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Scientifically ignorant, is Australia’s Morrison government being conned into buying Small Modular Nuclear Reactors?

Fukushima, the ‘nuclear renaissance’ and the Morrison Government, Independent Australia, By Helen Caldicott | 25 June 2019 Now that the “nuclear renaissance” is dead following the Fukushima catastrophe, when one-sixth of the world’s nuclear reactors closed, the nuclear corporations – Toshiba, Nu-Scale, Babcock and Wilcox, GE Hitachi, Cameco, General Atomics and the Tennessee Valley Authority – will not accept defeat, nor will the ill-informed Morrison Government…..

To be quite frank, almost all of our politicians are scientifically and medically ignorant and in an age where scientific evolution has become extraordinarily sophisticated, it behoves us – as legitimate members of democracy – to both educate ourselves and our naive and ignorant politicians for they are not our leaders, they are our representatives.

Many of these so-called representatives are now being cajoled into believing that electricity production in Australia could benefit from a new form of atomic power in the form of small modular reactors (SMRs), allegedly free of the dangers inherent in large reactors — safety issues, high cost, proliferation risks and radioactive waste.

But these claims are fallacious, for the reasons outlined below.

Basically, there are three types of small modular reactors (SMRs), which generate less than 300 megawatts of electricity compared with current 1,000-megawatt reactors.

1. Light-water reactors

These will be smaller versions of present-day pressurised water reactors, using water as the moderator and coolant, but with the same attendant problems as Fukushima and Three Mile Island. Built underground, they will be difficult to access in the event of an accident or malfunction.

Because they’re mass-produced (turnkey production), large numbers must be sold yearly to make a profit. This is an unlikely prospect because major markets — China and India — will not buy our reactors when they can make their own.

If safety problems arise, they all must be shut down, which will interfere substantially with electricity supply.

SMRs are expensive because the cost per unit capacity increases with a decrease in reactor size. Billions of dollars of government subsidies will be required because investors are allergic to nuclear power. To alleviate costs, it is suggested that safety rules be relaxed.

2. Non-light-water designs

These include high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGRs) or pebble-bed reactors. Five billion tiny fuel kernels consisting of high-enriched uranium or plutonium will be encased in tennis-ball-sized graphite spheres that must be made without cracks or imperfections — or they could lead to an accident. A total of 450,000 such spheres will slowly and continuously be released from a fuel silo, passing through the reactor core and then recirculated ten times. These reactors will be cooled by helium gas operating at high very temperatures (900 degrees Celcius).

A reactor complex consisting of four HTGR modules will be located underground, usually to be run by just two operators in a central control room. Claims are that HTGRs will be so “safe” that a containment building will be unnecessary and operators can even leave the site (“walk-away-safe” reactors).

However, should temperatures unexpectedly exceed 1,600 degrees Celcius, the carbon coating will release dangerous radioactive isotopes into the helium gas and at 2,000 degrees Celcius, the carbon would ignite, creating a fierce, Chernobyl-type graphite fire.

If a crack develops in the piping or building, radioactive helium would escape and air would rush in, also igniting the graphite.

Although HTGRs produce small amounts of low-level waste, they create larger volumes of high-level waste than conventional reactors.

Despite these obvious safety problems, and despite the fact that South Africa has abandoned plans for HTGRs, the U.S. Department of Energy has unwisely chosen the HTGR as the “next-generation nuclear plant.” There is a push for Australia to follow suit.

3. Liquid-metal fast reactors (PRISM)

It is claimed by proponents that fast reactors will be safe, economically competitive, proliferation-resistant and sustainable.

They are fueled by plutonium or highly enriched uranium and cooled by either liquid sodium or a lead-bismuth molten coolant. Liquid sodium burns or explodes when exposed to air or water, and lead-bismuth is extremely corrosive, producing very volatile radioactive elements when irradiated.

Should a crack occur in the reactor complex, liquid sodium would escape, burning or exploding. Without coolant, the plutonium fuel could reach critical mass, triggering a massive nuclear explosion, scattering plutonium to the four winds. One-millionth of a gram of plutonium induces cancer — and it lasts for 500,000 years. Extraordinarily, they claim that fast reactors will be so safe that they will require no emergency sirens and that emergency planning zones can be decreased.

