Hinkley Point: French government ‘completely committed’ to plant

 

Emmanuel Macron
Image: Emmanuel Macron said he was hopeful something could be signed this week

The French government is “completely committed” to constructing the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant, the French economy minister has told the BBC.

Emmanuel Macron told the Andrew Marr Show the £18bn project in Somerset was “very important” for France and EDF, which is 85% owned by the French state.

Mr Macron said work still needed to be finalised but he hoped something would be signed with UK officials this week.

Greenpeace said alternatives to Hinkley Point were “increasingly attractive”.

EDF has yet to outline how it will fund the project.

In October last year, it agreed a deal under which China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) would pay a third of the cost of the project, in exchange for a 33.5% stake.

But EDF has been struggling to find the cash for its remaining 66.5% stake and the cost of the Hinkley Point project now exceeds EDF’s market value.

 

The company’s financial director resigned over the cost in March and last week the French Energy Minister Ségolène Royale said it should be delayed.

But Mr Macron told the BBC: “We back Hinkley Point project, it’s very important for France, it’s very important for the nuclear sector and EDF.

“Now we have to finalise the work, and especially the technical and industrial work, very closely with EDF, with the British government, to be in a situation to sign in the coming week or more.”

Asked whether he thought the deal would go ahead, Mr Macron added: “That’s my view, and that’s our perspective, because I think it’s very important for our commitment to nuclear energy.”

Artist's impression of Hinkley Point C plant
Image: The new plant is planned to be built next to two existing facilities

John Sauven, director of environmental pressure group Greenpeace, said: “The French economy minister Emmanuel Macron says one thing to a UK audience and another to the French.

“He has made it abundantly clear in French that no decision has been made.

“The reasons are clear: the costs are rising, the problems are mounting, and the opposition in France is growing.

“The alternatives are looking increasingly attractive no matter which language you speak.”

UK Energy Secretary Amber Rudd said: “Hinkley Point will power nearly six million homes, boosting our long-term energy security and create over 25,000 jobs, meaning financial security for working people and their families.”

Source: BBC News

Remote Cutting and Welding for ITER

Representatives from ITER, F4E (the European ITER agency), Assystem UK and AMEC Foster Wheeler came to Culham to see a fully remote deployment of prototype remote pipe cutting and welding tooling developed by RACE.

RACE

An 18-month development programme to prototype remote handling tooling for the next-step ITER fusion device was demonstrated at Culham’s RACE (Remote Applications in Challenging Environments) facility last week.

Representatives from ITER, F4E (the European ITER agency), Assystem UK and Amec Foster Wheeler came to Culham to see a fully remote deployment of prototype remote pipe cutting and welding tooling developed by RACE.

Under an F4E/EPSRC-funded grant, RACE and CCFE’s Engineering Implementation Department has produced a set of prototype tools intended for eventual use maintaining the neutral beam heating systems at ITER. Remote cutting and welding of process piping to the required codes, and under the challenging conditions of the ITER tokamak, has not been demonstrated before, and is one of the higher risk areas across the ITER remote maintenance strategy.

The work carried out under this grant paves the way for RACE to take a leading role in the continued development of technologies that are a crucial contribution to the success of ITER and subsequent fusion reactors such as the DEMO power plant.

Following the demonstration, the visitors went to see the RACE facility under construction. Here they were given a tour of the site by RACE Director Rob Buckingham and Building Project Manager Richard Brown. The visitors (pictured right on the new building’s roof) were impressed with the progress of the new building and its potential to host future remote handling projects.

Source: RACE

More takeovers predicted in the energy sector this year

Image: Thinkstock

(Image: Thinkstock)

There will be an increase of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) across all energy sectors in 2016.

That’s according to a survey by KPMG which revealed 71% out of 174,000 energy executives said they have plans to start two or more M&A transactions.

Around 53% of them estimated deals under $250 million (£175m) and 28% are considering deals between $250 million and $999 million (£699.3m).

According to the survey, the US is the most attractive destination for M&A activity, with 87% planning to invest in the country followed by Canada and China.

Despite activity heating up the valuation disparity between buyers and sellers, coupled with the general economic environment and regulatory uncertainty will present the greatest challenges to these deals, the survey added.

Amid a weak economy and an industry inundated by organic growth challenges, consolidation of core businesses and the persistence of low commodity prices are seen as the biggest factors driving M&A activity.

