Survey: Strong overall support in U.S. for nuclear, but with concerns

September 26, 2022, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Results of the American Climate Perspectives Survey 2022 conducted by the climate-focused organization ecoAmerica suggest that the overall national support for research into advanced nuclear energy and for nuclear energy in general are continuing five-year upward trends. However, according to the survey, fewer than half of women responding to the survey support nuclear power. In addition, public concerns about nuclear-related waste disposal, health and safety, and weaponization remain high.

UNECE: Road to net zero needs many lanes, including one for nuclear

September 23, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

Released this week in the lead-up to November’s COP27 event in Egypt is a report from the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, Carbon Neutrality in the UNECE Region: Technology Interplay under the Carbon Neutrality Concept, which calls for maximizing the use of all low- and zero-carbon technologies—including nuclear technology—to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Termed by the UNECE a “roadmap to carbon neutrality for Europe, North America, and Central Asia,” the 60-page report finds that to attain the net-zero goal, investment in energy as a percentage of gross domestic product needs to grow from 1.24 percent in 2020 to 2.05 percent every year from 2025 until 2050—translating to between $44.8 trillion and $47.3 trillion by 2050, with any additional delay in taking action adding to that price tag.

The coal-to-nuclear conversion: Are Gen IV reactors the answer?

August 19, 2022, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Artist’s rendering of the IMSR Core-Unit. (Credit: Terrestrial Energy)

In the ongoing quest to mitigate the effects of climate change, new technology can create new solutions. Even today, however, coal is still a main source of power around the globe, often out of necessity. Many coal-burning plants have already been converted for gas or biomass, but these measures alone are not nearly enough to meet net-zero carbon goals. There is a better solution, however: repowering coal plants with nuclear technology—specifically, Generation IV reactors.

South Korean firms invest $250 million in TerraPower

August 16, 2022, 3:03PMNuclear News

U.S. nuclear technology company TerraPower announced yesterday the close of a $750 million equity raise—one of the largest advanced-nuclear investment drives to date, according to the announcement—with $250 million of that contributed by South Korean firms SK Inc. and SK Innovation.

Both firms are subsidiaries of the Seoul-based conglomerate SK Group, South Korea’s second-largest conglomerate, after Samsung Group.

Congress passes climate bill with tax credits and more for nuclear

August 15, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

After hours of debate alternating between Democratic praise for the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and Republican denunciation of it, the House of Representatives late Friday passed the sweeping energy, tax, and health care package in a straight party-line vote, 220–207. Its passage represents a significant win for President Biden, who is expected to sign the bill into law this week.

The boldly named $430 billion measure includes $369 billion in energy security and climate spending, with nuclear energy included among the beneficiaries.

ANS panel discussion focuses on nuclear technologies for space commercialization and exploration

August 8, 2022, 9:30AMANS News
This landscape speckled with glittering stars is the edge of a nearby, young, star-forming region called NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula. Captured in infrared light by NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope, this image reveals for the first time previously invisible areas of star birth. (Photo: NASA)

ANS’s August 4 online event “The New Space Race is Going Nuclear” featured several expert panelists who discussed the growing importance of nuclear technologies in space commercialization and exploration. Although nuclear energy has long played a role in space missions, participants discussed the latest exciting developments in the space nuclear field and presented their views on how increased application of nuclear technologies could fundamentally transform the ways in which both crewed and uncrewed space missions are carried out.

TVA, GEH advance SMR plans for Clinch River site

August 8, 2022, 7:20AMNuclear News
Rendering of the proposed GEH Nuclear Energy BWRX-300 SMR at the Clinch River site. (Image: GE Hitachi)

The Tennessee Valley Authority and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) have signed an agreement to support planning and preliminary licensing for the potential deployment of a BWRX-300 small modular reactor at the Clinch River site near Oak Ridge, Tenn., the utility’s president and chief executive officer, Jeff Lyash, announced last week.

An evolution of GEH’s 1,520-MWe Generation III+ ESBWR design, the BWRX-300 is a 300-MWe water-cooled, natural-circulation SMR with passive safety systems.

