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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Thorium nuclear reactors? a very risky enterprise for Utah

crucially the technology, regulation, and business structures necessary to support a thorium reactor may not yet exist.

A coalition of South Carolina utilities developing what would have been the nation’s first new commercial nuclear reactor recently announced a decision to suspend that project partway through construction, following years of delay, billions of dollars in cost overruns. 

While a thorium reactor might avoid some of these challenges, others are likely systemic to the state of the nuclear power industry from a technological, regulatory, and business perspective, and would be hard for the counties to avoid. The counties may also have more proximate opportunities to achieve similar goals, including by facilitating or developing renewable energy infrastructure.

Will Utah counties fund thorium reactor? JDSUPRA,  PretiFlaherty 17 Aug 17, Could a coalition of rural counties in Utah and a startup company develop a thorium-fueled nuclear reactor for electric power and other purposes?

According to its website, the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition is currently comprised of seven counties in eastern Utah: Carbon, Daggett, Duchesne, Emery, San Juan, Sevier, and Uintah.  The website describes the Coalition’s main roles and mission as “to identify revenue-producing infrastructure assets that will benefit the region” and “to plan infrastructure corridors, procure funding, permit, design, secure rights-of-way and own such facilities,” with operation and maintenance possibly outsourced to third parties.

Apparently under consideration by the Coalition are energy projects, including a “thorium energy” project and a “hydrogen plant” project.  For example, the “Procurement” section of the Coalition’s website includes a Request for Qualifications for Project Analyst for Potential Thorium Energy and Hydrogen Plant Projects, as well as a Request for Qualifications Project Financial Analyst on Potential Thorium Energy Project.

Under the Project Analyst RFQ, which closed August 1, 2017,

The Coalition seeks an individual or team to act as a Project Analyst to advise it and its member counties on two proposed projects, how to evaluate emerging technologies, and the respective project teams. One project is a thorium energy facility for producing electricity, etc. as proposed by Alpha Tech Research Corporation. The second project consists of hydrogen plants to be used as fueling stations for hydrogen/electric semi-trucks as proposed by Nikola Motor Company, LLC.

Responsibilities defined in this original RFQ would include evaluation of the thorium energy and hydrogen plant projects, including an evaluation of “the feasibility and viability of projects in general, as well as the proposed projects, and determine how the Coalition and its members may use their assets to best benefit the public.”

According to its website, Alpha Tech Research Corp.’s motto is “Changing the face of nuclear power with clean, safe, molten salt reactor technology.”  But little other public information is easy to find on the company.

………crucially the technology, regulation, and business structures necessary to support a thorium reactor may not yet exist.

Fifteen days after the Project Analyst RFQ closed, the Coalition issued another request for qualifications “to seek an individual or team to act as a Project Analyst to advise it and its member counties on a proposed project related to thorium energy. In addition, the Coalition seeks guidance on how to evaluate emerging technologies, and companies or groups proposing projects to the Coalition. The thorium energy facility for producing electricity, etc. is proposed by Alpha Tech Research Corporation.” Proposals under this subsequent RFQ are due by 2:00 PM on October 2, 2017.  According to the Salt Lake Tribune, a coalition representative reported, “The coalition’s initial request for qualifications drew no adequate responses by its Aug. 1 deadline.”  (Query why not.)

It’s unclear how far the Utah counties’ efforts can go.  The coalition’s stated criteria for evaluating potential projects include requiring appropriate project benefits (such as facilitating needs in rural Utah that would otherwise go unaddressed), as well as avoidance of any “fatal flaws” (such as “obvious non-Coalition sponsor that should take the lead”, project success unlikely” and “low perceived benefit compared to cost.”)  The coalition is presumably at the stage where it is seeking expert advice to help it evaluate the thorium energy project under these criteria.

In its materials, the coalition emphasizes its expectation to rely on public-private partnerships, in part to allocate project risk to private entities with special expertise in taking those risks.  But developing the first commercial thorium reactor inherently involves a variety of risks — including developing a technology that works, securing all necessary regulatory approvals, and having business or financial arrangements in place that make the project a success.  These risks could pan out in the counties’ favor — but might not.  A coalition of South Carolina utilities developing what would have been the nation’s first new commercial nuclear reactor recently announced a decision to suspend that project partway through construction, following years of delay, billions of dollars in cost overruns.  While a thorium reactor might avoid some of these challenges, others are likely systemic to the state of the nuclear power industry from a technological, regulatory, and business perspective, and would be hard for the counties to avoid. The counties may also have more proximate opportunities to achieve similar goals, including by facilitating or developing renewable energy infrastructure……http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/will-utah-counties-fund-thorium-reactor-26541/

