Results are out! Find what you need...fast. Get quick advice or join the chat
Hey there! Sign in to have your say on this topicNew here? Join for free to post

Nuclear power: 1/3 of planned plants bite dust.

Announcements Posted on
    • 15 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    i really dont see why english companies cant do this, it might just be me, but having the french [eon] in charge a large part of our electricity supply is rather unnerving.
    • 1 follower
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    The reason UK companies can't do this is because the Thatcher government carved up and privatised the national energy sector, effectively selling them to foreign governments.

    Those are what used to be English energy companies doing the work, it's just that they've been sold off in packets. And the Germans and French quite wisely bought them (among others)

    Before you say it, British Gas only has a small fraction of its pre-privatisation resources, and the actual plant ownership and wholesalers were split across different companies, so while the foreign companies were able to buy a slice of both the production and retail side, the UK companies were only able to get one or the other.

    Additionally under pressure from the green lobby successive governments halted all domestic investment in nuclear and caved in to unfounded public health concerns (and I really do mean completely unfounded) from basically a bunch of hippies who thought nuclear plants were the same as the bomb. As such we no longer have the necessary modern infrastructure or technical knowledge to build new plants. The French and Germans however put resources into nuclear, told their respective lobbies to shut up, and got safe, clean, cheap energy out.

    As such the remaining British energy companies simply don't have sufficient resources to get these contracts, while the foreign owned companies (I suppose technically now multinationals) do.
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Joinedup)
    rather sad that we couldn't put together a british consortium isn't it... I'm assuming the german consortium has failed because it was being underwritted by the german government which has of course turned anti-nuclear. Perhaps if the uk governments (since thatcher) had taken a more enlightened view on supporting engineering in this country, as our european competitors have done, we'd be in a better situation today.
    The UK has an industrial output roughly on a par with France and higher than pretty much all other European countries apart from Germany. What we would have needed was a continually rolling programme of nuclear power station construction (like France) rather than a general commitment to industry.
    • Thread Starter
    • 6 followers
    Online

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Mbob)
    The UK has an industrial output roughly on a par with France and higher than pretty much all other European countries apart from Germany. What we would have needed was a continually rolling programme of nuclear power station construction (like France) rather than a general commitment to industry.
    a lot of the expertise i'm talking about isn't specifically nuclear... Steam turbines, generators etc. We had world leading companies that could do that in the 80s but they're foreign owned or otherwise gone now.
    • 1 follower
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Joinedup)
    a lot of the expertise i'm talking about isn't specifically nuclear... Steam turbines, generators etc. We had world leading companies that could do that in the 80s but they're foreign owned or otherwise gone now.
    The expertise we are missing is specifically nuclear though.

    We still have some of the worlds' leading companies in power generation, just not nuclear. As for foreign ownership, that's due to giving financial markets free reign more than anything.

    Engineering has not been underfunded in the UK, the problem is privatisation, Neo-Liberal (i.e. right wing) free market policies, and general macro-economic mismanagement.
    • Thread Starter
    • 6 followers
    Online

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by The Mr Z)
    The expertise we are missing is specifically nuclear though.

    We still have some of the worlds' leading companies in power generation, just not nuclear. As for foreign ownership, that's due to giving financial markets free reign more than anything.

    Engineering has not been underfunded in the UK, the problem is privatisation, Neo-Liberal (i.e. right wing) free market policies, and general macro-economic mismanagement.
    I think I'd take issue with that there's more to a nuclear powerstation than the reactor, we used to be able to design & make the whole thing onshore.

    The nukes we've got were built by consortia consisting of a civil engineer, a maker of steam turbines, a maker of generators, a maker of the 'steam generator' - i.e. a boiler as well as a maker of the reactor.

    it's all gone now except for the civil... there's no possibility for any meaningful british role in a consortia even if we ignore the reactor.

    GEC - now french
    Parsons/NEI - now german
    babcock - now korean
    Fairey - complex breakup... looks like it'd struggle to produce a landrover gearbox these days.
    • 1 follower
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Joinedup)
    I think I'd take issue with that there's more to a nuclear powerstation than the reactor, we used to be able to design & make the whole thing onshore.

    The nukes we've got were built by consortia consisting of a civil engineer, a maker of steam turbines, a maker of generators, a maker of the 'steam generator' - i.e. a boiler as well as a maker of the reactor.

    it's all gone now except for the civil... there's no possibility for any meaningful british role in a consortia even if we ignore the reactor.

