Nuclear News Roundup for May 6, 2016

CNNC to invest in Hinkley Point

(Telegraph, London, UK) Following CGN’s investment agreement last October,  CNNC will now also ink an agreement to take an equity stake in the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.

Xie Jiajie, a senior official at CNNC, told the Telegraph that his company would sign off on the agreement when EDF makes its final investment decision on the project. That action isn’t expected until September 2016.

“We decided it would not be good for two large Chinese companies to hold strategic discussions with EDF,” said Mr Xie. “That is why we asked CGN to hold discussions on behalf of CNNC.

“The final proposal is for the Chinese to take a 33.5% stake in the project. But this will be a combination of CGN and CNNC. We haven’t yet decided what percentage we are going to invest. The FID [final investment decision] has not been announced. We have to wait to see the final agreements.”

The agreement with both firms would advance plans for them to bring to the UK their jointly developed Hualong One nuclear reactor, a 1000 MW PWR design. It would be built at the Bradwell site.

Last month, the French economy minister Emmanuel Macron said the  Hinkley Point project would go ahead.  Hinkley Point is due to be operational in 2025, according to the current timetable.

The Telegraph reported that EDF’s initial share in Hinkley Point C will be 66.5% and CGN’s will be 33.5%. EDF also said it will bring in other investors but not reduce its stake below 50%. A likely scenario is that CGN and CNNC would jointly hold the the 33.5% equity stake.

EDF has been working with the French government to raise the funds needed for its equity share.

Turkey’s Turnabout on Sale of the Akkuyu nuclear project

(NucNet) Like a magician’s trick of hocus pocus, first you see it, then you don’t, the report of a sale of the 4.8GWe project was first announced by Turkish news media, and then denounced by none other than Sergei Kiriyenko, director-general of Russian state owned nuclear corporation Rosatom.

On April 28 the Daily Sabah, a Turkish newspaper, reported that Rosatom was considering selling 49% of its stake in Turkey’s planned Akkuyu nuclear power plant project because of financial concerns. There have been reports for months that Rosatom was trying to reduce its share of the cost of the plant.

According to the Daily Sabah, a potential buyer for Rosatom’s share is Turkish construction company Cengiz Insaat. There is nothing new about reports that various Turkish firms want a piece of the action related to the plant. What is new is Kiriyenko’s flat denial that equity shares in the plant are for sale.

The current agreement has Rosatom building and operating the power station for up to 15 years and only then laying off equity stakes to outside investors in a proven facility. At that point, the plant will be worth a great deal more.

Political tensions between Russia and Turkey flared after the shooting down of a Russian military jet in November 2015. In December 2015, press reports said Rosatom had stopped work at Akkuyu.

Turkish energy officials were at the time quoted as saying that Rosatom had not terminated the contract for the project and was reluctant to do so because of heavy compensation clauses.

However, on May 2 Sergei Kiriyenko, director-general of Russian state owned nuclear corporation Rosatom dismissed reports in Turkish media that said Rosatom is selling its stake in the Akkuyu project. Kiriyenko said he would not comment on “rumors” and added that “nothing has changed” on Rosatom’s side.

Akkuyu, near Mersin on the country’s southern Mediterranean coast, is to be built in cooperation with Rosatom under a contract signed in late 2010. The station will have four 1,200 MW VVER units and is scheduled to produce power by the end of 2022.

Turkey also has plans to build two other nuclear power stations – one at Sinop on the country’s northern Black Sea coast and another at a coastal location on the Black Sea’s western shore. The Sinop site will be developed by a consortium led by Mitsubishi and Areva.  Westinghouse is said to be the leading bidder to lead the development of the third nuclear power station.

US At Risk Of Falling Behind In Advanced Reactor Development

(NucNet) The US is at risk of falling behind international competitors amid rising global interest in development of advanced reactors to meet clean energy need.

Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) president and chief executive officer Marvin Fertel told the House Energy and Commerce Committee during a hearing on legislation supporting new reactor technologies the nuclear energy industry supports the passage of the Advanced Nuclear Technology Development Act of 2016, or H.R. 4976.

“H.R. 4979 affirms Congress’ commitment to US leadership in nuclear technology and safety,” Mr Fertel said.

“The bill effectively directs the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to think differently about licensing reactors and calls for ‘an efficient, risk informed, technology-neutral framework for advanced reactor licensing’ and a phased review process that could effectively facilitate private financing for advanced reactors.”

H.R. 4979 was introduced earlier this month and is designed to foster civilian research and development of advanced nuclear energy technologies, improve licensing and enable commercial deployment.

China’s ACP100 SMR passes IAEA Safety Review

(NucNet) China’s ACP100 Generation-III demonstration small modular reactor (SMR) has passed a final safety review by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

CNNC said the successful review will help accelerate the ACP100 demonstration project and also prove the technology’s worth for the international market.

According to the IAEA, the ACP100 is a 100-megawatt advanced pressurized water reactor module. Between two and six modules can be integrated and modules can be built at the same time or two at a time.

A single module can supply 310 MWs of thermal power for the production of 1,000 gigajoules per hour (GJ/h) of heat, 420 tonnes per hour of steam and a maximum seawater desalination production capacity of 120,000 tonnes per day.

China’s CAP1400 Demonstration Unit Passes IAEA Safety Review

(NucNet) China’s Generation III CAP1400 domestic design nuclear reactor demonstration project has passed a safety review by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), State Nuclear Power Technology Company (SNPTC) said.

A statement said the review process confirmed that the CAP1400 meets the latest IAEA safety principles and requirements. The review took nine months to complete, SNPTC said.

The CAP1400 is a Generation III nuclear reactor design based on the Westinghouse AP1000. Construction on a demonstration project is under way at Shidaowan in Shandong province, northeast China.

Early Site Permit Gets Go-Ahead For PSEG New Jersey Project

(NucNet) The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board has cleared the way for the agency’s office of new reactors to issue an early site permit (ESP) to utility PSEG Power and its subsidiary PSEG Nuclear for a site next to the Salem and Hope Creek nuclear power stations in Salem County, New Jersey.

The ESP resolves a number of site-related issues, including many environmental impacts, but does not authorize any construction that needs to be cleared by the NRC.

PSEG would have to apply separately for an NRC license to build and operate a specific reactor design at the site. PSEG submitted the ESP application in 2010. The ESP will be valid for up to 20 years from the date of issue. The utility has not indicated that it is committed to any particular reactor design at this time.

Dominion Power Keeps North Anna Unit 3 Option Alive

(Wire services) Dominion Virginia Power has informed state regulators that it intends to continue spending on plans to build a third reactor at the North Anna Power Station, 40 miles northwest of Richmond, Va. That spending makes sense for Virginia customers, the company said.

The company also said in a state regulatory filing that it planned to slow down spending on the North Anna Unit 3 project while the federal Clean Power Plan was facing legal challenges.

The company added that for that same reason – uncertainty over federal carbon emissions rules – it was important to keep the North Anna Unit 3 option open, despite the hefty price tag, which has been estimated at $19 billion. The price could be lower depending on the duration of the NRC regulatory review for the 1500 MW ESBWR reactor the utility plans for the project.

“As we are transiting into a low carbon future, North Anna will be an option that is very valuable to us at some point in the future,” the Associated Press quoted Bob Thomas, director of energy market analysis for the company, as saying.

New Mexico Seeks to Develop Small Modular Reactors

(Wire services) State Rep. Cathrynn Brown (R-Eddy) spoke April 14-15 at the International Small Modular Reactor and Advanced Reactor Summit in Atlanta, Ga., about her efforts to lay the groundwork for siting at least one small modular reactor in New Mexico within the next decade.

“Interest in SMRs is on the rise in the United States, and the Department of Energy has decided to devote more funding to accelerate the design and development of this carbon-free technology,” said Brown.

Idaho is at the head of the line to host the first demonstration SMR in the U.S., but she believes “New Mexico could be next.”

In a presentation to New Mexico economic developers, she said the international market interest in SMRs is “very strong,” and cited efforts in Poland, the UK, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and India to move toward SMRs for supplying base load power.

Brown told the group she believes SMRs “are going to transform the nuclear industry, domestically and across the globe.”

“SMRs are meant to be installed underground, will use passive, natural processes for cooling, and are going to be less expensive to build and operate than full-scale reactors.”

“It’s an exciting technology, and New Mexico can play a part in bringing SMRs to commercial reality.”

Brown chairs the Radioactive and Hazardous Materials Committee of the New Mexico Legislature, serves on the City of Carlsbad’s mayor’s Nuclear Task Force, and is a member of the National Council of State Legislatures’ Nuclear Working Group.

India Planning Major Investment In Nuclear Sector

(NucNet) India’s government is preparing “a comprehensive plan” to increase investment in nuclear energy with a proposed federal budget allocation of about $450m (€390m) a year. India’s Economic Times said the plan will span the next 15-20 years.

A government minister was quoted as saying the budget will be supplemented by investment from public sector enterprises, known in India as public sector undertakings, or PSUs.

A recent amendment to the Atomic Energy Act 1962 has created a provision enabling state-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India to seek equity participation from other PSUs for nuclear energy projects and this will help in infusing additional capital, the Business Standard said. Key examples include pending proposals for nuclear reactors to power Indian steel and aluminum plants.

The minister noted that the domestic nuclear industry in India faces problems including the availability of financial resources, land acquisition, availability of water, and a supply chain for components and equipment.

India has locked out U.S. firms from participating in its nuclear reactor development efforts with a politically inspired supplier liability law. Changes to the law, spurred by U.S. diplomatic efforts, have been slow in coming due to opposition to nuclear power stations from India’s enormous coal mining industry. Coal accounts for almost two-thirds of India’s 300 Gwe of electrical generating capacity.

The International Energy Agency said in a report last year that India’s nuclear power capacity could increase by a factor of nearly seven, from 5.8 GW in 2014 to almost 39 GW in 2040.

Reaching this level of capacity implies a construction rate of 1.3 GW per year on average, which is significantly faster than the rate realized in the recent past and would need to be sustained over a long period, the report said.

Government Panel Calls for Australia to Back Nuclear Power

(Reuters) An Australian royal commission has recommended building a nuclear industry, including a spent fuel storage facility, in the uranium-rich state of South Australia. If accepted it would overturn the country’s strident and long-held opposition to nuclear power.

“The government stands ready to work with the South Australian Government if they choose to pursue any new economic opportunities in this area that create jobs and growth”, energy and resources minister Josh Frydenberg said in a statement.

The commission’s recommendation offers a “sound basis for the South Australian government and the broader community to make informed and considered decisions about South Australia’s role in the nuclear fuel cycle”, Frydenberg added.

Nuclear advocates have targeted sparsely populated South Australia, with one of the world’s biggest uranium deposits, as a home for a nuclear power plant and radioactive waste storage site which would include spent nuclear fuel.

The commission urged the state and federal governments to adopt nuclear power generation, to “allow it to contribute to a low-carbon electricity system.”

Environmentalists are threatening the “fight of a lifetime” over a proposal for South Australia to host a high-level nuclear waste dump.

Nuclear Storage Could Generated A$100 Billion for Australia

(Bloomberg) The state’s nuclear fuel cycle royal commission has called in its final report for SA to store the world’s commercial spent nuclear fuel in exchange for billions of dollars in revenue.

A nuclear waste disposal site in South Australia could generate more than A$100 billion ($74 billion) in income over 120 years. The state government should pursue such an economic opportunity, a royal commission said in its report.

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