Nuclear News Roundup for 4/14/16

Polish Electrical Engineers Call for Accelerated Plan to Bring Nuclear Energy to the Grid

(NucNet): Construction of nuclear power stations should be accelerated with the aim of generating up to 8,000 MW of energy from nuclear by 2030, the Association of Polish Electrical Engineers said. The association said nuclear would diversify Poland’s energy portfolio and reduce CO2 emissions.

According to reports in Polish media, two locations, Choczewo and Lubiatowo-Kopalino, both close to Poland’s Baltic coast in the northern province of Pomerania, have been short listed as a site for the first nuclear station. A final decision will be made after all surveys, research and analysis have been carried out in a process that is expected to last around two years.

Poland has repeatedly postponed its progress in starting work on nuclear power stations. According to the World Nuclear Association,  Poland plans to have nuclear power online in about 2025 as part of a diverse energy portfolio, moving it away from heavy dependence on coal and imported gas. The first nuclear plant will be a joint venture of three utilities and a copper miner, all state-owned.

Currently, 92% of Poland’s electrical power (34Gwe) comes from coal fired power plants. The rest comes from Russian supplied natural gas. The country’s uncertain plans for nuclear energy involve an estimated 3 Gwe.

No vendor has been selected, but the government has committed to a guaranteed rate plan to insure financing will be available for the project. Poland earlier planned to have a stake in the new Visaginas nuclear power plant in Lithuania, but did not proceed with that deal.

Foratom tells EU it’s nuclear program falls short

Foratom, the European nuclear industry association, said it wants the European Commission to take up a leadership position and propose “concrete solutions” to facilitate investments in nuclear energy alongside other low-carbon technologies.

Foratom said better coordination of national licensing authorities and standardization across the EU would reduce the barriers to deployment of nuclear technologies in member states and enable nuclear vendors and supply chain companies to compete more effectively in the international market.

Foratom said it the current EU plan does not include ambitious nuclear energy production targets. Foratom director-general Jean-Pol Poncelet said in the statement. “I believe the EC has missed an opportunity to underline nuclear energy as a reliable low carbon technology and a major contributor to the goals of the Energy Union.”

South Africa denies reports the nuclear procurement has stalled

(Reuters): South Africa’s Department of Energy (DOE) has rejected claims by an opposition party that the country’s new build program had “stalled.” A stakeholder consultation process is continuing and must be concluded before a “request for proposals” (RFP) for the new build program is issued, the  agency was reported as saying.

The statement came after the opposition Democratic Alliance had said South Africa’s energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson had told a parliamentary committee that an April 1 deadline in the procurement process had not been met.

The Democratic Alliance claimed that what Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson really said is that “the procurement process is now in limbo.”

It is the latest is a series of almost comical developments concerning the project.

Reuters also quoted a government spokesman who said that the “status quo remains” and the new build procurement process is active. In June 2015, South Africa announced plans to build six to eight new nuclear power units by 2030 at a cost of about €75 billion ($84bn).

The project is mired in controversy due to a premature announcement last year by Rosatom that it had been awarded the contract by South African President Zuma. Since then Zuma has been dragged down by a series of personal and political scandals, most of which appear to be of his own making, that have resulted in some political leaders within the ANC party to call for his resignation.

China’s Sanmen-1 AP1000 Online ‘This Year’

(NucNet): China’s Sanmen-1, the world’s first AP1000 nuclear unit, under construction in Zhejiang province is expected to be online this year. A twin unit at Haiyang-1 in Shandong province is scheduled for grid connection in February 2017 and may become operational by June 2017.

The Westinghouse-designed AP1000 is a Generation III+ AP1000 pressurized water reactor. There are four AP1000 nuclear units under construction in China – two at Sanmen and two at Haiyang. Another four AP1000s are under construction in the US, two at Vogtle and two at Virgil C Summer.

