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Significant nuclear-related news items in perspective. For previous items, see the Archive.

15 December 2017

Middle East nuclear power projects move forward

In Turkey, the government has formally launched the Akkuyu nuclear power plant project on its eastern Mediterranean coast. JSC Akkuyu Nuklear, the company responsible for the project, expects to receive a construction licence in March, after which first main concrete for the plant will be poured, marking the actual start of construction of the four VVER-1200 reactors.  Akkuyu will be Russia’s first foreign plant on a build-own-operate basis. Rusatom Overseas owns 51% of the project company and a consortium of three Turkish companies holds 49%. Russia will largely finance the project, to about $22 billion, and Atomstroyexport is general contractor for construction, with Novovronezh II as reference.  (The same design as being built at Rooppur in Bangladesh.) The first unit, probably about 1100 MWe net, is due to be commissioned in 2023. The Turkish Electricity Trade & Contract Corporation (TETAS) will buy a defined proportion of the power at a fixed price of US$ 12.35 cents/kWh for 15 years, by which time the plant is expected to be paid off. 

In Egypt, Russian President Putin witnessed the signing of notices to proceed with contracts for the construction of four VVER-1200 units at the El Dabaa nuclear power plant on the Mediterranean coast near Alexandria. The first unit is due to be commissioned in 2026. They will be warm-water versions of the Leningrad II reference plant, and the El Dabaa units will have significant desalination capacity, reducing their electrical output to 927 MWe net.  Russia is financing 85% of the $30 billion project cost.  The site has been under consideration for a nuclear power plant since 1983.

For both plants, and in line with Russian standard practice, all fuel will be supplied by Russia for the life of the plants and all used fuel returned to Russia for recycling. Local content for the initial units is expected to be about 35% in Turkey and 20% in Egypt.

Turkey has plans for two further nuclear power plants, one at Sinop on the Black Sea coast, 4.6 GWe using Mitsubishi and Areva technology, and one at Igneada near the Bulgarian border, 5.3 GWe using Chinese technology.
WNN 11 & 12/12/17.  Turkey, Egypt

UK completes design review of GE-Hitachi reactor

The UK Environment Agency, Office for Nuclear Regulation and Natural Resources Wales have announced the successful completion of their four-year Generic Design Assessment (GDA) of Hitachi-GE’s 1350 MWe UK Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR). Horizon Nuclear Power is proposing to build and operate two of these reactors at each of Wylfa Newydd on Anglesey and later at Oldbury in South Gloucestershire. If constructed, each of these power stations would be capable of supplying around 5% of UK electricity. The basic design is well-proven internationally, with the first two in Japan having commenced operation twenty years ago. Horizon expects to make a final decision on the Wylfa Newydd project in 2018.

The GDA process is now under way on China’s Hualong One reactor planned for Bradwell in Essex. It is likely that Korea’s APR1400 may also enter the process next year, for NuGen’s Moorside plant in Cumbria. It is operating in South Korea and four are being built in UAE.
WNN 7/12/17.  UK

8 December 2017

Kazakh uranium production cutback

Following Cameco’s announcement of major production cutback in 2018, Kazatomprom has announced that it will reduce uranium production by 20% for three years to match reduced demand.  Last year Kazakhstan produced 24,575 tonnes of uranium - 39% of world supply, and Kazatomprom accounted for almost 13,000 tonnes of this.  Its cutback will thus amount to about 2600 tU per year.  Cameco’s cut from its McArthur River mine in 2018 will be about 8200 tU relative to earlier plans, or 5700 tU relative to 2016 production.  World production last year was 62,366 tU.

The cutbacks, in 2018 being together about 13% of world production, are expected to have a significant effect on world prices. Impending producers from new mines have welcomed the announcements.
WNN 4 & 7/12/17.  Kazakhstan, World U production

New Russian reactor starts up

Rostov unit 4 near Volgodonsk has achieved criticality. The 1100 MWe (gross) VVER-1000 from Gidropress is the last of that series of reactors, and the 13th built in Russia itself. Construction actually started in 1983 but then lapsed, and first new concrete was in mid 2010, after Rosatom decided to continue building the original design but with improved steam generators, rather than switching to the VVER-1200 which is the current model.  The plant was built by Atomstroyexport, with the pressure vessel from OMZ Izhora near St Petersburg. The steam generators were made locally at Atommash, and the low-speed turbine generator was made by Turboatom at Kharkov in northeast Ukraine.
WNN 7/12/17.  Russia NP

Korean equity and technology for UK nuclear power

Korea Electric Power Company (KEPCO) has been named as the preferred bidder to acquire 100% of the shares in NuGeneration (NuGen), the UK nuclear power development company owned by Toshiba.  NuGen is set up to build a nuclear power plant of 3.4 GWe at a site in West Cumbria, and had planned on using Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactors which completed the UK generic design assessment (GDA) process in March.  However, KEPCO ownership will probably mean that its APR1400 reactor design replaces the AP1000, requiring a new 4-year GDA process for that, though one AP1400 is operating in South Korea with three more under  construction, and the first of four AP1400 reactors is close to completion at Barakah in UAE.

The prospect for UK’s nuclear future is thus for French, Japanese, Chinese and South Korean technology.
WNN 7/12/17.  UK

24 November & 1 December 2017

Construction of Bangladesh nuclear power plant starts

First concrete for the first main reactor basemat of the Rooppur nuclear power plant has been poured. Two 1200 MWe AES-2006 units are being built by Atomstroyexport. The main contract signed two years ago amounts to $12.65 billion, including the first few year’s fuel, with Russia financing 90% of the cost. India’s Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership (GCNEP) has been appointed as consultant for construction and operation of the Rooppur project. India has also agreed to a loan of about $1 billion to fund infrastructure development, notably transmission lines connecting the plant to the grid. The two reactors are expected on line in 2023 and 2024.
WNN 30/11/17.  Bangladesh

UK plans for new nuclear plants proceeding

EdF Energy has so far awarded about £9 billion of supply chain contracts for its planned 3200 MWe Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant – almost half of the value of the project. Full construction of the two EPR units is due to begin in 2019, by which time three of the four EPRs now under construction are expected to be in operation, in China and Finland.

At Wylfa in Wales, Horizon Nuclear Power has applied for a site licence and expects to apply for a development consent order for its planned 2700 MWe plant, with two ABWR reactors, well-proven in Japan. UK design approval for the ABWR is expected in December, after a four-year process. Horizon hopes to begin construction in 2019.
WNN 23/11/17.  UK

US approval for reactor uprates

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved the uprating of Exelon’s two Peach Bottom reactors by 1.66%, about 22 MWe for each unit, taking them to about 1330 MWe net. This will be effective in the next couple of months, and arises from more accurate measurement of feedwater flow.  Such measurement uprates have added over 500 MWe in the USA so far, at minimal cost.
WNN 20/11/17.  USA NP

China to build a further large new reactor in Pakistan

Following on from the two Hualong One reactors under construction near Karachi, the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission has signed an agreement with China National Nuclear Corporation to build a further such 1100 MWe unit at Chashma in Punjab.  There are four small CNP-300 Chinese reactors operating there already.
WNN 23/11/17.  Pakistan

Climate change conference in Bonn adjusts to US exit

The 23rd annual conference of parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change grappled with how to proceed following US notice of withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Accord.  Several countries indicated less firm intentions of lowering carbon dioxide emissions, especially by maintaining commitment to high levels of coal use, though others are resolute with targets. The host country, Germany, was conspicuous in its lack of progress reducing emissions, coupled with its long-term commitment to a high level of coal dependence while persisting with cutting back the role of nuclear power. A forest near the Belgian border is to be removed to make way for a large new lignite mine. The Spanish government, with over 20% of electricity from nuclear power, has halted plans to phase out coal there, and Poland has long resisted EU encouragement to reduce coal use. However, France has deferred indefinitely any move to reduce nuclear dependence from 75% to 50%, allowing it to phase out coal by about 2021.
WNN 13/11/17.  Climate change policies


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