The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

China “looks to small nuclear reactors” – but it’s not really a very good look

This article is surely meant as a promotional boost for small nuclear reactors, SMRs.  BUT – it doesn’t quite read that way.  We learn that only the most enthusiastically pro-nuclear nations are interested in SMRs.

Another giveaway is that remarkable confession at the end  – that success of SMRs hinges on investors seeing new large-scale plants coming online and building on those successes.

Well, seeing that large nuclear reactors projects are now stalling, all over the place, with delays, safety problems, and ballooning costs –  those successes are looking very unlikely. Which leaves SMRs very much in the fantasy world – waiting for investors who never appear.

China looks to small nuclear, JUNE 27, 2017. David Stanway, Reuters China is betting on new, small-scale nuclear reactor designs that could be used in isolated regions, on ships and even aircraft as part of an ambitious plan to wrest control of the global nuclear market.

Within weeks, state-owned China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) is set to launch a small modular reactor (SMR) dubbed the “Nimble Dragon” with a pilot plant on the island province of Hainan, according to company officials.

…..But these so-called “third-generation” reactors have been mired in financing problems and building delays, deterring all but the most enthusiastically pro-nuclear nations.

The challenges of financing and building large, expensive reactors contributed to the bankruptcy of Toshiba Inc’s nuclear unit, Westinghouse, and to the financial problems that forced France’s Areva to restructure.

SMRs have capacity of less than 300 megawatts (MW) – enough to power around 200,000 homes – compared to at least 1 gigawatt (GW) for standard reactors.

China aims to lift domestic nuclear capacity to 200 GW by 2030, up from 35 GW at the end of March, but its ambitions are global.

CNNC designed the Linglong, or “Nimble Dragon” to complement its larger Hualong or “China Dragon” reactor and has been in discussions with Pakistan, Iran, Britain, Indonesia, Mongolia, Brazil, Egypt and Canada as potential partners.

“The big reactor is the Hualong One, the small reactor is the Linglong One – many countries intend to co-operate with CNNC’s ‘two dragons going out to sea’,” Yu Peigen, vice-president of CNNC, told a briefing in May.

…….The success of new small-scale reactors hinges on investors seeing new large-scale plants coming online and building on those successes, said Christopher Levesque, Terrapower’s president.

“We’re not competing with those folks, we’re rooting for them,” he told an industry forum in Shanghai last month.

June 28, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, China, technology | Leave a comment

China sets up 3 nuclear companies in Britain, hopes to market its nukes worldwide

China Daily 15th June 2017, China’s CGN a step closer to bringing its nuclear technology to UK: China’s
goal of boosting its nuclear technology sector took a big step forward on Wednesday with the creation of three new companies in the UK by China General Nuclear Power Corporation. The new entities are: Bradwell Power
Corp, which will be responsible for the 100 percent Chinese-built Bradwell B nuclear plant; General Nuclear System Ltd, which will shepherd China’s Hualong technology through the exacting five-year UK approval process; and General Nuclear International, which will manage CGN’s projects in the UK.

He Yu, CGN chairman, said:  The unveiling of three companies is a solid step forward for CGN to expand its operation in the UK. With its new subsidiaries unfolding, the company is confident that it will grow steadily in the field of nuclear technology in Britain.”

The United Kingdom will formally assess the Hualong One technology as part of a deal reached last year, in which Chinese investment will help build the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant, in which France’s EDF is a major participant, and which will
feature French technology. CGN and EDF have been working together for more than 30 years on nuclear development and construction in China.

Under last year’s agreement, CGN and EDF will collaborate on three UK nuclear plants: Hinkley Point C, in Somerset; Sizewell C, in Suffolk; and Bradwell, in Essex.

CGN intends to use Hualong One technology at Bradwell, which could be the first nuclear plant in a developed economy to use Chinese technology. The companies will seek to get the Hualong One technology approved in the UK via an assessment known as the Generic Design Assessment process. It usually takes about five years to complete.

