Argonne’s IFR to Live Again at Point Lepreau, New Brunswick

arc100 logoARC Nuclear and New Brunswick Power (NB Power)  have agreed to work together to take the necessary steps to develop, license, and build an advanced small modular reactor (SMR) based on ARC Nuclear’s Gen IV sodium-cooled fast reactor technology.

moltex-logo_thumb.pngIn a separate second announcement, the New Brunswick Energy Solutions Corporation  announced the participation of Moltex Energy in the nuclear research cluster that will work on research and development on small modular reactor technology based on molten salt technology.

ARC-100 work with NB Power

ARC has agreed to collaborate with NB Power to work on the future deployment of the ARC-100 at NB Power’s Point Lepreau nuclear plant site and thereafter at other sites in Canada and worldwide.

The ARC-100 is a 100 MWe sodium cooled, fast flux, pool type reactor with metallic fuel that is based on the 30 year successful operation of the EBR-II reactor in Idaho.

ARC was formed to bring back and commercialize a technically mature, advanced reactor technology that was created and proven by a U.S. prototype reactor that ran successfully in the United States for 30 years which is the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) which was developed at the Argonne West field station on the Arco Desert 27 miles west of Idaho Falls, ID. ARC has made significant proprietary advances to the original EBR-II design in order to create the ARC-100.

The ARC-100 design creates a “walk away” passive safety system that insures the reactor will never melt down even in a disaster that causes a complete loss of power to the plant site. In addition, it can be fueled with the nuclear waste produced by traditional reactors, and its 20 year refueling cycle offers new levels of proliferation resistance. The firm applied for a Phase 1 Review with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission in Fall 2017.arc-100
According to the company, the ARC-100 has the following competitive factors.

  • Small Size –  Small enough that its modularized components can be shipped and installed at the site using regular commercial equipment, such as barges, rail, trucks, and construction cranes.
  • Sodium as Coolant – The use of sodium instead of water as the heat transfer agent in the reactor allows the reactor to operate at ambient pressure.  Its containment vessel is a double walled stainless steel tank rather than a 12 inch thick forged steel containment vessel required for traditional light water reactors.
  • Passive Safety – Effectively “walk away” fail safe and protection of the reactor from a melt down does not depend on extra pumps, operator intervention or any external system in the event a disaster destroys all electric power to the plant site.
  • Re-use of Nuclear Waste –  The ARC-100 can be used to recycle traditional nuclear waste and generate energy, burn or transform plutonium that could be used for weapons and eliminate the need to bury or store large quantities of nuclear waste.
  • Twenty Year Refueling Cycle – The proprietary reactor core of the ARC reactor is designed to operate for 20+ years without refueling.

It also provides a new model for nuclear power that is based on factory fabrication of modular components that can be shipped for rapid site assembly, thereby promoting the prompt start of a revenue stream.

NB Province Plans to be an SMR Technology Center

A key objective is the establishment of Canada’s New Brunswick Province as a center of excellence and the manufacturing hub for advanced SMR products based on the ARC-100 technology. The project will result in a nuclear supply chain created in the Province with well-paying jobs and substantial new economic opportunity.

“We are pleased to announce the participation of ARC, a company with significant experience and ability to make advancements in this bourgeoning sector,” said David Campbell, chair of the New Brunswick Energy Solutions Corporation.

The New Brunswick Energy Solutions Corporation is a joint venture formed in May 2017 by New Brunswick’s provincial government and NB Power, operator of the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant, to explore energy export opportunities.

The Point Lepreau site is home to a 705 MW Candu-6 nuclear reactor. In 2013 the utility spent over USD$3 billion refurbishing the reactor nearly $1 billion more than budgeted for the project. It was the first of a kind project for a Candu-6. The provincial government sued AECL for the cost overrun.  It’s clear that from this experience the utility has no interest in ever building another full size reactor at the site.

GE-Hitachi Partnership with ARC-100 Hits a New Milestone

ARC will be supported by its partner, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH), in line with their previous announcement of collaboration. The company last year signed an agreement with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) to collaborate on development and licensing, and uses proprietary technology from GEH’s PRISM reactor.

GEH has broad engineering experience, deep technical capability, and significant investment in its sodium fast reactor technology program. The ARC Nuclear team brings decades of sodium fast reactor experience to this effort.

By working together, ARC and GEH have been working to accelerate commercialization of this technology. In addition, GE has deep experience in supporting the development of energy supply chains worldwide, and GE Canada has a strong presence with over 6,500 employees and over 125 years of operations and Canada.

“We have been collaborating with ARC for more than a year and are bringing intellectual property, engineering tools and experts, rigorous quality programs, and management systems and processes, all of which are necessary for nuclear development,” said Jon Ball, Executive Vice President, Nuclear Plant Projects, GEH.

“ARC was formed to bring back and commercialize a technically mature, advanced reactor technology that was created and proven by a U.S. prototype reactor that ran successfully in the United States for 30 years,” said Don Wolf, CEO and chairman of ARC.

While there are more than 90 advanced nuclear technology and small modular reactor designs under various stages of development, ARC Nuclear and NB Power view sodium fast reactors as one of the most mature advanced reactor technology with decades of real operating experience from more than 20 previous reactors.

First Partner Announced for New Brunswick SMR project

World Nuclear News reported the announcement follows the government of New Brunswick’s commitment of CAD10 million (USD7.5 million), announced on 6/26/18 to help the New Brunswick Energy Solutions Corporation develop a nuclear research cluster in the province, which is home to the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant.

ARC will commit CAD5 million to operations and research in New Brunswick, and establish an office in St John. The move aims to position New Brunswick as a leader in the field of research and development of small modular reactor (SMR) technology.

National nuclear science and technology organization Canadian Nuclear Laboratories has set a goal of siting a new SMR on its Chalk River site by 2026. Canadian company Terrestrial Energy in June last year began a feasibility study for the siting of the first commercial Integrated Molten Salt Reactor at Chalk River.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is currently involved in pre-licensing vendor design reviews for ten small reactors with capacities in the range of 3-300 MWe.

Natural Resources Canada earlier this year launched a process to prepare a roadmap to explore the potential of on- and off-grid applications for SMR technology, aiming to position the country to become a global leader in the emerging SMR market.

