Power & Operations

Maintaining RIPB in commercial LWRs

September 1, 2022, 12:08PMNuclear NewsKent B. Welter

The new standard ANSI/ANS-30.3-2022, Light Water Reactor Risk-Informed, Performance-Based Design, has just been issued by the American Nuclear Society. Approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) on July 21, 2022, the standard provides requirements for the incorporation of risk-informed, performance-based (RIPB) principles and methods into the nuclear safety design of commercial light water reactors. The process described in this standard establishes a minimum set of process requirements the designer must follow in order to meet the intent of this standard and appropriately combine deterministic, probabilistic, and performance-based methods during design development.

Mexico’s Laguna Verde-2 receives 30-year life extension

September 1, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News
The Laguna Verde nuclear power plant. (Photo: HFStudio)

Unit 2 at Mexico’s Laguna Verde nuclear plant has been given the go-ahead to operate into the 2050s, plant owner and operator Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE) announced last week.

Mexico’s secretary of energy, Norma Rocío Nahle García, approved a 30-year extension to the unit’s operating license on August 25, following a review by the country’s National Commission for Nuclear Safety and Safeguards. The reactor, one of two at the plant, is now authorized to run until April 10, 2055.

NARUC white paper examines nuclear’s role in advancing decarbonization

August 31, 2022, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) has published Nuclear Energy as a Keystone Clean Energy Resource, a white paper that examines the role of nuclear power in providing carbon-free energy in the United States. The 57-page paper, prepared by Energy Ventures Analysis, includes a review of considerations for regulators to boost nuclear power’s contribution to the decarbonization energy transition.

A key point made in the paper is that reaching ambitious state and national decarbonization goals will require expansion of the nuclear energy resource base. Despite this, a number of barriers stand in the way of nuclear fleet expansion. Moreover, existing nuclear power plants must continue to deal with challenges, such as those from economic pressures, planned reactor retirements, regulatory issues, and competition with other energy industries.

Twice-extended Civil Nuclear Credit deadline now one week away: Who will apply?

August 30, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

The deadline for first-round applications to the Department of Energy’s Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) Program is September 6. While the program’s goal has never shifted from providing support to nuclear power plants facing closure for economic reasons so that they can continue generating clean power, the deadline and the first-round eligibility criteria have changed. The program was established by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law with a sizable, yet finite, fund of $6 billion. Those applying in the first round will get the first—and possibly the best—crack at a share of the funds.

California lawmakers to vote on Diablo Canyon life extension

August 29, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
California's Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

A bill to extend operations at California’s Diablo Canyon nuclear plant beyond 2025 debuted last evening in the California legislature. Lawmakers have until Wednesday—the end of the current legislative session—to vote on the measure.

Coauthored by State Sen. Bill Dodd (D., Napa) and Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham (R., San Luis Obispo), Senate Bill 846 includes a $1.4 billion forgivable loan to Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), the plant’s owner and operator, matching the amount in the August 12 proposal from Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom. Instead of Newsom’s proposed option for a 10-year life extension for the facility, however, SB 846 would keep the plant running for an additional five years only.

USNC, Hyundai partner on microreactor procurement and prospects

August 29, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
Francesco Venneri (left), USNC CEO, and Hyeon Sung Hong, Hyundai Engineering CEO, at a framework agreement signing for MMR project development and deployment.

Representatives of Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC) of Seattle, Wash., and Hyundai Engineering of Seoul, South Korea, traveled last week between USNC project sites in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Ontario, Canada, to sign two agreements extending their collaboration on the deployment of USNC’s high-temperature, gas-cooled Micro Modular Reactor (MMR). The agreements expand on a business cooperation agreement signed in January 2022 and an engineering agreement signed in June, and follow the closure earlier this month of a previously announced $30 million equity investment after its review by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

The Level 1 probabilistic risk assessment standard for nuclear power plant applications

August 29, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear NewsPatricia Schroeder

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers/American Nuclear Society Joint Committee on Nuclear Risk Management (JCNRM) has issued a new edition of its flagship standard, ANSI/ASME/ANS RA-­S-­1.1-­2022, Standard for Level 1/Large Early Release Frequency Probabilistic Risk Assessment for Nuclear Power Plant Applications. This standard was approved by the JCNRM, the ANS Standards Board, and the ASME Board on Nuclear Codes and Standards before being approved on May 11 by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), earning the title of an American National Standard. With most of the text stable for the past year, the production process was started early, allowing the 400-­page standard to be published on May 31, 2022.

Rolls-Royce inks deal to deploy SMRs in the Netherlands

August 29, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News
From left: Bas Sujis (ULC-Energy), Sophie Macfarlane-Smith (Rolls-Royce SMR), Joanna Roper CMG (U.K. ambassador to the Netherlands), Alan Woods (Rolls-Royce SMR), and Dirk Rabelink (ULC-Energy). (Photo: Rolls-Royce SMR)

The United Kingdom’s Rolls-Royce SMR has signed an exclusive agreement with ULC-Energy—a Dutch nuclear development company established in 2021—to deploy small modular reactor stations in the Netherlands. (ULC stands for Ultra Low Carbon.)

NuScale signs MOU to explore advanced nuclear in Estonia

August 26, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
Artistic rendering of a NuScale nuclear power plant. (Image: NuScale Power)

NuScale Power yesterday announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Estonia’s Fermi Energia, a company focused on small modular reactor development to address the Baltic state’s climate and energy security goals.

Under the MOU, Fermi Energia will evaluate the Portland, Ore. – based firm’s small modular reactor design for deployment in Estonia. (There are no nuclear power facilities in Estonia or in the other Baltic countries, Latvia and Lithuania.)

