- Resolution GC(42)/RES/16 requests the Director General to report on the progress made in the implementation of the resolution to the Board of Governors and the General Conference at its forty-third session. This document provides an overview of actions implemented by the Secretariat since the last General Conference concerning nuclear seawater desalination and small and medium sized reactors (SMRs).
B. NUCLEAR DESALINATION OF SEAWATER
1. International Nuclear Desalination Advisory Group (INDAG)
- INDAG is mandated to provide advice on the Agency's activities, identify important topics, provide a forum for the exchange of information, and provide advice on preparatory action for demonstration by Member States in the field of nuclear desalination. INDAG had its third meeting in June 1999 in order to review national programmes and projects in Member States and provide advice to the Agency on its programmes. Highlights of these activities in Member States presented at the meeting include the following.
Argentina updated the status of the CAREM project, which is now focusing on preparing for construction initiation as early as next year. Canada reported that a three-year project has been undertaken in order to validate its innovative reverse osmosis (RO) system design concepts. International participation is welcomed. China is proceeding with several conceptual designs of nuclear desalination which are underway for cities located at the coast of the country. Egypt has initiated a feasibility study of a nuclear desalination plant at EL-Dabaa site with the technical assistance of the Agency (EGY/4/040). France elaborated on the recent activity "EURODESAL" project, which is being initiated by 12 industrial organisations in Europe. The project has three major elements: "short-term", "medium-term" and long-term "innovative concepts". India welcomed international participation in its demonstration project at Kalpakkam on a hybrid desalination system being connected to existing PHWRs. The commissioning is foreseen for 2001/2002. Israel reported prospective construction of seawater desalination plants at various sites. Japan informed about a growing interest in seawater desalination and the establishment of a special advisory body to the Ministry of Education to assess and make recommendations on relevant R&D activities. Republic of Korea proceeded with its SMART (System-integrated Modular Advanced ReacTor) concept into the basic design phase in April 1999. Libyan Arab Jamahiriya confirmed its interest in nuclear desalination and availability of a qualified site for international utilization for nuclear desalination demonstration. Morocco is preparing for the follow-on step of its demonstration project at Tan-Tan to produce 8000 m3/d of potable water using an NHR-10 of Chinese design, after completion of the pre-project study with China in October 1998. Russia foresees construction of a nuclear floating cogeneration plant in the Arctic Sea coast area to start in 2000. The licensing activities are to be completed late this year. Saudi Arabia foresees a possible application of nuclear desalination as a solution to cope with growing demand of potable water. Tunisia is studying several methods for seawater desalination including an option of using nuclear energy in order to fill the water deficit in the southern part of the country. United States confirmed reported the availability of commercial nuclear and desalination technologies available to users, and the continued also willingness to supply training and expertise in these areas.
2. Current and Future Activities
- With a view to the effective development and practical application of nuclear technologies for producing potable water, t3. The Board in March 1998 requested the Secretariat to develop an action-oriented plan for the demonstration of nuclear desalination.he Agency's activities have been planned to reflect several interrelated objectives including assistance for demonstration projects, particularly in developing countries, safety and security aspects of desalination using nuclear energy, and promoting effective information exchange and co-operation.
- An Interregional Technical Co-operation Project on "Integrated Nuclear Power and Desalination System Design", submitted by the Government of the Republic of Korea to the Department of Technical Co-operation (TC) was approved by the Board in November 1998. The project (INT/4/134) is being planned to provide a forum for technology suppliers and prospective recipients (end users) for the joint development of integrated nuclear desalination concepts, aiming at the demonstration of the viability of nuclear desalination at a specific site. Considering the importance of the project and following the deliberations and recommendations made by the Board, the Department of TC decided to provide seed money to the project, which was initially suggested for approval as a footnote "a" project only. The project (INT/4/134) had a kick off meeting in the Republic of Korea in May 1999. Nineteen participants from 15 Member States, potential end-users and/or technology providers, participated in the meeting and exchanged information on possible collaboration in implementing nuclear desalination demonstration projects. It was stressed that serious commitments of participating organizations, financial and/or in-kind contribution, are essential for the implementation of the project. The Government of Republic of Korea confirmed its willingness to financially support the project.
