Nuclear News Roundup for July 30, 2016

EDF makes final investment decision on new UK nuclear plant

(WNA) The EdF board has decided to proceed with building the 2-unit Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in Somerset. The expected cost is £18 billion, with full construction to begin in 2019. So far some £2.5 billion has already been spent on it. 

However, soon after the EdF announcement, the UK government surprised everybody by saying that it expected to take until September for the new leadership to make a final decision on the project, and in particular to sign off on power purchase from it.
 
To underwrite the capital investment EDF has agreed to a 35-year power supply contract at about double the current wholesale price. Platts called it “a bold, expensive solution to the failure of the wholesale market to provide an investment signal for decarbonized power.” Similar contracts will be offered for subsequent nuclear projects.
 
Hinkley Point C will be the fifth and sixth EPR units built, with the company determined to apply the lessons from Finnish and French projects which are significantly over budget and schedule. The two EPR units being built in China by EDF and China General Nuclear Power (CGN) are closer to target, and due on line next year.

CGN will be a 33.5% partner in the UK’s Hinkley project. The Chinese investment is seen as a foothold in UK, with a view to Chinese reactors being built at Bradwell B.
 
The EPR is a large (1670 MWe) and complex design. Two difficult European EPR projects have resulted in Areva’s virtual demise, with the reactor division to be picked up and refloated largely by EDF, which is 85% owned by the French government.  Hinkley Point C will provide about 7% of UK electricity from its 3260 MWe net.

New Timetable Will See Hinkley Point Decision In ‘Early Autumn’

(NucNet) The UK government has agreed a new timetable with the French government for the Hinkley Point C project with a decision now expected during the autumn.

A spokesman for prime minister Theresa May said: “EDF made their announcement, and we have agreed a timetable with the French government, which means we will consider all the component parts of this project and make a decision in the early autumn.”

The plan to build the £18bn (€21bn, $19bn) nuclear station was hit with an unexpected new delay as the government decided to hold a new review hours after EDF, the project’s state-owned French developer, gave it the go-ahead. EDF’s approval is subject to approval from the UK and Chinese governments.

China General Nuclear Power Generation, which is planning to take a 33.5% stake in the project to build two EPR units, said in a statement that it respects the new government’s need to familiarize itself with a project and “we stand ready to help the government in this respect,”

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the London-based Nuclear Industry Association, said that the government’s decision to take longer to look at the contract does not change the fundamentals – that by 2030, two thirds of the UK’s electricity generation capacity will have retired and will need to be replaced with low-carbon and reliable power. 

“The most important thing is that the board of EDF and its investors have the finance in place to enable them to give the go ahead for the project and that is very good news,” he said. 

“We now need the new ministers to quickly endorse the decision to show they are serious about industrial strategy, building new infrastructure by securing inward investment to create our low-carbon energy supplies of the future.”

Japan Report Predicts 26 Reactor Restarts By March 2018

(NucNet) Seven nuclear power reactors will be restarted in the current fiscal year, by the end of March 2017, with another 19 in the following fiscal year to the end of March 2018, a report by Japan’s Institute of Energy Economics says.

However, the report points out numerous uncertainties surrounding nuclear reactors, including judicial judgments and local agreements. In addition to its standard scenario, the report outlines a low scenario in which 12 reactors would be restarted in the same period.

The Japan Atomic Industrial Forum said four reactors have been restarted in Japan after clearing examinations under the new regulatory standards imposed by the Nuclear Regulation Authority. They are Sendai-1 and -2 and Takahama-3 and -4, although the Takahama units have since been taken offline after a court issued a temporary injunction following a protest lodged by anti-nuclear activists.

Applications for 22 additional reactor restarts have been filed.

All of Japan’s 48 commercial reactor units were shut down for safety checks and upgrades following the Fukushima-Daiichi accident. Five reactors have been earmarked for permanent shutdown, bringing the number of potentially operable commercial units to 43.

Westinghouse to load fuel at first Chinese AP1000 in November

(China Daily) US-based Westinghouse Electric Co expects to begin fuel loading at the world’s first AP1000 nuclear plant in November, as the facility in Sanmen, Zhejiang province, edges closer to becoming operational early next year, the company’s executives said on Wednesday.

Despite being several years behind schedule, Gavin Liu, president in Asia for Westinghouse, said the move will pay the way for more opportunities in a booming nuclear market with more than 100 new nuclear power plants planned in coming decades.

“We plan for further expansion and investment here, as we will play a strong role in the market,” he told China Daily during a four-day international nuclear event in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.

He said that Asia accounts for less than 25 percent of the company’s overall business, but the figure is expected to rise to 35 percent to 40 percent in the next five to 10 years, driven by growth in countries such as China.

Prior to the fuel loading, the company has already completed cold hydro testing at the plant in Sanmen, and the hot functional test will be held in several days.

Turkey ‘Has Removed’ All Legal Obstacles To Akkuyu Construction

(NucNet) Turkey has removed all legal obstacles to the construction of the Akkuyu nuclear station, Russia’s deputy prime minister Arkady Dvorkovich said, according to the government-owned Russian Tass news agency. Tass said Mr Dvorkovich made the comment after a meeting between Turkey’s economy minister Nihat Zeybekchi and Russian energy minister Alexander Novak.

Last May Russia’s state nuclear corporation Rosatom told NucNet that amendments were needed to three Turkish laws before Russia could go ahead with plans to build Turkey’s first nuclear power station. Rosatom said one law prevented the cutting down of olive trees on the proposed site. Another meant the shape of the seafront could not be altered to allow for construction of intake and outlet channels, and a third law prevented foreign producers of electricity from selling it.

