The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Future of UK’s Bradwell and Sizewell nuclear projects now in doubt as government to review Hinkley plan

questionflag-UKBradwell & Sizewell futures unclear after delayed Hinkley decision

A late move by the government to review all of the component parts of the proposed nuclear power deal in the region has cast doubt that it will go ahead in its current form.

The French Energy giant EDF has agreed to fund a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset which was expected to pave the way for new plants to be constructed at Sizewell in Suffolk and Bradwell in Essex.

In a dramatic twist though, the Government says it now won’t decide whether to proceed with the projects until the autumn.

The £18 billion Hinkley project is “on ice” to allow the prime minister Theresa May to “make up her mind”, ITV News understands.

July 29, 2016 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

EDF approved UK Hinkley nuclear project, but now there’s a new delay

text Hinkley cancelledflag-UKHinkley nuclear plant faces fresh delay after EDF approves investment, 28 July 16
Ministers announce new review immediately after EDF gives green light to £18bn project  
The plan to build an £18bn nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point was hit with a last-gasp delay on Thursday night as the government decided to hold a new review hours after EDF, the project’s French developer, gave it the go-ahead.

Greg Clark, the business and energy secretary, announced that ministers would once more review the project almost immediately after the EDF board had narrowly voted to approve the scheme.

He said: “The UK needs a reliable and secure energy supply and the government believes that nuclear energy is an important part of the mix. The government will now consider carefully all the component parts of this project and make its decision in the early autumn.”

 Successive British governments have supported the scheme but Theresa May, the new prime minister, has never given it her personal backing. Mrs May met François Hollande, the French president, last week, and the pair discussed the project.

One person said the scheme was expected to proceed after the review but the fresh delay had been a surprise.

The news came after EDF had given the go-ahead for the UK’s first nuclear power plant in 20 years, approving the Hinkley Point scheme at a board meeting on Thursday.

Directors approved the long-delayed project during a meeting in Paris. But opposition from within the company was underlined by the resignation in protest of a board member as the meeting started. The board was more divided than had been expected…….

critics say the project could also risk the financial future of EDF, the highly indebted French utility, whose chief financial officer Thomas Piquemal quit in March, warning that its future was being put in danger by Hinkley Point.

The scheme has been subject to multiple delays and budget revisions since first being proposed in the mid-2000s as part of what Tony Blair’s government promised would be a “nuclear renaissance” for the UK.

New reactors are also being planned in north Wales and in Cumbria, while EDF wants to help develop two sites after Hinkley Point — at Sizewell in Suffolk and Bradwell in Essex.

EDF had hoped to take the final investment decision earlier this year but it was postponed amid growing opposition from board members and executives.

That opposition persisted until the end, despite the company’s decision to push ahead with the scheme. As the meeting got under way, Gérard Magnin quit as a state representative on EDF’s board, calling the company’s nuclear strategy “highly risky”.

In the end, the vote was carried by 10 to 7. It was closer than expected, with all six union representatives and one shareholder representative voting against the measure.

Ministers in the UK must now give their final sign-off to the scheme, having already agreed to pay £92.50 — double the current wholesale price — for each megawatt hour of electricity it produces for 35 years………

July 29, 2016 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Like Brexit, UK’s Hinkley nuclear plan is based on shaky politics, not on economic reality

Areva, the French state-owned company which makes the reactors, is being taken over by EDF but it is being investigated by France’s Nuclear Safety Authority over “irregularities” in 400 parts. Areva also faces a state aid investigation.

white_elephant_LondonEven many of the staff inside EDF think Hinkley is a colossal white elephant. The company’s unions, who are represented on the board, fear the project will sink the company and have started legal action to delay the decision, while its finance director resigned in March.

For Hinkley, as with Brexit itself, political chicanery has triumphed over economic reality.

Hinkley’s nuclear plant fails all tests – bar the politics

Huge, expensive and difficult to build, Hinkley is a throwback to the last century, just as the world is embracing the smart energy systems of the future, Guardian, , 29 July 16  The new nuclear reactors now given the go-ahead at Hinkley Point have failed every test bar the one that finally mattered – political expediency.

The plant, to be paid for by UK energy customers, could cost them £37bn and is a leading contender for the most expensive object ever built on the face of the Earth. A former Conservative energy secretary calls it “one of the worst deals ever” for Britain.

It faces formidable commercial, technical and legal obstacles to getting built remotely on time or budget, or indeed at all. And while the rest of the world is accelerating ahead with the smart energy systems of the 21st century, Hinkley is a throwback to the nuclear age of the 20th.

Hinkley plan

But the French government, which majority-owns Hinkley’s builders EDF, wants to preserve its national nuclear industry. The UK government, blinded by the dazzle of a mega-project, is happy to let its citizens pick up the bill.