There are two types of fast reactors: a simple, plutonium-fueled reactor and a “breeder,” in which the plutonium-reactor core is surrounded by a blanket of uranium 238, which captures neutrons and converts to plutonium.

The plutonium fuel, obtained from spent reactor fuel, will be fissioned and converted to shorter-lived isotopes, caesium and strontium, which last 600 years instead of 500,000. The industry claims that this process, called “transmutation,” is an excellent way to get rid of plutonium waste. But this is fallacious because only ten per cent is fissioned, leaving 90 per cent of the plutonium for bomb-making and so on.

Then there’s construction. Three small plutonium fast reactors are grouped together to form a module and three of these modules will be buried underground. All nine reactors will then be connected to a fully automated central control room operated by only three operators. Potentially, then, one operator could face a catastrophic situation triggered by the loss of off-site power to one unit at full power, another shut down for refuelling and one in startup mode. There are to be no emergency core cooling systems.

Fast reactors require massive infrastructure, including a reprocessing plant to dissolve radioactive waste fuel rods in nitric acid, chemically removing the plutonium and a fuel fabrication facility to create new fuel rods. A total of 14-23 tonnes of plutonium are required to operate a fuel cycle at a fast reactor, and just five pounds is fuel for a nuclear weapon.

Thus fast reactors and breeders will provide extraordinary long-term medical dangers and the perfect situation for nuclear-weapons proliferation. Despite this, the Coalition Government is considering their renaissance.  https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/fukushima-the-nuclear-renaissance-and-the-morrison-government,12834

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June 25, 2019 Posted by | politics, Reference, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Salt Lake City-based Energy Strategies – study shows NuScale’s small nuclear reactors too costly for Utah

Environmental group says new nuclear power plant too pricey for Utah’s municipal utilities, KSL.com By Lisa Riley Roche,  Jun 21st, 2019  SALT LAKE CITY — A group opposed to a new type of nuclear plant being developed said Thursday the price of power produced there would be more than other carbon-free energy sources, making it a bad investment for Utah’s municipal utilities.

“We feel the numbers are independent and speak for themselves,” Michael Shea, a senior policy associate for the Healthy Environmental Alliance of Utah, told reporters at a news conference discussing the findings in a new study.

The study, by Salt Lake City-based Energy Strategies, found power produced by the small modular nuclear reactors to be built in Idaho would cost more than $66 per megawatt hour, compared to as low as just over $38 for wind and solar power.

“It does not make economic sense from a market perspective for a group like (the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems) to be investing in what is essentially a subsidized science project that has not ever been proven,” Shea said…….

Longtime consumer protection watchdog Claire Geddes spoke at the news conference about her confidence in the study and her concerns about the impact of higher costs on the public.

Geddes, who said she has worked on utility issues since 1992, suggested the local governments supervising municipal utilities don’t have the resources to adequately vet the project.

“It’s really not fair to the public,” she said. “I would stress that these cities understand, before they go into it, what the risks are to their citizens and their businesses.”

Both the environmental alliance and Geddes called for further study by the municipal power system before local governments make a final decision next year on what would be a 40-year contract. ……

Besides the cost concerns, Williams said the new type of nuclear plant can’t be presumed to be safe and would still produce at least as much nuclear waste as a traditional plant.

The intent is for the municipal power system to purchase all 12 modular reactors at the plant being built by an Oregon-based company, NuScale Power, system spokesman LaVarr Webb said.

The power generated would be used by the 46 members, mostly municipalities, in Utah and other states, Webb said, and would sold to other users including the federal government for use by the Idaho National Laboratory and the Department of Energy……..https://www.ksl.com/article/46578424/environmental-group-says-new-nuclear-power-plant-too-pricey-for-utahs-municipal-utilities

June 22, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Holtec and Ukraine developing Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (dodgy underground devices)

Consortium established for SMR-160 deployment in Ukraine, WNN 12 June 2019

The consortium document was signed by Holtec CEO Kris Singh, Energoatom President Yury Nedashkovsky and SSTC President Igor Shevchenko. The signing ceremony – held at Holtec’s headquarters in Camden, New Jersey – was attended by senior Holtec officials and delegations from Mitsubishi Electric, the US Department of Energy and Energoatom.