Akkuyu, near Mersin on the country’s southern Mediterranean coast, is to be built in cooperation with Rosatom under a contract signed in late 2010. The station will have four 1,200 MW VVER units and is scheduled to produce power by the end of 2022.

NPCIL Issues Tenders That Test The Waters On India’s Liability Laws

(The Hindu)(Nuclear Street) Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) has issued two tenders for domestic suppliers to contribute to a 1,400 MW nuclear power plant at Gorakhpur in Haryana under new rules that have been modified to encourage bidding activity that failed to develop two years ago.

What has changed in India’s nuclear power industry is the 2010 Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act that was passed in order to invite foreign companies to participate in nuclear power projects in India. Prior to 2010, builders of nuclear power plants were held responsible in the event of a serious accident.

Adhering closer to international standards, the 2010 law caps the liability now assigned to plant operators at $250,000 in most cases, with the government picking up the remainder. However, plant operators can sue suppliers if it is deemed that faulty equipment was to blame for the accident.

With that stipulation, tenders for the Gorakhpur plant failed to prompt much interest two years ago. A new clarification on what defines a supplier is expected to provoke greater interest in bidding this time around, according to a Bloomberg report.

A year ago, an addendum to the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act defined a supplier as a company that designed, manufactured and provided quality assurance on a plant component. That effectively meant many local equipment makers were no longer considered suppliers.

However, it still did not ease the trepidations over the possibility that a local equipment maker could be held responsible for a nuclear power plant accident, effectively pouring cold water on the bidding process.

In November, India’s Atomic Energy Commissioner Sekhar Basu said that NPCIL will adopt changes in tenders that would take many equipment makers out of the line of fire in terms of liability for domestic nuclear power projects. Essentially, the rules would no longer define them as suppliers, since the work they did was according to “our supervision and according to our design specifications, right from design to construction and fabrication,” Basu said.

Equipment makers would make the component, but they would not be considered suppliers, because NPCIL was providing the design specifications and overseeing quality control.

NPCIL Executive Director for contracts and materials S.K. Mazumder, said in an interview that he had urged equipment makers to join a $250 million insurance pool. “If they do, they have the insurance policy to cover their risk. If they don’t fit into the definition, then they need not worry,” he said.

With India poised to become one of the fasted nuclear power growth countries and one of the fastest growing economies in the coming decades, the liability issue is a deal breaker with huge implications. The Gorakhpur project includes two 700 MW PHWRs as just the first phase of development with room for additional reactors in the future.

US nuclear firm Westinghouse has been negotiating with NPCIL for construction of six 1150 MW AP1000 reactors.  The plans have been repeatedly postponed due to concerns about the liability law. The new developments with NPCIL’s tender for the Gorakhpur project will be watched closely by the firm which hopes to close on the deal in the next six-to-twelve months.

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Book Notes: Is Anti-nuclear Advocacy a Threat to the Planet?

Readers of this blog know that while it is pro-nuclear, efforts are made not to throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to refuting the views of anti-nuclear groups.

However, with so much at stake involved in getting off fossil fuels while not submerging our high tech civilization in the muck of muddleheadness over renewables, presented here are two short books on clearing the air.  It is interesting to read what people at the grass roots are saying about nuclear energy and not just in the U.S.

Both books are dirt cheap especially if you select the Kindle versions which can be read on any Windows, Apple, or Android device with free software from Amazon.

Science a la carte: And the cherry picking

By: Mathijs Beckers  (Amazon)

small2Are you ready to get your preconceived notions about energy and climate change challenged? Whether we can alleviate the effects of man-made climate change will be determined by reality, not economics or ideology. Can we do it using solar energy? Or wind power? What about geothermal? Or nuclear energy?

To determine what can and cannot be done we have to consider countless of reports shared with us by research institutes from all over the world.

To derive some conclusions we have to examine questions grounded in physics and mathematics. In this book we will try to weed out the nonsense and gain a clear perspective on the future of humanity in terms of energy generation and consumption. This is essential because we need to get real if we want to counter the negative effects of climate change.

It is very sad to discover that highly estimable scientists and academics have joined the ranks of the nonsense-peddlers. They should know better, they cannot have their science a la carte. Fallacious mutterings and writings deserve to be scrutinized and if need be criticized. Academic pedigree does not matter. Take nothing at face-value and question everything. Use your mind!

Paperback: 200 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (June 2, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1530880696
ISBN-13: 978-1530880690

About the author

Mathijs specializes in total-sum energy calculations, communicating climate change science, and writing on energy and science in politics. He is the author of several books on these topics.

From the Amazon Customer Reviews

Mathijs Beckers pulls no punches, relentlessly assaulting the anti-nuclear crowd and “renewable” lovers with science-based facts. Because of climate change and our expanding populations and energy needs, he makes the case that only rapid expansion of nuclear power can come close to filling our needs and avoiding the environmental disaster that will result if we continue to deceive ourselves into thinking that renewables can do it all. Anyone who reads this book with an open mind will learn a lot!

Mr. Beckers makes a potent argument for nuclear power as the necessary baseload source for a modern electricity grid. This book does a useful serve for the scientific /technical understanding of our energy needs now and for the future.

Climate Gamble: Is Anti-Nuclear Activism Endangering Our Future?

by Rauli Partanen and Janne M. Korhonen  (Amazon)

climgam”Climate Gamble – Is Anti-Nuclear Activism Endangering Our Future?” is a thought-provoking, short and easy to read book on one of the biggest problems of our time, climate change, and one of its most misunderstood and misrepresented solution, nuclear power.

