Ontario Power Picks GEH BWRX-300 as Its First SMR

  • Ontario Power Picks GEH BWRX-300 as Its First SMR
  • Cameco, GE Hitachi, and Synthos Set Plans to Build and Fuel a Fleet of SMRs in Poland
  • Bruce Power Announces $500 million Issuance of First Green Bonds
  • CANDU Energy to Support Cernavoda Completion of Units #3 & 4.

Ontario Power Picks GEH BWRX-300 as Its First SMR

  • GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Selected as Small Modular Reactor Technology Development Partner

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) announced this week it will work with GE Hitachi (GEH)Nuclear Energy to deploy a Small Modular Reactor (SMR) at the Darlington new nuclear site, the only site in Canada currently licensed for a new nuclear build.

Leveraging a strong Ontario-based supply chain, this clean energy project will create jobs across the province and cement Durham Region’s position as the clean energy capital of Ontario.

OPG and GE Hitachi will collaborate on the SMR engineering, design, planning, preparing the licensing and permitting materials, and performing site preparation activities, with the mutual goal of constructing Canada’s first commercial, grid-scale SMR, projected to be completed as early as 2028.

Site preparation will begin in the spring of 2022, pending appropriate approvals. This work will include installation of the necessary construction services. OPG’s goal is to apply to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) for a License to Construct the SMR by the end of 2022.

The BWRX-300 is a 300 MWe water-cooled, natural circulation SMR with passive safety systems that leverages the design and licensing basis of GEH’s full size (1500 MWe) ESBWR boiling water reactor, which has been certified by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The BWRX-300 is currently undergoing a Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission pre-licensing Vendor Design Review (VDR).

About the BWRX-300

The BWRX-300 can be constructed in 24-36 months utilizing modular and open-top construction techniques proven in Japan. The BWRX-300 power plant is approximately 10% of the size and complexity of a large nuclear project; thereby, substantially reducing project risk and total capital cost requirements.

The BWRX-300 is designed to provide clean, flexible and dispatchable electricity generation that is competitively priced and has the life cycle costs of typical natural gas combined cycle plants targeting $2,250/kW for NOAK (nth of a kind) implementations. In addition to supplying electricity to the grid, the BWRX-300 has the capability to supply electricity and/or steam for process heat applications, district heating and hydrogen production. (BWRX-300 Fact Sheet)

BWRX-300

A 2020 study by the Conference Board of Canada found that a 300 MWe grid-scale SMR built in Ontario and operated for 60 years would create thousands of direct and indirect jobs from project development through to decommissioning.

An independent report by PwC Canada, commissioned by GEH, has estimated that the construction and operation of the first BWRX-300 in Ontario will generate CAD2.3 billion (USD1.8 billion) in GDP, CAD1.9 billion in labor income and more than CAD750 million in federal, provincial and municipal tax revenue over its lifespan.

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Cameco, GE Hitachi, and Synthos Green Energy Set Plans to Build and Fuel a Fleet of SMRs in Poland

Cameco (TSX: CCO; NYSE: CCJ), GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH), GEH SMR Technologies Canada, Ltd. (GEH SMR Canada) and Synthos Green Energy (SGE), a member of the Synthos Group S.A., have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to evaluate the potential establishment of a uranium fuel supply chain in Canada capable of servicing a potential fleet of BWRX-300 small modular reactors (SMRs) in Poland.

Synthos, a manufacturer of synthetic rubber and one of the biggest producers of chemical raw materials in Poland, is interested in obtaining affordable, on-demand, carbon-free electricity from a dependable, dedicated source.

In 2019 SGE and GEH agreed to collaborate on potential deployment applications for the BWRX-300 in Poland. SGE and GEH signed a strategic agreement in 2020 that further advanced the cooperation.

Cameco supplies uranium, uranium refining and conversion services to the nuclear industry worldwide. In July 2021, Cameco, GEH and Global Nuclear Fuel-Americas (GNF-A) agreed to explore several areas of cooperation to advance the commercialization and deployment of BWRX-300 SMRs in Canada and around the world.

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Bruce Power Announces $500 million Issuance of First Green Bonds 

green bondsBruce Power announced the issuance of $500 million in Green Bonds, which is a global first for nuclear power and a recognition of the critical role the technology plays in fighting climate change and enabling a Net Zero future.

“Clean nuclear power is crucial to fighting climate change, and today’s announcement marks another industry-leading step in the company’s environmental, social and governance strategy,” said Mike Rencheck, Bruce Power’s President and CEO.

“One of the largest greenhouse gas emission reduction initiatives in the world was the phase-out of coal-fired electricity in Ontario, and Bruce Power was at the heart of making this a reality by providing 70 per cent of the energy the province needed to achieve this goal.”

The historic milestone of the first nuclear Green Bond was made possible by Bruce Power’s track record of delivering emission reduction projects and its leadership in environmental stewardship, which includes coal phase-out, its commitment to be Net Zero by 2027 in support of a Net Zero Canada by 2050, and the launch of Bruce Power Net Zero Inc.

Bruce Power has done all this while progressing one of Canada’s largest infrastructure renewal projects with its decades-long Life-Extension Program, as well as supporting many other environmental and sustainability initiatives across the province. 

The proceeds from this historic Green Bond offering will be used or allocated in accordance with Bruce Power’s Green Financing Framework to finance or re-finance eligible investments associated with life extension and increasing output of existing units both of which contribute to Canada’s prosperous, clean energy future, and advance its climate change objectives.

Bruce Power’s Green Financing Framework has received a Second-Party Opinion from CICERO Shades of Green (CICERO Green), an internationally recognized leading provider of independent review and second-party opinions on Green Bonds and Green Financing Frameworks.

The Framework has received CICERO Green’s overall ‘Medium Green’ shading on a scale of Light, Medium and Dark. It also received the highest possible governance score of ‘Excellent.’ CICERO Green also concluded that the management of proceeds under the Framework is in accordance with the Green Bond Principles issued by the International Capital Markets Association (ICMA) and the Green Loan Principles issued by the International Capital Markets Association (ICMA) and the Green Loan Principles issued by the Loan Market Association (LMA) and Loan Syndications and Trading Association (LSTA).

BMO Capital Markets and TD Securities acted as co-lead Green structuring agents for the Framework. The bonds were offered on a private placement basis to certain accredited investors in each of the provinces of Canada, through a syndicate of agents co-led by BMO Capital Markets, HSBC and TD Securities as Lead Agents and Joint Bookrunners.

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CANDU Energy to Support Cernavoda Nuclear Expansion

Canada’s CANDU Energy, part of the SNC-Lavalin Group, on November 25th won a 12-month, $8.4 million contract from Romanian firm, EnergoNuclear SA, to provide engineering services to advanced the completion of units 3&4 at the Cernavoda in Romania. The reactors are CANDU 6 type designs.

“The potential to develop two new build nuclear reactors demonstrates that the Romanian government, along with several other of our public sector clients around the world, recognize that safe, reliable, affordable, low-carbon nuclear energy is how we will combat and ultimately, win the battle against climate change,’’ said Ian Edwards, president and CEO of SNC-Lavalin.

Cernavoda, Romania’s only nuclear power plant, has two commercially operational CANDU6 pressurized heavy water reactors supplied by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.  The 700 MWe Cernavoda 1 was commissioned in December 1996 and Cernavoda 2 in 2007.

Candu schematic

The Cernavoda 3&4 project aims to complete two CANDU 6 reactors. Nuclearelectrica is already working with CANDU Energy on extending the operational life of Cernavoda 1 until 2026 when it would undergo a full refurbishment, as well as on completion of units 3&4

Under the contract, CANDU Energy will provide engineering services for the development and updating of documentation necessary for the start of the project (including updating basic licensing documents, updating nuclear safety guidelines, updating the list of project changes with nuclear safety functions, etc)..

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Commonwealth Fusion Systems Raises $1.8 Billion

  • Commonwealth Fusion Systems Raises $1.8 Billion in Series B Funding
  • General Fusion Closes $130 million in Series E Funding
  • Nuclear Energy Agency / Governments Need To Recognize Potential Of Advanced Reactor Systems
  • Nuclear Sector is Capitalizing on Opportunities in Artificial Intelligence

Commonwealth Fusion Systems Raises $1.8 Billion

fusion-iage.pngCommonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) announced this week it has closed on more than $1.8 billion in Series B funding to commercialize fusion energy. This includes capital to construct, commission, and operate SPARC, the world’s first commercially relevant net energy fusion machine.  (CFS Technology web page) CFS has raised more than $2 billion in funding since it was founded in 2018.

In addition, it will enable the company to begin work on ARC, the first commercial fusion power plant, which includes developing support technologies, advancing the design, identifying the site, and assembling the partners and customers for the future of fusion power.

The round was led by Tiger Global Management with participation by new investors, including (in alphabetical order) Bill Gates; Coatue; DFJ Growth; Emerson Collective; Footprint Coalition; Google; JIMCO Technology Fund, part of JIMCO, the Jameel Family’s global investment arm; John Doerr; JS Capital; Marc Benioff’s TIME Ventures; Senator Investment Group; a major university endowment; and a pension plan; as well as current investors, including Breakthrough Energy Ventures; The Engine; Eni; Equinor Ventures; Fine Structure Ventures; Future Ventures; Hostplus; Khosla Ventures; Lowercarbon; Moore Strategic Ventures; Safar Partners; Schooner Capital; Soros Fund Management LLC; Starlight Ventures; Temasek; and others committed to the commercialization of fusion energy to mitigate climate change.

Milestones for CFS’s path to commercial fusion energy:

  • 2018: Company founded based on decades of MIT fusion research

  • 2020
    : Published a series of peer reviewed publications in the Journal of Plasma Physics that verifies SPARC will achieve net energy from fusion

  • 2021:
    Started construction on campus that will host the SPARC building, a manufacturing facility, and company headquarters

  • 2021:
    In collaboration with MIT, built and successfully demonstrated groundbreaking high temperature superconducting magnets, the strongest of their kind and the key technology to unlock commercial fusion energy

  • 2025:
    SPARC achieves commercially relevant net energy from fusion
    Early 2030s: First fusion power plant, called ARC, is completed

“The world is ready to make big investments in commercial fusion as a key part of the global energy transition. This diverse group of investors includes a spectrum of capital from energy and technology companies to venture capitalists, hedge funds, and university endowments that believe in fusion as a large-scale solution to decarbonize the planet,” said CFS CEO Bob Mumgaard.

“Fusion is the kind of innovation that can help fill the gaps in grids and put an end to fossil fuels. CFS is a company that executes – making possible what seemed impossible, one technical milestone at a time,” said John Doerr, Chair of Kleiner Perkins and author of Speed & Scale: An Action Plan for Solving Our Climate Crisis Now.

About CFS

CFS is collaborating with MIT to leverage decades of research combined with new groundbreaking high-temperature superconducting (HTS) magnet technology. HTS magnets will enable compact fusion power plants that can be constructed faster and at lower cost. The mission is to deploy fusion power plants to meet global decarbonization goals as fast as possible.

CFS has assembled a team of leaders in tough tech, fusion science, and manufacturing with a track record of rapid execution. Supported by the world’s leading investors, CFS is uniquely positioned to deliver limitless, clean, fusion power to combat climate change.

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General Fusion Closes $130 million in Series E Funding

General Fusion announced this week it is closing an oversubscribed $130 million (USD) Series E funding round filled by a new syndicate of global investors. This financing, led by Temasek, significantly expands the company’s portfolio of institutional, sovereign, family office, and high net worth investors, providing the prelude to a large financing round being prepared for 2022.

Combined with broad financial support from the Canadian, U.K., and U.S. governments, the General Fusion Series E round supports aggressive pursuit of several near-term initiatives and milestones in its program to commercialize Magnetized Target Fusion (MTF).

In addition to a portfolio of important individual investors, which includes Jeff Bezos, Tobias Lütke, and Kam Ghaffarian, Series E brings a new syndicate of major institutional and family office investors to General Fusion.

