Nuclear power is used
in many places of the planet

Nuclear technology is widely
spread throughout the planet

Nuclear Energy in Brazil

Nuclear energy in Brazil

In 2016, gross electricity production in Brazil was 579 TWh, including 381 TWh (66%) of hydroelectric power, 56 TWh (10%) of gas, 51 TWh (9%) of biomass and waste, 34 TWh ( 6%) of wind energy and solar energy, 26 TWh (4%) of coal, 16 TWh (3%) of nuclear and 15 TWh (3%) of oil.

The high dependence on hydroelectric energy leads to a certain climate vulnerability that is driving the policy to reduce dependence on it.

Around 40% of Brazil's electricity is produced by the national system of Eletrobrás a. About 20% of electricity comes from public utilities, and the rest comes from private companies. Private investment in nuclear energy is not allowed, although this is under review.

Development of the Nuclear Industry in Brazil

Brazil began to develop nuclear technology in 1951 under the newly created National Research Council, but it accelerated this under a military regime from 1964 to 1985. In 1970, the government decided to seek offers for an initial nuclear plant. The turnkey contract for Angra 1 was awarded to Westinghouse, and construction began in 1971 on a coastal site between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. This is now the complex of the Almirante Álvaro Alberto nuclear power plant (CNAAA) in the state of Rio de Janeiro, 130 km west of Rio.

In 1975, the government adopted a policy to be completely self-sufficient in nuclear technology and signed an agreement with West Germany for the supply of eight 1300 MWe nuclear units for 15 years. The first two (Angra 2 and 3) would be built immediately, with equipment from Kraftwerk Union (KWU) b. The rest had 90% of Brazilian content under the technology transfer agreement. To achieve this, a state-owned company Empresas Nucleares Brasileiras SA (Nuclebrás) was created with several subsidiaries focused on particular aspects of the engineering and the nuclear fuel cycle.

However, the economic problems in Brazil led to the interruption of the construction of the first two Brazilian-German reactors, and the whole program was reorganized in the late 1980s. In 1988, a new company, Indústrias Nucleares do Brasil SA (INB), took over the subsidiaries of the Nuclebrás front-end fuel cycle. The responsibility for the construction of Angra 2 and 3 was transferred to the utility company Furnas Centrais Elétricas SA (Furnas), a subsidiary of Eletrobrás. However, Nuclen, a former subsidiary of Nuclebrás that also had the participation of KWU, remained as the architect of the nuclear plant and the engineering company.

The construction of Angra 2 was resumed in 1995, with a new investment of 1,300 million dollars from the German banks, Furnas and Eletrobrás. Then, in 1997, Furnas' nuclear operations merged with Nuclen to form Eletrobrás Termonuclear SA (Eletronuclear), a new subsidiary of Eletrobrás c, and responsible for the entire construction and operation of nuclear power plants.

After reviewing the 2013 policy, in May 2015, the government said that Angra 3 would be the last nuclear power plant built as a public works project, opening the way for private capital in the following four units. of heavy equipment is still the responsibility of the former subsidiary of Nuclebrás Equipamentos Pesados SA (Nuclear Heavy Equipment, NUCLEP). Both NUCLEP and INB are subsidiaries of the National Nuclear Energy Commission (CNEN), but are administratively independent of this, and report directly to the Ministry of Science and Technology (Ministry of Science and Technology).

Eletrobrás, owner of Eletronuclear, depends on the Ministry of Mines and Energy. There is a continuing military influence on Brazil's nuclear program. Brazil is the only state without nuclear weapons in which the military leases uranium enrichment technology to the civilian nuclear program, and the navy drives technological advances in the nuclear field. Brazil is also the only state without nuclear weapons that develops a nuclear-powered submarine.

Nuclear Power Stations in Brazil

Angra 1 suffered continuous problems with its steam supply system and it closed for some time during its first years. Its lifelong load factor for the first 15 years was only 25%, but since 1999 it has been much better. The local content was around 8%.

The civil works in Angra 2 started in 1976 and, due to the lack of financial resources and lower than expected demand growth, it only started to operate at the end of 2000. The local content was around 40%.

