New steam generators arrive at Prairie Island

29 April 2013

Areva has delivered two replacement steam generators for use in Xcel Energy's Prairie Island nuclear power plant in Minnesota.

Prairie Island steam generators (Areva) 460
The steam generators arriving at Prairie Island (Image: Areva)

The two components - each measuring 21 metres tall and weighing some 330 tonnes - were manufactured at Areva's Chalon/Saint Marcel facility in eastern France. They were transported by barge to the Mediterranean Sea, then shipped across the Atlantic Ocean and up the Mississippi River.

"These massive components represent over 600 tonnes of American energy security, and we congratulate Xcel Energy on their investment to ensure the sustained supply of safe, clean, 'round-the-clock' nuclear power from their Prairie Island facility."

Mike Rencheck
Areva Inc CEO

After a journey lasting ten weeks, the new steam generators arrived at the Prairie Island site on 11 April. They will be installed later this year during a scheduled refuelling outage.

Prairie Island consists of two pressurized water reactors. These were partly uprated in 2010 as a part of a program that was supposed to add a combined 164 MWe to the plant. Currently unit 1 is rated at 560 MWe while unit 2 is 554 MWe. In March 2012, Xcel made the recommendation to proceed with a 135 MWe uprate at a cost of some $310 million. However, in October, Xcel declared the proposed uprate unnecessary as the use of a new fuel would allow longer operating cycles, eliminating the need for two refuelling outages at each unit over their remaining lifetime.

Units 1 and 2 began life in 1973 and 1974 respectively with 40-year licences due to expire in 2013 and 2014. In June 2011, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission granted 20-year extensions for both reactors, allowing them to operate until 2033 and 2034, respectively.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News