“Collectively, the expansion of General Fusion’s investor base in this Series E financing provides a strong foundation for a larger financing next year,” said Greg Twinney, CFO, General Fusion.

“From our technology’s inception, we have had a laser focus on cultivating customers and creating a practical, clean energy solution that meets their needs. This approach resonates with investors looking to make an impact in the global energy transition.

These anchoring investors include Temasek, GIC, the Jameel Investment Management Company (JIMCO), and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), as well as broader participation from other capital market segments represented by investors such as a large U.S. state pension plan and the hedge fund firm Segra Capital.

“Segra Capital believes General Fusion is best positioned among its peer group to deliver fusion at a commercial scale in the near term,” said Adam Rodman, Founder and CIO, Segra Capital.

“While Segra Capital has traditionally invested primarily in public markets, this compelling opportunity resonated with our core ESG and cleantech-focused partners, so we are excited to participate in this Series E financing and look forward to supporting the company in the future.”

“General Fusion’s drive to shape the market for clean fusion energy is just one of the many reasons why JIMCO is investing in its commercialization program,” said Fady Jameel, a member of the Jameel Family’s Investment Supervisory Board.

“The global energy sector is undergoing tremendous change to secure a cleaner future for all, which JIMCO is passionate about and ready to support through investments like the one in General Fusion.”

“With our 75-year history of investing in companies positively shaping the future of the core industries, we believe General Fusion’s global, technologically-advanced solution to commercial fusion energy make them a leader in this growing industry.”

With substantial capital support from both private and government sources, General Fusion has aggressively pursued deployment of its power-plant scale Fusion Demonstration Plant located at the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s (UKAEA) Culham Centre for Fusion Energy near London.

The company has also accelerated MTF technology development activities associated with its new Vancouver headquarters and opened a new facility adjacent to Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the U.S.

Furthermore, General Fusion has created a Market Development Advisory Committee (MDAC) focused exclusively on fusion. The company’s MDAC is currently comprised of nine leading energy companies and clean energy users representing critical markets for fusion’s carbon-free, on-demand power.

“General Fusion’s unique global presence, with facilities in three countries, allows us to be much more ambitious in pushing toward commercialization,” said Christofer Mowry, CEO, General Fusion.

“Our broad network of national laboratory and industrial partners, together with our advisory council of energy market end-users, positions General Fusion well to help the world achieve its net-zero carbon goals.”

General Fusion interacted with, and appreciated the support of, several firms during the Series E financing process, including VAHOCA, based in Singapore, and Disruptive Technology Advisers LLC.

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Nuclear Energy Agency / Governments Need To Recognize Potential Of Advanced Reactor Systems

(NucNet) The report warns increased deployment of renewables will lead to grid reliability issues

Governments and policymakers need to recognize the potential of advanced reactor systems as low-carbon, cost-effective means to help reach emission targets while overcoming potential grid reliability issues caused by the deployment of renewables, the Nuclear Energy Agency said in a report. (Full text PDF file)

The Paris-based agency said further, drastic decarbonization is needed in the electricity system to help countries on their way to achieving carbon-neutral targets. It warned that further increases in the penetration of variable renewable energy sources will inevitably give rise to power system reliability issues – a problem for which advanced reactor systems could offer a solution with their stability and maneuverability over broader timescales.

In terms of cost effectiveness, the NEA suggested that the cost of building an electricity system that could achieve very low CO2 emission rates would increase dramatically as the share of variable renewable energy sources increase, and would lower as the share of nuclear energy increases.

“Although the strategies of each country or region for carbon neutrality can be diverse, reflecting the characteristics and needs of individual energy markets… policymakers should nonetheless recognize that advanced reactor systems are a potential option to help achieve both low-carbon and reliable energy systems,” the NEA report said.

It said governments and industry should work together to demonstrate the capabilities of advanced reactor systems in target markets, and international collaboration should be promoted to improve the economic viability of advanced reactor system development.

Harmonizing industrial codes and standards, as well as regulatory frameworks across different countries, could reduce the technical barriers between markets in different countries and help business entities to gain economies of scale.

Various small modular reactor (SMR) and Generation IV advanced nuclear reactor systems – evolutions of today’s Generation III and III+ reactors – are under development and are capable of offering more flexible options with respect to energy supply.

Advanced reactor systems are capable of providing not only firm capacity to help the electricity system ensure sufficient supply and system stability, but also to ensure maneuverability over a wide range of timescales, from very-short-term (frequency response) to seasonal dispatchability.

The heat sector, which accounted for about 50% of final energy consumption globally in 2018 and about 40% of energy related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, is another area where advanced reactor systems can make a significant contribution to decarbonization. Higher temperature heat of 550°C and upwards could be provided by many Generation IV concepts under development. A large percentage of the current global heat demand falls in this temperature range.

In terms of SMR systems, the aim is to achieve higher deployment flexibility to allow these systems to be located closer to regions of demand, for example nearby industrial sites.

Hydrogen production by advanced reactor systems could significantly contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions in many sectors. All advanced reactor system concepts can produce hydrogen using the existing low-temperature electrolysis technology, and some concepts could supply process heat at over 750°C, producing hydrogen with even higher efficiency through high-temperature electrolysis or thermo-chemical processes.

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Nuclear Sector is Capitalizing on Opportunities in Artificial Intelligence

(IAEA) Artificial intelligence (AI) offers enormous potential to accelerate technological development in nuclear fields, from science to energy to medicine, and the sector is making good progress in seizing on those opportunities, according to speakers in webinars organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in partnership with the IAEA.

ai image‘AI for Nuclear Energy,’ held on November 24th, and attracting more than 1200 participants, was one the most popular sessions of ITU’s AI for Good Global Summit 2021. It showcased efforts to capitalize on technological advancements in artificial intelligence to enhance the development and deployment of nuclear power, enabling this low-carbon energy source to fulfil its potential in the fight against climate change and meeting the goals of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement.

“In order to be competitive, as well as integrated into the mix of modern energy systems, nuclear power plants – in addition to being safe, secure and reliable – also need to be economical and efficient,” said Mikhail Chudakov, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of Department of Nuclear Energy, in his welcome remarks. “AI-based approaches can contribute to these areas.”

Industrial predictive analytics for maintenance, often using digital replicas of the real facilities, is one of several areas where AI is applied. Such AI-enhanced digital twins can provide valuable insights based on data gathered to improve and optimize operations. AI can also help cut operating costs associated with fuel, decommissioning and waste disposal, as well as reduce costs in plant engineering, manufacturing and construction.

Boris Makevnin, CEO of Cifrum Private Enterprise, a subsidiary of Russian state nuclear holding Rosatom, provided an indication of the potential of AI to reduce operational and maintenance costs, telling the webinar participants that an emergency stop of a turbogenerator at a nuclear power plant costs the operator on average €1 million for each day it is out of action.

“If you use predictive maintenance management and predict how your turbogenerator might work in the wrong way, you can do a planned stop earlier, using a shortened repair time,” said Makevnin.

“Comparing the cost of maintenance and the cost of repair, the investment in quite a simple machine-learning algorithm is incomparably small, almost a rounding mistake.”

AI can bring significant benefits to nuclear power operations in terms of insights, optimization, prognostic and automation, according to Heather Feldman, Director of Nuclear Innovation at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), a US non-profit conducting R&D related to the generation, delivery and use of electricity.

For example, AI can help increase the efficiency and design of complex procedures and operations, such as outage scheduling, in-core fuel management and fuel cycle parameters, Feldman said. In automation, AI can increase the reliability of tasks normally conducted by staff in high-pressure and demanding situations, mitigating human error and risks to personal safety.

“Anomaly detection, decision making and report analysis are some of the very tangible benefits we have from automation in nuclear power plants today,” Chudakov added.

The nuclear energy industry has been at the forefront of applying AI to its processes and operations, thanks partly to its collaborative, monitoring-heavy and data-driven nature.

“What we have seen is that the nuclear industry is very advanced, there is not one single nuclear customer of Metroscope’s that doesn’t have a monitoring and diagnostic centre,” said Aurelian Schwartz, CEO of Metroscope, an AI company for industrial diagnostics.

Even so, there remains significant untapped potential for AI, and standardization and cooperation are seen as key.

“International collaboration on the development of standards is very important to enable the wide adoption of AI for nuclear energy in an efficient and effective way. We don’t want to reinvent the wheel; we can start from the current standards, for example ISO/IEC’s and ITU’s, and focus on what is unique for nuclear energy,” said Daowei Bi, Director for Department of Digitalization Engineering at Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research and Design Institute (SNERDI).

Role of AI in nuclear sciences and applications

In the earlier webinar, AI for Atoms, held on November 18th, participants discussed AI’s potential to accelerate technological development in many nuclear fields, ranging from nuclear medicine through water resources management to industry.

AI is used in several stages of fundamental research in nuclear science, which underpins technological discoveries. AI algorithms can predict systems behavior and conduct experiments and are a particularly useful tool to improve the design of scientific instruments and facility operation, explained Michelle Kuchera, Assistant Professor of Physics at Davidson College in the United States. AI-based approaches enable reproducibility of results, improve beam quality, allow increased beamtime and more experiments.

Machine learning is essential for advancing also fusion research, which is driven by huge amounts of data, explained Cristina Rea, Research Scientists at the MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center in the United States. AI can bridge gaps between theoretical understanding through identification of missing effects using databases and ultimately help experts optimize future fusion facility designs.

Georg Langs, Professor of Machine Learning in Medical Imaging at the Medical University of Vienna, Austria, emphasized how AI-based approaches enable novel diagnosis and associated treatment of diseases while saving costs. “AI not only enables automation but also helps us identify predictive values and particular structures and understand better the fundamental biology of humans.”

AI applications rely on data availability and its quality. The more curated data is available, the easier it is for the algorithms to identify patterns about certain phenomena. This is why international cooperation to obtain, develop, maintain and analyze global data with the help of AI in various nuclear fields is key to accelerating technological development and realizing the full potential of AI, the experts at the webinar concluded.

They also highlighted that collaboration across different disciplines is needed to enhance the use of AI applications in nuclear science and technology. This includes establishing common knowledge-sharing platforms to coordinate and support partnerships between cross-domain researchers for the development of guidelines related to regulation, education and training in AI. These platforms will enable researchers from around the world to share experience, knowledge and good practices.

Speakers also underlined the importance of formulating guidelines on ethical concerns related to the use of AI-based approaches in nuclear science and technology. This aspect is particularly relevant to projects targeting equitable sustainable development.

Ensuring data accessibility and transparency, developing appropriate databases, educating researchers and scientists on the benefits of AI are essential in promoting the use of this technology, speakers said. The IAEA is seeking to enhance the use of current and future AI innovations in nuclear sciences and applications by establishing an AI for Atoms knowledge-sharing platform, as well as by supporting education, training and community building in this area, said Melissa Denecke, Director of the IAEA Division of Physical and Chemical Sciences.

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Ghana Reports Strong Vendor Interests in its Nuclear Plan

  • Ghana Reports Strong Vendor Interest in its Nuclear Plan
  • NPG Identifies Four Sites for Ghana’s First Nuclear Plant
  • EDF Head Announces International Advisory Board For NUWARD SMR
  • France / Microreactor Startup Signs Agreement with Assystem To Build Ultra-Compact Reactor
  • EDF Head Announces International Advisory Board For NUWARD SMR

Ghana Reports Strong Vendor Interests in its Nuclear Plan

np ghanaFifteen vendors from different countries have expressed interest in partnering the Nuclear Power Ghana (NPG) to establish the country’s first Nuclear Power Plant according to a local press report citing statements buy Dr Stephen Yamoah, the Executive Director of Nuclear Power Ghana (NPG).

Dr. Yamoah, who holds a PhD. in nuclear engineering  said six companies are interested in establishing Large Reactors (700-1200 MWe) and nine others are interested in establishing Small Modular Reactors (300 MWe and below).

The companies are from China, US, Russia, Korea, Canada and France. “With the exception of India, all the countries responded to the request. India said it has so many commitments at the moment so it cannot come on board,” he said.

Dr Yamoah said the NPG was evaluating the proposals and a report would be submitted to the Minister of Energy for action after the assessment of their expressions of interest. The Government’s target is to establish the first nuclear power plant by 2030.

The current effort is to select a vendor and a project site. The NPG had settled on four locations and said further studies were ongoing to settle on one of the sites.

Ghana’s roadmap for nuclear power calls for work to start on a new reactor by 2024 and to commission it by 2030. See also a 2020 briefing on the overall structure of Ghana’s nuclear program including safety/regulation and stakeholder engagement.

Dr Yamoah said the NPG was exploring various financial options for the project.

“We want industries to come on board and deliver because the longer we postpone the project, the more expensive it becomes,” Yamoah said.

Ghana’s population is projected to grow to roughly 38 million by 2030. It is expected that residential and industrial demand for electricity will increase at the same time. The country exploring sustainable options to generate affordable electricity to meet the expected demand. It is also a quest to increase power generation while reducing emissions.

The country’s nuclear program is being justified based on the need for alternate baseload power for industrialization, limited hydro sources, a postulated decline of access to natural gas, tariff reduction for industries, desalination, employment creation, and climate change commitments.

np ghana np

Image: Nuclear Business Platform – Ghana

Currently in Phase 2 of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) #Milestone Approach, Ghana expects to start the production of #nuclear energy by 2030. In September, five international vendors responded to the “Request for Interest” issued by Ghana. Ghana’s Nuclear Power Programe is estimated to generate $1.2 billion through local industry participation during its implementation.

NPG Identifies Four Sites for Ghana’s First Nuclear Plant

Nuclear Power Ghana (NPG) says it will select one of the four sites identified for the construction of Ghana’s first nuclear plant by the end of 2022.

Dr. Stephen Yamoah, Executive Director, NPG said under phase two of the project, the selection of a preferred site is underway including the analysis of historical data in all four areas.

He noted that the second phase included the selection process, project structure, and integrated management system, selection of vendor or strategic partners, and community engagement and stakeholder management.

Even though no disclosures were made particularly on the identified site, Dr. Yamoah said seismological installation, geological, geochemical, potential human-induced events, grid issues among others were already underway.

He said some policy, strategies, and detailed planning were being put in place for implementation and project development while considering technical inputs in identifying the particular site for the nuclear power plant.

“We’re on course to complete the second phase of the site selection activities next year which ends with the identification of the nuclear plant site by the end of next year.”

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France / Microreactor Startup Signs Agreement with Assystem To Build Ultra-Compact Nuclear Plant

(NucNet) (WNA) A French startup developing a Generation IV nuclear microreactor that can range in size from as small as 1 MWe to 40 MWe has signed an agreement with engineering group Assystem to build the ultra-compact plant.

Assystem will provide project management, permitting, integration and engineering services for Naarea’s XSMR, (eXtra Small Modular Reactor), which will potentially be powered by material recycled from spent nuclear fuel, or from thorium, could be produced by 2030.

It says its ultra-compact molten salt reactor uses “the untapped potential of used radioactive materials, and thorium, unused mining waste.” Naarea noted, “The current stocks of these two wastes will supply the energy needs of humanity for thousands of years, and reconcile humanity with its future.”

Thorium-based fuels and fuel cycles have been used in the past, but have yet to be commercialized. It is unclear where and when in the development cycle the reactor would be configured to use thorium as a fuel.

Assystem will develop a digital twin of the XSMR to model and simulate its behavior. The twin will provide critical information for validating the design and will lead to the construction of a physical prototype. Naarea also announced it will use a cloud-based platform supplied by French company Dassault Systèmes’ to create the XSMR’s virtual twin.

Naarea, founded in November by entrepreneurs Jean-Luc Alexandre and Ivan Gavriloff, said the agreement with Assystem is the concrete realization of a collaboration that has been underway for several months.

Assystem said advanced modular reactors represent an additional technology for accelerating the energy transition alongside high-power reactors, small modular reactors and renewables.

Once it develops the XSMR, Naarea intends to target applications in areas such as transportation, agriculture and smart buildings. The company says that, because of the compact size of its reactor and because there is no need for it to be grid-connected, the XSMR can “be deployed as close as possible to regions, to match energy demand as closely as possible and allow the control of security of supply, at the service of industries and communities.”

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EDF Head Announces International Advisory Board For NUWARD SMR

(NucNet) EDF has set up an international advisory board to help with the development of the company’s NUWARD small modular reactor, EDF chairman and chief executive officer Jean-Bernard Lévy announced.

Mr Lévy said senior representatives from industry and research organizations would provide advice and insights on the NUWARD project.

He said the new board will include experts from EDF UK, Fortum and Teollisuuden Voima Oyj of Finland, Ontario Power Generation; the UJV Rež research institute from the Czech Republic, India’s Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Politecnico di Milano of Italy.

In 2019, EDF, France’s CEA nuclear agency, reactor design and maintenance company TechnicAtome and the Naval Group announced plans to develop together an SMR that could be on the market by the end of the next decade.

NUWARD is a Generation III pressurized water reactor combining two 170 MWe reactors for a total output of 340 MWe. One of the main characteristics of the plant will be the integration of proven PWR technology into a compact modular configuration.

The NUWARD project received €50m as part of a French recovery plan announced at the end of 2020, when president Emmanuel Macron reiterated his support for the country’s nuclear industry and his willingness to back France as a key player in the SMR sector. “

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DOE Wants to Hear from You About Spent Nuclear Fuel

  • DOE Wants to Hear from You about Spent Nuclear Fuel
  • NRC ‘indicates acceptance’ of Kairos Safety Evaluation
  • Terrestrial Energy Signs Agreement for the Supply of Steam Turbines for IMSR

DOE Wants to Hear from You about Spent Nuclear Fuel

  • Community and stakeholder feedback will help determine next steps for consent-based siting process to identify interim storage locations for the nation’s spent nuclear fuel.

consent based sitingThe U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) this week issued a request for information on a consent-based siting process that would be used to identify sites to store the nation’s spent nuclear fuel. The information will be used to develop DOE’s consent-based siting process and overall waste management strategy.

Nuclear energy is essential to achieving the Administration’s goals to create a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and net zero emissions economy by 2050. Managing waste not only makes nuclear a more sustainable option but also helps fulfill DOE’s obligation to manage the nation’s spent nuclear fuel.

“Hearing from and then working with communities interested in hosting one of these facilities is the best way to finally solve the nation’s spent nuclear fuel management issues,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm.

“We know there are real benefits from jobs to new infrastructure that will result in interest in areas across the country. The public’s input is central to identifying those locations to make this process as inclusive and effective as possible.”

“I’m extremely excited about restarting the consent-based siting process,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Dr. Kathryn Huff who made the announcement at the Winter Meeting of the American Nuclear Society being held in Washington, DC.

“DOE is committed to responsibly managing the nation’s spent nuclear fuel and willing communities have the right to explore the benefits and conditions they need to host a federal interim storage facility.”

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 passed by Congress provides funding and directs DOE to move forward with interim storage to support near-term action in managing the nation’s spent nuclear fuel and is an important component of an integrated waste management system.

DOE is committed to the consent-based siting approach that makes communities and people central in the process to give the nation its best chance at success in solving the nation’s decades-long stalemate over how to effectively manage our spent nuclear fuel.

What is Consent Based Siting?

Consent-based siting is an approach to siting facilities that focuses on the needs and concerns of people and communities. Communities participate in the siting process by working carefully through a series of phases and steps with the Department (as the implementing organization).

Each step and phase helps a community determine whether and how hosting a facility to manage spent nuclear fuel is aligned to the community’s goals. By its nature, a consent-based siting process must be flexible, adaptive, and responsive to community concerns. Thus, the phases and steps are intended to serve as a guide, not a prescriptive set of instructions.

Working through the consent-based siting process collaboratively builds a mutual trust relationship between DOE and a potential host community. Potential outcomes from the consent-based siting process could include either a negotiated consent agreement or a determination that after exploring the option in good faith, the community is not, in fact, interested in serving as a host. Both are successful outcomes.

Responses to DOE’s public information request on identifying a federal interim storage facility using a consent-based siting process can be submitted electronically to consentbasedsiting@hq.doe.gov. All responses must be received by 5:00 p.m. (ET) on March 4, 2022.

DOE especially encourages feedback from people, communities, and groups that historically have not been represented in these discussions. More information on DOE’s request for information can be found at energy.gov/consentbasedsiting and found here in the Federal Register.

Status of Current Interim Storage Projects

The US already has two proposed interim storage sites for spent nuclear fuel engaged in the NRC licensing process. They are one site in Andrews, TX, being developed by Interim Storage Partners, and another site in Hobbs, NM, being developed by Holtec.

Interim Storage Partners (ISP) is a joint venture between Waste Control Specialists (WCS) and Orano USA to develop the consolidated interim storage facility at a WCS site that currently accepts low level radioactive waste.

Interim Storage Partners on 09/14/21 announced that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued its license for a proposed commercial consolidated interim storage facility (CISF). The proposed facility would be located adjacent to Waste Control Specialists’ existing low-level nuclear materials disposal facility in Andrews County, Texas.

Interim Storage Partners, a joint venture of Orano USA and Waste Control Specialists, with additional support from technology provider NAC International, submitted a revised CISF license application to the NRC on June 8, 2018.

The NRC’s issuance of ISP’s CISF license provides federal authorization under the Atomic Energy Act to construct and operate a consolidated interim storage facility for used nuclear fuel.

This authorization is based upon the multi-year and thorough review and validation of the various scientific, engineering, environmental, safety, and economic assumptions, designs and plans set forth in the application.

The extensive analyses concluded that this facility’s commercial interim storage and transport operations satisfy all environmental, health, and safety requirements without negative impact to nearby residents or existing industries.

The NRC SNM-2125 documents for ISP’s CISF license can be found at: https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML2118/ML21188A096.html

Holtec Intl applied to the NRC in 2017 for a license to build a proposed commercial consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) in Hobbs, NM.  The license has not yet been issued pending completion of the firm’s responses to requests for additional information about the application.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is reported to have said this week it will delay the publication of a final environmental impact statement and safety evaluation report for Holtec International’s proposed high-level nuclear waste storage facility in southeast New Mexico, after receiving unsatisfactory responses to a number of questions.

The NRC will issue a third request for additional information (RAI) and publish a new timetable for completing the analyses after Holtec provides a revised schedule for submitting the answers.  The latest submission from Holtec listed on the NRC website is dated August 31, 2021 responding to a second round RAI which was sent to the firm by the NRC on May 20, 2021.

In response to an inquiry from Neutron Bytes, Joe Delmar, Senior Director, Gov’t Affairs & Communications, Holtec International, said:

“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) licensing process is rigorous, thorough and transparent to ensure the protection of public health and safety and the protection of the environment.

Holtec will provide the additional information requested by the NRC that will confirm the large margins of safety that are inherent in the design of the HI-STORM UMAX system and the HI-STORE consolidated interim storage facility (CISF).

Holtec remains committed to completing the NRC’s licensing process for HI-STORE CISF and remains equally committed to providing the country a safe, secure, retrievable and centralized facility for storing spent nuclear fuel on an interim basis. Once licensed, HI-STORE could be operational as soon as 2024. Working closely with our partner the Eddy Lea Energy Alliance, the project continues to have strong local support.”

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NRC ‘indicates acceptance’ of Kairos Safety Evaluation

(WNA) The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued a draft safety evaluation report indicating its initial acceptance of Kairos Power’s source term methodology for its Kairos Power fluoride salt-cooled high temperature reactor (KP-FHR). The topical report, which Kairos submitted to the regulator in June 2020, is the first of its kind to be reviewed by the NRC.

The report, which outlines the company’s approach to calculating the amount of radioactive material that could be released to the environment during an accident, was developed through a cost-shared award from the US Department of Energy (DOE).

If approved, a final safety evaluation report could be issued by February 2022 and could be used throughout the licensing process, reducing risks associated with the licensing and deployment of the reactor.

