A year of construction
World survey part 3: Asia25 June 2009
In 2008 the number of nuclear reactors starting construction hit double figures, with China and Russia leading the race. There has been much activity in India, too, after last year’s nuclear cooperation deals. Our World Survey covers recent developments in every country with operating commercial reactors.
The world’s first AP1000 is now under construction in China. On 19 April, the first concrete was poured at the Sanmen site in southeast Zhejiang province where two of the 1100MW Westinghouse reactors are to be built. Unit 1 at Sanmen is expected to come online in August 2013, with the second a year or so later. The country’s plan for up to 60GW of installed nuclear capacity by 2020 looks to be on track, with 12 reactors now under construction. This figure is expected to rise to 18 by the end of 2009.
In 2008, construction officially started on six new reactors in China, including the largest nuclear power plant to be approved by Chinese planners so far, Yangjiang. The first unit at Yangjiang in Guangdong province began construction in December, and first operation is scheduled for 2013. Construction of a second unit at the site, where a total of six domestically-designed CP-1000 reactors are planned, is due to start this year. Last year also saw construction start on: Fangjiashan 1 and Ningde 1 and 2 in Zhejiang province, Fuqing 1 in Fujian province and Hongyanhe 1 in Liaoning province.
In 2009, construction is slated to begin on the Taishan (Yaogu) nuclear power plant in Guangdong where two 1700MWe Areva EPRs are planned. Construction of China’s first inland nuclear power plant, Dafan, to be built in Xianning city, Hubei province, is also projected to be underway.
The national energy plan has earmarked about CNY250 billion ($36.5 billion) for investment in nuclear facilities and equipment over the next 15 years.
In late 2008, China officially adopted the AP1000 as the standard for its inland nuclear power projects, following a meeting held by the State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC). The technology will be transferred to domestic companies.
The Chinese government has accelerated the pace of establishing nuclear power regulations to match the fast development of the industry. According to the 2008 work plan released by China Atomic Energy Authority, regulations for work that precedes construction of a nuclear power plant, and regulation of construction and equipment, need to be completed urgently. A priority is regulations for pre-construction work, which are largely absent according to the plan.
The Lungmen (Dragon Gate) nuclear project in Taiwan is expected to come online in July 2009 (unit 1) and July 2010 (unit 2). Although construction began in 1997, the plant has been delayed by political arguments and construction was temporarily halted in 2000. By October 2005, the project was over 60% complete.
The project consists of two 1350MW units at Yenliao, on the northeastern tip of Taiwan, near the capital Taipei. The ABWR technology marks a departure from the utility’s three existing nuclear plants, which are smaller units completed in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
In 2008, Entergy Nuclear and the Taiwan Power Company began to cooperate on a lifetime extension plan at Taiwan’s Kuosheng Nuclear Power Plant. Officially called the Time-Limited Integrated Plant Assessment, or TLIPA, the project contains a scope of activities similar to licence renewal projects in the USA. From 2005 to 2007, Entergy Nuclear supported a similar TLIPA for the Chinshan plant of TPC in Taiwan.
Taiwan’s Atomic Energy Council has embarked on a new radwaste programme. One programme aim is to lower the routine generation of LLW in Taiwan.
Five reactors are scheduled to be started up in the next year, including both VVER-1000 units at Kudankulam. Three other 220MWe PHWRs are also scheduled to finish in 2009, depending on fuel availability. India’s domestic uranium reserves cannot support more than its total of 4000MWe when these reactors come online, according to the chairman of state-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL), Shreyans Kumar Jain.
However, new build business activity stepped up after India’s nuclear isolation was weakened in 2008. In
September the Nuclear Suppliers Group removed the restrictions on trade in nuclear material and technology that had been imposed upon the country since 1974 and formal cooperation agreements with France, Russia and the USA followed.
In mid-February, NPCIL signed a memorandum of understanding in Mumbai with India’s largest power utility National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) to incorporate a 51:49 joint venture. The venture is to set up nuclear power plants in India, including a planned 4000MW plant in Kudgi, Bijapur.
Earlier in February, NPCIL signed a memorandum of understanding with Areva to build between two and six 1650MWe EPRs at Jaitapur in Maharashtra state, and for all the fuel.
Also in February, the Indian department of atomic energy signed a deal with TVEL to supply 2000t of natural uranium pellets for India’s PHWR reactors, and about 60t of LEU pellets for its BWRs at Tarapur operated by NPCIL. TVEL is also the supplier of the nuclear fuel assemblies for the Kudankulam nuclear reactor project.
