While environmentalists seem to want to eliminate nuclear energy in the U.S., the world is moving ahead with plans to build many new reactors with or without U.S. participation, largely because of the economic and strategic benefits of having control over one’s own energy source but also because of the environmental benefits from nuclear. Nuclear leaves the largest amount of environment clean and untouched, unlike fossil fuels or renewables. Countries see nuclear power as a means of reducing the millions of premature deaths caused by fossil fuel pollution as well as a way to begin reducing fossil fuels’ impacts on climate. Even countries like Saudi Arabia are looking to build nuclear power plants because of their awareness of the climate hazards of continuing to use carbon-based fuels. Historically, America’s role has been to help construct plants, train operators and set standards for the safe and secure use of nuclear power and nuclear fuels around the world. Which means that eliminating the U.S. from future global activity will have significant economic as well as geopolitical implications, as countries like Russia, South Korea, India and China vie to make themselves indispensable sources of nuclear energy products and services.
There are 30 countries considering, planning or starting nuclear power programs, and a further 20 or so countries have at some point expressed an interest. Among these, Russia is known to be the primary influence on the procurement process for the following countries: Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, Sudan, Zambia, Kazakhstan, Venezuela, Bolivia, Paraguay, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Philippines, Cuba, and Uzbekistan. China is working to sell its technology to: Turkey, Sudan, Kenya, Thailand, Cambodia and Uganda.
While there is too much news about international nuclear activity for us to capture it all, we hope this sampling of the types of things going on can help those evaluating the wisdom of letting anti-nuclear opponents force the U.S. to concede its historic leadership within this important market, recognize the folly of that option, especially when so many more countries are hoping to become nuclear energy users.
INTERNATIONAL NUCLEAR NEWS
January 24, 2020 - Resulting from the British goal of having a net-zero carbon economy by 2050, Paul Stein-chief technology officer for Rolls-Royce- declared his company's ambition of commissioning small modular reactors (SMRs) across the UK. In an interview on the Radio 4’s Today Programme, Stein said "Our plan is to get energy on the grid in 2029. The obvious sites to put them are what we call brownfeld sites; sites where we're running elderly or decommissioned nuclear power stations. There are two sites in Wales and one in the northwest of England. Eventually in the UK we’ll be rolling out 10 to 15. We're also looking to a significant export market. In fact the current estimate for the export market for SMRs is GBP250 billion [USD328 billion], so this could be a huge industry."
Last November, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) announced that it would fund a consortium, GBP36 million joint public and private investment, lead by Rolls-Royce for its SMR project. The rest of the consortium comprises of Assystem, Atkins, BAM Nuttall, Laing O’Rourke, National Nuclear Laboratory, Nuclear AMRC, Wood and The Welding Institute. Stein also commented. "The UK government has indicated that it will put in some - less than half - of the money, and the consortium members themselves are so convinced that this is a solid business case that we’re putting our own money into it. And private equity, which doesn't tend to invest in things on a whim, is also now approaching us and we already have letters of intent. This is an awful lot of jobs for the UK. We've calculated 40,000 jobs for the UK, given the home market and the exports, spread around all of the United Kingdom, repurposing some industrial areas and reviving parts of our nuclear industry."
Growing technologies on an international basis are helping to establish nuclear energy and plan for sustainability in the future. Government bodies funding these projects is a necessity for the coming years and companies such as Rolls-Royce are on the cutting edge nuclear technology. Furthermore, enabling us to create a more sustainable world economy.
January 03, 2020 - As we enter the next decade, climate change is becoming an increasingly foccussed upon issue and for good reason. It is the most important issue of our time and nuclear energy is a vital primary source to combat the changing climate. Unfortunately, global nuclear generating capacity actually decreased from 2018. This carbonless energy source is currently being utilized by a mulititude of start-up companies. However, these companies are outputting less clean energy than the amount being taken away by closing power plants.
Six new (added to the grid last year) nuclear power reactors generated 5,241 MWe of capacity for 2019. These included the Taishan 2 and Yangjiang 6 from China, Unit 4 of South Korea's Shin Kori plant, the Novovoronezh II unit 2 in Russia, and the Akademik Lomonosov. The Akademik Lomonosov is Russia's first floating power plant which contains two 32 MWe reactors. Unfortunately, this ingenuity could only match a little more than half of the new nuclear generating capacity 0f 2018 (10,420 MWe). Compared to the new generating capacity of 5,241 MWe, a combined nuclear capacity of 5976 MWe was shut down last year. Even though nuclear energy is a clean energy necesity for decades to come, the world still seems to be moving in the wrong direction.
In the United States, the story doesn't change. The US shut down two nuclear reactors (Pilgrim and Three Mile Island 1) while only adding 177 MWe worth of new nuclear power capacity. This 177 MWe of new capacity only came from power uprates at Browns Ferry 2 and Peach Bottom 2. On a global scale and at home, regulators from various nations need to focus on implementing nuclear energy in their country. Because without the mass amount of carbonless energy from nuclear power, climate change becomes an unsolvable problem.
December 13, 2019 - At the request of Energy Minister Angus Taylor, the parliament's House Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy began a formal inquiry into Australia's use of nuclear energy in the coming years. To conclude the government inquiry, the committee released Not without your approval: A way forward for nuclear technology in Australia. The report has three key recommendations for the Australian government.
First, the committee found that nuclear energy should, in fact, be apart of the mix of energy sources in the coming years. Australia should be "strategic in approaching the possibility of entering the nuclear energy industry" and "holistic in thinking about nuclear technology". Secondly, the Australian government should commit researchers to deepen the government's understanding of nuclear energy. The committee believes different assessments should be made to discover the feasibility and suitability to Australia, economic impacts and costs, and requirements that need to be in place. The third, and possibly most important recommendation is to partially lift the moratorium placed on nuclear energy for new technologies.
Committee chairman and Member of Parliament for Fairfax in Queensland, Ted O'Brien, commented, "Nuclear energy should be on the table for consideration as part of our future energy mix. Australia should say a definite 'No' to old nuclear technologies but a conditional 'Yes' to new and emerging technologies, such as small modular reactors. And most importantly, the Australian people should be at the centre of any approval process."
December 11, 2019 - IAEA, International Atomic Energy Agency, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi spoke at a side event at COP25on Sustainable Development Goal in Madrid. The event, Accelerating the energy transformation in support of sustainable development and the Paris Agreement, was created to promote sustainable energy and transition the world towards carbonless energy sources. Grossi is a huge supporter of nuclear energy and he pointed to the fact that nuclear energy provides 10% of the world's energy and a third of its low carbon energy. As Grossi put it, "Renewables such as wind and solar power are growing in importance. But these are intermittent energy sources which cannot meet countries' needs on their own. That means more use of nuclear power will be needed. Nuclear power offers a steady, reliable supply of electricity. It can provide continuous, low-carbon power to back up the increasing use of renewables. It can be the key that unlocks their potential by providing flexible support - day or night, rain or shine."
However, he also believes that nuclear and renewable should not act as competitors to one another. Ultimately, both industries are working towards the same goals: sustainable and clean energy for decades to come. Instead, nuclear and renewables should be working hand in hand competing against fossil fuels. Grossi also pointed out that 7 power reactors have been connected to the grid over the past five years. Four countries are building their first nuclear power plants and 55 power plants are currently under construction. "In coming years, technological advances and new funding models are likely to improve the economic attractiveness, safety and cost-effectiveness of nuclear power," he said, "For example, small modular reactors could make nuclear power feasible on smaller grids, and in remote settings, and for non-electrical applications."
December 09, 2019 - A core catcher's serves in preventative measures as it catches the molten core reactor in the very improbable event of a nuclear meltdown. This core catcher is a new generation of devices that was recently installed in the Kundankulam site in India. "It has improved seismic resistance, hydro-dynamic and shock strength and is also equipped with flood protection and simplified installation and assembly technology." After 2 years of construction, Russia's AtomStroyExport (ASE), the engineering department of the Russian government nuclear program, announced its completion and instillation. ASE been in charge of foreign projects all across the world, in fact, 80% of their revenues are from plants outside of Russia.
October 09, 2019 - GE Hitachi Nuclear has recently announced their collaboration on applications for their BWRX-300 small modular reactor with the Estonia based energy company, Fermi Energia. The Executive Vice President of Nuclear Plant Projects for GE Hitachi commented, “Our BWRX-300 small modular reactor is breakthrough technology that is designed to be cost competitive with gas and renewables and we think it represents an ideal solution for Estonia’s carbon-free energy needs.” For the time being, both companies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to determine the economical plication of constructing these small modular reactors.
The BWRX-300 simplified design causes it to cost up to 60 percent less per MW produced in comparison to other nuclear reactors. Because of this dramatic reduction in starting capital, GE Hitachi believes that their BWRX-300 can be economically competitive with natural gas and renewable energy sources. The technological advances in GE's nuclear energy department come as no surprise as the BWRX-300 is the tenth evolution of GE’s first Boiling Water Reactor. The BWRX-300 holds the spot as the companies most advanced and innovative design since GE began developing reactors in 1955.
September 30, 2019 - Due to drought caused by climate change, Zambia has been crippled in their energy development and production and their entire economy as a whole. The head of the Zambia Atomic Energy Agency (ZAMATOM), Rowland Msiska stated, “In 2015/16 Zambia experienced low power production due to prolonged drought. This caused a reduction of approximately 40% of the economic growth rate". Regardless of the past economic state of Zambia, their land is abundant with natural and mineral resources.
President Edgar Lungu has announced twice in two different years that Zambia is pursuing nuclear energy as apart of their energy portfolio. His announcements, on both September of 2015 and 2016, portray the unproductive and slow-paced nature of Zambia establishing nuclear power. Unfortunately, this might lead to another energy deficit in the country in the last few years.
“The 2018/19 looks to be a repeat of 2015/16,” Msiska argues. “The decision to embrace nuclear energy will help the country in achieving the goals of the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) such as economic diversification and job creation; industry and economic growth and enhancing human development.” Zambia is one of several African countries that have agreed to a US$30 billion deal with Russia to help in the process of developing nuclear power plants.
January 29, 2019 — According to Enerdata, Russian nuclear group Rosenergoatom has announced that its nuclear power generation in Russia reached a new record high in 2018, reaching 204 TWh (+0.7% compared with 2017 levels). Three nuclear power plants contributed to achieve this record production and accounted for 46% of Rosenergoatom's total nuclear generation, namely the Kalinin nuclear power plant with 35 TWh, the Balakovo nuclear power plant with over 31 TWh and the Leningrad nuclear power plant with over 28 TWh.
Rosenergoatom is the largest power generation company in Russia and encompasses all 10 Russian nuclear power plants, corresponding to 35 power blocks with a cumulated installed capacity of 29 GW. In 2018, two new reactors were launched, namely the first block of the Leningrad-2 nuclear power plant (innovative VVER-1200 reactor rated 1,085 MW) and the fourth block of the Rostov nuclear power plant (1,011 MW).
Rosenergoatom has also launched the development of small floating nuclear power plants of less than 100 MW based on the icebreakers of the White Sea. The first project, the OPK Pevek power barge, is under construction (64 MW). Commissioning was delayed and is now expected for 2019.
January 15, 2019 — A joint feasibility study on the deployment of NuScale's small modular reactor in Jordan will be carried out through a memorandum of understanding signed between NuScale Power and the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC). The feasibility study will inform JAEC's decision on moving forward with the project as part of Jordan's planned deployment of nuclear power plants.
"As Jordan considers its energy future, I'm confident that the unmatched resiliency and safety features of NuScale's SMR technology make us the ideal partner on the Kingdom's nuclear power goals," said NuScale Power Chairman and CEO John Hopkins. "We look forward to using the agreement to showcase our SMR's unique capabilities, cost benefits and flexibility, all of which demonstrate what a game-changer this technology will be for Jordan."
"NuScale is at the forefront of US SMR technology," said Khaled Toukan, chairman of JAEC. "We look forward to this collaboration to assess the viability and potential for deployment of NuScale SMR technology in Jordan."
NuScale's self-contained SMR design houses the reactor core, pressuriser and steam generator inside a single containment vessel. A single module can generate 50 MWe (gross) of electricity and at just under 25 metres in length, 4.6 metres in diameter and weighing 450 tonnes, incorporates simple, redundant, diverse, and independent safety features, the company says. A power plant could include up to 12 modules to produce as much as 720 MWe (gross).
NuScale's SMR is undergoing design certification review by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the first and so far only SMR to do so. The NRC completed the first phase of its review in April last year, and the regulator is scheduled to complete its safety evaluation report in August 2020. NuScale expects the application to be approved by the commission the following month.
January 4, 2019 — India currently expects to bring 21 new nuclear power reactors with a combined generating capacity of 15,700 MWe into operation by 2031, the country's minister of state for the Department of Atomic Energy and the Prime Minister's Office told parliament yesterday.
In a written answer to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Jitendra Singh said: "At present, there are nine nuclear power reactors at various stages of construction." These include two units in each of the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Haryana, plus three in Tamil Nadu. All these units are scheduled to be completed by 2024-2025, Singh was cited as saying by The Times of India.
"In addition, 12 more nuclear power reactors have been accorded administrative approval and financial sanction by the government in June 2017," he told parliament. "Thus, 21 nuclear power reactors, with an installed capacity of 15,700 MWe are under implementation, envisaged for progressive completion by the year 2031."
Singh also noted that five sites have been granted "in principle" approval to establish a further 28 reactors. These sites are Jaitapur in Maharashtra, Kovvada in Andhra Pradesh, Chhaya Mithi Virdi in Gujarat, Haripur in West Bengal and Bhimpur in Madhya Pradesh.
In response to a separate question in the Rajya Sabha, Singh stated: "There are presently no proposals for accord of administrative approval and financial sanction of nuclear power projects pending with the government."
India currently has 22 power reactors in operation at seven plant sites with a combined capacity of 6780 MWe.
Czech Republic in 2019 will announce a tender for the construction of nuclear power plants. December 9, 2018
CZECH REPUBLIC (VOP TODAY NEWS) — The Czech Republic plans to take a decision in 2019 to announce a tender for the construction of a new nuclear power plant in the country, said the Minister of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic Mart Novakova. According to her, both the government and the CEZ company are negotiating with all potential technology suppliers. The minister stressed that for all bidders there will be “transparent transparent conditions that will reflect both technological issues, price, and methods of financing, and above all, compliance, guarantees on terms. . . . A very important criterion will also be the criterion of attracting Czech companies to supply under this tender, because, undoubtedly, in the future we will insist that nuclear power be in Czech hands, including service,” the minister said. In early August, the head of Rosatom State Corporation, Alexey Likhachev, reported that the state corporation plans to participate in a tender for the construction of new NPP units in the Czech Republic. “Of course, we are planning. Most likely, in alliances,” he said, answering the corresponding question. Currently, there are two nuclear power plants in the Czech Republic: the Dukovany NPP (4 power units with VVER-440 reactors) and the Temelin NPP (2 VVER-1000 units).
