RPT-“Made in China” nuclear reactors a tough sell in global market Mar 8, 2015 By Charlie Zhu and David Stanway (Reuters) - As China signs global deals to export its nuclear power technology, it faces a huge obstacle: it still needs to show it can build and safely operate these reactors at home……..
Premier Li Keqiang told an annual parliamentary meeting this week that the China aimed to increase its share of global sales in a range of advanced industries, including implementing major projects in nuclear power. And in a sign of progress on exporting its own nuclear technology, China signed a preliminary agreement last month to sell its flagship Hualong 1 reactor to Argentina.
But despite state media describing the deal as the model’s “maiden voyage”, China has not yet built Hualong 1, raising questions about the country’s capacity to deliver reactors for the global market.
“Our fatal weakness is our management standards are not high enough. There is a big gap with international standards,” said Xu Lianyi, a senior expert at China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corp (SNPTC), referring to the challenges China faces expanding its nuclear power sector.
SNPTC, which was set up to receive technology transferred from Westinghouse Electric Co., is trying to develop another reactor ultimately targeted at the world market. Although China has operated Western-designed reactors at home for more than 20 years, it will need to convince buyers of the reliability of its own technology, particularly given a chequered reputation on industrial standards and safety in some other areas such as mining.
China’s first Hualong 1 project, in Fujian province, may not be completed until 2020, assuming it breaks ground this year and construction goes smoothly, said Li Ning, dean of the School of Energy Research at Xiamen University…….
Beijing has promised to stick to the highest safety standards, using so-called “third generation” reactors like Hualong 1 and CAP1400, another home-grown model identified for future export. Due to be based on technology transferred from Westinghouse, the launch of CAP1400 will depend on the completion of a pilot Westinghouse third-generation reactor in Zhejiang province, which is facing a three-year delay because of technological problems……
Under a hotly-fought multibillion-dollar nuclear power deal struck with Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse, China secured a significant technology transfer agreement in 2007. China has been absorbing and localising the technology to develop the CAP1400 and says it has full intellectual property rights on the model and Hualong 1.
The Beijing office of Westinghouse, which is now controlled by Japan’s Toshiba Corp, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
While technology rights may not stoke tensions, Beijing’s pledge to aid the overseas expansion of Chinese firms risks raising the hackles of competitors if sectors like nuclear are deemed unfairly subsidised…….
an official at the China National Nuclear Corporation, which is leading efforts to export Hualong 1 to Argentina, said China still has “huge amounts of work to do” before it can become a nuclear powerhouse, including rolling out Hualong I at home. The official declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak to the media…….http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/08/china-nuclear-idUSL4N0WA0T620150308
Saudi Arabia, South Korea sign MOU on nuclear power Wed Mar 4, 2015 Reuters) – Saudi Arabia and South Korea have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to cooperate on the development of nuclear energy, Saudi state news agency SPA said, building on a deal signed in 2011.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye met with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Tuesday in Riyadh during an official visit, SPA said.
The MOU calls for South Korean firms to help build at least two small-to-medium sized nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia, the South Korean presidential office said in a statement.
“If the two units go ahead, the cost of the contract will be (near) $2 billion,” the statement said……http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/04/saudi-south-korea-nuclear-idUSL5N0W61GM20150304
SA’s nuclear deal with Russia is far from done, Mail & Guardian 20 FEB 2015 LISA STEYN Money is the big problem with the initial agreement Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson signed last year, given the financial positions of both countries. Russia has emerged as an apparent frontrunner to participate in South Africa’s nuclear build, but selecting the technology is just the first of many challenges that could see a nuclear deal such as this come a cropper.
With the Russian economy in turmoil and the subsequent high cost of borrowing, its ability to raise the funding for its nuclear ambitions in many countries is being called into question – as is its ability to deliver on time.
For South Africa, it is even more of a mystery how the government will provide the loan guarantees that would be required, given that so many have been extended to ailing parastatals such as Eskom and SAA. The state may have hit its limit.
Regardless of which vendor is chosen, the guarantees and the government’s 50% localisation target for the project appear to be insurmountable obstacles, particularly given the challenges faced by the domestic construction industry.
