Building a first of a kind nuclear reactor comes with “known unknowns”
Note to readers: This blog post is the first in an occasional, and irregular, series of news briefs about developments in the nuclear energy field.
The Tennessean newspaper has a superb roundup on the construction of TVA’s Watts Bar 2 nuclear plant. The utility expects the plant to be completed by the end of 2015. Work on the plant was restarted in 2007 after construction was mothballed in 1985.
The report includes video, charts, history of the plant, and how it will fit in TVA’s energy generation mix.
Georgia & South Carolina
Platts has a roundup on the status of construction of two new Westinghouse AP1000 reactors in Georgia and two more in South Carolina. Meeting tight schedules depends on the ability of contractors building the plant to perform. Rate regulatory agencies in both states are closely watching construction progress for signs of cost over runs.
NucNet reports that Areva said construction of the Olkiluoto-3 nuclear reactor in Finland will be completed in mid-2016 with commissioning starting at the same time and commercial operation now scheduled for 2018, putting the reactor about nine years behind its original schedule. The latest round of delays have to do with Finnish nuclear regulators approval of a digital instrumental and controls system for the plant. The go ahead was given in April 2014 after four years of review of the first-of-a-kind system in Finland.
In China NucNet reports the reactor pressure vessel has been lifted into position at the Sanmen-2 AP1000 reactor, marking the start of the installation phase of the unit, project.
The 280-tonne RPV is China’s first indigenously produced AP1000 reactor pressure vessel. CNNC said it passed all required inspections before being shipped to the construction site on 6 August 2014. The RPV was manufactured by China First Heavy Industries (CFHI) under the supervision of reactor vendor Westinghouse.
World Nuclear News reports that South Korea plans to build a 150 MW sodium-coolled demonstration nuclear reactor which would begin operation in 2028. The design will be based on the EBR-II prototype developed by Argonne National Laboratory. A working unit was constructed at the lab’s field station in Idaho, but it was shut down in 1994.
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Concerning TVA’s unfinished NPP units: I’d be interested in the completion cost for Bellefonte; is the $7-8 billion price quote from the Tennessean for both reactors? There were two units, one of which was once described in the WSJ as being ~60-80% complete. I assume the price is for completion of BOTH of the reactor units that constitute the plant. The $4 billion quote for WBII must be just the latest phase of construction dating from 2007, a comparative bargain at ~$4k per kW(e).
Also interesting to note increasing NRC compliance costs, “capex” for added tornado proof buildings housing backup diesel generators. So far as I know there has never been a study documenting costs of all added post-Fukushima driven mandates on US NPP, which encompass even Watts Bar II an inland presumably tsunami proof PWR, not an ocean front Mk1 BWR.
Olkiluoto-3 is going to look very, very embarrassing when the Chinese complete the first EPR at Taishan. That reactor began construction in 2009 (four years later than Olkiluoto-3) and is probably going to be finished inside a year … not sure if they are still on that schedule or not. The last article I read on the project was amusing. The chief project engineer said that they had expected to learn from the earlier projects along the way, but now they were ahead of both Olkiluoto-3 and Flamanville-3, so they were now the lead project, and had to invent things themselves.
I can’t help laughing when I read things like S. Korea plans demonstration 150 MW fast reactor … by 2028. The original EBR II was probably planned and built in a couple of years in the 60’s. What has happened to humanity?