South Korean Consortium Wins UAE Reactor Deal – Bid Was $16 Billion (40%) Lower Than Areva Led Consortium
The United Arab Emirates UAE announced today that it had chosen a South Korean consortium that includes Korea Electric Power Corp., Westinghouse Electric, Hyundai Engineering and Construction, Samsung C&T Corp and Doosan Heavy Industries to supply four nuclear power plants, each producing approximately 1400 MW of electricity. The winning bid has been reported to be $16 billion less than a competing bid from a consortium led by Areva, the world’s largest nuclear plant specialty company.
It is good to know that price and schedule still matter to customers, even in a power plant bidding contest that has included a number of visits by heads of state. It appears likely that the South Korean consortium was more aggressive than its competition; this order is not the only one it expects to win.
The UAE, the world’s third-largest oil exporter, needs the nuclear power to help meet an expected rise in electricity demand to 40,000 MW in 2020 from around 15,000 MW last year, amid a petrodollar-fueled economic boom.
South Korea said it also hopes to build more plants in the UAE beyond 2020 to meet future demand.
“Considering the growth estimates in the UAE’s power demand, South Korea expects to win additional projects to build nuclear power reactors in addition to this contract for four reactors,” it said.
If the margins are a bit tight on the first project, that is apparently acceptable to the project leaders. They expect that any revenue left on the negotiating table can be made up through the expanded volume opportunities that will result from successful project completion. South Koreans have a strong development philosophy; they understand that there are a lot of learning opportunities in the early stages of deploying a new product. Based on the experiences some friends have reported after recent purchases of Hyundais and Kias, the country has some excellent quality control programs that have resulted in rapid product improvements.
Sometimes the lead customer can obtain a deal that makes up for the risks of participating in a first of a kind (FOAK) project. I regret that so many American utility companies are led by people who aggressively want to be the second customers for a proven nuclear plant. I also regret that US based vendors are not more aggressive about making early project bids that take learning opportunities into account when computing the value of winning project awards.
Quite interesting that the South Koreans are now starting to export. At least Westinghouse was in the consortium, hopefully it’ll lead to some American jobs. Good for them. I don’t think that the French should worry, though, they have more experience than anyone except for Americans, and probably have the European market locked up tightly, though it’ll be interesting to see how the competition in Great Britain works out.
Still, it’s sad that the British aren’t going to build follow-ons to continue their carbon dioxide cooled reactor and AGR heritage, as they have more experience than anyone else with that unique and promising type of plant. It’s an interesting design that worked out well enough, I seem to recall.
British designs are the only surviving gas cooled reactors. Fast reactors have not succeeded at most places due to the fire hazard sodium suffers from.
Change of gas from CO2 to inert Argon could be an easy step due to nearly the same density. If the neutron spectrum could be changed from thermal to fast, the UK with its stocks of reprocessed Plutonium and uranium could be well provided for nuclear fuel almost for ever.
With Areva looking after the transition, the UK could fruitfully follow this path.
What is going to be interesting is seeing just what sort of build times the South Korean consortium can post on an offshore project. Right now they are about the fastest on home turf, if they can keep that record for a foreign project, they will be the ones to watch on the international market.
Areva is showing that it has some internal issues when things start going sour and you can’t call the
Aaron: you’re incorrect.
FTA: “The South Korean group beat a French consortium and another group led by U.S. giant General Electric. The $20 billion Korean bid was $16 billion lower than the French group’s bid, an industry source said.”
So the French bid was $36 bn for 4 1.6 GWe reactors, or $5.60/watt; the Korean bid was $20 bn for 4 1.4 GWe reactors, around $3.50 per watt.
“In addition to the deal to design and build the plants, the Korean consortium expects to earn another $20 billion by jointly operating the reactors for 60 years.”
So the $20 bn extra is going to be for operation expenses over 60 years.
Pretty cheap – pay $40 bn, get 5.6 GW of power for 60 years.
