China will finance and build two nuclear power plants in Argentina in a deal worth up to $15bn underlining Beijing’s continued presence in Latin America despite its slowing economy.
The deal comes amid a push to export China’s homegrown atomic technology, often by offering cheap technology and generous financing. It follows China’s move last month to take a one-third stake in a French-led project to build the first in a new generation of UK nuclear plants.
Buenos Aires has been one of Beijing’s larger clients, with $19bn of lending for Chinese-led infrastructure projects since 2007, according to the Inter-American Dialogue’s China database.
Although China has started to scale back its exposure to more risky Latin American borrowers, such as Venezuela, it provided an $11bn currency swap arrangement last year to bolster Argentina’s sagging reserves.
Both reactors will be built by state-owned China National Nuclear Corp in co-operation with Argentina’s state-owned Nucleoeléctrica. When finished, they will roughly double the country’s nuclear power capacity provided by its existing three nuclear plants.
Chinese banks and companies will provide loans and investment to cover 85 per cent of the projects’ costs, with the loans to be paid back over 18 years with an annual interest rate below 6.5 per cent, according to Argentine media.
CNNC’s domestic state-owned rival, China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN), will apply to UK regulators next year for approval of its similar nuclear power technology as it seeks to build more plants in Britain.
CGN has already agreed to take a one-third stake in the French group EDF’s £18bn Hinkley Point power station, and wants to build a series of new reactors in the UK.
Analysts say success in exporting its nuclear technology to Britain will help China sell more nuclear plants around the world because of the perceived rigour of the UK’s regulatory regime.
“We have our first foot in the UK,” Zheng Dongshan, senior vice-president at CGN, told the Financial Times during a visit to the UK last month. “This could have a good effect to kick the door of other countries.”
Chinese economic planners have identified more than 60 countries between China and Europe as potential customers. They hope to provide 30 of the 200 nuclear plants they estimate will be under construction in those countries by 2030……
In recent years Beijing has stepped in to provide financing and investment to several countries locked, like Argentina, out of international credit markets or shunned by global investors because of war, sanctions or corruption.
Latin America has been an area of particular interest to China because of the ruling Communist party’s desire to expand Chinese influence into America’s traditional “backyard”.
Argentina says signs nuclear plant construction deals with China, Reuters, BUENOS AIRES Nov 15 Argentina has signed two nuclear power plant construction deals with China for about $15 billion, the Argentine government said in a statement on Sunday, calling the deals “a fundamental step toward diversifying our energy matrix.”…...”Between both deals we are talking about financing of close to $15 billion” over 18 years, the Argentine statement said. (Reporting by Maximilian Heath; Editing by Leslie Adler)
Turbulent Times for Brazil’s Nuclear Projects, Carnegie Foundation, TOGZHAN KASSENOVA October 29, 2015 “……….Othon was at the heart of Brazil’s nuclear program during the military government that lasted until 1985, and he remained indispensable for the decades that followed. In 2005, he became the chief executive of Eletronuclear, an operator of nuclear power plants and a subsidiary of Eletrobras, a state-controlled power company. Eletronuclear operates Brazil’s two nuclear power plants—Angra 1 and Angra 2—and is building a third plant in the picturesque region of Angra dos Reis, not far from Rio de Janeiro. Work on Angra 3 began in 1984. But after two years and the amassing of 70 percent of the equipment at the site, construction was suspended. Only after twenty-four years, in 2010, did construction resume on Angra 3.
The corruption charges against Othon stemmed from the construction of Angra 3. It was while he headed Eletronuclear that Othon was accused of receiving bribes from companies vying for Eletronuclear’s contracts. He was arrested on July 28 as part of an operation called Radioactivity, the sixteenth stage in Operation Car Wash.
Othon is currently accused of receiving 4.8 million Brazilian reais (or approximately $1.2 million) in bribes through Aratec Engenharia, a company he owned. Brazilian media report that Othon’s company accepted payments for the development of turbines that generate electricity using river flow.
Othon’s arrest is not the only nuclear dimension of Brazil’s corruption scandal. Marcelo Odebrecht, whose eponymous company is Brazil’s largest construction conglomerate, was arrested on corruption charges in June. His company is accused of paying bribes to Petrobras executives to gain lucrative contracts, overcharging Petrobras for construction projects, and siphoning off illegal profits to politicians who, in turn, facilitated the conglomerate’s operations.
