STOP HINKLEY PRESS RELEASE

Hinkley Point C:
A Story of Good vs Evil for the Pantomime Season

1 December 2016

Solar power is expected to be the cheapest form of energy (not just electricity) everywhere in the world by around 2030.Yet the UK Government and the French nuclear industry continue to struggle on with failed nuclear technology. Stop Hinkley says it’s a real story of good versus evil for the pantomime season.

“Good solar and renewable energy will triumph in the end. (oh yes it will!) All and sundry - from investment bankers to energy experts - keep telling the Government that for nuclear power ‘it’s behind you!’ Unfortunately, if Government doesn’t come to its senses soon, electricity consumers could be left with rather a large bill”, according to Stop Hinkley spokesperson, Roy Pumfrey.

Vincent de Rivaz, the chief executive of EDF Energy, has assured Parliament that Hinkley Point C will be built by 2025 on time and within budget (oh no it won't!). But then EDF predicted in 2008 that electricity from Hinkley Point C would cost just £45/MWh – less than half the £92.50 consumers are going to have to pay for it. And de Rivaz himself predicted in 2007 that Hinkley electricity would be cooking our turkeys by Christmas 2017 (oh no it won’t!).

At the same time, FOI requests have revealed that just one Government Department has blown over £20million of taxpayers' money (oh yes it has!) on pointless consultancy on the shockingly bad deal struck with EDF.

The French nuclear industry is in a state of chaos (oh yes it is!), and no-one is quite sure where it will end up. Last week EDF’s offices in Paris were raided by French competition authorities amid allegations that it was exploiting its position as a former state monopoly to keep rivals out of the market in France.

The day before Greenpeace filed a lawsuit against the Company, alleging that it was guilty of false accounting deliberately underestimating the cost of its nuclear reactors.

Meanwhile the problem, first discovered in 2014 at Flamanville (the reactor being built in Normandy which is the same type as the two proposed for Hinkley Point – the EPR) has escalated beyond EDF’s worst fears. The discovery that the steel used for the cap on the reactor pressure vessel had carbon levels above permitted limits led to an internal investigation at Le Creusot – the French reactor builder, Areva’s metal forge. This in turn led to the discovery of yet more anomalies. Areva is now reported to be reviewing all 9,000 manufacturing records at the forge dating back as far as 1943, including files from more than 6,000 nuclear components. It has also been discovered that some components forged in Japan by JCFC, a subcontractor for Areva have the same problem.

As a result, 12 of France's 58 nuclear reactors have been shut-down, but potentially more than half of them could be affected by the “carbon segregation” problem. Excessive levels of carbon in steel could make safety critical components more brittle and subject to sudden fracture or tearing under sustained high pressure, which is obviously unacceptable in a nuclear reactor.

In addition, some quality control reports about these safety critical components have been falsified or are incomplete.

From Hinkley Point’s perspective, the main impact of all this will be on the financial viability of EDF. It has already been forced to reduce its 2016 generation targets and lower estimates for nuclear output in 2017. The Company already faces a seemingly impossible financial equation. It has a colossal debt of €37 billion; it must deal with the complex €2.5 billion takeover of Areva; and it has to find the money to extend the life of its 58 reactors at an estimated cost of between €60 and €100 billion by 2030.

Added to these woes, EDF has been accused by Greenpeace France of failing to disclose the true cost of running its fleet of reactors in France while financing two new ones in the UK. If it disclosed the true figures, the Company would be declared bankrupt. Greenpeace commissioned an audit by AlphaValue, the equity research company. The report said that EDF would need to find a further €165 billion during the next decade to finance projects such as Hinkley Point and to fix its ailing reactors in France.

Stop Hinkley spokesperson Roy Pumfrey said: “It seems that the French nuclear fleet is getting very close to its sell-by date and it has deficient safety-critical components spread throughout. At the same time, the finances of EDF are in such a deplorable state that the company could soon be joining Areva in bankruptcy. The idea that we should pay £92.50 per MWh to these pantomime villains to build two of its failed reactors in Somerset is completely crazy.”

Meanwhile, as researchers at global investment banks discuss the possibility that paying for energy could soon become a thing of the past, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the future is renewable. Cheap solar panels and advances in storage technology are about to transform the world. By 2030 or 2040 solar will be the cheapest way to generate electricity, indeed any form of energy EVERYWHERE. At the rate of growth that we are seeing at the moment of 35-45% per year solar will grow from providing 2% of global electricity to at least 50% by 2030. We can see the cost of batteries coming down in price dramatically. Turning surplus solar electricity generating during the summer into something we can put into natural gas networks is what we should be looking at in the UK. Generating hydrogen from water and, using microbes, combining it with carbon dioxide to form methane is the simplest way to do this.

Swedish utility Vattenfall has agreed to build a giant offshore wind farm in Denmark that would sell power for €49.50 per MWh. Vattenfall has broken its own previous record of €60 per MWh. Once the cost of transmission is included this works out at around £75.50/MWh compared with £100.50/MWh for Hinkley Point C (once inflation has been added to the £92.50 at 2012 prices).

“The Government knows that solar and wind will be cheaper by the time Hinkley is generating” says Roy Pumfrey. “It is blindingly obvious that solar and wind will win through in the end, but if the Government doesn’t come to its senses soon electricity consumers will be paying EDF through their noses for nuclear electricity we don’t need.”

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STOP HINKLEY PRESS RELEASE

Stop Hinkley calls for all work at Hinkley Point C to be suspended

5 Jan 2017

Stop Hinkley is calling on EDF Energy to stop all work on Hinkley Point C at least until the French nuclear industry gets a clean bill of health from the French regulator and we know the outcome of the ongoing investigation into the use of poor quality steel at the reactor being built at Flamanville.

This is the same type as the ones proposed for Hinkley Point C.

The French nuclear regulator – ASN – has been investigating two aspects of a growing nuclear scandal in France. Firstly, some steel components made at Areva’s Le Creusot factory for nuclear reactors in France and elsewhere, had excessive carbon levels which could make them vulnerable to cracking. Secondly, there is evidence that some of the quality-assurance documentation may have been falsified. Although all French nuclear reactors which were temporarily closed as a result have now re-started, the Financial Times reports that ASN now wants to dig further into several issues before they are willing to give a clean bill of health to the French nuclear industry.

In addition, the results of an investigation by EDF at Flamanville will be delivered to the ASN in the coming weeks. The regulator will then analyse the findings and issue a report in the first half of this year. Any significant problems with the reactor vessel could be catastrophic for EDF, however, as redoing this important piece of the plant would mean restarting much of the construction work, which is already billions of euros over budget and several years late.

Stop Hinkley spokesperson Roy Pumfrey said: “If a company building a footbridge was accused of manufacturing poor quality steel and of falsifying quality assurance documents, they would be thrown off the job, at least until they were exonerated. And yet EDF Energy continues to make preparations to build something potentially much more dangerous than a footbridge which has been manufactured by a company accused of these very safety lapses”.

In December it was reported that the French company – Engie – would like to abandon its 40% share of new reactors planned for Moorside near Sellafield in Cumbria and shift its focus to renewable energies. And nuclear power has turned into a financial quagmire for the other Moorside partner - Toshiba. Shares in the Japanese company plunged at the end of December wiping 40% off its value after an announcement that it may have to write down billions due to its acquisition of Westinghouse Electric which is struggling with 4 new reactors in the US which are late and over-budget. Meanwhile the cost of solar and wind continues to fall. The World Economic Forum reports that solar and wind are now the same price or cheaper than new fossil fuel capacity in more than 30 countries. As prices for solar and wind power continue their precipitous fall, two-thirds of all nations will reach the point known as “grid parity” within a few years, even without subsidies.

Pumfrey continued: “The writing is on the wall for Hinkley Point C; the sooner EDF Energy gives up, the sooner Somerset can move forward and join the rest of the world developing an energy strategy for tomorrow, and stop looking backwards to failed technology well past its sell-by date.”

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Page Updated 05-Jan-2017

01 Nov 2016: Nuclear Futures:
Our nuclear power stations are being pushed to run well past their planned life-span. Matthew Hill of BBC Radio 4 asks if this is putting us all in danger. More >>>

Hinkley Point C –
A Tale of Nuclear Dreams!

Some dreams come true; others turn to disaster and turn into nightmares. Hinkley Point C nuclear power station has been a dream to many politicians, is it about to come true?
More >>>

What will be the total cost of nuclear waste?
We won't know until the final bill has been totted up in thousands of years. EdF won't take on that liability. EdF and the UK government are planning to dump it onto future generations.

 

 

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