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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 February 2015

 New South Korean reactor comes on line
The last of South Korea’s 1000-MWe class reactors, Shin Wolsong 2, has been connected to the grid. It is expected to be in commercial operation in July. Construction started in 2008, but its completion was delayed by the need to replace sub-standard cabling.

Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) has built ten of these OPR-1000 reactors, which have come on line since 1998. They are based on Westinghouse technology, and eight similar predecessors have been running since 1985-96. The other four Wolsong units are Canadian Candu types. The four reactors remaining under construction are APR-1400 types, the same as KHNP’s parent company is building in United Arab Emirates at the Barakah plant. In South Korea, four planned units are the same, then the next four are to be more advanced APR+ types of 1500 MWe.
WNN 26/2/15. South Korea

Stand-off continues in Belgium
GDF Suez remains locked in earnest negotiation with the Belgian government over whether its two oldest Doel reactors will continue in service for another decade. While the government has agreed in principle to a ten-year licence extension for them, the company is unwilling to invest up to €700 million in the necessary upgrades unless the government gives some ground to provide a “clear legal and economic framework” to justify this. Negotiations include removal of the nuclear generation tax introduced by a previous government, which cost the company €397 million last year. Doel 1 was shut down precisely when its 40-year licence expired in mid February. The company says that it has ordered new fuel for Doel 1 and it could be restarted by the end of the year if agreement is reached with the government on a viable economic future for it.

At present unit 3 of Doel and unit 2 of Tihange are shut down pending resolution of uncertainties about the significance of flaws in their metal structure. The country depends on its seven nuclear reactors for about half its power. The plants are all operated by Electrabel, a GDF Suez subsidiary. The future of nuclear power in Belgium has been a political football for fifteen years, despite reasonably high public support.
WNN 12, 17 & 27/2/15. Belgium

Other papers significantly updated in the WNA Information Library (see WNA web site): Nuclear power in the world today, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Geology of U deposits, Australia’s U deposits, Radioactive waste – storage and disposal.

20 February 2015

 OECD calls for more than doubling nuclear capacity by 2050
Global nuclear power capacity must more than double by 2050 if global warming is to be limited, according to the 2015 Nuclear Technology Roadmap from the OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency and International Energy Agency. It asserts that “current trends in energy supply and use are unsustainable,” and “the fundamental advantages provided by nuclear energy in terms of reduction of GHG emissions, competitiveness of electricity production and security of supply still apply” (from the 2010 edition). It puts forward a 2050 carbon-limited energy mix scenario providing about 40,000 TWh in which 930 GWe of nuclear capacity supplies 17% of electricity but plays an important role beyond that. Annual nuclear plant connection rates would need to increase from 5 GWe in 2014 to more than 20 GWe.
WNN 29/1/15. World energy needs

Taiwan seeks bids for reprocessing used fuel
With used fuel pools at its two oldest nuclear power plants almost full, and construction of dry storage facilities obstructed by local government and legal challenge, Taipower has announced a tender for reprocessing 1200 BWR fuel assemblies from Chinshan (480) and Kuosheng (720) to test the feasibility of this as a general policy. Each plant has two reactors. The tender scope includes transport. A contract for the work is expected to cost up to $356 million. The USA has agreed to the used fuel being transported overseas for reprocessing, though the agreement specifies that all fissionable material will remain with the reprocessor with a view to being sold rather than repatriated. The separated high-level wastes would be returned, vitrified, within 20 years for disposal in Taiwan.

The only established reprocessing plant likely to bid is Areva’s La Hague plant in France, though Japan’s much-delayed Rokkasho plant is now expected to start operation early in 2016, albeit with a backlog of local demand. China’s commercial-scale reprocessing plant is not even under construction yet. The UK appears not to be soliciting further contracts for THORP at Sellafield.
WNN 19/2/15. Taiwan

Other papers significantly updated in the WNA Information Library (see WNA web site): Reactor table, Economics of NP, Energy analysis, Belgium, Renewable energy

6 & 13 February 2015

 South Australia considers nuclear industry potential
The Labor government in South Australia is setting up a royal commission into the potential for nuclear power in the state, which already produces two thirds of Australia’s uranium – all for export. The terms of reference are likely to include fuel cycle and high-level waste disposal. The inquiry is supported by the state Liberal opposition and the federal Liberal coalition government, but not by the federal Labor party (though it supports uranium mining). However a former Labor Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, has been vocal in support: “I’ve always said that ignorance is the enemy of good policy and a royal commission will establish discussion free of prejudice,’’ he said. The commission is to be headed by former governor of South Australia Kevin Scarce, who said that he had an open mind on the issue. Draft terms of reference are due to be released in March.

A previous Liberal coalition federal government commissioned a high-level inquiry into nuclear power and it reported positively in 2006. Its chairman, Dr Ziggy Switowski, said that the new inquiry was “timely for a number of reasons” and that “nuclear power still offers the greatest option in providing cost-effective, clean, base-load energy”.
WNN 9/215. Australia

Argentina signs up for Chinese reactor
Last year, Argentina’s Nuclearelectrica signed an agreement for China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) to build a Canadian-designed Candu 6 reactor as unit 3 of the Atucha nuclear power plant. Now a further agreement is for CNNC to build a Chinese 1000 MWe class PWR reactor in Argentina. This will evidently be a Hualong One type, and envisages the parties "establishing a joint strategic partnership for the purpose of developing and building nuclear reactors in Latin America," so that Argentina becomes a Latin American technology platform, supplying countries with nuclear technology incorporating Chinese goods and services. The new agreement aims for the signing of a framework contract for the project between CNNC and Nuclearelectrica by the end of 2015, for a commercial contract to be signed by the end of 2016, and a financing agreement also before the end of 2016. The Argentine President suggested that the reactor cost was likely to be $7 billion.
WNN 5/2/15. Argentina

Egypt moves ahead with nuclear power plans
After more than thirty years of deliberations and false starts, the last ten years being focused on Russian proposals, Rusatom Overseas and Egypt’s Nuclear Power Plant Authority (NPPA) have signed a project development agreement for a two-unit Russian power plant and desalination plant. Two intergovernmental agreements are now pending – one for nuclear power plant construction and one for financing. WorleyParsons has been advising the government on site selection and technology since mid 2009 under a $160 million contract. In October 2013 the Minister for Electricity & Energy reactivated earlier plans for El Dabaa on the Mediterranean coast 250 km west of Alexandria, and announced a site office there for the NPPA. As well as addressing power supplies, the NPPA earlier expected to have four nuclear desalination plants operating by 2025.
WNN 10/2/15. Emerging nuclear energy countries

Other papers significantly updated in the WNA Information Library (see WNA web site): Spain, Vietnam, US uranium mines, US nuclear fuel cycle, Economics of nuclear power.