India Goes Large in Plans to Build Next Round of Reactors
- February 13, 2017
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All future foreign nuclear reactors to be 1200 MW or more
“We already have foreign power plants with a capacity of 1000 MWs (Kudankulam). The technology too has advanced that we have reactors with such a capacity.
If we are installing them, then might as well have reactors that can generate more power and make optimum use of it,” a senior government official said. The comment stirred immediate interest in the fate and future of plans for Westinghouse to build six AP1000 reactors for NPCIL.
The Indian government recently agreed to increase the capacity of six AP-1000 reactors, to be built by USA’s Westinghouse Co in Kovvada in Andhra Pradesh, to 1208 MW each. The six proposed nuclear power reactors to be built by Areva in Jaitapur in Maharashtra will have capacity of 1650 MW each.
According to sources, the second site to be allocated to the Russians at Kavali in Andhra Pradesh for its proposed nuclear power park will also have atomic reactors with an enhanced capacity of 1200 MW.
The existing VVER reactors built by Russians at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu have a capacity of 1000 MW each. The first two units have been commissioned and Russia will build four more units at the site. Rostom is supply its 1200 MW models to Turkey where there are plans to build four of them at a coastal site.
India’s plans for 1200 MW units will be little less than twice the capacity of indigenously developed Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) in the country. The current PHWRs in operation have capacity to generate between 220 MW to 540 MW. The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) is already constructing its indigenous PHRWs with a capacity of 700 MW.
There could be political resistance to this decision. Some interests want India to only build indigenous designs and to keep foreign vendors out of the market. India’s coal mining interests have successfully blocked U.S. vendors from entering the market by supporting the supplier liability law.
India faces a shortage of nuclear engineers and does not have a plant to make the large forgings needed to build reactor pressure vessels.
Financing is going to be a problem. NPCIL does not have the funding and there are limits to financing from vendors like Westinghouse and Areva. The former is hobbled by the financial troubles of Toshiba, its parent firm. Areva has just been recapitalized by the French government, but is not in a position to finance six new reactors for India.
India has explored getting financial support for the Westinghouse reactors from the U.S. Export-Import bank, but Congress is unlikely to raise the bank’s lending authority to cover the the estimated 20 billion, or more, in costs while faced with demands for investments for infrastructure in the nation’s roads and bridges at home.
For Westinghouse to proceed with the project it will have to emerge from under the shadow of Toshiba’s financial troubles and settle its disputes with Chicago Bridge & Iron. The firm could thrive if it returns to a role of being a vendor of reactor technology rather than an integrated supplier and EPC firm. That process could take a year or two.
India’s Kalpakkam plant to add prototype fast breeder reactors
(Economic Times) The Department of Atomic Energy will construct two Prototype Fast Breeder Reactors (PFBR) of 600 MW each at Kalpakkam in Tamil Nadu, besides the present one of 500 MW capacity which is expected to go fully functional by October.
“All the construction activities of PFBR have been completed and the integrated commissioning activities have started. PFBR is expected to go fully functional by October 2017.
The 500 MW PFBR, which is to be functional by October, will be the first PFBR in the world for commercial use.
China’s First Haixang AP1000 To Begin Operation In 2020
(NucNet) The state-run China Daily reports that first nuclear reactor unit at the Haixang nuclear station in Hebei province, northeastern China, is expected to come online by 2020 and will use Westinghouse AP1000 reactor technology. The wire service said construction work began at Haixang last year, although the station is not yet listed in the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Power Reactor Information System (Pris) database.
In 2014 the project company, China Nuclear Huadian Hebei Nuclear Power Company, said the proposed site has the capacity for six reactor units. The company said it is planning to build Westinghouse AP1000 units, but Westinghouse has not confirmed this or released any information about the project.
Westinghouse is supplying eight of its AP1000 reactor units for new-build projects, four in the US and four in China – two at Sanmen and two at Haiyang – and says “dozens more” AP1000 plants are planned around the world. These plans may be disrupted by the financial collapses of Toshiba, its parent corporation.
Westinghouse Parent Toshiba’s Decision Could Shock Markets
(Pittsburgh Post Gazette) Toshiba Corp., told shareholders to expect a multibillion-dollar impairment in Westinghouse’s value. The write-down is expected to be close to $6 billion and it stems from Westinghouse’s acquisition of a nuclear construction company in 2015.
Late last month, Toshiba’s president and CEO, Satoshi Tsunakawa, told reporters that Toshiba is likely to exit the nuclear construction business outside of Japan, which would return Westinghouse to its role as a technology designer and service provider.
The firm is expected to make a formal announcement in Tokyo on Feb 14.
China’s Five-Year Plan Reveals Ambitious Nuclear Targets
(NucNet) More than 30 GW of nuclear energy facilities will be under construction in China through the next five years with installed capacity of 58 GW by 2020, up 16.5% year on year, according to the country’s 13th Five-Year Plan for energy development, which the National Development and Reform Commission and the National Energy Administration have officially issued. For the targets to be reached China will have to build 7-10 reactors a year.
China has 37 reactors in commercial operation, 20 under construction and four that have been approved. Its nuclear share of energy generation was 3.03% in 2015, with a target of 6% by 2020 and 9% by 2030. The country is racing to get rid of its coal fired power plants which are responsible, along with industrial pollution, for significant air quality problems in its major cities.
China is also planning to build 30 reactors overseas by 2030. According to statistics quoted by Forbes magazine, Chinese construction costs per MW are about one-third of the Flamanville-3 EPR under construction in northern France.
The Yangjiang-1 to Yangjiang-6 reactors in China’s southern province of Guangdong are costing about $1.9bn (€1.7bn) each.
NEI CEO Korsnick: Nuclear Provides ‘critical infrastructure’
(WNN) US policymakers understand the potential impact of losing nuclear plants and states are increasingly recognizing the benefits of nuclear power to consumers, the economy and the environment, Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) CEO Maria Korsnick said at its annual briefing to Wall Street analysts
Nuclear power is the “backbone” of the USA’s electricity system, providing sustained economic benefits, assuring grid reliability and supplying the country’s largest source of low-carbon energy, Korsnick said. The US nuclear fleet provides about 475,000 jobs and produces more than $12 billion annually in federal and state tax revenues, she added.
Korsnick identified two challenges of immediate concern to the US nuclear industry: preserving its existing nuclear fleet, and creating policy conditions under which companies will build and develop new nuclear capacity.
NRC Completes Safety Evaluation of Proposed Nuclear Reactor in Virginia
Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff has completed their safety evaluation for a combined license for a proposed nuclear reactor at the North Anna site near Mineral, Virginia.
The Final Safety Evaluation Report found no safety aspects that would preclude the issuance of the requested license.
The NRC staff will provide the report and the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement to the Commission for the mandatory hearing phase of the licensing process, which will take place later this year. In the hearing, the Commission will determine if the staff’s review supports the findings required to issue a license. The Commission will then vote on whether to approve the license.
Dominion Virginia Power submitted the license application on Nov. 26, 2007 to build an Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) at the North Anna site. The NRC certified the design in 2014.
The NRC’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards independently evaluated the safety aspects of the North Anna application. On Nov. 15, 2016, the committee provided the results of its review to the Commission. The NRC issued an Early Site Permit for North Anna in November 2007, and the agency supplemented the permit’s environmental review for the proposed North Anna reactor in March 2010.
However, the utility has not announced plans to actually build the reactors. It joins DTE which also got an NRC license for an ESBWR for its FERMI III reactor near Detroit. The licenses are good for 20 years.
Acceptance Testing Complete For NuScale SMR
(NucNet) UK-based Ultra Electronics has successfully completed acceptance testing of the NuScale power module protection system it is developing for US small modular reactor (SMR) developer NuScale Power. The UK-developed system is a critical safety component and will be fundamental to the operation of NuScale’s SMR technology.
Factory acceptance tests were carried out at Ultra’s facility in Dorset, southern England, earlier this month. The tests – witnessed by representatives from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) – successfully demonstrated the systems’ ability to handle safety-critical scenarios associated with the operation of NuScale’s SMR technology. The results of the tests will now form part of the NRC’s review of NuScale’s design certification application. In December 2016, NuScale asked the NRC to review and approve its commercial SMR plant design – the first SMR technology developer to do so.
NuScale said the unit will be ready for manufacture and deployment in the US and the UK by the mid-2020s. The first plant has been earmarked for a site at the US Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory.
Molten salt Reactor R&D Develops Class of Alloys
(WNN) Australian and Chinese researchers have made progress in understanding the mechanical properties of a new class of materials for use in molten salt reactors (MSRs).
The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization (Ansto) said that NiMo-SiC alloys – prepared from nickel molybdenum metal powders with added silicon carbide particles – have superior corrosion resistance and radiation damage resistance.
Although there are no commercial MSRs in operation, there is an MSR and thorium energy research and development program at the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics (Sinap), with which Antso has a partnership agreement. A number of Ni-MoSiC alloy specimens containing varying amounts of silicon carbide were prepared in Sinap laboratories before being characterized at Antso.
“Structural materials for MSRs must demonstrate strength at high temperatures, be radiation resistant and also withstand corrosion,” Antso said.
In a paper published in Materials and Design, researchers from the two organizations reported that NiMo-SiC alloys “possess superior mechanical properties owing to the precipitation, dispersion and solid-solution strengthening of the NiMo matrix.”
Melted Fuel Debris Possibly Located at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant
(IEEE Spectrum) An ongoing operation to learn more about the melted nuclear fuel at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan may have helped the decommissioning project—estimated to take up to 40 years—reach an important milestone.
Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the plant operator, said that a complicated maneuver employing a 10.5-meter-long telescopic rod with a pan-tilt camera attached has yielded images of a dark mass of rubble inside the containment vessel and under the reactor vessel that houses the nuclear fuel. The images are now being analyzed in an effort to ascertain what the material might be.
“If the mass captured on camera is melted nuclear fuel, it would be a big step in helping the decommissioning work,” Yoshiyuki Ishizaki, executive vice president of TEPCO, said on 30 January, following the discovery.
Should the presence of nuclear fuel be confirmed, nuclear engineers could then work up a strategy for removing the highly radioactive rubble. However, if the material proves to be part of the damaged pressure vessel, or remains of cables or pipes, then more robot-aided searches of the surrounding area—including the concrete base supporting the containment vessel—will be required.