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Posts Tagged ‘China’


Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

March 30, 2011
Nuclear Townhall
From the Editors

Think China and India are going to blink in their development of nuclear after the Fukushima accident?  Not a chance. 

“You can see rapid growth in nuclear installed capacity in India and China, notwithstanding the events in Fukushima,” Michael Parker, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Bernstein, tells Bloomberg. “The cheapest, most easily scaled, cleanest, and most technologically mature source of electricity for these economies is nuclear.”

China made big news in the first few days when government officials announced it would “pause” its efforts to add new reactors in the light of events in Japan. If anything, the comments showed that the Chinese are getting more adept at politics. “Pausing” and “appointing a study commission” are classic dodges of politicians who want to glide past public concern while moving straight ahead with what they were doing.

"China will probably not slow down much, as it wasn’t able to build nukes fast enough before and has a completely different decision-making process when it comes to sitting and dealing with issues,” Mike Thomas, a Hong Kong-based partner at energy consultant The Lantau Group, tells Bloomberg.

India is likely to have the same reaction. “Coal will continue to be the major fuel in the next couple of decades, but the mix of nuclear will increase in Asia,” Nigam Sharma, Singapore-based head of marketing for Asia at Emerson Process Management, tells Bloomberg. “Environment is one of the main drivers, along with demand. And this is where nuclear comes in.”

Indian utilities seem to be of much the same mind. “Now is not the time to enter into a withdrawal syndrome when it comes to India’s nuclear program,” Arup Roy Choudhury, chairman of NTPC, India’s biggest generator of electricity, tells Bloomberg. “If we don’t continue now, we will set ourselves back and have to start all over again.”

So don’t pay any attention to those press releases from anti-nuclear groups celebrating the end of the Nuclear Renaissance in Asia. From all indications, it will be going ahead on schedule.

Read more about it at Bloomberg


Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

March 30, 2011
Nuclear Townhall
From the Editors

Like “choice,” “equality,” “fairness”  “creating jobs”  and "social justice," “clean energy” is quickly becoming one of those political slogans that means entirely different things to different people.
Take the report the Pew Charitable Trusts has just released –  “Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race?” which sounds the alarm that China is beating the pants off the U.S. in developing “clean energy.” 
“A new report finds that global finance and investment in low-carbon energy technologies `roared back’ in 2010 from flat recession levels, but that the U.S. fell another rung to third place after losing the top spot to China in 2009,” says The Hill. “The Pew Charitable Trusts . . hopes to translate the findings into Capitol Hill momentum for more robust and stable federal policies to boost the U.S. sector.
Now this is something to get excited about. After all, China has 27 reactors under construction. They’ve just commercialized their first Integral Fast Breeder, a technology that we gave up on in 1994 even though it promises to turn all the world’s “nuclear waste” into fuel, giving us a supply that could last 1000 years. They’ve revived the Pebble Bed Reactor, even though Germany and South Africa gave up on it  – and last week The New York Times even suggested we might borrow China’s research on this supposedly meltdown-proof reactor.  (The disadvantage of the pebble bed is that the spent fuel has greater volume and is more difficult to reprocess.)
But wait a minute!  This isn’t what the Pew Charitable Trusts is talking about at all. “The report finds that global investment and finance in green sectors such as wind and solar power last year grew over 30 percent from 2009 levels to reach a record $243 billion. But the U.S., while seeing a growth in investment, fell behind Germany into third place in the G-20.” The word “nuclear” does not appear once in the 51-page document.
On top of that, Pew has hired former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to lead its clean energy lobbying initiative. She’s the one who decided Michigan was going to abandon heavy manufacturing and become the solar and wind capital of the world – and almost bankrupted the state in the process.
Instead of calling it “clean,” how about we go back to last year’s term and say it’s “renewable energy?”


Friday, March 25th, 2011

March 25, 2011
Nuclear Townhall


Any doubt that China will continue to move ahead with nuclear despite the accident at Fukushima could be erased with the announcement that the country’s first integral fast reactor is about to go online.

