Power & Operations


Latest delay to Vogtle project may not be the last

December 8, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
Vogtle Units 3 (in foreground) and 4, in November. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Georgia Power has revised the projected commercial operation dates for Vogtle-3 and -4 a total of four times this year—most recently in October—but some experts are saying that at least one more delay is probable.

HTGR locked in for U.K. demonstration project

December 7, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

Hands

The U.K. government has confirmed its selection of the high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) for Britain’s £170 million (about $236 million) Advanced Modular Reactor Demonstration Program.

Greg Hands, minister for energy, clean growth, and climate change, delivered the news on December 2 via a speech at the Nuclear Industry Association’s annual conference. “Following evaluation of responses received,” Hands said, “I’m pleased to announce today that we will focus on HTGRs as the technology choice for the program moving forward—with the ambition for this to lead to a demonstration by the early 2030s.”

NNL approved: “As we look to the future and the part we play as a scientific superpower, the U.K.’s unparalleled experience in gas-cooled technologies makes HTGRs the common-sense choice for pursuing advanced nuclear,” said Paul Howarth, chief executive officer at the United Kingdom’s National Nuclear Laboratory. “Following announcements already made on financing for the next stage of the Rolls-Royce SMR program and the proposed Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill to make large-scale plants more achievable, the U.K. is primed once more to be a global leader in nuclear technologies—large, small, and advanced.”

First Hunterston reactor shuttered

December 3, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
The Hunterston B nuclear power station in 2018. (Photo: Thomas Nugent/CC BY-SA 2.0)

Unit B1 at Scotland’s two-unit Hunterston B nuclear power plant was taken off line for good on November 26 after nearly 46 years of operation. A 490-MWe advanced gas-cooled reactor, the unit entered commercial operation in June 1976. Its companion AGR, Unit B2, which entered operation in March 1977, is scheduled for retirement in January.

GE Hitachi SMR chosen for Darlington project

December 3, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News
Artist’s rendering of a BWRX-300 plant. (Photo: GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy)

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has selected GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) as its technology partner for the Darlington nuclear new-build project. The companies will work to deploy GEH’s BWRX-300 small modular reactor at OPG’s Darlington nuclear plant, located in Clarington, Ontario.

What is the role of a control room supervisor during a refueling outage?

December 1, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear NewsGuest Contributor

Outage time at a nuclear power plant comes with a unique set of challenges for licensed personnel. A primary responsibility for control room supervisors in any mode of operation is to maintain control of the plant configuration, which during an outage requires an all-hands-on-deck approach. Considering what is involved in taking the plant apart, upgrading plant equipment, performing once-per-cycle inspections and preventative maintenance, testing safety system functionality, and loading the next core, it’s clear why so much emphasis is placed on outage performance.

Study: New U.K. nuclear likely to be lower carbon source than solar or wind

November 30, 2021, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

A recent study of life cycle carbon emissions at the United Kingdom’s Hinkley Point C nuclear plant finds that the facility, now under construction in Somerset, England, is likely to produce less CO2 over its lifetime than either solar or wind power.

According to the 70-page analysis—prepared by environmental consultancy Ricardo Energy & Environment for NNB Generation Company HPC Limited, the holding company for the Hinkley Point project—lifetime emissions from Hinkley Point C are likely to be about 5.5g CO2e per kWh. That amount also holds for the proposed Sizewell C plant, the study concludes. (The two 1,630-MWe EPRs at Hinkley Point C are currently scheduled to begin commercial operation in 2026 and 2027.)

DOE awards $8.5 million to fund advanced nuclear projects

November 29, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News

In its latest financial nod of encouragement to the U.S. nuclear industry, the Department of Energy has announced awards totaling $8.5 million to five industry-led projects, with the aim of accelerating the commercial deployment of advanced reactors and fuels.

The awards are funded via the Office of Nuclear Energy’s U.S. Industry Opportunities for Advanced Nuclear Technology Development funding opportunity, which, since 2017, has invested more than $215 million in advanced nuclear technologies. Solicitations are broken down into three pathways: first-of-a-kind nuclear demonstration readiness projects, advanced reactor development projects, and direct regulatory assistance.

NRC heightens oversight at Vogtle-3 project

November 29, 2021, 12:02PMNuclear News
The Vogtle-3 turbine building (left) and containment (right) in October. (Photo: Georgia Power)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will increase its oversight of Vogtle-3—one of the two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors under construction at the Vogtle nuclear power plant in Waynesboro, Ga.—after finalizing two inspection findings involving the unit’s safety-related electrical cable raceway system. Vogtle’s operator, Southern Nuclear, was informed of the decision in a November 17 letter.

The agency had launched a special inspection at Vogtle-3 in June of this year to determine the cause and extent of construction quality issues in the raceway system, which consists primarily of conduits and cable trays designed to prevent a single event from disabling redundant safety-related equipment.

Becoming agile and innovative in an evolving nuclear landscape: Changing the industry narrative for a strong future

November 29, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear NewsGleb Tsipursky
Diablo Canyon nuclear plant. (Photo: PG&E)

Last April, Entergy had to close its Indian Point nuclear plant. That’s despite the plant’s being recognized as one of the best-run U.S. nuclear plants. That’s also despite its 20-year license extension process having been nearly completed, with full support from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

This closure was due in large part to opposition by antinuclear environmental groups. These groups also mobilized existing negative public opinion on nuclear energy to get politicians to oppose the plant’s license extension. Another factor is unfair market conditions. Nuclear energy doesn’t get due government support—unlike solar, wind, and hydro—despite delivering clean, zero-emissions energy.

