Welcome to AtomWatch - world nuclear power news and analysis

This blog is aimed at tracing the world news related to nuclear power development internationally and in particular countries. Being an independent resource, we accept all kinds of opinions, positions and comments, and welcome you to discuss the posts and tell us what you think.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Norway, Finland to finance dismantling of radioisotope power supplysources in Baltic Sea

[Another article showing other applications of nuclear technology.]


MURMANSK. Feb 26 (Interfax-AVN) - A contract on dismantling
navigation equipment and the installation of alternative power supply
sources in the Baltic Sea will be signed in St. Petersburg in March, in
line with an agreement reached at a meeting in Kirkenes between Gunnar
Kjonnoy, the governor of the Norwegian province of Finnmark, and
Murmansk region Governor Yury Yevdokimov, Nikolai Sigin, Yevdokimov's
press secretary, told Interfax on Thursday.
The contract envisions the disposal of 71 radioisotope
thermoelectric generators and installation of alternative power supply
sources on 56 beacons in the Baltic Sea in 2009-2012.
The project's cost is 50.2 million Norwegian kroner, and Finland,
which also wishes to join the project, will contribute 1.35 million
The installation of alternative power supply sources on beacons
within the area of responsibility of the Russian Baltic Fleet will
follow the dismantling of all the 153 radioisotope thermoelectric
generators within the area of responsibility of the Northern Fleet's
hydrographic service in the White Sea and the Barents Sea.

Nuclear power can help halve CO2- expert

Nuclear power can help halve CO2 emissions and double energy production by 2050, an expert in nuclear energy has said on a visit to Northern Ireland.

Prof Bertrand Barré, chairman of the International Nuclear Energy Academy, said last night that the twin objectives of emission reduction and increased production within 40 years would not be attainable without nuclear power.

Prof Barré, who delivered the eighth Sir Bernard Crossland Lecture at Queen’s University, Belfast last night, said greater reliance on nuclear and renewable energy sources was an “immense challenge”. If managed correctly it would be of huge ecological and economic benefit to the entire planet.

“Today, 80 per cent of the world’s energy is produced by burning oil, coal and gas, and this puts CO2 into the atmosphere.

Prof Barré insisted that increasing energy production twofold was imperative in ensuring that developing countries could attain “a decent level of life”.

(Source: Irish Times)

Italy seeks nuclear power revival with French help

Silvio Berlusconi's government wants Italy to overcome a two decades-old taboo on nuclear power and start building plants to ensure clean and secure energy sources, it said on Tuesday ahead of a nuclear deal with France.

Volatility in oil prices and the clash between Russia and Ukraine over gas pipelines has highlighted how risky Europe's energy sources can be, making nuclear power -- with virtually zero carbon dioxide emissions -- a more attractive option.

Italy's centre-right government, which has been talking about new capacity despite a 1987 referendum suspending building new nuclear plants in Italy after the Chernobyl disaster, said Italy needed to secure its own clean energy supplies.

"In coming years we must lay the first stone of a safe and clean Italian nuclear plant," Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told local television. "Nuclear power is an important source of energy supply for Italy."

As French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Berlusconi held a bilateral summit due to produce a deal on nuclear cooperation, Frattini said Italy wanted to take advantage of France's "very advanced technology and experience in the subject".

Sweden, which had voted to phase out nuclear power in a 1980 referendum, now plans to lift the ban and Britain is drawing up plans to revive its nuclear plants.

Italy's plans may face political resistance, but Berlusconi has a strong parliamentary majority and the main centre-left opposition is on its knees after recent election defeats.

"The time scale on nuclear power stations will be long but the important thing is to give the green light," Berlusconi's spokesman Paolo Bonaiuti told reporters on Tuesday.

Industry Minister Claudio Scajola said on Monday Italy and France would sign an accord on "all aspects of nuclear power, from cooperation at the European level to security, technological cooperation, training, decommissioning and industrial cooperation in other countries".

Scajola says Italy needs eight to 10 European Pressurized Reactors (EPR), known as improved third-generation plants.

But analysts ask how utilities would fund this and what delays might arise from wrangling over whether the sector would be overseen by an independent regulator or a government agency.

The Italian and French media said the cooperation pact would involve Italy's dominant power utility, Enel, taking a 12.5 percent stake in France's second EPR reactor.

Enel already owns a 12.5 percent stake in France's first EPR which is being built at Flamanville in northwest France and will be operated by French power giant EDF.

In turn, EDF could take part in a joint venture with Enel in Italy to build a nuclear plant.

