GAIN Announces 2017 Vouchers for Nuclear Small Business

The program is aimed at assisting developers
of advanced nuclear energy technologies

gain logoThe Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) announces the availability of fiscal year 2017 funds for small business vouchers to assist applicants developing advanced nuclear energy technologies.

The grants are aimed at developers who are seeking access to the world class expertise and capabilities available across the U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratories complex. The small business vouchers are provided by the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy to support nuclear energy innovation in the small business sector.

“The objective of GAIN is to accelerate cost-effective commercialization of innovative nuclear energy technologies,” said Rita Baranwal, GAIN director.

“This cost-sharing initiative enables partnerships with small businesses and provides them with access to the technical, regulatory and financial support necessary to bridge the gap to delivering new technologies to market.”

A Letter of Intent from a company intending to submit a voucher application is requested and strongly encouraged to be submitted by March 9, 2017.

Submitting a Letter of Intent will enable GAIN to assist with identifying appropriate facilities and staff to support the voucher application and to assist the applicant as needed. More information on the vouchers and eligibility requirements are available at gain.inl.gov.

What You Need to Know to Submit an Application

The Nuclear Energy Infrastructure Database (NEID) provides a list and description of many nuclear energy R&D capabilities and can be accessed after an initial registration via the GAIN website, gain.inl.gov, or directly at https://nsuf-infrastructure.inl.gov (Note: you have to register for an account to get access.)

Nuclear Energy Voucher Documents

Link to Submit Letters of Intent

Please submit letters of intent via the U.S. Department of Energy – Office of Nuclear Energy website located  at https://proposals.inl.gov/Proposal/Proposals.aspx.

About GAIN

The Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear is a U.S. Department of Energy initiative to provide the nuclear industrial community with access to the technical, regulatory, and financial support necessary to move new or advanced nuclear technologies toward commercialization while ensuring the continued safe, reliable, and economic operation of the existing nuclear fleet.

Day-to-day management of GAIN is the responsibility of Idaho National Laboratory. See more GAIN news at gain.inl.gov. (Fact Sheet)

Follow @GAINnuclear on Twitter or visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/GAINnuclear.

—INL-17-002—

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Posted in Nuclear | 1 Comment

Toshiba’s Nuclear Projects Falling Like a Row of Dominos

  • dominosThe Japanese conglomerate is expected to announce Feb 14 that it will pull out of projects in the UK (3 AP1000s) and India (6 AP1000s) due to its deep financial difficulties.
  • Westinghouse may be sold off for its technology and services lines of business, but new investors will be needed for the projects in the UK and India.

A sense of panic is emerging globally as Toshiba, troubled by extensive losses and fake financial reports, heads toward a complete exit from the commercial nuclear energy industry. The two countries that will be hardest hit by the expected actions will be the UK and India.

Unlike the situation following the Fukushima crisis, in which the Japanese government in effect nationalized TEPCO, no bailout of Toshiba is expected to come to its rescue. Financial wire service reports indicate that the firm will sell off its stake in Westinghouse, which is worth about $250M.

After nine years of writing about the global nuclear industry, these development make for an unusually grim outlook. It’s a very big rock hitting the pond. Toshiba’s self-inflicted wounds will result in long lasting challenges to the future of the global nuclear energy industry.

Worse, it comes on top of the French government having to restructure and recapitalize Areva, its state-owned nuclear power corporation, so that it can complete two 1650 MW EPR reactors that are under construction in Europe and to begin work on the Hinkley project the UK.

Are these enough financial resources, and management capabilities, for the nuclear energy industry to make good on its commitment to have an impact on global climate change?

NuGen Project Faces Investor Uncertainty

Toshiba will likely end its planned commitment for a 60% equity stake in the NuGen Consortium at the UK Moorside project located in Cumbria. An effort to build three 1150 MW Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactors will now need new investors or a new reactor vendor or both.

In the UK backers of the NuGen project are looking to see if the government will directly fund the effort with Westinghouse acting as a technology vendor uncoupled from its parent’s convoluted corporate structure. That might be possible if Toshiba can find a buyer for the firm. The government might wind up being the investor of last resort and also have the role of setting the rates for the electricity generated by the reactors.

Another potential investor in the NuGen project could be South Korea which has had success in bringing in the first of four 1400 MW reactors for the UAE as part of a $20 billion project.

The question is whether South Korea would want to take on another major project while it is still completing the other three units in the UAE plus it has domestic reactors that have capital requirements. The risk of being overextended in terms of money and management capability is one the firm will likely weigh relative to its interest in entering the UK nuclear market.

It is also less likely that Chinese state owned nuclear firms will have an appetite for further investments in the UK’s new nuclear build. They already have a full plate.

Two firms have combined to take a 33% stake in the massive Hinkley Point C project. Also, they have also committed to enter the costly and lengthy Generic Design Assessment effort for the Hualong One reactor.

Two reference units of the the Hualong One, units 3 & 4, are now under construction at Fangchenggang site in in the south of China’s Guangxi Zhuang Region. They are expected to be completed by 2020.

The two firms building the units at Fangchenggang hope to export the Hualong One to the UK for the Bradwell site once the Hinkley project is complete sometime in the mid-2020s. The firms have plans for a majority equity stake in the Bradwell project which could cost $10 billion. That’s a lot to take on and the prospect of being overextended is very real.

NPCIL Sees Andhra Pradesh as Now Being “Impossible”

Efforts by Westinghouse to close a deal to build six AP1000s for NPCIL at a coastal site in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh will go by the boards. The Indian government has not make any official statement about Toshiba’s problems. However, Reuters reported that it was told it now looks to be “impossible” for the six unit project to move ahead.

