EDF Ready to Make Hinkley Point Investment Decision

The French state-owned nuclear giant must get project costs under control before it breaks ground.

(NucNet): State-controlled French utility EDF says it is ready to take a final investment decision on building two new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point C in southern England,

EDF said the board could now move on to a final investment decision which, if positive, could set the project to build two 1660 MW EPR units in motion.

In recent days the firm has emphasized that Britain’s referendum vote to quit the European Union was no barrier to the plan and that public consultations with unions has ended. The company made the statement at the end of a non-binding process of consultation with its works council of employee representatives. This is a process required under French law before a company can undertake a major project.

However, several of the trade unions represented on the council last month began legal action to try to force EDF to release documents relating the project, including all the contracts it has signed with the British government and its co-investor, Chinese utility CGN. The case will he heard by a Paris court in September.

“At the July 4 session [of the works council] EDF provided information on the consequences of the British vote on June 23 for the Hinkley Point C project,” EDF said.

“Backed by the studies already provided to the representatives of the workforce, EDF considers that this vote in no way changes the fundamentals of the project, nor does it alter the desire of those involved to take part in it.”

UK Gov’t Report Pegs Hinkley Point Lifetime Cost At £37bn

(NucNet): The total budgeted lifetime cost for the planned Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in southern England is estimated at close to £37bn, according to an assessment of major projects published this week by the UK Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC). Previous estimates put the cost at £24bn.

DECC is estimating the lifecycle cost which includes all fuel reloads, maintenance, and decommissioning. The latter includes spent fuel management and nuclear waste disposition. The agency is not estimating the so-called “overnight price” of building the reactor units themselves.

At an estimate price range of $5,000-$6,500/Kw, the reactors themselves could cost between $16.5bn and $21.5bn. If Areva and EDF can successfully apply the lessons learned from building reactors in Finland and France, and get the price down to $4,000/Kw, the two reactors could cost approximately $13.2Bn.

By comparison, in the US South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCANA ) recently petitioned the South Carolina Public Service Commission to authorize a fixed price for two new, first of a kind, 1150 MW Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactors being built at the utility’s V C Summer site.

The total project cost is now estimated at approximately $7.68 billion. Approval of the petition won’t be decided until November and other parties committed to the project have to concur with the request.

Currency conversions to US dollars have been particularly volatile since the Brexit vote, but at week’s end (July 9, 2016) the rate was $1.29US to £1.0 down $0.12 from late May.  Thus, £37bn for life cycle costs of Hinkley Point would be worth $47bn US at this rate.

According to reports in the UK news media, officials at DECC have said that the £37bn figure was provisional and based on the low set in wholesale power prices in September 2015.

The Guardian, a major UK newspaper, quotes a DECC spokesperson as saying that the report “does not suggest that the lifetime costs of Hinkley [Point C] have increased”, but represents a “snapshot of the position at the end of September 2015.”

The document, based on data from September 2015 said the total lifetime cost for the project is determined by the difference between the strike price for Hinkley Point C and the long-term wholesale electricity price on the market.

The current Hinkley Point contract for difference (CfD) guarantees a strike price of £92.50 per megawatt-hour, higher than the average wholesale price of electricity in the UK. DECC officials said they expect the total lifetime cost of the project to vary year on year due to market fluctuations.

DECC also said that from 2014 to 2015 their projections of wholesale electricity prices fell due to underlying low fossil fuel prices and this resulted in a hike of the total lifetime cost for Hinkley Point C.

EDF R&D Director Outlines Challenges For SMR Developers

(NucNet): While EDF took steps to move forward with the Hinkley Point project involving two massive nuclear reactors totalling 3300 MW, another part of the company was looking at small modular reactors which come in sizes ranging from 50-300 MW.

Technology, economy, and market potential are the main challenges that small modular reactor (SMR) developers must consider in their development planning, Bernard Salha, EDF’s R&D director, said at the World Nuclear Exhibition in Paris last week.

He said the sizes of SMRs need to be optimized to strike a balance between generating capacity, cost, and safety.

“If [the size] is too small the cost is going to be very high”, Salha said.

He said SMRs should be flexible when operating in the energy mix together with renewables. This means that SMR power levels should be easily adjustable, both upwards and downwards, when the grid requires it.

Salha told NucNet site work makes up the bulk of the cost for new-build reactors, but SMRs could change the cost emphasis from site work to manufacturing because “serial factory production” could reduce the number of activities that need to be managed onsite. Such costs will be more predictable.

He said the new-build landscape a decade from now will be very different from today because nuclear will have to work with renewables, grids will become smaller and more flexible, and less investment will be available for new-build.

Forgemasters Inks Manufacturing Deal with NuScale for SMRs

(WNN) Sheffield Forgemasters International Ltd (SFIL) and NuScale have announced they will work together to develop the manufacturing techniques required for the future deployment of small modular reactors in the UK.

SFIL will forge a large civil nuclear reactor vessel head by the end of 2017, as part of a program supported by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, to develop and validate innovative forging and fabrication solutions for the nuclear industry.

NuScale Power said it is providing funding to support the use of the geometries required by its innovative SMR design.

Tom Mundy, NuScale Power’s managing director for the UK and Europe said:

“Our vision of seeing the NuScale SMR deployed in, and exported from, the UK can and will only be achieved in partnership with Britain’s renowned engineering and industrial base.”

Graham Honeyman, SFIL Chief Executive, added:

“Small Modular Reactors could revolutionize the civil nuclear power industry, by creating more flexible power generation solutions. The efficient factory manufacture of major components will be crucial to seeing them deployed cost-effectively.”

NuScale Power will be holding a Supplier Day at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Sheffield on July 13 aimed at giving UK-based engineering, manufacturing and construction companies the opportunity to learn about the company’s program of work.

NuScale is also participating in the UK government’s competition to choose the best value SMR, aimed at seeing SMRs deployed in the UK in the 2020s.

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