Archive for April, 2009

April 30, 2009 | 3:46 pm

MOX Facility in Aiken, SC Continues Construction

With almost one third of the project complete, the MOX (mixed oxide) Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site is a great example of current construction and technology at work in the U.S. The facility construction began in August 2007 and already 263,000 square feet of office space have been completed, with 78,000 currently under construction. The Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility, approximately 17% complete, will be an impressive 600,000 square feet, roughly 10 football fields. The MFFF will host three separate units for shipping and receiving, aqueous polishing, and the MOX process.

While grand in scale, the construction site is securely at the center of 310-square miles of the DOE reservation in Aiken, South Carolina. The MOX facility has been a cooperative effort between Shaw, AREVA, and the Department of Energy to bring MOX fuel technology to the US. AREVA’s MELOX and La Hague facilities were the model for this project, based on more than 30 years of successful operation. The MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility is based on these two reference facilities and has been modified to meet with all of the US codes and standards including safety and security requirements.

The numbers that this project generates in employment are proportionate to its colossal construction size. Through its suppliers, the MOX project employs approximately 2,400 people spread across thirty states. On the site, more than 1,400 people are working for the Shaw AREVA MOX Services LLC. This number will to jump to approximately 3,000 by late 2009 as the progress continues on construction and process unit manufacturing/fabrication. As the project will be licensed for 20 years, the MOX facility will require a steady workforce for decades to come.

April 29, 2009 | 10:16 am

Armand Laferrère: Global Trends in the Nuclear Industry, Part II

From notes for remarks by Armand Laferrère, President and CEO of AREVA Canada, to the C.D. Howe Roundtable Luncheon, April 15, 2009 Part I

It is not enough, however, to consolidate existing resources. We must also prepare the future, by hiring the right people and by organising a strong global supply chain.
Crisis or no crisis, AREVA needs the best people available to deliver the best products and services to our customers. In 2008, AREVA hired 12,000 new recruits globally. We have now, however, decided a recruitment pause. Sorry for the latecomers.
 
At the same time, we invested massively in the supply chain. In some cases, this was done through acquisitions. Two years ago, AREVA purchased Sfarsteel, one of two companies on Earth that can deliver very large, nuclear quality forgings. Sometimes also, we expanded capacities or created new factories, as I have mentioned before.
 
But in other cases yet, we chose to build long-term, strategic partnerships in order to ensure future deliveries. Let me give you a few examples of these partnerships. For convenience, I will limit myself to the news of the last six months.
 
Last October, AREVA partnered with Northrop-Grumman to build new manufacturing capacities for heavy components in Newport News, Virginia. This will be the first new nuclear manufacturing factory in North America in four decades.
 
One month later, last November, AREVA signed an agreement with Japan Steel and Works – the second company (with Sfarsteel) which knows how to produce the largest forgings of the quality required for nuclear components. JSW will give AREVA enough forging manufacturing slots for six nuclear plants each year from 2012 to 2020. We
were the first non-Japanese company ever to be invited to take a share in JSW’s capital.
 
Last December, we signed long-term partnership agreements with Rolls Royce and Balfour Beatty for the local engineering, manufacturing and construction of AREVA nuclear reactors in the United Kingdom.
 
And in February, we reached an agreement with the Indian nuclear commission to build a partnership with various Indian players for the delivery of at least two reactors in Jaitapur, Maharashtra.
 
Typically, these partnerships serve both a global and a local purpose.
 
Globally, they give AREVA’s partners an opportunity to provide highly specialised components to new builds around the world. Between us, this is already happening with Canadian companies as well. The plant that we are building in Finland has Canadian valves and a Canadian simulator. Canadian simulators are being installed in France as I speak, including one just below AREVA’s head office.
 