"Our 20-megawatt reactor has been operating successfully. We will put 40 percent of its power, which means 8 megawatts, into the distribution network of the North China Grid by the end of June," Xu Mi, leading expert on fast reactor technology at the China National Nuclear Corporation, told China Daily.

The fast breeder is a reactor that can burn almost any kind of nuclear fuel.  It extracts the entire fuel potential from uranium, gobbles up what is known as "nuclear waste," and offers almost unlimited fuel supplies at very low costs.  The U.S. built an experimental fast breeder in Idaho in the 1980s but abandoned the project in 1992 when the Clinton Administration was trying to close down nuclear power.  As this UPI story reports, Russia, France, Britain, Germany, Japan and India have all built experimental fast breeders as well, but none have tried to put the technology into commercial use.  Xu, who designed the current model, says he is now working on a 1000-MW model that he hopes will begin construction in 2017.

A fleet of fast breeders providing almost unlimited energy free of fossil fuels would probably clinch China’s position as the world’s dominant industrial nation.  As one commenter to the UPI story remarks:  "For those of us who weren’t around at the turn of the nineteenth century, this is what the transfer of world dominance from one nation to another looks like."

Read more about it at UPI



Friday, March 4th, 2011

March 4, 2011
Nuclear Townhall

Intergraph, a Huntsville, Alabama company specializing in engineering and geospatial software, has won the contract to provide its technology to China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation for 16 Westinghouse AP1000 reactors now under construction.

The company’s SmartPlant Enterprise system will engineering, 3D design and data management, according to a company press release. The result will be increased productivity, greater safety and accelerated construction schedules.

“SNPTC’s selection of Intergraph is validation that our solutions can meet the most challenging design and engineering projects in the world, especially in the nuclear power arena and rapidly developing economies such as China,” said Gerhard Sallinger, Intergraph Process, Power & Marine president. “We are confident that SNPTC will see productivity and quality gains with our solutions to help them meet their project schedules as their sub-companies already have.”

Intergraph’s success marked the only American participation in China’s effort. Alstom of France won the contract to provide emergency diesel generators, in partnership with Shaanxi Diesel Heavey Industry of China. Alstom will also be installing water purification equipment. Most of the equipment will be manufactured in China by the Alstom Wuhan Engineering Technology Company. 

China currently has plans to build 28 AP1000 on 12 sites. The Russians are building Tianwan 5 and 6 but all other reactors will be China’s own design, the CPR-1000, developed from French units imported in the 1990s. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is still laboring to approve the design of the AP1000, first submitted in 2004. 

Although an American company founded in 1969, Intergraph was wholly acquired by Hexagon AB, a Swedish firm, in 2010.

Read more about it at the Intergraph blog


Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

February 3, 2011
Nuclear Townhall

The Chinese are going whole hog on nuclear technology. Not only do they have 20 uranium-fuel reactors under construction with 30 more in the planning stage, they are now diving into thorium research as well.
Many nuclear scientists have argued that thorium is really the way to go with civilian power. One story is that Enrico Fermi pushed thorium in the early days, but the military’s demand for plutonium from uranium reactors became the determining factor.
This report in Wired worries openly that America is going to get left behind in nuclear technology. “If the reactor works as planned, China may fulfill a long-delayed dream of clean nuclear energy,” says reporter Richard Martin. “The United States could conceivably become dependent on China for next-generation nuclear technology. At the least, the United States could fall dramatically behind in developing green energy.”  Wired is one of the few popular magazines in the country that understands nuclear technology and takes it seriously.
India, Norway and France are all exploring thorium technology. India is particularly interested because of its abundant thorium resources. The U.S. once had a thorium program but – like just about everything else in nuclear – it was eventually abandoned.
“According to thorium advocates, the United States could find itself 20 years from now importing technology originally developed nearly four decades ago at one of America’s premier national R&D facilities,” concludes the Wired report. “The alarmist version of China’s next-gen nuclear strategy come down to this: If you like foreign-oil dependency, you’re going to love foreign-nuclear dependency.”

