Power & Operations

WNA issues its new World Nuclear Performance Report

August 11, 2023, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Bilbao y Léon

The World Nuclear Performance Report 2023 has been released by the World Nuclear Association (WNA), containing a mix of positive and negative news about the global nuclear power industry. On the positive side, according to the report, nuclear energy in 2022 supplied approximately 10 percent of the world’s electricity and roughly 25 percent of low-carbon clean electricity (second only to hydropower). On the negative side, the total amount of electricity supplied by nuclear energy declined by 4.2 percent in 2022 compared with the previous year, and the nuclear industry as a whole is “not growing fast enough to address the challenges of ensuring energy security, tackling climate change, and providing access to clean energy for all,” said WNA director-general Sama Bilbao y León in remarks at the launch of the report.

Swedish regulator proposes framework development for nuclear power

August 10, 2023, 9:31AMNuclear News
The Oskarshamn nuclear power plant in Sweden. (Photo: Daniel Kihlgren)

The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) has issued a final report to the Swedish government regarding its investigation into how the regulatory framework for the country’s nuclear power might be improved.

Bruce-6 nears a return to service

August 9, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
The Bruce nuclear power plant in Ontario, Canada. (Photo: Bruce Power)

Unit 6 at the Bruce nuclear power plant in Kincardine, Ontario, achieved a sustained fission chain reaction over the weekend—a key step in returning the 817-MWe CANDU reactor to commercial operation, Bruce Power announced yesterday.

More funds go to accelerate Sizewell C development

August 3, 2023, 3:18PMNuclear News
A rendering of the Sizewell site on the Suffolk coast. Sizewell A and B are to the left and center (respectively) in the image; the section to the right is Sizewell C. (Image: EDF Energy)

The U.K. government recently confirmed a further £170 million (about $216 million) investment of previously allocated funding for development work on the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power plant project in Suffolk, England.

Final EA and proposed FONSI for MCRE released

August 1, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News
The former Zero-Power Physics Reactor cell at INL’s Materials and Fuels Center could be home to the MCRE. (Photo: INL)

The Department of Energy today released its final environmental assessment (EA) and a proposed finding of no significant impact (FONSI) for the design, construction, and operation of the Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment (MCRE) at Idaho National Laboratory. The draft EA was released earlier this year, in March, for four weeks of public comments.

UAMPS subsidiary applies to NRC to begin CFPP construction activities

August 1, 2023, 9:37AMNuclear News
Concept art of the six-module Carbon Free Power Project, to be sited at INL. (Image: NuScale)

CFPP LLC, the limited liability company established by Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) in 2020 to bring its Carbon Free Power Project to fruition, has applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a limited work authorization (LWA) to permit certain early project construction activities prior to the issuance of a combined license (COL). In a July 31 news release, CFPP said that should its application be approved, early-scope construction on the small modular reactor project would likely begin in mid-2025.

Vogtle-3 begins commercial operation

July 31, 2023, 12:39PMNuclear News
Vogtle-3 (Photo: Georgia Power)

To the ears of the nuclear community, the news from Georgia Power this morning may sound a bit like “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s Ninth: After years of delay, Unit 3 at the Vogtle nuclear power plant has entered commercial operation, becoming the first newly constructed power reactor in the United States in more than 30 years and the nation’s first Westinghouse-supplied Generation III+ AP1000 unit to be placed into service. The new unit joins Vogtle-1 and -2—1,169-MWe four-loop pressurized water reactors that entered commercial operation in the late 1980s.

Southern Nuclear given go-ahead for Vogtle-4 fuel load

July 31, 2023, 10:41AMNuclear News
The Vogtle-4 control room. (Photo: Georgia Power)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has authorized Southern Nuclear Operating Company to begin loading fuel into Unit 4 at the Vogtle nuclear expansion site near Waynesboro, Ga., making the unit the second reactor to reach this milestone in the agency’s combined license process—a little less than one year after Vogtle-3. (Prior to 1989, reactors were licensed under a two-step process, requiring both a construction permit and an operating license.)

The comfort of nuclear power

July 27, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear NewsJames Conca

I am lucky. I live near a nuclear power plant—arguably the best run and most beautiful power plant in the world. It’s comforting.

It’s comforting to see Columbia Generating Station’s clean white plume of pure steam rise into the air every time I leave my house. Every time I’m driving home. Every time it’s freezing outside. Every time it’s scorching hot.

Even the few times when it has gone quiet for refueling, the plant stands like a Norman castle protecting the region from energy poverty. It’s comforting.

