Saudi Arabia to choose first reactor site 'soon'; German Cabinet agrees clean-up bill

Nuclear power news you need to know.

Saudi Arabia close to deciding first nuclear reactor site

Saudi Arabia will choose a site for its first nuclear power plant "soon" and will announce concrete plans for new build within the next 12 months, Khalid Al-Falih, the country’s energy minister, said October 20, Bloomberg reported.

Saudi Arabia's government wants to make sure all regulatory steps are taken before announcing concrete new build plans, Al-Falih said.

The oil-rich Middle East Kingdom is diversifying its energy sources in response to stubbornly-low oil prices. The government's new Vision 2030 Plan sets a target of 9.5 GW renewables by 2023 alongside the roll out of large-scale industrialization projects.

The Vision 2030 plan, unveiled in April, sets out the transformation of Aramco from an oil producing company into a "global industrial conglomerate" and transforms Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund into the "world's largest sovereign wealth fund."

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is set to be the first nuclear-powered nation on the Arabian Peninsula. The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) and the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) are building four 1.4 GW APR-1400 reactors at the Barakah plant site, due to come online in 2017-2020.

When completed, the Barakah plant will provide a quarter of the UAE's electricity needs.

     UAE nuclear power reactors under construction

Source: World Nuclear Association

German Cabinet approves decommissioning funding bill

Germany's Cabinet approved October 19 a draft law which will require utilities to start paying into a 23.6 billion euros ($25.9 billion) nuclear decommissioning fund in 2017 and in return shift liability for nuclear waste storage to the government, Reuters reported.

In April, the government-appointed Kommission zur Uberprufung des Kernenergieausstiegs (KfK) recommended nuclear operators transfer 23.3 billion euros, which includes a 35% risk-related premium to close the gap between provisions and costs, to a nuclear clean-up fund.

Power utilities EnBW, E.ON, RWE and Vattenfall have already set aside around 38 billion euros for nuclear decommissioning and low-level waste disposal.

E.ON, RWE welcomed the Cabinet's decision but RWE and Vattenfall both urged the government to finalize a contract with the utilities to ensure long-term legal certainty, Reuters reported.

The draft law will be debated by the lower and upper houses of Parliament and is expected to be implemented at the start of February 2017, it said.

Finland to help develop Czech waste depository

Finland is to supply its experience of developing a high level nuclear waste repository to SURAO, the Czech Republic's Radioactive Waste Repository Authority, through a four-year service contract worth 2.75 million euros ($3.0 million).

The Czech Republic plans to select a site for its first deep geological repository by 2025 and the advisory work will include siting strategy, the development of disposal concepts, environmental impact assessments and facilitating communication with stakeholders, Jiri Slovak, Director of SURAO, said in a joint statement with Posiva, Finland's nuclear waste management group.

In November 2015 Finland approved the construction of ONKALO, the world's first permanent underground nuclear waste storage facility, on Olkiluoto island. The government granted Posiva a licence to build a uranium storage facility of maximum capacity 6,500 tonnes and Posiva expects to start operating the facility in 2023.

Finland will provide expertise through Posiva Solutions Oy, together with a Finnish engineering company Saanio & Riekkola Oy. Other suppliers in the project will be Sweden's SKB International AB from Sweden and the Geological Survey of Finland.

"Commercial exploitation of Posiva's experience gained in the ONKALO project is well underway. Earlier this year, we have received assignments from several countries," Mika Pohjonen, Managing Director of Posiva Solutions, said.

Nuclear Energy Insider