UAE, China build for larger energy future while US, UK, France tweak and maintain nuclear power and energy in general and Japan Grinds towards nuclear restarts

Despite a still recovering economy, the US Energy Information Administration still forecasts a 28% increase in the demand for electricity through 2040. China already has 30% more electricity production in 2013 after passing the US in energy production about 3 years ago. So the US is projected to add the power over 26-30 years that China already added from 2011-2013.

Exelon has said that the US needs changes to tax and energy policy to ensure “fair compensation” for the nuclear fleet. In particular, the company is calling for changes to the capacity market to recognise and compensate nuclear for its reliable and dependable baseload generation, illustrated by performance during recent extreme winter weather in many US states. Exelon is saying that if the US and states are not willing to set things up to pay for energy reliability then Exelon will shut down nuclear reactors that are losing money. This will make the US energy system less reliable, but you get what you pay for.

1. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved uprates at five nuclear reactors that will add nearly 100 MWe of capacity to the US grid.

The uprates at Exelon’s Braidwood and Byron plants and DTE Electric’s Fermi power station are all to be achieved through more accurate measurements of feedwater flow, which will enable the reactors to each increase their capacity by 1.6%. Exelon intends to implement the uprates to the Byron and Braidwood plants during February. Both plants comprise two pressurised water reactors, and the NRC says the uprates will increase each station’s total generating capacity from 2350 to 2390 MWe.

Including the uprates at Byron, Braidwood and Fermi, the NRC has approved uprates totalling some 7036 MWe since 1977. Applications for uprates totalling some 825 MWe are pending and the NRC anticipates receiving two further applications for measurement uncertainty recapture power uprates this year, which would add a further 39 MWe of capacity.

Uprates involve the use of devices to perform more precise measurements of feedwater flow, which is in turn used to calculate reactor power, typically allowing capacity increases of up to 2%.

Uprates of up to 7%, known as stretch uprates, can sometimes be achieved within the design capacity of the plant without involving major modifications, while extended power uprates can be achieved through modifications to major balance-of-plant equipment such as the high pressure turbines, condensate pumps and motors, main generators, and transformers. These can add on anything up to 20% of a plant’s capacity.

2. Permission has been granted for civil works to start on the next two reactors of the UAE’s nuclear power program.

Two reactor units are already under construction at Barakah. For these Enec will apply for an operating licence next year. It plans to complete construction, commission and start them up in time to generate electricity in 2017 and 2018. Units 3 and 4 should follow in 2019 and 2020. The reactors are APR1400 pressurized water reactors supplied by a South Korean consortium led by Kepco.

The four Barakah units will have a capacity of 5600 MWe, but ultimately the UAE wants 20,000 MWe nuclear capacity as part of a plan to meet energy demand that has been growing at 9% per year. The country’s policy documents state it must have total installed generating capacity of 40,000 MWe by 2020. At that time, with Barakah in operation, nuclear power’s baseload role would see it meet about 25% of electricity demand. Renewables are expected to provide up to 7%, domestic gas about 50% and imported gas the rest.

3. The pouring of first concrete has marked the official start of construction of Argentina’s prototype CAREM-25, a domestically-designed and developed small integral reactor.

According to the CNEA, the unit – being built at a cost of some ARS3.5 billion ($446 million) – is currently scheduled to begin cold testing in 2016 and receive its first fuel load in the second half of 2017.

As well as relying on passive safety systems, CAREM’s entire primary coolant system is contained within the single self-pressurized vessel and uses free convection to circulate the coolant. This eliminates the need for devices such as pumps within the primary circuit and decreases the extent and complexity of the piping system required, as well as reducing the possibility of accidents involving a loss of coolant.

Once the design is proven, a larger 100-200 MWe version of the reactor is pencilled in to be built in the northern province of Formosa.

4. In 2013, UK nuclear plants produced 60.5 TWh of electricity, 0.5 TWh more than in 2012. The company said that the improved performance reflected “structural improvement of the AGR fleet” through planned maintenance and the company’s own nuclear investment program over the past five years, as well as benefits from synergies with its French counterpart.

EDF’s UK subsidiary EDF Energy confirmed that it plans to extend the operating life of the Dungeness B nuclear power plant to 2028, and expects to be able to formally announce the plant’s ten-year life extension later this year. Based on expected life extensions, this means that all of EDF’s current UK nuclear fleet will still be in operation in 2023.

EDF’s French nuclear units produced 403.7 TWh in 2013, down 1.2 TWh on 2012, a figure the company described as “stable” when taking into account the effect of the 2012 leap year. Although the group as a whole improved the control of unplanned outages thanks to a program of component replacements, some planned outages had been longer than expected. Output had also been affected by a drop in demand thanks to mild temperatures in December and a high output from windpower that month.

5. Chubu Electric Power Company has requested a safety review by Japan’s nuclear regulator of unit 4 at its Hamaoka plant in Shizuoka prefecture. It becomes the seventeenth Japanese reactor to seek permission to restart.

Chubu has finished implementing enhanced sea defences at Hamaoka, with an 18-metre high tsunami protection wall, 1.6 km in length, completed in December 2012

Chubu is also increasing the height of the tsunami protection wall to 22 metres. This work is expected to be completed by the end of September 2015.

6. China’s Ningde 2 nuclear power reactor sent its first electricity to the grid this week. It becomes the 20th large reactor supplying the country.

The synchronisation of the unit to the national power grid was officially recorded at 3.11pm on 4 January, supplying 50 MWe of its full rated capacity of 1020 MWe. Next will come a series of online operational exercises before the unit begins full-power generation on full-time basis for operator China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN).

Construction started on units 1 and 2 in 2008 and they are both now producing power. Unit 3 is slated to come online this year and unit 4 to follow in 2015. They are all CPR-1000 pressurized water reactor units with a majority of domestically made components.

7. Canadian uranium company Cameco has scrapped its production target for 2018 due to continued uncertainty in the uranium market, despite record production and strong financial results for 2013.

Cameco said that a fixed production target for the mid-term is “no longer appropriate” and has “decided the prudent action is to eliminate our previous 2018 supply target of 36 million pounds.”

However, the company said that the long-term outlook for the uranium industry “continues to be very positive, despite the uncertainty that exists today.”

SOURCE – World Nuclear News

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