Power & Operations

Air Force pilot program to enlist microreactor for 20-year Alaskan deployment

October 5, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News
Aircraft line the runway at Eielson AFB in December 2020. (Photo: U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Keith Holcomb)

The Department of the Air Force and the Defense Logistics Agency–Energy have released a request for proposals (RFP) for the construction and operation of a microreactor in central Alaska. The Department of Defense wants a 20-year supply of electricity and steam from a 1–5-MW microreactor, but the Eielson Air Force Base (AFB) Microreactor Pilot Program will go beyond a simple power purchase agreement and put the reactor through its paces with tests, at least annually, of the reactor’s walk-away safety and black-start capabilities. The final RFP is available at sam.gov.

New Finnish reactor at full power

October 4, 2022, 3:05PMNuclear News
Finland’s Olkiluoto-3. (Photo: TVO)

The Unit 3 EPR at Finland’s Olkiluoto nuclear power plant has reached its full capacity of approximately 1,600 MWe for the first time, plant owner and operator Teollisuuden Voima Oyj has announced. Olkiluoto-3 is now the most powerful reactor in Europe and the third most powerful globally, according to TVO. (Currently, the world champions in that department are China’s 1,660-MWe Taishan-1 and -2, also EPRs.)

New CNC draft guidance out as first-round decision nears

October 4, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

The Department of Energy released draft guidance for the second award cycle of the $6 billion Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) Program on September 30, ahead of a decision on which reactors could receive four years of economic aid from the program’s first award cycle.

The DOE’s draft guidance for the second award cycle describes CNC program timelines and all supporting information required for owners or operators of nuclear power plants to apply for certification of eligibility and submit sealed bids. Feedback is requested by 5:00 p.m. EDT on November 4. While no date has been set for the second-round application process to open, the DOE plans to initiate the award cycle before the end of the year.

Vistra moves to extend operation at Comanche Peak

October 4, 2022, 9:34AMNuclear News
Luminant’s two-unit Comanche Peak plant in Glen Rose, Texas. (Photo: Vistra Corporation)

Vistra Corporation announced yesterday that it is seeking 20-year life extensions for its Comanche Peak reactors and has submitted an application for license renewals to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Operated by Vistra subsidiary Luminant and located in Glen Rose, Texas, Comanche Peak is home to two Westinghouse-supplied pressurized water reactors. The 1,218-MWe Unit 1 began commercial operation in August 1990, with the 1,207-MWe Unit 2 joining in August 1993. The original 40-year licenses for Units 1 and 2 expire in February 2030 and February 2033, respectively.

Robotic reactor vessel head inspection innovations at Beaver Valley-2

October 3, 2022, 2:05PMNuclear NewsJim Graf
Energy Harbor’s Beaver Valley plant, located on the Ohio River near Shippingport, Pa. (Photo: Energy Harbor)

Two critical factors for the success of nuclear industry outages are safety and efficiency. This includes personal and nuclear safety for the team members working on the outage, equipment safety through proper inspections and maintenance, and ultimately public safety when a reactor system is returned to service, free of defects and ready for reliable power production.

Risk insights map an efficient approach to aging management

October 3, 2022, 2:04PMNuclear News

Any method that can enhance safety, reduce risk, and lower costs is worth a second look. When that method proves it has the potential to optimize aging management at any nuclear power plant, it’s time to spread the word.

In 2019, a small team focused on selective leaching began looking for a way to use risk insights to optimize the implementation of deterministic aging management programs (AMPs). What they started soon grew into a large team effort by Constellation, Ameren, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), and the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), along with contractors Enercon and Jensen Hughes, to develop a generic framework and then test it in two very different pilot applications.

GAO finds nuclear demo best practices could set new standard for clean energy projects

October 3, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s management of its commercial-scale reactor demonstration projects has “generally been consistent with requirements to address risk,” according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report published recently. The GAO found that the DOE has met existing project management requirements, and that the two offices managing the awards—the Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) and the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED)—plan to introduce additional project management tools, such as external independent reviews. The GAO recommended that the DOE adopt those plans as institutional best practices for other large energy projects, and the DOE concurred.

Germany okays keeping two nuclear plants in reserve for winter

September 30, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News
Germany’s Isar nuclear plant, located in Essenbach, Bavaria. (Photo: Elmschrat/WikiCommons)

With a reluctant bow to the reality of the energy crisis gripping Europe, the German government this week took a slight step back from its antinuclear power stance, forging an agreement with the operators of the Isar and Neckarwestheim plants to keep those facilities in “operational reserve” this winter should they be needed to ensure the country’s energy security.

Maintaining RIPB in commercial LWRs

September 29, 2022, 3:22PMNuclear NewsKent B. Welter

The new standard ANSI/ANS-30.3-2022, Light Water Reactor Risk-Informed, Performance-Based Design, has just been issued by the American Nuclear Society. Approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) on July 21, 2022, the standard provides requirements for the incorporation of risk-informed, performance-based (RIPB) principles and methods into the nuclear safety design of commercial light water reactors. The process described in this standard establishes a minimum set of process requirements the designer must follow in order to meet the intent of this standard and appropriately combine deterministic, probabilistic, and performance-based methods during design development.

CNSC vendor design review of eVinci microreactor to begin

September 29, 2022, 12:05PMNuclear News

Westinghouse's eVinci microreactor (Image: Westinghouse)

Westinghouse Electric Company has signed a service agreement with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to bring the eVinci microreactor closer to commercialization, the company announced Tuesday. The agreement initiates a vendor design review (VDR)—a prelicensing technical assessment of a company’s reactor technology.

The objective of a VDR, according to the CNSC, is to verify the acceptability of a nuclear power plant design with respect to Canadian nuclear regulatory requirements and expectations, as well as Canadian codes and standards. The review also aims to identify fundamental barriers to licensing a new design in Canada and to assure that a resolution path exists for any design issues identified.

IAEA projects increase in nuclear’s growth for second year in a row

September 29, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The International Atomic Energy Agency, for the second successive year, has revised upward its annual projections of nuclear power’s potential growth over the coming decades as an electricity provider.

In the just-released 42nd edition of Energy, Electricity and Nuclear Power Estimates for the Period up to 2050, the IAEA has increased its high-case scenario for nuclear by 10 percent over last year’s report. (In 2021, the agency revised upward its annual projections for the first time since the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident.)

According to the high-case scenario, world nuclear generating capacity more than doubles to 873 GWe by 2050, compared with current levels of about 390 GWe—an addition of 81 GWe to last year’s projection. In the low-case scenario, generating capacity remains essentially flat.

OPG, Microsoft to work toward net-zero future for Ontario

September 28, 2022, 3:06PMNuclear News

Ontario Power Generation and Microsoft Canada have formed a partnership aimed at combatting climate change and driving sustainable growth across the province of Ontario, the Canadian utility announced this week.

Under the partnership, Microsoft will procure clean energy credits (CECs) sourced from OPG’s nuclear and hydro assets in Ontario on an hourly basis. (OPG’s nuclear assets include the four-unit Darlington plant and six-unit Pickering facility.) According to the announcement, this will enable Microsoft to advance toward its 100/100/0 by 2030 goal, which commits the software firm to powering its data centers globally with zero-carbon energy, 24/7.

New standard available on thermal energy deposition rates

September 28, 2022, 6:51AMANS News

Belgium’s nuclear phaseout begins

September 27, 2022, 3:03PMNuclear News
Belgium's Doel nuclear power plant. (Photo: N. Hippert/IAEA)

Unit 3 at the Doel nuclear power plant has become Belgium’s first reactor to be permanently shuttered, in keeping with that nation’s nuclear phaseout policy. The 1,006-MWe pressurized water reactor, which began commercial operation in October 1982, was removed from service last Friday at 9:31 p.m. (local time).

Belgium’s nuclear reactor fleet now consists of six operating units: Doel-1, -2, and -4 and Tihange-1, -2, and -3. Next on the retirement list is Tihange-2, scheduled to be shut down in February 2023.

Bids for SMR deployment in Estonia requested

September 26, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News
The Estonian flag. (Image: WikiCommons)

Moving forward with its plan for small modular reactor deployment in Estonia, Fermi Energia has issued tenders to three SMR firms—GE Hitachi (GEH), NuScale Power, and Rolls-Royce, developers of the BWRX-300, NuScale Power Module, and Rolls-Royce SMR, respectively.

Saskatchewan IDs potential SMR sites

September 26, 2022, 9:29AMNuclear News
The Estevan region (Image: SaskPower)

As part of its planning and regulatory activities to potentially build small modular reactors (SMRs) in currently nuclear-powerless Saskatchewan, Canadian utility SaskPower has selected the province’s Estevan and Elbow regions for further study. (In 2018, SaskPower joined the Canadian government, three other provinces, and four other Canadian utilities to participate in the development of A Call to Action: A Canadian Roadmap for Small Modular Reactors.)

UNECE: Road to net zero needs many lanes, including one for nuclear

September 23, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

Released this week in the lead-up to November’s COP27 event in Egypt is a report from the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, Carbon Neutrality in the UNECE Region: Technology Interplay under the Carbon Neutrality Concept, which calls for maximizing the use of all low- and zero-carbon technologies—including nuclear technology—to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Termed by the UNECE a “roadmap to carbon neutrality for Europe, North America, and Central Asia,” the 60-page report finds that to attain the net-zero goal, investment in energy as a percentage of gross domestic product needs to grow from 1.24 percent in 2020 to 2.05 percent every year from 2025 until 2050—translating to between $44.8 trillion and $47.3 trillion by 2050, with any additional delay in taking action adding to that price tag.

Oklo reapproaches NRC with microreactor licensing plan

September 22, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
Graphic rendition of the Aurora microreactor. (Image: Oklo Inc.)

Some eight months after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission denied Oklo Inc.’s license application to build and operate its Aurora microreactor in Idaho, the company has returned to the regulatory fray. On Wednesday, Oklo announced that it has submitted to the NRC a licensing project plan (LPP) outlining its proposed engagement to support future Aurora licensing activities.

ANS Grand Challenge: Expedite licensing

September 22, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear NewsNicholas R. Brown

As the largest ultra-low-carbon electricity source in the United States, nuclear energy is a vital pillar of the effort to mitigate climate change. Deployment of advanced nuclear reactor and fuel technologies has been identified as a unique challenge in the production of new nuclear power plants to help maintain and grow our nuclear generating capacity. The licensing of novel nuclear reactor technologies also continues to be a facet of the broader challenge of advanced reactor deployment. When it comes to non–light water reactors and Generation III+ light water reactors, such as the AP-1000 or EPR, deployment is “2X over budget and behind schedule.”1 However, in the case of recent large Generation III+ light water reactors, licensing has not been the rate-limiting step in the reactor deployment timeline, nor has it had a first-order impact on cost. With that said, several significant advances have been made in the expedition of licensing. This article focuses on three areas where progress has been made since this grand challenge was formulated in 2017, with highlights of some examples where the American Nuclear Society has guided or supported this progress.