August 12, 2015

Nuclear power update for Japan, Russia, China and Europe

Kyushu Electric Power has begun restaringt of one of its nuclear reactors on Tuesday. This begins a Japanese government-backed process to get more atomic stations online throughout Japan, a policy supported by industry, yet largely opposed by the public.

Kyushu Electric plans to restart a second reactor in the middle of October. Next year another 11 may begin operation, according to Polina Diyachkina, an analyst who has covered Japan’s power utilities for three years at Macquarie Group Ltd.

More nuclear plants generating electricity for factories, offices and homes will reduce Japan’s import bill for fossil fuels, which contributed to four years of trade deficits that hit a record 12.8 trillion yen ($103 billion) last year.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance base forecast in June was for 26 reactors to come online over the next three years.

Japan has 43 reactors and 25 have so far applied for approval to restart. Kyushu Electric’s two reactors on Japan’s southern island of Kyushu are the first to pass post-Fukushima safety checks and overcome legal challenges.

2. Russia begins Mox fuel production for 800 MWe fast neutron breeder reactor, BN-800.

The first batch of 20 standard fuel assemblies with mixed oxide fuel is being produced in the new Mox Fuel Plant (MFP) at Russia's Mining and Chemical Combine (MCC) in Zheleznogorsk after signing a contract to supply the BN-800 fast reactor Beloyarsk 4.

MCC director general Petr Gavrilov said the decision to begin production was taken by Rosatom's top management after regulator Rostechnadzor had inspected the equipment and granted a licence, and all the necessary materials and equipment were in place.

The plutonium for the Mox will be supplied by PA Mayak in Ozersk and the uranium by MCC. Component parts for the assemblies are supplied by Mashinostroitelny Zavod.

Commercial production is planned for 2016 but output will depend on orders from nuclear utility Rosenergoatom, Gavrilov explained. He said the ratio of domestic and foreign equipment at the MFP was approximately 50:50. He noted that MCC managed to purchase necessary equipment before the sanctions had any effect while a number of key components, including the robotic complex, were made in Russia.

The first 10kg of Mox was produced at MCC last September. The production line was assembled in a mine 200m underground. Small amounts of Mox fuel for earlier versions of fast breeder reactors in the USSR and Russia were produced at PA Mayak.

3. EDF, the giant electricity utility owned by the French government, does not have the £25 billion (US$38.5bn) needed to build the two huge nuclear reactors in England that it has already agreed to construct, because it is in debt and its partners have pulled out.

The British government, despite its critics’ accusation that the proposed power station atHinkley Point in the west of England will be an expensive white elephant, still wants to go ahead and is to sign an agreement with the Chinese to finance the deal.

China’s President, Xi Jinping, is due in London in October and is expected to agree with David Cameron, the UK’s Prime Minister, to fund the deal

4. Containment pressure tests have been successfully completed at unit 3 of the Fuqing nuclear power plant in China's Fujian province. CNNC's Fuqing plant will eventually house six Chinese-designed PWRs, the first four being 1087 MWe CPR-1000 pressurized water reactors. Unit 1 started up in July 2014, was connected to the grid the following month and entered commercial operation in November.
Unit 2 achieved first criticality last month and is expected to enter commercial operation later in 2015

Ground was broken in June 2009 for Fuqing unit 3 and 4. Unit 3 should begin operation in late-2015, while unit 4 is scheduled to start up in 2017.

China's State Council gave final approval for construction of Fuqing units 5 and 6 in mid-April. First concrete was poured for the fifth unit in May. This will be a demonstration indigenously-designed Hualong One reactor

5. Acceptance tests have been started at unit 3 of Russia's Rostov nuclear power plant, state nuclear corporation Rosatom announced yesterday. Successful completion of the tests will mark the end of pilot operation of the reactor and its readiness to be put into commercial operation, the company said.

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