Oklo Submits COL to NRC for 1.5MW Reactor

  • oklo logoOklo Submits the First Combined License Application for an Advanced Fission Plant.
  • Oklo’s combined license application for the Aurora powerhouse is the first to be submitted for an advanced fission plant.
  • Oklo is the first to submit a combined license application using an entirely new structure to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
  • The existing application and regulatory structures are based on historical nuclear reactor designs, and Oklo’s modernized application is an important step towards commercializing advanced technologies in the U.S.
  • Oklo’s license application is also the first privately funded combined license application, and the first to be submitted online.
  • The firm’s business model is to build, install, and operate the units for customers.

(Oklo) announces its submission of the first combined license application (COLA) for an advanced reactor to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Oklo’s application is a landmark milestone in the development of advanced fission technologies. In addition to being the first application for an advanced reactor, Oklo also pioneered a modernized and novel application structure for advanced fission technologies. Oklo’s application is also the first privately funded application for a commercial advanced reactor.

The NRC Public Affairs Office told this blog in an email, “”The Oklo application is in-house and the staff is going through its acceptance check.” It added that people interested in it should expect it to be available for [formal] public review in a month or two.

In a Facebook message Oklo has posted some of the application documents on Dropbox. Click here.

The California-based company began pre-application for the Aurora powerhouse with the NRC in 2016. The Aurora is an advanced fission power system that generates approximately 1.5 megawatts of clean power.

In 2018, Oklo piloted the new application structure with the NRC. The structure of the application was based on the regulations, completed interactively with NRC review and feedback to drive efficiency and effectiveness for future applications.

Caroline Cochran, COO and co-founder of Oklo, said, “We are excited to show that an application for a fundamentally different fission technology can meet and exceed existing regulations while not being impeded by guidance based on nuclear plants of decades ago.”

The NRC has taken a number of steps over the past several years to assure the effective and efficient review of applications for non-LWR technologies. “We are proud to reach this historic milestone. As the world’s leading nuclear regulator, the NRC is prepared to evaluate an advanced reactor application in an efficient and effective manner,” said CEO and co-founder of Oklo, Jacob DeWitte.

Oklo’s Director of Licensing, Alex Renner said, “This is not just a big step for Oklo. This license application is a significant step towards deploying advanced fission energy and starting the clean energy revolution for the sake of humanity and the environment. Clean air, the end of energy poverty, and a healthy environment for all life forms is waiting around the corner.

About Oklo Inc.: Oklo is a California-based company developing clean energy plants to provide emission-free, reliable, and affordable energy using advanced fission. Oklo’s first product is the Aurora, which produces 1.5MW of electric power and during its operation can save 1,000,000 tons of carbon emissions over the diesel generator alternative. The Aurora can produce clean energy for decades without needing to refuel, and also has capability to turn nuclear waste into clean energy.

Oklo received a Site Use Permit from the U.S Department of Energy, successfully demonstrated prototype of its metallic fuel, was awarded access to recycled nuclear fuel from Idaho National Laboratory, and submitted the first advanced fission combined license application.

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COVID-19 Resources

Note to Readers: The sources listed below are your best and most credible online sites for information on the COVID-19 virus.

World Health Organization
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

Centers for Disease Control
Coronavirus (COVID-19)
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html

five alive

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IAEA Supports Testing for Detection of the Coronavirus with Diagnostic Kits and Training to Use Them in 14 Countries

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will provide diagnostic kits, equipment and training in nuclear-derived detection techniques to countries asking for assistance in tackling the worldwide spread of the coronavirus causing COVID-19, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi announced this week.

Nuclear-derived techniques, such as RT-PCR, are important tools in the rapid detection and characterization of viruses, like the one causing COVID-19.

“Such tools are the only means to have certainty,” said IAEA Nuclear Medicine Physician Enrique Estrada Lobato.

The assistance, requested by 14 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, is part of intensified global efforts to contain infections. The diagnostic technique, known as Real-Time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR), can help detect and identify the coronavirus accurately within hours in humans, as well as in animals that may also host it.

