China Furious, French Energy Giant Desperate, as UK Stalls $24bn Nuclear Deal

A Brexit negotiating ploy against France?

By Don Quijones, Spain & Mexico, editor at WOLF STREET.

The UK government’s decision to postpone the signing of a controversial, tripartite $24-billion nuclear energy deal with state-owned companies from China and France could end up having serious ramifications not only for Britain’s relations with the world’s second largest economy, but also for the financial health of one of France’s biggest corporations.

In an opinion piece in today’s Financial Times, China’s ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, said the Hinkley Point deal represents a “crucial historical junction” for relations between the U.K. and China, which has a one-third stake in the nuclear power station that was scheduled to be built by France’s majority state-owned energy giant EDF.

“Right now, the China-UK relationship is at a crucial historical juncture,” wrote Liu. “Mutual trust should be treasured even more. I hope the UK will keep its door open to China and that the British government will continue to support Hinkley Point – and come to a decision as soon as possible so that the project can proceed smoothly.”

For the UK, forging closer trade relations with the world’s second largest economy should be a no-brainer. After Brexit, it has little choice but to court trading partners beyond Europe’s shores. In the last five years, China has invested more in the U.K. than in Germany, France and Italy combined. President Xi Jinping said that they were in a “golden era” of bilateral relations during his visit last year, which secured deals valued at over $50 billion. But now, that could all be on the line.

On the surface, there are three obvious reasons for UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s reticence to approve the Hinkley project:

  • Security
  • Safety
  • Cost.

The government fears that if the project went ahead, it would grant the Chinese state-owned company China General Nuclear undue influence over sensitive infrastructure. In a blog post written last year before becoming May’s chief of staff, Nick Timothy warned that involvement by Chinese partners in the project could allow them to “shut down Britain’s energy production at will.”

Then there’s the sheer cost of the project: the former UK government had guaranteed a price of £92.50 per megawatt hour of electricity — more than twice the current market cost — for 35 years. That’s reason enough for the “white elephant” project to be scrapped, says The Economist:

Regardless of security worries about China, which are probably overblown, the Hinkley plan looks extraordinarily bad value for money. What’s more, as renewable sources of energy become more attractive, the days of big, “baseload” projects like Hinkley are numbered. Britain should pull out of the deal, and other countries should learn from its misadventure.

There could also be a fourth, largely ignored motive behind the UK government’s delaying tactics: to use it as leverage in any future Brexit negotiations.

Since the British public voted on June 23 to leave the EU, Hollande’s government has been one of the fiercest critics of a future Brexit. Paris has also openly expressed its pipe dream to supplant the City of London as Europe’s financial capital. It’s even offered massive tax breaks to lure the same financial firms and hedge funds that Hollande once described as his nameless, faceless foe.

It’s not just the government taking a hard line against a proposed UK withdrawal from the EU: the French public recently topped an Ispos Mori survey after 39% of Gallic respondents said the EU should turn the screw on the UK after the nation’s decision to sever ties with Brussels.

But the UK appears to have an ace up its sleeve: namely, the €37 billion of debt hanging over the firm that’s meant to lead the Hinkley project, France’s state-backed utility EDF. It also has €10 billion of “hybrid” debt — bonds with equity-like qualities — to its name. According to the Financial Times, the firm’s finances are so strained that its former finance director, Thomas Piquemal, warned EDF’s CEO, Jean-Bernard Lévy, that Hinkley Point must be delayed in order to “avert financial disaster.”

Lévy chose to ignore Piquemal’s warnings, since he was under strict instructions from the French state to proceed with the deal. Piquemal handed in his resignation in March, and on July 29, the project was passed by EDF’s board, by 10 votes to seven, just hours before the British government announced its decision to delay its approval.

But internal opposition to the project remains fierce. Already one French state-owned nuclear group, Areva has collapsed this year under the weight of its own debt, prompting some at EDF to question the wisdom of embarking on yet another hugely complex, capital-intensive project, particularly at a time of growing financial duress.

“Areva shocked us all,” says a rebel within EDF. “It sharpened our thinking about Hinkley, made us understand the same could one day happen to us.”

Areva was brought down by the losses it incurred on a project in Finland that used the exact same EPR reactor system that is planned for Hinkley Point. The project is nine years behind schedule and €5.2 billion over budget. As for Areva, it is now being broken up as part of a government-backed bailout, with parts of the business sold off to EDF and other companies.

