Brazil shelves plans to open up nuclear sector

24 September 2015


Brazil has shelved a proposal to open its nuclear power sector to private investors, according to Maurício Tolmasquim, the head of energy planning agency EPE. He said the government needed "to bide its time" before presenting a bill to that effect to congress. Nul;ear utility Eletronuclear, a unit of state-run Eletrobras, earlier this year called for "greater flexibility" to allow private companies to build NPPs in Brazil. "It would mean changing the constitution and we have to wait for the right moment," Tolmasquim told reporters. "This year is difficult. Constitutional change requires three-fifths of [congressional] support." However, he said the government remained committed to opening up the segment to private investors. "It's hard to expand under the current model," he said. "To build a nuclear plant now you have long lead-times and costs. I think it's really important to have a majority of private capital."

The government last year said it had identified 21 possible sites for nuclear power plants in each of Brazil's five regions. EPE's long-term energy plan forecasts construction of four new NPPs by 2030 at a total cost of $20bn. Eletronuclear currently operates two pressurised water reactor units at the Angra NPP in Rio de Janeiro state. The 657MWe Angra 1 and 135OMWe Angra 2 supply about a third of the electricity used in Rio de Janeiro state and account for 3.17% of the Brazil's consumption. The partially-built 1450MWe Angra 3 project has faced repeated delays and more recently accusations that engineering firms paid bribes to secure contracts.

Meanwhile, Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom and Brazil's machine engineering company Nuclebrás Equipamentos Pesados (NUCLEP) on 16 September signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at developing a partnership in nuclear and thermal power. It covers cooperation in development of nuclear power of Brazil, "including potential construction of a new NPP", as well as the cooperation in a number of other areas. The document also assumes potential implementation of joint projects "in the markets of third countries with the priority on Latin America".



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