"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Nuclear Power fading ...?

German utility, Energie Baden-Württemberg (EnBW) announced the final closure today, after 36 yrs service, of of the country’s oldest working nuclear power plant, the 357Mw Obrigheim unit. The plant was one of most efficient in Germany operating between 80% and 95% capacity and supplying over 350,000 consumers. Baden-Württemberg relies on nuclear power for 56% of it's power and will be looking to import energy from French nuclear power stations. Tanja Gönner BW's Environment Minster says (Reuters) she wants a discussion on the possible lengthening of running times of EnBW's remaining nuclear facilities in Baden-Württemberg.

The company will dismantle the unit in three stages by 2023, under part of a nationwide deal by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats and their environmentalist Green partners (The so called Red/Green partners) in the ruling coalition, in to close all of Germany’s nuclear units by 2021.

Under the terms of this complicated 2001 deal, nuclear generators are permitted to produce a total of 2623TWh and operators had used up 31% of their remaining nuclear allowance by the end of 2004, according to the country’s radiation office (BfS).The 18 remaining nuclear plants are left to generate 1829TWh of power, +/- 15 years of production, given that the 18 remaining German nuclear plants generated about 158TWh in 2004.

The Stade plant a 630-megawatt unit owned by E.ON, in northern Germany was put out of service in November 2003.

These closures must be seen against a rise in German wholesale power prices of more than 30% in the past year, as rising coal, natural gas and oil prices and the introduction of a market for carbon-dioxide emissions this year pushed up costs for generators. Power prices have soared to a record 39.50 euros a megawatt-hour on , compared with 31 euros 12 months ago.

Germany's dominant partnership of E.ON AG and RWE AG, increased domestic prices for domestic and industrial users by between 4 percent and 10 percent - and they did with UK customers also. The German association of power consumers VIK , a consumer lobby group, has calculated additional costs for industrial users, totalling about 900 Mn euros next year for energy.

To the 20,000 MW of nuclear power Germany is committed to replacing (unless they reverse the decision) the country has another 20,000 MW capacity to build ,as elderly coal and lignite fired power units, reach the limit of their economic operating life. Some observers claim Germany, Europe's largest power consumer, will need to invest a total of about 40 billion euros by 2020 to replace a third of its installed capacity.

Scandinavian slimming down on course

Sweden’s 600MWe Barsebäck No 2 Boiling Water reactor (BWR) (Barsebäck is situated in the south of Sweden 19 km from Copenhagen) is due to follow the 1999 closure of its unit 1 by shutting down at the end of May. (No demolition work can start on Unit 1 until 2 is out of operation)This is operated by Vattenfall subsidiary Barsebäck Kraft, the facility is majority-owned by Vattenfall with Sydkraft (construction of two ASEA BWRs at Barsebäck commenced 1970)as minority partner through nuclear holding company Ringhalsgruppen.

Barsebäck Kraft, claim the reactor is in excellent condition and that 2004 was the best production year so far in the plant’s life.This mirrors US experience where production output increases annually with improved production efficiencies constantly being acheived.

However ...In 2004 about half of the electricity in Sweden was generated with nuclear power.

In 2005 Sweden's decades-long commitment to phasing out nuclear power is looking ever less likely to be carried through. Scandinavian media report that the four-party centre-right opposition alliance is now prepared to keep all but one of Sweden's existing nuclear power plants running. Meanwhile, the centre-left Social Democrat (SDP) government has reportedly approved a 1,65 billion Euro modernisation programme to increase generating capacity at seven of Sweden's ten remaining reactors

Vattenfall is in deep talks with the Swedish government over compensation for the closure despite a great deal of pressure from Swedish industry and finacing organisation, to reverse the decision. While the government and Vattenfall have a framework compensation agreement from the closure of Barsebäck 1 in late 1999 and the parameters for compensation for closure of Barsebäck 2, there are still issues to be resolved.

Sydkraft is to be compensated for the closure with additional shares in Ringhalsgruppen, decreasing Vattenfall’s stake for which the company will require extra compensation. In addition, the loss of revenue related to projected power prices up to 2017, when Barsebäck would have been running for 40 years !

So the Swedes pay the money but don't get the energy ? .....Meanwhile next door the Finns surge ahead with their new power station, the first to be built in the EU for many years.

In the UK, post election, secret plans are evidently advanced to prepare the public for the building over the next 10/15 years of up to ten power stations based on an original german gas cooled reactor, using pebble bed which has been further developed in China and South Africa.

So far it looks as though BNFL in conjunction with US based energy interests will develop a design licensed from China for a pebble bed design - but don't expect the Government to tell you that...the door is still open...decisions haven't been made...blah..blah..

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