- Global First Small Modular Reactor Project Achieves Licensing Milestone
- Rolls-Royce Consortium Increases Plant’s Power, Plans To Build Up To 10 By 2035
- Idaho Lab Slated to be Pilot Site for Use of Nuclear Energy to Produce Hydrogen
- Doosan and KNHP to Collaborate on Hydrogen Production
- Poland Funds R&D Collaboration with Japan on HTGRs
- Licensing Fee Reform Can Catalyze Advanced Nuclear Innovation for Rapid Decarbonization
Global First Small Modular Reactor Project Achieves Licensing Milestone
On their website, the CNSC provided details on GFP’s License to Prepare Site, indicating that the Project has fulfilled requirements to move to the formal phase in this process, which will involve a detailed technical review.
In March and April 2021, GFP submitted management system documentation in support of its application for a license to prepare a site for a small modular reactor on Atomic Energy of Canada Limited property at the Chalk River Laboratories site.
On May 6, 2021, the CNSC determined that this documentation and GFP’s plan for additional submissions were sufficient to begin the technical review as part of the licensing application process.
GFP is seeking CNSC approval for a license to prepare the site for a MMR at the Chalk River Laboratories site in Renfrew County, Ontario, approximately 200 km northwest of Ottawa.
The announcement moves GFP closer to owning, constructing, and operating Canada’s first small modular reactor (SMR) with first power slated for 2026. The 15 megawatt (MW) thermal (approximately 5 MW electrical) MMR plant will be developed at Chalk River Laboratories, a site owned by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) and managed by Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL).
About the MMR Project
The proposed project includes a nuclear plant that contains an MMR high-temperature gas-cooled reactor to provide process heat to an adjacent plant via molten salt. This MMR would produce approximately 15 megawatts (thermal) of process heat to generate electrical power and/or heat over an operating life span of 20 years.
The MMR plant is based on USNC’s proprietary Fully Ceramic Micro-encapsulated (FCM™) fuel technology which will bring an unprecedented level of safety as well as improved economics and reduced environmental impact for remote power applications.
USNC has been progressing the design of the MMR over the last several years. This includes completing the Phase 1 Vendor Design review with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
MMR Technical Specifications. Chart: Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp
About Canada’s SMR Program
Both AECL and CNL have identified SMRs as one of several strategic initiatives the company is pursuing, with the goal of siting a demonstration project on one of AECL’s sites, which are managed by CNL. Together, both organizations are working to demonstrate the commercial viability of SMRs and have positioned Canada as a global leader in SMR prototype testing and technology development support.
As part of the program, CNL issued an invitation in 2018 to SMR developers to apply to site an SMR demonstration reactor at a CNL-managed site. GFP is in stage three of CNL’s four-stage process, and with this recent CNSC announcement, GFP is the most advanced concept towards demonstration.
This demonstration Project is intended to serve as a model for future SMR deployments as called for in Canada’s SMR Roadmap and Action Plan, by producing competitively-priced clean energy for remote communities and heavy industry such as mining and resource projects.
Rolls-Royce Consortium Increases Plant’s Power,
Plans To Build Ten Reactors By 2035
(NucNet contributed to this report) A Rolls-Royce-led consortium which is creating a mid-range nuclear reactor has increased the plant’s power from 440 MWe to 470 MWe and is aiming to complete its first unit in the early 2030s and build up to 10 by 2035. These milestones suggest that the firm would initiate simultaneous starts at multiple locations.
Backing Rolls-Royce’s plan to build 16 plants by mid-century would allow the government would also support U.K. manufacturing and prop up a company that has been hard hit by the pandemic.
The plant’s design has been adjusted and improved, with more than 200 major engineering decisions made. The cost of each plant will initially be about £2.2bn per unit dropping to £1.8bn by the time five have been completed.
Rolls-Royce said the UK SMR consortium had completed the first phase of development work “on time and under budget.” It said it is aiming to be the first SMR design to be assessed by regulators in the second half of 2021, which will keep it on track to complete its first unit in the early 2030s and build up to 10 units by 2035 with a plan to build six more after completing that milestone..
The announcement follows the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy opening last week of the Generic Design Assessment to advanced nuclear technologies. Technically speaking, the Rolls Royce design is neither an “advanced” reactor nor is it a SMR.
The design is based on well understood principles for building pressurized water reactors (PWR) that use water as a moderator and nuclear fuel enriched to less than 5% U235. The size of he reactor at 470 MWe, is well beyond the IAEA definition of an SMR which as an upper limit of 300 MWe.
