US Closes Nuclear Plant, China and Saudi Arabia continue with nuclear power plans

1. Entergy plans to close and decommission its Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station. The station is expected to cease power production after its current fuel cycle and move to safe shutdown in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Cheap Natural Gas and subsidized wind

The decision was driven by sustained low power prices, high cost structure and wholesale electricity market design flaws for Vermont Yankee plant.

Politics also prevented Vermont Yankee from establishing long term contracts.

* A natural gas market that has undergone a transformational shift in supply due to the impacts of shale gas, resulting in sustained low natural gas prices and wholesale energy prices.

* A high cost structure for this single unit plant. Since 2002, the company has invested more than $400 million in the safe and reliable operation of the facility. In addition, the financial impact of cumulative regulation is especially challenging to a small plant in these market conditions.

* Wholesale market design flaws that continue to result in artificially low energy and capacity prices in the region, and do not provide adequate compensation to merchant nuclear plants for the fuel diversity benefits they provide.

2. China’s Dongfang Electrical Machinery Company has built the world’s biggest per unit generator (1750 megawatts) that will be installed at a nuclear power plant.

The Taishan Nuclear Power Plant is under construction and plans to go online in 2013 and will be the third site to house Areva’s 1,700 megawatt (MW) European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) units.

Taishan 1 is scheduled to begin operation by December 2013.
Taishan 2 is scheduled to begin operation by December 2014.
They will each have taken just over 4 years to build.

3. Saudi Arabia intends to become a leader in renewable energy by building 16 nuclear reactors with a combined capacity of 22GW, which is about half of the Kingdom’s current electricity output. The project is estimated to cost of more than $100 billion.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf neighbors regard nuclear power as a way to meet rising electricity demand while reducing reliance on polluting fossil fuels, say analysts.

“After 10 years we will have the first two reactors,” Melaibari told Arab News. “After that, every year we will establish two, until we have 16 by 2030. We would like to cover 20 percent of electricity needs using nuclear energy.”

He estimated the cost of each reactor to be around $7 billion, adding that the Kingdom is in the process of concluding deals with specialized companies to implement the project.

The UAE in December 2009 awarded a South Korean consortium the contract to build four nuclear power plants worth $20.4 billion.
Power demand in Saudi Arabia is estimated to grow seven to eight percent during the next 10 years. It is the largest economy of the GCC, with an annual GDP of $622 billion and a GDP per capita of $24,200.

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