Friday, October 18, 2013

Five Nuclear News Items in the Form of a List

We don’t really do Buzzfeed style listicals here at NNN because – hmm, does tacky link bait get it? Not enough cute nuclear energy kittens? The real Buzzfeed currently has up  17 Pets Who Won’t Let You Poop In Peace (spoiler: cute kittens figure in), so the bottom of the barrel is exceptionally easy to scrape.

But I’ve noticed that the nuclear energy scene is busy lately. Let’s break out of a defensive crouch and look at some good news stories. In fact, let’s make a list  – some of these stories we’ll return to later with fully cooked posts, others may need a little more seasoning, and the rest are done-in-one, so to speak.

1. In a speech yesterday at the World Energy Congress in Daegu, South Korea, Mohammed Al Hammadi, Enec’s chief executive, underlined nuclear energy’s importance as an energy generation technology capable of providing continuous, safe and efficient electricity with near-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

ENEC is UAE’s nuclear authority, building the reactors at Barakah. That part is fairly standard. This is the good part.

One of the key challenges linked to the adoption of nuclear power was the education of the public about the opportunities that nuclear power offers, together with many of the myths that still surrounded the technology in certain countries.

The UAE had been assertive in educating its population about the benefits of nuclear power technology, as well as dispelling many of the myths associated with nuclear radiation, he added.

2. Virginia has four large nuclear plants, each a source of zero-carbon energy, whose round-the-clock production of electricity is essential for the state’s economy. The North Anna and Surry reactors are among the most efficient nuclear plants in the United States, generating electricity more than 90 percent of the time, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In contrast, wind power generates power an average of 31 percent of the time, and solar power, 24 percent of the time.

A useful corrective, an op-ed written to note that The Fourth Governor’s Conference on Energy has no sessions at all on nuclear energy, a really egregious absence given that nuclear energy supplies about 40 percent of the state’s electricity.

3. The U.S. reached an agreement to sell nuclear fuel and technology to Vietnam in a move aimed at boosting its former adversary’s civilian nuclear program while curbing proliferation of atomic weapons.

The agreement was initialed by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Vietnam Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh on the sidelines of an East Asia summit in Brunei today. It prohibits Vietnam from enriching or reprocessing plutonium or uranium while developing nuclear energy, according to a U.S. administration official who asked not to be identified, citing government policy.

Though the story stresses non-enrichment, an equally strong interest here is that the treaty allows the United States to sell nuclear materials into Vietnam. The planned reactors are coming from Russia and Japan, but there’s still a lot of room for sales of fuel and services.

4. The country’s [Czech Republic’s]new energy strategy categorizes nuclear power as “crucial” for preserving energy security, Deputy Industry Minister Pavel Solc said in an Oct. 9 interview conducted via e-mail. The strategy draft, subject to environmental assessment, is slated for the cabinet’s approval early next year.

With two nuclear-power stations and a fleet of coal-fired plants fed by lignite from local mines, the Czech Republic exports as much as 20 percent of its electricity production. Czechs will need to replace almost 3,500 megawatts of capacity by 2030, which will come mostly in the form of new atomic power, the deputy minister said.

Lignite coal! New nuclear facilities couldn’t come soon enough.

5. This development will power a future post, as it is likely to prove controversial and potentially very consequential. This is the news:

Britain said on Thursday that it would allow Chinese firms to buy stakes in British nuclear power plants and eventually acquire majority holdings.

The agreement, which comes with caveats, opens the way for China’s fast-growing nuclear industry to play a significant role in Britain’s plans to proceed with construction of its first new reactor in nearly two decades.

Here’s a sense of where the controversy might come from:

For a chancellor so keen on the defense of UK national sovereignty against democratic Europeans, George Osborne's unbridled enthusiasm for Chinese investment in the UK's critical infrastructure is striking. If all these memorandums of understanding come to fruition, Chinese entities will hold important stakes in water in the UK, airports, IT infrastructure and now nuclear power generation, all without a serious national debate on any potential risks such involvement might bring.

It seems odd for The Guardian to raise sovereignty issues, but there you are. The deal is still a little light on details and there’s been a churn of opinion mostly informed by distaste for Chinese business methods. Another couple of days at least should calm the waters and allow us to see land.

Next up: 7 Easy Ways to Make Nuclear Energy – or Applesauce, depending on the harvest. With animated GIFs.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why are the Brits getting their knickers in a twist about Chinese ownership? They are already beholden to Russia (Gazprom) for their very lifeblood of natural gas supply. If anything, they should be spitting mad about that.