Forum on Energy
Forum on Energy
July 30, 2015
The Forum on Energy weekly news roundup brings together a mix of global energy stories from around the web. It is published every Thursday morning on Forum on Energy and is available on Twitter via @forumonenergy.
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July 28, 2015
A new research series from the Hoover Institution is outlining the present and possible future of nuclear energy.
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July 9, 2015
Japan passed an important milestone on Tuesday. Kyushu Electric Power Co. has started reloading fuel into the No. 1 reactor at Sendai.
Scott Campbell, President of the Howard Baker Forum, addresses the 2014 U.S.-Japan Roundtable Annual Conference
July 8, 2015
A new report and infographic detail the advanced nuclear industry, which is currently under-recognized in the U.S.energy sector as other renewables gain notoriety for innovation.
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June 15, 2015
NuScale Power is developing a safer, smaller, scalable version of pressurized water reactor technology.
Cross-sectional view of Reactor Building
July 30, 2015

foe_newsroundup_blueThe Forum on Energy weekly news roundup brings together a mix of global energy stories from around the web. It is published every Thursday morning on Forum on Energy and is available on Twitter via @forumonenergy.

Removal of Cover Over Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 Begins
Tepco announced that it had removed the first of six roof panels from the temporary cover, using a remote-controlled crane. The cover was installed in October 2011 to inhibit the dispersal of radioactive materials, and must now be dismantled to enable the removal of rubble in preparation for the removal of fuel from the used fuel pool. The removal of the cover is slated to be completed by the end of next year.
Source: World Nuclear News

EDF Agrees to Take Majority Stake in Areva Reactor Business
EDF and Areva signed an MOU on Wednesday providing for EDF to take at least 51% in Areva NP, which is responsible for equipment and fuel manufacturing, as well as reactor services. There is still space, however, for other potential minority partners, as Areva has agreed to hold a stake of no more than 25%. This partnership and all it implies should help the endeavors of the life extension program for the existing French fleet, as well as marketing and management of future reactors.
Source: World Nuclear NewsBloomberg

Ex-Im Bank Not Renewed           
Congress will adjourn without renewing the Export-Import Bank of the United States, leaving it in limbo until at least September. This came as a bit of a surprise, as bipartisan endorsements over the weekend had bolstered hopes for renewal. Though members from both political parties predict the Bank will ultimately be renewed, the foreseeable future of the project is bleak.
Source: NEI

Japan’s Energy Future Includes High-Tech Coal
Japan’s recently-published 2030 energy goals establish expectations for coal to constitute approximately 25% of Japanese electricity generation, while also aiming to reduce emissions 26%. For this to be possible, “every single one of the new coal-fired power plants has to have technology that reduces emissions.” Though this technology exists with a few options, this increased efficiency is also significantly more expensive, with integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) plants costing more than ¥545.2 billion.
Source: Bloomberg

U.S. Lab to Support the Licensing and Transport of Spent Nuclear Fuel
Oak Ridge National Laboratory, with the support of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, has developed the Cyclic Integrated Reversible-bending Fatigue Tester (CIRFT). This technology will help facilitate cask designs and transportation protocols to ensure safe fuel transportation, by reducing incidents of anomalous behavior during the standard agitation of shipping, such as a break in a fuel rod due to vibrations or jolts.
Source: ORNL

Japan Approves Increase in Fukushima Compensation
The government approved an increase in compensation payments to ¥7.07 trillion ($57.18 billion). Tens of thousands of evacuees remain in temporary housing. Tepco will receive ¥950 billion more in public funds, which it requested, and will add to the bill for taxpayers.
Source: Hurriyet Daily News

July 28, 2015

Recently, Forum on Energy has shared a few podcasts via Twitter. This innovative approach to spreading information about the future of nuclear energy has been undertaken by the Hoover Institution, a think tank and research institution based out of Stanford University.

The Hoover Institution focuses on a wide range of issues, from energy to U.S. politics to health care. Earlier in July, the Shultz-Stephenson Energy Task Force launched a new research series titled “Reinventing Nuclear Power.” To date, the series consists of two essays and three podcasts; this variety of media diversifies the opportunities for engagement in an exciting way, broadening the potential audience to learn about important, pressing issues facing nuclear energy.

