it gets a guaranteed £92.50 per megawatt hour for its electricity for the first 35 years of its life, backed by a levy on consumer bills.

When the project was first agreed in 2016, it was due to start generating at the end of 2025. In January 2021, that was pushed back
to June 2026, and in May 2022 it was pushed back again to 2027, with EDF blaming the pandemic and supply chain issues. Costs are now expected to be as high as £26bn. The plant is using a new type of generating technology, EPR, which is so far only in commercial operation in Taishan, China, where one reactor has been shut down due to problems.

Telegraph 29th Nov 2022

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2022/11/29/hinkley-point-nuclear-plant-faces-risk-11-year-delay/

November 30, 2022 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

UK government to take 50% stake in the French development of Sizewell C nuclear station

Ed note: This is the Tory government plan. But didn’t they pinch the Great British Energy idea from Labour?

Sizewell C project takes major step forward as government unveils plans to establish Great British Energy, a new arms-length public body to oversee UK nuclear power pipeline. The government has approved plans to build the UK’s
first new nuclear power plant in a quarter of a century, today confirming it has agreed to invest £679m to take a 50 per cent stake in the Sizewell C project being developed in Suffolk by French energy giant EDF.

Then”historic” investment will see the UK government become joint shareholder in Sizewell C alongside developer EDF, which will also provide additionalminvestment to match the UK government’s stake, muscling out previousmshareholder China’s CGN in the process.

EDF and the government now plan to work together to attract further third-party investment in the 3.2GW low carbon power project, which once completed would be expected to provide enough power to meet the needs of six million homes for more than 50 years.

In addition, the government today also announced plans to establish Great British Nuclear, a new arms-length public body to help develop a pipeline of new nuclear projects. More details are expected early in the new year, including on the government’s funding commitment to the new body.

Business Green 29th Nov 2022

https://www.businessgreen.com/news/4060883/sizewell-government-confirms-plan-gbp670m-stake-nuclear-power-project

November 30, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

UK government desperate for investors in its Sizewell C nuclear project, as it pays out the Chinese company previously involved

Construction will not begin in earnest until the consortium has raised close to £20bn of equity and debt from private investors. That fundraising could take at least a year and has no guarantee of success.

The UK government is to pay Chinese state-owned power group CGN over £100mn to exit Britain’s £20bn Sizewell C nuclear energy project in a bid to reduce Beijing’s involvement in the country’s infrastructure. The payment to CGN for its 20 per cent stake in the proposed nuclear plant in Suffolk is part of a £679mn UK state investment in Sizewell first announced by former prime minister Boris Johnson in September and finalised on Tuesday.


Construction will not begin in earnest until the consortium has raised close to £20bn of equity and debt from private investors. That fundraising could take at least a year and has no guarantee of success. UK government officials said that the departure of CGN would clear the way for US investors to put money into Sizewell C, since the Chinese company has been put under US sanctions.

CGN remains a minority 33 per cent investor in Britain’s giant Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset, another
EDF led project. Although this has already been delayed by several years, it is intended to be the first of a new generation of nuclear power stations. The Chinese group also controls a site at Bradwell-on-Sea in Essex, where it hopes to be the lead investor in a new generator.

CGN’s planned use of its own reactor technology at Bradwell received former approval from Britain’s nuclear regulator in February. But ministers think that ultimately it will not be allowed to build at the site, which they expect to change hands in due course.

FT 29th Nov 2022

https://www.ft.com/content/a9a34ea3-649f-4a47-a4c8-ee269e07eccc

November 30, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

UK government PR exercise “Great British Nuclear” headed for financial failure.

 Letter Steve Thomas: Six months after it was announced, it is clear that
Great British Nuclear was no more than a government PR exercise. You report
that it “could prevent a repeat of the Wylfa and Cumbria farragoes”.
That would be remarkable.

The Cumbria project failed because the reactor
supplier, Westinghouse, went bankrupt; Wylfa failed because, although the
government offered to take a 30 per cent stake, no other investors came
forward.

he problem with nuclear is not that we don’t have the
organisation quite right. It’s that nuclear is far too expensive and
economically risky and takes much too long to build to be any use.

