From Volume 38, Issue 29 of EIR Online, Published July 29, 2011

Global Economic News

China's First Fast Breeder Reactor Produces Its First Power

July 21 (EIRNS)—Chinese media are reporting proudly, that China's first fast neutron, breeder reactor, a 65MW test reactor, was successfully connected to the electric grid this week. The reactor ran at 40% of capacity. China has worked on fast reactor technology since the 1960s. The current design was developed based on Russian technology, and with Russian help. China plans to start construction on two commercial-sized, 800 MW Russian-designed breeders in 2013 or 2014, and to start building a 1,000 MW Chinese-designed breeder in 2018.

China, facing very high demand for, and limited indigenous reserves of, uranium, is aggressively moving to breeder reactors, which create more fuel than they use, and can more efficiently use upwards of 40% of the reactor's fuel, as compared to a few percentage in conventional nuclear plants. Today, China imports half of the uranium needed for its dozen nuclear reactors. The U.S. cancelled its breeder reactor program in the early 1980s, after it had been halted by the Carter Administration in the late 1970s. France and Russia have commercial-scale breeder reactors.

India, U.K. Move Ahead with Nuclear Power

July 19 (EIRNS)—At a time when nations are being devastated by the global financial collapse, generation of abundant electrical power at increasingly high energy-flux densities is the only solution to rebuild the future. In order to do that, nuclear power remains the key. Some nations are moving ahead.

Keeping its eye on the future, the Nuclear Power Corp. of India Ltd's (NPCIL) second pair of 700-MW Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs), RAPP-7 & 8 (Rajasthan Atomic Power Project 7 & 8) achieved its first pour of concrete last week at Rawatbhata in Rajasthan, India. The First Pour of Concrete (FPC) is an important milestone in the construction of a nuclear power project and signifies the start of the construction (zero date). The reactors are scheduled to be completed by 2016-17. On their completion, 1,400 MW capacity will be added to the Northern Electricity Grid, of which 700 MW will be allocated to the state of Rajasthan.

Designed in India, the 700-MW PHWR is the latest nuclear power reactor, which has been designed by NPCIL. Almost simultaneously, the U.S. Congressional Research Services (CRS) published a report pointing out that India could soon join a select group of countries that export nuclear reactors. "Only Canada, China, France, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States export nuclear reactors. India may join this group in the near term," the CRS said.

India is offering its indigenous 220- and 540-MW heavy water reactor designs for export, although no specific customers have been identified, the report added.

On July 18, the British Parliament voted on the National Policy Statement for Nuclear, ratifying the program for building new nuclear power plants in the United Kingdom. The Parliament has also confirmed the list of sites able to host new nuclear plants, which includes Hinkley Point and Sizewell, the two priority sites identified by EDF, an integrated energy company in the U.K., for the construction of its future power plants. This vote has been acknowledged as a major step forward for the development of nuclear power in the U.K.

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