New head of House Appropriations’ energy panel talks nuclear

January 19, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News

Fleischmann

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R., Tenn.), a strong nuclear energy advocate (his district includes Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Y-12 National Security Complex), was named chair of the House Appropriations Committee’s Energy and Water Development Subcommittee on Monday.

“The work of the Energy and Water Subcommittee is incredibly important to our nation’s long-term energy security and national security,” Fleischmann said in a statement following his selection for the job by Appropriation’s new chairperson, Rep. Kay Granger (R., Texas). “I am excited to find bipartisan common ground to advance important initiatives like modernizing our nation’s nuclear stockpile and advancing groundbreaking nuclear fusion research.”

For more on the congressman’s views on nuclear, check out this interview published yesterday on the Knoxville News Sentinel’s website.

Holtec, GEH eye U.K. for SMR deployment

January 5, 2023, 9:31AMNuclear News
A rendering of Holtec’s SMR-160 plant. (Image: Holtec International)

Small modular reactor developers Holtec International and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) are both looking to the United Kingdom as a prime location for deployment of their units—the SMR-160 and BWRX-300, respectively.

On December 19, Holtec Britain announced that it is poised to enter the United Kingdom’s generic design assessment (GDA) process for the SMR-160 early in 2023, enabling the start of construction of the first U.K. unit as soon as 2028. (The GDA, developed by the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency, gauges the safety, security, and environmental protection aspects of a nuclear plant design. Successfully completing the assessment culminates in a design acceptance confirmation from ONR and a statement of design acceptability from the Environment Agency.)

Westinghouse inks new pact for Poland’s first reactor project

December 20, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

From left: David Durham, president of energy systems at Westinghouse, and Tomasz Stępień, president of Polskie Elektrownie Jądrowe’s management board, at the signing ceremony in Poland. (Photo: Westinghouse)

Westinghouse Electric Company and Polish utility Polskie Elektrownie Jądrowe have signed an agreement defining the main principles and path forward for Poland’s first nuclear power reactors, the companies jointly announced last week.

The agreement, signed December 15, outlines next steps for the project, including site layout, licensing and permitting support, and site development services and procurement, and establishes the framework for future project delivery contracts. Another agreement is expected to be signed by mid-2023 for the design of the facility.

Context: In October, Poland chose Westinghouse to supply the reactors for its first nuclear power plant, as the Central European nation seeks to lessen its dependence on domestic coal and Russian imports for its energy supply. Competing with Westinghouse for the job were Électricité de France and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power.

Lawmakers press DFC to invest in nuclear

December 19, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

A bipartisan group of senators sent a letter last week to Scott Nathan, chief executive officer of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), urging the agency to begin financing nuclear energy projects and support the continued development and deployment of advanced nuclear technology.

Signing the December 8 letter were Sens. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), Cory Booker (D., N.J.), Shelley Moore Capito (R., W.Va.), Ben Cardin (D., Md.), Chris Coons (D., Del.), Kevin Cramer (R., N.D.), Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska), and Jim Risch (R., Idaho).

Bill to return U.S. to a nuclear energy leadership position advances

December 16, 2022, 7:32AMNuclear News

The International Nuclear Energy Act (S. 4064), a bill aimed at developing a strategy to counter the growing influence of Russia and China on the global nuclear export market, was reported favorably out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on December 7.

The measure was introduced in April by Sens. Jim Risch (R., Idaho), the committee’s ranking member, and Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Germany’s winter to wonder “What if . . . ?”

December 13, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

Meteorological winter is here, and a chill is gripping northern Europe. Predictably, renewable generation has entered a seasonal lull and heating demand is up, despite a push to conserve natural gas, which means electricity and gas bills are up too. With a grudging nod to reality, German chancellor Olaf Scholz ensured in October that Germany’s three remaining nuclear power reactors will provide a few more months of clean, reliable power. Their premature closure, once scheduled for December 31, is now expected by April 15, 2023.

First unit at Shin-Hanul begins commercial operation

December 12, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
South Korea’s Shin-Hanul-1 (on left) and -2. (Photo: KHNP)

Unit 1 at South Korea’s Shin-Hanul nuclear power plant entered commercial operation last week, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power has announced. The 1,340-MWe APR-1400—designed by KHNP and parent firm Korea Electric Power Company—achieved initial criticality on May 22 of this year and was connected to the grid on June 9.

U.S. to assist Thailand, Philippines with nuclear energy plans

November 29, 2022, 3:10PMNuclear News
Philippine president Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and Vice President Harris meet in Manila on November 21. (Photo: Office of the Press Secretary, Republic of the Philippines)

During a recent weeklong trip to Southeast Asia aimed at bolstering U.S. economic and security ties in the region, Vice President Kamala Harris announced the launch of nuclear energy partnerships with Thailand and the Philippines.

Currently, neither country enjoys the benefits of nuclear power. Both rely primarily on some mix of petroleum, natural gas, and coal for their energy needs.

Westinghouse, Fortum strike fuel deal for Loviisa

November 28, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News
Tarik Choho, Westinghouse nuclear fuel president (left, foreground), and Simon-Erik Ollus, executive vice president of Fortum Generation, shake hands after signing the VVER-440 fuel contract, surrounded by Fortum and Westinghouse team members. (Photo: Westinghouse)

Westinghouse Electric Company and Finnish energy company Fortum have jointly announced the signing of a long-term partnership to develop, license, and supply VVER-440 fuel to Finland’s two-unit Loviisa nuclear power plant.

