Hinkley Point: May told to pull the plug on nuclear project over China spying accusations THERESA MAY is being urged to quit the controversial Hinkley Point C project over Chinese spying allegations. Express By ZOIE O’BRIEN, Aug 11, 2016 A scandal has broken out in the US suggesting a Chinese man was attempting to recruit US atomic experts to steal technology secrets to help China’s nuclear power programme.
But the legal papers include the name of China General Nuclear Power (CGN), which holds a stake in the UK’s planned new nuclear power station – Hinkley Point C.
Szuhsiung Ho, a senior adviser to CGN, will appear in court next week to face charges. As a result the Prime Minister is being urged to pull the British project immediately.
May paused development last month over national security fears but now she is being told to scrap plans altogether.
Paul Dorfman, a senior research fellow at University College London, said the British prime minister does not have to offend the Chinese. He suggested she could blame poor reactor technology from France’s EDF.
He told the Guardian: “No other OECD country would let China into its critical nuclear infrastructure, given its history of nuclear weapon proliferation. May has already taken the diplomatic ‘hit’ for this, so what’s she got to lose?
“If government wanted to, it could avoid taking China to task on this by reframing the problem in the context of the failed French EPR reactor, which is three times over-cost and over-time where it’s being built in Finland and France.”
The Somerset power station has already caused huge debate with petitions and campaigns being launched to prevent its being built.
Now, spying allegations have caused huge concern in the UK. Angus MacNeil MP, the chair of the energy and climate change select committee, said there are now grave concerns about corporate integrity and must form a key part of the government’s current review of Hinkley.
He said: “I am not sure the Chinese have anything to steal from Britain in the way of nuclear secrets. That is after all why they are being brought in, but it does raise questions about how honourable the company is and whether it could cut corners on construction methods and issues like that.”……..http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/698965/Hinkley-Point-May-China-spy-fears-Somerset-project
UK must pull the plug on the exorbitant Hinkley Point nuclear power project Do we submit to blackmail or do we risk losing Chinese trade? IBT, By Michael Toner , 11 Aug 16, “…..Today we’re witnessing a folly so shambolic, so expensive, so eye-poppingly spectacular that it puts all others in the shade. It goes by the name of Hinkley Point, the proposed new nuclear power station in Somerset. And it’s the misbegotten creation of our entire political establishment, with Labour, Lib-Dem and Tory MPs all complicit.
One of the few politicians who emerges with some credit from this unfolding disaster is our new Prime Minister Theresa May, who stunned everybody when immediately on entering Downing Street she refused to rubber-stamp the deal and instead ordered a review of the whole project. As we shall see, her reasons for delaying a decision were eminently sensible.
But what howls of anguish it has provoked. The French-owned energy company EDF, which will build Hinkley Point, is appalled. President Hollande’s government makes no secret of its displeasure. And now China, which is providing billions to finance the project, is weighing in with threats of dire consequences for Britain if the deal doesn’t go ahead.
August 9, 2016……It’s time to examine how we ever came to be in this mess. And for that we must go back to the last Labour Government and an Energy Secretary named Ed Miliband. Remember him?………
, it enthused the then Energy Secretary Ed Davey of the Lib Dems, “For the first time, a nuclear power station in this country will not have been built with money from the British taxpayer. This is an excellent deal for Britain and British consumers”.
Oh dear. Let’s examine the details of Mr Davey’s “excellent” deal……
then there’s the eye-watering expense of this scheme. Hinkley Point will cost at least £18billion and will probably end up costing much more. The sums are so huge that ministers could only persuade EDF to accept such a burden by allowing it to charge sky-high prices for the electricity it produces. British consumers will end up paying for the world’s most expensive electricity for decades.
And for what? The plant won’t be built for at least another eight years, even if everything goes to plan – a big “if”, given the record so far. And if ever it eventually runs at full capacity, it would provide power only for six million homes – a pitiful return for such a huge and risky investment.
