Nuclear News Roundup for August 13, 2018

China’s Haiyang-1 AP1000 Reaches First Criticality

(NucNet): The Haiyang-1 Generation III+ Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactor unit in Shandong province reached first criticality on August 8th according to a statement from the China State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC).

Haiyang-1, construction of which began in September 2009, becomes the world’s second AP1000 to reach first criticality after Sanmen-1  last June.

SNPTC said a series of low-power tests will now be carried out before the unit is connected to the grid and starts producing electrical power.

There are four AP1000 nuclear units under construction in China – two at Sanmen and two at Haiyang.

Fuel Loading Begins At China’s Haiyang-2 AP1000

(NucNet): The loading of nuclear fuel at China’s Haiyang-2 nuclear unit under construction in Shandong province began onm August 8th according to a statement from the China State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC).

Haiyang-2 is a Westinghouse Generation III+ AP1000 pressurized water reactor. Construction began in June 2010.

Southern Nuclear Says Its Share Of Vogtle Costs
Has Increased By $1.1 Billion

(NucNet): Southern Nuclear has made significant progress on construction of the Vogtle-3 and -4 nuclear power plants since assuming project management on behalf of the co-owners, but

Capital and construction cost forecast for Southern Nuclear’s share of the Vogtle project have increased from $7.3bn to $8.4bn, Georgia Power said on August 9th.

Southern Company, the parent company of both Georgia Power and Southern Nuclear, will absorb the $1.1bn in additional costs.

The increased costs are the result of incentives to attract and retain staff, and increased field supervision and engineering oversight, Georgia Power said. The firm said it has had problems attracting skill trades to work on the site hence the wage increases to provide the necessary incentives to workers. More than 7,000 workers are onsite working to complete the new units, Georgia Power said.

The costs include $700m in additional subcontractor costs and an additional construction contingency estimate for the two units, a statement said. The project is about two-thirds complete according to the latest estimate.

The co-owners of the project to build two Westinghouse AP1000 reactor units are Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities. Southern Nuclear, which operates nuclear plants for Georgia Power, took over project management from Westinghouse following its bankruptcy in 2017. That firm has recently emerged from bankruptcy being now owned by a private equity firm based on Canada.

Bond Holders to Vote on Cost Increase

The cost increases will require that the private and public utility owners vote on whether to continue the work at Plant Vogtle.

In a statement the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, which owns 23% of the project, said in notice on the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board’s EMMA filing system;

“As a result of the increase in the total project capital cost forecast and GPC’s decision not to seek rate recovery of its allocation of the increase in the base capital costs, the holders of at least 90% of the ownership interests in Vogtle Units 3 and 4 must vote to continue construction,”

Georgia Power said Vogtle-3 is expected to begin commercial operation in November 2021 and Vogtle-4 in November 2022.

Czech PM Calls for CEZ Nuclear Plant Decision

(Reuters): Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis wants a decision by the end of 2018 on financing majority state-owned utility CEZ’s multi-billion dollar nuclear power expansion.

In the past CEZ has refused to invest in new plants without some form of state support, including guaranteed rates. Separately, it has proposed spinning off its renewables and energy services businesses to investors, leaving traditional sources like coal and nuclear in state hands.

The licenses for Dukovany’s reactors expire in 2035. PM Babis told Reuters in an interview that this means work on replacement reactors need to speed up regardless of the debates over whether to split up central Europe’s largest listed utility to pay for the work.

He told Reuters, “We have to start moving fast as of September. Let’s hope a decision will be made by Christmas.”

Babis says CEZ is big enough to build the new nuclear units without being split up and reiterated that a CEZ subsidiary should be the main vehicle to build the new reactors.

In order to build a new reactor at the Dukovany nuclear power plant, about 33 miles north of the Austrian border, which will replace a Soviet-era reactor, CEZ must convince the EU in Brussels to exempt the project from strict rules on government bids.

The alternative for the Czech government is to ink a deal with Russia along the same lines as Hungary, which signed with Moscow last year. Russia will be only too happy to do the deal since it regards the Czech Republic as a “captive market.”

The EU Commission approved Hungary’s Paks II nuclear project last year following long and contentious negotiations . The decision was criticized by Austria and Germany for  appealing to political interests over technical merits and is now being challenged by Austria for breaching EU state aid rules.

Austria and another Czech neighbor, Germany, strongly oppose any expansion of nuclear power in Europe.

Temelin Looks at Plan to Operate for 60 Years

CEZ says it sees no obstacle in the Temelín nuclear power plant operating for 60 years. The state-controlled power company said a technical and economic investigation found no fundamental safety or technical reason why the first reactor could not operate until 2060 and the second unit until 2062. The plant in South Bohemia, around 30 miles from the Austrian border, is the biggest single electricity producer in the Czech Republic.

The head of the Czech nuclear regulator, Dana Drábová, warned earlier this year that while there might not be technical problems with a 60-year operating life span for Temelín, stricter EU rules pushed by non-nuclear member states might make this impossible.

Politico reported last May that the Czech Republic may be at loggerheads with the European Commission, and its anti-nuclear neighbors, over its ambitions to expand nuclear power. CEZ, the state owned power utility, has proposed new reactor units for the Temelin site.

CEZ cancelled a tender for Temelin’s expansion in 2014 after the previous government, which included Babis as finance minister, refused to guarantee the price of electricity produced in the new reactors.  Bidders at the time were Westinghouse, Rosatom, and Areva. In a controversial move, CEZ rejected Areva’s offer over what it said were discrepancies in the French firm’s bid.

Fuqing 5, a Hualong One,
Enters System Commissioning Phase

(WNN): Installation of the control room has been completed at the demonstration Hualong One being constructed as unit 5 of the Fuqing nuclear power plant in China’s Fujian province. This is the first of two reference units which will be used by China to drive export sales of the reactor design.

The control room was completed on August 4th which marks the reactor’s transition from the installation phase to the system commissioning phase.

Fuqing 5 and 6 are scheduled to be completed in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

Construction of two Hualong One (HPR1000) units is also under way at China General Nuclear’s Fangchenggang plant in the Guangxi Autonomous Region. Those units are also expected to start up in 2019 and 2020. The HPR1000 has also been proposed for construction at Bradwell in the UK, where it is undergoing Generic Design Assessment.

Turkey To Build Third Nuclear Station
In Cooperation With China, Says Minister

(NucNet): Turkey will build a third nuclear power station ihn Kirklareli province at a Black Sea coast site northwest of Istanbul, and will cooperate with China on the project, energy minister Fatih Donmez was reported to haved told wire services. China is reported to be planning to offer multiple units of the CAP1400, a 1400 MW version of the Westinghouse 1150 MW AP1000. China received the intellectual property rights to design the 1400 MW unit as part of the original deal with Westinghouse to build four 1150 AP1000 units.

Turkey’s first nuclear station at Akkuyu, is being built by Rosatom on the Mediterranean coast is expected when complete to meet 10% of the country’s energy needs. It will be composed of four 1200 MM VVER units. The design is Russia’s most advanced PWR type reactor technology.

Turkey has plans to get another 10% or more of its electricity needs met by a second nuclear station to be built with Japan at Sinop on the Black Sea.

Despite the fact that construction started in Akkuyu last April, the project still lacks outside investors. Turkish construction firms that had been negotiating for an equity stakes in the project pulled out earlier this year. The cited reason was that the parties could not agree on rates to be charged for the electricity to be generated by the power station.

The Sinop project has also hit some financial speed bumps.  Last May a major Japanese investor in Turkey’s planned second nuclear power station dropped out of participating in the project due to dramatic increases in the cost of the project.

The Nikkei news service reported that Itochu Trading House says the original cost of $18 billion for four 1100 MW PWR type reactors has skyrocketed due to what it says are new safety and security measures for the plants. The firm also reportedly complained that the timeframe to complete the project, 2023, wasn’t feasible.

The project envisions four 1100 MW ATMEA PWR type reactors the design for which was jointly developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHL) and Areva. It is a scaled down version of Areva’s 1650 MW EPR. None have ever been built making the Sinop project a first of a kind project (FOAK) for the design.

It did not cite the new cost of the project.  At $5000/kw, a 4400 MW facility would have an “overnight cost” of $22 billion or $4 billion more than the original estimate.  At $6500/Kw, which is an upper bound estimate, the cost for the first of a kind (FOAK) reactor project could be $28.6 billion. This increase of $10.6 billion or a nearly 60% increase could spook even the most experienced investor in new nuclear projects.

Even with Itochu’s departure,  MHL told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper at that time it plans to go ahead with the effort assuming it can get rate guarantees that will bring investors to the table and provide them with a reasonable rate of return on their equity stakes in the project.

Itochu was planned to be part of a consortium of investors that would put up 30% of the costs. Other investors are expected include the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, MHL, the French utility Engie and the Turkish Electric Generation Corporation.

Beloyarsk BN-1200 Decision Pushed to 2021

(NucNet): Russia will make a decision on whether or not to go ahead with construction of a Generation IV BN-1200 sodium-cooled fast neutron reactor at the Beloyarsk nuclear power station in 2021, the director-general of state nuclear operator Rosenergoatom Andrei Petrov said in a statement on Rosenergoatom’s website.

Mr Petrov said the commercial viability of the proposed unit, Beloyarsk-5, must be proven before any green light for construction is given. According to Rosenergoatom, construction could start in 2024 or 2025 with completon in 2031 or 2032.

Russia has two sodium-cooled fast neutron reactor units in commercial operation at Beloyarsk in central Russia – Beloyarsk-4 of the BN-800 design and Beloyarsk-3 of the smaller BN-600 design.

Previously Rosenergoatom has cited the need to improve fuel for the reactor and to resolve questions concerning the project’s economic feasibility.

U-Battery receives Advanced Modular Reactor Funding

U-Battery, a micro nuclear reactor design able to produce heat and power for a variety of applications, has been successfully selected to receive funding in the Advanced Modular Reactor (AMR) Program.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is investing up to £44 million in AMR feasibility and development work through the programme, with the aims of generating low cost electricity which is delivered flexibly, and providing other functionality such as the provision of heat for domestic or industrial use.

U-Battery General Manager, Steve Threlfall, said: “U-Battery is delighted to have received the green light to progress to Phase 1 of the Government’s AMR Program. This will involve receiving a first tranche of funding to produce a feasibility study in which we outline the commercial and technical case for U-Battery.

“The feasibility study will be produced over the next six months, before being submitted to Government.

“We look forward to using the study to demonstrate how U-Battery can deliver a low-carbon solution to address energy and decarbonisation challenges in the UK and global markets.”

Work Begins at Fuel Manufacturing Site
in Washington State for Lightbridge Fuel

Lightbridge Corporation (NASDAQ:LTBR), a nuclear fuel technology development company, announced on August 13th that work began at the Framatome fuel fabrication facility in Richland, Washington. This state-of-the-art facility will be used to manufacture fuel assemblies for U.S. nuclear power plants based on Lightbridge’s patented metallic fuel that provides improved safety and better economics through power uprates and longer fuel cycles.

Key activities are underway to finalize workflow and facility layout, as well as to develop procurement specifications for manufacturing equipment. Engineers and technicians are also preparing the facility licensing package for U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission review and approval as well as performing initial facility engineering work. The accelerated work was undertaken to meet growing U.S. utility customer interest in the metallic fuel technology.

Lightbridge CEO Seth Grae said: “With the increasing need for America’s nuclear power plants to become more efficient, the work to prepare this U.S. manufacturing site for Lightbridge Fuel™ lays the foundation for delivering next-generation fuel assemblies to nuclear utility customers. By making nuclear power plants more cost competitive, our innovative fuel technology can help keep these important sources of carbon-free and reliable power from facing early closure.”

Lightbridge and Framatome, a world leader in nuclear energy, officially launched the Enfission joint venture in January 2018.

UK’s Wood and National Nuclear Laboratory
Partner for Nuclear Fuel Research

THE UK government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has awarded a three-year contract to Wood and National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) to research advanced nuclear fuels.

The two groups will use modelling and simulation tools to support the design, qualification, and fabrication of advanced nuclear fuels in the UK. The contract will focus on analysis methods for reactor physics, thermal-hydraulics and fuel performance for advanced water-cooled reactors, high temperature gas reactors, and liquid metal fast reactors and their respective nuclear fuels.

Bob MacDonald, CEO of Wood’s Specialist Technical Solutions, said: “Securing this work positions us very well for design opportunities on future reactor types, including small modular reactors.”

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