U.S. must become “world leader in nuclear power” again

February 15, 2024, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Donalds

Fleischmann

Two U.S. representatives—Chuck Fleischmann (R., Tenn.) and Byron Donalds (R., Fla.)—have published an op-ed in the Washington Examiner that calls for the United States to seize “the current nuclear economic opportunity worldwide” and “once again be the world leader in nuclear power.” The congressmen emphasize that “it is in the best interest of the United States and the rest of the world for our country, instead of China and Russia, to be the preferred partner for embarking nuclear nations.”

Atoms for Peace: Fleischmann and Donalds argue that President Dwight Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” speech in 1953 established the foundational principles for the domestic and global success of the U.S. civil nuclear energy industry—and they urge the nation to reclaim those principles now. They point to the numerous benefits of nuclear energy, ranging from economic development to desalination to sustainable fuel creation, and note that the “global market is ripe for nuclear technology.”

Amidoximes aid in extraction of uranium from seawater

January 10, 2024, 7:01AMANS Nuclear Cafe

A new material based on amidoxime chemical groups may allow electrochemical extraction technology to extract uranium ions from seawater more efficiently than previous methods, according to a recent study published by the American Chemical Society’s ACS Central Science. If put into practical use, the new method, which was developed by researchers in China, could offer an environmentally sustainable source of fuel for nuclear power plants.

China launches fusion consortium to build “artificial sun”

January 9, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear News
The HL-2M tokamak reactor, developed by the CNNC’s Southwestern Institute of Physics. (Photo: CNNC)

The government of China has formed a new national industrial consortium focused on the development and advancement of nuclear fusion technology, news outlets have reported.

Atoms for Africa

December 18, 2023, 10:56AMNuclear NewsJames Conca
Africa is home to 1.5 billion people in 54 countries living on 12 million square miles. The economies of many of these countries are hobbled by a general dearth of energy that nuclear could solve without adding to the harm of global warming.

The World Nuclear Association and the African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE) last year signed a memorandum of understanding to encourage the use of nuclear energy in support of economic growth and sustainable energy development in Africa.

American Nuclear Society supports water release at Fukushima Daiichi

August 24, 2023, 8:41AMPress Releases

Washington, D.C. – The American Nuclear Society (ANS) supports the start of Japan’s controlled release of re-treated, diluted tritium wastewater into the sea from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), which sustained damage in the aftermath of a 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Focus on China for new U.S. nuclear export controls

August 14, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News

The Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has expanded the scope of its nuclear-related export controls on China and Macao (a special administrative region in southeastern China) by establishing additional nuclear nonproliferation controls and license requirements for items that could “contribute to nuclear activities of concern.” The BIS stated that the action, effective August 11, was taken in response to China’s military modernization and nuclear force expansion.

NPR podcast highlights perspectives on nuclear energy

April 14, 2023, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Nuclear energy was the focus of a recent NPR 1A podcast episode, hosted by journalist Jenn White, who welcomed guests to discuss the role of nuclear energy in the future of the United States. The guests—Joe Dominguez, chief executive officer of Constellation Energy; Samantha Gross, director of the Energy Security and Climate Initiative at the Brookings Institution; and Edwin Lyman, director of Nuclear Power Safety for the Union of Concerned Scientists—participated in the episode, titled “Where Does Nuclear Energy Fit in a Carbon-Free Future?”

Reliable testing under all conditions

March 29, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear NewsChristoph Gatzen and Simon Lemin
VR glasses from manufacturer RealWear.

The challenges of climate change are bringing nuclear energy back into focus. Even in Germany, which decided on a general nuclear phaseout in 2011 as a response to the Fukushima disaster that year, nuclear energy is again being discussed as a bridging technology. Compared with fossil fuels, nuclear saves considerable greenhouse gases. However, for a holistic view of CO2 emissions from power plants, the procurement, maintenance, and repair of plant components must also be considered. At the very least, the CO2 emissions caused by the high costs of testing and maintaining a nuclear power plant can be reduced.

