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Hitachi boss just like proverbial general fighting the last war

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A new nuclear power plant planned by Horizon Nuclear Power Ltd., a subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd., would have been situated on the island of Anglesey in Wales
January 19, 2019
“Generals always fight the last war” is an aphorism meaning that military leaders tend to draw upon their experiences from the previous war when planning a new strategy.
Their strategy is doomed to failure because of their inability to keep up with the times by staying abreast of technological renovations and exploring new types of warfare.
Their counterparts seem to exist in present-day Japan.
Trying to “fight the last war,” such individuals are to be found among nuclear plant manufacturers as well as within the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
Apparently, they cannot forget the good old 2000s, the era of global “Nuclear Renaissance.”
Memories of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl were starting to fade into oblivion then, and that helped revive nuclear plant construction. And with the nuclear industry becoming energized in various countries, Japan was determined to grab a share of the pie, and both the public and private sectors joined forces to push nuclear plant export.
And unbelievably, they keep this up even after the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011.
Did they believe the Fukushima disaster would have little impact on the rest of the world?
They were utterly wrong, of course. Nuclear plant construction costs skyrocketed due to reinforced safety standards.
One after another, export projects were aborted. A Hitachi project in Britain was frozen. Losses amounting to 300 billion yen wiped out the bulk of annual profit.
It is hard to believe that Japanese industry and the government, which bear grave responsibility for the Fukushima disaster, could have been so oblivious to change.
Or could it be that they were simply unable to think straight because they could not find a business they could sell to the rest of the world?
Hitachi Chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi is also chairman of Keidanren (Japan Business Federation). At a recent news conference, Nakanishi created a stir by strongly advocating restarts of off-line nuclear reactors.
Is he growing frustrated and impatient over stalled exports? He obviously is totally out of touch with Japanese public opinion that has grown sensitive to the risks inherent in nuclear power generation.
I am convinced Nakanishi is the proverbial general who keeps fighting the last war.
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January 20, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Sun setting on Japan’s nuclear export sector

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December 16, 2018
Post-Fukushima cost overruns may kill a giant power project in Turkey, and there are few other deals to replace it
Japan’s nuclear export industry could be dealt a fatal blow if Mitsubishi Heavy Industries pulls out of a massive project to build four large power plants on Turkey’s Black Sea coast, as reports have suggested.
The Sinop plant project in Turkey was seen as Japan’s best chance for an industry – battered and bruised after the 2011 tsunami and triple meltdown at Fukushima – to put together a workable export strategy that did not break the bank of potential international customers.
Aside from Sinop, the Japanese industry has only one viable export project still upcoming: Hitachi’s bid to build two reactors on the island of Anglesey in Britain. And even that deal is looking shaky.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has not pulled the plug yet on its stake in the four-reactor project on Turkey’s Black Sea coast, but a slew of domestic media reports and talk in Tokyo, suggests that, in the face of seemingly ever-rising construction costs to meet new safety standards that have been put in place since the 2011 Fukushima disaster, the company will bail.
Fukushima legacy
When the deal was signed with Ankara in 2013, the ownership profile was: 65% awarded to a consortium made up of MHI, Itochu, France’s Areva, and GDF Suez. The other 35% was covered by Turkey’s electric power utility, Elektrik Uretim.
However, in April, Itochu pulled out of the consortium, citing cost overruns. That left the consortium with 51%, and the remaining 49% owned by the Turkish utility.
Without Mitsubishi the viability of the project is in question, sources say, unless Turkey can find a new partner or is willing to take on the project without its largest foreign partner. The Russians, who are building a nuclear complex on Turkey’s southern Mediterranean coast, might be interested.
According to Kyodo, a thorough cost evaluation was to be completed by the end of this year. Itochu waited for the report to be released before bailing out of the deal. MHI is apparently waiting for the study to be completed before deciding its next move.
When the deal with Mitsubishi was signed in 2013, the estimated cost was $18 billion for four 1,100-megawatt nuclear power plants. But overall costs have soared, passing $42 billion in April – when Itochu withdrew, and is now put at about $44 billion.
Cost increases are nothing new in the nuclear power industry, but have been exacerbated in recent years by expensive adjustments phased in to meet more stringent safety concerns following the earthquake and tsunami that destroyed four units of the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The Sinop cost rises, however, also encompass other problems encountered in construction.
Fukushima, one of the most serious nuclear accidents in history, turned most of Japan against nuclear power. Before March 11, 2011, Japan had 54 nuclear plants. All were shut down after the accident and some are slowly returning to service having passed scrutiny by the regulator. Five are expected to restart within the next five years, and eight will likely be decommissioned. But prospects for the remaining plants are unclear.
Aware that no new nuclear plant may ever be built at home amid the anti-atomic public mood, Japan’s nuclear vendors have turned to overseas exports as the Fukushima accident does not appear to have destroyed the Japanese industry brand in other countries.
Endgame for nuclear exports?
If Mitsubishi does pull out of the huge project in Turkey it will be a blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who sees international exports of nuclear technology as an important way to boost the economy. On his many trips abroad, he often acts as a salesman for nuclear exports. For example, it was a topic of discussion with Turkish President Recep Erdogan on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting in Argentina.
Details of the conversation were not revealed, but it would be a good bet that they discussed the Sinop project with the threat of Mitsubishi hanging over them, and that Abe sought ways to keep the project viable.
Meanwhile, it is not just MHI that may have doubts about the sector. Japan’s nuclear export industry has suffered plenty of setbacks in the seven years since Fukushima. Questions about the future of the sector hang over all three main players in the sector.
Toshiba, one of Japan’s big-three nuclear constructors, recently pulled out of the nuclear power business overseas after incurring huge losses in the United States.
Toshiba has also suffered something of an administrative meltdown in its quest to win construction contracts in the US. In February it finally unloaded it money-losing American subsidiary, Westinghouse, for $1 billion less than it paid to acquire the company 10 years ago.
If the export program is to remain viable, it may be in Wales, where the British government is seeking to build a two-reactor nuclear power plant on the island of Anglesey. Among those bidding for the project is Japan’s third nuclear constructor, Hitachi, through a subsidiary called Horizon Nuclear.
In the nuclear world, there are constructors – like MHI, Toshiba and Hitachi – and operators, who run the plant after it is completed, and they are not always the same. Japan learned from Korea’s successful bid to build six nuclear plants in the United Arab Emirates that offering to build and also run them – a one-stop service – is key to making sales.
Hitachi is teaming up with the Japan Atomic Power Company, which operates two plants in Japan (although both are currently shut down pending the review by regulators). The plan is to present the British with a package deal.
Now, there are worries that Hitachi might pull out of the British project. Chairman Hiroaka Nakanishi was quoted in the Times of London saying his company was “facing an extreme situation,” and that a final decision on whether to stay with the project or leave it will be made next year.
If Mitsubishi does, as is widely expected, pull out of the huge project in Turkey, the only egg left in Japan’s overseas nuclear export basket will be Wales.

December 20, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO seeks nuclear power industry tie-up with key players