The KP-HFR uses TRISO – TRI-structural ISOtropic – fuel, first developed by DOE in the 1960s. Research by Idaho National Laboratory has indicated that the source term for TRISO-based fuel is significantly less than for traditional fuels, DOE said, adding that this “further reinforces the enhanced safety and operation of Kairos’s reactor design as it continues with the pre-licensing phase of the NRC process”.

“This accomplishment strengthens our team’s extensive pre-application engagement with the NRC and builds licensing certainty for our advanced reactor technology,” Kairos Power CEO Mike Laufer said. “In combination with our iterative hardware demonstrations, our licensing engagement contributes to the cost certainty that will be necessary for commercial demonstration and deployment.”

Kairos filed the first portion of an application for a construction permit on 09/29/21 to build the 35 MWe Hermes molten salt test reactor at a site in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

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Terrestrial Energy Signs Agreement for the Supply of Steam Turbines for IMSR Nuclear Power Plant

Terrestrial Energy and Siemens Energy Canada have signed a contract for the manufacturing and supply of steam turbines and other balance-of-plant equipment, such as transformers, switchgear, and motor drive systems, for the Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR), a Generation IV nuclear power plant.

The IMSR generates steam for power generation at standard utility class temperature and pressure, and from systems that are isolated from its nuclear reactor. This not only drives a transformative 50 per cent improvement in the economics of nuclear power generation, but it also simplifies engineering challenges by enabling procurement of standard utility steam turbines.

In turn, this facilitates design readiness and early power plant deployment schedules. This approach eliminates the complex, costly and lengthy development schedules of highly customized turbines required by non-Generation IV reactor technologies for power generation such as BWR technology, all of which are use low temperature and non-standard industry steam supply.

Siemens Energy is a global leader in the supply of utility steam turbines to the electric power sector with a fleet of more than 60,000 steam turbines operating worldwide.

“Partnering with Siemens Energy to supply these key power plant components underscores the readiness of our Generation IV power plant design and its superior economics over SMR power plant designs that use Generation III reactor technologies,” said Simon Irish, CEO of Terrestrial Energy.

“Its superior thermal efficiency and economics will be key to SMR success in a completive global market seeking a clean energy alternative to fossil fuels.”

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A Modest Proposal to Save the Versatile Test Reactor

vtrlogoIssue:  In mid August the House Appropriations Committee reported out a bill for 2022 with $1.7 billion in funding for Department of Energy programs, but it set zero funding for the versatile test reactor (VTR). The committee report did not provide an explanation for this action despite the fact there is broad support from the nuclear science and engineering communities and academia.

Unless a rescue plan is put in place soon, it could be a year, or longer, or maybe even never, for the VTR to get funded by the government, as presently proposed, which is a major new test reactor to be build at the Idaho National Laboratory.

Background:  Currently, a broad coalition of nuclear scientists and technical experts at national laboratories and research universities have published articles and white papers explaining why the versatile test reactor is necessary. In 2020 some commercial developers also spoke up.

Dr. Kathryn Huff, DOE’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy, has a stump speech on the VTR which she presents in response to every chance she gets to speak. Advocacy by technical experts is necessary but not sufficient to get the attention of congress.

Discussion: The design of the Versatile Test Reactor has the same technical legacy as TerraPower’s Natrium advanced reactor. The firm has announced that it plans to build the a Natrium reactor for its customer – Rocky Mountain Power – at the site of a coal fired power plant in Kemmerer, WY.

The location of the site is significant because it is only 140 miles northeast of Salt Lake City, and, even more significantly, it is only 210 miles southeast of Idaho Falls, ID, the home of the Idaho National Laboratory. It makes it an idea location to graft on the capabilities of the VTR to the same reactor design as if it was built from scratch in Idaho.

TP Natrium

Proposal #1: Add Two Test Loops to the TerraPower Natrium Reactor to be Built in Wyoming

The VTR can be saved if the Department of Energy (DOE) will partner with TerraPower to fund the addition of at least two VTR test loops on to the commercial Natrium reactor which is to be built in Wyoming. This effort would create the capabilities of the VTR on the same platform as if DOE was building the VTR from the ground up in in Idaho.  The test loops would be pursued after the license was granted by the NRC for the commercial unit.

Note that there is precedent by DOE for using commercial reactors for R&D testing. The agency has plans to use one of the SMRs to be built by NuScale at the Idaho lab for R&D testing of hydrogen production and process heat applications and related materials to support them.

The Attraction of Cost Efficiency Can Sell the Deal

The cost of the adding two test loops to the Natrium reactor is easily less than a tenth of the cost of an entirely new VTR reactor ($3-6 billion) and could be built in tandem with the commercial unit.  The total cost of the Natrium reactor to be built in Wyoming will be about $1.4 billion. The first of a kind (FOAK)  unit will always cost more due to built in R&D and design costs.

“One important thing to realize is the first plant always costs more,” TerraPower CEO Chris Levesque said in a video call with the media per CNBC. TerraPower said in 2020 that its plants would cost around $1 billion, Reuters reported in June.

The cost savings of just adding the test loops to the commercial Natrium unit, compared to asking congress for the funds to build an entirely new reactor, would be a “win” for all concerned. It would remove the challenges faced by  advocates of the VTR of swimming upstream like a salmon past a cadre of hungry bears to build the entire $3-6 billion facility. It would show Congress that DOE and the commercial nuclear industry can delivery a cost-effective test stand without breaking the bank.

up rr coalThe relatively short driving distance to the site from Idaho Falls, or from Salt Lake City, would make the test facility easily accessible to any developer of advanced nuclear technologies or the fuels needed to power them. R&D staff from the INL could easily access the Kemmerer site which is basically less than half a day’s drive from Idaho Falls.

Kemmerer is also served by the Union Pacific railroad which delivers coal to the current power plant.  As a practical matter, the rail head there will also be needed serve delivery of reactor components as well as materials like steel and concrete to built the Natrium reactor.

Licensing and Construction Timelines

Currently, the ATR has only one test loop available for use by developers of advanced reactors and their fuels which has resulted in a backlog of applications to use the facility. Some developers are building their own test stands and others are seeking commercial services outside the US.

The problem of testing for new reactor designs, including materials and fuels, is not unique to the US.  In the UK Rolls-Royce, which will submit its 470 MWe PWR to the UK Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR) for the kick-off of the four-year generic design assessment, is considering using test facilities in Italy to support the effort due to a lack of capacity in the UK.

The timeframe to add the test loops to the Natrium reactor would be similar to or perhaps faster than starting from scratch to add two new test loops to the Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) which according to some sources, is a five- year bureaucratic slog. An additional option would be to create space in the Wyoming Natrium reactor to add more test loops in future years to support testing missions as needed including both civilian and defense customers in the US and perhaps international customers as well.

TerraPower anticipates submitting the plant’s construction permit application to the NRC in mid-2023. The plant is expected to be operational in the next seven years.

According to project estimates, approximately 2,000 workers will be needed for construction at the project’s peak. Once the plant is operational, approximately 250 people will support day-to-day activities, including plant security. The timeframe to build the Natrium reactor in Wyoming is close to the one to build an entirely new VTR.

vtr timeline

Proposal #2Partner with DOD and Make the National Security Case for the VTR and Natrium

There is a natural partner for this the idea of adding two test loops to the Natrium Reactor to create a VTR type capability.  It is the Department of Defense which under Project Pele is developing 1-5 MWe mini reactors for use to insure tactical readiness of military bases by supplying reliable electricity to them. There are two reasons why this partnership is necessary.

project pele

The commercial nuclear industry is the the supplier of the mini reactor designs. If the commercial nuclear industry hopes to benefit from DOD’s work on Project Pele, it is going to need the VTR to validate key elements of their designs. The military does not buy technologies that are self-certified by their vendors.

It follows that if DOE can be convinced that it is in their interests to buy in to the creation of two VTR test loops at the Natrium reactor in Wyoming, that this would be added throw weight in the effort to convince congress to fund the effort.

Don’t Waste Time. The Russians are Coming

By the way, the Russians will be happy to do exactly the same thing as the VTR with their version of it which they are building right now. Developers in other countries will have access to it. The message to US commercial developers is that it they want market share, support the VTR or others will take it from you. Losing the funding for VTR would be a terrible missed opportunity. Don’t blow it. Hitch your wagon to the Natrium reactor in Wyoming.

What is the Versatile Test Reactor?

VTR will help scientists and engineers create safer, longer-lasting and more efficient fuels, materials, sensors and instrumentation required for nuclear technologies.

It will streamline the development of new nuclear technologies that can help bring reliable, affordable electricity to remote areas or provide the heat and energy needed to produce hydrogen, provide the high-temperature process heat needed for industrial applications, and produce clean water from brackish water, salt water or wastewater.

The Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) is a one-of-a-kind scientific user facility capable of performing large-scale, fast-spectrum neutron irradiation tests and experiments simply not possible today. It will support research, development and demonstration of innovative nuclear energy technologies (with a focus on fuels, materials and sensors in representative environments) that can supply the world with abundant carbon-free energy.

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With the addition of VTR, the United States will again lead the world in nuclear energy research, safety and security while also supporting United States industry partners as they commercialize new technologies. See also the full VTR FAQ https://inl.gov/vtr/

What will VTR do?

Test reactors are scientific research tools. They provide intense neutron fluxes that are used to simulate prototypical conditions or conduct accelerated neutron damage irradiation studies.

Real-time measurements and subsequent post-irradiation examination techniques provide valuable information on how fuels, materials, components and instrumentation withstand the extreme conditions inside nuclear power plants and even future fusion reactors. This enables scientists and engineers to design safer, longer-lasting and more efficient fuels, materials and components for nuclear energy systems.

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Posted in Nuclear | 4 Comments

Westinghouse Inks Major Nuclear Reactor Deal in Ukraine – Updated 12/02/21

  • Westinghouse Inks Major Nuclear Reactor Deal in Ukraine
  • Energoatom Answers Key Questions About the Westinghouse Deal
  • Holtec Inks SMR Design Deal with South Korea’s Hyundai
  • KHNP Consortium Aiming for Nuclear Plant Projects in Czech Republic and Poland
  • NRC Indicates Acceptance of Kairos Safety Evaluation
  • William Magwood / The Way Nuclear Financing Is Politicized Is An Obstacle To Construction

Westinghouse Inks Major Nuclear Reactor Deal in Ukraine

U.S. nuclear reactor vendor Westinghouse Electric announced this week that it signed a contract with Energoatom, the state-owned nuclear utility of Ukraine, to build five 1150 MWe AP1000 reactors at four separate sites in Ukraine. Four of the units will be new and one will complete a partially built reactor at the Khmelnytskyi Nuclear Power Plant.

reactor sites ukraine WNA

Map of Nuclear Reactors in Ukraine: World Nuclear Association

The deal, with an estimated value of about $30 billion, initiates engineering and procurement of long-lead items for the first Westinghouse AP1000 unit to be built at the Khmelnytskyi site. Other sites where future AP1000s will be built, presumably under extensions of this initial agreement, include current nuclear power stations – Rovno, South Ukraine, and Zaporozhye. At the Khmelnitski site, the company will complete Unit #4 and build a new Unit #5.

Petro Kotin, acting president of Energoatom, said in a press statement that the agreement includes completion of all new nuclear plants under this agreement by 2035. . He added Ukraine wants eight new units at two new “greenfield” sites between 2032-2040. Overall, the country is planning as much as 11 GWe of new build by 2040. All of the current nuclear plants in Ukraine are Russian built VVERs.

Kotin said Energoatom is also looking at potential new sites for nuclear power in Ukraine, with one option being Orbita near the abandoned Soviet-era Chigirin nuclear power plant in central Ukraine. He said Energoatom was working to get the site approved for this use.

Ukraine Build Out

Table: Neutron Bytes – Hypothetical Build Out of AP1000s in Ukraine

Kotin said Energoatom, which operates Ukraine’s fleet of 15 commercial nuclear power units, is looking to both its own resources and external credit to fund its new-build ambitions. He did not provide any additional details.

