- OPG and X-energy Team Up for Industrial Process Heat
- OPG Updates Green Bond Framework to Include Nuclear Energy
- TerraPower Seeks NRC Construction Approval By 2025
- NRC Issues Final EIS for Holtec’s Spent Fuel Interim Storage Facility
- Two Applications for SMRs Submitted to Polish Nuclear Safety Regulator
- Poland’s KGHM – Nu Scale SMRs May Cost $2 Billion to Build
- Westinghouse and Energoatom Sign Agreement For New AP1000s
- Japan / Prime Minister Calls For Restart Of Nine More Reactors
- Curio and Energy Northwest Sign MOU for Nuclear Fuel Recycling
- NIA Publishes Two New Reports on Advanced Reactors
OPG and X-energy Team Up for Industrial Process Heat
- Deployment of the Firm’s Xe-100 HTGR Can Reduce Industrial Carbon Emissions
Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and X-energy have signed a framework agreement to pursue opportunities to deploy Xe-100 small modular reactors (SMRs) for industrial applications in Canada. The Xe-100 is a Gen-IV High-Temperature Gas-cooled Reactors (HTGR). As a pebble bed HTGR, the Xe-100 would use TRISO fuel particles encased in graphite pebbles as the fuel and helium as the coolant.
OPG and X-energy will pursue opportunities to deploy Xe-100 advanced reactors in Ontario at industrial sites and identify further potential end users and sites throughout Canada. OPG owns and operates four commercial nuclear power plants at the Darlington nuclear station and six at the Pickering station.
The Xe-100 high-temperature gas-cooled reactor optimizes proven technology to enable decarbonization of industrial end use applications. Efficiently combining high-temperature steam and power production, the Xe-100 can directly support heavy industry including oil sands operations, mining applications, and other industrial processes. Temperatures in the chart below are in Celsius.
X-energy developed and designed its Xe-100 reactor by building and improving on decades of high-temperature gas reactor research, development, and operating experience. This Generation IV reactor is scalable to meet demand.
One unit can generate up to 80 MWe of electricity from 200 MWt of thermal power. It efficiently produces steam at 565C and offers highly flexible co-generation options, making it the ideal candidate for decarbonizing multiple industrial processes and supporting end-user power needs.
Image: Royal Society, UKX-Energy’s Xe-10 is currently in the 2nd Phase of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s (CNSC) Vendor Design Review process. No date has been identified on the CNSC website for a license application.
This is the second SMR effort inked by OPG. In November 2021, OPG announced it would work with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy to deploy a BWRX-300 SMR at the Darlington new nuclear site. It is the only site in Canada currently licensed for a new nuclear construction, which is expected to be completed by the end of this decade.
The BWRX-300 is in Phase 2 of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s Vendor Design Review process. No date has been identified on the CNSC website for a license application.
OPG Collaboration with TVA
OPG also has a collaboration agreement with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) on SMRs that also involves the BWRX-300. TVA announced in May that it will leverage its current early site permit (ESP) for a small modular reactor (SMR) to submit an application for an NRC Part 50 construction license for a GE-Hitachi 300 MWe BWRX-300 SMR by 2024..
Last year, TVA’s board approved investment of up to $200 million in a new nuclear program centered on Clinch River, and the authority is now in the process of supporting the detailed design development of GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy’s BWRX300 and developing the licensing application package.
According to the NRC the BWRX-300 is in Pre-Application review of Licensing Topical Reports. A date has not been announced for submission of an application for a design certification review. Applications must closely analyze the design’s appropriate response to accidents or natural events. Applications must also lay out the inspections, tests, analyses and acceptance criteria that will verify the construction of key design features.
OPG Support for NRCan SMR Action Plan
Natural Resources Canada’s SMR Action Plan shows an estimated global value of $150B per year by 2040 in the following areas. It calls for which called for the development, demonstration and deployment of SMRs with the first units potentially operating in the late 2020s. The SMR Action plan says development and deployment of SMRs in Canada could yield up to $19B in total annual economic impact between 2030-2040, creating more than 6,000 new jobs annually across the country.
- To replace coal-fired generation;
- To provide heat and power for mines;
- To provide steam for heavy industry; and
- For remote island nations and off-grid communities.
Four Canadian provincial governments are pushing ahead with a plan to develop nuclear power in Canada with calls for the federal government to back ambitious plans for SMRs and a new class of Generation IV micro-SMR for remote communities and mines. The provinces are calling for a grid-scale SMR project of 300 MWe constructed at the Darlington nuclear site in Ontario by 2028 with subsequent units to follow in Saskatchewan.