Locally, these partnerships allow us to build at a lower cost, and with maximum benefits for the local economies. They help us build local skills in a way that is consistent with our responsibilities as the industry leader.
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How does this apply to the Canadian situation? Well, it applies directly. Since AREVA has a strong record of partnering with local companies on other markets, I do not see why anyone could believe that the situation would be different in Canada.
 
Canada has a great nuclear tradition, especially in Ontario. Even more importantly, this country kept its skills alive when others – some of them very close to here – were letting their own industry decay in times of low demand. There are 69,000 engineers in Ontario alone, and AREVA’s database includes the resumes of 25,000 Canadian nuclear professionals. This is a very attractive situation for a company like AREVA which needs the best skills worldwide. It would therefore be absurd to believe that, were AREVA to win a reactor in Canada, anybody with nuclear skills in this country could lose their job. The exact opposite is true: we would not only need to preserve the existing skills, but to build even more of them in Canada, as we have done in the United States, China, Japan, India and so on.
 
This is even more necessary when you consider that Ontario is much more than its own market. This province is at the center of a much larger North American market. This, of course, is very convenient for me today since I am not allowed to talk about the Ontario market itself.
 
First, there is Western Canada. Some oil sand projects have been delayed recently; but I don’t think that anyone doubts that they will start again when the price of oil shoots up. These projects will require enormous amounts of energy for extraction and upgrading.
 
Last year, AREVA did a simple, but telling study. We added all the oil sands and refinery projects scheduled to come on line between now and 2030. Then, we assessed what it would cost to power these new projects with natural gas alone. This showed that powering the Alberta oil industry alone would require as much natural gas in 2030 as all of Canada consumed in 2007. This would happen just as Canadian reserves for natural gas reach their natural peak. As a result, Canada would become a net importer of natural gas 15 years from now.
 
This shows that Western Canada needs to diversify its power sources, if only to continue powering its industry when the natural gas resource dries up. I am convinced that nuclear will be part of the solution.
 
But there is also the United States. U.S utilities have already announced that they will build seven AREVA reactors. Four of these projects are already in front of the U.S safety authority, while three others have been delayed due to the current economic crisis. When this crisis is over and AREVA finds itself building two reactors or more at the same time in the U.S market alone, we will need all the help we can get – engineers, valves, electrical equipment, construction capacities … you name it. The Canadian industry would be a very valuable partner in this adventure.
 
And nuclear is not the whole of this story. AREVA believes in clean air in general, not only in nuclear. This nuclear energy should therefore be complemented by the development of renewable energy where it makes economic sense. Two years ago, AREVA acquired a majority stake in Multibrid, a wind power company based in Germany with a technological leadership for large, offshore wind turbines. Demand for these turbines largely exceeds supply, so Multibrid is now looking for a site to build a second plant for blade manufacturing and assembly in North America. A team is being set up in Canada to compare possible sites and to liaise with developers all over the continent. With its recent Clean Energy Act, Ontario showed that it was ready to commit to clean energy. I do not want to anticipate on future announcements, but I can tell you already that AREVA has taken note. And we will obviously give priority to jurisdictions where AREVA, as a whole, feels welcome.
 
The electricity industry is at the dawn of a new era – an era that promises to deliver steady, reliable, zero emissions energy to meet the growing need in both developed and developing nations. AREVA is proud to be the industry leader at this time. We look forward to helping Canada carve for itself a significant role in this growing market.

April 28, 2009 | 11:20 am

Armand Laferrère: Global Trends in the Nuclear Industry, Part I

From notes for remarks by Armand Laferrère, President and CEO of AREVA Canada, to the C.D. Howe Roundtable Luncheon, April 15, 2009

I am very glad to have this opportunity to address the largest think-tank in Ontario and to exchange views with such an impressive audience.
 
I want to say first, at the risk of disappointing some of you, that I will abide by the rules that stop all vendors from discussing the current RFP in Ontario. I am allowed to say, however, that the current Ontario process is part of a global phenomenon – that of the nuclear renaissance.
 