Humankind has won many great victories in the fight against climate change. However, these victories are rarely acknowledged or reported. Is this because they were won with nuclear power?

Preventing dangerous climate change requires world energy production to be almost completely free from fossil fuels by 2050. At the same time, energy consumption keeps growing, as the population increases and those mired in poverty try to create better lives for themselves.

With almost 87 percent of our energy produced with fossil fuels, the challenge is unprecedented in both its scale and urgency. International organizations agree that meeting this challenge will require the use of all the tools at our disposal: Renewable energy, more energy conservation and better efficiency, carbon capture and storage – and nuclear power.

At the same time, the global environment and energy discussion is largely dominated by a vocal opinion that climate challenge and global poverty should be conquered with nothing else than renewables, energy conservation and energy efficiency.

This book explains how this opinion is largely based on very selective reading of relevant studies and reports, wishful thinking about the powers of technological miracles, and even straight-out falsification of statistics and misrepresentation of facts.

Does the anti-nuclear movement really help to give people objective, relevant information they need to make up their minds about zero-carbon energy production, the scale of the challenge, and in particular the up- and downsides of nuclear power? Or are they just spreading fear and uncertainty, while making a huge gamble with the climate, potentially endangering both human civilization and the Earth’s ecosystems?

See also David MacKay’s forward to the book at a companion web site. Thousands of printed copies of “Climate Gamble” were distributed at Paris COP21 December 2015.

About the authors

Rauli Partanen is an independent writer, lecturer and consultant on the environment, energy, society, the economy and their interrelations. He is a co-founder and board member of Ecomodernist Society of Finland and Peak Oil Finland, both non-profit organizations. He lives in Finland with his family, and writes both in Finnish and in English.

Janne M. Korhonen  is a PhD student at Aalto University in Finland and an energy/environmental activist. He is also one of the founding members of the Finnish Ecomodernist Society.

Paperback: 108 pages
Publisher: Cre8 Oy; 1 edition (August 21, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9527139058
ISBN-13: 978-9527139059

From Amazon Customer Reviews

This is a well-studied but easy-to-read book on the role of nuclear power in climate change mitigation. The reader will be introduced to the facts showing that many NGOs are surprisingly lobbying heavily against nuclear but not so much against fossil fuels while they communicate that the most challenging issue to the global community is the climate change. The reader will get familiarized to the health risks of nuclear power stations and irradiation. In this book those risks are evaluated not in vacuum as sometimes is the case but against the drawbacks of other options.

Energy production is a field in which there are no perfect choices since the size of the fossil fuel industry has grown that great. The reader will be introduced in the risks of nuclear proliferation and might have a surprise on that issue. Are there more safe nuclear reactor options available than the current uranium ones? This subject is covered also.

Increasing energy consumption is vital to the development of the developing countries. From where that energy must come? The ultimate message of the book is that the climate challenge is so huge that no-fossil energy technologies cannot be ruled out a priori. We will need all of them to replace fossil fuels.

This short, 100-page, book packs a punch. The answer to the question in the subtitle is “Yes”; wittingly or unwittingly, environmentalists, mostly as the result of fear built on lack of information, are hindering their own goals with regard to global climate change by opposing nuclear.

The coming fourth generation of nuclear will provide clean, safe, abundant and affordable energy to the world, but only if environmentalists get behind it instead of opposing it. Even today, existing nuclear in the US provides some 60+ percent of clean, CO2-free energy. We need more, not less.

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IAEA Launches New Version of Advanced Reactors Database

New ARIS database now includes specific categories for molten salt and small and medium sized reactors.

Nuclear’s_Continuing_Evolution

The IAEA recently launched a new design of its Advanced Reactors Information System (ARIS) database, which provides detailed technical summaries of the various advanced reactors being offered globally.

The ARIS is an ideal online platform for Member States considering their first nuclear power plant or for those seeking to expand their existing programs through new construction.

The new design of ARIS will help interested stakeholders to swiftly and efficiently access relevant information on the various types of nuclear power reactors.  By clicking on a graphic of each reactor type, the user is taken to data about the specific technologies involved in the design.

ARIS can be used conjointly with the IAEA’s document “Nuclear Reactor Technology Assessment for Near Term Deployment” (NE Series NP-T-1.10) to enable Member States to preform an informed reactor technology assessment.

aris logo
ARIS is a user-friendly, easy-to-navigate database that offers technical design descriptions for advanced reactors that are under design, in construction, or in operation. It includes reactors of all sizes and types, from evolutionary nuclear power plant designs for near-term deployment to the latest innovative reactor concepts that are under development.

The design descriptions included in the ARIS database are provided to the IAEA by the various design organizations in Member States. The Agency’s Nuclear Power Technology Development Section (NPTDS), which launched the database in 2009 and responsible for its maintenance, ensures that the presented information is consistent, clear, unbiased and has easily searchable sets of data.

The recent update of the system will help reactor developers in several Member States to consider and incorporate innovative molten salt reactor (MSR) technologies in their national nuclear power programs. In addition, the new online version has a specific section allocated for small and medium sized reactors (SMRs).

By simply clicking on the icons of different reactor technologies, the reader will be able to access specific lists of those class or categories of reactors. Under a “Characteristics” tab comparisons of the various reactor characteristics, such as thermal capacity, operating temperature and core power density can be displayed.