    GEC - now french
    Parsons/NEI - now german
    babcock - now korean
    Fairey - complex breakup... looks like it'd struggle to produce a landrover gearbox these days.
    They're not gone, just sold. See my point on right-wing free market policies.

    However, expertise does not come from the company, but the people it employs. Effectively the engineers. And we still have plenty of very good engineers.

    No company, in the history of humankind, has ever had a thought or an idea. People have thoughts and ideas. We still have plenty of good people.

    Now what we may have lost is infrastructure to create the materials and parts in this country.
    • Thread Starter
    • 6 followers
    Online

    ReputationRep:
    well I'd say the most critical infrastructure was several permanent, large assemblages of skilled people working together towards a defined common goal... what we used to call companies. A company employing 100 engineers was better than 100 engineers, however gifted, wandering around the landscape in splendid isolation.

    these companies are now gone in the sense that the skilled people with knowledge and experience are now scattered and if a company with the same name still exists at all it's as a sales and service outpost for a foreign manufacturer who bought out our designs, patents and orderbook for (frequently) peanuts.

    the company was people - not the name on the letterhead.
    • 1 follower
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Joinedup)
    well I'd say the most critical infrastructure was several permanent, large assemblages of skilled people working together towards a defined common goal... what we used to call companies. A company employing 100 engineers was better than 100 engineers, however gifted, wandering around the landscape in splendid isolation.

    these companies are now gone in the sense that the skilled people with knowledge and experience are now scattered and if a company with the same name still exists at all it's as a sales and service outpost for a foreign manufacturer who bought out our designs, patents and orderbook for (frequently) peanuts.

    the company was people - not the name on the letterhead.
    Most of whom would be retired by now?

    I understand what you're saying, but there's no reason it has to be one of those old companies. New companies can be set up, new divisions of current ones, and even those companies that were split up and sold still have departments and teams of British engineers. (That's what they're buying - EDF isn't going to be exclusively bringing over French engineers, they're going to need to communicate with other (English) contractors. There may be some high-level French engineers, especially on the actual reactor side, but the turbines are ultimately going to be made and installed by British graduates))

    The companies were bought or taken over, not dissolved. They still exist, even if not in the same name or ownership. Their teams still exist and still work, their expertise and knowledge are preserved. No buyer could afford to loose that, that's what makes his investment valuable.
    • Thread Starter
    • 6 followers
    Online

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by The Mr Z)
    Most of whom would be retired by now?

    I understand what you're saying, but there's no reason it has to be one of those old companies. New companies can be set up, new divisions of current ones, and even those companies that were split up and sold still have departments and teams of British engineers. (That's what they're buying - EDF isn't going to be exclusively bringing over French engineers, they're going to need to communicate with other (English) contractors. There may be some high-level French engineers, especially on the actual reactor side, but the turbines are ultimately going to be made and installed by British graduates))

    The companies were bought or taken over, not dissolved. They still exist, even if not in the same name or ownership. Their teams still exist and still work, their expertise and knowledge are preserved. No buyer could afford to loose that, that's what makes his investment valuable.
    Probably you could tempt a few retirees into consultancy roles... but yeah a lot of the reactor guys will be old - one of the retired guys on my volunteering was a student who helped out when they were fuelling berkeley... he says they were lowering GM tubes in on fishing lines. :eek:

    A lot of our reactor experience is in gas cooled graphite reactors - though hard won, that experience is pretty worthless these days.

    fwiw if you're interested in when the ******* was dropped in UK civil nuclear policy this is an interesting report http://www.foe.org.uk/resource/repor...g_critical.pdf

    obv it's broadly anti nuclear but it's an interesting read if you ever wondered why we seem to have virtually built every nuclear station to a different design and output rather than standardising on something sensible, debugging it once and then duplicating it (like the sensible french)

Reply

Submit reply

Register

Thanks for posting! You just need to create an account in order to submit the post
  1. this can't be left blank
    that username has been taken, please choose another Forgotten your password?
  2. this can't be left blank
    this email is already registered. Forgotten your password?
  3. this can't be left blank

    6 characters or longer with both numbers and letters is safer

  4. this can't be left empty
    your full birthday is required
  1. By joining you agree to our Ts and Cs, privacy policy and site rules

  2. Slide to join now Processing…

Updated: April 3, 2012
New on TSR

GCSE English mock revision

Revise together & check out past papers

Article updates
Useful resources
Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.