This renaissance has been slowed by the ongoing global economic and financial crisis. Some potential customers, such as South Africa, suddenly discovered last Fall that they had lost access to the financial markets for the financing of very large projects. Others, such as some U.S utilities, have delayed their investment plans as they felt the need to clean their balance sheets before going forward.
 
But in spite of these delays, the nuclear renaissance remains a reality. Twenty-three building sites are active as we speak: sixteen in Asia, five in Russia and two in Europe. Licensing for future projects is going ahead in the U.S, Canada and U.K, among other countries.
 
More importantly perhaps, the nuclear industry is still investing. My own company announced just last week a major investment plant to expand the capacity of existing equipment factories in Europe.
 
This is a sign of an industry which remains confident that it will have to answer a growing global demand. Part of this demand is currently delayed, to be sure. But we are used to thinking in terms of decades, not weeks or months. Whatever the current difficulties, it is a simple truth that in the next few decades, huge investment will be needed to cover the world’s energy demand. In the long term, demand for energy will continue to grow. This is a moral imperative – there is simply no way to reduce poverty in a growing world population without increasing our energy consumption. The current generation capacities will age and need replacement. The prices of fossil fuels may be low today, but oil & gas reserves are not infinite. These prices will almost certainly escalate when economic growth resumes. In the meantime, the world will keep looking for CO2-free electricity generation to reduce global warming.
 
These are all reasons why the demand for nuclear remains strong. But in order to go through an economic crisis such as the one that the world is experiencing now, demand is not enough: we need to adapt and organize to answer that demand. This is what has happened all over the world in the nuclear industry in the past few years.
First of all, we have experienced significant consolidation. Initially, this was due to the increased costs of designing and building nuclear plants that are both safer and more economical than the existing fleet – the models known as Generation 3 reactors. It took hundreds of millions of dollars to design Generation 2 reactors. The bill amounts to several billions for each Generation 3 design.
 
This means that no one can go it alone anymore. Our industry has had to give up on the quaint, outdated notion of national champions able to do everything by themselves. AREVA was created in 2001 through the merger of French, German and American companies. And in 2007, we partnered with Mitsubishi to create ATMEA, a joint-venture for new plant design and for the development of new nuclear fuels. My accent may have made you think otherwise, but the truth is that I am not representing a French company at all; I represent a multinational company headquartered in Paris. This company does not sell a French technology, but a global one. A technology that evolved out of an U.S design thanks to the common work of French and German engineers, who for our next products will be complemented by Japanese teams; and that was proven out of experience feedback from China and Finland. Out of the 102 nuclear plants that AREVA built or is currently building, only 59 are in France and the rest can be found in ten different countries over four continents.
 
And this is the only way it can be today. AREVA was not the only company to gain a global industrial foothold in the last decade; all our major competitors did. In 2006, Toshiba purchased Westinghouse, creating the third-largest nuclear company in the world, straddling the Pacific Ocean. In 2007, General Electric and Hitachi joined forces in a series of joint-ventures. This is the new face of nuclear -large multinational companies reaching across the continents, which can bring together R&D teams of thousands and invest billions of dollars in the development of new designs. AREVA spent 1.2 billion dollars in research and development last year; this does not include Mitsubishi’s share of our new reactor developments.

April 24, 2009 | 9:34 am

Revision to License Application at Eagle Rock Facility

We’ve seen some questions floating around recently – most notably by Idaho Samizdat – about AREVA Enrichment Services’ recent submission for a revision of its license application to the Nuclear Regulation Commission for the possibility to increase facility capacity. As noted yesterday, AES has requested an increase in the future licensed capacity of the Eagle Rock facility from 3.3 million separative work units (SWU) to 6.6 million SWU per year. We’d like to take this chance to explain why we’re doing this.

