Twitter Turmoil is a Risk to Nuclear Utilities

fake identities

(Updated 05/03/23) The New York Times reports that the elimination by Twitter of “blue check” marks signaling authenticity of any account on the social media platform has opened the door to multiple accounts impersonating government agencies, entertainment celebrities, and political figures of all persuasions.

Disinformation is rampant by postings from sources from Russia. Sudan, and other countries. Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter, has dismissed complaints about these problems. The New York Times published a report documenting these developments as well as Musk’s justifications for his actions. He’s been unapologetic about charging fees for blue checks and Twitter offers them to anyone with an open checkbook.

Public Safety Agencies Face Risk of Fake Accounts on Twitter

The New York Times reported that six fake accounts on Twitter are posting false information on Twitter with each of them presenting themselves as the official account of the Los Angeles Police Dept. Similar problems affect multiple municipal agencies in New York City and Chicago.

The New York Times reported that Alyssa Kann, a research associate at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, said Twitter under Mr. Musk was systematically dismantling safeguards that had been put in place over years of consideration and controversy.

“When there are so many things going wrong at once, it’s like: Which fire do you put out first?” she said.

“This is going to be chaos for emergency services,” tweeted Marc-André Argentino, a research fellow at the London-based International Center for the Study of Radicalization.

The newspaper reports that Mr. Argentino tracked examples showing an account impersonating the mayor of Chicago replying to one impersonating the city’s Department of Transportation. Another had New York City’s actual government-run account arguing with an impostor.

“Yes this is funny, let us all laugh,” Mr. Argentino wrote. “Now take two seconds and go back to any mass casualty incident in a major city, or a natural disaster, or any crisis/critical incident when people turn to official sources of information in times need & think of the harm that this can cause.”

Nuclear Utilities at Risk for the Effects of Disinformation

nuclear battery

Many nuclear utilities have used Twitter to notify public safety agencies that there is a scheduled test of emergency sirens. Deranged individuals may try to impersonate either public safety agencies or the nuclear utility itself. It is plausible to expect disinformation will eventually be posted on Twitter about nuclear power plants by a fake “blue check” account.

A significant example of the impact of social media platforms being used to spread false information about operating reactors is the report in June 2011 that the Ft. Calhoun nuclear power plant had blown up. I documented this issue, the sources on social media of the disinformation reports, and the response of the utility to address public alarms.

The unrestrained use of fake accounts on Twitter, with or without blue checks, is a significant risk to nuclear power utilities relative to their ongoing communications with the public. This is an international problem driven by the global reach of Twitter’s user base.

Credible alternatives are needed to insure that public safety agencies and nuclear utilities can communicate routine or event related news to the public without the risk of their verified online identities being hijacked by bad actors.

What is the Emergency Alert System

One place where Twitter’s twisted tales cannot go is the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Emergency Alert System.

The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is a national public warning system that requires radio and TV broadcasters, cable TV, wireless cable systems, satellite and wireline operators to provide the President with capability to address the American people within 10 minutes during a national emergency.

Broadcast, cable, and satellite operators are the stewards of this important public service in close partnership with state, local, tribal, and territorial authorities.

FEMA, in partnership with the Federal Communications Commission and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is responsible for implementing, maintaining and operating the EAS at the federal level.

So What’s the Problem?

Readers might ask, if utilities are using the EAS, why does the problem with Twitter’s lack of content moderation matter?

The concern is that the public is, unfortunately, attuned to social media which includes Twitter among other social media platforms. As noted in the blog post, bad actors have set up fake identities on Twitter for the police departments in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. It is only a matter of time until one of these knuckleheads creates a false identity for a nuclear power plant and creates mass panic with a bogus post about a radiation release.

As noted in the blog post this happened in 2011 at the Ft. Calhoun nuclear plant. It took days for the utility’s effort to settle things down to take hold. During this time the plant was buzzed by news media aircraft which ignored the FAA’s standing orders that the airspace over a nuclear power plant is off limits.

The concern is the public chaos that can be caused by one bogus post on Twitter, or any heavily subscribed social media platform. This is why utilities need to educate the public that the only official source of news about an event is the EAS. Certainly, at this time, the turmoil on Twitter makes it an unreliable source of information in the event of a public emergency.

Update 05/-3/23 Twitter Cancels API Charges for Government & Public Services

Twitter has reversed its previous position of shutting off its API programming framework for verified government and publicly-owned services that use the tool for “critical purposes” such as emergency notifications, transportation updates and weather alerts. Twitter’s decision to shut off its free API caused many problems for public institutions that depend on the functionality.

The shutoff broke numerous apps and services that relied on the free API for sharing and content streams, such as Flipboard’s reader. Government services faced imponderable choices. New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority said it would stop posting service alerts on Twitter after it faced a $50,000 per month fee for access. Many local and state police and emergency services also cancelled posting alerts when faced with exorbitant charges for accessing the API.

In the social media world Microsoft also pulled Twitter from its social media tool for advertisers, and disabled Twitter screenshot sharing for Windows and Xbox gamers. WordPress stopped automatic Tweeting of new posts by hosted blogs. Some businesses faced charges of tens of thousands of dollars a month causing them to cancel their tweeting on the platform. They also pulled their advertising impacting Twitter’s bottom line.

Business users are likely to continue to flee the platform based on the continuing turmoil that erupts on an almost weekly basis as Elon Musk, the billionaire owner, issues sometimes inexplicable policies that seem to undercut his drive for profitability. Many businesses have pulled their ads because they don’t want their brands associated with hate speech from fringe groups who have flocked to Twitter based on Musk’s libertarian views that free speech. Musk fired almost all of the staff that moderated postings to prevent content that involved hate speech and other forms of offensive material.

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Separately, due to increasing turmoil on Twitter, posting there by this blog for its Twitter feed of @djysrv, the news feed of the Neutron Bytes blog, is now limited to a few items each week. For a listing of sources of daily nuclear energy news, see this page on this blog.

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Terrestrial Energy Completes CNSC VDR Reviews

  • Terrestrial Energy Completes CNSC VDR Process
  • TVA Preparing Draft Construction Permit Application For SMRs
  • Denmark’s Seaborg Power and South Korean Firms Team Up for Floating SMR
  • Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation, Hyundai Engineering, & SK E&C Sign MOU for Hydrogen Production
  • Five Countries Sign Deal To ‘Push Russia Out Of International Uranium Market’

Terrestrial Energy Completes CNSC VDR Process

  • Terrestrial Energy Reaches Major Milestone with First Generation IV Technology to Complete the Vendor Design Review Process at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

cnsc logoTerrestrial Energy achieved a major milestone last week in the commercial development of its Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) power plant. At the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s (CNSC) it completed Phase 2 of the pre-licensing Vendor Design Review (VDR).

Following an extensive multi-year review, CNSC staff concluded that there are no fundamental barriers to licensing the IMSR plant in Canada. This is the first advanced, high-temperature fission technology to complete a review of this type at CNSC.

Terrestrial Energy said in a press statement that the completion of phase two provides “commercial confidence” to proceed to licensing and construction of IMSR plants. The firm has not as yet publicly announced any customer commitments to acquire the reactor either by a utility or an industrial plant. In the past year the firm has opened an office in Alberta to explore market opportunities there.

Simon Irish, CEO of Terrestrial Energy said, “This review is a major step to bring molten salt technology to commercial markets and IMSR plants to large industrial companies seeking practicable high-impact solutions to decarbonize industrial production.”


The VDR involved a comprehensive review of the IMSR nuclear power plant covering 19 “focus areas” defined by the CNSC and required Terrestrial Energy’s preparation of hundreds of technical submissions. The scope of the review included a systematic review of Terrestrial Energy’s engineering management processes, confirmatory testing program for IMSR components and systems, reactor controls and safety systems, defiance-in-depth strategy, safety analysis, and the requirements for safeguards, security, fire protection and radiation protection.

The IMSR plant is a nuclear plant, designed to be located close to its industrial end-user and deployed using modular processes and techniques. The company claims that it use of molten salt reactor fission technology to deliver cogeneration (heat and power) is  competitive advantages essential to nuclear energy’s commercial performance in deregulated markets. The IMSR plant is designed to supply high-quality heat (585 degrees C) which can be used by a wide range of industries.

process heat needed by industry

Another competitive factor is that in terms of time to market, unlike many other advanced reactors, the IMSR does not require HALEU fuel. The IMSR plant is designed to use standard assay Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) civilian nuclear fuel, enriched to less than 5% U235. This assures a stable supply of fuel to a fleet of IMSR plants operating in the 2030s and increases the IMSR’s international regulatory acceptance. Terrestrial Energy is developing its fuel supply program with Springfields Fuel (Westinghouse) in the UK and Orano in France.

US and Canadian Regulators Joint Technical Review of IMSR

On June 7, 2022 Terrestrial Energy announced that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) have completed a first joint technical review of Terrestrial Energy’s Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR), a Generation IV reactor system. (ML22139A124)

terrestrial IMSR

Data: IAEA

The agencies conducted the IMSR technical review as part a cross-border regulatory program established in August 2019 by a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) between the CNSC and the NRC. This expands on a 2017 cooperative agreement between the agencies to review activities associated with advanced reactor and SMR technologies.

Terrestrial Energy continues to pursue pre-licensing review activities with the NRC as evidenced by a stream of technical filings. In the US, most recently, Terrestrial Energy filed a regulatory engagement plan, #6, on March 27, 2023 (ML23096A224).

Another Advanced Reactor Milestone

This is the latest advanced reactor to complete Phases 1 & 2 of the CNSC VDR process. Last month GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy announced that its BWRX-300 small modular reactor, which used different technology to the IMSR, had completed phases one and two of the CNSC’s vendor design review process.

A number of other firms developing advanced reactors have completed Phase 1 or are involved in a joint Phase 1 & Phase 2 review. See table below.

vdr status

About Terrestrial Energy

Terrestrial Energy is developing a zero-emissions cogeneration plant for global industry using its proprietary Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) fission technology in an innovative, small and modular plant design. The IMSR is a non-Light Water Reactor of the Generation IV class that operates at the high temperature required for broad industrial relevance with transformative economic potential.

The IMSR plant is capable of grid-based electric power generation and industrial cogeneration in many energy-intensive industries, including petrochemical and chemical synthesis for hydrogen and ammonia production.

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Clinch River / TVA Preparing Draft Construction Permit Application For SMRs At Tennessee Site

(NucNet contributed to this report) The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is preparing elements of a draft construction permit application (Part 50) for BWRX-300 small modular reactor construction at its Clinch River site in Tennessee located about 35 miles west of Knoxville, TN, and 12 miles southwest of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The company is planning to submit the construction application to the NRC in late 2024. A separate operating license would be needed from the NRC to launch the facility as a revenue generating reactor.

In August 2022 TVA signed an agreement with BWRX-300 developer GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) to deploy SMRs at Clinch River and said it would spend 2023 preparing a possible construction permit.

A spokesperson for TVA told NucNet in an email that if the company’s board of directors authorizes the submission of the application to the NRC, TVA expects the NRC review of the application could take two to three years. Typically, the NRC targets a 42 months review period so this timeline would represent some kind of streamlining of the agency’s process.

Previously, TVA obtained a technology neutral early site permit from the NRC which may speed things up. Scott Fiedler of TVA’s media relations department said an early site permit issued for Clinch River in 2019 authorizes up to 800 MW to be constructed at the site. The BWRX-300 has a nominal electrical output of 300 MW, so two or possibly three BWRX-300 SMRs could potentially be built.

TVA is proceeding cautiously on the SMR effort. Fiedler emphasized TVA “has not made any decisions” regarding future deployment or deployments at Clinch River. He said any decision would be subject to “appropriate support, risk sharing, required internal and external approvals, and completion of all necessary and appropriate environmental and permitting reviews.”

Fiedler said TVA is in the early phases of evaluating potential sites beyond Clinch River for potential deployment of SMRs. He said a “timely, cost-effective and successful deployment” of an SMR at Clinch River would be a positive step for new nuclear at TVA and for the US, supporting greater integration of variable resources like solar and wind into TVA’s generating asset portfolio.

Future Holds No New Full Size Reactors for TVA

After finishing Wats Bar II and Browns Ferry, TVA has all but permanently eliminated any plans to build full size nuclear power plants, e.g., 1000 MW or more, due to their huge costs, risks of cost overruns, and the inability to finance one or more of them given the utility’s congressionally mandated debt ceiling. Completion of Watts Bar included soaring costs that rattled TVA’s board and left a permanent mark on its risk policies at least when it comes to the big iron in new nuclear reactor projects.

The Bellefonte Clown Act

Another reason TVA’s board is gun shy about full size reactors is that despite a series of engineering feasibility studies, TVA eventually fought off plans by Tennessee real estate developer Franklin Haney to complete the partially built Bellefonte reactors, 1200 MW each, located in Scottsboro, AL, and to eventually sell the power from them to the City of Memphis, TN, which is one of TVA’s largest customers. TVA clearly wanted no part of Haney’s plans especially if he were to run into trouble completing one of both of the units.

Plus, during the Trump administration, Haney worked the political influence angles reportedly making generous campaign contributions where they might help his cause. None of the money made any difference in the outcome, but Haney did get a drive by look from the Justice Department although no charges were ever filed. The reason is that the Wall Street Journal turned up the fact that Haney reportedly promised to pay Trump’s attorney $10M if he could secure federal funding for the Bellefontw project.

What might get a green light from the TVA board for the BWRX300 project is that the 300 MW SMR will cost far less than a full size reactor, and with a “pay as you go” plan to finance each subsequent SMR with revenues from the prior unit, financing seems much more feasible.

Asked about the cost of the BWRX-300 project at Clinch River, TVA spokesperson Fiedler said TVA is working to develop the cost and schedule but “that work is ongoing and we are unable to share preliminary projections at this time.”

GEH has publicized claims that it can deliver the BWRX-300 for a cost in the range of $3,000/Kw. At this number, each unit would cost just under $1 billion. However, as inflation rages on in the US, with only slow progress to control being achieved by the Federal Reserve Board, a hypothetical cost of $4,500/Kw could increase the delivered price to $1.35 billion. A price increase at that scale could give TVA’s board yet another unwanted adrenaline rush over costs.

The real delivered price will depend on the timing of the licensing the reactor by the NRC for production, the date of the first sale in the US (TVA’s board must approve it), and the condition of the US economy relative to inflationary trends for steel, concrete, first of a kind long lead time components, etc. It’s a pretty sure bet that GEH is burning the midnight oil with sharp pencils to control the costs from its supply chain and for building the first of a kind unit.

Options for Exports

Last month TVA signed a four-way nuclear technology agreement with the goal of licensing and deploying the BWRX-300 small modular reactor design in Canada, the US, Poland and beyond. The agreement was signed by TVA, GEH, Canada’s Ontario Power Generation and Poland’s Synthos Green Energy.

Fiedler said the agreement is the multi-party contract through which TVA is investing with GEH, OPG and Synthos Green Energy to complete the standard design of the BWRX-300. Each contributor has agreed to fund a portion of GEH’s overall cost and collectively will form a working group to ensure the standard design is deployable in multiple jurisdictions. The four companies said they were “teaming up for global deployment of GEH BWRX-300 small modular reactor”.

History of the Clinch River Site

In 1971 the site was intended to be the home of the Clinch River Breeder Reactor Project, a liquid metal (sodium) fast breeder reactor, but it was never built. After over a decade of rapidly escalating costs from an initial cost of about $700M to over $3 billion and reports of construction irregularities, the project was shut down in 1983. President Jimmy Carter’s opposition to the plant on nonproliferation policy grounds probably doomed the effort as much as its operational failings.

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Denmark’s Seaborg Power and South Korean Firms Team Up for Floating SMR

Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP), Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) and Seaborg Technologies have announced a consortium to develop floating nuclear power plants with Seaborg Technologies’ innovative molten salt reactor technology.

The power plants will be installed on barges with a modular design able to deliver from 200MW to 800MW, with the consortium’s first project expected to be a 200MW power barge.

The consortium aims to enable timely commercialization and a scalable export of factory-produced CMSR-based floating nuclear power plants worldwide, offering improved efficiency and inherent safety characteristics. With KHNP’s extensive experience in nuclear power generation, SHI’s offshore construction expertise and Seaborg Technologies’ innovative technology, the consortium say it is “well-positioned” to meet the growing demand for clean and reliable energy.

South Korean shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) previously announced it had completed the conceptual design for the CMSR Power Barge. It is a floating nuclear power plant based on compact molten salt reactors.

Seaborg CMSR BargeImage: Seaborg CMSR Barge

The agreement marks a significant milestone for floating nuclear solution for the world, where each 200MW of generation capacity is expected to save over 26 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions over its 24-year lifetime compared with a coal-fired power plant.

