U.S. utility to cooperate with French on nuclear power
Electricite de France (EdF) and Exelon have signed a five-year agreement to cooperate on nuclear power matters. The memorandum of understanding covers managerial and technical matters such as outage management, fuel operations and equipment reliability. It specifically excludes “any joint venture or new build effort.”
EdF is the main electric utility in France and operates 58 nuclear reactors, while Exelon is the largest nuclear power operator in the United States.
Exelon’s 1,111 MW LaSalle GE Type 5 BWR
EdF has been making major efforts to be involved in the United States. With Exelon, it is a party in NuStart Energy, the first of the consortia formed in 2004 to tap Department of Energy funding in preparing applications for combined construction and operating licenses (COL) for new nuclear power plants. NuStart has filed two COL applications and Exelon plans to file one in its own name.
EdF is also closely involved with Constellation Energy as a 3 percent shareholder (set to increase to 9.9 percent) and as 50-50 partner with Constellation in Unistar Nuclear Energy, another consortium formed to pursue COL plans. Unistar is focused specifically on AREVA’s US-EPR technology and plans four COL applications.
Uranium activities increasing in the United States
There are indications that uranium mining in the United States could increase within the next few years in response to greater worldwide demand for commercial reactor fuel. The Los Angeles Times reported that 43,153 uranium claims were filed last year, a 10-fold increase compared to three years ago. Many new uranium claims are clustered in an area near the Grand Canyon, where U.S. Interior Department records show more than 1,100 claims within five miles of the national park. Only 10 claims existed in that area in 2003, according to the report.
Demand for uranium worldwide is increasing dramatically. Although no ground has been broken on building a new nuclear unit in the United States, nine license applications for as many as 15 possible new reactors have been filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) within the past year. Another seven to 11 license applications are expected to be filed this year. China plans to build two new nuclear plants a year for the next 16 years and new nuclear units are currently under construction in Western Europe, India, Russia and in various Asian locales. The United Kingdom appears close to building new nuclear capacity as well. And Brazil, one of the world’s fasting growing economies, plans to build four new reactors over the next 20 years. Brazil also ranks sixth in the world for uranium reserves.
Also driving the need for more nuclear fuel infrastructure is the closure of uranium mines in West Africa and Canada. World uranium prices have climbed from less than $10 a pound in 2002 to as high as $65 a pound this year. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration, the U.S. power industry purchased 67 million pounds of U3O8e (uranium oxide equivalent) from U.S. and foreign suppliers in 2006. The weighted-average price paid was $18.61 a pound, an increase of 30 percent compared with the 2005 price. About 16 percent of all uranium purchased was from the United States at an average price of $17.85 a pound. Foreign-origin uranium accounted for 56 million pounds (84 percent) at an average price of $18.75 a pound. In 2006, the U.S. power industry took delivery from 21 uranium suppliers. Ten percent of the uranium purchased was on the spot market and 90 percent was acquired though long-term contracts. The average long-term contract price for uranium purchased in that period was $16.38 a pound and $39.48 a pound on the spot market.
Commercial reactor fuel processing will also increase in the United States. AREVA announced it will build a new uranium enrichment plant in Idaho close to the Idaho National Lab. The French company is currently obtaining approvals from federal, state and local agencies, including a license from the NRC to construct and operate the facility.
The Idaho Falls plant will provide enrichment services to U.S. nuclear plant operators using advanced centrifuge technology developed by AREVA. Centrifuge technology has been deployed in Europe for more than 30 years and uses 50 times less electricity than gaseous diffusion, which was used across the nuclear power industry from the 1960s to the 1980s. AREVA is also building a new gas centrifuge enrichment facility in France.
Korea H&NP granted construction license
Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) has been granted a construction license for the first two APR-1400 reactors, Shin-Kori 3 and 4, near Busan, South Korea.
The company first sought a construction permit for the two units in September 2003. Under original plans, Shin-Kori 3 and 4 were to have begun operating around 2010. However, due to reported bureaucratic and political delays, project approval was slow. Construction was eventually approved by Yeong-joo Kim, minister of commerce, industry and energy, last September. The government of President Lee Myung-bak, who took power in February 2008, issued a construction license for the units in April.
KHNP placed an order for $1.2 billion worth of components for Shin-Kori 3 and 4 with Doosan Heavy Industries in August 2006. Doosan then contracted $300 million of the work to Westinghouse. In all, the units are expected to cost $5 billion. A consortium led by Hyundai will construct the power units. Overall project cost is $6.3 billion over seven years.
A ceremony marking the start of construction work was held at the Shin-Kori site in November. Excavation work started in January. First concrete for Shin-Kori 3 is scheduled to be poured in October, while concrete for Unit 4 will be poured a year later. Commercial operation is set for September 2013 and September 2014, respectively. KHNP plans to apply for operating licenses for the reactors in June 2011. The two new pressurized water reactors will produce 1,350 MWe each and should operate over design lives of 60 years.
KHNP owns all 20 of South Korea’s nuclear power reactors. It has held a licensee relationship with Westinghouse since the late 1980s when Westinghouse supplied the 945 MWe System 80 nuclear steam supply design for Yonggwang 3 and 4. After that, KHNP developed variants of System 80 for its own requirements under technology transfer terms.
China to help Pakistan build reactors
China and Pakistan plan to set up a corporation to build nuclear and coal-based power plants in Pakistan. Beijing also has agreed to expedite the delivery of six nuclear power plants of 300 MW each.
The decision to form the China-Pakistan Power Plant Corp. was made during President Pervez Musharraf’s visit to China in April. China also promised to help Pakistan achieve its target of generating 8,800 MW of nuclear power by 2030 by speeding up the delivery of six nuclear plants.
China earlier helped Pakistan set up the Chashma-1 and Chashma-2 nuclear power plants with a capacity of 300 MW each. Several joint working groups and studies are being undertaken by the two countries to speed up cooperation in different fields, particularly the energy sector.
At the same time, Pakistan is building a $1.2 billion facility to develop the capability to manufacture full-cycle nuclear fuel and power plants. The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission will set up the Pakistan Nuclear Power Fuel Complex with an aim to indigenously manufacture pressurized water reactors and nuclear power plants.
Earthquake protections delay new Japanese reactors
Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) said it would delay the startup of four new nuclear power reactors and Electric Power Development Co. said the start of construction of its Ohma plant had again been postponed.
Tepco said that the start of commercial operation of four new nuclear power plants would be postponed by one year due to the incorporation of new earthquake resistance assessments. The company said that Units 7 and 8 of the Fukushima Daiichi plant would now enter commercial operation in October 2014 and October 2015, respectively. Unit 1 of the Higashidori plant is now scheduled to begin operating in December 2015, while Unit 2 will start up in fiscal 2018 or later.
Fukushima Daiichi 4,696 MW nuclear station, Japan
Tepco’s Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata prefecture has been shut down since being damaged by a magnitude 6.8 earthquake on July 16, 2007. The company has since restarted decommissioned thermal plants to make up for the shortfall in nuclear generation. Tepco also said it will speed up construction of coal- and gas-fired power plants to avoid a supply shortfall due to new nuclear power units being delayed.
Meanwhile, J-Power filed a document with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) to delay the start of construction of the Ohma nuclear power plant to summer 2008, its second delay since last August. The company said that the most recent delay was due to prolonged seismic safety examination by the Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC).
Although the start of construction has now been delayed by some two years from the originally planned date, J-Power still aims to begin commercial operation of the plant in March 2012.
GE’s Andy White becomes WNA chairman
Andy White recently began his tenure as the chairman of the World Nuclear Association (WNA) after being elected by WNA members last year.
A General Electric (GE) corporate officer since 2002, White has 30 years of experience in the energy industry. He most recently headed GE Nuclear and oversaw the creation of its alliance with Hitachi’s nuclear business. White was recently appointed to head GE’s New Energy Ventures business unit.
White also serves on the board and executive committee of the United States’ Nuclear Energy Institute. He said his current GE role places him “at the center of a new initiative to meld GE’s diverse energy-related research and technology components into a single strategic vision.”
John Ritch, WNA’s director general, welcomed the appointment: “Andy White has a wealth of experience on the technical side of nuclear power. Equally importantly, Andy has lived and worked in Europe, Africa, Asia, Middle East and the Americas. He knows nuclear and he knows the world.”
“I am extremely impressed by the achievements of the World Nuclear Association and am honored to serve as its chairman,” said White. “As its capabilities continue to grow, I believe WNA can play an even stronger role in advancing the global nuclear renaissance, and I look forward with enthusiasm to helping make that happen.”
IEEE begins work on standard for investigating events at nuclear facilities
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) is working on a new standard, IEEE P1707, “Recommended Practice for the Investigation of Events at Nuclear Facilities.” When completed, the standard will provide common terminology and recommended practices for initiating and conducting event investigations, analyzing data, producing results and identifying corrective actions associated with facility personnel, processes, equipment and systems at nuclear facilities. The nuclear industry does not currently employ a common practice or approach to event investigations, which results in widely experienced terminology problems.
IEEE also is working on revisions to several earlier power-related standards. IEEE P622, “Recommended Practice for the Design and Installation of Electric Heat Tracing Systems for Nuclear Power Generating Systems,” updates the 1994 standard to reflect the current state of technology in the nuclear industry.
Also being updated to reflect current technologies and specifications are IEEE P18, “Standard for Shunt Power Capacitors” and IEEE PC57.19.03, “Standard Requirements, Terminology, and Test Code for Bushings for DC Applications Rated 110 kV BIL and Above.”
In addition, IEEE has also reaffirmed and/or approved revisions to several other nuclear power-related standards.
The IEEE Standards Association, a globally recognized standards-setting body, develops consensus standards through an open process that brings diverse parts of industry together. These standards set specifications and procedures based on current scientific and technological consensus. The IEEE-SA has a portfolio of over 870 active standards and more than 400 standards under development.
Fourth reactor sought at Finnish site
Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) has applied to build a fourth reactor at the Olkiluoto site on Finland’s west coast. The company has not yet chosen a reactor type.
TVO already operates two boiling water reactors at Olkiluoto. A pressurized water reactor is under construction.
As part of the application process, TVO has also submitted five alternative new-build plans to the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (Stuk). These are all based on the addition of a 1,000 MWe to 1,800 MWe reactor at one of two locations on the site, as had been analyzed in the project’s environmental impact assessment.
In 2003, TVO considered four options: pressurized water reactors from AtomStroyExport and AREVA as well as two different boiling water reactor designs from General Electric. It went on to select AREVA’s EPR design, which is now under construction and should operate in 2011.
UK regulators give initial OK to reactor designs
The UK’s nuclear regulators have given their initial approval to all four reactor designs proposed for the country’s next generation of nuclear power plants.
The Health & Safety Executive and the Environment Agency announced that the initial stage of the generic design assessment conducted on the four designs had found no shortfalls in terms of safety, security and the environment that would prevent any of them being licensed in the UK.
The four designs subject to the initial assessment were: Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.’s (AECL’s) 1,200 MWe ACR1000 pressurized heavy water reactor (PHWR); AREVA’s 1,600 MWe European Pressurized Water Reactor (EPR); General Electric-Hitachi’s (GEH’s) 1,550 MWe Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR); and Westinghouse’s 1,100 MWe AP1000 PWR.
The regulators’ findings were based on the claims made by the vendors of the designs, the basis of which will be assessed during subsequent stages of the design assessment. The vendors must now confirm to the regulators whether they are interested in continuing to the next stage of the design assessment process.
The UK government said in January that, if necessary, it would run a prioritization exercise to identify, in conjunction with reactor designers and operators, which of the four designs subject to the regulator’s initial assessment are most likely to progress for licensing and construction.
At the end of the design assessment process (expected to take more than three years to complete) the regulators will make statements setting out their conclusions about the acceptability of each of the designs. The regulators’ assessments of any subsequent specific site applications will take into account the design assessment work they have carried out and should take about a further year to complete.
Earlier this year, a White Paper on Nuclear Power put nuclear energy at the heart of the UK government’s response to the need for secure, safe, affordable, low-carbon energy supplies. The government invited energy companies to bring forward plans to build and operate new nuclear power plants.
MHI promotes European version of APWR
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) plans to launch a version of its Advanced Pressurized Water Reactor (APWR) specifically for the European market. The company held a seminar in Brussels to discuss the EU-APWR project with European utilities.
