Welcome to AtomWatch - world nuclear power news and analysis

This blog is aimed at tracing the world news related to nuclear power development internationally and in particular countries. Being an independent resource, we accept all kinds of opinions, positions and comments, and welcome you to discuss the posts and tell us what you think.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

France-based Areva, Fresno Nuclear Energy Group to study new generation reactor in California

[Full disclosure: I am a native of California. California once had several universities with nuclear engineering programs and research reactors. Currently, there are two nuclear plants in California (San Onofre and Diablo Canyon).]


Associated Press
12/29/09 10:29 AM PST PARIS — French nuclear engineering company Areva SA said Tuesday that it plans to work with Fresno Nuclear Energy Group on developing one or two new-generation reactors in California's Central Valley.

Areva said FNEG is a group of investors that wants to acquire the so-called EPR, or European Pressurized Reactor, technology for California.

EPR reactors are under construction in France, Finland and China, and the certification process is under way in the United States and Britain.

Areva has been plagued by delays in Finland, where the first EPR was supposed to be online this year. The last deadline for the 1,600-megawatt EPR unit was 2012 but Areva has since said the project's final cost and completion date remain uncertain.

In California, Areva said that next year the two companies will begin a series of studies identifying the most feasible site for a new nuclear power plant, and will work together on the initial development and permitting process.

Areva said that six companies — Constellation, PPL, AmerenUE, Amarillo Power, AEHI and Duke Energy — have chosen the EPR for a total of eight potential reactor construction projects, pending U.S. certification.

Financial terms of what Areva dubbed a "letter of intent to formalize cooperation" with FNEG weren't disclosed.

Monday, December 28, 2009

South Korea Wins Landmark Gulf Nuclear Power Deal

[FYI, the APR-1400 reactor proposed is similiar to the Palo Verde reactors in Arizona.]


Published: December 27, 2009
Filed at 12:59 p.m. ET

Skip to next paragraph ABU DHABI/SEOUL (Reuters) - A South Korean group won a landmark deal to build and operate four nuclear reactors for the United Arab Emirates, beating more favored U.S. and French rivals to one of the Middle East's biggest ever energy contracts.

Under the $40 billion deal announced on Sunday, which Seoul said it hoped would kick-start an export drive for its nuclear technology, the first nuclear plant in the Gulf Arab region is scheduled to start supplying power to the UAE grid in 2017.

In stark contrast to the development program launched by northern Gulf neighbor Iran, the UAE's nuclear ambitions carry the blessing of its ally the United States.

A consortium led by state-owned utility Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) aims to complete the UAE's four 1,400 megawatt reactors by 2020.

The South Korean president's office described the deal as "the largest mega-project in Korean history," while KEPCO said it was also it was in talks with Turkey to export two nuclear power reactors to Black Sea areas.

The U.S. and the UAE have a nuclear cooperation pact and U.S.-based firm Westinghouse Electric, a unit of Japan's Toshiba Corp, was part of the winning consortium.

It also includes Hyundai Engineering and Construction, Samsung C&T Corp and Doosan Heavy Industries. The UAE has pledged to import the fuel it needs for reactors -- rather than attempting to enrich uranium, the fuel for nuclear power plants -- to allay fears about enrichment facilities being used to make weapons-grade material.

Iran has long been at odds with the West over its declared plans to use enriched uranium to generate electricity, a program the United States and European allies fear is a cover to develop the ability to produce atomic bombs.

South Korea hopes to use nascent nuclear programs in the Middle East, which include developments in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, as a springboard for expanding its nuclear industry, though the projects have fueled concerns within the international community over a regional arms race.

"We are now expecting much bigger opportunities in entering overseas markets as winning the UAE nuclear deal will play a role of convincing those countries in the Middle East and other regions which are thinking of importing nuclear power reactors," KEPCO said in a statement.


The UAE, the world's third-largest oil exporter, needs the nuclear power to help meet an expected rise in electricity demand to 40,000 MW in 2020 from around 15,000 MW last year, amid a petrodollar-fueled economic boom.

South Korea said it also hopes to build more plants in the UAE beyond 2020 to meet future demand.

"Considering the growth estimates in the UAE's power demand, South Korea expects to win additional projects to build nuclear power reactors in addition to this contract for four reactors," it said.

The South Korean group beat a French consortium and another group led by U.S. giant General Electric. The $20 billion Korean bid was $16 billion lower than the French group's bid, an industry source said.

In addition to the deal to design and build the plants, the Korean consortium expects to earn another $20 billion by jointly operating the reactors for 60 years.


The choice of South Korea surprised some analysts, who had expected the deal to go to one of the other consortiums for strategic reasons.

"The UAE's choice must have been based on strictly commercial terms because in terms of political clout in the region it's nil," said Al Troner, president of Houston-based Asia Pacific Energy Consulting.

"Korea has a good track record in terms of safety and price and it's a surprise to see the U.S. and France are not part of the bid because they are the ones with the more political strength in the Middle East."

The emirate of Abu Dhabi, which is driving the UAE nuclear program, holds most of the UAE's crude reserves, and has managed to avoid the worst of the global economic slowdown as well as the debt crisis that has hit neighboring Dubai.

Dubai's debt crisis had cast a shadow over financing prospects for other Gulf borrowers but analysts expect blue-chip names like Abu Dhabi and Qatar to weather the fallout.

"These are long-term projects and many of the finance providers will look beyond what is happening today," said John Sfakianakis, chief economist at Banque Saudi Fransi-Credit Agricole Group in Riyadh. "The UAE's nuclear program is a strategic project."

He said the UAE could issue bonds in future to fund the project, in addition to the usual mix of project financing methods such as export agencies and banks.

"I think by the time they do this (issue bonds), the Dubai storm will be over, plus Abu Dhabi would have a substantial windfall from oil revenues," he said..

(Additional reporting by Martin Dokoupil in Dubai)

(Writing by Simon Webb; editing by John Stonestreet)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Energy Solutions fight back against nuclear waste protest

[I have seen this specious argument on depleted uranium before. By such an argument, those worried about depleted uranium should supprot breeder reactors as they convert depleted uranium into shorter half-life plutonium ;-) ]


Last Update: 12/19 7:54 pm

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - Energy Solutions responds to protest against nuclear waste protest.

"The one slogan they use to that depleted uranium grows more radioactive over time. That's true, but we're talking about 40,000 years," said Val Christensen, President of Energy Solutions.

Christensen also said groups like "Heal Utah" don't try to understand the science behind the safe storage of nuclear waste.

The protestors said they are voicing the concerns of many people around the state.

Can nuclear solve the global water crisis?

[A friend of mine once visited the desalination reactor in Kazakhstan and was quite impressed with the plant. Technically, every nuclear submarine is a desalinator as well...]


If a person doesn't drink clean water they will be dead in less than three days. That's why water is the most valuable commodity there is.

By Garry White, Commodities Editor
Published: 5:45PM GMT 20 Dec 2009

The water level in Lake Mead, which supplies more than 22 million people in the US, has been falling for some time.
As the global population expands, demand for water for agriculture and personal use will increase dramatically, but there could be a solution that will produce clean drinking water and help reduce carbon emissions as well. That process is nuclear desalination.

Many areas of the world are suffering from a water crisis – and it's not just arid, developing countries that are suffering. The Western US is particularly vulnerable and its water crisis is getting more severe by the day.

Las Vegas could be one of the first US cities to be hit by a serious water shortage, some are even questioning whether it can survive at all. The city gets 90pc of its water from Lake Mead, the body of water created by the Hoover Dam.

The water in Lake Mead, and the Colorado River which feeds it, has been falling for some time. It is slowly running dry due to overuse. The Scripps Institution of Oceanography believes there is a 50pc chance that the lake will be completely dry by 2021 if climate change continues as expected and future water usage is not curtailed.

Water is so important that, as a population grows and demand increases, there is a strong chance of conflict in the future.

According to the World Water Council, 260 river basins are shared by two or more countries.

"In the absence of strong institutions and agreements, changes within a basin can lead to transboundary tensions," the Council said. "When major projects proceed without regional collaboration, they can become a point of conflicts, heightening regional instability."

The World Water Council cites the Parana La Plata in South America, the Aral Sea, the Jordan and the Danube as examples.

It's not just tensions between countries that are a potential problem. Civil unrest caused by scarcity has already started.

In India on December 3, one man was killed and dozens injured during a protest over water rationing in Mumbai following the country's poor Monsoon. The prospect of further water riots is very real.

However, nuclear energy could help provide the solution for this thorny issue.

Oil-rich Middle Eastern nations are rushing to build new nuclear plants.

Anwar Gargash, a foreign affairs minister in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), said last month that nuclear power was "best able" to meet future power demand in his country. Demand for electricity is expected to double by 2020.

This followed comments from Saudi Arabia, which said it planned to generate up to a quarter of its electricity from nuclear power within the next 15 years.

Everyone thinks the trend for oil-rich nations to move towards nuclear power generation is about limiting domestic consumption so they can boost oil exports. However, that's just part of the story.

Saudi Arabia, for example, has very little water – and global warming is likely to make this situation much worse. This is a major problem because Saudi Arabia is about to see its population explode.

The overwhelming majority of the Saudi people are young. Almost 40pc of its population is under the age of 14, with just 2.5pc being in the over 65 bracket. This means its population is growing at about 2pc per year – and as the young start to have families of their own, the rate of population growth will increase.

In fact, many of the nations that are predicted to have the strongest growth in population over the next years are the areas where the water crisis is most acute.

