Latest Updates - WNA Weekly Digests

Subscribe to WNA Weekly Digests emails

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

19 December 2014

Ukraine revokes Russian reactor contracts
Ukraine is in the process of revoking its 2010 intergovernmental agreement with Russia for completion of two Russian reactors at Khmelnitski, where construction ceased in 1990 when they were 75% and 28% complete. The agreement provided for Russia financing 85% of the $4.9 billion project, where construction was due to resume in 2015. The government is also preparing to amend corresponding domestic legislation for the construction by Atomstroyexport (now NIAEP-ASE). The prime minister earlier in the month reaffirmed the priority of completing Khmelnitski 3 & 4 by 2018.

Ukraine’s nuclear engineering options for completing the Khmelnitski reactors are constrained. Energomashspetsstal (EMSS) is a castings and forgings manufacturer in Donetsk with facilities upgraded in 2012, enabling it to make the forged components of large reactor pressure vessels. It earlier (to 1989) provided steam generators and reactor pressure vessels for large VVER units. It is a subsidiary of Russia’s Atomenergomash. JSC Turboatom at Kharkov is among the leading world turbine-building companies. However, both these enterprises are in the eastern area affected by political unrest. In 2008 Skoda JS in Czech Republic was asked to bid on the Khmelnitski 3-4 project, but did not do so, though it has much experience with the Russian VVER designs. It is owned by Russia’s OMZ Group.
WNN 17/12/14. Ukraine

New Chinese reactor in commercial operation
The first Fangjiashan reactor near Shanghai has entered commercial operation, soon after grid connection last month. It is a CPR-1000 unit operated by CNNC. Unit 2 is ten months behind, and the two will effectively extend the Qinshan nuclear power plant to nine reactors and 6540 MWe. The $4.2 billion project (both reactors) uses locally-made reactor pressure vessels and Alstom Arabelle low-speed turbine generators made by Donfang Electric Group. It is 80% localised overall.
WNN 16/12/14. China NP

International resolve on medical moly
Through its Nuclear Energy Agency, eleven countries have presented a joint declaration to the OECD Council, providing a coordinated political commitment to security of supply of molybdenum-99. This will involve development of new infrastructure to replace ageing facilities used for its production, and full cost recovery in that production. Mo-99 provides the widely used medical diagnostic radioisotope, technetium-99m, for hospitals. Over 40 million Tc-99m procedures are undertaken each year. The committing countries are Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, South Korea, Russia, Spain, the UK and the USA. Australia’s new Mo-99 facility is under construction and will provide 25-30% of world demand.
WNN 18/12/14. Radioisotopes in medicine

Other papers significantly updated in the WNA Information Library (see WNA web site): South Korea, India.

12 December 2014

 New Russian reactor starts up
Unit 3 at the Rostov nuclear power plant has started up. Original construction (as Volgodonsk) started in 1983 but it then lapsed. With a new construction licence for an upgraded V-320 design, building of unit 3 resumed in September 2009, followed by its twin in June 2010. Ukraine's Turboatom provided the low-speed turbine generators for both units. They will be 1011 MWe net.
WNN 8/12/14. Russia NP

US government renews loan guarantee offer
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has made a second-round offer to award $10.5 billion loan guarantees for new nuclear power projects, and $2 billion for fuel cycle projects. This is essentially for the unallocated portion of its initial solicitation in 2008. While that attracted 19 applications from 17 utilities totalling $122 billion, only $6.5 billion was granted, with $1.8 billion still pending, all of that just for the Vogtle plant.

The program, set up in the Energy Policy Act 2005, has been criticised for being too focused on project-based finance rather than corporate finance, and DOE has faced opposition from other federal agencies, including the Office of Management and Budget, Department of Labor, and the Federal Financing Bank which have brought the program for nuclear capacity to an effective standstill. However, the industry considers the loan guarantee program is “an essential and indispensable financing platform,” since new nuclear plants—at $7 billion to $8 billion per gigawatt—are enormous undertakings relative to the size of even the largest electric companies. The Nuclear Energy Institute says that the loan guarantee program should be a permanent financing platform endowed with substantial permanent loan authority.

The $10.5 billion offer is for advanced nuclear energy projects, notably advanced nuclear reactors; small modular reactors; uprates and upgrades at existing facilities; and $2 billion is for advanced nuclear facilities for the front-end of the nuclear fuel cycle, notably enrichment. Applications are due by 18 March 2015. This is the fourth currently open solicitation from the DOE loan program office, alongside solicitations for projects for advanced fossil energy, renewable and efficient energy, and advanced technology vehicle manufacturing.
WNN 11/12/14. US policy

Russia keen to help India with nuclear power expansion
Russia is offering to help India build more than 20 new nuclear power reactors, according to a strategic nuclear cooperation agreement signed this week. It also envisages cooperation in building Russian-designed nuclear power plants in third countries, in uranium mining, production of nuclear fuel, and waste management. India has agreed to confirm a second site for a Russian nuclear power plant, beyond the expansion of Kudankulam. According to Rosatom, "the foundation had been laid for at least 12 units to be put into operation within 20 years."
WNN 11/12/14. India

Other papers significantly updated in the WNA Information Library (see WNA web site): Chernobyl accident, Safety of nuclear plants, Radioisotopes in industry, China NP, Russia fuel cycle, Fast reactors, MOX.

5 December 2014

Finland’s parliament approves new nuclear plant
Plans for a sixth nuclear reactor in Finland have been approved in a 115 to 74 vote of Finland’s parliament. The Hanhikivi project involves a Russian AES-2006 power plant with 1200 MWe reactor from Atomproekt in St Petersburg. Rosatom is committed to 34% equity in Fennovoima, the project company, and is to arrange finance for the whole project. At present 55.5% of Fennovoima is spoken for by over 40 Finnish companies, and Fortum, with majority state ownership, has put up its hand to fill out the Finnish share to 66%.
WNN 5/12/14. Finland

Major German utility bales out of conventional generation
E.On, with revenues of €122 billion in 2013, has announced that it will spin off all its conventional generation assets in nuclear, coal- and gas-fired power generation so as to concentrate on renewables, which currently contribute only 6.6% of revenues and 11% of production (almost half of this being hydro). In its European context it perceives the need to focus separately on intermittent renewables nurtured by subsidies, along with distribution networks and “customer solutions”, and in the divested New Company on high-CO2 but profitable coal, very unprofitable gas, and nuclear power. The New Company will incorporate most of its assets, but with lower growth potential than becoming an agent of German government ideology. “These two missions are so fundamentally different that two separate, distinctly focused companies offer the best prospects for the future.”

The slimmed-down E.On “will tap the growth potential created by the transformation of the energy world” in “a bold new beginning” and will place “particular emphasis on expanding its wind business in Europe and other selected target markets” from its present 5700 MWe. The new company will inherit 8.2 GWe of nuclear capacity in Germany and Sweden, 14 GWe of coal-fired capacity throughout Europe and 25 GWe of gas-fired plant throughout Europe which is underutilised. It will be “a solid, independent company that will safeguard security of supply for the [energy] transformation” bandwagon which E.On is joining, with the implication that governments will need to allow its profitable functioning.

In Germany, E.On has significant equity in eleven of the 17 nuclear units, including four that are already shut down. In Sweden, E.On Sverige has equity in all the plants, ranging from 54.5% down to 8.5%, and despite some rhetoric these appear set to run for many years.
E.ON 30/11/14. EU, Germany, Sweden

Other papers significantly updated in the WNA Information Library (see WNA web site): Clean coal, Advanced reactors, China NP, Russia NP

28 November 2014

 Japan joins international liability convention
In line with a 2013 undertaking by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and confirmed in the 4th Basic Energy Plan adopted in April 2014, a bill to ratify the IAEA’s Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC) has been passed by both houses of parliament, along with amended domestic compensation laws. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs can now file a formal document with the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency so that Japan becomes the sixth member country of CSC, enabling it to enter force globally (having been set up in 1997). Hitherto Japan has relied on domestic laws, which are broadly in line with international conventions. The focus will now be on wider adoption of the CSC.
WNN 20/11/14. Japan, Liability for nuclear damage

Turkey turns to China for third nuclear plant
Turkey’s state generation company Elektrik Uretim AS (EUAS) has signed an agreement with the State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC) of China and Westinghouse to begin exclusive negotiations to develop and construct a four-unit nuclear power plant in Turkey. No site was specified. As well as Westinghouse-based passive reactor technology, either AP1000 or CAP1400, the agreement also covers all life cycle activities including operations, nuclear fuel, maintenance, engineering, plant services and decommissioning. SNPTC was responsible for introducing Westinghouse technology into China, and has developed it further. Eight AP1000 units are under construction in China and USA.

This will be the third 4-unit nuclear power plant in Turkey, after Akkuyu being built by Russia on the Mediterranean coast, and Sinop on the Black Sea to be built by a Japanese-French consortium.
WNN 24/11/14. Turkey

Plans for four more South Korean reactors
The government has announced plans for two more APR1400 reactors for the Shin Hanul plant at Ulchin, and two at a new site, Yeongdeok. These are likely to be be the new 1500 MWe APR+. In respect to the Shin Hanul units, the Prime Minister said that “This deal will serve as a new landmark for resolving energy supplies and regional problems together. Nuclear power is an unavoidable choice for the country given its poor natural resources, manufacture-focused economic structure and duty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” he said. “This is why the government has decided to maintain the nuclear share of the country’s energy mix at 29%.”
WNN 21/11/14. South Korea

BHP flags new expansion for Olympic Dam
In a general announcement about productivity, BHP Billiton has flagged a 27% increase in copper production at Olympic Dam from 2018, and a doubling from that level subsequently by “a low-risk underground expansion with significantly lower capital intensity than the previous open cut design. This has the potential to deliver over 450,000 tonnes of copper production a year at first quartile C1 costs by the middle of next decade”. The uranium implications are not mentioned, but assuming the same ore as today, it would mean 4200 tU from 2018 and some 8000 tU in mid 2020s – equivalent to Canada’s McArthur River.
WNN 26/11/14. Australian U mines

Other papers significantly updated in the WNA Information Library (see WNA web site): USA nuclear power, France, Finland, China NP, Pakistan, Transmission grids