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    Alex Brummer: Setbacks For A Green Future

    January 19, 2023 - Alex Brummer, Daily Mail, London


      Jan. 18—Britain's dreams of being a global leader in greener energy are rapidly evaporating. Successive Tory governments, in spite of all the rhetorical enthusiasm, have so far failed miserably to embrace technology for a more nuclear future.

      And plans to challenge Germany, China and others by building mega factories to produce battery cells for electric cars have been abruptly halted with Blyth-based Britishvolt going into administration.

      UK nuclear engineer Newcleo tells the Mail it has decided to give up on government support for its proposed project after endless delays in selecting a suitable site amid the revolving door on Downing Street.

      Instead, chief executive Stefano Buono plans to build the company's prototype nuclear station in France.

      There is a friendly attitude towards to nuclear generation in Paris where President Macron has taken Electricite de France (EDF) back into public ownership.

      In spite of former prime minister Boris Johnson's enthusiastic public backing for new nuclear, just reiterated in the Commons, very little has happened. Before leaving office, former Rolls-Royce chief executive Warren East was critical of the failure of successive Tory governments to get behind the company's proposals for a fleet of small modular reactors (SMRs), based on proven turbine technology. Some £200m of support for the research and development phase has been promised but how much funding has been provided is uncertain. In any case, such a level of support for a potential multi-billion project, with huge export possibilities, is hardly representative of the kind of initiative shown by the UK in the past when it became the first country in the world to pioneer a commercial atomic power station at Calder Hall in Cumbria in 1956.

      Newcleo and Rolls-Royce are not the first potential nuclear investors to feel let down by the UK authorities. Japan's Hitachi believed it had the backing for a new build at Wylfa Newydd on Anglesey but abandoned the project in September 2020 when the Government withdrew backing. The move caused frustration in Tokyo and at Hitachi, which has a record of inward investment in the UK.

      There is a possibility that Hitachi, in conjunction with US industrial giant GEC, could launch its own new generation of SMRs beating Rolls-Royce to the post.

      At present, the only new nuclear plant being built is the super reactor at Hinkley Point in Somerset by EDF with backing from China. EDF is also the cornerstone investor and developer at the proposed £20bn Sizewell C plant in Suffolk although a final sign-off by the Government is awaited.

      Britain is in desperate need of new nuclear power plants as the existing ageing fleet comes off line. As the country plots a greener future based on wind, solar and potentially tidal power (still unproven), it needs a reliable base load to keep the lights on when the wind doesn't blow.

      The collapse of the Britishvolt project and a nuclear stalemate demonstrates how hard it is going to be to achieve Britain's goal of creating a carbon-neutral future.

      Leaky roof

      Anyone reading the press release of the latest results from Matthew Moulding's online health and beauty pioneer THG might be cajoled into thinking 2022 trading has been an unalloyed success.

      It highlights record sales of £2.25bn and suggests that expected earnings are in line with market expectations.

      Maybe. But the reality is rather different. The company disclosed that it now projects earnings for the year to be £80m which is way below the £100m to £130m it forecast a few months ago.

      If this was in line with market expectations, it is hard to fathom why the company's shares plummeted by 21.4pc to 53.84p, one-third of its peak price of 184p over the last 12 months.

      How great it would be if THG were to become a Manchester-based Amazon.

      A little more credibility in what it has to say might help.

      Sweet spot

      Johnnie Walker spirits champion Diageo is developing a taste for rum after its success with Captain Morgan.

      Instead of looking to the Caribbean, it is going all the way to the Philippines, paying a cool £342m to snap up cane-based luxury brand Don Papa.

      From single malts in Texas to gin distillers in California, the world has become newly knighted Ivan Menezes' oyster.


      (c)2023 the Daily Mail (London)

      Visit the Daily Mail (London) at

      Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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