The Indian utility had been seeking U.S. Export Import Bank loan guarantees for the project which has cost estimates of at least $15 billion. Congress throttled the bank’s loan powers in 2015 and is unlikely to loosen the restraints for a project sponsored by Toshiba, at least in its current financially distressed state.

What Future for Westinghouse?

The risks that Westinghouse faces even if the reactor division is able to establish itself as an independent vendor to EPC firms and investors include keeping its work force intact during what could be a lengthy transition.  Layoffs and cost cutting could reduce the core competencies of the firm and its ability to meet the service needs of existing customers much less be a vendor of nuclear technologies for new projects.

China has plans to rely on the experience and skills of Westinghouse engineers as it completes the first of four AP1000s now under construction in that country.  The same risk is posed for the four units being built in the US.

Westinghouse is mired in protracted and complex contractual disputes with its nuclear components supplier for the U.S. reactor projects. Westinghouse and CB&I disagree on cost figures included in the acquisition of that firm. The claims and counter claims total hundreds of millions.

Wire service reports indicate there is a possibility Westinghouse will sell its nuclear fuel business to cover these costs, but this is not confirmed.

In any case, investors will likely wait to bid on the fuel unit until settlement of the dispute  between CB&I and Westinghouse

In the US Duke Energy recently received NRC licenses to build two AP1000 reactors at the Lee site in South Carolina. However, the utility has postponed a decision to build them to the indefinite future. 

In May 2016 Florida Power & Light postponed development efforts for two AP1000s at its Turkey Point site near Miami for at least four years.

For both utilities, the transition of Westinghouse from being a wholly-owned firm by Toshiba, which invests in nuclear power projects, to being  just a reactor vendor could be well on its way to completion, or done, by the time they decide to move ahead with these projects.

Because rate payers are covering the costs of the four AP1000 reactors as they are being built in the U.S, there is no risk of Toshibas pulling out as investor. EPC firms manage the day-to-day construction work. However, all four units are over budget and behind schedule which makes for contentious rate case hearings as the utilities in Georgia and South Carolina seek to recover their costs.

If projects in the UK and India do not get new investor, the answers to questions of where electricity will come from will be fossil fuels. That’s not good for the planet or our place on it.

Turkey’s first nuclear power plant Akkuyu to be operational by 2023

(Daily Sabah) Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak announced last week the first of four Rosatom 1200 MW VVER nuclear reactors will be operational at the Akkuyu site located on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast by 2023.

The nuclear plant in the southern province of Mersin is the first of three nuclear power plants Turkey currently plans to build to reduce its dependence on imported energy from exporters.

A second plant will be built by a French-Japanese consortium in the northern city of Sinop near the Black Sea. It is expected to include four Mitsubishi/Areva ATMEA 1100 MW reactors. The site has not yet broken ground.

Last October the government announced that the country’s third nuclear power plant will be built in the Igneada district in the northwestern province of Kirklareli. There have been reports Chinese state owned nuclear firms will bid the CAP1400, which is based on the AP1000.

Oak Ridge Lab Verifies Performance Of Transatomic Advanced Reactor

(NucNet) The US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has released a technical memorandum independently verifying the performance of an advanced nuclear power reactor being developed by Massachusetts-based Transatomic Power Corporation.

Transatomic said scientists at ORNL have verified the viability of reducing nuclear waste production with the company’s technology. The laboratory’s conclusions represent an important milestone for the nascent advanced nuclear industry and help position advanced nuclear technology as a key player in the country’s future energy mix.

Transatomic has designed a nuclear reactor that uses a molten fluoride salt to carry its fuel, meaning it cannot melt down and possesses improved, inherent safety features over current nuclear technology.

Additionally, ORNL’s results “conclusively show” that the Transatomic reactor can operate for decades using the commercially available 5% low-enriched uranium supply chain. The company expects to build a demonstration reactor by the mid-2020s.

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Posted in Nuclear | 3 Comments

March for Science on Earth Day – April 22, 2017

SCIENCE, NOT SILENCE

march for science logo2(Updated 02/03/17) The March for Science is a celebration of our passion for science and a call to support and safeguard the scientific community.

Recent policy changes have caused heightened worry among scientists, and the incredible and immediate outpouring of support has made clear that these concerns are also shared by hundreds of thousands of people around the world.

The politicization of science, which has given policymakers permission to reject overwhelming evidence, is a critical and urgent matter. It is time for people who support scientific research and evidence-based policies to take a public stand and be counted.

ON APRIL 22, 2017, WE WALK OUT OF THE LAB AND INTO THE STREETS.

We are scientists and science enthusiasts. We come from all races, all religions, all gender identities, all sexual orientations, all socioeconomic backgrounds, all political perspectives, and all nationalities. Our diversity is our greatest strength: a wealth of opinions, perspectives, and ideas is critical for the scientific process. What unites us is a love of science, and an insatiable curiosity. We all recognize that science is everywhere and affects everyone.

Science is often an arduous process, but it is also thrilling. A universal human curiosity and dogged persistence is the greatest hope for the future. This movement cannot and will not end with a march.

Our plans for policy change and community outreach will start with marches worldwide and a teach-in at the National Mall, but it is imperative that we continue to celebrate and defend science at all levels – from local schools to federal agencies – throughout the world.

MARCH WITH US

Satellite Marches are solidarity events inspired by the March for Science, and organized by volunteers around the world. If you can’t make it to Washington, D.C. then you can join or host a Satellite March near you. There are marches being planned across the United States and internationally.

March for science is an effort comprising dozens of independent, nonpartisan coordinators. Recent rhetoric has inspired us to march on Washington D.C. And in satellite marches across the country.