The focus of this series is particularly salient to the issues that Forum on Energy has been examining, especially with its emphasis on SMRs. Through its research, the goals of this nuclear energy series are threefold: to identify obstacles facing national energy policies; to specify potential roles for government, military, and the private sector; and to propose solutions to move forward.

The essays expound on the necessity of technology such as SMRs for the global energy future, in as short a timeframe as possible, calling industry and government to action to develop this promising technology. It also provides a thorough overview and assessment of potential hurdles, putting forward the existing regulatory and policy issues in the space.

With two options for engagement with this series, the research of the Schultz-Stephenson Energy Task Force is a valuable addition to the conversation, and well worth exploring.

Access the full series here.

July 23, 2015

foe_newsroundup_blueThe Forum on Energy weekly news roundup brings together a mix of global energy stories from around the web. It is published every Thursday morning on Forum on Energy and is available on Twitter via @forumonenergy.

France Set to Reduce Nuclear Dependency
French lawmakers have adopted an energy law intended to reduce reliance on nuclear reactors and nearly quadruple carbon prices, reducing fossil fuel consumption as well. The legislation is intended to fulfill a pledge three years ago by Pres. Hollande to cut nuclear in favor of renewables, and stipulates that nuclear should be reduced from nearly 75% to  50% of all power output by approximately 2025. The French goal for renewables is 32% by 2030, and they have pledged to lower carbon emissions by 40% by 2030 (compared to 1990).
Source: Bloomberg

Japan Announces Nuclear Role in GHG Reduction
Japan has submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), declaring a goal of 26% cut in greenhouse gas emissions – equivalent to about 1.042 billion tons of CO2 – by 2030. The government states that this goal is in line with the energy mix plan that has been publicized recently, in which nuclear energy is slated to play a significant role, since approximately 90% of Japan’s GHG emissions currently stem from energy-originated CO2.
Source: World Nuclear News

French Fusion Project Falling Behind; China’s Surging Ahead
The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is an experimental fusion nuclear fusion project being built in France through collaboration between many partners, including the U.S., China and the EU. Though experts are confident it will ultimately reach its goal of producing self-sustaining fusion reactions, it is falling behind schedule and running over budget, making it unlikely to produce more energy than it consumes until the early 2030s. In a controversial move, China has begun investing heavily in the China Fusion Engineering Test Reactor, which will be bigger than ITER and may be finished by 2030.
Source: New Scientist 

Japanese Nuclear Plant Passes IAEA Inspection
The Japanese government’s requested the IAEA inspection of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant lasted 14 days and was conducted by the IAEA Operational Safety Review Team (OSART), which is comprised of experts from eight countries. The inspection focused on areas such as leadership and training, operations, radiation protection, and technical support; OSART commended some practices of the plant, such as controlling combustible material and preparing staff for emergency situations, and made recommendations for improvement of others.
Source: Energy Live News

July 17, 2015

foe_newsroundup_blueThe Forum on Energy weekly news roundup brings together a mix of global energy stories from around the web. It is published every Thursday morning on Forum on Energy and is available on Twitter via @forumonenergy.

Japan Confirms Nuclear Energy Future
The Japanese government has approved the program proposed in April that will guide its energy portfolio for the next 15 years. Renewables such as solar and hydro are set to generate up to 24% and nuclear up to 22% of Japanese electricity by 2030. The plan is the result of months of debate by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration, as it seeks to balance demands for lower GHG emissions, concerns over nuclear safety and the need for affordable power.
Source: Bloomberg

Ikata Nuclear Plant Passes First Regulatory Hurdle
The NRA has given Shikoku Electric Power Company permission to make changes to the reactor installation of unit 3 of Ikata nuclear power plant in Ehime prefecture. This marks the first of three regulatory approvals that must be met to reopen the plant, for which Shikoku applied in July 2013. This first approval – which comes after extensive document assessment, 74 review meetings and on-site safety investigations – indicates that the NRA considers the reactor to be safe for operation. The next step will be a review of the design and construction of the reactor and operational safety programs.
Source: World Nuclear News