For example, the UAE has the largest growth rate of any nation in the world – at 3.69pc, according to data compiled by the US government.

Nuclear reactors can be used to generate electricity – but they can also be used to desalinate water.

Nuclear desalination is not a new idea – it's a proven technology, thanks to Kazakhstan.

A single nuclear reactor at Aktau on the shore of the Caspian Sea successfully produced up to 135 megawatts of electricity and 80,000 cubic metres of potable water a day between 1972 and 1999, when it was closed at the end of the reactor's life.

Water has also been desalinated using nuclear reactors in India and Japan.

The problem with desalination is that it is very energy intensive. Most desalination today uses fossil fuels, contributing to carbon emissions.

However, because nuclear power generation does not emit carbon, it is a clean and efficient way of producing the most important commodity around. For countries experiencing rapid population growth, it could be a lifesaver.

Russia to start research on spacecraft nuclear engines next year


MOSCOW, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- Russia will start next year research on nuclear engines for spacecraft, the head of Russia's Federal Space Agency Roscosmos said on Sunday.

"Nuclear engines for spaceships are a very promising area. Such engines should be created to make flights to Mars and other planets," said Anatoly Perminov at the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, as cited by the Russian news agencies.

"Russia will start research work from 2010 in this sphere," he added.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said earlier that Russia will prioritize the development of nuclear energy, especially the use of nuclear technology in spacecraft.

Perminov also said previously that the development of Megawatt-class nuclear power systems for manned spacecraft was vital if Russia intends to maintain its leading position in the space industry.

He said the draft design of the spacecraft would be finished by 2012, and at least 17 billion rubles (more than 580 million U.S. dollars) were needed for further development over the next nine years.

Analysts believe the key scientific and technical problem in sending manned missions to the Moon and Mars is the development of new propulsion systems and energy supplies with a high degree of energy-mass efficiency.

Editor: Zhang Xiang

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Work on nuclear plants gears up

[Typically I post the article text, but in this case I encourage readers to go to the website below. There is a nice photo showing Sanmen 1 under construction.]


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Lloyd's Register: Lloyd's Register explores the reintroduction of nuclear propulsion for merchant ships


Research is focused on the application of nuclear propulsion to tankers, bulk carriers, container ships and cruise ships
Dec 10, 2009 (M2 PRESSWIRE via COMTEX) --

Early in 2007, Lloyd's Register began research into the implications of nuclear propulsion for merchant ships.

This initiative was built on Lloyd's Register's extensive experience in the traditional nuclear industries and from studies which led to the formation of its Rules for the Nuclear Propulsion of Ships.

The Rules, available from 1966 until 1976, were developed in response to the interest shown in nuclear propulsion in the early 1960s, which resulted in ships such as Savannah, and Otto Hahn, two ships that were technically successful.

At that time, operational and economic conditions were not conducive to commercial success of nuclear propulsion. But both ships, nevertheless, traded worldwide for some years.

Over the years, there has been a steady, slow development of nuclear propulsion for merchant ships -- principally with ice breakers -- but also extending to a lash barge carrier and a containership.

Indeed, two nuclear ice breakers presently are utilised on popular passenger cruises.

The steady increase in the price of fuel oil -- and the probable introduction of either a carbon-emissions trading scheme or a related tax -- now presents the possibility that nuclear propulsion could be more competitive.

Lloyd's Register's research programme is revisiting the technical challenges of nuclear propulsion for ships, as well as refuelling and waste-disposal issues.

The scope of the programme has been expanded to include public health, manning, training, operational, risk and regulatory requirements. The principle maritime sectors of focus are how these propulsion systems could benefit tankers, bulk carriers, container ships and cruise ships, although a range of other ship types may also benefit.

"The technology is there to commence building nuclear ships. The issues regarding their acceptability and the need for a cultural step-change in shipping still need to be addressed so that society is comfortable any risk is being managed", commented John Carlton, Global Head, Marine Technology & Investigations, Lloyd's Register.

Most nuclear-powered ships and submarines to date have relied on pressurised water reactor (PWR) technology and they have demonstrated an enviable record for reliability and safety when operated correctly.

However, other nuclear technologies soon may be available, including a range of high-temperature reactors, the pebble-bed concept, and designs developing on the original PWR concept.

Modern reactor technology has, since the early designs, progressively introduced enhanced safety and control features which make their use increasingly attractive and practical for merchant marine operations.

Nevertheless, the types of unmanned machinery spaces common in many modern ships are unlikely to be acceptable for nuclear-propelled vessels. Methods of crew-training also will need to undergo considerable modification.

In fact, a cultural shift will be essential in the marine engineering community if the lifecycle and environmental benefits of nuclear propulsion are to be realised, while managing the risks - both real and perceived.

Business models for ship purchases and operations also are likely to change significantly, since the majority of the costs are incurred earlier, during the build and commissioning stages.

In a nuclear-propelled ship, the fuel cost is included in the cost of the reactor. Ships that use conventionally enriched uranium then will be able to trade for up to five years before refuelling.

This refuelling period is not inconsistent with conventional survey periods, except the refuelling process would take about 30 days for a ship featuring a conventional PWR plant, under controlled conditions. The management of spent fuel, although established for the current industry in line with the conventional nuclear cycle, would also need to be thoroughly reviewed.

With conventional propulsion, the cost of the ship is broadly defined by its structure, outfitting and machinery; fuel costs are distributed throughout the lifecycle at frequent intervals.

The greenhouse gas challenge

Public concern for the environment in recent years has focussed on the way greenhouse gases are changing the world's climate. Although the marine industry contributes a relatively small proportion of those greenhouse gases in relation to the amount of goods and raw materials it transports, shipping's CO2 contribution from exhaust emissions is of growing concern.

A number of research initiatives have been introduced to mitigate this component of emissions from slow- and medium-speed diesel engines.

Lloyd's Register has been actively looking for the technological solutions to the challenges arising from ship propulsion to help the marine industry reduce its carbon footprint. Nuclear propulsion is one such technology, one that nullifies the industry's CO2 contribution.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

UPDATE 1-EDF to head French nuclear deal in Abu Dhabi


* EDF could take command of French nuclear bid-Proglio

* Bid to be submitted on Dec. 10-Proglio

* French consortium has already lowered price-sources

* Abu Dhabi nuclear plant project estimated at up to $40 bln

By Gilles Guillaume and Nina Sovich

PARIS, Dec 9 (Reuters) - EDF (EDF.PA) is set to take the lead in a fresh bid by a French consortium to sell at least two nuclear reactors to Abu Dhabi, the new head of the French nuclear power giant said on Wednesday.

"What is envisaged today, although nothing is set yet, is a management structure for the project, in which EDF would head up the project in association with GDF Suez," Henri Proglio told reporters on the sidelines of a conference.

Power and gas group GDF Suez (GSZ.PA), oil major Total (TOTF.PA) and Areva (CEPFi.PA), the world's biggest nuclear reactor maker, bid for the Abu Dhabi contract nearly two years ago, and were initially seen as the race's frontrunners.

But the French consortium -- which EDF joined earlier this year after a request by the United Arab Emirates to French President Nicolas Sarkozy -- have recently appeared to be losing ground to a rival bid by Korea Electric Power Corp (015760.KS).

A consortium comprising General Electric (GE.N) and Japan's Hitachi (6501.T) is also bidding.

In an effort to compete with the cheaper South Korean offer, the French consortium reduced its price in November, two sources with direct knowledge of the situation have told Reuters, adding they were now waiting for Abu Dhabi's decision.

But Proglio, chief executive of the world's largest single operator of nuclear power plants, told reporters on Wednesday that a bid would be submitted on Dec. 10.

Last month, Proglio blasted the French consortium for what he called its lack of coherence, so EDF taking a commanding role and the price cut could be seen as a last-minute move to land the deal.

"EDF has been strongly encouraged, at the highest political levels, to take the lead of the pack," said a source close to the bid, who asked not to be named.

French newspaper Les Echos reported on Wednesday, citing no sources, that EDF could take a 45 percent stake in the project, with GDF Suez holding an identical stake, and Total taking the remaining 10 percent.

"EDF was called to the rescue," Les Echos said, adding that the board of EDF had met on this issue on Tuesday and that GDF Suez's board would also meet later on Wednesday.

The consortium would not be expected to invest as part of this new plan, being paid by Abu Dhabi for their services instead, Les Echos said.

A spokeswoman for EDF declined to comment. (Writing by Marie Maitre; Editing by David Cowell)

Raila holds talks with nuclear Agency


Written By:PMPS , Posted: Tue, Dec 08, 2009

The International Atomic Energy Agency has agreed to partner with Kenya in the country´s quest to develop nuclear energy as an alternative source of power.

During talks with Prime Minister Raila Odinga at the agency's headquarters in Vienna Tuesday, the new Director General of the IAEA Mr Yukiya Amano said he is keen to have the agency become a useful tool in addressing needs of developing nations that have little access to advanced technology.

Mr Odinga held talks with the IAEA director after opening the 13th Session of the General Conference of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization UNIDO, in Vienna.

The Prime Minister said he had instructed the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology to work closely with the atomic energy agency in areas like agricultural development, health, especially cancer treatment, and energy generation.

Mr Odinga said energy is a basic need for a country's economic development.

He said reliance on hydro-electric power has however failed Kenya as it fluctuates, making the country's economy unable to compete with big and competing African economies like South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria.

"Unreliable rainfall patterns has affected our power generation and left us badly exposed. We have to look into alternative sources of power and nuclear looks a credible, long term alternative," Mr Odinga said.