Across the world, several IAEA Member States continue to research, develop or deploy advanced fission reactors. There is an increased global interest in developing and deploying fast reactors.

Further, the role of SMRs in meeting energy requirements is also gaining attention due to the need for more flexible power generation and economic affordability. Using passive safety features based on natural forces such as gravity and natural circulation as opposed to relying on active components such as electrically powered pumps, motors and emergency diesel generators are among the SMRs’ features that can also ensure continued operation and offer enhanced safety performance.

There are about 50 SMR designs and concepts and three of which are under construction. A summary of global developments in 2015 in the field of advance fission reactors is also included in the IAEA’s Nuclear Technology Review 2016.

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Nuclear News Roundup for July 23, 2016

Utah Court Ruling Kills Environmental Appeal,
OKs Green River Nuclear Plant

(Salt Lake City Tribune) A court ruling has removed the final state hurdle for a Utah company planning to build a nuclear power plant near Green River, putting the fate of the $20 billion project in the hands of federal regulators.

The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed an earlier court ruling allowing Blue Castle Holdings’ plan for a nuclear site in Emery County to continue. The unanimous opinion affirms the 7th District Court’s 2013 ruling that the company’s bid would not overly tax the river by diverting water to cool a pair of nuclear reactors.

The decision nullifies an appeal from the environmental advocacy group HEAL Utah, which contended that Blue Castle Holdings’ nuclear site would significantly reduce water levels for the Green River, adversely affecting wildlife and the public welfare.

The Court of Appeals, instead, supported the findings of a state engineer, who granted the company’s initial application.

The court opinion states: “Our analysis of HEAL Utah’s arguments is limited because its arguments are often inadequately supported and briefed.”

Blue Castle plans to build two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors and serve customers in Utah and California including the city of Los Angeles.

EDF Sets Decision Date for Hinkley Point Investment

(Bloomberg) Electricite de France SA has set a board meeting to consider moving forward with a $24 billion project to build two nuclear reactors in the U.K.

The agenda for the July 28 meeting includes a final investment decision for the construction of the reactors at Hinkley Point.

A vote to move forward would represent a strong financial commitment to the U.K. a month after residents voted to leave the European Union. It also would show renewed confidence in a project that’s been controversial because of concerns the investment would put the utility under too much financial strain amid falling power prices.

Thomas Piquemal quit as EDF’s chief financial officer in March over the dispute.

The Hinkley Point site “is a unique asset for French industry as it would benefit the whole of the nuclear industry and support employment in major companies and smaller enterprises in the sector,” the EDF statement said.

X-energy CEO Signs $53M Advanced Reactor Concept Cooperative Agreement with DOE

/PRNewswire/  X-energy’s 5-year, $53M DOE Advanced Reactor Concept Cooperative Agreement will focus on reactor design; fuel development; and initial licensing activities. The agreement includes $40M in federal funds and $13M from the company.

The company is designing the Xe-100 series, an advanced nuclear reactor based on the pebble bed design that will expand nuclear power into new markets in increments of approximately 50MWe.

The Xe-100 series is designed to be small, simple and affordable. Key attributes of the design are that it requires less time to construct, with factory-produced components, and will be “walk-away” safe without operator intervention during loss of coolant conditions.

CEZ Requests EIA for New Dukovany units

(WNN) Czech utility CEZ has requested the Ministry of Environment carry out an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the potential construction of two new reactors at the Dukovany nuclear power plant.

The purpose of the assessment, CEZ said, is to identify one or two new units could be built at Dukovany to replace the existing ones.

The plan foresees nuclear energy to be a major source of power that will allow the Czech Republic to be self-sufficient in terms of power generation and ensure reliability of power supplies to end users. The country relies on Russian natural gas for a significant portion of its electrical generation power.

The tender process for two new Temelin units was launched in August 2009 and attracted bids from three candidates – Areva; Westinghouse, and a consortium of Russian firms.

However, CEZ informed Areva in October 2012 that its bid had been disqualified. In April 2014, CEZ – which is 70% state owned – announced that it had cancelled the tender process. The key issue was the lack of investors due to the government’s refusal to offer rate guarantees.

Reactor Pressure Vessel Installed At UAE’s Barakah-3

(NucNet) The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec) has successfully installed the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) at the Barakah-3 nuclear plant under construction in the United Arab Emirates. Enec said the installation follows that of the Barakah-2 RPV in 2015 and the Barakah-1 RPV in 2014.

The project to build four South Korean APR-1400 reactors at Barakah is progressing steadily, Enec said. Overall, construction of Units 1 to 4 is now more than 65 percent complete. When the four reactors are completed, Barakah will provide approximately 25 percent of the UAE’s electricity needs.

Rosatom to Build Six Nuclear Reactors at Andhra Pradesh

(The Hindu) Just a few weeks after the government announced that Westinghouse’s Nuclear Power Project (NPP), originally planned in Gujarat’s Mithi Virdi, is being moved to Andhra Pradesh, sources confirmed to The Hindu that Russian-owned Rosatom will build its next phase of six reactors in Andhra Pradesh as well.

Westinghouse is slated to build six 1150 MW AP1000 reactors. Rosatom would build six units as well though the design for them was not disclosed. All 12 units are to be built by the mid-2030s according to sources cited by the Hindu.

The site for the next set of six Russian reactors was discussed during A.P. Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu’s recent visit to Russia, where he met Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev. A formal announcement is expected with Russian President Vladimir Putin visits India next October.

