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Chinese Seek Greater Say In UK Nuclear Plants

samzenpus posted 1 year,28 days | from the who's-paying-the-bill dept.

United Kingdom 148

mdsolar writes in with news about negotiations between the Chinese and the UK over nuclear power plant investments. "The state-owned Chinese nuclear group that is in talks to invest in Britain's new nuclear program wants greater operational control of any new plants it finances, potentially creating a national security headache for the government. China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN), is in talks with EDF of France on sharing the cost of building a new plant at Hinkley Point, Somerset, which has an estimated price tag of £14bn. But CGN has made it clear to EDF that it will only proceed if it is given more of a say in running other plants the two companies build together in the UK, according to people familiar with the talks."

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Does the UK get any say? (4, Funny)

hawkinspeter (831501) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738043)

So, it has come to this.

Re:Does the UK get any say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44738097)

Of course not. We're just here to pay the taxes and do as we're godd*mn told. I assume you're not British?

Re:Does the UK get any say? (1)

hawkinspeter (831501) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738219)

Unfortunately, I am British (English to be more specific).

Re:Does the UK get any say? (1)

Eunuchswear (210685) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738337)

Unfortunately, I am British (English to be more specific).

Yup, that's unfortunate.

My comisserations.

Re:Does the UK get any say? (2)

hawkinspeter (831501) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738407)

I'm not sure who I mistrust more: the UK or China. At least if it's China that causes a meltdown then we'll be free to discuss it without having terrorist laws used against us.

Thanks for your sympathy - on the bright side, we get to put 'u' in random words (e.g. colour) and can use 's' instead of 'z' when we want to.

Re:Does the UK get any say? (2)

interval1066 (668936) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738637)

At least if it's China that causes a meltdown then we'll be free to discuss it without having terrorist laws used against us.

No, they'll just send you to prison when you see an infrastructure project collapse due to faulty materials [homelandse...wswire.com] .

Re:Does the UK get any say? (5, Interesting)

daem0n1x (748565) | 1 year,28 days | (#44739149)

I'm from another European country. Our electricity used to be supplied by a State-owned company. A few decades ago, the neoliberals in the European Union told the neoliberals in my government that states shouldn't have a presence in the economy, because it goes against the Holy Dogmas of His Sanctity the Free Market. So the company was split in shares and privatised.

The pundits and politicians on TV always told us that the whole purpose was to create "competition". This would magically drop the costs to the consumer and bring better service, blah, blah, blah. 20 years gone by, and instead of buying electricity from a state company, we buy it from a bullyish private-owned monopolistic behemoth. The only "advantage" we got from the privatisation were skyrocketing prices. And a lot less money going into the State coffers to be reinvested in infrastructure, or education, or health care, whatever. Instead, it's being funnelled to private pockets, to be "reinvested" in yachts, whores and coke. Not only our state is not taking any money from the company, it pays it huge rents for all kinds of bullshit services, like "guaranteed power" and whatever.

It seems pretty obvious to any sane person what was going to happen. I mean, it's electricity. What competition can you get from that? I get home, I flick a switch, lights are on. I don't want to think about it, I don't even care who the fuck supplies my electricity. I don't even understand the business model. What happens if I change supplier? Does a guy come to my apartment with a huge reel of cable and sets up a direct connection to a power plant? My country is fucking tiny! What kind competition is possible?

Recently a Chinese company, detained 100% by the Chinese State, came and bought a big participation in the electricity company, getting to control it. And, voilà! According to the neoliberals, our State can't own our companies. But apparently, the Chinese State can! So, one of the most critical and strategic sectors in our economy is owned by a foreign country, and we're their bitches, now. I can't make up my mind if it's better or worse to be the bitch of private corporations but, at least, it would be less hypocritical.

Now they're seeking to privatise water. Go ahead. What can possibly go wrong?

Re:Does the UK get any say? (5, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738139)

Does the UK get any say?

It's a time-honored tradition that the developing country gets screwed by the rich foreign investors. ;-) So no, that would be ridiculous and unprecedented.

Re:Does the UK get any say? (2)

golden age villain (1607173) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738383)

As a London resident, I wish foreign companies had more of a say in the development and maintenance of UK infrastructures. Maybe then the transformer in the street below my apartment would not have spontaneously combusted and exploded some days ago. Anyway they had apparently already abandoned the control of their nuclear plants to the French. How much worse can it possibly get?

Re:Does the UK get any say? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738969)

Given the closeness of France and the prevailing wind direction I suspect the French wouldn't like a reactor in Britain to go bang.

I wouldn't trust the tiddlies with a firecracker.

Re:Does the UK get any say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44738909)

missed the point they can ask for anything they like, we dont have to give them it.

through the shower of shits that make up our political ruling class will sell out again as long as they get their snouts in the trough.

Re:Does the UK get any say? (4, Insightful)

infolation (840436) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738171)

China does have a fair point here, and that's speaking as a UK citizen, and not trying to play the devil's advocate. The UK has had a history of terrible management in pseudo-private sector enterprises since the 1960s, from British Leyland to British Rail.

