Four global nuclear industry giants ‒ French utilities Électricité de France (EDF) and Areva, US-based Westinghouse and Japanese conglomerate Toshiba ‒ face crippling debts and possible bankruptcy because of their investments in nuclear power.
The French government is selling assets so it can prop up its heavily indebted nuclear utilities. EDF plans to sell $13.8 billion of assets to rein in its $51.8 billion debt, and to sack up to 7,000 staff. Areva has accumulated losses of over $14 billion over the past five years.
French EPR reactors under construction in France and Finland are three times over budget ‒ the combined cost overruns for the two reactors amount to about $17.5 billion. Bloomberg noted in April 2015 that Areva’s EPR export ambitions are “in tatters“, and now Areva itself is in tatters.
A government-led rescue of the nuclear power industry may cost the French state as much as $14 billion, Reuters reported in January, and in addition to its “dire financial state, Areva is beset by technical, regulatory and legal problems”.
Meanwhile, Japanese industrial giant Toshiba would like to sell indebted, US-based nuclear subsidiary Westinghouse, but there are no buyers so Toshiba must instead sell profitable assets to cover its nuclear debts and avoid bankruptcy.
One site where these problems come together is Moorside in Cumbria, UK. A Toshiba/Engie consortium was planning to build three AP1000 reactors, but Toshiba wants to sell its stake in the consortium in the wake of Westinghouse’s massive losses from AP1000 construction projects in the US.
Another site where these problems come together is Hinkley Point in the UK, where EDF has a contract to build two EPR reactors at an estimated cost (including finance) of $40 billion ($20 billion for each reactor). Industry literature is replete with references to ‘learning-by-doing’, but all EDF and Areva have learnt over the past decade is how to fuck things up ‒ in which case Hinkley Point could be the fuck-up that kills nuclear power in the UK.
The French nuclear industry is in its “worst situation ever“, former EDF director Gérard Magnin said last November. He said: “A lot of people in EDF have known for a long time the EPR has no future – too sophisticated, too expensive – but they assume their commitments and try to save the face of France… Renewable energies are becoming competitive with fossil fuels and new nuclear, such as Hinkley Point, where EDF will try to build the most expensive reactors in the world and provide electricity at an unprecedented cost.”
EDF Vice President Mark Boillot may be preparing to jump ship ‒ he recently wrote an article saying that the centralised model of power production is dying, to be replaced by local renewables supplemented by batteries and intelligent management of supply and demand.
The Carbon Commentary Newsletter said: “In most jurisdictions Mr Boillot would have been asked to clear his desk. What will EDF do about one of its most senior people openly forecasting the end of the large power station as it tries to raise the ten billion euros necessary to pay for its share of Hinkley?” …… https://newmatilda.com/2017/02/26/nuclear-power-is-in-crisis-as-cost-overruns-cripple-industry-giants/