US Pledges $14M to Support NuScale in Romania

  • US Pledges $14 Million For Romania’s SMR Project with NuScale
  • SaskPower Selects the GE-Hitachi BWRX-300 SMR
  • Sweden’s Vattenfall to Study SMRs for Ringhals
  • EDF Ramps Up  to Win Dukovany New Reactor Contract
  • CEZ Signs Nuclear Fuel Contracts With Westinghouse And Framatome
  • Rosatom Gets Green Light From Egypt To Build Dabaa Nuclear Plant
  • NNSA Issues RFP to Purchase Strategic Uranium Supplies

US Pledges $14 Million For Romania’s SMR Project with NuScale

(Nuscale-Logo(Horizontal_BlueTM)wTagWNN)  The US government, working with NuScale Power, is to provide $14 million in support for the Front-End Engineering and Design (FEED) study for Romania’s deployment of a first-of-its-kind small modular reactor (SMR) plant as part of a flagship project launched at the Group of Seven (G7) leaders’ summit in Germany. The financial commitment is a follow-up to an MOU announced last November at COP26 by Department of Energy Secretary Granholm.

President Biden made the financial commitment as part of the launch of the G7’s Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII) (Fact Sheet). The FEED study is one of the partnership’s flagship projects.

Biden said the US would mobilize $200 billion in public and private capital over the next five years for the partnership which collectively aims to raise nearly $600 billion from G7 nations by 2027.

One of the key elements of the program is the expectation by G7 governments that private sector foreign direct investment in climate change mitigation and prevention efforts would outpace donor nation funding by several multiples.

The scope of work for the $14 million in US funding is that Romanian company Nuclearelectrica and NuScale will cooperate with the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) on a series of engineering and design activities and studies, as well further technical analyses of a former thermal power plant site which has been identified as a potential location for the SMR plant.

The study is expected to take eight months and cost $28 million in total with matching contributions from Nuclearelectrica and NuScale. It will provide Romania with site-specific data such as cost, construction, schedule, and licensing details, necessary for the deployment of a NuScale SMR nuclear power plant. It will also identify potential Romanian services, manufacturing and assembly suppliers to support localization of the supply chain thus creating new jobs associated with fabrication and manufacturing of components for the plant.

According to Nuclearelectrica, the SMR plant will generate 193 permanent jobs, plus many more in construction and production, and will help Romania to avoid the generation of four million tons of CO2 per year.

“Like in the case of the Cernavoda Nuclear [power plant], the first small modular reactors power plant will generate, in the area where it will be built, clean energy and strong economic growth for the local community by creating thousands of jobs, investments in infrastructure, growth of the chain of local suppliers, tax funds to the local budget and it will contribute to forming a new generation of technical specialists through investment in high-quality education,” Nuclearelectrica CEO Cosmin Ghita said.

The commitment to the FEED study follows a pledge made by US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis at the 2021 UN Conference on Climate Change in Glasgow (COP26), where they announced their intent to deploy an SMR in Romania in partnership with NuScale.

“Nuclear energy, including small modular reactors, represents a critical tool in the fight against climate change, and can also enhance energy security and boost economic prosperity,” Kerry said regarding the G7 announcement;

“This is a strong step forward in support of Romania’s desire to deploy innovative, safe, and zero-emissions nuclear energy in partnership with the United States.”

Enoh Ebong, director of the US TDA, said the FEED study would build on the agency’s existing commitments to deploy SMR solutions to the region, including grant funding for a study that helped Romania identify and assess several locations where existing coal-fired power plants could be replaced with SMR plants.

“Our engagement is having the intended result of creating new business opportunities for US industry in an important market and advancing energy security across the region.”

The NuScale nuclear power plant is a pressurized water reactor with all the components for steam generation and heat exchange incorporated into a single unit generating 77 MWe. A 50 MWe SMR design received approval from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. NuScale offers its SMR power stations in 12, four and six-module configurations. The firm is building a first-of-a-kind power station for its customer UAMPS at a site in Idaho.

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SaskPower Selects the GE-Hitachi BWRX-300 SMR

SaskPower has selected the GE-Hitachi BWRX-300 for potential deployment in Saskatchewan in the mid-2030s. The decision follows an  assessment of several SMR technologies. The utility has plenty of choices as there are 13 reactor designs involved in Vendor Design Review (VDR) at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). Three are light water designs and the other 10 are a variety of advanced designs.

The GEH SMR is based on the full size 1,500 MWe ESBWR, which is a light water design also developed by GEH. Although one has never been built, it completed a safety evaluation at the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in 2014. The GEH SMR is the largest SMR involved in VDR, and is currently involved in a combined Phase 1 & 2 process having kicked it off in January 2020.

ge_hitachiSaskPower’s assessment focused on several key factors including safety, technology readiness, generation size, fuel type and expected cost of electricity.