Nuclear power in the UK has, so far, been a loss-making enterprise, kept afloat only by government subsidies, and looks set to continue in this way. If I was any overseas investor looking to protect my money, China included, I'd want to make damn sure my investment wasn't just being used to reduce the UK's subsidy.

Re:Does the UK get any say? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44738213)

What reason exactly would China want to have control? To reduce costs, of course. There is no other reason. And this will logically lead to limiting the government's oversight ability. The UK would be fucking idiots if they agreed to this. It would be like letting the US set the safety standards for drilling in the North Sea because Exxon was financing a rig. Fuck that!

Re:Does the UK get any say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44738303)

So your suggestion is that costs should keep on rising because increased costs are always correlated with increased quality? Britain of the 1970s would like to have a word.

Re:Does the UK get any say? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44738439)

If China didn't have such an atrocious safety record:
http://inventorspot.com/articles/economic_boom_7_things_china_unexpectedly_explode
http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2009/06/29/shanghai-building-collapses-nearly-intact/
http://www.businessinsider.com/china-bridge-collapses-2012-8?op=1 "Look At All The Major Chinese Bridges That Have Collapsed In The Recent Years"
http://www.fda.gov/animalveterinary/safetyhealth/recallswithdrawals/ucm129575.htm (pet food tainted by melamine)
http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/m/melamine/index.html (baby food tainted by melamine)
http://www.businessinsider.com/china-water-pollution-2013-3?op=1 "If You Think China's Air Is Bad, You Should See The Water"

The list just keeps on going. I would not want people from China applying Chinese corner-cutting business practices to anything nuclear, oil&gas or food related (see all of the above)

Re:Does the UK get any say? (2)

cusco (717999) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738827)

The Chinese economy and its infrastructure expansion is several times the size of England's. Take the various British infrastructure fiascoes and multiply by many, many times and then see how the numbers compare.

Re:Does the UK get any say? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44738243)

Do you still want no say in operation when safety measure are cut to protect your 'investment'? Why is Chinese government* even allowed to operate a nuclear plant in the UK?

*Don't fool yourself, every Chinese corporation is a branch of the CCP. And this is not a 'racist' rant against China, I consider American corporation to also be a branch of the U.S. government. Ask Edward Snowden about it.

Re:Does the UK get any say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44738491)

I agree with you sentiment but I believe you have it the wrong way round - The U.S. government. is the debt collection / enforment branch of US corporations

Re:Does the UK get any say? (2)

FireFury03 (653718) | 1 year,28 days | (#44739279)

Do you still want no say in operation when safety measure are cut to protect your 'investment'?

I would like people with some understanding of the job at hand to have a say. However, the vast vast majority has _no_ understanding of this stuff, react to what the papers/environmentalists/whoever say, and their voices drown out those who know what they're talking about. So my only conclusion is that no, maybe the public shouldn't have a say - it should be down to the experts. The trick there, unfortunately, is how to ensure that decisions are made by neutral experts rather than people with a vested financial interest in one thing or another (most of the MPs have their fingers in lots of the pies that they have to vote on... and they don't declare this of abstain from votes when they have a conflict of interest).

Why is Chinese government* even allowed to operate a nuclear plant in the UK?

Because consecutive governments have chosen not to make a decision on the future of British energy because they know that *all* the choices are unpopular. By the time crunch time had been and gone and a decision was long overdue, the inaction of the government had basically ensured that the UK had no nuclear industry who could feasably commission nuclear power stations. So now we're stuck having to bring in the nuclear industry from other countries who *didn't* put the whole nuclear power idea on hold for decades and therefore still have some expertise in this area.

As it stands, things ahve been left so long that there is no way the UK is going to be able to commission new power stations in time to avoid a shortfall in generation capacity and there is next to no working UK expertise WRT building nuclear power stations anymore, so what else can we do but bring in foreign corporations to help out?

Re:Does the UK get any say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44739343)

You have that backwards. In the 21st century the US government is directed by US corporations. They're just people after all.

Re:Does the UK get any say? (5, Interesting)

lkcl (517947) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738269)

yes. many people are unaware of the fact that these major power plants - coal, gas, oil, nuclear - are only efficient when they are at maximum capacity. if you shut them off for any reason (and this can be done fairly quickly), getting them back up to temperature can take *weeks*.

so any investor is going to want guarantees that the power plant in which they're to be investing billions will provide a guaranteed return on investment. even in cases where there's complete catastrophic failure [hey, what's insurance for, huh?]

btw as an off-topic aside, the reason why wind power is a failure even before it becomes popular [which it won't] is because its power provision is completely arbitrary. in fact, it's not very well-known but the wind systems in scotland where i used to live were heavily subsidised. the UK Govt pays them 25 thousand pounds A MONTH to NOT run them. in fact, as they're motors as well as generators, when it's not windy enough, from what i hear they're actually POWERED to make them LOOK like they're generating electricity, so that people don't wonder why they're not running.

wind turbines. only operational at between 8m/sec (about 24mph) and 24m/sec (about 70mph). below that there's not enough wind to make them turn. above that they're dangerous (one blew up in wind-speeds of 150mph last year - made a great photo in the local scottish paper). and yet people insist on commissioning wind-turbines based on a 100% operational capacity.

