A Study of the Conversion Options for the Bataan (Philippines) Nuclear Power Station

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Introduction

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. 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.)

We found that conversion is technically possible, but economically unwise. New and dedicated coal or natural gas fired power plants would give much higher efficiencies, and thus would give the Philippines much better value per peso spent on fuel consumed. The M.E.T.T.S.'s study concluded that the only way of obtaining a reasonable return from the Bataan 'machine' is to use it as a nuclear power plant.

Our report specifically came to the following conclusions:

* That the use of the present 'nuclear' turbine/generator in a fossil fired system would be highly wasteful of energy (fuel),

* A new pulverised coal power station and/or combined cycle natural gas power stations at other site(s), would be a better investment in terms of fuel efficiency and levellised power costs,

* The Bataan site is inappropriate for coal fired plant, due to environmental constraints and materials (coal and ash) handling problems,

* More assessable sites could be found for combined cycle natural gas fired plants around Manila Bay, and Batangas,

* The Bataan reactor has been maintained in a good condition since mothballing, and

* The reactor is of basically sound design and construction, and could with modest expenditure become one of the most modern and safest light water reactors in East Asia.

To fire the plant as a nuclear facility, the sea water intakes to the condensers would need to be cleaned (with some equipment being replaced), some of the reactor monitoring systems would need to be further upgraded, whilst the second power transmission system would need to be reconstructed. Staff would need to be retrained and re-licenced.

A description of the study is presented in the...
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