Update 02/03/17

On April 22, scientists and science enthusiasts will unite in Washington D.C. and in cities around the world. The March for Science is a celebration of our passion for science and a call to support and safeguard the scientific community. What unites us is a love of science, and an insatiable curiosity.

We all recognize that science is everywhere and affects everyone. The D.C march will culminate in an Earth Day rally on the Washington Mall. We invite you to join us there for main stage speakers and “teach-in” tents, where a diverse group of science educators and scientists representing many fields will speak to the public about ongoing research and its vital importance in our everyday lives.

Worldwide, more than 30 cities have begun organizing their own marches, ready to take to the streets in support of science. In the meantime, thank you for your feedback and enthusiasm as we continue to organize this effort.

We are actively partnering with science organizations and working with enthusiastic volunteers from around the country to make this march a success. Our new website is up and running and will now be regularly updated with details about our committees, the sister marches, and our plans for what happens after the march. Our enthusiasm and commitment to science will not end there!

Thank you,

Co-organizers Jon Berman, Valorie Aquino, Caroline Weinberg, and the many volunteers and experienced organizers who have been with us every step of the way.
https://marchforscience.com/

Our mission statement is as follows:

The march for science champions publicly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity. We unite as a diverse, nonpartisan group to call for science that upholds the common good, and for political leaders and policymakers to enact evidence-based policies in the public interest.

DIVERSITY

In the past days, scientists have voiced concern over many issues – gag orders for government science agencies, funding freezes, and reversing science based policies. We recognize that these changes will differently and disproportionately affect minority scientists, science advocates, and the global communities impacted by these changes in American policies.

Addressing these issues is imperative in understanding how recent developments will affect all people – not simply the most privileged among us. We take seriously your concerns that for this march to be meaningful, we must centralize diversity of the march’s organizers at all levels of planning. Diversity must also be reflected in the march itself – both through the mission statement and those who participate.

We must work to make science available to everyone and encouraging individuals of all backgrounds to pursue science careers, especially in advanced degrees and positions. A diverse group of scientists produces increasingly diverse research, which broadens, strengthens, and enriches scientific inquiry, and therefore, our understanding of the world.

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Posted in Nuclear | 3 Comments

Toshiba to withdraw from nuclear plant construction

Chairman of Toshiba and President of Westinghouse to Quit

westap1000TOKYO (Kyodo) — Toshiba Corp. will take no new orders related to the construction of nuclear power stations, with the company’s chairman expected to resign over the massive write-down that has doomed the company’s U.S. nuclear business.

The Financial Times, London, reported that “Toshiba’s nuclear climbdown deals a blow to Japan’s broader ambitions of bidding for nuclear construction projects around the world — a key aim of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “Abenomics” economic revival program and a driving force behind his unprecedented global diplomatic push.”

The newspaper points out that the exit from new nuclear builds is another exmaple of its shrinking global foot print and adds pain to a company recovering from a 2015 accounting scandal in which it padded reported profits by about $1.3bn over seven years. Also, the company was forced to make huge cuts to headcount — a measure analysts say is likely to have hurt the company’s competitiveness.

Delays and cost overruns on Westinghouse nuclear construction projects in the US will now be expressed as writedowns that analysts estimate could be as high as $7bn.

The company’s decision to cease taking orders effectively marks its withdrawal from the nuclear energy business.  It also apparently ends the so-called nuclear renaissance in the U.S. for full size reactors.

During 2007-2010 there were more than two dozen applications expected for new reactors, but now only a few licenses that have been completed and they do not have any links to near term plans to build the units. Key examples are Duke’s William States Lee III plant in South Carolina (2 AP1000s) and DTE’s Fermi III plant in Michigan (1 ESBWR).

TVA cancelled its plans for two new AP1000s at Bellefonte and sold off the two partially completed reactors there for their scrap value and possible redevelopment of the site as an industrial park. Plans by a real estate developer to complete one of the reactors have been greeted with skepticism by this blog and by industry analysts such as Bloomberg.

Development of small modular reactors and advanced fast reactors of various designs may not complete their paths to licensing and construction for another five-to-ten years at least.

After Toshiba ceases taking new orders, it will focus on maintenance and decommissioning operations. The company will continue work on four nuclear plants under construction in the United States that are expected to be completed by 2020. Two are in Georgia and two more are in South Carolina.

It is expected that Toshiba may license its AP1000 technology to other firms as it has done in China. Chinese state owned nuclear firms have plans to build two 1400 MW versions  at Fangchenggang and use them as reference units for export of the design to countries such as Turkey.

Toshiba said it will review nuclear operations and spin off its chip business to raise funds by selling a stake in the new chip company, covering the expected write-down in the nuclear business which could reach 700 billion yen ($6.08 billion).

Westinghouse Chairman Danny Roderick is also set to step down, the sources said, but Toshiba President Satoshi Tsunakawa is likely to stay on.

Shiga, Roderick and Tsunakawa took their current posts last June as Toshiba reshuffled its management following an accounting scandal that surfaced in 2015. The firm improperly reported billions in profits that it did not earn.

The Japanese industrial conglomerate may announce company chairman Shigenori Shiga’s resignation as soon as 02/14/17, when it reports its April-December financial results.

Shiga once served as president of the U.S. nuclear unit, Westinghouse Electric Co., which Toshiba has said could face a multibillion-dollar loss due to cost overruns from delays in US plant projects.

Shiga was the vice president in charge of the power systems business when Westinghouse acquired CB&I Stone & Webster in late 2015. CB&I Stone & Webster is the U.S. nuclear plant construction firm at the heart of Toshiba’s massive write-down problem.

Uncertainty For Nuclear Industry As UK Confirms Plans To Leave Euratom

(NucNet) The UK will seek to leave the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) the agency responsible for nuclear safety and security. Some EU lawyers had warned that leaving the EU would automatically trigger a Euratom exit too.