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Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation, Hyundai Engineering, & SK E&C Sign MOU for Hydrogen Production

Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC), Hyundai Engineering, and SK E&C are teaming up to conduct research and development for carbon-free hydrogen production. The three companies signed an MOU on April 20th for the construction of a “Hydrogen Micro Hub” at the SK E&C headquarters in Seoul’s Jongno district.

The “Hydrogen Micro Hub” is a facility that produces hydrogen by applying a high-temperature electrolysis process of solid oxide electrolysis cells (SOEC) to the electricity and high-temperature steam generated by USNC’s Micro-Modular Reactor (MMR). This is a carbon-free hydrogen production method that extracts hydrogen by decomposing water with electricity generated from nuclear power.

Under the agreement, the three companies will jointly conduct research and development on the MMR-SOEC integrated plant for the next five years. Through this, they plan to examine the establishment of a competitive hydrogen production system, and promote continuous research and development and verification for future hydrogen production and supply businesses.

Hyundai Engineering will oversee the MMR-related BOP (Balance of Plant) and EPC (Engineering, Procurement, and Construction) activities, while USNC will be responsible for MMR design, manufacturing, and supply. SK E&C will establish a nuclear power-based hydrogen production system using Bloom Energy’s SOEC and supply hydrogen production equipment.

In this project, Hyundai Engineering and USNC will utilize a micro modular nuclear power plant based on the high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) being demonstrated at the Chalk River Laboratories Campus in Ontario, Canada.

Compared to commercial pressurized water reactors, this technology can generate relatively high-temperature steam, enabling the use of SOEC operating at high temperatures, which can maximize hydrogen production efficiency with less energy.

SK E&S has successfully tested hydrogen production through electrolysis using a 130 kW-scale SOEC facility located at the Bloom SK Fuel Cell manufacturing plant in Gumi, Gyeongsangbuk-do, in cooperation with Bloom Energy and Bloom SK Fuel Cell.

It is also participating in a government-led green hydrogen production demonstration project, having been recognized for its unique technological capabilities in efficient hydrogen production. The company is also pursuing a project to convert green hydrogen into ammonia or methanol, which have high storage capabilities.

It is evaluated as having a complete renewable energy-based green hydrogen value chain, from renewable energy project development to related equipment production and EPC to green hydrogen production. In addition to this Hydrogen Micro Hub cooperation, SK E&S is diversifying its “zero carbon emission hydrogen production model” to include pink hydrogen, which is produced by electrolyzing water using electricity from nuclear power generation.

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Five Countries Sign Deal To ‘Push Russia Out Of International Uranium Market’

Uranium-symbol_thumb.jpg(NucNet) The UK, US, Canada, Japan and France have formed an alliance to develop shared supply chains for nuclear fuel as part of ambitions to push Russia out of the international nuclear energy market.

The UK’s Department for Energy Security and Net Zero said in a statement the five countries will use their civil nuclear power sectors to undermine Russia’s grip on supply chains, cutting off another means for President Vladimir Putin to fund his invasion of Ukraine.

The agreement, announced on April 17th at G7 talks in the northern Japanese city of Sapporo, will be used as the basis for pushing Putin out of the nuclear fuel market entirely, and doing so as quickly as possible, to cut off another means for him to fund his barbaric attack on Ukraine and fundamentally leave Russia out in the cold.

A recent UK report said Russia’s nuclear exports have surged since the invasion of Ukraine, boosting the Kremlin’s revenue and cementing its influence over a new generation of global buyers, as the US and its allies shy away from sanctioning the industry.

Trade data compiled by the UK’s Royal United Services Institute (Rusi), a defense and security think-tank, shows that Russian nuclear fuel and technology sales abroad rose more than 20% in 2022.

The aim is to use resources and capabilities possessed by each country’s civil nuclear sector to establish “a global commercial nuclear fuel market.”

The partner countries will collaborate on opportunities in uranium extraction, conversion, enrichment and fabrication. The cooperation will establish “a level playing field to compete more effectively against predatory suppliers.”

The five countries said in a joint statement that Russia’s “unprovoked and unjustifiable” war against Ukraine and the increasing impact of climate change have fundamentally altered the global energy landscape and accelerated the need for collaboration between like-minded allies. The joint statement said the five countries have identified potential areas of collaboration on nuclear fuels to support the stable supply of fuels for the operating reactor fleets in their respective countries.

Uranium Purchases by US Nuclear Utilities 2021

selected data 2021 uranium purchases

While Russia’s market share of US purchases of uranium match purchases from Australia and Canada, the price per pound of uranium in the form of U3O8 from Russia is on average $12/lb less than for uranium from these two countries. This difference is essentially a fire sale price discount of $12,000 per 1,000 pounds of uranium.

Russia ‘Isn’t Welcome Anymore’

The UK’s energy security secretary Grant Shapps said: “The UK has been at the very heart of global efforts to support Ukraine, defeat Putin and ensure neither him nor anyone like him can ever think they can hold the world to ransom over their energy again.

“This is the next vital step, uniting with other countries to show Putin that Russia isn’t welcome anymore, and in shoring up our global energy security by using a reliable international supply of nuclear fuel from safe, secure sources.”

The agreement will also strengthen the UK’s nuclear energy sector, helping it on the path to energy independency and reducing electricity bills, the government said.

In March the US Senate committee on energy and natural resources was told the US is deficient in nearly every aspect of the nuclear fuel cycle and this “must change and it must change quickly” if the country is to end it reliance on Russian fuel for its reactors. Environmental challenges to new uranium mines, including a major deposit in Virginia, have hobbled US production for the past decade. Quick change is unlikely as there is only one operating hard rock uranium mill in the US.

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Germany’s Nuclear Shutdown, Energy Security Unhinged

  • Germany’s Nuclear Shutdown, Energy Security Unhinged
  • MIT ~ Shutting Down Nuclear Power Could Increase Air Pollution
  • Clean Core and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories Partner on ANEEL Fuel for PHWRs
  • Japan Adopts National Strategy On Nuclear Fusion As Competition Intensifies
  • GAO ~ Nuclear Fusion; Fundamental Challenges Still Need To Be Overcome
  • DOE ~ RFI for Fusion Energy Neutron Sources
  • NRC Decision Separates Fusion Energy Regulation from Nuclear Fission

Germany’s Nuclear Shutdown, Energy Security Unhinged

end of the lineLast Three Plants To Go Offline, Despite Last-Minute Appeals For Extensions

  • Critics have called the action a case of “energy security suicide” citing the unreliable nature of renewable energy on the grid and increased reliance on coal including lignite.
  • Critics also argue that switching off reactors will deprive country of zero CO2 emission power and increase reliance on fossil fuel plants that contribute to climate change and significant increases in air pollution along with increased cases of respiratory disease and deaths.
  • Germany will fail to meet it climate change commitments as a result of shutting down all of its nuclear reactors.

(NucNet contributed to this report) ) Germany has permanently shut down its final three commercial nuclear power reactors, making good on the country’s delayed nuclear phaseout even amid Europe’s energy crisis caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine and last-minute appeals for reactor lifetimes to be extended as a response.

The Isar-2, Neckarwestheim-2 and Emsland nuclear plants make up some 6% of the country’s total energy mix – down from almost 12% in 2021 when more units were operating – or roughly 4,055 MW (net) of capacity.

The final three reactors had been scheduled for closure at the end of 2022 along with the rest of the country’s nuclear fleet. Last October German chancellor Olaf Scholz proposed to extend their lifespan until mid-April, citing the supply concerns caused by the war and the resulting Western sanctions.

Lawmakers approved the extension on the condition the plants, which began operation more than 30 years ago, would cease operating by mid-April of this year.

Shutdown Will Be ‘Dramatic Mistake’

The German government dismissed calls for a last-minute delay in shutting down the three plants. Opposition politicians and even some members of the Free Democrats, a libertarian party that is part of Scholz’s governing alliance, demanded a reprieve for the remaining reactors.

Scholz spokesperson Christiane Hoffmann said, “The nuclear phaseout by April 15, that’s this Saturday, is a done deal.”

Critics argue that switching off the nuclear plants will deprive Germany of a source of zero CO2 emissions power  and will require the country to keep operating fossil fuel plants that contribute to climate change.

Wolfgang Kubicki, deputy leader of the Free Democrats, said in an interview with the Funke Media Group that Germany has the safest nuclear power plants worldwide and switching them off would be “a dramatic mistake” with painful economic and ecological consequences.

Other members of his party have called for the nuclear plants at least to be maintained as a fallback in case they are needed at a later date.

Environment ministry spokesperson Bastian Zimmermann, speaking for the Scholz school of energy policy, countered, without evidence, that doing that would be both illegal and costly.  The economy ministry dismissed concerns that Germany will not be able to meet its energy needs without the nuclear power plants.

Zimmermann said the three reactors last underwent safety checks in 2009 and such inspections normally need to occur every 10 years. The requirement was only suspended due to the shutdown planned for the end of 2022. Any further lifetime extension for the plants would require comprehensive security checks again. It appears that she is hoisting the threat of bureaucratic barriers invented by the government to stop the government from keeping the reactors open.

Additionally, Environmental Ministry spokesperson Beate Baron said recent studies showed Germany would be able to maintain its power supply with coal and gas-fired power plants and renewables such as wind and solar, while remaining a net exporter of electricity.

All German nuclear power plants that had gone into operation up to and including 1980 were shut down immediately after the March 2011 Fukushima disaster.

These were: Biblis-A and Biblis-B, Brunsbüttel, Isar-1, Neckarwestheim-1, Unterweser and Philippsburg-1. The Krümmel nuclear power plant was already off the grid at the time. The Grohnde, Gundremmingen-C and Brokdorf nuclear power plants were shut down on 31 December 2021.Until March 2011 Germany generated one-quarter of its electricity from nuclear energy with 17 reactors.

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MIT ~ Shutting Down Nuclear Power Could Increase Air Pollution

climate_change_carbon_taxMIT researchers estimate that if reactors are retired, polluting energy sources that fill the gap could cause more than 5,000 premature deaths.

(MIT News Office) Nearly 20 percent of today’s electricity in the United States comes from nuclear power. The U.S. has the largest nuclear fleet in the world, with 92 reactors scattered around the country. Many of these power plants have run for more than half a century and are approaching the end of their expected lifetimes.

Policymakers are debating whether to retire the aging reactors or reinforce their structures to continue producing nuclear energy, which many consider a low-carbon alternative to climate-warming coal, oil, and natural gas.

MIT researchers say there’s another factor to consider in weighing the future of nuclear power: air quality. In addition to being a low carbon-emitting source, nuclear power is relatively clean in terms of the air pollution it generates. Without nuclear power, how would the pattern of air pollution shift, and who would feel its effects?

The MIT team took on these questions in a new study appearing today in Nature Energy. They lay out a scenario in which every nuclear power plant in the country has shut down, and consider how other sources such as coal, natural gas, and renewable energy would fill the resulting energy needs throughout an entire year.  (Link to article abstract -full text behind a firewall)

Their analysis reveals that air pollution would increase, as coal, gas, and oil sources ramp up to compensate for nuclear power’s absence. This in itself may not be surprising, but the team has put numbers to the prediction, estimating that the increase in air pollution would have serious health effects, resulting in an additional 5,200 pollution-related deaths over a single year.

If, however, more renewable energy sources become available to supply the energy grid, as they are expected to by the year 2030, air pollution would be curtailed, though not entirely. The team found that even under this heartier renewable scenario, there is still a slight increase in air pollution in some parts of the country, resulting in a total of 260 pollution-related deaths over one year.

When they looked at the populations directly affected by the increased pollution, they found that Black or African American communities — a disproportionate number of whom live near fossil-fuel plants — experienced the greatest exposure.

“This adds one more layer to the environmental health and social impacts equation when you’re thinking about nuclear shutdowns, where the conversation often focuses on local risks due to accidents and mining or long-term climate impacts,” says lead author Lyssa Freese, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS).

“In the debate over keeping nuclear power plants open, air quality has not been a focus of that discussion,” adds study author Noelle Selin, a professor in MIT’s Institute for Data, Systems, and Society (IDSS) and EAPS.

“What we found was that air pollution from fossil fuel plants is so damaging, that anything that increases it, such as a nuclear shutdown, is going to have substantial impacts, and for some people more than others.”

The study’s MIT-affiliated co-authors also include Principal Research Scientist Sebastian Eastham and Guillaume Chossière SM ’17, PhD ’20, along with Alan Jenn of the University of California at Davis. This study was supported, in part, by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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Clean Core and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories Partner on Advanced Nuclear Fuel Development

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) and Clean Core Thorium Energy (“Clean Core”) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to further the development and deployment of Clean Core’s advanced nuclear fuel called the “ANEEL Fuel.” This strategic partnership creates a framework under which CNL will support Clean Core’s critical activities, including R&D and licensing.

ANEEL Fuel bundle for PHWRClean Core’s proprietary ANEEL fuel technology (fuel bundle right) leverages thorium and high assay low enriched Uranium (HALEU), and aims to improve the economics and safety of CANDU reactors and Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) globally, while increasing proliferation resistance and reducing waste.

Clean Core expects that when ANEEL Fuel is commercially ready in 2025, it can offer existing PHWRs worldwide next-generation performance and cost advantages. Canada has the world’s largest fleet of PHWR reactors.

“Our strategic partnership with Canadian Nuclear Laboratories will help accelerate the commercialization of our ANEEL Fuel, with the potential to make reactors cleaner, more cost effective, and further improve safety,” said Mehul Shah, CEO of Clean Core.

“We look forward to partnering with Clean Core on the development and deployment of its advanced nuclear fuel technology, which has the potential to boost the performance and economics of reactors worldwide,” said Dr. Jeff Griffin, CNL’s Vice-President of Science and Technology.

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Japan Adopts National Strategy On Nuclear Fusion As Competition Intensifies

types of fusion imageAccording to the Japan Times, the government has adopted its first-ever national strategy on nuclear fusion, highlighting the need to create a domestic industry in the field, as competition to develop and commercialize fusion power heats up around the world.

The strategy calls for the wider participation of the private sector in research and development of fusion energy, considered the ultimate energy source free of carbon dioxide emissions.

Japan has been a major contributor to International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), a 35-year international research collaboration that aims to start fusion tests in 2035. Many Japanese scientists say the commercialization of fusion power is still decades away. They are aiming to achieve commercial electricity generation in around 2050, with fusion only becoming a viable climate solution in the latter half of the century.

However, the environment surrounding fusion research has been changing rapidly over the last few years, with major investors in the US, UK, and China  pouring billions of dollars into private-sector projects that promise to get commercial reactors up and running much sooner than ITER. The UKAEA targets its first prototype being in operation by 20240 and many of the fusion startups say they will succeed by the mid-2030s.

The cabinet report says Japan should take a “multifaceted approach” that includes creating and supporting homegrown fusion energy industries, not just participating in ITER. It is a case of either getting going faster with fusion or being left behind.

Japan will seek to accelerate industry-academia collaboration, with the National Institutes for Quantum Science and Technology, better known as QST, playing a central role.

In addition, the government will focus on fusion energy education at Japanese universities to develop specialists in the field and seek to recruit talent from such institutions overseas and from other academic disciplines. The strategy is apparently silent on government support for fusion energy commercial startups.

Under the strategy, the government will establish a fusion industry council by March next year to develop fusion related industries, as well as to draw up guidelines for ensuring the safety of fusion technology.

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GAO ~ Nuclear Fusion; Fundamental Challenges Still Need To Be Overcome

gao fusion report(NucNet) Fundamental challenges must be overcome to achieve commercial nuclear fusion with “misalignments” between private and public sector efforts and regulatory uncertainty two key areas that need to be addressed, a report says.

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report says projections of the timeline for the deployment of nuclear fusion reactors, which are “a potentially transformative technology”, range from 10 years to several decades. (Full text PDF file)

The report offers a number of policy proposals to address fusion challenges and accelerate fusion development, including the closer alignment of public and private sector fusion efforts, the sharing of assets for fusion development, and the engagement of the public in decision-making processes regarding fusion energy.

One area of misalignment between public and private sectors is research priorities, the report says. Public sector efforts prioritize basic science, but fusion energy development requires an additional emphasis on technology and engineering research.

Regulatory uncertainty could also slow development of fusion energy, but developing regulations to ensure safety without constraining development is difficult. Doing so may require significant public engagement, but little is known about public perception of fusion energy in the US.

The report says that despite decades of research and recent promising developments, fusion science has still not achieved net energy gain. Net energy gain essentially means producing more energy through fusion reactions than the amount of energy put into the system to start the reaction.