GE Hitachi has also signed agreements with two state-owned Indian companies to collaborate on building ABWRs in the country. This will help towards meeting India’s ambitious goal to produce 60GWe from nuclear power by 2032. Memoranda of understanding have been signed with NPCIL and Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL), the country’s leading manufacturer and supplier of power generation equipment and components. Under the preliminary agreements, the three companies will begin planning for the necessary resources in manufacturing and construction management for a potential multiple-unit ABWR power station.
Sheffield Forgemasters has signed also a technology transfer agreement with BHEL. The ten-year agreement is estimated to be worth GBP30m ($43m) over the next decade.
The continuing outage at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa following the 2007 Niigata-Chuetsu-Oki earthquake has resulted in an extraordinary loss of JPY68.8 billion ($693 million), on a consolidated basis, for Tokyo Electric Power’s 2008 fiscal year to 31 March 2009.
The utility said that almost all of this cost has been in buying fuel (JPY635 billion, or $6.39 billion). This figure was up more than a third compared to the previous year. But restoration costs were down by more than half to JPY64 billion. The load factor of TEPCO’s nuclear power stations over the year was 43.8%. The safe performance of the plant during and after the earthquake has been confirmed by an IAEA report, published in January 2009. The report is the third and final in a series issued by an IAEA-led team of international experts, invited to the plant by the Japanese government and TEPCO.
Unit 7, an ABWR, was given permission to restart on 9 May for functional tests. The remaining reactors will be brought back into service once the soundness of facilities is confirmed.
In other regulatory developments, Hokuriku has won a court appeal to continue operating unit 2 at its Shika nuclear station in Ishikawa prefecture. In March 2006, in response to a suit brought by a group of citizens, the Kanazawa District Court ordered the utility to stop operating Shika 2, a 1358MWe ABWR. The decision was taken due to concerns about the safety of the reactor in the event of an earthquake. The Nagoya High Court has now reversed the original ruling made by the Kanazawa District Court.
The commercial start-up of Japan’s Rokkasho reprocessing plant has suffered a further delay. On 30 January its owner, Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd (JNFL), filed an application with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to change its construction plan, pushing the scheduled completion date of the plant back to August 2009.
Japan’s Electric Power Development Company has agreed to source MOX fuel for its upcoming Ohma nuclear power plant from Areva’s Melox facility in France. The 1383MWe ABWR is scheduled to begin fuel loading in December 2013, with operation starting 11 months later.
In a long-term plan published in 2009, TEPCO is planning for nuclear to have a 26% stake in generating capacity by end of 2018 fiscal year. That plan would rely on four units currently under construction coming online on time. Fukushima Daiichi units 7 and 8 are expected to start commercial operation in October 2015 and October 2016, and Higashidori unit 1 should start up in March 2017. TEPCO says that Higashidori unit 2 would not start commercial operation until at least its 2019 fiscal year, if not later.
South Korea’s Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Company (KHNP) is currently building eight units. First concrete was poured on Shin Kori unit 1 in June 2006, and on unit 2 a year later. Both units are using an improved version of the 1000MWe Korean domestic OPR1000 (optimised power reactor) design that was first used in Ulchin unit 3, which was built from 1992-8. KHNP expects Shin-Kori 1 to enter commercial operation in December 2010 and unit 2 in December 2011. Lagging slightly behind, Shin-Wolsong units 1 and 2, which use the same reactor design, received government construction permits in June 2007. Unit 1 is due to be connected to the grid in March 2012 and unit 2 in January 2013.
Shin-Kori 3 and 4 use a more recent design, the domestically-developed 1400MWe advanced power reactor APR1400. The PWR received a standard design certificate in May 2002. Ground was broken on the site two months after receiving a construction permit in September 2007. The utility expects Shin-Kori 3 to go into commercial operation in September 2013 and unit 4 in September 2014.
The Korean Ministry of the Knowledge Economy has approved the construction of two new reactors: Shin-Ulchin 1 and 2. Site preparation will begin in August 2009 and first commercial operation of unit 2 is scheduled for late 2016. The ministry said that only domestic technologies will be used in the project. All components for Shin-Ulchin will be Korean-made. Some KRW6.3 trillion ($4.7 billion) will be spent on the project.
KHNP has set the ball in motion for a radical internal shake-up. It announced plans to invest KRW5.3 trillion ($4.16 billion) and add KRW600 billion to its maintenance budget in 2009. This sum amounts to KRW1.3 trillion more than in 2008. To pay for its construction programme, KHNP issued a total of KRW800 billion ($628.6 million) in corporate bonds in January and February 2009. It has also announced plans to lay off more than 1000 employees and expand outsourcing to “improve the efficiency and competitiveness” of the company.
As part of a long-term plan to increase the share of nuclear in the generation mix (48% by 2022, up from 34% in 2009), the government has announced plans to spend KRW37 trillion ($28.5 billion) building more nuclear and gas-fired power plants, including 12 more nuclear power plants.
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