- Kenya has a $5B plan to Build a 1000MW Nuclear Power Station
- South Korea Eyes Czech Plans for New Nuclear at Dukovany
- CEZ Says It Will Start Vendor Selection for Dukovany Later this Year
- Poland Updates Plans for New Nuclear Power Plants to 9000MW
- SMRs get R&D Focus by Cameco and Bruce Power
- American Nuclear Society Launches R&D Funding Study
Kenya Unveils $5 Billion Nuclear Power Plant
(Update 10/30/21) – Kenya has delayed its plans to build a nuclear power station to sometime in the late 2030s. The nuclear power agency was disbanded due to budget constraints on 10/23/21. In September 2021 the energy minister was fired by Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta over alleged mismanagement of power purchase agreements.
(Update 11/17/21) (Bloomberg) Kenya will delay by a decade plans to build its first-ever nuclear power plant, a $5 billion facility, to ensure a match between power supply and demand, according to the Nuclear Power and Energy Agency.
The initial 1,000-megawatt plant is now projected to be connected to the grid in 2036, said Erick Ohaga, the state-owned agency’s director of nuclear energy infrastructure development. An earlier plan was to have the plant supply home and industries by 2026.
“Time-lines have changed because power supply needs to follow demand,” Ohaga said by phone on 11/17/21.
(The Citizen, Nairobi) The Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board (KNEB) in a regulatory filing with the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) said last week that a nuclear power plant with an initial capacity of 1,000MW would be built in the country by an contractor.
KNEB said the estimated cost is $5 billion. The project is expected to rely on a conventional off-the-shelf light water reactor ‘third-generation’ PWR design plant. The project carries an immense in terms of its financial risk. The estimated cost of the nuclear plant is nearly half the government’s annual tax collections.
KNEB also said it has selected a site near Kipini, Kenya, in Tana River County. The agency said Tana River, which meets the Indian Ocean on Kenya’s east coast, is the most preferred location since it is not prone to earthquakes.
It’s location would facilitate delivery of large long lead time components by sea going barge including the RPV, steam generator, turbines, transformers / switch gear and related equipment. Other sites under consideration were in the Lake Victoria and Lake Turkana basins.
The project could be completed in seven years with funding primarily from private investors. The government looks to expand the plant’s capacity fourfold to 4,000 MW by 2035 under a build, operate and transfer (BOT) model. The government’s Nuclear Power and Energy Agency would handle all aspects of the project.
“The financing aspect of the Nuclear Power Plant is among the plans underway with a Build Operate Transfer (BOT) being the most preferred financing agreement with the concessionaire that shall come on board,” NuPEA says in plans submitted to the environmental agency. The plan will be subjected to public scrutiny before the agency can approve it.
Kenya views nuclear power both as a long-term solution to high fuel costs — incurred during times of drought when diesel generators are used — and an effective way to cut carbon emissions from the power generating sector.
Kenya’s energy mix currently consists of geothermal (45%), hydropower (28%), wind (13%) and expensive diesel-run generators (11%) according to the government.
The KNEB has multiple memoranda of understanding with China, Russia, South Korea and Slovakia for capacity building for the nuclear plant. None of them have moved to the stage of committing investors, selecting a vendors, and inking a contract with an EPC to build the first of four units.
A major risk for Kenya is the need to rapidly organize an government agency to provide the full spectrum of regulatory safety reviews and oversight of the project.
A second risk is that Kenya’s government is rife with graft. In recent months government officials are alleged to have diverted over $400M in aid intended to help the country deal with the COVID19 crisis.
According to the New York Times 08/21/20, frustration among health workers peaked after a recent television exposé accused dozens of business leaders and government officials of corruption, alleging that they stole about $400 million in funds allocated to fight the pandemic. The money came from Chinese sources.
The nuclear agency wants the State to fend off risks of graft given the size of the proposed nuclear project.
“Kenya is at a risk due to the expected investment of $5 billion into the Nuclear Power Plant if the current issues of run-away corruption are not curtailed, which may lead to massive public economic loss due to possible implementation delays and overruns as experienced in other mega projects in the country.”
The nuclear plant would be Kenya’s biggest and most expensive project since the completion of a Chinese-built standard gauge railway in 2017.
Localization of materials and components for a nuclear power plant may be limited to non-nuclear grade steel and cement. However, foreign direct investment in the country’s steel sector increased in 2019.
According to the CIA World Fact Book section on Kenya, agriculture remains the backbone of the Kenyan economy, contributing one-third of GDP. About 75% of Kenya’s population of roughly 48.5 million work at least part-time in the agricultural sector, including livestock and pastoral activities. Over 75% of agricultural output is from small-scale, rain-fed farming or livestock production.
