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Big questions on the costs and safety of NuScale’s little nuclear reactors

NuScale Faces Questions on Nuclear Reactor Safety and Financing Its First Project

The first small modular reactor to receive federal approval must still grapple with design changes and safety concerns if it’s to be built by 2030. GreentechMedia

JEFF ST. JOHN OCTOBER 27, 2020   NuScale Power wants to build the first small modular nuclear reactor complex in the U.S. by decade’s end and has pointed to recent federal safety approvals and a cost-sharing arrangement with its first prospective public utility customers as advancing that goal.

But its reactor design faces significant safety questions that were not resolved by a Nuclear Energy Commission (NRC) review completed in August. Those include potential problems with the system that automatically shuts down its reactors in case of emergency, casting doubt on key safety claims from the Portland, Oregon-based company, critics say.

The nature of NRC’s review will leave the resolution of these key safety issues to be completed later this decade.

This could prove problematic for NuScale’s first project, the 12-reactor Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP) in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Over the past two years, the project has seen expected costs double from $3 billion to $6.1 billion and its completion date moved from 2026 to 2030, putting pressure on parent company Fluor Corp. to keep further cost increases in check and secure financial backers for the project.

NuScale won’t complete key safety reviews for its reactor design until later this decade. These design changes and safety reviews will be the responsibility of the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS), the first customer for 213 megawatts of the 720 MW the CFPP will produce, under a combined construction and operating license process. This could open up the CFPP to technical and legal challenges after significant investments in the project have already been made, critics warn.

UAMPS, a division of the Utah state government serving wholesale electric services to communities across the Intermountain West, has seen three cities vote to depart the 33-city consortium planning to agree to buy power from the CFPP in the past few months and is facing an October 31 deadline to commit to its role in the project.

And while the Department of Energy has issued a $1.36 billion, 10-year cost-share pledge to UAMPS, that funding will require future congressional appropriations in order to become reality. …..

Other U.S.-based SMR developers include Bill Gates-backed TerraPower and X-Energy, which have recently received financial support from DOE with the goal of building their first working units in the next seven years. Others include Hyperion Power Generation and Terrestrial Energy. ……

Safety questions on emergency shutdown

One of the most pressing unresolved safety issues deals with NuScale’s system to prevent overheating or meltdown during emergencies, according to the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS), which reviews reactor designs for the NRC.

NuScale’s reactor must submerge its fuel in water carrying boron, an element that absorbs neutrons and slows the fission chain reactions that generate heat and radioactivity. That water can be boiled away during emergencies, meaning that redundant safety systems are required that are capable of replacing it.

NuScale has said its system can reintroduce boronated water into the reactor without pumps that might lose power during an emergency, by venting steam into a surrounding containment vessel and condensing it back into water to inject into the core. But a March ACRS review noted that boron could be left behind as water turns into steam, yielding condensed water without enough boron to slow the chain reactions that could lead to overheating or core meltdown.

NuScale submitted design modifications to add boron to that reintroduced water supply. But in an April meeting, ACRS member Jose March-Leuba noted that the new design requires a series of 10 valves to operate without fail to solve the problem it’s geared to address, which he characterized as “10 single failure points.”

The ACRS told the NRC in a June letter that it “cannot reach a final conclusion on the safety of the NuScale design until the issue of the potential for a reactivity insertion accident” — a sudden increase in fission that cannot be halted — “is resolved to our satisfaction.” ………

Edwin Lyman, director of nuclear power safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said that the ACRS finding casts doubt on “one of the major selling points for this reactor, which is that it can passively shut down without any operator actions.”

NuScale has relied on its passive safety claims to argue that it should be exempt from other nuclear reactor safety requirements, such as maintaining emergency evacuation and planning zones within a 10-mile radius of the site and employing a security force to prevent sabotage attempts. Integrating these safety requirements into its projects may push NuScale’s power costs beyond the $55 per megawatt-hour it has targeted, he said.

“Nuclear safety is not just design. It’s the whole set of measures,” Lyman said.

Uncertain path to approval, unclear financing future

NuScale’s recent safety approval from the NRC is not as comprehensive a stamp of federal approval as the company had planned to obtain by now.

