Coal, Nuclear, Reactors

Understanding the Future of Nuclear after Fukushima

Issue 5 and Volume 5.

A detailed look at the markets in India and Asia

By Brian Wheeler, Editor

The development of nuclear power plants globally may not be progressing as quickly as some expected, but construction of new projects is advancing. In India and Asia, the nuclear power industry is expanding at a rapid pace. Whether the focus is on new build, research and development or the exportation of indigenous technology, this region of the world is leading the global nuclear power movement. Even after the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, countires such as India, South Korea and China are fueling the growth of nuclear power in Asia.

According to a joint report from the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency and the International Atomic Energy Agency, the East Asia region is projected to experience the largest increase in the world. The joint report said new nuclear installations between 100 GWe and 150 GWe of capacity could take place by 2035, representing increases of 125 percent to more than 185 percent.

China Leads the Way

The electric power industry in China continued to grow in 2010 with total installed capacity reaching 962 GW, an increase of 88 GW from 2009. As some countries eliminate the possibility of new nuclear, China continues construction and is planning one of the most aggressive nuclear power programs globally to keep up with demand.

“The Chinese government and China’s nuclear industry have shown a huge commitment to nuclear energy,” said Kevin Carrabine, business development manager for Exelon Nuclear Partners. Exelon is helping the Chinese design and implement protocols to ensure nuclear plants reach their maximum potential in the near and long term, maximizing return on investment and realizing the greatest value from their nuclear development programs, Carrabine said.

“The U.S. has a well-established nuclear fleet and power market, while in China the growing demand for power and the rising costs of pollution require quick action to develop nuclear power as a viable option to augment and replace existing power infrastructure,” he said.

At present, nuclear power accounts for about 1 percent of China’s electricity. Coal, by contrast, accounts for almost 80 percent of power generation. To reduce emissions, almost 30 nuclear power construction projects are underway to increase nuclear power’s capacity from the current 11.9 GW to as much as 80 GW by 2020. But that could be pushed back to 2030.

After Fukushima, the Chinese government declared a temporary moratorium related to initiating the construction of new reactors. Ongoing projects were not impacted by this decision and work continued. The China Nuclear Energy Association in August said safety inspectors and senior officials from the National Nuclear Safety Administration, the National Energy Board, the China Seismological Bureau and the Academy of Sciences had completed a tour and examination of all existing reactors. The China Nuclear Energy Association said orders for relevant nuclear power equipment corporations will pick up while the currently suspended projects resume.

“The planned magnitude is the same,” said Cameron. “The timing is now longer than planned.”

Lessons learned from the events at Fukushima Daiichi will be used to develop safety enhancement measures for safeguarding against extreme natural disasters and strengthening emergency preparedness, particularly for flooding.

China’s plan to stay on track with its ambitious goals is evident with the Aug. 7, 2011 announcement that Ling Ao Unit 4 entered commercial operations after 168 hours of testing. The Ling Ao II unit raises the number of operating reactors in China to 15 at three sites.

Twenty-six reactors are now under construction, according to Westinghouse, equaling a combined capacity of about 29 GW.

Westinghouse and its Chinese partners are building four 1,154 MWe AP1000 reactors in China; two at the Sanmen site in Zhejiang province and two at the Haiyang site in Shandong province. For the first two units, Westinghouse will provide the nuclear island’s major components, instrumentation and controls and other facets that attach to the nuclear steam supply systems. For the second units, Sanmen 2 and Haiyang 2, the Chinese operators will take over that scope.

Construction continues on the Areva EPR project at Taishan, shown in this June 2012 picture. Photo courtesy of Areva.
Construction continues on the Areva EPR project at Taishan, shown in this June 2012 picture. Photo courtesy of Areva.

Construction on all four AP1000 units in China continues to progress after Fukushima, said Jack Wan, Westinghouse’s spokesperson in China.

“Our Chinese customer SNPTC has reported that the project is running slightly behind schedule due to some first of a kind issues associated with engineering, Chinese manufacturing and unique construction techniques in addition to review of events at Fukushima and the application of any lessons learned,” Wan said.

Westinghouse and its Chinese customers fully expect to generate electricity at Sanmen and Haiyang as planned.

As part of a Generation III Self-Reliance Program intended to be a platform for China’s ability to develop a carbon-free indigenous technology, Westinghouse and its partner, The Shaw Group, are providing the design basis and engineering for Unit 1 at both Sanmen and Haiyang. The China Nuclear Industry Fifth Construction Co. (CNF) is leading construction activities with the help of Westinghouse and Shaw’s certified construction renderings.

