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Posts Tagged ‘GE-Hitachi’


Friday, March 11th, 2011

March 11, 2011
Nuclear Townhall

Things are starting to move at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. On top of renewing Vermont Yankee’s license, the NRC has awarded design approval to GE Hitachi’s ESBWR, giving a boost to the consortium’s international efforts.

“The FSER [final safety evaluation report] and FDA [final design approval] mark a crucial step forward for the ESBWR’s global commercial prospects,” said Caroline Reda, president and CEO of GEH. “We appreciate the diligence of the NRC during the review process, which enables the ESBWR to remain on track to receive the NRC’s final design certification by this fall.”

Although Michigan’s DTE has chosen the Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) for its proposed Fermi Unit 3 near Detroit, the first construction will probably be abroad. India is experiencing a nuclear renaissance and has designed a site for multiple ESBWRs. The GE Hitachi consortium is also making inroads in Poland. Last month it signed a memorandum of understanding with POLATOM, the research institute that advises the Polish government on nuclear issues.

Thirty years ago, GE and Westinghouse dominated the reactor industry. GE’s boiling water reactor constituting one-third of America’s 100 reactor fleet while Westinghouse’s pressurized water reactor most of the other two-thirds. GE has not built a BWR since the ill-fated Shoreham plant, which never opened. Former GE CEO Jack Welsh was openly contemptuous of nuclear and current CEO Jeff Immelt notes that “no GE CEO has ever made money in nuclear.”  Westinghouse’s fortunes revived after it was bought by Toshiba in 2006, however, and GE followed by partnering with Hitachi in 2007.

The ESBWR is a “Gen III” reactor, designed to reduce costs and achieve greater safety by simplifying the design and using natural convection in cooling. The approval puts GE Hitachi one step ahead of Westinghouse, which is still awaiting approval of its Gen III design, the AP1000

Read more about it at Business Wire



Thursday, October 28th, 2010

After partnering with Hitachi, General Electric’s nuclear program, which is still majority American-owned, is going on the offensive.

Yesterday GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy signed a memorandum of understanding with Savannah River Nuclear Solutions to explore the potential of deploying a prototype of its Generation IV PRISM reactor as part of a proposed demonstration of small modular reactor technologies at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Savannah River Site.

The MOU means GEH will be in the game on the increasingly crowded field of small modular reactors. GE’s PRISM hasn’t quite gotten the attention of newcomers such as Hyperion and NuScale (see today’s interview), but as the nation’s oldest and most successful electrical manufacturer, the company is sure to throw some weight around.

At the same time, GEH announced it has signed preliminary agreements in India with Tata Consulting Engineers, Nuclear Power Corporation (NPC), Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) and Larsen & Toubro for involvement in India’s nuclear program. Once again, GEH will be joining a crowded field. Japan, Russia, Korea and France are already in the game but India has 20 reactors in the planning stage with 40 more proposed. To date liability considerations have handicapped the operation of private American companies in India, but GEH said it believed these concerns could be resolved.

A leader in the field during the 1970s and 1980s boom in American construction, GE has shown little appetite for nuclear in recent years. Legendary CEO Jack Welsh was reportedly highly skeptical of nuclear, phobic with regard to its potential adverse impacts on GE’s consumer products and disdainful that anyone would ever make any money at it. But with a world revival taking shape and the partnership with Hitachi in place, GE may be poised to be the nuclear comeback kid.

Read more about it at PR Inside and SIFY Finance


Friday, October 1st, 2010

On paper, you’d think the Japanese were giving the United States a run for the money in global nuclear energy leadership. Toshiba has bought Westinghouse. Hitachi is helping GE crack the international market. Japan is 30 percent nuclear as opposed to our 20 percent. They now have three operating MOX reactors.

Yet in one crucial factor, the U.S. still holds an astonishing technological edge. We run our reactors at 90 percent capacity while the Japanese are still at a remarkably low 69 percent.

The news emerged yesterday at Reuters updated Japanese performance. The average run was for July-September was 690 percent as opposed to only 66.1 percent a year ago. For April-September it was 67 percent, up from 73 percent the year before. In September, the country cracked 70 percent.

Yet these are rates the U.S. was achieving in the 1990s, before the great run-up that occurred with Entergy and Exelon started buying up reactors as merchant companies.

The numbers prove one underlying truth. U.S. technical expertise in nuclear is still at world class.  Combating any U.S. overconfidence, however, there’s another statistic worth noting. The Koreans run their reactor fleet at 95 percent capacity.

Read more about it at Reuters



Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

There’s a worldwide gold rush in the global nuclear energy technology market going on right now and if American "policymakers" don’t know it, the Russians do.

Sergei Kiriyenko,CEO of Rosatom, the Russian national nuclear corporation, came close to bragging yesterday as he asserted that his company will be doing $50 billion worth of business around the world by 2030. "Personally I think they may reach some $65 billion to $70 billion,” he told Bloomberg News in an interview.

Rosatom was celebrating its contract to build two more reactors in China’s Tianwan province – in addition to two already completed there. “If we’re honest, China’s not even the number one priority now as we have larger- scale partnerships in India, Turkey and in the future Vietnam," Kiriyenko told Bloomberg.The company currently has $15 billion in sales.

Rosatom is competing against Toshiba’s Westinghouse Corporation, France’s AREVA and majority American-owned GE-Hitachi, plus South Korea, which has just secured a $20 billion contract to build four reactors in the United Arab Emirates. India, South America, Southeast Asia and the Middle East are all in play. Rosatom is also a principal in the 1000-megawatt reactor project in Iran.

All this undercuts the presumption of U.S. anti-nuclear groups that we are somehow saving the world from the proliferation of nuclear weapons by bridling the development of nuclear technology in the United States,. "If you don’t play the game, you don’t make the rules" is the old adage that applies here – and so goes the U.S.’s world class gold standard in nuclear energy safety and quality.

Most significantly, Kiriyenko said Rosatom will soon be extending its efforts to fuel fabrication and the development of next-generation integral fast reactors. IFRs introduce the possibility of burning 100 percent of nuclear fuel – rather than the 5 percent consumed in current thermal reactors – and extending available fuel supplies over thousands of years.  The U.S. abandoned IFRs under the Clinton Administration in 1993. At the time, the U.S. clearly had the world’s most advanced technology. Now the world appears to be moving ahead with or without the U.S.  

Read more at Business Week