MHI said that the reactor design will meet the European utility requirements for light-water reactors, which have been developed by a group of 16 European electricity generators since the early 1990s. The requirements aim to harmonize the conditions of development and deployment of Generation III reactors in Europe. The requirements cover such areas as safety, security, performance, quality and design.
MHI’s EU-APWR is based on the 1,538 MWe APWR planned for Units 3 and 4 of Japan Atomic Power Co.’s Tsuruga nuclear power plant. However, the reactor will feature design changes that include a thermal efficiency of 39 percent, a 20 percent reduction in plant building volume, 24-month fuel cycle lengths and 1,700 MWe unit capacity.
At the Brussels seminar, MHI presented the results of a preliminary analysis of compliance of the APWR design with the European utility requirements (EUR). The meeting was attended by representatives from 13 utilities participating in the requirements process. MHI intends to solicit several EUR utilities to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the EU-APWR with the EUR requirements. The company plans to promote the EU-APWR to European utilities in parallel with the EUR compliance assessment.
In the United States, MHI submitted its application for a version of its APWR with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission last December. The NRC has subjected the application to an acceptance review for completeness and technical sufficiency. The U.S. version will also have a capacity of 1,700 MWe.
Regulators discover counterfeit parts in U.S. nuclear plants
Two nuclear operators in the United States discovered that they purchased counterfeit parts during 2007, according to safety regulators. None of the parts were used in safety-related systems.
The news, reported by the World Nuclear News (WNN), came in an information notice issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The NRC took the opportunity to remind all U.S. nuclear operatorsand possible future operatorsof their responsibility to prevent such occurrences.
“Nuclear power plants require high-quality components that meet rigorous standards,” said Bill Borchardt, director of the NRC’s Office of New Reactors, according to WNN. “As the industry prepares for possible new plants, we want both utilities and construction companies to ensure their suppliers are up to the job.”
The information notice details that in November 2007 the NRC became aware that the second reactor unit of the Hatch nuclear power plant had been using a counterfeit valve on the stator cooling water skidnot a safety-related system. This component had been in use for eight months when its counterfeit status was discovered, from which time its performance has been closely monitored. Hatch plans to replace the valve during the next refueling outage in spring 2009.
Three times during 2006 and 2007 the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced recalls of counterfeit ‘Square D’ circuit breakers which can fail to trip when overloaded. The NRC said this poses a fire hazard to consumers. The WNN reported that the parts were manufactured in China and unknowingly distributed in the United States between 2003 and 2006. Three U.S. nuclear power plants, Catawba, McGuire and Oconee, purchased Square D circuit breakers during the suspected time frame, NRC said. In addition, Catawba was unable to confirm the authenticity of four of its Square D units. None of these had been installed in safety-related systems and they were all removed from stock.
The NRC said these examples “demonstrate the need for licensees to remain vigilant and maintain effective quality assurance programs” and that “it remains the licensee’s responsibility to ensure that all suppliers use standards and processes that conform to U.S. standards.”
Russia plan calls for up to 42 reactors by 2020
Russia has released a plan for siting power plants up to 2020, including up to 42 new nuclear power reactors.
Implementing and monitoring the plan will be the responsibility of the Ministry of Industry and Energy, the Ministry of Economic Development and the Rosatom Corporation under the control of Sergei Kiriyenko. These bodies are to submit an annual progress report on the execution of the scheme to government.
Within three months, the same groups are to draft an action plan to attract investment in the Russian power industry.
The nuclear portion of the scheme sees one VVER-1000 pressurized water reactor and one RBMK-1000 reactor (Kursk 5) entering operation before 2010. In addition, the world’s first floating nuclear power plantthe Akademik Lomonosovwith two 35 MW KLT-40C reactors would be launched.
Currently, construction work is underway to complete Kalinin 4, while foundations are being laid for the first two new reactors at Novovoronezh Phase II, the Akademik Lomonosov is under construction at the Sevmash shipyard and plans are being finalized for Leningrad Phase II.
The speed of the planned nuclear build accelerates in the period between 2011 and 2015, when one VVER-1000, eight new VVER-1200 units and one BN-800 fast reactor are planned to start up.
From 2016 to 2020 between 15 and 20 VVER-1200s could be brought online, along with six new-design VBER-300 boiling water reactors. Two more floating plants are slated for completion during this time.
Constellation could break ground by year end on Maryland’s third reactor
Constellation Energy CEO Mayo Shattuck said in early May that it’s possible the company could break ground on a third nuclear reactor in southern Maryland by the end of this year.
Shattuck spoke after giving Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley a tour of the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant. O’Malley said he supports the expansion of nuclear energy in the state to help address a looming energy crunch.
There are still regulatory and financial hurdles to clear before a third reactor could be built.
Shattuck said he believes the U.S. Department of Energy will come out soon with a solicitation to help Constellation borrow money with a government-backed guarantee. If that happens later this year, Shattuck said the company could break ground by the end of the year.
Constellation expects that it would take eight to 10 years to build the third reactor.
Nigeria approves technical framework
Nigeria’s government has approved the technical framework for fast-tracking deployment of nuclear power plants. However, the country is said to lack the regulatory framework and trained workers needed for such a program.
Grace Ekpihwre, minister of Science and Technology, said the government has reaffirmed its determination to initiate implementation of its nuclear energy program by approving the technical framework. She said the plan for the nuclear power plant is to be implemented in three phases, including manpower and infrastructure development, power reactor design certification, regulatory and licensing approvals and construction and start-up.
Ekpihwre said introducing nuclear energy in Nigeria would be done under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) guidelines to ensure transparency and to assure the international community that the nuclear facility is deployed for peaceful purposes only.
To address rapidly increasing baseload electricity demand, Nigeria has sought the support of the IAEA to develop plans for up to 4,000 MWe of nuclear capacity by 2025. Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country. The current grid-supplied capacity is 2,600 MWe. In May 2007, Nigeria inaugurated two technical committees to construct the country’s first nuclear power plant.
AREVA expands fuel operations in Japan and United States
Aiming to expand its footprint in Japan, AREVA signed a memorandum of understanding with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (MHI) to establish a joint business organization for the supply of PWR, BWR, MOX and gas reactor fuels.
The scope of the cooperation agreement will focus on the Japanese market; however, according to the memorandum, both parties will discuss MHI’s potential investment in AREVA’s U.S. nuclear fuel fabrication facility.
AREVA’s expansion into the Japanese fuel industry includes $3.2 billion (€2 billion) worth of contracts from several Japanese utilities. The Paris-based company recently signed several orders to produce and process reactor fuel, Chief Executive Officer Anne Lauvergeon told reporters in Tokyo. The pacts will run for as long as 15 years, she said. Lauvergeon declined to name the clients.
Under the agreements, AREVA will provide uranium and offer services such as enrichment and conversion of ore into rods.
This announcement adds to past agreements made between Japanese power utilities and AREVA. Tokyo Electric Power Co. had shipped around 630 tons of used fuel to France between 1985 and 1993 to be recycled, according to the company’s Web site. The utility, with Kansai Electric Power Co. and Chubu Electric Power Co., are AREVA’s biggest customers in Japan.
AREVA, the world’s third-largest uranium producer, is competing with Toshiba Corp. and Hitachi Ltd. in Japan. It aims to increase its Japanese sales to 1 billion euros annually in 2010-2012 from about 600 million euros last year.
In the United States, Shaw AREVA MOX signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) implementing construction of the Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site in Aiken, S.C. Through this agreement, valued at nearly $2.7 billion, the DOE is exercising a construction option that was included in the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility contract signed in 1999. The agreement’s scope includes the actual construction of the main MOX facility and all support facilities; cold start-up of the MOX plant; and continued support of the NRC licensing activities associated with the project.
The facility will remove impurities from surplus weapon-grade plutonium and mix it with uranium oxide to form MOX fuel pellets for reactor fuel assemblies. The assemblies will then be used in commercial nuclear power reactors. The design of the 600,000 square foot facility is based on AREVA’s La Hague and Melox fuel treatment facilities in France.
Construction activities began on August 1, 2007 and continue to proceed on schedule. The MOX facility will be licensed for 20 years.
In another multi-million-dollar agreement with the DOE, AREVA Federal Services (AFS) will continue with development and licensing of the Transportation, Aging and Dispoal (TAD) canister-based system.
The TAD canister is the centerpiece of the DOE’s strategy for packaging used nuclear fuel for transportation to and disposal in the proposed repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev.
AFS, together with AREVA subsidiary Transnuclear Inc., will perform the final design, prepare and file a license application to the NRC, obtain NRC certification and demonstrate the TAD at a U.S. utility.
AREVA is the world’s third-biggest uranium producer, with mines in Niger, Australia and Canada. Uranium prices climbed to a record $138 a pound last year on increased global demand for nuclear energy.
Indonesia plans 3,600 MW of nuclear by 2025
The Indonesian government plans to build four nuclear power plants by 2025 to meet electricity demand. “If one nuclear power plant can produce 1,200 MW of electricity, we need four plants by 2025 to meet our demand,” State Minister for Research and Technology Kusmayanto Kadiman was quoted as saying.
The government plans to build the first nuclear power plant on the slope of Mt. Muria in Jepara, Central Java. The plant is expected to be operational in 2016 despite opposition from local residents and environment activists.
Indonesia currently has three nuclear reactors for scientific purposes dispersed on Java Island.
Toshiba in venture with Russian state firm
Toshiba Corp. is in an alliance with Russia’s state-owned Atomic Energy Power Corp. in civilian nuclear power operations, including power plant construction and fuel production.
The Russian firm, dubbed Atomenergoprom, will enrich uranium produced in Kazakhstan, while Toshiba will undertake nuclear fuel production and the designing and engineering of nuclear power plants.
The two firms will conduct similar studies on cooperation in manufacturing and maintenance of large nuclear power equipment and in the civilian nuclear fuel cycle business, including uranium mining and enrichment. A strategic partnership may be established in the future, Toshiba said.
By securing a stable supply of nuclear fuel through the alliance with Atomenergoprom, Toshiba hopes to sharpen its competitive edge, its officials said. The Japanese firm faces heated rivalry in the United States to win orders to build nuclear power plants.
Edison talks of 10 plants in anti-nuclear Italy
Umberto Quadrino, CEO of Italian utility Edison, said it would take at least 10 years to construct a nuclear power plant in Italy if the country ends its moratorium on nuclear energy. Speaking to La Stampa newspaper, he said, “If we start discussing seriously immediately, we can have the first operating plant in 2019.” Reintroducing nuclear energy in Italy would require a “strong political leadership and a bipartisan consensus.”
Quadrino also told La Repubblica newspaper that Edison wants to build as many as 10 nuclear power plants at a cost of $63 billion (€40 billion). He said that Edison would not seek state aid to construct new plants as it would raise funds from investors. A referendum held in 1987 banned the use of nuclear energy in Italy.
Russian uranium production rose in 2007
AtomRedMetZoloto (ARMZ), a unit of Russian state corporation AtomEnergoProm, reported that uranium production by companies it manages totaled 3,413 tonnes in 2007. This was a 7 percent increase from the 3,190 tonnes produced in 2006.
Most of the uranium (3,307 tonnes) was mined by Priargun Mining Chemical Combine in the Zabaikalye region. The Dalur company in the Kurgan region mined 350 tonnes and the Khiagda company in the Buriatia region mined 26 tonnes. ARMZ plans to produce 3,880 tonnes in 2008. Of its two Kazakh-based uranium joint venture companies, Zarechny and Aqbastau, only the Zarechny operation produced uranium in 2007. The joint venture produced 114 tonnes in 2007 and plans to produce 300 tonnes in 2008.
The company plans to invest 9.5 billion roubles ($400 million) in production during 2008. ARMZ said it aims to triple its uranium output in Russia and Kazakhstan to over 10,000 tonnes by 2015.
Russia to compete for Egyptian plant
Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak signed a deal in Moscow allowing Russia to compete for a $1.5 to $2 billion tender to build his country’s first nuclear power plant. The agreement was especially sensitive because Moscow hoped to trade its nuclear expertise for a chance to revive arms contracts with Cairo, Russian newspapers said. Russia is now expected to compete with China and Kazakhstan to participate in Cairo’s plans to build eight nuclear reactors starting with one in al-Dabaa, on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast.
A delicate point for Russia in the agreement is Egypt’s push to control the full cycle of nuclear production, including uranium enrichment, which can be refined for nuclear weapons. Mubarak was believed to have promised close cooperation with international nuclear watchdogs, but details of the agreement were not immediately disclosed.
Japan plans advanced nuclear to trim emissions
A Japanese plan to cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2050 has concluded that advanced nuclear power could contribute 12 percent to that aim.
A committee established by the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry (Meti) developed the plan, called Cool Earth 50, following a May 2007 announcement by then prime minister Shinzo Abe. The plan relies on the development of technologies to reduce global emissions by 40 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-eq) each year by 2050.
Cool Earth 50 includes a roadmap giving priority to 21 technologies with potential to contribute to emissions cuts in sectors including power generation and transmission, industry, household and transportation. In the power generation and transmission sectors, advanced nuclear power was selected along with innovative solar, high-efficiency natural gas, high-efficiency coal, carbon capture and storage and superconducting power transmission.
The committee’s analysis showed that advanced nuclear power could cut global emissions by 12 percent, some 9.6 billion tons of CO2-eq each year. High-efficiency coal and gas, combined with carbon capture and storage could contribute another 12 percent and innovative solar could add 7 percent. Meti said it intends to present the plan widely to decision-makers in energy policy and climate change.
Atoms in Japan reported that the committee said nuclear power would provide the electricity required for stable economic growth while cutting emissions at the same time. It added that new reactors developed from today’s mainstream light-water models should be in operation by 2050, with further refined safety, economy and reliability.
Abe’s original announcement of the project placed nuclear power as an element in Japan’s long-term strategy. He said when announcing Cool Earth 50: “We will also enhance the reliability and safety of nuclear energy, and develop advanced nuclear power generation technologies, such as high-temperature gas-cooled reactors and small reactors, so that safe and peaceful use of nuclear power will be expanded.”
It is a longstanding goal of Japanese planners to use nuclear energy as the backbone of electricity supply and begin using fast reactors from around 2040. The committee said that Japan should continue to cooperate internationally in their development so that international standards could be developed for advanced nuclear reactors.
Contract signed for Leningrad II construction
St Petersburg-based AtomEnergoProekt has signed a 136 billion rouble ($5.8 billion) state contract for the construction of two new nuclear units at Phase II of the Leningrad nuclear power plant. Anatoly Molchanov, first deputy director general-technical director of AtomEnergoProekt, said that Leningrad II can be thought of as analogous in design to China’s Tianwan nuclear power plant, which was designed by AtomEnergoProekt and comprises two VVER 1000 pressurized water reactors.
China’s Tianwan nuclear power plant was designed by AtomEnergoProekt and comprises two VVER 1000 pressurized water reactors.
The Leningrad plant is currently home to four operating 1,000 MWe RBMK reactors, all nearing the end of their operating lives. A construction contract for Leningrad Phase II was signed with AtomEnergoProekt in August 2007 and site licenses granted in September 2007. First concrete is scheduled for October 2008, with the first 1,170 MWe reactor scheduled for commissioning in October 2013 and the second a year later.
Westinghouse Wins Ukraine Fuel Supply Deal
Westinghouse will supply 630 nuclear fuel assemblies to three of the VVER pressurized water reactors at the South Ukraine nuclear power plant (two VVER-440s and one VVER-1000). Until now virtually all nuclear fuel has been supplied by Russia’s TVEL.
In 2000, a financial award was granted by the U.S. government as part of a United States/Ukrainian initiative to reduce Ukraine’s dependency on Russia for fuel. In 2005, the initiative led to six Westinghouse fuel assemblies being introduced to a South Ukraine reactor on an experimental basis. In 2009, 42 more will be added.
The new contract includes special terms to protect both the supplier and the buyer, national electricity utility Energoatom. Should Energoatom fail to gain regulatory approval to use Westinghouse fuel assemblies on a large scale, the American firm could terminate the contract with no penalty. On the other hand, if Westinghouse failed to meet technical standards, Energoatom could cancel.
In reaction to the announcement, Russia’s Rosatom released a series of expert comments which denounced the move. The various dignitaries agreed the contract was technically dubious and could be a negotiation tool during talks between Energoatom and TVEL for the remainder of nuclear fuel supplies. Furthermore they linked it to Ukraine’s relationship with the European Union and its desire to join the Nato defense pact.