G7 Oppose Japanese Fossil Fuels // UK Classifies Nuclear As Green // China’s CMOC Becomes King of Cobalt
G7 Oppose Japanese Fossil Fuels
G7 nations are pushing back against Japan's proposal to leverage its presidency of the group to advocate for natural gas investment and fossil fuel generation.
“Officials from members including the US and UK have questioned an initial draft communique ahead of a meeting of energy, climate and environment ministers next month, arguing there’s too little emphasis on efforts to accelerate climate action,” reports Bloomberg.
According to the draft shown to Bloomberg, Japan calls for supporting “the need for upstream investment of LNG and natural gas.” The country mentioned the impact of Russia’s ebbing gas production as well as rising demand for natural gas “as a transition energy, including in emerging economies.”
Japan, a resource poor island nation, shares its stance with many other Asian nations like India and China. The Asian region has seen deep investments in coal in response to last year’s energy crisis. Keeping the lights on will always take priority over climate goals. Blackouts and high energy prices sow discord, distrust, and create economic chaos. They’re bad for re-election and investments prospects alike.
“It’s important for Asian nations to have as many energy options as possible in order to have security of supply, and move realistic energy transition forward,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said at a meeting of the Asia Zero Emission Community in early March.
UK Classifies Nuclear As Green
The UK's Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has announced that nuclear power will be slated as environmentally sustainable in the country's green taxonomy.
In an address to the House of Commons, Hunt said, “increasing nuclear capacity is vital to meet our net-zero obligations ... so to encourage the private sector investment into our nuclear programme, I today confirm that, subject to consultation, nuclear power will be classed as environmentally sustainable in our green taxonomy, giving it access to the same investment incentives as renewable energy.”
The chancellor also launched a competition for small modular reactors (SMRs), which could lead to co-funding for the technology it it proves viable.
“There are dozens of different designs for small modular reactors, with projects at different stages in a number of different countries and there is the prospect of a huge global market in the coming years,” reports World Nuclear News. “In the UK, the Office for Nuclear Regulation began a Generic Design Assessment of the Rolls-Royce SMR in April 2022, saying that the process - which looks at the design of a generic nuclear power station and is not site-specific - could take between four and five years. Rolls-Royce SMR, which in November 2021 received GBP210 million (USD285 million) of UK government matched funding, has selected a shortlist of three sites for its first factory producing components for a fleet of its SMRs and identified a range of existing nuclear power plant sites in the UK that could potentially host its SMRs.”
“Make no mistake: this pronouncement isn't happening now because of any new breakthrough in technology or data about nuclear's outstanding environmental attributes,” Mark Nelson, director and founder of the Radiant Energy Group, said in a message. “Rather this marks the overthrow of an anti-nuclear ideological coalition that has held a lock on deep bureaucratic processes in finance and government for almost two generations."
China’s CMOC Becomes King of Cobalt
Chinese miner CMOC Group is expected to overtake Glencore as the world's top cobalt producer this year.
CMOC plans to double production by bringing a Congolese mine online in Q2 2023. But the company has faced steep challenges in the Congo, including squabbles over royalty payments that have halted exports from the Tenke mine since last summer. “It’s kept the operation running, stockpiling copper and cobalt, and CMOC executives told investors on Monday that they’re confident of resolving the issue by the end of March, according to an emailed account of the call from Citigroup Inc.,” reports Bloomberg.
The company's Kisanfu copper and cobalt mine, which began construction in March 2021, is expected to produce up to 30,000 tons this year, surpassing Glencore's Katanga and Tenke mines.
The rush for critical green-energy metals has cast cobalt into the political spotlight—countries’ renewable ambitions are colliding with the political realities of China’s dominance of the entire supply chain. In December, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken signed a memo of understanding with Zambia and Congo towards developing a US-centered value chain for electric vehicles.
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Fears of electricity shortfalls will hound the UK this decade. “The UK risks a shortage in stable electricity generation in the late 2020s as more coal-fired and older gas and nuclear power plants close,” reports Oilprice.com. “Peak demand for Britain’s electricity is expected to rise by 4 gigawatts (GW) by 2027, the research carried out by consultancy Baringa showed. At the same time, the imminent closure of coal-fired power plants, older gas-fired power generation, and closure of nuclear power plants will remove up to 6.3 GW of secure capacity from the UK’s grid, according to the research. Dispatchable capacity, which can be called on when needed and which supports Britain’s energy security, will fall from 93% to 85% at times of peak demand, increasing the risk of a supply shortfall, the research found.”
France has requisitioned refinery workers as strikes continue. “Several French refineries were still blocked from delivering products after two weeks of strikes, causing production and power supply to be disrupted, while attempts to requisition workers at the Fos refinery sparked scuffles with police,” reports Reuters. “The industrial action is part of a nationwide movement against pension system changes including an increase to the retirement age in France by two years to 64, which was forced through parliament without a vote.”
Mitsubishi has created a new heat pump. “Mitsubishi Electric has developed an air-source heat pump that uses propane (R290) as the refrigerant. It can produce between 5 kW and 8.5 kW of heat and domestic hot water to a temperature of up to 75 C,” reports PV Mag. “With our Ecodan models with the R290 refrigerant as a monoblock variant, we are now offering our customers entry into the renovation market with relatively high flow temperatures based on a natural refrigerant,” Dror Peled, deputy division manager at Mitsubishi Electric, said.