atw 2018-09v3


atw Vol. 63 (2018) | Issue 8/9 ı August/September

Nuclear Energy: The Dead Live Longer or

the Summer of 2018

Dear Reader, Although nuclear energy offers both comprehensive technical potential with further development

prospects for use in power generation and attractive economic conditions, both for existing plants and for new plants –

assuming a reliable regulatory and political environment – there was no visible impetus for this for a long time.

Nuclear energy has also been or is facing serious market

challenges. There are two reasons why it cannot exploit its

economic advantages: On the one hand, there are hardly

any free electricity markets left; regulated markets with

subsidy systems, some of which are excessive and barely

manageable, prevent any market development towards

­efficient systems as a whole. On the other hand, plants

with long depreciation periods, as is the case with nuclear

energy at around 20 years, are not very attractive.

Remarkable developments in spring/summer 2018 set

clear signals for future impulses, especially with their

technical accents:

1. At the end of April 2018, the Akademik Lomonosov was

launched in St. Petersburg, Russia. The lighter is

equipped with two KLT-40S type nuclear reactors,

which have been successfully used in icebreakers for

many decades. Each reactor can supply up to 35 MW of

electricity and 200 GJ/h of district heating, sufficient to

supply around 100,000 people in polar regions. After

the launch, the lighter was towed through the Baltic

and North Sea to Murmansk, where it is loaded with

nuclear fuel. Next year, the Akademik Lomonosov will

be towed to the Chukchi region in eastern Russia to its

final location.

2. On 6 June 2018, the Taishan 1 nuclear power plant unit

in the province of Guangdong in southern China

achieved first criticality. This is the first active EPR type

plant in the world and thus the second Generation III+

reactor type to go into operation after the Russian

VVER-1200 in Novovoronezh, which went into operation

in 2016. With a gross nominal output of 1750 MW, it is

the world's most powerful type of nuclear power plant.

Construction of the plant began in 2009. 2 blocks of the

same type have been under construction in Europe

since 2005 (Olkiluoto 3, Finland) and 2007 ( Flamanville

3, France). Originally, EPR reactors were developed

for a Western European expansion program and are

supplied by Framatome. A second unit is currently being

commissioned at the Taishan site in China. French

President Emmanuel Macron and Indian President

Narenda Modi signed a contract in March 2018 to build

six EPRs in India.

3. On 21 June 2018, the Sanmen 1 nuclear power plant

unit in the Chinese province of Zhejiang achieved first

criticality. This is the first AP1000 plant worldwide

and thus the third Generation III+ reactor type in

operation. Construction of the plant began in 2009 and

on 8 August 2018 the identical Haiyang 1 block in the

Chinese province of Shandong also achieved first

criticality. A further block is under construction at each

of the two sites. The AP1000 with a gross output of

around 1250 MW is a development of Westinghouse. In

the USA, four units are under construction at the Vogtle

and Summer sites; construction of the two Summer

units was suspended in August 2017, partly because the

Westinghouse Electric Company, as the manufacturer,

had to initiate Chapter 11 insolvency procedure.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Brookfield Business Partners

has taken over the nuclear technology company. Among

others, the Indian government is confident of signing a

contract for the construction of 6 AP1000s in India in

the near future.

These start-ups not only mark the fact that, despite all the

challenges and the associated delays, new technical

ground can be successfully broken in nuclear technology.

EPR, AP1000 or VVER-1200 can now provide impetus for

the marketing of nuclear energy in the new markets

available - even if these markets are not necessarily located

in Europe at present.

Oh yes, Europe ... two sentences about the Old World:

1. Nuclear energy, and thus the reactors at the Belgian

sites of Tihange and Doel, which are almost prayer- milllike

in some media, have so far this year covered around

60 % of the country's electricity requirements. In April

2018, the current Belgian government had confirmed

an “energy pact” for the country's nuclear power plants,

which intends for the plants to be decommissioned

between 2022 and 2025. This is about the seventh exit

announcement by a Belgian government.

2. The UK government is promoting the development

and construction of small modular reactors (SMR). A

£ 200 million investment programme as part of the

country's long-term industrial strategy is to accelerate

the construction of a pilot plant at Trawsfynydd in

northern Wales.

So it is not only exciting with regard to the future of nuclear

energy worldwide, there are now also future prospects for

expansion worldwide with currently 454 commercial units

in operation, as many as never before.

Christopher Weßelmann

– Editor in Chief –




Nuclear Energy: The Dead Live Longer or the Summer of 2018

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