Global Energy News Roundup: February 22

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

Productivity Increases at Vogtle Construction Site

Southern Company held its 4th quarter earnings results call and spoke positively of the progress being made at the Vogtle construction site. The company’s President and CEO Thomas Fanning stated on the call that “significant progress” was being made with the construction of Vogtle 3 and 4 and that “2018 was a year of incredible accomplishments for Southern Company.” He went on to say that last July, Southern Company updated its “estimated costs to complete and recalibrated site production expectations with a site-wide reset” and after that the company “achieved a trajectory of staffing and productive hours worked per week that is ahead of what we targeted on our last earnings call…We continue to have a lot of work ahead of us to sustain this performance but we are pleased with our progress and are confident that we can meet the schedule approved by our regulators.” Fanning stated that Vogtle 3 and 4 are now about 74% complete. Unit 3 milestones include setting the first cooling pump and placing the third and final containment ring, and setting the main control room roof. At unit 4, milestones that were completed include setting the pressurizer and the second steam generator inside the containment vessel. Fanning also said that lessons learned from AP1000 units that have been commercialized in China can be used to benefit the US project. 

Source: World Nuclear News

US Representatives Release Report on Nuclear Power Deal and Saudi Arabia

This week Democrats from the US House of Representatives released a new report detailing how a meeting between retired military officers helped White House officials circumvent the normal policy making process in order to send nuclear power exports to Saudi Arabia. Staff from the House Oversight and Reform Committee wrote in the report that “further investigation is needed to determine whether the actions being pursued by the Trump administration are in the national security interest of the United States or, rather, serve those who stand to gain financially as a result of this potential change in U.S. foreign policy.” It is understandable that Congress would want to take a closer look at a nuclear power deal with Saudi Arabia, however, to have the United States build a nuclear reactor in Saudi Arabia would be much more favorable than having China or Russia build the reactors.

Source: The New York Times

House Energy and Commerce Committee Member Promotes Nuclear Energy

US Representative Jeff Duncan (R-South Carolina), who serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee is making the case for nuclear in an opinion piece publish by The Hill. In the piece, Rep. Duncan explains why nuclear energy is critical to national security, the US economy, and geopolitical influence. He discusses the economic opportunity that the nuclear industry can provide to many communities and individuals across the country, including veterans. Additionally, he sees immense potential to export US nuclear technologies abroad. Specifically, he states that “the Department of Commerce estimates the international civil nuclear energy industry will be valued at $740 billion over the next 10 years, with $100 billion in export opportunities for the United States.” Rep. Duncan also discusses the threat that China and Russia pose to geopolitical security by building nuclear power reactors around the globe. He says that “Russian and Chinese exports are becoming a major tool for soft power all around the globe, and that may extend for many decades as many nuclear reactors can operate for up to 80 years.”

Source: The Hill