Diablo Canyon: What next?

July 8, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear NewsBy George Apostolakis, James Ellis, and Steven Nesbit
The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

The state of California recently and quite sensibly cracked the door back open for continued operation of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant past the current operating license expiration dates in 2024 (Unit 1) and 2025 (Unit 2). The nonprofit North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s recently released 2022 Summer Reliability Assessment highlights the risk of electricity shortages in California. Given that concern, as well as the benefits of continued Diablo Canyon operation—including much needed clean, reliable energy; good jobs; and potential for large-scale production of fresh water—another look at the shutdown decision made several years ago is clearly warranted. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) reinforced this point when she added her voice to the growing chorus of policymakers advocating extended operation for Diablo Canyon.

Groups prod G7 to support nuclear for climate, security

June 27, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News

A group of six organizations have issued a statement to world leaders currently gathered at the G7 summit in Germany that highlights nuclear energy’s strengths in addressing the current global challenges of environmental sustainability and energy security and urges additional support.

Carbon value: Lifetime extensions of nuclear reactors could save billions in climate mitigation costs

June 24, 2022, 2:49PMNuclear NewsBeth Burmahl

On the road to achieving net-zero by midcentury, low- or no-carbon energy sources that slash carbon dioxide emissions are critical weapons. Nevertheless, the role of nuclear energy—the single largest source of carbon-free electricity—remains uncertain.

Nuclear energy, which provides 20 percent of the electricity in the United States, has been a constant, reliable, carbon-free source for nearly 50 years. But our fleet of nuclear reactors is aging, with more than half of the 92 operating reactors across 29 states at or over 40 years old—the length of the original operating licenses issued to the power plants. While some reactors have been retired prematurely, there are two options for those that remain: retire them or renew their license.

Barakah-3 license issued; fuel loading starts

June 21, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News
Barakah-3 (Photo: Nawah Energy Company)

The United Arab Emirates’ Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) has issued the operating license for the Barakah nuclear plant’s Unit 3 reactor, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation announced yesterday. In addition, following receipt of the license, ENEC subsidiary Nawah Energy Company began the process of loading fuel assemblies into the unit, according to the announcement.

California climate goals easier to reach with Diablo Canyon, says study

June 14, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News

Extending the operational life of California’s Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant beyond 2025—its scheduled year of retirement—would help the state meet its climate goals more quickly, more reliably, and more cheaply than allowing the facility to close, a new study has found.

According to Retaining Diablo Canyon: Economic, Carbon, and Reliability Implications, keeping the plant on line could not only substantially reduce California’s emissions, natural gas use, and electric power costs, but also help avoid blackouts.

Bisconti survey finds record high U.S. public support for nuclear energy

June 14, 2022, 9:35AMANS Nuclear Cafe

A new survey conducted by Bisconti Research shows strong numbers for public support of nuclear energy and for the building of additional nuclear power plants in the United States. Unlike other surveys on nuclear energy, which have yielded varying results over time, the Bisconti survey—known as the National Nuclear Energy Public Opinion Survey—is the only poll that has consistently asked the same questions in the same context for the past four decades, making its findings especially noteworthy for the nuclear industry.

Westinghouse, Hyundai E&C ink nuclear projects pact

May 26, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News
The world's first AP1000 reactors to enter operation, Sanmen units 1 and 2, in China. (Image: Westinghouse Inc.)

Westinghouse Electric Company and South Korea’s Hyundai Engineering & Construction have signed an agreement to “jointly participate in global AP1000 plant opportunities,” the Pennsylvania-based nuclear technology firm announced on May 24.

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.”

Nuclear economics in a changed world

May 11, 2022, 9:30AMANS NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy

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.

Canada’s 2022 budget plan includes backing for SMRs

April 15, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

Notwithstanding the snubbing of nuclear in its recently released Green Bond Framework, the Canadian government is showing support for small modular reactors in its 2022 budget plan, which was presented to the House of Commons by the minister of finance, Chrystia Freeland, on April 7.

