Tuesday, June 16, 2020

GWPF Newsletter: Britain Goes Nuclear As Rolls-Royce Triggers £250 Billion Mini Reactor Race

China Threatens To Pull Plug On New British Nuclear Power Plants

In this newsletter:

1) Britain Goes Nuclear As Rolls-Royce Triggers £250 Billion Mini Reactor Race
Mail on Sunday, 14 June 2020

2) China Threatens To Pull Plug On New British Nuclear Power Plants
The Sunday Times, 7 June 2020

3) China Plans To Dominate The Global Nuclear Energy Push
Haley Zaremba,, 3 June 2020

4) Europe’s Green Deal May Get Watered Down As Poorer Nations Lobby For Fossil Fuel Power
Euro News, 11 June 2020

5) Green Poverty: German Electricity Prices Have More Than Doubled Since 2000
No Tricks Zone, 14 June 2020

6) Europe’s Green Deal Is A Rotten Deal For Farmers
Marcus Holtkoetter, Farm Journal Ag Web, 14 June 2020
7) Francis Menton: Next Up In The Stupidest Litigation In The US: The Science?
Manhattan Contrarian, 11 June 2020

8) Collapsology: The Rise Of A New Doomsday Cult & The Return Of The Dark Ages
The Sunday Telegraph, 14 June 2020

Full details:

1) Britain Goes Nuclear As Rolls-Royce Triggers £250 Billion Mini Reactor Race
Mail on Sunday, 14 June 2020

A consortium of British businesses led by manufacturing giant Rolls-Royce has submitted proposals to Ministers to accelerate the building of a new fleet of mini nuclear reactors in the North of England. 

The plans, circulated in Whitehall ‘in the last few weeks’, could see construction of high-tech factories to build the small reactors begin by next year. 

The consortium – which includes UK construction and engineering firms Laing O’Rourke, Atkins and BAM Nuttall – would use British intellectual property to build the reactors. It would work with partners from the US, Canada and France.

It has been estimated that exporting small nuclear reactor technology could be worth £250billion to the UK if the programme is successful.

Sources told The Mail on Sunday that the plan is ‘starting to resonate’ in parts of Government because it could boost the economy as the country recovers from the destruction wrought by the pandemic.

Figures last week showed the economy contracted by 20.4 per cent in April and job losses in the travel, hospitality and retail sectors are mounting.

Sixteen Rolls-Royce-backed reactors, each able to power a city the size of Leeds, could be built by 2050. The project would employ 40,000 people.

Hundreds of related jobs would be created this year if the Government gives the green light.

The plan to deliver British-made nuclear reactors would help the Government to meet the UK’s commitment to shift to clean energy by 2050.

It would also appeal to Tory MPs keen to reduce Britain’s reliance on China. Chinese firms are currently appointed to build large nuclear reactors in Britain at locations including Sizewell in Suffolk and Bradwell in Essex.

However, there are growing concerns among senior Tories about Chinese influence over critical infrastructure in the UK. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has indicated his intention to distance the UK from China economically, amid talk of phasing out Huawei’s involvement in Britain’s new 5G mobile internet network.

Meanwhile, Chancellor Rishi Sunak is under pressure to announce measures to boost the economy in his mini-Budget next month and in his full-blown recovery Budget pencilled in for the autumn. Formal backing from the Government would propel the project into activity, says Tom Samson, interim chief executive of the consortium.

He told The Mail on Sunday: ‘We could be looking at locations and beginning to build factories as soon as next year with modules [to build the reactors] starting to come out of the factories by 2024 or 2025.

‘We’ve got over 100 people today working on the programme. It could generate hundreds more jobs even this year. As soon as we get the signal we’ll be able to start ramping up our activities on engineering, planning and project management.’

The so-called small modular reactors (SMR) would be manufactured piece by piece in factories before being transported to approved sites for assembly.

The production line process allows reactors to be built more cheaply. It is understood that the cost of building each one will fall to £1.8billion after the first handful are constructed.