Re:Does the UK get any say? (2)

Bongo (13261) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738597)

I have fun watching http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk, especially how the gas dial jumps up and down trying to follow the wind.

Re:Does the UK get any say? (5, Informative)

malacandrian (2145016) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738691)

yes. many people are unaware of the fact that these major power plants - coal, gas, oil, nuclear - are only efficient when they are at maximum capacity. if you shut them off for any reason (and this can be done fairly quickly), getting them back up to temperature can take *weeks*.

Actually, gas can be spun up in less than an hour. A lot of coal/oil plants have gas turbines on them that run during start-up for this very reason. Nuclear, on the other hand, basically can't be turned off. It's why your electricity is cheaper at night: stops the network becoming unstable from too much generation with no draw.

in fact, it's not very well-known but the wind systems in scotland where i used to live were heavily subsidised. the UK Govt pays them 25 thousand pounds A MONTH to NOT run them.

Strictly speaking the national grid, an independent private company who you would be perfectly free to set up a competitor to, pays them not to run. This is not unique to wind power, as balancing the load/generation across the network often requires plants of all varieties to be shut down at which point the plant owner is paid some proportion of the profits they would have expected to gain from running the plant to get them to turn it off.

in fact, as they're motors as well as generators, when it's not windy enough, from what i hear they're actually POWERED to make them LOOK like they're generating electricity, so that people don't wonder why they're not running.

That was a plot line from the sitcom "Twenty Twelve", not reality.

Re:Does the UK get any say? (1)

bsolar (1176767) | 1 year,28 days | (#44739057)

Nuclear, on the other hand, basically can't be turned off.

Actually France has nuclear power plants designed to be able to throttle the output down to as low as 30% during normal operation.

Re:Does the UK get any say? (1)

Gareth Iwan Fairclough (2831535) | 1 year,28 days | (#44739365)

Nuclear, on the other hand, basically can't be turned off.

Actually France has nuclear power plants designed to be able to throttle the output down to as low as 30% during normal operation.

Naval nuclear reactors are also able to be throttled relatively easily. Although the reactor designs are rather different, the underlying principles are the same.

Also, I recall reading somewhere that the electrical output of a reactor could be throttled as low as needed through setting up a steam bypass system which sends steam directly to the condenser instead of going through the usual loop of going through the turbine (which is the part that drives the generator, which is what actually generates the electricity.). So while the reactor itself can't be throttled down to much, you can still dial back the amount of electricity generated.

Re:Does the UK get any say? (1)

petermgreen (876956) | 1 year,28 days | (#44739253)

Nuclear, on the other hand, basically can't be turned off.

You can insert the control rods which will pretty quickly reduce or stop the fission. Of course you still have decay heat (iirc about 10%) so the plant isn't going to be completely "off" but it's certainly going to be producing a lot less than before you inserted them.

Of course just because you can turn something off doesn't mean you want to. The fuel is a pretty minor part of the cost of running a nuclear plant. So once you have paid for all those construction costs and paid for the salaries of those running it you don't save much by shutting it down.

an independent private company

Which holds an effective monopoly and which originates from a government privitisation activity.

who you would be perfectly free to set up a competitor to

Do you have any evidence that people are free to set up competitors to national grid?

Re:Does the UK get any say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44739091)

btw as an off-topic aside, the reason why wind power is a failure even before it becomes popular [which it won't] is because its power provision is completely arbitrary. in fact, it's not very well-known but the wind systems in scotland where i used to live were heavily subsidised. the UK Govt pays them 25 thousand pounds A MONTH to NOT run them. in fact, as they're motors as well as generators, when it's not windy enough, from what i hear they're actually POWERED to make them LOOK like they're generating electricity, so that people don't wonder why they're not running.

I hope you're not saying that that's the case everywhere. Because e.g. Denmark is nowadays almost exclusively using wind power and Estonia is following the Danish model.

Now, I know I'm replying to a troll but had to simply because your bad logic makes you a failed troll: If wind turbines did rotate when they shouldn't (aka. when it's not windy) now that would make people wonder.

Re:Does the UK get any say? (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | 1 year,28 days | (#44739161)

yes. many people are unaware of the fact that these major power plants - coal, gas, oil, nuclear - are only efficient when they are at maximum capacity. if you shut them off for any reason (and this can be done fairly quickly), getting them back up to temperature can take *weeks*.

While I agree that operating base load plants such as nukes at max capacity is best; a nuke startup from cold shutdown to 100% can be done in a few days or less.

