Report examines nuclear’s 2023 developments, 2024 trends

February 6, 2024, 7:01AMANS Nuclear Cafe

A new report, A New Nuclear Age: How 2023 Developments Will Impact the Industry in 2024, has been released by Morgan Lewis, a global corporation that provides litigation, corporate, labor and employment, and intellectual property services. Morgan Lewis’s energy specialist attorneys, who compiled the report, reviewed recent developments in rules and guidance from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Department of Energy that have impacted various aspects of the nuclear energy industry. Covered areas include cybersecurity, small modular reactors, advanced reactors, sustainability, export controls, plant decommissioning, microreactors, and fusion systems. Also considered in the report are potential future developments that may further affect the nuclear industry this year.

Framatome extends partnership with Slovakia’s nuclear operator

June 6, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News
From left, Framatome’s CEO Bernard Fontana shakes hands with Slovenské Elektrárne’s CEO Branislav Strýček following the signing of an MOU. Also pictured is first vice chairman of Slovenské Elektrárne’s board of directors, Michele Bologna.

Slovakia’s Slovenské Elektrárne—operator of the nation’s two nuclear power plants, Bohunice and Mochovce—and France’s Framatome have signed a memorandum of understanding for the development of a global strategic relationship, the companies announced last week.

NuScale/Paragon agreement offers reactor protection system to broader industry

July 15, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News
Rendering of a VOYGR plant. (Image: NuScale)

NuScale Power and Paragon Energy Solutions have signed a patent license agreement that will make NuScale’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission–approved reactor protection system architecture available to the broader nuclear industry, the two companies announced on July 12.

Known as the Highly Integrated Protection System (HIPS) platform, the system was developed by NuScale and Rock Creek Innovations (RCI), a hardware supplier of commercial nuclear protections systems, over six years of collaboration that began in 2010. Paragon, a supplier of safety-related parts and components, acquired RCI in December 2021.

NRC reactor assessments: All but two units in top performance category

March 15, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission offered an overall reassuring message last week regarding the performance of the nation’s commercial reactors in 2021.

“The work of the nuclear power plant operators for almost every reactor fully meets our stringent safety and security performance objectives,” said Andrea Veil, director of the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation. “Yet even those high-performing units will undergo thousands of inspection hours this year under our normal ‘baseline’ inspection program.”

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.

DOE seeks stakeholder input on energy supply chains

December 6, 2021, 7:01AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy issued a request for information (RFI) last week in response to President Biden’s February 24 executive order directing it to submit a report on supply chains for the energy sector industrial base within one year.

According to the order, the United States requires supply chains that are “resilient,” meaning “secure and diverse—facilitating greater domestic production, a range of supply, built-in redundancies, adequate stockpiles, safe and secure digital networks, and a world-class American manufacturing base and workforce.”

How should PRA adapt to a changing landscape?

October 27, 2021, 12:10PMNuclear NewsKatrina Groth

Probabilistic risk assessment has been around for over 40 years, helping us understand the amazing, complex engineering systems we design, build, and operate. It’s a powerful tool, but the time has come to consider how we can modernize it. There are important gaps in PRA, including in areas such as human reliability, dynamics, natural hazards, and cybersecurity. However, there are three things that are even more important to do:

Grid cybersecurity bill reintroduced in Senate

May 4, 2021, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Murkowski

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska) last week reintroduced legislation from 2019 to enhance the security of the U.S. electric grid. According to Murkowski, the Protecting Resources on the Electric Grid with Cybersecurity Technology (PROTECT) Act would enhance electric grid security by incentivizing electric utilities to make cybersecurity investments.

Introduced in the Senate on April 28 as S. 1400, the bill would also establish a Department of Energy grant and technical assistance program to deploy advanced cybersecurity technology for utilities that are not regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Cosponsors of the PROTECT Act include Sens. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), Jim Risch (R., Idaho), Angus King (I., Maine), and Jacky Rosen (D., Nev.).

DOE kicks off cybersecurity plan, seeks stakeholder input

April 26, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News

The Biden administration has launched an initiative to enhance the cybersecurity of U.S. electric utilities’ industrial control systems (ICS) and secure the nation’s energy sector supply chain, the Department of Energy announced on April 20. The 100-day plan is a coordinated effort between the DOE, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and the electricity industry.

Online registration opens for virtual NRC conference

February 10, 2021, 7:03AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has opened registration for its annual Regulatory Information Conference (RIC), the largest public meeting the agency hosts. Scheduled for March 8–11, the 33rd RIC will be an all-virtual event.

The full conference program and registration information can be accessed from the RIC Web page.

Details: In addition to remarks from the NRC commissioners and the executive director of operations, RIC 2021 will feature two special plenary sessions, including one in recognition of the 10th anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, and 28 technical sessions covering a wide range of topics, such as advanced reactors, accident tolerant fuel, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, microreactors, and risk-informed decision making.

Ex-Im Bank, Poland sign MOU on U.S. energy investment

December 21, 2020, 7:01AMNuclear News

Polish Minister of Climate and Environment Michał Kurtyka (left) and Ex-Im Chairman Kimberly Reed sign an MOU on U.S. energy investment in Poland on December 11. Photo: EXIM

In another sign of U.S. interest in helping Poland develop a civil nuclear power program, the Export-Import Bank of the United States announced last week that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Polish government to promote U.S. energy investment in the Central European nation. (For an earlier agreement, see here.)

The MOU was signed in Warsaw on December 11 by Ex-Im president and chairman, Kimberly A. Reed, and Poland’s minister of climate and environment, Michał Kurtyka, during Reed’s three-day visit to Poland.

The Ex-Im: As the official export credit agency of the United States, Ex-Im provides loans, loan guarantees, and insurance to foreign customers purchasing U.S. exports.

The MOU particulars: The MOU calls for Ex-Im and Poland to “explore and identify potential opportunities for Ex-Im financing and to work together to promote business development opportunities related to strategic energy projects and programs,” according to Ex-Im’s announcement. The agreement includes, but is not limited to, support for projects in nuclear energy, in particular in support of strategic projects under Poland’s nuclear power program, low- and zero-emission technologies, clean energy innovation, and critical energy infrastructure, including cybersecurity solutions.

NNSA reportedly hacked as part of “extensive espionage operation”

December 18, 2020, 9:30AMNuclear News

In an exclusive story published yesterday, the news website Politico reports that networks of the National Nuclear Security Administration and other federal entities have been hacked “as part of an extensive espionage operation.”

Citing officials familiar with the matter, the story says that network breaches have been identified at the NNSA’s Office of Secure Transportation (which is responsible for the transport of government-owned special nuclear materials), Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, the Department of Energy’s Richland Field Office, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

According to the story, the hackers are believed to have gained access to the networks “by compromising the software company SolarWinds, which sells IT management products to hundreds of government and private-sector clients.”

Measures to bolster cybersecurity in energy sector approved by House

October 2, 2020, 7:15AMNuclear News

The House of Representatives on September 29 unanimously passed three bills aimed at strengthening the cybersecurity of the U.S. electric grid and other energy infrastructure. The legislation now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Report: Utilities need greater access to grid threat information

August 17, 2020, 3:14PMNuclear News

The National Commission on Grid Resilience (NCGR) has released a report recommending a series of actions to better address threats to the bulk power system in the United States. While noting that “substantial progress has been made in a short time” toward improving grid resilience, the report declares that “more needs to be done, and in record time.”

Looking Back: A Brief History of CONTE

January 2, 2019, 2:37AMANS Nuclear CafeDr. Jane LeClair

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.