- TerraPower and Pacific Corp Set Plans for Five New Natrium Reactors to Replace Fossil Fuel Power Plants.
- Canada Commits CAD $970M for First SMR at Darlington
- Holtec Project Delivery Plan for SMR-160 in Czech Republic
- Czech Republic Sees Potential Of SMRs For Clean Hydrogen and Process Heat
- US / Canada in Joint Effort to Support Romania’s Cernavoda 3 & 4
- NuScale Power and Prodigy Clean Energy Advance SMR Marine Facility Design
- $150M in Federal Funding for Upgrades to INL Infrastructure
Note to Readers – The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) International Ministerial Conference held in Washington, DC, this week stimulated many announcements about new commitments to the use of nuclear energy to address the challenges of climate change and to support sustainable economic growth. This week’s blog post is the first of two covering the flood of press statements. The rest will post next week.
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TerraPower and Pacific Corp Lay in Plans for Five New Natrium Reactors to Replace Fossil Fuel Power Plants.
- TerraPower and PacificCorp to Assess Need for Five Natrium Nuclear Reactors
TerraPower and PacificCorp announced this week plans to assess the need for five additional Natrium fast reactors in the utility’s service area. The objective is to replace its coal fired power plants with the reactors. The companies are exploring the potential for deployment of five additional Natrium reactors in addition to the one being built at Kemmerer, WY. The objective is to have all of the new units deployed by 2035.
TerraPower and PacifiCorp expect to finish a joint feasibility study evaluating candidate locations by the end of 2023. They’re looking for sites “that have the same energy expertise and capabilities as our demonstration site,” according to a press statement.
Last year PacifiCorp and TerraPower announced their plans to bring the Natrium demonstration plant to Kemmerer, Wyoming, where a PacifiCorp coal-fueled power plant is slated for retirement. The companies’ combined commitment to providing carbon-free energy solutions, while maintaining grid reliability and integrating baseload power that can support intermittent energy resources.
PacifiCorp operates fossil fueled electric generation facilities in a service area that includes Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Montana.
The press statement said both companies will engage with local communities before any final sites are selected. Here are some potential sites.
The Casper, WY, Star Tribune reported 1/28/22 that candidate sites for the new plant include the Wyoming communities of Glenrock, Gillette and Rock Springs.
According to the newspaper, there’s no guarantee, however, that all, or any, of PacificCorp’s remaining coal plants — Glenrock’s Dave Johnston, Gillette’s Wyodak and Rock Springs’ Jim Bridger — will turn out to be the right fit. To be considered for a Natrium reactor, each must meet not only TerraPower’s site criteria and also the strict safety and environmental requirements set by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Under PacifiCorp’s most recent Integrated Resource Plan, released last September, Jim Bridger units 1 and 2 are scheduled for conversion to natural gas in 2024, and units 3 and 4 will retire in 2037. All four units at Dave Johnston will close in 2027. And Wyodak, the last to shutter, will stay open through 2039.
The Salt Lake City Tribune reported on 10/27/22 that the plan by the utilitie to locate nuclear plants near existing coal plants means the companies can use existing transmission lines to distribute the power. That could be good news for Emery County, UT, home to two of PacifiCorp’s largest coal-fired power plants that are set to be retired in the coming years. The utility is one of the county’s largest employers.
Wyoming Uranium Could Fuel the New Reactors
Sourcing uranium, a major concern for the company following uranium-rich Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, won’t be a focus of the feasibility study, Levesque told the Casper Star-Tribute.
He’s confident, though, that the U.S. will have the capacity to enrich uranium to the higher level required for Natrium by the time a second wave of reactors comes online — and that Wyoming will supply at least some of it.
TerraPower expects the NRC safety evaluation for its first reactor to be complete by 2026, and it could to be a longer and more complicated process than for subsequent Natrium projects.
“I would fully expect to be starting new Natrium projects before we receive the operating license for Kemmerer,” Levesque said. “The urgency is really there to bring carbon-free electricity to the grid, so we can’t afford to wait.”
TerraPower has committed the company to an ambitious set of milestone for its first of a kind reactor at the Kemmerer, WY, site. Currently, it is funded under a multi-billion dollar cost sharing agreement with the Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP). To qualify to receive all of the government funding under the ARDP program, the first reactor has to be operational by 2028.
“This joint study is a significant step toward building the energy grid of the future for PacifiCorp’s customers and a tangible example of the promise advanced nuclear brings to utilities serious about leading the nation’s energy transition,” said TerraPower President and CEO Chris Levesque.