 Times 25th Sept 2022

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/admit-it-nuclears-going-nowhere-tclmnr89f

November 28, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Middle East investors and French developers for Sizewell C nuclear station to be paid by “an extra tax” on UK public’s bills ?

Alison Downes of campaign group Stop Sizewell C criticised the idea of foreign investors paid with money from ‘an extra nuclear tax on our bills’. She added: ‘The promise of UK energy independence looks pretty hollow if Sizewell C turns out to be French-built and Middle East-funded.’

 UAE wealth fund may invest in Sizewell C – Mubadala one of main names in frame to back £20bn nuclear plant. Emirati sovereign wealth fund Mubadala has been tipped as a potential investor in Sizewell C. Sources said the investment group, whose board includes the owner of Manchester City FC, is one of the main names in the frame to back the £20billion nuclear plant.

They suggested talks with the fund may already have taken place. Mubadala is chaired by UAE president Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Its vice-chairman Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan bought Manchester City in 2008.

The Government is expected to give the go-ahead to Sizewell C within days with a ‘general investment decision’ that will formalise taxpayer support. The Government and French energy firm EDF, which is developing the power station, are each taking a 20 per cent stake. They are racing to recruit investors to fill a 60 per cent funding gap.

Ministers have put in place a new funding model, the ‘regulated asset base’, which lets investors receive cash back during construction. This is intended to attract pension funds and institutional investors. But they are also said to be approaching potential supporters in the Middle East, Australia and North America.


Alison Downes of campaign group Stop Sizewell C criticised the idea of foreign investors paid with money from ‘an extra nuclear tax on our bills’. She added: ‘The promise of UK energy independence looks pretty hollow if Sizewell C turns out to be French-built and Middle East-funded.’

A BusinessDepartment spokesman said it would ‘not be appropriate to comment on potential investors’.

 Mail on Sunday 26th Nov 2022

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-11472637/UAE-wealth-fund-invest-Sizewell-C.html

November 28, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

USA government forks out a $billion to keep uneconomic Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant going.

U.S. Ponies Up $1B to Keep California’s Last Nuclear Plant Humming

The Diablo Canyon Power Plant was scheduled to close in 2025, but federal backing will now prolong its (half) life indefinitely

Los Angeles Magazine, By Julius Miller, November 27, 2022,

The Biden Administration announced this week that it had reached preliminary approval to allocate at least $1.1 billion in an effort to keep California’s sole remaining nuclear power plant running.

The Energy Department says that it is negotiating final terms for the Diablo Canyon Power Plant on the central coast of California to remain open and avoid its 2025 end date, according to the Associated Press. The plant was selected in the first round of funding for the administration’s new civil nuclear credit program, which is intended to help owners or operators of the nation’s last nuclear plants help cover the costs of preserving the existing U.S. reactor fleet. 

 Applicants must not only demonstrate that closure of their plant could directly lead to economic suffering, but also that carbon emission and air pollutant levels will rise without their continued operation………………………

“This investment creates a path forward for a limited-term extension of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant to support reliability statewide and provide an onramp for more clean energy projects to come online,” Newsom said……………

The Diablo Canyon Power Plant produces nine percent of California’s electricity. For comparison, the wind power provides roughly seven percent of the state’s electricity, while solar makes up nearly 14 percent of the total.  https://www.lamag.com/citythinkblog/u-s-ponies-up-1b-to-keep-californias-last-nuclear-plant-humming/

November 28, 2022 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

USA’s Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) cleverly worded so it could be a bonanza for small nuclear plant developers

Advanced Nuclear Plants Poised to Benefit from Inflation Reduction Act, Retiring Coal Plants

American Power Association, November 27, 2022 Peter Maloney “………………………………… The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) provides production tax credits (PTC) for existing nuclear power plants but, more importantly, for new nuclear power plants and specifically for advanced reactors and small modular reactors – the type NuScale Power is working on. The IRA amends the definition of a qualified facility eligible for a “clean PTC” to mean any plant placed into service after Dec. 31, 2024, that produces zero greenhouse gas emissions.


