- US Commits $275M to NuScale SMR for Romania; $4B Pledged for Future Funding
- Oklo Announces Sites for Two Nuclear Power Plants in Southern Ohio
- SMRs Considered For Indonesian Fertilizer Plant
- UK’s Newcleo Launches €1 Billion Equity Raise For LFR Development
- Zeno Power Gets $30M to Build a Radioisotope powered satellite for DOD
- IAEA- Action Needed In Bid To Meet Rising Demand for Uranium
- Fusion Industry Association Releases Supply Chain Report
- DOE Launches Inertial Fusion Energy Program
US Commits $275M to NuScale SMR for Romania; $4B Pledged for Future Funding
US Department of State Press Release – The United States and Multinational Public-Private Partners Look to Provide Up To $275 Million to Advance the Romania Small Modular Reactor Project; United States Issues Letters of Interest for Up To $4 Billion in Project Financing
On May 20th at the G7 Leaders Summit in Hiroshima, President Biden announced concrete steps to implement the vision of the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII) to mobilize $600 billion by 2027 in infrastructure investments around the world.
The announcement included public-private support for the Romania small modular reactor (SMR) project from the United States, Japan, Republic of Korea, and United Arab Emirates of up to $275 million, which includes a Letter of Interest from U.S Export-Import Bank (EXIM) for up to $99 million from the EXIM Engineering Multiplier Program.
In addition, EXIM and U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) issued Letters of Interest for potential support of up to $3 billion and $1 billion, respectively, for project deployment.
Together with new pledges by Romania, these commitments demonstrate the power of multinational cooperation and public-private partnership on transformative infrastructure projects and will move forward Romania’s leading-edge SMR project, based on the U.S. firm NuScale Power LLC technology, towards deployment in 2029.
The Romania SMR project will replace a former coal plant at Doicesti, located about 55 miles northwest of Bucharest, with clean power and will capitalize on the experience gained on the first SMR project under development in the United States at the Carbon Free Power Project in Idaho. The Doicesti SMR project builds on over a quarter century of Romania’s safe and secure nuclear power plant operation experience.
Partners advancing the SMR project include Japan Bank for International Cooperation (Japan); DS Private Equity (Republic of Korea); EXIM Bank Romania, S.N. Nuclearelectrica S.A., Nova Power & Gas S.R.L. (Romania); Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC, United Arab Emirates); DFC and EXIM (United States).
Commitments will support procurement of long lead materials, finalization of front-end engineering and design (FEED) work, provision of project management expertise, site characterization and regulatory analyses, and precise schedule and budget estimates for project execution.
ENEC’s involvement in the Romanian SMR project, through in-kind contribution of nuclear experts, represents the first nuclear energy-focused activity undertaken within the U.S.-UAE Partnership for Accelerating Clean Energy (PACE) platform.
PACE was launched in November 2022 to catalyze $100 billion in financing, investment, and other support to deploy 100 new gigawatts of clean energy capacity by 2035, delivering further momentum and impact on the road to the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28), which the UAE will host in November 2023.
US Multi-Lateral Support for Nuclear Energy
The State Department press statement added that “this multilateral endeavor to deploy safe and secure civil nuclear technology is a testament to the essential role nuclear energy plays in the global clean energy transition and meeting our collective goal to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The United States is committed to supporting the use of innovative clean energy technologies to power global decarbonization efforts and provide energy security and independence to partners around the world.”
NuScale “”Thrilled” with the News
NuScale said in a social media statement, “At the #G7 Summit in Japan, the Biden Administration announced global partner commitments including up to $275M for the deployment of a NuScale VOYGR™ #SMR power plant. The commitment from the U.S. government, alongside support from public-private partners, highlights the crucial role NuScale SMRs will play in the future of global decarbonization.”
“As an integral part of the U.S. government’s Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, the announcement comes at a pivotal time to propel plans to deploy the first NuScale VOYGR™ SMR power plant in Romania.”
“NuScale is thrilled to have support from the Biden Administration and these international partners as we work to transform the energy sector with carbon-free and reliable power.”
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Oklo Announces Sites for Two Nuclear Power Plants in Southern Ohio
Oklo, a developer of commercial nuclear power plants, and the Southern Ohio Diversification Initiative (SODI), an economic development organization in Piketon, OH, have signed an agreement for a site to host second and third commercial powerhouse sites.
The agreement also details collaboration on jobs, community engagement, facility repurposing, and the potential for additional power plants.
