UK to Invest $700M in SMRs as Part of 10 Point Plan

  • Boris Johnson’s 10 Point Plan is Missing a Few Points
  • Idaho Site Selected for DOE Virtual Test Reactor
  • Bipartisan Legislation Offered To Revitalize Nuclear Energy Industry
  • Danish Nuclear Lands $24 million for First Asian Reactor
  • Czech PM Signals Delay in $7 Billion Nuclear Reactor Project

UK to Invest $700M in SMRs as Part of 10 Point Plan

small-reactors_thumb.jpgUK PM Boris Johnson is seeking to create a “green industrial revolution.” While it represents a start, it will also be seen as an effort that falls far short of the financial commitment needed for success to keep the lights on in the next decade.

His ten point plan, which contains promises of up to £12 billion of government investment, has four small parts for nuclear energy. The vast bulk of the promised spending for the total package is expected to come from as yet uncommitted industry agreements. Of that amount, just £300 million in industry marched funding will be allocated for small modular reactors (SMRs.)  [UKGov’t source documents]

The ten points include: offshore wind; hydrogen; nuclear; electric vehicles; public transport; ‘Jet Zero’ and greener maritime; homes and public buildings; carbon capture; nature; innovation and finance.

While these are all reasonable areas for future “green” investments to decarbonize the economy, the UK is facing a long-term and significant crisis in terms of electricity generation capacity.

Of 17.5 GWe of nuclear power planned to replace the country’s aging nuclear fleet, almost all of which is expected to be in D&D status by 2028, only one-third of the new capacity is actually launched as live projects. The other two-thirds represent either failed or conflicted efforts to come off the drawing boards.

Another issue is that further extraction of North Sea oil and gas has been hampered by record low prices caused by the economic effects of the COVID19 pandemic. Some estimates are that as much as one-third of the remaining fossil fuel reserves may never come out of the ground unless or until oil prices return to levels prior to the onset of the COIVID19 virus crisis.

Status of the UK Nuclear New Build

At $5 billion a GWe, the UK has yet to figure out how to fund roughly 11 GWe or, at $5K/Kw, a minimum of $55 billion in new nuclear electric generation capacity.  If the costs come in at closer to $6.5K/Kw, the unfunded financial outlook for nuclear reactor construction costs rise to almost $72 billion.  Every year of delay adds more uncertainty for supply chains, and having available skilled workers to build the projects, along with the eventual effects on the price of electricity charged to consumers.

The British PM clearly has other budget priorities on his mind with a recent announcement of a proposed $22 billion increase in defense spending.  The increase in defense spending, if applied to the nuclear new build, would cover the cost of either the Wylfa or Oldbury projects. That said, here is a blow-by-blow status report of the sad shape of the UK nuclear new build.

> Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C, representing 6.4 GWe of electrical power, are expected to be completed in the late 2020s and early 2030s, respectively, depending on the scope of schedule delays and resulting cost overruns that are predicted for these projects. They represent 36% of the UK’s planned new build.

> The Wylfa and Oldbury projects, 2.7 Gwe each, were unceremoniously ditched by Japan’s Hitachi earlier this year due to the inability of Johnson’s government to commit to an equity position in the projects, and failure to execute a program of “pay as you go” financing under the much discussed RAB finance mechanism.  Also, Johnson’s government low balled the rate guarantee or “strike price” offered to Hitachi for Wylfa compared to what it offered EDF at Hinkley Point C by nearly £20/KwH. An added complication, cited by Hitachi, is the looming BREXIT deadline for the UK’s departure from the European Union.

A consortium of Westinghouse, Bechtel, and other firms is reported to be in talks with the government to take over the Wylfa project. Unless Johnson’s government has a major change of policy, and opens its checkbook to significant equity financing and competitive rate guarantees, the plans for new reactors at Wylfa and Oldbury will remain in limbo.

Adherence to a fantasy policy that the risk of financing nuclear energy projects can be carried by the private sector could create a future for the UK characterize by rolling brown outs not unlike what has happened to Eskom in South Africa with the resulting impacts on the country’s economy and employment.

> The Moorside project, at 3.3 Gwe, was to be a crown jewel for Westinghouse after building and commissioning four 1150 MWe AP1000s in China. However, the financially catastrophic cancelation of the V C Summer project in South Carolina, combined with the withdrawal of Toshiba, which owned Westinghouse at the time, from the nuclear industry shattered hopes for progress on this project.

Westinghouse was forced into a painful bankruptcy that caused it to withdraw from Moorside even though it had invested in the long and costly UK generic design assessment to allow its AP1000 reactors to be built in the UK. Westinghouse was purchased by a Canadian private equity fund, but there has been no public indication the firm, with its new owner, wants to take a second bite at the Moorside apple.

> The Bradwell site, which could be either 2.0 or 3.0 GWe, was offered by the UK to Chinese state-owned enterprises to be built using a Chinese indigenous design in return for China’s equity investments in Hinkley Point C (33%) and Sizewell C (20%).

Relations between China and the UK have been testy of late due to PM Johnson’s ejection seat politics regarding a Chinese telecommunications firm that wanted to bid on the UK 5G wireless network. UK and other western firms convinced Johnson to boot the firm off the tender over allegations of “security issues.”

For its part, the Chinese firms desperately want the chance to build their domestic design of a 1000 MW PWR, known as the Hualong One [IAEA Profile], in a western nation and the UK is still their best shot at doing do.

hualong one profile

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

The reactor has reached stage 4 of the UK Generic Design Assessment and is on its way, from a regulatory perspective, to be ready to be built at the Bradwell site.

China is unlikely to quit the UK nuclear build over the telecommunications contract snub, but it has put up a noisy front through diplomatic channels about it annoyance over the issue.

Overall, the UK has a long way to go in terms of investment in nuclear energy before it can credibly claim to be driving a “green revolution” in that country.

UK Treasury Advocates for Investments in Nuclear Energy

prudent-investor_thumb.pngIn a late breaking development November 25th, World Nuclear News reported that the UK Treasury said it is important to unlock government financing for large-scale nuclear projects in addition to Hinkley Point C (HPC) if the country is to meet its net-zero by 2050 target.

This assessment rejects the advice of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) two years ago that the government should not agree support for more than one nuclear power station beyond HPC, before 2025. Until this change, PM Johnson had been adhering to the NIC line which matched the fiscal conservatism of his ruling party in Parliament.

In the policy paper, the ministry said, “Nuclear is a proven, value-for-money source of reliable low carbon power which can complement renewables. The government is pursuing large-scale nuclear projects, subject to clear value for money for both consumers and taxpayers and all relevant approvals, with further details to follow in the Energy White Paper.”

“Last year, the government consulted on a nuclear Regulated Asset Base (RAB). Alongside considering the RAB model, the government will also continue to consider the potential role of government [equity] finance during construction.”

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the UK’s Nuclear Industry Association, UK’s Nuclear Industry Association commented on the Treasury’s assessment of new nuclear.

“It is right that the UK government have rejected [NIC Chairman] John Armitt’s group in clear and stark terms – nuclear alongside other low-carbon technologies will be required to decarbonize, and it was never a sound position to suggest otherwise. The focus now must be on delivering the infrastructure required to meet net zero – and avoiding wasting further time, effort and attention in seeking to pit low carbon technologies against each other.”

The Treasury paper said that it expected the government “to move forward with a “response for financing new nuclear in due course.”

Funding for Small Modular and Advanced Reactors

According to the UK 10 point plan, the scope of investment in nuclear energy includes specific line items for small modular reactors (SMRs):

  • About £385 million in an Advanced Nuclear Fund, which includes £215 million for small modular reactor early development work through the UK SMR consortium.
  • About £170 million for an R&D program on advanced modular reactors (technologies to be determined) with an objective of having a first of a kind demonstration unit by the early 2030s. The cost of the demonstration reactor would likely be at least 10 times this initial level of funding.
  • The plan has an additional £40 million to develop the regulatory frameworks and support spinning up the UK supply chains for new reactor designs.

Starting next year the UK SMR Consortium is pinning its hopes on the Rolls-Royce 440MW PWR. Tom Samson, interim CEO for the UK SMR consortium, said in a press statement that he welcomed the government’s funding.

The consortium will raise, initially, about £300 million in new capital to deliver a fully-engineered solution with regulatory approval. The consortium of Assystem, Atkins, BAM Nuttall, Jacobs, Laing O’Rourke, National Nuclear Laboratory, Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.

Rolls-Royce and TWI are developing a 440MW factory-built SMR. The consortium’s ambition is to deliver a fleet of 16 reactors across multiple sites in the UK.  At $5K/Kw, the 7 GWe of electrical power associated with the planned build out would cost a minimum of $35 billion, or ten times the initial equivalent of Series A investment, over a decade or longer time frame.

Other UK Small Modular Reactors

The following SMR developers have expressed interest in UK development. Some of them are also pursuing opportunities in the UK, Canada, and the US.  Briefly, this is what is known about their proposals.

  • Westinghouse is developing a 225MWe PWR based on technologies  in its AP1000 design.  In 2014 the firm abandoned a similar effort citing the lack of market opportunities. An alliance with Ameren,  US nuclear utility in Missouri, ended when the utility over reached lobbying the state legislature to change state law to allow ratepayers to cover the costs of construction on a “pay as you go” basis. In 2015 it restarted efforts with an eye on offering its SMR to Poland to replace coal fired power plants.
  • NuScale Power is developing a 50MWe PWR designed to be deployed in clusters of up to 12 per site. It has also announced planned power upgrades to the design, but has not yet submitted these plans to the NRC for safety design review. In the US NuScale and its customer UAMPS have been  busy firming up commitments by ratepayers and holding the line on the expected costs of electricity to be generated by the first 12-unit plant to be built in Idaho. A target  price of $55/MWh has been aired by UAMPS.
  • Urenco is leading development of an ultra-small design called U-Battery. Based on pebble bed technology, each reactor will produce just 4MWe plus 10MWt. Target markets include back-up power, desalination plants and smart cities.
  • China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) is also adapting Westinghouse AP1000 technology for its ACP100 SMR, with an output of 100MWe plus 310MW thermal power which can be used in district heating schemes. CNNC started a demonstration site in 2019 for district hearing using the two AP1000 units at the Haiyang site in Fujian province.
  • Moltex Energy, a privately-held UK company, is developing a 150MWe stable salt reactor, designed for modular deployment in clusters of up to 10 units per site. Moltex is involved in a “bake off” in New Brunswick province in Canada to test the economic and technical viability of its design.
  • GF Nuclear is an independent power generation company which aims to develop the South Korean 100MWe Smart reactor in the UK. GF Nuclear says it will localize some elements of the supply chain in the UK though this plan may come in for stiff resistance from South Korean heavy industries. South Korea has a credible shot at selling the 100 MW SMART SMR to Saudi Arabia once oil prices recover if and when the COVID19 virus crisis abates.

As things stand now the SMR end of the UK nuclear new build has a clear opportunity to mature into funded projects, but there are a lot of “ifs,” and the biggest one remains the question of whether and how the UK government will lend it a hand.

Idaho Site Selected for DOE’s Virtual Test Reactor

The Department of Energy says that the Idaho National Laboratory is its preferred choice for a new advanced virtual test reactor (VTR). The project, which is expected to cost between $3-6 billion, has been sought by several DOE labs including Oak Ridge and Argonne. The confirmation of the designation came only after the Associated Press called the agency for clarity about it.

The U.S. Department of Energy said the site at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) will be listed as its preferred alternative in a draft environmental impact statement planned for release in December. The final environmental impact statement (FEIS) is due in 2021, followed by a record of decision to select the site.  The actual physical site at the Idaho lab for the VTR has not been officially selected, and won’t be until after the FEIS is done. A reasonable guess is for a site located near the current Advanced Test Reactor.

inl_map_facility_home_thumb

If built, the VTR will become the long sought “anchor facility” for INL that will serve as a nexus for nuclear R&D funding at the INL for decades to come.

According to DOE the Versatile Test Reactor, or VTR, would give the US a dedicated “fast-neutron-spectrum” testing capability. Russia is building a similar R&D capability and a global race is on between the US and Russia to signup other nations to test their advanced designs. DOE has an aggressive schedule, subject to congressional funding, to complete the VTR by 2025.

“The Versatile Test Reactor continues to be a high-priority project for DOE to ensure nuclear energy plays a role in our country’s energy portfolio,” Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette said.

advanced nukes

DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy established the VTR program in 2018 in response to (NEICA), which called for a reactor-based fast neutron source to be in place in the mid-2020s.

nric logoThe VTR will be operated by the National Reactor Testing Center.  Its mission is to accelerate the demonstration and deployment of advanced nuclear energy, to empower innovators, and deliver successful outcomes.

NRIC is is a national Department of Energy program led by Idaho National Laboratory, allowing collaborators to harness the world-class capabilities of the U.S. National Laboratory System. NRIC is committed to demonstrating advanced reactors by the end of 2025.

Senators Introduce Bipartisan Legislation To Revitalize Nuclear Energy Industry

(NucNet) Four senators have introduced bipartisan legislation to revitalize the US’s nuclear infrastructure in a move they say will enable leadership in the industry, preserve the nuclear fuel supply chain, reduce carbon emissions and strengthen the country’s economic, energy and national security.

doe logoThe bipartisan legislation, the American Nuclear Infrastructure Act of 2020, was introduced by the Republican John Barrasso (R-WY), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Cory Booker (D-NJ).

Barrasso said the legislation will strengthen US energy and national security.

“In the face of Russian and Chinese aggression, it’s critical we remain the world’s leading developer of nuclear energy technology.”

The bill supports the continued operation of the US’s existing reactors and sets the stage to deploy advanced nuclear technologies. It will also ensure that the fuel for nuclear plants comes from the US or its “trusted allies.”

Sen. Barrasso said Russia has flooded the global uranium market with cheap nuclear fuel. This costs jobs in the state he represents, Wyoming, and undercuts domestic producers. Wyoming has significant uranium deposits, but the mines there have been suffering from the low price of yellowcake.

According to a summary of the proposed legislation from Barrasso’s office, the bill would require the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to review the permitting process for nuclear reactors, create new incentives for developing certain types of reactor projects and keep reactors that might otherwise shut down open as part of a “carbon emissions avoidance program.”

It would bar the import of nuclear fuel from Russia or China. Separately, it would let  Japanese or South Korean firms, or those from NATO countries, to obtain a license for a nuclear facility in the United States if the NRC approves one.

It would create a national strategic uranium reserve and require the NRC and U.S. Department of Energy to work on the development of high-assay low-enriched (HALEU) uranium, which is expected to be used in small advanced reactors.

The legislation would make the permitting process for advanced nuclear designs more predictable and efficient and incentivize the deployment of next generation reactor technologies.

On existing nuclear plants, the legislation authorizes a credit program to preserve nuclear reactors that could prematurely shut down.

The civilian nuclear energy industry has long argued that nuclear energy’s contribution to energy security and grid stability should be rewarded. The Washington-based Nuclear Energy Institute has said nuclear energy’s attributes, including resiliency and reliability, are not being fairly valued in the market.

Six commercial nuclear plants have shut down in the US since 2013 and 12 more are scheduled to retire within seven years.

The American Nuclear Society (ANS) said in a press statement that it supports the bill.

“Taken together, we believe this legislation would provide an expanded set of policy tools for ushering in a new generation of advanced reactors needed for deep decarbonization in the U.S. and around the world.”

ANS noted the provisions empowering the NRC to incentivize the commercial use of new reactor designs and the development of advanced nuclear fuels, lead international forums to develop regulations on advanced reactor designs, reduce “unnecessary regulatory barriers” and “establish a more predictable and efficient permitting process.”

NEI Calls for Reprocessing of Spent Nuclear Fuel

Reuters reported that the the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) is now advocating that reprocessing of nuclear waste could the problem of spent fuel which is now sitting at the nations reactors.

The statement comes more than a year after the Department of Energy (DOE) shut down the construction of a spent fuel reprocessing plant in South Carolina that was to produce mixed oxide fule (MOX) (U238/U235/PU239) for use in commercial reactors. DOE took the action after a string of delays and cost overruns that raised doubts whether the plant would ever be completed.

“Reprocessing is a very interesting part of the solution set,” Maria Korsnick, the head of the Nuclear Energy Institute, said during an interview with Reuters. She said the technology “would be really closing the fuel cycle in a very useful way” because it squeezes more energy from the waste that cannot be used when it is disposed permanently.

Efforts are underway to develop two interim spent fuel storage sites, one in Texas and the other in New Mexico. The governors of both states are wary of these plans because they fear the sites will become, de facto, permanent storage sites.

On reprocessing, France has demonstrated it can be done safely, Korsnick said. “These are all conversations that we would have to step through as we design our final solution,” she said. “I’m confident that we have the technological expertise to do this well.”

Danish Nuclear Startup Lands $24 Million for First Asian Reactor

The firm Seaborg Technology AS, a Danish company, is planning to manufacture small modular reactors. It reportedly has raised about 20 million euros ($24 million) to bring a floating nuclear-power station to southeast Asia.

Last year, Russia floated a two small reactors on a barge to power remote Arctic sites. Seaborg raised the money to update the concept for parts of southeast Asia that are currently relying on fossil fuels for power and where renewables aren’t yet an option.

Seaborg envisions building its molten-salt reactors in South Korean shipyards after developing the technology in Denmark in a bid to keep costs down. Completed barges will then be towed to where they’re needed. The plan is to connect the first unit to a grid by 2025.

seaborg product pipeline

“We will provide a significantly cheaper alternative to coal in regions with no access to renewable energy,” said Troels Schonfeldt, chief executive officer of Seaborg. Applications include taking advantage of process heat from the reactor in addition to its role to provide electricity.

Each barge can be outfitted with 200MWe units and as many as three at a time. The money, raised from mostly private investors including fashion billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen, will be used to hire about 50 people and build a state of the art laboratory, Schonfeldt said.

Czech PM Signals Delay in $7 Billion Nuclear Reactor Project

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has all but pulled the plug, again, on the country’s efforts to build new nuclear reactors at the Dukovany site. He said the country isn’t yet ready to start a tender for a new nuclear reactor.

czech-powerLast July state-controlled CEZ and the government signed a contract providing price guarantees and financial help in the form of equity investment. A tender was due by the end of this year.

Babis sited problems with getting approval from the EU, due to opposition from Austria, and political problems associated with an upcoming election.

The plan had been that CEZ should pick vendor and EPC by the end of 2022 and the construction should by complete in about six to eight years. The tender was to have included a provision that CEZ would have the the right to pull out of the project give it back to the government if the vendor ran into trouble building the reactor.

CEZ estimated the planned 1,200 MW unit would cost about 6 billion euros ($7.1 billion) in today’s prices, more than a half of its market capitalization. In short, it is a ‘bet the company’ project which made its director nervous.

The Bloomberg wire service reported that postponing the government’s decision until after the parliamentary elections next fall could push back the rest of the timetable, according to Martin Cakl, an analyst at brokerage Patria Finance AS in Prague.

“It’s hard to say whether a possible delay would be positive or negative for CEZ shares,” Cakl said. “Overall, investors find the project troubling.”

This would be the second time CEZ pulled the rug out from under a tender for new nuclear power. In 2014 the utility first downsized an ambitious $25 billion plan for new reactors at Dulovany and Temelin, and then cancelled a downsized tender that kicked France’s Areva out of the running leaving Rosatom and Westinghouse to learn they were just wasting their time.

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Dan’s Idaho Nuclear Chili Recipe

This is a Thanksgiving tradition now published for the 14th year in a row here and  previously at my former blog Idaho Samizdat (2007-2012)

PotChili1In the spirit of Thanksgiving, and wanting to take a break from reading, thinking, and writing about nuclear energy, I’m offering my tried and true, and now “world famous” cooking instructions for something completely different.

By Sunday night you will be stuffed, fed up, literally, and figuratively, with turkey. Instead of food fit for pilgrims, try food invented to be eaten in the wide open west — chili.

Cook this dish on Saturday. Eat it on Sunday. Take it to work for lunch on Monday. 

colored-hot-peppers-300x199These instructions take about an hour to complete. This chili has a few more vegetables and beans than some people might like, but we’re all trying to eat healthy these days. Although the name of this dish has the word “nuclear” in it, it isn’t all that hot on the Scoville scale. If you want some other choices for nuclear chili there are lots of recipes on Google

six pack of beerThe beer adds sweetness to the vegetables, as does the brandy, and is a good broth for cooking generally. In terms of the beer, which is an essential ingredient, you’ll still have five cans or bottles left to share with friends so there’s always that.

Remember, good chili requires good beer. Do not cook with “light” beer. It’s a very bad idea! Your dinner guests will not forgive you. 😦

I recommend dark beers or amber ales such as Negra Modelo or Anchor Steam for drinking with this dish and Budweiser or any American pilsner for cooking it. Other choices for drinking include local western favorites such as Moose Drool or Black Butte Porter, and regional amber ales like Alaskan Amber or Fat Tire.

The men and women running the reactors couldn’t drink beer, but they did have coffee. It’s still that way today.

History and Culture Behind the Cooking Instructions

Scoville, Idaho, is the destination for Union Pacific rail freight for the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) way out on the Arco desert. The line comes up from Blackfoot, ID, using the UP spur that connects the UP main line in Pocatello with Idaho Falls, and, eventually, to Butte, MT.

inl.map

There is no town by the name of “Scoville,” but legend has it that way back in the 1950s & 60s, when the Idaho National Laboratory was called the National Reactor Testing Station, back shift workers on cold winter nights relished the lure of hot chili hence the use of the use of the name ‘Scoville” for shipping information.

spent-fuel-train-idaho

Another thing about the name “Scoville” is that during this era the ‘Cold War’ with Russia was in high gear so anything involving the transport of nuclear materials, like spent fuel from U.S. Navy ships and submarines, got an operational security cover name.

The Arco desert west of Idaho Falls is both desolate and beautiful. In winter overnight temperatures on the Arco desert can plunge to -20F or more.  Bus riders on their way to work in the early morning hours have sometimes been astonished to see the aurora borealis full of streaming electrons in the skies overhead of the sagebrush landscape.

arco-desert

On a clear winter morning, before the sun rises, as the bus heads toward the site in its 45 minute trip west on US 20, and reaches the top of the rise to Signal Hill, a rider can see the lights of facilities of the Idaho lab strung out across the desert like a sting of pearls, or, like cities on the earth as seen from the International Space Station.

Some workers have a shorter trip than bouncing over Highway 20 from Idaho Falls. Their “commute” is from the small town of Arco which has a fabled history in the development of atomic energy. Electricity was generated for the first time by a nuclear reactor on December 20, 1951, at the EBR-I experimental station near Arco, Idaho, which initially produced about 100 kW.

First-City-Atomic-Power

The Idaho National Laboratory is located about 45 miles west of Idaho Falls, ID 43.3N;112.1W more or less.  Note to readers:  I worked at the Idaho National Laboratory for 20 years on the Arco desert, aka “the site,” and in town. I developed this recipe there and am pleased to share it with readers.

Why is ‘2nd day’ in the Name?

This is “2nd day chili.” That means after you make it, put it in the unheated garage or a refrigerator to cool, and then reheat it on the stove top the next day.  Do not microwave it.  That action will turn the beans to mush.

By waiting a day the flavors will have had time to mix with the ingredients, and on a cold Idaho night what you need that warms the body and the soul is a bowl of this hot chili with fresh, hot from the oven cornbread on the side.

Dan’s 2nd day Idaho Nuclear Chili

If you make a double portion, you can serve it for dinner over a hot Idaho baked potato with salad. Add shredded sharp cheddar cheese over it,  and have something cold and sweet for dessert. Enjoy.

Ingredients  for spices kick it up a notch or tone it down to taste )

1 lb chopped or ground beef (15-20% fat)
large yellow onion
1 sweet red, orange or yellow pepper
1 sweet green pepper
10-12 medium size mushrooms, chopped into small pieces
1 can pinto beans (plain, no “chili sauce”), drained
1 can black beans, drained
1 can chopped tomatoes, drained
1 can small, white ‘shoepeg” corn, drained
1 12 oz can beer
1 cup hot beef broth, instant is ok
1 tablespoon cooking sherry, brandy; or, bourbon
2 tablespoons finely chopped medium heat jalapeno peppers
2-4 tablespoons red chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coarse powdered garlic
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cilantro

Directions

1. Chop the vegetables into small pieces and brown them at medium heat in canola cooking oil. Add 1 tablespoon of cooking sherry, brandy, etc., to the vegetables near the end. Drain thoroughly. Sprinkle chili powder, salt, pepper, spices, etc., to taste on vegetables while they are cooking. The onions should be more or less translucent to be fully cooked. Don’t let them burn. Put the mushrooms in last as they cook fast.  Drain the vegetables and put them into the pot with beer and beef broth.
2. Brown the meat separately and drain the fat. Also sprinkle chili power and the cumin on the meat while cooking.
3. Combine all the ingredients in a large pot. Reminder – be sure to drain the beans, and tomatoes before adding. Simmer slowly on low heat for at least one-to-two hours Stir occasionally.
4. Set aside and refrigerate when cool. If the pot doesn’t fit in the frig, and the garage is unheated in winter, put it out here to cool off.
5. Reheat the next day. Garnish with shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Serve with cornbread and beer.
6. Feeds 2-4 adults.

inl_bus

Idaho bus drivers say “eat more chili.”  Enjoy.

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Rolls-Royce Enlists Exelon to Help Deploy 16 440MW PWR

  • Rolls Royce Inks MOU with Excelon for 440MW Reactors in UK
  • Rolls-Royce Signs New Build Nuclear Energy MOU with CEZ
  • NuScale Bumps Up Power Rating of its SMR
  • Holtec Accelerates US NRC Design Certification for SMR-160
  • UK / US Consortium In Talks To Take Over Wylfa Development
  • Multinational Team to Develop MSR-based Marine Reactor

Rolls-Royce Enlists Exelon to Help Deploy 16 440MW PWRs

rolls royve logoRolls-Royce and Exelon Generation have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to pursue the potential for Exelon Generation to operate compact nuclear power stations both in the UK and internationally. Exelon Generation will be using their operational experience to assist Rolls Royce in the development and deployment of the UKSMR.

The firm says that once it has orders for at least five of them, it can deliver each unit for about $2.2 billion. It has plans to build a fleet of them at existing nuclear power stations in the UK starting in the early 2030s.

The consortium is working with its partners and UK Government to secure a commitment for a fleet of factory built nuclear power stations, each providing 440MW of electricity, to be operational within a decade, helping the UK meet its net zero obligations.

A fleet deployment in the UK will lead to the creation of new factories that will make the components and modules which will help the economy recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and pave the way for significant export opportunities as well. Rolls-Royce has touted the plan for its ability to create thousands of new jobs.

The consortium members feature the best of nuclear engineering, construction and infrastructure expertise in Assystem, Atkins, BAM Nuttall, Jacobs, Laing O’Rourke, National Nuclear Laboratory, Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, Rolls-Royce and TWI. Exelon will add valuable operational experience to the team.

Tom Samson, interim Chief Executive Officer of the UKSMR consortium, said: “Nuclear power is central to tackling climate change and economic recovery, but it must be affordable, reliable and investable and the way we manufacture and assemble our power station brings its cost down to be comparable with offshore wind.

The power stations will be built by the UKSMR consortium, before being handed over to be operated by power generation companies. Exelon Generation will work closely with the consortium during the pre-operation period. Exelon Nuclear operates 21 nuclear reactors in America. Rolls-Royce has already signed a number of MoU with overseas utilities and organizations to cooperate on SMRs.

16 PWRs by the Numbers

The Rolls Royce plant is a mid -size reactor in the same power range as early versions of the CANDU type reactors built for India. The PWR design will have the advantage of being able to get a supply chain in place without a lot of custom fabrication of components and fuels.

The Rolls Royce design is actually larger than what is considered by the IAEA as an SMR. The upper limit by the agency is 300 MW. The Rolls Royce design comes in at 400-450 MW. This makes it more of a mid-size reactor.

rr coolIt is a three loop, close-coupled, Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) provides a power output at circa 400-450 MWe from 1200- 1350 MWth using industry standard UO2 fuel.

Coolant is circulated via three centrifugal Reactor Coolant Pumps (RCPs) to three corresponding vertical u-tube Steam Generators (SGs). The design includes multiple active and passive safety systems, each with substantial internal redundancy. (See image right)

Funding Scenarios

Getting funding for 16 of these units is an entirely different story. Assuming the plants cost $4,000/Kw, a 440 MW(e) unit will require $1.76 billion. So, 16 units, absent calculations for inflation or factory production cost savings, over time, will cost $28.2 billion providing just over 7 GW(e) of electrical power.

The UK has had multiple setbacks in it grand plan for deploying fully size reactors. Moorside (three Westinghouse AP1000s or 3.3 GW(e), Wylfa (two Hitachi ABWRs or 2.7 GW(e), and Oldbury (two Hitachi ABWRs or 2.7 GW(e) have all hit the brakes over the UK government’s inability to come to terms with the need for robust financial plans to pay for the projects.

rollsroyce440mw

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

If all of these plants had been built, they would have had a cumulative effect of adding 8.7 GW(e) of electrical power to the UK grid at a cost of $34.8 billion.

It follows that the Rolls Royce plan at $28.2 billion for 7 GW(e) of power comes close and might be easier to execute assuming factory production of major long lead time components gets an early start.

The consortium says the first of these modular plants could be up and running in 10 years, after that it will be able to build and install two a year.

Government Dithers while the Planet Burns

The sticking point has been the political decision making, or lack of it, by the UK government over taking equity positions in new nuclear projects and paying vendors that are building the plants on a cost/performance basis, e.g., pay as you go rather than turnkey payment on completion. Also, while the government has talked a lot about the so-called RAB method, it hasn’t put a policy in place to use it. So far the government has put up about $20M for design work on the 440 MW unit.

What is a regulated asset base funding model? A RAB model is used to incentivize private investment into public projects by providing a secure payback and return on investment for developers. Within this mechanism, energy companies manage the infrastructure project, taking ownership of the assets and operating costs. It has been used successfully in the UK for very large civil infrastructure projects and is being considered as a model finance mechanism by other countries.

The UK SMR Consortium said it is working with its partners and UK Government to secure a financial commitment for a fleet of factory built nuclear power stations in the UK, with exports of the design being explored in tandem. The government has said it will issue a revised policy on nuclear energy soon, but has been distracted by a rapid rise on cases of the COVID19 virus.

According to the BBC, PM Boris Johnson is rumored to be planning to take a big policy decision on nuclear power. His government has always said new nuclear is going to be a key part of Britain’s future energy system. According to the BBC, Johnson will the long-discussed new large nuclear plant at Sizewell in Suffolk the go-ahead.PM Johnson is expected to say these investments are essential if the UK is going to meet its promise to decarbonize the economy by 2050 as part of the worldwide effort to tackle climate change.

UKSMR is pitching its PWR concept reactor as a UK solution to the global challenge of tackling climate change and says there will be a vast export market as the world starts to switch to low carbon energy.

GDR Awaits for Rolls Royce

Next steps for Rolls Royce, once the design is complete, is to enter it in the UK nuclear safety regulatory Generic Design Assessment Process. At the same time, Rolls Royce said, it will begin to develop the supply chain for what it hopes will be a fleet of these types of units.

The GDR can take four years and construction for the FOAK could easily be a three year journey. Best estimate for the first commercial unit being in revenue service would be by the early 2030s.  While the firm said it would target existing nuclear sites for the plants, it did not specify any commitments from electric utilities to buy one of the units. Such a commitment would be crucial for gaining investor confidence.

Rolls-Royce Signs New Build Nuclear Energy MOU with CEZ

Rolls-Royce and CEZ have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to explore the potential for compact nuclear power stations, known as small modular reactors (UKSMR), to be built in the Czech Republic.

Daniel Beneš, Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of CEZ, said: “New energy solutions and technologies play an important role in our business and we have been focusing on small modular reactors for quite some time now, especially in our top research company UJV Rež.

In the future, they can be an important alternative that we cannot ignore. The partnership with Rolls-Royce and other global companies is therefore a logical step in our endeavor.”

CEZ, which is the state-owned nuclear electric utility, has plans to build a 1200 MW nuclear plant at its Dukovany site.  CEZ will launch the tender for a supplier, the result of which should be known at the end of 2022.

Rolls-Royce is leading the UK SMR Consortium, Its plans include a standardized, factory-made components and advanced manufacturing processes to push down costs; and the rapid assembly of the modules inside a weatherproof canopy at the power station site itself speeds up schedules.

NuScale Bumps Up Power Rating of its SMR

Based on new analyses, the NuScale Power Module is able to increase its power output to 77 MWe and offer power plants with multiple units in 300-460 MWe ranges to meet varying power needs of customers

NuScale Power announced that through further value engineering efforts, using advanced testing and modeling tools, NuScale analyzed and concluded that the NuScale Power Module (NPM) can generate an additional 25 percent more power per module for a total of 77 MWe per module (gross), resulting in about 924 MWe for the flagship 12-module power plant.

NuScale_ArtistRendering_XL_721_420_80_s_c1

Additionally, NuScale is announcing options for smaller power plant solutions in four-module (about 308 MWe) and six-module (about 462 MWe) sizes.

“Without impacting the unparalleled safety of our design, our engineers have proven yet again that NuScale’s technology is first-class, and can offer significant cost-savings and customization at a level yet to be seen in the nuclear energy market,” said NuScale Power Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Hopkins.

Increasing the power generating capacity of a 12-module NuScale small modular reactor (SMR) plant by an additional 25 percent lowers the overnight capital cost of the facility on a per kilowatt basis from an expected $3,600 to approximately $2,850. As NuScale has yet to build any units, this number is probably based on factory production of reactors after the first of a kind (FOAK) is completed.

NuScale claims for its change to the design to offer smaller power plant solutions will give NuScale customers more options in terms of size, power output, operational flexibility, and cost. The firm says he increased power output comes without any major changes to the NPM technology. They will also have a smaller and innovative footprint with a focus on simplifying construction, reducing construction duration (schedule) and lowering costs.

This new solution allows NuScale to support a larger cross-section of customer needs including power for small grids such as for island nations; remote off-grid communities; industrial and government facilities; and replacement of coal-fueled generation that require less power and help customers meet clean air mandates. The concept of replacing coal boilers with SMRs has gotten a lot of attention in EU countries which rely heavily on coal plants for electricity.

The regulatory process of increasing the level of maximum reactor power at which a nuclear plant can operate is referred to as a power uprate. The power increase will be reviewed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission as part of NuScale’s Standard Design Approval (SDA) application, which NuScale is scheduled to submit in 2022.

Holtec Accelerates US NRC Design Certification for SMR-160

Holtec International said that its drive to secure design certification for its SMR-160 small modular reactor from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was “on an accelerated schedule.”

smr-160At a kickoff meeting with the NRC officials on September 30, Holtec presented a licensing roadmap that envisages a seamless progression from Part 50 to Part 52, and a Licensing Topical Report (LTR) submittal schedule to support an accelerated availability plan.

However, the firm did not disclose details of the roadmap nor the chedule during the public portion of its NRC meeting on 09/30/20.

The greater part of the meeting, about three hours, was held in closed session due to the proprietary nature of the technical  information presented by Holtec.  The NRC listed references to the public presentation slides on its ADAMS library, but did not post the slides themselves.

At the September 30, 2020 public meeting (summary in ML20288A210), the open session covered key principles of the SMR-160, including passive operation, near-zero site boundary dose, maximum factory fabrication and minimal site construction to reduce costs. The closed session agenda included a design overview of the SMR-160 major systems including:

  • Reactor coolant system, the reactor core
  •  Instrumentation and Controls
  •  Major structures
  •  Inherently safe design features, including passive safety systems
  •  Low core damage frequency
  • Plant response to loss of coolant accidents
  •  Pre-application topical report topics and submittal timeframe
  •  Application submittal timeframe

Holtec said the SMR-160 PCCS, referred to as the Emergency Core Cooling System, is an innovative embodiment that ensures the SMR-160 plant’s safety during postulated accidents. “An essential aspect of the PCCS is its reliance on redundant, diverse, and passive heat removal systems”.

Holtec completed the Vendor Design Review Phase 1 in Canada earlier this year and is currently planning the next step in the Canadian design approval process. Holtec submitted its pre-applications documents in July 2018.

The SMR-160 is a small modular pressurized light-water reactor, which generates 160MWe (525MWth). The plant safety systems that access the SMR-160 cooling water reserve are passive, meaning they operate under the force of gravity to enable rejection of the waste heat generated from reactor operations.

International Development Plans for the SMR-160

In the UK Holtec has joined a consortium with 15 major companies to establish the Moorside Clean Energy Hub in North West England. At the center of the Hub’s plan is a number of nuclear projects at Moorside, including a new UK-EPR pressurized water reactor together with potentially a clutch of small modular reactors and other innovative technologies.

Discussions are also underway with nuclear policy makers in India to deploy SMR-160s  to generate geographically dispersed clean energy. With its small footprint (4.5 acres per reactor) and its ability to be operated without a natural water source, SMR-160 provides a solution that may be attractive to meeting India’s energy needs.

“We are poised to build major components for SMR-160 locally to accord with Prime Minister Modi’s national manufacturing drive,“ says Holtec’s SVP Jyoti Chatterjee based in Pune, India.

The development of SMR-160 has been led since 2013 by Thomas Marcille, previously of Los Alamos National Lab and NuScale Power. MEPPI, the U.S. subsidiary of Mitsubishi Electric Company (Japan) and Kiewit Engineers and Constructors of Kansas City are key partners. SVP Pierre Oneid and SVP Jyoti Chatterjee are in charge of SMR-160’s adoption efforts in North America and Asia, respectively

UK / US Consortium in Talks To Take Over Wylfa Development

(NucNet) A group of US companies has reportedly approached the UK government about taking over the development of a nuclear power station at Wylfa in north Wales.

News media reports in the UK said global engineering and construction giant Bechtel will lead the consortium as EPC and will be joined by utility Southern and nuclear technology provider Westinghouse, which designed and manufactures the AP1000 reactor technology. The Westinghouse AP1000 has completed the UK GDR regulatory process and is approved from a safety perspective to be built in the UK.

wylfa location

Map showing the location in the UK of the proposed Wylfa nuclear project. Image: Horizon Nuclear

The Financial Times reported that talks about taking over the project began in September after Japanese company Hitachi pulled out of the project. Hitachi announced that it was scrapping plans to build two UK Advanced Boiling Water Reactors at the site, blaming the lack of a viable financing structure and the uncertainties looming over BREXIT as the reasons.

The Financial Times reported that the consortium’s plans could deliver power to the electricity grid on both a similar timescale to that proposed by Horizon and at “a market competitive price” per megawatt hour, despite switching to a different reactor technology.

“A deal over Wylfa would be dependent on the UK government introducing a new funding model for large nuclear projects in the UK and the US consortium striking an agreement to acquire the site on Anglesey from Hitachi, which spent about GBP2 billion on developing the Wylfa project,” the newspaper said.

The reported development on Wylfa comes with prime minister Boris Johnson set to lay out a “10-point plan” explaining how the UK will meet its 2050 climate commitments.

Sizewell C is now the only new-build project in the UK for which planning permission is being sought. Three projects – Wylfa, Moorside and Oldbury – have either been cancelled or shelved, while Bradwell remains in the early technical stages.

The Bradwell project is slated to included two or three Hualong One PWRS to be built by Chinese state owned enterprises. The arrangement is that permission to build the Chinese plants is part of the deal that brought Chinese equity investments in the Hinkley Point C (33%) and Sizewell C (20%) projects. That plan has come under review by China following a decision by UK PM Johnson to eject a Chinese telecommunications firm from bidding on the UK 5G wireless network.

The main obstacle to new-build has been finding the right financing package. The nuclear industry has been calling for the introduction of the regulated asset base (RAB) proposal for the financing of nuclear plants. The government has already said the model has the potential to reduce the cost of raising private finance.

The Times newspaper reported recently that EDF wants a tax on UK household energy bills to help pay for Sizewell C, with other options including the British government taking an equity stake.

Multinational Team to Develop MSR-based Marine Reactor

(WNN)  A multinational team says it has plans to develop MSR-based marine reactor. A team including Core Power (UK) Ltd, Southern Company, TerraPower and Orano USA has applied to take part in cost-share risk reduction awards under the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program to build a proof-of-concept for a medium-scale commercial-grade marine reactor based on molten salt reactor (MSR) technology.

Over the next few decades, as many as 60,000 ships must transition from combustion of fossil fuels to zero-emission propulsion, London-based Core Power said.

The United Nations International Maritime Organization has mandated that shipping must reduce emissions by 50% of the 2008 total, before 2050, it said, which will mean an actual emission reduction of almost 90% by that time.

MSR technology being developed by the consortium could achieve that goal, by powering production of green sustainable fuels for smaller ships and providing onboard electric power for large ships, “with zero emissions as standard”, Core Power said.

“The implications of the MSR for transport and industry could be transformational, as we seek to build scale-appropriate technology and broad acceptance of modern and durable liquid-fueled atomic power to shape the future of how we deal with climate change,” Core Power Mikal Bøe said.

The MSR can be the technology that forms the start of “a second atomic era, where climate change is the main driver of powerful, inexpensive, and safe new energy solutions”, the company said.

Caveats Ahoy

Commercial shipping interests were not quite as enthusiastic about the idea. One source told an industry trade publication that international trans-oceanic shipping involving the operation of a nuclear reactor would be restricted to routes where navies could assure ships security from piracy. Also, the initial application might be for intercoastal shipping rather than ocean spanning shipping due to the relatively lower power of the SMR type MSR design.

History of NS Savannah

The NS Savannah was the first nuclear-powered merchant ship. She was built in the late 1950s at a cost of $46.9 million (including a $28.3 million nuclear reactor and fuel core) and launched on July 21, 1959. She was funded by United States government agencies. Savannah was a demonstration project for the potential use of nuclear energy.

NSSavannah_color

The ship was named after SS Savannah, the first steamship to cross the Atlantic ocean. She was in service between 1962 and 1972 as one of only four nuclear-powered cargo ships ever built. (Soviet ice-breaker Lenin launched on December 5, 1957, was the first nuclear-powered civil ship.)

Savannah was deactivated in 1971 and has been moored at Pier 13 of the Canton Marine Terminal in Baltimore, Maryland, since 2008. The ship was a demonstration project with cargo space about one-third that of fossil fueled freighters. Cost issues and labor disputes sidelined the ship from showing its true competitive nature.

The ship is now a floating museum tied up at the Port of Baltimore. Savannah was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 14, 1982. She was designated a National Historic Landmark on July 17, 1991. Savannah is notable as one of the most visible and intact examples of the Atoms for Peace program, and was designated a National Historic Landmark in advance of the customary fifty-year age requirement because of her exceptional national significance.

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Feds Pump $10M into Xcel Energy for Hydrogen Production

  • DOE/INL Fund $10M for Hydrogen Production at Xcel Nuclear Reactor
  • John Wagner Named INL Director
  • BWXT Fires Up TRISO Fuel Manufacturing Operations
  • Terrestrial Energy Inks Molten Salt Testing Program at ANL
  • ORNL to Produce Solid Metal Hydride Moderator for Advanced Reactors

A Private-public Partnership Will Use Nuclear Energy
to Produce Hydrogen for Industrial Customers

  • Project is first U.S. pairing of high-temperature steam electrolysis with commercial heat
  • More than $10 million in federal funding will help a Minnesota nuclear power plant make hydrogen in a way that could transform the nuclear energy industry.

Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy will work with Idaho National Laboratory to demonstrate a system that uses a nuclear plant’s steam and electricity to split water. The result will be the production of hydrogen which will initially be used at the power plant, but it could eventually be sold to other industries.industry uses of hydrogen

The U.S. Department of Energy announced the funding award on Oct. 8. The new project is the first of its kind in pairing a commercial electricity generator with high-temperature steam electrolysis (HTSE) technology. It builds on a project launched last year to demonstrate how hydrogen production facilities could be installed at operating nuclear power plants. The project showcases collaboration between DOE’s Nuclear Energy and Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy offices.

“This is a game-changer for both nuclear energy and carbon-free hydrogen production for numerous industries,” said Richard Boardman, national technical lead for the DOE Light Water Reactor Sustainability Program’s Flexible Plant Operations and Generation Pathway.

Today, industrial-grade hydrogen is produced by stripping it from natural gas molecules, releasing carbon monoxide (CO) in the process. Since nuclear power plants do not emit CO or CO2 or other air pollutants, hydrogen made by splitting water at nuclear plants can help lower the carbon footprint of industrial hydrogen customers.

“Xcel Energy was the first major American utility to pursue a vision of 100% carbon-free electricity, and now we’ll be the first company to produce carbon-free hydrogen at a nuclear plant using this technology,” said Tim O’Connor, Xcel Energy chief generation officer.

The project will demonstrate HTSE using heat and electricity from one of Xcel Energy’s nuclear plants, likely the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Station. HTSE technology is a fit at nuclear power plants, where high-quality steam and electricity are both readily accessible without having to pipe it off-site to another plant.

Xcel Energy also has a large amount of wind in its energy generation portfolio, which offers an opportunity to demonstrate how a nuclear plant’s electricity could be used to make hydrogen when wind energy satisfies grid demand.

This arrangement allows the nuclear plant to operate near 100% of capacity 24X7 and eliminates the need for complex load following procedures that ultimately reduce electricity output.

A recent analysis under DOE’s H2@Scale initiative, led by the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office, estimated that hydrogen produced by HTSE at a nuclear plant could be cost competitive in today’s market. The report was published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.  (Fact Sheet PDF file)

hfto-h2-at-scale-101420

“Today, a number of nuclear power plants could produce cost-competitive hydrogen – and, with additional electrolyzer R&D and more installations, many more nuclear plants could in the future,” said Mark Ruth, a group manager with NREL’s Strategic Energy Analysis Center who is lead author of the report.

“Hydrogen is a versatile energy carrier that can help the decarbonization of major energy sectors,” said Amgad Elgowainy, a senior scientist and group leader with Argonne National Laboratory’s Energy Systems Division, and a report author.

Commercial hydrogen production via low-temperature electrolysis will be demonstrated by a previously awarded project, which launched in September 2019. Led by Energy Harbor’s Davis-Besse Nuclear Plant near Toledo, Ohio, the two-year project will demonstrate a 1-to-3-MWe low-temperature electrolysis unit to produce commercial quantities of hydrogen.

The third utility participating in the project, Arizona Public Service (APS), which operates the Palo Verde Generating Station, is also evaluating the integration of nuclear energy with hydrogen production.

Many industrial sectors, including steel and ammonia production, use hydrogen to make their products. Hydrogen also is a form of clean energy that can power vehicles. The goal of these projects is to traverse technical barriers, so commercial nuclear power plants can make and sell commodities such as hydrogen in addition to electricity.

John Wagner Named Idaho National Laboratory Director

Battelle Energy Alliance’s (BEA) Board of Managers announced that John Wagner, Ph.D., will be the next director of Idaho National Laboratory (INL). BEA manages and operates the laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy.

Wagner will begin his new role on 12/11/20. Wagner has been at INL since 2016 and has been Associate Laboratory Director for Nuclear Science and Technology since 2017.

Wagner has more than 20 years of experience performing research and managing and leading research and development projects, programs and organizations. Prior to joining INL, he worked at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for nearly 17 years, where he held several research and leadership roles in reactor and fuel cycle technologies.

Wagner earned his doctorate and master’s degrees from Pennsylvania State University and his bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology.

He is an American Nuclear Society Fellow, the highest honor bestowed by the Society and a recipient of the 2013 E.O. Lawrence Award. He has authored or co-authored more than 170 refereed journal and conference articles, technical reports and conference summaries.

Wagner succeeds Mark Peters as INL laboratory director who last August accepted the position of executive vice president for laboratory operations at Battelle.

BWXT Restarts TRISO Nuclear Fuel Manufacturing

BWX Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: BWXT) announced that its BWXT Nuclear Operations Group, Inc. subsidiary has completed its TRISO nuclear fuel line restart project and is producing fuel at its Lynchburg, Va. facility.

In June 2020, BWXT announced a contract with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Idaho National Laboratory to expand BWXT’s TRISO manufacturing capacity and produce a demonstration quantity of the fuel. The project is jointly funded by the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) Operational Energy Capabilities Improvement Fund Office and NASA, with overall program management provided by the DoD’s Strategic Capabilities Office.

TRISO Fuel for U Battery

Previously, in March 2020, BWXT announced a contract with the DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory to demonstrate capability to manufacture TRISO nuclear fuel to support the continued development of the Transformational Challenge Reactor.

The scope of the contract includes the fabrication and delivery of uranium kernels, TRISO coated surrogate materials, and TRISO coated uranium kernels for a demonstration batch.

TRISO refers to a specific design of uranium nuclear reactor fuel. TRISO is a shortened form of the term TRIstructural-ISOtropic. TRIstructural refers to the layers of coatings surrounding the uranium fuel, and ISOtropic refers to the coatings having uniform materials characteristics in all directions so that fission products are essentially retained. 

BWXT is in the process of hiring 25 additional workers for its TRISO operations.

Wide Interest in TRISO Fuel

TRISO fuel testing is gaining a lot of interest from the advanced reactor community. Some reactor vendors such as X-energy and Kairos Power, along with the Department of Defense, are planning to use TRISO fuel for their designs—including some small modular and micro-reactor concepts.

X-energy is currently manufacturing uranium oxide/carbide (UCO) based kernels, (NRC Briefing – PDF file) TRISO particles, compacts and fuel pebbles at an ~5,000-sq. ft. fuel facility located at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) as part of the DOE Advanced Reactor Concept 2015 Cooperative Agreement.

Terrestrial Energy Inks Molten Salt Testing Program
at Argonne National Laboratory

Terrestrial Energy USA and Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) have begun a detailed testing program for the fuel salt to be used in the Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) Generation IV nuclear power plant. The fuel salt testing program is part of a broader ongoing testing program for fuel, components, and systems used in the IMSR power plant. The results of these tests will support licensing applications in Canada and the U.S.

Terrestrial Energy USA began working with ANL in 2016 after receiving an award from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) program. GAIN directs support to the nuclear community commercializing innovative nuclear technologies.

ANL will use an extensive array of characterization techniques and advanced laboratory equipment to determine the compliance of thermo-physical properties of the IMSR fuel salt to regulatory standards. ANL will prepare and test fuel salt mixtures that replicate the fuel salt composition over the full IMSR operating cycle. The laboratory investigations will include melting point determinations, density, viscosity, heat capacity, and thermal diffusivity measurements.

Oak Ridge National Lab Designs System
to Produce Solid Metal Hydride Moderator

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) developed a system to fabricate large quantities of solid yttrium hydride—a rare earth metal and hydrogen mixture that will be used as a moderator for its Transformational Challenge Reactor (TCR).  Citation: Development of Yttrium Hydride Moderator for the Transformational Challenge Reactor, (PDF file) Xunxiang Hu*, Chinthaka Silva&, and Kurt A. Terrani† all at ORNL.

The new moderator is getting the interest of a number of microreactor programs and could also open up opportunities with NASA as it develops new space reactors and propulsion systems.

For decades, scientists have been interested in using metal hydrides as a moderator in compact, high-temperature reactors. While most existing reactors use pressurized water as a moderator, metal hydrides contain an equivalent or higher concentration of hydrogen and can work at high temperatures without the high pressure that water requires. The high hydrogen density and moderating efficiency of metal hydrides enables smaller reactor cores that can operate more efficiently and reduce waste products.

To achieve optimal performance as a high-temperature moderator, the yttrium hydride must be a flawless solid piece. Any cracks in the material can decrease thermal conductivity and impact the release of hydrogen. Yttrium hydride is not commercially available in a solid form, so scientists created a system in just 10 months to mass produce flawless pieces at a scale required for TCR.

By the end of the project, researchers had perfected large-scale yttrium hydride production and established a reliable database with detailed information that fully captures its specific characteristics. The process identifies the thermal, mechanical and neutron scattering properties to better determine yttrium hydride’s stability within a nuclear reactor core.

The TCR design, development and operation of the metal hydriding system is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy.

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Canada’s SMR Developers Focus on Process Heat

  • Canadian Developers of Small Modular Reactors Focus on Process Heat
  • Terrestrial Energy Receives Canadian Government Funding for IMSR Generation IV Nuclear Plant
  • New Los Alamos National Laboratory Spin-Off Aims To Put Nuclear Reactors In Space

Canadian Developers of Small Modular Reactors Focus on Competitive Advantage of Providing Process Heat and Electricity to Multiple Customers

All but two of the 13 SMRs in the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) Vendor Design Review (VDR) process, as of October 2020, are advanced designs that will generate high heat. Of that number, three of the four designs that have cleared Phase 1 of the CNSC VDR process are advanced designs. Three of five of the designs that have started Phase 2 of the VDR process are advanced designs with estimated reactor outlet temperatures in excess of 500 C.

A revenue model that holds promise for developers of small modular reactors (SMRs) based on Gen IV designs is to offer heat as the primary output of their plants. Heat can be used to generate electricity, but it can also be used for process heat for industry, especially for manufacturing steel, cement, chemicals, the production of hydrogen, and seawater desalinization.

canadian advanced smrs in CNSC vdr V2

Data from CNSC VDR status and IAEA ARIS DBMS

The combination of revenues from these heat streams is expected to expand the business case for advanced reactors in the SMR power range, e.g, >300MW(e). Grid services in the form of load following to support solar and wind energy projects could also be available. In some cases, designs propose to store heat on the form of molten salt.

Revenues from these heat streams could expand the business case for advanced SMR reactors as a result. Investors would then be able to look beyond the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) when evaluating the business prospects for a new reactor design.

With a growing realization that nuclear energy is necessary to achieve decarbonization in the electric generation utility industry, and, in major process heat applications, the 2020s decade looks like one where action, based on this concept, could see more significant developments for nuclear energy worldwide and especially in Canada which has 13 SMR designs before the CNSC.

process heat rs

Process heat options. Image: Royal Society,  Nuclear CogenerationCivil nuclear in a low-carbon future, October 2020

Canada’s Roadmap for SMRs is mostly driven by economic development considerations. Regulation is handled separately by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. The emphasis on process heat as a new revenue source for utilities emerging as a major trend in the design of advanced reactors and particularly in Canada.

Next Generation After CANDU

Canadian firms like Terrestrial Energy and others, which are currently in Phase II of the Vendor Design Review at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, have promoted process heat as a new primary source of output, and revenue, for SMRs.

TEI-ISMR-HowItWorks-Diagram

Conceptual image of Terrestrial Energy Molten Salt Nuclear Reactor Design and Applications

Currently, all power-generating nuclear reactors in Canada are CANDU type PHWRs. (Coolant 300 C). Advanced SMRs will bring to Canada international designs, e.g., HTGRs, and new fuels, e.g., TRISO, HALEU, which have new risks and opportunities for the Canadian nuclear sector due to their high operating heat inside the reactor and for the secondary loop. (coolant can be molten salt, gas, or steam up to 600 C).

Types of Process Heat Applications

The advanced designs of SMRs being developed in Canada, for domestic customers and export to global markets, have two types of applications based on the outlet temperature of either the reactor or the turbine.

  • Low Temperature – “waste heat” is extracted from the back end of the turbine at about 200 C.
  • High Temperature – heat is accessed directly from the reactor or the secondary loop prior to the turbine > 500 C
high heat cogen

Image: Royal Society ~Nuclear Cogeneration: Civil Nuclear in a Low Carbon Future, Policy Briefing The Royal Society, London, UK, October 2020  

Process Heat Applications – Low Temperature

The low temperature (>300C) application that is most commonly cited by SMR developers is district heating involves steam >200 C from the reactor, or the waste heat from the turbine, delivered to industrial and residential users.
Key issues for success include;

low temp cogen

Image: Royal Society

Key success factors for district heating include;

  • proximity to and density of user facilities to avoid heat loss,
  • timing of use over 24 hours,
  • back up systems in case of reactor shutdown, and
  • comparison of costs for new v. retrofit builds.

Process Heat Applications – High Temperature

All but two of the 13 SMRs in the CNSC Vendor Design Review (VDR) process, as of October 2020, are advanced designs that will generate high heat. Applications for process heat begin at about 500 C. These temperatures require co-location of the SMR and the industrial user(s) to avoid heat loss.

Process Heat Temps and Uses1

Image: Royal Society

Key industries capable of using high temperature process heat from advanced SMRs;

  • Iron & steel mills, specialty foundries
  • Non-ferrous metals; copper, aluminum, lead, nickel, tin, & zinc
  • Oil production and refining
  • Concrete kilns
  • Glass making

Hydrogen Production

Hydrogen is a key fuel for a decarbonized future, e.g., fuel cells, hybrid vehicles, and industrial uses. Current method of producing hydrogen by steam methane reforming uses fossil fuels with large releases of CO2. Electrolysis of water can achieved by generated electricity from both commercial light water and advanced reactors. Other applications of process heat from SMRs include production of hydrogen to make ammonia, synthetic fuels, and lubricants.

High heat from advanced SMRs, e.g., > 600 C outlet temperature, uses 35% less electricity, but it creates challenges for materials in components to get the heat through a secondary loop, e.g., molten salt, gas, or steam.

Seawater Desalinization

Current use of natural gas to produce electric power for water desalinization is energy intensive and releases CO2. Using electricity can require up to 25KWh per cubic meter of water produced (264 gallons).  Using nuclear energy for this purpose removes the CO2 from the equation.

Assuming the average household in a town of 1,000 people uses 100 gallons per day per person, the requirement is for 100,000 gallons per day. The numbers add up faster for large urban areas with large non-residential users. The need for desalinization is likely to increase due to climate change.

The most efficient method is reverse osmosis now used by United Arab Emirates powered by a 1400 MW(e) reactor on coast of Persian Gulf. One unit is on the grid, and three others will come online in the next two years.

ro schematic

Typical Reverse Osmosis Plant Configuration

Power lines connect to coastal water treatment plants located near urban areas to reduce the distance between water supply and users.(400 kV overhead lines to connect Barakah 1 to the Abu Dhabi electricity grid)

Key distinctions for all desalinization methods;

  • Amount of energy required and cost per unit of water produced
  • Need for a facility to pre-treat the water to remove salt, sediment, chemicals, plant debris, etc.
  • Purity of output for potable v. industrial uses.

Process Heat Applications – Barriers to Deployment

A key issue is the need for a governance / control agreement between the industrial user(s) and the utility operating the reactor that supplies the process heat and acceptance of it by regulatory agencies.  For instance, co-locating a advanced SMR with a petrochemical plant would require safety reviews of the cross facility risks of each on the other.

For industrial customers seeking to swap out fossil fuel to make steam for a nuclear reactor, the key concerns include;

  • The reactor must be a “proven design” with operational successes.
  • It cannot be a first-of-a-kind (FOAK) due to the need for reliable delivery of heat 24 x 7/365 for large industrial plants.
  • Investor confidence depends on the vendor being able to deliver the reactor on time, within budget, and to have a solid operational business case.
  • The time frame for delivery of the SMR must be within the capital budget planning horizon of the industrial customer.

Nuclear SMR Cogeneration Safety Issues

A short list of issues that regulatory agencies will have for the safety of SMRs co-located with customer industrial sites include;

  • Site characterization for the nuclear reactor (advanced SMR) and the nearby industrial end user(s) of the process heat from the reactor.
  • Plant integration (nuclear and industry) for safety and security. Small size of the emergency protection zone especially if SMR is underground.
  • Control and operation strategies, e.g., use of a single control room for multiple SMRs.
    Load following methods to maintain stable grid with renewables.
  • Control and disposition of radioactive waste, spent fuel
  • Environmental compliance for conventional and hazardous pollutants from the industrial plant.
  • Joint oversight, monitoring for safety, environmental compliance, radiation control, etc.

Further Reading

Other Nuclear News

Terrestrial Energy Receives Canadian Government Funding for IMSR Generation IV Nuclear Plant

Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Hon. Navdeep Bains has announced a $20 million investment in Terrestrial Energy to accelerate development of the company’s Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) power plant, creating significant environmental and economic benefits for Canada.

This is the first such investment from the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) announcing support for a Small Modular Reactor (SMR), and is directed to a developer of innovative Generation IV nuclear technology.

The company’s IMSR power plant when deployed is expected to provide high-efficiency on-grid electricity generation, and its high-temperature operation has many other industry uses, such as zero-carbon hydrogen production.

“The Government of Canada supports the use of this innovative technology to help deliver cleaner energy sources and build on Canada’s global leadership in SMRs,” said Minister Bains.

“By helping to bring these small reactors to market, we are supporting significant environmental and economic benefits, including generating energy with reduced emissions, highly skilled-job creation and Canadian intellectual property development.”

“SMRs are a game-changing technology with the potential to play a critical role in fighting climate change, and rebuilding our post COVID-19 economy,” said Hon. Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Natural Resources.

Terrestrial Energy welcomed the announcement, which will assist with its completion of a key pre-licensing milestone with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

“The Government of Canada is progressing with clear purpose to national deployment of SMRs, and it recognizes the great industrial and environmental rewards from nuclear innovation today,” said Simon Irish, Chief Executive Officer, Terrestrial Energy.

In accepting the investment, the company has committed to creating and maintaining 186 jobs and creating 52 CO-OP positions nationally. In addition, Terrestrial Energy is spending at least another $91.5 million in research and development.

As it proceeds toward commercial deployment of IMSR power plants before the end of this decade, Terrestrial Energy will draw on Canada’s world-class nuclear supply chain, potentially creating more than a thousand jobs nationally. It will also undertake gender equity and diversity initiatives, including increasing female representation in STEM fields.

The announcement comes just one week after Ontario Power Generation announced it will advance work with Terrestrial Energy and two other grid-scale SMR developers as part of the utility’s goal to deploy SMR technology.

Also, Terrestrial Energy USA and Centrus Energy recently announced that they had signed a memorandum of understanding to evaluate the logistical, regulatory, and transportation requirements to establish a fuel supply for Integral Molten Salt Reactor power plants, which would use standard-assay low-enriched uranium at an enrichment level less than 5 percent.

New Los Alamos National Laboratory Spin-Off
Aims To Put Nuclear Reactors In Space

A new agreement hopes to speed along a nuclear reactor technology that could be used to fuel deep-space exploration and possibly power human habitats on the Moon or Mars. Los Alamos National Laboratory has signed an agreement to license the Kilopower space reactor technology (fact sheet) to Space Nuclear Power Corporation (SpaceNukes), also based in Los Alamos, NM.

kilopower-unit_thumb_thumb.jpg

Kilopower conceptual design. Image: NASA

“We developed this technology at the Laboratory in partnership with NASA and the National Nuclear Security Administration,” said Patrick McClure, who served as project lead for Kilopower at Los Alamos and is now a partner in SpaceNukes.

“By creating our own company, we’re hoping to be able to reach potential new sponsors who will want to take this technology to the next level and put it into space.”

Kilopower is a small, lightweight fission power system capable of providing various ranges of power depending on the need.

For example, SpaceNukes offers low-kilowatt reactors to power deep space missions, middle-range reactors in the tens of kilowatts to power a lunar or Martian habitat, and much larger reactors in the hundreds of kilowatts that could make enough propellant for a rocket to return to Earth after a stay on Mars. (Space Nukes Fact Sheets)

“We think that nuclear power is needed for humans to exist and thrive in outer space, and we’ll go wherever we’re needed to make that happen,” said Dave Poston, who designed the reactor at Los Alamos and is another partner in SpaceNukes, which is named after his softball team since 1997.

“This licensing agreement demonstrates how tech-transfer should work: the government and national laboratories invest in technologies that are unproven and advance them far enough to make them commercially viable.”

SpaceNukes is pursuing opportunities with NASA for a lunar surface reactor and have presented their ideas to the U.S. Air Force and Space Force for reactor concepts for cislunar space.

Poston and McClure are listed as the inventors on the patent that forms the basis of the licensing agreement. They are led by Andy Phelps, a long-time Bechtel executive and former Los Alamos National Laboratory associate director. Their goal is to commercialize the Kilopower technology and see a reactor in space in the next few years.

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IAEA – Key to the Future of Nuclear Energy is Cogeneration

  • IAEA – Key to the Future of Nuclear Energy is Cogeneration and Renewables
  • Royal Society / UK Report Highlights the Potential Of Nuclear Cogeneration
  • DOE Inks New Deal with NASA for Nuclear Energy in Space
  • Ultra Safe N Delivers Advanced Nuclear Thermal Propulsion Design To NASA
  • Synthos Green Energy in Talks with Polish Nuclear Regulator for BWRX-300 Small Modular Reactor
  • US / Poland Ink Agreement on Nuclear Energy
  • Bulgaria Signs Nuclear Co-operation MOU with US
  • Kenya’s Nuclear Energy Plan Delayed Past 2030

IAEA – Key to the Future of Nuclear Energy is Cogeneration and Renewables

(NucNet) Cogeneration and flexibility are key to energy systems of future.  The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)  is looking at hybrid energy systems combining nuclear cogeneration and renewables and working on the idea of “nuclear beyond electricity,” IAEA director-general Rafael Grossi said this week.

Mr Grossi told a webinar organized in conjunction with the Nuclear Energy Agency that using nuclear reactors to do more than generate baseload electricity will be key to decarbonizing industries that rely heavily on fossil fuels.

Nuclear “cogeneration” is an operation where the heat generated by a nuclear power plant is used not only to generate electricity, but also to address some of the difficult to decarbonize energy demands such as domestic heating and hydrogen production. It enables a nuclear plant to be used more flexibly, by switching between electricity generation and cogeneration applications.

A recent Royal Society report (report below) in the UK explores the additional uses of nuclear energy beyond electricity, including high temperature heat to fuel processes directly, such as chemical synthesis, or low temperature heat for district heating.

It considers how a nuclear plant can be used flexibly, switching from the production of electricity when needed to another application when electricity demand is low or when renewables are putting power into the regional grid. Cogeneration capabilities would allow nuclear energy to collaborate on the grid with intermittent renewable generation.

Nuclear Energy is “On the Table” to Deal with Climate Change

Mr Grossi said climate change is making it “more and more difficult” to take a technology like nuclear off the table when it comes to the debate about future energy systems and the transition towards zero-carbon economies.

Mr Grossi said making a serious economic case for a decarbonized economy while at the same time excluding nuclear energy is “not an honest debate, it is ideological.”

“All rational solutions to the climate change issue include nuclear. It has a place at the table so let’s hear what we have to say.”

Nuclear Energy and Climate Change

Mr Grossi said that at the December 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Madrid, “some people wondered why we [nuclear energy] were there”.

In Madrid Mr Grossi said nuclear power provides around one-third of the world’s low-carbon electricity and already plays a significant role in mitigating climate change.

“Many of our 171 member states believe that it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve sustainable development and meet global climate goals without significant use of nuclear energy.”

He said variable renewables, such as solar and wind, are vital to the clean energy transition, but they alone cannot meet countries’ growing energy needs.

“Nuclear power can provide the continuous, low-carbon power to back up increasing use of renewables. It can be the key that unlocks their full potential by providing flexible support – day or night, rain or shine.”

Looking forward to COP26 in Glasgow, scheduled for November 2021, Mr Grossi said for the IAEA, “we expect to have an opportunity to present nuclear as part of a solution that can stand alongside renewables and integrate into any realistic model.”

What is Cogeneration?

(IAEA) (Royal Society) Cogeneration is the integration of nuclear power plants with other systems and applications. The heat generated by the nuclear power plants can be used to produce a vast range of products such as cooling, heating, process heat, desalination and hydrogen. The use of nuclear energy for cogeneration provides many economic, environmental and efficiency-related benefits. Cogeneration options may be different; depending on the technology, reactor type, fuel type and temperature level.

The use of nuclear energy for cogeneration also provides the benefit of using nuclear fuel in more efficient and eco-friendly manner. Energy analyses show that the performance of a nuclear power plant, and revenue for the utility that owns it, may be increased if it is used in a cogeneration mode.

process heat rs

Process heat options. Image: Royal Society, “Nuclear Cogeneration: civil nuclear in a low-carbon future” October 2020

Temperature Matters

There are major types of nuclear power reactors such as: the light water reactor (LWR), heavy water reactor (HWR), small modular reactor (SMR), liquid metal fast reactor (LMFR), high temperature gas reactor (HTGR), supercritical water reactor (SCWR), gas fast reactor (GFR), molten salt reactor (MSR) and modular helium reactor (MHR). LWR, HWR and SMR are suitable for use in district heating and desalination systems due to their working temperature range of 280-325°C.

low temp cogen

Image: Royal Society

Process Heat Temps and Uses1

Image: Royal Society

The working temperature range of other types including LMFR, HTGR, SCWR, GFR and MHR are from 500-800°C makes them suitable for various cogeneration options. The high working temperature range of 750-950°C of HTGR using helium as a coolant makes them suitable for generation of process heat and hydrogen in cogeneration mode.

The working temperature ranges of SCWR (430-625°C), GFR (~850°C) and MSR (750-1000°C) make them suitable for production of hydrogen, process heat and desalination of sea water when they are used as cogeneration systems.

Royal Society / UK Report Highlights the Potential Of Nuclear Cogeneration

(NucNet) Heat from reactors, much of which is wasted, could be used for domestic heating and hydrogen production.

Nuclear energy has the potential to help the UK to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, not only through the generation of low-carbon electricity but by more fully using the heat generated by a reactor, the Royal Society has said in a policy briefing.

The briefing considers how the use of nuclear energy could be expanded to make the most of the energy produced by nuclear plants and also to have the flexibility to complement an energy system with a growing input of intermittent renewable energy.

high heat cogen

Image:Royal Society

The society warns it would be economically challenging to convert current LWR nuclear plants to support cogeneration. Planned new-build nuclear plants are designed primarily for the generation of electricity. However, the designs could be modified to make use of the various benefits of cogeneration. In the case of Sizewell C, the potential for cogeneration is already under consideration.

The briefing explores the additional uses of nuclear energy beyond electricity, such as using high temperature heat to fuel processes directly, such as chemical synthesis, or low temperature heat for district heating.

It considers how a nuclear plant can be used flexibly, switching from the production of electricity when needed to another application when electricity demand is low. This would allow nuclear energy to coexist on a grid with energy supply that also has intermittent renewable generation.

The principle focus of the briefing is heat. Nuclear reactors produce heat on a vast scale. A typical nuclear power station produces around 3.4 GW of heat – equivalent to about 100,000 domestic gas boilers – which is used to generate around 1.2 GW of electricity. Currently, around 65% of the energy is lost in the conversion as waste heat.

DOE Inks New Deal with NASA for Nuclear Energy in Space

(Space news) WASHINGTON — NASA and the Department of Energy announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) Oct. 20 that is the latest in a series of measures by the two agencies to expand cooperation.

The MOU, signed by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette and announced at a meeting of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, is intended to expand the existing cooperation between the two agencies in space nuclear power to other topics in science and engineering.

The work between the two agencies has largely revolved around RTGs and other nuclear power sources, including ongoing work on new nuclear power systems and nuclear propulsion for future Mars exploration.

The MOU calls for creating three joint working groups on lunar surface infrastructure, space nuclear power and propulsion, and space science and innovation.

The working groups will prepare reports outlining potential activities on developing infrastructure for a future lunar base, power systems for that lunar base, nuclear propulsion systems for Mars, and support for space situational awareness, space weather and planetary defense.

The agreement also creates an executive committee, jointly chaired by NASA’s deputy administrator and the deputy secretary of energy, that will meet “on a regular basis” to implement the agreement. The intent is to create a more formal method of cooperation between the agencies.

“There’s a long history of cooperation between NASA and the Department of Energy,” said Norm Augustine, the retired Lockheed Martin chief executive who is co-chair of a space science working group for the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, later at the Oct. 20 board meeting.

“The thing that’s characterized it, though, is that it’s been largely ad hoc, where somebody at NASA knew about work at DOE, or vice versa,” he added. “That’s led to a number of successes, but probably a number of missed opportunities.”

The Department of Energy has, over the last year, worked to increase its profile in the space field. The department formally joined the National Space Council in February, and in September met with Bridenstine to discuss cooperation in nuclear power and other technologies. The department has also increased its outreach to companies in the space industry on potential collaboration in technology development.

Ultra Safe Delivers Advanced Nuclear Thermal Propulsion Design To NASA

ulta safe logo(WNN) (wire servicesUltra Safe Nuclear Technologies (USNC-Tech) has delivered a design concept to NASA as part of a study on nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) flight demonstration.

NTP technology provides high-impulse thrust performance beyonbd eath orbit for deep space missions such as crewed missions to the moon and Mars. The NASA-sponsored study, managed by Analytical Mechanics Associates (AMA), explored NTP concepts and designs enabling deep space travel.

Nuclear thermal power for spaceflight has a number of advantages over chemical-based designs, primarily providing higher efficiency and greater power density resulting in lower propulsion system weight. This would contribute to shorter travel times and lower exposure to cosmic radiation for astronauts, enabling deep space missions such as crewed missions to the Moon and Mars.

USNC describes its FCM fuel as a next-generation uranium oxycarbide tristructural isotropic (TRISO) particle fuel design, replacing the graphite matrix of traditional TRISO fuel with silicon carbide (SiC).

It says the result is a safer nuclear fuel that can withstand higher temperatures and more radiation. The SiC matrix in FCM fuel provides a dense, gas-tight barrier preventing the escape of fission products, even if a TRISO particle should rupture during operation.

The new matrix improves the structural and containment characteristics of TRISO particles, trapping and sealing radioactive fission products permanently, preventing contamination of the environment. The higher-thermal conductivity of FCM fuel allows the fuel pellet to have a flatter temperature profile, lowering peak temperatures in nuclear reactors.

“Our engine maximizes the use of proven technology, eliminates failure modes of previous NTP concepts, and has a specific impulse more than twice that of chemical systems,” said Dr. Michael Eades, principal engineer at USNC-Tech.

“Key to USNC-Tech’s design is a conscious overlap between terrestrial and space reactor technologies,” explained Dr. Paolo Venneri, CEO of USNC-Tech.

“This allows us to leverage the advancements in nuclear technology and infrastructure from terrestrial systems and apply them to our space reactors.”

FCM fuel is part of a new family of inherently safe space-optimized reactor designs that ensure astronaut safety and environmental protection. Using low quantities of HALEU, this unique NTP concept delivers high thrust and specific impulse previously only achievable through high-enriched uranium.

Furthermore, the firm claims that FCM fuel leverages pre-existing supply chains and manufacturing facilities used by terrestrial nuclear reactor developers, reducing production risks and enabling sustainable industry involvement.

Synthos Green Energy In Talks with Polish Nuclear Regulator for BWRX-300 Small Modular Reactor

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) announced this week that Synthos Green Energy (SGE), a member of the Synthos Group S.A., has initiated discussions with Poland’s National Atomic Energy Agency (PAA) about a potential BWRX-300 small modular reactor project.

bwrx300 GEH

SGE and GEH recently signed a strategic cooperation agreement that is focused on development and deployment of the BWRX-300. In addition to GEH, Exelon Generation, Fortum and CMS Legal in Warsaw are supporting SGE in this process.

“With our design-to-cost approach, we believe the BWRX-300 is ideally positioned to help SGE and Poland meet the demand for clean, stable and affordable energy,” said Jon Ball, Executive Vice President of Nuclear Products for GEH.

“Our request to the PAA will allow determining the scope of the full application for a general opinion about the organizational and technical solutions to be applied in the construction and operation of a plant with BWRX-300 technology,” said Rafael Kasprów, President of the Board of SGE.

GEH and Synthos SA announced in October 2019 an agreement to collaborate on potential deployment applications for the BWRX-300 in Poland. Synthos, a manufacturer of synthetic rubber and one of the biggest producers of chemical raw materials in Poland, is interested in obtaining affordable, on-demand, carbon-free electricity from a dependable, dedicated source.

SGE was established to develop and implement zero-emission technologies and electricity production from renewable energy sources for the Synthos Group, which is the largest private industrial group in Poland.

About the BWRX-300

The BWRX-300 is a 300 MWe water-cooled, natural circulation SMR with passive safety systems that leverages the design and licensing basis of GEH’s U.S. NRC-certified ESBWR. Through design simplification, GEH projects the BWRX-300 will require significantly less capital cost per MW(e) when compared to other water-cooled SMR designs or existing large nuclear reactor designs.

By leveraging the existing ESBWR design certification, utilizing licensed and proven nuclear fuel designs, incorporating proven components and supply chains and implementing simplification innovations the BWRX-300 can, GEH believes, become cost-competitive with other forms of generation.

US / Poland Agreement on Nuclear Energy

U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette and Poland’s Secretary of State for Strategic Energy Infrastructure Piotr Naimski discussed the signing of the first Intergovernmental Agreement to cooperate on the development of Poland’s civil nuclear power program.

This 30-year Agreement, the first of its kind, represents an enduring energy bond between the United States and Poland. This Agreement will expand Poland’s energy mix, and reduce Poland’s energy reliance on coercive suppliers.

The Agreement provides that over the next 18 months, the United States and Poland will work together on a report delivering a design for implementing Poland’s nuclear power program, as well as exploring potential financing arrangements. This will be the basis for U.S. long-term involvement and for the Polish government to take final decisions on accelerating the construction of nuclear power plants in the country.

Investment Finance Partners for Poland?

Brouillette told journalists that Poland had agreed to spend USD18 billion on US nuclear technology and services from companies such as Westinghouse, Bechtel and Southern Company. Poland plans to spend USD40 billion on six nuclear reactors.

The Polish government said it would create a special purpose vehicle for the investment. Energy company PGE recently signed a letter of intent to sell its subsidiary PGE EJ1 to the state Treasury. That special purpose vehicle would sign an agreement in 2022 with a future partner that would take up to a 49% stake in the project and supply the reactor technology for all the reactors.

It is not immediately apparent where the money will come from as neither the US Export Import Bank nor the Development Finance Corporation are prepared to offer financing at that scale.

World Nuclear News reported the plan includes reducing the share of coal in electricity production to between 37% and 56% in 2030, and to between 11% and 28% in 2040, depending on CO2 prices. Coal last year accounted for 74% of Polish electricity generation.

The first 1-1.6 GWe nuclear unit is to be commissioned in 2033, with five more units, or 6-9 GWe, to follow by 2040. They are expected to be built at Lubiatow-Kopalino and Zarnowiec, near the country’s Baltic Sea coast.

Bulgaria Signs Nuclear Co-operation MOU with US

(Wire services) Bulgaria and the USA have signed key documents on civil nuclear power.

Bulgarian Minister of Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova and US Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation Christopher A Ford signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on strategic cooperation in civil nuclear power.

The signing took place in the presence of Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joined via video conference.

Borissov said that the US is an important strategic partner of Bulgaria in the energy sector, and promoting this partnership is a key element in the switch to a low-carbon economy.

Petkova said the MOU will give a new impetus and a good basis for future energy cooperation between the two countries.

“The document will also contribute to the implementation of our main priority for achieving diversification of energy sources. Nuclear energy is of strategic importance to us, as it guarantees energy security and will contribute to achieving the goals of reducing carbon emissions.”.

Bulgaria’s two operating Russian-designed VVER reactors at Kozloduy generate about one-third of the country’s electricity. Last month Bulgaria’s government gave state-owned energy company Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) a mandate to start talks with US companies that develop nuclear technologies to study the options for the building of a new reactor on site.

Simultaneously, the government is seeking investment in a 2000MWe nuclear plant at Belene involving the construction of two Russian designed VVER-1000 units.

Kenya’s Nuclear Energy Plan Delayed Past 2030

(The Energy Industry Times) Kenya’s plan for a nuclear power plant has been delayed beyond the initial estimate of 2030.

The east African country has been grappling with the high cost of electricity that directly affects production of goods and other services. It views nuclear power both as a long-term solution to high fuel costs and an effective way to cut carbon emissions from the power generating sector.

Kenya Power has been struggling with depressed demand for electricity generated by its suppliers who have contracts compelling it to buy energy even when it is unable to sell it. The downturn in demand has been instrumental in the postponement of future electrical generation plans such as nuclear energy.

Another issue is that the country’s Nuclear Power and Energy Agency (NuPEA) said that getting a regulatory framework in place, and building a case for compliance for a new reactor project, are beyond its means at the present time.

Collins Juma, Chief Executive of NuPEA, said that the country will prioritize the use of small modular reactors as opposed to a planned 1000 MW single reactor as Kenya’s electricity demand increases over time.

He said SMRs are cheaper and faster to implement, but he said it will be the mid-2030s before Kenya is ready to develop a nuclear power station that uses SMRs.

Reports in Kenya in August claimed NuPEA had submitted impact studies for the country’s first 1000 MW commercial nuclear power station, at a cost of $5 billion, and said construction of the first reactor would take about seven years. These estimates have turned out to be overly ambitious.

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NuScale gets Letter of Intent for 2500MW Project in South Africa from US Development Finance Agency

The United States International Development Finance Corp. (DFC) has signed a letter of intent to support NuScale Power LLC, a U.S. nuclear energy technology firm, to develop 2,500 megawatts of power in South Africa based on its 60MW SMR.

africa-nuclearThe action is the second blockbuster funding event this week following a commitment by the U.S. Department of Energy for $1.355 billion to UAMPS which is NuScale’s first US customer for its 60 MW SMR. The 12 SMR plant will be built at a site in Idaho.

The DFC, which ended its prohibition on supporting nuclear power in July, signed a letter of intent this week to support NuScale’s bid for South Africa’s independent power producer (IPP) program, the development bank said in an statement emailed to the Bloomberg wire service on Friday 10/16.

The letter of intent is not a funding commitment. A lot of work lies ahead for NuScale, for South Africa, and the bank which has said that it has an upper limit of $1 billion for new nuclear projects. The bank has a separate fund for technology development, but it isn’t clear how much funding is available for a single applicant or whether NuScale would quality for it. The intent of both funds is to spur development in non-OECD countries.

Diane Hughes, Vice President, Marketing & Communications, said in an emailed statement;

“NuScale is excited to work with the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) to explore the applications of our groundbreaking technology to provide clean, cost-effective energy to South Africa. The signed Letter of Intent by the DFC marks an important step in the process to bring the first and only, approved, U.S. small modular reactor to the African continent and support the growing energy demands and resilience needs of South Africa. We are committed to working with the DFC to support its comprehensive process as we collaborate with entities in South Africa interested in NuScale’s energy solutions.”

The 2500 MW figure is the same power rating as cited by the South African government in a draft energy plan released last May. At 60MW each, it would take 42 of NuScale’s SMRs, or 3+ of its 12 SMR plants, to hit that number in terms of generating capacity.

At $4,000/Kw, which is a plausible competitive benchmark that NuScale could hit with factory production of multiple units, the cost of the entire program would be $8-10 billion including grid upgrades.

With South Africa’s history of demands for localization of the supply chain for new nuclear projects, it is likely that NuScale would have to build a factory in that country to assemble the reactors and work with the government to capitalize a supply chain to feed it.

According to Bloomberg, South Africa’s government recently drafted an economic recovery plan in conjunction with business and labor groups in a bargaining forum known as the National Economic Development and Labour Council. The action was in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

A version of the strategy that was discussed by the cabinet and reportedly was seen by Bloomberg this week, includes recommendations to secure reliable energy supply through the construction of new nuclear plants.

Great Ideas Need Lots of Funding – Where is it?

The draft strategy calls for $1.4 billion to be spent on private investment in infrastructure. However, as is typical of grand plans put forth by the South African government, no one is quite sure where the money is coming from.

Eskom, the state-owned nuclear utility, has been broke for years due to the refusal by the government to raise rates to cover infrastructure improvements including new generation capacity.

Coal is the Key Competitor

Another issue is that South Africa has a new coal fired power plant, the Medupi power station, situated north of Johannesburg, which produces 4,800MW of electricity. It is the 8th largest coal fired plant in the world.

With a 60 year life cycle, it’s likely that coal interests in South Africa have engaged in significant efforts to influence the government to not bring competing power sources, such as nuclear energy, into the mix. The five biggest coal mining companies are responsible for approximately 85% of all the coal production. These companies are; Anglo American PLC, Sasol Mining, Glencore Xstrata, Exxaro and South32’s South Africa Energy Coal.

South Africa has proven reserves equivalent to 173.3 times its annual consumption. In other words, South Africa has more than a century and a half of coal supplies for the Medupi plant or its successors. South Africa holds 35,053 million tons (MMst) of proven coal reserves as of 2016, ranking 8th in the world and accounting for about 3% of the world’s total coal reserves.

History of Prior Efforts for Nuclear Energy in South Africa

In May 2020 South Africa’s Director of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe told the nation’s legislative body that his agency is developing a road map for 2,500MW of nuclear-powered generating capacity with the procurement process completed by 2024.

The South African plan is to allow vendors to self-finance 100% of the cost which means the national government will not provide any funding. This policy opens the door to all types of technologies and reactors sizes from big iron at 1,000MW or more to small modular reactors (SMRs) that range from 50-300MW.

The agency said it will issue a request for information to assess the market with a focus on SMRs. However, Mr. Mantashe said that all options are being explored and if the market indicates one design is more affordable and can e built more efficiently; he wants to go with it. However, at the time he did not say when his agency would expect a vendor to break ground nor did he specify LWR v. advanced reactor designs as preferences.

He told the Reuters wire service, “We may give a company a right to develop a nuclear station (modular or other) on a build, operate, and transfer basis. It means there is no  funding from the state.”

The announcement immediately ran into significant challenges. Opposition leader Kevin Mileham questioned whether the 100% vendor financed approach would work and discounted the feasibility of the short time line to issue and evaluate a tender for the reactors.

Additionally, he pointed to the national government’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for 2019 which he said makes no mention of nuclear energy at least the next decade.

The Mining Weekly, a trade publication, checked the IRP found that there is a brief mention of “preparations for nuclear energy,” but no mention of a specific level of generating capacity nor a timeline for a procurement nor starting work on a new power station.

Past Efforts to Launch a Nuclear Energy Program Have Not Been Successful

In 2018 South Africa halted an ambitious plan put forward by then President Jacob Zuma that would have inked a deal with Russia’s Rosatom for eight 1,200 MW VVER nuclear reactors at a projected cost of between $30-to-$50 billion dollars. Rosatom’s terms were that it would provide 50% of the financing.

The plan died for three reasons.

  • The first is that is South Africa couldn’t afford it, even with generous financial terms from any vendor, given the condition of its economy.
  • The second is that Zuma’s administration was rife with allegations of corruption and nepotism.
  • The third was the lack of transparency related to how the procurement process for the deal was done. It came about as a result of a “secret” meeting between Zuma and Russian President Vladimir Putin in a side meeting at a development conference in Brazil. No tender had been released for the project prior to that meeting.

Eskom Out of Position to Lead Financially

Separately, the nation’s economy has been hobbled by a series of electricity brown outs due to a lack of electrical power and an aging grid infrastructure. Eskom, the state owned utility, has been thwarted in its requests to raise rates as the government uses cheap electricity as a way to address the appalling levels of poverty in the country. The government has also declined to subsidize Eskom directly.

A proposed turnaround plan for Eskom has been put on hold due to the Coronia virus pandemic. Eskom’s turnaround plan includes proposed debt transfer to the government, cost containment, operational reforms and the company’s unbundling into three separate entities (generation, transmission and distribution). In April 2020 the Fitch rating service downgraded ESKOM’s massive unsecured debt as a result.

Conditions for financing a new nuclear program remain difficult as the country’s economy, like many others, has taken a deep dive into a major recession adding to the country’s budget deficit.

South Africa has one nuclear power station which is the Koeberg plant that was connected to the grid in 1984. It is composed of two 970 MW PWR type units.

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DOE Awards UAMPS $1.355 Billion for NuScale SMR in Idaho

  • DOE Cost-share Award of $1.355 billion Approved for UAMPS NuScale SMR in Idaho
  • Framatome and General Atomics In Joint Effort to Build Fast SMR
  • Canadian Government Invests in SMR Commercialization Plan
  • Terrestrial Energy USA and Centrus Energy Partner on Fuel Supply for IMSR Generation IV Nuclear Plants
  • TerraPower To Work with Bechtel On Natrium Reactor Project
  • Bulgaria to Consider U.S. Technology for New Kozloduy Nuclear Reactor

DOE Cost-share Award of $1.355 billion
Approved for UAMPS NuScale SMR in Idaho

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has approved a multi-year cost-share award to a new special purpose entity named the Carbon Free Power Project, LLC (CFPP, LLC) for the development and construction of the Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP)

nuscale SMR

Conceptual image of NuScale 50 MW SMR. Image: NuScale

It will built a 720 MWe NuScale small modular reactor power plant to be located at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory site. This award will serve as a funding vehicle to advance the CFPP as funds are appropriated by Congress.

The award demonstrates the importance of the CFPP, which will be the first NuScale small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) project in the United States.

CFPP LLC is wholly owned by Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS).

The $1.355 billion award, allocated over 10 years, will fund the one-time costs for the first-of-a-kind project, as funds are appropriated by Congress, to reflect what second and subsequent NuScale plants would cost. This will help ensure that the levelized cost of energy target price of $55 MWh can be achieved at a level of risk UAMPS can manage.

That price makes the CFPP competitive with other non- intermittent dispatchable energy sources like combined cycle natural gas plants, but without greenhouse gas emissions. It will ensure long-term affordable energy to UAMPS member participants while avoiding exposure to greenhouse regulation and compliance costs.

The 12 small modular reactors in the project will provide the flexibility to ramp up and down as needed to follow load and complement intermittent renewable supply. The plan calls for construction of the 60 MW design which has not yet been approved by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).  Earlier this year the 50 MW design completed its safety design review with the regulatory agency.

Energy from the project will replace electric generation from coal plants that are nearing the end of their life cycles. The CFPP, combined with UAMPS renewable projects, will enable many members to completely decarbonize their energy portfolios.

CFPP is a 720 MWe nuclear plant to be located at the Idaho National Laboratory near Idaho Falls, Idaho. It will be composed of 12 60 MWe nuclear power modules to be provided by NuScale Power based in Portland, Oregon. Electricity from the plant will be distributed to customers of 33 UAMPS member utilities in five states. Other western utilities are expected to join the project in the future.

“We appreciate this tremendous vote of confidence in CFPP by the Department of Energy,” said Douglas Hunter, UAMPS CEO & General Manager.

“It is entirely appropriate for DOE to help de-risk this first-of-a- kind, next-generation nuclear project. This is a great example of a partnership with DOE to lower the cost of introduction of transformative advanced nuclear technology that will provide affordable, carbon- free electricity all over the country and the world. This project is much bigger than UAMPS itself.”

Hunter said UAMPS members are especially supportive of the project because it will complement and enable additional intermittent renewable energy, especially wind and solar, that are being added to member energy portfolios.

“The ideal world for utility companies and their customers, and the most cost-effective,” said Hunter, “are portfolios containing a high percentage of low-cost renewables, backed up by stable, carbon-free nuclear energy that is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”

The CFPP has received strong bipartisan support across several administrations and has broad support in the U.S. Congress. The SMR technology will help UAMPS’ participating member communities, states, and regions to meet their goals to de-carbonize the electrical grid.

About the Carbon Free Power Project

About UAMPS. Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems is an energy services interlocal agency of the State of Utah, established in 1980. As a project-based consortium, UAMPS provides a variety of power supply, transmission, and other services to its 47 members, which include public power utilities in six western states: Utah, California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wyoming.

Framatome and General Atomics
in Joint Effort to Build Fast SMR

framatome3-e1582621045657Framatome and General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) announced plans to collaborate on the development of GA-EMS helium-cooled 50-MWe fast modular reactor (FMR).

The joint effort will develop a reactor design that can be built in a factory and assembled on-site, which helps to reduce capital costs and enables incremental capacity additions.

Framatome’s U.S. engineering team will be responsible for designing several critical structures, systems and components for the FMR.  The firm is also a major supplier of nuclear fuels. It has teamed with General Atomics to produce accident tolerant fuels.

Only a few technical details or images of conceptual design features are available. The company issued a statement to the media this week regarding the technical innovations in the new project. So far no customer has been named by the collaboration for the first of a kind unit nor has it indicated yet how its supply chain will be set up.

A demonstration of the FMR, which will verify the design, manufacturing, construction and operation of the technology, is targeted for completion in the early 2030s. Commercial deployment is anticipated in the mid-2030s.

Key Design Elements

Load following – The FMR is being designed for enhanced safety and ease of operation with fast-response load following and overall high efficiency. It will offer stability for the electricity grid and reportedly be able respond to meet demand based on the wide variation in generation of electricity from renewable energy sources. The gas-cooled FMR uses inert helium gas as a coolant while eliminating the need for the graphite common in other helium-cooled designs.

No water required – Because the reactor is dry-cooled and uses virtually no water to operate, it can be sited at locations that can’t support light water reactors that require an external source of a significant supply of water for the steam and cooling system. The power conversion does not use complex steam generators and pressurizers, and the fuel will operate for approximately 9 years before requiring replacement.

This fact suggests the design will use HALEU type fuel with an enrichment level higher than 5% U235 but not higher than 19% U235. Other high temperature helium cooled reactor designs have favored using TRISO “pebbles” as fuel elements.  Some HTGR designs have used a molten salt loop to step down the heat to conventional levels and then to run a water based steam generator. This design appears to take the heat directly from the reactor.  See this briefing (PDF file) by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency on an HTGR that uses the Brayton cycle with a gas turbine.

Automatic controls – The direct helium Brayton cycle using a gas turbine will enable fast grid response, with up to a 20% per minute power ramping rate for load following, and high overall efficiency of 45% during normal operation. The automatic control of the reactor power and turbomachinery will keep the reactor at a constant temperature that mitigates thermal cycle fatigue associated with most load-following reactors.  Direct use of the helium coming out of the reactor vessel implies advanced materials to deal with the extreme heat at the outlet that could exceed 700 C.

“This collaboration builds on our long relationship with General Atomics with a shared interest in advancing nuclear energy technologies to create a cleaner world for generations to come,” said Bernard Fontana, CEO of Framatome.

“Designing and deploying a safe, cost-effective, modular reactor is critical in helping the world move closer towards a clean energy future,” stated Scott Forney, president of GA-EMS. “We look forward to leveraging our two companies’ decades of experience in advancing nuclear technology and demonstrating the next generation of commercially viable nuclear reactors.”

“We are pleased to work with GA-EMS to advance this innovative and promising reactor,” said Gary Mignogna, president and CEO of Framatome in North America. “The synergies between our teams make this an ideal project for demonstration and subsequent commercialization.”

This is a new effort by GA. The firm has been and may still be working on a GA’s Energy Multiplier Module (EM2).  The company’s statement about new effort makes no mention of it.

Prior work by GA on an Advanced SMR

The EM2 is a helium-cooled gas turbine fast reactor with a core outlet temperature of 850°C. It is designed as a modular, grid-capable power source with a net unit output of 265 MWe. The reactor employs a “convert and burn” core design which converts fertile isotopes to fissile and burns them in situ over a 30-year core life.  (IAEA ARIS status report)

The reactor is sited in a below-grade sealed containment and uses passive safety methods for heat removal and reactivity control to protect the integrity of the fuel, reactor vessel and containment. EM2 also employs a direct closed-cycle gas turbine power conversion unit for added efficiency.

Canadian Government Invests in SMR Commercialization Plan

(NucNet) The Canadian government took a step forward on its national small modular reactor (SMR) plan with an investment to help Terrestrial Energy, an Ontario company, move closer to commercializing its Generation IV reactor technology. A $15M investment will help with pre-licensing of SMR.

Canada’s innovation ministry said the CAD20M ($15.1M) investment will help Terrestrial Energy complete a pre-licensing milestone at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) for its technology, which is part of an effort to bring next-generation nuclear energy to industry. The firm entered Phase II of the CNSC Vendor Design Review (VDR) process in December 2018. Completion of a VDR does not license a reactor . A VDR is a feedback mechanism that enables CNSC staff to provide feedback early in the design process based on a vendor’s reactor technology.

As part of the investment, the company has committed to creating and maintaining 186 jobs and creating 52 co-op positions nationally. In addition, Terrestrial Energy is spending at least another $91.5 million in research and development.

Throughout the two and a half year project, Terrestrial will engage with its Canadian nuclear supply chain, potentially creating over a thousand jobs nationally. It will also undertake gender equity and diversity initiatives, including increasing female representation in STEM fields.

This is the first investment from the government’s strategic innovation fund for an SMR. Terrestrial Energy’s Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) power plant, according to the company, to be 50% more efficient than traditional reactors and suited for deployment in remote communities and industrial operations, including on-grid and off-grid power provision.

TEI-ISMR-HowItWorks-Diagram

Conceptual image of Terrestrial Energy Molten Salt Nuclear Reactor Design and Applications

The announcement comes just one week after Ontario Power Generation announced it will advance work with Terrestrial Energy and two other grid-scale SMR developers as part of the utility’s goal to deploy SMR technology.

Ontario-based Terrestrial Energy, established in 2013, is proposing to build a 195-MW IMSR at Chalk River in Canada. It wants to commission the first IMSR power plants in the late 2020s.

The company said IMSR plants can be built in four years and produce electricity or industrial heat at prices competitive with fossil fuels while emitting no greenhouse gases. They can provide energy for generating on-grid electric power and heat for industrial processes, such as hydrogen production, synthetic fuel production, natural resource extraction, and desalination.

“The Government of Canada supports the use of this innovative technology to help deliver cleaner energy sources and build on Canada’s global leadership in SMRs,” said Minister Bains.

“By helping to bring these small reactors to market, we are supporting significant environmental and economic benefits, including generating energy with reduced emissions, highly skilled-job creation and Canadian intellectual property development.”

“SMRs are a game-changing technology with the potential to play a critical role in fighting climate change, and rebuilding our post COVID-19 economy,” said Hon. Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Natural Resources.

Terrestrial Energy USA and Centrus Energy Partner
on Fuel Supply for IMSR Generation IV Nuclear Plants

centrrus logoTerrestrial Energy USA and Centrus Energy Corp. have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to secure fuel supply for a future fleet of Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) power plants.

The two companies will evaluate the logistical, regulatory, and transportation requirements to establish fuel supply for Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) power plants, which use standard-assay low-enriched uranium (LEU).

Standard-assay LEU has an enrichment level less than 5% U-235 and is the current industry standard for today’s commercial nuclear plants in the United States and worldwide. While employing Generation IV technology, IMSR power plants are designed to use standard-assay LEU fuel, and this provides important advantages for rapid commercial deployment.

Centrus Energy is a supplier of nuclear fuel and services to the nuclear power industry. In addition to uranium enrichment and standard-assay LEU supply, Centrus Energy has expertise in the design and licensing of packaging for nuclear fuel transportation. As part of a program to establish a supply chain for IMSR fuel, the companies will study the regulatory requirements for transportation from the fuel fabrication facility to the plant. They will also evaluate packaging options for fuel shipment.

“Terrestrial Energy’s Integral Molten Salt Reactor technology can play a critical role in bringing affordable, reliable, carbon-free next-generation nuclear power to market, and we look forward to helping make that happen,” said Daniel B. Poneman, President and CEO of Centrus.

“Centrus Energy has global experience in fuel supply and transportation, and provides these important services for the safe and reliable operation of today’s nuclear power plants,” said Terrestrial Energy’s CEO, Simon Irish.

TerraPower To Work with Bechtel On Natrium Reactor Project

TerraPower, the US-based innovation company founded by Bill Gates, has selected US-based Bechtel as the design, licensing, procurement, and construction partner for building a demonstration plant for the Natrium reactor technology.

projmgt file imageThe move is part of the TerraPower-led proposal for the US Department of Energy’s advanced reactor demonstration program, which is intended to support the deployment of two first-of-a-kind advanced reactor designs in the next five to seven years.

Bechtel joins a team that also includes GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, PacifiCorp, Energy Northwest, and Duke Energy. Bechtel has designed, built, or provided services to 80 nuclear reactors in the United States and 150 worldwide, across all major reactor designs.

The Natrium system, unveiled in August, features an advanced, sodium fast reactor with a molten salt energy storage system based on those used in solar thermal generation.

The Natrium system features an advanced, sodium fast reactor along with an  molten salt energy storage system based on those used in solar thermal generation. The Natrium technology also separates nuclear and non-nuclear facilities and systems within the plant footprint, with the objective of simplifying the licensing process and lowering construction costs.

TerraPower said that breakthroughs in sodium fast reactor technology allow the Natrium reactor to operate at much higher temperatures and lower pressures than conventional nuclear reactors, with heat being also used for industrial processes or stored in molten salt.

Bulgaria to Consider U.S. Technology
for New Kozloduy Nuclear Reactor

(wire services) Bulgaria will consider using U.S. technology (Westinghouse?) for a new nuclear reactor it wants to build at the country’s 2,000 megawatt Kozloduy nuclear power plant, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said this week. 

Borissov said the Balkan country was looking to diversify its nuclear energy assets and cut greenhouse emissions by building a new reactor based on modern technology that will work with U.S. commercial nuclear energy fuel for LWRs.

Bulgaria operates two Soviet-made nuclear reactors, Unit 5 and Unit 6, at its Kozloduy plant. For quite some time it has been seeking investors for its Belene project to build two 1,000 megawatt Russian nuclear reactors. (See WNA profile of Bulgaria’s nuclear energy program)

“We want to make Unit 7 with a completely different technology, with different nuclear fuel,” Borissov said in a post and video on his official Facebook account during a visit to the plant on the Danube River in northwestern Bulgaria.

Borissov’s statement comes days after a visit of U.S. top energy diplomat Frank Fannon to Sofia, who slammed the 10 billion euros ($11.8 billion) Belene project as being based on an outdated Russian technology that fails to advance Bulgaria’s energy security and locks its energy dependency to Russia.

NucNet reported that according to the BTA news agency, energy minister Temenuzhka Petkova told the Bulgarian parliament’s energy committee of the decision and said the rationale behind the move is the European Union’s policy of decarbonization and net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

She told Bulgarian television that the project for a new reactor at Kozloduy would not necessarily prevent the development of an existing project to build two Russian reactor units at a new site. Belene, about 160 km east of Kozloduy.

In the past several western nuclear reactor vendors have passed on taking on the role of EPC for a new build in Bulgaria due to problems with the stability of the government’s commitment and allegations of corruption in and outside of the government. For its part, Russia has regarded Bulgaria as a captive market and has sought to defend its place as a preferred developer of new nuclear plants in that country

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DOE Awards $80M each to TerraPower, X-Energy for ARDP

U.S. Department of Energy Announces $160 million in
First Awards Under Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program

nricThe U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today (10/13/20)) announced it has selected two U.S.-based teams to receive $160 million in initial funding under the new Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP). ARDP, announced in May, is designed to help domestic private industry demonstrate advanced nuclear reactors in the United States.

DOE is awarding TerraPower LLC (Bellevue, WA) and X-energy (Rockville, MD) $80 million each in initial funding to build two advanced nuclear reactors that can be operational within seven years.

The awards are cost-shared partnerships with industry that will deliver two first-of-a-kind advanced reactors to be licensed for commercial operations. The Department will invest a total of $3.2 billion over seven years, subject to the availability of future appropriations, with our industry partners providing matching funds.

“The awards are the first step of a new program that will strengthen American leadership in the next generation of nuclear technologies,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette.

“These partnerships will help maximize DOE’s investment in advanced reactors, which play a vital role in our clean energy strategy.”

Secretary Brouillette said DOE would spend $3.2B over the next seven years on ARDP subject to appropriations.  This award is part of phase 1 of the program. (See below for information on Phases 2 & 3)

Update 10/14/20Additional details on the awards by DOE Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Rita Baranwal

Specifically, TerraPower will demonstrate the Natrium reactor, a sodium‐cooled fast reactor that leverages decades of development and design undertaken by TerraPower and its partner, GE‐Hitachi.

The high-operating temperature of the Natrium reactor, coupled with thermal energy storage, will allow the plant to provide flexible electricity output that complements variable renewable generation such as wind a solar. In addition, this project will establish a new metal fuel fabrication facility that is scaled to meet the needs of this demonstration program.

X-energy will deliver a commercial four-unit nuclear power plant based on its Xe-100 reactor design. The Xe-100 is a high temperature gas-cooled reactor that is ideally suited to provide flexible electricity output as well as process heat for a wide range of industrial heat applications, such as desalination and hydrogen production. The project will also deliver a commercial scale TRi-structural ISOtropic particle fuel (TRISO) fuel fabrication facility, leveraging DOE’s substantial investment in development of this highly robust fuel form.

Both projects incorporate a range of design features that will not only enhance safety, but make them affordable to construct and operate, paving the way for the United States to deploy highly competitive advanced reactors domestically and globally.

“DOE and U.S. industry are extremely well-equipped to develop and demonstrate nuclear reactors with the requisite sense of urgency, which is important not only to our economy, but to our environment, because nuclear energy is clean energy,” said Dr. Rita Baranwal, Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy.

Congress appropriated $160 million for the Fiscal Year 2020 budget as initial funding for these demonstration projects. Funding beyond the near-term is contingent on additional future appropriations, evaluations of satisfactory progress and DOE approval of continuation applications.

ARDP Has Three Phases – this is Phase 1

Applicants tot he ARDP can receive support through three different development and demonstration pathways:

  • Advanced reactor demonstrations, which are expected to result in a fully functional advanced nuclear reactor within 7 years of the award.
  • Risk reduction for future demonstrations, which will support up to five additional teams resolving technical, operational, and regulatory challenges to prepare for future demonstration opportunities.
  • Advanced reactor concepts 2020 (ARC 20), which will support innovative and diverse designs with potential to commercialize in the mid-2030s.

ADRP will leverage the National Reactor Innovation Center to efficiently test and assess ARD technologies by engaging the world-renowned capabilities of the national laboratory system to move these reactors from blueprints to reality. (Overview of NRIC – PDF file)

In addition, the Fiscal Year 2020 appropriation also provided initial year funding of $30 million for two to five Risk Reduction for Future Demonstrations projects and $20 million initial year funding for at least two Advanced Reactor Concepts-20 (ARC-20) projects. Awards for these projects are expected to be announced in December 2020.

ANS Statement on DOE Advanced Reactor Demonstration Funding Awards

The American Nuclear Society congratulates TerraPower and X-energy for being chosen by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to participate in the cost-sharing Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP).

“The successful demonstration of TerraPower and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy’s Natrium and X-energy’s Xe-100 reactor designs through the cost-sharing ARDP partnership, will help kickoff a new chapter in U.S. nuclear technology advancement,” said Craig Piercy, CEO and Executive Director of ANS.

“America’s nuclear professionals are ready to design, build and operate these advanced nuclear technologies,” Piercy said. “The deployment of American-designed advanced reactors around the world means job growth and new career opportunities for our nuclear professionals but also progress in halting climate change.”

“The ARDP is a great start but we can’t rest on our laurels,” continued Piercy. “We need continued robust federal research and development funding for nuclear innovation and implementing climate policies that are performance-based and technology-neutral, such as carbon pricing.”

According to Third Way analysis, the global market for nuclear reactors is expected to average at least $75 billion annually – not including fuel and maintenance contracts.

“Commercialization of U.S. advanced nuclear technologies could create tens of thousands of new jobs in nuclear engineering, manufacturing and construction,” said Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar, President of ANS.

“Along with reestablishing U.S. competitiveness in nuclear exports, advanced reactors will also help improve living standards by supplying clean energy security to developing economies,” Dunzik-Gougar said.

NEI Applauds DOE Funding Commitment

Maria Korsnick, president and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute said, ““Today’s announcement signifies a pivotal development for the United States. The ARDP builds on the momentum already seen through the dozens of companies investing in the next generation of nuclear technologies.”

“Rapid progress on the pathway towards deployment is more critical than ever to address our climate challenges and secure a carbon-free future across the world. The advanced reactors designs selected by DOE will also be able to support non-electricity applications, opening the door for nuclear to play new roles in our nation’s efforts to decarbonize.”

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Posted in Nuclear | 1 Comment

Ontario Power Boosts Prospects for Three SMRs

  • Ontario Power Boosts Prospects for Three SMRs
  • Bruce Power & Westinghouse Team Up for SMRs
  • Cernavoda / US And Romania To Sign $8B Agreements For New Reactors
  • CANDU Owners Group, Nuclear Energy Agency to collaborate on PHWRs
  • UK / UK Considers Equity Stake In New Reactors
  • UK / Prime Minister Is Backing Plans For Fleet Of SMRs
  • Floating Nuclear Plants / South Korea Companies Sign MoU On Development

Ontario Power Boosts Prospects for Three SMRs

nuclear iconOntario Power Generation (OPG) announced this week it is advancing engineering and design work with three grid-scale Small Modular Reactor (SMR) developers: GE Hitachi, Terrestrial Energy and X-energy. The announcement is the result of several ongoing processes with the developers, other Canadian nuclear utilities, and with several Canadian provinces.

The action by OPG accelerates the development of SMRs in Canada and places significant bets on the commercial prospects for three distinct types of advanced nuclear reactor technologies.

For a detailed analysis of this development, including a brief overview of the technical scope of  contributions by the three reactor developers, see the report by Power Engineering reporter Sonal Patel.

Ken Hartwick, OPG President and CEO, said in a press statement “OPG is leveraging more than 50 years of nuclear experience to support the development of carbon-free nuclear technology.”

“Our work with these three developers, along with our Global First Power partnership with Ultra-Safe Nuclear Corporation and its SMR project to support remote energy needs, demonstrates OPG’s unique position to become a world leader in SMRs,”

“SMRs will play a key role in helping to reinvigorate Ontario’s economy and further support the province and Canada as they work toward meeting their climate change targets of zero-emission electricity.”

On December 1, 2019, the Provinces of Ontario, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that puts into place a framework for action on the deployment of SMRs in their respective jurisdictions. In August 2020, Alberta also signaled their intention to enter into the MOU.

canadareactormap

Map of Canada’s nuclear power plants and uranium mines

OPG recently concluded a due diligence process, in collaboration with other major energy utilities, to advance the development of an SMR in Ontario that would pave the way for the potential deployment of SMRs in other jurisdictions.

The deployment of Small Modular Reactors in Ontario would do the following;

  • capitalize on the existing nuclear supply chain within the province
  • enable other provinces to transition away from coal;
  • provide alternative energy options to benefit energy intensive industries;
  • drive national job creation and innovation;
  • facilitate deep, economically sustainable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions;
  • accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to a zero emissions electrical grid in Canada.

Quick Facts

Nuclear power is the backbone of Ontario’s electricity system and provides affordable and reliable energy 24/7 – avoiding 45 million tonnes of CO2 emissions each year.

The Canadian nuclear industry is growing in size and now accounts for 76,000 jobs across Canada (an increase from 60,000 jobs in 2012), with most of those jobs concentrated in Ontario.

SMRs, like traditional nuclear reactors, are designed to provide safe, reliable, carbon-free electricity, and offer lower capital cost and faster deployment than current reactors.

By generating up to 300MW of electrical power, SMRs are expected to be a reliable alternate energy source to replace diesel in rural communities and mines and to eliminate the need for coal plants.

Bruce Power & Westinghouse Team Up for SMRs

nuclear batteryBruce Power and Westinghouse Electric Company announced this week an agreement to pursue applications of Westinghouse’s eVinci micro reactor program within Canada.

The eVinci micro reactor is a next-generation, small nuclear battery for decentralized generation markets and micro grids such as remote communities, remote industrial mines. and critical infrastructure.

It is designed to provide competitive and resilient power and superior reliability with minimal maintenance and its small size allows for standard transportation methods and rapid, on-site deployment. The reactor core is designed to run for three or more years, eliminating the need for frequent refueling.

The key benefits of the eVinci Micro Reactor are attributed to its technical profile which include a solid core and advanced heat pipes. The heat pipes enable passive core heat extraction, allowing autonomous operation and inherent load following capabilities. These advanced technologies together make the eVinci Micro Reactor, in effect, a “solid-state” reactor with minimal moving parts.

Over the next year, the work between the two companies will focus on assessing the economic, social and environmental contribution of the eVinci technology compared to alternates such as diesel or other fossil fuels; identifying potential industrial applications.

“Bruce Power and Westinghouse Canada have a strong existing relationship and as Canada seeks new innovative options to build on its existing clean, CO2-free nuclear advantage, this is an exciting opportunity to advance further towards a Net Zero Canada by 2050,” said Mike Rencheck, President and CEO of Bruce Power.

“Bruce Power will leverage our relationships and capacity within the Nuclear Innovation Institute (NII) and Laurentian University-based Mining Innovation, Rehabilitation and Applied Research Corporation (MIRARCO) towards this exciting opportunity for Canada.”

“Small modular and micro reactors represent an incredible opportunity to bring GHG-emission free, affordable energy to the farthest regions of our province, supporting resource and economic development across our country,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines.

“Our eVinci technology can provide clean, reliable energy to remote areas and industrial applications across Canada,” said Patrick Fragman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Westinghouse Electric Company.

This agreement is the latest partnership between Bruce Power, Westinghouse and key Canadian stakeholders to work towards Canada’s Net Zero by 2050 goal. This follows a Westinghouse presentation on the eVinci program at a conference hosted by the Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries (OCNI) last month and attended by 200 people from leading Canadian suppliers.

Cernavoda / US And Romania To Sign $8B Agreements For New Reactors

trasury check(NucNet) Romania has signed a cooperation and financing agreements with the US on Friday for the refurbishment of one nuclear power reactor and the completion of construction of two more at the Cernavoda nuclear power station, US ambassador to Romania Adrian Zuckerman said this week.

Romania will invest €8-9B to complete the two new plants, Units #3 & #4, which are CANDU type PHWRs. The projects are planned, based on the new financing, to be completed by 2030.

US is in, China is Out

The agreement culminates a series of events that took place over the past six years in which the U.S. has successfully blocked efforts by Chinese State Owned nuclear enterprises to win the business from Romania.

Press reports in Romania said CGN had been criticized by Romania’s “strategic partners” over security issues tied to the use of Chinese technology. Reports also said there had been cost concerns related to the Cernavoda project.

Cooperation between Nuclearelectrica and CGN hit the rocks after Romania’s president Klaus Iohannis and US president Donald Trump signed a joint declaration in Washington last year that called for closer cooperation between US and Romania in nuclear energy.

Romanian Energy Minister Comes to DC to Pick Up an $8B check

In a statement posted on the US Embassy in Romania’s website, Mr Zuckerman said Romania’s energy minister Virgil-Daniel Popescu met with US energy secretary Dan Brouillette in Washington to initial an intergovernmental cooperation agreement for the refurbishment of one nuclear reactor and the building of two new reactors at Cernavoda.

“Nuclear energy is crucial to ensuring Romania has a reliable, affordable, and emissions-free supply of electricity, and the U.S. nuclear industry looks forward to providing their expertise to advance this important energy source,” said DOE Secretary Brouillette.

That same day Mr Popescu met with the president and chair of the US Exim Bank, Kimberley Reed, to execute a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the financing of the Cernavoda nuclear project and other projects in Romania.

The financing package is the largest financing package ever received by Romania  from the US.

Cernavoda has two commercially operational CANDU 6 pressurized heavy water reactors supplied by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd and built under the supervision of a Canadian-Italian consortium of AECL and Ansaldo.

Unit 1 began commercial operation in 1996. Unit 2 was subsequently completed and began commercial operation in 2007. Efforts to resume work on Cernavodă-3 and -4 began in 2003.

The Cernavoda -3 and -4 project consists of completing and commissioning two CANDU 6 type units with a minimum installed capacity of 720 MW each. According to Nuclearelectrica existing structures for the two units include the reactor building, the turbine-generator building and hydrotechnical circuit structures. These are in various stages of completion and will be used for any future construction.

US construction and engineering firm AECOM will be the EPC and lead the $8 billion project to complete two reactors at Romania’s nuclear power plant on the river Danube and refurbish one of its existing units, Romania’s Economy Ministry said in a statement after the US agreement was signed.

CANDU Owners Group, Nuclear Energy Agency to collaborate on PHWRs

(WNN) The OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) and the CANDU Owners Group (COG) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to cooperate in research and activities related to pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWRs). The purpose of the MOU is to advance the scientific and technical knowledge base for PHWRs and foster cooperation amongst research organizations that support PHWRs.

The MOU outlines the scope of a five-year agreement and provides a framework for collaboration between the NEA and COG. Under the new framework, the organizations will develop joint research activities and workshops, and exchange project on a range of technical subjects.

The PHWR has been developed since the 1950s in Canada as the CANDU, and from 1980s also in India. PHWRs generally use natural uranium oxide as fuel, and hence need a more efficient moderator, in this case heavy water. The PHWR produces more energy per kilogram of mined uranium than other designs, but also produces a much larger amount of used fuel per unit output.

candui-schematric

Newer PHWR designs, such as the Advanced CANDU reactor, have light water cooling and slightly-enriched fuel. CANDU reactors can accept a variety of fuels. They may be run on recycled uranium from reprocessing light-water reactor (LWR) used fuel, or a blend of this and depleted uranium left over from enrichment plants.

The Canadian-designed CANDU, are currently in operation in four of its member countries: Argentina, Canada, South Korea and Romania. NEA said it is reaching out to India and China to explore their interest in participating in the project. Both nations have operating CANDU plants.

“The NEA has done much to bring countries together to conduct research in areas particularly related to nuclear safety. We have not, however, done very much in the area of PHWRs as the vast majority of our members operate LWRs,” said NEA Director General William Magwood.

The Candu Owners Group is a private, not-for-profit corporation funded voluntarily by CANDU operating utilities worldwide, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories and supplier participants.

The NEA facilitates cooperation among countries with advanced nuclear technology infrastructures to seek excellence in nuclear safety, technology, science, related environmental and economic matters and law.

UK / UK Considers Equity Stake In New Reactors

(NucNet) The UK government is considering taking an equity stake in new nuclear power plants as part of the financing measures being put forward to advance the nations nuclear new build program

The announcement comes in the wake of the calamitous departure of Hitachi from the Wylfa and Oldbury nuclear projects which, if built, would represent 5,400 MW of CO2 emission free electrical generation capacity.

Hitachi quit because the UK government low-balled its offer for equity investment and rate guarantees for the projects. Also, it continued to dither over whether to implement the regulated asset base (RAB) method of financing the plants which is a “pay as you go” method of covering construction costs.

The nuclear industry has been calling for the introduction of the regulated asset base (RAB) proposal for the financing of nuclear power plants. The government has already said the model has the potential to reduce the cost of raising private finance.

The Times, London, reported that EDF wants a tax on UK household energy bills to help pay for Sizewell C, with other options including the British government taking a stake.

The UK Treasury is looking at having “a portion of equity from the government being invested” as a way of backing nuclear energy, energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng said during discussions at the ruling Conservative Party conference.

“It would be unrealistic to say that all the finance questions have been resolved,” he said.

“There is a broad strategic commitment and the way in which the finance is arrived at and categorized are questions for further debate.”

France’s EDF and China General Nuclear are 80% and 20% shareholders in the Sizewell C project. The cost of the project has been estimated at £18bn.

After Sizewell C, CGN is set to build a single HPR1000, or Hualong One, reactor design at Bradwell in Essex. This project has not been cancelled, but BBC News cited sources in the government, mostly from opponents of the project, saying this idea “‘looks dead”, given security concerns and deteriorating diplomatic relations between London and Beijing.

The project could be revived if the UK government and China find ways to settle their differences and fund both the Sizewell C project, with a 20% equity stake from CGN, and fund the Bradwell project, which could include up to thee Hualong One Units.

The HPR1000 is a China-designed 1,100-MW Generation III pressurized water reactor which incorporates elements of China’s ACP1000 and ACPR1000+ reactor designs.

On the other hand, the UK government could be pursuing a deliberate policy of causing foreign nuclear reactor vendors to exit the market to insure 100% of the supply chain is addressed by UK firms. This would be consistent with the UK’s BREXIT policy of separation of the UK from the European Union

UK / Prime Minister Is Backing Plans For Fleet Of SMRs

(NucNet) UK prime minister Boris Johnson is backing plans to spend £1.5B-2.4B of public money on a fleet of up to 16 small modular reactors, as part of a project being proposed by a nine-member industrial consortium, the Financial Times reported.

The money would be sufficient to pay for the first of a kind 440MW unit, a PWR, to be built by Rolls-Royce. A nine-member consortium led by engineering companies Rolls-Royce, Laing O’Rourke and Atkins wants to build the 16 SMRs by 2050.

The consortium, which also includes the National Nuclear Laboratory, will seek additional funding of at least £2bn, including from private investors and the capital markets. The government could also commission the first SMR, giving confidence to suppliers and investors.

Rolls-Royce has said the target cost for each new SMR is £1.8B by the time five have been built, with further savings possible.

The Rolls-Royce design is not complete and has not yet been submitted to the Office of Nuclear Regulation to enter the four year long Generic Design Review to assure that it is safe.

Floating Nuclear Plants / South Korea Companies Sign MoU On Development

(NucNet) South Korea’s Kepco Engineering & Construction Company and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering have signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on the development of floating nuclear power plants.

The two companies said they will develop technology for offshore nuclear power plants equipped with Bandi-60S reactors, a small modular reactor design that Kepco Engineering & Construction has been developing since 2016.

According to documents published by the Korean Nuclear Society, the Bandi-60S is a 60-MW block-type pressurized water reactor unit. The block-type design means the main components are directly connected, nozzle-to-nozzle, instead of using connecting pipes. This can eliminate the risk of a large-break loss-of-coolant accident.

The plant has a fuel cycle of 48-60 months and a design life of 60 years.

Floating nuclear plants are seen as a way of providing energy to remote regions. In May, the world’s only floating nuclear plant, Russia’s Akademik Lomonosov, began commercial operation. The plants are designed to provide power to remote Siberian oil and gas producing communities.

China has also  been developing floating SMRs to power artificial islands on the South China sea as part of its effort to project naval power in that region.

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