"We are exploring geothermal, wind, solar and biofuels. But we have decided as a government that we must pursue nuclear also for purposes of longer term needs," he added.

He asked the atomic energy agency to help Kenya build the capacity by training local scientists on development of nuclear power.

He also asked the agency to partner with the Ministry of Higher education to educate Kenyans on the use of nuclear for peaceful purposes so as to dispel the stigma currently attached to nuclear science.

"When you talk about nuclear energy among laymen, people think of nuclear weapons. They think we are going to war. We must begin to educate our people that there are peaceful and productive uses for nuclear science. It is not just for weapons," the PM said.

He asked the atomic energy agency to set up a program that will see Kenyans come for training with the agency in readiness for Kenya's pursuit of nuclear energy.

Responding, Mr Amano said the use of nuclear power has been limited to the Developed Countries, which he said should not be the case.

He congratulated Kenya for considering nuclear energy to cushion the country from fluctuating effects of hydro power.

"You don't need to worry. Almost everyone in the developing world lacks expertise in this area and everyone else is just beginning to think of going nuclear. So you have begun at the right time," Mr Amano said.

He said capacity building would be important as the country prepares to pursue nuclear energy, adding that his agency could help with funding and drafting of relevant legislation dealing with installation and use of nuclear energy.

He said Kenya would also have to commit to support a code of conduct and regulations governing use of nuclear power for peaceful means.

"We will have to give priority to building the human capacity in your country and training. I assure you of support," Mr Amano said.

He said setting up nuclear power is expensive but in the long run, it is cheaper than all the other alternatives once it is in place.

Industrialization Minister Mr Henry Kosgey is accompanying the Prime Minister to the UNIDO conference.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Survey says state regulators like nuclear power

[Looks like nuclear energy is improving its position with state utility regulators.]


4 December 2009-- A survey says that U.S. state utility regulators prefer nuclear power over any other source.

Between August and October RKS Research and Consulting polled 97 state utility commissioners and 10 regulatory commission professional staffers across 52 jurisdictions about electric and natural gas issues. The results show that 35 percent of regulators chose nuclear power as a source that balances low energy costs and environmental impact. Natural gas was preferred by 18 percent of those polled, wind by 16 percent and coal by 8 percent. One in ten polled said they were unsure.

The survey also found regulators willing to permit utilities to contract directly with natural gas providers for their fuel. Around two-thirds of regulators said they strongly support the need for new ratemaking methodologies.

Monday, November 30, 2009

New radiation treatment saves cancer-stricken rhinoceros

[Thought this was an interesting special case in applied radiation.]


By Cristina Chang

Nov. 30, 2009 at 2:11 a.m.

Leah Greer was running out of options.

The senior clinical veterinarian at the Los Angeles Zoo had performed three surgeries on Randa the rhino, immobilizing her and removing part of her horn, but the bacterial infection persisted. The third biopsy confirmed squamous cell carcinoma, a skin cancer, in Randa’s horn. Three surgeries later, Greer realized that the cancer was more aggressive than previously thought.

Discussing the case at a meeting with the zoo’s medical advisory board, she sought a cost-efficient way to perform radiation treatment on the 4,000-pound Indian rhinoceros, which was too large to be carried into a radiation facility.

Dr. James Economou, a UCLA oncologist and member of the board, advised she speak to a colleague of his, Dr. Michael Steinberg.

Steinberg was working with Xoft, Inc., a company specializing in radiation oncology, to develop affordable and portable radiation devices, Greer said.

Steinberg, the chair of radiation oncology at UCLA, said Economou described the complicated situation.

“We can’t put her in a room since she’s a big wild animal,” Steinberg said.

As a result, Steinberg said he worked with Xoft, Inc., medical physicists and surgeons and the zookeeper to find a way to treat the animal.

During the summer, Randa was again immobilized with anesthetics while surgeons, including Economou, removed her horn. Steinberg and the radiation team then slipped Randa’s head into a portable device.

A week later, she went through another round of radiation.

The device emits soft radiation but is shielded with thin strips of lead sheeting about an inch thick to prevent the rays from penetrating others, Steinberg said.

“We basically applied basic principles of cancer,” he added. “We generalized what we knew about humans for this treatment.”

He said working with a wild animal is different from dealing with a person but added that squamous cell carcinoma can also occur in humans on the skin, tonsils, tongue and esophagus.

Seven surgeries and a removed horn later, Randa is doing well and remains extremely loving and tactile, said Stephanie Zielinski, Randa’s primary keeper.

Zielinski was placed in charge of Randa two years ago, around the time that the rhino developed cancer.

“It’s like when someone’s been ill for quite some time and (you) see light back in their eyes,” she said.

Every day at lunchtime, the rhino enclosure is a gathering place for keepers, and the rhino comes to play around and be touched, Zielinski added.

“She taught me how to be patient,” she said. “Even at her most ill, she would participate and try and do what we were asking for us.”

Greer has also seen improvements in Randa’s health and mood.

“She’s really a fantastic animal, 40 years old now,” Greer said. “It’s amazing how well she feels (the past few months),” she said, adding that Randa has been acting playfully as though she were young again.

French watchdog concerned over nuclear skills


France’s nuclear watchdog has expressed concern over the loss of skills in the atomic energy industry after a near 20-year gap in building reactors.

In an interview with the Financial Times, André-Claude Lacoste, head of the French Nuclear Safety Authority, said:

“The relaunch of construction, and monitoring that relaunch, are not simple. We have to regain experience. We have not built reactors for more than 15 years.”

Lacoste said this issue was preoccupying all countries embarking on new nuclear construction.

“We discuss this often with our international colleagues,” Lacoste said. “They have the same problem as us. How can an authority which may have lost some of its habits monitor the construction of a reactor when the construction groups have also got out of the habit?”

The issue will be of particular concern to the UK industry, where the construction of 10 new stations has just been approved.

The UK has less nuclear capacity than France and suffers from a similar skills gap.

The last nuclear station to be built in the UK, at Sizewell in Suffolk, was completed in 1995.

A recent report by the Aldersgate Group pointed out that EDF's nuclear arm in Britain is expecting to see about a third of its staff retire in the next 10 years.

The UK government set up a nuclear skills academy to improve training two years ago.

The academy oversaw the opening of a training centre in the North West, and another centre will open in the South West next year.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

French bid for Emirates nuclear plant at risk


A French attempt to win a 41-billion-dollar (27.2-billion-euro) contract to build nuclear power stations in the Emirates is at risk over pricing, the La Tribune newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The newspaper reported that the top official at the presidential Elysee Palace, Claude Geant, had held a meeting with the heads of big French companies concerned on Tuesday to discuss a further reduction in the price which the government in Abu Dhabi considered too high.

Present at the meeting were the head of French nuclear power group Areva, Anne Lauvergeon, the head of GDF Suez, Gerard Mestrallet, Christophe de Margerie who leads oil group Total and Henri Proglio of the electricity group EDF, the report said.

The report said that the bidding consortium comprising these companies and the US firm Bechtel were handicapped by the fall of the dollar.

The report said that a few days ago, under political pressure, the partners had reduced the price of their offer to build new-generation EPR (European pressurised reactor) power stations by 10 percent.

This was because the offer was considered too high by comparison with bids by competitors.

The rival companies are Hitachi of Japan which is allied with US group General Electric, and the South Korean company Kepco working with another South Korean group, Hyundai.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


[I find this story ironic, as there were so few nuclear jobs when I entered the profession in the late 1980s.]


Engineers in recession stricken industries are being urged to consider transferring their skills to the nuclear sector after the Government unveiled 10 sites to house a new generation of power stations.

Merseyside based Scantec Personnel, says there are now massive opportunities for engineers in the nuclear sector with each new power station expected to create 9,000 jobs in the building process and 1,000 once the plants are up and running.

Adam Spelman, the head of Scantec’s nuclear division, said UK-wide opportunities are also being created by the Government’s multi billion pound decommissioning programme as well as the construction of a new generation of reactors. He said skills in demand included a wide range of engineers, skilled tradesmen and surveyors.

“The recession is wreaking havoc with the jobs market,” s he said. “So the key phrase we are repeating to workers is ‘transferable skills’. Engineers need to understand that their skills are in demand in the nuclear sector and that real long term, well paid opportunities now exist in the nuclear industry. It is important to point out that the nuclear sector is willing to train up staff with core skills. Our advice to workers is talk to a specialist nuclear recruiter like Scantec and find out what opportunities exist for your skills set.”

Turkish nuclear tender may not be canceled - Energy Min


Ankara, November 10 (MIA) - A Turkish court has stalled the government's plans to generate nuclear energy by voiding parts of the tender to build its first plant, won by a Russian-led consortium, the TMMOB industrial body said on Tuesday.

Russia's Inter RAO, Atomstroiexport and Turkey's Park Teknik won the tender last year to construct and operate the nuclear plant, but the consortium has been in protracted negotiations with the government over electricity pricing.

"The Council of State has decided to suspend three articles in the tender process," said Mehmet Soganci, chairman of the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects, or TMMOB, which brought the case against the tender.

The tender process, in which the Russian consortium was the only bidder, had been criticised for lack of transparency, media reports say.

"The Council of State has found the nuclear power plant invalid," Soganci said.

It was not clear what the next step in the tender process would be or if there would be an appeal by the government or the consortium.

Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said it was "too early to say" whether plans to build the country's first nuclear power have been cancelled after a court annulled parts of a government tender.

