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China signs engineering contracts for Westinghouse AP1000-derived CAP1400 reactor

Issue 1 and Volume 4.

Engineering framework contracts for construction of the first Chinese AP1400 reactor, a 1,400 MW passively-safe reactor developed from the Westinghouse AP1000, have been signed.

State Nuclear Power Technology Corp. (SNPTC) and Westinghouse signed a package of agreements in Beijing. Westinghouse will provide SNPTC with technical consulting services in research and development of CAP1400 nuclear power plant. CAP1400 is intended to be a nuclear technology developed by SNPTC with Chinese intellectual property rights.

Under contracts agreed for the construction of the four AP1000s at Sanmem and Haiyang, Westinghouse agreed to transfer the technology for the reactor to SNPTC, enabling China to develop a fleet of the reactors itself. Agreements for cooperation on the larger AP1400 have followed.

The agreements signed include Business Development Framework Agreement for Large Passive Pressurized Water Reactor Nuclear Power Plant, Technical Consulting Service Agreement for CAP1400 and Consulting Service agreement for Conceptual Design of CAP1400. As scheduled, CAP1400 will have first concrete poured in April 2013 and start commercial operation in December 2017.

All four steam generators installed at Olkiluoto 3

All four steam generators have been successfully installed in the reactor building at Olkiluoto 3 in Finland. Between mid-November 2010 and Jan. 31, 2011, the four 550-ton components were moved into place.

Olkiluoto 3 in Finland. Photo courtesy Areva

Each steam generator was lifted to a height of 19.5 m in the fuel building then introduced horizontally into the reactor building. They then were tilted upright and lowered into final position. A total of 40 people worked for three days to install each one.

The installation of the whole primary circuit will be completed in spring of this year after the introduction of the reactor pressure vessel internals and the installation of reactor coolant pumps.

Nuclear power plant owners face decommissioning procedure changes

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved a final rule designed to prevent future legacy sites where owners cannot complete nuclear power plant decommissioning because of technical or financial reasons.

The rule will require licensees to minimize introducing residual radioactivity at their sites during operations. It also would require licensees to keep survey records of residual radioactivity, including in the subsurface soil and groundwater, with records important for decommissioning. The NRC rule will also require certain licensees to report additional details in their decommissioning cost estimates and amend some financial assurance mechanisms for decommissioning and planning.

The NRC said the high costs of disposing radioactive material offsite may lead licensees to store more waste onsite. It said this could increase the potential for subsurface radioactive contamination and higher decommissioning costs.

Licensees are currently required to perform surveys to verify that radioactive effluent releases are below regulatory requirements and do not pose public health hazards. However, the NRC said it believes existing regulations are not clear enough regarding subsurface contamination and require interpretation to apply to long-term environmental conditions. The regulatory body said surveys have rarely been performed to assess the radiological hazard of chronic releases and subsurface contamination because these are not considered effluent releases and do notcause immediate exposure to workers or to the public that approaches regulatory limits.

The final rule will also require more detailed reporting by licensees and will tighten NRC control over certain financial instruments set aside to cover eventual decommissioning costs.

The new regulations will take effect 18 months following publication in the Federal Register.

Alstom wins $453m contract for French nuclear fleet upgrades

Alstom has secured orders worth EUR340m ($453m) to rehabilitate and maintain a part of EDF’s nuclear fleet in France.

Under the terms and conditions of the contracts, Alstom will supply stators for 900 MW and 1,300 MW generators, rotors for 900 MW generators and lines of rotors for 900 MW steam turbines.

Alstom has designed and manufactured all the conventional islands installed in France’s nuclear power plants today, all owned and run by EDF and representing 64 per cent of the country’s installed base.

The two companies work closely together on the regular maintenance and upgrades of the equipment. This contract is part of EDF’s strategy to renovate its nuclear fleet and follows the framework agreement signed by Alstom with EDF in 2008 to renovate the generators in EDF’s nuclear power plants.

NB Power seeks nuclear plant license extension 

NB Power is seeking a one-year license extension to operate the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station amid criticism over the Canadian reactor’s refurbishment delays, CBC News reported.

Utility officials appeared before the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission in Ottawa on Jan. 19 requesting a renewal for a license that is set to expire this summer. The regulatory body is expected to take six weeks to render its decision on the nuclear power plant license renewal.

Normally, NB Power requests a five-year license, but because the nuclear refurbishment project is expected to be completed next year, the extension to June 2012 is being sought.

The $1.4 billion refurbishment project is three years and roughly $1 billion over budget.

Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. and NB Power were supposed to have Atlantic Canada’s only nuclear reactor back producing power in 2009. It is now expected that Point Lepreau will be generating power again in the fall of 2012.

France calls on EDF, Areva to develop 1,100 MW Atmea reactor

France has called upon state-owned nuclear firms Areva and EDF to concentrate on developing the mid-sized 1,100 MW Atmea nuclear reactor to expand its export offerings.

According to the Financial Times, President Nicolas Sarkozy’s nuclear policy council, set up in 2008 to review the French nuclear industry, wants France to forge partnerships with China and to boost the development the new medium-sized reactor to expand France’s nuclear export offerings. These currently hinge on its large new generation European Pressurized Reactors, which have a capacity of 1,600 MW.

