Thursday, February 5, 2009

P31 Pick Points

Half-a-dozen or so stories of interest:

Sweden has just lifted its ban on nuclear power growth, with the intent of increasing from their current 10 nuclear reactors. Last October the NEA published its first Nuclear Energy Outlook with predictions up to 2050, and with the renewed interest and this global switch to a more favorable atmosphere concerns about supplies of uranium are rising. India has just signed agreements with Kazakhstan to assure its supply. With as many as 300 new reactors planned around the world, assuring supplies is becoming more necessary. India alone will bring four new reactors on stream this year. And just this week Areva has agreed to supply $6.3 billion worth of uranium to France. It will likely come from Canada, Kazakhstan and Niger. In regard to the weapons side of uranium purchases Iran is apparently finding it more difficult to find supplies. There is however a prediction that supplies of uranium (once mined) may well last 200 years though that carries the usual caveat of “at current levels of consumption.” With the growing number of reactors, that prediction becomes increasingly meaningless.

China is also pressing ahead with its nuclear power program, doubling its nuclear power target for the next decade. The country currently has 11 reactors generating about 1% (9 Gigawatts) of the countries needs. By 2020 the new target is 70 Gigawatts. Construction planned for this year will add over 8 Gigawatts alone. It may need the power since hydroelectric sources will be hurt as the country sees a lack of rainfall since October that has caused China to declare a state of emergency in eight provinces. 40,000 sq miles of wheat and red seed, about half the crop, are at risk.

It has been suggested that the creation of the Zipingpu dam triggered the Wenchuan major earthquake in China last year, this is a concern, since China is still building hydroelectric dams. This dam was set to generate 760 megawatts of electricity. That report is not stopping China Hydroelectric from raising $200 million to help with hydroelectric projects. China is also investing heavily in wind energy aiming for an installed capacity of 122 Gigawatts (the size of five Three Gorges Dam outputs) by 2020

The Xinjiang region of China found more gas in the last year than in the previous 50, and now considers that with 11 trillion cu m it has a quarter of the Chinese reserve. China used 76 billion cu m in 2008, up 12.3% over 2007. Note that this was down from the 23% growth rate of 2007, when it used 67.3 billion cu. M. China is expecting that its economy will lead the world out of recession. One way of doing this is to subsidize the purchase of appliances, particularly in rural communities.

Along those lines President Obama is raising the standards for energy efficiency in appliances, bringing the regulations into line with Congressional will. “We will save in the next 30 years, the energy produced over a 2-year period by all the coal-fired power plants in the United States.” (Incandescent bulbs are to be phased out by 2014). It is a message that more companies are hearing, and increasing renewable energy power, even though it is more expensive. A move to capture carbon dioxide in rock, however, may need to burn 40% more coal to power it (reducing reserves from 200 years to 100).

Iran is making some noises about being a possible source of gas for the Nabucco pipeline. And speaking of pipelines there is talk of providing load guarantees for an ethanol-only pipeline in the United States.

Interestingly just as Pakistan is seeing serious problems with shortages of natural gas , the onset of more LNG trains and the slowing economies of he world may be leading to a world gas glut, at least according to Platts.

For more stories see The Energy Bulletin and Drumbeat at The Oil Drum


  1. I should note here that a connection to Iran by the Nabucco pipeline (Southern Gas Corridor) is inscribed in the EU's Security and Solidarity Action Plan.

    Ultimately, the objective of this pipeline seems to be connecting Europe directly to the North Dome/South Pars field. A bold strategy, that shows how alarmed the Commission is about the Union's gas predicament. Naturally, in case it succeeds (chances are slim), it would bring Europe to a preponderant position in the international gas market.

  2. Thanks, Luis:
    While there are a number of discussions going on who will supply who with what, until the supplies are more assured I doubt that anyone will be willing to pay for the pipelines.