Sarkozy told Italian newspaper La Stampa in an interview published on Tuesday that EDF and Enel "will constitute two components of the trans-Alpine energy axis we're launching".

(Source: Reuters)

Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant crosses a milestone

Iran’s Bushehr atomic power station crossed a major milestone on Wednesday following an announcement that the construction of the facility had been completed and a series of tests that would lead the formal commissioning of the 1000MW plant had commenced.

Sergei Kiriyenko, visiting head of Russia’s nuclear agency, Rosatom told reporters at Bushehr that the construction of the plant was now complete. “The construction stage of the nuclear power plant is over, we are now in the pre-commissioning stage, which is a combination of complex procedures,” he said. Mohsen Shirazi, spokesman of the atomic energy agency said dummy fuel rods were now being inserted in the reactor as part of the comprehensive tests that were scheduled. He said virtual fuel made of lead, which was designed to imitate nuclear fuel was being loaded in the plant.

“Virtual fuel which does not have uranium will be loaded in the core of the reactor,” the deputy head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, Mohammad Saeedi, told Iranian state television. “The main units, especially the primary circuit, back-up systems and sub-units are tested to remove any failure that could happen in the commissioning stage,” he said.

Iran is building the Bushehr facility with Russian help under a $1-billion contract.

(Source: The Hindu)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Greens in "panic" over growing split on nuclear power

[Looks like there is more discussion going on in the environmental community on the nuclear issue.]



Green Party leaders in the UK have attempted to reign in a growing split within the party over the role of nuclear power in tackling climate change.

This week saw a prospective Parliamentary candidate for the Party revealing that he was now "reluctantly" supporting new nuclear power stations because of growing concerns about climate change.

Chris Goodall, now facing calls to be deselected as Green candidate for the Oxford West and Abingdon constituency, wrote a column in the Independent on Monday where he also raised his concerns with the growing economic incentive to use coal power.

In response, the leader of the Green Party in the UK, Caroline Lucas, said: "There is no need for anyone to panic themselves into thinking nuclear power is a possible solution to climate change."

Ms Lucas, MEP for South East England, said: "Of course the government and the nuclear lobbyists will try to use fear of climate change to divide the Green movement and argue for nuclear power. But we must hold our nerve."

Speaking to New Energy Focus today, sources working in Brussels suggested the growing split over the nuclear question was not confined to Britain, but was becoming a major conflict area.

"The stance against nuclear had always been the one issue that they all agreed on," said one source close to the Greens in the EU. "But now, some of them are questioning that, with the growing concern about climate change."

Greens around the world are now asking whether the global movement is right to take a "rigid" stance against nuclear power. The movement has its roots among anti-nuclear protest groups in the 1970s.

Mr Goodall has written books including 10 Technologies to Save the Planet, a tome that included carbon capture and CHP as two of the 10 listed technologies, but did not include nuclear power.

But expanding on his views as stated in the Independent this week, Mr Goodall said that "in the medium term, we need nuclear as fast as possible because otherwise we get more coal".

He suggested the current low price of carbon and fuels meant coal power was being increasingly prioritised by energy generators, with plants that were due to closed perhaps staying open with new pollution control equipment fitted to meet Europe's new Large Combustion Plants Directive.

"We've got into this mess simply because we didn't invest heavily enough in onshore wind, tidal or wave power in the last two decades," Mr Goodall said.

While accepting the challenges associated with nuclear power, even in the long-term, Mr Goodall suggested it might be necessary to provide base load capacity in the energy network, suggesting that biomass power stations would require too much land area for crop cultivation.

We are making so little progress with other technologies that I reluctantly conclude that we also need to sponsor nuclear power.
Chris Goodall, Green Party candidate"I do think that the public debate needs to move beyond the ritualised and stale statements of both the pro- and anti-nuclear groups," he concluded. "We are making so little progress with other technologies that I reluctantly conclude that we also need to sponsor nuclear power in the UK."

Dr Lucas agreed with the urgency needed to "drastically" reduce emissions in the UK, but said it would take "many years" to build new nuclear power plants, in which time she said renewable energy and efficiency programmes could be set in place.

She said: "We can organise a massive programme of energy-saving measures for every home and business in the UK starting right now. We can get renewable energy sources into place rapidly if we unclog the planning system and set up the kind of incentives used so successfully in Germany and Spain."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

COMMENTARY: Talking quietly about nuclear power


By Annamari Sipilä in Brussels

Talking about nuclear power is an art and a discipline all its own. One of the skills is branding the opposite camp's arguments as exaggerated, biased, politically-charged, or long on emotions and commensurably short on facts. For this reason the European Union has tended to steer clear of a broad discussion on the future of nuclear energy. Nobody wants a ruckuss.