Read the full article by clicking here 

Source: Energy Live News

EDF Energy completes ‘dry fuel store’ at Sizewell B

EDF Energy has inaugurated a new ‘dry store’ for used nuclear fuel that enables continued operation of the Sizewell B nuclear power plant until at least 2035. The plant, which is in Suffolk, accounts for 3% of the UK’s total electricity demand.

Sizewell Dry Fuel Store - 460 (EDF Energy)

Inside the new dry fuel store at Sizewell (Image: EDF Energy)

A dry fuel store is a method of storing used nuclear fuel that has already been cooled in the used fuel pond. The fuel is loaded into a metal canister which is then welded shut, and then placed within a large, leak-tight steel and concrete cask. The development at Sizewell B marks a UK first for Holtec International’s Dry Fuel Storage technology, which is used across the USA and Europe.

With testing now complete the dry fuel store is being prepared to take its first delivery of used fuel. In parallel the final stage of the approvals process is being completed for submission to the Office for Nuclear Regulation, EDF said on 31 March. The dry fuel store will safely house used fuel from Sizewell B from Autumn 2016 onwards until a geological disposal facility is available for the longer term storage of used fuel, it added.

Inaugurating the facility with Holtec president and CEO Kris Singh and Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey, EDF Energy CEO Vincent de Rivaz said: “We are continuing to make investments to safely improve the performance of our nuclear power stations and to allow them to operate longer.”

EDF Energy, which operates eight nuclear power plants, announced last month it planned to extend the expected closure dates of Heysham 1, Heysham 2 and Hartlepool – all in England – and Torness in Scotland.

“As well as investing in our existing stations we are also advancing our plans for the next generation of nuclear power stations in Britain, including here at Sizewell. We are confident that we will be moving ahead soon and launching our project for two reactors at Hinkley Point C in Somerset which will pave the way for the next stage of consultation for Sizewell C.”

The planned Hinkley Point C plant – the first new nuclear power plant built in the UK in almost 20 years – is scheduled to begin operating in 2025. Together, the two EPR reactors at Hinkley will provide about 7% of the UK’s electricity. Under a deal agreed last October, China General Nuclear will take a 33.5% stake in EDF Energy’s £18 billion ($28 billion) project to construct the plant. In addition, the two companies will develop projects to build new plants at Sizewell and also at Bradwell, in Essex, the latter using Chinese reactor technology.

Last year Sizewell B achieved a UK nuclear industry record for any one plant, delivering 10.5 TWh of electricity – enough to power 2.6 million homes for a year, EDF Energy said.

In March 2014, the plant’s new off-site Emergency Response Centre became fully operational, which the company said was a key milestone in its £180 million investment at its nuclear power plants.

Under the current arrangements, all the used fuel from Sizewell B’s reactor since it began producing low-carbon electricity in 1995 is safely stored under water in a fuel storage pond which was never designed for the lifetime of the plant. The fuel storage pond takes fuel from the reactor core and this used fuel is both hot and highly radioactive. The water in the pond both cools the fuel and forms a highly effective radiation barrier between the used fuel and its surrounding environment.

Planning permission for the dry fuel store was granted in July 2011, but a number of planning conditions had to be met before work could begin. Suffolk Coastal District Council’s Planning Committee gave the final go-ahead for the facility in September 2012.

Source: World Nuclear News

British firms extend cooperation with China

Amec Foster Wheeler has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with China Nuclear Engineering and Construction Corporation (CNECC) on cooperation in nuclear energy. Meanwhile, Rolls-Royce has signed contracts with China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) covering technical training.

Amec Foster Wheeler-CNEC - April 2016 - 460 (Amec Foster Wheeler)

Armand Kirk, strategic development director of Amec Foster Wheeler’s clean energy business, signs the MOU with CNECC director general Deng Xiaoliang (Image: Amec Foster Wheeler)

The two agreements were signed in Beijing yesterday as part of a nuclear trade mission organized by UK Trade & Investment and the China-Britain Business Council.

Amec Foster Wheeler said it had signed a “wide-ranging agreement” with nuclear power plant constructor CNECC covering potential collaboration in the nuclear industry. The two companies “have committed themselves to work together to develop opportunities in nuclear power development, construction, operation and decommissioning projects globally”, it said.

According to Amec Foster Wheeler, the two companies will also “identify specialist knowledge that can contribute towards reactor outage management, operation, ageing management, [operating period] extension and upgrading of existing units”. The scope of the agreement also covers training, waste management and decommissioning, it said.