The site for the plant is near the town of Akkuyu in the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey aims to build at least two more plants, with potential sites near the city of Sinop on the Black Sea, as it seeks to cover a looming electricity shortage and cut dependence on foreign energy imports.

The government wants nuclear energy to meet 20 percent of Turkey's power needs in 20 years.

Turkey and Russia have greatly strengthened their cooperation in energy, and Russia has promised Turkey its participation in several projects, while Russia plans to build a multibillion-dollar pipeline off Turkey's Black Sea coast.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Kenya plans nuclear plant in next five years: PM


by Staff Writers
Nairobi (AFP) Nov 7, 2009

Kenya hopes to build its first nuclear power plant in the next five years with help from France, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said on Saturday.
"We want to establish a nuclear plant. We want to start with a plant of the average of between 1,000 and 2,000 Megawatts (output) and we are looking at five years from now," Odinga said in an interview with AFP.

Odinga said nuclear power was one option Kenya was considering as it looked for ways to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

"We want to begin the cooperation right now so we can begin the training of personnel who will man this plant in the future, and France has offered to cooperate in that scheme of things," he said.

France was more experienced in nuclear power than many other countries, Odinga said, as nearly 80% of the country's energy is nuclear-generated, and Kenya hoped to draw on this expertise.

Thursday, November 5, 2009



TIANJIN, Nov 05, 2009 (AsiaPulse via COMTEX) --

The design and first-phase construction of three inland nuclear power stations in China has begun, Wang Binghua, chairman of State Nuclear Power Technology Corp., said Wednesday at 2009 China Power Forum.

The new sites are Xian'ning City in the central Hubei Province,Taohuajiang City in the central Hunan Province and Pengze City in the eastern Jiangxi Province.

China's existing nuclear power stations are sited along the eastern coast.

Building more nuclear power stations is essential to China's endeavor to cope with energy shortage and pollution, said Ye Qizhen, deputy director of the science and technology committee of the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and member of Chinese Academy of Engineering.

In other countries, most nuclear power stations are sited inland. For example, 65.1 per cent of nuclear power stations are sited inland in France and 75.1 per cent in the United States, Ye said.

China's vast inland areas need nuclear power stations to drive economic growth, especially in regions that lack coal and water resources, Ye said.

A massive power failure in January and February, 2008, caused by blizzards in central and southern China, signaled the risk of power shortage in China's hinterland.

Inland nuclear power stations will enter a phase of mass production and construction in 2013, said Sun Qin, general manager of the CNNC.

The inland nuclear power stations will all adopt the most advanced Westinghouse-designed AP1000 pressurized water reactors to meet the stringent safety and environment standards, Sun added.

China's installed capacity of nuclear power is expected to reach 70 million KW by 2020, 200 million KW by 2030 and 400 million KW by 2050, Ye said.

"It means nuclear power will account for seven per cent of China's overall power capacity in 2020, 15 per cent in 2030 and 22 per cent in 2050." Ye added.

Now China is able to simultaneously design and construct several nuclear power stations and is capable of independent designing of pressurized water reactor nuclear power stations with the capacity of more than one million KW, Ye added.

Currently, China has 11 operating nuclear power generating units with the total capacity of 9.1 million KW, said Zhou Zhenxing, chairman of Uranium Industry Company, a subsidiary of China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Corporation.

Another 12 newly approved units under construction have a capacity of 34.76 million KW, Zhou said.

(XIC) rw

France pledges help in developing Polish nuclear power plants


Associated Press
11/05/09 7:00 AM PST PARIS — France pledged Thursday to help Poland develop nuclear power plants and deepen cooperation on energy policy, a move which could help Poland lessen its dependence on natural gas from Russia.

Poland will send scientists to France for training starting this fall, while France will provide Poland with technical assistance and the two countries will cooperate in nuclear research and development, a joint statement said.

"We take this very seriously," French President Nicolas Sarkozy told a news conference at the Elysee Palace following his meeting with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk. Sarkozy said that France would be Poland's "exclusive" partner in nuclear development, but Tusk later said that Poland's energy policy had to be taken in a European context and that other countries down the road could participate once the projects were better defined.

"The plan is to have Poland's first nuclear power plant around the year 2020 and another one by the mid-20s," Tusk said.

France and Poland also said they want to work on developing convergence in the European gas market in order to "assure the security of (the natural gas) supply in Europe," the declaration said.

French-Polish ties appeared to be improving after several bumpy years, and Sarkozy paid tribute to Poland's stature as one of the "big" EU countries. "It's very easy to work with the Polish prime minister, with the Polish government," Sarkozy said.

On defense matters, the two countries appeared to have made progress in deepening their relations. France long has been wary of the primacy that Poland has put on its transatlantic relations with the United States. The two countries pledged to reinforce European security policy and in a significant new development said they would discuss nuclear dissuasion as well.

"Convinced of its importance, they (Poland and France) decided to open a bilateral dialogue on the role of nuclear dissuasion in the context of current security. Poland is the first country that does not have a nuclear weapon with which we (France) engage in such a dialogue," the summit communique said.

Agriculture, the environment and climate change also were on the agenda.

The two countries also decided to celebrate jointly the "Year of Chopin" in 2010 to celebrate the bicentennial of the pianist's birth and pay tribute to his Polish and French roots. They also announced a wide range of cultural events, including a retrospective on film director Andrzej Wajda and painter and writer Josef Czapski, who died in exile in France.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

UAE eyes stakes in nuclear companies


3 November 2009 - The UAE is setting up a new investment vehicle to take stakes in global nuclear companies as it prepares to award a contract to develop the first civilian nuclear plants in the Arab world.

According to the Financial Times, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation is expected to be formally established within weeks. It will oversee the development of the nuclear programme and act as a government investment arm by making strategic investments in the sector, domestically and internationally.

The government hopes an agreement with the US will be finalised shortly, which would allow civilian nuclear trade with the UAE. Similar deals have been reached with France and Korea.

The Gulf state is then expected to award contracts - estimated to be worth about $20bn - for the construction of the first nuclear power plants, which could produce between 4000 MW and 5500 MW of electricity by 2020.

The project is being led and funded by Abu Dhabi , the UAE's capital, which is spending hundreds of billions of dollars to develop the emirate and diversify its economy.

Three different consortia are thought to be competing for the nuclear contract. These include one led by France's Areva, another headed by General Electric of the US and a South Korean team that includes Korea Electric Power Corporation and Hyundai Engineering & Construction.

Areva has already been talking with Middle East investors about the possibility of selling a minority stake.

Abu Dhabi's Mubadala, a state investment vehicle, last year announced a target of becoming a top 10 investor in GE, with which it has also agreed to an $8bn joint venture to set up a commercial finance entity in Abu Dhabi modelled on GE Capital.

safety concerns may delay third-generation nuclear reactor

[For those who do not follow the industry, digital I&C has been a focus item for nuclear regulators. There are several articles in the industry press on the conversion to digital in the US nuclear plants.]


Paris - Nuclear safety authorities in France, Britain and Finland have issued a joint statement questioning the reliability of the new European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) currently being developed, the daily Les Echos reported Tuesday.

The statement raises concern over the reactor's command-control software which regulates its daily running and shuts it down in case of an incident. In its current state, the software cannot guarantee the necessary safety requirements, the report noted.

Potentially more problematic, the French nucear saftey authority ASN demanded that the French utilty EDF draw up an alternative plan for the EPR it will be running in the western French city of Flamanville.

According to Marcial Jorel, director of nuclear reactor safety at the Institute of Nuclear Safety and Radioprotection, "Either EDF takes our recommendations into account, or it must develop a new system, which will take years."

According to Les Echos, the Olkiluoto EPR nuclear power plant in Finland, which has already been delayed for three years and is scheduled to go online in 2012, may suffer an additional six-month delay because of the command-control problem.

French nuclear manufacturer Areva, which is building the Olkiluoto reactor, must now provide changes to its software and additional information by June of next year.

Both Areva and EDF said the concerns presented no unsurmountable problems.

"This is a process of step-by-step validation that is typical for projects of this kind. We have sufficient time to respond to the demands," Claude Jaouen, head of Areva's reactor division, told Les Echos.

However, the environmental group Greenpeace said the safety concerns expressed by the three authorities cast doubt over the entire industry.

"The nuclear industry is clearly showing its inability to manage the dangerous substances it manipulates and the waste it generates," Yannick Rousselet of Greenpeace France said Tuesday. "It is intolerable that the nuclear companies EDF and Areva continue their activities with impunity." (dpa)

Monday, September 14, 2009

UAE delays 41 bln dlr nuclear plants contract: report


DUBAI, Sep 14, 2009 (AFP) - The UAE has delayed awarding a 41 billion dollar contract to build nuclear power plants saying that the decision between the three rival bidders was too close to call, an Abu Dhabi daily said Monday.

"What happened ultimately was some of the bids were so close in some areas, we decided to proceed with all three," a senior government official told The National. "It will mean a slightly longer period of negotiations."

The decision on the contract, which was due to be awarded this Wednesday, will not come out until the end of the month, the newspaper reported, citing an unidentified diplomat.

A French group led by Areva, Electricite de France, GDF Suez and Total is competing against a Japanese-American alliance of Hitachi and General Electric, and a Korean-American consortium comprising Korea Electric Power, Samsung, Hyundai and US firm Westinghouse.

The Arab world's second-largest economy, the United Arab Emirates is seeking to reduce its dependence on hydrocarbons for power generation and to boost its image as an environmentally friendly country.