Quite frankly, our plans have not changed. We still intend to build a 3.3 million SWU facility. As AREVA indicated before, the plant can be expanded if market conditions favor such expansion. The expansion decision will be made in the future based on the conditions at the time. Having said that, however we have higher level of confidence in new reactor construction in the U.S. and other parts of the world, which will contribute to higher demand for enrichment. To be ready for such possibility, and to reduce time and cost for both the NRC and AREVA we decided to apply for a license for a larger facility so in case AREVA decides to expand, it would be able to so without further licensing.

The decision to leave open the possibility of expansion demonstrates our confidence in the revival of the U.S. nuclear energy sector and our commitment to making this revival a reality. We’re seeing a lot of promise in the nuclear market worldwide and we are taking the prudent steps to prepare for it.

Please don’t hesitate to comment if you’ve got any more questions… we’d be glad to answer them! This kind of dialogue is exactly what this blog is designed for.

April 23, 2009 | 3:28 pm

When It Comes to Renewables … Why Not Biomass?

By Mary Beth Ginder

trees3
There’s a lot of buzz going around lately about “Green” energy. With the Obama Administration promising big bucks to the renewable energy sector, to reduce carbon dioxide (C02) emissions, wind and solar power are getting a lot of attention. However, they are not the only renewable options—and not necessarily the best.

Biopower, the process of using biomass (organic material made of plant and animal waste) to generate electricity, is another exciting “green” option. AREVA, already a world leader in CO2-free nuclear energy, has joined the renewables sector in the United States as ADAGE, through its joint venture with Duke Energy.

Biomass energy produced by ADAGE will have the advantage of being non-intermittent (will not depend on a windy or sunny day) and will provide more electricity generation per unit than other renewable sources. While wind and solar energy create the bulk of their jobs during construction, biomass also continues to employ people during operation. With ADAGE looking to build 10-12 plants over the next six years, thousands of jobs will be created in the production of green power.

For those of you unfamiliar with biopower don’t be alarmed at the thought of using trees and organic material for power. The wood waste material that ADAGE will use is a sustainable fuel source and is locally available. ADAGE will use that waste in one of their 50 megawatt plants, turning it into electricity for 40,000 households!

It makes sense to me that if the U.S. wants an energy source that is renewable, reliable, creates long-term jobs, and helps reduce CO2 emissions, then biomass is the way to go.

April 22, 2009 | 11:17 am

Every day is Earth Day?

View of Earth from the Moon (NASA)

View of Earth from the Moon (NASA)

by Laura Clise

Earth Day made its debut on April 22, 1970, in response to the call by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson for a nationwide protest to protect the environment. What began as a statement of environmental activism, and gave birth to the U.S. EPA, is now increasingly linked to addressing economic crisis, international development and foreign policy. Environmental concerns have become increasingly a part of mainstream debate as governments and local communities around the world weigh in on topics including climate change policy, water accessibility, and deforestation. In other words, Earth Day and environmental awareness have become a lot broader than saving whales, planting trees, and recycling used cans.

The current call for a global transition to a low carbon economy presents both economic opportunities for investment in new technologies and simultaneously necessitates that countries like the U.S. make significant progress on the policy front.

The recent Ceres Conference: Achieving a Sustainable Global Economy brought together business leaders, investors, environmental and public interest organizations to examine critical domestic and international sustainability issues. A breakout discussion on, “the water energy conflict,” focused on the simple relationship between the two in a carbon-constrained world: Power uses water and water uses power. Both water and power are closely linked to climate change and have implications beyond the environmental realm.

As a leader and advocate for CO2-free power generation, AREVA is engaged in a multi-stakeholder dialogue regarding climate change, energy efficiency, and environmental impact and offers technological solutions that support the global transition to a low carbon, resource-constrained economy. Sustainable development is an integral part of AREVA’s global industrial strategy, reflected in its new enrichment facility in Idaho Falls, which will use 50 times less electricity than the previous technology and will not use water for its cooling process as well as the AREVA U.S. EPR reactor, which will save one million tons of CO2 annually compared to a coal plant.

Given the concurrent economic, energy, and environmental challenges, every day must be Earth Day. Individuals, communities, companies, organizations, and governments need to continue to integrate environmental, economic, and social sustainability into long-term growth strategies. If we relegate advocacy for environmental citizenship to a single day of awareness and activism, the consequences will negatively impact the economy, energy security, and geopolitical relations, threatening the sustainability of development around the world.

April 21, 2009 | 2:25 pm

MOX Project Will Help Remove Weapons Material, Create Clean Electricity

AREVA MOX Facility Under Construction - Aiken, South Carolina

AREVA MOX Facility Under Construction - Aiken, South Carolina

by Jarret Adams

The MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility under construction in South Carolina serves several important goals: It provides a way to remove weapons-grade material from the nation’s military stockpiles. At the same time, the mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel produced by the facility will help generate reliable, emission-free electricity for Americans.

The construction project led by Shaw AREVA MOX Services (MOX Services) has been making excellent progress over the past year and the facility is beginning to take shape. The facility is expected to begin delivering MOX fuel in 2017, and the project is on track to do just that.

However, some antinuclear groups have been spreading misinformation about the MOX Project. Conversion of weapons-grade material into MOX fuel is one of the best methods for making this material unusable for military purposes. Based on President Obama’s desire to reduce our stockpiles of this material, demand for facilities such as the MOX Project, are set to increase not decrease.

It is illogical to oppose nuclear weapons and also oppose programs, such as the MOX facility, that help dispose of nuclear weapons.

Simply put, converting weapons-grade material into fuel to generate electricity makes the nation safer. (In a similar initiative, converted Russian weapons material has been quietly supplying half of our nation’s nuclear plant fuel for years and is making the world a safer place.)

Despite what opponents of the MOX Project would like to believe, the project continues to have support of the U.S. government and the industry. MOX Services is still in negotiations with several utilities, including Duke Energy, and is confident it will have customers for the plant output well before 2017.

Opponents of the project also have characterized the experience with the lead test assemblies (LTAs) as a “failure.” Also untrue. The LTAs performed well during the first two cycles in the reactors. After the second cycle, inspectors noticed that they grew slightly more than what had been established in pre-set criteria. At no time did the MOX assemblies present a safety hazard.

The adjustments to future MOX fuel assemblies will be a minor one, according AREVA fuel experts, and can be demonstrated on uranium fuel. Our experts also believe that no repeat of the MOX LTA tests will be required.

As we have mentioned previously, AREVA has decades of experience in the production of MOX fuel at its MELOX facility in France. AREVA has many satisfied MOX fuel customers and is even winning new ones.

April 20, 2009 | 3:11 pm

Florida Power and Light Goes Live With AREVA T&D’s Distribution System

At the Distributech conference held February 2-5 in San Diego, Calif., AREVA T&D simulated a 21st century distribution control room environment, showcasing the latest in real-time management of distribution systems. The company’s e-terradistribution® software was projected onto a large mapboard, exhibiting the applications that allow utilities to configure their distribution systems to meet current and future needs.

At the Distributech conference held February 2-5 in San Diego, Calif., AREVA T&D simulated a 21st century distribution control room environment, showcasing the latest in real-time management of distribution systems. The company’s e-terradistribution® software was projected onto a large mapboard, exhibiting the applications that allow utilities to configure their distribution systems to meet current and future needs.

by Joe Adamoli

A production version of the AREVA T&D Integrated Distribution Management System based on e-terradistribution® software recently went live at Florida Power and Light Company.

Florida Power and Light Company is one of the largest investor-owned utilities in the United States. AREVA was chosen by FPL to provide a Transmission Energy Management System (EMS) and a Distribution Management System (DMS) with a common SCADA system shared by the EMS and DMS. The resulting project represents a major accomplishment (a fully Integrated Distribution Management System), and is creating a customer demand buzz, demonstration requests, and requests for quotation.

