Eletronuclear moves into northeast Brazil

20 August 2009

Eletronuclear, Brazil's nuclear utility, has opened an office in Recife in the northeast of the country to conduct studies into the siting of a new nuclear power plant in that region.


Brazil's National Energy Plan to 2030 specifies that 6000 MWe of nuclear capacity will be needed by that date. New sites large enough to host six 1000 MWe reactors each are to be chosen in the northeast and southeast of the country.


In the northeast, the area considered to be of interest is the coastal strip that runs between the states of Bahia to Pernambuco, through Alagoas and Sergipe. The four states have already expressed an interest in hosting the plant. Eletronuclear said that it is now commencing the preliminary studies in the region.


Eletronuclear said it is requesting that parent company Eletrobras provide resources to finance the implementation of the activities for site selection. The estimated value of the entire process is $20 million, it said. These activities should last 20 months, with the initial phase, the selection of the first candidate areas, taking about five months. The sites will then be shortlisted according to a site selection criteria.


Initially the Recife office will assist in the identification of potential sites for the construction of the first nuclear power plant in the region. It will also promote the beneficial use of nuclear energy to the public in the region. The office will be managed by the engineer Carlos Henrique Mariz.


An inauguration ceremony on 13 August to mark the opening of the Recife office, during which the president of state power company Eletrobras, José Antônio Muniz Lopes, suggested that the northeast plant should be named in honour of the late Arnaldo Barbalho, a former president of Eletrobras.


Following the inauguration ceremony, Eletronuclear held a workshop to discuss the project to build the plant. Representatives from Eletronuclear, the Brazilian Association for the Development of Nuclear Activities (Abdan), Brazil's National Commission of Nuclear Energy (CNEN), Areva and TUV Nord gave presentations discussing various aspects of the project.


Eletronuclear projects the completion of the first two northeast reactors in 2019 and 2021, and the southeast ones, near the existing Angra plant, in 2023 and 2025.


There are currently two nuclear power reactors in operation in Brazil at the Angra site with a combined generating capacity of 1896 MW. Together they provide about 3% of the country's electricity. A third unit at the Angra site was planned as the twin to Unit 2, but construction work never began despite the delivery of about 70% of the plant components. Eletronuclear is awaiting final approval to complete the 1220 MWe pressurized water reactor, which could go into commercial operation by late 2014.