“The Agency takes pride in its ability to respond quickly to crises, as we did in the recent past with the Ebola, Zika and African Swine Fever viruses,” said Mr Grossi in a statement to the IAEA Board of Governors.

“Contributing to international efforts to deal with the coronavirus will remain a priority for me as long as the outbreak persists.”

The first training course in detection techniques will take place at the Joint IAEA/Food Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Animal Production and Health Laboratory in Seibersdorf, Austria, in two weeks’ time.

It will include medical and veterinary experts from Cambodia, Republic of Congo, Cote d´Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam. Additional regional courses will be organized for other countries, including from Latin America and the Caribbean.

Participants will be trained in biosafety and biosecurity procedures to protect health and veterinary workers during sampling and analysis and to prevent further external contamination. They will immediately receive emergency toolkits with personal protection equipment, specific diagnostic reagents and laboratory consumables. A number of national laboratories will also receive additional equipment, such as bio-safety cabinets and RT-PCR devices.

The training will include veterinary experts in an effort to increase countries’ preparedness in the early detection of viruses that cause zoonotic diseases – those originating in animals that can spread to humans. They will be trained to test domestic and wild animals implicated in the transmission of coronaviruses, such as the new strain SARS-CoV-2 causing COVID-19, and others that cause Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

“If you know what is out there ahead of time, you have time to proactively prepare, either by developing vaccines or increasing your capacity for diagnosis and detection,” said Gerrit Viljoen, Head of the Animal Production and Health Section of the Joint IAEA/FAO Program for Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture.

The assistance to countries in tackling COVID-19 is delivered through the IAEA’s technical cooperation program, which supports the peaceful application of nuclear technology in areas such as human and animal health. It is funded through the IAEA’s Peaceful Uses Initiative, which was launched in 2010 to mobilize additional funding for such projects.

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One Hit, One Strike Out, and a Base on Balls

baseball

  • Argentina Positions a 25 MW SMR for Export
  • No Deal for Westinghouse with India
  • GEH Sets Progress on BWRX-300 Vendor Design Review with CNSC
  • First Open-Source Blueprint for Nuclear Plant Design

Argentina Positions a 25 MW SMR for Export

Argentina says it has plans to sell its 25 MW small modular reactor to Indonesia. In an unexpected development the country’s National Atomic Energy Commission announced this month that work on the first of a kind unit would be finished by the end of next year and offered for export to Indonesia. In addition to the 25 MW design, Argentina is said to have ambitions for 100 MW and 300 MW versions for export.

The local report, cited by long time nuclear industry analyst Arnaud Lefevre at NBN Media, does not include an expression of interest from Indonesia which has had serious talks, but no deals,  with several options for nuclear power including a a molten salt reactor from U.S. based Thorcon and a conventional 1000 MW VVER from Rosatom.

Barriers to making a commitment by the Indonesian government include hesitations about having the capacity to regulate the safety of the plans, financing and costs, and the risks of damage to reactors from earthquakes which are common among the many islands that make up the south pacific nation.

Progress on the CAREM reactor has been an on again/off again affair based on the available funding.   Work began in 2013, but the project’s private sector developer went bankrupt in 2014 and it wasn’t until 2019 that restructuring of the project was done. The restart of funded work, and an official objective of a completion date within the next 12 months, could put Argentina in the market with a viable product.

Profile of the CAREM SMR

CAREM (Spanish: Central Argentina de Elementos Modulares) is a small modular reactor for electrical power generation currently under construction near the city of Zárate, in the northern part of Buenos Aires province next to the Atucha I Nuclear Power Plant.

The reactor was designed by CNEA (National Atomic Energy Commission). It is a simplified pressurized water reactor (PWR) designed to have an electrical output of 25MW for the first prototype,

It is an integral reactor – the coolant system is inside the reactor vessel – so that the entire plant operates at the same pressure. This design minimizes the risk of loss-of-coolant accidents (LOCA).

Its fuel is uranium oxide with an enrichment  level of of 3.4% U235 with a 12 month refueling cycle. The primary coolant system uses natural circulation, so there are no pumps required, which provides inherent safety against core meltdown, even in accident situations.

No Deal for Westinghouse with India

After a monumental public relations campaign centered on President Trump’s visit to India on late February that touted the possibility of finally inking a deal for six 1150 MW AP1000s to be built there, the company came away empty handed one again.

The outcome was utterly predictable despite the fact that the U.S. sent a high powered team of officials from the Departments of Energy, Commerce, as well as representatives from Westinghouse and an industry trade group to push for closure on the deal which has been pending for at least a decade.

The primary reason there was no deal, and slim likelihood of getting one, is that India has continued to dig in its heels on its supplier liability law which sets open ended liability for reactor vendors in the case of an accident rather than laying the blame on the operator once a plant has entered revenue service.

After international protests over the policy by the U.S. and France, India offered a modest insurance pool to cover the costs of an accident, but no one, including NPCIL, thinks it is enough. France also has a nuclear reactor deal stuck in the same policy pothole for six 1600 MW reactors.

India’s Supplier liability law serves two useful purposes for country.  First, preserves the Indian nuclear market for Indian firms. The country has seven 700 MW PHWRs under construction with plans for 10 more.  All of them are being built by Indian heavy industry firms. The CANDU type designs do not require the large forgings of PWRs which means that the entire supply chain for all components can be supported by Indian firms and their workers.

Second, India has limited resources to build the nuclear generation capacity it wants to replace coal burning power plants.  Russia has offered favorable terms for the two 1000 MW reactors its built at Kudankulam, the two similar units that that are under construction there, and the two more than are planned for that site.

NPCIL has balked at the cost, and presumably the financial terms, associated with EDF’s offer for the six 1600 MW units slated for Jaitapur. At an estimated $6,500/Kw, the units would be competing for funds slated for the PHWRs NPCIL is building at less than half that cost per KW. In other words, NPCIL can build two 700 MW PHWRs, or 1400 MW of electrical power, for less than the price of one EDF EPR. Plus, all of the value of the supply chain to build the reactors, all 17 of them, will be captured by Indian firms.

While it isn’t known what financial terms Westinghouse is offering for its six 1150 MW AP1000s, the firm emerged from bankruptcy caused by the failed V C Summer project in South Carolina and was purchased from Toshiba by a private equity firm. These types of firms, who’s investors include the world’s major sovereign wealth funds,  are not interested in bargain basement pricing for major energy deals.

Lastly, the Economics Times in India reports that negotiations also got hung up on India’s demand that the AP1000s offered by Westinghouse be based on the four units the firm completed in China rather than the U.S. version. The reason is the aforementioned V C Summer project which tied itself up in knots over supply chain issues before going down the tubes due to general mismanagement.  Since then the SEC has filed a civil lawsuit against SCANA and several of its top executives alleging they lied to the public about problems associated with the construction of the twin Westinghouse reactors.

There has been some chatter in the Indian press that maybe India could generate export sales of SMRs to Africa. but where the reactors might come from is a mystery.

Rosatom said it might be interested in that business, but its SMR work is mostly back in the R&D section of the technology “S” curve except for a giant floating barge with two prototypes on it. So it’s not clear what the state owned enterprise has to offer. According to a January 2019 report in Nuclear Engineering Magazine, Roastom has six designs in various stages of development, but none are near term prospects for off-the-shelf installations in Africa by India, Rosatom, or anyone else.

Neither India, France, nor Westinghouse have a viable ready for export small modular reactor that would less costly on a per KW basis than a full size plant even if it is based on conventional light water reactor design principles and relatively easy to build.

GEH Sets Progress On BWRX-300 Vendor Design Review with CNSC

(NucNet) A bright spot in the nuclear world is that US-based GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) has submitted the first documents for its BWRX-300 small modular reactor (SMR) design to the vendor design review (VDR) process of the Canadian nuclear regulator.