“The study will allow us to explore a carbon-free, dispatchable energy resource that could provide reliable power to our customers,” said Gary Hoogeveen, president and CEO of Rocky Mountain Power, a division of PacifiCorp.
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Canada Commits CAD $970M for First SMR at Darlington
The Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) has inked a final term sheet with Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and committed CAD $970 million towards Canada’s first small modular reactor (SMR). It is CIB’s largest investment in clean power to date.
OPG is developing and constructing the GEH BWRX300 SMR next to OPG’s existing 3,500-megawatt Darlington Nuclear Generating Station in Clarington, Ontario.
The CIB-financed Phase 1 work covers all preparation required prior to nuclear construction, including project design, site preparation, procurement of long lead-time equipment, utility connections, implementation of a digital strategy, and related project management costs.
The Darlington SMR will be one of the first ever developed and is expected to spearhead similar projects in Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Alberta, with interest also growing in the U.S. and Europe.
Zero-carbon energy from SMRs is a key pillar in OPG’s Climate Change Plan, which outlines OPG’s goals to become a net-zero carbon company by 2040 and a catalyst for achieving a net-zero economy by 2050.
The project will support Canadian efforts to become a global SMR technology hub in a market estimated to be $150 billion per year by 2040. Once fully constructed by the end of this decade, the SMR will avoid approximately 740,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually – equivalent to the emissions of nearly 160,000 gas cars.
SMRs are a new class of nuclear reactors which are approximately 300 MW or less, have a smaller footprint and a shorter construction schedule, compared to traditional nuclear generating stations. SMRs can provide zero-carbon baseload power across all regions and are crucial to decarbonizing the electricity sector and broader economy.
OPG is an Ontario-based electricity generation company wholly-owned by the Province of Ontario and has more than 50 years of experience operating nuclear facilities.
With an approved Environmental Assessment already in place, the Darlington site is the only location in Canada licensed for new nuclear. The Darlington New Nuclear Project is being managed in a gated approach, subject to OPG board approval at each gate.
A 2020 study undertaken by the Conference Board of Canada shows strong economic benefits from construction and 60 years of operation of a single SMR facility.
CIB’s long-term capital can ensure critical, large-scale clean energy infrastructure projects are built. Through its Clean Power priority sector, the CIB has committed $5 billion towards clean power, renewables, district energy, storage, interties, and transmission.
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Holtec Project Delivery Plan for SMR-160 in Czech Republic
Holtec announced it has concluded a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Škoda Praha and Hyundai Engineering and Construction (HDEC) on October 11th to advance the planning for construction of SMR-160s in the Czech Republic.
Under the Agreement, the parties will develop the division of responsibilities for procurement, construction, and commissioning of SMR-160 plants in Czech Republic in accordance with Czech Codes and Standards and inclusion of Czech content in the delivery of the projects
The Parties will also develop a cost estimate for deployment of the SMR-160 standard design in the Czech Republic.
Holtec has been working with CEZ since 2019, supporting their technical and commercial evaluation of SMR-160 for deployment in Czech Republic and a feasibility study performed under an MOU and technical exchange.
The MOU with CEZ was signed last month to enable continued exchange between the parties for evaluation of SMR-160 deployment at Temelin, where CEZ plans to deploy a pilot SMR as early as 2032. CEZ is also evaluating future deployment of SMRs to replace several coal power plants planned for shutdown in the late-2030’s. Deployment of 24/7 clean nuclear power at these sites is important to ensure stability of the Czech electricity grid.
On a wider front, Holtec has been engaged in a formal technical exchange on SMR-160 with the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic looking at broader applications for SMRs, such as district heating and industrial processes. Holtec has been engaged with electricity intensive consumers in the industrial and transportation sectors in the Czech Republic as future end-users of electricity and process heat produced by SMR-160 plants.
Holtec’s European Program Manager Rafael Marin noted, “SMR-160 modules are an ideal fit in terms of thermal and electrical power production for district heating and industrial applications. We can build as many SMR-160 modules as needed to meet the demands of the site, including traditional grid-scale electricity applications with 4-8 units deployed at a single location. In addition, SMR-160 is based on PWR technology and uses same fuel assembly type and enrichment levels that are in operation in PWRs plants currently, making SMR-160 licensing friendly.”
Holtec’s Senior Vice President of International Projects, Dr. Rick Springman, commented, “The importance of this Agreement should not be understated – it is the starting point for planning project execution of SMR-160 within the Czech and broader European context, supported by three companies with a reputation of delivering real projects in the nuclear sector.”
Holtec senior representatives have also noted that building a replica of Holtec’s planned U.S. SMR Gigafactory in Czech Republic is on the table, depending on the size of commitment for SMR-160 orders in the Czech Republic and competing offers from other European countries that have expressed interest in hosting a Holtec SMR Gigafactory.
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Czech Republic Sees Potential Of SMRs For Green Hydrogen And Heat
- New-generation reactors could be deployed at existing coal sites
(NucNet) The Czech government sees small modular reactors (SMRs) as potentially useful in an emerging hydrogen market and as a source of heat for centralized district heating systems, according to Jozef Sikela, the country’s minister for industry and trade.
Mr Sikela told a conference on nuclear and hydrogen in Prague that the Czech government has started working on an SMR roadmap due in April 2023.
“SMRs are not just a topic for energy policy but also for growth and internal market,” Mr Sikela said.
He said SMRs could be retrofitted at existing coal-fired power plants, replacing coal power generation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. SMRs at coal sites could use existing centralized district heating systems or could be coupled with hydrogen production.
Mr Sikela said hydrogen produced by nuclear power could help meet the future hydrogen demand because the potential for the production of green hydrogen “will be presumably limited”.
“As vendors already declare, hydrogen production from SMRs can be economically viable – the target is to produce it at a rate under $3 per kg of hydrogen,” he said.
A long-term goal is to develop a domestic fuel cell design and ensure the conditions for its local production. The efforts will eventually include the deployment of a large-scale electrolyser, with a capacity of up to 100 MW, at a domestic nuclear power plant in the Czech Republic. However, no timeline was given for the project.
According to the EU’s commissioner for the internal market Thierry Breton, for the success of its hydrogen strategy, the bloc will need a “significant” increase of decarbonized electricity generation.
“If we are serious about our hydrogen objectives, nuclear energy can and will have to contribute,” Mr Breton said.
He added that the nuclear industry should “harness” all the latest technological developments, including SMRs, which could be an “agile and affordable way” to generate power.
Czech state-controlled utility group CEZ plans to deploy new nuclear power capacities in the 2030s, both large-scale at the existing Dukovany site and small-scale at the existing Temelin site.
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US / Canada in Joint Effort to Support Romania’s Cernavoda 3 & 4
Romania’s Minister of Energy Virgil Popescu says Canada and the USA are both offering to help with the financing of the construction of Cernavoda 3 and 4 and said the US firms Fluor Corporation and Sargent & Lundy, Canada’s SNC Lavalin and France’s Framatome had agreed to “explore opportunities for cooperation in the civil nuclear field” with Nuclearelectrica.
Popescu said the “very important announcement for the development of the civil nuclear programme in our country” was unveiled alongside US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, at the International Atomic Energy Agency International Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century.
Writing on Facebook, Popescu said, “through these partnerships we will also achieve our decarbonization targets and, at the same time, strengthen energy independence and security” and “demonstrate that we do not allow energy to be used as a political weapon”.
A separate meeting, with US Assistant Secretary for Energy David Turk, had discussed the status of projects covered by the two countries’ cooperation agreement, said Popescu, including small modular reactors (SMRs).
He added,”The American official conveyed that the Department of Energy is analyzing the possibility of involvement in the financing of the construction of reactors 3 and 4 at Cernavoda, in addition to the financial support we will have from Exim Bank.”
Popescu also said he had discussed joint projects with Canada’s Wilkinson, who had told him Romania had “support and funding from the Canadian government for the retrofitting of reactor 1 and the construction of reactors 3 and 4”.
He added that they had also “discussed the special importance we must give to the training of a new generation of specialists in the development of the nuclear field”.
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NuScale Power and Prodigy Clean Energy Advance SMR Marine Facility Design
NuScale Power LLC (NuScale) and Prodigy Clean Energy Ltd. (Prodigy) have announced a new conceptual design for a transportable and marine-based small modular reactor (SMR) power generating facility that provides improved transportability, manufacturability, economics, safety, and security. The updated concept will be used for engagements with utilities, regulators, and shipyard manufacturers.
Prodigy is a Canadian company specializing in the development of Transportable Nuclear Power Plants (TNPPs).
Conceptual layout and deployment of a Prodigy SMR Marine Power Station integrating 12 NuScale Power Modules (NPMs). Total gross capacity 924 MWe. Structures are not-self-propelled.
Similar to the terrestrial NuScale VOYGR SMR power plant, Prodigy’s SMR Marine Power Station (MPS) is scalable, being able to house from one to as many as 12 NuScale Power Modules (NPM) for a total output of 924 MWe.
After transport to the deployment location, the marine facility would be fixed in place within a protected harbor and connected to shoreside transmission and process heat systems. Nuclear fuel would be loaded in the NPMs as the last step of the commissioning process before beginning power generation.
Operations, security, and fuel handling protocols are equivalent to those used for a traditional nuclear power plant under existing nuclear regulations. At the end of its life, the marine facility would be transported to a marine-accessible center for decommissioning.
NuScale and Prodigy have been collaborating since 2018 under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the joint goal of bringing a competitive North American SMR marine facility to market.
The goal is to develop a product that can generate safe, affordable, and reliable electricity at grid-scale at any coastal location worldwide. Carbon-free power generated by these facilities would support at scale electrification, as well as production of zero carbon fuels, such as hydrogen and ammonia, to decarbonize the transport and shipping sectors.
“NuScale is extremely proud to continue this partnership with Prodigy, as utilization of a transportable marine facility will enable us to deploy the NuScale Power Module at more locations around the world,” said John Hopkins, NuScale Power President and Chief Executive Officer.
“By packaging the [NuScale Power Module] into Prodigy’s marine facility, we will offer countries a near-term solution to address energy security and to decarbonize their economies, including replacing coal-fired plants – many of which are located at the coast,” said Mathias Trojer, Prodigy Clean Energy President and Chief Executive Officer.
Advantages of Floating Power Stations
Compared to terrestrial deployments, the benefits of using Prodigy’s technologies to deploy the NuScale VOYGR SMR power plant begins with manufacturing and outfitting of the entire marine facility in a shipyard, enabling expedited delivery.
Further advantages include a significantly reduced capital expenditure; accelerated project schedule; minimized site preparation; reduced environmental impact; unlocked project financing structures that are not typically available to conventional site-constructed nuclear plants; and simplified and expedited decommissioning and site recovery. The marine facility’s design is standardized to allow for deployment at a wide variety of sites and for serial manufacturing.
Floating nuclear power is attracting more R&D attention as the push for decarbonization accelerates. The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has released a novel proposal in December 202 to manufacture green hydrogen using electricity from a floating nuclear power plant anchored at sea.
Core Power, a company headquartered in the UK, believes that it would be practical to produce one million tonnes of “green” ammonia per year using 1.2 GW of modular nuclear reactor power on a floating platform.
In South Korea, Samsung Heavy Industries has formed a partnership with Danish nuclear-reactor startup Seaborg to develop floating nuclear power plant barges using compact molten salt reactor technology.
Thorcon, a US startup, has a proposal to build floating molten salt reactors for Indonesia using shipyard construction methods.
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$150M in Federal Funding for Upgrades to INL Infrastructure
The US government announced $150 million in funding provided by President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act for infrastructure improvements at the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Idaho National Laboratory (INL) to enhance nuclear energy research and development.
The funding through the DOE will support nearly a dozen projects at INL’s Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) and Materials Fuels Complex (MFC), both of which have been operational for more than 50 years and serve an instrumental role in advancing nuclear technologies for federal agencies, industry and international partnerships.
The funding will accelerate the replacement of aging plant infrastructure systems at ATR and MFC to ensure both remain operational in supporting several initiatives related to nuclear energy research and development.
ATR, for example, conducts research for the US Navy’s nuclear propulsion program and provides fuels and materials testing for industry. MFC contributes significantly to reactor fuels research and is working to produce small quantities of high-assay low-enriched uranium fuel to support future reactor demonstrations.
Infrastructure upgrades at both facilities are expected to be completed within the next four-to-five years and will include improvements to water and electrical distribution systems, process control systems, and roof replacements to improve research facility reliability and operability.
“More than 300 commercial reactors operating around the world today can trace their roots back to Idaho National Laboratory, and these infrastructure investments allow America to continue leading the world in groundbreaking nuclear energy research and development,” said US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm.
When Argonne West, located on the Arco desert in Idaho, about a 25 minute drive due west of Idaho Falls, ID, on highway 20, managed by the University of Chicago, was transferred in 2005 to be managed the Idaho M&O contractor, the name of the facility was changed to “Materials Fuel Complex.”
However, the choice of the name may have had an unusual source. During the University of Chicago’s tenure at the site, the cafeteria there used to produce an afternoon snack of scrumptious baked goods.
According to an urban legend, the name “materials fuels complex” has a hidden root of “mighty fine cookies” in memory of these tasty treats treats.
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