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Cold Winds May Howl, Nuclear Energy Abides
The uptick in public interest in the weather would seem to focus attention on the potential impacts of climate change – if you think outlandishly big storms are a symptom of it, that is – but what remains of primary importance is that people keep the heat and lights on. Obviously, the big Nor’easter now bearing down on New York, Boston and all the way to Philadelphia is the news of the day, so we thought we’d check in on the 24 reactors that cover the region. The news is good – 23 are operating at 100 percent capacity and the 24th is at 88 percent. Let’s let the coal and natural gas folks tout their own capacity factor, but I’ll wager this tops them by a margin. Bragging rights doesn’t trump the need for people to keep safe, of course, but a reliable system of power generators enhances that effort considerably. We’ll check in tomorrow and see how things are going as (and if) the storm really wallops the region. --- Tropical storms and hurricanes are named by t

Licensing process to catapult US-SMR export potential
Précis:  The US small medium sized reactor (SMR) market is inching towards becoming a fully fledged part of the nuclear industry, the question is how can all this progress spur an SMR export market for US companies? Design and certification applications for SMRs are now ready to be reviewed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as more ideas are being funnelled through from the drawing board, to being potentially considered for licensing. Barack Obama’s administration has continued to voice its support for SMRs, as part of the 2015 fiscal budget, plans for public-private programmes to develop small reactors were included. Image:  Primary Event:  5th Annual Small Modular Reactors Summit Premium`:  No Image

Saligny on track for licence in 2016
Précis:  Saligny is due to open for business from 2020, ahead of the possible decommissioning of Cernavoda’s first reactor by around 2026. The initial investment will allow for the creation of eight far-underground, concrete-covered storage modules at the facility. Romanian decommissioning plans look set to scale up a notch or two as the country prepares to licence a new waste disposal site in 2016. The Saligny site, 169 km east of Bucharest, will initially cost around €40m, according to the country’s National Agency for Radioactive Waste (Agenţia Nucleară şi pentru Deşeuri Radioactive or ANDR in Romanian). Image:  Primary Event:  6th Annual Nuclear Decommissioning Conference Europe Premium`:  No

The dome for the containment of Russia's Rostov-4 nuclear unit was lifted into place and installed on 12 January
The dome weighs about 200 tonnes and is 37 metres in diameter. The reactor pressure vessel for the VVER-1000/V320 unit is expected to arrive on site later this year, with first criticality scheduled for 2017, Rosatom said.World Nuclear News

HEU removal from Kazakh reactor
International cooperation has seen 36 kg of high-enriched uranium removed from a scientific institute in Kazakhstan and returned to Russia.  The material had been used to fuel the WWR-K research reactor at the Institute of Nuclear Physics (INP) at Alatau, near Almaty. The unit is a tank-type, light water moderated and cooled multipurpose research reactor with a nominal power of 6 MWt.Two air shipments were used in the removal operation, which was the result of cooperation between Kazakhstan, Russia, the USA and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The work was announced by the US National Nuclear Security Administration on 7 January.It comes after a similar operation in late September last year which removed 10.2 kg of the same kind of material, which could potentially be used to manufacture nuclear weapons.A further 50 kg of high-enriched uranium remains in Kazakhstan and the same team will cooperate to remove this "over the next several years" said the NNSA, "thereby e

Russian nuclear power plants produced 180.5 terawatt hours of electricity last year
Russian nuclear power plants produced 180.5 terawatt hours of electricity last year, a new record, Rosenergoatom said today. Output surpassed the federal target of 168.3 TWh on 11 December and Rosatom's goal of 175 TWh on 21-22 December. The most important achievement in 2014 was the connection to the grid of unit 3 of the Rostov nuclear power plant, on 27 December, Rosenergoatom said.World Nuclear News

UK study plants seed for SMR roll-out
Précis:  The case for using small modular reactors in Britain may have recently been underscored by the media attention paid to an ex-minister’s anti-renewable climate-change proposal. But a NNL study illustrates how SMRs could fill a need not met by conventional nuclear power plants. A headline-grabbing climate-change plan from the UK’s former environment secretary, Owen Paterson, heightened the stakes at the time prior to an upcoming study on small modular reactors (SMRs). Paterson, who was ousted from government in a Cabinet reshuffle July, used his first major public address since his sacking to call for the UK to ditch its current renewable energy plans in favour of SMRs “by the dozen,” according to the Financial Times. “This is a well-established technology,” Paterson said. Image:  Primary Event: 