The two sides, for and against, have been too from from one another for a sensible dialogue.

But the EU itself does not decide on whether the use of nuclear power in Europe increases or not. The choice of forms of energy belongs to each member state individually.

The chain of influence travels from the member-states back to the Union. When a sufficient number of EU members resolve to favour nuclear power, it will inevitably begin to be reflected in the Union's own stand on the matter, and on decisions and actions from the top.

In the course of the last year, more and more EU members have begun to lean towards nukes as a source of energy, or have at least shelved earlier plans to give up nuclear energy for good.

There are three main reasons behind this, and they can be condensed into the names of three cities: Kyoto, Moscow, and Lisbon.

Kyoto means the fight against climate change. It requires a massive reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, which in turn - in the view of the pro-nuclear lobby - requires the building of additional nuclear reactors.

Moscow means the European union's dependence on imported energy. The gas crisis in January indicated that the EU countries are rigid with fear - and with cold - in the face of Russia, when Moscow orders that the natural gas taps be shut.

Lisbon, then again, is the same as the Lisbon Strategy, which is basically the EU's ongoing development plan to make itself into "the most dynamic and competitive knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion and respect for the environment by 2010".

The economic crisis does admittedly carry a threat that "Lisbon" should be exchanged for "Washington": would nuclear power be of help when the credit crunch emanating from the United States is plunging Europe into recession?

The new champions of nuclear power include Britain, Italy, Poland, and Estonia. Sweden no longer rejects the idea with main force, and a similar decision is now expected in Belgium.

Austria remains the strongest critic of nuclear power within the EU fold. The German line will be determined by the results of this autumn's elections.

The Union's energy ministers will be congregating in Brussels on Thursday of this week.

The agenda is also to include talk about nuclear energy.

The ministers are expected to draw a line that nuclear power is one resource among others when the EU tries to improve its energy security. It doesn't sound like much.
But in fact it is quite a lot.

Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 17.2.2009

The writer is the Helsingin Sanomat correspondent in Brussels.

Continuing the theme of Wind VS Nuclear

Yesterday I was checking some articles on energy, and came across a peculiar one in the New American, that compared the human casualties caused by nuclear power and wind power. The author stresses that there has been no fatalities during the entire history of nuclear power in America (Chernobyl is a different case - but still, it was not an ordinary reactor found everywhere in the world). To compare with wind... Let me quote it here.

There is an organization, the Caithness Windfarm Information Forum, that keeps data on wind power-elated accidents and/or design problems. Caithness is based in Great Britain, where homeowners have already grown tired of the noise and other wind turbine generated problems. Their "Summary of Wind Turbine Accident Data to 31 December 2008" reports 41 worker fatalities. Most, not unexpectedly, were from falling as they are typically working on turbines some thirty stories above the ground. In addition, Caithness attributed the deaths of 16 members of the public to wind-turbine accidents.

A summary of accidents includes:

• 139 incidents of blade failure. Failed blades have been known to travel over a quarter mile, and that is from turbines much smaller than those being manufactured today. This type of accident has caused some European countries to require a minimum distance of about one mile (2 km) between occupied housing and wind turbines.

•110 incidents of fire. When a wind turbine fire occurs, the local fire departments (without 30-story ladder trucks) can do little but watch. This isn't a problem unless the wind is blowing sufficiently to scatter the debris into dry fields or woodlands — or maybe onto your roof.

• 60 incidents of structural failure. This includes turbine failure and tower collapse failures. While not now a problem for the public — except having to gaze upon at a bent-over wind turbine — it may well become one as governments, under pressure from environmental activists, encourage marginal- and hastily-sited wind projects in urban areas where such an accident could kill and maim.

• 24 incidents of "ice throw" with human injury. These data may be a small fraction of actual incidences, with 880 icing events reported in a 13-year period for Germany alone.

Whole article can be found here.

This type of information is rarely published by advocates of wind. Figures speak for themselves.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Saturday morning article. Nuclear VS wind power in Sweden

Recently we discussed Sweden's turn to nuclear power - decision to build new reactors after the old ones a phased outs, which we nuclear bloggers and many other reasonable people around the world saw as a wise and rational step for Sweden on path to its energy security.