The problem with this ambiguous statement is that it creates a vacuum into which all sorts of misinterpretations can move to fill the void. For instance, not talking about the finances can be seen as either the principals in the deal don’t have the funding, or at least not yet, or the money is coming from places they don’t want to talk about. The sooner details on the financial structure of the deal are made public, the better.

Brookfield, the private equity fund that owns Westinghouse, last April was reported to be considering selling the firm. Is the firm still planning to cash out? According to the Reuters report, Westinghouse has met expectations in terms of generating new profits as well as covering the initial cost of buying it from Toshiba. The profits come from reactor maintenance services and sales of nuclear fuel not from deals involving new reactors.

Indeed, when Brookfield bought the firm it noted that it was not interested in that part of the industry. The Ukraine deal, which involves five nuclear reactors, is a big change from that position. Is Brookfield onboard with it especially with Russian forces looming on the eastern borders of Ukraine possibly poised for new hostilities there?

Westinghouse did not respond to media inquiries about the financial terms and conditions for the contract or the actual costs involved in it. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) formally declined to comment on the massive reactor deal.

At COP26 DOE Secretary Jennifer Granholm announced a deal between SMR builder NuScale and Romania but made no mention of the then pending deal between Westinghouse and Energoatom. The climate conference would have been an ideal platform to announce a deal of this magnitude with a US manufacturer of nuclear technologies including reactors and fuel.

DOE certainly would have been aware of the Ukraine deal being in motion by then as the broad outlines of it were announced last August. DOE did announce in October that Westinghouse had inked a deal to “optimize” some of the current reactors in Ukraine.  Westinghouse will work with the country’s nuclear power plant operators to assess the system configurations and maintenance routines of each reactor. There was no mention of a deal to build new reactors.

Kotin said the cost of construction of the first new AP1000 will be $5 billion and it will take five years to complete. He noted that the AP1000 technology offers “maximum localization and optimal cost.” After first pilot unit at Khmelnitski is complete, 60% of equipment will be supplied by Ukrainian suppliers.

Energoatom hopes to use some of the abandoned equipment from the failed VC Summer project in South Carolina which was to have built two AP1000s. A delegation from the Ukrainian firm visited the V C Summer site last April to kick the tires.

Energoatom said that earlier this month that Westinghouse engineers visited Ukraine to inspect the Khmelnitski partially built reactors to assess the feasibility of completing one or both of them. As a practical matter it will be much easier to complete a unit which is barely one quarter complete than to tackle the complexity of one that is three quarters complete.

Given the experience of Westinghouse in building four AP1000s in China, a five year schedule for each of the four new units is plausible. The new AP1000s will likely cost more than $5 billion each, but if Westinghouse stages its starts for each unit two year apart, it can leverage staffing and supply chains to achieve some economies of scale. Separately, improvements to the nation’s electrical grid will also be a cost factor.

Units #3 and #4 at the Khmelnytskyi site are partially built Russian 1000 MWe VVER with Unit #3 being 75% complete and Unit #4 being 28% complete. A spokesman for Energoatom told wire services that Ukraine would separately complete Unit #3 with its own resources. No schedule nor a cost estimate was provided for this scope of work.

reactors suspended ukraine WNA

Table: World Nuclear Association

Ukraine has a current agreement with the U.S. under Section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act which should facilitate clearance of export control requirements for Westinghouse technologies. The signing ceremony for the deal was held in Kiev attended by Ukraine Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko, and US Charge d’affaires to Ukraine Kristina Kvien.

“We are proud to continue our partnership with Energoatom in supporting its objectives to develop nuclear power plants in Ukraine. This contract to build the first AP1000 plant at the Khmelnytskyi site brings the country one step closer to reaching its de-carbonization and energy security objectives. We look forward to continuing our work with Energoatom to ensure that Ukraine is able to utilize clean, reliable, and cost-effective nuclear energy for the future,” said Patrick Fragman, President and CEO of Westinghouse.

Westinghouse said in its press statement that the AP1000 plant is a proven Gen III+ reactor. It has unique fully passive safety systems, modularized standard design, high operability performance and load following capability. The AP1000 projects will provide Energoatom and Ukraine with substantial economic and localization benefits through the construction and operating life of each reactor. Ukraine, based on its industrial capabilities, is likely to request to be tasked with forging the reactor pressure vessels, steam generators, and powerhouse turbines.

Small Modular Reactors in Ukraine

According to a profile of nuclear energy in Ukraine by the World Nuclear Association, in June 2019 the Ukrainian Module Consortium was set up between US company Holtec, Energoatom, and the State Scientific and Technical Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety (SSTC NRS). It announced that it was considering building six SMR-160s at the country’s Rivne nuclear power station site from 2030.

Energoatom was considering deploying SMR-160 units more widely to complement intermittent renewables. Holtec has an manufacturing center in Kiev which currently makes casks for dry storage of spent nuclear fuel. It is also configured to support factory based manufacturing of the SMR-160.

In February 2020 the SSTC NRS signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with NuScale Power regarding collaboration on the regulatory and design gaps between the US and Ukrainian processes for the licensing, construction, and operation of a NuScale power plant in Ukraine.

In September 2021 Energoatom signed an MoU with NuScale to explore the deployment of NuScale units in Ukraine. It said: “We are considering the possibility of building SMRs in Ukraine to replace carbon-emitting thermal power plants and to increase the load-following capacities of the Ukrainian energy system.”

Energoatom Answers Key Questions About the Westinghouse Deal

  1. How will the work be financed? Is Ukraine paying 100% of all costs or is the US providing export loans / credits to Westinghouse or foreign aid to Ukraine to pay for some or all of the costs?

Funds provided by the Export-Import Bank of the United States and other international institutions as well as Energoatom’s own funds are expected to be the main sources of financing the construction of new power units.

Notes:
1.
New power units are planned as four 1150 MWe AP1000 nuclear reactors. At $5,000/Kw, the four new units would cost about $23 billion. Completion of two partially built VVERs is discussed below.
2. NeutronBytes has sent an inquiry to the Export-Import Bank in Washington, DC, asking for confirmation and further details on the bank’s scope and level of support.

  1. What is the schedule for completion of the two partially built units and completion of the four new units.

The first 5 power units under AP1000 technology will be constructed at the sites of existing Ukrainian NPPs, which have the necessary logistics and infrastructure. A project of construction of two power units will be launched at the Khmelnytskyy NPP site. Construction is expected to begin in 2022 while connected to the grid – approximately in 2028 and 2029. Furthermore, Energoatom, together with partners from Westinghouse, is considering the possibility of completing KhNPP unit 3 using VVER technology with a possible connection to the grid in 2027. The unfinished power unit 4 can be used as a warehouse or as a location for a training simulator.

  1. How much “localization” is included in the terms and conditions, e.g, what reactor and non-nuclear components will be manufactured in Ukraine?

Given the capabilities of the Ukrainian industry, it is expected that the share of localization of equipment for new power units may reach 50% or more. For example, in Ukraine there are companies capable to manufacture equipment for the turbine island.

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Holtec Inks SMR Design Deal with South Korea’s Hyundai

(WNN) and (South Korean wire services) Holtec International has inked an agreement with Hyundai Engineering & Construction of South Korea for the turnkey supply of Holtec’s SMR-160 small modular reactor (SMR) plant worldwide. Holtec is considering deploying the first SMR-160 at Oyster Creek in New Jersey, where it is currently in the process of decommissioning. It is a former boiling water reactor.

Hyundai Engineering & Construction will perform the detailed design of the balance of plant and prepare the full plant construction specification for the SMR-160, which Holtec has been developing since 2010.

Holtec will serve as the overall architect engineer for the plant and provide the major nuclear components through its US manufacturing facilities and international supply chain, and will provide the instrumentation and control systems through its partnership with Mitsubishi Electric Corporation. Framatome is the selected fuel vendor for SMR-160.

Under a teaming agreement, Hyundai E&C and Holtec would jointly develop a commercialization model, promote joint projects and participate in marketing and bidding together.

“Through this contract, we have laid the groundwork to move away from orders and construction-oriented businesses to a pre-construction solution partner such as the development of new technologies, global sales, purchase, and construction,” Hyundai E&C CEO Yoon Young-joon said in a statement on 11/24/21.

Yoon said his company would be reborn as a total solution creator that encompasses all areas from investment and development to operation by focusing all our efforts on promoting new businesses such as automation and smart cities.

The cooperation with Hyundai combines Holtec’s expertise in design, engineering, manufacturing, and project delivery of nuclear components with Hyundai’s EPC and construction management capabilities for major projects, Holtec said. The framework of the agreement and worldwide collaboration will support standardization of the SMR-160 design.

“The partnership with Hyundai Engineering & Construction enhances our ability to deliver SMR-160 projects on schedule and at a competitive price,” Holtec Senior Vice President of International Projects Rick Springman said.

The SMR-160 is a pressurized light-water reactor, generating 160 MWe (525 MWt) using low-enriched uranium fuel, with flexibility to produce process heat for industrial applications and hydrogen production. The design has completed the first phase of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s three-phase pre-licensing vendor design review, and is undergoing pre-licensing activities with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Holtec said it aims to secure a US construction licence in 2025, and is “actively exploring the possibility” of deploying an SMR-160 at Oyster Creek. It acquired the site from Exelon in 2019 following the plant’s closure the previous year.

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KHNP Consortium Aiming for Nuclear Plant Projects in Czech Republic and Poland

Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) held a meeting on 11/23/21 regarding new nuclear power plant construction projects in the Czech Republic and Poland. The meeting was attended by the consortium members including KEPCO E&C, KEPCO Nuclear Fuel, KPS, Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction and Daewoo Engineering & Construction.

In Poland, the tender is scheduled for next year and the South Korean consortium is likely to compete against Westinghouse and EDF. In the Czech Republic, the three are currently competing for the project in Dukovany.

In the Czech Republic, both the ruling and opposition parties are in favor of the project and against Russia’s and China’s participation in it. The security assessment procedure for it was initiated in June this year and the South Korean consortium is planning to submit its bid before the end of June next year.

Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Moon Sung-wook and KHNP President Chung Jae-hoon visited Poland on 11/05/21 to discuss the consortium’s participation in the project. “We are convinced that the South Korean consortium is the best choice in terms of technology, economic efficiency, business capabilities and financing,” they said.

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NRC Indicates Acceptance of Kairos Safety Evaluation

(WNN) The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued a draft safety evaluation report indicating its initial acceptance of Kairos Power’s source term methodology for its Kairos Power fluoride salt-cooled high temperature reactor (KP-FHR). The topical report, which Kairos submitted to the regulator in June 2020, is the first of its kind to be reviewed by the NRC. KP-FHR Mechanistic Source Term Methodology

The report, which outlines the company’s approach to calculating the amount of radioactive material that could be released to the environment during an accident, was developed through a cost-shared award from the US Department of Energy (DOE).

If approved, a final safety evaluation report could be issued by February 2022 and could be used throughout the licensing process, reducing risks associated with the licensing and deployment of the reactor.

The KP-HFR uses TRISO – TRI-structural ISOtropic. Research by Idaho National Laboratory has indicated that the source term for TRISO-based fuel is significantly less than for traditional fuels adding that this “further reinforces the enhanced safety and operation of Kairos’s reactor design as it continues with the pre-licensing phase of the NRC process.”

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William Magwood / The Way Nuclear Financing Is Politicized Is An Obstacle To Construction

(NucNet) The world will need about 1,160 GWe of installed nuclear capacity – up from about 400 GW today – if it is to meet its climate targets, but the way financing for reactors is politicized is an obstacle to construction.

William Magwood, director-general of the Nuclear Energy Agency, said the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has drawn up about 90 scenarios for fighting climate change and the average of all 90 would mean 1,160 GWe of reactor capacity is needed by 2050, an increase of almost 200%.

The additional 760 GWe of capacity would be equivalent to about 460 new 1,630-MW (net) EPR units of the type being built by France’s EDF, or 640 Russian VVER V-510K units of 1,175 MW (net) each.