Notes from the 2023 NN Reference Section

March 21, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News

This year marks the 25th year that ANS's Nuclear News magazine has published its Reference Section, which features a world list of nuclear power plants, maps showing worldwide plant locations, tables with information on U.S. plant renewals, and international data tables and graphics. What follows are interesting tidbits that Nuclear Newswire has picked up from this year's Reference Section, which was published in the March NN.

From the Reference Section
Five power reactors started commercial operations around the world in 2022 and five more closed, leaving the total number of operable nuclear power reactors in this 25th Annual Reference Section at 434, the same as the year before. What’s more, that number is just one more than the 433 power reactors listed in the 1st Annual Reference Section back in 1999. But make no mistake, plenty has changed over 25 years. Read on.

A window opens for the U.S. in global nuclear markets

March 13, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy
piercy@ans.org

I have always enjoyed reading BP’s annual Energy Outlook. It’s usually the first major energy report of the new year, and while it is written by a fossil fuel company, it’s one with well-documented clean energy intentions. So, assuming you dial in the right “bias correction,” it’s a good hot take on macro energy trends.

The 2023 edition essentially confirms what we have all been thinking: The Russia-Ukraine war has caused “persistent effects” in the global energy landscape, which in turn have accelerated the shift to clean technologies.

Nuclear fares well. Its share of energy generation grows in all three of the report’s scenarios. In fact, only nuclear and renewables see growth as a percentage of total world primary energy between now and 2035.

Impressions from the IAEA General Conference

November 16, 2022, 9:30AMANS NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy
cpiercy@ans.org

There are worse places to be than Vienna, Austria, in the early fall. The place has an old-world vibe for sure. The U-Bahn doesn’t have turnstiles; it runs on the honor system. People take care to dress up before they amble down the Kärntner Strasse, the city’s main shopping district.

Every September, a little further north, 3,000 delegates from around the world, along with 200 representatives from nongovernmental organizations, descend on the Vienna International Center of the United Nations—the VIC, for short—for the International Atomic Energy Agency’s General Conference. Attendees ply its curving hallways and attend side events, engage in meetings on the margins, and tour the national booth displays.

Inside the large, purpose-built plenary hall, a seemingly endless procession of national speakers, each allotted seven minutes (with flashing red digits to let all know who’s run over time), tout their nation’s achievements in nuclear technology and express its views on nuclear matters of any sort. As an accredited NGO, ANS has a desk in the plenary complete with microphone and wireless translation headset. An IAEA plenary is a highly scripted affair—one that looks boring at first glance, but once you put the headphones on and get acclimated to the vagaries of real-time translation, a coherent and interesting picture starts to emerge.

Examining Russia and China in the global nuclear energy market

October 17, 2022, 6:55AMANS Nuclear Cafe

“Russia and China have overtaken the United States as the world’s premier nuclear-power exporters.” Or so states an article recently published by Defense One, an online news source that primarily reports about national defense and security matters. The article notes that Russian and Chinese reactor designs have accounted for 87 percent of new installed nuclear reactors worldwide during the past five years and that China is set to become the world’s leading nuclear power producer before 2030.

Bulletin article focuses on World Nuclear Industry Status Report

October 13, 2022, 7:02AMANS Nuclear Cafe

A picture of the state of the global nuclear energy industry has been painted in a recent article by Dawn Stover, a contributing editor at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Stover based her comments on The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2022 (WNISR), published on October 5. The report refers to itself as an “independent assessment of nuclear developments in the world” compiled by an international team.

What’s in the WNISR: In the report, 10 countries—China, Finland, France, Germany, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States—receive a focused analysis based on specific issues affecting their nuclear businesses. Other chapters deal with the statuses of Fukushima, decommissioning in general, potential newcomer countries to nuclear power, and small modular reactors. For the first time, the WNISR also contains a chapter on nuclear power and war.

