Insights on Shanghai’s vibrant nuclear industry

Written by Zaf Coelho. Posted in Interview, Nuclear

nuclear-shanghai

Shanghai has traditionally been known as an international metropolis and a global financial hub in the Far East. However the city is also a major hub of China’s nuclear industryand possesses a rich history in the nuclear sector in China. In fact the first and by far largest nuclear power plant build in China, Qinshan, is located 100 km from Shanghai with companies in Shanghai participating in the project.

As a lead-up to the 5th edition of Asia Nuclear Business Platform 2017 next May in Shanghai, we spoke with Shanghai Municipal Nuclear Power Office (SMNPO) to learn more about the uniqueness of the nuclear industry in Shanghai. SMNPO is the Supporting Organisation of this industry gathering with Mr. Wei Ping, Director of SMNPO an Advisory Board member for ANBP 2017.

SMNPO functions as the city’s government for the local nuclear industry following the government’s nuclear development strategy and policy. it is in charge of the planning and formulation of Shanghai’s local nuclear industry

“The nuclear industry in Shanghai has been involved in every nuclear new build projects in China, and it is now developing towards the target of large-scale, complete-set, export-oriented, and suitable for multi-reactor type.”

Key topics discussed during the interview include:

  • Overview and history of the nuclear industry in Shanghai
  • Importance of the nuclear industry in Shanghai
  • Uniqueness of the nuclear industry in Shanghai as compared to the rest of China
  • Key nuclear companies in Shanghai
  • Current developments in the nuclear industry in Shanghai
  • Opportunities for international companies in the Shanghai nuclear industry

To read the full interview email zaf@industry-platform.com

As part of ANBP 2017, Shanghai Municipal Nuclear Power Office will be hosting an exclusive presentation to highlight the supply chain partnership opportunities between the Shanghai nuclear companies and international participants. A site visit to Shanghai Electric Manufacturing Base has also been planned.

Key nuclear developments to watch in 2016

Written by Zaf Coelho. Posted in Interview, Nuclear

In our last article, we had looked at the key nuclear developments in Asia in 2015. It was eventful year with significant developments coming out of China, both on the domestic and international front. With 2016 just starting, ANBP spoke with several nuclear industry experts to get their thoughts and insights on their predictions for the nuclear industry in 2016 and some of the nuclear developments to watch for this year.

 

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Andreas Goebel
CEO
ATMEA
Paul Murphy
Special Counsel
Milbank
Stephan Solzhenitsyn
Director
McKinsey
Edward Kee
Nuclear Economics Expert
NECG
Jonathan Hinze
Executive VP, International
UxC

 

We started off by first asking them on their predictions for the nuclear industry in 2016.

 

Paul Murphy

  • Interest in nuclear power will increase, as countries look for ways to meet COP21 climate goals
  • The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank will become a new factor in the financing of nuclear power plants
  • Financing of decommissioning will become more widely discussed, as licensees and governments look for ways to accelerate (or accommodate accelerated) decommissioning and find creative ways to fund decommissioning activities.

Stephan Solzhenitsyn

  • Asian OEMs will step up their activity outside of Asia
  • There will be more closures in US and Western Europe due to economic factors. No new U.S. builds on the horizon
  • 2016 will give a strong indication whether traditional western OEMs will continue to be active in the new build business or will bow out and yield to the (Eur) Asian players.

Jonathan Hinze

  • China gets another reactor sale abroad
  • China starts construction on eight new reactors
  • Japan restarts at least six reactors
  • India finalizes deals with France and Russia for new reactors

Edward Kee

  • Japan – more nuclear power plants get permission to restart operation
  • China – announcement of first nuclear power plant export deal (not counting Pakistan units now under construction)
  • US – More merchant nuclear units decide to retire early
  • World – more environmentalists concerned about carbon emissions openly endorse nuclear power

 

Our panelist next shared their thoughts on some of the key nuclear developments to watch in 2016.

 

Paul Murphy

  • Continued progress of reactor restarts in Japan
  • Status of foreign technology reactor sites in India
  • Construction progress of the Barakah Project in UAE

Stephan Solzhenitsyn

  • Will the current new build projects run by traditional OEMs recover or fall into deeper troubles?
  • Will Japan succeed with reactors restart? Or will the restart smoothly transition to decommissioning?
  • Developments in the small/advanced nuclear
  • There is all the buzz about new technologies, but nothing coming to fruition near term

 Andreas Goebel

  • Restart of nuclear power plants in Japan
  • Preparation of the first Gen3+ NPPs start-up in China (AP1000 and EPR)
  • Development of the Turkish and Vietnamese nuclear projects
  • Launching of the Hinkley-Point project in the UK (EDF EPR)

Edward Kee

  • Germany – recognizes that nuclear power phase-out was a mistake and starts process to undo it
  • US – federal/state government takes action to prevent further nuclear power plant early retirements
  • World – nuclear power becomes a real option for countries developing COP21 plans
  • World – horizon for carbon reduction goals changed from 2030 to 2050

Jonathan Hinze

  • Further industry consolidation among suppliers (e.g., recent Westinghouse-CBI purchase, etc.)
  • Russia’s ability to finance export reactors becoming more difficult given low oil prices, domestic economic problems, etc.
  • Uncertainty with power markets in U.S. and Western Europe making life difficult for operating reactors
  • Growth opportunities in Middle East, especially potential new deals signed for construction in Saudi Arabia

 

What are your predictions for the nuclear industry this year and what are the key developments to watch for? Share with us your views.

Global nuclear power developments with a strong focus on Asia, will be discussed during the 4th edition of Asia Nuclear Business Platform which will take place 18-19 May 2016 in Hong Kong.

Asia Nuclear Business Platform is a 2 day programme covering the breadth and depth of the nuclear value chain. The industry gathering will have 250-300 senior participants with all the key stakeholders across the nuclear supply chain present: emerging NPP stakeholders, government, regulators, NSSS vendors, construction companies, law firms, and financial firms.

For more information, email zaf@industry-platform.com for a copy of the agenda.

An interview with Doug True, Executive Vice President, Power Services Group, JENSEN HUGHES

Written by Zaf Coelho. Posted in Interview, Nuclear

Doug True 1
Doug True is the Executive Vice President of JENSEN HUGHES. Mr. True has over 35 years of experience in engineering, safety analysis, operations, and security of a variety of nuclear facilities. He has been the technical director of numerous large scale risk analysis projects ranging from nuclear power plant risk assessments to security risk assessments to chemical process industry safety analyses. Mr. True has been a major contributor to U.S. risk-informed regulatory policies and industry best practices in risk management. He is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering.

 

 

Could you briefly share what risk-informed decisions in nuclear operations and safety mean?

Traditionally, safety and operational decisions have been made under prescribed deterministic requirements applied to stylized accident scenarios, such as demonstrating the capability of safety systems under the assumption of a single failure, strict surveillance and test intervals, specific equipment allowed outage times, etcetera. While these requirements have been successful in establishing the safety of nuclear power plants, they were established in the absence of a comprehensive assessment of the contributors to risks. This has limited the flexibility in both design and operations – the regulations specified how the plant would comply. The availability of plant-specific Probabilistic Safety Assessments (PSAs) provides an integrated view of plant safety that is not possible to obtain with deterministic techniques. Thus, the risk-informed view illuminates where a plant may have safety weaknesses and where a plant may have additional safety robustness. In risk-informed (and performance-based) decisions the regulator specifies what must be achieved, which is to demonstrate that the risk is acceptably low, and that defense-in-depth and sufficient safety margins are maintained. The plant owner/operator can determine, within limits specified by the regulator, how they wish to achieve this.

 

Why is it important?

There are two reasons. First and foremost is safety. It has been demonstrated that the deterministic requirements that result in the design basis for the plant do not assure low risk or balanced risk. Every significant accident that has occurred has been caused by something that was beyond the assumptions in the design basis, either in terms of the event itself or the subsequent equipment failures or human actions. Further, risk assessments have shown that some beyond design basis events and accident scenarios are not as unlikely as we would have liked to believe. In terms of balancing risk, the risk assessments have shown that deterministic safety criteria, such as the single failure criterion, does not make all failures equal in importance to safety. For example, diesels are not as reliable as pumps, and loss of offsite power is more likely than large LOCA, so having only two emergency diesel generators is not the same as having two low pressure safety injection pumps when it comes to balancing risk. Utilizing risk-informed decisions for safety focusses resources on those areas that will result in the greatest safety significance and identifies those areas where the resource commitment exceeds the value of safety that is being provided.The second reason is operational efficiency. The strict design basis requirements for things like allowed outage times for equipment and surveillance test intervals result in significant costs and plant outage time. In many cases these are not commensurate with the risk associated with them. In the US, risk-informed processes have allowed many changes to these deterministic requirements at great cost savings with no decrease in safety. In fact, the evidence in the US is that the risk-informed focus has actually improved safety by increasing the focus on the risk significant equipment and plant configurations. Using risk-informed processes for allowed outage times permits plants to manage overall configurations as opposed to using the status of individual pieces of equipment, which allows more maintenance activities to be performed in parallel. It also allows changes to surveillance test intervals and for maintenance to be shifted from refueling outages to on-line, again with no degradation in safety. This has resulted in shortening the length of refueling outages in the US to the point that the critical path becomes just what it required to move the fuel, not other maintenance activities.

