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.

UAE energy chief states his support for nuclear power, two years after Fukushima disaster

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) energy chief Suhail Al Mazrouei recently stated his support for nuclear power, two years after the Fukushima disaster in Japan. [1] Mr. Al Mazrouei urged other nations to join the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Convention on Nuclear Safety, a set of nuclear policy benchmarks ratified by 76 nations in 1994, with the goal of “harmonizing” civil liability regimes for nuclear damage, allowing energy producers recourse to file claims in the case of an accident while limiting the total financial burden on the operator. [1]

There are many obstacles facing nuclear energy including public concerns about safety, competition from low gas prices in North America, and reduced access to credit to fund expensive reactors.  Some have forecasted that renewable energy sources such as solar and hydro will produce double the amount of electricity generated by nuclear in the coming years. Yet there are 434 nuclear power reactors already in operation, 69 reactors under construction and many more on the drawing board. [1] Despite the ongoing challenges, the development of atomic energy is progressing just fine, says Mr. Al Mazrouei. [1]

“The reality is nuclear is indispensable as part of the global energy mix today,” Hamad Al kaabi, the UAE permanent representative to the IAEA, told The National. [1] The United Arab Emirates will be home to the Arab world’s first civilian reactor in 2017.

Source:

1. Yee, April. UAE Energy chief calls for nuclear consensus. The National, http://www.thenational.ae.