The Indian government has rejected a proposal by GE-Hitachi to build six ESBWR reactors at the site saying the lack of experience with the design disqualifies it from consideration. GEH has successfully licensed the design at the NRC in the U.S. for the FERMI III site, but has not built and operated any of the units.

Westinghouse has four AP1000s under construction in the U.S. and another four under construction in China.  Rosatom has just finished commissioning two 1000 MW VVER units in Tamil Nadu at Kudankulam.

China Needs Nuclear For Climate Change And Economic Growth

(NucNet) Nuclear power will play an important role in China’s future energy mix both in terms of greenhouse gas emissions reduction and economic growth, says a report by the China Energy Fund Committee (CEFC), a non-governmental and non-profit organization based in Hong Kong.

The report says China is ready to undergo “a nuclear power revolution” with a planned approval rate of six to eight new reactors a year under the government’s 13th Five Year Plan. The report says China has 24 nuclear reactors under construction, more than one third of the world’s total.

Xiaoyong Huang, one of the authors of the report and president of the Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said it is essential for China to choose nuclear power.

He said nuclear is a comparatively clean energy which can help China protect its environment and meet emissions reduction goals.

TVA Announces Auction Process for Bellefonte Site

(WNN) A two-stage auction process is to be used to complete the sale of the Bellefonte nuclear power plant site. The sale is expected to be completed by October.

TVA announced in May that its board had voted to sell the Bellefonte site, with its two partially built reactors and other infrastructure, to the highest bidder.

At that time, CEO Bill Johnson said that, against a background of lower energy demand and changing usage patterns, TVA’s 2015 Integrated Resource Plan determined that it will not need to build any new large-scale base load capacity for at least the next 20 years.

Concentric Energy Advisors Inc – retained by TVA to manage the auction – said that an initial bid process will take place by September. Following a detailed due diligence period, a second and final round of bidding will take place and close with a public auction in October.

In May, TVA’s executive vice-president and General Counsel Sherry Quirk said an independent appraisal had valued the site at $36 million. The utility spent more than ten times that amount on the original construction of the two units before stopping work.

The sale includes a site of 1,600 acres and the two partially built reactors, as well as on-site infrastructure including switchyards, office buildings, warehouses, cooling towers, water pumping stations and railroad spurs. No radioactive materials were ever brought to the site.

The two partially built reactor units would be very expensive to demolish though the cooling towers could be quickly brought down by controlled demolition. Any future industrial uses of the site would benefit from the other infrastructure at the site.

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Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers #318

This post represents the latest link in an unbroken chain of almost six years of the weekly summaries of the best of the pro-nuclear blogs.

Carnival-photo

With the recent completion of the Climate Change Conference in Paris, the leveraging the nuclear energy to mitigate future growth of CO2 emissions comes even more prominently into the public eye. Want to know what’s going on? Read all about it here.

Previous editions of the Carnival have been posted at the blogs cited below and elsewhere.

About these bloggers

The bloggers who write the posts cited here do so because they have come to see, based on experience, that nuclear energy is a cost-effective, carbon emission free, source of electrical power which can raise the standard of living for any population which benefits from access to it.

See the “Blogs We Read” sidebar at the ANS Nuclear Café for a complete list of pro-nuclear energy blogs. It is published by the American Nuclear Society. All the blogs listed in the right column on this site also have their own lists of blogs they read.

Posting of these blog summaries here is done with the purpose of bringing diverse ideas to the attention of a larger readership.

Your kind attention to these blog posts is appreciated. Please repost or cite in your favorite social media channels. There are live icons, with one click action, for doing so, at the end of this blog post.

Carnival 318

Hiroshima Syndrome – Leslie Corrice

Fukushima Unreported: No Melt-through at F. Daiichi Unit #2

Why hasn’t the Press reported the discovery of F. Daiichi unit #2’s corium? It ends uncertainty and doubt relative to the the location of its melted fuel core…that’s why! Anything that challenges the newsworthiness of Fukushima FUD is conveniently ignored!

Yes Vermont Yankee – Meredith Angwin 

Much About Politics But Little About Fish

A review of water permits for nuclear plants, and how these permits are often more politically-motivated than fish-motivated.  The fish are doing fine.

Northwest Clean Energy Blog

Closing Diablo Canyon a big loss for California

In this post, Meredith Angwin describes how California authorities have kicked the can down the road about closing Diablo Canyon.  If the current agreement holds, the nuclear plant will close in about eight years.  Reading the small print on the agreement, however, we can see that  (1) Southern California is at risk for rolling blackouts this summer, even with Diablo Canyon operating and (2) PG&E doesn’t even claim to have a plan for replacing Diablo Canyon power with other low-carbon sources. 

ANS Nuclear Cafe – Will Davis

Who is qualified to determine nuclear plant safety?

On July 12, the Otsu District Court in Japan made a significant decision regarding the future of Kansai Electric Power’s Takahama nuclear station when it upheld a previous lower court injunction against the operation of Units 3 and 4 at that site.  The district court had received a petition from just over two dozen intervenors in Shiga Prefecture earlier this year; legal wrangling ensued, with Kansai Electric filing an objection which ultimately today appears to have fallen on deaf ears.  As it now stands, there is a provisional injunction against the startup of these two plants.

Nuke Power Talk – Gail Marcus

Nuclear Fusion Poetry

At Nuke Power Talk, Gail Marcus highlights the nuclear engineer turned poet and performer who is now the poet laureate of Hawaii.  What is particularly interesting is that he performs with a troupe that uses song and dance to illustrate scientific principles such as the Big Bang, the periodic table, and more. A good excuse for a trip to Hawaii!

