Going Out’ to Hinkley Point? China’s Uncertain Future in International Energy China’s ambition to become a global energy power will have to overcome geopolitical hurdles, The Diplomat By Mykael Goodsell-SooTho August 18, 2016 “…….Recently, China has faced a number of setbacks which demonstrate several countries’ apprehension at the prospect of Chinese involvement in their energy infrastructure. Last week, the Australian government threw a wrench into the plans of China’s State Grid Corporation and Hong Kong’s Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings by preliminarily barring their bids for a controlling stake in Ausgrid, the country’s largest electricity network. This came just weeks after a similar decision by the U.K. government to postpone approval of the Hinkley Point C nuclear reactor project pending a comprehensive review of the plans. In both instances, officials have cited security concerns surrounding Chinese involvement in British and Australian energy infrastructure as primary reasons for the countries’ hesitance to conclude the deals. Whether or not these worries are well-founded, they constitute a significant obstacle to Chinese energy companies’ international ambitions.
Chinese firm with military ties invited to bid for role in UK’s nuclear future,
China National Nuclear Corporation on government list of preferred bidders for development funding for next-generation modular reactors, Guardian, Adam Vaughan, 8 Aug 16, A controversial Chinese company has been selected to bid for millions of pounds of public money in a UK government competition to develop mini nuclear power stations.
The China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) features twice in a government list of 33 projects and companies deemed eligible to compete for a share in up to £250m to develop so-called small modular reactors (SMR).
The involvement of a different Chinese company in the high-profile Hinkley Point C project in Somerset was widely believed to have prompted the government’s decision to pause the deal at the 11th hour last month.
Nick Timothy, Theresa May’s co-chief of staff, has previously expressed alarm at the prospect of CNNC having such close access to the UK’s energy infrastructure because it would give the state-owned firm the potential ability to build weaknesses into computer systems.
The company was formerly China’s Ministry of Nuclear Industry and developed the country’s atomic bomb and nuclear submarines, as well as being a key player in its nuclear power industry.
“For those who believe that such an eventuality [shutting down UK energy at will] is unlikely, the Chinese National Nuclear Corporation – one of the state-owned companies involved in the plans for the British nuclear plants – says on its website that it is responsible not just for ‘increasing the value of state assets and developing the society’ but the ‘building of national defence’,” he wrote.
Tom Burke, chairman of the environment thinktank E3G and a former British government adviser, said there were legitimate concerns over the company. “I don’t fuss very much about the Chinese owning a nuclear power station [China General Nuclear in the case of Hinkley]. But I would be much more concerned about bringing in CNNC because they are known to be much more closely involved with the military and Chinese nuclear weapons programmes,” he said.
CNNC was not involved in the original Hinkley deal but it was reported on Sunday that the company has agreed in principle to buy half of China’s 33% stake in the £24bn project if it goes ahead…….. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/07/chinese-firm-with-military-ties-invited-to-bid-for-role-in-uks-nuclear-future
Russia Offers India Nuclear Aircraft Carrier Vivek Raghuvanshi, Defense July 11, 2016 NEW DELHI — Russia has offered its nuclear aircraft carrier, dubbed “Storm,” to India for purchase, a senior Indian Navy official said. The offer comes as India and the US discuss the transfer of technology for India’s future nuclear aircraft carrier, the INS Vishal.
A diplomat with the Russian Embassy confirmed that a Russian team visiting India last week made the offer.
Krylov State Research Center (KSRC), a Russian shipbuilding research and development institute, is designing the carrier, also known as Shtorm or Project 23000E…….http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/naval/navy/2016/07/11/russia-india-nuclear-aircraft-carrier-storm/86937106/
US Nuclear Reactors to Prove White Elephant for India. Sputnik News 13 June 16 India’s latest move in the direction of implementing a nuclear energy pact with the US is gaining strong resentment as the US reactors are most likely to cost three times more than that of Russian reactors already well operational.
