Report sizes up nuclear new-build financing from five top exporters

August 31, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

As energy security and environmental concerns prompt some countries to increase their reliance on nuclear energy or become first-time adopters of the technology, the U.S. government must decide whether it will offer financing for reactor exports—a move that poses financial risks but could create jobs, address global climate and energy security challenges, and limit Chinese and Russian influence. A new report released on August 25 by the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, Comparing Government Financing of Reactor Exports: Considerations for U.S. Policy Makers, digs into the history of nuclear reactor financing and delivers recommendations for U.S. policymakers.

Matt Bowen, research scholar at the center and the report’s lead author, told Nuclear News, “Given how important financing is to countries considering new reactor construction, as well as the competition that U.S. vendors face from foreign state-owned entities, Congress and the White House should both focus attention on the issue, including policy options to increase U.S. competitiveness.”

Taishan-1 EPR resumes operation a year after shutting down over reactor damage fears

August 25, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
The Taishan nuclear power plant in China. (Photo: CGN)

China’s Taishan-1, which was shut down last summer due to damaged fuel rods, resumed operations on August 15.

The plant briefly made headlines last summer—as much for the damage inside the reactor as for the media fallout. In June 2020, plant operators found damage to the cladding on about five of the 60,000 fuel rods in Taishan-1, one of the plant’s two 1,660-MW EPRs. What happened next seemed like a bad game of “telephone.”

Candu Energy performing pre-project work for Qinshan refurbishment

August 5, 2022, 12:10PMNuclear News
The CANDU reactors at Qinshan. (Photo: Wikimedia/Atomic Energy of Canada Limited)

SNC-Lavalin subsidiary Candu Energy recently announced that it is engaged in pre-project design and engineering work at the Qinshan Phase III nuclear power station in China’s Zhejiang Province with Third Qinshan Nuclear Power Company (TQNPC), the plant’s operator.

China’s prototype technology described as step toward energy independence

June 20, 2022, 9:27AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Roadmap for the China Initiative Accelerator-Driven System project development. (Image: Zhijun Wang/CAS)

Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Modern Physics are making strides with their China Initiative Accelerator-Driven System (CiADS) technology, which is being developed to get more life out of used nuclear fuel. Defense One, an online news source that focuses on “the future of U.S. defense and national security,” describes the prototype system as a step in moving China toward energy independence and advancing that nation’s “global leadership in climate-friendly technology.”

Nuclear economics in a changed world

May 11, 2022, 9:30AMANS NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy
cpiercy@ans.org

Laurence J. Peter, author of The Peter Principle, said, “An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn’t happen today.” By that definition, I guess we are all economists now.

As I write this column, it’s still too early to know exactly how the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the world’s response to it, will shape the long-term economics of energy production, and specifically the economics of nuclear energy. But we can make a few logical guesses.

First, I think we will see a stronger security “overlay” to every energy policy decision we make in the next few years. Energy security is a potent motivator. France’s decision to go nuclear wasn’t a decarbonization play; it was a direct result of the Arab oil embargo of 1973, when most of its electricity was generated by oil-fired power plants.

Looking back at 2021—Nuclear News July through September

January 7, 2022, 2:24PMNuclear News

This is the fourth of five articles to be posted today to look back at the top news stories of 2021 for the nuclear community. The full article, "Looking back at 2021,"was published in the January 2022 issue of Nuclear News.

Quite a year was 2021. In the following stories, we have compiled what we feel are the past year’s top news stories from the July-September time frame—please enjoy this recap from a busy year in the nuclear community.

NRC suspends authority to ship heavy water to China

October 4, 2021, 6:59AMNuclear News

Citing national security interests, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued an order suspending the general license authority to export radioactive material and deuterium to China General Nuclear (CGN) and its subsidiaries or related entities.

The NRC licensees subject to the order had been authorized to ship radioactive materials and heavy water to China through a general license granted in sections 110.21 through 110.24 of 10 CFR Part 110. Notice of the order was published in the October 1 Federal Register.

The VTR is “crucial” for U.S. national security, Atlantic Council leaders contend

August 4, 2021, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Mies

Graham

An article written by national security experts Thomas Graham Jr. and Richard W. Mies, published online in The National Interest on August 3, argues that a recent move by the House Appropriations Committee to zero out the budget for the Versatile Test Reactor “has grave ramifications for U.S. national security and the fight against climate change.” Funding and building the VTR would present an opportunity for the United States to regain its leadership role in nuclear reactor designs and fuel, Graham and Mies assert.

Former ambassador Graham is chairman of the board of Lightbridge Corporation and former general counsel and acting director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. Retired admiral Mies served as the fourth commander in chief of U.S. Strategic Command. Graham and Mies serve as cochairs of the Atlantic Council’s Nuclear Energy and National Security Coalition. Select excerpts from their article are provided here.

China moves closer to completion of world’s first thorium reactor

July 22, 2021, 6:58AMANS Nuclear Cafe
China’s molten salt loop experiment. (Photo: Thorium Energy World)

China is moving ahead with the development of an experimental reactor that would be the first of its kind in the world and “could prove key to the pursuit of clean and safe nuclear power,” according to an article in New Atlas.

American Nuclear Society Cautions Congress Against China Ban

July 1, 2021, 9:07AMPress Releases

LaGrange Park, IL – The American Nuclear Society (ANS) urges Congress to oppose any amendment to H.R. 3524 – Ensuring American Global Leadership and Engagement Act – that bans U.S.-China nuclear energy cooperation. The House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) is slated to markup H.R. 3524 on June 30.

U.K. and Chinese national fusion programs can take the heat

June 3, 2021, 7:02AMNuclear News
Plasma in MAST. (Photo: UKAEA/EUROfusion)

As governments around the world cooperate on the ITER tokamak and, in parallel, race each other and private companies to develop commercial fusion power concepts, it seems that “game-changing” developments are proclaimed almost weekly. Recently, the United Kingdom and China announced new fusion program results.

Biden administration preparing to invest in infrastructure

March 23, 2021, 7:05AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The New York Times has reported on a set of massive spending proposals under President Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda that is adding up to $3 trillion aimed at boosting the economy and combating climate change. The proposals are expected to be presented to Congress in three parts instead of as one massive bill. Details still need to be worked out and the proposals remains in flux, according to the Times.

The Economist: Independent regulators needed for strong nuclear power

March 8, 2021, 9:28AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Nuclear power is an important component in the fight against climate change, but independent regulation is needed to gain the public’s---and governments'---trust, according to a March 6 article in The Economist, “Nuclear power must be well regulated, not ditched.”

The article reviews the negative effect that the Fukushima Daiichi accident had on the worldwide nuclear industry following the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. Japan’s direct economic cost, estimated at more than $200 billion, was larger than that of any other natural disaster the world has seen, according to the article.

China on course to lead in nuclear by 2030, says IEA

March 4, 2021, 3:18PMNuclear News

China will have the world's largest nuclear power fleet within a decade, an International Energy Agency official noted during a session at the High-Level Workshop on Nuclear Power in Clean Energy Transitions, World Nuclear News reported on March 3.

The workshop was held jointly by the IEA and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The IEA official, Brent Wanner, head of Power Sector Modelling & Analysis for the agency's World Energy Outlook publication, said that as nuclear fleets in the United States, Canada, and Japan reach their original design lifetimes, decisions will have to be made about what will happen after that. Absent license renewals, the contribution of nuclear power could decline substantially in those countries while China’s reactor building program will boost it into the first position.

The role of digital insight in a safer nuclear industry

February 2, 2021, 9:45AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The impact of COVID-19 has placed a sharp focus on not only the importance of keeping key personnel safe but also how to better manage risk with fewer resources on site, writes Ola Bäckström, a product manager for risk at Lloyd’s Register, for Power magazine.

One unexpected result is the acceleration of interest in digitization initiatives. Ten years of digital innovation since the Fukushima accident in March 2011 have brought new ways of modeling and managing risk, and new solutions have been brought to market that are allowing for the safe operation of nuclear power plants.

The digitalization of plant designs is one area of risk assessment that can now be completed automatically. The latest technologies consider more than just schematics and equations, much to the benefit of this new era of nuclear. For instance, digital data combined with international best practices, site-specific data, and an engineer’s own experience can provide a deeper level of insight and analysis than ever before—and faster. Bäckström adds that not just new projects but aging assets can also benefit from digitalization. As more data are input, risk managers can run more accurate simulations and better model existing plants.

GlobalData: China to pass U.S. nuclear capacity in six years

September 10, 2020, 5:03PMNuclear News

China is on track to overtake the United States in nuclear power capacity by 2026, according to GlobalData, a U.K.-based research and analytics company.

More than 160 GW of nuclear capacity will likely be added globally between 2020 and 2030, some 66 percent of which is anticipated to take place in China, India, and Russia, the company reported on September 9. China alone is set to account for more than 50 percent (83 GW) of the new capacity, followed by India with 8.9 percent (14.5 GW) and Russia with 6.4 percent (10.5 GW). GlobalData also projects that during the same period, more than 76 GW of nuclear capacity will be retired.

Hot thermal tests completed at Fuqing-­5

March 17, 2020, 11:07AMNuclear News

According to a statement from the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), a key hot performance test was conducted on Unit 5 of the Fuqing nuclear power plant in Fuzhou, in East China’s Fujian Province, on March 2. The CNNC said it is the world’s first nuclear power project using Hualong One technology, also known as HPR 1000, a third-­generation reactor design developed by China. A total of five nuclear power units adopting HPR 1000 technology are under construction by CNNC in China and other countries.

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Looking Back: A Brief History of CONTE

January 2, 2019, 2:37AMANS Nuclear CafeDr. Jane LeClair

The accident that occurred at Three Mile Island on March 28, 1979, brought about many changes to the nuclear industry. Among the changes was the industry stopping to reflect on current procedures and the training of its employees. Exhorted by the findings of the Kemeny Commission and sponsored by the Department of Energy, industry leaders and training personnel began meeting on improvements to training at the Gatlinburg Conference in the early 1980's.