August 18, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, technology, thorium, USA | Leave a comment

USA power utilities have a long history of abandoning nuclear projects

US POWER COMPANIES HAVE A HISTORY OF WALKING AWAY FROM NUCLEAR PROJECTS, Platts Snapshot. William Freebairn, senior managing editor, Platts Nuclear Publications, August 17, 2017  

After spending close to $10 billion, two South Carolina power companies recently walked away from a half-finished nuclear power plant they were building, and a decision is expected by the end of August about a Georgia project. William Freebairn explains how the story of the Summer project in South Carolina demonstrates the capital-intensive nature of nuclear energy and the substantial risks of cutting-edge nuclear plant design. Will the Vogtle project in Georgia join the ranks of abandoned projects in the US?……

SANTEE COOPER AND SOUTH CAROLINA ELECTRIC AND GAS ABANDONED SUMMER EXPANSION ON JULY 31….

 
OWNERS OF VOGTLE PROJECT IN GEORGIA EXPECTED TO ANNOUNCE PROJECT DECISION BY END OF AUGUST
The owners of the Vogtle project in Georgia are expected to announce their decision by the end of August.

It’s certainly not the first time a partly – or even mostly – built nuclear plant was abandoned. In the 1970s, the Tennessee Valley Authority walked away from 11 nuclear reactors for which it had started construction; in fairness, it went back and finished one recently.

Dozens of plants were canceled as costs rose and financial problems mounted, forcing one company, the Washington Public Power Supply System to default on more than $2 billion in bonds and giving the company a new nickname: “whoops”!

The factors that forced all those nuclear plant cancellations in the 1980s may sound familiar to those building today’s plants. The Three Mile Island nuclear accident in 1979 created pressure for increased safety standards in the middle of construction for those plants, and Fukushima in 2011 did the same for today’s projects.

STARTING CONSTRUCTION BEFORE ENGINEERING IS COMPLETE AND UNDERESTIMATING WORK CAN BE BLOWS TO PROJECTS

Additionally, construction got started before engineering was completed. As with many large infrastructure projects, there was a tendency to underestimate the amount of work required to complete the installation of miles of pipes, cables and concrete.

Whoops indeed. https://www.platts.com/videos/2017/august/snapshot-us-nuclear-power-summer-vogtle-081717

August 18, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Jordan soon to be plunged into nuclear debt by Russia?

Jordan in talks with Russia on financing solutions for nuclear reactor 2017-08-17 AMMAN,   (Xinhua) — Jordan on Wednesday said talks were still ongoing with Russia to secure the best financing solutions to build the country’s first nuclear power plant.

The Jordan Atomic Energy Commission said in a statement that the two countries were still committed to the project to build a nuclear power plant in Jordan with two reactors each having a capacity of 1,000 megawatts.

Russia’s Rosatom, the state atomic energy corporation, has been keen on implementing the project since its inception and is involved in the project with all its technical and financial aspects, the commission said, quoted by the Jordan Times.

The commission’s statement came following some local reports claiming that the Russian company was looking into withdrawing from the project and it has already submitted a request to Jordan in this regard…….

Jordan will secure 1.5 billion U.S. dollars and Russia will do the same for building the plant, which is estimated to cost 10 billion dollars. The rest will be financed by banks and funds.

In March 2015, Jordan signed an inter-governmental agreement with Russia to build and operate the nuclear power plant. Russia’s Rosatom will own 49 percent of the project. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-08/17/c_136531761.htm

August 18, 2017 Posted by | Jordan, marketing, Russia | Leave a comment

Florida ratepayers could be up for $millions for two nuclear reactors that may never be built.

FPL nuclear project uncertain, but charges could grow by $90 millionSusan Salisbury,  Palm Beach Post Staff Writer, Aug. 16, 2017 Florida Power & Light Co. ratepayers must wait two months before finding out if they will be required to pay many millions of dollars for costs associated with two nuclear reactors that may never be built.

