Biden administration’s proposed FY 2022 budget supports nuclear

June 3, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear News

The Biden administration’s fiscal year 2022 budget sent to Congress last week would, according to the Department of Energy, move the United States toward net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The FY 2022 budget request includes $1.85 billion for the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy.

“President Biden’s budget request puts America in the driver's seat as we transition toward a 100 percent clean energy economy,” said secretary of energy Jennifer Granholm on May 28. “These investments will ensure the U.S. is the global leader in research, development, and deployment of critical energy technologies to combat the climate crisis, create good-paying union jobs, and strengthen our communities in all pockets of America.”

TerraPower’s Natrium demo is headed to Wyoming

June 3, 2021, 12:03PMNuclear News
A future TerraPower plant visualization. (Graphic: TerraPower)

TerraPower has a design for a sodium-cooled fast reactor and federal cost-shared demonstration funding from the Department of Energy. Its partner, PacifiCorp, has four operating coal-fired power plants in the state of Wyoming. On June 2, together with Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon and others, the companies announced plans to site a Natrium reactor demonstration project at a retiring coal plant in Wyoming, with a specific site to be announced by the end of 2021.

Illinois deal likely for Exelon nuclear plants

June 3, 2021, 9:31AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Harmon

An energy proposal in Illinois that would keep the state’s nuclear power plants on line while providing incentives for wind and solar generation is likely to be approved by Illinois lawmakers and signed into law by the governor, according to a news report yesterday from Capitol News Illinois.

Senate president Don Harmon (D., Oak Park) noted on June 1 that a deal had been reached between Gov. J. B. Pritzker and Exelon, the parent company of Commonwealth Edison and the owner of six nuclear power plants in Illinois.

Job saver: Approving the energy deal “would save jobs, which has been our goal all along,” Harmon said. “That’s why we support the governor in these talks. We also stand with the governor on decarbonization targets that need to be in a final deal.”

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U.K. and Chinese national fusion programs can take the heat

June 3, 2021, 7:02AMNuclear News
Plasma in MAST. (Photo: UKAEA/EUROfusion)

As governments around the world cooperate on the ITER tokamak and, in parallel, race each other and private companies to develop commercial fusion power concepts, it seems that “game-changing” developments are proclaimed almost weekly. Recently, the United Kingdom and China announced new fusion program results.

U.S. and France commit to “common ambition” on advanced nuclear

June 2, 2021, 3:12PMNuclear News

U.S. energy secretary Jennifer Granholm and French minister for the ecological transition Barbara Pompili issued a joint statement on May 28 in which they pledged to work together to meet shared climate goals.

“France and the United States share common goals and common resolve in fighting climate change and working toward reaching the ambitious target set forth by the Paris agreement,” the statement read. “We are united in a common ambition on both sides of the Atlantic: achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Reaching this common objective will require leveraging all currently existing emission-free technologies available to us while simultaneously intensifying research, development, and deployment across a suite of zero-emissions energy sources and systems. Ensuring that these energy systems are efficient and reliable, integrating larger shares of renewables coupled with nuclear energy, which is a significant part of today’s electricity production in both our countries, will be crucial to accelerate energy transitions. Reaching this common objective will also require a wide variety of favorable financing conditions across the range of zero-emitting power sources and systems.”

Nominations now being accepted for 2021 ANS Winter Meeting awards

June 2, 2021, 12:00PMANS News

For more than 50 years, the ANS Honors and Awards Program has recognized outstanding achievements and meritorious service in the various fields served by our Society.

The recipients of the national awards listed below will be honored on November 30 during the opening plenary of the ANS Winter Meeting. Honorees will be notified of their selection by October.

All members are encouraged to review the nomination requirements for these awards and consider nominating a qualified colleague. Many ANS awards are open to non-ANS members, and nominating colleagues who are not members is one way to foster new ANS relationships.

Entergy completes transfer of Indian Point to Holtec for decommissioning

June 2, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
The new sign at the Indian Point Energy Center. (Photo: Holtec)

The transfer of the Indian Point nuclear power plant from Entergy to Holtec International and its subsidiaries was completed last week. Under the asset transfer deal, Holtec Indian Point becomes owner of the closed plant, with Holtec Decommissioning International serving as the site’s license holder and decommissioning operator.

$6.4 billion Idaho cleanup contract awarded to Jacobs-led company

June 1, 2021, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
The Snake River Plain Aquifer

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management will award the Idaho Cleanup Project contract for the Idaho National Laboratory site to Idaho Environmental Coalition (IEC), of Tullahoma, Tenn. The contract has an estimated ceiling of approximately $6.4 billion over 10 years, with cost reimbursement and fixed-price task orders to define the contract performance.

First Hualong One unit outside China enters commercial operation

June 1, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News

Unit 2 at Pakistan’s Karachi nuclear power plant officially began commercial operation in late May, gaining the distinction of being the first Hualong One reactor outside of China to do so, China National Nuclear Corporation announced last week. Construction of Karachi-2 began in August 2015, and connection to the grid was accomplished in March of this year.

WNA calls for all-hazards approach to nuclear power

June 1, 2021, 9:29AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The World Nuclear Association has issued a white paper advising the world’s policymakers and regulators to adopt a science-based, all-hazards risk assessment and management system that holistically evaluates the contributions of different energy sources and sets a level playing field.

