Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hokkaido, Repossession, Standardized Cars

Hokkaido_PlantThere’s talk of turning one of the furloughed plants in Japan back on:

The turning point could be the northernmost region of Hokkaido, which is on the verge of formally restarting the first nuclear plant to come back online since the March 11 disasters. Hokkaido Gov. Harumi Takahashi announced at a press conference Wednesday that she will be asking the government for final approval, effectively giving the green light from the local level to restart the nuclear plant.

Writer Cheng Hergn Shinn tries out the idea that Japanese opposition might take all nuclear facilities off-line next year, but that seems highly unlikely and is certainly the first we’ve heard of such an potential outcome. That supposition, though, is what creates this “turning point.” What seems as likely – more likely, really – is that HEPCO (correx: not TEPCO, as I originally wrote. Thanks to commenter Jose A. for the heads-up) has done a good job testing the Hokkaido plant, enough to satisfy Gov. Takahashi. And there’s also this:

Meanwhile Mr. Kanno, the Hokkaido Electric spokesman, said the utility can provide stable power for the summer without the reactor if need be, but come the region’s notoriously chilly winter, supply could fall short unless the company can get final approval to restart the nuclear reactor — officially.

Even the strongest nuclear energy advocate would not want the plant to return online for this reason alone, but if it can keep its neighbors warm – and it has received the approval of the local government – well, all systems go.

---

Here’s a benefit of small reactors that nobody has said much about: if your buyer turns out to be a deadbeat, you can repossess the plant and cart it away. Or in this case, float it away:

The world's first floating nuclear power plant, currently under construction, has been seized by the Court of Arbitration of Saint Petersburg as the shipyard building it faces bankruptcy proceedings.

To be honest, the plant is staying where it is. It could be hauled back to home base, but it looks as those its builder Rosenergoatom means to keep it where it is, just take possession of it and its barge:

Although the vessel - the Akademik Lomonosov - has already been registered in the name of Baltiysky Zavod as a ship under construction, Rosenergoatom is seeking to have it re-registered in its name as it claims it is the rightful owner. The vessel, it says, has been built using its funds.

Gizmodo tries to explain what’s happening here:

Rosenergoatom wanted the nuclear power plant in state control because United Industrial Corporation, the largest shareholder of Baltiysky Zavod, the shipyard building the plant, has given its stake in the shipyard to a bank as collateral for an unreturned loan. Basically, Rosenergoatom doesn't want another company claiming the shipyard's assets (i.e. the floating power plant) during the inevitable bankruptcy proceedings.

Which makes sense, I guess. The story would be considerably more fun if Rosenergoatom did just sneak the barge away under cover of night, but no such cloak and dagger activity so far.

We should note too that small reactors have been defined as those generating 350 megawatts or less. By that standard, these are pee-wees:

The two 35 MW KLT-40S nuclear reactors - similar to those used in Russia's nuclear-powered ice breakers - have already been assembled and delivered to the shipyard ready for installation.

And at least some small reactor vendors tout the ability to build them in a factory and ship them to the site complete. That’s also not happening here. It’s an imperfect story if you’ve got a narrative in mind – as I did when I first heard about it – but still provides a small measure of entertainment.

---

Nothing about nuclear energy here, but still, a signal move:

On June 20-21, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Electric Vehicles Standards Panel (EVSP) gathered in Detroit to lay the groundwork for a strategic roadmap that will define the standards and conformance programs needed to enable the widespread acceptance and deployment of electric vehicles and associated infrastructure in the United States.

I’d read elsewhere that ANSI called for this meeting, which I found surprising – I thought industry figures went to ANSI with standardization plans and didn’t realize that it also acts on its own. But however this came about, good. About time. If hybrid and electric cars want to move beyond niche status, the industry must agree to a standard set of principles so that the cars can be used .

Let’s hope for a successful confab.

2 comments:

Jose A. said...

Just for the record, the Hokkaido nuclear plant (Tomari-3) is managed by HEPCO (Hokkaido Electric Power Company) not TEPCO.

Bill said...

"There’s talk of turning one of the furloughed plants in Japan back on:"

It says here that it's gone beyond talk:
"Having received permission from the governor of Hokkaido, Harumi Takahashi, the utility said that the unit re-entered normal operation, rather than test operation, today after final approval was given by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry."
http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-First_Japanese_reactor_restarts-1708114.html