Hitachi Calls it Quits for UK Wylfa Nuclear Project

  • Hitachi Ends Its Engagement at Wylfa
  • Rolls Royce to Offer Mid-size Reactor as a Lifeline for Wylfa Site
  • Nuclear Essential to Hydrogen Future, says LucidCatalyst

Hitachi Calls it Quits for UK Wylfa Nuclear Project

  • UK / Hitachi Confirms Plans To Scrap Wylfa Newydd Nuclear Project
  • Company blames lack of a viable financing package from the UK Government

(NucNet) Hitachi this week announced that it is permanently scrapping plans to build two 1350 Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWR) at the Wylfa Newydd nuclear site in north Wales and at the Oldbury site.

horizon logoThe Japanese firm blamed the lack of a viable financing structure in an “increasingly severe” post-Covid investment environment. It also cited the uncertainties created by the UK government as a result of the erratic path taken by PM Boris Johnson to address the UK exit from the European Union called Brexit.

  • For the UK the decision is a first class energy policy disaster caused by indecision and a lack of political will to support the project with a feasible financial package comprised of guaranteed rates and equity investment from the government.
  • The latest decision by Hitachi is a severe blow to efforts by Tokyo to promote infrastructure exports as a key driver of economic growth.

Of six sites originally identified over a decade ago for replacements for the UK’s nearly ancient nuclear fleet, only one, Hinkley Point C, is under construction, three have been mothballed and two others are waiting approval. Hinkley, Moorside, Wylfa, Oldbury, Bradwell and Sizewell were identified as the sites for the most significant national wave of new nuclear power construction under the government of then PM David Cameron.

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Current and Planned Nuclear Power Stations in the UK. Map: BBC

The Wylfa project had an estimated cost of $16 billion for the two reactors, but some estimates reported in the news media, without substantial supporting evidence, put the price at one-third more or $24 billion. This number created a political backlash and  contributed to the UK government’s delays in approving the use of  the RAB method and equity financing for the project.

Strike Price Strikes Out

The UK government is said to have failed to offer a “strike price” for electricity that gave Hitachi’s investors a return on investment that included the “risk premium” for the long lead time to see profits from construction of the nuclear power station.

The nuclear strike price refers to the price the government will guarantee per unit of electricity produced.

Over the years successive UK governments have tried to find ways of making investment in new nuclear power plants an attractive and secure proposition – without breaking their pledge of no direct subsidies from the public sector. In effect, the UK government tried to finesse its response to climate change without changing the paradigm of building new nuclear power plants that provide CO2 emission free electricity.

As a politically expedient policy, it flew in the face of financial reality that indicated that for a large nuclear new build, only governments can take on the kinds risks that come with these projects.

In 2016 the government proposed new nuclear reactors at Hinkley in Somerset with a strike price of £92.50 per megawatt hour (Mwh) which came in for fierce criticism. At the time the wholesale price of electricity was about £44/Mwh or less than half the price of power proposed for the nuclear plant which is composed of twin 1650 MW EDF EPRs.

Financial analysts said that as a result of strong political blow back, the message for Hitachi and Horizon, its UK business unit, after this was clear. Any future strike price would have to be lower, even though the company was taking the same financial risk as EDF at Hinkley Point C.

The strike price eventually offered to Hitachi was £75/Mwh. The lower price would mean over the years billions of pounds less n return on the investment. Hitachi walked away from the project as much for this reason as any other. 

Other reasons include that the government repeatedly delayed a crucial decision regarding going forward to proceed with its Regulated Asset Base (RAB) financial investment model. The plan, which the government has not yet implemented, would have allowed future revenues to be paid upfront to the utility at guaranteed rate.

This Time They Really Mean It

Hitachi said it had now made the decision to abandon the project with no prospects of being involved in any future delivery plan.

When it first suspended the project in 2019, Hitachi kept a small staff at Horizon, its British nuclear subsidiary, and continued to push for planning permission after the government began reviewing a regulated asset base (RAB) funding model.

It limits construction risk for developers by having consumers pay upfront for a new plant through their energy bills. Horizon wanted clarity from the government on whether it could use the RAB model for Wylfa. The answer never came.

  • Horizon said that following Hitachi’s decision it will be ceasing its activities to develop projects at Wylfa Newydd and also at Oldbury-on-Severn in Gloucestershire where it was to have built twin 1350 MW ABWRS.
  • In all Hitachi’s decision will result in the cancellation of 2,700 MW of CO2 emission free power generation.

Swift Reaction Brings a Firestorm of Criticism to the UK Government

Reacting to today’s news, Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said it was disappointing news and underscored the urgent need for progress on new nuclear projects in the UK if net zero carbon emissions is to become a reality.

“Wylfa is probably the best site in the UK for new nuclear capacity, and has strong community and stakeholder support. It is imperative that a way forward is found for the site, to deliver thousands of jobs, hundreds of apprenticeships and millions of pounds of investment into an economic boost for the area while delivering secure, reliable and low-carbon power to underpin the UK’s transition to net zero.”

firestormGMB, the energy union, described the collapse of the project as “utterly predictable” and “the outcome of successive government failures to act decisively around new nuclear, and in particular how it is financed.”

“It’s no coincidence that around the world – almost without exception – it is governments who finance these projects, as they are the lender of last resort when it comes to keeping the lights on,” GMB said.

GMB added it was “bewildered” by the UK government’s de facto position of asking the private sector to shoulder the burden and long lead time of building a $16 billion nuclear power station. GMB called it “a fanciful experiment of trying to get foreign companies or governments to fund our future energy needs.”

The union says the UK needs at least six new nuclear power plants to meet the country’s future energy demands and green targets.

Cameron Gilmour, spokesman for the Sizewell C Consortium said: “This news will have serious ramifications for companies both in Wales and across the UK. The Wylfa nuclear project would have been another important milestone for the UK’s nuclear supply chain and would have created thousands of jobs.

“Unless Sizewell C, a replica of the under-construction Hinkley Point C, is given the go-ahead, there is now a serious risk to the future of the UK’s civil nuclear construction capability and the tens of thousands of jobs that go with it.”

EDF is promoting the advantages of reproducing the design of Hinkley at Sizewell. The 1650 MW EPR design had major cost and schedule overruns in France and Finland, EDF says they UK can benefit from the lessons learned from those mistakes. It also points out that the UK will benefit from transferring high skilled jobs from one site to another.

Boris Johnson’s government did not directly respond to the decision by Hitachi to quit the Wylfa project.

Rolls Royce to Offer Mid-size Reactor
as a Lifeline for Wylfa Site

(UK Construction Trade Press Reports) Rolls-Royce has floated the prospect of building the first of the next generation of compact nuclear power stations at the Wylfa site in North Wales. Rolls Royce said its power station would be able to operate for 60 years and provide 440MW of electricity, enough to power a city the size of Leeds.

Rolls-Royce, which is leading a consortium including BAM Nuttall and Laing O’Rourke, has said sites at Anglesey and Trawsfynydd could be homes to new small-scale power stations.

What Rolls-Royce says it is doing is taking commercial off the shelf components for light water reactors and bolting them together into a 440 MWe affordable package with a  focus on being competitive in terms of costs. At this size it is larger that the range normally assigned to small modular reactors (SMRs) by the IAEA.  As such it might more accurately be described as a mid-sized PWR.

rollsroyce440mw

Conceptual drawing of a Rolls Royce 440MW PWR plant. Image: Rolls Royce.

At an estimated overnight cost of $5,000/Kw, the Rolls-Royce 440 MWe unit would come in at $2.2 billion. By comparison, the proposed twin 1350 MW ABWRs for the Moorside project, led by by Japan’s Hitachi, had projected costs that some sources estimated had soared into the stratosphere from an initial estimate of $16 billion ($5925/Kw) to over $24 billion ($6,480/Kw).

The consortium calculates it can get the cost of a Rolls Royce nuclear power station producing 440 MWe to about GBP1.75 billion, ($2.29 billion)($5,200/Kw) which means being able to sell electricity at below GBP60/MWh ($78.44/MWh). Hitachi had been offered GBP75/MWh ($98.04)/Mwh) by the UK government for power from Wylfa, but walked away from it.

Challenges and Opportunities Ahead

Challenges ahead include the fact that design for the reactor must complete the complex and expensive Generic Design Assessment by the UK Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency. It takes about four years for a new reactor design to complete all the phases of the process

So far four full size nuclear reactors have completed the process including the Westinghouse AP1000, Hitachi ABWR, EDF EPR, and CGN HPR1000 aka Hualong One.

Tom Samson, interim chief executive officer of the UK SMR consortium, said: “The UK SMR consortium’s ambitions for a fleet deployment of clean, cost-effective power plants across the UK remain unchanged and we believe sites such as those at Wylfa, Trawsfynydd and in West Cumbria still have major roles to play.

“Such a program would drive industrial activity to manufacture our modular, factory-built power plants and create thousands of high-skilled jobs, both where the power stations are located and across the UK supply chain.”

By 2050, a full program of 16 power stations (7,700 MW or the equivalent of six 1350 MW ABWRs) could create 40,000 jobs and add £52bn of value to the UK economy, the government added.

Nuclear Energy is Essential to Hydrogen Future – LucidCatalyst

(WNN) Untapped options for clean hydrogen – including the use of advanced modular reactors – can put the world back on the pathway to meeting the Paris climate goals, according to a new report from energy research and consultancy firm LucidCatalyst. (Report – Large PDF file)

The report says the clean energy transition from oil to hydrogen-based fuels could be achieved with a global investment of USD $17 trillion, spent over 30 years from 2020 to 2050

The world can still meet the Paris goals of limiting temperature changes to 1.5-2°C if sufficient, low-cost, clean hydrogen is produced to replace oil and gas in shipping, aviation and industry according to the report.

“If difficult-to-decarbonize sectors continue to be ignored, the world risks experiencing increasingly extreme climate impacts.”

Renewables Can’t Do the Job Alone

The report says the amount of hydrogen required to do this is far more than can be produced with renewables alone. For this reason, a new generation of advanced modular reactors will be required to produce enough climate-neutral fuel to displace the 100 million barrels of oil that are currently consumed around the world each day.

In its report – titled ‘Missing link to a livable climate: How hydrogen-enabled synthetic fuels can help deliver the Paris goals‘ – it says new modelling results show that hydrogen must achieve a target price of USD  $0.90/kg by 2030 to enable broad scale fossil fuel substitution.

Current published projections for renewable-generated hydrogen estimate prices of USD $0.73–USD $1.64 will not be achieved before 2050. New hydrogen production facilities powered by advanced modular reactors could instead deliver at global scale for USD $1.10/kg, with further cost reductions reaching the target price of USD $0.90/kg by 2030.

Hydrogen generations and uses

Hydrogen generation and uses. Image: U.S. Department of Energy

Advanced modular reactors are the only technology that can realistically achieve this low price from electrolysis in the short to medium term according to the report. These technologies and accompanying cost reductions can enabled by a shipyard-based manufacturing and delivery model for advanced reactors. Several developers of advanced reactors are taking this approach to bringing their plants to market.

