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Battery storage, smart grid and energy efficiency investment tops $1bn

October 24th, 2017

Investment in the battery energy storage, smart grid and energy efficiency sectors has topped $1bn in the first nine months of this year, new analysis has found.

In its quarterly global funding and M&A report for the three sectors, released this week, clean energy consultancy Mercom Capital found that the $1.23bn raised by battery storage, smart grid and energy efficiency firms this year beat the $910m raised in the first nine months of 2016.

Battery energy storage companies raised $563m in 25 venture capital (VC) funding deals during the analysis period, a significant increase on the $209m raised in 29 deals last year. The top fundraiser was US-based Advanced Microgrid Solutions, which raised $34m.

In Q3 2017, funding for battery energy storage was spread across seven sub-technology categories: energy storage downstream, energy storage systems, lead-based batteries, lithium-based batteries, energy storage management software, thermal energy storage and zinc-air batteries.

Smart grid firms raised $380m in 36 VC funding deals, slightly up on the $343m raised in the same number of deals last year. The top-funded company was Californian internet-of-things outfit Particle, which won $20m.

In Q3 2017, VC funding for the smart grid sector was spread across six technologies: smart grid communications, data analytics, smart charging of PHEV and V2G, advanced meter infrastructure, grid optimization and demand response.

The energy efficiency sector was the only one to show a drop in funding, with $289m raised in 28 deals this year compared to $358m from the same number of deals in 2016. The top funding winner was Canada’s Power Survey and Equipment, which bagged $24m.

Funding for energy efficiency firms was spread across four sub-technologies: components, lighting, energy monitoring/dashboard, and developers/installers.

US-based companies predominated in all sectors, although notable were the UAE’s Interel, which bagged the number-two slot in the smart grid category, raising $12m for its ‘hotel of things’ IoT solution; Australian electric vehicle charging station firm Tritium, which raised $8m; and Indian LED lighting firm Corvi, which raised $10m in the energy efficiency category. 


Key things to consider before selecting a generator

October 24th, 2017

There are five important factors to consider when choosing a diesel generator to rent or buy. Christopher Butcher examines each of them in detail

Generators are the essential heartbeat of construction sites, infrastructure projects and outdoor events across the globe.

As a versatile, reliable, power source, their contribution to productivity cannot be overestimated: they can provide vital energy and support to applications as varied as urban de-watering projects, manufacturing industries, hospitals or powering a mobile kitchen serving 5000 people in a remote location, to name but a few.

But while it is accepted that a generator is always present, often the unsung hero of the show, there may be some aspects, particularly concerning comparable performance and size of units, that need to be addressed before a purchase or rental decision is made.

There are five important factors to consider when choosing a diesel generator: ensuring the right capacity for the application, its modularity potential, the type of control system it uses, its fuel efficiency and autonomy, and, finally, its physical size and logistical operation.

Modular is not just about large installations: it can also be for units around the 150 kVA level
Modular is not just about large installations: it can also be for units around the 150 kVA level

Size really matters

The most important thing to consider when sizing a generator is the high inrush currents associated with starting electric motors and transformers, which are typically six times the full load current. However, inrush currents for the type of high-efficiency motors being specified today can be almost double that amount.

As a result, it has been common practice to take motor and transformer starting kVA requirements as a yardstick to determine the size of a generator. This approach often results in generators being oversized for the motor running load and not based on the actual needs of the application.

Moreover, it disregards other key factors that play a key role in sizing generators. For instance, harmonics caused by variable frequency drives and sequential starting of motors.

When starting motors or transformers, large voltage and frequency dips can also occur if the generator set is not sized properly. Furthermore, other loads connected to the generator output may be more sensitive to voltage and frequency dips than the motor or motor starter, which can cause problems.

