Power & Operations

Reliable testing under all conditions

March 29, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear NewsChristoph Gatzen and Simon Lemin
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The challenges of climate change are bringing nuclear energy back into focus. Even in Germany, which decided on a general nuclear phaseout in 2011 as a response to the Fukushima disaster that year, nuclear energy is again being discussed as a bridging technology. Compared with fossil fuels, nuclear saves considerable greenhouse gases. However, for a holistic view of CO2 emissions from power plants, the procurement, maintenance, and repair of plant components must also be considered. At the very least, the CO2 emissions caused by the high costs of testing and maintaining a nuclear power plant can be reduced.

Last Energy sets up microreactor deals for Poland and the U.K.

March 29, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News
A rendering of Last Energy's nuclear power plant. (Image: Last Energy)

Startup company Last Energy has announced power purchase agreements for 34 units of its 20-MWe nuclear power plants with four industrial partners in Poland and the United Kingdom. In total, according to the company, the deals represent more than $18.9 billion in electricity sales.

NRC to start review of NuScale uprated SMR design

March 28, 2023, 9:31AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently announced that it will begin reviewing most of the standard design approval (SDA) application for NuScale Power’s uprated small modular reactor technology, with the remainder of the review on hold until the company provides additional details on a key safety topic.

Monticello taken off line due to tritium leak

March 27, 2023, 12:01PMNuclear News

A recurring leak of water containing tritium has led to the temporary shutdown of Xcel Energy's Monticello nuclear power plant, in Minnesota.

“While the leak continues to pose no risk to the public or the environment, we determined the best course of action is to power down the plant and perform the permanent repairs immediately,” said Chris Clark, president of Xcel Energy–Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota, in a March 23 news release. “We are continuing to work with and inform our state, federal, city, and county leaders in the process.”

Powering down the reactor to shutdown condition started last Friday.

Nuclear power developments in China and the world

March 24, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear NewsMingguang Zheng, Fan Yu, and Li Bao

The development of human society and technology is closely correlated to the means of energy acquisition, utilization method, efficiency, and spectrum of applications. High quality of life and sustainable socioeconomic development require a sustainable and reliable energy supply. Wealth, health, food, water, infrastructure, education, and even life expectancy itself strongly correlate with the consumption of energy per capita. Having an adequate, reliable, affordable, eco-friendly, and sustainable supply of energy is becoming more crucial for economic development and improving human well-being.

GEH Nuclear Energy celebrates three-nation plan for BWRX-300 standard design

March 23, 2023, 3:03PMNuclear News
A technical collaboration agreement was signed by (seated from left) Jay Wileman, GEH; Jeff Lyash, TVA; Ken Hartwick, OPG; and Rafał Kasprów, SGE; and was observed by dignitaries and an audience both in-person and online. (Photo: TVA)

“I’m glad you came to our party!” said GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) chief nuclear officer Nicole Holmes as she prepared to announce that Wilmington, N.C.–based GEH will develop a standard design for its BWRX-300 boiling water small modular reactor with not one but three power producers representing three countries: Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Ontario Power Generation (OPG), and Synthos Green Energy (SGE). Celebration was a theme throughout the March 23 event held in Washington, D.C., which was flush with dignitaries representing the United States, Canada, and Poland.

Report describes economic and environmental benefits of Seabrook

March 23, 2023, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Seabrook nuclear power plant, located in southern New Hampshire. (Photo: NextEra Energy)

According to a new study conducted by the economics consulting firm Analysis Group, “Massachusetts utilities could save their customers $880 million to more than $2 billion by 2032 by entering into a long-term power purchase contract with the Seabrook Station nuclear plant.” The study, Economic and Environmental Benefits to Massachusetts from the Operation of the Seabrook Nuclear Plant, also found that operation of the plant through 2032 is expected to contribute as much as $2.9 billion to the state’s economy and reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions by 5 million tons per year.

U.K. to label nuclear “green” and launch SMR competition

March 20, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News


In his spring 2023 budget speech to the House of Commons last Wednesday, U.K. chancellor of the exchequer Jeremy Hunt confirmed that, subject to consultation, nuclear power will be classified as environmentally sustainable in the U.K. green taxonomy, providing potential private investors in nuclear projects access to the same incentives currently enjoyed by investors in renewables. (Last year, the European Union added nuclear and natural gas to the list of green technologies covered by its taxonomy, but only on a transitional basis under what the European Commission termed “clear and strict conditions.”)

“We have increased the proportion of electricity generated from renewables from under 10 percent to nearly 40 percent,” Hunt declared. “But because the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine, we will need another critical source of cheap and reliable energy. And that is nuclear.”

With Kuosheng shut down, Taiwan has only two nuclear reactors left

March 17, 2023, 12:26PMNuclear News


The antinuclear energy policies of Taiwanese president Ing-wen Tsai, of Taiwan’s republic’s Democratic Progressive Party, stoked controversy on March 14 when the nation’s Kuosheng-2 nuclear power plant was taken off line to be decommissioned. Minister of economic affairs Mei-hua Wang, who oversees the state-run Taiwan Power Company (Taipower), claimed that the shutdown will not affect power supply because it will be offset by hydroelectric power, as well as gas- and coal-fired power plants. However, objectors to the shutdown claim the possibility of electricity blackouts, with opposition legislator I-ding Wu, of the Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist) Party, countering that renewable energy would be insufficient to meet Taiwan’s energy needs and that fossil fuels are “dirtier” and “more expensive.”

Nuclear-free homeland: Tsai came to office in 2016, promising to make Taiwan a “nuclear-free homeland” by 2025 by decommissioning all six of its operable nuclear reactors when their 40-year operating licenses expired.

GE Hitachi SMR reaches prelicensing milestone in Canada

March 16, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News
A rendering of the BWRX-300 small modular reactor. (Image: NRC)

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy’s (GEH’s) BWRX-300 technology has completed phases 1 and 2 of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s vendor design review (VDR) process, the Wilmington, N.C.–based company announced yesterday.

EDF plans to extend life of Hartlepool, Heysham 1

March 16, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
EDF Energy’s Hartlepool nuclear plant, in northeastern England. (Photo: Wikipedia/Geni)

EDF Energy, owner and operator of the United Kingdom’s nuclear reactor fleet, announced last week that it intends to keep its Hartlepool and Heysham 1 stations in operation to March 2026—two years past their previously scheduled 2024 retirement dates. EDF added that an additional 12 months of operation beyond 2026 is being contemplated.

NuScale places first long-lead material production order with Doosan

March 14, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News
A rendering of a NuScale VOYGR plant. (Image: NuScale)

NuScale Power, the Portland, Ore.–based small modular reactor developer, announced last week that it has placed the first upper reactor pressure vessel (RPV) long-lead material (LLM) production order with South Korea’s Doosan Enerbility.

PG&E response to Diablo Canyon opponents demonstrates strong legal precedent

March 13, 2023, 12:03PMNuclear News

Proponents of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant received the heartening news on March 2 that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had granted a “timely renewal” exemption to allow the plant to continue operating while its new license renewal application was under review. The exemption came after the NRC denied in January plant owner Pacific Gas & Electric’s request for the agency to resume review of its original license renewal application.

First Xe-100 plant support center to open this year

March 13, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News

X-energy, the Rockville, Md.–based small modular reactor developer, has announced its plan to open the first Xe-100 reactor fleet management, monitoring, and training facility—the Plant Support Center–East (PCSE)—in the fourth quarter of this year.

Constellation starts hydrogen production at Nine Mile Point

March 10, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
Constellation’s Nine Mile Point nuclear power plant. (Photo: Constellation Energy)

A nuclear-powered hydrogen production facility has commenced operation at Constellation Energy’s Nine Mile Point plant, the company announced this week. The facility is the first of its kind in the United States to generate hydrogen using nuclear power, courtesy of the New York plant’s two boiling water reactors, the 620-MWe Unit 1 and 1,287-MWe Unit 2.

Monticello SLR application docketed

March 9, 2023, 12:02PMNuclear News
The Monticello nuclear power plant. (Photo: NRC)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has accepted for review Northern States Power Company’s subsequent license renewal application for its Monticello nuclear power plant. A notice of the agency’s decision, along with information on requests for a hearing in the matter, was published in the March 3 Federal Register.

Annual report cards out for U.S. power reactors

March 9, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced last Friday the issuance of 2022 assessment letters to operators of the nation’s commercial nuclear reactors, noting that of the 93 units in the agency’s Reactor Oversight Process, 87 “reached the highest performance category in safety and security,” known as Licensee Response.

NEA report quantifies need to attract and retain women in the nuclear sector

March 8, 2023, 3:03PMNuclear News

Women including Marie Skłodowska-Curie, Lise Meitner, Chien-Shiung Wu, and Katharine Way were key pioneers in nuclear science and technology, but today the visibility of women in the nuclear sector remains low. Women make up just one-quarter of people employed in the nuclear sector, and for STEM positions in that field specifically, they also make up just one-quarter of the workforce. About 8,000 of those women responded to an a survey from the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency, and their responses have been captured in Gender Balance in the Nuclear Sector, a new report from the OECD NEA.