However, an article in the US-based National Law Review in July 2017 said Euratom has a separate legal personality from the EU and is governed by a separate treaty and separate exit mechanism, making it possible that the UK could leave the EU without simultaneously withdrawing from Euratom.

The Financial Times reported that the decision has “wide ranging implications” for the UK’s nuclear industry, research, access to fissile materials and the status of approximately 20 nuclear cooperation agreements that it has with other countries.

Dr Paul Dorfman of the Energy Institute at University College London, said: “I know for a fact that the nuclear industry really doesn’t like it. It’s bad news for the industry, bad news for opponents and critics of the industry as well. It’s a lose-lose situation, whereby the industry becomes less competitive and less safe.”

“You’re talking about key safeguards and assurances that might have serious implications for UK new-build installations, the nuclear fuel cycle and the UK’s enormous waste and decommissioning liabilities.”

UK Government Warns Of ‘Acute And Urgent’ Skills Shortages in Nuclear

(NucNet) There are acute and urgent skills shortages in key industrial sectors in the UK including the nuclear industry and a better system needs to be identified and fix emerging gaps according to a government report published on 23 January 2017. It says even if shortfalls in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) skills and technical education are addressed, shortages in the nuclear industry might remain.

The government plans to set an “open door” challenge to industry to come to the government with proposals to transform and upgrade their sector through “sector deals.”

The paper says Lord Hutton, a former defense secretary who is co-chair of the Nuclear Industry Council and chairman of the London-based Nuclear Industry Association (NIA), will oversee work to improve UK competitiveness and skills in nuclear. The NIA said in a statement that with plans in place for a new nuclear power program, there is considerable opportunity for the supply chain across the UK.

The UK is also at the forefront of the development of the next generation of nuclear – small modular reactors (SMRs). The statement said: “The NIA believes development of SMR technology could be an important part of ensuring the UK’s nuclear industry realizes its full economic and industrial potential.” The report is online: http://bit.ly/2iVhRKG

US House Action Signals Investment in America’s Nuclear Future
New Congress Acts to Secure US Global Nuclear Leadership

(WNN) The US House of Representatives has approved bipartisan bills from the last session of Congress that aim to bolster research on advanced nuclear reactors. The Advanced Nuclear Technology Act of 2017 was passed by voice vote on 23 January.

The document, H.R. 590, is titled ‘To foster civilian research and development of advanced nuclear energy technologies and enhance the licensing and commercial deployment of such technologies’.

Following is a statement from Maria Korsnick, president and chief executive officer at the Nuclear Energy Institute.

“With its passage of the Advanced Nuclear Technology Development Act of 2017 last night, the House of Representatives significantly advanced a major component of America’s future energy and technology infrastructure—our nation’s innovation-leading advanced reactors. NEI on behalf of the nuclear industry thanks Congressman Bob Latta of Ohio and Congressman Jerry McNerney of California for their strong bipartisan leadership on this issue.

“This legislation is critical in developing the licensing framework that will allow the United States to develop the next generation of nuclear reactors.

“Congress and the new administration should work together to increase funding for developing this critical, innovative and jobs-creating technology.”

Simpson Retains Energy and Water Appropriations Gavel

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson has been re-appointed as Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development.  The Subcommittee funds all functions of the U.S. Department of Energy, including the Idaho National Laboratory’s research and cleanup operations. Congressman Simpson has held this position since November 2013.

The Subcommittee’s primary jurisdiction includes the following federal agencies:

  • Department of Energy, including Idaho National Laboratory and Bonneville Power Administration, as well as the National Nuclear Security Administration
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Bureau of Reclamation
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board
  • Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board

“Whether it’s the cleanup of sites like INL, the maintenance of our nation’s nuclear weapons, or the many vital water projects across the Western United States, the Energy and Water Subcommittee’s work touches almost every community in Idaho and across the country,” Simpson said.

US NRC’S Svinicki appointed chairman effective immediately

(Platts) US Nuclear Regulatory Commission Commissioner Kristine Svinicki has been appointed by President Donald Trump to be chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, replacing the current chairman, Stephen Burns, an agency spokesman said Thursday.

The appointment is effectively immediately, David Castelveter, director of NRC’s Office of Public Affairs, said. He did not provide further details.

Czech Government Sets Up Working Groups To Advance New Nuclear

(NucNet) The Czech government has approved the creation of three working groups which will seek to advance preparations for the construction of new nuclear reactors in the country, the Ministry of Industry and Trade said.

It recommended that power utility CEZ creates a subsidiary company to prepare construction plans and explore options for financing the new reactors, even though the first might not be approved until 2025. A decision on power pricing from the new plant is expected this year.

Three groups will look at three key aspects of new build: financial strategy, legal and legislative, and technical-investment. The Czech Republic’s state energy policy, approved by the government in 2015, anticipates one new unit at the existing Dukovany nuclear site and possibly three more at Dukovany and the country’s other nuclear site, Temelin.

The Czech Republic has six commercially operational reactor units: four VVER-440 units at the Dukovany site and two VVER-1000 units at Temelín.

Nuclear Share To Grow Globally, But With Decline In Europe, Says BP Report

(NucNet): Nuclear power generation is expected to grow by 2.3% year over the next 20 years with its share of primary energy consumption set to increase from 4% to 5% by 2035, according to the 2017 edition of the BP Energy Outlook. Nuclear capacity in Europe will decline as ageing plants are gradually decommissioned and there is little new investment, the report says.

