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New-build projects are making progress, but governments are still struggling with finding the right financing package for large reactors The delayed Flamanville-3 is one of three EPR units under construction in Europe. The others are at Olkiluoto in Finland and Hinkley Point in the UK. Photo courtesy EDF. Western Europe

The UK is facing a major challenge to replace its aging fleet of Generation I nuclear power plants, many of which are scheduled to shut down in 2023.

The project by French state utility EDF to build two Generation III EPR units at Hinkley Point C in Somerset is on track for connection to the grid by 2025. Once in commercial operation the two units will provide up to 7% of the total electricity demand. Two similar units are planned for the Sizewell site in Suffolk.

However, press reports have suggested EDF is in “a race against time” to secure a funding deal for Sizewell C as delays risk making the project prohibitively expensive.

According to The Times newspaper EDF has hired Rothschild as financial adviser for the project and says it wants a “definitive way forward” from the government this year so it can start construction in 2022.

Date: Friday, 17 January 2020
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Low-carbon nuclear is an essential component of a low-carbon economy, says industry group The Brussels-based nuclear industry group Foratom has welcomed the EU’s goal of providing financial support to coal-dependant regions to help them in their decarbonisation efforts, but said it regrets the European Commission’s proposal to exclude such funds being used for nuclear plants.

The funding proposal is part of the commission’s “just transition mechanism” (JTM), details of which were announced on Tuesday along with €1 trillion in funding for the European Green Deal, which was adopted by the commission last month and sets out ambitious climate and environmental objectives for the bloc.

The JTM, and an associated just transition fund, was one of the proposals in the Green Deal, which is the major initiative in the bloc’s efforts to become zero-carbon by 2050.

The total investment expected to be mobilised under the proposed JTM will be €100bn over 2021-2027 with financing coming from the EU budget, co-financing from member states, EU regional aid programmes and the European Investment Bank, the commission said.

Date: Thursday, 16 January 2020
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Sweden has been a great nation for many decades thanks, not to military might nor financial muscle, but to its energy policy. A leader in sustainable development, the country undeniably proved that it is possible to cut emissions dramatically and increase living standards. And it proved this long before climate change became the political issue it is today, write Agneta Rising and John Lindberg, respectively, director general and writer & analyst at World Nuclear Association.

Date: Tuesday, 14 January 2020
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Industry group and IEA have warned of supply problems as reactors are shut down The Mühleberg nuclear power station in Switzerland. Photo courtesyy BKW. The single-unit Mühleberg nuclear power plant in Switzerland ended generation after 47 years in operation on 20 December 2019, utility BKW confirmed.

The company said work on dismantling the 373-MW boiling water reactor unit will begin on 6 January 2020. It will be the first decommissioning of a commercial power reactor in Switzerland.

Since its commissioning on 6 November 1972, the plant has generated about 130 billion kW hours of electricity, which would cover the current consumption of a city such as Bern for more than 100 years.

Plant availability of more than 90% has enabled this, through continual investment by BKW in retrofitting and plant safety, BKW said. “This means that Mühleberg faces deactivation at its highest technological peak.”

The company said financing for the decommissioning and disposal of radioactive waste is in place. BKW will cover the costs, estimated at about 3 billion Swiss francs (€2.7bn, $3bn), in their entirety.

Date: Saturday, 28 December 2019
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European Union (EU) lawmakers and member countries on 16 December agreed on a deal to promote environmentally-friendly investment after weeks of discussions on whether to exclude nuclear projects.

Date: Friday, 20 December 2019
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The pursuit of a solution to climate change via the route of fossil gas is a needless and harmful detour, writes Agneta Rising, director general of World Nuclear Association.

Date: Friday, 20 December 2019
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Climate scientist James E Hansen and others have written to the Financial Times, making the case for the inclusion of nuclear power in the EU Sustainable Finance Taxonomy. The text of the letter, published yesterday, and the list of signatories to it, follows.

Date: Wednesday, 18 December 2019
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The nuclear industry took part in the UN climate talks this week at a time when the subject is no longer merely climate change, but climate emergency. At a side-event organised by Nuclear for Climate, panellists described how nuclear power is an essential part of the global response to that emergency.

Date: Saturday, 07 December 2019
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