Tuesday 9 November 2010

An Invitation to Write Your Own Cheque

We have highlighted before the propensity of the Coalition to swallow the special pleading of the subsidy-wallahs of the energy industry: but it’s getting beyond a joke. The Telegraph – clearly the lobbyists’ vehicle of choice - has reported energy minister Charles Hendry as saying

“... that two more incentives would be needed for nuclear beyond the Government's plans for a ‘carbon floor price’ [which] will artificially raise the cost of carbon allowances to penalise fossil fuel generators and reward low-carbon power”

But there’s more.

“on top of this reform [sic], he is ‘very much’ in favour of capacity payments for low-carbon electricity generation – an option championed by EDF. This would reward companies for making their electricity generation capacity available to the grid, even if it is just as a back-up.”

And he’s not done yet.

“Mr Hendry acknowledged that this would still not be enough to persuade [hah !] nuclear companies to build their plants in the UK. ‘There will still need to be an additional third mechanism,’ he said, adding that an obligation on suppliers to provide a certain proportion of low-carbon power or contracts-for-difference in the electricity market are two key options under consideration.”

And the Telegraph concludes with this statement of the bleedin’ obvious:

“The reforms are a sign that the Government has been listening closely to industry concerns [no shit !] EDF is planning to build Britain's first nuclear power station by 2018, but its chief executive, Vincent de Rivaz, has long been pushing for market reform to ensure that the £20bn investment is affordable.”

Market reform ?! Affordable ! The man is being invited to write his own cheque ! This may yet push me to become a swear-blogger ...



Jan said...

I can't believe there is any case for nuclear, leaving aside all financial arguments one way or the other; the waste is the problem and always will be.

Old BE said...

May I introduce you to Eyes Nuclear? We are planning to build a series of nuclear plants which will be able to supply 100% of Britain's base load resulting in a huge drop in carbon emissions.

We have an excellent safety record, never having had an accident of any sort in any of our existing plants.

Now show me the money.

Philipa said...

I'm with 'Jan' and say no to nuclear power.

Off topic: messasge to BQ - Bill, the item you enqired about on my blog has now been posted. Sorry it took so long and the file names are all mixed up but it's here. There's a rash of new posts I hope you get a chance to browse through.

Budgie said...

Nuclear power generation of electricity is by far the most reliable and dependable. It is clean, cheap and will last for hundreds of years.

Windmills are hugely expensive in comparison as well as unreliable with bigger subsidies than nuclear. Coal is dirty. And gas won't last as long. Only coal is similarly as strategically independent of foreign interference. Only gas is cheaper.

Labour was dogmatically opposed to nuclear and got us in this mess because of it. Opposition to nuclear is the dying squawk of the irrational and the right-on sandals brigade. Nuclear is the only large scale sensible option we have.

rwendland said...

ND, did you catch Peggy Hollinger over at the FT saying that the French are mulling over the idea of marketing the Chinese CPR1000? The CPR1000 is a development of the old French 900MWe pre-EPR reactor - simpler and more economic, just hope those nearby planes in the sky stay up there.

This is the second time Peggy has said this, but last time she said Areva was toying with the idea for developing nations market. This time she says EDF are considering it - death knell to Areva if they do.

She also says GDF Suez is now talking about selling non-Areva reactors abroad: "models from the US, Japan and even South Korea".

Wonder if the French nuclear business will implode before we get an EPR built in Blighty?

More seriously though, if we put an enormous package of subsidies together to get several expensive and uneconomic EPRs built, but not copied by other EU states, won't we be heading for more expensive leccy than the rest of the EU?

Nick Drew said...

BE - kerrrr-ching ! you qualify: Licence is in the post and the money is yours [signed] C.Huhne (sucker)

intuitively, I'm with Jan & Phillipa, though if someone is willing to go ahead with their own £££ (on the back of existing carbon prices and the certain knowledge that when (!) the world economy recovers, energy prices will go through the roof), let 'em.

budgie - can't go along with all your assertions, as you know. Gas will last for a very long time (at least until they solve the riddle of harnessing fusion, which is the end-game)

opposition to nukes is an interesting one: not much in the UK, but in Germany they are having to allocate 20,000 police (that's TWENTY THOUSAND) to keep the nuclear fuel trains running, such is the renewed scale of protest after Merkel extended the life of their nukes by fiat

Nick Drew said...

Mr W - it's an interesting one, isn't it: the 2 designs that Huhne has pre-permittted (without a Public Enquiry!) don't include cheap'n'nasty chinese ones - do we think he'd give them the thumbs-up ? I really don't know any more, he's swallowing everything these days

do we know what design the RWE + E.ON partnership would use ??

Sebastian Weetabix said...

Thorium. Why does no-one pay attention to it? It is the perfect answer. Except for the fact you can't make H-bombs as a by-product.

Bill Quango MP said...

ND: Did you see the letters page PE on wind power. Last issue , not the one out today?

Anonymous said...

Any reason why R/Royce don't install their nuclear submarine power units on a city by city basis. Won't take up much more room than a shipping container and can be buried 50 feet down and left alone for 25 years. Or is this a barking mad idea?

Budgie said...

Anon, RR good idea. Mind you I'm not sure I would want to bury and forget the reactors; and I certainly wouldn't bury the boilers and generator sets at all.

Budgie said...

ND, gas would be better used for domestic and industrial heating and for industrial processes, rather than wasted for electricity generation when nuclear is so dependable, clean and cheap compared with windmills or even coal (I will believe CCS when I see it).

rwendland said...

ND, the CPR1000 may be considered cheap'n'nasty today, but they are undoubtedly less nasty than the existing 34 900MWe reactors being life-extended all over France in the next decade. The Chinese are building 15 odd CPR1000, first connected to grid 5 months ago; so they will have ironed out all the wrinkles and have excellent estimates on build time and cost. [NB Rolls-Royce picked up a £35m CPR1000 parts order today - but build at Rolls-Royce Meylan, France!]

In contrast the second EPR being build in France apparently is already running well late. The EPR is looking to be too large a step forward. As you will well know, with private sector money at 12% to 15% discount rate, a 2 year longer build is a killer. The future of the EPR looks well dodgy to me, as Peggy Hollinger is catching the reverberations of.

Given the other Areva reactor designs are just on paper or collaboration agreements, the CPR1000 looks like a good get-out-of-jail card.

The Chinese are building the next 2 EPRs - maybe they can rescue the design with a trouble-free build. But the Chinese heart seems set on the AP1000, building 4 already, and which they intend to develop into the CAP1400 to which they will (at long last) have IPR and export rights to. They must regard an exportable design as an essential mid-term goal.

I've not kept track on what RWE + E.ON say they will build in the UK. For my local Oldbury site, E.ON said EPR in 2008, but lately they seem unspecific.

Old BE said...

I don't understand why each new station has to have a new design. What's wrong with just building another four or five Sizewell Bs?

rwendland said...

Anon, Budgie: I think you are looking to buy a Toshiba 4S sodium-cooled, underground micro reactor, or a Hyperion lead-bismuth small reactor. Lots of development still to go though, and they look like hopeful niche solutions where other fuels are especially expensive, rather than for a compact country with a good grid like the UK. They are against the general trend for larger reactors to defray fixed site costs better.

SW: India is working on Thorium, as they have a lot of it in the ground so they could be fuel self-sufficient. A lot of technical challenges to overcome yet, great research-funding fodder.

Nick Drew said...

BQ - yes I did (is that the sound of axe-grinding we hear ..?)

I leave the creative nuclear ideas of all our fine correspondents for the experts to answer

budgie, I am with you on CCS but my view on nukes is exactly the same: you wanna build one, EDF? - then go ahead, but don't ask me to fund it + indemnify you against all downside, just bloody well get on with it or stop wasting our time

I just can't get exercised about importing gas

Mr E - fascinating as ever. EDF are, of course, just trying to bank one-way options - at our expense

Nick Drew said...

PS budgie, see this on the gas glut

rwendland said...

BE: Sizewell B clones no good for several reasons:

a) Hopelessly uneconomic. Sizewell B produced leccy for 6p to 8p per KWh when coal and gas was 2p to 3p per KWh.

c) Sizewell B's sister at Hinkley Point, which already had had a public inquiry and planning permission, was cancelled after privatisation as not economic.

b) They no longer make them.

c) Not safe enough for new plant post 9/11. eg EPR has tougher buildings, sacrificial outer buildings, molten core catcher, four independent cooling systems and generators in each quadrant so hopefully a jumbo cannot wipe them all out. AP1000 goes for passive emergency cooling instead of multiple active systems.

Budgie said...

ND, gas glut? From your link: "Europe’s natural-gas oversupply will remain for the next decade". That's 2020 then? The next series of nuclear won't start being commissioned until 2020 (whatever the government says). So for nuclear we are looking at the next 40 years, not merely the next 10.

Nick Drew said...

budgie, fair point, and no-one doubts that hydrocarbon supplies will get tighter at some point down the line (oil will tighten just as soon as the current global nonsense is over) but

(a) the report comes from a party keen to downplay the scale of 'over-supply' of gas

(b) now is a great time to lock in some new long-term contracts with, e.g., Russia,(which have historically been very reliable)

if everyone was convinced of future shortages of gas, they would not need to have their palms crossed with silver to invest in nuke / wind

Jason said...

know this is an old post, but how does everyone think the Paris agreement will effect things?