According to the Canadian Nuclear Association, “This is the first documented government policy that provides explicit financial support for SMRs as a key solution for climate change.”

Canadian firm enlisted to help SMR development in Estonia

April 13, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News

From left: Kalev Kallemets, chief executive officer of Fermi Energia, and James Lauritsen, managing director of Laurentis Energy Partners. (Photo: Fermi Energia)

Laurentis Energy Partners will work with Fermi Energia to support the development of small modular reactors in Estonia, the companies announced yesterday at the 2022 Canadian Nuclear Association Conference being held in Ottawa, Ontario.

A subsidiary of Ontario Power Generation (OPG), Laurentis bills itself as a provider of SMR services throughout the development life cycle, from feasibility and planning through construction, commissioning, and operations. Fermi Energia is an Estonian energy company focused on SMR development and deployment.

What they’re saying: “Building on our owner’s engineer and nuclear management experience, Laurentis is pleased to work with Fermi Energia to provide an opportunity for Estonia to confidently introduce SMRs into their energy mix,” stated Jason Van Wart, vice president of Laurentis.

Second UAE reactor starts commercial operation

March 28, 2022, 2:46PMNuclear News
Unit 2 at the UAE’s Barakah nuclear plant. (Photo: ENEC)

Unit 2 at the United Arab Emirates’ Barakah nuclear power plant has entered commercial operation, Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) announced on March 24. Unit 2 adds an additional 1,400 MW of zero-carbon emission electricity to the UAE’s national grid, bringing the total amount of electricity produced at Barakah to 2,800 MW.

U.S., Philippines agree to boost nuclear cooperation

March 28, 2022, 12:07PMNuclear News
U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security Bonnie Jenkins (left) and Philippine energy undersecretary Gerardo D. Erguiza Jr. (center) sign a memorandum of understanding on nuclear cooperation at the State Department. Looking on (right) is Philippine ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez. (Photo: Philippine Embassy, Washington, D.C.)

The United States and the Philippines recently signed a memorandum of understanding on strategic civil nuclear cooperation to help boost the development of the latter’s nuclear energy program.

Canada to fund Westinghouse microreactor technology

March 23, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
François-Philippe Champagne, Canada’s minister of innovation, Science, and Industry (center, foreground), visited Westinghouse Electric Canada’s Burlington, Ontario, facility for the March 17 announcement. (Photo: Westinghouse)

The Canadian government has announced an investment of C$27.2 million (about $21.6 million) in Westinghouse Electric Canada to support the development of the company’s eVinci microreactor technology.

François-Philippe Champagne, Canada’s minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry, made the announcement on March 17 during a visit to the company’s Burlington, Ontario, facility.

Michigan’s nuclear professionals urge Gov. Whitmer to halt premature closure of Palisades nuclear power plant

March 22, 2022, 11:56AMPress Releases

The combined Michigan and Ohio Section of the American Nuclear Society (ANS) urged Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and state lawmakers in a letter to reconsider the premature closure of the carbon-free Palisades nuclear power plant in May.

Europe’s confused climate strategy

March 18, 2022, 3:55PMNuclear NewsMatthew L. Wald

Europeans are taking resolute steps to reduce their output of climate-changing gases, but some countries are moving in the wrong direction.

Many countries are adding solar and wind, which are low-carbon energy sources. Some have moved to biomass, the value of which as a climate cure is not clear. A few are adding reactors, while others are defining nuclear as dirty energy and natural gas as “clean” and are changing their generation mix accordingly.

NICE Future: Fostering the international adoption of nuclear energy

March 11, 2022, 3:20PMNuclear NewsCory Hatch

Imagine life without refrigeration, television, clean cooking facilities, clean water, clothes washers, and electric lights. For the roughly 1 billion people around the world without access to electricity, energy poverty is a reality that drastically reduces their quality of life and economic opportunities.

At the same time, fossil fuels currently provide more than 60 percent of electricity and about 80 percent of energy worldwide, even as global carbon dioxide levels are higher than at any point in at least the past 800,000 years.

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.