Floating Russian nuclear plant fully commissioned; Indian Point unit shuts down

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

The Akademik Lomonosov (Source: ROSATOM)

ROSATOM’s floating nuclear power plant (FNPP) “Akademik Lomonosov” – a first-of-a kind floating power unit with power capacity of 70 MW and heat capacity of 50 Gcal/h - has been fully commissioned in the Russian Far East, ROSATOM said in statement May 22.

“Today we can consider the floating nuclear power plant construction project successfully completed. We finished our main task for this year - fully commissioned the FNPP in Pevek, Chukotka region. Today, it officially becomes the 11th nuclear power plant in Russia and the northernmost one in the world,” said Andrei Petrov Director of Rosenergoatom, ROSATOM’s electric energy division and the subsidiary responsible for the FNPP project implementation.

Russia’s technical, nuclear and environmental watchdog Rostechnadzor awarded the project a “statement of conformity” verifying the FNPP was built in accordance with all project documentation requirements and approval from Rosprirodnadzor, the executive authority controlling and supervising activities in the field of environmental management. 

The plant, which has a service life of 40 years and started providing electricity to the isolated grid of Chaun-Bilibino energy center of Chukotka on December 19, 2019, is 140 meters long, 30 meters wide and has a displacement of 21,500 tons. 

Indian Point Unit 2 shuts down permanently 

Unit 2 of Entergy Corp.s’ Indian Point reactor, located just 60 kilometres from midtown Manhattan, has been closed down permanently after more than 45 years of operation, Entergy said in a statement in early May. 

The shutdown of both the plant’s units – Unit 1 is scheduled to be permanently closed April 30, 2021 – was announced in 2017 after a settlement agreement with the state of New York due, among other things, to sustained low current and projected wholesale energy prices that reduced revenues.

Unit 2 began commercial operations on August 1, 1974 and was purchased by Entergy in 2001.

Entergy announced the proposed post-shutdown sale of the subsidiaries that own the units at the reactor to a Holtec International subsidiary. Holtec plans to initiate decommissioning at Indian Point promptly following regulatory approvals and transaction close in 2021. 

A coalition of individuals and environmental groups, The Climate Coalition, in April called on the state’s governor to suspend the closure of the first of plant’s two reactors saying that to do so “adds unnecessarily to New York City’s vulnerability.”

US Department of Energy-funded study says small reactors feasible in Puerto Rico

Daily electricity demands on the unincorporated U.S. territory of Puerto Rico require steady baseload plants, which could include small nuclear power reactors, to compliment intermittent renewable sources such as solar and wind, a DOE-funded study by The Nuclear Alternative Project said mid-May. 

Old equipment at aging fossil-fueled power plants, high daily and seasonal power demands and plant damage from hurricanes and earthquakes means the island’s outage rates are 12 times higher than the U.S. average, the paper, “Preliminary Feasibility Study for Small Modular Reactors and Microreactors for Puerto Rico” notes.

“Advanced nuclear reactors provide a combination of reduced electricity costs, zero-emission baseload electricity and minimal dependency on fuel imports that can lead to a strong degree of energy security and reliability much needed for a robust manufacturing and industrial sector in Puerto Rico,” the report said. 

Nuclear reactors would face stricter design regulation against natural disasters than other generation assets being considered to replace Puerto Rico’s aging infrastructure, could promote smaller and more distributed generation plants for the island’s decentralized grid and are cost competitive with natural gas generation, it says.

Puerto Rico saw extensive damage and power outages in the wake of Hurricane Maria in 2017 and its electricity power authority PREPA estimates the retirement of 13 of its generating plants with a combined capacity of 3,600 MW and representing 74% of PREPA’s generation fleet over the next 10 years. 

RAOS Project specialists conducts scheduled inspection of NPP by Skype

More than 30 RAOS Project specialists were directly involved in a virtual inspection of the Hanhikivi-1 nuclear power plant via the video call application Skype, the first time in history a foreign vendor inspection was conducted remotely, ROSATOM said late April. 

The routine inspection could not be held under normal conditions due to quarantine and travel restrictions in Russia and Finland surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The three-day Finnish regulator STUK inspection included inspectors from engineering, configuration, requirements management, quality management, licensing and the project management department, ROSATOM said. 

RAOS Project Oy, a subsidiary of REIN JSC (part of ROSATOM), is the general supplier of the Hanhikivi-1 plant and, under the EPC contract, must supply a licensed, functional and operational NPP on a turnkey basis.

The project includes the construction of a single unit nuclear power plant which includes a Russian-designed VVER-1200 Generation III+ reactor with a capacity of 1,200 MW.

Three out of the existing five requirements were closed following the inspection, ROSATOM said, adding that the RAOS Project will continue working on the two regulatory requirements to remaining open. 

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