The American Nuclear Society supports keeping Diablo Canyon open

November 24, 2021, 11:08AMPress Releases
A whale swims off the coast by Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. (Image: PG&E)

The American Nuclear Society supports the continued operation of California's Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. The premature shutdown of Diablo Canyon units 1 and 2, slated respectively in November 2024 and August 2025, will inflict grave harm to California's economy and environment.

Power uprate approved for Millstone’s Unit 3

November 24, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News
Millstone nuclear power plant

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has granted Dominion Energy’s request for an increase in the generating capacity of Millstone-3. The Richmond, Va.–based utility had applied for the power uprate last November, requesting an increase of approximately 1.6 percent.

NRC staff determined that Dominion could safely increase the reactor’s heat output, primarily through more accurate means of measuring feedwater flow, according to a November 18 press release. The NRC’s safety evaluation focused on several areas, including the nuclear steam supply systems, instrumentation and control systems, electrical systems, accident evaluations, radiological consequences, fire protection, operations and training, testing, and technical specification changes.

Contract signed for first AP1000 unit in Ukraine

November 23, 2021, 12:28PMNuclear News
Westinghouse president and CEO Patrick Fragman and Energoatom president Petro Kotin sign a contract for the first AP1000 in Ukraine. They are joined by U.S. charge d’affaires to Ukraine Kristina Kvien and Ukraine energy minister Herman Halushchenko. (Photo: Westinghouse)

Westinghouse Electric Company and Energoatom, Ukraine’s state-owned nuclear utility, signed a contract in Kyiv yesterday outlining the details of an agreement to bring the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor to Ukraine’s Khmelnitsky nuclear power plant.

According to a Westinghouse press release, the contract initiates engineering and procurement of long-lead items for the reactor.

Signing the contract were Patrick Fragman, president and chief executive officer of Westinghouse, and Petro Kotin, Energoatom’s acting president. U.S. charge d’affaires to Ukraine, Kristina Kvien, and Ukraine energy minister Herman Halushchenko also attended the event.

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Ukraine to review NuScale safety analysis report

November 23, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News

The Department of Energy is funding an independent review of NuScale Power’s safety analysis report (SAR), to be conducted by Ukraine’s State Scientific and Technical Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety (SSTC NRS), the Portland, Ore.–based small modular reactor developer announced on November 18.

“Any party interested in deploying an SMR in Ukraine will benefit from this independent review,” NuScale said. “This review will demonstrate the viability, value, and international interest in utilizing NuScale’s SMR technology to produce clean, reliable, and affordable energy.”

Ukraine to review NuScale safety analysis report

November 23, 2021, 6:59AMNuclear News
A screenshot from NuScale's latest video about three current research facilities. (Image: NuScale)

The Department of Energy is funding an independent review of NuScale Power’s safety analysis report (SAR), to be conducted by Ukraine’s State Scientific and Technical Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety (SSTC NRS), the Portland, Ore.–based small modular reactor developer announced on November 18.

NRC issues key safety report on Kairos reactor

November 22, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear News
Artistic rendering of the Hermes low-power demonstration reactor, a scaled-down demo of the KP-FHR. (Image: Kairos Power)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently issued a draft safety evaluation report indicating initial acceptance of Kairos Power’s source term methodology for its fluoride salt–cooled high-temperature reactor (KP-FHR).

Former NRC chairman Allison Macfarlane—nuclear agnostic or opponent?

November 17, 2021, 3:02PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Nordhaus

Macfarlane

As noted by Newswire yesterday, former Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman Allison Macfarlane describes herself as “agnostic” on the subject of nuclear energy. In the view of some, however, there is a more accurate way to describe Macfarlane’s nuclear stance.

In a November 15 blog post, Breakthrough Institute cofounder Ted Nordhaus suggests that Macfarlane can be considered a face of the modern antinuclear movement, the typical representative of which, he says, is not “a hippie with a No Nukes sign,” but rather “a highly credentialed progressive policy wonk, a lawyer, or academic, or journalist, who often claims not to be opposed to nuclear energy at all.”

Former NRC chairman talks nuclear with Al Jazeera

November 16, 2021, 12:14PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Sabga

Macfarlane

In an interview with Al Jazeera Digital, former Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman and self-proclaimed nuclear agnostic Allison Macfarlane said that untested advanced reactor designs and the high cost of building new power plants will limit nuclear’s ability to play a critical role in fighting the climate crisis, at least in the near future.

“Almost 19 percent of the power [in the United States] right now is produced by nuclear power. That’s carbon free. That’s really helpful. We don’t want to shut that off,” Macfarlane told Al Jazeera Digital’s managing business editor Patricia Sabga. “But I live in a pragmatic, realistic world. And I don’t think, at least in the next 10 or 20 years, that nuclear power will be able to have a big impact on reducing carbon emissions because we can’t build new plants fast enough.”

China’s HTR-PM demonstration project advances

November 16, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News

A rendition of the HTR-PM. [CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE]

The second of the twin reactors making up the Shidaowan nuclear power plant’s high-temperature gas-cooled reactor pebble-bed module (HTR-PM) demonstration project reached initial criticality on November 11, China Huaneng Group has announced.

The milestone was achieved two months after the HTR-PM’s first unit had reached initial criticality. The two 200-MWe reactors are connected to a single steam turbine.

China Huaneng holds a 47.5 percent stake in the HTR-PM, with the remaining shares distributed between China Nuclear Engineering Corporation (32.5 percent) and Tsinghua University (20 percent). Construction of the facility, located in northeast China’s Shandong Province, began in 2012, led by Chinergy, a joint venture between CNEC and Tsinghua.