Thankfully help is at hand. Many generators can now be equipped with solutions to overcome the extra excitation systems required in the alternator. Typically, two options are offered: permanent magnet or auxiliary winding. Both provide the generator with three times their nominal current to cover inrush peaks from the electrical motor, for a minimum duration of ten seconds, via a residuary excitation current.

In certain cases even more advanced options are available. For instance, some generators feature a digital automatic voltage regulator (D-AVR) that is specifically designed to handle the high inrush currents associated with starting motors and transformers. In specific applications, this type of voltage controller allows operators to downsize the generator requirement because the transient behaviour of the power is better managed.

Another option could be to use a 'Close Before Excitation' system that closes the breaker just when engine starts to run. This enables the excitation to increase gradually as the speed of the engine does, allowing for very soft start of loads connected to the generator. This is especially useful for magnetising step up transformers in installations where medium voltage is required.

As a result, it is no longer necessary to buy larger generators than needed just to cope with the initial electrical surge upon starting. What's more, with smart control of the generator's voltage, it is possible to achieve lower fuel consumption, reduced maintenance cost and longer lifetimes.

Modular capability

Even if starting off with just one unit, it's worth asking the equipment manufacturer what steps can be taken to parallel a single generator with others to form a modular power plant set up. For instance, is the generator equipped with this capability as standard? Also, how long would it take to pair two units?

With many generators, this process can take under ten minutes, but not all offer this capability. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to check before an investment is made, in case this capability is needed in the future.

When coordinated by a network of controllers, plug-and-play generators can power up and down according to the on-site power requirements at any given time. For example, only one or two may be operational during periods of low load, thereby boosting fuel efficiency. Equally, all units may become active in periods of high demand.

There are a number of additional benefits from modular capability. Firstly, equipment reliability is enhanced as the failure of a single unit is mitigated by configuring the remaining units to increase their output to maintain the same power output. Secondly, the cost and length of service intervals is reduced, as it isn't necessary to stop the entire power delivery during essential maintenance operations.

These generators feature a new cooling concept that uses an electric fan controlled by a variable speed drive
These generators feature a new cooling concept that uses an electric fan controlled by a variable speed drive

Control systems and management

The ideal control system should offer a variety of features. For instance, the ability to remotely start and program the machine, display warnings, for instance low fuel and other performance issues, in addition to deliver a broad range of analysis data. This helps to better utilise the efficiency of the power plant while providing a valuable overview of the application process.

Many generators are now equipped with Power Management Systems (PMS). What makes them ideally suited for rental applications is the plug-and-play design that allows for easy and rapid configuration. PMS provides the means to optimise the fuel consumption and performance of generators in parallel with load demand, starting and stopping units with corresponding increase or decrease of load. It also helps avoid engine damage to generators from running with low load levels, thereby increasing their work life.

Fuel efficiency and autonomy

Thanks to a number of design innovations and energy efficiency improvements, today's mobile generators now consume much less fuel than was possible five years ago. The fact that the latest equipment can run for longer and more economically has been a big driver behind the market's growth.

However, not all generators are the same and fuel can be expensive. Therefore, it is recommended to ask two or three manufacturers for a forecast on fuel consumption before making an investment.

Furthermore, modularity also contributes to fuel efficiency. For example, taking the demand patterns of a typical industrial application as a guide, the deployment of a 1 MVA generator as a prime power source could mean up to 1677 litres of fuel being consumed each day. That compares with approximately 1558 litres of fuel if three 325 kVA generators were doing the same job. In this case, an estimated annual fuel saving of $35,000 makes for a compelling case, not to mention 85 tonnes of CO2 saved over the course of a year.

The options for fuelling generators are expanding nowadays and now include bio-gas and natural gas. Although this market is emerging, it is important to discuss these technologies with a manufacturer before investing in a new generator.

Generators integrated with an existing energy system in Peru
Generators integrated with an existing energy system in Peru

Physical size and transportation

It pays to determine whether units can be towed or loaded on a truck and to check for features such as lifting eyes and forklift slots. When using multiple generators, it's also worth considering if units can be stacked on top of each other for minimum footprint and access considerations. These factors have a bearing on total operation expenditure and efforts to reduce carbon costs.