It has taken almost a decade to get to this point. In 2007, EDF said British Christmas turkeys would be being roasted with its nuclear electricity in 2017. The earliest possible switch-on now is 2026, another decade away.

What is scary is that reaching the final decision to go ahead was the easy bit. Now they have to deliver a giant and fiendishly complex construction project, described by one nuclear engineer as like “building a cathedral within a cathedral”, that is, “unconstructable”.

EDF has never managed to build the types of reactors intended for Hinkley. Its two attempts so far, in France and Finland, remain many years behind schedule and many billions over budget. Perhaps they are hoping for third time lucky.

UK nuclear power generation is £27.5 more expensive per MWh than that generated by gas power plants

Yet the commercial foundations for this engineering miracle are incredibly shaky. EDF is on the ropes financially and had to be given a €3bn bailout in April by the French government. That may well be challenged under EU state aid rules, which would join an ongoing state aid legal case brought by Austria against UK subsidies for Hinkley.

It gets worse. The French Financial Markets Authority raided EDF this month, investigating allegations that it misrepresented the cost of Hinkley and other projects. Banks and other financial institutions already loathed the Hinkley plan, with EDF warned of further credit rating downgrades if it goes ahead, making its huge debt more expensive to maintain.

Areva, the French state-owned company which makes the reactors, is being taken over by EDF but it is being investigated by France’s Nuclear Safety Authority over “irregularities” in 400 parts. Areva also faces a state aid investigation.

Even many of the staff inside EDF think Hinkley is a colossal white elephant. The company’s unions, who are represented on the board, fear the project will sink the company and have started legal action to delay the decision, while its finance director resigned in March.

With foundations this unsound, you would think the UK could get out of the deal easily if it turns sour. But think again. The deal to be signed with EDF contains a “poison pill” which could leave taxpayers with a £22bn bill if a future UK government shuts the plant down.

The government is adamant that Hinkley, which could provide 7% of the UK’s electricity, is a vital part of a secure low-carbon future. But a barrage of recent reports from serious players say the opposite. The future is not gigantic centralised energy plants, but widespread networks of renewable energy and storage, interconnected across the continent, bolstered by energy efficiency measures and the smart management of demand.

Hinkley Point C will provide 7% of UK electricity when it starts to produce electricity in 2025

Bodies including the government’s own National Infrastructure Commission(NIC), the National Grid, industry group Energy UK, all point to a smart system that is more secure, cheaper and faster to build. They all use the same word – “revolution” – for the fast changes now happening in energy, while theInternational Energy Agency talks of a rapid “transition”.

Hinkley’s reactors are a revolution only in the sense that they overturn all logic. Energy efficiency could deliver six Hinkley’s worth of electricity by 2030, interconnector cables to Norway, Denmark and France could add another two or three Hinkleys to the grid by 2025 and four Hinkleys’ worth of electricity could be saved by 2030 by increasing the ability to store electricity and making the grid smarter, with the latter alone saving bill payers £8bn a year. Solar and wind power are also cheaper than Hinkley’s nuclear power.

EDF had said its decision on Hinkley would be made in September at the earliest. So why the sudden rush, after so many years of delay? The company’s announcement that the decision was being brought forward came on the evening after Theresa May, keen to signal post-Brexit Britain remains open for business, had met Francois Hollande for talks. For Hinkley, as with Brexit itself, political chicanery has triumphed over economic reality.

July 29, 2016 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Hinkley Point nuclear station – not just a folly – but a massive folly

Hinkley planWhy Hinkley Point is a nuclear folly of Titanic proportions French utility company EDF is going ahead with plans for a massive new nuclear reactor in the UK, but there are many reasons to doubt it will ever be finished, says Michael Le Page

It feels like watching Titanic. Despite numerous warnings of enormous icebergs ahead, it’s full steam ahead for the plan to build a huge nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in the UK. It seems all too likely to end in disaster.
The Hinkley plant is important for many reasons. For starters, it’s a key part of the UK’s plans to cut greenhouse emissions, meant to supply a whopping 7 per cent of the country’s electricity. If completed, it will be the UK’s first new nuclear plant for decades, the most expensive built anywhere and the biggest construction project in Europe, creating tens of thousands of jobs.

It’s also crucial for France, which largely owns EDF, the company that will build Hinkley. France needs the project to help cover the huge cost of revamping its ageing collection of nuclear plants, which currently supply three-quarters of the country’s electricity. And Hinkley matters to China, too, as one of its state-owned companies will be stumping up a third of the cost.

But despite today’s much-delayed decision by EDF to go ahead with the megaproject, its future still looks doubtful. There are huge financial, legal, technical and safety-related icebergs  lurking in the seas ahead.

