Friday, February 11, 2011

Can nutmeg cure small modular reactor woes?

The battle for market share is tough no matter what era you are in

Guest blog post by Tamar Cerafici

clip_image002A few weeks ago I wrote about the SEC’s bird dogging activities in the nuclear industry. NuScale and its primary investor, Michael Kenwood Capital Management, found themselves under the SEC’s microscope for alleged investment activities unrelated to NuScale’s core business, getting a NuScale design sold.

As a result, though, NuScale found itself unable to pay its bills bringing into sharp relief the perils of conducting business in the wild world of nuclear entrepreneurship.

A friend and I were talking about this yesterday. Since we’ve both read Nathaniel’s Nutmeg, we’ve figured out what the world of small modular reactors (SMRs) really needs.

What SMR developers need is the East India Company

When Renaissance apothecaries proclaimed nutmeg a cure for the plague, Western Europe mobilized its maritime industry to get the spice from its source in the islands of present-day Indonesia. The hundred-year effort, known as the “Spice Race” would topple the Portuguese trading monopoly in Southeast Asia and win the island of Manhattan for the British. It would make world powers out of England and Holland.

Outfitting one ship in the 16th and 17th centuries was no minor undertaking. Mobilizing a merchant fleet would have been impossible for even the richest individual tradesman, particularly when sailing to the Indian Ocean meant running a gauntlet of Portuguese fighting ships.

clip_image004These merchants realized banding with their competitors would be far more profitable than attempting to build solo entrepreneurial ventures. Each competing merchant would participate in shares of the company and ultimately bear the cost of success or failure together. England and Holland’s efforts are the most storied.

At the height of its powerful reign, the Dutch East Indies Company employed 10,000 soldiers, 40 warships, and 150 merchant vessels. During its 200-year history, more than a half million people sailed from Europe under the Dutch East Indies and Dutch West Indies company flags. England’s East India Company fared as well, colonizing India and much of Southeast Asia, governing its holdings there until 1857, when governing responsibilities were assumed by the British Crown.

Spice trade rules

The first Dutch adventure only brought back a small cargo of pepper. That pepper paid for the entire trip (four ships and crew – three ships returned), leaving a tidy profit for the organizing merchants. The English adventurers ruled India for nearly 300 years.

The business model is present today in various forms, including Rothschild, J.P. Morgan, Lazard, Hambras, and Barings, as well as newer ventures like Next Street.

Taking away the massacres, slavery, and general oppression of foreign competitors, the Dutch and English had a series of good ideas:

  • Band together
    • Take on the risk
      • Get market share
  • Sell your nutmeg
    • Cure the plague
      • Get really, really rich
  • Run the world.

An essential paradigm shift wouldn’t hurt

wright bros 1st flightIf NuScale’s experience of losing its venture funding teaches us anything, we should understand that flying solo in this industry and this economy is fraught with peril.

For SMRs, that are grounded by a lack of money, we all know money is hard to come by, since there are no ratepayers to support the inherent risks of deploying the new SMR technology.

The return on investment is hard to show because the market for small reactors is still pretty theoretical. The market for SMRs will not take off without money so how to get some?

You either have your own money (Babcock & Wilcox, GE) or you run to venture capitalists to meet the financial needs of the company. They’ll want more than a modicum of control. Traditional investment houses won’t touch these technologies with a 10-foot pole, because they’re not proven in terms of having paying customers.

Watch out for the white whale

Any traditional funding mechanism, such as those used for large reactors, is a white whale. And you know how that turned out. The big nukes got built because everybody agreed on one basic technology, and one basic fuel source. They got funded because the financial model was different – a huge and captive base of ratepayers insured that the capitalization costs would be paid no matter what, when, or how much. As we know, that model had some drawbacks.

In today’s risk adverse industry, the mantra still remains, “Pick ONE.” SMR developers have adopted this wholesale, because I guess it’s the only one they know. On the other hand, the great virtue of the dozens of small reactor technology designs is the variability they present.