“Innovative heat sources need to be fully brought into the world’s decarbonization efforts. Therefore, for the near term we are referring to advanced modular reactors, but in the longer term, advanced heat sources could also include fusion and high-temperature geothermal.”

“This transition will not begin without urgent action by governments and other actors to bring down costs and accelerate innovation and deployment,” the report says.

It adds, “This report sets out a pathway to decarbonize a substantial portion of the global energy system, for which there is currently no viable alternative.”

“There is simply no other way to make the numbers add up,” added Kirsty Gogan, LucidCatalyst’s managing director.

“This truly is the missing link we need to maintain a livable climate on this planet.”

Can Hydrogen Save Nuclear Energy?

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Nuclear power plants can produce hydrogen in a variety of methods that would greatly reduce air emissions while taking advantage of the constant thermal energy and electricity it reliably provides.

Existing nuclear plants could produce high quality steam at lower costs than natural gas boilers and could be used in many industrial processes, including steam-methane reforming.

However, the case for nuclear becomes even more compelling when this high-quality steam is electrolyzed and split into pure hydrogen and oxygen.

A single 1,000 megawatt nuclear reactor could produce more than 200,000 tonnes of hydrogen each year.

Ten nuclear reactors could produce about 2 million tonnes annually or one-fifth of the current hydrogen used in the United States.

This process would allow utilities to produce and sell hydrogen regionally as a commodity in addition to providing clean and reliable electricity to the grid.

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TerraPower Teams with Centrus Energy to Produce HALEU Fuel

  • TerraPower and Centrus Propose HALEU Facility
  • CNL and Terrestrial Energy to Collaborate on IMSR Power Plant
  • DOE Heads North to Alaska to Work on Micro Reactors
  • UAE May Build Four More Nuclear Reactors
  • Energy Communities Alliance Launches a “New Nuclear” Initiative

TerraPower and Centrus Propose HALEU Facility

terrapower_thumb.jpgTerraPower announces plan to invest in domestic advanced nuclear fuel production to ensure U.S.-based fuel supply for advanced reactors. Will team with Centrus Energy to create domestic, commercial-scale HALEU production

TerraPower announced September 15th its plans to team with Centrus Energy Corp. (NYSE American: LEU) to establish commercial-scale, domestic production capabilities for high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU), which will be needed to fuel many next-generation reactor designs.

The fuel would be used by the recently announced Natrium Power Storage System designed by TerraPower and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy.

The proposed investment is part of the TerraPower-led proposal for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP), which is intended to support the deployment of two first-of-a-kind advanced reactor designs in the next five to seven years.

The ARDP requires applicants to “establish a plan by which they would obtain the fuel/special nuclear material needed for their projects.”

The TerraPower application proposes that, if selected for ARDP, the company would work with Centrus to build commercial-scale capacity to produce HALEU and fabricate it into metal fuel assemblies. HALEU, which is not commercially available today, offers improved reactor economics, greater fuel efficiency, enhanced safety and proliferation resistance, lower volumes of waste and other advantages.

terra power ge hitachiThe first year of scope initiates the facility’s design and licensing and involves detailed planning and cost estimating for implementation of the new infrastructure and production.

The Natrium reactor technology employs a metal fuel form that is not currently available from any U.S. commercial nuclear fuel supplier. This contract will close the gap in metal-specific fabrication infrastructure and meet growing HALEU needs.

“We are investing in American capability because it offers advantages related to assured domestic supply for the Natrium technology’s long-term commercialization prospects,” said Chris Levesque, TerraPower President and CEO.

“By catalyzing commercial-scale HALEU production, the proposed investment would put America in the leadership position when it comes to fueling the advanced reactors of tomorrow,” said Daniel B. Poneman, Centrus President and CEO.

“This partnership with TerraPower would enable us to expand beyond demonstration scale and we have more than enough room at the Ohio plant to continue expanding uranium enrichment and fuel fabrication capability as demand grows and the market matures.”

Centrus Energy is currently working under a three-year, $115 million cost-shared contract with the Department of Energy to deploy 16 of its AC-100M centrifuges at its Piketon, Ohio, facility to demonstrate HALEU production. Once the demonstration is complete in mid-2022, TerraPower would work with Centrus to expand the plant to meet the fuel requirements of the Natrium demonstration reactor.

HALEU is Number 1 “Keep Awake” Issue for Developers of Advanced Reactors

In a survey of America’s advanced reactor developers conducted by the U.S. Nuclear Industry Council, the availability of HALEU was cited as the number one issue that “keeps you up at night.”

The Department of Energy’s U.S. Nuclear Fuel Working Group report also identified HALEU production capability as a key priority in restoring U.S. leadership in nuclear technologies, and bills supporting HALEU have passed the House of Representatives and received bipartisan support in the Senate.

TerraPower and Centrus Make Plans Beyond DOE Contract

To ensure that both the reactor can be commercialized within five to seven years and that new HALEU production capacity can be built, the Natrium proposal includes additional private investment levels, beyond the 50% cost share minimum required by the Department of Energy for ARDP demonstration reactors.

This additional investment will be used to build HALEU infrastructure that can benefit the large number of advanced reactor developers planning on using HALEU.

In addition to creating HALEU production capacity, TerraPower and its partners plan to establish a new Category II metal fuel fabrication facility that is scaled to meet the needs of the Natrium demonstration program.

The facility will include the capability to manufacture the Natrium technology’s advanced metal fuel forms that will be included as lead test assemblies in the demonstration plant. Specific terms of the agreement have not been disclosed.

CNL and Terrestrial Energy to Collaborate on IMSR Power Plant

Terrestrial Energy announced an agreement with Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) to collaborate on a program of work evaluating safeguards related to the operation of Terrestrial Energy’s Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR), a Generation IV advanced nuclear power plant.

pathways to uses of IMSRThe work will involve establishing material accounting methods to track the IMSR’s nuclear fuel salt and is being supported by CNL’s Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative (CNRI). The CNRI was launched in 2019 to support the deployment and advance the commercialization of SMRs, as envisioned in Canada’s SMR Roadmap, by using the facilities and expertise within Canada’s national nuclear laboratories.

“Safeguards” is an international regulatory framework that ensures the security of nuclear material. This system is administered in Canada by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and verified internationally by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) under national treaty arrangements.

Terrestrial Energy has developed a Safeguards program for the IMSR power plant operation. These Safeguards follow Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) regulatory requirements on Safeguards and nuclear material accountancy.

“The CNRI program was established to make our facilities and researchers easily accessible to SMR developers, such as Terrestrial Energy, so that we can help support deployment of these technologies,” said Joe McBrearty, CNL’s President and CEO.

“This CNRI-supported project will help to enable Terrestrial Energy’s IMSR Safeguard program and methods, which are essential for regulatory approval.”

“CNL has a long and reputed history delivering world-class services to the nuclear industry, and we intend to leverage this expertise as part of our supply chain strategy,” said Simon Irish, CEO of Terrestrial Energy.

The IMSR’s molten salt fuel cycle has been designed to meet the stringent nuclear safety, performance, and reliability requirements for IMSR power plant operation. The collaboration agreement between CNL and Terrestrial Energy further strengthens the relationship between the two companies that started in June 2016 with a Master Task Agreement for consulting, technical and scientific services.

DOE Heads North to Alaska

US Energy Department reopens Arctic office with focus on methane hydrates, microgrids and nuclear micro reactors.

arctic-village-render

Conceptual image of a micro nuclear reactor in at an arctic site. Image: Third Way

The office will also focus on oil recovery, carbon reinjection, extended-reach drilling, liquefied natural gas, gas hydrates and alternative energy.

The U.S. Department of Energy announced Sept 16th it would reopen its Arctic Energy Office, located at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The office will collaborate internationally on Arctic issues, as well as advancing research on methane hydrates and the development of microgrids and nuclear power.

Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said in a statement that the office would “strengthen and coordinate our work in energy, science, and national security.”

Deputy Secretary Mark W. Menezes said that international collaboration with other Arctic nations was important as “the region’s geopolitical importance increases.”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, had set a priority on the reestablishment of the office in the 2020 Energy-Water Appropriations bill.

The Arctic Energy Office will research, develop and deploy energy technology particularly in rural and remote parts of the country and “especially where permafrost is present or located nearby.”

The office won’t belong to a specific program area, and it will report to the Under Secretary of Energy. The office will coordinate work both within the U.S.

UAE May Build Four More Nuclear Reactors

(SPGlobal/Platts) The trade wire service reports that the UAE, which became this year the first Gulf country to use nuclear power to generate electricity, may in the future construct four more nuclear reactors, depending on the country’s needs, a government official said Sept. 17

“We designed Barakah for eight units,” Mohamed al-Hammadi, CEO of Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp. told a webcast organized by the OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency.

“The government decision — whenever we decide to go beyond the four — that depends on the energy strategy. The government does every 10 years a comprehensive review of the energy policy.”

When all four units at Barakah are operational, they will produce 5.6 GW of electricity, meeting up to 25% of the country’s power needs.

Construction of the three remaining nuclear units is almost complete and the full commissioning of all units will take a few years, Hammadi said, without giving a specific timeline. The 1.4-GW Barakah-1 was connected to the grid in August.

ECA Launches “New Nuclear” Initiative

The board of directors of the Energy Communities Alliance (ECA), an organization known more for its work in advancing the cleanup of Department of Energy sites, is launching a new initiative aimed at supporting the development of new nuclear technologies. As announced by the ECA on September 15, the self-funded, one-year initiative will focus on small modular reactors, micro and advanced reactors, a skilled nuclear workforce, and new nuclear missions around DOE facilities. facilities.

eca logo2The board of directors of the Energy Communities Alliance (ECA), an organization known more for its work in advancing the cleanup of Department of Energy sites, is launching a new initiative aimed at supporting the development of new nuclear technologies.

As announced by the ECA on September 15, the self-funded, one-year initiative will focus on small modular reactors, micro and advanced reactors, a skilled nuclear workforce, and new nuclear missions around DOE facilities. facilities.

“With growing bipartisan support for nuclear energy in Congress, new federal demonstration projects led by DOE and the Department of Defense, and notable investment from the private sector, local governments want to be meaningfully engaged—and prepared—to match the strengths and needs of our communities with new nuclear opportunities,” the ECA said in its announcement.

Why new nuclear? The ECA, a nonprofit, membership organization of local governments adjacent to or impacted by DOE activities, said that its communities host and support the nuclear research and development that is under way across the DOE complex.

This includes, the organization said, the advanced nuclear reactors at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee; the production of high-assay low-enriched uranium in Piketon, Ohio; and the development of the Versatile Test Reactor and the NuScale small modular reactor at Idaho National Laboratory.

The ECA also points to private-sector initiatives such as Bill Gates’ TerraPower, Deep Isolation’s nuclear waste disposal solution, and NDB’s battery that is powered by nuclear waste.

“ECA communities are knowledgeable about and, in many ways, driven by the nuclear missions they already host,” the ECA said.

