Washington State utility says, “No more wind”

An article published over the weekend in the Tacoma News Tribune reports that the Benton Public Utility District in Kennewick, Wash., is saying no to more wind farms. Even though utilities are moving to decarbonize the grid, a report from the Benton PUD says that more wind farms “will contribute very little to keeping the regional power grid reliable and will not help Benton PUD solve our seasonal energy deficit problems.”

NuScale SMR receives NRC design approval

An artist’s rendering of NuScale Power’s SMR plant. Image: NuScale

The final safety evaluation report for NuScale Power’s small modular reactor design has been issued, completing the design’s technical review and approval, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced on August 28.

The NRC will now prepare a rulemaking to certify the NuScale design. Full certification, if granted by the commissioners following the staff’s recommendation, will allow a utility to reference the design when applying for a combined license to build and operate a nuclear power plant.

The NuScale design is the first SMR to receive NRC design approval.

House committee marks up Energy and Water Development bill

The House Appropriations Committee held its full committee markup of the Energy and Water Development bill on July 13. (The Bill Report provides a more detailed funding breakdown.) The final bill passed the committee by a party line vote of 30-21. No schedule for Floor consideration of the bill has been set, but it is likely to happen next week or the week after.

Canadian province to open SMR-focused office

The government of Canada’s Saskatchewan province has unveiled plans to establish an office to coordinate nuclear policy and program work. The office, dubbed the Nuclear Secretariat, will have as its primary mission to develop and execute a strategic plan to deploy small modular reactors, according to a June 24 press release. The secretariat will be housed within the Climate Change and Adaptation Division of Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Environment.

More nuclear a good choice for U.K., but costs must fall, report says

A report published last week by Energy Systems Catapult, a U.K.-based clean energy nonprofit, concludes that adding double-digit gigawatts of new nuclear is a “low-regrets option” for the United Kingdom as it strives to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. (Legislation establishing the 2050 target date was signed in June of last year, making the United Kingdom the first of the world’s major economic powers to take that step.) The report also stresses, however, that costs for new nuclear must decrease significantly for the technology to meet its potential.

DFC plans to lift ban on nuclear plant financing

The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) has initiated a 30-day public notice and comment period on a proposed change to the agency’s Environmental and Social Policy and Procedures that would allow it to consider support for nuclear power projects, according to a June 10 press release. Currently, DFC is specifically prohibited from offering support for such projects.

Study: Advanced reactors a good fit for Puerto Rico

The Nuclear Alternative Project (NAP), a nonprofit group supporting the use of advanced reactors in Puerto Rico, has released the findings of a preliminary feasibility study undertaken to explore in detail the potential for these devices on the Caribbean island. The 288-page study, Preliminary Feasibility Study for Small Modular Reactors and Microreactors for Puerto Rico, was sponsored by the Department of Energy. The study concludes that small modular reactors and microreactors could be part of Puerto Rico’s energy portfolio and potentially supply a substantial part of a strong and diverse zero-emission energy mix.

UT, TVA to evaluate SMR development at Clinch River

The University of Tennessee (UT) and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) signed a memorandum of understanding on April 7 to evaluate the development of a new generation of cost-effective advanced nuclear reactors, such as small modular reactors (SMR), at TVA’s 935-acre Clinch River Nuclear Site in Roane County, Tenn.

Replacing Fossil with Nuclear – Five Fast Thoughts!

This week I had some considerable interaction on social media in the area of replacing fossil power at existing sites with micro reactors or SMR’s (Small Modular Reactors.) As we see real progress happening now in these exciting reactor fields (NuScale and Oklo come to mind first, but there are others!) I’d like to share five things to think about as we begin to seriously consider replacing fossil power (coal, oil) at particular sites with nuclear.

2019 - A Wish List in Nuclear Energy

Welcome to 2019!  I hope everyone who took a break enjoyed it. For those who didn't, why didn't you?  Initially, I had thoughts of trying to separate from social media and news to a significant extent during the holidays but, after conversations with Linda Zec (our wonderful ANS staff liaison for the Social Media Team, among many other things) decided that it was impractical to do so for a variety of reasons.  So, as the holiday furor ebbed and flowed and I continued, still connected, to read news and year-end summations, I found myself wishing that there wouldn't be so much frustrating news in 2019.  That's why I decided to open my eighth calendar year writing for the ANS Nuclear Cafe with a wish list, or "listicle" in the inside jargon, if you prefer.  Here, in ascending order of importance (or, I suppose, increasing order of unlikelihood) are my five wishes for this new year in nuclear energy.  (All on one screen; no annoying "next" buttons.  You're welcome.)

Update and Perspective on Small Modular Reactor Development

The US Department of Energy has a $452 million program to share development and licensing costs for selected small modular reactor (SMR) designs. The DOE's goal is to have an operating SMR by ~2022. Last November, the DOE awarded the first grant to the B&W mPowerTM reactor. In more recent news, the DOE has decided to issue a follow-on solicitation to enter a similar cost-sharing agreement with one or more other SMR vendors (and their SMR designs). The status of development and licensing for several SMR designs are summarized below.