The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Chinese company worried that Brexit might muck up UK’s planned nuclear power projects

Chinese nuclear group raises concern that Brexit may hinder plans for Essex reactor, 28 APRIL 2017The Chinese nuclear developer behind three of the UK’s planned new nuclear power plants has warned that Brexit has cast doubt over the nuclear cooperation between China, France and Britain.

CGN Power has raised concern over the UK’s departure from a key pan-European nuclear group, Euratom, as it prepares its submission for the UK government’s rigorous assessment of China’s homegrown reactor design.

In exchange for taking a minority stake in EDF Energy’s £36bn plans to build nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point C and Sizewell B, the UK Government has left the door open for a Chinese-designed reactor at Bradwell in Essex – despite security concerns over a Chinese company holding control of key British infrastructure.
China hopes that by gaining a foothold in the UK market, considered one of the world’s most stringent safety regimes, it will be able to grow its international nuclear presence.

But Dongshan Zheng, the senior vice president of CGN, said at an industry event that the decision to leave Euratom as part of Brexit will “create some uncertainties” for its UK plans. “How this project will go ahead smoothly, how we will have as good a relationship as we have now – this is the first challenge,” he said.

Euratom streamlines the international movement of nuclear goods, people and services through a standard framework which governs safety standards.

Without membership, the UK’s nuclear renaissance could face delay while complicated new bilateral agreements are formed. It would strip the EU stamp of approval from China’s first own-design reactor in Western Europe.

“Certainly, the project itself will face some risks in costs, in terms of planning,” he said.Earlier this year EDF Energy told a committee of MPs that ideally it would remain part of Euratom but if the UK does leave it is vital that the Government agrees transitional arrangements, to give the UK time to negotiate and complete new agreements.

The MPs are due to report on the UK’s energy priorities in the Brexit negotiations early next week but the findings could be undermined by the upcoming snap election which will force an overhaul of parliamentary committees this summer.

April 29, 2017 Posted by | China, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

Brexit and Britain’s problem of nuclear waste

NucClear News no 95 May 17  Brexit & Radwaste As Britain heads towards a hard Brexit and Brexatom – quitting Euratom – thanks to a freedom of information request, the Gizmodo website has obtained details of some of the internal worries of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). The document, dated 13th July 2016, runs through some of the biggest strategic challenges created by us leaving the EU.

An NDA subsidiary, Radioactive Waste Management Ltd (RWM) is engaged in research on deep geological disposal. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the EU is fronting a lot of the research cash. For example, one project – DOPAS – The Full-Scale Demonstration of Plugs and Seals, studied how to plug and seal radioactive waste. In this case Europe paid €8,700,000 – half the cost of doing it. It has also recently paid for a number of other similar projects. The document goes on to reveal that RWM is planning to seek European cash for future projects with similarly impenetrable acronyms. The best one is Europe putting an expected contribution of €3-4m into “DISCO” – a project studying the Dissolution of Spent Fuel in Waste Containers. Though it isn’t explicitly spelled out in the document, the implication is obvious: If our relationship with Europe is currently up in the air – so is the ability to pay for these important research projects.

Perhaps the biggest danger though – reading between the lines – is the risks associated with Britain becoming more hostile to immigration. “UK universities have a multinational community”, the document explains, “UK universities have been very successful in attracting the best talent (students and academic staff) from across the world, which in turn leads additional funding, better teaching and higher quality research. An inability to attract non-UK EU nationals would have a negative impact on UK universities and indirectly on the NDA estate R&D programme.”

Ultimately then, it appears that Brexit is going to create headaches when it comes to getting rid of radioactive waste.

