Friday, 14 October 2011

++ Serco wins RAF Valley contract ++

RAF Valley staff learned today that Babcock International has lost the Supply, Motor Transport, Workshop and Fire Services contract for the Hawks at Valley. Government services outsourcing firm, Serco Group — which, amongst other things runs hospitals, prisons and local authority education services — will take over Babcock's responsibilities from April 2012 after a six month handover period. Babcock will retain the Aircraft maintenance part of the contract until it comes up again for tender in a couple of years time.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Problems on the HORIZON?

Its being reported today that RWE N.power — one half of Horizon Nuclear Power, the joint venture company behind Wylfa B — is looking to pull out of the UK new nuclear programme because of the huge costs it is having to bear due to the forced closure of nuclear plants in their home market of Germany. In the wake of the Fukushima disaster the German government, under pressure from Germany's historically strong Green Party, decided to close down all of its 17 nuclear reactors by 2022.

It was always clear after the German decision to scrap nuclear power that the sums for Wylfa might begin to look decidedly shaky if the potential to duplicate similar new nuclear plants elsewhere was diminished — especially when you also add into the mix the deteriorating European economic situation. Indeed, this is not the first time that rumours about the demise of Horizon have appeared in the press — back in July the Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that both RWE and their other partner, E.On, were on the verge of shelving their UK nuclear projects. More recently there have been further rumours that Horizon had been looking for a third energy company to join the joint venture in order to both generate more investment and spread the risks further.

So, will this stop Wylfa B? My guess is probably not. Why? See the below diagram:

Source: The Economist

The fact is that most nuclear plants (including the current Wylfa reactor) and half of UK's coal plants are due to close over the coming decade meaning that of a total of around 75GW in generating capacity in the UK, 20GW will disappear by 2015. And as the current peak demand is around 65GW and growing, that means that the UK could be facing energy blackouts by as soon as 2015.

So ultimately the fact is that the UK Government needs Wylfa B far more than Horizon needs to build it. Lights will start to go off within a few years so there is no option but for the UK Government to ensure that plants like Wylfa are built, by hook or by crook… 

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Anglesey Aluminium: Credit where credit is due

Following yesterday's announcement by Anglesey Aluminium of the preferred bidder for the final parcel of their land in Holyhead, we now know that the Penrhos site, which shed 450 jobs in 2009 when the Aluminium smelter closed, will soon provide for well over double that number of jobs.

This did not happen by accident. The credit for it lies not with the various politicians now queuing up to claim some of the kudos, but with Anglesey Aluminium's Works Director, Brian King. He persuaded the Rio Tinto Board not to take the easy option of a quick land sale to developers and instead resolved to only sell the site on to companies with concerete business plans to create sustainable jobs. 

So just two years on from when Anglesey Aluminium was forced to close, we now know that the site will soon provide work for over 1,000 people. This is a far better 'legacy' for Ynys Môn than Anglesey Labour Party's shortsighted demands that the site be gifted to the Island like the old Shell works at Rhosgoch — a site which incidentally still lies empty more than 20 years later. 

So hats off to Brian King for his vision and resolve to do the right thing by both Holyhead and Ynys Môn.