The consortium is a US company registered in Delaware with each of the three parties owning allotted shares. Its technology operation centre will be based in Kiev, Ukraine…….

The MoU includes the licensing and construction of SMR-160 reactors in Ukraine, as well as the partial localisation of SMR-160 components. The Ukrainian manufacturing hub is to mirror the capabilities of Holtec’s Advanced Manufacturing Plant in Camden, and will be one of four manufacturing plants Holtec plans to build at distributed sites around the world by the mid-2020s.

Holtec’s 160 MWe factory-built SMR uses low-enriched uranium fuel. The reactor’s core and all nuclear steam supply system components would be located underground, and the design incorporates a wealth of features including a passive cooling system that would be able to operate indefinitely after shutdown….

The SMR-160 is planned for operation by 2026.

The SMR-160 is currently undergoing the first phase of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s three-phase pre-licensing vendor design review process. State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine, the nuclear regulatory authority in Ukraine, is expected to coordinate its regulatory assessment of SMR-160 under a collaborative arrangement with its Canadian counterpart.  http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Consortium-established-for-SMR-160-deployment-in-U

Edwin lyman on the safety of these reactors “Holtec SMR-160. The Holtec SMR-160 will generate 160 MWe. Like the NuScale, it is designed for passive cooling of the primary system during both normal and accident conditions. However, the modules would be much taller than the NuScale modules and would not be submerged in a pool of water. Each reactor vessel would be located deep underground, with a large inventory of water above it that could be used to provide a passive heat sink for cooling the core in the event of an accident. Each containment building would be surrounded by an additional enclosure for safety, and the space between the two structures would be filled with water. Unlike the other iPWRs, the SMR-160 steam generators are not internal to the reactor vessel. The reactor system is tall and narrow to maximize the rate of natural convective flow, which is low in other passive designs. Holtec has not made precise dimensions available, but the reactor vessel is approximately 100 feet tall, and the aboveground portion of the containment is about 100 feet tall and 50 feet in diameter (Singh 2013)

For these and other SMRs, it is important to note that only limited information is available about the design, as well as about safety and security. A vast amount of information is considered commercially sensitive or security-related and is being withheld from the public. ….

 in the event of a serious accident, emergency crews could have greater difficulty accessing underground reactors.

Underground siting of reactors is not a new idea. Decades ago, both Edward Teller and Andrei Sakharov proposed siting reactors deep underground to enhance safety. However, it was recognized early on that building reactors underground increases cost. Numerous studies conducted in the 1970s found construction cost penalties for underground reactor construction ranging from 11 to 60 percent (Myers and Elkins). As a result, the industry lost interest in underground siting. This issue will require considerable analysis to evaluate trade-offs…. ” https://nuclearinformation.wordpress.com/2017/11/29/edwin-lyman-on-small-modular-reactors/  erious accident, emergency crews could have greater difficulty accessing underground reactors.

June 13, 2019 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, Ukraine, USA | Leave a comment

Energy experts doubt the viability of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)

June 10, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

The false hope of “Small Modular Nuclear Reactors” being pushed in Wales

Beyond Nuclear 12th May 2019 Irene is with a group called CADNO, founded in 1987 and active until the plants closed. The CADNO acronym in Welsh means Society for the Prevention
of Everlasting Nuclear Destruction. It is also the Welsh word for fox.
Now the group is slowly gearing back up, because the Trawsfynydd site is being
talked about as a possible location for a new, small modular reactor (SMR).
CADNO is the fox we actually need to guard this henhouse. The old
Trawsfynydd reactors are decommissioning now, but very slowly. On
Wikipedia, the page proclaims that the decommissioning is expected to take
“almost 100 years.”
The SMR phantom is manifesting itself many places
beyond Trawsfynydd. Being described as “small” and “modular” tends
to mask the reality that it is expensive, of little use for climate change,
and likely still far in the future.
Local politicians, including in Gwynedd, the county in which the Trawsfynydd reactors sit, view the project as an easy jobs handout for a region struggling to employ people. It’s
false hope, of course, because the likelihood of SMRs coming to fruition is
slim and would provide only a handful of jobs.
The area is ripe for more wind power but the UK government remains eager to subsidize new nuclear instead, the only way new nuclear power plants will ever get built.

https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2019/05/12/the-fox-we-need-to-guard-this-henhouse/

May 14, 2019 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, spinbuster, UK | Leave a comment

Pentagon’s strange and dangerous plan for small nuclear reactors at the battle scene

April 20, 2019 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear Transparency Watch warns on the unwisdom of UK government subsidising Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)

Small Modular Reactors – of SMRs and ANTs, by Jan Haverkamp   http://www.nuclear-transparency-watch.eu/activities/small-modular-reactors-of-smrs-and-ants-by-jan-haverkamp.html  

15 April 2019  The debate on Small Modular Reactors continues to warm up. The IAEA recently updated its webpages on the issue. SMRs are currently promoted by parts of the nuclear industry as an answer to the decrease of interest in normal gigawatt (GW)-scale reactors because of economic and technical realities.

NTW member Dr. David Lowry intervened on the issue on behalf of Nuclear Transparency Watch during the European Nuclear Energy Forum (ENEF) in Bratislava, June 2018, where he addressed, what he called, some “inconvenient truths” about these smaller reactors. Last month he published on his blog site an overview of articles that illustrate how the issue is currently discussed in the UK, with the responsible energy minister, earlier accused of “crushing” small reactors, first praising SMRs, then renaming them ANTs (advanced nuclear technologies), and then resigning over Brexit.Just before his resignation, energy minister Richard Harrington announced a further £7 million of funding to regulators to build the capability and capacity needed to assess and licence small reactor designs, and up to £44 million pounds in R&D funding to support Generation IV advanced reactors. This came on top of earlier promised £460 million in the UK government’s Clean Growth Strategy to support work in areas including future nuclear fuels, new nuclear manufacturing techniques, recycling and reprocessing, and advanced reactor design, £8 million on modern safety and security methodologies and advanced fuel studies, and £5 million on materials and manufacturing as part of a Small Business Research Initiative.

Dr. David Lowry thinks it is time for a warning: “This article focuses on the UK, but similar arguments as I brought forward in Bratislava would apply to any other European government confronted with requests for support of this new sector.”

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK | Leave a comment

Many obstacles to small modular nuclear reactors, but U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission recommends them, anyway

NRC recommends issuing early site permit for Clinch River Nuclear Site, OAK RIDGE TODAY,  APRIL 8, 2019BY JOHN HUOTARI The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a final environmental impact statement, and the staff has recommended, based upon the environmental review, issuing an early site permit for the Clinch River Nuclear Site in west Oak Ridge, where two or more small modular nuclear reactors could be built.The final environmental impact statement, or EIS, was issued by the NRC on April 3. A notice of the EIS and the staff’s recommendation were published in the Federal Register on Monday, April 8.

The 935-acre Clinch River Nuclear Site is located in Roane County along the Clinch River……….

An early site permit is the NRC’s approval of a site for one or more nuclear power facilities. It does not authorize the actual construction and operation of a new nuclear power plant. That requires a construction permit and an operating license, or a combined license. ………

The Clinch River Nuclear Site could be used to demonstrate small modular reactors with a maximum total electrical output of 800 megawatts………

Now that the final EIS has been published, there will be a mandatory hearing with the NRC after a final safety evaluation report is issued. The NRC expects that report to be published in June. The five-member commission will make a decision after the hearing about whether to issue the early site permit.

A contested hearing could be held by the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board panel if a member of the public or an organization successfully files a petition that raises safety or environmental concerns about granting the site a permit, the NRC said.

The NRC said an authorization for the construction or operation of new nuclear units at the Clinch River site is not being sought at this time.

The potential timing of any reactors being built at the site is not clear. Among other things, TVA doesn’t control the reactor certification process.

“There are currently no certified small modular reactor designs available, but TVA will continue working to ensure we are ready to fully evaluate them when they are available,” Hopson said.

Financial considerations would have to be evaluated, and the TVA board of directors would have the final decision “based on what they believe will be in the best interest of the people of the Tennessee Valley,” Hopson said.

Since a design hasn’t been certified for a small modular reactor, TVA used what is known as a “plant parameter envelope” as a surrogate for a nuclear power plant and its facilities when applying for the early site permit. The “plant parameter envelope” estimated the potential environmental impacts of building and operating two or more small modular reactors at the site. TVA used information from four small modular reactor vendors to develop the “plant parameter envelope.”

A reader has asked why TVA might consider adding new generating capacity at the Clinch River site even as it plans to retire coal-fired units like the Bull Run Fossil Plant in Claxton, citing flat or declining demand………https://oakridgetoday.com/2019/04/08/nrc-recommends-issuing-early-site-permit-clinch-river-nuclear-site/

April 9, 2019 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

15 USA senators re-introduce bill to promote new nuclear reactors

Senate re-introduces bill to help advanced nuclear technology, Legislation was praise by Bill Gates, who has funded an advanced nuclear company. Ars Technica, MEGAN GEUSS – 4/1/2019, 

Last week, a bipartisan group of 15 US senators re-introduced a bill to instate the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act (NELA), which would offer incentives and set federal goals for advanced nuclear energy. A smaller group of senators originally introduced the bill in September of last year, but the Congressional session ended before the Senate voted on it.

Specifically, the bill authorizes the federal government to enter into 40-year power purchase agreements (PPAs) with nuclear power companies, as opposed to the 10-year agreements that were previously authorized. Securing a 40-year PPA would essentially guarantee to an advanced nuclear startup that it could sell its power for 40 years, which reduces the uncertainty that might come with building a complex and complicated power source.

……. In addition to supporting a 40-year PPA to improve the economics of advanced nuclear reactor research from the private market, the bill directs the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy to develop a 10-year strategic plan to support advanced nuclear reactor research. The DOE must also “construct a fast neutron-capable research facility” if the bill passes, which Senate materials say “is necessary to test important reactor components, demonstrate their safe and reliable operation, and ultimately license advanced reactor concepts.”

The bill also directs the federal government to make available some “high-assay low-enriched uranium” for research and testing in advanced reactors. Traditional light-water reactors use low-enriched uranium in which the active U-235 isotope constitutes 3 to 5 percent of the nuclear fuel, according to the World Nuclear Association. High-assay low-enriched uranium, on the other hand, pushes enrichment levels to about 7 percent of the fuel and, in some cases, can go as high as 20 percent.

Finally, the bill directs the DOE to create “a university nuclear leadership program” to train the next generation of nuclear engineers.

On Thursday, Microsoft mogul Bill Gates tweeted his support for the bill. Gates is currently the chairman for an advanced nuclear reactor company called Terrapower, which is developing a traveling wave reactor that uses depleted uranium as fuel (depleted uranium is a by-product of uranium enrichment). Terrapower suffered a political setback earlier this year, as US rules against sharing nuclear technology with China forced the company to abandon its plans for conducting preliminary trials of its technology in that country.

Gates praised this new bill, writing “I can’t overstate how important this is.”

