Power & Operations

Risk insights map an efficient approach to aging management

October 28, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear NewsSusan Gallier

Any method that can enhance safety, reduce risk, and lower costs is worth a second look. When that method proves it has the potential to optimize aging management at any nuclear power plant, it’s time to spread the word.

In 2019, a small team focused on selective leaching began looking for a way to use risk insights to optimize the implementation of deterministic aging management programs (AMPs). What they started soon grew into a large team effort by Constellation, Ameren, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), and the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), along with contractors Enercon and Jensen Hughes, to develop a generic framework and then test it in two very different pilot applications.

New Slovakian reactor reaches first criticality

October 28, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News
Slovakia’s Mochovce nuclear plant, located about 62 miles east of Bratislava, the nation’s capital. (Photo: Slovenské Elektrárne)

Unit 3 at Slovakia’s Mochovce nuclear power plant achieved initial criticality on October 22, plant owner Slovenské Elektrárne has announced.

The utility started the reactor’s first fuel load September 9—after receiving in August a final authorization for commissioning from the Slovak Nuclear Regulatory Authority—and completed the process three days later.

TerraPower, PacifiCorp to consider expansion of Natrium deployment

October 28, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News
An artist’s rendering of Natrium. (Image: TerraPower)

Nuclear technology firm TerraPower and utility partner PacifiCorp have launched a study to evaluate the feasibility of deploying up to five additional Natrium reactor and integrated energy storage systems in the utility’s service territory by 2035, the companies announced yesterday. (PacifiCorp’s business units—Pacific Power and Rocky Mountain Power—serve customers in California, Oregon, and Washington, and in Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming, respectively.)

Canada invests nearly C$1 billion in OPG’s SMR project at Darlington

October 27, 2022, 6:56AMNuclear News
Artist’s rendering of a BWRX-300 plant. (Image: GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy)

Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) has finalized an agreement with Ontario Power Generation, committing C$970 million (about $715 million) to Canada’s first small modular reactor, to be located at OPG’s Darlington nuclear power plant in Clarington, Ontario.

A state-owned enterprise founded in 2017, CIB is charged with financially supporting revenue-generating infrastructure projects in the public interest via public-private partnerships. The agreement with OPG is the bank’s largest investment in clean power to date, according to a Tuesday joint announcement.

Poland hints at choice for first nuclear build; Westinghouse sues KHNP

October 25, 2022, 2:58PMNuclear News

Poland’s deputy prime minister Jacek Sasin and U.S. energy secretary Jennifer Granholm meet in Washington on October 23. (Photo: gov.pl)

Following a meeting in Washington, D.C., on Sunday with secretary of energy Jennifer Granholm, Polish deputy prime minister Jacek Sasin told reporters that his nation is close to choosing the reactor supplier for its initial nuclear plant project, adding, according to Bloomberg, “There is a big chance that we will finally pick Westinghouse.”

And in a news release on the meeting from the Polish government, Sasin is quoted as saying, “The massive energy crisis that is currently affecting us means that we must quickly make decisions on building the country’s energy security based on new, clean, cheap, and reliable sources, and such a source is nuclear energy. We want the decisive decisions to be made as soon as possible. That is why we asked [Granholm] for a meeting, during which we will clarify all the issues that remain to be clarified.”

ACRS backs NuScale’s smaller, PRA-informed emergency planning zone

October 25, 2022, 12:53PMNuclear News
A rendering of the six-module Carbon Free Power Project planned for construction in Idaho. (Image: NuScale)

NuScale Power announced October 20 that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS) issued a letter the previous day agreeing with NRC staff’s approval of NuScale’s methodology for determining the plume exposure pathway emergency planning zone (EPZ). As approved, the methodology would permit a smaller EPZ—dependent on site-specific conditions, including seismic hazards—that provides the same level of protection to the public as the 10-mile radius EPZs used for existing U.S. nuclear power plants.

Rooppur-2 reactor pressure vessel installed

October 25, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
At Bangladesh’s Rooppur plant, a Liebherr-11350 heavy caterpillar crane raises the reactor vessel to Unit 2’s transportation portal. (Photo: Rosatom)

In case anyone forgot, Russia can build nuclear power plants, not just occupy them—as discussed a week ago on Newswire. Last week in Bangladesh, workers completed the installation of the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) for the second unit at the Rooppur construction site.

