PSEG pursues ZEC extensions for Hope Creek, Salem

New Jersey–based Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) has filed applications to extend zero-emission certificates (ZEC) for its Hope Creek and Salem nuclear power plants, co-located in Hancocks Bridge, N.J. Hope Creek is home to one 1,237-MWe boiling water reactor, while Salem houses two pressurized water reactors, with Unit 1 rated at 1,169-MWe and Unit 2 at 1,181-MWe.

According to an October 1 announcement from PSEG, Hope Creek and Salem deliver more than 90 percent of all of New Jersey’s carbon-free energy and are essential to the state’s ability to achieve its goal of a 100 percent carbon-free energy supply by 2050, as outlined in the state’s Energy Master Plan.

More: An addendum to PSEG’s announcement, with information and documentation in support of the ZEC applications, can be found here.

A closer look at SPARC’s burning plasma ambitions

Cutaway of the SPARC engineering design. Image: CFS/MIT-PSFC, CAD rendering by T. Henderson

Seven open-access, peer-reviewed papers on the design of SPARC, Commonwealth Fusion Systems’ (CFS) fusion tokamak, written in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center, were published on September 29 in a special edition of the Journal of Plasma Physics.

The papers describe a compact fusion device that will achieve net energy where the plasma generates more fusion power than used to start and sustain the process, which is the requirement for a fusion power plant, according to CFS.

The timeline for this planned device sets it apart from other magnetic confinement fusion tokamaks: Construction is to begin in 2021, with the device coming on line in 2025.

CFS expects the device to achieve a burning plasma—a self-sustaining fusion reaction—and become the world’s first net energy (Q>1) fusion system. The newly released papers reflect more than two years of work by CFS and the Plasma Science and Fusion Center to refine their design. According to CFS, the papers apply the same physics rules and simulations used to design ITER, now under construction in France, and predict, based on results from existing experiments, that SPARC will achieve its goal of Q>2. In fact, the papers describe how, under certain parameters, SPARC could achieve a Q ratio of 10 or more.

Reactor pressure vessel for Akkuyu-1 shipped, steam generators delivered

The reactor pressure vessel for Akkuyu-1. Photo: Rosatom

Rosatom, Russia’s state atomic energy corporation, announced last week that the reactor pressure vessel for Unit 1 of Turkey’s Akkuyu plant has been shipped from the Atommash plant in Volgodonsk, Russia. Also, the four steam generators for the reactor have arrived at the Vostochny Cargo Terminal, near the port of Mersin in southern Turkey. Atommash has shipped all the most important large-sized equipment for the primary circuit of the reactor for Akkuyu-1, Rosatom said.

Atommash is a branch of AEM Technologies, which is part of Atomenergomash, the equipment-building division of Rosatom.

Report weighs prospects for aging High Flux Isotope Reactor

Routine refueling of the HFIR in July 2015. Photo: Genevieve Martin/ORNL

This summer, the Department of Energy’s Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (BESAC) completed a report, The Scientific Justification for a U.S. Domestic High-Performance Reactor-Based Research Facility, that recommends the DOE begin preparing to replace the pressure vessel of the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and to convert the facility to use low-enriched uranium fuel. It also recommends that work begin that could lead to a new research reactor. An article published on the American Institute of Physics website summarizes the report, which was requested by the DOE in 2019.

Foratom sounds alarm over nuclear skills shortage in Europe

The European Union’s education and training policy must do more to ensure that the nuclear sector has a sufficient number of people with the right skills, according Nuclear: Investing in a Competent Workforce for the Benefit of Society, a new position paper from Foratom. The Brussels-based Foratom is the trade association for the nuclear energy industry in Europe.

Stressing the vital roles that nuclear plays in low-carbon power generation and medical diagnosis and treatment, Foratom warns of a growing skills shortage, stemming in part from the significant portion of the nuclear workforce approaching retirement age.

In addition, the report states that “adapting to digitalization and automatization (which are important skill shifts for the decommissioning sector, as well as for new build) will be a challenge faced by the industry. This will require the reskilling and upskilling of workers, as well as ensuring an adequate transfer of knowledge between generations through apprenticeship schemes, for instance.”

Entergy takes net-zero pledge, teams with Mitsubishi to decarbonize with hydrogen

Paul Browning, Mitsubishi Power, and Paul Hinnenkamp, Entergy, sign the joint agreement on September 23. Photo: Entergy

New Orleans–based Entergy Corporation last week announced a commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, joining a growing list of major energy companies to make that promise—including Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Southern Company, Xcel Energy, and Public Service Enterprise Group. And, like those companies, Entergy says that it sees nuclear playing an important role in the realization of that goal.

Ameren signs up for net zero, plans to extend Callaway operation

Ameren Corporation has announced the establishment of a goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 across all of its operations in Missouri and Illinois, according to a recent news release from the company.

This goal is included in subsidiary Ameren Missouri’s latest integrated resource plan (IRP), filed on September 28 with the Missouri Public Service Commission. (In Ameren Missouri’s 2017 IRP, carbon emissions were to be reduced 80 percent from 2005 levels by 2050.)

Legislation to reduce Russian uranium imports introduced in Senate

Sens. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.) and Martin Heinrich (D., N.M.) on September 24 introduced S. 4694, the Russian Suspension Agreement Extension Act of 2020, designed to extend and expand limits on Russian uranium imports. The legislation—cosponsored by Sens. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.), Kevin Cramer (R., N.D.), Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska), and Jim Risch (R., Idaho)—has been referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Newest Russian icebreaker ready to hit the ice

The Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker Arktika. Photo: Rosatom

The Arktika, Russia’s latest nuclear-powered icebreaker, sailed from the Baltic Shipyard in St. Petersburg last week, bound for the Murmansk seaport. The voyage is scheduled to take approximately two weeks, during which time the vessel will be tested “in ice conditions,” according to Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned atomic energy corporation.

Brouillette: Nuclear should be part of California’s energy problem solution

Brouillette

In an op-ed published on September 25 in the Orange County Register, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette decryed the state of California’s handling of its energy crisis.

Brouillette criticized state leaders for championing a 100 percent renewable energy plan that ignores nuclear and natural gas. He also found fault with the plan to prematurely close the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

Nuclear power: Are we too anxious about the risks of radiation?

Rowlatt

Following U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recent restatement of the United Kingdom’s commitment to nuclear power, BBC News chief environment correspondent, Justin Rowlatt, wrote an article aimed at separating fact from fiction regarding the safety and benefits of nuclear energy.

Among his points, Rowlatt defended the use of nuclear power to combat climate change, examined the data behind deaths from radiation exposure directly caused by the Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents, and explained that exposure to low levels of radiation is not a major health risk.

JPP lays out SPARC fusion physics basis

Cutaway of the SPARC engineering design. Image: CFS/MIT-PSFC, CAD Rendering by T. Henderson

A special issue of the Journal of Plasma Physics gives a glimpse into the physics basis for SPARC, the DT-burning tokamak being designed by a team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Commonwealth Fusion Systems. The special issue was announced in a September 29 post on the Cambridge University Press blog Cambridge Core.

The special JPP issue includes seven peer-reviewed articles on the SPARC concept, which takes advantage of recent breakthroughs in high-temperature superconductor technology to burn plasma in a compact tokamak design.

The Netherlands mulls more nuclear energy

The government of the Netherlands has released a report, Possible Role of Nuclear in the Dutch Energy Mix in the Future, that answers in the affirmative the question of whether nuclear energy can play an important role in the country’s future energy mix.

The report, released this month by Enco, an Austrian energy research group, was commissioned by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.

The Netherlands currently has one nuclear power facility supplying the grid—the Borssele plant, which houses a 482-MWe two-loop pressurized water reactor that entered commercial operation in 1973.

Advanced nuclear to be a focus of reopened Arctic Energy Office

The Department of Energy has announced the reestablishment of the Arctic Energy Office (AEO), to be located on the campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The AEO was originally established in 2001 but failed to receive sufficient funding. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette had pledged to reopen the office by the close of the current federal fiscal year.

The focus of the AEO, according to the DOE, will include international cooperation on Arctic issues, research on methane hydrates, and the development of advanced microgrids and nuclear power systems, such as small modular reactors.

Progress being made toward Mo-99 production at Darlington

Darlington nuclear generating station. Photo: OPG

Ontario Power Generation, its subsidiary Laurentis Energy Partners, and BWXT ITG Canada and its affiliates announced on September 24 that the companies are making “significant progress” toward the production of molybdenum-99 at OPG’s Darlington nuclear power plant. Darlington will become the first commercial operating nuclear reactor to produce the medical radioisotope.

A precursor to technetium-99m, Mo-99 is used in more than 40 million procedures a year to detect cancers and diagnose various medical conditions.

A look back at 1984 U.K. spent fuel flask test

The government of the United Kingdom conducted a series of tests in the 1980s to assess the robustness of spent nuclear fuel packages. One such test involved ramming a 140-ton diesel locomotive into a transportation canister, called a nuclear flask, at 100 miles per hour. The test, according to a recent article published by the online magazine The Drive, was a “smashing” success. Just 0.29 psi of pressure escaped the 50-ton test flask, which had been pressurized to 100 psi.

Foundation slabs for Akkuyu-2 reactor, turbine buildings completed

Concrete pouring for the foundation slabs for the Akkuyu-2 reactor and turbine buildings has been completed, Akkuyu Nuclear has announced. Unit 2 is one of four reactors under construction at the Akkuyu site, located on the Mediterranean coast in southern Turkey.

More than 17,000 cubic meters (about 600,350 cubic feet) of concrete have been poured into the Akkuyu-2 reactor building’s foundation, The company reported on September 23. The area of the concrete slab is 6,864 square meters (about 73,883 square feet), while its height and depth are 2.6 meters (about 8.5 feet) and over 8 meters (over 26 feet), respectively, according to the company.

Labor union leader weighs in on closure of Illinois nuclear plants

Lonnie Stephenson, international president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, wrote an op-ed published in the September 25 Chicago Sun-Times touting the benefits of nuclear power in Illinois and decrying Exelon’s plan to prematurely shutter the Byron and Dresden plants.

New report highlights nuclear supply chain opportunities

The London-based World Nuclear Association (WNA) on September 23 released The World Nuclear Supply Chain: Outlook 2040, a market-oriented look at the opportunities and challenges for nuclear power plants and their supply chain, including scenarios for the evolution of nuclear energy over the next two decades.

The report provides information on nearly 300 major independent suppliers of nuclear-grade structures, systems, components, and services, as well as an up-to-date picture of ongoing and planned nuclear plant construction, decommissioning, and major refurbishment and waste management projects.