The rollout plans submitted to officials require £500 million of funding with the Government putting up half. That investment would follow an initial outlay of £36 million made last year, with half provided by Government.

Samson said the plan ‘could deliver near-term economic benefits as part of the economic recovery’. He said: ‘We can do a number of things in parallel. We can develop the technology, we can be preparing sites to host the SMR across the UK, we can also look at where the factories could be and start to look at what commitments are needed to commence construction.’

Most of Britain’s eight large-scale nuclear power plants are due to close within a decade. The sites under consideration for the new project include Moorside in Cumbria and Wylfa in North Wales, where plans for future large reactor projects were recently shelved.

Samson said: ‘We want to become a champion of that clean energy space and I think, equally compelling, is the potential to connect the SMR programme to the production of industrial heat applications, synthetic fuels and aviation fuels being deployed in our engines, not just to provide energy into the grid.

‘It’s not unrealistic for us to be focusing on bringing on the first unit by 2029.

Full story

see also GWPF report on the UK’s troubled Small Modular Reactor (SMR) policy

2) China Threatens To Pull Plug On New British Nuclear Power Plants
The Sunday Times, 7 June 2020

Britain is on a collision course with China after Boris Johnson approved plans last week to build up alternatives to Huawei in the 5G network, a move that caused a heated cabinet split in the government’s most secret committee.

China’s ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, has privately fired a warning shot at the government, telling business leaders that abandoning Huawei could undermine plans for Chinese companies to build nuclear power plants and the HS2 high-speed rail network. Government officials dismissed the comments as “sabre-rattling”.

In a recent briefing Liu signalled that the decision over Huawei was being seen in Beijing as “a litmus test of whether Britain is a true and faithful partner of China”, words interpreted as a threat by those listening.

China has a minority share in nuclear power plants at Hinkley Point in Somerset and Sizewell C in Suffolk, both in partnership with EDF of France. But China General Nuclear Power Corporation also hopes to build its own nuclear reactor at Bradwell in Essex, a deal that a full-blown diplomatic war could put in doubt.

Liu’s comments came as the National Security Council (NSC) signed off plans to work with Britain’s Five Eyes intelligence partners to build western alternatives to Huawei.

Full story (£)

3) China Plans To Dominate The Global Nuclear Energy Push
Haley Zaremba,, 3 June 2020

China is on track to take over the global nuclear energy industry over the next ten years. 

China has big plans for the nation’s nuclear energy sector. While the nuclear energy targets set by Beijing have been massively delayed, the nation is still on track to take over the global nuclear energy industry over the next ten years.

While the devastating spread of COVID-19 in China starting late last year has undoubtedly had a negative impact on the country’s energy industry ambitions, however, the biggest setbacks for the Chinese nuclear energy industry can actually be attributed to the Fukushima nuclear disaster that took place in Japan in 2011, which has made it far more difficult and time-intensive to approve new atomic energy projects. A three-year freeze on new nuclear plant approvals only just ended last year, which “has thinned the pipeline for this decade, according to BloombergNEF’s lead nuclear analyst, Chris Gadomski.”

Despite the fact that China will, in all likelihood, miss its target number of 58 gigawatts of nuclear energy by the end of this year, its capacity is still likely to increase exponentially in the coming decade. Researchers from the Chinese government have published numbersthat show that the nation’s “nuclear capacity could more than double to 130 gigawatts by 2030” as summarized in a Bloomberg Green article from this week. That being said, the national Chinese energy mix will still “heavily feature coal and other fossil fuels.”

In fact, 130 gigawatts of nuclear power only represents 10% of national power generation, but even a proportionately small amount of energy in China makes a big impact on a global scale due to the sheer size of the nation’s energy industry.

“Such is China’s heft in energy markets,” Bloomberg Green writes to put it in perspective, “[130 gigawatts of nuclear power] would still save the amount of carbon that Germany emits annually from burning coal, oil, and gas.”

