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A Royal Navy nuclear-powered submarine nearly hit a ferry

Nuclear-powered Royal Navy submarine in near-miss with ferry ITV News 21 Jan 19, A nuclear-powered Royal Navy submarine was involved in a near-miss with a large passenger ferry, it has emerged.

An investigation has been launched into the previously unreported incident, which occurred in the Irish Sea on November 6.

The ferry was Stena Superfast VII, which operates between Northern Ireland and Scotland.

It has a capacity for 1,300 passengers and 660 cars.

The submarine was submerged at the depth needed to extend its periscope above the surface of the water.

The Royal Navy would not confirm which of its 10 submarines was involved. They are all nuclear-powered but only four carry Trident nuclear missiles……… https://www.itv.com/news/2019-01-21/royal-navy-submarine-in-near-miss-with-ferry/

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January 22, 2019 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

UK’s nuclear power strategy in a state of collapse

Nuclear strategy in ‘meltdown’ after Wylfa suspension, David Blackman, 21 January 2019, source edie newsroom

The government’s nuclear strategy is in “meltdown” following Hitachi’s announcement that it is halting work on its plans for a new UK atomic power plant in north Wales, Alan Whitehead has said. Labour’s energy spokesperson told the House of Commons yesterday (17 January) that Hitachi’s announcement, which also means a halt of work by the company’s UK nuclear arm Horizon on its other UK project at Oldbury in Gloucestershire, is a “significant blow” to the economy.

He said that the latest move, combined with Toshiba’s decision in November to scrap its plans for a three-reactor plant at Moorside, means that a total of 9.2GW of planned nuclear generation will not be delivered.

Whitehead also accused the government of reacting “far too slowly” to concerns about financing from its potential nuclear partners, including Hitachi’s arm Horizon, adding that government “dithering” had contributed to the axing of Moorside………..

Greg Clark, secretary of state for business and energy said that renewable technologies offer increasingly cost-effective and reliable options compared with nuclear, which is chiefly justified on the grounds that it replaces the baseload generating capacity currently supplied by higher emitting coal and gas plants: “We have also seen a strengthening in the pipeline of projects coming forward, meaning that renewable energy may now be just as cheap, but also readily available.

“In many ways, the challenge of financing new nuclear is one of falling costs and greater abundance of alternative technologies, which means that nuclear is being outcompeted.”

But he said the government remains committed to nuclear through the recently agreed sector deal with the industry, adding that it is considering a proposal from a Rolls-Royce led consortium for a “significant” joint investment in a small modular reactor project.

In addition, he said the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is exploring the regulated asset base model for financing nuclear development, which EDF is keen to see used for its next such project at Sizewell, and will be setting out its proposals for this new approach in an energy white paper that is due to be published in the summer. https://www.edie.net/news/11/Nuclear-strategy-in–meltdown–after-Wylfa-suspension/

January 22, 2019 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Rolls Royce involvement in Bradwell nuclear project is supposed to allay concerns about Chinese control

January 22, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

A dose of nuclear financial realism – is badly needed in Britain

Britain badly needs a dose of nuclear realism. If it remains a strategic necessity, the UK must find a way to win more bang for its buck, Ft.com ,   , 21 Jan 19