Saskatchewan Follows OPG’s Lead
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.
SaskPower’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.
OPG Updates Green Bond Framework to Include Nuclear Energy
Ontario Power Generation (OPG) released an update to its green bond framework that now includes eligible nuclear projects. Net proceeds from CAD300M ($232M) in green bonds will be used to finance Darlington Refurbishment, one of Canada’s largest clean energy projects.
Once complete, this $12.8 billion project will enable production of clean, safe, low cost and emission free electricity from Darlington for an additional 30-plus years. Execution of Darlington Refurbishment recently passed the half-way point, on time and on budget.
In addition, CICERO Shades of Green, a leading provider of independent, research-based evaluations of green bond and sustainability financing frameworks, completed a second-party opinion on OPG’s green bond framework with a CICERO Medium Green shading and a governance score of Good.
According to OPG in a statement to investors, this issuance brings OPG’s green bond program to a total of $2.8 billion. The bonds were offered as part of OPG’s medium term notes series in each of the provinces of Canada, through a syndicate of agents co-led by BMO Capital Markets and CIBC World Markets as Lead Agents and Joint Bookrunners. It was well received by the market despite recent historical Bank of Canada rate hike of 100 basis points and was oversubscribed 5.8 times.
Ontario continues to invest in nuclear power as a key component of the province’s climate goals. More than 60% of the province’s power is generated by nuclear energy and the two largest stations – Darlington and Bruce – are scheduled to operate for decades to come. The continued operation of Darlington Nuclear to 2055 will create the same emissions reduction as taking 2 million Ontario cars of the road per year.
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TerraPower Seeks Construction License By 2025
- First reactor planned for a retiring coal plant site in Wyoming
(NucNet) US-based TerraPower, the nuclear technology company founded by Bill Gates and who continues as one of its major investors, is aiming to get construction approval from the NRC under the Part 50 process by 2025 for its first Natrium nuclear power plant in Wyoming, according to Chris Levesque, the company’s CEO. The Natirum reactor is a 345 MWe sodium-cooled fast reactor with a molten salt-based energy storage system.
Mr Levesque said about 800 people are working on the Natrium nuclear power reactor project across a partnership with GE Hitachi and Bechtel.
TerraPower and its partners are developing the Natrium reactor demonstration project, which is one of two projects supported through dollar-for-dollar cost sharing by the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (DOE Infographic – large file)
Levesque said half of the cost of the first Natrium plant in Wyoming will be financed by the US government, whose support is “crucial” in assisting US companies in competing with state-owned champions from Russia and China.
TerraPower has said the plant’s simplified design and use of advanced construction methods will make it faster and more affordable to build than conventional plants, and its constant high operating temperature can be used to generate carbon-free heat or electricity to drive other energy-intensive manufacturing processes.
According to Levesque, TerraPower’s approach to the Natrium plant is to “decouple” its nuclear island construction from conventional construction, which will help deliver the project on schedule and within cost estimates.
He said since many of the plant systems will not be nuclear-related, a major part of construction could begin even before the NRC issues the construction permit. Under the Part 50 licensing process the firm will have to submit a separate application for an operating license which includes a safety evaluation report.
The Naughton coal plant, operated by utility PacifiCorp, is scheduled for retirement in 2025. TerraPower has said it is aiming for its first Natrium plant at the site to begin operation in 2028.
By locating the Natrium reactor near the retiring coal plant, TerraPower has said it could take advantage of the existing energy infrastructure that is in place including cooling water and grid transmission and also the workforce.
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NRC Issues Final EIS for Holtec’s Spent Fuel Interim Storage Facility
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has published its final environmental impact statement (FEIS) for Holtec International’s application for a license to construct and operate a consolidated interim spent nuclear fuel storage facility near Hobbs, NM. Based on its environmental review, the NRC staff recommends issuing the license, subject to the determinations in the staff’s safety review of the application.
Holtec proposes initially to store 500 canisters holding approximately 8,680 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel in a first phase and eventually to store up to 10,000 canisters in an additional 19 phases. The canisters would be transported by rail from operating, decommissioning, and decommissioned commercial nuclear power plants around the country.
According to Holtec, the Hi-Store consolidated interim storage facility, will provide a significant step on the path to the federal government’s longstanding obligation for disposition of used nuclear fuel. The company said the facility will bring to one location used nuclear fuel canisters presently scattered across the country at dozens of independent used fuel storage sites.