For that goal to be met, researchers must improve their understanding of burning plasma, discover materials that can better withstand fusion conditions, overcome complex problems in systems engineering and address concerns regarding the supply, safety and security of tritium fuel. Further, a limited workforce and limited suppliers pose potential problems for fusion development.

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DOE ~ RFI for Fusion Prototype Neutron Sources

The Office of Science in the Department of Energy (DOE) invites interested parties to provide input on potential technological approaches to meet the needs of the Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) program for a Fusion Prototypic Neutron Source (FPNS) and on potential ways to accelerate the construction and delivery of such a facility, including partnerships with the private sector.

Responses to the RFI must be received by May 11, 2023. Questions may be submitted to: or to Daniel Clark at (240) 780-6529.

Note to Readers: The American Nuclear Society Nuclear Newswire for March 29, 2023, has a plain English summary and additional background information on the DOE initiative.

how fusion works

Scope of the Request for Information

The scientific and engineering demonstration of fusion energy will require mastering materials science and performance issues, particularly those associated with materials degradation due to bombardment by the energetic (14.1 MeV) deuterium-tritium (D-T) fusion neutrons. This performance degradation provides the basis for and is one of the single largest inherent limiting factors for the economic, safety, and environmental attractiveness of fusion energy.

As such, the FES program places a high priority on gaining an improved understanding of the science of materials degradation due to fusion neutron bombardment, particularly as it pertains to enabling the development of next-generation, high-performance materials for future fusion devices.

Managing this fusion neutron-induced property degradation is one of the most significant scientific “grand challenges” facing fusion energy development. Although considerable progress has been made exploring the resistance of fusion materials to neutron-based displacement damage with the use of tools available today, such as fission test reactors, ion beams, and computer simulation, the current knowledge base for bulk mechanical and physical property degradation in a realistic fusion environment with simultaneous transmutation effects is limited.

The 2021 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) report, Bringing Fusion to the U.S. Grid emphasized the need for materials research and a neutron irradiation capability to enable a Fusion Pilot Plant (FPP), including facilities to provide a limited-volume prototypic neutron source for testing of advanced structural and functional materials and to assess neutron-degradation limits of Reduced Activation Ferritic Martensitic (RAFM) alloys beyond 5 MW-year m-2.

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NRC Decision Separates Fusion Energy Regulation from Nuclear Fission

nrc sealThe Fusion Industry Association reports on its website that on Friday, April 14, the five Commissioners of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced in a unanimous vote that fusion energy would be regulated in the United States under the same regulatory regime as particle accelerators. (NRC Press Release)

Such an approach, listed in the United States under the byproduct materials regulatory regime (10 CFR Part 30), would separate the regulatory oversight of fusion from the utilization facilities regime (10 CFR Parts 50 & 52) that regulate nuclear fission energy.

This is an important decision that will give fusion developers the regulatory certainty they need to innovate while they grow fusion energy into a viable new energy source, while also most effectively protecting the safety, security, and health of the public.

The NRC staff, in the Options Paper (SECY-2023-0001) put forward in January, had already asserted that the NRC’s byproduct material framework “would provide a technology-neutral basis for the licensing and oversight of the broad array of fusion energy systems currently under development.”

This decision by the Commissioners affirms Option 2 from that paper as the preferred option. Further, it outlines that there will only be a limited-scope rulemaking to ensure that the Agreement states are prepared to uniformly regulate fusion.

While the ultimate authority for fusion regulation resides with the NRC, under the agreement state program, the States, rather than the NRC, will shoulder the largest responsibility for regulating commercial fusion facilities in the future.

Furthermore, the Staff Requirements Memorandum (SRM), which outlines how the Commissioners expect NRC staff to implement this decision, gives guidance that directs the staff to work with agreement states to look forward and notify the Commission about the scale and regulatory impacts of new fusion devices coming close to application and license.

NRC Chair Christopher T. Hanson said, “Dozens of companies are developing pilot-scale commercial fusion designs, and while the technology’s precise future in the United States is uncertain, the agency should provide as much regulatory certainty as possible given what we know today. Licensing near-term fusion energy systems under a byproduct material framework will protect public health and safety with a technology-neutral, scalable regulatory approach.”

NRC staff will begin a limited revision to materials licensing regulations, including consideration of whether the revision should create a new rule category specifically for fusion energy systems. The Commission also directed the staff to take several related actions, including expanding materials license guidance to cover fusion systems nationwide.

Fusion systems would generate electricity from the energy released when hydrogen atoms are combined to form helium; current nuclear reactors use the splitting, or fission, of uranium atoms. The staff had earlier determined fusion systems fall outside of the requirements to be regulated as nuclear reactors.

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Nuclear Now, A New Film by Oliver Stone Opening April 28th

In the thought-provoking documentary NUCLEAR NOW, iconic director Oliver Stone explores the possibility for the global community to overcome challenges like climate change, ensure our continued survival and reach a brighter future through the power of nuclear energy.

Readers of this blog will see many familiar faces in the film as well as new voices in new places telling the story of nuclear energy.

Coming to Theaters April 28, 2023. #NuclearNowFilm

oliver stone movie grapic 1920x1080-NN

Film Summary

Beneath our feet, Uranium atoms in the Earth’s crust hold incredibly concentrated energy. Science unlocked this energy in the mid-20th century, first for bombs and then to power submarines. The United States led the effort to generate electricity from this new source.

Yet in the mid-20th century as societies began the transition to nuclear power and away from fossil fuels, a long-term PR campaign to scare the public began, funded in part by coal and oil interests. This campaign had the objective to sow fear about low-level radiation and create confusion between nuclear weapons and nuclear energy.

Looking squarely at the problem, Oliver Stone shows us that knowledge is the antidote to fear, and our human ingenuity will allow us to solve the climate change crisis if we will use it.

Film Writers

Joshua Goldstein – Professor Joshua S. Goldstein is an award-winning scholar of international relations who has written and spoken widely on war and society, including war’s effects on gender, economics, and psychological trauma, and on peace and diplomacy.

Goldstein is coauthor (with Jon C. Pevehouse) of the widely used textbook ‘International Relations‘. His new book, A Bright Future (with Staffan Qvist) is on international responses to climate change, especially Sweden’s success in rapid decarbonization using nuclear power.

See also the Neutron Bytes Nuclear Energy Reading List for the Curious which includes Prof. Goldstein’s book.

Oliver Stone – (Director / Co-Writer) – A fixture within the industry for almost 40 years, Oliver Stone is a director, screenwriter, producer and best-selling author. Stone won his first Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Midnight Express (1978) and won his second and third as Best Director for Platoon (1986) and Born on the Fourth of July (1989) respectively.

Other notable projects include Wall Street (1987), JFK (1991), Nixon (1995), W. (2008), Savages (2012) and 2016’s Snowden, along with the screenplay for Brian De Palma’s 1983 film Scarface which went on to become one of the most iconic films in history.

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Posted in Nuclear | 2 Comments

Saudi Arabia’s Uranium Prospecting Comes Up Short

  • Saudi Arabi’s Uranium Plan Dim on Prospecting Results
  • Red Book / Global Uranium Production Down 12%
  • Argentina to Freeze Chinese Nuclear Project
  • PacifiCorp Forecasts Need for Two Additional Natrium Reactors
  • X-energy Partners with Kinectrics for Helium Test Facility
  • Savannah River to Provide HALEU Fuel for Advanced Nuclear Reactors
  • India Approves Construction of Ten New 700 MW PHWRs
  • Idaho Lab Opens Its Software for Licensing to Industry

Saudi Uranium Plans Dim on Prospecting Results

saudi_arabia_pol_2003(WNN contributed to this report) For the first time Saudi Arabia has released figures on its uranium exploration efforts which are included in the annual OECD/NEA “Red Book”  which covers world uranium reserves.

For the Saudis the reported results are a disappointment. So far the Saudi exploration effort, aided by Chinese geologists, has only turned up small qualities of “inferred” deposits.

This is the least accurate method of measuring an ore deposit and no investor will put money into a mine with only inferred results from prospecting.

In other words, despite much PR over the past several years about using its domestic uranium resources to fuel its planned commercial reactors, and to mount an enrichment program, so far the cupboard is bare when it comes to having any of it worth digging up. In January 2022 Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman al-Saud told a mining conference in Saudi Arabia that the kingdom planned to use its uranium resources to develop a nuclear power program.

“We do have a huge amount of uranium resource, which we would like to exploit and we will be doing it in the most transparent way,” Prince Abdulaziz told the Future Minerals Summit in Riyadh.

The data about Saudi uranium are contained in the  29th edition of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) and International Atomic Energy Agency’s jointly produced reference work on uranium. It provides analyses and information from 54 uranium producing and consuming countries and includes a ‘snapshot’ of the situation from data available in early 2021.

The Red Book reports that over the past six years Saudi Arabia has spent more than $37 million prospecting for deposits but only managed to identify ores that would be “severely uneconomic” to mine. Some of the hard rock deposits containing the uranium, which is mixed in with other minerals, are more than 1,000 meters (3,330 feet) underground.

Chinese geologists have carried out the prospecting and exploratory drilling program for Saudi Arabia. China also has offered to help Saudi Arabia build a hard rock uranium mill if economically recoverable deposits are found.

This current state of affairs could change if subsequent prospecting turns up “indicated deposits” which USGS defines as the most reliable method of reporting commercially recoverable uranium bearing ore.

“Indicated deposits” are defined by the US Geological Survey as those for which the grade (recoverable yields of at least 1-4 pounds/ton U3O8) is computed from drill-hole samples, exposures in mine workings and natural outcrops, gamma-ray logs, and production data, and for which the tonnage is computed by projection for a reasonable distance on geologic evidence from points of exposure (drill holes, mine workings, and natural outcrops).

This outcome of poor results from a sustained effort at prospecting at three sites in Saudi Arabia could put a hold on Saudi plans for uranium enrichment or downstream development of the yellowcake for nuclear fuel or weapons grade material.

Buying uranium on the world market might not be a near-term viable option as globally trade is regulated by nations that produce uranium based on compliance with nonproliferation treaties. Saudi Arabia is deficient in this area and has not, so far, been able to obtain even small quantities of uranium fuel for use in a university research reactor.

Saudi Arabia has had a safeguards agreement in force with the IAEA since 2009, but has nor signed an  Additional Protocol needed to allow for IAEA inspections of nuclear facilities which are a precondition for acquiring nuclear fuel for reactors. According to the World Nuclear Association,  Argentina’s envoy to the IAEA has said that further safeguards arrangements will be needed before the research reactor it is building at KACST can be fueled.

No nation that is a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) will provide  nuclear fuel to Saudi Arabia if it does not sign on to the IAEA’s requirements for inspections.  The IAEA is engaged in helping Saudi Arabia develop a nuclear safety regulatory framework, but this effort does not address the nonproliferation issues.

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Red Book / Global Uranium Production Down 12%

Uranium symbol(NucNet) Global uranium mine production decreased by nearly 12% from 2018 to 2020 with major producing countries including Canada and Kazakhstan limiting total production in recent years in response to a depressed uranium market, according to the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA).

The report cautions that the uranium resource figures presented are a “snapshot” of the situation as of 1 January 2021, reported mainly from official government sources, and that readers “should keep in mind that resource figures are dynamic and related to commodity prices.”

World nuclear capacity expected to rise “for the foreseeable future” and sufficient uranium resources exist to support continued use of nuclear power and significant growth in nuclear capacity for electricity generation and other uses in the near to long term.

In the latest edition of ‘Uranium Resources, Production and Demand,’ known as the Red Book, the NEA says uranium production cuts deepened suddenly with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020.  These planned reductions were greatest in Canada and Kazakhstan.

Five Countries Account For More than 80%

Kazakhstan remained by far the world’s largest producer, even as production was eased back from 21,705 tU in 2018 to 19,477 tU in 2020. Kazakhstan’s 2020 production alone totalled more than the combined production in that year from Australia, Namibia, Canada, and Uzbekistan, respectively the second, third, fourth and fifth largest producers of uranium in 2020. These five countries accounted for 81% of global uranium output that year.

Globally, Australia continues to lead with 28% of the world’s identified recoverable resources. Almost 80% of Australia’s uranium is related to a single site, BHP’s Olympic Dam deposit in South Australia.

The US buys almost all of its uranium for nuclear fuel to run its reactors on the global market and only produces about 1% of its needs from domestic mining operations.

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Argentina to Freeze Chinese Nuclear Project

ice cubesDuring a one-on-one meeting on March 29th, between Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández and and US President Joseph Biden, Fernandez agreed to “freeze” a broad range of infrastructure projects planned to be built under China’s Belt & Road Program include an $8.5 billion project to build a 1000 MW Hualong One light water reactor in the near term with a follow-up effort to build a third PHWR.

The cost of the project in Argentina is estimated to be $8.5 billion with China providing 85% of the costs. A  key remaining hurdle, and it’s a big one, is the financing Argentina’s 15% share worth $1.2 billion. Given the country’s dire economic state, coming up with the cash in hard currency could be a challenge.

During the visit by Fernandez to the Oval office, President Biden reportedly said that China’s geopolitical excursions into South America, particularly in Argentina, were a serious security concern.

According to English language press reports in Argentina, Biden said the China could become an arms supplier to Argentina and it would manage a significant portion of the country’s nuclear energy.

In response Fernandez told Biden “the government of our country will freeze the structural projects that China intended to implement in Argentina,” which includes the Hualong One reactor.

Biden said that while he does not object to commercial relations, e.g., trade, between Argentina and China, but he expressed concerns about China’s plans for strategic investments in that country. They include shipping, port, and waterway improvements, fighter jets for the air force, and the nuclear power plant.

The project was reported to be in the planning stage in May 2019. The decision to “freeze” the project represents a major setback related to China’s effort to extend its Belt & Road program into South America.

This is the second setback for China in its efforts to establish the market for export of the domestic design. In November 2022 the UK government bought out China’s 20% equity stake in the Sizewell C project (twin 16050 MW EPRs) and effectively ended prospects for China to build one or more Hualong One reactors at the Bradwell site.

hualong one

The original deal with China would have added Argentina’s fourth (Atucha III) and fifth (Atucha IV) nuclear plants, adding 1,700MW to the grid. It was to have been composed of a 700 MW PHWR CANDU reactor and a 1,000 MW PWR Hualong One. Given the limits of Argentina’s finances, the deal was reduced to just the single 1000 MW unit in the near term with the date for the PHWR to be determined in the future..

According to a December 2022 report in the Diplomat, the nuclear project slated for the Atucha site was already experiencing difficulties getting off the drawing board. Problems included Argentina’s ability to pay back the loan, supply chain problems, and a lack of a qualified EPC and construction workforce. There were also concerns within the government in Argentina about the lack of control of the project once it was launched by China.

China’s CNNC had been demanding in return for favorable financial terms that Chinese companies be given priority for all aspects of the nuclear project including design, construction, and the fuel cycle.

By agreeing to acquire the PWR type reactor (Hualong One) from CNNC, Argentina would be giving up the ability to leverage its experience with CANDU type PHWRs with a new power station. It also would have to give up the right to provide its own fuel for the new power station. Argentina provides its own fuel for its PHWR reactors and was pressing China to be able to provide the fuel for both reactors, which was a nonstarter for CNNC..

Argentina has three PHWR nuclear reactors which provide a combined generating capacity of about 1,400 MW or 7% of the nation’s electricity. If built the Hualong One, which is a 1,000 MW PWR, would have nearly doubled that number. Argentina’s energy consumption for electricity generation relies mostly on gas (69%) and hydro (17%).

IMF Comes to the Rescue for Argentina – Again

rescueThe Associated Press reported President Fernández used the White House meeting to spotlight the economic strain his country faces asking President Joe Biden to back Argentina’s effort to renegotiate with the International Monetary Fund on terms of $44 billion debt. The country defaulted to private lenders in 2017.

As a result of the meeting between the two presidents, the US reportedly agreed to support an application to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help Argentina with its finances. Fernández reportedly cited figures on the agricultural tragedy that Argentina is experiencing as a result of the drought.

Reuters reports that on March 31st the IMF released another $5.4 billion to Argentina, the fourth disbursement from a 30-month loan program. Overall, the loan provides $43 billion at current exchange rates.

On April 5th IMF cut the level of foreign currency reserves Argentina needs to build up by the end of this year by $1.8 billion, citing a major drought that has hammered production of top exports soy and corn.

Argentina is the IMFs’ biggest loan holder and is experiencing runaway inflation that may seriously impact its economy this year. Reuters reported that financial analysts estimate it will be difficult for Argentina to meet its foreign currency targets.

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PacifiCorp Forecasts Need for Two Additional Natrium Reactors

  • Updated deployment plan for Natrium reactors represents largest indication of the value of advanced nuclear technology in the United States.