However, living in Swedish province and reading local papers, one can notice that the Swedes themselves are far from accepting nuclear as a sourse of energy. Yesterday, for example I got fresh ETC Örebro, a paper where anyone can express opinion, that is considered "alternative". And there I found a whole bunch of articles where various private people advocate wind power, expressing an open anti-nuclear attitude. Even blaming the state and big companies for disregarding wind as an option, polluting our green Sweden with nuclear waste that we do not know what to do with, and other arguments like that.

I live in Sweden for more then 4 years now in total, and I'm not surprized to hear this. Swedes, once they believed in one propaganda, do not change their mind easily. They will debate and prove in front of everyone that this is what they think (just because someone managed to put it into their minds on an axyomatic level).

"Environmentalists" can be proud with their PR results in this country - more then the USSR can be proud of communism propaganda. People in Sweden are even less free to choose their opinion - they cannot doubt things that seem fundamental for them at a certain time.

"We mind our environment, and this is why we will never let dirty nuclear power plants to be built in this country." That's the basic statement I hear. Then, when I ask "WHY?", a surprized pause follows, and they continue remembering Chernobyl (which they know surprizingly little about), TMI, consequences of uranium mining etc. - a complete antinuclear PR pack at the most primitive level. This is what you hear from the man in Sweden in street. Once you say you are pronuclear, you feel like "people's enemy". Because you are an outsider - "not like us".

I desided to do a small calculation. One average large wind power device produces about 68 000 kWt per year (at wind speed not below 8 m per second). This is about 7.76 kWt per hour. Then I went to Ignalina NPP website that has good statistics on hourly output. Ignalina-2 only RBMK-1500 (izwini, Aladar, for using just this reactor - I just had quick access to these figures :=))) for 14.02.2009 produces 1326,55 MWt per hour. This is correspondent to an hourly output of about 1 500 wind agregates (Up to 1 MWt, at wind speed 8m/s, on condition that the wind is constantly blowing). Spectacular, huh?

No doubt, wind agregate could be a solution for a small farm in a windy place on some island like Gotland where it always blows, at least 3m/s. Especially if that farm is far away from any other electricity connection. Sweden has a lot of scattered places like that, especially in the upper North. But once there is a need of supplying industry - like the one Sweden has - and coping with a growing demand for electricity in cities, a safe modern nuclear plant is certainly a better and more reliable solution.

Or, maybe, Swedes would like to be the first to fulfill the Obama-like plan and go over to renewables completely by 2015? This country is already loosing a lot of jobs. Life here is hell expensive compared even to countries like Germany, I am not talking about Ukraine and ex-USSR which I am more familiar with. Business is moving away. Domestic population is ageing and dying out, while more "fruitful", active and believing Iraqis, Iranians and Somalis are replacing them.

IMHO Swedish society needs a challenge to wake up from being naive children, looking at the world through pink eyeglasses. Energy challenge is already there. But these people also need to learn how to survive without the caring state that thinks for them, pays their bills and tells them what to do. These people need to come out of their greenhouse.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

$50 billion increase in US DOE Loan Guarantee funds cut from final US Stimulus package

The US House-Senate conference committee axed a proposal to include $50 billion in federal loan guarantees that could have been utilized by the nuclear and coal industries as well as for renewable energy projects.

This increase would have expanded the current DE loan guarantee program funding of $18.5 billion and allowed more new nuclear power plants to obtain critical US government loan guarantees.

Called Title 17, the Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program, the provision would have put aside $50 billion to guarantee loans under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 for eligible projects, to remain available until committed.

See complete article at: 'Nuclear Pork' Cut Out of Final Recovery and Reinvestment Package

Investors interested in building new nuclear reactors in Bulgaria - minister

There is private investor interest in building units 7 and 8 of the Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant, Economy and Energy Minister Peter [Petur] Dimitrov said Wednesday [ 11 February] in a discussion of Bulgaria's Energy Strategy by 2020.
In 2007 Bulgaria exported and transitted 4,500 million kWh and 2,800 million kWh of electricity, respectively, Dimitrov said. The network capacity is for about 9,000 million kWh, he specified.
"If units 7 and 8 are built, we hope to transit at least 18,000 million kWh in 2030; the export capacity may increase up to 33,000 million kWh," the minister further observed. By then the capacity of the electricity transiting network is expected to equal some 15,000 million kWh, so efforts should be made for its extension.
There is considerable shortage of electricity in Turkey, Croatia, and Macedonia, Dimitrov also said.
The economy and energy minister also said that the state would not allocate funds for this project and it should fully rely on private capital. Some of the biggest companies in nuclear power engineering were allegedly showing interest in the project.

