As 2020 has come to close, it is time to check in on what readers found most interesting on this blog. Here are the top posts for 2020 based on Google Analytics data.
COVID-19 News: Nuclear Workers May Live On-Site During Virus Crisis
Nuclear Reactor Operators May Live at their Plants. The New York Times reports via Reuters that the nation’s electric power utilities are planning to set up housekeeping for cadres of healthy workers at the plants to keep the lights on for millions of Americans.
According to the newspaper, the utilities, which include the nation’s nuclear reactor operators, are stockpiling food, beds, and laundry, and other supplies for the workers.
Will 2020s Be the Decade SMRs Take Off?
If current developments with small modular reactors in first month of 2020 are any indication of interest in this scale of nuclear technology, the 2020s could be the decade that SMRs take off. Here are six reports of interest in SMRs the U.S. and Europe.
Key success factors include affordability, ease of construction compared to 1000 MWe units, enhanced safety features, and for some, using well-known light water reactors as the design basis, a faster path through the regulatory reviews and thus faster time to market.
A Forecast for the Future of GEN IV Reactors ~
A 50/50 Chance of Success for Three Types
Designers of advanced nuclear reactors that are moving beyond the conceptual phase and are now deeply invested in hardware design are seeking to bridge the gap between design concept and working prototype.
The problem for developers of Generation IV nuclear power plants in western industrialized countries is that it may still be too early in the development process for investors and potential customers to bet significant money on the winners from an increasingly crowded field.
New patterns of investment could help. Public-private cost sharing partnerships with the US Department of Energy (DOE), for reactor development, of the type formed by NuScale, a light water small modular reactor and TerraPower, which is a sodium-cooled 1,100 MW design, are creating similar opportunities for entrepreneurial developers who can harness the know how and get access to government funds which is also a confidence builder for investors.
A working prototype for any of the Gen IV designs built by any of the developers would attract the interest of potential customers. As yet, no one has gotten that far.
ThorCon Inks MOU to Develop a 50MW Thorium Reactor for Indonesia https://neutronbytes.com/2020/08/01/thorcon-inks-mou-to-develop-a-50mw-thorium-reactor-for-indonesia/
According to ThorCon, the firm and Indonesia’s Defence Ministry have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to study developing a 50 MW thorium molten salt reactor (TMSR) for either power generation or marine vehicle propulsion.
China Ramps Up New Nuclear Reactor Construction
According to a news item in the official China Daily, and quoting the China Nuclear Energy Association, that China will build six to eight nuclear reactors a year between 2020 and 2025 and raise total capacity to 70 gigawatts (GW).
The China Nuclear Energy Association said the country’s total installed nuclear capacity is expected to be at 52 GW by the end of 2020, but which falls short of a 58 GW target.
Poland Counts Costs for New Nuclear Reactors
The country’s ambitions include building a minimum of six reactor units over 20 years with the equivalent of 9000 MW by the 2040s. Paying for them remains a supremely vexing problem for the Polish government which is conflicted about these plans and how to fund them.
Poland will have to spend €14 billion in the first 10 years of its planned nuclear power program, the Polish government secretary responsible for energy infrastructure Piotr Naimski said in media interviews
Mr Naimski said the country’s plans include building six nuclear reactor units over 20 years with a combined output of between 6 and 9 GW.
South Korea’s SMART SMR Gets New Life
The government of South Korea and the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy in Saudi Arabia have updated their agreement to create a joint venture for the construction of a low-power small modular nuclear reactor (100 MWe).
The SMR design planned for Saudi Arabia is the Korea Atomic Research Institute’s “system-integrated modular advanced reactor” (SMART), a LWR type unit, is designed for generating electricity and for thermal applications such as seawater desalination. Scientists in South Korea have been developing the technology for 22 years. Work has been going on in Saudi Arabia with its South Korean partners since 2011.
Rolls Royce Reveals 440 MW Commercial Reactor Design
Rolls Royce consortium plans SMR units for existing UK nuclear sites including Moorside, Wylfa, and Oldbury. 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 16 of them at existing nuclear power stations in the UK starting in the early 2030s.
France Launches First SMR Development Effort
France will leverage its experience building small nuclear reactors for submarines and the expertise of state-owned EDF to create commercial small modular reactors (SMRs).
France’s nuclear agency has announced a project to develop a small modular reactor that could be on the market before 2030. CEA said the planned SMR plant will be a PWR-based solution in the 300-400 MW range. A spokesman said the SMRs would typically consist of 170 MW reactors sold in sets of two or more.
The Atomic and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA) said the Nuward SMR project is a joint venture with state-controlled utility EDF, the Paris-based Naval group, and reactor design and maintenance company TechnicAtome, which is based at the CEA nuclear site in Cadarache, southern France.
DOE Awards $80M each to TerraPower, X-Energy for ARDP
The 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.
Where Do Readers Come from?
In 2020 49% of all readers came from the U.S. Another 28% of readers came from these countries: Canada, UK, Germany, Australia, Japan, India, France, China.
Later this winter I plan to share analytics data from the syndication site Energy Central / Energy Collective where the same 75 blog posts that appeared here pulled more than 400,000 page views in calendar year 2020.
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