The role of digital insight in a safer nuclear industry

The impact of COVID-19 has placed a sharp focus on not only the importance of keeping key personnel safe but also how to better manage risk with fewer resources on site, writes Ola Bäckström, a product manager for risk at Lloyd’s Register, for Power magazine.

One unexpected result is the acceleration of interest in digitization initiatives. Ten years of digital innovation since the Fukushima accident in March 2011 have brought new ways of modeling and managing risk, and new solutions have been brought to market that are allowing for the safe operation of nuclear power plants.

The digitalization of plant designs is one area of risk assessment that can now be completed automatically. The latest technologies consider more than just schematics and equations, much to the benefit of this new era of nuclear. For instance, digital data combined with international best practices, site-specific data, and an engineer’s own experience can provide a deeper level of insight and analysis than ever before—and faster. Bäckström adds that not just new projects but aging assets can also benefit from digitalization. As more data are input, risk managers can run more accurate simulations and better model existing plants.

GlobalData: China to pass U.S. nuclear capacity in six years

China is on track to overtake the United States in nuclear power capacity by 2026, according to GlobalData, a U.K.-based research and analytics company.

More than 160 GW of nuclear capacity will likely be added globally between 2020 and 2030, some 66 percent of which is anticipated to take place in China, India, and Russia, the company reported on September 9. China alone is set to account for more than 50 percent (83 GW) of the new capacity, followed by India with 8.9 percent (14.5 GW) and Russia with 6.4 percent (10.5 GW). GlobalData also projects that during the same period, more than 76 GW of nuclear capacity will be retired.

Hot thermal tests completed at Fuqing-­5

According to a statement from the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), a key hot performance test was conducted on Unit 5 of the Fuqing nuclear power plant in Fuzhou, in East China’s Fujian Province, on March 2. The CNNC said it is the world’s first nuclear power project using Hualong One technology, also known as HPR 1000, a third-­generation reactor design developed by China. A total of five nuclear power units adopting HPR 1000 technology are under construction by CNNC in China and other countries.

Looking Back: A Brief History of CONTE

The accident that occurred at Three Mile Island on March 28, 1979, brought about many changes to the nuclear industry. Among the changes was the industry stopping to reflect on current procedures and the training of its employees. Exhorted by the findings of the Kemeny Commission and sponsored by the Department of Energy, industry leaders and training personnel began meeting on improvements to training at the Gatlinburg Conference in the early 1980's.

Presenting Atucha III

Atucha I and II at right; artist's concept of Atucha III at left.  Courtesy Nucleoelectrica Argentina S.A.

Atucha I and II at right; artist's concept of Atucha III at left. RIght-most unit is Atucha I. Courtesy Nucleoelectrica Argentina S.A.

Nucleoelectrica Argentina S.A. announced in July that it had entered into a contract with China National Nuclear Corporation to build a Chinese-sourced version of the traditional Canadian CANDU reactor at its Atucha site. This 800-MWe plant will be the fourth at the site (already occupied by two Siemens pressurized heavy water reactor plants, and the just-begun CAREM Small Modular Reactor plant) and the nation's fifth nuclear plant overall (adding in the CANDU plant at Embalse.) This new unit will be Argentina's most powerful nuclear unit, topping Embalse by 200 MWe.