The statement said the documentation to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) is for the combined phase 1 and 2 of the review and addresses eight of the 19 VDR focus areas, including general plant description, control system and facilities, research and development, and design process. By combining the first two stages, the overall process gets to to the finish line faster.

In May 2019, GEH initiated the VDR in Canada for the BWRX-300. The review will focus on identifying issues that could become fundamental barriers in a licensing process for a possible new-build project in Canada.

GEH said the VDR is an optional service by the CNSC to provide early feedback during the design process. The objective is to verify whether a plant design meets Canadian nuclear regulatory requirements at a pre-licensing stage.

The BWRX-300 is a 300-MW SMR derived from GEH’s 1,520 MW Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) design. According to GEH, the BWRX-300 leverages the design and licensing basis of the ESBWR, which received design certification in the US in 2014.

The company said it believes that the BWRX-300 can become cost-competitive with power generation from combined cycle gas and renewables.

GEE has also begun preliminary work on the regulatory licensing process for the SMR with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The firm says it plans to be able to offer the reactor for sale by 2028.

First Open-Source Blueprint for Nuclear Plant Design

(NucNet) A US-based organization has unveiled the world’s first open-source blueprint for the design, construction and financing of a nuclear power plant. The online platform serves as a repository for engineering schematics, construction schedules and financial models.

OPEN100 is intended to serve as a foundation for new power plant construction, offering developers a web interface to visualize plant and component design, costs studies, and construction plans.

The open-source format will allow startups, engineering firms, global utilities, and capital markets to align around a common framework.

The Energy Impact Center (EIC), founded in 2017 by robotics expert and podcast emcee Bret Kugelmass, said his organization has determined that the most viable option for tackling climate change was “an extraordinary expansion of nuclear energy.”

Its open source reactor design is based on a standard 100 MW pressurized water reactor. Kugelmass told this blog via email that the design is not based on the South Korean SMART reactor, which is a 100 MW design offered for export by that country.

Despite publishing pages of computer aided design images and engineering models on its website, it isn’t clear how many advanced safety features and other unified elements like steam generators are incorporated in it  Kugelmass said in his email that the design is more closely aligned with GEN II type PWRs to keep things simple and costs under control.

Kugelmass claims that the 100-MW unit, which needs a very small site and could be built in urban areas, would have a construction time of 1.5 to 2 years and an overnight cost of $300M or $3,000/Kw.  That’s an extraordinary claim as most other SMRs, e.g, designs being developed with electrical power ratings of 100-300MW, have estimates of costs in the range of $4,000/Kw +/- $500/Kw.

Mr Kugelmass asserted that the OPEN100 open source project will “radically change the way we deploy nuclear power plants, offering a substantially less expensive and less complicated solution.”

Mr Kugelmass said that for the past 50 years, rising costs and delays associated with overly complicated and proprietary designs have severely limited the deployment of nuclear power around the world. He says his approach will fix this problem.

Kugelmass told Venturebeat Magazine on 2/25/20 that he had raised $3 million so far to spin-out, Last Energy, a for-profit entity to connect private capital with international energy development opportunities.

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Neutron Bytes Updates List Pages

The Neutron Bytes page: Nuclear Energy Reading List for the Curious – has been updated. It’s hard to keep up with a global industry. Here are some sources to help with the task. Scroll down for the book list
https://neutronbytes.com/nuclear-reading-list/

The Neutron Bytes page: Lists of Advanced Nuclear Reactor Projects – has been updated.
* Lists of Advanced Nuclear Reactor Projects.
* Analysis: New paradigms emerge for innovation and investment in advanced nuclear energy reactor designs.
https://neutronbytes.com/advanced-reactor-development-projects/

The Neutron Bytes page: List of Pro-Nuclear Groups – has been updated. Be an Advocate for Nuclear Energy ~ Here’s Where to Start.
https://neutronbytes.com/pronuclear/

