Nuclear generation sees another drop

Issue 2 and Volume 3.

According to the latest estimates, generation of nuclear power annually has continued on a downward pattern, decreasing 2 percent last year to 2,558 TWh. The International Atomic Energy Agency’s estimations see last year’s nuclear power meeting 13 to 14 percent of the world’s electricity demand, with some data not in.

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A view of the memorial plaza at the Vienna International Centre. (Vienna, Austria, 18 Sept 2000).
Photo, Dean Calma/IAEA.

The shutdown of large reactors at the largest nuclear power plant in the world, Kashiwazaki Kariwa in Japan, is one of the key factors in nuclear power performance since 2007. The plant accounts for 2 percent of nuclear capacity and was out of service for months after the Niigata-Chuetsu-Oki earthquake. In 2009, two reactors came in service with five still being repaired.

2009 also saw the shutdown of four reactors. France’s Phenix, which produced 233 MWe, was closed. Lithuania’s Ignalina 2, which produced 1,185 MWe, has been closed as a condition of EU entry. A total of 4,806 MWe have been taken away since 2002 due to EU-motivated shutdowns.

Two reactors at Japan’s Hamaoka plant that had been out of service for several years were officially retired rather than upgrading to meet earthquake resistance requirements. The withdrawal of these two reactors took 515 MWe and 860 MWe from worldwide nuclear capacity.

The Tomari 3 in Japan and Rajasthan 5 in India were the two new reactors added in 2009. Both were too late to affect 2009 figures since they were not connected until December. They added 866 MWe and 202 MWe.

This year, Canada’s Bruce A 1 and 2 should return to service and bring back 1,538 MWe of capacity. Rajasthan 6 has added 202 MWe and this year should see 7 new reactors totaling 5,824 MWe.




UAE picks Braka for first nuclear site


The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) said Braka was selected from a list of 10 potential sites for UAE’s first nuclear power plant. Braka was selected on the basis of its environmental, technical and business qualities.

The Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) has received two requests. One request is for a site preparation license for the four-reactor power plant to allow ENEC to conduct non-safety related groundwork such as constructing breakwaters and a jetty. The other request is for a limited license to “manufacture and assemble nuclear safety related equipment.” The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi has also received a strategic assessment addressing environmental impacts.

Braka 1 is scheduled to see the first concrete poured in late 2012. ENEC has asked the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation to approve the limited license by July 5 to achieve this construction start date.

The Braka 1 site is scheduled to begin operation in 2017.




Bangladesh approves deal to build Russian nuclear reactor


Bangladesh has given approval for a deal with Russia to build a 1,000 MW nuclear power plant.

The approval was accorded at a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Hasina’s press secretary Abul Kalam Azad, told Reuters. He did not say when the deal would be signed.

Bangladesh plans to set up the nuclear power plants at Rooppur, 200 km (125 miles) northwest of the capital Dhaka, to help deal with growing power shortages.

The plant is expected to cost up to $2 billion and to begin generating electricity by 2014, the ministry of power, energy and mineral resources said. Growing concern over power shortages led Bangladesh to consider nuclear as natural gas reserves are fast depleting and most coalfields remain unexploited.

The country has nearly 60 power plants, mostly decades old and all fueled by gas and coal. A power official said the country of 150 million experiences daily power shortfalls of 2,000 MW. Peak-hour demand stands at about 5,500 MW.




14 years after accident, Japan reactor reopens


The May 5 removal of control rods marked the first time the fast-breeder 246 MW Monju reactor in Tsuruga, Japan has been used since 1995. After getting government approval, the plutonium-fueled reactor is expected to continue test runs before entering full operation in 2013.

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Japan’s Monju prototype nuclear reactor in Tsuruga. Photo, Kyodo News.

The initial start-up of Monju in 1995 lasted four months. The reactor was shut down on Dec. 8 when more than a ton of liquid sodium leaked from a secondary cooling system. No radioactivity escaped and no one was hurt, but Monju’s operators came under scrutiny for concealing videotape that showed extensive damage.

Opposition said the fast-breeder nuclear generation is too expensive and unsafe due to the dangers associated with handling plutonium.

Around 35 percent of Japan’s electricity is supplied by the country’s 55 nuclear reactors. The government wants to see output raised to 40 percent by 2020 with the addition of about a dozen more plants.

Japan hopes to have the Monju reactor in commercial use until around 2050.




Toshiba, IHI to create nuclear steam turbine joint venture


Toshiba and IHI reached a basic agreement to launch a joint venture to manufacture steam turbine components for nuclear power generating plants in Japan and overseas.

The Japanese companies said the joint venture is scheduled to be launched in Yokohama near Tokyo in October, reported the Wall Street Journal. It will manufacture components including casing and nozzles for nuclear steam turbines. Details such as each other’s stake ratio haven’t been determined.

The move underscores how Toshiba and IHI are stepping up efforts to win the competition for nuclear power plant orders. The two companies have already formed a close relationship in such fields as construction of boiling water reactor-type nuclear power plants.

Toshiba, along with its US unit Westinghouse, expect to receive orders for 39 nuclear power plants worldwide through 2015.  IHI also holds a 3 percent stake in Westinghouse.




Nuclear power plant to cost more, startup delayed


Progress Energy Inc. increased the estimated cost of its proposed 2,200 MW Levy nuclear power plant in Florida and delayed its start-up until 2021 due to a delay in licensing the reactors, uncertainty about federal and state energy policies and a recent credit rating downgrade of Progress Energy Florida. The company estimates the project could cost up to $22.5 billion, up from its previous estimate of $17.2 billion. The first reactor is now expected to enter service in 2021 and the second 18 months later. Progress originally estimated the first unit to enter service in 2016 but pushed that date back a year ago. Progress also expects to receive its combined operating license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in late 2012. The company expected to get the license in 2011 but received requests for additional information.




Construction moving along at nuclear plant in Hainan Province


Construction on the first unit of the Changjiang power plant, on China’s island province Hainan, officially began April 25.

The Changjiang plant is being built as a joint venture between the China National Nuclear Corp. and China Huaneng Group. Four 650 MWe CNP-600 pressurized water reactors will make up the plant and will be constructed in two phases.

Construction of the Changjiang plant was originally approved in 2008 by China’s National Developmental and Reform Commission. The first reactor is scheduled to be operational by 2014 and the second reactor should be online the following year. The total cost of the project is estimated at 19 billion yuan ($2.8 billion).




Russia to build nuclear plant in Turkey


Russia will build Turkey’s first nuclear power plant at Akkuyu on the Mediterranean coast. The $20 billion dollar project will take about seven years to complete after both parliaments ratify the agreement.

The plant will house four reactors reaching total capacity of 4,800 MW. The deal is one of about 20 agreements the two countries signed that are expected to generate about $25 billion of investment.

Akkuyu will be the first Russian-owned plant outside of the country. Russia is one of Turkey’s top commercial partners with $22.9 billion of trade volume in 2009. Russia also supplies about 60 percent of Turkey’s gas imports.


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