Power & Operations

TVA unit begins outage after record run

February 22, 2023, 9:31AMNuclear News
Browns Ferry: A breaker-to-breaker run. (Photo: NRC)

The Tennessee Valley Authority took Browns Ferry-2 off line February 17 for a refueling and maintenance outage, following a nearly two-year, breaker-to-breaker run—the first in the Alabama nuclear plant’s history.

According to the utility, the unit established a new record for itself with 665 days of continuous operation, producing more than 20 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity.

Further delays, higher cost for Vogtle project announced

February 17, 2023, 2:37PMNuclear News
Vogtle Unit 3, in January. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Already for the second time this year, Southern Company has announced a delay to the expected commercial operation of Unit 3 at the Vogtle nuclear plant’s two-unit construction site. In addition, a delay to Unit 4’s startup is also possible, Southern said.

Correction: Nuclear removed from Va. energy fund bill

February 16, 2023, 7:37AMNuclear News


Nuclear Newswire erroneously reported this morning that the Virginia Senate’s Finance and Appropriations Committee on February 15 advanced legislation that included nuclear in a list of energy technologies that would receive research and development funding through a Virginia Power Innovation Fund. In fact, the bill, H.B. 2386, was approved after the committee had stripped nuclear from the list. NN regrets the error.

Following the finance panel’s vote, Del. Israel O’Quinn (R., 5th Dist.), the bill’s sponsor, expressed his disappointment. “The knee-jerk opposition to nuclear innovation is very short-sighted and puts Virginia behind the curve on energy diversification,” he said. “Nuclear energy is inevitably going to have to be a bigger part of Virginia’s energy portfolio. It produces zero carbon and is highly reliable.”

River Bend begins its 22nd refueling outage

February 15, 2023, 3:10PMNuclear News
The River Bend nuclear power plant. (Photo: Entergy)

Entergy’s River Bend nuclear power plant started its 22nd scheduled refueling and maintenance outage on February 11. The plant, located in St. Francisville, La., is a 967-MWe General Electric boiling water reactor.

Belgium mulls life extension for more reactors

February 8, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
Belgium's Doel nuclear power plant. (Photo: N. Hippert/IAEA)

The Belgian government is exploring the idea of extending the operational life of its three oldest reactors by two years, a variety of news outlets are reporting.

Those reactors—Units 1 and 2 at the Doel facility and Unit 1 at Tihange, sporting a combined capacity of 1,852 MWe—were slated to be permanently shuttered in 2025 in keeping with the country’s nuclear phase-out policy.

X-energy, Alberta explore opportunities to support SMR projects

February 7, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News

X-energy Canada, a subsidiary of U.S. mall modular reactor and fuel technology company X-energy, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Invest Alberta Corporation (IAC) to develop economic opportunities in support of the potential deployment of the Xe-100 SMR in the western Canadian province. (Alberta is one of four provinces behind last year’s A Strategic Plan for the Deployment of SMRs—a document that maps the path to capitalizing on the benefits of advanced reactor deployment.)

German public supports nuclear power

February 6, 2023, 7:01AMANS Nuclear Cafe

A new survey by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) indicates that 71 percent of the German public supports the continued use of nuclear energy in the country, while 29 percent want it ended. The survey results, which were reported by German news source Bild and elsewhere, come amid ongoing controversy regarding the current plans by the German government to shut down the nation’s three remaining nuclear power plants in mid-April.

Nuclear regulator greenlights life extension for Loviisa reactors

February 3, 2023, 12:01PMNuclear News
The Loviisa nuclear power plant. (Photo: Fortum)

Finland’s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) recently provided the country’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment with a positive safety review of the Loviisa reactors, bringing the plant closer to an approval for operation to 2050.

Belgium’s nuclear phase-out policy claims second victim

February 2, 2023, 10:34AMNuclear News
The Tihange nuclear power plant. (Photo: Engie Electrabel)

Unit 2 at Tihange, one of Belgium’s two nuclear power plants, was permanently disconnected from the grid late on the evening (local time) of January 31, operator Engie Electrabel has announced.

The 1,008-MWe pressurized water reactor is the second unit in Belgium’s nuclear reactor fleet to be retired in accordance with the country’s 20-year-old law mandating a gradual phase-out of nuclear power. The first Belgian unit to be retired, Doel-3, a 1,006-MWe PWR, was shut down on September 23, 2022. Remaining in operation are Doel-1, -2, and -4 and Tihange-1 and -3.

Northern States Power applies for Monticello SLR

February 1, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
Xcel Energy’s Monticello plant.