One thing British politicians have never lacked when making nuclear policy is optimism. When it comes to atomic energy, they leave Dr Pangloss in the shade. Take the last big nuclear programme back in the 1960s, whose purpose was to meet a fifth of the UK’s electricity needs. Rather than using proven (if US made) reactor technology, the government bet instead on a homegrown gas-cooled type. The minister of power, Fred Lee, confidently predicted the experimental design would be a world beater. Britain had “hit the jackpot”, he declared. The UK certainly hit something. But it wasn’t pay dirt. The AGR programme dragged on for more than two decades and was, in the words of the man who commissioned it, Arthur Hawkins of the Central Electricity Generating Board, “a catastrophe that must not be repeated”.  ………
 Once again, there is plenty of wishful thinking. Indeed, policy has been driven largely by a series of optimistic guesses. These include not just the cost of new reactors, but also the willingness of private capital to fund them without assistance from the state.  …….
again there are multiple reactor types. Repurposing often almost untested equipment for UK safety rules means that each starts from scratch with its own prototype, learning as it goes along. Add the need to fund these “first of type” schemes with private capital and it’s not surprising that projects have been falling by the wayside. Toshiba pulled out in November and, last week, Hitachi shelved plans to install its boiling water reactor technology at a promising site in Anglesey, having spent £2bn just getting to the start line.
The result is that a decade in, Britain has just one project under way — at Hinkley Point in Somerset — for which the government has struck an eye-wateringly expensive contract. The owner, EDF of France, is now saying it could do subsequent projects cheaper, because it will have the Hinkley experience to draw on. But given the absence of competition (the only other participant left in is CGN of China, EDF’s partner at Hinkley), the government faces the unpalatable prospect of a series of potentially disadvantageous bilateral deals. The UK originally set a target of about 18GW of electricity coming from nuclear by the 2030s. This has since been reduced to about 12GW. With only Hinkley and an ageing Sizewell B likely to be in operation, just 4.4GW of that target is likely to be met.  ……….
Removing complexity (and wishful thinking) doesn’t come without cost. The government would have to acquire the necessary sites and assist bidders to get them to the start line. (Abu Dhabi cut some corners the UK might balk at, such as accepting the supplier’s home country safety accreditation). It means the government acting as owner, committing to fund construction itself rather than going through complex contortions to attract just a sliver of risk-bearing equity. There may not be the political willpower.
 Of course, Britain does not have to go ahead with nuclear. It can run the risk of relying on other zero-carbon technologies, such as renewables, and other countries by building interconnectors. It can legislate to change the carbon targets it has set itself. But if nuclear power remains a strategic necessity, the UK needs a realistic programme to meet it. Otherwise the country will end up building vanishingly little new capacity, and doing so only at extortionate cost.  https://www.ft.com/content/5bc23eec-1caa-11e9-b2f7-97e4dbd3580d

January 22, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Orkney islands produce more electricity from wind and waves than they can use

Observer 20th Jan 2019 A tech revolution – and an abundance of wind and waves – mean that the people of Orkney now produce more electricity than they can use. It seems the stuff of fantasy. Giant ships sail the seas burning fuel that has been extracted from water using energy provided by the winds, waves and tides. A dramatic but implausible notion, surely.

Yet this grand green vision could soon be realised thanks to a remarkable technological transformation that is now under way in Orkney. Perched 10 miles beyond the northern edge of
the British mainland, this archipelago of around 20 populated islands – as well as a smattering of uninhabited reefs and islets – has become the centre of a revolution in the way electricity is generated.

Orkney was once utterly dependent on power that was produced by burning coal and gas on the Scottish mainland and then transmitted through an undersea cable. Today the islands are so festooned with wind turbines, they cannot find enough uses for the emission-free power they create on their own. Community-owned wind turbines generate power for local villages; islanders drive non-polluting cars that run on electricity; devices that can turn the energy of the waves and the tides into electricity are being tested in the islands’ waters and seabed; and – in the near future – car and passenger ferries here will be fuelled not by diesel but by hydrogen, created from water that has been electrolysed using power from Orkney’s wind, wave and
tide generators.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jan/20/orkney-northern-powerhouse-electricity-wind-waves-surplus-power-

January 22, 2019 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

Rolls-Royce vies for UK nuclear role

 https://www.bbc.com/news/business-46950292

Rolls-Royce has confirmed it is in talks with Chinese state-run firm China General Nuclear (CGN) over providing essential systems for a new power station in the UK.

The UK engineering company makes instrumentation and control systems for nuclear reactors.

The plant will be based at Bradwell, on the River Blackwater in Essex.

The project is one of three new nuclear schemes in this country in which CGN is centrally involved.

Rolls-Royce already has an agreement with CGN’s subsidiary, CTEC, to develop and sell reactor control systems for selected projects in China and on international markets.

Nuclear strategy

The planned new “Bradwell B” power station is a major component of the government’s nuclear strategy. The country’s existing reactors are ageing and all of them are due to shut down by 2035.

The Essex site is already home to an obsolete nuclear power station, which closed in 2002.

Its replacement was one of six new nuclear plants which were lined up in recent years to help meet energy needs in decades to come.

However, three of those projects have since fallen by the wayside.

January 22, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, UK | Leave a comment

Britain’s severe nuclear financial headache

Times 18th Jan 2019 , One thing that all these new power plants had in common was a reliance on foreign money. The same is true for proposed plants at Bradwell B and Sizewell C.  Hitachi, too, was involved in a proposed plant in Gloucestershire, which is now unlikely to progress.

