EADT 11 June 2020

Sizewell C ‘could provide vital boost amid grim times for plummeting UK economy’

https://www.eadt.co.uk/business/sizewell-c-could-boost-economy-amid-dire-oecd-predictions-1-6696148

The potential financial boost from Suffolk’s third nuclear power station is “more relevant than ever” given the latest dire projections for the UK economy, say those behind the project.

French energy firm EDF is spearheading the controversial Sizewell C scheme, which it argues would drive economic growth and help shield the region as the UK economy shrinks by up to 14% amid fallout from the coronavirus crisis.

A new nuclear power station at Leiston would bring jobs, skills and business to the region – in much the same way as its sister site at Hinkley Point C in Somerset, it says. But campaigners opposing the plant say those jobs would be costly.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is expecting the world economy to contract by 6% this year – but the UK is on track to do far worse.

It could shrink by 14% if it is hit by a second wave of coronavirus later this year, the international organisation warns.

The UK economy is set to be the hardest hit by the pandemic among the world’s developed countries, it says.

Britain’s economy was likely to slump by 11.5% in 2020 – but could do even worse.

The OECD expects falls of 11.4% are expected in France, 11.1% in Spain, 11.3% in Italy, 6.6% in Germany, 7.3% in the US and 2.6% in China, the organisation predicts.

EDF wants Sizewell C to be a replica of Hinkley – vastly reducing its build costs because of lessons learned in the Somerset site’s construction.

Hinkley is already netting vast economic benefits for the region, it argues, and recently smashed its £1,5bn spend target for local businesses in the south-west of England.

Humphrey Cadoux Hudson, managing director of Sizewell C, said: “Sizewell C will make a material, positive contribution to local employment, skills, and businesses, and can create a catalyst for change.

“We can see that Hinkley Point C is delivering this in the south west where over 600 apprentices are already working on the project developing sustainable, long-term, well-paid careers. We are committed to deliver the same benefits for Suffolk.”

A socio-economic report for Hinkley showed that to date, £1.7bn had been spend with more than 1,100 companies across the region.

“This is more relevant than ever given the economic projections for the UK,” said a spokeswoman for Sizewell C.

But Alison Downes of campaign group Stop Sizewell C said the proposed nuclear plant had “no place” in the post-pandemic recovery and warned the cost of each job created would be costly.

“The majority of short-term jobs in construction will be filled by people from outside the area, and displace staff from local businesses, plus the build would damage tourism at a time when there is a real opportunity for a surge in domestic holidays,” she claimed.

“The boom-and-bust nature of big infrastructure projects does not create lasting wealth as Leiston can testify to.”

Electricity customers would end up footing the up-front costs, meaning EDF would be taking money out of the economy to the tune of £16 to £18bn for just 900 long-term jobs, she claimed.

An EDF spokeswoman contested the claims, adding that the funding mechanism was yet to be decided.

Decades of skilled jobs would be created, she said, and about a third of the construction workforce would be local.

The planning application for Sizewell C was submitted in May 2020. Objectors have secured a judicial review over plans to fell woodland ahead of its construction.

Daily Telegraph 11 June 2020

China’s threat to boycott Britain’s insane nuclear plan is wonderful news

Britain’s nuclear expansion plan is lunacy, and China’s threat to walk away is an unexpected Godsend

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/06/10/chinas-threat-boycott-britains-insane-nuclear-plan-wonderful/

[Extract] “It no longer makes any commercial sense to build large nuclear plants ever again in Britain. They are prohibitively expensive.

Reactors are being shut down across the US despite Herculean efforts by the Trump administration to save the industry. One reactor at Indian Point in New York closed in April. Its sister unit will go next year.

Construction of the V.C. Summer project in South Carolina has been abandoned after $7bn of sunk investment. The state governor says the misadventure will cost the average household in Horry County some $6,200.

Reactors have been zero-carbon workhorses since the 1950s but trying to meet post-Chernobyl and post-Fukushima safety demands has priced new models out of the market.

New nuclear cannot compete in the US with cheap shale gas. It cannot compete in the UK with this island’s particular bonanza: limitless wind on the Dogger Bank and the shallow waters of the North Sea, backed by galloping cost gains in energy storage.

[And of EDF] “EDF know they can never make money out of it,” said Professor Steve Thomas, a nuclear expert at Greenwich University. “We would be doing them a kindness to pull out so they can concentrate on extending the life of their reactors in France for another twenty years. There would have to be a political sweetener to save face.”

The piece concludes “If China pulls the plug, it clarifies the issue. We can bin the whole misguided notion of nuclear expansion and look to cheaper, cleaner, safer, and quicker sources of power.”

The Times 10 June 2020

NB You can read the latest edition of Nick Scarr’s paper in full here: https://stopsizewellc.org/nick-scarr-coast/

Sizewell C debate turns a bit salty

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/sizewell-c-debate-turns-a-bit-salty-gvvzhp7rf

As if big nuclear power plants weren’t already toxic enough. To the usual list — exploding costs, endless delays, ruinously pricey electricity and a vast clean-up bill — Sizewell C brings another joy. And not just that it’s being partly built by CGN of China: odd reward for the crackdown on Hong Kong.

No, it’s that Sizewell C is in a “dangerous location”. Or so says Nick Scarr from the Nuclear Consulting Group, a collection of academics and experts. The consulting engineer has examined the plans from France’s EDF and CGN to build the 3,200MW nuke on the Suffolk coast from the perspective of coastal erosion and climate change. And, assuming he’s right, his paper is alarming — unless you’re relaxed about the risk of the plant being encircled by sea.

Sizewell C will be bigger and closer to the sea than the site’s existing reactors. Mr Scarr takes issue with EDF claims that it’ll be effectively protected by the offshore Sizewell-Dunwich bank and a coralline crag, so creating a “natural wave break”. He points to studies showing waves are getting through in storms, while at the Sizewell C site the crag is more gravelly than desired.

With decommissioning of the plant not due until 2150, Mr Scarr believes EDF and CGN are paying far too little attention to forecasts from the Met Office and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Not least the notion that once-a-century “extreme sea level events”, are “projected to occur much more frequently by 2050”. He says the once in 10,000 year flood risk that “EDF trumpets” is “just 0.71m above the historical 1953 flood level”.

This is only Mr Scarr’s opinion, but he says his paper has been “approved” by Professor Andrew Plater of Liverpool University: a leading coastal geomorphologist. So, what’s EDF’s response? Well, it reckons Mr Scarr’s analysis of the effects of the sandbank and crag is both confused and wrong. It also says it has evaluated the likely effect of climate change. “The design of the power station, including its sea defence and the raised platform it will be built on, will protect Sizewell C from flooding,” EDF insists.

It says it’ll take an “adaptive approach”, raising the sea defences “during the lifetime of Sizewell C if needed”. Mr Scarr says such an approach only works for construction projects such as painting the Forth Bridge every year, not sea defences for a nuclear plant. Indeed, he reckons it’s “clear evidence” that the location cannot “offer the criteria necessary for long-term safety of the project”.

In short, it’s a red-hot debate. But it hardly makes the Sizewell C scheme any less radioactive.

Daily Mail 8 June 2020

Ministers being urged to curb Chinese involvement in Britain’s nuclear power plants as relations with Beijing sour

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-8396797/Dont-let-China-tighten-grip-Britains-nuclear-power.html

[Extract] “As Hinkley Point C is built in Somerset, state-owned China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) is being lined up as a partner in similar schemes planned for Sizewell in Suffolk, and Bradwell in Essex.

…Bob Seely, a member of the Commons foreign affairs committee, said: ‘The world has changed. There’s a strong case for saying we need to be more mindful of our vulnerabilities.

‘I would be wary of letting China in. That’s the case with Huawei and nuclear power. It is better to be safe than sorry.’

French firm EDF submitted plans last week for Sizewell, which it will develop with CGN – the second of the three plants agreed by Cameron and Xi. Hinkley, the first, was reviewed by Theresa May’s government but allowed to go ahead.

Like that plant, Sizewell C will use French designs. CGN will help to fund it and have an option to take a 20 per cent stake.

But state-owned CGN will be the senior partner at Bradwell, owning a two-thirds stake and using its own designs. Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith warns the plants are set to become ‘the next Huawei’.”

Sunday Times 7 June 2020

Bradwell B: the only way is nuclear for Chinese deal to put reactor in Essex

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/bradwell-b-the-only-way-is-nuclear-for-chinese-deal-to-put-reactor-in-essex-3kr3m3z6t

John Collingridge

[Extract] “The last time Britain got cold feet over China’s nuclear power ambitions, it nearly caused a diplomatic incident.
In July 2016, as dignitaries were en route from Beijing and Paris for a signing ceremony at Hinkley Point on the Somerset coast, then prime minister Theresa May announced a surprise review of China’s role in building the nuclear power station. A marquee had been erected and a menu planned: Cantonese-style pork, Somerset brie and mackerel ceviche with crème fraîche.

It took two months, security concessions and a golden share deal before May reluctantly agreed to allow China and France to proceed with the £18bn project, Britain’s first new nuclear power station in a generation.

An uneasy peace followed. Hinkley Point C is years late and its budget has risen to £22.5bn, but its hulking form continues to rise slowly, fuelled with cash from France’s EDF and China General Nuclear Corporation (CGN), which own two-thirds and a third respectively…..

…..Having rolled out the red carpet for CGN — encouraging it to spend £3.5bn so far — ministers risk embarrassing China for a second time, either by overruling the nuclear watchdog or delaying final approval for Bradwell.
Beijing has made its thinking clear. In a meeting with business minister Nadhim Zahawi last month, Zheng Dongshan, CGN’s UK chief executive, is understood to have demanded clarity on its involvement in the UK’s nuclear power programme, warning that financial support for Hinkley may be at risk — particularly if, as expected, the plant’s budget balloons further. CGN is also considering investing in Sizewell only at the planning stage, and then switching focus to getting its reactor regulated.”

The Times, 3 June 2020

Britain needs economic ties with China, but doesn’t need it to build Sizewell

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/britain-needs-economic-ties-with-china-but-doesn-t-need-it-to-build-sizewell-m8wdsc779?

[Extract] “As radioactive projects go, little beats Sizewell C: the nuclear monstrosity planned for the Suffolk coast. Already, the sirens are going off on economic and environmental grounds. But it’s the post-pandemic politics that give this scheme an extra Ready Brek glow. And, specifically, around Britain’s relations with China…

Of course, Britain needs economic ties with China. But for vital infrastructure? Sir Iain Duncan Smith gets lots of things wrong. But the ex-Tory leader is right on this: Sizewell is “the next Huawei”. The PM’s decision to give the Chinese telecom group a limited role in our 5G network is already jeopardising talks over a US trade deal. And, even if the man proving himself unfit to be US president loses the election, the Huawei problem may not go away. Sizewell adds a fresh complication.

And for what? A nuclear plant that shouldn’t be built anyway. How many examples does the government need that big nuclear reactors, with their guaranteed cost overruns and vast clean-up bills are last millennium technology? Hinkley itself? France’s Flamanville? Finland’s Olkiluoto? Toshiba blowing itself up with Westinghouse? Fukushima? Centrica failing to find a buyer for its stakes in existing plants?

…Instead, Britain is sizing up Sizewell: a project toxic on just about every level. The planning application went in last month. Boris should save everyone the trouble and can it now.”

FT Letter: 3 June 2020

Choosing nuclear narrows future energy choices

https://www.ft.com/content/b94e5c1f-05ad-4fe9-b20a-483f6002a500

Sir: The case Jonathan Ford makes for borrowing at the lowest cost could apply to any capital project including new nuclear (“Britain needs new nuclear, and the government should fund it” June 1).

But he doesn’t explain why he thinks EDF can deliver Sizewell C on time and budget when two of their other pressurised water reactor EPR projects are over a decade late and Hinkley’s costs are rising?

There are serious questions about nuclear’s role in net zero.

Lord Deben, chairman of the UK’s independent committee on climate change, describes it as a “transitional” power source, saying: “If we get better at balancing the grid and the amount of baseload energy, the need becomes smaller.”

There is wide agreement with Mr Ford that new nuclear takes a long time to build and costs are too high, but the National Infrastructure Commission draws a different conclusion: “Making decisions now, such as committing to a fleet of nuclear power plants, rules out a more diverse future generation mix and the potential this has to reduce costs to consumers.” We concur.

Dr Andy Wood,
Adnams plc, Southwold, Suffolk, UK
William Kendall
Entrepreneur, Kelsale, Suffolk, UK

FT 2 June 2020

Financial Times: Plan for new UK nuclear plant under intense scrutiny (extract)

Proposal for reactor attracts attention because of Chinese role as well as cost. 2 June 2020

https://www.ft.com/content/4e3221ef-ac1e-43cc-8d68-e1397ca0637f

“One wonders — and presumably the Treasury is wondering — whether passing the burden of risk to energy consumers labouring under post-Brexit and Covid conditions may or may not be acceptable,” said Paul Dorfman, research associate at University College London’s energy institute.

Nuclear industry executives said if the government wants more large nuclear plants, it may have to take significant equity stakes in projects.

Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson, nuclear development managing director at EDF’s UK arm, said the company was not wedded to one particular funding model, adding “the most important thing is to get the lowest cost of capital”.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said new nuclear “has an important role to play in providing reliable, low carbon power as part of our future energy mix as we aim to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050”.

But it added that “any energy project must offer value for money for consumers”.

Metro: Protests as EDF seeks go-ahead for Sizewell C

ENERGY giant EDF has submitted plans to build a third nuclear power station at Sizewell on the Suffolk coast. Sizewell C would generate enough low-carbon electricity to power 6million homes. It would also create 25,000 jobs and 1,000 apprenticeships during building, and employ 900 skilled workers once finished, the company said. But the Stop Sizewell C campaign group claims the scheme will divert investment from other green energy sources and damage tourism and nature. Suffolk Wildlife Trust said it would lead to the loss of fenland. And the RSPB said it would harm wildlife including water voles, bitterns and otters.

Ecologist: New nuclear power station plan lodged

https://theecologist.org/2020/may/27/new-nuclear-power-station-plan-lodged

Emily Beament | 27th May 2020
The Stop Sizewell C campaign group warns nuclear is costly, diverts investment from green energy sources such as renewables and damages tourism and nature.

Wildlife and anti-nuclear groups have criticised plans to build a new nuclear power station on the Suffolk coast, warning it could harm important nature in the area.

The Stop Sizewell C campaign group which opposes the scheme warns it is costly, diverts investment from other green energy sources such as renewables and would damage tourism and nature in the area.

And wildlife groups have said the scheme should not go ahead as it will harm important habitats around the site on the Suffolk coast.

Lifetime

Suffolk Wildlife Trust (SWT) said construction would lead to the loss of rare fen habitat. Ben McFarland, SWT’s conservation manager, said: “Current plans suggest the direct loss of nationally important and protected land on Sizewell Belts, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

“An area between 10-12 hectares – or roughly 10 football pitches – will be covered in concrete. The loss of this nationally rare fen habitat would be devastating and irreplaceable.”

The RSPB said the development would affect its Minsmere nature reserve, potentially affecting water levels in the wetlands which would harm rare wildlife such as water voles, bitterns and otters.

Noise and light pollution from construction would have a detrimental effect on marsh harriers and wading birds, the wildlife charity said.

EDF claims its proposed new nuclear plant would generate enough “always-on” low-carbon electricity to power six million homes and create 25,000 jobs and 1,000 apprenticeships during construction.

The company said it will also provide 900 skilled jobs over its operating lifetime and support UK energy resilience by reducing the need for imports, the company said.

Scrutinise

The application for a development consent order to the Planning Inspectorate was delayed for two months due to the coronavirus pandemic, but questions have been raised about the decision to put in the submission during lockdown.

EDF said extra measures will be put in place to make it easier for local communities to scrutinise the proposals once they are published.

John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: “The Suffolk business community is very supportive of this crucial project, both in terms of potential contracts and the skills boost.”

Justin Bowden, GMB union national secretary, said: “GMB welcomes the EDF planning consent order application.”

The planning process is likely to take 18 months to complete and the government will make the final decision on whether to give the green light to the scheme.

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