Swedish repository plans inch forward, yet years beyond industry counterparts
Précis:  An application to extend the Forsmark short-lived radioactive waste final repository was among developments making December a busy month for Swedish nuclear. If you consider the laid-back progress of Sweden’s nuclear market then having three big stories in a month made December a hectic time for decommissioning. And the first announcement of the month, regarding the delivery of a new transport vessel for the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company (Svensk Kärnbränslehantering AB or SKB), was hardly the biggest of the trio. Image:  Primary Event:  6th Annual Nuclear Decommissioning Conference Europe Premium`:  No Image Caption:  Storage

A Northwest Passage to Nuclear Energy
Interesting doings in Washington state: The bills by Republican Sen. Sharon Brown go to a public hearing before the Senate Environment, Energy & Telecommunications Committee on Tuesday. Four committee members also belong to a House-Senate task force studying whether nuclear power should be expanded in Washington. Not only are there four members of the committee but three bills under consideration. One of Brown's bills calls for providing a sales tax exemption for small modular reactors that some Tri-Cities interests hope to eventually build and ship elsewhere. Another of Brown's bills would add nuclear power to the list of alternative power sources that certain utilities are required to use to meet state targets for having "green" energy sources as part of their electrical-generation mix. Brown's third bill would create a nuclear energy education program that would include classroom sessions and science teachers' workshops on teaching nuclear science to ei

Russia and Armenia agree to unit 2 life extension
Russia and Armenia have signed an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in extending the operating life of unit 2 of Armenia's sole nuclear power plant.The VVER-440 unit - which operates at Metsamor, 30 km from the capital Yerevan - is due to be withdrawn from service in September 2016.The agreement was signed on 20 December by Rosatom director general Sergey Kirienko and Armenia's energy minister Yervand Zakharyan, Rosatom said yesterday. It will lead to the issuance of a licence to extend the service life of the unit by ten years, until September 2026.Rosatom specialists have conducted a preliminary examination of the unit and will produce a comprehensive report before the end of the first quarter of 2015, Rosatom said. Following that report, a training program will ensue. An application for the life extension licence will follow, in September 2016. Upgrade work at the unit is expected to be completed by 2019.The work is to be funded by a Russian state loan.Two model V-230 react

The State of the Union: What Nuclear Wonks Will Be Looking For
Alex FlintThe following post was submitted by Alex Flint, NEI's Senior Vice President of Governmental Affairs.It’s an age-old parlor game in Washington, hoping for a shout-out in the State of the Union and then acting all nonchalant if you get one, or like the State of the Union doesn't matter if you don’t.President Obama has devoted some nice lines to nuclear energy in previous States of the Union. The best line (from my point of view, of course) was in 2010 when he said:But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. And that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country.I’m delighted to report that five nuclear reactors are under construction today. Peak employment at each of those during construction will be about 3,500 people and, when they are completed (the first one is scheduled to come on line later this year), each will provide 400-700 permanent jobs.Of course, it wo

Nuclear Matters to Carol Browner in Chicago
Uh-oh: Not too long ago Carol Browner would have sided with the activists clad in white hazmat suits protesting nuclear power outside the City Club's lunch Tuesday in downtown Chicago. Or maybe not so uh-oh: "I can't believe what I believe about climate change, about the dangers of carbon pollution and take off the table a carbon-free form of power," said Browner... That’s an evolution that a lot of environmentalists have experienced in the last decade, as shown in the movie Pandora’s Promise. Browner speaks with great authority, as she is the former EPA administrator under President Clinton and director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy under President Obama. The Chicago Tribune turns over a lot of the article to anti-nuclear activists, so Browner does not get her full say. So is there a fuller way to hear Browner’s views on nuclear energy? Happily, local radio station WBEZ interviewed her and, as expected, she is bullish on nucle

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