On the web – Licensing the Integral Fast Reactor / ANS Nuclear Café  11/02/2011

“What we know now is that there are no technical gaps that would preclude a licensing application if using known technology. Gaps might arise if a developer chooses to use a new fuel which would need testing. That process could be completed faster if simulation and modeling tools could be brought to bear on the problem.”  – John Sackett

About ARC Nuclear

Founded in 2006, Advanced Reactor Concepts, LLC. and its Canadian subsidiary ARC Nuclear Canada Inc. are privately held companies formed with many of the nuclear energy pioneers who played key roles in the EBR-II program. Contact: Advanced Reactor Concepts LLC, Robert Braun, +1 484-354-7840, rbraun@ARCnuclear.com

Moltex to Partner in Nuclear R&D Innovation Cluster

moltex logoThe New Brunswick Energy Solutions Corporation has announced the participation of Moltex Energy in the nuclear research cluster that will work on research and development on small modular reactor technology. It is the second SMR announcement this month for the Point Lepreau nuclear power station.

Just weeks after its success in being selected as a winner in the UK government’s Advanced Modular Reactors competition, Moltex announced that it has also been selected by New Brunswick Energy Solutions Corporation and New Brunswick Power to progress development of its SSR-W (Stable Salt Reactor – Wasteburner) technology in New Brunswick, with the aim of deploying its first SSR-W at the Point Lepreau nuclear reactor site before 2030.

Moltex will commit $5 million to operations and research in New Brunswick and establish an office in Saint John. The provincial government recently announced a commitment of $10 million towards the nuclear research cluster.

“This represents the second significant private sector partner in nuclear technology, research and potential development to join the recently established nuclear research cluster at the University of New Brunswick,” said NB Power president and CEO Gaëtan Thomas.

The selection of the Moltex technology reflects its advantages. (Technical briefing – PDF file) See also this description of the molten salt technology.

moltex cutaway

Cut Away Diagram of Moltex Reactor. Image: Moltext Corp.

According the World Nuclear News, Moltex Energy’s SSR is a conceptual UK reactor design with no pumps and relies on convection from static vertical fuel tubes in the core to convey heat to the steam generators. A key element of the design is that fuel assemblies are arranged at the center of a tank half-filled with the coolant salt which transfers heat away from the fuel assemblies to the peripheral steam generators, essentially by convection.

Core temperature is 500-600°C, at atmospheric pressure. Moltex has also developed its GridReserve molten salt heat storage concept to enable the reactor to supplement intermittent renewables.  See this technical review of molten salt reactors which explains how the concept work.

Moltex has submitted both fast and thermal versions in the UK competition for SMR designs, and has applied for Phase 1 of the Vendor Design Review with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). 

According to the company, key competitive factors include:

  • Grid scale energy storage so the SSR can produce electricity at triple its reactor power for the 8 hours a day of peak demand while running the reactor itself continuously at full capacity
  • Up to eight modules can work together for up to 1200 MW.
  • Low cost conversion of spent fuel from today’s reactors into fresh fuel for the SSR, saving billions in costs of waste disposal
  • Low cost electricity, estimated at <3.5p (<5c) per kWhr when operated as baseload, and 4p (6c) when operated as a peak demand plant
  • Capital cost per kW similar to a Combined Cycle Gas Turbine plant but with far lower running costs

The long-term vision for Moltex is to build a commercial demonstration small modular reactor plant at the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station. Additionally, new advancements in energy generation, such as small modular reactors, are meant to complement the gains and partnerships being made through the province’s smart grid initiatives.

For more information contact Stephen Haighton, CEO Moltex Energy Ltd (+44) 7802 534665,  stephenhaighton@moltexenergy.com

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Japan Says Burning MOX is Key to Reduce Plutonium Stocks

Efforts to Speed Up Reactor Restarts Using MOX May Get a Boost

mox-fuel-word-cloudNuclear reactor restarts for units that can burn mixed oxide fuel (MOX) in Japan are now more likely following the release of a government energy plan that confirms that nuclear power will remain a key component of Japan’s energy strategy.

Whether the burnup of plutonium in the form of MOX, based on fabrication of it from reprocessed spent fuel, will reduce Japan’s total inventory of plutonium and calm U.S. jitters over the issue remains to be seen.

The new plan, known as the Basic Energy Plan, calls for a nuclear share of around 20-22% by 2030. Prior to the Fukushima accident, Japan generated about 30% of its electricity from nuclear and planned to increase that to 40%.

In parallel the The Ashai Shimbun newspaper reported on July 6th that in response to international concerns, the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) has a plan to reduce the nation’s plutonium stockpile by turning it into mixed oxide fuel (MOX). (Full text, 8 pagesPDF file). The plan focuses on the need for Japan to declare a “specific purpose” for all of its plutonium stocks and for peaceful uses of the material.

Basic Energy Plan

The nuclear industry group, the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF) said about 30 reactors must be brought back online to meet the target. So far only nine units have been restarted and only four of them are licensed and capable of burning MOX fuel to reduce Japan’s plutonium inventory.

In the list that follows the reactors with an asterisk (*) can burn MOX. The nine units that have been restarted in Japan since the Fukushima accident: Ohi-3, Ohi-4, Genkai-3*, Genkai-4, Sendai-1, Sendai-2, Ikata-3*, Takahama-3* and Takahama-4*.

Japanese utilities have decided to scrap 19 reactors of which 10 are in Fukushima province. The others that have been selected are older than than 40 years, have relatively low power levels, and may face high costs of bringing them into compliance with new safety standards.

NucNet reported that the plan does not make any mention of the need for building new nuclear plants. The Basic Energy Plan released by the Japanese government also strengthens the government’s commitment to giving renewables such as solar and wind power a major role in energy generation.

Also, the plan, which charts the nation’s mid- and long-term energy policy, marks the fifth in a series that is required by law to be reviewed about every three years. The plan maintains a reliance on coal-fired thermal power as a baseload energy source despite high emissions of carbon dioxide.However, it endorses using MOX fuel which is based on reprocessing spent nuclear fuel to extract plutonium to be blended with uranium.

Plan to Reduce Plutonium by Making and Burning MOX

The Ashai Shimbun newspaper reported on July 6th that in response to international concerns, the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) has released a plan to reduce the nation’s plutonium stockpile by turning it into mixed oxide fuel (MOX).

