Global Energy News Roundup: April 5

This week’s global energy news roundup features articles and information from a range of sources, including the Wall Street Journal, World Nuclear News, Power Engineering and The Washington Post. Headlines in this roundup include “U.S. NRC Issues Another New Construction License“; “Hitachi-GE Nuclear Plant in Lithuania Moves Forward ”; “Japan’s Planned Launch of its New Nuclear Agency Hits Roadblock”; and “Japanese Panel Speculates On Possibility of a 34 Meter Tsunami.” 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 and is available on Twitter via @forumonenergy.

U.S. NRC Issues Another New Construction License
On March 30, 2012, just seven weeks after granting a new construction and operation license to Southern Company, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved South Carolina Electric and Gas and state-owned Santee Cooper’s combined construction and operating license. The companies submitted their application in 2008 for two new reactors at the Summer Nuclear Plant site. Four of the five commissioners voted in favor of the license. The new reactors will serve customers of both companies. One 1,117 MW unit will be completed in 2017 and another unit of the same size will be completed in 2018. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the reactors are designed by Toshiba Corp. unit Westinghouse Electric Co.
Source: Wall Street Journal

Hitachi-GE Nuclear Plant in Lithuania Moves Forward
Lithuania has signed the Concession Agreement for the Visaginas power plant. This action sets into motion the next step, which is for the Lithuanian government to review and discuss the proposal before submitting it to parliament for a formal vote. As reported by World Nuclear News, final approval is expected to be reached by the end of the current parliamentary session.
Source: World Nuclear News

Japan’s Planned Launch of its New Nuclear Agency Hits Roadblock
The planned launch of Japan’s official restructured nuclear energy policy has been delayed due to political disagreement over some of the details and structure of the policy. The new law was to go into effect April 1, 2012. The ruling and opposition parties have differing ideas about how much independence the agency should have, which is the main stumbling block preventing the new policy from being implemented. There are also unrelated disputes around other issues such as a proposed tax hike. “It is extremely deplorable that the launch of the agency is not in sight,” Nuclear Disaster Minister Goshi Hosono told a press conference Friday, as reported by POWER Engineering magazine. The magazine also reported that the Diet has not yet begun deliberating the related bills. The existing Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, will continue to serve as the primary regulatory body in Japan. The delay in setting up the new agency could impact ongoing safety checks on the country’s idled nuclear reactors, as well as impacting plans to eventually bring the reactors back into operation.
Source: Power Engineering 

Japanese Panel Speculates On Possibility of a 34 Meter Tsunami
While the central government waits to determine if and when to restart the Ohi reactors, safety of Japan’s reactors came back into question after two official studies released over the weekend predicted much higher waves could hit in the future, when compared to previous estimates. If this were to happen, Tokyo quake damage could be even more devastating. As the Washington Post reports, “a government-commissioned panel of experts says a tsunami unleashed by a magnitude-9.0 earthquake in the Nankai trough, which runs east of Japan’s main island of Honshu to the southern island of Kyushu, could top 34 meters.”
Source: The Washington Post