 Rather than borrow the £20 billion – or more – needed to build Hinkley, the UK government asked EDF to pay for it in exchange for paying a guaranteed price for electricity for 35 years. But EDF is in financial difficulties, and even within the company many think that taking on the project is too great a risk.

Behind schedule

One reason why is that the two reactors planned for Hinkley are based on a new design. The EPR design is supposed to be safer and more efficient, but it has proved so difficult to construct that not one has yet been completed.

EDF started building the first EPR, at Olkiluoto in Finland, in 2005. It was supposed to start up in 2009. Work on the second, at Flamanville in France, began in 2007 and was due to be finished in 2012. Another two EPRs are being built in Taishan, China. All four projects are years behind schedule and have cost billions more than expected.

 Worse still, weak spots have been found in the steel reactor core at Flamanville. If it has to be replaced, the still incomplete plant would have to be largely dismantled to replace it, at immense cost to EDF. And that’s not all. Earlier this year, it was reported that one of the companies supplying components to EDF had falsified safety certificates.

There are also worries about the fact that a state-owned Chinese company will be supplying some of the parts and workers for the project. The UK’s intelligence agencies are said to be concerned that a “back door” could be built into the control systems, allowing China to shut down the plant if it wanted to.

Last but not least, there are various legal challenges pending. The Austrian government, for instance, is appealing against the European Commission’s decision to approve state aid for the project, saying it breaches European laws. Meanwhile, French authorities are investigating possible financial misreporting by EDF.

Even in the unlikely event that the Hinkley project dodges all these icebergs, there may not be a happy ending. Many analysts think it’s a bad deal for the UK, because it has had to promise to pay a very high price for Hinkley’s electricity.

The worst-case scenario is that the project sails on for many more years before finally sinking. That will be a disaster for everyone.

July 29, 2016 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Interactive tool shows you what would happen if a nuclear bomb hit London

see-this.wayWhat would happen if a nuclear bomb hit London? Use this interactive tool to discover your fate, Mirror, UK 28 July 16    What would happen if a nuclear bomb hit Britain?

The effects would be devastating but this tool shows just how widespread they would be.

It’s a highly unlikely scenario, of course.

However, 60 years ago, crisis planners were desperately worried about the threat of a nuclear attack and identified key cities and towns in the UK which were a likely target to be wiped out with one nuclear bomb.

Here’s what the effects could be today if a nuclear bomb detonated in London.

We’ve used the Nukemap website and looked at three different bombs, all of which have been either used or tested.

It’s a highly unlikely scenario, of course. However, 60 years ago, crisis planners were desperately worried about the threat of a nuclear attack and identified key cities and towns in the UK which were a likely target to be wiped out with one nuclear bomb.

Here’s what the effects could be today if a nuclear bomb detonated in London. We’ve used the Nukemap website and looked at three different bombs, all of which have been either used or tested.

1. Ivy Mike – the first H-bomb (10.4 megatons)

Estimated fatalities: 2,336,920

Estimated injuries: 2,614,180

Fireball radius (orange): The entire city centre including monuments such as Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace would be consumed by a nuclear fireball 3.2km wide – stretching up to Camden Town and down to Brixton. The fatality rate is 100%.

Radiation radius (green): Slightly wider than the fireball radius. Without medical treatment, expect between 50% and 90% mortality from acute effects alone. Dying takes between several hours and several weeks

Air blast radius (red – 20psi): The most intense air blast would have a radius of 4.75km and demolish heavily built concrete buildings in Chalk Farm, London Bridge, Chelsea and Kensington among other areas. The fatality rate is still 100% or very close.

Air blast radius (grey – 5psi): A lesser air blast radius would still cause the collapse of all residential buildings within a 10km radius. That means houses would collapse all the way out in East Finchley, Stratford, Poplar and Streatham. Injuries are universal and fatalities widespread.

Thermal radiation radius (lighter orange): The thermal radiation radius is 29.1km. This would mean third degree burns “throughout the layers of the skin”, which could cause severe scarring, disablement and even amputation. This radius covers Watford, Hayes, Epsom, Croydon, Twickenham, Dartford and Epping.

2. The Tsar Bomba – the largest USSR  bomb tested (50 megatons)……

3. ‘Fat Man’ – the Nagasaki bomb (20 kilotons)……..


July 29, 2016 Posted by | Resources -audiovicual, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

France’s State-owned nuclear company EDF decides to go ahead with UK’s Hinkley nuclear station

£18 billion Hinkley Point nuclear power station gets go ahead from EDF, Mirror, 28 JUL 2016 BY ALAN JONES ,   

The French energy giant has decided to press ahead of a new plant in a crunch board meeting in Paris
EDF has given the go ahead to building a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, after a crunch board meeting in Paris.

