Global Energy News Roundup: June 14


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 forumonenergy.com and is available on Twitter via @forumonenergy.

Prime Minister Noda and Fukui Governor’s Science Panel Voice Support for Reactor Restart
On June 8, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda made a televised appeal for support of restarting two Ohi reactors, saying the reactors were necessary “to protect the livelihoods of people in the nation.” Noda was trying to gain the support of all the local government authorities in the Fukui Prefecture, where the reactors are located.

At the time of Noda’s address, Fukui Governor Issei Nishikawa was still hesitant to support the restart and said his decision would be based on a scientific panel’s review of the reactors. Bloomberg News reported that on June 10 the panel issued its conclusion that the reactors “can be operated safely.” Bloomberg News explains, “Nishikawa is expected to accept the panel’s advice, clearing the way for Noda to allow the reactors to resume operation.”

Westinghouse AP1000 to be First U.S. Reactor Built in India
A combination of developments — NRC certification of the AP1000; the U.S. State Department’s decision to allow technical negotiations to proceed; and assurance from Westinghouse that only its U.S.-based operations, not a Japan-based entity, would be involved — paved the way for the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) to move ahead with plans to construct an 1100 MW, AP1000 reactor in Gujarat. The India Express reports that if Toshiba (Westinghouse’ Japan-based entity) was involved, a separate civil nuclear agreement between India and Japan would be necessary. NPCIL executives and staff have visited the Vogtle site in Georgia, as well as locations in China where four AP1000 are being constructed.

Washington State Proposes Hosting SMR
The WNP-1 nuclear power plant in Richland, Wash. was never built — but the site is still ready for a plant. According to the Tri-City Herald, Governor Christine Gregoire sent Energy Secretary Steven Chu a letter suggesting the WNP site as a potential location for a Small Modular Reactor (SMR). The SMR could potentially supply power to Hanford’s waste vitrification plant, as well as the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Additional capacity is needed to support the Hanford plant. The U.S. Department of Energy is in the process of receiving proposals for development and commercial operation of an SMR by 2022.

South Carolina’s New Nuclear Plant Construction Progressing Below Budget
Good news for South Carolina Gas and Electric and its partner Santee Cooper: Ongoing construction of two reactors at the VC Summer nuclear plant is approximately $292 million below budget. The reactors’ owners are paying financing costs while the construction is in process, rather than waiting until after construction is completed, according to the Charleston Regional Business Journal. This financing scheme is expected to lower building costs by $1 billion. The reactors are scheduled to be completed in 2018.