X-energy picks constructor collaborators

July 22, 2022, 12:09PMNuclear News

Rockville, Md.–based X-energy announced yesterday that it has selected Zachry Group and a combined team from Burns & McDonnell and Day & Zimmermann to work with the company on the next phases of design and deployment for its Xe-100 small modular reactor fleet.

NuScale responds to SMR critique

June 2, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

A Stanford University–led research article on small modular reactors published Tuesday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) is not sitting well with SMR developers or, for that matter, with much of the largely pro-SMR nuclear community.

INL, Wyoming form partnership on advanced energy tech

May 6, 2022, 12:08PMNuclear News
The Wyoming Energy Authority’s Glen Murrell (left) shakes hands with INL’s John C. Wagner at the MOU signing ceremony on May 4. (Photo: WEA)

Battelle Energy Alliance (BEA), the management and operating contractor for Idaho National Laboratory, has signed a five-year memorandum of understanding with the State of Wyoming to collaborate on the research, development, demonstration, and deployment of advanced energy technologies and approaches, with a special focus on advanced nuclear.

China greenlights four additional AP1000 reactors

May 4, 2022, 3:01PMNuclear News
A pair of Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at China's Haiyang nuclear power plant.

China’s State Council recently approved the construction of four Westinghouse AP1000 reactors—two at China’s Sanmen plant in Zhejiang Province and two at the Haiyang plant in Shandong Province.

The plants currently house two AP1000 units each. Sanmen’s reactors are rated at 1,157 MWe and Haiyang’s at 1,170 MWe. Sanmen-1 and -2 began commercial operation in 2018. Haiyang-1 started commercial operation in 2018, and Haiyang-2 in 2019.

GOP lawmakers call on Secretary Granholm to secure U.S. nuclear energy sector

May 2, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

Upton

McMorris Rodgers

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R., Wash.), ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Fred Upton (R., Mich.), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Energy, sent a letter to energy secretary Jennifer Granholm on April 27 urging that more be done to secure America’s nuclear energy sector.

Excerpt: “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine exposes the risks of weakening American energy security,” McMorris Rodgers and Upton write. “These risks extend beyond our oil and gas assets to include supply vulnerabilities in our civilian nuclear sector. This sector is essential for national and energy security and for strengthening the geostrategic relationships necessary to compete with Russia, China, and other adversaries.

University programs: The many areas of research

April 21, 2022, 4:09PMUpdated April 22, 2022, 10:03AMNuclear News

Nuclear News reached out to the Nuclear Engineering Department Heads Organization (NEDHO) to ask for assistance in connecting with nuclear engineering programs at U.S. universities. Our request to the universities was to provide us with updates on their programs and to detail their areas of special interest.

U.S. should double its nuclear energy by 2050, says NIA report

April 19, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News

The Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA), a nonprofit advocating for advanced nuclear, has announced the publication of a new report, Fission Vision: Doubling Nuclear Energy Production to Meet Clean Energy Needs. According to the April 13 announcement, the United States needs a “focused national effort” to develop and deploy advanced nuclear technologies to help meet midcentury climate goals.

Current U.S. climate targets (set by the Biden administration) include a 50–52 percent reduction from 2005 levels in net greenhouse gas pollution by 2030 and a net-zero–emissions economy by 2050.

Fission Vision answers the question: What is the role advanced nuclear energy could play at a scale and at a pace to help provide safe, reliable, and affordable clean energy?” said Judi Greenwald, NIA’s executive director. “Fission Vision has three objectives: catalyzing a robust U.S. innovation and commercialization ecosystem, ensuring ‘social license’ to operate advanced nuclear energy, and reimagining and integrating advanced nuclear energy with other clean energy sources. If we can achieve these objectives—and we think we can—advanced reactors will play a major role in meeting our climate and energy goals by at least doubling U.S. nuclear energy production by 2050.”

Latvia looking into advanced nuclear with help from U.S.

April 12, 2022, 6:59AMNuclear News

From left: Bonnie Jenkins, the U.S. State Department’s undersecretary for arms control and international security, and Jānis Vitenbergs, Latvia’s economics minister. (Photo: U.S. State Department)

The U.S. and Latvian governments announced last week a new partnership under the Biden administration’s Foundational Infrastructure for Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor Technology (FIRST) program.

