Monday, April 30, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY – Representatives from 37 countries will be in Salt Lake City next month to discuss ways to safely and cost-effectively extend the life of many of the world's existing nuclear power plants. The group will also explore how existing reactors can effectively deal with increased safety expectations in a post-Fukushima world.
The 3rd International Conference on Nuclear Power Plant Life Management (PLiM) for Long Term Operations will be held May 13-17, 2012 at the Hilton Salt Lake City Center. The conference is organized by the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, and is hosted by the U.S. government through its Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Department of Energy. DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is organizing the conference on behalf of the NRC and DOE.
Keynote and plenary speakers include NRC Commissioner George Apostolakis, IAEA Deputy Director General Alexander Bychkov, Idaho Governor Butch Otter and director of the Idaho National Laboratory, John Grossenbacher. A tour of the nearby 900-square mile Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls will follow the conference.  Additional details on the conference, including an agenda, can be found at the conference website.
Currently, there are nearly 440 operating commercial nuclear power reactors in 31 countries, providing about 14 percent of the world's electricity. Another 63 plants — including 26 in China, and five in the U.S. — are under construction. In the United States, 104 plants provide about 19 percent of the nation's electricity. Most U.S. plants were constructed in the 1960s and 1970s, and to date 71 U.S. plants have received license extensions to operate for 60 years while the remainder are expected to request 20-year license extensions.  Further, the U.S. nuclear industry is considering subsequent license renewals to extend the operating life to 80 years.
"The world's nuclear power plants were licensed to operate between 30 and 40 years, but many may be able to operate well in excess of that, to 60 or even 80 years," said Leonard Bond, the conference organizer from PNNL. "This conference will bring together researchers, designers, engineers, utility representatives, manufacturers and regulators from around the world to share information on technical and ageing issues that can lead to safe and reliable long-term operation of nuclear power plants."
The Salt Lake gathering is the third PLiM conference and the first in the United States. Previous conferences were held in Budapest in 2002 and Shanghai in 2007. In addition to technical sessions, the conference will include poster sessions, panel discussions and an exhibition.
More than 350 attendees are expected, and will come from Argentina, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Pakistan, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Ukraine, Vietnam, the United States and more than 20 other nations.

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India can make world’s cheapest nuclear reactors, Department of Atomic Energy chief says

MUMBAI: Now, India can build cheaper nuclear reactors, than even South Korea. Talking to TOI on the eve of his retirement, Dr Srikumar Banerjee, secretary in the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), said India can now manufacture nuclear reactors at $1,700 per unit. Come May, Banerjee will make way for Ratan Sinha, currently director of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), who will take over as secretary, DAE.

"We are now the world's most economical manufacturer of nuclear reactors. Our cost per unit, of $1,700 (for a 700mw reactor) is substantially less than our nearest competitors. The average international cost is now between $2,500 and $3,000 (for a 1,000mw reactor). South Korea demonstrated its ability to build nuclear reactors for less when it wrested a massive reactor deal for the UAE from French giant, Areva, a couple of years ago.

With the protests in Kudankulam piping down, Banerjee said DAE was waiting for a couple of clearances from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) to start Kudankulam-1.

The AERB will have to conduct a robotic inspection of the pressure vessel in the Kudankulam plant. This is done after what they call the "hot run", which is a kind of a rehearsal but without nuclear fuel. "After this, they open the cap of the pressure vessel to do a robotic inspection. Only after clearing this inspection are we allowed to put in nuclear fuel," said Banerjee.

The DAE chief said he was looking at Kudankulam going "critical" by mid-June. "The approach to criticality should happen around that time," he said. "That will be exciting." Six months down the line, Banerjee said the DAE hopes to commission the second Kudankulam plant as well.

Indian companies manufacturing components and systems for nuclear reactors, Banerjee said, can now do the same work for much less cost. For instance, he said, L&T, which supplies many critical components for the Indian nuclear and defence sectors, can make the large reactor vessel in their new Hazira plant. This is something of an achievement because it's traditionally been the preserve of Japanese engineering expertise.

Banerjee was clear that the despite Fukushima, countries like India will have a high demand for nuclear energy. "In the months after Fukushima, we have received expressions of interest from Haryana, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh to set up nuclear power plants. We will do all of them," asserted a confident DAE chief.

South Korea Has 16,059 MW of Nuclear Capacity Online

South Korea has 17 nuclear reactors in operation, producing 16,059 megawatts of power, or about 83 percent of total capacity, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The following table shows the status of the nation’s 21 reactors with a combined regular capacity of 19,259 megawatts operated by state-run Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. as of today.
COMPANY   CAPACITY
UNIT ONLINE STATUS
----------------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------------

Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power
Kori
No. 1 0 Shut for safety inspection since March 13
No. 2 682 Running
No. 3 1,048 Running
No. 4 1,046 Running
Shin No. 1 1,053 Running

Yonggwang
No. 1 1,006 Running
No. 2 1,001 Running
No. 3 1,055 Running
No. 4 1,053 Running
No. 5 0 Shut for maintenance. May restart May 3
No. 6 1,054 Running

Wolsong
No. 1 693 Running
No. 2 718 Running
No. 3 741 Running
No. 4 739 Running

Uljin
No. 1 0 Shut for maintenance. May Restart May 15.
No. 2 1,010 Running
No. 3 1,050 Running
No. 4 0 Shut for maintenance and safety inspection.
No. 5 1,055 Running
No. 6 1,055 Running
-------------------------------------------------------------
Source: Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co.

Michigan: Reactor returned to service at Cook nuclear plant

Lake Township— Officials say a reactor at the Donald C. Cook Nuclear Plant in southwestern Michigan has been returned to service following a refueling outage that began in March.

The Herald-Palladium of St. Joseph reports the outage included installation of new transformers in addition to refueling the Unit 2 reactor, regular maintenance and testing. During the outage, about 1,000 contract workers supplemented the plant's regular 1,100-person staff.

The reactor returned to service on Saturday.

The plant is located in Berrien County's Lake Township. It's run by Indiana Michigan Power, a subsidiary of Columbus, Ohio-based American Electric Power Co.

Blackouts Possible with San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant Shutdown

State energy officials say Southern California could be hit by rotating blackouts this summer if a heat wave hits while San Onofre's twin reactors remain dark, though some activists insist the plant should be shut down forever.

The Navy is San Diego Gas & Electric's largest customer, and the utility has been working on an agreement under which the Navy would temporarily reduce its energy consumption if regional supplies get scarce. In exchange, the Navy would receive a break on electricity rates.

While utilities are working with customers to prepare for possible blackouts in the summer heat, protesters rallied over the weekend demanding the reactor never be resarted. 

The loss of the nuclear plant also makes it harder to import power into the San Diego area, where reliable energy transmission has long been a thorny issue.

"If the (San Onofre) units remain down, you obviously have less power supply down there. If you have a transmission line go down, or another generator go down, you are in a very tight situation," said Bruce Kaneshiro, a supervisor at the state Public Utilities Commission.

The San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant, which can crank out enough electricity for 1.4 million homes, has been shut down for nearly three months while investigators try to determine the cause of excessive wear on hundreds of alloy tubes that carries radioactive water in its massive steam generators.

Last week the Irvine City Council urged the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to thoroughly review safety conditions at the plant before it is considered for relicensing in 2022.

The city requested in a letter that the evacuation zone be expanded to 50 miles, from 10 miles.
Nuclear experts, councilmembers and community members spoke at a "Shut Down San Onofre" rally held near San Onofre State Beach.

"So many of us people that live around this different part of town are so concerned about the danger, the risk of being exposed to whatever could happen to this plant,” said activists Randy Ziglar.

Many plant workers say the company practices strict safety measures.

San Onofre's plant is in Congressman Darrell Issa's district. Issa said he hopes to see at least one reactor returned to service by June.

He says if it can be done with 100-percent safety, he'd like to have one or both of those reactors back online.

PSEG nuclear plant Salem 1 shuts down during testing


A nuclear plant run by Public Service Enterprise Group shut down at around 10:15 a.m. today as employees were testing a core cooling system, the company said.