The selection follows an independent and comprehensive assessment process that also included close collaboration with Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and a review by Calian, an independent engineering firm with extensive experience in Canada’s nuclear industry.

The likely clinchers for the BWRX-300 at SaskPower is that it has been selected by Ontario Power Group (OPG) as its first SMR design and that its design can be supported by supply chains familiar with BWR type reactors. In December 2021, OPG selected the GE-Hitachi BWRX-300 for their Darlington New Nuclear Project in Ontario.

SaskPower has assessed the potential for a fleet-based deployment of nuclear power, across multiple Canadian provinces. A fleet-based approach offers many advantages for Saskatchewan, including lower regulatory, construction and operating costs while also eliminating first-of-a-kind risk.

The two provinces will likely collaborate in their development of SMRs. Also, OPG has a collaboration effort with TVA in the US for the BWRX-300.TVA expects to license the BWRX-300 at the NRC by the end of 2024. GE-Hitachi GEH is working with OPG to deploy a BWRX-300 at the Darlington site as early as 2028.

Despite all this activity, SaskPower said it will not make a decision whether to build an SMR until 2029. Several years of complex project development, licensing and regulatory work are required ahead of the decision.

SaskPower is currently conducting a detailed technical evaluation of potential regions that could host an SMR, and is expected to identify these suitable regions this year. The utility has a goal of having an SMR in revenue service by 2034.

“This is an important milestone as Saskatchewan works towards a cleaner, more sustainable future,” said Don Morgan, Minister responsible for SaskPower. “Today’s announcement further acts on the Saskatchewan Growth Plan goal of advancing potential development of zero-emission small modular reactor technology.”

“We are excited that SaskPower has chosen our technology as it looks to SMRs for the generation of carbon-free electricity,” said Jay Wileman, President & CEO, GEH.

“ Decades of design and licensing experience coupled with our proven and existing fuel supply chain position the BWRX-300 as the leading SMR solution.”

“Today marks the beginning of an exciting relationship between SaskPower and GE-Hitachi, a leader in the nuclear energy field that has the potential to benefit SaskPower and Saskatchewan for many decades to come,” said Interim President and CEO at SaskPower, Troy King.

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Sweden’s Vattenfall to Study SMRs for Ringhals

With electricity consumption in Sweden expected to increase rapidly in the coming decades, power company Vattenfall said on June 28th that it is working to find how different fossil-free energy sources can satisfy the increased demand. As part of this, Vattenfall is initiating a pilot study looking at the conditions for building at least two small modular reactors (SMRs) adjacent to the NPP.

The pilot study will look at the central issues in order to assess the conditions for proceeding with a decision to build at least two SMR reactors adjacent to Ringhals NPP. Work on the pilot study will start immediately and it is expected to be completed by around the end of 2023 or early 2024. If all goes well the utility thinks it could have the two SMRs in revenue service by the early 2030s.

Torbjörn Wahlborg, head of Business Area Generation at Vattenfall, said in a press statement, “Ringhals is a suitable location for new nuclear power for several reasons. On the one hand, we are allowed to replace the two shutdown reactors Ringhals 1 and Ringhals 2 within the existing legislation, and on the other hand, there is already grid infrastructure in place that makes connecting new electricity generation simpler.

There’s also a lot of acceptance for both existing and new nuclear power at Ringhals and Forsmark. One major advantage is also the comprehensive skill level available at Ringhals.”

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EDF Ramps Up  to Win Dukovany New Reactor Contract

(NucNet) French energy group EDF announced it has established a new branch in the Czech capital Prague to support the company’s nuclear activities on the local market including procuring a new reactor unit for the Dukovany nuclear power station.

edfThe company said the new unit, EDF Nuclear Czechia, will focus primarily on consolidating EDF’s EPR-1200 technology offer for a proposed Dukovany tendering process. In December 2021, EDF signed 10 agreements with key Czech companies active in the nuclear field.

“The establishment of the EDF branch in the Czech Republic comes at a crucial time and is further proof of EDF’s commitment to anchor its partnership with the Czech nuclear industry,” said Roman Zdebor, the newly appointed director of EDF Nuclear Czechia.

In March 2022, Czech utility CEZ launched a tender process to choose a supplier for a new nuclear power unit at the existing Dukovany nuclear site in the southeast of the country.

Construction of the new unit should begin in 2029 and be completed by 2036, with the project cost estimated around €6 billion.

Three companies are in the running for the contract having passed a security appraisal: France’s EDF, South Korea’s Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power and the US company Westinghouse. Chinese and Russian state companies were excluded from entering the tender process due to security concerns.

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Czech Republic / CEZ Signs Nuclear Fuel Contracts With Westinghouse And Framatome for Temelín VVER Plant

(NucNet) Czech state-controlled utility CEZ has signed agreements with US-based Westinghouse Electric and France’s Framatome to supply fuel assemblies for the Temelín nuclear power station.