- A joint pre-project study by Morocco and China on nuclear desalination was completed in October 1998 within the framework of a Technical Co-operation project (MOR/4/012). Morocco has selected a 10 MWth heat-only nuclear reactor from China for a desalination plant to be built in Tan-Tan. A co-operation agreement was signed between the Moroccan and Chinese Governments in December 1998 to implement this project.
- A Technical Co-operation project with Egypt has been initiated for a feasibility study on the construction of a nuclear desalination plant at El-Dabaa (EGY/4/040). The first expert mission was made in January 1999; project and action plans for the project have been prepared. Three additional expert missions to Egypt were made: the second mission in March 1999 identified socio-economic elements in the project for further assessment of their impacts; and the third and fourth missions in May 1999 elaborated on the selection of nuclear and desalination technologies for the project and came up with a set of specifications for detailed evaluation.
- The first Research Co-ordination Meeting (RCM) of a new Co-ordinated Research Project (CRP) on "Optimization of the Coupling of Nuclear Reactors and Desalination Systems" was held from 16 to 20 November 1998. Thirteen institutes from nine countries are participating in the CRP. The CRP covers a review of reactor designs suitable for coupling with desalination systems, the optimization of this coupling, possible performance improvements and advanced technologies of desalination systems for nuclear desalination.
- The computer spreadsheet "Co-generation and Desalination Economic Evaluation (CDEE)" has been improved and upgraded to a user-friendly software package "Desalination Economic Evaluation Programme" (DEEP, now available as version 1.1). A first concept for a new comprehensive manual for DEEP replacing Computer Manual Series No. 12 (CDEE) has been elaborated.
- Calculations have been performed for a detailed economic assessment of nuclear seawater desalination in comparison with fossil options. The IAEA software Desalination Economic Evaluation Program was used, and a draft report containing the results was compiled. The results were evaluated, with contribution of relevant analyses from the comparative assessment programme, at an Advisory Group Meeting on "Identification of Potential Improvements of Economics in Nuclear Desalination" in June 1999. The conditions under which nuclear is a competitive option for seawater desalination were described in detail and were substantiated with calculation results. The findings will be published in an IAEA TECDOC on "Economic Evaluation of Nuclear Seawater Desalination", envisaged for end of 1999.
- In order to assist Member States in their planning and implementation of nuclear desalination programmes and projects, preparation of a Guidebook on "Introduction of Nuclear Desalination" is underway. The Guidebook will comprise three major parts: (1) overview of nuclear desalination, (2) special aspects and considerations relevant to the introduction of nuclear desalination, and (3) steps to introduce nuclear desalination. The Guidebook will be submitted in 1999 for publication following its final review by INDAG at its meeting in June 1999.
- Work on safety aspects of desalination using nuclear energy is in progress in the Department of Nuclear Safety in close co-ordination with the Department of Nuclear Energy. A draft report on the safety aspects of nuclear desalination has been prepared. The report addresses the major aspects that could have an impact on safety, such as: coupling of the nuclear reactor with the desalination unit, transients, water quality and monitoring, siting and licensing. In addition, the report addresses the applicability of the IAEA Safety Standards to nuclear desalination plants and provides input to the process for their revision. A specific requirement for nuclear reactors used for desalination or other co-generation applications was included in the proposed revision of the document "Requirement for the Safety of Nuclear Power Plants: Design".
- As regards security aspects of future nuclear reactors the Department of Nuclear Energy works in collaboration with the Department of Nuclear Safeguards. On water cooled reactors, a likely option for desalination purposes, a document entitled "Design Measures to Facilitate Implementation of Safeguards at Future Water Cooled Nuclear Power Plants" has been issued in January 1999 (TRS. No.392).
- "Prospects of non-electrical applications of nuclear energy" was reviewed and discussed at a Technical Committee Meeting in April 1999 in Beijing, China, with 23 participants from 11 Member States. The Departments of Nuclear Safety and Nuclear Energy jointly organized the meeting. Nuclear heat applications were reported to be of emerging interest in Member States. Particular interest was expressed to high temperature applications of nuclear energy. A session of the meeting was devoted to safety and licensing aspects. The discussion was mainly focussed on the safety approach and the use of the Agency's Safety Standards for non-electrical applications of nuclear reactors. The proceedings will be issued as an Agency's TECDOC and the recommendation formulated during the meeting, will be considered in planning the future Agency's activity.
