Brazil backs nuclear energy

11 July 2007

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is committed to nuclear energy, starting with the completion of Angra 3.

The project to build a 1245 MWe pressurized water reactor (PWR) stalled due to a lack of funds in the late 1980s but is now the subject of a $3.6 billion completion project, following the June recommendations of the National Energy Policy Council.

Although construction never actually started, around 70% of Angra 3's components are maintained on-site. It was originally meant to be a sister plant to Angra 2, which started up in 2000. The 626 MWe Angra 1 unit was connected to the grid in 1982.

In recent years Brazil has rebuilt some of the nuclear research program begun in the 1980s, which focused on uranium enrichment and naval propulsion. In 2006 a modest uranium enrichment plant began operation at Resende. Planned to achieve 200,000 separative work units (SWUs), this could cater for about 60% of the enrichment needs of Angra 1 and 2. Brazil also holds around 4% of the world's uranium resources.

Celebrating these achievements at a navy research centre, Lula said: "Brazil can give itself the luxury of being one of the few countries in the world to control all the technology of uranium enrichment."

"Why not dream big," added Lula, before raising again the possibility of developing nuclear powered submarines.

"I believe that this project could be the embryo for all we need from the point of view of nuclear energy and from the point of view of energy production."

According to Lula, $540 million is budgeted for nuclear over eight years. The Brazilian nuclear industry hopes the new impetus could lead to the construction of up to eight new reactors by 2030.

Further information

WNA's Nuclear Power in Brazil information paper

WNN: Completion of Brazil's Angra 3 recommended
WNN: Brazil looks to new nuclear build