Forbes – Jim Conca

Closing Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant Will Cost Money And Raise Carbon Emissions

Pacific Gas & Electric Company recently announced its decision to close its well-running, low-carbon, low-cost nuclear reactors at Diablo Canyon, because of political pressure from the state of California and especially its Lt. Governor. But contrary to their vow to replace the nuclear energy with renewables, they are actually going to replace it mostly with natural gas so carbon emissions will increase about 30%. Fortunately, the costs will go onto the shoulders of taxpayers, not ratepayers, so no one will notice the increased costs.

Doomed to Cooperate – Russia, The U.S. And Nuclear Weapons After The End Of The Soviet Union

For 25 years following the 1986 Reagan-Gorbachev summit in Reykjavik, American nuclear scientists, and their Russian counterparts, worked to secure nuclear weapons and nuclear materials in the waning days of the old Soviet Union and the tumultuous aftermath of its dissolution in 1991. As Sig Hecker writes in Doomed to Cooperate, the effort that became known as the lab-to-lab collaboration worked because of the mutual respect and unwavering commitment of scientists who understood that diplomacy and science together would achieve what saber-rattling never could.

Fighting Air Conditioning’s Peak Demand With Thermal Energy Storage

A warming world is gearing up to install 1.6 billion new air conditioners by 2050, which will require an additional 4.8 trillion kWhs of electricity every year, mostly during peak energy demand in the hottest part of the day. But thermal energy storage can offset that peak by using off-peak energy during the night to make cold water, or even ice, and storing inside energy storage tanks. The stored ice is then used to cool the building’s occupants the next day.

Neutron Bytes – Dan Yurman

Transatomic Releases Details of New Reactor Design

The firm defies conventional wisdom about keeping early stage technical details a secret by posting a white paper about its progress along with the endorsements of its venture capital backers.

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Transatomic Releases Details of New Reactor Design

The firm defies conventional wisdom about keeping early stage technical details a secret by posting a white paper about its progress along with the endorsements of its venture capital backers.

ta logoAdvanced reactor developer Transatomic Power Corporation has released a new technical white paper detailing its advanced nuclear reactor design.

In a business world which almost always zealously guards the integrity of its intellectual property, the action is an unprecedented step for an early-stage nuclear reactor developer.

The paper, which is posted to the company’s website, provides an in-depth look at the science underlying the core design, and further demonstrates what its designers say are its advantages over existing power generation technologies.

The news follows last month’s announcement that the company was awarded a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) Nuclear Energy Voucher pilot program to perform high-fidelity modeling of its reactor design in partnership with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

One of the reasons the firm and its investors are comfortable releasing the paper is that some of the historical and current R&D work behind it is already described in published peer-reviewed scientific papers and conference proceedings.

LDewan“This design is the result of years of open, clearly communicated scientific progress,” said Dr. Leslie Dewan, Transatomic’s CEO. (right)

“Our research has demonstrated many-fold increases in fuel efficiency over existing technologies, and we’re really excited about the next steps in our development process.”

What is even more of a surprise is that some of the firm’s key investors, from the locked down world of venture capital, endorsed the early release of technical information. Also, the superlatives of their statements are likewise usually related to the rollout of an IPO, and not early stage design work.

“These are truly remarkable results, and represent a major step forward for advanced nuclear technology,” said Ray Rothrock, a veteran Silicon Valley venture capitalist, MIT-trained nuclear engineer, and Chairman of Transatomic.

“Transatomic is defining a new era in nuclear energy, and we’re proud to support their mission and work toward an operating reactor,” said Scott Nolan, Partner at venture capital firm Founders Fund.

“Nuclear power needs Transatomic’s breakthroughs in order to be viable.”

Transatomic has also received $2m in venture capital funding from  investor Peter Thiel. In November 2015 Thiel published a high-profile OP ED about his investment in the New York Times.

Transatomic’s Commitment to Molten Salt Models

Transatomic is developing a next-generation Molten Salt Reactor (MSR) based on technology first demonstrated at ORNL in the 1960s (large image), and has been completing reactor core performance analyses as part of its technology development work.

The company released results that show promise for an economical power plant that can generate carbon-free baseload power and extract energy from the spent fuel of commercial nuclear reactors.

Spent fuel from a conventional commercial nuclear reactor is typically composed of about 95% U238, fission products, actinides, and plutonium isotopes. Some residual U235 remains as well.

According to Transatomic, the firm’s design, which uses a liquid uranium-salt mixture instead of conventional solid fuel assemblies, can extract twice as much energy from its fuel and use nuclear waste as a fuel source. (WNA Briefing on Molten Salt Reactors)

According to the World Nuclear Association, Transatomic’s plans are that after a 20 MWt demonstration reactor, the envisaged first commercial plant will be 1250 MWt/550 MWe running at 44% thermal efficiency with 650°C in primary loop, using steam cycle.

The overnight cost for an nth-of-a-kind 550 MWe plant, including lithium-7 inventory and on-line fission product removal and storage, is estimated at $2 billion with a three-year construction schedule. A future version of the reactor may utilize thorium fuel. More on this below.

Such a capability allows the company to directly address one of nuclear energy’s biggest environmental challenges: the generation of nuclear waste that remains radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years after it is removed from a plant.

Molten Salt Positioned to Solve the Spent Fuel Disposition Problem

Dewan pointed out that solving the nuclear waste problem requires two big-picture steps.