“These local governments are eager to fill vital roles, from establishing new U.S.-based manufacturing and supply chains to promoting creation of training programs at local community colleges around existing nuclear sites.”

A new subcommittee: To focus its work, the ECA formed the New Nuclear subcommittee, led by Rebecca Casper, mayor of Idaho Falls, Idaho, and identified the three core questions the subcommittee will address:

  • What do communities need to know to attract and support new nuclear development/missions?
  • What and how should communities communicate to industry, national laboratories, and state and federal governments about local resources and development opportunities?
  • What hurdles and challenges will communities face and who can the ECA work with to overcome them?

The ECA said that it will build on former successful efforts working cooperatively with the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy, industry, contractors, educators, and labor unions to address these issues, ensure information sharing, and identify how best to take action on common goals.

First steps: The New Nuclear subcommittee intends to begin by hosting a series of educational webinars to facilitate interaction and develop a shared understanding of the outlook for developing technologies, messaging and advocacy strategies, national security implications, and supply chain impacts and needs.

The ECA will also develop written resources to support education and outreach in communities on specific issues, including understanding priorities and timelines, federal and state regulatory requirements, community and workforce needs related to siting, potential cost-sharing, and public/private partnership opportunities. New issues are expected to be identified through ongoing discussions throughout the project year.

Participation: Those looking to collaborate or provide educational resources, or those wanting more information about the ECA New Nuclear subcommittee, are asked to contact Kara Colton, ECA director of nuclear policy, at kara.colton@energyca.org or MacKenzie Kerr, ECA program manager, at mackenziek@energyca.org

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NASA Seeks Industry Proposals for Compact Nuclear Power Systems to be Used in Exploration of the Moon and Mars

  • NASA Seeks Industry Proposals to Put Nuclear Reactors on Moon and Mars
  • General Atomic Delivers Nuclear Propulsion Plans To NASA
  • Framatome Partners with ADAGOS to Use AI in Nuclear Engineering
  • CNL Announces SMR Research Partnership with Kairos Power
  • Approval Granted for Four New Chinese Nuclear Reactors

(SpaceNews) NASA and the Department of Energy will seek proposals for industry later this year for the development of a compact nuclear power system that can support the agency’s long-term lunar and Martian exploration plans.

NASA Simple-Compact-Nuclear-Reactor

NASA Conceptual Image of a Nuclear Power System for the Moon and Mars

In a Sept. 1 presentation to the Technology, Innovation, and Engineering Committee of the NASA Advisory Council, agency officials said they expected to release a request for proposals in late September or early October for the first phase of its Fission Surface Power effort. (Presentation – PDF file)

The project seeks to develop a 10-kW fission power system that could be placed on the moon as soon as 2027 The purpose of the system is to provide power to support long-term lunar surface activities, especially during the two-week night when solar power is not an option.

The DOE said 10 kW would be enough to power one-hundred 100-watt light bulbs or roughly 1/100,000 of the power produced by a typical 1,000-MW commercial reactor.

“That may not seem like a lot of juice, but it will be enough to power a portion of the infrastructure and equipment needed by astronauts on the lunar surface,” a speaker from DOE said at the briefing.

“It’s an enabling capability for a sustained lunar presence, particularly for surviving a lunar night,” said Anthony Calomino, nuclear systems portfolio manager in NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, at the meeting.

“The surface of the moon provides us an opportunity to fabricate, test and flight qualify a space fission system.”

NASA and the Department of Energy (DOE) have been working together in recent years on a space nuclear power project called Kilopower, which featured a demonstration of the technology at the Nevada Test Site in 2018 with a one-kilowatt reactor. That project used highly enriched uranium (HEU), which enables an efficient and lightweight reactor.

DOE issued a request for information for the Fission Surface Power effort in July to seek ideas from industry for these types of power systems.

According to SpaceNews, Calomino said, “This is a new capability. The system is rather complex. There isn’t one provider that could be a one-shot do-all kind of thing,” he said.

“Partnering is important, and we wanted to give ample time for the aerospace and nuclear industries to identify common needs and common capabilities, and build up those teams.”

SpaceNews reported that at the NASA meeting it was announced that DOE will lead the procurement in cooperation with NASA. A formal RFP is expected in October after the start of the new federal fiscal year.

The agencies expect to make several awards for phase one to work on preliminary designs that would be completed by the end of 2021. A second phase, starting in early 2022, would select one company to develop a unit that would be ready and qualified for flight and for launch in 2027.

It was not lost on people attending the briefing that the technologies developed for missions to the Moon and Mars might also have commercial prospects here on earth.

General Atomic Delivers Nuclear Propulsion Plans To NASA

(Nuclear Street) San Diego-based General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems said this week that it delivered a design concept of a Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) reactor to power future astronaut missions to Mars for a NASA-funded study. (DOE – Six things you should know about nuclear thermal propulsion)

The study, managed by Analytical Mechanics Associates (AMA), explored a design space defined by key performance parameters as well as figures of merit. The GA-EMS design exceeded the key performance parameters and optimized the NTP reactor for manufacturability, the highest ranked figure of merit.

“This is an exciting effort that directly aligns with our 60+ years of nuclear energy research and development, including nuclear reactor design and deployment and our expertise in space systems,” said Scott Forney, president of GA-EMS.

Dr. Christina Back, vice president of Nuclear Technologies and Materials at GA-EMS, said that NTP systems for NASA Human Mars Missions “are achievable in the near-term.”

Framatome Partners with ADAGOS for Use of AI
in Nuclear Engineeringt Applications

Framatome has signed an exclusive partnership agreement with France-based computer software provider ADAGOS to bring advanced, parsimonious artificial intelligence technology to the nuclear energy sector.

adagos logoADAGOS’ NeurEco architecture introduces a third-generation neural network to solve large and complex problems using fewer computational and data resources compared to previous generations.

Neural networks analyse data and information in a way that mimics the human brain. Framatome said NeurEco addresses common challenges to artificial intelligence and deep-learning technology as its new neural network approach based on parsimony reduces resources such as the amount of learning data, energy consumption, size of neural network, requested memory and computing time required to implement deep-learning methods.

Calculation times for non-linear fields such as neutronics and computational fluid designs can be reduced from days to a few minutes, and the generated metamodel provides more information on the output.

Sensitivity studies are raised to the next level with extensive results verses one for consideration. Calculation files are several hundred times smaller and can be compressed and decompressed infinitely, saving time and money for operators.

“Artificial intelligence is a game changer for advancing technologies and increasing the competitiveness and efficiency of the nuclear energy industry now and in the decades to come,” said Catherine Cornand, senior executive vice president of the Installed Base Business Unit at Framatome.

“This partnership combines Framatome’s engineering expertise and ADAGOS’ cutting-edge technology to automate and resolve complex issues,” said Alexis Marincic, senior executive vice president of the Engineering and Design Authority at Framatome.

CNL Announces SMR Research Partnership with Kairos Power

(WNN) Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) has announced a collaboration agreement with US-based Kairos Power, which is working to develop and license fluoride salt-cooled small modular reactor (SMR) technology. The agreement is funded through CNL’s Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative (CNRI) program and will cover research and engineering of technologies to separate, analyse and store tritium generated through the reactor’s operation

The reactor, known as Kairos Power FHR (KP-FHR) (interactive graphic) uses tri-structural isotropic (TRISO) ceramic fuel combined with a low-pressure fluoride salt coolant. The heat generated through the nuclear reaction is then converted into electricity through a flexible steam cycle. Tritium – a radioactive isotope of hydrogen – will be produced as a by-product of reactor operations, and this means the company must incorporate and maintain engineering controls to ensure the protection of workers and the environment.

CNL President and CEO Joe McBrearty said partnering with Kairos Power on this research was a “natural fit” at CNL’s Chalk River Laboratories.

“With four projects now under way through our CNRI program, it’s clear that there is a need for this type of collaborative research and financing to advance SMR technologies here in Canada.”

Kairos Power has conducted extensive testing and analysis related to tritium behavior and management, and is now working to identify and assess options for a tritium recovery and storage system.

CNL said it will work with Kairos to identify the best engineering designs for tritium recovery from various locations within the reactor system. Researchers will also work to identify experimental instrumentation and testing methods to measure tritium in various chemical forms, including nitrate salts.

In November 2019 Kairos Power was selected alongside Moltex Canada, Terrestrial Energy Inc and UltraSafe Nuclear Corporation as one of the first recipients of funds under the CNRI, which was launched in July last year to provide reactor vendors access to CNL’s research facilities.

Approval Granted for Four New Chinese Nuclear Reactors

(WNN) China’s State Council has approved the construction of four Hualong One reactors: two as phase one of the San’ao plant in Zhejiang province and two as the second phase of the Changjiang plant in Hainan province. Total investment in the projects exceeds CNY70 billion (USD10 billion).

At a September 2, 2020, meeting, the State Council noted that actively and steadily promoting the construction of nuclear power projects is an important measure to expand effective investment, enhance energy support, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Following the new approvals, two Hualong One units will be built as phase two – units 3 and 4 – of the Changjiang plant by state-owned China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and China Huaneng Group. Construction of unit 3 is scheduled to be completed in 2025, with unit 4 following in 2026.

hualong one profile

Hualong One profile, a 1000 MW PWR. Image: IAEA

CNNC and Huaneng are also cooperating in several other projects

  • phase one of the Changjiang plant (which comprises two CNP-600 pressurized water reactors),
  • the Shidaowan HTR-PM project (a demonstration high-temperature gas-cooled reactor in Shandong province) and
  • the 600 MWe demonstration fast reactor at Xiapu, Fujian province.

The State Council has also approved the construction of two Hualong One units at China General Nuclear’s (CGN’s) new San’ao site in Zhejiang province.

This project will mark the first Chinese nuclear power project involving private capital, with Geely Technology Group will take a 2% stake in the plant. CGN holds 46% of the shares of the project company Cangnan Nuclear Power, with other state-owned enterprises holding the remainder.

The South China Morning Post reported that a number of factors have provided new impetuses for the approval of more nuclear plant projects. The coronavirus pandemic has strained the national economy, tensions are rising with the United States, and China is looking to cut its reliance on fossil fuels while reducing pollution.

Liu Jing, an analyst at Huajin Securities, said the State Council’s decision meant that China’s construction of nuclear plants would return to a more active track, with four to six projects expected to be approved annually over the next few years.

“Nuclear power … plays a pivotal role in ensuring China’s energy security and in achieving the [government’s] goal for non-fossil energy to account for 20 per cent [of China’s energy consumption] in 2030,” Liu wrote in a note to clients

There are now seven Hualong One reactors under construction in China and two in Pakistan. Two are planned for Bradwell in UK. Fuel loading has commenced at the first of the Chinese units – Fuqing 5.

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Posted in Nuclear | 1 Comment

Thoughts on Labor Day 2020

Neutron Bytes is taking a week off for the Labor Day holiday.

finish the jobIn the last decade of the 19th century, Americans toiled 12 hours a day, seven days a week, often in physically demanding, low-paying jobs. Child labor at a scale which is unfathomable today took place on farms and in factories and mines. Conditions were often harsh and unsafe resulting in uncompensated injuries and deaths.

