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Approval coming for new Brazilian reactors

10 января 2011
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Brazil’s new minister of mines and energy, Edison Lobao, has stated that the government plans to give approval by the end of 2011 for the construction of four new nuclear power plants in the country.

Speaking to journalists, Lobao — who was previously minister of mines and energy between January 2008 and March 2010 under the government of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva — said that approval for the new plants was required from the National Energy Policy Council (CNPE). He said: “We will hold a meeting of CNPE to deal with it. The sites are located. We hope to move forward with these projects.”

However, he said that the generating capacity of the new plants had not yet been determined and therefore there are no estimates on how much investment will be necessary for construction of the projects.

While the exact location of the new plants has not been decided, Lobao said that two plants should be built in northeast Brazil and the other two in the southeast of the country.

In 2007, a National Energy Plan to 2030 produced by EPE was adopted by the Brazilian government, which said that 6000 MWe of nuclear capacity will be needed by that date. The plan stipulated that new sites large enough to host six 1000 MWe reactors each should be chosen in the northeast and southeast of the country. EPE said the following states would be part of the preliminary survey: Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Parana, Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul, Goias and Mato Grosso do Sul.

Ministers have previously said an area between Recife and Salvador (a 650 kilometre stretch of coast in the northeast that spans the states of Bahia, Pernambuco, Alagoas and Sergipe) was under consideration and that the first reactor could come online in 2019. Eletronuclear set up an office in Recife in August 2009 after those states expressed an interest in hosting a nuclear power plant.

Nuclear utility Eletronuclear and the Empresa de Pesquita Energética (Energy Research Company, EPE), part of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, signed an agreement in August 2010 to cooperate to develop preliminary studies for selection of future nuclear sites.

Eletronuclear earlier projected the completion of the first two northeast reactors in 2019 and 2021, and the southeast ones, near the existing Angra plant, in 2023 and 2025.

There are currently two nuclear power reactors in operation in Brazil at the Angra site with a combined generating capacity of 1896 MWe. Together they provide about 3% of the country’s electricity. A third unit at the Angra site was planned as the twin to unit 2, but construction work never began despite the delivery of about 70% of the plant components. However, after receiving final approval, Eletronuclear began work in June 2010 to complete the 1220 MWe pressurized water reactor, which could enter into commercial operation in 2015.

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