European researchers investigate details of 2021–22 energy crisis

July 8, 2024, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Average electricity price and the impact of the European electricity crisis. (a) and (b) The colormap shows the average day-ahead spot market price for each bidding zone before and during the European electricity crisis. (c) The colormap shows the ratio of the average price during and before the crisis. In some bidding zones, the prices increase up to a factor of almost six. (Image: AIP)

A statistical analysis of the factors behind the 2021–22 energy crisis in Europe is the subject of the article “Patterns and correlations in European electricity prices,” published in the journal Chaos: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science. The study—conducted by researchers at the Institute for Energy and Climate Research at Forschungszentrum Jülich and the University of Cologne, both in Germany, and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences—describes reasons for the surge in energy prices that go beyond the commonly cited cause of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Fusion is real, and it’s now

July 8, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear NewsLauren Garrison

Lauren Garrison

We have seen many advancements in the fusion field in the past handful of years. In 2021, the National Academies released a report titled Bringing Fusion to the U.S. Grid.a In March 2022, the White House held a first-ever fusion forum, “Developing a Bold Decadal Vision for Commercial Fusion Energy.”b The National Ignition Facility had a record-setting fusion pulse that achieved more power output than the laser input, called ignition, in December 2022.c The Department of Energy’s Office of Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) started a new public-private partnership program, the fusion milestone program, in May 2023 that made awards to eight fusion companies in a cost-share model.d That same summer, FES got a new associate director, Dr. Jean Paul Allain,e who has announced intentions for changing the structure of the FES office to better embrace an energy mission for fusion while keeping the strong foundation in basic science and non-fusion plasmas. ITER construction has continued, with various parts being delivered and systems finished. For example, the civil engineering of the tokamak building was completed in September 2023 after 10 years of work.f Even more fusion companies have been founded, and the Fusion Industry Association has 37 members now.g

Report: Constellation discusses TMI restart with Pa. officials

July 8, 2024, 7:21AMNuclear News
An aerial photo of Three Mile Island nuclear power station. (Photo: Constellation)

Constellation Energy is in talks with the governor’s office and state legislators about funding to restart a unit at Three Mile Island nuclear plant, Reuters has reported. The ongoing talks have been described as “beyond preliminary” by two sources.

DOE issues RFI for a spent fuel consolidated interim storage facility

July 3, 2024, 3:01PMRadwaste Solutions

The Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy has issued a request for information opportunity for the design and construction of a federal consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) for spent nuclear fuel. The DOE is planning on establishing a federal CISF to manage SNF until a permanent repository is available. In May, the DOE received initial approval, known as “Critical Decision-0,” for such a facility.

The deadline for submissions is September 5.

Military action destroys radiation monitor at Ukraine plant

July 3, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News
Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, prewar. (Photo: Energoatom)

An external radiation monitoring station was taken out by shelling and fire near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine the last week of June.

This brings the total to four of the plant’s 14 radiation monitoring sites that are out of commission, further reducing the effectiveness of its off-site capability to detect and measure any radioactive release during an emergency, said IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi.

ECA consortium to fund consent-based siting outreach

July 3, 2024, 9:36AMRadwaste Solutions

The Energy Communities Alliance, a membership organization of local governments adjacent to or impacted by Department of Energy sites, has awarded grants to three community organizations to develop avenues for inclusive public engagement and discussions of consent-based approaches to siting facilities for the interim storage of the nation’s spent nuclear fuel.

Props and jets

July 3, 2024, 7:01AMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy
cpiercy@ans.org

A good bit of this month’s edition of Nuclear News is devoted to the latest developments in fusion energy.

While 2024 may not have the punchy investment headlines of ’22, I think it’s fair to say that fusion energy technology is making tangible progress beneath the surface, with unannounced stealth funding plans and the continuation of public-private partnerships.

When will it become a productive element of our global energy architecture? No one knows for sure. There are still myriad challenges to be solved in high-temperature ­materials, high–critical temperature superconductors, advanced algorithms, and tritium fuel cycle control, just to name a few. But every day, fusion feels a tiny bit more mature, like somehow it has left its childhood bedroom in physics to move into the dorm room of engineering.

NPR focuses on SRS recruitment and training

July 2, 2024, 3:11PMNuclear News
SRS Apprenticeship Program graduates Terrence Tillman (far right) and Shanterra Hughes share their recent apprenticeship experiences with NPR host David Brancaccio (center) and NPR sound engineer Rebekah Wineman. (Photo: DOE)

A new radio series on National Public Radio’s “Marketplace Morning Report” recently highlighted career opportunities and job training at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site.

To listen to the radio segment, click here.

Why is ITER valuable for the U.S.?

July 2, 2024, 9:36AMNuclear NewsLynne Degitz

Lynne Degitz

Public and private sectors are actively advancing research and development and concepts to realize a path to practical, clean, safe fusion energy. New fusion performance records continue to be set around the world, including at the National Ignition Facility (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory), which demonstrated fusion ignition in 2022 and 2023.

However, significant obstacles for practical fusion remain. One challenge is to create and sustain a fusion power source. That is the mission of the international ITER project and the fundamental reason ITER is so valuable to the United States and the other ITER members (China, Europe, India, Japan, Korea, and Russia). Now under assembly in France, ITER is an experimental facility that will provide essential data and experience while also reducing risk for other fusion concepts. ITER will deliver unprecedented self-heated fusion performance, including fusion gain of up to 10 times greater power out of the plasma than the power into the plasma, fusion power of up to 500 megawatts, and long durations of hundreds to thousands of seconds.

Decay on Demand: DARPA’s bid to disrupt isotope production

July 2, 2024, 7:00AMNuclear News
Source: DARPA

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Defense Sciences Office (DSO) wants to mimic and accelerate the natural half-life decay chain of alpha-emitting radioisotopes and plans to invite proposals for experimental or theoretical research tracks under Decay on Demand—a new DARPA disruptioneering opportunity. The solicitation was published in draft form on June 27.

“Whole-of-government” approach suggested for U.S. nuclear to compete with China

July 1, 2024, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Nuclear power plants in operation or under construction as of May 2024. (Source: IAEA)

The recent article “How Innovative Is China in Nuclear Power?” published by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) describes how China has become the world’s leading proponent of nuclear energy. The reason, the article maintains, is because its nuclear industry has been “supported by a whole-of-government strategy that provides extensive financing and systemic coordination.”

Latest electricity cost estimates get new details on nuclear

July 1, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News

Every year, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) puts out a set of technology-specific cost and performance parameters for electricity generation. Now in its 10th year, the Electricity Annual Technology Baseline (ATB) has nearly 100,000 users from 144 countries, according to NREL. Utility planners and grid operators who look to the ATB to assess their investment options in a changing market require complete and accurate information and will be glad to know that the 2024 Electricity ATB, released June 24, includes—for the first time—a range of data on nuclear energy.

Holtec joins NRC, ISP in petitioning the Supreme Court on interim storage

July 1, 2024, 9:31AMRadwaste Solutions
Concept art of Holtec’s proposed HI-STORE CISF in New Mexico. (Image: Holtec)

Holtec International announced that it has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Fifth Circuit’s March 2024 ruling that vacated the license for the company’s HI-STORE consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) for commercial spent nuclear fuel in southeastern New Mexico.

Share:

“You’ve got this; we’ve got this”

July 1, 2024, 7:01AMNuclear NewsLisa Marshall

Lisa Marshall
president@ans.org

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your American Nuclear Society president. The support from within the Society, academia, professional organizations, and international partners has been heartwarming. Students have expressed joy about what the future holds, and they are ready, as am I, to be part of keeping the industry moving forward.

The year 2001 was pivotal for me; it represented my start in nuclear engineering. My career has centered around precollege and university students. To be cliché, they are our future, and we must continue to support their maturation in the field and in ANS. My cup is full when students thrive, and the Society has made many gains in this arena. We have a robust K-12 STEM program that continues to be refined, and partners among educators and organizations that strengthen the routes into the discipline.

NRC engineers share their expertise at the University of Puerto Rico

June 28, 2024, 2:56PMNuclear News
Marcos Rolón-Acevedo (left) and Robert Roche-Rivera pose at UPRM at the beginning of their adjunct professorships in August 2023. (Photo: NRC/UPRM)

Robert Roche-Rivera and Marcos Rolón-Acevedo are licensed professional engineers who work at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. They are also alumni of the University of Puerto Rico–Mayagüez (UPRM) and have been sharing their knowledge and experience with students at their alma mater since last year, serving as adjunct professors in the university’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. During the 2023–2024 school year, they each taught two courses: Fundamentals of Nuclear Science and Engineering, and Nuclear Power Plant Engineering.

With $3.4 billion to spend, the DOE opens RFP for low-enriched uranium

June 28, 2024, 12:01PMNuclear News

The Department of Energy released an anticipated request for proposals on June 27 for low-enriched uranium enrichment. “Today’s action will help spur the safe and responsible build-out of uranium enrichment capacity in the United States, promote diversity in the market, and provide a reliable supply of commercial nuclear fuel to support the energy security and resilience of the American people and domestic industries, free from Russian influence,” the DOE declared.

Aptim wins $630 million contract for cleanup of naval reactor sites

June 28, 2024, 9:40AMRadwaste Solutions

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management awarded a 10-year contract worth up to $630 million to Louisiana-based Aptim Federal Services for deactivation and decommissioning work at two U.S. Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program sites in New York.

House Energy and Water Subcommittee set to mark up FY 2025 appropriations bill

June 28, 2024, 7:00AMNuclear News

A subcommittee markup of the House energy and water fiscal year 2025 appropriations bill is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. (EDT) today. The appropriations package would fund energy and water development and related agencies through Sept. 30, 2025.

“I’m proud that [the bill] continues to build off the work of our FY 2024 bill to strengthen America’s strategic nuclear stockpile, revitalize our ability to enrich uranium domestically, invest in our long-term energy security, and maintain our country’s ports and inland waterways,” said Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R., Tenn.), chair of the energy subcommittee.