…….. NuScale Power, a company that has made significant progress toward building a small modular reactor in Idaho, also praised the bill. In a statement to a market research company called The Morning Consult, chief strategy officer of NuScale Power Chris Colbert said that “the bill would ‘absolutely’ make it easier and more certain to reach deployment.” https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/03/senate-re-introduces-bill-to-help-advanced-nuclear-technology/

April 1, 2019 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Small and Medium Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) – cost estimates, and what they cost to build

SMR cost estimates, and costs of SMRs under construction, Nuclear Monitor Issue:  #872-873 4777 07/03/2019Jim Green ‒ Nuclear Monitor editor

Costs of SMRs under construction   https://wiseinternational.org/nuclear-monitor/872-873/smr-cost-estimates-and-costs-smrs-under-construction?fbclid=IwAR1TQA0xJ4bYxnVxJ0Aulcxvp0miMhEP4Vt8YqvLQKrhI3lTDhnrzZxQCE8Estimated construction costs for Russia’s floating nuclear power plant (with two 35-MW ice-breaker-type reactors) have increased more than four-fold and now equate to over US$10 billion / gigawatt (GW) (US$740 million / 70 MW).1 A 2016 OECD Nuclear Energy Agency report said that electricity produced by the plant is expected to cost about US$200/MWh, with the high cost due to large staffing requirements, high fuel costs, and resources required to maintain the barge and coastal infrastructure.2

Little credible information is available on the cost of China’s demonstration 2×250 MW high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR). If the demonstration reactor is completed and successfully operated, China reportedly plans to upscale the design to 655 MW (three modules feeding one turbine, total 655 MW) and to build these reactors in pairs with a total capacity of about 1,200 MW (so much for the small-is-beautiful SMR rhetoric). According to the World Nuclear Association, China’s Institute of Nuclear and New Energy Technology at Tsinghua University expects the cost of a 655 MWe HTGR to be 15-20% more than the cost of a conventional 600 MWe PWR.3

A 2016 report said that the estimated construction cost of China’s demonstration HTGR is about US$5,000/kW ‒ about twice the initial cost estimates.4 Cost increases have arisen from higher material and component costs, increases in labor costs, and increased costs associated with project delays.4 The World Nuclear Association states that the cost of the demonstration HTGR is US$6,000/kW.5

The CAREM (Central Argentina de Elementos Modulares) SMR under construction in Argentina illustrates the gap between SMR rhetoric and reality. Argentina’s Undersecretary of Nuclear Energy, Julián Gadano, said in 2016 that the world market for SMRs is in the tens of billions of dollars and that Argentina could capture 20% of the market with its CAREM technology.6 But cost estimates have ballooned: Continue reading

March 25, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

American nuclear lobby keen to market new nuclear reactors to overseas, to anyone!

The US is losing the nuclear energy export race to China and Russia. Here’s the Trump team’s plan to turn the tide

CNBC, MAR 21 2019 
 Tom DiChristopher@TDICHRISTOPHER 

  • Russian and Chinese companies are aggressively pursuing nuclear energy export deals and building more reactors overseas than U.S. firms.
  • The Trump administration aims to disrupt that progress by expanding early stage cooperation with countries interested in adopting nuclear energy.
  •  new initiative aims to make the U.S. the global leader in advanced nuclear reactors poised to hit the market in the coming years.The Trump administration is preparing a new push to help American companies compete in the race to build the next generation of nuclear power plants around the world — a competition the U.S. is currently losing.

    In doing so, the administration also aims to push back on the growing dominance of Russia and China in the space, preventing them from expanding their international influence by forging long-lasting nuclear ties with foreign powers.

    The State Department plans to expand cooperation with countries pursuing atomic energy long before those nations ever purchase a nuclear reactor. By facilitating early stage talks, the U.S. intends to put American companies first in line to build tomorrow’s fleet of nuclear power plants overseas

    We still lead the world in nuclear technology innovation. Our big challenge is taking that incredible IP and those incredible technological innovative breakthroughs and bringing them to market.

    To be sure, the Energy and Commerce departments actively facilitate U.S. nuclear cooperation with their foreign counterparts. But the State Department now intends to push the issue in talks at the highest levels of government, making it clear that Washington believes cooperation in the nuclear realm is central to its strategic relationships…….

    Rise of Russia and China

    The U.S. dominated nuclear energy exports decades ago, but faces stiff competition today, including from allies like France and South Korea. But it’s the growing dominance of adversaries in Beijing and Moscow that worries the Trump administration and nonproliferation experts……..

    Russia is also changing the rules of the game by offering generous financing that makes nuclear energy affordable to more nations. Moscow is targeting non-nuclear states in the Middle East and Africa with a model to build, own and operate the plants.

