IN OTHER NEWS:

30 September 2014 Rosatom general director Sergey Kiriyenko and Kazakh energy minister Vladimir Shkolnik have initialed an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in construction of a nuclear power plant in Kazakhstan. Kurchatov – a town in the northeast of the country named after Soviet nuclear physicist Igor Kurchatov – is being considered as the potential site of the plant. Rosatom plans to invest at least RUB268 million ($6.8 million) this year on constructing a multi-functional radiochemical research centre that is to be built by 2017 at the Research Institute of Atomic Reactors (NIIAR) in Dimitrovgrad. In total, the centre’s buildings and structures are expected to cost RUB1.67 billion ($42.4 million) and its equipment RUB4 billion ($101.5 million). Hot trials of the primary and secondary circuits on unit 3 of the Rostov nuclear power plant have started. These are the last trials before fuel assemblies are put into the reactor and the start of first criticality. Start-up is to take place at the end of this year. Westinghouse is to launch an expedited review application in the South African court as part of its ongoing legal challenge of Eskom’s decision to award a tender for replacement steam generators for the Koeberg nuclear power plant to Areva. In a statement, Westinghouse also said that Eskom has failed to provide all relevant documentation on its decision despite of a 5 September court ruling compelling the South African company to do so. A joint vision statement released by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi ahead of meetings with US president Barack Obama underlines the two countries’ commitment to bring US-origin nuclear technologies to India. The statement on the two nations’ strategic partnership was released as Modi attended a White House dinner ahead of formal talks. In it, the nations also support the “greater multilateral responsibility” for India, including in a “reformed” United Nations Security Council. Spain’s GNF Enusa Nuclear Fuel SA has been awarded a contract by RWE and EOn to supply fuel reloads for Gundremmingen C nuclear power unit in Germany. The three reloads and options for two more included in the deal will potentially provide fuel to the plant during its remaining...
read more

Core catcher for Akkuyu

30 September 2014 Russia has designed an advanced core melt trap, or core catcher, for the Akkuyu nuclear power plant that is specific to conditions in Turkey, Atomenergoproekt (AEP), the principal designer for the project, said today. A core catcher is a device provided to catch the molten core material – corium – of a reactor in case of a meltdown and prevent it from escaping the containment building. Alexander Sidorov, head of AEP’s integrated design bureau, introduced the design to Turkish workers on the Akkuyu project. The core catcher for the Akkuyu project has features that include greater seismic robustness and easier installation than core catchers installed at other Russia-designed plants, Sidorov said, according to a statement by Rosatom. The “upgraded design” enables the reactor to withstand “greater safe shutdown earthquake loads” and to run without electricity supply for up to 72 hours, he said. It also has a “more efficient cooling system”. The new design will be 15% lighter than the core catcher installed at Novovoronezh nuclear power plant II in Russia. It will also take one month less to install. Rosatom installed its first core catcher at Tianwan nuclear power plant in China and Kudankulam nuclear power plant in India. Leningrad II and Baltic nuclear power plant also have core catchers. The devices are made by the Volgodonsk branch of AEM-Technology. Rosatom signed an agreement in 2011 to build and operate a four-reactor plant in Mersin province on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, with the aim of having the plant fully-operational by the Turkish republic’s 100-year anniversary in 2023. Construction work is currently expected to begin on the first of Akkuyu’s four 1200 MWe Gidropress-designed AES-2006 VVER pressurized water reactors in 2015 or 2016. The first unit is to start operations in 2020....
read more

Tepco, Sellafield agree to share experience

30 September 2014 A formal cooperation agreement has been signed between Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) and the UK’s Sellafield Ltd. In May, Sellafield Ltd and Tepco Fukushima Daiichi Decommissioning Engineering Company (FDEC) – Tepco’s subsidiary set up to carry out the clean-up of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant – agreed to cooperate in decommissioning. They signed a cooperation statement setting out the objectives and significance of a cooperation agreement. Since then, the two companies have worked together to further build on this relationship, with exchanges of information and visits between the two sites. A formal agreement to enable the transfer of knowledge and experience between Tepco and Sellafield Ltd was signed yesterday. The four main areas set for information exchange are site management; environmental monitoring; radiation protection; and, project delivery and design engineering. Tepco FDEC head Naohiro Masuda said, “I believe this will contribute significantly to safely and successful decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station.” He added, “We have a lot to learn from Sellafield, which has decades of valuable experience in the management of decommissioning. We believe we also have much to contribute to Sellafield from our experience over the past three and a half years at Fukushima Daiichi.” The signing of the agreement was also welcomed by Sellafield Ltd managing director Tony Price. “It is very important that we are able to share the great work being carried out at Sellafield by our own staff and the wide range of businesses that are integral to the progress we are making,” he said. “It is also very important that we have the opportunity to learn new skills, techniques and methods that are being developed by Tepco during their work at Fukushima.”...
read more