“It seems quite obvious that nuclear will have to play a large role,” Mr Magwood said. “The numbers tell us that if nuclear doesn’t play a role, meeting the climate challenge will be difficult if not impossible.”

Mr Magwood warned, however, that the politicization of nuclear financing makes it very difficult to build new nuclear plants because nuclear “comes with risk factors that do not have anything to do with technology”.

He said there is the political risk that governments change and change their decisions; the market risk because clarity is lacking on revenue from long-term nuclear projects; and construction risk because experience has been so limited that “many western countries have forgotten how to build nuclear plants”.

The only way to address these risks is with government policies, Mr Magwood said. “Policies need to be technology neutral and recognize that we need all technologies,” Magwood said.

Earlier this year Magwood said nuclear power is “coming back to the table” as an option for many countries and can work with renewables provide a very clear pathway to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050.

He said continued operation of nuclear power plants has been identified as the lowest-cost clean energy production. “Countries are beginning to see this. Nuclear power is the only expandable, dispatchable, low-cost and low-carbon source of electricity. It can make a very important contribution in the future to provide a stable grid.”

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A Call to Action – Save the Versatile Test Reactor

vtrlogoThe House Appropriations Committee zeroed out funding for the Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) for 2022. The reasons were mostly due to an absence of organized advocacy for it from commercial developers of advanced nuclear reactor designs, individually and as a trade group, and despite there being very organized support for it from national labs and other R&D organizations.

Experts from six national labs, 18 universities and 10 industry partner organizations are contributing to the design of this one-of-a-kind science facility. Once operational, VTR will welcome researchers and developers from all over, creating a collection of shared knowledge that will stimulate industry and boost economies across the United States.

vtr overview

Here are Two Quick Take-aways for the Situation

The Train is Leaving the Station!

train leaving the stationWant to save funding for the Versatile Test Reactor?  Developers of advanced nuclear reactors must speak with one voice to Congress in favor of it. An Omnibus funding bill comes up fast in December.  It is a train leaving the station.

If funding is not restored in the omnibus appropriation to fund the government for the rest of the year, a vote for which occurs in early December, it will be another year before funding can be considered for the project.

The reason is that these firms will need its testing capabilities to certify that their fuels, materials, sensors, and components will work in the demanding conditions that these plants are designed to operate in. There is no other way to do it. Self-certification either directly or with fuel and component vendors, is not a viable strategy.

vtr timeline
Real-time measurements and post-irradiation examination techniques will provide valuable information on how fuels, materials, components and instrumentation withstand the extreme conditions inside nuclear power plants. This is crucial information needed to design, license, and build successful implementations of advanced nuclear reactors.

The Advanced Test Reactor (ATR), which has performed this mission for the past 60 years, is undergoing a once-a-decade refurbishment and will be available soon to continue this scope of work while the VTR is being built. The VTR is the next generation of test reactors.

The Russians Are Coming for Lunch – Ours!

sputnikIn case anyone thinks the US can do without the VTR, here’s what the Russians are up to. Want a “sputnik moment,” just do nothing and allow kill off the funding for VTR and then watch one whiz by.

Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear corporation, is promoting the use of its multi-purpose fast neutron research reactor (MBIR) which is under construction at the Research Institute of Atomic Reactors (NIIAR) in Dimitrovgrad in the Ulyanovsk region of Russia, located about 1,600 miles east of Moscow. The state owned enterprise is hawking its capabilities and soliciting partnerships on an international scale.

mbir schedule
It is creating an International Research Center (IRC) to be a home for cooperative R&D and test projects. According to the June 2020 briefing, four nations have signed up so far – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia. The briefing says these arrangements, and others like it, will support the IRC’s ambitions to become a world class center of excellence for testing materials to be used in fast neutron reactors.

The purpose of the MBIR construction effort is to have a high-flux fast test reactor with unique capabilities to implement the following tasks:

– in-pile tests and post-irradiation examination,
– production of heat and electricity,
– testing of new technologies for the radioisotopes,
– modified materials production.

MBIR will be used for materials testing for Generation IV fast neutron reactors including high temperature gas-cooled, molten salt, and lead-bismuth designs. Experiments that are proposed to be undertaken include measuring the performance of core components under normal and emergency conditions.

Call your elected representatives today
if you want to make a difference

Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee
https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/about/members

Contact your Senator
https://www.senate.gov/senators/senators-contact.htm

Members of the House Appropriation Committee
https://appropriations.house.gov/about/membership

Contact your representative
https://ziplook.house.gov/htbin/findrep_house?ZIP=

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INL & NASA Seek Industry Partners to Design a Nuclear Power Plant for the Moon

  • Battelle Energy Alliance, NASA Seek Industry Partners To Design Nuclear Power System For Lunar Applications
  • NASA Thinks US Needs Nuclear-powered Spacecraft to Stay Ahead of China
  • Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory wins $1 billion contract from AFRL for Space Nuclear Prototypes
  • US / New Funding Includes Site Feasibility Study For SMRs And Microreactors In Puerto Rico
  • Funding for Fusion Energy in the House-passed Build Back Better Legislation

Battelle Energy Alliance, NASA Seek Industry Partners To Design Nuclear Power System For Lunar Applications

NASA nuclear power on the moonBattelle Energy Alliance, contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory, and NASA are seeking proposals from nuclear and space industry leaders to develop innovative technologies for a fission surface power (FSP) system for lunar power applications.

The request for proposal can be viewed here. Proposals are due by Feb. 19, 2022. The contract is worth $5M. Q&A via email:  sebastian.corbisiero@inl.gov

The FSP project is sponsored by NASA in collaboration with the Department of the Energy and INL to establish a durable, high-power, sun-independent power source for NASA missions on the moon by the end of the decade, as well as potential subsequent missions. The proposal request targets the initial system design.

“A draft of the request for proposal has received significant interest from industry. “The feedback and enthusiasm we continue to see for space nuclear power systems has been very exciting, and understandably so,” said Sebastian Corbisiero, the Fission Surface Power Project lead at INL.

“Providing a reliable, high-power system on the moon is a vital next step in human space exploration, and achieving it is within our grasp.”

“Plentiful energy will be key to future space exploration,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C., which funds NASA’s fission surface power project.

“I expect fission surface power systems to greatly benefit our plans for power architectures for the moon and Mars and even drive innovation for uses here on Earth.”

Five Fast Facts About Fission Applications on the Moon

  • Fission surface power can provide abundant and continuous power regardless of environmental conditions on the Moon and Mars.
  • NASA plans to demonstrate and use a fission surface power system on the Moon first, then Mars.
  • NASA is collaborating with DOE and industry to design, fabricate, and test a 10-kilowatt class fission power system to operate on the Moon by the late 2020s.
  • NASA’s fission surface power project builds on heritage projects spanning 50 years, including SNAP-10A, NASA’s Kilopower project, and recent developments in commercial nuclear power and fuel technology.
  • Fission surface power reactor designs will focus on using low enriched uranium fuels.

Want More Information?

NASA’s fission surface power project is managed by NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. The technology development and demonstration are funded by the Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Technology Demonstration Missions program, which is located at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

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NASA Thinks US Needs Nuclear-powered Spacecraft to Stay Ahead of China

(Space.com) The U.S. needs to invest more in nuclear-powered spacecraft to be competitive with nations like China. During a government hearing on 10/20/21 experts from NASA and the aerospace industry discussed how the U.S. stacks up against other nations when it comes to developing new nuclear propulsion technology. The U.S. needs to move quickly if it wants to keep up.

The congressional committee hearing, called “Accelerating deep space travel with space nuclear propulsion,” took place before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Science, Space and Technology Committee.

“Strategic competitors including China are aggressively investing in a wide range of space technologies, including nuclear power and propulsion,” Bhavya Lal, NASA’s senior advisor for budget and finance, said in the hearing. “The United States needs to move at a fast pace to stay competitive and to remain a leader in the global space community.”

Highlights of Opening Hearing Statement – Rep. Don Beyer, (D-VA)

In terms of travel to Mars, space nuclear propulsion can produce thrust far more efficiently than conventional chemical systems, allowing for shorter trip times to Mars. Why does this matter? One reason is that shortening the trip reduces the risk of space radiation exposure to our astronauts. Another is that, depending on the technology used, space nuclear propulsion may enable more frequent trips to Mars than the typical 26- month intervals that rely on favorable Earth and Mars alignment. Reducing that 26-month interval increases mission flexibility to enable both cargo deliveries and human
missions to Mars.

Mars-missions-with-nuclear-thermal-propulsion_thumb.png

However, building an operational space nuclear propulsion system is hard and the technical challenges are many. Choosing a nuclear fuel type and source, developing a space-qualified fission reactor, developing the requisite materials and infrastructure, and carrying out testing, all while managing the required safety protocols for nuclear activities, are just a few examples of those challenges.

To date, the U.S.’s use of space nuclear technology has been in battery-like radioisotope power sources for probes traveling to distances where sunlight is insufficient  to produce power for the spacecraft. When it comes to propulsion, the United States has yet to fly a fully integrated space nuclear propulsion system in space.

A recent NASA-commissioned National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine study on space nuclear propulsion found that a system could be ready to support a human mission to Mars in 2039, but only if we act aggressively now. According to the study, the required space nuclear propulsion systems would need to be available in 2033 for advanced cargo emplacement and risk reduction prior to a human mission.

Congress has prioritized development of nuclear space propulsion over the past several years, directing about $100 million annually for NASA to advance nuclear thermal propulsion capabilities with the goal of conducting a future in-space flight test.

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Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory wins $1 billion contract from AFRL for Space Nuclear Prototypes

(Space News) The Air Force Research Laboratory announced 11/15/21  it has awarded its largest-ever contract for space technology development to Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory.

Space Dynamics, based in North Logan, Utah, received a $1 billion five-year indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for “space and nuclear advanced prototypes, experiments and technology,” according to a news release.

The sole-source award, announced by the Defense Department on Nov. 10, was not competed. Space Dynamics is one of 14 nonprofit DoD-affiliated University Affiliated Research Centers. UARCs are considered “trusted agents of the government.”

“This contract solidifies the long-term strategic partnership between AFRL and USU SDL,” said Col. Eric Felt, director of the AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate. “The partnership will accelerate critical space science and technology projects, especially when we need to quickly respond to urgent and unexpected needs.”

Felt said this contract allows AFRL to “conduct scientific investigations and technology, research and development in the UARC’s core competency areas without the bureaucracy and delay of awarding multiple smaller individual contracts.”

Areas covered under the contract include space sensors, space cybersecurity, nuclear science and technology for deterrence, advanced satellite navigation and Global Positioning Systems technology, precision quantum and photonic sensors, space environmental research, small satellites and radio-frequency sensing.

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US / New Funding Includes Site Feasibility Study For SMRs And Microreactors In Puerto Rico

(NucNet) Washington wants to commercialize technologies in small island and remote locations. It selected the non-profit Nuclear Alternative Project in Puerto Rico to address this objective.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded $8.5 million to help commercialize promising advanced nuclear technologies. The funding supports industry-led projects across the country and leverages the latest modeling and simulation tools developed by DOE, in addition to siting analysis and other research activities that will inform the future deployment of advanced reactors on islands or for the potential use in maritime applications.

“Advanced reactors will completely change the way we engineer, build, and operate nuclear reactors,” said Dr. Kathryn Huff, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy.

“These awards support technical and regulatory strides necessary for commercializing new carbon-free nuclear technologies poised to help our nation reach net-zero emissions by 2050.”

The awards are funded through the Office of Nuclear Energy’s U.S. Industry Opportunities for Advanced Nuclear Technology Development funding opportunity, which has invested more than $215 million in advanced nuclear technologies since 2017. The solicitations are broken down into three funding pathways to support first-of-a-kind nuclear demonstration readiness projects, advanced reactor development projects, and direct regulatory assistance.

