Hinkley gets one answer but more questions

29 July 2016

Hinkley Point C finally received a positive final investment decision from the EDF board last night, only for the UK government to postpone signing its supporting agreements. Prime Minister Theresa May's new cabinet wants to review the deal and decide in early autumn whether to commit its support.

Ten years after nuclear power was put 'back on the agenda' by former prime minister Tony Blair the first new nuclear power project is ready for the final decision to go ahead. Hinkley Point C would feature two Areva-designed EPRs at 1650 MWe each, expected to operate for 60 years and to benefit from ratepayer-backed guaranteed price for electricity for the first 35 years. However, the project is controversial due to the published capital cost of £18 billion ($23.6 billion) which must be laid out before the plant receives the fixed price for electricity generated of £92.50 per MWh, well above the current market price. More than £2 billion has already been spent on site preparation.

British industry and government leaders were preparing to assemble at the Hinkley site as the EDF board announced its decision at 7pm last night. The plan was for a ceremony the following morning at which the government and EDF would formally sign documents to confirm the Contract for Difference subsidy. All this was suddenly scrapped after business and energy secretary Greg Clark wrote in an email, "The UK needs a reliable and secure energy supply and the government believes that nuclear energy is an important part of the mix. The government will now consider carefully all the component parts of this project and make its decision in the early autumn."

Reactions to Hinkley Point C developments

29 July 2016

Hinkley Point C has dominated news in the UK due to EDF's final investment decision and the government's surprise move to review the deal. Here, we gather some reactions from industry and academics.

Detectors confirm most fuel remains in unit 2 vessel

29 July 2016

Most of the fuel that melted in unit 2 of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan remains within the reactor pressure vessel, an examination using a muon detection system indicates.

Japanese institute sees 19 reactor restarts by March 2018

28 July 2016

Seven Japanese nuclear power reactors are likely to be in operation by the end of next March and 12 more one year later, according to an estimate by the country's Institute of Energy Economics. Judicial rulings and local consents will influence the rate of restart, it notes.

Enel closes first phase of Slovakian sale

29 July 2016

Italian utility Enel yesterday closed the first phase of the process to dispose of its 66% stake in Slovak nuclear power producer Slovenské Elektrárne: the sale of its 50% stake in Slovak Power Holding BV to EP Slovakia BV.

Decommissioning milestone at German reactor

28 July 2016

Obrigheim RPV lid section - 48Dismantling of the reactor pressure vessel of the Obrigheim nuclear power plant in Germany has been completed, plant owner EnBW announced yesterday. The plant shut down in 2005 after 36 years of operation and has been in the process of demolition since 2008.

Westinghouse reactors for Kovvada

28 July 2016

The Indian government is working with Westinghouse to develop a project proposal for the construction of a nuclear power plant at Kovvada, atomic energy minister Jitendra Singh has informed the country's parliament.

South Australia's green dream, or its nightmare?

South Australia is being watched closely by both energy companies and renewable energy specialists worldwide as a test case for what happens when high levels of intermittent energy, such as wind and solar, are introduced into a system that is not fully covered by other sources of readily available (dispatchable) power, writes Ian Hore-Lacy.

Recent performance in South Australia - where wholesale power prices have spiked dramatically, household electricity costs are the highest in the nation, and industry is threatening to quit - provides a good reality check. Early in July, electricity prices in South Australia have soared as it struggles with the consequences of an ambitious build of wind farms without firm power backup. 

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