Nuclear News Digest Other issues  
November 2011 - December 2011


1. According to the New Policies Scenario put forth by the International Energy Agency's 2011 World Energy Outlook, total nuclear power output is expected to increase by more than 70% until 2035, as compared to its current level, with China, Korea and India leading the way. As the possibility of a decline in nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima incident cannot be overlooked, the IEA has also envisaged in its report a low nuclear scenario, under which the contribution of nuclear power to the global energy supply would decrease by 50% in the same period, from 13% in 2010 to around 7% in 2035.


2. The European Commission has released its Energy 2050 Roadmap, a set of measures necessary to meet its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. In its communication on the roadmap, the Commission states that nuclear power will remain an important part of Europe's power generation mix, but in the wake of Fukushima, “safety costs and the costs for decommissioning existing plants and disposing of waste are likely to increase”.


3. The European stress tests of NPPs are well on track and will further enhance nuclear safety and security in the EU, the Commission says in its very first Communication on the stress tests, published on 24 November. Results of the tests will be known next year, once they are finalised.


4. On 16 December, the Japanese Prime Minister announced that the cold shutdown of the Fukushima NPPs had been achieved. In addition, the "Mid-and-long-Term Roadmap towards the Decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Units 1-4" was approved officially. TEPCO plans to begin removal of the spent fuel rods within two years, with a view to finalizing the decommissioning of the damaged reactors in 30 to 40 years.

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5. The European Commission has proposed to provide further EU assistance of € 500 million to support the decommissioning in Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovakia. These funds will contribute to the continuation of safe decommissioning of the nuclear power plants Kozloduy, Ignalina and Bohunice. This new financial assistance should support the efforts of the three Member States who are ultimately responsible for nuclear safety, including the financing of decommissioning.


6. For the third year in a row, Kazakhstan is expected to be the world's largest uranium producer, staying ahead of Canada and Australia. According to Kazatomprom, the production in the first nine months of 2011 reached 13,957 tU, with an estimated output of 19,278 tU by the end of 2011. In 2010, the country extracted 17,803 tU.


7. The world's biggest nuclear company, Areva, released on 13 December its "Action 2016" strategic plan. The strategy aims to return the group to profitability by 2016, reversing a trend of increasing indebtedness and operating losses. Following Germany's decision to shut down all of its reactors, Areva foresees up to 1,500 job cuts in that country. Nonetheless, the company continues to believe in the future of nuclear power.


8. South Korea is set on becoming a major player in the nuclear world, both in terms of domestic use and technology exports. Recently, the country announced its Nu-Tech 2030 plan: become by that date one of the world's top three nuclear reactors exporters and cover 20% of the new nuclear technology needs. The South Korea’s government also intends to increase the share of nuclear power in the country's energy mix, from the current level of ca. 33% to 59% of domestic electricity production.


9. Mexico has cancelled plans to build up to ten new reactors by 2028. Currently the country operates a two-unit NPP, Laguna Verde, which provides about 5% of the nation's electricity.


10. Finnish Talvivaara has been authorized to sell its uranium production to Cameco under the terms of an off take agreement. The approval granted by the Euratom Supply Agency, following authorization from the European Commission, is the first step in the uranium permitting process and it also includes provisions that guarantee the security of uranium supply in the EU.


11. Despite Poland's decision not to participate, Visaginas NPP project will proceed on schedule, a spokeswoman for project company VAE said December 20. The Lithuanian parliament is set to make a final decision on the contract with Hitachi-GE, which signed a preliminary deal with the Lithuanian government on December 16, in the spring.

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12. Polish utility PGE plans to decide in 2013 the final site for Poland's first NPP. The three sites currently being considered are all on the Baltic coast.


13. On December 21, Finnish utility TVO announced that the AREVA-Siemens consortium had informed it that regular operation at the EPR under construction at the Olkiluoto NPP should begin in August 2014, and not in 2013 as previously expected.


14. Czech firm ALTA and Russia’s TVEL signed a JV agreement for nuclear cooperation, including the creation of a nuclear technology center to promote the exchange of nuclear technology between Russia and the Czech Republic.


15. A MoU has been signed between Westinghouse Electric Co. and the Czech company Vitkovice a.s., in preparation for the potential construction of Westinghouse AP1000 reactor in the Czech Republic.

ESA Nuclear Observatory
Luxembourg, 19 January 2012

 

September 2011 - October 2011


1. On September 13, the IAEA approved a post-Fukushima action plan calling for voluntary peer safety reviews. Structured around 12 main points, the action plan foresees national self-assessments of the safety of the world’s 441 nuclear reactors, as well as an increase in voluntary peer reviews worldwide.

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2. According to the conclusions of the 36th WNA Annual Symposium, held on September 15-16, the Fukushima accident has affected the nuclear industry, but it is still too early to assess its full impact on the world nuclear fuel market. Nevertheless, the industry is confident about the role of nuclear energy in the future.


3. The IAEA recently released its annual projections for nuclear power growth, for the period until 2030. In all the three scenarios put forward, the use of nuclear energy would increase, but at a lower rate than foreseen in last year's projections.


4. In Spain, Asco NPP's units 1 and 2 received ten-year life extensions each, until 2021. Operational since 1983 and 1985, respectively, the two reactor's lifetime could be further extended, due to a law approved in February by the Parliament, allowing reactors to operate for more than 40 years.


5. In Hungary, a new long-term energy strategy was approved on October 3. The strategy foresees an energy mix, and involves building some extra 2,000 MW at Paks NPP by 2030, as well as extending the lifetimes of the existing units, set to expire in 2012-2017. The strategy calls for enhanced cooperation among Central and Eastern European countries, introducing the concept of "cross-ownership" of NPPs.


6. According to the three different scenarios being envisioned in the first draft of the 50-year energy plan published by the Czech Ministry of Energy and Trade, by 2060, the nuclear energy should generate between 60% and 80% of the country's electricity. Currently it generates about 33% of the Czech Republic's electricity.


7. The U.S. production of uranium in the third quarter of 2011 was 846,624 lb U3O8, down 29% from the previous quarter and down 26% from the third quarter of 2010, US EIA reported. This output was produced from five in-situ leach plants and one conventional uranium mill.

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8. According to a statement released by India's Department of Atomic Energy, all of the country’s NPPs successfully underwent the stress tests and can operate safely.


9. In October, the Finnish consortium Fennovoima announced that it finally decided to build its planned NPP in the northern town of Pyhaejoki. The company will select a reactor supplier in 2012 or 2013 in order to begin the construction of the plant in 2015. At the same time, the Finnish utility TVO stated that there could be further delays in the operation of its Olkiluoto 3 unit.


10. On October 27, EDF Energy stated that a final investment decision on the construction of new reactors in the UK will be taken by the end of 2011, until what moment no definitive schedule will be released. Construction was initially expected to start in 2013.


11. Siemens's CEO, Peter Loescher, stated that the German company intends to withdraw from nuclear, as a result of the attitude adopted by Germany in this regard at society and political level. On the other hand, Siemens is committed to contributing to the building of a science and research centre for nuclear technologies in Skolkovo, as the Vice-President of the Skolkovo Fund said.


 

July 2011 - August 2011

1. Our latest Annual Report has been released in the first days of July and states that global uranium production increased by 6% to ca. 53 660 tonnes uranium, whereas total enrichment capacity remained unchanged. Deliveries under long-term contracts to EU utilities accounted for 95.9 % of total deliveries. The long-term average price was €61.68/kgU (or US$ 31.45/lb U3O8, up 11%), whereas the average spot price was €79.48/kgU (or US$ 39.83/lb U3O8 up 2%) and MAC-3 (with AM) was € 78.12/kgU (up 23%).


