Forum on Energy
Forum on Energy
November 25, 2015
World leaders gathering at COP21 must recognize the imminent threat of climate change and use every tool at their disposal- especially nuclear energy- to change course, while facilitating global energy access parity.
The Earth Slowly Burns - Americas
November 26, 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.
Businessmen handshake - United States and South Korea
November 11, 2015
The Obama Administration recently announced plans to improve the nuclear energy market in the United States.
November 6, 2015
A new article published on Real Clear Energy effectively assesses the dramatic shift in the geopolitics of nuclear energy.
Russian Federation and China Flags in puzzle
October 21, 2015
An at-a-glance summary of Hiromichi Nakahar's recent address to the U.S.-Japan Roundtable.
Nakahara japan map
October 16, 2015
METI’s Director of the Office for International Nuclear Energy Cooperation on Japan's energy policy.
September 28, 2015
It has rapidly become apparent that the Clean Power Plan will not in any way ease the fiscal plight of existing nuclear capacity.
Courtesy: Third Way
October 7, 2015
First-hand insight on decommissioning, the impact of the Clean Power Plan and global challenges and opportunities.
Dyan Foss
October 5, 2015
Recent months have seen a wealth of nuclear developments related to Kazakhstan, bringing to the forefront a country often overlooked.
Kazakh sourced uranium
November 26, 2015

Businessmen handshake - United States and South KoreaThe 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

New US-South Korea Nuclear Treaty Comes into Effect
The new 123 agreement was reached in April but came into effect on Wednesday, replacing the previous accord from 1972. Most significantly, it opens up the possibility of South Korea gaining the ability to enrich uranium to produce non-weapons-grade fuel, pending future negotiations with the US. Though it does not grant South Korea the right to reprocess, the new treaty establishes a high-level committee to further discuss the issue.
Source: The New York Times

US Operators Seek to Extend NPP Operations to 80 Years
Led by Dominion Resources Inc., US operators are on track to become the first in the world to seek operational extensions for nuclear power plants to 80 years. Most US plants have already received 20-year extensions past the initial 40-year lifespan, and the prospect of an additional 20 years is causing significant debate. Dominion plans to request an extension for its Surry plant in Virginia, though a decision from the NRC is not expected before the early 2020s.
Source: Bloomberg

Japan Regulator Approves Full Reactor Licenses
The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has approved full 40 year licenses for three reactors. Sendai 2 is already online. The other two reactors approved- Takahama 3 and 4- are expected to be restarted in December of this year and early 2016 respectively, and to operate through 2025.
Source: World Nuclear News

Russia Resumes Nuclear Technology Exports to Iran
President Putin signed a decree on Monday establishing Russia’s reengagement with the Iranian civil nuclear sector, following the adoption last month of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to lift economic sanctions against Iran. Specifically, the decree outlines that Russia may modify two cascades at the Fordow uranium enrichment plant, support Iran’s export of surplus enriched uranium, and upgrade the Arak heavy water reactor.
Source: World Nuclear News

Australia, UAE Sign Nuclear Cooperation Agreement
Australia has agreed to supply the United Arab Emirates with uranium for use in its nuclear power program. This comes closely on the heels of last week’s announcement that Australia and India reached a similar accord. Both agreements reportedly set out strict conditions for the peaceful use, protection, and security of the Australian uranium.
Source: World Nuclear News

November 25, 2015

The Earth Slowly Burns - AmericasIn less than one week, on November 30, approximately 147 heads of state from across the globe will arrive in Paris, France, for a critical meeting commonly known as COP21. COP21 is an abbreviation for the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

This pivotal meeting has been more than 20 years in the making. The UNFCCC was officially adopted at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, and the first COP was held in Berlin in 1995. Today, 196 parties are members of the UNFCCC, and seek to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the threat of climate change.

Challenges Facing COP21

The threat of climate change looms larger than ever. Reports indicating that anthropogenic climate change is escalating have been emerging with increasing regularity. The World Meteorological Organization reports that this year is set to be the hottest ever registered, with climate change making the 2011-2015 period the warmest five years on record. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) asserts that an increasing number of extreme weather events can be directly attributed to climate change. Furthermore, global data released by NOAA and NASA indicate that Earth is already nearly halfway to two degrees of warming, which is the level widely considered the “controllable” amount of climate change.