EU nuclear power generation by 2035 will be 30% lower than in 2015. Japan will restart some of its reactors over the next 10 years, but will not recover to pre-Fukushima levels. China’s rapid nuclear expansion program (11% a year) will account for nearly 75% of the global increase in nuclear generation. This is roughly equivalent to China introducing a new reactor every three months for the next 20 years. BP Energy Outlook is online: http://on.bp.com/2j57kN8

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Posted in Nuclear | 8 Comments

Terrestrial Energy to Submit Design Certification to NRC for a Molten Salt Reactor in 2019

The firm has also entered into pre-licensing talks with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

trerrestrial energy logoTerrestrial Energy USA Ltd (TEUSA) announced last week that the company has informed the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission of its plans to license its IMSR400, a small modular, advanced nuclear reactor, in the United States.

The company has set an ambitious schedule claiming it will submit its licensing application to the agency in late 2019. The firm’s advanced reactor technology, based on molten salt technology, is unlike anything the NRC has seen in recent decades.

The firm is also the first developer of molten salt reactor technology in the current era to announce a timetable to take the design to the NRC. No one else is reported to be as close in the US.

TEUSA included in its letter to the NRC, the status of the design, analyses, testing, licensing, and project planning for the TEUSA Integral Molten Salt Reactor (“IMSR™”), a liquid-fueled, high-temperature, 400 Megawatt-thermal (“MWth”), power plant design.

The firm’s decision to seek the “gold standard” an an NRC design certification flies in the face of conventional wisdom among developers of advanced nuclear technologies which is that the cost of paying for the NRC’s learning curve is prohibitive and would result in significant delays in actually being able to build a first of a kind unit.

For instance, the deep pocket firm Terra Power, funded in part by billionaire Bill Gates, has voted with its feet taking its effort offshore to build a half size first of a kind prototype in China. It did so because it felt that the path through the NRC would be too expensive and take too long. Terra Power expects to complete the 600 MW prototype in 2023 and have a full size unit ready for customers by 2030.

TEUSA said in a press statement it intends to commence pre-application interactions with the NRC in 2017, a process which will lead to an IMSR400 Design Certification application in accordance with 10 CFR Part 52, or a Construction Permit in accordance with 10 CFR Part 50.  There are significant differences between the two approaches.

A part 50 process comes in two phases – one for construction and another for the license to operate the plant. A part 52 process combines the construction and licensing phases. However, in both cases, the developer of the reactor design must still seek and obtain from the NRC a design certification with regard to safety before a customer, a utility, can apply for a license to break ground to build one.

 Challenges Ahead
 
TEUSA said recognizes the challenges it faces in asking the NRC to review and reach safety, security, and environmental findings on the IMSR™ design, within a 42 month period, which is the duration of its reviews for conventional light water reactors.

One of those challenges is going to be raising the estimated $400 million it will take to assemble the design certification application. So far the firm only has secured Series A funding for about 10% of that amount.

Recently NuScale, which is developing a 50 MW SMR based on light water technologies, said it had spent at least $400M on the application it submitted on 12/31/16 to the NRC. It had a cost sharing agreement with the Department of Energy which helped the firm cross the finish line for submitting the 12,000 page document to the NRC.

The NRC announced a vision and strategy for licensing advanced reactors in January 2017. In a review, Rod Adams, writing at Forbes, was critical of the agency’s claims of being able to process such a advanced reactor application.

The Nuclear Innovation Alliance, a coalition of advanced nuclear reactor developers, has testified before Congress on steps the NRC needs to take to be truly ready to accept an application like the one planned by Terrestrial Energy.
 
Simon Irish, CEO of TEUSA commented, remains enthusiastic despite the steep road ahead and the apparent problems at the NRC.

“This is a very exciting time for the nuclear power industry.  We are moving forward with the design and regulatory actions needed to allow the Company to bring the IMSR™ to market in the 2020s.”

Four Sites Under Consideration

Although the firm’s home office is located in Ontario, Canada, Irish went further saying the firm is currently examining four sites in the US for its first commercial plant. These sites include the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), near Idaho Falls, ID, as well as additional sites east of the Mississippi River. A spokesman for the INL declined to comment on TEUSA’s claim it is prospecting a site there.

The Department of Energy has issued a site license to UAMPS, a consortium of utilities, to build NuScale’s 50 MW LWR type SMR there should it obtain an NRC design certification.

There are some other sites that come to mind on a speculative basis though the firm has not named them.

Once could be a site recently named by TVA at its Clinch River site in Tennessee. TVA has submitted an application to the NRC for an early site permit for an SMR at the site, but all four of the reactor designs it lists in that application are based on conventional light water reactors.

Another site could be in Wisconsin. Last year the legislature passed and the governor signed into law a bill lifting the state’s three decade old ban on new nuclear power plants. In 2012 Dominion said that it would close the Kewaunee Power Station in 2013 because it was unable to find a buyer and the plant was no longer economically viable.

The site is large enough that even if the light water reactor there is being decommissioned, it could accommodate a new SMR. Dominion has said it is interested in SMRs.

A third possibility is the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. Several SMR developers have looked at SRS as a possible site because of its security, workforce, and the possibility of a partnership with the Department of Energy.

Another fully characterized nuclear site might be the Zion nuclear plant in Illinois which is also now undergoing decommissioning.  Terrestrial Energy has a small grant from the INL GAIN program to work with Argonne National Laboratory, also in Illinois, on molten salt technology. Technical staff from Terrestrial Energy have spent time at the lab which is a mere 60 miles south of the Zion plant just outside the Chicago metro area.

Further afield there have been several efforts in Kentucky to salvage the state’s coal industry by building a nuclear reactor to make petrochemicals from the mineral.

In all cases, TEUSA says has begun to investigate the commercial prospects for an IMSR™ power plant for both electric-power and industrial heat co-generation.