Odebrecht is one of the largest companies in South America. With operations in 21 countries and a workforce of 168,000, the equivalent of the population of a medium-sized U.S. city, it has been involved in major infrastructure projects in places as diverse as Saudi Arabia and Angola.
Odebrecht is the main contractor for Brazil’s nuclear submarine program. In 2009, when Brazil and France signed a cooperation agreement to build five submarines—four conventional and one nuclear—together, Odebrecht received a contract worth $1.9 billion to construct a new naval shipyard in Itaguaí. In 2013, Brazil’s then president Dilma Rousseff attended the shipyard’s inauguration ceremony. With Odebrecht’s CEO under arrest, the immediate future of the company is uncertain.
Brazil’s Nuclear Ambitions ………..
Funding was pouring steadily into the nuclear submarine program. Since 2009, Brazil has spent $3.2 billion to build a submarine shipyard and a naval base. Brazil’s leaders promoted the program as one that would once again prove Brazil’s technological might—just as Embraer planes did decades earlier.
In 2010, construction of the Angra 3 nuclear power plant resumed, and while the government never touted nuclear energy as its priority, commitments were made to build up to four to eight new nuclear power plants.
Five years later, a very different Brazil has emerged. Foreign policy, let alone nuclear diplomacy, has decreased significantly on the ladder of Brazilian government priorities. Unlike Lula, President Dilma from the very beginning was less inclined to invest in an active foreign policy. Now she is too preoccupied with domestic problems to spend time on diplomacy. With her approval ratings hovering at 8 percent, foreign policy is unlikely to become a priority for the current government in the near future. The possibility that the government will actively pay attention to matters of global nuclear politics is even less likely.
Judge accepts charges filed against former head of Brazil nuclear power firm Fox News, 3 Sept 15 SAO PAULO – A federal judge Thursday accepted the charges filed by prosecutors against the former head of Eletronuclear, the state-owned company that operates Brazil’s two nuclear power plants, for his suspected role in a bribery scandal.
Othon Luiz Pinheiro da Silva will face trial for allegedly taking 4.5 million reals ($1.22 million) in bribes from construction companies for contracts involving the construction of the Angra 3 nuclear plant in Rio de Janeiro.
Judge Sergio Fernando Moro said in a statement that he also accepted the charges filed against 14 others, including Flavio David Barra, the top energy executive at construction firm Andrade Gutierrez and da Silva’s daughter, Ana Cristina Toniolo…….http://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/09/03/judge-accepts-charges-filed-against-former-head-brazil-nuclear-power-firm/
Police ask that charges be filed against former head of Brazil’s nuclear power company http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2015/08/28/police-ask-that-charges-be-filed-against-former-head-brazil-nuclear-power/ SAO PAULO – Police say they have asked prosecutors to file charges against the former head of Eletronuclear, the state-owned company that operates Brazil’s two nuclear power plants, for his suspected role in a bribery scandal.
A federal police spokesman who was not authorized to be quoted by name said late Thursday that the department wants prosecutors to charge Othon Luiz Pinheiro da Silva with money laundering and corruption for allegedly taking as much as $10 million in bribes from construction companies for contracts involving the construction of the Angra 3 nuclear plant in Rio de Janeiro.
Da Silva was taken into custody in late July and one week later stepped down as Eletronuclear’s chief executive officer.
The spokesman said the department also wants charges filed against Flavio David Barra, the top energy executive at construction firm Andrade Gutierrez and da Silva’s daughter Ana Cristina Toniolo for their suspected roles in the scheme. Da Silva, his daughter and Barra have denied any wrongdoing.
During Brazil’s military regime from 1964-1985, the retired navy admiral and nuclear engineer headed Brazil’s secret program to master the technology needed to transform uranium into fuel to generate electric power in nuclear plants. Da Silva also oversaw the ongoing project to build a nuclear powered submarine.
The request for charges to be filed come as police and prosecutors try to determine whether a kickback scheme engulfing state-run oil company Petrobras extends to other state firms, including electric utilities company Eletrobras, of which Eletronuclear is a subsidiary.
Prosecutors have said the scheme involved roughly $2 billion in bribes and other illegal funds. Some of that money was allegedly funneled back to the ruling Workers’ Party and its allies’ campaign coffers. It also allegedly included the payment of bribes to Petrobras executives in return for inflated contracts.
For Alexandre Barros, a political risk consultant with the Brasilia-based firm Early Warning, the Eletronuclear case shows that Petrobras-like corruption and kickback schemes are “probably present in other state-run companies.”
“Schemes like these have long been part of our culture and I think other similar schemes start emerging all over the place”, Barros said “My big fear is that the armed forces may start feeling uneasy,” he added, without elaborating.
Ildo Sauer, a nuclear physicist who worked under Pinheiro in the late 1980s, says Brazil’s nuclear program is too expensive and has been co-opted by politicians and major construction and engineering firms.
“The problem is the lobbyists who see nuclear as a chance to build expensive megaprojects with little regard for cost,” said Sauer, a former head of natural gas at Petrobras. “It’s no longer about science or energy. It’s about politics and money, and that brings corruption.
Brazil Nuclear Leader’s Arrest May Stymie Atomic Ambitions Reuters, VOA, July 30, 2015 RIO DE JANEIRO— The arrest of the longtime head of Brazil’s nuclear energy utility on corruption charges could disrupt a plan to revive Brazilian nuclear ambitions whose roots go back to its atomic-bomb program in the 1980s. Continue reading
Solar cooling system keeps water at 9 degrees Celsius for up to three monthshttp://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150402081756.htm April 2, 2015 Source: Investigación y Desarrollo
Maintaining food in places where high temperatures prevail, using little energy at a low cost, it is now possible with Mexican technology, thanks to the creation of a solar cooling system designed by Susana Elvia Toledo Flores.
The prototype developed in the Research Department in Zeolites, at the Institute of Science of the Meritorious University of Puebla (BUAP), in center Mexico, works 24 hours and keeps the cold for up to three months.
The researcher developed the prototype in the Black Mountain Range of the state, where she has achieve to maintain water at nine degrees Celsius “with that temperature we can cool food, though the goal is to get as low as five, with this fish can be preserved without denaturing its proteins.”
The BUAP design is inexpensive, easy to manufacture and environmentally beneficial. “Normal cooling systems use chlorofluorocarbon chemicals that destroy the ozone layer and contribute to greenhouse gases, ours is friendly to the environment,” explains Toledo Flores.
It works with solar radiation and the cooling is achieved by means of a thermodynamic adsorption-desorption cycle lasting 24 hours. Methanol is used as a refrigerant and as zeolite (mineral) as an adsorbent.
Toledo Flores says the system has two stages, during the day “warming, desorption and the period of condensation happens. Solar energy heats the zeolite and increases the methanol vapor pressure, the refrigerant is condensed and stored in a tank flowing to the evaporator. ”
Overnight the cooling process is achieved, adsorption and evaporation period is performed. “The adsorbent bed temperature decreases after sunset, therefore, the refrigerant pressure is reduced and evaporates while the absorbent is cooled. During this period the coolant begins to evaporate and is again adsorbed by zeolite generating cooling temperatures of five degrees Celsius. The adsorption process continues all night until morning. ”
The equipment is composed of a solar collector, adsorbent bed, condenser and evaporator. To build it, the researcher calculates the amount of water to be cooled, thereby knows how many zeolite to use. She also considers the room temperature, in this case of 20 degrees Celsius.
Furthermore, the system “is not only designed to cool foods. It may also serve as an air conditioning, for example, in communities like Tecali de Herrera, Puebla, where there are areas without electricity and the system could adapt well to preserve their foods and medicine, bringing them better quality of life,” says Toledo Flores.
The project was presented at the International Congress of Solar Energy at Germany.
Costa Rica powered 100% by renewables for first 75 days of 2015 http://reneweconomy.com.au/2015/costa-rica-powered-100-by-renewables-for-first-75-days-of-2015 By Sophie Vorrath on 19 March 2015 The Latin American country of Costa Rica has achieved the milestone of generating 100 per cent of its energy from renewable resources, with a combination of hydropower and geothermal for 75 days in a row, the the state-owned Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) said.
