EDF agrees to nuclear energy cooperation with Brazil

06 June 2018

French utility EDF has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Brazilian companies Centrais Elétricas Brasileiras (Eletrobras) and Eletrobras Termonuclear SA (Eletronuclear) to promote cooperation in nuclear energy. This could include participation in the completion of Angra 3 and possible follow-up projects.

Angra 3 in 2013 (Eletronuclear) 460x298
Angra 3 under construction, with 1 and 2 operating in the background
(Image: Eletronuclear)

Eletronuclear - a subsidiary of Eletrobras - announced the signing of the agreement yesterday. "According to the text, the three companies will study opportunities for EDF to collaborate with the resumption and conclusion of Angra 3 and the development of new nuclear power plants in Brazil," it said in a statement. "In addition, the French company will contribute with its expertise to the operation of the Angra 1 and 2 nuclear power plants in the prevention of the aging of materials, in the identification of the risk of equipment obsolescence, maintenance and training."

The MoU is valid for three years and may be extended for up to a further five years. The cooperation activities to be carried out under the MoU will be made through specific contracts, which will be defined at a later date, Eletronuclear noted.

In November 2017, Eletronuclear and Eletrobras signed a similar MoU with Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom to promote cooperation in nuclear power, including the possible construction of a new nuclear power plant in Brazil. Russia and Brazil signed an inter-governmental agreement on cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy in September 1994.

Two months earlier, Eletrobras and Eletronuclear signed an MoU to further promote cooperation in nuclear energy with China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC). That agreement also covered the completion of Angra unit 3 and possible follow-up projects. In 2015, Eletronuclear signed an MoU with CNNC and Eletrobras aimed at nuclear cooperation. In December 2016, Eletronuclear signed a bilateral MoU with CNNC to guide cooperation in the resumption of construction of Angra 3.

Brazil has two nuclear reactors, Angra 1 and 2, which generate about 3% of its electricity, and a third under construction. Its first commercial nuclear power reactor began operating in 1982. Four more large reactors are proposed to come on line in the 2020s.

Construction of Angra 3 originally started in 1984 on a PWR designed by German company KWU, but this faltered two years later. At that stage some 70% of the plant's equipment was said to have already been purchased and delivered to the site. A return to construction was approved in 2007, and an industrial agreement for the unit's completion was signed with Areva in December 2008.

Two Brazilian consortia were awarded contracts, one for electro-mechanical assembly associated with the reactor's primary system, the other for secondary-side work. However, following a corruption probe in mid-2015, Eletrobras suspended both contracts.

In March 2017, the government announced it planned to sell Angra 3 by 2018. The National Energy Policy Council in June last year reviewed ways to restart construction, but the government expects that it will take about five years and USD2.9 billion to complete the unit.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News