In March testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives, NuScale CEO John Hopkins said that parent company Fluor Corp. and investors have spent about $500 million to prepare a “design certification application,” which was submitted in 2016 and expected to be complete by September.

But NuScale’s recent approval from the NRC is not for a design certification application, Lyman said. Rather, it’s a “standard design approval,” which comes with less stringent rules for NRC review and allows future design changes. But it opens up NuScale’s design to future legal challenges that a design certification approval would not, he said.

NuScale also plans to increase the size of its reactor units from 50 MW to 60 MW units, which will require a separate design approval review, Lyman said. Meanwhile, NuScale’s original design certification, “when it’s approved, may never actually be used.” ……

these uncertainties have complicated the picture for UAMPS, which has pushed back its deadline for finalizing its licensing agreement with NuScale from September until October 31. UAMPS could be facing more than $100 million in commitments under its yet-to-be-finalized agreement. ….

Broader challenges for small modular reactors

In a September report, M.V. Ramana, a professor of disarmament and human security at the University of British Columbia, highlighted other risks facing NuScale. Those include further delays in licensing and certification, as well as the potential that design changes and increased safety requirements will raise the cost of power from NuScale’s reactors, which is already higher than the prices being set by new wind and solar energy today. Adding batteries or other forms of energy storage to renewables may prove a less costly solution to providing reliable zero-carbon electricity than NuScale can, he wrote.

Ramana also questioned the financial stability of NuScale’s parent company, engineering and construction giant Fluor, which has seen its share price drop about 80 percent over the past two years amid mounting financial losses and federal investigations into its accounting practices.

Fluor has invested $643 million into NuScale alongside $314 million in DOE funding, Hopkins told Congress in March. But it will need to bring more financial backers on board in the decade to come.

As for the DOE cost-share agreement, Lyman said it’s dependent on future congressional budget approvals that may not emerge. “The bottom line is, without a large subsidy, it would not be economical for them to buy this power.” ……… https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/nuscale-faces-questions-over-nuclear-reactor-safety-path-to-financing-first-project

October 29, 2020 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Two more cities opt out of Utah’s dubious small nuclear reactor project

October 29, 2020 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Finland, stuck with increasingly costly Olkiluouti nuclear nightmare, plans and even worse expense, with small nucler reactors!

Taz 26th Oct 2020, The European pressurized water reactor Olkiluoto 3 has long since developed into a Finnish BER – at least twelve years too late, three times as expensive as planned. And it’s far from being online. The same goes for the
new Hanhikivi project: years behind before construction began .

But the Finnish nuclear lobby is already planning another nuclear energy adventure: the construction of so-called Small Modular Reactors (SMR). Paul Dorfman of the UK UCL Energy Institute and co-author of an SMR study by the Nuclear
Consulting Group estimates that small reactors would provide increasingly expensive energy due to the cost of materials and personnel : the massive investments that would be required to create a supply chain so that replacing the economies of scale of large reactors with the advantage of series production would make the investment risk for SMR even higher than for standard reactors.

https://taz.de/AKWs-vom-Fliessband/!5720692/

October 29, 2020 Posted by | Finland, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Small Nuclear Reactors – the Big New Way – to get the public to fund the nuclear weapons industry

so-called “small nuclear reactors”

Downing Street told the Financial Times, which it faithfully reported, that it was “considering” £2 billion of taxpayers’ money to support “small nuclear reactors”

They are not small

The first thing to know about these beasts is that they are not small. 440MW? The plant at Wylfa (Anglesey, north Wales) was 460MW (it’s closed now). 440MW is bigger than all the Magnox type reactors except Wylfa and comparable to an Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor.

Only if military needs are driving this decision is it explicable.

”Clearly, the military need to maintain both reactor construction and operation skills and access to fissile materials will remain. I can well see the temptation for Defence Ministers to try to transfer this cost to civilian budgets,” 

Any nation’s defence budget in this day and age cannot afford a new generation of nuclear weapons. So it needs to pass the costs onto the energy sector.

How the UK’s secret defence policy is driving energy policy – with the public kept in the darkhttps://www.thefifthestate.com.au/energy-lead/how-the-uks-secret-defence-policy-is-driving-energy-policy-with-the-public-kept-in-the-dark/  BY DAVID THORPE / 13 OCTOBER 2020

 The UK government has for 15 years persistently backed the need for new nuclear power. Given its many problems, most informed observers can’t understand why. The answer lies in its commitment to being a nuclear military force. Continue reading

October 24, 2020 Posted by | politics, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Trump’s USA is pushing NuScale’s small nuclear reactors for South Africa

The US nuclear company with an eye on South Africa  just got a R23 billion boost, courtesy of Donald Trump, https://www.businessinsider.co.za/nuscale-nuclear-which-has-plans-for-sa-gets-a-big-us-subsidy-to-test-its-design-2020-10    Phillip de Wet , Business Insider SA Oct 22, 2020, 

  • American nuclear energy company NuScale has been citing Cape Town as an example of an ideal customer for its still-theoretical generators.
  • It has now received in-principle financial support from the American government to build a nuclear power station in South Africa.
  • NuScale’s pathfinder project for its new technology, in Idaho, just got a promise of an infusion of US government cash worth some R23 billion.
  • While South Africa abandoned plans to create next-generation PBMR systems, the administration of Donald Trump has pushed small-scale nuclear development.

NuScale, a company with roots in US-funded research, this week received assurances that the American government will provide up to $1.4 billion (around R23 billion) in subsidies for a 12-module reactor it hopes to start building in Idaho by 2025.

The project is a commercial one, with municipal buyers lined up for the electricity, but the cash from the US department of energy is intended to bring the cost of that electricity down to $55 per MWh on a levelised cost of energy (LCOE) basis, making the project at least vaguely competitive with other forms of power generation.

Without the subsidies, the supposedly once-off cost of building a first-of-its kind power station would make the NuScale project commercially unviable, its planned customers say.

Just how once-off such costs are, and how much money the US government ends up actually spending on the project, will be closely watched in South Africa

Last week the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) announced it had signed a letter of intent to support NuScale “to develop 2,500 MW of nuclear energy in South Africa”.

NuScale has cited Cape Town as a purely theoretical customer for a 12-module version of its nuclear energy system, saying that such an installation could desalinate enough water to keep the entire city going.

But the 2,500MW number cited by the DFC suggests its South African ambitions are substantial. That is the full generating capability the South African government now envisages adding to the national grid from nuclear stations – but the government plan calls for a mixture of the conventional pressurised water reactors (PWRs) such as Russia’s Rosatom sells, and the type of small modular reactors (SMRs) NuScale is developing.

By seeking development finance for the full 2,500MW, NuScale appears to be signalling a plan to bid for the whole thing, rather than seeking to build only part of a new set of nuclear generators in SA alongside companies from China or elsewhere.

That matches the aggressive posture of the US government under the administration of Donald Trump. The DFC letter of intent is the first time the organisation has supported any nuclear project; a ban on its involvement in nuclear energy was lifted on the recommendation of a working group formed by the White House.

The state funding for the NuScale project in the US, meanwhile, comes after consistent and determined efforts under Trump’s presidency to “revitalise” nuclear energy in America, both in production and through research and development on next-generation systems.

South Africa, though determined to buy new nuclear power stations, has not had a similar political appetite to invest in research. In 2010 it mothballed work on the pebble bed modular reactor, a project launched in the late 1990s to create a safe, small, modular reactor system for both domestic use and sale abroad.

Russia once thought it had a done deal to build new nuclear reactors in South Africa. Half a decade later, thanks to its sheer political weight, China seems to be a serious contender for the job. Both France and South Korea have, at various points, been in the running too.

But as of this week, an American company with no track record of actually building commerical nuclear reactors yet is lining up the kind of money from the US government that could make its plans for South Africa viable – replacing a dream of home-grown next-generation nuclear with an imported version.

As of this year there are still vague plans to revive the project, in one form or another, but even if those were to succeed, the pace of development would have to be improbably fast for it to have any place in South Africa’s current round of explorations.

October 24, 2020 Posted by | marketing, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, South Africa | Leave a comment

Another city leaves small nuclear reactor project – unanimous vote by Murray City Council, Utah

Murray City votes to withdraw from nuclear power project,  Salt Lake Tribune, By Taylor Stevens– 23 Oct 20,  The Murray City Council voted unanimously this week to back out of a first-of-its-kind nuclear power project that has the support of a number of Utah municipalities.

It’s the fourth Utah city to exit the small modular nuclear reactor pursuit over the last few months amid pressure from opponents who have raised concerns about environmental and financial risks of the proposed 12-module plant, which would be located at Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls and produce a total 720 megawatts of electricity.

During the city’s Tuesday council meeting, Murray Power Manager Blaine Haacke outlined several advantages of the project, including the potential that it could fill the energy gap that will be left when the Hunter Power Plant in Castle Dale goes offline in the coming years.

But he ultimately recommended that the council vote to back out of the project, saying there were too many risks involved in committing another $1.1 million to $1.4 million in taxpayer dollars, with an ultimate anticipated price tag to city residents of around $2.1 million.
“I think there’s just enough stumbling blocks out there that I’m really concerned about,” Haacke told the council.
The project’s projected costs have ballooned significantly, from $4.5 billion a few years ago to around $6 billion now. And he said there’s a chance that leadership or priority changes on the national level could affect federal appropriations toward the nuclear reactor plant.
But Haacke told the council Tuesday that his biggest concern is that the plant is only 25% subscribed — and it’s not a sure thing that new customers will suddenly come on board once it’s built.,,,,,,,,,
Ahead of the vote, city staff also read several public comments from residents, all of which urged their elected officials to back out of the project over concerns about both cost and potential environmental impacts.
Rusty Cannon, vice president of the Utah Taxpayers Association, was among those who sent in a written comment, arguing that the municipal power company should not act as a “seed investor” for the new technology.
That responsibility, he said, should lie with the private sector, and “municipal power companies could instead look to purchase power from such a project upon its completion” around 2029.
Environmental groups, such as the Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah, have also raised concerns about the radioactive waste that would be generated by the project.
Despite the federal government’s support, the future of the project seems murkier now that Murray has joined Lehi, Logan and Kaysville in backing out of the project. And Haacke said he’s heard rumors that other cities are considering an exit as well ahead of a recently-extended deadline to “off-ramp” from the project.

He told the council that he expects UAMPS will carry the project forward without Murray. But he said the association’s members will meet during the first week of November to make a final decision, after they find out how many cities have exited.

“If there are enough [municipalities] that have dropped out, as a UAMPS committee we will say, ‘let’s just drop it and move on,’” he said. …………
The Utah cities that remain in the Carbon Free Power Project have until Oct. 31 to drop out or to appropriate additional funds to the small modular reactor project.  ….  https://www.sltrib.com/news/politics/2020/10/23/murray-city-votes/

October 24, 2020 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Very dubious claims made by proponents of NuScam’s small nuclear reactor plans

Small Nuclear Reactors Would Provide [a dubious claim] Carbon-Free Energy, but Would They Be Safe? Inside Climate News, Jonathan Moens, -21 Oct 20 Regulators have approved designs for 12 small reactors to be built in Idaho, but opponents say the project is dangerous and too late to fight climate change.   “……… Last month, U.S. officials approved NuScale Power’s designs for 12 small nuclear reactors to be built in Boise, Idaho. The reactors could make use of the water, transmission lines and general infrastructure of former coal-powered plants in the West to produce clean energy, said Jose Reyes, co-founder of the company.

NuScale said the energy produced by its reactors would generate enough electricity to power about 50,000 homes across six Western states. The Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, an energy cooperative, would be the first to build the reactors on a federal site at the Idaho National Laboratory.  

The NuScale Power initiative has met with opposition from local environmental groups, who say that nuclear power is a dangerous and unsustainable energy source.

In addition, the highly radioactive waste from nuclear reactors must be securely stored indefinitely to prevent accidents, and contains plutonium and uranium that can be reprocessed into nuclear weapons. “We see this project as a way to create a whole new generation of high level radioactive waste,” said Scott Williams, executive director of Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah, a nuclear watchdog. ……

The designs underwent a public health and safety review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. But some scientists think they still aren’t safe enough. In a public statement, Edwin Lyman, director of nuclear power safety with the Union of Concerned Scientists, cited a report by a senior engineer at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission expressing concern that the cooling process might inadvertently cause “catastrophic” core damage to the reactors.

Other scientists worry that NuScale may be getting ahead of itself by not having a planning protocol for a radioactive emergency that affects areas around the site.

“In the event of an accident, the people around there will not have rehearsed how to do an evacuation,” said M.V. Ramana, a professor in the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia.  …….

Too Late in a Climate Crisis?

The municipal power systems cooperative still needs to obtain a license to build and begin operating the reactors. To do so, the project will undergo an additional site-specific review to consider the potential ecological, geographic and residential impact the technology may have on the area, said George Griffith, lead technician at the Idaho National Laboratory.

The delay means that while NuScale will be ready to manufacture modular reactors by around 2024, it will take an additional five to six years for them to be operational at the Idaho site, said Reyes. 

Some experts, however, question whether 2029 is too late for the technology to be relevant in a time of climate crisis…….

Ramana, of the University of British Columbia, said, “While the overall capital cost [for small modular reactors] might be smaller, they also generate smaller amounts of electricity.” He outlined his concerns in a report released in September urging the Utah energy cooperative to “end their pursuit of small modular reactors.”

Ramana made clear that while devastating incidents associated with nuclear power plants might seem unlikely, we need to remain cautious. 

“The lesson we should learn from all the many nuclear and other accidents that have happened with hazardous technologies, is a little bit of humility,” he said. https://insideclimatenews.org/news/20102020/small-nuclear-reactors-carbon-free-energy

October 22, 2020 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear industry stagnates, renewables thrive- small nuclear reactors will be a terrible mistake for Canada

October 19, 2020 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Small Nuclear Reactors on the moon- desperate hope for the failing nuclear industry

Fly me to the moon, but don’t put reactors there https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2020/10/18/goodbye-moon/, By Linda Pentz GunterNot content to desecrate our terrestrial landscape with hundreds of thousands of tons of nuclear waste — much piled up with nowhere to go, the rest released to contaminate our air, water and soil — humankind, in all its folly, now plans to do the same to the Moon. And, eventually to Mars.

While our species’ insatiable scientific curiosity has undoubtedly led to some beneficial inventions, it has also drawn us inexorably towards our own downfall. Our zeal to create the atomic bomb ignored logic, ethics, consequences and the fundamentals of human rights.

The bomb brought us so-called civil nuclear power reactors, the ugly and irresponsible spawn of a weapon that leaves us perched perpetually on the precipice of extinction. But there is nothing “civil” about nuclear power.

At the dawn of the nuclear energy age, not a thought was given to the legacy of deadly radioactive waste it would produce. That can was kicked summarily down the road. Now we are far down that road and no solution has been arrived at, while we ignore the one obvious one: stop making more of it!

So now comes the news that the US wants to put nuclear power reactors on the Moon.

In the news stories that followed the announcement, replete with the usual excitement about space exploration (never mind the cost and bellicose implications) there was not one single mention of the radioactive waste these reactors would produce.

The problem, like the waste itself, will simply be kicked into some invisible crater on the dark side of the Moon.

NASA, the US Department of Energy and assorted nuclear labs are pushing the small modular reactor for nuclear projects on the Moon and Mars. Desperate to stay relevant and to continue gobbling up taxpayer dollars, this is music to the failing nuclear industry’s ears. Financially disastrous and technically unresolved on Earth, the SMR, say these “experts”, is ideally suited to the needs of humans living for extensive periods in space. 

Since each of these mini-reactors will likely have an uninterrupted output of only 10 kilowatts, it will take multiple reactors on the Moon or Mars to fulfill the necessary functions for their human inhabitants.

Needless to say, so far there is no certified design, no test reactor, no actual reactor, and no fool-proof way to send such a reactor to the Moon. (Rockets have an unfortunate habit of sometimes blowing up on — or shortly after — launch.) Nevertheless, the year 2026 is the ambitious target date for all systems go. In keeping with the theme, “pie in the sky” springs to mind.

While no reactor design has been identified, it will most likely need to use highly enriched uranium (HEU) which puts the reactor firmly in violation of non-proliferation standards. As Dr. Edwin Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists told PBS Newshour, “This may drive or start an international space race to build and deploy new types of reactors requiring highly enriched uranium.”

Given the utility of HEU for nuclear weapons use, and the probes currently being sent to the Moon and Mars by “unfriendly” countries such as China and the United Arab Emirates, it does not take much of an imagination to envisage the temptation for theft by force. Will the US deploy guards around its lunar reactors.? Will we see terrorism on the Moon, even war?

What is this really all about? Profit? Prestige? Proliferation? The Idaho National Laboratory, which is eager to develop the lunar SMR prototype, sees this as an opportunity to emphasize “the United States’ global leadership in nuclear innovation,” the lab’s John Wagner told Newshour.

This echoes the mantra parroted by almost every federal institution and corporation seeking to justify some new and exorbitant nuclear expense: we cannot let China and Russia take over; the US must retain — or regain — pre-eminence in the nuclear sector and in space. And so on.

It’s not being cute to call this lunacy. With the ever-expanding crises on Earth, caused by the ravaging effects of climate change as well as the current pandemic, spending exorbitant sums to stick reactors on the Moon or Mars is more than madness; it is morally irresponsible. It abandons most of us on Earth to our fate, while, just maybe, possibly, someday, a handful of people will head off to the Red Planet. Never to return.

Yet undeterred by immorality and expense, and apparently without the slightest concern for the radioactive dirt pile these reactors will produce, NASA and the Department of Energy are eagerly soliciting proposals.

And what will these lunar reactors do? They will enable “capability for a sustained lunar presence, particularly for surviving a lunar night,” NASA’s Anthony Calomino told Space News.  “The surface of the moon provides us an opportunity to fabricate, test and flight qualify a space fission system,” he said.

The Moon is seen as our launchpad to Mars. Now, it seems, it will also become our latest nuclear dustbin. If there is a meltdown, or a cascade of accidents among the cluster of small identical reactors there, all of which could suffer the same failure at the same time, it will become our next nuclear wasteland.

I am happy to say “goodnight moon.” But I don’t wan’t to say “goodbye.”

October 19, 2020 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, space travel, USA | Leave a comment

Hypocrisy prize to U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), for pretending that NuScam’s Small Nuclear Reactors are ”foreign aid”

October 19, 2020 Posted by | AFRICA, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

Canada’s government caught up in the Small Nuclear Reactor Ponzi Scheme

Why is the federal government funding new nuclear power reactors?  rabble.ca Susan O’Donnell, October 15, 2020

 In its September throne speech, the federal government signalled its intention to fund the development of new nuclear reactors (SMRs) as part of its climate action plan.

Today, the government made its first SMR funding announcement: $20 million from ISED’s Strategic Innovation Fund for the company Terrestrial Energy to develop its prototype SMR in Ontario.

Anyone interested in evidence-based policy is wondering: Why are they doing this? There is no evidence that nuclear power will achieve carbon reduction targets, while there is considerable research indicating the contrary.

In fact, in today’s funding announcement, federal Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan confirmed that the new reactor will take more than a decade to develop and will contribute nothing to Canada’s 2030 target for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The same week as the throne speech, the release of the 2020 World Nuclear Industry Status Report (WNISR) confirmed, as did its previous reports, that developing new nuclear energy is too slow and uneconomical to address the climate crisis compared to deploying renewable energy technologies.

Last week, research based on data from 123 countries over a 25-year period made a similar finding. December 2019 research from Stanford professor Mark Z. Jacobson refutes claims that nuclear energy is zero-carbon. A November 2019 article in the American business magazine Forbes argues that building new nuclear reactors instead of investing in more climate-effective energy resources actually makes climate change worse.

SMRs, the nuclear reactors promoted by the federal government, are in particular over-hyped as a climate crisis solution. SMRs have been proposed as a solution for remote communities and mining sites currently relying on diesel fuel but new research has found the potential market is too small to be viable. 

SMRs exist only as computer models and nobody knows for sure if they will work. Last month, the Canadian energy watchdog The Energy Mix interviewed WNISR lead author Mycle Schneider, who called SMRs “PowerPoint reactors, not detailed engineering.”

Given all the research evidence pointing away from funding nuclear energy in a climate action plan, why is the federal government proposing to do it?

In a webinar presentation earlier this year, the president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility Gordon Edwards put it bluntly: “The nuclear industry is desperate.”

Edwards believes the federal government’s push for new reactor development is coming from the nuclear industry. “If they can, the nuclear industry will convince governments to pour public money into this for whatever reason, by misrepresenting its advantages and minimizing or even ignoring its disadvantages.”……….

Nuclear reactor promoters are “barely keeping themselves alive,” said Edwards, and have realized for quite a while that “they are in trouble.”

The federal government created the nuclear industry in Canada and has funded it since the late 1940s. For more than 70 years Canada has been spending vast sums of public money to keep it going. Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), a Crown corporation with a mandate to promote and support nuclear science and technology and manage nuclear waste in Canada, received $826 million from the federal government in 2017-2018. Most of the public funds are turned over to a private-sector entity, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, whose majority partner is SNC Lavalin.

One description of the nuclear industry in Canada is that it can be understood as a kind of Ponzi scheme. In its current corporate plan, AECL listed a cost liability of almost $6.4 billion for decommissioning and waste management provision and $988 million for contaminated sites in 2017-18.

The industry needs new nuclear reactors as a replacement revenue stream. New reactors require capital investment but no banks or private investors are willing to invest due to the poor return on investment. Public funding is the only option to keep the industry alive and pay off its liabilities, and more public money is always required or the entire scheme will collapse. ……..

a revolving door shuttles senior government personnel involved in nuclear energy files to the CNA lobby. In one recent example, the former parliamentary secretary to the minister of natural resources who was responsible for nuclear policy is now a consultant for the CNA.

Former senior AECL executives and government nuclear energy staff are now establishing and managing various start-up nuclear companies actively seeking public funding from the federal government. And according to the throne speech, the money is available…….

The Canadian government’s plans to invest in nuclear energy contrast with the European Union’s proposed Green New Deal released in June this year that specifically excludes investment in nuclear energy because of its harmful environmental impacts. The decision followed sustainable finance guidelines also adopted this year and developed in a process that included environmental and other civil society groups as well as energy industry representatives……….https://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/views-expressed/2020/10/why-federal-government-funding-new-nuclear-power-reactors#.X4t38dAXWFc.twitter

October 19, 2020 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

USA marketing NuScam small nuclear reactors to Africa

 

US to support new nuclear power project in South Africa  https://businesstech.co.za/news/energy/441510/us-to-support-new-nuclear-power-project-in-south-africa/, Bloomberg17 October 2020  The United States International Development Finance Corp. pledged to support NuScale Power LLC, a US nuclear energy technology firm, to develop 2,500 megawatts of power in South Africa.

South Africa’s government drafted an economic recovery plan in conjunction with business and labour groups several months ago in a bargaining forum known as the National Economic Development and Labour Council, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.A version of the strategy that was discussed by the cabinet this week, and seen by Bloomberg, includes suggestions to secure reliable energy supply through the construction of new nuclear plants.

The draft envisages R23 billion  ($1.4 billion) being allocated to galvanize private investment in infrastructure and R4.5 billion being spent on public transport over the next 12 months, but provides scant detail on where the money will come from.

The DFC, which ended its prohibition on supporting nuclear power in July, signed a letter of intent to support NuScale’s bid for South Africa’s independent power producer program, the development bank said in an emailed statement on Friday.

“If successful, NuScale would be the first US nuclear energy IPP on the continent and would help support energy resilience and security in one of Africa’s leading economies,” the DFC said.