Rolls-Royce said the consortium will target an additional £250bn of potential exports with memoranda of understanding (MOU) already in place with Estonia, Turkey and the Czech Republic. These agreements in principle are not contracts and actual deals to build the Rolls Royce PWR will have to wait for it to complete the lengthy and costly UK Generic Design Analysis (GDA) which is an assessment by the government of the safety of the design and its environmental impact.
“Nuclear power is central to tackling climate change, securing economic recovery and strengthening energy security,” affirmed UK SMR CEO Tom Samson.
“To do this it must be affordable, reliable and investable and the way we manufacture and assemble our power station brings down the cost to be comparable to offshore wind at around £50 per megawatt-hour.”
Media reports said the consortium is seeking a further £300m of private capital to develop the reactors. The initial “two to three” units are likely to require government support. However, UK SMR chief executive officer Tom Samson said he hopes to move to “traditional debt and equity” to fund following orders. He said negotiations had begun with potential investors to fund the plants.
Rolls-Royce said the UK SMR team is likely to become a standalone business which will deliver a UK fleet of 16 power stations and secure exports to make the plant “a key part of the world’s decarbonization toolkit.”
The plants will be built by the new UK SMR business, before being handed over to be operated by power generation companies. In November 2020 the consortium signed an MoU with US utility Exelon Generation to pursue the potential for Exelon Generation to operate compact nuclear power stations both in the UK and internationally.
Press reports last year said three sites in the UK were being considered for the first UK SMR plant: Moorside in Cumbria, Wylfa in North Wales and Trawsfynydd also in North Wales.
Of the three sites, two of them – Moorside and Wylfa – were once targeted as sites for multiple units of much larger reactors.
- Moorside was to have been the site of three Westinghouse 1150 MWe AP1000 PWRs.
- Wylfa was at one time slated to be the site of twin Hitachi 1350 MWe ABWRs.
Neither project ever got off the ground due difficulties in securing financing. If Rolls Royce were to build 16 of its PWRs it would nearly equal the electrical generation capacity of the two earlier planned projects.
According to Rolls-Royce, the relatively compact size makes it suitable for a variety of applications, helping decarbonize entire energy systems. Each power station can supply enough reliable low carbon power for around one million homes, or be used to power net-zero hydrogen and synthetic aviation fuel manufacturing facilities, desalination plants or energy intensive industrial sites.
The plant will operate for at least 60 years and the design, which will be finalized at the end of the regulatory assessment process, proposes that all used fuel will be stored on each site for the lifetime of the plant.
The power station’s design cuts costs by using standard nuclear energy technology used in 400 reactors around the world. The components for the power station are manufactured in modules in factories, before being transported to existing nuclear sites for rapid assembly inside a weatherproof canopy.
Rolls Royce Asks UK Gov’t to Fund First Three Reactors of 16 Planned Units
According to the Bloomberg wire service, a Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc-led group renewed calls for around 2 billion pounds ($2.8 billion) of U.K. government funding to move forward with plans for a raft of new mini nuclear reactors. Separately, the firm told the Financial Times that it is seeking 300 million pounds from private and institutional investors to kick start commercialization of the revised reactor design. The firm also said that it will begin the UK Generic Design Review with the Office of Nuclear Regulation in the second half of 2021.
Britain was said to considered a similar request in October 2020 but it never stepped up to the plate to make a decision. Now Rolls-Royce and partners including Laing O’Rourke Plc are asking again for government support to build the first two or three plants out of a planned 16 470 MWe units.
Britain will need nuclear energy to meet its 2050 emission targets. However, it is in a bind. All of its remaining atomic plants will close by 2035, and only one is currently under construction which is the Hinkley Point C project composed of two EDF/Areva 1650 MWe EPRs. Similar power station is planned for the Sizewell C site. Both projects include significant equity financing from Chinese state owned nuclear energy enterprises. In return, China is expected to build one and perhaps three 1000 MWe Hualong One PWR type reactors at the Bradwell site.
Separately, the UK lost partners to build three Westinghouse 1150 MWe AP1000s at the Moorside site and also two 1350 MWe Hitachi ABWRs at the Wylfa site and two more ABWRs at the Oldburgy site. If Rolls Royce builds all 16 of its mid-range plants, at 470 MWe each it will equal 7520 MWe or all of the capacity that was lost at these three locations.
