Nuclear News Roundup for September 6, 2015

Nuclear news highlights from wire services, World Nuclear News, NucNet and other sources

Hinkley Point C start delayed

The start of operation of the planned Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant, which will be two 1600 MW Areva EPRs, in the UK won’t occur in 2023 as planned according to EDF CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy. He made the announcement at a press conference where he also announced the delay in completion of the Flamanville EPR.

He said a new timetable for the Hinkley Point plant would be set after a final investment decision is made. Levy said he has “full confidence in the success of the Hinkley Point project”.

The UK government agreed in 2013 to proceed with the project and to provide a minimum guaranteed financial return of up to £92.50/MWh (about €126/MWh, $141/MWh) for electricity produced over 35 years at the station.

“We are in the ultimate phase [of the negotiation],” Mr Levy said. He said he recognized that given the new project schedule, EDF and its potential partners would have to revise the timeline for plant startup. An investment decision is expected “as soon as possible”, Mr Levy said.

Several Chinese state-owned nuclear firms are negotiating with EDF to take a significant equity stake in the project. However, they are also reported to be demanding that their roles be held harmless from any cost increases or delays associated with the project.

Flamanville-3 Startup Scheduled For End Of 2018 Following ‘Comprehensive Review’

(NucNet): First fuel loading and startup of the delayed Flamanville-3 EPR reactor unit in northern France is now scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2018 following “a comprehensive review” of the project EDF’s CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy said.

EDF said following an assessment of “all the industrial and financial parameters” project costs have been revised to €10.5bn ($11.7bn). An estimate released in July 2011 was €8bn.

Japan’s Kyushu Electric to show profit

(NucNet) Japan’s Kyushu Electric Power Company announced that it expects to report a profit of JPY 45 billion ($377 million) for the six months to the end of September, its first profit in five years. The company attributed the positive forecast on the recent restart of unit 1 of its Sendai nuclear power plant, as well as cost saving measures and a fall in fuel costs. The Sendai plant was the first of the country’s reactors to resume operation in almost two years.

Fukushima accident worse due to TEPCO’s disregard of emergency preparedness

(NucNet): A major factor that contributed to the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear station was the widespread assumption in Japan that its nuclear power plants were so safe that an accident of this magnitude was “simply unthinkable,” according to a report by the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

IAEA director-general Yukiya Amano said in his foreword to the report that the accident, the worst emergency at a nuclear power plant since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, exposed “weaknesses” in Japan’s regulatory framework. Responsibilities for preparing for an accident were divided among a number of bodies, and it was not always clear where authority lay.

Mr Amano said there were also certain weaknesses in plant design, in emergency preparedness and response arrangements and in planning for the management of a severe accident.

UAE’s fourth reactor now under construction

(WNN) The first main concrete has been poured on schedule for the fourth reactor at Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation’s (ENEC) Barakah nuclear power plant in United Arab Emirates, marking the start of full construction. It is due on line in 2020. Four South Korean APR-1400 reactors are now under construction there, with 18,000 people working on site. From 2020 the four units will provide about one quarter of UAE’s expanding electricity needs and free up hydrocarbons for export.

The UAE has demonstrated that it is possible to proceed rapidly in a nuclear power program by doing a number of things in parallel,

  • by using experienced expatriates initially while transitioning to local expertise over time, and
  • by committing to an experienced reactor and power plant builder with a track record of on-time and on-budget performance.

It is on track to have its first reactor operational within nine years from inception of the nuclear power program in 2008 – unit 1 is 75% complete and due to start up early in 2017. ENEC will use KEPCO expertise in running it.

South Africa Could Build More than 9,600 MW Of Nuclear, Reports Say

(NucNet): South Africa’s future energy mix could include an even higher share for nuclear power than the 9,600 megawatts (MW) already said to be planned. The Business Day newspaper reported that a new version of South Africa’s integrated resources plan, which projects the country’s electricity requirements and suggests the energy generation mix needed, will be released in March 2016.

“Given that we have a climate change commitment to fulfill, it should not surprise people that the viability of a much larger nuclear contribution in the long term should be tested alongside all other options,” Omphi Aphane, deputy director-general in the Department of Energy, told the newspaper.

South African media last week quoted energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson as saying the government has not yet decided how much new nuclear capacity to build even though the 9,600 MW figure has been widely reported. South Africa has two commercially operational nuclear units at the Koeberg nuclear station.

South Africa is said to be depending on a significant level of financing from Russia’s Rosatom for the project. However, the wire service Dynatom reported this week that Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed a decree to cut the funding in Rosatom. The cabinet decided to reduce the cash for the development of nuclear power plants and warned the next years will be challenging for the sectors such as Nuclear and Defense in term of government budget.

The original budget of 424,628 Billion Rubles (5,685 Billion Euros) was reduced by 224 Million Rubles. In real terms the cut is worth about $3 million which is unlikely to significantly impact its near term spending plans globally. Russia’s economy, and its government spending, depends on oil revenues which have been severely diminished due to the percipitous drop in the price of oil in the past year.

New Director at DOE nuclear lab

(WNN) Mark Peters will take over as director of Idaho National Laboratory on  October 1. He is a recognized expert on the nuclear fuel cycle and waste disposal and leaves a senior post at Argonne National Laboratory working in areas of energy and global security. Peters succeeds John Grossenbacher, who has been head of INL since leading Battelle Energy Aliance’s bid to manage the lab in 2005.

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One Response to Nuclear News Roundup for September 6, 2015

  1. Mr. Rational says:

    Russia may be able to build 9600 MW of plants in S. Africa, but profiting from it is much harder.  The ANC is running the country into the ground and cannot simply purchase plants outright.  Even ESKOM has trouble getting paid for its power, and BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) has opened the electric supply sector to corruption with major neglect of maintenance at Lethabo (and almost certainly elsewhere).  This is not a formula for successful nuclear enterprises.

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