Newcomer nations

25 June 2019

Some 30 countries are considering, planning or have already embarked on nuclear power programmes. Judith Perera reviews recent developments.

BANGLADESH STARTED CONSTRUCTION of its first reactor in November 2017 and its second in 2018. It has rising power demand and wants to reduce its dependence on natural gas. Two 1200MWe VVER-1200 reactors are being built at Rooppur, 160km northwest of Dhaka, with Russia’s Novovoronezh II as the reference plant. Russia and Bangladesh signed an inter-governmental agreement for Rooppur as a turnkey project in November 2011 and ASE Group was appointed the general contractor in December 2015.

Rooppur 1 is expected to begin operation in 2023 and Rooppur 2 in 2024. Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom will maintain the plant for the first year of operation. Rosatom is also helping with human resources development, and by 2023 more than 1500 Bangladeshis are expected to have training at Novovoronezh II. Russia will supply fuel for the plant and take back the used fuel for processing.

China’s Dongfang Electric Corporation and China Nuclear Engineering & Construction Corp have expressed interest in building a second plant for Bangladesh, and sites are under consideration.

BELARUS BEGAN CONSTRUCTION of Ostrovets 1 (in the Grovno region) in 2013 and unit 2 in 2014. The plant is based on Russia’s VVER-1200. Unit 1 is scheduled for commissioning in 2020 and unit 2 in 2021. Russia will supply fuel and take back the used fuel.

Rosatom’s Atomstroyexport arm is building the 2400MWe plant. An intergovernmental agreement signed in March 2011 includes a Russian state loan of $10bn for the project.

TURKEY HAS BEEN planning to build a nuclear plant since the mid-1960s.

Most recently, in 2008 the Turkish Electricity Trade & Contract Corporation invited bids for construction of a plant at Akkuyu on the Mediterranean coast. The Turkish Atomic Energy Authority (TAEK) received only one bid from among 14 interested parties. Russia’s ASE and Inter RAO UES with Park Teknik (Turkey) proposed a plant with four 1200MWe reactors. In 2010 Russia and Turkey signed an intergovernmental agreement for Rosatom to build, own and operate (BOO) the $20bn plant – the first nuclear project to be built on this basis.

Rosatom entities intend to retain at least 51% of the project company, set up in 2011.

Construction began in 2018. The basemat for the nuclear island of Akkuyu 1 was completed in March 2019, and launch is planned for 2023. Akkuyu Nuclear expects a construction licence for Akkuyu 2 by June. All four units of the Akkuyu plant are scheduled for operation by 2025.

In 2013 Turkey accepted a proposal from a consortium led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Areva (with Itochu and Engie) to build a second plant with four Atmea 1 reactors at Sinop on the Black Sea coast, where preparatory work had been underway since 2008. However, work was frozen in late 2018 when MHI pulled out of the project.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES is embarking upon a nuclear power programme after accepting a $20 billion bid from a South Korean consortium led by Korea Electric Power Corporation in 2009 to build four APR1400 reactors at Barakah between Abu Dhabi city and Ruwais. South Korea’s Shin-Kori 3&4 are reference plants.

In 2008 the UAE set up the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec), which selected Kepco following an international tender. Enec and Kepco then set up Barakah One to “represent the commercial and financial interests” of the Barakah project. This included managing direct loan agreements of about $19.6 billion from the Export-Import Bank of Korea, the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, First Gulf Bank, HSBC, and Standard Chartered, and the Abu Dhabi Department of Finance.

Construction of unit 1 began in 2012 and unit 2 in 2013, unit 3 in 2014 and unit 4 in 2015. Barakah 1 was declared complete in 2018 and is expected online in early 2020, following delays around its operational readiness. Main concrete works and heavy equipment lifting for all four units was completed in October 2018. Once all four units are in operation they will produce up to 25% of the UAE’s electricity requirements.

Barakah 1 requires an operating licence from the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation before fuel loading.  

ALGERIA ANNOUNCED IN May 2018 that it was laying the legal basis to introduce nuclear energy by 2030-50. Some steps have already been taken, including creating the Atomic Energy Commission in 1996, building two research reactors in Draria and Birine, and establishing the Algerian Institute of training in nuclear engineering.

In 2007 Russia and Algeria signed an agreement to investigate nuclear power, and agreements were also signed with Argentina, China, France and the USA. In 2009 the government announced plans for an operating nuclear plant by 2020, but in 2013 the target date was deferred to 2025. In 2014, an agreement with Rosatom envisaged construction of VVER reactors, followed by further agreements in 2016 with a view completing the first in 2026. Cooperation continued with China through agreements with CNNC in 2015 and 2016 relating to a nuclear research centre, the Hualong One reactor, the ACP100 small reactor and renewable energy projects.

