IBERDROLA and GE Hitachi join forces in a project to reuse UK nuclear waste
The two companies, together with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) which advises on the decommissioning plans for current and planned nuclear power stations and is in charge of waste management, will analyse the options for GEH’s PRISM technology which can reuse the plutonium stockpile to generate electricity.
IBERDROLA will bring its expertise and excellence as a nuclear power operator in Spain and provider of nuclear engineering services as well as the experience of more than ten years developing nuclear power projects.
In January 2014, the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) noted that, on the information provided, PRISM’s fourth generation nuclear power technology was considered a credible option for managing the UK’s plutonium stockpile.
PRISM is a proven, safe and mature technology which provides a safe, innovative and clean solution to harness the remaining energy potential of used nuclear fuel, in the form of plutonium, to generate electricity free of CO2 emissions whilst creating significant investment in UK jobs and skills.
First estimates by GEH indicate that PRISM technology, with a life span of at least 60 years, could recycle the UK’s entire plutonium stockpile -which amounts to over 100 tonnes- in 25 years.
GEH, the global nuclear alliance between GE and Hitachi is one of the world’s key suppliers of nuclear technology and services. For several decades, GEH has been partnering with IBERDROLA in the development and deployment of nuclear projects.
IBERDROLA operates 3,403 MW nuclear capacity through its participation in seven nuclear power plants in Spain (Cofrentes, Almaraz –units I and II–, Trillo, Garoña, Vandellós II and Ascó II). The company also has proven expertise in the UK where its subsidiary ScottishPower is one of the Big Six energy companies.
In addition to IBERDROLA’s experience in the nuclear industry, the Group’s engineering and project management subsidiary, IBERDROLA INGENIERÍA, is well established in this sector. It is currently participating in the construction of unit 3 at Flamanville nuclear power plant, in France, and has recently completed the upgrade of Laguna Verde nuclear power plant in Mexico. It also participates in the consortium that manufactures coils for the international nuclear fusion research and engineering project (ITER) which is currently building the world’s largest fusion reactor.
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UK starts ABWR design assessment
The generic design assessment (GDA) for Hitachi-GE’s Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) has officially begun with the signature of agreements by the company and UK nuclear regulators.
ONR and the Environment Agency will now begin formal preparatory work with Hitachi-GE on the timescales and resources needed for the assessment. Under the terms of the newly signed agreements, Hitachi-GE will assume all the costs for the design assessment.
Horizon chief operating officer Alan Raymant and Hitachi Europe general manager for licensing Ken Sato welcomed the agreements, which Raymant said would enable the companies to begin “meaningful” preparations for their first major submissions to the regulators, to be made later this year.
The GDA process allows regulators to assess the safety, security and environmental implications of new reactor designs, separately from applications to build them at specific sites. The UK’s first GDA process began in 2007, when four designs – Areva and EDF’s EPR, Westinghouse’s AP1000, GE-Hitachi’s ESBWR and AECL’s ACR-1000 – were submitted for initial consideration. The ESBWR and ACR-1000 were subsequently withdrawn or suspended from the process at the request of the vendors.
The EPR became the first reactor design to complete the UK GDA process and receive a Design Acceptance Confirmation and Statement of Design Acceptability in December 2012. The regulators have currently suspended work on the AP1000 GDA at Westinghouse’s request, as the company wishes to secure a UK customer before working to address issues raised in the assessment process.
The ABWR is a so-called Generation III reactor design, and is offered in slightly different versions by GE Hitachi, Hitachi-GE and Toshiba. Four ABWR units are already in operation in Japan, and the design is also licensed in the USA and in Taiwan, where two are under construction.
Horizon, which was acquired by Hitachi of Japan in November 2012, plans to build between four and six ABWRs in the UK at its sites at Wylfa and Oldbury. The units would be the first commercial boiling water reactors in the country.
Source: World Nuclear News
New chief for WANO
Ken Ellis will take over as managing director of the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) in April. He comes from a background of operations at Bruce Power in Canada.
Ellis will replace George Felgate, formally taking control on 1 April to be based at WANO’s London office. He said his top priorities are the organisation’s long-term plan and its post-Fukushima work.
Ellis served Bruce Power as executive vice president of strategic support and formerly as chief nuclear officer. His career spans 31 years of nuclear operations, maintenance and engineering.
Outgoing managing director George Felgate plans to retire. He took up the role in 2009 after 27 years at the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) during which he rose to become vice president of plant operations. He oversaw WANO’s recent restructuring, set up an Executive Leadership Team and expanded and relocated the London office.
WANO was established in 1989 as a forum for the exchange of safety knowledge and operating experience among all nuclear operators worldwide. The move was a reaction to the 1986 accident at Chernobyl and WANO was modelled on INPO, which was itself the US industry’s response to the 1978 accident at Three Mile Island.
An office in London hosts WANO’s central secretariat, while its work programs are executed by regional WANO centres in Atlanta, Paris, Moscow and Tokyo as well as by a smaller office in Hong Kong focused on pre-startup reviews.
Source: World Nuclear News
Magnox decommissioning milestones
Several milestones have been reached in the decommissioning of the UK’s fleet of Magnox nuclear power plants, including the completion of defuelling at Chapelcross and the removal of a transformer from the Oldbury site.
The last shipment of used fuel leaves Chapelcross (Image: Magnox)
The final shipment of used fuel from the UK’s Chapelcross nuclear power plant has been sent for reprocessing at Sellafield, marking the end of a four-year operation to remove all fuel from the site.
Chapelcross in Scotland was one of the world’s earliest nuclear power plants, with four 49 MWe Magnox units operating from 1959 and 1960 until 2004. Magnox Ltd, which manages the Chapelcross site on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, received approval from the Office of Nuclear Regulation in July 2008 to start defueling the Chapelcross site.
The first shipment of fuel to Sellafield left Chapelcross in April 2009. Magnox announced that the final flask containing used fuel from Chapelcross left the site on 26 February. This landmark was reached four months ahead of the original target to remove all the used fuel from the site by June 2013 and six weeks ahead of a challenge later set by the NDA to complete fuel removal by March.
Magnox Ltd has also completed a ten-year project to remove over 2100 tonnes of asbestos from the Hinkley Point A site in Somerset. The turbine hall alone contained almost 400 tonnes of asbestos.
Magnox described the asbestos as “the largest non-radiological hazard on the site.”
Site director Lee Talbot said, “It’s been a huge task to methodically clear the site of this historic hazard but we are extremely pleased to have reached a safe conclusion to this milestone project.”
In total 38,075 fuel elements have been transported from Chapelcross to Sellafield in 257 flask shipments over the past four years. This, Magnox said, has removed 99% of the radioactivity from the site. It noted that following verification work over the next few months, the Chapelcross site will be declared completely free of nuclear fuel for the first time in more than 50 years.
NDA chief operating officer Mark Lesinski commented, “This is a huge achievement for Chapelcross and for the decommissioning and clean-up program in the UK.”
Although all the fuel has only just been removed from the site, various decommissioning work has already been conducted at Chapelcross since the plant stopped operating. This includes the demolition of the plant’s cooling towers in May 2007.
Once verified as being clear of fuel, Chapelcross will move to a “new post-defuelling structure,” scheduled to begin in September 2013, as work continues to prepare the site for entering into interim care and maintenance in 2017. Final site clearance is expected by 2095.
Meanwhile, Magnox reported that the generator transformer has been removed from the site of the Oldbury nuclear power plant in Gloucestershire.
The transformer – measuring over four metres high, four metres wide and nine metes long – weighs over 170 tonnes. It contains more than 30 tonnes of copper and some 120 tonnes of steel.
It has been transferred to Sharpness Docks on a specialist low-loader truck where it will be sent for recycling. Income from recycling the scrap metal will help pay for the UK nuclear decommissioning program.
Built in the 1960s and among the first generation of UK reactors, both of the Magnox reactors at Oldbury were originally scheduled to shut down at the end of 2008. However, the NDA requested permission from the regulator to operate beyond that date, earning revenue to help pay for decommissioning. Unit 2 was eventually shut down in June 2011, while unit 1 shut down in February 2012.
Source: World Nuclear News
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Benchmarking the global nuclear industry 2012
Ernst and Young conducted a study based on a series of 50 interviews in 13 countries. Vendor companies, utilities, manufacturers of nuclear and conventional island equipment, national regulatory authorities and international agencies as well as scientific experts were amongst the interviewees.
To summarise, the report identifies challenges and the bargaining position of countries within the nuclear industry in the wake of the Japan Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident. One outcome that has been of paramount importance to all is nuclear safety.
Decisions, changes and choices were to be made; Germany announced it would shut down all nuclear power plants by 2022.
However, the big players in the nuclear industry Russia, France, China, United States of America, Canada, Japan and South Korea have seen little disruption in commitment to providing nuclear power since the disaster:
– Russia continues to cover the whole nuclear industry value chain and maintains its leading position in the international market
– France has positioned itself to become the world leader in safety standards for nuclear power plant construction
– China is in a phase of rapid growth and reactor design capability with a view to expand its offering abroad
– USA are building at a slower pace, with key vendors focused on executing a sound commercial strategy that will increase market presence and participation
– Canada is at the same level as before the accident, but domestic orders are slowing
– Japan has analysed the security of its power plants and the standard code of operation. Construction of new units is not a topic for discussion at the moment
– South Korea is seen as the shining star of nuclear. Implementation of little change in technology and attitudes toward nuclear energy have be observed since the Fukushima accident
Emerging nuclear industry contributors South Korea, South Africa, Canada, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and India continue to serve the industry by diversifying activity and reaping the demand for new construction, plant upgrades and decommissioning.
Such countries have much to offer. However, hurdles are also present and the right strategic decisions are needed to ensure they gain credibility within the nuclear market.
Challenges, ambitions, costs, politics and technology are some of the topics discussed. All of which are apparent in each country and providing drivers for success or failure.
This is especially the case for countries that are beginning their journey and challenging the top players by showcasing their complete lifecycle solutions.
The study conducted also identifies the way in which each country distinguishes itself and remains competitive in the nuclear arena. Due to growth in the economy the Middle East and Asia may seek to adopt a broader approach to nuclear activity and mature nuclear countries will need to direct efforts into maintenance, upgrades and decommissioning.
The key theme that comes out of the Ernst & Young report is evolution. Opportunities within the nuclear market are visible; each country despite its size is cleverly marking their territory. Competition in the nuclear industry remains tough. Suppliers and clients have to change their tactics, adapt to changes in the economy, and prioritise the need for safety and perceptions of the nuclear industry.