The bottom line is that safety resources are being used more effectively, safety is always being maintained, and operational flexibility is saving the US nuclear fleet millions of dollars every year. As the number of risk-informed applications increases, this trend is becoming even more pronounced.

 

What has changed since Fukushima?

Before Fukushima there was a general feeling in most countries that the design basis process for external hazards was sufficient to assure safety. There was a general belief that beyond design basis external events were incredible and so did not really have to be worried about. It was a deterministic belief – the design basis event was the worst challenge likely to happen and the plant was designed to withstand it; beyond design basis events were so unlikely as to not pose a problem that needed to be considered. Fukushima changed that. Now we understand that there is enough uncertainty in our understanding of the frequency and severity of external hazards that beyond design basis external events can be a significant contributor to plant risk; these events are not necessarily of very low frequency, and some plants may not have much margin above the design basis events. The only way to understand the risks from external hazards comes from performing risk analyses, and the only way to effectively address the risks in an effective and cost-efficient way is by using a risk-informed decision process.

 

What is the current global trend in risk management approach in nuclear operations?

As you might imagine, it varies greatly from country-to-country. Essentially every country requires its plants to perform at least a probabilistic safety assessment for what we call internal events – those random events that result from failures of plant equipment and operator errors. Many countries require most or all of their plants to have PSAs for internal floods and internal fires. PSAs for external hazards, such as seismic, external flood, winds, etcetera are based on considerations of the site vulnerability to such hazards. However, until recently only a few countries used those PSAs for operational risk management. That trend is changing. The US industry is very aggressive in promoting risk-informed applications, and the USNRC has established a risk-informed regulatory framework in which such applications can be implemented. China is moving forward at an ever quickening pace looking at these applications, and some initial ones have been approved by or submitted to NNSA, the regulator in China. Other countries are using it more and more for improvements in beyond design basis safety, but have not yet moved as quickly to allow greater operational flexibility. This too is changing, but it will take time to break down the bias towards the overly prescriptive deterministic requirements that have been in place for so many years.

 

What is the common misconception about risk-informed practices as a risk-management tool in the nuclear industry?

That’s easy. It is the misconception that risk-informed processes are somehow less rigorous and defensible than deterministic requirements; that it is easy to manipulate the risk analysis to get the answer you want and use that to make plants less safe in return for saving money. Nothing could be further from the truth. A truly risk-informed process is very robust, and involves much more than doing a PSA calculation and getting risk numbers. There are requirements for detailed reviews, submittals, checks and balances, and the involvement of many plant departments and management. All decisions involve not just the risk numbers, but a focus on risk insights, assurances of the maintenance of defense-in-depth and safety margins as well as compliance with current regulations. Yes, they help plants save money, but never at the expense of safety, and in fact they result in improved safety by focusing attention on those aspects of the plant design and operations that are most significant to maintaining the risk low.

 

Lastly, JENSEN HUGHES will be speaking on Optimizing Safety and Financial Performance Through Risk-informed Decision Making at ANBP 2016. What can participants expect to hear and learn from the presentation?

We will be speaking about what risk-informed decision making actually is and why that is the approach that has been adopted rather than risk-based regulation. This includes how risk-informed decision-making works in concert with traditional safety concepts such as defense-in-depth and safety margins. We will share the many lessons-learned about risk-informed applications in the US and, based on that, what it takes to develop and implement a risk-informed decision process, including examples of the successes that we have participated in that show how costs are reduced without reducing safety. We will touch on the structure of such programs, the organizational interfaces that are required, and the need to communicate and socialize these programs with all the stakeholders including within the owner/operators, the regulators, and the public. We hope to stimulate some interesting questions and discussion both during and after the session.

 

jhlogoJENSEN HUGHES is an industry leading provider of specialty risk management, engineering design, and engineering program services for the built environment, with over 800 staff serving customers globally through more than 40 offices worldwide, including Japan, China, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, and UAE. Our thought leading experts are known throughout the international nuclear community for developing and implementing creative risk-informed engineering policies, procedures, methods, software and applications to achieve cost-effective and flexible solutions to optimize both safety and operations of nuclear power plants. Coupled with our expertise in fire protection systems and programs, engineering design, first responder training, regulatory submittals and our fire testing laboratory, we are one of the world’s most experienced specialty engineering consulting firm. www.jensenhughes.com