The memorandum of understanding signed between Russia and South Africa last year is far more than a generic agreement, as the government had claimed it is. Rather, it lays the groundwork for government-to-government contracting, in terms that heavily favour Russia, the Mail & Guardian reported last week.
Not only will the agreement be binding for 20 years once in force, but the Russians will also be indemnified from any liability arising from nuclear accidents during the reactors’ life. Russia is also granted a host of regulatory concessions and favourable tax and other financial treatment. The designated competent authorities are South Africa’s department of energy and Russia’s Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation.
But unresolved issues could make the deal unworkable. An industry expert, who did not wish to be named, said: “My own view is I don’t think the guys driving it from the South African side have joined the dots. I don’t have huge confidence in the people running it and that they understand the issues.”
Despite the apparent commitment to forge ahead with Russian technology, the agreement defers a decision about funding.
The Russians are known to have offered South Africa a “build, own, operate” construction deal, according to which Russia would build and run the nuclear station, and sell the power to South Africa at an agreed price. This kind of vendor-assisted financing may be the only way South Africa could afford to go nuclear. But the bigger question now is: Can Russia?
First, sanctions have been imposed on Russia for its military intervention in the Ukraine. Then the oil price tumbled, severely hitting government revenues, which are heavily reliant on oil and gas taxes. Subsequently, the rouble has lost almost 50% of its value since the start of 2014, inflation has soared to 15%, and its sovereign credit rating was cut to sub-investment grade by one agency in January. And, in 2014 alone, $151-billion was taken out of the country.
Some nuclear economists and industry insiders believe this dire state of affairs could affect Russia’s nuclear ambitions, as new builds involve high upfront costs and are extremely sensitive to the cost of financing, which is mainly the interest rates at which the funding is secured…….
The unnamed industry expert, however, expressed concern that Russia might commit itself to a further agreement but not honour it. He said other nations that had signed nuclear deals with Russia, such as Vietnam, India and Turkey, had all experienced delays………….. http://mg.co.za/article/2015-02-19-sas-nuclear-deal-with-russia-is-far-from-done
Russia and China outgun the West in civil nuclear exports Ft.com 20 Feb 15 By Matthew Cottee, International Institute for Strategic Studies
East–West nuclear rivalry is back. The Ukraine crisis threatens the emergence of a new Cold War, and with it the return to a standoff between nuclear-armed opponents. Meanwhile, nuclear rivalry is shaping up in another arena: exports of civil nuclear technology represent a new battleground in which Russia – and increasingly China – are significantly outgunning the West, with troubling implications for global nuclear governance……..
untested Chinese technology is being installed at a facility in Pakistan, although progress on construction was recently halted by courts in Karachi citing environmental concerns. Despite this setback, Beijing has ambitions to export nuclear technology on a large scale. The February merger of China Power Investment Corporation and State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation—designed to consolidate expertise in international technology transfer and nuclear power production—suggests that Beijing is positioning itself to increase international supply of its own nuclear technology in the future.
An assessment of the dynamics of nuclear supply already provides difficult reading for Western suppliers such as Areva or Westinghouse, who are simply unable to compete with Chinese and Russian financing. According to data from the World Nuclear Association, Russia is currently building 37 per cent of the civil nuclear facilities under construction globally, followed by China with 28 per cent. Rosatom, the Russian nuclear corporation, has orders on its books worth US$100bn.
Both Russia and China are offering prospective buyers, predominantly in emerging economies, generous financial support to gain access to a range of markets. Moscow has already transferred technology to Hungary, Turkey and Venezuela, and in November 2014 announced that it would build up to eight new nuclear reactors in Iran, despite continuing concerns about Tehran’s nuclear intentions. A preliminary agreement signed last week between Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, and Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi suggests this trend shows no signs of abating.