Such is the vast cost of nuclear projects that few companies in the world can afford to finance them alone, and even governments struggle.

In today’s money, Hinkley C is expected to cost twice as much as the Channel tunnel. George Osborne, as
chancellor, guaranteed a return of £92.50 at 2012 prices per megawatt hour (Mwh) generated. For context, one Mwh of offshore wind power, once thought ridiculously expensive, guarantees suppliers £57.50.

Britain now finds itself with a headache. With many already regarding the Cameron government’s trust in Chinese involvement as a potential compromise of national security, it is unlikely that there would be further appetite for
a replacement Chinese partner, even if one could be found.

The French may also consider themselves already overcommitted to British projects.

Ministers will be wary, at any rate, of offering guarantees as expensive as Hinkley. Greg Clark, secretary of state for business and energy, confirmed yesterday that the government planned an energy white paper in the summer
to propose new methods for attracting nuclear financing. Pressing ahead without new nuclear capacity is plausible, but not without a considerable expansion of renewable energy and its storage capabilities. Customers may need to pay more for energy at busier times or invest in domestic storage of their own.
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/02d3fb2c-1a9d-11e9-944c-54b267eb465b

January 19, 2019 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Costly saga of Hitachi nuclear power project in North Wales comes to an end

Hitachi to Cease Work on Nuclear Power Plant in North Wales, NYT,   Stanley Reed, Jan. 17, 2019, Hitachi said on Thursday that it was suspending work on a 15 billion pound, or $19.3 billion, nuclear power project in North Wales after failing to agree on financial terms with the British and Japanese governments.

“The decision was made from the viewpoint of Hitachi’s economic rationality as a private enterprise,” the company, based in Japan, said.

Ben Russell, a spokesman for Hitachi’s British venture, Horizon Nuclear Power, said that discussions with the governments would continue but that its staff, currently around 300 people, would be cut to “a minimal handful.”

Hitachi will also stop planning work on a second project, in Oldbury, England. The company said it planned to take a write-off of 300 billion yen, or $2.75 billion, on the projects.

The decision by Hitachi is a blow to the British government, which is betting heavily on nuclear installations to help meet the country’s electric power needs in the coming decades.

The big question is whether Hitachi’s move will be a death knell for Britain’s campaign to build nuclear plants, which so far has resulted in only one project under construction.

While there are signs that the government is rethinking its energy policy, it was willing to go a long way toward trying to keep Hitachi on board.

In a statement to Parliament on Thursday, Greg Clark, the secretary of state for business and energy, said the government had been willing to consider providing one-third of the equity financing for the project and to take on all of the construction debt. When Hitachi continued to balk, Mr. Clark said, “I was not prepared to ask the taxpayer to take on a larger share.”

…….For Hitachi, though, the announcement could mark the end of a long and expensive saga. The company acquired the Horizon sites from two German utilities in 2012 for £697 million, or about $900 million, and wound up spending around £2 billion in total on design approvals, staff and other matters. It has been hiring apprentices, who have been training at a technical college on the island and going to Spain and Japan for work experience. At times in recent months more than 100 archaeologists were on the site, excavating and recording ancient structures that the construction would have destroyed.

Hitachi hoped Britain would prove to be an international showcase for its reactor designs. Ultimately, the company lost patience with the high level of spending required to land such a project there.

Hitachi had sought to arrive at a financial arrangement that would attract long-term investors like pension funds to the project and reduce its own exposure. But the offers of support from both the British and the Japanese sides were not enough………https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/17/business/energy-environment/hitachi-horizon-wales-nuclear-plant.html

January 19, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Wind energy ready to supply UK electricity: time to remove the ban on onshore subsidies

Windfarm industry urges UK to lift onshore subsidies ban, Guardian, Adam Vaughan,  @adamvaughan_uk,  19 Jan 2019

Firms say 800 renewable projects ready to plug gap left after Wylfa nuclear plant scrapped  Ministers have been urged to drop their block on subsidies for onshore windfarms, as industry figures showed that nearly 800 renewable projects are ready to plug much of the power gap left by the abandonment of the Wylfa nuclear project.

