Nuclear News Roundup for 4/21/16

UK Government ‘Fully Confident’ On Hinkley Point

(NucNet) The UK secretary of state for energy and climate change Amber Rudd said this week the government has “full confidence” in the future of the Hinkley Point C nuclear project. In a letter to Angus Brendan MacNeil, the chairman of the UK Parliament’s energy and climate change committee, Ms Rudd wrote that the UK government has “every confidence the deal will go ahead.”

Ms Rudd also said any delays could put at risk the UK’s CO2 reduction targets, which are “one of the key reasons” for the government’s support to Hinkley Point C. EDF is planning to build two Areva 1,600-megawatt EPR units at Hinkley Point C in southwest England.

France’s Economy Minister Says Hinkley Point C Will Go Ahead

(NucNet) France will go ahead with construction of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in the UK and will begin agreeing technical details in the coming weeks, Emmanuel Macron  the French economy minister told the BBC.

“We back the Hinkley Point project, it’s very important for France, it’s very important for the nuclear sector and [France’s state-owned utility company] EDF. Now we have to finalize the work, and especially the technical and industrial work, very closely with EDF, with the British government, to be in a situation to sign in the coming week or month.”

Pressed on whether he thought the deal would go ahead, Mr Macron added: “That’s my view, and that’s our perspective, because I think it’s very important for our commitment to nuclear energy.”

First concrete for the project is scheduled for 2019, according to earlier statements by Jean-Bernard Lévy, chairman and chief executive of EDF.

Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive officer of EDF’s UK subsidiary EDF Energy, told a conference in London last week that “categorically Hinkley Point C will go ahead and will go ahead very soon.” He said EDF is in constructive talks with the UK government on electricity market reforms which he feels are a key to the project;s success.

Reuters reported that French power utility EDF named Xavier Griffe as its new finance director, replacing Thomas Piquemal, who quit in March over concerns the Hinkley Point nuclear project in the UK would collapse the company’s balance sheet.

 Numbers don’t add up for Hinkley Point Project

(Power Engineering) The industry trade press publication has a dour outlook about the project.

* The project as it stands costs more than the fair market value of owner EDF. Construction of the EPRs are expected to cost 23.3 billion euros ($25.6 billion). EDF’s value, as of mid-March 2016, is at 22.8 billion euros ($25.2 billion).

* Areva is in financial trouble. Not only has the French government, which also owns 85 percent of EDF, bailed it out, but EDF bought Areva’s troubled nuclear reactor unit. How deep are the French government’s pockets? EPRs under construction in France and Finland are behind schedule and over budget. Who will pay for the delays?

EDF is having trouble securing investors for Hinkley Point. China’s nuclear development arm CGN only bought a one-third stake in the project, leaving EDF to foot the remainder unless, again, they can bring in other investors.

* According to Bloomberg, the Cour des Comptes, considered the French equivalent of the UK’s National Audit Office, said the project and the financing is potentially risky for EDF, given the company’s cash flow and debt limit its capacity to invest abroad. RBC Capital Markets also said the project is “uninvestible.”

FP&L Turkey Point 5 &  plans setback by Florida state court ruling

(AP) A state appeals court has ruled that the planned expansion of the Turkey Point plant adding two 1150 MW Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactors, as proposed by Florida’s largest utility, must be redone to meet environmental concerns.

The 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami reversed a 2014 decision by Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet to approve construction of two nuclear reactors by Florida Power & Light at its Turkey Point plant.

The judges ruling went into great detail in describing the ways that the governor and Cabinet had failed to account for environmental regulations meant to protect the Everglades and endangered birds.

The court concluded the state of Florida’s environmental rules would require a long list of mitigation measures including that new power lines are to be buried and service roads would need ways to allow water flow in the Everglades.

Takahama-1 And -2 Comply With New Standards, Says Japan’s Regulator

(NucNet) Three reactors at Japan’s Takahama and Ikata nuclear plants moved closer to restarting as the Nuclear Regulation Authority approved their operational safety programs. Takahama Units 1 and 2 joined Ikata Unit 3 in receiving approval, although final inspections are still required before a restart can take place.

The Takahama-1 and -2 nuclear units in Japan both comply with revised regulatory standards introduced after the March 2011 Fukushima-Daiichi accident. The Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (Jaif) said this is the first time units that have been in operation for more than 40 years have been cleared by the Nuclear Regulatory Authority as complying with the standards.

The two 780-MW pressurized water reactor units, owned and operated by Kansai Electric Power Company, or Kepco, have been in commercial operation since November 1974 and November 1975 respectively.

Russia Announces Progress At Beloyarsk-4 Fast Neutron Reactor

(NucNet) Full equipment testing of the Beloyarsk-4 nuclear unit in Sverdlovsk Oblast has been completed at 85% of the plant’s design capacity. Operators have started the gradual increase of the reactor’s power levels with the aim of reaching 100% of the unit’s design capacity.

Beloyarsk-4, also known as the BN-800, is a 789-MW sodium-cooled fast neutron reactor of the BN-800 design. It burns a mixed uranium-plutonium fuel also known as MOX. There is one commercially operational reactor at the Beloyarsk station, the Beloyarsk-3 BN-600 fast neutron unit, a smaller version of the BN-800. Beloyarsk-4 was connected to the grid on 10 December 2015 and Rosenergoatom said commercial operation is scheduled for the autumn of 2016.

Senate bill introduced to reform NRC fees, speed up licensing of advanced nukes

(SNL) Bipartisan legislation aimed at accelerating the licensing of advanced nuclear reactors by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and reforming the agency’s fee recovery structure has been introduced in the U.S. Senate.

Sens. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, on April 13 introduced the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act, S. 2795, which seeks to establish a transparent fee recovery framework for the NRC.

The bill directs the NRC to develop by 2018 a licensing process for advanced nuclear reactors that uses the existing regulatory framework, and to complete by 2023 a “technology-inclusive licensing framework” for advanced reactor designs.

The call for a shorter, phased-in design and licensing process for advanced nuclear developers to encourage investment and commercial development has been voiced by many within the industry, including former NRC commissioner Jeffrey Merrifield who has proposed a series of intermediate milestones leading toward a design certification, an early licensing determination, and the waiving of review fees.

At a hearing before the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, Dr. Christina Back, Vice President, Nuclear Technologies and Materials for General Atomics and lead physicist responsible for the Energy Multiplier Module (EM2), an advanced reactor concept,  testified on the efforts to modernize the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to best jumpstart research into advanced nuclear reactors.

“The following four core principles should guide the design of an ‘advanced reactor’ to ensure commercial success.

It must produce cost-competitive clean electricity, be safer, produce significantly less waste, and reduce proliferation risk,” Dr. Back testified.

“We believe every worthy advanced reactor concept must address these four core principles jointly. It is not sufficient to excel at one with disregard to the others,” Back said.

In addition, the House of Representatives on Feb. 29 unanimously approved legislation that supports federal research, private investment in, and development of advanced nuclear reactors.

SMR industry leaders say 2016 is milestone year for US, Asia deployment

(Nuclear Energy Insider) Global support for SMR development is accelerating and 2016 will see developers take major steps towards deployment in U.S. and Asia, industry leaders said at Nuclear Energy Insider’s 6th Annual International SMR and Advanced Reactor Summit.

Global competition is increasing as China fast-tracks the development of new SMR plants, while North American companies submit permit applications towards the first commercial plants in the early 2020’s. The UK has also launched a competition to identify the best-value SMR design.

Attendees also gained insight into China National Nuclear Corporation’s (CNNC) ambitious deployment timeline for its ACP100 SMR design.

CNNC aims to receive state approval this year to build the ACP100 in China and Danrong Song, Chief Designer– SMR at CNNC, said the company plans to pour first concrete for the reactor as early as 2017.

“In 20 years there could be 100 units in China,” Song said.

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