Nuclear News on the Newswire

Texas talks nuclear as forecast calls for rolling blackouts

Texans are likely to experience intermittent power outages this summer, according to an analysis by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

Members of ERCOT, the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT), and others from the energy industry spoke to the state’s House of Representatives’ Committee on State Affairs earlier this week. ERCOT’s newest report indicates a 16 percent chance of an electric grid emergency and a 12 percent chance of rolling blackouts in August—likely occurring on nights when there is low wind power production.

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DOE approves safety design strategy for Radiant microreactor test plan

Radiant Industries announced on June 4 that the safety design strategy (SDS) for a test of its Kaleidos microreactor in the National Reactor Innovation Center’s DOME test bed at Idaho National Laboratory now has approval from the Department of Energy. Radiant hopes to test Kaleidos—a 1-MW high-temperature, gas-cooled reactor—by 2026 and then market portable commercial reactors to power remote locations and provide backup or primary power for critical applications in hospitals or for disaster relief.

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California lawmakers, governor at odds over Diablo Canyon funding

In budget discussions conducted last week, the California legislature rejected a $400 million budget item to help keep the state’s sole remaining nuclear plant operational.

Diablo Canyon—owned by Pacific Gas & Electric—has been the subject of much debate in California. To meet grid demands during a record hot summer in 2022, Gov. Gavin Newsom had cut a deal to give $1.4 billion to support continued operations at the 2,200-MWe nuclear facility.

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TerraPower breaks ground on SMR project in Wyoming

A ceremony in Wyoming yesterday marked the official start of construction of TerraPower’s planned Natrium reactor demonstration project.

While currently awaiting final review from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, TerraPower is moving forward with nonnuclear construction work at a retired coal plant near Kemmerer, Wyo. The groundbreaking brought together TerraPower leaders, government officials, Natrium project partners, industry advocates, and community supporters.

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New fusion energy strategies and partnerships announced at White House event

Just one week after the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy hosted a summit on domestic nuclear deployment, they filled a room again on June 6 for a livestreamed event cohosted with the Department of Energy to announce a new DOE fusion energy strategy and new public-private partnership programs, and to hear directly from stakeholders—including scientists, private fusion companies, investors, and end users—during panel discussions on fusion science and technology progress and the path to fusion energy commercialization.

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USA’s John Christensen on the supply chain and other things

Christensen

The conversation was casual with John Christensen, president and chief executive officer of Utilities Service Alliance, as he reflected on his 17 years with the organization. Christensen will be stepping down from USA to retire at the end of the year. He will be succeeded as president and CEO/managing director by Karen Fili, most recently with Urenco USA.

USA is a nonprofit organization incorporated in 1996 to provide its utility and nonutility members a business platform to collaborate on plant performance and economic benefit initiatives. Currently, USA members include 39 nuclear reactors (and one uranium enrichment plant) that provide more than 39,650 MWe of generation. As Christensen explained, USA members get the best of both worlds: the fleet benefits by working with USA while keeping the flexibility of independent operator status. (See the sidebar below for a members list.)

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Wyoming as a hub for the nuclear supply chain?

A 60-year-old Wyoming industrial machinery company has joined forces with nuclear innovator BWX Technologies to build and deploy 50-megawatt microreactors in America’s heartland over the coming years to provide carbon-free heat and power for industrial users.

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Words from Westinghouse: The nuclear supply chain impacts and challenges

Power generation from nuclear fission as a clean and stable source of electricity has secured the interest of policymakers and industry leaders around the globe. Last fall, the United States spearheaded a pledge at COP28 to get countries to agree to triple nuclear capacity worldwide, and recently the members of the Group of 7 (G7) nations that currently use nuclear power have reaffirmed their pledges to invest in that power source to cut carbon emissions.

As of this writing, U.S. policymakers are trying to make good on that promise by passing legislation to support nuclear power, funding the domestic fuel supply chain, and working to pass the ADVANCE Act. On top of the support from Washington, D.C., power-hungry industries like data centers and chemical engineering are looking to secure stable, carbon-free power directly from power plants.

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