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

11 April 2014

Turbulent electricity market scuttles Czech power plant plans
CEZ, the Czech utility 70% owned by the government, has cancelled its tender for building two further nuclear reactors at the Temelin power plant due to uncertain electricity market conditions. The public tender process had been kicked off in 2009, and attracted three bids, from Areva, Westinghouse and a Russian-Skoda consortium.

The previous government was planning to legislate for a cost-difference guarantee for electricity from Temelin 3 & 4 to ensure that investment was viable. This would cover the difference between wholesale electricity prices and price levels needed to cover construction costs. The Ministry of Industry and Trade wanted it written into a new long-term Czech energy framework, but this was opposed by the Ministry of Finance. Estimates of its impact varied up to 10% additional on retail power bills. The Industry Ministry was working on €60/MWh, others suggested that €90 would be needed, indexed. CEZ required €70/MWh for the new units to be profitable, compared with mid 2013 forward prices of under €40. The prime minister of the new coalition government said it was not open to providing price guarantees that would “dramatically burden” consumers, after its experience in support of renewable sources, notably solar PV, which add EUR 1.7 billion per year to consumer bills.

Following government confirmation this week that it would not provide any future price guarantees, CEZ informed the bidders that it had cancelled the procurement process. The Minister of Finance and the Minister of Trade and Industry are to prepare a plan by the end the year on the development of nuclear power in the country, which is supported in principle by the government in its new draft energy policy.
WNN 10/4/14. Czech Rep

EU publishes new rules for funding renewable energy
The European Commission has published new guidelines for EU funding of renewable energy sources. They are designed to replace subsidies with market-based measures, and take effect from July. From 2017 all EU countries will have to call tenders for new renewables plants. The intention is to replace feed-in tariffs, which have severely distorted the market, with auctions or bidding processes open to all eligible renewables generators competing for subsidies. There is scope for exempting energy-intensive industries from contributing to the cost of subsidies.

The guidelines are connected to reforms of Germany’s Energiewende, the policy of turning away from nuclear power, which will slow the expansion of renewables by forcing investors in it to take some risk, while protecting households from bearing all the cost – currently they pay a EUR 6.24 c/kWh surcharge to fund renewables subsidies. The number of industries exempted from this surcharge will be reduced. The reforms will be put to parliament in August.
WNN 9/4/14, Reuters 8 & 9/4/14

Other papers significantly updated in the WNA Information Library (see WNA web site): Japan, Russia fuel cycle, Uranium markets

4 April  2014

 UK homes in on decommissioning early power reactors
In response to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) invitation in 2012, four consortia have bid to take over the decommissioning of ten Magnox power plants with 22 reactors, and two nuclear research facilities at Harwell and Winfrith, as the private sector ‘parent body organistion’ for the £7 billion, 14-year task. At Wylfa one of the Magnox reactors still operates, 43 years from its start-up. NDA commenced dialogue with them in January 2013 and has now announced the selection of a joint venture between Cavendish Nuclear and Fluor Corporation as preferred bidder. Currently NDA-owned companies Magnox Ltd and Research Sites Restoration Ltd (RSRL) manage all the sites as licensees. Magnox and RSRL are owned by EnergySolutions (USA) and UKAEA Ltd/ Babcock International (UK) respectively. Cavendish Nuclear is also a subsidiary of Babcock International. Fluor is based in Texas.
WNN 31/3/14. UK

UK announces design of capacity market
The UK government has announced the design of the electricity capacity market to provide security of supply from 2018. This is complementary to fixing long-term prices in the wholesale electricity market and the imposition of a carbon emission floor price. Capacity agreements for new dispatchable capacity will be for 15 years, and agreements for existing capacity will be for one or three years. Penalties for failure to meet commitments which have been paid for will be capped at 200% of a provider’s monthly income and 100% of their annual income. The capacity auction each year will be capped at £75/kW – the first is due in December 2014 for 2018 delivery, subject to EU state aid clearance. Some interim arrangements including demand side will apply to cover the period to 2018. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) estimates that the operation of the capacity market will add about £15 per year to domestic bills to 2030.

First half of new Chernobyl cover completed
The first half of Chernobyl’s new safe confinement, an arch 108 metres high, spanning 257 metres and weighing 12,800 tonnes, has been moved 112 metres to a holding area in front of the wrecked unit 4 and its hastily-built 1986 cover. The second half is expected to be completed and joined to the first at the end of this year. Cladding, cranes and remote handling equipment will be fitted in 2015. The EUR 740 million project is being funded through the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
WNN 1/4/14. Chernobyl

Australian uranium production down in 2013, new mine coming on
Uranium production from Australia’s four mines dropped 9% in 2013 to 7488 tonnes U3O8 (6350 tU). Production ceased at Honeymoon late in the year. Alliance Resources’ Four Mile project is being commissioned now, using a satellite plant to load resin from the in situ leach mining. The uranium is then recovered at the main Beverley plant next door. The new project is in partnership with Heathgate Resources which operates the Beverley ISL mine. Four Mile has substantial resources, 32,000 t U3O8 being proved up so far.
WNN 4/2/14. Australia

Other papers significantly updated in the WNA Information Library (see WNA web site): Reactor table, Lithuania, US nuclear power, US uranium mines

21 & 28 March 2014

 New Chinese reactor in commercial operation
The first of six units at Yangjiang nuclear power plant in western Guangdong province has been handed over to the owner, a subsidiary of China General Nuclear Power (CGN), becoming the 19th Chinese reactor in commercial operation. The second unit is expected to start up in a few months, with 83% local content. Units 3-6 are under construction, with the last due on line in 2018. The first two reactors are CGN’s CPR-1000, the most widely-built design in recent years, the second two are a development of this, and the last two are the advanced ACPR1000, soon to be superseded by a standardised Chinese design in the 1000 MWe class.
WNN 27/3/14. China nuclear power

Two Belgian reactors taken off line for tests
In 2012 Doel 3 and Tihange 2 were shut down due to concern about flaws in the reactor pressure vessels. After thorough investigations, the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC) approved restarting the units in May 2013. However, further metallurgical testing has now led to Electrabel bringing forward maintenance outages for both plants until uncertainties regarding the effect of neutrons on mechanical strength of the pressure vessel steel are resolved. Results are expected in June from first-of-its-kind testing procedures at the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre.
WNN 26/3/14. Belgium

Rosatom takes up 34% share of Finland’s Fennovoima
A new Finnish subsidiary of Russia’s state corporation Rosatom, RAOS Voima Oy, has acquired a 34% share in Fennovoima, the company planning to build the Hanhikivi nuclear power plant on the northwest coast. The shareholding is related to the December 2013 agreement with Rusatom Overseas to build an AES-2006 nuclear power plant with 1200 MWe reactor. There are 44 indigenous shareholders, the largest being Outokumpu, with 12.5%.

Fennovoima, with a new board, will confirm the investment in April, and says that when the plant starts operating in 2024, the price of electricity for shareholders will be less than EUR 50/MWh (5 cents/kWh), including all production costs, depreciation, finance costs and waste management. Building cost is estimated at EUR 6 billion.

The head of Rosatom is reported this week as saying that he expects some of its international contracts – for building reactors as well as supplying fabricated fuel - could be affected by sanctions arising from Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
WNN 28/3/14. Finland

Other papers significantly updated in the WNA Information Library (see WNA web site): Brazil, Ukraine, India, China fuel cycle, Transport, Nuclear ships,