Dialogue on replacement Ringhals units

31 January 2013 Swedish utility Vattenfall will meet with officials from the municipality of Varberg, where the Ringhals nuclear power plant is located, for initial discussions on the potential construction of new reactors there. Local residents have been given the opportunity to visit the existing plant. Vattenfall’s director of nuclear power development Mats Ladeborn told the Hallands Nyheter newspaper that the company was in discussions with municipalities at both Forsmark and Ringhals. He said that the company wants to meet with Varberg officials to hear their comments on possible new units at Ringhals. “We have no concrete plans to build any replacement reactors,” Ladeborn told World Nuclear News. “All our investments, irrespective of energy type, must be profitable and be based on solid decision-making. The dialogue with Varberg municipality that we are planning to hold in February is part of these analyses, and will help us create an overall picture. We will listen to their long-term objectives within the scope of their municipal overview plans.” He added, “This is one of many meetings that we will have in order to be able to complete our analysis. Dialogues with a number of interested parties in Varberg and Osthammar municipalities have already been held in order to report on Vattenfall’s analysis work.” Replacement reactors In late July 2012, Vattenfall submitted an application to the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) concerning the replacement of up to two of its existing nuclear power reactors with new ones. According to Vattenfall, “Current regulations are such that it is only through applying for a permit for replacement reactors that Vattenfall will obtain some of the answers needed to complete a decision basis.” A decision on whether or not to build new units could be made within ten years, it noted. The Swedish grid operator Svenska Kraftnät, in a long-term development plan published in October, noted that the construction of new nuclear generating capacity at Forsmark or Oskarshamn would present problems. It concluded that the Ringhals site would be the most convenient location of any new nuclear power in Sweden. Prior to March 2007, all of Sweden’s nuclear power plants had been set to shutdown by 2010. The government has since scrapped old anti-nuclear policies and current policy is that new reactors may be built – but only as replacements for retiring ones and only at existing nuclear sites....
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Chinese I&C deal increases nuclear localisation

31 January 2013 Westinghouse and Chinese company State Nuclear Power Automation System Engineering Company (SNPAS) are to work together to provide instrumentation and control (I&C) systems for China’s future AP1000 nuclear power plants. The two firms signed an agreement at a ceremony in Beijing that set out the basic terms, conditions, division of responsibilities and scope of work for the Chinese AP1000 projects – as well as future arrangements for the two companies to work towards project contracts. The agreed structure for cooperation has SNPAS as the I&C general contractor and Westinghouse as the I&C major subcontractor for future China AP1000 projects. Westinghouse Nuclear Automation senior vice president David Howell said that the agreement demonstrated the company’s approach to “deliver industry-leading global technology” through local partners “who use the best local resources to enable long-term viability of the product for the life of the plants,” while SNPAS general manager Qiu Shaoyang praised the “sound cooperation relationship” developed by the two companies. Four AP1000 pressurized water reactors are under construction in China, at Sanmen and Haiyang. Sanmen unit 1 is expected to begin generating electricity next year, and the other three units by 2016. While further AP1000 units are planned in China, the country is also developing its own indigenous advanced reactor designs, and technology transfer agreements featured in the 2007 deal to build the units at Sanmen and Haiyang. SNPAS, a joint venture of China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC) and Shanghai Automation Instrumentation Corporation Ltd (SAIC), currently supplies I&C systems and equipment to the owners of both plants. The company is also developing the I&C system for China’s own large-scale advanced PWRs. Localisation is becoming an increasingly important feature in nuclear power plant construction projects, with reactor vendors required to increase the role of local suppliers and contractors in the project. Agreements between reactor builders such as Westinghouse and local suppliers are frequently signed even before projects are finalised as vendors seek to emphasise their links with the local supply chain as they strive to secure orders....
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Yangjiang steam generators arrive on site

31 January 2013 A delivery this month completed the journey of three steam generators from the Lingang manufacturing plant near Shanghai to the Yangjiang nuclear power plant site. The steam generators will be installed at Yangjiang 2, one of four reactors being built at the site by China Guangdong Nuclear Power Company (CGNPC). The first unit will begin generating power in the latter part of this year with the remainder following to 2017. Yangjiang is in southern Guangdong province, around 400 kilometers west of Hong Kong, Macau and Shenzhen. The components were delivered by sea, covering the 1800 kilometer distance between 28 December and 18 January. An equivalent delivery before the end of this year will deliver the steam generators for Yangjiang 3. Made by Shanghai Electric, the units will transfer heat from a high pressure loop of water into second loop of steam that drives a turbine and generator. Each CPR-1000 reactor system has three such steam generators and a total electrical output of 1080 MWe....
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Nuclear fuel tax 'formally unconstitutional'

30 January 2013 Germany’s tax on nuclear fuel was designed ‘to siphon off the profits of the nuclear power plant operators’, judges in Hamburg have ruled. The tax exceeds government competence and contradicts the country’s constitution. The clear and final decision announced today by the Hamburg Tax Court (Finanzgericht Hamburg) sends the matter to the Constitutional Court – the only court in Germany that can declare the law invalid. Since January 2011, each gram of fissile nuclear fuel loaded into a reactor has carried a levy of €145 ($196), and this means that nuclear power plants have so far paid around €1.5 billion ($2.0 billion) through the tax. Notes from the court said there had always been ‘considerable doubt’ about the legal basis of the tax, which was challenged by utilities soon after the government abandoned their deal on longer operating lives. The tax was upheld by the Stuttgart Tax Court, but labelled doubtful in Hamburg. A government appeal to that decision has kept the tax in effect to date, but today’s statement that the Hamburg Tax Court is ‘convinced’ that the tax is ‘formally unconstitutional’ will send it to the Constitutional Court. Germany’s constitution specifies the kinds of taxes that federal government can legislate, including excise duties meant to reduce private consumption. The nuclear fuel tax had been put through in that category, but this was ruled wrong because its application did not take any effect on the consumption of the consumer good, electricity. Instead, as supported by official statements made during the legal process, ‘the purpose is to siphon off the profits of the nuclear power plant operators.’ Separately Germany is encouraging the same companies to invest in a huge renewable boom subsidised by levies on power bills. Large power users in industry pay comparatively much less than households, as Germany seeks to maintain competitiveness. The political goal is to establish renewable generation at 20% by 2020, stop using nuclear power two years later and meet 80% of demand with fossil fuels. Origin of the tax dispute Having held anti-nuclear policies for ten years, the German government realised in 2008 that it needed reliable power supply from the nuclear sector for longer than existing phase-out rules allowed. Chancellor Angela Merkel began long negotiations to make changes to allow utilities to operate nuclear power plants for longer. In return, the power companies would have to sacrifice a significant...
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UK waste policy runs aground

30 January 2013 Britain’s radioactive waste disposal process has stalled after conflicting votes between regional and local government. The borough of Copeland voted to continue exploring its suitability, but it lies within the county of Cumbria which voted against the idea. It had been previously agreed that the process to find a disposal site for UK radioactive waste needed positive approval at both borough and county level. “As such, the current process will be brought to a close…” said the Department of Energy and Cilmate Change, which “will now embark on a renewed drive” to engage with other communities that may be interested and able to host a disposal site. The site selection process is based on a principle of voluntarism under which communities explore their options with the right to withdraw at any time. The same idea has been practised with success in Finland and Sweden to find suitable and welcoming places for radioactive waste disposal. The Cumbrian boroughs of Copeland and Allerdale were the two communities that responded to a government call for interest, offering two competing sites, and Cumbria itself joined them to progress through three initial stages lasting about four years. Today’s votes concerned whether to move to the fourth stage, including initial studies to determine the basic geologic suitability of the areas. Copeland Borough Council voted 6-1 to continue, but Cumbria County Council contradicted it with a 7-3 vote against. With the county’s no vote, both options were ruled out. Allerdale had been due to vote, but this became academic after Cumbria’s move. On behalf of Copeland, councillor Elaine Woodburn said, “whilst we do not know whether this area would be suitable to host a repository, we thought it was appropriate to continue in the process to try and find out.” She pointed out the results of an opinion poll showed that Copeland residents supported the decision. Explaining its opposition, Cumbria County Council said that the legislation to guarantee its right to withdraw from the process had not been put in place despite assurances from government. Councillor Eddie Martin said: “The fact remains the right of withdrawal is not yet enshrined in statute and we could not take the risk of saying yes today without this being absolutely nailed down.” Waste at a standstill  The nuclear energy industry is one of the largest employers in west Cumbria, thanks to the decades-long presence of the...
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