“Every nuclear plant stores used fuel on site as the industry awaits the completion of either a consolidated interim storage site or permanent disposal repository by the federal government,” Holtec said.
“Taxpayers are assessed $800 million annually because of the federal government’s failure to meet its obligation to dispose of used fuel that currently resides at nuclear plants across the country, creating a liability that has cost American taxpayers $6.9 billion through 2017.”
Onsite storage of used nuclear fuel at nuclear power plants was never intended to be permanent. Spent nuclear fuel is being stored at 121 different facilities in 39 states. Each facility has its own security, operations, and maintenance requirements. A single facility would be beneficial because it would consolidate security, operations, and maintenance resources.
The NRC’s EIS assesses the environmental impacts of the entire project, or all 20 possible phases, from construction through decommissioning. It looked at the impacts to land use, transportation, geology and soils, surface waters and wetlands, groundwater, ecological resources, historic and cultural resources, environmental justice and several other areas.
The agency published a draft EIS for public comment in March 2020. Due to the Covid-19 public health emergency, the public comment period was extended to six months. During that time, the NRC staff held six online public meetings to present the draft EIS and receive public comments. More than 4,800 comment submissions with 3,718 individual comments were received and addressed in the final EIS.
Publication of the final EIS completes the environmental portion of the NRC’s licensing review. The staff will make a licensing decision following completion of its safety evaluation report, expected in January 2023. New Mexico state officials and the oil and gas industry in New Mexico have opposed the NRC license and have disregarded the safety track record of dry casks for storage of spent fuel. Holtec is a global expert on manufacturing of the casks.
Interim Storage Partners Licensed in Texas
The Holtec proposed facility is the second effort underway to establish an interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel. Interestingly, it is less than an hour’s drive from Andrews, TX, which is the site of another planned interim storage facility.
In September 2021 the NRC issued a license to Interim Storage Partners LLC to construct and operate a consolidated interim storage facility for used nuclear fuel in Andrews, Texas. Interim Storage Partners is a joint venture of Waste Control Specialists LLC (WCS) and Orano USA.
The license authorizes the company to receive, possess, transfer and store up to 5000 tonnes of used fuel and 231.3 tonnes of Greater-Than-Class C (GTCC) low-level radioactive waste for 40 years. GTCC is defined by the NRC as low-level radioactive waste with concentrations of radionuclides that exceed certain limits.
Interim Storage Partners intends to construct the storage facility on property adjacent to WCS’s existing low-level radioactive waste disposal site, which is already operating under a Texas license. The company has said it plans to expand the new facility in seven additional phases, of 5,000 tonnes each up to a total capacity of 40,000 ton of fuel. Each expansion would require a license amendment with additional NRC safety and environmental reviews.
Texas state officials and the oil and gas industry have opposed plans for the facility and have disregarded the safety track record of dry casks for storage of spent fuel. Orano, one of the partners in the project, has decades of experience safely managing spent nuclear fuel at US reactors.
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Applications for SMRs Submitted to Polish Nuclear Safety Regulator
(WNN contributed to this report) Two applications have been submitted to Poland’s National Atomic Energy Agency (Panstwowa Agencja Atomistyki, PAA) for the assessment of small modular reactor (SMR) technology. Copper and silver producer KGHM Polska Miedz SA‘s application is based on NuScale’s VOYGR SMR power plant, while Orlen Synthos Green Energy’s application concerns GE Hitachi (GEH) Nuclear Energy’s BWRX-300.
The applications are for a ‘general opinion’ on the planned organizational and technical solutions used in the respective reactors. PAA said a general opinion, “as a prelicensing instrument, may apply to any solutions planned by the investor, including design, technological and organizational solutions, which will have a direct impact on the issues of nuclear safety and radiological protection.” It could take six-to-nine months to complete the review process.
The resulting opinion will determine whether the planned organizational and technical solutions comply with the requirements of nuclear safety and radiological protection resulting from the provisions of the country’s Atomic Law Act, or whether the investor will need to make changes to its proposal.
In February this year, KGHM, which submitted its application on July 8th, signed a definitive agreement with NuScale to initiate work towards deploying a first NuScale VOYGR SMR power plant in Poland as early as 2029. The first task under that agreement will identify and assess potential project sites and develop project planning milestones and cost estimates.