US President Barack Obama approved a civilian nuclear deal with the UAE in May.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

US Sen Boxer: Climate Bill To Include Nuclear-Power Measure


9-9-09 4:14 PM EDT | E-mail Article | Print ArticleWASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- In a sign that compromise on energy and climate legislation is already underway, a top Senate negotiator said that she will include a measure on nuclear power in a developing bill, something that Republicans have demanded.

U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer, D- Calif., who will be writing key parts of the climate bill, told reporters on Wednesday that "there will be a nuclear title in the bill." She had previously resisted any efforts to encourage nuclear power, saying before an August recess that nuclear power would already gain an advantage if the U.S. mandated reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions.

Republicans have encouraged nuclear power as a solution to climate change, saying that the near-zero emissions power plants are more reliable than renewable energy. Nuclear power is anathema to some environmentalists, partly amid concerns about how to dispose of nuclear waste.

-By Siobhan Hughes, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-862-6654; Siobhan.Hughes@ dowjones.com

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

China to Build More Nuclear Plants, Japan Steel Says

[A quick note that the AP-1000 reactors under construction in China will NOT have their vessels fabricated at JSW. News reports are that these vessels will be made by Doosan and then by the Chinese following technology transfer.]


By Masumi Suga and Shunichi Ozasa

Sept. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Japan Steel Works Ltd., a maker of atomic reactor parts for Areva SA and Toshiba Corp., more than doubled its forecast for China’s nuclear plant construction because of stimulus spending and environmental pressures.

The country may build about 22 reactors in the five years ending 2010 and 132 units thereafter, compared with a company estimate last year for a total 60 reactors, President Ikuo Sato said in an interview. Japan Steel Works has the only plant that makes the central part of a large-size nuclear reactor’s containment vessel in a single piece, reducing radiation risk.

China, the world’s largest energy consumer after the U.S., is increasing spending on atomic energy as part of a 4 trillion yuan ($586 billion) economic stimulus and as it curbs greenhouse gas emissions. Japan Steel Works is counting on the rising reactor demand as the global recession curbs sales to customers such as carmakers and electronics companies.

“The potential for investment in nuclear power is huge,” said Shi Yan, an analyst at UOB-Kay Hian Ltd. in Shanghai. “Only a small number of companies in China have the right to develop nuclear power projects, but the country is open to foreign companies to help build reactors and to provide equipment.”

Japan Steel Works, which has lost 4.6 percent of its value this year, climbed 8.2 percent to 1,174 yen on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 1.3 percent.

China became the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gasses from burning oil and coal in 2006, followed by the U.S., Russia, India and Japan, according to U.S. Department of Energy data compiled by Bloomberg News.

Business Talks

“China, which had increased construction of coal-fired power plants, is now trying to focus on nuclear power because of the environmental issue,” Sato, 60, who took office in June, said in the Aug. 31 interview in Tokyo. “China is accelerating nuclear spending, and additional business talks are coming up.”

The country has 9,100 megawatts of nuclear capacity and has approved the construction of additional reactors able to generate 25,400 megawatts, Sun Qin, then-deputy head of the National Energy Administration, said last month. China will issue a plan by the end of the year to push development of clean energy sources such as nuclear, wind, solar and hydro power.

The average time it took to build China’s first 10 nuclear reactors was 6.3 years, according to a report commissioned by the German environment ministry.

Gross domestic product in China expanded 7.9 percent in the second quarter as the economy rebounded from the weakest growth in almost a decade, boosted by stimulus spending.

“Similar to road and railway construction, nuclear energy is also part of China’s plans for a recovery after the economy slowed,” Sato said.

Global Increase

Globally, a total of 52 nuclear reactors were under construction as of Jan. 1, according to the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum Inc. Last year was the first time in the history of commercial nuclear power that no new reactors came into operation, according to International Atomic Energy Agency figures. Some 33 new plants came online in 1984 and that number has declined almost every year since.

Japan Steel Works is spending 80 billion yen ($864 million) at its Muroran plant in the country’s northern island of Hokkaido by March 2012 to increase capacity to make parts for 12 nuclear reactors a year, compared with 5.5 units now, the president said.

The investment will increase annual sales from Japan Steel Works’ cast and forged steel for electric and nuclear power to 70 billion yen from the year starting April 2012, up from 45.5 billion yen expected for the current year, Sato said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Masumi Suga in Tokyo at msuga@bloomberg.net; Shunichi Ozasa in Tokyo at sozasa@bloomberg.net.

Last Updated: September 7, 2009 08:39 EDT

Monday, August 17, 2009

UAE and Japan - A Nuclear Family

An article in the Asia-Pacific Journal provides a detailed overview of the new nuclear power program in the UAE, the well-established nuclear power program in Japan, and the potential for Japanese vendors to play a key role in the UAE.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Nuclear fusion power project to start in slimmed-down version


By Laurence Chabert, AFPJune 9, 2009

People look at tractors working on the future International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) site in Cadarache, southern France, in 2008. A multi-billion-dollar project to prove whether nuclear fusion, the power that fuels the Sun, can be a practicable energy source is to be scaled down in its early stages, sources said on Monday.Photograph by: Anne-Christine Poujoulat, AFPMARSEILLE, France – A multi-billion-dollar project to prove whether nuclear fusion, the power that fuels the Sun, can be a practicable energy source is to be scaled down in its early stages, sources said on Monday.

The test reactor, to be built at a site in southern France, will start its experiments in 2018 as scheduled but will initially be built in a slimmed-down form, they said.

"Discussions are underway about the best timetable," Catherine Cesarsky of France's Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) told journalists on the sidelines of a science conference here.

"There is a new commissioning strategy, a detailed discussion about the machine's deployment."

A decision approving the change will be put next week to the partners in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), she said.

Launched in 2006 after years of debate, the scheme aims at building a testbed at Cadarache, near Marseille, to see whether fusion, so far achieved in a handful of labs at great cost, can be a feasible power source.

Its seven backers are the European Union (EU), China, India, South Korea, Japan, Russia and the United States. Kazakhstan is poised to become the eighth member.

Nuclear fusion entails forcing together the nuclei of light atomic elements in a super-heated plasma, held in a doughnut-shaped chamber called a tokamak, so that they make heavier elements and in so doing release energy.

The process, used by the Sun and other stars, would be safe and have negligible problems of waste, say its defenders.

In contrast, nuclear fission, which entails splitting the nucleus of an atom to release energy, remains dogged by concerns about safety and dangerously radioactive long-term waste.

Cesarsky said the first experiments would begin on schedule in 2018 "but with a machine that will be less complete than initially thought."

"Technically, it is far more valuable to do the first plasma with an ITER that is not completely finished, because if there is a simple problem it can be detected."

A spokesman for ITER told AFP that the scaled-down version would entail using hydrogen initially.

Key experiments using tritium and deuterium, designed to validate fusion as a producer of large amounts of power, would not take place until 2026, the spokesman said.

This would be around five years later than previously scheduled.

The planned changes will be submitted to the ITER council, meeting in Mito, Japan, on June 17 and 18, he said.

The council will meet again in November to make a new assessment of costs, the official said.

Four years ago, ITER was priced at around 10 billion euros (13.8 billion dollars today), spread among its stakeholders, led by the EU, which has a 45-percent share.

Five billion euros (6.9 billion dollars) would go to constructing the tokamak and other facilities, and five billion euros to the 20-year operations phase.

Last month, the British science journal Nature said construction costs "are likely to double" and the cost of operations "may also rise."

If ITER is a success, the next step would be to build a commercial reactor, a goal likely to be further decades away.

© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

Babcock & Wilcox planning mini nuclear reactor


By DUNCAN MANSFIELD - Associated Press Writer

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Babcock & Wilcox Co. announced plans Wednesday for a new class of mini nuclear reactors to be built in North American factories and shipped by rail to generating sites, and the Tennessee Valley Authority is evaluating what could become the first reactor location in Tennessee.

"This important project, we believe, will be a milestone in the nuclear renaissance," Brandon Bethards, CEO of Lynchburg, Va.-based B&W said during a teleconference from Washington.

The advanced light water reactor, named the "B&W mPower," represents "the harvesting of decades of nuclear manufacturing and design experience to provide a cutting-edge power generation source with emissions-free operation," he said.

The reactors will generate 125 megawatts - about one-tenth the size of a conventional commercial nuclear reactor - and offer several passive safety design features, including an underground containment that could accommodate storage for all of the spent fuel the reactor would use in a 60-year operating life.

A single reactor could power about 100,000 homes or a large factory. But more reactors can be added if needed.

The company plans to apply to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for design certification by 2011 and have the first unit under construction by 2015 and powered up in 2018.

NRC spokesman Scott Burnell said B&W's licensing timeline is "not unreasonable, but at this point it is completely hypothetical." Other companies, including Toshiba, have discussed small reactors with the NRC, though none has submitted an application yet.

Burnell said the B&W design should contain many systems and technologies the NRC is familiar with in a standard pressurized water reactor. But building a reactor underground may require additional seismic analysis.

Knoxville-based TVA has signed a memorandum of understanding to assist the project by evaluating environmental conditions for a possible site for the first reactor. TVA nuclear executive Jack Bailey said TVA will examine a 1,300-acre site in nearby Oak Ridge where the scrapped Clinch River Breeder Reactor was to be built in the 1980s.

"I think you are coming into the market at the right time," said Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, a longtime nuclear power advocate who hopes to see hundreds of manufacturing jobs created at B&W plants near Cleveland and Akron, as well as in Indiana, to build the reactor.

B&W expects to add up to 500 manufacturing and engineering jobs in the next few years in Ohio, Virginia, Indiana, Tennessee and possibly Canada just to get the reactor through design and licensing, said John Fees, CEO of B&W's Houston-based parent company, McDermott International.

Tennessee Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, and Tennessee Reps. Lincoln Davis and Zach Wamp also gave their support during the teleconference.

Alexander, the Senate's third-ranking Republican, has proposed the United States build 100 nuclear reactors over the next 20 years - doubling the 104 now in operation - in response to global climate change and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"My fellow Tennessean Al Gore, who has won the Nobel Prize for his campaign on the dangers of global warming, has a line he often uses about nuclear power - 'Nuclear may have a role to play, but unfortunately reactors only come in one size - extra large,'" Alexander said.

"Well, until today, Al Gore has been right," Alexander said, calling the mini reactor a new alternative. "Global warming may be the inconvenient problem, but especially after today, nuclear power is the inconvenient answer," he said.

TVA and Chicago-based Exelon Corp. will participate in an industry council advising B&W on the mini reactor. Exelon operates 17 reactors at 10 plants, while TVA has six reactors at three sites, is finishing a seventh reactor and planning up to four more.

"We believe the (mini reactor) has the potential to be game changing, yet is also practical and lower risk for the energy industry at a time when it is clearly in need of new solutions for a cleaner, more efficient future," said Craig Lambert, Exelon's vice president for nuclear engineering.

Friday, June 5, 2009

First wave or second wave for US nuclear projects?

I wrote an article for the June 2009 Nuclear Power International on the strategy being followed by US nuclear projects. Most projects are proceeding toward a potential first wave construction start, even though only a few (perhaps only those that get acceptable DOE loan guarantees) will actually start construction in the first wave.

Waiting until 2012 (when COL approvals should come) to decide to postpone a nuclear project may be much more expensive than moving to a thoughtful second-wave strategy now. Some companies, including Entergy and Ameren, seem to have decided to shift to the second wave already.

The article is at

Thursday, June 4, 2009

China eyes Sanmen nuclear plant expansion end-2011


Thu Jun 4, 2009 2:34am EDT

SANMEN, China, June 4 (Reuters) - China hopes to start building the next phase of its Sanmen nuclear plant by the end of 2011, the head of the project company said on Thursday. Sanmen in Zhejiang province, near Shanghai, is one of two sites in China where Westinghouse, a unit of Toshiba Corp (6502.T), and the Shaw Group (SGR.N) are building the first of their AP1000 reactors, so-called "third generation" nuclear plants.

The firms have started building the first phase -- two of a total planned six AP1000 reactors -- and expect it to start operating in 2013.

"There's some preparations and contracts to sign, but we hope to be launching construction of the second phase by the end of 2011," Gu Jun, general manager of China National Nuclear Corp Sanmen Nuclear Power Plant, told reporters at the site.

The consortium is building the plant under a technology transfer programme. China -- which wants to be in a position to build AP1000 reactors on its own by 2020 -- expects to complete the final phase without foreign help.

"We hope that units 5 and 6 will be built by ourselves," Gu said.

Westinghouse's AP1000 technology rivals the "third generation" design of Areva SA (CEPFi.PA), the European Pressurised Reactor, which is also being built in China.

Both firms are hoping their technology will become the favourite as countries across the world turn to nuclear as a reliable source of energy with low emissions.

China is leading the charge into nuclear power as it tries to wean itself off cheap but dirty coal. It has 11 working reactors capable of producing 9.07 gigawatts but wants to have 60-70 GW by 2020, about 5 percent of the total anticipated capacity.

As well as its two sites in China, Westinghouse says it has been picked to provide technology for 14 planned U.S. plants and last week said it would start talks with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India to deploy AP1000 technology there.

Areva's deputy president in China, Eric Neisse, told Reuters in an interview last month that Westinghouse's plants posed more risks than its own EPR. Its plant at Taishan in Guangdong province will be the third it has built, following projects in France and Finland. [ID:nPEK184789]

But Sanmen project manager Gu was confident about the AP1000.

"It's true that Areva's EPR is more mature than AP1000, but AP1000 has gone through a lot of R&D," he said.

"We have considered all factors: safety, cost, technology. And while there is some risk (in using untested technology), we believe the problems can be solved quickly during the construction process."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

White House names Gregory Jaczko US NRC chairman


Washington (Platts)--13May2009
President Barack Obama has named Commissioner Gregory Jaczko as chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the White House announced Wednesday.

Senate confirmation is not required because Jaczko is already a member of the commission.

Jaczko, a physicist who currently is the only Democrat on the presidentially appointed commission, will replace Dale Klein as chairman. Klein said early this year that he plans to serve out the remainder of his term -- ending in June 2011 -- as a commissioner if replaced as chairman.

Before joining the commission in 2005, Jaczko was science adviser to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. Reid, a fierce opponent of the DOE high-level nuclear waste repository project at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, pushed for Jaczko's appointment to the commission in 2005. Jaczko's second term ends in June 2013.

"The industry expected this to happen," the industry official said of Jaczko's appointment. He said the industry will continue to work with Jaczko. "He has always had an open door," the official said.

One of the biggest issues the new chairman will have to deal with is the licensing of new reactors. In a keynote address at the NRC's Regulatory Information Conference in February, Jaczko expressed frustration that NRC?s new streamlined licensing process for new reactors wasn't operating as smoothly as had been envisioned.

Klein and Commissioners Pete Lyons and Kristine Svinicki are Republicans. No more than three members of any one political party can be appointed to the commission. One seat on the five-member commission is vacant. Lyons' first five-year term expires at the end of next month. Svinicki's first term ends in June 2012.
--Elaine Hiruo, elaine_hiruo@platts.com
--Steven Dolley, steven_dolley@platts.com

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

High-Density Deuterium Could Become Nuclear Fusion Fuel


The material is immensely heavier than water
By Tudor Vieru, Science Editor

13th of May 2009, 09:34 GMT

A few years ago, if someone would have told a scientist that humans will end up producing materials that are more dense than the core of the Sun, they wouldn't have believed it. Still, this is true now. Researchers at the University of Gothenburg are working on creating ultra-dense deuterium (more commonly known as heavy hydrogen) that will be a hundred thousand times more heavier than water is. The scientists hope that the new material will set the basis for a new form of nuclear energy production, one that is not as damaging to the environment as existing ones, and also more sustainable.

“One important justification for our research is that ultra-dense deuterium may be a very efficient fuel in laser-driven nuclear fusion. It is possible to achieve nuclear fusion between deuterium nuclei using high-power lasers, releasing vast amounts of energy. If we can produce large quantities of ultra-dense deuterium, the fusion process may become the energy source of the future. And it may become available much earlier than we have thought possible,” UG Department of Chemistry Professor Leif Holmlid, who has been the leader of the new research, shares.

Thus far, only microscopic amounts of the new stuff have been created in the German laboratory. Experts say that a cube of the ultra-dense deuterium, with a side length of just ten centimeters, weighs approximately 130 tonnes. In addition, the hydrogen atoms inside the compound are connected to each other in a much tighter manner than they usually bond in. This artificially created type of connection is very difficult to master, and that is why German researchers are currently trying to create more of the new type of deuterium. Once an efficient production method is devised, the path to creating new power plants will be opened.

“Further, we believe that we can design the deuterium fusion such that it produces only helium and hydrogen as its products, both of which are completely non-hazardous. It will not be necessary to deal with the highly radioactive tritium that is planned for use in other types of future fusion reactors, and this means that laser-driven nuclear fusion as we envisage it will be both more sustainable and less damaging to the environment than other methods that are being developed,” the expert concludes, as quoted by ScienceDaily.

Finnish regulators halt welding of piping at Olkiluoto-3


Stockholm (Platts)--12May2009
STUK has ordered a stop to welding of Olkiluoto-3 primary circuit piping due to discovery of small cracks next to some welds, Martti Vilpas, an official from the Finnish nuclear regulatory agency said in an interview May 12. STUK will not allow welding to resume until manufacturer Areva and its customer, utility TVO, submit a report outlining the root cause of the anomaly and its potential safety implications, he said. Indications of cracking were found earlier this spring during the manufacturer's inspection of welds on hot leg piping in Areva's facility in France. Vilpas said that a few weeks ago similar indications were found next to a weld on the third hot leg. The cracks are 1 to 2 millimeters in length and 1.8 millimeters deep. The piping is 76 millimeters thick. He said the defects can probably be ground out. Areva is building the 1,600-MW-class EPR at Olkiluoto-3 along with Siemens in a turnkey contract with TVO.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Asian nations take nuclear option


Tamsin Carlisle

Last Updated: May 09. 2009 4:39PM UAE / May 9. 2009 12:39PM GMT As the long-awaited nuclear renaissance shows signs of being still-born in the West, it is proceeding apace in the developing economies of Asia and the Middle East, shifting the centre of nuclear development eastwards.

While the UAE steadily lays the groundwork required for it to become the first atomic-powered state in the Arab world, China is embracing nuclear technology as it embarks on a full-scale makeover of its coal-dependent electricity sector.

In central Asia, Kazakhstan is planning to build on its unassailable position as the continent’s biggest uranium supplier to develop a civilian nuclear power industry. Elsewhere in the region, a number of states unblessed with large oil and gas resources are eyeing nuclear power as a practical means to reduce their energy imports.