U.K. government reaffirms backing of Sizewell C project

November 23, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

Hunt

U.K. chancellor of the exchequer Jeremy Hunt last week assuaged any concerns that Britain’s nuclear energy advocates might have been harboring regarding the new government’s support for the proposed Sizewell C plant. (The United Kingdom is on its third prime minister since July, when Boris Johnson’s government granted EDF Energy its long-awaited development consent order for the new nuclear build project.)

What he said: In his November 17 Autumn Statement, while noting the United Kingdom’s status as “a global leader in renewable energy,” Hunt added, “We need to go further, with a major acceleration of home-grown technologies like offshore wind, carbon capture, and storage, and, above all, nuclear. This will deliver new jobs, industries, and export opportunities and secure the clean, affordable energy we need to power our future economy and reach net zero."

U.S., Ukraine launch SMR project for clean hydrogen production

November 21, 2022, 7:13AMNuclear News
U.S. special envoy for climate John Kerry at COP27. (Photo: Embassy of Ukraine in the United States of America)

U.S. special envoy for climate John Kerry and Ukraine’s minister of energy German Galushchenko have announced a two-to-three-year pilot project aimed at demonstrating the commercial-scale production of clean hydrogen and ammonia from small modular reactors in Ukraine using solid oxide electrolysis.

Lawmaker releases U.S. nuclear energy “blueprint”

November 17, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News

Duncan

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R., S.C.), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has issued a three-page “Blueprint for Nuclear Innovation and Competitiveness,” highlighting nuclear policy priorities in the areas of licensing and regulatory modernization, financing, and fuel (including used fuel). According to a press release from Duncan’s office, the document aims “to help chart the course for the nuclear energy agenda in the next Congress and facilitate policy discussions among both lawmakers and industry leaders.” Published last week—along with a related “Dear Colleague” letter—the blueprint is also, according to E&E News, “a sign of his ambitions for landing a more senior role with the committee,” including a subcommittee leadership position should the GOP gain control of the House in the next Congress.

Constellation planning license renewals for Clinton, Dresden

November 2, 2022, 9:33AMNuclear News
Constellation Energy's Clinton nuclear power plant. (Photo: NRC)

Constellation Energy, owner and operator of the nation’s largest reactor fleet, will ask the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to extend the operating licenses of the Clinton and Dresden reactors by 20 years, the company announced Monday, adding that it expects to file license applications with the agency in 2024.

OECD NEA director general presents an optimistic vision for tomorrow despite challenges of today

November 1, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Magwood

As part of the Purdue University–Duke Energy Understanding Tomorrow’s Nuclear Energy lecture series, William D. Magwood IV, director general of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), delivered a lecture on October 24 at the Purdue Memorial Union Ballrooms. “The 21st Century Nuclear Resurgence: Opportunities and Challenges” was the third lecture in the series, which focuses on small modular reactors.

Magwood reviewed the factors that have led to the current increased interest in nuclear energy around the world, the serious challenges that must be quickly and adequately addressed, and the structural barriers that require new thinking by regulators and policymakers. He also commented on the ongoing Purdue-Duke study of the feasibility of using SMRs to meet the West Lafayette campus’s long-term energy needs.

Westinghouse to build Poland’s first nuclear reactors; KHNP may get separate deal

October 31, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News

Morawiecki

Poland has chosen Westinghouse Electric Company to supply the reactors for its initial nuclear power plant, as the Central European nation seeks to lessen its dependence on domestic coal and Russian imports for its energy supply. On Friday, Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced the decision on Twitter, confirming last week’s reports that Westinghouse’s AP1000 technology was the government’s likely choice.

“A strong [Polish-American] alliance guarantees the success of our joint initiatives,” Morawiecki tweeted. “After talks with [vice president Kamala Harris and energy secretary Jennifer Granholm], we confirm our nuclear energy project will use the reliable, safe technology of [Westinghouse].”

Competing with the American firm for the job were Électricité de France and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power. In October 2021, EDF submitted an offer to build four to six EPRs in Poland, while KHNP offered in April of this year to construct six APR1400 units.

Poland hints at choice for first nuclear build; Westinghouse sues KHNP

October 25, 2022, 2:58PMNuclear News

Poland’s deputy prime minister Jacek Sasin and U.S. energy secretary Jennifer Granholm meet in Washington on October 23. (Photo: gov.pl)

Following a meeting in Washington, D.C., on Sunday with secretary of energy Jennifer Granholm, Polish deputy prime minister Jacek Sasin told reporters that his nation is close to choosing the reactor supplier for its initial nuclear plant project, adding, according to Bloomberg, “There is a big chance that we will finally pick Westinghouse.”

And in a news release on the meeting from the Polish government, Sasin is quoted as saying, “The massive energy crisis that is currently affecting us means that we must quickly make decisions on building the country’s energy security based on new, clean, cheap, and reliable sources, and such a source is nuclear energy. We want the decisive decisions to be made as soon as possible. That is why we asked [Granholm] for a meeting, during which we will clarify all the issues that remain to be clarified.”