Saturday, June 08, 2013

Toshiba's Westinghouse claims to be the Czech nuclear frontrunner

While the Czech media discuss politicians' opinions on whether we need an expansion of the Temelín nuclear power plant at all – because of the expected drop in coal and gas prices (due to shale oil) – the Japanese investigative journalists claim that they already know that we need it and the Japanese industrial group is likely to win.

Shinzo Abe, center-right Japanese PM

The leading Czech power utility, ČEZ, will decide whether Temelín will be expanded and who will get the $10 billion contract in Fall 2013. The French state-owned Areva was eliminated in a previous round because it was claimed that some basic conditions weren't fulfilled – Areva is trying to appeal but the chances are slim – which leaves us with two candidate projects: American and Russian. Being right in the middle of American and Russian interests (or, in some contexts, German-Austrian and Russian) is something that a genuinely central European country like ours is intimately used to.

Well, more precisely, they're a Czech-Russian plan and a Japanese-American one. The Czech-Russian group is composed of Gidropress (RU), Atomstroiexport (RU), and Škoda JS (CZ), while the Japanese-American project is proposed by Westinghouse (US) which belongs to the Toshiba Group (JP)., a leading Japanese newspapers, claimed that "Toshiba Group [Is] Closing In On Czech Nuclear Order". The project got the highest evaluation in a pre-screening process, AFP tells us.

It's suggested – although I don't quite understand the evidence etc. – that Toshiba Group will be closer to victory also because a group of Central European countries will welcome a new participant at the V4 summit (the Visegrad Group, composed of Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland). Who is it? Is it Slovenia who is trying to join but it may become an outfit for its being so uncritically pro-EU (even more so than Slovakia)? ;-)

No, the new Central European country is called Japan.

On June 16th, while going to the G8 summit in Northern Ireland, Shinzo Abe will stop in Poland to strengthen the Japanese nuclear exports. According to the Japanese sources – not confirmed by the Czech diplomats at all – Abe should sign a treaty about some nuclear cooperation with the new Czech president Miloš Zeman. This would be sort of incompatible with claims by a correctly self-described fa9g0t and, shamefully enough, newly appointed professor Mr Putna (not by Zeman, though) who caricatured both Zeman and his predecessor Klaus as Putin's puppets. Zeman apparently has no trouble with a Russian defeat in this contest.

Any group of high school kids in Japan can easily perform Antonín Dvořák's New World Symphony. ;-) Another part, one more. Holst's Planets, Rachmaninov, and other things from them.

I have no robust knowledge about the projects and their advantages or disadvantages. There are obvious reasons why we could think that the Japanese-American project is technologically better and/or safer although I surely don't think that the Russians are losers when it comes to nuclear energy. The Westinghouse option is worse for the Czech economy, too. If we will talk about Westinghouse as the only candidate at some time, I find it natural for the Japanese and their American employees ;-) to build nuclear power plants in other countries rather than Japan. Japan is overfilled with people which makes it necessary to eliminate even very tiny risks and the frequent earthquake under their soil create the risks very often, too. Despite widespread misconceptions, there hasn't been any nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima at all but perception is everything and most people are too stupid to distinguish an earthquake or tsunami from an explosion of a power plant; only the former, not the latter, produced casualties in Japan.

In Czechia, we don't have any earthquakes to mention, the population density is lower, and the public perception of nuclear energy is good enough so that a nuclear power plant could be rather easily built beneath the Prague Castle, if needed. ;-) The question whether two new reactors are really needed it the toughest one, I am afraid. But one thing is almost certain: Nature wasn't generous enough to allow Czechia to participate in the shale gas boom if there's gonna be one.


  1. There is no reason why Japan shouldn't triple its nuclear capacity because of population density. Earthquakes are not that damaging to nuclear reactors. That is proven in the Fukoshima incident. Even a 9+ quake did not damage critical structures. It was the unwise tsunami tolerance, that was the culprit. That is solved now for all reactors. In fact Fukoshima proved the above tolerance of nuclear power to devastating influences. After tree LOCA's in Fukoshima, there is in fact not that much permanent pollution to be expected. The amount of lives lost is negligible. The real disaster, is the bad press in Japan. Risk is very over-hyped in Japan, radiation risk specially. WITH nuclear power they had the oldest population in the world. Solar investment is 50 times more expensive than nuclear investment for equivalent capacity. If Japan chooses to be green -with solar-, it chooses to be poor. The same for Europa and the USA. In fact the import of substitution fuel for the power production with nuclear PP's,which is prohibited temporary now in Japan, is causing prise rises and inflation. It could even cause the Japanese economic system to collapse. ABE's economic policy of printing money and making the Yen weak , is dangerous with the combination of trade imbalance, because of raw materials and energy import.

  2. The two nuclear reactors at San Onofre, between Los Angeles and San Diego, are going to be shut down and dismantled after a minor radiation leak last year. The combination of high regulatory costs due to “over-hyped” risks and the near-certainty of enough low-cost natural gas to last for decades has rendered the nuclear option uncompetitive.

    It is sad that the lowest-cost and safest method for producing electrical power is out of the picture in the US for a very long time.

  3. How does one calculate "50 times more expensive than nuclear investment for equivalent capacity"? Nuclear costs 5€/W and solar in germany 1.6€/W, and annual production is 8000h and 1300h (Japan), respectively. Either it is around 2 or infinity, depending are you really talking about capacity or energy. Solar PV in Japan has an excellent correlation with load and therefore the two are equal in "benefit to invest"-terms.

  4. It is sad that the lowest-cost and safest method for producing
    electrical power is out of the picture in the US for a very long time.

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