Power & Operations

U.K.’s Hinkley Point C hit with further delay

May 26, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
Hinkley Point C’s Unit 2, in March of this year. (Photo: EDF Energy)

The target date for the start of electricity generation at Hinkley Point C’s Unit 1 reactor has been moved back to June 2027, following the completion of a schedule and cost review of the new nuclear build project, EDF announced last week.

While the review considered the main aspects of the project to construct two 1,630-MWe EPRs in Somerset, England, the schedule and cost of electromechanical works and of final testing were not examined, according to the utility.

Westinghouse, Hyundai E&C ink nuclear projects pact

May 26, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News
The world's first AP1000 reactors to enter operation, Sanmen units 1 and 2, in China. (Image: Westinghouse Inc.)

Westinghouse Electric Company and South Korea’s Hyundai Engineering & Construction have signed an agreement to “jointly participate in global AP1000 plant opportunities,” the Pennsylvania-based nuclear technology firm announced on May 24.

NuScale takes next step toward SMR deployment in Romania

May 25, 2022, 3:02PMNuclear News
The first overseas NuScale Energy Exploration (E2) Center is planned for Romania. (Photo: NuScale)

Small modular reactor developer NuScale Power announced on Monday the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Romania’s Nuclearelectrica to conduct engineering studies, technical reviews, and licensing and permitting activities at a site in Doiceşti, Romania, selected as the preferred location for the deployment of a NuScale VOYGR power plant.

South Korea makes offer on Poland’s nuclear project

May 25, 2022, 9:22AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Seung Chul Lee, deputy chief executive officer of Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power, has told the Polish Press Agency that KHNP is willing to cofinance the construction of six nuclear power units in Poland. KHNP formally offered to construct the APR1400 reactors, with a total capacity of 8.4 GW, in April. The Polish government plans to have the country’s first nuclear reactor begin operating in 2033 and for subsequent reactors to be completed every two to three years thereafter.

Michigan House passes bill to study new nuclear build

May 25, 2022, 7:17AMNuclear News

Rep. Graham Filler (Photo: Michigan House Republicans)

It’s not all bad news from Michigan. While it may not make up for the closing of Covert, Mich.’s Palisades nuclear plant, the state’s House of Representatives last week easily approved legislation that calls for a feasibility study to examine the potential for new nuclear generation.

Introduced on April 14 by Rep. Graham Filler (R., 93rd Dist.), House Bill 1609 passed the chamber 85–20 on May 19 (just one day prior to Entergy’s announcement that it closed Palisades 11 days before its scheduled retirement). Now in Senate hands, the measure instructs the Michigan Public Service Commission to engage an outside consulting firm to conduct the study.

Should the bill become law, the commission must deliver a report on the study to the governor and congressional leadership within 18 months.

Join ANS for virtual lecture on computational fluid dynamics

May 24, 2022, 3:00PMANS News

ANS is set to host a virtual event titled “Turbulence Modeling and Reynolds-Averaged Navier-Stokes,” the first in a new four-part lecture series on computational fluid dynamics (CFD) presented by the Society. The webinar runs from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. (EDT) on Wednesday, May 25, and is open to ANS members only. Advance registration is required.

Poll: Finns favor fission at record level

May 24, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News

The Finnish public’s support for nuclear power is at an all-time high, according to a recent opinion poll conducted by Kantar Public, a London-based consulting and research firm.

Commissioned by Finnish Energy—the trade association for Finland’s energy sector—the poll finds that 60 percent of respondents have either a “fully positive” or “mainly positive” perception of nuclear power as an energy source (34 percent and 26 percent, respectively), up from 49 percent in a 2021 Kantar poll.

Entergy closes Palisades 11 days early

May 23, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
The Palisades nuclear power plant

Despite last month’s strong (and many might say overdue) expression of interest from Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in extending the operational life of the Palisades nuclear power plant via the Department of Energy’s new Civil Nuclear Credit Program, the facility’s 777-MWe pressurized water reactor was removed from service last Friday—11 days prior to its scheduled May 31 retirement date.

Illinois consumers are saving money by keeping nuclear plants open

May 23, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Byron nuclear power plant (Photo: Constellation)

“Keeping Illinois nuclear plants open is saving some customers $237 a year on average,” reads the headline of a recent CNBC article about the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, which was passed by the Illinois legislature and signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in September 2021. The legislation includes a provision to keep Illinois nuclear power plants open to meet the state’s clean energy goals, even if the facilities are not profitable.

Cost drivers of nuclear steam cycle construction

May 20, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear NewsDaniel Moneghan

Interest in reducing carbon emissions around the world continues to climb. As a complement to the increasing deployment of variably generating renewables, advanced nuclear is commonly shown in net-zero grid modeling for 2050 because it represents firm electricity production that can flex in output with load demands.1 However, these projections are challenged by the high levelized cost of electricity associated with legacy nuclear construction, which is often more than double that of modern combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plants.

A passionate call to save Diablo Canyon

May 20, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

In a recent opinion piece for the San Luis Obispo Tribune, Heather Hoff describes her conversion from nuclear energy skeptic to advocate and lays out the case for keeping the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant open beyond its planned closure in 2025.

Hoff, who is an operations procedure writer at Diablo Canyon, tells how she spent years "excessively and sometimes annoyingly" investigating her concerns about the safety of nuclear after she was first hired at Diablo Canyon. She adds that she almost quit her job after the Fukushima accident until realizing that many concerns about that event were triggered by "fear of nuclear, rather than nuclear itself.”

DOE extends application deadline for nuclear credit program

May 18, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News

The Department of Energy today announced an extension to its deadline for applications and sealed bid submissions under the $6 billion Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) Program, launched earlier this year.

According to the DOE, owners and operators of nuclear power reactors most at risk of premature retirement due to economic difficulties have 47 more days to submit applications for certification and sealed bids for credits. The deadline for the first CNC award cycle, originally set for tomorrow, is now 11:59 p.m. MDT on July 5.

Returning Colorado to “the power of the atom”

May 18, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Fort St. Vraine (Photo: NRC)

In a May 15 piece, the editorial board of The Denver Gazette has weighed in on Colorado’s continuing controversy regarding how the state gets its electricity. While the current discourse in the state primarily pits fossil fuels against wind and solar, the board asks, “How about an energy source that generates almost limitless power, leaves no carbon footprint, and produces practically no emissions? It’s nuclear power—as green as you can get.”

What are the key cost drivers for microreactors?

May 17, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

Microreactors upend the traditional economics of nuclear power plants by shifting the paradigm from economies of scale (large reactors) to economies of multiple (mass production). While shrinking power output per unit may increase costs per kilowatt compared to large plants, offsetting gains can be expected from simplified and standardized designs, factory fabrication, inherent safety, lower radionuclide inventories, fast installation, and low financing costs. For instance, the lower power density in a microreactor core leads to a greatly reduced decay heat source, simplifying emergency cooling needs. These design aspects can lead to innovations including substantial simplifications to safety and control needs, minimized human operational requirements, a very compact balance of plant, the ability to fabricate almost every component in a factory, shortened construction time, and less daunting financing.

The Atlantic: Build what we’ve already invented

May 16, 2022, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe

“What if I told you that scientists had figured out a way to produce affordable electricity that was 99 percent safer and cleaner than coal or oil, and that this breakthrough produced even fewer emissions per gigawatt-hour than solar or wind?” That’s the question that Derek Thompson, a staff writer at The Atlantic, asks in his article, "The Forgotten Stage of Human Progress," before revealing, “The breakthrough I’m talking about is 70 years old: It’s nuclear power.”

U.S. nuclear capacity factors: A smaller fleet invested in the future

May 13, 2022, 2:59PMNuclear NewsSusan Gallier

The United States has just 93 operating power reactors at this writing. The fleet last numbered 93 in 1985, when nuclear generation topped out at 383.69 TWh, less than half of the 778.2 TWh produced in 2021.

While the 93 reactors operating today have more capacity, on average, than in 1985, most of that increased productivity is down to operational improvements that pushed the fleet’s average capacity factor from just 57.5 percent in the three-year period 1984–1986 to near 90 percent by the early 2000s.

Cavendish Nuclear, X-energy to collaborate on HTGR deployment in U.K.

May 13, 2022, 9:34AMNuclear News

A cross-section view of X-energy’s Xe-100 reactor. (Image: X-energy)

U.K. nuclear services company Cavendish Nuclear has signed a memorandum of understanding with U.S. reactor and fuel-design engineering firm X-energy to act as its deployment partner for high-temperature, gas-cooled reactors (HTGRs) in the United Kingdom.

Headquartered in Rockville, Md., X-energy is the developer of the Xe-100, an 80-MWe reactor with a modular design permitting it to be scaled into a “four-pack” 320-MWe power plant. As a pebble bed HTGR, the Xe-100 would use TRISO particles encased in graphite pebbles as the fuel and helium as the coolant.

According to a May 11 joint statement from the companies, development and deployment of HTGRs in the United Kingdom would support an increase in the nation’s energy security, contribute toward the government’s net-zero-by-2050 commitment, and create considerable opportunities for the U.K. nuclear supply chain.

Focusing on nuclear plant life-cycle O&M from the beginning

May 12, 2022, 3:12PMNuclear NewsChuck Goodnight

Chuck Goodnight

Nuclear plant designers focus on safety and efficiency, and rightly so. But the next steps for new nuclear power technologies and new-build programs are typically focused on “overnight costs,” or the costs to develop the site and construct the nuclear power plant. The problem is that the overnight costs are only the “table stakes” in a much longer game. Investors and stakeholders must have the staying power to play until the end, which now looks to be close to 100 years after the start of a new-build program.

Assuming that the initial estimates of overnight costs are surmountable, total life-cycle costs (TLCs) should be next on the agenda, as they will significantly drive the final levelized cost of energy. TLCs include overnight costs, the operating company’s startup and development (or expansion) costs, life-cycle O&M costs, life-cycle capital reinvestment, shutdown/SAFSTOR, decommissioning and dismantling, and site remediation. The largest element of TLCs will be the non-fuel portion of life-cycle O&M costs, and the largest portion of those costs will be for labor.

Energy Harbor joins with blockchain firm for data center project

May 12, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
Energy Harbor’s Beaver Valley plant houses two reactors: Unit 1, a 939-MWe pressurized water reactor, and Unit 2, a 933-MWe PWR. (Photo: Energy Harbor)

Energy Harbor has signed a memorandum of understanding with blockchain company Standard Power to develop a large-scale carbon-free data infrastructure operation adjacent to the Beaver Valley nuclear plant, located in Shippingport, Pa.

In its May 9 announcement, Energy Harbor described Standard Power as “a leading infrastructure service provider for advanced data processing companies and a leading hosting provider for blockchain mining companies.”

Energy Harbor is based in Akron, Ohio.