Orlen Synthos Green Energy, a joint venture between chemical producers Synthos Green Energy (SGE) and PKN Orlen, also submitted its application on July 8th. SGE, together with its partners, aim to deploy the first BWRX-300 in 2029 and to have at least 10 of the reactors in operation by the early 2030s. In terms of its supply chain the firm has signed on BWXT Canada to provide components for the reactors.
Orlen Synthos Green Energy said that the technical documentation submitted with its application is based on the documentation prepared by GEH for the Canadian nuclear regulator as part of the Vendor Design Review (VDR) process. The BWRX-300 is in Phase 2 of the VDR process. No date has been identified on the CNSC website for a license application.
Ontario Power Generation last year selected the BWRX-300 for deployment at its Darlington site, where it says Canada’s first commercial, grid-scale SMR could be completed as soon as 2028.
“Thanks to this, it will be possible to use the Canadian experience in the field of development, preparation of the investment process, licensing, construction and operation of a nuclear power plant of the same type in Poland,” Orlen said.
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Poland’s KGHM – SMRs May Cost $2 Billion to Build
Six small modular nuclear reactors which Polish miner KGHM (KGH.WA) aims to build with technology firm NuScale Power could cost up to $2 billion, Chief Financial Officer Andrzej Kensbok told the Reuters news service at a press event. KGHM and NuScale Power signed a deal in February to start deploying small modular reactors in Poland, aiming to have the first one operational by 2029.
“The cost of six units may be around $1.5 billion to $2 billion,” Kensbok told a news conference. At 77 MWe per unit, for a total of 462 MWe, the cost of $2B would indicate a unit cost of just over $4,300/Kw.
Synthos Green has not released information on a cost estimate for its plans to deploy up to 10 GE Hitachi (GEH) BWRX300 SMRs. GEH has previously claimed it can deliver the SMRs, using factory based production and assembly methods, for about $3,000/Kw.
Based on the firm’s estimate, each 300 MWe unit would cost approximately $900M. A 10-unit fleet would cost about $10 billion. Synthos Green has not released a schedule for production and deployment of the fleet. Assuming it can pay for and take delivery of one unit every two years, the $10 billion cost, spread over two decades, would require the firm to raise $500M/year in capital.
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Westinghouse and Energoatom New Sign Agreement For New AP1000s
- Kyiv Is Updating a Feasibility Study For Two New Reactors at the Khmelnitski Site
(NucNet) Westinghouse Electric Company has signed a contract with Energoatom, Ukraine’s national nuclear power company, to provide technical information about the AP1000 nuclear plant in support of Energoatom’s feasibility study update for the construction of two reactors at the Khmelnitski nuclear power station site in southwestern Ukraine.
The contract builds on an earlier agreement between Westinghouse and Energoatom to construct AP1000s for Khmelnitski units 5 and 6 and begin the licensing process for the two plants.
Energoatom has said that the two new planned Westinghouse units at Khmelnitski will be separate from the unfinished Khmelnitski unit 3 and unit4 plants and will be built on a new site at the existing station. An earlier agreement called for Westinghouse to consider completing one of the two partially built Russian VVERs. This effort would have required cooperation from Rosatom which is now impossible given Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
The companies have also announced plans to set up a Westinghouse engineering center in Ukraine to support the new-build program, the present operating fleet of 15 commercial nuclear units, and future decommissioning.
In June 2022, Westinghouse and Energoatom expanded agreements for Westinghouse to supply all nuclear fuel for the Energoatom operating fleet in Ukraine.
Financing for the deal for new reactors has not been announced though EnergoAtom has previously claimed that the US government would provide some of the funds needed for the project. However, both the US Export/Import Bank and the US Department of Energy have declined to comment.
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Japan / Prime Minister Calls For Restart Of Nine More Reactors
(NucNet) Japan’s prime minister Fumio Kishida said he will aim to restart up to nine commercial nuclear power plants to address a looming winter electricity shortage. The move will allow the country to secure about 10% of its electricity needs from nuclear energy Kishida said.
“Safety will be a prerequisite for taking this forward,” Kishida said. He added: “We need to have a balanced mix of various energy sources.”
Before the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear accident in 2011, Japan’s fleet of 54 nuclear power plants generated about 30% of the country’s electricity. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency that figure was 5.1% in 2020.
Mr Kishida, whose LDP won recent upper house elections that confirmed his position as prime minister, is facing rising energy prices that are squeezing voters’ budgets. He said nuclear reactors would be part of the country’s future energy security policy.
