Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Nuclear news roundup for March 30, 2010

Horizon confirms plans for first new UK plant at Wylfa

Nuclear power plant construction - click for full size(NucNet) A joint venture company established by E.ON UK and RWE Npower plans to build its first UK nuclear plant near an existing nuclear site at Wylfa on the Isle of Anglesey, north Wales.

Horizon Nuclear Power announced its plans March 30, saying the first unit could be commissioned as early as 2020.

The company also announced that the Wylfa application will be followed by an application for a second nuclear plant near another existing nuclear site, Oldbury-on-Severn in southwest England, once construction at Wylfa is under way. Each site is planned to have a capacity of up to 3,300 megawatts.

The company said it is continuing “formal discussions” with both Westinghouse and Areva, the two companies seeking licenses for their nuclear reactors in the UK, before selecting a preferred vendor at the end of the year for the first site.

The 50:50 joint venture between E.ON UK and RWE Npower was created in January 2009 and aims to develop around 6,000 MW of new nuclear capacity in the UK. Last year the company secured development land at Wylfa and Oldbury-on-Severn.

Its program of new nuclear power stations could involve more than 15 billion pounds (22 billion US dollars, 16 billion euro) in investment and create around 11,000 jobs.

Ten other sites expected to host reactors

Nine of the identified locations (map) by the Government have been previous homes to nuclear reactors, and the remaining two are close to the former Sellafield reactor site in Cumbria, according to the Times Online.

The list consists of Dungeness in Kent; Sizewell in Suffolk; Hartlepool in Cleveland; Wylfa Peninsula in Anglesey; Heysham in Lancashire; Oldbury in Gloucestershire; Bradwell in Essex; Hinkley Point in Somerset; and Sellafield, Braystones and Kirksanton in Cumbria. (Map: Financial Times Dec 11, 2009)

The Government plans to build a new generation of nuclear power stations to maintain Britain's ability to generate its own energy when existing nuclear and coal-fired stations are shut down.

The sites have been nominated by the energy companies EDF, E.ON and RWE, as well as the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which owns some of the land, and have been initially approved by the Government. None is in Northern Ireland or Scotland.

Aluminum customer mothballed

Until September 2009 the existing nuclear plant at Wylfa provided electricity to a large aluminum plant run by Anglesey Aluminum. It produced up to 142,000 tonnes of aluminium every year and was the biggest single user of electricity (255 MW) in the U.K.

The plant received most of its electricity from Wylfa nuclear power station 15 miles away. The power contract terminated in 2009, and the aluminium smelting operation was shut down as no new contract was negotiated. Smelting operations have been halted and the plant mothballed until 2016.

Russia And IAEA sign agreement to establish nuclear fuel reserve

nuclear fuel assembly(NucNet) Russia and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) signed an agreement March 29 to establish the world’s first reserve of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to ensure uninterrupted supplies for nuclear power reactors.

The reserve, which could amount to about 120 tonnes of LEU valued at roughly 250 million US dollars (185 million euro), will be held at the International Uranium Enrichment Centre in Angarsk, southeast Siberia.

The agreement was signed by IAEA director-general Yukiya Amano and the director-general of Russia’s state nuclear energy corporation (Rosatom), Sergei Kiriyenko.

The project is aimed at providing all states with equal access to nuclear energy within the non-proliferation treaty. LEU is the key ingredient used to produce fuel for most commercial nuclear reactor units.

Countries would be able to ask for LEU from the reserve if their supply is interrupted. This is intended to discourage them from creating their own fuel resources.

The reserve’s establishment and maintenance is to be funded by Russia, including the costs of storage, safety, security and safeguards.

LEU from the reserve, which will be supplied to member states by the IAEA, would be provided at the prevailing market spot price, and the resulting proceeds would be used to replenish the reserve, the IAEA said.

Report on competitiveness of nuclear energy

(NucNet) Nuclear energy is a highly competitive option for the production of baseload electricity, a joint report released this week by the International Energy Agency and the OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency concludes.

The report ‘Projected Costs of Generating Electricity: 2010 Edition’, calculates the costs of baseload electricity generation for nuclear, fossil fuels and a range of renewable technologies.

Among the findings, the report says that with low financing costs “technologies such as nuclear are the most competitive solution” for baseload generation.

The report provides cost data from 21 countries and 190 power plants. It underlines that “nuclear delivers significant amounts of very low-carbon baseload electricity at stable costs over time”.

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