The Westinghouse-led consortium will deliver the technology for the indigenous development of the AP1000 to the State Nuclear Power Technology Co., which is the EPC for both plant owners. The largest nuclear entity in China, the China National Nuclear Corp., will own and operate the Sanmen units. Westinghouse, along with Shaw and the Sanmen Nuclear Power Co. Ltd., delivered the reactor vessel to Sanmen Unit 1 in August 2011. Korea-based Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction manufactured the 340-ton reactor vessel, which will undergo operational testing at Sanmen Unit 1 before starting commercial operation in late 2013.

The reactor vessel delivery in August 2011 marked the start of major equipment deliveries to Sanmen.

Westinghouse said construction of Unit 1 at Sanmen and Haiyang would last 54 months. Construction of Unit 1 at Haiyang is roughly six months behind Sanmen Unit 1, but on schedule. There have been lessons learned from work on Sanmen 1, such as how structural modules are set, but due to the way major components are staggered Haiyang 1 will continue to be six months behind Sanmen 1.

The Sanmen site as of 2009. Photo courtesy of Westinghouse Electric Co.
The Sanmen site as of 2009. Photo courtesy of Westinghouse Electric Co.

On a schedule similar to that of Westinghouse, Areva is constructing two Generation III EPR reactors at Taishan. The EPR, a 1,650 MW pressurized water reactor is also being constructed in France and Finland. Areva has 1,500 people working on the Taishan project and the customer has mobilized 13,000 people at the site.

Progress is being made at the Sanmen plant, as shown in this July 2012 picture. Photo courtesy of Westinghouse Electric Co.
Progress is being made at the Sanmen plant, as shown in this July 2012 picture. Photo courtesy of Westinghouse Electric Co.

Working with China Guangdong Nuclear Power Co. in design and project management, Dongfang Electric Co. and Shanghai Electric Co. in heavy component manufacturing and China National Nuclear Co. in fuel fabrication, Areva has supported the development of the Chinese nuclear industry through technology transfers. It also has established joint ventures in the field of reactor engineering, primary pumps manufacturing and in-core instrumentation to address domestic and international markets.

Both Taishan 1 and 2 benefit from Areva’s experience from building EPR projects at Olkiluoto 3 in Finland and Flamanville 3 in France. About 60 percent of the engineers working for Areva at Taishan have gained experience from the other EPR projects.

Over the past two years, Areva met multiple key milestones on Taishan 1 and 2. Hydraulic testing of the reactor vessel for Unit 1 was completed in August 2011, allowing for the delivery of the vessel to Taishan in September 2011. On Oct. 23 of last year, the dome was hoisted and installed by Taishan Nuclear Power Joint Venture Co. (TNPJVC).

The Final Safety Analysis Report was delivered in April 2012 and heavy components (four steam generators, the pressurizer, the reactor internals and primary loops) were delivered to the site in May. TNPJVC installed the reactor pressure vessel into the reactor building in June and Areva and its partners are now working to install the nuclear steam supply system, apart from the vessel.

Work at Taishan 2 is also on pace and civil engineering for the two units is only six months apart. The dome for Unit 2 was installed Sept. 12, marking the end of major civil engineering work on both reactor buildings.

Fellow French-based company Alstom is helping deliver the first EPR reactor under construction at Taishan by participating in construction of the power island. The work falls under two contracts, one for the supply of the turbine generator package (TGP) and one for the engineering and procurement of the conventional island, excluding the TGP.

The TPG supply contract includes two Arabelle steam turbines complete with generators, condensers with duplex heaters, moisture separator reheaters (MSR) and auxiliary equipment needed to convert steam produced at the nuclear reactor into electrical power.

The conventional island E&P contract covers the turbine hall, the equipment inside and the pumping station. Alstom will supply key equipment such as feedwater heaters, de-aerators, circulating water pumps and condenser extraction pumps in the turbine hall and the pumping station.

Taishan Unit 2 is expected to be online six months after Unit 1.

After these units connect to the grid and the first wave of nuclear power plant construction that is taking place is completed, China will move into the second phase of its nuclear power construction plan. If China meets its goals, the nation will separate itself from the world’s leader in nuclear energy. And learning from alliances with French, U.S., Russian and Canadian companies, the Chinese will develop the second wave of nuclear power with indigenous technology. The Chinese will build on their experiences with the first units built at plants such as Sanmen, Haiyang and Taishan to also be a world leader in the production of nuclear power reactors.

India Seeks to Strengthen Grid

This summer India suffered back-to-back blackouts, crippling the country. The first loss of electricity affected about 370 million people. The very next day, the country was hit with the largest blackout in history when almost 680 million were impacted. In August, the Ministry of Power and the Northern Indian States agreed to a 12-point resolution to avoid future power grid interruptions.

“Power is a crucial and core infrastructure sector which is required to catalyze the economic growth of the country,” Dr. M. Veerappa Moily, Minister of Power, said in a speech.

Of the 12 points laid out, the Ministry of Power said all utilities should adopt good operation and maintenance practices and random checks of these practices should be carried out by the Regional Power Committees.

“They are going to have to do a lot in terms of improving grid infrastructure,” said Cameron.

At the end of 2010, India ranked as having the fifth largest power generation capacity in the world with an installed capacity of 169,748 MW. Electricity demand remains strong as the country’s economy continues to grow rapidly. By the end of July 2012, India’s installed capacity rose to 206,456 MW, said Bertrand Constensoux, Alstom’s vice president of nuclear in India and Russia. India will require additional capacity of approximately 220 GW to 233 GW by 2012, 306 to 337 GW by 2017 and 425 to 488 GW by 2022 to sustain its 8 to 9 percent gross domestic product growth rate, according to an Integrated Energy Policy report from the Planning Commission in India. Today, energy demands are met largely with coal reserves. Coal-fired generation constitutes 54.4 percent of the total installed capacity, with nuclear being the fourth largest source of power generation in India counting for about 3 percent of total generation.

“In October 2010, India drew up an ambitious plan to reach a nuclear power capacity of 63,000 MW by 2032,” said Constensoux. “Experiencing endemic shortage of fossil fuels (coal and gas) and CO2 emission limitations becoming mandatory in the coming years, the pace of capacity addition for nuclear in India has to accelerate.”

India’s installed nuclear generating capacity ranks sixth in the world. The government-owned and operated Nuclear Power Corp. of India Ltd. (NPCIL) has a fleet of 20 reactors generating power commercially. In January 2011, the 202 MWe Kaiga Unit 4 pressurized heavy water reactor connected to the grid, giving India 18 pressurized heavy water reactors and two boiling water reactors that generate roughly 4,780 MWe.

“The potential is greater than ever before,” said Saurav Jha, chief executive of Energy India Solutions and author of The Upside Down Book of Nuclear Power.

India expects to have 14,600 MW of nuclear capacity online by 2020, and plans to supply 25 percent of its electricity from nuclear generation by 2050, according to WNA. Seven units are currently under construction with another almost 40 planned.

Jha said four domestic 700 MWe pressurized heavy water reactors are under construction, two each at Kakrapar and Rajasthan. Groundbreaking took place in August 2010 at the Rajasthan plant where two additional indigenously-designed PHWRs are being built. First concrete has been poured and the reactors are scheduled to enter commercial operation in 2016. Alstom, in consortium with Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited (BHEL) was awarded the contract to supply the turbine generator package to NPCIL for Rajasthan Units 7 and 8. Alstom and BHEL will supply, install and commission the turbine generators packages for the two 700 MW units.

At the Kakrapar plant, there are also plans for two additional PHWRs. Construction began in late 2010 and those units are expected to come online in the 2015 to 2016 timeframe.

At Jaitapur, a site in Maharashtra, plans are set to host two 1,650 MWe Areva EPRs. Plans also include the possibility of building a total of six EPRs resulting in one the largest nuclear power generating stations in the world.

Two Pressurized Water Reactors under construction at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant, India. Photo courtesy Petr Pavlicek/IAEA.
Two Pressurized Water Reactors under construction at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant, India. Photo courtesy Petr Pavlicek/IAEA.

Russia’s Atomstroyexport is building its first large nuclear power plant in the country at Kudankulam. The two Russian-designed 1,000 MWe VVERs at Kudankulam are almost complete, according to Jha, with the first due to be commissioned in the October to December timeframe.

In August, the Atomic Energy Resource Board (AERB) granted clearance for the Initial Fuel Loading and First Approach to Criticality for Unit 1 at Kudankulam. The clearance gives NPCIL the approval needed to load fresh fuel assemblies into the reactor core and conduct the first controlled nuclear fission process in Unit 1.

This past July, a protocol for financing of Kudankulam Units 3 and 4 was signed by the Government of India and the Russian Federation. The Russian Federation agreed to extend export credit to finance 85 percent of the work, supplies and services provided by the Russian organizations for Units 3 and 4.

India’s 500 MWe prototype fast breeder reactor is also nearing completion and will start generating commercial power by 2014. In 2002, NPCIL formed its subsidiary BHAVINI (Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd.) to operate India’s future fleet of Fast Breeder Reactors (FBR). The 500 MWe prototype reactor will be fueled with uranium-plutonium oxide. The FBR technology will eventually open the door to the country’s thorium supply to fuel nuclear power reactors. Six additional FBRs have already been announced for construction.

While expansion continues, the impact of Fukushima is being felt in India as well. Jha said non-government organizations are attempting to incite tensions and protests at proposed sites for both domestic as well as imported reactors. In the wake of the Fukushima accident, AERB carried out safety reassessments of the Kudankulam plant’s capability to withstand extreme external events and station blackout.

“India is determined to push through this,” Jha said.

Japan’s Reliance on Nuclear Could Decrease

The East Island Asian island nation of Japan has been in the news constantly since the March 2011 earthquake and ensuing tsunami. The strongest earthquake ever recorded in Japan at a magnitude of 9.0 struck the country on March 11, creating a tsunami that destroyed the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The Tomari 3 plant was the last operating plant in Japan to shut down after Fukushima. Two units have been restarted in Japan this year. Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
The Tomari 3 plant was the last operating plant in Japan to shut down after Fukushima. Two units have been restarted in Japan this year. Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

Hokkaido Electric Power Co.’s Tomari 3, Japan’s last operating commercial nuclear reactor, shut down for regular inspections in May, marking the first time in 42 years that Japan has not had a single reactor generating electricity, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute.

Prior to the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, the country had 50 operating reactors that generated over 44,000 MW, about 30 percent of the nation’s demand, and plans were in place to increase the share of nuclear power generation to 40 percent by 2017.

Japan has turned to oil- and natural-gas fired plants to make up for the loss. The Ministry of Environment in Japan expects the country to produce about 15 percent more greenhouse gas emissions this fiscal year than it did in 1990, The Associated Press reported.

A report released earlier this year from the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission said the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on the east coast of Japan was not the result of natural events, yet it was “man-made.”

“The earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011 were natural disasters of a magnitude that shocked the entire world,” wrote commission Chairman Kiyoshi Kurokawa in the report. “Although triggered by these cataclysmic events, the subsequent accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant cannot be regarded as a natural disaster. It was a profoundly man-made disaster – that could and should have been foreseen and prevented.”

The investigation included more than 900 hours of hearings and interviews with 1,167 people. The commission also made nine visits to nuclear power plants, including the Fukushima Daiichi plant. After their six-month-long investigation, the investigative panel concluded that the accident was the result of “collusion” between the government, the regulators and the Tokyo Electric Power Co., and the “lack of governance” by all three parties.

“They effectively betrayed the nation’s right to be safe from nuclear accidents,” the report said.

The commission made seven recommendations for the future of nuclear power generation in Japan, ranging from the monitoring of the nuclear regulatory body by the National Diet of Japan to reforming laws related to nuclear energy.

Now, attempting to move forward and with power demands increasing, after a two-month hiatus, Kansai Electric Power Co. in July restarted Unit 3 at the Ohi nuclear power plant. Ohi reactor 3 reached full power July 9, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute. Quickly following, Kansai Electric Power Co. restarted Unit 4 at Ohi. According to Cameron, two additional applications have been completed to bring two addiitona units online.

“It is a very tricky situation because essentially the public has lost confidence in not just TEPCO, but also the government and the safety regulator,” he said. “That doesn’t make it easy for these things to happen.”

Not all nuclear-related news in Japan has been ‘bad’ news since the earthquake and tsunami. In August, an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)-led team of experts delivered an initial report at the end of a two-week mission to gather information about the impacts of the earthquake on the three-unit Onagawa Nuclear Power Station, and concluded the plant was “remarkably undamaged.”

The Government of Japan and the IAEA agreed to deploy a team of 19 members from six countries, including IAEA staff, to the Onagawa plant. The team held discussions with the operators of the plant and reviewed logbooks and repair reports documented after the earthquake.

The Onagawa plant, facing the Pacific Ocean on Japan’s northeast coast, was the nuclear power plant closest to the epicenter of the earthquake that struck Japan and resulted in a tsunami, the IAEA said. The agency also said the plant experienced very high levels of ground shaking – among the strongest of any plant affected by the earthquake – and some flooding from the tsunami that followed, but was able to shut down safely.

In its draft report, the IAEA team said “the structural elements of the NPS were remarkably undamaged given the magnitude of ground motion experienced and the duration and size of this great earthquake”.

