Finland, Turkey get Russian VVER1200 NPP

These latest design VVER1200 NPP’s have 60 year life span, with 20% reduction in build cost and time, and 10% reduction in operating cost.

Turkey ordered 4 of these NPPs. Same process as SA: State deal subsequently approved by parliament. Russia to finance, built, own, operate and transfer option after 15 years. Russia buys back spent fuel for processing.

In Finland one Russian VVER 1200 NPP will be build near Tornio – Outokumpu has 12% share in the planned NPP.

During 2014 Outokumpu said its investment in Fennovoima VVER1200 NPP, to be paid over the next decade, would be around 210 million euros, compared with its earlier estimate of around 150 to 200 million euros. (Nearly 3 billion Rand for the 12% share.)

The company’s stainless steel plants in Tornio, including 540 000t/y of FeCr-production, are the single largest consumer of electricity in Finland.

“We want to ensure a stable, predictable and low-carbon energy source at production cost to our operations in Finland,” Chief Executive Mika Seitovirta said in a statement on Wednesday. (19 February 2014)

Eight VVER1200 NPP’s are planned for South-Africa, near Jeffreys Bay, Gansbaai and Koeberg in Cape Town. Currently transmission losses from Mpumalanga to coastal cities in the Cape run at around 12%.

The real controversy surrounding the Russian-SA NPP agreement, refers to SA’s intention to again enrich uranium at Pelindaba near Pretoria for local NPP fuel production. South-Africa and Namibia, governed as a former province of South-Africa, have large uranium reserves. Uranium enrichment and nuclear fuel production, although legal under the NPT, can supply a country with a break-out capability to produce bombs.

NECSA was also to produce the TRISO fuel for Eskom’s Pebble Bed Modular Reactor at Pelindaba.

During June 2014, the Indonesian government approached the South-African government for PBMR technology. After conducting a levelized evaluation of various NPP’s, Indonesia’s nuclear authority came to the conclusion that Eskom’s PBMR is the safest and lowest cost option for Indonesia.

The Eskom PBMR direct-cycle helium turbo-generator (from Mitsubishi) runs at 45% efficiency as compared to 34% of conventional NPPs. The Eskom PBMR was of 160MW capacity per module, and could also be build inland , for exmple in Middelburg, as unlike conventional NPPs, it does not require (sea) water cooling

During 2009 Eskom refused to become the anchor client for 60 of its own PBMR plants totaling 9 600MW. Thus during same year the construction of the first direct cycle (no water-steam circuit) PBMR in Cape Town by Murrey & Roberts and SNC Lavalin was halted. The R300m reactor pressure vessel had already been manufactured in Spain near the port of Santander. Currently this PBMR reactor vessel is lying at Saldanha Bay. The other major contracts with Mitsubishi and SGL Carbon were also cancelled.

During 2013 the then Minister of State-Owned-Enterprises and Eskom, Mr Melusi Gigaba was in Middelburg and answered a question about the possibility of the state reviving local technology and industry, in chosing PBMR instead of conventional NPP. The minister answered that only four PBMR engineers were still in state employment, and that their contracts were to expire during 2013. The minister then proceeded to announce that heads would roll if Medupi power station did not start-up end-2013.

Mr O’ Flaharty, then CFO of Eskom, is now CEO of Arcelor Mittal South-Africa. Mr Brian Dames left the employment of Eskom after a two decade career. Mr Gigaba, second on the ANC’s NEC-list and once mooted as South-Africa’s crown prince, is
now minister of Home Affairs.

During February 2014, the veteran financial reporter at Business Day, David Gleason passed away. Gleason predicted that Russia would win the South-African nuclear build contract, and that as a result prized Russian assets in South-Africa would then experience a change in ownership.

Norilsk Nickel has put up for sale its 50% share in the rich and highly profitable Nkomati Nickel mine not far from Middelburg, Mpumalanga. First option to refuse belongs to South-African ARM. It remains to be seen who will soon own this valuable asset.