Things are different now

A 10 MWe plant using lead bismuth coolant in its design would work really well in a remote army station, while a desalination plant in the Middle East would be more appropriately powered by a 125 MWe light-water design. Plus, it can be located right next to the water plant saving a bundle on transmission infrastructure.

Unlike the big nukes, which run solely to manufacture electricity for sale, SMRs have a broad range of uses that don’t require a grid and rate payers. Forty years ago a single industrial model was what people understood for building power plants. That’s not the case now.

New lamps for old

new lamps for old The U.S. SMR industry is failing to recognize that its product must be developed under a completely different series of assumptions, and learn lessons from the recent past (like the airplane industry) as well as the distant past.

If it doesn’t, it will continue to languish, without investment capital, while designs from Japan and Korea gain control global market share.

SMR developers in the United States need to recognize what the Dutch and English traders recognized 400 years ago. Individually, there is no way to succeed. Let’s put our ships together, and bring in the manufacturing sector. Let’s be merchants.

& & &

Tamar CeraficiTamar Cerafici (right) is an attorney based on Frederick, MD, specializing in environmental and nuclear energy law. website

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USEC, on Fiscal Tightrope, Assesses Risks, Opportunities

What does DOE want in return for a loan guarantee?

This is my coverage, as published, by Fuel Cycle Week V10:N410 of 2/3/11; International Nuclear Associates, Washington, DC.

prudent investorFinancially challenged USEC (NYSE:USU) could succeed in building the new American Centrifuge Plant (ACP) by 2015, if all of the unresolved financial and technological issues break in their favor.

But many uncertainties remain in how risks and opportunities (or “catalysts” in Wall Street lingo) will play out— and now even more “what-ifs” have arisen that could hold down investor interest in the company.

So said Paul Clegg, a clean-energy analyst at Mizuho Securities USA in New York, who told FCW this week that it was “very probable that the multibillion project will be a commercial success.” Still, Clegg’s investment recommendation is “neutral,” and he pegs USEC’s share price at $6.00. The stock closed Jan 31 at $5.55 against a 52-week range of $3.90-$6.50, with market capitalization of $641 million. (Update 2/11/11 – the stock closed at $5.85)

The biggest challenge for USEC is access to the daunting amount of capital needed to build the new enrichment plant. The capital requirement dwarfs a recent commitment of $200 million by Toshiba and Babcock & Wilcox ($100 million each) for a 30% share in the firm. USEC has already spent $1.9 billion against a total projected cost of about $5 billion, making it necessary to raise $2.8 billion in a relatively short period of time, if the plant is to achieve its financial and production goals by 2013.

Holding Down Costs While Boosting Revenue

USEC is pinning its hopes on a $2 billion federal loan guarantee and a $600 million loan from the Japanese Export Credit Agency. Currently the company is negotiating the terms of the loan guarantee with the U.S. Department of Energy. Clegg estimates the cost of the credit risk premium “in the low single digits,” noting that a 2.5% charge, which would add about $50 million to the total project cost, is probably acceptable to USEC.

By contrast, DOE was reportedly discussing much higher credit fees with Constellation Energy for its Calvert Cliffs project last summer. On Oct. 9 Constellation quit the negotiations and the new-build project, alleging that DOE had demanded a “shockingly high” fee of 11.6%; DOE denied that the fee under discussion had been so high (FCW #397, Oct. 14).

DOE might also require that USEC thicken its book of contract commitments for enrichment services. On its website USEC claims to have a backlog of $3.1 billion in enrichment service contracts lined up. But industry experts have told FCW that those commitments likely have “walk-away” provisions if the plant is not built or is significantly delayed beyond 2013, the last year of the Megatons-to-Megawatts program, which has supplied USEC with down blended HEU from Russia at a steep discount.

The $600 million USEC is seeking from Japan is contingent on getting a $2 billion conditional loan guarantee from DOE, but the government decision doesn’t guarantee that investors will line up to provide USEC with the $2 billion.

