Progress reported in Czech Republic, India, and China
The New York Times reports in a major story that CEZ, the Czech state- owned nuclear power utility, is ready to accept bids on two and as many as five new nuclear reactors at multiple sites around the country. Two reactors are planned to expand the Temelin plant and up to three more may be built at sites owned by the utility.
Bidders on the $25 billion deal include Russia (AtomStroyExport), France (Areva), and Japan (Toshiba / Westinghouse). A public and transparent bid process is being used where in the past the government just made up its mind who to buy from. Detailed proposals are expected by the end of 2010. Czech officials did not tell the newspaper when they would make a contract award.
The European Union Energy Policy Blog reported that an investment like this in nuclear energy will help reverse a trend towards more fossil fuel projects. The blog reported the carbon intensity of the world’s total primary energy supply has been increasing in the past decade.
U.S. firms may get India deals
The Financial Express reports that Westinghouse and GE-Hitachi may get deals to build two reactor for Indian utilities following the passage of the nuclear energy liability bill by parliament last week. The announcement would take place during a scheduled November trip by U.S. President Barack Obama to India in November. Both reactors will be sold to the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPICL), a public sector enterprise.
The deal is said to be worth $10 billion. No announcement was made of the locations for the new reactors. A reactor built by GE-Hitachi might be located in Gujarat which is where the firm may build a factory to manufacture nuclear reactor components. The company has partnered with several Indian heavy industry firms to built it.
Japan is also in negotiations with India to build reactors there. The newspaper reported these talks are going slowly, but should result in a separate deal from the one for U.S. firms.
The nuclear liability bill has been criticized because it assigns open-ended liability to suppliers as well as the nuclear utilities that will run the new reactors. India plans to build 20 GWe of new nuclear power plant generation capacity in the next 10 years.
Western observers have told the Bloomberg wire service the government may have to seek a modification of the law for U.S. firms to do business in the country. Russia and Areva are already building a combined total of six reactors in India because the state-owned firms have sovereign immunity.
China to build a nuclear energy city
(NucNet) China is planning to build a 130 sq km nuclear city in Haiyan on the east coast of Zhejiang province to help with the country’s ambitious development of its nuclear power industry. China is expected to invest $175 billion over the next 10 years to develop the nuclear city.
The Zhejiang government and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) have signed a “strategic energy cooperation agreement,” which formally binds the two groups in developing the site.
Assuming a built out population density of 1,500-2,000 people per sq km, the city could have as many as 260,000 people living and working in it. This is approximately the size of Buffalo, NY.
There is no comparable investment in the U.S. or Europe in nuclear energy and related industrial development tied to a major population center, new or not. Recently, Areva postponed by two years construction of a $300 million manufacturing center in Newport News, VA, due to the failure of Congress to pass legislation expanding nuclear loan guarantees.
The new city in China will have four main nuclear energy activity areas:
- nuclear power equipment manufacturing;
- nuclear training and education;
- applied nuclear science industries (medical, agricultural, radiation detection); and
- promotion of the nuclear industry.
There are five reactor units already in commercial operation in Zhejiang province and six under construction Of those six, Qinshan 2-3 was connected to the grid on August 1, 2010 and is due to begin commercial operation early next year.
Six CNNC businesses will be located at the Nuclear City:
- Nuclear Power Operations,
- Nuclear Power Technical Support & Services Co,
- Nuclear Power Commissioning Centre,
- Nuclear Power Training Centre,
- Nuclear Power Communication and Exhibition Centre, and
- Nuclear Power Stocks & Spare Parts Centre.
In addition, the headquarters of 18 leading Chinese nuclear equipment suppliers are based in Haiyan, which is about 100 km southwest of Shanghai, as are branch offices of the major Chinese nuclear design institutes and construction companies. The plan is for the project to attract other related nuclear businesses.
According to a report last May in the China Daily, an engineering manager in Shanghai makes the equivalent of about $35,000/year. The wire service also reported there are growing shortages of highly skilled workers as foreign companies building factories in China are hiring them as fast as they can. Chinese nuclear utilities may have to pay a premium to staff their projects.
According to the World Nuclear Organization, Mainland China has 12 nuclear power reactors in operation, 24 under construction, and more about to start construction soon. Additional reactors are planned, including some of the world's most advanced, to give more than a tenfold increase in nuclear capacity to 80 GWe by 2020, 200 GWe by 2030, and 400 GWe by 2050. China is rapidly becoming self-sufficient in reactor design and construction, as well as other aspects of the fuel cycle.
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