The French energy giant had been expected to make the final investment decision today , clearing the way for the £18 billion project to go ahead.

Reports said the board voted by 10-7 in favour. EDF in the UK made no immediate comment.

John Sauven, Greenpeace executive director, said: “This deal was more riven with dissension in the EDF board than anyone expected. It’s unprecedented division and far closer than predicted.

“Countless experts have warned that for British families this power station will be terrible value for money.

“This is a bitter pill to swallow for hard up people who have been told that the Government is trying to keep bills down while dealing with energy security and lowering carbon emissions………..
A director opposed to the construction of Hinkley Point C resigned before the board met.

Gerard Magnin said in his resignation letter that Hinkley Point was “very risky”.

He did not attend the board meeting, leaving 17 directors to make the crucial decision.

July 29, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics | Leave a comment

Poland’s restrictive new law hampers wind energy development

Restrictive new law will harm Poland’s wind industry, advocates say, Midwest Energy News,  , 28 July 16, A new law that took effect in Poland earlier this month could kill growing competition from land-based wind farms by expanding setback requirementstenfold and increasing tax burdens, clean energy advocates say.

The law took effect July 15 and comes after Poland’s conservative Law and Justice Party won control of the government in last fall’s elections. That party’s leadership has embraced coal as the future of the country’s energy landscape.

Investors are going to go bankrupt,” said Wojciech Cetnarski of the Polish Wind Energy Association.

Ohio passed its own law tripling property line setbacks for wind turbines in 2014. Since then, the state has seen little development of new wind farms, except forprojects grandfathered in under previous setback requirements.

Among other things, the Polish law raises the minimum setback for a new turbine to at least ten times its height from buildings and forests. In addition, the law allows extended shutdowns for turbine inspections and could lead to a fourfold increase intaxes for all land-based wind farm operations.

In Cetnarski’s view, curtailing wind energy will give an advantage to coal-fired power, which dominates Poland’s energy landscape.

“The market share of the state-owned companies will increase,” he said. “Electricity prices in Poland will go up.”

Other new provisions in Polish law could make it more difficult for renewable energy facilities to sell electricity to the grid, delaying recovery of investment costs and profits.

Poland’s actions came soon after the International Renewable Energy Association (IRENA) announced earlier this year that the levelized cost of electricity from wind energy is now essentially on par with that of coal. More recently, IRENA reported that global average costs for electricity from wind and solar energy could drop up to59 percent by 2025.

Before the law, Poland’s wind industry had been expanding, with installed capacity growing more than five times from 2010 to 2015. Projections showed that the country could add up to another 10 gigawatts of onshore wind energy by 2030.

The new setback law is especially frustrating to Poland’s wind industry because the prior government had finally agreed to a plan that would have shifted more subsidies for the country’s renewable investments into wind energy.

The new government suspended that law in December…….

July 29, 2016 Posted by | EUROPE, renewable | Leave a comment

Germany an example to the world of the massive radioactive waste costs of the nuclear industry

Sticker Shock: The Soaring Costs Of Germany’s Nuclear Shutdown, Yale Environment 360 25 JUL 2016: REPORT  German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 2011 decision to rapidly phase out the country’s 17 nuclear power reactors has left the government and utilities with a massive problem: How to clean up and store large amounts of nuclear waste and other radioactive material. by joel stonington 26 july 16  The cavern of the salt mine is 2,159 feet beneath the surface of central Germany. Stepping out of a dust-covered Jeep on an underground road, we enter the grotto and are met by the sound of running water — a steady flow that adds up to 3,302 gallons per day.


“This is the biggest problem,” Ina Stelljes, spokesperson for the Federal Office for Radiation Protection, tells me, gesturing to a massive tank in the middle of the room where water waits to be pumped to the surface.

The leaking water wouldn’t be an issue if it weren’t for the 125,000 barrels of low- and medium-level nuclear waste stored a few hundred feet below. Most of the material originated from 14 nuclear power plants, and the German government secretly moved it to the mine from 1967 until 1978. For now, the water leaking into the mine is believed to be contained, although it remains unclear if water has seeped into areas with waste and rusted the barrels inside.

The mine — Asse II — has become a touchstone in the debate about nuclear waste in the wake of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 2011 decision to end the use of nuclear power following Japan’s Fukushima disaster. The ongoing closures have created a new urgency to clean up these nuclear facilities and, most importantly, to find a way to safely store the additional radioactive waste from newly decommissioned nuclear reactors. Nine of the country’s 17 nuclear power reactors have been shut down and all are expected to be phased out by 2022.