The fresh techno-commercial proposal will also take into account India’s concern over high per unit tariff, French government officials said.
“The French feel that there is a lot of ambiguity in Clause 46 and there is fear in the minds of suppliers. We have raised this issue both with NPCIL and the Department of Atomic Energy,” said a French official.
Last month, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) had signed an agreement for building six European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) as against the earlier proposal of two such reactors.
The delay in the project, which was first signed in 2008, and concern over India’s liability law came in the wake of nuclear firms Areva and EDF merging their reactor businesses into a joint venture controlled by EDF, as part of a broad restructuring last year.
In 2014, the US too had raised similar concerns about Clause 46 in particular.
In April last year, Areva had also signed an agreement with NPCIL to expedite the programme.
“Things are unclear over how much insurance cover does supplier have to take. There is still a lot of ambiguity in this,” the French official said.
The French government officials said the liability issue is still “manageable” but pricing still remains a major hurdle.
While the cost of the electricity generated by Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) Units I and II hovers between Rs. 3 to 3.50 per unit, for JNPP, it is expected to be Rs. 9.14 per unit. India is not ready to go beyond Rs. 6.50 per unit.
RUSSIA COULD SCORE BIG IN SA, HUNGARY’S NUCLEAR EXPANSION PLANS, EyeWitness News, 22 Apr 16 Lobbyists are challenging the legality of SA’s proposed 9,600 megawatt nuclear build programme. Rahima Essop BUDAPEST – Russia could benefit in both South Africa and Hungary’s nuclear expansion plans, but there are procurement and legal hurdles.
Environmental lobbyists are challenging the legality of South Africa’s proposed 9,600 megawatt nuclear build programme before government opens the tender process.
At the same time, the European Commission is probing whether Hungary’s decision to award a contract to Russia to build two new nuclear reactors was in line with its procurement regulations.
Eighty percent of the financing for the Hungarian project would be covered by a loan from Russia, to be paid off over 21 years at a stepped interest rate…….
In South Africa, opposition politicians are concerned government’s nuclear build programme is not affordable and will plunge the country deeper into debt.
Russian atomic energy company, Rosatom has said it’s open to help finance the project, if it’s selected as the preferred bidder.
However, it’s unclear when Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson will call for quotes for the tender.
Rosatom has sponsored a press trip to Hungary to showcase its capacity to build power plants across the globe…….http://ewn.co.za/2016/04/22/Russia-could-score-big-in-SA-Hungarian-nuclear-deal-plans
* Other countries could be included in building plants
Reuters, By Peroshni Govender JOHANNESBURG, Feb 12 South Africa will finalise requirements for its 9,600 megawatt nuclear power plant by April, with Russia and China the front-runners to win the bid, a government official involved in the negotiations told Reuters.
Pretoria has earmarked billions of rand for much needed power generation but its nuclear build of 9,600 megawatts by 2030 at a price tag of up to 1 trillion rand ($63.46 billion) has raised concerns over whether it would be affordable.
Fears that what could be the most expensive procurement in the country’s history will be made behind closed doors, without the necessary public scrutiny have been raised by the opposition, claims the government has rejected.
“From what I have seen, the Russians do have a case and so do the Chinese. If we go with two countries, it could include the Chinese,” said the official, who did not want to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the media. “If we go for one country, it would be the Russians.”
Political alliances, Pretoria and Moscow’s membership of the BRICS association of five emerging economies and Russia’s ability to fund the project have put them as the favourites, the official said.
Russia’s willingness to build the plant at its own expense, operate it for 20 years and charge South Africa for the power and running costs had given that country an even better chance to clinch the deal, the official said.
Officials at the nuclear unit in the energy department were not available to comment…..http://uk.reuters.com/article/safrica-nuclear-idUKL8N15Q3MN
Much-feted Indo-Japan nuclear deal isn’t all that it’s made out to be and will mean little when implemented, First Post by Jaideep Prabhu Dec 13, 2015 News of an agreement on civil nuclear cooperation between India and Japan has been met with much fanfare in the Indian media. The announcement came on the second morning of Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s three-day trip to India to attend the ninth annual India-Japan Summit. Despite the celebratory tone in India, the fine print and context of what was agreed upon between the two nations is less than satisfactory and will mean little in practice.
The nuclear deal has been a sensitive subject between Delhi and Tokyo for the past five years. ………
Japan holds an important position in international nuclear commerce. Over the years, the island nation has developed expertise in manufacturing several critical reactor components of high quality and become a key node in the supply chains of at least three of the major nuclear vendors, namely the French firm Areva and the American firms General Electric and Westinghouse. Among the major players, only Russia’s Rosatom and China’s two major state-run nuclear vendors – China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) – are independent of Japanese components. As per Japan’s strict export controls stipulating end-user certification and other conditions, US and French nuclear firms would first need the permission of their Japanese suppliers before doing business with India. Tokyo’s consonance on nuclear cooperation with India thus achieved a greater import, not to mention the symbolic value India put on such an agreement as an indicator of its nuclear normalisation.
The declaration at the India-Japan Summit falls considerably short of a nuclear deal. The two sides merely signed a memorandum of understanding that has punted the legal and technical differences further down the road. In essence, this means that Japan has only agreed to the principle that it can conclude a civil nuclear cooperation agreement with India, that it will make an exception to its rule of not conducting nuclear commerce with a state that is not a signatory of the NPT. This is progress, no doubt, but what price Japan will extract for its concession in terms of technical requirements or how long the nuclear deal will take to operationalise is anyone’s guess……
Nuclear power hearing dominated by speakers looking to lift restrictions http://www.wisbusiness.com/index.Iml?Article=360284 11/19/2015 By Chris Thompson Not one person during a nearly three-hour public hearing testified against a bill that would lift what amounts to Wisconsin’s moratorium on nuclear power plant construction.
Beyond bill author Rep. Kevin Petersen, those speaking in favor of AB 384 yesterday included Public Service Commission member and former DOA Secretary Mike Huebsch. The Assembly’s Energy and Utilities Committee also heard from multiple construction industry representatives and students wearing t-shirts that read “Environmentalist for nuclear energy.”
Amber Meyer Smith of Clean Wisconsin said her group supports current Wisconsin law. The costs of a nuclear plant and the threats to the environment from fuel waste, Meyer Smith said, are just too much for Clean Wisconsin to support.
Her organization, along with the Citizens Utility Board and a private citizen, registered against the bill but didn’t testify. The Sierra Club-John Muir Chapter is registered with the GAB in opposition to the legislation.
“We submitted testimony,” Meyer Smith said, “and just felt that was sufficient.”
The topic isn’t new in the Capitol. It arose as a possibility during former Gov. Jim Doyle’s administration through an energy task force. And committee member Rep. Josh Zepnick, of Milwaukee, said he is among the Dems who have tried to lift the moratorium.
Petersen, R-Waupaca, said the state in 1983 enacted regulations that essentially put a stop to nuclear plant construction. Petersen, Huebsch and others argued storage and fuel recycling technology have advanced to the point that the concerns of 1983 no longer apply.
Frank Jablonski, a lobbyist for the Nuclear Energy Institute, testified he would bet his own health on the safety of storage technology.
“If you want to put a dry cask in my backyard, you absolutely could,” he said. “Just build the plant in Wisconsin.”
China, UK to fund nuclear research centre http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NN-China-UK-to-fund-nuclear-research-centre-25091502.html 25 September 2015
China and the UK will work together to co-fund a £50 million ($78 million) nuclear research centre, to be headquartered in the UK. Chinese vice premier Ma Kai and British chancellor George Osborne announced the plan on 21 September during the 7th UK-China Economic and Financial Dialogue summit in Beijing.