The paper, Recalibrating Risk: Putting Nuclear Risk in Context and Perspective, states that disproportionately focusing on the risks posed by radiation can result in the acceptance of other, more significant risks. For example, the WNA says, while air pollution from heavy fossil fuel use worldwide has caused the early demise of millions, severely damaged the environment, and exacerbated climate change, nuclear power is routinely ostracized and its substantial contributions to global decarbonization disregarded.

U.K. nuclear joins renewables to press for grid decarbonization

June 1, 2021, 6:59AMNuclear News

Three United Kingdom organizations—the Nuclear Industry Association, RenewableUK (formerly the British Wind Energy Association), and Solar Energy UK—are calling for urgent action to build new nuclear, wind, and solar capacity and for a binding target of 100 percent grid decarbonization by 2035.

The United Kingdom was the first of the world’s major economies to embrace a legal obligation to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

U.S. nuclear capacity factors: Reliable and looking for respect

May 28, 2021, 2:58PMNuclear NewsSusan Gallier
Fig. 1. All reactors. The median DER net capacity factor of the 96 reactors included in this survey for the three-year period 2018–2020 is 91.33 percent. For the five three-year periods between 1997 and 2011 shown above, 104 reactors were in operation. The 2012–2014 capacity factor includes 100 reactors, and 2015–2017 includes 99 reactors.

Capacity factor is a measure of reliability, and reliability delivers results. The U.S. nuclear power fleet produced about 789.9 TWh of clean electricity in 2020 and ended the year with 94 operating reactors. According to Energy Information Administration data, that’s about 37 percent more electricity than the 576.9 TWh produced in 1990 by a much larger fleet of 112 reactors.

Nuclear News has tracked and analyzed the capacity factors of the U.S. fleet since the early 1980s, before concerted industry efforts yielded unforeseen performance improvements. High nuclear capacity factors are now less an achievement than an expectation. So much so, in fact, that advanced reactors in development today are assumed to be capable of achieving capacity factors above 90 or even 95 percent.

The U.S. fleet has maintained a median capacity factor near 90 percent for 20 years (see Fig. 1), and the median design electrical rating (DER) net capacity factor for 2018–2020, at 91.33, does not disappoint—unless by showing virtually no change relative to the median of 91.34 recorded in 2015–2017. However, this lack of meaningful difference only underscores the consistent reliability of the U.S. fleet.

“Now is the time” for more ATR capacity: A conversation with Lightbridge

May 28, 2021, 12:06PMNuclear News
A photo of a prototype Lightbridge fuel assembly. (Photo: Lightbridge)

Operators at the Advanced Test Reactor at Idaho National Laboratory have begun a nine-month outage to perform a core internals changeout. When the ATR is restarted in early 2022, the top head closure plate of the pressurized water test reactor will have new access points that could permit the irradiation of more fuel and material samples in the reactor’s high-flux neutron conditions.

Moltex clears first phase of CNSC vendor design review

May 28, 2021, 9:28AMNuclear News

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has completed phase one of its pre-licensing vendor design review (VDR) for Moltex Energy’s 300-MW Stable Salt Reactor–Wasteburner (SSR-W)—a molten salt reactor that uses nuclear waste as fuel. CNSC entered into an agreement with Moltex in November 2017 to conduct the initial phase of the review.

The amazing capacity of nuclear

May 28, 2021, 7:00AMANS NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy

Historically, we have used the May issue of Nuclear News to analyze capacity factor data for U.S. nuclear plants. Once again, the topline story is the continuation of a 20-year period of outstanding operational performance. In 2020, the U.S. nuclear fleet generated about 789.9 TWh of electricity, surpassing coal to become the second-largest source of electricity in the nation. Overall, the fleet recorded a median three-year capacity factor of 91.33, besting the three-year median of 91.20 published just last year. With some of our most venerable plants among the top performers, it’s no wonder that several utilities are investing now to ensure their plants can generate clean energy into their eighth decade or beyond.

TRU Waste Solution inDRUM Treatment

May 27, 2021, 2:39PMSponsored ContentStudsvik

Do you have TRU waste with characteristics and/or prohibited items not acceptable in their current configuration for transportation and/or disposal at WIPP? Such as liquids, oxidizers, corrosives, reactive materials, flammable liquids, and aerosol cans? Are you sorting and segregating the non-compliant waste forms and then developing process/treatment approaches (i.e., solidification, grouting, deactivation, etc.) to ensure your final waste form will meet transportation and WIPP’s acceptance requirements?

Spotlight On: Changes to the ANS national meeting program

May 27, 2021, 12:01PMNuclear News

The only constant, as the saying goes, is change. Since adopting the American Nuclear Society Change Plan 2020 at the ANS Winter Meeting in 2019, the Society has been in a state of seemingly constant change. Many important improvements have been implemented under the Change Plan—including to this magazine and our news site, ans.org/news—with an eye toward making ANS a more modern and adaptable organization. Some changes also have better enabled ANS to quickly respond to events that were out of our control and forced us to take on new endeavors (thanks, COVID‑19)—a prime example being the 2020 ANS Virtual Annual Meeting and subsequent virtual meetings that followed.

NuScale to explore SMR deployment in central Washington

May 27, 2021, 9:31AMNuclear News
An artist's rendering of the NuScale plant. Image: NuScale

Portland, Ore.–based NuScale Power has announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Grant County Public Utility District (Grant PUD) to evaluate the deployment of NuScale’s advanced nuclear technology in central Washington state.