Global Energy News Roundup: August 23

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.

IAEA: Nuclear Energy Expanding, Safer Since Fukushima
Despite last year’s accident at Fukushima Daiichi due to the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan, global interest in nuclear energy to generate electricity remains high, according to Reuters. While interest has certainly waned, it is clearly not stopping and global nuclear energy capacity could as much as double by 2030, according to a new report from the International Atomic Energy Agency. “While the Fukushima Daiichi accident caused some countries to change their positions and some to take a ‘wait and see’ approach, interest continued among countries considering or planning for nuclear power introduction,” the report stated. At the same time, the agency says its IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety has done much to advance global nuclear energy safety since Fukushima, though the environmental group Greenpeace disagrees with the assessment.
Source: Reuters

Germany’s Move Away From Nuclear Means More Coal Consumption
The German government’s decision to stop nuclear energy production has led to significant increases in the use of coal, as German utilities shy away from more-costly—yet cleaner—natural gas. German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the shift in nuclear policy partly in response to the accident at Fukushima Daiichi. A 2,200-megawatt, coal-powered station recently went online near Cologne and the country’s use of coal has increased nearly 5 percent since the policy change, according to “Angela Merkel’s policy has created an incentive structure which has the effect of partially replacing nuclear with coal, the dirtiest fuel that’s responsible for much of the growth in the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions since 1990,” said Dieter Helm, an energy policy professor at the University of Oxford.

Study Shows Low Radiation Levels in Residents Near Fukushima
An analysis of Japanese citizens living near the site of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi meltdown shows very low levels of cesium radiation, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. According to The Washington Post, researchers looked at cesium levels in 8,066 adults and 1,432 children living approximately 14 miles from Fukushima, finding the average was “well under” the safe dosage level and only about one-third had detectable cesium radiation. “The jury is still out, but I expect the public health impact from radiation to turn out to be considerably lower than that of Chernobyl,” said Roy Shore, chief of research at the Radiation Effects Research Foundation in Hiroshima, Japan.
Source: The Washington Post

U.S., South Korea Set for Nuclear Cooperation Meeting
United States and South Korean officials are set to come together in September for a working meeting on nuclear energy cooperation. The two countries signed a nuclear energy pact in 1974, which is set to expire in 2014. The talks will focus on a number of issues — such as reprocessing fuel and uranium enrichment — in the hopes of reaching an agreement on a revised pact.
Source: Arirang News

Canada Approves First Site Preparation License in 25 Years
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission will issue a site preparation license for new nuclear reactors at Ontario Power Generation’s Darlington site. The license runs from August 17 of this year to August 17, 2022. Energy Business Review reported that Alan Graham, chair of CNSC’s Joint Review Panel, said of the decision: “It has been reached in an open and transparent manner with the input of hundreds of citizens, whose thoughts and arguments inspired and challenged us to make the best possible decision.” Ontario Power Generation must still identify a vendor to prepare the site and build the reactors.