Power & Operations


Contract for Darlington SMR project signed

January 27, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
A rendering of the BWRX-300 small modular reactor. (Image: GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy)

Wilmington, N.C.-based GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy and Canadian firms Ontario Power Generation, SNC-Lavalin, and Aecon announced this morning the signing of a contract for the deployment of a BWRX-300 small modular reactor at OPG’s Darlington nuclear site in Canada. According to the announcement, it is the first commercial contract for a grid-scale SMR in North America.

Nuclear energy: enabling production of food, fiber, hydrocarbon biofuels, and negative carbon emissions

January 27, 2023, 8:01AMNuclear NewsCharles W. Forsberg and Bruce E. Dale

In the 1960s, Alvin Weinberg at Oak Ridge National Laboratory initiated a series of studies on nuclear agro-­industrial complexes1 to address the needs of the world’s growing population. Agriculture was a central component of these studies, as it must be. Much of the emphasis was on desalination of seawater to provide fresh water for irrigation of crops. Remarkable advances have lowered the cost of desalination to make that option viable in countries like Israel. Later studies2 asked the question, are there sufficient minerals (potassium, phosphorous, copper, nickel, etc.) to enable a prosperous global society assuming sufficient nuclear energy? The answer was a qualified “yes,” with the caveat that mineral resources will limit some technological options. These studies were defined by the characteristic of looking across agricultural and industrial sectors to address multiple challenges using nuclear energy.

NRC announces setback to Diablo Canyon license renewal

January 26, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced January 24 that it will not resume its review of Pacific Gas & Electric’s withdrawn Diablo Canyon license renewal application. This decision is a new setback in the long-running effort to extend the life of the plant.

NRC proposes GEIS revision for renewing reactor licenses

January 24, 2023, 12:01PMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced on January 24 that it has directed staff to publish a proposed rule that includes an update to the license renewal generic environmental impact statement (GEIS), which is used by the agency when considering applications to renew operating reactor licenses.

The proposed rule, to appear in the Federal Register in the near future, is a response to an NRC order that concluded the license renewal GEIS did not analyze the environmental impacts of a subsequent license renewal term (from 60 to 80 years of operation).

Beyond electricity

January 20, 2023, 3:01PMNuclear NewsMatt Wald

Say “decarbonize” and people think about electricity. But the U.S. industrial sector emits nearly as much carbon dioxide and other global warming gases as the electric sector, which rank at 25 and 24 percent of the problem, respectively, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The commercial and residential sectors account for another 13 percent, the EPA says, most of it for space heating. How do we decarbonize that? More specifically, how do nuclear reactors decarbonize that?

Final rule certifying NuScale SMR design published

January 20, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News

A rendering of a NuScale VOYGR plant. (Image: NuScale Power)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued its final rule certifying NuScale Power’s small modular reactor design, making the Portland, Ore.–based company’s power module the first SMR design to be certified by the agency (and only the seventh reactor design okayed for use in the United States).

Published in yesterday’s Federal Register, the rule goes into effect on February 21, allowing utilities to reference the NuScale design when applying for a combined license to build and operate a reactor. The design will be incorporated as Appendix G to 10 CFR Part 52, Licenses, Certifications, and Approvals for Nuclear Power Plants.

As noted last July—when the commission voted unanimously to approve the design certification and directed staff to issue the final rule—an application for a nuclear power plant combined license that references a certified design does not need to address any of the issues resolved by the design certification rule. Instead, the combined license application and the NRC’s safety review would address any remaining safety and environmental issues for the proposed plant.

EDF, Respect Energy to collaborate on nuclear projects in Poland

January 20, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
An illustration of EDF’s NUWARD small modular reactor technology. (Image: EDF)

France’s Électricité de France and Polish renewable energy trader Respect Energy have signed a cooperation agreement to develop nuclear power projects in Poland based on EDF’s NUWARD small modular reactor technology, the companies jointly announced last Friday.

California PUC opens vote on Diablo Canyon extension

January 20, 2023, 7:14AMNuclear News
The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has voted to open a rulemaking to consider extending the lifetime of the 2,289-MW two-unit Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. The plant, which turns 50 this year, is the only remaining operational nuclear power facility in California. It generates nearly 10 percent of the state’s electricity needs.

Nebraska to examine potential SMR sites

January 18, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News

Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD), owner and operator of the Cornhusker State’s only operating nuclear power facility—the single-unit Cooper plant—is beginning the process of studying locations that could potentially host small modular nuclear reactors, the utility announced last Friday.

