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.


Texas governor calls for incentivizing nuclear, gas, coal for grid reliability

July 8, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear News
Map of ERCOT over the state of Texas (Image: ERCOT)

Motivated by February’s Texas grid debacle and last month’s Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) alert pleading with residents to conserve energy, Gov. Greg Abbott earlier this week issued a letter to members of the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC), directing them to take immediate action to improve electric reliability across the state. According to the governor’s office, the directives build on reforms passed in the 87th legislative session to increase power generation capacity and ensure the reliability of the Texas power grid.

Communicating about radiation in the 21st century

July 8, 2021, 9:27AMNuclear NewsPaul A. Locke

Locke

It might seem odd to begin a discussion about radiation risk communication with a title that references the 21st century. Simple math tells us that more than 20 percent of the 21st century is in our rearview mirror. Still, today we are relying on many of the concepts and ideas about communication that were developed decades ago. Using dated techniques for outreach about radiation hinders efforts to engage communities and the public in a discussion about the risks and benefits of technologies that use radiation sources.

Several years ago, I visited the Hanford Site’s B Reactor. I also toured an operating nuclear power plant that is currently part of the U.S. fleet, and I have learned about the design and operation of advanced small modular reactors. The evolution in reactor designs represented by these three technologies demonstrates that a culture of innovation and research delivers success. The nuclear industry is now, and continues to be, forward-looking as power generation, cleanup, and worker protection become advanced and are made safer, more efficient, and ready for the future.

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Two EU reports on nuclear sustainability not entirely on same page

July 7, 2021, 1:00PMNuclear News
The headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium.

Two reports submitted last week to the European Commission to help it decide whether to include nuclear energy in the “EU taxonomy”—a classification system establishing a list of environmentally sustainable economic activities for the European Union—could end up prolonging the decision-making process, as the reports are not in full agreement on the matter.

Basic fusion research accelerates with infusion of DOE funds

July 7, 2021, 9:28AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s Office of Science has named seven companies as the recipients of cost-shared funding granted through the Innovation Network for Fusion Energy (INFUSE). A total of $2.1 million in first-round fiscal year 2021 funding was awarded on July 1 across nine collaborative projects between DOE national laboratories and private industry aimed at overcoming challenges in fusion energy development.

NRC discontinues consideration of 40-year license renewals

July 6, 2021, 9:34AMNuclear News
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission headquarters (photo: U.S. NRC)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has halted efforts to consider allowing U.S. nuclear power plant owners to request 40-year license renewals for their facilities, the agency announced on Facebook and Twitter on July 2. Currently, the maximum potential operating lifespan for a plant is 80 years: 40 years with the original license, 20 more with an initial license renewal, and another 20 with a second renewal.

A critical shift in low-dose radiation research and communication

July 2, 2021, 2:15PMNuclear NewsSusan Gallier
A hot cell at Argonne National Laboratory was used to demonstrate a process for purifying molybdenum-99, an important diagnostic medical isotope. (Photo: Wes Agresta/ANL)

The biggest impact of radiation in our lives may come not from radiation itself, but from regulations and guidelines intended to control exposures to man-made sources that represent a small fraction of the natural radiation around us.

Argonne celebrates 75 years that began with a nuclear mission

July 1, 2021, 3:05PMNuclear News
Argonne marks its 75th anniversary on July 1. (Image: Argonne)

Seventy-five years ago today, on July 1, 1946, the first U.S. national laboratory was chartered with the singular mission of developing the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Now, the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory is one of the nation’s largest science laboratories, working on diverse challenges in energy, climate, science, medicine, and national security.

Autonomous operation of small reactors: Economy of automation in lieu of economy of scale

July 1, 2021, 12:01PMNuclear NewsRichard Wood

Wood

As indicated in the April issue of Nuclear News, development of advanced reactor concepts heavily emphasizes small modular reactors and microreactors. Promised features, such as capital cost savings, plant system simplification, implementation flexibility, and favorable operational responsiveness with passive safety behavior, all promote small reactors as desirable, non-­­carbon-­­emitting power sources to help satisfy future energy needs. In spite of the favorable up-­­front economics compared to large nuclear reactors, SMRs and microreactors do not provide the benefit of economy of scale that typically compensates for the high staffing demands associated with traditional, labor-intensive operations and maintenance (O&M) practices in the nuclear industry. To avoid the prospect that high staffing levels relative to unit power production will lead to unsustainable O&M costs for small reactors, a significantly higher degree of automation, to the point of near autonomy, is necessary. Essentially, the economy of automation is needed to offset the loss of economy of scale.