August 18, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

South Carolina nuclear power backers push for tax-payer aid

After failure of SC nuke plant, backers seek federal aid,  By MATTHEW DALY, 14 Aug 17, WASHINGTON (AP) — Proponents of nuclear power are pushing to revive a failed project to build two reactors in South Carolina, arguing that the demise of the $14 billion venture could signal doom for an industry that supplies one-fifth of the nation’s electricity…..Supporters were alarmed when two South Carolina utilities halted construction on a pair of reactors that once were projected to usher in a new generation of nuclear power……

The July 31 suspension of the partly completed V.C. Summer project near Columbia, South Carolina, leaves two nuclear reactors under construction in Georgia as the only ones being built in the U.S. The collapse of the nearly decade-old project in South Carolina could cost ratepayers billions of dollars for work that ultimately provides no electricity and could signal that new nuclear plants are impossible to complete in the United States.

“These reactors failing would be the end of a nuclear renaissance before it even started,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

Graham and other lawmakers from both parties are urging Congress to extend a production tax credit that would provide billions of dollars to the South Carolina project and the two Georgia reactors. The House approved an extension in June, and Graham is pushing for a Senate vote after Congress returns from its August recess….

The Vogtle plant in Georgia faces similar economic and competitive threats, including the Westinghouse bankruptcy. The plant’s operator, Atlanta-based Southern Co., has said it will decide in coming weeks whether to finish the two reactors, which are years behind schedule and billions of dollars above projected costs……

Besides the production tax credit, nuclear supporters want the extension of an Energy Department loan guarantee program that has helped Vogtle and other energy projects secure funding. Vogtle received an $8.3 billion loan guarantee under the Obama administration – the largest ever issued by the loan program and a deal that some critics say could end up biting taxpayers…..https://www.apnews.com/1746c2dee6464b1586dbbedda6714bc4

 

August 16, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | 1 Comment

Vogtle’s two new nuclear reactors: will they be economically viable?

The challenge to building new nuclear reactors in the U.S. has to do with new technology, the exacting construction and the relative affordability of other energy sources, experts said. While there could be long-term advantages to new nuclear energy, including its relative efficiency and lack of greenhouse gas emissions, the short-term costs are considerable and could sink the projects before they are completed, experts said.

The recently suspended nuclear expansion at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in South Carolina over its burgeoning costs has raised questions about the future of Vogtle’s two new nuclear reactors and other projects……

Capital costs could increase from $5.7 billion to $7.4 billion and financing costs from $2.3 billion to $3.5 billion. Because Georgia Power has the only publicly reported numbers attached to the project, some have used those figures to calculate the total cost at $25 billion, but it cautioned against that figure because the costs for the other companies involved in the project are different.

If the costs came in at the highest estimate and were the same across the board for all partners, the project would actually exceed $27 billion…….

One way of assessing whether adding a new nuclear plant makes economic sense is by looking at measures that seek to compare energy technologies based on what it costs to build and operate them, called levelized cost of electricty, and comparing it with the value of the electricity it would add to the overall system based on the cost of producing it. According to a report earlier this year from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a nuclear reactor that came online in 2022 would actually cost nearly $40 more in kilowatt hour of electricity produced than generating that same electricity by other means……… http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/2017-08-12/questions-remain-about-viability-building-new-nuclear-reactors#.WZDB9dbWk2A.twitter

August 16, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Should Florida residents still be paying for defunct, and planned new, nuclear recators?

Florida PSC looks at paying for nuclear projects today, Tampa Bay Times, By Malena Carollo, Times Staff Writer, August 15, 2017 TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Public Service Commission is holding its annual hearing at 1:30 p.m. today to discuss whether — and how much — Floridians will pay for its utilities’ nuclear power projects.

August 16, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Thorium nuclear technology a risky and unwise venture for Utah

“…. the coalition’s involvement has raised concerns about the use of limited county resources in such a speculative venture. Nor is it clear how the thorium proposal squares with the coalition’s legal mission, which is to “build essential regional infrastructure elements,” such as pipelines, roads, transmission and rail needed to deliver extracted minerals and power to markets……

The coalition’s financing and procurement practices have recently come under intense scrutiny by Utah Treasurer David Damschen, who believes the group could be flouting accountability standards.

As a new member of the state Community Impact Board (CIB), which gives out federal mineral royalties to rural counties, Damschen has raised numerous concerns about the coalition’s management of CIB grants— its sole source of revenue. At recent meetings, the state treasurer has openly wondered whether the coalition steers contracts to insiders instead of the best qualified people and spends public money in ways that provide minimal public benefit…….

Thorium technology has years of costly research and development ahead before it’s ready to produce power and isotopes, according to Mike Simpson, a University of Utah metallurgical engineering professor.