The 2013 deadline is of course essential because it is the last year of the HEU deal. In anticipation of losing this key source of revenue, USEC recently announced that it was examining a proposal to re-enrich UF6 tails from DOE’s excess uranium inventory, currently stored in cylinders at its Paducah, Ken. gaseous diffusion plant. It would then sell the material into the market at a profit (FCW #408, Jan. 20).

But the potential contribution of these sales to the bottom line is speculative at best at this point. That’s why the other capital requirements for the ACP loom so large.

Paul Jacobson, vice president for communications at USEC, told FCW there are specific elements of DOE’s due diligence that USEC must meet in order to secure a favorable decision.

“We will need to demonstrate that sufficient capital is available to complete the project,” said Jacobson. “We have initiated discussions with Japanese export credit agencies regarding financing a portion of the cost of building the plant. However, we have no assurance that they will…provide the financing needed and on what terms.”

Not All Bad News

Mizuho’s Clegg estimates that the total cost will include $200 million in overruns, raising total spending, prior and future, to $5 billion. This would make the ACP the most expensive centrifuge project in U.S. history. No wonder he advises investors to take a careful look at USEC before buying in. Still, he believes that despite the cost, the plant can be a commercial success. By comparison, AREVA’s Eagle Rock Enrichment Plant in Idaho Falls, with its 3 million SWU capacity, is projected to cost half that amount.

But Clegg also noted that cash flow from contract commitments during the first ten years of operation would boost investor confidence. If DOE were to grant the loan guarantee, funding from investors could be in hand to remobilize construction activity by yearend.

Clegg agreed with industry estimates that total domestic demand for enriched uranium by 2013 will be about 13.5 million SWU. This would exceed projected U.S. production capacity of 12 million SWU by 2014.

The Russian uranium enrichment firm Tenex could easily take up the slack—and could compete successfully for contracts to supply SWU for the small number of initial cores to new U.S. reactors now slated for construction, Clegg told FCW. At this point there are only four. Southern Co. is planning to install two AP1000 reactors at the Vogtle site near Augusta, Georgia, while South Carolina Electric and Gas Co. is moving forward on two more at the Summer plant in South Carolina, which it plans to build regardless of whether it gets a DOE loan guarantee (FCW #398, Oct. 21).

But USEC has some things going for it. One is Toshiba’s potential involvement, which is contingent on DOE awarding a loan guarantee. Toshiba would take a long-term equity position in USEC specifically to ensure it has fuel for the cores of those Westinghouse reactors.

Reactors falling by the wayside

The tight economy has led utilities to shelve or delay their plans for six other AP1000s. Florida Power & Light has pushed back the construction of two more AP1000s at least a decade. TVA also mothballed its license applications for two AP1000s at the Bellefonte plant at Scottsboro, Ala., instead electing to complete a partially built unit there.

Units planned in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida, by Duke Energy and Progress Energy, had also gone by the boards, but a proposed merger of the two companies may produce a combined rate base large enough to revive one or more of these projects. Toshiba has also signed a contract with NRG to build two GEHitachi ABWRs at the South Texas Project. By press time NRG had not responded to an FCW inquiry about where the cores would come from.

Another item that could draw investment is the ACP technology itself. USEC’s centrifuges stand 40 feet tall and can produce 350 SWU per year 50 SWU per year. By comparison, other gas centrifuges are seven to ten feet tall and annually produce about 45 SWU.

Although the technology could be extremely productive, each bank of centrifuges requires a great deal of capital to assemble, so that once they begin generating revenue, it takes longer to pay off the upfront costs, compared to conventional centrifuges. That means USEC will need longer to add new increments of centrifuges in the early stages of plant operations.

In short, USEC executives will have a lot of challenges—and opportunities— in managing several discontinuous vectors in their business plan. If they succeed, the ACP will be the first American owned uranium enrichment plant, with American technology, even if it also turns out to be the most expensive one ever built.