The successful delivery also satisfies two business cases by FPL: 1) replace static mapboard-based operations; and, 2) install Fault Location and Fault Isolation and Service Restoration applications.

Replacing static mapboard-based operations allows efficient operations through the consolidation of control centers, and greater flexibility in storm restoration activities.

The Fault Location application determines potential fault locations along the distribution circuits, allowing dispatchers to more effectively dispatch field crews to isolate the faulted portion of the distribution network. After the fault has been located, the Fault Isolation and Service Restoration application can be utilized to find switching plans that restore power to the largest number of customers, improving the overall distribution system reliability performance, and increasing customer satisfaction.

According to Ethan Boardman, AREVA Product Manager for DMS, the Florida Power and Light project has established a higher standard for distribution network management systems. Said Boardman, “In terms of scale, performance, and functionality it is the most aggressive distribution management system to be implemented and operational anywhere in the world. The Integrated Distribution Management System offering is being rapidly emulated by all of the competition.”

April 17, 2009 | 3:53 pm

AREVA Well Positioned to Advance Smart Grid Initiatives

smart-grid-boulder001We’d like to congratulate the Obama administration on their announcement yesterday to fund “smart grid” initiatives to develop a more efficient and secure electrical grid. We’re going to actively support the administration’s initiative by working with customers to demonstrate and deploy smart grid technology. As you may know, AREVA is a leader in the United States in the development of smart grid systems, as well as in renewable and other carbon-free energy solutions.

We’ve developed a variety of products and services to improve grid reliability, enable integration of renewables into the grid, and facilitate greater customer control over energy use. We’ve also created a special task force bringing together the capabilities of several business units, to create comprehensive solutions that will accelerate the Obama administration’s smart grid initiatives. In addition, we’re investing in R&D projects at our Center of Excellence in Redmond, Wash., which will further advance the state of smart grid technology.

“AREVA is committed to achieving the goals of the smart grid development projects. As the proven leader in Utility Grid Management Systems and with two-thirds of electric utilities in North America using AREVA equipment, our company is well positioned to help advance these important national initiatives,” said Jacques Besnainou, President of AREVA Inc.

The deployment of smart grid technologies also will allow for greater utilization of renewable energy resources, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing domestic energy security. We expect that our collaboration with electric utilities on smart grid deployment will create a significant number of new jobs across the United States.

April 16, 2009 | 10:30 am

Quote of the Day

Former New Jersey Governor and EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman, on a proposed Missouri law:

Among the greatest challenges Americans face are those choices we make now that affect our future quality of life and that of our children and grandchildren. Yet these are choices we must make, particularly when it comes to our environmental and energy future.

Missourians are now wrestling with such a choice, as decision-makers consider a law that prohibits utilities from charging ratepayers for infrastructure before projects are completed. The issue is one of financial management and how to deal with the inevitable costs associated with bringing new power into the state or upgrading the current grid…

At stake today in Missouri is a proposed nuclear reactor – along with thousands of jobs – now planned for Fulton. AmerenUE, the company considering building the new reactor, wants to gradually increase monthly bills to save ratepayers an estimated $2 billion to $3 billion in borrowing costs. As in the case of prepaying a mortgage or car loan, savings come in the form of interest costs avoided….

All these economic benefits come with an environmental payoff as well. Nuclear power is carbon free, meaning it doesn’t contribute to global warming when it is producing power. The 9.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide the existing Callaway reactor helped avoid in 2007 was equal to removing 409,000 cars from Missouri roads….

Bottom line: Any efforts to boost energy production while cutting emissions is going to require nuclear energy along with conservation and renewables. Some say it’s risky to start paying for a nuclear power plant that hasn’t yet been built.

As a former governor who worked long hours to keep and bring new jobs to my state, I am convinced it is far more risky not to invest in a cost-effective, clean energy infrastructure.