Forum on Energy
Forum on Energy
August 27, 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.
August 26, 2015
On August 3, the White House and the Environmental Protection Agency released the final version of the Clean Power Plan.
August 11, 2015
Japan officially reentered the nuclear energy sphere this morning when officials extracted control rods at Sendai Nuclear Power Unit No. 1.
August 3, 2015
President Obama and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy have officially released the new Clean Power Plan.
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 sector as other renewables gain notoriety for innovation.
August 27, 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.

Kyushu Electric Power Identifies, Plugs Sendai Leak
The operator had previously postponed full reactor operations as it identified the leak, which was occurring in the cooling system as pipes carried seawater to cool steam. Ultimately, five pipes with small cracks were identified and plugged, along with 64 further pipes as a precautionary measure. Following the procedure, the plant is expected to resume its ramp-up.
Source: Kyushu Electric Power Co.The Asahi Shimbun

Nuclear Loses Out in PJM Capacity Auction
Three Exelon units failed to clear PJM’s capacity auction, meaning that they will not receive capacity revenue, though they will still be able to sell power into the market. The price competition field is changing as more renewables and natural gas plants come online. One of the reactors, Oyster Creek, is already scheduled for early closure in 2019, and Exelon has expressed consideration of closing further non-profitable nuclear units, putting reactors such as Byron, Clinton and Quad Cities at risk.
Source: World Nuclear News

METI Considers New Subsidies for Communities Near Decommissioned Reactors
¥4.5 billion of the government’s fiscal 2016 budget will be sought to provide financial assistance to communities facing reductions in existing subsidies following the decommissioning of nuclear reactors, according to METI. Following the announcement in April of five reactors to be decommissioned, subsidy reductions for communities surrounding these plants are looming, but the National Governors Association is calling for the continued provision of support to host local communities until the dismantling is complete.
Source: The Japan Times

IAEA and Kazakhstan Agree to Create Nuclear Fuel Bank
The establishment of a low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel ‘bank’ has been agreed upon by the IAEA and the government of Kazakhstan, to be located in Oskemen, Kazakhstan. The LEU bank will serve as a supplier of last resort for IAEA Member States in case they cannot obtain LEU on the global commercial market. This is also touted as an important step to promote non-proliferation efforts, dissuading countries from building enrichment facilities. The facility is expected to launch operations in 2017, and the first ten years of operations will be financed by voluntary contributions from the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the USA, the EU, the UAE, Kuwait, Norway and Kazakhstan. 
Source: World Nuclear News

August 26, 2015

iStock_000017116815SmallOn August 3, the White House and the Environmental Protection Agency released the final version of the Clean Power Plan, a regulation establishing the framework for the future of the U.S. energy sector. The Plan focuses on energy efficiency and carbon pollution reduction, aiming to set the United States on track to play its part in the international effort to mitigate climate change by 2030, while allowing states some flexibility in determining how they reach these goals.

In the nuclear industry, however, reception of the Plan has been mixed. On one hand, the Nuclear Energy Institute expressed appreciation for the fact that plants under construction will count toward compliance once they are operational. In earlier drafts, the EPA had counted in-progress plants as part of the emissions baseline for the states in which they are located, indicating that the states would not receive credit for the carbon-free power they will provide once online. This misrepresentation has been corrected in the final Plan, and states will be able to count these new plants as part of their strategy for achieving their emissions-reduction goals.

Furthermore, the industry is optimistic about the pricing future of advanced nuclear technologies such as SMRs, especially in conjunction with renewable technology. Ideally, advanced nuclear will be able to provide new base load capacity in the future under the CPP. A particularly promising prospect is the dispatch of highly-responsive SMRs to load-follow large-scale wind farms, ensuring reliable, carbon-free matching of electricity demand. With the “best system of emission reduction” (BSER) identified in the CPP, these measures would be credited and supported by the Plan.

On the other hand, the greatest frustration of the nuclear industry is how the Plan addresses existing nuclear capacity. Although the EPA acknowledges that nuclear constitutes a carbon-free electricity source, and that the current nuclear fleet “helps make existing CO2 emissions lower than they would otherwise be,” it does not allow existing nuclear power plants to contribute to the carbon-abatement calculation. This means that existing nuclear is not included in the BSER.

