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Poland Sets Plans for Nuclear Energy

  • Poland Takes Yet Another Run at Nuclear Energy

Other Nuclear Newsczech-power_thumb.jpg

  • Saskatchewan Considering SMRs to Replace coal power plants by 2030
  • NuScale Power and Enfission Agree to Work on Advanced Nuclear Fuels
  • China’s CNNC Achieve Mass Production of Hualong One Fuel
  • DOE Sec Perry Says US Needs Nuclear Energy and Must Not Depend On Renewables Alone

Poland Takes Yet Another Run at Nuclear Energy

In the latest of a series of government actions that stretch back more than a decade, energy minister Krzysztof Tchórzewski told Polish Radio this week it was, “laying the groundwork to build its first commercial nuclear power reactors in the Pomerania region in the north of the country.

Tchórzewski acknowledged that the time between thinking about building a full size nuclear reactor and actually completing one takes about a decade. His key focus in his remarks was on rounding up investors for the project to take equity positions in it.

According to reports by NucNet and World Nuclear News, government sources said Poland will be aiming at a possible 6% nuclear share in the early to mid-2030s and a 15-20% nuclear share by 2050, although this would depend on the timning of the final decision about the nuclear program and its financing.

A recent draft energy strategy called for construction of Poland’s first nuclear unit by 2033 and another five or six by 2043.

Poland launched a national nuclear power program in 2014 which included the construction of up to 6 GW of capacity by 2035. However, the government has repeatedly postponed these plans.  In 2015 the government cancelled a contract by a consortium for European firms to start site characterization and develop a project management capability due to slow progress in both areas.

World Nuclear News reported Poland’s first nuclear power plant will be in operation by 2033, according to a draft energy policy document released for public consultation last November by the Ministry of Energy. The document envisages 6-9 GWe of nuclear capacity in operation by 2043, accounting for about 10% of Poland’s electricity generation.

The selection of location for the first plant would be made in 2020, while the selection of the technology and general contractor would take place the following year. The first plant, with a capacity of 1000 MW to 1500 MW – would be completed by 2033. Up to six reactors, with a combined capacity of 6-9 GWe, would be put into operation by 2043.

This ambitious energy policy plan, with multiple targets for total nuclear generating capacity, could cost $45 billion or more, was announced without an accompanying financial plan to execute it. Poland is reluctant to finance the construction of nuclear power stations with debt.

Instead, it wants a model based on equity capital. Polish energy officials have said that the key to equity financing would be guarantees on rates for electricity produced by the reactors once they enter revenue service. The government has not specified how much cash it would put into the project and how much would need to come from investors. Without a clear idea of how much of a stake the government will have, it may be difficult for investors to make a reasonable evaluation of the risk associated with the project.

The government said it is hoping to make a final decision on nuclear power in the coming months, but the key to the venture is an agreement on a financing model.

Poland had four 440 MWe Russian VVER-440 units under construction in the 1980s at Zarnowiec, but these units were cancelled in 1990 and the components were sold.

Polish Academics Urge End to Germany’s Nuclear Phaseout

(WNN) A group of nearly 100 Polish environmentalists and scientists has written an open letter to the leadership and people of Germany asking the country to reconsider its nuclear phaseout plans.

German utilities were forced to shut down their nuclear power plants by the Energiewende, or energy transition, that the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel introduced in response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident in Japan in March 2011. At that time, Germany was obtaining around a quarter of its electricity from 17 nuclear reactors operated by EnBW, E.On, RWE and Vattenfall.

Other Nuclear News

Saskatchewan Considering Investing in SMRs to Lower Carbon Emissions by 40% in Next 11 years

Uranium-symbol_thumb.jpgAccording to a Canadian wire services report Provincial Premier Scott Moe said the provincial government has been in discussion with Ontario and New Brunswick about small modular nuclear reactor technology. The province, which is a major exporter of uranium, has no nuclear power plants within its borders.

“That’s not saying we’re moving ahead with [SMRs] but we’d most certainly want to have the conversation around the clean supply of nuclear power here in the province,” Moe said.

The Premier said the province will look at cleaner power generation while keeping the assets it already has, such as carbon capture storage (CCS).

Commenting on the SMR plan, Esam Hussein, dean of engineering and applied science at the University of Regina, said the smaller nuclear reactors could be beneficial for smaller jurisdictions because they don’t put a big strain on the province’s grid.

If a reactor goes down, the grid could still function, he added. A challenge with bigger reactions is the possibly delays for construction time, as well as cost.

Smaller reactors could be built on site and if there is a part that needs to be replaced, the entire system will not need to replaced.

“These reactors are designed to be inherently safe, which means that if something goes wrong, if the reactor heats up, the physics will shut down the reactor automatically,” Hussein said.

It’s ironic that Saskatchewan, which has produced huge amounts of Yellowcake for export, has only begun to think about replacing its coal fired power plants with SMRs. That size reactor is probably a good fit for the sparsely populated province which has a population of 1.162 million.  There are slightly more people living in Dallas, TX.

Saskatoon, with a population of 300,000, is the 17th largest city in Canada. A 50 MW SMR can power about 50,000 homes which means the province could meet most of its needs for residential electricity in Saskatoon with just six units.

Provincial Premier Scott Moe wants to have an impact on CO2 emissions by 2030. He needs to get busy now. A couple  of factors in his favor are the Canada has nearly a dozen SMR designs in various early stages of review by the country’s nuclear regulatory agency, the government has published a roadmap to build them, and a national laboratory that is planning to support at least two demonstration projects in the near term.  Surely, with this announcement, at least one of the SMR developers should be knocking on his door any day real soon now.

NuScale Power and Enfission Sign MOU
to Develop Next Generation Nuclear Fuel Technology

NuScale Power and Enfission, LLC, a joint venture of Lightbridge Corporation (NASDAQ: LTBR) and Framatome, announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to explore the use of next generation nuclear fuel technology in NuScale’s small modular reactors. uScale said Lightbridge Fuel could spur improvements in core design, performance, and levelized costs of electricity.enffisionNuScale and

Enfission will collaborate on the development of research and testing programs to explore the application of Enfission’s nuclear fuel rod technology, which being adapted for NuScale’s natural circulation design.

NuScale said  the advanced fuel rod design is expected to increase core performance, extend core life, reduce refueling outages and offer reduced levelized cost of electricity.

On December 1, 2015, Framatome signed an agreement with NuScale to manufacture fuel assemblies for its SMR based on conventional ceramic uranium dioxide fuel and provide testing and analyses needed for its Nuclear Regulatory Commission design certification application.

self spacingThe addition of Enfission’s Lightbridge Fuel to the fuel development effort may provide future flexibility, at some point in time after the NRC review is done, on fuel types depending on the reactor demands.

New fuel types require the plant operator to file an application with the NRC for a change in fuel. It’s not something that would be done mid-stream in the original safety review for the reactor.

Neither firm said when the advanced fuel would be ready for testing nor whether UAMPS, which is NuScale’s first customer for its reactor, would be willing to test the fuel.  It’s possible that one of the 12 50 MW units built at the Idaho site would be paid for by the Department of Energy to support R&D projects like testing of advanced fuels.

NuScale’s technology is the world’s first and only SMR to undergo design certification review by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The NRC is scheduled to complete its review of NuScale’s design in September 2020.

Enfission is a US-based 50-50 joint venture between Lightbridge Corporation (NASDAQ: LTBR) and Framatome. Enfission was established January 25, 2018 to complete the development, regulatory licensing, and commercial deployment worldwide of nuclear fuel assemblies based on multi-lobe metallic twisted fuel technology.

Enfission will produce Lightbridge Fuel assemblies initially for operators of U.S. commercial nuclear power plants, then follow with production of Lightbridge Fuel assemblies for other types of reactors and for markets around the world.

CNNC Achieve Mass Production of Hualong One Fuel

(WNN) China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) says it is now capable of mass producing China Fuel 3 (CF3) fuel assemblies for the domestically-designed HPR1000 (Hualong One) pressurised water reactor design.

The CF3 fuel assembly is composed of 264 fuel rods arranged within a 17 x 17 supporting structure. The fuel rods contain pellets of either uranium dioxide or a mixture of gadolinium oxide and uranium dioxide. The rods feature a zircalloy cladding material. A total of 177 CF3 fuel assemblies will be loaded into the core of the Hualong One reactor which is a PWR type design.

In March, long-term irradiation testing of the CF3 fuel was completed. Four sets of CF3 fuel assemblies were loaded into Qinshan II unit 2 – a Chinese-designed CNP-600 PWR – in July 2014. The assemblies underwent poolside inspections during each fuelling cycle, CNNC said. Inspection results showed that the performance of the design met internationally accepted standards.

According to World Nuclear Association information, CF3 fuel assemblies are being manufactured at CNNC’s main PWR fuel fabrication plant at Yibin in Sichuan province, using fuel pellets from Kazakhstan’s Ulba Metallurgical Plant.

CNNC said achieving mass production of CF3 fuel “further strengthened CNNC’s position in the field of nuclear fuel assemblies, and will help the HPR1000 be exported overseas.”

In November 2014, CNNC announced that the fifth and sixth units at Fuqing will use the domestically-developed Hualong One design, marking its first deployment. The pouring of first concrete for Fuqing 5 began in May 2015, marking the official start of construction of the unit. Construction of unit 6 began in December the same year. Fuqing 5 and 6 are scheduled to be completed in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

Construction of two Hualong One units is also under way at CGN’s Fangchenggang plant in the Guangxi Autonomous Region. Those units are also expected to start up in 2019 and 2020.

In December 2015, CNNC and CGN agreed to create a 50-50 joint venture to promote the Hualong One in overseas markets.

Two HPR1000 units are under construction at Pakistan’s Karachi nuclear power plant. Construction began on Karachi unit 2 in 2015 and unit 3 in 2016; the units are planned to enter commercial operation in 2021 and 2022. The HPR1000 has also been proposed for construction at Bradwell in the UK, where it is undergoing Generic Design Assessment.

US Needs Nuclear And Must Not Depend
On Renewables Alone, Says DOE Secretary Perry

(NucNet) Depending on renewable energy alone is not a reliable option and nuclear is needed because it is emissions-free and offers “rock-solid, 24/7 reliability”, US energy secretary Rick Perry said in a speech this week at the EarthX conference in Dallas.

Perry said: “Now some people want us to take renewables… and rely on them alone. If we followed their advice our energy might be cleaner, but nowhere near as reliable.”

Perry express reservations about how renewables would perform if the sun doesn’t shine or the wind blow, and what might happen if a single natural disaster or serious cyberattack occurred.

“Our lights could go out and stay out, impacting our entire way of life,” he said.

“And imagine the costs to our economy and society of maintaining a grid that is completely reliant on intermittent energy.”

Mr Perry said this danger can be averted by adding nuclear to the energy mix. From small modular reactors to advanced reactors and micro reactors, American-led innovation “can and will blaze a trail for a truly amazing nuclear energy revival”, Mr Perry said.

He added that the US nuclear energy industry has said the US needs significant investment and bold policy to maintain its position as a world leader in nuclear safety, technology, and operation. He intends to provide it.

Perry’s remarks will surely create annoyance among the arch dukes of renewables supporting the mostly non-nuclear green new deal. So, there might be a partisan point to Perry’s remarks, but it also contains basic truths about the physics of the national electrical grid. That’s encouraging news.

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