PacifiCorp released its 2023 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) which selects two additional Natrium reactor and energy storage systems1 into the company’s generation resource mix by 2033. This IRP includes 1,500 megawatts of advanced nuclear energy from three total Natrium reactors.

Last fall, TerraPower and PacifiCorp announced a joint study of up to five additional Natrium reactors by 2035. The inclusion of two additional Natrium reactors in the IRP is the next step in PacifiCorp’s ongoing modeling and planning activities.

TerraPower and PacifiCorp will also continue to explore the possibility of deploying additional Natrium units by 2035. The location of these two additional Natrium plants in this IRP are in Utah; however, both companies will engage with local communities before any final sites are selected.

“The Natrium reactor offers carbon-free, dispatchable energy plus gigawatt hour scale energy storage, making it the ideal technology for utilities to deploy as they plan to meet decarbonization targets,” said Chris Levesque, TerraPower President and CEO.

“We are pleased with the additional Natrium units in this year’s IRP and look forward to continuing to work with PacifiCorp as we bring good-paying jobs and decades-long generating assets to local communities.”

TerraPower is currently bringing the Natrium demonstration plant to Kemmerer, Wyoming, where a PacifiCorp coal-fueled power plant is slated for retirement. In partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, as part of their Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP), the Natrium demonstration plant will be a fully operating, commercial unit and will be online this decade, making it the first advanced reactor with gigawatt hour scale energy storage on the grid.

natrium power reactor facility

The Natrium technology is a 345-megawatt sodium-cooled fast reactor coupled with a molten salt-based integrated energy storage system that can boost power output to 500-megawatts for more than five and a half hours to serve peak demand; making it the ideal technology to pair with energy grids that have high penetrations of renewable resources.

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X-energy Partners with Kinectrics for Helium Test Facility

X-Energy Reactor Company, LLC (“X-energy” or the “Company”), a developer of advanced modular nuclear reactors and fuel technology, and Kinectrics, a global provider of engineering, testing, and certification services, announced a partnership to design, construct, and operate one of the first commercial-scale Helium Test Facilities (“HTF”) in North America. This facility will test and verify performance of critical structures, systems, and components of X-energy’s Xe-100 advanced small modular reactor in helium-based high-temperature and high-pressure environments.


The Xe-100 will use circulating helium gas to transfer heat from the reactor core through a heat exchanger to generate high-temperature steam that can be used to generate electricity or supply heat for industrial processes.

The HTF will test Xe-100 components and instruments under operating conditions and without the presence of any nuclear materials. The tests will enable design verification and give Kinectrics and X-energy performance data on key reactor systems, including the Reactivity Control & Shutdown System, Helium Purification System, Helium Circulator System, and Fuel Handling System.

X-energy and Kinectrics expect to announce the HTF site this summer and complete its detailed design in 2023, with the goal of having an operational facility in 2025.

Testing and design validation at the HTF will support X-energy’s recently announced plans to install its first Xe-100 reactors at one of Dow’s U.S. Gulf Coast sites as part of the Company’s participation in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP). The program provides $1.2 billion in cost-shared federal funding for the delivery and demonstration of a first-of-a-kind commercial advanced nuclear plant and TRISO-X fuel fabrication facility.

“The Helium Test Facility is an integral part of testing our systems and components in expected operating conditions and verifying their safety, operability, and reliability,” said X-energy CEO, J. Clay Sell.

“In addition to helping our advanced nuclear technology enter the marketplace, this facility will bring together nuclear operators, researchers, and engineers to drive additional potential optimizations of our reactors. As a global leader in nuclear component testing, characterization, and certification, Kinectrics is expected to play a pivotal role in the success of X-energy’s products.”

“The Helium Test Facility is expected to provide the critical infrastructure and comprehensive testing required to support timely commercialization of the Xe-100,” said Kinectrics CEO, David Harris.

As previously announced on December 6, 2022, X-energy entered into a definitive business combination agreement with Ares Acquisition Corporation (NYSE: AAC) (“AAC”), a publicly-traded special purpose acquisition company. Upon the closing of the transaction, which is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2023, the combined company will be named X-Energy, Inc. and its common equity securities and warrants are expected to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Completion of the transaction is subject to approval by AAC’s shareholders, the Registration Statement being declared effective by the SEC, and other customary closing conditions.

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Savannah River to Provide HALEU Fuel for Advanced Nuclear Reactors

  • Savannah River Site Preps to Provide Fuel for Advanced Nuclear Reactors

srs logo

The US Department of Energy said in a press statement this week H Canyon chemical separations facility at Savannah River Site (SRS) is preparing to recycle used highly enriched uranium (HEU) and downblend it to provide much-needed fuel for U.S. advanced nuclear reactors.

The downblended fuel, known as high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU), is desirable for use in nuclear power reactor designs because it allows for smaller designs, longer life cores, increased fuel efficiency and less waste.

“The projected demand for HALEU far exceeds the current supply,” said HALEU Program Manager Jeff Hasty with EM contractor Savannah River Nuclear Solutions. “Because of H Canyon’s most recent mission of blending HEU into LEU for commercial fuel reactors, H Canyon has stored HEU solutions available for use.”

“This approval is a win-win,” said Hasty. “H Canyon has a useful path for the stored HEU, and at the same time, HALEU availability is increased for the emerging advanced reactors.”

Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) completed a series of analyses to show downblending of HEU from H Canyon liquid solutions could meet specifications needed for the advanced reactors. Those analyses helped SRS in initiating the planned HALEU project in H Canyon.

H Canyon has begun preparing for the pending mission, which will include equipment repair, training, procedure revisions and an environmental impact analysis. SRNL is also supporting the effort by completing a detailed set of sample analyses to ensure the HALEU meets reactor material specifications and to certify shipping containers for material transport. Downblending is expected to begin in 2025.

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India Approves Construction of Ten New 700 MW PHWRs

The government of India has given approval for installation of ten nuclear reactors in the country, union minister Jitendra Singh informed Parliament. Singh said that the government has approved the plans and financing of for ten indigenous design pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWR) of 700 MW each in fleet mode. The nuclear reactors will be set up in Karnataka, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

The government has amended the Atomic Energy Act in 2015 to enable the joint ventures of NPCIL with public sector enterprises to set up nuclear power. These reactors are planned to be set up in ‘fleet mode’ progressively by the year 2031 at an estimate cost of of about $1.3 billion each.

The low cost per plant will include Indian labor rates and the fact that the supply chains for the reactors will be entirely comprised of Indian firms. The PHWRs run on natural uranium and do not require expensive reactor pressure vessels.


By comparison, similar units built in western industrialized countries, at current market rates, could cost between $3.5 billion to $4.6 billion each.

Singh also said during 2021-22 nuclear power reactors generated 47,112 million units of electricity, which comprises about 3.15% of the total electricity generated in the country.

He said the present installed nuclear power capacity is set to increase from 6,780 MW to 22,480 MW by 2031 on progressive completion of projects under construction and accorded sanction.

Separately, Russia has commissioned two 1000 MW VVER at Kudankulam in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, has two more under construction at an estimated cost of $1.68 billion each and are expected to be completed in 2025. A third duo is also planned for the site. No western reactors are under construction due to India’s supplier liability law which is essentially a “poison pill” for any publicly traded or private equity firm.

France has been “negotiating” for more than a decade to build six 1600 MWS EPRs at Jaitapur on India’s west coast but no deal has come to pass despite visits by French government officials to try to come to financial terms for the project. NPCIL, which is India’s state owned nuclear developer, has balked at the price pointing out that it can build many domestically designed and sourced 700 MW PHWRs for the price of just six EPRs which is exactly what it is doing.

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Idaho Lab Opens Its Software for Licensing to Industry

inl logoThe marketplace is a new website developed to widely distribute INL’s innovative software. Its goal: to accelerate industry adoption and fuel innovation in other research organizations. Ultimately, the marketplace is designed to help fulfill the lab’s vision to change the world’s energy future and secure our nation’s critical infrastructure.

“At INL, technology transfer into the marketplace is important to our mission as it puts our innovations to use and makes actual impact in our community,” said INL Technology Deployment Director Jason Stolworthy. “The website gives us another outlet to distribute and license our software to achieve our mission.”

The marketplace provides access to software codes and data sets developed at INL through various forms of licenses, including open-source and proprietary options. The site will expand as more software is developed and becomes available. The nuclear category contains 18 separate applications ready for use.

View the site at Questions about licensing or available software can be emailed to

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Posted in Nuclear | Comments Off on Saudi Arabia’s Uranium Prospecting Comes Up Short

Indonesia Gets US Grant, and Help from NuScale, for SMRs on Borneo

  • Indonesia Gets US Grant, and Help from NuScale, for SMRs on Borneo
  • Thorcon to Support Pre-Licensing Consultation for 500 MW Advanced Reactor with Indonesia Nuclear Safety Ministry
  • Thorium Energy Alliance Inks MOU with El Salvador
  • Thorium’s Long-Term Potential in Nuclear Energy: IAEA Analysis
  • EDF Sets Up Subsidiary to Focus On Nuward SMR
  • Type One Fusion Energy Group Raises $29 Million in First Round of Financing
  • British-Korean Partnership Set for Fusion Robotics

Indonesia Gets US Grant, and Help from NuScale, for SMRs on Borneo

(NucNet contributed to this report) The US Trade & Development Agency (USTDA) has awarded a grant to Indonesia for technical assistance towards the deployment of the Asian nation’s first small modular reactor with a potential site already chosen in West Kalimantan, a province on the island of Borneo. The grant will be administered by the government-owned electricity distributor PLN Indonesia Power for technical assistance to help develop the SMR.  US SMR developer NuScale Power has been selected to conduct the scope of work associated with the grant.

“This project will advance climate action and clean energy access throughout a critical part of the world and has the potential – as part of follow-on projects – to create thousands of jobs, pave the way for additional SMR projects in Indonesia and the Indo-Pacific region, and uphold the highest standards for nuclear safety, security, and non-proliferation,” according to a US Embassy press release

NuScale President and CEO John Hopkins said: “NuScale is providing our innovative small modular reactor technology to countries like Indonesia that are seeking reliable, zero-carbon baseload power.”

Several South Korean heavy industry firms have inked equity investments in NuScale and will also serve as key suppliers of long lead time systems and components with an eye towards sales of NuScale’s SMRs in Southeast Asia.

First of a Kind Funded Effort by US and NuScale for Indonesia

Indonesia Power has chosen Oregon-based NuScale Power to carry out the assistance in partnership with a subsidiary of Texas-based Fluor Corporation (NYSE:FLR) and Japan’s JGC Corporation. The proposed 462-MW facility (six 77 MW SMRs) would use NuScale’s SMR technology and advance Indonesia’s clean energy transition.  Fluor is already doing business in Indonesia in its cooper and gold mining sector.

Indonesia has been considering various proposals for full scale nuclear power plants since 2006 according to the country profile published by the World Nuclear Association. Several sites, located away from the tectonic subduction zones, have been evaluated for these plants, but none of the proposals by various vendors and state owned enterprises have moved beyond the unfunded MOU stage.

The latest initiative by the USTDA is the first time any government has put money on the table to evaluate the potential for SMRs and put a US SMR developer in place funded to do the assessment.

firstThe USTDA did not say how much the grant was for, but noted that cooperation includes $1 million in new funding for nuclear energy capacity-building for Indonesia under the US Department of State’s Foundational Infrastructure for the Responsible Use of SMR Technology (First) Program. This program includes support in areas such as workforce development, stakeholder engagement, regulations, and licensing.

USTDA’s assistance will assess the technical and economic viability of the proposed nuclear power plant in West Kalimantan province. It will include a site selection plan, power plant and interconnection system design, preliminary environmental and social impact assessment, risk assessment, cost estimate and regulatory review.

“Indonesia has demonstrated a strong interest in partnering with the United States on its energy transition and identifying innovative and groundbreaking US technology to advance its goals,” said Enoh Ebong, USTDA’s director.

“USTDA has a unique, catalytic role in advancing the development of some of the most ambitious and noteworthy infrastructure projects in Indonesia and emerging economies around the globe.”

In making the announcement USTDA’s Ebong was accompanied by Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Minister Airlangga Hartarto, U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Sung Y. Kim, and U.S. Department of State Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Ann Ganzer.

“After 78 years of waiting, now is the time to achieve self-sufficiency in emission-free green energy,” said Edwin Nugraha Putra, Indonesia Power’s president director. He said the project has “opened the gates to a new era of nuclear energy for electricity to light up Indonesia.”

Indonesia’s energy minister Arifin Tasrif told the G20 ministerial meeting on energy transition in Bali in September 2022 that the country is planning to have nuclear as part of its energy mix in 2049. To support the introduction of nuclear power to Indonesia, the necessary regulatory structure would have to be developed, with independent safety checks being a core element of the government’s capacity building effort.

Indonesia’s safeguards agreement with the IAEA under the NPT entered force in 1980 and the Additional Protocol entered force in 1999. In 1997 it signed the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and Radioactive Waste Management. Indonesia signed a 123 Agreement with the US in 1981.

Coastal Site for an SMR

The location of a future SMR, as noted in the grant announcement, is on Borneo’s western coast which is about 1,000 miles east of Singapore and 500 miles east of Jakarta.  Unlike other parts of the island masses in the South Pacific “ring of fire,” region, Borneo is seismically stable with no active volcanos.


Energy Supply & Use in Indonesia

Indonesia, an archipelago nation of more than 18,000 islands, has the world’s fourth largest population which, combined with forecasted economic growth, is expected to increase the country’s energy use three times by 2050.

The region’s mega cities will need enormous amounts of carbon emission free electrical power to grow, prosper, and meet their climate change commitments. Currently, 86% of primary energy consumption is based on fossil fuels (petroleum 32%, coal 37%, and gas 17%). At the same time, Indonesia has a net-zero emission goal of 2050, meaning its energy transition is key to achieving its emission objectives.

Energy Use Indonesia Sept 2021

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), at the US Department of Energy, as of September 2021, the following is a summary of energy use and supply in Indonesia.

  • Indonesia’s 2020 petroleum and other liquids production totaled 887,000 barrels per day (b/d), accounting for approximately 1% of world production.
  • In 2020, Indonesia was the world’s largest exporter of coal by weight and the seventh-largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG).
  • Indonesia’s total primary energy consumption grew by 16% between 2010 and 20203. The country’s petroleum share, although decreasing since 2018, accounted for the second-highest portion of Indonesia’s energy mix at 32% in 2020.
  • Between 2010 and 2019, use of coal more than doubled. Surpassing natural gas as the less expensive fuel during that time, domestically produced coal became more economically attractive.
  • Indonesia’s National Energy Policy calls for a reduction of petroleum use to 25% of its primary energy supply while raising the renewable energy mix to 23% by 20255. This energy mix would be a significant change from its current energy mix.
  • In 2019, Indonesia became the largest producer of biodiesel in the world.

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Thorcon to Support Pre-Licensing Consultation for 500 MW Advanced Reactor with Indonesia

thorcon logoThorCon has signed an agreement with BAPETEN, Indonesia’s nuclear safety ministry, to carry out a pre-licensing consultation to create a roadmap for licensing the ThorCon 500 MW demonstration power plant in Indonesia.

Thorcon announced that it signed an agreement with the Nuclear Energy Regulatory Agency of Indonesia (BAPETEN) to officially start a safety, security, and safeguards consultation in preparation for licensing the 500 MW demonstration nuclear power plant to be located at Kelasa Island in the Province of Bangka-Belitung. (about 300 miles north of Jakarta). ThorCon intends to license, build and operate the 500 MWe demonstration power plant by 2029. According to a report in the Jakarta Post newspaper, the facility will cost $1.1 billion.

kelasa isl

The goal of the consultation is to prepare the regulator, the applicant, and the stakeholders for the formal licensing process. The effort will also create a roadmap that contains the following;

  • schedules,
  • roles and responsibilities,
  • applicable laws and regulations,
  • scope and format of the technical
  • administrative documents in the license applications, and
  • evaluations of the design readiness.

The consultation is expected to take 12 months. The firm said it plans to submit license applications following the conclusion of the consultation in 2024.

Thorcon said in a press statement, “This consultation agreement is a major milestone that indicates that the Indonesian Government is serious about providing the efficient regulation required to allow for the licensing of nuclear power in a timely and economic manner.  We look forward to working with Bapeten in this exciting program which will help Indonesia carry out the transition to clean, reliable energy put forward by President Joko Widodo in the 2022 G20 meeting.”

The ThorCon design, known as the TMSR-500, will provide the low-cost dispatchable electricity to support the that the Indonesian economy.  (Technical briefing slides – PDF file) It is composed of two 250 MW molten salt reactors. The plants will be located on docked floating barges fabricated by a South Korean shipyard.

