Using the “New math”: Artificial intelligence and machine learning applications for the nuclear power industry

June 10, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear NewsCurtis Smith, Ahmad Al Rashdan, and Vivek Agarwal

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are helping scientists, engineers, regulators, and plant decision makers in their research and development of clean energy production to achieve a net-zero carbon footprint. While this science is new in terms of actual applications, it is fostering innovation in a variety of domains, from material discovery and qualification to advanced reactor design to supporting efficiencies in current power plants and transforming the usability of nuclear power plant control rooms.

U.S. nuclear capacity factors: A smaller fleet invested in the future

May 13, 2022, 2:59PMNuclear NewsSusan Gallier

The United States has just 93 operating power reactors at this writing. The fleet last numbered 93 in 1985, when nuclear generation topped out at 383.69 TWh, less than half of the 778.2 TWh produced in 2021.

While the 93 reactors operating today have more capacity, on average, than in 1985, most of that increased productivity is down to operational improvements that pushed the fleet’s average capacity factor from just 57.5 percent in the three-year period 1984–1986 to near 90 percent by the early 2000s.

Innovation in Fuel Reliability and Spent Fuel Cask Loading

February 18, 2022, 8:55AMSponsored ContentDominion Engineering, Inc.

Dominion Engineering, Inc. (DEI) has developed a number of innovative and cost effective tools and services designed to improve fuel reliability and spent fuel cask loading operations. This includes BNDETM fuel cleaning, which effectively removes debris from all reload fuel bundles without significantly impacting outage schedule. Smart-SipTM fuel sipping, a related activity, provides much higher fidelity leak detection capability than traditional vacuum canister sipping equipment, ensuring tight leaks are reliably identified and dispositioned during refueling outages and prior to spent fuel cask loading operations. Related industry experience is discussed further below.

The American Nuclear Society applauds passage of Illinois clean energy legislation

September 13, 2021, 2:43PMPress Releases

"The American Nuclear Society welcomes passage of legislation to secure Illinois' clean energy future by preventing the slated premature closures of Bryon and Dresden nuclear power plants. Over 4.3 gigawatts of irreplaceable carbon-free nuclear power and more than 1,500 jobs at the nuclear power plants have been saved.

A tale of three states

August 11, 2021, 2:57PMANS NewsSteven P. Nesbit

Steven P. Nesbit

Stories are unfolding (or have unfolded) in three of our key states that illustrate the challenges facing the backbone of our country’s clean, reliable electricity generation infrastructure. I write, of course, about existing nuclear power plants. On the East Coast, New York is a done deal. Indian Point-3 shut down on April 30. The state authorities are banking on offshore wind to pick up the slack. They shrug off the cost and intermittency challenges associated with deploying wind power. We’ll see.

Texas governor calls for incentivizing nuclear, gas, coal for grid reliability

July 8, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear News
Map of ERCOT over the state of Texas (Image: ERCOT)

Motivated by February’s Texas grid debacle and last month’s Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) alert pleading with residents to conserve energy, Gov. Greg Abbott earlier this week issued a letter to members of the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC), directing them to take immediate action to improve electric reliability across the state. According to the governor’s office, the directives build on reforms passed in the 87th legislative session to increase power generation capacity and ensure the reliability of the Texas power grid.

No deal yet in Illinois for Exelon nuclear plants

June 17, 2021, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Illinois Senate adjourned on June 15 without calling a comprehensive energy regulatory reform package for a vote, Capitol News Illinois reported. State Sen. Bill Cunningham (D., Chicago) and Senate president Don Harmon (D., Oak Park) said afterward that they expect a vote to happen sometime this summer as negotiations continue.

A state of uncertainty: Nuclear power in Illinois

April 30, 2021, 5:01AMNuclear NewsMichael McQueen

If there is one U.S. state you might think would be on top of the nuclear-plant-retirement problem, it’s Illinois: With 11 power reactors, more than any other state, it is number one in nuclear generating capacity. In 2019, 54 percent of its in-state generation came from nuclear power. So why, at this writing in mid-April, does Illinois still face the possibility of losing two of its nuclear plants later this year?

An open letter to Secretary Granholm

April 6, 2021, 9:09AMANS NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy

Madam Secretary:

Congratulations on becoming America’s 16th secretary of energy! Welcome to one of the most misunderstood, confounding, yet important and underappreciated agencies in the federal government.

Even the name—the U.S. Department of Energy—is misleading. Given that the majority of its funding and operational focus is dedicated in some form or another to the splitting and fusing of atoms, the DOE should probably be called the Department of Nuclear Technology and Other Energy and Science Stuff.

ANS touts benefits of nuclear energy in letter to FERC

February 18, 2021, 12:00PMANS News

The American Nuclear Society recommended that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) consider recognizing the reliability and resiliency benefits that carbon-free nuclear electricity generation provides to the bulk power system. ANS President Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar and Executive Director/CEO Craig Piercy submitted these comments in a letter during a FERC meeting on Thursday morning.

Despite current policy and economic challenges, nuclear’s future remains bright

October 1, 2020, 10:44AMNuclear NewsBryan Hanson
Byron (left) and Dresden (right) may be looking at early retirement if Springfield doesn't pass an energy package before the fall of 2021.

On August 27, I stood in front of small groups of socially distanced employees at our Dresden Generating Station in Illinois, announcing plans for the premature retirement of the nuclear facility next fall. A hundred miles away, our chief operating officer was delivering a similar, equally somber announcement to employees at the Byron Station.

Despite being among the safest, most efficient, and reliable nuclear plants in the nation, Dresden and Byron face revenue shortfalls in the hundreds of millions of dollars because of declining energy prices and market rules that allow fossil fuel plants to underbid clean merchant nuclear resources in the PJM capacity auction, even though there is broad public support for sustaining and expanding clean energy resources to address the climate crisis.