In addition to the on-going relationship with Pakistan, China has also signed bilateral deals to provide new nuclear reactors to Argentina and is expected to be closely involved in the new nuclear build at Hinkley Point in the UK. While the Chinese contribution to the British facility will be financial, this is a likely precursor to an operational role at future UK nuclear sites, with the possibility of indigenously designed Chinese technology being installed on Britain’s east coast………http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2015/02/20/guest-post-russia-and-china-outgun-the-west-in-civil-nuclear-exports/
The sixty-year pitch.From a dancing housewife to Homer Simpson and beyond, here are some memorable moments in the long grind to sell nuclear power to a wary public. Environmental Health News Third of three parts. Part 1: Last Tango for nuclear?; Part 2: Atomic Balm. February 13, 2015 By Peter Dykstra The nuclear power industry has often been its own worst enemy through its marketing.
At the height of the Cold War in 1953, President Eisenhower rolled out the “Atoms for Peace” campaign, envisioning everything from electrical generation to harnessing atomic bombs to dredging harbors and damming rivers. The following year, Atomic Energy Commission Chair Lewis Strauss upped the ante, envisioning a day when “our children will enjoy in their homes electrical energy too cheap to meter.”
The Atom and Eve
Strauss was placing his bets on nuclear fusion, which, sixty years later, is still on the drawing board. And the meters are still ticking away.
Eager to invest in nukes, utilities took their cue from the AEC Chairman. The Atomic Industrial Forum, the first nuclear power trade association, led the way in messages equating nuclear power with easy living and patriotism. Utilities ran ad campaigns that promised cheap nuclear energy.
From hot times to deep freeze
Nuclear power plant construction hit its Golden Era in the 1960’s. A late Sixties video touting proposed New England nukes, “The Atom and Eve,” is a memorable example from the era: Eve is a dancing housewife, reveling in the virtues of an all-electric kitchen powered by clean, safe nuclear energy. The video’s cigarette-smoking safety engineer looks like he was plucked out of the fission edition of Mad Men, but it’s Eve’s show. She pirouettes around household appliances, caressing the refrigerator, fondling an electric range, and (viewer advisory!) at about the 8:45 mark, she pretty much makes it to third base with an electric washer-dryer combo.
By the end of the decade, rising protests at nuclear plant construction sites and the near-calamity of Three Mile Island changed the game. Public mistrust grew, particularly after Nuclear Regulatory Commission staffers accused Pennsylvania officials and Three Mile Island’s operators of downplaying risks……
Nervous Nineties and beyond
In 1998, industry advertising was whacked by the Better Business Bureau, which ruled in favor of environmental groups and a windmill power producer that nuclear ads could not boast of producing “environmentally clean” power. When those claims continued, the groups won a similar ruling from the Federal Trade Commission a year later.
As the 21st Century rolled in, the industry increasingly marketed itself as a remedy to climate change concerns, with a parade of prominent citizens, some of them paid spokespeople, plugging nuclear.
Then, in 2011, came Fukushima, and the industry’s umpteenth redemption pitch was in doubt. And Japan, by reputation one of the best-prepared and most safety-conscious nation on Earth, went into damage control mode, including at least one world-class PR overreach: Tokyo Electric Power’s legal team argued in court that radiation released by the Fukushima meltdowns was no longer the company’s responsibility.
The court was not amused.
Today, the domestic nuclear industry is relying heavily on selling nuke plants as a climate change solution. ……http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/2015/feb/essay-the-sixty-year-pitc
India to supply nuclear reactors to Sri Lanka By Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury, ET Bureau | 17 Feb, 2015 NEW DELHI: With an eye on checking China’s growing ambitions in South Asia, India has signed a landmark civil nuclear pact with Sri Lanka – the first such agreement to supply nuclear power reactors to a foreign nation – and decided to expand defence and security cooperation to address Colombo’s requirements.
Russia to help Egypt build ‘a whole new nuclear power industry’ – Putin, Rt.com February 10, 2015 Russia will contribute to building “a whole new nuclear power industry” in Egypt, President Vladimir Putin has announced as the two countries have signed a number of agreements after a meeting in Cairo.
The same stumbling block over parallel safeguards in perpetuity has held up India’s conclusion of nuclear deals with Japan and Australia
India’s bitter experience over the 1984 gas leak from an American-owned Bhopal city plant that killed about as many people as the Fukushima disaster. Indeed, Japan’s dual liability laws, which indemnify suppliers and make plant operators exclusively liable, should serve as a sobering lesson for India: GE built or designed all the three Fukushima reactors that suffered core meltdowns in 2011, yet the U.S. firm went scot-free, despite a fundamental design deficiency in the reactors.
With complex legal, pricing and other issues still pending, the deal’s commercialization is anything but imminent. In fact, the two sides are yet to sign the administrative arrangements, which they announced had been “finalized.”
It is an open question whether the deal will ever yield substantive energy benefits for India, given the exorbitant price of foreign-origin reactors, the concomitant need for India to heavily subsidize the electricity from such plants, and grassroots safety concerns over the Fukushima-type multi-plant nuclear parks earmarked by India for Westinghouse, GE-Hitachi and Areva, each of which is to sell prototype LWR models presently not in operation anywhere in the world.
The U.S.-India nuclear breakthrough that wasn’t, Japan Times 12 Feb 15 BY BRAHMA CHELLANEY During U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent India visit, a stalled, decade-old civil nuclear deal took center-stage, with the two sides announcing a breakthrough on the contentious issues blocking its implementation — a development that promised to potentially open the path for a Japan-India nuclear deal. It now appears that the breakthrough was more hype than reality and that there is little prospect of the U.S.-India deal’s early commercialization……..
it has now become apparent that the U.S. and India are still locked in negotiations to tie up loose ends and that the much-trumpeted breakthrough was little more than an effort to project a substantive advance during a presidential visit rich in pageantry and symbolism. Obama was the chief guest at India’s Jan. 26 Republic Day parade, a year after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had that honor.
While claiming a breakthrough, neither side released any details, including on how another sticking point had been resolved: a U.S. demand that New Delhi accept nuclear-material tracking and accounting arrangements Continue reading
The law has stalled the implementation of deals for new reactors that India signed with the U.S., Russia, and France in 2008, when the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) allowed India to import nuclear fuel technology without being a member of the multinational body concerned with reducing nuclear proliferation. India said the breakthrough deal with Russia reached this April after four years of negotiations takes into account the liability law when pricing four more Russian reactors meant for India’s Kundankulam plant in Tamil Nadu (each of which is valued at $2.5 billion) as well as four or six other VVER-1200 units planned for Haripur, West Bengal. The deal essentially calls for India’s public sector General Insurance Co. to evaluate each component of the Russian reactors and prescribe a 20-year insurance premium it will charge to cover Russia’s liability for an accident.
Russia’s state-owned nuclear firm Rosatom reportedly has indemnity from any liability arising from an accident at the VVER-1000s at Kundankulam Unit 1 (Figure 2), which attained criticality in July 2013 and is expected to come online later this year, and Unit 2, expected to be operational in October 2014. Observers note that contracts for those plants were signed in 1998, before India’s domestic liability legislation had even been contemplated.
Before Indian legislation on civil nuclear liability—The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill—finally passed both houses of parliament in August 2010, exempting suppliers from all liability had been India’s typical practice, starting in 1962, when India signed its first nuclear cooperation agreement with the U.S. to allow General Electric to supply two 200-MW reactors to India’s Tarapur site. The practice of liability exemption was modeled on America’s own 1957-passed nuclear liability law, the Price Anderson Act, and went on to extend indemnity protection to Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. for two reactors in Rajasthan in 1965, and later to Russia. Continue reading
Officials from Egypt and Russia have signed agreements to boost economic and industrial ties during Putin’s visit to Cairo. The two countries plan to build a nuclear power station, Egypt’s President El-Sissi says. Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, wrapped up his two-day visit with Egyptian counterpart Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo on Tuesday, after both countries signed a memorandum of understanding to build Egypt’s first nuclear power plant together. The power plant is expected to be made with the latest technology and have four separate blocks providing 1200 megawatts of energy each, according to Sergey Kirienko, the director general of the Russian atomic energy corporation Rosatom.
President Putin stressed that “if definite decisions are made, it would not be simply about building a nuclear power plant, but about creating a whole new nuclear industry in Egypt.”