China hopes that UK approval of its technology will open the door to its use in other countries because the UK’s appraisal regime is considered by industry experts to be the strictest in the world. The proposed Bradwell project is in an early
pre-planning stage, something that is likely to continue for many years, via investigative work and public consultation, before detailed proposals will be produced, allowing a planning application to be made.

June 19, 2017 Posted by | China, marketing, UK | Leave a comment

A joint commitment to fight climate change – European Union and China

Times 2nd June 2017 China and the European Union will announce a new joint commitment to combat global warming today, making a clear break from President Trump after he withdrew the United States from the Paris climate accord.

Critics said that Mr Trump’s promise to revive the coal industry could not be fulfilled. He was surrendering America’s leadership role on the world stage, they added – and China would step in. Nigel Purvis, a US climate negotiator under President Clinton, said: “Trump just handed the 21st century to China. It’s an opportunity for China to rebrand itself as the global leader.”

Mr Trump went against the advice of Rex Tillerson, his secretary of state; Gary Cohn, his chief economic adviser; his daughter, Ivanka; and the Pope. Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple, had called the White House on Wednesday to urge the president to rethink. Elon Musk, the Silicon Vally billionaire who leads Tesla, the electric car company, said that he would leave the two White House councils on which he served as an adviser. “Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world,” Mr Musk said.

“If I were a Chinese policymaker I’d be baffled as to why Trump had offered us an open goal,” said John Ashton, who spent years negotiating with China as the Foreign Office’s special envoy for climate change. Other countries may respond by redoubling thei r commitment to the accord, as China and Europe are doing, or by seeking to water down their pledges, as some fear that developing giants such as India and Brazil will do.

June 3, 2017 Posted by | China, climate change, EUROPE, politics international | Leave a comment

China suspends permits for new coal plants

China suspends permits for new coal plants as overcapacity policy bites, Energy Desk, May 16, 2017 by Zachary Davies Boren  @zdboren The Chinese government has ordered the vast majority of its provinces to stop permitting new coal power projects.

According to a statement from the National Energy Administration (NEA), 28 of China’s 31 mainland provinces do not currently have the right financial or environmental conditions to build new coal capacity.

This represents an update to the government’s ‘traffic light’ system, designed to tackle the country’s coal overcapacity crisis — that we reported on last year.

What is China’s coal ‘traffic light’ policy?

Last year the National Energy Administration kicked off a new scheme to determine whether provinces should build new coal- fired power stations.

The system, created so that the country would stop adding to its overcapacity crisis, assigns each province a colour to signify the viability of its coal pipeline — based on profitability, existing capacity and ‘resource constraints’ such as air pollution and water.

Red means no new coal projects should be permitted. Orange indicates local governments and coal companies should tread carefully. And green says that there is plenty space for new coal power.

24 provinces were issued red lights, 4 earned the orange light (which recommends not adding coal in much stronger language than last year) while only two were given the green light……..

We reported earlier this year that the permits for new coal plants in 2016 have declined 85% compared to 2015, but that the new permits are concentrated in areas of high water stress.

Data from the last two quarters (the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017) show this trend continues.

Over 70% of the projects in the permitting pipeline are in extremely water stressed areas, so-called overwithdrawal zones, where the water withdrawn from a basin exceeds its capability to renew.

June 2, 2017 Posted by | China, climate change | Leave a comment

After all these years, sill no model of the European Pressurised Reactor in operation

Dave Toke’s Blog 27th May 2017 It’s now the middle of 2017 and still, after 12 years of trying to build the French European Pressurised Reactor, there is still no model in operation. Even in China, which has, according to some of its domestic critics, let us say a more relaxed attitude to safety requirements compared to western agencies, the EPR at Taishan is still not generating electricity.

It was 16 months ago that the constructors announced that ‘cold start’ tests had been successful and that the whole of the plant (including two sets) would be fully functional this year (2017). Now they say that this will not happen, although one set ‘will’ be running sometime in the second half of this year. But then the plant, which begun construction in 2009, was supposed to be finished in 2013. This failure does present the question of how it is that other nuclear plant built in
China have not been subject to this much delay.

How can we explain this? The obvious reason is that the EPR is a turkey that is widely regarded as bordering on, if not actually, ‘unconstructable’. The difference with other nuclear plant built in China may simply be that the EPR was designed to suit western safety standards.

It’s an easy guess to say what this means for Chinese plans to build nuclear power plant in the UK! In France
construction at the EPR at Flamanville began in 2007 and completion by 2019 seems possible but uncertain. The other EPR at Olkiluoto started in 2005 and is about, so they say. to undergo ‘cold tests’. On the basis of what has happened in Taishan this doesn’t mean that it is about the generate electricity, though.

May 31, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, China, France | Leave a comment


THE WORLD’S LARGEST FLOATING SOLAR POWER PLANT JUST WENT ONLINE IN CHINA By Dallon Adams  May 23, 2017 China has announced that the largest floating photovoltaic (PV) facility on earth has finally been completed and connected to the local power grid. Long reviled for its carbon emission record, this is the Chinese government’s latest achievement in its ongoing effort to lead the world in renewable energy adoption.

Located in the city of Huainan in the Anhui province, the 40-megawatt facility was created by PV inverter manufacturer Sungrow Power Supply Co. Ironically, the floating grid itself was constructed over a flooded former coal-mining region.

Floating solar farms are becoming increasingly popular around the world because their unique design addresses multiple efficiency and city planning issues. These floating apparatuses free up land in more populated areas and also reduce water evaporation. The cooler air at the surface also helps to minimize the risk of solar cell performance atrophy, which is often related to long-term exposure to warmer temperatures.

This is just the first of many solar energy operations popping up around China. In 2016, the country unveiled a similar 20MW floating facility in the same area. China is also home to the Longyangxia Dam Solar Park, a massive 10-square-mile, land-based facility touted as the largest solar power plant on earth.

This transition to solar is in large part due to the rapidly plummeting cost of the technology itself. By 2020, China could reduce prices offered to PV developers by more than a third with solar power plants projected to rival coal facilities within a decade. The nation has also announced plans to increase its use of non-fissile fuel energy sources by 20 percent.

An annual report released by NASA and NOAA determined that 2016 was the warmest year on record globally, marking the third year in a row in which a new record was set for global average surface temperatures. That said, if we as a species hope to reverse this dire trend, initiatives like this and others will need to be adopted around the globe.

May 29, 2017 Posted by | China, renewable | Leave a comment

China installs giant containment dome on new nuclear reactor

China installs heavy containment dome on nuclear plant, Financial Express  China today successfully installed the heavy containment dome for its first domestically developed third-generation reactor design which may also be used at the Karachi nuclear plant where Beijing is building two 1100 mw reactors. By: PTI | Beijing: May 26, 2017  The hemispherical dome, weighing 340 tonnes and measuring 46.8 metres in diametre, was installed by crane on the No 5 unit of China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) in Fuqing City, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. The installation marks the completion of construction work on the pilot project and the beginning of the assembly stage, said Yu Peigen, deputy general manager of CNNC at the site of installation.

The dome will be used for protection against nuclear accidents under extreme conditions, and both its design and installation are very demanding processes, the report said. The design may be replicated in Karachi plant in Pakistan where China is building two 1100 mw reactors at a cost of USD 6.5 billion. “The installation is much more difficult than that of traditional nuclear reactors because the whole weight of the dome and the ropes is more than 500 tonnes,” said Yang Jianguo, the lifting commander at the site.

May 27, 2017 Posted by | China, technology | Leave a comment

China cancelling many coal mines, going all out for solar power

In September 2016, China’s cancelled more than 103 under-construction and planned coal-fired power plants, a total of 120 gigawatt hours (GWh) of capacity. In March this year, premier Li Keqiang announced that an additional 50GWh would be shut down or postponed. The coal power stopped in China so far is equivalent to the combined coal power capacity of the UK and Spain. China’s era of one coal-fired station a week is over.