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DOE National Labs Kickstart Work on Micro and Small Modular Reactors at Two Sites

  • Kickstart-motorcycleIdaho National Laboratory Selects Oklo Inc. for Opportunity to Demonstrate Reuse of Fuel Material
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory & TVA Sign Agreement to Collaborate on Advanced Reactor Technologies Including SMRs

Idaho Lab and Oklo to Work on Nuclear Fuel Project

INL will provide Oklo with access to recovered material from used nuclear fuel.
This award paves the way for an important demonstration of the first Oklo 1.5 MW Aurora plant, as well as the ability of advanced reactors to convert used nuclear fuel into clean energy.  The fuel is downblended from higher levels of enrichment to be more than 5% U235 and less than 20% which is also known as “high assay low enriched fuel.” Use of this material would allow a reactor like Oklo’s to run for years without a core change out of fuel elements.

The project will help advance creation of the technical capability to build and operate the Oklo Aurora – a small advanced fission technology that can be used in remote or off-grid locations to generate power.

The California-based company applied for access to “left overs” materials from EBR-II through a competitive process INL launched in 2019. Notifications of selection were made to applicants in December 2019. The goal is to accelerate deployment of commercially viable microreactors by providing developers with access to material needed to produce fuel for their reactors.

“We are excited to work with Oklo Inc. and support their needs related to fuel development and microreactor demonstration,” said Dr. John Wagner, associate laboratory director for INL’s Nuclear Science & Technology directorate.

“As the nation’s nuclear energy research laboratory, we are committed to working with private companies and others to develop the technologies that will provide clean energy to the world.”

Jacob DeWitte, Oklo co-founder and chief executive officer, said, “This award paves the way for an important demonstration of the first Oklo Aurora plant, as well as the ability of advanced reactors to convert used nuclear fuel, that would otherwise be treated for disposal, into clean energy.”

Last month, Oklo announced it received a site use permit from the U.S. Department of Energy to build and demonstrate the Aurora technology at INL.

“Building and operating advanced reactors is essential to restoring U.S. leadership in nuclear energy,” said Dr. Ashley Finan, director of the National Reactor Innovation Center.

“The NRIC team is committed to empowering innovators to move their projects from concept to reality. We look forward to working with Oklo on the fuel supply for their first unit and congratulate them on achieving this milestone.”

Led by INL, NRIC was established in August 2019 to provide access to resources to accelerate the demonstration of advanced nuclear technology concepts.

Oklo Inc. (Oklo) is a California-based company developing clean energy plants to provide emission-free, reliable, and affordable energy using advanced fission. Oklo’s first product is the Aurora, which produces 1.5MW of electric power and can save 1,000,000 tons of carbon emissions during its operation over diesel generator alternatives at remote sites. The Aurora has the capability to turn nuclear waste into clean energy and can produce clean energy for decades without needing to refuel.

Oklo received a Site Use Permit from the U.S Department of Energy, successfully demonstrated prototype of its metallic fuel, and is completing the first advanced fission license application with the NRC.

More CoveragePower Magazine  Oklo Microreactor Is INL’s Pick for First-of-a Kind HALEU-Fueled Nuclear Demonstration

Oklo Inc. Backgrounder

Oklo Inc. (Oklo) is a California-based company developing clean energy plants to provide emission-free, reliable, and affordable energy using advanced fission. Oklo’s first product is the Aurora, which produces 1.5MW of electric power and during its operation can save 1,000,000 tons of carbon emissions over the diesel generator alternative.

The Aurora can produce clean energy for decades without needing to refuel, and also has capability to turn nuclear waste into clean energy.

Oklo received a Site Use Permit from the U.S Department of Energy, successfully demonstrated prototype of its metallic fuel, and is completing the first advanced fission license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the near term.

ORNL, TVA Sign Agreement to Collaborate
on Advanced Reactor Technologies

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) have signed a memorandum of understanding to evaluate a new generation of flexible, cost-effective advanced nuclear reactors.