(Source: EnergyCentral)

China Pushes Major Energy Projects Despite Economic Downturn


Posted on Feb. 10, 2009

By Lee Geng

Although the rest of the world is slowing down, China is increasing its investments in major energy projects. During a speech last week at a national energy conference in Beijing, vice premier Li Keqiang told attendees that the spending will occur in the gas, electric power, coal, oil refining and petrochemical sectors. In additon, Li called for increased investments in renewable projects such as hydropower, wind and solar power.

The energy conference marks the first time in 17 years that China has convened a national meeting on energy. The conference underscores the importance that China’s leadership is placing on energy, and it is occurring at the same time that demand is slowing. Since October, China's power generation has declined for three consecutive months, indicating a slowdown in industrial activities nationwide as export demand has plummeted. Last year, China’s coal consumption growth rate fell by 1.6 percent and power demand was down by 9.57 percent. Crude oil consumption fell by 2 percent compared to 2007 levels.

Although energy growth has slowed, “we can’t stop building energy projects because of that,” said Zhang Guobao, head of the National Energy Administration. Zhang told conference attendees that over the long run, China’s energy demand will grow. Although the global financial crisis has slowed the need for energy, it has not changed the fundamentals of China’s economic development, as the country is still in the process of urbanization and industrialization.

Zhang also called on China to take advantage of the current demand contraction to adjust the energy structure by closing small coal-fired power plants in favor of larger ones. He also wants renewed emphasis on nuclear power. China currently operates 11 nuclear reactors with a combined capacity of about 9 gigawatts, which supply about 1 percent of the country's electricity. By 2020, the country hopes to have as much as 70 GW of nuclear capacity. Zhang said that China will begin building nuclear power plants with a total capacity of 8.4 GW in 2009, part of a plan to invest some $84.8 billion in the power industry. The nuclear plants to be built will be located in Zhejiang, Shandong and Guangdong provinces. China will use third-generation nuclear power technologies, such as the AP1000 developed by the United States-based Westinghouse Electric Co, industry officials said.

On the wind power front, Zhang said that over the next decade, China will build several wind farms with capacity of over 10 GW in Gansu, Inner Mongolia, Hebei and Jiangsu provinces. China has repeatedly raised the target for wind power, with the latest adjustment calling for boosting the capacity to 100 GW, up from the earlier target of 30 GW.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Russian firm may sign nuclear fuel deal with India

Russian nuclear fuel producer TVEL expects to sign a $780 million contract for fuel supplies to Indian nuclear power plants, a spokesman for Russia’s state nuclear power corporation Rosatom has said.

The contract, if signed, could make Russia the first country to supply nuclear fuel to India since the Nuclear Suppliers Group lifted a three-decade ban on nuclear fuel sales to the country on Sept 6, 2008.

“The contract is likely to be signed on February 11 in Mumbai,” the spokesman said Saturday.

Under the deal, Russia would supply 2,000 tonnes of uranium pellets to India.

In December, the French company Areva and India’s Atomic Energy Department signed a deal for the supply of 300 tonnes of uranium to be used in Indian nuclear reactors under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.

The fuel contract would be another step in burgeoning nuclear cooperation between Russia and India.

On Dec 5, Moscow and Delhi signed an agreement to build an additional four reactors for the Kudankulam nuclear power plant, where it is finishing two reactors under an earlier contract, and construct new nuclear plants in India.

TVEL is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of nuclear fuel, which it supplies to 73 commercial (17 percent of global market) and 30 research reactors in 13 countries.

(Source: SindhToday.net)

Sweden: Nuclear power plant staff happy

The new agreement in the coalition government to open up for more nuclear power in Sweden is good news for the power plant staff.

One of the plants is in Forsmark, a small village on the coast only 150 km north of Stockholm.

One of the emplyees, Linda Bergman is happy:

- I think the new agreement is good. It provides us with at least some belief in the future and it is good also to show that all kind of energy sources are needed, she says to Swedish Public television SVT.

Also Lennart Hallin, who is working there is positive:

- It is really nice to hear. We see this as a sign that there is a future for all people who work here and that we can still get educated people to move here from different parts of Sweden. This is good, Hallin says to SVT.

It has been discussed before to add a new reactor to the nuclear plant. This is probably not probable even after the new agreement.

The spokesman for Forsmark, Claes-Inge Andersson, says to SVT that if new reactors are to be built, it will have to belong to the new generation. Therefore it is not probable that it will be placed there.

The existing reactors in Forsmark´s power plant has around 20 years left.