Summary of Awards

In Puerto Rico, the non-profit Nuclear Alternative Project will evaluate the general site suitability for SMRs and microreactors. Results of the study will support the DOE’s mission to commercialize these technologies in small island and remote locations. The funding for the project is $1,628,285.

A 2020 study by the Nuclear Alternative Project concluded that advanced nuclear reactors provide a combination of reduced electricity costs, zero-emission baseload electricity and minimal dependency on fuel imports that could lead to “a strong degree of energy security and reliability” much needed for a robust manufacturing and industrial sector in Puerto Rico.

The report said in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in September 2017 more than 3,000 deaths were attributed to the lack of electricity and basic services. This has led to a need to evaluate the feasibility of advanced nuclear reactors for Puerto Rico, a Caribbean island and US territory.

Several  other projects that  received funding include

  • Off-Gas Modeling and Uncertainty Propagation to Support Molten Salt Reactor Licensing – Terrestrial Energy USA, Inc. (Charlotte, NC) will develop an approach to handling uncertainty in the modeling of off-gas systems of molten salt reactors. The team will use available Nuclear Energy Advanced Modeling and Simulation program tools developed by DOE and will apply this methodology to the company’s Integral Molten Salt Reactor design. Total Award Value: $2,998,325
  • Accelerating Commercial Maritime Demonstration Projects for Advanced Nuclear Reactor Technologies  American Bureau of Shipping (Spring, TX) will focus on addressing hurdles in the maritime domain so that new reactor technology can be rapidly deployed for commercial applications. Advanced nuclear technology is well-positioned to be one of the strongest tools available to help the industry achieve its aggressive decarbonization goals. Total Award Value: $793,999
  • On the Path to a Nuclear Fuel Digital Twin: Modeling and Simulation of Silicon Carbide Cladding for Accelerated Fuel Qualification – General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (San Diego, CA) will deliver a constitutive model, based on physics, for its silicon carbide-based fuel for high-temperature gas reactors. The new tool will be benchmarked against commercially available models and experimental data to demonstrate to regulators how the fuel behaves under all conditions in a reactor. Total Award Value: $2,730,335

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Funding for Fusion Energy in the House-passed Build Back Better Legislation

The U.S. House of Representatives for passing HR5376, the Build Back Better Act, which includes investments into fusion energy research, development, and deployment as a part of the legislation’s climate and energy provisions. It includes $885 million for work on fusion energy systems.  The funding, which would become available if the Senate also votes for the bill and this level of support, includes.

– $325 million for a new milestone-based public private partnership program,
– $200 million for Fusion Materials Research and Development,
– $140 million for a new Inertial Fusion Research and Development program,
– $200 million for a new Alternative and Enabling Fusion Energy Concepts program, and
– $20 million to initiate Fusion Reactor System Design.

A New Public Private Partnership

In particular, the new public-private partnership program, funded at $325 million would incorporate best practices from other productive partnerships such as NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation System (COTS) and DOE’s Small Modular Reactor (SMR) Licensing Technical Support and Advanced Reactor Demonstration (ARDP) cost-share programs.

This program would support the development of a US-based fusion power industry by researching and developing technologies leading to the construction of new full-scale fusion demonstration facilities.

The goal of this program would be for private companies to build demonstration facilities in partnership with the government capable of making significant improvements in the performance of fusion systems and leading to the establishment of a new clean energy source for the nation.

This new performance-based program will directly reimburse private companies for the development of new US-based fusion capabilities over a fixed program period. Government dollars would be leveraged with substantial private sector cost share.

Payments for Performance

Payments from the government would not be made until jointly established milestones throughout each company’s trajectory have been completed by industry and verified by DOE; if industry participants failed to reach these agreed-upon milestones, no government payments would be made, and the government would have the option to redirect those funds elsewhere in the program. A simple application process would encourage a broad range of applicants and result in a portfolio of many participants with diverse technologies through a competitive process.

Next Steps for the Legislation

As the bill passes the House, the Senate is expected to offer significant changes throughout. The Fusion Industry Association and the broader fusion community support the House-passed language on fusion energy research. There are opportunities in the Senate to increase overall funding for both U.S. National Lab infrastructure and Department of Energy R&D spending.

Recent significant investments by the governments of China and the UK show their intent to be the first to commercialize fusion energy. These investments, if launched now and sustained over the next decade,  will ensure the U.S. takes the global lead in fusion energy with the demonstration of multiple commercial fusion energy technologies, an advantage that will last decades and result in a clean, safe electric power grid for generations to come.

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Rolls-Royce 470 MWe Design to Begin GDA in 2022

  • UK / Rolls-Royce Begins Generic Design Assessment Process For 470-MW SMR Design
  • Qatar to Take £100m Stake in Rolls-Royce Nuclear Reactor Business
  • Nuclear Finance Revamp Will Attract U.K. Pension Funds, EDF Says
  • France Plans on Building Nuclear Reactors Again

UK / Rolls-Royce Begins Generic Design Assessment Process For 470-MW SMR Design

(NucNet) Rrolls-royve-logoolls-Royce SMR Ltd, which last week announced it had raised £450m in funding from investors and the government, has submitted its 470-MW small modular reactor design for entry to the UK’s generic design assessment (GDA) regulatory process.The engineering giant wants new generation reactors to be deployed in early 2030s.

The company said the first step is to secure clearance from the department for business, energy and industrial strategy through its initial screening process. This will confirm the Rolls-Royce SMR business is qualified to enter the GDA process, which is run jointly by the Office for Nuclear Regulation, Natural Resources Wales and Environment Agency.

This initial screening process reviews whether a company has the capability and capacity to enter the GDA process. The government evaluation is expected to take up to four months before the regulators can begin their formal review process. This means the GDA could begin by early Spring 2022.

Helena Perry, regulatory and safety affairs director at Rolls-Royce SMR, said: “This is an important moment for the nuclear industry, as a UK SMR reactor design enters the initial process for regulatory approval for the first time. We have already made 270 design decisions during our pre-licensing engagement and are confident of working with the experienced regulatory teams to deliver an efficient GDA process.”

The GDA process is expected to take four to five years, during which time, Rolls-Royce SMR will engage in a range of parallel activities, including factory development, site selection, site preparation, and related commercial discussions.

rolls royce build out

Ms Perry said: “We will have around 300 people working full time on these important regulatory processes. Both the industry and regulators have learnt a great deal from previous GDA processes and we will integrate those lessons into the collaborative approach we will take with the UK regulators.”

Rolls-Royce said last week that it had established the Rolls-Royce SMR business to deploy SMRs that could be available to the UK grid in the early 2030s. The new business has been formed with investors BNF Resources and the US generator Exelon Generation with a joint investment of £195m to fund the plans over the next three years.

The government will match the consortium’s investment, which is set to receive a second phase of £50m from Rolls-Royce, with £210m to help roll out the SMRs as part of the government’s green 10-point plan, announced in December 2020, to kickstart the green economy over the next decade. The 10-point plan included investing £525m to help develop large and smaller-scale nuclear plants, and research and develop new advanced modular reactors.

Discussions will continue with the government on long-term investment in the project. “Rolls-Royce SMR is engaging with export customers across many continents who need this technology to meet their own net zero commitments,” a statement said.

Rolls-Royce said the potential for this to be a leading global export for the UK is unprecedented. Nine-tenths of an individual Rolls-Royce SMR power plant will be built or assembled in factory conditions and around 80% could be delivered by a UK supply chain.

Much of the venture’s investment is expected to be focused in the north of the UK, where there is significant existing nuclear expertise.

Rolls-Royce said its SMR can support both on-grid electricity and off-grid clean energy solutions, enabling the decarbonization of industrial processes and the production of clean fuels, such as sustainable aviation fuels and green hydrogen.

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Qatar to Take £100m Stake in Rolls-Royce Nuclear Reactor Business

Qatar will join billionaire French oil dynasty the Perrodo family, which made its fortune from the private oil company Perenco, and US nuclear giant Exelon Generation, as Roll-Royce’s partners in the project.

Earlier this month, the Qatar Foundation and Rolls-Royce agreed a deal to invest in green technology as part of a plan to create up to 10,000 jobs and ultimately create up to five new billion-dollar businesses.

Last week, Rolls Royce raised £195m backed by the Perrodo’s family investment firm and Exelon Generation in a deal that unlocks a further £210m of UK taxpayer funding.

Rolls Royce will need many more hundreds of millions of pounds to complete research, testing and design of its proposed power plants. It will probably require more than $1 bilion of funding if its development program is anywhere near as expensive as NuScale’s experience was in the US.

The company plans on making the reactors by the early 2030s, which is a timetable that could prove optimistic depending on the outcome of the GDA process and access to capital to build the plants. Rolls has set a target for each small reactor to cost £1.8bn.

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Nuclear Finance Revamp Will Attract U.K. Pension Funds, EDF Says

The U.K.’s proposed overhaul of the financing mechanism for nuclear power plants will attract more local investors, making the government less dependent on Chinese money for infrastructure projects, says EDF the developer of the 20 billion-pound ($26.9 billion) Sizewell C project.

The Bloomberg wire service reports that a bill passing through parliament implements the regulated asset base, or RAB, model to encourage private-sector investment in nuclear power and dilute the construction risk shouldered by U.K. taxpayers and developers. A key element is the link to the Consumer Price Index, thus making it an attractive investment for U.K. pension funds, according to Electricite de France SA.(EDF)

The government is seeking to remove state-owned China General Nuclear Power Corp. from all future projects in Britain.  Sizewell’s majority partner, EDF, is in financing talks with officials on options that may now exclude CGN, which owns a 20% stake in the power station. EDF has said the proposed plant in eastern England is viable without Chinese funding if it can find other investors.

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France Plans on Building Nuclear Reactors Again

French President Emmanuel Macron said France will build six new nuclear reactors. This will keep France’s energy costs at a “reasonable” level and reduce dependence on imports. France will save energy and invest in domestic carbon-free energy production. Nuclear power was at the heart of Macron’s France 2030 plan for re-industrialization which was announced last month.

According to a report published by RTE in late-October, the cheapest way for France to achieve its net-zero emissions target by 2050 would be through the construction of 14 large new reactors, plus a fleet of small modular reactors, as well as significantly investing in renewables.

EDF has already stated that it would like to construct six more 1600 MWe EPR reactors in France. EDF and Framatome are developing a simplified version of the EPR design, known as EPR2. The new reactor will be an optimized version of the current EPR.

EDF says its is increasing its operational flexibility and reducing construction costs. By refining the design, they are streamlining the construction process, allowing many components to be prefabricated and harnessing the potential in standardization.

The first new reactors are scheduled for completion in 2030. They are set to replace six older reactors at three sites in France.

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Southern Launches Molten Chloride Reactor Effort

  • Southern Nuclear Team To Build, Operate a Molten Chloride Reactor at INL
  • Oklo Teams Up with Centrus to Produce U.S.-based HALEU Fuel Supply
  • Kazakhstan / Nuclear Fuel Assembly Manufacturing Plant Opens In Joint Venture With China
  • NuScale, Prodigy and Kinectrics Collaborate to Propose Regulatory Framework for SMR Marine-Deployed Nuclear Generating Station
  • NuScale Power’s SMR Technology Undergoing Independent Safety Review to Help Expand SMR Deployment in Ukraine
  • General Fusion Sets Up First US Headquarters in Oak Ridge, TN
  • Slovenia Energy Ministry Says Country is Unable to Reach Climate Goals Without Nuclear Energy

Southern Nuclear Teams Up for Molten Chloride Reactor

Southern Company has signed an agreement with U.S. Department of Energy to demonstrate world’s first fast-spectrum salt reactor in collaboration with TerraPower, Idaho National Laboratory, and several other organizations. The Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment will provide crucial operational data for fast-spectrum salt reactors and unlock this uniquely flexible advanced reactor technology for use in a net-zero future. The objectives of the project are to construct and operate the Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment (MCRE) – the world’s first critical fast-spectrum salt reactor – at the Idaho National Laboratory.