Angra 3 Nuclear Power Plant

Angra 3 was designed to be a twin of unit 2. Work started with the project in 1984, but was discontinued in 1986 before the full construction began.

In November 2006, the government announced plans to complete Angra 3 and also build another four 1,000 megawatt (MWe) nuclear power plants from 2015 on a single site. The approval of the construction of Angra 3 was confirmed by the National Energy Policy Council of Brazil in June 2007 and received presidential approval in July.

Environmental approval was granted in March and all other approvals in July 2009. It will be essentially the same as unit 2, but with digital control and instrumentation systems. In December 2008, Eletronuclear signed an industrial cooperation agreement with Areva, confirming that Areva will complete Angra 3 and will be considered to supply additional reactors. Areva also signed a service contract for Angra 1.

The first concrete for Angra 3 was in June 2010, closely following the construction license of the National Nuclear Energy Commission (CNEN). The plant was expected to be operational by the end of 2015 after 66 months. In November 2013, in line with the 2008 agreement, it awarded Areva a contract of 1.25 billion euros (1,700 million dollars) for engineering services and components, digital instrumentation and control system, supervision of installation works and commissioning of the unit.

Two Brazilian consortia bid for installation contracts. One was for the electromechanical assembly associated with the primary reactor system, valued at around BRL 1.31 billion ($ 640 million), and another was for secondary jobs, estimated at BRL 1.67 billion ($ 816 million) . Both were granted in February 2014. Local content is estimated at around 70%.

Following a corruption investigation in mid-2015, Eletrobras suspended both contracts. In mid-2016, corruption investigations involved Eletronuclear, and then the funds ran out, work stopped and the construction schedule was carried beyond 2018. In January 2017, Eletronuclear formally canceled the electromechanical contract, rejecting the appeals from the companies Andrade Gutierrez, Camargo Correa, Queiroz Galvão, UTC, Techint, Odebrecht and EBE. The unit is 70% complete.

In December 2010, the national development bank of Brazil, BNDES, approved BRL 6.1 billion (US $ 3.6 billion) in financing for Angra 3, covering almost 60% of the then estimated cost of BRL 9 , 9 billion. In December 2012, the state bank Caixa Economica Federal agreed to lend BRL 3.8 billion ($ 1.86 billion) to Eletrobras to complete the plant. The total estimated cost was $ 7.59 billion.

At present, the construction of Angra 3 is suspended. In March 2017, the government announced that it planned to sell Angra 3 by 2018. The Deputy Minister of Energy said that Russian and Chinese investors had expressed interest, although Eletronuclear would be the operator. In July 2017, it was reported that China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) was interested, along with Rosatom, Kepco and a Mitsubishi-Areva consortium. In September 2017, an agreement was signed with CNNC to promote the construction of Angra 3 and future projects. This was followed by the signing of similar agreements with Rosatom in November 2017 and EDF in June 2018.

The National Energy Policy Council in June 2017 reviewed the ways to restart construction, but the government expects that it will take about five years to complete and that the BRL 9 billion ($ 2.9 billion) will be completed to complete the unit. . Another report places the government estimate at BRL 17 billion ($ 5.4 billion).

Economically, the energy of existing nuclear power plants at approximately $ 75 / MWh is approximately 1.5 times more expensive than that of the established hydroelectric plant, and the energy of Angra 3 is expected to be a little more expensive than the old hydroelectric power plant, approximately same as coal and energy. cheaper than gas. In general, the inclusion of Angra 3 in the projections slightly reduces the prices of the network.

Uranium Resources and Fuel Cycle

Resulting from active exploration in 1970 and 1980, Brazil has known the resources of 278,000 tons of uranium - 5% of the world total. There has been little investment in exploration since the mid-1980s.

Three main deposits are: Pocos de Caldas (state of Minas Gerais, mine closed in 1997); Lagoa Real or Caetité (state of Bahia, operative since 1999); and Itataia, now called Santa Quitéria (state of Ceará, phosphate as a co-product, planned start of production). In the 1988 constitution, the federal government reserved a monopoly on uranium resources and their development. Amendments are proposed to open uranium exploration and mining to private companies, as was done in the oil and gas sector in 1995.


Published: November 23, 2018
Last review: September 24, 2018