THE WORLD’S NUCLEAR NEWS AGENCY
New Publication Calls On The Netherlands To End ‘Uncertainty’ On Nuclear
3 Feb (NucNet): A new study of Dutch energy policy by the International Energy Agency (IEA) urges the government to take a decision on new nuclear build as soon as possible or risk creating uncertainty.
The publication*, ‘Energy Policies of IEA Countries – the Netherlands 2008 Review’, says it is “commendable that the government is beginning to consider whether nuclear could play a larger role in the country’s future energy mix”.
According to the publication: “Delaying a final decision until after 2011, while leaving time to build consensus, also leaves uncertainty about a technology that requires significant lead time to be planned, built and go on line. The government should come to a clearer position as early as possible, using the time to 2011 to create the necessary building blocks and regulatory framework to allow for a timely decision to be taken.”
IEA executive director Nobuo Tanaka said at yesterday’s launch of the publication that the Netherlands should work towards a “broad political consensus” on the future role of nuclear power in the country, keeping in mind that expanding nuclear energy “could make a significant contribution to meeting greenhouse gas emissions targets in a cost-effective manner”.
Mr Tanaka highlighted the country’s “demanding energy and climate agenda”, noting that it calls for a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 from 1990 levels, a 20 percent share of renewables in the energy mix by 2020 and annual energy efficiency improvements of 2 percent by 2020.
In February 2007, the incoming coalition government in the Netherlands said it endorsed an earlier agreement to keep the country’s only operational reactor unit (the single-unit Borssele) operating until 2033, although no new units would be built during the new government’s term of office.
In September 2008, Dutch utility Delta announced proposals to build a second reactor unit at Borssele that the utility said could be operational by 2016.
Political observers have noted that the coalition government is split on the subject of nuclear power. The Christian Democrats, under prime minister Jan-Peter Balkenende, have made strong calls for new nuclear build, while the Labour party and the Christian Union (the junior coalition partner) are anti-nuclear. The main opposition Socialist party has indicated that it is revising its traditional anti-nuclear stance “because the alternatives to nuclear are worse”.
*Details of how to order a copy of the publication (ISBN 978-92-64-04339-8) are available on the IEA’s on line bookshop (http://www.iea.org).
Sarkozy Confirms Plans To Build Second EPR In France
30 Jan (NucNet): A second European Pressurised Water Reactor (EPR) is to be built in France, president Nicolas Sarkozy announced last night.
Construction of Areva’s 1,600-megawatt third generation reactor unit is expected to start in 2012 at the existing Penly nuclear power plant site in northern France, which houses two pressurised water reactor units.
The new unit is expected to start operation by 2017. It will be the fifth EPR construction project initiated worldwide after those at Olkiluoto in Finland, Flamanville in France and Taishan-1 and -2 in China.
France’s Areva group today welcomed Mr Sarkozy’s announcement. The EPR reactor design had been selected for its economic and environmental performance and for a level of safety “unmatched in the market today”, Areva said.
A project management company will be established by Electricite de France (EDF) as a majority shareholder with GDF Suez and will be open to other investment partners. EDF will present details of the project for public debate in the coming weeks.
In December 2007, EDF announced the start of construction of the first EPR in France, Flamanville-3 in Normandy.
In February 2008, US nuclear regulators accepted for review an application to certify Areva’s US Evolutionary Power Reactor (US EPR) design.
The EPR is also one of the reactor designs submitted to UK regulators for generic design assessment as part of that country’s plans for nuclear new build.
Europe Opens Supercomputer Network To ITER Scientists
29 Jan (NucNet): The European Commission (EC) has opened up a network of supercomputers for scientists researching nuclear fusion, which taps energy from reactions like those that heat the sun and could become “a potentially massive” new source of sustainable energy.
Scientists for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) nuclear fusion project will gain dedicated access to the processing power of Europe’s consortium of supercomputing centres: the Distributed European Infrastructure for Supercomputing Applications (DEISA). DEISA currently operates 12 of the world’s 100 most powerful supercomputers.
Access to these computers will allow scientists to carry out complex parts of their work, such as simulations of a fusion reactor’s operation, the EC announced on 26 January 2009.
“We expect the new partnership between the supercomputing services of DEISA and the European nuclear fusion community to make an enormous contribution to nuclear fusion’s potential as a viable energy source and power Europe’s role in this quest,” said information society and media commissioner Viviane Reding in a statement. “This shows how pooling its best scientists and infrastructures helps Europe’s scientific community remain at the forefront of global research.”
Controlled nuclear fusion, the process that releases energy in stars and the sun, has the potential to provide a sustainable form of power generation, said the EC. The ITER project, a collaboration between nuclear researchers from the European Union, Japan, China, India, South Korea, Russia and the US, aims to develop the means to build a fusion reactor at Cadarache, in the south of France. Europe is the leading partner in ITER, contributing near half of the total resources both in terms of personnel and funding.
“Large-scale simulations of nuclear fusion and material properties on cutting-edge supercomputers are essential to the operation and design of present and future fusion experiments,” said Professor Frank Jenko from the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics.
Dr. Hermann Lederer, head of application support at the German Supercomputing Centre RZG, said essential simulations can now be performed “with the full power of modern supercomputers”.
DEISA, which was granted 26 million euro (33 million US dollars) by the EC to use between 2004 and 2011, uses the Géant computer network to distribute and share Europe’s supercomputer processing power. Géant is a European multi-gigabit communications network used exclusively for research and academic purposes.