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Recent developments with links to updated WNA Public Information Service Papers. For previous items from Weekly Digest see archive menu.  

17 & 24 October 2014

New Chinese reactor starts up
The first unit of Fangjiashan nuclear power plant in Zhejiang province has started up. Construction of the 1080 MWe CPR-1000 reactor for China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) commenced at the end of 2008, and it is expected to be on line by the end of the year. It is adjacent to the Qinshan nuclear plant, near Shanghai.
WNN 21/10/14. China NP

New South Korean reactor design approved
Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power’s 1500 MWe APR+ gained design approval from the regulator, the Nuclear Safety & Security Commission (NSSC), in August. It was “developed with original domestic technology”, up to 100% localized. The APR1400 design, with two units being built in South Korea and three in United Arab Emirates, retains significant Westinghouse intellectual property rights. Hence the $200 million, 7-year program to develop the new design, with export markets in view. The APR+ has modular construction which is expected to give 36-month construction time instead of 52 months for APR1400. It is more highly reinforced against aircraft impact than any earlier designs.
S.Korea

Two more US reactors get life extension
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has renewed the operating licences for Limerick 1 & 2 reactors for 20 years, taking them to 2044 and 2049. Exelon has invested more than $500 million in the two units over the last five years to prepare them for 60-year operating lives. This brings the total of US reactors with life extensions to 75, and NRC is considering 17 further applications.
WNN 22/10/14. USA NP

Other papers significantly updated in the WNA Information Library (see WNA web site): Russia fuel cycle, Desalination, Nuclear fusion, Advanced reactors, Emerging countries, Romania, Finland, Radioisotopes in medicine

10 October 2014

 EU Commission agrees to UK plans for new nuclear capacity
After 12 months investigation, the European Commission has set an important precedent in finding that revised UK plans to support the construction and operation of a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset are in line with EU state aid rules. The price support for electricity from the plant over 35 years, a key part of the UK electricity market reform, was found to address a genuine market failure. Similar provisions already apply automatically to renewables.

In the process of the investigation the UK agreed to modify significantly the terms of the project financing, by raising the fee to be paid by the developer to the UK Treasury in relation to a guarantee on its commercial debt. Also as soon as the operator's overall return on equity exceeds the rate estimated at the time of the decision, any gain will be shared with the public entity supporting the long-term wholesale electricity price. This support is through a contract for difference (CfD). This gain-share mechanism will be in place not only for the 35-year support duration as initially envisaged, but for the entire 60-year lifetime of the project. Moreover, if the construction costs turn out to be lower than expected, the gains will also be shared. Consumers will simply pay the prevailing deregulated market price in any case.

The UK Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) said the EC decision showed that the agreement between EdF and the government was "a fair deal and a fair price." "Put simply - the government has designed a market framework to transform the energy supply towards a low carbon and affordable system. This means all low-carbon projects have a CfD and a strike price. The Hinkley price of £92.50/MWh should be compared with the offshore wind farm price of £155/MWh, and £120/MWh for a large solar farm," the NIA said.

The WNA said that "The Electricity Market Reform is an innovative approach to encourage the decarbonisation of the electricity supply system in a deregulated market. The decision will be welcome by all those planning new nuclear build projects in the EU and similar markets." Several EU countries are very interested in adopting elements of the UK policy.

EdF Energy now needs to make a final decision on proceeding with the £16 billion Hinkley Point C project. (Including financing, the EC put the cost at £24.5 billion.) Two Areva 1600 MWe EPR reactors are planned. EdF announced in October 2013 that while it would retain 45-50% of the project, two Chinese companies, CGN and CNNC, would take 30-40% of it between them, Areva would take 10%, and other interested parties might take up to 15%. The French government holds 85% of EdF and 80% of Areva, the Chinese companies are wholly government-owned.
WNN 8/10/14. UK

Spanish reactor gets 10-year life extension
The Trillo nuclear power reactor has been given a 10-year life extension to November 2024 by Spain’s regulator. It is owned 51% by Iberdrola and 23% by Endesa, and operated by a joint operating company, CNAT. All of Spain’s operating reactors are now licensed to 2020 or beyond.
WNN 10/10/14. Spain

Other papers significantly updated in the WNA Information Library (see WNA web site): Energy analysis of power systems, Conversion, Cooperation in nuclear power, Russia NP, Russia fuel cycle, Sweden, Australian U, World U mining production 2013.

3 October 2014

 Political deal in Sweden puts nuclear plants under a cloud
The junior coalition Green Party in the impending new government has persuaded its Social Democrat partner to set up an energy commission charged with phasing out nuclear power in the country. The outgoing centre-right governing coalition of four parties had agreed in 2009 that new reactors could be built to replace ageing ones. Social Democrat leader Stefan Lofven then had said that nuclear power would be needed for "the foreseeable future", though the Greens campaigned to have two of Sweden's reactors closed in the next four years. The Social Democrats got 31% of the vote in the recent election, and the Greens 7%. Public opinion polls in the last few years show steady majority (over two thirds) support for nuclear power.

The parties said in separate, but identical statements that nuclear power should be replaced with renewable energy and energy efficiency. The goal, they said, should be at least 30 TWh/yr of electricity from non-hydro renewable energy sources by 2020, compared with about 18 TWh/yr now. In 2012, 63.5 TWh came from nuclear power, and 79 TWh from hydro.

The two parties said that nuclear power "should bear a greater share of its economic cost", despite the fact that Sweden already has a unique high tax specifically on nuclear power (about €0.67cents/kWh), and waste management is fully factored in to running costs at €0.24 cents/kWh.

If translated into government policy, this will be the second time Sweden has resolved to phase out nuclear power. The first was in 1980 when a referendum canvassed three options for phasing out nuclear energy, but none for maintaining it. Parliament then embargoed further expansion of nuclear power and aimed to close the 12 reactors by 2010, but this decision was overturned in 1991 following pressure from trade unions. In 1995 a parliamentary energy commission reported that a complete phase-out of nuclear power by 2010 would be economically and environmentally impossible. A compromise resulted in two reactors closing and the others getting a reprieve to run for at least 40 years. The lost capacity of 1200 MWe was replaced by uprates to the remaining ten units totalling some 1600 MWe. In mid 2010 parliament approved in principle the construction of new reactors on existing nuclear power plant sites, and state-owned Vattenfall has been making plans for the Ringhals site.
WNN 1/10/14. Sweden

Other papers significantly updated in the WNA Information Library (see WNA web site): Reactor table, China NP, Russia fuel cycle, US nuclear policy