Sendai nuclear plant in southern Japan is first to begin operation since 2011 Fukushima meltdowns, despite anti-nuclear protests
Police officers guard the gate of the Sendai nuclear power plant as protesters rally against the restarting of the reactor. Photograph: Jiji Press/AFP/Getty Images
A power plant operator in southern Japan has restarted a reactor, the first to begin operating under new safety requirements following the Fukushima disaster.
Kyushu Electric Power Co. said on Tuesday it had restarted the No. 1 reactor at its Sendai nuclear plant as planned.
The restart marks Japan’s return to nuclear energy four-and-half-years after the 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan following an earthquake and tsunami.
The national broadcaster NHK showed plant workers in the control room as they turned the reactor back on. Tomomitsu Sakata, a spokesman for Kyushu Electric Power, said the reactor was put back online as planned without any problems.
The disaster displaced more than 100,000 people due to radioactive contamination in the area and spurred a national debate over this resource-scarce country’s reliance on nuclear power.
Former prime minister Naoto Kan speaks to protesters gathered at the main gate of the Sendai nuclear power plant. Photograph: The Asahi Shimbun/via Getty Images
A majority of Japanese people oppose the return to nuclear energy. Dozens of protesters, including ex-prime minister Naoto Kan, who was in office at the time of the disaster and has become an outspoken critic of nuclear power, were gathered outside the plant as police stood guard.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority affirmed the safety of the Sendai reactor and another one at the plant last September under stricter safety rules imposed after the 2011 accident.
The Sendai No. 1 reactor is scheduled to start generating power on Friday and to reach full capacity next month. The second Sendai reactor is due to restart in October.
Koichi Miyazawa, Japan’s industry minister, said on Tuesday that the government would “put safety first” in resuming use of nuclear power.
All of Japan’s 43 workable reactors have been shut for the last two years pending safety checks. To offset the shortfall in power output, the country ramped up imports of oil and gas and fired up more thermal power plants, slowing progress toward reducing its emissions of greenhouse gases.
Prime minister Shinzo Abe has sought to have the reactors restarted as soon as possible to help reduce costly reliance on imported oil and gas and alleviate the financial burden on utilities of maintaining the idled plants.
“There are very strong vested interests to reopen nuclear reactors. Accepting them as permanently closed would have financial implications that would be hard to manage,” said Tomas Kaberger, chairman of the Japan Renewable Energy Foundation.
Utilities are seeking approvals to restart 23 reactors, including the other Sendai reactor.
The government has set a goal to have nuclear power meet more than 20% of Japan’s energy needs by 2030, despite the lingering troubles at the Fukushima plant, which is plagued by massive flows of contaminated water leaking from its reactors.
Removal of the melted fuel at the plant – the most challenging part of the 30-to-40-year process of shutting it down permanently – will begin only in 2022.
Source: The Guardian
Two reactors at Japan’s Sendai nuclear plant are set to become the first to be restarted since the 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear facility
The governor of Japan’s Kagoshima prefecture gave his approval, marking the final hurdle for the restart, which is now likely to happen next year.
Before the accident, caused by a massive quake and tsunami, about 30% of Japan’s power was nuclear-generated.
All 48 plants were shut down but PM Shinzo Abe has lobbied for a restart.
Mr Abe’s government has argued that the shutdown has hurt the economy, forcing Japan to import expensive fossil fuels to make up the power shortfall.
Despite public anxiety, earlier this year Mr Abe approved an energy plan backing the use of nuclear power.
Local authorities were given the final say on whether to restart their commercial plants. The plant’s host town, Satsumasendai, had already voted in favour.
“I have decided that it is unavoidable to restart the No. 1 and No. 2 Sendai nuclear reactors,” Kagoshima Governor Yuichiro Ito told a news conference on Friday, reported Reuters news agency.
“I have said that assuring safety is a prerequisite and that the government must ensure safety and publicly explain it thoroughly to residents.”
The reactors, operated by Kyushu Electric Power, will likely restart next year as further operational checks need to be passed.
In a vote on Friday 38 out of 47 of the Kagoshima’s prefectural assembly backed the restarting of the reactors.
Protesters present in the assembly hall stood up before the vote with pink signs that said “NO restart”, reported Reuters. Yelling from opponents drowned out the final vote.
In September, Japanese regulators gave the Sendai reactors their final approval saying safety standards introduced after the Fukushima disaster had been met.
Source: BBC News
A leading nuclear specialist from Sellafield Ltd has accepted a post on an international committee of experts which is helping to guide the clean up mission at the Fukushima plant in Japan.
Dr Rex Strong, who is head of Nuclear Safety at Sellafield Ltd, (a Nuclear Management Partners company), has over 30 years experience in the industry, most of which has been spent at Europe’s most complex nuclear site, in West Cumbria.
He will combine his new role on the Fukushima Nuclear Safety Oversight Committee – known as the Nuclear Safety Task Force – with his existing one as Head of Safety at the Sellafield site. The move comes as part of Sellafield Ltd’s recently announced relationship with TEPCO FDEC, the Japanese company responsible for cleaning up and decommissioning the reactors at Fukushima.
Dr Strong said:
“It’s a privilege to have been invited to join such a prestigious and important committee – there will be much for us to learn.
“As nuclear operators we are part of a global network through which we can all learn, develop and improve. There are things which the Japanese are experiencing for the first time, as they start the process of decommissioning, which we’ve been doing for a long time at Sellafield, and at other nuclear sites in this country, and so I’ll be able to represent the UK and share our experience.
“The progress they are making at Fukushima is remarkable and I’m sure there will be lots of learning for me which I’ll be able to bring back to Sellafield.”
The committee on which Dr Strong will serve is part of TEPCO’s Nuclear Safety Oversight Office.
The office was established to enhance the risk controls regarding nuclear safety. It aims to gather the latest findings from around the world on nuclear safety, and then analyse and apply these to the mission in Japan.
The Nuclear Safety Oversight Office also monitors the status of safety awareness, operational processes at other nuclear sites, including Sellafield, and studies how these sites have been able to foster a safety culture, and communicate effectively with their local communities.
Sellafield Ltd’s Managing Director, Tony Price, said:
“The skills and experiences of the Sellafield workforce in safely decommissioning nuclear facilities are a valuable national asset. I’m proud that Rex has been asked to take up this position; it’s a great honour both for Rex personally, and for the company to be recognised as global nuclear safety experts and to be able to support our Japanese colleagues.”
Dr Adrian Simper, the NDA’s strategy and technology director, who sits on the Fukushima International Advisory Team, said:
“Congratulations to Rex on his appointment to this prestigious committee which will provide invaluable expertise to the Fukushima clean-up effort.
“The UK is playing an important role in assisting Tepco and the Japanese authorities in dealing with the complex situation at Fukushima which is testament to the high esteem in which our nuclear decommissioning industry is held across the international community.
“It is gratifying to see the learning and experience Sellafield Ltd has gleaned through tackling the complex challenges on site being utilised by our Japanese partners in their decommissioning programme.
“In turn, I’m sure Rex will bring back valuable experience from his role on the committee which can help drive forward the NDA’s mission to safely and cost-effectively clean-up Sellafield.”
It revealed global water withdrawals for energy production in 2010 were estimated at 583 billion cubic metres (bcm), out of which water usage – that was withdrawn but not returned to its source – was 66bcm or around 11%.
Water is critical for electricity generation as well as the extraction, transport and processing of fossil fuels and the irrigation of crops that go into biofuels. Water shortages in India and the US, among other countries, have however limited energy output in the last two years while the “heavy use of water in unconventional oil and gas production has generated considerable public concern”, the IEA said.
Its report looked at three difference scenarios – the New Policies Scenario, the Current Policies Scenario and the 450 Scenario.
Global water withdrawals for energy production reach 690bcm in 2035 in the New Policies Scenario, with growth slowing after 2020. Withdrawals in the Current Policies Scenario – which assumes no change in existing energy-related policies – continue to rise throughout the projection period, climbing to 790bcm in 2035.
Read more here http://www.energylivenews.com/2014/03/18/energy-sector-accounts-for-15-of-global-water-use/?utm_source=feedly&utm_reader=feedly&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=energy-sector-accounts-for-15-of-global-water-use
Source: Energy Live News
EDF to miss its own deadline for Hinkley Point nuclear decision
French energy giant does not expect to take final investment decision on Britain’s first new nuclear plant in a generation until the autumn, missing its own target of July
EDF expects to miss its own deadline for deciding whether to build Britain’s first new nuclear plant in a generation, the Telegraph can disclose.
The French energy giant announced in October that it planned to take a final investment decision on the £16bn Hinkley Point C plant by July, after striking a landmark subsidy deal with government.
But it now believes that an ongoing European Commission investigation into whether the subsidies are illegal state aid will not be fully resolved until autumn, forcing its decision on the Somerset plant back until then.
The delay could threaten EDF’s plans to deliver first power from the plant in 2023 – a timescale it had said was “subject to a final investment decision by July 2014”.
It also pointed out many key details of the deal, including a £10bn-plus loan guarantee from the Treasury, could not be scrutinised as they were yet to be finalised. It is understood the loan guarantee may not be finalised until May.
Amid intense scrutiny of the Hinkley plan, EDF is also lobbying strongly against a long-term freeze of the UK’s rising carbon tax, which it fears would weaken the case for Hinkley by pushing up the bill for direct subsidies for the plant.
Under October’s deal, EDF has been guaranteed a price for the power the plant generates of £92.50/MWh, almost double the current market price for power, with the difference subsidised through levies on consumer energy bills.
A rising UK carbon tax would push up the market power price, reducing the total direct “top-up” subsidy to Hinkley and potentially making the deal more palatable to politicians and the EC alike.
But under pressure to tackle rising energy bills the Chancellor now is expected to announce a freeze of the carbon tax in next week’s Budget.
EDF – whose existing nuclear power plant fleet would also benefit significantly from the rising carbon tax – is understood to be urging the Chancellor to guarantee that any freeze would last no more than a two years and that the tax would then revert to its upwards trajectory.
The company, which is still in talks with potential investors to take stakes in the Hinkley Point project, also argues that a policy u-turn on the carbon tax would damage the UK’s attractiveness.
EDF has been at pains to insist it can deliver Hinkley “on time and on budget”, despite its Flamanville reactor in France being dogged by cost blowouts and years of delays.
However, it has already publicly set and then missed a string of deadlines for Hinkley, which was once supposed to be running by 2017, while the cost has “rocketed hugely”, according to former partner Centrica.
A damning 70-page critique published by the EC in January raised a series of concerns with the subsidy deal, arguing that it may be unnecessary, risked handing EDF excess profits and could severely distort competition.It said that total public subsidy could reach £17bn – more expensive than the plant itself.
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