He also stressed that Moscow had only signed a memorandum of understanding on the construction, meaning that the deal had not yet been finalized…….http://www.dw.de/cairo-and-kremlin-agree-on-building-a-nuclear-power-plant/a-18248404
US nuclear ‘breakthrough’ cloud on France deal, Telegraph New Delhi, Feb. 5:France has indicated it may want to use elements of the nuclear liability “breakthrough” India and the US have claimed, in setting up its own reactors in this country, signalling potential for competitive bargaining over the terms New Delhi offers to different nations.
India last year offered France and Russia – the two nations other than the US that have committed to selling nuclear reactors – an insurance pool created by Indian public sector firms to fund any compensation following an accident from their reactors.
The US had so far appeared unconvinced by the insurance pool plan. Its apparent turnaround during President Barack Obama’s India visit last week has sparked speculation in the capital’s diplomatic enclave that New Delhi may have offered Washington a particularly sweet deal……….
France is pandering to Modi’s pet initiative of “Make in India” by promising to build “large parts of the Areva reactors” in India. And unlike the US, France had also never sought any change in the nuclear liability law despite its concerns that the law was draconian and out of line with global standards, the senior French official said…….
The Indian foreign office also pointed to France’s acceptance of India’s liability law.”Every country has a different approach to this matter,” Akbaruddin said, citing the example of uranium India already sources from France. “With France, the template of our engagement is already set.” http://www.telegraphindia.com/1150206/jsp/nation/story_1764.jsp#.VNUrReaUcnk
China nuclear power firms to merge in bid to boost global clout By Pete Sweeney and Charlie Zhu Feb 4 (Reuters) – China Power Investment Corp is merging with the State Nuclear Power Technology Corp, as Beijing drives consolidation in its rapidly expanding nuclear power sector with the aim of eventually exporting reactors.
The Chinese power producer currently controls about a tenth of China’s nuclear power market, while the State Nuclear Power Technology Corp was formed in 2007 to handle nuclear technology transferred from U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric Co.
A merger between the two would create a firm with total assets of more than 600 billionyuan ($96 billion), industry experts estimate.
“The merger will help them expand in China, and the overseas market in the long run,” said Francois Morin, Beijing-based China director of World Nuclear Association……..
China, which now primarily provides financing and construction services to nuclear power projects overseas, is expected by some experts to start exporting reactors after 2020 and become a major exporter by 2030 when it has fully digested foreign technology and developed its domestic industry.
The global nuclear market is currently dominated by firms such as France’s Areva, Russia’s Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corp and Japan’s Toshiba Corp, which controls Westinghouse………Westinghouse Electric Co has already handed over most of the intellectual property for its AP1000 reactor design to the State Nuclear Power Technology Corp……..http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/04/china-nuclear-ma-idUSL4N0VE05Q20150204
Chinese nuclear firms urged to boost presence overseas South China Morning Post 16 Jan 15 China will push its big nuclear firms to improve their competitiveness and boost their presence overseas as it bids to become one of the world’s dominant nuclear energy powers, Premier Li Keqiang said.
“To continue the struggle to become a strong nuclear energy power, China must comprehensively raise the industry’s competitive advantages, promote nuclear power equipment overseas…..
the country’s two biggest state nuclear companies, China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) and China General Nuclear Corp (CGN), have agreed to invest in Britain’s Hinkley Point nuclear project.
Wang Zhongtang, the chief engineer at State Nuclear Power Technology Corp, said China was also well on its way to securing projects in Turkey and South Africa.
China has been making steady progress on its own third-generation reactors, including the Hualong I, jointly developed by CNNC and CGN for the purpose of winning overseas projects.
Zheng Hua, a deputy chief engineer with CGN’s reactor design unit, said last month that China hoped to develop Hualong I reactors in Britain, building on the agreement to invest in Hinkley Point.