Theresa May has every right to re-examine this whole misconceived project. And given the reaction of the Chinese ambassador, wouldn’t the rest of us be equally right to re-examine the wisdom of sucking up to the bullies of Beijing? http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/uk-must-pull-plug-exorbitant-hinkley-point-nuclear-power-project-1575151
Trident plans ‘in doubt’, says government watchdog, The Ferret, Rob Edwards on August 8, 2016 The UK’s £31 billion programme to replace Trident submarines in on the skids, according to a high-level government spending watchdog.
A report by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) to the Treasury and Cabinet Office has warned that the plan to build four new nuclear weapons submarines for the Clyde is “in doubt”.
This is despite the overwhelming vote in the House of Commons last month in favour of replacing Trident. The plan was opposed by every Scottish MP, except for the lone Tory, David Mundell.
The poor assessment of the Trident programme’s prospects was buried in a report about 143 projects published online by the IPA several days before the vote at Westminster. It gave the submarine successor programme its second worst rating of “amber/red”.
This means that the project is judged to be running into serious difficulties because of cost overruns, management problems and technical issues. “Successful delivery of the project is in doubt, with major risks or issues apparent in a number of key areas,” said the IPA.
“Urgent action is needed to address these problems and/or assess whether resolution is feasible.”
According to critics, costs have already risen by between £15 and £20 billion. The planned date for bringing the submarines into service has been delayed from 2024 to the “early 2030s”……….https://theferret.scot/trident-doubt-government-watchdog/
Solar and wind ‘cheaper than new nuclear’ by the time Hinkley is built https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/11/solar-and-wind-cheaper-than-new-nuclear-by-the-time-hinkley-is-built
UK government’s own projections expect onshore wind power and large-scale solar to cost less per megawatt hour than new nuclear by 2025, Guardian, Adam Vaughan, 11 Aug 16, The government expects solar and wind power to be cheaper than new nuclear power by the time Hinkley Point C is completed, its own projections show.
Theresa May’s government last month made a surprise decision to delay a deal on Hinkley, prompting a renewed look at what alternatives could power Britain if ministers this autumn fail to back new reactors in Somerset.
An unpublished report by the energy department shows that it expects onshore wind power and large-scale solar to cost around £50-75 per megawatt hour of power generated in 2025. New nuclear is anticipated to be around £85-125/MWh, in line with the guaranteed price of £92.50/MWh that the government has offered Hinkley’s developer, EDF.
The NAO cited the forecasts as coming from the energy department in March 2016. The department said the NAO had been provided with an early draft of its report, and the full version would be published soon.
Niall Stuart, chief executive of the trade body Scottish Renewables, said: “These numbers speak for themselves: onshore wind and solar will be significantly better value than all other large scale sources of power in the UK by 2025.
“It is time to start backing the two technologies to deliver the clean power we need to hit our climate change targets and the cheap electricity required to keep bills down for consumers.”
Molly Scott Cato, a Green party MEP, said: “These latest figures confirm what many of us have been saying for years: that the Hinkley project is a dud.
“The cost of renewables is tumbling and Hinkley will become a giant white elephant as it struggles to compete with cheaper renewable options. Research has shown that solar power would be a less costly way of generating the equivalent amount of power, and now the government’s own projections show that onshore wind too will be cheaper than nuclear by the time Hinkley is built.”
Since coming to power in May 2015, the government ended onshore wind subsidies and allowed communities to veto turbines near them, as well as axing and cutting various subsidies for solar.
Government data published on Thursday showed that renewables generated 25.1% of the UK’s electricity in the first quarter of this year. Around half of that came from on and offshore wind combined.
Winds of spare change, Breaking Views, 8 August 2016 By Olaf Storbeck Theresa May should look to Denmark instead of France to secure Britain’s future energy needs. ……As things stand, the UK is proposing to guarantee French state-controlled utility EDF a minimum price of 92.50 pounds for each megawatt-hour of electricity produced at the 18-billion-pound Hinkley Point project. Back in 2013, when the deal was struck, offshore wind was almost 50 percent more pricey.
Wind technology’s costs have plummeted since then. The latest generation of wind farms on the ocean is producing electricity for less than 85 pounds per megawatt hour rather than 130 pounds, new data from state-controlled Danish utility DONG Energy shows. Bigger and more efficient turbines contribute, as well as improvements in construction and grid connection.
