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NCE’s guide to all things energy

You would have to have been living in a cave to have missed the biggest energy story of the past couple of months, probably of the last decade: that construction of Hinkley Point C is to begin.

NCE covered the story that Britain was waking up to a new nuclear future after energy minister Ed Davey confirmed that a deal has been struck to allow construction of a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point can begin.  

Over the next few days and weeks, the news was dominated by Hinkley. EdF insisted that “up to” 57% of the £14bn cost of building the plant with its two nuclear reactors will go to the UK supply chain. This is despite a heavy French influence on the choice of tier one suppliers and the announcement of the involvement of two Chinese nuclear firms in the deal to finance the project.

However, uncertainty surrounding taxpayer liability soon set in. Ed Davey was at pains to emphasise that construction risk would lie with EdF and its shareholders and that there was no risk lay with consumers. However there was less clarity about what risk would lie with the taxpayer via the government debt guarantee.

Not everybody was blown away by the full on media frenzy for the EdF and government deal, with contractors playing down its significance for them. Contractors working on the job confirmed to NCE that while “key terms” of their contracts had been agreed, contracts had not been signed and they were under the impression that this was unlikely to happen before EdF makes a final decision to invest, possibly in June next year.

Elsewhere, a Franco-German joint venture has been picked for the biggest civils contract on the pan-nation ITER fusion reactor project in southern France. Client Fusion for Energy has signed a £500M contract with France’s GDF Suez Group and Germany’s M+W Group.

And on the sporting front, stadium designers for the 2022 Fifa World Cup tournament confirmed that they still have to work out how vital cooling systems, which were influential in winning the Gulf state the right to host the event, will operate. Consultant Aecom, in association with Zaha Hadid Architects, has radically altered the concept design under the guidance of the organising committee to accommodate the cooling technology. But Aecom design principal Graham Goymour warned that at this stage it was unknown whether the designs would work. “We have established the first principles but the design process hasn’t finished,” he said. “Step by step we are looking at options and then narrowing the options using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis.”

Also,, glow-in-the-dark paving is to become a reality in a Cambridge park where it is being trailed. A liquid polyurethane product is sprayed to the paving to create a hard-wearing surface that absorbs UV rays and turns them into trapped energy that glows.

Meanwhile we take an expert opinion from WSP’s David Symons. He argues that the simple facts of shale energy have been forgotten and calls for a balanced view of the market. While it is potentially a significant source of fuel, he stresses that there are others as well

Keep following NCE’s daily live news updates to stay ahead of the top energy stories, and look out for the next energy alert soon.

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