The JAEC included the goal in its latest white paper of nuclear energy utilization. The JAEC said in a white paper that using (MOX) fuel in commercial reactors is the only realistic method to reduce the stockpile. (2016 status report on plutonium management in JapanPDF file 13 pages)

The Rokkasho nuclear fuel reprocessing plant, which is under construction in Aomori Prefecture, is scheduled to be completed in the first half of fiscal 2021. It has seen repeated delays due to the complexity of the technology. Critics have asked whether it can be completed to address the problem.

Japan’s efforts to design and operate a fast reactor that would burn plutonium have not been successful more or less insuring that the MOX fuel will be fabricated for use in existing commercial reactors.  Historically, most of Japan’s MOX fuel has come from a plant in France.

The resulting mixed oxide fuel, or MOX, has an equivalent enrichment level of about 5% U235. MOX burns hotter and longer in the core than conventional fuel which is why conventional reactors limit its use to about one-third of the fuel assemblies.

The Rokkasho plant is designed to extract 8 tonnes of plutonium a year from spent nuclear fuel and reprocess it into MOX fuel. A back of the envelope calculation indicates that amount could produce about 400 PWR type MOX fuel assemblies a year.

Japan has an estimated 47 tonnes of plutonium, but according to the IAEA most of the inventory is held in the UK and France for eventual reprocessing into MOX fuel. Only about 10 tonnes are in Japan.

Assuming that a hypothetical 1000 MWe PWR core contain 193 fuel assemblies, if one third of them are swapped out for MOX assemblies, that would come to 64 MOX fuel assemblies that would be needed every 18-24 months per reactor.

The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan, which coordinates the operations of Japan’s 10 electric power companies, reportedly told JAEC that it will aim to eventually introduce the MOX fuel in 16 to 18 reactors.

Conceivably, that would generate a demand for the equivalent of (16 x 64) or approximately 1,000 PWR type MOX fuel assemblies every two years.

A key success factor for any MOX fuel fabrication plan is that it can insure reliable delivery of the MOX fuel assemblies to meet reactor outage schedules.

If in fact Japan can license and revamp and restart 16 to 18 reactors to burn MOX, the demand per refueling cycle might make a dent in the current inventory. The question is whether future reprocessing would significantly slow down the rate at which the inventory was reduced in size.

Japan Moves to Address Nonproliferation Concerns

JAEC said its plans to soon announce its new policies that will include limiting the amount of extracted plutonium to what can be consumed, as well as decreasing the amount of plutonium stored overseas.

“We need to understand and try to explain our special situation, in which we possess plutonium despite being a non-nuclear-weapon state,” said Yoshiaki Oka, chairman of JAEC.

Other countries are nervous about the size of the inventory. While the inventory is in three different places, taken as a whole, it is enough to make a huge inventory of nuclear weapons. The large stockpile of plutonium that can make atomic bombs raises security concerns across Asia.

According to June 15th, Nikkei Business Daily report, the U.S. Department of State and the National Security Council had requested that Japan trim its stockpiles ahead of an extension next month of a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement.

The chairman of the Japanese power utilities’ federation, Satoru Katsuno, who is also president of Chubu Electric Power, said in response to an inquiry from the wire service,

“Under the principle of not having plutonium with no purpose for usage, we are trying to carry out MOX (mixed oxide) fuel usage at reactors promptly. We will continue to try to curb plutonium stockpiles.”

Chubu Electric wants to use its plutonium stockpiles as fuel for its Hamaoka No.4 reactor, which has been shut pending rigorous safety checks imposed after the Fukushima disaster in 2011.

Other Japanese utility owners agreed.

“Our priority is restarting our own reactors” to use up excess plutonium, rather than sending it elsewhere, said Hokkaido Electric Power President Akihiko Mayumi in a statement to the Nikkei  Daily.

However, in the US nonproliferation experts inside the government and NGOs who follow such matters have called for Japan to stop reprocessing altogether and dispose of the surplus plutonium by other means such as a deep geologic repository or immobilization in a form from which it cannot be extracted and re-used.

JAEC Commission chairman Yoshiaki Oka told the Associated Press on July 5th  the effort to tackle the stockpile is Japan’s own initiative underscoring its commitment to a peaceful nuclear program. The U.S. has been in diplomatic dialog with Japan over the size of its plutonium inventory as it enters into what may be protracted negotiations with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.

Oka said, perhaps as a face saving measure, that he was not aware of any outstanding problem between the two countries over the plutonium issue, but that Japan is taking into consideration the importance of maintaining “relationship of trust with the U.S.”

Addendum – Another Voice on Japan’s MOX Fuel Plan

Nonproliferation expert Alan J. Kuperman, associate professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, The University of Texas at Austin, writes in Kyodo News on 7/13/18, that Japan’s plan to burn 48 tonnes of plutonium as MOX fuel in the nation’s commercial nuclear power plant “directly contradicts the lessons from a yearlong study that I recently led of all countries that have commercially used or produced MOX for thermal nuclear power plants. We found that five of the seven countries had already abandoned MOX fuel due to concerns about economics, security, and public acceptance.”

He lists four reasons why Japan’s plan will not work.

First, as pointed out above, Japan doesn’t have enough reactors to burn a big enough volume of the MOX fuel to make a dent in the overall inventory. JAEC’s plan to add 16-18 reactors to the mix depends on restarts that haven’t happened yet.

Second, he points out the plan produces new stocks of plutonium from reprocessing which “is counterproductive and . . . which would magnify not solve the problem.”

Third, he points out about half of Japan’s stockpile, 22 tonnes, is in the UK, which has offered to take ownership for a price, as it did for four other countries. If Japan took this approach, he says, it could transfer its problem to an existing nuclear power and reduce tensions over nonproliferation issues in Asia at the same time.

Fourth, some of the domestic ten tonnes of plutonium in Japan isn’t suitable for MOX. Two tonnes were previously fabricated into fuel for a now canceled type of fast reactor and won’t work in existing  LWR type plants. Further unless Japan completes its own MOX plant, it will have to rely on France to make it at a much higher cost.

Overall, Kuperman says Japan must make credible progress reducing its plutonium stockpile or risk being misinterpreted as to its intentions by other countries.

