Posts Tagged Toshiba

Nuclear companies collaborate for progress

Posted by Suzanna Hinson on March 29th, 2017

Toshiba may still be struggling with financial difficulties but other nuclear developers are pushing ahead with progress. This month GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) and Advanced Reactor Concepts LLC (ARC) have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on progress a joint SMR design.

Both GE Hitachi and ARC have extensive experience with advanced nuclear, specifically sodium-cooled fast reactors. Both of their reactor designs are based on the same prototype, the EBR-II at Argonne National Laboratory Idaho, which ran successfully for more than 30 years. Despite the similarity between their reactors, they have been designed for very different purposes. The ARC-100 is for efficient and flexible electricity generation, while operating for up to 20 years without the need for refuelling. On the other hand, PRISM has primarily been focused on closing the fuel cycle by using spent fuel and other “waste” and therefore is designed to refuel every 12 to 24 months.

Their collaboration will initially be aimed for deployment in Canada. The companies will pursue a preliminary regulatory review through Canada’s Vendor Design Review process, building on earlier technology licensing success in the USA. Sodium cooled reactors are one of the most advanced technologies so most likely to be able to replace the current, ageing, outdated fleet of reactors.

Open letter to Greg Clark on Moorside

Posted by Suzanna Hinson on February 17th, 2017

Dear Greg,

I wrote an open letter to you last July regarding the Hinkley decision, published on Weinberg Next Nuclear’s website http://www.the-weinberg-foundation.org/2016/07/29/open-letter-to-greg-clark-on-hinkley/. As I said in that letter, the government should “highlight and welcome the Office for Nuclear Regulation’s plan to deliver decisions on the Generic Design Assessments for Wylfa and Moorside in 2017”. Now, with Toshiba’s withdrawal making Moorside’s future insecure, the government should step in to ensure that the project continues.

Priority 7 in your Industrial Strategy Green Paper correctly identifies the advantages of nuclear, with  “a commitment to develop a strong UK supply chain to support the sector”. This ambition to make the UK a leader in the nuclear sector will be significantly compromised if the pipeline of projects loses Moorside.

UK energy security will also be compromised.  With Brexit putting the costs of imports into question, and the decline of North Sea production meaning that the UK will rely increasingly on these imports, becoming more self-sufficient in energy must be a priority. The ageing nuclear power plants will soon be decommissioned, and with the coal phase out by 2025, a gap is imminent. Nuclear power is an essential technology to contributing to filling this gap, providing the UK with secure power that is also low carbon.

Finding other companies to step in and replace Toshiba will be challenging. The UK government should therefore fund the construction of the plant itself. The Institute for Public Policy Research think tank calculates that, for a nuclear construction program of 14.2GW (as recommended by National Grid in 2014 as part of scenarios for meeting UK and European legal targets on low-carbon energy), public provision of capital during the construction phase could save consumers £1.2–1.8 billion between 2015 and 2035, by socialising policy risks and therefore reducing financing costs. If public ownership continued during the operational phase, but private companies ran each nuclear plant, this could produce additional savings for the consumer of £2.5–3.7 billion over the period. (http://www.ippr.org/publications/when-the-levy-breaks-energy-bills-green-levies-and-a-fairer-low-carbon-transition)

Nuclear provides high-skilled jobs across the supply chain, from research to operation, often in old industrial areas. It also supplies low carbon, secure power. Government support for Moorside would help put an industrial strategy into action. Hinkley was an inherited project for the current government: Moorside is an opportunity to finance new nuclear in a more efficient way.

Best wishes

Stephen

Nuclear progress to start the year

Posted by Suzanna Hinson on January 4th, 2017

As 2017 begins, financial pressures on companies such as Toshiba are casting doubt on some nuclear plans in the UK and USA, but elsewhere there have been significant and positive developments.

In Pakistan, on the 28th of December, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif inaugurated unit 3 of the Chasma nuclear plant. After 5 years of construction, the Chinese CNP-300 pressurised water reactor went critical in October and was quickly connected to the grid. Pakistan now has three nuclear reactors and is planning on opening a fourth CNP-300 unit this year. The prime minister has said the country is committed to achieving 8800MW of nuclear power capacity by 2030.

South Africa plans to build plants with a capacity of 9,600MW and on the 20th of December the country’s energy company Eskom put the plan into motion. As part of the tender for the new plants they released a request for information about “experience related to recent nuclear project capacities and costs, proposed financing solutions and localisation opportunities”. The tender process will progress throughout 2017 with the aim of having the first new reactor connected by 2026.

Zambia also has plans to add to Africa’s nuclear capacity. On 7th December the government signed agreements with Russia’s Rosatom to build the countries first nuclear power plants. Zambia aims to have a nuclear plant built within 15 years, to provide at least 2GW of electricity as well as have uses for cancer treatment and irradiation of food.

Increasing numbers of countries are recognising the benefits of nuclear power. Whilst there are challenges involved, and ongoing delays to progress in some areas, 2017 should see more reactors come online, more plans finalised and more money invested in research. Too much development is still overly focused on old technology. If these emerging nuclear supporters want the best from the technology, they should pursue advanced nuclear.

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