“It‘s not accurate to say it’s proven to work. Aspects of it have been proven, but everything that has to be tied together hasn’t happened,” said Simpson, adding he would provide advice to the coalition for free. ”They still need another 10 years to perfect this….

 many technical hurdles remain and these rural counties are not positioned to help address these challenges other than siting assistance for a reactor, Simpson added. Salt Lake Tribune

August 16, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, thorium, USA | Leave a comment

Cancellation of nuclear build programmes in South Korea and USA – a bad sign for Britain’s nuclear industry

US AND KOREAN NUCLEAR PLANT CANCELLATIONS: IMPLICATIONS FOR UK NEW NUCLEAR BUILD,  Prospec t Law August 10, 2017  The US currently has 100 nuclear power plants in operation supplying about 20% of its power needs. A further four were under construction, two each in Georgia and South Carolina, until the owners of the South Carolina plants recently announced the cancellation of construction of its two Westinghouse AP1000 units, Summer 2 and 3.

Summer 2 and 3 had been under construction since 2013, with original operational dates of late 2019 and late 2020.  However, due to construction delays and cost overruns, these were later revised to December 2022 for Summer 2 and March 2024 for Summer 3.  The finances were a key factor in the decision to cancel construction, with the original estimate of $11.5 bn having more than doubling to $25 bn. The reasons behind this are no doubt complex, but as the US has not constructed a new reactor since the 1970s, the loss of nuclear expertise must be a factor.

Summer 2 and 3 were intended to showcase advanced nuclear technology and pave the way, along with the Georgia plants – also Westinghouse AP1000s, for a nuclear renaissance in the US.  A further four AP1000s and 12 SMRs (Small Modular Reactors) are currently proposed and several more are in the early stages of planning. The fate of these and the two Georgia plants remains to be seen…….

The Westinghouse bankruptcy has also complicated the picture in the US, with its AP1000 design being used for the South Carolina and Georgia projects and its role being reduced to a vendor supporting the EPC. Their situation has also had an effect in the UK, with Toshiba’s stake in Nu-Gen now being considered by KEPCO. Rather than utilise the Westinghouse design, which was approved by the UK nuclear regulator, ONR, in March this year, KEPCO wants to use its own technology, which will cause a delay in construction of the Moorside plant while the necessary regulatory design assessment is undertaken.

The South Korean nuclear industry is also in difficulty, with the new anti-nuclear government suspending construction of the Shin Kori 5 and 6 nuclear plants for several months while it undertakes a public consultation on their future. This decision has generated much debate in the country and is seen as a threat to its nuclear exports, and KEPCO’s future Nu-Gen.

Decisions to be taken in the next few months will be crucial for the future of nuclear in the US and Korea. …….http://prospectlaw.co.uk/us-and-korean-nuclear-plant-cancellations-implications-for-uk-new-nuclear-build/

August 16, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, South Korea, UK, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear war danger – GREAT FOR INVESTORS IN WEAPONS!!!

Arms Stocks Soar While Trump, Kim Trade Threats https://sputniknews.com/business/201708121056414815-Trump-Kim-spat-pleases-business/  13.08.2017  US President Trump’s tit-for-tat war of nuclear words with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is good for Wall Street.

Following Pyongyang‘s August 8 pronouncement that it had successfully miniaturized a nuclear warhead for its burgeoning ICBM fleet, US President Donald Trump made several inflammatory statements involving the phrase “fire and fury” and, one day later, the stocks of arms builders and weapons manufacturers skyrocketed.

While the stock market has been noted to be on an upswing in recent weeks, last week’s midweek figures were notably down — except for those of weapons manufacturers.

Defense technology companies Textron, General Dynamics, L3 Technologies and Huntington Ingalls all notched gains, while weapons giants Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, and Lockheed Martin saw the highest stock valuation of their history, according to Defense One.

Financial analysts gushing about potential profit quickly alerted investors to developing or planned missile defense interceptor networks and the lucrative firms that design and manufacture those weapons.

Weapons builders and military equipment suppliers are an attractive investment, if you can stomach that your money comes from selling devices that are made specifically to kill people, according to Defense One.

A recent Morgan Stanley analysis of weapons builders has suggested that stocks will rise.

“[W]e expect this intense budget debate over the next few weeks and months to yield positive results,” asserted an L3 Technologies spokesperson only last month.

The business and financial community note that US military spending is on track to top last year, and that increases are likely in the coming months.