Salem 1, located near the Delaware River in Salem County, is one of three reactors PSEG runs in the area, and it shut down while another reactor, Hope Creek, was already out for refueling maintenance.

"It will be a couple days before we know what actually happened," said PSEG Nuclear spokesman Joseph Delmar, who said several fire alarms went off in the incident, but no fires were found.

The plant is now stable and nearby reactor Salem 2 was unaffected, Delmar said.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Jordon Weighs Two Nuclar Plant Offers: Russia vs. France

"Following a thorough examination, the offers provided by Russia's Atomstroyexport and a consortium by France's Areva and Japan's Mitsubishi were the best proposals that meet Jordan's requirements," Atomic Energy Commission said in a statement on Sunday.

"Talks with these companies will continue to address some technical issues, including the exact location of the plant," it added, according to state-run Petra news agency.

"The evaluation took into account the highest safety requirements, including lessons from the Fukushima event," it said.

The Fukushima plant, 220 kilometres northeast of Tokyo, was crippled by meltdowns and explosions caused by Japan's 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

Concerns in Jordan have grown since the Japanese disaster, but the kingdom says it needs nuclear technology to meet growing energy demands and to desalinate water.

Jordan, which imports 95 per cent of its energy needs, is one of the five driest countries in the world.
It has expressed concerns that cut-offs in unstable Egyptian gas supplies, which normally covers 80 per cent of Jordan electricity production, could cost Amman more than $US2 billion ($A1.94 billion) this year.

Since 2011, the pipeline supplying gas from Egypt to both Israel and the kingdom has been attacked 14 times.
A Jordanian official said Saturday that Cairo has informed Amman it would "resume gas deliveries of 100 million cubic metres per day to the kingdom early next month".

Russia to build two more nuclear reactors in China

BEIJING: Russia and China have firmed up their nuclear cooperation, with Moscow set to build two more high-power reactors in this country's Tianwan atomic plant.

Russia had earlier helped China build two reactors in the Tianwan nuclear plant in Jiangsu province, which went into operation in 2007, Sergey Sergeevich Razov, Moscow's envoy here, said.

The two reactors, with combined capacity of 2,000 mw, are using Russia's VVER 1000 nuclear model.

Russia is going to build two more reactors in Tianwan once China lifts its suspension of new atomic power plants imposed after the nuclear disaster in Japan last year, state- run 'China Daily' reported today.

The two countries have been in discussion for a series of potential cooperative projects.

"We've already started preparation for continuous cooperation in the Tianwan Nuclear Station and hopefully, will start the work in the second half of this year," Razov was quoted as saying.

According to the National Energy Administration, China has 15 nuclear reactors in operation and 26 more under construction.

China completed a 25-mw experimental fast reactor in 2009, a fourth-generation model that represents the country's latest nuclear technology.

The design was based on Russia's technical specifications and the project was constructed by Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corp, Russia's national nuclear energy developer.

After the completion of the experimental project, China invited Russia to build the first 800-mw commercial fast reactor.

Meanwhile, the TENEX, Russia's equipment and technology export body, is working with a Chinese partner on nuclear fuel recycling. The company is providing technology and equipment for a project in China that enriches uranium through gas centrifugation.

"China and Russia have great potential for cooperation in the nuclear waste sector, because Russia is very advanced in this field," Xiao Xinjian, an industry expert with the Energy Research Institute affiliated with China's National Development and Reform Commission, said.

Russia has proposed to China that they jointly exploit three uranium deposits on Russian territory Sergei Kiriyenko, head of Rosatom, during a visit to Beijing in 2010, had said.

Another field for possible cooperation would be offshore nuclear power plants.

China is interested in a floating nuclear plant that could be used to power offshore oil and gas facilities, industry experts said. 


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NRC: New Levy nuclear plant safe for environment

The Associated Press

The agency that regulates the country's nuclear power plants says a new plant planned for west-central Florida won't harm the environment.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a report Friday saying that construction and operation of Progress Energy's two new reactors planned for rural Levy County wouldn't harm ground water, the air or people living in close proximity. The environmental impact study is only one part of the NRC licensing procedure for the plant.

The Nuclear Information and Resource Center and Florida environmental groups had formally challenged Progress Energy's assertion that the reactors at the 3,000-acre site would have only a small impact on area wetlands, the floodplain, groundwater and wildlife.

The power company's plans call for the first of the new reactors to power up in 2021.
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Govt takes on heavy burden in nationalizing TEPCO

The nationalization of Tokyo Electric Power Co. means that the government will be required to shoulder greater responsibilities for important energy polices such as resuming operations of suspended nuclear reactors.
On Friday, TEPCO and the government's Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund submitted the power company's comprehensive business rehabilitation plan to Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano. Edano is expected to approve the plan, which was prepared jointly by the two entities, in early May or later.
The plan was a prerequisite for TEPCO to receive 1 trillion yen in public funds. Now the power company needs to speed up reform of its management.
The main point of the business rehabilitation plan is the government's acquisition of a majority equity stake in the power company on a voting-rights basis, which effectively means the company will be nationalized. TEPCO's management team will also be changed drastically, with Kazuhiko Shimokobe, head of the Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund's steering committee, assuming TEPCO's chairmanship.
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Govt required to do more
As TEPCO's new top shareholder, the government will be required to take a more active role in resolving the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and compensating victims of the crisis.
We give credit to TEPCO's business rehabilitation plan for increasing the amount of cost reductions planned over the next 10 years from 2.6 trillion yen to more than 3 trillion yen. We ask the power company to continue its consistent efforts to trim costs.
The plan also sets a goal of moving into the black in fiscal 2013 through measures such as raising household electricity rates and resuming operations of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture.
However, this goal is unlikely to be easily achieved.
TEPCO's sloppy handling of recent price hikes for large-lot customers prompted strong public criticism. Under such circumstances, it will be difficult for the power company to obtain public consent for raising household electricity rates. The power company also needs to dispel public distrust regarding the safety of nuclear power plants to resume operations of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.
Of course, it is TEPCO's duty to earnestly ask the public to support the electricity price hike and the resumption of the nuclear power plant's operations, but the government must not leave those tasks up to the power company. The government should take the lead in persuading the public, because owning the power company means the government will be directly responsible for approving TEPCO's price hike plan and deciding whether the reactivation of nuclear power plants is appropriate.
It is also worthy to note that an attempt to introduce the so-called "in-house company system" was incorporated in TEPCO's business rehabilitation plan. It is a good idea to increase employees' awareness of costs by dividing the power company into smaller units, such as a thermal power generation section and an electric transmission and distribution section, and give each of them a certain level of autonomy.
However, it will be a problem if the power company uses management reform as a springboard to reforming the electricity system without the public noticing, such as separating power generation and transmission. Electricity system reform should be discussed carefully as a medium- and long-term issue.
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TEPCO's bleak outlook
There is concern that TEPCO's costs related to the nuclear crisis may increase by trillions of yen, due to factors such as the decommissioning of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and the need to decontaminate areas affected by radiation. Under the current system of support for the power company, such costs are shouldered by the government only temporarily. The power company will be required to pay back the loans to the government over a long time.
If TEPCO is unable to show positive prospects for the future, it could prompt growing numbers of talented employees to leave, and the company itself could be restrained in its investments in plant and equipment. Under such circumstances, the company would have difficulty carrying out its vital missions of ending the nuclear crisis, paying compensation to victims and providing a stable energy supply.
If the costs of the nuclear crisis exceed the level that a private company can handle by itself, the government should pay a reasonable share.

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South Africa’s power crunch means opportunity for global nuclear industry



JOHANNESBURG — Power-starved South Africa plans to increase its nuclear reactor capacity and energy companies from around the world are lining up to be involved.
The project has an estimated cost of 300 billion rand (more than $40 million), C said, but it is still unclear what contracts will be offered or how much of the business will be set aside for local companies.

South Africa is the only country in Africa with a nuclear power plant, the two-reactor Koeberg facility near Cape Town that has been operating since 1984. It is committed to building at least six more reactors at three or four sites by 2030 as part of a plan to decrease its dependence on electricity plants that run on greenhouse gas-emitting coal.
South Africa now depends on the coal plants for at least 90 percent of its energy needs, and Eskom, the state electricity utility, also is a major supplier to South Africa’s neighbors.
An energy crisis in 2008 blamed on poor planning led to frequent and widespread blackouts that hit output in mining and other key industries. The government fears energy supplies will be tight for the next few years, hobbling its efforts to expand the economy and create jobs in a country where a quarter of the work force is unemployed.
South Africa wants to build local skills and local business as it expands its nuclear capacity, Peters said.
“It is not just about building power plants, but how we build them,” she said at a nuclear seminar organized by a labor group. “We are not about to turn South Africans into mixers of concrete.”
Peters presented the plans for the reactors, along with those for wind and solar plants, just days after a quake and tsunami hit Japan in March 2011, sending three reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant into meltdown there. Germany permanently shut down one of its aging reactors because of what happened at Fukushima. But Peters said she was confident the new nuclear technology South Africa planned to import was safe. No serious incidents have been reported at Koeberg during its 28 years in operation.
South Africa’s nuclear program, though, has had setbacks, including a failed effort with America’s Westinghouse to develop next-generation reactors. The multibillion rand (dollar) project missed several deadlines before it was abandoned, and prospects for customers were uncertain.
South Africa is not alone in forging ahead with nuclear projects following Fukushima. Turkey went ahead with plans to build its first nuclear power plant after Fukushima. And even as Japanese engineers were fighting to cool reactors, officials from Russia and Belarus were signing a deal for a $9.4 billion nuclear plant in Belarus.
South Africa is “one of several significant prospects on the radar,” said Ian Hore-Lacy, spokesman for the London-based World Nuclear Association, which represents the industry.
American and French companies involved in building Koeberg may have an advantage when it comes to involvement in South Africa’s nuclear buildup because of their long-standing relationships, Hore-Lacy said in a telephone interview. But he said Russian, Chinese and other companies can’t be discounted in the race for nuclear business here.
Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation, known as Rosatom, has been among the most active in seeking South African business. Rosatom held a seminar in Johannesburg in early April to introduce itself to the South African government and business officials, and sent a vice president back later in April for more talks.
Alexey Kalinin, head of Rosatom’s foreign operations, said his company would get as much as 60 percent of supplies for projects in South Africa from South African companies. He said that could mean more than $15 billion in earnings for South African companies, $3.4 billion in tax revenues for the South African government, and 15,000 new jobs. He also said Rosatom was ready to draw South African companies into its global supply chain.
Rosatom’s Kalinin said his company was looking ahead to helping Nigeria develop a nuclear industry, and already was involved in uranium exploration and mining in Tanzania and Namibia.
South Africa “can be indeed regarded as a possible gateway to other African countries and a driver of nuclear energy development in the region,” Kalinin said.
Such expansion is just what Yves Marignac, a Paris-based energy expert and anti-nuclear campaigner, fears. He would rather see developing countries taking the lead in exploiting safe, clean renewable energy sources like wind and solar. South African officials say renewables alone can’t deliver enough energy.
Marignac, speaking in a telephone interview, also said he is concerned the nuclear energy industry may be pushing new markets to sign contracts before all the questions raised by the Japanese crisis are answered, and those answers turned into safer — and likely more expensive — technology.
“South Africa is probably one of the next big chances for the nuclear companies trying to sell reactors in the world,” said Marignac, who sees a race between “the ability of the companies to acquire new contracts ... and the ability of the international community to develop new standards.”
Peters, South Africa’s energy minister, said she won’t be rushed, and that safety is a top priority.
She also said South Africa is interested not just in building new reactors, but in developing an entire cycle, from mining more of its uranium resources to nuclear waste management. That presents a range of opportunities for foreign companies, as well as the possibility of South Africa one day exporting its own nuclear know-how.
Peters has faced challenges from South Africa’s powerful labor movement, concerned she is not choosing the energy options that will create the most jobs, and from a nascent South African anti-nuclear movement.
“We as South Africa are convinced that we need an energy mix,” Peters said. “We cannot discard any technology.”

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NRC staff recommends renewing license for the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth

After six years of review and a succession of lawsuits, the staff at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has recommended that commissioners vote to renew the license of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, which expires next month.
The staff, in an eight-page document, said the 40-year-old plant has “taken, or will take, appropriate actions to manage the effects of aging during the period of extended operation.”
Entergy Corp., the Louisiana-based company that has run the plant since 1999, has sparked a raft of protests and lawsuits since it sought to renew its license to operate the plant for an additional 20 years. Officials on Friday said they are eager for a vote.
“Pilgrim Station has gone through a six-year, record long, detailed NRC safety and technical review as part of Pilgrim’s license renewal application, and we look forward to the NRC’s decision,” said Carol Wightman, a spokeswoman for Pilgrim.
But opponents of the plant have urged commissioners to delay their vote until they have a chance to present their concerns about the plant at a hearing.
An NRC official said the recommendation does not mean commissioners will renew the license.
Pilgrim opponents argue that the Entergy can’t do enough to ensure safety, given what they view as the intrinsic danger of nuclear plants, especially one 35 miles from Boston and with nearly 5 million people within a 50-mile radius. Their opposition gained new urgency a year ago, when a massive earthquake and tsunami triggered one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters at a similarly designed nuclear plant in Japan.
They argue commissioners shouldn’t renew Pilgrim’s license because of aging pipes beneath the plant that may leak radioactive liquids, problems with electrical cables that transmit power to and from the plant, and the lack of a sufficient cleanup plan in the event of a radiation leak. They also say Pilgrim has failed to do a sufficient analysis of the plant’s impact on endangered species in the area.
“The NRC staff’s decision is very upsetting because it makes a total mockery out of the process,” said Mary Lampert, director of Pilgrim Watch, who has long called for the plant to be shuttered. “They’re essentially requesting that the game be called before the game is over, while the players are still on the field.”
In the recommendation to commissioners, RW Borchardt, executive director for operations at the NRC, dismissed concerns that the plant is unsafe or a threat to the environment.
“The staff finds that there is reasonable assurance that the activities authorized by the renewed license will continue to be conducted safely in accordance with the current licensing,” he wrote.
The plant’s license is set to expire on June 8. But the plant will be able to continue operating, until commissioners make a final decision, NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said.
He said it was not clear when that will happen but that it could come in the next few weeks.
“A decision on how to proceed will ultimately rest with the commission,” Sheehan said in a statement.

Diablo Canyon nuclear unit shut by salp invasion

San Luis Obispo -- An overwhelming number of jellyfish-like creatures clogging seawater intake screens have forced operators to shut down the Unit 2 reactor at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. officials said.
Both reactors at the central coast plant are now offline. Unit 1 was shut down earlier this month for scheduled refueling.
The twin-reactor nuclear plant provides enough power for more than 3 million homes in Central and Northern California.
Grid managers at the California Independent System Operator say electricity shortages aren't expected because of ample reserves and cool weather.
The Unit 2 reactor was reduced to about 25 percent earlier this week because of salps entering the beach intake structure.
Salps are small barrel-shaped plankton tunicates similar to jellyfish. They can grow up to 4 inches long and often link together and float in the water in long ropelike formations.
Southerly winds began blowing salps into the plant's cooling water intake cove on Tuesday and plant operators noticed water pressure changes, indicating the creatures were beginning to clog the rolling screens in front of the intake. Power was then drawn down.
The Unit 2 reactor at the plant was shut down Thursday night because of the clogged screens, the utility's plant spokesman Tom Cuddy said Friday.
"We'll return to full power as soon as it's safe to do so and the salps migrate elsewhere. We hope to do that in the next couple of days," Cuddy said.
Salps can reproduce sexually and asexually, giving them the ability to multiply quickly in what is known as a bloom, said Mark Moline, a marine biology professor at California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo.

Navy nears power deal to help avoid Cal blackouts

The U.S. Navy is nearing a first-time agreement to curb electricity use at its sprawling San Diego-area bases if power runs short in Southern California this summer, a deal intended to diminish the threat of blackouts while the troubled San Onofre nuclear plant remains offline.
The Navy is San Diego Gas & Electric's largest customer, and the utility has been working on an agreement under which the Navy would temporarily reduce its energy consumption if regional supplies get scarce. In exchange, the Navy would receive a break on electricity rates.
The company has similar agreements with large industrial customers, which can slash the demand for power at critical times and keep the lights burning.
State energy officials say Southern California could be hit by rotating blackouts this summer if a heat wave hits while San Onofre's twin reactors remain dark, though some activists insist adequate reserves are on hand.
The plant, which can crank out enough electricity for 1.4 million homes, has been shut down for nearly three months while investigators try to determine the cause of excessive wear on hundreds of alloy tubes that carries radioactive water in its massive steam generators.
The loss of the nuclear plant also makes it harder to import power into the San Diego area, where reliable energy transmission has long been a thorny issue.
"If the (San Onofre) units remain down, you obviously have less power supply down there. If you have a transmission line go down, or another generator go down, you are in a very tight situation," said Bruce Kaneshiro, a supervisor at the state Public Utilities Commission.


Capt. Dora Lockwood, a Navy spokeswoman, said the company is working on a target for power reductions, if needed, at the numerous Navy installations in San Diego County, which include Naval Base San Diego, the Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado and Miramar Marine Corps Air Station.
"We will do our best, while preserving our capability to carry out our mission responsibilities, to support their request," Lockwood said.
SDG&E spokeswoman Jennifer Ramp said a deal could be finalized shortly.
"The military is aware of the challenges this summer," Ramp said.
State energy planners have been working on a strategy to find replacement power in the region and reduce demand if hot weather hits while the nuclear plant is sidelined. Those plans include restarting two retired power plants in Huntington Beach, urging conservation, such as using air conditioners sparingly, and seeking temporary power cutbacks, if needed, from the military and public agencies.
On Friday, Southern California Edison, which operates San Onofre, asked state regulators to approve a plan to promote conservation among its commercial customers in Orange County — they can earn a 10 percent rebate by cutting consumption by 10 percent during the summer, when demand is high.
No date has been set to restart either reactor, which are located between San Diego and Los Angeles.
It takes power to move power, and the restart of the Huntington Beach plants will allow increased transmission into the region, said Stephanie McCorkle, a spokeswoman for the agency that operates the state's wholesale power system, the California Independent System Operator.
The loss of the nuclear plant can restrict power imports into San Diego area by up to 30 percent. The San Diego utility hopes a new, $1.8 billion transmission line will be completed by summer, which would help fill any shortages.
The twin, natural gas-fired plants in Huntington Beach were retired earlier this year. The gas line feeding the plants was severed and 3-foot holes were cut in the boilers, a requirement after taking them out of service.
Eric Pendergraft, president of AES Southland, which operates the Huntington Beach plants, said Thursday that repairs to the boilers and other equipment would begin shortly. He predicted the plants would be ready to restart in mid-May.
The company has to strike agreements with the state wholesale power system before returning to service.
Some officials in nearby communities have been calling for San Onofre to shut down permanently, and last week the Irvine City Council urged the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to thoroughly review safety conditions at the plant before it is considered for relicensing in 2022. The city requested in a letter that the evacuation zone be expanded to 50 miles, from 10 miles.
The trouble at San Onofre began to unfold in late January, when the Unit 3 reactor was shut down as a precaution after a tube break. Traces of radiation escaped, but officials said there was no danger to workers or neighbors. Unit 2 had been taken offline earlier in January for routine maintenance and refueling, but investigators later found unusual wear on tubing in both units.
The excessive tube wear has raised questions about the integrity and safety of replacement generators the company installed in a multimillion-dollar makeover in 2009 and 2010.
The plant's four steam generators each contain nearly 10,000 tubes that carry hot, pressurized water from the reactors. The tubes are a critical safety barrier — if one or more break, there is the potential that radioactivity could escape into the atmosphere. Also, serious leaks can drain cooling water from a reactor.
Test results show that two types of wear have occurred at both units — tubes are rubbing and vibrating against adjacent tubes, as well as against support structures inside the generators.
Federal and company investigators are trying to determine why that is happening.
An environmental group, Friends of the Earth, has claimed SCE misled the NRC about design changes that it said are the likely culprit in excessive tube wear and has urged more detailed study before the reactors are restarted.
S. David Freeman, an adviser to the group, said last month that warnings about blackouts are unnecessary, since power can be managed to avoid any customer outages, even without San Onofre.
"California is not and cannot be one power plant away from rolling blackouts," Freeman, a former general manager at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, wrote to the Independent System Operator.
He said it was disturbing that state energy officials are "warning of a return of blackouts unless a very troubled nuclear plant is rushed back into operation."
SCE has said safety remains its priority.

China Nuclear Company in Talks to Bid for Horizon, Express Says

State Nuclear Power Technology Corp, a nuclear company backed by the Chinese government, is in talks to fund a bid for Horizon Nuclear Power, the venture set up by German power makers RWE AG (RWE) and EON AG to build nuclear reactors in the U.K., the Sunday Express said, citing unidentified sources at Whitehall.

The Chinese company is in talks to join forces with Japan’s Toshiba Corp (6502), the owner of nuclear maker Westinghouse, for the bid, which would exceed $10 billion, according to the newspaper. Russian company Rosatom Corp also expressed an interest in Horizon, the newspaper said.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Southern 1Q Profit Down On Warm Weather, Awaiting Loan Guarantee

Southern Co. (SO) posted a lower first-quarter profit as warm weather cut power use, but the company said it expects returns on investments later this year, while it awaits a nuclear-power loan guarantee.

Southern, of Atlanta, has started construction on two new nuclear reactors at its existing Plant Vogtle nuclear complex in Georgia after obtaining federal construction permits in February.

The company has been negotiating with the Department of Energy for final approval of $8.33 billion in loan guarantees to finance the project. Obtaining the guarantees is proving more difficult than expected, as the Department of Energy has added new financial conditions following the bankruptcy last year of federal-loan recipient Solyndra LLC, said Chairman and Chief Executive Thomas Fanning.

"We're very hopeful we'll be able to reach a successful conclusion, but rest assured...if they ask us to do something that's not in our customers' interest, we won't go forward," Fanning said during a conference call with analysts. "We'll be successful whether we have them or not."



Southern's chief financial officer, Arthur Beattie, added that if Southern doesn't get the loan guarantee, it will raise the money in the capital markets.

"The markets have been in terrific shape to be able to handle that," Beattie said during the call.
Shares of Southern were recently trading 0.8% lower at about $45.51.

The company, which owns utilities in Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi, has benefited from stronger industrial demand in recent quarters, although residential and commercial demand has grown more slowly. The company said it expects 2012 sales to improve over the prior year, driven by growing industrial activity and other growth as the U.S. economy improves.

Meanwhile, Southern, which is a major consumer of coal, is increasingly switching to natural gas to generate electricity as prices for the commodity have dropped to historic lows, company executives said.
Southern's 2012 energy mix will be 47% gas, 35% coal and 18% nuclear power, compared to 16% gas and 70% coal in 2007, Fanning said. If gas prices remain low, the mix could be 57% gas and 22% coal by 2020, whereas if gas prices spike, it would be 34% gas and 45% coal by 2020, Fanning said.

The company's utilities will burn less than 45 million tons of coal this year, down from 80 million tons it burned in 2007, Fanning said. As the company consumes less coal, it is working with coal suppliers to defer, buy out or renegotiate existing contracts, while storing coal that it has bought but doesn't need right away.
Also driving Southern's move toward gas are stricter federal limits on coal-plant emissions. Southern still plans to install pollution-control equipment at coal plants to comply with the rules, Fanning said.

The utility giant plans to spend about $6 billion a year over the next three years on capital projects, including the nuclear reactors and new power-plant units. The company's utilities are authorized to earn returns on such investments.

Southern reported a first-quarter profit of $368 million, or 42 cents a share, down from $422 million, or 50 cents a share, a year earlier. In January, the company predicted earnings of about 45 cents a share.
Revenue fell 10% to $3.6 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had most recently predicted revenue of $4.05 billion.

Fuel and purchased power costs were down 24%, and non-fuel operations and maintenance expenses rose 2.4%.

Total energy sales, including wholesale sales, fell by 7.3%. Kilowatt-hour sales to retail customers fell 5.1%.
Residential and commercial energy sales, slid 14% and 3.1%, respectively, as warmer-than-normal weather cut energy use. Industrial sales increased 1.9%.

