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Recent developments with links to updated WNA Public Information Service Papers. For previous items from Weekly Digest see archive menu.
23 May 2013
Vattenfall announces major upgrading investment in Sweden
Vattenfall has announced plans to invest SEK16 billion (EUR 1.87 billion) from now to 2017 in modernizing and upgrading the Forsmark and Ringhals nuclear power plants in Sweden. It is majority owner of both – 66% and 70% respectively. With the two operating companies it will examine the additional investments needed to operate the three Forsmark units and Ringhals 3 & 4 for up to 60 years. The other two Ringhals reactors are expected to run for 50 years. OKG, which owns Oskarshamn, expects units 2 & 3 there to run for 60 years, following recent and ongoing upgrades. This means that most of the country’s present nuclear capacity will run until the mid 2020s, and half until 2040 or later.
WNN 23/5/13. Sweden
Terrorists target Niger uranium mine
Areva’s uranium mine at Arlit in northern Niger has been attacked with a 4WD car bomb as employees reported for work early on 23 May, damaging the plant as well as killing one and injuring about 14 people. The SOMAIR operation is 64% owned by Areva and 36% by the Niger government. It has operated since 1971, and it produced 3065 tonnes of uranium last year from several deposits. The jihadist MUJAO group claimed responsibility for the attack, in retaliation for military involvement in neighbouring Mali. Another target attacked shortly before was a military barracks in the main northern town of Agadez, where 18 soldiers and a civilian were killed. Rebel groups have previously targeted overseas uranium workers in Niger. Four French workers were kidnapped and later released in 2008, while four French nationals including an Areva employee among a group of seven who were kidnapped from Arlit in 2010 remain in captivity. The SOMAIR mine operation is 250 km north of Agadez.
WNN 23/5/13. Niger
Other papers significantly updated in the WNA Information Library (see WNA web site): World uranium mine production, South Korea, Russia fuel cycle, Canada uranium
9 & 16 May 2013
Brazil and Argentina plan new research reactors
Argentina’s INVAP company has been awarded contracts to build a new research reactor in Argentina and the Brazil Multipurpose Reactor (RMB) there. Australia’s OPAL reactor, built to an INVAP design, is the reference design for both. The two reactors will be used for the production of medical radioisotopes, as well as irradiation tests of advanced nuclear fuel and materials, and neutron beam research. Under a related contract signed last year, Brazil's Intertechne is developing the conceptual and basic design of buildings, systems and infrastructure for the RMB. It will be built in the municipality of Iperó in São Paulo state and is due to start operating in 2018. The location and schedule of the Argentine RA-10 unit has not been announced. The double research reactor project is part of the growing bilateral cooperation in nuclear energy between Argentina and Brazil.
WNN 9/5/13. Brazil, Argentina
US reactor decommissioned
Dominion Energy’s Kewaunee nuclear power plant, comprising a single PWR unit delivering 566 MWe, has been shut down for decommissioning. It had operated from 1974 and was now considered uneconomic in the company’s Midwest generation portfolio. The plant’s 121 fuel assemblies are being removed and it will then by placed in SAFSTOR pending full demolition in about 40 year time. The decommissioning is fully funded from progressive payments over 39 years. The plant closure reduces US reactor numbers to 102, delivering 101 GWe net.
WNN 7/5/13. US NP
Westinghouse forges further China alliances
In the context of its first new-generation reactors being built in China, and hot on the heels of establishing a major Chinese joint venture to develop an international supply chain for those reactors, Westinghouse is embracing its Chinese partner in developing its small modular reactor. That partner is the State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC), which has been responsible for the selection of Westinghouse technology as the mainstay of China’s nuclear future.
SNPTC-WEC Nuclear Power Technical Services (Beijing) Co Ltd was set up this month as a joint venture of SNPTC and Westinghouse to develop the global AP1000 supply chain. It will initially assist Chinese manufacturing companies in meeting quality and safety standards for supplying equipment and components for AP1000 plants in the country's build program, but in the longer term it aims to help qualified Chinese suppliers export their products around the world, as well as assist global suppliers in importing their parts to China.
Now, Westinghouse has announced that it will work with SNPTC to accelerate design development and licensing in the USA and China of its 225 MWe small modular reactor (SMR). SNPTC will ensure that the Westinghouse SMR design meets standards for licensing in China and will lead the licensing effort in that country. At home in USA, Westinghouse is working with Ameren Missouri to obtain a combined construction and operating license for up to five Westinghouse SMRs at the utility's Callaway site, and is seeking government funding to expedite development of the design.
WNN 14/5/13, Platts 16/5/13. China NP, China organisations
Other papers significantly updated in the WNA Information Library (see WNA web site): Economics, Fukushima accident
2 May 2013
Turkey homes in on Franco-Japanese bid for second nuclear plant
A $22 billion bid by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Areva to build the Sinop nuclear power plant on the Black Sea coast has been broadly accepted and an agreement signed for “exclusive negotiating rights to build a nuclear power plant”. The plant would comprise four Atmea1 reactors of 1150 MWe, a model developed by the two companies since 2007. These would probably be the first Atmea ones built, with construction starting in 2017, and operation from 2023. The Atmea1 is designed for load-following and uses the same steam generators as Areva’s large EPR (but 3 instead of 4). GdF Suez, which operates seven nuclear reactors in Belgium, is to be the operator. State generation company Elektrik Uretim AS is expected to take a 25% share in the project company. However, sovereign guarantees regarding power offtake are not on offer, though these were a feature of the agreement with Rosatom to build the 4800 MWe Akkuyu nuclear plant on the Mediterranean coast.
WNN 3/5/13. Turkey
China moves forward with fuel recycling plans
A new high-level agreement between China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and Areva sets out the technical specifications of a planned 800 t/yr reprocessing plant for used fuel, together with the project’s organization between the partners. The new agreement follows on from a November 2007 one. The reprocessing plant will feed a mixed oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication plant, and will be located north of Jiayuguan in Gansu province, to operate from 2025.
Also, on the back of 2007 and 2008 agreements among Areva, EdF and China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group (CGNPC) for two Areva EPR reactors, which are nearing completion at Taishan, the three have signed a tripartite agreement for “deeper industrial and commercial cooperation” in building new nuclear power plants and improving all CGNPC units. The statement of cooperation cements relationships among two of the world's biggest generators of nuclear power and the provider of the technology on which their power plants are based. With 73 units in France, EdF remains the world's largest nuclear utility, while CGNPC has seven reactors in operation now, 17 under construction and more planned for the future. Most of these are pressurized water reactors with Areva origins.
WNN 26/4/13. China fuel cycle, China NP
Japan’s utilities post losses due to continuing nuclear shutdown
Seven of Japan's regional utilities have posted combined losses of
¥1.6 trillion (US$ 16 billion) for the year ended March 31, marking the second consecutive year of such losses. The weaker yen (down 12% this year) has raised costs to import fossil fuels for electricity generation while most nuclear reactors remain shut down. The losses may lead to higher residential and business power rates or approaching the government for assistance, as the utilities look for ways to gain financial stability. Some utilities, including Tepco, Kansai and Kyushu have already responded with price increases for customers, which the government approved from May. Utilities are hopeful that reactors can be restarted by the end of September, following the publication of new safety regulations in July.
Reuters & TradeTech NMR 30/4/13. Japan
Other papers significantly updated in the WNA Information Library (see WNA web site): Reactor table, US U Mines, China NP, China fuel cycle, S.Korea, Advanced reactors