And there is competition on the horizon. Southern Nuclear has teamed up with X-Energy to develop a molten chloride salt reactor using pebble bed fuel. Terra Power is also exploring molten salt reactor technology in a partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

World Nuclear News noted in its coverage of the announcement that Molten salt reactors use fuel dissolved in a molten fluoride or chloride salt which functions as both the fuel (producing the heat) and the coolant (transporting the heat away and ultimately to the power plant).

This means that such a reactor could not suffer from a loss of coolant leading to a meltdown. Terrestrial’s IMSR integrates the primary reactor components, including primary heat exchangers to secondary clean salt circuit, in a sealed and replaceable core vessel. It is designed as a modular reactor for factory fabrication.

LeadCold Seals $200M Funding Agreement

(WNN) LeadCold, the developer of a lead-cooled small nuclear reactor (SMR) technology, said on 01/26/17 that licensing and construction of a demonstration 3-10 MW SEALER (Swedish Advanced Lead Fast Reactor) in Canada has moved a step closer as the result of $200 million in funding from Essel Group Middle East.

In October last year, Essel Group ME – a subsidiary of Indian multinational conglomerate Essel Group – announced it had agreed to invest $18 million in Swedish-Canadian LeadCold.  LeadCold has now announced that it signed an investment and financing agreement for $200 million.  The funding commitment is one of the most significant for an advanced nuclear reactor startup in either Canada or the US.

The investment agreement with Essel Group ME will enable LeadCold to complete the 15 month long pre-licensing review with the CNSC; complete a detailed engineering design of the reactor; carry out the R&D necessary for licensing the design in Canada; and, license and construct a full-scale 3 MWe demonstration unit.

Also in December, LeadCold signed a roadmap agreement with KIC InnoEnergy – the European company for innovation in sustainable energy – to work together to commercialize the use of SEALER in off-grid applications.

LeadCold aims to obtain a license to construct a demonstration SEALER unit in Canada by the end of 2021. It anticipates having the unit ready for operation in 2025. The company estimates the future cost of purchasing a SEALER reactor at CAD100 million ($76 million).

LeadCold is a spin-off from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, where lead-cooled reactor systems have been under development since 1996.

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1st UAE Barakah nuclear reactor to begin operating by May

The reactor is slated to provide over 1,400 MW of electricity and will be followed into revenue service by three more just like it.

logo_center copy(The National) The UAE’s first nuclear power plant could begin operating by May. The industry’s regulator has approved licenses to transport and store nuclear fuel – a final step in a long, careful process.

The Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) said the fuel’s first shipment would be sent from South Korea in coming weeks before being taken to the power plant’s Barakah site in the Western Region next month.

The authority’s approval is considered to be the last step before the first nuclear reactor becomes operational in May, pending regulatory approval.

Christer Viktorsson, FANR’s director general, said it was a “major milestone for us because we’ve worked diligently during months to make us convinced that everything is ready to transport and store fuel”.

“One of the principles of the UAE’s nuclear power program is operational transparency,” Mr Viktorsson said. “This is an effort by FANR to keep the public informed about the important decisions it is making.”

The first shipment will be sent by sea and inspected on arrival in a couple of weeks, before it is moved to the reactor’s storage.

“They are packing the fuel now in Korea and we had inspectors there a few weeks ago,” said Ian Grant, the authority’s deputy director general for operations.

The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation already has power in the plant and is running systems at the plant to check its equipment. Once the plant has authorization to load the fuel, there would be a period of about another six or seven months of testing and gradually increasing power.

Unit 1 of the plant will initially operate on low power as part the trial, going through phases of shutting down and increasing its power gradually until it reaches full power, also known as commercial operation, which will then feed power to the grid.

A plant representative said that the current schedule is May “but we’re not bound by that schedule. We expect further inspections from the International Atomic Energy Agency, which will make sure the fuel is used for peaceful purposes only.”

Hamad Alkaabi, UAE ambassador to the IAEA, agreed that receiving fuel was a significant milestone.

“The UAE has worked closely with the IAEA safeguards teams to ensure all surveillance and control measures are in place and in line with IAEA requirements at the Barakah nuclear plant,” Mr Alkaabi said.

More than 200 experts work in FANR in nuclear safety, security, radiation protection, safeguards and related areas such as emergency preparedness and waste management.

UAE gets licence to transport, store nuclear fuel

(Gulf News) Nuclear fuel to be shipped from South Korea to the UAE before being transported to the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant. The UAE’s path towards nuclear energy took another step forward after the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) announced that it approved the licensing for transporting and storing nuclear fuel at the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant.

The two licenses have been granted to the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) and Nawah Energy Company respectively, with the former getting the license to transport the nuclear fuel, and the latter getting the license to store the nuclear fuel at the Barakah site.

What is implicit in the name Barakah for the UAE Nuclear site?

The Barakah nuclear site is located on the western shores of the Persian Gulf (map).  The Barakah nuclear power plant is United Arab Emirates’s first nuclear power station. It is still under construction, and four APR-1400 nuclear reactors are planned to start operation successively between 2017 and 2020. From this site it will provide electricity for industrial and residential power and for desalinization plants located near the major cities of Abu Dhai and Dubai.

barakah site map

Barakah as a concept, and metaphor, is a kind of continuity of spiritual presence and revelation that begins with God and flows through and can be found within physical objects, places, and people. 

Barakah is a prominent concept in Islamic mysticism, particularly Sufism. It pervades Sufi texts, beliefs, practices, and spirituality. Sufism emphasizes the importance of esoteric knowledge and the spiritual union with God through the heart.  See also Idres Shah’s accessible book on Sufism for a more comprehensive explanation. (Shah 1924-1996)

Baraka (alternative spelling) symbolizes this connection between the divine and the worldly through God’s direct and intentional blessings. Baraka is not a state, it is a flow of blessings and grace.

