Tag Archive | "nuclear energy"

Mitsubishi and Siemens consider joint bid for parts of Alstom


TOKYO (AP) — The possible bid by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for turbine businesses of French engineering firmAlstom is part of Japan’s effort to carve out a share of the lucrative global energy infrastructure business.

Mitsubishi and German rival Siemens AG said Wednesday they are considering a joint bid for parts of Alstom and will decide by Monday whether to pitch it to Alstom’s board.

Mitsubishi Heavy is Japan’s largest heavy machinery maker with $32 billion in annual revenue. It produces ships, engines, nuclear power plants and arms for Japan’s defense ministry.

Reports indicate Siemens and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries have separate plans for the assets they’d acquire under the joint bid.

The financial newspaper Nikkei reported Thursday that Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Hitachi, which merged their thermal power generation systems businesses in February, would set up a new joint unit to incorporate the Alstom acquisition. Mitsubishi would own 65 percent and Hitachi 35 percent, the same ratio both hold in their combined business, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems, Ltd.

Mitsubishi CEO Shunishi Miyanaga said his firm can “substantially contribute to a partnership solution for Alstom which will create value for all parties involved, including the country of France.”

The report put the value of the potential acquisitions by Siemens and the Japanese companies at 1 trillion yen ($9.8 billion).

It said Mitsubishi would purchase Alstom’s steam turbine business while Siemens would buy its gas turbines assets. However, Mitsubishi issued a statement saying that details of the acquisition were still under discussion.

It said Mitsubishi would purchase Alstom’s steam turbine business while Siemens would buy its gas turbines assets.

Alstom has favored a $17 billion bid from U.S. company General Electric, but the French government has been resistant to the deal and sought rival offers.

Alstom’s board is to make a decision by June 23.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, founded in 1884, employs more than 80,500 people. It and Hitachi have led Japan’s effort to gain an edge in the energy systems industry dominated by GE and Siemens. They’ve found an enthusiastic ally in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has circled the globe drumming up business for Japanese corporations.

Under Abe, many Japanese companies have profited massively from policies aimed at stimulating growth through heavy public spending and monetary easing that have helped weaken the yen, boosting the value of their overseas earnings in Japanese currency terms.

Cash holdings of Japanese corporations are equivalent to nearly 45 percent of their market capitalization, compared with less than 20 percent in the U.S. and about 25 percent in Germany.

But with the population in Japan aging and declining, companies have mostly opted to sit on their massive cash piles.

Domestic corporate investment has shown signs of recovery, but so far has lagged expectations, failing to provide the boost to real wages needed to ensure a sustained recovery from two decades of economic malaise.

Overseas foreign direct investment jumped 10 percent last year, to $135 billion, most of it flowing to Southeast Asia and the U.S., and most of it in non-manufacturing industries, according to Finance Ministry data.

There have been a few big overseas acquistions such as SoftBank Corp.’s purchase of a majority stake in Sprint, the third-largest U.S. wireless carrier, in July 2013 for $21.6 billion and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group’s purchase of Thailand’s Bank of Ayudhya Public Co. Ltd. for $5.7 billion.

Overall, though, overseas acquisitions by Japanese companies fell 58.8 percent in 2013 from the year before, to $47.7 billion, according to research firm Dealogic.

Posted in Business, Nuclear EnergyComments (0)

Kudankulam Nuclear Unit commissioning extended


The deadline for the 1,000-MW Unit 1 at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant has been extended to July 22, set by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India.

Nuclear Power Corp filed a petition to the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), for permission to inject ‘infirm power’ into the grid from the first unit up to the date of commercial operation, according to the Press Trust of India.

The synchronization for Unit 1 was carried out on October 22, 2013 but commercial operation has yet to be declared.

Phase C1 and Phase C2 commissioning tests were completed on January 3 and April 5, while Phase C3 was slated to start April 25.

Phase C3 commissioning tests include reactor, turbine-generator, secondary feed water system, control systems and full load rejection tests, CERC said.

The 2,000-MW Kudankulam project, located in Tamil Nadu, is being set up with the technical cooperation of Russia.

