Energy secretary says proposed new nuclear plant is ‘essential’
There is a “very good prospect” of a decision to build Britain’s first new nuclear plant finally being taken later this year, Amber Rudd, the energy secretary has said.
Despite mounting doubts about EDF’s proposed Hinkley Point power station, Ms Rudd told MPs on Tuesday she believed it was “essential” that the project go ahead.
Ms Rudd told MPs on the energy select committee: “We hope the decision will be made later on this year. We are very committed as a government to making sure that we build new nuclear and Hinkley Point will be the first of those.
“Old nuclear is coming off and I think we need as much investment as we can procure in order to support new nuclear.”
Protracted negotiations between EDF and Government over subsidies for Hinkley resulted in a headline deal in October 2013 but details are still being ironed out, while investments from Chinese nuclear partners are yet to be finalised and financial turmoil at reactor-maker Areva has caused further problems.
Ms Rudd said: “I haven’t got the scars of the past three to four years, or two and half years, as my permanent secretary may have in terms of taking forward that negotiation, but I have met the parties involved in the past 10 weeks and it looks to me like there is a very good prospect of it reaching a happy conclusion later this year.”
Image: Illustration of the proposed Hinkley Point C (EDF Energy)
EDF laid off hundreds of construction workers earlier this year as preparatory work at the Somerset site ground to a halt and Jonathan Reynolds, Labour’s shadow energy minister, wrote to Ms Rudd last month urging her to “admit the project will not proceed and inform Parliament what your alternative energy strategy will be”.
But Ms Rudd told MPs: “This is going to be the first new nuclear plant in over 20 years so it is essential to me that we succeed in it.”
A legal challenge from Austria to the EU’s state aid approval for Hinkley subsidies, while “very unwelcome”, was not expected to affect the final investment decision being taken later this year, she said.
Ms Rudd, who said value for money was her top priority in the department, rejected suggestions she was “secretly having regrets” about the subsidy terms agreed by the Coalition, which will see consumers on the hook to pay roughly double the current market price of power for 35 years.
Ms Rudd suggested the price was worth it because nuclear was reliable, unlike renewables. “We have to have secure base-load, so you should not be surprised that we are prepared to pay more for that in order to ensure nuclear is part of the mix. The requirement for nuclear is absolute,” she said.
However, future nuclear plants were expected to come in more cheaply, she said.
Finance and political will remain a problem for nuclear power, but there are opportunities in the supply chain
Undated handout artists impression issued by EDF of the how the new Hinkley Point C station will look
Despite 400 construction jobs losses at the UK’s first new nuclear build for 20 years its supporters remain confident this is the dawning of a new era for the industry in the UK. Peter McCusker reports.
There still remain a number of hurdles to overcome before the final go-ahead for construction of the UK’s first new nuclear plant since Sizewell B in Suffolk in 1995.
French state-owned business EDF Energy hoped to have signed off on the deal to build two new reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset by late last year.
But progress on the £24bn project has stalled, with EDF still to make a final investment decision – and these delays led to the redundancy of 400 of the site’s 600 construction staff earlier this month.
Difficulties over assembling the financial package and on-going concerns over the robustness of the technology lie at the heart of the delays.
However EDF, the Government and the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) remain confident the UK is at the dawning of a new nuclear era.
A spokesman for EDF told Journal Energy: “EDF Energy and the UK Government have made good progress on the work to finalise the agreements which will enable a final investment decision in the coming months for the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear power station. There has also been continuing positive progress with future investment partners in the project.”
EDF Energy has already spent hundreds of millions of pounds on extensive preparatory work and with this nearing completion 400 of the 600 on-site construction staff are being laid off.
Newcastle-born Keith Parker, chief executive of the NIA, told last month’s NOF Energy annual conference in Gateshead that will be some major opportunities in the nuclear industry for the North East supply chain in the coming years (see panel).
Speaking to Journal Energy this week he said: “A final investment decision is expected by the autumn. We understand discussions between the Government, EDF and its Chinese finance partners are going well.
Read more: The Journal
EDF Energy and the UK Government have made good progress on the work to finalise the agreements which will enable a final investment decision in the coming months for the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.
There has also been continuing positive progress with future investment partners in the project.
EDF Energy has carried out extensive work with its contract partners to make the Hinkley Point C project ready for a final investment decision. The company has invested significantly in a series of preparatory activities including site preparations (earthworks, drainage works and culvert construction, concrete production facilities and welfare facilities) and roadworks.
These works are now nearing completion. EDF Energy will complete roadworks currently in progress at Taunton Rd/Broadway in Bridgwater, the Washford Cross roundabout in West Somerset and the Cannington bypass. The next phase of work on site and in the associated developments will require a substantial increase in spending levels, and will begin as soon as the final investment decision has been made.
In the meantime work to ensure the project’s readiness will continue, including project planning, engineering design and commercial supply chain activities.
Source: Nuclear Matters
French energy group EDF has delayed an investment decision on a £16bn project to build two nuclear energy reactors in Hinkley Point, Somerset.
Last month, the firm said it expected to sign an agreement in March.
On Thursday, EDF’s chief executive said the company was in “the final phase of negotiations, but that phase can take a considerable amount of time”.
Plans to build two reactors at Hinkley Point are currently facing a potential legal challenge from Austria.
The company’s comments came as it reported net income rose by 5.2% last year to 3.7bn euros (£2.4bn), as output at its nuclear plants beat forecasts.
However, profits in the UK were down 25% due to unplanned closures at two of its stations.
The firm had to shut down its Heysham 1 station in Morecambe and its Hartlepool unit in August for boiler inspections.
Analysis: John Moylan, BBC industry correspondent
When will EDF make the decision to invest in Britain’s first new nuclear power plant in a generation?
A “final investment decision” (FID) had been expected by the end of 2014. That was delayed until the end of the first quarter 2015. Now that deadline seems unlikely.
EDF hopes to conclude talks with its proposed stakeholders – including two state-owned Chinese nuclear firms – by the end of March.
But with an election pending it’s likely a FID will be put off until May/June at the earliest. Some have speculated it could be pushed back until the autumn.
That must all raise serious questions over EDF’s plan to be generating power from Hinkley Point C by the end of 2023.
Austria, which opposes nuclear energy, has challenged the subsidy deal between the UK and EDF.
The challenge threatens to stall investment plans and been met with retaliation from UK Prime Minister David Cameron.
Chief executive Jean-Bernard Levy said talks between EDF’s partners, French nuclear group Areva and the UK government were continuing.
He said: “We are in the final phase of negotiations, but that phase can take a considerable amount of time, depending on the number of problems left to resolve.
“There is no other project on the agenda.”
EDF, 84.5%-owned by the French state, is the world’s biggest operator of nuclear plants.
Source; bbc news
Rolls-Royce, in partnership with COMEX NUCLEAIRE, has been awarded a contract to supply boron measurement systems for the entire fleet of 900MW nuclear reactors in France owned and operated by EDF Group.
Rolls-Royce boron meter technology, known as Boronline, complies with the latest French safety regulations. It provides real-time data on boron concentration levels in the reactor coolant through continuous measurement and is essential to control the reactivity of the core and ensure safe operation.
Eric Blanc, President – I&C, Rolls-Royce said: “We are delighted to be awarded this contract. We have extensive experience in nuclear I&C and invest continuously in R&D to ensure that we are able to offer our customers the latest I&C technology that meets the most stringent safety regulations.”
“Our relationship with EDF spans over forty years and we are pleased that they have once again put their trust in our world-class technologies which help to ensure the safety and performance of their reactors.”
The contract, which includes equipment feasibility and supply, on-site activities and long-term support, is scheduled to run until 2022. COMEX NUCLEAIRE will oversee mechanical design, support for licensing with French Safety Authority (ASN) and installation.
Rolls-Royce provides I&C systems and solutions to more than 200 nuclear reactors worldwide including all 58 nuclear reactors in France, through its I&C centre of excellence based in Grenoble, France.
Source: Nuclear Matters
Rolls-Royce has been awarded a contract by EDF Energy to carry out boiler modification work at Dungeness B Power Station in the UK, to support proposed plant lifetime extension to 2028.
Jonathan Brown, President – New Build & Nuclear Projects, Rolls-Royce said: “We’re very pleased to be supporting EDF Energy on this important project. Our combined technical and engineering expertise has enabled us to provide our customer with an innovative solution that will help secure a lifetime extension for Dungeness B. Our focus now is on the highest standards of quality and delivery.”
Martin Pearson, Station Director at Dungeness B said: “the station provides enough low carbon electricity to power one and a half million homes. It avoids 3.4 million tonnes of CO2 every year which is equivalent to taking 1.5 million cars off the roads. We’re a major local employer and over 550 people work for us here, with another 200 permanent contractors at the site. Rolls-Royce is trusted to deliver excellence worldwide and we’re pleased to be working with them on this significant lifetime extension project.”
The scope of work covers design, supply of parts, installation oversight and commissioning of a variety of additional diverse safety-related EC&I modifications to the boilers and will be completed during the station’s planned outages in 2017 and 2018.
Source: Nuclear Matters
EDF Energy says Dungeness B can continue operating safely well beyond its scheduled 2018 closure date
Dungeness B nuclear power station is to stay open beyond its scheduled closing date of 2018, its owner, EDF, has announced.
The ageing reactor, on the south Kent coast, had been due to decommission in 2018 but will now remain until 2028 as a result of £150m extra investment.
Work on building Dungeness B began in 1965 and it began generating electricity in 1983.
It employs 550 people plus 200 contract staff and six apprentices a year.
The plant had initially been scheduled to close in 2008, but its then operator, British Energy, extended its life by 10 years.
In 2009 the government announced that Dungeness B was not on its list of potential sites for new nuclear reactors, effectively reaffirming its closure date of 2018.
But now EDF says its additional investment of £15m a year means the plant can continue operating safely for a further 10 years.
EDF Energy chief executive Vincent de Rivaz said: “The decision to extend the life of Dungeness B is only possible because of the collaboration, innovation and technical expertise of EDF Energy and its long-term partners.
“Customers will benefit from this significant investment through many more years of reliable, low-carbon electricity.”
The present government regards nuclear energy as a safe and relatively low-cost way of securing the UK’s energy supplies well into the middle of the century and reducing reliance on carbon-based energy.
While environmental campaigners are concerned about the risks associated with nuclear-powered generators, there has been a lot of support in Kent and East Sussex for the continued operation of Dungeness B because of job security and related economic benefits.
Its director, Martin Pearson, said: “Life extension means the station will continue to provide hundreds of skilled jobs and provide a launch pad for the apprentices who will begin their careers at Dungeness B. We’ll also carry on contributing more than £40m to the local economy.”
The GMB union welcomed news of the reprieve and said that as well as safeguarding 750 jobs at the plant it would also create jobs in the engineering construction supply chain.
But the Green Party’s energy and environment spokesman, Andrew Cooper, said the decision was based on “an unacceptable lack of imagination and commonsense” by the government and said the country should be investing in energy innovation.
Neighbouring Dungeness A was decommissioned in 2006.
Source: BBC News