    The State Department intends to actively dissuade its partners from working with China and Russia, according to Christopher Ford, assistant secretary for international security and nonproliferation.

    Ford previewed that message last month at the Hudson Institute in Washington DC: “Russia and China also use reactor sales by their heavily state-supported nuclear industries as a geopolitical tool to deepen political relationships with partner countries, to foster energy dependence by foreign partners, and sometimes even to use predatory financing to lure foreign political leaderships into ‘debt traps’ that give Beijing or Moscow leverage that it can exploit later for geopolitical advantage.”

    New plan takes shape

    During the address, Ford outlined State’s plan to help American companies compete with Chinese and Russian firms.

    The department will more closely coordinate nuclear cooperation efforts across agencies and ramp up informal, non-binding talks with nations that might pursue nuclear energy technology. The goal is to expand the number of countries engaged in ongoing communication with U.S. government agencies, nuclear energy companies and researchers.

    The State Department will do this by signing nuclear cooperation memorandums of understanding with the countries……..

    State’s focus is on teeing up sales of a new generation of nuclear technology expected to come online in the next five to 10 years, the official said.Those include small modular reactors that can be bolted together to form larger units, Terrapower’s traveling wave reactor backed by Bill Gates and microreactors meant to provide enough power for a few thousand homes.

    Altogether, there are about two dozen serious designs for advanced nuclear reactors trying to break into the market, said McGinnis. Under McGinnis and Secretary Rick Perry, one of the Energy Department’s top priorities is facilitating the development of these new technologies…….

    On Tuesday, NuScale Energy signed a memorandum to explore deploying its small modular reactors in Romania, after signing similar agreements with Canada and Jordan.

    The U.S. will still have to reach so-called 123 Agreements with foreign countries before American firms can sell nuclear reactors overseas. These agreements place limits on the use of nuclear technology and must be approved by Congress.

    These agreements have recently drawn scrutiny from Democratic and Republican lawmakers as Westinghouse bids for nuclear power contracts in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have long insisted on their right to enrich uranium, something the U.S. usually opposes. The bidding also comes as tension between Riyadh and Capitol Hill has escalated after Saudi agents killed Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in October. ……..  https://www.cnbc.com/2019/03/21/trump-aims-to-beat-china-and-russia-in-nuclear-energy-export-race.html

March 23, 2019 Posted by | marketing, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | 1 Comment

The sorry history of small nuclear power reactors

Many of the expenses associated with constructing and operating a reactor do not change in linear proportion to the power generated. For instance, a 400 MW reactor requires less than twice the quantity of concrete and steel to construct as a 200 MW reactor, and it can be operated with fewer than twice as many people.

In the face of this prevailing wisdom, proponents of small reactors pinned their hopes on yet another popular commercial principle: “economies of mass production.”

In 1968, the same year Elk River shut down, the last of the AEC’s small reactors was connected to the grid: the 50 MW La Crosse boiling water reactor.19 That plant operated for 18 years; by the end, its electricity cost three times as much as that from the coal plant next door, according to a 2012 news account about the disposal of the plant’s spent fuel. Dealing with the irradiated uranium-thorium fuel proved difficult too. Eventually, the spent fuel was shipped to a reprocessing plant in southern Italy.

Since then, not a single small reactor has been commissioned in the United States.

Without exception, small reactors cost too much for the little electricity they produced, the result of both their low output and their poor performance.

The forgotten history of small nuclear reactors  Nuclear Monitor Issue: #872-873 4775 07/03/2019  M.V. Ramana ‒ Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia

Article  April 2015 ‒ A tantalizing proposition has taken hold again in the nuclear industry: that small nuclear reactors have economic and other advantages over the standard-size ones being built today. The idea is that by reducing the substantial financial risk of a full-scale nuclear project, small reactors are the best option for kick-starting a much-discussed revival of nuclear power……

the technology remains in stasis or decline throughout the Americas and Europe. …..