The effort will be financed through L.B. 1014—a state measure approved in April 2022 that appropriates the $1.04 billion allocated to Nebraska from federal pandemic relief funds.

Vibrating pipe causes delay to Vogtle-3 startup

January 13, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News
Vogtle-3 containment in December 2022. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Southern Company subsidiary Georgia Power on January 11 announced yet another delay to the startup of the Unit 3 reactor at the Vogtle nuclear power plant. It’s the latest in a long series of delays to the two-unit construction project at the Waynesboro, Ga., site. (Vogtle-3 was initially supposed to enter service in 2016.)

Michigan gets the ball rolling on nuclear feasibility study

January 12, 2023, 10:26AMNuclear News

The Michigan Public Service Commission has requested proposals for a feasibility study on nuclear power generation in the state. Responses to the January 5 request are due January 19, with the proposals themselves due February 3. The selected firm is to deliver a report to Michigan’s governor and leaders of the state’s legislature by April 2024.

NuScale submits second SDA application to NRC

January 10, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News

NuScale Power has announced its submission to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of a standard design approval application for its updated small modular reactor design, which is based on a six-module VOYGR plant configuration powered by an uprated 77-MWe module.

NuScale to begin FEED work for Romanian SMR plant

January 5, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News

Portland, Ore.–based NuScale Power yesterday announced the signing of a contract with Romania’s RoPower Nuclear for front-end engineering and design (FEED) work that, according to the American company, marks “a significant step toward the deployment of a NuScale VOYGR small modular reactor power plant in Romania.” The contract was signed on December 28.

Holtec, GEH eye U.K. for SMR deployment

January 5, 2023, 9:31AMNuclear News
A rendering of Holtec’s SMR-160 plant. (Image: Holtec International)

Small modular reactor developers Holtec International and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) are both looking to the United Kingdom as a prime location for deployment of their units—the SMR-160 and BWRX-300, respectively.

On December 19, Holtec Britain announced that it is poised to enter the United Kingdom’s generic design assessment (GDA) process for the SMR-160 early in 2023, enabling the start of construction of the first U.K. unit as soon as 2028. (The GDA, developed by the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency, gauges the safety, security, and environmental protection aspects of a nuclear plant design. Successfully completing the assessment culminates in a design acceptance confirmation from ONR and a statement of design acceptability from the Environment Agency.)

INL researchers develop strategies to keep today’s nuclear power fleet profitable

December 23, 2022, 3:08PMNuclear NewsCory Hatch
The Human Systems Simulation Laboratory at INL allows researchers to simulate industrial control rooms to improve performance. (Photo: INL)

In the 1960s, nuclear energy established itself as a mainstay of the electrical grid for its ability to produce carbon-­free, safe, and reliable power. Indeed, nuclear energy currently provides about 50 percent of carbon-­free electricity in the United States, but a major challenge is its cost.

Holtec to reapply for federal funding to revive Palisades

December 21, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
The Palisades nuclear power plant. (Photo: Entergy)

Holtec International is apparently not ready to give up on the Palisades nuclear power plant just yet. Despite having been denied federal funds last month for a possible reopening of the Covert, Mich., facility, the company this week announced its intention to reapply.

Westinghouse inks new pact for Poland’s first reactor project

December 20, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

From left: David Durham, president of energy systems at Westinghouse, and Tomasz Stępień, president of Polskie Elektrownie Jądrowe’s management board, at the signing ceremony in Poland. (Photo: Westinghouse)

Westinghouse Electric Company and Polish utility Polskie Elektrownie Jądrowe have signed an agreement defining the main principles and path forward for Poland’s first nuclear power reactors, the companies jointly announced last week.

The agreement, signed December 15, outlines next steps for the project, including site layout, licensing and permitting support, and site development services and procurement, and establishes the framework for future project delivery contracts. Another agreement is expected to be signed by mid-2023 for the design of the facility.

Context: In October, Poland chose Westinghouse to supply the reactors for its first nuclear power plant, as the Central European nation seeks to lessen its dependence on domestic coal and Russian imports for its energy supply. Competing with Westinghouse for the job were Électricité de France and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power.

Lawmakers press DFC to invest in nuclear

December 19, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

A bipartisan group of senators sent a letter last week to Scott Nathan, chief executive officer of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), urging the agency to begin financing nuclear energy projects and support the continued development and deployment of advanced nuclear technology.

Signing the December 8 letter were Sens. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), Cory Booker (D., N.J.), Shelley Moore Capito (R., W.Va.), Ben Cardin (D., Md.), Chris Coons (D., Del.), Kevin Cramer (R., N.D.), Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska), and Jim Risch (R., Idaho).