Boosted by good rains at four of he country’s main hydroelectric plants, ICE said that, according to National Electric System figures, it had not been necessary to use hydrocarbons to supply the country’s grid at all in 2015, for the months of January, February and so far in March.
“With these (rain) conditions and the reserves accumulated to date, the ICE estimates that the downward trend in rates for all consumers will continue in the second quarter,” the power agency was quoted as saying in the Latin American Herald Tribune.
Of course, Costa Rica already has an outstanding record on efficient, clean and cheap electricity generation, ranking No. 2 in Latin America for providing a household coverage rate of 99.4 per cent at some of the region’s lowest prices.
According to the transnational institute, 250kWh would be enough satisfy the monthly needs of low- and middle-income Costa Rican households, at a cost of around 7 per cent of the minimum salary.
And their record on renewables is very good too. The country generated as much as 80 per cent of its electricity from hydro power as recently as last year – although recent droughts had led to the back-up use of diesel fuel.
And in 2010 it was reported that about 13 per cent of the Latin American nation’s energy came from geothermal.
Now, Costa Rica is in the process of adding several big new geothermal plants, after a $US958 million proposal was approved by the government in mid-2014.
The project, which is being co-funded by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency and the European Investment Bank, is expected to be located in Guanacaste near Rincón de la Vieja.
The first plants are expected to generate about 55MW and cost around $333 million to build. Two other 50MW plants will be built as well, about 40km from the Pailas II plants.
Once operational, it is expected the plants could generate electricity at about five cents per kilowatt-hour.
Rising UV radiation prompts skin cancer fears in Chile http://www.news24.com/Green/News/Rising-UV-radiation-prompts-skin-cancer-fears-in-Chile-20141124 Santiago – Cancer experts in Chile are warning people to limit their exposure to the sun as dangerously high levels of ultraviolet radiation are expected over the next few months.
A recently released report indicates the a hole in the ozone layer, which is normally situated over Antarctica, is moving towards the South American country.
Chilean’s might have to stay indoors this summer as experts warn that the country will be blasted by extremely high levels of ultraviolet radiation.
According to a study from Chile’s national cancer corporation, or Conac, the massive hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica is moving closer towards the South American country.
Conac’s Doctor Ernesto Gramsch says the rise in radiation levels is alarming. In October, UV levels were 175 higher than they were in October of last year, which was 10 or 15% higher than the year before that. So this year it’s been a little higher, almost 30% higher than in previous years.”
Gramsch says that rise is also due to shifts in climatic wind patterns which have thinned out ozone gases over Chile in recent years. And with less protection from harmful UV rays, the number of skin cancer cases are on the rise.
Dr Cecilia Orlandi says she has seen the number of patients double since 2000.
“The number of skin cancer cases has been increasing, which yes, we can detect at a fairly early stage. But cancers from epithelioma basal cells and squamous cells have been increasing as well, and those are directly related to exposure to ultraviolet rays A and B”, Said Orlandi.
Outside Chileans are bracing for a harsh summer.
But according to a recent United Nations report, a ray of hope is slowly emerging. Moves to tackle climate change have resulted in the ozone layer finally starting to recover, with estimates that it will be back at 1980 levels by 2050.
Biopower, also known as biomass power or bioenergy, is the use of any organic material to generate electricity. The U.S. has long been the global leader, but the report suggests outdated infrastructure and a bloated existing capacity that has saturated the market will lead to Americans being overtaken in four years’ time……http://www.ibtimes.com/brazil-overtake-us-leading-market-renewable-energy-metric-1724500
Dear Evo Morales,
First of all we would like to emphasize that those who sign this letter consider themselves to be friends of the Bolivian people. We applaud what your government has done over the years for the welfare of the people of Bolivia, for the recovery of control over your natural resources as well as for social justice and the redistribution of wealth. We also support the strong stance you and your government have taken on the protection of the environment, with the institution of the Day of Mother Earth and the acts against the exploitation of food resources for purposes other than the nourishment of the people. Moreover, we have been fighting for years, in our countries and internationally, against military and civilian nuclear energy.