EDF and ENEC to partner on nuclear R&D

July 1, 2021, 9:34AMNuclear News
Laurent Clement, EDF Middle East chief executive officer (seated, left), and Ahmed Al Mazrouei, ENEC vice president of R&D (seated, right), sign a letter of intent on June 30 to cooperate on nuclear R&D. Looking on are Hervé Maillart, head coordinator of the French nuclear industry at EDF (left), and ENEC CEO Mohamed Al Hammadi. (Photo: ENEC)

Électricité de France has signed a letter of intent with the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation to develop a memorandum of understanding for cooperation on research and development in the nuclear energy sector.

Unit 5 construction begins at Kudankulam

July 1, 2021, 7:03AMNuclear News
India’s Kudankulam plant, during the June 29 Unit 5 construction launch ceremony. Photo: Rosatom

Work on the third phase of the multi-reactor project at India’s Kudankulam nuclear power plant formally commenced earlier this week with the first pouring of concrete into the foundation plate of the Unit 5 reactor building.

U of Illinois plans to integrate research and power with advanced microreactor

June 30, 2021, 12:18PMNuclear News
A rendering of Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation’s micro modular reactor as proposed for construction on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus. (Graphic: USNC)

The U.S. state with more nuclear power plants than any other—Illinois—has no operating university research reactors. A team at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) intends to reverse that situation and construct a high-temperature gas-cooled microreactor. If the team's plans go ahead, the first new U.S. university research reactor deployment in about 30 years could also support commercial advanced reactor deployment.

PSEG quickens pace to net zero

June 29, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
The Hope Creek nuclear power plant

New Jersey’s Public Service Enterprise Group has announced its intention to achieve net-zero emissions by 2030, shaving two decades off its previously announced target date of 2050. PSEG is owner of the Hope Creek nuclear plant and is co-owner, with Exelon, of the Salem plant.

Romania ratifies Cernavoda deal with U.S.

June 29, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News
The Cernavoda plant, in southeastern Romania. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Zlatko Krastev

Romania has ratified a draft intergovernmental agreement signed in 2020 with the United States on cooperation in the field of nuclear energy. Initialed last October by Romania’s energy minister, Virgil Popescu, and the then U.S. energy secretary Dan Brouillette, the agreement, reportedly worth some $8 billion, calls for cooperation on completing the construction of Units 3 and 4 at Romania’s Cernavoda nuclear power plant, as well as the refurbishment of Unit 1. The European Commission gave its nod to the agreement last November.

Oklo awarded $2 million to commercialize advanced fuel recycling

June 29, 2021, 6:59AMNuclear News
An artist's rendition of Oklo’s Aurora powerhouse. (Image: Gensler)

California-based Oklo has received a $2 million cost-share award from the Department of Energy for the commercialization of advanced fuel recycling capabilities by using electrorefining technology. Oklo is matching $1 million in funds and is partnering with the DOE and Argonne National Laboratory on this public-private partnership, which is intended to help reduce fuel costs for advanced reactor designs while reducing waste by turning used fuel into advanced reactor fuel.

Legislation introduced to extend production tax credits to nuclear

June 28, 2021, 12:01PMNuclear News

Cardin

Pascrell

Companion bills that call for amending the Internal Revenue Code to establish a tax credit to help existing merchant nuclear plants continue operations debuted on Capitol Hill last week.

In the House on June 21, Rep. Bill Pascrell (D., N.J.) introduced the bipartisan H.R. 4024, dubbed the Zero-Emission Nuclear Power Production Credit Act of 2021. Cosponsors of the legislation include Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.), Tom Suozzi (D., N.Y.), John Katko (R., N.Y.), Danny Davis (D., Ill.), Anthony Brown (D., Md.), Dutch Ruppersberger (D., Md.), Cheri Bustos (D., Ill.), Mike Doyle (D., Pa.), and Bobby Rush (D., Ill.).

And on June 24, Sen. Ben Cardin (D., Md.) introduced the Senate’s version, S. 2291, with Sens. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), Tom Carper (D., Del.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.), and Cory Booker (D., N.J.) joining as cosponsors.

IAEA releases nuclear power status data for 2020

June 28, 2021, 9:29AMNuclear News
Image: IAEA

The International Atomic Energy Agency last week released its annual nuclear power status data, collected by the Power Reactor Information System (PRIS), the agency’s publicly available nuclear power database.

According to the IAEA’s data summary, nuclear power in 2020 played an important role as an adaptable and reliable supplier of electricity during the pandemic.