Labor Day was created as an official U.S. holiday in 1894 by then President Grover Cleveland. The strike at the Pullman Railroad Car company was the impetus for the change. The labor unrest was sparked when firm lowered wages without changing the rents in company owned housing.

The New York Times reports;

“When angry workers complained, the owner, George Pullman, had them fired. They decided to strike, and other workers for the American Railway Union, led by the firebrand activist Eugene V. Debs, joined the action. They refused to handle Pullman cars, bringing freight and passenger traffic to a halt around Chicago. Tens of thousands of workers walked off the job, wildcat strikes broke out, and angry crowds were met with gun fire from the authorities.”

By the 1930s, the U.S. had the largest and strongest labor movement in the world. It led to an eight hour day, paid vacation and sick leave, and other employer paid benefits we take for granted today. Labor union power continued to grow and led to the prosperity of the American middle class that characterized the 1950s and 60s.

However, as American manufacturing firms outsourced their production to Asian countries, and globalization, with its race to the bottom for cheap labor, became a dominant economic force, the result in the U.S. was that the labor movement suffered a steep decline in membership and bargaining power.

U.S. Labor Movement Has Faded but the Holiday Lives On

Labor Day in the second decade of the 21st century is a fading echo of the era that created the holiday. It is now seen as a cultural milestone for the end of summer, the start of school, and the initiation of seemingly endless rounds of baseballs’s division and league playoffs. The National Football League’s season kicks off around Labor Day  as does Big 10 college Football.

Across America millions of us will fire up the BBQ for one last cookout and a chance to kick back with some grilled food and a cold brew. Beaches will fold up their umbrellas and the college kids who staffed the fast food industries’ resort based franchises will head back to school.

flying ravenWay out west the crowds will thin out in places like Yellowstone National Park. Where once the cries of children in RVs and campers filled the air, but now it is so quiet that you can hear the sound of the wind as it passes through the feathers of a raven as it flies through an empty parking lot looking for the tidbits left behind by the now departed tourists.

COVID19 has Changed Labor Day

That’s what used to happen. Not any more, and perhaps it won’t happen again for a while. In the COVID19 era, according to several estimates, at least 40 million people, and perhaps more than 50 million, have filed for unemployment insurance. That’s about one-third of the total U.S. labor force which is estimated to be about 160 million people. Many of these people have also lost their health insurance and other elements of the so-called “safety net.”

collection of election campaign vote pins on whiteCongress has stalled out in a partisan standoff on doing anything to stem the oncoming tidal wave of destitution and all of its hardships that will afflict tens of millions of Americans in the coming months. Our elected leaders are wrapped around their fantasies of self interest and they are tragically disconnected from the realities of daily life for people who have lost their livelihoods.

There is an election coming up in November. You might want to let your elected representatives know that your vote matters.

By registering to vote, and by showing up in person at the polls or voting by mail, you will send a message that you will support the candidates who will take concrete positive steps to turn the situation around.

Don’t sit this one out.

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Posted in Nuclear | 2 Comments

NuScale Completes Key Milestone with NRC

  • NRC Issues Final Safety Evaluation Report for NuScale Small Modular Reactor
  • Holtec Successfully Completes Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Phase 1 Vendor Design Review
  • NRC releases Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Interim Storage Partners’ Consolidated Interim Storage Facility

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued a final safety evaluation report for NuScale’s small modular reactor design. This meets the agency’s original 42-month technical review schedule and demonstrates the NRC’s commitment to timely licensing of safe technologies for new, advanced reactors. The NRC is preparing a rulemaking to certify the design.

The NRC completed Phase 6 review — the last and final phase—of the Design Certification Application (DCA) for the company’s small modular reactor (SMR) with the issuance of the Final Safety Evaluation Report (FSER).

The FSER represents completion of the technical review and approval of the NuScale SMR design.

With this final phase of NuScale’s DCA now complete, customers can proceed with plans to develop NuScale power plants with the understanding that the NRC has approved the safety aspects of the NuScale design.

NuScale applied on Dec. 31, 2016, for certification of the company’s SMR design for use in the United States; the NRC accepted the design for review in March 2017.

The review process demonstrated the simplicity of NuScale’s SMR design and the thoroughness of the company’s application. As an example, during the rigorous Phase 1 review process, which included 115,000 hours spent reviewing the DCA, the NRC issued far fewer requests for additional information compared to other design certification applications.

NuScale spent over $500 million, with the backing of Fluor, and over 2 million labor hours to develop the information needed to prepare its DCA application. The company also submitted 14 separate Topical Reports in addition to the over 12,000 pages for its DCA application and provided more than 2 million pages of supporting information for NRC audits.

Neither a standard design approval nor a design certification grant permission to build or operate a reactor. Full certification, if granted by the Commission following the staff’s recommendation, allows a utility to reference the design when applying for a combined license to build and operate a nuclear power plant.

The design uses natural “passive” processes such as convection and gravity in its operating systems and safety features to produce approximately 50MW of electricity for each module. The SMR’s 12 modulesare all submerged in a safety-related pool built below ground level. The NRC concludes the design’s passive features will ensure the nuclear power plant would shut down safely and remain safe under emergency conditions, if necessary.

NuScale has indicated it will apply in 2022 for a standard design approval of a 60-megawatt-per-module version of the design. That version will require additional NRC review.

NuScale Takes a Victory Lap
 
NuScale Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Hopkins said, “This is a significant milestone not only for NuScale, but also for the entire U.S. nuclear sector and the other advanced nuclear technologies that will follow. This clearly establishes the leadership of NuScale and the U.S. in the race to bring SMRs to market.”

“The approval of NuScale’s design is an incredible accomplishment and we would like to extend our deepest thanks to the NRC for their comprehensive review, to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for its continued commitment to our successful private-public partnership to bring the country’s first SMR to market, and to the many other individuals who have dedicated countless hours to make this extraordinary moment a reality.”

“Additionally, the cost-shared funding provided by Congress over the past several years has accelerated NuScale’s advancement through the NRC Design Certification process. This is what DOE’s SMR Program was created to do, and our success is credited to strong bipartisan support from Congress.”

NuScale Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Tom Bergman said, “The NRC embraced the challenge of reviewing the first-ever small modular reactor DCA, which at the time not only marked an important milestone for NuScale, but also for the nuclear industry as a whole.”

NuScale appreciates the dedication, time, and effort of the NRC throughout this multi-year process, often with reviews completing ahead of schedule. As a long-time former NRC employee, including as an executive in the Office of New Reactors, I can say that this early issuance of the FSER is truly a credit to everyone at the NRC—including technical review and project staff, management, and the Commission.”
 
What’s Next for NuScale? 

NuScale said it continues to maintain strong program momentum toward commercialization of its SMR technology, including supply chain development, standard plant design, planning of plant delivery activities, and startup and commissioning plans.

The company fields growing domestic and international customer interest from those who see the NuScale power plant as a long-term solution for providing reliable, safe, affordable, and operationally flexible carbon-free energy for diverse applications.

NuScale has signed agreements with entities in the U.S., Canada, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Jordan. Similar agreements with other entities are being negotiated.

NuScale’s first customer. UAMPS, is working with the vendor to develop the first of a kind installation at a site at the Idaho National Laboratory. However, UAMPS also recently said its member cities and utilities might not need the reactor until 2030, a 2-year setback from the original delivery target date.

Nuclear Energy Institute Statement on NuScale FSER

Marc Nichol, senior director of new reactors at the Nuclear Energy Institute said, “The approval of NuScale’s small modular reactor design is not only a monumental milestone for NuScale but is a crucial step for the future of the industry. As the first U.S. small modular reactor design to be issued a FSER, NuScale is pioneering the way for additional innovative advanced nuclear technologies under development.

“NuScale’s design approval, the first of its kind, brings the country closer to meeting its clean energy goals and making electricity more accessible for all. This milestone demonstrates the nuclear industry can meet the demands for reliable, safe and affordable carbon-free energy here in the U.S. but also meet the demands of customers across the world.”

Holtec Successfully Completes Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Phase 1 Vendor Design Review

Holtec International’s SMR, LLC has successfully completed Phase 1 of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) “Pre-Licensing Review of a Vendor’s Reactor Design” for its small modular reactor design, the SMR-160.

A Vendor Design Review (VDR) is an assessment service CNSC provides to nuclear power plant designers. The benefits of this direct engagement are early feedback on the SMR-160 design as it addresses CNSC regulatory requirements and early identification and resolution of potential regulatory or technical issues on the design process.

The CNSC staff concluded that “overall, SMR, LLC understands and has correctly interpreted the high-level intent of CNSC’s regulatory requirements for the design of nuclear power plants in Canada pertaining to the scope of the Phase 1 VDR.”

“This milestone reinforces our expectation that the SMR-160 will meet Canada’s regulatory requirements while also providing valuable feedback that will allow us to further improve the design throughout the ongoing regulatory process,” said Dr. Kris Singh, President and Chief Executive Officer of Holtec International.

SMR, LLC started Phase 1 of the VDR in mid-2018, addressing the associated 19 focus areas and submitting hundreds of documents over the course of 18 months to support the review.

Successfully concluding Phase 1 demonstrates the significant progression of the design and associated engineering processes. As expected, the CNSC identified some areas that require follow-up in Phase 2 of the VDR as the review moves further into the details of the design.

Based on feedback received from the Phase 1 VDR, SMR, Holtec LLC plans to pursue a Phase 2 VDR in the near future, to continue this process for its walk-away safe reactor in order to gain assurance of a path to licensing certainty in Canada.

NRC releases Draft Environmental Impact Statement for
Interim Storage Partners’ Consolidated Interim Storage Facility
for Used Nuclear Fuel

Interim Storage Partners received notification on 08/27/20 from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission of a favorable finding included in a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for ISP’s consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) application.

The DEIS concludes that the application submitted by ISP, a joint venture of Orano USA and Waste Control Specialists, to construct and operate a consolidated interim storage facility for used nuclear fuel at the existing WCS storage site in Andrews County, Texas, will have no discernable negative effects on the environment or natural resources.

Following a public comment period, the current NRC schedule calls for the development of a final EIS during the second quarter of 2021.

In addition to the EIS, the NRC staff is concurrently conducting an analysis and review of the technical safety aspects of the ISP application. This effort, also scheduled to conclude during the second quarter of 2021, will result in a staff Safety Evaluation Report (SER). The completed EIS and SER would form the basis for the issuance of a license by the NRC.

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Posted in Nuclear | 1 Comment

TerraPower Partners with GE Hitachi to Develop a Commercial Sodium Cooled Faster Reactor that Leverages a Molten Salt Thermal System

nuclear imageTerraPower and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Introduce Commercial Natrium [tm] Power Production and Storage System

TerraPower and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) announced on 08/27/20 the launch of the Natrium[tm] reactor and energy system architecture. This advanced nuclear technology features a sodium fast reactor combined with a molten salt energy storage system.

Building on the technology used in solar thermal generation, Natrium energy storage and flexible power production is intended to offer abundant clean energy in time to help meet climate goals.