Re:Does the UK get any say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44739345)

You're both missing the point. The point is that a nuclear power plant is pretty expensive to run. If you can't sell all the power you can produce, you're in trouble.

Re:Does the UK get any say? (2)

amiga3D (567632) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738277)

How in hell does a power generation facility lose money? Is that even possible? You generate power and sell it at a rate that guarantees a profit. Where is the risk?

Re:Does the UK get any say? (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738351)

What happens if you can't sell electricity at a high enough rate to pay back your investment?

Re:Does the UK get any say? (1)

amiga3D (567632) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738465)

It's a monopoly. You just raise the rate. It's done all the time. Power companies are the safest investment ever. They don't make incredible profit but it's super stable.

Re:Does the UK get any say? (3, Informative)

Inda (580031) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738497)

You must be thinking of a different country. We're talking about the UK here.

There are generating companies, retailing companies and consumers. There is some overlap. There is no monopoly here. Cartel - maybe.

Fucking DeVry grads... (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | 1 year,28 days | (#44739109)

It's a monopoly. You just raise the rate.

Even a monopoly can't force you to buy. People will switch to alternative sources. They'll make their own. Where neither of those is feasible they'll be very frugal. In the last resort, the people can change the government.

In short, it's not guaranteed that at any price the monopolist sets the market demand will be sufficient for it to make a profit.

Re:Does the UK get any say? (1)

91degrees (207121) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738403)

Building a nuclear power plant is expensive. It takes several days to go from zero power to full power, and to shut down. Electricity can't exactly be put in a warehouse. And even at reduced power the staffinf costs are the same

Nuclear plants provide base load. They keep running and sell electricity at whatever the going rate is.

Re:Does the UK get any say? (1)

infolation (840436) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738457)

The really simplified answer is that they're very expensive to build, very expensive to knock down and ONR, the UK nuclear regulator, requires the plant operator to set aside some of the money they make to cover the knocking down costs.

In addition, most nuclear plants don't operate for their full life expectancy, so their turnover often doesn't cover the cost of building and decommissioning.

Re:Does the UK get any say? (0)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738715)

How in hell does a power generation facility lose money? Is that even possible? You generate power and sell it at a rate that guarantees a profit. Where is the risk?

I have a friend who's an energy trading analyst.

It's a shame he's not here, because I haven't got a fucking clue.

Re:Does the UK get any say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44739011)

Allow me to join you in telling everyone that I've no idea what to say, but I feel the need to let everyone know that I don't know what to say.

Me too!

Re:Does the UK get any say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44739225)

What a useful comment!

Re:Does the UK get any say? (3, Interesting)

iserlohn (49556) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738459)

To specifically address your first point, State run Chinese enterprises in the 1960s weren't doing much better. Many state run Chinese firms today still require state subsidies to operate.

What's more concerning is the current climate in which everything has to be privatised. There are some areas where the free-market performs sufficiently worse than than a controlled economy. Privatisation of rail in the UK, for example, privatised profits while the state still needs to subsidise the infrastructure. I'm sure if the current trends continue, this is exactly what's going to happen with the NHS. In the end, the public gets shafted.

Re:Does the UK get any say? (1)

Bongo (13261) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738615)

Oh don't start me on the trains. I used to moan in disgust at the cost of train fares, only to add shock to insult when I heard the price would be double without subsidy. Private my arse.

Re:Does the UK get any say? (1)

oobayly (1056050) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738991)

According to the BBC [bbc.co.uk] , the income would need to be twice the current price per megawatt-hour (£45/MWhr), so whoever runs it, it probably won't be cost effective.

Today, electricity sells on the wholesale market for about £45 per megawatt-hour (MwH). But anything under £90 a MwH would see Hinkley lose money

Don't get me wrong, I think we need some kind of reliable power production capability and I think nuclear meets that criteria without having to rely on fossil fuels. We just have to keep Australia on side for the fuel.

Re:Does the UK get any say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44739357)

Let's stop the British Rail myth right here. The independently owned rail companies were a complete disgrace before they were nationalised. The government standardised the gauge, the engines, the rolling stock and timetables. Unfortunately for rail users, their ticket prices do not cover the running costs of a massive rail network, particularly when it has to operate country wide in areas where 3 people get on a run. The rail service was as good as it was going to get at this point, but the machinery and tracks were now at the end of their life, union workers were pissing around for more pay, and the tax payer was broke. The only "solution" was to send it back out into the private sector under a shared ownership scheme. The companies that got involved failed to invest and thought they could make a fast buck by leaving things are the were. They were wrong. Prices escalated, driving more and more people away and back to their cars. Prices went up further. Corporations don't like running at a loss, so they cancelled several services to reduce costs.

Bringing the rail network back under government control will not help, the system is aged and rotten to the core and the workers are near useless. The only remotely possible fix is for massive tax payer subsidy, as per Germany, France and Japan. Failing that, the rail network will continue to whither.