Hitachi dropped plans for the nuclear plant in Wales this week, raising questions over what would replace it and leading the business secretary, Greg Clark, to admit that renewable energy sources are more competitively priced than nuclear.
The wind industry said if a bar on onshore windfarm subsidies was lifted it would allow the construction of 794 projects which have won consent through the planning system and are ready to build. Together they would generate around 12 terawatt hours of energy a year; two thirds of what Wylfa would have produced.

A dozen firms are behind the schemes, including small players and big names such as Scottish Power, Vattenfall, E.ON, EDF Energy and npower’s owner Innogy. But onshore windfarm installations have stalled since the government banned them from securing subsidies.

Emma Pinchbeck, the executive director of RenewableUK, which compiled the figures, said: “We have ready-to-go onshore wind that can help close the gap between the low carbon power we need and the amount government policy is actually delivering, and this week’s announcement on nuclear power has made this mammoth task even harder.”

But she said the government had “stacked the odds” against building the onshore windfarms needed to hit the UK’s carbon targets, by excluding developers from competing for subsidies in auctions. Only offshore windfarms can compete for state funds currently.

The government’s figures show onshore windfarms are the cheapest source of new electricity generation. The Hinkley Point nuclear project in Somerset won a guaranteed price of £92.50 per megawatt hour, compared with £57.50 for offshore windfarms in the early 2020s. Experts think onshore windfarms could hit around £50 per MWh…….

The Scottish energy minister, Paul Wheelhouse, said that after the failure of Hitachi’s projects, it was time for the UK to prioritise onshore windfarms and other renewable technologies over nuclear.

The government’s infrastructure advisers, the National Infrastructure Commission, urged a rethink that would allow onshore windfarms to compete for support…….https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jan/18/windfarm-industry-urges-uk-to-lift-onshore-subsidies-ban

January 19, 2019 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

UK Secretary for Energy reveals the staggering amounts of tax-payer money offered to Hitachi to build nuclear reactors inWales

Jim Green Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch South Australia shared a link. 19 Jan 19

UK Secretary (Minister) for energy and business on the staggering subsidies offered to Hitachi to build reactors in Wales … and the project collapsed anyway!

Mr. Speaker, while negotiations were ongoing, I am sure the House will understand that the details were commercially sensitive, but following Hitachi’s announcement I can set out in more candid terms the support that the government was willing to offer in support of the project.

Firstly, the government was willing to consider taking a one third equity stake in the project, alongside investment from Hitachi and Government of Japan agencies and other strategic partners.

Secondly, the government was willing to consider providing all of the required debt financing to complete construction.

Thirdly, the government agreed to consider providing a Contract for Difference to the project with a strike price expected to be no more £75 per megawatt hour.

I hope the House would agree that this is a significant and generous package of potential support that goes beyond what any government has been willing to consider in the past. Despite this potential investment, and strong support from the government of Japan, Hitachi have reached the view that the project still posed too great a commercial challenge, particularly given their desire to deconsolidate the project from their balance sheet and the likely level of return on their investment.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/1021186047913052/

January 19, 2019 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Why the UK government is losing its enthusiasm for nuclear power

Why is the government cooling on nuclear?, BBC News, 17 January 2019

There was a time – not so long ago – that government ministers talked enthusiastically about a new nuclear age. A fleet of brand new reactors producing reliable, low carbon electricity for decades to come. Not only that, but the government wouldn’t be taking any of the risks associated with financing and building them.

Hinkley, Moorside, Wylfa, Oldbury, Bradwell and Sizewell were identified as the sites for the most significant national wave of new nuclear power construction anywhere in the world.

Of those six, only one is under construction, three have been abandoned, and two face an uphill battle to get the green light.

Under those circumstances, you might think the government would be embarrassed that its energy policy was in disarray. But it’s not.

The collapse of the Wylfa and Oldbury projects today (following the abandonment of Moorside) is evidence of some new economic realities that have seen government enthusiasm for new nuclear fade.

High price

The first and most obvious is the cost of building the darn things.

At £20bn Hinkley Point is the most expensive UK construction project to date – HS2 will beat it.

The good news is that the UK government isn’t paying a penny of it.

The bad news is that the electricity it will one day produce will be expensive.

EDF, the French contractor that’s paying for its construction, could only raise the money to do it by extracting a guarantee from the UK government that it would receive more than double the current going rate – for 35 years.

That’s one way to finance it. Let EDF raise the money and take the risk but ultimately foist the cost onto future generations of energy customers.

Who pays?

