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France phasing out nuclear power at home: happy to export it abroad

China, France sign deal to enhance cooperation on nuclear energy Xinhua | 2018-01-10 07:17 GUANGZHOU — A Chinese nuclear power operator signed an agreement Tuesday with a French energy organization to deepen cooperation on nuclear power technology.

The deal, between China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) and the French Alternative Energy and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), focuses on areas such as nuclear reactor technology, advanced fuels and materials, and nuclear fuel cycles.

Under the agreement, CGN and CEA will deepen cooperation in the upstream and downstream nuclear power industry chain, including reactor life management and the concept design of the fourth-generation nuclear energy technology.

He Yu, chairman of CGN, said the new agreement will enhance bilateral exchanges in nuclear power technology and open new space for Sino-French nuclear power cooperation.

Founded in 1994, CGN is the largest nuclear power operator in China, with 39,000 employees worldwide. It focuses on the development of clean energies such as nuclear power, nuclear fuel, wind power and solar power.

The CEA is a key organization in research, development and innovation in France. Its main areas include defense and security, nuclear and renewable energy, and physical and life sciences.

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201801/10/WS5a554d97a3102e5b17371b35.html

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January 9, 2018 Posted by | China, France, marketing | Leave a comment

Irish diplomats share international prize for negotiating nuclear weapons treaty

DisarmamentNegotiationTeamsJan2018_large

Ireland has been awarded a prestigious international peace prize.

The Irish disarmament delegation at the UN, along with six international partners, has been named as a winner of the Arms Control Person of the Year.

Diplomats from the disarmament delegations of Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, and South Africa, and Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez of Costa Rica won the poll ahead of eight other nominees.

It is for their leadership during the negotiations of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

The Tánaiste Simon Coveney welcomed the award, and said the situation in North Korea is a reminder of the risks and consequences of nuclear weapons.

Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, said: “In a year marked by rising tensions between the world’s nuclear-armed states, the negotiation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons stands out as a historic achievement.

“The strong affirmative vote for the disarmament teams from Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, and South Africa, and Ambassador Whyte Gómez, reflects their pivotal role in the negotiation of the treaty and the pursuit of a world without nuclear weapons.”

 

http://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/irish-diplomats-share-international-prize-for-negotiating-nuclear-weapons-treaty-822020.html

January 9, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Blockchain, Drones Are Strategies for Survival at Japan’s Tepco

Stephen Stapczynski

9 January 2018

(Bloomberg) — Shattered by the enormity of the Fukushima nuclear disaster and bleeding customers to nimbler rivals, Tokyo’s lumbering, 66-year-old electric-power behemoth has a new strategy for long-term survival: reinventing itself as a cutting-edge innovator.

Tepco, known formally as Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc., is scouring the periphery of the industry for the latest ideas and technologies — using blockchain to manage power flows is one possibility. The company is hunting both overseas and around Japan for startups and other investments with the potential to revolutionize the power sector.

Screenshot from 2018-01-09 23:02:42

“We must ensure our survival because we’re responsible for the Fukushima cleanup and revitalization,” Shinichiro Kengaku, who leads a Tepco task force that invests in foreign companies, said in an interview. “We realized we had to be more proactive in pushing innovation. We want to be the ones disrupting the industry, not the ones being disrupted.”

The long-term viability of Japan’s biggest utility has been in doubt as reforms and rapid technological advancements sparked by the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl upset the traditional order. After operating with almost no competition since the end of World War II, Tepco has lost nearly 3 million households and small-businesses since deregulation in April 2016 let customers switch power providers.

Compared with its rivals, Tepco’s situation is particularly dire. Its stock price is down 78 percent since the Fukushima meltdown left it on the hook for 16 trillion yen ($142 billion) in cleanup costs. Other utilities and regional power companies, which share 4 trillion yen in costs related to Fukushima, are down about 30 percent since the disaster. Tepco also lags behind utilities in other nations in weaving renewable energy into its supply chain, according an October report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

Screenshot from 2018-01-09 23:04:12

Besides searching for innovative technology to help shore up long-term prospects, Tepco hopes to boost its profit in the short-term by selling natural gas to households, restarting its remaining atomic facility in Niigata prefecture, investing in overseas power projects and partnering with rivals to reduce fuel-import costs.