Initially, the reactors will use conventional uranium fuels including high assay low enriched uranium fuel (HALEU) at 5-15% U235. Subsequent implementation of the design may change over to thorium molten salt fuel configurations, but only if there is a commercial supplier for it.

thorcon conceptual images

thorcon tech specs

The electricity from the plant will help Indonesia to develop its own natural resources. The plant will be used to make the Indonesian grid more robust and attract foreign companies to set up operations in Indonesia.

Thorcon said it is the firm’s intention to establish an assembly line in Indonesia which will manufacture its reactor nuclear power plants in Indonesia. The firm is also working with several universities to create programs regarding molten salt reactor technology.

The firm claims these activities will not only create a new industry in the national economy, but they will also help transform Indonesian power generation into one of the cleanest on the planet.

Previous Coverage on this Blog

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Thorium Energy Alliance Inks MOU with El Salvador

tea logo(NucNet) El Salvador and the US-based Thorium Energy Alliance have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to develop a “comprehensive and strategic plan” to deploy thorium-powered reactors in the Central American country.

The document was signed on 03/14/23 between Daniel Álvarez, general director of Energy, Hydrocarbons and Mines, and John Kutsch, executive director of Thorium Energy Alliance (TEA), at the facilities of the Embassy of El Salvador in the United States, in Washington D.C.

el salvador thorium alliancePhoto Caption: Daniel Alvarez (left), El Salvador’s director general of Energy, Hydrocarbons, and Mines, and John Kutsch (right), executive director of the Thorium Energy Alliance. Image: TEA.

The purpose of the agreement is to formally establish the framework for action for cooperation between Thorium Energy Alliance and the Directorate General of Energy, Hydrocarbons and Mines (DGEHM) to develop a comprehensive and strategic plan to deploy, in an advanced and safe way, power generation.

“I am pleased to announce the launch of this innovative project that will revolutionize the energy landscape of El Salvador. I want to thank Thorium Energy Alliance for their dedicated work in implementing a safe nuclear future for El Salvador. Their experience and commitment have been invaluable in making this initiative a reality,” said Daniel Alvarez, Director General of Energy, Hydrocarbons and Mines, during the signing.

“The leadership of El Salvador is rising and taking the bold steps necessary to ensure access to abundant and reliable energy, with the goal of ensuring a future of prosperity for all,” said John Kutsch, Executive Director of Thorium Energy Alliance.

map elsalvadorThe government of El Salvador said it is taking steps to add nuclear power to the country’s energy mix, as the nation of about 6.5 million people looks to diversify its electric power generation fleet.

The Thorium Energy Alliance, a Harvard, Illinois, based non-profit advocacy group that endorses thorium-fueled nuclear reactors, said the MOU means El Salvador is taking “another step towards diversifying its energy matrix.”

The Thorium Energy Alliance is a 501(c)3 Educational advocacy organization. It is particularly interested in thorium fueled molten salt reactors.

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Thorium’s Long-Term Potential in Nuclear Energy: IAEA Analysis

thorium symbol (2)(Press Release) Using thorium for energy production is not without challenges, and these are discussed in a new IAEA technical publication Near-Term and Promising Long-Term Options for the Deployment of Thorium-Based Nuclear Energy (large PDF file).

Comprehensively summarizing the results of a four-year IAEA coordinated research project focused on the possibilities of developing thorium-based nuclear energy, the report examines the benefits and the challenges of using thorium as a fuel and analyses its application in different types of reactors — from the most commonly deployed water-cooled reactors to molten-salt reactors.

“Many countries consider thorium as both a viable and very attractive option for generating power and meeting their growing energy needs,” said Kailash Agarwal, a Nuclear Fuel Cycle Facilities Specialist at the IAEA and one of the authors of the report.

“Our research project helped share valuable knowledge and experience among national laboratories and research institutions in the use of thorium, culminating in this publication.”

According to the IAEA report, thorium boasts several advantages over the conventional nuclear fuel, uranium-235. Thorium can generate more fissile material (uranium-233) than it consumes while fueling a water-cooled or molten-salt reactor. According to estimates, the Earth’s upper crust contains an average of 10.5 parts per million (ppm) of thorium, compared with about 3 ppm of uranium.

“Because of its abundance and its fissile material breeding capability, thorium could potentially offer a long-term solution to humanity’s energy needs,” Agarwal said.

Not Without Challenges

However, there are several economic and technical obstacles making the deployment of thorium challenging. Despite its abundance, the metal is currently expensive to extract.

“The mineral monazite, which is a major source of rare earth elements, is also a primary source of thorium,” said Mark Mihalasky, a Uranium Resources Specialist at the IAEA.

“Without the current demand for rare earth elements, monazite would not be mined for its thorium content alone. Thorium is a by-product, and extraction of thorium requires methods that are costlier than for uranium. So, as it stands, the amount of thorium that can be pulled out of the ground in a cost-effective manner is not as great as for uranium. This, however, could change if there was a higher demand for thorium and its application in nuclear power.”

Equally expensive are research, development and testing of thorium-powered nuclear installations due to a lack of significant experience with thorium and uranium’s historical pre-eminence in nuclear power.

“Another hurdle for thorium is that it can be difficult to handle,” said Anzhelika Khaperskaia, Technical Lead on Fuel Engineering and Fuel Cycle Facilities at the IAEA.

“Being a fertile and not fissile material, it needs a driver, such as uranium or plutonium, to trigger and maintain a chain reaction.”

Further Reading

Safety and Regulatory Issues of the Thorium Fuel Cycle
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission ML14050A083
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
NUREG/CR-7176 ORNL/TM-2013/543

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EDF Sets Up Subsidiary To Focus On Nuward SMR

(NucNet) France’s state energy company EDF has created a subsidiary to strengthen the development of its Nuward small modular reactor, which now in the detailed preliminary project phase.

EDF said it completed the preliminary design of the Nuward plant. The new Nuward subsidiary is now committed to the detailed preliminary design, in line with an objective of beginning construction of a reference unit in 2030.

IAEA Profile Nuward SMR

Nuward Technical Profile:. Table and Data IAEA

EDF said Nuward aims to become the European leader in SMR, offering reliable and carbon-free energy at a competitive cost for the global market. It faces still competition from American SMR developers NuScale and GE Hitachi and from the UK’s Rolls-Royce.

EDF said that in line with the licensing process a safety options file will be submitted to the French nuclear regulator ASN in July. Nuward work with French authorities to assess and select sites that could potentially accommodate the first plant.

EDF and Nuward will continue to seek alliances with international prospects considering deploying Nuward SMR technology.

The Nuward project is being led by EDF with contributions from the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), French industrial group Naval Group, reactor design and maintenance company TechnicAtome, nuclear company Framatome and engineering company Tractebel.

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Type One Energy Group Raises $29 Million in First Financing

  • Bill Gates and other investors pump $29 million into a ‘twisty’ nuclear reactor
  • Firm appoints Christofer Mowry, formerly CEO at General Fusion, to lead development

Type One Energy announced announced is has closed an over-subscribed $29 million financing round. This effort launches the company’s FusionDirect program by emerging from a kind of “stealth mode” to promote the commercialization of its stellarator fusion technology. Type One Energy is one of only two stellarator-centric companies seeking to commercialize the technology. The other is Renaissance Fusion which is based in Grenoble, France. (Image below: Type One)


Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the $2 billion clean-energy fund created by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, partnered to raise the $29 million in Series A funding with TDK Ventures and Doral Energy Tech Ventures was co-lead on the investment round. Other backers include Darco, the Grantham Foundation, MILFAM, Orbia Ventures, Shorewind Capital, TRIREC and Vahoca.

Carmichael Roberts, who co-leads BEV’s investment committee, said that Type One’s advances in stellarator science included an evaluation of Type One Energy’s ability to execute a stellarator development project; “It provides the basis for a very exciting and promising path to practical fusion on the grid in the coming decades.”

The Series A money will be used to build a “Risk Reduction Platform” (RRP) for the stellarator over the next few years. The firm said the ‘risk reduction platform” will be used to test several engineering design choices made by FFP and confirm the accuracy of its stellarator plasma physics models and simulations.

This statement suggests that the priority for now is to get to a stage of controlling the plasma. So far the company has not released design information on the electrical generation capacity of the fusion design nor specifications of the heat transfer mechanism to drive a steam system and connected turbine.

Three Areas of Technical Innovation by Type One Energy

Type One Energy’s ‘FusionDirect’ commercialization program is designed to take advantage of improvements in stellarator fusion performance and plasma science work together with technical innovations in high-temperature superconducting (HTS) magnet technology and advanced manufacturing.

These innovations are similar to parallel efforts, in a crowded field, by other fusion developers. For details see the Fusion Industry Association 2022 Annual report and its review of  the commercial profiles and technical concepts being pursued by 31 fusion energy startups. Here are the three areas where Type One Energy says it is pursuing a technological competitive advantage.

  • Advancements in analytical theory, supercomputing and sophisticated codes uncover previously hidden magnetic field configurations that provide optimal confinement of the plasma for the greatest and most efficient power generation.
  • New high-temperature superconducting (HTS) magnets can carry over 200 times the current carrying capacity of copper wires for a more compact stellarator. It also requires less cooling power than conventional low temperature magnets.(HTS) magnets can carry over 200 times the current carrying capacity of copper wires for a more compact stellarator. It also requires less cooling power than conventional low temperature magnets.
  • Digital design optimization with hybrid in-situ additive-subtractive manufacturing can enable the rapid, large scale build of complex-shaped, dimensionally-accurate stellarator components with fewer parts that perform better and at lower cost.

The RRP testbed will support the ongoing primary mission to design and develop the fusion machine. The firm said its initial steps will be focused on “the RRP testbed” which will be used to “validate several engineering design choices and confirm the fidelity of its stellarator plasma physics models and simulations.”

Commercial Goals

Type One hasn’t set a target date for commercialization. It said its FusionDirect timeline for developing a viable Fusion Power Plant, or FPP, will unfold over the coming decade which probably puts the first commercial unit in line with other fusion start up target dates of mid-to-late 2030s. UKAEA targets 2040 as a likely date for deployment of one or more commercial fusion energy plants.

While the company’s Series A funding of $29 million is a terrific start, the firm will need very significant funding  in the range of $100s of millions from investors and private/public partnerships to cross the finish line to be able to offer a commercial product to customers. Major milestones will include producing a scale prototype, a final design, regulatory approvals, and development of a supply chain to manufacture components on an ongoing basis.

Collaborators and Partners

Type One’s commercialization program is being executed through a set of global partnerships with leading fusion science and technology research institutions, universities and industrial companies.

Type One Energy said in a press statement it brings concentrated experience from renowned fusion science institutions, including the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the U.S., the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Germany and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for its work on advanced magnet technology.

Christofer Mowry is the New CEO

With this announcement, the company will onboard former Breakthrough Energy Ventures’ (BEV) Senior Advisor on Fusion, Christofer Mowry, to serve as Chief Executive Officer (CEO). In a statement about his new role at a new company, he said, Type One Energy represents a special opportunity. This team’s knowledge and credibility gives Type One the unique ability to effectively integrate recent global advances in stellarator-relevant technology and to deliver a fusion power plant without another costly, large-scale, science validation machine.”

Previously, Mowry held the CEO position at General Fusion, where he scaled up the company and raised over $200M in private investment and government support from three countries.

Technical Leadership

The technical leadership team includes a quartet of fusion energy experts.

  • Chief Technology Officer Dr. Thomas Sunn Pedersen,
  • Chief Science Officer Dr. John Canik,
  • Chief Engineer Dr. David Anderson, and,
  • Head of Stellarator Plasma Science Dr. Chris Hegna.

About Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV)

Founded by Bill Gates and backed by many of the world’s top business leaders, BEV has raised more than $2 billion in committed capital to support cutting-edge companies that are leading the world to net-zero emissions. BEV is a purpose-built investment firm that is seeking to invest, launch and scale global companies that will eliminate GHG emissions throughout the economy as soon as possible. BEV seeks true breakthroughs and is committed to supporting these entrepreneurs and companies by bringing to bear a unique combination of technical, operational, market and policy expertise.

About the Stellarator Fusion Concept

The twisted structure of a stellarator device is meant to create a stable magnetic field for plasma containment without having to use massive circulating electric currents. Plasma physics labs have been building stellarators since the 1950s. The billion-dollar Wendelstein 7-X reactor — which began operation in Germany in 2015 at the Max Plank Institute for Plasma Physics — is currently the world’s largest experimental fusion device of the stellarator type.

The firm describes its stellarator as a fusion technology characterized by inherently stable and steady-state operations. Related to tokamaks, stellarators do not require massive circulating electric currents to assist in creating the magnetic fields used to confine their fusion plasma. According to Type One this makes stellarator technology less physically complex and easier to translate into a practical fusion power plant.

However, in a review of fusion technology types, the IEEE Spectum wrote, “The stellarator’s spiraling ribbon shape produces high-density plasma that’s symmetrical and more stable than a tokamak’s, allowing the reactor to run for long periods of time. Reality Check: The stellarator’s challenging geometry makes it complicated to build and extremely sensitive to imperfect conditions.”

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British-Korean Partnership for Fusion Robotics

(WNN) The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and the Korea Institute of Fusion Energy (KFE) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to cooperate in research and development for remote handling and the maintenance of future fusion power plants.

UKAEA’s Joint European Torus (JET) has been configured to replicate the anticipated International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) set-up and is maintained using robotics and remote handling. KFE operates the Korean Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR), the only tokamak machine using superconducting technology like ITER.

The MOU signed by UKAEA and KFE – both government-funded organizations – will see risk-driven research and development prioritization, knowledge-sharing involving welding, large-scale tendon driven arm operations, the development of robust electronic components, and skills transfer. The technical and knowledge exchange will happen via lectures, seminars and workshops in both countries.

UKAEA conducts fusion energy research on behalf of the UK government. Since opening at Culham, Oxfordshire, in 2014, UKAEA’s fusion robotics center, Remote Applications in Challenging Environments, has conducted research and development into the use of robotics in extreme industrial environments where it is difficult to send people to work.

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Posted in Nuclear | Comments Off on Indonesia Gets US Grant, and Help from NuScale, for SMRs on Borneo

TVA, OPG & Synthos Green Team Up for BWRX300 SMR

  • TVA, OPG & Synthos Green Team Up for BWRX300 SMR
  • BWXT Inks Engineering Contract for BWRX-300 SMR
  • Fast Reactors / China And Russia Sign Fuel & Technology Agreements for CFR-600
  • Ultra Safe Nuclear Hires U-Battery Talent for Its UK Reactor Team
  • Urenco Exits U-Battery Micro-reactor Project
  • Japan Partners with US and UK  on Fusion Materials R&D (Two reports)

TVA, OPG & Synthos Green Team Up for BWRX300 SMR

partnershipTennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Ontario Power Generation (OPG) , and Synthos Green Energy (SGE) agreed this week  to invest in the development of the GE-Hitachi BWRX300 small modular reactor (SMR).

The new team is a major international collaboration involving three key customers for multiple units of the 300 MW SMR in the US, Canada, and Poland.

Through a technical collaboration agreement that was announced in Washington, D.C., TVA, OPG and SGE will invest in the development of the BWRX-300 standard design and detailed design for key components, including reactor pressure vessel and internals.

GEH is committed to standard design development and anticipates a total investment of around $400 million associated with the development. Each contributor has agreed to fund a portion of GEH’s overall cost and collectively will form a ‘Design Center Working Group’ with the purpose of ensuring the standard design is deployable in multiple international jurisdictions. The long-term goal is for the BWRX-300 design to be licensed and deployed in Canada, the U.S., Poland and beyond.

Competitive Advantages

The collaboration could have significant impacts in terms of increasing competitive advantage for the BWRX300. By aligning three major customers to commit to building multiple units of the 300 MW SMR, GEH will be able to reap significant benefits. Here are a few examples.

  • Provide supply chain partners with a robust order book that will impel them to invest in production capacity to supply key long lead time systems and components for the SMR.
  • Achieve economies of scale for production of systems and components due to the fact that of the partners in the team are likely to commit to building multiple units of the reactor.
  • Speed up licensing in the US Canada. TVA and OPG will be able to take advantage of the collaboration between CNSC and NRC on licensing of the BWRX300. Synthos Green will be able to reference the licenses issued in the US and Canada with Poland’s nuclear safety ministry.
  • Advanced licensing in Poland. Recently, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and Poland’s National Atomic Energy Agency signed an agreement to collaborate on SMR technology reviews which will also speed up regulatory approval in Poland.
  • Train all reactor operators for all three customers in a single program and at a single digital twin simulator site.