IN DECEMBER 2018, Rosatom sent proposals on nuclear power cooperation, including construction of a power plant, to the President of Azerbaijan. Following preliminary negotiations, Rosatom offered two options. The first was to start immediately at a site in the Avai region of southern Azerbaijan selected in Soviet times. The second was to develop cooperation over 5-6 years, installing a research reactor, building up competencies, and training staff.

EGYPT’S NUCLEAR PLANTS Authority (NPPA) was granted a site permit for its planned El-Dabaa nuclear plant in March 2019, following site studies carried out by Egyptian Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory Authority and site examination by an IAEA Site and External Events Design Review Service team. Rosatom is developing four VVER-1200 reactors at the site, which will be owned and operated by NPPA and is expected to account for up to 50% of Egypt’s power generation capacity.

Rosatom hopes to begin work on El-Dabaa 1 by 2020 for operation in 2026; on unit 2 in 2021 for 2026; on unit 3 in 2022 for operation in 2027; and on unit 4 in 2022 for 2028. Rosatom will also train 2000 Egyptians to operate and maintain the plant. The participation rate of Egyptian companies for unit 1 is expected to reach 20%, increasing to 30% for subsequent units. Russia is funding 85% of construction through a $25bn low-interest loan repayable over 22 years. The contract also covers lifetime fuel supply and assistance with operation and maintenance for the first ten years.

ETHIOPIA AND RUSSIA have signed a three-year roadmap establishing cooperation on construction of a nuclear plant and the Centre for Nuclear Science and Technology (CNST). The document was signed in April 2019 during Atomexpo in Sochi.

GHANA SAID IN 2018 that construction of a 1200MWe nuclear plant is expected to begin in 2023-29. The Ghana Nuclear Power Programme Organisation (GNPPO) was established in 2012 and the Energy Ministry identified three potential sites. In 2012 Rosatom signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with the Energy Ministry and in 2025 one with the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, followed by an agreement for nuclear plant construction. Ghana has ratified international conventions related to nuclear power. The Nuclear Regulatory Authority was established in 2016 and in 2019 Nuclear Power Ghana Limited was created as plant owner-operator.

INDONESIA’S 2015 WHITE paper on national energy development to 2050 saw nuclear providing 5GWe by 2025. However, the 2017 National Energy General Plan to 2050 favours oil, gas and renewables and a focus on small-scale nuclear plants.

In 2018 Indonesia’s National Atomic Energy Agency (Batan) launched a roadmap to develop a detailed engineering design for its Experimental Power Reactor, a small pebble-bed high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) with low enriched uranium oxide TRISO fuel. The basic engineering design was completed in 2017, and a site licence was received from Nuclear Energy Regulatory Agency (Bapeten) for a 10MWt reactor at Puspiptek research facility in Serpong. Batan is also considering large light-water reactors for the islands of Bali, Java, Madura and Sumatra from 2027 and plans to deploy small HTGRs on Kalimantan, Sulawesi and other islands to supply industrial power and heat. Indonesia is also investigating small molten salt reactors and small floating plant.

JORDAN PLANNED TO have two 1000MWe nuclear units in operation by 2025 but is now considering small modular reactors (SMRs). It has signed nuclear cooperation agreements with France, Canada, UK, Russia, South Korea, Japan and Saudi Arabia, and some other countries. Its Committee for Nuclear Strategy, set up in 2007, had planned for nuclear power to provide 30% of electricity by 2030, and to provide for exports. The Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) and Jordan Nuclear Regulatory Commission (JNRC) were set up in 2007, and in 2008 JAEC investigated plant technologies. These included AECL’s Candu-6, the Areva-Mitsubishi Atmea 1 and a Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power design. In 2009 JAEC contracted Tractabel Engineering to undertake a siting study at Al Amra in Al Mafraq province. JAEC signed WorleyParsons for the pre-construction phase of a plant with two 1000MWe reactors.

In 2010 JAEC shortlisted three of seven offers – Atmea 1, the AECL EC6, and Rosatom’s AES-92 — and in 2013 it decided on two AES-92 units. These were on a build-own-operate basis with Rosatom Overseas as joint venture strategic partner (49.9%) alongside state-owned Jordan Nuclear Power Co (JNPC). JAEC signed a project development agreement with Rosatom Overseas in 2014 and an intergovernmental agreement in 2015 establishing the JNPC project company. However, in 2018 the project was cancelled on the grounds of cost in favour of SMRs, and a new agreement was signed with Rusatom Overseas to that effect.