And with this 10%, China will quickly rise through the ranks of the world’s top nuclear energy producers. “GlobalData Plc predicts that China will pass France as the world’s No. 2 nuclear generator in 2022 and claim the top spot from the U.S. four years after that,” says Bloomberg Green. To understand just how big of a deal it is for any country to unseat the United States as the world’s top nuclear energy producer, you have to understand that the U.S. is responsible for fully one-third of the entire world’s nuclear energy supply.

But China is gunning for them. The country already had “almost 49 gigawatts installed as of 2019 and should get into the mid-fifties this year,” reports Bloomberg Green. “At the annual parliamentary meeting in Beijing that ended last week, delegates suggested China should start construction on 6 to 8 reactors a year.”

This will also play nicely into China’s post-corona employment initiatives, as “a typical 1-gigawatt reactor could create 50,000 jobs, according to one company official.”

What’s more, the United States’ nuclear energy industry is shrinking. It’s in major trouble and it has been for quite a while. “In the United States, the common sentiment about the nuclear industry is that it is doomed,” Oilprice reported last year.

“As cheap natural gas prices out nuclear, more and more plants are going offline, and many of those that are hanging on are doing so in large part thanks to sizeable government subsidies. And then there is the crushing cost of nuclear waste management that is already weighing on taxpayers and will only get worse.”

This week, in a plea for the United States to step up its nuclear efforts to maintain its “atomic edge,” RealClear Energy wrote that “The huge reactors we are used to seeing need to relicense again or they will shutter. While these reactors were initially licensed in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, they are still producing 55 percent of clean energy in America. If that fleet goes, so too does demand for fuel, which led the Administration to establish the Nuclear Fuel Working Group on how to maintain this vital national asset.”

Full post

4) Europe’s Green Deal May Get Watered Down As Poorer Nations Lobby For Fossil Fuel Power
Euro News, 11 June 2020

At the end of May 2020, eight EU countries (Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece) started lobbying to retain EU funds for natural gas projects.

They say that without natural gas, coal can’t be phased out in time to meet short and middle term climate targets.

From this, environmental groups are worried that Europe’s Green Deal is being watered down.

In earlier communications on the proposal, the European Commission called to phase out support for fossil fuels completely. Now the official line is: natural gas continues to play a key role in replacing coal.

Climate activists like Marcus Trilling from Climate Action Network want a block on any funding for natural gas from EU coronavirus recovery funds.

“We see the lobbying of the fossil fuel industry as well on the highest level in the commission, which still until today was not able to clearly say we don’t provide fossil fuel subsidies from the EU sources anymore,” says Trilling.

These are “investment decisions which are shaping the infrastructure, the economy of the decades to come. If I am now investing in fossil gas, then I am locking in emissions in those decades to come,” he went on.

Romanian Liberal Member of the European Parliament Dragoș Tudorache says investing in natural gas infrastructure is not a waste of money.

“Moving straight away from coal to something that is completely fossil fuel independent is impossible if you don’t transit through something. And that transition, unless other technology becomes available, is natural gas. Of course, this in time also has to be made sustainable in terms of our green goals. And there are technologies right now where hydrogen is expected to replace gradually natural gas and of course that has to be part of the projects that we are developing,” the MEP said.

Full story

5) Green Poverty: German Electricity Prices Have More Than Doubled Since 2000
No Tricks Zone, 14 June 2020

Taxes, charges and levies have tripled since 2000. German government charges now account for more than half of the electricity price.

German online site Stromreport writes that since the year 2000 the average electricity price for private households has risen from 13.94 to 30.43 euro cents per kilowatt hour (2019).

German electricity prices for households are among the highest worldwide.


The price increase has little to do with demand or markets, but almost everything to do with government interference.

According to Stromreport, “Taxes, charges and levies have tripled since 2000 [from 5.19 to 16 cents]. In total, German government charges now account for more than half of the electricity price [52.5%].”

Electricity becoming a luxury

Annually hundreds of thousands of German households see their power cut off due to unpaid power bills. For example in 2018, the Tagesspiegel here reported: “In the past year, almost 344,000 households in Germany had their electricity turned off. This is according to the monitoring report of the Federal Network Agency on the electricity market.”

Of course the high prices hit the poor the hardest.

Full post

6) Europe’s Green Deal Is A Rotten Deal For Farmers
Marcus Holtkoetter, Farm Journal Ag Web, 14 June 2020

For farmers – and everybody – the European Green Deal is a rotten deal.

The European Commission has a plan to eliminate modern farming in Europe.

The details emerged last month, as part of a “European Green Deal” announced late last year that calls for the continent to become “climate neutral” by 2050.

The commission speaks of “turning climate and environmental challenges into opportunities.” It also talks about “making the transition just and inclusive for all.”
It should have added three words: “except for farmers.”

That’s because the EU Commission just released its “Farm to Fork” strategy, which is the agricultural portion of the European Green Deal. It announces a series of unrealistic goals: In the next decade, farmers like me are supposed to slash our use of crop-protection products by half, cut our application of fertilizer by 20 percent, and transform a quarter of total farmland into organic production.

None of this, of course, is supposed to disrupt anybody’s dinner.

Europeans are blessed to live in a well-fed society. We have stable governments, reliable infrastructure, and advanced economies. We also have some of the best farmland in the world, with good soil and strong yields, year after year. Through intensive farming, we achieve excellent results—and we don’t face the problems of hunger and malnutrition that plague less fortunate people in other societies.

What the European Commission now proposes, essentially, is smaller harvests. For consumers, this will lead directly to one thing: Higher prices. Food will cost more.

There’s also a deeper problem. How are farmers supposed to make a living when we’re growing fewer crops and selling less food? The commission fails to consider one of the most likely results of its misbegotten approach to agriculture: When farmers can’t turn a profit, they’ll quit farming.

If that happens, the smaller harvests will shrink even further.

This defies what the commission says is its major goal, which is to make “the EU’s economy sustainable.” It needs to understand that there is no such thing as economic sustainability without a sustainable economy.

Full post

7) Francis Menton: Next Up In The Stupidest Litigation In The US: The Science?
Manhattan Contrarian, 11 June 2020

Facing law-fare, the oil companies are coming to the point when they can’t duck the issue of dodgy climate science.

For some reason I haven’t seen much about this even on climate-focused websites; but in late May one of the litigations that I have named as being among the stupidest in the country, and which had been dismissed by the trial court, got reversed and reinstated by the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

What next? The defendants — who are five major oil companies — had managed to get the two related cases dismissed at the trial court level on purely procedural grounds, without ever having occasion to address the merits of whether the so-called “settled science” of greenhouse-gas induced catastrophic climate change is complete baloney. Now they are running out of such procedural defenses. If they are not going to just concede the cases and fork over billions of dollars, it now looks like they will likely need to attack the fake science.

I don’t know that they will. But I do know that they soon may not have much choice.

I’ll begin with a relatively thorough history of these cases so far. Back in 2017, the Cities of San Francisco and Oakland in California, at the urging and with the assistance of environmental activist outside lawyers, filed cases in the California state courts alleging common law tort claims for “nuisance” against five major oil companies (Exxon, Chevron, BP, Conoco and Shell). A “nuisance” claim is the kind of thing you can bring against your neighbor for, for example, having a smoke stack that dumps large amounts of toxic ash on your house. In the Oakland and San Francisco cases, the theory is that all burning of fossil fuels constitutes a “nuisance” because of contribution to global warming. In their complaints, the plaintiffs paint horrible scenarios of impending environmental doom from the burning of fossil fuels produced by the defendants, including sea level rise that supposedly would soon swamp these coastal cities.

The oil companies could have chosen at that point to defend on the ground that the so-called “science” behind these scenarios of doom was fake. But these defendants have shown time and again that they are scared to death of the media pushback (CLIMATE DENIERS!!!) that they will face should they make any effort to go after the fake science. So instead of that tack, the defendants embarked on a series of procedural maneuvers.

First, they “removed” the cases to federal court. If you get sued in state court, you can “remove” the case into federal court if you can meet certain criteria, one of which is that the claims against you arise under federal rather than state law. The plaintiff cities in these cases had carefully crafted their claims to arise under state law rather than federal; but the defendants argued that the federal environmental laws and the federal Clean Air Act pre-empted the field, and that any claim against them in this area was of necessity federal, whether it said so or not. On removal, the cases landed in the federal Northern District of California before a Judge Alsup. The plaintiffs moved to send the case back to state court because the claims were state claims; and the defendants moved to dismiss the cases on the ground that the “nuisance” theory did not stand up under the federal environmental law.

Full post

8) Collapsology: The Rise Of A New Doomsday Cult & The Return Of The Dark Ages
The Sunday Telegraph, 14 June 2020

The French flock to the philosophy of ‘collapsology’ in record numbers. The movement, based on a book by Jared Diamond, holds that civilisation is heading towards impending collapse.

France’s coronavirus epidemic has sparked an explosion of interest in la collapsologie – a Gallic take on the end of the world — with a rising number of converts seeking advice on how to prepare for the impending demise of civilisation as we know it.

The movement, which even France’s prime minister Edouard Philippe, has confessed “gnaws at me more than people think”, is based on the assumption that climate change, declining resources and the extinction of species is driving the world to its destruction at an alarming rate.

The bulk of its ranks come from left-leaning urbanites with at least one university degree. Inspired by the American author and academic Jared Diamond’s 2005 bestseller Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, “collapsology” had already captured the French imagination prior to the pandemic; some 65 per cent said they believe civilisation could go under in the coming years, according to a recent poll. The UK figure was 56 per cent.

But since France went into nationwide confinement, requests to join Facebook groups and training courses have rocketed as collapsologists claim the pandemic is a clear sign that the “thermo-industrial” era is in its death throes.

One of its high priests, Yves Cochet, a former French environment minister who gave up city life for rural self-sufficiency in Brittany with a horse and cart for transport, had predicted collapse to commence by 2030. “Well, well, it’s happening even faster than we thought,” he told Le Monde, adding that he had expected the first stage to be a petrol crisis or climate event.

“Lots of people were in denial”, said Loïc Steffan, an economist and author of Don’t Be Scared of Collapse, whose Facebook page “The happy collapso” gained 5,000 new members during confinement to approach 30,000 in total. Denial is a classic first phase in a process collapsologists call “metanoia”, or “finally believing in what one already knew”, he told France Info.

“With Covid, the realisation that our societies are fragile brutally is coming to the fore. A tiny virus is able to bring the world to its knees, the hyper-connectedness of the world poses a problem… mental protection strategies are starting to crumble,” he claimed.

Covid-19 doesn’t herald the total collapse of the state and rule of law but rather a “dress rehearsal, a sort of stress-test that has allowed us to see what worked or not,” he said. Unlike survivalists, who want to run for the hills, collapsologists believe in helping each other to improve group resilience. “It’s the same starting point but not the same response.

The collapsologist wants to save society. The survivalist is an individualist,” said Mr Steffan, a self-professed optimist.

A growing number of French urban dwellers are now seeking to settle in the countryside. Frédérique Porquet will next month leave the Val d’Oise near Paris for the country with her husband and daughters in order “to be ready” and not “depend on supermarkets given what happened for a month at the start of the epidemic, because what’s for sure, we saw it with our own eyes, it was everyone for themselves”.

Demand to learn how to become a collapsologist is also rising, according to Rémi Richart, an IT expert who has been living a self-sufficient, low-carbon life with his wife and three children in the rural Cantal for 10 years.  They have a pedal-driven washing machine and solar oven. Their course teaching “resilience” without depending on a society “on the brink” is already full this summer and the phone doesn’t stop ringing. “Lots of people are in a hurry,” he told Le Figaro.

Full story (£)

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at

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