Now out from IAEA: 2022 Country Nuclear Power Profiles report

October 25, 2022, 8:43AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The International Atomic Energy Agency has released this year’s edition of Country Nuclear Power Profiles (CNPP), an annual report providing background information on the status and development of IAEA member states’ nuclear power programs. It contains historical information for 50 countries, including 30 with operating plants and 20 with past or planned programs.

The YMG examines nuclear entrepreneurship

October 24, 2022, 11:50AMANS News
Caption: From top left: Stewart, Rampal, Peterson, Bernstein, and Souza participate in the ANS YMG’s “Nuclear Entrepreneurship” webinar.

This year, Nuclear Science Week was October 17–21, and the ANS Young Members Group celebrated by hosting the virtual event “Nuclear Entrepreneurship” on October 18. Panelists were Per Peterson, cofounder and chief nuclear officer of Kairos Power; Robbie Stewart, cofounder of Boston Atomics; Kelsey Souza, chief operating officer of Ultra Safe Nuclear; and Tyler Bernstein, chief executive officer of Zeno Power. The event was moderated by Brett Rampal, director of nuclear and power strategy at Veriten and chief technical analyst at Segra Capital Management.

Germany to keep last nuclear plants running through winter

October 20, 2022, 3:06PMNuclear News
The Neckarwestheim nuclear power plant in Germany. (Photo: EnBW)

German chancellor Olaf Scholz has provided what appears to be the final word on the fate of his country’s three remaining operating nuclear power plants.

Via an October 17 letter, Scholz informed economy and energy minister Robert Habeck, environment minister Steffi Lemke, and finance minister Christian Lindner of his decision to keep all three facilities operating “beyond 31 December 2022 until 15 April 2023 at the latest.” The order ends months of argument between Scholz’s two coalition partners—the stridently antinuclear Greens and the center-right Free Democrats (FDP)—regarding the plants’ continued operation. (Habeck and Lemke are Green Party members, while Lindner is with the FDP.)

Fortum contemplates new nuclear for Finland, Sweden

October 20, 2022, 9:41AMNuclear News

Finnish energy company Fortum has announced the launch of a two-year feasibility study to explore the potential for new nuclear construction, with a focus on Finland and neighboring Sweden. The utility said it will examine commercial, technological, and societal conditions for both conventional large reactors and small modular reactors.

Michigan to weigh pros, cons of new nuclear

October 19, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

Gov. Whitmer

While the fate of Michigan’s Palisades nuclear plant remains uncertain, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has approved legislation requiring a feasibility study to examine the potential for new nuclear generation in the state.

Signed into law last Friday, House Bill 1609 instructs the Michigan Public Service Commission to engage an outside consulting firm to conduct the study.

The measure was introduced in the House on April 14 by Rep. Graham Filler (R., 93rd Dist.) and passed that chamber on May 19, 85–20. On September 28, the bill passed even more comfortably in the Senate, 32–4.

The mandated study is due to the governor and leaders of the state legislature in 18 months.

Radiation monitor maintenance issues challenging our industry—Is this an unintended consequence of the Maintenance Rule?

October 18, 2022, 3:02PMNuclear NewsBilly Cox and Eric Darios

Eric Darios

Billy Cox

Arguably, nowhere does a more robust safety culture exist than in nuclear, an industry that is a model of a learning organization, dedicated to continuous improvement through transparency in identifying and correcting errors and failures. Over the course of maintenance and outage planning, the cornerstones of reactor safety are considered in every decision regarding maintenance and outage activities. Radiation monitoring systems in nuclear power plants are vital to plant safety and regulatory compliance. In addition to the 10 CFR 20 applications, the industry relies on radiation monitors for measuring effluents (RG 1.21, RG 4.15, and Part 50 App A GDC 64), reactor pressure boundary leakage (RG 1.45), and PWR primary to secondary leakage, and to assist in emergency classification (RG 1.97). The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s well-intended Maintenance Rule places maintenance priorities on systems, structures, and components (SSCs) used to mitigate accidents and SSCs used in emergency operating procedures (EOPs). The Maintenance Rule also includes SSCs whose failure could prevent a safety-related SSC from fulfilling its safety-related function and SSCs whose failure could cause a reactor scram or actuation of a safety-related system. Unfortunately, the narrow scope of the Maintenance Rule leaves a significant portion of radiation monitoring systems outside the scope of the rule, which often delays repairs.

Youngkin proposes millions for deployment of nation’s first SMR

October 18, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin announces a $10 million energy innovation investment in Virginia. (Photo: Christian Martinez/Office of the Governor)

Some two weeks after unveiling his state’s 2022 Energy Plan, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has announced his intention to include $10 million in the state’s next budget proposal—due in December—to create the Virginia Power Innovation Fund for research and development of nuclear, hydrogen, carbon capture and utilization, and battery storage technologies.

Vogtle-3 fuel load has begun

October 14, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News
Vogtle Unit 3 in September. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Georgia Power announced this morning that fuel loading at Vogtle-3 has commenced, marking an important milestone on what has proved to be a long and bumpy road to startup and commercial operation of the first new nuclear power reactors to be built in the United States in more than three decades. (Major work on the Vogtle-3 and -4 project began in 2012, with a price tag of $14 billion and scheduled unit start dates of 2016 and 2017. The project’s total cost is now expected to exceed $30 billion.)

OPG, ČEZ to work together on SMR deployment

October 14, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
From left: Czech Republic deputy minister of industry and trade Petr Třešňák, ČEZ’s Tomáš Pleskač, OPG’s Ken Hartwick, Ontario minister of energy Todd Smith, and Canadian ambassador to the Czech Republic Ayesha Patricia Rekhi. (Photo: CNW Group/Ontario Power Generation)

Canada’s Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and Czech Republic–based ČEZ have agreed to collaborate on nuclear technology deployment, including small modular reactors, under a memorandum of understanding signed yesterday in Prague.

Ontario’s largest electricity generator and the European energy giant have both pledged to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.

How has technology shaped the challenge of deploying nuclear energy projects in today’s world?

October 13, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear NewsEddie Guerra

Eddie M. Guerra (eddie.guerra@rizzointl.com) is vice president of civil infrastructure development at Rizzo International.

Eddie Guerra, VP of Civil Infrastructure: Our energy infrastructure is undergoing an unprecedented transformation, which is in turn opening a new wave of challenges for deploying the next generation of nuclear reactors.

The decentralization of power generation will require nuclear plants to be sited closer to demand centers. As the future grid becomes more distributed, energy--intensive customers will demand proximity and flexibility, and new--generation reactors will need to accommodate the intermittency and load--following requirements that a greener and more dynamic grid will pose. Added to that, nuclear projects will need to compete economically within a more liberalized electricity market. Advanced reactor deployments will face unprecedented challenges in today’s world, and in the future.

Despite challenges, advances in engineering and technology point to a very bright future. Smaller reactors with enhanced safety features will allow stakeholders to rethink proximity criteria on siting, opening doors for deployment in new scenarios: university campuses, municipalities in remote areas, or industrial conglomerates, just to name a few.

Bulletin article focuses on World Nuclear Industry Status Report

October 13, 2022, 7:02AMANS Nuclear Cafe

A picture of the state of the global nuclear energy industry has been painted in a recent article by Dawn Stover, a contributing editor at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Stover based her comments on The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2022 (WNISR), published on October 5. The report refers to itself as an “independent assessment of nuclear developments in the world” compiled by an international team.

What’s in the WNISR: In the report, 10 countries—China, Finland, France, Germany, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States—receive a focused analysis based on specific issues affecting their nuclear businesses. Other chapters deal with the statuses of Fukushima, decommissioning in general, potential newcomer countries to nuclear power, and small modular reactors. For the first time, the WNISR also contains a chapter on nuclear power and war.

Westinghouse changes hands again as Cameco buys into $7.9 billion deal

October 12, 2022, 3:15PMNuclear News
Cameco headquarters in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. (Photo: Cameco)

Five years after bankruptcy, Pennsylvania-based Westinghouse is being sold again, this time with a 49 percent share going to Cameco Corp., the front-end uranium mining, milling, and conversion company headquartered in Saskatchewan, Canada. Cameco and Brookfield Business Partners, based in Toronto, Ontario, announced the deal yesterday. Once it closes as expected, in the second half of 2023, Brookfield Renewable Partners and other Brookfield institutional partners will own a 51 percent interest in a consortium with Cameco.