Considering the negative media coverage over the past few years, you’d be forgiven for thinking that nuclear power is out of favour and is in a state of terminal decline. Whilst this may be the case in some countries, for many others, the ‘pros’ of reducing greenhouse gases and other emissions from fossil fuels outweighs the ‘cons’ of potential nuclear accidents.
This continued demand for new nuclear power plants combined with the need for decommissioning of older nuclear installations presents attractive on-site machining opportunities for contractors, large and small. Using information sourced from the EIC (Energy and Industries Council), we’ve listed some sizeable nuclear power projects you may be interested in.
1. Hinkley Point C Nuclear Power Plant – United Kingdom
The long-awaited decision to proceed with new power plant was reached in 2017. The new 3,200MW plant will be built alongside the existing nuclear power plants at Hinkley Point in Somerset, UK. The plant will incorporate two 1,600MW European Pressurised Reactors. The project value is an estimated $26,000m and is expected to start-up in 2025.
2. Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant - Turkey
This plant construction project valued at $22,000m is located in Akkuyu near the Mediterranean port city of Mersin on the south coast of Turkey. Output of this plant is set to be 4.8GW, achieved by four units, each with a capacity of 1.2GW and using VVER pressurized water reactors.The estimated start-up date is 2023.
3. Cadarache ITER Nuclear Fusion Plant - France
This is $19,842m joint venture, funded by the European Union, India, Japan, China, Russia, South Korea and the United States. Despite decades of experimentation, attempts at creating nuclear fusion has been largely unsuccessful. If achieved the implications for power generation will be unprecedented far reaching. This construction project is to build a prototype commercial tokamak nuclear fusion reactor. The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) will be located at Cadarache in the south of France and will start up 2025.
4. Vogtle Nuclear Plant Expansion, Units 3 and 4 - United States
This project is for the addition of two new 1,100MW reactors at the existing Alvin W Vogtle Electric Generating Plant jn Waynesboro, Burke County, Georgia. The reactors will be the Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactor type. At its peak, the construction phase will generate more than 4,000 jobs. Two storage facilities (110 casks) will also be built on the property to store waste safely.
5. Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant - Bangaladesh
This $13,900m construction project is to build a nuclear power plant with the capacity to generate 2,400MW. The plant will comprise of two VVER 1,200MW units and is forecast to start-up in 2022
6. Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant Expansion - India
This is for the construction of an additional four power units for the existing Kudankulam nuclear power plant. With these new reactors the plant is designed to have a total capacity of 6,000 MWe. The plant has been subject too many years of delays. The project dates back to a 1988 agreement between India and the Soviet Union with an addendum signed ten years later. The plant eventually started commercial operation from 31 December 2014. Project value $12,000m.
7. Paks Nuclear Power Plant Modernisation and Expansion - Hungary
The existing Paks nuclear power plant situated 5 km from Paks, in central Hungary and currently has four Russian VVER reactors units with a combined capacity of 1,755MW. The project involves construction of units 5 and 6 at the plant using VVER reactors with a capacity of 1,200MW each.
8. UK Nuclear Decommissioning Project - United Kingdom
Although the UK has committed to the construction of a new plant at Hinkley Point, much of the nuclear project work in the UK is around decommissioning. Ten Magnox nuclear power plants located around the UK are Berkeley, Bradwell, Chapelcross, Dungeness A, Hinkley Point A, Hunterston A, Oldbury, Sizewell A, Trawsfynydd and Wylfa. Research sites at Harwell and Winfrith are also included. Estimated value of projects is around $10,500m.
9. Sellafield Nuclear Decommissioning - United Kingdom
In addition to the above there is a significant decommissioning job to be done at the Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria. Over the last few decades, activity at the Sellafield site has been significant reprocessing of spent fuel for countries worldwide and power generation at its Calder Hall power plant. Project estimated value: $79,500m.
10. Zhangzhou Nuclear Power Plant (CNNC) - China
The quest for more nuclear power plants in China is a result of the need to reduce air pollution from coal-fired plants. A new 4,600MW nuclear power plant located at Zhangzhou will use four Chinese-designed Hualong One reactors, each with a capacity of 1,150MW. Plans are being considered for a second phase that could see a further two units constructed. Project value: $10,000m.
11. Darlington A Nuclear Plant Refurbishment - Canada
This is a major refurbishment project of all four CANDU reactors with a combined capacity of 3,524MW. This will extend the life of the Ontario plant another 30 years. The project consists of two phases – a Definition Phase (four years) and an Execution Phase (seven years).
12. Chasma Nuclear Power Plant (Unit 5) - Pakistan
China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) have signed a cooperation agreement for construction of a HPR1000 Hualong One reactor at the site. The plant will be constructed by CNNC subsidiary CNNC China Zhongyuan Engineering Corporation. Start-up date: 2025. Project value $4,800m.
13. Xiapu Fast Reactor Demonstration Nuclear Power Plant - China
Fast neutron reactors (FNRs) are seen as the main reactor technology for China, with this to become predominant by mid-century. The country's research and development on fast neutron reactors started in 1964. This demonstration fast reactor will have a capacity of 600MW, and will be built at Xiapu in Fujian province. The plant will consist of a single CFR-600 reactor, with a 600MW electrical output and 1,500MW thermal output.
14. MYRRHA Research Reactor Project
Construction of a new multi-purpose hybrid research nuclear reactor for high-tech applications. Project value $1,500m. The MYRRHA (Multi-purpose hYbrid Research Reactor for High-tech Applications) is a unique design project of a nuclear reactor coupled to a proton accelerator. The unit Is expected to be fully operational in 2033, with the first phase ready in 2024.
What is the kind of machining work needed on nuclear plant construction projects?
A great deal of machining work exists is around pipelines, which on nuclear plants are used to;
- Carry cooling water to the reactor vessel
- Transport steam to the main turbine
- Provide hydrogen gas to cool the main generators
- Supply fuel and lubricating oil to the emergency diesel generators
- Maintain the fire sprinklers ready to extinguish fires, and numerous other vital functions.
What about decommissioning projects?
A considerable amount of decommissioning tasks at nuclear facilities rely on the use of robotics, often used with machine tools in the cutting and drilling categories. For decommissioning projects, useful machine tools include; portable bandsaws, diamond wire saws, manipulator saws, CNC gantry milling machines and drilling machines.
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