One of the reasons Hinkley is so expensive is that EDF needed to go out and borrow huge sums for a risky project at interest rates of over 9%. In fact, of the total £20bn bill for Hinkley, well over half of it was the cost of raising the money over the lifetime of the project.

The government can borrow money much more cheaply than anyone else. Right now it could get a £20bn 10-year loan at 1.3% and use that money to build the thing itself. There are financial and political problems with that.

First, it adds to the public debt – which successive recent governments have been keen to reduce.

Second, if there are massive cost overruns (and that is almost a rule with nuclear projects), the government foots the spiralling bill, taking commensurate political flak.

Third, if the government is suddenly in the business of building nuclear power stations, why not other things – in fact why not nationalise the infrastructure we have already got? That is not comfortable territory for a Conservative government.

Doing the sums

There is a another way. Pay-as-you-go. Rather than lumber future generations with more expensive energy, get current consumers to pay a little extra on their bills (amount decided by the regulator) during the construction. This removes the need for massive borrowing and means you don’t have to offer a juicy price guarantee to the contractor at the end as a reward for taking the operational and financial risk.

This is the model the government now prefers and is testing on the Thames Tideway project. If Sizewell and Bradwell are ever built – this is how they will be financed.

I say “if” because the truth is, the sums for new nuclear have been made very tough by the sharp falls in the cost of renewables. In 2015, the cost of offshore wind was over £140 per megawatt hour. That makes Hinkley Point look cheap at £92.50. The price of offshore wind is now £57.50……. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-46906245

January 19, 2019 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Renewable energy can replace UK’s Moorside, Wylfa and Sizewell C nuclear power at a much cheaper cost

ECIU (accessed) 17th Jan 2019 The future of the Government’s plans to roll out six new nuclear power
stations across Britain is looking increasingly parlous, as the Wylfa
project becomes the second power station to be scrapped in just two months.

Wylfa’s demise makes the Oldbury project extremely unlikely to proceed,
while Toshiba has already backed out of developing its Moorside station.

Their absence leaves space for new low-carbon capacity to fill the gap. Filling the ‘nuclear gap’ with
alternative low-carbon power sources would keep bills down, maintain secure
energy supply and allow the UK to maintain progress towards legally binding
climate targets.

A representative scenario, in which 80% of the energy
output of Moorside, Wylfa and Sizewell C was replaced in equal measure by
onshore and offshore wind, with the remaining 20% by solar PV would entail
an average price of £50-65/MWh, including the cost of system balancing.

This is 13-33% cheaper than the cost of energy from nuclear (not accounting
for nuclear system costs). This would see an additional 11.3 GW of onshore
wind and 5.7 GW of offshore wind capacity, as well as 20.8 GW of new solar
PV capacity. Renewable capacity is already set to increase on current
levels, as more – and cheaper – capacity continues to come online.

https://eciu.net/assets/Briefing-%E2%80%93-Filling-the-nuclear-gap-compressed.pdf

January 19, 2019 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

Dungeness B nuclear station – safety problems, reactors still shut down

January 19, 2019 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

UK govt’s plan to let down solar householders has not gone down well

Physics World 16th Jan 2019 Dave Elliott: The UK government’s plan to abandon the feed-in tariff
(FIT) system for small renewable energy projects did not go down well,
especially since it meant the loss of the export tariff. Householders who
invested in a photovoltaic (PV) array on their roof have used that to
offset the cost of their investment by selling any extra power they
generated at a reasonable rate – 5.24 p/kWh – to their grid supplier.

However, with the FiT, along with the export tariff, to be closed to new
applicants from the end of March, they will get nothing for any exports. In
a parliamentary debate on the FiT in November last year, energy minister
Claire Perry said she aimed to avoid that situation. It certainly looked
unfair and counterproductive.

Claire Perry has now gone ahead with a
consultation on the Government’s proposals for a new market for
electricity export from small-scale PV solar, configured “so that people
are not providing it to the grid for free”. Under the proposed “Smart
Export Guarantee” (SEG), electricity suppliers would pay new small-scale
PV and other energy producers for excess electricity from homes and
businesses put back into the power grid.
https://physicsworld.com/a/after-the-fit/

January 19, 2019 Posted by | decentralised, UK | Leave a comment

UK government’s proposed ‘Regulated Asset Base’ (RAB) financing – a cover-up for a nuclear bailout

January 17, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment