News Brief: Nuclear Power Developments in Argentina

Dan Yurman’s recent article for the Energy Collective sheds new light on Argentina’s recent nuclear power developments. Yurman higlights deals for three new nuclear reactors and the the country’s new R&D program focused on the development of a 25 MWe SMR based on a PWR design.

Key facts of the three new reactors include:

  • China’s CNNC is financing two of the new reactors for a total of deal worth $13 billion USD.
  • Russia’s Rosatom is partnering for the third reactor, financing $6 billion USD.
  • Despite these financing deals, Argentina will need to seek further financing, likely from international markets
  • The Chinese reactors are a 800 MW PHWR Candu type reactor scheduled for 2016, and later a new CNNC 1100 MW Hualong One reactor. Rosatom’s reactor is a 1200 MW VVER design.

Yurman also highlights the developmend of a 25 MWe SMR by CNEA (the National Atomic Energy Commission) that is positioned “to be used to supply energy for areas with small populations or, potentially, for supplying power to desalination plants in costal areas.

Nuclear Energy in Argentina

According to World Nuclear Association’s country profile, Argentina currently has three nuclear reactors generating about one-tenth of its electricity. In 2007, per capita energy consumption was over 2600 kWh/yr. In 2012, gross electicity production included 73 TWh from gas, 30 TWh from hydroelectric, 20 TWh from oil, 3 TWh from coal, and 6.4 TWh from nuclear.

Argentina’s electicity production is largely privatised, and is regulated from ENRE (Ente Nacional Regulador de la Electricidad). Yurman, in his article on Argentina’s future nuclear energy plans, describes the three existing reactors:

the profile of installed units includes three PWHR Candu type reactors the oldest of which was built in 1974 (Atucha 1). Atucha 2, a 700 MW PHWR entered revenue service in 2014, and a third unit Embalse, a 600 MW Candu 6, was completed in 1983.

The deals with China and Russia enable a rapid shift in Argentina’s energy mix, with an increasing focus on cutting carbon emmissions. However, questions remain as to whether Argentina can afford major new nuclear infrastructure. As an April 2015 op-ed by Jason Marczak in the World Politics Review noted, Argentina is often an afterthought for investors looking to invest internationally, due to political instabilitity and the fallout from the sovereign debt default in the early 2000s.

However, with presidential elections later this year, there is renewed optimism in Argentina and, perhaps, a chance that international investors will begin to reconsider their skepticism. Renewed investment will make help to catapult the recent Chinese and Russian deals, and the local SMR development, from the early stages of today towards a brighter future.

Breakthrough deal for Candu and China Nuclear to build two reactors in Romania

Candu Energy and China Nuclear Power Engineering Company Sign Cooperation Agreement for Two CANDU Reactors in Romania

MISSISSAUGA, ONJuly 24, 2014 /CNW/ – Candu Energy Inc., an SNC-Lavalin company, today signed a binding and exclusive cooperation agreement with China Nuclear Power Engineering Company, Ltd. (CNPEC) for the construction of CANDU Units 3 and 4 at the Cernavoda Nuclear Power Plant in Romania.  Signed in Vancouver, the agreement was witnessed by senior representatives of China’s National Energy Administration and Natural Resources Canada.

Romania already has two operating CANDU 6 nuclear reactors, which came into service in 1996 and 2007. Combined, they are the largest power producer in the country, accounting for about 20 per cent of Romania’s energy supply. This agreement follows a letter of intent signed by CNPEC’s parent company China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) and Romanian utility Societatea Nationala Nuclearelectrica (SNN) in November 2013 for investment in and development of two additional nuclear units at the Cernavoda site.

“Candu Energy looks forward to working with CNPEC to meet Romania’s growing nuclear energy requirements.  This is an exciting opportunity to build on CANDU technology’s international track record for the highest levels of safety, reliability and efficiency,” said Preston Swafford, Candu Energy President and CEO.  “Today’s agreement deepens our strong ties with both the Romanian and Chinese nuclear industries, as CANDU reactors have operated in both countries for more than a decade.”

CANDU nuclear technology has an established presence in China, with two 700 megawatt CANDU reactors at Qinshan Phase III, located southwest of Shanghai. Completed in 2003, the Qinshan units are among the best performing nuclear units in China with lifetime capacity factors of over 91 per cent.

“This project stands to make a meaningful contribution to Canada’s economy and support highly-skilled jobs here at home.  It demonstrates the tremendous export value of Canadian nuclear expertise,” added Mr. Swafford.

Candu Energy is pursuing other international new build opportunities in the United Kingdom and China, among other markets.

About Candu Energy Inc.

Candu Energy Inc. is a leading full-service nuclear technology company providing nuclear power reactors and nuclear products and services to customers worldwide. Candu Energy’s 1,200 highly skilled employees design and deliver state-of-the-art CANDU® reactors, carry out life extension projects, and offer operations, maintenance and plant life management services for existing nuclear power stations.

CANDU reactors use natural uranium fuel, heavy-water moderator and heavy-water coolant in a pressure tube design. They can be refuelled on power and have one of the highest lifetime capacity factors among the world’s reactors. CANDU reactors are ideal for small and medium electric grids; the newest designs are equipped with a number of safety enhancements to meet the latest Canadian and international standards, including post-Fukushima enhancements. They benefit from the CANDU 6 experience of proven design, construction and operation.

Westinghouse has inside track on sale of 8 reactors ($24 billion) in China

On Mon Apr 21, 2014 Reuters reported:
* Westinghouse in talks to sell eight AP1000 Reactors
* Nuclear plants, with machinery and services, may cost $24 billion
* Liaoning’s Xudapu and Guangdong’s Lufeng part of discussion
* Sanmen 1 to connect to grid in 2015

“China may sign as early as next year the first of several contracts for eight new nuclear reactors from Westinghouse Electric Co, as the government presses ahead with the world’s biggest civilian nuclear power expansion since the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan.”

“China’s main nuclear power companies are moving forward with talks to buy the third-generation Westinghouse AP1000 reactors, said Timothy Collier, China managing director of the U.S.-based company. The eight projects, including machinery and services, are expected to cost $24 billion.”

“We are currently in various stages of negotiations for eight new units,” Collier told Reuters. Westinghouse is majority owned by Japan’s Toshiba Corp and its reactors are the blueprint for China’s own nuclear technology.”

“China currently has 20 nuclear power reactors online, with another 28 under construction, as it seeks to reduce its reliance on costly and polluting fossil fuels to generate electricity. Sun Qin, chairman of major nuclear plant operator China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) recently told Reuters another 20 nuclear reactors may be built within the next six years.”

“China has vowed to more than double the installed nuclear generation capacity to 58 gigawatts (GW) by the end of the decade. Nuclear installed capacity currently stands at 15.69 GW, according to the latest official data.”

“China’s nuclear expansion is attracting many equipment suppliers, including French power firms Alstom SA and Areva.”

“Candu Energy Inc., a subsidiary of SNC-Lavalin Group , is also working with CNNC to start converting two Candu 6 reactors at Qinshan in Zhejiang province, to burn reprocessed uranium fuel.”

“There’s a huge potential for Canada and Candu energy,” Ontario’s Minister of Research and Innovation Reza Moridi told Reuters during a visit to Beijing last week.  The Reuters article further quoted Moridi, “If China is going to build 100 reactors in the next 20 years, they require 25 Candu reactors to burn the spent fuel coming from the light-water reactors.”

Candu has been criticized in China for not having built any new reactors domestically in Canada in recent years. The Chinese apparently have a hard time understanding that in Canada with a relatively stable population of about 30 million there just isn’t the demand to build new reactors at the rate required in China. As population size and density grows and GHG effects and air quality become greater concerns new nuclear becomes a more attractive option because of the great inherent density of nuclear energy and virtually no GHG emissions.

Kudos to Minister Moridi for making the trip to China to support Candu’s marketing effort. Ontario has created hundreds of jobs by encouraging renewable energy through the Green Energy Act. In comparison, Ontario’s nuclear industry employs more than 20,000. In light of the recent announcement between OPG and Westinghouse to market nuclear services globally, Minister Moridi may have been well served to be cheering on the Westinghouse sales efforts as well.