- Philippines Signs 123 Pact with US Opening the Door to SMRs
- USNC Signs MOU with Manila Electric Co
- NuScale’s Interest in Philippine Energy Market
- Sweden Wants Two New Large-Scale Nuclear Power Plants Online By 2035
- UAE / Fourth Barakah Reactor Receives Operating License
- US, UK Lead Pledge to Triple Nuclear Power by 2050 at COP28
- US / UK Ink Fusion Agreement
Philippines Signs 123 Pact with US Opening the Door to SMRs
On November 16, 2023, the United States and the Philippines signed a civil nuclear “123 Agreement,” at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in San Francisco. Following approval by the US Congress, the agreement will open the door to exports from US firms of small modular reactors (SMRs) to that country. Several firms have ongoing efforts to do business there.
Uses of SMRs: Image: NEA/OECD
The agreement marks the successful culmination of the negotiation process launched by Vice President Kamala Harris during her historic trip to the Philippines in November 2022. The signing ceremony took place during the visit of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to attend the APEC summit
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at the APEC meeting, “We see nuclear energy becoming a part of the Philippines’ energy mix by 2032 and we are more than happy to pursue this path with the United States as one of our partners.”
He noted that the Philippines has set an ambitious target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 75% by 2030. With its peak energy demand expected to quadruple by 2040, nuclear energy will help it meet its needs in a sustainable way, he said.
“With access to U.S. material and equipment, the U.S. and the Philippines will be able to work together to deploy advanced new technologies, including small modular reactors, to support climate goals as well as critical energy security and baseload power needs within the Philippines. In a nation of more than 7,000 islands, small modular reactors, some just the size of a city bus, can generate energy locally and conveniently.”
About the 123 Agreement
It lays out a comprehensive framework for peaceful nuclear cooperation between the Philippines and United States based on a mutual commitment to nuclear nonproliferation which is required by U.S. law to allow for the export of nuclear equipment and material from US firms to the Philippines for peaceful uses.
With access to U.S. material and equipment, the U.S. and the Philippines will be able to work together to deploy advanced new technologies, including small modular reactors, to support climate goals as well as critical energy security and baseload power needs within the Philippines.
This agreement also establishes nonproliferation criteria that both governments must uphold such as observing specific standards for covered items used in civil nuclear energy programs, including International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards; physical protection of covered items; and limitations on enriching, reprocessing, and transferring specific items without the other Party’s consent.
Prior Coverage on this Blog
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USNC Signs MOU with Manila Electric Co
The Manila Electric Company (Meralco), the Philippines’ largest electric distribution utility, and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC), signed a cooperative agreement to study the potential deployment of one or more MMR Energy Systems in the Philippines. The agreement builds on the partnership between the two companies announced in August.
Meralco Chairman and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan, who was represented by Meralco Executive Vice President and COO Ronnie L. Aperocho, and USNC Founder and CEO Francesco Venneri executed the deal at the sidelines of the 30th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit. It was witnessed by His Excellency Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Under the cooperative agreement, USNC will conduct a pre-feasibility study that will run for four (4) months to familiarize Meralco with MMR systems and how these can be effectively utilized in the Philippines. Depending on the results of the pre-feasibility study, Meralco has the option to conduct a more detailed feasibility study with focus on the adoption and deployment of MMR energy systems.
The study will help Meralco in critical decisions and potential future activities on project-specific studies and project development plans at identified sites. The study will assess financial, technical, safety, and siting, among other considerations.
About the MMR Energy System
The MMR Energy System features the high temperature helium-cooled micro reactor, the MMR unit or “nuclear battery” that can safely and reliably provide up to 45 MWt of high-quality heat, delivered into a centralized heat storage unit.
One or more MMR nuclear batteries combine their heat in the heat storage unit, from where electric power or superheated steam can be extracted through conventional means to meet a wide range of power requirements, from tens to hundreds of MW.
USNC has developed and patented its Fully Ceramic Micro-encapsulated (FCM) fuel used in the MMR to provide the safest possible nuclear power system at the most fundamental level.
USNC is in pre-licensing engagement with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) through Global First Power (GFP), USNC’s joint venture with Ontario Power Generation, and with U.K. Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR).
The news follows recent announcements including the establishment of a joint venture with Framatome Inc. to manufacture commercial quantities of advanced nuclear fuels, selecting a site for its MMR Assembly Plant, and the successful delivery of advanced TRISO fuel for NASA produced at USNC’s Pilot Fuel Manufacturing facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
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NuScale’s Interest in Philippine Energy Market
Last May NuScale announced it would develop a siting study in the Philippines with the intention of eventually building a six unit SMR facility to produce 472 MW of electricity at an estimated cost of $6.5-7.5 billion.
According to World Nuclear News, NuScale is currently working with partners in the Romania, Indonesia and Poland on projects to deploy its SMRs. All of the projects are in various stages of front end feasibility and engineering studies.
NuScale Remains “Bullish” on Market for SMRs
Speaking at the American Nuclear Society conference held in Washington, DC, this week, John Hopkins, NuScale CEO, said the company will continue with its other projects despite the cancellation of the UAMPS contract for the first plant in Idaho which was due to inflationary costs.
Hopkins said NuScale projects in Romania, Poland and South Korea continue to develop. Last week Poland’s copper miner KGHM Polska Miedz and Romania’s nuclear new-build company RoPower confirmed their commitment to proposed projects using NuScale’s Voygr SMR technology.
He also said a plan with service provider Standard Power to develop 2 GW of nuclear power intended for data centers in Pennsylvania and Ohio was on track. Hopkins said a contract for that project would be completed, “if not this week, next.”
Hopkins added that the firm is solvent.
“I know from a financial perspective we have $200 million in the bank. That’s cash, no debt. So we have a healthy balance sheet.”
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Sweden / Government Wants Two New Large-Scale Nuclear Power Plants Online By 2035
- Energy minister Ebba Busch confirms plans for ‘massive build out’ including small modular reactors
(NucNet) Sweden’s government said it on Thursday (16 November) it is aiming to build the equivalent of two new conventional nuclear reactors by 2035 to meet rising demand for clean power from industry and transport and was prepared to take on some of the costs.
Energy minister Ebba Busch said that by 2045 the government wants to have the equivalent of 10 new reactors, some of which are likely to be small modular reactors (SMRs). According to Busch, the government is planning a “massive build out” of new nuclear power by 2045.
“It’s decisive for the green transition, for Swedish jobs and at heart for the welfare of our citizens,” she told reporters.
Earlier this month Sweden said it was launching an inquiry into building new reactors as it pushes ahead with plans for a major expansion of nuclear power and efforts to remove obstacles to new build. Minister for climate and the environment Romina Pourmokhtari told a press conference to announce the inquiry that it will carry out a review as part of efforts “further facilitate new nuclear power.”
The inquiry will be led by Pernilla Sandgren who has worked as a senior legal advisor to the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority.
Minister Pourmokhtari said the coalition government had already submitted legislation to the Riksdag legislature to make it possible to build new reactors in more locations. She said this action will allow new players to enter the market and build new nuclear power in Sweden.
“To do so, we need to remove obstacles, we need to facilitate and we need to promote the development of new nuclear power in Sweden. By 2045, our electricity production needs to correspond to a forecast electricity demand of at least 300 terawatt hours. Nuclear power has a central and crucial role in our climate transition.”
Sweden has six commercial nuclear power units in operation at three sites: Forsmark, Oskarshamn and Ringhals. According to International Atomic Energy Agency data, nuclear energy provided about a third of the country’s electricity generation in 2021.
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Fourth Barakah Reactor Receives Operating License
(WNN) The United Arab Emirates’ nuclear regulator has issued the license to Nawah Energy Company, clearing the way for commissioning and commercial operation of the unit,
The Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) said it had reached its decision to issue the license after conducting a thorough assessment of the application documentation, conducting robust regulatory oversight and inspections in the areas of safety, security and safeguards.
It also assessed Nawah’s organizational and manpower readiness, and ensured that Nawah was in compliance with all regulatory requirements.
Construction of the fourth Korean-designed APR-1400 unit at Barakah, in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi Emirate began in July 2015, three years after work began on the first Barakah unit. The first three units are now fully operational under FANR’s regulatory oversight.
FANR Director General Christer Viktorsson said FANR has certified 215 Reactor Operators and Senior Reactor Operators, including 78 who are Emiratis, who are qualified to operate the control rooms of the nuclear power plant,
“The review of the operating license application for Unit 4 was conducted by a team consisting of 90% Emirati nuclear experts. This indicates the success of FANR’s strategy in building the capability and skills of Emiratis to regulate the nuclear sector and ensure its safe operation.”
