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Nuclear lobby touting small nuclear reactors to Alaska


House bill would streamline approval of small nuclear reactors in Alaska, Alaska Public Media, By, Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks, March 21, 2022  A bill moving through the Alaska Legislature would streamline the state’s approval process for small nuclear reactors, which have been touted as cleaner, more cost-effective sources of energy for Alaska.

There are no microreactors operating anywhere in the United States. But a few pilot projects are planned, including one at Eielson Air Force Base. The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission must approve any new reactor, but House Bill 299 from Gov. Mike Dunleavy would exempt microreactors from some decades-old state requirements.

At a state House committee hearing, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation environmental health director Christina Carpenter said the bill would exempt microreactors from multi-agency study and legislative siting approval requirements……………

Alaska Community Action on Toxics executive director Pam Miller describes nuclear power as destructive throughout its lifecycle.

“While these nuclear microreactors are being touted as a solution for the climate crisis and energy needs in rural Alaska, I believe that it’s a false solution and that these reactors are actually quite dangerous,” she said. “From the mining of uranium, which usually takes place on Indigenous lands, through the enrichment process. And then there is the untenable problem of radioactive waste disposal, and that has not been solved.”

Miller said she is also concerned about the security of microreactors in Alaska, especially if deployed in remote locations.

Under the bill, microreactors proposed for areas without local government would still need to get siting approval from the legislature.  https://www.alaskapublic.org/2022/03/21/house-bill-would-streamline-approval-of-small-nuclear-reactors-in-alaska/

March 22, 2022 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Indigenous, scientific, environmental and citizen groups strongly oppose Ottawa’s push for small nuclear reactors

 Ottawa pours more money into next-gen nuclear tech; critics to push back
against ‘dangerous distraction’. Innovation, Science and Industry
Minister François-Philippe Champagne announced a $27.2-million investment
Thursday in the development of next-generation nuclear technology he said
will make energy more accessible to remote communities.

However, numerous Indigenous, scientific, environmental and citizen groups have called the
technology a “dirty, dangerous distraction” from real climate action.
The money will go to the development of Westinghouse Electric Canada
Inc.’s eVinci micro-reactor, a small modular reactor (SMR) the company
says will “bring carbon-free, transportable, safe and scalable energy
anywhere Canada requires reliable, clean energy.”

 National Observer 17th March 2022

https://www.nationalobserver.com/2022/03/17/news/ottawa-pours-more-money-next-gen-nuclear-tech-prompting-critics-push-back-against

March 21, 2022 Posted by | Canada, opposition to nuclear, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Small modular nuclear reactors – no good for Canada’s indigenous communities, no good for climate action

The Government of Canada is further delaying climate action with an
announcement of $27 million in funding today to develop a Small Modular
Nuclear Reactor (SMR).

There is no guarantee SMRs will ever produce energy
in a safe and reliable manner in Canada. During his remarks for the
announcement, François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science
and Economic Development Canada, as well as Westinghouse representatives,
said that the technology to be developed, the e-Vinci reactor by the
Westinghouse Electric Company, will be suitable for remote Indigenous
communities currently using diesel energy.

However, research has demonstrated that small modular nuclear reactors such as the type
Westinghouse is proposing are not the energy answer for remote communities.
The researchers–Froese, Kunz & Ramana (2020)–concluded that the
economics of SMRs do not compete when compared with other alternatives. The
cost of electricity from SMRs was found to be much higher than the cost of
wind or solar, or even of the diesel supply currently used in the majority
of these communities.

 Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility 17th March 2022

http://www.ccnr.org/

March 19, 2022 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Why New Technology Is Making Nuclear Arms Control Harder

The US, China, and Russia are locked in a high-tech race to perfect new nuclear capabilities, rendering some Cold War safeguards obsolete. Defense One, PATRICK TUCKER | MARCH 14, 2022  

The risks associated with nuclear weapons are rising once again, the heads of three U.S. intelligence agencies told lawmakers last week, as Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine intensified.

t wasn’t supposed to be this way.

At the end of the Cold War, President George H.W. Bush boasted that the United States could now reduce its nuclear forces. But today’s arsenals—and global politics—are much different than in 1991. U.S. leaders face threatening dictatorships in Moscow, Beijing, Tehran, and Pyongyang, all racing to create new nuclear bombs and ways to deliver them. Technology, it turns out, is making arms control harder, and that’s forcing a big rethink about nuclear deterrence.