VVER fuel assemblyAccording to CEZ, the new fuel deliveries will begin in 2024 to fully replace the current fuel supplier, which is Russia’s Tvel.

There are two Russia-designed VVER-1000 pressurized water reactor units in commercial operation at the Temelín site. Since 2019 Westinghouse-made fuel assemblies have been in operation in the reactor core of Unit 1.

Westinghouse said the term of fuel deliveries under the new contract is “anticipated” to be 15 years. No value for the contract has been disclosed, but CEZ said it will be worth “billions of crowns” (meaning tens of millions of euros).

Westinghouse said it will supply modified Robust Westinghouse Fuel Assemblies (RWFA), a new design that is compatible with non-Westinghouse fuel during the plant’s supplier transition. It added that the RWFA is designed to increase fuel economy and has demonstrated its performance and reliability when used in Ukraine’s fleet of VVER-1000 reactor units.

Bohdan Zronek, director of the nuclear energy division at CEZ, said the Czech company’s goal is to minimize fuel supply risks, while Westinghouse’s president for fuel Tarik Choho said his company is also looking forward to providing fuel for the Dukovany VVER-440 PWR units in the near future.

Westinghouse had already supplied fuel for VVER-1000 pressurized water reactor (PWR) designs for six of Ukraine’s 15 commercial nuclear units.

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Rosatom Gets Green Light From Egypt To Build Dabaa Nuclear Plant

(Reuters) Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy corporation, Rosatom, said it had received permission from an Egyptian regulator to start building the country’s first nuclear plant. Rosatom said in a statement the permission from the Egyptian regulator allows it to start construction on the first power unit out of the planned four with a capacity of 1,200 MWe each.

Egypt and Russia signed an agreement to start work on Egypt’s Dabaa nuclear power plant during a meeting in Cairo between President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and President Vladimir Putin in 2017. Russia is paying 85% of the costs.

While it is unclear how Rosatom’s accounting system tracks costs, assuming the reactors are budgeted for bench marking purposes at the globally significant figure of $5,000/KW, each 1,200 MWe VVER would cost $6 billion and all four would cost $24 billion. Other costs will include fuel for the 60 year service life of the reactors and grid improvements to bring electricity to customers.

Typically, Russia retrogrades the spent fuel from export reactor sites to a reprocessing center once it has cooled off enough in wet storage. According to the IAEA,  one-stop-shop for spent fuel management is located at Russia’s Mining and Chemical Complex (MCC) near Krasnoyarsk, Siberia.

World Nuclear News reported that Alexander Korchagin, Senior Vice President for NPP Construction Project Management at Rosatom Engineering Division, added: “Pouring the ‘first concrete’ at unit 1 is up next, signifying the beginning of the active stage of the project’s construction works.”

Located on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast, the El Dabaa site is 320 kilometers (200 miles) west of Cairo. Rosatom is also building four 1200 MWe VVER at Akkuyu on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. It has built similar units in Belarus and at domestic Russian sites.

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NNSA Issues RFP to Purchase Strategic Uranium Supplies

Uranium symbol(WNN) The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has begun the process to initiate the USA’s strategic uranium reserve, issuing a solicitation to purchase up to an estimated one million pounds of domestically-produced U3O8.

The solicitation issued as a Request for Proposal (RFP) is for purchase of uranium “provided by a vendor that has produced uranium at a domestic uranium recovery facility at any time since 1 January 2009,” where a uranium recovery facility is defined as a licensed uranium mining, in-situ leach or milling facility. The vendor is not required to be currently producing uranium at a uranium recovery facility.

The uranium must be from inventory already in storage at the Honeywell Metropolis Works uranium conversion facility in Metropolis, Illinois, and must not have been “exchanged, swapped, or augmented with uranium imported from foreign countries, e.g., Russia, and shall not have any peaceful-use or end-use restrictions.” The Honeywell plant has been closed to low demand, but it is scheduled to reopen in 2023.

The government anticipates making up to four individual awards of 100,000 to 500,000 pounds U3O8 for the total of 1 million pounds U3O8 (385 tU).

The US Congress allocated funding for the establishment of the reserve, to address challenges to the production of domestic uranium and ensure a backup supply in the event of a significant market disruption, in its 2020 budget.

US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm in May confirmed to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources that the Department of Energy (DOE) would make purchases for the reserve during the present calendar year. The deadline for proposals is August 1st.

Separately, according to the Exchange Monitor, a trade publication, DOE this week solicited bids for a potentially 10-year contract to produce high assay low-enriched uranium fuel using a centrifuge cascade Centrus Energy Corp. built at the Portsmouth Site in Piketon, Ohio. (RFP document)

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