Consider all the foregoing factors that affect the choice of appropriate sizing. If in doubt, apply a simple rule for estimating motor starting: 1 kW of generator set rating per 3/4 to 1 hp specified on the motor nameplate. Always stay on the conservative side and remember that generators are built to work hard and the more accurate the sizing is to the application, the greater results.

It will pay to think modular because bigger is not necessarily better. Modular is not just about large installations, it can make a lot of sense with units around the 150 kVA level as well.

For users, contractors and event companies who have always rented the same size generator, now is the time to seek expert advice about the latest developments that are designed to help to match outputs to applications.

Atlas Copco.

How digitisation is transforming 3D data mapping

October 24th, 2017

Technology company Assystem is taking innovations such as data mapping that it has used for aerospace solutions and cross-fertilizing them into the energy sector, writes Mike Sheehan

Driven by rapid modernisation and economic development worldwide, our global energy consumption has doubled since 1970, while electricity demand in particular is growing at double the speed of overall energy use and is set to rise by two-thirds by 2035.

Our past, present and future are inextricably linked to our use of energy. Moreover, rising to the challenge of meeting our energy demands is among the greatest challenges and responsibilities we face as the need for increasingly advanced energy supply-and-demand solutions intensifies.

Nuclear power plays a vital role in the energy mix and its importance will only increase as we strive to continually provide safe, dependable and low-carbon energy around the world.

ASSYSTEM has been involved in ITER,
ASSYSTEM has been involved in ITER, the world's largest fusion experiment

Around 440 reactors operating in over 30 countries worldwide already contribute over 11 per cent of the world's electricity while a further 60 reactors are currently under construction in 13 countries.

Technology is without question our greatest asset and the most valuable tool in our international effort to meet the growing demand for cleaner, more reliable and sustainable long-term energy.

Our capacity to rise to this challenge in the energy sector in recent years has been transformed by the latest generation of digital tools and data-driven solutions with benefits to other sectors including aerospace and automotive.

In order to help realise this future, at Assystem, we are committed to developing the next generation of energy solutions made possible by the latest advancements across engineering and technology. At the heart of this is our innovative digital 3D database bringing with it exciting real-world applications and transformative potential across the energy sector.

Although the tools developed at our centre in Toulouse are crafted for sector specific purposes, the team is also focused on coming up with revolutionary ways of using existing tools such as data mapping to create bridges between different disciplines, a process known as cross-fertilisation.

Cross-fertilisation allows our team of aerospace experts based in Toulouse to implement their skills and innovations across other sectors. Most notably in energy; adding translational flavour to existing innovations.

With increasing demand for innovative new digital technologies in the energy sector, the light, flexible and collaborative digital tool uses 3D models to map data across three dimensions for the first time – enabling unprecedented levels of control, accuracy and insight. This is possible as a result of web based tools that have been developed from inception by our team in Toulouse.

Visualising thousands of structural components simultaneously across energy engineering projects ranging from nuclear reactors to wind turbines offers unique insights, data and solutions-led capabilities.

This optimises performance across engineering and infrastructure while offering digitally-enabled visibility, traceability and accountability in new ways that only recently would have been unthinkable and impossible in equal measure.

Above all, the tool offers unique insights into the full end-to-end lifecycle of energy engineering projects.

Applications in the energy sector

Maintenance and decommissioning in particular has always ranked among the most problematic and challenging areas for the nuclear industry. Historically, this work has been complex, time and labour-intensive and difficult to cost and schedule accurately as well as potentially hazardous.

However, stemming from the Amphibian Aircraft and originally developed by Assystem in Toulouse, our new tool shows remarkable promise in addressing some of the most intractable issues around maintenance and decommissioning, such as:

• Mapping and conducting the follow-up of parts and components. Integrating the mapping and monitoring of components with nuclear engineering projects will radically reduce time while streamlining the efficiency of the processes involved.

• Mapping radioactive emissions. Based on 3D models of the facilities, this safety-critical area is fully digitised to a level of accuracy and reliability incomparable to direct human involvement in addition to transforming safety procedures and protocols due to faster detection and facility-wide automated reactions.

• Mapping all potentially hazardous substances. Connecting and integrating the facility sensor system to the 3D tool also allows for the immediate issuance of alerts, notifications and appropriate safety responses.

• Mapping temperatures and pressures in facilities. Combining temperature and pressure measurements alongside other safety-critical key readings in a single organised, accessible and easily navigable database offers maximum safety and security in a range of nuclear energy facilities.

New 3D data mapping tools also suggest significant advantages for the renewable energy sector, through optimisation and new predictive qualities for maintenance processes and procedures, including:

• New levels of integration. With the importance of logistical and physical infrastructure ranking alongside the actual data readings and energy analysis, integrating energy engineering projects such as wind farms into a multi-layered and multipurpose digital database could open up previously unattainable levels of insight and efficiency.

• Diagnostics and repairs. Photovoltaic (PV) panels and wind turbines can number in the tens or hundreds of thousands at a single site and are often remote and inaccessible, slowing the process of identifying and repairing any damage. A single unified database could locate new damage immediately while troubleshooting and advising on the solution before an engineer need even arrive.

Drilling down into the data

The digitisation of capabilities in the energy sector offers both the macro advantages outlined above in addition to a multitude of more personal benefits.

The web format – accessible online, has cross platform use from any device, anywhere and at any time, including tablets, laptops and even hololens (a self-contained, holographic computer, enabling you to engage with digital content and interact with holograms).

It is fully customisable for user friendly and convenient access. It is also used to deliver 3D data mappings that can be used indefinitely on any type of device using the viewer provided.

This level of extensive customisation and significant degree of collaboration is eminently suited to the sharing of data and resources across fields of work and between teams from contractors, engineers to technicians.

Such capabilities also enable international collaboration across geographical locations.

The uniqueness of this tool in a field of technologically innovative alternatives is the ability to combine, in a single tool, a database and means to map, navigate and precisely visualise complex equipment, large facilities and intricate parts and components.

This new technology and others like it offer immediate and significant real-world applications alongside transformative future potential and longer-term benefits.

Primary among these is the full and comprehensive integration of connected sensors in energy facilities around the world. This has substantial implications for improved performance, maximised efficiencies and self-improving data-driven insights building on their initial foundation of data, readings, reports and other metrics.

Another exciting area in which 3D data mapping is set to provide rapid improvements is the extension of BIM (building information modelling) in the pre-construction phase of energy facilities – facilitating new digital mapping opportunities through engineering lifestyle and storing data for other current and future projects.

Looking to the future

Research and development is at the heart of our ongoing journey of innovating revolutionary tools and applications that can be utilised across a number of sectors including energy, automotive, aerospace as well as robotics.

It's important to keep ahead with the ever growing needs in the industry, as such we have set up a software development team to adapt to the ever growing needs of specific software in the industry.

Technology and energy are particularly busy areas of research and development, as are automotive, aerospace and robotics.

Combining the two as we already have while continuing to innovate gives us the best likelihood of creating pioneering solutions to pressing problems and challenges in the energy sector through transformative new technological tools and data-driven insights.

Our technologically-enabled capabilities and data-driven insights are growing and improving exponentially each year.

With our current 3D data mapping and other digital tools set to transform the industry, even more ground-breaking techniques and solutions are on the horizon and fast approaching.

The energy sector depends on innovation and the widespread adoption of these current technologies will only encourage and accelerate this rate of progress and the beneficial impact on our future.

We should take it upon ourselves as an industry to recognise the potential of these new technologies and embrace their potential today.

