nuclear power

Wherever we look in the world, there are dark clouds overhead. The global economy remains fragile. Violent extremism is putting lives and stability at risk. Old tensions and divisions between nuclear powers have been re-awakened.

These divisions have again brought into sharp focus the terrible dangers that nuclear weapons pose to our world’s survival. Despite recent welcome reductions in the number of warheads, those that remain could destroy humanity many times over. This threat has been made far worse by the active pursuit of weapons of mass destruction by violent extremists who would not hesitate to cause unimaginable death and destruction.

It is against this sombre background that there have been, in recent weeks, two powerful signs of hope. Read more

Argentina recently announced a deal to buy nuclear reactors from China, one of which is expected to be of original design. The anticipated export of the indigenously developed Hualong One is a symbol of how far China has come in a relatively short space of time. It has been able to manipulate its expanding domestic market to make a meteoric rise in terms of technological development.

A relative latecomer to nuclear power, its first reactor was connected to the grid in 1991. Less than 25 years later, China is now aiming to become a major player in the supply of nuclear technology to the world. Read more

By David Humphrey, Standard Bank Group

Sitting around a fire in the middle of the Namib Desert, western tourists can sample the twin delights of African cuisine and its staggeringly beautiful night sky. The Milky Way is a vibrant arc of white, the stars five times brighter than in Europe. It is one of the few places in the world where light pollution does not exist, which is another way of saying most of Africa lacks power.

Africa’s population of roughly 1bn people accounts for over a sixth of the world’s population, yet it generates just 4 per cent of global electricity supply. Excluding South Africa, the continent’s most advanced economy, the entire installed generation capacity of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is only 28 gigawatts, roughly equivalent to that of Argentina. The result is that just 24 per cent of the population of SSA has access to electricity compared to 40 per cent for other low income regions. Read more

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, and Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, met in New Delhi on Thursday for the 15th Annual India-Russia summit. Although normally a low-key event, this year’s meeting was important, coming as both countries rethink their foreign policies. Russia’s isolation from Europe has intensified in recent months. Meanwhile Modi has been working hard to strengthen India’s ties with the rest of the world.

The meeting resulted in renewed promises between the two nations to cooperate on energy sharing, defence deals and the diamond trade. For context, here are three significant facets of the India-Russia relationship. Read more

By Tim Gosling of bne in Prague

Czech power utility CEZ said today it had cancelled a tender to expand the country’s Temelin nuclear plant. The move comes a day after the government made its strongest statement yet that it would not offer the €8bn-10bn project any public support.

State-controlled CEZ said it had informed the contending bidders – US/Japanese Westinghouse and a consortium led by Russian state nuclear agency Rosatom, as well as Areva of France, which had already been ejected – that the tender to build two additional 1,200 megawatt reactors at the plant had been halted. Read more

Viktor Orban, Hungary’s prime minister, along with his Fidesz government, have been remarkably busy this week. They have been talking up a €10bn loan agreement with Russia, signed on Tuesday, to finance two new nuclear reactors, scheduled for completion as early as 2023.

Hungary is about to seal “the best deal for the past 40 years,” with nuclear power the cheapest option for the country, Janos Lazar, Orban’s right hand man in charge of the prime minister’s office told the media on Thursday. Read more

By Nicholas Watson of bne

A new Czech government is in the final stages of being formed, but its make-up will probably mean further delays at the very least for the state utility CEZ’s costly nuclear tender.

Czech President Milos Zeman is expected on November 21 to give a mandate to Bohuslav Sobotka, head of the Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD), which won the inconclusive parliamentary election in October, to form the next government. Sobotka has already started talks with the big winner of the election, the new ANO 2011 party founded by Slovak-born billionaire Andrej Babis, and the centrist Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL). Read more

By Nicholas Watson of bne

Areva, the French nuclear company, has lost its latest appeal against its controversial ejection from the Czech Republic’s giant nuclear tender. The company has vowed to continue legal proceedings in the administrative court of Brno. Read more

By Tim Gosling of bne

CEZ, the Czech state-controlled utility, is to delay expansion of its Temelin nuclear power plant by a year, as the political crisis gripping the country prevents it from securing a final agreement to start the project.

Following the collapse of the centre-right government in June, the future of the estimated €8bn to €12bn project has been caught up in uncertainty over the interim administration installed by President Milos Zeman this month. Read more

Like Japan, Taiwan’s location on the edge of the Pacific makes it vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis. But with no oil and gas of its own, the island state lacks any kind of energy security. Sarah Mishkin visits a nuclear power station under construction which may never be turned on.

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South Korea’s shutdown of two more atomic power plants because of safety concerns could hardly be worse news for the country’s nuclear energy industry, coming as Seoul struggles to increase nuclear exports to developing countries. Read more

By Nicholas Watson of bne

The Czech prime minister assured his Russian counterpart on May 27 that the process for choosing the winner of the country’s nuclear tender would be fair and transparent. Yet a growing split in the cabinet, a continuing stand-off with France’s Areva after it was ejected from the tender, and now sources saying CEZ is asking the remaining bidders to finance the €8bn-12bn nuclear expansion, have all cast further doubt on the project. Read more

At first sight the figures are staggering. In the space of a single day last week Turkey signed an agreement on a $22bn new nuclear power plant and concluded a €22bn tender on building Istanbul one of the biggest airports on the world.

No wonder there were proclamations about record-breaking investments as soon as last Friday’s announcements were made. Read more

Did Japan just win the protracted, $20bn plus contest to build Turkey’s second nuclear power plant?

As part of a regional tour, Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister (pictured), is due to visit Turkey on May 2 and 3, a stop which, because of the context, stands out. Read more

By Riccardo Puliti of the EBRD

The use of nuclear power generates at least as much debate as electricity.

This is especially true in the case of Ukraine, where in 1986 the Chernobyl accident happened. The events demonstrated that in nuclear power generation safety always must be the utmost priority – from the first moment of operation to long after the active life of any nuclear reactor. Read more

Those (few)Bulgarians who made it to the polls in Sunday’s referendum on nuclear power have voted in favour of further development.

The vote was a political exercise which is unlikely to lead to the building of new atomic plants any time soon. But it was an unusual show of support for the much-criticised industry. How many other European Union countries would have voted in favour? Read more

By Nicholas Watson of bne

The Czech authorities have temporarily blocked the state power company CEZ from signing a contract to build two nuclear reactors while they consider an appeal from France’s Areva against its disqualification from the tenderRead more

Temelin nuclear power plan in the Czech RepublicBy Tim Gosling and Nicholas Watson of bne

Areva, the French nuclear group, is to launch a fresh appeal against its exclusion from a multi-billion euro tender by CEZ, the Czech utility, for two new units at its Temelin nuclear power plant.

The move threatens to bring the tender process to a halt. Its announcement came immediately after CEZ rejected an earlier appeal from Areva against its removal from the tender on October 5 for what are still unclear reasons. Read more

Pre-election machinations may be behind a decision by Bulgaria’s parliament this week to hold a referendum on a nuclear power plant.

The referendum, to be held in January, follows the government’s March decision to cancel the development of the Danube-side Belene nuclear power plant (NPP), in which Bulgaria had already invested 1.4bn levs ($925m), with one reactor already completed. Read more

Nuclear power has long held the possibility of energy independence for central Europe, freeing it from its heavy reliance on imports of Russian natural gas. But a series of political and corporate decision across the region in the last few days leaves the future of atomic power murkier than ever. Read more