“I believe that there is real interest and desire in additional [military] spending which will manifest itself in some more additional funding and budget for defense,” said General Dynamics CEO Phebe Novakovic.

“It’s just a question of how much,” she said.

August 14, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, weapons and war | Leave a comment

South Carolina’s state-owned utility drops plans for rate hikes for failed nuclear project

Utility drops rate hike plans for failed nuclear project, By SEANNA ADCOX New Jersey Herald : Aug. 11, 2017 COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Millions of customers who have been footing the bill for years for a now-abandoned nuclear power project may get a temporary reprieve from rising bills, as South Carolina’s state-owned utility dropped plans Friday for two consecutive rate hikes.

Santee Cooper’s board canceled the approval process for average increases of 3.5 percent in 2018 and 3.9 percent in 2019. A vote on the requested hikes had been set for December.

They would have been the utility’s sixth and seventh hikes since 2009 for the now-abandoned expansion of V.C. Summer Nuclear Station north of Columbia. Santee Cooper and South Carolina Electric & Gas decided July 31 to halt construction on two new reactors they’d already jointly spent $10 billion to build, much of that paid by customers.

“Conditions have changed materially since the rate process began,” said Santee Cooper board Chairman Leighton Lord.

But the cancellation doesn’t necessarily mean rates won’t eventually rise for the more than 2 million customers served by Santee Cooper, which provides power directly and through local electric cooperatives. The board directed the utility’s staff to come back in October with a new financial plan.

“Santee Cooper will still need to cover costs related to our load, other system improvements and environmental compliance,” said Santee Cooper CEO Lonnie Carter. “We will tighten our belts and continue to look for ways we can be more efficient to make up the balance.”

Carter said the state-owned utility would have had to raise rates by 41 percent to continue with the project.

Friday’s unanimous vote comes amid a backlash from the public and lawmakers.

The scuttled nuclear project already accounts for 18 percent of SCE&G’s residential electricity bills and more than 8 percent of Santee Cooper’s. SCE&G is seeking permission from the Public Service Commission to recoup an additional $5 billion over 60 years. Those regulators approved all nine of SCE&G’s rate hike requests since 2009. Legislators have publicly warned commissioners they may be fired.

Three of those commissioners are up for re-election early next year by the Legislature. Seven people, including the incumbents, filed for the three slots by Friday’s noon deadline. The commission has no authority over the state-owned utility…….http://www.njherald.com/article/20170811/AP/308119851#

August 14, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

USA Federal Government not stepping in to save South Carolina nuclear power project

Trump administration silent on demise of nuclear project it once called ‘massively important’, Post and Courier By Thad Moore and EmmaDumain tmoore@postandcourier.com eduman@postandcourier.com, Aug 12, 2017   The day after two South Carolina power companies decided to bail out on two partially built nuclear reactors, state regulators asked the project’s top executives what it would take to restart construction.

Kevin Marsh, CEO of South Carolina Electric & Gas parent SCANA Corp., answered with a must: The federal government would need to step in to cover the spiraling costs, he said, and guarantee that ratepayers wouldn’t foot the bill for a project with an uncertain price tag.

Nearly two weeks later, support from D.C. doesn’t appear to be forthcoming.

President Donald Trump and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who have both advocated pro-nuclear positions, haven’t addressed the project’s demise publicly. And one of the two utilities that were building the reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station near Columbia says it hasn’t heard from the administration since giving it the news.

Santee Cooper, the state-run power utility that owns 45 percent of the project, says it told the White House it was ditching the reactors but hadn’t heard anything since. SCE&G, which owns the other 55 percent, declined to answer questions about its communications with the administration.

The silence from Washington casts further doubt on the prospect of reviving the scuttled project, even as state lawmakers and Gov. Henry McMaster scramble to have at least one reactor completed…..http://www.postandcourier.com/business/trump-administration-silent-on-demise-of-nuclear-project-it-once/article_7bd33fc6-7e9d-11e7-8f2e-7b8e4872296c.html

August 14, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Hundreds of workers laid off, thousands of contractors lost jobs: lawsuit against Westinghouse over VC Summer nuclear failure

Pittsburgh Gazette 11th Aug 2017, Following the filing of a lawsuit alleging that Westinghouse Electric Co. violated labor laws by laying off hundreds of workers without proper notice, the bankrupt nuclear company confirmed Friday that it has furloughed 870 employees across the company.