China and Belgium sign agreement for nuclear power partnership. According to Grace Kimberley in an article published on October 19, 2018, Belgium and China have signed an agreement for the development of a new nuclear energy project in Brussels. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel were involved in the signing of the new accords, which include a nuclear cooperation framework agreement, intended to boost technology and innovation sharing in the goal of expanding nuclear's clean generation capabilities. China currently upholds around 45 operational nuclear power reactors, with around 15 in construction phase and Belgium is said to have 7 reactors, which are producing approximately 50 per cent of the country’s power.
First AP1000 starts operation. On October 11, Westinghouse Electric Co., and its customers China State Nuclear Power Technology Corp. (SNPTC) and CNNC Sanmen Nuclear Power Co. announced the world’s first AP1000 plant in Sanmen, Zhejiang Province, China, is fully operational. Sanmen 1 is one of six nuclear units featuring AP1000 reactor technology that are progressing through construction, testing, and startup. The others are Sanmen 2; two units in Haiyang, in China’s Shandong Province; and Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4 in the U.S., which recently received partner approval to continue construction despite cost overruns. Courtesy: SNPTC
Modern Ghana: Ghana Invests In Nuclear Energy To Combat Climate Change, by Evelyn Addor, September 15, 2018. The Director of Renewables and Nuclear Energy at the Ministry of Energy, Mr. Wisdom Ahiataku-Togobo, said government is looking at investing in nuclear energy as a long term project by adding 1.1 megawatts of nuclear power to the energy mix by 2029. He indicated that the process for nuclearisation has already begun with the Ghana Atomic Commission. Mr. Ahiataku-Togobo noted that the project was launched in 2014 together with the passage of the Nuclear Regulatory Bill which government is the process of identifying suitable sites for consideration for the project.He added that the country has currently passed the first phase of the regulation by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The Sun: Electric car dream: Theresa May urged to build 10 more nuclear power plants to get millions of electric cars on the road, told to open 10 nuclear power plants in bid to get cars to go electrical by 2050. The Prime Minister was urged to fast-track the building of ten nuclear power plants or forget her dream of millions of electric cars on the roads. Unions said the Government would have to raise electricity supply by 30 gigawatts to get 35 million electric cars by 2050. Justin Bowden, GMB National Secretary said: “We call on Government and the National Grid to plan and invest now in major infrastructure up- grading and development.” The National Grid says it could cope with the ban on petrol and diesel cars as early as 2030.
World Nuclear News, Barakah 1 construction formally complete, March 26, 2018: President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan today attended a ceremony to celebrate the completion of construction at the United Arab Emirates’ first nuclear power reactor, called Barakah 1. This is a South Korean-designed APR-1400 pressurized water reactor, which is now preparing to receive an operating license from the UAE’s nuclear regulator, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR). [RT]
Japan Atomic Industrial Forum, Seventh NPP Restarted: Genkai-3, March 23, 2018. Japan’s Kyushu Electric Power Company announced today that they restarted Unit 3 of the Genkai Nuclear Power Plant in Saga Prefecture, southwestern Japan. The reactor resumed operations for the first time since December 2010, when it went offline for a routine inspection. The reactor runs on mixed oxide (MOX) fuel, which is a mixture of plutonium extracted from spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and uranium. Genkai-3 became the seventh nuclear reactor that has been restarted under the country’s stricter safety standards introduced in July 2013 following the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi NPP in northeastern Japan in March 2011. Kyushu Electric plans to reactivate Genkai-4 in May this year. [RT]
