The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

UK under pressure to buy nuclear reactors – from GE/Hitachi, Westinghouse/Toshiba and Areva/Mitsubishi

Abe,-Shinzo-nuke-1Hitachi has made no secret of its motive for trying to export reactor technology saying it needed a fresh outlet for reactors after Tokyo shut down Japan’s nuclear plants

failure to agree a final deal between EDF Energy and the Government on Hinkley “threatens not only the first new nuclear power station for a generation, but potentially all those that will come in its wake,”

ABWRs – one of the least reliable reactors in the world nuClear news No.77, September 2015

Introduction – Anglesey: a victim of Abenomics?  Exporting nuclear technology is a key element of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic strategy – “Abenomics”. Nuclear exports are seen as a way to rev up Japan’s long struggling economy, and tackle the persistent trade deficit made worse by the
need to import energy – especially Liquid Natural Gas – to replace reactors shutdown after Fukushima.

Japan’s top three nuclear engineering companies — Hitachi, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Toshiba — which had a combined profit in their energy and infrastructure businesses of about 242 billion yen ($3.14 billion) in the fiscal year 2010/11, were keener than ever to look overseas for business after Fukushima put the domestic nuclear industry on hold.

The Japanese government, at least in the immediate aftermath of the Tsunami, made it clear that it would be difficult for new reactors to be built at home, so a gradual phase-out of nuclear power is inevitable, as old reactors are retired. But when former Prime Minister Naoto Kan tried to shut down efforts to continue nuclear exports in July 2011, many within his own party urged him to reconsider. (1)

Hitachi has made no secret of its motive for trying to export reactor technology saying it needed a fresh outlet for reactors after Tokyo shut down Japan’s nuclear plants and cancelled plans for twelve new reactors following the Fukushima disaster in 2011. But under Mr Abe’s pro-nuclear Government the pressure has been taken off Hitachi at home, and may make it less willing to accept thin pickings in Britain. (2)

However, pro-nuclear commentator Steve Kidd writing in Nuclear Engineering International says: “…doubts remain about whether the (Japanese nuclear) industry has a future. The Japanese public is now afraid of nuclear power, and the government and regulators have lost their confidence.
It will take a long time to restore this and without it there is little prospect of a prosperous future. There were 54 reactors operating before Fukushima. This number has been reduced to 43 by the demise of the six units at Fukushima Daiichi and five other older units that have commenced decommissioning. Of the 43 remaining, there are some that are very unlikely to restart owing to either serious seismic issues or adverse local public opinion (for example, the four units at Fukushima Daini). However, 24 units have already applied to the new Nuclear Regulatory Agency (NRA) to go through the stages necessary to gain approval for restart. Once this is gained, the reactors have to get the approval of the local prefectural authorities to recommence operation. This second stage may, in fact, be more difficult than the first.
Getting local approvals will be challenging for many of the reactors arguably best-placed to come back online. For example, the two advanced boiling water reactors (ABWRs) at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa are newish, large units but suffer from Tepco’s very poor public image. Kidd says if more than half of the 43 operable units return to service, it may be regarded as a good result. Some observers doubt that even this is achievable given the possible barriers.
At best, maybe four units will return in calendar year 2015, with a similar rate for the next few years. It may take until the early 2020s before the final unit that can return to service actually does so. Assuming that the current commitment to providing 20% of Japan’s electricity with nuclear remains in place new reactors will also be required. At the moment, only Ohma 1 – an ABWR – is under construction. It should come into service in the early 2020s and will be the first reactor to be 100% fuelled by MOX fuel. The other unit under construction at the time of Fukushima, Shimane 3 (also an ABWR), has been suspended until Shimane 2 achieves the NRA’s approval for restart after a 15m high sea wall has been constructed to protect the site. Beyond these two, there are another nine ABWRs planned or proposed, and three Advanced PWRs, but further progress on these is surely dependent on the current reactor restart programme being successful. (3) (4)
Japan argues that its latest technology includes safeguards not present in the decades-old reactors at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant, which continues to leak radiation. Officials argue, their nation has learned valuable lessons — and has a good nuclear track record withstanding most earlier earthquakes. They need foreign buyers so that they can showcase this new technology. Clearly demonstrating that ABWR technology is acceptable abroad will be a key part of the Japanese industry’s strategy to regain acceptance at home. It could help improve TEPCO’s image and ease the re-start of two ABWRs at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, and allow the new reactor at Ohma 1 to come on-line, and perhaps eventually allow some of the nine planned or proposed ABWRs to start construction. In 2013, Abe concluded Japan’s first nuclear reactor export agreement with Turkey for $22 billion and others are pending with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, while the prime minister has also lobbied governments in Central Europe, Vietnam and Indonesia. Three major nuclear vendors with significant Japanese stakes have bagged contracts in India estimated at roughly $60 billion – GE/Hitachi, Westinghouse/Toshiba and Areva/Mitsubishi — and all produce key reactor components in Japan. This is a remarkable turnaround from 2011 when the prospects for post-Fukushima Japan relying on nuclear energy, let alone exporting it, looked unlikely. (5) ……….
Does Wylfa depend on Hinkley? Hitachi is said to be monitoring the Government’s fractious talks with the French nuclear group EDF over the Hinkley Point C project. “EDF is the front-runner for us. We’re watching the strike price conditions very carefully,” said a senior Hitachi executive in Tokyo in April 2013. According to the Nuclear Industry Association failure to agree a final deal between EDF Energy and the Government on Hinkley “threatens not only the first new nuclear power station for a generation, but potentially all those that will come in its wake,” he said.(17)

August 29, 2015 - Posted by | marketing, UK

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