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11.04.2017

Westinghouse Electric: the collapse of the US nuclear dream

A recent report of the American company Westinghouse Electric the beginning of its bankruptcy proceedings was the first evidence of significant changes in the global energy markets with the new US administration. These changes promise to severe shocks, not only economic, but also geopolitical.

To evaluate the Westinghouse Electric bankruptcy importance in the world of energy, it is worth recalling that the progenitor of this company Westinghouse Electric Corporation Corporation was founded back in the year 1886. Westinghousepostroila the world's first nuclear reactor 60 years ago, and currently produces about 10% of all electricity in the world. Under the slogan «Westinghouse brings to life the best" work about 12 19 thousand people in the country. In Europe, the Middle East and Africa, power units and Westinghouse technology is used by more than half of operating nuclear power plants there.

In Europe today, the interests of the American company focused primarily in Belgium, Finland, France, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK. With particular interest "for the future" uWestinghouse available in respect of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, as well as Ukraine, where the company plans to not only the supply of nuclear fuel for nuclear power plants, but also the construction of new nuclear power plants. In addition, Westinghouse Electric is now building four nuclear reactors in the United States.

However, all this - face "of American nuclear dreams." On the reverse side - serious financial problems, which have to pay for the risks of expansionism. As of 2016 years overdue liabilities amounted 9,8 billion dollars. And most importantly, the "mother" kompanieyWestinghouse is the Japanese giant Toshiba, whose business attraction and already undermined by a string of corruption scandals in the country. Toshiba Corporation's Board of Directors has approved the filing of the bankruptcy of its US division in the face of Westinghouse.

The intensification of the contradictions between the US and Japan is the first serious consequence of the bankruptcy of Westinghouse. After all for the Japanese company it is a question of a serious image and business blow. The general director of Toshiba Satoshi Tsunukava has already stated that for them it is "actually a rejection of foreign nuclear business". And Tom Fanning, CEO of Southern Co. (Atlanta), which owns two of the four reactors in the US, being built by Westinghouse, sarcastically noted that its bankruptcy was "an excellent test" of the promises to create jobs in the US, voiced by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Donald Trump at the summit in February. Now, Fanning says, the creation of 5 thousand jobs at two reactors in Georgia is at stake. And these jobs can be lost if Toshiba does not incur expenses on the debts of its "bankrupt subsidiary". According to Fanning, the bankruptcy of Westinghouse can have consequences for US national security.

Toshiba's leadership, for its part, is not eager to pay Westinghouse accounts. Toshiba's own losses ended the fiscal year have already made 9 billion dollars, of which 6 billion dollars - an increase of US projects. In the US "stuck" two more reactors that Westinghouse is building in South Carolina for the company's Southern and Scana Corp. The latter has already said it could finance the continuation of the construction of reactors for a month, and then prepared to take the issue to the level of the United States and Japan bilateral relations.

An even more important aspect of the collapse of Westinghouse, than the growth of tension in US-Japan relations, it is the impending restructuring of the European energy market. And the biggest loser here could be Ukraine.

In the 2014 year Kiev and Westinghouse agreed to supply nuclear fuel to the US some units Ukrainian nuclear power plants; Then, in August, 2016 years, took place between them an agreement to increase the supply and construction of a plant for the production of fuel in Ukraine. Ukrainian project, supported by Baraka Obamy administration and the alleged including "squeezing" with "Rosatom" of Ukraine, was supposed to be the most ambitious project Westinghouse.

Kiev preferred to close its eyes to the problems with nuclear safety accompanying Westinghouse projects, and in particular to the periodically occurring depressurization of fuel elements (TVEL). Even before the coup, in the 2012 year, the leadership of the nuclear industry of Ukraine banned the use of Westinghouse fuel assemblies until the investigation of the incidents involving TVELs of American manufacture was completed. During the investigation it was found out that these violations are caused by constructive shortcomings. However, after the coup in February 2014, the claims to the American company were forgotten. Moreover, the head of the government Arseniy Yatsenyuk personally consulted with representatives of Westinghouse about personnel appointments in the departments dealing with security issues of the Ukrainian nuclear industry, so that they would not interfere with joint projects with the Americans.

And now Westinghouse - bankrupt. At the same time severe financial problems experienced Ukrainian company "Energoatom", which is the operator of all four Ukrainian NPPs. According to February this year, the share of nuclear power generation reached 62% in the total energy mix, including due to the crisis with coal supplies from the Donbas. A so-called utilization factor NPP installed capacity exceeded 91% (very strong evidence of nuclear power load).

Problems with using supplied by Westinghouse nuclear fuel were a few years ago and "Temelin" Czech nuclear power plants. The Czech government has even decided to refuse the services of the provider, but the "Euro-Atlantic solidarity" (let's call it that) was stronger than considerations of nuclear safety, cooperation and soon resumed.

It is known that the plan Westinghouse was to establish control over nuclear energy across Central and Eastern Europe. Projects in Slovenia and the Czech Republic were the springboard for the subsequent "jump" in the Republic of Bulgaria and the former Yugoslavia. And now it turns out that Baraka Obamy administration has provided the Westinghouse financial support under its geopolitical projects, and the new administration, it seems, is going to leave "American nuclear dream" without a livelihood.

And one more demonstrative argument. Posts bankruptcy kompaniiWestinghouse received simultaneously with information about the progress of the project, implemented through the "Rosatom". In particular, the Russian company has announced its intention to form a group of international investors on the construction of "Akkuyu" NPP in Turkey, which can enter the Turkish, Russian and Arab companies.

In the current situation in Central and Eastern Europe should rethink its policy in the field of energy security. NaWestinghouse rate, as can be seen, was not justified.

A source: Strategic Culture Foundation

Author: Peter ISKENDEROV

Tags: Japan, the United States, nuclear power, nuclear power, Economy, Research, Ukraine,