SMRs had long been on JAEC’s agenda. In 2017, JAEC signed agreements to study construction of SMRs with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-CARE) and with Rosatom. A memorandum of understanding was also signed with Rolls-Royce for a feasibility study on an SMR, and another with X-energy for the 76MWe Xe-100 HTGR. Talks were held with CNNC in 2018 on the possible construction of a 220MWe HTR-PM reactor for operation from 2025, and this year an agreement was signed with US NuScale.

KENYA’S MINISTRY OF Energy plans to have its first nuclear plant commissioned by 2027 subject to the passing of the draft Nuclear Regulatory Bill. The Kenya Nuclear Energy Board (KNEB) said in January 2019 that it was investigating possible sites and was selecting a firm to develop terms of reference for site characterisation. Lake Victoria, Lake Turkana and the Indian Ocean are potential sites with sustainable water sources. In 2015 KNEB agreed with China General Nuclear Power (CGN) to investigate building a Hualong One reactor in Kenya and a further agreement was signed in 2017. In 2016, KNEB signed nuclear cooperation agreements with Rosatom and Korea Electric Power Corporation. The Energy Ministry says that by 2030 Kenya plans to have 4GWe of nuclear capacity, generating about 19% of Kenya’s needs.

MOROCCO’S EXPERIENCE WITH nuclear technology goes back to the 1950s. Studies conducted from the mid-1980s are investigating the role of nuclear energy in the national electricity mix in the long term (2030–2050). In 2017 the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Sustainable Development signed a memorandum of understanding with Rosatom on the use of nuclear energy, including assistance in developing Morocco’s nuclear infrastructure.

NIGER, IN 2018, said it intends to build a nuclear plant, following the results of the IAEA INIR mission. The IAEA recommended improving economic planning for plant construction and operation. However, it noted that the necessary legislation had already been adopted and an independent body for nuclear regulation set up. Niger has also undertaken studies related to nuclear infrastructure development and prepared a comprehensive report.

NIGERIA HAS A well-established nuclear infrastructure and plans to construct up to 4000MWe of capacity by 2025. The Nigerian Atomic Energy Commission’s national nuclear power road map was approved by the government in 2007, followed by a Strategic Plan for the Implementation of the national nuclear power programme, approved in 2009. It set a target of 1000MWe of nuclear capacity by 2020, plus 4000MWe by 2030. It was revised in 2015 with the first plant connecting to the national grid by 2025, increasing nuclear capacity to 4800MWe by 2035.

In 2009 Russia signed two agreements with Nigeria, on uranium exploration and mining and the construction of a Russian power plant and research reactor. Russia said financing options would be available to Nigeria, which had suggested a BOO arrangement with majority Rosatom equity. A roadmap for cooperation was signed in 2017 for feasibility studies on the plant and research centre.

POLAND’S DRAFT ENERGY policy to 2040 (PEP2040), published in 2018, affirmed the principle of halving coal use in favour of nuclear. Energy demand is forecast to be 215.6TWh by 2035, 46% generated from coal and 10% from nuclear. By 2040, nuclear’s share is to reach 18%. Nuclear sites have been identified by the Baltic Sea — Kopalino or Zarnowiec — and in Belchatów. The Energy Ministry plans to launch the first 1-1.5GWe reactor in 2035 and five more by 2043, bringing total nuclear capacity to 6-9GWe. In 2019, the Energy Ministry signed an agreement with the National Centre for Research and Development to support development of HTGRs. The project will be implemented by the Ministry, the National Centre for Nuclear Research and the Institute of Nuclear Chemistry and Technology.

THE KING ABDULLAH City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-CARE) was set up in Riyadh in 2010 to advance alternative energies including nuclear. In 2011 WorleyParsons was chosen to conduct site surveys, select candidate sites and develop technical specifications for a planned tender for the next stage of the project. Plans included the construction of 16 reactors at a cost of more $80 billion to generate about 20% of Saudi Arabia’s electricity. Smaller reactors were envisaged for desalination. In 2013, three sites were short-listed: Jubail (on the Gulf) and Tabuk and Jizan (both on the Red Sea). A Nuclear Holding Company was set up. Construction was expected to begin in 2016 to build 17GWe of nuclear  capacity by 2032. However, plans were scaled back in 2015, when the target date was also moved, from 2032 to 2040. KA-CARE announced that it was soliciting proposals for 2.9GWe of nuclear capacity, from South Korea, China, Russia and Japan. In parallel it was investigating SMRs, signing agreements with: the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute to assess the potential of its SMART reactors; with Argentina’s Invap to assess its Carem reactor; and with China Nuclear Engineering Corporation for HTR-PM.