This progress, which is faster than even DONG expected, is undermining the economic case for Hinkley Point. Offshore wind is already 8 percent cheaper. And the gap is likely to widen, as the industry continues to be on a steep learning curve, while construction costs for nuclear plants have a notorious tendency to creep upwards.
Renewable energy’s usual issue is intermittency. But offshore wind out at sea is strong and steady, so turbines generate power 98 percent of the time. Replacing Hinkley Point’s planned capacity of 3.2 gigawatts with offshore wind would admittedly require building wind parks of twice that size – offshore turbines on average deliver only around half of their nominal capacity. But as there is no shortage in potential locations for offshore wind farms, such a large scale ramp-up is technologically possible.
Offshore wind is not just cheaper, but also less risky than Hinkley Point. Wind parks usually go on the grid within four years, compared to at least a decade for planned nuclear plants. Similar reactors in Finland and France are dogged by a tripling of costs and years of delay. And the UK taxpayer would have to pay the nuclear subsidies over 35 years, while those for wind farms usually run less than half that long.
That’s before the wind turbines’ other obvious benefit: they don’t leave toxic radioactive waste behind. If May wants to pull the plug on Hinkley Point, she has a ready-made case. https://www.breakingviews.com/considered-view/cheap-wind-energy-can-deal-final-blow-to-hinkley/
Coolant removed from Dounreay Fast Reactor, WNN 05 August 2016 A ten-year process to remove 68 tonnes of highly-radioactive liquid metal coolant from the primary circuit of the UK’s Dounreay Fast Reactor (DFR) has now been completed, marking a major milestone in its decommissioning.
Dounreay’s experimental fast breeder reactor, housed inside a steel sphere, led British nuclear R&D during the 1950s and 60s. It became the world’s first fast reactor to provide electricity to a national grid in 1962…..Dounreay Site Restoration Limited (DSRL) announced today that some 68 tonnes of the liquid metal coolant – a blend of sodium and potassium called NaK – have been removed from the primary circuit of the DFR and destroyed over a ten-year period.
Most of the NaK had been removed by 2012, since when work has been under way to remove the last of the coolant from the difficult to access pipework and base of the structure…….
DSRL said the destruction of the DFR’s liquid metal coolant has removed “one of the highest hazards remaining in the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) estate”.
NDA chief operating officer Pete Lutwyche said, “The difficulty of this task can’t be understated, and I welcome the news that this work is complete. Everyone involved should be proud of their achievement.”
The focus of decommissioning work at the DFR will now be the removal of some 1000 breeder elements that remain in the reactor vessel, DSRL said. This must be completed before cleaning and removal of the reactor and its nine kilometres of cooling pipework. http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/WR-Coolant-removed-from-Dounreay-Fast-Reactor-0508164.html
That’s not sitting well with China.
“Right now, the China-U.K. relationship is at a crucial historical juncture,” China’s ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming, wrote in an article for the Financial Times.
“I hope the U.K. will keep its door open to China and that the British government will continue to support Hinkley Point — and come to a decision as soon as possible so that the project can proceed smoothly,” he added.His warning comes at a delicate time for the U.K. economy. The Bank of England last week forecast lost growth and higher unemployment as it cut interest rates in response to the decision to leave the European Union.
Having thrown the future of its relationship with its biggest trading partner up in the air, Britain is looking to boost trade and investment ties with the rest of the world.
Liu pointed out in his article that Chinese companies have invested more in the U.K. over the past five years than in France, Germany and Italy combined. China also accounted for just over 3% of U.K. exports last year.
Under the deal announced in October, China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) would have a 33.5% stake in the power plant. France’s EDF (ECIFY) will hold the rest.
The bigger prize for China, though, is a related deal to build another nuclear power plant some 60 miles northeast of London, using its own reactor technology. It would have 66.5% of that venture.
May hasn’t given much away about her reasons for delaying the decision on Hinkley Point.
But the deal was controversial from the start, with critics warning that giving China access to vital infrastructure could compromise national security. The plan has also come under fire for guaranteeing an electricity price way above market levels……… http://money.cnn.com/2016/08/09/news/companies/china-uk-nuclear-power-plant-hinkley/
The company behind an £8bn nuclear power plant will pay £1m towards an engineering centre on Anglesey.
Horizon Nuclear Power, the firm behind Wylfa Newydd, will pay towards Grwp Llandrillo Menai’s Llangefni building…….
- Horizon will provide technical support to Coleg Menai, one of the colleges under Grwp Llandrillo Menai, and apprentices will move from the Bangor campus to Llangefni once the new centre is finished.
The Welsh Government pledged £5m to the centre in 2015.…..
- Duncan Hawthorne, Horizon’s chief executive officer, said: “I’m delighted to announce this landmark funding provision to Grwp Llandrillo Menai.
Chinese firm with military ties invited to bid for role in UK’s nuclear future,
China National Nuclear Corporation on government list of preferred bidders for development funding for next-generation modular reactors, Guardian, Adam Vaughan, 8 Aug 16, A controversial Chinese company has been selected to bid for millions of pounds of public money in a UK government competition to develop mini nuclear power stations.
The China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) features twice in a government list of 33 projects and companies deemed eligible to compete for a share in up to £250m to develop so-called small modular reactors (SMR).
The involvement of a different Chinese company in the high-profile Hinkley Point C project in Somerset was widely believed to have prompted the government’s decision to pause the deal at the 11th hour last month.
Nick Timothy, Theresa May’s co-chief of staff, has previously expressed alarm at the prospect of CNNC having such close access to the UK’s energy infrastructure because it would give the state-owned firm the potential ability to build weaknesses into computer systems.
The company was formerly China’s Ministry of Nuclear Industry and developed the country’s atomic bomb and nuclear submarines, as well as being a key player in its nuclear power industry.
“For those who believe that such an eventuality [shutting down UK energy at will] is unlikely, the Chinese National Nuclear Corporation – one of the state-owned companies involved in the plans for the British nuclear plants – says on its website that it is responsible not just for ‘increasing the value of state assets and developing the society’ but the ‘building of national defence’,” he wrote.
Tom Burke, chairman of the environment thinktank E3G and a former British government adviser, said there were legitimate concerns over the company. “I don’t fuss very much about the Chinese owning a nuclear power station [China General Nuclear in the case of Hinkley]. But I would be much more concerned about bringing in CNNC because they are known to be much more closely involved with the military and Chinese nuclear weapons programmes,” he said.
CNNC was not involved in the original Hinkley deal but it was reported on Sunday that the company has agreed in principle to buy half of China’s 33% stake in the £24bn project if it goes ahead…….. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/07/chinese-firm-with-military-ties-invited-to-bid-for-role-in-uks-nuclear-future
UK govt accidentally published list of preferred bidders for funding for Small Modular Nuclear Reactors
Chinese firm with military ties invited to bid for role in UK’s nuclear future
China National Nuclear Corporation on government list of preferred bidders for development funding for next-generation modular reactors, Guardian, Adam Vaughan, 8 Aug 16“……….The list of companies accepted for the competition was published briefly, apparently accidentally, on the website of the new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on Friday before being deleted. It reads as a who’s-who of US, British, Japanese and Chinese industry players hoping to develop and build small modular reactors. These are much smaller than conventional nuclear plants with a capacity of less than 300MW – or a 10th of what Hinkley Point C should provide.
They are pitched by industry as a cheaper and quicker way to provide low-carbon energy capacity than conventional big nuclear plants because they could be built in a factory and transported to where their power is needed. The US and UK are racing to be the most attractive home for the first of the new designs to be commissioned.
Last November, George Osbornepromised £250m over five years for a nuclear research and development programme to “revive the UK’s nuclear expertise and position the UK as a global leader in innovative nuclear technologies”. An undisclosed amount of that sum is for a competition to find the best value SMR design for the UK, to “pave the way” towards building one in the UK in the 2020s.
CNNC sits alongside US companies such as NuScale; British ones including Rolls-Royce, Sheffield Forgemasters and Tokamak Energy; Japanese-owned Westinghouse; and the US-Japanese partnership GE-Hitachi, as participants the government considers eligible for phase one of its competition.