The IRA also amends the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules on qualifying for a clean energy investment tax credit (ITC) by changing the language in the code to allow investments for advanced reactors to qualify for the credit. The change provides a tax credit of 30 percent of the cost of building a zero-emission advanced nuclear power plant that is placed in service after 2025.


“If you design and plan to put in a small modular reactor at the site of a retired coal plant, there is a further 10 percent ITC available, and if you use domestic content there is another 10 percent ITC added on,” Colbert said. “That can add up to a 50 percent reduction in costs.”

In September, the Department of Energy (DOE) released a study that found that hundreds of coal power plant sites across the country could be converted to nuclear power plant sites……………………..


Each NuScale small modular reactor (SMR) is designed to generate 77 megawatts (MW) of electricity. Up to 12 SMRs can be combined to make a 924-MW VOYGR™-12 power plant. In addition to their compact design, which makes them scalable and cost competitive, …………………………..


NuScale is now looking forward to reaching another milestone in the regulatory process.

In July, the NRC directed its staff to issue a final rule certifying NuScale’s SMR design.

The rulemaking would amend NRC regulations to incorporate NuScale’s SMR standard plant design, which would allow applicants intending to build and operate an SMR plant to reference the design certification rule.

“If approved, the certification would be published in the Federal Register and have the effect of law,” Colbert said.

The rulemaking is on the docket for the NRC to make a decision in November.

November 28, 2022 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

UK government underestimated the cost to the public of Regulated Asset Base financing of nuclear power

 The government has been accused of under-estimating the cost to customers
of its new financing support mechanism for nuclear power, which could add
£100 onto annual bills if ex-prime minister Boris Johnson’s pledge to
roll out a new fleet of the plants is honoured.

At a meeting of the
All-Party Parliamentary Group on Energy Costs, held at the House of Commons
on Wednesday (23 November), University of Greenwich emeritus professor of
energy Steve Thomas criticised the use of the Regulated Asset Base (RAB)
for nuclear projects.

 Utility Week 24th Nov 2022

November 25, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Rolls-Royce calls for formal funding talks over small nuclear plants

Ft.com Nathalie Thomas in Edinburgh and Sylvia Pfeifer in London, 23 Nov 22

Rolls-Royce has urged the UK government to enter formal negotiations over the funding for small nuclear reactors, which it hopes to build in England or Wales by the early part of next decade.

Tom Samson, head of the company’s small modular reactor business, told a committee of MPs on Wednesday that Britain would face an electricity crisis next decade if it did not push ahead with building more “baseload” power stations that offer a reliable [?] source of generation when weather-dependent renewables including wind and solar are not producing.

Rolls-Royce is leading a consortium that has designed a 470-megawatt [that’s LARGE !] small modular nuclear reactor, which could produce enough power for a city the size of Leeds and would be built in factories before being deployed at existing nuclear sites in England and Wales.

It wants the government to enter formal talks over potential funding models and how the technology could be deployed so it can start building factories. The first Rolls-Royce-designed SMR would cost £2.5bn, although the UK engineering company has argued the cost of each plant will drop to £2bn once it has a pipeline of orders.

……….. the first Rolls-Royce SMR would probably need a funding model underpinned by the government or bill payers.

The company has previously talked about models such as “contracts for difference”, which are used for technologies such as offshore wind and guarantee developers a set price for their output.

Alternatively, it has said it may consider a “regulated asset base” mechanism, whereby a surcharge is added to consumer energy bills long before any plant is operating to help finance schemes.

Samson warned the government it did not have the luxury of spending another two to three years talking about whether to build more nuclear capacity……………

Former prime minister Boris Johnson said while in office that he wanted up to 24 gigawatts of nuclear capacity by 2050 — up from just 5.9GW at present — but chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s recent Autumn Statement referred only to the 3.2GW Sizewell C nuclear project in Suffolk, about which the government is in negotiations with French state-backed energy group EDF. Opponents of nuclear argue that is expensive compared with other technologies.

……………. “The government is investing in these new technologies through the £385mn Advanced Nuclear Fund including £210mn towards the Rolls-Royce SMR programme,” a BEIS spokesperson said.  https://www.ft.com/content/21a54a90-1b51-4561-ba9e-c1677e0262ed

November 24, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment