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Topic Title: Buying Nuclear Electricity from EDF the Cheap Way
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Created On: 06 January 2014 05:01 PM
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 06 January 2014 05:01 PM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1033
Joined: 05 September 2004

On its north cost the French have around 16GWe of nuclear power generating capacity.

With four cross channel 2GW HVDC links we could share half of that power output with the French. They in turn could take some of our wind energy.

I suspect the 4 2GW HVDC links will be not more than £4 to £6 billion pounds, throw in a profit margin to help allow EDF to fund their plant life extension (PLEX) work and we might have the basis of a good deal. We could get access to 8 GW of French nuclear power generation capacity for less than the cost of one ridiculously expensive new 1.6 GW EPR reactor.

This would give us access to cheap nuclear and other forms of energy from continental Europe while we develop cheaper forms of nuclear energy. It will benefit both the French economy and our economy.

This will help the French as they want to diversify away from nuclear power to some extent any way, sharing some of their nuclear power with us is an excellent way of starting the process.

Just a thought...




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James Arathoon
 09 January 2014 09:43 AM
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iie63674

Posts: 72
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James, are you assuming that France has 8GW of spare capacity? There's already a 2GW bidirectional cross-channel link, which rarely operates at full capacity.
 09 January 2014 11:04 AM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1033
Joined: 05 September 2004

Originally posted by: iie63674

James, are you assuming that France has 8GW of spare capacity? There's already a 2GW bidirectional cross-channel link, which rarely operates at full capacity.


http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

Just a quick view of the gridwatch graph seems to show that the link has been maxing out at least 40% of the time, in the last 6 months, in the France to England direction .

I suppose it depends on how the French government and investors decide they want to invest in their electicity network. The cost of solar power is dropping and France is in a lot better position to harvest solar energy cost effectively at the moment than we are in the UK. The French may decide that in competition with solar it is not worth investing in plant life extensions on a large proportion of their nuclear fleet (perhaps even 8GW worth).

However the solar equation for us is very different and British consumers would perhaps choose to invest in the French Nuclear Network in a different way to French consumers, if that brought us much cheaper electricity for the next 20 years; compared with a range of other competing investment strategies, like new Third generation nuclear.

It goes without saying that this would have to be an EDF led initiative based on how they saw the future of their electricity supply business. If a large proportion of the French Nuclear fleet of power stations prove uneconomic to life extend, even at UK electricity prices, then the French may have to soon have to start importing electricity, rather than have a surplus that they can sell to the UK and other countries.



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James Arathoon
 12 January 2014 01:34 PM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1033
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This is what Jim Ratcliffe has to say about the price of UK electricity for his business...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25390456

Jim Ratcliffe and other bosses of energy intensive industrial companies need to form part of consortia looking for cheaper forms of energy generation.

The government is ensuring they don't need to be, because of the new energy welfare payments they will receive. These energy welfare payments will be collectively paid by all electricity consumers including those on the minimum wage.

One of the interesting things Jim Radcliffe says is that in France he has just done a deal with a Nuclear power station to pay EURO 45 per MWh (£37.50 per MWh).

If 8GW of HVDC power transport was connected between England and France, Jim Radcliffe could make deals like that (+ transmission charges) in the UK. Ineos gets a good deal without having to put his company on Energy Welfare (under the terms of the Energy Bill) to keep it running in the UK.

Many senior people in the nuclear industry actually think that they will be able to build expensive new third generation nuclear (over 10 to 15 year time spans) without any price competition from other technologies, because their friends in Government have fixed things up for them. They think they can keep the vocational nuclear skills of between 1000 and 2000 highly skilled technicians and engineers going in the UK nuclear industry by funding a few extra academic researchers in our universities, without putting in place any sort of vision or strategy to actually deliver the cheaper electricity the country needs.

Having now written to Ineos I now plead and beg Jim Radcliffe to come to this issue with some leadership. Instead of spending your time negotiating a more generous government backed energy welfare scheme for energy intensive businesses; please support energy industry engineers who want to deliver lower price electricity to help keep your businesses, and other energy intensive businesses, cost-effectively employing people in the UK.


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James Arathoon
 22 March 2014 04:37 PM
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jarathoon

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Just to remind you that I recently suggested installing 8 GW of elcetricity interconnectors between England and France so that we can use some more of the French Nuclear power output from their northen coast.

I have since been told by an AMEC engineer that AMEC (using its new french subsidiary) is ready to contribute to the French nuclear reactor life extension engineering work that will be needed if that is the future path EDF and UK consumers wish to follow. (PLEX work increasing nuclear plant lifetimes from 40 to 60 years)

Adding inflation increasing, the wholesale price of electricity from the proposed Hinkley point C EPR is already somewhere between £100 per MWh and £110 per MWh at today's prices; originally being set at £92.50 per MWh at 2011 prices. Long term contracts on electricity from life extended French Nulcear plants are likely to be much cheaper. Some of the savings made can be ploughed into fourth generation nuclear reactor development programs, including a molten salt nuclear reactor development programme.

President Hollande tells us he wants to reduce France's dependence on nuclear power from 75% of grid electricity to 50%. This will require huge premature write-offs from closing nuclear assets early. Valuble assets that could potentially make money providing baseload electricity at market cometitive prices to the UK over the next 20 years.

Additional market pressures to close down nuclear plants early in France is now growing faster than expected. If the EU sees that the energy market in Europe is so dysfunctional that existing energy generation assets cannot be retasked intelligently and commercially to offet the speed and scale of future electricity price rises accross Europe then it has to act. And if it does not act it will be seen as corrupt and unaccountable to those people in Europe who do not want to pay more than they need to, for their electricity supplies, over the next 20 years.

See article below...

France's nuclear power generation cuts due to increased wind and solar output

"The world's biggest operator of nuclear power plants, Electricite de France (EDF), found itself having to reduce energy production from its nuclear reactors in order to avoid overloading the grid this week.

EDF found itself having to reduce its nuclear output because the grid was receiving higher wind and solar output from Europe than expected.

This is seen by some energy analysis as a potential future earnings limit for aging nuclear power plants.

According to Dominique Miniere, deputy director of engineering and production at EDF, the utility is varying the output from its nuclear reactors "more and more often." "


i.e utilisation is gradually decreasing and nuclear electricity generation costs gradually forced up. If you want to watch the French Grid here it is...

http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/france/

A recent BBC story for more background.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25674581

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James Arathoon
 22 March 2014 05:23 PM
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drhirst

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James, et al,
You may well be correct in asserting that electricity from across the channel will be cheaper than building new capacity here. Indeed, it is hard to conceive of it being more expensive than the government has signed up for.

There are two potential issues with cross channel sources:

First, much of England is within downwind scope of Northern France, so an accident could, if the wind was in the wrong direction, leave much of England irradiated. Fukushima was "lucky" in that most of the radioactivity was delivered to the Pacific, the world's largest Ocean, and much much bigger than the channel.
In that context, a major criticism of the recent damning UN report on the Hinckley scheme was the lack of consultation about the scheme with neighbouring countries, arguing that the probability of an accident affecting them is too small to consider. I think we can assume France has the same view about its neighbours. So cross channel electricity also has risks.

Second, your scheme depends on the French extending the life of their power stations. Yet older power stations have greater risks. So components at a power station with a design life of 40 years can deteriorate over the 40 years, and the risks will therefore grow. If the operation is extended, the risks will become bigger, albeit from a low (but not zero) level. After all, the income from the sale of electricity no longer has to include substantial capital depreciation costs of the original build, but only on its maintenance and replacement of life expired components, so the potential profits are very attractive. To the owners (who do not face liability for accidents that do occur), it is a "no-brainer". This is less clear for the rest of us who will have to bear the costs of the accidents. From the experience of Fukushima, it seems likely that some communities will bear far heavier blight than others, but we will all suffer some loss.

Japan has now lost all its nuclear generation. It is remarkable that they have largely been able to make up nearly all this loss by buying gas on world markets (and the consequential rising price of gas has hurt us all). If we had to shut down our nukes (even if there was no escape of radioactivity in an accident), I do not think we could keep the lights on here. Yet a similar calamity to wind, or to energy efficiency, is inconceivable. So the nukes are reducing our energy security, whether they are here or across the channel.

David Hirst

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David Hirst
 22 March 2014 08:27 PM
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jarathoon

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The French and UK regulatory authorities would of course have an important role in scrutinising such plans and I hope that enough information can be released to give the French and UK publics reasonable confidence in what may be proposed.

The French Nuclear fleet is much more standardised in design than our nuclear power stations were, and if their are systematic issues which increase the risk of an accident even allowing for the PLEX work, then the facts should be released so that they can be debated in public. If much of the French nuclear fleet cannot be life-extended then this would be a very significant problem for French energy security and presumably be a very strong upward pressure on the price of natural gas and other fossil fuels across the whole of Europe.

At the moment the UK government says it wants 16 GW of new third generation nuclear power stations operating in the UK by 2030 (EPR, AWBR, AP1000 etc). This target is now impossible to achieve. The very best that £30 billion of tax payer guaranteed third generation nuclear investments can now bring is 5.9 GW extra generation capacity by 2030 [two plants at Hinkley Point and two plants at Wylfa]. As Sizewell B will be the only legacy nuclear power station operating in the UK by then, the best £30 billion of tax payer guaranteed funds brings us by 2030 is 1 or 2 GW less nuclear generating capacity than we currently have.

None of new third generation nuclear operators will have to pay commercial insurance or pay commercial rates for their nuclear spent fuel and waste to be safely stored underground for tens of thousands of years. All the existing long term problems that the nuclear industry face in terms of waste classification, handling and storage remain unsolved.

Given the age of the French Nuclear Plants we are talking about PLEX work that will keep most of them running from roughly 2020 to 2040.

http://www.world-nuclear.org/i...Countries-A-F/France/

My worries are not about our ability to meet energy needs into the 2030's (as long as we do not prematurely shut our coal stations), they are about what happens after that. Shale gas is a short term resource (a few decades at most) - fast to ramp up and very quick to run out. I believe we have to be in a position to start the ramp up fourth generation nuclear from 2035 onwards.

High Temperature Molten salt reactors (700 to 1000 DegC) of small modular design will provide direct process heat for energy intensive industries (including steel, aluminium and chemicals industries) and higher thermal efficiency electricity generation (50% instead of 35%). Higher efficiency means less water usage, and even allows the option of a Braden gas cycle, to reduce water use still further.

If we want to role out say 8 to 16 GWt per year cost effectively we have to dump third generation nuclear. Between now and 2035 new third generation nuclear is just a distraction from the main tasks at hand in the next 20 years...

1) safe and reliable life extensions of existing nuclear plant.
2) shale gas exploitation with local public consent
3) development of high temperature molten salt nuclear reactors and new more cost effective waste handling, separation and storage techniques
4) bringing down the cost of offshore wind, solar and tidal range/stream power for more mainstream roll-out at commercially competitive prices.

We might achieve the governments 16 GW third generation nuclear target between 2040 and 2050 if there is no revolution in the face of spiralling energy and food costs. China now aims to have their first prototype molten reactor operational by 2024. Investor's money and the best engineering talent will be following on their coat-tails.

To assign £30 billion of public loan guarantees so that certain favoured energy companies are allowed to double the real terms cost of electricity they sell into the market; to use the law of the land to lock-in these high energy prices, index linked for another 35 years, using secret contracts (the public will never get to see and scrutinise); the only possible explanation for this conduct is seriously stupid, utterly corrupt or just plain mad.

How can the nuclear industry attract the very best young engineers into the nuclear industry on this basis? Well I think pn current government plans the best most thoughtful and inventive young engineers will want to go and work in biotech, aerospace, agriculture or with satellite technology instead - where they can work on new exciting technologies.


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James Arathoon
 31 March 2014 08:04 PM
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Ipayyoursalary

Posts: 265
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DrHirst wrote:

> Yet a similar calamity to wind is inconceivable

How about the regular low wind events that cover the UK? Far from being inconceivable we regularly lose all output from the entire UK wind fleet. The John Muir trust report on UK wind output from 2008-10 found it was:

- below 20% capacity more than half the time
- below 10% capacity over one third of the time
- below 2.5% capacity for one day in twelve
- below 1.25% capacity for one day a month.

Imagine if a conventional powerstation produce those stats. It would be shut down as a lemon faster than you can say 'bogus weather scaremongering subsidy farmers'.
 31 March 2014 09:49 PM
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westonpa

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Originally posted by: jarathoon
To assign £30 billion of public loan guarantees so that certain favoured energy companies are allowed to double the real terms cost of electricity they sell into the market; to use the law of the land to lock-in these high energy prices, index linked for another 35 years, using secret contracts (the public will never get to see and scrutinise); the only possible explanation for this conduct is seriously stupid, utterly corrupt or just plain mad.

James, James, James what are we to do with you. Now come on my good man drop this constant bickering against our political leaders. It's not their money they are wasting, it's ours, so it really does not matter. Today's mistakes will simply lead to Lordships later on.....all these political leaders are the same; get yourself elected and get on board the gravy train......High Speed to Westminster GT2.

Regards.
 01 April 2014 03:51 PM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1033
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westonpa,

At the recent "IET Nuclear engineering for safety, control and security" meeting nr Bristol, I mentioned this plan "Buying Nuclear Electricity from EDF the Cheap Way" to a senior engineering manager as part of a question put in front of over a hundred nuclear engineers there.

The response wasn't nearly as negative as it could have been, given EDF has so much riding on Hinkley Point C.

EDF is set currently on a plan costing £16 billion for 3.2 GW of power from two new EPR nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point C. Over 35 year contract that's a maximum of 90 GW years of electricity at more than twice the current market rate (assuming 80% utilisation or capacity factor).

For my plan redirecting 8GW of French nuclear for twenty years from 2020 to 2040, will give us 128 GW years of electricity at the market rate (assuming 80% utilisation or capacity factor). [Nuclear capacity that would otherwise be shut down under President Hollandes plan]

£16 billion Budget realocated
Lets say 8 GW of new interconnectors across the channel to supply the Greater London metropolis costs £8 billion. Lets say the budget for life extending the nuclear plants costs £4 billion. We have £4 billion left to help fund a new Generation IV nuclear programme over the next 20 years. This money will be enough to leverage in substatial investment from abroad.

Consumers get cheaper electricity and we get to invest in our future energy supplies. Its a "Win. Win." as the marketing professionals like to say.

Why buy electricity at twice the market rate for the next 20 years if we don't have to?

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James Arathoon
 01 April 2014 07:03 PM
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westonpa

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"Why buy electricity at twice the market rate for the next 20 years if we don't have to?"

In the world of politics normal logic does not apply; often there are deals going on in the background which senior politicians do not tell the public about, hence we cannot often understand their logic. I am not a politician and agree with your point; let's however see if it gains any traction with the political leaders.

Regards.
 01 April 2014 07:30 PM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1033
Joined: 05 September 2004

There are apparently lots of politicians (in all three main political parties), and also civil servants, that want to pay twice as much as needed for their baseload electricity (and also want to pay loads of money to maintain a new energy welfare system to support our energy intensive industries once electricity prices are doubled).

My plan Buying Nuclear Electricity from EDF the Cheap Way will disappoint some rich and powerful people at the centre of government and they will fight tooth and nail to stop it from happening. However unlike them I believe in individual freedom of choice. Therefore I propose a new retail energy sales company be set up just for them, called the "Double-Dealing Electricity Crown Corporation" (or DDECC for short [not to be confused with DECC, even though DECC's trading philosophy is at its core]).

It needs to be a crony capitalist corporation by design, with crown immunity, so that it can't be taken to court for ripping off customers that sign up to its uncompetitive tariffs by mistake.


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James Arathoon
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