April 28, 2017 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Round-up pf latest news on UK’s Hinkley Point C nuclear project

No2 Nuclear Power No 95 May 17  Hinkley Notes · The government has been slammed by the Information Commissioner’s Office over a number of “unjustifiable” delays in publishing details of contracts for Hinkley Point C. Whitehall officials were guilty of “egregious” and unjustifiable delays before revealing details of government contracts for Hinkley Point C awarded to a company facing a potential conflict of interest. Leigh Fisher, a management consultancy, was awarded a £1.2 million contract by the Department of Energy and Climate Change for its advice on Hinkley Point, despite the British division of Jacobs Engineering, an American group that also owns Leigh Fisher, working for EDF on the project. The advice from Leigh Fisher helped the government to agree the 35-year subsidy deal with EDF. Details of the arrangement with Leigh Fisher, which has concerned MPs including Iain Wright, chairman of the Commons’ business, energy and industrial strategy select committee, emerged in November after The Times obtained redacted details of the tender documents under the Freedom of Information Act. However, it took the business department almost six months to release information after it was requested. Public bodies typically are required to respond to FOI requests within 20 working days. The department also heavily redacted details of separate Hinkley Point contracts awarded to KPMG and Lazard, including passages regarding potential conflicts of interests. KPMG was paid about £4.4 million for its work by the department and Lazard £2.6 million. (1)

EDF Energy has confirmed that discussions are ongoing in a dispute over pay involving ground workers at Hinkley Point C. (2) EDF said on 24th April it was still in dialogue with trade unions after payment offers were labelled “derisory” and “unacceptable” in a Unite press release. The row over bonus pay is threatening to lead to an industrial dispute among construction workers on the site. A consultative ballot is to be held among 700 members of Unite and GMB, which could lead to a vote on industrial action. (3) ·

The news of a possible strike comes days after crew members had to be rescued from a Hinkley Point ship as it began to sink in the Bristol Channel. The three crew members of a former military landing craft had to be rescued following a mayday call in the Bristol Channel. The vessel, which takes building materials to the Hinkley Point C power station under construction, had started to take on water. A crew member was airlifted to hospital in Cardiff suffering from hypothermia after three lifeboats and a helicopter were scrambled to the scene. The craft finally beached in the mouth of the River Parrett. (4)

Work is gathering pace on Hinkley Point C says the FT. (5) The once grassy valley, carrying the Holford stream towards the Bristol Channel, is being filled with earth and rubble excavated from the adjacent construction site. Last month concrete pouring started on the first permanent structures: an 8km network of tunnels that will carry piping and cables around the site. The Guardian says the site looks more like Mordor, from Lord of the Rings, a scarred landscape and hive of activity driven with a single purpose: ensuring these reactors do not repeat the delays and overspends at Flamanville and Olkiluoto. (6) Vincent de Rivaz, head of EDF in the UK, says work is on schedule. Yet as one set of hurdles is cleared, another is looming. French nuclear regulators are investigating potential safety problems with steel components destined for Hinkley from a foundry suspected of falsifying quality-assurance documents. The probe involves Areva, the French nuclear reactor manufacturer and close partner of EDF, and has already caused temporary shutdowns of several existing reactors in France to check for faults. Only the hopelessly naive would believe EDF’s claims that Hinkley will start generating electricity by 2025, says Geoff Ho, writing in The Express. The likelihood of it being delivered on time and on budget is remote. Unions are already threatening to go on strike over bonus payments, and there are the unresolved safety concerns about the EPR design Given Britain’s less than glorious history of infrastructure projects being delivered late and massively over budget, he cannot see Hinkley Point C bucking the trend. (7)

A group of activists has filed a legal challenge with the French prime minister’s office against the extension of EDF’s licence for construction of the Flamanville nuclear reactor in northern France. The move by Greenpeace and other anti-nuclear groups is in response to safety concerns over the Flamanville reactor and is a precursor to elevation of their challenge to the State Council, the country’s highest administrative court. The lobby groups said in a statement that the licence, issued in 2007 and renewed this year, should not have been granted because EDF and reactor supplier Areva were aware of technical shortcomings at Areva’s Creusot Forge nuclear foundry since 2005. In 2014 Areva discovered that the lid of the Flamanville reactor vessel manufactured by Creusot Forge showed abnormally high carbon concentrations, which weaken its steel. (8)….

April 28, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Greens Party condemns as immoral UK government’s willingness for pre-emptive strike

Tories are ‘fanatics’ for saying they would start a nuclear war, Green Party says Green co-leader Jonathan Barley attacked the Tories and Labour’s positions on Trident, Jon Stone Political Correspondent @joncstone, 25 Apr 17,  The Green Party has accused the Conservatives of “fanaticism” after the Defence Secretary admitted that Theresa May could start a nuclear war.