Read more about it at Wired


Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

January 18, 2011
Nuclear Townhall


China may have invented a new reprocessing pathway but it will be at least a decade before it can go into full-scale commercial operation, according to officials with the China National Nuclear Corporation. 

Last week, CNNC announced a technological breakthrough that it said could extend the nation’s uranium supplies for 3000 years. The “breakthrough” is likely just a small tweak to existing reprocessing technologies already commercialized by France and Russia. "The technological breakthrough is a crucial step toward initial practical application, which is likely to happen within a year," Li Tao, a spokeswoman for CNNC, told China Daily. The strategic move toward closing the fuel cycle contrasts sharply with the U.S., where reprocessing has been in limbo for 30 years after being derailed by non-proliferation concerns. Pakistan, Israel, South Africa and North Korea have all developed nuclear weapons in the meantime.

China has set ambitious goals for its nuclear program and is aggressively pursuing them. “According to the World Nuclear Association, China’s demands for uranium could rise to 20,000 tons annually by 2020, more than a third of the 50,572 tons mined globally last year,” reports China Daily. “The nation has more than 170,000 tons of known uranium resources. Industry analysts said two thirds of China’s uranium needs would depend on overseas supplies. Last month, CNNC produced its first barrel of uranium in Nigeria, the company’s first overseas mine. In June, CNNC signed its first long-term contract for uranium ore with Cameco Corp of Canada for more than 10,000 tons over the next decade.”

Read more about it at China Daily


Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Nuclear Townhall
December 30, 2010
From the Editors

George F. Will discourses on the past and future of coal in today’s column and how China’s headlong rush into coal will easily undo any progress made in this country on reducing carbon emissions.  The  centerpiece of his story is a coal exporting terminal being constructed by an Australian firm in Cowlitz Country, Washington, across the Columbia River from Portland.

"Half of the 6 billion tons of coal burned globally each year is burned in China," write Will.  "A spokesman for the Sierra Club, which in recent years has helped to block construction of 139 proposed coal-fired plants in America, says, `This is undermining everything we’ve accomplished.’ America, say environmentalists, is exporting global warming."

He also quotes James Fallows’ recent cover story in The Atlantic that tries to tell environmentalists that solar and wind will never make it and the utopia to which they must resign themselves is "Dirty Coal, Clean Future."  Remarkably, Fallows makes almost no mention of nuclear in this prognosticating effort. 

What Will doesn’t see coming – although he does suggest it – is that the Sierra Club will soon begin protesting coal exports as well.  After all, won’t these facilities require environmental impact statements?  And shouldn’t such statements include the long-range impact of global warming?  After all, if California can hobble its economy – and if the EPA can try to do the same for Texas – why can’t the Sierra Club do the same thing in Cowlitz?

It’s a new angle for the Sierra Club but don’t be surprised to see them working it in the near future.

Read more in the Washington Post



Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Nuclear Townhall
December 23, 2010