US House spending bill would cut DOE renewables, boost nuclear

Washington (Platts)--25Apr2012/448 pm EDT/2048 GMT


The US House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday passed on to the full chamber a Department of Energy spending bill that would cut $345 million from the agency's fiscal 2013 budget, providing it with $26.1 billion, and would shift emphasis from renewable energy and energy efficiency to fossil fuels and nuclear power.

"While the decisions involved were difficult ... I am proud that this committee will be the tip of the spear in helping to restore sustainability to the agency budgets within this bill," said Representative Hal Rogers, the committee chairman and a Kentucky Republican.

The committee passed the energy and water appropriations bill in a voice vote. The bill must still be taken up by the full House. No votes in the full chamber are planned, but few in Washington believe Congress will pass any annual appropriations bills before the presidential election in November.

In his budget request to Congress in February, Obama moved to cut about $88 million from spending on nuclear power research and development, a 10% cut, and about $105 million from the fossil energy R&D, primarily from coal-related research.

But the House Appropriations committee aims to make up for those declines by refusing the Obama request and funding nuclear power at 2012 levels, instead providing flat funding for DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy at $765 million.

Republicans on the committee also said the bill would help bring down gasoline prices in the long run and that they have devoted $1.1 billion in their proposal for the effort.

Among other things, this includes $25 million for a new shale oil research program, $34 million for other fossil energy research aimed at increasing domestic oil supplies, $500 million for applied advanced biofuels research and $195 million for electric vehicle research. While these total about $36 million above what Congress gave DOE in 2012, they are about $92 million less than what Obama requested.

DOE'S EERE WOULD SEE 17% CUT

DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which funds applied research and development of wind, solar, energy efficiency and other energy technologies, has long been a target of congressional Republicans and this funding proposal illustrated that.

The committee bill would cut EERE funding for fiscal 2013 by about 17% from fiscal 2012 levels to $1.5 billion. Obama had requested an almost 30% increase to $2.3 billion for 2013.

While senior Democrats on the committee praised funding for nuclear and fossil fuel, they also said that EERE should get more funding.

"I appreciate the chairman's decision to include appropriate funding for fossil and nuclear energy. However, I am disappointed the renewable energy programs in this bill are drastically reduced," said Representative Peter Visclosky, the senior Democrat on the appropriations subcommittee that oversees DOE's budget.

"In providing critical research and development for those sectors that currently provide the bulk of our electricity generation, we cannot sacrifice the future," he said. "Renewable energy can achieve cost competitiveness, but a continued and sustained research and development program is necessary and appropriate in order to do so."

BILL ALLOTS $25 MIL FOR YUCCA MOUNTAIN

Republicans and Democrats on the committee did agree that the Obama administration's decision to terminate the long-planned Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada was misguided and "counter to the law." The committee bill attempts to fix that by providing DOE with $25 million to work on a solution to storing commercial nuclear waste, but only if it is directed at Yucca Mountain. Also, the bill would bar DOE from spending any funds to eliminate the option of Yucca Mountain as a waste site.

Those measures could face opposition in the Senate, however, where Senator Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat and majority leader, has vowed the Yucca Mountain repository will never be built.

In fact, an appropriations bill passed by the Senate Appropriations Energy and Water Development Subcommittee on Tuesday provided no funds for Yucca Mountain. It did, however, include a provision that would create a DOE pilot program for siting and developing an interim consolidated storage site for commercial spent nuclear waste.

The Senate Appropriations Committee is set to take up its own version of the energy and water development appropriations bill on Thursday. That bill would provide DOE with $27.1 billion in 2013, an increase of $1.38 billion above fiscal 2012. That is $1 billion above the $26.1 billion provided by the House committee.

LINK

Ukraine has no alternatives to nuclear power for next 10-20 years, says PM

Ukrainian Premier Mykola Azarov has stated that Ukraine should develop nuclear power industry under conditions of overcoming an economic crisis, as it has no other alternatives.

"We don't have alternatives to nuclear energy in the near ten to twenty years, moreover we will develop it and this year we will start the construction of two power units at Khmelnytsky Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) and a plant for fabrication of nuclear fuel," Azarov said during a meeting on exploitation of power units of NPPs at the emergency and technical center of state enterprise Energoatom in Bilohorodka (Kyiv region).
The PM stressed that "we are making a real steps for strengthening of our energy independence for the first time over 20 years of our independence."

"Of course, there are alternatives to nuclear power engineering, for instance solar or green energy generation, and some European countries, particularly Germany, can afford to refuse from nuclear power plants, but Ukraine, which is overcoming a serious economic crisis, cannot afford this," Azarov said.

Azarov added that the cost price of solar energy is UAH 4 per kilowatt, while nuclear energy cost is "50 times lower."

Turkey's EUAS, Candu Energy Sign Agreement for Nuclear Plant in Sinop

ISTANBUL, TURKEY, Apr 26, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- Researched by Industrial Info Resources (Sugar Land, Texas) -- With increasing power demands from its near double-digit growth economy, Turkey wants to strengthen its hand with new partnerships in nuclear energy. In a recent move, Turkey's state-owned electricity producer Elektrik Uretim AS or EUAS (Ankara, Turkey) signed a memorandum of understanding with Canadian nuclear power company Candu Energy Incorporated (Mississauga, Ontario) regarding the construction of a nuclear plant at the Black Sea port city of Sinop. Turkey is aiming to have five nuclear power plants with a total of 20 reactors by 2030.

South Africa’s power crunch means opportunity for global nuclear industry


Schalk van Zuydam-File/Associated Press - In this photo taken Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012, South Africa’s Koeberg nuclear power station is seen on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa. The countyr’s power-starved plans to to increase it’s nuclear reactor capacity are drawing attention from energy companies around the world.

JOHANNESBURG — Power-starved South Africa plans to increase its nuclear reactor capacity and energy companies from around the world are lining up to be involved.

The project has an estimated cost of 300 billion rand (more than $40 million), South African Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said, but it is still unclear what contracts will be offered or how much of the business will be set aside for local companies.

South Africa is the only country in Africa with a nuclear power plant, the two-reactor Koeberg facility near Cape Town that has been operating since 1984. It is committed to building at least six more reactors at three or four sites by 2030 as part of a plan to decrease its dependence on electricity plants that run on greenhouse gas-emitting coal.

South Africa now depends on the coal plants for at least 90 percent of its energy needs, and Eskom, the state electricity utility, also is a major supplier to South Africa’s neighbors.

An energy crisis in 2008 blamed on poor planning led to frequent and widespread blackouts that hit output in mining and other key industries. The government fears energy supplies will be tight for the next few years, hobbling its efforts to expand the economy and create jobs in a country where a quarter of the work force is unemployed.

South Africa wants to build local skills and local business as it expands its nuclear capacity, Peters said.
“It is not just about building power plants, but how we build them,” she said at a nuclear seminar organized by a labor group. “We are not about to turn South Africans into mixers of concrete.”


Peters presented the plans for the reactors, along with those for wind and solar plants, just days after a quake and tsunami hit Japan in March 2011, sending three reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant into meltdown there. Germany permanently shut down one of its aging reactors because of what happened at Fukushima. But Peters said she was confident the new nuclear technology South Africa planned to import was safe. No serious incidents have been reported at Koeberg during its 28 years in operation.

South Africa’s nuclear program, though, has had setbacks, including a failed effort with America’s Westinghouse to develop next-generation reactors. The multibillion rand (dollar) project missed several deadlines before it was abandoned, and prospects for customers were uncertain.

South Africa is not alone in forging ahead with nuclear projects following Fukushima. Turkey went ahead with plans to build its first nuclear power plant after Fukushima. And even as Japanese engineers were fighting to cool reactors, officials from Russia and Belarus were signing a deal for a $9.4 billion nuclear plant in Belarus.

South Africa is “one of several significant prospects on the radar,” said Ian Hore-Lacy, spokesman for the London-based World Nuclear Association, which represents the industry.

American and French companies involved in building Koeberg may have an advantage when it comes to involvement in South Africa’s nuclear buildup because of their long-standing relationships, Hore-Lacy said in a telephone interview. But he said Russian, Chinese and other companies can’t be discounted in the race for nuclear business here.

Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation, known as Rosatom, has been among the most active in seeking South African business. Rosatom held a seminar in Johannesburg in early April to introduce itself to the South African government and business officials, and sent a vice president back later in April for more talks.

Alexey Kalinin, head of Rosatom’s foreign operations, said his company would get as much as 60 percent of supplies for projects in South Africa from South African companies. He said that could mean more than $15 billion in earnings for South African companies, $3.4 billion in tax revenues for the South African government, and 15,000 new jobs. He also said Rosatom was ready to draw South African companies into its global supply chain.

Rosatom’s Kalinin said his company was looking ahead to helping Nigeria develop a nuclear industry, and already was involved in uranium exploration and mining in Tanzania and Namibia.

South Africa “can be indeed regarded as a possible gateway to other African countries and a driver of nuclear energy development in the region,” Kalinin said.

Such expansion is just what Yves Marignac, a Paris-based energy expert and anti-nuclear campaigner, fears. He would rather see developing countries taking the lead in exploiting safe, clean renewable energy sources like wind and solar. South African officials say renewables alone can’t deliver enough energy.

Marignac, speaking in a telephone interview, also said he is concerned the nuclear energy industry may be pushing new markets to sign contracts before all the questions raised by the Japanese crisis are answered, and those answers turned into safer — and likely more expensive — technology.

“South Africa is probably one of the next big chances for the nuclear companies trying to sell reactors in the world,” said Marignac, who sees a race between “the ability of the companies to acquire new contracts ... and the ability of the international community to develop new standards.”

Peters, South Africa’s energy minister, said she won’t be rushed, and that safety is a top priority.
She also said South Africa is interested not just in building new reactors, but in developing an entire cycle, from mining more of its uranium resources to nuclear waste management. That presents a range of opportunities for foreign companies, as well as the possibility of South Africa one day exporting its own nuclear know-how.

Peters has faced challenges from South Africa’s powerful labor movement, concerned she is not choosing the energy options that will create the most jobs, and from a nascent South African anti-nuclear movement.
“We as South Africa are convinced that we need an energy mix,” Peters said. “We cannot discard any technology.”

LINK

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

EDF: Fire At Fessenheim Nuclear Plant Rapidly Extinguished

A fire at the Fessenheim nuclear plant in Eastern France broke out in the building of the second reactor, but was rapidly put out, had no impact on the nuclear reactor's safety, the surrounding environment, or power output, French power group Electricite de France SA (EDF.FR) said Wednesday.

The fire broke out at 0630 GMT on a part of the cooling system within the reactor's machine room, outside the nuclear element of the installation. The plant's own crew quickly extinguished the fire, EDF said in a statement on its web site, noting firemen were also called on site and confirmed the incident was over.

Francois Hollande, the socialist party candidate in the ongoing French presidential election, has pledged to close Fessenheim, France's oldest nuclear plant, with two reactors both 35 years old, if elected.

However, France's nuclear safety agency last year considered the reactors could remain operational for ten more years, providing some strengthening works are conducted, following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March last year.

On Apr. 5, a fire started within EDF's second nuclear reactor building at its Penly plant, in Normandy, which triggered a radioactive water leak after a joint broke and forced the halt of the reactor operation.

The fire was put out during the night and the leak stopped, although EDF hasn't been able to restart the reactor as the ASN's greenlight is still pending while an investigation over the incident is being conducted.

EDF, which is state-controlled, is the world's largest nuclear operator with 58 reactors in France and 17 reactors in the U.K.

Analysis: U.S. firms may miss out as Saudi nuke plan advances

DUBAI (Reuters) - Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia expects to finalize its atomic energy plans this year but the U.S. nuclear industry may miss out on multi-billion dollar contracts to turn it into a reality unless Washington and Riyadh sign a non-proliferation deal soon.

Saudi Arabia has some of the world's largest oil and gas fields but rapidly rising power demand in the kingdom threatens to absorb much of those reserves unless it can find alternative fuels for its long-term economic growth.

Riyadh, which says electricity demand could soar from around 45 gig watts (GW) to 120 GW by 2035, commissioned the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-CARE) in 2010 to draw up a plan for reducing reliance on oil and gas.

It has signed nuclear cooperation deals with countries able to build reactors, including the United States, France, Russia, South Korea, China and Argentina. And Riyadh needs to move relatively quickly if it is to achieve its goal of opening its first nuclear plant by 2020.

"We expect the current consultation phase with the Council to last for a few more months before we can announce the Kingdom's energy sources, capacity targets, and milestone regulations," a KA-CARE spokesman said. "Soon we will be announcing what the energy mix for the reactors will be."

U.S. companies lost out to a lower-bidding Korean consortium in the first Gulf region nuclear plant tender in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2009. They could be sidelined again until Washington and Riyadh sign a "123 agreement" under the U.S. Atomic Energy Act - opening the door for U.S. nuclear exports.

Nuclear projects tend to progress slowly - thanks to their size, complexity and many safety issues.

A U.S. embassy cable released by Wikileaks warned in 2009 that Saudi Arabia pressing ahead with one of the world's largest atomic energy programs without U.S. involvement was a "near-term risk to U.S. interests."

But with congress preoccupied with U.S. presidential elections and stopping Iran's nuclear program, which it suspects includes weapons development, it is unlikely any deal will be concluded this year.

"There's high doubt that President Obama or the U.S. congress, which needs to ratify the 123 agreement, will move on this in 2012," said a source in Washington familiar with U.S. energy policy.

"I think the Saudis will have to wait and see who wins the elections first before they proceed ... this may not be until 2014 before the United States considers it."

Riyadh, may not wait until 2014 for a U.S. non-proliferation deal and has several other options if the door to U.S. companies remains shut.

"It would constrain American suppliers of reactors or of services, like conversion or enrichment, but as far as anybody else is concerned, no," Ian Hore-Lacy, spokesman for the World Nuclear Association (WNA), a group representing nuclear power companies around the world, said.



"But there would be plenty of options. Even in a worst case scenario, there are still other avenues of buying equipment and services ... It certainly wouldn't be a show stopper," he said.

It is unclear how the use of some U.S.-patented technologies by other nuclear plant builders would be affected if the United States and the kingdom do not strike a 123 deal.

The UAE signed the 123 agreement with the United States in early 2009, forfeiting its right to enrich uranium domestically, before awarding a $40 billion contract to a Korean-led consortium later that year.

Prince Turki al-Faisal, a key Saudi royal, has said the kingdom would not surrender its right to enrich its own uranium for energy use in the long term, although it expects to have to import fuel in the medium term.

"Early economic studies have indicated that although Saudi Arabia is naturally rich with uranium, using that uranium in Saudi Arabian facilities to produce fuel for electrical generation will not be economically feasible in the foreseeable future," the KA-CARE spokesman said. "Importing fuel is preferable at this time."

While concrete construction plans remain far off, Saudi Arabia has signed memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with several countries with experience in building nuclear plants - including the United States, France, Russia, South Korea, China and Argentina - over the last few years.

LINK

Palisades Nuclear Power Plant gets new inspector

The troubled Palisades Nuclear Power Plant near South Haven has a new resident inspector, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced today.

April Scarbeary joins Senior NRC Resident Inspector Thomas Taylor at the facility.  Each commercial nuclear power plant in the United States has at least two resident inspectors who monitor day-to-day operations at the plant.

“Scarbeary’s background, training, and experience will assist the NRC in carrying out its mission of protecting people and the environment and ensuring the safe operation of nuclear power plants,” said Cynthia Pederson, Acting Regional Administrator for NRC Region III.

Since joining the NRC, Scarbeary has completed an inspector qualification program as well as the agency’s Nuclear Safety Professional Development Program as a member of the class of 2010.

Palisades was listed as one of the four lowest rated power plants in the nation in a Nuclear Regulatory Commission annual assessment released in March.

Of the 104 commercial reactors in the United States, 99 were performing at a high level.
Palisades was not and was listed as performing at a “degraded level.”

The facility was downgraded in February as the result of an NRC investigation of an electrical fault in September. The incident resulted in a reactor trip and the loss of half of the control room indicators.

Radioactive steam was released into the environment, though the radiation levels were within acceptable levels.
The plant at 27780 Blue Star Highway in Covert Township is owned by Entergy and provides about 18 percent of the power for Consumers Energy. It began operation in 1971. Its license expires in 2031.

Parts of Allegan County are within a 10-mile-radius Emergency Planning Zone — the prime area where people could be effected by a radiation leak from the plant and evacuations would be mostly likely in an emergency.

LINK

France: EDF Wins Reprieve as Hollande Cools on Greens Nuclear Pact

Socialist candidate Francois Hollande has distanced himself from an accord with the Greens to shut 24 of France’s 58 nuclear reactors by 2025 in light of union support for the industry and the perceived threat to jobs. Photographer: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images
Electricite de France SA, Europe’s largest power producer, may get a boost from frontrunner Francois Hollande’s backing off from a nuclear pact with the Greens, who flopped in the first round of the elections.
Socialist candidate Hollande has distanced himself from an accord with the Greens to shut 24 of France’s 58 nuclear reactors by 2025 in light of union support for the industry and the perceived threat to jobs.
The Greens candidate Eva Joly -- with her trademark round green glasses -- got 2.3 percent of the vote in the first round of the French presidential election on April 22. Hollande led with 28.6 percent, while President Nicolas Sarkozy got 27.2 percent. Hollande and Sarkozy will square off on May 6.
“Eva Joly failed to seduce French voters,” said Nicolas Tenzer, the director of CERAP, a political think-tank in Paris. “There won’t be a radical change in French nuclear policy under the Socialists.”
The nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, Japan, last year had sparked a debate on “over-reliance” on atomic energy in France, which gets more than 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear power, the most in the world. With Hollande putting the pact on the back burner, the risk Paris-based EDF, the world’s biggest nuclear operator, will be forced to close many reactors in the case of a Socialist victory, has waned.
“The threat of shutdowns for EDF won’t be as immediate and severe as some had believed,” said Myriam Cohen, an analyst at Alphavalue in Paris. Brokerages Oddo & Cie and Berenberg Bank recommended buying EDF shares this week.


The Pact

EDF rose as much as 0.7 percent as of 9:02 in Paris to 15.55 euros. The shares have fallen about 17 percent this year.
Hollande’s pledge to lower France’s reliance on nuclear energy shook investor confidence in the state-controlled operator EDF. Sarkozy backs prolonging the operating lives of existing reactors past 40 years and developing new ones.
Investor concern about the effects of a Hollande victory peaked in November following the Socialists-Greens accord. The never-published manifesto sent EDF share prices plummeting about 10 percent on Nov. 16 and Nov. 17. It cast doubt on the utility’s ability to produce nuclear energy relatively cheaply after spending billions on improving safety.
The Greens want France to phase out nuclear energy altogether like Germany decided to do after Fukushima. The Sarkozy government’s unwavering support for nuclear power led Joly to call Industry Minister Eric Besson a “nucleopath.”
On the campaign trail, Sarkozy has raised the specter of massive job losses and industry exodus from France without nuclear power. EDF Chief Executive Officer Henri Proglio has said a complete exit from nuclear energy would cost 400 billion euros ($534 billion) and threaten one million jobs.

‘Gentle Transition’

The energy source keeps French electricity prices among the lowest in Europe and gives it lower carbon emissions than other large European Union countries.
Under Hollande’s near-term plan, EDF’s oldest plant at Fessenheim will be closed within five years because of safety concerns, the new model EPR at Flamanville in Normandy will be completed and the proportion of power production from nuclear will be lowered to 50 percent by around 2025.
“We need a gentle transition,” Socialist deputy Francois Brottes told an energy conference in Paris this month. “We aren’t completely undoing one type of energy production.”
The less-drastic plan prompted ratings upgrades this month on EDF shares at Kepler Capital Markets and HSBC Holdings Plc.
“The greatest tangible difference between a Socialist and a Conservative win in the upcoming presidential elections appears to be Fesseneheim, which hardly matters for the value of EDF shares,” wrote Kepler analyst Ingo Becker, who recommends buying the stock.

EDF Tariffs

EDF CEO Proglio is pushing ahead with plans to spend millions improving safety at Fessenheim. EDF has spent more than 380 million euros since 2009 on the reactors so they can pass once-a-decade safety inspections.
“Fessenheim is complicated because it provides base power for southern Germany,” said Dominique Miniere, EDF’s director of nuclear production. “Any shutdown can’t be done overnight.”
For EDF, there may be other worries, however.
With the French economy slowing and joblessness at a 12- year high, it may be difficult for EDF to push through an increase in the government-set tariff no matter who is elected.
Hollande has promised new rates for power, natural gas and water to help 8 million people struggling to pay energy bills.
It’s unlikely that there will be “clarity over tariffs in coming years,” according to Kepler’s Becker.

Proglio’s Fate

An Hollande victory might also mean changes in the executive suite at EDF. Although the Hollande team has said there won’t be a witch hunt of heads of state-controlled companies should he come to power, “the management team at EDF may be replaced,” said UBS AG analyst Per Lekander. “A politician could be named.”
EDF’s Proglio, who was then CEO of Veolia Environnement SA, was among a handful of people to celebrate Sarkozy’s election win in May 2007 at a restaurant on the Champs Elysees avenue. EDF spokeswoman Carol Trivi declined to comment on the presidential election and its implications for the company.
Hollande’s campaign this month called “scandalous” an increase since 2009 in salaries of EDF top managers.
“How can we accept this intolerable behavior?” asked a statement from Hollande’s spokesman, promising that compensation will be reined in at state-controlled companies. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Nuclear Power – The World Report 2012 - 2030


By Lee S. Gliddon III
Research by:  Mary Owings, Lee S. Gliddon III

Mark Twain once said, "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated."  Like Mark Twain, recent reports of the death of nuclear power are also greatly exaggerated, but unlike the prolific author who died in 1910, nuclear power will be present, with growth scheduled for decades to come, throughout the planet.  Recent trends, plans, and quotes from the world community let us know there will be expansion of nuclear power, not contraction.

WORLDWIDE

Growth in nuclear power reactors is expected throughout the world and particularly from China and India.  Over 80 new nuclear power plants are expected to be commissioned by 2017.  61 nuclear plants are under construction and an additional 491 are planned or proposed.  That number has grown by 9 since the Fukushima event.   

The International Energy Agency estimates world electricity demand will double by 2030.  The advantages are that nuclear energy is not subject to unreliable weather or climate, uranium supplies are solid, and there are zero carbon emissions.  Ever improving technology have new plants producing far more energy using less fuel; while being less expensive to build with far less waste.  Countries looking to meet their Kyoto environmental commitments simply cannot without nuclear power.

EUROPE

Currently almost 30% of the electricity consumed in the European Union comes from nuclear power. Although Germany has claimed they will “get off” nuclear power; it remains an important technology of choice and the European Commission will maintain and develop research into nuclear power.  France alone obtains over 70% of its electricity needs from nuclear power with no plans to change.

Germany

German Chancellor Merkel has vowed to get off nuclear power.  That goal is costing Germany economically and environmentally already.  Germany was a net exporter of energy and is now at a “break even” point with still over half of its nuclear reactors online.  Germany is now slated to build 17 new coal and 29 new gas-fired plants.  Meanwhile, German environmentalists are upset as 25 million tons of carbon emissions have been added according to, Laszlo Varro of the International Energy Agency.  

The Czech Republic defies Germany

Merkel backed down on the German position regarding its neighbors which was to oppose the Czech Republic’s plan to build two more reactors at the Temelin nuclear power station near the German and Austrian border.  There may even be a long term plan to buy energy from the Czech Republic as Germany must begin to buy energy from its neighbors.

Belarus embraces nuclear power 

The first Belarus plant, currently under construction, is scheduled to come online in 2017.
Belarus plans to build a second nuclear power plant with the help of the United Nations.  "If we have IAEA cooperation, support and suitable conditions, we are ready to build a second nuclear power station in Belarus," President Alexander Lukashenko said early this year.

"I strongly believe that atomic power is a must and that it is the safest way to acquire cheap energy that the world will need in larger and larger amounts," Lukashenko said.

The most noteworthy element of this position is that Belarus is the country most seriously affected by the Chernobyl disaster.

ASIA

The economic growth in Asia has rapidly increased energy needs.  Nuclear power is viewed as the source to enable continued expansion.

China buys resources and continues nuclear plant construction

China is currently engaged in negotiations with Areva SA (AREVA) to buy a stake in the company’s uranium mine operations.  China intends to continue its record growth fueled by nuclear power and resumes its approval process for even more nuclear reactors.  According to the China Nuclear Energy Association, it is building at least 27 reactors and has 50 more planned.

India’s nuclear power aspirations forge ahead despite activists 

India’s plan to build six Russian reactors in Kudankulam was conceived in the late 1980’s.  Activists protesting have delayed commissioning of the first reactor, which is 99% complete, and a second reactor that is 94% complete.  Even ardent anti-nuclear activists acknowledge that India has a huge energy shortfall, producing 12% less electricity than it needs at peak times, resulting in frequent, extended blackouts.  

The postponements attributed to the activists have added $500 million to the now-$3.3-billion project.  The Indian government appears to have had enough with the delays.  In February 2012, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh accused foreign groups of funding the protests to hold back India’s development.  The Indian government went as far as arresting and deporting a German national, Hermann Rainer Sonntag, accusing him of funding the Kudankulam protests.  Recent Indian government activity points to a new commitment to completing Kudankulam and pushing for even more nuclear reactors.

Recent approvals have marked the next phase of growth in the Indian nuclear power program.

South Korea partners with Vietnam continuing Southeast Asia nuclear power growth

South Korea currently has 21 nuclear reactors with a combined regular capacity of 19,259 megawatts.  With its nuclear expertise, South Korea’s Ministry of Knowledge Economy said in March 2012 that it had signed an agreement with its Vietnamese counterpart on building a nuclear power plant.

The Vietnam plans will mark the second South Korean consortium to build nuclear plants for other countries.  A group led by Korea Electric Power Corp. signed an $18.6 billion deal with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in late 2009 under which they would build a total of four nuclear reactors in the UAE.

RUSSIA (Europe/Asia)

Russia receives 16% of all its energy from nuclear power generation.  Russia announced in 2003 a policy to reduce natural gas power ad to increase nuclear power generation in attempt to hit 23% of its electricity needs by 2020 and 25% by 2030 through nuclear power.  The planned increase in reactors is from 31 to 59 by 2030.

Russia sees Germany’s move away from nuclear power as a huge opportunity as anticipated German energy shortfalls will be met with increased exports of Russian natural gas.

Russia is also exporting its nuclear power expertise throughout the world for projects in China, India, Vietnam, Iran, and Turkey.

AFRICA

Several African countries including Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Ghana and Kenya are at different stages of nuclear development. South Africa exploits nuclear energy for power generation and is expanding its capacity. More than 20 African countries have made the political decision to go nuclear.  The developing world has chosen its path for growth and nuclear power has a strong role.

Kenya’s quest to modernize embraces nuclear power 

A political decision marks approval regarding nuclear electricity. It has given rise to the formation of the Nuclear Electricity Project Committee. By December 2015, Kenya should be ready to for bids on its first nuclear power plant. By the end of 2022, Kenya projects it will be ready to commission and operate the first nuclear power plant which will generate at least 1000MW, and increasing  to 4000MW by 2030 with the construction of three more nuclear power plants.

South Africa plans large investment

South Africa will likely spend more than $78 billion on new nuclear plants, another coal-fired plant, and a hydropower project in the Democratic Republic of Congo to stave off power shortages in Africa’s largest economy.  Proposals to spend $39 billion on nuclear plants with the capacity to generate 9,600 megawatts of energy by 2029 are in the “final stages of consideration,” the Treasury said in February 2012.

SOUTH AMERICA

Argentina’s growth is accommodated 

Soon, Argentina will receive 10% of its electricity from nuclear power.  In September 2011, President Cristina Fern├índez de Kirchner attended the opening of Argentina’s third nuclear plant, Atucha II, and highlighted the fact that “Argentina is a leader in the use of nuclear power for peaceful purposes.”
Mrs. Kirchner announced that 45.5% more megawatts of energy have been created since 2003. ”In the past 8 years, new factories, businesses and workshops have needed more energy,” she said.

Electricity consumption in Argentina has grown strongly since 1990. Per capita consumption was just over 2000 kWh/yr in 2002 and rose to over 2600 kWh/yr in 2007. Gross electricity production in 2007 was 115 billion kWh.  In 2008, nuclear power provided over 6.8 billion kWh of electricity – about 6.2% of total electricity generation.  Argentina expects the overall percent of nuclear energy to rise.

Argentina now plans to build another nuclear plant, Atucha III to meet its increasing energy needs.

Brazil’s high energy demands

Brazil is the world’s tenth largest consumer of energy and the demand is growing.  Brazil’s natural uranium resources account for 5% of the total in the world according to the World Nuclear Association.  The country has two nuclear reactors Angra I and II with plans to have Angra III complete by 2014.

Brazil’s Senate approved fiscal incentives for nuclear power in June of 2011.  The new direction offers Eletrobras (EBR), along with equipment partners, the ability to buy capital goods, building materials, infrastructure materials and nuclear industry specific technologies for use in energy generation without having to pay the industrial production tax, nor tariffs on imported goods.  Germany is a beneficiary of this embrace of nuclear power by Brazil as Germany’s E.On is planning a building new nuclear power plant in Brazil. Four more large Brazilian reactors are expected to come on line by 2025, according to the World Nuclear Association.

NORTH AMERICA 

Canada’s Energy Czar - Nuclear industry will thrive 

Nuclear generation supplies 15% of Canada’s electricity needs and 60% of Ontario’s with 18 reactors providing over 12,600 MWe of power.  Canada has plans to expand its nuclear capacity over the next decade by building more reactors.  

"While other jurisdictions may be scaling back their nuclear energy commitment because of Fukushima, we are not," Tom Mitchell, president and CEO of Ontario Power Generation (OPG), declared in an address Thursday to several hundred Ottawa delegates at the Canadian Nuclear Association's annual conference.

United States falters on nuclear industry

While providing support publicly for new nuclear plant construction the current U.S. Administration apparently has a far different position on nuclear power.  Two nuclear sites have been in construction since President Obama took office.  

The first site was South Texas Project 3&4.  In April 2011, NRG Energy that owned the application for the two new reactors announced they were abandoning the process due to a slow permitting process which drove up costs.  Behind the scenes, the U.S. Federal Government pulled the loan guarantee previously offered during the previous administration forcing NRG Energy to write off its $331 million investment.
The only active site under construction is the Vogtle Project in Georgia.  Less than a month ago it was announced that Georgia Power and its partners may not be able to reach terms with the US Department of Energy on $8.3 billion in loan guarantees to finance the Vogtle nuclear plant expansion.  The Federal Government increased the interest rate and hit the project with an $800 million “application fee”.  The U.S. nuclear power industry is watching with great concern.

Although there are dozens of applications being submitted for new plants in the U.S., the recent collapse of STP 3&4 and the sudden changes on the Vogtle Project may tell of a demise of the past dominance of the U.S. nuclear industry.   But, with 104 active reactors and nearly 20% of U.S. Energy coming from nuclear power there is little concern of big changes as there is no viable replacement.

Summary

The countries that are embracing nuclear power have realized historical trends of reduced energy costs, growth, and an improved standard of living.  As third world nations progress and their energy demands necessarily increase, nuclear power has become an approved energy source.  

It is expected that countries embracing nuclear power will be on an economic growth pattern.  These include:  Russia, China, India, France, and Canada.  Those rejecting nuclear power will realize increased energy costs and a lowered standard of living.  These countries include:  The United States, Germany, and Japan.  

The claims that nuclear power is, “on its deathbed”, is a gross misrepresentation of the actual current state of world energy affairs.  New plants are not only safer, but require less fuel, produce less waste and much more power.  The embrace of nuclear power by most of the world ensures that nuclear power is here to stay.