Michael Fallon had said the Prime Minister could launch a nuclear attack against another country, even if the UK was not under nuclear attack, in “the most extreme circumstances”. 

Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party, branded the position “immoral”  because it would lead to the deaths of countless civilians.  He also criticised Jeremy Corbyn, whose party says it will renew Trident despite its leader’s clear statement that he would not use the weapon of mass destruction. Mr Bartley branded Labour’s approach to the multi-billion pound missile system “HMS Pointless”.

Speaking at St George’s Hospital in Tooting on Monday the Green co-leader pledged spend the cost of the weapon on the NHS.

“Voters are being offered a choice between Tory first strike fanaticisms and Labour’s HMS Pointless. What could be more immoral than considering a first use of nuclear weapons, knowing full well that it would lead to the death of countless civilians?” he said.

“And what could be more illogical that pledging to renew a multi-billion pound nuclear weapons system that will never be used? With people struggling to get by in Britain it’s inexcusable to be ploughing people’s money into this cold war relic.

“Instead of replacing this nuclear monstrosity the Green Party would give the NHS an emergency kiss of life. People are being treated in corridors while we flush money away on nuclear weapons. Cancelling Trident would give our NHS more than £3bn per year – which must be added to additional funding from raising taxes.

“Real security means having a world class health service, not locking ourselves into replacing these weapons we’ll never use. Imagine the impact on our NHS of employing 85,000 more nurses, midwives and health professionals – that’s what is at stake here.”

Speaking on Sunday Labour leader Mr Corbyn said he would try to de-escalate a nuclear war and said that “any use of nuclear weapons is a disaster for the whole world”. His party however says it is committed to maintaining a “nuclear deterrent” and would renew Trident.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 this morning Mr Fallon, Ms May’s defence secretary, said: “In the most extreme circumstances, we have made it very clear that you can’t rule out the use of nuclear weapons as a first strike.

Asked in what circumstances, he replied: “They are better not specified or described, which would only give comfort to our enemies and make the deterrent less credible.”

The highest estimate of the cost of replacing Trident is £205 billion over its lifetime, according to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. One estimate collated from ministerial statement by Crispin Blunt, the Tory MP who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee, pegged the cost at £167 billion.

The independent Trident Commission, which reported in 2014, pegged the cost at closer to £100 billion.

April 26, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Theresa May would be willing to fire a pre-emptive nuclear strike

Theresa May would fire UK’s nuclear weapons as a ‘first strike’, says Defence Secretary Michael Fallon
‘We have made it very clear that you can’t rule out the use 
of nuclear weapons as a first strike’ Independent,  Rob Merrick Deputy Political Editor @Rob_Merrick , 24 Apr 17,
Theresa May would fire Britain’s nuclear weapons as a ‘first strike’ if necessary, the Defence Secretary has said.

Michael Fallon said the Prime Minister was prepared to launch Trident in “the most extreme circumstances”, even if Britain itself was not under nuclear attack.

The statement came as the Conservatives continued to exploit Labour divisions on the retention of the Trident deterrent, to warn of the“very dangerous chaos” if Jeremy Corbyn becomes prime minister……..

“In the most extreme circumstances, we have made it very clear that you can’t rule out the use of nuclear weapons as a first strike,” Mr Fallon said.

Asked in what circumstances, he replied: “They are better not specified or described, which would only give comfort to our enemies and make the deterrent less credible.

“The whole point about the deterrent is that you have got to leave uncertainty in the mind of anyone who might be thinking of using weapons against this country.”

Mr Fallon also insisted that critics of Trident – including senior military figures who have ridiculed the idea that it is an effective deterrent – were “absolutely wrong”……..

“The Labour party is very clear we are committed to a credible nuclear credibility at the minimum end of the scale. That is Labour party policy and it will be in the manifesto,” Mr Gwynne said.

But he appeared to rule out a first strike, adding: “We would not be in a position where the first choice would be to press that red button. It is a deterrent because we have them.

“We believe in multilateralism, we believe in negotiating away our nuclear weapons system to create a nuclear weapon free world.”…….

