Application in for new Temelin units

30 November 2012 An application to build two new reactors at the Temelin plant has been submitted to the Czech State Office for Nuclear Safety (SUJB) by utility CEZ. Under Czech law, the SUJB now has up to four months to review the application, although it can suspend its review if it requires further information from CEZ. It said that the time it takes to complete its review will depend on how well the supporting documentation has been prepared and how CEZ responds to any requests it makes. CEZ has also published a ‘tender security report’. The 830-page document was put together by 35 experts from CEZ and other institutions, such as the Nuclear Research Institute Rez. Under Czech law, such a report must be submitted to the SUJB for evaluation alongside a construction licence application. In particular, the tender security report describes and evaluates the characteristics of the Temelin site, such as its geological and seismological features, hydrological and climatic conditions, as well as human activities in the vicinity of the plant (such as gas extraction, industrial production, etc). The document also describes and evaluates the project concept, quality issues, the environmental impact of construction traffic, decommissioning options and analyzes the necessary physical protection of the plant. The most important outcome of the report, CEZ said, is the so-called design basis for the new units, which will have to meet all the criteria set by nuclear legislation. Iva Kubanova, manager of quality and safety for the Temelin unit 3 and 4 project, said: “The fact that there are already two operating units at Temelin has only partially helped us. The advantage, of course, is the large amount of input data we have available and the safety records of the existing units and the results of stress tests.” She added, “However, we had some data to update or to supplement so that they could be evaluated with state-of-the-art methods. We also carried out an extensive analysis of all requirements under Czech nuclear legislation, standards set by the International Atomic Energy Agency and by the Western European Nuclear Regulators Association, and incorporated them into the tender safety report.” CEZ launched the tender process for the new Temelin units in August 2009 and invited three candidates – Areva; a consortium between Škoda JS, AtomStroyExport and OKB Gidropress; and Westinghouse – in November 2011 to submit bids. All three contenders submitted documentation...
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UK companies welcome Energy Bill

30 November 2012 Would-be builders of new nuclear in the UK have welcomed the publication of long-awaited legislation to reform the UK energy market and encourage the development of a low-carbon energy infrastructure. Meanwhile, France has launched a national debate in preparation for its own energy transition legislation. The Energy Bill, formally introduced to parliament by UK energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey, has been drawn up after two years of preparations including extensive consultation and pre-legislative scrutiny. The reforms to the design of the UK electricity market set out in the bill are intended to kick-start a renaissance in the construction of a low-carbon energy infrastructure and manufacturing supply chains. A draft version of the legislation was published in May. The contents of the bill are of particular interest to those companies working towards building new nuclear power plants in the UK, not least because of the introduction of contracts for difference (CfD), which stabilise revenues for investors in low-carbon generation such as renewables, nuclear and CCS-equipped plant, helping them to secure the upfront investment needed for low-carbon generation construction projects. Returns for generators are stabilised at a fixed level known as a strike price. It has long been recognised that the contents of the Energy Bill are likely to be influential on EDF Energy’s forthcoming investment decision on a planned new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point C. The company said key measures it had been looking to see in the bill, including a robust legal framework for CfDs, had been met. “Our first examination of the detail … gives us confidence that the Bill represents a significant step forward,” the company said in a statement. EDF Energy chief executive Vincent de Rivaz described the publication of the bill as a “defining moment”. As well as Hinkley Point C, for which a site licence was granted only days ago, EDF Energy has recently launched a public consultation for the construction of a new nuclear plant at Sizewell C. Alan Raymant, chief operating officer of Horizon Nuclear Power, also welcomed the publication of the bill and the accompanying CfD framework, which he described as critical in allowing developers to progress projects. Horizon, which has now been acquired by Hitachi of Japan, has sites suitable for new nuclear plants at Wylfa and Oldbury. The Energy Bill is expected to receive royal assent in 2013, subject to its passage...
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Urenco takes on Capenhurst site