Under the agreement, ORNL and TVA will collaborate to improve the economic feasibility of potentially licensing, building, operating and maintaining one or more advanced nuclear reactors, such as a small modular reactor, at TVA’s 935-acre Clinch River site in East Tennessee.

TVA has received an Early Site Permit from the NRC to build an SMR there. TVA has not made a decision to build anything yet and would first need approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a specific design.

In terms of the R&D program the two organizations will pursue, the partnership will take advantage of ORNL’s scientific expertise and its unique facilities including the High Flux Isotope Reactor, Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility and Manufacturing Demonstration Facility.

ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia said, “”We are combining our world-leading research capabilities and TVA’s operating expertise to accelerate the next generation of cost-effective nuclear power”

“Nuclear generation plays an important role in providing clean, reliable power at TVA,” TVA President & CEO Jeff Lyash said.

“This partnership with ORNL supports TVA’s mission for innovation and will allow us to better explore potential future nuclear technologies and help lead nuclear energy’s future in the United States.”

This new effort builds on decades of collaboration between TVA and ORNL, leveraging nuclear capabilities and assets from both organizations, including a 2016 effort using modeling tools developed at ORNL to predict the first six months of operations of TVA’s Watts Bar Unit 2 nuclear power plant. Specific areas of importance that will be evaluated by the participants of the MOU include, but are not limited to:

  • Development of advanced construction techniques
  • Evaluation of integrated development activities for site infrastructure support
  • Development of various economic deployment catalysts
  • Innovation of advanced manufacturing technologies
  • Use of technology deployment to meet regulatory and safety requirements more efficiently

TVA at one time had an agreement with B&W to designs and license its 180 MW mPower SMR, but did not pursue completion of the work scope.  Instead, TVA decided to hedge its bets by applying for and receiving the Early Site Permit. It referenced four SMR designs but did not indicate a preference for any of them. TVA’s Integrated Resource Plan has no indication of the need for new nuclear energy generating capacity.

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News ~ A Six Pack of Big Iron Projects

  • UA Barakah 1 Unit to Begin Fuel Loading
  • Czech Republic Near Commitment to Build New Unit at Dokovany
  • Romania to Build a Third Unit at Cerandova with European Partners
  • Poland in Negotiations with U.S., France for a Nuclear Energy Power Station
  • Wyoming to Create a Future for its Uranium Miners by Building SMRs
  • At Westinghouse Hope Springs Eternal for Six AP1000s for India

UAE Barakah Unit 1 1400 MW PWR
Built by South Korea to Begin Fuel Loading

PWR

PWR Concept. Image CNA

(Nucnet) Emirati nuclear operator Nawah Energy Company has started fuel loading at Unit 1 of the Barakah nuclear station located on the nation’s Persian Gulf coast 279 km / 174 miles west of Abu Dhabi

Last week Barakah-1 was granted a licence by the United Arab Emirates’ nuclear regulator authorizing operation for a period of 60 years. The licence also gave the green light for fuel loading to begin.

Nawah said that after fuel assemblies are loaded into the reactor core of Unit 1, operators will run a series of tests before physically starting up the unit.

Fuel for Barakah will be manufactured under a 2015 contract by Korea Electric Power Corporation Nuclear Fuels (Kepco KNF), which will receive enriched uranium from URENCO. Six companies take part in the fuel supply chain for Barakah, including also ConverDyn, UraniumOne, Orano, and RioTinto. The first fuel batches for Barakah-1 were delivered to the site of the plant in May 2017.

The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec), which owns Nawah’s together with plant supplier Kepco, is building three more APR-1400 units at Barakah. The $24.4bn facility will be the first in the Arab world.

Overall, the Barakah nuclear power station is now 93% completed, said Nawah. Unit 2 is pending receiving an operation licensing process with the national regulator FANR.

