Monday, April 5, 2010

Nuclear news roundup for April 5, 2010

Sweden moves ahead on policy for new reactors

ballot-boxThe Wall Street Journal reports March 25 that the incumbent government is confident enough of public support for nuclear energy, just six months prior to an election, to introduce legislation to allow construction of new reactors. If enacted, it will complete the process of reversing a 30-year ban on new plants. A first vote on the bill will come in June.

All of Sweden’s reactors were built between 1972 and 1985. Lifting the ban on new reactors includes a plan to replace the nation’s 10 nuclear power stations as they reach the end of their service life. Sweden generates 9.4 GWe of electricity with its current fleet of reactors, all of European design, which accounts for about 35-40% of total demand for electricity.

Assuming the bill passes, the new reactors will be built by a consortium of E.ON of Germany, Sweden’s state-owned Vattenfall and Fortum, a Finnish utility.

Prior coverage on this blog

    Areva closing on contracts for two new reactors in India

    Elephant The Hindu reports March 18 that the Nuclear Power Corporation India Limited (NPCIL) and Areva, the French state-owned nuclear giant, are near agreement on the construction of two new reactors.

    The two 1,650 MW EPR reactors will be built in Jaitapur, Maharashastra. Because the majority of Areva’s stock is owned by the French government, India’s ongoing legislative debate over liability limits in the case of a nuclear accident isn’t a roadblock to the deal.

    Earlier this winter, India’s Parliament tabled a bill to set liability limits which would have opened India’s domestic nuclear industry to American firms. Instead, the Russians inked a deal for new reactors. Like France, the Russian state-owned nuclear export agency self-insures.

    Lauvergeon in Fresno

    100lauvergeonWhile Areva was wrapping up a deal in India, CEO Anne Lauvergeon (right) was opening new market opportunities in Fresno, California. Visiting the farming region March 23, she wowed an appreciative audience at an economic development conference.

    Lauvergeon is ranked by Forbes Magazine as one of the top ten most powerful women in the world. Her presence in California promoting the plant was an over-the-top experience for the Fresno Nuclear Energy Group, which has been talking about construction of a new reactor in the area for several years.

    California has had a ban on new nuclear plants for more than three decades based on the supposition that there is no solution for management of spent nuclear fuel. Lauvergeon took this issue head on. She told the conference . . .

    “We recycle paper. We recycle plastic. We recycle glass. How could recycling become evil when it comes to nuclear waste.”

    She told the economic developers that a new Areva EPR reactor would generate 4,000 construction jobs and 400-700 permanent jobs. She estimated the plant would pump $438 million into the region’s economy and contribute $20 million/year in tax revenues.

    China to build 28 more reactors by 2020

    flashIn response to the question of how far one should travel to seek wisdom about the global nuclear renaissance, the answer is to go all the way to China.

    Bloomberg wire services reported March 23 that officials from the State Nuclear Power Technology Group and China Nuclear Engineering Group said the country will now build 28 more reactors at a blistering pace of completing each one in 50 months. The new plan will reportedly add 70 GWe of carbon emission free electric power to China’s economy.

    Reuters reported last December that China is planning its first “localised” third generation nuclear reactor based on the Westinghouse Ap1000 design. State Nuclear Power Technology Corp (SNPTC) and China Huaneng Group will build it in Shidaowan, Rongcheng city in the eastern province of Shandong.

    Westinghouse is building four AP1000 reactors in China. As part of the deal, it granted generous technology transfer rights to China to adapt the design to “localised” requirements. The first new reactor at Shandong will have a capacity of 1.4 GW, but the second will be built to generate 1.7 GWe.

    China Huaneng group is also building a commercial version of a 165 MW “pebble bed reactor at Shandong.

    The first of the four Westinghouse AP1000 reactors being built in China is expected to enter revenue service in 2013 according to Wang Binghua, Chairman of the SNPTC.

    In other nuclear news from China, the initial section of the steel liner for the first of two Areva EPRs being built in China at a plant in Guangdong province was put in place at the end of March. Both reactors are being built at Taishen and are expected to enter revenue service in 2013 and 2015 respectively.

    Poland picks site for new nuclear power station

    Reuters reported March 16 the Polish government has chosen a site 77 km northwest of Gdansk in the northern provincial town of Zarnowiec for construction of the country’s first nuclear power plant. A Polish electric utility will build the plant. A competition is currently underway to select a reactor vendor. The government said it would choose one by 2013 following feasibility studies. Current plans are to build two new nuclear power stations for about 3,000 MW each.

    greenhouse_gasesBuilding the plant will reportedly be a tough sell as anti-nuclear sentiment runs high in Poland. However, the country gets 90% of its power from coal and much of it is low grade which spews a lot of pollution into the air.

    The government is facing a requirement from the European Union which will impose increasingly stringent limits on carbon emissions by 2030. This policy is driving the government to plan to build the reactors.

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