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Jordan Downsizes its Nuclear Energy Ambitions to SMRs

  • small reactorsJordan to replace a deal with Rosatom for two full size PWRs with one with South Korea for its SMART SMR design
  • Jordan cites the financial burden of funding $10 billion for the two 1000 MW Rosatom VVERs

Jordan has made it official saying in an statement on June 26th from the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) that it will not proceed with plans, inked in 2015, to partner with Rosatom to build two 1000 MW VVER type nuclear reactors which came with a $10 billion price tag.

According to the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC), the reason for the decision is that Rosatom asked for 50% private equity funding for the project. The agency said the request was an “unfavorable” financial condition and, apparently, also a deal killer. Not mentioned in the announcement was the question of where the water for the steam system would come from in the desert kingdom.

There was no special financing or discount on price for the twin reactors which came in at an “overnight price” of $5,000/Kw which is in line with current global pricing for units of this size.

“The Russians requested obtaining loans from commercial banks, which would have increased the cost of the project and the prices of generated electricity. The Jordanian government rejected the proposal,” the statement said.

Commercial loans would have made the prices of electricity generated by the proposed nuclear station uncompetitive, JAEC said.

The chairman of the JAEC, Dr. Khaled Toukan, told the news conference that the commission has abandoned the construction of a large plant and will proceed with plans to  build small reactors. He added that small reactors need less funding and are more likely to bring international investors to the table than large stations.

Focus Shifts to South Korean SMART SMR

“Jordan is now focusing on small modular reactors because the large reactors place financial burden on the Kingdom and in light of the current fiscal conditions we believe it is best to focus on smaller reactors,” Toukan told The Jordan Times.

JAEC Chairman Toukan said that Jordan is planning to focus on small modular nuclear reactors and indicated an interest on South Korea’s 100 MW SMART reactor.

He said feasibility studies are being conducted jointly by the JAEC, the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy of Saudi Arabia and the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute to build two nuclear reactors in Jordan at a total capacity of 220 megawatts.

The two system-integrated modular advanced reactors (SMART) will cost around $800 million, Toukan noted, adding that the project will be financed by the three sides involved and that Jordan has received pledges of support for the reactors.

Other SMR Deals?

Jordan has also been in talks for the past year with at least three different vendors of LWR and advanced small modular reactors. The talks include UK Rolls Royce for a to be named LWR type SMR, US based X-Energy which has a new generation of South Africa’s PBMR “pebble bed” high temperature gas cooled reactor (HTGR), and  China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) which has has an HTGR design.

In November 2017, Rolls-Royce signed a memorandum of understanding with JAEC to carry out a technical feasibility study for the construction of a Rolls-Royce SMR in Jordan. A similar agreement was also signed in November 2017 with X-Energy for electricity, water desalination and other thermal applications.

Toukan noted that the Commission is currently negotiating with China to build the same reactor that China is currently constructing in Shandong province. He added that no contract will be signed with CNNC before the actual startup of the Chinese reactor and operating it in revenue service on the grid for at least two years.

The Jordan Times reported separately that work on selecting a site for an SMR was proceeding in the Qusayer region near Azraq about 60km east of Amman. The paper reports that studies were conducted on the site by Belgium’s Tractebel, Korea Electric Power Corporation and Worley Parsons, with findings showing the suitability of the location for the facilities.

Russians Downshift as Well

The Russians, while obvious not happy with Jordan’s decision, offered to shift gears and seek the business with an as yet unanounced SMR deisgn of their own.

Evgeny Pakermanov, president of JSC Rusatom Overseas said, “The SMR technologies will certainly become one of our top priorities on the way to develop the world energy market”, he said in a statement emailed to the Jordan Times.

The cancellation of the project is the latest setback in Rosatom’s export strategy. Earlier this year private investors pulled out of a project in Turkey to build four 1200 MW VVER.  Rosatom has struggled for several years to attract investors, but Turkish construction firms, which would also build the plants, have backed out of taking an equity position in them. Their reason appears to be that the two parties were unable to agree on the rate electricity would be charged for to customers.

Last year Vietnam pulled out of a deal to acquire four 1000 MW VVER on the grounds that the cost was prohibitive due to Rosatom’s terms for equity investments. Also, Vietnam may have had a second reason, and that it could not develop the capabilities to manage the regulatory role for safety and oversight of construction and operation of the reactors.

Fuel for Reactors?

On uranium reserves in Jordan, Toukan said the Kingdom’s central region is home to 40,000 metric tonnes of uranium, which has enough yellow cake to supply Jordan’s nuclear programme for more than 100 years. He added that “the volume is expected to increase as promising excavations are under way in several areas.”

“We expect to start producing tens of kilos of yellow cake by the end of this year,” said Toukan.

His claims may require some clarification. A few years ago both Rio Tinto and Areva conducted prospecting studies of the deposits and determined they were not economically feasible for bring into production. Jordan had at one time offered to swap uranium for the cost of new nuclear reactors. The record low global price of yellowcake makes that concept unrealistic for the time being.

In any case, where ever the uranium comes from, it will have to be enriched and  fabricated into fuel elements by facilities in other countries that already have these capabilities.

UAE’s First Nuclear Reactor Start-up Delayed Again

(Reuters) The start-up of the  first nuclear reactor in the United Arab Emirates has been delayed and should start operations between the end of 2019 and early 2020, the plant’s operator said in a statement to the wire service.

“The results of Nawah’s review forecast that the loading of nuclear fuel assemblies required to commence nuclear operations at Barakah Unit 1 will occur between the end of 2019 and early 2020,” it said in the statement.

Nawah Energy Company, the operator of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant in the Al-Dhafra Region of Abu Dhabi, said it “has completed a comprehensive operational readiness review” for an updated start-up schedule for the reactor.

The IAEA participated in the operational readiness reviews (ORR) which takes place prior to fuel loading. The agency said, it had issued a total of ten recommendations and seven suggestions, as well as identifying three key observations.

These findings included the need for ENEC and Nawah to reach operational readiness before the fuel load of the first unit. The IAEA also said the UAE needs to work towards its 2016 policy on the long-term management and disposal of spent nuclear and radioactive waste. The World Nuclear News posted a report on all of the areas covered in the ORR.

A reactor operator does not load fuel in a new reactor nor seek first criticality until all ORR issues are resolved to the satisfaction of safety agencies.

