Nuclear News Roundup for September 19, 2015

reporter2This is a collection of news briefs from wire services, World Nuclear News, NucNet, and other sources.

DOE Sec Moniz notes role of nuclear energy at IAEA meeting

(WNN) In a speech to the IAEA US energy secretary Ernest Moniz spoke out on climate change at the agency’s General Conference.

“As we approach the upcoming Paris climate negotiations, the threat of climate change calls for expanded use of nuclear power. The US is urging a higher profile for nuclear power as a low-carbon solution.”

He emphasized that the U.S. Government has partnered with U.S. industry to support the licensing of SMRs as a key technology innovation.

The remarks by Moniz represent a change in the Obama administration’s views on nuclear energy relative to climate change mitigation measures. In previous years at international forums on climate change Obama administration officials praised the benefits of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. The statements were driven by the influence of the “green wing” of the Democratic party.

Since then faced with the stark reality that global warming has galloped well past 350 ppm for CO2, US energy officials have taken a more serious line on nuclear energy.

Amano Calls For Nuclear To Be Considered In Climate Change Talks

(NucNet) Appropriate consideration should be given to nuclear energy in talks on climate change mitigation which are taking place under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, IAEA director-general Yukiya Amano said in his opening address at the agency’s 59th general conference in Vienna on September 14th.

In 1992, countries joined an international treaty – the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – to consider what they could do to limit average global temperature increases and the resulting climate change. The UN has said that at the very heart of the response to climate change lies the need to reduce fossil fuel emissions. Nuclear energy has an important role in that response Amano said.

Nuclear up to task of limiting climate change

(SCIAM) Nuclear energy should be a key tool in the fight to combat climate change and limit emissions, according to Uppsala University physicist Staffan Qvist.

“If we are serious about tackling emissions and climate change, no climate-neutral source should be ignored,” Qvist said.

A study by Qvist and ecologist Barry Brook concluded that in a best-case scenario, the world could convert to 100% nuclear power and stop burning fossil fuels entirely within 34 years. Summary available at Scientific American The World Really Could Go Nuclear

First Three SMR Designs Will Be Online Within Four Year

(NucNet): There are about 45 small modular reactor (SMR) designs under development around the world, half of them under preparation for deployment over the next 10 years, and the first three expected to become operational over the next four years, an International Atomic Energy Agency meeting. was told this week. (Full text of IAEA summary bulletin)

The first three SMRs with advanced technologies expected to become operational are the KLT-40S in Russia, the HTR-PM in China, and the Carem-25 in Argentina.

  • The KLT-40S is a 150-megawatt (thermal) pressurized water reactor unit designed for floating nuclear power plants. It is based on the standard KLT-40 icebreaker reactor, but with advanced features aimed at increasing safety and reliability, with upgraded components and safety systems, including use of passive features and low-enriched uranium for fuel.
  • China’s HTR-PM is a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor. Construction of the first demonstration unit began last year at Shidaowan in China’s Shandong province.
  • Carem-25, a domestically-designed and developed 25-MW small pressurized water reactor with natural coolant circulation, is under construction on a site next to the Atucha nuclear power station in Lima, about 100 km northwest of Buenos Aires.

Stewart Magruder of the regulatory activities section of the IAEA said an SMR regulators’ forum has been established to identify, understand and address key regulatory challenges that may emerge in the future.

Maher Odan from Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy said he believed that the SMR market had very large potential not only in Saudi Arabia but also in the wider Middle East and North Africa regions. He said that earlier this month, Saudi Arabia signed a pre-project engineering agreement with the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute to deploy the Korean Smart SMR design in Saudi Arabia.

Pro-nuclear environmentalists in call to scrap Hinkley C plans

Three leading environmentalists who broke ranks to give their support to a new generation of nuclear plants have now urged the government to scrap plans for Hinkley Point C. The call comes as George Osborne and Amber Rudd, the secretary of state for energy and climate change, head off to China, where they will discuss Beijing’s proposed investment in the new nuclear plant in Somerset.

George Monbiot, Mark Lynas and Chris Goodall say the soaring cost and delays to the Hinkley project leave ministers with no option but to pour the estimated £24.5bn worth of investment into other low-carbon technologies.

“Hinkley C bears all the distinguishing features of a white elephant: overpriced, overcomplicated and overdue. The delay that was announced recently should be the final straw. The government should kill the project,” they write in a comment piece for the Guardian.

Lynas has been particularly outspoken in support of nuclear energy which suggests that his objections to the Hinkley C project are not a rejection of nuclear energy across the board. Rather, the enormous costs of the 1600 MW Areva EPR, combined with continued delays and rising costs of the unit under construction in Flamanville, France, have contributed to a growing panic in the UK over the risks of building two EPRs at the Hinkley site.

So far no one has talked about substituting another reactor design for the much maligned EPR.

UK Needs Nuclear Because Renewables Cannot Fill Gap

(NucNet): Unless the UK has new nuclear it is going to lose a vital source of reliable, secure low-carbon electricity, chairman of the London-based Nuclear Industry Association Lord Hutton has said. Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Lord Hutton, a former secretary of state for business, said:

“While we’ve seen a welcome expansion in renewables, these are intermittent and cannot fill the gap alone.”

He said when he instigated the nuclear white paper in 2008, which opened the doors for companies to invest in building new nuclear power stations, little did he think that almost a decade later he’d be defending the start of the UK’s nuclear program.

“But the arguments I made then, to reduce the use of fossil fuels to address climate change as well as secure the UK’s energy supplies, remain compelling. Those arguments are now compounded by the urgent need to replace the UK’s ageing energy infrastructure.”

The UK’s North Sea oil fields are running out and the nation’s current fleet  of nuclear reactors is reaching the end of their service lives. The nation needs new reactors or it will go cold and dark.

China’s CAP1400 reactor expected to gain approval soon

(WNN) China’s State Council is expected to provide approval for the CAP1400 reactor design before the end of the year, allowing work to begin in earnest at a new site near the Haiyang nuclear plant. Site preparations and key component manufacturing have already begun while validation of the new design takes place.  Full text at World Nuclear News

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