The objective was to observe how structures, systems and components with significance to the safety of the plant responded to the earthquake and heavy shaking. The IAEA said the findings from the visual investigation will be added to an IAEA data base being compiled by its International Seismic Safety Centre (ISSC) to provide knowledge for Member States about the impact of external hazards on nuclear power plants.

Recommendations have been made that follow-up missions be conducted at Onagawa and reviews be conducted at other nuclear power plants in Japan that have experienced varying magnitudes of earthquakes.

“This is an initial step in a much longer process. The level of cooperation and frank sharing of information that we received from the staff at Onagawa NPS and its owners, the Tohoku Electric Power Company, sets a very good example,” said Sujit Samaddar, mission leader and Head of the IAEA’s ISSC.

Determining the fate of nuclear power generation in Japan will also be a much longer process. The Japanese government is expected to make an announcement in September that could determine the future of nuclear energy in Japan.

“It is likely in the future that Japan’s use of nuclear will decrease,” said Cameron.

South Korea Looks to Export Technology

Power demand has been rising in South Korea since 1999 and today the country ranks fourth in Asia, following China, India and Japan in terms of energy consumption. Over the past 40 years, South Korea has built up its nuclear power generation industry beginning with assistance from the United States. South Korea has now become one of the few countries to go from scratch to fully competent nuclear supplier with a global outlook.

South Korea’s first reactor began commercial operation in 1978, with eight more reactors coming online within the next 11 years. In July of this year, both Shin-Kori 2 and Shin-Wolsong 1 entered commercial operation, giving South Korea 23 operating reactors with a combined capacity of over 20,000 MWe, accounting for about one-third of the country’s electricity production. The existing reactors are a mix of Canada Deuterium Uranium (CANDU) pressurized heavy water reactors, pressurized water reactors from companies such as Westinghouse, and Korean Optimized Power Reactors, the OPR-1000.

South Korea will continue to expand its fleet and nuclear power capacity is expected to account for almost 60 percent of all power generation by 2030. According to the WNA, nine total reactors are either under construction or planned. All except one are of the Korean Generation III Advanced Pressurized Reactor-1400, or APR-1400, design. The most recent progress was the pouring of first concrete at the Shin Ulchin 1 site in July.

“Korea’s national plan that was recently announced did not show any change,” said Cameron. “So we expect that to go ahead.”

Construction continues on Shin-Kori Units 3 and 4. Photo courtesy of Westinghouse Electric Co.
Construction continues on Shin-Kori Units 3 and 4. Photo courtesy of Westinghouse Electric Co.

Westinghouse, having worked in South Korea since the start of its nuclear commercial operations, has provided technology and major equipment for 21 nuclear plants. One of those is among the most recent plants to come online in South Korea, Shin-Kori 2. Shin-Kori 2 is the tenth OPR-1000 reactor in South Korea, according to WNA. The technology was developed from older Westinghouse units and Westinghouse is working on several other projects under construction, Shin-Kori 3 and 4 and Shin-Wolsong 2. The company is supplying components such as reactor coolant pumps and reactor vessel internals for these projects. Technical and engineering services are also being provided, with the plants scheduled for commercial operation up to the 2014 timeframe.

Working with Westinghouse on the Shin-Kori and Shin-Wolsong projects is its business partner, Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction. With over 30 years of nuclear plant experience, Doosan is providing the main components for nuclear steam supply system of these plants such as steam generators, reactors including internal structures, reactor coolant pumps and instrumentation and control system, among other components.

South Korea is now well on its way of becoming an established nuclear supplier. In 2009, a South Korean consortium signed a deal to provide four APR-1400 reactors in the United Arab Emirates, a deal reported to be worth $20 billion. As the main components supplier in South Korea for nuclear projects, Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction is supporting Korea Electric Power Co. by supplying the nuclear steam supply system and balance of plant equipment to KEPCO for the project. This deal represents the first time that South Korea will have exported native reactor technology.

In July of this year, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) officially started construction on the 1,400 MW units by pouring nuclear safety concrete for Barakah Unit, the UAE’s first nuclear power plant. ENEC selected KEPCO’s APR-1400 because the reactor is a proven technology that meets the highest international standards for safety and performance, ENEC said.

In a report published in January 2010, the country’s Ministry of Knowledge Economy said South Korea aims to export up to 80 reactors, worth up to $400 billion, by 2030.

As the global nuclear industry progresses and takes into account lessons learned from the Fukushima disaster, new projects will continue. These countries will lead the charge for new development, with China continuing on a path to become the world leader in nuclear energy.