NucNet, Switzerland’s Beznau-1 Reconnected To Grid After RPV Checks, March 20, 2018. The Swiss operator Axpo announced yesterday that Unit 1 of the Beznau Nuclear Power Plant (KKB) in Döttingen, Canton of Aargau, Switzerland, was reconnected to the national power grid following the approval of the Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (ENSI) and after undergoing extensive tests and inspections during commissioning. The plant had been offline since a routine outage in March 2015 after defects were found in its reactor pressure vessel (RPV). The plant will take up full-load operation in the upcoming days. [RT]
Japan Atomic Industrial Forum, Ohi-3 Becomes Japan’s First 1000 Mw-Class NPP to Be Restarted, March 16, 2018. Japan’s Kansai Electric Power Company (Kansai EP or KEPCO) on March 14 restarted Unit 3 of the Ohi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukui Prefecture, located on the Sea of Japan coast, just 14km from Kansai EP’s Takahama NPP, where two reactors (Units 3 and 4) are already in operation. Ohi-3 reached criticality in the morning of March 15 and resumed power generation in the evening of March 16. [RT]
World Nuclear News, Leningrad II-1 starts pilot operation, March 9, 2018. Unit 1 of the Leningrad II Nuclear Power Plant in the town of Sosnovy Bor in Russia’s Leningrad Oblast was connected to the national power grid and started delivering first kilowatt-hours of electricity to the power grid on March 9. The VVER-1200/491 pressurized water reactor (PWR) at Leningrad II-1 is Russia’s 37th reactor in a fleet that currently provides about 19 percent of the country’s electricity needs. Innovative and the most powerful power units to date with VVER-1200 reactors that are being built at the Leningrad II NPP belong to the latest Generation III+ reactor design. They combine the most advanced achievements and developments that meet all post-Fukushima Daiichi requirements. These units are unique and have no analogues in the world. The first similar unit was launched at the end of 2016 at Novovoronezh II-1, with a VVER-1200/392M reactor. [RT]
Bloomberg News, As Saudis Go Nuclear, US Seeks an Edge Over Great-Power Rivals, by Ethan Bonner and Jennifer A. Dlouhy, February 19, 2018. Saudi Arabia had identified a handful of countries that could build two nuclear reactors in the kingdom. The U.S. wasn’t among them — until Energy Secretary Rick Perry buttonholed the Saudi delegates and told them America wanted in. A glance at the current list of contenders shows the geopolitical perils that accompany this business opportunity. American allies South Korea and France are on it — and so are China and Russia, recently designated by the Pentagon as the main U.S. threats. Reactor-building is in great demand around the world, and based upon the activity of many other countries, is primed to become an arena of superpower rivalry.
HindustanTimes, Govt gives approval, financial sanction to build 12 nuclear power reactors, February 7, 2018. In line with the ambitious plan to triple nuclear power generation by 2024, the Indian government has given administrative approval and financial sanction for construction of 10 indigenous pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWRs) of 700 MWe each, along with two light water reactors (LWRs) of 1,000 MWe each. These reactors are expected to add 9,000 MWe of nuclear power to the national power grid. These 10 PHWRs will be built based on indigenous technology under the “Make in India” project and is aimed at giving impetus to the national industry. The two LWRs will be built by India’s Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and Russia’s Atomstroyexport, a subsidiary of state nuclear corporation Rosatom.
India currently has 22 nuclear reactors in operation in 8 nuclear power plants, having an installed capacity of 6,780 MWe. About 5,300 MWe of nuclear power is expected to be added to it by 2021-22 through 7 nuclear projects currently under construction. At present, nuclear power provides about 3 percent of the country’s electricity needs. The world’s third-biggest producer of carbon emissions, India sees nuclear power as a way to reduce dependence on coal-burning power plants, which supply almost 60 percent of its electricity. [RT]
Written summaries with the notation [RT] were written and posted on Facebook by Raphael Telis, and have been edited or modified to fit our format. Mr. Telis is a Collaborative Researcher at MIT Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering and a Graduate Research Assistant at MIT Center for Theoretical Physics. He is a Former Graduate Research Assistant at Ipen – Instituto de Pesquisas Energéticas e Nucleares and previously studied M.Sc. in Nuclear Physics at USP – Universidade de São Paulo. He is now a Ph.D. candidate in Theoretical Nuclear and Particle Physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).