"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Friday, August 01, 2008

The UK Nuclear Power Industry a long lesson in failure, incompetence, and sale of the family silver

On 30 May 2007 it was announced that the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry , Alistair Darling, would instruct the Nuclear Liabilities Fund to sell up to approximately 450 million shares, representing around 28% of the Fund's interest in British Energy. This raised £2.56 Mn which was available for the Nuclear Liabilities Fund.

Westinghouse was founded in Pittsburgh in 1886 by George Westinghouse. The company (who built the first PWR in 1957 in Shippingport, PA) was acquired in 1998 by British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) from CBS Corp. for almost $1.2 billion . In 2000 the commercial nuclear power businesses of ABB were purchased by BNFL and integrated into Westinghouse Electric Company. In September 2006 Toshiba complete the purchase of the company from BNFL for approximately US$5.4 Bn ( £2.8Mn ish) for the coffers of the Bank of England. Alastair Darling was still at DTI (BERR) and Gordon "Prudence" Brown was Chancellor of the Exchequer.

A US consortium had already chosen Westinghouse technology for the construction of 12 14 new nuclear plants across the southeastern United States. The chosen design was the AP1000™ pressurized water reactor (PWR). It is the only Generation III+ reactor to receive Design Certification from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The AP1000, based on the proven performance of Westinghouse-designed PWRs, is an advanced 1154 MWe nuclear power plant.

In 2007 Westinghouse and US based major construction and enegineering company the Shaw Group signed a landmark, multibillion-dollar contracts to provide four AP1000 nuclear power plants in China. It is anticipated this could result over the next 25 years in the construction of a further 25 plants throughout China.

Chairman Li Yongjiang,Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant said, in accordance with national planning, By 2020 China will create 40 GWe production capacity of nuclear power, at present, China has only about 10 GWe manufacturing capacity, which means that, within 12 years, a large number of nuclear power projects need to be developed.

The website of the World Nuclear Association states that Mainland China has eleven nuclear power reactors in commercial operation, six under construction, and several more about to start construction.

Additional reactors are planned, including some of the world's most advanced, to give a sixfold increase in nuclear capacity to at least 50 GWe or possibly to 60 GWe by 2020 and then a further three to fourfold increase to 120-160 GWe by 2030.

The country aims to become self-sufficient in reactor design and construction, as well as other aspects of the fuel cycle.

This week ground has been broken on the first unit at Haiyang of the first of China's Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear power reactors as a production line is established for further plants.

Excavation for the first of the two plants will take approximately three months to create a hole 12 meters deep (39 feet) that will house the nuclear reactor and turbine buildings. The volume of the excavation is approximately 48,916 cubic meters or about 19.5 Olympic-size swimming pools. When completed, a base for the plant nearly 175 meters wide (570 feet) by 250 meters long (840 feet) will exist.

The pre-construction milestone comes only 10 days after a ceremony to mark the readiness of a factory specifically designed for nuclear power plant component modules. Shandong Nuclear Power Construction Group built the facility ( their website claims SEPCO enjoys great reputation as “Iron Army for Power Construction”), which has the capacity to support the construction of two AP1000s each year, in just 11 months.

Haiyang nuclear power plant is planned to eventually host 8 large advanced reactors, of which only two have so far been contracted from Westinghouse and Shaw. The new manufacturing facility is local to Haiyang in Shandong province, but also to the Weihei and Hongshiding sites which are also expected to host 2 advanced reactors each.

In order to expand and speed work on site, the latest reactors are designed to be made in prefabricated modules that can be transported and fitted as a whole after production at factories like the new one in Shandong. Located near the sea, the components and modules from the plant could be taken to any new nuclear site in China, and potentially the rest of the world.

Shandong said the new 71,000 square metre factory includes a cutting workshop, a pipeline workshop, a paint shop and a workshop for containment vessels (the steel liners that lie within the overall reinforced concrete reactor containment).

Large components for the Haiyang units have already been contracted: Doosan Heavy Industries of Korea is making the reactor pressure vessels and steam generators, while Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan and Harbin Boiler Works of China will supply the steam turbines. For Westinghouse's other pair of AP1000s at Sanmen the steam generators and reactor pressure vessels will be made in China by either Harbin, First Heavy Machinery Works or Shanghai Electric.

First concrete at Haiyang - the official start of construction - is expected in September 2009, with commissioning of the first unit about 36 months later - which will be just in time for the Asia Beach games in 2012 to be held in Haiyang - this year in Bali (Oct 18th-26th) will be the First including Surfing: Marathon Swimming: Beach Volleyball: Paragliding.

Now selling off Westinghouse for the cost of ,say, an aircraft carrier might be considered a bargain. The failure to sell the current fleet of clapped out and failing fleet of pick'n'mix nuclear reactors to EDF / Areva further compounds decades of waste, delay, dither, failure and the total loss of energy security of UK plc.

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