How Much More Contract Volume Does USEC Need?

Paul Clegg, a clean-energy analyst with Mizujo Securities, told FCW that the Department of Energy could ask USEC to line up more contracts than the $3.1 billion’s worth it claims on the company website. But how much is enough?

Clegg did not offer a number, but a look at USEC’s capital resources and likely requirements yields some clues. Assuming USEC gets the DOE loan guarantee and thereby gains access to $600 million from the Japanese Export Bank, that is about $2.6 billion. Clegg estimates that the project will have a $200 million in cost overruns associated with building a new enrichment plant with first-of-a-kind 40-foot high centrifuge. It would presumably seek other investment to cover those costs.

This means the volume of new contracts over a hypothetical ten year payback period must generate enough revenue to pay off riskier—and therefore higher interest—loans from the Japanese bank and the new investors. The reason these are higher risk is that their investment is not covered by the loan guarantee.

Assuming that it paid off the loans over ten years at an interest rate of 6%, USEC would need to gain about $106 million annually in new profits after production expenses, to cover these loan payments.* If business is good, USEC might be able to negotiate an early payoff.

This estimate is pure speculation, because USEC’s margins are unknown, and the new centrifuge technology has no track record of commercial performance.


*Ten years at 6% yields annual payments of $106.5 million, an aggregate of $1.065 billion. With $800 million borrowed, the loan cost comes to $206.5 million.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The global pursuit for nuclear fuel

Brazil plans expansion to uranium enrichment

Brazil nuclearBrazil plans to invest $1.8 billion to expand its capability to enrich uranium for commercial nuclear reactors. A conservative estimates is this level of investment could add at least 1-1.5 million SWU/year to its production rate.

Brazilian Energy minister Edisao Labao told local news media the country has 1.1 million tons of uranium to draw on to supply the plant. He said the objective of the new uranium enrichment facilities is to make Brazil self sufficient in its supply of nuclear fuel.

Brazil has manufacting capabilities to take the enriched uranium, as UF6, covnert its to solid powder, and complete production of fuel pellets and assemblies for commercial nuclear reactors. The intial conversion of Yellowcake to UF6 is carried out for Brazil by Areva in France.

Brazil is completing its third reactor, Angra 3, which is expected to enter revenue service in 2015. The government plans to build another four reactors in the next 20 years,

Brazilian nuclear trade press also reported that Brazil plans to export some of its enriched uranium to China and South Korea. Brazilian officials are especially interested in China's market given its ambitious plans to build at least 40 GWe of new nuclear energy power stations in the next 10 years,

UK Proposes using plutonium stocks for MOX fuel

mox fuel(NucNet) The UK government has proposed using the country’s civilian separated plutonium stocks in mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel for nuclear reactors.

As part of a consultation that was launched on 7 February 2011 the government proposed long-term management options for the country’s civil plutonium stocks.

The three options are:

  1. to reuse it in MOX fuel;
  2. to immobilize it and dispose of it as waste; and
  3. continued long term storage.

The government said its “preliminary view” is that the best option is to reuse the plutonium in MOX fuel.

It said MOX fuel fabrication is a proven and available technology that offers greater certainty of success, while allowing use of the inherent energy resource of the plutonium.

The UK is storing about 112 tonnes of civil separated plutonium. This amount includes about 28 tonnes of material belonging to overseas customers.

In the 1950s plutonium separation was carried out in the UK for defense purposes. In the 1960s when it was thought that fossil fuels would run out, this plutonium was made available as fuel for fast reactors.

Eventually, in 1994, the UK abandoned almost all research into fast reactors because it decided they would not be commercially viable in the foreseeable future.

South Korea pursues spent fuel reprocessing

A contentious negotiation with the U.S. is easing as South Korea agreed to a 10-year joint study to develop spent fuel reprocessing capabilities. It would modify a 1974 accord South Korea signed with the U.S. to not develop this technology.

Since then South Korea has developed a growing fleet of successful nuclear power plants and also entered the global market as an exporter of its designs.

In the latest round of talks, South Korea is said to be proposing development of pyro- processing methods for recycling its spent fuel. The extracted uranium and plutonium would be fabricated into MOX fuel.

(Update 02/11/11: While there is nothing in the news from South Korea about fast reactors, it would seem more likely the output of pyroprocessing would be to produce a new uranium oxide fuel for this type of reactor rather than MOX for an LWR.)

The method does not produce a pure stream of plutonium which makes it attractive in terms of nonproliferation objectives. The Korea Atomic Energy Institute is providing the technical development of the method.

The U.S. contribution will likely come from Argonne National Laboratory which has done R&D work on a pyro-processing technology. (image below via ANL)


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Eastern Europe update – Poland up, Romania down

Poland launches nuclear contracts bid process

(NucNet) Polish electricity company Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE) has launched two tender awards for the country’s new nuclear program, according to a Feb 6 company statement. Poland has a lot of dirty coal plants it wants to replace with clean nuclear energy.

The state-owned power company said that for Poland’s first nuclear power plant project, which will have an installed capacity of 3,000 MWe, two contracts will be awarded: one for a technical adviser to support the investment process, and the other to conduct environmental and site surveying.

The technical adviser is to support subsidiary PGE EJ1 in a range of activities including licencing, staff preparation and selection of a reactor vendor for the new power plant. PGE said the contract was worth an estimated 1.25 billion zlotys (PLN) (332 million euro) over 10 years.

The second contract for environmental analysis is valued at PLN 120 million (30.9 million euro).

Poland plans to install 6,000 MWe of nuclear generation capacity, with the first unit to be built by 2020.

Romania's nuclear plans derailed

Bloomberg wire services reports that GDF Suez, RWE, and Iberdrola have pulled out of a 4 billion-euro ($5.4 billion) project to develop two nuclear reactors in Romania because of a lack of focus for nuclear regulations and doubts about future power demand.

“Economic and market uncertainties surrounding this project, related for the most part to the present financial crisis, are not now reconcilable with the capital requirements of a new nuclear power project,” the three utilities said in a joint statement.

According to Bloomberg, the Romanian state nuclear company plans to lower its stake to around 20% from 51%. This move shifts risk to developers which may be the real reason the firms are backing out of making a deal.

The need for added investment added tension to an already difficult situation based on concerns about the government’s failure to agree on a regulatory framework. Also, the three firms told the wire service they have doubts whether there will be enough demand for electricity to justify the project.

The EnergoNuclear venture, which would double the number of reactors in Romania, called for the construction of two 700- megawatt units at Cernavoda near the Black Sea. It’s due for completion by the end of 2017.

Bloomberg also noted that RWE pulled out of the 4 billion-euro Belene nuclear power- plant project in Bulgaria last year after the country declined to provide state funding.

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AECL update – win some, lose some

AECL’s ACR-1000 Clears Final Phase Of Pre-Project Design Review

AECL Symbol(NucNet) The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has completed the final phase of its pre-project design review for Atomic Energy of Canada Limited’s (AECL) advanced Candu reactor, according to a summary of the Commission’s report released Jan 28.

AECL said that its new ACR-1000 design has now become Canada’s first advanced nuclear reactor to have completed all three phases of the CNSC review process.

The objective of the CNSC’s vendor pre-project design review was to verify the acceptability of the reactor design with respect to Canadian safety requirements and expectations.

Phases 1 and 2 of the review were completed by the CNSC in December 2008 and August 2009 respectively. During the third phase, the Canadian regulator reviewed the steps taken by AECL to ensure the readiness of the reactor design for licensing.

The Canadian government has been trying to sell AECL to the private sector. So far neither of the reported bidders have shown any interest in the new reactor design. Their acquisition strategy seems to be focused on buying the parts of AECL that service the existing global fleet of Candu reactors. No new Candu design reactors have been sold in more than a decade,

The executive summary of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s phase 3 report is available online.

