Many nuclear plants have operating licenses that extend beyond their original term of 40 years to 60 years, and many are expected to operate to 80 years or even beyond. The Electric Power Research Institute helped formulate the technical basis for up to 80 years of nuclear power plant operation. Based on this experience, EPRI has developed a systematic approach to maintaining the technical basis for long-term operation.
tly no known technical barriers to the safe operation of nuclear plants for up to 80 years, or even longer. The focus is often on potential economic barriers. As plants’ operating licenses are extended, technologies that have been proven in other industries will likely need to be incorporated within a modernization framework to increase power and reduce operating costs.
EPRI’s Nuclear Plant Modernization Toolbox (nuclearplantmod.epri.com) is a resource for nuclear plant operators considering modernization, providing guidance on a wide range of improvements, from online monitoring of components to using artificial intelligence technology to enhance work management processes to using drones to conduct inspections.
Currently, there are 67 Modernization Technology Assessments in the EPRI Toolbox representing what could be implemented to modernize plants. As for what should be done to modernize, the Toolbox includes 19 business case examples to provide utilities insight on key financial metrics associated with implementing modernization technologies. For example, EPRI collaborated with Idaho National Laboratory to conduct an analysis of digital safety system upgrades and found that the cost savings associated with this upgrade could amount to millions of dollars over a plant’s remaining operating life, with life extension both enabling and improving on the business case.
Utilities can perform their own business case analyses associated with implementing modernization technologies using the EPRI Business Case Analysis Model. In addition, EPRI has products that guide utilities on how to establish a framework for systematic implementation of modernization technologies for their specific circumstances.