In fact, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), continuation of current carbon emissions trends puts the world on track towards six degrees of warming, while already-ambitious measures may limit temperatures to a four-degree increase. If either of these scenarios is realized, they are predicted to have catastrophic consequences.

Grim projections such as these place a heavy burden of responsibility on the shoulders of leaders set to meet at COP21, which is undoubtedly felt by all in attendance. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has asserted, “This has to be a success,” though significant barriers to compromise still stand.

One of the greatest obstacles facing consensus is the continued global disparity between countries with developed energy sectors and those still emerging. Historically, countries relied heavily on fossil fuels to support the transition to a modern economy; states still approaching this process do not want to be unfairly punished for the previous emissions of that transitioned in decades past. Yet with the climate crisis an increasingly urgent threat, emerging markets must find alternative mechanisms to expand electricity access.

Although the UNFCCC has established the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), incentivizing developed (Annex 1) countries to fund clean energy projects in developing (Annex 2) countries, the potential of nuclear energy can no longer be ignored. From the virtually nonexistent carbon emitted by a nuclear power plant to the massive volume of power that can be generated by a single installation, nuclear energy is the singular source of clean energy that can support the global economy and meet the demands of a world facing a climate crisis.

The Potential of Nuclear Power

The lifespan of a nuclear power plant is, on average, between 30 to 40 years. During that lifetime, electricity generation produces virtually zero carbon emissions. In fact, in 2014, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found the emissions of nuclear to be comparable to wind, solar, geothermal and hydroelectric generation, traditionally recognized as the “clean” power sources.

On top of its ability to emit zero greenhouse gases, nuclear power plants are several times more efficient than their renewables counterparts. For example, in one year, just one 1154-Megawatt nuclear power plant generates the same amount of clean electricity as 2,077 2-Megawatt wind generators. Even more significant, nuclear power serves as a baseload source of power generation, operating regardless of weather conditions, and fully dispatchable to match demand. This stands in stark contrast to the variable nature of wind and solar power, which- until significant progress is made in battery storage capacity- are unable to serve as the baseload backbone of an electricity grid.

In short, when executed properly, with abundant safety mechanisms, nuclear energy can turn the tide in the effort to address climate change. Indeed, France exemplifies the results nuclear power can achieve. In the 1970s and 1980s, France embraced nuclear energy and as a result, lowered its greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 2 percent per year. To this day, it operates a fully stable grid 76% reliant on nuclear power, even serving as a net exporter to the rest of the EU.

The Solution for Climate Change and Global Energy Equity

On November 6, the White House hosted a Summit on Nuclear Energy. President and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute, Marvin Fertel, expressed that, “This event reflects recognition of the indispensable- and larger- role that nuclear energy must play in any successful effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the electric sector,” also marking the fortuitous timing as the Administration “embarks upon the next round of emissions reduction negotiations during the international climate change talks in Paris…”

World leaders gathering at COP21 must recognize the imminent threat of climate change and use every tool at their disposal- especially nuclear energy- to change course, while facilitating global energy access parity. Thorough integration of and continued innovation in nuclear energy is the only way we can achieve both. 

November 19, 2015

foe_image_nov19The 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 2 Enters Commercial Operation
Kyushu Electric Power Co. brought Sendai No. 2 to full-scale commercial operations on November 17, following the successful restart of Sendai No. 1 in September. Reactor No. 2 reached full capacity on November 1, and has been operating smoothly. The two Sendai reactors have become the first nuclear plants to contribute electricity to the Japanese grid in nearly two years.
Source: The Japan Times

Rokkasho Delayed Once Again
Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd., the operator of the reprocessing plant, has announced it is postponing the opening of the plant until as late as September 2018. The plant was previously slated to open as early as March 2016 following technical difficulties, but this new delay is being attributed to the lengthy inspection procedures of the regulators and the time needed for safety upgrades. Rokkasho is an ongoing source of controversy due to the proliferation possibilities posed by the plutonium byproduct.
Source: The New York TimesWorld Nuclear News