“In the new electricity market that’s emerging in Japan, old utilities face being outmaneuvered by nimbler, more innovative companies using new technology,” said Simon Nicholas, an analyst at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. “For a company like Tepco, it would be hard to see how it could pay off its Fukushima costs if it remained wedded to the old model. Tepco and the others will have to innovate in order to thrive going forward.”

One such innovation might be virtual power plants, which aggregate small bits of electricity to send back into the grid or on to consumers. Tepco announced a partnership with Nissan Motor Co. last year to test a system that uses batteries in electric vehicles to create such a network.

Five ‘D’s

But Tepco won’t have the field to itself. Japanese companies from trading houses to mobile-phone carriers are testing VPP systems, showing how quickly utilities could lose their grip on the market to new competition.

Tepco’s Kengaku distilled the challenge down to what he called the five D’s — de-centralization, deregulation, digitalization, de-carbonization and democratization, forces that he said will eventually disrupt the industry’s current structure. One result will be the emergence of “prosumers” who produce and consume their own electricity through distributed generation systems, increasing the number of ways customers can receive their power and disrupting the monopoly held by utilities, he said.

The path is similar to what happened in developed nations around the world, including the U.K. and Germany, where companies use distributed generation systems and employ energy-efficiency measures, reducing the need to buy electricity from traditional utilities.

Tepco’s task force, which started in April 2016, has invested in four overseas ventures, including a German company that uses blockchain technology to manage power flows and a U.K. venture that uses “smart home batteries” to create virtual power plants. The Tokyo-based company also co-created Free Electrons, an alliance of utilities around the world committed to supporting energy startups. And it’s the only Japanese utility in the Energy Impact Partners coalition, a private equity firm that invests in technology throughout the power supply chain.

Drone Highways

Tepco said in March that it partnered with mapping company Zenrin to offer services that could lead to the creation of “drone highways” that ensure safe flights for small-scale autonomous aircraft, compiling a 3D database of potential obstructions such as transmission lines and poles.

The utility’s strategy mirrors attempts by rivals to adjust to deregulation. Tokyo Gas Co., which has taken more of Tepco’s lost customers than any other competitor, announced in December that it set up a fund based in California to invest in next-generation energy technology.

Chubu Electric began a program for startups to submit innovative energy ideas, and the winners will get funding or even be folded into Chubu Electric’s business operations. Kansai Electric Power Co. is sending some of its employees to startups to work for a short time, learn about the company and come back with new ideas.

“The utility business model used to be about getting infrastructure built at the lowest cost and taking advantage of economies of scale,” Sonia Aggarwal, vice president of Energy Innovation Policy & Technology LLC, said in a phone interview. Now “it’s more about taking the best advantage of the infrastructure that we’ve already built and trying to incorporate new technology.”

 

https://www.bloombergquint.com/technology/2018/01/09/blockchain-drones-are-strategies-for-survival-at-japan-s-tepco

January 9, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

An Open Hatch Causes 2.9 Billion Dollars Of Damage To Indian Nuclear Submarine

The first ballistic missile submarine of India is out of commission for almost ten months. The submarine INS Arihant was flooded with saltwater after the negligence of staff who did not close the hatch properly. The damages will be repaired in almost a year’s time. The submarine was designed to work as a floating arsenal of nuclear weapon and guaranteed a retaliatory strike in case of a surprise attack.

According to an Indian Navy source, a hatch left opened on the rear side of the ship that allowed saltwater to enter the propulsion area while the ship was at the harbor. The submarine, Arihant, was in repairs for ten months while the water was pumped out of it and pipes were replaced. Indian authorities also believe that the pipes that were exposed to the saltwater cannot be trusted to work efficiently. Particularly those pipes that carry pressurized water coolant to and from the ship’s 83-megawatt nuclear reactor. Failing pipes will not only endanger the ship’s crew but also the whole submarine and the nuclear weapons on it.

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The Arihant was built after investing $2.9 billion on it as a result of a submarine technology program. Its construction began in 2009 and the ship was commissioned to Indian Navy in 2016. The modified version of Russian Akula-1 class nuclear attack submarine was able to accommodate twelve K-15 short-range nuclear missiles or four K-4 intermediate-range nuclear missiles. K-15 missiles, target Pakistan with their 434-mile range while K-4 missiles can reach all of Pakistan and even to other Indian rival’s capital, Beijing. A second missile submarine, INS Arihant was launched in December and another set of 3 submarines are also planned.