US DOE Response to the Announcement

Addressing the event in Washington, US Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Kathryn Huff said the partnership was a model for “precisely the kind of first-mover visionary private investment-driven effort” needed to drive deployment at scale.

“It takes a lot of dollars to make real change happen, and the federal government can’t provide all of those dollars.”

This comment may be a reference to the fact DOE has not made major development investments in the BWRX300 SMR similar to the scope of its support for the NuScale SMR which is also a light water reactor design.

In terms of “not providing all of these dollars,” as Sec. Huff noted, the agency’s FY2024 budget request has a number of big holes in it. How Congress will react to these numbers, given the administration’s commitment to deal with climate change, remains to be seen. Here are a few highlights.
-$160M / -62% Reactor concepts R&D
-$ 82M / -29% ARDP
-$ 36M / -52% National Reactor Information Center
-$ 60M / -100% Demonstration Reactor Programs (zero funding for the Versatile Test Reactor)

GEH Progress in Canada Earlier this month GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) announced that its BWRX-300 small modular reactor has achieved a significant pre-licensing milestone in Canada with the completion of phases one and two of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s (CNSC) vendor design review process. It is part of a field of a dozen or so SMR developers involved in the VDR process. The other two light water designs in the VDR process are by NuScale and Holtec.

CNSC VDR Process Heat

Site preparation is now underway for a BWRX-300 at OPG’s Darlington New Nuclear Project site in Clarington, Ontario, with construction expected to be complete by the end of 2028. This will be the first grid-scale SMR in North America.

“Nuclear power will play a key role in meeting increasing clean electricity needs in Ontario and beyond, which is why OPG is constructing North America’s first grid-scale SMR at the Darlington New Nuclear Project site,” said OPG President and CEO Ken Hartwick. The collaboration agreement “will help advance necessary work to develop this next generation of nuclear power efficiently, benefiting electricity-users in all our jurisdictions.”

TVA is preparing a construction permit application for a BWRX-300 at the Clinch River Site near Oak Ridge, Tennessee and exploring additional sites in the TVA service area for potential SMR deployments. It’s objective to deploy 800 MW of nuclear generation indicates a need for multiple units of SMRs at the Clinch River Site. It is unlikely that TVA will invest in any full size nuclear power plants at other locations.

“Working together, we are taking intentional steps to advance new nuclear in the US and around the world,” TVA President and CEO Jeff Lyash said.

“Getting this right is critical,” GEH President and CEO Jay Wileman said. “We all know nuclear has to be part of the equation, if you want to achieve net-zero by 2050,” but to “earn” its seat at that table “we’ve got to be on schedule, on budget, and it’s got to be at competitive cost. That is one of the foremost purposes of our design-to-cost [approach], in our common design, where you design it once, and you build it multiple times.”

Each of the companies will benefit from the “unprecedented” collaboration, which will further strengthen the cost competitiveness of the BWRX-300, he added.

ORLEN Synthos Green Energy (OSGE), a joint venture between SGE and PKN Orlen, and its partners have started the pre-licensing process in Poland by submitting an application to the National Atomic Energy Agency for assessment of the BWRX-300. OSGE has initiated a site selection process for its proposed first BWRX-300, and intends to deploy this first unit by the end of this decade with the future potential for a fleet of BWRX-300s. OSGE has initiated a site selection process for this first unit.

The SMRs will provide electricity, removing the need for coal fired power plants, and process heat for industrial production. The firm’s ambition to build a “fleet of SMRs” could transform it into a major energy utility in Poland and nearby nations in Central Europe.

“For the first time ever, a private Polish company is investing in a design for nuclear power plants,” Rafał Kasprów, CEO of SGE, said, adding that GEH’s modular technology is “simply ideal” for decarbonizing energy and heat production in Poland, and also for the company’s other zero-emission projects in the UK and throughout Central Europe.

UK Effort

In the UK GEH has submitted the BWRX-300 for review under the Office of Nuclear Regulation Generic Design Assessment (GDA).

“We believe the BWRX-300 is the ideal technology to help the UK meet its decarbonization and energy security goals,” said Sean Sexstone, executive vice president for advanced nuclear at GE Hitachi.

“Regulatory agencies in Canada and the US are collaborating on their licensing review of the BWRX-300. Through the GDA process we look forward to engaging UK regulators and enabling collaboration with their global counterparts.”

About the BWRX-300

The BWRX-300 is being designed to reduce construction and operating costs below other nuclear power generation technologies. Specifically, the BWRX-300 is being developed to leverage a unique combination of existing fuel, (commercial enrichment at less than 5% U235 which avoids HALEU supply challenges), plant simplifications, proven components and a design based on an already licensed reactor (ESBWR 1500 MW).

Global Interest in SMRs

An increasing number of countries are looking to SMRs to provide energy for everything from heavy industry to rural communities. SMRs, deployable either as single or multi-module plant, offer the possibility to combine nuclear with alternative energy sources, including renewables.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, global interest in SMRs has been increasing due to their ability to meet the need for flexible power generation for a wider range of users and applications and replace ageing fossil fuel-fired power plants.

There are about 50 SMR designs and concepts globally. Most of them are in various developmental stages and some are claimed as being near-term deployable. There are currently four SMRs in advanced stages of construction in Argentina, China and Russia, and several existing and newcomer nuclear energy countries are conducting SMR research and development.

The IAEA defines SMRs as advanced reactors that produce electricity of up to 300 MW per module. They are designed to be built in factories and shipped to utilities for installation as demand arises.

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BWXT Inks Engineering Contract for BWRX-300 SMR

BWX Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: BWXT) announced an engineering contract awarded by GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) for its BWRX-300 small modular reactor (SMR) reactor pressure vessel (RPV).

The RPV, which contains the reactor core and associated internals, comprises the largest component within the BWRX-300. Work associated with the contract includes engineering analysis, design support, manufacturing and procurement preparations.

This announcement supports recent commitments for SMR development by utilities and project developers across North America and Europe.

“Intricate design projects like the RPV for GEH’s BWRX-300 are well-suited for BWXT’s engineering capabilities, as BWXT excels in supplying design solutions for complex nuclear components that BWXT can efficiently manufacture,” said John MacQuarrie, president of BWXT Commercial Operations.

“We are grateful to GEH for their confidence in our experience and are thrilled to be one of the first to execute an SMR design contract for a North American deployment.”

About the BWRX-300 Small Modular Reactor

The BWRX-300 is a 300 MWe water-cooled, natural circulation SMR with passive safety systems that leverages the design and licensing basis of GEH’s U.S. NRC-certified ESBWR. Through dramatic and innovative design simplification, GEH projects the BWRX-300 will require significantly less capital cost per MW when compared to other SMR designs.

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Fast Reactors / China And Russia Sign Fuel Agreement

(NucNet) China and Russia have announced a long-term deal to continue developing fast-neutron nuclear power reactors and closing the nuclear fuel cycle.

Russia’s state nuclear corporation Rosatom said the agreement was signed on March 21st on the sidelines of the state visit to Russia of China’s president Xi Jinping. The document was signed by Rosatom director-general Alexey Likhachev and Zhang Kejian, chairman of the China Atomic Energy Authority. (Time Mag profile 2019)

Russia and China are cooperating on several reactor projects, including construction of Russian VVER plants at Tianwan and Xudabao in China and the supply of fuel for China’s experimental fast neutron reactor, the CFR-600 in the southeastern province of Fujian. (Prior coverage of the CFR-600 on this blog)

Russia’s MBIR multipurpose fast neutron research reactor is under construction at the Research Institute of Atomic Reactors site at Dimitrovgrad in the Ulyanovsk region of western Russia and is scheduled for completion in 2028. The US, having killed off funding for a similar advanced test reactor, will be at a competitive disadvantage once the MBIR is operational. In short, the Russians are coming for lunch – ours.

In 2021, Russia’s president Vladimir Putin said Moscow was considering the possibility of China joining a consortium for construction of the CFR-600 plant.

In October, Russia’s state nuclear fuel company Tvel said it had begun deliveries of nuclear fuel for China’s CFR-600. In 2021, Tvel started up a production facility to fabricate fuel for the CFR-600. The facility is part of the Elemash Machine-Building Plant, a Tvel plant in Elektrostal, near Moscow.

Construction of unit 1 of what is also known as the Xiapu fast reactor demonstration project began in 2017. It is part of China’s plan to achieve a closed nuclear fuel cycle. China National Nuclear Corporation announced in December 2020 that construction work had begun on a second unit at the plant.

The aim has been for the first unit to be grid connected around 2023. The reactors will be 1500 MWt, 600 MWe, with 41% thermal efficiency, using mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel with 100 GWd/t burn-up, and with two sodium coolant loops producing steam at 480C. Later fuel will be uranium metal with burn-up 100-120 GWd/t. Breeding ratio is about 1.1, design operational lifetime 40 years. The design has active and passive shutdown systems and passive decay heat removal.

After the launch of the first CFR-600 power unit, Xiapu NPP in China’s Fujian province will become the first nuclear power plant with a high-capacity fast reactor outside of Russia. The other two functioning installations are the BN-600 and BN-800 sodium-cooled reactors at Beloyarsk NPP in the Urals region of Russia.

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Ultra Safe Nuclear Hires U-Battery Talent for its UK Reactor Team

bird_worm_webUltra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC) announced this week the addition of key UK personnel to its team supporting the Advanced Modular Reactor (AMR) Research, Development and Demonstration (RD&D) program funded by the UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

The move by USNC takes advantage of the recent release of personnel from the U-Battery Team and effectively doubles the size of its UK Team (USNC-UK, Ltd) underscoring the global importance of the AMR program and supporting and augmenting the UK expertise needed to realize the program’s benefits as intended by the UK Government.

This is a clear case of the early bird getting the worm. It is similar to the tactic executed by X-Energy to hire key personnel from South Africa’s PBMR advanced reactor R&D effort to build a commercially viable HTGR.

USNC-UK is building on USNC’s product, the Micro-Modular Reactor (MMR), to develop an advanced Micro-Modular Reactor design that will be best suited to the UK’s industrial process heat and power needs. The MMR-III will be a high power version of USNC’s flagship MMR, capable of producing 750C heat and specifically designed to be utilized in multi-unit “nuclear battery packs” at industrial sites.

“This is a great opportunity to move forward for the talented experts on the team in the face of an otherwise challenging situation,” said Prof. Tim Abram, former Head of Engineering and Design Authority for the U-Battery project, who joins the USNC-UK team together with other key former members of the U-Battery team.

“We are proud of the contributions made to HTGR technology in the UK by the U-Battery project, and the team are looking forward to carrying on their mission with Ultra Safe Nuclear, the world’s leading microreactor team.”

“The UK is a must-have market, the ideal launch pad for the global deployment of our industrial-grade high-temperature nuclear batteries”  said Francesco Venneri, CEO of Ultra Safe Nuclear.

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Urenco Exits U-Battery Micro-reactor Project

(WNN) Urenco has announced that it is withdrawing its support for the U-Battery advanced modular reactor (AMR) project “having exhausted its attempts to secure the commitment of new commercial investors.”

“The U-Battery team has completed its current program of work under the UK’s AMR RD&D program, and after dialogue and consultation with the UK Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, and with other stakeholders, Urenco’s intention is to preserve the public investment in U-Battery by transferring its intellectual property to the National Nuclear Laboratory, subject to necessary due diligence and governance approvals.”

In addition to Urenco, U-Battery’s supporting organizations included BWXT Technologies Inc, Cavendish Nuclear, Costain, Kinectrics, Jacobs, the UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory, Nuclear AMRC, Rolls-Royce and the University of Manchester.

In January, U-Battery was granted its first legal patent for the design of its high temperature gas-cooled reactor fuel element and core from the UK Intellectual Property Office. It means the fuel element and reactor core design are protected in law for five years and up to a maximum of 20 years. At that time, U-Battery said it was pursuing similar patents in the USA and Canada.

It is unclear how granting the publicly funded National Nuclear Laboratory with custody of U-Battery’s intellectual property will affect the ability of  U-Battery’s former employees to transfer their knowledge and expertise to Ultra Safe without some kind of non-exclusive licensing arrangement.

U-Battery Chief Technology Officer Chris Chater said, “While Urenco has refocused its priorities, we continue to believe in the U-Battery design which could provide an innovative decarbonization solution for hard-to-abate sectors.”

U-Battery is a 4 MWe high-temperature gas-cooled micro-reactor, using TRISO fuel, which will be able to produce local power and heat for a range of energy needs. The project was initiated by Urenco in 2008 and the concept design was developed by the Universities of Manchester and Dalton Institute in the UK and Technology University of Delft in the Netherlands.

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Japan Partners with US and UK  on Fusion Materials R&D (two reports)

(WNN) The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have entered a strategic research partnership to better understand the performance and behavior of materials required for use in future commercial fusion power plants.

Examination of irradiated composites, such as silicon carbide, can only be carried out in a suitable active testing facility and KF has looked to UKAEA’s Materials Research Facility (MRF) for support.

“One of the major challenges in harnessing fusion energy is developing materials to cope in extreme environments,” UKAEA said.

“This is because high energy neutrons and extreme temperatures can weaken or change the desirable mechanical, thermal, optical or electronic properties of materials, which can reduce the lifetime of fusion machines.”

Under the GBP3 million (USD3.6 million), five-year partnership, materials will be irradiated using neutrons at the ORNL High Flux Isotope Reactor, a DOE Office of Science user facility, located in the USA. These materials will then be tested at ORNL and at UKAEA’s Materials Research Facility at the Culham Campus in Oxfordshire, England.

Post irradiation testing will include tensile and hardness property measurements, to understand both the effect and extent of radiation-induced hardening and concurrent loss of ductility in these materials.

UKAEA said these assessments are critical to provide assurance that these alloys will be sufficiently durable and reliable to support a fusion power plant throughout the expected lifetime of each component.

The partnership will also see staff from the USA and UK visit their counterpart facilities to share industry skills.

The project is part of the UK Fusion Materials Roadmap, which was launched by UKAEA in 2021 with the aim of delivering new neutron-resilient materials as well as irradiation and post-irradiation testing to provide design engineers with data to build future fusion power plants.

“The partnership will allow UKAEA access to ORNL’s archive of existing irradiated materials, which include binary iron-chromium alloys, advanced steels, silicon carbide composites and copper alloys,” said Amanda Quadling, UKAEA’s Director of Materials Research.

“Alongside this, UKAEA will also be placing entirely new materials into the ORNL High Flux Isotope Reactor, including new high-temperature steels developed by both UKAEA and wider UK industry, permeation barrier coatings and welded materials.”

Kyoto Fusioneering

(WNN) A collaboration agreement has been signed between Japan’s Kyoto Fusioneering (KF) and the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) to develop fusion related technologies. The first project under the collaboration will be the development of a ‘fusion-grade’ silicon carbide composite system.

The use of SiC/SiC composites within the breeder blanket of a fusion machine will increase the efficiency and commercial viability of fusion power stations by providing a material that operates at high temperatures and is resistant to neutron damage, they noted.

The Self-Cooled Yuryo Lithium Lead Advanced (SCYLLA) blanket developed by KF is compatible with the lithium-lead based coolant and fuel breeding fluids.

“The several contracts we have with UKAEA have demonstrated the win-win relationship that can create new value for the society and fusion research and fusion industry,” said Kyoto Fusioneering CEO Taka Nagao. “Kyoto Fusioneering will continue to build on our successful technology collaboration to help achieve industrialization of fusion energy.

japan fusion

“The development of a ‘fusion-grade’ silicon carbide composite system is not only a huge advancement to the realization of commercial fusion, but also yet another advantage of the blanket system, which is so important in our collective battle against climate change.”

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Posted in Nuclear | Comments Off on TVA, OPG & Synthos Green Team Up for BWRX300 SMR

SMRs See Progress in US, Canada, & Europe

  • GEH’s BWRX-300 Completes First Two Phases Of Design Review
  • NRC to Start Technical Review of NuScale 77 MW Design
  • Czech Republic / CEZ, Wants First SMR In Operation In 2032
  • Sweden / Vattenfall Talking To Reactor Suppliers For SMR Deployment
  • UK Launches 2nd Competition To Support Small Nuclear Reactors
  • SMR Dashboard / NEA Tracking Progress Of 21 New Reactor Designs
  • Holtec, NRC, to Discuss Restarting Palisades Plant

GEH’s BWRX-300 Completes First Two Phases Of Design Review

(NucNet) GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) announced that its BWRX-300 small modular reactor has achieved a significant pre-licensing milestone in Canada with the completion of phases one and two of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s (CNSC) vendor design review process.

GEH said the BWRX-300 is the first SMR technology to have completed two phases of the CNSC’s vendor design review (VDR) process. It is part of a field of a dozen or so SMR developers involved in the VDR process.  A key feature of all designs in the competitive field is that every one of the contenders is promoting their designs as being capable of supplying both electricity and process heat for customers.

