Power & Operations

Agencies assess power system performance during February freeze

September 24, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News
Snow covering grounds of the Texas Capitol on February 15, 2021.

To prevent future winter storms from causing the kind of widespread, lethal power outages wrought by February’s frigid blast through Texas and other states, the electric and natural gas industries need to bolster their winterization and cold weather preparedness and coordination, a just-released preliminary report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and North American Electric Reliability Corporation concludes.

The two agencies had announced on February 16 that they planned to open a joint inquiry to identify problems with the performance of the bulk power system during the storm and to offer solutions. A team of FERC and NERC staff members presented the report at a FERC meeting on September 23.

A presentation of the report, February 2021 Cold Weather Grid Operations: Preliminary Findings and Recommendations, is available.

Kairos Power to hold virtual information session

September 24, 2021, 9:34AMANS Nuclear Cafe
An aerial view of the ETTP site. Photo: Heritage Center, LLC

Back in July, officials from the state of Tennessee and Kairos Power met in Nashville to celebrate Kairos’s plans to construct a low-power demonstration reactor in the East Tennessee Technology Park in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The demonstration facility is a scaled-down version of Kairos’s Fluoride Salt–Cooled High Temperature Reactor (KP-FHR), dubbed Hermes. The company first announced plans in December 2020 to redevelop the ETTP’s former K-33 gaseous diffusion plant site for construction of Hermes.

Granholm, Grossi prepare for 2022 nuclear ministerial conference

September 22, 2021, 12:02PMNuclear News
U.S. energy secretary Jennifer Granholm and IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi pose for a photo before their September 21 meeting announcing the next International Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

U.S. energy secretary Jennifer Granholm and International Atomic Energy Agency director general Rafael Mariano Grossi met in Vienna yesterday during the agency’s 65th General Conference to launch preparations for the next IAEA International Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century, slated for October 26–28, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

TVA gives up construction permits for Bellefonte units

September 22, 2021, 7:02AMNuclear News

Nearly 47 years after being issued construction permits for two reactors at the Bellefonte site in northeast Alabama, the Tennessee Valley Authority has decided against renewing them, essentially extinguishing any remaining hope for the project, on which the utility has reportedly spent more than $5 billion.

Results of advanced nuclear survey released

September 21, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

The U.S. Nuclear Industry Council has released the results of its 2021 Advanced Nuclear Survey.

The results, issued late last month, include information from 17 USNIC-member advanced nuclear developers on topics such as federal and state policies, types of reactors in development, U.S./Canadian licensing, need for control room operators, Nuclear Regulatory Commission fees, Department of Energy programs, and high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU). In addition, 24 companies (the 17 member firms plus seven nonmember firms) provided their perspectives on the NRC’s planned 10 CFR Part 53 regulation of advanced reactors.

IAEA boosts projections for nuclear power’s potential growth

September 20, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News

The International Atomic Energy Agency has revised upward its projections regarding the potential growth of nuclear power’s capacity for electricity generation over the next three decades. The upward revision is the first by the IAEA since the Fukushima Daiichi accident in 2011.

Released last week, the 148-page report, Energy, Electricity and Nuclear Power Estimates for the Period up to 2050, provides detailed glimpses into possible nuclear futures in North America; Latin America and the Caribbean; Northern, Western, and Southern Europe; Eastern Europe; Africa; Western Asia, Southern Asia, and Central and Eastern Asia; Southeastern Asia; and Oceania. Global and regional nuclear power projections are presented as low and high cases.

IP3 signs on to nuclear plant development in Poland

September 20, 2021, 7:01AMNuclear News

McLean, Va.–based IP3 Corporation and Polish electricity producer Zespół Elektrowni Patnów-Adamów-Konin SA (ZE PAK) signed an agreement earlier this month regarding the development of nuclear power plants in Poland. IP3 is to be ZE PAK’s main advisor in the process, with Georgette Mosbacher, a former U.S. ambassador to Poland (2018–2021) who recently joined the IP3 board, leading the effort for the American company.

ZE PAK is currently involved in various initiatives associated with nuclear technologies for Poland, including a plan to use nuclear power for the production of hydrogen.

Helping to solve the plant safety puzzle: An overview of PRA

September 17, 2021, 3:01PMNuclear NewsCurtis Smith, Andrew Miller, Stephen Hess, and Fernando Ferrante

Probabilistic risk assessments (PRAs) have advanced the safe operation of the U.S. reactor fleet over many decades. Risk insights from PRAs have provided information from many different perspectives, from what is most important to maintain at a facility to a better understanding of how to address new information regarding safety issues. The methods and tools that have supported the creation and enhancement of PRA models were established through multiple decades of research, starting with WASH-1400, The Reactor Safety Study,1 published in 1975, through the comprehensive plant-specific models in use today.

NuScale advances work with BWXT, builds out Canada’s SMR supply chain

September 17, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News
BWXT Canada’s Cambridge, Ontario, facility. (Photo: BWXT Canada)

NuScale Power announced earlier this week that manufacturing process development work on its small modular reactor—the NuScale Power Module—is advancing at BWXT Canada Ltd.’s Cambridge, Ontario, facility in preparation for module fabrication. NuScale said that this work is critical to the development of its SMR technology and is an example of the supply chain development opportunities for Canadian companies with the requisite power plant equipment expertise.

Terrestrial Energy upgrades IMSR plant design

September 17, 2021, 7:03AMNuclear News
Rendition of the IMSR400 power plant in the configuration proposed for the Darlington site. (Image: Terrestrial Energy)

Terrestrial Energy has upgraded the design of its Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) nuclear power plant, the company announced on September 14. The proposed facility will now feature 390 MWe of generation capacity for grid supply from twin reactors and generators.

Illinois governor signs energy bill aiding nuclear plants

September 16, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker appreciates applause at the signing event for the state's new energy bill.

In an hour-long ceremony held yesterday at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium amid some fanfare (it included an appearance by lizards, a snake, and a penguin), Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (S.B. 2408). The bill is a sweeping overhaul of the state’s energy policies aimed at phasing out fossil-fuel power generation and placing Illinois on a path to become a 100 percent carbon-free energy producer by 2050.

Energy markets strained by price spikes make the case for nuclear

September 16, 2021, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Energy prices surged across Europe recently as markets were stricken by reduced output from wind turbines. Low supplies of natural gas had already boosted the cost of the gas–powered generation required to make up for dips in renewable energy sources. The result: a series of dire headlines, soaring prices for natural gas, and the startup of idled coal power plants.

Revamped U.S.-India Strategic Clean Energy Partnership launched

September 15, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News
U.S. energy secretary Jennifer Granholm and India’s minister of petroleum and natural gas Hardeep Singh Puri remotely meet (with others in the background) during the virtual launch of a "newly revitalized” U.S.-India clean energy partnership.

U.S. energy secretary Jennifer Granholm and India’s minister of petroleum and natural gas, Hardeep Singh Puri, last week presided over the virtual launch of what the Department of Energy termed the “newly revitalized” U.S.-India Strategic Clean Energy Partnership (SCEP).

Biden makes pick for open FERC seat

September 14, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News

Willie L. Phillips Jr.

President Biden last Thursday announced his intention to nominate Willie L. Phillips Jr., chairman of the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia, for the vacant seat on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Phillips would replace Republican Neil Chatterjee, who left FERC at the end of August, two months after the official expiration of his term. (Chatterjee remained on the commission to provide time for the Biden administration to choose his replacement. He has since joined the Climate Leadership Council and the global law firm Hogan Lovells.)

Before joining the D.C. PSC, Phillips served as assistant general counsel for the North American Electric Reliability Corporation. He is currently an active member of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, where he serves on the board of directors as chair of the Select Committee on Regulatory and Industry Diversity.

NRC EDO leaves for senior position at IAEA

September 13, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News


Margaret Doane, the first female executive director for operations at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, will depart the agency on October 8 to take the position of deputy director general for management at the International Atomic Energy Agency, the NRC announced this morning.

Doane, who has been the NRC’s EDO since July 2018, began her career at the agency in 1991 as a special assistant in the Office of the Secretary. Her senior leadership roles have included serving as an attorney in the Office of Commission Appellate Adjudication, chief of staff for former commissioner Jeffrey Merrifield, and NRC general counsel—a position she held from 2012 to 2018. Doane has international experience as well, having served in the Office of International Programs, both as deputy director and director.

Byron, Dresden saved by the bill? An update

September 10, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
The Byron nuclear power plant

(This story has been updated from yesterday's post about the Illinois energy package.)

With only days remaining before the scheduled retirement of Exelon Generation’s Byron nuclear plant, the Illinois House has approved a comprehensive energy package (S.B. 2408) that would save the plant, as well as the state’s similarly struggling Braidwood and Dresden facilities.

Byron, Dresden saved by the bill?

September 9, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News

With only days remaining before the scheduled retirement of Exelon Generation’s Byron nuclear plant, the Illinois General Assembly may be close to passing a comprehensive energy package (S.B. 2408) that would save that plant, as well as the state’s similarly struggling Braidwood and Dresden facilities.

House Democrats have introduced an amendment to S.B. 2408 that would require municipally owned coal plants to achieve a 45 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2035 and completely phase out coal by 2045. The House is considering the amendment today.

(Financial assistance to Illinois’s nuclear fleet is part of a package that for weeks has been mired in disagreement between unions and environmental groups over the fate of the state’s coal plants.)

DOE, U.S. companies to assist Ukraine in energy transition

September 9, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News
Energy secretary Jennifer Granholm (seated at left) and Ukrainian energy minister Herman Galushchenko (seated at right) on August 31 sign an agreement to bolster U.S.-Ukrainian energy cooperation. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, stands in the background. (Photo: DOE)

U.S. energy secretary Jennifer Granholm and Ukrainian energy minister Herman Galushchenko last week signed a joint statement of intent to advance energy and climate cooperation through the U.S.-Ukraine Strategic Energy and Climate Dialogue. The signing took place during a visit to Washington, D.C., by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky for meetings with President Biden at the White House.

The latest from WNA on fleet performance and fuel

September 8, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

Nuclear power plants around the world generated 2,553 TWh of electricity in 2020, a drop of 104 TWh from 2019’s total, according to World Nuclear Performance Report 2021. The report was released last week by the U.K.-based World Nuclear Association.

Nuclear generation declined in Africa, North America, and Western and Central Europe, rose in Asia (but by much less than in recent years), and remained largely unchanged in Eastern Europe, South America, and Russia, the 68-page report states.

Sama Bilbao y León, WNA director general, notes in the report’s preface that although the nearly 4 percent decline “would be an unequivocal disappointment” in any other year, “in 2020, with overall electricity demand falling by around 1 percent and nuclear reactors increasingly being called upon to provide load-following support to the increased share of variable renewable generation, the resilience and flexibility shown by the global nuclear fleet tell a very positive story.”

Nuclear energy ensures clean energy jobs for American workers

September 8, 2021, 6:59AMANS Nuclear CafeSteven P. Nesbit and Lonnie R. Stephenson

America’s electric utility workers and nuclear engineers are ready to work together to help rapidly decarbonize and electrify the economy. We welcome provisions in the bipartisan infrastructure bill that aim to prevent premature closures of our nuclear power plants. Through measures such as production tax credits, President Biden can safeguard America’s largest carbon-free energy source by recognizing the clean-air contributions of nuclear energy.