July 01, 2011

Germany will use more coal, gas and energy imports instead of nuclear power

1. Germany is set to turn back to coal, gas and imports to fill the energy chasm left by its fast-track exit of nuclear power.

Germany produced 140.6 terawatt hours (TWh) of nuclear power in 2010.

Germany produced 102 TWh from renewable energy in 2010, and they are targeted to add 115 TWh by 2020. Even 9 years from now Germany will still not have replaced all nuclear power with renewables.

2. KATCO, a joint venture (JV) between French nuclear group Areva and Kazakhstan’s Kazatomprom, plans to raise its annual uranium production to 4,000 tons in 2012. The venture will complete a planned expansion next year which will allow it to ramp up production. KATCO intends to increase its uranium output to 3,500 tons this year from 3,354 tons in 2010.

3. Pilot production started on 26 June at Ukraine's Novokonstantinovskoye uranium deposit.

Plans are for production this year of around 100 tonnes of uranium with this increasing towards 1050 tonnes per year. By 2015 Ukrainian leaders want to be self-sufficient in uranium supply for the 15 nuclear power reactors that supply about half of electricity.

4. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has confirmed plans to invest €1 billion ($1.4 billion) in future nuclear programs including fourth generation reactor research.

The majority of the French funding earmarked for future nuclear projects, nearly €652 million ($933 million) is to be spent on the Astrid fourth-generation sodium-cooled fast reactor program. Final decisions on construction of a 600 MWe Astrid prototype are expected to be made in 2017.

The second major beneficiary is the Jules Horowitz research reactor, which is receiving €250 million ($358 million). This reactor, which is under construction in Cadarache in southern France, will be able to contribute "significantly" to world production of the medically important radioisotope molybdenum-99, according to the French government.

Astrid is envisaged as a 250 to 600 MWe prototype of a commercial series which is likely to be deployed from about 2050. It will have high fuel burnup, including minor actinides in the fuel elements, and use an intermediate sodium loop, though whether the tertiary coolant is water/steam or gas is an open question. Four independent heat exchanger loops are likely, and it will be designed to reduce the probability and consequences of severe accidents to an extent that is not now done with FNRs.

Astrid is called a "self-generating" fast reactor rather than a breeder in order to demonstrate low net plutonium production. Astrid is designed to meet the stringent criteria of the Generation IV International Forum in terms of safety, economy and proliferation resistance. CEA plans to build it at Marcoule.

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