Dow, X-Energy reach accord on reactor deployment; France seeks nuclear allies

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X-Energ's XE-100 Reactor (Source: X-Energy)

Materials science company Dow and advanced reactor developer X-Energy Reactor Company have reached an accord to demonstrate the Xe-100 plant at one of Dow’s U.S. Gulf Coast sites, the company said in a statement.

The joint development agreement (JDA) will demonstrate the first grid-scale advanced nuclear reactor for an industrial site in North America, they said.

The companies have agreed to install the high-temperature gas-cooled Xe-100 reactor (HTGR) at the Gulf site within this decade, providing the site with safe, reliable, low-carbon power and steam.

The JDA includes up to $50 million in engineering work, up to half of which is eligible for funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) and the other half will be covered by Dow.

The final site selection is expected to be finalized in 2023 subject to the DOE’s review and approval, they said, adding that the companies have agreed to develop a framework to jointly license and utilize the technology and learnings from the project which would enable other industrial customers to utilize the Xe-100.

“X-energy’s collaboration with Dow brings added significance because of the immense opportunity to further reduce emissions in the energy-intensive industrial sector,” said X-energy CEO J. Clay Sell.

“From the beginning to the end of the supply chain, our technology can supply both power and heat to businesses in most sectors of the economy to help limit their carbon footprint. We are thrilled to work with Dow to deliver a successful project and illustrate the broad, highly flexible applications of X-energy’s proprietary nuclear energy technology.”

France seeks nuclear allies

France is planning to meet with 12 other European Union countries in an effort to build an alliance of pro-nuclear states willing to advocate for the nuclear power in EU energy policies, Reuters reported citing a French official.

Some 70% of France’s electricity is generated from nuclear power and the country has faced resistance to its pro-nuclear position from other EU countries such as Germany and Spain which have heavily promoted renewables and have closed down existing, fully-functioning nuclear plants.

The meeting will focus on the contribution of nuclear energy to climate change goals and energy security and has been convened by French energy minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher to take place on the sidelines of an EU energy minister summit in Stockholm in early March, Reuters said.

The countries said to attend include Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Sweden, Italy, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Croatia, the Netherlands, and Finland, as well as the European Commission.

The inclusion of nuclear power in a clean energy EU taxonomy and as part of clean hydrogen production plans have prompted frequent disagreements and delayed negotiations on the EU’s climate policies.

ČEZ flags two sites for SMRs

Czech state-run utility ČEZ has identified two preferred sites for the second and third small modular reactors following the first SMR project at the Temelín Nuclear Power plant site, the company said in a statement.

The sites are both active coal-fired power plants that are being transformed into emission-free sites, the company said.

The ČEZ Group has said it will prepare the construction of SMRs with a total capacity of over 1,000 MW after 2040 as part of Vision 2030 though says SMRs may be built at these sites in the second half of the 2030s.

“Small modular reactors are not a substitute for large nuclear units, but a complement to the energy mix of the Czech Republic as a suitable replacement for coal-fired power plants and large thermal power plants,” ČEZ Chief Renewables Officer Tomáš Pleskač said.

UK awards 18 fusion contracts

The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) has awarded £3.1 million ($3.6 million) in contracts to 18 organizations to demonstrate how their technology and proposed solutions can help make fusion energy a commercial reality, the government agency said in a statement.

The contracts include feasibility studies worth £50,000 to £200,000 and are funded by the UKAEA’s ‘Fusion Industry Program’ and awarded through the UK Government platform ‘Small Business Research Initiative’.

The ‘Fusion Industry Program’, launched in 2021, was allocated £42.1 million as part of the government’s £484 million support package for UK research announced in 2022.

The projects aim to look at challenges of the commercialization of fusion energy, including novel fusion materials, manufacturing techniques, and innovative heating and cooling systems, it said.

Significant advances have been seen over the last year that demonstrate the potential for fusion energy to be a safe, low-carbon, and sustainable part of the world’s future energy supply, the UKAEA’s Chief Technology Office Tim Bestwick said.

“However, there are a number of significant technical challenges to address for fusion energy to realize its potential. The Fusion Industry Program is helping engage organizations and industrial partners to stimulate innovation and address these important challenges,” Bestwick said.

By Reuters Events Nuclear