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Plant reaches milestone on course for commercial operation File photo of construction in the reactor hall at Mochovce-3. Courtesy Slovenske Elektrarne. The Mochovce-3 nuclear power unit in southwest Slovakia was on Wednesday (2 February) connected to the national grid and is supplying electricity to local consumers for the first time, utility Slovenske Elektrarne said.

Slovenske Elektrarne said the VVER-440 pressurised water reactor unit had reached 20% of its design output levels before being connected to the grid.

On 13 January, the company received regulatory approval to begin startup procedures for Mochove-3. Power levels would be gradually increased to 100% of the nominal reactor output with testing continuing at various stages of the process.

Mochovce-3 has an installed capacity of 471 MW and is expected to meet about 13% of Slovakia’s electricity consumption, Slovenske Elektrarne said.

A significant portion of the startup process lies ahead with testing to continue at various stages between 35% and 100% of nominal power levels.

Date: Thursday, 02 February 2023
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Investment in new reactor capacity concentrated in China File photo of first concrete being poured at the Zhejiang nucler power station in China. Courtesy CGN. Nuclear power generation could increase by as much as 80% globally by 2050 if policies are implemented that are consistent with maintaining global average temperature rises well below 2°C and 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels in 2100, according to a new report.

The BP Energy Outlook 2023 says in its “accelerated” and “net zero” scenarios the pace and extent of decarbonisation are broadly in line with Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scenarios in which the future of global energy is dominated by four trends: declining role for hydrocarbons, rapid expansion in renewables, increasing electrification, and growing use of low-carbon hydrogen

The report says nuclear power generation increases by around 80% by 2050 in the accelerated scenario and more than doubles in the net zero scenario.

Investment in new nuclear capacity is concentrated in China – which accounts for 50-65% of the growth in nuclear power in both scenarios – supported by new capacity in other emerging economies and an extension of lifetimes and restarting of existing plants in some developed economies.

Date: Wednesday, 01 February 2023
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Tashkent planning reactors in southeast of country IAEA safety review team members and Uzatom experts inspect the meteorological station near the nuclear power station site. Courtesy IAEA/Neil Harman/Jacobs. An International Atomic Energy Agency team has concluded a five-day mission to Uzbekistan to review the country’s safety processes for evaluating the site of its first commercial nuclear power station.

The IAEA site and external events design review service (Seed) team said the extent and quality of data collection and site monitoring were an excellent basis for site development.

The team said Uzatom, the state agency for the development of nuclear energy, should reorganise existing data and collect additional data according to IAEA guidelines. It should implement a management system that covers all aspects of site evaluation including work organisation, planning, independent verification and documentation.

Uzatom also needs to identify and select engineering measures to provide plant cooling and site protection from external events and finalise a preliminary safety analysis report. This would ensure “well-informed decision-making” related to construction licensing, investments and safety assessment phases.

Date: Wednesday, 01 February 2023
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‘No technical arguments’ for shutting down nuclear plants after 40 years Unit 2 at the Tihange nuclear power station in Belgium is scheduled for permanent shutdown this week. Courtesy Electrabel. Belgium should repeal its 2003 nuclear exit law as it looks for ways to deal with the energy crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and resulting gas and electricity price increases, the Brussels-based Belgian Nuclear Forum said.

The underlying argument of the 2003 law is that a nuclear plant is obsolete after 40 years and should be decommissioned, the forum said.

“Nothing could be further from the truth: there are no technical arguments for definitively shutting down a nuclear power plant after 40 years of operation, but only political arguments,” it added.

The forum issued the statement as owner and operater Engie Electrabel prepares to permanently shut down the Tinhange-2 nuclear power plant on 31 January. The 1,008-MW pressurised water reactor unt began commercial operation on 1 June 1983 and has been online for 40 years.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the last couple of decades have witnessed increased interest in the extension of the operating life of nuclear power plants. Extending the life of a plant is more economical than building a new one, and where it makes business sense. The agency says about 90% of US plants have already renewed their licences to extend their operation to 60 years, with additional extensions for a total of 80 years being considered. In Europe, plants are regularly seeking lifetimes of 60 years.

Date: Tuesday, 31 January 2023
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Companies have ‘concrete plans’ for rapid expansion The new JV plans to begin manufacturing Triso particles and FCM fuel in late 2025. Courtesy USNC. France-based nuclear company Framatome and US-based Ultra Safe Nuclear have signed a non-binding agreement to form a joint venture to bring commercially viable, fourth-generation nuclear fuel to market for USNC’s micro-modular reactor (MMR) and other advanced nuclear power plant designs.

The joint venture expects to begin manufacturing Triso particles and fully ceramic microencapsulated (FCM) fuel in late 2025.

The two companies said they had developed “concrete plans” to support rapid expansion to meet demand growth for advanced nuclear fuel in the US and global markets.

The partnership follows the opening of USNC’s pilot fuel manufacturing facility at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in August, the first and only privately funded facility in the US to manufacture Triso particles.

Date: Tuesday, 31 January 2023
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Decision on reactor supplier expected by end of year Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. A decision on the choice of technology supplier for the country’s first nuclear plant is expected this year. Courtesy Ninaras/Wikimedia France’s state nuclear power company EDF is ready to support Kazakhstan as the central Asian country prepares for the construction of its first commercial nuclear power station, but faces competition from other reactor suppliers including Russia.

Vakisasai Ramany, senior vice-president for development of new nuclear projects and engineering at EDF, said he had met Kazakhstan’s energy minister Bolat Akchulakov and energy vice-minister Zhandos Nurmaganbetov to discuss “the perspectives of the cooperation in the civil nuclear domain between Kazakhstan and France, for the development of their nuclear power plant programme.

“EDF is strongly committed to bringing its state-of-the-art EPR1200 technology, its competences, skills and dedication to support [project company] Kazakhstan Nuclear Power Plants for the construction and safe operation of its future nuclear power plants in the spirit of a long-term partnership,” Ramany wrote on social media.

EDF’s Generation III+ EPR1200 technology is a smaller version of the large-scale EPR1650-MW nuclear plant. EDF is also proposing the EPR1200 for new build in other countries such as Slovenia and the Czech Republic.

Kazakhstan’s energy ministry said EDF is one of four potential suppliers of nuclear technology now being considered by Kazakhstan, alongside China National Nuclear Corporation, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power and Rosatom of Russia.

Date: Tuesday, 31 January 2023
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California company evaluating 15 sites for Aurora microreactor Oklo is evaluating 15 different sites for its Aurora nuclear power plant. Courtesy Oklo. US-based advanced nuclear technology company Oklo has submitted a licensing project plan to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a recycling facility that would produce commercial material from used light water reactor fuel.

Oklo has won $17m (€15.6m) in Department of Energy awards for technology development in support of commercialising production of advanced reactor fuel from used nuclear fuel.

The licensing project plan outlines the company’s plans for “pre-application engagement activities” that support the future licensing of a first-of-a-kind fuel recycling facility.

The company said: “Oklo will use an electrorefining-based technology to recycle used nuclear fuel. A critical way this process differs from the legacy reprocessing methods is that electrorefining keeps the major and minor actinide elements combined. For this reason, many refer to the electrorefining process as inherently ‘proliferation-resistant.”

Date: Saturday, 28 January 2023
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Stuk says two-unit VVER station safe for long-term operation Loviisa, about 100 km east of Helsinki, provides more than 10% of the country’s electricity. Courtesy Fortum. The Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (Stuk) has given a positive safety review for a proposed operating lifetime extension of the two-unit Loviisa nuclear power station until 2050.

Stuk said it has given the green light to Finland’s economic ministry which is to grant a final permit to owner Fortum to continue the operation of two VVER-440 pressurised water reactor units at the Loviisa site after their current licenses expire in 2027 and 2030.

The government is expected to issue final decision on the operating licence extensions in early 2023, Fortum said.

In March 2022, Fortum said it would submit a lifetime extension application to the Finnish government.

Loviisa, about 100 km east of the capital Helsinki, was the first commercial nuclear power facility in Finland and according to Fortum provides more than 10% of the country’s electricity.

Date: Saturday, 28 January 2023
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Operator says it will resubmit application by end of year Diablo Canyon is California’s only operating commercial nuclear power station. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has turned down a request from operator Pacific Gas & Electric to reopen its 2009 application to extend the operating licences of the Diablo Canyon nuclear station’s two reactors, which are to shut down in 2024 and 2025.

In October 2022, PG&E asked the NRC to resume consideration of an application initially submitted in 2009 to extend the station’s life. That application was later was withdrawn after PG&E announced plans in 2016 to shut down the reactors.

In September 2022, California legislators had voted to extend the life of the station by five years as protection against possible blackouts – provided the federal government pays much of the cost. That effectively meant the utility’s 2016 deal to close the facility could be cancelled.

The legislation said PG&E will receive a $1.4bn (€1.2bn) loan to keep Diablo Canyon operational until October 2030, but the loan is contingent upon the company receiving money from the US Department of Energy to pay the state back under a $6bn federal programme to help struggling nuclear plants.

Date: Friday, 27 January 2023
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DOE needs to learn to work with private sector, report concludes The report looks at ways the DOE should prepare to commercialise advanced nuclear energy. Courtesy Idaho National Laboratory. A US-based think tank has produced a report that proposes ways for the Department of Energy to convert advanced nuclear technologies into commercial realities.

According to the Nuclear Innovation Alliance report, some of the key tasks ahead in developing essential advanced nuclear reactor technologies are in business, which will require the DOE to learn to work with the private sector to rebuild the supply chain and complete new projects on time and on budget,

When private companies have confidence in budgets and schedules, they are more likely to invest and deploy new technologies, the report says.

It calls for an overarching advanced nuclear energy plan which would “create the organisation and structure required to commercialise advanced nuclear energy”.

Date: Thursday, 26 January 2023
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