30 November 2012 The UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has today completed the transfer of its Capenhurst site to Urenco subsidiary Capenhurst Nuclear Services (CNS). The 60-year-old Capenhurst site was previously split into two parts. One part – a former diffusion uranium enrichment plant that shut down in 1982 – owned by the NDA and operated by contractor Sellafield Ltd. While most of the plant has now been decommissioned, uranic material (primarily depleted uranium and uranium hexafluoride) is expected to be stored on the site until 2120. The other part of the Capenhurst site comprises Urenco’s operating centrifuge uranium enrichment plant. CNS has now taken ownership of the NDA portion of the site, combining it with the adjacent Urenco-owned site to create one nuclear licensed site. The transition started in December 2011, when the NDA signed agreements with Urenco. Transferring ownership of parcels of land on the site required removal of Energy Act designations. Activities formerly carried out by Sellafield Ltd at Capenhurst will be transferred to CNS. This includes decommissioning and storage operations, as well as the processing of government-owned by-product/legacy material from uranium enrichment through Urenco’s Tails Management Facility. The transfer is part of the NDA’s asset use program which has seen land at site including Wylfa, Oldbury and Springfields transferred to private sector ownership. NDA commercial director Sean Balmer commented: “When added to the other successful projects in the asset use program, well over £1 billion ($1.6 billion) in savings have been produced for the UK taxpayer, through reduction in NDA liabilities or income receipts from the sale of land.” Urenco CEO Helmet Engelbrecht said, “CNS is committed to responsible uranium stewardship. Our objective is to provide a centre of excellence for uranic storage, decommissioning and recycling.”...
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New Chernobyl cover takes shape

29 November 2012 Assembly of the giant structure that will protect the ruined Chernobyl unit 4 and enable its dismantling has reached a milestone with the raising of the first arch. Construction of the New Safe Confinement (NSC) structure was officially launched in April during a visit by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. This arched structure – some 108m high, 257m wide and 150m long – will be assembled on concrete rails and slid into place over the broken buildings of Chernobyl 4. Some 20,000 tonnes of steel will be used in the structure’s construction, the first batch of which was delivered to site in March. The NSC has now started to take shape with the first section of arched steel work being raised to an initial height of 22 metres on 24 November. The first cladding was installed on this section in October. This section, weighing some 5300 tonnes, will form part of the top of the arch. More sections will now be attached to extend the arch after subsequent lifting operations. After a second and third lifting operation, this initial section will be raised to a height of over 100 metres. These first segments of the arch structure were pre-assembled on the ground in a construction area just some 300m from the damaged reactor. In order to reduce radiation exposure to construction workers, some 55,000 cubic metres of contaminated soil were removed from this area and a 90,000 square metre concrete work area was laid upon it. The NSC will be assembled in two halves. Once the first half is completed, it will be pushed into a holding area in front of unit 4 while the sections of the second half are assembled. When this is complete, the two sections will be joined together. The completed structure will have some 86,000 square metres of cladding. The NSC is being constructed in two stages. The initial stage involves assembly of the arched structure, while the second stage will involve installing infrastructure (such as cranes) for dismantling the shelter structures and the removal of fuel. Assembly of the NSC is expected to be completed by the end of 2014, while installation of systems will take place during 2014 and 2015. Once this second stage is completed, the entire structure – weighing some 31,000 tonnes – will be pushed over unit 4 and part of its turbine hall using hydraulic jacks. This sliding...
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Levelling the playing field of grid cost

29 November 2012 The widely differing costs of supplying electricity from different generating options to the grid must play a part in future energy decisions, and must be internalised for each low-carbon generation option, according to a new report by the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA). The report, Nuclear Energy and Renewables: System Effects in Low-carbon Electricity Systems, addresses the way that variable renewables and so-called dispatchable energy technologies (specifically coal, gas and nuclear) interact in terms of their effects on electricity systems. All power generation technologies cause system effects, and by virtue of being connected to the same grid and delivering to the same market, they exert impacts on each other, for example with dispatchable technologies needing to be brought into or out of play to balance variable input from renewables. Grid-level system costs are the costs above plant-level to supply electricity to the grid. Broadly these comprise costs for additional investments to extend and reinforce transport and distribution grids, as well as to connect new capacity; and the costs for short-term balancing and the maintenance of long-term secure electricity supplies. The study considers six technologies in detail: nuclear, coal, gas, onshore wind, offshore wind and solar. It finds that the so-called dispatchable technologies – coal, gas and nuclear – have system costs of less than $3 per MWh, while the system costs for renewables can reach up to $40 per MWh for onshore wind, $45 per MWh for offshore wind and $80 per MWh for solar. The costs for renewables vary depending on the country, technology and penetration levels, with higher system costs for greater penetration of renewables. Currently, the report notes, these costs tend to be unacknowledged and are absorbed by consumers through high network charges and by the producers of dispatchable energy through reduced margins and lower load factors. Failing to account for system costs is, NEA says, “adding implicit subsidies to already sizeable explicit subsidies for variable renewables.” Moreover, as long as this situation continues, the agency says, dispatchable capacity will not tend to be replaced at the end of its operating life and security of supply will thereby be weakened further. In the shorter term, nuclear can be expected to fare better than coal or gas because of its low variable costs. In the longer term, however, nuclear could find itself “disproportionately” penalised when investment decisions need to be made because of its high fixed...
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