India has a “No First Use” policy regarding nuclear weapons and promises to use nuclear weapons only when attacked by them. It is the sixth nation in the world that has put ballistic weapons at sea. The strategy is called Continuous At Sea Deterrence and is employed by several countries including the USA. It requires only one nuclear-missile armed submarine at sea at all times to repel a surprise attack.

Keeping the hatches under strict check and not leaving them open because they can potentially sink a ship is basic common sense. Why did the propulsion section and nuclear reactor on the 364-foot long submarine was left unattended so the flooding went unnoticed? Only investigations will tell!

 

January 9, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

US to loosen nuclear weapons constraints and develop more ‘usable’ warheads

in Washington

January 9, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Russia may mediate nuke talks between the two Koreas – top MP

Published time: 9 Jan, 2018

https://www.rt.com/politics/415369-korea-nuclear-russia-mediator/

Moscow may act as mediator in the denuclearization talks between the two Koreas, as the nuclear issue affects Russia’s national interests, Leonid Slutsky, head of the State Duma’s International Affairs Committee, said.

“It highly likely that efforts by international mediators will be required to promote the issue of denuclearization and the nuclear dossier” on the Korean peninsula, Slutsky said, as cited by TASS. “Considering the fact that this issue directly affects Russia’s interests, primarily because of the territorial proximity to our borders, Russia can play such a role,” he said. 

Russian parliamentarians welcome “any kind of dialogue between Seoul and Pyongyang,” Slutsky said as he commented on the peace talks between South- and North Korea, which resumed this week after a two-year break. However, he pointed out that “it’s early to talk about specific results” of the intra-Korean negotiations.

Russia has constructive relations with both Seoul and Pyongyang and “remains a consistent supporter of the notion that all disputes on the Korean peninsula should be decided behind the negotiating table and that escalation of tensions may lead to unpredictable consequences for the international community,” the MP said.

Slutsky also addressed the Trump administration, which threatened to use force in order to make North Korea curb its nuclear and ballistic missile program, saying: “As for the US, which considers itself to be the center of the world, in my opinion, it should now curtail its anti-Pyongyang rhetoric, stop provoking North Korea and wait for the first results of the inter-Korean talks.”

Following talks between Seoul and Pyongyang on Tuesday, it was announced that the sides agreed to hold consultations between the military officials of the two countries in order to defuse tensions on the border, as well as to intensify exchanges in other areas.

January 9, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

China must exercise caution in lifting ban on import of Japanese food

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According to Kyodo News Agency, China and Japan recently held talks on whether to ease or lift the ban on food imports from 10 Japanese prefectures imposed after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, with the Chinese government offering to set up a working group on the issue. There has been no official confirmation from the Chinese side.
 
The earthquake, which rocked Japan in March, 2011, caused a radiation leak from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station after which the Chinese government immediately banned food from Japanese prefectures surrounding the facility. Neither Beijing nor Tokyo has released any statement on lifting the ban, yet the Kyodo News Agency report attracted wide attention.
 
Since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned to power in late 2012, rebuilding people’s confidence in affected areas both at home and abroad has become his major task. During the lower house election in 2014, Abe tasted grilled fish in Fukushima. When Britain’s Prince William visited Japan in 2015, Abe invited him to visit Fukushima and enjoy local food with ingredients from local producers. Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono brought Fukushima peach juice to British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson during his visit to the UK in December 2017.
 
The Abe administration has been proactively promoting the safety of Fukushima food on public occasions, with little success. According to research revealed by the NHK Broadcasting Culture Research Institute in 2016, many people are feeling more anxious about radiation in Fukushima. According to Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, China, the US, Russia, South Korea, Singapore and other countries have kept their bans on importing food produced in some regions or sometimes from the whole country. This has been an awkward reality for Abe’s administration.
 
It remains to be seen whether the working group will be eventually established. But it is an indisputable fact that Abe’s administration has repeatedly requested the Chinese government to lift the ban on food imports over the past few years. For example, during the agricultural vice-ministerial meeting in Beijing in 2016, the Japanese side had hoped that China will remove food import restrictions. However, China did not give any specific reply. When Toshihiro Nikai, secretary general of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party, visited Beijing in December last year, he also expressed his wish of easing the import ban to the head of China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.
 
It can be argued that China is Japan’s primary destination for food exports from affected areas including Fukushima. This is not only because China has a huge market, but also because any Chinese move will be likely followed by other Asian countries.
 
