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EghtesadOnline: Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant in the southern namesake city has temporarily been shut down for technical overhaul, head of the plant said.

"This year's overhaul involves partial disassembly of equipment. The plant underwent full inspection and restoration last year," Hossein Ghaffari was quoted as saying by Mehr news agency on Monday.

Functioning of the plant will be suspended for 90 days and resume by May.

Detecting damaged, defective and worn-out parts as well as repair and replacement of equipment will start as soon as the nuclear feedstock is moved to a secure location, which normally takes 20 days, Financial Tribune reported.

"The plant has generated 7.2 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in the past 297 days, of which 6.6 billion kWh went to the national power grid," he said, noting that that volume of output helped curb the emission of almost 6 million tons of carbon.

According to Ghaffari, 13 experts from eight countries checked the plant over the last three weeks and agreed that the installations comply with international standards.


Prompt Action

Asked about funding issues to keep the plant up and running, he said President Hassan Rouhani has ordered prompt action in this regard.

Last week Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, told ISNA, "The plant will be shut down unless the government allocates the necessary funds."

According to Kamalvandi, the AEOI has not yet fully paid contractors who carried out last year's overhaul operations. 

He put the blame partially on foreign exchange volatility in the past several months.

"Six months ago and before fluctuations in the forex market, generating each kilowatt-hour of electricity cost 1,300 rials (1.3 cents) and it was sold to the Energy Ministry for 500 rials (about 0.5 cents. Now the same amount of power is produced at 2,000 rials (about 2 cents) but is sold at the previous price."

The difference between the two prices was compensated by the state in the past. Under the tight economic conditions and deficit spending by the government, it seems paying for the plant's expenses in the next fiscal would be difficult.

One kilowatt-hour of electricity is sold for 10 cents in international markets.

"The plant's annual generation capacity is 7.2 billion kWh, and exporting 20% of the output can generate enough revenue to meet operating costs."


Utilization Factor

According to AEOI news portal, the plant's utilization factor was 85.3% in 2017 – up 9% compared to the year before.

Utilization factor or use factor is the ratio of the time that a piece of equipment is in use compared to the total time that it could be in use.

The portal added that the nuclear plant’s load factor was 85% in 2017.  The plant has had a record of 102% load factor last May.

Iran’s sole nuclear reactor has generated over 35 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity since 2011 that is equivalent to energy produced by burning 55 million barrels of crude.

The Bushehr plant is the first civilian nuclear power project in the Middle East and operates under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

It was built by Russian assistance. The two countries signed a deal last year to build two more nuclear power stations in Bushehr off the Persian Gulf.


Iran Bushehr nuclear power plant Overhaul