Nuclear

A new phase in Tepco’s “BP moment”: just like the whirlpool created by the massive tsunami after the March 11 earthquake, Japan’s biggest electricity provider and operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant is dragging peers into its own troubled vortex.

Investors’ attitudes to Japan’s other utilities have not been nearly as severe as the scare that has driven Tepco’s share price down 73 per cent since March 11, and further widened its CDS spreads on Monday by 143bps to 473bps (amid fears, as Markit’s Gavan Nolan remarked, that the company “is losing control of the situation”). But it’s still a very worrying sign for anybody involved in Japan’s nuclear power industry.

Kiran Stacey

Francesco StaraceIn this week’s readers’ Q&A session, Francesco Starace, chief executive of Enel Green Power, answers your questions.

Less than a year after the company’s troubled flotation, Francesco answers your questions on the effect of the Japanese nuclear crisis on renewables, EGP’s management structures and changes to European solar subsidies.

Next week, Keith Parker, chief executive of the UK Nuclear Industry Association, will be in the hotseat. Send all your nuclear-crisis related questions to energy.source@ft.com by the end of Sunday, March 27th.

But for now, over to Francesco:

Kiran Stacey

Keith Parker, CEO, NIA

Image by NIA

Many thanks for all your questions for Francesco Starace, chief executive of Enel Green Power. His answers will appear on this site on Friday, March 25th.

Next week, the person in the hotseat will be Keith Parker, chief executive of the UK’s Nuclear Industry Association.

The NIA represents almost every company involved in providing UK nuclear power, and even lists the stricken Tepco among its members. In the wake of the Japan nuclear crisis, this is your chance to ask him about nuclear safety, the role of nuclear in providing low-carbon energy and whether the industry can ever recover from the events of the past two weeks.

Email all your questions to energysource@ft.com by the end of Sunday, March 27th.

Kiran Stacey

The debate about what might happen to spot natural gas prices as a result of the Japanese nuclear crisis rumbles on. The latest view comes from IHS Cera, and differentiates between what might happen in 2011 and in 2012-2014.

As others have, IHS Cera begins its calculations (which aren’t available online) with the effects of the smaller 2007 quake, which knocked out 8.2GW of nuclear power and sent gas prices up to $20/mBtu. But its analysts point out that world LNG capacity is expected to have increased by half between 2007 and 2012, which should provide enough slack to keep a lid on prices.

But the fact is, LNG is already being diverted from the UK and elsewhere in Europe, and so we already know Japan’s needs cannot solely be accounted for by additional capacity. Instead, Europe will have to rely more on pipeline gas.

Kiran Stacey

Manmohan SinghIn the immediate aftermath of the Japanese quake and beginning of the nuclear crisis, we wrote that the responses of the China and India, which are both planning major investment into new nuclear plants, was much more pro-nuclear than that of Western governments.

But now both have changed position. China performed a near U-turn on Wednesday when it abruptly announced a freeze on approvals for planned plants. Two days later, India has similarly changed tack, although in a less dramatic manner, by calling a for a review of the country’s nuclear safety rules.

Kiran Stacey

The FT’s Analysis page is all about nuclear power, so to accompany it we have created an interactive map (running on Google fusion tables), with the location of every reactor in the world. Zoom in, and click on the dots to see details.

The map above has details of over 700 reactors (many are in the same plant location, such as the six reactors at Fukushima Daiishi), colour coded by status. The colours are:

GREEN: Operating
YELLOW: Under construction
BLUE: Planned
RED: Shut down | Suspended indefinitely/Cancelled | Not operating | Construction suspended

By Martin Stabe and Rob Minto
Source: World Nuclear Association

Kiran Stacey

Japan spot LNG purchasesIt has been well documented that the damage to Japan’s nuclear capacity could lead to a spike in demand for liquified natural gas. but how much could the country need, and what could that do to prices?

PFC Energy has come up with some fairly credible figures. Its analysts point out that in 2007, when a slightly smaller earthquake struck the country, it took out 8.2GW of nuclear capacity. In the aftermath, Japan’s spot LNG purchases jumped from 100 mtons to 500 mtons per month.

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