“First, the industry has to reduce the rate at which waste is produced. Otherwise, we’ll run into an insurmountable long-term storage problem,” she said.

“Second, nuclear innovators must work to design reactors that can tap the remaining energy in the waste, and ensure that the reactor has a ‘net-negative’ waste profile, where the reactor produces less waste than it takes in.”

The company says its data show that it has cleared the first hurdle.

“Right now, we’ve calculated an 83% reduction in the waste the reactor generates annually as compared to existing reactors, using only uranium that regulators consider ‘low-enriched’ [in uranium-235, the primary fissile isotope],” noted Transatomic’s Chief Technology Officer, Mark Massie.

“Even under the current fuel supply chain, which doesn’t enrich fuel past 5% U-235, we still reduce annual waste production by over 50%.”

According to the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), a typical nuclear power plant in a year generates 20 metric tons of used nuclear fuel. The nuclear industry generates a total of about 2,000 – 2,300 metric tons of used fuel per year.

An 83% reduction in that figure would result in production of 3.4 metric tons of spent fuel instead of 20 based on NEI’s numbers. A 50% reduction would leave 10 metric tons of waste material.

Over the past four decades, according to NEI, the entire industry has produced 76,430 metric tons of used nuclear fuel.

If used fuel assemblies were stacked end-to-end and side-by-side, this would cover a football field about eight yards deep. Think of a two story building 100 yards long and 63 yards wide.

Transatomic’s Views on Thorium Fuel

Transatomic Power writes in its white paper the firm chose to start with uranium for several reasons:

  1. there is a great deal of SNF, and we want to harness its remaining energy;
  2. the industry already has a commercial fuel cycle developed around uranium, which makes it cheaper to use uranium as fuel; and
  3. we already greatly expand the energy potential of existing uranium supplies

That said the firm also noted it believes that the thorium fuel cycle holds theoretical advantages over uranium in the long run because of its generally shorter half-life waste, its minimization of plutonium from the fuel cycle, and its greater natural supply.

However, an entirely new fuel cycle industry would have to be developed to take advantage of thorium fuel and waiting for this to happen would significantly delay the kind of work being done by Transatomic.

Transatomic also says that subsequent design work will focus on maximizing the energy it can extract from spent nuclear fuel. The work will include developing new tools to model other reactor physics phenomena, and completing the overall design of its nuclear power plant.

Eight Small Businesses Get GAIN Nuclear Energy Vouchers

On June 13, 2016, through the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that eight small businesses will be provided up to $2 million for the Nuclear Energy Voucher pilot program.  (See table below)

The goal of the program is to assist new entrants into the nuclear field as they build the collaborations necessary to accelerate the development and deployment of innovative nuclear technologies by granting them access to the extensive nuclear research capabilities available at DOE’s national laboratories and Nuclear Science User Facilities (NSUF) partners.

“We congratulate these small businesses selected for the NE Voucher pilot program, and we look forward to working with each of these organizations as they develop their innovative concepts,” said John Kotek, DOE Acting Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy.

“In addition to this financial support, DOE will be fostering innovation by facilitating these groups’ access to the extensive nuclear research capabilities hosted at DOE National Labs and our partners in the Nuclear Science User Facilities program.”

The mission of GAIN is to provide the nuclear community with access to the technical, regulatory, and financial support necessary to move innovative nuclear energy technologies toward commercialization while ensuring the continued safe, reliable, and economic operation of the existing nuclear fleet.

“I am excited to begin working with each of the recipients,” said Dr. Kemal Pasamehmetoglu, Director of the GAIN initiative and Associate Lab Director for Nuclear Science & Technology at Idaho National Laboratory.

“Along with our partner labs, we have the facilities and capabilities needed to help make their advanced nuclear technology concepts a reality. The urgency and stakeholder support for these innovations has never been stronger.”

List of Firms Awarded Grants from GAIN/DOE

gain firms

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Nuclear News Roundup for July 11, 2016

Fluor Idaho Begins Operations at DOE’s Idaho Site

make_it_so_star_trek_225_button10Operational responsibilities for environmental management work at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho Operations Office were transitioned to Fluor Idaho, LLC ON June 1, marking the start of a five-year, $1.4 billion contract to support cleanup at the Department’s Idaho site.

Fluor Idaho will focus on safely integrating, accelerating, and delivering the Idaho cleanup mission, including processing transuranic waste for disposal, completing  retrieval of buried nuclear waste, and managing spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. It has a big job ahead of it.

The work consolidates the Idaho Cleanup Project and Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project contracts, and will support multiple national and state regulatory agreements, including the 1995 Idaho Settlement Agreement.

Fluor Idaho will lead a workforce of approximately 1,700 personnel, the vast majority of whom were already performing cleanup work with the incumbent contractors.

Fluor leads a team that includes subcontractors CH2M, Waste Control Specialists, and Idaho-based small businesses North Wind, Inc. and Portage, Inc.

The Idaho Falls Post Register reported on July 7 that a top priority is moving US Navy spent nuclear fuel from wet to dry storage.

The cleanup contractor’s biggest challenge, says Fred Hughes, President of Fluor Idaho, is getting the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU) into operation to process 900,000 gallons of liquid radioactive waste.

The IWTU was supposed to cost $160M when work started in 2005 under a different set of contractors, but technical difficulties, and changes in design direction from DOE, have delayed completion of the facility and pushed the price tag north of $500M.

Hughes says his company has put together a new project plan for the IWTU which will include a small test facility in Colorado and more test runs with simulated waste at the main plant. A national panel of experts will provide oversight on the project’s operational progress.

