- Three technology developers advanced in CNL’s SMR process to build a demonstration unit of a small modular reactor (SMR) at a CNL site
- The three firms are moving through a rigorous stage gate process having been selected from 19 applicants and 80 expressions of interest
Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), one of Canada’s premier science and technology organizations, announced on 2/15/19 that two firms, Starcore Nuclear and Terrestrial Energy have successfully completed the pre-qualification stage of CNL’s invitation, and have been invited to enter the Due Diligence stage.
In these stages, CNL will evaluate with increased rigor, the technical and business merits of the proposed designs, assess the financial viability of the projects, and review the necessary national security and integrity requirements.
- StarCore Nuclear’s proposed SMR design is a 14 MWe high-temperature gas reactor. StarCore is proposing to build reactors at both the Whiteshell and Chalk River sites.
- Terrestrial Energy’s proposed SMR design is a 195 MWe integral molten salt reactor. CNL did not indicate what site(s) the firm has chosen if selected to build. In the US the firm has been looking at different candidate sites including the Idaho National Laboratory.
- Update 2/27/19 – On 2/27/19 Terrestrial Energy issued a press statement that it has completed its siting study with Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) that short-lists a number of sites suitable for a commercial power plant that uses the company’s Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR®). The study recommended further detailed investigation of several sites within the Chalk River Laboratories property.
The firm Global First Power (GFP), with its key partners Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC), has progressed through the second stage of the invitation process, and has been invited to participate in preliminary, non-exclusive discussions regarding land arrangements, project risk management, and contractual terms (Stage 3). These negotiations are not an indication of project approval, and the proposal and proponent must satisfy further stringent evaluation.
- GFP/OPG/USNC Team’s proposed SMR design is a 5 MWe high-temperature gas reactor.
The fourth and final stage, Project Execution, would include construction, testing and commissioning, operation and ultimately decommissioning of the SMR unit.
All of these projects are subject to regulatory processes and requirements. The licensing process with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) is independent of CNL’s invitation and evaluation stages. Should a project advance to a license application, proponents will be required to undertake meaningful project engagement with the public and Indigenous communities. CNSC is currently conducting pre-licensing vendor reviews with a number of SMR developers.
Background on CNL SMR Program
In June 2017 CNL set the ambitious goal of siting an SMR on a CNL-managed site by 2026. To achieve this, CNL launched a Request for Expressions of Interest to gather input and feedback from stakeholders across Canada and internationally. CNL received 80 responses from academia, energy utilities, potential end users, host communities, and the nuclear supply chain.
Included in those responses were 19 formal responses from technology developers interested in building a prototype or demonstration reactor at a CNL site. Based in part on that strong response, CNL moved forward with announcing a staged invitation process for those vendors interested in siting their demonstration unit. Even as this work is ongoing, the deployment of small modular reactors in Canada is still several years away. .
The proposed flexibility of operations for these new designs enables a wide range of end uses, including pairing SMRs with intermittent renewable sources such as solar or wind energy to ensure grid reliability. In addition to electricity production, the energy from an SMR could be used for the production of hydrogen, for local area heating, or in industrial processes which require heat or steam.
Holtec’s SMR-160 Attracts Support in Ukraine and US
(WNN) Holtec International has made progress with its work on an SMR-160 system through agreements with Energoatom and Exelon Generation announced during the winter meeting of the Holtec Advisory Council for SMR-160, held on 2/8/10 in Jupiter, Florida.
The SMR-160 application is under review by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and is in Phase 1 of the three-phase evaluation cycle. State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine, the nuclear regulatory authority in Ukraine, is expected to coordinate its regulatory assessment of SMR-160 under a collaborative arrangement with its Canadian counterpart.
At the same meeting, Holtec signed a memorandum of understanding with Exelon Generation, adding Exelon to the SMR-160 team, which currently includes SNC-Lavalin and Mitsubishi Electric.
Chris Mudrick, Exelon Generation senior vice president, Northeast Operations, said in the Holtec statement:
“As the largest nuclear operator in the United States, Exelon Generation is pleased to partner with Holtec to develop an operating model for the SMR-160. This project is a great example of how innovation and new technologies are bringing our industry together and driving the future of nuclear power.”
Under the terms of the MoU, Exelon Generation plans to support SMR-160’s market acceptance, develop a generic deployment schedule and staffing plan, and assist to improve its operability and maintainability features, Holtec said. As SMR-160s are built around the globe, Exelon Generation could provide reactor operating services to customers that lack an established nuclear industrial infrastructure, it added.
Exelon’s move to sign on to support the molten salt project is the second by a US nuclear utility. Southern Nuclear is working with a consortium of developers, including TerraPower, to develop a molten salt reactor.
Holtec describes the SMR-160 as a “passive, intrinsically safe, secure and economical” small modular reactor that has the flexibility to be used in remote locations, in areas with limited water supplies or land, and in unique industrial applications where traditional larger reactors are not practical.
The Holtec meeting was led by the incoming chairman, Michael Rencheck, CEO of Bruce Power, Canada, and attended by invited industry experts from several leading organisations, including Bruce Power, Energoatom, Entergy, Exelon Generation, Southern, Talen Energy, NEI, SNC-Lavalin, Mitsubishi Electric, and several major suppliers. The international contingent consisted of business and technology leaders from Canada, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates.
- Holtec Technology Development Partners
On February 14, 2018, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH), Global Nuclear Fuel (GNF), Holtec International and SMR LLC announced a collaboration to advance the SMR-160 small modular reactor primarily in the area of fuel development.
The firm also has a joint development agreement with SNC Lavalin and Mitsubishi. Under the agreement, SNC-Lavalin will provide Holtec with a range of nuclear engineering services, including supporting the licensing of the SMR-160 reactor. While the SMR-160 is based on light water reactor technology, it should be noted that SNC-Lavalin is the parent company of Candu Energy.
In August 2015, Mitsubishi signed a long-term partnership agreement with Holtec to develop the instrumentation and control systems for the SMR-160. Holtec has previously secured engineering, design and qualification support for its work on the SMR-160 from the Shaw Group and URS Corporation.
UK-Japan Venture Seeks to Build an HTGR in UK
The firm Penultimate Power has agreed to form a joint venture with the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) to build a novel small modular reactor in the UK to provide power and process heat for heavy industry according to a trade press report.
The partners want to build a 10 MWe high-temperature gas-cooled nuclear reactor (HTGR) in the North East of England, based an R&D design that has been running in Japan since 1998.
Ian Fells, technical director at Penultimate Power and former consultant to the UK Atomic Energy Authority, said the venture is seeking approvals from authorities and he expects the £500m (US$651m) plant will be constructed within the coming 48 months.
The firm has ambitious goals for its HTGR.
“We talk about distributed electricity generation with wind, solar and biomass generation,” says Fells. “Now we’re talking about distributed nuclear generation.”
At this power rating the unit will likely be built as an R&D project to demonstrate the feasibility of the technology. Also, developers haven’t addressed how they plan to license the unit nor take it through the UK GDR process for safety review and environmental assessment.
Long term plans include scaling up the technology to 100 MWe, and building a factory, preferably in Teesside, to construct the modular plants for use across the UK. Though Fells said a timeline for this has not yet been agreed.
The UK Government’s support for SMRs has been a disappointment for developers. It launched a £250m competition in 2015 aimed at commercializing the technology but in 2017 scaled back its ambitions, announcing it would offer just £44m to prove the feasibility of a wider set of designs and then for development activities.
In other SMR news NuScale has said it aims to deploy its SMR design in the UK with the first 60 MWe units aimed for operation in the mid-2020s. Rolls-Royce has submitted design plans to the government for a 220 MWe unit.
Note to readers: AAAS Science Magazine has this week published a terrific article on NuScale with first rate writing and stunning graphics.
China has been developing a 230 MW HTGR with two units attached to a single turbine. However, according to some reports, plans to build 20 of them for domestic use have been postponed in order to revamp the design to be more efficient.
~ Other Nuclear News ~
RAB Financing Model Could Attract
Private Investment To Nuclear Energy Projects
(NucNet): The regulated asset base financing model (RAB) for nuclear power plants could attract private investment in the sector because investors are able to see a fixed rate of return as the project is being built, Harminder Singh, a power analyst at London-based data and analytics company GlobalData told NucNet in an email.
Mr Singh said the key problem that RAB addresses is that of the high cost of capital for nuclear power projects. He said the RAB model has been used in other infrastructure sectors in the UK, such as the £4.2bn Thames super sewer project, to provide “comfort to investors in private utilities, especially in water”.
But he warned that the RAB model could shift the risk from the developers to consumers, leading to higher electricity bills.
“The model has so far not been used for projects as expensive as nuclear power plants, which is seen as a key cause for concern.”
The UK government is said to be considering RAB financing for new nuclear following recent decisions by Hitachi to suspend the Wylfa nuclear project in Wales and by
RAB financing is essentially a type of contract drawn up with the backing of government, which calculates the costs and profits of a project before it is started, and allocates an investor’s profits from day one.
DOE Names SEAB Members
U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced last week the first members of his Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB).
The SEAB has historically provided advice and recommendations to the Secretary of Energy on the priorities for the Department of Energy including promoting America’s energy security.
Secretary Perry’s SEAB will include the following individuals. Additional members may be named at a later date.
- Norman R. Augustine, Retired Chairman and CEO, Lockheed Martin Corporation
- David H. Dewhurst, Co-founder, Chairman & CEO Falcon Seaboard
- Vicki Hollub, President & CEO, Occidental Petroleum
- David Lockwood, Former Chairman & CEO, Energy Solutions, Inc.
- Richard W. Mies, Admiral U.S. Navy (Ret.)
- Pedro J. Pizarro, President & CEO, Edison International
- Dr. Samantha Ravich, Chair of the Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies
- Dr. Daniel Yergin, Vice Chairman, IHS Markit
Ms. Hollub and Admiral Mies will serve as Chair and Vice Chair of SEAB, respectively. Board member bios here
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