- Modification of the existing PRIS (Power Reactor Information System) database and associated software is in progress in order to accommodate data for heat application systems connected to nuclear power plants. A preliminary version of the extended PRIS is in the test phase and will compile collected data upon completion of acceptance testing. The completion of the modifications is foreseen for later this year.
- Publications prepared by the Agency on nuclear desalination since the last report to the General Conference in 1998 include the following:
- Nuclear Heat Applications: Design Aspects and Operating Experience, IAEA-TECDOC-1056
- Potential for Nuclear Desalination as a Possible Source of Low Cost Potable Water in North Africa, IAEA-TECDOC-917 (Arabic Version)
- Options Identification Programme for Demonstration of Nuclear Desalination, IAEA-TECDOC-898 (Arabic Version).
4. Interaction with Other Organizations
- Interaction and co-operation with other international organizations has been intensified compared to previous years. The contribution of nuclear technologies to "Freshwater Management" was reported at the 19th session of the Administrative Committee on Co-ordination (ACC) Sub-Committee on Water Resources held from 29 September to 1 October 1998. Following a direct request by the ACC Sub-Committee on Water Resources for more information, the Secretariat compiled a detailed report on "Nuclear and Fossil Seawater Desalination - Considerations and Economic Evaluation". The report provided information on nuclear desalination, an overview of worldwide activities and a summary of economic studies done to date.
- Co-operation with the Middle East Desalination Research Center (MEDRC) in Oman was continued by means of information exchange. MEDRC has suggested that some future activities be funded jointly by the Agency and MEDRC. A closer co-ordination of the Agency's and MEDRC's activities is currently being considered with the objective to make better use of available resources and to broaden the spectrum of topics covered. MEDRC also invited the Agency to describe its desalination cost evaluation software DEEP (item 5) at a MEDRC meeting. The Agency participated upon invitation in the project meeting of MEDRC in May 1999 in order to evaluate proposals on research and development projects in seawater desalination.
- The Agency has also contributed to the principal committee meeting of the Arab Atomic Energy Agency (AAEA) in March 1999 for preparing a demonstration project in the Arab region and its project planning.
C. SMALL AND MEDIUM SIZED REACTORS (SMRs)
1. Current and Future Activities
- SMRs are of particular interest for non-electrical applications of nuclear energy, such as the desalination of seawater and district heating. SMRs are also a suitable option for electricity generation in countries with small electricity grid capacities or for remotely located areas. Several activities on SMRs and nuclear seawater desalination are being undertaken jointly: A Technical Document providing guidance to developing countries on the preparation of "User Requirements Documents" for SMRs has been finalised prepared for publication. The document includes guidance to developing countries in preparing their requirements for SMRs to be used for electricity generation and other applications. Specific aspects of the preparation of user requirements for nuclear desalination plants are annexed to the document. A workshop has been held in Tunis in November 1998 to provide assistance on preparation of User Requirements Documents to professionals from the energy, water and nuclear sectors in five North African countries. The workshop was held in co-operation with the Arab Atomic Energy Agency (AAEA) under the Regional TC Project (RAF/4/013).
- Morocco is considering the nuclear power option as one of the components to meet rapidly growing national electricity requirements. The previous feasibility study, carried out with Agency assistance in 1984, based on large size units, concluded that the year 2010 would be an appropriate time for introduction of the first nuclear power plant (NPP). The Moroccan government requested Agency assistance in updating the previous Feasibility Study using SMPRs to enable introduction of nuclear power at an earlier date. In December 1998, an Agency fact-finding mission, under the TC Project "Feasibility of Small/Medium Reactors for Electricity Production (MOR/4/013)", concluded that a majority of the preparatory activities to enable the introduction of an NPP in the electricity grid of the country have been successfully completed. An IAEA expert mission is being organized in November 1999 to assist in updating the previous feasibility study.