Re:Does the UK get any say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44738225)

I wonder if the same thing is happening with Westinghouse and its AP1000s that are being built China.

Re:Does the UK get any say? (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738343)

No, China is buying those, not having the US invest in them. The Chinese government is not that stupid.

US AND NOW UK OWNED BY CHINA !! (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44738053)

All your power plants are belong to us ... belong to CN !!

Re:US AND NOW UK OWNED BY CHINA !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44738147)

The strange bit is EDF is French... so the plants are already run by a foreign company, but the fact it's China makes it (seem?) much scarier.

Of course we've already handed off our telecoms infrastructure to them already (Huawei) so the process has already begun.

Re:US AND NOW UK OWNED BY CHINA !! (2)

amiga3D (567632) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738289)

Really. If I had to choose between the French and the Chinese I'm not sure which I'd pick.

Re:US AND NOW UK OWNED BY CHINA !! (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738373)

Go with the French. De Gaulle is dead.

Re:US AND NOW UK OWNED BY CHINA !! (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | 1 year,28 days | (#44739027)

The strange bit is EDF is French... so the plants are already run by a foreign company, but the fact it's China makes it (seem?) much scarier.

Of course we've already handed off our telecoms infrastructure to them already (Huawei) so the process has already begun.

Because France has to care about a Nuclear disaster in the country right next to them. The UK is not right next door to China. Also, France has a better track record on such things.

And it begins.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44738071)

Bow down to your... fuck off China you'll only ever be given "cosmetic" control of such a vital asset, that applies to however much money you pour in.

Re:And it begins.. (1)

blackest_k (761565) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738151)

You think ?
The UK was and is more than happy to give its vital infrastructure to outside interests, which seems a little odd. Meanwhile in Ireland Wind farms are being built not for the Irish Market but to sell to the UK.

So here we have two countries where electricity production is an asset to one country and a liability to the other.
which is the better course of action?

Re:And it begins.. (1)

N1AK (864906) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738157)

Tough words there keyboard warrior, I bet the Chinese are running in fear after that...

We can limit Chinese, or any other country's, influence or control over whatever we want and we'll pay a price for doing so. How much money are we really willing to spend, as a premium, to avoid Chinese involvement? Do we put all Chinese hardware and software on a banned list for British government or government contractors?

We've got American nuclear bombs on UK soil alongside American controls means to deploy them. Do we really trust them that much more given the crap they get up to these days? Including spying on us and the rest of the EU?

Re:And it begins.. (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738301)

We've got American nuclear bombs on UK soil alongside American controls means to deploy them. Do we really trust them that much more given the crap they get up to these days? Including spying on us and the rest of the EU?

Trust Americans to what, not nuke somebody you don't want to nuke? Whatever you think of ill conceived foreign ventures (in which the UK has generally been a partner, for reasons that escape me), nukes aren't likely.

As for spying, don't get sanctimonious. Ever hear of ECHELON. not to mention more recent revelations?

Without animosity though, I'll say that if you don't want US nukes on your soil, complain to your government. Tell them to act like a sovereign country. New Zealand did, and I haven't heard of any US-NZ war.

P.S. For clarity, I am an American.

Re:And it begins.. (0)

Eunuchswear (210685) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738399)

The minor problem being that the UK has no nukes (bombs) of it's own.

Back in the '70s they demonstrated that they could make one, then made a deal with the US not to do it again in return for getting US designed ones built for them.

With the tiny string attached that they can only be used with US agreement. ("Dual key").

Trying to be a sovereign power on the cheap - often doesn't work out how you'd want it to.

Re:And it begins.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44738803)

So far from factual it's not even funny
As a matter of fact when the US offered a new warhead design and MIRV bus along with Trident II, the AWE turned around and offered their own new design instead.
The current MIRV bus used in US Tridents is the UK design, and the warheads themselves were subsequently redesigned to more closely resemble the far smaller yet larger yield UK design.
The US designed bombs could only fit 4 large yield, or 8 smaller yield nukes into Trident II, compared to the UK warheads fitting in 13 per missile and higher yield than the largest US ones.

Re:And it begins.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44738813)

The only launch authority needed to set off British missiles is contained in the submarine itself. It's the US Navy subs that need arming codes transmitted from the US to launch.

Re:And it begins.. (1)

blane.bramble (133160) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738867)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Trident_system [wikipedia.org]

"Under the terms of the missile lease arrangement, the United States does not have any veto on the use of British nuclear weapons, which the UK may launch independently."

Re:And it begins.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44738921)

Back in the '70s they demonstrated that they could make one

50's. Hurricane (fission core) was 3rd October, 1952. Short Granite (first fusion core) was 15th May 1957, and Grapple X (first "MT range" fusion core) was November 8th, 1957.

The British pursued nuclear weapons development specifically to convince the US to co-operate on nuclear weapons development again, as they'd done before during the Manhattan Project. Building an independent nuclear arsenal was a secondary goal, if the US still refused to co-operate, but it was recognised as a massively expensive endeavour and was not the preferred option.