China’s covering a Football field with Solar Panels Every Hour in Quest to End Coal,  | May. 10, 2017 By Janet Xuanli Liao | (The Conversation) | – –

China’s remarkable growth over the past three decades has elevated it to global superpower status. But its economic miracle has also attracted attention for the wrong reasons: the country is now the world’s largest energy consumer, oil importer, and CO₂ emitter. It led to the line that China builds a new coal-fired power station each week being faithfully and unquestioningly repeated. However, this is no longer a fair reflection of the country’s energy situation.The Conversation

It’s true that China consumes around a quarter of the world’s total primary energy and more than half its coal. This was once a necessity. The “open door” policy to foreign investment that began in the late 1970s led to rapid economic growth and, in turn, a spectacular rise in energy demand. Electricity consumption in China rose from just 232 kilowatt hours (KWh) in 1978 to nearly 6,000 terawatt hours (TWh) today – that is, six thousand billion kilowatt hours – and to keep up with demand, China needed coal.

However, coal as a proportion of China’s energy mix peaked at 75% in the late 1980s and by 2016 it had fallen to 62%, the lowest since the establishment of the People’s Republic in 1949. This was a result of Beijing taking serious measures in recent years to cut coal, in order to reduce domestic pollution and to tackle climate change.

One of these measures was the Top-1,000 Enterprises Energy-Saving Programme. Launched in 2006, the programme targeted the country’s largest energy-consuming firms in sectors like steel, petrochemicals, cement, and textiles. Together, these 1,000 enterprises accounted for a third of the nation’s energy consumption. The programme was quite effective and contributed towards China’s efforts to reduce its energy consumption per unit of GDP.

The government has also taken action to slow the country’s economic growth and set lower annual rate of GDP growth at 6.5% in the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020), against 9-10% in the previous three decades.

Pollution protests

With economic growth slowing and the heaviest polluters being forced to use less energy, coal generation was a natural choice to cut back. By this point, people in China were well aware of the problem with coal. And from the mid-2000s the pollution problem was becoming too serious to ignore, and civil society groups began to protest. Local authorities initially resisted the government’s “war on pollution” but last year brought about some of the worst smog ever recorded in China and the strongest response yet from the central authorities.

In September 2016, China’s cancelled more than 103 under-construction and planned coal-fired power plants, a total of 120 gigawatt hours (GWh) of capacity. In March this year, premier Li Keqiang announced that an additional 50GWh would be shut down or postponed. The coal power stopped in China so far is equivalent to the combined coal power capacity of the UK and Spain. China’s era of one coal-fired station a week is over.

A commitment to cutting emissions

Beijing’s long-standing opposition to international climate change obligations is well-known, at least prior to the 2015 UN conference in Paris. But things are changing. Though China’s coal capacity may yet increase slightly over the next few years, any growth will be dwarfed by planned investment in solar, wind and nuclear.

China is now the world’s largest backer of green energy, accounting for 17% of global investment in the sector. According to Greenpeace, it installed an average of more than one wind turbine every hour of every day in 2015. It also covered the equivalent of one soccer field with solar panels every hour, action that may allow China to meet its 2020 goals for solar installation two years ahead of schedule. By 2030 it is hoped that cleaner energy will help reduce China’s CO₂ emissions by 54% from 2010 levels.

This is good news because the inescapable fact is that efforts to mitigate climate change are doomed to fail if the Chinese do not get on board. Compared with other countries, China still has a long way to go. Britain, for instance, recently managed a day without coal for the first time in more than 130 years, while other countries have drastically cut their carbon footprint.

However, energy policy is, as with most aspects of Chinese life, more complicated and more susceptible to internal and external pressures than many observers believe. The reaction of the Chinese leadership to these pressures gives us hope that the country can free itself of dirty coal, and that this day may come sooner rather than later.

Janet Xuanli Liao, Senior Lecturer in International Relations and Energy Security Studies, University of Dundee

May 24, 2017 Posted by | China, renewable | Leave a comment

China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC) wanting to take over Britain’s Moorside nuclear project?

Times 21st May 2017 A Chinese state-owned power giant has set its sights on the £15bn nuclear plant planned for the Cumbrian coast. State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC) is considering investing in Toshiba’s troubled NuGen
project at Moorside — risking a collision with Theresa May and her new interventionist approach to foreign takeovers.

Industry sources said a delegation from SNPTC and its parent, State Power Investment Corporation, was due in London. Eight senior officials will meet executives from NuGen and Britain’s atomic power trade body, the Nuclear Industry Association, on Tuesday.

It is unclear whether the election hiatus will hinder meetings with Whitehall officials. The talks underline China’s ambitions in nuclear power after another state-owned giant, China General Nuclear, bankrolled the £18bn Hinkley Point plant in Somerset. CGN took a 33% stake in Hinkley but its ultimate ambition is to build a power station, fuelled
with its own home-grown reactors, at Bradwell in Essex.

Sources said SNPTC could seek to power NuGen with its own reactor — a derivative of Westinghouse’s AP1000 model, which is planned for the site. SNPTC could not be reached for comment. NuGen said it was exploring a “universe of
options” for investment.

May 22, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, China, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

Environmental pollution from North Korea’s underground nuclear tests a concern for China

China fears NK nuke leaks, Korea Times, By Oh Young-jin, 2017-05-21 China fears environmental contamination and earthquakes that may be triggered by North Korea’s underground nuclear tests, possibly bringing Beijing to the breaking point of its patience with its blood-sealed but increasingly defiant ally, a Chinese scholar said during an interview Friday.

“Chinese people in the northeast region that borders North Korea are fearful that they will fall victim to contaminated water and seismic disruptions from its nuclear blasts,” Professor Zhu Feng of Nanjing University told The Korea Times. The interview was held before his lecture on the Korea-China-U.S. relationship, sponsored by the Korea Foundation for Advanced Studies.Punggye-ri, North Hamgyong Province, which has served as the site for four of the five nuclear tests and will certainly accommodate a sixth, is within hundreds of kilometers of population centers in northeastern China. It is also quite close to Mt. Baekdu, a volcanic mountain that some experts fear may have another big eruption after the one in 946…….

May 22, 2017 Posted by | China, environment | Leave a comment

Chinese fighter jets buzz US ‘nuclear sniffer’ plane over East China Sea by Travis J. Tritten |  Two Chinese fighter jets intercepted a U.S. surveillance plane in the East China Sea on Wednesday amid larger diplomatic efforts over North Korea, the Air Force said.

The service said the crew members of the WC-135 nuclear-sniffing aircraft determined the Chinese pilots of the Su-30 jets were being “unprofessional.” The encounter was still under investigation.

“The issue is being addressed with China through appropriate diplomatic and military channels,” Pacific Air Forces spokeswoman Lt. Col. Lori Hodge said in a released statement.

The WC-135 Constant Phoenix is capable of detecting nuclear weapons activity and was deployed last month to Kadena Air Base on Japan’s far southern island of Okinawa as the North Koreans were ramping up missile testing.

Since then, the Trump administration has been looking to China to pressure the regime of Kim Jong Un to give up its ambitions for a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the U.S. mainland.

However, there is deep friction between China and the U.S. over that country’s territorial claims in the East China Sea, which includes the Korean peninsula and Japan.

May 20, 2017 Posted by | China, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

China and South Korea co-operating to reduce nuclear tensions

Xi, new South Korean leader talk nuclear, THE AUSTRALIAN, 11 May 17  Chinese President Xi Jinping and new South Korean President Moon Jae-in have discussed nuclear tensions, with the latter addressing the raft of problems posed by the North’s defiance.

Xi told Moon China had always upheld the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and that the nuclear issue should be resolved through talks, which were in everyone’s interests, according to a state television report.

China was willing to keep working hard with all parties, including South Korea, for the peace and prosperity of the Korean peninsula, he said.

Despite its anger at North Korea’s repeated nuclear and missile tests, China remains the isolated state’s most important economic and diplomatic backer even with Beijing signing up for tough UN sanctions against Pyongyang.

Beijing also has its own issues with Seoul. China has vigorously opposed the deployment of a US anti-missile system in South Korea, saying it threatens Chinese security and will do nothing to resolve tensions with North Korea……..

Moon said in his first speech as president on Wednesday he would immediately begin efforts to defuse security fears on the Korean peninsula and would negotiate with Washington and Beijing to ease tensions over the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system in the South…..

May 12, 2017 Posted by | China, politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

Presidents of China and South Korea team up to influence North Korea against nuclear aggression

China, South Korea seek to steer North from nuclear path, DW 11 May 17 The presidents of China and South Korea have agreed they want North Korea to move away from its agenda of atomic antagonism. A US missile-defense system deployed on the peninsula was also a topic of conversation. In his first talk with Chinese President Xi Jinping since being sworn in as South Korea’s president, South Korea’s Moon Jae-in  sought common ground with China on North Korea’s nuclear program.

“The resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue must be comprehensive and sequential, with pressure and sanctions used in parallel with negotiations,” Moon’s spokesman, Yoon Young-chan, said the president had told Xi. “Sanctions against North Korea are also a means to bring the North to the negotiating table.”

The presidents also discussed the contentious Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system the United States installed in South Korea to Beijing’s chagrin…….

May 12, 2017 Posted by | China, politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

China tells its citizens – Get out of North Korea

GET OUT: North Korea ‘ready’ for new nuclear test, Northern Star, 4th May 2017 CHINA has called for all of its citizens to return from North Korea immediately as a US citizen is detained for allegedly trying to overthrow the country’s regime……

May 5, 2017 Posted by | China, North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

Chinese diplomat warns that talk between USA and North Korea is essential – tipping point is near

Talk or risk reaching nuclear tipping point, Chinese diplomat warns US and North Korea
Kim Jong-un has stabilised his regime and it is unrealistic to expect it to collapse under the weight of sanctions, former deputy foreign minister says,
03 May, 2017, South China Morning Post, Laura Zhou, North Korea’s missile and nuclear technology might reach a tipping point if Washington and Pyongyang refuse to negotiate, a senior Chinese diplomat has warned.

In an analysis piece published on Sunday by US think tank the Brookings Institution, Fu Ying, chairwoman of the National People’s Congress’ Foreign Affairs Committee, said it was unrealistic to expect the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to succumb to pressure of sanctions or collapse.

“Sanctions may exert huge pressure, but the country can hold up and will not give up nuclear development because of them,” wrote Fu, who is also a former deputy foreign minister.

“It is not hard to see that this situation could make the issue drag on into a spiral of intensified sanctions and continued nuclear testing until [North] Korean nuclear and missile technologies reach a tipping point.”

She said that once that point was reached, the countries opposing Pyongyang’s possession of nuclear weapons would be “faced with the hard choice of taking extreme action with unknown consequences, or tolerating it”……..

She also repeated Beijing’s call for a “double suspension” – that Pyongyang suspend its nuclear and missile tests in exchange for a halt of large scale US-South Korean military exercises.

Fu said China did not have leverage over North Korea because Pyongyang’s security concerns in the face of US military threats had not been addressed.

Trump said on Monday that he would consider meeting Kim “under the right circumstances”.

Lu Chao, from the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, said Trump’s offer could be “positive” to the Korean crisis.

“As Fu Ying said, the key has never been owned by China,” Lu said. “The problem can only be solved by the two sides [the US and North Korea].

“I don’t think Kim would really want to wage a war with the US.”

May 3, 2017 Posted by | China, North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment