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Monday, March 17, 2008

Capacity crisis at Japan Steel Works threatens global nuclear power plant production

A 100-year-old steel mill that once forged guns for the Japanese Imperial Navy has hit a production bottleneck that threatens to derail more than £150 billion of global nuclear power-plant construction.

The capacity shortage at Japan Steel Works (JSW) has created a worldwide stampede among electricity producers to place orders with the Tokyo-based engineer for nuclear reactor cores - a specialised component in which the company has an effective global monopoly.

As the stakes have risen in the tussle to reach the front of JSW's order-book queue for reactor cores, energy analysts said that down-payments have soared beyond £50 million per unit. In some cases, European and American energy groups are placing huge deposits on equipment that will not be built for another decade.

Nuclear energy experts fear that in its haste to expand production, the nuclear industry may have overlooked this part of the equation, potentially jeopardising the future of the 237 reactors expected by The World Nuclear Association to be built between now and 2030.

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(Source: Times Online)

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