The Chancellor also announced a regional collaboration agreement between Cumbria and Sichuan Province, deepening commercial ties between the province and the north west of England’s expertise in nuclear decommissioning and waste management. These developments followed a landmark announcement by Osborne the same day that the UK government would provide up to £2 billion ($3 billion) in support for the planned Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant, which China may participate in.
The UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) said on 22 September that it will jointly lead the new UK-China Joint Research and Innovation Centre (JRIC) with the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC).
The JRIC – which will incorporate projects in a number of different areas of work across the whole nuclear fuel cycle – will “act as a portal to allow UK companies and academic organizations and their Chinese counterparts to work together on areas of mutual benefit and will support the development of Subject Matter Experts and others with higher level skill in both countries,” NNL said.
Over the coming months NNL and CNNC will work together to establish a program of work for the JRIC and to develop links with other UK bodies including the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC), the National Skills Academy for Nuclear (NSAN), the Nuclear Innovation and Research Advisory Board (NIRAB) and key UK universities working in the nuclear sector.
Professor Andrew Sherry, chief scientist at NNL, wrote in a blog on the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s website that there is a strong case for exploring the potential of next generation nuclear technologies. “There is scope for developing new reactor concepts including small and modular reactors, which can provide both electricity and potentially heat, and also for considering even more advanced reactors which can be powered with reprocessed spent fuel to make more efficient use of the uranium fuel, and generate less nuclear waste,” he said. “These advances will need targeted research across the UK, drawing together universities, national laboratories and industry and linking effectively with the international community.“
David Cameron gives go ahead to build Chinese nuclear reactor in ESSEX http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/603390/China-nuclear-reactor-Essex-nuclear-power
DAVID Cameron is poised to sign a landmark deal next month to allow China to build a prototype nuclear reactor in Bradwell, Essex – which would become the first Chinese-operated facility in the West.
The plant is the price Beijing wants in return for its agreement to help pay for two new plants to be built by France’s EDF Energy – one at Hinkley Point in Somerset and the other at Sizewell, Suffolk.
EDF has admitted that Hinkley Point – Britain’s first atomic power station in almost two decades – is already facing delays. It was originally scheduled to open in 2017, but disputes over how it will be funded have held up the start of work – with EDF admitting it would not open before 2024. Problems with the EPR reactor design have also halted progress.
However, David Cameron is adamant to get the project off the ground – which is at the core of the Government’s drive to replace Britain’s ageing fossil fuel plants with low-carbon alternatives.
A similar EDF plant in Flamanville, France, has gone three times over budget and fallen six years behind schedule.
Hinkley Point, which will be twice as big, is on course to become the world’s most expensive power station.
The Chinese – who are currently have 26 nuclear power reactors in operation – are vital to Britain’s low-carbon initiative.
Whitehall officers are said to be hammering out the final details of an agreement under which two of Beijing’s state power companies – China General Nuclear and China National Nuclear Corporation – will take a large minority stake in Hinkley Point. They would also become junior partners, and cover part of the costs for a follow-on plant at Sizewell.
The construction and operation of both sites would be led by EDF.
In return for Beijing’s support on those plants, EDF would sell its right to a development site it owns at Bradwell.
The French, who would become a minority partner, would assist the Chinese through Britain’s approval process for a new reactor design – which the Chinese would use as a selling point as it bids to become the world leader in nuclear technology.
The Chinese design is expected to be capable of producing one gigawatt of electricity – enough to power 1m homes.
Hinkley Point will comprise of two larger EPR reactors – each with a capacity of 1.6GW – which will generate seven per cent of Britain’s electricity needs.
However, the plans for the nuclear plant have stirred controversy because of the huge subsidies the Government has agreed to pay EDF and its Chinese partners – which will be tacked on to taxpayers’ household bills and pay out until 2060.
The starting rate of £92.50 per megawatt hour of power produced is more than double the current wholesale rate and will rise every year with inflation.
A growing number of critics have begun to lobby against Hinkley Point.
NuScale hopes to change the conversation on nuclear power, Corvallis Gazette Times. 30 Aug 15 “…….On Aug. 20 he was in Corvallis, speaking to more than 200 like-minded souls gathered for a fancy dinner in the main ballroom of Oregon State University’s CH2M Hill Alumni Center for an exposition on nuclear energy sponsored by NuScale Power, a local company working to develop what it hopes will be the first small modular reactor approved for use in the United States.
It was a theme that came up over and over again during NuEx, a two-day trade show and networking extravaganza that reinforced NuScale’s status as the frontrunner to win the first Nuclear Regulatory Commission certification for a small modular reactor or SMR, a next-generation technology touted as cheaper, safer and more flexible than traditional large-scale nuclear power plants.
Some 230 nuclear industry representatives, investment bankers, political operatives and journalists descended on Corvallis for the event, where they were wined and dined, heard market forecasts and inspirational speeches, toured NuScale facilities and discussed possible business deals with the up-and-coming company……… Continue reading
Follow the Money http://majiasblog.blogspot.jp/2015/05/follow-money.html I’ve been following the money for the uranium supply chain:
I turned over a rock and found Goldman Sachs is one of the world’s biggest, if not the biggest, uranium trader through its control of Nufcor.
2008 June 26, Nufcor was bought by the Constellation Energy Group, a U.S. firm that operated several nuclear power plants, for about $103 million. (Exelon has owned Constellation Energy since 2011)
2009 Goldman acquires Nufcor from Constellation Energy as part of a purchase of 900,000 pounds of uranium. Nufcor is the biggest private trader of uranium.
Details about Goldman’s uranium venture are included in the 2014 US Senate report chaired by Carl Levin and including Senator John McCain title: “Wall Street Bank’s Involvement with Physical Commodities”: From Senate Report: page 113 Constellation Acquisition. After its conversion to a bank holding company, Goldman continued to expand its physical commodity activities. In 2009, according to a Goldman presentation to the Federal Reserve, Goldman purchased over 3,000 trading assets involving U.K., French, and German power and U.K. natural gas; as well as about 60 coal contracts, 20 time and voyage freight agreements, and 900,000 pounds of uranium ore from Constellation Energy, a U.S. utility and trading business.Included in that acquisition was Nufcor International, a uranium trading company which stored and traded uranium ore in various stages of enrichment, as further described below…
…Page 124: In 2009, Goldman purchased Nufcor, and expanded its business over the
next five years, resulting in Goldman’s buying millions of pounds of uranium, controlling inventories of physical uranium at storage facilities in the United States and Europe, and becoming a long term supplier of physical uranium to nine utilities with nuclear power plants. Because no employees who conducted Nufcor’s business joined Goldman after the sale, Goldman employees ran the business. In 2014, for a variety of reasons, Goldman decided it would sell Nufcor or wind it down…
I find no evidence that Goldman has successfully sold Nufcor. Since 2011 Constellation Energy, which no longer owns Nufcor, has been owned by Exelon.http://www.constellation.com/about-constellation/pages/about-us.aspx
In 2006 and 2007 hedge funds piled into Uranium. Goldman is noteworthy because of the scope of its involvement the leverage that involvement affords it over uranium pricing and, no doubt, demand.
If you want to know why nuclear is pursued despite its obvious costs and risks, there is no better place to begin understanding than addressing who benefits from the global uranium trade.
‘Beautiful’ nuclear power stations can win over sceptics, says Energy Secretary Amber Rudd The Independent 7 June 15 Britain’s new nuclear power stations and other energy infrastructure projects must be designed to look beautiful to garner essential public support, the Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd, has said…..flood defences will need to be built to protect buildings, along with weather-resistant transport, waste and water services, as climate change makes weather conditions increasingly extreme.
Ann Robinson, of the uSwitch price comparison website, welcomed Ms Rudd’s call to visual arms. “I think she’s absolutely right. We’re a small island and it’s important to do things in a sensitive way. Public acceptability is important and the key to that is making the infrastructure as attractive as possible.”
Ms Robinson added: “A lot of these projects can be controversial and Amber Rudd is proposing to give people more say in local developments. Against this backdrop, it’s increasingly important that projects fit in with their surroundings.”……..http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/beautiful-nuclear-power-stations-can-win-over-sceptics-says-energy-secretary-amber-rudd-10301365.html
Survival of the fittest? World’s major nuclear builders are in for a long stretch in the red, Bellona, May 18, 2015 by Vladimir Slivyak, Translated by Maria Kaminskaya MOSCOW “……..Rosatom: not much to brag about, either
In Arab countries and in Asia, in South Africa, and even inside the European Union borders, the French nuclear industry regularly bumps into competition: Russia’s state corporation Rosatom. The Russian company is selling the VVER-1200, a reactor type similar to – though less powerful than – the EPR. The official price cited for a VVER-1200 is around €5 billion. But independent observers, in the case of Rosatom’s new project in Finland, Hanhikivi NPP, estimate expenses per one reactor at over €7 billion. This is close to the current cost of the troubled EPR project in the same country……….
Beyond the EU borders
The confrontation between Russia and Ukraine that started last year has made it essentially impossible for Rosatom to complete the construction of Units 3 and 4 of Khmelnitsky NPP in Western Ukraine. Still, at the end of last year, the Russian corporation claimed it had a sheaf of orders to the tune of over $100 billion – 27 new reactor orders, predominantly, in developing countries. At the end of 2013, $74 billion’s worth of new orders was cited.
These figures should be taken with a grain of salt. In most cases, what is meant is not specific contracts, but rather agreements of a general nature. Effectively, these are obligations that are yet to be committed to paper. For instance, one such agreement on a strategic partnership in the development of nuclear energy was signed last fall with South Africa – something that Russian media presented as an order for eight new reactors and a range of nuclear power infrastructure sites to a total amount of approximately $40 billion.
But when details of the deal – which the government of South Africa kept secret – eventually found their way to the public, a scandal broke out: The document stipulates no liability on the part of Russian suppliers in case of a nuclear accident, provides for tax exemptions, and includes a restriction that forbids South Africa’s cooperation with any other countries without Russia’s permission. The country’s government so far insists it has not yet chosen the future contractor and claims agreements have been signed with France, South Korea, China, and other countries besides Russia. Last February, meanwhile, reports surfaced in the media that the implementation of the South African nuclear program was being postponed by several years due to political opposition.
If any new construction is happening at all in Rosatom’s projects, it’s only the new plants in China and Belarus (not long ago, it was also India, with Kudankulam-2, which was recently reported by the Russian media as completed). Back home, Rosatom promised to launch three new reactors in 2014, but only one started operation, at Rostov NPP in Southern European Russia. All new Rosatom construction sites where any work is being done are plagued by lengthy delays that translate into substantial cost rises. In Belarus, official statements made recently said the new NPP in Ostrovets would be completed at a later date than was scheduled initially.
One other important aspect is that Rosatom’s resources – including the corporation’s production capacities – are limited. It is very doubtful that Rosatom is capable of building dozens of new reactors across the world, as its claimed order book would suggest, within the next decade. Even in Russia, actual reactor construction rates are perpetually behind those stated in project schedules. Additionally, in the next several years, Rosatom is going to face the same problem that awaits France: decommissioning old reactors. ……….
Distress or demise?
Rosatom’s circumstances are unenviable. Last year, generous promises were given by the corporation to build dozens of new reactors in many different countries. India, China, Iran, Algeria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia – these are just some of the purported customers on the list. In 2015, Rosatom was planning to sign contracts in South Africa and, possibly, in Kazakhstan. A new addition is Egypt, though there is little clarity as to what documents exactly were signed there and whether they imply any specific commitments. It remains just as unclear how Rosatom is going to fulfil its promises if an order for a new reactor is actually made……..http://bellona.org/news/uncategorized/2015-05-survival-fittest-worlds-major-nuclear-builders-long-stretch-red
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