May 17, 2020

China Tests New Breakthrough Nuclear Reactor

fast neutron reactor
2 min
In pursuit of more efficient nuclear energy technology, China announces the testing of a breakthrough fast neutron reactor
Nuclear energy is still going strong, and Chinese researchers claim to have developed a breakthrough technology that will boost the efficiency of next...


Nuclear energy is still going strong, and Chinese researchers claim to have developed a breakthrough technology that will boost the efficiency of next generation reactors.  The China Institute of Atomic Energy claims to have tested a small fast neutron reactor outside Beijing on Thursday, successfully feeding electricity into the power grid.

Following the Fukushima disaster in Japan, China has slowed the approval process of new plant development to allow for more stringent safety checks.  Nonetheless, the test is a show of determination for Beijing in providing more efficient nuclear power to round up China’s diversified energy portfolio.

The China Institute of Atomic Energy reportedly spent a year testing the fast neutron reactor prior to attempting to connect it to the power grid. 


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The fast neutron reactor is more efficient in that it requires less uranium to produce energy.  The technology reduces radioactive waste as a byproduct and can even potentially utilize nuclear waste with trace amounts of uranium from older, less efficient reactors as fuel. 

However, there are drawbacks to the new technology, which may raise flags especially in the wake of the Japan nuclear crisis.  The fast neutron reactors are more difficult to cool, and as seen in Fukushima, a less-than-adequate cooling system can lead to disastrous meltdown scenarios.  Risks aside, the technology will likely proliferate throughout China, and the world, as multinationals seek next generation reactor technology. 

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Jul 30, 2021

Major move forward for UK’s nascent marine energy sector

3 min
The UK’s nascent marine energy sector starts exporting electricity to the grid as the most powerful tidal turbine in the world begins to generate power

Although the industry is small and the technologies are limited, marine-based energy systems look to be taking off as “the world’s most powerful tidal turbine” begins grid-connected power generation at the European Marine Energy Centre

At around 74 metres long, the turbine single-handedly holds the potential to supply the annual electricity demand to approximately 2,000 homes within the UK and offset 2,200 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Orbital Marine Power, a privately held Scottish-based company, announced the turbine is set to operate for around 15 years in the waters surrounding Orkney, Scotland, where the 2-megawatt O2 turbine weighing around 680 metric tons will be linked to a local on-land electricity network via a subsea cable. 

How optimistic is the outlook for the UK’s turbine bid?

Described as a “major milestone for O2” by CEO of Orbital Marine Power Andrew Scott, the turbine will also supply additional power to generate ‘green hydrogen’ through the use of a land-based electrolyser in the hopes it will demonstrate the “decarbonisation of wider energy requirements.” 

“Our vision is that this project is the trigger to the harnessing of tidal stream resources around the world to play a role in tackling climate change whilst creating a new, low-carbon industrial sector,” says Scott in a statement. 

The Scottish Government has awarded £3.4 million through the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund to support the project’s construction, while public lenders also contributed to the financial requirements of the tidal turbine through the ethical investment platform Abundance Investment.

“The deployment of Orbital Marine Power’s O2, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, is a proud moment for Scotland and a significant milestone in our journey to net zero,” says Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Net-Zero, Energy and Transport for the Scottish Government. 

“With our abundant natural resources, expertise and ambition, Scotland is ideally placed to harness the enormous global market for marine energy whilst helping deliver a net-zero economy.

“That’s why the Scottish Government has consistently supported the marine energy sector for over 10 years.”

However, Orbital Marine CEO Scott believes there’s potential to commercialise the technology being used in the project with the prospect of working towards more efficient and advanced marine energy projects in the future. 

We believe pioneering our vision in the UK can deliver on a broad spectrum of political initiatives across net-zero, levelling up and building back better at the same time as demonstrating global leadership in the area of low carbon innovation that is essential to creating a more sustainable future for the generations to come.” 

The UK’s growing marine energy endeavours

This latest tidal turbine project isn’t a first for marine energy in the UK. The Port of London Authority permitted the River Thames to become a temporary home for trials into tidal energy technology and, more recently, a research project spanning the course of a year is set to focus on the potential tidal, wave, and floating wind technology holds for the future efficiency of renewable energy. The research is due to take place off of the Southwest coast of England on the Isles of Scilly

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