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

10 & 17 August 2018

Two new Westinghouse reactors in China start up

The first AP1000 unit at Haiyang in Shandong province has started up and been connected to the grid. Sanmen unit 2 in Zhejiang province has also started up. Haiyang unit 2 there is only about two months behind unit 1, with fuel loading having commenced.  The first AP1000 reactor at Sanmen in Zhejiang province was grid-connected in June and has now reached full power. Each of these reactors is 1157 MWe net.
WNN 9 & 17/8/18.  China NP

US reactor construction on new schedule

Following the reorganization of construction due to the Westinghouse chapter 11 bankruptcy, Southern Nuclear has announced good progress on Vogtle 3 & 4 AP1000 reactors with no further slippage of schedule, but a significant $2.5 billion increase in cost to $18.4 billion, or more by some accounts.  The two reactors are expected in operation in November 2021 and November 2022.  Southern Nuclear is project manager, and Bechtel is now the main contractor. The finalizing of Bechtel contracts confirmed the cost increase. An immediate concern is shortage of qualified labour for the project, notably electricians. More than 7000 workers are on site.  However, the other partners in the project, notably Oglethorpe Power and MEAG Power, now need to confirm their commitment to proceeding in the light of increased cost.
WNN 9/8/18. US NP

World nuclear performance report 2018 published

The World Nuclear Association’s annual Nuclear Performance Report indicates good performance by nearly 400 GWe of reactors in 2017. Global nuclear electricity output was 2506 TWh, continuing a steady increase. The average capacity factor globally stood at 81%, maintaining the high availability of the last two decades. There were 59 reactors under construction at the end of 2017. The median average construction time for the reactors grid connected last year (in China and Pakistan) was 58 months. There are 25 reactors due for completion in 2018 and 2019, and six of these have already been grid-connected in 2018.  However, new projects are needed to maintain and accelerate nuclear build so that nuclear generation can meet the Harmony goal of supplying 25% of the world's global electricity by 2050.
WNN 16/8/18.

South Koreans affirm priority of nuclear power

A poll by the Korean Nuclear Society showed more than 71% of respondents supporting the use of nuclear energy in South Korea, with 26% against it. The survey also found that more than two thirds thought the government should expand or maintain the use of nuclear power plants, while less than 30% said the country should reduce its reliance on nuclear power, in line with government policy.
WNN 16/8/18.  South Korea

27 July & 3 August 2018

Westinghouse emerges from bankruptcy protection

After 17 months under US ‘Chapter 11’ bankruptcy protection, the Canadian asset management company Brookfield and its partners have completed the purchase of the restructured company from Japan’s Toshiba Corporation for about $4 billion.  Westinghouse retains a high profile in the nuclear industry.  Its nuclear fuel and operating plant businesses have revenue of about $3 billion per year.

The company had encountered significant "financial and construction challenges" in its US AP1000 power plant projects. Beyond supplying the technology as reactor vendor, it took over construction functions in 2015 by purchasing CBI Stone & Webster. This led to a major write-down by parent company Toshiba for cost overruns on the four US reactors, which were due to start up in 2019 and 2020. Only two of these continue under construction, at the Vogtle plant in Georgia, with completion now expected late in 2021 and 2022.  Southern Nuclear Operating Company has taken over project management at Vogtle, leaving Westinghouse simply as vendor, though supporting the project and providing access to intellectual property. Bechtel has taken over from CBI as construction manager. All the heavy plant components were made in Japan and South Korea. The total project cost is now estimated at about $19 billion.

China is building four AP1000 reactors, albeit with little direct involvement by Westinghouse. The first of these, at Sanmen, in now operating. The cost of each pair is put at about CNY 50 billion ($7.3 billion).  For the fourth unit, about 70% of the heavy components were made by local supply chain companies, which now have capacity to produce 6-8 sets of equipment per year for AP1000 and other large nuclear plants. China has plans for many more reactors based on AP1000.
WNN 2/8/18.  US NP

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