With recent improvements in Sino-Japanese ties, the possibility of setting up a special working group cannot be ruled out. However, even if the group is established, Beijing may not completely lift import restrictions on Japanese food. On the one hand, the key to lifting the ban lies in whether food products from Japan can meet Chinese standards. On the other, Chinese people’s doubts over the food in the affected areas also play a crucial role. Even if imported food from Japan’s disaster-affected region passed Chinese tests, it is not very likely to appear on Chinese dining tables given the distrust of the Chinese public.
 
China and Japan are lately cooperating in a number of fields including economy and politics. Import and export of agricultural products is a vital link in the cooperation trail. According to a Xinhua report in March, some food from Japan’s affected areas was flowing to China via e-commerce platforms, posing a severe safety risk to Chinese consumers. Therefore, when it comes to lifting the ban on food from disaster affected areas, China should exercise caution. Political interaction is important, but people’s well-being is above all.
By Chen Yang Source:Global Times Published
The author is a PhD candidate at the Graduate School of Sociology at Toyo University.

January 9, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Iran threatens to reconsider cooperation with IAEA

TEHRAN – Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi cautioned on Monday that Tehran might reconsider cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog if the United States fails to respect its commitments under the nuclear agreement.

Talking to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director Yukiya Amano on the phone, Salehi said in case Washington falls short of its obligations, Iran will adopt measures that can affect its cooperation with the UN body, IRNA reported.

Iran, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, Germany and the European Union signed the nuclear deal, also called the JCPOA, back in 2015.

MH/PA
Article source: http://www.tehrantimes.com/news/420146/Iran-threatens-to-reconsider-cooperation-with-IAEA

January 9, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Europe, Iran to discuss nuclear deal Thursday: EU

Europe, Iran to discuss nuclear deal Thursday: EU

BRUSSELS: The EU has called Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to talks in Brussels on Thursday with his French, British and German counterparts in efforts to preserve the hard-fought deal to curb Tehran´s nuclear ambitions.

The meeting between Zarif and the three European parties to the landmark 2015 agreement comes after Iran warned the world on Monday to prepare for the withdrawal of the United States.

Thursday´s meeting comes against a backdrop of high political tension in Iran following recent protests which claimed 21 lives, though Zarif has dismissed the idea the unrest would be on the agenda.

Iran signed the accord with six world powers, agreeing to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of many international sanctions, but US President Donald Trump has condemned the deal and threatened to pull out.

“The EU High Representative Federica Mogherini will convene a meeting with ministers of foreign affairs of E3 countries — France, Jean-Yves Le Drian, Germany, Sigmar Gabriel, and the UK Boris Johnson — and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Thursday 11 January in Brussels,” the 28-member bloc said in a statement.

“The meeting will take place in the context of the ongoing work to ensure a full and continued implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” the statement added, using the official name for the deal.

The EU, which played an important role in brokering the Iran nuclear deal, has been lobbying US lawmakers not to pull out and so far Trump has continued to waive nuclear-related sanctions at regular intervals as required under the agreement._ AFP

http://www.thevoicetimes.com/europe-iran-discuss-nuclear-deal-thursday-eu/

January 9, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In rare inter-Korean talks, North pledges ‘invaluable’ gift

SEOUL (Reuters) – The last North Korean to cross this heavily militarized border was shot by his own comrades, and barely escaped with his life.

But when a hefty man proudly sporting lapel pins with the beaming faces of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il led a delegation of about 20 North Korean officials over the tense border dividing the two Koreas on Tuesday, they did so to praise from both countries.

The visit – part of the first official talks between the two Koreas in two years – was in stark contrast to the past year of spiraling tensions, punctuated by the dramatic defection of a North Korean soldier in November. It was just meters away from where the diplomatic delegations sipped cups of red ginseng tea on Tuesday.

(For an interactive graphic on inter-Korean talks click tmsnrt.rs/2t8i6no)

Arriving in only Western-style business suits despite sub-zero weather and snow piled on the ground, the head of the North Korean delegation referenced the increased tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

“This winter has seen more snowstorms than ever, and rivers and mountains across the country are frozen,” said Ri Son Gwon, chairman of the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland.

“It would not be an exaggeration to say that inter-Korean ties were even more frozen, but public yearning for improved relations was so strong that today’s precious event was brought about,” he quipped.

“We came to this meeting with the thought of giving our brethren, who have high hopes for this dialogue, invaluable results as the first present of the year,” he continued in opening remarks, as his officials opened brown paper folders.

