U.K. endorses nuclear for green hydrogen future

Nuclear power could produce as much as one-third of the United Kingdom’s clean hydrogen needs by 2050, posits the Hydrogen Roadmap, a 12-page report recently approved by the Nuclear Industry Council (NIC) and released last week by the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA).

The NIC, co-chaired by the British government’s minister for business, energy, and clean growth, and the chairman of the NIA, sets strategic priorities for government-industry collaboration to promote nuclear power in the United Kingdom.

The road to net zero: The report outlines how large-scale and small modular reactors could produce both the power and the heat necessary to produce emissions-free, or “green,” hydrogen. Existing large-scale reactors, it says, could produce green hydrogen today at scale through electrolysis, as could the next generation of gigawatt-scale reactors. Also, according to the report, SMRs, the first unit of which could be deployed within the next 10 years, could unlock possibilities for green hydrogen production near industrial clusters.

Canadian survey reveals solid support for nuclear investment

A new survey exploring the attitudes of Canadians toward climate change and their expectations and level of support for government intervention to tackle the issue finds that 86 percent believe that Canada should invest in clean technologies, including renewables and nuclear energy.

The survey, conducted by research and strategy firm Abacus Data between January 29 and February 3, was commissioned by the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA).

CNA says: “It’s clear there is strong support for the government to implement a mix of solutions to address the [climate change] challenge, including investing in renewables and clean nuclear technologies,” stated John Gorman, CNA president and chief executive officer, in a February 18 press release. “We continue to see that the more understanding Canadians have, the more they support zero-emissions nuclear technologies to help reach our net zero 2050 goal. This includes investment in small modular reactors, which Canadians believe bring value to replace carbon-based fuels with clean electricity, decarbonize high-emissions industries, and transition remote communities away from reliance on diesel.”

Canada unveils ambitious plan for SMRs

Declaring small modular reactors to be “the next innovation that will help us reach net-zero emissions by 2050,” Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan last week introduced his government’s SMR Action Plan at a virtual event live-streamed on YouTube.

Japan should revive its nuclear industry, says new report

The Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center has issued a report, Japan’s Nuclear Reactor Fleet: The Geopolitical and Climate Implications of Accelerated Decommissioning, contending that Japan’s reaction to the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident has led to an increased dependence on carbon-emitting energy sources that ultimately undermine the country’s recently announced climate goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Recommendations: Released just a few months prior to the 10-year anniversary of the accident on March 11, 2011, the report recommends that Japan:

  • Use its existing nuclear fleet in the near and long term to 2050,
  • remain involved in global civil nuclear trade,
  • develop a role for advanced nuclear technologies, including small modular reactors, which it should deploy as soon as feasible,
  • rebuild its nuclear energy workforce and public trust in nuclear power, and
  • regain its leadership position in the climate battle.

Nuclear scores point in U.K. green plan

The United Kingdom, the first of the world’s major economies to adopt a legally binding commitment to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, has released a blueprint to help realize that goal—one that includes a substantial role for nuclear energy

The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution will mobilize a total of £12 billion (about $16 billion) of government investment to create and support up to 250,000 highly skilled green jobs in the United Kingdom and spur over three times as much private sector investment by 2030, according to the UK government on November 18.

In addition to nuclear, offshore wind, hydrogen production, carbon capture, and vehicle electrification are also earmarked for significant investment in the 38-page document.

Bruce Power unveils net zero by 2050 strategy

The Bruce nuclear power plant. Photo: Bruce Power

Speaking last week at a virtual event of the Empire Club of Canada, Bruce Power president and chief executive officer Mike Rencheck announced “NZ-2050”—the company’s strategy for helping Canada achieve its stated goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.

Canada’s only private sector nuclear generator, Bruce Power operates the Bruce Nuclear Generation Station, located in Kincardine, Ontario. The plant houses eight units, all CANDU pressurized heavy-water reactors, with a total output of 6,288 MWe.

Nuclear plays key role in new jobs recovery plan

A recently published paper on clean energy policy for economic recovery calls for the preservation of the current U.S. nuclear reactor fleet and the deployment of advanced nuclear technologies.

The paper, Energy Transitions: The Framework for Good Jobs in a Low-Carbon Future, was released last week by the Labor Energy Partnership (LEP), formed earlier this year by the Washington, D.C.–based nonprofit Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) and the AFL-CIO. According to a joint press release from the two organizations, the LEP was established to “develop policy solutions for a 21st century energy system that creates and preserves quality jobs while tackling the climate crisis.”

The LEP is jointly chaired by Ernest Moniz, founder and chief executive officer of EFI and former U.S. energy secretary, and Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO.

Entergy takes net-zero pledge, teams with Mitsubishi to decarbonize with hydrogen

Paul Browning, Mitsubishi Power, and Paul Hinnenkamp, Entergy, sign the joint agreement on September 23. Photo: Entergy

New Orleans–based Entergy Corporation last week announced a commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, joining a growing list of major energy companies to make that promise—including Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Southern Company, Xcel Energy, and Public Service Enterprise Group. And, like those companies, Entergy says that it sees nuclear playing an important role in the realization of that goal.

Ameren signs up for net zero, plans to extend Callaway operation

Ameren Corporation has announced the establishment of a goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 across all of its operations in Missouri and Illinois, according to a recent news release from the company.

This goal is included in subsidiary Ameren Missouri’s latest integrated resource plan (IRP), filed on September 28 with the Missouri Public Service Commission. (In Ameren Missouri’s 2017 IRP, carbon emissions were to be reduced 80 percent from 2005 levels by 2050.)

Second license renewal application filed for North Anna

North Anna nuclear power plant. Photo: Dominion Energy

Dominion Energy has filed an application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to renew the North Anna nuclear power plant’s reactor operating licenses for additional 20-year terms, the Richmond, Va.–based utility announced on September 4. The NRC received the application on August 24.

North Anna, located in Mineral, Va., is home to twin 973-MWe three-loop Westinghouse pressurized water reactors. The filing makes the plant the second nuclear facility in the state to seek subsequent license renewal, after Dominion's filing in 2018 of a similar application to renew the licenses of its two Surry units—twin 874-MWe reactors. The NRC is currently reviewing that application.

(Following its April 2020 meeting, the NRC’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards issued a report recommending approval of the Surry SLR applications [NN, June 2020, p. 15].)

According to Dominion, the North Anna and Surry units produce 31 percent of the electricity for the company’s 2.5 million customers and 95 percent of the carbon-free electricity in Virginia.

Duke companies include advanced nuclear in plans to speed carbon reduction

Duke Energy Progress and Duke Energy Carolinas have filed their 2020 Integrated Resource Plans (IRPs) with state regulators, parent company Duke Energy announced September 1.

The plans outline a range of options to achieve varying levels of carbon reduction, including, for the first time, potential pathways to achieve up to 70 percent carbon-emission reduction through policy and technology advancements.

Aggressive carbon-reduction targets are attainable, the company said, with investments in solar, wind, and energy storage, as well as with advanced nuclear, offshore wind, and other technologies “as they become available.” (Last September, Duke Energy declared its intention to seek subsequent license renewal for the 11 reactors it operates in six nuclear plants in the Carolinas [NN, Oct. 2019, p. 9].)

Hunterston B Unit 3 to restart soon; plant to retire earlier than expected

Workers on the fueling machine at Hunterston B. Photo: EDF Energy

EDF Energy has received approval from the United Kingdom’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) to restart the Hunterston B power station’s Unit 3 for a limited run, according to August 27 announcements from both the company and the regulator. EDF has permission to operate the unit for up to 16.425 terawatt days (approximately six months of operation), the ONR said.

EDF also announced that Hunterston B—located in North Ayrshire, along the western coast of Scotland—will begin its defueling phase no later than January 7, 2022, more than a year earlier than the expected retirement date of March 2023. The decision, EDF said, was made following a series of executive board and shareholders meetings.

Dems’ climate action plan makes room for nuclear

House Democrats on June 30 rolled out a vision of what U.S. climate change policy might look like in the event the Democratic party holds its current House majority, retakes the Senate, and wins the White House in November. The vision was presented in the form of a sweeping 547-page majority staff report entitled Solving the Climate Crisis: The Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy and a Healthy, Resilient, and Just America.