Europe

French Government Will Help Fund Hinkley Point C Nuclear Project
The French government said it would fund EDF so that the utility can proceed with the £18 billion ($25.6 billion) project at Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in the U.K.

Economics Minister Emmanuel Macron said in The Guardian that additional investment will be finalized in May. Macron also said the government will recapitalize EDF if necessary, and that not building the dual-unit, 3.2-GW plant would be a “mistake.” EDF CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy told employees the company would not continue with the project unless it received additional government aid.

The project has been backed by the French and British governments, and China General Nuclear Corp. agreed to buy a one-third stake in the project. However, many oppose it. EDF Chief Financial Officer Thomas Piquemal resigned after saying the project would jeopardize the company and should be delayed while finances are bolstered. The U.K. government agreed to pay double the market price of each unit of electricity on top of loan guarantees. EDF also has to set aside £38 billion ($55 billion) to upgrade its existing French nuclear reactors.

The proposed Moorside Nuclear Power Plant at Sellafield, West Cumbria, with 3.4GW net output capacity, will be the UK's biggest nuclear power station, delivering enough low-carbon electricity to power approximately six million homes.

The power project, which will account for approximately 7% of the UK's future electricity requirements, will be developed by NuGeneration (NuGen), a joint venture between Toshiba (60%) and GDF SUEZ (40%), at an estimated cost of £10bn ($17bn). This represents the biggest ever private investment in West Cumbria.

It will consist of three similar-capacity Westinghouse reactors, which are scheduled for commissioning between 2024 and 2026.

The nuclear power project is expected to create up to 21,000 jobs during its construction and operation.

Moorside NPP location and reactor details

The power station will be built on land to the north and west of the current Sellafield nuclear site in West Cumbria. It will consist of three Westinghouse AP1000 pressurised water reactors (PWR) of 1,154MWe nameplate capacity each.

"The Moorside nuclear power station will consist of three similar-capacity Westinghouse reactors, which are scheduled for commissioning between 2024 and 2026."
AP1000 is the only Generation III+ reactor to receive design certification from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The planned assessment of the reactor design by the UK regulators was completed in 2011, followed by interim design acceptance confirmation (iDAC) and an interim statement of design acceptability (iSODA) for the reactor.
The AP1000 reactors come with passive safety systems and render a simplified and low-cost plant design while minimising the construction period of a reactor to 36 months, starting from first concrete pour to fuel loading. The Moorside reactors will be fuelled by Westinghouse UK's fuel fabrication facility in Preston.
Moorside nuclear power project development details

NuGen secured the option to purchase 200ha land for the site from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) in October 2009. The UK Government, through its National Policy Statement (NPS), confirmed the suitability of the site for the development of a nuclear power generation facility in June 2011.
Toshiba bought a 50% stake in NuGen from the previous partner Iberdrola, a Spanish power firm, and a 10% stake from GDF SUEZ, in June 2014.
"NuGen aims to secure a nuclear site licence in 2018, while the final investment decision is expected by the end of the same year."
NuGen is now preparing detailed plans for the site, which will be submitted for consideration by the relevant planning authorities by the end of 2015.
The site assessment for the nuclear power project, to be carried out in 2014 and 2015, will include geophysical surveys, geological age dating and some borehole drilling work. The first public consultation is expected in 2015.
NuGen aims to secure a nuclear site licence in 2018, while the final investment decision is expected by the end of the same year.

When it became operational in 1962, Windscale's Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor (WAGR) was the prototype of a family of new nuclear reactors. Years after WAGR was first built, the unit has reached the end of its useful life and the reactor and its associated structures are to be dismantled and stored safely. This is one of the reactors built in the 1950s and 1960s which require safe decommissioning. There are an estimated 250 plants that will require decommissioning by 2010.


As the European demonstration project for nuclear reactor decommissioning in the UK, Project WAGR aims to show that a full-size reactor can be dismantled safely and cost effectively, with minimum risk to the environment.


It is one of four separate reactor decommissioning projects in progress linked through the EU Nuclear Fission Programme, which includes:

  1. WAGR in the UK
  2. Mol in Belgium
  3. Gundremmingen in Germany
  4. Lubmin in Germany

The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Administration (UKAEA) oversees decommissioning and facilities as the site licence holders, while BNFL Magnox Generation is responsible for the separate contracts, including the dismantling of the reactor core and waste issues, including the placing and managing of contracts. Decommissioning is also taking place at three Magnox Electric sites, at the Safestore site at Berkeley in Gloucestershire, Trawsfynydd in North Wales and Hunterston 'A' in Ayrshire.


DECOMMISSIONING


Since its shutdown in 1981, a large amount of work has been completed at the site. For each piece of equipment, specific tools and methods must be devised and used. This includes:

  1. Removal of the fuel
  2. Dismantling of the reactor vessel to hot gas manifold level
  3. Construction of an intermediate level waste store on site
  4. Installation of the remote dismantling machine (RDM)
  5. Installation of the grout and concrete plant and the waste route

REMOVAL OF THE HEAT EXCHANGERS


A major job in the decommissioning process took place towards the end of 1995: the removal of the heat exchanges. Prior to removal, the heat exchangers had been lifted from their original positions, and holes had been cut in the outer containment sphere. Other preparatory work included the protection of kerbs and grass verges along the route, many covered with hardcore, compacted and plated and some signposts and lamp standards were also removed and later replaced.


Using one of the largest cranes in Europe, and another crane in a tandem lift, each heat exchanger was lifted clear of the reactor hall onto a special road transporter. Each heat exchanger was taken through the Cumbrian countryside, and through a number of villages to Drigg, which is the site of the low level waste disposal facility.


ACTIVE COMMISSIONING


Active commissioning started in November 1999, and marked the time when all parts of the system, including the remote dismantling, waste management and control systems were brought into active operation together for the first time.


"Since its 1981 shutdown, a large amount of work has been completed at the site."


Active commissioning represents the completion of the first two full boxes of waste, which have now been filled, transferred through the waste route, grouted and concreted into the waste boxes and stored.


The programme then moved into full operational phase to remove the remainder of the operational waste, with more than half removed by mid-2000.


Prior to this, a phase of non-active commissioning was undertaken to ensure the safe and smooth running of all equipment and systems to be used in the process.

The Brunsbüttel Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) is located on the west coast of the Dithmarschen area of Schleswig-Holstein on the banks of the Lower Elbe, 3km east of Brunsbüttel. It is the first nuclear power plant in Schleswig-Holstein.


The Brunsbüttel plant is owned by German firms Vattenfall Europe Nuclear Energy (66.7%) and E.ON Kernkraft (33.3%). It is operated by Kernkraftwerk Brunsbüttel GmbH (KKW Brunsbüttel). The plant's gross power production is 806MW and net production is 771MW.


The first controlled nuclear fission at Brunsbüttel NPP was carried out in June 1976 while commercial power generation was started in February 1977. In June 2007, the plant was shut down because of short circuit problems. Some of the technical issues were fixed in 2007 but the plant is still undergoing installation of equipment required for proper safety measures, and will be operational on completion. The expected reopening date has not yet been finalised.


Germany has decided to phase out the existing nuclear power plants in the country under its Nuclear Exit Law. As per the policy, all nuclear reactors in Germany are to be closed by 2021. The German coalition government, however, reviewed the decision and voted in favour of delaying the programme beyond 2021. The decision has paved the way for expansion of the life span of existing nuclear facilities. The Brunsbüttel plant will therefore benefit from being operational for longer.


Brunsbüttel NPP has a workforce of 300 employees at the plant, which includes those providing the plant with equipment and services.


Plant make-up

 

Brunsbüttel NPP is one of two nuclear power plants owned by Vattenfall in Germany.
"Brunsbüttel NPP is one of two nuclear power plants owned by Vattenfall in Germany."


The plant was designed according to the "defence-in-depth" principle to provide multiple layers of protection. The design was aimed at preventing damage and to ensure that the reactor remains under control in case of a malfunction or in the unlikely event of an accident.


The plant structure includes a turbine building 100m long and a reactor building housed adjacent to the turbine building. The reactor pressure vessel containing the reactor core is next to the turbine building.


The plant uses uranium as its fuel, as it guarantees a continuous supply of power, is economical and is environmentally friendly. The plant employs a boiling water reactor for power generation.


The cooling water used in the turbine condenser of the plant is sourced from the River Elbe, which is in the proximity of the plant.


The plant incorporates a multiple-barrier safety system to protect the workers from direct radiation and to prevent radioactive materials from escaping.


In addition, the plant is equipped with an emergency standby system that includes a standby control room. The standby control room is housed in a separate building and powered by two extra diesel generators.


Reactors

 

The powerhouse is equipped with a boiling water reactor (BWR). The BWR is a nuclear reactor that was developed by the Idaho National Laboratory and General Electric during the mid-1950s and is used in electricity generation. The BWR uses demineralised water as a coolant and neutron moderator.


The uranium consumed by the plant to generate electricity is less than other fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas. A ton of uranium generates the energy equivalent of 400,000 barrels of oil. The nuclear fuel emits no combustion products into the environment.
"Out of the total energy produced in Germany, about 26.3% is contributed by nuclear power plants."
The core of the Brunsbüttel NPP reactor includes 532 fuel elements that contain the nuclear fuel uranium. Uranium pellets are fissioned to generate the heat required to boil water. Fission is a process of converting atoms into tiny particles called neutrons. The faster the splitting takes place, higher is the heat generated. Fission takes place within the nuclear reactor vessel.


Heat is produced by nuclear fission in the reactor core and this causes the cooling water to boil, producing steam. The steam is directly used to drive a turbine, after which it is cooled in a condenser and converted back to liquid water.


To safely store the spent fuels the Brunsbüttel plant constructed an on-site interim storage facility.


Germany's power market

 

Out of the total energy produced in Germany, about 26.3% is contributed by nuclear power plants. Nuclear energy contributes the highest percentage to total power generation in Germany.


Brunsbüttel NPP generates 6TWh of electricity per year. The power generated is about 20% of the total power generated in Schleswig-Holstein.


The power generated by the Vattenfall Group can cater the needs of about 50 million households. Apart from the three Germany-based nuclear power plants Brunsbüttel, Krümmel and Brokdorf, Vattenfall operates seven more nuclear reactors at its Forsmark and Ringhals sites in Sweden.

The Hinkley Point C (HPC) nuclear power plant being developed by Electricite de France (EDF) in Somerset is the UK's first new nuclear plant in more than 20 years. It received development consent order from the UK Government in March 2013, with the final investment decision on the £16bn ($27bn) project expected by July 2014.

 

Approximately 3.2GWh of power is expected to be generated, using two generators while offsetting nine million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Power generated will be enough to meet the needs of nearly six million homes.

 

The plant is predicted to produce approximately 26TWh of electricity per year during its operational lifetime of 60 years, which will be equivalent to 7% of Great Britain's forecasted electricity demand in 2020s. The plant's first unit is expected to be operational in 2023. Approximately 25,000 construction and 900 permanent jobs will be created by the project.

 

State aid controversy of Hinkley Point C

 

The Hinkley Point C project had attracted much attention due to the state aid provided by the UK Government in the form of a subsidy of £92.50 (approximately $156) for every megawatt hour (MWh) produced for a period of 35 years. The European Commission is currently conducting an investigation into the agreement and on subsidies the project has been given.

 

Hinkley Point C power plant make-up

 



The UK’s 434MW twin nuclear reactor station entered service in 1967 and was decommissioned in 2012.


The power station site will be spread over 175ha on Somerset's north coast on Bridgwater bay, lying adjacent to the Hinkley Point A and B plants. It will be the first nuclear plant to store the spent nuclear waste on site.

 

Two EPRTM reactors with a power generation capacity of 1.6GWh each will be installed at the facility. Each reactor is designed for an operational life of 60 years. The reactor decommissioning is forecasted to start in the 2080s and estimated to continue for 20 years. Currently, no EPR plant is operational in the world and the first two projects initiated, Olkiluoto in Finland and Flamanville in France, are still under construction.

 

The heat generated from the reactors will be used to produce steam to power the turbines directly connected to a generator. Each generator will be capable of producing 1,630MW of electrical power per reactor.

 

The turbines are based on Alstom ARABELLE steam turbine technology and have a power output ranging between 1,000MW and 1,900MW.

 

Construction of HPC

The nuclear plant construction is expected to take more than ten years. The two reactors are expected to commence operations between 2023 and 2025. Unit 2 is scheduled to be complete in 12 to 18 months after Unit 1 is finished.

 

Decommissioning and waste management

 

Hinkley Point C is the first project in the UK to be included under a Funded Decommissioning Programme, which comprises EDF Group being responsible for the decommissioning and waste management costs associated.

 

Financing of Hinkley Point C power station

 

"Terms include a strike price of £92.50 per MWh of energy produced."

The UK Government and EDF entered into a commercial agreement in October 2013, on the key terms of the proposed investment contract for the nuclear power project. Terms include a strike price of £92.50 per MWh of energy produced, which is fully indexed to the Consumer Price Index.

 

The strike price is expected to come down to £89.50/MWh (approximately $151) with the start of EDF proposed Sizewell C site in Suffolk, which includes the installation of two more EPRTM water pressure reactor units. Proposals are being made to share the EPRTM reactor technology across the two sites, reducing the strike price. The investment contract will be valid for 35 years from the date of commissioning.

 

The project falls under the UK Guarantees scheme and debt funding of 65% of the estimated total cost will be provided under guarantee by the Treasury. However, financing will be subject to due diligence by Infrastructure UK, a unit within the Treasury.

 

Equity finance is being provided by EDF Group, AREVA, China General Nuclear Corporation (CGN) and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC).

 

Contractors involved with HPC

 

Areva was awarded a contract in July 2011 to manufacture heavy forgings for the critical reactor components of the Hinkley Point C project. The contractual scope includes the supply of primary equipment, instrumentation and control system, and two EPRTM Nuclear Steam Supply System (NSSS) units.

 

The civil works contract worth £2bn ($3.3bn) was awarded to the joint venture of Bouygues TP/Laing O'Rourke. Costain was awarded the marine works contract for the nuclear power plant. Alstom will supply of two 1,750MW conventional turbine islands.

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