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Businesses Japan

Delays, Confusion as Toshiba Reports $6 Billion Nuclear Hit and Slides To Loss (reuters.com) 88

Makiko Yamazaki, reporting for Reuters: After a day of delays and confusion, Japan's Toshiba said on Tuesday it expected to book a $6.3 billion hit to its U.S. nuclear unit, a writedown that wipes out its shareholder equity and will drag the group to a full-year loss. Hours earlier on Tuesday, the battered conglomerate rattled investors by failing to release its earnings on schedule, saying initially it was 'not ready' and then announcing later it needed more time to probe its Westinghouse nuclear business after internal reports uncovered potential problems. The figures eventually released were numbers that have yet to be approved by its auditor and Toshiba cautioned investors that a major revision was possible. Fully audited numbers are now not due till March 14 after the firm was granted a reprieve for its formal filing by Japanese regulators. "Finally now people are starting to recognize that internal control problems, the accounting issues and governance issues are very real and no longer abstract," said Zuhair Khan, an analyst at Jefferies in Tokyo. "They impact the viability of the company."
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Delays, Confusion as Toshiba Reports $6 Billion Nuclear Hit and Slides To Loss

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Countries that want to and commit to building nuclear can do it well, on decent schedule and budget. A half ass commitment will fail for any large project, be it nuclear or other.

    • by mspohr ( 589790 )

      Part of Toshiba's problem is the reactors they are building in China.
      Nuclear has gone from "too cheap to meter" to "too expensive to matter".

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by cheesybagel ( 670288 )

        Yet nuclear is still subsidizing the renewables in Germany and elsewhere last time I looked at it. Funny uh?

        • by mspohr ( 589790 )

          Your comment doesn't make any sense...
          Here's Wikipedia's entry for Germany:
          Germany[edit]
          "Comparison of the levelized cost of electricity for some newly built renewable and fossil-fuel based power stations in euro per kWh (Germany, 2013)
          In November 2013, the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE assessed the levelised generation costs for newly built power plants in the German electricity sector.[39] PV systems reached LCOE between 0.078 and 0.142 Euro/kWh in the third quarter of 2013, depending

          • https://www.dissentmagazine.or... [dissentmagazine.org]
            To escape long blackouts many times a year, Germany is planning to back up every gigawatt of wind and solar average capacity with another gigawatt of gas or coal. As it builds its intermittent fleet it will not be able to shut down existing fossil-fueled plants; they will remain in service, complete with staff, maintenance, and overhead expenses and the infrastructure of transmission lines, coal mines, and gas pipelines. And because the dispatchable nuclear generators that c

            • This article is bullshit.
              There is no such thing as dispatchable nuclear or coal. These plants are 100% on or off and it takes days or weeks to turn them on.

              • Nuclear can be ramped up and down. It's not as fast as a natural gas plant but it can do fast load-follow especially if the load is highly predictable. Even modern coal power plants can do it to a degree and theoretically a coal gasification plant could ramp up and down as quickly as a natural gas power plant.

                • by mspohr ( 589790 )

                  Nuclear output can only be reduced by a small amount and only slowly. It can't be increased again due to poisoning of the core.
                  Coal gasification could be dispatchable but the plants, for the most part, don't exist (only 272 worldwide). They also produce a lot of toxic compounds.

    • by Maury Markowitz ( 452832 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2017 @08:39PM (#53869839) Homepage

      > Countries that want to and commit to building nuclear can do it well, on decent schedule and budget

      Uhh, yeah.

      Over the years, Russia has committed to building something like 50 reactors. After Chernobyl, that was reduced to something like 25. They have grand plans for a closed fuel cycle using breeder/burners and reprocessing, and lots of other ideas. So far they've successfully built three. The rest remain hopelessly overdue or completely unfunded. They have decommed as many as they've built since 2000.

      China had big plans too, something between 50 and 100 reactors over a 25 to 45 year period. Then the 2008 Sichuan earthquake happened, and they learned that all the construction companies lied and cut corners practically everywhere. The famous school that collapsed only did so because the construction team couldn't be bothered to bend the end of the rebars in the vertical supports, which would have otherwise easily survived. This, needless to say, opened many people's eyes, and the plans have been scaled back to about 25 reactors.

      However, these plans are very much in doubt. CNNC based much of its economic arguments on buying up old western designs and then selling them, with Chinese financing, around the world. This did not happen, no one is interested in building nuclear and sales have been rather limited. As a result, the government has been somewhat more interested in renewables, which everyone is buying, and the country has since become the largest installer of wind and solar on the planet. They install more PV in the last five years than the entire planned nuclear buildout.

      Nuclear is dead. Siemens, Framitome, AECL, Westinghouse, Toshiba, B&W, BNFL, and on and on and on. The few remaining players are all on life support - GE looks very much like they'll end development with their current generation, Areva only remains alive due to repeated massive French taxpayer infusions, and CNNC's only prospects are local.

      You can pretend this isn't true, and many people reply to my messages talking about all these paper plans, but to anyone that's actually worked in the energy industry, the CAPEX > $7.50 is a death knell and everyone knows it.

      • Sure, obviously it isn't viable when the government front-loads it with thousands and thousands of regulations to cover the externalities of Nuclear power, when the government does no such thing with Solar or Wind (AKA non-base load generating power). Are they covering the recycling of silicon when they purchase thousands of solar panels? Are they considering the below minimum wage Chinese workers that work in toxic factories to produce your 'green' energy panels? Are they considering the wildlife impact of
    • Maybe Japan's economic woes were the deciding factor in Toshiba's purchase of the plague-ridden Westinghouse Nuclear Division. But with a "hit" of over 6 billion bucks, the deal was definitely not "clean, safe, too cheap to meter." And with plants throughout Europe, the US and South Korea, I won't be surprised if Toshiba is in for even more trouble.
  • by swschrad ( 312009 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2017 @01:28PM (#53866727) Homepage Journal

    appears there was horrid due diligence all the way down the line when Toshiba decided to go for the Westinghouse nuke business as Westinghouse shed its skin to become CBS. and then one bad addition after another. shame.

  • Other problems (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2017 @01:29PM (#53866733)

    Shares in the group slid 8 percent, putting the company's market value at 973 billion yen ($8.6 billion), less than half its value in mid-December. Just under a decade ago, the firm was worth almost 5 trillion yen.

    Lost over 80% of it's market value in ten years. Sounds like Toshiba has other problems besides this.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I see value, buy!

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Toshiba has certainly had it's fair share of problems lately, but in this instance it's the nuclear division that is specifically underperforming.

      Basically low demand, low profitability, and poor management are to blame.

  • As I've posted before, Fuck Toshiba and the [generic beast of burden] they rode in on. They have by far the worst consumer customer service I've ever run across.

    • by b0bby ( 201198 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2017 @02:08PM (#53867073)

      Thanks, I'll make sure to get my next nuclear power plant from someone else!

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Toshiba Customer Support: Hello, and thank you for calling Toshiba Customer Support. How can I help you today?
        cellocgw: There's hole burning through the bottom of my Toshiba Nuclear Power Plant and it's really, really hot in here. What should I do?
        TCS: Have you tried rebooting?
        c: Yes, I've tried rebooting. I've also pulled the core out while the reactor was on and then re-inserted to core and turned it back on. That's how I fix my Blackberry.
        TCS: Great. What happened when you did that?
        c: I got even hot

    • by dwywit ( 1109409 )

      Never dealt with Asus, I suspect.

      I'm rather displeased with Toshiba, too, but not for that reason. They've pulled out of the low-end and consumer laptop business, which is a shame, because in 10 years I've only had one customer with a fault that required talking to Toshiba customer support.

      Now I've got to find a new brand that has similar reliability. Perhaps I'll give Lenovo a try - wouldn't touch HP with a ten-foot pole.

  • both melted down this weekend. Good. Never buy a toshiba hard drive, any overheating and they cook faster than a radiated cockroach during a thermonuclear holocaust. That and their warranty sucks nuts too.

    Hope they all burn, now give me my damn RMA
  • Has solar reached the point where nuclear isn't necessary? I realize that storage is still a big issue but on such a large scale, it would seem there would be a number of solutions for this other than traditional battery storage and maybe it makes more sense to have largely independent homes or subdivisions each with their own storage than single unit large scale power plants going forward. As bullish as I used to feel about nuclear, it just seems passé these days.
    • Going from memory, but I did the math for an off-grid house at 34 degrees latitude some time back, with a winter daily energy consumption of 18kWh and summer around 28-30. With 40kWh of battery, I would need 15kW of PV on a 2-axis tracker plus a 2kW generator that would need to run about 40 hours per year. To get the generator down to 8 hours per year, I needed to double the battery. This left me "burning" half my annual energy production, as there was no need for all the summer production.

      In essence, th
      • by dwywit ( 1109409 )

        If you were to replace electric heating with gas/wood, and electric cooking with gas (or wood), your daily kWh (of electrical demand) would plummet. Any electrical heating element is a killer for off-grid use.

        Is air-conditioning part of the consideration? Are you planning to live somewhere that you might do without it? Is your off-grid house going to have some passive cooling designs?

        If you want to go off-grid, you've *got* to change your outlook. In order to avoid spending more money on PV, batteries, and

        • Completely agree and understand; the plan was mainly an energy balance exercise and I understood the stupidity of trying to do it that way (if it was real) when I started. But, when you scale it to a discussion about the overall grid and means of stored energy it is relevant.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Burning wood may be fine for individuals or families, but as you scale up into the hundreds of thousands or millions of households, you get a lot of smog/smoke, and then you run out of trees.

  • It's not a very good product. That's why Toshiba is loosing money on this business.

    The suspended emergency cooling system makes the containment building a heat exchanger and a pressure vessel in case of an emergency. Not that that's a bad idea, however it's an untested design improvement. It's little wonder clients would be wary, with all the terrorism now a days.

    Its primary competitor is the EPR reactor whose containment building is double walled and resistant to military attacks, so it's a much toughe

  • The only nuclear business that might make sense is recycling nuclear waste. Eventually, there will be desperate customers. The catch is that it may take a long time for the politicians to figure out there is no other way to get rid of nuclear waste.

Memory fault -- core...uh...um...core... Oh dammit, I forget!

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