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Even oil-rich companies of Middle East are eying reactors, as more nations announce plans for SMRs Russian troops occupied the Zaporizhzhia nuclear station, which was damaged by shelling. File photo courtesy IAEA. 2022 was a year of mega milestones for nuclear energy.

Countries around the world turned to nuclear as a reliable low-carbon energy source as they looked for ways to wean themselves off Russian imports and lower carbon emissions.

New plants began operating, deals for small modular reactors were signed and countries announced ambitious plans for new-build.

On the political front, US president Joe Biden signed into law new legislation that will help to finance struggling nuclear reactors and could save dozens from being shut down early. In Europe, the nuclear industry celebrated when members of the European parliament decided to “follow the science” and support legislation which includes nuclear in the bloc’s sustainable finance taxonomy for green investment.

Date: Tuesday, 10 January 2023
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The main challenges facing the nuclear industry are not in the production and delivery of electricity, but in securing the policy support required for it to expand its contribution of sustainable and low-carbon energy. This was the message of Philippe Costes, senior advisor at World Nuclear Assocation, to delegates at the Nuclear Power Plants Expo & Summit in Istanbul this week.

Date: Friday, 06 March 2020
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The impetus for new build is being spurred by a need to reduce reliance on polluting coal China has 10 nuclear units under construction including two Generation III Hualong One plants at Fangchenggang. China, with its state nuclear companies backed by a government hungry for development, is the most active nation for building new nuclear power plants. That trend that is likely to continue, although confirming lucrative export deals for its reactor technology still runs far behind the pace set by Russia, which says it had 39 reactors under construction or planned overseas as of 2018.

This compares to only two reactors under construction overseas by China, both in Pakistan, although in the UK China has a stake in EDF’s Hinkley Point C project and plans for Chinese technology at Bradwell B. At Sizewell C in Suffolk EDF wants to build a clone of Hinkley Point C if it can attract enough private investment. CGN holds a 20% share.

The government has said it wants to build 30 reactors overseas by 2030. China and Russia both see Africa, where about 600 million people live without electricity, as something of a golden fleece and are pursuing nuclear agreements, which lay the groundwork for new-build, in a number of African nations. Small modular reactors and floating reactors could be an option for isolated areas. China has already said it is close to starting work on its first floating unit, but reliable details are few and far between.

The impetus for nuclear power in China is increasingly due to air pollution from coal-fired plants. To meet its climate goal as stipulated in the Paris agreement, China will need to reduce its coal power capacity by 40% over the next decade, according to Global Energy Monitor’s analysis. At present, this seems unrealistic. In addition to roughly 1,000 GW of existing coal capacity, China has 121 GW of coal plants under construction, which is more than is being built in the rest of the world combined.

Date: Friday, 24 January 2020
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