Thirty years later, the United States is spending hundreds of billions of dollars on 21st-century versions of the nuclear triad’s strategic bombers, nuclear-powered submarines, and intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBM. At the same time, China, Russia, and the United States are also developing new types of hypersonic missiles that, maneuvering at more than five times the speed of sound, make Cold War-era ICBMs look like Chrysler Imperials. But these new missiles don’t doesn’t replace the old ones: they just add to the stuff each nation must buy to keep up.  

Beyond the delivery systems, today’s nuclear command-and-control systems include a vast network of satellites; sensors, including drone-mounted ones; and computer systems constantly being developed, maintained, and upgraded.

Some argue that while U.S. leaders could have used the post-Cold War era’s peace dividend to dismantle global nuclear arsenals, instead the Pentagon’s own ambitions for newer missile-defense technology forced the rising autocratic regimes of other global powers to respond in kind. Heavy U.S. investment in developing new ballistic missile defense, in particular, prompted Russia and China on their current path to develop highly-maneuverable hypersonic weapons.

Several senior U.S. military leaders declined interview requests for this article; Defense Department leaders keep current nuclear concerns close to their vest. But in 2019, the Air Force released a collection of papers in which leaders already were lodging concerns. In it, Maj. Jeff Hill, said that newly developed U.S. defenses against Russian and Chinese missiles “has led each of these two countries to aggressively pursue its own [highly-maneuverable hypersonic missile] programs. Russia specifically highlights ‘American military-technological advances’ including its ballistic missile defense program as an area of concern in relation to deterrence,” citing the work of Kristin Ven Bruusgaard, one of the foremost Western academic experts on Russian nuclear strategy. His work was published as part of a U.S. Air Force Center for Strategic Deterrence Studies student research project that assessed the influence of hypersonic weapons on deterrence.

All this makes preparing for and deterring nuclear war a great deal more complex than it was during the 1950s and 1960s.

“There’s a number of very fundamental assumptions that we have made over the last 30 years, that really are no longer valid,” said Adm. Charles Richard said at September’s Deterrence Symposium. Richard leads U.S. Strategic Forces, or STRATCOM, which oversees the military’s nuclear arsenal. “After the fall of the Soviet Union and the [U.S.] success in Desert Storm, we achieved a national security environment where, I would argue that, the risk of a strategic deterrent failure, and, in particular, the risk of a nuclear deterrence failure, was low…. We started taking it for granted and forgot all the things that we had to do, from a strategic deterrence standpoint, to get us to that environment to begin with.” 

…………………  China has since vastly expanded its arsenal; in 2020, Pentagon officials estimated it numbered “in the low 200s,” and could double. It has also built out its own nuclear triad, with nuclear-capable stealth bombers; four Type 094 ballistic missile submarines; and on land, truck-mounted missile launchers

 and an estimated 300 completed and planned ICBM silos.

………………And the emergence of a third huge nuclear arsenal complicates deterrence theory, STRATCOM’s Richard said.
“In general, deterrence theory doesn’t really account for a three-party problem. How you do deterrence with three, peer nuclear-capable competitors?” Richard said. “The Cold War was very much a two-party competition.”

Meanwhile, U.S. military planners are changing their definition of “strategic” deterrence, weapons, and attacks. During the Cold War, this almost always referred to nuclear war. But today’s planners use the term to include non-nuclear threats and technologies that could have devastating effects—for example, destroying an adversary’s ability to see an attack coming or respond to it. 

“Strategic effects can be much broader than simply ‘nuclear,’ in terms of what could possibly be done in cyber or possibly be done in space, critical infrastructure, information domain, role of allies and partners. All of that, I think, requires a very critical relook,” Richard said. 

That nuance is often lost in the contemporary conversation about nuclear weapons and deterrence. In 2018, a New York Times article, “Pentagon Suggests Countering Devastating Cyberattacks With Nuclear Arms” sparked frenzied concern that the United States under President Donald Trump was lowering its bar for launching a nuclear strike…………

Future nuclear weapons, including ICBMs, will likely be part of a complex, interconnected digital architecture, and will likely exhibit “some level of connectivity to the rest of the warfighting system,” Werner J.A. Dahm, then-chairman of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, predicted in 2016. His warning came on the eve of a major study by the Air Force to see how trustworthy nuclear weapons would be if they were networked together, a study that was never publicly released. 

Super Maneuverable Missiles 

Perhaps the biggest change to nuclear deterrence is the appearance of new types of hypersonic weapons. Unlike Cold-War era ICBMs, the new class of hypersonics that China and Russia (along with the United States) are pursuing are steerable, allowing an adversary to target a much wider space with one missile, and making such missiles very difficult to defend against…………………..

any country could use a non-nuclear hypersonic missile to strike its adversary’s nuclear command-and-control targets…………….

The development of these new “invincible” weapons—as Russian leader Vladimir Putin has called them—has triggered a concurrent arms race for new concepts to defeat them. One U.S. answer has been the use of new satellite architectures to watch hypersonics as they proceed along their flight path, in addition to new sensors and object-finding software to spot things like mobile missile launchers.

,………………………………….  https://www.defenseone.com/policy/2022/03/why-new-technology-making-nuclear-arms-control-harder/363135/

March 15, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, safety, technology | Leave a comment

The Ukraine war is bad for USA’s nuclear industry- hard to get the Highly Enriched Uranium needed from Russia for Advanced Nuclear Reactors


How Russia’s invasion is affecting U.S. nuclear
, EE News, By Hannah Northey | 03/14/2022   

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is raising questions about the cost and flow of fuel to existing and yet-to-be commercialized advanced U.S. reactors touted by advocates as a tool for tackling climate change.

President Biden didn’t target the nuclear sector when he issued an executive order this month to block imports of Russian crude and natural gas.

But as the war drags on for a third week, the White House is consulting with the nuclear sector about the potential impact of imposing sanctions on Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned atomic energy company, according to Bloomberg, which cited anonymous sources familiar with the matter.

The White House did not immediately confirm talks with the nuclear industry.

Sanctions on Rosatom, sources told E&E News, could pose long-term challenges for the United States’ fleet of more than 90 reactors running on low-enriched uranium.

While the existing plants have enough fuel for the next six to eight months and possibly longer, experts say sanctions on Russian imports could raise the global cost of low-enriched uranium and rile U.S. plants sensitive to cost swings. Russia supplies 20 percent of the low-enriched uranium needed to run American nuclear plants, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute.

Others say the larger concern may sit with advanced reactor demonstrations expected to come online around 2028 that will require high-assay, low-enriched uranium, or HALEU. That’s because Russia is the only viable commercial supplier globally and other firms are years away from readily providing such fuel, they say.

Groups like Beyond Nuclear have said the Russian invasion highlights the liability of nuclear power and spent fuel, arguing the fuel source cannot be a climate solution.

Frank von Hippel, a physicist and professor emeritus at Princeton University, said the bigger challenge for nuclear power is that the technology is not economically competitive…………..

Russia represents— about 20 percent in 2020 — of the enriched uranium making its way to American reactors. Concerns about what steps the Biden administration would take regarding uranium began surfacing publicly when Reuters, citing sources familiar with the matter, reported earlier this month that NEI urged the White House to keep uranium sales exempt from sanctions (Energywire, March 3)…………………

Focus on advanced reactors

Possible sanctions on Russia could affect the current timeline for the deployment of advanced reactors in the U.S., said Jeff Merrifield, who sat on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations and is now a Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP law firm partner.

Merrifield agreed Russia is the most readily available short-term option for providing fuel for advanced reactors that will need HALEU, uranium that’s enriched between 5 percent and 20 percent — higher rates that allow smaller designs to get more power for their size.

The first projects that would need a steady source of HALEU could be the Energy Department’s advanced reactor demonstration program, including a TerraPower plant in Wyoming and an X-energy project in Washington state. Those plants are expected to come online around 2028.

To be sure, sources of HALEU outside Russia are emerging — but industry and regulatory sources E&E News spoke with said it’s a matter of demand and timing as advanced reactors come online……………  https://www.eenews.net/articles/how-russias-invasion-is-affecting-u-s-nuclear/

March 15, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, technology, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

Another burst of tax-payer funding for Bill Gate’s gee-whiz Natrium reactor project


TerraPower receives $8.5M grant to explore recovering uranium from used nuclear fuel, Oil City News

By BRENDAN LACHANCE

CASPER, Wyo. — TerraPower, the Bill Gates–founded company working toward building a new nuclear reactor in Kemmerer, Wyoming, said in a press release Monday that it has been awarded an $8.5 million grant from the U.S Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Project Agency – Energy (ARPA-E).

The grant funding is part of ARPA-E’s Optimizing Nuclear Waste and Advanced Reactor Disposal Systems (ONWARDS) program that aims to increase the use of nuclear power as a source of clean energy while limiting the amount of nuclear waste created by advanced reactors……

TerraPower and GE technology is going into the new Natrium nuclear reactor, which is expected to be built in Wyoming as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advance Reactor Demonstration program.

“TerraPower is further demonstrating, through the Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment (MCRE), a uranium chloride salt–fueled concept with the DOE, Southern Company and other partners, and advancing medical research and innovation through its TerraPower Isotopes® subsidiary,” the press release states.

TerraPower President and CEO Chris Levesque added in the press release that “TerraPower continues to advance nuclear energy’s promise for our country and the world………… https://oilcity.news/wyoming/energy/2022/03/14/terrapower-receives-8-5m-grant-to-explore-recovering-uranium-from-used-nuclear-fuel/

March 15, 2022 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Rolls Royce wants to hurry up the introduction of small nuclear reactors, but UK govt is focussed on a big one for Wylfa

Rolls-Royce calls for accelerated SMR rollout as Boris considers bigger plans for Wylfa

14 MAR, 2022 BY CATHERINE KENNEDY  ROLLS-ROYCE IS APPEALING TO THE UK GOVERNMENT TO SPEED UP THE ROLLOUT OF SMALL MODULAR REACTORS (SMRS), WHILE PRIME MINISTER BORIS JOHNSON IS REPORTEDLY KEEN TO REVIVE PLANS FOR THE WYLFA NEWYDD NUCLEAR POWER PLANT IN RESPONSE TO THE UK ENERGY CRISIS.

There is a pressing need to improve the UK’s energy security, with prices soaring due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and alternative solutions are being explored to plug the gap.

Rolls-Royce submitted SMR designs for Wylfa and Trawsfynydd for assessment last week. However extensive safety checks are needed and these are not expected to come online until the 2030s. As such, government sources told the Telegraph that Rolls-Royce is frustrated with the lack of progress.

Meanwhile according to The Times, government sources have also said Johnson is determined to press ahead with plans for a large scale nuclear plant at Wylfa, with the government in talks with US nuclear reactor manufacturer Westinghouse and the engineering firm Bechtel about a proposal to develop the site. The government has so far set aside £120M to support the project………..

Wylfa had previously been in the running as a potential site for a large-scale nuclear power plant, but the decision was taken to push forward with Sizewell C in Suffolk instead.

March 15, 2022 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK | 1 Comment

French nuclear regulator halts assembly of huge ITER nuclear fusion reactor

French nuclear regulator halts assembly of huge fusion reactor   https://www.science.org/content/article/french-nuclear-regulator-halts-assembly-huge-fusion-reactor
ITER must satisfy safety concerns before welding reactor vessel
. 24 FEB 2022, BY DANIEL CLERY      France’s nuclear regulator has ordered ITER, an international fusion energy project, to hold off on assembling its gigantic reactor until officials address safety concerns.

This month, the ITER Organization was expecting to get the green light to begin to weld together the 11-meter-tall steel sections that make up the doughnut-shaped reactor, called a tokamak. But on 25 January, France’s Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) sent a letter ordering a stoppage until ITER can address concerns about neutron radiation, slight distortions in the steel sections, and loads on the concrete slab holding up the reactor. ITER staff say they intend to satisfy ASN by April so they can begin to weld the reactor vessel by July. “We’re working very hard for that,” says ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot.

February 26, 2022 Posted by | France, technology | Leave a comment

Limitless power arriving too late: Why fusion won’t help us decarbonise — RenewEconomy

A limitless, clean source of baseload power might be within reach – without the nuclear waste of traditional fission nuclear plants. That’s good, right? Not quite. The post Limitless power arriving too late: Why fusion won’t help us decarbonise appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Limitless power arriving too late: Why fusion won’t help us decarbonise — RenewEconomy
I  first heard the standard joke about fusion as an undergraduate physics
student in the 1960s: Fusion power is 50 years away – and probably always
will be. More than 50 years later, we still don’t have fusion. That’s
because of the huge experimental challenges in recreating a miniature sun
on earth. Still, real progress is being made.

This month, UK fusion
researchers managed to double previous records of producing energy. Last
year, American scientists came close to ignition, the tantalising moment
where fusion puts more energy out than it needs to start the reaction. And
small, fast-moving fusion startups are making progress using different
techniques. A limitless, clean source of baseload power might be within
reach – without the nuclear waste of traditional fission nuclear plants.

That’s good, right? Not quite. While we’re closer than ever to making
commercial fusion viable, this new power source simply won’t get here in
time to do the heavy lifting of decarbonisation. We are racing the clock to
limit damage from climate change. Luckily, we already have the technologies
we need to decarbonise.

On the megaproject front, the next step is the
International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) being built in
southern France. Far too big for any one country, this is a joint effort by
countries including USA, Russia, China, the UK and EU member countries. The
project is enormous, with a vessel ten times the size of the UK reactor and
around 5,000 technical experts, scientists and engineers working on it.
Famously, the project’s largest magnet is strong enough to lift an
aircraft carrier.

Even this enormous project is only expected to produce
slightly more power than it uses – around 500 megawatts. The first
experiments are expected by 2025. To me, this illustrates how far away
commercial fusion really is. Renew Economy 25th Feb 2022https://reneweconomy.com.au/limitless-power-arriving-too-late-why-fusion-wont-help-us-decarbonise/


February 26, 2022 Posted by | France, technology | Leave a comment

‘Serious problems’ with NuScale’s proposed small nuclear reactors

Report claims ‘serious problems’ with proposed NuScale SMR, Power Engineering, By Kevin Clark -2.18.2022. Too late, too expensive, too risky and too uncertain” is how a new report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) described NuScale’s proposed small modular reactor (SMR) project.

The analysis, released by the institute February 17, primarily focuses on the SMR project the Oregon-based company is building for Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) at a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) site in Idaho. However, the institute noted it was outlining cost risks, construction timelines, and competitive alternatives for all buyers in the SMR market.

In 2020, NuScale received U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approval on its SMR design, the first design approval for a small commercial nuclear reactor. SMRs have a smaller footprint, capacity and anticipated cost than traditional high-capacity nuclear power plants.

NuScale is among several companies developing SMRs, with the intent of reigniting the country’s nuclear power sector. The company touts its reactors as “smarter, cleaner, safer and cost competitive.”

The SMRs are light-water reactors, which represent most of the reactors now in operation. But modular reactors are designed to use less water than traditional ones and have a passive safety system enabling them to shut down automatically, should something go wrong.

The federal government has invested in the development of SMRs, and the NuScale site is no exception. In October 2020, UAMPS received a nearly $1.4 billion, 10-year award from the DOE to help fund the project.

However, in its report, IEEFA said there are “uncertain implications for the units’ cost, performance and reliability,” and that NuScale makes overly optimistic claims in each of these categories.

NuScale said its plant has a construction period of “less than 36 months from the first safety concrete through mechanical completion,” according to reports on the company’s website. But the institute said based on recent nuclear industry experience, plants with new reactor designs have taken more than twice as long to build as the owners projected at construction start, resulting in “delays of four years or longer before the start of commercial operations.”

IEEFA also noted NuScale’s project design has changed repeatedly throughout the development process. In July 2021 UAMPS said it would be downsizing the project from 12 to six modules, with 462 MW of power. NuScale recently projected the project’s first module, once expected to deliver in 2016, would come online in 2029, with all six modules online by 2030.

The institute also doubted NuScale’s ability to keep construction costs in check, thereby meeting a target power price of less than $60/MWh, set in mid-2021.

The nonprofit noted costs for all recent nuclear projects have vastly exceeded original estimates. It cited cost overruns at the embattled Plant Vogtle in Georgia, the project “most like NuScale in terms of modular development” where costs “now are 140% higher than the original forecast.”

“This first-of-a-kind reactor poses serious financial risks for members of [UAMPS], currently the lead buyer, and other municipalities and utilities that sign up for a share of the project’s power,” IEEFA researchers wrote.

The report also cited the new wind, solar and energy storage that have been added to the grid in the last decade, along with significant additional renewable capacity and storage expected to come online by 2030. IEEFA added new techniques for operating these renewable and storage resources, along with energy efficiency, load management and broad efforts to better integrate the western grid would undermine NuScale’s affordability and reliability claims.

“This new capacity is going to put significant downward pressure on prices, undercutting the need for expensive round-the-clock power,” the institute said……..

VOYGR is the official name of NuScale’s small modular reactor………..

In December 2021 the company and Spring Valley Acquisition Corp., a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company, reached a merger agreement with an estimated enterprise value of $1.9 billion.

Upon completion of the transaction, Fluor projects to control around 60% of the combined company, based on the PIPE investment commitments and the current equity and in-the-money equity equivalents of NuScale Power and Spring Valley.

Existing NuScale shareholders, including majority owner Fluor, will retain their equity in NuScale and roll it into the combined company. Fluor will also continue to provide NuScale with engineering services, project management, administrative and supply chain support. Additional investors in NuScale include Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction, Samsung C&T Corp., JGC Holdings Corp., IHI Corp., Enercon Services, Inc., GS Energy, Sarens and Sargent & Lundy.

In April 2021, Japanese project firm JGC Holdings Corp. announced it was investing $40 million in NuScale Power.  https://www.power-eng.com/nuclear/report-claims-serious-problems-with-proposed-nuscale-smr/

February 19, 2022 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Update on the status of Britain’s Rolls Royce Small Nuclear Reactor project

Safe Energy E-Journal No. 93 February 2022Rolls Royce’s Small Modular Reactors On 9th November the Government announced that it would back the Rolls-Royce Small Modular Reactor with £210m in funding. Matched by private sector funding of over £250 million, this investment will be used to further develop the SMR design and start the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process. (1)   

  This was followed in December by an announcement the Qatar Investment Authority will pour £85m into its Small Modular Reactor (SMR) programme, which now has total funding of £490m – enough for RR to start scouting sites for factories to supply parts to build SMRs. (2) France’s wealthy Perrodo family, is also investing in the project. (3) RR hopes to see the first reactors supplying electricity within the next decade.

 Rolls-Royce is now seeking bids for a site for a factory to make parts for its small nuclear power plants. It has begun competition between English and Welsh regions. The industry consortium led by Rolls-Royce has sent letters to several regional development agencies in England and the Government of Wales to ask them to sell a site. (4) The main factory will build some of the key components of the reactors which will then be assembled at sites around the UK. The letter from Rolls-Royce promised “high value, sustainable jobs which will produce products that will be exported globally for many decades to come”. It also made clear they were looking for possible “financial and non-financial support” from the host. (5)   

The consortium led by Rolls Royce, is planning to build 16 SMRs around the country by 2050, the first of which could be plugged into the grid by 2031. (6) Trawsfynydd and Wylfa are two sites expected to be in line for an SMR. (7) Moorside has also been mentioned and Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen wants Hartlepool to be on the list. (8) North Ayrshire Conservative councillor Tom Marshall has called for an SMR to be built at Hunterston. (9)

Jamie Stone, the Liberal-Democrat MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross wants Caithness to be considered as a possible site. Davie Alexander, the vice-chairman of the Dounreay Stakeholder Group and chairman of the Thurso and Wick Trades Union Council, would also like to see the county included as a possible location. (10) Stone is meeting with Rolls-Royce to discuss the matter. RollsRoyce welcomed the opportunity. (11)  

  Councillor Feargal Dalton, chair of the Scottish Forum of the NFLA urged Jaime Stone to think again. Given the good news on renewables, Councillor Dalton was shocked to hear that Stone has invited Rolls Royce for talks on locating a new reactor for Caithness. 

“There is clearly no need, and almost no public support, for new nuclear in Scotland, and we need to tackle climate change now. The Rolls Royce technology is unproven, and civil nuclear projects continue to be notorious for being delivered years late or at an eye-wateringly inflated cost and there is no guarantee that the project will not eventually be cancelled because it took too long or cost too much.” (12)

 In November Rolls Royce submitted its 470 MWe SMR design for entry to the UK’s Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process. (13) But this won’t formally begin until the government has assessed the    company’s capability and capacity to successfully enter the GDA process. This could take up to 4 months. The GDA process, once it begins, will take 4 or 5 years. (14) 

The Government claims that SMRs have the potential to be less expensive to build than traditional nuclear power plants because of their smaller size, and because the modular nature of the components offers the potential for parts to be produced in dedicated factories and shipped by road to site – reducing construction time and cost. But the reason why existing reactors are large is precisely to derive economies of scale: why smaller reactors should be more economic is problematic. Nuclear proponents allege that assembly-line technology will be used in reactor construction but this has yet to be shown in practice anywhere in the world

  Some say that SMRs are little more than wishful thinking. For example, Professor MV Ramana ‒ Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia – states:

 “SMR proponents argue that they can make up for the lost economies of scale by savings through mass manufacture in factories and resultant learning. But, to achieve such savings, these reactors have to be manufactured by the thousands, even under very optimistic assumptions about rates of learning.” (15)  

  The Rolls Royce SMR design is not exactly small at 470 MWe. It is proposing to build 16 reactors at an expected cost around £1.8bn – £2.2bn and producing power at £40-60/MWh over 60 yrs. (16)

 As well as the Government funding, Rolls-Royce has been backed by a consortium of private investors. The creation of the Rolls-Royce Small Modular Reactor (SMR) business was announced following a £195m cash injection from BNF Resources, and Exelon Generation to fund the plans over the next three years. (17) 

References; …………… https://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/SafeEnergy_No93.pdf

February 19, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK | Leave a comment

Mini-reactor for Highlands -too “high cost and high risk” says Scottish MP Maree Todd

Caithness, Sutherland and Ross MSP Maree Todd has declared that she cannot support the idea of a mini-reactor being built in her constituency,pointing to the “high cost and high risk” associated with nuclear energy.

Engineering giant Rolls-Royce hopes to build up to 10 small modular reactor(SMR) power stations by 2035 and there have been calls for one to be established in Caithness, which has been described as “one of the most nuclear-sympathetic parts of the UK”.

However, Ms Todd said her party, the
SNP, has been clear in its opposition to nuclear development and she argued
that Scotland must look to “safe, sustainable and cost-effective” renewable
sources for its future energy supply.

Ms Todd said: “As an MSP representing a vast and rural Highland constituency, a constituency with the highest fuel poverty rates in the country, I cannot in all conscience
support a nuclear fission solution as a cost-effective, safe energy source
for our community and I believe the vast majority of the public back my
position. We must focus on reliable energy sources that offer value for
money and align with our net-zero ambitions.

 John O Groat Journal 16th Feb 2022

https://www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk/news/maree-todd-says-she-cannot-give-her-backing-to-high-cost-an-266090/

February 17, 2022 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK | Leave a comment

Fusion delusion – unsafe, too uncertain, too expensive, and too late – even if it worked

Fusion delusion no answer to climate emergency or cost-of-living crisis https://www.nuclearpolicy.info/news/fusion-delusion-no-answer-to-climate-emergency-or-cost-of-living-crisis/ 13 Feb 22,

Fusion is unsafe, too uncertain, too expensive and, if it is even possible, will still come far too late to address either climate change or Britain’s energy needs, says the UK’s Nuclear Free Local Authorities.

Slamming claims of a ‘major break-through’, Councillor David Blackburn, Chair of the NFLA, noted that scientists have made similar claims for decades when it has come to fusion. Commenting he said:

“Fusion has since the Second World War been heralded as the next big evolutionary development in our energy supply, and scientists have made similar claims for decades when it has come to fusion leading to countless billions being invested in this illusionary technology.”

Emeritus Professor of Energy Policy Stephen Thomas of the University of Greenwich suggested a motivation for the latest claims:

“It has always been said that fusion breakthroughs occur when there is a need for more public funding.”

Fusion is a complex technology to master, representing an attempt to reproduce on Earth the nuclear reactions that take place in the sun. As the Earth lacks the immense gravity of the Sun, the interior of the reactor must be superheated to 100 million degrees centrigrade (or six times the temperature of the Sun). Generating fusion reactions to date have used many times more energy than the energy produced, making fusion a technology that remains economically unviable. The reactor also requires intricate cooling and containment systems which ‘gobbles up’ much of the energy it produces; if these failed at any time reactor safety would be compromised.

Fusion is neither green nor safe. Neutrons produced by the reaction would bombard the walls of the reactor and its housing which over time would threaten the integrity of the structure. The radioactive tritium gas that is produced poses a real danger to public health even at very low levels if it enters the air or our water supply. And, like fission power, fusion would result in radioactive waste that will need to be safely stored and managed for countless years.