Amec Foster Wheeler anticipates that, through the agreement, CNECC will make use of its new £2 million ($3 million) High-Temperature Facility (HTF). This facility will carry out testing and research on materials capable of withstanding temperatures of up to 1000°C.

CNECC is currently building a demonstration high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTR) in China. Work began on two demonstration HTR-PM units at China Huaneng Group’s Shidaowan site in December 2012. China Huaneng is the lead organization in the consortium to build the demonstration units together with CNECC and Tsinghua University’s Institute of Nuclear and New Energy Technology (INET), which is the research and development leader. Chinergy, a joint venture of Tsinghua and CNECC, is the main contractor for the nuclear island. The demonstration plant’s twin HTR-PM units will drive a single 210 MWe turbine. It is expected to begin operating around 2017.

“High-temperature reactors have great potential to provide safe, clean and sustainable energy for the future,” commented Tom Jones, vice-president of Amec Foster Wheeler’s clean energy business. “We hope that our collaboration with CNECC will help the UK and China to realise the potential benefits of this tremendously important technology.”

The British company noted, “It is the first time CNECC has agreed to collaborate with a global engineering consultancy on the deployment of high-temperature reactors in the UK and internationally”.

Amec Foster Wheeler also announced it has expanded its agreement with CNECC subsidiary China Nuclear Power Operation Technology Corporation “to pursue nuclear power plant cable ageing management opportunities in Canada and Europe”.

Rolls-Royce contracts

Rolls-Royce, meanwhile, announced the signing of contracts with CNNC “agreeing specific engineering and consultancy services” to be provided by the British company.

The contracts cover technical training packages, including the utilization of CNNC non-destructive testing experts to support Rolls-Royce in the UK, the company said. “We are very pleased to sign these contracts with CNNC today,” said the president of Rolls-Royce’s nuclear business Harry Holt. “It demonstrates the progress that both companies have made towards the development of a trusted and robust partnership that can benefit the UK and China nuclear industries.”

Rolls-Royce has supplied CNNC with safety-critical instrumentation and control (I&C) technology for over 20 years. It supplied some of the I&C systems for the Qinshan and Daya Bay nuclear power plants.

The two companies signed an initial agreement in June 2014 to explore areas to work more closely together.

Source: World Nuclear News

Sellafield: a new chapter

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and Sellafield Ltd will start to write a new chapter in the history of the Sellafield site from today.

New arrangements see Sellafield Ltd, the organisation responsible for cleaning up the Sellafield nuclear site, becoming a subsidiary of the NDA, which is the public body responsible for the safe and efficient clean-up of the UK’s nuclear legacy.

The new subsidiary model will help Sellafield Ltd to build on, and accelerate progress in hazard and risk reduction and decommissioning and deliver it more efficiently. It will replace the Parent Body Organisation model, which from 2008 has seen Sellafield Ltd owned by private sector Nuclear Management Partners (NMP).

John Clarke, NDA CEO, said:

This is a new chapter for Sellafield. Without a commercially driven contract, the NDA and Sellafield Ltd will be working to exactly the same goal, safely delivering the mission as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Much progress has been made under the old arrangements but in the long term they are not suited to a site like Sellafield. The work that needs to be done at Sellafield is very complex, often difficult to define and spans many years. The new arrangements will accommodate the challenges at the site more easily and allow for longer term planning. The private sector will still be heavily involved in delivering work at Sellafield but no longer as an owner.

I would like to thank NMP for its support during this period of transition. With its cooperation, we have been able to develop the new arrangements and secure an excellent Sellafield Ltd executive team well in advance of today’s official change in ownership.

Paul Foster, Sellafield Ltd CEO said:

Model change is just the start of change at Sellafield. The business will fundamentally change when reprocessing at the site ends in 2020, which gives us a defined window of opportunity to evolve so we are best equipped to deliver our mission successfully. Underpinning the changes we’re making is a drive for greater efficiency. We need to make it easier to get work done.

The Sellafield Ltd workforce, supported by the supply chain, has delivered some fantastic achievements over the last eight years; including most recently removing the last bulk stocks of historic nuclear fuel from one of the site’s oldest storage ponds.

Working closely with the NDA, we will use these new simpler arrangements to build on the past and shape a successful future for the site, its workforce, supply chain and communities.

Source: Sellafield