Global Energy News Roundup: April 18

Newsroundup42-471x315The 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.

Easy DOE Confirmation Expected for Moniz
Ernest Moniz , physicist and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) faculty member, seems positioned for an easy confirmation as President Obama’s next secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy. Moniz faced a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last week, where he spoke on his desire to “push forward” with the recommendations of a 2011 federal commission and supported the development of modular nuclear reactors. “You may very well prove to be this rare nominee that generates bipartisan support,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), with Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) adding that it’s “clear you’ve built a lot of goodwill with senators on both sides of the aisle.”
Source: AAAS

U.S. Signs Climate Change Agreements with China, Japan
Secretary of State John Kerry signed climate change agreements with both China and Japan over the weekend. Analysts said that while both agreements are significant, the China collaboration could be an especially significant step in the ongoing fight against greenhouse gas emissions. “China and the United States represent the world’s two biggest economies, we represent the world’s two largest consumers of energy, and we represent the two largest emitters of global greenhouse gases. So if any two nations come to this table with an imperative for action, it is us,” Kerry said. “What the United States and China decide to do with respect to this, whatever energy initiative we embrace together … the two largest economies in the world will send a signal to the world about how serious we are about this.”
Source: Scientific American

Japanese Utilities See Record Consumption of LNG
The lack of nuclear energy led Japan’s ten largest power utilities to consume 55.79 million metric tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) , a record high, in fiscal 2012-13. The previous high was 52.89 million metric tons, according to the Federation of Electric Power Companies. Only two of the country’s 50 nuclear reactors are currently online. Reactors will have to meet new standards set by Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority before receiving permission to restart. Despite the lack of nuclear, nine of the country’s regional utilities recently announced they expected a 6.3 percent electricity surplus during the peak demand period of August, according to Bloomberg.
Source: Platts, Bloomberg

Officials: Decommissioning Fukushima Could Take 40 Years
Since being damaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant has had at least eight major problems, from power outages to leaks of contaminated water. Officials assessing the decommissioning process of the plant believe it could now take about 40 years. The most difficult issue at this time is the daily production of about 400 tons of highly radioactive water that is slowly seeping into the soil. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will notify the Japanese government next week of the results of its assessment.
Source: The Washington Post

Potential Issues with DOE Plan to Research Dry Cask Technologies
A research project led by the Electric Power Research Institute and costing  the U.S. Department of Energy approximately $16 million will,  over the next half decade, look into storing spent nuclear fuel in dry casks. “The Energy Department is committed to advancing clean, reliable and safe nuclear power — which provides the largest source of low-carbon electricity in the United States,” said Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Pete Lyons in a statement. “At the same time, the department is working to address the challenges of the back end of the fuel cycle, including advancing secure and reliable extended storage and dry cask technologies.” However, the plan faces a number of criticisms. On one hand, Republicans such as Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) are concerned the government is not focusing on Yucca Mountain and the development of long-term spent fuel repositories. Frank Rusco, Director of GAO’s Natural Resources and Environment office, recently testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development that the U.S. government might not have the legal authority to implement its plan to construct two interim and one permanent storage facility. He said provisions established under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 may no longer apply.
Source: E&E, Forbes