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August 21, 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 Restart Faces Volcano, Protests, but also Favorable Projections
In its first week of operation, Sendai No. 1 faced continued protests by anti-nuclear activists. In addition, Sakurajima – a volcano located 50 km from Sendai – caused a stir with its activity early in the week, prompting a warning for nearby residents to prepare to evacuate, though the operation of the nuclear plant was ultimately uninterrupted. Despite these obstacles, the Japanese bond market is already pricing in more reactors to resume operations; doing so is anticipated to improve the finances of utilities since the costs of nuclear generation are the lowest of any power source.
Source: BloombergReuters

Japan Nuclear Restart Reduces Oil Demand
Power utility Kyushu Electric is anticipating a 30% in demand for crude and fuel oil for thermal power generation over July-September, following the restart of Sendai No. 1. With the operation of the 890MW reactor and a period of mild weather, demand is expected to drop to 24,000 b/d, down from last year’s level of just over 34,000 b/d.
Source: Platts

EU Debates Green Energy Targets, Nuclear
The debates, set to begin next month, will in particular pit Germany and Great Britain against each other. Germany not only seeks to divest fully from nuclear energy while ramping up other renewables, but wants the framework agreed upon last year to become binding, with consequences. This 2030 agreement stipulates cutting greenhouse gases at least 40% from 1990 levels and raising the share of renewables to at least 27%. Great Britain, on the other hand, is investing actively in new nuclear power, and urges a “light-touch and non-legislative” approach to enforcement.
Source: Reuters

Tennessee Valley Authority Requests Watts Bar Operating License
TVA announced that Watts Bar No. 2 is “substantially complete,” having successfully competed hot functional testing, which shows “that nearly 60 important systems can function together at operational temperature and pressure as designed and built.” Subsequently, TVA is requesting an operating license for the reactor from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Watts Bar No. 2 will be the first new reactor built in the US since 1996.
Source: Alabama Media Group

Switzerland’s Nuclear Fully Offline
Currently, all four Swiss nuclear power plants are offline for repairs and servicing. The last one, Gösgen, was disconnected on Monday to repair a leak in a non-nuclear turbine loop. This is significant for Swiss energy security, as nuclear generally supplies around 36% of the country’s electricity, though it can also rely on imported power. Ultimately, Switzerland- like Germany- plans to divest from nuclear power, though all four reactors are intended to go back online in the interim.
Source: Nuclear Engineering International

August 13, 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 Restarts Sendai Reactor
Kyushu Electric Power Company began removal of control rods at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, catalyzing the nuclear reactions within the Sendai No. 1 Reactor. The plant experienced no problems during restart, and successfully reached a self-sustaining cycle later that night. The development spurred significant protests among the Japanese population who harbor strong anti-nuclear sentiment, but the reactor is anticipated to generate power by the end of the week, and be reconnected to the grid by the end of the month. This is the first significant step in re-launching the Japanese nuclear industry, and puts the country on track to achieve its 2030 energy goals.
Source: The Japan TimesForbes

July and August Saw Major Progress For China Nuclear
The Chinese domestic nuclear build program continued its unprecedented rate of proliferation throughout July and August. Recent significant developments have included the placement of the containment dome at Haiyang Unit 2, the placement of the pressurizer at Tianwan Unit 3, the completion of cold testing at Ningde Unit 4, and achievement of the first sustained reaction at Fuqing Unit 2. Across the country, progress is being made on such projects, all of varying reactor models.
Source: Nuclear Engineering International

TEPCO Claims Improvement in Fukushima Water Containment and Treatment
TEPCO says it has developed water containment and treatment systems at the site of Fukushima Daiichi that are helping the environmental recovery of the area. The system consists of a “sea-side impermeable” wall, a subdrain and a groundwater drain system that can pump contaminated water up to the on-site water treatment facility and ultimately back into the ocean. The plan has been officially approved by local fishermen, and could begin operating as early as next month.
Source: The Asahi ShimbunNuclear Street News

Germany Unveils New Waste Disposal Plan
German Environment Minister Barbara Hicks hosted a press conference announcing the government’s new plan to dispose of nuclear waste. The proposal is for two locations: the Konrad Shaft, already under construction for low- to medium-radioactive waste, and a yet-undetermined site for highly radioactive waste. Ambitious deadlines aim to identify this new site by 2031, convert it by 2050, and then begin shifting the waste, which highlights the long-term considerations of the issue.
Source: Deutsche Welle

Mitsubishi and Holtec to Partner on SMRs
A long-term partnership has been announced between Holtec International and Mitsubishi Electric Power Products Inc (MEPPI), Mitsubishi’s US subsidiary. MEPPI will develop instrumentation and control systems for Holtec’s SMR-160 reactor, which is designed to use low-enriched uranium fuel.
Source: World Nuclear News

August 11, 2015

SendaiJapan officially reentered the nuclear energy sphere this morning.

Kyushu Electric Power Company announced that at 10:30 a.m., control rods were extracted from Sendai Nuclear Power Unit No. 1, catalyzing the atomic reactions that power the plant.

