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.

NuScale signs MOU with Korean companies on SMR deployment in Asia

May 2, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
Kiyoun Na, chief executive officer of Doosan Enerbility’s nuclear business group; John Hopkins, president and CEO of NuScale Power; Yongsoo Huh, president and CEO of GS Energy; and Byung Soo Lee, executive vice president of Samsung C&T, signed an MOU to collaborate on NuScale SMR deployment in Asia.

Small modular reactor developer NuScale Power has signed a memorandum of understanding with three South Korean companies—Doosan Enerbility Company, GS Energy Corporation, and Samsung C&T Corporation—to explore the deployment of NuScale’s VOYGR power plants in Asia.

Europe’s confused climate strategy

March 18, 2022, 3:55PMNuclear NewsMatthew L. Wald

Europeans are taking resolute steps to reduce their output of climate-changing gases, but some countries are moving in the wrong direction.

Many countries are adding solar and wind, which are low-carbon energy sources. Some have moved to biomass, the value of which as a climate cure is not clear. A few are adding reactors, while others are defining nuclear as dirty energy and natural gas as “clean” and are changing their generation mix accordingly.

SLO county board supports life extension for Diablo Canyon

February 17, 2022, 12:04PMNuclear News
The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors earlier this week endorsed extending the life of Diablo Canyon—California’s last operating nuclear power facility—which owner and operator Pacific Gas and Electric Company has scheduled for permanent closure in 2025. The two-unit, 2,289-MWe plant is located in San Luis Obispo County, near Avila Beach.

Hunterston B plant closes with Unit B2 shutdown

January 10, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

Hunterston B worker in the Charge Hall, November 2021. (Photo: EDF Energy)

The Hunterston B nuclear power plant has ended its nearly 46 years of zero-carbon electricity generation for Scotland with the shutdown of Unit B2. The 495-MWe advanced gas-cooled reactor (AGR), which began commercial operation in March 1977, was taken off line on January 7. The station’s companion unit, the 490-MWe AGR B1, was shut down last November.

Under an agreement with the U.K. government signed on June 23, 2021, EDF Energy, owner and operator of Britain’s power reactor fleet, is responsible for defueling all seven of the U.K.’s AGR nuclear stations over this decade. (The agreement does not include Sizewell B, which houses a 1,098-MWe pressurized water reactor slated to continue operating until at least 2035, or Hinkley Point C, which is currently under construction.) EDF expects the defueling of the AGR facilities to take from three-and-a-half to five years.

Scheduled to follow Hunterston B into the defueling phase by July of this year is the two-unit Hinkley Point B plant in Somerset, England.

U.K. presents plan for hydrogen economy

August 27, 2021, 7:02AMNuclear News

The U.K. government last week announced the release of its UK Hydrogen Strategy, predicting thousands of jobs and billions of pounds in investment and export opportunities over the coming decades via the creation of a low-carbon hydrogen sector in Britain.

A flourishing, U.K.-wide hydrogen economy could be worth £900 million (about $1.2 billion) and create over 9,000 high-quality jobs by 2030, according to the government, potentially rising to 100,000 jobs and worth up to £13 billion (about $18 billion) by 2050.

Nine Mile Point picked for hydrogen demonstration project

August 20, 2021, 4:08PMNuclear News
Nine Mile Point (Photo: Constellation Energy)

Exelon Generation has received a grant from the Department of Energy to explore the potential benefits of on-site hydrogen production and has chosen its Nine Mile Point nuclear power plant as the demonstration site, the company announced on Wednesday. (In 2019, Exelon received a conditional commitment from the DOE to co-fund a hydrogen electrolyzer demonstration at a nuclear plant.) Located in Scriba, N.Y., Nine Mile Point consists of two boiling water reactors—the 620-MWe Unit 1 and the 1,287-MWe Unit 2.

Statement from President Steven Nesbit and Executive Director & CEO Craig Piercy, American Nuclear Society

August 3, 2021, 2:41PMPress Releases

The American Nuclear Society welcomes the introduction of H.R. 4819, or the National Nuclear University Research Infrastructure Reinvestment Act of 2021, which aims to boost the educational and research capabilities of our universities’ nuclear science and engineering programs. Strengthening our universities' nuclear education and research is vital to preserving and expanding America’s largest carbon-free energy source as well as saving and prolonging healthy lives through the use of medical isotopes.

U.S. power sector emissions drop in 2020

July 26, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News

Carbon dioxide emissions from the U.S. power sector fell 10 percent between 2019 and 2020, according to the 17th and latest edition of Benchmarking Air Emissions of the 100 Largest Electric Power Producers in the United States, which was released last week. The drop is the largest year-over-year decrease in greenhouse gas emissions since the initial report was issued in 1997. Further, CO2 emissions are shown to be down 20 percent from 1990 levels and 40 percent from their 2007 peak.

The 48-page analysis—which combines generation and fuel consumption data from the Energy Information Administration with emissions data on CO2, sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and mercury from the Environmental Protection Agency—was authored by M.J. Bradley & Associates, a consulting firm focused on energy and environmental issues. Listed as “contributors” to the report are Bank of America, the nonprofit organization Ceres, energy producers Entergy and Exelon, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

A Statement from Craig Piercy, CEO and Executive Director of the American Nuclear Society on President Biden’s FY22 budget request

June 3, 2021, 8:10AMPress Releases

"The American Nuclear Society welcomes the release of President Biden’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget request. As the scientific and professional organization for over 10,000 nuclear engineers and technologists in the U.S., we applaud the administration’s support for federal investments in advanced nuclear energy and tax credit mechanisms for our existing fleet of carbon-free nuclear power plants.

Report: Existing and advanced nuclear best for meeting Illinois’s climate goals

May 18, 2021, 12:10PMNuclear News

Among the 12 energy-mix scenarios analyzed in a new report from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, maintaining the current Illinois reactor fleet while also investing in advanced nuclear technology and renewable energy is the most economical path to zero carbon for the state. It is also, says the report, the path that generates the lowest lifecycle carbon emissions.

The 26-page report, Economic and Carbon Impacts of Potential Illinois Nuclear Plant Closures: The Cost of Closures, was coauthored by Kathryn Huff, who was recently appointed principal deputy assistant secretary for nuclear energy at the Department of Energy, along with Madicken Munk, a research scientist in the university’s Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering (NPRE) Department, and Sam Dotson, a graduate researcher in NPRE’s Advanced Reactors and Fuel Cycle Analysis group. Financial support for the report was provided by Nuclear Matters.

SLR approved for Surry reactors

May 6, 2021, 7:01AMNuclear News
The Surry nuclear power plant, near Surry, Va. Photo: Dominion Energy

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved Dominion Energy’s application to renew the Surry nuclear power plant’s operating licenses for an additional 20 years. The renewed licenses authorize the extension of reactor operation at the two-unit plant from 60 to 80 years.

Indian Point closes today, ending some 60 years of clean power generation

April 30, 2021, 9:29AMNuclear News
Indian Point-3’s turbine hall and generator. Photo: Entergy

The disturbingly long list of U.S. nuclear plants prematurely closed in recent years will get even longer tonight when the last reactor at the Indian Point Energy Center, Unit 3, powers down for the final time. The shutdown, scheduled for 11 p.m. local time, will mark the end of nearly 60 years of zero-carbon electricity generation at the Buchanan, N.Y., facility.