Last Updated 17 Feb 2021

A Study of the Conversion Options for the Bataan

Category Coal, Energy, Fuel, Nature
Words 783 (3 pages)
Views 11

Between 1993 and 1995, M. E. T. T. S. undertook a study of the options for converting the Bataan Nuclear Power Station to fossil fuel (coal or natural gas) combustion. One aim of the study was to find another market for Philippine and Australian coal or natural gas (LNG). The essential question regarding the Bataan Reactor is: how to obtain a financial return from a very expensive power station that * has never produced electricity; * is costing the Philippinec State a sizeable sum in interest; and * has environmental, safety and social concerns over its use as a nuclear power station.

The retrofitting of the turbine generator with a fossil fuel fired steam raising system was suggested as a means of utilising part of the plant, and obtaining some return for past and future expenditure. The report/proposal examined some options for fossil fuel firing, and compared those options with nuclear operation. Background The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant was completed in 1984, whilst construction commenced in 1976. It is a Westinghouse light water reactor, that uses pressurised water as it heat exchange medium between the reactor and the steam generators.

Its design thermal capacity is 1876MW(t), whilst its rated power output is 621MW(e)1. The technology that is incorporated into the plant is essentially early seventies, but has been modified to incorporate more recent safety devices, such as those recommended by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, after evaluation of the Three Mile Island incident. The plant, which was in the process of commissioning at the time of the EDSA revolution, has not been fired, although nuclear fuel was delivered to it storage facilities.

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Maintenance has continued, with the integrity of the plant and ancillaries being ensured. Conclusion of Study The Philippine Government has previously stated that the Philippines will have nuclear power, but that power will come from new plant and not the Bataan reactor. President Ramos announced on the 8th October 1994 that the Reactor would be converted to a 1000MW combined cycle gas plant. (Although an announcement for a specific conversion scheme has been made, it is still considered that there is time for other options to be considered. )

To convince Philippine Society of the seismic safety of the plant, an educational programme would need to be carried out that emphasised the sites stability, and the high seismic safety factor of the plant (0. 4g). Part of the process of refurbishment and upgrading, would be quality assurance on all systems and components of the plant. Modern QA techniques would need to be used to provide the certainty that all significant parts of the plant meet the highest safety and operational standards. Initially foreign experts would be needed to run the plant. The retraining of

Philippine staff would take considerable time and money, with the retrained staff spending a number of years assisting in operating similar plants in neighbouring countries. Economics By comparison with the costs of conversion to coal or natural gas, the refurbishment and upgrading of the plant for nuclear operation would be significantly cheaper. A maximum price of $US300m (including staff training) is a fair limit, compared to fossil fuel conversion alternatives. The nuclear option should have the shortest lag time in terms of upgrading and commissioning.

Unfortunately there is an ongoing insurgency situation in the Philippines. The insurgency problems are no longer major, and in all probability will recede. All major plant however does need a security system. The Bataan plant was constructed with good external, perimeter and internal security systems. There are commonly perceived notions that Nuclear Plants are susceptible to terrorist attack. These notions are based on a lack of understanding of the compact nature of nuclear plants, and the presence of very considerable containment structures for the reactor and fuel stores - especially American designed LWRs.

The plant is easy to guard, and would be able to resist attack with light weapons, including rocket propelled grenades etc. The damage from such an attack would be limited to the knocking out of ancillary plant and structures, including the transformer yard, the auxiliary fuel tanks and administration building. The above power cost figures are based on 1997 projected fuel prices, 12% interest, 85% availability, and 20 years amortisation. The price of coal and natural gas are considered to be more liable for major increases, than nuclear fuel.

The Asian demand for both coal and gas is expected to outstrip supply in the coming decade. The estimated construction time includes planning and design, equipment construction, site modification, plant erection and commissioning, and staff training (coal and natural gas conversion). If major ancillary works are required (eg. major wharves, ash and coal pipelines, shipping channels etc), then both an increase in the construction time and costs could be expected.

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