A fundamental reason for this decline is indeed economic. Compared with other types of electricity generation, nuclear power is expensive. Continue reading

March 23, 2019 Posted by | Reference, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

NuScale includes Romania in its desperate search for taxpayer funding for Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

Romania to explore NuScale SMR deployment, WNN, 19 March 2019 An agreement between US small modular reactor (SMR) developer NuScale Power and Romanian energy company Societata Nationala Nuclearelectrica SA (SNN SA) to explore the use of SMRs in Romania has been welcomed by the US Department of Energy (DOE). The two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding covering the exchange of business and technical information on NuScale’s nuclear technology, with the goal of evaluating the development, licensing and construction of a NuScale SMR for a “potential similar long-term solution” in Romania……… NuScale has also signed MOUs to explore the deployment of its SMR technology in Canada and Jordan. http://world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Romania-to-explore-NuScale-SMR-deployment

March 21, 2019 Posted by | marketing, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | 1 Comment

USA pushing mini-nuclear reactors for military reasons

US pursuing mini-nuclear reactors to support military expeditionary capabilities,  Defence Connect, 20 Mar 19, The US military is conducting research into the development of rapidly deployable, container mounted nuclear reactors to support deployed American and allied forces, reducing threats to traditional supply and support convoys…….

The US has initiated a series of programs to develop, test and deploy alternatives to traditional petrol-based fuel systems, particularly for power generation and small-scale manufacturing of key materials like munitions at forward operating bases operating in close proximity to peer-competitors, limiting supply line and convoy exposure to enemy interdiction.  ….. Enter the development of very small modular nuclear reactors (vSMRs), designed to deliver between one and 10 megawatts (MW) for years without refuelling in a rapidly-deployable (road and/or air) package. Both the US Department of Defense and NASA have collaborated on the development of such reactors for use in military and space exploration contingencies.   ………The HOLOS reactor in particular has been designed to support deployed military requirements……..
https://www.defenceconnect.com.au/key-enablers/3737-us-pursuing-mini-nuclear-reactors-to-support-military-expeditionary-capabilities

March 21, 2019 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

The incessant statement that nuclear is “carbon free” is untrue, and the nuclear industry knows it

RealAccounting , 17 Mar 18  The incessant statement that nuclear is “carbon free” is untrue, and the nuclear industry knows it. The carbon footprint of a standard nuclear plant is in its construction and infrastructure. Many tons of concrete; google the carbon footprint of cement. Then the fossil fuel needed to dig up, crush, size, wash and transport aggregate for the concrete. We’ll ignore carbon costs of acquiring and pumping water for the concrete, at this point. Then steel. Many tons of steel; much of it specialized, using manufacturing processes that use 2-5x more heat (coal/coke) than plain mild steel. Mining. Smelting. Forming. Ore transport. Steel transport. All done with fossil fuels- not zero. Then there’s operating staff. A 2.2 MW coal plant has about 350 employees. Three Mile Island has 675. Numbers for maintaining/operating wind and solar plants are wildly variable, since so much depends on size and site at this point; but you understand that taking care of an installed wind or solar plant is a job for a very few technicians.

When “selling” a power plant to the public, the fact that it “provides” lots of jobs is seen as a positive. But in terms of carbon footprint and allocation of resources; the more humans needed to operate the plant; the bigger the carbon footprint, forever. This bit of resource accounting is always ignored, and is very far from trivial. Basically, in order to operate Three Mile Island, a small village of 700 people, + all the services they need, all the support- belongs to the carbon footprint of the nuclear plant. If those same people were elsewhere; their carbon costs would be attached to whatever enterprise they are involved in. Time to be serious about it; and honest. Only “Lifetime- total system” accounting – counts

 

Are these tiny, ‘inherently safe’ nuclear reactors the path to a carbon-free future?  by Andrew Maykuth, March 16, 2019 

 

Are these NuScale nuclear power stations REALLY tiny?

“……the industry sees the future not in building gargantuan plants, but in small modular reactors, or SMRs — factory-built units with fewer parts, designed to be installed underground with passive cooling systems that the industry says are “inherently safe.”

March 18, 2019 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment