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Updates on UK Nuclear New Build

Chinese firms are interested in partnering with Areva and Westinghouse. Business support for new nuclear reactors is strong, but the government’s hands off policies are unlikely to help get plants built without help raising capital says a committee in parliament. The committee also was critical of the government’s lack of investment in nuclear energy R&D.

Areva And Westinghouse Remain Quiet On Horizon Rumors

chinese-dragon-mosaic22 Jun (NucNet): Westinghouse and Areva have both said they will not comment on press reports that they have each teamed up with a Chinese company to bid for the British nuclear power venture Horizon Nuclear Power.

Press reports in the UK said Areva and Westinghouse, which make competing designs of reactor, are thought to have each secured the backing of a Chinese state company.

The reports said French firm Areva has submitted a bid for Horizon with China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Company.

They also said Westinghouse, owned by Japan’s Toshiba, has submitted a bid with China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation, with which it has a partnership to build plants in China.

Reuters, quoting “industry sources in China”, reported that the two Chinese companies would be teaming up with each other to bid for Horizon. Reuters said it was not immediately clear if the Chinese consortium would bid separately or join forces with either Areva or Westinghouse.

E.ON and RWE Npower said in March they would be seeking a new owner for Horizon Nuclear Power, a 50-50 joint venture established in 2009 that was working on plans to build nuclear plants at Wylfa on the island of Anglesey and at Oldbury-on-Severn in Gloucestershire.

In May, UK energy minister Charles Hendry said any potential buyer for Horizon is likely to be a consortium and could be based either inside or outside the European Union.

He told the energy and climate change committee that a buyer would probably emerge from the private sector, but that the government does not have any objections to the involvement of sovereign wealth funds.

UK Report Makes Case For New Nuclear Program

27 Jun (NucNet): The Fukushima-Daiichi accident in Japan has had little impact on business leaders’ enthusiasm for new nuclear plants with more than 80 percent in favor of a new nuclear program in the UK, a report shows.

The Institute of Directors (IOD) report, which includes a survey of 1,117 members, shows that 84 percent are in favor of new nuclear in the UK.

In February 2010, 13 months before the Fukushima-Daiichi accident, a similar survey of 1,798 IOD members found that 85 percent thought that new nuclear power plants should be built in the UK. These results show that the Fukushima accident has had little impact on members’ enthusiasm for new nuclear, the IOD said.

The report, called ‘Britain’s Nuclear Future’, makes the case for nuclear energy as “a clean, cheap and safe” way to meet the country’s energy needs.

IOD calculations, averaging out the findings of a number of studies, show that life-cycle CO2 emissions from nuclear are around 50 tonnes per gigawatt hour compared with nearly 500 tonnes from gas and more than 900 tonnes from coal.

The report says when costs are averaged out over a lifetime, nuclear is also relatively cheap.

For a 2017 project start, including the impact of a rising carbon price, levelised costs are projected to be around £70 ($109, 87 euro) per megawatt hour for nuclear, £95/MWh for gas, £130/MWh for coal, £145/MWh for onshore wind and £180/MWh for offshore wind.

The report says that according to estimates from the European Commission and the Paul Scherrer Institute, nuclear is the safest electricity generation technology, with a death rate of 0 to 0.2 per gigawatt year of electricity generated, compared with 0.2 per gigawatt year for wind, 0.1 to 0.4 for gas, 0 to 0.8 for hydro, 1.4 for peat and biomass, 2.2 for lignite, 2.8 for coal and 4.1 for oil.

The report says: “It is now clear that concern over the effects on health of the accident at Fukushima-Daiichi have been overestimated. There has been no serious casualty from the radiation and none is expected in the future.”

The report also says rules based on radiation exposure levels are too restrictive and “new tolerance of more realistic radiation exposure levels would bring large cost savings to any nuclear program, without compromising people’s safety”.

The report says the UK needs to replace nuclear reactors that are coming to the end of their lives in order to “fill the large energy gap that gas and renewables may not be sufficient to fill”.

The biggest hurdle to a program of new nuclear power plants in the UK is finance and several measures should be taken to ease the obstacles for investors in new nuclear.

“A long-term government-backed financial indemnity would have a major impact on lowering the cost of capital which today is the most important input cost to nuclear power”, the report says.

UK Has Been ‘Extraordinarily Complacent’ About Nuclear Industry

25 Jun (NucNet): The UK government has been “extraordinarily complacent” about the future of the nuclear industry and the country’s international partners view its lack of investment in the field with “disbelief”, a member of the House of Lords (the upper house of parliament) has said.

Lord Krebs, chairman of the House of Lords’ science and technology committee, said during a debate last week on a committee reportpublished in November 2011 that the government “did not have a credible plan” for the nuclear industry.

Lord Krebs said: “Remarkably, in our inquiry, the government did not even recognize the problem that they face. They presented an extraordinarily complacent view about the future.”

He told the Lords that the 2011 report found that the UK industry will “find it difficult” to capitalize on the estimated £1.7 trillion ($2.6 trillion, 2.1 trillion euro) global market for nuclear technologies in the years ahead. Since the 1980s, the nuclear R&D workforce in the UK has declined from about 8,000 to under 2,000, counting both public and private sectors.

He said from the figures the committee had available, up to 2009, the UK’s investment in nuclear R&D was lower than countries such as Australia, which has no nuclear energy program, half that of the Netherlands and Norway, and one-100th of that of France.

The Lords was told that the global nuclear fission market is worth about £600 billion for new nuclear build and £250 billion for decommissioning, waste treatment and disposal over the next 20 years, with “considerable opportunities” for UK businesses.

A central recommendation in the committee’s report was that the government needs a nuclear energy strategy and, to underpin this, an R&D roadmap as well as a body to make sure that the roadmap is developed and implemented.

The government has since said it accepts the committee’s view that more should be done to coordinate nuclear R&D in the UK. The government has also agreed to establish an advisory board to provide assistance, knowledge and expertise on nuclear R&D.

Lord Krebs said the government had “taken on board our serious concerns about the lack of long-term planning for the UK’s nuclear energy future”.

Nuclear energy currently supplies about 16 percent – or 12 gigawatts – of the UK’s electricity, which is down from 25 percent 15 years ago. Lord Krebs said nine of the current fleet of 10 nuclear power plants are due to close down in the next 13 years, by 2025.

The government has now announced it plans to build a new fleet of nuclear power plants to replace those that are going out of commission. Lord Krebs said the aim is to build up to 16 gigawatts of power by 2025.

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