Brouillette: Nuclear should be part of California’s energy problem solution

Brouillette

In an op-ed published on September 25 in the Orange County Register, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette decryed the state of California’s handling of its energy crisis.

Brouillette criticized state leaders for championing a 100 percent renewable energy plan that ignores nuclear and natural gas. He also found fault with the plan to prematurely close the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

Nuclear power: Are we too anxious about the risks of radiation?

Rowlatt

Following U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recent restatement of the United Kingdom’s commitment to nuclear power, BBC News chief environment correspondent, Justin Rowlatt, wrote an article aimed at separating fact from fiction regarding the safety and benefits of nuclear energy.

Among his points, Rowlatt defended the use of nuclear power to combat climate change, examined the data behind deaths from radiation exposure directly caused by the Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents, and explained that exposure to low levels of radiation is not a major health risk.

The Netherlands mulls more nuclear energy

The government of the Netherlands has released a report, Possible Role of Nuclear in the Dutch Energy Mix in the Future, that answers in the affirmative the question of whether nuclear energy can play an important role in the country’s future energy mix.

The report, released this month by Enco, an Austrian energy research group, was commissioned by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.

The Netherlands currently has one nuclear power facility supplying the grid—the Borssele plant, which houses a 482-MWe two-loop pressurized water reactor that entered commercial operation in 1973.

Advanced nuclear to be a focus of reopened Arctic Energy Office

The Department of Energy has announced the reestablishment of the Arctic Energy Office (AEO), to be located on the campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The AEO was originally established in 2001 but failed to receive sufficient funding. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette had pledged to reopen the office by the close of the current federal fiscal year.

The focus of the AEO, according to the DOE, will include international cooperation on Arctic issues, research on methane hydrates, and the development of advanced microgrids and nuclear power systems, such as small modular reactors.

Foundation slabs for Akkuyu-2 reactor, turbine buildings completed

Concrete pouring for the foundation slabs for the Akkuyu-2 reactor and turbine buildings has been completed, Akkuyu Nuclear has announced. Unit 2 is one of four reactors under construction at the Akkuyu site, located on the Mediterranean coast in southern Turkey.

More than 17,000 cubic meters (about 600,350 cubic feet) of concrete have been poured into the Akkuyu-2 reactor building’s foundation, The company reported on September 23. The area of the concrete slab is 6,864 square meters (about 73,883 square feet), while its height and depth are 2.6 meters (about 8.5 feet) and over 8 meters (over 26 feet), respectively, according to the company.

Labor union leader weighs in on closure of Illinois nuclear plants

Lonnie Stephenson, international president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, wrote an op-ed published in the September 25 Chicago Sun-Times touting the benefits of nuclear power in Illinois and decrying Exelon’s plan to prematurely shutter the Byron and Dresden plants.

New report highlights nuclear supply chain opportunities

The London-based World Nuclear Association (WNA) on September 23 released The World Nuclear Supply Chain: Outlook 2040, a market-oriented look at the opportunities and challenges for nuclear power plants and their supply chain, including scenarios for the evolution of nuclear energy over the next two decades.

The report provides information on nearly 300 major independent suppliers of nuclear-grade structures, systems, components, and services, as well as an up-to-date picture of ongoing and planned nuclear plant construction, decommissioning, and major refurbishment and waste management projects.

Feature Article

HPS's Eric Goldin: On health physics

Eric Goldin, president of the Health Physics Society, is a radiation safety specialist with 40 years of experience in power reactor health physics, supporting worker and public radiation safety programs. A certified health physicist since 1984, he has served on the American Board of Health Physics, and since 2004, he has been a member of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements’ Program Area Committee 2, which provides guidance for radiation safety in occupational settings for a variety of industries and activities. He was awarded HPS Fellow status in 2012 and was elected to the NCRP in 2014.

Goldin’s radiological engineering experience includes ALARA programs, instrumentation, radioactive waste management, emergency planning, dosimetry, decommissioning, licensing, effluents, and environmental monitoring.