Loan guarantee solicitation for advanced nuclear

30 September 2014 The US Department of Energy (DoE) has announced a significant step to help meet America’s future low-carbon goals with the release by its Loan Programs Office (LPO) of a draft $12.6 billion loan guarantee solicitation for advanced nuclear energy projects. “If you want to fight climate change, nuclear power has to play a role. This solicitation can help build new nuclear power plants with enhanced safety features and zero emissions. That’s a win for the climate, our energy mix, and American innovation,” LPO executive director Peter Davidson said. “The nuclear industry used to be one-size fits all – but no more. We designed our new solicitation around the activity we’re seeing in the marketplace. That includes traditional reactors, SMRs, and innovative uprates that can increase output at existing facilities,” he said. In February, Davidson and US energy secretary Ernest Moniz travelled to Georgia to announce $6.5 billion in loan guarantees to support the first new nuclear power plant to begin construction in nearly three decades. The project at the Vogtle nuclear power plant involves construction of two new reactors that will produce enough clean electricity to power nearly 1.5 million average American homes. At the same time, this project will help fight climate change by avoiding the emission of about 10 million tonnes per year of carbon dioxide. While the Vogtle project represents an important advance in nuclear technology, other innovative nuclear projects may be unable to obtain full commercial financing due to the perceived risks associated with technology that has never been deployed at commercial scale in the US, Davidson said. The loan guarantees from this draft solicitation would support advanced nuclear energy technologies that will “catalyze the deployment of future projects that replicate or extend a technological innovation”. In support of that goal, DoE has identified four key technology areas of interest – advanced nuclear reactors; small modular reactors; uprates and upgrades at existing facilities; and advanced nuclear facilities for the front-end of the nuclear fuel cycle. “We hope this solicitation will help to accelerate the commercial deployment of advanced nuclear energy technologies the way that previous solicitations have helped to accelerate advanced technologies like utility-scale solar photovoltaics, solar thermal energy storage, and electric vehicles,” Davidson said. “We’ve already started by helping to finance the Vogtle project and we look forward to continuing through this solicitation.”...
read more

Paris talks: a climate for action?

30 September 2014 COP 21 will need to prove that the international community has not failed on climate change, writes Jonathan Cobb. In 2009, world leaders met in Copenhagen – along with 40,000 civil servants, NGOs and journalists – in what was described as a vital conference in progressing beyond the Kyoto Protocol in the fight against climate change. The leaders agreed to make pledges that were far less effective than they needed to be, while most of the NGOs found themselves locked out due to overcrowding. Coupled with the controversy over the Climategate emails, these failings produced the perfect storm to seed growing scepticism over climate change. Since then, the annual UNFCCC COP/MOP meetings have continued each year with far less fanfare and little obvious progress. And despite the global financial crisis that took people’s minds off the long-term threat of climate change and refocused them on the more pressing economic trials, global emissions of greenhouse gases have continued to rise. When Ban Ki-Moon called for a climate summit in New York earlier this month it was the first time in nearly five years that heads of state had met to discuss climate change in depth. The meeting was intended to kick off a process that will culminate in Paris at the end of next year at COP 21 with a climate change accord for 2020 and beyond. There are many challenges ahead before any agreement is reached. The world has changed since the UNFCCC first came into effect. China, India and others have emerged to become economic powerhouses, with greenhouse gas emissions to match. Emissions per capita in China are now higher than for Europe. Any new global agreement will need to include China, now the country with the highest greenhouse gas emissions, and the United States, which has the second highest emissions, and never joined the Kyoto Protocol. Speeches in New York by US President Barack Obama or China’s Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli signalled good intensions, but no radical shift in established positions. So what hope is there for a meaningful new deal in Paris next year? It is hard not to be pessimistic. The early years of the COP meetings were exciting. The public negotiations may have moved at a glacial pace, but behind the scenes governments seemed focussed on reaching agreement. Moreover, there appeared to be real synergy with the presence of business and environmental groups making a meaningful contribution....
read more