In this light, as friends, we have been surprised by the announcement of your government’s plans to start the process of building a nuclear plant in Bolivia.
We believe this to be a move in the wrong direction and we wish to explain why in the following few points. Continue reading
Extreme levels of UV radiation in Arequipa, Peru This Week, By Agnes Rivera, 8 Nov 14 The coming months will bring the levels up to 16, the highest in the world……..According to the Regional Health Management of Environmental Health residents in Arequipa should take extra precaution this season towards UV protection.
Executive director of said agency, Zacarías Madariaga, warns that during the months of November and December, Peru’s southern region could reach radiation levels of 16, which would be the highest in the world.
“Usually the high rates are 12 and 14. However, at this time of year there are extreme levels,” says Madariaga, as quote
http://gizmodo.com/the-abandoned-communist-reactor-that-could-have-killed-1644415889The Abandoned Communist Nuclear Reactor That Could Have Killed Us All (Great pictures) Gizmodo 10 Oct 14
Ashley Feinberg Just 90 miles off the tip of Florida lies a half-baked, abandoned relic of the Cold War-era arms race—what was once going to be a joint Cuban-Soviet nuclear reactor. And thank god it never panned out. Because not only do we now have these incredible shots from photographer Darmon Richter, but every last aspect of this thing would have been a total and utter disaster………the whole project spent nearly a decade in limbo, until finally, in 2000, Fidel Castro told Vladamir Putin that he was done with the two countries’ former joint-dream. Now, the power plant at Juragua was officially little more than a testament to what could have been—which is a very good thing. Because as it turns out, “what could have been” basically entailed wildly dangerous conditions and potentially a whole mess of destruction.
Chilean geography makes nation the top market for renewable energy, Chicago Tribune
By Matt Craze, Bloomberg News,Bloomberg SANTIAGO, Chile — With the sunniest desert on Earth, a windswept coast and limited fossil fuel supplies, northern Chile has become the world’s top market for renewable energy.
The government of President Michelle Bachelet has approved 76 solar and wind projects since taking power March 11. Renewable energy developers are pursuing contracts to deliver electricity to mines run by by companies including Anglo American and BHP Billiton, which consume a third of the country’s power.
“Chile is the market with the highest level of activity in the world,” Ben Warren, head of Ernst & Young’s renewables team, said in a telephone interview from London………
“Despite being a small market we attracted all of the players because we have significant growth rates,” Finat said. “We have clear economic rules and political stability. And there is a gigantic amount of untapped renewable energy resources.” http://www.chicagotribune.com/sns-wp-blm-news-bc-chile07-20141007-story.html
Chile An Emerging Solar PV Powerhouse http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=4257 Chile installed 150MW of solar panels in the first quarter of this year and has a further 380MW of PV under construction.
According to GTM Research’s Latin America PV Playbook, Q2 2014; the 150MW tally is triple the amount that any Latin American country has ever installed in a single quarter.
A major contributor to the impressive first quarter total was SunEdison’s 50.7 MW San Andres solar farm; the largest merchant solar plant in Latin America to date. SunEdison recently announced it has sold a majority stake in the facility to a group of investors.
GTM Research forecasts Chile will install 244 megawatts of PV this year; some of which support the nation’s energy-hungry mining industry. Last year, Chile’s renewable energy capacity jumped 40 percent to just over one gigawatt. The nation’s renewable energy target demands utilities source 20 percent of their power from renewable sources – excluding hydro – by 2025.
GTM Research considers Latin America to be the “global frontier” for unsubsidized solar markets.
“With high insolation levels and growing demand, it is positioned to be one of the most attractive regions on the planet for solar development.”
Chile has a population of more than 17 million. According to Wikipedia, its electricity generation sector relies mainly on hydro-electric power (33% of installed capacity as of May, 2012), oil (13%), gas (30%) and coal (20%). Much of its fossil fuel is imported.
The nation’s newly elected president, Michelle Bachelet, this week announced a proposed carbon tax. Under the proposal, thermal power plants with a generation capacity of at least 50 megawatts will pay a tax of $5 per metric tonne of carbon dioxide emitted. The carbon tax would be the first to be implemented in South America.
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