Report sizes up nuclear new-build financing from five top exporters

August 31, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

As energy security and environmental concerns prompt some countries to increase their reliance on nuclear energy or become first-time adopters of the technology, the U.S. government must decide whether it will offer financing for reactor exports—a move that poses financial risks but could create jobs, address global climate and energy security challenges, and limit Chinese and Russian influence. A new report released on August 25 by the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, Comparing Government Financing of Reactor Exports: Considerations for U.S. Policy Makers, digs into the history of nuclear reactor financing and delivers recommendations for U.S. policymakers.

Matt Bowen, research scholar at the center and the report’s lead author, told Nuclear News, “Given how important financing is to countries considering new reactor construction, as well as the competition that U.S. vendors face from foreign state-owned entities, Congress and the White House should both focus attention on the issue, including policy options to increase U.S. competitiveness.”

Taishan-1 EPR resumes operation a year after shutting down over reactor damage fears

August 25, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
The Taishan nuclear power plant in China. (Photo: CGN)

China’s Taishan-1, which was shut down last summer due to damaged fuel rods, resumed operations on August 15.

The plant briefly made headlines last summer—as much for the damage inside the reactor as for the media fallout. In June 2020, plant operators found damage to the cladding on about five of the 60,000 fuel rods in Taishan-1, one of the plant’s two 1,660-MW EPRs. What happened next seemed like a bad game of “telephone.”

Candu Energy performing pre-project work for Qinshan refurbishment

August 5, 2022, 12:10PMNuclear News
The CANDU reactors at Qinshan. (Photo: Wikimedia/Atomic Energy of Canada Limited)

SNC-Lavalin subsidiary Candu Energy recently announced that it is engaged in pre-project design and engineering work at the Qinshan Phase III nuclear power station in China’s Zhejiang Province with Third Qinshan Nuclear Power Company (TQNPC), the plant’s operator.

China’s prototype technology described as step toward energy independence

June 20, 2022, 9:27AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Roadmap for the China Initiative Accelerator-Driven System project development. (Image: Zhijun Wang/CAS)

Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Modern Physics are making strides with their China Initiative Accelerator-Driven System (CiADS) technology, which is being developed to get more life out of used nuclear fuel. Defense One, an online news source that focuses on “the future of U.S. defense and national security,” describes the prototype system as a step in moving China toward energy independence and advancing that nation’s “global leadership in climate-friendly technology.”

Nuclear economics in a changed world

May 11, 2022, 9:30AMANS NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy
cpiercy@ans.org

Laurence J. Peter, author of The Peter Principle, said, “An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn’t happen today.” By that definition, I guess we are all economists now.

As I write this column, it’s still too early to know exactly how the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the world’s response to it, will shape the long-term economics of energy production, and specifically the economics of nuclear energy. But we can make a few logical guesses.

First, I think we will see a stronger security “overlay” to every energy policy decision we make in the next few years. Energy security is a potent motivator. France’s decision to go nuclear wasn’t a decarbonization play; it was a direct result of the Arab oil embargo of 1973, when most of its electricity was generated by oil-fired power plants.

Looking back at 2021—Nuclear News July through September

January 7, 2022, 2:24PMNuclear News

This is the fourth of five articles to be posted today to look back at the top news stories of 2021 for the nuclear community. The full article, "Looking back at 2021,"was published in the January 2022 issue of Nuclear News.

Quite a year was 2021. In the following stories, we have compiled what we feel are the past year’s top news stories from the July-September time frame—please enjoy this recap from a busy year in the nuclear community.

NRC suspends authority to ship heavy water to China

October 4, 2021, 6:59AMNuclear News

Citing national security interests, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued an order suspending the general license authority to export radioactive material and deuterium to China General Nuclear (CGN) and its subsidiaries or related entities.

The NRC licensees subject to the order had been authorized to ship radioactive materials and heavy water to China through a general license granted in sections 110.21 through 110.24 of 10 CFR Part 110. Notice of the order was published in the October 1 Federal Register.