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Recent developments with links to updated WNA Public Information Service Papers. For previous items from Weekly Digest see archive menu.
27 March 2015
Two new Chinese reactors connected to grid
Unit 3 of the Hongyanhe plant in Liaoning province has been connected to the grid, five months after start-up and 72 months after construction start, with construction delay due to post Fukushima safety reviews. The plant, using CPR 1000 reactors, is a joint venture of China General Nuclear Power (CGN) and China Power Investment Corporation (CPI). Alstom is providing the four low-speed Arabelle turbine-generator sets, though localization is over 80%. A fourth unit is expected to be in operation late in the year, and two more are under construction. The project incorporates a 10,080 m3/day seawater desalination plant using waste heat to provide cooling water.
Unit 3 of the Ningde plant in Fujian province has been connected to the grid, only two weeks after start-up and 62 months after construction start. The 4-unit plant is a joint project of China General Nuclear Power (CGN) and China Datang Corporation. The reactor pressure vessel and steam generators for the CPR 1000 reactor are from China First Heavy Industries. This brings the China nuclear total to 26 reactors and 23,176 MWe net.
WNN 24/3/15. China NP
US government pushes for small reactors
Clean energy sources, including small modular nuclear reactors, must make up at least 25% of the energy consumed by US federal agencies by 2025 under an executive order on federal sustainability issued by the President. As the federal government is the single largest consumer of energy in the USA, the order - Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade - aims to promote federal leadership in reducing greenhouse gas emissions while fostering innovation and reducing spending. Federal agencies are instructed to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% over the decade. Initial priority will be given to reducing energy use and cost, followed by "finding renewable or alternative energy solutions".
The order defines energy from new small modular reactor (SMR) technologies as an alternative energy source, alongside renewables and CCS. The US Department of Energy is supporting the accelerated development and deployment of NuScale's 50 MWe self-contained pressurized water reactor, with a five-year funding package of $217 million signed in May 2014.
WNN 23/3/15. US nuclear power
Other papers significantly updated in the WNA Information Library (see WNA web site): Desalination, Australia
20 March 2015
Japanese power utilities decide to retire five older reactors
As Japan’s power utilities grapple with getting their 48 reactors back on line with more stringent and expensive safety provisions, they have also looked at the economic implications of heavy investment in older and smaller units. As foreshadowed in January, and following approval of cost recovery provisions for decommissioning, four utilities have announced that they will retire five reactors, all of which would be over 40 years in service by October.
Kansai announced that Mihama 1 & 2 PWRs would be retired, and JAPC said it would decommission its Tsuruga 1 BWR, all in Fukui prefecture. The following day Chugoku Electric Power Co. said it would decommission its Shimane-1 BWR in Shimane Prefecture, and the Kyushu Electric Power Co. did the same for its Genkai-1 PWR in Saga Prefecture. These five old reactors range in size from 320 to 529 MWe net. The total reduction in operational capacity is 2089 MWe, leaving 40,480 MWe net operable.
Meanwhile the first four reactors among 23 progressing through restart applications and checks are getting closer to resuming operation. Having obtained final approval from the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) and agreement from local governments, Kyushu expects to restart Sendai unit 1 in July, after final NRA inspections are completed. Sendai unit 2 then Kansai’s Takahama 1 & 2 are expected to follow soon after.
WNN 17 & 18/3/15. Japan NP
South Australian royal commission gets under way
After considering over one thousand submissions on its terms of reference, the royal commission headed by former state governor, Rear Admiral the Hon. Kevin Scarce AC CSC RANR, has been launched. It is due to report by May 2016. It will consider the feasibility and viability as well as the risks and opportunities associated with four broad areas of nuclear fuel cycle activities. It will assess their future impact upon the South Australian economy, environment and community, as well as any measures required to facilitate and regulate them.
WNN 19/3/15. Australia, www.nuclearrc.sa.gov.au
Other papers significantly updated in the WNA Information Library (see WNA web site): Australia’s electricity, Fast neutron reactors, South Africa, South Korea
13 March 2015
Australian proposal for advanced fuel cycle’s benefits
In the context of the announced royal commission in South Australia on nuclear energy prospects for the state, an opposition senator has put forward a proposal for boldly leaping ahead of present nuclear power technology and utilising some of the world’s spent fuel from present reactors to fuel Generation IV fast reactors, via an electrometallurgical reprocessing plant. The whole venture would be supported by relieving overseas governments of their used fuel, effectively high-level waste, which they would pay SA to take, to use for fuel in the new-generation reactors. Low-cost electricity as continuous, reliable supply would transform the state’s economy following the demise of motor manufacturing there. After processing and use, very little and relatively short-lived waste (basically just fission products) would remain.
This proposal, which has been put together and researched over the last year or more, will be put to the royal commission. Other proposals are likely to include straightforward deep geological disposal of overseas high-level radioactive wastes in the state’s geologically stable, dry and relatively unpopulated north. This would be similar to such projects for direct disposal of used fuel in Finland and Sweden, and advanced proposals in USA and (for vitrified high-level wastes) in France. Also no doubt the building of large and/or small conventional nuclear reactors will be considered, the former probably requiring increased grid capacity with Victoria.
WNN 12/3/15. Australia, International waste disposal concepts
Life extension for another US reactor
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has renewed the operating licence for Ameren Missouri’s Callaway reactor, giving the 1275 MWe unit an extra 20 years to 2044. This is the 76th reactor to have its licence extended from 40 to 60 years. Applications are under review for another 18.
WNN 9/3/15. US nuclear power
Other papers significantly updated in the WNA Information Library (see WNA web site): Heavy manufacturing, IFNEC
6 March 2015
Old South Korean reactor gets life extension
After more than two years of deliberation and tests, the South Korean Nuclear Safety & Security Commission (NSSC) approved a ten-year life extension for the country’s second-oldest nuclear reactor. It is now clear to operate for another seven years to November 2022.
Wolsong-1 is a Canadian Candu 6 PHWR, built as a turnkey project to evaluate the type, and entering commercial operation in 1983. Ten years later, three more Wolsong Candu 6 units were built with substantial local input and were commissioned 1997-99. On unit 1 considerable refurbishment was undertaken in a long outage from April 2009 to July 2011, including replacement of all 380 calandria tubes, to enable a further 25 years operational life. Some KRW 560 billion ($520 million) was spent. The refurbishment restored it to design level of 691 MWe gross, 657 MWe net. However, it was then shut down in November 2012 when it 30-year licence expired, and spent 28 months awaiting licence renewal by the NSSC. In October 2014 Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety, the technical support arm of NSSC, said that the unit could operate to 2022, and in February NSSC renewed the licence to 2022. KHNP expects to restart it in April.
WNN 28/2/15. South Korea
Canadian company awarded damages for Mongolian expropriation
After several years of complex negotiations and legal uncertainty, Khan Resources based in Canada has been awarded $100 million by an international tribunal as compensation for the Mongolian government cancelling its mining licences over the Dornod uranium deposit. Khan had sought $326 million but the tribunal based its calculation of $100 million, including interest and costs, on previous offers made for the Dornod asset. After cancelling the licences in 2009, the government set up a joint venture with Russia’s ARMZ to develop the mine, but not much has happened since. Dornod is second only to Areva’s Sainshand project in known uranium resources in Mongolia. It was mined to a small extent by Russia’s Priargunsky Industrial Mining & Chemical Union over 1988 to 1995, with total 535 tU produced from an open pit.
WNN 3/3/15. Mongolia
Russian nuclear desalination commercial initiative
Rusatom Overseas, the international marketing subsidiary of Russian state nuclear power company Rosatom, is aiming to ramp up export sales of desalination facilities integrated with large Russian nuclear power plants. These have significant potential in Middle East and North African markets especially, where a lot of large desalination plants are being built. This announcement follows signing of a project development agreement last month for a nuclear power plant with desalination complex in Egypt.
Rosatom said its desalination facility could produce 170,000 cubic metres per day of water from a single large reactor. It would employ multi-effect distillation (MED) technology involving cogeneration using waste heat. As well as relatively incidental use of waste heat from large reactors, Rosatom is intending “expansion of the product range, including desalination facilities integrated with small modular reactor plants and floating nuclear power plants."
WNN 4/3/15. Desalination
Other papers significantly updated in the WNA Information Library (see WNA web site): Australian wastes