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Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant
August 22, 2018
Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc., operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, has begun talks with the nuclear industry’s key players about a possible tie-up for maintenance and management services and decommissioning of reactors.
The company is in discussions with Chubu Electric Power Co., Hitachi Ltd. and Toshiba Corp., according to sources.
If the talks go well, a consolidation of the nuclear industry could be in the cards, the sources said.
TEPCO seeks to restart two of the seven reactors at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture in the near future. Both are boiling water reactors, the same type as those that are to be decommissioned at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
TEPCO operates 11 boiling water reactors, seven of which are located at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant. The remainder are located at the Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant.
However, the utility announced in June it would pull the plug on the Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant, which suffered damage in the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami and narrowly escaped a serious disaster like at its sister plant.
Chubu Electric also operates three boiling water reactors at its Hamaoka nuclear plant in Shizuoka Prefecture. The plant’s two other reactors are in the process of decommissioning.
Hitachi and Toshiba were both involved in the design and construction of those reactors.
The four parties seek to streamline their nuclear energy operations through cooperation in maintenance and management services as well as safety management of their facilities after the restarts of their reactors.
Utilities today face an exceedingly higher price tag for bolstering safety precautions at their plants that are required under the stricter new reactor regulations put in place in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima No. 1 disaster.
With none of their reactors back online, TEPCO and Chubu Electric fell behind other utilities.
Kansai Electric Power Co. and other operators of pressurized water reactors have restarted their plants.
Meanwhile, work to decommission reactors is looming large for TEPCO and other utilities, as many reactors are aging and nearing their 40-year life span.
The four companies are also expected to discuss possible construction of new nuclear plants in the coming years.
TEPCO plans to call on other electric power companies to join a consortium it seeks to set up in fiscal 2020 in connection with its project to construct the Higashidori nuclear plant in Aomori Prefecture. The construction of the facility has been suspended since the quake and tsunami.

August 27, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , , , , | Leave a comment

Hitachi to take a 70 billion yen hit after U.S nuclear project fails

The nuke biz is going down like dominoes. Hitachi announces a nearly $6.2 billion loss on its U.S. uranium enrichment joint effort with GE.

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Electronics giant Hitachi Ltd. is set to lose tens of billions of yen this fiscal year due to the withdrawal from a project to develop a new method of uranium enrichment by a joint venture in the United States.

The loss, forecast by Hitachi on Feb. 1, was disclosed shortly after Toshiba Corp. made a similar announcement last month of deficits brought on by its nuclear power business.

Hitachi is expected to report a 70 billion yen ($620 million) non-operating loss by the time books are closed for fiscal 2016 at the end of March, said Mitsuaki Nishiyama, a senior vice president of the Tokyo-based conglomerate, in a news conference on the company’s performance through the third quarter.

The deficit is largely attributed to the joint venture GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Inc. withdrawing from the uranium enrichment project. Due to this decision, Hitachi no longer expects any profits from the North Carolina-based company, of which it owns 40 percent and the rest by General Electric.

After allocating the losses, the value of Hitachi’s share of the joint venture comes to only about 11 billion yen.

Despite the gloomy news, Nishiyama said that “there are no more large deficit risks.”

Hitachi and GE were expecting more nuclear power plants to be built when they launched the joint fuel enrichment business, but orders have been sluggish across the globe, forcing the project to be shelved.

Nevertheless, Hitachi will be sticking with its nuclear power business. The company said that it plans to proceed with its project to build a plant in Britain by ensuring costs are thoroughly managed.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201702020042.html

February 3, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | 3 Comments

Japan Nuclear Industry on the Defensive

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METI proposed that TEPCO would start a subsidiary to manage all its nuclear plants. Saying it would facilitate restarting the reactors at the Kashiwazaki Kariwa NPP, as since the beginning of the Tepco-owned Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster the government planned to use profits from the Tepco-owned Kashiwazaki-Kariwa NPP to finance the Fukushima Daiichi disaster costs;  and that it would also encourage collaboration among other utilities nuclear power plants, and make merger or sale easier. METI thinks such change would also encourage the public to support nuclear reactors restarting.

As the total decommissionning costs could double, Tepco would also like the rules to be changed so as not take an added large loss on their books.

One day later Hitachi announced that they consider merging their nuclear business with Toshiba and Mistubishi.

These recent new developments show Japan nuclear industry on the defensive, former PM Koizumi warned the Liberal Democratic Party could lose the next election if it focuses on the nuclear power issue.

https://dunrenard.wordpress.com/2016/10/29/industry-ministry-unveils-plan-to-split-nuclear-power-division-from-tepco/

October 30, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment