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Reactors rising globally outside of Asia

New builds advance in UAE, Brazil, and Switzerland

Aluminum smelterIn December it became abundantly clear that the nuclear renaissance does exist outside of Asia. Progress was reported in the Middle East, South America, and Europe. There was even some movement of sorts in the U.S.

The UAE and Brazil have in common the need for electricity to power their aluminum industries. The smelters use enormous amounts of electricity. Brazil is a leading producer and the UAE wants to build a manufacturing complex to export finished products moving up the value chain from simply mining ore.

UAE files construction license for first two of four planned reactors

(NucNet) The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) announced it filed the construction license application for Braka-1 and Braka-2 – the first nuclear units planned in the UAE – with the United Arab Emirates Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR). The action lays to rest industry rumors that the UAE was dissatisfied with progress on the project.

According to a tentative schedule published by ENEC, Braka-1 will start commercial operation in 2017 and unit 2 in 2018. The reactors will supply electricity to develop its aluminum deposits,for desalination plants using reverse osmosis technology, and to keep the lights on in the UAE’s bustling economy. he country will phase out the use of natural gas for these purposes once the reactors are online.

The submittal of the 9,000-page document follows a year-long process in which ENEC and the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), the prime contractor for the proposed units, documented the safety case for the plant, as well as the proposed site, Braka, in the western region of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

The application is based substantially on the safety analysis done for Shin-Kori units 3 and 4 in South Korea, the “reference plant” for the UAE’s new build program.

ENEC said the “reference plant” concept is a fundamental part of its procurement, construction and operations strategy. It ensures that KEPCO will build a plant that is essentially the same as the reference plant. It will be supplemented with changes required to adapt to the UAE climatic conditions.

ENEC said this philosophy had enabled it to prepare and submit the license application only one year after the contract to build the two units was awarded to KEPCO. The submittal starts FANR’s review process, which ENEC expects will involve requests for additional information.

The license application development process was also examined by ENEC’s nuclear safety review board, a group of industry experts appointed earlier this year to review the safety and effectiveness of the construction, startup and operations of the new build program. The board is chaired by Dale Klein, a former chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ENEC also said it planned to submit a construction license application for Braka-3 and Braka-4 in 2012, with those units expected to begin commercial operation in 2019 and 2020.

The value of the KEPCO contract to build all four units has been put at $40 billion (about 27 billion euro). According to the deal, KEPCO will build four 1,400 MW nuclear reactors in the UAE by 2020.

Brazil plans four new nuclear sites, funds it’s third

Angra3_impression (Eletronuclear)World Nuclear News reported Jan 10 that Brazil’s new minister of mines and energy, Edison Lobao, said the government plans to give approval by the end of 2011 for the construction of four new nuclear power plants in the country.

However, he didn’t say how much generating capacity would be built or which reactor designs would be selected for the project. Previous energy plans have called for up to six 1,000 MW reactors at several locations. A preliminary schedule calls for two new nuclear power stations to enter revenue service by 2021 and another two by 2025.

Two Brazilian government agencies are reported to looking at sites to host the nuclear power stations. It is likely one or more of the reactors will be built to supply electricity to the nation’s aluminum plants. Brazil is the sixth largest primary aluminum producer, preceded by China, Russia, Canada, United States and Australia. It leads the world in recycling aluminum products.

By the time Brazil is ready to commit to building the new reactors, China could be exporting 1,000 MW reactors that it claims it will be able to build in 52-months for a fourth of the price of new units elsewhere. Brazil will have an incentive to look for cost savings given the escalating costs of completing its third reactor.

NucNet reports the Brazilian national development bank BNDES has approved 6.1 billion Brazilian reais (3.6 billion US dollars, 2.7 billion euro) of financing for the construction of the country’s third nuclear unit, Angra-3.

The 20-year loan will cover about 60% of the total costs of the project, estimated at $5.9 billion, BNDES said in a statement. The reactor will generate 1,200 MW of electricity bringing the cost in at a pricey $4,800/Kw. The reactor is expected to have a 60-year service life.

Eletronuclear, the nuclear unit of state-controlled utility Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras, is building the unit in the municipality of Angra dos Reis, close to the city of Rio de Janeiro.

In its own statement confirming the funding, Eletronuclear said the loan will be supplemented by $2.13 billion in loans from banks outside Brazil.

Construction of the Angra-3 unit was started in 1984 and halted in 1986 because of a lack of financing. In 2007, a government energy policy committee authorized completion of the unit. The country’s nuclear regulator granted a construction permit in May 2010. Angra-3 is expected to begin commercial operation in December 2015.

Switzerland to build new reactors

Swiss Matterhorn(NucNet) Swiss utilities Axpo, Alpiq and BKW have agreed to join forces in a bid to plan and build two new nuclear units to replace nuclear generating facilities in Switzerland which are nearing the end of their useful lives.

The three companies said the agreement represents a milestone in the bid to ensure security of supply in Switzerland. Some of Switzerland’s electricity comes from France and the power agreements are coming to an end.

A final decision is likely to be made in mid-2012 and will be based on the final selection of three sites as well as political and economic aspects and reviews, in particular the results of an official review of the three general license applications.

The three general licensee applications being reviewed are: Alpiq’s application for one unit for the Niederamt nuclear site, which is near the existing Gösgen site; Axpo’s application for one unit to replace existing units at the two-unit Beznau nuclear power plant; and BKW’s application for one unit at Mühleberg, where there is one existing operational unit. Axpo, Alpiq and BKW each have a one-third stake in the joint planning and project company.

The Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (ENSI) has evaluated all three projects and last November confirmed that all three sites are suited for new nuclear power plants from a safety point of view.

The Swiss Nuclear Forum told NucNet a new unit could begin commercial operation around 2020 to 2022.

Axpo chief executive officer Heinz Karrer said the agreement will allow Switzerland to continue guaranteeing a virtually CO2-free mix of electricity from hydroelectric power, nuclear energy and new renewable energies well into the future.

Dominion and Mitsubishi keep options open for North Anna

Keep options open(NucNet) Mitsubishi Nuclear Energy Systems and US utility Dominion Virginia Electric & Power have agreed to continue pre-construction, engineering, and planning work in preparation for a third unit at Dominion’s North Anna nuclear power plant in the state of Virginia.

The engineering and planning work will continue while awaiting Dominion’s decision on a construction start date, along with the NRC’s review of a combined construction and operating license (COL) for the new North Anna unit. Dominion said the company expects to receive the COL in early 2013.

In May 2010 Dominion chose Mitsubishi Heavy Industry’s advanced pressurized water reactor design for the North Anna-3 unit, making it the second US company to choose that design.

Luminant has chosen the design for two new units it plans to build at its Comanche Peak nuclear plant in Texas. Luminant could be in line for a Department of Energy loan guarantee if Congress approves an expansion of the program.

Dominion’s original application at the NRC for a COL referenced GE Hitachi’s economic simplified boiling water (ESBWR) reactor design, In May 2010 the company switched to MHI’s design after being unable to reach an engineering, procurement and construction contract with GE Hitachi.

North Anna has two 900 MW reactors. The first began commercial operation in 1978 and the second in 1980.


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