2. On 19 July the European Council has adopted a directive on management of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste which requires Member States to set national waste management programmes and submit them for scrutiny and potential requests for amendment by the Commission. The directive also requires periodic international peer reviews of member countries’ waste programs.


3. The IAEA drafted an action plan in August which proposes 10 measures for enhancing IAEA’s role in monitoring the safety of NPPs, by implementing safety reviews more often and lead peer reviews of a random 10% sample of the 440 global operating nuclear units.

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4. In a recent report, the OECD NEA found that smaller and medium-sized reactors (SMRs, 50-700 MW) could have a significant potential to expand the peaceful applications of nuclear power, by serving remote or isolated areas that cannot accommodate large power plants and by providing heat and desalinated water. SMRs could penetrate niche markets where large ones face restrictions.


5. On 14 July, Spain’s high administrative court upheld a 2009 government decision on Garona BWR. The oldest reactor in Spain must shut down permanently in 2013 although the Nuclear Safety Council evaluated it was safe to operate until 2019.


6. After RWE and E.On, German utility EnBW intends to sue the federal government over the uranium fuel tax it instituted last year. EnBW considers with this tax it may loss hundreds of millions of euro annually which could be used to implement renewable energy plans.


7. TEPCO reported that during July and August conditions improved at the Fukushima site as water decontamination and recycling systems are now operational. Both the Japanese government and TEPCO are now confident that a cold shutdown could be achieved by January 2012.


8. Lithuania has selected GE-Hitachi for the building its new NPP that may be the largest energy infrastructure project in the Baltic region for 20 years.


9. Before any uranium mine being operational in Western Australia, the province's government announced in July it will introduce a royalty of 5% on uranium and magnetite iron ore.


10. Concerns expressed by industry lead the Namibian government to maintain the current mining tax rate at 37.5% and to propose a formula-based surcharge to achieve extra revenues in periods of sustained economic growth.


11. EDF Energy has announced that construction of Hinkley Point C, the first NPP to be built in the UK for more than 20 years, is on track as the company submitted applications for a site license and an environmental permit. The utility plans to build two EPRs at the Hinkley Point C site, the first to be operational by 2018.

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12. TENEX reported in July completion of its first delivery of EUP to the USA under the amended Russian Suspension Agreement and Domenici Amendment legislation. The Russian producer has concluded 12 similar contracts with ten US utilities, for deliveries from 2008-2020.


13. Uranium production in the USA for the first half of this year (2,252,130 pounds) has increased by 17% compared to the same period of 2010. According to the US Energy Information Administration, this output was produced from five in-situ leach plants and one conventional uranium mill.


14. In August a MoU has been signed by Westinghouse and Czech company I&C Energo which aims at cooperation in the preparation for the possible use of AP-1000 reactors at the Temelin site.


May 2011 - June 2011


1. During 2010 world gross nuclear electricity generation increased by 3.4% to 2.7 billion MWh, compared with 2009. The bulk of this was due to an 4,208 MW incremental reactor capacity stemming from six new units built in India, Russia, China, South Korea and Japan, and from reactor uprates of 437 MW.


2. The IAEA Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety on June 20 was convened in response to the Fukushima accident. Director-General Amano has asked Member States to give prior consent for IAEA-led peer reviews of reactor safety and nuclear regulatory systems.


3. According to financial analysts, the forecasted global uranium demand for the period 2011-20 decreased by some 48,000 tU after Fukushima, and the bulk of this reduction is due to changed forecasts for Japan and China. Nonetheless, analysts are still projecting insufficient supply, to fall short by 19,000 tU for 2011-20.

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4. Prime Minister Kan suggested to fully reconsider the Japanese energy policy. Two additional pillars have to be taken into consideration more seriously than in the past, i.e. renewables and energy efficiency.


