Australian news, and some related international items

Global nuclear corporations get together in marketing drive

nuclear-marketing-crapGreat power relations: How the US, China and India will forge new partnerships on nuclear energy in 2016, South China Morning Post,  James Wertsch, Shen Dingli and Swaran Singh say this year will see greater collaboration between the world’s three largest polluters – the US, China and India – following their pledges to move away from fossil fuels, 05 January, 2016

This year is set to be the year when the US forges new nuclear partnerships with China and India, and could explore joint projects in third countries, with Westinghouse Electric and the Hualong nuclear power company in negotiations for such ventures. But, given previous mutual security and non-proliferation concerns, this newfound enthusiasm may also be breeding new anxieties.
global nuclear conglomerate

To begin with, complicated and long-winded structural integrity tests have just been declared successful for two of the four Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear power reactors being set up in China’s Zhejiang ( 浙江 ) and Shandong (山東) provinces. These should become operational in September and December respectively. Westinghouse is also in final stages of negotiations for six of the same type of reactor for Gujarat in India.

At a price tag of some US$5 billion to US$6 billion per reactor, such reports are boosting the share price of Westinghouse, which is negotiating to buy parts of the French nuclear reactor manufacturer Areva. It reportedly needs US$7.7 billion to balance its books. Areva’s losses are also allowing China’s Hualong to emerge as the new cost-effective player in the sensitive global nuclear market. That explains why US firms are tying up with China……

….US firms partly owned by Japan’s Toshiba and Hitachi, which explains the changing geopolitics as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last month signed the long-awaited Indo-Japanese deal clearing the decks for American firms to deliver nuclear technology to India….

The coming together of the US, China and India in building nuclear partnerships has been expedited because Russian, French, Canadian and Kazakh firms have not been deterred by India’s domestic situation or legislation. Given this reality, the US – which originally facilitated India’s entry into global nuclear commerce – was beginning to look like a loser. Russia remains India’s largest supplier of nuclear reactors and the two last month signed another agreement for an additional 12 reactors.

Most interestingly, 2016 will see China entering the Indian market as well; not necessarily as a partner with US firms but as a new competitor. As well as working with India as members of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, China has a history of supplying heavy water and uranium fuel to New Delhi. The two began negotiating nuclear cooperation during President Xi Jinping’s ( 習近平 ) visit to India in September 2014 and China is keen to help build India’s energy security infrastructure. Beijing has also been exploring markets in Southeast Asia.

China’s Hualong One nuclear reactor has earned enough experience at home and prestige abroad to make it suitable for exploring new global partnerships. Last October, during Xi’s visit to the UK, he announced US$9 billion worth of investment for France’s EDF and China General Nuclear Power Corporation to build three power plants in the UK, which is expected to see Hualong-designed reactors go global.

India, as always, is never far behind. Since 2010, it has been offering to export its pressurised heavy water reactors, which may be ideal for states with smaller power grids. Last month again, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Moscow, Russia and India began negotiations on exploring joint third-country projects.

The recent shale revolution may have reinforced US energy supremacy, but it has also seen oil prices fall relentlessly, making large oil importers like China and India save their dollar reserves and invest in expensive nuclear technology. All this is whipping up US business interests that will redefine the proverbial “American exceptionalism”, especially in the global governance of nuclear commerce. It will also see the US explore more innovative ways in co-opting the interests of a rising China and emerging India, giving them a greater say in global nuclear decision-making.

James Wertsch is vice-chancellor for international relations at Washington University in St Louis, Shen Dingli is associate dean at the Institute of International Studies, Fudan University, Shanghai, and Swaran Singh is professor of disarmament studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi


January 6, 2016 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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