China loads fuel at world's first AP1000 reactor; Bruce Power awards CA$914mn of supply contracts

Our pick of the latest nuclear power news you need to know.

China starts to load fuel at Sanmen Unit 1 AP1000 reactor

China's Sanmen Unit 1 has become the first AP1000 nuclear power reactor to commence initial fuel loading after the plant received the fuel load permit from China’s National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA), technology supplier Westinghouse, China State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC) and CNNC Sanmen Nuclear Power Company Limited (SMNPC), said April 25.

"Sanmen Unit 1 has successfully completed all the necessary functional tests as well as technical, safety and Chinese regulatory review," Westinghouse said in a statement.

"The fuel load process will be followed by initial criticality, initial synchronization to the electrical grid, and conservative, step by step, power ascension testing, until all testing is safely and successfully completed at 100% power," it said.

Westinghouse won the contract build two units of AP1000 reactors in Sanmen, Zhejiang Province and two units in Haiyang, Shandong Province back in 2007.

U.S. AP1000 projects have suffered severe delays and cost overruns. The Vogtle 3 & 4 AP1000 reactors in Georgia are the only new nuclear reactors currently under construction in the U.S., following the halting of the V.C. Summer 2 & 3 project in South Carolina in July 2017. Vogtle 3 is currently expected online in November 2021, followed by Vogtle 4 in November 2022.

Spiralling costs at the U.S. projects prompted Westinghouse to file for bankruptcy protection in March 2017.

In January 2018, Westinghouse owner Toshiba agreed to sell Westinghouse to investment group Brookfield Business Partners for a price of $4.6 billion.

Canada's Bruce Power awards CA$914 million of supply contracts

Bruce Power has awarded CA$914 million ($712.7 million) of manufacturing contracts for the Major Component Replacement (MCR) project at six of its reactors in Ontario. The contracts form part of a CA$13 billion 15-year refurbishment program, including digitization projects, to extend the lifespans of six plant units by 30 to 35 years.

Bruce Power operates eight Canada deuterium uranium (Candu) reactors for a total capacity of 6.3 GW at a site situated north-west of Toronto.

The new agreements include a CA$642 million contract with BWXT Canada for the manufacturing of 32 steam generators and a CA$144 million contract with Laker Energy Products for end fittings, liners and flow elements.

Bruce Power also signed a CA$62 million contract with Cameco Fuel Manufacturing for calandria tubes and annulus spacers for all six reactors and CA$66 million contract with Nu-Tech Precision Metals to produce zirconium alloy pressure tubes for Units 6 and 3. All of the manufacturing will take place in Ontario.

In December 2015, Bruce Power signed an amended long-term nuclear Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Ontario's Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) at a price of CA$65.73/MWh, up slightly from the previous contract price of CA$64.90/MWh. The offtake contract allowed the company to announce the CA$13 billion MCR program.

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

NuScale completes Phase 1 Review of design license application

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has completed the Phase 1 Review for NuScale's IPWR SMR reactor, part of the design certification application (DCA) for licence approval, NuScale said in a statement April 30. Phase 1 involves the review of the Preliminary Safety Evaluation Report (SER) and requests for additional information.

The IPWR is based on light water reactor (LWR) technology. NuScale filed the full DCA to the NRC in January 2017, becoming the first SMR developer to file a full design licence application to the U.S. regulator. NRC accepted the DCA for review in March 2017, setting out a 46-month schedule towards approval by early 2021. This would be the fastest ever licensing of a U.S. commercial reactor.

            NRC's application review schedule for NuScale design
                                                        (Click image to enlarge)

Source: NRC, April 2018.

The NRC has thus far spent 115,000 hours reviewing NuScale's DCA and has issued fewer requests for additional information than earlier large-scale reactor applications, the developer said in its latest statement.

NuScale's SMR design license review remains "on or ahead of schedule" and the developer plans to select its preferred supplier group for the module fabrication by this summer, Jack Bailey, NuScale's Senior Vice President, Business Development, said at the 2018 International SMR and Advanced Reactor conference on March 27.

NuScale plans to deliver its first 600 MW commercial reactor to Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) by around 2026.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded NuScale a further $40 million in cost-sharing financial assistance under its “U.S. Industry Opportunities for Advanced Nuclear Technology Development” program, NuScale said April 30.

Canada's CNL calls on SMR developers to submit proposals

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) has invited small modular reactor (SMR) developers to submit proposals for an SMR demonstration plant at a CNL-managed site.

CNL has designated SMR technology as a research priority and aims to build a demonstration SMR plant on site by 2026.

CNL's invitation to developers represents the start of the laboratories' SMR review process and follows on from its Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEOI) on SMRs, issued in 2017. CNL received 19 expressions of interest for a prototype or demonstration reactor at a CNL site and a further three developers propose to move straight to commercial deployment in Canada, CNL said in a report published in October.

The review process will first involve a prequalification stage, which will assess SMR proposals against preliminary criteria, followed by a due diligence stage which will require a full assessment of funding and project costs. The third phase would be a negotiation of land arrangements and other contracts with a view to signing a site disposition agreement with the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), owner of the CNL-managed sites. The fourth and final stage would consist of licensing and construction, testing and commissioning.

“This invitation process was specifically designed by CNL to challenge SMR project proponents to address various issues in their planning, and to provide CNL and AECL with the necessary information to make informed decisions,” Richard Sexton, President and CEO of AECL, said.

Nuclear Energy Insider