Oklo’s commercial power plants will provide up to 30 MWe of clean electric power, and over 50 MW of clean heating, with opportunities to expand. The plants will also support job creation in the area, furthering SODI’s mission to improve the quality of life for the southern Ohio community through both economic diversification and the advancement of clean energy solutions.
SODI is one of the leading partners for the Site Reuse Deployment Guidance for Advanced Reactors project, along with team members from Orano Federal Services LLC, Southern Nuclear Company, Electrical Power Research Institute Inc, and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Idaho National Laboratory (INL).
The project was funded through a grant from the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy to support the deployment of advanced reactor technology and the use of former nuclear sites.
“Oklo is accelerating our commercialization plans with sites for two more plants confirmed, building on our commercial deployment in Idaho,” said Jacob DeWitte, co-founder and CEO of Oklo.
Oklo obtained a site use permit from the DOE for the Idaho site at INL in 2019. Oklo was awarded fuel for its first reactor and is a leader in advanced reactor licensing and deployment. These plants will also help scale up the supply chain for Oklo’s plants.
“Our business model, and use of mature, demonstrated reactor technologies allow us to provide power to customers who want the reliable, clean, and affordable energy we can provide,” added DeWitte. Oklo’s unique business model centers around owning and operating its power plants, making it easier for customers to procure energy through power purchase agreements or similar structures.
The development of Oklo’s commercial power plants will help reinvigorate the local communities surrounding the site, paving the way for a cleaner and more resilient energy infrastructure and long-term and high-tech economic benefits to the region.
“SODI is proud to partner with Oklo and see the land developed in a way that will provide benefits to the community and the entire region,” said Kevin Shoemaker, Legal Counsel of SODI.
As Oklo and SODI forge ahead for the deployment of the power plants, the site is also being evaluated for potential future manufacturing or industrial facilities, demonstrating Oklo’s dedication to fostering a long-term relationship with the community for a clean and prosperous future for communities across Southern Ohio and beyond.
Note to Readers: For a deeper dive into the details of this deal, check out the excellent report by Sonal Patel at POWER which, among other things, reveals that Oklo has significantly uprated its reactor design.
According to the POWER report, until recently, Oklo marketed a 1.5-MWe microreactor version of its microreactor trade named “Aurora.” According to Patel’s report, it has expanded its capacity offerings from 15 MWe to 100 MWe.
In addition to providing customers with choices for more electrical generation capacity, Oklo told POWER that “the design is simplified with more affordable and simpler components, and it is modular, which allows the company to achieve cost competitiveness.”
“This is an uprate of the Aurora design, and we consider it part of the Aurora liquid metal fast reactor product family. With the same amount and type of fuel but different heat transport mechanisms (flowing sodium versus liquid metal in heat pipes), significantly more heat can be transported from the fuel—hence being able to produce 15 MWe versus 1.5 MWe nominally.”
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SMRs Considered For Indonesian Fertilizer Plant
(WNN) A collaboration between Danish and Indonesian companies will study the operational and regulatory conditions for constructing an ammonia production facility in Indonesia powered by Copenhagen Atomics’ small and modular thorium molten salt reactors.
Four Danish companies – Copenhagen Atomics, Aalborg CSP, Alfa Laval and Topsoe – have signed a memorandum of understanding with Indonesian ammonia producer Pupuk Kalimantan Timur (PKT), together with Pertamina New & Renewable Energy to investigate building a facility in the city of Bontang on the eastern coast of the island of Borneo, in the province of East Kalimantan.
The facility, expected to open in 2028, will produce 1 million tonnes of ultra-low emission ammonia annually, with an estimated investment of USD4 billion. This is sufficient to produce fertilizer for the production of food for 45 million people, about one-sixth of the Indonesian population. During the plant’s 50-year lifetime, it will produce ammonia worth USD25 billion at today’s prices.
In addition to the ammonia synthesis, Topsoe will supply newly-developed electrolysis cell technology, called Solid Oxide Electrolyser Cell (SOEC). SOEC is claimed to make the production of hydrogen up to 30% more efficient than competing technologies. Hydrogen is an intermediate stage in the production of ammonia.
- Alfa Laval will deliver heat exchangers to optimize the energy balance of the plant, and desalination to produce ultra-pure water for the electrolysis process.
- Copenhagen Atomics will supply its thorium molten salt small modular reactors (SMRs). The nuclear power plant part of the project will comprise of 25 SMR modules proving a total of 1 GWe.
Aalborg CSP will design and supply thermal energy storage systems, molten salt based steam boilers providing the energy balancing required to integrate the energy production from the SMR modules with electricity production and waste heat from power turbines with production of ultra clean water.
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UK’s Newcleo Launches €1 Billion Equity Raise For LFR Development
(NucNet) Generation IV nuclear power plant developer Newcleo is aiming to commission a 30 MW demonstrator and pilot nuclear power plant for innovative fuels by 2030.
The company, which has facilities in London, England and Lyon, France, said it is planning a “major investment” of €3bn ($3.2bn) to build the plant in France.
Last year London-based nuclear startup Newcleo, which is looking to develop Generation IV small reactor technology, announced the successful closure of a €300m ($315m) equity raising campaign.
Newcleo, founded by Italian physicist and entrepreneur Stefano Buono, aims initially to develop small 20-30 MW reactors that could be used to power ships or islands and can be safer, cleaner and cheaper than existing reactors.
Within the next five years, the company intends to finalizee the design and realize a full-scale non-nuclear industrial prototype in collaboration with the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA).
Newcleo said it wants to build a plant to produce mixed plutonium-uranium oxides (MOX) and is contracting France-based Orano to conduct feasibility studies. The use of MOX fuels in Newcleo’s reactors will be a further step towards their cost-competitive, sustainable approach, as it will decrease the environmental and financial cost of radwaste disposal, the company said.
The industrial-scale manufacturing of MOX fuel will secure the future fuel supply needed for the operation of the company’s first 30 MW prototypes in France and the UK, Newcleo said.
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Zeno Power Gets $30 Million to Build a Radioisotope Powered Satellite for DOD
(Space News) Zeno Power Systems was awarded a $30 million contract to build a radioisotope-powered satellite for the U.S. Air Force by 2025. The startup develops RPS systems, a type of nuclear energy technology that converts heat from decaying nuclear materials into electricity.
The company’s co-founder and chief executive Tyler Bernstein told SpaceNews, the four-year contract is a “strategic funding increase” agreement that provides $15 million in government funds, matched by $15 million from private investors.
Zeno, a startup founded in 2018, develops radioisotope power systems (RPS), a type of nuclear energy technology that converts the heat from decaying nuclear materials directly into electricity.
Bernstein said the company designed an RPS concept for small satellites with the goal of making the technology more accessible. NASA for decades has used RPS to power deep-space probes but the technology has not been commercialized due to cost and high regulatory hurdles.
Zeno’s RPS is smaller and uses other materials than normally found in RPS. Bernstein expects the system to clear regulatory hurdles and be approved for launch in 2025, taking advantage of a more streamlined U.S. government review process for nuclear-powered space missions.
According to Space News, a key feature of Zeno’s system is that it does not rely on plutonium. NASA’s planetary missions use RPS fueled by plutonium 238 isotope, which is in short supply and not commercially available. The Department of Energy produces only enough plutonium 238 to support key NASA missions.
The Air Force in the past has used the isotope strontium-90 as a power source but its applications were limited due to its large mass and low efficiency. Zeno’s RPS uses strontium isotope with a novel design that results in a lighter weight heat source. Bernstein said the company is exploring the use of other isotopes in the future.
The first demonstration of Zeno’s RPS heat source will take place this summer at a Department of Energy lab.
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IAEA- Action Needed In Bid To Meet Rising Demand for Uranium
(NucNet) Significant innovation and qualified personnel will be needed to recover untapped uranium resources to fuel the reactor fleet of the future, International Atomic Energy Agency director-general Rafael Grossi told the International Symposium on Uranium Raw Material for the Nuclear Cycle in Vienna.
“When we look at the global situation as well as the UN sustainable development goals and the Paris Agreement, addressing it all will largely depend on our ability to have one factor right: energy,” Grossi said.
Currently, some 60,000 tonnes of uranium are required annually to fuel the world’s 410 operating nuclear power plants, according to the 2022 Red Book, a publication on uranium resources, production and demand issued by the IAEA and the Nuclear Energy Agency.
However, with countries increasingly expected to turn to nuclear power to address climate change, energy security and sustainable development, demand could be as high as 100,000 tonnes of uranium per year by 2040.
That would require a near doubling of uranium mining and processing from current levels, the IAEA said. Amid this fresh focus on uranium during the global energy crisis, which has seen energy costs skyrocket, uranium spot prices have increased by some 50% over the last two years.
Nuclear power generating capacity could more than double by 2050, according to the IAEA’s latest projections. According to the International Energy Agency, nuclear power capacity must double in a secure global pathway to net zero emissions by mid-century.
According to the Red Book, there are more than six million tonnes of uranium resources in the ground, roughly equivalent to 100 years of current demand. Not all this identified uranium is expected to become nuclear fuel and a large amount is technically challenging to recover.
“Globally, there is a need for more uranium exploration and new mine development in the near term to meet growing demand,” said Brett Moldovan, leader of the IAEA uranium resources and production team.
“Looking further ahead, to ensure the long-term sustainability of nuclear energy, further innovations will be needed so that challenging low-grade uranium resources can be identified and mined in a safe, secure and environmentally sound way.”
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Fusion Industry Association Releases Supply Chain Report
- Report Finds Billions in Opportunities in the Fusion Supply Chain, Calls for More Investment
- Fusion companies spent over $500 million on their supply chain in 2022
- Supply chain spending set to grow to over $7 billion by “First of a Kind” power plant
- Over half of fusion companies say suppliers need to invest now to meet scaling ambitions
- But suppliers reluctant without firm commitments
The Fusion Industry Association (FIA) today released a report – The Fusion Industry Supply Chain: Opportunities and Challenges – analyzing the current fusion supply chain and projecting a huge growth in demand for fusion suppliers over the coming years. The report also found limited concern about geopolitical supply risk and a reluctance amongst suppliers to make the investments needed without firm commitments.
The survey of 26 private fusion companies and 34 supplier companies (all FIA affiliate members) calculated that the supply chain was worth over $500 million in 2022. That figure is set to increase to over $7 billion by the time companies build their “First of a Kind” power plants and when the fusion industry reaches maturity, the supply chain is predicted to be worth trillions of dollars.
However, fusion companies are getting signals from suppliers that they are reluctant to make the necessary investment right now. Seventy percent of fusion companies said their suppliers see building the capacity to meet future demand as too risky without committed orders.
“The projected growth of the fusion industry creates a huge business opportunity for current and new suppliers,” says Andrew Holland, CEO of the FIA.
“It is clear more long-term certainty is needed – through a mix of finance, regulation, risk-sharing mechanisms, and more communication – so suppliers are prepared to scale ahead of industry need.
“The fusion supply chain has a unique advantage as it is not reliant on rare materials only found in unstable countries, but on high quality manufacturing and specialist components that come from open economies. With appropriate private and public investment, fusion energy will one day provide a sustainable, reliable, and abundant form of clean energy to communities around the world.”
The report makes several recommendations to address supplier reluctance:
- Increase investment, both public and private, into fusion to give confidence about the necessity of supplier scale.
- Experiment with risk-sharing financing to enable suppliers to invest in new capacity – such as through fusion investors making investments in key suppliers.
- Create online networks and an annual supplier event, to help communication and awareness between fusion companies and suppliers.
- Deploy standardization and regulation to bring more certainty to the supply chain and confidence to make long-term investments.
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DOE Launches Inertial Fusion Energy Program
(AIP) The Department of Energy issued a funding opportunity through which it expects to award a total of $45 million to establish a series of multi-institutional “hubs” for inertial fusion energy R&D. (DOE Press statement)
It is the first solicitation from a new program in DOE’s Fusion Energy Sciences program called Inertial Fusion Energy Science & Technology Accelerated Research (IFE-STAR) and is the start of a foray by DOE into R&D related to producing energy from inertial fusion methods such as laser-driven fusion.
Most DOE inertial fusion research is funded through the National Nuclear Security Administration and is aimed primarily at obtaining data relevant to the long-term stewardship of nuclear warheads. Congress mandated the creation of an inertial fusion energy program through the Energy Act of 2020.
DOE’s solicitation also notes that the move follows from a recommendation in a 2013 National Academies report that “a national, coordinated, broad-based inertial fusion energy program” be created once the threshold of fusion ignition is crossed — a milestone the National Ignition Facility achieved in December. DOE plans to provide $9 million for the program in 2023 and hopes Congress will appropriate the remainder in coming years.
- Submission Deadline for Pre-Applications: May 30, 2023, at 5 PM Eastern Time
- A Pre-Application is required
- Pre-Application Response Date: June 6, 2023, at 5 PM Eastern Time
- Submission Deadline for Applications: July 11, 2023, at 11:59 PM Eastern Time
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