Russian Kalinin 4 nuclear reactor on track for November, 2011 start, new fuel pond cooling systems and Fukushima follow up

1. Russian Kalinin 4 nuclear reactor is a V-320 model VVER-1000 built using the major components unused at Bulgaria’s long-running Belene project. It is slated for start-up in September and commercial operation two months later in November, 2011. It will have net capacity of 950 MWe and gross capacity of 1,000 MWe.

2. The French EDF Group has set its sights on becoming the world’s number one “electricity player” by 2020, aiming to have a diversified energy mix with 200 GWe of installed capacity

The plan calls for the company to increase its installed capacity to 200 GWe, with a diversified energy mix of 50% nuclear, 25% thermal and 25% hydroelectricity and other renewables. This would represent an increase of around 66 GWe from EDF’s 2010 installed capacity of 133.9 GWe, including 74.3 GWe of nuclear (55%), 34.8 GWe thermal (18%), and 24.8 GWe hydro and other renewables (26%).

For nuclear, this would suggest that EdF is planning to increase its capacity by over 25 GWe in the next eight years, although it is not clear where that increase will come from.

3. A stand-alone emergency fuel pool cooling system (EFPCS) developed by Westinghouse would be able to keep used fuel cool in emergencies including the loss of all plant power, the company claims. Fuel pond cooling was a big problem at the Fukushima nuclear plants in Japan.

EFPCS is designed primarily as a stand-alone backup system to remove decay heat from spent fuel pools during site emergencies involving a loss of off-site electrical power and on-site emergency diesel power. The system also allows for the addition of make-up water to ensure that safe water levels are maintained in the spent fuel storage pool.

The safety design and features of the system take into account a list of plant requirements including seismic requirements, environmental release limits, fuel pool temperature limits, supplemental cooling mode, remote operating interface, independent diesel power and used fuel pool keep-fill system.

4. Computer analysis of reactor damage at Fukushima Daiichi has indicated more serious fuel melt has probably occurred than previously thought at units 2 and 3.

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