Czech Republic Says It is Committed
to Building a New Unit at Dukovany

(NEI Magazine) An agreement between the Czech government and power utility CEZ on the construction of the new unit at the Dukovany nuclear plant will be announced in the next few weeks, Industry Minister Karel Havlícek, said in mid-February, adding that the details are still being worked out. He added that a contractor would be selected by the end of 2022, and a construction permit issued by 2029.

CEZ CEO Daniel Beneš confirmed that CEZ would be the investor and that the tender for suppliers will be formally announced in December 2020.

In 2014, power company CEZ cancelled the tender for construction of two new Temelin units after it failed to get state rate and loan guarantees for the project.

According to CEZ, the fifth unit planned for Dukovany is expected to have a capacity of 1200MW. The state has set aside CZK 140-160 billion ($6-7bn) for the project.

Five companies have expressed interest in building new nuclear units in the Czech Republic – China General Nuclear, France’s EDF, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power, Russia’s Rosatom, and Westinghouse.

CEZ has also expressed interest in small modular reactors (SMRs) and asked 11 suppliers for detailed technical information. CEZ has signed two contracts for sharing of technical information on SMRs, one with US NuScale last year for its 60 MW SMR and another with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) for a 300 MW SMR.

Romania Reported to be Ready to Develop
A New Nuclear Reactor Without Foreign Partners

(BNE Intellinews) Romania’s state nuclear company Nuclearelectrica needs €3.0bn-3.5bn to develop the third nuclear reactor of the Cernavoda nuclear power plant using its own resources and bank loans. It also needs state guarantees to make the project bankable, Theodor Chirica, a member of the company’s board and it former CEO, made the remarks speaking at an energy conference.  He is will known in European nuclear energy circles having been appointed President of Foratom in 2018.

With a European partner, the company can develop two reactors he said. It has become clear that the partner will not be the Chinese company that has been in talks on a joint venture since 2015. Within ten years, Romania will definitely have another reactor and will possibly work on a fourth one, Chirica said.

In 2015, Nuclearelectrica signed a memorandum of understanding with China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) on the construction of two new reactors, units 3 and 4, at the Cernavoda nuclear power plant. However, Prime Minister Ludovic Orban announced in January 2020 that the government will exit the deal with its Chinese partner.

PM Orban invoked the European Union’s Green Deal rather than security issues or cost concerns which had circulated previously as the main reasons behind an end of the deal with CGN to expand Romania’s only nuclear power plant.

Negotiations on Nuclear Power Plant in Poland Reported with U.S. and France

The Polish government told Polish Radio One last week that a decision regarding the building of Poland’s first nuclear power plant will most likely be announced this year.

A government spokesman said that the question of nuclear power in Poland has been discussed for decades and added that that final decision regarding this issue should be made to the end of this year. “Negotiations are under way. He cited discussion with the U.S. and France among others.

“If we are to reduce the carbon dioxide emission (in accordance with EU recommendations), than with no doubt the construction of a nuclear power plant is one of the important elements of energy supply in Poland.”

The Energy Policy of Poland Until 2040 foresees the construction of six nuclear reactors, to be launched gradually starting in 2033. Government Commissioner for Strategic Energy Infrastructure, Piotr Naimski, said in September that the first reactor with a capacity of 1-1.5 GW will be launched in 2033, and the next five – at two-year intervals until 2043.

Poland has repeatedly made announcements like this one and then backed away from taking action due to an inability to finance the projects. It is not clear how this time things are difference unless either the U.S. or France, or both, are providing export credits to their respective home teams being Westinghouse in the U.S. and EDF in France.

Westinghouse, having emerged from bankruptcy, is particularly anxious to book new reactor deals now that its work n China is done. However, the firm will only act as a technology vendor and will not also serve as the EPC on any new projects.

EDF usually serves as both the supplier and the EPC on its export deals. This is the model it is using for Hinkley point C in the U.K., and Sizewell, assuming it is built. Th two projects will account for 3,200 MW of elecrical power when completed any supply the U.K with about 14% of its total supply of electricity.

Could Wyoming Have a Future
in Small Nuclear Reactors?