The Natrium system features a 345MWe reactor and can be optimized for specific markets. For instance, its innovative thermal storage has the potential to boost the system’s output to 500MWe of power for more than five and a half hours when needed. This allows for a nuclear design that follows daily electric load changes and helps customers capitalize on peaking opportunities driven by renewable energy fluctuations.

Investors Are Coming Onboard

TerraPower’s President and Chief Executive Chris Levesque told Reuters TerraPower LLC, and its partner GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, the companies are seeking additional funding from private partners and the U.S. Energy Department, and that the project has the support of PacifiCorp, owned by billionaire Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, along with Energy Northwest and Duke Energy.

If successful, the plan is to build the plants in the United States and abroad, Levesque said. The 345MW plants would be cooled by liquid sodium is estimated to cost about $1 billion each. Levesque told the Bloomberg wire service [firewall] that the two firms plan to build the first-of-a-kind unit by 2028.

By 2050 “we would see hundreds of these reactors around the world, solving multiple different energy needs,” Levesque said.

What the Two Firms Bring to the Table

In terms of what the two firms bring to the table, TerraPower is working on a molten chloride salt reactor with a consortium of firms. GE-Hitachi has designed the PRISM sodium cooled fast reactor based on the legacy work done with EBR-II and the Integral Fast Reactor. It has applied for a license for the reactor with the NRC.

The joint effort claims that Natrium technology’s novel architecture simplifies previous reactor types especially for the non-nuclear mechanical, electrical and other equipment. This infrastructure will be housed separately reducing complexity and cost.

The design is intended to permit significant cost savings by allowing major portions of the plant to be built to industrial standards. Improvements use fewer equipment interfaces and reduce the amount of nuclear-grade concrete by 80% compared to large reactors.

As a nuclear innovation company, TerraPower values collaboration with GE Hitachi to make nuclear generation as affordable as possible,” said Chris Levesque, TerraPower President and CEO.

The breadth and depth of the team’s expertise and resources reflect years of work on multiple reactor designs and efforts across the nuclear lifecycle. The Natrium system demonstrates the benefits of modern virtual design and construction tools and has attracted the attention of numerous utilities through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program.

The effort is part of the work by Bill Gates as an investor to help fight climate change, and is targeted at helping utilities slash their emissions of planet-warming gases without undermining grid reliability. Natrium reactors are designed to provide firm, flexible power that seamlessly integrates into power grids with high penetrations of renewables.

Bill Gates, chairman of TerraPower’s board, said in a statement to Reuters that Natrium innovation was “extremely difficult” but its team had “the expertise, commercial experience, and the resources necessary” to develop viable reactors.

TerraPower started out working on its Traveling Wave fast reactor, in partnership with a Chinese state owned nuclear firm. TerraPower was forced to abandon the Chinese partnership when the Trump administration restricted nuclear deals with China.

Both firms are also currently in a partnership to negotiate a contract with the Idaho National Laboratory to design and build the Versatile Test Reactor and to have it operational by the end of this decade. It would also be based on the GE-Hitachi PRISM design.

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Posted in Nuclear

Bechtel, GE-Hitachi, TerraPower Tapped for Design and Build the Versatile Test Reactor

bid-cover-sheet_thumb.jpgBattelle Energy Alliance (BEA) has initiated contract negotiations with a team led by Bechtel National Inc. to support the design and build phase of the Versatile Test Reactor, a one-of-a-kind facility that would support research and development of innovative, clean nuclear energy technologies.

The BNI team also includes TerraPower and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy. The decision reflects the early stage of engagement these firms have had with the project.

  • In January 2020 GE-Hitachi and TerraPower agreed to collaborate to seek the business.
  • In November 2018 GE-Hitachi was awarded a subcontract to support the conceptual design, cost/schedule estimate and safety framework activities.
  • Within the INL-led VTR team, engineers from GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy will adapt the company’s 300 MW PRISM sodium-cooled nuclear reactor design to the needs of a test reactor for state-of-the art research and development purposes. The acronym PRISM stands for Power Reactor Innovative Small Module.
  • Separately, GE-Hitachi is seeking an NRC license for the PRISM reactor design.
  • Bechtel will support the project using its expertise in construction and project management for cost, schedule, and related management systems.

vtr timeline

The announcement comes after BEA, the contractor that operates Idaho National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy, and members of the VTR technical team reviewed submissions by industry teams in response to a Request for Proposal issued earlier this year.

After careful review of multiple high-quality proposals, BEA selected the BNI-led team to start contract negotiations. INL manages the VTR project on behalf of DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy.  The negotiations will cover technical scope, schedule, cost, and the other normal elements of a major engineering procurement construction (EPC) effort.

While no cost estimate has been made public, the Department of Energy will need major funding in the order of at least several billion to build the reactor.  Once operational, it will become the kind of anchor facility that the INL has sought for decades since the Integral Fast Reactor  was shut down in the 1990s.

INL Excited About the Future

“We received excellent proposals from industry, which is indicative of the support to build a fast-spectrum neutron testing facility in the United States,” said Mark Peters, Idaho National Laboratory director.

“We are excited about the potential for working with the BNI-led team. They will bring a lot of design and construction expertise to the VTR project. This is essential since it has been several years since we built a test reactor in the United States.”

Background to the Decision

DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy established the VTR program in 2018 in response to several reports outlining the need for a fast spectrum test reactor and requests from U.S. companies developing advanced reactors. Currently, there are very few capabilities available for testing fast neutron reactor technology in the world and none in the United States.

vtr core conceptual diagram

Conceptual design for VTR core. Image: INL

In 2018, Congress passed the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (NEICA), which highlighted the need for a reactor-based fast neutron source and authorized DOE to proceed.

Since then, a team of experts from INL and five additional national laboratories Argonne National LaboratoryLos Alamos National LaboratoryOak Ridge National LaboratoryPacific Northwest National Laboratory and Savannah River National Laboratory), 19 universities, and nine industry partners have been developing a conceptual design, cost estimate and schedule for VTR.

nrts evolution

DOE Confident the VTR Can Be Built

Dr. Rita Baranwal, assistant secretary for DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy, said it is important for the VTR project to move forward.

“The VTR team led by INL has established a solid foundation upon which the design phase can begin,” Baranwal said.

“We have repeatedly heard from industry and other stakeholders that the United States needs a fast neutron scientific user facility to maintain our global leadership in nuclear energy. The selection of the BNI team with its TerraPower and GE Hitachi partners, puts us firmly on the path toward building this important infrastructure capability.”

“We are looking forward to successful negotiations with the BNI team and want to make sure the project is ready to go in Fiscal Year 2021,” said Kemal Pasamehmetoglu, executive director of the VTR project.

Instead of producing electricity, the Versatile Test Reactor would conduct irradiation testing for fuels, materials, and equipment to be used in rapidly evolving designs for advanced reactors brought forward by U.S. companies, as well as public and private research institutions.

“Advanced reactors hold great promise, but their fuels and materials need proper testing before they can be licensed and used in energy-producing reactors,” said Barbara Rusinko, president of Bechtel’s Nuclear, Security & Environmental global business unit.

The INL-led team is also supporting the development of an Environmental Impact Statement that will be used to assist the Department in making the final decision on the design, technology selection and location for VTR. The final decision is expected in late 2021.

History of the VTR

In August 2019 the INL received a charter from DOE to establish the National Reactor Innovation Center. It is a test and demonstration center for new nuclear technologies and it will involve public / private partnerships with firms that want to bring these technologies to a mature enough level to attract investors and customers.

 About INL

INL is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratory that performs work in each of DOE’s strategic goal areas: energy, national security, science and environment.

INL_Map_facility_home_thumb.png

INL is the nation’s center for nuclear energy research and development. Day-to-day management and operation of the laboratory is the responsibility of Battelle Energy Alliance.

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Posted in Nuclear | 2 Comments

Kenya Unveils Plans for a $5B 1000MW Nuclear Power Plant

  • Kenya has a $5B plan to Build a 1000MW Nuclear Power Station
  • South Korea Eyes Czech Plans for New Nuclear at Dukovany
  • CEZ Says It Will Start Vendor Selection for Dukovany Later this Year
  • Poland Updates Plans for New Nuclear Power Plants to 9000MW
  • SMRs get R&D Focus by Cameco and Bruce Power
  • American Nuclear Society Launches R&D Funding Study

Kenya Unveils $5 Billion Nuclear Power Plant

nupea(The Citizen, Nairobi) The Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board (KNEB) in a regulatory filing with the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) said last week that a nuclear power plant with an initial capacity of 1,000MW would be built in the country by an contractor.

KNEB said the estimated cost is $5 billion. The project is expected to rely on a conventional off-the-shelf light water reactor ‘third-generation’ PWR design plant. The project carries an immense in terms of its financial risk. The estimated cost of the nuclear plant is nearly half the government’s annual tax collections.

KNEB also said it has selected a site near Kipini, Kenya, in Tana River County. The agency said Tana River, which meets the Indian Ocean on Kenya’s east coast, is the most preferred location since it is not prone to earthquakes.

IKE-mapt’s location would facilitate delivery of large long lead time components by sea going barge including the RPV,  steam generator, turbines, transformers / switch gear and related equipment. Other sites under consideration were in the Lake Victoria and Lake Turkana basins.

The project could be completed in seven years with funding primarily from private investors. The government looks to expand the plant’s capacity fourfold to 4,000 MW by 2035 under a build, operate and transfer (BOT) model. The government’s Nuclear Power and Energy Agency would handle all aspects of the project.

“The financing aspect of the Nuclear Power Plant is among the plans underway with a Build Operate Transfer (BOT) being the most preferred financing agreement with the concessionaire that shall come on board,” NuPEA says in plans submitted to the environmental agency. The  plan will be subjected to public scrutiny before the agency can approve it.

Kenya views nuclear power both as a long-term solution to high fuel costs — incurred during times of drought when diesel generators are used — and an effective way to cut carbon emissions from the power generating sector.

Kenya’s energy mix currently consists of geothermal (45%), hydropower (28%), wind (13%) and expensive diesel-run generators (11%) according to the government.

The KNEB has multiple memoranda of understanding with China, Russia, South Korea and Slovakia for capacity building for the nuclear plant. None of them have moved to the stage of committing investors, selecting a vendors, and inking a contract with an EPC to build the first of four units.

A major risk for Kenya is the need to rapidly organize an government agency to provide the full spectrum of regulatory safety reviews and oversight of the project.

A second risk is that Kenya’s government is rife with graft. In recent months government officials are alleged to have diverted over $400M in aid intended to help the country deal with the COVID19 crisis.

According to the New York Times 08/21/20, frustration among health workers peaked after a recent television exposé accused dozens of business leaders and government officials of corruption, alleging that they stole about $400 million in funds allocated to fight the pandemic. The money came from Chinese sources.

The nuclear agency wants the State to fend off risks of graft given the size of the proposed nuclear project.

“Kenya is at a risk due to the expected investment of $5 billion into the Nuclear Power Plant if the current issues of run-away corruption are not curtailed, which may lead to massive public economic loss due to possible implementation delays and overruns as experienced in other mega projects in the country.”

