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IAEA Chief Lauds Argentine Nuclear Power Plant Start

Atucha II

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner starts the the turbine and the pumps for cooling water at the ceremony to launch the Atucha II Nuclear Power Plant in Lima, Argentina, 28 September 2011. (Photo: Comisión Nacional De Energía Atómica)

On 28 September 2011, a new nuclear power plant launched in Lima, Argentina. In his congratulatory message to the Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano commended the technological skill shown by the Argentine engineers and technicians in mastering the challenges presented by the plant's construction.

The Director General assured President Fernandez de Kirchner of the IAEA's continued support for Argentina's plans to build additional nuclear reactors to provide the needed electricity for the country's fast-growing economy.

The start-up process for Atucha II occurs at "a very significant time for the nuclear industry," Director General Amano noted. Following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, it was speculated that the expansion in the interest in nuclear power would come to an end.

"However," he said, "the IAEA's latest projections show that there will, in fact, be continuous and significant growth in the use of nuclear power in the next two decades, although at a slower rate than in our previous projections."

With increasing global demand for energy, as well as mounting concerns about climate change, volatile fossil fuel prices and energy supply security, he noted that "the factors that contributed to increasing interest in nuclear power before the Fukushima Daiichi accident have not changed."

The Director General recalled that in 1974, Argentina became the first country in Latin America to operate a nuclear power plant. "Today, once again," he said, "Argentina takes the lead in a new phase in the nuclear power generation in Latin America."

In her address at the Atucha II launch event, President Fernandez de Kirchner said that the Argentine Nuclear Plan foresees extending the Embalse Nuclear Power Plant's operational life, constructing Atucha III and the CAREM Nuclear Power Plant in order to increase the share of energy produced by nuclear power to ten percent of total national production.

Background

Atucha II is the first nuclear power plant in the country to be fully designed in Argentina. Operated by Nucleo Electrica Argentina and regulated by the Argentine Nuclear Regulatory Authority, Autoridad Regulatoria Nuclear, or ARN, the Atucha II nuclear power plant is a pressurized heavy water reactor with a capacity of 745 megawatts of electricity (MWe), providing 692 MWe net power to the national grid.

It is located on the Parana River in Lima, Argentina and adjacent to the Atucha I Nuclear Power Plant, which delivers 357 MWe to the national grid. The Embalse nuclear power plant is also in operation, providing a further 648 MWe.

In total, Argentina produces 113267.6 giga watthours of electricity (GWh(e)) of electricity, of which 6691.6 GWh(e), or 5.9%, is generated by nuclear power plants.

See Story Resources for more information.

-- By Peter Kaiser, IAEA Division of Public Information


(Note to Media: We encourage you to republish these stories and kindly request attribution to the IAEA).