TVEL signs package of Chinese fuel contracts

02 November 2010

Russian nuclear fuel company TVEL has signed a package of contracts which will see it supply nuclear fuel, fuel production technology and zirconium fuel components to China. The contracts relate to the Tianwan nuclear power plant.

Signing ceremony (Image: TVEL)
TVEL, JNPC and CNEIC sign contracts (Image: TVEL)


The contracts between TVEL, the Jiangsu Nuclear Power Corporation (JNPC) and the China Nuclear Energy Industry Corporation (CNEIC) are worth a total of $500 million. The first part of the package is a contract for the delivery of six reloads of TVS-2M nuclear fuel for the first unit of the Tianwan nuclear power plant. Secondly, contract documents were signed providing for the sale of production technology for TVS-2M fuel for China's Yibin fabrication plant starting with the seventh reload for Tainwan unit 2. The final component of the package comprises contracts for the supply of Russian zirconium components for the manufacture of UTVS nuclear fuel for the sixth reloads at Tianwan units 1 and 2 and for TVS-2M fuel for the seventh reload at Tianwan unit 2.
According to TVEL, the latest contracts will provide China with the more modern and cost-effective TVS-2M VVER reactor fuel, while continuing a strategic partnership that began in 1997 when the first contract was signed to supply Russian fuel for the first two Tianwan units. That contract saw TVEL supply fuel of the UTVS design for the initial cores and first three reloads for the units. The final delivery under that contract was made in March 2010. Under the 1997 contract, subsequent UTVS fuel was to be supplied by China's own Yibin plant.
China has long declared its intention to become self-sufficient not just in nuclear power plant capacity but also in the production of nuclear fuel, and as it works toward those ends it has embarked on a number of domestic projects, often in cooperation with foreign suppliers, to meet its nuclear fuel needs. China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) set up a fabrication plant to manufacture fuel for pressurised water reactors at Yibin, Sichuan province, in 1982 initially to supply the Qinshan 1 reactor. VVER fuel fabrication began at the plant in 2009, using technology transferred from TVEL, and by August 2010 a total of 54 VVER-1000 fuel assemblies had been produced and were being loaded into the Tianwan units.
According to TVEL, moving to TVS-2M fuel will allow the first two Tianwan units to operate on a longer term 18-month cycle. The two companies signed a contract for the delivery of six pilot TVS-2M fuel assemblies to be used in licensing for the new design in April 2010, with delivery scheduled for early November.
The latest contracts will see deliveries of Russian TVS-2M fuel for Tianwan 1 begin in 2014, with fuel for six reloads made at the Novosibirsk plant in Russia. TVS-2M fuel for the second unit will be made in China at Yibin using Russian technology and zirconium components.
The two VVER-1000 units at Tianwan Phase I were built by AtomStroyExport (ASE) under a cooperation agreement between China and Russia, with the units both entering commercial operation during 2007. In October 2006, ASE signed a contract to construct two more reactors at the site, with work scheduled to begin in October 2010.
Researched and written

by World Nuclear News