Source: Stockholm News

Vattenfall Welcomes Swedish Government's Decision on Energy Policy

Swedish power utility Vattenfall has welcomed the Swedish government's proposed agreement on energy policy, saying that Sweden needs a long-term, widely supported energy policy that incorporates responsibility for climate change issues.
Lars Josefsson, Vattenfall's CEO, said: "It is good that the energy policy is becoming more focused on achieving clear targets and more neutral about the technology required to do so. Vattenfall will contribute to realizing the ambitious targets for climate policy and renewable energy production, which are in line with Vattenfall's strategy.
"Vattenfall is investing billions of Swedish kronor in wind power and other renewable energy sources, and we welcome the fact that the processing of permits for building wind power units is being speeded up. This makes it easier for us to carry out our plan of building units providing 8TWh of wind power in Sweden by 2016."
Vattenfall's CEO has also said that the company is interested in building new nuclear power plants, provided that there is demand for this and it is profitable. He said that the company is also investing in maintaining and modernizing existing plants, and they are expected to continue to be competitive in the future.

(Source: Energy Central)

Friday, February 6, 2009

PBMR nuclear firm eyes US, Canada


In the wake of Eskom's decision to abandon a plan to build a second nuclear plant.

06 February 2009 11:28

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South African nuclear technology firm PBMR hopes to tap the U.S. and Canadian markets in the wake of Eskom's decision to abandon a plan to build a second nuclear plant, a senior company official said.

Development of the company's Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) technology for power plants, scheduled for commercial use by 2014, has been hit by the global financial crisis and funding problems at South African state-owned power utility Eskom , its major shareholder.

The Industrial Development Corporation, a South African state-owned finance institution, and U.S-based Westinghouse, which is majority owned by Japan's Toshiba Corp., also have stakes.

Eskom is struggling to fund a 343 billion rand plan to build new power plants and ramp up its power capacity. Power shortages have forced it to cut supply to industry, including mining firms, and residents.

"The global financial crisis and related impact on funding ... has prompted the PBMR company to consider near-term market opportunities based on customer requirements to service both the electricity and process heat markets," Jaco Kriek, PBMR's chief executive, said late on Thursday night.

Kriek said the U.S. Department of Energy, which is funding development of new nuclear plants, companies active in Canada's oil sands development and South African petrochemical group Sasol, were among those targeted by the company.

PBMR technology could be used to produce enough heat and pressure to extract bitumen from oil sands or enough steam or hydrogen to refine coal products, he said.

The company is considered to be among the world leaders in the development of nuclear reactors that use radioactive material sealed in small pebbles.

Designers of the technology say it is safer than conventional reactors and will improve efficiency, although some environmentalists dispute it.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sweden scraps ban on nuclear power with plan to replace 10 reactors


Centre-right government wants to build new generation of power stations to help cut carbon emissions
Adam Vaughan
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 5 February 2009 12.10 GMT
Article history
The Swedish government plans to reverse a nearly 30-year-old ban on building nuclear power plants, giving the green light to a new generation of reactors.

The centre-right government wants the new reactors to be built to replace the country's 10 existing stations.

The decision reverses a 1980 referendum when the majority of voters backed an end to nuclear expansion and the government pledged to phase out nuclear power plants.

But public support has grown since nuclear power has been repositioned as a low carbon energy source and a weapon in the fight against climate change. The decision by Sweden to back nuclear power contrasts with the nation's careful cultivation of its green image. In 2006, Sweden pledged to replace the use of all fossil fuels by 2020, but nuclear was not part of that plan.

Finland is currently the only country in the EU building a nuclear reactor. Its new Olkiluoto plant is being built in partnership with a consortium led by France's state-owned energy company, Areva. The project has been beset by delays and cost overuns, however, and is unlikely to be completed until 2012, three years behind schedule.

In the UK Gordon Brown's government is enthusiastic about building a new generation of reactors, arguing that both tackling global warming and ensuring security of energy supply are critical. German power giants E.ON and RWE are jointly bidding to build three stations, while EDF's takeover of British Energy has paved the way for it to construct a fleet of new atomic stations in the UK.

Areva makes nuclear deal with Delhi


PARIS: French nuclear giant Areva signed a preliminary deal on Wednesday to provide India with up to six new-generation nuclear reactors, expanding the list of countries that are adopting the technology in response to skyrocketing energy demand.

The Paris-based company says the deal signed with Indian electric utility Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) will pave the way for technical co-operation on at least two and as many as six of Areva's so-called EPRs, or Evolutionary Power Reactors, at the Jaitapur site in the western state of Maharashtra. India has refused to sign non-proliferation agreements and had faced a nuclear trade ban since its first atomic test in 1974.

In September, the countries that supply nuclear technologies agreed to lift the ban, paving the way for lucrative contracts with India.

Areva's statement didn't provide the estimated value of the deal.

Areva will supply two European Pressurised Reactors of 1650 MW each for nuclear plants the French company will build at Jaitapur in the western state of Maharashtra.

The Memorandum of Understanding for building nuclear plants was signed by SK Jain, chairman and managing director Nuclear Power Corporation of India and Anne Lauvergeon, CEO of Areva.

"This is just the beginning," said Anil Kakodkar, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission who was present at the signing ceremony along with Prithviraj Chavan, Minister of State in the PMO and Anne-Marie Idrac, French Minister for Foreign Trade.

Lauvergeon said the Areva was committed to supply fuel for the lifetime of the reactors, which she pegged at about 60 years.

She said Areva will meet the fuel requirements through its uranium mines located in various countries, including Australia, Kazakhstan and Niger. Though the MoU provides for supply of two nuclear reactors, the order may be stepped up to six at a later date.

All the reactors will be located in a nuclear park Areva has been tasked to develop at Jaitapur.

The cost of one EPR has been estimated at between 5.2 and $7.8 billion, although final costs are subject to negotiation.

The signing of the MoU signals end of India's nuclear isolation and its emergence as a responsible nuclear state, Chavan said.

He said the MoU will pave way for technology collaboration in the nuclear sector and India seeks to enhance significantly its electricity generation capacity.

"We need to quadruple power generation as the nation would require about 63 Giga Watt electricity by 2032," Chavan said.

NPCIL, which currently operates 17 nuclear power reactors with a 4120 MW capacity, hopes to step up atomic power generation to 20,000 MW by 2020.

Currently, EPR-type of reactors are under construction in Finland, China and France.

In December, India signed a contract with Areva for importing 300 tonnes of natural uranium. This is the first commercial agreement for supply of nuclear reactors after India got the historic waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to participate in global nuclear commerce in September last year.

Since then, India has signed inter-governmental civil nuclear co-operation agreements with France, Russia, the US and Kazakhstan.

Once the India-specific safeguards agreement with the IAEA, signed in Vienna on Tuesday, is ratified, nuclear fuel supplied by Areva will be used in Rajasthan Atomic Power Station units, two of which are already under safeguards for the last three decades.

The nuclear trade embargo was enforced on India after it conducted nuclear tests in 1974.

The Areva-designed pressurised water reactors, which are meant to replace aging reactors around the world whose designs date from decades ago, are already under construction in Finland, France and China.

Areva also has plans to build the new reactors in Britain and the United States, company spokeswoman Patricia Marie said.

NPCIL already has five reactors under construction, which will increase its electricity generating capacity by 2,660 megawatts, from 4,120 megawatts currently.

It operates all of India's 17 existing nuclear reactors.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Lithuania: What will happen after Ignalina is closed

A plan announced by the future head of Energy ministry of Lithuania to the Baltic Course:
After the decommissioning of the Ignalina power plant at the end of this year, according to the future minister, a part of the needed electricity will be compensated by Elektrenai, cheap electricity will be imported from Russia and a part of electricity will be bought on free market. However, the electricity produced by Lietuvos Elektrine will cost more than in the neighboring countries, because the generators of Elektrenai are non-efficient. The efficiency would become evident only in 2012-2013, when an up-to-date block is built.

Once again - no new Ignalina in plans. Lithuania seems to rely on new plants that are about to appear around in Russian and Belarus in nearest future.
THe end of the most "nuclear" country in the world.

There might be no new power plant in Lithuania - future energy minister said

This article, when I read it, was actually nothing unexpected. It just took some time till the Lithuanian officials admitted - there will be no new plant. For various reasons, both political en economic, the new station which was so much discussed recently, might never appear. While Russia is about to erect a station in Kaliningrad, so will Belarus, close to Lithuanian border. There will be a replacement - but not in Lithuania.

It reminds me of a classic Russian fable by Krylov about swan, crayfish and pike who tried to pull a cart together, but the problem was that they could not agree on the direction to pull... "The cart is still there". A plant in Lithuania was planned to be shared by 4 countries (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland). Finally, they all end up going their own way - Poland and Estonia wish to build own plants, and the new-Ignalina project slowly becomes a myth.

Future Energy Minister Arvydas Sekmokas doubts the erection of a new nuclear power plant. At the conference "Extreme Lithuanian Energy Status", he admitted that the new nuclear power plant seemed unreal. The future minister is concerned not only about reaching the agreement with Estonia, Latvia and Poland. According to him, the current energy situation in Lithuania is not satisfactory.

