Sunday, March 30, 2008

New build reactor news roundup

A short stack of news items from Canada and the U.S.

Scientific American reports that the new build unfolding in the U.K. is closely watching progress in the U.S. and likes what it sees.

One of the U.K.'s top nuclear officials said that she was told the U.S. will okay plans to build the first nuclear power plants. Lady Barbara Thomas Judge, chair of the U.K. Atomic Energy Authority, said that Dale Klein, NRC chairman, told her the agency will approve three applications for new nuclear reactors that it's currently considering.

"Dale Klein told me that those three nuclear applications will be approved," she told the State of the Planet conference at Columbia University.

Back on the other side of the Atlantic, Areva CEO Anne Lauvergeon said she would like to see more cooperation between nuclear regulatory agencies in Europe. Reuters reported that she urged Europe to harmonize and speed up licensing procedures on nuclear reactors to avoid lagging behind the United States and emerging countries in the global nuclear race.

"The rebirth of nuclear energy is now an international fact, but the problem we have is the European kinetic versus the rest of the world," Anne Lauvergeon, head of Areva, told a nuclear conference. "As a European, I am very worried by that."

"There's a second issue, which is that in each (European) country we have to restart licensing procedures. In the United States, there's a single procedure for the whole country. She added that Europe will lose ground to other regions unless it simplifies the regulatory process.

Areva is competing for a piece of the U.K. new nuclear build which will qualify reactors designs for construction of new plants in that country.

Areva still trolling tar sands for reactor deal

The French nuclear giant thinks that an EPR belongs in Alberta and is courting Bruce Power to build one there. Armand Leferrere told reporters in Calgary, "Bruce Power is looking at our design for northern Alberta. We're competing for their attention."

That look is not lost on AECL which for a while has believed it had the 4,000 MWe reactor deal locked up with its new ACR1000 reactor that is still in the design stage. AECL is competing head-to-head with Areva in Alberta as well as for new reactors in Ontario and New Brunswick provinces.

Saskatchewan expands nuclear drive

Just weeks after unveiling a plan to pursue uranium enrichment, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has asked that all data relating to nuclear power in Saskatchewan be gathered into one place and released to the public for review.

Wall suggested that SaskPower complete the task “as soon as possible,” so the public can decide whether or not it wants to see nuclear power in the province that provides 30 percent of the world’s uranium supply.

SaskPower, the principal supplier of electricity in Saskatchewan, has been gathering nuclear information for the past several years.

Wall called Saskatchewan the Saudi Arabia of uranium and rather than just mining it, he would like to see a value added to it, such as producing electricity from a nuclear power plant.

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