“The resulting projection for the start-up of Unit 1 operations reflects the time required for the plant’s nuclear operators to complete operational readiness activities and to obtain necessary regulatory approvals,” Nawah said.

Reuters reported last March that the start-up had been pushed back to 2019 due to training delays. These delays were caused in part due to a reactor in South Korea not being available to train new staff.  The reactor had been taken out of service due to the discovery of counterfeit cables supplied by South Korean firms and installed at the power station.  The cables had to be pulled out and replaced before the training program could take place.

The first of four reactors being built by Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) in the UAE is part of the Barakah power plant project that was originally scheduled to open last year. Barakah One is a joint venture between Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) and KEPCO.

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In Congress July 4, 1776

in-congress-july-4-1776_thumb.jpg

Painting by John Trumbull, 1818. The artist’s work hangs in the Capitol Rotunda, Washington, DC.  Image source: Architect of the Capitol.

About this photo

This painting depicts the moment on June 28, 1776, when the first draft of the Declaration of Independence was presented to the Second Continental Congress. The document stated the principles for which the Revolutionary War was being fought and which remain fundamental to the nation. Less than a week later, on July 4, 1776, the Declaration was officially adopted, it was later signed on August 2, 1776.

In the central group in the painting, Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration, is shown placing the document before John Hancock, president of the Congress. With him stand the other members of the committee that created the draft: John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston and Benjamin Franklin. This event occurred in the Pennsylvania State House, now Independence Hall, in Philadelphia.

Word to Live By

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

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The full text of the Declaration courtesy of the National Archives.

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Posted in Nuclear

UK’s £200M Nuclear Deal Could Lead To First SMR

green_earth_nuclear_atom (1)The UK government has announced an ambitious £200m ($262M) funding deal with the nuclear sector that could lead to a new generation small modular reactor (SMs) to be built at an existing nuclear site in north Wales.

Of the total funding, £56m will go to help eight vendors of SMRs carry out technical studies.  Several vendors are already exploring commercial options for LWR type SMRs in the UK including Rolls Royce, NuScale, and Westinghouse. However, this money is for non-LWR type reactor technologies. The Trawsfynydd nuclear site seen as a possible location for an advanced SMR that might emerge from this work.

Rolls Royce, for one, expressed concern about the distinction.  The firm told the Financial Times on June 27 that SMR R&D should be part of a “national endeavor” and that there should not be a technological preference embedded in the government plan.

The deal, part of the country’s long-term industrial strategy, is worth over £200M. it comes on the heels of the government’s recent announcement that it has entered into negotiations with Hitachi over plans to build two 1350 MW Advanced-Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) units at Wylfa Newydd on the island of Anglesey in north Wales. The latest media reports put the level of government support for that project at £18 billion, but there is still a way to go before the parties involved sign off on a deal.

SMR for Wales

(NucNet) Alun Cairns, secretary of state for Wales, said Trawsfynydd is ready to be transformed with SMRs with little upgrade needed to the grid infrastructure.

“It’s in the right place with the right people and good links to leading academic research institutions in the nuclear sector. The kind of small reactor which could be sited in Trawsfynydd is set to usher in an era of cost-effective power with equipment put together off site and transported to locations like this for relatively easy assembly.”

Trawsfynydd, which had two 195-MW gas-cooled Magnox reactors, is on a 15-hectare site, on an inland lake in Snowdonia National Park.

Trawsfynydd was the first inland civil Magnox nuclear station. It started service in 1965 and generated 69 TWh of electricity over the 26 years until its closure in 1991.

In 2016 a committee of MPs said Trawsfynydd should be designated as a site for a first-of-its kind SMR station. They said progress should to be made soon if the UK wants to be “first to market” for SMRs.

Sizewell C Nuclear Power Station Seeks New Financial Model

The Financial Times reported (firewall) on June 26 that negotiations on the funding for the Sizewell C nuclear power station will be based on three principles.

  • Investment from the private sector
  • Using the design of the Areva/EDF EPRs being built at the Hinkley C site to reduce costs and speed up construction time
  • Insulating private investors from liability claims in the event of an accident

EDF is banking on a new financial model to bring investors to the table for the two massive nuclear reactors to be built at the Sizewell site.  UK Business Secretary Greg Clark is reported by the FT to be developing a plan whereby private investors would receive a guaranteed return on their investment called “regulated asset base” or RAB.

The RAB model has been used on other large UK infrastructure project including water treatment, roads, and electric transmission lines.

According to Clark the RAB offers investors the comfort of a long-term rate-of-return with oversight by a government watchdog.  Based on the value of the regulated asset, investors secure their returns from consumer payments.

The FT also reported that Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson, managing director of EDF in the UK is pursuing private investors for the Sizewell project.  He t0ld the newspaper that EDF and China General Nuclear (CGN) will take minority equity stakes in the project and seek “a strong UK shareholder base” for the rest of the cost which is expected to be in the range of $20-22 billion using current overnight pricing of $6500/Kw. The Sizewell project will be under significant pressure from investors and the government watchdog to control costs.

The FT reported that Alistar Ray of Dalmore Capital, which has organized a consortium of private investors to fund other infrastructure projects under the RAB model, said his group is holding talks with EDF about investing in Sizewell. Ray pointed out that Sizewell is a “greenfield” project” and that interest and the rate of return will reflect the risk associated with that fact.

Cadoux-Hudson said that he is betting the ranch on the fact that since Sizewell will be a copy of the Hinkley reactors that costs can be controlled based on lessons learned there and that the experienced management and workforce from that project could become available for Sizewell.

The government deal for £560M contains requirements for there to be a 30% reduction in the cost of the new reactors by 2030. Also, it calls for a 20% reduction in decommissioning costs of old plants by that date as well.

As a sweetener which could help Sizewell, the government plan calls for £50M to support advanced manufacturing methods for new reactors, enhancements to supply chains, and investments in innovative construction methods.  The nuclear industry has agreed to contribute an additional £12M for these programs. On the manufacturing side, Rolls Royce has strongly advocated for early implementation of factory methods to produce LWR type SMRs to get costs down to more competitive levels, e.g, in the range of $4,000/Kw or lower.

With regard to the risk of a nuclear accident, the FT reported that Vincent Zabielski of the law firm of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman said that the financing agreement would have to be set up so that banks, pension funds, and private investors are held harmless for liability in the event of an accident once the plant is in operation by the utility.