Launched in April of last year, the FIRST program is designed to deepen strategic ties, support energy innovation, and advance technical collaboration with partner nations on nuclear energy infrastructure.

The U.S.-Latvia FIRST project, according to the State Department, will draw on expertise from across government, industry, national laboratories, and academia for policy and technical exchanges focused on topics such as workforce development, stakeholder engagement, regulatory development, and familiarization with advanced nuclear technologies—including SMRs—to support Latvia’s energy independence and security and climate priorities. Latvia currently has no nuclear power facilities.

What they’re saying: “We are pleased to be working with Latvia to explore what role advanced nuclear technologies can play in Latvia’s future energy mix,” said Bonnie Jenkins, the State Department’s undersecretary for arms control and international security. “The United States and Latvia share a commitment to energy security, combatting climate change, and nonproliferation. The FIRST program provides a framework for our countries to work together to achieve these goals.

TVA, ORNL partner to explore new nuclear, other clean technologies

March 2, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
High-voltage power lines carry electricity generated by the Tennessee Valley Authority to Oak Ridge National Laboratory. (Photo: Dobie Gillispie/ORNL, DOE)

The Tennessee Valley Authority and Oak Ridge National Laboratory have signed a memorandum of understanding to advance decarbonization technologies in pursuit of the federal government’s net-zero-by-2050 goal, the utility and the lab announced yesterday in a joint press release.

TVA board approves advanced reactor program; initial focus on Clinch River

February 11, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
An advanced nuclear reactor technology park is hoped for the 935-acre Clinch River site. Image: TVA

The Tennessee Valley Authority’s board of directors has given the go-ahead for a program that will explore the development and potential deployment of small modular reactors as part of the utility’s decarbonization strategy.

West Virginia lifts ban on nuclear power plants

February 10, 2022, 6:58AMNuclear News

Justice

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed a bill yesterday that repeals the state’s quarter-century-old ban on nuclear power plant construction. The legislation, S.B. 4, passed the West Virginia Senate and House of Delegates last month with no substantial opposition and will go into effect in May.

S.B. 4 rescinds article 27A of the West Virginia Code, which prohibited “the construction of any nuclear power plant, nuclear factory, or nuclear electric power generating plant until such time as the proponents of any such facility can adequately demonstrate that a functional and effective national facility, which safely, successfully, and permanently disposes of radioactive wastes, has been developed.” 27A also required nuclear facility construction to be economically feasible for West Virginia ratepayers and in compliance with all applicable environmental protection laws, rules, and requirements.

Road to advanced nuclear: How DOE and industry collaborations are paving the way for advanced nuclear reactors

April 2, 2021, 8:58AMUpdated December 28, 2021, 3:38PMNuclear NewsCory Hatch

As 2021 closes, Nuclear News is taking a look back at some of the feature articles published each month in the magazine. The April issue reviewed the current state of advanced reactors. This article looks at how the DOE and private industry are working together to realize the benefits of advanced nuclear.

As electric utilities rush to reduce carbon emissions by investing in intermittent renewables such as wind and solar, they often rely heavily on fossil fuels to provide steady baseload power.

More than 60 percent of the nation’s electricity is still generated with fossil fuels, especially coal-fired and gas-fired power plants that have the ability to quickly ramp up or ramp down power to follow loads on the electric grid. Most experts agree that even with a radical advancement in energy storage technology, relying exclusively on wind and solar to replace fossil fuels won’t be enough to maintain a stable electric grid and avoid the major impacts of climate change.

Bipartisan legislation to accelerate nuclear innovation introduced in House

December 15, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News

Luria

Gonzalez

Reps. Anthony Gonzalez (R., Ohio) and Elaine Luria (D., N.Y.) have again teamed up to launch bipartisan pronuclear legislation in the House. On December 7, with Luria as cosponsor, Gonzalez unveiled the Accelerating Nuclear Innovation through Fee Reform Act (H.R. 6154), aimed at accelerating innovation and catalyzing private sector investment in advanced nuclear reactor technologies by eliminating Nuclear Regulatory Commission review fees for advanced reactor license applications, which could reach tens of millions of dollars, disincentivizing developers from bringing new technologies to market.