TVA intends to seek early site permit for nuclear plant near Oak Ridge

(SNL) The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) plans to pursue a permit for a possible small modular reactor power plant near Oak Ridge, TN. The federal utility said it will file an early site permit application in May with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that would potentially pave the way for one or more small modular reactors, or SMRs, on the Clinch River site.

A separate license would be required to build and operate a reactor even if the site is deemed “suitable” for a nuclear power plant, according to the NRC.

In effect TVA is moving forward with an older, and less efficient, and more costly, Part 50 process which obtains two licenses from the NRC – one to build the plant and another to operate it.

Among potential advantages to SMR are improved safety and security, less construction time and lower financing costs, according to the TVA. The SMR containment systems are built completely underground and the smaller size allows components to be constructed mostly in factories and be shipped to the site, increasing standardization and quality, the utility said.

The TVA has not made a final decision on the construction of SMRs, spokesman Jim Hopson said in an email to the news media. Hopson noted that if the permit is granted, the NRC must also certify one or more of the SMR designs, after which the TVA board of directors could make a final decision on whether or not to move forward with construction.

So far only NuScale has a plan to ask the NRC certify the safety of its 50 MW SMR. Earlier, TVA had a cooperative agreement with B&W to design and license its 180 MW mPower SMR. That work was suspended in 2014. Recently, B&W and its business partner Bechtel restarted their work on the mPower design, but without formal engagement with TVA.

The Early Site Permit does not require TVA to reference a reactor design or vendor in the application. Once granted the permit is good for up to 20 years.

TVA’s board recently canceled plans to finish one of the 1200 MW Bellefonte reactors and also said it sees no need for new nuclear reactors for the near term future. The utility is replacing some of its coal fired plants with new facilities that burn natural gas.

Georgia Power wants to keep option open for new reactor

(Augusta Chronicle) Georgia Power has indicated in its integrated resource plan that it would like to keep its options open regarding the potential construction of new nuclear reactors.

“The important thing to keep in mind is that if we do ultimately vote on that topic in the IRP, it will be a vote just to study it,” said Georgia Public Service Commission Chairman Chuck Eaton. “It’s not a vote whether we move forward or chose not to construct new nuclear in the future.”

HOLTEC to submit NRC license application for interim storage of spent nuclear fuel

(AP): An energy equipment company has taken steps toward opening a long-term storage facility for spent nuclear fuel in southeastern New Mexico.

The News-Sun reports that Holtec International has submitted a letter of intent to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission about its bid to open a $5 billion Consolidated Interim Storage Facility in Lea County.

Holtec is proposing a long-term facility that could have a life span of 100 years. Company officials have said they anticipate initial licensing for the first 40 years.

The company’s letter to the NRC says it hopes to submit a site-specific license application by the end of November.

In a major milestone Finland’s TVO applies for Olkiluoto nuclear plant license

(Reuters) Finland’s Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) has applied for an operating licence for the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear reactor with a plan for a 2018 start-up, nine years later than planned.

“This (application) is a significant milestone. The project is moving from installations to tests,” project director Jouni Silvennoinen told a news conference.

The country’s fifth plant has been delayed due to problems in construction and planning and has sparked a dispute between TVO and supplier Areva-Siemens .

TVO is seeking 2.6 billion euros ($2.93 billion) from the Franco-German consortium over the delays in an arbitration filed with the International Chamber of Commerce. Areva-Siemens has filed a 3.5 billion euro counter-claim.

According to Reuters, both sides declined to comment on the project’s costs or the arbitration process. French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron recently told the wire service he hoped the conflict would be settled soon.

The dispute has wider significance in France where state-controlled utility EDF is planning to take over reactor builder Areva, but does not want to be responsible for Olkiluoto’s claims.

Areva-Siemens’ turnkey contract for building the reactor has an initial price tag of 3 billion euros ($3.4 billion). Total costs are estimated to have risen to around 9 billion euros.

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