As I indeed got news I wanted to write for quite some time, I take the time today to present you the latest news on nuclear energy.
China signed last month for two new EPR reactors from French AREVA (website). These reactors are third generation ones and has been developed in Europe. Prior to this, China had signed a contract with the US company Westinghouse.
EPR reactors are third generation ones and are even less dangerous that current second generation reactors. Improvements are brought in terms of security as well as in competitiveness. Nuclear waste also should be reduced by 15 to 30 percent. Originally, EPR was developed by France and Germany, hence the name : European Pressurized reactor.
The Chinese company CGNPC (China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corp ; a major electricity producer in China) decided in January to buy two EPR reactors to meet the growing electricity demand. This is indeed good news for AREVA, the world leader in nuclear generation. AREVA’s goal is to provide a third of nuclear reactors by 2011 (source : le Monde newspaper). Furthermore, this company is to date the sole and only to be able to provide all services when it comes to nuclear, including the supply of uranium.
Nuclear energy is to grow in importance in both developing and developed countries. Major future markets include China, India, Brazil and the United States of America. As an example, India is due to build in the very next years several new plants or extend existing ones. According to the latest AERB report (Atomic Energy Regulatory Board ; website) there are currently eight new reactors in construction.
Developing countries are willing to increase their electricity generation to meet the growing demand. To me, when these countries will be committed to regulate their carbon dioxide emissions too, and they will one day, they will turn even more to nuclear and will decrease the importance coal have for their electricity generation. It is indeed to be hoped, unless they rely massively on CSS (Carbon dioxide Capture and Storage).
The first EPR reactor is currently being constructed in Finland and is estimated three billion euro worth. The reactor should have been ready for 2009 but is suffering delay and won’t be operational before 2011. The second reactor of this kind will be built on French soil by national company EDF (Electricité de France ; website). This project is due to be launched at the end of this year and to be operational in 2010 or 2011.
Sources : Forbes, AERB, Le Figaro and Le Monde.