In addition to Asse II, two other major lower-level nuclear waste sites exist in Germany, and a third has been approved. But the costs associated with nuclear waste sites are proving to be more expensive, controversial, and complex than originally expected.

And Germany still hasn’t figured out what to do with the high-level waste — mostly spent fuel rods — that is now in a dozen interim storage areas comprised of specialized warehouses near nuclear power plants. Any future waste repository will have to contain the radiation from spent uranium fuel for up to a million years.

Given the time frames involved, it’s not surprising that no country has built a final repository for high-level waste. In Germany, a government commission on highly radioactive nuclear waste spent the last two years working on a 700-page report, released this month, that was supposed to recommend a location. Instead, the report estimated that Germany’s final storage facility would be ready “in the next century.” Costs are expected to be astronomical.

“Nobody can say how much it will cost to store high-level waste. What we know is that it will be very costly – much higher costs can be expected than [what] the German ministry calculates,” said Claudia Kemfert, head of energy, transportation, and environment at the German Institute for Economic Research. The exact number, she said, “cannot be predicted, since experience shows that costs have always been higher than initially expected. ”

At the Asse II mine, roughly $680 million has been spent in the six years since the cleanup began, and the price tag for operations last year totaled $216 million. A 2015 report by Germany’s Environment Ministry noted, “There are currently no technical plans available for the envisaged waste recovery project which would allow a reliable estimate of the costs.”

No one expects to start moving the barrels at the mine until 2033, and estimates of finishing the process extend to 2065. Total costs for moving the waste to a future storage site will almost certainly be in the billions of dollars, with current estimates of just disposing of the recovered waste at $5.5 billion.

The waste issue is one reason nuclear power has been so controversial in Germany and why there is broad support among the public for phasing it out, with three-quarters of the German population saying they are in favor of Merkel’s decision, according to a survey this year by the Renewable Energy Hamburg Cluster.

“Nuclear in Germany is not popular,” Kemfert said. “Everybody knows it is dangerous and causes a lot of environmental difficulties. Nuclear has been replaced by renewables – we have no need for nuclear power any more.”…………..

With both nuclear waste storage and decommissioning, governments and power companies around the world have often opted for halfway solutions, storing waste in temporary depots and partially decommissioning plants. Worldwide, 447 operational nuclear reactors exist and an additional 157 are in various stages of decommissioning. Just 17 have been fully decommissioned.

In Europe, a recent report by the European Union Commission estimated that funds set aside for waste storage and decommissioning of nuclear plants in the EU’s 16 nuclear nations have fallen short by $137 billion. Dealing with nuclear waste in the United Kingdom is also a highly charged issue. At one location — a former weapons-manufacturing, fuel-reprocessing, and decommissioning site called Sellafield — the expected cleanup cost increased from $59 billion in 2005 to $155 billion in 2015. ……

despite recently completing a new plant, the United States is also struggling with decommissioning. The cost estimates of shuttering U.S. nuclear plants increased fourfold between 1988 and 2013, according toBloomberg News. Many governments are slowly starting to realize how much those costs have been underestimated.

As Antony Froggatt, a nuclear expert and researcher at Chatham House — a London-based think tank— put it, “The question is, how do you create a fair cost to cover what will happen far into the future?”

July 28, 2016 Posted by | Germany, Reference, wastes | Leave a comment

German situation shows the complex problem of who pays for nuclear wastes fisposal

scrutiny-on-costsSticker Shock: The Soaring Costs Of Germany’s Nuclear Shutdown, Yale Environment 360 25 JUL 2016: REPORT “…….In Germany, negotiations with utilities over who will pay the denuclearization costs have often centered on how much the utilities can afford. The four nuclear utilities in Germany – publicly-traded RWE; E.ON; EnBW, which is majority publicly-owned; and Swedish-owned Vattenfall – are struggling economically as decentralized wind and solar power have undercut wholesale electricity prices and eaten into profits. Last year, E.ON, Germany’s largest utility, lost $7.7 billion.

The four companies have already set aside $45 billion for decommissioning nuclear power plants. But in April, Germany’s Commission to Review the Financing for the Phase-Out of Nuclear Energy recommended that the utilities pay an additional $26.4 billion into a government-controlled fund meant to cover the costs of long-term storage of nuclear waste.

The utilities were unhappy with the commission’s conclusions and released a joint statement saying $26.4 billion would “overburden energy companies’ economic capabilities.” Even so, few experts expect those sums to cover the total eventual costs.

“Some billions now are better than making them bankrupt,” said Michael Mueller, who chairs a government commission on highly radioactive nuclear waste. “So, it’s a compromise that had to be made.”