This is the fourth time in his career Hughes, 61, has worked on a nuclear project at the Idaho site. He told the newspaper, “we can make this process work.”

Florida Power & Light Pushes Back Start Dates for Turkey Point 6 & 7

Plans to build two new Westinghouse 1150 MW AP1000 nuclear reactors near Miami have been delayed to 2028. Key factors include the timing of increased demand for electricity and other economic factors.

The project costs are still being estimated, but given the current plan to start construction sometime after 2020, total costs for the project could be as much as $20 billion.

FPL has run into opposition to charging back costs on the project from the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC). So far ratepayers have reimbursed the utility for $282 million in costs. The PSC and FPL recently signed off on a plan to defer collection of another $22M until 2018.

The utility also asked the PSC to exempt it from a requirement to assess the economics of a power station that is so far in the future. However, anti-nuclear groups and Florida’s Office of Public Counsel objected to the request arguing that FPL is asking for the exemption because it can’t make a dollars and cents case for the reactors.

Opponents point out the analysis is needed based on a 2006 law that shifts the cost recovery burden to rate payers if a feasibility study shows the power station is a good deal for rate payers.

For its part, FPL said it still plans to move ahead with the project. The Palm Beach Post reported July 7 that utility spokesman Peter Robbins said,

“FPL continues to pursue the federal and state approvals necessary to create the opportunity to build new nuclear units at Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant.”

“We believe there is tremendous value for our customers in FPL having the option to proceed with new, reliable, emissions-free nuclear energy.”

In 2009 FPL submitted a COL application to the NRC. The final environmental impact statement is expected in October of this year. An NRC license for each reactor is expected by the end of 2017.

EDF / Areva Submit New Plan to Build Six EPRs at Jaitapur

The Economic Times of India reports July 7 that two French state-owned nuclear giants have submitted a new plan for building nuclear reactors at the Jaitapur site on India’s west coast. Instead of just two 1650 MW units, the plan now calls for all six to be built. Previously, the plan was to build two units and then evaluate future needs for another four reactors in the future.

EDF officials told the newspaper planning for all six units to be built will bring down costs because the supply chains, including local procurement of long lead time components from Indian firms, will be more focused and reliable.

Senior executives from EDF and Areva are now in detailed financial negotiations with the Nuclear Power Corporation  of India (NPCIL) on the new proposal.  EDF took over management of the project as part of the recapitalization of Areva’s nuclear division.

A key issue for EDF is India’s civil liability law for nuclear plants. EDF has asked the NPCIL provide the same level of protection that India has signed up for on an international level to domestic projects.

India ratified an international convention on compensation for nuclear damages, but has not modified its domestic law in this area. An insurance fund has been created to pay for damages, but industry analysts point out that at less than $300M, it is unlikely to cover costs associated with a major nuclear accident.

EDF said the French government wants binding conditions for protection on the Jaitapur project.

During a visit to India earlier this year, French President Francois Hollande and Indian PM Narandra Modi signed off on a roadmap to conclude all project negotiations by the end of 2016.

Blue Castle Project Begins Selection Process for New Nuclear Power Plant Construction Contractors in Utah

Blue Castle Holdings is beginning the contractor selection process for its construction joint venture for a two-unit 2200 MW nuclear power plant in Green River, Utah. The firm is hosting a project overview webinar on July 21, 2016 at 1:00 PM MDT. Information and registration forms for firms can be found on the web

The webinar is limited to qualified contractors with the capability to execute large contracts in heavy civil, mechanical, electrical, structural building, engineering, industrial procurement, modular fabrication and project management. It is not a public meeting.

Contractors qualified under Appendix B, ASME Nuclear Quality Assurance (NQA-1) programs are required for about 70% of the scope of work. About 30% of work scope will be conducted under other typical industrial construction standards.

The combined estimated contract work available to construction joint venture participants is approximately $8 billion in nuclear and non-nuclear related plant and infrastructure work over a seven year time frame. The project is expected to start in 2020 for non-safety related work and 2022 for nuclear safety related work. This timetable would put completion of the first of two reactors at about 2028 although the company has not announced that date.

NRC Licensing Status

The Blue Castle Project has not yet submitted a COL license application to the NRC for its project’s reactors. According to an NRC status report the agency has a provisional schedule showing the start of licensing activities sometime in 2017.

According to a February 2016 NRC congressional budget briefing, the Blue Castle Early Site Permit (ESP) is experiencing delays in its development of an ESP application with revised plans to submit its application during FY  2017.

Reactor for the Project

The firm’s original plans involved the possible use of GE-Hitachi new ESBWR. However, in 2014 Blue Castle and Westinghouse announced plans to develop two 1150 MW AP1000 reactors at the Green River, UT, site.

The companies will work together to develop a scope of activities including marketing, nuclear safety licensing, permitting, design, engineering, procurement, construction, installation, commissioning, startup, testing, nuclear fuel, refueling, operation and maintenance of the two-unit plant.

The proposed multi-unit Blue Castle Nuclear Project could increase the electricity generated in Utah by approximately 30% by adding 2,200 MW of installed electrical capacity. It is expected that about 1,000 permanent full-time employees will work at the plant for 60 years, and that more than 2,500 workers will work during the projected six year construction of the multi-unit plant.

Water Rights

A November 2013 court ruling approved water for use at the proposed Blue Castle Holdings new nuclear power project in Green River. Blue Castle is now the first new nuclear site in the western U.S. with an approved water source, the single most important asset for deployment of a new nuclear power project.

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