Global Energy News Roundup: February 1

The Forum on Energy weekly news roundup brings together a mix of global energy stories from around the web. It is published every Thursday and is available on Twitter via @forumonenergy

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority Approves Nuclear Research Reactor

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) granted The Japan Atomic Energy Agency the authority to operate a research reactor, marking the first approval from the NRA for operating a reactor since the 2011 Fukushima accident. Following the accident, new and stricter regulations were created. The reactor is located in Ibaraki Prefecture and called the Static Experiment Critical Facility. The facility will store plutonium-uranium mixed oxide fuel (MOX) at the reactor. The Japan Atomic Energy Agency had to produce a document clarifying that the agency will not use MOX fuel “other than for peaceful purposes” in order to receive approval from the NRA. The approval marks a significant step in Japan’s process of restarting its nuclear power fleet, which took a hit post Fukushima.

Source: Japan Times

China Takes Step Towards Completion of AP1000 Unit

According to China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation, Unit 2 of the Sanmen nuclear power plant in China’s Zhejiang province has successfully completed pre-operational testing. Two AP1000 units are currently under construction at the Sanmen site as well as at Haiyang in Shandong province. Sanmen Unit 2 has been expected to start up in 2018 and this helps solidify that assumption. Unit 1 of the Sanmen Power Plant is expected to be the first Westinghouse AP1000 to begin operation, which is also predicted for 2018. Hot testing for Unit 1 was completed on June 30. Four AP1000 reactors were scheduled to be built in the United States. However, two of those projects suspended construction in August.

Source: World Nuclear News

China Combines No. 2 Nuclear Power Producer and Top Nuclear Power Plant Builder

China’s number two nuclear power producer China National Nuclear Corp. (CNNC) and will take over China’s top builder of nuclear power plants. The move creates a company worth almost $100 billion, and signals a move by China’s government to consolidate the country’s power sector. According to the article, “the deal has been in works for almost a year as Beijing has pushed to streamline its bloated state-owned enterprise (SOE) sector, tackle rising corporate debt and make businesses more profitable through mergers, reductions in excess capacity and the closure of “zombie” firms.” Reuters calculates that the company would have assets of more than $99 billion and a workforce close to $150,000. The move comes as Beijing works to overhaul its nuclear sector “in order to create globally competitive firms and reduce overcapacity across its broader power market.”

Source: Reuters

NuScale Promotes Smaller Reactor

Jose Reyes, NuScale Power’s Chief Technology Officer, and the company’s plans for its 50-megawatt reactor were highlighted in an Los Angeles Times article this week. Mr. Reyes, who is also the founder of NuScale, was noted for his work to revive the U.S. commercial nuclear power industry by solving two issues: 1-increased costs and 2-accident risk. NuScale’s reactor would contain less fuel and less energy, minimizing these risks and also be easier to transport. Last month, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission “ruled that the design of the NuScale reactor — which relies on air circulation for cooling — is so safe that it does not need the expensive emergency pumps and backup electrical systems required of big conventional reactors.” The ruling was a promising step for those who’d like to develop and use small modular reactors.

Source: The Los Angeles Times