The utilities are clear about where they see the responsibility: “The temporary and final storage of nuclear waste in Germany is an operative task of the German government, which is politically responsible for this,” the utilities said in a statement. Indeed, if the commission’s recommendation becomes law, then the German government will be on the hook for any storage costs beyond the $26.4 billion paid by the utilities.

“Asse II shows us that radioactive waste storage is a complex problem that is not just about dumping it somewhere,” said Jan Haverkamp, a nuclear energy expert at Greenpeace. “There are many open questions, and those questions are going to lead to a lot more costs………”

July 28, 2016 Posted by | Germany, Reference, wastes | Leave a comment

Germany still struggling with legacy of old nuclear wastes

Sticker Shock: The Soaring Costs Of Germany’s Nuclear Shutdown, Yale Environment 360 25 JUL 2016: REPORT“……….Radioactive water was first detected leaking at Asse II in 2008, and the German Bundestag passed a law five years later that mandated removal of the waste. Above ground, the complex is just a few fenced-in buildings amid forests and farms. Underground, passageways have closed or collapsed. One main elevator shaft going down into the mine can be used for transporting large machinery, such as front loaders, some of which has to be welded together in underground workshops. As for the areas with actual waste, workers have spent years drilling into just one of 13 chambers to test for gas and radioactivity.

“No one goes in,” said Stelljes. “We haven’t even developed the machines we would need for moving the waste.”

Asse was intended as a secret stopgap solution when West Germany first starting shipping nuclear waste there in 1967. The problem is, no one seems to have come up with anything better since. Germany still doesn’t have a permanent nuclear waste storage facility. One other underground site, Morsleben — a salt mine used as a nuclear dump by the former East German government — is slated for a cleanup expected to cost at least $1.6 billion.


A former iron mine, Konrad, is being converted into a site to store low- and medium-level waste; it is expected to be completed in 2022. Low- and medium-level waste account for 90 percent of Germany’s total nuclear waste, but just 0.1 percent of the total radioactivity of the nation’s waste.

The most dangerous and controversial waste is heavy-metal-laden, heat-producing waste from spent fuel rods. Germany expects the total of that high-level waste to take up 28,100 cubic meters (1 million cubic feet) — a fraction of the volume of low- and medium-level waste the country must eventually store. Preliminary plans from Germany’s Federal Office for Radiation Protection call for a high-level waste repository to be built by 2050, with storage complete by 2130, and final sealing of the repository as late as 2170.

“No one has a finished concept [for storage of high-level waste], so no one can give us a finished budget,” Haverkamp said. “I won’t give an estimate anymore, but the numbers are in the billions. How many? No one knows. That’s the problem in Germany, you have to reserve a certain amount of money, but how much?” ….

July 28, 2016 Posted by | Germany, wastes | Leave a comment

French government propping up nuclear company EDF with a cash boost

AREVA EDF crumblingflag-franceFrench nuclear company EDF to get cash infusion

The French government has said it will go ahead with a 4-billion-euro share issue for state-controlled electricity firm EDF. The move will help finance the construction of two controversial nuclear reactors in the UK. The French state – which holds 85 percent of EDF – said it will buy three billion euros’ worth of the newly issued EDF shares sometime this year. The fourth billion will be chipped in by other investors.

EDF’s board of directors is expected to give final investment approval this week for the construction of two EPR nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in southwestern England, home to two old Magnox reactors that are no longer in operation and two AGR gas-cooled reactors whose construction began in 1967 and are still in operation, but whose decommissioning date is currently set for 2023.

EDF had delayed the final investment decision on the new Hinkley Point reactors several times, as it sought other investors to share the costs amid concerns the heavily indebted company will struggle to meet its financial commitments.

Internal skeptics abound  The six labor-union representatives sitting on EDF’s 18-member board have repeatedly opposed the project. They wanted to see it delayed by three years to give EDF time to complete the construction of similar reactors in France, Finland and China, which are several years behind schedule.

The company’s works council secretary, Jean-Luc Magnaval, told the news agency Reuters that his union had filed a complaint on the matter with a Paris court, which has scheduled a hearing on the case for August 2.

EDF’s chief financial officer has resigned over the threat the project represents to the company’s finances.

EDF is also planning to speed up renovation of its 58 nuclear reactors in France, a task expected to cost about 51 billion euros.

EDF, which has already spent about 3 billion euros on Hinkley Point C, needs the project “to maintain its know-how and prepare for the retirement and renewal of its aging French and British nuclear fleet,” chief executive Jean-Bernard Levy told shareholders on Tuesday. He added that the new capital would also help the bolster the company’s credit rating and its ability to refinance its 37.4 billion euro debt.

Sparing no expense  The Hinkley Point project is a joint venture between EDF and China General Nuclear Power Corporation. It’s one of the world’s most costly nuclear power plant projects.

