[Machine Translation] The French group is trying to abandon its projects in Turkey and Great Britain. A split of the Belgian subsidiary is envisaged. Nuclear power is soon over for Engie. For a few months, the French energy company has begun a major strategic shift by focusing on renewable energies. But this volte-face requires first of all to get rid of its historical activities. According to several sources close to the management, the group seeks to emerge from its two major nuclear projects in Turkey and Great Britain. “Engie wants to give it up because it no longer has the resources to finance such expensive projects,” says one of these sources, “but this is problematic because we have to get out of partnerships with Areva and Toshiba.” In 2013, Engie won a € 17 billion contract in Turkey for four medium-power reactors (Atmea) in cooperation with Areva. Difficult to “let go” this alliance Franco-French while the specialist of the atom is in full public rescue. He would risk losing one of the few future contracts that hold out his arms. Three years ago, it was an alliance with the Japanese Toshiba that had been launched for the construction of three reactors in Britain for 12 billion euros. Here again, an exit of this project would require to break with an old partner: Toshiba-Westhinghouse. The manufacturer of nuclear power plants that built Engie’s in Belgium. It is now all the more difficult to abandon these British reactors that the French State (33% shareholder of Engie) pushed for EDF’s two EDF at Hinkley Point. Engie does not want to officially announce its exit from nuclear power because the group still owns seven reactors in Belgium. The group is waiting for the green light from the Belgian regulator to extend the life of the plants from 40 to 50 years. “Once we have visibility, we can relaunch the split Electrabel” acknowledges a close to the management. The Belgian subsidiary of Engie could thus be split from the group to get rid of it. The group will then definitely turn its back on its history in the nuclear
Three new reactors are planned for the Moorside site next to Europe’s biggest nuclear complex at Sellafield, writes Peter Roche, with a combined capacity of 3.8GW. But a new report for Radiation Free Lakeland shows that the chosen AP1000 reactor design, for all its claimed ‘advanced passive’ safety features, is not fit for purpose – and should be rejected as unsafe by UK regulators.
Engie, formerly GDF Suez, owns 40% of NuGen, the Company which wants to build three new nuclear reactors at Moorside in Cumbria, next to Sellafield. Yet Engie is fully aware that “the future is going to be much more about decentralized energy”. As Greenpeace Belgium says it’s time for Engie to be consistent and get the hell out of nuclear power.
Engie is not a household name in the UK but the £32bn French company is one of our largest power generators and business energy suppliers. It was formed in 2008 by the merger of Gaz de France and Suez, and is roughly one third owned by the French State.
As well as owning 40% of the NuGen joint venture with struggling ToshibaWestinghouse, it is also the parent company of the Belgian utility, Electrabel, which operates all seven of Belgium’s nuclear reactors, but only owns half of Tihange 1; 89.8% of Tihange 2&3 and Doel 3&4; and 100% of Doel 1&2.
Surprisingly Engie employs 20,000 people in the UK. It is the UK’s eighth biggest foreign employer. For instance it runs catering, cleaning and district heating services at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary hospital. It is also Britain’s eighth biggest electricity generator, pumping 5% of its gas and making revenues of £3.7 billion in the UK in 2014.
The Chief Executive of Engie UK, Wilfrid Petrie, says “It’s very difficult today to build a new power plant [in the UK] with current market conditions”. Instead, the Company offers localised services that could include installing insulation, district heating and solar panels on existing buildings as well as supplying gas and electricity. “We see the emergence of a new type of organisation within cities,” he says. Engie, he believes, can build on its relationships with councils and other commercial customers to expand its British business by developing local, decentralised energy in urban areas, where demand is high. “We don’t want to sell a huge amount of energy. Our big focus is on the demand side. The future is going to be much more about decentralized energy,” he says.
Engie won the contract to power the Olympic Park in East London and has been using this as an opportunity to turn its energy supply business on its head and create a model which is being quietly rolled out across the UK from Whitehall to Leeds. The Olympic site includes two energy centres and a network of over 11 miles of pipe work and a small fleet of biomass boilers, combined heat and power plants and water storage units. Petrie explains that biomass provides the steady baseload power needed throughout the day by burning waste wood sourced from UK landscapers. To meet peak demand the energy can also be stored in hot water tanks which are topped up using combined and heat and power boilers which run on gas. As a result the Olympic Park is able to generate 75% of its own energy with carbon emissions 20% lower than the rest of the UK while using smart technology to keep costs low.
The company is one of the leaders in a trend which seeks to disrupt the traditional energy supply model. Instead of focusing on large, expensive power plants based far from the customers it supplies, Engie starts with the customer and builds so-called ‘decentralised’ energy systems to fit. This decentralised energy model works because it has the flexibility to provide bespoke solutions to directly meet local needs. The Olympic Park scheme, for instance, is different to Engie’s Whitehall district energy scheme.