Nuclear energy: enabling production of food, fiber, hydrocarbon biofuels, and negative carbon emissions

January 27, 2023, 3:03PMNuclear NewsCharles W. Forsberg and Bruce E. Dale

In the 1960s, Alvin Weinberg at Oak Ridge National Laboratory initiated a series of studies on nuclear agro-­industrial complexes1 to address the needs of the world’s growing population. Agriculture was a central component of these studies, as it must be. Much of the emphasis was on desalination of seawater to provide fresh water for irrigation of crops. Remarkable advances have lowered the cost of desalination to make that option viable in countries like Israel. Later studies2 asked the question, are there sufficient minerals (potassium, phosphorous, copper, nickel, etc.) to enable a prosperous global society assuming sufficient nuclear energy? The answer was a qualified “yes,” with the caveat that mineral resources will limit some technological options. These studies were defined by the characteristic of looking across agricultural and industrial sectors to address multiple challenges using nuclear energy.

Contract for Darlington SMR project signed

January 27, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
A rendering of the BWRX-300 small modular reactor. (Image: GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy)

Wilmington, N.C.–based GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy and Canadian firms Ontario Power Generation, SNC-Lavalin, and Aecon announced this morning the signing of a contract for the deployment of a BWRX-300 small modular reactor at OPG’s Darlington nuclear site in Canada. According to the announcement, it is the first commercial contract for a grid-scale SMR in North America.

NRC announces setback to Diablo Canyon license renewal

January 26, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced January 24 that it will not resume its review of Pacific Gas & Electric’s withdrawn Diablo Canyon license renewal application. This decision is a new setback in the long-running effort to extend the life of the plant.

NRC proposes GEIS revision for renewing reactor licenses

January 24, 2023, 12:01PMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced on January 24 that it has directed staff to publish a proposed rule that includes an update to the license renewal generic environmental impact statement (GEIS), which is used by the agency when considering applications to renew operating reactor licenses.

The proposed rule, to appear in the Federal Register in the near future, is a response to an NRC order that concluded the license renewal GEIS did not analyze the environmental impacts of a subsequent license renewal term (from 60 to 80 years of operation).

Beyond electricity

January 20, 2023, 3:01PMNuclear NewsMatt Wald

Say “decarbonize” and people think about electricity. But the U.S. industrial sector emits nearly as much carbon dioxide and other global warming gases as the electric sector, which rank at 25 and 24 percent of the problem, respectively, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The commercial and residential sectors account for another 13 percent, the EPA says, most of it for space heating. How do we decarbonize that? More specifically, how do nuclear reactors decarbonize that?

Final rule certifying NuScale SMR design published

January 20, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News

A rendering of a NuScale VOYGR plant. (Image: NuScale Power)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued its final rule certifying NuScale Power’s small modular reactor design, making the Portland, Ore.–based company’s power module the first SMR design to be certified by the agency (and only the seventh reactor design okayed for use in the United States).

Published in yesterday’s Federal Register, the rule goes into effect on February 21, allowing utilities to reference the NuScale design when applying for a combined license to build and operate a reactor. The design will be incorporated as Appendix G to 10 CFR Part 52, Licenses, Certifications, and Approvals for Nuclear Power Plants.

As noted last July—when the commission voted unanimously to approve the design certification and directed staff to issue the final rule—an application for a nuclear power plant combined license that references a certified design does not need to address any of the issues resolved by the design certification rule. Instead, the combined license application and the NRC’s safety review would address any remaining safety and environmental issues for the proposed plant.

EDF, Respect Energy to collaborate on nuclear projects in Poland

January 20, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
An illustration of EDF’s NUWARD small modular reactor technology. (Image: EDF)

France’s Électricité de France and Polish renewable energy trader Respect Energy have signed a cooperation agreement to develop nuclear power projects in Poland based on EDF’s NUWARD small modular reactor technology, the companies jointly announced last Friday.

California PUC opens vote on Diablo Canyon extension

January 20, 2023, 7:14AMNuclear News
The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has voted to open a rulemaking to consider extending the lifetime of the 2,289-MW two-unit Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. The plant, which turns 50 this year, is the only remaining operational nuclear power facility in California. It generates nearly 10 percent of the state’s electricity needs.

Nebraska to examine potential SMR sites

January 18, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News

Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD), owner and operator of the Cornhusker State’s only operating nuclear power facility—the single-unit Cooper plant—is beginning the process of studying locations that could potentially host small modular nuclear reactors, the utility announced last Friday.

The effort will be financed through L.B. 1014—a state measure approved in April 2022 that appropriates the $1.04 billion allocated to Nebraska from federal pandemic relief funds.