(Casper Star Tribune)  Some Wyoming lawmakers believe there is an opportunity to replace lost electrical output from coal-fired power plants that are being closed with nuclear energy, powered by Wyoming uranium. Such a plan would help the state’s minerals sector.

Coal and uranium have been mainstays of Wyoming’s economy and with the challenge of climate change, coal plants around the country are closing resulting in sharply diminished future for the state’s coal companies and the people who work for them.

However, if there is a successful development of small modular reactors, demand for uranium would be expected to increase which would boost activity and employment at the state’ hard rock and ISR mines.

Last week the Wyoming House Travel, Recreation and Cultural Resources Committee unanimously passed legislation to allow small, modular nuclear facilities producing 300 MW or less to replace energy that had been produced by coal- or gas-powered facilities.

However, opposition to the proposed legislation, which still has a long way to go, was voiced by the Wyoming Outdoor Council which called the SMR designs unproved and unsafe. The group also cited uncontrolled construction costs experienced at other projects.

The legislation now moves onto the House of Representatives, where it will need to pass two votes before moving on to the Senate.

Westinghouse Hopes to Sign Deal for Six AP1000s
with NPCIL as U.S. President Visits India

(Reuters) Westinghouse is reported to have told various sources that it expect to sign a new agreement with state-run Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) for the six nuclear reactors during U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit next week. The project has been in limbo since it was announced over a decade ago.

The agreement, if signed, would establish schedules and the lead local construction firms for the reactors to be built at Kovvada in southern India.  At $5K/Kw the project could cost $34.5 billion. India has been building PHWR design reactors for about half that cost, but the AP1000 has some key cost drivers, such as large forgings for the reactor pressure vessels, that will have to be contracted out to firms like Japan Steel Works.

It remains to be seen how the firm and NPCIL will resolved concerns over India’s nuclear supplier liability law. There has been no indication that Indian has any plans to relax any of the terms of the measure.

Reuters reports that in preparation for the President’s trip representatives from U.S. Departments of Energy and Commerce departments, Westinghouse, the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum and The Nuclear Energy Institute were in India for talks with government officials as part of a commercial mission to promote nuclear exports to India.

Rita Baranwal, assistant secretary for the Office of Nuclear Energy in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), told Reuters in a phone interview, “We are encouraging moving forward with Westinghouse and NPCIL to sign a MOU. It is a private industry to private industry, a business to business decision.”

She expressed optimism that the agreement would be signed but did not specify a timeframe for it. Ideally, as these things go, it could be inked while the President was meeting Indian PM Narendra Modi.

Westinghouse did not respond to a request from Reuters for comment nor did NPCIL. The wire service reported that Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said Westinghouse and NPCIL were in talks to move forward with the project.

Reuters points out that a longstanding obstacle has been the need to bring Indian liability rules in-line with international norms, which require the costs of any accident to be channeled to the operator rather than the builder of a nuclear power station. The only way this would work under the current law is that if NPCIL took on the accountability as the “supplier” rather than Westinghouse which seems unlikely.

However, he foreign ministry told Reuters that there is no going back on the 2010 Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage law. As a result foreign governments and vendors claim it leaves open the possibility of lawsuits against suppliers for nuclear accidents, rather than the operators of the plants.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has tried to limit the impact of that law by setting up an insurance fund for potential victims of a nuclear accident. It has been criticized as being significantly underfunded and thus inadequate for dealing with the consequences of a major nuclear accident.

“There are still open issues around the liability issue,” DOE’s Baranwal told Reuters, adding it was part of the discussions last week.

India expects to generate 22,480 MW of electricity from nuclear stations by 2031 up from the 2019 level of 6780 MW. A lot of it will come from 10 and as many as 17 700 MW PHWRs build by Indian firms using Indian sourced components. Rosatom has built two 1000 MW VVERs at Kudankulam and is building two more with plans announced for six units at the site on Indian’s east coast originally selected for the Westinghouse units.

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