Mike Sheehan is Chief Executive of Assystem GPS UK. Assystem is an international engineering group listed on Euronext Paris.

Power unit problems cited in disappointing GE results

October 23rd, 2017

GE’s management have referred to its power unit as an issue in its overall quarterly results performance, announced on Friday.

Revenues and profits tumbled in the power division, where the market for gas turbines remained weak and the company wrote down $1.2bn of assets. Profit in the division plunged 51 per cent overall.

The business suffered from "poor execution" that resulted in project delays, according to Jeff Bornstein, GE's outgoing chief financial officer. GE is trying to fix the power division by cutting costs and replacing management. 
John Flannery
Bornstein, who will step down at the end of the month, said GE (NYSE: GE) had misread the power market, overinvesting in capacity that didn’t sell and not moving quickly enough to cut costs.

“We have a tough 2018 in front of us but feel optimistic about the business beyond that,” Bornstein said of the division.

Newly installed chief executive John Flannery (right) has vowed to turn things around, in terms of the problems besetting the overall business.

“It’s clear we need to make some major changes,” he said. “Our results are unacceptable to say the least.”

Flannery, who replaced Jeff Immelt over the summer, faced tough questions from analysts after GE reported lower third-quarter earnings and cut its full-year forecast. He added that a a comprehensive plan would be introduced on November 13 investor day for rousing growth at the 125-year-old company. He described 2018 as a “reset year.”

Net profit for the quarter ending September 30 was $1.8bn, down 9.7 per cent from the year-ago period.

PwC creates drone data application for power sector

October 23rd, 2017

PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has created an application that integrates, manages and delivers drone collected data in one convenient, easy to use interface of a web browser.

The application is expected to draw interest as more utilities take on board the benefits of drone technology. It has increased in relevance in the US, where losses from network outages are estimated to have been worth $169bn.
Drone technology
The tool is used for measuring and analysing geospatial data and for integration with data from your company. The application is adjustable and modular, while the available image data in it is easily comparable as a result of its quantification. All operations, including data integration, conducted on cloud servers, which solves the problem of slowing down computers, laptops, tablets or smartphones. In addition, the data is securely stored in accordance with the strictest PwC data assurance.

In August of 2016 the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) issued new laws to regulate commercial drones. Utility companies were quick to take advantage of the new rules. Chris Hickling of the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) the trade group of investor-owned utilities in the US said: “We’ve certainly heard from our members that they’re excited about this technology. They see it as part of building a smarter infrastructure. We see it as an area that’s going to continue to grow.”

In the state of Florida, companies such as Florida Power and Light and Gulf Power are authorized by the FAA to use drones. The drones have high quality video cameras that can take photos and videos of difficult-to-reach areas. The drones cost about $6,000 each but they save money and reduce employee risk by reaching swampy areas and areas with downed trees.

The new technology helped companies restore power to consumers after the devastation created by, Irma, the recent hurricane that hit the state. The FAA issued 132 airspace authorizations after the storm.

FAA administrator Michael Hurta said: “I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the hurricane response will be looked back upon as a landmark in the evolution of drone usage in this country.” 

Modern Energy Management wins contract for Vietnam wind farm

October 23rd, 2017

One of Vietnam’s first commercial-scale wind farms is underway with the announcement that its initial phase is to be overseen by Thai project management firm Modern Energy Management (MEM).

The 144 MW intertidal Tra Vinh project is being developed by South Korea’s Woojin Construction, special-purpose company Tra Vinh Wind Power and Netherlands-based development funding provider Climate Fund Managers.

Under the terms of a co-operation agreement signed between the project partners and MEM, the company will oversee the $130m first development phase of 48 MW. 

Vietnam has set a renewables target of 10 per cent of its power mix by 2030, but investment in the sector has been slow due to a low FiT rate, lack of transmission infrastructure and the fact that the nation’s power purchase agreement (PPA) offering for both wind and solar projects is seen as ‘unbankable’ by international investors.

MEM said it expects the Tra Vinh wind farm to be the first such project to successfully resolve these issues due to its approach which integrates the insurance, legal and project management aspects of project development and “bridges the various financial, commercial and technical siloes that can arise in the course of developing wind assets”.

The company added that it will supply a dedicated project manager to who will ensure that “the project matures as planned enabling bankability”.

Lars Lund, MEM’s director, said the Vietnamese wind market “possesses considerable investment potential for projects that focus on the fundamentals as a means of reducing costs and ensuring sufficient returns for investors”.

Vietnam currently has around 200 MW of wind power capacity installed, and around 50 projects are in the planning or construction phase.

Earlier this month, the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) announced a grant to Vietnamese engineering firm Power Engineering Consulting Joint Stock Company 2 (PECC2) for development of a 100 MW nearshore windfarm in Vietnam’s southern region.


Deadline extended for Electrify Europe call for papers

October 20th, 2017

The Advisory Board of Electrify Europe has decided to extend its deadline for submission of outstanding papers to form the 2018 conference programme. The new deadline has been extended to 27th October, 2017.

Electrify Europe takes place in Vienna on the 19th of June, 2018. This year’s papers will come under the broad topics of:

  • Asset Management & Optimization
  • Customer Strategies, Technologies & Advanced Metering Infrastructure
  • Digitalization & Data
  • Distributed Energy Resources
  • Environmental Issues
  • Flexible Generation
  • Smart Grid & Smart Infrastructure
  • Strategies for an Electrified Europe

Electrify Europe is a new concept for the electricity industry, brought to you by two trusted power industry brands: POWER-GEN and DistribuTECH. It is where the implementation of Europe’s electricity transition will be mapped out. Electrify Europe will combine power generation and grid design/operation, along with the latest developments in digitalization, energy storage, renewable energy integration and much more.

So, whether you’re a power producer, grid integrator, technology supplier or a software developer, if you have a unique viewpoint to share, we want to hear from you. If your paper is accepted, you’ll be presenting to an influential international audience of electricity sector professionals and innovators, converging in Vienna next June to advance Europe’s electricity revolution.


Landis+Gyr and British Gas achieve ‘next generation’ UK smart meter milestone

October 20th, 2017

Landis+Gyr (LAND.SW), global provider of energy management solutions, has announced the introduction of the next generation of smart meters for electricity and gas in the UK.

Building on its longstanding presence in the UK metering market, Landis+Gyr has worked with British Gas to launch the first of a new standard in smart technology. The first of the new model UK smart meters is now installed and live in a British Gas customer's home.
These smart meters, part of Landis+Gyr’s UK smart metering family, are the first to comply with the Government’s ground breaking smart energy standard, SMETS2 ('smart metering equipment technical specifications 2’).

The first operational SMETS2 meter, installed in August at a semi-detached home in Surbiton, will be part of extensive consumer testing to inform the wider national roll-out of the meters from 2018.

SMETS2 smart meters will deliver a wide range of improvements, including:

Interoperability – these devices enable seamless switching between energy suppliers by connecting with the Data Communications Company (DCC).

High security – the new meters maintain and extend the highest standard of security for householder data.

Renewable energy support - the new meters will facilitate the connection of all types of home renewable and microgeneration technology onto the grid, supporting a cleaner, greener UK.

At a national level, the new meters are set to form the cornerstone of an improved national energy infrastructure, more flexible, reliable and efficient than ever before. The highly-detailed information they provide for the UK’s electricity network operators will help to reduce the annual cost of supporting the country’s power grid, and aid renewables integration. Critically, it will also enable the expansion of electric vehicles across the UK – a key part of UK Government’s future transport strategy and a vital step in creating a clean-energy future.