April 26, 2017 Posted by | UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russian warning: Britain would be ‘razed to the ground’if it launched a nuclear attack

Britain would be ‘literally erased from the face of the earth’ if it launched a nuclear attack, warns Russian MP  Another translation says Britain would be ‘razed to the ground’ in a retaliatory strike, Independent, Samuel Osborne @SamuelOsborne93, 24 Apr 17, Britain would be “literally erased from the face of the earth” in a nuclear war, a Russian MP has warned.

Franz Klintsevich, a retired colonel, was responding to comments from Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, who said “in the most extreme circumstances, we have made it very clear that you can’t rule out the use of nuclear weapons as a first strike.”

Mr Klintsevich said if Britain were to launch a preemptive strike, then “not having the biggest territory, it will literally be erased from the face of the earth.”  Another translation, carried by the Russian news agency TASS, says Britain would be “razed to the ground” in a retaliatory strike.

Sir Michael’s comments came in response to Labour divisions over retaining the Trident deterrent, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn suggesting renewal might not be in the party’s election manifesto — only to be corrected later by party colleagues.

Speaking to BBC Radio Four’s Today Programme, Sir Michael said Labour had left voters “completely unsure as to what would actually happen to our nuclear deterrent.”

He said Prime Minster Theresa May would be ready to use Trident as a “pre-emptive initial strike”…….
Mr Klintsevich, who is deputy chairman of the upper house of the Russian parliament’s defence and security committee, called Sir Michael’s comments “disgusting” and said it “deserves a tough response”. He added: “In the best case this statement should be taken as an element of psychological war — which looks particularly disgusting in such a context.

“Otherwise, it sounds really bad, because a reasonable question arises: Against whom is Great Britain going to preemptively use nuclear weapons?”

If Britain intended to use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state, he added, “then probably English people desperately want to share the laurels of the USA who threw nuclear bombs at defenceless [Japanese cities] Hiroshima and Nagasaki [in 1945].”

“But those times have gone for good, as has the era of the greatness of the British Empire.”

April 26, 2017 Posted by | Russia, UK, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Millions funnelled to North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme through house in suburban London

KIM’S N-UK-E HQ  Millions funnelled to North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme through this house in suburban London street
The Korea National Insurance Corporation’s (KNIC) assets have ‘now been frozen. 
By Jon Lockett 23rd April 2017, 

April 26, 2017 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

If a nuclear bomb hit Coventry, UK ….

What would happen if a nuclear bomb hit Coventry? The city centre would be turned into a 300m wide and 200m deep crater, BY JAMES RODGER, 23 Apr 17, Hundreds of thousands of people would be killed if a nuclear blast hit Coventry and Warwickshire.

Imagining the bomb went off at ground level in Broadgate, the city centre would be turned into a 300m wide and 200m deep crater, according to interactive data site Nukemap.

The map below shows the impact of a nuclear explosion in Coventry.

Fireball radius (orange)

Fatal levels of radiation would increase greatly if the nuke exploded at ground level.

The fireball radius (orange) would see the entire city centre including monuments such as the Cathedral, Broadgate and West Orchards Shopping Centre consumed by a nuclear fireball 3.2km wide.

This would stretch as far as the Ricoh Arena at one end, and Finham at the other.

The fatality rate is 100 per cent.

  • Crater inside radius: 150 m (0.07 km²)
  • Crater lip radius: 300 m (0.28 km²)
  • Fireball radius: 0.71 km (1.56 km²)
  • Air blast radius (20 psi): 1.67 km (8.8 km²)
  • Radiation radius (500 rem): 2.26 km (16.1 km²)
  • Air blast radius (5 psi): 3.52 km (39 km²)
  • Thermal radiation radius (3rd degree burns): 8.95 km (251 km²)
  • Radiation radius (green)

    Slightly wider than the fireball radius. Without medical treatment, expect between 50 per cent and 90 per cent 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 the University of Warwick campus, Binley Road, and Holbooks, among other areas. The fatality rate is still 100 per cent – 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 Fillongley, Bedworth, Kenilworth and Ryton.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 Nuneaton, Hinckley, Sutton Coldfield, parts of Birmingham and Leamington Spa.

  • The city would be dependent on outsiders and national agencies for help after the blast. In the fallout survivors would find dozens of hospitals and medical facilities would have been destroyed. A dozen fire stations would also have been wiped out.At the same moment around 200 schools and hundreds of churches, mosques, gurdwaras and temples could have been levelled or badly damaged.

April 24, 2017 Posted by | Reference, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Doubts on whether UK Labour will back Trident nuclear weapons programme Trident

Jeremy Corbyn does not guarantee the Labour manifesto will back Trident nuclear weapons
Jeremy Corbyn was grilled on pushing the “nuclear button” and killing the leader of ISIS in his first big TV interview of the general election campaign,
Mirror, BYDAN BLOOM 23 APR 2017 

Jeremy Corbyn has thrown Labour’s controversial support for Britain’s nuclear weapons programme Trident into question by failing to guarantee it will be in the party’s manifesto.

The Labour leader swerved the question in a TV interview today by saying the document was still being drawn up.

 Mr Corbyn is a lifelong anti-nuclear campaigner but Labour policy supports the renewal of Trident – for which the government has set aside £41bn and campaigners say will cost £205bn.

That has caused ructions in the 18 months since he became Labour leader and the party split three ways on whether to back renewal last year.  In a testy interview Mr Corbyn also did not guarantee he would push the so-called “nuclear button” to launch a pre-emptive strike.

And he did not guarantee he would authorise a strike to kill ISIS’ leader, instead saying any killing must support a “political solution”.

Pressed on whether killing ISIS’s leader would help that solution, Mr Corbyn said: “I think the leader of ISIS not being around would be helpful and I’m no supporter or defender in any way whatsoever of ISIS.”

But he added the bombing campaign had killed innocent civilians.

Labour later attempted to clarify Mr Corbyn’s remarks in a statement saying: “The decision to renew Trident has been taken and Labour supports that.”

Mr Corbyn clashed with the BBC’s Andrew Marr in his first major broadcast interview of the 2017 general election campaign……..

April 24, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

1950s UK dummy nuclear bomb fiasco

Dorking narrowly avoided ‘nuclear bomb drop’ fiasco,, 23 Apr 17, Scientists working on the UK’s first atom bomb narrowly avoided a fiasco when they nearly dropped a five tonne replica on Dorking, it has emerged.

The dummy device was being flown to Orford Ness, a top secret military test site in Suffolk, in the early 1950s.It came loose in the bomb bay while over the Surrey town, about 20 miles from London, but the bomb doors held.An engineer who worked on the device said it was then dropped in the Thames estuary, where it remains to this day.

Fortunately, the device contained no explosives or nuclear material.

The revelation is made in a BBC Four documentary, Britain’s Nuclear Bomb: The Inside Story. Reg Milne, of the Royal Aircraft Establishment, told the programme: “One flight to Orford Ness, a bomb came loose over Dorking. It fell off its hook. “Luckily the bomb doors were strong enough to hold it.” He revealed: “The pilot took the aircraft over the Thames estuary, opened the bomb doors, and the bomb fell out.” He said the huge splash that resulted nearly drowned a couple of sailors nearby.

“They never found it – it’s still in the Thames somewhere,” he added.

The programme features interviews with military veterans and scientists who took part in the atomic bomb programme, some speaking for the first time, plus newly released footage of the British atomic bomb tests.

At the time, with the UK excluded from the US nuclear programme, scientists were scrambling to make a British bomb and seemingly cutting a few corners in the process. According to the programme, highly radioactive plutonium was also frequently transported in a lead-lined box by car from the research reactor in Cumbria to a testing site in south London.

On one occasion, the vehicle broke down and the driver had to knock doors to get help. As a result, the dangerous material allegedly spent several hours in the boot of a Vauxhall stranded in a pub car park. Britain’s Nuclear Bomb: The Inside Story will be broadcast on BBC Four on 3 May.

April 24, 2017 Posted by | history, UK | Leave a comment

Hitachi still interested in Wylfa nuclear station, while others waver over NuGen nuclear project in Moorside

Hitachi set for talks with business secretary Greg Clark over Welsh nuclear plant, Mark Sands City A.M’s political reporter, 23 Apr `17 . Bosses at Japanese energy giant Hitachi are due to meet business secretary Greg Clark for talks just weeks after the firm applied for approval to build its Wylfa nuclear project in Anglesey.

Hitachi chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi will meet with Clark this week as government planning continues over the creation of a fleet of new nuclear projects in the UK.

Horizon, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, plans to build and operate two nuclear reactors at Wylfa, capable of generating enough to power around 10 million homes by the mid 2020s.
The application to build the Wylfa reactors earlier this month was the first since 2011, and has been predicted to take around 19 months.

It comes as Hitachi’s Japanese rival Toshiba continues to consider its options over the NuGen nuclear project in Moorside, Cumbria.

French utility firm Engie revealed in early April that it would withdraw from the project, while Toshiba has been wracked with its own problems after revealing dramatic writedowns on its Westinghouse US nuclear unit.

April 24, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, UK | Leave a comment

Toshiba’s financial woes – a bad omen for UK nuclear programme: is Moorside dead?

Toshiba’s US nuclear problems provide cautionary tale for UK  Experts say construction delays and cost problems at two plants are due to lack of experience and absence of supply chains, Guardian, , 14 Apr 17, 

The roots of Toshiba’s admission this week that it has serious doubts over its “ability to continue as a going concern” can be found near two small US towns.

It is the four reactors being built for nuclear power stations outside Waynesboro, in Georgia, and Jenkinsville, South Carolina, by the company’s US subsidiary Westinghouse that have left the Japanese corporation facing an annual loss of £7.37bn.

Construction work on the units has run hugely over budget and over schedule, casting a shadow over two of the biggest new nuclear power station projects in the US for years.

Events came to a head last month when Westinghouse was forced to file for bankruptcy protection to limit Toshiba’s losses……..

Toshiba’s losses stem from Westinghouse’s acquisition in 2015 of the nuclear construction business CB&I Stone & Webster, which it hoped would solve the delays on the two sites. That deal has now backfired spectacularly, pushing Westinghouse and its parent company to the brink of financial collapse.

The regulator for one of the projects, Plant Vogtle, in Georgia, has said Westinghouse’s bankruptcy means the project will require more “time and money”.

 Meanwhile the utility company paying for the Virgil C Summer Nuclear Generating Station, near Jenkinsville, South Carolina, warned this week that abandonment of the project was one of the options it was now considering………

Nephew said: “This experience may push the US into a different model, perhaps focused on smaller modular reactors, or less complicated designs.”

The US energy secretary, Rick Perry, signalled the Trump administration’s support for nuclear this week, issuing a statement at the G7 summit in which he said the US backed “advanced civil-nuclear technologies”. That suggested support for next-generation reactors rather than the sort being built by Westinghouse.

Richard Morningstar, chairman of the Global Energy Centre at the international affairs thinktank Atlantic Council, said: “What is happening to Westinghouse and Toshiba only emphasises the need to double down on research on new, safe, nuclear technologies, such as small modular reactors. If we do not do so in the US, leadership will be ceded to other countries.”

One such aspiring atomic leader is the UK, where the government wants to build a new generation of nuclear power stations to help satisfy the country’s power needs for decades to come.

But there are obvious parallels between the two countries on the issues of recent experience and supply chains. The UK has not completed a new nuclear power station since Sizewell B on the Suffolk coast started generating power in 1995………

The EPR reactor design for Hinkley is the same as that for the reactors it is building in Finland, and at Flamanville, in France, though both of those are running late and over budget.

The other new nuclear projects proposed around the UK, all by foreign companies, look less certain and all are still years from construction starting in earnest.

Toshiba said this week it would consider selling its shares in the consortium behind another plant planned at Moorside, in Cumbria, which would utilise three of the same AP1000 Westinghouse reactors being built for the two crisis-hit US plants.

The South Korean power company Kepco last month expressed an interest in buying into the project, and the business secretary , Greg Clark, went to South Korea last week for talks on collaboration on nuclear power.

However, any rescue by Seoul is far from certain. The two leading candidates in South Korea’s elections in May said this week that they favoured rowing back on nuclear power and switching to renewable energy. Kepco would also face a regulatory delay of several years if it wanted to use its own technology at Moorside……..

While the government has argued that it has plans in place to keep the lights on if new nuclear projects do not materialise, others said the deepening crisis at Toshiba this week showed the need for ministers to consider a new energy policy.

“It’s time to come up with a new plan A,” said Paul Dorfman, of the Energy Institute, at University College London, who believes the Moorside project is dead. “It’s time for a viable strategy that talks about grid upgrades, solar, energy efficiency, and energy management.”

A report published on Thursday highlighted another alternative: a U-turn on the Conservative party’s manifesto commitment to block new onshore windfarms. Analysis for the trade body Scottish Renewables suggested wind turbines on land had become so cheap they could be built for little or no subsidy, compared to the lucrative contract awarded to EDF for Hinkley.

April 15, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, UK | Leave a comment

UK’s Ministry of Defence brings in nuclear bigwig to run the £41bn programme for Dreadnought nuclear missile submarines

MoD appoints nuclear chief to help keep Dreadnought submarines on course, Telegraph UK,    industry editor 14 APRIL 2017   A Treasury troubleshooter has been brought in to run Britain’s military nuclear programmes with a remit to keep the massive Trident replacement submarine programme on track.

Civil servant Julian Kelly will join the Ministry of Defence in May in the new position of director-general nuclear, where he will be responsible for Britain’s nuclear submarines, nuclear warheads and day-to-day policy.

Top of his to do list in the £200,000-a-year role will be ensuring the £41bn programme to build the next generation of Dreadnought nuclear missile submarines for the Royal Navy stays on track. A key task will be working with the soon-to-be appointed head of the Submarine Delivery Authority (SDA), an arm’s-length body created to ensure the Dreadnought programme meets its targets.

The Telegraph understands that final interviews for this role took place in past fortnight, with top engineers and executives being lined up as the MoD looks to tap industry for its experience in running huge projects on time and budget.

The £500,000-a-year job as SDA chief executive is one of the highest paid public roles, reflecting the immense importance of the Trident programme to the UK’s security, with the Navy tasked with keeping one submarine armed with nuclear missiles at sea at all times.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has repeatedly warned how critical Britain’s nuclear programmes are, saying delivery of the new submarines “cannot and must not slip”.
Suppliers including BAE Systems, which is leading overall programme, and Rolls-Royce, which is building the submarines’ nuclear powerplants, have been warned of a “pain and gain” regime to contracts. This will mean they will share the results of coming in under budget but cost over-runs and delays will result in heavy penalties.

“We will absolutely challenge BAE and other suppliers such as Rolls-Royce,” the Defence Secretary has warned. “They are going to be incentivised to keep the targets and they will suffer if they don’t.”

Building the four new Dreadnought submarines is seen as the biggest financial risk the MoD faces. Although the work has been costed at £31bn, a £10bn contingency was added on reflecting the huge complexity of the task and vital importance on being on time, with the current Vanguard class missile submarines coming to the end of their lives in the 2030s……

April 15, 2017 Posted by | UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Toshiba to dump UK Moorside nuclear project, in effort to stay afloat?

Toshiba considers sale of Moorside nuclear project in Cumbria as own survival in doubt in wake of £7bn losses 11 APRIL 2017

Toshiba is considering selling a stake in its nuclear project in Cumbria after warning it could struggle to remain in business  as a result of expected annual losses of more than 1trn yen (£7bn).

The Japanese conglomerate, which makes everything from flash memory drives to laptops and semiconductors, admitted it is considering selling some or all of nuclear specialist NuGeneration to keep itself afloat.

NuGen currently owns 100pc of the Moorside site, after buying 40pc back from France’s Engie for $138.5m (£111m) earlier this month.That sale followed the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing of Westinghouse, another Toshiba-owned company which is set to provide reactors for Moorside.

Asked what it would do with NuGeneration, a Toshiba spokesman said while no final decisions have been made “we would like to explore alternatives, including the sales of shares.”

He went on to explain that Toshiba is “carefully monitoring the situation in consultation with other stakeholders including the British Government.”Separately NuGeneration said it had been looking for investors prior to Westinghouse’s troubles and emphasised that the construction of Moorside was always going to be done by a third party.

But a spokesman acknowledged “there is no certainty” with regards to Westinghouse’s involvement in the development stage of the project.

Theoretically, Westinghouse’s AP1000 reactors, which have received regulatory approval, remain attached to the project but if a new investor were to come on board, it is unclear if different reactors may be proposed, potentially delaying the already behind schedule project yet further.

Samira Rudiga an energy fund manager at Guinness Asset Management, said the news was another nail in the coffin for the UK’s nuclear hopes.

“Nuclear does not make sense in the UK,” she said. “It takes 10 years to build and can take as long if not longer just to come to a decision to build a plant.”However, she expects the Government to still consider nuclear projects and thought there would be companies in Europe and Asia able to take on Toshiba’s stake in Moorside.

Greg Clark, the Business secretary, travelled to South Korea earlier this month in a bid to save the project, appealing to Korean nuclear giant Kepco to invest.

Toshiba reported a pre-tax loss of 597bn yen for the nine months to December 31, smashing through its  earlier guidance of a 390bn loss for the full financial year.

“For the reasons stated above, there are material events and conditions that raise the substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern,” Toshiba said.

At the end of 2016, the impending multi-billion-dollar write down triggered one of the worst-ever share fallsfor a major Japanese company, with ratings downgrades and investor pessimism erasing almost all of its 87pc rally so far that year. Toshiba delayed publication of its annual results twice prior to publication, and the company took the unusual step of publishing its accounts without sign-off from its auditor, PriceWaterhouseCoopers Aarata.

Toshiba said that while it had not yet fully determined the full cost of restructuring Westinghouse, its calculations suggested net income would fall by roughly 620bn yen.

April 12, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, UK | Leave a comment

Action on Climate Change has Benefited the British Economy

Climate change action is good for the economy – and Britain is the proof, Guardian, Michael Howard,10 Apr 17 When John Major set up our global warming strategy, the doom-mongers said it would ruin living standards. New research shows how wrong they were. 

Just before the Rio Earth summit 25 years ago, John Major, in whose cabinet I then served as environment secretary, made a bold prediction: reducing Britain’s carbon emissions in line with recommendations of climate science would not, he said, harm our economy: “Our initial measures … will bring a worthwhile economic payoff to the country, to business and to ordinary people.”

This was a controversial statement at a time when solar energy, for example, was a costly technology better suited to spacecraft than British rooftops. And indeed the argument can still be heard that reducing greenhouse gas emissions will ruin our economies – even that it will return us to a pre-industrial living standard.

A quarter of a century later, the approach that we took has been richly vindicated. As research published on Monday by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unitdemonstrates, in that period the average Briton has grown richer faster than citizens of any other G7 nation; at the same time, his or her carbon footprint has fallen faster than in any other G7 nation. While it would be stretching reality to argue that Britain’s economic success has been driven by its climate change policies, no one can seriously argue any more that our climate policies have generated economic harm……..

Since 1992 science has shown us ever more clearly what “dangerous” climate change looks like. Meanwhile, evidence has been growing that a transition to a low-carbon economy is economically feasible, and will bring added benefits such as cleaner air in major cities. These two factors drove all governments to conclude the Paris agreement in 2015.

Globally, carbon emissions have remained flat for the past three years, even as the world economy has grown by 7.5%. China and India are fast reversing their previous policies of building greater fleets of coal-fired power stations. Replacing our own use of coal with gas and renewable energy has brought UK carbon emissions down to a level last seen during the general strike of 1926.

Yet neither these remarkable developments nor the Paris agreement will secure a stable climate. The latest science tells us that greenhouse gas emissions need to start declining by 2020 at the latest in order to give reasonable confidence that global warming will stay well below the 2C limit, the target governments adopted in Paris. So, having halted the once unstoppable tide, the next logical step is to reverse it – and quickly. This is the mission on which a new initiative launched by Christiana Figueres, until recently the UN’s top climate official, will embark this coming week.

Figueres is to be commended for her vision. The rationale remains exactly that which the British government put forward 25 years ago: thatunchecked, climate change presents unacceptable risks for the future. Fortunately these are not risks that we have to take. Britain has proved the doom-mongers wrong: economies can thrive while emissions fall. Now let us put our collective weight behind the Figueres initiative, and finish the job.

April 10, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, climate change, UK | Leave a comment