China was also considering a plan to merge CNNC and CGN in order to pool their resources and improve their competitiveness overseas, sources said late last year. http://www.scmp.com/business/economy/article/1680957/chinese-nuclear-firms-urged-boost-presence-overseas
China ready to sell nuclear fuel for NPPs in Ukraine and Eastern Europe — CNNC source http://itar-tass.com/en/world/771570 January 16, 15 Ukrainian energy sector workers are facing technical problems with American nuclear fuel loading into the Soviet-type reactors BEIJING, January 16. /TASS/. China is ready to sell fuel for nuclear power plants in Ukraine and Eastern Europe, a China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) source told TASS on Friday on the sidelines of the World Nuclear Spotlight forum.
According to the source, Chinese companies intend to sell the fuel to the countries that operate various types of Soviet-and Russian-made NPPs. Aside from Ukraine, China is viewing the possibility of exporting nuclear fuel to Hungary and Romania.
The source said Ukrainian energy sector workers are facing technical problems with American nuclear fuel loading into the Soviet-type reactors.
At the moment China is actively buying uranium mines with a view to exporting uranium to other countries in the foreseeable future. Asked about Russia’s possible claims to the Chinese manufacturers of nuclear fuel, he said that “there are no special restrictions.” “Despite the related agreements, the Russian side is unlikely to stop the supplies,” said the CNNC representative.
Russia and China have been actively developing co-operation in the nuclear sphere for many years. For example, State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom and CNNC signed a protocol to launch the discussion of possible formats of co-operation in the sphere of construction of nuclear power plants in third countries.
Reactors from Russia are unsafe and unreliable, India shouldn’t buy them: Russian environmentalist Vladimir SlivyakDiaNuke.org, 9 Jan 15 DiaNuke.org interviewed the eminent environmentalist Vladimir Slivyak whose group EcoDefense has been facing repression in Russia for exposing the lack of nuclear safety and environmental impacts. His report on the status of nuclear industry in Russia, prepared on the request of an environmental group in Africa which is also an important market that the Russian nuclear giant Atomsroyexport is eyeing, has been published recently.
The Russian President in his recent visit to New Delhi, offered 21 more reactors to India. Why is the Russian nuclear industry is in such hurry when there is a global shift away from nuclear after Fukushima?
Unfortunately, Russia hasen’t learnt any lessons from Fukushima. Development of nuclear power industry remains the priority for Russian government……..
It is also about making other countries dependent on Russian services and supplies, including nuclear fuel and also so called treatment of high-level radioactive waste, such as spent nuclear fuel, which is usually taken back to Russia. Making someone dependent in such a sensitive field as nuclear power, where not many producers existing, has global political importance for Russian authorities……….
Rosatom promises are far bigger than its technical capability to build reactors. The only explanation I can think of is that they don’t believe that all these reactors will be actually ordered. And Rosatom’ $100billion portfolio is not about real orders actually. It looks great on paper and allows Rosatom managers to report about big success to the government and continue to benefit from big governmental subsidies. But let’s see how their promises are interacting with reality. Couple of years ago there was contract signed with Vietnam and it was said publicly construction will start soon. And last year it appeared that this plan is postponed until 2020. Contract with Turkey was signed before Vietnam and reported to be another big breakthrough, but no construction started until now. And the most of so-called “orders” of Rosatom in other countries are, in fact, not real contracts, but just talks and wishful thinking. Rosatom often gives away totally unreliable information on new reactors, and it was many times proven to be false.
It doesn’t mean Rosatom is not capable of building reactors in India at all. Rather it means that if they do, they would have to postpone many other plans for long, they will try to do it as fast as possible which will likely affect safety of new reactors.
We often hear from the Russian Ambassador and the industry leaders from Russia visiting India that the Russian reactors are safest in the world. What is your take?
Rosatom is promoting its new reactor design, the VVER-TOI, to international customers even though this design has never been tested in practical operation in Russia. No assessments of this design have been done by independent experts, either. It remains unclear if safety has been improved in the new design, as Rosatom claims. But even industry experts put Rosatom’s claims of increased safety in doubt and argue over the effectiveness of new safety systems.
Existing Russian reactors, likewise, do not demonstrate a high level of safety………http://www.dianuke.org/russian-reactors-are-unsafe-and-unreliable-india-shouldnt-buy-them-russian-environmentalist-vladimir-slivyak/
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