Areva seeks new reactor in New Brunswick

French state-owned nuclear giant Areva is pursuing development of one or two new reactors for the Canadian province of New Brunswick. The objective for the utility customer is to export electricity to New England states where fossil fuel power is very expensive.

According to the Canadian Press wire service for Feb 7, Jean-Francois, VP for Areva Canada, said that demand for electricity in the northeastern U.S. will grow over the next ten years. If work is started on a reactor in New Brunswick now, it will be ready in time to meet that demand.

Also, Areva said it might offer a smaller reactor design than its 1,600 MW EPR. Areva has two smaller reactors that are in the design stage that could be a fit for the New Brunswick and New England markets. The lower cost of the smaller reactors would be attractive to utilities.

New Brunswick has one 635 MW reactor now at Point Lepreau, an AECL Candu-6 design. It has been offline for more than a year due to a troubled refurbishment by AECL that is reportedly $400 million over budget and more than a year behind schedule. The cost of replacement power has driven provincial officials to demand Ottawa pay for it. So far the Harper government has rejected these claims.

A previous effort to develop an all Canada merchant reactor project for New Brunswick fell apart over failure of the provincial government to back it. This is a repeating pattern in Canada with a similar scenario playing out in Ontario over the Darlington bid.

New Brunswick Energy Minsiter Craig Leonard told the wire service he's interested in Areva's proposal, but wants to see the business case for it. Opposition to the plan comes from Jeannot Volpe who touts biomass energy as a viable alternative to nuclear energy.

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Russia plans new 100 MW fast reactor

It is a pilot for a commercial fast breeder

svbr100NucNet: The Moscow division of Russian nuclear engineering company Atomenergoproekt (AEP) released design documents for the construction of a pilot industrial fast reactor, SVBR-100, (conceptual image right) according to parent company, the Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom.

Rosatom said Feb 7 that design documents for the fast-neutron SVBR-100 had been drafted ahead of the planned construction of an industrial unit at JSC NIIAR, Russia’s Research Institute of Atomic Reactors in Dimitrovgrad.

The SVBR-100 is a 100-megawatt small modular reactor with lead-bismuth coolant. When using mixed oxide plutonium-uranium (MOX) fuel, it operates on a closed fuel cycle.

Modular design

According to AEP documents, the advantage of this reactor technology is the modular design allows creating nuclear power plants of different capacity in multiples of 100 MWe. It uses a standardized reactor module which is to be manufactured at in a factory and is delivered the NPP site. It allows the application of advanced methods of flow arrangement of construction and reduces the investment cycle of NPP construction.

AEP said the design could be used for floating reactors that could be moved from place-to-place. Also, AEP said another prospective use is to replace coal-fired boilers especially in eastern Europe which has a lot of low grade dirty coal burned to make electricity.

Rosatom said that Atomenergoproekt specialists had been working on the SVBR model since 2006.

The current project foresees the construction of a pilot plant by 2017. It has three main partners: Atomoenergoproekt OJSC (Moscow); Gidropress OJSC and the Russian state research centre in Obninsk, the Energy Physics Institute.

Competition with U.S. SMRs?

In the U.S. Hyperion Power, with offices in New Mexico, is developing a 25 MW fast reactor which also reportedly will use a lead-bismuth cooling system for the primary loop.

Neither developer released information on secondary loops nor information whether the efficiency of the reactor design would make it more practical for electricity or process heat applications.

Hyperion has also touted its design as capable of being manufactured in a factory setting and as a replacement for coal-fired boilers in eastern Europe.

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Turkey trots out Toshiba to try for Sinop

Negotiations with South Korea failed to produce a deal

turkey nuclearThe Financial Times reports that Toshiba is “confident” it will seal a deal to build a 5.4 GWe nuclear energy power station on a Black Sea coastal site near Sinop. According to the FT, Norio Sasaki, Toshiba’s president, told the newspaper terms and conditions that remain to be negotiated include long-term risk insurance. Toshiba will supply its 1300 MW ABWR reactor design and not the Westinghouse AP1000.

