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

13 April 2018

Licensing for new US nuclear power plant

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved the issuance of combined construction and operating licences (COLs) for two proposed AP1000 reactors at Florida Power and Light's (FPL's) Turkey Point plant in Florida. FPL applied in 2009 for a combined construction and operating licence for the two reactors adjacent to its units 3 & 4 there. Last month it filed an application for a second licence renewal for those units 3 & 4, which would take their operating lives out to 80 years, to 2052 and 2053. FPL will delay any final decision whether to proceed with the two new AP1000 reactors until towards the mid 2020s.
WNN 6/4/18.  US NP

Ten-year legal contest over Finnish reactor resolved

With the building of a large new reactor in Finland running ten years late and greatly over budget, the question of financial liability between supplier and customer has loomed large. As it may for other projects elsewhere in the world.

In December 2003 Teollisuuden Voima Oy (TVO) signed a €3.2 billion turnkey contract with Areva NP and Siemens for the first Areva 1650 MWe EPR unit, to be built at Olkiluoto alongside two existing reactors, with commercial operation expected in mid 2009. Construction started in May 2005 but delays were encountered, particularly on the reactor section.  Siemens and its subcontractor supplied the turbine section much quicker. Grid connection is now expected in December 2018 and commercial operation in May 2019. The cost overrun is considerable.

The parties turned to the International Chamber of Commerce in Stockholm in 2008 to arbitrate on the question of who should pay for additional costs arising. The Areva-Siemens consortium claimed €3.52 billion against TVO in relation to the delay and cost overruns of the project. TVO counterclaimed for 2.6 billion for costs and losses. The ICC arbiters favoured TVO in two partial rulings and “rejected the great majority of the supplier's contentions”, but did not rule on compensation. TVO has now announced that it has agreed with Areva for that company to pay €450 million in compensation for the project’s delay, €328 million immediately and the balance when the unit goes into service, or by the end of 2019 at the latest.  The agreement also provides a €150 million incentive payment to Areva if the unit is completed on time, to be in full operation by May 2019, and up to €400 million penalty to TVO if it isn’t.

Olkiluoto 3 was the world’s first EPR to start construction and it was followed by Flamanville 3 in France, then two Taishan units in China. This week fuel was being loaded into the first Taishan unit, and Flamanville was grappling with quality assurance questions on welding.
WNN 12/3/18.   Finland

6 April 2018

Construction start for first Turkish nuclear power plant

Immediately following a construction licence from the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority, first concrete was poured for the first of four Russian VVER-1200 reactors at Akkuyu, on Turkey’s eastern Mediterranean coast.  The presidents of both Russia and Turkey participated in the ceremony by video link from Ankara, Mr Putin stressing that “the successful implementation of this project will be a symbol of the dynamic, progressive development of Russian-Turkish interaction and partnership, Russian-Turkish friendship." The $25 billion project is expected to provide about one tenth of Turkey’s electricity and reduce reliance on imports. The first unit is due on line in 2023 on the 100th anniversary of founding the Republic of Turkey.

Site works at Akkuyu have been underway since about 2014.  Russia’s Novovoronezh II is the reference design, with its first unit grid-connected 18 months ago. The project company, JSC Akkuyu Nuklear, is a subsidiary of Rosatom, and this is its first foreign nuclear plant on a build-own-operate (BOO) basis. Turkey’s state power company will buy 70% of the power from the first unit at US$ 123.50 per MWh for 15 years.  A consortium of three Turkish companies which were set to take a 49% share in the project pulled out early this year. Rosatom says that 35-40% of construction work will be localised.
WNN 3/4/18.  Turkey

US merchant generator files for bankruptcy

FirstEnergy's merchant arm, FirstEnergy Solutions (FES), owner of its three nuclear power plants, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. The parent company said that this was a milestone in its "previously announced strategy to exit the competitive generation business and become a fully regulated utility company with a stronger balance sheet, solid cash flows and more predictable earnings." Included in the filing is 10,200 MWe of generating capacity largely comprising 5,400 MWe in three large coal-fired plants and 4,048 MWe in three nuclear plants with four reactors - Davis-Besse and Perry in Ohio and Beaver Valley in Pennsylvania, all operated by FES’s First Energy Nuclear Operating Co (FENOC).  FES said that it had sufficient liquidity to continue normal operations while its problems are sorted out.

FES earlier announced that it intended to close down its three nuclear generating stations in 2020 and 2021 because they were unprofitable in the current market with low-cost gas and subsidised wind power. The company called on “elected officials in Ohio and Pennsylvania to consider policy solutions that would recognize the importance of these facilities to the employees and local economies in which they operate, and the unique role they play in providing reliable, zero-emission electric power for consumers in both states [and so to] make it feasible to continue to operate these plants in the future.” In particular FirstEnergy proposed that on a plant-by-plant basis, coal-fired and nuclear generators should negotiate with the grid company for “just and reasonable cost-based rates that provide for full cost recovery”, similar to the arrangement in regulated markets.
WNN 3/4/18.  USA NP

23 & 30 March 2018

New reactor in UAE completed

Construction completion of the UAE’s first nuclear power reactor at Barakah has been marked ceremonially on site by the President of South Korea and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. It is the first of four APR-1400 units built by a consortium led by the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) for the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation.  Fuel loading is planned for May and an operating licence is expected mid-year. The other three units are 92%, 81% and 67% complete respectively.  Together they will provide about one quarter of UAE’s electricity, replacing imported gas.

The South Korean president said the UAE has agreed to cooperate with South Korea in efforts to win orders for nuclear power plant construction projects in Saudi Arabia.
WNN 26/3/18.  UAE

Further reactor restart in Japan

Kyushu Electric Power Co. has restarted its 1180 MWe Genkai 3 reactor and reconnected it to the electricity grid. Commercial operation is expected in April. Unit 4 is expected to restart in May. Kyushu’s application to confirm both reactors’ conformity with new safety requirements following the Fukushima accident was filed in July 2013, and NRA commissioners approved the two units' safety in January 2017. Loading of fuel, including MOX, took place in February this year.  Kansai expects to start its Ohi 4 in May. This will bring to four the number of similar large PWR reactors back in service, additional to the five 870-890 MWe ones. No boiling water reactors have yet been restarted.  Applications have been made for 25 of the 40 operational reactors - 9 PWR, 2 ABWR and 7 BWR are pending.

Shikoku has announced that it will decommission its Ikata 2 reactor rather than spend a lot of money upgrading it. To return it to service and extend its operating lifetime from 40 to 60 years would require a huge investment for the safety measures required to comply with Japan’s new regulatory standards. This brings forward its planned closure from 2022, and removes 538 MWe net from potential restarts. It will be the ninth old reactor decommissioned in the last four years, seven of them smaller ones.

Nuclear energy is expected to account for 20-22% of Japan's power generation in 2030, with a similar portion coming from renewable sources. The remainder of the country's power generation will be met by coal (26%), LNG (27%), hydro and other renewables (about 22%) and oil (3%), according to Japan's latest energy policy.
WNN 23 & 27/3/18.  Japan NP

International Energy Agency flags increased emissions

The OECD’s International Energy Agency (IEA) has reported for 2017 the first real increase in carbon dioxide emissions for four years, a 1.4% increase to reach 32.5 billion tonnes. It attributed this to “robust global economic growth of 3.7%, lower fossil fuel prices and weaker energy efficiency efforts”. Energy demand worldwide increased by 2.1% in 2017, according to IEA preliminary estimates, compared with 0.9% for several years prior.  Fossil fuels met 70% of the growth in demand.  "The growth in energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2017 is a strong warning for global efforts to combat climate change, and demonstrates that current efforts are insufficient to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement," the IEA said.  World electricity demand grew by 3.1% to 25,570 TWh last year, significantly higher than the overall increase in energy demand. China and India accounted for 70% of this increase. Nuclear generation accounted for 10% of global power production last year, up 3% relative to 2016.
WNN 22/3/18.   Climate change policy


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