It can also mean, via poetic metaphor, a spice or essence that flows the earth in the few days of the lunar cycle just before a new moon. This period is called in the West “the dark of the moon” and  is also called a “balsam moon” after a spice of the same name. Balsamic is not just a salad dressing. It comes from the word balsam, a word that means something soothing or restorative.

Perhaps this juxtaposition of darkness and light is what inspired George Lucas when he defined the concept of the “force” in the Star Wars movies. The concept from the Star Wars movies series of “may the force be with you” includes a Hollywood derived version of the concept of Barakah.

UK new nuclear developers gather in Tokyo

(WNN) Horizon Nuclear Power – the UK subsidiary of Japan’s Hitachi – and NuGeneration – the UK joint venture between Japan’s Toshiba and France’s Engie – have joined government officials, trade associations, and wider stakeholders during a trade mission to Tokyo.

Horizon said that supply chain companies had met during the UK-Japan Nuclear Industry Forum to discuss how they can work in partnership to deliver the Wylfa Newydd nuclear new build project. At the two-day event, held at the British Embassy in the Japanese capital, participants heard about progress made on this “transformative project” and discussed ways to build on the long history of civil nuclear cooperation between the countries.

Horizon plans to deploy the UK ABWR (Advanced Boiling Water Reactor) at two sites – Wylfa Newydd, which is on the Isle of Anglesey, and Oldbury-on-Severn, in South Gloucestershire.

NuGen plans to build three Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at Moorside, which is set to become the engine of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ – providing 3.8 GWe of electricity from a sustainable source, NuGen said, referring to government plans to boost economic growth in the North of England.

The company noted that West Cumbria already has strong links with the Japanese nuclear industry in the research and decommissioning sector. With more 70 years of experience of the industry and more than one-third of the UK’s civil nuclear sector based in the region close to Moorside, the region is rightly known as the UK’s Centre of Nuclear Excellence, NuGen added.

The NIA said on 16 January that 100 companies were “joining forces in a UK-Japan industry partnership” at the event this week, to build ties between organizations with expertise in the nuclear industry.

The forum builds on the Memorandum of Cooperation between the two countries signed in December by UK Energy Secretary Greg Clark and Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Hiroshige Seko.

China Sets Ambitious Goals set for nuclear energy development in next five years

(China Daily) The National Development and Reform Commission and the National Energy Administration have officially issued the 13th Five-Year Plan for energy development, China Securities Journal reported last week.

Throughout the next five years, over 30 million kilowatts of nuclear energy facilities will be under construction in China. By 2020, China will have 58 million kW of installed nuclear power, up 16.5 percent year on year.

The country will develop some major nuclear technology projects, start the construction of CAP1400 demonstration project and create a high temperature gas-cooled reactor demonstration project. Both units will be at the Shidaowan site in Shandong province. The region is slated to become one of China’s largest centers of nuclear power generation.

The country will also launch some independent innovation projects, including smart small-and-medium sized reactors, commercial fast reactors and 600 MW high temperature gas-cooled reactors.

According to the plan, the share of non-fossil fuels will rise to more than 15 percent and the share of natural gas should reach 10 percent by 2020.

Californian carbon emissions higher due to nuclear closures

(WNN) Carbon emissions from California’s electricity generation are two-and-a-half times higher today than they would have been if the state had kept open nuclear power plants forced to close prematurely and not abandoned plans for new units, according to a new analysis by the Environmental Progress (EP) research and policy organization.

Based on data from the California Air Resources Board and the California Energy Commission, and assuming natural gas as a replacement for nuclear, EP calculates that the state’s 2014 emissions were 30.5 million tonnes higher than they would have been had the Rancho Seco and San Onofre plants remained open and had five further units been built as planned.

“Had those plants been constructed and stayed open, 73% of power produced in California would be from clean (very low-carbon) energy sources as opposed to just 34%. Of that clean power, 48% would have been from nuclear rather than 9%,” the organization said.

The early closure of San Onofre contributed to a 35% increase in greenhouse gas emissions from power plants in California in 2012, the California Air Resources Board reported in 2013.

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) last year outlined plans to close California’s only currently operating nuclear power plant, the two-unit Diablo Canyon, at the end of its current operating licenses – in 2024 for unit 1 and 2025 for unit 2.

The units would then have been in operation for 40 years. Unlike New York and Illinois, which have adopted state-level clean energy legislation recognizing nuclear for its role in helping to cut carbon emissions, California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard excludes nuclear.

Public engagement crucial to nuclear industry

(WNN) Stakeholder support and involvement are “essential to achieving accepted and sustainable decisions for nearly all aspects of nuclear energy”, an OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) workshop has concluded. More than 130 experts from 26 countries came together to discuss international best practices at the workshop on ‘stakeholder involvement in nuclear decision making’, held at the NEA’s headquarters in Paris this week.

US NRC Chairman Stephen Burns made a keynote speech about the work of his agency to improve public engagement.

The NEA said participants in the workshop compared their “vast array of experiences and to identify approaches that help contribute, or not, to stakeholder confidence”; discussed the laws, policies and programs underway in different countries; and sought to develop a “collective wisdom from which all may learn and benefit”.

The opening remarks were also delivered by Angel Gurría, OECD secretary general and  William D. Magwood, IV, NEA director general

During his opening remarks, Gurría noted that the quality of public involvement in the decision-making process may be as important as the quality of the scientific analysis or the engineering work needed to implement the decision, according to the NEA statement.

He also stressed that “taking the shorter route and bypassing serious public engagement risks reaching decisions that will not stand the test of time as stakeholders continue to question the decision after it has been made. In the end, this path would cost much more, take much longer and also damage the credibility of decision makers in the process.”

Magwood said that, “As we have learned through hard experience in many countries, experts cannot act alone to solve difficult problems. For the greatest challenges facing society today, they must, as a central component of their activities, ensure the broad and deep support of public stakeholders. This is important in all long term, complex undertakings, but for decisions concerning nuclear energy that employ large tracts of land, use significant quantities of resources, and sometimes generate public questions about safety, achieving a durable public consensus has become an absolute requirement.”

Before taking his post at NEA Magwood held positions at the U.S Department of Energy and served as a Commissioner at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

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Perry Regrets Calling for Abolition of DOE

  • At his confirmation hearing he brushed off questions about climate change, but acknowledged the scientific facts about it.
  • He continues efforts to recover from the humiliation of having called for abolition of the agency while also forgetting its name.
  • His going in position on the agency was that he thought it was all about oil & gas. He was shocked to discover its mission has much more to do with nuclear weapons, cleanup of nuclear waste, nuclear R&D, loans for renewable technologies, and a multitude of industry and consumer energy programs .

Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas, discovered this week that it takes more than a glib turn of phrase to run a major federal agency. He comes to the job with very big shoes to fill.

His two immediate predecessors were PhD scientists. Steven Chu was the recipient of a Nobel Prize in Physics. Ernest Moniz, based on his expertise, helped negotiate the Iran nuclear deal.

Perry has a bachelor’s degree in animal science. He served in the USAF as a C-130 pilot and after leaving the military joined his father farming cotton in Texas. He was elected to the Texas legislature in 1984 and served three terms as governor. None of this experience prepared him for dealing with one of the government’s largest and most complex federal agencies nor its existential issues that revolve around nuclear weapons, energy policies, and climate change.

The New York Times reported that when President Trump offered Rick Perry the job of energy secretary, Perry accepted believing he was taking on a role as a “global ambassador” for the American oil and gas industry that he had been an advocate for in his home state. However, it came as a huge shock when he discovered that instead he would become the steward of a vast national security complex he knew almost nothing about.

The Washington Post reports that the former Texas governor, Trump’s nominee to run the Energy Department, fended off questions at the hearing about climate change at his confirmation hearing, reversing his earlier skeptical stance. He balked when pressed to declare it a crisis.

Perry also expressed regret for campaigning for the presidency in 2012 on the promise of abolishing the agency. In the 2012 presidential campaign, Perry said that the agency was one of three that should be abolished. He became famous because he could not remember its name during a debate. The episode ended Perry’s campaign. [You Tube video]

Perry came to the confirmation hearing having spent his time this past Fall in two appearances on the TV entertainment show “Dancing with the Stars.” He endeavored in his statements to the committee to recover from his image as a political lightweight who  made a mistake in the way he casually discussed the fate of the agency he now hopes to lead.

“My past statements made over five years ago about abolishing the Department of Energy do not reflect my current thinking,” Perry said in his opening statement to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

“In fact, after being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination.”

Perry brought up the politically sensitive topic of climate change, saying he believes the climate is changing and “some of it” is caused by “man-made activity.”

He added: “The question is how we address it in a thoughtful way that doesn’t compromise economic growth.”

In its report the Washington post notes that if confirmed, Perry would run an agency tasked with monitoring the nation’s nuclear stockpile, cleaning up old nuclear-weapon development sites, managing the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, setting appliance standards, managing the national laboratories, and overseeing a portfolio of grants, loans and loan guarantees that support research and development on every type of energy.

He called the national laboratories the “crown jewel of this country from an intellectual and certainly scientific standpoint.”

The future is unclear for nuclear energy R&D for both conventional technology in the form of small modular reactors and advanced GEN IV type designs.

Given the chaotic nature of the Trump transition, including an aborted witch hunt at DOE, prior to Perry’s nomination, of people associated with climate change programs at DOE, it is impossible to predict what Perry will be able to do if confirmed by Congress.  The Trump White House seems less interested in running the government and more interested in a running a war with the news media.

NEI is Bullish on Future of Nuclear Energy under Trump

NEI’s CEO Maria Korsnick said in a statement on the trade group’s web site that President Trump favors nuclear energy. She added that Bipartisan support for nuclear will continue in Congress, and that progress likely on used fuel, advanced reactor development.

She said this about the future of DOE’s R&D work.

“For light water reactors, NEI is focusing on the development of accident-tolerant fuels, which would provide enhanced safety for operating plants. Small modular reactors and advanced nonlight water reactors are continuing to attract the attention of policymakers, communities and energy leaders as a potential addition to the nation’s energy mix.”

“The industry is working with the NRC and the U.S. Department of Energy on technical and licensing support to deploy the first small modular reactors in the United States by the mid-2020s. The industry also is working with the NRC and DOE to support the development and commercialization of advanced nonlight water reactors, with a goal of having two more advanced reactors commercially available in the 2030-2035 timeframe.”

The Idaho National Laboratory, which is DOE’s lead lab for nuclear energy R&D, is located in a reliably “red” state and it enjoys strong support from its 100% republican congressional delegation. That said it will still have to compete for appropriations with other labs.

In the past several years it has deployed several new advanced nuclear energy R&D programs under the umbrella of the GAIN office. A consortium of Utah utilities has plans to build a first of a kind small modular reactor developed by NuScale on the site. That company just filed its design certification package with the NRC.

If Perry is confirmed, and that seems likely, his choices for Assistant Secretaries, including the one for nuclear energy, will determine whether NEI’s early optimism about the future will be confirmed by their performance on the job.

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