POWER Digest (March 2014)

South Korea OKs $7B Plan for New Shin Kori Reactors. Only two weeks after South Korea announced plans to cut the share of nuclear in its total future power supply to 29% by 2035 instead of 41% by 2030, the government approved a $7 billion project to complete two 1,400-MW reactors by late 2020 at Shin Kori in the southeast portion of the country. Construction of the two APR-1400 units at Shin Kori 5 and 6 could begin this September and early next year, respectively. A documentation scandal has prompted a series of nuclear reactor shutdowns since late 2012, leaving a country that imports 97% of its energy needs critically power-short.

Though it drastically cut targets for new nuclear power, the country still intends to build at least 16 new domestic reactors, and it is promoting sales overseas. The consortium to build the new nuclear units will be led by state-owned South Korean power company KEPCO and includes Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction Co., Samsung C&T Corp., Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co., and Westinghouse Electric Co., which is owned by Japan’s Toshiba Corp.

Senate Passes Bill to Extend 123 Agreement with South Korea. The U.S. Senate on Jan. 27 passed a bill extending a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement with South Korea by two years until Mar. 19, 2016. Talks to renew the so-called “123 Agreement,” which was set to expire in March 2014, had faltered as Seoul pushed to get Washington’s consent to enrich uranium and reprocess spent fuel. The agreement is pivotal for South Korea’s plans to export 80 domestically designed nuclear reactors by 2030. (For more, see “South Korea Ramps Up Nuclear Exports”: http://bit.ly/1ev2rCo).

U.S. companies can only obtain export licenses for nuclear equipment or materials from countries with which the U.S. has concluded a bilateral agreement for civil nuclear trade. The U.S. has Section 123 agreements in place with 21 countries, the European Union, and the International Atomic Energy Agency, but seven of those agreements, including those with South Korea, Taiwan, and China, are set to expire by 2015.

Alstom to Supply Two Ultrasupercritical Units for Polish Plant. Alstom on Jan. 31 signed contracts worth €1.25 billion with a consortium comprising Polimex, Rafako, and Mostostal Warsawa, for the supply of two 900-MW ultrasupercritical (USC) coal-fired units for a power plant owned by Polish utility Polska Grupa Energetyczna in Opole, south-western Poland. Alstom’s scope includes the provision of its proprietary USC technology, including the supply of USC boiler islands; the steam turbine generator islands, including the turbine hall equipment; the air quality control systems; as well as some balance-of-plant systems. Alstom previously retrofitted Units 2, 3, and 4 at Opole. The new units are expected to become commercially operational between 2018 and 2019.

Japan Approves TEPCO’s Revival Plan. Japan’s government on Jan. 15 approved a plan to revive and restructure the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), owner of the tsunami-devastated Fukushima Daiichi power plant. Under the plan, TEPCO will receive another¥4 trillion ($38.8 billion) in state funding. It also allows for progressive privatization of the government’s 50.1% stake in the company starting in the mid-2020s. The Japanese government acquired the majority share in the company in 2012 to help it avoid bankruptcy.

In January, TEPCO said it hopes to restart all seven reactors at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant by 2017. None of Japan’s 48 reactors are currently operating since Ohi 3 and 4 were taken offline in September 2013 for scheduled maintenance and inspections. The operators of at least 16 reactors have applied to Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority for a safety assessment to verify compliance with post-Fukushima safety standards and move toward restart.

Decommissioning of the Fukushima facility, meanwhile, is expected to cost around $20 billion and take 40 years to complete. TEPCO plans to build a coal-fired power plant in the prefecture as well as a number of research and development facilities.

MHI Gets First U.S. Order for J-Series Gas Turbine. Marking its first U.S. order for a J-Series gas turbine, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) on Jan. 29 was selected to supply an M501J gas turbine for the Chouteau power station, which is owned by Oklahoma state-owned utility Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA). The 495-MW gas turbine combined cycle plant to be built at the facility in Chouteau east of Tulsa is scheduled to become operational in March 2017. Along with an M501J gas turbine, plant components that MHI will supply to GRDA include an SRT-50 steam turbine and a generator. The gas turbine will be manufactured at Savannah Machinery Works in Savannah, Ga., which is MHI’s manufacturing base in the U.S.

Including the GRDA order, MHI has secured orders for 28 J-Series gas turbine units. Developed in 2009 by MHI, nine J-Series gas turbines are in operation worldwide.

DONG Energy Divests 25% Stake in London Array. Denmark’s DONG Energy on Jan. 31 inked a $1 billion deal to sell half of its 50% share in the 630-MW London Array 1 offshore wind farm in the UK to Canadian institutional fund manager La Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec. La Caisse will now hold a 25% stake along with DONG Energy (25%), E.ON (30%), and Masdar (20%) in the 175-turbine project, currently the world’s largest offshore wind farm.

India Clears Key Power Projects for Timely Approvals. India’s Cabinet Committee on Investment cleared three hydropower projects in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim whose development had been stalled by environmental concerns. At the same meeting, the central government body that was established only a year ago to identify key infrastructure projects and prescribe time limits for the issuance of approvals and clearances by government ministries cleared Reliance Power’s 4-GW Jharkhand coal-fired Ultra Mega Power Project. The hydropower projects are Tawang (800 MW), Tato (700 MW), and Teesta (520 MW).

Vattenfall Contemplates Building New Nuclear Units in Sweden. Swedish utility Vattenfall in mid-January began a 10-year consultation process for possible new nuclear reactors at its four-unit Ringhals nuclear station in Sweden. A decision to build the new reactors based on the consultation with government agencies, local residents, and other stakeholders is not expected until at least 2020. The company, which owns seven nuclear reactors that started commercial operation between 1975 and 1985, submitted an application to the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority for permission to build and operate one or two new nuclear reactors in August 2012. ■

Sonal Patel is a POWER associate editor (@sonalcpatel, @POWERmagazine).