Nawah can now begin the commissioning phase to prepare for commercial operation, during which FANR will carry out around-the-clock inspection at the plant to ensure the nuclear fuel load and testing processes are completed according to regulatory requirements.
The Barakah plant is owned by the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) and operated by Nawah. Barakah 4’s operating license has a duration of 60 years.
The UAE embarked on its plan to implement a nuclear energy program in 2008 when its government made the decision to build and operate a nuclear power plant to provide 25% of the country’s electricity needs, diversifying its energy sources and supporting its long-term energy vision and net zero goals. Construction of the first unit began in 2012, and Barakah 1 was connected to the grid in 2020.
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US, UK Lead Pledge to Triple Nuclear Power by 2050 at COP28
(Wire services) The US will lead a push at the COP28 climate summit to triple the amount of installed nuclear power capacity globally by 2050, marking a major turnaround for the controversial technology at the climate negotiations. The declaration is a marked change from previous Climate Change conferences where anti-nuclear sentiments managed to stifle talk about nuclear energy.
The declaration will call on the World Bank and other international financial institutions to include nuclear energy in their lending policies. The US is expected to be joined by the UK, France, Sweden, Finland and South Korea in the pledge to be signed Dec. 1 in Dubai. Industry commitments are part of the effort. Significantly, Russia and China are not expected to join in the declaration.
A draft of the declaration seen by the news media says the countries recognize “the key role of nuclear energy in achieving global net-zero greenhouse gas emissions/carbon neutrality by or around mid-century.”
According to Joshua Volz, the US Department of Energy’s deputy assistant secretary for Europe, Eurasia, Africa and the Middle East, the US sees such technology as possibly helping slash Africa’s emissions, while also adding more flexible generation capacity. The US is discussing nuclear cooperation agreements with Kenya and Ghana, and renewing a pact with South Africa,
The United Nations’ 28th Conference of the Parties, known as COP28, will take place in the United Arab Emirates, which is the only country in the Arabian Peninsula with a nuclear power program.
COP 28 session – ATOMS4NETZERO 12/05/23 18:30-19:30 GST
Nuclear power provides a quarter of the world’s clean electricity and has an important role to play in the transition to net zero. Recognizing that nuclear power is part of the solution to mitigate climate change, the COP28 Presidency and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will co-host this Ministerial event at COP28 to announce the IAEA Statement on Nuclear Power, which reflects critical role of nuclear in the net zero transition, supported by +50 nuclear operating and newcomer countries, paving the way to count with nuclear in the pathway to net zero.
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US / UK Ink Fusion Agreement
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (DESNZ) have today decided to form a major new strategic partnership to accelerate the demonstration and commercialization of fusion energy.
This new partnership intends to focus on advancing the U.S. Bold Decadal Vision for Commercial Fusion Energy and the UK’s Fusion Strategy.
This new partnership aims to recognize and develop the complementarity between U.S. and UK resources and facilities in fusion, including those in academia, industry and government. This partnership intends to:
- Address the technical challenges of delivering commercially viable fusion energy, pursuant to the existing Agreement between the United States and the UK on Scientific and Technological Cooperation;
- Focus on shared access to and development of major new national facilities required for fusion research and development, and how a coordinated, strategic approach can maximize value for the United States and the UK;
- Explore opportunities to support the international harmonization of regulatory frameworks and codes and standards;
- Identify and support the development of resilient supply chains that will be necessary for commercial fusion deployment;
- Support public engagement with communities, including equity and energy justice, to facilitate social license for deploying fusion energy; and
- Promote skills development to ensure the people and talent growth necessary for the robust, inclusive and diverse workforce required by the fusion sector into the next decade and beyond.
Joint Committee Starts Work in 2024
A focused joint coordinating committee to drive the work of the new partnership is to be announced soon, and this committee is expected to meet for the first time in early 2024.
This committee is to be co-chaired by DOE and DESNZ and is expected to include participation from national laboratories, academia, and industry. The committee is expected to form and oversee working groups to identify and advance priority U.S.-UK collaborative opportunities to realize our shared vision for fusion energy as an integral part of the world’s future energy supply.
It is anticipated that major plant design projects such as STEP in the UK or those part of the U.S. Milestone-Based Fusion Development Program would not be covered by this partnership, though those projects may inform priority research areas of the partnership.
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