The most recently projected price tag was a whopping 18 billion pounds ($24 billion, 21.7 billion euros), before Brexit lowered the value of the pound.

However, a complex system of subsidies approved by former UK finance minister, George Osborne, could cost up to 37 billion pounds, according to a recent estimate published by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Nuclear renaissance?

The UK’s environment secretary, Andrea Leadsom, recently reiterated that the Hinkley Point project will kick-start a “nuclear renaissance” in Britain that would see 18 gigawatts of new capacity added if sites at Sizewell, Bradwell, Moorside, Wylfa and Oldbury are developed along with Hinkley Point C.

Nuclear power accounts for around 16 percent of the UK’s energy requirements, which could drop to three per cent in 2030 unless new reactors are built in the meantime, Leadsom said.

EPR reactors are third-generation nuclear reactors which use pressurised water as their cooling fluid. At present, most operating reactors around the world are second-generation reactors; only around a dozen Generation 3 reactors are in operation so far.

A variety of Generation 4 reactor designs, which engineers hope will be more inherently safe and more cost-efficient than previous generations, are in various stages of prototype development, but none are expected to be commercially available before about 2030 or 2040.

By that time, however, renewable energy technologies and battery storage systems may have attainedsuch a low cost that construction of new nuclear power stations may prove a tough sell financially. That’s already the case for the Hinkley Point C project and for EDF’s other three existing EPR reactor projects around the world, all of which have proven to be far more expensive than optimistic early estimates, and very likely none of which would be getting built had they not been supported by heavy government subsidies.

July 28, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics | Leave a comment

‘Stop Hinkley’ campaign urges UK govt to switch to renewables, and yes, to Stop Hinkley nuclear

poster renewables not nuclearCampaigners call on government to stop Hinkley Point  Jul 26, 2016   A group of campaigners are calling on the government to ditch the new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C (HPC) in Somerset.

Called ‘Stop Hinkley’, the group has sent a letter to Business, Energy and Industry Strategy Secretary Greg Clark ahead of a final investment decision for the project by EDF’s Board onThursday. They say a final investment decision for Hinkley would be “little more than spin as problems mount for nuclear delusion”.

They believe the nuclear project is too expensive, will kill British manufacturing, is bad for consumers, the taxpayer, business and potentially the environment and is a total waste of money.

Renewable energy and energy efficiency projects could be implemented very quickly and much more cheaply, they added.

They stated ditching EDF’s plans for HPC would provide the country with a “wonderful” opportunity to turn Somerset into a sustainable energy hub for England.Allan Jeffery from Stop Hinkley said: “Now even the financial press says Hinkley Point C has become a laughing stock. The cost keeps rising while the cost of renewables is falling rapidly and the potential to make savings with energy efficiency is huge. We could replace Hinkley much more quickly and cheaply without the safety fears and without producing dangerous waste we don’t know what to do with.”

According to the former Department of Energy and Climate Change, the estimated cost of the Hinkley Point C project over its lifetime could reach £37 billion.

French authorities have raided EDF’s headquarters in France before the Hinkley decision.

ELN has contacted BEIS for a comment.

July 28, 2016 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, UK | Leave a comment

Report questions value of new nuclear projects in Wales compared with renewables

nuclear-costsflag-UKNew nuclear projects in Wales must be ‘cost-competitive’ with renewables, say MPs , Business Green, 26 July 16  Planned nuclear sites in North Wales should only go ahead if government can prove development is ‘value for money’, as Business Secretary Greg Clark visits Japan to fan investor interest in UK nuclear projects

 Any new nuclear plant in Wales must be able to compete with renewable energy on cost, a Committee of MPs have told the government today.

Lawmakers on the Welsh Affairs Committee have published a new report insisting that before proposed nuclear developments at Wylfa Newydd and Trawsfynydd in North Wales go ahead the government must prove the financial viability and community benefit of the projects.

“The government must prove that the cost of any nuclear development is well understood and competitive with renewable sources. These costs must be made public in a format that can be easily understood,” Committee chair David Davies MP said.

“There has to be a demonstrable benefit for the local community as well,” he added. “Local businesses must form a key part of the supply-chain and be given sufficient information to allow this to happen.”………

The report concludes the government should only support the development at Wylfa Newydd if the strike price for the project’s electricity is competitive with renewables and below that of Hinkley Point C, EDF’s controversial nuclear project in Somerset which is due to receive a final investment decision this week. Hinkley’s strike price is £92.50 per MWh – more than double the current market price of power. In comparison, the strike price for onshore wind is around £80 per MWh with some experts now arguing new onshore wind farms can be built at a lower levelised cost than new gas power plants. ……..

