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Brazil's nuclear programme flourishes

  • 14 years ago (2009-10-24)
  • Junior Isles
North America 999 Nuclear 640

Brazil is moving forward with its nuclear expansion programme, which could be worth more than $24 billion by 2030, and this could be just the first stage in a programme that would run until 2060.

The Brazilian Government has announced a plan that aims at the construction of between four and eight new nuclear power reactors by 2030. Civil works for the first two of the new reactors are planned to start in 2012, and they are forecast to come into operation in 2019 and 2020. Assuming all eight are built, this would bring the value of the programme to more than $24 billion, and would add 8GW in capacity, and account for about 6 per cent of the country's electricity supply by that time. The Brazilian government has said that it hopes that the country will have 60 GW of nuclear generating capacity by 2060.

As a result, the main international nuclear reactor companies are beating a path to Brazil's door. Technology transfer to Brazil will be obligatory in any deal. Indeed, technology transfer was part of the deal that saw the construction of Angra 2. The country seeks to develop its own nuclear industry. Brazil already mines uranium - it currently has the sixth-largest uranium reserves in the world - and it operates a full national fuel manufacturing cycle.

Brazil currently has two nuclear power reactors in operation at a single power plant, located at Angra dos Reis in Rio de Janeiro state. The first, Angra 1, was commissioned in 1985 and has a capacity of 657MW, while the second, Angra 2, commissioned in 2000, has a capacity of 1350 MW. Together they supply about 3% of Brazil's electricity.

A third reactor, Angra 3, which is an updated version of Angra 2 and which will also have a capacity of 1350 MW, is now under construction alongside the existing two units, and is expected to be commissioned in 2014.

Angra 1 was acquired from Westinghouse, and Angra 2 from Siemens. Because of corporate activity, design authority for Angra 2 and 3, and construction responsibility for Angra 3 are vested in Areva.

About 80 per cent of Brazil's electricity currently comes from hydropower. There is no single national utility, although there is a national grid controlled by a not-for-profit company. Power companies sell the electricity they generate to the national grid, usually under long-term contracts. Some of these power companies are private sector, some are owned by State governments, and one (Eletrobras) by the Federal government. Brazil's nuclear power reactors are all owned and operated by Eletronuclear, a subsidiary of Eletrobras.

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