Global Energy News Roundup: January 4

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

Bill Gate’s Nuclear Venture Slowed by Trump’s China Policy

In his yearly “What I learned at work this year” post on his blog, Bill Gates addresses the problems caused to his advanced nuclear reactor company, TerraPower, by President Trump’s trade and technology policies towards China. Bill Gates stated that “We had hoped to build a pilot project in China, but recent policy changes here in the U.S. have made that unlikely.” TerraPower signed a deal in 2015 with China National Nuclear Corp. to develop and build a demonstration reactor to test advance nuclear technology in Cangzhou, China. “But the Energy Department announced new rules in October that, while not banning all nuclear deals with China, require a high degree of assurance that the technology wouldn’t be used for military or other unauthorized purposes,” according to the Wall Street Journal. TerraPower must now find another partner to help fund the advanced reactor. According to Randolph Bell of the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center, “The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Turkey could be options down the road…But China’s national mission to develop nuclear energy as well as the massive size of its market make it difficult to replace.”

Source: WSJ, Gates Notes

New House Energy Committee Chair Focuses on Global Warming

In a move that could prove positive for the US nuclear energy sector, new Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) announced that under his leadership, his panel’s first hearing will be on the environmental and economic effects of climate change. In a statement, Pallone said that “There is no more pressing issue for our economy, our communities and our planet than climate change, and this is the first of many hearings the Committee will hold on this growing crisis.” This new focus from a Democratic led House of Representatives on climate change could help to promote nuclear energy as a form of reliable, carbon free, base-load power. Nancy Pelosi, the newly re-elected House Speaker has also voiced support for focusing on climate change. On Thursday, after being elected as Speaker for the second time, she stated that “We must also face the existential threat of our time, the climate crisis manifested in natural disasters of epic proportions…The people are ahead of Congress and the Congress must join them.”


IAEA Pushes for More Regulatory Competence

At its meeting in Vienna that lasted from December 17-21, The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says that establishing a national strategy is essential for “the sustainable supply of competent and well-trained regulatory staff who can effectively oversee nuclear safety.” The participants at the meeting noted how few countries have strategies, but noted how more are working on them.  More work needs to be done however. Geza Macsuga, IAEA nuclear safety officer and the meeting’s scientific secretary state that the “the meeting helps us at the IAEA understand how we can further support Member States to have well-developed, competent regulatory staff in place at all times.” Having a national strategy would allow regulators to have stronger support for each other across borders and streamline the regulatory system, leading to more efficient reactor approvals and development.

Source: World Nuclear News