Nuclear News Roundup for 12/05/16

Illinois Legislation Votes to Save Nuclear Plants

Close up of a lifebelt5(Power Magazine) The Illinois Legislature approved the Future Energy Jobs Bill (SB 2814) on December 1. The bill will provide the $235 million to be collected from customers annually to keep its Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear power plants open.

The bill will now go to Gov. Rauner (R) for his signature, which is expected. Once signed, it will take effect on June 1, 2017/.

Some groups opposed to the legislation claimed that the typical customer’s bill would increase more than $4/month as a result of the bailout, but Exelon estimated that it would cost the average ComEd residential customer no more than 25¢/month. The company also said the cost to consumers would be much higher ($1.85/month) if the nuclear plants were closed.

Exelon agreed to cap the cost to residential customers at 25¢/month. The legislation also includes protections for all business-class ratepayers, limiting rate increases to 1.3% compared to 2015 rates.

Transatomic Power Corporation Joins the ANSYS Startup Program

Transatomic Power Corporation, a developer of an advanced nuclear reactor design, announced that it has partnered with ANSYS, a developer of engineering simulation, as the company enters its next major research and development phase.

As a member of the ANSYS Startup Program, Transatomic will have access to simulation technology available and help carry the ANSYS brand into the nuclear technology sector.

“The products and services that ANSYS provides are going to be critical to bringing our state-of-the-art advanced nuclear reactor technology closer to commercialization,” said Dr. Leslie Dewan, Transatomic’s co-founder and CEO. “We’re truly grateful for the opportunity to partner with a global leader in this field.”

“There are entrepreneurs with incredible technology ideas out there that can truly make our future a better place,” said Dr. Paul Lethbridge, senior manager, ANSYS Startup Program.

“Abundant energy is a fundamental component of a sustainable future on earth, and it’s thrilling to have game-changing startups like Transatomic Power onboard. The goal of the ANSYS Startup Program is to provide early stage companies like this with the tools they need to become successful and we have no doubt that Transatomic will do just that.”

In a press statement the the company said the initial results using ANSYS software have been promising.

“The ANSYS suite is intuitive, comprehensive, and perfect for the computational work we’re performing,” remarked Senior Design Engineer Sean Robertson. “We look forward to building a strong relationship with ANSYS as we continue to develop our technology’s design.”

Founded in 2011, Transatomic Power the company recently began work with Oak Ridge National Laboratory under the auspices of the Department of Energy’s Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative, and hopes to commercialize its technology by the mid-2020s.

Areva Hopes China’s CNNC, Japan’s MHI Will Agree to Buy Its Stock

(Reuters) – French state-controlled nuclear group Areva hopes that China’s CNNC and Japan’s MHI will agree to buy minority stakes in the firm in coming weeks as part of a restructuring of the loss-making firm, Areva’s chairman said on Wednesday.

Under a government-led rescue, Areva is preparing to split off its uranium mining and nuclear fuel activities into a new company, provisionally called NewCo, which will get a 3 billion euro capital increase as part of a 5 billion euro ($5.28 billion) mainly state-funded cash injection.

Areva’s board chairman Philippe Varin told a parliament committee the firm plans to launch the capital increase early in 2017.

The French news media has reported that CNNC, MHI and Kazatomprom were each set to buy an 11 percent stake in Areva.

As part of the restructuring, EDF agreed last week to buy Areva’s reactor construction business for 2.5 billion euros ($2.7 billion).

South Africa Energy Plan Puts Nuclear on Backburner

(Mail & Guardian SA) Just last year South Africa was thrown back into load-shedding as the demand for electricity outstripped supply. Now the energy crisis is over, largely a result of an ailing economy and depressed power demand. The ratings agencies continue to express concern about inadequate drivers of growth locally – and globally it’s also unclear when and where economic advancement will occur.

The base case in the updated draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), released this week, embodies this uncertainty. Nuclear plans have been pushed out until 2037 and caps have been put on how many renewable energy projects can come online each year. Despite the unpredictability, this model assumes annual average energy growth of 2.17%.

The base case scenario assumes a moderate decline in carbon dioxide emissions. If South Africa aimed for a more ambitious reduction in carbon emissions and constraints on renewable energy remained, nuclear could start as soon as 2026.

In this case the procurement process would need to begin immediately. It is the scenario that Eskom – and its head of generation, Matshela Koko – announced that it would put out requests for proposals for nuclear procurement before the year is out.

The state owned utility still hasn’t said where the money for the tender is coming from. The head of the treasury ministry told the news media this week there is no evidence the country can afford to build the reactors.

Reuters reported that energy analysts have said the 9,600 MW plan was ambitious on timescale and unnecessary, while opponents of President Jacob Zuma raised concerns about a lack of transparency in deals which could cost in the region of $80 billion.

Several meetings between Zuma and Russian President Vladimir Putin over the last two years led to speculation that Russian state-run nuclear firm Rosatom had secured the deal before the launch of the public tender. South Africa’s government and Rosatom denied this.

Blue Castle Nuclear Project to Renegotiate Utah Water Rights

(Salt Lake City Tribune) Blue Castle Holdings, which has plans to build a 2,200 MW nuclear power plant on the banks of the Green River in Utah, appears to have a problem paying for the water rights for the project.

The firm is now more than two months late in making payments that are due to the San Juan and Kane county water conservancy districts, Blue Castle Holdings is renegotiating its financial obligations, which currently amount to $80,000 a year to San Juan and $100,000 to Kane in exchange for 53,000 acre feet of water to cool the project’s nuclear reactors.

The firm got the water rights after a ruling by the Utah State Engineer’s office. For its part, Blue Castle says the value of the water rights have changes and it wants to change the financial terms of the deal.

Aaron Tilton, CEO at Blue Castle, told the Salt Lake City Tribune it is making progress on its proposal to build a two-unit, 2,200-megawatt plant on state land near the town of Green River. The firm has an agreement with Westinghouse to purchase the reactors and is preparing to select a contractor, while remaining in contact with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Blue Castle notified the NRC of its intent to apply for an Early Site Permit and eventually a COL in 2008, but the project does not appear on the listing of active or expected license applications. The NRC said earlier this year that “the filing date is uncertain” for the project.”

The project’s critics claim in statements to the SLC Trib that Blue Castle’s delayed water-district payments indicates its finances “remain too flimsy to sustain the costly efforts to obtain regulatory approval and design a large electrical-generating station.”

Living Rivers and Uranium Watch, two Utah environmental groups fighting the project, cite the missed payments in a new challenge to the water rights underlying the nuclear project.

In recent filings with the State Engineer’s Office, they argue that the state should retire the water rights because decades have passed without the counties putting this liquid asset to “beneficial use” as required under Western water doctrines. And there appears to be little evidence Blue Castle will put this water to use anytime soon, according to John Weisheit, the Moab-based conservation director for Living Rivers.

“Blue Castle Holdings has not provided the money for this water so it’s a nebulous water right and should not be renewed,” he said. Nor has the company demonstrated “due diligence” necessary to justify extending the counties’ claim to the water, he said.

The project’s naysayers are misreading the situation, Tilton contends.

“These guys’ facts never play out. This is their last-gasp attempt to raise money or stir up trouble,” Tilton said. “The financial aspects have improved. We have put $20 million into this. It is nonsensical to say we would let it go away over a couple hundred thousands dollars.”

Blue Castle also announced a webinar for investors scheduled for December 8th.

Russia And India To Sign Final Agreement On Kudankulam-5 and -6

(NucNet): Russia and India are preparing to sign a final general framework agreement, including a credit clause, for the construction of Units 5 and 6 at the Kudankulam nuclear station in Tamil Nadu state, southern India,

Nikolai Spasskiy, Rosatom deputy director-general, was quoted as saying that Kudankulam is a “central strategic project” underlining the importance of nuclear power for the relationship between Russian and India. In October 2016, first concrete was poured for the foundation slabs of Units 3 and 4 at Kudankulam.

India and Russia also held an inauguration ceremony for Kudankulam-2, which was connected to the grid in August 2016 and is expected to begin commercial operation in December 2016.

NRC Completes  Review of Proposed New Reactors at Turkey Point Site

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has completed its Final Safety Evaluation Report for Combined Licenses (COL) for two proposed reactors at the Turkey Point site near Homestead, Fla. The report concludes there are no safety aspects that would preclude issuing the license for construction and operation of the proposed reactors, adjacent to two operating reactors approximately 40 miles south of Miami.

The staff will provide the report and Final Environmental Impact Statement on the Turkey Point application to the Commission for the mandatory hearing phase of the licensing process. In the mandatory hearing, expected to take place early next year, the Commission will examine whether the staff’s review supports the findings necessary to issue a license. Following the mandatory hearing, the Commission will vote on whether to authorize the staff to issue the license.

Florida Power & Light submitted its COL application for Turkey Point on June 30, 2009, for permission to build and operate two AP1000 nuclear reactors at the site. The NRC certified the amended 1,100-megawatt AP1000 design in 2012. More information on the certification process is available on the NRC website.

The NRC’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards independently reviewed those aspects of the Turkey Point application that concern safety. The committee provided the results of its review to the Commission on Sept. 16, 2016. The NRC completed its environmental review and issued the final impact statement for the proposed Turkey Point reactors earlier this month.

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