Hinkley is forecast to set EDF back €15 billion of capital expenditure. That’s on top of the €95 billion the company is expected to splash out on other projects over the next decade, including a €55 billion initiative to refurbish France’s nuclear fleet. While corporate debt in Europe may be cheaper than at any point in history, thanks to Mario Draghi’s determined efforts to hoover up all corporate bonds that aren’t yet unadulterated junk, including those of 85% state-owned EDF, there are limits.

The rating agencies have already cautioned that taking on another expensive project will put a big strain on EDF’s finances. “If they go ahead with Hinkley Point, we will certainly downgrade them,” said Pierre Georges, credit analyst at Standard & Poor’s. “The project risk is large, and the record for construction of EPRs is so far poor and it will be a drain on cash flow for at least 10 years.” Downgrades could plunge EDF’s “hybrid” debt below investment grade, making the €10 billion it currently holds “more expensive and possibly difficult to refinance,”said Mr Georges.

For France, there is a whole lot more at stake in the Hinkley project than €15 billion in expected capital expenditure. If Hinkley Point doesn’t happen, it would be a major — perhaps even mortal — setback for the EPR technology that is seen as crucial to France’s future in the sector, which accounts for 220,000 jobs, more than the car industry. In fact, so important is the Hinkley Point decision that it could even “jeopardize the solidity and survival of the national energy company,” France’s Socialist Party warned today.

And that is precisely why delaying a decision on Hinkley Point could end up providing the UK government with crucial leverage in any future Brexit negotiations. But it also risks souring bilateral relations with China at a time when the UK needs global partners more than ever before. By Don Quijones, Raging Bull-Shit.

The “Global Economic Uncertainty,” and now Brexit, are hitting the UK Commercial Property Bubble. Read…  City of London Office Values Plunge 6% in One Month

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  42 comments for “China Furious, French Energy Giant Desperate, as UK Stalls $24bn Nuclear Deal

  1. nick kelly says:

    I thought reasonably priced nat gas was available- those gas turbine powered generators with secondary capture are cheap by comparison.
    They are also not all- or- nothing deals. They can be ganged and you run one or all depending on load.
    I know there is a gas pipeline from Norway to the UK, I saw the doc about its construction- amazing.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Even with more expensive LNG, a natural gas combined-cycle power plant would produce electricity for a fraction of the cost (capital and operating costs) of this nuclear monster, if it can even be built for this budget. And natgas plant would be a lot more flexible.

      Combine a highly efficient natgas plant with utility-scale renewables, et voilà.

      • illumined says:

        Actually that setup isn’t economical. Contrary to the propaganda renewables are substantially more expensive when taking into account “details” like capacity factors, lifespans etc. If you want fossil fuel free power that doesn’t smash the taxpayer or the rate payer, nuclear is the way to go. There is a reason France has far less costly electricity than the rest of western Europe.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          NO ONE in his right mind is talking about fossil-fuel free power in the near term. Every economy will have a portfolio of energy sources for power generation. But the components are shifting. In the US, utility-scale renewables (not rooftop) without hydro accounted for 7% of the total portfolio in 2015 (up from zero not too long ago). This does NOT include things like rooftop solar – household-type installations aren’t tracked by the EIA. NatGas has been a big winner in the share battle, and coal the biggest loser.

          Percent share of total U.S. electricity generation in 2015:
          • Coal = 33%
          • Natural gas = 33%
          • Nuclear = 20%
          • Hydropower = 6%
          • Other renewables = 7%
          • Petroleum = 1%
          • Other gases = <1%

          Nuclear is BASE POWER only. You can't ramp up a reactor at 6 am when you need electricity. You need other power plants to do that, such as natgas. So it has the SAME problem that solar and wind have: you need a natgas plant to back it up during peak loads!!!

          France's nuclear plants generate more base power than France can use. So the utility sells it to neighboring countries.

          France has lots of gas-fired power plants for peaking.

          France's nuclear park was built and funded by the government decades before EDS or the nuclear industry were (partially) privatized. This has been paid for by taxpayers AND rate payers. And very dearly! The French government has invested an ungodly amount in its nuclear industry.

        • nhz says:

          Educate yourself about the cost of the latest windturbine parcs that are being build near the Dutch coast in North Sea. These will provide several thousand MegaWatts of power at a cost that is FAR below that of any nuclear reactor. And I’m not even taking ‘small details’ like the cost of 100.000 years or nuclear waste disposal, the extremely expensive security measures around nuclear facilities etc. into account (all levied on the tax payer by the government) or accidents like Chernobyl and Fukushima.

          Yes, wind power will not provide electricity all the time, but we have the same experience with the nearby nuclear power station that can unexpectedly shut off because of cooling issues (more frequent with global warming) or all kinds of technical malfunctions.

          The only reason that France and the UK are pushing these nuclear power stations is their military nuclear capability; they are needed (together with the other nuclear infrastructure like breeders or ultracentrifuges) for nuclear weapons production. Plus the inability of technocrats to admit they were wrong.

        • DV says:

          This is a key question. How viable solar/wind are as a reliable source of energy going into the future. Certainly they need much more service personnel than conventional power plants. Servicing hundreds of off-shore wind turbines looks like a logistic nightmare. Then there is an issue of service life. How long can be solar/wind farms operated at their rated capacity. It may well turn out than in just a decade or less they will need to be replaced, because they degrade too fast. Also the management of such systems with significant intermittent component becomes too sofisticated and costly. So it does look like there are many hidden costs in renewables.

          One way or another , but the heyday of countries like US, Japan, UK, France and Germany quite accidently falls on the period when they had no power supply problems thanks to the use of nulear power. The very reason why countries, which relied on nuclear does not want to switch to nat gas is because (except probably for the US) they do not have enough gas, which will need to be imported and as such this means enormous transfer of wealth along with energy security dependence issues. So there is a strong political component to this as well.

          And base load will actually become more important going into the future, as data centers and other energy dependent equipment consume more and more power.

    • Chip Javert says:


      Your comment is obviously the thinking of a rational human being.

      The only problem I can see is that you’re applying it to the French.

      Nes pas?

  2. Vespa P200E says:

    Chinese trying to bully the Brits with the world is ending for the French nuclear industry are signs that it’s a raw deal for the Brits giving up more of their electric power”sovereignty” to communist China not to mention enriching the Chinese with double the going rate.

    But hey the world needs more of the shovel ready humongous capital projects, right?

  3. The French almost had a Fukushima Daiichi moment in 1999 when a storm flooded the reactor complex @ Blayais. Pumps and other equipment was damaged or shut leaving four reactors with iffy cooling. The plant on the Bay of Biscay was ten hours from core meltdowns of two reactors.

    The French experienced a mishap at Tricastin reactor complex of four reactors in 2008 where uranium solution leaked out of containment. The alarm at the Rhone valley complex resulted in loss of sales of local wines. The tourist trap town of Uzes is 15 miles from the Marcoule complex at Bagnols-sur-Cèze. Plutonium processing for French nuclear weapons as well as MOX fuel took place on the site: comparable sites: Savannah River and Hanford, in UK, Windscale.

    If there is a meltdown in one of these French reactors that will be the end of that country’s nuclear industry coming hard on the heels of Fukushima. The trillions of euros sunk into this enterprise will be lost.

    This is why France / Areva is desperate to expand the circle of participants. If two or three additional countries ‘go stupid’ it makes the French bosses look smart. How smart is hard to say but these plants are massive ticking time bombs.

    If the plants don’t melt their finance burdens will kill them. Their products are nuclear weapons fuel and baseload electricity that is only cheap when costs are ‘allocated’ onto others.

    If the Brits carry on with this plant they need their heads examined.

    • r cohn says:

      Ironically there has been no new nuclear power plants built in the US in 20 years,but there are now 4 currently under construction

      • illumined says:

        It’s those 4 reactors or we stick with dirty coal, take your pick.

        • alexaisback says:

          Coal is 1/10th the price if not in certain circumstances 1/100th of the price of Nuclear.

          And Coal is far more ” clean ” then Nuclear.

          As the poster above stated

          ” And I’m not even taking ‘small details’ like the cost of 100.000 years or nuclear waste disposal, the extremely expensive security measures around nuclear facilities etc. into account (all levied on the tax payer by the government) or accidents like Chernobyl and Fukushima. ”

          YOU ARE PRODUCING Nuclear Waste that we have No Idea how to safely store, much less dispose of.

          And have already created a Chernobyl and Fukushima.

          Fukushima has destroyed an ocean, and it shall continue to for many years to come. Yet no media wants to discuss that – God Forbid someone not toe the line on dirty coal – or the Climate Change Hoax.

    • illumined says:

      Ok, where to start.

      1.) No one has been expanding their nuclear arsenals.

      2.) Barring places with the right geography for hydro and geo power, the reality is there aren’t any real alternatives to fossil fuels when it comes to powering the grid except nuclear power. Renewables are diffuse and highly intermittent, which leads to per unit costs being far more than advertised and additional costs being added in the form of additional generating capacity needed to backup your intermittent renewables.

      3.) Because of the diffuse nature of renewables you’ll need to build an awful lot of them, the result being vast quantities of extremely toxic waste.

  4. nick kelly says:

    And who wants to be the customer that keeps a supplier of such a huge project from going bust?
    Nuclear plants and cost overruns are almost the norm- but if the supplier is on the edge, who picks up the diff if it runs out of money three quarters finished?

    • Chip Javert says:

      “…who picks up the diff…”?

      That’s a rhetorical question, right?

      • nhz says:

        Yes, just look at the Finnish reactor (cherished by nuclear energy supporters and other technocrats worldwide for its innovative design and technical brilliance, representing the future of the nuclear industry). The whole project is one big FAIL, but no technician or politicians is going to admit that billions were wasted on a pipe dream, and the taxpayers get the bill anyway so who cares. For the nuclear engineers these are simply extremely well-paid jobs with golden pensions attached.

        On another note: I live relatively close to an aging nuclear power station in the Netherlands. When it was build here about 45 years ago, the engineers and politicians promised that all electricity meters in the whole province would be removed because nuclear power was so free that they would not longer need to charge for it.
        45 years later the electricity meters are still there and my province has the highest electricity cost of the whole country, despite having the only functioning nuclear power plant. The electricity company is probably going bankrupt soon, without any significant savings to pay for future nuclear waste disposal or decommissioning of the power plant. Don’t have to ask who gets the bill for the waste disposal, certainly not the few big industries and the politicians who pushed for the construction of the reactor so they could get ‘cheap power’.

        So much for ‘cheap nuclear energy’; similar promises are made today, people never learn :-(

        • Chip Javert says:

          Somebody has to pay the subsidy required to fund solar, & wind.

          When dividing the crowd into wolves & sheep, if you don’t know who the sheep are – you are the sheep.

          You didn’t really believe that free electricity crap 45 years ago, did you?

  5. r cohn says:

    Great Britain runs an annual trade deficit of over 40B with China and a much smaller surplus in services.The editorial in the “Financial Times ” by the Chinese ambassador sounds like a veiled threat.But which country has more to lose ?
    It is time for Great Britain and the US to tell China to go places if they do not agree to changes in trade so that these huge deficits are not radically reduced.

  6. illumined says:

    @Wolf – Sorry to reply this way but the site won’t allow me to directly post a reply.

    ” In the US, utility-scale renewables (not rooftop) without hydro accounted for 7% of the total portfolio in 2015 (up from zero not too long ago). This does NOT include things like rooftop solar – household-type installations aren’t tracked by the EIA.”

    Yes, because energy mandates, huge subsidies and grants made it possible. Rooftop solar alone has anywhere from a 30 to 60 percent direct subsidy depending on what state you’re in. Plus there’s the interest free loans and grants to the companies themselves. It’s true nuclear has had a lot of support particularly for R&D, but it’s had nowhere near the amount of direct production subsidies.

    “NatGas has been a big winner in the share battle, and coal the biggest loser.”

    I agree with this, but that’s been because of the much maligned fracking revolution in the US which crashed natural gas prices. Correct me if I’m wrong but based on some of your articles aren’t you opposed to fracking?

    “Nuclear is BASE POWER only. You can’t ramp up a reactor at 6 am when you need electricity. You need other power plants to do that, such as natgas. So it has the SAME problem that solar and wind have: you need a natgas plant to back it up during peak loads!!!”

    Ok, two points here:

    1.) The assertion is completely wrong, it only applies to really old reactors, not the pressurized water reactors France uses.

    Furthermore France doesn’t have any natural gas power plants, fossil fuels in France’s mix is only 2%. Here’s a complete list of all power plants France has, currently it has exactly one fossil fuel power plant, which is a coal fired station. You won’t find a single natural gas power plant anywhere. Someone’s been pulling your chain.

    2.) Even if assertion 1 is true, which it isn’t, this isn’t the same problem at all. Solar and wind have extremely variable outputs that are subject to factors well beyond the control, which is why they don’t provide base power, they can’t. So something else needs to provide base power, which leaves with geo, hydro, fossil fuels, and nuclear, with geo and hydro being inexpensive but geographically limited. There is a reason a key feature of Germany’s “Energy Revolution” included the construction of dozens of fossil fuel power plants including many coal fired stations. The variability combined with the need to literally back up every watt because it can’t provide steady base power has led to skyrocketing electricity prices in Europe.

    “France’s nuclear plants generate more base power than France can use. So the utility sells it to neighboring countries.”

    This partially true, a lot of this is just simple load balancing. When you have a bunch of small countries with a highly intertwined electrical grid, they buy and sell electricity all the time, this is how peak load is often taken care of in addition to throttling plant output. By the way renewables often do this too, in Denmark the wind turbines often produce a lot of their electricity at night, off peak hours which then gets dumped at well below production cost onto the market.

    “France’s nuclear park was built and funded by the government decades before EDS or the nuclear industry were (partially) privatized. This has been paid for by taxpayers AND rate payers.”

    In France every major industry was nationalized at some point or another, remember that after WW2 in Europe nationalization and state control was the norm, not the exception. France today still holds onto this model even today. That being said, are the rate payers paying for it?

    Remember that Denmark and Germany heavily embraced renewables. Coincidence that their electricity costs twice as much as France’s? I think not. And remember that was after Germany subsidized solar production to the tune of 100 billion.

    Let’s also not forget the REAL reason the greens opposed nuclear power in the first place, their philosophical object to clean and abundant power. They’ve said so many times, so if renewables really could provide clean and abundant energy, why would they be supporting it?

    Here’s something I found that sheds quite a bit of light on what their thinking is. It was written shortly after the announcement of the Ponns and Fleischmann “breakthrough”, and while that later on turned out to be a hoax at the time the article was written they didn’t know it yet. It’s a very useful thought experiment regarding their philosophy towards energy.

    What we’re dealing with is a form of psuedoscientific denial, not much different in terms of tactics and strategies from their counter parts in the Intelligent Design movement. Part of their tactics includes wildly exaggerating costs and risks and in many cases just making things up. I’d be careful with your sources, I used to believe in this stuff too.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      The link from the French grid operator RTE allows you to check out historical and real-time power generation/consumption by source. So these numbers vary by the hour (but you can select a different date).

      It shows that they do have power generation from gas (“gaz” as they call it), which varies depending on the time of the day.


      …which shows among many other things that in 2014:

      – about 20% of consumption was from renewalbes, including solar, wind, and hydro, which are increasingly replacing fossil fuels.

      – power consumption was 465.3 TWh, and net exports 65.1 TWh, so 14% of consumption.

      – generation from coal is dying

      • illumined says:

        “It shows that they do have power generation from gas (“gaz” as they call it), which varies depending on the time of the day.”

        Did you look at how much it is? It’s only 4%, and that’s maximum, a mere 2.3 GW. I’ll say it again, extra capacity for peak loads is a very very different problem from extra capacity for base load, which is the problem wind and solar have. The reason is simple, the output for wind and solar can drop to zero for weeks at a time at highly random, unpredictable times so every watt of capacity needs to be backed up by something else, this is not the case for having extra capacity for peak production.

        “– about 20% of consumption was from renewables, including solar, wind, and hydro, which are increasingly replacing fossil fuels.”

        The hydro figures are pretty accurate, but the solar figures are highly misleading. As I said, it’s a power source that can go hours, days, or even weeks at greatly reduced production or even no production at all. It’s an average figure at best. It really isn’t replacing fossil fuels at all because fossil fuels are usually the main source of back up base load power.

        And while generation from coal is dying off in France, it isn’t in countries like Germany that embraced renewables whole heatedly. In fact Germany is still building new coal fired power plants.

        You can’t run a modern, industrial civilization on intermittent, low density sources of energy.

    • r cohn says:

      You have mentioned very little regarding the true subsidies for nuclear power plants.These subsidies go well beyond just R+D

      • nhz says:

        Just add the costs for over 100.000 years of safe nuclear waste disposal and NO new nuclear reactor will be build, ever. Nobody even KNOWS how this junk can be stored safely or what it would cost. Decommissioning old nuclear reactors same story: only a few small research reactors were partly or completely decommissioned, at huge cost. Decommissioning a nuclear power plant in a responsible way is probably going to cost more than constructing it. But why worry about the cost? Just let the power stations ‘cool off’ for at least 50 years and stick it to future generations.

