Saturday, September 4, 2010

Two views on nuclear energy in Asia

Ed Kee and Steve Kidd talk about its current dominance, and future market potential, for the global nuclear industry

Note to readers: The Nuclear Energy Asia 2010 conference is scheduled for Dec 7-8 in Hong Kong. The conference organizers conducted interviews with two leading nuclear industry analysts who will speak there and made the dialog available for publication on this blog ahead of the meeting.

Both experts were interviewed by Bryan Camoens, Online Communications Manager, IQPC Worldwide, Singapore [ ]

Asia to lead the shift to nuclear power

Ed Kee, NERA Associates, Washington DC


Edward Kee, Vice President, NERA Economic Consultants, speaks exclusively to Energy IQ’s Bryan Camoens on the impact China and South Korea will have on the global nuclear industry. Edward also touches on the nuclear sector in Asia and the future of nuclear energy worldwide.

Bryan Camoens: What is the competitive global position of nuclear power plant designs and vendors?

Edward Kee: The most important issue for reactor designs is to get a lot of units built and in operation as fast as possible. This gets the design down the learning curve to lower costs and shorten schedules, but also stimulates additional sales from buyers who look for low risk and demonstrated success. While design features are important, market success is much more important.

The Westinghouse/Toshiba AP1000 is the market leader. This design has multiple units under construction in China, with many more planned. It is also the dominant reactor design for new nuclear in the US market, with an approved NRC Design Certification that is being updated. This design is also offered worldwide.

Other designs, including the Chinese CPR1000 and the Russian VVER, have a lot of units built and planned. However, designs are not competing in the world market in the same way as the AP1000. The CPR1000 is only being built in China (for now) and the VVER design is not competing in some key markets, including the USA.

The Japanese ABWR design (now offered by GE/Hitachi and by Toshiba) has multiple units built and planned in Japan and Taiwan, but this design has not been very successful outside Japan. One plant is in the US first wave (the South Texas Project), but is more than a year away from actually starting construction and faces some significant challenges as one of the world’s first merchant nuclear plants (i.e., selling its output into the deregulated Texan ERCOT electricity market).

The Korean APR1400 design is well underway in South Korea and has a recent large sale in the UAE.

The French EPR design is well back in the league tables. Despite having the first Generation III unit start construction (in Finland), EPR has yet to win the level of international orders that it hoped for. Another EPR is under construction in France (Flamanville) and two are under construction in China. The Areva plan for multiple units in the US market seems to have resulted in only one potential first-wave project, the Unistar Calvert Cliffs 3 project.

Calvert Cliffs 3, like the South Texas Project, is a merchant nuclear plant that faces significant commercial/financial hurdles; it will be located in the PJM electricity market in the US mid-Atlantic region. Areva has a growing portfolio of potential EPR projects around the world, but none of these seem to have near-term sales.

The APWR design from Mitsubishi is also struggling to get traction, with three units planned in Japan and two second-wave projects in the US.

GE’s ESBWR design seems unable to get a single sale, despite some attractive reactor design features (e.g., passive safety, fewer moving parts),.

Bryan Camoens: How will China’s large new nuclear build program impact the global industry?

Edward Kee: China’s large build program and their selection of the AP1000 design have already had a large impact on the global nuclear power industry. China’s strong nuclear build plan will enable it to develop a very capable and experienced domestic nuclear power industry. When (not if!) China makes a real entry into the nuclear power plant export market, it will be a formidable competitor.

The large CPR1000 build program may also offer a platform for export sales. While considered to be a Generation II design, it incorporates many features of Generation III designs.

Bryan Camoens: What does South Korea’s entry into the nuclear power export market mean for global nuclear power plant development?

Edward Kee: South Korea’s 30-year effort to develop its nuclear power industry has succeeded. Already, the APR1400 is ahead of the Areva EPR in industry league tables. It is essential that the South Korean nuclear industry focus on successfully delivering the UAE projects (i.e., on time, on budget, and with good operational record on startup). If the UAE projects go well, there will be many more market opportunities.

Bryan Camoens: How will the nuclear power plant industry in Japan, the US and Europe compete with Chinese and South Korean nuclear power plant vendors?

Edward Kee: In my view, the focus on the US market by some vendors in the last decade was a strategic error. The long US NRC licensing process (i.e., the first construction licenses are not expected until the end of 2011, at the earliest) and the commercial/financial hurdles (i.e., large for the merchant projects, but also present for regulated projects) faced by new US nuclear projects will mean that only a few (four or less) US projects will start construction in the first wave. Meanwhile, China and other countries are moving ahead now with large build programs.

There is a view that Chinese and South Korean nuclear power plant vendors will have strong cost positions. A bigger competitive advantage is that these vendors have significant support from government owners. These vendors will also have, as a result of current internal/domestic nuclear build, much more experience.

Bryan Camoens: How does the role of government in the Asian nuclear power industry enable nuclear power plant development?

Edward Kee: There are several ways. First, the assurance of a market is key; having early orders for multiple units from government-owned utilities is something that western commercial vendors do not have.

Secondly, the national commitment to develop an integrated nuclear supply chain with significant long-term investments in human resources and manufacturing capacity. Like France in the 1970s, a large order of new nuclear units drives supply chain investments and long production lines, which lowers the cost of the nuclear units. Large national nuclear fleets also provide additional benefits in operation and maintenance and fuel cycle.

Third, financial resources are important. For example, the Russian offer to finance, build, own and operate nuclear power plants in Turkey is only possible due to Rosatom’s government ownership.

Fourth, the ability to put forward an integrated nuclear power plant offer to outside buyers that incorporates a seamless integrated supply chain. Western vendors must cobble together a series of subcontracts and related agreements from unrelated commercial entities; each of these agreements adds cost (to meet risk premiums and profit margins of subcontractors), risk (as responsibility is shared between multiple commercial entities), and complexity (project management is more difficult due to multiple entities with multiple interests and contractual rights).

Finally, these governments largely avoided the electricity industry experiments in de-regulation, restructuring and electricity markets. In the US and the UK (and in some other countries), electricity generation has been largely privatized with investment decisions made on the basis of commercial outcomes. While this worked well so long as significant baseload generation capacity from the prior era remained in operation, there are serious questions about whether this approach will result in the investment needed to replace aging baseload generation plants, much less any investments in very-high-capital-cost, very-low-variable-cost nuclear power plants..

Bryan Camoens: In your opinion is Nuclear a feasible option for the future of power generation or are there still safety, technological and political issues that need to be addressed?

Edward Kee: In my view, a major shift away from combustion-based energy is inevitable – nuclear power will be a very large part of this shift.

Safety and technical issues related to nuclear power are resolved. With millions of operating hours from hundreds of nuclear power plants, the industry is well down the learning curve. The record of safety and operational excellence in the last decade and longer shows that nuclear power is a safe and mature technology. As we experiment with small and alternate reactor designs, the aim should be to achieve better safety and lower cost.

A key issue is cost. Nuclear power is expensive, in terms of the capital cost of a new plant. While the cost of electricity over a new nuclear plant’s 60-year life is low, making the case that customers (or investors) today pay for a project that will benefit their children and grandchildren is hard. Some governments (e.g., China, Russia, UAE) have made this difficult inter-generational investment decision, but other governments may not find it easy. Commercial utilities may find it hard to do so. It may be difficult for nuclear power to expand significantly in the West without re-thinking the role of government.

Politics and public support remain as issues. There remains some vocal and emotional opposition to nuclear power, with groups like Greenpeace maintaining a constant stream of anti-nuclear messages. I am encouraged that young people seem to be less fussed about nuclear power and that opinion polls show growing support for nuclear power. I am also encouraged that a number of countries without nuclear power are seriously considering it.

As new nuclear power plants are completed and placed into operation, public and political support should grow.

Cost of nuclear plants is the biggest issue

Steve Kidd, World Nuclear Association, London

clip_image002[6]Steve Kidd, Director of Strategy & Research, World Nuclear Association, speaks exclusively to Energy IQ editor Bryan Camoens on China’s potential impact on the global nuclear industry. Steve also talks about what’s driving the nuclear renaissance in Asia.

Bryan Camoens: Could you please elaborate on the historical development of nuclear and how it got to where it is today?

Steve Kidd: Commercial nuclear power dates from the late 1950s but it wasn’t until the 1970s that it entered a rapid expansion phase. The oil crisis of 1973 had a lot to do with this and many countries started to build nuclear generating stations to reduce dependence on oil. Growth however stalled in the 1980s, particularly after the Chernobyl accident in 1986, for a variety of reasons – not just public opinion/plant safety concerns.

Slower power demand growth, worsening nuclear economics (cheap fossil fuels) and the move to liberalized power markets all played a part. The period of slow growth lasted until the early years of this new century, when a “nuclear renaissance” has begun with many more plant orders.

Bryan Camoens: How will China’s large new nuclear build program impact the global industry?

Steve Kidd: China’s program is hugely significant. Partly due to the scale – almost half of the reactors under construction are now located there, but also because it is building new reactor designs in big numbers and lessons will be learned on cutting costs and globalizing the supply chain.

Bryan Camoens: What are the key drivers for the nuclear renaissance globally as well as in Asia?

Steve Kidd: There are three reasons. – Firstly, Nuclear economics which looks much better now with higher fossil fuel prices and efficient operations of existing nuclear plants. The Environmental factor – nuclear’s low carbon emissions are advantageous for greenhouse gas and clean city air reasons and finally, security of supply – nuclear reduces the dependence on imported fossil fuels from potentially unstable suppliers

Bryan Camoens: Could you please elaborate on the existing growth and issues in the international market of nuclear fuel?

Steve Kidd: With rising demand for fuel, stemming from reactor growth and operating them more intensively, supply will have to rise substantially, particularly as secondary supplies of fuel (ex-weapons material, inventories etc) may not be so readily available in the future. So a lot of new investment is now taking place in new uranium mines and centrifuge enrichment facilities – after a period of low investment, the facilities require a lot of money spending on them.

Bryan Camoens: What are some of the challenges, growth areas and issues in developing the international reactor supply chain?

Steve Kidd: A lot of attention has been given to possible supply shortages for large forgings for reactor components, but this appears to be easing with new investments. Otherwise the supply chain needs to gear up to building a lot of new reactors and also refurbishing the older ones, which are likely now to operate for up to 60 years. All areas will benefit – achieving high local content will be an issue in all reactor projects but the arguments for developing a fully international supply chain are strong.

Bryan Camoens: In your opinion is nuclear a feasible option for the future of power generation or are there still, technological, political and safety issues that need to be addressed?

Steve Kidd: I believe nuclear should offer a strong challenge in future power projects and will do well. There are still public acceptance issues in some countries but these are gradually dying out as the industry’s good safety record begins to be better understood.

The technology is very well proven (unlike carbon capture and storage – CCS) and can be deployed on a wide scale to produce a lot of power. Possibly the biggest issue is the cost of plants – the industry needs to find ways to make the capita investment costs per kWh of new facilities lower – building in volume in China is a good start to this.

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Stand up double for small modular reactors

NRC and ANS announcements point to a brighter future for licensing innovative technologies

small reactorsTwo developments in the normally quiet week prior to the end of summer Labor Day weekend show the future of small nuclear reactors could be brighter than the past.

There’s a new point person at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on small modular reactors (SMRs). Also, the American Nuclear Society (ANS) released eight white papers on generic licensing issues.

A small modular reactor is defined by a power level in the range of 300-350 MW. See this World Nuclear Organization August 2010 briefing for details on designs and features.

NRC gets game

In a news release for Sept 1 the agency announced that NRC Commissioner George Apostolakis has asked the agency’s staff to take steps to improve the licensing reviews of potential applications from SMR vendors.

The objective is to produce a plan within six months that uses risk insights into pre-application activities and the potential review of small modular reactor applications.

“There is considerable interest in SMRs. The power level of these reactors would be significantly lower than that of existing reactors. Risk insights from PRAs could help focus resources on the most risk-significant aspects of a SMR design and enhance the safety focus of review guidance in the near term.” said Apostolakis.

The other four NRC commissioners including Chairman Jaczko joined Apostolakis in signing off on the initiative. See also a speech by NRC Commissioner William C. Ostendorff last June to a Platts conference on SMRs. The key NRC document to read to know what’s on the agency’s mind is a policy review of SMR licensing issues (SECY-10-0034) published last March.

ANS white papers available

white papersIt could be a coincidence, but the NRC’s action comes two days before the long-awaited release of eight white papers by the American Nuclear Society on licensing issues for SMRs. In a statement posted on the organization’s web site Sept 3, ANS said it has released the Report of the President's Special Committee on Small and Medium Sized Reactor (SMR) Licensing Issues.

The ANS statement said:

“The Society has taken a leadership role in addressing the SMR licensing issues because the licensing and eventual deployment of SMRs will lead to:

  • job creation
  • export of U.S. goods and services
  • benefits to national security and energy policy
  • reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”
The SMR Report is available at the ANS website by clicking here (large PDF file).

Sanders ANS Immediate Past President Tom Sanders (left) established the ANS President’s ‘Special Committee’ earlier this year. Sanders directed the group to develop solutions to SMR generic licensing issues.

In addition to the eight papers released this week, ANS is writing another six papers that it will complete by November.

While the ANS is not directly engaging with the NRC on licensing issues, it has provided its white papers to the agency and the Nuclear Energy Institute. Sanders briefed NRC Chairman Jaczko on the papers earlier this year and the role of ANS. Sanders said in the ANS statement:

“The SMR Special Committee led the nuclear science and engineering community in organizing a forum for technical dialogue on SMR licensing issues.”

The entire suite of papers is a collaborative effort with the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and the International Atomic Energy Committee (IAEA).

ANS members on the committee participate as individuals and not as representatives of the SMR vendors, government agencies, or other organizations.

Prior coverage on this blog

  • 08/18/10 – NEI seeks consensus on licensing small reactors
  • 07/28-10 – ANS committee works SMR licensing issues
  • 06/22/10 – How to open running room for small reactors
  • 11/21/09 – Will the nuclear renaissance start with small reactors?
  • 06/26/09 – Change the NRC cost recovery rule for small reactors

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Friday, September 3, 2010

Canadian uranium for September 4, 2010

This blog post is an edited version of several reports published in Fuel Cycle Week by International Nuclear Associates, Washington, DC.

cardinalQuebec says no to protests seeking a ban

The Quebec government rejected protests taking place Aug 17 at the provincial legislature calling for a ban on uranium mining. Serge Simard, the natural resources minister, said, "It is out of the question." And he predicted that it could hurt the industry. His prediction came true as Terra Ventures (CVE:TAS) shut down its exploration activity near Sept-lles, Quebec.

The company reportedly yanked its drill rigs and camp equipment from the site. Gunther Roehlig, CEO, did not return a call from FCW, but a person answering the phone at the company's investor relations office confirmed media reports the firm exited prospecting operations at the site because of the protests.

The Lac Kachiwiss uranium property was first explored in 1978 when Getty Mines reported a resource estimate (non 43-101 compliant) of 18.3 million short tons of "indicated plus geologically inferred" mineralization. Terra Ventures first reported its drilling results from the site in December 2008.

In Sept-lles, Marc Fafard, who leads the protest group, said the group was out to give Terra Ventures "a bad name in the industry."

There are no producing uranium mines in Quebec, but there are numerous exploration projects.

In response to the call for a ban on uranium mining by the provincial government, Uracan (TSX: URC) another Quebec junior uranium firm, hired Yvan Loubier, a former member of the Quebec parliament, to lobby on its behalf. He said in a statement the company is intent on stemming fears of uranium mining based on misinformation.

"We are confident that we can convince the majority of the population that uranium is safe, reliable, and useful. Unfortunately, the uranium industry is too often the target of a campaign of disinformation and denigration, which requires taking the time to set the record straight."

At its North Shore Uranium Property in Quebec Uracan Resources has outlined three NI 43-101 compliant inferred resources that total 44 million pounds U3O8. The company is targeting near surface uranium deposits that could be mined with open pit economics. Numerous historical uranium prospecting occurred at the North Shore property in the 1960s and 1970s, and several companies reportedly drilled a total of more than 100 holes on the project.

The Quebec Mining Association also weighed in on response to the protests. In a statement the association said "it opposes demands . . . calling for a moratorium on development of uranium in Quebec."

Slater inks deal with Eagle Plains at Karin Lake

Slater Mining (TSX:SLM) and Eagle Plains Resources (TSX:EPL) announced an agreement July 25 for Slater to earn a 60% interest in the Karin Lake property located 40 km east of Cameco's Key Lake deposit in Saskatchewan. To earn the 60% stake, Slater will complete $3 million in exploration expenditures, make $500,000 in cash payments, and issue one million shares of stock. At market close Aug 23, Slater's stock traded at $0.25/share unchanged over the past 52-weeks with a market cap of $4.4 million.

Historical assays of the property showed values of up to 8% U3O8. The property was acquired by Eagle Plains in 2006. Slater will begin work this year with an initial expenditure of $200,000 including review of existing geologic information.

Kivalliq closes CDN$5million in private placement

Kivalliq (CVE:KIV) closed a CDN$5 million of a CDN$6.2 million private placement with Lumina Capital Limited Partnership to develop Kivalliq's Lac Cinquante uranium site in Nunavut, Canada. The site is the core asset of a 225,000 acre Angilak project. So far the company has spent $6.7 million on exploration of the project including geological mapping and drilling. Results from preliminary drilling last June indicated up to 4.8% U3O8 at one site.

Virginia uranium study panel named
Green groups charge members have conflict of interest

Virginia uranium[7]The kick-off of a study of the issues associated with mining a large uranium deposit in southwestern Virginia may be delayed after two environmental groups documented what they say are potential conflicts of interest regarding the study.

The green groups said in formal, written comments provided submitted to the NAS, and provided to FCW, that several members of the panel have close ties to the uranium mining industry through direct employment, consulting relationships, or serving in leadership positions at professional or industry associations. Gene Adesso, a spokesman for the Roanoke River Basin Association, told FCW his group, and the Dan River Basin Association, object to four of the 13 panel members because of these types of ties.

He said one members is on the board of a mining association, another has a consulting practice with mining industry clients, a third is directly employed by a major uranium mining company, and a fourth is a consultant to the same firm and other uranium miners.

Adesso said these relationships "could significantly impair their objectivity" when it comes to the Virginia study. He said his group wants these members removed from the panel and replaced by people "who are free of any obligation" to the mining industry or "who might benefit from the findings of the study."

Jennifer Walsh, a spokesperson for the NAS, told FCW panel members are required to "self-disclose direct financial conflicts of interest" when they are invited to serve on the panel. She said the NAS reviews the financial conflict of interest disclosures to insure members will not be biased in their review of the scientific issues.

"Conflict of interest issues are addressed on a case-by-case basis."

"Panel members are chosen to reflect a balance of scientific interests," Walsh added. "We expect them to have their own points of view."

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) project is being paid to carry out an impartial review of the proposed mine which will be reviewed by the state legislature. Uranium mining is currently banned in Virginia, but a Canadian firm, which is providing the funds for the study, wants to mine the reported 100 million pounds U3O8 at the Coles Hill site. The NAS study is being managed by The Center for Coal & Energy Research at Virginia Tech. The entire cost is being paid for by Virginia Uranium (TSX:VAE) as part of its 28% earn-in equity position in the uranium deposit.

Norman Reynolds, CEO of Virginia Uranium, told FCW in an interview earlier this year the reason the firm agreed to have the National Research Council do the study "is that their reputation is beyond reproach." Michael Karmis, Director of the Virginia Tech research center agreed. He said, "the source of the money is irrelevant."

The panel hasn't met yet. Walsh said the first meeting will take place "before the end of 2010." A report is expected from the panel by December 2011.

Colorado mining board updates uranium prospecting rules
Can Powertech live with them?

The Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board Aug 12 established new rules affecting in-situ uranium mining. The new, stringent requirements were opposed by Powertech (TSEW:PWE) and other uranium miners, but in a statement to the news media Aug 13, the Richard Clement, Powertech CEO, said the miner can "achieve what the board wants."

The new rules require in-situ leach uranium mine applications to protect groundwater to existing conditions or to state ground water standards. Also, the application must demonstrate the proposed mining technology has been used at five other locations without harming groundwater quality. The application must include detailed baseline hydrology information.

In the area of public notice, the new rules make public all prospecting notices and the public can comment on them. Miners have objected to these requirements because of the possible release of confidential business information. The new rules also give third parties the right to demonstrate legal standing to appeal prospecting decisions by the Board.

In a hearing held prior to the adoption of the rules, John Fognani, an attorney representing Powertech, told the FCW the new rules would require miners to test groundwater before beginning their prospecting work. "It's a Catch-22," he said.

"You can't gather this information without doing the prospecting work."

The original draft of the new rule only required miners to conduct the groundwater studies prior to the start of mining operations.

Fognanni said the Centennial project can meet the requirements, but the new regulations, "make things more difficult." He added he expects the new rules will be challenged by both miners and green groups.

"We hope that environmental regulations will be used to protect human health and not to frustrate or delay legitimate ISR projects."

Jeffrey Parsons, an attorney for the Western Mining Action Project, an environmental group, told FCW Powertech's objections are "silly." He said the state has always had the authority to require the miner to test the water before prospecting work begins.

"Now these regulations make this authority explicit."

But Clement said that the discretion the Board gave to the state agency means rules can be interpreted "to the point where you can't accomplish the goals in the regulations" before starting operations.

In the end, Clement said Powertech will live with the new rules. But he called them "higher standards than in other states."

Theo Stein, a spokesman for the mining board, told FCW that Powertech's updated statement that the rule as not "fatal" to ISR mining indicates "that perspectives evolve during the ruling making."

Powertech is developing its Centennial ISR mine near Nunn, Colo., about 15 mile east of Ft. Collins. Centennial covers 7,320 acres of uranium mineral rights in Weld County, Colorado. Prospecting activity included 1 million feet of drilling in 3,000 holes. An updated June 2009 NI 43-101 compliant technical report outlined two key uranium deposits with total inferred resources of 11,465,500 pounds of U3O8.

The new rules implement legislation passed by the Colorado General Assembly last year. The bills were introduced after legislators from the Ft. Collins area responded to fears the Powertech mine in Nunn would negatively impact property values and contaminate drinking water supplies.

Science columnist praises novelist

John Horgan, a columnist for Scientific American, wrote in his Aug 16 column that after reading Gwyneth Cravens’ book 'Power to Save the World,' that he “feels a lot better about living near Indian Point," Entergy's twin reactor site on the Hudson River just north of New York City.

GwynethCravensHe met Cravens, (right) an award winning novelist, during a tour of the reactor in July which she arranged after Horgan had spoken with nuclear blogger Rod Adams in an online interview last May.

Horgan’s column highlights his surprise at the depth of accessible detail in Cravens’ book about radiation, the Chernobyl disaster, depleted uranium, and other nuclear topics.

“I've always had a knee-jerk distrust of nuclear advocates, just as I have of right-wing Congressmen, psychiatric-drug shills and string theorists. But I trust Cravens and the experts she interviewed—including physicists, engineers and epidemiologists—over many years of reporting. If you're agonizing over whether to support nuclear energy, read Cravens's book . . .”

Cravens began work on her book as a skeptic about nuclear energy. She interviewed leading nuclear scientists and engineers, and experts in related fields like public health. She told FCW that she came to the conclusion, "nuclear energy can be a safe energy source and an essential deterrent to global warming."

Scientific American regularly covers nuclear energy issues though often from the perspective of nonproliferation analysts. More recently, the magazine has been paying attention to nuclear utilities. Horgan’s column, of course, represents his opinion, but the magazine printed it and that’s welcome news.

Cravens first disclosed her dialog with Horgan, and the tour of Indian Point, in a private social media discussion forum. She said she especially appreciated Horgan's distinction between "shills" and people who educate the public.

Bravo Ms. Cravens. Well done.

# # #

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Update on nuclear new builds

Progress reported in Czech Republic, India, and China

czech flagThe New York Times reports in a major story that CEZ, the Czech state- owned nuclear power utility, is ready to accept bids on two and as many as five new nuclear reactors at multiple sites around the country. Two reactors are planned to expand the Temelin plant and up to three more may be built at sites owned by the utility.

Bidders on the $25 billion deal include Russia (AtomStroyExport), France (Areva), and Japan (Toshiba / Westinghouse). A public and transparent bid process is being used where in the past the government just made up its mind who to buy from. Detailed proposals are expected by the end of 2010. Czech officials did not tell the newspaper when they would make a contract award.

The European Union Energy Policy Blog reported that an investment like this in nuclear energy will help reverse a trend towards more fossil fuel projects. The blog reported the carbon intensity of the world’s total primary energy supply has been increasing in the past decade.

U.S. firms may get India deals

The Financial Express reports that Westinghouse and GE-Hitachi may get deals to build two reactor for Indian utilities following the passage of the nuclear energy liability bill by parliament last week. The announcement would take place during a scheduled November trip by U.S. President Barack Obama to India in November. Both reactors will be sold to the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPICL), a public sector enterprise.

The deal is said to be worth $10 billion. No announcement was made of the locations for the new reactors. A reactor built by GE-Hitachi might be located in Gujarat which is where the firm may build a factory to manufacture nuclear reactor components. The company has partnered with several Indian heavy industry firms to built it.

Japan is also in negotiations with India to build reactors there. The newspaper reported these talks are going slowly, but should result in a separate deal from the one for U.S. firms.

The nuclear liability bill has been criticized because it assigns open-ended liability to suppliers as well as the nuclear utilities that will run the new reactors. India plans to build 20 GWe of new nuclear power plant generation capacity in the next 10 years.

Western observers have told the Bloomberg wire service the government may have to seek a modification of the law for U.S. firms to do business in the country. Russia and Areva are already building a combined total of six reactors in India because the state-owned firms have sovereign immunity.

China to build a nuclear energy city

(NucNet) China is planning to build a 130 sq km nuclear city in Haiyan on the east coast of Zhejiang province to help with the country’s ambitious development of its nuclear power industry. China is expected to invest $175 billion over the next 10 years to develop the nuclear city.

The Zhejiang government and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) have signed a “strategic energy cooperation agreement,” which formally binds the two groups in developing the site.

Assuming a built out population density of 1,500-2,000 people per sq km, the city could have as many as 260,000 people living and working in it. This is approximately the size of Buffalo, NY.

There is no comparable investment in the U.S. or Europe in nuclear energy and related industrial development tied to a major population center, new or not. Recently, Areva postponed by two years construction of a $300 million manufacturing center in Newport News, VA, due to the failure of Congress to pass legislation expanding nuclear loan guarantees.

The new city in China will have four main nuclear energy activity areas:

  • nuclear power equipment manufacturing;
  • nuclear training and education;
  • applied nuclear science industries (medical, agricultural, radiation detection); and
  • promotion of the nuclear industry.

There are five reactor units already in commercial operation in Zhejiang province and six under construction Of those six, Qinshan 2-3 was connected to the grid on August 1, 2010 and is due to begin commercial operation early next year.

Six CNNC businesses will be located at the Nuclear City:

  • Nuclear Power Operations,
  • Nuclear Power Technical Support & Services Co,
  • Nuclear Power Commissioning Centre,
  • Nuclear Power Training Centre,
  • Nuclear Power Communication and Exhibition Centre, and
  • Nuclear Power Stocks & Spare Parts Centre.

In addition, the headquarters of 18 leading Chinese nuclear equipment suppliers are based in Haiyan, which is about 100 km southwest of Shanghai, as are branch offices of the major Chinese nuclear design institutes and construction companies. The plan is for the project to attract other related nuclear businesses.

According to a report last May in the China Daily, an engineering manager in Shanghai makes the equivalent of about $35,000/year. The wire service also reported there are growing shortages of highly skilled workers as foreign companies building factories in China are hiring them as fast as they can. Chinese nuclear utilities may have to pay a premium to staff their projects.

According to the World Nuclear Organization, Mainland China has 12 nuclear power reactors in operation, 24 under construction, and more about to start construction soon. Additional reactors are planned, including some of the world's most advanced, to give more than a tenfold increase in nuclear capacity to 80 GWe by 2020, 200 GWe by 2030, and 400 GWe by 2050. China is rapidly becoming self-sufficient in reactor design and construction, as well as other aspects of the fuel cycle.

# # #

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Another blogger for nuclear energy

American Nuclear Society launches new blog

blog symbolThe American Nuclear Society (ANS) has launched a new blog, the ANS Nuclear Cafe. The online site will feature lively posts from ANS members on a variety of topics affecting the nuclear world.

Regular features will include

  • DC Perspective: Federal affairs from a nuclear mindset
  • View from Vermont: The public debate about nuclear energy in Vermont
  • Venimus, Vidimus, Vicimus: Latest updates from the ANS professional divisions
  • Exclusive content from ANS members on a wide range of nuclear-related topics

The Nuclear Cafe name was chosen because it captures the collaborative nature of the blog as well as the concept of this being an interactive discussion of nuclear topics. The Society’s vision is to be a credible advocate for advancing and promoting nuclear science and technology. The ANS Nuclear Cafe furthers this vision by bringing the perspectives and insights of ANS members to the social media sphere.

“We’re excited to be moving forward with an innovative initiative like the ANS Nuclear Cafe,” said Jack Tuohy, ANS Executive Director. “We hope that the ANS Nuclear Cafe becomes part of the daily web reading for every ANS member.”

For more information regarding the ANS Nuclear Cafe, contact Laura Scheele (ANS Outreach) at (708) 579-8224.

t_logo-c Follow ANS on Twitter linkedin36 Join the dialog with ANS on Linkedin

And now for the rest of the story

115GTYel02 I am pleased to report that your faithful correspondent is helping to bring up the ANS blog. I will continue to work with the ANS team to provide social media and content management services. I will post there twice a month.

The blog team at ANS includes Joe Koblich, Information Technology; Rick Michal, Nuclear News, and Laura Scheele, Outreach. These are great folks to work with.

And yet more nuclear bloggers will post at the ANS CAfe. Rod Adams, from Atomic Insights, will post monthly on what’s happening in Washington, DC, and Meredith Angwin, Yes Vermont Yankee, will contribute, along with Howard Schaffer, to the View from Vermont.

There will be guest blog posts twice a month. The first will be from Gail Marcus of Nuke Power Talk and the second will be from Ted Rockwell at Learning About Energy. The ANS blog will host the Carnival of Nuclear Blogs once a month.

The ANS Public Information Committee (PIC), chaired by Candace Davison, has supported the project every step of the way.

Established in 1954, ANS is a professional organization of engineers and scientists devoted to the applications of nuclear science and technology. Its 11,000 members come from diverse technical backgrounds covering the full range of engineering disciplines as well as the physical and biological sciences. They are advancing the application of these technologies to improve the lives of the world community through national and international enterprise within government, academia, research laboratories and private industry.

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Beyond the smart grid – free web seminar

The challenges and opportunities associated with a new energy grid and the data that comes with it

Live Webcast Sept. 8, 1 PM ET / 10 AM PT

Free registration – click here

The modernization of electrical grids presents an opportunity to improve the efficient use of energy through analytics of energy consumption data. Uses of this data can go well beyond efficiency and flexible pricing programs. Energy consumption data is a potential goldmine of knowledge about consumers. And this means that utilities, energy service providers, consumers, policy and regulatory representatives and vendors have interests in access, use, and storage of this data.

The question of who owns consumer data has been resoundingly answered, but many questions remain unresolved.

Some of the most intriguing questions center on the types of companies that are most likely to find value in consumer energy data, and the types of products and services that can leverage this data.

This webinar will tackle these questions and more, as we take a look at challenges and opportunities for consumers and businesses to create value from energy data.


Christine Hertzog is a consultant and author focused on navigating the electricity ecosystem of emerging technologies and markets. She is the author of the Smart Grid Dictionary, which explains terminology used by utilities, regulators, manufacturers, and more. Christine has two decades of experience helping companies deliver competitive and cost-effective solutions, and frequently speaks and writes about the challenges and opportunities that Smart Grid solutions bring to the evolving electricity supply chain.

ImagePaul Camuti is President of Siemens Corporate Research, where he is responsible for the Information & Automation Technologies Global Technology Field cluster and is an avid spokesperson for technologies that fall under this domain. Before joining SCR, Mr. Camuti headed the Chemical & Pharmaceutical Industry business for Siemens Energy & Automation, Inc. Paul is a member of the advisory board at the University of California-Berkeley’s College of Engineering, the advisory council of the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the Siemens Foundation board.

ImageWes Sylvester is Business Development Manager for Smart Grid at Cisco. Previously, he served as Director, Distribution Solutions and Smart Grid at Siemens Energy, Inc. Wes has been a representative on both GridWise™ and EPRI’s IntelligridSM, where he serves as chair of the Intelligrid Technology Transfer Committee. He is also member of IEEE PES.

Marc Gunther is a writer, speaker and consultant, who focuses on business and the environment. He worked for 12 years as a senior writer at FORTUNE magazine, where he is now a contributing editor. His most recent book, “Faith and Fortune: How Compassionate Capitalism is Transforming American Business,” was published by Crown in 2004.

Brought to you by:

in partnership with

Energy Collective readers should register for Gridweek using code UAHMDA for a 10% discount.

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Monday, August 30, 2010

Turkey in $10 billion reactor deal with South Korea

It is the second major nuclear energy contract in that country in the past year

turkey nuclearTurkey may have another major nuclear reactor deal in the works. According to English language press reports from Ankara, South Korea is positioned to sign contracts by November to build a $10 billion project. An energy official said the Sinop plant would have four reactors and a total capacity of 5.6 GWe.

At that price, the site at Sinop on the Black Sea coast in northern Turkey could become home to at least two 1,400 MW KEPCO reactors. The sign-off could take place at the G-20 summit scheduled for Seoul Nov 11.

According to the press reports, officials from KEPCO were in Ankara this week to meet with Turkey’s energy minister Taner Yildiz and other nuclear energy officials.

An English language Arab news channel had these additional details.

Sources at the energy ministry said that Turkey and KEPCO would provide 30% of the funding for Sinop and raise the remaining 70% through borrowing. London-based Standard Chartered is reported to be the financial adviser to KEPCO on the project. The Export-Import Bank of Korea (KEXIM) and Korea Export Credit Insurance Corp (KEIC) are said to be providing investment support for the project.

Turkey already has one deal in place, signed in May 2010, for new nuclear reactors on its Mediterranean coast to be build by Russia’s state-owned nuclear export agency. That deal took a long time to close due to differences over the price of electricity to be delivered from the reactors.

Speed of deal questioned

Haluk DireskeneliIn Turkey some experts were skeptical the new South Korean deal will move as fast as reported by the media. Haluk Direskeneli, an Ankara based energy analyst, (right) told this blog via email that the negotiations could drag into mid-summer 2011 when new elections take place. He feels the government will be in a strong position to ink a deal at that time. [Update 0100 GMT 31 Aug 2010: It isn't clear when the elections are to be held or how they will impact the reactor deal.]

He also said that the difference between the Russian deal and the South Korean one is that Russia is deeply involved in Turkey’s energy infrastructure and supply chain. It provides natural gas and oil to Turkey. On the other hand, he says, South Korea has only minor trading relationships with Turkey and isn’t involved in Middle East politics. Read more at a blog published by Haluk Direskeneli on this issue.

KEPCO’s growing market share in the Middle East

The KEPCO reactor is new to the global market. However, KEPCO has wind in its sails having inked a $20 billion deal with the United Arab Emirates in December 2009 to build four of them in that Persian Gulf country. The deal followed sign-off of a 1-2-3 agreement with the U.S. in principle will allow U.S. firms to supply reactor components and nuclear fuel to the UAE.

However, so far far contracts let by KEPCO have gone to other South Korean firms including Doosan Heavy Industries. The first contract awarded this past July is worth $4 billion. Using its own technology, Doosan Heavy Industries will design, manufacture, and supply the Nuclear Steam Supply System and turbine assemblies for the project.

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Nuclear energy videos for Monday August 30

Another post in a continuing series to brighten up the start of your work week

Put a lid on it

Installing the dome on the Olkiluoto 3 reactor. Watch a powerful crane lift the 210 ton piece into place.

Not breaking the bank to build a new reactor

Clean Skies video news report on financing new nuclear power plants. Focus is on Southern's plans to build Vogtle #&$ with federal loan guarantees

Waste not want not

Why spent nuclear fuel isn't waste. Re-using the it in fast reactors

Breaking the ice

U.S. Navy nuclear submarine surfaces through the polar cap

Bird’s eye view

Mini-camera mounted on a golden eagle.

That’s all folks.

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