The UK Government is currently looking at five sites, one of which will soon be chosen to host a new experimental fusion reactor and has pledged £200 million towards its development.

Councillor Blackburn is sceptical there will be any result anytime soon:

“The earliest estimates that any fusion reactor could come on stream is in the late 2040’s, and that even assumes the technology will ever be mastered or economically viable. There is a need for humanity to address climate change and a need for Britons to address the energy crisis now. Fusion will come 30 years too late if at all. All of us are facing huge hikes in our energy bills, and we need power sources that are green, available now and affordable to keep our lights on and heat our homes.

“The UK Government has foolishly continued to pour billions of taxpayer money into the fusion delusion and other grandiose nuclear projects, whilst strangling financial support for renewables that work. We need a complete about-face in energy policy with the government instead investing massively in insulating Britain’s homes to reduce energy demand and energy bills and address fuel poverty, and also to finance the proven renewable technologies that can provide power now at an affordable price to Britain’s citizens, including solar generation, a renewable technology already available to us which harnesses the energy of the Sun.”

February 14, 2022 Posted by | technology, UK | Leave a comment

Hugely costly venture – nuclear fusion – now going private – but success is as elusive as ever

So far, while nuclear fusion has been successfully achieved in labs, ignition has remained elusive.

 Europe’s Nuclear Fusion Race Is Going Private. The race is on to achieve commercial nuclear fusion. Believers in the “holy grail of clean energy” are hopeful that a breakthrough in nuclear fusion is imminent
enough that the clean energy source could power a green energy transition sweeping and swift enough to help the world achieve the emissions targets set by the Paris climate accord.

So far, relatively few large-scale nuclear fusion initiatives have gotten off the ground, due to huge barriers to entry. Because of the enormous expense associated with building a reactor capable of facilitating fusion, so far the field has been dominated by publicly funded projects such as Europe’s ITER and China’s EAST (Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak). As scientists have gotten closer and closer to achieving ‘ignition’ – which refers to a nuclear fusion reaction that emits more energy than it consumes – the private sector has become increasingly interested in getting into the industry on the bottom floor and positioning itself at the forefront of what could be a world-changing innovation. So far, while nuclear fusion has been successfully achieved in labs, ignition has remained elusive.

 Naked Capitalism 10th Feb 2022

February 12, 2022 Posted by | EUROPE, technology | Leave a comment

Ahead of regulatory approval the US Dept of Energy wants Govt to grant $4 billion for Small Nuclear Reactors development

Bloomberg Business Week, 7 Feb 22,  –…………………………   Congress has ordered the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to replace a rules framework that dates to the 1950s. The new guidelines aren’t expected until at least 2025………    To prove the safety of designs, for instance, the commission demands data from similar plants, but none of the smaller installations have been built in the U.S., so there’s no performance history.

………..   the U.S. Department of Energy has gotten ahead of the NRC. The department is asking Congress for as much as $4 billion over seven years for advanced reactor development.

Beneficiaries include TerraPower, a startup founded by Bill Gates that’s working on a project in Wyoming; X-energy, which is planning a high-temperature, gas-cooled reactor in Washington state; and Kairos Power, which aims to build a 35-megawatt salt-cooled test reactor in Tennessee and applied for a construction license last September.

……………  these plants face staunch opposition. Environmental groups say that small reactors—some have a capacity of only 1.5MW, about 0.1% the size of a traditional plant—still produce enough radioactive material to present a contamination risk. And building more plants, even small ones, will add to the pile of toxic waste that no one can figure out what do with. “To the extent that there will be efforts to weaken the regulatory envelope, we will aggressively push back,” says Geoff Fettus, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Globally, more than 70 small modular reactors, with a total capacity of about 12 gigawatts, have been proposed or are under development in at least five countries, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The only one that’s been built is a floating reactor in the Russian town of Pevek, on the Arctic Sea, where it’s used to power mining operations. Gregory Jaczko, who served as NRC chair from 2009 to 2012, says the lack of movement on such plants around the world suggests we would be wrong to count on them as a way out of the climate crisis. “They’re just not ready,” he says. “And by the time they could be ready, they’re not going to be useful.”

February 10, 2022 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment