Thursday, June 22, 2017

South Korea Wisely Steers Clear of Nuclear While the US Subsizes Massive Nuclear Cost-Overruns


South Korea's new President, Moon Jae-in, said he would permanently end operations at the Kori-1 reactor (that went online in 1978) as a first step toward a "nuclear-free state" ("Seoul Powers Down Nuclear-Plant Sector" WSJ 6/20/2017, A9).

This important news was buried on page 9 in a very short article in the WSJ. I didn't even see mention of the story in the New York Times and Washington Post, although a quick search reveals more coverage:
Jane Chung and Richard Pullin (2017, June 19). South Korea's President Moon says plans to exit nuclear power. Reuters, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-southkorea-nuclear-president-idUSKBN19A04Q?il=0

"We will end the nuclear-oriented power generation plan and pave the way for a nuclear-free era," Moon said at an event marking the closure of the Kori No.1 nuclear reactor in Busan, some 300 kms (186 miles) southeast of Seoul.

"We will withdraw existing plans to build new nuclear power plants and not extend the lifespan of nuclear power plants."
This is excellent news and I'm sorry to see that it was buried in some of the nation's newspapers of record. A quick read of Wikipedia's article on concentrated media ownership will no doubt illuminate why https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concentration_of_media_ownership

Meanwhile, the US House and Trump Administration are trying to save nuclear power in the US (Hat-tip Mar for link):
Tom DiChristopher (June 19, 2017). Nuclear power on the 'front burner,' says Energy Secretary Rick Perry. CNBC http://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/19/nuclear-energy-is-on-the-front-burner-says-sec-rick-perry.html

Nuclear power as "a very important part" of the White House's energy strategy, Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Monday.
Perry is apparently endorsing the fantasy of efficient modular reactors, despite their many hazards and expensive supply chain and waste management issues.


DC is also promoting costly nuclear boondoggles in South Carolina and Georgia:
Kristi E. Swartz. (2017, May 4). Southern turns to D.C. for help to finish reactors. Energy Wire, https://www.eenews.net/energywire/2017/05/04/stories/1060054028

Southern Co. is working with the Trump administration and Congress to ensure a path forward for the U.S. nuclear reactors being built in Georgia and South Carolina, saying their future is a matter of national security.
These reactors being built in Georgia and South Carolina have been afflicted by SIGNIFICANT cost-overruns, delays, and now by Westinghouse's bankruptcy:
AP (March 29 2017). Westinghouse Troubles Loom Over SC, Georgia Nuke Projects https://www.usnews.com/news/business/articles/2017-03-29/westinghouse-troubles-loom-over-sc-georgia-nuke-projects
In South Carolina, Westinghouse is a partner with state-owned utility Santee Cooper and publicly-traded SCANA Corp. (ticker: SCG) on the construction of two reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station near Jenkinsville. SCANA said in September that the cost of building the reactors had increased nearly $3 billion from the original $11 billion estimate in 2009. The first reactor was supposed to open in 2017, but has been delayed at least two years....

...the Plant Vogtle project in eastern Georgia was more than three years behind schedule and more than $3 billion over its original budget as of the end of 2016. Oglethorpe Power, one of the partners in the project, said in a regulatory filing this week that "the revised in-service dates of December 2019 and September 2020" for the two reactors it's building "do not appear to be achievable."

...Meanwhile, Toshiba reiterated its view that at the root of the problem was the acquisition of U.S. nuclear construction company CB&I Stone and Webster. It declined comment on possible future partners in the rehabilitation of Westinghouse.

SCANA and Santee Cooper are now scrambling to make sure they get an extension in more than $2 billion in federal tax credits to help pay for these already blighted projects:

Fretwell, Sammy (2017). Could losing tax break sink SCE&G’s nuclear project? The State, http://www.thestate.com/news/local/article151956352.html

Whether SCANA and Santee Cooper complete two nuclear reactors may depend on whether a deadline is extended for the companies to gain more than $2 billion in federal tax credits that would help pay for the financially troubled project.

But an effort to extend the deadline has stalled, and it’s questionable whether Congress will take action before the companies make a final decision on the project’s future.

Without the tax credit, it would be more difficult to finance the project that already is in trouble because its chief contractor, Westinghouse, is in bankruptcy, utility officials acknowledge.

Santee Cooper and SCE&G, a subsidiary of SCANA, have until June 26 to complete an assessment on whether the nuclear expansion work is worth continuing.

The project’s future is important to SCE&G customers because they already have paid at least $1.4 billion for the reactors’ construction. If the project is not finished, SCE&G is not required to return the money. About 18 percent of a customer’s current bill goes toward the plant’s construction.
 South Korea appears far more wise when it comes to steering energy policy.


2 comments:

  1. http://tass.com/economy/952152

    Russian style imperialism. Signing agreements with third world countries to build reactors. Permanently indebting them.

    Russia's Rosatom to review opportunity of nuclear power plant building in Zambia

    "MOSCOW, June 19. /TASS/. Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom will prepare a preliminary feasibility study for construction of a nuclear power plant (NPP) in Zambia."

    "Memoranda of understanding and cooperation in peaceful use of nuclear energy with Uganda, Sudan and Ethiopia were also signed within the forum framework."

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  2. A Rosatom subsidiary is trying to get an exemption to use its nuclear fuel in US reactors. It doesn’t want to tell what the fuel rods are made of, either, which matters for operating and waste safety. https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2017/04/04/putins-nuclear-fuel-co-wants-exemption-to-fuel-illinois-reactors-with-help-of-exelon-ge-toshiba-hitachi-and-us-nrc/

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