Hitachi- from the country that brought the world Fukushima

Hitachi- from the country that brought the world Fukushima
We feel very sad for the people of Japan who want to end nuclear energy whilst a potential new government and big business are desperate for it

No Fukushima at Oldbury

No to Fukushima at Shepperdine!

No to Fukushima at Shepperdine!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Would you buy a second hand car off Areva or Wetinghouse??

After attending the recent Environment Agency/HSE GDA consultation day in Birmingham recently we (SANE) were left with the impression that both Areva and Westinghouse are not ywt suitable candidates to build the latest reactors.

In fact we felt we wouldn't even like to by a second hand car off them for fear of it being a lemon!

The article below, from The Financial Times, highlights the current deficiencies of the only manufacturers who want to build reactors in the UK.

Nuclear: New dawn now seems limited to the east

By Ed Crooks

Financial Times

The renaissance of nuclear power is a much fabled beast that is often talked about but rarely seen.

A new wave of construction of nuclear power stations, bringing to an end the lull in the industry since the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, has been widely predicted for much of the past decade.

Growing concerns about energy security and dependence on fossil fuels, combined with the fight against climate change, have prompted a resurgence of interest in nuclear power.

In terms of intentions, at least, there is plenty of evidence of a revival. Worldwide, there are plans to build 149 reactors, and proposals for 344 more, according to the World Nuclear Association (WNA), the industry group.

If all those projects went ahead, they would more than double the number of reactors in operation, which is about 440.

However, many of the hopes and claims made for the nuclear renaissance have been excessive. Industry executives and analysts suggest most of those new reactors are unlikely to be built on their proposed schedules, if at all.

The pace of development of reactor projects is slow in Europe, and even slower in the US. Any upturn in construction is happening in emerging economies, above all in China.

Danny Roderick, senior vice-president for new plants at GE Hitachi, the US-Japanese nuclear engineering joint-venture, says the revival is still to come.

“Some people think that the renaissance is over, and we missed it,” he says, “but I don’t believe it has happened yet. We just need the right conditions to be in place.”

Those conditions, which seemed to be coming into alignment in the middle years of the past decade, have in the past three years shifted clearly against new nuclear investment.

First, the global financial crisis that began in the summer of 2007, has curbed investors’ appetite for risky commitments, including large nuclear plants costing €5bn-plus ($6.3bn-plus) that face unpredictable risks in terms of energy markets, technology, regulation and political support.

Second, the recession has caused a fall in power demand, which has made energy companies think again about the need for further investment in generation capacity.

Third, there has been a tendency for countries to take the cost-effective option, by extending the operating lives of existing nuclear plants, rather than building new ones. Spain and Belgium have taken this route, Germany this month opted to do the same, and the UK is likely to follow suit.

Fourth, concerns about energy security have eased following the opening up of America’s “unconventional” reserves of shale gas and other resources that were previously uneconomic to produce.

Fifth, public attitudes towards nuclear power remain ambiguous in many developed countries, with significant opposition even when majority opinion is in favour.

“No one has ever built a nuclear plant in a liberalised electricity market,” says Omar Abbosh, the managing director for natural resources in the UK for Accenture, the consultancy.

“So, for new nuclear construction there inevitably has to be some level of government support and encouragement,” he adds.

The concerns in Britain created by the arrival of the anti-nuclear Liberal Democrats as part of the governing coalition are a prime example of the uncertainties facing the industry in democratic countries.

Sixth, the pressure to curb carbon dioxide emissions, which was growing for much of the past decade, now appears to be easing. Nuclear power benefits from a tough regime of emissions controls, but the global recession and the failure of the Copenhagen climate talks last December have cut the price of emissions in the EU’s trading scheme, and reduced the likelihood that other countries will go ahead with tough carbon dioxide curbs on their own.

Finally, there have been clear signs that the nuclear industry itself is not ready to accelerate construction. The delays and cost overruns suffered by the EPR reactors from Areva, the French nuclear group, being built at Olkiluoto in Finland and Flamanville in France point to a lack of clear regulation, the difficulties in building “first of a kind” projects, and insufficient skills and capacity in the supply chain.

Put together, these factors are likely to continue to delay nuclear investment in developed countries for years to come.

Mr Roderick of GE Hitachi observes that in the past five years, only a fraction of the proposed reactor projects went ahead, and he expects the same to be true in the next five years.

In emerging economies, however, the picture is very different. The recession has had much less impact, and it is clear that electricity demand will continue to grow.

Climate policy has always been less of a concern than energy security.

India has announced plans to raise its nuclear generation capacity from 4,000 megawatts to 30,000MW by 2020, following its 2008 deal with the US that gave it access to civil nuclear technology.

While democratic politics has threatened to delay the development of India’s nuclear industry, there are no such problems in China. There, the number of reactors under construction has risen from 12 early last year to 24 today, according to WNA figures.

Mr Roderick argues that later in the decade, the “pillars” of the nuclear renaissance, in terms of energy demand and climate policy, may be more firmly in place in the US and Europe.

The plans for nuclear power stations in the UAE, to be built by a South Korean-led consortium, point to the development of a new industry in the Middle East, in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Egypt.

But for now, as Colette Lewiner from Capgemini puts it: “When you speak about the nuclear renaissance, you are really talking about Asia.”

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