Vogtle-4 containment as it appeared last month. Photo: Georgia Power
In what has become for nuclear advocates an all-too-familiar refrain, Georgia Power has made another revision to the Vogtle nuclear expansion project schedule. The company now predicts a Unit 3 in-service date in the third quarter of 2022 and a Unit 4 in-service date in the second quarter of 2023, representing a three-month shift for each unit.
An F-35A Lightning II takes off from Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska on July 1, 2021. (Photo: U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Jose Miguel T. Tamondong)
The Department of the Air Force has selected Eielson Air Force Base as the site of a stationary microreactor that “will provide the installation with a clean, reliable, and resilient nuclear energy supply technology for critical national security infrastructure,” the department announced on October 15.
Limerick nuclear power plant. (Photo: Arturo Ramos)
The Department of Energy is providing $50 million in a cost-sharing project with Exelon Generation to digitalize the control room at the company’s Limerick nuclear power plant, the department announced yesterday. Once implemented, the facility will house the first fully digital safety system upgrade at a U.S. nuclear power plant.
Nuclear power capacity by scenario, 2020–2050 (STEPS: stated policies scenario, APS: announced pledges scenario, NZE: net-zero emissions by 2050 scenario). (Graphic: IEA World Energy Outlook 2021)
The International Energy Agency released its flagship report, World Energy Outlook 2021, on October 13, “at a time when policymakers are contending with the impacts of both climate change and volatile energy markets” and ahead of the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, which begins October 31. With a net-zero emissions by 2050 (NZE) scenario that calls for nuclear power capacity to almost double by 2050, the report acknowledges that rapid development of advanced nuclear technologies could expand opportunities for nuclear energy to provide low-carbon electricity, heat, and hydrogen.
Neutron noise monitoring allowed engineers to observe and interpret vibration characteristics captured by neutron flux detectors. (Photo: PSEG/Westinghouse)
The nuclear industry has historically relied on intermittent ultrasonic test and visual inspections of pressurized water reactor components to identify and manage degradation. While this reactive approach has proven to be effective, imagine a scenario in which the degradation could propagate throughout the reactor internals, making a more proactive measure necessary to avoid a major enterprise risk to the plant. Could a utility identify the onset of degradation within the reactor internals during plant operation? If so, could a repair be developed prior to the next refueling outage to prevent additional, cascading degradation? That is exactly the situation that Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) and Westinghouse engineers were able to navigate over the course of the 2019–2020 operating cycle at Salem Unit 1, resulting in a tremendous success for the plant and a historic landmark in the nuclear industry, while earning the team a 2021 Nuclear Energy Institute Top Innovative Practice (TIP) award.
The Darlington nuclear power plant.
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has approved the renewal of the site preparation license for Ontario Power Generation’s Darlington new-build nuclear project. First granted in 2012, the license is now valid until October 11, 2031.
One of two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors to remain unfinished at the Summer nuclear power plant. (Photo: SCE&G)
Kevin Marsh, former chief executive officer and chairman of the board of directors of SCANA Corporation, has become the first person to be sentenced to prison for involvement in the 2017 collapse of the $10 billion Summer nuclear plant expansion project. Marsh was sentenced in federal court on October 7 and in state court on October 11.
The failure to complete the construction of two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at the single-unit nuclear plant in Jenkinsville, S.C., cost ratepayers and investors billions, damaged the brands of then owners SCANA and Santee Cooper, and put some 6,000 people out of work.
Three isophase bus ducts at a nuclear power plant exit the turbine building at the upper left, then branch off the main buses (center) to the reactor unit's auxiliary transformer on the right. (Photo: Ameren Missouri)
Over the course of the last year, many power plants have shortened, postponed, or rescheduled their maintenance outages due to the pandemic. Unfortunately, this has caused some critical maintenance activities to be put on the back burner. For some in the power generation industry, this has presented uncertainties as the volume of unplanned outages caused by deferred maintenance has risen.