Global Energy News Roundup: April 5

The Forum on Energy weekly news roundup brings together a mix of global energy stories from around the web. It is published every week. Please visit our page on Twitter via @forumonenergy

WSJ Published Opinion Piece on Why US Must Be Committed to Nuclear Energy

James Hansen and Michael Shellenberger wrote an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal arguing that if US governors are serious about global warming the nuclear energy fleet needs to be preserved.  James Hansen is a climate scientist and head of Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions Program at Earth Institute Columbia University and Michael Shellenberger is president of Environmental Progress. While the solar and wind industry has grown significantly over the past decade, nuclear remains the largest source of clean, zero-emissions, reliable electricity. The authors argue that anyone who is seriously concerned about a warming climate should advocate for nuclear power. If the two-thirds of nuclear power plants in the U.S. that are at risk of being closed prematurely are replaced by natural-gas generation (a cheaper source of energy in many states) carbon emissions could increase “by an amount equivalent to adding 47 million new cars to the road.” The authors believe it is unlikely that the federal government will move to solve the problem of premature closures and therefore state governors must take up the issue. Modest subsidies can save these nuclear plants and some have already been extended in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York between 2016 and 2018. Preventing the early closings of nuclear power plants will cost money “but keeping them open will keep electricity prices lower than if natural gas is allowed to dominate.” Additionally, carbon emissions will not increase.
Senate Energy Committee Chair Supports Nuclear Innovation Legislation in Hearing

This week, US Energy Secretary Perry was on Capitol Hill again, this time to discuss the president’s budget request in front of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The Secretary received many questions regarding advanced nuclear power as well as the burnt fuel storage facility Yucca Mountain, which has not been fully developed due to push back from Nevada’s politicians.

The Committee Chair, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) spoke very positively about advanced reactors and discussed her recently proposed legislation. Specifically she stated that “This is our NELA bill, we’re certainly hoping that within the department we’ll have many of your fine team helping us as we seek to regain leadership — world, global leadership when it comes to nuclear technologies and really that nuclear workforce.”

Source: Senate Energy Committee Transcript
TEPCO and Chubu Transfer Fossil Fuel Assets 
The fossil fuel assets of both Tokyo Electric Power Company and Chubu Electric Company have now been passed to their Jera joint venture, which was a requirement for power market liberalization. This now leaves the two utilities with transmission, distribution and retail businesses, and their nuclear power plants. TEPCO and Chubu serve the Kanto region and the Chubu region respectively. They created Jera in 2015 in order to prepare for the deregulation of Japan’s previously regionalized and vertically integrated power market. The deregulation in Japan requires that transmission and distribution are legally separated from generation by April 2020. TEPCO has created subsidiaries for each business function under TEPCO Holdings, which is keeping ownership of its nuclear assets, including the Fukushima Daiichi site. A spokesperson from JERA stated that the transfer yesterday “completes unification of the full value chain from upstream fuel business and procurement through power generation and wholesaling of electricity/gas”.