Argentina's Nuclear Ambition

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"Argentina's government-run nuclear industry notorious for cost and time overruns."

Argentina's electric power generation currently employs uranium-based nuclear power generation for 6.8% of its capacity; however, the government expects that to rise to 21.1% by 2025. The goal is for nuclear power to be part of an expansion in generating capacity to meet rising demand. Since 2003, Argentina has increased its total power generation capacity by about 30% to 24,000 megawatts.

Last Tuesday, Argentina began to discuss the potential of building its fourth nuclear power plant with China National Nuclear Corp. (CNNC). Planning Minister Julio de Vido met with the head of CNNC, Mao Xiaming, to discuss the tender of construction contracts. They agreed that a Chinese delegation will travel to Argentina in August, while in September representatives from Argentina's National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA) will visit China.

In February 2010, the Argentine government signed an agreement with Rosatom to share technical information on nuclear power-plant construction and look at possibly using Russian technology in the country. In April 2010, a nuclear cooperation agreement was signed with Russia. The government plans to select the builder of a 1,500 MW plant later this year and has already identified three possible construction companies in addition to Rosatom.

Argentina's Energy Department expects the plant could come online in 20162017. The country currently has two operating nuclear power plants and a third to be completed by year-end, which is expected to generate ~700 MW to provide about 3% of Argentina's total power output. It was originally supposed to come online in 1987, but was stalled for 14 years because of political and economic obstacles. Industry analysts say that Argentina's government-run nuclear power industry is notorious for cost and time overruns. The Argentine government recently suggested it may build a fifth nuclear power plant after completing construction of its third and fourth plants.

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