Sweden announces nuclear expansion; AtkinsRéalis presents new CANDU reactor

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The Ringhals nuclear power station on the southwest coast of Sweden. (Source: Reuters/TT News Agency)

The Swedish government has presented a roadmap for the expansion of its nuclear industry which will include two new, large reactors by 2035, the Energy Minister Ebba Busch said.

The government is planning a “massive build out” of new nuclear power by 2045, Busch said.

By 2045, Sweden plans to build the equivalent of 10 new reactors, including large and small modular reactors (SMR), according to the plan.

“It’s decisive for the green transition, for Swedish jobs, and at heart for the welfare of our citizens,” Busch told reporters in November.

The roadmap includes calls for a government appointed nuclear power coordinator, the clarification of the state’s financial responsibility, and the investigation of a risk-sharing and financing model and new nuclear capacity of at least 2,500 MW online by 2035 at the latest.

The government had proposed 400 billion crowns ($38.3 billion) in loan guarantees for the nuclear sector, though later assessed that this would be insufficient to stimulate the industry.

"Guarantees are very important, but that won't be enough," said Finance Minister Elisabeth Svantesson. "For this type of infrastructure, it is going to require the state to take part and share the risk."

AtkinsRéalis presents new CANDU reactor

Canadian professional services group presented its latest CANDU reactor design, the CANDU MONARK reactor, at the World Nuclear Exhibition in Paris at the end of November, noting that the reactor was currently in its definition phase.

Leveraging CANDU technology’s tested and reliable design features, the reactor will have the highest output on any CANDU reactor at 1,000 MW capacity, the company said.

The company, initially with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), has been at the forefront of innovation for over 70 years, it said.

“We are the current original equipment manufacturer and steward of CANDU technology; these modern large-scale reactors will play a critical role in producing the quantum of additional electricity supply that’s required to power the energy transition, providing energy security and reliable, clean power for millions of people,” President and CEO of AtkinsRéalis Ian L. Edwards said.

An additional 17,800 MW of nuclear capacity needs to be added to the Canadian grid by 2050, according to the Independent Electricity System Operator’s ‘Pathways to Decarbonization 2022 Report’.

NEA launches SMR initiative

The OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) has launched an initiative to pull together a network of industry leaders, government officials, researchers, and experts to establish solutions-orientated platform to promote SMRs, the NEA said at a COP28 Atoms for Net Zero event.

The ‘Accelerating SMRs for Net Zero’ initiative will establish a practical platform with a defined plan of work for collaboration, and knowledge exchange and will focus on pragmatic tools, economic analyses, and policy recommendations to help inform policy and investment decisions by governments, industry, and the financial sector, it said.

Significant international co-operation will be required to lay the groundwork for substantive progress in six core areas: licensing readiness, financing, supply chain, workforce development, fuel availability, and spent fuel management.  

Strategic collaboration in these areas can help lower both costs and barriers to SMR deployment, the NEA said.

“SMRs are leading a new wave of nuclear technology that is ready to provide clean energy,” NEA director general William D. Magwood IV said.

“The success of these new technologies depends on governments and the private sector co-operating to face remaining challenges.”

Framatome, USNC form jv on fuel

French nuclear reactor company Framatome and the U.S. nuclear energy group Ultra Safe Nuclear Company (USNC) have agreed to form a joint venture to provide nuclear fuel for the USNC’s Micro-Modular Reactor and other advanced reactor designs, the companies said in a statement.

Framatome will leverage it proven infrastructure and mature programs to ensure the USNC’s processes are efficiently deployed an operating, while the USNC will bring technical and manufacturing capabilities and expertise, the companies said.

The two companies will deliver finished TRISO-based fuel products for the USNC’s own fleet and others in the advanced reactor market, they said.

“Combining our unmatched manufacturing expertise and experience in regulatory compliance, and USNC’s advanced reactor designs, we are ready to support rapid expansion of fourth-generation nuclear power to meet the projected growth and demand for safe, reliable, clean energy in the U.S. and global markets,” the CEO of Framatome Bernard Fontana said.  

Framatome’s manufacturing and regulatory licensing will be amended to incorporate USNC’s codified process similar to USNC’s operating Pilot Fuel Manufacturing Facility (PFM) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Framatome aims to submit the amendment in the summer of 2024 to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and has conducted the pre-licensing briefing with the NRC’s personnel in advance of the submittal.

The USNC’s PFM is the only private sector capability in the Western Hemisphere currently manufacturing TRISO-based nuclear fuels.

By Reuters Events Nuclear