Positive Reviews Following Inspection of Japan Plant
Overseas experts of the Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee inspected the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, and emerged with a positive report on safety progress at the site. The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant has become safer in terms of physical hardware, and employees are also improving their emergency-response skills, the experts found. After outlining specific improvements, the head of the committee stated, “I think from the community perspective, they should have high confidence that proper physical protections have now been taken.”
Source: The Japan Times

China, Argentina Sign Nuclear Deal
China has reached an agreement to build a nuclear reactor in Argentina, a deal which would generate nearly $4.7 billion in equipment exports. China National Nuclear Corp. signed a commercial contract to build a heavy-water reactor, which will be Argentina’s fourth nuclear power plant. A tentative agreement has also been announced to develop a second reactor based on Chinese technology.
Source: The Wall Street Journal

November 12, 2015

iStock_000022757629_FullThe 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.

U.S.-China cooperation agreement renewed
The U.S.-China nuclear cooperation agreement, which allows nuclear trade and materials transfer between the two countries, was renewed in April by President Obama and the US Congress and entered into force this week. The agreement replaces a previous version which had been due to expire at the end of the year. Its renewal means that projects such as Westinghouse’s AP1000 reactor exports, which use many US-based suppliers, as well as U.S.-Chinese nuclear collaborations can continue unimpeded.
Source: World Nuclear News

Major disaster drills finish at Ikata nuclear plant in Ehime
Residents of Ikata in the Ehime Prefecture in the southwest of Japan were evacuated to nearby coastal Oita Prefecture as part of a drill to educate residents on procedures in the event of a nuclear disaster. The drill assumed a scenario where the plant lost reactor cooling capability after a major earthquake. The Shikoku Electric Power Company’s No. 3 reactor there is likely to be restarted next spring, but concerns about the safety of evacuation routes have been growing among the residents opposed to the restart.
Source: Japan Times

Feds tap Idaho National Lab in push for advanced reactors
Acting Assistant Secretary for the Office of Nuclear Energy John Kotek announced that the US Department of Energy has chosen Idaho National Laboratory to host the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear, called GAIN. GAIN will serve as a point of connection for innovators and entrepreneurs in private industry and public institutions building new or advanced nuclear reactor designs.
Source: Idaho State Journal

Kazakhstan signs agreements with France and Japan
Kazakhstan’s National Atomic Company Kazatomprom and Electricite de France (EDF) signed a contract to supply uranium from a period from 2021 to 2025, according to Nuclear Engineering International. The contract, which is subject to Euratom Supply Agency approval, continues the 10-year relationship between the two companies. Last month, Kazatomprom signed a trilateral agreement with Japan Atomic Power Co (JAPC) and Marubeni Utility Services, Ltd for cooperation “in the field of nuclear power, including consultation, exchange in public relations experience, technical seminars and experts meeting on safety ensuring, as well as training and advanced training of nuclear specialists.”
Source: NEI Magazine

U.S.-Japan Bilateral Commission on Civil Nuclear Cooperation
The U.S.-Japan Bilateral Commission on Civil Nuclear Cooperation (the Bilateral Commission) met for the fourth time in Washington, D.C.. U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall and Japan’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Shinsuke Sugiyama led the meeting, which addressed activities related to the safe and secure use of civil nuclear energy, advancing shared goals in the field of global nuclear nonproliferation and the response to the accident at the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.
Source: San Diego Newscape

November 11, 2015

iStock_000011464877_LargeAs Forum on Energy recently covered, the nuclear energy market is not only shifting, it is poised to potentially leave the United States in the dust. Fears of this possibility have risen since the finalization of the Clean Power Plan, as its quantification of nuclear energy’s contribution may exacerbate financial challenges of the industry and threaten premature shutdowns.

The U.S. government has recently announced plans to do something about this threat.