KA-CARE awarded another contract to Worley Parsons in 2018 to provide consultancy services relating to large plants, SMRs and the fuel cycle. In 2018, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman launched a project to build Saudi Arabia’s first research reactor.

SUDAN’S MINISTRY OF Energy & Mines initiated a nuclear power programme in 2010. The Ministry of Electricity and Water Resources set up the Nuclear Energy Generation Department to undertake a feasibility study for four 300-600MWe units by 2030. This was changed in 2015 to two 600MWe PWRs by 2027.

In May 2016, a framework agreement was signed with CNNC to build one or two 600MWe reactors, with a nuclear cooperation roadmap for the next decade. A June 2017 nuclear cooperation agreement with Rosatom included assessing the feasibility of a nuclear science and technology centre with a research reactor and power plant.

THAILAND HAS A research reactor in operation and is considering a nuclear power plant. In 2007, the National Energy Policy Council appointed the Nuclear Power Infrastructure Preparation Committee and the Nuclear Power Programme Development Office to prepare a nuclear infrastructure development and nuclear utility plan. The 2010 Power Development Plan (2010-2030) planned 5000MWe by 2020. After Fukushima, the date was pushed back to 2023 and deferred again under PDP2015, which targeted a 5% nuclear share (two 1000MWe PWR units) by 2036. 

UGANDA’S VISION 2040 roadmap notes potential nuclear sites are in the Kyoga, Kagera and Aswa regions. The base case scenario is for two 1000MWe units by 2031.

In 2018, Uganda’s government signed a MOU China’s CNNC to cooperate support of plans to construct 2000MWe of capacity within 10-15 years. Agreements on research reactors have also been signed with Russia’s Rosatom.

UZBEKISTAN EXPECTS NUCLEAR to account for about 15% of energy generation by 2030. In 2018 an agreement was signed with Russia on cooperation in design and construction of a $13bn two-unit station near Tudacul reservoir, with the first VVER-1200 reactor in operation by 2028. Most of the investment is expected to come from Russia.

In February 2019, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev signed a detailed concept and roadmap detailing nuclear development for 2019-2029, including plants totalling 2.4GWe. The main stages are: site selection and licensing (2019-2020); design of nuclear plants and infrastructure (2020-2022); construction and commissioning (2022-2030). Rosatom expects a contract to be signed by the end of 2019 and for construction to start at the end of 2021.

The Agency for the Development of Atomic Energy (Uzatom) was established by Presidential decree in July 2018 and transferred to the Ministry of Energy in February 2019. A law on the use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes received its first reading in parliament in March. The Department of Nuclear Safety is applying Russian regulatory standards but the roadmap plans a regulatory Act in 2020. Uzbekistan is choosing a site for the first reactor and expects a site licence in September 2020.

IN 2016 VIETNAM’S parliament endorsed a government decision to cancel well- advanced plans to build plants under contracts with Russia and Japan, awarded at a total cost of around $8.9bn. In 2009, parliament approved plans to build four 1000MW reactors, two each at two sites in Ninh Thuan. In 2010 the government expanded plans to 14 reactors at eight sites by 2030 — a 20?25% nuclear share by 2050. Agreements were signed with Russia and Japan for eight reactors at the two Ninh Thuan plants, one online each year from 2020?27, followed by two in 2029. By 2015, the startup date for the first reactor was delayed to 2028. Plans were cancelled in 2016, after costs had doubled and amid safety concerns following the 2011 Fukushima accident. 

Although the nuclear power programme is on hold, Vietnam is considering a new research reactor.  

Supporting infrastructure

In 2009 the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) began offering Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) missions to evaluate countries’ nuclear infrastructure development, building on member states’ self-evaluation. INIR missions have been hosted by: Bangladesh, Belarus, Ghana, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Malaysia, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, the Philippines, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Thailand, Turkey, the UAE, and Vietnam. Newcomer countries are encouraged to follow the IAEA’s Milestone Approach, which has three phases: consider and decide; prepare and contract; and construct and commission.  

Image: Mikhail Chudakov delivers the report on the INIR Mission to Saudi Arabia to Khaled Al Sultan, president of K.A.CARE (Photo: T. Stott/IAEA)

Author information: Judith Perera, Contributing Editor, Nuclear Engineering International 

Four units are being built at Barakah in the UAE (Photo credit: ENEC)
Poland is looking to nuclear to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels

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