“This is a momentous occasion. I applaud the government of Japan, and Kyushu Electric Power Company in particular, for their unwavering dedication to reengaging the country’s nuclear energy capacity,” said Scott Campbell, President of The Howard Baker Forum. “This accomplishment, marked by the utmost consideration for safety and integrity, comes less than two years after the last Japanese plant was shut down. That is truly impressive.”

Although the pursuit of nuclear restart has been controversial in Japan, nuclear is slated to play a significant role in the country’s energy future, comprising up to 22% of the nation’s electricity supply by 2030.

The first step in achieving this ambitious goal has been taken today. Though the process was started this morning, the plant is expected to achieve criticality, or a self-sustaining cycle, around 11:00 p.m. tonight. The reactor should reach its full capacity of 890,000 kilowatts in a little over one week, around August 20.

Understandably, concern for the stable ramp up of the plant is paramount in order to ensure the future of Japanese energy security. Forum on Energy will continue to monitor the space and track developments in this historic process.

August 6, 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 Approved for Long-Term Operation
Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has officially approved management plans for the No. 1 Sendai reactor in Kagoshima Prefecture. With this step complete – even though final inspections such as seismic analysis have not all been completed – the reactor is expected to restart as early as next week, with a target date of August 10. All parties involved will be on high alert for possible malfunctions as the reactor restarts, which are common when mothballed reactors are brought online. Kyushu Electric has performed regular checks since the reactor was shut down, and the plant has been passing all inspections for restart.
Source: The Japan TimesBloomberg

New Nuclear May Benefit from Clean Power Plan
President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled the final Clean Power Plan on Monday. Although many were disappointed to see that existing nuclear capacity will not receive credit for its role in reducing emissions and therefore an arguably-much-needed boost, there is optimism regarding the Plan’s stance on emerging nuclear. New reactors – including advanced technologies such as SMRs – will count more toward meeting federal emissions limits than previously expected.
Source: Bloomberg

Probe into Fukushima No. 2 Reactor Hits Snag
Efforts to determine the state of the molten fuel in the reactor has hit a snag, as new devices designed to aid the process will not fit into the building site. The devices are intended to take X-ray-like photos inside the reactor, but are too big to install unless other equipment is removed and decontaminated first, which would cost significant time and money. Instead, it is likely that the government and Tepco will divert machines currently operating at the No. 1 reactor as soon as possible, though this will be later than the new devices were intended to start working.
Source: NHK World

U.S.-China Nuclear Agreement Passes Congressional Review
An agreement allowing US involvement in Chinese civilian atomic industry will be renewed for another 30 years, as the congressional review period expired without legislative action. The agreement has faced criticism due to China’s record on nuclear proliferation, but supporters staunchly maintain that the agreement is vital for the U.S. nuclear industry, especially since China is predicted to be the single largest market for U.S. nuclear technology, goods and services.
Source: ABC News

August 3, 2015

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and President Barack Obama introduce the Clean Power Plan. Announcement begins at 3:45.

Today, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy officially released the new Clean Power Plan, which has seen a great deal of build-up over recent months. President Obama has been active in promoting the Plan, as he is a vocal proponent of strengthening the standards to which power plants must adhere to combat climate change.

The final draft of the Clean Power Plan builds on past versions, raising the target to cut emissions 32% by 2030 (compared to 2005). To offset this change, states will now have until 2022 to comply with the measures. In the original draft, states had until 2020 to reduce emissions by 30%.

The Plan allows states to choose their strategy for attaining their assigned emissions reduction levels, meaning that the new energy mix could be formed in a variety of ways. Despite previous frustration that the Plan disproportionately underrepresents the carbon-mitigating capacity of nuclear energy, the new Clean Energy Incentive Program still limits its benefits to wind and solar power.

The final text makes significant changes from the June 2014 text with regard to nuclear power. Although it acknowledges the progress that 5.5 GW of new nuclear capacity in development (under construction or in advanced planning) represents, the final Plan removes nuclear from consideration in the best system of emission reduction (BSER). The high cost of new nuclear projects in comparison to the explosion of increasingly efficient investment in other renewables is cited as a reason for its exclusion, as well as the fact that existing nuclear capacity is beneficial but will not reduce CO2 emissions further. New or uprated nuclear generation is still considered a measure that reduces CO2 emission rates despite not being included in the BSER.

The Plan will, however, continue to have a significant effect on the coal industry in particular. This will represent a vital shift in the United States’ energy mix and emissions portfolio, as coal alone constituted 76% of total electricity generation-related emissions in 2014.

Although the final Clean Power Plan may not have panned out exactly as nuclear energy proponents hoped, this is still a historic development. The Obama administration has taken and defended a dramatic stance on climate change. Adopting this Plan sends a resounding message about the United States’ commitment to climate change mitigation, and its long-term impact will be significant.

Read the full final Plan

Read a summary of the Clean Power Plan here

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

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