This is the second nuclear deal for Turkey. In 2010 the Russian state-owned firm Atomstroyexport inked a deal for a 4.8 GWe nuclear power station at a Mediterranean costal site near Akkuyu. The Russians were the only bidder after several international consortiums pulled out in disputes with Turkey over intellectual property protection and the lack of government guarantees for power purchases for the first 15 years of plant operations. Westinghouse did not participate in any of the bid teams.

Japan’s likely success in closing the Sinop deal with be that the Japanese Export Bank will supply long-term credits to Toshiba for the cost of construction if it wins the business from Turkey.

No deal likely for South Korea

The Financial Times reported last November that South Korea was unable to close a deal with Turkey to build new reactors at the Sinop site. The main sticking point was said to be electricity prices for power from the plant. Other issue included the amount of financing South Korea would provide to build the plant and risks associated with the possibility of cost-overruns.

Credit risk The risk for South Korea, is that in addition to building the plant, Turkey may also be asking the consortium to operate it. This is the deal Turkey has with Atomstroyexport. Like the Russians, South Korea may be asking that after 15 years it be allowed to sell off the reactor to Turkish investors.

South Korea pursued the Turkish deal on the momentum of its groundbreaking $20 billion deal, inked in December 2009, to build four 1400 MW reactors for the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In the UAE deal South Korea is providing some of the financing, but less than 50% as other investors are being offered opportunities to purchase bonds that will finance the power stations.

French state-owned nuclear firms are also said to be interested in bidding on the Sinop deal. However, Turkish government officials made it clear in statements to the news media, ahead of a visit by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, that he needed to moderate his opposition to Turkey’s entry into the European Union. Otherwise, there would be no nuclear deals.

Turkey’s nuclear ambitions

The Russians reportedly will offer electricity from their power station at Akkuyu about $0.12/kWhr. Electricity from natural gas plants in Turkey is currently offered to rate payers at $0.08/kWhr. However, five-or-ten years from now, when all four 1200 MW reactors are in revenue service, the price of $0.12/kWhr may look very good.

Also, Turkey has ambitions to become a regional exporter of electricity to its neighbors. Turkey’s energy ministry reconfirmed this ambition in a statement to Platts on Feb 2. Energy Minister Taner Yildiz is reported to have said the country wants to build a total of 20 reactors by 2030. The first eight would include four each at the two coastal sites. Three additional sites are expected to be selected, but their names have not yet been released by the energy ministry.

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Monday, February 7, 2011

Two states lift long-term bans on new nuclear reactors

Minnesota and Kentucky open options to secure their long-term energy security


Winds of change are blowing for the better for nuclear energy in two states – Minnesota and Kentucky. Both states rely heavily on coal which makes what is happening all the more significant.

Coal from North Dakota that fires new power plants in Minnesota won't last forever, and could in future years become subject to an expensive carbon tax.

Legislators in Minnesota, which already has two nuclear power stations, have opened options to build more.

Similarly, Kentucky, which is a big coal state, is considering lifting its ban on new reactors linking that action to enhanced employment at the Paducah uranium enrichment plant.

The Minnesota Senate voted 50-14 to repeal the state's 17-year old moratorium. The bill now goes to the House where it is expected to pass.

In Kentucky, a bill offered by State Sen. Bob Leeper, S.34, was approved 7-3 by the Senate Natural Resources & Energy Committee. This is the fourth time Leeper has sponsored the bill and the first time he's made progress with it.

In the 1980s both states enacted bans on construction of new nuclear reactors because the federal government failed to develop a comprehensive solution to management of spent nuclear fuel.

Real the whole story exclusively at CoolHandNuke now online, a nuclear energy recruiting portal and a whole lot more.


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