Scope of the New UK Nuclear Deal

The UK-wide deal funded by public and private money also includes (full report PDF file)

  • Up to £56m for research and development for “advanced modular reactors” not based on LWR type technologies
  • £86m UK government funding for a national fusion technology platform at Culham, Oxfordshire
  • £32m for an advanced manufacturing and construction program which includes a £12M contribution from industry. This initiative also includes a £30m fund for a new national supply chain program
  • A commitment from industry to reduce the cost of new nuclear build projects by 30% by 2030, and the cost of decommissioning old nuclear sites by 20% by 2030
  • A new review to look at ways to accelerate the clean-up of nuclear ‘legacy’ sites
  • A commitment to increasing gender diversity in the civil nuclear workforce with a target of 40% women in nuclear by 2030

GE And EDF Agree To Build Six EPRs In India

(NucNet)(WNN)  GE and French state-controlled utility EDF have agreed to form a partnership to build six reactors for a nuclear power project in western India. The partnership is the latest development in a decade old effort to get the project off the ground.

Once fully commissioned, the Jaitapur project will be the largest nuclear power station in the world, with an installed capacity of around 9,900 MW. However, it could take as long as two decades to build it out.  The project envisions building two EPRs at a time which will take six-to-eight years for each pair.

The six EPR units will be built at Jaitapur, south of Mumbai in the state of Maharashtra, GE and EDF said in a joint statement released on June 26, 2018.

EDF is to supply EPR technology for the plant. EDF will be responsible for engineering integration of the entire project, while GE Power will design the critical part of the plant and supply its main components, the companies said.

GE will also provide operational support services and a training program to meet the needs of the state-run Nuclear Power Corporation of India, the facility’s owner and operator.

EDF and GE Power said they will now define the project’s technical options, make industrial arrangements between both companies, and complete the design-engineering and procurement schedule.

World Nuclear News reported that EDF also announced two cooperation agreements with French and Indian industrial firms. EDF will hold 51% of the joint venture and will be responsible for engineering integration.  The basis for collaboration among the firms is one of the key agreements.

The second agreement, signed with Larsen & Toubro, AFCEN – the French nuclear codes and standards association – and Bureau Veritas, covers the creation of a training center to train local companies on the technical standards applicable to the manufacture of equipment for the Jaitapur project. Once trained the firms can become suppliers to the project.

India’s reluctance to proceed with the Jaitapur project has been based on concerns about costs. Areva’s experiences with cost overruns and scheudle delays in building EPRs in Finland and France have raised caution flags for NPCIL.

Orano / CNNC Begin Work On Spent Fuel Plant

French state owned nuclear group Orano and the China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) are inching toward startup of work on a spent fuel processing and recycling plant in China.  The project was first described in an MOU between China and Areva more than a decade ago to make MOX fuel from spent commercial nuclear fuel assemblies.

Reuters reported that an Orano spokeswoman said the preliminary project work would cost the French company about 20 million euros ($23.4 million) and cover in particular project management and quality control paperwork. It does not involve breaking ground for the plant.

Talks about the project are ongoing with the price being one of the remaining issues to be agreed. Negotiations about the 800 tonne/year capacity plant have underway for a decade. The two parties have not been able to agree on a price for transferring the technology.

Following a visit last January to China by French President Emmanuel Macron, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the deal would be worth 10 billion euros ($12 billion) and that France had been given assurances a contract would be signed this spring. The deadline passed without a contract. The original price for the plant was set at $15 billion.

China has recently inked a deal with Russia for MOX fuel for one of its advanced fast reactor designs. In the decision to make or buy MOX fuel, for now China has chosen the “buy” option.

In the U.S. an annual cycle of budget battles over the funding for a MOX plant in South Carolina is taking place amid massive cost overruns and delays. The plant if completed will transform 34 tonnes of surplus weapons grade plutonium into PWR type MOX fuel assemblies.

Bulgarian Gov’t Revives Belene Nuclear Project

(NucNet) Bulgaria’s cabinet has officially restarted Belene nuclear reactor project. Earlier this month Bulgaria’s parliament asked the Council of Ministers to set aside a 2012 decision putting an end to the construction of Belene.

Parliament gave a mandate to Bulgaria’s energy ministry to find ways of restarting the Belene project in cooperation with a strategic investor, but without any state guarantees.

This charter will make it a steep challenge to find private investors which are not from state owned firms like Rosatom. Russia regards Bulgaria as a captive market and the mandate to set aside state guarantees may be a signal to Rosatom the project is theirs if they want it.  US-based Westinghouse has previously refused to bid on the project.

The ministry will have until the end of October 2018 to start an investor selection procedure and present its proposals on how to restructure the project, reports said.

A two-unit nuclear station at Belene was originally planned by Bulgaria’s communist government in the 1980s but was stopped in the early 1990s because of environmental and financial concerns. The project was revived in 2008, but formally abandoned in 2012 due to uncertainties about its financial viability.

Bulgaria began looking for ways to revive Belene after it paid €600m in December 2016 in compensation to Russia’s nuclear equipment manufacturer Atomstroyexport for components which had been ordered before the project was cancelled. The question now if if Russia will return to the bargaining table and if so under what terms.

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Navy Nuclear Fuel Recycling Program Approved By Senate

  • The bipartisan proposal secured by Senators Crapo, Risch, and Whitehouse would fund a program to reuse spent naval fuel for advanced reactor technologies.
  • A pilot plant is planned to be built at the Idaho National Laboratory.
crapo us senate

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID)

The Idaho National Laboratory (INL) nuclear research effort will benefit from a $15 million pilot program secured by Idaho Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID) and James Risch (R-ID), and Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) to recycle spent naval fuel via down blending for use in advanced nuclear reactors.

The proposal by the senators was adopted this week by the full Senate on a 87-9 vote. The Senate is currently debating the Fiscal Year 2019 Energy and Water Appropriations bill.

The demonstration project would down blend high-enriched uranium (HEU) fuel to a level where it could be used in advanced nuclear reactors.  These reactors require a fuel known as high-assay low enriched uranium (HALEU), enriched to less than 20% of fissile content (U235).  The Idaho Falls Post Register reported that the HALEU could be used in advanced reactors which are also small modular reactors (SMRs) that are not based on light water (LWR) technologies.

The Senators explained their intent in a joint press release;

“Reusing higher-enriched spent HEU naval fuel produces reusable HALEU. The recycled fuel has the potential to reduce waste that would otherwise be disposed at taxpayers’ expense or require long-term repository disposal.”

There is no plan for a deep geologic repository and political battles over the fate of the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada may continue for a long time.

Pilot Program to Produce HALEU

The United States currently lacks a supply of the HALEU fuel needed to power advanced nuclear reactors.  This recycling program would, if approved and fully funded by Congress, supply fuel necessary for these reactors.

The pilot program would likely test the feasibility of the process and also serve as a basis for the eventual design of a full scale facility to be built at the Naval Reactors site at the Idaho lab.

Because the HEU fuel coming into the facility will be highly radioactive, it will have to be remote handled as it is broken up and down blended with ordinary uranium (U238) to make the HALEU. Fabrication of fuel assemblies for each unique advanced reactor design will likely be custom jobs at least for the first of a kind (FOAK) units.  Examples might include pebble bed TRISO fuel as well as fuel for MSR type designs.

Organizational and Environmental Issues

If the future unfolds this way, it will be the first major collaboration between the Naval Reactors program and DOE’s support for development of advanced commercial reactor designs.

Note that the various entities involved in the project at the Idaho site all operate under separate authorizations from Congress and with different contractors carrying out the work.  They include the R&D programs at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL)  (DOE_NE), the Naval Reactors Facility (NRF)(DOD), and the Idaho Cleanup Project (DOE-EM).  Getting the pilot project up and running will take collaboration from all of them.

In October 2016 the Associated Press reported that the Navy and U.S. Department of Energy announced plans to build a $1.6 billion facility at at the Idaho lab that would handle spent fuel from the nation’s fleet of nuclear-powered warships through at least 2060. (fact sheet). Readers can refer to a full report on Neutron Bytes here

Some of the facilities at the Naval Reactors site date back to the the Cold War era which is one reason why the government thinks that an upgrade is in order. The State of Idaho, which wants all of the spent fuel gone from the site by 2035, seemed to recognize that business as usual is the more likely scenario. A spokesman for the lab told the the AP;

“We would prefer to see a state-of-the-art facility if they’re going to continue to bring in spent fuel,” said Susan Burke, Idaho National Laboratory oversight coordinator for the state Department of Environmental Quality.

A final environmental impact statement (EIS) issued June 2015 explains the rationale for the plant. Work started with a groundbreaking for the plant in August 2017. The facility is expected to begin operation in 2024.

History of Navy Spent Fuel at Idaho

From the beginnings of the nuclear navy and until 1990 spent nuclear fuel from naval reactors was shipped to Idaho for reprocessing. The chemical plant that did that work ceased operations, but the spent fuel kept coming. Under the terms of a Federal District Court consent decree, almost all of the spent fuel must be removed from Idaho by 2035.

According to a report by the Department of Energy, the Idaho site is home to at least 14 metric tonnes of heavy metal (MTHM) fuel elements sent there by the U.S. Navy. DOE also reports other inventories of Navy fuel, but does not report the volume of fuel assemblies nor their mass nor their level of enrichment. It is likely to be a good deal more than 14 tonnes.

Since the Navy intends to use the facility through 2060, it is plausible to assume that the available inventory of HEU spent fuel will likely meet future needs of advanced reactors over the next few decades. Just add the inventory of spent fuel already at the site to the future returns from nuclear power naval vessels over the next 40 years to complete the picture.

Down blending the highly enriched (80%+ U235) uranium (HEU) fuel to just under 20% U235, or lower, but greater than 5%, would make it available for use in advanced reactors being designed by various startups in the U.S. TRISO fuel has been tested at the Idaho lab at 9% U235.

DOE has been moving the Navy fuel from wet to dry storage for the past decade.  It takes about six years according to the final EIS for the project, for the fuel to cool down enough to be moved from wet storage to dry casks. This means that there will be a six year delay between the time the spent fuel arrives at the Naval Reactors facility and the time it can be used for a down blending process. However, given the existing inventories of various kinds of spent fuel from naval; vessels, once the facility is built, it could start operations right away.

Advantages of the HALEU Program

In any case, once the spent fuel was down blended and fabricated into new new at less than 20% U235 three things would be accomplished.

  • First, the material would no longer be considered to be spent fuel since its composition had been changed, and,
  • Second, because it was now below the HEU threshold of 20%U235, it could be handled more easily in different ways including making it available for use by developers of advanced reactor designs.
  • Third, if the fuel fabrication facility is set up properly, it could produce multiple lines of nuclear fuel types, depending on markets and customer ability/willingness to pay. It would keep nuclear fuel supply chain for advanced reactors in US. Developers of advanced reactors in the US would not have to go to Russia, or China, for their fuel.

Conceivably, the HALEU would be shipped off site to where these reactors are to be built and operated.  However, some developers, like Terrestrial Energy and Transatomic Power, are considering options for locating their first of a kind reactors (FOAK) at the Idaho site.

These developers are thinking of following in the footsteps of NuScale, which has a DOE site permit at INL, to build a first of a kind light water reactor, one that uses fuel enriched to below 5% U235, for its customer UAMPS, at the Idaho lab.

If these developers locate at the INL, some of the new HALEU might never actually leave the boundaries of the federal facility and, if used in these new reactors, would eventually become a new form of spent nuclear fuel. The timeline for this process easily stretches into the next several decades and may require a modification to the consent decree.

Note this plan does not affect other forms of spent nuclear fuel also stored at the Idaho lab.

The long-term management of spent nuclear fuel at INL is constrained to a large extent by a 1995 agreement between the State of Idaho, DOE, and the U.S. Navy. The agreement and an addendum signed in 2008 specify, among other things, that;

  • DOE shall complete the transfer of all spent fuel from wet storage facilities at Idaho National Engineering Laboratory by December 31, 2023.
  • DOE shall remove all SNF, including naval spent fuel and Three Mile Island spent fuel from Idaho by January 1, 2035 and that no more than 9 MTHM of naval SNF may be kept at INL after that date.

History of Efforts to Make HALEU Available

Last January the Nuclear Energy Institute issued a white paper calling for policy changes to allow developers of advanced reactors to use HALEU.

