California Republicans debut bill to save Diablo Canyon

July 15, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

Nunes

Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif.) introduced legislation last week that would keep California’s Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in operation beyond its expected 2025 closure date. Dubbed the Clean Energy Production Act (H.R. 4394), the bill was introduced July 9 and referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Cosponsoring the measure is the remainder of the Golden State’s GOP contingent to the House: Reps. Ken Calvert, Mike Garcia, Darrell Issa, Young Kim, Doug LaMalfa, Kevin McCarthy, Tom McClintock, Jay Obernolte, Michelle Steel, and David G. Valadao.

Nuclear to dominate Bulgaria’s power mix to 2030

May 18, 2021, 7:01AMNuclear News
Source: GlobalData Power Intelligence Center

Nuclear power will remain the dominant source of electricity generation in Bulgaria until 2030, despite the national government’s plans to add a substantial amount of renewable capacity this decade, says GlobalData, a U.K.-based data and analytics company. (According to a national strategy blueprint published on the Bulgarian parliament’s website last year, the country is targeting an additional 2,645 MW of installed capacity from renewable sources by the end of 2030.)

TVA and Kairos partner on demonstration reactor

May 6, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
Artist’s rendering of Kairos Power’s KP-FHR reactor. (Image: Kairos Power)

The Tennessee Valley Authority and nuclear technology and engineering company Kairos Power this morning announced plans to collaborate on the deployment of the latter’s low-power demonstration reactor, dubbed Hermes, at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) in Oak Ridge, Tenn. TVA will provide engineering, operations, and licensing support to help Kairos with deployment, according to the announcement.

Westinghouse to invest in Poland’s nuclear future

March 17, 2021, 9:29AMNuclear News

Patrick Fragman (left), president and CEO of Westinghouse, and Piotr Naimski, Poland’s secretary of state for strategic energy infrastructure, met on March 15, 2021, in Warsaw. Photo: Westinghouse

The signing last October of a bilateral agreement between the United States and Poland to cooperate on the latter’s civil nuclear power program appears to be bearing fruit. On March 15, following a meeting in Warsaw between Patrick Fragman, president and chief executive officer of Westinghouse Electric Company, and Piotr Naimski, Poland’s secretary of state for strategic energy infrastructure, Westinghouse announced its intention to invest in nuclear technologies in Poland.

The agreement, which entered into force earlier this month, calls for the United States and Poland to cooperate over the next 18 months on a report laying out a plan for implementing Poland’s nuclear power program, as well as potential financing arrangements. It also defines areas of U.S.-Polish cooperation for decades to come, including support for relevant business entities and government-led efforts ranging from regulation to research and training to supply chain development.

NRC's RIC: A clear line of sight for accident tolerant fuel deployment

March 12, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear News

To nuclear fuel suppliers, today’s operating reactors represent a defined customer base with predictable demands. Utilities must order their next fuel reload far in advance of an outage; enrichers and fabricators work to fill those orders. Adapting such a highly optimized supply chain to accommodate new products—fuels with new materials, claddings, and higher enrichments and burnups—will require alignment between all parties involved to meet the associated research, enrichment, manufacturing, regulatory, transportation, and operating experience needs.

That was the consensus during “Current Accident Tolerant Fuel Environment,” a technical session held on March 9 during the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's four-day Regulatory Information Conference (RIC, March 8-11). The session was chaired by NRC Chairman Christopher Hanson, who was taking part in his first RIC as a member of the commission.

PRA standard for Advanced Non-Light Water Reactors just issued

February 9, 2021, 7:03AMNuclear News

ANSI/ASME/ANS RA-S-1.4-2021, “Probabilistic Risk Assessment Standard for Advanced Non-Light Water Reactor Nuclear Power Plants,” has just been issued. Approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) on January 28, 2021, this joint American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)/American Nuclear Society (ANS) standard sets forth requirements for probabilistic risk assessments (PRAs) used to support risk-informed decisions for commercial nuclear power plants and prescribes a method for applying these requirements for specific applications.

ANSI/ANS-RA-S-1.4-2021 and its preview are available in the ANS Standards Store.

Framatome declares ATF test at Vogtle a success

February 8, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News

The $111.2 million in financial assistance awarded by the Department of Energy in late 2018 to nuclear fuel developers Framatome, General Electric, and Westinghouse for the development of accident tolerant fuel has yielded some encouraging results.

Framatome reports that the first 18-month fuel cycle test of its GAIA Enhanced Accident Tolerant Fuel (EATF) technology, conducted at Southern Nuclear’s Vogtle-2, has “demonstrated expected results and excellent performance.”

And last month, Westinghouse announced that the topical report on its Advanced Doped Pellet Technology fuel has been accepted for review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, calling the decision “a major achievement for the advanced fuel portfolio Westinghouse is developing.”

Proposed Czech unit won’t be built by China

February 5, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News

Czech Republic political parties have agreed to exclude China from participating in a tender to build an additional reactor at the Dukovany nuclear plant but have yet to decide whether to allow Russian participation, according to a report last week from Reuters.

Other bidders on the project, estimated to be worth some €6 billion (about $7.2 billion), include Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power of South Korea, EDF of France, and Westinghouse of the United States.

North Anna license renewal arguments to be aired

January 29, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News

An aerial view of the North Anna nuclear plant. Photo: Dominion Energy

A Nuclear Regulatory Commission Atomic Safety and Licensing Board will conduct an “oral argument” via WebEx early next month regarding a petition to hold a hearing on North Anna’s subsequent license renewal (SLR) application, the agency announced yesterday.

ASLBs conduct adjudicatory hearings on major licensing actions by the NRC. Their rulings may be appealed to the commission.

The SLR application, submitted by Dominion Energy last August, was docketed by the NRC in October. The petition objecting to it was filed in December by three antinuclear organizations—Beyond Nuclear, Sierra Club, and Alliance for Progressive Virginia.

On February 4, beginning at 2 p.m. Eastern time, the ASLB will address a rule waiver request from the groups, as well as the admissibility of their proposed contention. The board will entertain comments from representatives for the petitioners, Dominion, and NRC staff.

NRC agrees to review Westinghouse ATF topical report

January 26, 2021, 3:03PMNuclear News

Westinghouse last week announced via blog post that a topical report on its Advanced Doped Pellet Technology (ADOPT) fuel has been accepted for review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, calling the decision a “major achievement for the advanced fuel portfolio Westinghouse is developing as part of our EnCore fuel program.”

The company submitted the report in May of last year, requesting approval by February 2022. According to Westinghouse, a draft safety evaluation from the agency is expected this summer.

NRC accepts Point Beach SLR application

January 26, 2021, 7:01AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has accepted for review NextEra Energy’s subsequent license renewal (SLR) application for its Point Beach reactors, making them the fifth and sixth units currently under consideration for a second 20-year license renewal. (SLR applications for Dominion Energy’s North Anna-1 and -2 and Surry-1 and -2 are also being reviewed, while SLR approval has been granted for Exelon’s Peach Bottom and NextEra’s Turkey Point units.)

NextEra submitted the SLR application in November of last year—the first such application involving a Midwestern nuclear plant. The NRC approved the plant’s initial license renewal in December 2005, allowing Unit 1 to operate through October 5, 2030, and Unit 2 through March 8, 2033.

Fuel innovation: Powering nuclear modernization

January 18, 2021, 9:35AMNuclear NewsBen Holtzman

Today’s U.S. commercial nuclear power plants are fueled with uranium dioxide pressed into cylindrical ceramic pellets—and have been for decades. These pellets are stacked inside long fuel rods made of a zirconium alloy cladding. Innovation in nuclear fuel, however, can improve safety, reduce operating costs, and further enable the development of a new generation of non-light-water reactors.

Hitachi sunsets Horizon

January 12, 2021, 11:59AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Hitachi Ltd. plans to close Horizon Nuclear Power, its U.K. nuclear development subsidiary, early this spring, according to weekend news reports. Horizon is the firm behind Wylfa Newydd, the proposed nuclear new-build project in Wales.

On January 10, citing a story that appeared earlier that day in The Times, Yahoo reported that Hitachi will close Horizon by March 31—a move, Yahoo said, that “could scupper a sale of the [Wylfa Newydd] site, which has attracted interest from bidders, including a U.S. consortium of Bechtel, Southern Company, and Westinghouse, and dent [the] U.K.’s clean energy goals.”

However, a January 11 item on a Welsh online news service stated, “It is understood that if a sale of the site is not secured before Horizon shuts, the sale process will be continued by Hitachi.”

Baranwal departs Office of Nuclear Energy

January 8, 2021, 3:10PMNuclear News

Baranwal

Rita Baranwal, the Department of Energy’s assistant secretary for the Office of Nuclear Energy, announced today via Twitter that she will be leaving her position at the end of the day. “It has been an absolute honor to serve in this capacity to help advance our U.S. nuclear energy R&D,” she tweeted. “I plan to continue to use my talents to promote, lead, and advance our nation’s largest source of clean energy so that our nation and my family will have a cleaner and more sustainable planet to protect.”

Baranwal previously directed the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative at Idaho National Laboratory. Before joining the DOE, Baranwal served as director of technology development and application at Westinghouse. She is a Fellow of the American Nuclear Society.

