Westinghouse to Provide Four AP1000 Nuclear Power Plants in China; Buys Pebble Bed Modular Reactor Company
|Cutaway view of the AP1000. Click to enlarge.|
Westinghouse Electric Company LLC and its consortium partner, The Shaw Group, Inc., signed four landmark, multi-billion-dollar contracts to provide four AP1000 nuclear power plants in China.
The contracts are with State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation Ltd. (SNPTC); Sanmen Nuclear Power Company Ltd; Shandong Nuclear Power Company Ltd.; and China National Technical Import & Export Corporation (CNTIC).
This will represent the furst-ever deployment of advanced US nuclear technology in China, according to Westinghouse President and CEO Steve Tritch.
The comprehensive agreements follow by five months the signing of framework agreements that confirmed the basic requirements and obligations of all parties involved. As a result of those earlier agreements, preliminary design, engineering and long-lead procurement work is already underway.
SNPTC announced in December, 2006 that it had selected the Westinghouse consortium and the AP1000 technology. Original bids for the four plants were submitted by Westinghouse and others competing for the project, in February, 2005.
The four plants are to be constructed in pairs at the Sanmen and Haiyang sites. Construction is expected to begin in 2009, with the first plant becoming operational in late 2013. The remaining three plants are expected to come on line in 2014 and 2015.
The AP1000 is a 1,117 to 1,154 MWe pressurized water reactor (PWR) nuclear power plant that is an extension of the older AP600 design. (It is considered a Generation III Advanced Light Water Reactor.) (Earlier post.)
It is modular in design, thereby promoting ready standardization and high construction quality; economical to construct and maintain (less concrete and steel and fewer components and systems mean there is less to install, inspect and maintain); and designed to promote ease of operation (features most advanced instrumentation and control in the industry).
Once the acquisition is complete, likely in August, ISTN will operate under the name Westinghouse Electric South Africa (Pty) Ltd.
The day prior to the announcement of the China contracts, Westinghouse signed an agreement to purchase IST Nuclear (ISTN), a leading provider of services and systems for South Africa’s Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR).
|Pebble bed modular reactor unit.|
The PBMR is a high-temperature, gas-cooled type reactor. Each fuel “pebble” of uranium dioxide is encapsulated by four coating layers of silicon carbide and pyrolitic carbon, providing containment for fission production stable to 1,600°C or more. These reactors use helium as a coolant, which at up to 950°C drives a gas turbine for power generation and a compressor to return gas to the core. Production reactor units will be 165 MWe.
The PBMR is being designed to have a direct-cycle gas turbine generator and thermal efficiency of about 42%. Up to 450,000 fuel pebbles recycle through the reactor continuously (about six times each) until they are expended, giving an average enrichment in the fuel load of 4-5% and average burn-up of 90 GWday/t U (eventual target burn-ups are 200 GWd/t).
Performance includes great flexibility in loads (40-100%), with rapid change in power settings. Power density in the core is about one tenth of that in light water reactor, and if coolant circulation ceases the fuel will survive initial high temperatures while the reactor shuts itself down. Each unit will finally discharge about 19 tonnes/yr of spent pebbles to ventilated on-site storage bins.
Westinghouse has long been a proponent of the PBMR, and this acquisition will allow us to become even more involved as PBMR moves toward commercialization. Equally important, we intend to expand ISTN's scope to include working with Westinghouse in servicing existing light water reactors in South Africa and elsewhere.—Nick Liparulo, Vice President of Engineering Services for Westinghouse
ISTN, formerly part of IST Holdings, was instrumental in the early development of the PBMR, working with the South African utility Eskom and US-based investors, including Westinghouse. Most recently, ISTN supplied the helium test facility for the PBMR. The company is also under contract to design key systems for a PBMR demonstration unit to be built at the Koeberg site by 2011.
Westinghouse also considers South Africa to be a promising market for the AP1000. As a result, ISTN will become an important hub for both the PBMR and PWR businesses.
Today, Westinghouse technology is the basis for approximately one-half of the world’s operating nuclear plants, including 60% of those in the United States.
Westinghouse is now a group company of Toshiba Corporation, and is the world’s pioneering nuclear power company and a leading supplier of nuclear plant products and technologies to utilities throughout the world. Westinghouse, with Shaw, supplied the world’s first PWR in 1957 in Shippingport, Pa.
Separately, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) announced that it plans to triple the size of its nuclear power business over the next 10 years, seeking ¥600 billion (US$5 billion) a year in sales.
MHI estimates that growing worldwide demand for nuclear power will drive growth for the company, and estimates that orders will come in at a stable pace of two reactors a year.
Mitsubishi Heavy won a large order from US nuclear power plant operator TXU in March for its advanced 1.7 million kW pressurized-water reactors. Mitsubishi Heavy also plans to develop 1.1 million kW reactors with French nuclear engineering company Areva, aiming to launch sales in Europe and the US in 2010.
In China, Mitsubishi Heavy plans to exploit the market through a joint venture, seeking to conclude a tie-up with a local firm within a year.
Advanced Nuclear Power Reactors (World Nuclear Association, May 2007)