The company has built a growing network of district heating and electricity, powered by its own onsite boilers and combined heat and power (CHP) units such as the Southampton District Energy Scheme which is supplemented with Geothermal Energy; it is developing a new district heating network with Cheshire East Council which will focus on low and zero carbon sources of heat, including geothermal energy; in July it signed a power purchase agreement with Equitex to buy all the electricity generated by a new CHP plant in Wrexham; and in March it was awarded a contract to construct, operate and maintain gas-fired CHP energy centres for three NHS Trusts in Liverpool, as well as carrying out site-wide upgrades to energy-consuming equipment.
Petrie says the future of the British energy industry will be in these kinds of “distributed energy networks”, which are localised and low carbon. Engie is soon to launch a new retail operation which it will run through joint ventures with local councils in big urban areas such as London, Birmingham, Southampton and Coventry. As well as gas and electricity, Engie would provide consumers with bundled energy services, which could include district heating from a centralised location, or piped hot and cold water for heating and cooling, as well as insulation, energy-efficiency products and small-scale generation in the form of solar panels or wind turbines.
Petrie points to the recent launch of Robin Hood Energy, an energy supplier launched by Nottingham city council, as an example of the kind of services that Engie could offer alongside local authorities. Nottingham provides district heating to thousands of homes and is developing a small-scale renewable power station using solar panels and woodchips.
Engie has understood for a while now that “the future is going to be much more about decentralized energy”. Greenpeace Belgium says it is time now for the Company to be consistent and get the hell out of nuclear power. (8) We should be calling on Engie in the UK to do the same and give up on NuGen and drop its plans to take a 40% share in Europe’s largest proposed new nuclear development.
Please write to:
40 Holborn Viaduct
And tell him to get Engie out of nuclear.
North Cumbria CND, Cumbria and Lancashire Area CND and Radiation Free Lakeland are holding a series of events to protest against the building of nuclear reactors in Cumbria. These events are timed to run alongside and inform the NuGen Moorside Consultation.
NuGen, a UK nuclear company, is a joint venture between Toshiba and ENGIE (formerly GDF SUEZ) bidding to purchase government (publicly) owned Moorside, farmland on the flood plain of the River Ehen, in order to build the reactors on greenfields in the village of Beckermet a few miles from Sellafield.
In order to gain the public approval necessary NuGen has launched the Moorside Consultation. This was described by former NuGen Chief Executive Sandy Rupprecht as a means to “shape plans.” However, members of the public attending the consultation at Whitehaven on 16th May were told by a NuGen representative that “nothing will stop the construction.”
However thousands of people have already signed the ‘Stop Moorside!’ petition which says:
“We urge David Cameron and the leaders of Europe to scrap plans for Moorside. The UK Government is planning to sell a vast area of Cumbria to the same companies responsible for the Fukushima disaster, so that they can build new nuclear reactors. Please don’t risk the safety of Europe by turning Cumbria into a nuclear sacrifice zone.”
Marianne Birkby of Radiation Free Lakeland says: “We are bewildered why Toshiba should be engaging in an aggressive push for new nuclear build here in Cumbria. Toshiba are still battling to contain the results of the Fukushma disaster in their own country. We saw their Reactor 3 explode before our eyes. Their latest efforts at containment have been halted by a ‘glitch’ which has lasted for over a year. And even without accident or incident, the links between routine emissions from nuclear reactors and childhood leukaemia have now been confirmed.”
Irene Sanderson of North Cumbria CND adds, “The US Energy Information Administration recently concluded that using nuclear power as a climate ‘solution’ would prevent the deployment of the renewable technologies that are faster and cheaper at reducing carbon emissions and are safer and cleaner overall to boot.”
The Stop Moorside petition will be available for people to sign at the protests. There will also be postcards for pledging a boycott of Toshiba products.
Artists and musicians will be contributing to the Kendal event on 7th July.
The events are open to all.
Carlisle 30th June – Leafletting and Demonstration outside the Hallmark Hotel (11am until 1pm)
Kendal 7th July – Stop Moorside – Music and Art! 10am -4pm at the Bird Cage.
Penrith 8th July – Leafletting and Demonstration outside the Methodist Church (from 11am)
STOP PRESS We have just heard that other events are taking place independently to #StopMoorside, a movement which is now growing apace:
Stephen from West Cumbria will hold a vigil at the top of Dent Fell on 3rd July. He says, “We all need to ‘Stand Up To Cancer’ and the main causes of cancer!”
Toshiba and Fukushima
Stop Moorside Petition
Nuclear Power Kills
Radioactive Spikes from Nuclear Plants, a Likely Cause of Childhood Leukemia
Compensation Scheme for Radiation Linked Diseases
Rally at the Top of Dent Fell – 3rd July
Further to the (allegedly leaked) images in the national media, regarding the condition of some of the storage facilities at Sellafield, Cumbria Trust director Colin Wales wrote to the NDA. He submitted a “freedom of information” enquiry regarding the current situation with the storage ponds. The response is less than illuminating.