Tag Archives: westinghouse

One Player, Many Pawns: the thirst for nuclear technology

The Hanhikivi plant in Finland will use Russian nuclear technology. model of the plant from wikipedia

The nuclear power industry, which had been in the doldrums since the 1980s, suffered a devastating blow in 2011 when a tsunami engulfed the Fukushima power plant in Japan, ultimately causing a meltdown. The amount of electricity generated by nuclear power worldwide plunged 11% in two years, and has not recovered since. Within this declining industry, one country now dominates the market for design and export of nuclear plants: Russia.

Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear-power company,  is focused on what some call the “great grand middle”: countries that are close allies of neither the United States nor Russia. In April Russia started building Turkey’s first nuclear plant, worth $20bn. Its first reactor is due for completion in 2023. Rosatom says it has 33 new plants on its order book, worth some $130bn. A dozen are under construction, including in Bangladesh, India and Hungary…. Once completed the plants offer an obvious diplomatic lever in the form of sway over a large portion of a country’s electricty generation… The relationship betweeen exporter and customer is particularly close in a nuclear plant’s early years, when local employees are still being trained and the exporting country is direclty involved in the plant’s operation….

Russia’s nuclear programme has endured for two main reasons. Its designs are cheap, and Rosatom enjoys the backing of the state, which helps it absorb hard-to-insure risks like nuclear meltdowns. Its competitors trail hopelessly: France’s Areva (now Orano) has started building only two plants in the past ten years, in Finland and China; both are delayed and over budget. KEPCO, South Korea’s energy company, is facing a domestic backlash against nuclear power, while Westinghouse, in America, is only now emerging from bankruptcy.

Russia’s only real competitor is China..Yet although China will surely catch up, for now Russia has no serious rivals in the export of nuclear technology. In a world that needs to generate much more electricity from nuclear power if it is to take decarbonisation seriously, that is a sobering though

Excerpts from  Atoms for Peace: Russia and Nuclear Power, Economist, Aug. 4, 2018, at 43

The New Nuclear Reactors: nuclear renaissance galore

Westinghouse Electric Company received notification from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that it is issuing its Final Safety Evaluation Report on the AP1000 pressurized water reactor (PWR) design…  “We’re in the home stretch to receive final approval of the amended AP1000 design,” said Aris Candris, president and CEO of Westinghouse Electric Company. “It’s been a long and highly transparent process that has included much public participation, as well as additional scrutiny of the design by the NRC staff and others. We’re happy that the NRC technical staff has approved the amended design and confident that the NRC Commissioners will do the same so construction of AP1000 units can begin here in the U.S.”

This is the second time through the Design Certification process for the AP1000 PWR design. The NRC officially granted Design Certification to the AP1000 in 2006. Since then, the AP1000 design has been modified to meet new and additional NRC requirements, including those that require the design to withstand the impact of an aircraft crash on its shield building. The shield building, a steel reinforced concrete structure that’s approximately 3-foot thick, protects the steel containment vessel that houses the reactor vessel. Both the shield building and the containment vessel play significant roles in the passive safety systems of the AP1000 design, which allow it to safely shutdown with no, or minimal operator action and no AC power.

Utilities in Georgia, South Carolina and Florida have chosen the AP1000 design in their combined construction and operating license (COL) applications to construct six AP1000 units. Once each utility is granted a COL by the NRC, each new plant will create approximately 2,000 to 3,000 onsite jobs and hundreds of support jobs during construction. The positive impact on America’s manufacturing and construction industries will be significant, with materials and labor expected to be provided from more than 20 states. New or expanded American manufacturing centers geared to support these projects have opened recently in Louisiana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, New Hampshire and Minnesota.

Excerpt, NRC Issues Final Safety Evaluation Report for AP1000, PRNewswire, Aug. 9, 2011