Having chosen to locate its gas and electricity smart meter R&D facilities in the UK in order to best serve the highly-advanced UK smart metering market, Landis+Gyr continues to support the UK tech industry and foster its growth. With the rapid expansion of smart meters across continental Europe, the cutting-edge functionality of its SMETS2 devices is expected to be integrated into many of the company’s solutions across Europe, exporting UK skills and expertise.

Several UK energy retailers including British Gas are beginning volume SMETS2 pilot programmes, utilizing the company’s SMETS2 solution this autumn. Landis+Gyr expects to deliver more than 20 million smart gas and electricity meters for its UK customers as part of the nationwide rollout currently underway.

Catherine O’Kelly, Industry Development Director at British Gas, said: “We’re proud to be the first energy supplier in the UK to install a SMETS2 meter in a customer’s home. It’s a really important milestone for our programme, coming hot on the heels of our four millionth smart meter installation a few months ago.” 

INFOGRAPHIC: Which country is leading the way in sustainability?

October 20th, 2017

he World Energy Council has released its Energy Trilemma Index

The tool ,produced in partnership with Oliver Wyman, ranks countries on their ability to provide sustainable energy through 3 dimensions: Energy security, Energy equity (accessibility and affordability), Environmental sustainability. 

The ranking measures overall performance in achieving a sustainable mix of policies and the balance score highlights how well a country manages the trade-offs of the Trilemma with "A" being the best.

Which country is leading the way in sustainable energy

Balancing the three goals constitutes a 'dilemma' and is the basis for a secure, affordable and environmentally sustainable energy system. 

The latest findings shows a clear trend towards Europe and North America being the most sustainable areas, with Denmark leading the way, with top marks across each three dimensions.

In fact, the Nordic countries dominate in the ranks for the world's most sustainable countries, with Finland, Norway and Sweden all in the top 10.

The least sustainable countries include Benin, Nepal and Cambodia.

Meanwhile the UK finished 11th in the rankings and neigbouring Ireland achieved 20th position.

The sole country outside of Europe to make the top ten is New Zealand in 9th postion. Other notables include the US at 14, Canada at 22, Japan at 30, Russia at 45 and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at 47.

For more information on rankings go to World Energy Council data, which shows the tallies for 125 countries.

This infographic was provided courtesy of RS Components

South Korea rows back on nuclear reactors decision

October 20th, 2017

The South Korean government has decided to construct two new nuclear power plants, despite initially stating that is programme was complete.

Prior to his election, President Moon Jae-in had vowed not to allow any new reactors. Reuters reports that when he made that pledge, five nuclear power plants were under construction, three of them near completion. Mr. Moon said that he would scrap the other two, which were both in the early stages.
Moon Jae-in
In June, Mr. Moon proposed an independent panel to study public opinion on the issue and make a recommendation. The panel worked with 471 citizens from various walks of life and conducted extensive surveys.

While the panel was at work, Mr. Moon suspended the construction of the two reactors, both inside the Gori nuclear power complex in Ulsan, in the southeast of South Korea.

On Friday, after three months of study, the panel endorsed a return to construction. Three-fifths of the panel supported the projects, while the remaining members were opposed.

The president has decided to take on board their decision and now complete the plants, despite a great deal of public opposition.

The government-controlled Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Company, the country’s sole nuclear operator, has already spent $1.4bn on the construction of the last two reactors.

But the panel supported Mr. Moon’s long-term policy of weaning South Korea off nuclear energy, with 53 per cent urging that nuclear power be scaled back, while nearly 10 percent wanted it expanded. More than a third favoured maintaining current levels.

South Korea currently has 24 reactors providing one-third of its electricity needs.

Besides the five plants under construction, South Korea had planned to build six more. Mr. Moon has scrapped those plans and his government has also vowed not to extend the operation of existing reactors when they reach their life expectancy.

Mr. Moon has also promised to invest more in renewable energy sources and said he would issue no new licenses for coal power plants.

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