Siemens is Staying with Nuclear Energy

Berlin, 27.01.2000

"Siemens will continue to stay with nuclear energy, and is expecting a new up-turn in the next decade," explained Klaus Voges, the managing director of the Siemens Power Generation Group (KWU) explained today (27th January) at the Winter Conference of the German Atomic Forum in Berlin. According to Mr Voges, the planned merger between Siemens` nuclear technology activities and Framatome is promising to strengthen their competitiveness permanently on the world-wide nuclear market and to extend their presence on key markets in North America and Asia. The KWU boss assured nuclear power plant operators that the technology would be maintained and would continue to be developed, and also that his company would continue to be committed to the safe and profitable operation of their nuclear plants. At the same time, Voges appealed to the German nuclear power plant operators to facilitate the continuation of work on the joint German-French European pressurised-water reactor (EPR) so that KWU development teams and their know-how would be available when decisions are later taken to build new plants.

On the world-wide market for power plants, Voges envisages demand rising in particular for power plants fired by natural gas and coal. The liberalisation of the electricity markets and the resultant competition between power suppliers has made a radical change in the requirements the market is making on the power plant manufacturers. For one thing, power plant prices have fallen sharply, for another market requirements with regard to higher efficiency, shorter construction times, and greater guarantee obligations have risen enormously. Only strong competitors are able to suvive on the global market. By acquiring the Westinghouse business with its fossil-fuel power plants, he said, Siemens has moved up into the No. 2 position in the world-wide industry. The acquisition had been made at just the right time to profit from the current boom in power plant orders in the USA.

Given the situation in the liberalised electricity market, he added, it is not sufficient for the manufacturers to supply competitive new plants to their customers, the power-providers. It is becoming more and more the prime task of the manufacturers to provide the ways and means of increasing the competitiveness of existing plants. Such up-grading work could consist of increasing the output, lowering operating and maintenance costs, increasing operating flexibility, extending the service life, and ensuring availability. The aim, he said, is to exploit the whole of the potential that a power plant offers, and this applies just as much to fossil-fuel plants as to nuclear power plants.

The Siemens/KWU Group, according to Mr Voges, has in the last 20 years shortened the down-time that nuclear power plants need for changing fuel elements by more than 50 percent, and the servicing time for inspecting reactor pressure vessels by even more. Mr Voges said that there was a particular challenge in up-grading east European WWER reactors, and that further successful reductions in costs could be expected from long-term service contracts under which manufacturers and operators enter into a close partnership.


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