The government’s U.K. Research & Innovation agency is “in discussion with the Rolls Royce-led U.K. small modular reactors consortium on how work may proceed,” the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said Friday, declining to elaborate. The money, if it comes, will be authorized by the UK government as a ministerial measure and approval by Parliament may also be required for funding at this level.
The UK SMR consortium members are Rolls-Royce, Assystem, Atkins, BAM Nuttall, Jacobs, Laing O’Rourke, National Nuclear Laboratory, Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and TWI.
Idaho Lab Slated to be Pilot Site for Use of Nuclear Energy to Produce Hydrogen
Bloom Energy of San Jose, CA, and Idaho National Laboratory, located at Idaho Falls, ID, have agreed to proceed with a new pilot to show how nuclear energy can be an efficient input into solid oxide electrolyzer system for carbon-free hydrogen production
Bloom Energy (NYSE: BE) announced an agreement with Idaho National Laboratory (INL) to independently test the use of nuclear energy to create clean hydrogen through Bloom Energy’s solid oxide, high-temperature electrolyzer.
This carbon-free hydrogen is obtained through electrolysis that is powered by nuclear generation. When the electric grid has ample power, rather than ramping down power generation, the electricity generated by nuclear plants can be used to produce cost-effective hydrogen in support of the burgeoning hydrogen economy.
First announced in July 2020, Bloom Energy’s electrolyzer converts water (or steam) into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen can then be injected into the natural gas pipeline, stored and used for power generation with a fuel cell at a later time, dispensed to fuel cell vehicles, or used by industrial processes that consume large amounts of hydrogen.
Bloom Energy’s electrolyzer has a higher efficiency than low-temperature electrolyzer technologies, thereby reducing the amount of electricity needed to produce hydrogen. The steam supplied to the electrolyzers can also be generated by the thermal energy produced by the nuclear power plant, bolstering the overall efficiency of hydrogen production further.
Each 360-kW hydrogen production module, or electrolyzer, would produce a nominal hydrogen flow of 7.8 kg per hour and would be “remotely managed and monitored by Bloom,” the company said on its website. The company did not disclose the production capacity of the test system or its estimated cost.
INL will test Bloom Energy’s electrolyzers at the Dynamic Energy Testing and Integration Laboratory in Idaho where researchers can simulate steam and load following conditions as if it were already integrated with a nuclear power station. These simulations will provide the opportunity to model operations in a controlled environment.
“The high-temperature electrolyzers take advantage of both the thermal and the electrical power that are available at nuclear power plants,” said Tyler Westover, the Hydrogen and Thermal Systems Group lead at INL.
“This expands the markets for nuclear power plants by allowing them to switch between sending power to the electrical grid and producing clean hydrogen for transportation and industry energy sectors.”
“We must think creatively and seek all possible low, zero, and negative carbon solutions to benefit our planet. Harnessing excess energy to produce hydrogen is a solution with a positive impact on global decarbonization efforts and we look forward to working with the team at Idaho National Laboratory to make this a reality,” said Venkat Venkataraman, EVP and chief technology officer, Bloom Energy.
“As a result of this pilot, we expect to establish carbon-free hydrogen generation with the highest efficiency of any electrolyzer in the market today.”
The Bloom Energy Server, which will not be part of the INL test, uses the hydrogen produced by an electrolyzer to generate electricity. Each module of that system has a nameplate output of 300 kW and consumes 18.81 kg of hydrogen per hour of operation, the company said.
Doosan and KNHP to Collaborate on Hydrogen Production
South Korea’s Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction (DHIC) announced that it has signed a business agreement with Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) to enhance cooperation in clean hydrogen production and energy convergence businesses.
Under the agreement, the two companies will establish hydrogen production and storage facilities using clean energy sources, promote joint research and development on hydrogen production using small modular reactors (SMRs), and develop clean hydrogen production projects overseas.
“We have the experience of having expanded our cooperation in the nuclear power business to the hydroelectric field,” said DHIC president Jung Yeon-in.
“Now with the signing of this MOU, we expect this will help us secure the technology for hydrogen production based on clean energy sources like SMRs and hydroelectric power, and facilitate the development of new cooperation projects, such as those related to exporting.”
Doosan’s Link to NuScale
The tie-in to small modular reactors comes, in part, through Doosan’s equity investment in NuScale, an American developers of SMRs. On April 29, 2019, NuScale Power and Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction Co., Ltd. (Doosan) announced a $44M strategic cooperation to support deployment of the NuScale Power Module (NPM) worldwide. Doosan and its financial partners provided a cash investment in NuScale as part of this strategic relationship.