The Obama Administration capitalized on the November 6 Summit on Nuclear Energy at the White House by promising supplementation of the $12.5 billion available for loan guarantees to benefit nuclear plants. This money is historically available for construction of advanced nuclear reactors and small modular reactors (SMRs), along with uprates and upgrades at existing facilities. This new supplementation specifies that any cost incurred by an eligible project as part of the NRC licensing process may also be eligible for funding.

The Department of Energy, in conjunction with the Idaho National Laboratory, also launched a new initiative at the summit, which opens the U.S. nuclear industry to a new generation of interconnection. The Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) will provide the nuclear energy community with a one-stop-shop for relevant capabilities and expertise across the entirety of DOE. The platform intends to facilitate access to technical, regulatory, and financial support necessary to promote the commercialization of advanced nuclear reactor designs. For registered industry members, GAIN provides access to the new Nuclear Energy Infrastructure Database (NEID), cataloguing the existing nuclear energy infrastructure that can be accessed through GAIN.

Through GAIN, DOE seems to make a legitimate effort to streamline the industry and ease access to information for stakeholders. Much more must be done, however, to address the “flawed” market in which nuclear disproportionately struggles. Nonetheless, between the launch of the sleek new GAIN website, the announcement of broader qualifications for DOE-guaranteed loans, and the announcement of new initiatives to foster SMRs and light water reactors (LWRs), this was a promising weekend for the US nuclear industry.

Its timing was particularly fortuitous. With the start of COP21 in Paris mere weeks away, putting the nuclear energy agenda on the table at this critical moment is a hopeful indication of the degree to which nuclear will be regarded during the talks. Not only does the US need to reassess its nuclear energy strategy to combat international competition, the global market must reassess its nuclear energy strategy to combat climate change.

November 6, 2015

Russian Federation and China Flags in puzzleIn his October address of the U.S.-Japan Roundtable, Mr. Nakahara, Director of the Office for International Nuclear Energy Cooperation at METI, presented the argument that the global nuclear market is shifting dramatically. He called to attention the increased role that China and Russia are taking in the sphere, and expressed concern that the nuclear world has paid too little attention to the potential implications of such developments.

A new in-depth piece published on Real Clear Energy effectively unpacks this situation, as author William Tucker analyzes this dramatic shift in the geopolitics of nuclear energy. He assesses the situation in three simple steps.

First, Tucker presents the growing influence of China in Western nuclear projects, from Bill Gates’ Traveling Wave Reactor project incubator in China, to China’s recent purchase of 33% of the Hinkley Point nuclear power project in the UK. Although such a power dynamic would have been unthinkable through much of history, Tucker asserts, “The Western countries- particularly the United States- have virtually abandoned nuclear development and turned the job over to the rest of the world.” Given these developments, writes Tucker, it should be unsurprising that China is suddenly asserting itself and taking the reins of nuclear innovation.

From here, Tucker presents a new piece of the geopolitical puzzle. For as much attention as China is garnering, he argues that China will not be able to oust Russia in terms of emerging nuclear market influence. Rosatom- the state-owned nuclear entity of Russia- has consistently pursued ambitious sales of nuclear technology in developing economies, capitalizing on traditional nuclear powers’ torpor in the wake of Fukushima. Tucker asserts that international nuclear facilitation has become a key tool in Russia’s foreign policy agenda, helping secure relationships in key countries where the government perceives military or diplomatic interest.

Finally, Tucker expounds on the implications of these shifts on Western nuclear interests, particularly the United States. Ultimately, the perseverance demonstrated by China and Russia in recent years despite nuclear controversy affords them the upper hand in the next generation of reactors. Though the dragon and the bear may clash while pursuing international interests, there is little doubt that the few projects underway in the US will soon pale in comparison to China and Russia’s on-the-ground experience and deployment.

In this concise article, the geopolitical shifts of the nuclear market are clearly laid out. Until very recently, Russia and China largely executed these power plays under the radar, but their influence is becoming increasingly apparent. Forum on Energy anticipates attentively monitoring the long-term impact of these shifts in the nuclear market.

Read the full article here

November 5, 2015

EIA projections

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.