Nuclear power development takes lots of time, money and political will, along with careful planning and technical know-how. In many jurisdictions, especially developed countries, it also requires a significant level of popular support. Money and support are proving to be the biggest stumbling blocks in Europe, while a lack of co-ordinated planning between governments and industry is emerging as an additional hurdle in the US.

“We are still the bad, and renewables are still the good,” Koen Beyaert, the director of communication at the Belgian Nuclear Forum, a pro-nuclear group, lamented at a nuclear energy conference earlier this year in Brussels.

Ralf Guldner, a director of the nuclear unit of E.On, the German utility, added: “So far, people have not really understood that nuclear energy can contribute significantly to solving the climate issue.”

On the money side, Xavier de Rollat, the director of corporate and investment banking at Societe Generale, has calculated that the roughly three dozen new reactors being planned for Europe outside Russia would require at least €100 billion (Dh500.04bn) of investment, which he doubts could be raised in the current financial climate. Many European countries that had announced plans to start nuclear programmes would have trouble financing them, he predicted.

Darius Montvila, the strategic projects director at the state-owned Lithuanian Electricity Organisation, told the Brussels conference: “We have chosen the technology, but financing will be difficult, given Lithuania’s size and the economic situation.” Lithuania’s economy has been hit so hard by the global recession that its government is considering seeking an emergency loan from the IMF.

Across the Atlantic, at a nuclear conference in Rockville, Maryland, organised by the energy information group Platts, delegates heard that the rules governing US federal loan guarantees for nuclear development were in conflict with state and municipal laws in parts of the country, which was hampering the federal programme’s effectiveness.

Gregory Jaczko, the commissioner of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, who forecast long delays ahead for US nuclear energy development, said: “We now find ourselves making some of the same mistakes of the past.”

But China, still flush with foreign capital, does not face the financial constraints that are limiting energy investment in the West. Nor does its non-elected government have to worry about placating anti-nuclear activists. What it does face are large public health costs for respiratory illnesses related to pollution from coal-fired power plants, along with pressure from western trade partners to reduce carbon emissions. Both problems could be handily addressed by replacing ageing coal-fired generating stations with new nuclear facilities, which is apparently what China’s government intends to do.

The governments of most oil-rich Middle-Eastern countries also have money available for nuclear development, if they wish to pursue such a course. owever, only a handful of states, including the UAE, are making serious moves in this direction. Still, the region as a whole has only recently had to come to grips with growing electricity shortages caused by faster than expected population growth and industrial expansion, and public awareness that nuclear energy could help solve this problem is spreading.

In general, momentum towards the adoption of civilian nuclear power has been gathering in the region.

Despite international concerns about potential nuclear arms proliferation, it may now have reached critical mass.

Many individual Asian and Middle-Eastern countries face difficulties in their pursuit of a nuclear powered future, and new atomic power stations will not pop up overnight. But they are undoubtedly on the way, as this round-up of nuclear development activity indicates.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Lessons from TMI Accident: US Nuclear Industry Scores High


April 25, Apr 25, 2009 (Asia Pulse Data Source via COMTEX) --

March 28, 1979 is a day every one in nuclear power industry wants to forget. It was on that fateful day the most serious accident occurred at Unit 2 of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Middletown, Pennsylvania, USA. The accident did not kill or injure any plant worker or member of the public The unit 2 (900 MWe, Pressurized Water Reactor) was operating at 97% power; some equipment malfunctioned; this, together with certain design-related problems and worker errors led to partial melt down of its core. It shook the confidence of the public.

The clean up measures to mitigate the effects of the accident were very expensive. But the environmental impact of the accident was not high. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) reported that the average radiation dose to 2 million people in the area was about one millirem, compared to the dose due to natural gamma background radiation of about 100-125 millirem for the area; the maximum dose to a person at the site boundary would have been less than 100 millirem.

Several independent groups of respected professionals investigated the accident comprehensively and concluded that in spite of serious damage to the reactor, most of the radionuclides were contained; the actual release had negligible effects on the physical health of individuals or environment. (NucNet release March 23).

According to NRC the accident ?brought about sweeping changes involving emergency response planning, reactor operator training, human factors engineering, radiation protection, and many other areas of nuclear power plant operations. It also caused the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to tighten and heighten its regulatory oversight ?(NRC Fact sheet, March 2009).

The Kemeny Commission set up by Jimmy Carter, the then US president, to investigate the accident made comprehensive recommendations. The US nuclear power industry learnt many lessons from the accident. These led to make US nuclear power plants enviably efficient and safe.

In 1980, the average capacity factor (the ratio of electricity produced compared with the maximum electric power a plant can produce, operating at full power all the year around) for US nuclear power reactors was 56.3%; it increased steadily and remained consistently above 90% for the past ten years. Sixteen of the 104 reactors had capacity factors of over 100% in 2008. According to the American Nuclear Society (ANS), the clean up after the accident offered unique technological and radiological challenges. It took 12 years. So far the utility spent nearly US$973 million. The decommissioning team shipped 342 fuel canisters safely for long-term storage at the Idaho National Laboratory.

More than 1000 skilled workers carried out safely and successfully the clean up plan developed by a team of specialists. It began in August 1979, with the first shipments of accident-generated lowlevel radiological waste to Richland, Washington.

In the cleanup?s closing phases, in 1991, approximately one percent of the fuel and debris remains in the vessel.

The team emptied the last remaining water from the TMI-2 reactor in 1991. The cleanup ended in December 1993. The Unit 2 received a license from the NRC to remain as a monitored storage facility, to be decommissioned in 2014.

TMI-2 cleanup operations produced over 10.6 million litres of accident-generated water that was processed, stored and ultimately evaporated safely.

Early in the cleanup, the team completely severed TMI-2 from any connection to TMI Unit 1. The owners do not anticipate any further use of TMI-2. Over a dozen major independent health studies of the accident showed no evidence of any abnormal increase of cancers around TMI years after the accident (ANS, 2005). Specialists do not expect any adverse health effect among the populations living in the area is as the radiation doses to the population were negligible.

In June 1996, Harrisburg US District Court Judge Sylvia Rambo dismissed a class action lawsuit alleging that the accident caused health effects.

The National Cancer Institute studied the cancer mortality rates around 52 nuclear power plants including TMI and nine US Department of Energy facilities at the request of US Senator Edward M. Kennedy, chairman of the Senate Committee on Labour and Human Resources. The study concluded that the survey has produced no evidence that an excess occurrence of cancer has resulted from living near nuclear facilities.

During TMI-2 accident, TMI-1 was shut down for refuelling. It remained shut down till October 1985. TMI-1 received all the benefits from the lessons learnt from the accident at TMI-2.

According to the World Nuclear Association, When TMI-1 restarted, its owners, General Public Utilities pledged that they would operate the plant safely and efficiently; they desired that it would become a leader in the nuclear power industry (WNA, 2001). The plant lives up to their expectations.

The owners of TMI-1 modified the plant and revamped the training and operating procedures in light of the lessons of TMI-2.

Since then, TMI-1 clocked many creditable records. In 1997, TMI-1 completed the longest operating run of any light water reactor in the history of nuclear power worldwide - 616 days and 23 hours of uninterrupted operation. (That run was also the longest at any steam-driven plant in the U.S., including plants powered by fossil fuels.) In October 1998, TMI employees completed three million hours of work without a lost-work day accident. In 2008, it clocked a capacity factor of 106.7%.

The licence to operate TMI-1 expires on April 19, 2014. On January 8, 2008, the utility owners have applied to operate the reactor for an additional 20 years. The NRC has issued the safety evaluation report (NRC release, March 13). Three Mile Island Alert, a nuclear watchdog founded in 1977 has opted not to oppose the plant owner?s (Exelon) application to re-license the plant through 2034.

The record performance of all US nuclear power plants post TMI may gradually remove the stigma attached to them because of the TMI accident.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Nuclear bomb tests help to identify fake whisky

[A good example of the PRACTICAL uses of nuclear science and technology. :-)]


Radioactive material flung into the atmosphere by nuclear bomb tests is helping scientists to fight the multi-million pound trade in counterfeit antique malt whisky.

By Richard Gray, Science Correspondent
Last Updated: 11:55PM BST 02 May 2009

Bottles of vintage whisky can sell for thousands of pounds each, but industry experts claim the market has been flooded with fakes that purport to be several hundred years old but instead contain worthless spirit that was made just a few years ago.

Scientists have found, however, that minute levels of radioactive carbon absorbed by the barley as it grew before it was harvested to make the whisky can betray how old it is.

Researchers at the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, which is funded by the National Environmental Research Council, discovered that they could pinpoint the date a whisky was made by detecting traces of radioactive particles created by nuclear bomb tests in the 1950s.

They can also use natural background levels of radioactivity to identify whiskies that were made in earlier centuries.

Dr Tom Higham, deputy director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, said: "It is easy to tell if whisky is fake as if it has been produced since the middle of the twentieth century, it has a very distinctive signature.

"With whiskies that are older, we can get a range of dates but we can usually tell which century it came from. The earliest whisky we have dated came from the 1700s and most have been from 19th century.

"So far there have probably been more fakes among the samples we've tested than real examples of old whisky."

The technique the scientists use is known as radiocarbon dating and is more commonly used by archaeologists to date ancient fragments of bone and wood.

It relies upon the fact that all living organisms absorb low levels of a radioactive isotope known as carbon 14, a heavy form of carbon which is present in low levels in the atmosphere.

After death, levels of this isotope in animal and plant remains will slowly decay away, meaning scientists can estimate their age from the amount of carbon 14 that remains in the sample.