CNNC’s chief designer of small nuclear plants visited a conference in London last year to pitch a plan for cooperating with UK industry, and is already partnering with Rolls-Royce. It hopes to build the first SMR in the UK, with future ones sold around the world.
NuScale Power put itself forward for the competition in the spring. Its design, said its managing director, Tom Mundy, “answers the particular needs of the UK’s energy market and the wider UK economy, and we intend to participate fully in the government’s competition”.
The 33 participants will be whittled down in several phases, with the announcement of the eventual winners scheduled for late 2017……
When asked about the list published on Friday, a spokeswoman for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: “In March 2016, the government launched the first phase of a competition to identify the best value SMR for the UK. The ambition is to create an opportunity for the UK to become a world leader in SMRs.
“Those companies which are eligible to participate in the competition have been aware for over two months.” https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/07/chinese-firm-with-military-ties-invited-to-bid-for-role-in-uks-nuclear-future
Documents detailing UK’s involvement in Israel’s alleged nuclear arsenal vanish, Jerusalem Post, 5 Aug 16 Israel maintains a policy of ambiguity concerning nuclear weapons, neither confirming nor denying publicly that it has the capability. The United Kingdom on Thursday said that records detailing the UK’s involvement in Israel’s alleged nuclear arsenal have gone missing over the last four years, according to London based internet publication, The Independent.
U.K. Delay on Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Plant Strains Relations With China Decision by new government to review deal comes as British vote to leave the European Union puts trade policy in question, WSJ By JENNY GROSS in London and CHUN HAN WONG in Beijing Aug. 5, 2016
New Prime Minister Theresa May’s surprise move to delay a final decision on building a nuclear plant part-funded by China has prompted questions in Beijing about the U.K.’s commitment to foreign investment and a “golden era” in ties between their capitals.
Britain announced last week it needed until the fall to review the controversial £18-billion ($23.7 billion) project, postponing a deal with China and France agreed to last year by Ms. May’s predecessorDavid Cameron to build the country’s first new nuclear plant in a generation.
Ms. May has said the U.K. will continue to seek investment from around the world, but how she proceeds in China will be closely watched as a bellwether of her government’s diplomatic and economic policy as the country navigates its exit from the European Union following a public vote in June……..
Chinese state media warned that undue delays or cancellation of the project would damage mutual trust. The delay had already spurred concern that Britain might be “thinking of erecting a wall of protectionism,” China’s official Xinhua News Agency said in an editorial this week…….
A Chinese government adviser said China will want Britain to provide a clear explanation for its actions and assurances on the directions of its China policy. He added that while the nuclear deal marked a crucial advance for Beijing, ultimately Britain needs China more than the other way around…….
Nick Timothy, Ms. May’s newly appointed joint chief of staff and a close adviser, last year wrote that the deal was “baffling” and said security experts are worried the Chinese could build weaknesses into computer systems that would allow them to shut down Britain’s energy production.
—Selina Williams in London and Inti Landauro in Paris contributed to this article.http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-k-delay-on-hinkley-point-nuclear-power-plant-strains-relations-with-china-1470402457
Nu Clear News No 87 5 Aug 16 Hinkley : A dramatic turn of events It has now been a few days since the Government shocked the energy industry by announcing a further review of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station just a few hours after EDF approved the project.
Although we may never know exactly what has gone on behind the scenes it is clear that EDF had moved its final investment decision forward from September in order to bounce the new UK Government into giving its approval quickly before mounting problems become even more obvious to everyone.
Stop Hinkley spokesperson, Roy Pumfrey said
Much of the media seems to think this is just a temporary pause and that Hinkley Point C will eventually go ahead, but if Theresa May gives this scheme just a cursory glance she will see that we are being asked to buy a pig in a poke.
According to the Financial Times (2) the head of EDF, Jean-Bernard Lévy gave his fellow board members only two days to read 2,500 pages of contracts for a deal which one investment analyst described as “verging on insanity”.