US Nuclear Capacity to Increase by 2020
The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has released projections indicating that US nuclear capacity is set to increase over the next five years, in spite of recent closures. Despite the scheduled closure of approximately 2,000 MW of generating capacity by 2019, scheduled additions of more than 5,000 MW capacity between 2016-2020 could result in a net increase in total US nuclear capacity. This capacity will come from five new reactors currently under construction in Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina.
Source: EIA

Japan Releases Report on Fukushima Water Contamination
Japan distributed the report to all missions in Japan, including embassies, consular posts, and international organizations. The report presents the results of groundwater and sea water monitoring analyses since the drainage system came online in September. Measurements were taken by TEPCO, with detailed analysis conducted by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA). All results have confirmed that the radiation level of sampled water has been “substantially below the operational targets set by TEPCO,” which are already very low compared to legal discharge limits.
Source: IAEA

Japan Regulator Recommends Finding Alternative to Run Fast-Breeder Reactor
The head of the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), Shunichi Tanaka, has urged the government to find a different body to operate the Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor. Monju is currently operated by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA), but has been beset with issues since its original startup in the 1990s. The NRA will formally adopt this recommendation to the science minister in charge of Monju next week, and recommends the government reach a conclusion in about six months. Fast-breeder reactors are designed to produce more nuclear fuel than they consume, but are often plagued with technical difficulties, which has caused many countries to abandon such projects.
Source: Reuters

Iran Nuclear Chief Meets With Abe
Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Chief Ali Akbar Salehi met with Japanese PM Shinzo Abe in Tokyo. Salehi expressed his appreciation for Japan’s support during the recent nuclear negotiations, and emphasized the continued cooperation between his country and the IAEA. “The IAEA will announce its evaluation of Iran’s peaceful nuclear program by December 15, and we predict that the Implementation Day would be in late December,” he stated. Salehi also welcomed Japan’s continued assistance in implementing its plan to ensure nuclear safety per the accord.
Source: Tasnim News Agency

GE Hitachi Nuclear Names New CEO
In the power shift following General Electric’s $10.6 billion purchase of Alstom’s power generation business, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy has named Jay Wileman as CEO. Wileman was previously the Senior Vice President and COO of GE Hitachi, and will now head the company’s global nuclear business.
Source: Nuclear Street


October 29, 2015

Ho Chi Minh CityThe 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.

Westinghouse Buys CB&I Nuclear
Westinghouse Electric Co., a unit of Toshiba, is slated to pay $229 million to buy the nuclear construction division of Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. CB&I is historically the sole direct competitor of Westinghouse for building the latter’s nuclear reactor designs. According to the chief executive of the unit, “Westinghouse is now in charge of everything.” This deal also entails utilities paying approximately $900 million to settle claims, in order to facilitate Westinghouse’s completion of four ongoing construction projects in Georgia and South Carolina.
Source: Wall Street JournalFuelFix

GE Hitachi Signs Nuclear MOU with Vietnam
A memorandum of understanding was signed in Hanoi between GE Hitachi (GEH) and the Vietnam Atomic Energy Agency (VAEA), to help Vietnam enhance its understanding of light water reactor technology and nuclear project management. GEH is expected to provide practical experience for the VAEA in areas such as nuclear safety culture, project management, and quality assurance. This is the fourth MOU signed by GEH in Vietnam since September 2014, as the country plans to build more than 10,000 MWe of nuclear capacity by 2030, with construction on its first nuclear plant slated to begin in 2019.
Source: World Nuclear News

Earthquake Risk Analysis Shows US Nuclear Plants Safe
According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), nuclear power plants in the US are safe to continue operating, but in-depth analysis is needed where appropriate. The NRC requested the review following the Fukushima disaster in 2011, and these results mean the commission and the industry at large can better focus on contingencies for specific plants possibly at risk for seismic activity.
Source: Reuters

Japan to Aid Kazakhstan Nuclear Development
PM Shinzo Abe has just completed a tour of five Central Asian countries, where Japan intends to boost its presence, and where Abe sees economic potential worth more than ¥3 trillion in infrastructure and other projects. Following meetings with President Nazarbayev, Japan agreed to step up cooperation in bringing nuclear power to Kazakhstan.
Source: The Japan Times


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