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

7 & 14 April

Second Russian reactor in India starts commercial operation

Kudankulam 2, a 917 MWe (net) Russian VVER reactor, has started commercial operation. It was grid-connected in August, after long drawn-out construction. It was built by the National Power Corporation of India, and unlike other Atomstroyexport projects such as in Iran, there was only a maximum of 80 Russian supervisory staff on the project.  This resulted in a slow learning curve as Indian engineers adapted to the PWR design from Canadian-type PHWR experience. Russia is supplying all the enriched fuel through the life of the plant, though India will reprocess it and keep the plutonium for civil use. The plant is under international safeguards.  The project to build units 3 & 4 at the site was officially launched last October, but they are not yet under construction. They will be substantially the same as units 1 & 2.
WNN 3/4/17.   India

New Pakistan reactor starts up

Chashma 4 in the Punjab achieved first criticality ahead of schedule in March, and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission chairman says it will be grid-connected by May. Its twin started commercial operation last year – they are 340 MWe CNP-300 reactors. Both have been built by China Zhongyuan Engineering Corp (CZEC), a subsidiary of China National Nuclear Corporation. China provided 82% of the total US$ 1.912 billion financing as three 20-year low-interest loans.  It is also providing fuel for the reactors’ lifetime, nominally of 40 years. An IAEA safeguards agreement for the two reactors came into force in 2011.    Pakistan

US – Japan operator joint venture

Exelon Generation in USA and Japan Atomic Power Company (JAPC) have formed a joint venture company "to leverage Exelon's expertise in operational excellence and safety among international operators using Japanese reactor technologies". The new company, JExel Nuclear, is expected to sign an "advisory services" contract with Horizon Nuclear Power – Hitachi-GE's UK subsidiary that is planning to build two of its Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWRs) at Wylfa Newydd in Wales. The three companies had signed a technical services contract last July, and in February Horizon announced an operating partnership with Exelon, which has 19,460 MWe of nuclear capacity in 22 units, including eight BWRs. JAPC has long operating experience and 2170 MWe of nuclear capacity in two units, and two 1500 MWe units planned. The 50:50 JExel Nuclear joint venture widens the present cooperative base internationally, and will be based in Japan.  It will strengthen Horizon’s credentials in UK for prospective operation of the new Wylfa Newydd plant.
WNN 29/3/17.     USA, UK, Japan

24 & 31 March

Another US state moves to support continued nuclear viability

Connecticut’s Energy & Technology Committee has approved a bill supporting the continued operation of Dominion’s Millstone plant in that deregulated market by introducing long-term wholesale contracts for power producers. The bill "would expand the state's existing renewable electricity procurements to nuclear power by directing state regulators to solicit up to half of the facility's annual generation (ie 8.33 TWh) for five-year power purchase agreements”. A figure of 950 MWe was also mentioned. A similar bill was unanimously approved by the state Senate last year but did not receive a vote in the House of Representatives before the legislature adjourned.  Millstone 2 & 3 have combined capacity of 2123 MWe net and are licensed to 2035 and 2045 respectively.

Also, Pennsylvania has set up a bipartisan, bicameral nuclear energy caucus to secure the role of nuclear energy in the state, where it provides 37% of the electricity and contributes $2.3 billion to the state GDP.
WNN 23/3/17.   US NP

US presidential executive order on energy independence

President Trump has signed an Energy Independence Policy executive order which aims to roll back the 2015 EPA Clean Power Plan and calls for the EPA to review the Plan to remove what may “unduly burden the development of domestic energy resources”. The impact of this will not be immediate, and may be more in tone than substance. The review will take several years under notice and comment rulemaking processes, and the main timeline under the Plan was 2029 in any case. Nuclear energy is likely to be unaffected directly. US electricity should be "affordable, reliable, safe, secure, and clean,” evidently in that order of priority. The executive order rescinded several climate change measures but did not mention the 2016 Paris climate change agreement, which the new Administration considers to be essentially a treaty that needs to be ratified by the Senate.
WNN 29/3/17.     US NP

Westinghouse files for US bankruptcy protection

Westinghouse has sought ‘Chapter 11’ protection from creditors in USA to enable strategic restructuring amid "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 $6.1 billion write-down by parent company Toshiba for cost overruns on the four US reactors, which were due to start up in 2019 and 2020. The owners are negotiating means of completing the units.
WNN 29/3/17.  US NP

Progress towards UK reactor construction

After several years review, the Office of Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency have issued Design Acceptance Confirmation and Statement of Design Acceptability for the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor, three of which are planned to be built at Moorside by NuGeneration. Westinghouse said that this "expands the global regulatory pedigree of the AP1000 plant design and further confirms Westinghouse's innovative safety technology”.

The UK Office of Nuclear Regulation has issued a licence for placement of the first structural concrete for the 'technical galleries' of the Hinkley Point C plant. These are a series of underground reinforced concrete structures, and some above-ground structures, but not the main basemat, which is due mid 2019, and will mark proper construction start.
WNN 28 & 30/3/17.   UK

Other papers significantly updated in the WNA Information Library (see WNA web site): Economics of nuclear power, Russia NP, Jordan, Small reactors

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