The report tackles the lack of a pathway to high-assay low-enriched uranium (high-assay LEU) (that is, uranium enriched between 5% to 20% with fissile elements).  While there is no prohibition to commercial access to high-assay LEU, there is also no domestic source for this fuel type.

Current fuel cycle facilities are capped legally (and sometimes physically) to work with 5% or less U235 enriched LEU.  This is a bottleneck to realizing the promise of advanced reactors, as developing the infrastructure for this industry will require “a minimum of seven to nine years.”  The report recommends that DOE and NRC collaboratively take the following actions:

  • Support development of new shipping packages capable of holding high-assay LEU;
  • Develop “criticality benchmark data needed” to enable the private sector to license high-assay LEU “facilities and transport packages”;
  • Directly support the design of high-assay LEU facilities and fuel types; and
  • Issue final guidance documents on Material Control and Accountability and physical security for “Category II” facilities that contain high-assay LEU.

Also, in May 2017 Rod Adams wrote a blog post about these issues at Atomic Insights. The article includes a good summary of congressional testimony by Ashley Finan, of the Nuclear Innovation Alliance, on the need for HALEU. Note the article posted on his blog first appeared in Fuel Cycle Week published by International Nuclear Associates, Inc., Washington, DC.

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Three Western Reactors Headed for Startup in China

  • westap1000_thumb.jpgUnit 1 of the Sanmen nuclear power plant, a Westinghouse AP1000, located in China’s Zheiang province, has achieved first criticality. Update below
  • Unit 1 of the Haiyang nuclear power plant, a Westinghouse AP1000, located in China’s Shandong province, is loading its first fuel – 157 assemblies
  • Unit 1 of the Taishan nuclear power plan, an Areva EPR, located in China’s Guangdong province, will be connected to the grid in July and enter revenue service in the next 90 days. Update below

Westinghouse AP1000s

The first operating Westinghouse AP1000s are expected to enter revenue service by the end of this year. Sanmen 1 has achieved it s first criticality. It will gradually increase power and be synchronized to the grid. Hot testing was completed in 2017. Fuel was loaded in the core in late April 2018.

Westinghouse also announced that hot tests were completed on Sanmen 2 in January 2018 with fuel loading and first criticality as well as connection to the grid all scheduled for 2018.

Haiyang 1 began fuel loading this week. It is expected to start operating this year. Haiyang 2 is expected to start up in 2019.

Construction of all four reactors began in the 2009/2010 period.

Update 6/30/18:  Westinghouse Electric Company and its customers, China State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC) and CNNC Sanmen Nuclear Power Company Limited (SMNPC) announced 6/30/18 that the world’s first AP1000 nuclear power plant located in Sanmen, Zhejiang Province, China, that the plant’s turbine generator is now initially connected to the electrical grid and has begun generating electricity.

Sanmen 1 is capable of generating 1,117 megawatts of electricity when at full power. It’s also the first of a fleet of four new AP1000 plants in eastern China

Areva EPR

The first of two Areva EPRs is running and will be connected to the grid in July according to the Chinese nuclear safety agency. It achieved criticality on June 6, 2018.

The world’s first European Pressurized Reactor (EPR), in China’s Guangdong province, will be connected to the external power grid next month and will go into full operation in the third quarter of the year, China’s nuclear safety body said this week

The agency told Reuters that the plan is to connect with the external power grid in July and achieve full-power operation in the third quarter.

According to World Nuclear News the National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) said;

“Since 2013, NNSA has organized a total of over 400 person-years of various professional review missions, reviewed 13 technical documents – such as the final safety analysis report for Taishan 1 and 2 – and held four nuclear tests.”

NNSA noted that it invited nuclear regulatory authorities from France, Finland and the UK, as well as representatives from the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency, to witness inspections of Taishan 1.

Taishan 1 and 2 are the first two reactors based on the EPR design to be built in China. They are part of an EUR8.0 billion (USD$9.5 billion) contract signed by Areva and China General Nuclear (CGN) in November 2007.

The Taishan project – 140 kilometers west of Hong Kong – is owned by the Guangdong Taishan Nuclear Power Joint Venture Company Limited, a joint venture between EDF (30%) and CGN (70%).

Update 6/30/18:  China General Nuclear Power Group and EDF Group have announced 6/29/18 that unit 1 of the Taishan nuclear power plant has been connected to the grid, becoming the world’s first EPR to achieve grid connection and power generation. It is expected to enter commercial operation later this year.

CGN, EDF and Guangdong Yudian Group invested jointly in the Taishan nuclear power plant. Framatome contributed major parts of the plant’s nuclear scope including nuclear steam supply system, safety instrumentation & control, procurement and support to erection and commissioning.

Unit 1 has an installed capacity of 1660 MWe and can deliver reliable low-carbon electricity to more than four million Chinese households.

China to Open University in Tianjin to Train Engineers
for the Nation’s Nuclear Power Industry

(SCMP) Beijing plans to set up another university dedicated to nuclear power technology to address a chronic skills shortage as the country tries to develop its nuclear energy industry and reduce its reliance on coal.

China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), a state-owned nuclear power developer and operator, has signed a strategic cooperation agreement to establish a nuclear industry university with master’s and doctorate programs.

CNNC said it wanted to set up a “corporate university” to train more specialized talent and fill the huge personnel gap in the nuclear industry.

A spokesman for CNNC said the existing nuclear-related university programs “cannot satisfy the demand for talent” in fields such as nuclear power, uranium enrichment, and spent fuel management.

CNNC has also signed strategic cooperation agreements on training with at least nine other Chinese universities. Chinese colleges with nuclear technology program include Tsinghua University, Peking University and Xian Jiaotong University.

Wang Yinan, a researcher with the State Council’s Development Research Centre, told state-run tabloid Global Times that the lack of qualified personnel in the industry would threaten China’s nuclear power security.

“China has many nuclear power projects and will continue to develop, which has led to a severe shortage of nuclear talent in power plant design, engineering construction, operations and security control,” Wang said.

In addition to constructing its own nuclear power plants, China has also exported the technology to countries involved in its “Belt and Road Initiative”, including building three nuclear reactors in Pakistan. Two or three more are planned to be build in the UK and a deal is in in place that may result in building one on Argentina.

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