        And then there is the fact that thanks to a simple political decision, nuclear power plant owners are NOT responsible for any serious damage they are causing to society, no insurance required. When the blade of a wind turbine breaks off there is hell to pay for the owners (even due to ‘psychological damage’), but if a nuclear power station destroys half a count(r)y for generations, the cost to the owners is ZERO.

        Add the cost of these factors (which are all levied on the public, and not on the owners/investors/users of nuclear power) and all discussion will end. As soon as these costs are forced on the nuclear industry all nuclear power station construction will be extremely unprofitable. Of course they might still continue it because of military considerations where cost doesn’t matter …

        BTW, even coal power plants until recently received HUGE direct and indirect subsidies in Europe (and probably in the US as well), sometimes more than most renewable energy sources. The oil/gas industry as a whole also receives a few hundred billion in subsidies, tax exemptions etc. worldwide EVERY YEAR. Remove these subsidies and the financial playing field will be totally different.

    • Graham says:

      “shortly after the announcement of the Ponns and Fleischmann “breakthrough”, and while that later on turned out to be a hoax at the time the article was written they didn’t know it yet.”

      There was a _vote_ held that Ponns and Fleischmann’s experiment was a hoax, it’s one of those times that science was decided by ‘democracy’ rather than by a study of the data.

      You may wish to research that vote and wonder why the scientific method was abandoned yourself, suffice it to say that calling it a ‘hoax’ was incorrect. They detected a result that should not have happened and they were slapped down for it, it wasn’t a hoax and what followed certainly wasn’t science.

      • nick kelly says:

        Oh for God’s sake! Thousands of labs all over the world began trying to duplicate the results- in vain.
        If P and F HAD done it all they had to do was keep doing it.
        The history of inventions is full of breakthroughs that were ‘slapped down’ but prevailed.
        The struggle of the co-inventor of the jet engine- Frank Whittle, is a great example
        Another is Nicola Tesla who invented AC power, but was slapped down by Edison, for a while.
        Sometimes the extent of this conspiracy theory mind- set amazes me.
        Do you think Russia or France would stop research into a fusion break through because the Illuminati told them to?
        BTW: Russia and the former Soviet Union have spent countless billions on fusion research.

        • Graham says:

          Your post has emotion but still doesn’t address or rebut the points I made in mine does it?

          If the process didn’t work the normal scientific method would eliminate it, it doesn’t require the ‘help’ of a politicised vote, witch-hunt and subsequent world wide ban of funding and research. Voting and popularity has never been part of the scientific method, regardless of what AGW believers say.

          Having spent $trillions smashing up the middle east – partly for cheap oil, trillions on the nuclear program and billions on hot fusion is seems odd to single out Ponns and Fleischmann for special treatment when they come up with some anomalous energy results, one might have rather expected the opposite – “have a lab and $1bn and come back to us in a year” would be the obvious way to proceed.

          Hanging the heretics out to dry may have been great for the incumbent energy players but as I observed earlier – it’s not science. If it doesn’t work it doesn’t work, science takes care of these cases every day without the type of kangaroo courts that were used to slap down Ponns and Fleischmann, end their careers and de-fund this direction of research.

          Remember that these were highly educated and respected scientists who did a number of experiments and saw anomalous results time after time, even the very small chance that they had found an energy source that could be harnessed is excellent news for the masses but very very bad news for many very powerful lobby groups.

          Telling them off like naughty schoolboys and guaranteeing that all investigations into that path of research were stopped dead and de-funded seems to me a rather unnecessary and extreme political act that may make more suspicious people than me question the motives for doing so. Particularly – as I have pointed out – given the scientific method – left alone to work – will dispose of all hoaxes and errors as it has thousands of times before.

          It’s a great shame, because even if the energy side of what they saw was a simple error, other discoveries of materials or fluid dynamics – i.e. what they may have really observed and mis-interpreted – have also potentially been cut off as we still have no scientific explanation of what they recorded.

          However I think enough people bought into the official conspiracy theory to have killed that line of research for good, so I think we’re now safe from any new discoveries relating to the effects they recorded for some decades, and are free to get back to the oil, fracking and nuclear that we all know and love, without the annoying and dangerous distractions of some egg heads finding new paths of research to investigate.

          BTW, what is Illuminati – a lighting manufacturer? This is really about energy, not just lighting! In fact it was about hot water, which is ironically just what their results landed them in ;)

          As for your conspiracy theories, it sounds as wild an idea as some major car manufacturers conspiring to shutdown streetcars in 25 US cities between 1938 and 1950 so everyone was forced to use their cars instead doesn’t it? Of course, the very idea is crazy, they would never do that.

  7. nhz says:

    seems to me Brexit is just a convenient excuse to get rid of a financially, technically and environmentally idiotic plan, without really admitting they were wrong all along.

  8. DV says:

    Looks like Russia’s Rosatom is the only reliable vendor/builder of third generation nuclear reactors still standing. The first 1.250 self-shutting reactor was just launched the other day. And it can do this for less than half of EDF’s price tag – less than 5 billion per unit.

    • MC says:

      I need to say this for the records: when it comes to Soviet/Russian engineering I don’t know whether be positively or negatively impressed.
      It can be divided in two categories: on one side it works more than well, it’s cheap, blunt instrument sturdy and reliable and can be easily fixed. On the other it’s pathetic junk.
      I really hope these nuclear reactors belong to the first category.

      • nick kelly says:

        The Chernobyl reactor followed a typical Soviet path.
        The prototype worked well so the design was put into production- but much larger than the prototype ( Ten times I think)
        This worked too but had an issue the prototype didn’t, it was unstable at low power- it could die and require a restart- not trivial and a day’s work.
        On the day they had been experimenting at low power ( graphite rods pushed into the ‘fire’ dampening it) when it suddenly showed signs of going out. It was due to go back on line shortly and failure to do so would have been a black eye for management- requiring an extra train load of coal to another part of the grid.
        So the supervisor ordered the hesitant operator to pull the rods way out.
        This briefly solved the problem of low power because for a second or two the reactor put out about 100 times its rated capacity. Then it blew the roof off.
        For years afterward a similar reactor kept working in Ukraine.
        Birds nested in the building and workers’ lunch was delivered by horse drawn wagon.
        But it worked. Maybe not too many experiments at low power.
        And although I can’t recall if Chernobyl had this and it didn’t work- there is mod that automatically shoves in the rods if the reaction begins to ‘run away’.

        • Graham says:

          The RMBK reactor had a nasty positive void coefficient that operators had to steer around.

          the two clueless operators in charge that day didn’t even know about xenon poisoning – which damped down the reactor until their huge efforts to get it going again burnt away the xenon to be left with a full power, uncooled core.

          As they pushed the rods in this displaced fluid and made the situation even worse, resulting in such a severe energy spike it caused a steam explosion that blew the lid off.

          Then without the lid the air rushed in and the graphite fire did the damage in creating the fallout.

          It was a reactor without any proper containment that needed careful operation by people sho knew what they are doing.

          The irony is that the 35 GE Mk1 and MKII reactors operating in the US are the same design as the Fukushima reactors, that also effectively have no containment either – the area is too small and blows (as Daiichi reactors #1, 2 and 3 testify to).

          The answer in the US to that issue has to be to install an unfiltered hard vent pipe from the containment to atmosphere, effectively rendering the containment useless. Come the next decent US earthquake (possibly triggered by a mild fracking quake) there could well be tears in the US.

          So we have had Chernobyl and Fukushima (ongoing), and no one in the US has learnt anything. At least in Russia they modified the remaining RMBK’s to smooth out the positive void coefficient so they are now far more tolerant of abuse now, which given the political situation in the Ukraine with it’s new trash economy and civil war; is just as well.

  9. RD Blakeslee says:

    “What goes around comes around”

    England built an empire on mercantilism.

    It now resists Chinese mercantilism.

  10. Graham says:

    With the number of ‘near misses’ and after two complete disasters (polluting much of western Europe and much of the northern Pacific) one has to question the decision to build more expensive nuclear plants.

    Particularly as no one knows what to do with the waste for the next 100,000 years. Given known history covers rather less than 5% of that time we need to stop building these. Now.

    With growing solar technology and more efficient lighting, TV, computing, travel etc. one has to also question the need to create such long term waste at such risk (small risk – but priceless damage) at all.

    With oil prices at an all time low the sensible thing would be to build some cheap oil plants to plug the gap and put money into solar research. Grants for solar water heating would also go a long way to switching off people’s immersion heaters too.

    Remember that nuclear is now a victim of it’s own success, the risk of a melt down at a particular plant has to be multiplied by the many thousands in use – which makes the two major accidents we have had – become the expected norm, not isolated freak events.

    • illumined says:

      After spending an hour and a half replying to another post debunking a bunch of other assertions I’m not really able to go through everything here, but I will focus on point in particular:

      “Particularly as no one knows what to do with the waste for the next 100,000 years. Given known history covers rather less than 5% of that time we need to stop building these. Now.”

      This is yet another green lie. We know exactly what to do with it, we find a suitable place and bury it. Costs for waste disposal, according to the 1982 waste policy, is taken care of by the utilities (NOT the taxpayer). It isn’t that much different from the mountains of toxic waste generated by solar panel fabrication, except in terms of power generated there’s vastly more waste produced by solar as opposed to nuclear.

      • nhz says:

        blatant lies …

        “just bury it” like where? Like in Gorleben in Germany?? I hope you ever go to inspect the facility personally … Or like in Hanford etc. in the US or other sites where nuclear waste is ‘responsibly’ disposed, so that most of it leaks out in the environment and only the government statistics will look clean?

        If you compare toxic waste from solar panels (or computers for that matter, quite similar) to nuclear waste, you clearly have no idea what you are talking about.

        Cost for waste disposal taken care of by the utilities? OMG, do you really believe this nonsense?
        I will tell you how exactly the nuclear power station in my area pays for future waste disposal and decommissioning: they started a ‘seed fund’ of 10 million euros 15 years ago (for the first 30 years, they reserved absolutely nothing). This fund is expected to grow thanks to a hefty yearly return on capital (15%, if I remember correctly) for 50 years, and this should cover the cost which is now estimated at 10 billion in CURRENT euros in the lowest estimates. Hope and pray that annual returns keep at 15% and inflation stays zero for 50 years … Said otherwise: it is all one big SCAM.

        And I’m told this is even a generous setup compared to how it is done in e.g. Belgium.

      • Graham says:

        “we find a suitable place and bury it”

        For 100,000 years?
        I’m not sure that bit has quite sunk in has it illumined?

        Allow me to illuminate you;- 100,000 years ago Neanderthals were roaming the earth, now we have shiny new nuclear plants, weapons and have already driven many species to extinction.

        I find your faith that we can keep something safely buried for ten times the age of the Sphinx, however before that we will see another nuclear disaster, the sheer number of plants and the risk factors make it a betting certainty that one will go ‘pop’ every few years.

        We need to stop building these expensive, long term polluters with dangerous short term contamination risks now. Oil is cheap, Nuclear fallout is – effectively forever. While I agree that much radiation is harmless, ingesting a decent particle of Fukushima in your Pacific Pilchards will ruin your whole future.

        Putting even some of that futile money toward developing a decent battery (the real solution for wind and solar) would be the intelligent way forward. We have a clear choice: more risk and pollution, or a clean, energy rich future. There is no reason to choose poorly.

  11. Tom Parsons says:

    Has everyone forgotten WPPSS?

    I remember the politics, and claims that without a new nuke every year from the late 1970s onward the Pacific Northwest would have increasingly frequent brownouts.

    So instead we got about 7 partially completed plants, lots of lost money in bonds that were supposed to be hell-and-high-water guaranteed, no new nukes, and no brownouts at all.

    Lessons of history, anyone?

  12. Es7500 says:

    Populationgrowth in Northern Europe if one excludes Migration from t He third works is negative. Until there is a worldwide sustainable Population growth Model why does anyone think that building nuclear Power plants makes sense. Would It not make more sense to develop an economic model that did not require continuous growth. Britain and Europe will never be able to build enough power to service the population growth of the third world. The nuclear debate is like arguing over the deck chairs on the Titanic.

  13. JayTe says:

    Can you say ‘White Elephant’?!? Going ahead with the project would be an utter disaster with oil and gas markets in the process of passing into history fighting at every turn from the inevitable realisation across the public that there are so many ways to extract energy and power the economy that being forced to continue with technologies more than 100 years passed their sell by date is just mind blowing in its stupidity. Teresa May is right to wait until and to roll up as much as possible into the Brexit negotiations since it’s rather obvious that certain countries are going to try and make an example of the UK in order to keep the EU together. The really wise thing she did was her European tour to discuss with various EU leaders in order to gauge their positions to determine who would most likely try to make negotiations difficult. I’m sure that by the end of the year, the UK will have a very strong hand to play when negociations starts.

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