This is the result of the hard work the Koreans put in to nuclear power in the 80s and 90s when the rest of the world was rushing into natural gas. I may be biased having worked in Korea for their Yonggwang 3 and 4 reactors, but this contract is a sign that benefits can come from “the road not taken”.
Congrats to South Korea and the UAE.
This says it all about good quality.
R. M…you worked on the Schedule 80 reactors then? Interesting. Can you expand upon Korea’s own expansion of their ambitious nuclear program? I think we’d all be interested. I noticed they have their APR-1400 with a few under construction and about 6 more planned.
The UAE uses a lot of energy for water desalination. It will be interesting to see if there are any developments in this area using nuclear energy for the UAE.
The UAE will use the nukes for three purposes (1) water desalinization replacing natural gas now used for this purpose, (2) support for aluminum smelting and finished goods production, and (3) general electricity generation also replacing natural gas now used for this purpose.
Let me get this straight? UAE is going to build nuclear power plants instead of glorified solar power plants? Mind you, this is in a country with excellent solar radiation. Obviously, the leadership in UAE is smarter than the one over the big ocean. Very smart move! Build the energy system that makes sense and sell the freed oil and natural gas to the fools with their solar and wind schemes.
I was hoping I would not live long enough to see this happen.
40 years ago, some of us power engineers were discussing a plan to cleanly convert coal to synthetic oil with the help of nuclear energy to become energy independent with left over for export. It is sad to see that oil exporting country is now going nuclear so they can supply more of our oil addiction fix for ever increasing price.
Frank, this is the single biggest motivation for Russia as well: sell more gas to the West and China instead of using it themselves. They are quite open about this and the more nuclear they have, the more gas they can sell, in theory. Of course the Russians are big exporters of nuclear plants as well so this cuts across that reason a bit. But this proves, AGAIN the getting-very-old-adage: the more nuclear you build the less fossil you use and that, Tovarich is the POINT!
134,400,000,000 Wh/d, 292 d/yr operating at pessimistic 80% capacity factor, 60 yr/lifespan, 2.354688 PWh over reactor lifespan. 2.354688 quadrillion watt hours/40 billion dollars = 1.69874e-5 dollars per watt hour. This means a price of electricity of $0.017 per kilowatt hour, with no increases for inflation.
I am assuming absolute fixed price contracts with upfront payment by the UAE.
This is cheap electricity – I suppose that if you buy in bulk, you save in bulk!
Uh…katana (motorcyle or sword?) where is the “40 billion” coming from. Right now we have 20 billion USD for 5600 MWs. 60 to 80 year life span. Can you recalculate? Inquireing minds want to know.
First, to answer a question on Korea’s nuclear expansion: they obtained tech transfer when they bought the Combustion Engineering design back in the late 80s. They incorporated the System 80+ design into their APR-1400. So far, the Koreans have made significant budget and schedule improvements by sticking to the same design and using a dedicated workforce to build and operate them. They also have the incentive in that South Korea has no access to pipeline natural gas (i.e., nuclear was competitive with LNG even in the 80s and 90s).
Second, as far as air attack, obviously they have taken into consideration North Korea and the local earthquake zones. The plants are quite robust. I would offer this is further proof that nuclear offers strong energy security (i.e., robust plants that do not need to be constantly refueled).
The UAE made a good selection. If anyone can build a set of standard plants at improved costs, it is Korea.
Just giving some feedback here on the new comment system. So far I’ve not been receiving email notifications that the thread has been updated. Anyone else with this issue?
I don’t get e-mail updates ether.
IMHO, the price difference is due to the confluence of 3 factors :
– overvaluation of euro by 20% at least,
– similar undervaluation of korean won, (if Korean contractors play with fire and do not hedge their short KRW exposure very soon, this contract may bite them hard)
– last but not least, the fact that Korean construction companies have huge receivables from construction sites in Dubai, that have been covered in extremis by Abu Dhabi. They certainly preferred to sell a construction contract with a possible loss in the future rather than showing a loss today on their Dubai contracts. Quite smart from Abu Dhabi standpoint, but not really significant as far as Areva’s offer is concerned.
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