CNSC VDR Process Heat

Table Data from CNSC VDR and Vendor Websites:  Image: Neutron Bytes

In 2020, GEH made its first submittal to the CNSC for its review of the BWRX-300 design. Since then, GEH has made submittals addressing 19 vendor design review areas that included general plant description, control system and facilities, research and development, and design process.
After a detailed assessment of reactor designs, in 2021 Ontario Power Generation (OPG) selected the GEH BWRX-300 as the technology to be deployed at its Darlington nuclear power station site.

Sean Sexstone, the company’s executive vice-president of advanced nuclear, said: “The successful completion of these phases and the feedback that we have received on our SMR design are important steps in the deployment of this technology.”

Growing, Global Interest In BWRX-300

Recently, GEH, OPG, SNC-Lavalin and Aecon signed a project delivery agreement for the partners to provide expertise and services to develop, engineer and construct a BWRX-300 SMR, with construction to be complete by late 2028.

GEH said there is growing, global interest in the BWRX-300

Last month, Fermi Energia announced that it had selected the BWRX-300 for potential deployment in Estonia. Tennessee Valley Authority has begun planning and preliminary licensing for potential deployment of a BWRX-300 at the Clinch River Site near Oak Ridge, Tennessee. SaskPower has chosen the BWRX-300 for potential deployment in Saskatchewan in the mid-2030s.

In Poland, Orlen Synthos Green Energy and its partners have started the pre-licensing process by submitting an application to Poland’s National Atomic Energy Agency for assessment of the BWRX-300. Orlen plans to deploy a fleet of BWRX-300s with the potential for deployment of the first of those units by the end of this decade.

The CNSC and the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission are collaborating on reviews of SMRs such as the BWRX-300 and last month the CNSC and Poland’s National Atomic Energy Agency agreed to cooperate in the review of SMR technologies including the BWRX-300.

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NRC to Start Technical Review of NuScale 77 MW Design

nrc-logo_thumb.jpgThe U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that it will begin the technical review of NuScale Power Corporation’s (NYSE:SMR) second Standard Design Approval (SDA) application.

NuScale submitted the application in late 2022, which is based on the VOYGRTM-6 (6-module) power plant configuration powered by an uprated 250 MWt (77MWe) SMR design. The design reflected in this application features the same fundamental safety case and passive safety features approved by the NRC in 2020, with a focus on the power uprate and select design changes to support customers’ capacity needs and further improve economics.

In a press statement the NRC said its staff will begin reviewing most of NuScale Power LLC’s application for standard design approval of the company’s 77 MWe/module Small Modular Reactor design once the company provides additional details on a key safety topic. NRC staff has concluded the majority of NuScale’s application supports the start of review activities.

The staff has determined portions of the application, discussing steam generator safety performance under certain conditions, require additional information. Once NuScale provides that information, the staff will develop a full review schedule.

A standard design approval is a determination by the NRC staff that a reactor design meets applicable NRC design requirements. Companies can reference a standard design approval when applying for a license to build and operate a reactor in the United States.

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Czech Republic / CEZ, Wants First SMR In Operation In 2032

(NucNet) Czech state-run power group CEZ, already considering ambitious plans for new large-scale nuclear reactors, is planning to begin operation of its first small modular nuclear reactor in a decade followed by another two units by 2040. Two more small units could follow in second half of 2030s as Prague steps up bid to switch from fossil fuels. The first SMR will be built at Temelín, one of CEZ’s two existing commercial nuclear power station sites.

“The first one will be launched around 2032 and the other two in the second half of the 2030s,” CEZ spokesman Ladislav Kriz said.

CEZ plans to build the next two at its current coal-fired power plants in a bid to switch from fossil fuels to greener technologies.

The company has already signed agreements to explore various SMR technology options with reactor developers NuScale, GE Hitachi, Rolls-Royce and Holtec.

The company said it was looking at other locations for future SMRs, including its other nuclear station at Dukovany and several coal-fired plants.

Coal to Nuclear Sites Identified

Czech state power company CEZ has tentatively identified two preferred sites for additional small modular reactors following plans for a first such unit at the existing Temelín nuclear power station site. The two sites are coal-fired generation sites at Detmarovice in the east of the country close to the border with Poland, and Tusimice in the northwest, close to the border with Germany.

Deploying SMRs will transform both plants into emission-free sites, CEZ Group has committed itself to preparing the construction of small modular reactors with a total capacity of over 1,000 MW after 2040.

CEZ said it is exploring other locations where additional SMRs could be built, including the existing Dukovany nuclear station site. All the other potential sites are coal sites. One, at Porici in the west of the country, has already been ruled out “due to the almost certain presence of an active fault near the site.”

The Detmarovice and Tusimice power plant sites will undergo “further intensive exploration and monitoring works” before it is finally clear whether they are suitable locations for SMRs. The exploration work, which began in the first half of February and is scheduled to be completed in the autumn, is primarily focused on excluding the existence of active tectonic faults, assessing the hydrogeology of the area and analysing the bedrock.

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Sweden / Vattenfall Talking To Reactor Suppliers or SMRs

(NucNet) Vattenfall has contacted potential reactor technology suppliers as it seeks to begin commercial operation of a first small modular reactor at the Ringhals nuclear power station in Sweden in the early 2030s.

A preliminary feasibility study will investigate the commercial, legal and technical conditions for building at least two new SMRs at Ringhals.

“We already have a dialogue with several potential technology suppliers and will proceed later this year with one or more of them to get concrete proposals for reactors,” Desirée Comstedt, business development manager for nuclear power at Vattenfall, said.

“We are also starting the work required for an environmental impact statement, which includes field studies and soil surveys in the area around Ringhals. And we are preparing to invite to local consultations after the summer to discuss with the parties concerned.”

‘Obvious Need’ For Nuclear, Wind And Solar

The feasibility study is expected to be completed later this year and is a central part of Vattenfall’s decision-making process towards submitting a permit application for new nuclear power plants.

Earlier this year Sweden’s prime minister Ulf Kristersson said his government was preparing legislation to allow the construction of more commercial nuclear power plants to boost electricity production and improve energy security.

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UK Launches 2nd Competition To Support Small Nuclear Reactors

(WNN) rolls-royve-logo.pngBritish finance minister Jeremy Hunt said he would boost investment in nuclear power by launching a competition for small modular reactors (SMRs), such as those being developed by Rolls-Royce.

Britain aims to replace its ageing nuclear power stations as all but one of the plants, which generate around 13% of the country’s electricity, are due to close by 2030.

“I am launching the first competition for Small Modular Reactors,” Hunt said in his budget statement on Wednesday. It will be completed by the end of this year and if demonstrated to be viable we will co-fund this exciting new technology.”

Britain previously announced a competition for SMRs in the 2015 Autumn Statement with the first phase opening in 2016 and attracting interest from 33 eligible parties. The government broke its promise for funding a winner by closing the “competition” without moving beyond the initial, information gathering first stage.

Last year the government committed 210 million pounds to Rolls-Royce for its 500-million pound SMR program which could see the company open factories to build the reactors in Britain.

“Rolls-Royce SMR has called for rapid progress from the Government and we welcome the adoption of that principle in this process,” Tom Samson CEO of Rolls-Royce SMR said in a statement.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation has begun a Generic Design Assessment (GDA) of the Rolls-Royce SMR  saying that the process – which looks at the design of a generic nuclear power station and is not site-specific – could take between four and five years. Rolls-Royce said in press statements it hoped to complete the process in two years.

Rolls-Royce SMR, which in November 2021 received GBP210 million (USD285 million) of UK government matched funding, has selected a shortlist of three sites for its first factory producing components for a fleet of its SMRs and identified a range of existing nuclear power plant sites in the UK that could potentially host its SMRs.

UK Policy is that Nuclear Energy is “Sustainable

The UK’s Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has announced that nuclear will “subject to consultation, be classed as environmentally sustainable in our green taxonomy” – he also launched a competition, to be completed by the end of the year, which could lead to co-funding for small modular reactors (SMRs).

In his set-piece address to the House of Commons outlining the government’s tax and spending plans, Hunt said “increasing nuclear capacity is vital to meet our net-zero obligations so to encourage the private sector investment into our nuclear program, I today confirm that, subject to consultation, nuclear power will be classed as environmentally sustainable in our green taxonomy, giving it access to the same investment incentives as renewable energy”.

He added: “Today I can announce two further commitments to deliver our nuclear ambitions. Firstly … I am announcing the launch of Great British Nuclear which will bring down costs and provide opportunities across the nuclear supply chain to help provide up to one quarter of our electricity by 2050. And secondly, I am launching the first competition for small modular reactors. It will be completed by the end of this year and if demonstrated as viable we will co-fund this exciting new technology.”

CEO of the UK’s Nuclear Industry Association, Tom Greatrex, welcomed the chancellor’s announcements, saying: “This is a huge step forward for UK energy security and net-zero. Nuclear’s inclusion in the UK green taxonomy is a vital move, following the example set by other leading nuclear nations, and will drive crucial investment into new projects, making it cheaper and easier to finance new reactors.”

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SMR Dashboard / NEA Tracking Progress Of 21 New Reactor Designs

(NucNet) A new Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) publication tracks the progress of various small modular reactor designs towards deployment and finds there is substantial momentum towards “game changing” commercialization that could help governments and policymakers around the world reach net zero by 2050. (OCED / NEA SMR Dashboard)

According to the Paris-based NEA new SMR designs are at various stages of development, from fundamental research on new concepts to commercial deployment and operation of mature designs.

nea dashboard template

It said innovation in nuclear energy – particularly various SMRs and Generation IV systems – is advancing in several countries and SMRs could reshape the energy market while supporting global efforts to decarbonize electricity.

SMRs can replace fossil fuels for on-grid power generation, replace diesel generators for off-grid mining and industrial operations, replace fossil fuels for cogeneration of heat and power for heavy industries and district heating, and enable large-scale water treatment and desalination to produce clean potable water.

“These varied market needs have prompted the development of a range of SMR technologies, which vary in technology, sizes, and configuration,” the NEA said. “They can be land-based or floating on water, fixed installations or transportable.

Policymakers Are ‘Overwhelmed’

“Policymakers are often overwhelmed with this great variety as they strive to consider which designs might meet their particular needs and in what time frame.”

The NEA SMR Dashboard is designed to help navigate this complex area of technology. It looks beyond the technical feasibility and technology readiness level of each SMR design to track the progress of specific designs across six parameters: licensing readiness, siting, financing, supply chain, societal engagement and fuel availability.

This publication tracks the progress of 21 SMR designs towards first deployment. It includes reactors under development in Argentina, China, France, Russia, the UK and the US.

reactor concepts

Future editions will continue to track the progress of these designs and include additional SMR technologies as verifiable information becomes available and is assessed.

NEA director-general William Magwood said the nuclear sector is experiencing a level of interest and attention not seen since the early 1960s.

“This interest is largely sparked by the wave of innovation in small modular reactors that has the potential to reshape the way society and industry produces and uses energy.

“The next five to 10 years is going to be pivotal in terms of getting these new technologies to market.”

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Holtec, NRC, to Discuss Restarting Palisades Plant

The Holland Sentinel newspaper reports the owners of Palisades Nuclear Power Plant are set to meet with federal officials to discuss plans to potentially restart the shuttered plant.

Holtec Decommissioning International, which purchased Palisades in June 2022, will meet March 20th with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to discuss the “proposed regulatory path to reauthorize operations at Palisades.”

“This meeting is an important discussion in Holtec’s efforts to re-power Palisades and potentially return 800 megawatts of safe and reliable carbon-free electricity back to Michigan,” Holtec said in a statement to the newspaper.

Earlier this month, Holtec applied for funds from the U.S. Department of Energy to aid in the reopening, its second attempt at funding after applying for, and being denied, funds through the Civil Nuclear Credit Program in late 2022.

The plant closed in May after more than 50 years in operation. Only months later, new owner Holtec applied for funding to reopen. That application was made public in September, with support from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, but was denied by DOE in mid-November which awarded funds to keep the Diablo Canyon twin reactors open in California.

The newspaper reported that Holtec has acknowledged there will be “a number of hurdles” to reopening the plant, even if funding is secured. Those include financial commitment from the state, procuring a power purchasing agreement, upgrading the switchyard, partnering with a licensed operator for the restart, rehiring qualified and trained staff and maintenance and delayed capital improvements of the facility.

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Posted in Nuclear | Comments Off on SMRs See Progress in US, Canada, & Europe

Energy Harbor Sells Four Reactors to Texas Holding Company

  • Energy Harbor Sells Four Reactors to Texas Holding Company
  • France / 10 European Countries Join Macron’s Push To Promote Nuclear Power
  • France’s CEA Spins Off Two Companies For SMR Development
  • NuScale Power Places First Long Lead Production Order with South Korea’s Doosan
  • X-energy to Open First Plant Support Center for Xe-100 SMR
  • Poland / Private Project To Build South Korean Reactors At Patnow Coal Site
  • Uganda Inks Deal with China for New 1000 MW PWR by 2031

Energy Harbor Sells Four Reactors to Texas Holding Company

eggs one basketVistra Corp (NYSE:VST) announced this week it is to acquire Energy Harbor Corp, formerly FirstEnergy, which it intends to merge into a new zero-carbon generation and retail subsidiary called Vistra Vision.

The giant corporate acquisition is one of the largest nuclear energy deals of its kind in recent years putting a lot of energy eggs in one basket.

FirstEnergy, rebranded and reorganized as as Energy Harbor  (ENGH:OTC) operates the Beaver Valley nuclear power plant (2 reactors) in Pennsylvania and the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear plants, both in Ohio. Vistra subsidiary Luminant operates the twin reactors at the Comanche Peak nuclear power plant in Texas. The companies anticipate closing the transaction in the second half of 2023, subject to regulatory approvals, which will include transfer of the current NRC licenses to the new owners.

Vistra Vision will combine Energy Harbor’s nuclear and retail businesses with Vistra’s nuclear and retail businesses and Vistra Zero renewables and storage projects. Energy Harbor’s legacy conventional generation fleet is not included in the sale. Energy Harbor has previously signed definitive agreements to sell these assets to third parties.

Vistra said the nuclear plants, and other Energy Harbor assets, will become part of Vistra Vision, a business unit that will have 7,800 MW of zero-carbon generation capacity, about five million customers across the country, and access to renewable energy projects for additional capacity.

Vistra Deal by the Numbers

The deal’s total compensation will consist of $3 billion cash and a 15% equity interest in Vistra Vision, with most Energy Harbor shareholders receiving cash at closing. Energy Harbor’s two largest shareholders, Avenue Capital Group and Nuveen, are to receive a combination of cash and the 15% ownership interest in Vistra.

Vistra Vision also will add $3.4 billion in debt, according to a company statement. Vistra will also assume about $430 million of net debt from Energy Harbor in the transaction. The firm comes to the deal carrying a market capitalization of $9.35 billion.

Vistra stated it intends to finance the majority of the $3 billion of cash consideration through debt financing, with all or a portion of the debt expected to be invested in Vistra Vision via an inter-company loan.

six pack of beerIt’s a great deal for Vistra. Four new nuclear reactors could cost $8-10 billion each for a total of $32-$40 billion. By comparison, Vistra is paying $3 billion in cash (new debt), offering current investors a 15% equity stake equal to $1.4 billion, and assuming $0.43 billion in debt from Energy Harbor, for a total of $4.83 billion or roughly 12% of the cost of four new reactors.

The company’s strategy to own and operate new capacity is no different than a giant brewery snapping up smaller ones to gain market share without having to build new plants from scratch.

Morningstar describes VISTRA Energy, based in the Dallas, TX, metro area, is one of the largest power producers and retail energy providers in the U.S. Excluding the Energy Harbor acquisition, Vistra owns and operates 38 gigawatts of nuclear, coal, natural gas, and solar power generation. Its retail electricity segment serves 4.3 million customers in 20 states. Vistra’s retail business serves almost one third of all Texas electricity consumers.

FirstEnergy’s Scandal Ridden History

The planned transaction will bring to a close Energy Harbor’s (formerly FirstEnergy) presence in Ohio as a corrupt corporation. It has admitted to the US Department of Justice it paid bribes to multiple elected officials and the chairman of the Ohio Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in return for passage of legislation that provided subsidies for its nuclear power plants and for favorable rate rulings by the PUC.

householder briberyFormer state House Speaker Larry Householder and former Ohio Republican Party Chair Matt Borges were convicted in Federal District Court on March 9th in a $60 million bribery scheme that federal prosecutors have called the largest corruption case in state history. Both men face up to 20 years in prison. The verdict was announced following a trial that began on Jan. 23 before Senior U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Black.

During the seven week trial jurors were presented with firsthand accounts of the alleged scheme, as well as stacks of financial documents, emails, texts and wire-tap audio recordings.

A jury in Cincinnati found the two guilty of conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise involving bribery and money laundering after nine hours of deliberations over two days. Two defendants previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the bribery scheme along with a former dark money group, while a third died by suicide.

U.S. Attorney Kenneth Parker said the government’s prosecution team showed that “Householder sold the Statehouse, and thus he ultimately betrayed the people of the great state of Ohio he was elected to serve.” He called Borges “a willing co-conspirator.”

The Ohio news media has called it the most elaborate and extensive bribery scandal in the history of Ohio politics, with $60 million in bribes paid by FirstEnergy, one of the nation’s largest investor-owned electric systems, to influence legislation in Ohio to get their customers to bail out two failing nuclear power plants.

dark moneyThe conspiracy involved nearly $61 million in bribes paid to a 501(c)(4) “dark money” entity to pass and uphold a billion-dollar nuclear plant bailout.

According to court documents and trial testimony, from March 2017 to March 2020, the enterprise traded millions of dollars in bribery campaign donations in exchange for Householder’s and the enterprise’s help in passing House Bill 6. The defendants then also worked to ensure that Ohio legislative bill HB 6 went into effect by defeating a ballot initiative to overturn the legislation.

In March 2017, Householder began receiving quarterly $250,000 payments from the related-energy companies into the bank account of his 501(c)(4) political action committee called Generation Now. Householder and his team spent millions of the company’s dollars to support Householder’s political bid to become Speaker, to support House candidates they believed would stand by their pledges to back Householder, and for their own personal benefit.

DOJ detailed that Householder spent more than half a million dollars of the dark money to pay off his credit card balances, repair his Florida home, and settle a business lawsuit. Borges used approximately $366,000 for his personal benefit.

The other parties involved include former Ohio Speaker of the House Larry Householder, Householder’s political staffer Jeffrey Longstreth, former FirstEnergy CEO Chuck Jones, former FirstEnergy senior vice president for external affairs Michael Dowling, former chair of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Sam Randazzo, Cleveland business owner Tony George, lobbyist and former chair of the Ohio republican party Matt Borges, Ohio lobbyist Juan Cespedes, and deceased Ohio lobbyist Neil Clark.

FirstEnergy later admitted to its role in the corruption and fired six top executives including CEO Chuck Jones. The State of Ohio eliminated surcharges for taxpayers in a partial repeal of the legislation. However, other parts of HR6 remained on the books including a subsidy for an unrelated coal fired power plant and the gutting of support for renewable energy projects.

PUC Chairman also Bribed

Separately, the US Justice Department investigated whether a $4M payment to the now former head of the State Public Utility Commission was intended to influence his decision making relative to the utility’s filings with the PUC. In July 2021 FirstEnergy said it bribed a regulator for $4.3 million.

FirstEnergy admitted in court documents it paid the state’s top utility regulator $4.3 million to use his position to save the company hundreds of millions via favorable administrative rulings. It previously had paid him a reported $22M in consulting fees in prior years.

The company’s allegation against Sam Randazzo, the now former chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, came in a deferred prosecution agreement in July 2021with the U.S. Attorney’s office. FirstEnergy agreed to pay a $230 million criminal penalty and admit to a lengthy statement of facts about its conduct. So far Randazzo has not been charged with a crime. He has resigned from the PUC.

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France / 10 European Countries Join Macron’s Push To Promote Nuclear Power

(NucNet) France is making an aggressive push to promote nuclear power in the European Union, persuading 10 countries to join an alliance calling on Brussels to do more to back the construction of reactors, a move they argued would help meet climate goals while protecting the bloc’s energy independence.

The move comes amid a dispute between France and like-minded countries who want more EU policies to promote nuclear as a low-carbon energy source, and those like Germany and Spain who say nuclear should not be put on a level footing with renewable energy.

A meeting, convened by French energy minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher on the sidelines of a meeting of EU countries’ energy ministers in Stockholm, discussed the contribution of nuclear energy to climate change goals and energy security, a French official said.

The French government said that at the meeting 10 member states – Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Finland, the Netherlands, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia – had joined France in reaffirming their desire to strengthen European cooperation in nuclear energy.

Pannier-Runacher said she had a “productive discussion” with her German in Stockholm, but the pair did not resolve their differences. “We do not want nuclear to be discriminated against,” she said.

Call For Nuclear-Based Clean Hydrogen

France, which has historically derived about 70% of its power from nuclear reactors, and the other 10 countries, want more EU recognition of nuclear energy. They are, for example, pushing for nuclear-based hydrogen to count towards EU renewable energy targets.

nuclear energy production of hydrogen

Nuclear Energy Production of Hydrogen: Image: US DOE

On the other side are countries such as Germany, which is phasing out its reactors, and Spain. They say they acknowledge nuclear’s low-carbon contribution, but that it should not be put on a level footing with renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

Earlier this month the European Commission published rules that could allow some hydrogen produced by nuclear-based energy systems to count towards EU renewable energy goals.

France’s president Emmanuel Macron focused on nuclear energy in late 2021 with a €50 billion plan to renew some of France’s ageing nuclear reactors from 2035, and, significantly, to build six new 1600 MW EPRs.

Pannier-Runacher told Les Echos newspaper this week she had asked industrial groups whether building more than 14 reactors by 2050 was feasible.

In a sign of Macron’s commitment to the issue, he used a video address this week to urge the European Investment Bank to break wih its past lending practices to finance all “low carbon technologies at our disposal, including nuclear”.

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France’s CEA Spins Off Two Companies For SMR Development

(WNN) The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) has spun off two nuclear start-ups – Hexana and Stellaria – for the development of small modular reactors (SMRs).

sodium cooled fast reactorHexana aims to develop an SMR featuring a sodium-cooled fast neutron reactor, integrated with a high temperature storage device. A plant would comprise two of these reactors (400 MWt each) supplying a heat storage device. An adjoining conversion system will allow it to produce electricity on demand and in a flexible manner to compete with gas-fired power plants, but also to supply heat directly to nearby energy-intensive industries. (Image: GEN IV)

CEA said fast neutron and sodium-cooled reactors are of “major interest in the management of nuclear materials: they operate without natural or enriched uranium but with depleted uranium combined with plutonium from reprocessed fuel from the French nuclear fleet in the form of mixed oxide fuel (MOX).

It added: “These reactors will thus contribute to energy sovereignty and to the reduction of the volumes of high-level nuclear waste in a logic of closing the nuclear fuel cycle.”

Stellaria aims to develop an energy system based on a chloride molten salt reactor (MSR). The reactor proposed by Stellaria will be very compact – measuring 4 cubic metres – and, like Hexana, will be able to use a diversified range of nuclear fuels (uranium, plutonium, MOX, minor actinides, even thorium), “thus fitting perfectly into the French strategy of closing the cycle.” The reactor will produce 250 MWt.

The CEA intends to find partners beyond the nuclear sector for these two start-ups, which will be able to apply for the France 2030 call for “innovative nuclear reactors” projects: a program endowed with EUR500 million (USD534 million) which will part of the government’s desire to close the nuclear fuel cycle.

In addition, Macron said EUR1.0 billion will be made available through the France 2030 re-industrialization plan for France’s Nuward small modular reactor project and “innovative reactors to close the fuel cycle and produce less waste”. He said he had set “an ambitious goal” to construct a first prototype in France by 2030.

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NuScale Power Places First Long Lead Material Production Order with South Korea’s Doosan


NuScale Power Corporation (NYSE: SMR), announced that at the end of 2022, as scheduled, it placed the first upper reactor pressure vessel (RPV) long lead material (LLM) production order with Doosan Enerbility (Doosan), a  manufacturing and engineering company based in South Korea.

The order includes key materials necessary for NuScale’s clean-energy technology, the NuScale Power Module, and is a significant step toward commercialization. (Image: NuScale)

The order is for materials essential to commence manufacturing of the first NuScale Power Modules that are scheduled to be in commercial operation at the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems’ Carbon Free Power Project as early as 2029. In addition, NuScale and Doosan are aligned to manufacture additional modules for future NuScale VOYGR SMR power plant projects with similar delivery dates.

In preparation for the long lead order, NuScale and Doosan initiated an effort in April 2022 to complete the manufacturing for the forging dies for the upper RPV. Building on this completion, the new LLM order includes heavy forgings, steam generator tubes, and weld material for six upper RPVs. The total estimated weight of the materials for six upper RPVs is more than 2,000 tons.

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X-energy to Open First Plant Support Center for Xe-100 Advanced Small Modular Reactor Fleet

X-Energy Reactor Company, LLC announced plans for its first Xe-100 reactor fleet management, monitoring, and training facility in Frederick, Maryland. Called the Plant Support Center-East (PSCE), this regional center marks the first step in X-energy’s Commercial Operations Services business and will support the initial deployment of the Company’s advanced modular reactor plants.

X-energy recently announced plans to install its first Xe-100 reactor at one of Dow’s U.S. Gulf Coast sites. X-energy’s PSCE will support training and operations for that plant, as well as subsequent owners and operators of the first Xe-100 plants. The Company will open additional regional centers to support a growing reactor fleet, which will become hubs for X-energy’s operations, maintenance, and training services business.

Xe_MCR_CornerRenderA 3D rendering of a high-fidelity main control room simulator which integrates real-time plant instrumentation and control systems with X-energy’s custom 3-D virtual reality environment.
Image: X-Energy

The PSCE’s centerpiece is a high-fidelity main control room simulator that integrates real-time plant instrumentation and control systems with X-energy’s custom 3-D virtual reality environment. This innovative technology builds on more than two years of work in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to develop an innovative “digital-twin” maintenance lab and a U.S.-based, continuous fleet monitoring and diagnostics initiative.

X-energy is combining this technology with artificial intelligence and machine learning into a suite of proprietary tools called Xe-100 Data Analytics Tools & Applications, or X-DATA, to improve reliability as well as reduce predictive and preventative maintenance costs for X-energy’s customers.

A 3D rendering of a high-fidelity main control room simulator which integrates real-time plant instrumentation and control systems with X-energy’s custom 3-D virtual reality environment

As the Xe-100 fleet grows, regional centers will be expanded to provide support services to Xe-100 owners and operators, offering business services in areas such as plant diagnostics, maintenance planning, outage scheduling, supply chains, human resources, and regulatory compliance.

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Poland / Private Project To Build South Korean Reactors At Patnow Coal Site

(NucNet) Polish private energy company ZE PAK and state-controlled Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE) have signed an agreement to establish a joint company to manage the proposed deployment of an APR-1400 power station in Poland.

A joint statement by the companies said that the new entity will carry out a feasibility study, site survey, and environmental impact assessment in preparation for construction of at least two, and as many as four, South Korean APR-1400 pressurized water reactor units. They said the first unit of the proposed power station could be online as early as 2035.

APR1400 schematicIn October 2022, ZE PAK and PGE signed a letter of intent with Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) for eventual deployment of the company’s APR-1400 PWR technology at the Patnow coal-fired generation site, owned by ZE PAK.

The project is to be developed as a private initiative and would not be run by the government under its central 2020 nuclear energy program, although PGE is majority-owned by the Polish state.

PGE and ZE PAK said they will each have a 50% share in the new company. The move will be subject to regulatory approval before taking effect later this year.

The companies said two APR-1400 PWRs at Patnow could provide Polish homes and businesses with about 22 TWh of electricity or about 12% of today’s power consumption in Poland. Patnow is close to a key national power hub and this is expected to minimize losses related to energy transmission and enable the optimal use of the power grid, PGE and ZE PAK said.

In November 2022 Poland chose Westinghouse to supply and build its first nuclear power plants, but France’s EDF and KHNP are still potentially in the running for a second phase of new-build being. Both companies had offered bids to build Poland’s first reactors. The government’s program expect to see Poland’s first nuclear station built by US-based Westinghouse Electric in the Pomerania region of northern Poland.

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Uganda Inks Deal with China for New 1000 MW PWR by 2031

(Reuters) – Uganda said on Thursday it expects to start generating at least 1000 megawatts (MW) from nuclear power by 2031 as it moves to diversify its sources of electricity and accelerate its energy transition, a key part of its climate change response.

Uganda has uranium deposits and President Yoweri Museveni has said his government was keen to exploit them for potential nuclear energy development.

The east African country has signed a deal with China under which the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) would help Uganda build capacity in the use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes.

Energy and Minerals Minister Ruth Nankabirwa Ssentamu told the Reuters wire service the first nuclear project, Buyende Nuclear Power Plant, would be located at Buyende, about 150 km (93 miles) north of the capital Kampala. The best site will likely be on the shore of nearby Lake Yyoga.

“Preparation to evaluate the Buyende Nuclear Power Plant site is ongoing to pave the way for the first nuclear power project expected to generate 2,000 MW, with the first 1000 MW to be connected to the national grid by 2031,” she said.

The cost of the first unit, which will likely be a 1000 MW PWR type Hualong One, is said to be $10 billion based on a 2022 estimate.

Uganda has an installed generating capacity of about 1,500 MW but officials say they expect the country’s energy needs to jump in coming years as earnings from oil exports fuel an economic boom.

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Posted in Nuclear | Comments Off on Energy Harbor Sells Four Reactors to Texas Holding Company

Saudi Nuclear News Update for 03/10/23

saudi nuclearAs you are probably aware this week the WSJ and NYT published reports that Saudi Arabia, in a reported surprise move, has approached the US for so-called “security guarantees” and for assistance with its civilian nuclear energy program.

The Saudi government also asked for help in normalizing relations with Israel. This morning (03/10/23) the Washington Post reports that Saudi Arabia is planning to restore diplomatic relations with Iran based on negotiations reported to have been brokered by China.

These actions can be seen as part of a larger effort across multiple vectors to blunt Iran’s nuclear drive as evidenced by IAEA reports that Iran has enriched U235 to 84% which is HEU in weapons’ grade range.

For this reason, normalization of relations with Israel, and a request to the US for help with the Saudi nuclear energy program, can be seen as being part of the same playbook.

Starting with a premise that the IAEA report about Iran’s highly enriched uranium is the driver of these actions, nevertheless there are other factors at work.

Despite two high profile trips last year to visit potential vendors for its two reactors, Saudi Arabia has not made a decision on a selection. MBS came back from China and South Korea without making any indication to proceed with a contract for either party.

Saudi Arabia released a tender for two 1000-1400MW PWR type nuclear reactors last June. This offer was downsized from a plan first announced in 2014 to build 16 full size reactors. Volatility in the price of oil, some of which was created by the Saudi government, served to make the larger vision unattainable in the current era.

Behind it may be a domestic reason which is that the Saudi government does not yet have ability to successfully manage a civilian nuclear reactor construction program. It raises a question of whether the request to the US can even be taken seriously other than being part of a larger package of actions aimed at influencing Iran’s next moves.

It is reasonable to ask the question if the Saudi nuclear reactor program is a case of being “all hat and no cattle,” for the time being, absent the management capabilities that would be needed to handle all aspects, including regulation and safety, of contracting for two 1400 MW PWRs much less 16 of them which was the original plan released in 2014.

While any of the four apparent bidders on the tender could do the job – China, France, Russia, and South Korea – it is unclear whether at this stage Saudi Arabia has made the necessary investment in its own capabilities to identify, manage, and contain the risks inherent in a $14 billion, or more, construction program for nuclear power plants that would be expected to have service lives of 60-80 years.

The request to the US from Saudi Arabia for technical help with its reactor effort is a political nonstarter due to the lack of a 123 Agreement. This is due to a risk of Saudi plans to pursue dual use of nuclear technologies. Saudi officials have repeatedly insisted on their right to exploit their domestic uranium resources and to enrich uranium as a deterrent to Iran’s nuclear program. By comparison, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) did sign a 123 Agreement with the US to advanced its program to build four 1400 MW PWRs with South Korea’s expertise and US technology embedded in the design.

You can expect to see more news on these topics in the coming days so it probably helps to tag recent events as a “developing story.”

Separately, the intellectual property dispute between Westinghouse and South Korea over reactor technology will likely be resolved in an out of court settlement prior to an April 26th visit to  the US by South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol.  The agreement will likely either result in a buyout of the Westinghouse IP or some hybrid arrangement. Either way it would remove a barrier to South Korea bidding on the Saudi nuclear deal.

South Korea has successfully delivered four very large commercial nuclear reactors to the UAE which strongly positions South Korea firms to repeat their success in other countries. From the US perspective, a South Korean win in Saudi Arabia, would block Russian and Chinese influence in a key oil producing state. Whether the Saudi government is ready to make any contract award seems unlikely given its request this week for US help.

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