DOE land may be available for energy development projects

July 26, 2023, 7:01AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Department of Energy is holding an initial Industry Day on July 28 that is open to parties with proven experience in implementing successful clean electricity projects generating 200 MW or larger.

MHI picked to lead development of Japanese fast reactor

July 25, 2023, 7:02AMNuclear News

Concept art of a tank type sodium-cooled fast reactor. (Image: MHI)

The Japanese government has chosen Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) to head up the conceptual design and research and development of a demonstration sodium-cooled fast reactor, the Tokyo-based engineering firm announced recently.

MHI is to oversee the work in partnership with Mitsubishi FBR Systems Inc. (MFBR), an MHI Group engineering company established in 2007 to develop and design fast breeder reactors.

Conceptual design work is scheduled to commence in fiscal year 2024, with operation of the unit slated for the 2040s.

Reactor roadmap: According to MHI’s announcement, in the strategic roadmap for fast-reactor development adopted by the Japanese Cabinet in December 2018, a policy was defined to assess the efficacy of several types of technologies to be developed following a competition among private-sector companies. The roadmap was subsequently revised by the Cabinet in December 2022, at which time two decisions were made: (1) to select a sodium-cooled fast reactor as the target of the conceptual design of the demonstration unit and (2) to select a manufacturer to serve as the core company in charge of the reactor’s design and requisite R&D.

All ITAACs for Vogtle-4 completed

July 24, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
Vogtle’s Unit 4 reactor in June. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Southern Nuclear, operator of Georgia’s Vogtle plant, has informed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that all 364 inspections, tests, and analyses for Unit 4 have been performed, and all acceptance criteria for the new reactor have been met. Primary plant owner Georgia Power made the announcement last Friday.

Darlington-3 refurbishment completed ahead of schedule

July 21, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
The Darlington nuclear power plant. (Photo: OPG)

Ontario Power Generation has achieved another milestone in its massive Darlington nuclear plant refurbishment project, and in rather impressive fashion: The Unit 3 CANDU reactor has been reconnected to Ontario’s electricity grid 169 days ahead of schedule, according to a July 18 OPG media release.

Energy Harbor files for Perry life extension

July 21, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
The Perry nuclear power plant. (Photo: ANS)

Energy Harbor has filed its initial license renewal application for the Perry nuclear power plant, requesting an additional 20 years of operation for the facility, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced yesterday. Dated July 3, the 2,427-page application is now available on the agency’s website.

What is at the forefront of PRA today?

July 20, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear NewsAskin Guler Yigitoglu

Probabilistic risk assessment is a mature technology that has benefited the safety of the current fleet of light water reactors in the United States since the 1970s. Most utilities have used PRA models as part of risk-informed in-service inspection programs to identify degraded plant conditions for more than two decades. The trends indicate an increasing use of risk-informed applications to support safe and cost-effective long-term operations.

Data science and predictive analytics innovations offer the opportunity to assess, monitor, and manage risk effectively. PRA models are coupled with digital twins informed by sensors and system simulators that provide real-time risk insights. Dynamic PRA approaches were initially introduced to beyond-design-basis event models for LWRs and explicitly model time-dependent operator behavior by simulating the actual plant response. Enhancing the quantification speed and memory usage of the PRA computational tools (both dynamic and traditional) is crucial for future risk-informed efforts.

X-energy, Energy Northwest team for multiple SMR deployments

July 20, 2023, 9:43AMNuclear News

Small modular reactor firm X-energy and Energy Northwest, owner and operator of the Columbia nuclear power plant in Richland, Wash., announced yesterday the signing of a joint development agreement (JDA) for up to 12 Xe-100 SMRs in central Washington, capable of generating up to a total of 960 MWe.

The JDA defines and details the scope, location, and schedule under which the commercial development of the project will move forward, the companies said, adding that they will also work together to determine the best approaches to licensing and regulatory matters, as well as the project delivery model. Currently, the Xe-100 project is expected to be developed at a site adjacent to the Columbia facility, with the first module coming on line by 2030.

Slovakia shows interest in deploying Westinghouse reactors

July 18, 2023, 3:06PMNuclear News
From left: Petr Brzezina, president, Westinghouse Czech Republic and Slovakia; Elias Gedeon, senior vice president, Westinghouse commercial operations; Gautam Rana, U.S. ambassador to Slovakia; and Pavol Štuller, chairman of the board and chief executive officer, JAVYS. (Photo: Westinghouse)

Westinghouse Electric Company yesterday announced the signing of two memorandums of understanding with Slovakia’s state-owned nuclear company JAVYS regarding the potential deployment of the U.S. firm’s AP1000 reactors and AP300 small modular reactors.