VBER-300Conditions for construction of a nuclear power plant (NPP) with power generating unit VBER-300 in the Mangistau region, Kazakhstan.
The importance of an NPP construction in the Mangistau region has become evident after analysis of the capacity balance in the Republic of Kazakhstan and prospects for the development of different regions - taking into account the substitution of capacities being retired.
Today the only energy source in the Mangistau region is MAEK-Kazatomprom, consisting of three heat power plants (HPP) using natural gas. HPP-1 and HPP-2 are planned for decommissioning by 2015-2016, as their operation life has expired, leaving HPP-3 the only plant supplying the region with energy, though its capacity will be nowhere near enough.
According to the power balance made up by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources of Kazakhstan, in order to meet the forecast energy requirements, in the Mangistau region, a new base energy source with a 900 МWt capacity is needed to see the region into 2030, with the first unit to be commissioned in 2015, accompanied by relevant electrical network constructions.
After the appearance of the transnational transport oil-and-gas pipeline Turkmenistan –Kazakhstan – Russia – Europe, the development of tourism and construction of the residential and administrative complex Aktau-City the load build-up in the Mangustau region will reach 300 МWt more than that planned in the balance, leading to the necessity for a capacity increase up to 1,200 МWt.
If the necessary steps on substitution of the retired capacities are not taken, as well as those for their build-up, the lack of generated capacities will be evident by 2016, affecting every aspect of Aktau regional life and the whole Mangyshlak peninsula.
Thus the region needs a new source which will compensate the retired capacities and meet the growing demand for electricity. The project also needs to be implemented beforehand to avoid an energy deficit period.
Main types of energy sources
Today there are four main types of energy sources in the world: hydroelectric power plants (HPP), heap power plants (HPP), nuclear power plants (NPP) and alternative sources. Alternative sources, however, have not been developed enough, do not give stable current on a commercial scale and can not be considered as a base source of electricity. There is no possibility of building a hydroelectric power plant in Mangistau and construction of coal heap power plant in Aktau would be unremunerative as Mangistau does not have its own coal and its transportation from the northern regions would hugely affect the cost of electricity. A heap power plant working on gas would depend too heavily on the fuel factor. The higher the price of gas the higher the cost of electricity - as the consumption of fuel at HPPs amounts to millions of cubic meters a year. A further disadvantage of gas and coal heap power plants is СО2 emission that, as scientists say, leads to global warming problem. Kazakhstan is planning to sign the Kyoto Protocol. This international agreement will raise the standards of ecological safety in the Republic to a new level. and thus Kazakhstan will reduce СО2 emission - taking care not just of its own environment, and population health, but also of such global issues as climate change for the whole planet.
There is no doubt that the nuclear power industry today is the most environmentally sound and economically attractive energy source. Nuclear power plants do not emit any harmful substance into the air unlike coal and gas energy sources. NPPs have been, for many years, recognized by the whole world as an environmentally sound energy source. If Aktau had NPP instead of heap power plants the annual СО2 emission volume would be reduced by 3 million tons, nitric acid – by 10 thousand tons. 5 million tons of oxygen absorbed today by HPPs would also be released. As the Mangistau region does not have any forest areas, oxygen compensation on account of NPPs is of great value.
The economic value from nuclear power development in Mangistau is evident. The fuel factor in the nuclear power rate is minimal. The nuclear electric-power industry does not have any explosion in rates for electricity. If the price on gas increases three times, the rate for electricity generated by heap power plants also triples. If price for uranium increases three times the cost of electricity generated by NPPs will increase by 5-6 %. This difference plays a significant role for the development of industry in the Mangistau region. Ii is clear that investment flow and stable economic growth will be seen where there is cheap energy. In this context the Mangistau region may gain significant advantages over other regions. Development of the economy will release new work positions and improve the well-being of the population.
The existing site of MAEK-Kazatomprom in Aktau has the necessary infrastructure for the construction and operation of NPPs and this will make project implementation significantly cheaper.