Inadequate infrastructure continues to hamper Kenya’s efforts to improve its annual growth so that it can meaningfully address poverty and unemployment.
Now In his second term, President KENYATTA has pledged to make economic growth and development a centerpiece of his second administration, focusing on his “Big Four” initiatives of universal healthcare, food security, affordable housing, and expansion of manufacturing.
South Korea Eyes Czech Nuclear Project
(Yonhap News Agency) – South Korea said this week its participation in the US$6.74 billion construction project of a new nuclear power plant in the Czech Republic will pave the way for the two countries to join deeper forces in the energy segment.
Industry Minister Sung Yun-mo held two-day virtual meetings with his Czech counterpart, Karel Havlicek, and Jaroslav Mil, the European country’s special envoy for nuclear energy according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
During the meetings, Sung highlighted that South Korea wishes to participate in the planned nuclear energy plant, which will be launched by the Czech Republic.
The Czech Republic plans to build a new nuclear plant in the southern region of Dukovany. The construction is expected to begin in 2029.
“The upcoming project will become an opportunity for the two countries to open a new phase of cooperation,” Sung said.
The South Korean minister also told his counterparts that South Korea already has successfully carried out a nuclear project in the Middle East. Earlier this month, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has started the operations at the first unit of the South Korean-built Barakah nuclear power plant, the first operation of a peaceful nuclear reactor in the Arab world.
In 2009, a South Korea-led consortium won a US$20 billion contract to build four nuclear reactors in Barakah, 270 km west of Abu Dhabi, the country’s first export of its homegrown commercial atomic power technology. The first reactor was completed in 2018, and the three others are under construction.
Dukovany / CEZ Says It Is Aiming
To Begin Selection Procedure By End Of Year
(NucNet) The Czech Republic’s state utility CEZ is to prepare the procedure for choosing a general contractor for the planned expansion of the Dukovany nuclear power station, aiming to begin the selection process before the end of the year.
Press reports said earlier this year that the selection process could begin in 2022 and the Czech government wanted to conclude a contract with a supplier by 2024.
The state, which holds a 70% stake in CEZ, recently approved plans to give an interest-free loan for the new plant.
It has also approved a model to buy electricity from the new unit at a determined price, with consumers making up the difference if that price is higher than wholesale market prices.
The plans need approval from the European Commission to ensure they meet EU state aid rules.
A CEZ spokesperson told NucNet recently that one Generation III+ reactor is planned for the site, with a maximum installed capacity of 1,200 MW. In March, CEZ filed for permission with the State Office for Nuclear Safety to build up to two new nuclear power plants at Dukovany.
Poland / Latest Update of Program Confirms Plans
for Up to 9,000 MW Of New Nuclear
(NucNet) Poland’s climate ministry has published for public consultation a draft resolution by the Council of Ministers on approving an updated version of the country’s nuclear power program, the first version of which was published in 2014.
The country is one of Europe’s biggest users of coal fired power plants. The move towards nuclear energy was welcomed by climate activists. Anti-nuclear nations like Austria are likely to make trouble for Poland when it seeks investors for the project.
The ministry said the aim of the program is to build from 6,000 to 9,000 MW of installed nuclear capacity based on proven, large-scale, pressurized water reactors (PWR) of Generation III and III+ design.
The ministry noted that PWRs have a smaller restricted zone for safety than boiling water reactors (BWRs), which means more choices of location. The program says there will be more bidders for PWRs than BWRs or pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWRs) such as Canada’s Candu plants, which will bring competitiveness and lower costs.
The timetable says Poland could sign a general contract for its first unit in 2022 and issue a construction permit in 2025. Construction of Unit 1 would begin in 2026. The first of six plants would begin commercial operation in 2033 with the second inn 2035, the third in 2037, the fourth in 2039, the fifth in 2041 and the sixth in 2043.
The program says the Polish state will initially have 100% of shares in a special company set up to invest in nuclear energy, but once a co-investor is chosen the state will maintain 51% of shares in the company and the co-investor will take 49%. The co-investor must be “related to the technology provider.”
“Since the adoption of the first version of the program in 2014, the rationale for implementing nuclear power has not changed,” the ministry said. “It is based on three pillars: energy security, climate and environment, and economy.”
According to the updated program the startup of the first new unit is scheduled for 2032 with commissioning in 2033. In the 2014 program commissioning of the first unit was scheduled for 2024.
Potential sites for new nuclear have not changed since 2014. The program shows four “recommended” sites and 21 “potential” sites throughout the country, but says any chosen site is likely to be coastal, not inland.
It says environmental studies are most advanced at two sites: Lubiatowo-Kopalino and Zarnowiec, both in the north of the country near the Baltic coast. Both sites are about 80Km northwest of Gdnask.
In June, Poland’s president Andrzej Duda said an agreement would be signed between the governments of the US and Poland “in the near future” which will allow Poland to move forward with a civilian nuclear power program.
Small Modular Reactors Get R&D Focus
by Cameco and Bruce Power
According to news media reports, Cameco and Bruce Power announced this week they will create the Center for Next Generation Nuclear Technologies, a research hub that will explore, among other innovations, small modular reactors (SMR). Smaller than standard-sized ones, SMRs produce between 50 and 300 MW of electricity.
Speaking at a virtual news conference, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said nuclear power will be essential to a green future.
“We are not going to be able to deal with things like climate change or very broad issues if we are not going to commit to integrating nuclear power into our systems. It has to be part of the solutions. We simply are unable to get the job done without it.”
In addition to providing baseload power for an electrical grid, Moe said nuclear power would benefit rural and remote communities.
The announcement came two months after the province unveiled the Nuclear Secretariat, which has a core mandate to come up with a plan to develop and deploy SMRs.
In December, Moe signed a memorandum of understanding with the premiers of Ontario and New Brunswick to collaborate to that end. However, that is a reality that remains in the future with SaskPower looking to add nuclear to its supply mix in the early 2030s.
Until then, the province’s plan to reduce emissions from power generation is to use natural gas with renewables.
Isotope Work to Expand
Cameco and Bruce Power will also be expanding their role in support of the production of life-saving medical isotopes. With its facility in Cobourg, ON, Cameco will contribute its expertise to the development of Bruce Power’s new Isotope Production System being developed by its partner IsoGen that will help produce Lutetium-177, an isotope used to treat prostate cancer and neuroendocrine tumors.
Bruce Power aims to begin harvesting Lutetium-177 in 2022. Cameco is a key supplier of materials in the production of Cobalt-60, which is produced in partnership with Ottawa-based Nordion, used to sterilize medical equipment and treat breast cancer and brain tumours.
“Medical isotopes and leveraging our existing infrastructure in a post-COVID world are an important part of the future of nuclear, and Bruce Power is a leader and innovator in this sector,” said Tim Gitzel, president and CEO of Cameco.
“I am proud that Cameco is able to contribute to this important work, especially now when the need for sterilized medical supplies is so high.
Cameco is Bruce Power’s fuel supplier until 2030, and provides parts for the company’s reactor replacement projects. The companies also announced Cameco will supply specialized fuel bundles for Bruce Power’s Unit 6 reactor once it restarts in 2024.
ANS Convenes New Task Force
on Federal Nuclear R&D Funding
The American Nuclear Society has formed a Task Force on Public Investment in Nuclear Research and Development to assess the R&D needs of the U.S. nuclear technology enterprise and the federal investment required to meet those needs.
The task force will identify the overarching objectives of U.S. nuclear R&D and identify specific metrics that can be used to evaluate progress toward those objectives.
“Our expert team representing every aspect of cutting-edge nuclear technology—national laboratories, universities, reactor developers, utilities, and suppliers—is getting to work on the considerable task of capturing the entire scope of U.S. nuclear R&D needs in the 2020s and presenting it in a clear, actionable form to policymakers,” said ANS Executive Director/CEO Craig Piercy.
Mark Peters, director of Idaho National Laboratory, and Christina Back, vice president of technologies and materials at General Atomics, have been appointed cochairs of the task force.
Under their leadership, the task force will prepare a written report to be released in January 2021 that will identify funding levels needed for “core investments” in nuclear R&D during the 2020s and will evaluate the impacts of various federal appropriations funding scenarios.
Task force members will review policy documents and reports from governmental and nongovernmental sources, including current and recent authorizing and appropriations legislation, and will collect views from individuals and organizations in the United States and in global nuclear communities.
“This is an important exercise. Our leaders need an honest assessment of the level of investment needed to successfully commercialize a new generation of advanced reactors and allow nuclear technology to make a meaningful contribution to long-term decarbonization,” Piercy said.
The report will include an analysis of three funding scenarios—moderate growth, flat funding, and reduced funding—and the potential impact of each on achieving the identified nuclear R&D objectives.
Peters Leaving INL
Idaho National Laboratory Director Mark Peters is leaving his spot as lab director for a new job with Battelle Energy Alliance. Peters is moving into a new job as executive vice president for laboratory operations at Battelle in Columbus, OH. Peters, who has been INL director since 2015, made the announcement on 8/20 according to the Idaho Falls Post Register.
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I think it would be prudent for Kenya to be patient and invest in the next generation of small reactors (SMRs). That way, they can start small and then gradually grow their capacity. They should also thing about eventually growing their first nuclear site to as large as 8000 MWe so that they can produce both domestic electricity and synfuels (eMethanol, eGasoline, eJet Fuel, etc.).