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atw 2018-05v6

atw

atw Vol. 63 (2018) | Issue 5 ı May 354 NUCLEAR TODAY Author John Shepherd Shepherd Communications 3 Brooklands West Sussex BN43 5FE, United Kingdom Links to reference sources: IAEA announcement on Akkuyu https://bit.ly/ 2JmW0Wa Der Spiegel https://bit.ly/2IIZfpH JAIF report https://bit.ly/2IKKQt4 Joe Lassiter article https://hbs.me/ 2uVYPua Nuclear Newcomer Turkey and ‘Comeback Kid’ Japan Show the Way Ahead Around 20 years ago, when I took my first tentative steps into writing about the nuclear sector there was one story that cropped up again and again – and I was frequently told: “Forget that – it will never happen, they’ve been talking about it for years.” The subject was Turkey and its desire to build the country’s first nuclear power plant. Many of those I encountered in my early nuclear years and who had much more experience could list a myriad of reasons why Turkey’s ambition would probably not come to pass. The mainstream media too, I recall, was less than enthusiastic about Turkey going nuclear. One such article I’ve managed to dig up from Germany’s Der Spiegel in 2008 asked of Turkey’s nuclear aspirations: “In a country prone to earthquakes, is it safe?” The article went on to say: “By acquiring nuclear energy, the country hopes to make itself independent of its main energy suppliers, Russia and Iran.” Well fast forward to today and think again! In early April, Turkey finally reported the start of construction of its first nuclear power plant to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Power Reactor Information System. First safety-related concrete was poured for unit 1 of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant on 3 April, following the granting of a construction license by the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority the day before. Four units are planned at the site on the Mediterranean coast, 500 kilometres south of Ankara, all scheduled to be in operation by 2026. Akkuyu will apparently have a total installed generating capacity of 4,800 megawatts ( electrical) (MWe). The technology will be Russian VVER following an agreement between Russia and Turkey to build and operate the plant at the Akkuyu site signed in May 2010. So much for that 2008 article reflecting on how Turkey wanted “energy independence” from Russia! Politics makes strange bedfellows, but let’s leave politics aside for now. Turkey has become the fourth country in recent years to have started construction of its first nuclear power plant, following the United Arab Emirates in 2012, Belarus in 2013, and Bangladesh in 2017. There was progress too on the international nuclear front in April from Japan, where Kansai Electric Power Company confirmed that the third unit of its Ohi nuclear power plant, in Fukui Prefecture, had resumed commercial operation. According to the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF), the Ohi-3 PWR had been restarted on 14 March and was followed by Kyushu Electric Power Co’s Genkai-3 PWR restart on 23 March. JAIF said the restarts brought the total number of the country’s nuclear reactor units clearing the country’s new post-2011 safety regulations to seven. Japan was another country ‘written off’ by the nuclear naysayers just seven short years ago after the earthquake and tsunami led to the Fukushima nuclear accident. In a related move, JAIF said as of 26 March, the Russian government had lifted almost all prohibitions on marine products from Japan that had been introduced due to fear of radioactive contamination following the accident. Some countries had seized on the most recent accident in nuclear history to justify their own attempts to kill off nuclear at any cost and for spurious reasons. Yet Japan is ‘back in the game’. Both Japan and Turkey highlight the art of the possible. They also underline the planet’s continuing, undeniable need for nuclear to remain a part of the energy mix. With the future in mind, the IAEA has formed a technical working group to push ahead with work on small, mediumsized or modular reactors (SMRs) and to provide a forum for the agency’s member states to share information and knowledge. By the time you read this article, the first meeting of the group, comprising some 20 IAEA member states and international organisations, is likely to have been held in Vienna. According to IAEA deputy director-general Mikhail Chudakov, who heads the agency’s Department of Nuclear Energy: “Innovation is crucial for nuclear power to play a key role in decarbonising the energy sector. Many member states that are operating, expanding, introducing or considering nuclear power are quite keen on the development and deployment of SMRs.” The first three advanced SMRs are expected to begin commercial operation in Argentina, China and Russia between 2018 and 2020, the IAEA has said. “SMR development is also well advanced in about a dozen other countries.” In a recent Op-Ed for the Harvard Business School Joe Lassiter, who is a faculty fellow of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program and a faculty associate of the Harvard University Center for the Environment, said: “I have high hopes for the promising technology category known as “new nuclear,” which offers the potential to dramatically reduce costs and rapidly ramp up installations when compared to today’s nuclear power plants. But the success of new nuclear – and perhaps the future of the planet – requires big, immediate investments from the private sector.” Lassiter said that while he is “all for renewables, I believe every effort should be made to make nuclear power one of the world’s low-cost alternatives for meeting the urgent demand for power while winning the race with fossil fuels”. This is especially the case in Asia, “where the demand for energy is so pressing and the resulting fossil fuel CO 2 emissions are forecast to grow for the foreseeable future”, Lassiter said. Lassiter’s article is spot on and should be recommended reading to nuclear industry leaders and policymakers. There will of course be setbacks (challenges) along the way in any venture. That’s life and that’s how we learn. But the nuclear industry would be in a dark place today if it had given in to those who talked down the aspirations of countries such as Turkey – or given in to those who said the accident in Japan meant it was time for the world to turn its back on nuclear. I believe that nuclear’s best days are yet to come. But that will require vision and determination and an unwavering commitment to grow the industry safely for the benefit of all. Nuclear Today Nuclear Newcomer Turkey and ‘Comeback Kid’ Japan Show the Way Ahead ı H. Breitkreutz, J. Shi, R. Jungwirth, T. Zweifel, H.-Y. Chiang and W. Petry

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