Sellafield Nuclear Power Plant Moving Forward
The site of the £10 billion Sellafield plant in Cumbria, Britain has been confirmed. The plant will ultimately consist of three nuclear reactors on land purchased by venture group Nugen, and the plant’s construction will contribute up to 21,000 jobs. The three reactors will have a combined output of 3.4 GW, which is nearly 7% of the UK’s total electricity needs. Construction is slated to start in 2017, with the reactors coming online in 2024, 2025 and 2026; this progress is hailed by the UK Energy Minister, among others, as a significant development in a clean and secure energy future.
Source: Mirror

NRA Criticizes Safety Culture After Documents Falsified
The Japanese nuclear regulator has criticized the safety culture of nuclear in Japan, as it has come to light that Chugoku Electric Power Co Inc. falsified documents that indicated a safety inspection of low-level nuclear waste handling equipment was carried out, when no such inspection had occurred. The NRA, established in 2012, continues to push operators to improve safety and personnel culture in the Japanese nuclear industry, to benefit the industry and country moving forward.
Source: Economic Times

July 9, 2015

foe_newsroundup_blueThe Forum on Energy weekly news roundup brings together a mix of global energy stories from around the web. It is published every Thursday morning on Forum on Energy and is available on Twitter via @forumonenergy.

Sendai Inspections Complete, Fuel Reloading Begins
Kyushu Electric Power has announced that the pre-service inspections of Sendai Nuclear Power Unit No. 1 are complete. Subsequently, the process of reloading fuel into the reactor begins on July 7, marking a monumental step in the Japanese reentry into nuclear. 157 fuel rod bundles will be loaded into the reactor over a four-day period, meaning the operator is on track to restart the plant mid-August.
Source: ReutersKyushu Electric Power Co., Inc.

Russia Completes Design for Fukushima Tritium Removal
Atomproekt has completed the design and working documents for a demonstration unit, which they expect to begin constructing early next year. The unit is designed to separate tritium from contaminated water at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, and if the demonstration unit is successful, the full-scale facility could decontaminate 400 cubic meters of water per day. This would be a significant development, as the current decontamination equipment at Fukushima can remove about 62 nuclides from the water, but not tritium; METI states it has yet to decide whether to introduce tritium removal facilities at the plant.
Source: World Nuclear News

South Africa and Russia Sign MOUs on Nuclear Power Cooperation
During a BRICS meeting this week, Rosatom and South Africa’s department of energy signed two memoranda of understanding on nuclear power cooperation. South Africa is pursuing the deal as an attempt to lessen its reliance on coal and overcome power shortages that have challenged the economic growth of Africa’s most advanced economy. The MOUs call for education and encouragement of “public acceptance of nuclear power”, and training programs for specialists in South Africa’s nuclear industry.
Source: Reuters

First Fukushima Evacuation Order to be Fully Lifted
The Japanese government has announced that the evacuation order removing residents from the town of Nahara will be completely lifted as of September 5, 2015. At that time, some 7,401 residents from 2,704 households will be allowed to return home unconditionally, though it is not clear how many will choose to do so amid lingering radioactivity and infrastructure concerns. Temporary returns over the past few months, in addition to extensive radioactive cleanup efforts, have enabled progress toward a return to normalcy for the region.
Source: The Telegraph

July 9, 2015
Scott Campbell, President of the Howard Baker Forum, addresses the 2014 U.S.-Japan Roundtable Annual Conference

Scott Campbell, President of the Howard Baker Forum, addresses the 2014 U.S.-Japan Roundtable Annual Conference

In case any of our readership missed it, Japan passed an important milestone on Tuesday. Kyushu Electric Power Co. has started reloading fuel into the No. 1 reactor at Sendai nuclear power plant, a process that will take four days of careful operation.

This is a momentous development.

It is never easy to reengage with nuclear power after an accident, especially one of the magnitude of Fukushima. Safety and integrity of an operation must always be ensured, and public concerns addressed thoroughly, especially those not easily overcome in a population so directly affected by tragedy.

The progress at Sendai verifies, however, that this reentry into the nuclear sphere is in fact happening. The Japanese government and utilities have taken the utmost care getting to this point, evidenced by the numerous levels of inspections conducted in the intervening years. 

This shift will happen. Loading the fuel into reactor No. 1 corroborates that the plant is indeed on track to reopen in August. Now is the time to recognize and embrace this reality. Japan’s progress on this front could not be of any greater importance right now.

Evidence is growing that the threats of climate change are even more dire than previously realized, and other renewables simply will not reach the necessary levels of innovation and base load capacity in time. Nuclear energy is vital to any scenario with hope of climate change mitigation, and Japan should be lauded for its continued dedication to developing its nuclear future and playing a role in the global energy sector.

I know the restart process  has been extremely difficult and time-consuming but it has also been careful, deliberate, and inclusive– the right process for a country coping with the national disasters of  March 11, 2011. We should recognize the importance of this milestone and expect further progress. 

July 8, 2015

On July 4, the Forum on Energy shared an exciting and informative graphic on Twitter. This comprehensive map of the emerging nuclear technologies of North America was developed by Third Way, a think tank based in Washington, D.C.

Third Way is engaged in issues ranging from education to energy and climate change. Recently, they published a report on the advanced nuclear industry in North America, from which the map was pulled

The report introduces the advanced nuclear industry, which is currently under-recognized in the American energy sector as other renewables gain notoriety for innovation. Advanced nuclear reactors are, however, the “next step” beyond even small modular reactors (SMRs), and therefore on the cutting edge of technological innovation, with very exciting prospects for their future impact on the nuclear energy renaissance.

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In its report, Third Way effectively compiles and presents a comprehensive picture of the advanced nuclear industry with the geographic representation and a comprehensive list of active companies in the space and the reactor type under development. This piece highlights the vitally important and rapidly developing subset of the nuclear industry, and offers four significant takeaways that effectively summarize the findings of their research:

  1. Research in this space is geographically dispersed across North America, rather than concentrated in one regional cluster.
  2. The companies Third Way presents as involved in the advanced nuclear industry widely vary in size and structure, diversifying the sector.
  3. A main focus of many advanced nuclear designs is on alternative coolants, developing models that rely on liquid metal, high temperature gases, and molten salt.
  4. A significant amount of R&D is currently dedicated to refining fusion technologies, moving toward the possibility of commercialization.

Read the full report here.

July 2, 2015

foe_newsroundup_blueThe Forum on Energy weekly news roundup brings together a mix of global energy stories from around the web. It is published every Thursday morning on Forum on Energy and is available on Twitter via @forumonenergy.

Tennessee Nuclear Plant First to Meet Post-Fukushima Upgrade Requirements
The Watts Bar Nuclear Plant has become the first in the U.S. to gain regulatory approval for meeting new equipment and safety standards, after the safety systems, emergency pumping equipment and preventative maintenance programs were all updated. This marks a major achievement in the Tennessee Valley Authority’s process to gain license approval for a second reactor at the facility, which would become the first new nuclear unit added to the American grid in nearly 20 years.
Source: Times Free Press

Scorpion-Style Robot to Enter Fukushima Reactor
Toshiba Corp. and the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning have unveiled a new robot that will be dispatched into Fukushima’s No. 2 reactor in August. The new design can withstand up to 10 hours of work in an area of extreme radiation – hopefully mitigating radiation-caused malfunctions that have plagued the robots sent into the No. 1 reactor – and can curve its back up like a scorpion in order to shed light on its surroundings.
Source: Wall Street Journal 

Washington State Senate Passes SMR Bill
A bill passed by the Washington State Senate would require the Department of Commerce to coordinate and advance the manufacturing of small modular reactors to make sure that Washington is on the leading edge of what could be a new production field, while also promoting a clean energy education program to include nuclear. The state senate bill had bipartisan support, as well as that of the governor, so even if it does not pass the House, it will be brought back to the floor in the future.
Source: Tri-City Herald 

New CEO of NuGen Exemplifies Global Nuclear Learning
Speaking at the New Nuclear Build 2015 conference in London on Tuesday, NuGen CEO Tom Samson outlined the status of the new reactors planned for construction at Moorside in Cumbria, UK. He builds largely upon his experience as COO of Enec, which created an owner-operator for the UAE’s first nuclear power plant. This, in conjunction with the expertise of partners Westinghouse and Tractebel, is regarded as the laudable new state of nuclear, with information and best-practices flowing freely to develop the industry.
Source: World Nuclear News 

Explore an interactive map on nuclear energy opportunities and challenges across the globe.