Taishan-1 EPR resumes operation a year after shutting down over reactor damage fears

August 25, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
The Taishan nuclear power plant in China. (Photo: CGN)

China’s Taishan-1, which was shut down last summer due to damaged fuel rods, resumed operations on August 15.

The plant briefly made headlines last summer—as much for the damage inside the reactor as for the media fallout. In June 2020, plant operators found damage to the cladding on about five of the 60,000 fuel rods in Taishan-1, one of the plant’s two 1,660-MW EPRs. What happened next seemed like a bad game of “telephone.”

Perfecting the public-private partnership: Is X-energy leading the way?

August 24, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News

X-energy has been having a good year. Not only did Dow announce plans to invest in the company’s high-temperature gas reactor (HTGR) technology and deploy an Xe-100 reactor at a U.S. Gulf Coast facility for power and process heat by 2030, in parallel with the Xe-100 demo planned for Washington state with support from the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP), but X-energy’s fuel subsidiary, TRISO-X, has applied for a fuel facility license and aims to have a commercial fuel plant operating in 2025, and Canadian provinces are signaling their interest in the technology. And while news of Dow’s investment broke with well-deserved fanfare, the company’s serious interest in HTGRs—and federal support for HTGR development—goes way back.

Akkuyu-1 polar crane mounted

August 24, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
Turkey’s Akkuyu-1 receives its polar crane. (Photo: Akkuyu Nuclear)

Akkuyu Nuclear, the Ankara-based Rosatom subsidiary established to manage Turkey’s Akkuyu nuclear plant project, has announced the successful mounting of the Unit 1 polar crane. The operation was carried out using a Liebherr LR 13000 crane and took approximately four hours, according to Akkuyu Nuclear.

Also referred to as a circular bridge crane, the polar crane operates on a circular runway located near the spring line of the containment building. It is used for a wide range of loading and lifting tasks within containment, including reactor-head removal/replacement and fuel loading/unloading.

Update on Ukraine

August 22, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. (Photo: Ralf1969, Wikimedia Commons)

The latest news on Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant—under occupation by the Russian military since early March—sparks some hope, but also more anxiety.

The good: This morning, Russia requested that the United Nations Security Council hold a meeting tomorrow on the situation at the six-unit pressurized water reactor plant, according to RIA Novosti, a Russian state-owned news agency. The RIA report cited a post via the Telegram messaging app from Dmitry Polyansky, Russia’s first deputy minister at the UN. In the post, Polyansky said the meeting is scheduled for “22:00 Moscow time on August 23.”

The coal-to-nuclear conversion: Are Gen IV reactors the answer?

August 19, 2022, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Artist’s rendering of the IMSR Core-Unit. (Credit: Terrestrial Energy)

In the ongoing quest to mitigate the effects of climate change, new technology can create new solutions. Even today, however, coal is still a main source of power around the globe, often out of necessity. Many coal-burning plants have already been converted for gas or biomass, but these measures alone are not nearly enough to meet net-zero carbon goals. There is a better solution, however: repowering coal plants with nuclear technology—specifically, Generation IV reactors.

Germany’s nuclear decision: Hold the confetti for now

August 17, 2022, 3:03PMNuclear News
The Neckarwestheim nuclear power plant in Germany.

For the few members of the nuclear community who haven’t already been made aware, the Wall Street Journal yesterday published a story headlined “Germany to Keep Last Three Nuclear Power Plants Running in Policy U-Turn.” According to the WSJ, the German government plans to postpone retirement of the plants—all of which had been slated for closure by the end of 2022—fearing an inadequate energy supply this winter.

Newsom proposes $1.4 billion loan to keep Diablo Canyon running

August 17, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

There is still a chance for California’s last remaining nuclear power plant to stay open.

Last Friday, more than 50 nuclear advocates testified in support of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant at a California Energy Commission workshop. Many spoke of the need for California to shore up its electricity grid in the face of coming heat waves and power outages. Others emphasized that closing the plant, which generates 2.2 GW of electricity and currently provides 8.6 percent of the state’s total supply and about 15 percent of its low-carbon electricity, would be devastating to California’s emission-reduction goals.

South Korean firms invest $250 million in TerraPower

August 16, 2022, 3:03PMNuclear News

U.S. nuclear technology company TerraPower announced yesterday the close of a $750 million equity raise—one of the largest advanced-nuclear investment drives to date, according to the announcement—with $250 million of that contributed by South Korean firms SK Inc. and SK Innovation.

Both firms are subsidiaries of the Seoul-based conglomerate SK Group, South Korea’s second-largest conglomerate, after Samsung Group.

Congress passes climate bill with tax credits and more for nuclear

August 15, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

After hours of debate alternating between Democratic praise for the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and Republican denunciation of it, the House of Representatives late Friday passed the sweeping energy, tax, and health care package in a straight party-line vote, 220–207. Its passage represents a significant win for President Biden, who is expected to sign the bill into law this week.

The boldly named $430 billion measure includes $369 billion in energy security and climate spending, with nuclear energy included among the beneficiaries.

Pact signed to advance IMSR development in western Canada

August 12, 2022, 9:29AMNuclear News

Evidence that Canada is serious about becoming a world leader in small modular reactor deployment continues to mount. Ontario-based SMR developer Terrestrial Energy yesterday inked a memorandum of understanding with Invest Alberta—a crown corporation of the government of Alberta that promotes the province internationally—to support commercialization of the company’s Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) in western Canada.