Re:And it begins.. (1)

Eunuchswear (210685) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738939)

Yeah, sorry, fucked the date up.

Re:And it begins.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44739165)

Stop trying to weasel out of it, you stupid fat cunt. You didn't fuck the date up. You lied.

Re:And it begins.. (1)

AHuxley (892839) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738961)

Re New Zealand did, and I haven't heard of any US-NZ war.
Punishment was swift in the form of no more pure NSA sigint. The other part of that was a hint that the US would become active in intelligence work in NZ as more punishment.

Devious (5, Funny)

oobayly (1056050) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738141)

So, China pretend to integrate themselves into the international community, then they want a say in how Hinkley Point "C" runs, then they start a meltdown which makes the surrounding area uninhabitable. The UK economy crumbles due to the loss of Cheddar, Somerset Cider and Glastonbury hippies doing face-painting. The Chinese buy up the rest of the UK, but due to their lack of economic know-how forget that the UK can't buy the stuff they produce, so they put down the whole episode as a bad learning experience.

The worst bit, I'm left drinking Suffolk cider and eating Wensleydale. I'm happy about the lack of face-painting facilities though.

Re:Devious (1)

rufty_tufty (888596) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738237)

The UK economy crumbles due to the loss of Cheddar [and} Somerset Cider

Don't be silly, that would imply the UK actually made something these days, These days we offer services

Glastonbury hippies doing face-painting

That's the thing, and "silicon roundabout" and "financial services".

(disclaimer) I work as an engineer in the UK so no need to shout at me

Re:Devious (1)

jimicus (737525) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738993)

Don't be silly, that would imply the UK actually made something these days, These days we offer services

We do. Like the GP said, Cheddar and Cider.

Strangely, it seems our best cheese - and for that matter cider - is made by people who have a proud tradition - stretching back many generations - of marrying their cousins.

It really depends. (1)

stoploss (2842505) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738163)

Yes, I RTFA and they are nigh devoid of requisite detail.

No doubt there would be legitimate concerns if "greater operational control" meant something like "allow us to perform Chernobyl-like experiments with the reactor".

However, my guess is that they are demanding this control to protect their £billion investment. Nuclear power plant operators always have a political sword of Damocles over their heads. If anything, it is in their interest to operate safely to avoid having their license revoked and their colossal investment's value reduced to a negative number (due to mothballing/demolition costs).

Either way, we can't know without more information, all of which is likely going to be heavily tinged by political spin.

Re:It really depends. (3, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738339)

If you don't want Chernobyl-like experiments or TEPCO lies then the regulators need more teeth. Threats about revoking licences are theoretical and have not happened after any of the incidents to date, and they'll need to be more than theoretical if there's no chance of losing government money that is flowing in (which has been the real threat to date to keep the places honest).

Re:It really depends. (1)

leuk_he (194174) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738911)

How about the japanese situation. Big disaster. Politics decide to take all nuclair power down. Not based on new security rules, but based on the political situtaion.

Now what if you invested 9/10 digits just before such a situation.

Well shit (4, Insightful)

oldhack (1037484) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738191)

You lose control when you insist on not paying for your shit.

Re:Well shit (2)

amiga3D (567632) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738311)

Everyone wants to have their cake and eat it too. I can't blame the Chinese here, if I was buying the plant I'd want to run it too.

Re:Well shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44738957)

Bingo.

The West is going to have to endure more and more of this kind of treatment from its financiers.

Isn't that the same as saying no? (1)

Shavano (2541114) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738203)

In what political universe do they imagine the people of the UK would be interested in giving operational control of a nuclear reactor in Somerset to a foreign government, esp. one they don't particularly trust?

Re:Isn't that the same as saying no? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44738247)

EdF means Electricité de France, which can be translated as Electricity of France. It belong for 84.44 % to the French State. And it has operationnal control on some UK nuclear plants. And it is foreign, even if it is not directly a government....

Re:Isn't that the same as saying no? (5, Funny)

Eunuchswear (210685) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738461)

And who do you think the UK trusts more, France or China?

[Hacker and Sir Humphrey are taling about the bomb ...]
        Hacker: Anyway, the Americans will always protect us from the Russians, won't they?
        Sir Humphrey: Russians? Who's talking about the Russians?
        Hacker: Well, the independent deterrent.
        Sir Humphrey: It's to protect us against the French!
        Hacker: The French?! But that's astounding!
        Sir Humphrey: Why?
        Hacker: Well they're our allies, our partners.
        Sir Humphrey: Well, they are now, but they've been our enemies for the most of the past 900 years. If they've got the bomb, we must have the bomb!
        Hacker: If it's for the French, of course, that's different. Makes a lot of sense.
        Sir Humphrey: Yes. Can't trust the Frogs.
        Hacker: You can say that again!

