1. Japanese utility Chubu Electric Power Co has announced that it is restarting unit 5 at its Hamaoka nuclear power plant, which has been offline since a strong earthquake struck Shizuoka prefecture 18 months ago.
The status of the seven reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Station Reactors 2,3 4 are still undergoing inspection with reactor 3 being the closest to a restart.
With a commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by an ambitious 80 per cent by 2050, Japan plans to build 9 new nuclear reactors by 2019 on top of the 55 already in place. For the leadership in Tokyo nuclear power is a proven winner and indispensable to a greener, cleaner future.
While Japan and many of our other regional neighbours including India, Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam and China have already embraced the nuclear concept, Australia can catch up.
The pre-eminent voice in the Australian debate, Ziggy Switkowski, chairman of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, believes Australia can have its first reactor operating by 2020 and 50 in place by 2050, providing 90 per cent of the nation’s energy needs.
Such a move would propel us a long way towards meeting our emissions targets by 2050.
Developments in reactor technology are also occurring so fast that the construction phase is likely to shrink from 60 to 30 months in coming years.
3. The construction with Russian assistance of a nuclear power plant in Belarus will begin in September, 2011. The contract will envisage that the construction of the first unit will be finished by 2017, but given that we can speed up the process, it may be finished by 2016.
4. India connected its 20th reactor to the grid, the Kaiga-4 202 MWe reactor India’s nuclear power capacity has gone up to 4780 MW.
India has two bigger reactors scheduled to start in 2011 which will add about 38% to India’s total nuclear generation (6614 MWe total).
KUDANKULAM-1 PWR 917 MWe 2011/02/28 KUDANKULAM-2 PWR 917 MWe 2011/08/31
5. India is confident of commissioning the first-of-its-kind Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (FBR) in 2012 after overcoming the technology challenges confronting it. The 500 MWe reactor, being developed by the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), uses a unique mix of uranium and
plutonium which significantly enhances the capability to generate electricity per tonne of fuel utilised.
“Our anxiety about technological challenges for the construction of the country’s first 500 MW Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) is over and we are at the closure for technology delivery,” IGCAR Director Baldev Raj told PTI.
The sodium-cooled PFBR uses Uranium-Plutonium mixed oxide as fuel.
The scientists have also successfully loaded 1,500 tonnes of the molten sodium which will be the coolant of the reactor. The total requirement is about 1,700 tonnes.
“We do not see any concern in commissioning the PFBR,” he said.
India plans to have at least five more 500 MW fast breeder reactors by 2020, two of which could be set up at Kalpakkam.
6. Poland is looking to start construction of a 6 GWe (4-5 reactors) nuclear reactor complex in 2013 for completion in about 2020 They plan to follow that up with another complex of the same size and complete it by 2030.
Uranium will be the biggest ambitious mining project in Mongolia after Oyu-Tolgoi and Tavan Tolgoi projects” he emphasized. “Mongolia has nearly one million tons in reasonably assured reserve of uranium and we need to speed up the production.
The Nuclear Energy Agency has tentative plans for developing nuclear power, using either Korean Smart reactors or Toshiba 4S types, from 2021. Three sites under consideration are Ulaanbaatar, western Mongolia and Dornod province.
8. Brad Wall, the entrepreneurial provincial premier of Saskatchewan, knows that just mining 20% of the world’s uranium supply won’t fuel the region’s economy forever. For years Wall has wanted to move up the value chain.
A while back he floated the idea of getting Canada into the uranium enrichment business. Now Wall, and his energy minister Bill Boyd want to develop a plan to deploy small modular reactors (SMRs), e.g., with less than 300 MW, across the wide open spaces of Saskatchewan.
The author of this blog is originally from Regina, Saskatchewan. He wrote to the local city newspaper in the 1990s to make the economic case for nuclear power. Saskatchewan Premier (1982-1991) Grant Devine tried to arrange for a deal to get CANDU nuclear reactor research to the province but the NDP and anti-nuclear people blocked it. This was when there was almost no nuclear reactor activity in the world and Saskatchewan was supplying 20-30% of the worlds uranium. It would have brought thousands of PHD jobs to a city with about 200,000 people and 120,000 total jobs. It was just the mainly academic research.
It would be like Saudi Arabia not being willing to research on improved refineries and being against gasoline engines.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.