In today’s Townhall Q&A with Matt Bennett and Josh Freed of Third Way, there’s a paragraph worth committing to memory: 
“Given the enormous geopolitical risks associated with nuclear technology falling into the wrong hands, Americans should be demanding that this nation continue to lead the world in the development of civilian nuclear power and not cede that territory to other countries. China not only is our economic rival, it has a profoundly different view of the relative risks of nuclear proliferation – witness its actions toward North Korea and Iran. We want the U.S. to remain in the nuclear energy driver’s seat.”
To see what this means in real life, take a look at today’s headlines:  “The United States has imposed a highest ever penalty of nearly $4 million on a Chinese subsidiary of an American company for illegally exporting high-tech coatings to Pakistan’s under-construction Chashma 2 nuclear reactor. The firm, PPG Paints Trading in Shanghai, a wholly owned subsidiary of an American firm PPG Industries, was fined after pleading guilty to having illegally exported high performance coatings. It would have to pay $3.75 million as penalty, US Justice Department said.”
Here’s the situation. Pakistan already has a nuclear weapon. It has two nuclear reactors and is just completing its third, Chashma 2. The Chinese have been their main source nuclear technology since the 1980s and the two countries have already signed an agreement to build two more reactors, Chashma 3 and 4. Pakistan, along with India and Israel, has refused to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty but it did sign a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Association with regard to its current construction.
The U.S. will have no role in Pakistan’s future nuclear development. China has sewed them up. However, one little American-owned company, a subsidiary of Pittsburgh Paint and Glass, did sell them some paint, making $32,000 on the transaction. For that we fine them $4 million.
Does that sound like a robust anti-proliferation policy or what?

Read more at the Times of India


Friday, December 10th, 2010

December 10, 2010
Nuclear Townhall
From the Editors


To date the U.S. participation in Jordan’s nuclear program has largely hyper-focused on State Department efforts to curb any enrichment of their own uranium supplies.

China and France, on the other hand, are showing how to deal with underdeveloped nations’ nuclear ambitions.  They are offering assistance to Jordan’s program while keeping a watch on fuel supplies. 

On Wednesday Jordan inked a deal with Areva whereby the French giant will construct an open-pit mine to begin developing Jordan’s abundant uranium resources. France’s Prime Minister Francois Fillon personally attended the signing. “Fillon highlighted that the two countries’ atomic energy agencies had also agreed to establish an energy center of excellence, which would group various technical and educational programs related to nuclear engineering and safety such as the nuclear research reactor at the Jordan University of Science and Technology,” reported The Jordan Times. “[T]he center would develop curricula and encourage multinational projects in the sector in order to attract students and professionals from across the region.


Then yesterday Jordan announced it is only a few months away from opening its first research facility with the help of China.  “The uranium-fuelled sub-critical assembly will be used for `basic training’ and research for . .  nuclear engineering students, many of whom will go on to man the country’s first nuclear reactor,” reported The Times.  The reactor is being constructed at the Jordan University of Science and Technology by the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission and the China Institute of Atomic Energy.

And so, while Washington diplomats try to recreate the world of the 1970s, when the U.S. had a monopoly on nuclear technology, the rest of the world moves ahead without us.

Read more at the Jordan Times


Friday, December 3rd, 2010


December 3, 2010
Nuclear Townhall
From the Editors


Any lingering doubts that China will be basing its industrial economy on nuclear energy were erased this week when the country raises its goals to building 114 gigawatts of capacity by 2020.

“The figures released by the National Development & Reform Commission represent a significant increase from a prior target of 70 GW issued last May by Zhang Guobao, head of China’s National Energy Administration,” reports Power-Gen Worldwide. The 114 GW goal marks a jump of 62 percent. 

The 114 GW would give China the largest nuclear capacity in the world, surpassing our 107 MW, presuming we don’t build any new capacity by 2020, which isn’t a bad bet. Still, China’s nuclear will only be supplying 7 percent of its energy demands, which shows how rapidly their economy will be growing as well.  The U.S.’s 107 GW provides 20 percent of the country’s domestic electricity by comparison.

With 30 reactors under construction right now, China seems prepared to make the leap. The Chinese have now apparently reverse-engineered by Areva’s 900 MW reactor and Westinghouse’s AP1000. Last week Zhang Shanjing, president of China’s Guangdong Nuclear Power Corporation, announced that the company plans to export the CPR-1000, its version of Areva-900, by 2013. Once it markets its version of the AP1000, China is likely to become the world’s largest exporter of reactors as well. The Chinese are building  “Nuclear City” at Haiyan in order to facilitate all this.

Quipped one longtime nuclear energy market observer:  “Not bad for a country that was considered “Third World” only a few decades ago.”

Read more at Power Gen World-Wide