Georgia Power sets IHP on Vogtle Unit 3; Darlington Unit 2 reconnects

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(Source: FORATOM)

The Integrated Head Package (IHP), an integral component for a reactor’s monitoring and control, has been set into place on the reactor vessel at Georgia Power’s Vogtle Unit 3, marking a major milestone for the reactor, Georgia Power said.

The IHP, which is around 16 meters tall and weighs around 215,000 kilos, will be used to monitor and control the nuclear reaction within the plant’s Unit 3. Vogtle Unit 3 and 4 are the U.S.’s first new nuclear units in over 30 years. 

“This milestone brings the unit another step closer to loading nuclear fuel inside the reactor,” the company said in a statement.

Also, 12 of the 16 shield building courses of panels for the Unit 4 containment vessel have been placed, Georgia Power said. The shield building provides an additional layer of safety around the containment vessel and reactor to protect the structure from impacts. 

When completed, Plant Vogtle’s four units will be the largest carbon-free electricity generator in the United States. Vogtle 3 is set to begin work by November 2021 and Vogtle 4 by November 2022. 

Refurbished Darlington Unit 2 reconnected to Ontario grid

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has successfully completed the refurbishment of Darlington Nuclear Generating Station’s Unit 2 reactor and reconnected it to Ontario’s power grid at 100% power, OPG said in a statement on June 4. 

“I want to thank our refurbishment team, project partners, vendors and construction building trades workers for more than 24 million hours worked safely and for returning Darlington’s Unit 2 reactor to the grid at a time of unprecedented circumstances,” said Ken Hartwick, OPG’s President and CEO.

The four-unit refurbishment project began with Unit 2 in 2016 after nearly a decade of planning and preparation with the integrated teams undertakings more than 765,000 training hours in the project’s mock-up and training facility. 

The 10-year refurbishment project of all four units at the plant will extend its life to 2055 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2026. Refurbishment of Unit 1 is expected to begin in 2022 and completed by mid-2025, Unit 4 is scheduled to begin in the third quarter of 2023 and completed by the end of 2024. 

Refurbishment of Unit 3, originally scheduled to begin in May of this year, was postponed to allow the unit to continue delivering power to the grid throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the company said. 

Czech Fiscal Council warns of Dukovany unit cost overrun

The cost of building a new unit at the Dukovany nuclear power plant could affect the long-term sustainability of the Czech public finances and may be more expensive than initially budgeted for, the Czech Fiscal Council warned in its quarterly report in early June. 

The Czech state will contribute around 70% of the 6 billion euros that it is expected to cost the majority state-owned power company CEZ to build the new unit, the Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said at the end of May. CEZ will provide the remaining 30%. 

“It is obvious that such an amount would have to be secured by the state in the capital markets and thus the share of public debt to GDP would increase,” the council said. 

Construction of nuclear power plants worldwide over the last few years shows that budgeted amounts are generally significantly exceeded, it added. 

“In the end, the fiscal costs of completing a nuclear power plant may be significantly higher than current estimates. Decisions of similar importance should therefore, in the NRR's view, be taken on the basis of careful analysis and after a more detailed discussion,” it said. 

European nuclear industry says ready to play part in post-COVID recovery 

The European nuclear industry is ready to play an important part in supporting national and EU clean economic revival, industry heads said in an open letter to the European Commission on June 3. 

The letter, signed by 25 companies and 14 associations, was addressed to EC President Ursula von der Leyen, Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice President Frans Timmermans, Commissioner Kadri Simson, Commissioner Thierry Breton, European Parliament President David Maria Sassoli and European Council President Charles Michel. 

“Today the EU and the world are confronted by an unprecedented health and economic crisis…The energy sector across the EU, with nuclear energy at its core, continues to play an important role in that effort,” the letter read. 

Nuclear power produces some 26% of electricity generated in the EU, making it the largest source of low carbon power while 50% of the EU’s electricity mix is based on fossil fuel technologies, it noted. 

The letter comes after the European Commission’s proposed a new recovery instrument “Next Generation EU” of 750 billion euros to boost the EU budget did not include the nuclear industry.

European nuclear trade association FORATOM accused the European Commission of ignoring the need for “clean, dispatchable and European sources” of energy. 

“The Commission has once again ignored Europe’s largest source of low-carbon dispatchable energy” says Yves Desbazeille, FORATOM’s Director General, in a statement. “Nuclear is a low-carbon European technology, which ensures security of supply and creates jobs in the EU”.

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