Power & Operations


IAEA releases nuclear power status data for 2020

June 28, 2021, 9:29AMNuclear News
Image: IAEA

The International Atomic Energy Agency last week released its annual nuclear power status data, collected by the Power Reactor Information System (PRIS), the agency’s publicly available nuclear power database.

According to the IAEA’s data summary, nuclear power in 2020 played an important role as an adaptable and reliable supplier of electricity during the pandemic.

Special inspection begins at Vogtle-3

June 23, 2021, 12:01PMNuclear News
Vogtle’s Unit 3, earlier this month. Photo: Georgia Power

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has launched a special inspection at the Vogtle new-build site to identify the errors that necessitated construction remediation work on Unit 3’s electrical cable raceway system.

2020 enforcement cases rise but still below five-year average

June 22, 2021, 9:29AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently released its Enforcement Program Annual Report for calendar year 2020, showing a total of 61 escalated enforcement actions taken last year against licensees, non-licensees, and individuals—an increase of 7 percent from CY 2019, but a number that remains below the five-year (2016–2020) average.

Exelon files to deactivate the Byron reactors

June 18, 2021, 12:06PMUpdated June 18, 2021, 4:50PMNuclear News
The Byron nuclear power plant.

Exelon on June 16 filed with grid operator PJM Interconnection to deactivate the two Byron reactors in Illinois. The move came one day after the Illinois Senate adjourned without reaching an agreement on a comprehensive energy package that would have provided nearly $700 million to keep Byron’s reactors, as well as Exelon’s Dresden and Braidwood nuclear power plants, in operation. (In August of 2020, Exelon announced that it would close the economically challenged Byron and Dresden facilities in the fall of 2021 without some form of state aid to provide compensation for their clean power.) The state’s House of Representatives also adjourned earlier this week without taking up the bill.

Online monitoring technology to extend calibration intervals of nuclear plant pressure transmitters

June 18, 2021, 1:55PMNuclear NewsH. M. Hashemian

Online monitoring (OLM) technology can be used in nuclear power plants as an analytical tool to measure sensor drift during plant operation and thereby identify the sensors whose calibration must be checked physically during an outage. The technology involves a procedure to (1) retrieve redundant sensor measurements from the process computer or through a separate data acquisition system, (2) calculate the average of these measurements and the deviation of each sensor from the average, and (3) identify any sensor that has deviated beyond its predetermined monitoring limit.

2021 ANS Virtual Annual Meeting: CEO roundtable

June 18, 2021, 9:37AMNuclear News

The 2021 ANS Annual Meeting brought together three leading chief executive officers from the nuclear industry on June 16 for a discussion centered on the future role of nuclear energy deployment and the challenges of portfolio management during a time of net-zero carbon goals.

No deal yet in Illinois for Exelon nuclear plants

June 17, 2021, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Illinois Senate adjourned on June 15 without calling a comprehensive energy regulatory reform package for a vote, Capitol News Illinois reported. State Sen. Bill Cunningham (D., Chicago) and Senate president Don Harmon (D., Oak Park) said afterward that they expect a vote to happen sometime this summer as negotiations continue.

The criminalization of nuclear

Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar

Nuclear energy is the cleanest, safest, densest, and most reliable energy source. The value proposition for nuclear energy is unparalleled. It is the only commercially proven, “dispatchable” clean energy technology that can be scaled up fast enough to meet the demand for electricity in a decarbonizing scenario. It is the answer for governments and nongovernmental organizations worldwide that are clamoring for a reduction in human-generated CO2 emissions. Humans flourish when they have access to plentiful, safe, and reliable energy. Nuclear excels at all of these.

Is nuclear finally getting the credit it deserves?

June 15, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy

“Prejudice” is a word we hear often these days. The dictionary defines it as a “preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.” In our current public discourse on race and gender, prejudice hangs in the air like a persistent fog that obscures the path to real progress. But prejudice is also a much broader societal phenomenon—our caveman brains are constantly looking for quick shortcuts (which psychologists call heuristics) to make sense of the world, which often leads us to conclusions that are outdated, unfair, or just plain wrong.

Meredith Angwin: The electric grid and reliability

June 14, 2021, 1:25PMNuclear NewsRick Michal

In her career as a chemist, Meredith Angwin headed projects that lowered pollution and increased reliability on the electric grid. Her work included pollution control for nitrogen oxides in gas-­fired combustion turbines and corrosion control in geothermal and nuclear systems.

Angwin, an ANS member, was one of the first women to be a project manager at the Electric Power Research Institute, leading projects in nuclear energy and renewables.

In the past decade, Angwin began to study and take part in grid oversight and governance. For four years, she served on the Coordinating Committee for the Consumer Liaison Group associated with ISO New England, her local grid operator. It was during this time that she realized what a maze of confusion surrounded grid rules and grid management.

How the NRC modernized its digital I&C infrastructure and where it goes from here

June 11, 2021, 3:20PMNuclear NewsEric J. Benner and Steven A. Arndt

The Nuclear Regulatory Commissiona first formally developed infrastructure for the review of digital instrumentation and control (I&C) systems in the 1990s. Although the current fleet of nuclear power plants in the United States was originally designed and constructed with analog systems, the U.S. nuclear industry has for more than 30 years been working to upgrade these older systems with modern digital equipment.

China’s Tianwan-6 up and running

June 11, 2021, 12:59PMNuclear News
The Tianwan-6 control room. Photo: CNNC

Unit 6 at the Tianwan nuclear plant has entered commercial operation, China National Nuclear Corporation announced last week. The domestically designed ACPR-1000 pressurized water reactor becomes CNNC’s 24th unit to enter service, raising the company’s installed generating capacity to 22.5 GWe (gross).

Experts predict further delay to commercial start of Vogtle-3

June 11, 2021, 7:02AMNuclear News
Vogtle-3’s containment (right) and turbine building (left) in May. Photo: Georgia Power

Georgia Power recently pushed back its projected commercial operation date for Vogtle-3 from December of this year to January 2022, but now some engineering and financial experts are saying that this revised date is too optimistic.

Support for nuclear energy grows with climate change concerns

June 10, 2021, 3:09PMNuclear NewsAnn S. Bisconti

Public discourse on energy and climate increasingly includes nuclear energy, but how has that affected public opinion? The answer: a lot. A national public opinion survey conducted in May found that support for nuclear energy has rebounded, and politics, in part, may offer a window into why. For example, now Biden and Trump voters support nuclear energy about equally. Trump voters care more about affordable and reliable electricity. Biden voters care more about climate change, and their support is driven by perception of need. Perception of need is boosted by climate change, recent energy supply problems, and Democratic leadership endorsements. The importance of Democratic leadership endorsements is shown in the Obama bump in 2010 and the Biden bump in 2021. In both cases, the increase in overall support for nuclear is largely attributable to increased support among Democrats.

The survey, with 1,000 nationally representative U.S. adults, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points and was conducted by Bisconti Research Inc. with Quest Global Research Mindshare Online Panel. The report includes trend data going back 38 years.

EDF retires U.K.’s Dungeness plant

June 9, 2021, 12:02PMNuclear News
The Dungeness B nuclear power station, in Kent, southeastern England. (Photo: geograph.org.uk)

EDF Energy, owner and operator of the United Kingdom’s nuclear reactor fleet, yesterday announced its decision to move the Dungeness B nuclear plant into its defueling phase “with immediate effect,” rather than proceed with a restart later this year. The company had previously stated that it intended to operate the facility, located in southeastern England, until at least 2028.

Byron, Dresden, Quad Cities fail to clear in PJM capacity auction

June 8, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
Byron nuclear power plant

Three Illinois nuclear power plants—Byron, Dresden, and Quad Cities—did not clear in last week’s long-delayed PJM Interconnection capacity auction, Exelon Generation reported in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The news is likely to further pressure the Illinois General Assembly to pass a comprehensive energy package—one with subsidies for the state’s financially ailing nuclear plants—before Exelon moves forward with its plan, announced last August, to prematurely retire Byron and Dresden.

The United States is losing nuclear power when we need it the most

June 4, 2021, 2:49PMNuclear NewsEd Kee

The Biden administration has a goal to decarbonize the U.S. electricity sector by 2035.1 Achieving this goal would require a massive nuclear power build program. The U.S. nuclear power industry’s size and historical success signal that we are in a good position to do this, but at present the U.S. nuclear fleet is shrinking. Why is this so, and what can be done to turn the trend around?

Nuclear I&C Modernization: The Future is Digital

June 4, 2021, 9:34AMSponsored ContentRobert Ammon, Technical Director of Digital Safety Systems at Curtiss-Wright Nuclear Division

As the U.S. nuclear industry moves into plant life extension and subsequent license renewals, the modernization of safety instrumentation and control (I&C) systems holds significant potential to transform plant operations. Automated system diagnostics, equipment health monitoring, and performance indications reduce the need for manual surveillance activities and enable condition-based maintenance, resulting in improved system reliability and reduced maintenance costs. Despite these benefits, adoption of digital I&C systems for safety-related applications across the domestic nuclear fleet has been slow. U.S. nuclear power plants that do choose to embrace the transition from analog to digital are in good company; international plants have successfully implemented digital safety systems for more than a decade. Furthermore, digital safety systems are also the first choice of the growing small modular reactor (SMR) and advanced reactor (AR) communities.