Cost estimates for Wylfa Newydd must cover the lifetime of the project, including decommissioning and waste disposal, MPs said, after concerns were raised during their investigation that nuclear power projects are often subject to delays and cost schedule overruns. Cost estimates for Hinkley Point C have ballooned from £16bn in 2012 to almost £21bn earlier this year, while last week EDF’s Paris headquarters were raided by the French finance authorities investigating concerns about its reporting of maintenance and development costs………

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July 28, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Cost of Hitachi nuclear plant for North Wales is far too high

Hitachi U.K. Nuclear Plant Should Get Less Than EDF, Panel Says AlexJFMorales 

  • UK-subsidy 2016EDF’s Hinkley Point is set for $39 billion of future subsidies
  • Hinkley secured guaranteed power price at twice current rate
  • Hitachi Ltd. should be paid less for the power from its planned nuclear plant in North Wales than Electricite de France SA has been promised for reactors in western England, a panel of U.K. lawmakers said, seeking to keep a lid on energy prices paid by consumers.

    The government should also ensure the cost of the Wylfa Newydd project by Hitachi’s Horizon unit is competitive with renewable-power plants such as onshore wind farms, the cross-party Welsh Affairs Committee said Tuesday in an e-mailed report. The lawmakers called for a “clear and comprehensible explanation” of the lifetime costs of the 2.7-gigawatt project and for a “demonstrable benefit” to the local community.

    The U.K. is struggling to build generating capacity fast enough to keep up with the closure of aging nuclear power stations and a phase-out of coal-fired plants. EDF is set to make a final investment decision on Thursday on whether to proceed with an 18-billion-pound ($24 billion) plan to build two reactors at Hinkley Point. The utility has repeatedly postponed a decision on the long-delayed project, despite securing a U.K. government guarantee that it’ll receive 92.50 pounds per megawatt-hour of power, more than double current rates.

  • “The government should only build Wylfa Newydd if the strike price is below that agreed for the Hinkley Point C and competitive with renewable sources,” the committee said in a statement. “They must be transparent on cost and provide a clear and comprehensible explanation of the lifetime cost of the project, including decommissioning and waste disposal.”

    Fixed Amount

    Power from Hinkley Point and Wylfa will be paid for under a so-called contract for difference, which fixes the amount the utility receives per megawatt-hour, making its income predictable. If prevailing power prices are lower than the agreed “strike price,” utilities recoup the difference through consumer bills. If the prevailing price is greater, the utility returns the difference to consumers.

  • Because prices have fallen since the EDF contract was agreed in 2013, the future subsidy cost to consumers of Hinkley has increased, according to areport earlier this month from the National Audit Office, which scrutinizes government spending. Using current projections for the wholesale power price, it estimated the lifetime cost of the top-ups has ballooned to 29.7 billion pounds from 6.1 billion pounds originally.The Welsh Affairs Committee also called on ministers to draw up contingency plans in case the Wylfa plant, consisting of two Hitachi advanced boiling-water reactors, isn’t completed as planned by 2025. EDF had originally envisaged its new reactors would generate power by Christmas 2017. Under its current schedule, Hinkley won’t come online until 2025, the same year as Hitachi aims to complete Wylfa.

July 28, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, UK | Leave a comment

Costs of European wind energy dropped.: wind in Europe now cheaper than nuclear power

European wind energy is now cheaper than nuclear power by 


Wind energy has officially overtaken nuclear power as the most affordable energy option – at least in countries surrounding the North Sea. In nearby European nations, the cost of wind is now 30 percent lower than nuclear, a promising development in the push for renewable energy around the world. At the rate of present installations, industry group WindEurope predicts these wind farms will generate a full 7 percent of all energy within Europe by 2030.

The reason for the drop in price is largely due to the fact that offshore wind farms are becoming cheaper and easier to build. In the past, constructing these farms has been expensive and impractical – and given the relatively low cost of fossil fuels, it simply hasn’t made sense for many companies to invest in the projects. However, the closure of many drilling projects in the North Sea has left offshore installation vehicles without enough work, causing the cost of transporting turbines out to sea to plummet. Other factors which have helped lower the price include low oil and steel prices, reduced maintenance requirements, and the ability to mass produce turbines.

While these falling wind power costs only represent a small part of the global energy market, there’s no reason other regions can’t build up a similar capacity. China, for instance, has built so many solar and wind facilities that it’s already on track to exceed its own emissions targets by 2020. And while wind power is currently developing at a slower pace in the US, that may not be true for long – new turbine designs could potentially upend the entire industry and fuel exponential growth on the American side of the Atlantic.


Photos via Andreas Klinke Johannsen and m.prinke

July 27, 2016 Posted by | EUROPE, renewable | Leave a comment


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