The number represents all full-time Westinghouse employees who had been working on the VC Summer
nuclear power plant in South Carolina and includes 125 workers at
Westinghouse’s Cranberry headquarters. The majority of the furloughs took
place at the site of the VC Summer nuclear power plant construction
project.

The project was canceled last week by two South Carolina utilities. Years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget, theproject was expected to cost another $8 billion to complete.

In addition to the Westinghouse layoffs, thousands of contractors working on the South Carolina site also lost their jobs.

The lawsuit, filed in bankruptcy court on Thursday by Andrew Fleetwood, a field engineering manager at VC Summer,
claims Westinghouse employees like him were furloughed “without being given any indication that his employment or that of his co-workers would ever recommence.”  http://powersource.post-gazette.com/powersource/companies/2017/08/11/Westinghouse-furloughed-870-employees-in-fallout-from-the-cancelled-South-Carolina-nuclear-project/stories/201708110130

August 14, 2017 Posted by | employment, USA | Leave a comment

America’s nuclear industry getting desperate – seeks money from Trump

The U.S. Nuclear Industry’s Last Hope Seeks Help From Trump, Bloomberg , By Ari Natter and Mark Chediak

August 12, 2017,
  • Cost of delayed Georgia nuclear project may be $25 billion
  • Energy Secretary Perry turned down Scana’s bid for bailout

  • President Donald Trump has vowed to revive America’s dying nuclear industry. Backers of a troubled Georgia nuclear project want him to prove it.

    They have asked the administration to come to the aid of a project to build two reactors to the Southern Co.’s Vogtle power plant, according to people familiar with the talks. That could include increasing or speeding up disbursements of $8.3 billion in federal loan guarantees to the companies behind the nuclear plant, the people said. They asked not to be identified discussing ongoing negotiations.

    A Georgia public service regulator was in Washington to make a case for the project, the last nuclear plant under construction in the U.S., and Southern has hosted congressional staff members at the construction site. The company also wants Congress to extend tax breaks for nuclear power….

    With Southern set to tell regulators in Georgia by the end of this month whether it plans to continue with construction plans for the plant, federal support could be crucial. Last week, Southern said it estimated its portion of the cost to complete the reactors was at least $11.5 billion, excluding $1.7 billion in guaranteed payments from Toshiba. Given Southern’s 46 percent stake in the project, that would put the total cost of building the two reactors at $25 billion……

  • After Energy Secretary Rick Perry turned down a request for $3 billion in aid for Scana Corp.’s nuclear plant in South Carolina, it’s not clear how much the federal government will help. Scana abandoned its V.C. Summer nuclear projects last month after it concluded the two reactors would end up costing it more than $20 billion to build.

    In general, the Trump administration has said it’s studying the nuclear issue…..https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-11/troubled-georgia-nuclear-project-is-said-to-seek-aid-from-trump

August 12, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

China’s economic advantage in control of rare earths

Control of rare earths gives China a fresh economic advantage, Las Vegas Sun, By Llewellyn King, Aug. 10, 2017……China controls the world’s production and distribution of rare earths. It produces more than 92 percent of them and holds the world in its hand when it comes to the future of almost anything in high technology.

Rare earths are great multipliers and the heaviest are the most valuable. They make the things we take for granted, from the small motors in automobiles to the wind turbines that are revolutionizing the production of electricity. For example, rare earths increase a conventional magnet’s power by at least fivefold. Strategically, they are the new oil.

Rare earths are also at work in smartphones and computers. Fighter jets and smart weapons, like cruise missiles, rely on them. In national defense, there is no substitute and no other supply source available…….

If President Donald Trump — apparently encouraged by his trade adviser Peter Navarro, and his policy adviser Steve Bannon — is contemplating a trade war with China, rare earths are China’s most potent weapon.

A trade war moves the rare-earths threat from existential to immediate.

In a strange regulatory twist the United States — and most of the world — won’t be able to open rare-earths mines without legislation and an international treaty modification. Rare earths are often found in conjunction with thorium, a mildly radioactive metal and a large regulatory problem.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency have defined thorium as a nuclear “source material” that requires special disposition. Until these classifications, thorium was disposed of along with other mine tailings. Now it has to be separated and collected. ….

Meanwhile, future disruptions from China won’t necessarily be in the markets; they could be in the obscure but vital commodities known as rare earths: China’s not-quite-secret weapon. https://lasvegassun.com/news/2017/aug/10/control-of-rare-earths-gives-china-a-fresh-economi/

August 12, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, China, politics international, RARE EARTHS | Leave a comment