Australian news, and some related international items

UK Tories getting nervous about nuclear power plans?

Conservative Home, Sanjay Sen 7 Dec 22

Fears that Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement would see Sizewell C cancelled proved unfounded. The 3.3 giga-watt nuclear mega-project is now set to get under way on the Suffolk coast with a price tag of £20 billion.

Or maybe £30 billion. If the track record of its French design is anything to go by, things might not go exactly to plan.

Nick Clegg
 famously dismissed nuclear power because it takes a decade to come on-line. That was a decade ago, and we could really do with some extra power right now.

today’s Government has big ambitions: eight sign-offs by 2030 with nuclear supplying 25 per cent of our power by 2050. As long as no-one gets cold feet and cancels all that.

Net Zero enthusiasts and climate sceptics alike see a major role for nuclear. But is Sizewell C best way to deliver it? How did we get where we are now? And what can we learn from our French neighbours, the world’s biggest nuclear enthusiasts?

………… Meanwhile, our current nuclear fleet is fast depleting. Despite generous life extensions, all but one of the UK’s nine remaining reactors will be retired by 2030. That means Sizewell C will mostly be plugging the gap left behind, not creating extra capacity. To compound matters, our ability to import electricity could be impacted by the challenges facing the French nuclear industry.

Is Sizewell C our best option – or was it our only option?

Sizewell C is a tweaked version of Hinkley Point C which is (still) under construction. Whilst its third-generation EPR technology is intended to deliver improved efficiency and safety, it hasn’t exactly performed flawlessly to date. Operational plants at Olkiluoto (Finland) and Taishan 1 and 2 (China) have proven problematic so far. Those under construction, Flamanville 3 (France) and our very own Hinkley, continue to incur delays and cost over-runs.

Whilst engineers will recognise the technology, much differs below the surface. Hinkley is 80 per cent French (EDF) and 20 per cent Chinese (CGN). But with EDF financially constrained and relations now strained with Beijing, Sizewell ownership will be 20 per cent EDF, 20 per cent UK Government, with the remainder from infrastructure investors and pension funds.

Contracts for Difference
 have also been ditched. Not only blamed for Hinkley’s giant cost, they are also held responsible for scaring off other would-be nuclear investors: Hitachi Wylfa (North Wales) and Toshiba Moorside (Cumbria). Instead, Sizewell will use the Regulated Asset Base model which shares costs (and risks) with consumers from day one………………………….


December 9, 2022 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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