The nuclear plant would be Kenya’s biggest and most expensive project since the completion of a Chinese-built standard gauge railway in 2017.

Localization of materials and components for a nuclear power plant may be limited to non-nuclear grade steel and cement. However, foreign direct investment in the country’s steel sector increased in 2019.

According to the CIA World Fact Book section on Kenya, agriculture remains the backbone of the Kenyan economy, contributing one-third of GDP. About 75% of Kenya’s population of roughly 48.5 million work at least part-time in the agricultural sector, including livestock and pastoral activities. Over 75% of agricultural output is from small-scale, rain-fed farming or livestock production.

Inadequate infrastructure continues to hamper Kenya’s efforts to improve its annual growth so that it can meaningfully address poverty and unemployment.

Now In his second term, President KENYATTA has pledged to make economic growth and development a centerpiece of his second administration, focusing on his “Big Four” initiatives of universal healthcare, food security, affordable housing, and expansion of manufacturing.

South Korea Eyes Czech Nuclear Project

(Yonhap News Agency) – South Korea said this week its participation in the US$6.74 billion construction project of a new nuclear power plant in the Czech Republic will pave the way for the two countries to join deeper forces in the energy segment.

Industry Minister Sung Yun-mo held two-day virtual meetings with his Czech counterpart, Karel Havlicek, and Jaroslav Mil, the European country’s special envoy for nuclear energy according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

During the meetings, Sung highlighted that South Korea wishes to participate in the planned nuclear energy plant, which will be launched by the Czech Republic.

The Czech Republic plans to build a new nuclear plant in the southern region of Dukovany. The construction is expected to begin in 2029.

“The upcoming project will become an opportunity for the two countries to open a new phase of cooperation,” Sung said.

The South Korean minister also told his counterparts that South Korea already has successfully carried out a nuclear project in the Middle East. Earlier this month, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has started the operations at the first unit of the South Korean-built Barakah nuclear power plant, the first operation of a peaceful nuclear reactor in the Arab world.

In 2009, a South Korea-led consortium won a US$20 billion contract to build four nuclear reactors in Barakah, 270 km west of Abu Dhabi, the country’s first export of its homegrown commercial atomic power technology. The first reactor was completed in 2018, and the three others are under construction.

Dukovany / CEZ Says It Is Aiming
To Begin Selection Procedure By End Of Year

(NucNet) The Czech Republic’s state utility CEZ is to prepare the procedure for choosing a general contractor for the planned expansion of the Dukovany nuclear power station, aiming to begin the selection process before the end of the year.

Press reports said earlier this year that the selection process could begin in 2022 and the Czech government wanted to conclude a contract with a supplier by 2024.

The state, which holds a 70% stake in CEZ, recently approved plans to give an interest-free loan for the new plant.

It has also approved a model to buy electricity from the new unit at a determined price, with consumers making up the difference if that price is higher than wholesale market prices.

The plans need approval from the European Commission to ensure they meet EU state aid rules.

A CEZ spokesperson told NucNet recently that one Generation III+ reactor is planned for the site, with a maximum installed capacity of 1,200 MW. In March, CEZ filed for permission with the State Office for Nuclear Safety to build up to two new nuclear power plants at Dukovany.

Poland / Latest Update of Program Confirms Plans
for Up to 9,000 MW Of New Nuclear

(NucNet) Poland’s climate ministry has published for public consultation a draft resolution by the Council of Ministers on approving an updated version of the country’s nuclear power program, the first version of which was published in 2014.

The country is one of Europe’s biggest users of coal fired power plants. The move towards nuclear energy was welcomed by climate activists. Anti-nuclear nations like Austria are likely to make trouble for Poland when it seeks investors for the project.

The ministry said the aim of the program is to build from 6,000 to 9,000 MW of installed nuclear capacity based on proven, large-scale, pressurized water reactors (PWR) of Generation III and III+ design.

The ministry noted that PWRs have a smaller restricted zone for safety than boiling water reactors (BWRs), which means more choices of location. The program says there will be more bidders for PWRs than BWRs or pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWRs) such as Canada’s Candu plants, which will bring competitiveness and lower costs.

The timetable says Poland could sign a general contract for its first unit in 2022 and issue a construction permit in 2025. Construction of Unit 1 would begin in 2026. The first of six plants would begin commercial operation in 2033 with the second inn 2035, the third in 2037, the fourth in 2039, the fifth in 2041 and the sixth in 2043.

The program says the Polish state will initially have 100% of shares in a special company set up to invest in nuclear energy, but once a co-investor is chosen the state will maintain 51% of shares in the company and the co-investor will take 49%. The co-investor must be “related to the technology provider.”

“Since the adoption of the first version of the program in 2014, the rationale for implementing nuclear power has not changed,” the ministry said. “It is based on three pillars: energy security, climate and environment, and economy.”

According to the updated program the startup of the first new unit is scheduled for 2032 with commissioning in 2033. In the 2014 program commissioning of the first unit was scheduled for 2024.

Potential sites for new nuclear have not changed since 2014. The program shows four “recommended” sites and 21 “potential” sites throughout the country, but says any chosen site is likely to be coastal, not inland.

It says environmental studies are most advanced at two sites: Lubiatowo-Kopalino and Zarnowiec, both in the north of the country near the Baltic coast. Both sites are about 80Km northwest of Gdnask.

In June, Poland’s president Andrzej Duda said an agreement would be signed between the governments of the US and Poland “in the near future” which will allow Poland to move forward with a civilian nuclear power program.

Small Modular Reactors Get R&D Focus
by Cameco and Bruce Power

According to news media reports, Cameco and Bruce Power announced this week they will create the Center for Next Generation Nuclear Technologies, a research hub that will explore, among other innovations, small modular reactors (SMR). Smaller than standard-sized ones, SMRs produce between 50 and 300 MW of electricity.

Speaking at a virtual news conference, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said nuclear power will be essential to a green future.

“We are not going to be able to deal with things like climate change or very broad issues if we are not going to commit to integrating nuclear power into our systems. It has to be part of the solutions. We simply are unable to get the job done without it.”

In addition to providing baseload power for an electrical grid, Moe said nuclear power would benefit rural and remote communities.

The announcement came two months after the province unveiled the Nuclear Secretariat, which has a core mandate to come up with a plan to develop and deploy SMRs.

In December, Moe signed a memorandum of understanding with the premiers of Ontario and New Brunswick to collaborate to that end.  However, that is a reality that remains in the future with SaskPower looking to add nuclear to its supply mix in the early 2030s.

Until then, the province’s plan to reduce emissions from power generation is to use natural gas with renewables.

Isotope Work to Expand

Cameco and Bruce Power will also be expanding their role in support of the production of life-saving medical isotopes. With its facility in Cobourg, ON, Cameco will contribute its expertise to the development of Bruce Power’s new Isotope Production System being developed by its partner IsoGen that will help produce Lutetium-177, an isotope used to treat prostate cancer and neuroendocrine tumors.

Bruce Power aims to begin harvesting Lutetium-177 in 2022. Cameco is a key supplier of materials in the production of Cobalt-60, which is produced in partnership with Ottawa-based Nordion, used to sterilize medical equipment and treat breast cancer and brain tumours.

“Medical isotopes and leveraging our existing infrastructure in a post-COVID world are an important part of the future of nuclear, and Bruce Power is a leader and innovator in this sector,” said Tim Gitzel, president and CEO of Cameco.

“I am proud that Cameco is able to contribute to this important work, especially now when the need for sterilized medical supplies is so high.

Cameco is Bruce Power’s fuel supplier until 2030, and provides parts for the company’s reactor replacement projects. The companies also announced Cameco will supply specialized fuel bundles for Bruce Power’s Unit 6 reactor once it restarts in 2024.

ANS Convenes New Task Force
on Federal Nuclear R&D Funding

ans logoThe American Nuclear Society has formed a Task Force on Public Investment in Nuclear Research and Development to assess the R&D needs of the U.S. nuclear technology enterprise and the federal investment required to meet those needs.

The task force will identify the overarching objectives of U.S. nuclear R&D and identify specific metrics that can be used to evaluate progress toward those objectives.

“Our expert team representing every aspect of cutting-edge nuclear ­technology—national laboratories, universities, reactor developers, utilities, and suppliers—is getting to work on the considerable task of capturing the entire scope of U.S. nuclear R&D needs in the 2020s and presenting it in a clear, actionable form to policymakers,” said ANS Executive Director/CEO Craig Piercy.

Mark Peters, director of Idaho National Laboratory, and Christina Back, vice president of technologies and materials at General Atomics, have been appointed cochairs of the task force.

Under their leadership, the task force will prepare a written report to be released in January 2021 that will identify funding levels needed for “core investments” in nuclear R&D during the 2020s and will evaluate the impacts of various federal appropriations funding scenarios.

Task force members will review policy documents and reports from governmental and nongovernmental sources, including current and recent authorizing and appropriations legislation, and will collect views from individuals and organizations in the United States and in global nuclear communities.

“This is an important exercise. Our leaders need an honest assessment of the level of investment needed to successfully commercialize a new generation of advanced reactors and allow nuclear technology to make a meaningful contribution to long-term decarbonization,” Piercy said.

The report will include an analysis of three funding scenarios—moderate growth, flat funding, and reduced funding—and the potential impact of each on achieving the identified nuclear R&D objectives.

Peters Leaving INL

Idaho National Laboratory Director Mark Peters is leaving his spot as lab director for a new job with Battelle Energy Alliance. Peters is moving into a new job as executive vice president for laboratory operations at Battelle in Columbus, OH. Peters, who has been INL director since 2015, made the announcement on 8/20 according to the Idaho Falls Post Register.

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Hitachi Returns to Wylfa UK Nuclear Project

  • UK / Hitachi Reopens Talks with UK Government to Finance the Wylfa UK Nuclear Project
  • X-energy / Submits Its SMR for CNSC Vendor Design Review
  • SMRs / Alberta Becomes Fourth Canadian Province To Join Partnership
  • Brazil / Eletrobras Releases Schedule for Angra 3 Nuclear Unit
  • China / SMR Project Passes Safety Analysis
  • US / DOE Awards $5.1M to EPRI for Advanced Welding Project

Hitachi Reopens Talks with UK Government to Finance the Wylfa UK Nuclear Project

A deadline looms later this year for the UK government to make a funding decision

The Financial Times of London reported on 8/15/20 (firewall) that Japan’s Hitachi is in serious talks with the UK government to restart work on the Wylfa nuclear plant to be located in north Wales. The project, if built, would consist of two 1350 MW ABWRs. Horizon Nuclear Power, the UK based subsidiary of Hitachi, is also the potential developer and EPC for two similar units at the Oldbury site in Gloucestershire.

UK new nuclear

The UK Nuclear New Build: Image:  BBC & BEIS, House of Commons Library

According to the Financial Times, Hitachi has been holding “detailed conversations” with the government. The firm has reportedly promised to “quickly mobilize” the effort at Wylfa if the government will approve a new financing method for the project which has a projected cost in the range of $18-20 billion or about $6,700-7,400/Kw. The ABWR design completed the UK generic design review (GDR) in December 2017.

