No cold feet: ARPA-E wants to explore low-energy nuclear reactions

September 22, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News

The Department of Energy announced September 13 that it would spend up to $10 million in a bid to settle the question of whether low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR)—historically known as “cold fusion”—could ever become a carbon-free energy source. The funding is part of an Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) LENR Exploratory Topic designed to “encourage the submission of the most innovative and unconventional ideas in energy technology.”

ANS sponsors energy poverty panel during Clean Energy Ministerial in Pittsburgh

September 20, 2022, 9:34AMANS News

The American Nuclear Society is hosting the side event panel "Advanced Nuclear Reactors: A Possible Solution to Global Warming and Global Energy Poverty" at the Global Clean Energy Action Forum’s Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) . The event will be held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Thursday, September 22, from 1:45 to 2:45 p.m. EDT.

The event is open to all CEM participants.

NREL sees path to triple nuclear capacity by 2035, but there’s more to the story

September 19, 2022, 4:58PMNuclear News
(Photo: DOE)

Examining Supply-Side Options to Achieve 100% Clean Electricity by 2035 was written by research staff at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, so its reliance on solar and wind energy to decarbonize the grid by 2035 is not surprising. But that’s a big ask for any variable energy technology, especially if the nation’s largest source of clean power—nuclear energy—is relegated to a supporting role. Massive additions of solar and wind energy on the order of 2 TW would require a supporting infrastructure of new transmission lines, as well as batteries and hydrogen for daily and seasonal energy storage that would drive demand and capacity requirements higher.

Nearly 400 coal sites could be home to the next 250 GW of U.S. nuclear capacity

September 15, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
The Naughton coal-fired power plant near Kemmerer, Wyo., has two units set to retire in 2025 and be replaced by a TerraPower Natrium reactor. (Photo: PacifiCorp)

Nuclear power generation surpassed coal generation in the United States for the first time in 2020. As utilities continue to retire coal-fired plants, reusing the shuttered sites to host nuclear reactors could help the nation reach the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 and prove economically beneficial both for nuclear deployments and for the communities impacted by fossil fuel generation. That’s according to a Department of Energy report released this week, detailing how hundreds of U.S. coal power plant sites that have recently retired or plan to close within the decade could be suitable for new nuclear power plants. Nuclear power’s high capacity factors mean those plants could deliver an added benefit—delivering more baseload power to the grid from the nameplate capacity replacement.

Registration open for “Pittsburgh Builds the Future of Nuclear Power”

September 6, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

An upcoming event organized by North American Young Generation in Nuclear will focus on the ways Pittsburghers are contributing to innovations that will help nuclear energy meet the challenges of the clean energy transition. “Pittsburgh Builds the Future of Nuclear Power,” sponsored by Rizzo International, Westinghouse, Curtiss-Wright, SSM Industries, and Ansys, will be held at The Westin Pittsburgh on Thursday, September 22, from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. EDT.

Register now. The event is free, but space is limited, and registration is required. Visit the Eventbrite page to complete your registration.

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.”

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.

Granholm makes first visit to Idaho National Laboratory

August 4, 2022, 11:55AMNuclear News
Pictured during a tour of the EBR-II site are, from left, Robert Boston, DOE-ID manager; Rep. Mike Simpson (R., Idaho); Secretary Granholm; Director Wagner; and Marianne Walck, INL deputy laboratory director for science and technology. (Photo: INL)

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm visited Idaho National Laboratory on August 3 to meet with INL staff, including director John Wagner, as she toured key research facilities on INL’s 890-square-mile site and the lab’s campus in Idaho Falls.

Small and Advanced Reactors with Diverse Fuel Cycles Can Deliver Energy Security

July 29, 2022, 7:08AMNuclear News

Nuclear energy offers a pairing of high capacity factors and low carbon emissions unrivaled by other power sources, and advanced reactors and small modular reactors (SMRs) hold promise to deliver that power with even more efficiency and versatility. Researchers in the public and private sectors, backed by government funding through programs like the Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program and Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E), are bringing that promise closer to fulfillment by engineering solutions to open questions about advanced reactor materials and fuel cycles.

TVA seeks 5 GW of clean energy, requires availability before 2029

July 13, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
TVA's Watt Bar nuclear power plant.

As part of its strategy to achieve net-zero status by 2050, the Tennessee Valley Authority yesterday issued a request for proposals for supplying up to 5 GW of carbon-free energy that must be operational before 2029.

Nesbit, Huff among others quoted in NYT article on nuclear power

July 12, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Nesbit

Steven Nesbit, ANS’s immediate past president, is among the nuclear industry leaders quoted in a recent New York Times article about the renewed interest in nuclear power in the United States. The article explains that the challenges of meeting clean energy goals and surging electricity demands are prompting many government officials to take “a fresh look at nuclear power—both extending the life of existing reactors and building new ones.” The article also presents the views of some nuclear critics.

Much of the article focuses on the fate of California’s Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, which is currently scheduled for shutdown in 2025. Several of the state’s lawmakers who previously supported the shutdown, including Gov. Gavin Newsom and Sen. Diane Feinstein, are now considering supporting the extended life of the plant. A joint study by Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has concluded that a 10-year extension of Diablo Canyon could substantially reduce carbon emissions, lessen reliance on natural gas, cut electricity costs, and minimize the risk of brownouts.

Study: Advanced reactors could play major role in U.S. clean energy future

July 6, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News

With the proper investment and policy support, advanced nuclear energy has the potential to become a key component of a future U.S. clean energy system, a new report from Berkeley, Calif.’s, Breakthrough Institute finds.

Released this morning, the 155-page Advancing Nuclear Energy: Evaluating Deployment, Investment, and Impact in America’s Clean Energy employs “a high-resolution nationwide model of the United States electricity sector to demonstrate how advanced nuclear reactors might play a major role in a least-cost plan to transition the power grid entirely to clean energy sources by 2050, assuming that the first advanced reactors are available for deployment by 2030,” according to the executive summary.

IEA calls for major role for nuclear power in clean energy systems

July 1, 2022, 7:06AMNuclear News

Nuclear power can play a significant role in helping countries solve the twin crises of energy and climate and securely transition to future energy systems dominated by renewables, according to a new report, Nuclear Power and Secure Energy Transitions: From Today’s Challenges to Tomorrow’s Clean Energy Systems, released June 30 by the International Energy Agency (IEA). The message is clear: Nuclear power can reduce reliance on imported fossil fuels, cut carbon dioxide emissions, and stabilize electricity systems; and building sustainable and clean energy systems will be harder, riskier, and more expensive without nuclear.

Illinois consumers are saving money by keeping nuclear plants open

May 23, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Byron nuclear power plant (Photo: Constellation)

“Keeping Illinois nuclear plants open is saving some customers $237 a year on average,” reads the headline of a recent CNBC article about the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, which was passed by the Illinois legislature and signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in September 2021. The legislation includes a provision to keep Illinois nuclear power plants open to meet the state’s clean energy goals, even if the facilities are not profitable.

The Atlantic: Build what we’ve already invented

May 16, 2022, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe

“What if I told you that scientists had figured out a way to produce affordable electricity that was 99 percent safer and cleaner than coal or oil, and that this breakthrough produced even fewer emissions per gigawatt-hour than solar or wind?” That’s the question that Derek Thompson, a staff writer at The Atlantic, asks in his article, "The Forgotten Stage of Human Progress," before revealing, “The breakthrough I’m talking about is 70 years old: It’s nuclear power.”

Profile published on head of MARVEL project at Idaho National Laboratory

May 12, 2022, 7:03AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Idaho National Laboratory nuclear engineer Yasir Arafat (Photo: INL)

From refugee in Bangladesh to top nuclear engineer at Idaho National Laboratory, ANS member Yasir Arafat has led quite an interesting life, as described in a recent online profile written by Donna Kemp Spangler for the INL website. Arafat is leading the development of the Department of Energy’s Microreactor Applications Research Validation and EvaLuation (MARVEL) project at INL. The profile notes that MARVEL, which Arafat envisioned soon after joining INL in 2019, is scheduled to be “built and demonstrated at INL’s Transient Reactor Test Facility and connected to the world’s first nuclear microgrid within two years.”

Addressing the economics of clean energy

May 10, 2022, 12:01PMANS NewsSteven P. Nesbit

Steven P. Nesbit
president@ans.org

I often say that nuclear energy will play a key role in our clean energy future, and I believe that is true. However, it won’t happen automatically. There is no “divine right” behind nuclear energy. We like to admire the fascinating aspects of nuclear technology, but at the end of the day, it comes down to the money, and that’s where we stubbed our toe badly over the past two decades.

The “Nuclear Renaissance” foundered when advanced light water reactors turned out to be much more expensive than their marketing claimed, while alternatives—primarily natural gas—plummeted in price. We tend to point to impediments to nuclear technology, such as overly restrictive licensing requirements and adverse public opinion, but these matter only to the extent of their impact on the bottom line. Again, it comes down to the money.

NuScale signs MOU with Korean companies on SMR deployment in Asia

May 2, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
Kiyoun Na, chief executive officer of Doosan Enerbility’s nuclear business group; John Hopkins, president and CEO of NuScale Power; Yongsoo Huh, president and CEO of GS Energy; and Byung Soo Lee, executive vice president of Samsung C&T, signed an MOU to collaborate on NuScale SMR deployment in Asia.

Small modular reactor developer NuScale Power has signed a memorandum of understanding with three South Korean companies—Doosan Enerbility Company, GS Energy Corporation, and Samsung C&T Corporation—to explore the deployment of NuScale’s VOYGR power plants in Asia.

ANS's Earth Day webinar focused on clean energy

April 27, 2022, 7:03AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Earth Day webinar participants were (clockwise from top left) Craig Piercy, Lindsey Walter, Mikal Bøe, and Shannon Bragg-Sitton. (Image: ANS)

The American Nuclear Society hosted the webinar “Earth Day: Reflections on the Future of Clean Energy” on April 22. Expert panelists discussed the best options for achieving emissions-free objectives, including goals in energy production, industrial activities, and transportation.

IAEA webinar notes that best-paying clean energy jobs are in nuclear

April 22, 2022, 6:59AMANS Nuclear Cafe

In the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy, the highest-paying jobs will continue to be in the nuclear power industry, which provides significant and sustainable employment that benefits local and regional economies. That observation was made during a recent webinar sponsored by the International Atomic Energy Agency titled “Investing in Low Carbon Technologies: Job Creation for Just Energy Transitions.”

Representatives from the clean energy industry discussed how rising living standards and job creation around the world can be ensured as energy investments align to meet climate goals.