October 31, 2013

US Watts Bar 2 reactor on schedule for Dec 2015 and Pakistan and Jordan each getting two more nuclear reactors which is part of a nuclear energy trend for Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Latin America

1. Work to complete Watts Bar 2 remains on course and on budget with commercial operation likely to start in December 2015, according to the latest update on the project issued by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

The fifth quarterly update on the project to complete the 1165 MWe pressurised water reactor covers the period from May to July 2013. In addition to schedule and cost, it found that safety and quality control targets were also being met, and that no new risks that might compromise the project's completion had been identified. The unit is expected to enter service between September 2015 and June 2016 - although December 2015 has been identified as the "most likely" commercial operation date. Fuel loading is expected to take place in June 2015.

Bulk construction is in the final phase, according to TVA senior vice president for Watts Bar operations and construction Mike Skaggs who said that the plant is "approximately 80%" complete.



Work on Watts Bar 2 was suspended in 1985 when the unit was about 55% completed, 12 years after construction began. TVA decided in 2007 to resume the project, initially estimating a cost of $2.5 billion and a completion date of 2012. TVA revised both the cost and the completion date in April 2012, with the cost now estimated at $4-4.5 billion.

2. Pakistan is acquiring two large nuclear power reactors from longtime ally China, officials said, under a $9.1 billion deal that has raised concern in Washington that Beijing is overstepping international rules on transferring nuclear technology.

3. Russia will construct, and possibly operate, the plant (with two nuclear reactors) which will provide 12 percent (2000 megawatts) of the kingdom’s energy needs, and is due for completion in 2020.

ASE will finance 49 percent of the project and Jordan will pay for 51 percent and take a controlling share.

ASE used the same business model to finance a plant in Turkey, where it is building a 4.8 gigawatt facility worth $20 billion.

Jordan has few natural resources and imports nearly 98 percent of its energy and electricity. It has been experiencing a severe energy crisis. Price hikes have brought massive protests to the streets and also triggered several, sometimes life threatening, blackouts.

The cost of buying diesel and fuel from abroad has risen above $5 billion over the last two years or approximately 15 percent of Jordan’s gross domestic product. Previously Jordan imported cheap gas from Egypt, which is no longer a viable option due to repetitive attacks on the pipeline.

Under a $2 billion IMF loan Jordan has been advised to cut subsidies on electricity, but has been given slight leeway as the recent arrival of Syrian refugees has further strained the country’s energy crisis.

By 2030, Jordan hopes to source 30 percent of its energy from nuclear facilities, a goal set out in 2007 when Jordan first set up a nuclear energy strategy committee.

The Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Latin America are all looking to expand their energy sectors, as consumption grows at nearly 7 percent per year, Ilya Platonov, CEO of Nuclear.ru, told Vedomosti.

Nuclear energy will be a cheaper alternative to thermal energy or gas, but is risky.

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