Doosan will supply long lead time components and other equipment. DHIC is expected to bring its expertise in nuclear pressure vessel manufacturing. Doosan also signed the ‘unit purchase agreement’ through which it will make a cash equity investment in NuScale with Korean financial investors. The terms of the equity deal were not disclosed but it will involve transfer of NuScale stock to Doosan.
Doosan History Working with Hydrogen
DHIC has been preparing for the hydrogen business since 2018. The company is promoting projects in all stages of the hydrogen value chain such as hydrogen production, storage, transportation, and utilization. Doosan Fuel Cell, another Doosan subsidiary that has technical expertise in the field of hydrogen fuel cells, also has plans to embark on a partnership with KHNP in the field of hydrogen utilization.
In November 2020, Doosan was awarded the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for a hydrogen liquefaction plant in Gyeongnam. Under the contract, the company will perform the EPC work for a hydrogen liquefaction plant and will also provide operation and maintenance (O&M) services for twenty years. Once complete and in commercial operation in 2023, the plant will have a daily production capacity.
Poland Funds R&D Collaboration with Japan on HTGRs
Poland’s National Centre for Nuclear Research (NCBJ) and the Ministry of Education and Science (MEiN) have signed a contract for design work on a high temperature gas cooled reactor (HTGR).
Under the agreement, conditions for the construction of the HTGR will be prepared within three years at NCBJ, which will develop the basic design. For this purpose, MEiN will allocate PLN60.5 million ($16.2M).
A government spokesman said the decision to allocate the funds over the next three years will support cooperation with Japanese partners. It provided an opportunity for an HTGR protoype reactor to be built at NCBJ, which will allow Poland to produce hydrogen.
Climate and Environment Minister Kurtyka said the HTGR reactor is the first step towards the wide use of high-temperature reactors in the economy.
“The Ministry of Climate and Environment supports all initiatives that may contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere. Nuclear energy is a tool that will meet the needs of a modern economy and industry without harming the environment.
The first focus of the primarily R&D project will be for testing materials used in HTGRs. The government spokesman said, “Materials for this type of device need to work in extreme conditions, high temperatures, exposed to neutron radiation and high pressure. As part of the contract, we will also perform the necessary technical analyses, simulations and safety analyses required before applying for a licence to build a nuclear facility.”
He added: “This type of a reactor is currently operating for research purposes in Japan. In cooperation with the Japanese side, we want to adapt this kind of reactor for the needs of Swierk.”
Over time the R&D project is expected to evolve to a demonstration of a prototype unit. Japan has an HTGR as an R&D project for some time, and work on it was restarted in June 2020 after a series of safety upgrades.
In May 2017 Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA, President: Toshio Kodama) and National Centre for Nuclear Research (NCBJ) in the Republic of Poland concluded a memorandum of cooperation in the field of HTGR technologies. In Poland, construction of a practical HTGR (200-350 MW thermal) with heat supply to a variety of industries and a research HTGR (10 MW thermal) are the expected outcomes of the agreement.
Chart: Japan Atomic Energy Agency
Work scope in Poland over the next three years includes efforts to design and build the prototype units and eventually to assess irradiation effects on fuel and material. The use of heat from the reactor at the commercial stage is expected to be focused on its use by various industries as well as for the production of hydrogen.
The government website noted that construction of a HTGR “is a great opportunity for Polish science and economy, which can bring additional benefits: development of competences and international competitiveness of Polish research teams, development of Polish research specialties or contribution to Polish energy mix significantly contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.”
Licensing Fee Reform Can Catalyze Advanced Nuclear Innovation for Rapid Decarbonization – Study
The Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA) released a new report, “Unlocking Advanced Nuclear Innovation: The Role of Fee Reform and Public Investment.” Timely development of advanced nuclear energy is essential for meeting mid-century climate targets. The new NIA report concludes that more public investment combined with reform of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) user fee model for new license applicants will unlock nuclear innovation and support U.S. leadership in advanced nuclear energy.
The report analyzes this model and finds that reforming it while increasing public investment is necessary to catalyze private-sector innovation by reducing regulatory costs while also promoting the efficiency of NRC reviews.
The Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA) is a non-profit think-and-do-tank working to enable nuclear power as a global solution to mitigate climate change.
Through policy analysis, research, and education, we are catalyzing the next era of nuclear energy. Our organization is funded primarily through charitable grants and philanthropic donations from climate-concerned individuals and organizations.
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