Despite scepticism from allies in the United States and Japan, officials in South Korea hope the talks lead to more than just friendly photo ops, including substantive improvements in relations between Seoul and Pyongyang.

Just before Seoul’s delegation drove into the demilitarized zone, some 20 South Koreans were seen holding up a banner that read: “We wish the success of the high-ranking inter-Korean talks”. One man was spotted waving a flag with a unified Korean peninsula.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-southkorea-talks-scene/in-rare-inter-korean-talks-north-pledges-invaluable-gift-idUSKBN1EY0Q3?il=0

January 9, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Energy agency rejects Trump plan to prop up coal and nuclear power plants

The unexpected decision by the Republican-controlled body is a blow to the president’s high-profile mission to revive the struggling US coal industry

Tue 9 Jan ‘18

An independent energy agency on Monday rejected a Trump administration plan to bolster coal-fired and nuclear power plants with subsidies, dealing a blow to the president’s high-profile mission to revive the struggling coal industry.

The decision by the Republican-controlled Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) was unexpected and comes amid repeated promises by Trump to rejuvenate coal as the nation’s top power source. The industry has been besieged by multiple bankruptcies and a steady loss of market share as natural gas and renewable energy have flourished.

Energy secretary Rick Perry last year proposed fresh government support for coal-fired and nuclear power plants in an effort to slow the rate at which these units are being phased out, stating the output is needed to avoid power outages “in times of supply stress such as recent natural disasters”.

The plan would provide a lifeline to many ageing coal and nuclear plants that would otherwise go out of business, primarily due to the abundance of cheap natural gas and the plummeting cost of renewables.

The Department of Energy has noted that 531 coal-generating units were retired between 2002 and 2016, while eight nuclear reactors have announced retirement plans in the past year.

Donald Trump has vowed to arrest this decline and end the “war” on mining communities by repealing various environmental regulations put in place during the Obama administration.

But non-partisan expert analysis published last month calculated that the plan would cost US taxpayers about $10.6bn a year. And the money would be used to prop up some of the oldest and dirtiest power plants in the country, according to the joint report by research groups Climate Policy Initiative and Energy Innovation.

And in rejecting the proposal on Monday afternoon, the FERC declared that despite claims by the administration to the contrary, there is no evidence that any past or planned retirements of coal-fired power plants pose a threat to reliability of the nation’s electricity grid.

The administration’s plan was opposed by an unusual coalition of business and environmental groups that frequently disagree with each other. Critics said the plan would distort energy markets and raise prices for customers, especially in the northeastern and midwestern US. One called it “ludicrous” and perverse.

Energy secretary Rick Perry thanked the panel on Monday for addressing his proposal, which he said had initiated a national debate on the resiliency of the nation’s electricity system. The government has not released its own calculation of the cost of the proposal.

“What is not debatable is that a diverse fuel supply, especially with onsite fuel capability, plays an essential role in providing Americans with reliable, resilient and affordable electricity, particularly in times of weather-related stress like we are seeing now,” Perry said.

Perry was referring to his plan to compensate power plant owners that maintain a 90-day fuel supply protected against severe weather and other disruptions, a feature shared by coal and nuclear power but less apparent with renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power.

Energy providers outside of coal and nuclear have warned about interference in the free market and manufacturers with high energy needs said higher prices could be passed on to consumers.

Tech giant Apple weighed in Monday against the proposal, saying it would inhibit innovation and competition and interfere with plans to increase use of “clean energy” such as wind and solar power.

In its decision, the five-member energy panel essentially agreed with critics who said there was no evidence of a threat to the grid’s day-to-day reliability that would justify the emergency action Perry was seeking.

An energy department report last year called reliability “adequate”, citing significant additions to the grid from natural gas, wind, and solar.

FERC said in its decision that it is launching a new process to evaluate the resilience of the nation’s electric grid.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/08/donald-trump-coal-industry-plan-rejected-rick-perry

January 9, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tillerson Caught Under Trump’s Desk Disconnecting Button

 https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/tillerson-caught-under-trumps-desk-disconnecting-nuclear-button?mbid=nl_Borowitz%20010318&CNDID=30183386&spMailingID=12677942&spUserID=MTMzMTgzMDg3NDQ0S0&spJobID=1320241489&spReportId=MTMyMDI0MTQ4OQS2 By Andy Borowitz, January 3, 2018, 

January 9, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment