SMR Work Advances in U.S., Canada, & China

CNL Launches Program to Accelerate SMR New Builds

Canada’s national nuclear laboratory introduces new initiative to provide reactor vendors working on SMRs with access to world-class research facilities

small-reactors_thumb.jpgCHALK RIVER, Ontario — Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) said in a press statement that is has launched the Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative (CNRI), a new program that enables research and development to accelerate the deployment of small modular reactors in Canada.

The announcement was made during the U.S. Nuclear Industry Council’s New Nuclear Capital industry meeting in Washington, D.C.

CNL will issue an annual call for proposals inviting organizations to submit projects that fall within a list of designated focus areas, including market analysis, fuel development, reactor physics modelling, transportation, and more.

Among the many benefits of the program, participants will be able to optimize resources, share technical knowledge, and have access to CNL’s expertise to help advance the commercialization of SMR technologies.

“CNL has made tremendous progress over the past few years as an advocate for SMR technology and is helping to facilitate its development here in Canada. We believe that CNRI will help continue this momentum,” commented Mark Lesinski, CNL President and CEO.

“Our laboratories and scientific capabilities are truly unique in this country. This new program will provide qualified applicants with the opportunity to leverage these resources to drive innovation in the development of this much-needed low carbon energy technology.”

“Through CNRI we are supporting mission critical R&D that will accelerate the deployment of SMRs while strengthening connections with industry, growing our team and attracting commercial opportunities,” noted Dr. Kathryn McCarthy, CNL’s Vice-President for Science and Technology.

“Since CNL launched our SMR program a few years ago, we have received tremendous interest from companies and organizations all over the world who recognize the role that this clean energy technology can play in powering economies cleanly, particularly communities and businesses in remote locations,” commented Dr. Corey McDaniel, CNL’s Chief Commercial Officer.

“Bringing this technology from design through to readiness for deployment is a major undertaking, and requires a substantial investment into research, testing and development. ”

Environmental Assessment Started for First CNL SMR

The Notice of Commencement of an environmental assessment (EA) for a small modular reactor project at the Chalk River Laboratories (CRL) was posted by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) web site.

Global First Power (GFP) with support from Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation™ (USNC) and Ontario Power Generation (OPG) propose to construct and operate a 5 MW electrical “Micro Modular Reactor” (MMR) plant at the CRL campus.

Further details on the proposed project are available in the Project Description, and on the company web site

This work is aligned with CNL’s Strategic Initiative in small modular reactors and its vision to establish CNL as a global hub for the development of SMR technology.

GFP’s proposed project is presently in the third stage (negotiations) of CNL’s four stage Invitation to Site a Demonstration SMR.

NuScale / NRC COL Application Process To Begin For 60MW SMR

nuscale SMR

Cut Away of NuScale 60 MW SMR. Image courtesy of NuScale

(NucNet) The company behind a project to build a small modular reactor in the US using NuScale technology has sales contracts for enough power to begin a licence application process with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NuScale said in a statement on Thursday.

The project, being planned by Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS), is known as the Carbon-Free Power Project (CFPP). UAMPS is in the first phase of investigating the feasibility of building up to 12 reactors of 50 MW each at the Idaho National Laboratory near Idaho Falls, ID.

The feasibility analysis includes engineering and regulatory activities to complete a site selection analysis.

NuScale said that reaching the 150 MW subscription level triggers continued work and evaluation of the project, including increased focus on site characterization and preparation of a combined licence application, or COL, for submittal to the NRC.

The Associated Press reported that the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems board of directors met last week and passed a resolution recognizing the fact that the project, which will consist of 12 60-megawatt small modular reactors producing 720 megawatts total, has 150 megawatts worth of buy-in.

UAMPS spokesman LaVarr Webb told AP that 150 MW is a milestone that indicates the Carbon Free Power Project had support from enough UAMPS members to move forward.

“The process to reach the 150 megawatts has been going on for several months, and each member of UAMPS had to decide if it wants to participate in the project and go through the process of their governing bodies to approve participation and at what megawatt level,” Webb said.

“A vital feature of CFPP is that its 12 small reactors would be flexible in dispatchable power output, allowing it to provide a steady, adjustable supply of carbon-free electricity that complements and enables large amounts of renewable energy, including wind and solar.”

Specifically, the energy cooperative is embarked on a plan called the Carbon Free Power Project that aims to supply carbon-free energy to its nearly 50 members, mostly municipalities, in six Western states. It says 34 members have now signed on, pushing it past 150 megawatts and triggering work on the license application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

NuScale / NRC on Schedule to Complete Design Review

NuScale said in a press statement on 7/22/19 that the NRC remains on track to complete its review of NuScale’s design by September 2020, and the company’s first customer, Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, is planning a 12-module SMR plant in Idaho slated for operation by the mid-2020s based on this certified design.

China Starts Work on 1st SMR at 125 MW

China has started building its first small modular reactor (SMR) as a demonstration project. The ACP100 small modular reactor (SMR) will be built on the island province of Hainan accordong to a statment sent to wire services by the state-owned China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC).

According to a March 2019 report by World Nuclear News, the ACP100 was identified as a ‘key project’ in China’s 12th Five-Year Plan, and is developed from the larger ACP1000 pressurised water reactor (PWR). The design, which has 57 fuel assemblies and integral steam generators, incorporates passive safety features and will be installed underground.

The ACP100 plant will be located on the northwest side of the existing Changjiang nuclear power plant, according to the 22 March announcement. The site is already home to two operating CNP600 PWRs, with two Hualong One units also planned for construction.  IAEA Briefing on the ACP100

The demonstration SMR at the Changjiang nuclear facility in Hainan will be used to “verify the design, manufacture, construction and operation of the technology and accumulate valuable experience in small nuclear power plants,” CNNC said in a notice to western news media.  Briefing on China’s overall SMR Strategy

The project was originally scheduled to go into construction in 2017. The company did not say when the project was likely to be completed. Given its size, a 3-4 year construction period is a likely scenario.

Reuters reported that China hopes the reactor,“Linglong One,” will eventually be offered with its bigger third-generation “Hualong One” model for export overseas.

The State Power Investment Corporation said last month that it was planning to build a small-scale pilot heating reactor in the northeastern city of Jiamusi, with the objective of completion by 2024.

NBN, a market research firm, reports that the Chinese government will build twenty floating reactors in the South China Sea. The objective is to provide electricity to artificial islands, especially the Paracel and Spratly islands. China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Taiwan claim these territories.

See prior coverage on this blogChina to deploy floating nuclear power plants to support geopolitical goals in S. E. Asia

Liu Zhengguo, head of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corp. said the nuclear power plants would cost 14 Billion Chinese Yuan ($2.034 Billion USD) each.  (One Yuan equals $0.15 USD)

At 125 MW electrical, the Chinese SMRs come in at just over $1600/Kw which is an astonishing number considering that NuScale in the US is targeting $4,000/KW for its 60 MW SMR.

This number will likely go up since the plants will be built on islands in the South China Sea. There is no local infrastructure and everything – parts, people, supplies – has to be delivered by ship or barge. It is a costly enterprise intended to support geopolitical objectives.

  • The nation has been building a series of artificial islands in the South China sea as a means of projecting military power in the region. The islands need power and potable water which could be supplied via desalinization by the floating reactors.
  • China’s geopolitical ambitions are to control maritime traffic which the U.S. and its allies, Japan and South Korea, see as an effort to restrain their military presence in the region.
  • Once the reactors are in place China will use the military assets they support on the artificial islands to protect them.

CSIC plans to expand the number of SMR units as a cheaper alternative to transmit power from mainland China. The cost of a diesel generator at sea is 2 yuan $0.30) per kilowatt, while the price of a nuclear plant can be 0.9 yuan ($0.135).

In addition to being an energy distributor, the floating nuclear power plant will also accelerate the exploitation of oil, natural gas, and methane hydrates found on the seabed.

China has built a mini-reactor to drive submarines since the 1970s. If the construction goes according to plan, the first nuclear reactor floating in the Asian sea will be fully functional by 2021

Plans for China’s HTGR Sufers a Setback

hibbs tweet

Separarely, Mark Hibbs, an expert on China’s nuclear energy program, said in a Twitter post last week that China’s recent announcements about its SMR work may be “hype.” He points to a decision which indicates China has dropped altogether its plans to build 20 of its 250 MW HTGR SMRs.

According to Hibbs, the reason is the cost of the units “greatly exceeded” the cost of larger 1000 MW Hulaong One on a kilowatt cost basis.

China has promoted the HTGR design for export to Saudi Arabia and other nations.

Hibbs is the author of an authortative book on China’s nuclear energy program which is based on first hand interviews with leading figures in China about their work. In his book “The Future of Nuclear Power in China” published in May 2018, he writes,

“China’s nuclear power wager might not indefinitely pay high dividends. Until now, the state has boosted the nuclear power industry with incentives that, in the future, may come under pressure. The electric power system is subject to reform in the direction of more transparent oversight and pricing that might disadvantage nuclear investments. President Xi Jinping supports state control of strategic economic sectors, but he also advocates market reforms that have helped lead Western nuclear power industries into crises.”

“The nuclear sector must withstand a gradual slowing down of China’s economy, characterized by diminishing returns on capital goods investments and translating into rising debt and overcapacity. Nuclear investments may be affected by demographics, changes in electricity load profile, and technology innovations including emergence of a countrywide grid system able to wheel bulk power anywhere.”

See prior coverage on this blogProgress Report on HTGR Reactors in China and the US

China to Help Kenya Select a Site for its First Nuclear Power Plant

(North Africa Post) The Indian Ocean, Lake Victoria and Lake Turkana have been identified as the most optimal sites for the establishment of Kenya’s first nuclear power plant acording to wire services quoting local news media.

China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) is helping the East African nation’s Nuclear Power and Energy Agency (NuPEA) to identify the sites that would host the first nuclear plant in the country.

“Currently, we have zeroed in at the coast along the Indian Ocean, Lake Victoria and Lake Turkana as the most ideal sites. We have excluded the Rift Valley because we need enough water to cool the plant,” Mr Collins Juma, the NuPEA chief executive said.

Kenya aims to build a nuclear plant with a capacity of 1,000 MW, by 2027, to diversify its energy mix.

The country currently produces 35% of its energy from hydropower and the rest from geothermal, wind and diesel.

Plans to develop a 1,050-megawatt coal-fired plant on the coast, using funding from China, have been delayed by court action from environmental activists.

NuPEA forecasts its capacity rising to a total 4,000MW by 2033 making nuclear electricity a key component of the country’s energy mix.

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