One more advantage of NPP is that unlike coal or gas as there is no need to deliver fuel every day. It is delivered once in five years and its volume is not large in comparison with coal. Kazakhstan can also produce fuel for its NPPs domestically. This absolute advantage will increase the energy independence of the country.
It should be noted that the nuclear fast-breeder reactor BN-350 has operated in Aktau, for more than 25 years, on the base of the Mangistau nuclear energy complex. MAEK-Kazatomprom is the only enterprise that has experience in nuclear reactor operation. Thus all conditions for the safe operation of NPPs in Kazakhstan are set and there is a qualified staff that for fifty years has provided the constant operation of BN -350 and is now dealing with reactor decommission. There are specialists from the institute of nuclear physics in place and new staff will be educated while the plant is built (this takes 8 years).
And finally the last, but no less important, factor affecting the development of nuclear energy is nuclear reactor safety. Today NPP safety is an essential condition for the development of the nuclear industry. Nuclear units today are notable for their high safety level. Reactors of the new generation are equipped by advanced systems of «passive» safety. In case of accident the operator does not need to take any action. Reactors are designed in such a way that their safe closure is made automatically.
Kazakhstan is ready for NPP’s construction and operation
Taking into consideration the technical requirements of Kazakhstan's energy system the construction of a nuclear plant with a capacity of 1,000 MW is impossible. The reason is that with fuel reload into the nuclear reactor it would be necessary to reserve the whole capacity of the plant that is 1,000 MW, from a source that is just too far away. This is economically unpractical with extended energy networks as the losses are too big. For the stability of an energy system the energy sources should be more or less evenly allotted on the territory of the country. So for Kazakhstan it is more practical not to have one source of 1,000 MW, but three sources 300 MW each. When one of them stops for reloading the other two will still be working thus providing uninterrupted energy supply.
During analysis of the world reactor market it became clear that there is no commercial variant of 300 MW reactors. Such reactors refer to low and mean capacity reactors. Foreign companies such as Westinghouse, Areva and General Eleсtric construct reactors with a capacity of at least 1,000 MW. Kazakhstan and Russia, therefore, decided to jointly design the VBER-300 reactor based on the marine reactor plant of block type.
For this purpose, within the framework of the Integrated Program of Kazakhstan-Russian cooperation in the field of using nuclear power for peaceful use, the joint stock company "Kazakhstan-Russian company “Nuclear power plants” was established on October 30th, 2006 for design and construction and promotion to world markets of the nuclear reactor with power generating units VBER-300. JSC was established on a parity basis with the participation of Kazatomprom and Atomstroyexport.
Nuclear power plant of new generation 3 + on the base of mean capacity power generating unit VBER -300
Nuclear power plant (NPP) is a complex of technical facilities for the generation of electric power by means of using the energy emitted during a controlled nuclear reaction. This controlled nuclear fission chain reaction takes place in the reactor core, where there is fuel, and is accompanied by warm emission.
VBER-300 – Water heterogeneous power reactor with a capacity of 300 MW.
VBER-300 reactor design was developed by the Russian design bureau Africantov on the basis of officially accepted and proven reactors successfully operating in Russia on nuclear submarines. The design of the reactor has more than 6000 reactor years of uninterrupted operation and has international security class 3+ , the highest in the world.
The high safety level of this reactor is provided due to the following:
- use of balanced active and passive systems;
- availability of internal self-protection features;
- use of multi-level protection principle;
- resistance to critical external and internal impact.
The reactor is unique. Usage of the VBER-300 reactor makes the work of NPP more economic and safe. Bomb attack, air-crash, plant occupation by terrorists and any other reason threatening regular operation of NPP immediately activates passive safety systems. The reactor closes immediately and stops working.
The VBER-300 safety concept is based on compliance with National Requirements of the Republic of Kazakhstan and European Union requirements and regulations as well as worldwide tendencies and IAEA and INSAG requirements for designs of high safety reactor installations.
The development of feasibility study for the construction of the first two-unit NPP with VBER-300 reactors in Aktau city, western Kazakhstan, will be completed in 2009. The first unit of Aktau NPP is planned to be constructed in 2016. Start-up of the second unit will be a year later in 2017.