ASLB established for North Anna SLR application

January 7, 2021, 6:58AMNuclear News

The North Anna nuclear power plant. Photo: Dominion Energy

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has announced the establishment of an Atomic Safety and Licensing Board to address a hearing request filed last month concerning Dominion Energy’s subsequent license renewal (SLR) application for the two reactors at its North Anna plant. The application, submitted in August of last year, was docketed by the NRC in October.

The contention: Filed by three anti-nuclear groups—Beyond Nuclear, the Sierra Club, and the Alliance for a Progressive Virginia—the 71-page hearing request argues that Dominion’s environmental report, submitted in support of its application, “fails to satisfy” the National Environmental Policy Act, as well as 10 CFR 51.53(c)(2) and 51.45(a), “because [the report] does not address the environmental impacts of operating North Anna Units 1 and 2 during the extended SLR term under the significant risk of an earthquake that exceeds the design basis for the reactors.”

Advanced reactors take center stage in Popular Mechanics

December 17, 2020, 6:59AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The January/February 2021 issue of Popular Mechanics hit subscriber mailboxes this week with a stark cover image of a single small reactor under the headline, “Tiny nuclear reactors are about to revolutionize American energy.” The story looks at advanced reactors as a pivotal step to “redeem nuclear’s stature in American energy.”

A good primer: The article does a good job introducing the casual reader to the idea that “bigger is no longer better” and that the future of nuclear power in the United States will most likely be “a combination of traditional large plants and smaller, safer megawatt reactors.”

Advanced reactors, including small modular reactors, show that nuclear is no longer a one-size-fits-all operation, the article notes. The industry now “is all about personalization,” says Ken Canavan, Westinghouse’s chief technical officer, who is quoted in the article. The capacity and scalability of SMRs “is just irreplaceable,” he adds.

The article explains that SMRs, microreactors, and other advanced reactor designs will be able to bring reliable, carbon-free power to small or remote locations, replacing fossil fuel power plants and supplementing the “resource-sucking downtimes left by renewables.”

Five advanced reactor designs get DOE risk reduction funding

December 16, 2020, 3:00PMNuclear News

The Department of Energy today announced $30 million in initial fiscal year 2020 funding—with the expectation of more over the next seven years—for five companies selected for risk reduction for future demonstration projects. The chosen reactor designs from Kairos Power, Westinghouse, BWX Technologies, Holtec, and Southern Company collectively represent a range of coolants, fuel forms, and sizes—from tiny microreactors to a molten salt reactor topping 1,000 MWe. They were selected for cost-shared partnerships under the Office of Nuclear Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) through a funding opportunity announcement issued in May 2020.

“All of these projects will put the U.S. on an accelerated timeline to domestically and globally deploy advanced nuclear reactors that will enhance safety and be affordable to construct and operate,” said Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette. “Taking leadership in advanced technology is so important to the country’s future, because nuclear energy plays such a key role in our clean energy strategy.”

U.K. sets plans for clean energy and green jobs by 2050

December 14, 2020, 2:59PMNuclear News

A 170-page energy white paper, Powering Our Net Zero Future, issued by the United Kingdom government on December 14 sets big goals for cleaning up the U.K.’s energy system. According to the U.K. government, the plan would create and support green energy jobs across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and would keep electricity bills affordable as the U.K. transitions to net zero emissions by 2050.

The white paper notes that the U.K. will generate emission-free electricity by 2050 with a trajectory that will see "overwhelmingly decarbonized power in the 2030s. Low carbon electricity will be a key enabler of our transition to a net zero economy with demand expected to double due to transport and low carbon heat."

The white paper builds upon the U.K. prime minister’s 38-page Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, which was issued on November 18.

U.S., Slovenia ink nuclear cooperation MOU

December 10, 2020, 3:01PMNuclear News

Anže Logar, Slovenia’s foreign minister (left), talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on December 7 in Washington, D.C. Photo: State Department

In the latest example of the Trump administration’s recent efforts to forge nuclear agreements with Central and Eastern European nations (for other examples, see here, here, and here), the United States earlier this week signed a memorandum of understanding concerning strategic civil nuclear cooperation (NCMOU) with Slovenia.

The NCMOU was signed on December 8 during a visit to Washington, D.C., by a Slovenian delegation headed by Foreign Minister Anže Logar. Signing it were Christopher Ford, the administration’s assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, and Jernej Vrtovec, Slovenia’s minister of infrastructure.

The previous day, Logar met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss, among other topics, “the importance of energy security and how civil nuclear cooperation can strengthen the strategic bilateral relationship,” according to a State Department readout.