Nuclear Energy Reactor Animations

Is a picture worth 1000 words? For people interested in how light water reactors work, the mix of GIF images available on the Internet sometimes falls short.  Here’s a link to a beautifully designed set of animation of how one works.

It is also a good basic educational item so feel free to link to this post or copy it as needed for your nonprofit or educational use. Be sure to use the credit line below when you do.

Hat tip to Vincent Nero, Senior Content Marketing Specialist http://siegemedia.com for letting me know about their work which developed this content for their client  SaveOnEnergy in Plano, TX.

The nucleus of the Uranium atom is bombarded with neutrons which causes it to split apart and collide with other atoms in a chain reaction.

How Nuclear Energy Works

This piece explains the process of how nuclear power works and outlines the process in a series of simple, easy-to-understand animations.

Why is nuclear power still such a heated point of debate? It may be due to the fact that people are unfamiliar with the inner workings of nuclear power.

Most don’t realize how similar a nuclear power plant actually is to any other type of power plant. The plant still heats water into steam which powers a turbine generator. This is the same way a coal plant works, for instance. The main difference is the radioactive fuel used to power the core of a nuclear plant.

Nuclear power’s source is uranium. This is a natural element found in the earth’s crust. It naturally undergoes spontaneous fission which gives off heat. A nuclear power plant’s core contains rods of uranium. These rods get submerged in a pool of water and produce an intense amount of heat. This heated water (now radioactive) never comes in touch with anything outside of the core. It moves through a pipe which heats another body of water. That body of water then produces the steam that powers a turbine which makes electricity.

This is the one of the three very cool animations at the SaveOnEnergy site. Click on this URL to see the others.

Image of containment structure showing enriched Uranium submerged into water in the reactor core. Then water heats to 570˚F then pressurizes. This pressurized water feeds into a steam generator and turns to steam. A second image of a turbine/generator shows steam generator powering turbine. The turbine powers the generator. Steam then condenses into water and pumps into the cooling tower. The third image is of the cooling tower which cools water. Fresh water pumps in to get cooled. Then cool water cycles back through.

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Nuclear News Roundup for April 23, 2017

NRC asked to Suspend Review of a License Application for West Texas Interim Storage Site for Spent Nuclear Fuel

(Midland Reporter-Telegram) Waste Control Specialists (WCS) has requested that the NRC to suspend its review of its license application for an Interim Storage Site for Spent Nuclear Fuel in Andrews County, TX.  The reasons, the firm says, is that it faces an government antitrust suit over a pending merger with Energy Solutions. Also, it is running out of cash to pay for the NRC review.

WCS is looking to store spent nuclear fuel from commercial nuclear power plants at its already-existing low-level radioactive waste storage facility in Andrews County. The term “interim” could refer to storage of the spent fuel for periods of 50-100 years.

Because the spent fuel will be stored in steel lined concrete canisters, and buried in soil at a dry and geologically stable site, the risk of this long duration isn’t the same as for wet storage at a nuclear power plant.

WCS said there are two reasons it wants to pause the license review process.  It said it has a pending merger with Utah based Energy Solutions, but it faces an anti-trust lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Justice.

The firm also said it is having to ramp up its efforts to raise the money needed to pay for the review, $7.5 million, which it says, “is significantly higher than we originally estimated.”

The firm’s letter to the NRC also cited costs associated with the public participation process, a potential adjudicatory hearing before the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board as other reasons.

It revealed that a cost-sharing agreement with one of its partners being depleted. Its partners are TN Americas and NAC International, according to the press release.

Holtec Plans Amendments To Application For New Mexico Used Fuel Facility

(NucNet) Florida-based Holtec International wants to expand the scope of its planned temporary storage facility for spent nuclear fuel (SNF) in New Mexico to accommodate the various SNF canister types used across the US.

Holtec said it will ask the NRC to expand the authorization for the planned Hi-Store Consolidated Interim Storage (Hi-Store CIS) facility to hold every canister type ever used by both present and past suppliers to US nuclear plants.

Holtec said the list includes suppliers such as Areva, Pacific Nuclear, Vectra, NAC, Sierra Nuclear, BNFL Solutions and Westinghouse.

In March 2017, Holtec filed an initial licensing application with the NRC for the construction of the Hi-Store CIS facility. The facility will provide an interim option for US nuclear power plant operators that need to store used fuel assemblies in the absence of a federal disposal solution.

Nuclear Startup in Denmark Garners Headlines, but Details are Scarce

(NucNet) Seaborg Technologies of Copenhagen says it is developing an advanced thorium-based molten salt reactor (MSR) and has received a grant from the public funding agency Innovation Fund Denmark, a move that marks the first Danish investment into nuclear fission research since a 1985 ban on nuclear energy.

The decision to fund the reactor, known as the Seaborg CUBE-100 (short for Compact Used Fuel BurnEr), is the beginning of the first Danish venture into the development of advanced fission reactor concepts.

Few details are available about the effort. A white paper from a another firm, also located in Denmark, provides information about a “waste burner” design. It is unclear whether the firms are aligned or competitors. A very similar white paper, posted at the Seaborg web site, has since been taken down. The firm’s website is down and refers people to a Facebook page.

In 2015 Seaborg Technologies was reported in the Danish news media as a startup company working to develop and commercialize thorium-based molten salt reactors.

Seaborg Technologies, based in Copenhagen, was at the time reported to be a collaboration between a small team of physicists, chemists and engineers with educational roots at the Niels Bohr Institute, CERN, ESS (European Spallation Source) and DTU Center of Nuclear Technologies. Seaborg Technologies reportedly takes it name after the American nuclear chemist and Nobel laureate Glenn T. Seaborg.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report on MSRs that the Seaborg prototype, known as the Seaborg Waste Burner (SWaB), is a 50 MWth single fluid unit. It is graphite moderated and fuelled by a combination of spent nuclear fuel and thorium.

Seaborg chief executive officer Troels Schönfeldt said in a recent media interview that with the initial small funding the company has it will be able to position itself for the additional investment required to progress towards commercial maturity.

Dr Schönfeldt said the company is looking for “visionary investors” with the long-term perspective required to capitalize on advanced nuclear reactors.

According to his Linkedin profile, Schonmfeldt completed his PhD in physics at a Danish university in 2015.

Jaitapur Nuclear Project to Break Ground in 2018

(The Hindu) Work on the 9900 MW (six EPR reactors) at the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project (JNPP) will finally take off in December 2018 and is likely to be completed by 2027.

A delegation led by French Ambassador Alexander Ziegler held a meeting with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to discuss the long-pending JNPP for which land has been acquired near Jaitapur plateau in Ratnagiri district.

The project, which will have six nuclear reactors, will be built using the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) technology. French company EDF proposes to build six EPRs of 1600 MW each in Jaitapur. EDF has now taken 51% share in the reactor business from Areva. Both firms are state-owned by the French government.

Funding for the project, to be provided by NPCIL, still has not been made final. It is expected that two reactors will be built initially the the other four to follow in later years.

Russia To Start Construction Of India’s Kudankulam-3 and -4 In 2017

(NucNet) Russian state-owned nuclear corporation Rosatom will begin construction work for India’s planned Kudankulam-3 and -4 reactor units this year in in Tamil Nadu state, southern India. In November 2016,

Rosatom’s nuclear equipment manufacturing company Atomenergomash announced it had begun manufacturing major components for Kudankulam-3.

In October 2016, Rosatom said first concrete had been poured for the foundation slabs of Units 3 and 4 at Kudankulam. Both units will be of the Russia-designed VVER-1000 pressurised water reactor type.

Idaho Lab sets plans for new test reactor on the Arco Desert

(Idaho Falls Post Register) — A three-year research and development process is underway regarding a potential new test reactor at Idaho National Laboratory’s desert site.

The study to find the cost and capabilities of a Versatile Reactor-based Fast Neutron Source began in March according to Rita Baranwal, the director of Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear program.

Baranwal said a fast reactor would provide next-generation fuel-testing capabilities not offered by INL’s Advanced Test Reactor or Transient Reactor Experiment and Test Facility, which is expected to resume operation this year.

There aren’t yet cost or schedule estimates for a new fast reactor, which would be used by private industry, government and academia. Such infrastructure doesn’t exist in the United States, but is necessary to remain globally competitive, Baranwal said.

“The industry needs a new fast spectrum test reactor to qualify fuel manufacturing processes and demonstrate fuel performance,” she said.

“Folks go to Russia to use their fast reactor. The time is right for us to be embarking on such an endeavor to build a reactor that would provide these capabilities.”

NRC Asks For Public Comment On SMR Emergency Preparedness Requirements

(NucNet) The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission is asking for public comment on a draft regulatory basis for new emergency preparedness requirements for small modular reactors (SMRs) and other new technologies such as non-light-water reactor facilities.

A regulatory basis is an early stage in the rulemaking process in which the NRC explains the rationale for developing new regulatory requirements and seeks input from the public.

The NRC said the nuclear power industry is developing SMRs and other advanced reactor technologies that differ in size, scope and hazard from the large light-water reactors operating in the US today.

Their smaller size or innovative safety features are likely to lead to lower risk or less challenging accident conditions than today’s reactors. This rulemaking would establish emergency preparedness requirements appropriate to these technologies, the NRC said. Details online: http://bit.ly/2oKE2ol

NuScale has submitted a package to the NRC for a safety review of its design of a 50MW SMR. The firms’ first customer, a consortium of Utah utilities, wants to build up to 12 of the units at site at the Idaho National Laboratory in eastern Idaho.

Experts Say New Nations Pose Challenges for Nuclear Governance

(NEI) The nuclear governance system is facing an unprecedented challenge as traditional nuclear suppliers that have built the backbone of the safety, security and nonproliferation regime face new competition to provide technology to emerging nations. This is according to an April 19 policy report released by the Global Nexus Initiative (GNI), a unique project that combines experts from the nuclear industry and leading energy, climate change and nuclear security advocacy organizations.

The locus of new nuclear plant construction has shifted to fast-growing nations in Asia and the Middle East, the report notes, and traditional suppliers, including the U.S., France and Japan, are giving way to Russia and China, which have the most active nuclear production lines, the capacity to increase manufacturing and the state financing to support it.

China alone has 21 reactors under construction and another 40 planned; Russia has seven under construction and another 25 planned. South Korea, a key U.S. ally and another emerging global nuclear supplier, has three reactors under construction and is building four new reactors abroad in the United Arab Emirates.

Neither Russia nor China have been leaders in the nuclear governance area and many nations with emerging economies and ambitious nuclear power development plans face challenges in effectively governing the plants and materials they seek.

“Control of the nuclear energy market translates into the power to set the governance agenda,” said Kenneth Luongo, president of the Partnership for Global Security (PGS), a nonpartisan think-tank offering innovative solutions to global nuclear security challenges.

“We cannot afford a race to the bottom in pursuit of market share in this vital area. The growth of non-U.S. and non-European nuclear reactor suppliers is a significant concern as it may impact the global leadership needed to drive forward the improvements required for the system to remain effective.”

GNI’s fourth and final report will be released May 2 at a press conference at the National Press Club with a simultaneous webcast. The memo will present recommendations on the role of nuclear power in meeting the challenges of energy production, climate change and global security.

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NRC, DOE to Hold Third Advanced Reactor Workshop

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Department of Energy are continuing their joint workshop series on innovative reactor technologies, April 25-26, in Bethesda, Md.

“We are encouraging interested parties to continue discussing the most efficient and effective path forward to safely develop and deploy advanced reactors in the United States,” said Vonna Ordaz, acting director of the NRC’s Office of New Reactors.

“We expect to discuss topics such as modeling and testing innovative technologies, as well as how vendors might approach getting their designs approved for U.S. use.”

The NRC defines advanced reactors as those technologies using something other than water to cool the reactor core. The NRC is currently discussing one such advanced design with a vendor considering applying for design certification. The NRC remains available for early-stage discussion with other potential advanced reactor vendors.

Online registration for the workshop is available through April 17. The workshop is open to the public and will begin at 8:30 a.m., Tuesday, April 25, at the Bethesda North Marriott, 5701 Marinelli Road.

The workshop will include presentations as well as structured and open discussions, using a facilitator.

For more information on the workshop, please contact the

  • NRC’s Nishka Devaser (301-415-5196 or nishka.devaser@nrc.gov) and
  • John Segala (301-415-1992 or john.segala@nrc.gov); or the
  • DOE’s Trevor Cook (301-903-7046 or trevor.cook@nuclear.energy.gov) and
  • Tom Sowinski (301-903-0112 or thomas.sowinski@nuclear.energy.gov).

Source

Nuclear Regulatory Commission – Press Release
No: 17-016 April 11, 2017
CONTACT: Scott Burnell, 301-415-8200

Posted in Nuclear | 1 Comment

A Modest Proposal to Save NuGen’s Moorside Nuclear Project

  • nugen logoIt involves the original choice for three Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactors
  • It requires the South Korean nuclear giant KEPCO to be the engineering procurement construction leader (EPC) but not the investor nor the reactor vendor
  • It requires UK government to do three tremendous things (1) guarantee the electricity rates for the 60 year life of the plants (2) issues bonds backed by the rates to pay for the project, and (3) follow through with BREXIT to spike any possibility of interference Austria or anyone else in the EU with the rate case.
  • It requires NuGen to get a new utility operator to replace Engie which bailed out of its 40% stake this week

Jonathan Swift’s original “Modest Proposal” was written to address the issue that there were too many children in Ireland and the UK that could not be fed and thus were starving. He considered the option of selling the children into slavery, but pointed out that no one would buy them since all were under the age of 12.

Written in 1729, the title of Swift’s essay offering logical suggestions for dealing in intractable problems involving the welfare of the entire society has become an idiomatic phase for ideas that attempt to do the same in the modern era. That’s what is presented here.

In the UK the nuclear project at Moorside in Cumbria has of late become starved for funds and has few, if any, immediate prospects for buyers due to its still being on the drawing board with no construction underway.

NuGen’s Moorside nuclear project to be located on a site near Sellafield, in Cumbria, is in real trouble and so is the UK. The nation needs the project, and its 3,300 MW of CO2 emission free power because the North Sea oil and gas fields have finite shelf lives and the first generation of UK nuclear power plants are reaching the end of their service lives.

There have been fast moving events this week as Toshiba, the parent company of Westinghouse, its American business unit, fired the management team there and also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in New York. Toshiba was also required to take over the 40% equity stake in the NuGen project held by Engie, formerly GDF Suez, which per contract demanded to be released from its commitments.

As predicted by this blog, a private equity firm became the first investor in the strategy by Westinghouse to emerge from Chapter 11, but not for the reactor business.

The Apollo Investment Corp. of New York came up with an $800 million debtor-in-possession financing package$800 million debtor-in-possession financing package which was approved by the bankruptcy judge.

It is a big bet for the firm which according to its website has $2.5 billion invested in a diversified portfolio. The new loan is equal to one-third of all other investments made by the firm.

What Apollo sees, and provides confidence in the size of its position, is that parts of Westinghouse are making money now and will continue to do so. According to the court filing “the majority of the debtors’ businesses — particularly those relating to nuclear fuel and the servicing of nuclear plants—are very profitable.”

The next step is for Westinghouse to focus on the “profitable core businesses and isolate them from the one specific area of their businesses that is losing money: their construction of nuclear power plants in Georgia and South Carolina.”

This means the investors behind the $800 million raised by the equity firm can see daylight, but not for the nuclear reactor construction side of the business.

In short the investors putting up the $800M are not throwing a life preserver to NuGen. It’s also bad news for the US reactor projects in Georgia and South Carolina.

A Strategy for NuGen to Move Ahead at Moorside

The first thing NuGen needs is a new investment plan. The project needs money and a lots of it it. At an estimated “overnight cost” $5,000/Kw, the 3,450 MW of power could cost approximately $17 billion.  That doesn’t include all the extras like substantially beefing up the regional grid to deliver power to customers.

Frankly, the South Koreans, as interested as they are in the project, are not going to do two things. First, they are not going to be investors. Second, they don’t have a reactor design that has cleared the UK’s Generic Design Approval (GDA) process which means any EPC contractor hired for the job has to build AP1000s which do have GDA signoff.

The only set of deep pockets left in the UK is the government itself. If the government can be convinced to guarantee the rates for the plant, then that guarantee can be the basis for government issued bonds for the project. Backed by the full faith and credit of the UK government, the bonds will get a good rating for acquisition by institutional investors.

Finally, because the government would be setting a rate case to support the bonds, it needs to be sure that there will not be efforts to meddle in this arrangement by anti-nuclear states in the European Union like Austria. That country has already tried to torpedo the Hinkley Point project, composed of three Areva 1650 MW EPRs, and may take another bite at the apple with Moorside.

The circuit breaker in this scenario is BREXIT. Brexit is a commonly used term for the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Union (EU) fol;owing the 2016 referendum vote to leave. The UK government started the withdrawal process on March 28,2017, putting the country on course to leave the EU by April 2019.

The original date for the investment decision in NuGen’s Moorside project was December 2018. Waiting another four months to see BREXIT complete would allow the rate case and the bonds to float free of interference from the EU.

This is necessarily a conceptual scenario and there are lots of details, and reasons, that might make it impossible to carry out. That said, this is the kind of swing for the fences thinking that NuGen is going to need to bring the project home.

UK Business Secretary in South Korea Over NuGen

(NucNet)(WNN): UK business secretary Greg Clark visited Seoul this week in a bid to salvage plans to build three Westinghouse Generation III+ AP1000 nuclear reactor units at Moorside in Cumbria, northwest England.

Media reports said Clark met senior South Korean government officials and nuclear industry executives to discuss potential investment in Moorside by Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco), the state-controlled utility.

“KEPCO has a very strong reputation internationally in nuclear sector. So it’s not a surprise to me that the company is considered by the NuGen consortium,” the British secretary said

He added “If KEPCO agrees to become part of the consortium, the company will have the full right in terms of the relationship with the U.K. Government and the U.K. authorities as other members of the consortium do.”

KEPCO, however, has not yet made any specific decision on whether or not it will join the consortium.

Korea’s KEPCO Cautious About Moorside Role

(Reuters) As Britain hunts for a new partner for a stalled nuclear power project, South Korea’s KEPCO remains the most likely partner, but the giant utility says it won’t be rushed into making a deal.

“Both Britain and Toshiba, they seem to be in a greater hurry than we thought and pushing KEPCO. In fact, it requires considerable time to review a project, so it is not a matter that can be done hastily,” an expert anonymous source in South Korea told the wire service.

At a briefing in Seoul, Britain’s Clark offered no indication of concrete progress in his negotiations with KEPCO. The minister said added the choice of a partner is for NuGen to decide, not the British government.

One key issue for KEPCO will be the technology used for the Moorside project – Toshiba’s AP1000 reactor, as planned, or its own APR1400. While Toshiba previously received the green light from Britain for the Westinghouse design, KEPCO might want to make approval for its own technology that a condition.

Alternatively, it might want the contracts to make the more expensive long lead items like steam generators, turbines, pumps, and other system components.

“KEPCO is working and studying hard which type of nuclear reactors would suit better for them, given the current market situation,” the second expert with knowledge of the matter told the wire service. Using KEPCO’s own reactors could “give a better reason to join the project”, the person said.

In point of fact, this rhetoric might be bargaining chip language to get better terms on any deal. The equation might be – give up trying to push your own reactor technology and we’ll (the UK / NuGen) give you other parts of the project that will make it worthwhile for you to be the EPC lead.

A realistic view is that pushing KEPCO’s reactor would add two to three years of delay to the project as KEPCO’s reactor design has not been submitted for GDA review. The fastest path open to the firm is to be the EPC for the project and have Westinghouse be a vendor of the reactors.

Toshiba Holding the Bag as NuGen Partner Backs Out of Moorside 

(Telegraph UK) The future of the Moorside nuclear plant in Cumbria has been thrown into fresh doubt after one of its backers quit the project, leaving struggling Japanese conglomerate Toshiba as the last developer standing.

Engie, formerly known as GDF Suez, will sell its 40% stake in the project to majority partner Toshiba for $138.5m (£111.3m), saying the plan to build three nuclear reactors at the Cumbrian site faces “significant challenges” after a US subsidiary of the Japanese firm filed for bankruptcy.

Having stated its intention to exit nuclear projects outside Japan, Toshiba is now in the position of holding sole responsibility for developing Moorside. It said it would continue to hunt for backers interested in Moorside in order to sell off its holding in the project.

AP1000 Completes GDA

The Westinghouse AP1000 cleared the GDA process on March 30, 2017. The award of the Design Acceptance Confirmation (DAC), and Statement of Design Acceptability (SoDA), by the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency respectively moves NuGen’s Moorside Project forward.

The award of DAC and SoDA marks the end of a decade-long process involving Westinghouse, the designer of the AP1000, after completing an exhaustive dialogue with the nuclear regulators to ensure the reactor design is suitable for construction in the UK. It confirms that the reactors used in West Cumbria will meet the regulators’ expectations on safety, security and environmental protection.

The conclusion of GDA means that NuGen, through its own in-house Design Authority, now takes ownership of and responsibility for the design in relation to the AP1000 reactors at Moorside.

The AP1000 reactor design becomes only the second of the new generation of reactors to be confirmed by the regulators to be acceptable for deployment in the UK. The first was the Areva EPR where first concrete has been poured at the Hinkley Point project to build two of them.

Horizon Submits Site Application For Wylfa Newydd Nuclear Station

(NucNet): Horizon Nuclear Power has submitted its site application to build and operate two UK Advanced-Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) units at the Wylfa Newydd nuclear power station on the island of Anglesey in north Wales, the company said on April 4, 2017.

Receipt of the application by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) now triggers a rigorous 19-month program of assessment to establish whether Horizon can demonstrate it will be in control of all safety related activities on its site.

Hitachi-GE’s UK ABWR reactor technology is progressing through the fourth and final stage of its generic design assessment, or GDA, and is on track to be approved for use in the UK by the end of December 2017. If that approval is granted, Horizon aims to receive all the necessary permissions by the end of 2018.

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TRISO Fuel Drives Global Development of Advanced Reactors

  • The development of an advanced fuel is enabling the design and deployment of new high temperature gas cooled reactors worldwide.
  • China is a technology leader in this area.
  • However, work is also taking place in the US and Canada.
  • South Africa is taking a second look at its PBMR design.

Fuel loading starts at Chinese demonstration HTGR

HTGR_ns(WNN) The loading of TRISO spherical fuel elements has begun at China’s Shidaowan HTR-PM (large image) – a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) demonstration project. (Conceptual image right)

The unit is scheduled to begin operating later this year. The first of the graphite spheres was loaded within the reactor’s core on April 5.

Work on two demonstration HTR-PM units at China Huaneng Group’s Shidaowan site near Weihai city in China’s Shandong province, began in December 2012. The plant will initially comprise twin HTR-PM reactor modules driving a single 210 MWe steam turbine.

A proposal to construct two 600 MWe HTR plants – each featuring three twin reactor and turbine units – at Ruijin city in China’s Jiangxi province passed a preliminary feasibility review in early 2015. The design of the Ruijin HTRs is based on the smaller Shidaowan demonstration HTR-PM. Construction of the Ruijin reactors is expected to start next year, with grid connection in 2021.

21_htrpm

China has been actively promoting its HTR technology overseas and has already signed agreements with other countries – including Saudi Arabia, South Africa and the UAE – to consider the construction of HTGR plants. Last August, China Nuclear Energy Engineering Group signed an agreement with Indonesia’s National Atomic Energy Agency (Batan) to jointly develop an HTGR in Indonesia.

Profile of the HTR-PM TRISO Fuel

(WNN) Each of the graphite spheres for the HTR-PM is 60 millimeters in diameter and weighs about 0.192 kilograms. Every fuel element contains 7 grams of heavy metal. The enrichment of U-235 is 8.5%. The uranium kernels – about 0.5mm in diameter – are coated by three layers of pyro-carbon and one layer of silicon carbon.

The coated fuel particles are dispersed in matrix graphite of pyrolytic carbon PyC which is 5cm in diameter. Surrounding the fuel-containing graphite matrix is a 5mm thick graphite layer.

The reactor cavity will be filled with a total of 245,318 fuel elements, to a depth of over 11 meters. In 2005, a prototyping fuel-production facility was constructed at the Institute for Nuclear and New Energy Technology with an annual capacity of 100,000 fuel elements.

X-Energy Launches Conceptual Design of its Pebble Bed HTGR

In an innovative partnership tiny X-Energy, a start-up, has teamed with one of America’s biggest nuclear utilities, Southern Co., to collaborate on the development and commercialization of the design of a high temperature gas-cooled reactor.

X Energy, LLC (X-energy) announced March 16 that it has commenced the conceptual design phase for its Xe-100 high temperature gas-cooled (HTGR) pebble bed modular reactor. The company also welcomes Clint Medlock, a Southern Nuclear employee, as Program Management Consultant.

X-energy held a Conceptual Design Readiness Review on March 8 to validate the baseline design parameters, preparatory documentation, analysis tools, scope of the proposed conceptual design phase (including all planned deliverables), management processes and overall team readiness to proceed on to the next phase of Xe-100 reactor development.

An external panel comprised of industry experts from Southern Nuclear, Burns & McDonnell, and Technology Insights was engaged to evaluate X-energy’s preparedness to enter the conceptual design phase.

As part of the conceptual design, X-energy and Southern Nuclear deepened their relationship by engaging Clint Medlock on X-energy’s Xe-100 development team as Program Management Consultant. Medlock, a 12-year Southern Nuclear veteran, has 27 years’ nuclear industry experience and has managed several large nuclear design and construction projects.

“I am excited to have Clint as part of our X-energy leadership team. His nuclear experience, input, and guidance has and will continue to be invaluable,” said Ghaffarian.

“We value our partnership with Southern Nuclear as we move through conceptual design and look towards deployment.” In August 2016, Southern Nuclear and X-energy entered into a Memorandum of Understanding as a step toward commercializing and deploying the Xe-100.

Triso Fuel Hold the Keys to the X-Energy / Southern Partnership

Neither Southern nor X-Energy explained in their press statements in August 2016 where their R&D work intersects. The technological link between the two projects is Triso fuel. Some GEN IV designs of very high temperature molten salt reactors specify the use of it. The pebble bed design depends entirely on Triso fuel.

According to a 2013 report by World Nuclear News, research teams at two US national laboratories ORNL, INL) have found that irradiated carbon-coated Triso fuel particles are even more resistant to extreme temperatures than previously thought, offering potential benefits for reactor safety. TRISO fuel developed and tested at the Idaho National Laboratory was enriched to just over 9% U235.

The pebble bed and molten salt designs share another characteristic, and that is both have a negative temperature coefficient that automatically shuts down the reactor if temperatures get too high. The Integral Fast Reactor, a sodium cooled design, also has this safety feature.

The structure and spherical shape of TRISO fuel means that it maintains its integrity under extreme heat conditions. TRISO fuel was originally developed in the 1980s and is currently being manufactured in the USA.

TRISO fuels are fabricated by BWX Technologies Nuclear Operations Group (Lynchburg, Virginia)  that can be formed for use in both the prismatic-block version of the HTGR and the pebble-bed HTGR, depending on the selected reactor design.

Urenco Designing a 10 MW “U-Battery”

(Bloomberg) Urenco Ltd., the world’s second-biggest maker of atomic fuel, is is developing a radically smaller nuclear reactors in order to boost demand for its services.

The company is developing, in conjunction with Amec Foster Wheeler Plc, a generation of small, modular reactors called “U-Batteries,” CEO  Thomas Haeberle told the Bloomberg wire service the firm’s design is expected to be able to  generate 10MW of electrical power or for use as process heat.

TRISO Fuel - credt U-Battery

The U-Battery is being developed for small towns and industries operating in areas beyond the reach of large nuclear plants. While a typical reactor generating a 1,000 MW of electrical power would need pervasive grid access and dense populations for profitability, a U-Battery could make economic sense even in more remote areas with less concentrated economic activity.

Haeberle said. “It will enable nuclear to grow in areas that big nuclear wouldn’t have access to.”

Central to the U-Battery design is its so-called TRISO fuel, a three-layered sphere with a uranium kernel that can withstand very high operating temperatures according to the web site prospectus. The reactor uses helium to move heat via a primary loop from the reactor directly to a turbine or to secondary loop in a steam generator.

The company is in talks about conducting trials on a prototype in Canada and Poland and is about to start the licensing process, the CEO said.

The construction company Laing O’Rourke Plc as well as shipbuilder Cammell Laird Holdings Plc are also part of the group developing U-battery.

South Africa to Invest in Pebble Power, Round 2

(Financial Mail) South Africa a new initiative to revive the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor project that was abandoned in 2010 after years of development. The reasons for halting the project were given as cost overruns, missed deadlines and lack of an anchor customer.

Problems were also identified with the efficiency of the reactor for baseload electrical power. Applications for process heat were not fully explored by the R&D program. The intellectual property of the PBMR remained with Eskom, which is revisiting it.

Brian Molefe, CEO of Eskom, has asked his team to look again at the PBMR and the new plan is to develop a reactor that is simpler and more efficient than the original design. A small-scale nuclear reactor would fit into a grid mix that includes the intermittency of renewable power.

He says the funding for this research is limited and the project is not yet at the stage where he can give a cost estimate for design, proof of concept and commercialization.

South Africa’s Controversial Nuclear Power Plans

(Deutsche Welle) President Jacob Zuma’s recent cabinet reshuffle removed key political figures from government who are opposed to proposals to build more nuclear reactors. These are full size reactors based on conventional light water technologies.

The political move also set financial markets on edge and put the South African currency into a new tailspin.

South Africa is now being gripped by fresh controversy over plans for expanding its nuclear power program. The new finance minister Malusi Gigaba denied that any deal had been inked with Rosatom for 9.6 GW of nuclear power. The Rosatom offer is for eight light water type VVER 1200 MW units.

Gigaba’s predecessor as finance minister, Pravin Gordan,  who was fired last week, was a strong opponent of the Russian proposal and the development of nuclear energy in general, largely over cost issues. The new nuclear reactors are expected to cost more than (65 billion euros, $73 billion).

Gordan repeatedly warned of the high costs of nuclear projects believing they would plunge South Africa deeper into debt. The ministers for energy and for public works in the old cabinet also lost their jobs in the recent purge of political appointees.

Hartmut Winkler, professor of Physics at the University of Johannesburg, told DW that the change in finance ministers is politically motivated.

“Zuma fired Gordan so that he could replace him with someone who wouldn’t raise any major objections to the planned nuclear deal,” he said.

Rosatom announced that it had sealed a “strategic partnership” with South Africa in 2014 when President Jacob Zuma visited his Russian counterpart Vladmir Putin in the Kremlin. The plan was to build eight nuclear reactors in South Africa with a combined output of 9.6 GW by 2030.

News media in South Africa have reported connections between President Zuma and family members of his close supporters. Critics of the nuclear deal claim that the huge project will provide Zuma with a nearly bottomless bucket of patronage for his supporters.

DW reported that its research indicated that Rosatom is the favorite to secure the deal. However, Nesca, the state-run nuclear energy corporation, has denied this allegation. The newspaper did not reveal its sources nor publish any documents to back up its claim.

South Africa was in the process of collecting bids ESKOM, the state owned public utility said in a written statement. Companies could submit bids until April 28.

A number of companies have ready promised do this including major suppliers of nuclear technology from China, France, Russia and South Korea. Eskom would send the paperwork to the finance ministry and the cabinet and was hoping approval for the project before the end of the year. ESKOM has released and canceled tenders for nuclear energy in the past with the cancellations attributed to the lack of financing for the project.

South Africa’s economy is in trouble and the currency has been devalued. It’s bond rating now has a “junk” rating and some investment analysts say that downward move is long overdue. The ability of the nation to pay for a $73 billion energy program is beyond its reach even with 50% financing from a vendor taking an equity stake in the project.

South Africa’s ruling party on April 9 said the government will have to re-think its costly and highly contentious nuclear expansion program following last week’s relegation of the country’s creditworthiness to junk.

Within days of each other, two of the world’s major rating agencies, Fitch and Standard & Poor’s, downgraded South African sovereign debt to junk status after President Jacob Zuma’s dramatic ministerial shake-up that saw respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan axed.

In 2010 South Africa formulated plans to expand its nuclear power capacity, plans estimated to cost around R1-trillion ($73-billion).

The politics of the structure of South Africa’s economy is one of the things that keeps the government in a state of near perpetual turmoil.

The new finance minister Malusi Gigaba, told CNBC reporters last week,

“The issue of radical economic transformation arises from a criticism that for quite a long time the structure of the South African economy has not been changed. We have not paid sufficient attention to the real economy, to industrializing the economy, to ensuring that we create entrepreneurs and industrialists, particularly among black people.”

“No-one can properly define this term” Peter Attard-Montalto, emerging markets economist at Nomura, told CNBC. He added that it was likely to imply initiatives such as faster land redistribution, forced share ownership changes and higher wealth taxes.

The goal is to address the fact that around 10% of the population – a largely white cohort – still own at least 90 to 95% of all wealth, according to widely cited research from REDI published last June. The report also made allegations of widespread corruption by President Zuma and his supporters.

It isn’t clear whether Gigaba plans for the government to seize assets from the wealthy, but even if he does, it may cripple the very industries that would be the customers for the electricity that would come from the planned nuclear reactor program.

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Nuclear New Roundup for April 3, 2017

First Concrete to Be Poured at EDF’s Hinkley Point Project in UK

(WNN) The UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has granted its first consent for the start of construction of a nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point C. The consent covers the placement of the structural concrete for the first nuclear safety-related structure at the site. It does not give consent for all elements of construction.

Under a deal agreed in October 2015, China General Nuclear (CGN) will take a 33.5% stake in EDF Energy’s £18 billion ($28 billion) project to construct Hinkley Point C, in Somerset, England.

Consisting of two Areva-designed European Pressurized Reactors, it will be the first new nuclear power station to be built in the UK in almost 20 years and will provide about 7% of the country’s electricity. The first unit is expected to be commissioned in 2025-2026.

The UK EPR design became the first reactor design to complete the country’s Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process and receive a Design Acceptance Confirmation (DAC) from the ONR and a Statement of Design Acceptability from the Environment Agency, in December 2012.

EDF Energy and CGN also plan to develop projects to build new plants at Sizewell in Suffolk and Bradwell in Essex, the latter using Chinese reactor technology – the HPR1000. General Nuclear Systems (GNS) is a joint venture between CGN and EDF, developed to deliver the Bradwell project.

The regulators received a request from the government to commence a GDA of the UK HPR1000 reactor technology on 10 January. This followed their work with GNS, the requesting party, on the pre-requisites for GDA. The ONR said last week the GDA process for the UK HPR1000 had formally started on 19 January and that its completion was expected in 2021.

Dominion Utility Moves Forward with Nuclear Plan

(Southeast Energy News) A Virginia utility is forging ahead with plans for a new reactor provided by a different company.

Federal regulators signaled Dominion Virginia Power is on track to receive its long-sought license to build and operate its fifth reactor in the state once requisite structural modifications are certified to deal with earthquake risks.

The feedback came this week when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) completed a mandatory hearing addressing a wide range of environmental and safety issues, including changes to the proposed reactor technology Dominion has selected, which has yet to be deployed in the U.S. It is the GE-Hitachi ESBWR.

“With the structural design changes,” the NRC stated, the proposed Economically Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) design meets “acceptance limits” needed to secure a Combined Construction and Operating License (COL).

Dominion’s vice president of generation construction, Mark Mitchell, hailed the hearing as a “major milestone” for nuclear power in Virginia.

The structural changes required stem from an August 23, 2011 earthquake that shook much of the East Coast. That earthquake shut down both of the existing reactors at Dominion’s North Anna plant, as they were designed to do, causing no “functional damage,” according to Dominion spokesman Richard Zuercher. The NRC authorized Dominion to restart both reactors three months later.

“We are poised to obtain a license for the new unit. We have not decided to build the new unit, and won’t do so until after we obtain the COL,” said Mitchell.

“The energy markets change,” Zuercher added. “What might have made sense at one time, might not make sense now but may make sense again. It’s all a timing issue.”

Kentucky, a Key Coal State, Overturns Its Moratorium on Nuclear Energy

(RTO Insider) Kentucky has dropped its decades-long nuclear moratorium, but experts on both sides of the nuclear debate say the move probably won’t result in new reactors for now.

The law, signed by Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin on March 27, eliminates the requirement that nuclear power facilities have “means of permanent disposal” of nuclear waste, allowing a less onerous Nuclear Regulatory Commission-approved waste plan.

Sen. Danny Carroll (R), the bill’s sponsor, said it was important that Kentucky start looking to diversify its energy portfolio, pointing out that nearby states take advantage of nuclear energy. Carroll said the bill will “keep Kentucky competitive with the energy portfolios of surrounding states.”

“When you run a business, you look for varied funding streams. You don’t put all your eggs in one basket. … That’s what we’re doing in our state. Out of fear of nuclear energy, out of efforts to protect the coal industry, whatever the case may be, we are putting all our eggs in one basket,” Carroll said last year, when an earlier version of the bill languished after Senate approval. Kentucky does not house any nuclear generation.

Carroll has tried for years to promote the use of the Paducah, KY, site for development of a nuclear reactor. The site was originally used as a uranium enrichment plant by the WWII Manhattan Project.  One of his ideas is the use nuclear energy for coal gasification to produce fossil fuels and petrochemical feedstocks.

The bill also eliminates the requirements that cost of waste disposal be known and that the facility have “adequate capacity to contain waste.”

The bill grants the Kentucky Public Service Commission the authority to hire consultants “to perform duties relating to nuclear facility certification” and allows it to prohibit construction of low-level nuclear waste disposal sites in Kentucky. The PSC can also direct the Energy and Environment Cabinet to review the nuclear permitting process.

Jordan and Saudi Arabia team up on uranium, SMRs

(WNN) Jordan and Saudi Arabia have signed agreements on cooperation in uranium exploration and carrying out a feasibility study into the construction of two small modular reactors (SMRs) in Jordan.

The agreements were among 15 major investment and economic agreements signed in Amman on 27 March following a meeting between Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and King Abdullah II of Jordan.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was also signed by KA-CARE president Hashim Yamani and Khaled Touqan, head of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC). Under that MOU a feasibility study will be conducted on the construction of two small modular reactors in Jordan for the production of electricity and desalinated water.

Although Saudi Arabia’s nuclear program is in its infancy, the Kingdom has plans to construct 16 nuclear power reactors over the next 20 years. Little progress has been reported relative to the program for 1000 MW class reactors. However, multiple efforts are underway for small units.

In September 2015, contracts were signed between KA-CARE and the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) to support their cooperation in developing KAERI’s SMART (System-integrated Modular Advanced Reactor). This is a 330 MWt (100 MWe) pressurized water reactor with integral steam generators and advanced safety features.

Earlier this month, China and Saudi Arabia signed a cooperation agreement for a joint study on the feasibility of constructing high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGRs) in the Middle Eastern country.

In March 2015, Russia and Jordan signed an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the construction and operation of two 1000 MWe VVER units at Az-Zarqa in central Jordan. A feasibility on the construction of those units is expected to be completed within the next few months.

South Africa Is Looking Again At Abandoned Plans For PBMR, Says Eskom

(NucNet): South Africa’s state utility and nuclear operator Eskom has started looking again at plans abandoned in 2010 to develop a Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR), the company’s chief nuclear officer David Nicholls said. In an interview with EE Publishers, Mr Nicholls said Eskom is looking at whether there is a market for ultra-safe, small, nuclear reactors for power generation, using high-temperature technology.

He said Eskom had started looking at the PBMR again with “a clean sheet” and is carrying out a paper study “with limited research funding going into it.”

The PBMR was fundamentally designed in South Africa in the 1990s, based on German technology that was demonstrated in the 1970s and 80s. Mr Nicholls said the new work has been looking at what has changed since then, and how the PBMR design can be changed to take advantage of this. 

“Probably the best example is 3D printing. We can now consider 3D printing the ceramic materials, which would have been unthinkable 20 years ago. We are also considering the use of concrete pressure vessels instead of steel, which could reduce the price significantly.”

HOLTEC Files License Application with NRC for Interim Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel

(WNN) The NRC is expected to receive Holtec’s application submittal which comprises a complete package of documents, including the Safety Analysis Report and the Environmental report on the HI-STORE CIS.

HI-STORE CIS is the name of Holtec’s self-funded consolidated interim storage facility, which is being hosted by a coalition of counties and cities incorporated as ELEA, LLC in southeastern New Mexico.

Holtec thanked the NRC for conducting a pre-submittal technical audit in late February at its Technology Campus in Camden, NJ, which helped fine tune the content of the licensing package to accord with the NRC’s expectations.

The regulatory application was for a capacity of 10,000 canisters. Holtec’s Hi-Store Consolidated Interim Storage facility could store used fuel from any US nuclear power plant.

The application describes a 1,000-acre site near Hobbs, NM. It is a remote, geologically stable, dry location with existing infrastructure, including rail, and a pre-existing and robust scientific and nuclear operations workforce.

A similar facility is being developed just on the other side of the New Mexico / Texas border by Areva and Waste Control Specialists. The site, located near Andrews, TX, is already home to a low level radioactive waste facility. The consortium developing the spent fuel facility in Texas. It filed its license application in April 2016.

Japanese High Court Lifts Ban On Restart Of Takahama 3 And 4

(NucNet) The Osaka High Court has lifted an injunction against the restarts of the Takahama 3 and 4 reactor units (KANSAI) in Fukui Prefecture, southwest Japan, the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (Jaif) said in a statement.

In March 2016, the regional Otsu District Court issued an injunction to halt operations at Takahama 3 and 4 in response to a request by anti-nuclear groups who said there were doubts about the station’s seismic standards and about new regulatory standards brought in following Fukushima-Daiichi.

In July 2016, Kepco filed an appeal to the Osaka High Court seeking to allow it to restart Takahama 3 and 4. According to Jaif, in its appeal Kepco argued that its seismic data was based on results of precise geological investigations and that important facilities had sufficient seismic safety margins, with municipal evacuation plans being “effective and reasonable” and based on experiences from the Fukushima accident. Takahama 3 and 4 are both 830-MW pressurised water reactors which began commercial operation in 1985.

Japan’s Regulator Postpones Decommissioning Approval For Five Reactors

(NucNet): Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has postponed its approval of decommissioning plans for five nuclear reactors because of a “lack of clarity” in some sections of a report drawn up by the regulator’s own secretariat, industry group the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (Jaif) said on March 30, 2017.

Decommissioning work can only begin once the NRA approves the plans. The work includes tasks such as removing fuel from spent nuclear fuel pools and dismantling main reactor units and peripheral equipment. 

The five units are Mihama-1 and -2, Tsuruga-1, Shimane-1 and Genkai-1. Decisions to decommission the units were taken in March 2015 for reasons of “economic inefficiency,” Jaif said.

All five units have been in commercial operation for more than 40 years. Jaif also said the NRA is evaluating a plan by Shikoku Electric Power Company to decommission Ikata-1. The power company decided in March 2015 to permanently shut down the reactor.

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Vogtle and VC Summer at Risk as Westinghouse Files for Bankruptcy

  • bustThe firm filed for Chapter 11 protection and secured an $800 million bridge loan to fund operations
  • Southern’s CEO is furious saying firm’s parent, Toshiba, is not talking to its most important customers
  • Scana’s CEO will decide whether to abandon V C Summer in whole or part
  • UK Approves AP1000 reactor design for Moorside project

Westinghouse Electric Company, LLC has filed voluntary petitions under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The Company is seeking to a “strategic restructuring” as a result of overwhelming financial and construction challenges in its U.S. AP1000 power plant projects in Georgia and South Carolina.  Just recently the firm engaged in a realignment of its top executives in anticipation of the Chapter 11 action.

Westinghouse has obtained $800 million in debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing from a third-party lender to help fund and protect its core businesses during its reorganization. The bankruptcy court said, in approving the loan, that it would monitor expenditures to insure that none of the funds are diverted to other Toshiba business units. The Chapter 11 filings took place in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York in New York City.

Toshiba’s self-inflicted troubles, caused by cooking the books, over stating earnings by $1.6 billion, and mismanagement of its major acquisitions in the US nuclear sector, have impacted projects in the U.S., the U.K., and India. The firm said it would exit the nuclear business worldwide. See this “”Reuters Factbox” for a deep dive into the details of the pending reorganization of Westinghouse.

Westinghouse said operations in its Asia and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Regions are not impacted by the Chapter 11 filings.

This statement was greeted by deep skepticism in the UK where the Moorside project, expected to involve construction of three AP1000 reactors, was to be funded by a 60% equity stake by Toshiba. That commitment has now gone up in smoke. In its place the project’s backers are calling for the UK government itself to fund it.

Meanwhile, in India the government of PM Narendra Modi issued a series of statements saying that it is continuing “negotiations” with Westinghouse for construction of six AP1000s at a coastal site in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. The power station was moved there after opposition in Modi’s home state of Gujarat forced him to abandon that site.

The viability of the project has never been particularly firm since there has been little progress on either the financing nor the lifting of the conditions of the draconian supplier liability law. Toshiba’s global financial collapse will do nothing to advance plans for the India project.

Separately, Westinghouse says it remains committed to its existing projects in China which are unaffected by the US bankruptcy court filing. Four reactors there are nearing completion with more planned though Westinghouse is expected to shift be a supplier of components rather than function as both a vendor and EPC manager for the projects.

Back in the U.S. Westinghouse executive issued the usual platitudes aimed at Wall Street about their drastic action.

“Today, we have taken action to put Westinghouse on a path to resolve our AP1000 financial challenges while protecting our core businesses,” said Interim President & CEO José Emeterio Gutiérrez.

“We are focused on developing a plan of reorganization to emerge from Chapter 11 as a stronger company while continuing to be a global nuclear technology leader.”

He added that the DIP financing will fund Westinghouse’s core businesses of supporting operating plants, nuclear fuel and components manufacturing and engineering as well as decommissioning, decontamination, remediation and waste management.

The company said has reached an agreement with each owner of the U.S. AP1000 projects to continue these projects during an initial assessment period of 30 days. The implied commitment of continued work beyond the next 30 days is not supported by the actions and statements of the CEO’s of the two lead US utilities involved in the projects.

The CEO’s of the Vogtle and V C Summer projects expressed strong skepticism about these statements. Southern’s CEO flew to Japan to confront Toshiba’s management about their business strategy. Scana’s CEO said the firm was evaluating “all options” which include abandoning one or both reactor projects.

The public utility commissions in Georgia and South Carolina are sure to face angry rate payers who have forked over several billion dollars so far and are now facing the prospects that the reactors may never being finished.

A Major Blow to the Nuclear Industry

The Washington Post reported March 28 that the bankruptcy filing “is a blow to the nuclear power industry.”  Along with just about everyone else following the story,  the newspaper asked whether the projects in Georgia and South Carolina would be completed and whether there would ever be a new, full scale reactor construction start in the U.S.

The Post pointed out that the bankruptcy filing will trigger a tsunami of legal questions  over whether Toshiba will accept responsibility for cost overruns at Westinghouse and if so how much. The number one question is whether the utilities that own the reactors under construction will have to cover most of the increased costs of completing them. That could mean higher rates for consumers in those areas.

Given that Toshiba has missed three deadlines to file statements about its financial conditions, the question that hangs in the air with the heaviness of a pending summer thunderstorm is whether Toshiba is still a “going concern” or whether it is is out of cash. There are no indications the Japanese government plans to intervene in the ongoing financial crisis.

In seeking protection under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy act, Westinghouse could still finish building those plants. The EPC firms working for Westinghouse might wind up having the utilities themselves as their customers.

Southern Co. subsidiary Georgia Power, one of the co-owners of the Vogtle reactors, told the Post that it has been preparing for a Westinghouse bankruptcy and that it was “working with Westinghouse to maintain momentum at the site.”

It said it is still assessing the impact of the bankruptcy and will consult with the Georgia Public Service Commission and its partners “to determine the best path forward.” It added that it would seek to hold Toshiba and Westinghouse accountable.

In a harshly worded editorial, which will surely be read by members of congress, the Post called the filing, “a bankruptcy that’s bad news for climate policy.”

The paper added, “If the United States lacks a robust nuclear industry, it may be less capable of influencing international policy on issues ranging from reactor safety to weapons proliferation. Maintaining a solvent, innovative nuclear industry would serve national security as well as the environment.”

Southern CEO Flies to Tokyo to Look Toshiba CEO in the Eye

According to the Bloomberg wire service, the head of U.S. utility-owner Southern Co. says he flew to Tokyo for one primary reason: “To look the CEO of Toshiba in the eye” and remind him of the company’s “moral commitment” to getting a nuclear project in Georgia done. Note that moral commitments are not usually upheld in bankruptcy courts. What CEO Fanning is really saying is that as he sees it Toshiba’s failure could affect bilateral relations between Japan and the US.

In a Bloomberg Television interview, Southern CEO Thomas Fanning said he needed to meet Toshiba Corp. CEO Satoshi Tsunakawa “business person-to-business person” to hammer out a plan on getting two nuclear reactors finished at its Vogtle plant after years of delays and billions in cost overruns. Both Vogtle units are scheduled to be complete by 2020, but that date is subject to change based on how Toshiba handles the Westinghouse bankruptcy.

Scana Chief Executive Officer Kevin Marsh told investors in a call that the company would continue with the construction of its own two reactors at the V.C. Summer plant in South Carolina while considering all options.

Bloomberg reported that Ashar Khan of Visium Asset Management LP asked why it wouldn’t make sense for Scana to just abandon the project? Marsh called it the “least preferred option.”

Walking away from the V.C. Summer project would mean failing to meet the commitment Scana made to state regulators “to provide for the needs of South Carolina for the next 60 years,” Marsh said. “So we’ve got to do the evaluation” of all options, he said.

Stan Wise, chairman of Georgia’s public service commission, told the Bloomberg wire service that the agency is still “most interested” in seeing the reactors completed and believes Southern has “appropriate levels of parental guarantees” from Toshiba to finish them.

Scana to Evaluate Summer options

(WNN) Scana Corporation is considering whether to complete or abandon one or both of the Summer AP1000 units. Two of those units – Summer 2 and 3 – are being built for Scana subsidiary South Carolina Electricity and Gas (SCE&G) and co-owner Santee Cooper.

Marsh said Westinghouse had provided Scana with an estimate of the additional cost of completing the project, beyond that already provided under existing agreements. He said Scana would review the estimate, but that it expects resources from Westinghouse and Toshiba – including a so-called parental guarantee from Toshiba – to be adequate to compensate Scana for the additional costs.

Marsh said the company must evaluate all the options open to it before arriving at a decision as to whether to continue or abandon one or both reactor projects. He said his preferred option would be to complete the project.

“We are building these plants because we needed generation for our service territory. We were looking for a long-term clean energy solution, which these plants provide … If we just cancel these plants we still have a generation issue we need to face,” he said.

“Our commitment is still to try to finish these plants – that would be my preferred option before going through the evaluation. The least preferred option, realistically, is abandonment,” he said.

Marsh confirmed that Scana worked with Southern on the interim agreement, and that the companies were communicating with each other with the consent of Westinghouse and Tohsiba. He said both companies had an interest in completing their projects, but noted that the contracts for the projects are different.

Westinghouse Achieves U.K. Regulatory Confirmation of AP1000® Plant Design

Westinghouse Electric Company announced this week that its AP1000 nuclear power plant design has successfully completed review by regulators in the United Kingdom, who concluded their Generic Design Assessment (GDA) by issuing Design Acceptance Confirmation (DAC) and Statement of Design Acceptability (SoDA) for the Westinghouse technology. The DAC and SoDA were issued by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the Environment Agency (EA), respectively.

The successful completion of this rigorous review by the ONR and the EA has been costly and many years in the making. Over the years the ONR has sent Westinghouse back to square one in the process over what it said was inadequate documentation and level of detail in its submission. Since then, Westinghouse has provided detailed technical information to address and resolve regulators’ questions.

This time the decision by ONR represents a major milestone related to the Moorside Project,” said José Emeterio Gutiérrez, interim president and chief executive officer.

The Moorside Project, developed by NuGeneration Ltd., is planed to consist of three AP1000 units at West Cumbria in North West England. The project is designed to help secure the U.K.’s future energy supply by delivering affordable, low-carbon electricity as part of a balanced energy mix.

The three units planned at Moorside would benefit from Westinghouse’s experience on the world’s first eight AP1000 units, which are currently being delivered at four sites in the United States and China. Two units each are in the final stages of completion at the Sanmen and Haiyang sites in China, with an additional two units each under construction at the V.C. Summer and Vogtle sites in the U.S.

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