Nuclear News

Published since 1959, Nuclear News is recognized worldwide as the flagship trade publication for the nuclear community. News reports cover plant operations, maintenance and security; policy and legislation; international developments; waste management and fuel; and business and contract award news.


Air Force pilot program to enlist microreactor for 20-year Alaskan deployment

October 5, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News
Aircraft line the runway at Eielson AFB in December 2020. (Photo: U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Keith Holcomb)

The Department of the Air Force and the Defense Logistics Agency–Energy have released a request for proposals (RFP) for the construction and operation of a microreactor in central Alaska. The Department of Defense wants a 20-year supply of electricity and steam from a 1–5-MW microreactor, but the Eielson Air Force Base (AFB) Microreactor Pilot Program will go beyond a simple power purchase agreement and put the reactor through its paces with tests, at least annually, of the reactor’s walk-away safety and black-start capabilities. The final RFP is available at sam.gov.

GOP lawmakers push to lower regulatory hurdles for small nuclear firms

October 5, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News

Donalds

Rep. Byron Donalds (R., Fla.) has introduced legislation in the House to help U.S. small businesses engaged or seeking to engage in the research, development, and deployment of advanced nuclear reactors.

Dubbed the Nuclear Assistance for America’s Small Businesses Act, the bill debuted September 29 with 10 of Donalds’s fellow House Republicans as cosponsors: Arizona’s Andy Biggs, Florida’s Maria Elvira Salazar, Georgia’s Buddy Carter, North Carolina’s Dan Bishop and Ted Budd, Ohio’s Bob Latta, South Carolina’s Nancy Mace, Tennessee’s Chuck Fleischmann and John Rose, and Texas’s Chip Roy.

Bill basics: The measure would amend the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA) to allow small businesses to delay 50 percent of their preapplication fees to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as well as 35 percent of their postapplication fees over a period of 10 years.

New Finnish reactor at full power

October 4, 2022, 3:05PMNuclear News
Finland’s Olkiluoto-3. (Photo: TVO)

The Unit 3 EPR at Finland’s Olkiluoto nuclear power plant has reached its full capacity of approximately 1,600 MWe for the first time, plant owner and operator Teollisuuden Voima Oyj has announced. Olkiluoto-3 is now the most powerful reactor in Europe and the third most powerful globally, according to TVO. (Currently, the world champions in that department are China’s 1,660-MWe Taishan-1 and -2, also EPRs.)

New CNC draft guidance out as first-round decision nears

October 4, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

The Department of Energy released draft guidance for the second award cycle of the $6 billion Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) Program on September 30, ahead of a decision on which reactors could receive four years of economic aid from the program’s first award cycle.

The DOE’s draft guidance for the second award cycle describes CNC program timelines and all supporting information required for owners or operators of nuclear power plants to apply for certification of eligibility and submit sealed bids. Feedback is requested by 5:00 p.m. EDT on November 4. While no date has been set for the second-round application process to open, the DOE plans to initiate the award cycle before the end of the year.

Vistra moves to extend operation at Comanche Peak

October 4, 2022, 9:34AMNuclear News
Luminant’s two-unit Comanche Peak plant in Glen Rose, Texas. (Photo: Vistra Corporation)

Vistra Corporation announced yesterday that it is seeking 20-year life extensions for its Comanche Peak reactors and has submitted an application for license renewals to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Operated by Vistra subsidiary Luminant and located in Glen Rose, Texas, Comanche Peak is home to two Westinghouse-supplied pressurized water reactors. The 1,218-MWe Unit 1 began commercial operation in August 1990, with the 1,207-MWe Unit 2 joining in August 1993. The original 40-year licenses for Units 1 and 2 expire in February 2030 and February 2033, respectively.

Draft EIS for fluoride salt–cooled test reactor now out for public comment

October 3, 2022, 3:06PMNuclear News
An artist’s rendering of Hermes. (Image: Kairos Power)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) recently on Kairos Power’s application for a permit to construct Hermes, a 35-MW nonpower version of the company’s fluoride salt–cooled reactor design (KP-FHR), at the East Tennessee Technology Park in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Robotic reactor vessel head inspection innovations at Beaver Valley-2

October 3, 2022, 2:05PMNuclear NewsJim Graf
Energy Harbor’s Beaver Valley plant, located on the Ohio River near Shippingport, Pa. (Photo: Energy Harbor)

Two critical factors for the success of nuclear industry outages are safety and efficiency. This includes personal and nuclear safety for the team members working on the outage, equipment safety through proper inspections and maintenance, and ultimately public safety when a reactor system is returned to service, free of defects and ready for reliable power production.

Risk insights map an efficient approach to aging management

October 3, 2022, 2:04PMNuclear News

Any method that can enhance safety, reduce risk, and lower costs is worth a second look. When that method proves it has the potential to optimize aging management at any nuclear power plant, it’s time to spread the word.

In 2019, a small team focused on selective leaching began looking for a way to use risk insights to optimize the implementation of deterministic aging management programs (AMPs). What they started soon grew into a large team effort by Constellation, Ameren, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), and the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), along with contractors Enercon and Jensen Hughes, to develop a generic framework and then test it in two very different pilot applications.

GAO finds nuclear demo best practices could set new standard for clean energy projects

October 3, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s management of its commercial-scale reactor demonstration projects has “generally been consistent with requirements to address risk,” according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report published recently. The GAO found that the DOE has met existing project management requirements, and that the two offices managing the awards—the Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) and the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED)—plan to introduce additional project management tools, such as external independent reviews. The GAO recommended that the DOE adopt those plans as institutional best practices for other large energy projects, and the DOE concurred.