5. By the end of May, the German government announced its decision concerning an irrevocable phase-out of nuclear energy in the country. The necessary laws for this gradual phase-out, to be achieved by 2022, should be finalised in July 2011.


6. Poland has approved a bill that would allow for the construction of nuclear plants in the country which hopes to build two 3,000 MW power plants, with the first coming online possibly in 2020.


7. Italian voters, in a referendum held on 12-13 June, rejected a recent law that could have allowed construction of nuclear power plants in the country.


8. The Czech government may approve the extension of lifetime for the Rozna uranium mine, with an annual production of ca. 200 tU and has identified eight other potential locations for mining.


9. The Swiss parliament approved in June a proposal to gradually phase-out nuclear power, to be achieved by 2034.


10. In order to secure its long-term security of energy supplies, Hungary will take decisions in September whether to build additional reactors at the Paks NPP and extend lifetimes for the four existing units.


11. Rosatom intends to build nuclear power plants with a new reactor, with shorter lead time and reduced construction costs by 20%. VVER TOI is the final output of an innovative project for a pressurised water reactor, to be finalised by 2013.


12. The plan to build a new unit at Bohunice (Slovakia) is now delayed for five years and thus may not be finished before 2025.

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13. Abdul G. Malibari, coordinator for the Saudi civilian nuclear agency, recently confirmed Saudi Arabia's plans to build 16 commercial reactors at an estimated cost of US$80 billion, before 2030.


14. AREVA Chief Executive Officer Anne Lauvergeon will be succeeded by Luc Oursel who is currently chief operating officer and plans to put into action the plan to improve the company’s performance and build its competitiveness and development.


15. According to the UK Energy Minister, some 25% of the country's generating capacity should be replaced by 2020 with secure, low carbon, affordable energy. Recently the government confirmed a list of eight sites deemed suitable for the construction of next generation NPPs by 2025.


March 2011- April 2011


1. The nuclear accident in Japan had a major impact on uses of nuclear energy. Spot price for uranium fell sharply after news broke about the severity of conditions at Fukushima and several sellers immediately entered the market. In Europe, the German government decided to apply a moratorium of three months for a recent law to extend lifetimes of reactors.


2. European energy leaders agreed to apply stress tests on all the 143 commercial reactors operating in the EU member states, to be carried out by independent national authorities and through peer reviews. Failing those tests could mean a shutdown for concerned plants.


3. The moratorium approved by the Italian government, on its proposed nuclear program, was extended indefinitely. Italy wishes to revise its energy policy to focus on traditional and renewable sources, due to safety concerns in light of the nuclear crisis in Japan.

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4. The UK government has commissioned a study of the full implications of the crisis in Japan. Prime Minister David Cameron said to the Parliament that, while the lessons learned from Japan will need to be applied, nuclear power should be part of the mix in the future as it is part of the mix right now.


5. CEZ does not plan any shutdowns and assesses to being able to comply with the future EU safety tests. They also plan to build five new nuclear reactors to come online in the first years of the second decade, an investment worth of $25 billion.


6. 55% of the respondents to a recent poll commissioned by Electricité de France declared to be opposed to halt the use of nuclear power, planned by Green party.


7. Poland remains committed to adding nuclear to its energy portfolio despite recent events. Safety will be the most important factor in government plans concerning any future nuclear stations. A tender for the supply of reactors for the first Polish NPP is scheduled for later this year.


8. Although decisions on sites for three new NPPs in Switzerland were due to be made within a year, the process of approvals has been suspended so as to review their safety systems.


9. Russia intends to draw conclusions of the Japanese events but is not planning to halt or scale down its nuclear programme.


10. An integrated resources plan was approved by South Africa for the next 20 years, adding ca 9,600 megawatts of nuclear capacity which will then account for 23% of new electric generating capacity.


11. China delays its ambitious nuclear power expansion program and halts approvals following the Fukushima accident.


12. India reacted to events in Japan by making its nuclear regulator, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), truly separate from its Department of Atomic Energy. It will undertake an immediate technical review of all safety systems of NPPs.

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13. Brazil intends to build four 1,000-MW nuclear units at two sites, to come online between 2020 and 2028, and plans to increase enrichment and conversion capacity. Industrias Nucleares do Brazil had begun operation of a third centrifuge cascade at its Resende facility.


14. With an output of 9,311 tonnes uranium, Areva was the world’s first producer company for the second year in a row, and it also began production of enriched uranium by centrifuge technology at its George Besse II facility.


15. A new contract was signed by USEC with TENEX for ten-year supply of low enriched uranium (LEU). Supplies may start in 2013 and in 2015 should reach half the level currently supplied by TENEX to USEC under the HEU Agreement (ca. 5.5 million SWU/year).


16. China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) started trial production at the Azelik mine in Niger. This is its first overseas uranium mine and could produce ca. 700 tU (1.8 million pounds U3O8) annually at full capacity.


 

January 2011 - February 2011

1. After rising consistently for eight months, the spot uranium price reached its highest level of $62.00 per pound U3O8 by the end of year 2010 and then it fell back in February. Analysts said this was mainly due to Chinese nuclear power expansion plans and their respective signed new contracts.


2. The European Council supported the elaboration of a low-carbon strategy for 2050 which provides the framework for longer term action in energy and other related sectors. The Council recalled that the EU goal agreed upon in October 2009 of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% by 2050 from 1990 emissions would require a revolution in energy systems, and called on member countries to promote low-carbon energy technologies.


3. In his State of the Union address, President Obama called for new federal investments in energy technology research and development, setting the target at 80% of electricity to be produced by clean sources (including nuclear) by 2035.

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4. China pursues the construction of new reactors at a high pace as the state-controlled CNNC announced that it got approval to add two more units to Tianwan NPP and to build a new plant in Liaoning Province.


5. The world’s largest uranium producer, Kazatomprom, forecasts 10% incremental production for year 2011. This means an estimated output of 19,600 tU, up from 17,803 tU in 2010.


6. Romania needs to look for new investors despite the European Commission recently issued a favourable opinion on Romania’s Cernavoda 3 & 4 project. The construction may be delayed past the 2017 deadline after RWE, Iberdrola and GDF-Suez withdrew from the project, following the departure of CEZ.


7. German opposition plans to file lawsuits in the Federal Constitutional Court against the laws passed by the Bundestag in October, on extension of the existing nuclear reactors' operational life.


8. After a decision by the Netherlands' Supreme Court which ruled that the Borssele NPP cannot be majority-owned by a foreign-listed company, the government stated it would approve an application for new nuclear build at the existing Borssele plant.


9. Permissions have been granted in Spain for Almaraz 1 & 2 units to up-rate capacity by 70 MWe to 1,050 MWe, despite previous opposition to nuclear power.


10. In January Australia rejected an Indian government plea to reverse its ban on the sale of uranium to India.


11. In order to support plans for Poland’s first nuclear reactors, a package of legislation on nuclear power has been adopted by the government in January. Thre package is to be debated by the Parliament in June.


12. A tender for expanding the Paks nuclear station by some 2,000 MWe, is to be launched by Hungary in early 2012, followed by the evaluation of bids in the first half of 2013.


13. Urenco stated that its enrichment capacity expansion across German, Dutch and US sites progressed well in 2010, with a total of 800 tonnes of separative work units added by year-end. Their total capacity reached at 13,000 tSWU.


14. The Nuclear Policy Council of France revealed a restructuration plan for the French nuclear industry. An strategic partnership agreement is to be signed by AREVA and EDF with the objective to improve the EPR design, develop new products for the nuclear fuel cycle, cooperate on efforts for management of spent nuclear fuel and to enhance operation & maintenance of existing French reactors.

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* This information and the price indices are made available for information purposes only, and ESA can take no legal responsibility for the use made of them.