Hitachi walked away from the project in early 2019 due to skyrocketing costs and a lack of a firm government commitment to reduce the company’s financial risks. At the time the UK government offered a one-third equity stake, or about $6 billion, but told Horizon that it would have to finance the rest with debt and would be responsible for any cost overruns.

Hitachi’s apparent renewed interest in the project is a response to the government’s efforts to apply a financing method to nuclear energy projects called “regulated asset base (RAB).” The funding model allows the utility building the reactors to bill customers up front via their ongoing energy bills. Additional measures sought by Hitachi under the RAB include rate guarantees once the plant is in revenue service.

According to the Financial Times, an alternative to the RAB would have the government take the majority stake in this site, and other nuclear energy projects, with Hitachi serving as the vendor of the reactors and EPC at Wylfa and Oldbury.

Josh Buckland, a former aide to the UK energy ministry, told the newspaper, “the government will want to create a viable [financial] model. That that means developers will put up some money and take some risk.”

According to the Financial Times the deadline for a financial decision is December 2020. Horizon says it is out of money by then if no deal emerged from the current round of government talks.

X-energy / Submits Its SMR for CNSC Vendor Design Review

In a press statement X-energy said it has initiated a Vendor Design Review (VDR) for its Xe-100 small modular reactor design with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). The consultancy Kinetrics will lead X-energy’s Canadian regulatory affairs and licensing efforts.

xe-100

Key features of the Xe-100. Image: X-Energy courtesy of San Diego, CA, chapter of American Nuclear Society, July 2017

The regulatory review will demonstrate X-energy’s understanding of Canadian requirements and confirm there are no fundamental licensing barriers for the Xe-100 in Canada. The process will also provide the company early feedback to further strengthen its design. The VDR is a combined Phase 1 and Phase 2 review.

In preparing to site the advanced nuclear technology reactors in Canada, with partners across the Canadian supply chain, X-energy says it has found the “ideal environment” to develop and deploy the 75 MWe reactor, scalable to a 300 MWe in a four-unit plant. (technical briefing – PDF file)

X-Energy said in its press statement that the reactor design builds on decades of high-temperature gas reactor operation and R&D.

“The combination of Canada’s progressive, risk-informed regulatory framework and its well-established supply chain make Canada an ideal place to site X-energy’s first reactor and to create partnerships for a world-class SMR export program.”

The VDR is not the full safety review for a license, but it is an important and useful precursor to it which when successful leaders to a more efficient licensing process.

The pre-licensing VDR is offered by CNSC as an optional service to assess a nuclear power plant design based on a vendor’s reactor technology. It is not a required part of the licensing process for a new nuclear power plant. It aims to verify the acceptability of a design with respect to Canadian nuclear regulatory requirements and expectations.

The three phases of the VDR process involve:

  • a pre-licensing assessment of compliance with regulatory requirements;
  • an assessment of any potential fundamental barriers to licensing; and
  • a follow-up phase allowing the vendor to respond to findings from the second phase.

NRC Pre-Licensing Activity

According to the website of the NRC, X-Energy began pre-licensing discussions NRC Docket # 99902017 in July 2019 with the submission of a regulatory engagement plan ML19177A399. The firm’s engagement with the agency is ongoing, but many documents submitted, including some as recently as this past July, are tagged as containing proprietary information and are not available for public review. This is a common practice at this stage of engagement with the agency.

X-Energy’s TRISO Fuel

In November 2019 Global Nuclear Fuel and X-energy announced that they had signed a teaming agreement for the purpose of developing High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) TRISO fuel to potentially supply the U.S. Department of Defense for micro-reactors and NASA for its nuclear thermal propulsion requirements.

X-Energy-fuel

Configuration of a TRISO fuel pellet. Image: X-Energy

“TRISO is a robust fuel form well suited for military and space applications,” said Clay Sell, X-energy CEO.

“The extremely high and unnecessary cost of working with HALEU in a Category I NRC facility has, in the past, limited TRISO’s economic viability in the marketplace. Utilizing X-energy’s already operational state-of-the-art equipment in GNF’s licensed facility changes the dynamic for TRISO-fueled reactor deployment.”

“GNF is excited to team with X-energy to bring the revolutionary TRISO fuel form to market,” said Jay Wileman, President & CEO, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy.

“Combining X-energy’s technical knowledge and experience as the only current producer of TRISO fuel and GNF’s licensed operating facility and half century of commercial fuel experience and leadership make this a formidable team.”

The Xe-100 is a 200 MWt (75 MWe) reactor, which X-energy envisages being built as a standard “four-pack” plant generating about 300 MWe. The plant will use TRISO fuel ‘pebbles’ as fuel. Each Triso particle has a kernel of uranium oxycarbide (also known as UCO) enriched to 10% uranium-235, encased in carbon and ceramic layers which prevent the release of radioactivity. The layers provide each particle with its own independent containment system, while the graphite surrounding the particles moderates the nuclear reaction. Such fuel cannot melt down.

About X-energy

X-energy is an advanced nuclear reactor design and TRISO-based fuel fabrication company headquartered in Rockville, Maryland. X-energy is currently manufacturing uranium oxide/carbide (UCO) based kernels, TRISO particles, compacts and fuel pebbles at an ~5,000-sq. ft. fuel facility located at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) as part of the DOE Advanced Reactor Concept 2015 Cooperative Agreement.

SMRs / Alberta Becomes Fourth Canadian Province To Join Partnership

(NucNet) The Canadian province of Alberta is joining three other provinces to support the advancement and deployment of nuclear energy through small modular reactors (SMRs).

The province’s premier Jason Kenney announced that his United Conservative government will sign on to a December 2019 memorandum of understanding with Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick.

In a statement with energy minister Sonya Savage, Mr Kenney said the province hopes the nuclear technology will allow the government to provide power to remote communities, diversify the economy, create jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“This will help Alberta stay at the forefront of the latest development in SMR technology, and ensures that we have the appropriate regulatory framework in place, should private industry decide to pursue it in the future.”

After signing the original MoU the three provinces said they wanted to work together on the development and deployment of “innovative, versatile and scalable” SMRs that will “unlock economic potential across Canada, including rural and remote regions”.

The Canadian Nuclear Association issued a statement saying Alberta’s involvement in developing nuclear energy means “another key window of emission-reducing technology comes into play.”

The association’s president, John Gorman, said, “The potential to harness clean electricity and heat to further accelerate emission reductions could be highly impactful to the Albertan and Canadian economies – and to our ability to achieve net zero by 2050,” said .

In November 2019 Saskatchewan announced it had included the development of SMR technology in its 2030 growth strategy. It said SMRs could provide utility SaskPower with the ability to generate up to 80% of the province’s electricity through zero-emission sources when combined with renewable power sources.

Eletrobras Releases Schedule for Angra 3 Nuclear Unit

(Bnamericas) Brazilian state-run power firm Eletrobras intends to sign contracts for civil construction and metal-mechanic works for the Angra 3 nuclear power plant (1400 MW PWR) by June 2021. Construction should start in October next year, CEO Wilson Ferreira Júnior said during a conference call last week.

brazil nuclearA financing deal to finish works is expected for mid-2021, while contract signing for engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) is scheduled for December 2021, with construction due to start by March 2022. The plant would be complete and ready to enter revenue service in Fall 2026.

The plant is owned by subsidiary Eletronuclear. The government is also structuring an operation to maintain control of the firm after Eletrobras’ privatization. This arrangement could include partnerships with private firms to conclude the nuclear unit.

Work on the 1400MW plant has been going on for 35 years but it is just 62% complete. Activities were interrupted in 2015 when corruption allegations emerged amid the massive Lava Jato corruption investigation. Eletrobras expects to invest (US$2.5 billion) to complete the plant.

“We are establishing an independent compliance program to monitor contracts. We have the utmost care to resume works with safety,” CEO Ferreira Júnior said.

Separately, the government is pursuing the privatization of Electrobras which will put it on a commercial footing.

China’s SMR Project Passes Safety Analysis

(NBN) On June 23, the preliminary safety analysis report of Hainan Changjiang Multipurpose Small Modular Reactor (ACP100) Science and Technology Demonstration Project was reviewed and approved at the National Nuclear Safety Administration meeting in Beijing, which created the necessary conditions for issuing the Hainan Small Reactor Demonstration Project construction license.

Hainan Small Reactor Demonstration Project adopts the ACP100 (Linglong No. 1) (IAEA technical briefing – PDF file) modular small reactor technology led by the Nuclear Power Institute of China.

The upcoming Linglong No. 1 demonstration project is a commercial demonstration project aimed at verifying the design, manufacturing, construction and operation technology, as well as accumulating valuable experience in small nuclear power plants.

About the ACP100

China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) announced the demonstration project in July 2019. According to World Nuclear News, The ACP100 integrated pressurized water reactor (PWR) design has been under development since 2010. Its preliminary design was completed in 2014.

It is a multi-purpose reactor designed for electricity production, heating, steam production or seawater desalination. In 2016, the design became the first SMR to pass a safety review by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The ACP100 is developed from the larger ACP1000 PWR. The design, which has 57 fuel assemblies and integral steam generators, incorporates passive safety features. The major components of its primary coolant circuit are installed within the reactor pressure vessel. It features a modular high-efficiency DC steam generator, a control rod drive mechanism, a high-temperature coil, and a static rod power supply.

The demonstration ACP100 plant will be located on the north-west side of the existing Changjiang nuclear power plant, according to a March 2019 announcement from China’s Ministry of Environment. The site is already home to two operating CNP600 PWRs, with two Hualong One units also planned for construction.

China announced plans to build a demonstration floating nuclear power plant based on the ACP100S variant of the CNNC design.

DOE Awards $5.1 Million for Advanced Nuclear Welding Technology

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced an award of $5.1 million to the Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (EPRI) to develop modular-in-chamber electron beam welding capability for a future domestic advanced reactor demonstration project. This project has a total value of approximately $6.5 million of which DOE will provide approximately $5.1 million. (EPRI Project Summary Technical Abstract – PDF file)

The award is through the Office of Nuclear Energy’s (NE) funding opportunity announcement (FOA) U.S. Industry Opportunities for Advanced Nuclear Technology Development.

“Nuclear energy plays a key role in our nation’s energy security and carbon-reduction goals, so it is vital that DOE continues to fund advanced reactor projects,” said Dr. Rita Baranwal, Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy.

“This award is a cost-shared cooperative agreement, which allows us to work hand-in-hand with nuclear industry.”

This is the ninth round of funding provided through this innovative FOA. DOE announced previous funding awards in 2018, 2019, and 2020. Subsequent application reviews and selection processes will be conducted through December 2022, as supported by Congressional appropriations.