Germany okays keeping two nuclear plants in reserve for winter

September 30, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News
Germany’s Isar nuclear plant, located in Essenbach, Bavaria. (Photo: Elmschrat/WikiCommons)

With a reluctant bow to the reality of the energy crisis gripping Europe, the German government this week took a slight step back from its antinuclear power stance, forging an agreement with the operators of the Isar and Neckarwestheim plants to keep those facilities in “operational reserve” this winter should they be needed to ensure the country’s energy security.

Company launched to develop NuScale SMRs in Romania

September 30, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
From left: Romanian energy minister Virgil Popescu; E-Infra CEO Teofil Mureșan; Nuclearelectrica board chairman Teodor Chirica; and U.S. undersecretary for economic development, energy, and environment Jose Fernandez. (Photo: Nuclearelectrica)

Energy firms Nuclearelectrica and Nova Power & Gas have launched a joint venture, RoPower Nuclear, for the development of small modular reactors in Romania, with SMR technology provided by NuScale Power, of Portland, Ore.

Largely state-owned, Nuclearelectrica operates Romania’s sole nuclear power facility, the two-unit Cernavoda plant, while Nova Power & Gas, a subsidiary of the privately held E-Infra Group, is a supplier and distributor of electricity and natural gas in Romania. The two firms own equal shares of RoPower.

Maintaining RIPB in commercial LWRs

September 29, 2022, 3:22PMNuclear NewsKent B. Welter

The new standard ANSI/ANS-30.3-2022, Light Water Reactor Risk-Informed, Performance-Based Design, has just been issued by the American Nuclear Society. Approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) on July 21, 2022, the standard provides requirements for the incorporation of risk-informed, performance-based (RIPB) principles and methods into the nuclear safety design of commercial light water reactors. The process described in this standard establishes a minimum set of process requirements the designer must follow in order to meet the intent of this standard and appropriately combine deterministic, probabilistic, and performance-based methods during design development.

CNSC vendor design review of eVinci microreactor to begin

September 29, 2022, 12:05PMNuclear News

Westinghouse's eVinci microreactor (Image: Westinghouse)

Westinghouse Electric Company has signed a service agreement with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to bring the eVinci microreactor closer to commercialization, the company announced Tuesday. The agreement initiates a vendor design review (VDR)—a prelicensing technical assessment of a company’s reactor technology.

The objective of a VDR, according to the CNSC, is to verify the acceptability of a nuclear power plant design with respect to Canadian nuclear regulatory requirements and expectations, as well as Canadian codes and standards. The review also aims to identify fundamental barriers to licensing a new design in Canada and to assure that a resolution path exists for any design issues identified.

OPG, Microsoft to work toward net-zero future for Ontario

September 28, 2022, 3:06PMNuclear News

Ontario Power Generation and Microsoft Canada have formed a partnership aimed at combatting climate change and driving sustainable growth across the province of Ontario, the Canadian utility announced this week.

Under the partnership, Microsoft will procure clean energy credits (CECs) sourced from OPG’s nuclear and hydro assets in Ontario on an hourly basis. (OPG’s nuclear assets include the four-unit Darlington plant and six-unit Pickering facility.) According to the announcement, this will enable Microsoft to advance toward its 100/100/0 by 2030 goal, which commits the software firm to powering its data centers globally with zero-carbon energy, 24/7.

Belgium’s nuclear phaseout begins

September 27, 2022, 3:03PMNuclear News
Belgium's Doel nuclear power plant. (Photo: N. Hippert/IAEA)

Unit 3 at the Doel nuclear power plant has become Belgium’s first reactor to be permanently shuttered, in keeping with that nation’s nuclear phaseout policy. The 1,006-MWe pressurized water reactor, which began commercial operation in October 1982, was removed from service last Friday at 9:31 p.m. (local time).

Belgium’s nuclear reactor fleet now consists of six operating units: Doel-1, -2, and -4 and Tihange-1, -2, and -3. Next on the retirement list is Tihange-2, scheduled to be shut down in February 2023.

Westinghouse partners with nearly two dozen firms in Poland

September 27, 2022, 9:39AMNuclear News
Photo: Westinghouse

Westinghouse Electric Company continues its aggressive campaign to become the large reactor supplier for Poland’s planned nuclear power facilities, recently signing memoranda of understanding with 22 firms in the Central European nation.

The American company, with its AP1000 design, is one of three suppliers vying to provide the units for the first Polish nuclear plant project, the other contenders being Électricité de France and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power.

The MOUs were signed last week in the presence of U.S. ambassador to Poland Mark Brzezinski.

U.S. fusion pilot program ready to back designs from industry-led teams

September 27, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy announced up to $50 million for a new milestone-based fusion energy development program on September 22. The funding opportunity announcement is open to for-profit companies—possibly teamed with national laboratories, universities, and others—that are prepared to meet major technical and commercialization milestones leading to a pilot fusion power plant design.

Bids for SMR deployment in Estonia requested

September 26, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News
The Estonian flag. (Image: WikiCommons)

Moving forward with its plan for small modular reactor deployment in Estonia, Fermi Energia has issued tenders to three SMR firms—GE Hitachi (GEH), NuScale Power, and Rolls-Royce, developers of the BWRX-300, NuScale Power Module, and Rolls-Royce SMR, respectively.

Saskatchewan IDs potential SMR sites

September 26, 2022, 9:29AMNuclear News
The Estevan region (Image: SaskPower)

As part of its planning and regulatory activities to potentially build small modular reactors (SMRs) in currently nuclear-powerless Saskatchewan, Canadian utility SaskPower has selected the province’s Estevan and Elbow regions for further study. (In 2018, SaskPower joined the Canadian government, three other provinces, and four other Canadian utilities to participate in the development of A Call to Action: A Canadian Roadmap for Small Modular Reactors.)