Areva to supply SMR fuel; US’ Vogtle gains permit; China eyes 110 reactors

Nuclear power news you need to know.

Areva to supply SMR fuel assemblies to NuScale 

France's Areva has signed a contract with US developer NuScale to manufacture fuel assemblies for its Small Modular Reactor (SMR) technology.

Areva will supply the initial cores for the reactors as well as subsequent reloads, NuScale said in a statement December 2.

Areva’s HTP advanced pressurized water reactor fuel has been specifically designed for use in the SMRs.

Mechanical and thermal hydraulic testing of these new fuel assemblies is underway as part of NuScale’s design certification application, which is to be submitted to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in late 2016.

NuScale is aiming to build its first SMR plant in the US by 2023, and believes it could build its first UK plant by the mid-2020s.

UK backs SMR development

The UK government is to invest at least GBP250 million ($377 million) in nuclear Research and Development in the next five years and will launch in early 2016 a competition to identify the best value Small Modular Reactor (SMR) design.

The funding, announced November 25 in the Autumn Spending Review, is a significant boost to the advanced nuclear industry and comes as global SMR developers move towards cooperation with UK firms and the government to develop the first commercial reactors.

The government funding will create "opportunities for the North’s centers of nuclear excellence in Sheffield City Region, Greater Manchester and Cumbria, as well as the nuclear research base across the UK," the Review said.

The funds will be in addition to the GBP25 million already pledged by the UK government towards a Joint Research and Innovation Centre with China, to be based in the North West of England.

US' Vogtle project completes major permitting

The 2.4 GW Georgia Power-led Vogtle power plant project has been issued the last major permit required for the facility.

The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), or water discharge, permit was issued by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, Georgia Power said in a statement November 20.

Plant Vogtle, the project company, is 45.7% owned by Georgia Power, while Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities hold smaller stakes.

The NPDES permit authorizes the discharge of clean, recirculated water used in power production back into the Savannah River and sets guidelines for monitoring and reporting.

The two new 1.2 GW units will use water in a similar way as the existing Vogtle units, using cooling towers to greatly reduce water usage. Start-up of commercial operations is currently scheduled for 2019.

Bruce Power signs offtake contract to fund lifespan extensions

Ontario's Bruce Power has signed an amended long-term agreement with Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) to secure the entire output from the 6.3 GW Bruce Power nuclear plant complex.

The agreement will fund a multi-year investment in maintenance required to extend the lifespans of six plant units by 30 to 35 years, Bruce Power said in a statement.

From January 1, Bruce Power will receive a single price of $65.73/MWh for all output from the site. This compares to the current price of $64.90/MWh.
The average residential electricity price in Ontario in January-September 2015 was $98.90 MW/h.

"It is estimated the six refurbishments in the agreement will cost $8 billion ($2014), in addition to $5 billion ($2014) in a range of other life-extension activities from 2016-53," the operator said in its statement.

"In the short-term, between 2016 and 2020, the company will be investing approximately $2.3 billion ($2014) as part of this plan. This is incremental to the company’s ongoing financial investments to sustain eight units of operation," the company said.

China targets 110 reactors online by 2030

China is aiming to have 110 operational nuclear reactors by 2030 for a capacity of 88 GW, China Daily newspaper reported December 3.

The figures were given by Power Construction Corp of China and are based on estimates from China's draft 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) for the power industry, China Daily said.

"According to the draft plan, China will set aside 500 billion yuan ($78 billion) for setting up nuclear power plants using its homegrown nuclear technologies and add six to eight nuclear reactors every year from 2016 for the next five years," the paper said.

The draft Five-Year Plan will be reviewed during next year's legislative and political advisory sessions, it said.