The decision to review the project has been attributed by some to security concerns about Chinese involvement in the sector expressed by Mrs May’s chief of staff, Nick Timothy. The Stop Hinkley Campaign has itself expressed concerns in the past about making nuclear deals with a country with such a poor health and safety record.
Writing on the Conservative Home website last October Timothy said the Hinkley deal could lead to the Chinese designing and constructing a third nuclear reactor at Bradwell in Essex. Security experts – reportedly inside as well as outside government – are worried that the Chinese could use their role to build weaknesses into computer systems which will allow them to shut down Britain’s energy production at will. (5) For those who believe that such an eventuality is unlikely, the Chinese National Nuclear Corporation – one of the state-owned companies involved in the plans for the British nuclear plants – says on its website that it is responsible not just for “increasing the value of state assets and developing the society” but the “building of national defence.” MI5 believes that “the intelligence services of…China…continue to work against UK interests at home and abroad.”
Mandiant, a US company that investigates computer security breaches around the world, looked into the operations of just one Chinese cyber espionage group, believed to be the Second Bureau of the People’s Liberation Army of China, or ‘Unit 61398’. Mandiant found that Unit 61398 has compromised 141 different companies in twenty major industries.
There were 115 victims in the United States and five in the UK. The intellectual property stolen included technology blueprints, manufacturing processes, test results, business plans, pricing documents, partnership agreements, and emails and contact information. Timothy said
evidence like this makes it all the more baffling that the British Government has been so welcoming to Chinese stateowned companies in sensitive sectors. The Government, however, seems intent on ignoring the evidence and presumably the advice of the security and intelligence agencies. But no amount of trade and investment should justify allowing a hostile state easy access to the country’s critical national infrastructure. Of course we should seek to trade with countries right across the world – but not when doing business comes at the expense of Britain’s own national security. http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo87.pdf
Uranium from Russia, with love, Ecologist, 4th August, 2016 Uranium mining is a dirty business that we didn’t clean up but sourced out to less demanding countries, so why isn’t this being discussed in any debate about nuclear energy asks NICK MEYNEN
One issue is security. Reciprocal sanctions between Russia and the EU are now in place for over two years. If some recent polls in the US become reality and Trump becomes the new US president, things will get worse for the EU. Trump already hinted that a grim scenario (or much worse) could play out in Latvia or Estonia, EU countries with a Russian minority of over a quarter of the whole population. How hard can the EU bite in the hand that feeds it with the gas and uranium it so desperately needs? Putin will answer: not that hard.
Another issue is the future supply risk. Any power plant envisaged today will need uranium in 40 years from now. But both Russia and Kazachstan, the two biggest uranium exporters to the EU have plans to build new nuclear power plants for themselves. Kazachstan has gone from zero to hero: in 20 years it went from no production to supplying 40% of the world’s uranium. But aside from their own future needs, and those of nearby befriended Russia, analysts fear that mismanagement is likely to lead to a collapse in exports…………http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2987988/uranium_from_russia_with_love.html
NucClear News August 2016 The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) welcomes the recently published decision of the United Nations Espoo Convention Compliance Committee, following its investigation in whether the United Kingdom is compliant with international environmental law in the case of Hinkley Point C.
The Committee found that the United Kingdom was not in compliance with the Espoo Convention. The Espoo (EIA) Convention sets out the obligations of UN member states to assess the environmental impact of certain activities at an early stage of planning. It also lays down the general obligation of States to notify and consult each other on all major projects under consideration that are likely to have a significant adverse environmental impact across boundaries. Hinkley Point C comes into consideration for such a consultation.
Complaints raised by the German MP Sylvia Kötting-Uhl and the NGO ‘Irish Friends of the Environment’ to the Espoo Convention Implementation Committee argued that the UK Government had inadequately consulted other member states of the potential environmental impacts of the Hinkley Point C project.
In its findings, the Implementation Committee concluded that the UK Government should have notified more countries than just the Republic of Ireland of the potential impacts of Hinkley Point C. It concluded on the basis of the ‘Guidance on the Practical Application of the Espoo Convention’, that “notification is necessary unless a significant adverse transboundary impact can be excluded.” http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/news/3-august-2016/
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