Re:Isn't that the same as saying no? (3, Insightful)

JanneM (7445) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738257)

In what political universe do they imagine the people of the UK would be interested in giving operational control of a nuclear reactor in Somerset to a foreign government,

In the kind of universe where the one who pays for something also gets a say in it. But of course, the UK is free to pick up the tab in their stead and pony up the needed investment.

Re:Isn't that the same as saying no? (1)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738263)

You're talking about the French, right?

Re:Isn't that the same as saying no? (0)

mjwalshe (1680392) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738267)

I would have assumed that the MOD police would be the control for this I assume they have doomsday scenario plans for various outcomes if it came to it disabling rogue/insane controllers with a 9mm pill woudl be one option.

Re:Isn't that the same as saying no? (2)

Eunuchswear (210685) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738483)

That would be the Civil Nuclear Constabulary [police.uk]

Re:Isn't that the same as saying no? (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738603)

Ah must have changed the name just hope they haven't outsourced it to G4 or Capita or its "where doomed captain mainwaring doomed i tell ye"

Re:Isn't that the same as saying no? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44739331)

I dont trust my government and speaking as a notherner and proud of it they all foreign past Birmingham .

Alright, own up... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44738223)

...who said the UK wasn't like Communist China?

Thirty+ year old "secrets"? (1)

dbIII (701233) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738251)

Are they worried that the Chinese will get the plans of reactor technology thirty years older than what they already have? The UK stopped building nuclear power stations when Thatcher was in charge.

Re:Thirty+ year old "secrets"? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | 1 year,28 days | (#44739049)

China would have got a lot from the USA/Russia/EU/Canada over the past years wrt basic nuclear design.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power_in_China [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qinshan_Nuclear_Power_Plant [wikipedia.org] seems to be ~95% domestic 1991 after "1970, China issued its first nuclear power plan".
Like the nuclear bomb in China they seem to have done it very smart - wait, watch, learn, build local when ready.
Now they have a global brand vision, banking and sales to back up the nuclear 'export' end.
The only mystery the UK had was its subs and that was via the USA.
As for this project, they have the UK and French to work with, later they can move as a pure export brand.

Yikes! (1)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738271)

EPR's produce 1650 MWe, so this plant will produce 3.3 GWp. The price is put at "£14bn", that's 21.8 bU$, or about 6.6 USD a watt. And that's at *an existing site*. New sites would be much more expensive due to paperwork delays.

Clearly the nuclear renaissance estimates of $4.6 are too low, as this is the cheapest plant I've seen recently and it's still over $6. Darlington B was $8.25 (at least), Vogtle 3&4 are around $7.25, and Crystal River 6 came in around $11.

For those new to this, the price of power from fission is almost entirely a function of its capital cost, measured in dollars per watt. Anything above 5 is generally uneconomical, and with NG at $2/MBTU that number is almost certainly even lower, probably down around $3 or $4/W.

Re:Yikes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44738481)

Isn't the comparison a bit unfair though? A Watt of nuclear power gets you the energy but also an "investment" in the multimillion dollar cost of disposal of waste and decommissioning. With NG and Coal you just pay for the Watt you get; the combustion byproducts are free. Until it costs taxpayer funds to clear up fly-ash dumping grounds/subsidise lower carbon alternatives.

Re:Yikes! (1)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | 1 year,28 days | (#44739329)

> Isn't the comparison a bit unfair though

No. The rest of the costs you mention are factored in through the OPEX lines, which add little on either the nuke or non-nuke side. In the case of nukes, the fuel costs are small but the decom costs are higher. In the case of NG the fuel costs are higher but the decom costs are low (not zero, as you seem to imply).

All estimates I've seen on real market costs for CO2 would not upset this balance much, NG would still be the lowest cost option, at least in the US. You can play with this yourself here:

http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/tech_lcoe.html

I've written an intro on how to use this for PV calcs, but you can combine it with info on that page to do nukes (or maybe I should write one on that?):

http://matter2energy.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/grid-parity-in-ontario/

To put this in perspective, the apples to apples comparison would go something like this in terms of relative CAPEX outlays, based on recent proposals

nuke - $7 - $8/W
NG turbine - $1/W
coal plant - $2/W - this has been true for a *long* time
industrial PV - $1.50 - $2.50/W (was $8 in 2008!)
industrial wind - $1.50 - $2/W (starting to flatten out now)

Now of course things like wind and PV have lower capacity factors than nukes, perhaps 1/3rd - 1/4 for wind and about 1/6th to 1/5th for PV. But they cost 1/5 as much. And that's pretty much the end of the story as far as actual industry members are concerned - as opposed to the boosters of one tech vs. the other, who add in all sorts of other "requirements" which aren't.

So when you look at this, it should not be entirely surprising that last year the world put in about 44 GWp of wind, 32 GWp of PV, about 10 GWp of NG (this number is one of the most difficult to find) and *negative* 15 GWp of nukes.

The nuke industry is fond of claiming various conspiracy theories and "dumb citizens" for their woes, but the problem is much more fundamental. Until they can get the $/W down into the $4 range, you shouldn't expect to see many new builds except for areas with *serious* base load issues.

Ah the Chinese (2)

Chrisq (894406) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738315)

Ah the Chinese .... Britain's oldest allies .

Brought to you by the John Kerry school of political history.

Re:Ah the Chinese (1)

Bongo (13261) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738663)

I'm sure the Chinese and Prince Philip feel practically the same family.

Re:Ah the Chinese (2)

Chrisq (894406) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738679)

I'm sure the Chinese and Prince Philip feel practically the same family.

Good point - after all he's a Greek who married into a German family with a lot of influence in the UK...

Re:Ah the Chinese (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44739223)

Which happens to be reasonably correct considering France is indeed the US' 'oldest ally'. So what was your point again?

a lot to do with construction plans? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44738365)

I assume a lot of the kerfuffle is the Chinese investor wanting to have a say over how engineering, procurement, and construction is sourced--specifically they would want a good portion of the investment in services and jobs to go to China.

one pimp leads to another (1)

noshellswill (598066) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738629)

Since WW2 Perfidious Albion has been pimping-itself-out to the oil sheikdoms ...  selling off royal *zz and country-side to the most wealthy camel-jocky funders of Brit welfare payments. So now  what's so special about giving the slants control of their nuclear fuels industry?  Why  **not**  neuvo-rich chi.com  coal-Mandarins as opposed to ... say ...  beer-swilling oil-shale cooking Canadians?

Where the hell is capitalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44738641)

Whats with all the Privatization bullshit about delivering better value for the $.
Sinapore, China have State run businesses making shit loads of $$ for their governments. Now State owned Chinese want to run the UK Nuclear Industry.
About time we fkin privitized our own oil industry and took the profits back into the country.

Robbing parasite companies!!

There is an easy solution (1, Offtopic)

Sla$hPot (1189603) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738681)

Invest in offshore wind power and water power.

It might sound silly, but it is much more cost effective than nuclear power.
Look at how much damage the Fukushima has already cost TEPCO and the Japanese government.
And it is not over yet: Fukushima's Radioactive Plume Could Reach U.S. Waters By 2014 [huffingtonpost.com]
Everybody get are "fair" share.
Just one of these accidents every twenty years and it is goodbye turnover.

Subsidies (1, Troll)

MrL0G1C (867445) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738815)

No mention in the summary of the massive subsidies the British tax payer would have to pay to build maintain and close these costly Chinese made disasters waiting to happen.

Nuclear power: leaks show new EU push | Environment | The ... [google.com]

WE LIVE (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44738927)

WE LIVE ON PLANET EARTH, your nationalistic globalism denial will only destroy your economy...

Ya think? (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | 1 year,28 days | (#44738953)

potentially creating a national security headache for the government.

The Chinese, having been unable to deliver nuclear weapons via ICBMs, have now cleared that hurdle --- place the nuclear weapons within the sovereign state of the enemy with a remote control capability to blow it up at any time. What more could China ask for?

Re:Ya think? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44738977)

potentially creating a national security headache for the government.

The Chinese, having been unable to deliver nuclear weapons via ICBMs, have now cleared that hurdle --- place the nuclear weapons within the sovereign state of the enemy with a remote control capability to blow it up at any time. What more could China ask for?

That is so many levels of stupid that I do not know where to begin.

Re:Ya think? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44739163)

The Chinese, having been unable to deliver nuclear weapons via ICBMs, have now cleared that hurdle --- place the nuclear weapons within the sovereign state of the enemy with a remote control capability to blow it up at any time. What more could China ask for?

Correct, except for a few points.

A sovereign state is a legal entity. To describe this as placing weapons in a sovereign state is similar to claiming to have punched a patent.

These plants would be supervised by the CNC. Granted this isn't much of guarantee so long as Labour and the Conservatives alike have a boner for privatisation that never be sated. For now though, the CNC is not staffed by poorly trained and managed people, employed by a company largely owned and controlled by a foreign government (EDF for example). As well as the difficulties in turning a nuclear plant in to a weapon (it's not as easy as you think), China is unlikely anytime soon to be trying to blow-up bits of the UK. They don't have to! We'll sell them the country, and will ensure the tax payer gives China the money to complete the sale.

Finally, China has nuclear warhead equipped ICBMs that are in range of London. Aside from everything you said, you're completely right.

This what the Renaissance looks like (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | 1 year,28 days | (#44739263)

In the US, nuclear power is shrinking in generation and fraction of overall generation. Early retirement announcements of five rectors and cancellation of five power uprates recently are basically attributable to market reforms that caused nuclear power to compete and lose against other energy sources. http://slashdot.org/journal/496141/is-indian-point-next-to-close [slashdot.org] Most of Europe is exiting nuclear power with even France beginning to have reservations. So really only command-and-control economic systems have a way to play with nukes. If you want a nuclear renaissance, Iran, China, Russia and petrostates are where you have to look for it.
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