Paris has instructed the French Atomic Energy Commission, responsible for researching nuclear power technology, to “conduct negotiations with the Chinese authorities for a global partnership between France and China, covering all civilian nuclear activities, including security.”

Areva is already developing the medium-sized 1,100 MW Atmea reactor with its Japanese partner Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The government confirmed it is studying the construction of a new Atmea reactor.

UK to get new nuclear regulator April 1

The United Kingdom is to create a new nuclear regulator, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), which will replace the Health and Safety Executive’s Nuclear Directorate on April 1.

In a statement, the UK government said the ONR would be a new independent regulator, formally responsible in law for delivering its regulatory functions. The creation of the ONR would consolidate civil nuclear and radioactive transport safety and security regulation in one place.

The ONR will take on the relevant functions currently carried out by the Health and Safety Executive and the Department for Transport, it said.

Bangladesh, Russia sign deal for 2 GW nuclear power plant

Bangladesh has signed a deal with Russia to set up the country’s first nuclear power plant to generate 2 GW of electricity.

According to Reuters, two reactors, each with a capacity of 1,000 MW, will be built at Rooppur at a cost of around $2 billion, with completion expected by 2017-2018.

Russian state company Rosatom will supply fuel for the reactors, process spent fuel and subsequently help decommission the plant, the officials said. Bangladesh has turned to nuclear to deal with power shortages that often stir public anger and are widely cited as a barrier to foreign investment in the impoverished country.

The country faces a shortfall of 2 GW, resulting in frequent power cuts and economic losses estimated at nearly $1 billion a year.

Westinghouse enters small modular nuclear reactor market

Westinghouse Electric Co. introduced a 200 MWe integral pressurized water reactor, its entry into small modular reactors.

Westinghouse said it also is actively working to prepare for the upcoming U.S. Department of Energy SMR program and aims to be the leading industry collaborator with the government.

Westinghouse said its small modular reactor leverages lessons learned from its AP1000 plant design, currently under construction in China.

Iberdrola completes $600m upgrade

Iberdrola Ingenieria completed modernization work on the Laguna Verde nuclear power plant in Mexico following the conclusion of the fourth and last slated fuel recharge and synchronization of both units to the grid.

Laguna Verde Nuclear Generating Station. Photo courtesy Alstom.

The modernization program increased the two unit power plant’s thermal power by 20 percent. The capacity of each unit now stands at 820 MW.

The upgrade began in 2007 and extends the plant’s operating life to 40 years. Iberdrola Ingenieria operates the plant along with Alstom Mexicana and secured the contract to undertake this project in early 2007. The project cost more than $600 million.

Terms of the contract included design, engineering, supply of equipment and materials, installation, assembly and testing for the power uprate at units 1 and 2.

Transport license issued for 16 decommissioned steam generators

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has announced its decision to issue a transport license and certificate to Bruce Power for the transport of 16 decommissioned steam generators to Sweden for recycling. The license will be valid for a period of one year from February 4, 2011 until February 3, 2012.

The Commission considered information presented at a public hearing held on September 28 and 29, 2010 in Ottawa, Ontario. During the hearing, the Commission received and considered CNSC staff recommendations and submissions from Bruce Power and 77 interveners. Following the hearing, the Commission requested additional information and allowed additional time for supplementary written submissions from hearing participants. CNSC staff’s supplementary submission was received on October 18, 2010 and 32 supplementary participant submissions were received by the November 22, 2010 deadline.

The Commission is satisfied that Bruce Power’s application meets the international regulations of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Canadian requirements of the Packaging and Transport of Nuclear Substances Regulations for a special arrangement.

The Commission said that the risk to the health and safety of the public and the environment posed by the proposed activity is negligible and that Bruce Power is qualified to carry out the activities to be permitted under the license and certificate, and that Bruce Power will make adequate provisions to protect the environment, the health and safety of persons, and to maintain national security and measures required to implement Canada’s international obligations.

Hearings began in March to determine the fate of the shipment. Two groups filed a motion to have the shipments stopped.

Monticello NPP to receive uprate

Xcel Energy’s Monticello nuclear power plant has shut down while a power uprate and refueling are performed at the plant. Xcel hired Bechtel to perform the work at the Monticello and Prairie Island nuclear power plants.

The Monticello nuclear power plant will generate 671 MW when the project is complete. Photo courtesy Xcel Energy

Improvements are expected to cost $133 million and will boost generating capacity from 600 MW to 671 MW. Xcel also plans to build a $12.5 million security access facility to meet U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulations and spend nearly $8 million to install wiring and equipment to meet federal fire-protection regulations.

Xcel is also planning on increasing generation at Prairie Island to 1,260 MW.

$275 million EPC contract awarded for V.C. Summer project

SCANA Corp. has awarded Pike Electric Corp. a $275 million engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contract for approximately 250 miles of new 230kV transmission lines associated with the expansion of the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in South Carolina.

The V.C. Summer nuclear station in South Carolina. Photo courtesy Scana.

The lines will support the two nuclear power units being added by South Carolina Electric & Gas Company, principal subsidiary of SCANA Corp., and the South Carolina Public Service Authority (Santee Cooper), a state-owned electric and water utility in South Carolina.

The new units, V.C. Summer 2 and 3, are scheduled for completion in 2016 and 2019.

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