"I am not convinced that the nuclear power plant could be built. According to the documents that I have seen, an idyllic work of four countries appears to be the smallest problem," Sekmokas told.

Sekmokas stated that the previous Government did not taken any actions because it anticipated the upcoming energy crisis in Lithuania, though the gas terminal and the electricity link with Sweden was necessary to avoid the lack of energy in Lithuania, writes ELTA.

"Latvia blocks the wish of Lithuania to build electricity grid interconnection with Sweden and the construction of gas terminal is late for two years. In the best case, the terminal will be built only after 2012," the future energy minister feared. Zigmas Vaisvila, signatory of the Independence Act, told after the conference seeing no other option than to resume negotiating the extension of the operation of the Ignalina nuclear power plant.

"Today it has become clear once and again that Lithuania has no alternative after the decommissioning of the Ignalina nuclear power plant at the end of 2009. I think that the European Commission must consider the negative situation in Lithuania and make correct conclusions," Vaisvila said.

Source: The Baltic Course

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

UPDATE: Siemens, Russia To Discuss Nuclear Power Cooperation


FRANKFURT -(Dow Jones)- German industrial conglomerate Siemens AG (SI) Tuesday said it has been invited by Rosatom, Russia's state nuclear firm, for talks over possible cooperation.

The news follows the announcement by Siemens that it will exit a nuclear power joint venture it has with French partner Areva SA (CEI.FR))

The invitation was announced during a meeting in Russia between Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Siemens' Chief Executive Peter Loescher.

"We are ready to move from realizing piecemeal projects to the creation of a full-scale partnership between Siemens and (Russia's state nuclear firm) Rosatom," Putin told Siemens chief executive Peter Loescher in Moscow, the Interfax news agency reported, according to news agency Agence France Press.

Putin and Loescher meeting in Moscow coincided with a Siemens board meeting there.

Last month Siemens said it will leave Areva NP, its joint venture with Areva SA, which was founded in 2001 and in which the German company had a 34% stake. Siemens said it was leaving due its lack of entrepreneurial influence in the venture, which is set to unwind by the end of January 2012 at latest. The French state has a majority stake Areva SA.

Nuclear power is viewed as a growth market for Siemens. The German group said that by 2030 there will be an estimated 400 new nuclear power plants around the globe, representing a total investment of approximately EUR1,000 billion.

Siemens is meanwhile working to improve it ties with Russia. In December, the group said it plans to create a joint venture with Russian Railways to produce locomotives.

"We've been doing business in Russia for more than 150 years and have built outstanding and successful partnerships here which we would like to further intensify," Loescher said Tuesday, according to a statement.

Siemens shares closes Tuesday at EUR43.72, up 1% in a higher overall market.

Company Web site: http://www.siemens.com

-By Archibald Preuschat, Dow Jones Newswires, +49 69 297 25 505, archibald.preuschat@dowjones.com

Monday, February 2, 2009

A new book on Chernobyl

Here is a link to a new book which I think could be worth reading for anyone who is interested to know more about Chernobyl and facts around it.

My Chernobyl: What’s Wrong with Nuclear Power and How to Fix It

Recently I got an email from the author linking to this new book, and a comment that it's a call for all remaining RBMK shutdown.

The author, Aladar Stolmar, now also has a blog http://aladar-mychernobyl.blogspot.com, with an exiting profile:

Aladar Stolmar is one of the first Hungarian nuclear engineers educated in Moscow, USSR. During the Paks Nuclear Power Plant design and equipment supply contract negotiations, he, along with Soviet partners, developed the revised—and applied to new Soviet-built VVER nuclear power plants—safety standards corresponding to the international nuclear power plant safety standards. In conection to this effort, he participated in a failed attempt—never before published—to apply the same standards to the Chernobyl-type nuclear power plants with RBMK reactors in the Soviet Union. In 1985, when the Hungarian court proceedings related to Nuclear Power Plant Paks were declared secret, he emigrated to the United States. Aladar participated in the U.S. Department of Energy’s effort to force the Soviet Union to report—for the first time in its history reporting about an internal event—to the international community about the Chernobyl disaster. This book is his personal account of the technical issues he dealt with and the historical events he has been part of.

No doubt, a person with a life experience like this has a lot to tell... impatiently expecting this book by post, I ordered it this weekend, and it takes about 3 weeks for it to "fly" over the ocean :) Will come back with comments as soon as I get a chance to see the text.