Nuclear bomb testing in the 1950s saw levels of carbon 14 in the atmosphere rise around the world and so the amount of isotope absorbed by living organisms since this time has been artificially elevated.

Most of the tests on whiskies have been conducted for the Scotch Whisky Research Institute, which is responsible for analysing the authenticity of Scotch malt whisky.

Phials of whisky extracted from the antique bottles are sent to the laboratory in Oxford, where the scientists burn the liquid and bombard the resulting gas with electrically charged particles so they can measure the quantities of carbon 14 in the sample.

In one recent case, a bottle of 1856 Macallan Rare Reserve, which was expected to sell for up to £20,000, was withdrawn from auction at Christies after the scientists found it had actually been produced in 1950.

David Williamson, from the Scotch Whisky Association, said: "The collectors' market has been growing and the SWA would strongly recommend any prospective buyer takes steps to satisfy themselves as to the product's provenance.

"A range of authenticity tests can be carried out on the liquid and packaging and occasionally, radio carbon dating techniques have been used to assist assessments of the liquid's age."

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Progress delays Florida nuclear project 20 months


Fri May 1, 2009 6:18pm EDT
HOUSTON, May 1 (Reuters) - Progress Energy's (PGN.N) Florida utility will delay the construction timeline for its $14 billion nuclear plant in Levy County and scale back early charges to pay for the plant, the company said on Friday.

Florida's second-largest utility said a 20-month delay in the construction schedule for two 1,105-megawatt, AP1000 reactors will push commercial operation of the first unit to 2018, rather than 2016 as currently envisioned. A second reactor at the site could begin operation about 2020.

The schedule change follows a ruling by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that prevents certain excavation and foundation work until Progress receives a license to construct and operate the plant, the utility said in a statement.

Progress had hoped to proceed with the foundation work ahead of the issuance of a license, expected by early 2012.

An NRC spokesman said the determination was based on geologic characteristics of the Levy site.

While the Levy County nuclear station remains a "top priority," the delay may be best for customers' wallets, given the severity of the economic slowdown in Florida, said Jeff Lyash, Progress Energy Florida president.

"Shifting this portion of the work until we have the combined operating license in hand enables us to spread some of the costs over a longer period," Lyash said.

The delay may also improve the project's chances of being built.

The shift "provides time for the economy to recover, which should allow for financing in a more stable market," said Progress Energy Chief Executive Bill Johnson.

For a second time, Progress asked state regulators to reduce the amount it will charge customers to help pay for the new nuclear station and work to boost output at Progress Florida's Crystal River nuclear station by 180 megawatts.

The utility seeks approval to spread Levy's early cost recovery over five years to lessen the impact on monthly customer bills.

If approved, the deferral would result in a 2010 nuclear charge of $6.69 per month for a customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours, down from $12.63 allowed under Florida law.

In March, Florida regulators approved a Progress request to reduce the 2009 monthly nuclear charge by nearly $8, to $3.62.

Florida lawmakers were among the first in the nation to allow utilities to collect nuclear costs ahead of construction as a way to advance Gov. Charlie Crist's effort to address global warming concerns by reducing Florida's carbon dioxide emissions.

A new timeline for the Levy County project depends on negotiations under way with contractors Westinghouse Electric Co (6502.T) and The Shaw Group (SGR.N), Progress said. (Reporting by Eileen O'Grady ; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

Bellefonte not picked for nuclear pilot project


Friday, May 01, 2009 By DAVID BREWERTimes Staff Writer david.brewer@htimes.com
Group chose sitein Georgia; TVAsays plans on track

SCOTTSBORO - NuStart Energy Development has picked a Georgia nuclear plant over the Bellefonte site near Scottsboro as its pilot project for a new generation of reactors.

But the Tennessee Valley Authority said it will continue pursuing federal approval to build and operate Units 3 and 4 at the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant.

TVA said Thursday that NuStart "is transferring the reference designation" to build two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors from Bellefonte to Southern Co.'s Plant Vogtle site near Waynesboro, Ga.

"The change," it said, "is designed to align industry and regulatory resources with a license application that has specific, near-term construction plans."

Atlanta-based Southern, parent of Alabama Power, anticipates getting a license to build and run the two new reactors in 2011 and having them online by 2016. TVA is looking at getting a license for Bellefonte in 2012 and having its two units ready by 2018. The Nuclear Regulatory Association must approve all new reactors.

The switch in designation "doesn't change our plan," TVA spokesman Terry Johnson said Thursday. Building and operating two AP1000 reactors "is still an option for the Bellefonte site," he said.

The transfer, he said, means only that the selected plant will have a standard reactor design that other plants will follow.

In 2006, TVA opted to partner with NuStart, a Pennsylvania-based consortium of nuclear utilities, to build a new plant rather than finish Bellefonte. That decision was based in part on the AP1000's simpler design, which some experts say will be less costly to build and run.

TVA decided later that it also would consider finishing Bellefonte units 1 and 2.

Unit 1 was about 85 percent complete and Unit 2 about 55 percent finished when TVA halted construction in the late 1980s after spending about $4.2 billion. At the time, TVA cited its rising debt and reduced demand for electricity.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

US may have seen last new nuclear, coal plant: FERC's Wellinghoff

[If I had a nickel every time someone said natural gas would be cheap forever and get rid of nuclear...]


Washington (Platts)--22Apr2009
In remarks focused on the promise of renewable energy and demand-side management, US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Jon Wellinghoff on Wednesday suggested that there may never be another new nuclear or coal power plant built in the country.

Pointing to upwards of 1,000 GW of potential wind energy in the Midwest and West, new solar power production and storage technologies and emerging hydrokinetic power resources, Wellinghoff asserted that renewables are poised to play a substantial, gap-filling role in the US energy picture.

That, coupled with strong natural gas reserves and load-response leveling systems, could simply price coal and nuclear out of the energy market equation
for the foreseeable future, the chairman said at a Washington press briefing
sponsored by the United States Energy Association.

Asked about challenges facing construction of new nuclear and coal power
plants, Wellinghoff allowed that "we may not need any, ever." That's a "theoretical question" because "I don't see anybody building these things until costs get to a reasonable level."

He characterized the projected costs of new nuclear plants as prohibitive, citing estimates of roughly $7,000/kW.

Price tags for new coal plants are similarly daunting, he said. Coal plants also are being pressed by natural gas, which is coming on strong as a competitor for power production, the chairman said.

"Natural gas is going to be there for a while," he said, noting that production companies in recent years have discovered that "we have twice as much" gas in the US "than we previously thought." That, in combination with other factors, figures to keep natural gas relatively inexpensive "for a while," competing "on the margin with coal" for new generation load.
--Chris Newkumet, chris_newkumet@platts.com

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

China may bid for Jordan's $3.5 bln nuclear contract


Tue Apr 21, 2009 10:18am GMT

BEIJING, April 21 (Reuters) - China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) could join the bidding to build a nuclear power plant in Jordan worth $3.5 billion, Khaled Toukan, chairman of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC), said on Tuesday.

French nuclear energy producer Areva (CEPFi.PA: Quote), Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) (015760.KS: Quote), Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL) and Russia's Atomstroyexport are already competing for the right to build the plant.

"Others, including CNNC, may join the bidding process, given there is still some time before the decision will be made," Toukan told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference in Beijing.

He said it might take three years to choose the contractor and a further four or five years to build the plant, which would have generating capacity of at least 1 gigawatt, perhaps more.

At 1 GW, the plant would cost $3.3-3.5 billion. It is expected to generate around one quarter of Jordan's electricity. The country has yet to choose a site for the reactor and a lack of water was complicating the issue, Toukan said.

Jordan has reasonably assured resources of about 70,000 metric tonnes of uranium oxide in the centre of the country.

A Jordanian joint venture with Areva is exploring one block which is expected to start production in 2012-2013, while a partnership with China's Sino (U) is in the early stage of exploring two blocks, he said.

China builds third generation nuclear reactors

[Several of my colleagues are working on the Sanmen project. It will be interesting to see if schedule holds on this first AP-1000.]


Zhejiang (China) |Monday, 2009 7:35:09 PM IST

China Sunday started the construction of its Sanmen Nuclear Power Plant in collaboration with US-based Westinghouse in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang.

The plant will be built in three phases, with an investment of about 40 billion yuan ($5.88 billion) in the first phase.

The two pressurised water reactors to be built in the first phase will generate 1.25 mn kw each.

The first reactor will be put into operation in 2013, and the second in 2014. The plant will have six reactors.

"It is the biggest energy cooperation project between China and the US," said Zhang Guobao, head of the National Energy Administration.

China launched bidding for the Sanmen nuclear power plant in 2003. Foreign companies including Westinghouse, France's Areva and Russia's AtomStroyExport participated in the process.

Westinghouse became the winner after China signed a memo with the US on the introduction and transfer of third-generation nuclear power technologies in December 2006.

The agreement was signed between China's State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation and Westinghouse in July 2007.

Two of the four pressurised water reactors will be installed in Sanmen, while two others will be installed in Haiyang City in eastern Shandong province.

China presently has 11 nuclear reactors at its six nuclear power plants, all on the east coast, with a combined installed capacity of 9.07 mn kw.

To meet its fast economic growth, China plans to develop more nuclear power. The country plans to have 40 mn kw of installed nuclear capacity by 2020.

Speaking at Sunday's inauguration ceremony of the first-phase project of the Sanmen Nuclear Power Plant, Chinese vice premier Li Keqiang has called for more efforts to develop new energy to ensure the country's energy security and boost economic growth.