AREVA to Build New EPRs in France, India; Wins Major Uranium Deal

French nuclear giant AREVA has had a spate of good news lately. Last week, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that France would be going ahead with the construction of a second EPR. On Tuesday, the company said it had won a deal of more than €5 billion to enrich uranium from French power giant Électricité de France (EDF), and on Wednesday, it signed a major agreement in India to build two of six planned EPRs in Maharashtra state.

The new EPR facility would be built at Penly, in northern France. EDF and Gaz de France (GDF) will also have a stake in it, President Sarkozy’s office said in statement. Construction of the Penly reactor is scheduled to begin in 2012.

The recent gas crisis that resulted from the dispute between Russia and Ukraine highlighted the need for energy independence. During the crisis, which lasted two weeks, EDF mobilized all available generation in order to meet record levels of power consumption in France.

The EPR is an evolutionary 1,600+ MWe pressurized water. According to AREVA, it is the world’s first Generation III+ reactor.

The new reactor will be the fifth to be built, after Olkiluoto in Finland, Flamanville in France, and Taishan 1 and 2 in China. EDF and E.ON have also opted for EPR technology in the framework of the UK’s nuclear new build program. The EPR certification process is also under way in the U.S., where several utilities have opted to build a total of seven EPRs at proposed nuclear power plants. AREVA, in a partnership with GDF-Suez and Total, is also proposing the EPR in the United Arab Emirates.

Both the Flamanville project in France and the Finnish Olkiluoto project have experienced ballooning costs and delays. The Flamanville EPR, the first reactor of its kind to be built in France, will now cost €4 billion, compared to €3.3 billion estimated for the project in 2005. Likewise, the Olkiluoto EPR, originally budgeted at €3 billion is now expected to cost at least €4.5 billion.

On Wednesday, AREVA inked the first commercial agreement with India’s nuclear monopoly, Nuclear Power Corp. of India Ltd. (NPCIL). Per the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed in Delhi by the two companies in the presence of dignitaries from India and France, AREVA will supply the nation with at least two EPRs Jaitapur in Maharashtra state.

“With the signing of this MoU, it is now possible to have technical co-operation between NPCIL and AREVA to work on the setting up of two to six AREVA-built EPR reactors on NPCIL’s Jaitapur site, including life time fuel supply for these units,” AREVA said in a statement.

The deal comes in the wake of a bilateral agreement signed between India and France on Sept. 30, 2008, for the development of peaceful use of nuclear energy. One of the fastest developing economies, India is racing to add new capacity to meet surging power demand. By 2030, the country’s installed nuclear capacity could grow to 63 GW. NPCIL already has 17 units in operation with a total installed capacity of 4,120 MW, and it is currently building five units worth 2,660 MW.

On Tuesday, AREVA and EDF said they had signed a long-term uranium enrichment contract worth more than €5 billion—the biggest such contract AREVA said it has ever signed. The enrichment will take place at AREVA’s future Georges Besse II facility, a €3 billion centrifugation enrichment plant that has been under construction on the Tricastin site in the south of France since September 2006. AREVA and EDF have had an enrichment partnership since 1979, when AREVA first started supplying EDF with uranium.

Sources: AREVA, POWERnews

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