Nine regional power utilities and a wholesaler, Japan Atomic Power Company (Japco), now have 33 reactors available for commercial use, but they need to meet post-Fukushima safety standards before they can operate and safety upgrades and regulatory approvals have been slow to be completed due to security concerns.
Japan has nine commercial nuclear reactors in operation. They are Genkai-3, Genkai-4, Ikata-3, Ohi-3, Ohi-4, Sendai-1, Sendai-2, Takahama-3 and Takahama-4.
While the public remains cautious about nuclear energy because of safety concerns, their attitude has shifted somewhat in light of the shifting geopolitical developments. According to a poll by Nikkei in March, 53% of respondents said they would support restarting nuclear reactors if their safety could be assured, the highest proportion since the 2011 disaster.
More than Two Dozen Restarts are Pending
While traveling in Japan recently, Jessica R. Lovering, Ph.D., @J_Lovering, of the DC based Good Energy Collective, Tweeted that 27 reactors in Japan have applied for license to restart, and 10 have already restarted. She said, “The country is trying to accelerate process in light of capacity shortfall during this summer (and winters),and it looks like 2023 could see 5 more restarts.”
“They are very focused on restarts right now. But they currently have a limit on relicensing, it can only happen once extending lifetimes to 60 years. And they can’t build nuclear on *new* sites, so there’s lots of interest in future SMRs at existing nuclear sites”
She added that construction on Rokkasho Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Facility will finish this year and they will start reprocessing soon. Fuel fabrication will start in first half of 2024 according to plan. Japan has long sought to convert its surplus stocks of plutonium into MOX fuel and to reprocess spent fuel from its fleet of light water reactors into future MOX fuel assemblies for domestic use.
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Curio and Energy Northwest Sign MOU for Nuclear Fuel Recycling
Curio announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Energy Northwest as an industry partner and potential off-taker of products produced through Curio’s NuCycle nuclear waste recycling process.
This MOU is part of Curio’s plans to deploy the Nation’s first state-of-the-art commercial nuclear fuel recycling facility that will provide a variety of in-demand commodities and products including domestically produced low-enriched uranium (LEU) nuclear fuel for the current U.S. fleet of nuclear reactors as well as HALEU (high-assay low-enriched uranium) and transuranic based TRUfuel for advanced reactors under development.
Curio developed NuCycle to recycle used nuclear fuel and develop off-take isotopes for a wide variety of industries to include space, advanced batteries, and nuclear medicine. NuCycle leverages decades of American R&D to create a compact, clean, economical, scalable and proliferation resistant nuclear waste recycling process.
With NuCycle, Curio said it will be able to dramatically reduce the quantity of radioactive nuclear waste and create a new and unprecedented standard for nuclear used fuel recycling across the globe.
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NIA Publishes Two New Reports on Advanced Reactors
- New Company Compendium Highlights Advanced Nuclear Industry Leaders and Updates its First-Ever Primer on Advanced Reactor Technology Basics
The Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA) released a new report, Advanced Nuclear Reactor Technology: A Company Compendium and an update for their report Advanced Nuclear Reactor Technology: A Primer
The NIA’s new and updated reports provide information, resources and insights into advanced nuclear technology innovation and commercialization. They are resources for investors, reporters, policymakers, regulators and others who want to learn more about advanced nuclear technologies and the key players building this industry.
With increasing attention being paid to supporting the technologies required to meet mid-century climate goals, these documents should serve as helpful guides to understanding the basics of advanced nuclear energy technology and what companies are involved in the design, licensing, construction, and operation of advanced nuclear reactors.
“We created this Company Compendium and updated our Primer to provide investors, media, congressional and administration staff and others the key information they need to understand the rapidly evolving advanced nuclear energy space”, explained NIA Executive Director Judi Greenwald.
“The Company Compendium serves as an introduction to the advanced reactor business ecosystem for potential investors and other key stakeholders while the Primer is intended as a “101” document that explains the characteristics of the most common advanced nuclear reactors and leading designs. Considering how both the business side and the technology side of the advanced nuclear energy community are evolving, both documents are intended to be “online” documents and they will be updated over time.”
The company held a webinar on July 13th to present the two reports. A video recording of the one-hour long program is available. The briefing featured NIA Executive Director Judi Greenwald, NIA Project Manager Patrick White, NIA Nuclear Innovation Analyst Victor Ibarra, Jr and two special guests: Art Hyde, Portfolio Manager at Segra Capital Management and James Wolf, Vice President, Finance, ARC Clean Energy.
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