Technical Details

Establishing Modular In-Chamber Electron Beam Welding (MIC-EBW) Phase II – Under this proposal, DOE will award $5.1 million to the Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (EPRI) of Palo Alto, California and Charlotte, North Carolina. ( Technical Project Details – briefing – PDF file)

  • Develop and establish MIC-EBW capability at a major U.S. fabricator.
  • Reduce overall welding arc time by up to 90 percent compared to conventional welding technologies.
  • Successfully demonstrate a 10-foot (3.05-meter) diameter, 4.375-inch (110-millimeter) thick vessel EB weld in less than 90 minutes of welding time (current state of the art is several weeks).
  • Establish MIC-EBW capability to perform major reactor pressure vessel (RPV) girth welds for a NuScale Power design RPV.
  • Develop manufacturing process plans based on technology and required post weld inspection/heat treatment.

electron beam welding setup

Cut Away Diagram of EBW. Image: EPRI/DOE

Video – Electron Beam Welding

DOE NE funds research, development, and demonstration projects to reduce the risk and cost of advanced nuclear technologies, and to improve nuclear energy’s contribution to meeting the nation’s economic, energy security, and environmental challenges.

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New Group Calls for Nuclear Energy Policy Focus in the White House

New Group Calls for Parity in Policy Focus & Incentives Offered to Renewables and Nuclear Energy

Other Nuclear News

  • Invest in Nuclear to Galvanize Growth, says OECD-NEA

  • Jacobs Selected by Moltex Energy to Help Develop a New Type of Nuclear Power Reactor

  • Hydrogen / US DOE Providing $84 Million For Project That Includes Installing Electrolysers At Nuclear Plants

  • Feasibility Study to Complete Cernavoda 3 & 4

Good Energy Collective Launches
New Nuclear Policy Project

(NucNet) Advanced reactors ‘should get similar incentives to renewables’
A new policy research organization has called on the next administration in the White House to establish a climate office and include a nuclear-specific staff position.

gec2The US-based Good Energy Collective said the moves would be in line with recommendations in a plan put forward by Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, and the Evergreen Action group, established by staff of the Democratic governor of Washington, Jay Inslee.

The Good Energy Collective is asking the new administration to include advanced nuclear energy as a part of the climate response and set a clear mandate for adoption of the technology.

  • It said advanced nuclear energy should be integrated into climate legislation and incentives should be similar to those for renewables, including loan guarantees, production and investment tax credits, access to public land, and federal power purchase agreements.
  • The nuclear industry should create new business and finance models for new nuclear technologies and ensure a “robust commercialization pathway” to bring advanced reactor designs to market.

Nuclear energy will be needed to reach ambitious climate goals, but we must first reconstruct the technology for a new era complete with modern, socially-grounded approaches,” the Good Energy Collective said.

“Smart policies and better nuclear governance can help quickly shift the sector to a new, more sustainable pathway. Better governance will require a step-change by the administration, congress, and the nuclear industry.”

On its web page the organization described itself as a policy research organization and listed four areas where it is focusing its attention

gec imageGood Energy Collective is a policy research organization. We’re building the progressive case for nuclear energy as an essential part of the broader climate change agenda.

We develop smart policies at every scale to accelerate the just and equitable deployment of advanced nuclear technologies.

Our research is rooted in social science and champions a whole-of-government approach, so that communities can go from ideas, to development, to thoughtful and effective deployment faster and more efficiently.

Energy for equity – All communities should have equitable access to clean energy that will meet their needs and create high-quality jobs.

Voices for the future – We foster diverse leaders in nuclear energy to reshape the industry at every level and every scale.

A new social science agenda – We are developing a social science research and environmental justice agenda to work hand in hand with recent engineering innovations.

Jobs for a green recovery – Communities should have equitable access to high-quality jobs; we are mapping out the best ways nuclear jobs can help.

Webinar August 11 at 5 PM Eastern Time

The group is holding an online webinar on August 11th at 5:00 PM Eastern time. Registration is free. Anyone with an interest in the group’s agenda can sign up using a link on the home page

Media Coverage

Two of the founding team members held an indepth interview with David Roberts on the Vox Media website on Juky 21st. Four of the five board members are women, as are the co-founders: Suzy Hobbs Baker (currently creative director at University of Michigan’s Fastest Path to Zero initiative) and Jessica Lovering (currently a doctoral student in engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University).

Other Nuclear News

Invest in Nuclear to Galvanize Growth, says OECD-NEA

(WNN) The sheer size of nuclear projects might be a barrier in some markets where private investors are looking for short-term paybacks. However, during a period of economic recovery, large-scale and long-term energy infrastructure projects, such as nuclear power plants, can galvanize the social cohesion and economic spill-overs required to re-launch general economic activity.

This is the message of the last in a package of four Policy Briefs on the role of nuclear energy in the post-COVID economic recovery produced by the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency in collaboration with World Nuclear Association. They study cost-effectiveness, jobs, resilience and financing.

The NEA hosted a webinar to discuss the latest report, ‘Unlocking financing for nuclear energy infrastructure,’ noting that OECD governments aim at an economic recovery that preserves the ambition for affordable energy transition plans and aligns with long-term economic, social and environmental objectives – the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Opening the webinar, NEA Director General William Magwood said: “The expectation that we are facing an economic crisis that can be ‘quickly’ dealt with over the next three years is unfortunately rather optimistic. The development of modern and resilient zero-carbon infrastructure may take a little longer. It’s important to develop plans to incentivise investment in a lot of new low-carbon generation capacity, balancing it out with a realistic forecast in the growth in energy demand. It is important to use macroeconomic models with the right granularity to properly model the energy sector.”

Beyond First of a Kind – FOAK

Sama Bilbao y Leon, head of the NEA’s Nuclear Technology Development and Economics division said that nuclear energy projects have been “misaligned” with traditional sources of capital.

“Nuclear power plant construction is a complex infrastructure undertaking that can present significant financial risks since they are capital-intensive and have multi-decadal project lifetimes,” she said, adding that there has been a “loss of confidence” due to delays and cost overruns in some recent Western first-of-a-kind (FOAK) projects.

“We have evidence from recent nuclear projects in China, Korea, Russia and the UAE that they can be completed on time and on budget. This means that the projects that we have experienced in Western FOAK projects are really not intrinsic to a nuclear power plant but are intrinsic to the project arrangement itself.”

  • Governments can support financing through a range of mechanisms. She added that direct financial support includes equity, debt, export credit agencies, and loan guarantees.
  • Indirect financial support includes power purchasing agreements (PPAs), such as the Contract-for-Difference in the UK and the Mankala model in Finland, and regulated assets, such as the rate-of-return in the USA and the regulated asset base in the UK.
  • Government ownership of infrastructure projects will have an “enormous impact” because it would “inspire confidence among private investors and would also send a very important signal to society as a whole.”

The other three Policy Briefs are: Building low-carbon resilient electricity infrastructures with nuclear power; The role of nuclear energy in the cost-effective decarbonization of electricity systems; and Creating high-value jobs in the post-COVID-19 recovery with nuclear energy projects.

Jacobs Selected by Moltex Energy to Help Develop
a New Type of Nuclear Power Reactor

moltexJacobs (NYSE:J) was selected by Moltex Energy to support their development of a new type of nuclear power plant – the Stable Salt Reactor. Jacobs will build an experimental facility for thermal transfer testing at its Birchwood Park research and development facility in the U.K.

Based on breakthrough science, Moltex Energy’s Stable Salt Reactor is designed to generate low cost electricity by burning processed spent fuel pellets which would otherwise have to be stored as radioactive waste.

Jacobs’ chemistry, materials, engineering, instrumentation and modeling teams will collaborate with Moltex engineers to create a technically complex simulation to replicate the heat output of a fuel channel and to validate computational fluid dynamics modelling of the thermal transfer across the fuel assemblies into the coolant.

Moltex already uses Jacobs’ ANSWERS® software for radiation transport modeling and simulation of reactor performance.

“We’re looking forward to continuing our support for Moltex into this new phase of development as part of our strategy to be a solutions provider at the cutting edge of research into advanced reactors,” said Jacobs Critical Mission Solutions International Senior Vice President Clive White.

“The Stable Salt Reactor design is significant because of its potential to recycle waste in a clean, safe and economical way, generating electricity which will power communities while reducing carbon emissions.”

Moltex has been awarded more than $6 million in funding from Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, a United States Department of Energy agency, to help develop the reactor, which is cooled using molten salt.

Hydrogen / US DOE Providing $84 Million For Project that Includes Installing Electrolysers at Nuclear Plants

(NucNet) Demonstrations are planned at two commercial reactor sites

The US Department of Energy is encouraging the production of hydrogen from commercial nuclear power plants by providing more than $84M to improve electrolysers that split water into oxygen and hydrogen gas and for installation demonstrations at two commercial nuclear power plants. DOE said a single 1,000-MW nuclear reactor could produce more than 200,000 tonnes of hydrogen each year.

In one DOE-backed project valued at $7.2M, Exelon, the country’s largest nuclear plant operator, will install a 1 MW electrolyser at one of its 21 reactors. The DOE will split the cost with the utility giant. Exelon plans to complete the demonstration in April 2023 and will use the hydrogen it produces onsite.

Separately, Energy Harbor, an Ohio utility company, is set to install a 2 MW electrolyser at its Davis-Besse nuclear station in Ohio. Project manager Alan Scheanwald said the equipment will be installed during the plant’s next refuelling outage in March 2022.

Partners in the demonstration are Xcel Energy, which owns three reactors at two sites, and Arizona Public Service, which operates three reactors at the Palo Verde nuclear station. The DOE is providing $9.2M of the project’s $11.5M cost. The hydrogen generated will be sold for offsite use.

Feasibility Study to Complete Cernavoda 3 & 4

(WNN) Romania has launched a tender for a new feasibility study to complete units 3 and 4 of the Cernavoda nuclear power plant for which it is prepared to pay up to RON1 million (USD$245,000). There is also the option of a single unit being put up for auction, according to a report by Economica.Net.  The tender was issued with a very short timeframe for responses as bids are due August 11th.

The announcement follows an action by the Romanian government to cancel an agreement with a Chinese state owned nuclear firm to finish construction on the two partially built reactors  which are PHWRs based on the CANDU design, according to a notice in the government’s official gazette. Most of the work on units 3 and 4 was done in the 1980s prior to the fall of the government of Nicolae Ceausescu in 1989.

The tender for a feasibility study, which was published in mid July, lists includes the following requirements:

  • An updated electricity price and demand forecast; project cost estimate together with a calculation methodology;
  • An updated financial model for the project that takes into account the current situation in both the energy and construction services markets;
  • New relevant technical information obtained from other studies developed by SN Nuclearelectrica SA or EnergoNuclear SA, since 2012;
  • Updated information regarding the infrastructure of the Romanian electric transmission network and new interconnection lines;
  • Identification of the support mechanisms necessary for the implementation of the project (for example Contracts-for-Difference, Capital Work in Progress, State Guarantees, etc.).

Cernavoda NPP is the only nuclear power plant in Romania and consists of two 650 MWe pressurized heavy-water reactors. Unit 1 went into commercial operation in 1996 and unit 2 in 2007. Operator Nuclearelectrica plans to extend the operating life of unit 1 to 60 years.

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