Argentina awards contract for CAREM and plans co-operation with China

13 September 2016

A joint venture between Tecna and Siemens has been awarded a contract by Argentina's National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA) to supply the balance of plant (BOP) for the domestically-designed prototype CAREM-25 small integral reactor. The contract, signed on 3 August, was the outcome of a three-stage tender, launched in 2014. It covers the conventional island and the tertiary circuit, as well as the demineralization plant and the auxiliary boiler. Work is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018, followed by trial operation ending in July 2019, and finally commercial operation.

CAREM (Central ARgentina de Elementos Modulares) is a 25MWe small pressurized water reactor designed and developed by Argentina. The prototype is under construction at a site adjacent to the Atucha NPP plant in Lima. First concrete was poured in February 2014, marking the official start of construction. At least 70% of the components and related services for CAREM-25 are to be sourced from Argentinian companies.

In a statement, CNEA said Argentina hopes to use CAREM to compete in the market for the supply of small modular reactors "in the near future". It said the contract represents an investment of ARS1,200m ($80m) and will create 400 jobs. The contract marks the return of Germany's Siemens as a nuclear supplier to the region, following its earlier participation in the construction of unit 1 at the Atucha NPP.

Argentina also intends to work closely with China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) to ensure a new Candu heavy water reactor will be put into commercial operation and construction of a planned pressurised water reactor unit can begin in 2019, according to a statement by Argentinian president Mauricio Macri on CNNC’s website. Macri, met CNNC’s president Qian Zhimin during the recent G20 summit in Hangzhou, China. He said China and Argentina aimed to extend their cooperation to the entire nuclear industry supply chain and shared projects in third countries “within three years”. In November 2015, China and Argentina signed a memorandum of understanding reaffirming plans to build two new nuclear power reactors in Argentina with financing from Chinese banks. One of the units will be a third Candu reactor at the Atucha site. CNNC said the second unit will be a domestic Hualong One, reactor, which “China is keen to promote around the world”. 



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