Posted in Nuclear EnergyComments (0)

Why New Nuclear Technology Hurts the Case for Renewables


New Hampshire — Does nuclear energy deserve a seat at the table alongside renewable energy technologies in weaning us off of fossil fuels and transitioning into a cleaner energy world? A new report published yesterday suggests not only will newer small modular reactor (SMR) technology be at least as expensive as larger reactors, it won’t fit the needs of a more flexible grid system, and its development will siphon away funding from the truly renewable energy options that need it.

Few debates rile up the renewable energy sector, and our own readership, more than the issue of whether nuclear energy should have a starring role in our energy shift from fossil to clean technologies. Proponents point to its baseload functionality and lack of emissions; opponents rail against enormous costs, high-profile accidents and vast long-term impacts including what to do with the waste. Both sides rely on extensive subsidies to be viable, though at vastly different levels, and renewables (notably solar and wind) are quickly proving viable without them in an increasing number of markets. (At least neither side believes this Spurious Correlation.)

Yet analysis from international economic, climate change, and energy groups all reach the same conclusion: “Nuclear power is among the least attractive climate change policy options and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable [future],” says Dr. Mark Cooper, senior fellow for economic analysis at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School, author of The Economic Failure of Nuclear Power and the Development of a Low-Carbon Electricity Future: Why Small Modular Reactors Are Part of the Problem, Not the Solution (PDF hereaudio summary here). “Worse still, pursuing nuclear power as a focal point of climate policy diverts economic resources and policy development from critically important efforts to accelerate the deployment of solutions that are much more attractive: less costly, less risky, [and] more environmentally benign.”

Here’s why he says SMR nuclear not only isn’t part of the renewable energy equation, it actually undermines it:

  • It won’t be cheaper. Like any significant technology leap SMR involves substantially more costs, from using more material per MW of capacity to establishing the infrastructure to design and build the reactors: up to $90 billion by 2020 to fund just two designs and assembly lines, he predicts. That’s three-quarters of the total projected investment in all electricity generation — and of course it’s far more than renewables’ slice of that pie. And the flip side of this coin is subsidies. For 60 years nuclear has been deeply reliant upon vastly more subsidies than renewables have received, and it’s still dependent upon them — except in the current scrutinous political climate many of the key ones for nuclear aren’t on the table, from liability insurances and waste management to decommissioning, water use, and loan guarantees.
  • The strategy is bad. The aggressive deployment strategy being proposed for dozens of SMRs near population centers is reminiscent of the ‘Great Bandwagon Market’ of the 1960s-1980s when utilities ordered hundreds of reactors and ultimately cancelled more than half of them. That was followed by the ‘nuclear renaissance’ in the 2000s but only 10 percent of those planned reactors are under construction. Now SMR is in the spotlight, five years on and still on the drawing boards, with key developers Westinghouse and Babcock & Wilcox reigning in their SMR efforts (partly blaming low-cost natural gas) as they struggle to find customers and major investors. “It is always possible that nuclear power’s fairy godmother will wave her magic wand over the technology and solve its economic, safety, and environmental problems,” mused Cooper in an e-mail exchange, “but there is nothing in the 50-year history of commercial nuclear power that suggest this is anything but a fairy tale.”
  • Safety is not first. Despite a raft of safety issues that SMR technologies have to overcome, proponents actually want pre-approvals, limited reviews, and reduced safety margins including staff and evacuation zones. With Fukushimastill in the headlines three years later, good luck getting policymakers and regulators to agree to de-emphasize safety — as long as we’re all reminded about it.
  • What’s best for the future? The trend toward a more decentralized energy delivery system is the opposite direction from the passive one-way 24/7 baseload delivery model of a nuclear reactor. “Any resource that is not flexible becomes a burden on the system, rather than a benefit to it,” said Cooper.

Billing SMR nuclear technology as more flexible and cheaper than larger reactors is an even better argument to support non-nuclear renewable energy options unencumbered by the same security, proliferation, and environmental risks, Cooper points out. But giving nuclear power a central role in current climate change policy will “not only drain away resources from the more promising alternatives, it would undermine the effort to create the physical and institutional infrastructure needed to support the emerging electricity systems based on renewables, distributed generation and intensive system and demand management.”

Posted in Nuclear Energy, Renewable EnergyComments (0)


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