October 19, 2020 Posted by | AFRICA, marketing, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

USA starts off $3.2 billion subsidy program with $80 million each for “next generation” nuclear reactors

October 15, 2020 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

.S. govt funds small nuclear reactors, with $billions more tax-payer money to follow

DOE Awards $160M to TerraPower and X-Energy to Build Advanced Nuclear Plants by 2027, Greentech Media, 14 Oct 20 The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $160 million to X-energy and TerraPower with the potential for billions more in federal funding, as the companies strive to build a working model of their smaller scale, more flexible advanced nuclear reactor designs by 2027. TerraPower is partnered with the GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, a nuclear industry joint venture formed in 2007.

DOE’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program will provide $80 million to each award winner, DOE Secretary Dan Brouillette said Tuesday. DOE intends to invest about $3.2 billion over the next seven years into advanced nuclear, subject to future congressional appropriations, he said………


Smaller reactors
 are critical to rejuvenate an industry that’s struggling to finance and build the massive, gigawatt-plus power plants that make up the world’s existing nuclear fleet. In the U.S., several of these have been canceled, and Southern Company’s Plant Vogtle expansion is behind schedule and over budget.

Meanwhile, existing reactors in Pennsylvania and Illinois are facing the threat of closure due to challenging energy market economics, and California’s sole remaining nuclear reactor is set to close by mid-decade…………

TerraPower’s initial plans for what it calls a traveling wave reactor drew investment from Gates and Sun Microsystems billionaire Vinod Khosla with its promise of using depleted uranium rather than enriched uranium-235. But that project was abandoned last year after the Trump administration imposed limits on U.S.-China technology transfer forced it to cancel its partnership with China National Nuclear Corp.  ……..

X-energy’s advanced pebble-bed reactor……  has yet to be proven in commercial form. A 15 MW demonstration reactor in Germany operated for two decades, but a second, larger-scale version was shut down after only four years of operation. China has built a 10 MW demonstration reactor, and a 250 MW unit began construction in 2012, but plans to start operations in 2019 have been pushed back, with no new completion date announced. ……

 
New nuclear reactor designs must undergo decades of testing and certification before they can be put into operation. NuScale Power, founded in 2007 to develop a light water modular reactor, received a key approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission last month and hopes to deliver its first 50 MW Power Module units in 2027. Other companies pursuing small nuclear reactor designs include Hyperion Power GenerationTerrestrial Energy, and the now-defunct Transatomic.  https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/terrapower-x-energy-win-160m-in-doe-grants-to-build-advanced-nuclear-plants-by-2027 
 

October 15, 2020 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Small modular nuclear reactors create intensely radioactive wastes

A bridge to nowhere    New Brunswick must reject small modular reactors, Beyond Nuclear International, By Gordon Edwards and Susan O’Donnell, 12 Oct, 20 ”………  In New Brunswick, the proposed new reactors (so-called “small modular nuclear reactors” or SMNRs) will create irradiated fuel even more intensely radioactive per kilogram than waste currently stored at NB Power’s Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station. The non-fuel radioactive wastes will remain the responsibility of the government of New Brunswick, likely requiring the siting of a permanent radioactive waste repository somewhere in the province.

Interestingly, promoters of both new nuclear projects in New Brunswick – the ARC-100 reactor and the Moltex “Stable Salt Reactor” – claim their reactors will “burn up” these radioactive waste fuel bundles. They have even suggested that their prototype reactors offer a “solution” to Lepreau’s existing nuclear fuel waste problem. This is untrue. Radioactive left-over used fuel from the new reactors will still require safe storage for hundreds of thousands of years.

……… Until now, every effort to recycle and “burn up” used reactor fuel – in France, the UK, Russia and the US – has resulted in countless incidents of radioactive contamination of the local environment. In addition, none of these projects eliminated the need for permanent storage of the left-over long-lived radioactive byproducts, many of which cannot be “burned up.”…….

The nuclear waste problem is not going away. The recent letter from more than 100 groups across Canada, and the recent cancellation of the proposed nuclear waste dump in Ontario have shown that significant opposition to new nuclear energy generation exists. Because producing nuclear energy always means producing nuclear waste as well……. https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2020/10/12/a-bridge-to-nowhere/,

October 13, 2020 Posted by | Canada, Reference, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, wastes | Leave a comment