The HPS, headquartered in Herndon, Va., is the largest radiation safety society in the world. Its membership includes scientists, safety professionals, physicists, engineers, attorneys, and other professionals from academia, industry, medical institutions, state and federal government, the national laboratories, the military, and other organizations.

The HPS’s activities include encouraging research in radiation science, developing standards, and disseminating radiation safety information. Its members are involved in understanding, evaluating, and controlling the potential risks from radiation relative to the benefits.

Goldin talked about the HPS and health physics activities with Rick Michal, editor-in-chief of Nuclear News.

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TerraPower, Centrus, and Duke Energy talk tech and collaboration

Three companies that are part of a larger collaboration to develop and demonstrate Natrium, the fast reactor design recently introduced by TerraPower and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH), were invited to participate in a webinar hosted by ClearPath to talk about Natrium’s design, fuel requirements, and load-following potential.

The September 21 webinar, titled “Natrium: Latin for Sodium, Big for Advanced Nuclear,” was moderated by Rich Powell, executive director of ClearPath, and featured TerraPower’s Chris Levesque and Tara Neider, Centrus Energy’s Dan Poneman, and Duke Energy’s Chris Nolan.

Deloitte weighs in on achieving zero-carbon goals

The accounting firm Deloitte on September 21 issued a report on the decarbonization strategies of 22 utilities in the United States.

The 38-page report, Utility decarbonization strategies: Renew, reshape, and refuel to zero, is available online.

A summary of the report is available here.

IAEA kicks off annual meeting in Vienna

IAEA General Director Rafael Mariano Grossi speaks to socially distanced attendees at the agency’s 64th General Conference plenary session on September 21. Photo: D. Calma/IAEA

With special precautions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Atomic Energy Agency commenced its week-long 64th General Conference yesterday with a plenary session that included remarks from Rafael Mariano Grossi, the agency’s director general.

“The latest IAEA annual projections show that nuclear power will continue to play a key role in the world’s low-carbon energy mix, with global nuclear electrical capacity seen nearly doubling by 2050 in our high-case scenario,” Grossi said, referring to a recently released agency report. “Climate change mitigation remains a key potential driver for maintaining and expanding the use of nuclear power.”

The IAEA conference runs through September 25.

Washington State utility says, “No more wind”

An article published over the weekend in the Tacoma News Tribune reports that the Benton Public Utility District in Kennewick, Wash., is saying no to more wind farms. Even though utilities are moving to decarbonize the grid, a report from the Benton PUD says that more wind farms “will contribute very little to keeping the regional power grid reliable and will not help Benton PUD solve our seasonal energy deficit problems.”

Feature Article

The NRC’s Operations Center: Exercising authority to respond

One essential lesson from the events at Three Mile Island-2 in March 1979 can be summed up in three words: Preparedness takes practice. The emergency response capacity of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and nuclear plant operators is more than just a set of procedures. Active training and evaluation are required to coordinate effectively with local and state authorities and protect the public in the event of an off-site radiological release.

The NRC’s emergency preparedness and incident response teams work in the Office of Nuclear Security and Incident Response (NSIR) to support licensees’ mandated emergency preparedness programs. The Operations Center at NRC headquarters is staffed around-the-clock with NSIR officers who can respond to technical questions and evaluate licensee event reports, yet most of its infrastructure typically stands vacant, awaiting activation for an incident or a planned exercise. With full activation of the NRC’s incident response program, the Operations Center comes to life, and teams of staff populate workstations. That process is regularly tested during exercises that involve NRC licensees, state and local responders, and similar incident response centers at each of the NRC’s four regional offices.

No two exercises are the same. Not only is every exercise dependent on variable human performance and every plant located in a unique community, but emergency preparedness benchmarks continually evolve with advancements in technologies and procedures.

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Aging management at Ringhals-3 has improved

A team of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency have completed a review of the long-term operational safety of Unit 3 at Sweden’s Ringhals nuclear power plant, noting substantial improvements from a previous agency visit in 2018.

The review, which had been requested by the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM), the Nordic nation’s nuclear regulator, wrapped up September 18.

According to the IAEA, the Safety Aspects of Long Term Operation (SALTO) team focused on aspects essential to the safe long-term operation (LTO) of Unit 3—a 1,062-MWe three-loop pressurized water reactor that entered commercial operation in September 1981. (Ringhals houses two additional operating reactors: Unit 1, an 881-MWe boiling water reactor that began operation in January 1976, and Unit 4, an 1,102-MWe PWR that started up in November 1983. Another unit, Ringhals-2, was permanently shut down at the end of last year.)

The original design lifetime of Unit 3 will expire next year, but Vattenfall AB, the plant operator, is planning to extend operation for a total operational lifetime of 60 years.

Op-ed: UAMPS project needed for abundant, carbon-free energy

Hunter

An op-ed piece in the September 17 Salt Lake City Tribune touts nuclear energy as needed for a carbon-free future. The piece was written by Doug Hunter, chief executive officer and general manager of Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS).

NRC to hold webinars in October on used fuel storage facility in Texas

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has scheduled four webinars in October to present its draft environmental findings and receive comments on Interim Storage Partners’ (ISP) proposed consolidated interim storage facility for used nuclear fuel in Andrews County, Texas.

Information for the webinars will be posted on the NRC’s Public Meetings webpage. The webinars will be held at different times of the day to maximize opportunities for the public to participate and are tentatively scheduled for the following (all times are Eastern):

  • October 1, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
  • October 6, 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.
  • October 8, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
  • October 15, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

IAEA: Nuclear to continue to play key role in low-carbon energy production

The International Atomic Energy Agency has just released its latest projections for energy, electricity, and nuclear power trends over the next 30 years. Compared with the previous year, the new projections are largely unchanged.

In the report's high-case scenario, the IAEA expects a rise in global nuclear electrical generating capacity of 82 percent, to 715 gigawatts. In the low-case scenario, that capacity is expected to drop 7 percent, to 363 gigawatts.

The report is titled Energy, Electricity and Nuclear Power Estimates for the Period up to 2050.

HALEU investment is key part of TerraPower’s demo proposal

TerraPower announced on September 15 that it plans to work with Centrus Energy to establish commercial-scale production facilities for the high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU) needed to fuel many advanced reactor designs.

The proposed investment in HALEU fuel fabrication is tied to a TerraPower-led submittal to the Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP), which was created to support the deployment of two first-of-a-kind advanced reactor designs within five to seven years. TerraPower would like one of those designs to be Natrium, the 345-MWe sodium fast reactor that it has developed with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy.

New report explores value of flexible nuclear energy in clean energy systems

A report just released from the Clean Energy Ministerial’s (CEM) Nuclear Innovation: Clean Energy (NICE) Future initiative examines the potential roles that flexible nuclear energy generation can play in both current and future clean energy systems.

A product of the initiative’s Flexible Nuclear Campaign for Nuclear-Renewables Integration, the 154-page report, Flexible Nuclear Energy for Clean Energy Systems, includes the views of experts from government agencies, ministries, and industry organizations across the globe.

The report uses the term “flexibility” to mean the ability of an energy source to economically provide services when and where they are needed by end users. Energy services can include both electric and nonelectric applications using both traditional and advanced nuclear power plants and integrated systems, according to the report.

Hitachi pulls plug on Wales nuclear build project

Artist's concept of the Wylfa Newydd project. Image: Horizon Nuclear Power

Tokyo-based Hitachi Ltd. today announced that it is withdrawing from the currently suspended Wylfa Newydd nuclear-build project in northwestern Wales. The announcement dashes the hopes raised last month by reports that Horizon Nuclear Power, the Hitachi subsidiary in charge of the project, was in talks with the U.K. government regarding a possible resuscitation.

Hitachi had put the project on hold some 20 months ago, and in today’s announcement the company cited the length of the suspension and the COVID-19 investment environment as factors in its decision.