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The Surry nuclear power station in the US state of Virginia. Courtesy US NEI. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved an application by Dominion Energy Virginia for a 20-year extension to the operating licences of the twin-unit Surry nuclear power plant, allowing the two pressurised water reactors to operate for 80 years until 2052 and 2053 respectively.

Surry-1 began commercial operation in 1972 and Surry-2 in 1973 and were originally licensed to operate for 40 years. The units’ licences were renewed for 20 additional years of operation in March 2003.

The NRC has now determined that both plants can operate for an additional 20 years beyond the 60 years covered by the initial and renewed licences.

Dominion submitted the subsequent licence renewal applications in October 2018.

The NRC has documented its findings in a March 2020 final safety evaluation report and an April 2020 final supplemental environmental impact statement. The NRC advisory committee on reactor safeguards also reviewed the safety aspects of renewing the licences. The committee said plans made by Dominion to manage age-related degradation provide “reasonable assurance” that Surry can be operated in accordance with its current licensing basis for the subsequent period of extended operation “without undue risk to the health and safety of the public”.

Date: Friday, 07 May 2021
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The valve housing was supplied by Neles Oy and installed at Olkiluoto nuclear station by TVO. Courtesy Neles Oy. Finnish power companies and nuclear operators Teollisuuden Voima Oyj and Fortum have carried out a joint test of the first valve featuring a 3D printed housing at the Olkiluoto nuclear power station in Finland.

The valve housing was supplied by Neles Oy and installed at Olkiluoto by TVO, which owns and operates two boiling water reactor units at Olkiluoto.

The actual valve inside the 3D printed housing is a standard T5-series ball valve of stainless steel. The size of the valve housing is 20cm x 40cm, but the printer is the size of an SUV.

TVO said in a statement that the 3D printed valve housing, and other 3D components that might become available in the future, offer an alternative in a situation where the number of suppliers for nuclear power plants is being reduced. “This gives us the possibility to produce a unique component by printing it ourselves, said the company’s life cycle management engineer Dino Nerweyi.

Date: Thursday, 06 May 2021
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Industry group says policies need to value low-carbon reactors Unit 3 at the Indian Point nuclear station was shut down last week. Economic results for US commercial nuclear power plants are expected to deteriorate beyond 2021 and it is unlikely that any but the lowest-cost nuclear units will cover their costs and be viable to remain in operation, a study says.

The study, by Potomac Economics, says the country faces the prospect of well-running nuclear plants shutting down, right when they are needed the most in the fight against climate change.

The report assesses the economic realities facing nuclear plant owners in PJM, the largest electricity market in the US, serving 65 million customers in 13 states. PJM is home to 31 of the nation’s 94 nuclear plants, including many that are currently or have been financially threatened.

The study found that declining energy prices in recent years have substantially reduced net revenues of all PJM’s nuclear resources. “As energy prices have fallen to their lowest levels in decades in 2020, we find it unlikely that any of the nuclear resources in PJM are covering their costs,” the study says.

Date: Tuesday, 04 May 2021
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Operator Entergy says shutdown will end ‘remarkable recent operating history’ The last unit at the Indian Point nuclear station is scheduled to shut down on 30 April. The last of three nuclear power reactors at the Indian Point nuclear power station in New York is scheduled for closure on Friday, after a years-long battle over its fate and despite warnings that shuttering the plant could increase the state’s short-term reliance on fossil fuels and increase emissions.

There are three pressurised water reactor units at Indian Point. Indian Point-2 was permanently shut down in April 2020. Indian Point-1, a smaller PWR that began operation in 1962, was taken offline in 1974 because the emergency core cooling system did not meet regulatory requirements.

The shutdowns of Units 2 and 3 are the result of an agreement between Entergy, the facility’s operator, the state of New York, and environmental groups who had pressured officials to close the station. Entergy said one factor in the closure was sustained low current and projected wholesale energy prices that reduced revenues.

Unit 2 began commercial operation in 1974 and Unit 3 in 1976.

In February, the Climate Action lobby group said that despite 2,753 GWh of reduced energy demand during the Covid-19 pandemic, New York state generated significantly more electricity, 5,068 GWh, from fossil fuels in 2020 than in 2019 because of lost nuclear power.

Date: Saturday, 01 May 2021
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Three plants provide ‘over 90%’ of in-state carbon-free generation The Salem nuclear power station in New Jersey has two nuclear power reactors. Courtesy Wikimedia. The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities has unanimously voted to extend until May 2025 roughly $300 million in annual subsidies for three nuclear reactor units at the Hope Creek and Salem nuclear power stations.

The board said the decision to approve the zero emissions certificates (ZECs) ensures that the plants, which supply the state with over 90% of in-state carbon-free generation and 37.5% of its overall in-state energy supply, will remain operational.

“The board’s decision secures the single largest source of the state’s overall clean energy power supply, which would otherwise be replaced by sources such as fossil gas, increasing emissions at a time when combatting the climate crisis amid a worldwide pandemic is paramount,” a statement said.

The ZEC Law, which the New Jersey legislature passed in 2018, directs the board to consider the “moral imperative” of the state investing in carbon-free energy sources. It also shows that closing the plants would lead to “a substantial increase in emissions of several serious pollutants, and associated adverse public health and environmental impacts.”

Date: Friday, 30 April 2021
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The shut-down Ignalina nuclear power station in Lithuania. Courtesy EBRD. The Ignalina nuclear power station was once the pillar of Lithuania’s energy supply, but since it closed Lithuania has been importing electricity from Belarus, Latvia, Russia and Sweden with imports covering around 70% of its electricity supply in 2019, a report by the International Energy Agency says.

Lithuania was an exporter of electricity to Belarus, Latvia and Russia during the 1990s. But it started importing electricity from Russia in 2011 (2.3 TWh), and from Latvia in 2010 (2.8 TWh). In 2018, imports reached 3.3 TWh for Latvia and 2.8 TWh for Russia.

Ignalina consisted of two Soviet-designed RBMK reactors of 1,185 MW each. Units 1 and 2 came online in December 1983 and August 1987 respectively, but were shut down in 2004 and 2009 following the 1986 Chernobyl disaster and as part of the accession process to the European Union.

A third reactor was planned and construction started in 1985, but it was suspended and demolished in 1989.

Date: Thursday, 29 April 2021
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NuScale small modular reactors could be an option for Ukraine. Courtesy NuScale. Ukraine is working to develop its nuclear energy sector, including the use of advanced nuclear technologies like small modular reactors, with the aim of ensuring its energy security, according to the East European country’s president Volodymyr Zelensky.

Mr Zelensky met yesterday in Kiev with Rafael Mariano Grossi, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, on the 35th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear accident.

“Today I can confidently say that Ukraine is determined to develop its nuclear energy,” Mr Zelensky said.

According to Mr Zelensky, Ukraine plans “to switch” to the use of the latest nuclear reactor technology, including US-based NuScale’s SMR-160 design, “since it has the goal of localising technological production for SMR-160 in Ukraine”.

Date: Thursday, 29 April 2021
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Reactor could begin commercial operation this year The plant site of the Vogtle-3 AP1000 pressurised water reactor unit as of March 2021. Image courtesy Georgia Power Company. Hot functional testing has begun for the Vogtle-3 nuclear power plant under construction in the US, Georgia Power today announced.

The company also said all modules for the Vogtle-3 and -4 nuclear expansion project have now been set following the lifting into place of a massive water tank atop the Unit 4 containment vessel and shield building roof. The placement represents the last major crane lift at the site.

Hot functional testing marks the last series of major tests underway for the new nuclear unit ahead of initial fuel load. Georgia Power said the testing represents a significant step towards operation of the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor, construction of which began in March 2013.

Hot functional testing – expected to take six to eight weeks – is conducted to verify the operation of reactor components and systems together and confirm the reactor is ready for fuel load. As part of the testing, the site team will begin running Unit 3 plant systems without nuclear fuel and advance through the testing process towards reaching normal operating pressure and temperature.

Date: Wednesday, 28 April 2021
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The ISF-2 interim storage facility at Chernobyl. Courtesy EBRD. Ukraine’s nuclear regulator has issued a licence for full operation of the he €400m ISF-2 interim storage facility at the Chernobyl nuclear power station site in Ukraine, Chernobyl NPP announced.

The milestone represents the culmination of more than 20 years of work at the site, where spent nuclear fuel from reactors 1, 2 and 3 at the destroyed nuclear station will be processed and stored at ISF-2, the world’s largest nuclear dry storage facility.

ISF-2 has been constructed by an international consortium led by the US company Holtec and financed by the international community through the Nuclear Safety Account, managed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Hot testing with the first full fuel load at ISF-2 began in September 2020 and at the time the EBRD said the full licence to operate was expected in early 2021. Chernobyl NPP said last week that hot testing had been completed and was successful.

Date: Tuesday, 27 April 2021
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Ansaldo Nuclear of Italy has won a contract to design, install and operate two experimental facilities that will be part of Westinghouse Electric Company’ development programme for its lead-cooled fast reactor (LFR).

Ansaldo Nucleare said it will test prototypical high-priority components at the versatile lead loop facility (VLF) and will demonstrate and validate a passive heat removal system through a second, dedicated facility referred to as PHRF. Both the VLF and the PHRF will be designed and installed at Ansaldo Nuclear’s site in Wolverhampton, UK.

The Westinghouse LFR is one of three projects which progressed to phase two of the UK government’s advanced modular reactor feasibility and development project.

Following a £10m government investment, Westinghouse will now set out to demonstrate the feasibility of key LFR’s materials, systems and components.

Date: Saturday, 24 April 2021
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