Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Nuke News

Nuclear industry: costs and delays cast a gloom on chance of “new nuclear’

thumbs-downIn Europe and the U.S. cost overruns and delays raise questions about the market for a new generation of safer nuclear reactors Scientific American, May 20, 2014 
More than a decade ago a contract was signed to build the world’s first third-generation European pressurized reactor (EPR) in Finland. The cutting-edge, 1,600-megawatt nuclear power plant, Olkiluoto 3, which its French maker Areva boasted as the most advanced safety design of the time, is still under construction today.

There have been various setbacks as well as endless finger-pointing between Areva and the Finnish utility TVO, which are locked in court battle over expanding costs. Now the reactor might not be completed until at least 2017, if at all, with a price tag of $11 billion, more than double its original estimate.
The Olkiluoto 3 situation is not unique. Another Areva EPR in Flamanville, France, is also behind schedule and over budget. A recent government deal for two new EPRs in the U.K. has also come under fire.
The prospects for a nuclear power revival are no better in the U.S. Although the technology has never been cheap, cost overruns and delays are plaguing the handful of next-generation pressurized water reactors currently being built, the first since Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.
Even before that event, a study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that the cost of new nuclear plants, globally, doubled from 2002 to 2009. The third-generation reactors have safety features that should prevent a meltdown similar to Fukushima’s but political controversy, along with the high price tag means that new nuclear complexes in the U.S. and Europe could be in the single digits instead of dozens originally planned less than a decade ago……….
Costs and delays are also rising for the AP1000 being built by Georgia Power, in part because the units must meet more stringent safety requirements that regulators have introduced in the wake of September 11, 2001, attacks and the Fukushima meltdown. ……
Although the AP1000 is an intrinsically simpler design than the EPR, they both have also faced cost overruns because they are first-of-their-kind deployments.
A report by Citi Research found that the Vogtle project is about six months behind schedule and will cost at least $1 billion above original projections. “We’re learning how to do this as efficiently as we can,” says Benjamin, who admits there has been a learning curve. Finalizing the design for construction, which has been approved by American and Chinese regulators, has taken longer than anticipated. So has securing delivery on certain components, such as reactor coolant pumps, because they are being produced for the first time.
“We take these lessons as we learn them,” says Benjamin, “and make sure these issues get [resolved] so we don’t face them again.”