- The Agency has obtained educational simulators (software packages) from Companies from the USA and Canada. These simulators operate on a personal computer and simulate responses of a number of reactor types in the SMR size range during operating and accident conditions. These simulators are very useful in providing insight into the operational characteristics and responses to accident conditions for BWRs, PWRs and PHWRs. They are also used for the training of junior engineers and scientists. A Technical Committee Meeting/Workshop covering training on such simulators was held in March 1998 in Trieste, Italy with 20 participants. Training in reactor simulation was also provided to 27 participants from South East Asia, Pacific and Far East Countries during a Regional Training Workshop for the Safety of Nuclear Installations held in Taejon, Republic of Korea in October 1998 and organized by the Department of Nuclear Safety in co-operation with Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI).
- A Technical Document on the staffing requirements for future small and medium reactors (SMRs) based on the projections and experience of operation is undergoing final review prior to publication. The purpose of the report is to present ways of optimizing staffing levels and improving the overall plant economics without compromising safety, based on current staffing experience and projected staffing requirements for future SMR designs.
- Operating experience from reactors used for propulsion of icebreakers and freight carriers was reviewed during an Advisory Group Meeting in July 1998. With some design modifications these small size reactors would be available either for electricity supply or for non-electrical applications such as district heating and desalination of seawater, particularly for remotely located areas. A Consultancy will be held in September 1999 in conjunction with preparation of a Technical Document on ship propulsion reactors for alternative applications is in preparation.
- The idea of applying the Agency's experience in the international co-ordination of nuclear research and development to a new international project on innovative nuclear fuel cycles and power plants has been supported in discussions during the Open-ended Round Table at the 1998 IAEA General Conference, and recent reviews of the Agency's major programmes. A Consultancy on Innovative Reactors and Fuel Cycles was held in December 1998 in Vienna to consider such an initiative and recommend further actions. A Consultancy on Objectives and Criteria for Innovative Reactors and Fuel Cycles Including Regional and National Aspects was held in May 1999 in Vienna to review, expand and prioritise objectives and criteria permitting possible assessment of nuclear fuel cycle and power plant concepts for regional needs. An Advisory Group Meeting on Development of a Strategic Plan for an International R&D Project on Innovative Nuclear Fuel Cycles and Power Plants is being planned for October 1999 in Vienna.
- Publications prepared by the Agency on SMRs since the last report to the General Conference in 1998 include the following:
- User Requirements Documents for Small and Medium Reactors and their Applications in Developing Countries: A Guide for their Preparation, IAEA-TECDOC- (in preparation)
- Staffing Requirements for Future Small and Medium Reactors (SMRs) Based on the Projections and Experience of Operation, IAEA-TECDOC- (in preparation)
3. Interaction with Other Organizations
- The International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the IAEA initiated a joint study on innovative nuclear reactor R&D. The objectives of the study, which mostly concentrates on SMRs, are:
- to describe characteristics/features of innovative nuclear fission reactor designs, that will, or appear likely to, contribute to addressing the issues facing nuclear energy, based upon information provided by research teams/designers;
- to describe ongoing R&D programmes on innovative nuclear reactor designs; and
- to identify the potential role of enhanced international co-operation in accomplishing the needed R&D.
D. FUNDING AND MANPOWER SUPPORT
- In 1999-2000, the main activities on nuclear desalination are performed in Project A.2.06 and SMR activities in Project A.2.01. Supporting activities for nuclear desalination are planned in Sub-Programmes H2 and C1, and for SMRs in A1, C1, C3 and H2. In the Agency's Draft Budget for 2000 (GOV/1999/1, 7 December, 1998), the funding for A2.01 and A2.06 has been increased compared with the approved 1999 budget by US$41000 35000 and US$17000 respectively. However, for full implementation of all activities in projects A.2.06 and A.2.01 extra-budgetary resources are required and the Secretariat has sent letters to potential donor countries asking for financial and technical support. The only support that has ahs been received so far is the provision of a junior professional by Germany. As of July 1999 no extrabudgetary funds have been pledged. This is jeopardizing the implementation of relevant tasks in the field of nuclear desalination and SMRs, which depend to 21% (project A206) and 34% (project A201) on the availability of extrabudgetary resources. Since the beginning of the nuclear desalination activities in 1989 about US$800,000 and several cost-free experts have been contributed as ecxtrabudgetary funds support to the programmes but the contributions have been continuously decreasing.
- The Committee on the Whole last year noted that the item could be considered to be on the agenda on a biennial basis. The Conference might therefore wish to decide to have this item on the agenda henceforth on a biennial basis.