There have been a number of significant and/or interesting developments in the nuclear energy field recently, with large light-water reactor business taking the fore. Here are some highlights:
•Nuclear in Bangladesh. Rooppur NPP, which is to consist eventually of two AES-2006 units (loosely referred to as VVER-1200, which describes power output and not plant design) began its official construction on November 30 with a significant ceremony that featured the Bangladeshi Prime Minister. The project, undertaken by Atomstroyexport and assisted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is expected to come on line in 2023 and 2024.
•Nuclear in Egypt. Less than two weeks after the start of construction in Bangladesh, Rosatom of Russia made news again through the signing of a deal to build a four unit, 4800 MWe nuclear plant at El Dabaa. Although Egypt has been announcing and cancelling a nuclear plant there for decades, the new project – funded mostly by Russia – looks set to actually go this time. The first of these new units, similar to those being built for Bangladesh, will start up sometime in 2026, according to Rosatom.
•Final result may be near for V. C. Summer expansion: With the owners of the project still continuing to state their intention to fully abandon the project by year’s end in order to take advantage of significant tax credits (which they say will help their ratepayers) a small glimmer of hope emerged as it was reported last week that SCE&G had proposed handing the COL (Construction and Operating License) for the project to (state-owned but ‘for sale’) utility Santee Cooper. SCANA expects to have either a decision or surrender of the COL to the NRC by Friday, December 15.
•Final result may be near for Plant Vogtle Expansion: The Georgia PSC (Public Service Commission) will make its decision on whether or not to allow continuing the Vogtle expansion on December 21, according to a statement by PSC Chairman Stan Wise. While the PSC staff has issued a report essentially saying that completing Vogtle is no longer the best choice economically, PSC member Tim Echols noted on his public Twitter account in response that the final decision is that of the Commissioners, not the staff.
•UK-ABWR Certified. The UK Office of Nuclear Regulation today (December 14) announced that the Hitachi-GE UK-ABWR, a modification of the design already built and operated in Japan for years (most notably at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa) had received its approval for construction. This approval means that the Horizon project, to build two units at Wylfa Newydd and two more at Oldbury, has cleared perhaps its most difficult regulatory hurdle.
•Korea to UK as well. It was announced in the first week of December that KEPCO, the national South Korean utility, had been selected as the preferred bidder to take over from Toshiba in the Moorside nuclear project in the UK. This project has been planned for AP1000 units, a type already certified for construction in the UK, but it is difficult to imagine KEPCO or its subsidiaries financing construction of anything other than its own design of nuclear plant – which almost certainly would be the APR1400 that could just about replace the three AP1000 units on a two-for-three basis because of the higher output (1400 MWe x 2 versus 1000 MWe / 1100 MWe x 3).
While there are other things going on in many places, it’s the above developments that seem to have the biggest ramifications – and one of those listed above may shake out as early as tomorrow, December 15 (the V. C. Summer COL issue). Watch the ANS Twitter feed for news at @ans_org.
Will Davis is a member of the Board of Directors for the N/S Savannah Association, Inc. He is a consultant to the Global America Business Institute, a contributing author for Fuel Cycle Week, and he writes his own popular blog Atomic Power Review. Davis is also a consultant and writer for the American Nuclear Society, and serves on the ANS Communications Committee and the Book Publishing Committee. He is a former U.S. Navy reactor operator and served on SSBN-641, USS Simon Bolivar. His popular Twitter account is @atomicnews.