New reactor empowers Argentina

30 June 2014

First power has flowed from Argentina's newest nuclear power reactor, the government said, supporting its goals for power generation diversity, fuel import reduction and 'energy sovereignty'.

Having achieved criticality early this month, the new reactor at the Atucha nuclear power plant began sending 5% of its rated power to the Argentine electricity grid on 27 June. The reactor is to ramp up its production in stages, reaching 30% this week and approaching full power within two to three months.

Atucha 2's rated power is 692 MWe and together with Atucha 1 and the reactor at Embalse it establishes Argentina's total nuclear generating capacity at around 1627 MWe. The Carem small reactor project should add a further 27 MWe by 2018.

What's in a name
Both the reactors at Atucha nuclear power plant now feature new official names celebrating past Argentinian leaders. Unit 1 is officially known as 'Atucha 1 - President Juan Domingo Perón'; while unit 2 is known as 'Atucha 2 - President Dr Néstor Carlos Kirchner'.

Speaking at the plant to celebrate the achievement of first power, Julio de Vido, the minister of planning, public investment and services, said the new reactor would diversify Argentina's energy mix and generate clean affordable energy with nuclear power. Its contribution to diversity was in line with President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner's goals to 'recover energy sovereignty,' said De Vido.

As an oil exporter, Argentina also burns the fuel to generate about 15% of its electricity. Atucha 2's electricity would avoid the burning of oil worth some $1.5 billion per year, said De Vido: "This clearly supports self-sufficiency, aims to improve the balance of foreign exchange, replaces fuel imports and fundamentally consolidates technological knowledge within Argentina."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News