TPMCSRThe project was selected for funding under DOE’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP). It will advance TerraPower’s Molten Chloride Fast Reactor (MCFR).

Southern Company research and development (R&D) will lead the effort in a collaboration that includes TerraPower, Idaho National Laboratory (INL), CORE POWER, Orano Federal Services, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and 3M Company.

The team’s ongoing alliance with DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy through the ARDP is essential for delivering this key technology and will be supported by a five-year, $170 million cost-shared funding agreement.

“Southern Company is committed to advancing next-generation nuclear as part of a comprehensive strategy to deliver clean, safe, reliable, affordable energy to the customers we’re privileged to serve,” said Dr. Mark S. Berry, Southern Company vice president of R&D.

“The Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment will support the commercialization of a revolutionary technology on a timescale that addresses climate change benchmarks and delivers on Southern Company’s goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”

The Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment will be the world’s first fast-spectrum, salt-fueled nuclear fission reactor to go critical, meaning that it is operating on a self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. The MCRE project represents a significant inflection point in the technology demonstration road map for TerraPower’s MCFR, as the project will inform the design, licensing and operation of an MCFR demonstration reactor.

The MCFR is one of the most advanced Generation IV nuclear technologies under development. It offers many performance and economic benefits including flexible, highly efficient clean electric power generation as a complement to the increased use of intermittent renewable resources on the grid. The technology also has the potential to provide carbon-free high-grade process heat and thermal storage for difficult-to-decarbonize industrial markets and ocean transportation sectors.

“Our past work with Southern Company has led to important experimental milestones and to the establishment of unique test facilities necessary to validate molten salt reactor technology,” said Chris Levesque, TerraPower’s president and CEO.

“Southern Company’s leadership and experience in reactor licensing and operation has been essential. The Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment will continue this important work in a critical reactor experiment, leading to the successful development of low-cost, clean energy for the future.”

Southern is the first US utility to sign on for an advanced, non-light water design effort. Through a public-private partnership created in 2015, Southern Company and TerraPower were awarded approximately $40 million from DOE to build integrated infrastructure necessary to support early development of MCFR technology. The newly selected Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment will continue this momentum toward commercialization of the MCFR.

The MCRE is targeted for operation at the Idaho National Laboratory, the nation’s premier nuclear laboratory. INL has a rich history of demonstrating nuclear technology, as the home of the first reactor to generate usable electricity from fission and the first to power a city. Over the past 71 years INL has been the home of 52 reactor demonstration projects, and the lab is currently working with private industry, universities and other federal stakeholders to demonstrate and deploy advanced commercial reactors.

A project initiation ceremony was held Oct. 20 in Idaho Falls, attended by representatives from Southern Company, TerraPower, INL and DOE. During this event, INL Director John Wagner said, “The core of INL’s heritage is demonstrating nuclear reactors and this opportunity to bring the first-ever fast-spectrum molten salt reactor critical is remarkable and significant. INL is honored to be part of this historic public-private collaboration.”

An environmental review will be completed for the Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act before final design and construction begin.

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Oklo Teams Up with Centrus to Produce U.S.-based HALEU Fuel Supply

Oklo Inc. (Oklo) and Centrus Energy Corp. (NYSE American: LEU) have signed a non-binding Letter of Intent (LOI) to cooperate in the deployment of a High-Assay, Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) production facility. HALEU is an advanced fuel material that can be used to fuel both existing and advanced fission power plants. Both companies are committed to working toward establishing domestic HALEU production capabilities to support the commercialization of Oklo’s power plants.

Together, the two companies are helping lead the commercialization of advanced fission and the HALEU supply needed to fuel them. Oklo’s Aurora powerhouse is the first advanced fission plant design under active licensing review by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Oklo’s license application is also the only reactor application being reviewed by the NRC currently. Centrus is constructing the country’s first NRC-licensed HALEU production facility in Piketon, Ohio, and the facility is expected to begin demonstrating first-of-a-kind HALEU production in 2022.

“The commercialization of advanced fission is happening now. We need to build out the U.S. commercial supply chain capabilities to fuel the advanced fission power plants we are deploying,” said Jacob DeWitte, co-founder and CEO of Oklo.

“Without an existing commercial supply of HALEU, we are lacking a critical infrastructure capability that needs to be kickstarted domestically.” Starting in the early 2020s, Oklo will begin to deploy and commercialize a suite of advanced fission power plants. Fuel material awarded by Idaho National Laboratory is anticipated to fuel Oklo’s first power plant, and Oklo’s near-term power plant deployment is anticipated to be fueled by Centrus.

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Kazakhstan / Nuclear Fuel Assembly Manufacturing Plant Opens In Joint Venture With China

(NucNet) A joint venture between Kazakhstan and China has announced the official opening of a manufacturing plant for nuclear fuel assemblies at the Ulba Metallurgical Plant in Ust-Kamenogorsk, eastern Kazakhstan.

The joint venture partners in the Ulba fuel assembly plant are Kazatomprom subsidiary UMP JSC, with 51%, and China’s CGNPC-URC, a subsidiary of China General Nuclear Power Group, with 49%.

The plant uses fuel assembly manufacturing technology and equipment manufactured in China, France and the US by France-based nuclear company Framatome. It is certified by Framatome to manufacture AFA 3G assemblies with a capacity of 200 tonnes of uranium per year. According to the US Department of Energy, more than 9,500 earlier-generation AFA 2G fuel assemblies have been loaded in reactors worldwide.

The plant is a certified supplier for the Chinese nuclear industry with CGNPC-URC as the guaranteed purchaser of the fuel assemblies.

CGNPC has been cooperating with Kazatomprom in uranium mining, uranium sales and pellet fabrication since 2006.

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NuScale, Prodigy and Kinectrics Collaborate to Propose Regulatory Framework for SMR Marine-Deployed Nuclear Generating Station

NuScale Power (NuScale) announced this week that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Prodigy Clean Energy Ltd. (Prodigy) and Kinectrics Incorporated (Kinectrics) to explore and inform the development of a regulatory framework to address licensing and deployment of a Prodigy Marine Power Station (MPS).

The MPS, which would integrate from one to twelve of the NuScale Power Modules (NPMs) into a marine-based (floating)(powered) nuclear power plant system. The MPS presents a rapidly-deployed, carbon-free baseload energy generation solution to replace fossil fuel power plants in ships on a global scale. This MOU builds upon the existing partnership between NuScale and Prodigy, representing a critical step towards the commercialization of this technology.

Through this agreement, the three companies will produce technical specifications and a regulatory considerations document on the MPS that will be used to engage regulators and potential customers. The benefits of using Prodigy’s marine power plant system to deploy the NuScale Small Modular Reactor (SMR) include significantly reduced capital costs, reduced environmental impact, and expedited project delivery schedule when compared to traditional land-based nuclear projects.

The MPS would generate scalable and reliable electricity and heat with zero greenhouse gas emissions for on-grid and off-grid locations, at dramatically reduced cost and schedule risk. NuScale, Prodigy and Kinectrics will work together to evaluate commercial deployment opportunities where the MPS could be deployed either as the sole power source, coupled with renewables, or used to generate clean fuels, such as hydrogen and ammonia, economically and at commercial scale.

Prodigy is Canada’s first commercial marine nuclear power developer, specializing in integrating existing power reactors into stationary-deployed marine power plant structures. The MPS would be shipyard-fabricated, and marine-transported to its deployment location, where it would be moored in place in sheltered and protected waters at the shoreline. Powered by the NuScale SMR, Prodigy’s MPS is a highly-optimized and affordable solution to supply coastal cities, communities and industrial zones, as well as island nations, with clean, reliable and sustainable energy.

Kinectrics is a leader in providing life cycle management services for the electricity industry. To support the collaboration, Kinectrics will bring expertise in nuclear licensing and regulatory affairs, nuclear equipment qualification, environmental analysis, safety analysis, materials evaluation, structural analysis, and shoreside transmission and distribution infrastructure design and construction, to the Prodigy and NuScale team.

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NuScale Power’s SMR Technology Undergoing Independent Safety Review to Help Expand SMR Deployment in Ukraine

The U.S. Department of Energy is funding an independent review by SSTC of the NuScale Safety Analysis Report to be available to any utility in Ukraine pursuing U.S. SMR technology

NuScale Power announced the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is funding an independent review of NuScale’s Safety Analysis Report (SAR) to be conducted by Ukraine’s State Scientific and Technical Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety (SSTC NRS). Any party interested in deploying a SMR in Ukraine will benefit from this independent review. This review will demonstrate the viability, value, and international interest in utilizing NuScale’s SMR technology to produce clean, reliable, and affordable energy.

The scope of the independent review will be developed by NuScale and SSTC NRS, and is expected to begin in 2022. Argonne National Laboratory will administer the contract for the effort and review deliverables. The review report will be made available to any utility in Ukraine willing to pursue an approved U.S. SMR technology.

“NuScale is thrilled to see this important regulatory collaboration taking place between the United States and Ukraine to provide utilities with the utmost confidence in the safety of NuScale’s small modular reactor,” said John Hopkins, Chairman and CEO of NuScale Power.

This announcement is further evidence of international interest in NuScale’s SMR technology and follows a series of Memoranda of Understanding to explore NuScale SMR deployment in Ukraine, including with Energoatom, the Ukrainian state operator for the country’s four nuclear power stations and Ukraine’s State Scientific and Technical Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety (SSTC NRS).

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General Fusion Sets Up First US Headquarters in Oak Ridge, TN

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, state Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe and General Fusion Corp. officials announced Wednesday that General Fusion, based in Vancouver, Canada, has selected Oak Ridge for its U.S. headquarters. The establishment of the Oak Ridge headquarters marks the company’s first operations in the United States.

General Fusion, the U.S.-based subsidiary of General Fusion Inc., will initially invest $539,000 and create 20 new jobs in Anderson County, TN, over the next five years, according to a state Economic and Community Development news release.

In their own news release, General Fusion officials said the company is advancing plans for what it described as a “first-of-a-kind commercial pilot plant” for fusion energy, a carbon-free power source.

“General Fusion will benefit from increased opportunities for scientific collaboration” with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the company release stated. “The two organizations recently partnered to study plasma diagnostics to improve the quality of the plasma used to create fusion, work that will advance the design and operation of General Fusion’s commercial machine.”

“General Fusion is developing a practical and economical approach to Magnetized Target Fusion (MTF) to produce fusion energy. The company’s MTF technology puts it on the fastest path to commercialization, and on course to power homes, businesses and industry with clean fusion energy by the early 2030s,” the company release stated.

“Founded in 2002, General Fusion is working to transform the world’s energy supply with practical fusion energy. The company’s new U.S. headquarters will enhance its Technology Commercialization Program, managing collaborations with national laboratories such as Oak Ridge National Laboratory, universities and the U.S. government,” according to the state release.

The company also cited Oak Ridge as being home to the U.S. ITER program and added in its press statement, “Here, General Fusion will collaborate with world-leading fusion scientists and tap into key engineering talent. The Oak Ridge office will also provide a robust ecosystem of suppliers and services essential to making commercial fusion energy a reality.”

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Slovenia Energy Ministry Says Country is Unable to Reach Climate Goals Without Nuclear Energy

Slovenia’s most senior energy official has acknowledged that the country will not be able to meet its climate targets without nuclear energy, making a new reactor at its sole nuclear power station a necessity.

“There is potential for more photovoltaic plants and four hydropower plants. We also have some wind potential that we have to harness…But renewables will not be enough,” Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec said.

“The only way to prevent further price growth is by reducing the import of fossil fuels and opening the path to nuclear energy,” he said.

The Infrastructure Ministry issued an energy permit for a new unit at the existing nuclear power station in Krško this summer, while a 20-year extension of the current unit is in the process of being approved before its existing permit expires in 2023.

Vrtovec said the goal was to complete the second unit in 2033 or 2034, which he said was “ambitious but feasible” and dovetailed with the planned coal exit in 2033.

“This is why we’re in a hurry with unit two and nuclear technologies, we don’t want to rely on energy imports to an even greater extent after 2033.”

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