2015-02-23

Construction Time Again: the Return of Nuclear Power

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reprint East–West nuclear rivalry is back. The Ukraine crisis threatens the nuclear governance. Demand for nuclear energy is growing again after the 2011 Fukushima disaster. A 2014 report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecasts a 69 per cent expansion in nuclear capacity worldwide from 345GW in 2012 to 583GW by 2030. Furthermore, the International Energy Agency counts that more than three-quarters of nuclear reactors under construction are in non-OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries. China’s domestic appetite for energy accounts for much of this increase, with four to six reactors expected to be built every year for the next five years. Civil nuclear facilities in China incorporate technology from a variety of western suppliers, but Beijing has aggressively negotiated for intellectual property to be shared during the acquisition process. Westinghouse, for example, handed over designs of its AP1000 reactor to State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation, providing China with a foundation from which it has developed its own pressurised water reactor technology, the Hualong One.
emergence of a new Cold War, and with it the return to a standoff between nuclear-armed opponents. Meanwhile, nuclear rivalry is shaping up in another arena: exports of civil nuclear technology represent a new battleground in which Russia – and increasingly China – are significantly outgunning the West, with troubling implications for global

This untested Chinese technology is being installed at a facility in Pakistan, although progress on construction was recently halted by courts in Karachi citing environmental concerns. Despite this setback, Beijing has ambitions to export nuclear technology on a large scale. The February merger of China Power Investment Corporation and State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation—designed to consolidate expertise in international technology transfer and nuclear power production—suggests that Beijing is positioning itself to increase international supply of its own nuclear technology in the future. An assessment of the dynamics of nuclear supply already provides difficult reading for Western suppliers such as Areva or Westinghouse, who are simply unable to compete with Chinese and Russian financing. According to data from the World Nuclear Association, Russia is currently building 37 per cent of the civil nuclear facilities under construction globally, followed by China with 28 per cent. Rosatom, the Russian nuclear corporation, has orders on its books worth US$100bn. Both Russia and China are offering prospective buyers, predominantly in emerging economies, generous financial support to gain access to a range of markets. Moscow has already transferred technology to Hungary, Turkey and Venezuela, and in November 2014 announced that it would build up to eight new nuclear reactors in Iran, despite continuing concerns about Tehran’s nuclear intentions. A preliminary agreement signed last week between Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, and Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi suggests this trend shows no signs of abating. In addition to the on-going relationship with Pakistan, China has also signed bilateral deals to provide new nuclear reactors to Argentina and is expected to be closely involved in the new nuclear build at Hinkley Point in the UK. While the Chinese contribution to the British facility will be financial, this is a likely precursor to an operational role at future UK nuclear sites, with the possibility of indigenously designed Chinese technology being installed on Britain’s east coast. Although nuclear exports are expected to generate profit, they are also strategic. Sanctions have driven Russia to use such deals to solidify relationships with states outside of Europe. For example, Moscow is establishing deeper ties with states in the Middle East and Latin America. China exports to Pakistan to balance its rivalry with India, straining if not ignoring international guidelines set out by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which oversees the trade of international civil nuclear technology. Suppliers are not supposed to export civil nuclear technology to states that have not signed the international Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), of which Pakistan is one, alongside India, Israel, North Korea and South Sudan. Read on ... // empowered by wolframscharnhorst.blogspot.com). Also read: [1], [2]


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