Tennessee utility files SMR permit to NRC; Texas waste operator submits storage application

Nuclear power news you need to know.

Tennessee utility files SMR site application

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has submitted its Early Site Permit Application (ESPA) to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to assess the potential for construction and operation of Small Modular Reactors at TVA's Clinch River site near Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

The application positions TVA as an industry leader for potential development of Small Modular Reactor (SMR) technology, the authority said May 13.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will use the application to review site safety and environmental and emergency preparedness requirements for potential construction.

The 1,200-acre Clinch River site is situated close to DOE's Oak Ridge National laboratory.

The DOE has been a strong supporter of SMR development at Clinch River and is funding 50% of site development costs, including the ESPA costs.

To build the application, TVA used information from the LWR designs by BWXT mPower, Holtec, NuScale and Westinghouse. Following the ESPA, TVA would take a specific SMR design and assess it against the parameters used in the application. Provided the design falls within the parameters, the early site permit can then be used for the combined build and operate license application (COLA).

“We’re still several years away from any potential construction decision,” Dan Stout, TVA's Senior Manager, SMR Technology, said.

Earlier this month TVA announced that it would sell its Bellefonte Nuclear Plant development property in northern Alabama, which it had been preserving as an option for large-scale nuclear plant build.

TVA's board has decided to sell the Bellefonte property as its latest Integrated Resource Plan showed that large-scale power generation sources will not be needed for at least 20 years, TVA said May 5.

UK think tank calls for swift advanced reactor assessments

U.K. nuclear regulators should assess at least three advanced reactor designs by the early 2020s and at least one should be a fourth generation design, Weinberg Next Nuclear, a pro-nuclear think tank, said.

The U.K. government should support Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) as they will be cheaper to construct than larger reactors since they can be made on production lines and then transported to site, the think tank said in its "Next Steps for Nuclear Innovation in the U.K." report, published April 27.

Fourth generation reactors should be included as they could re-use spent nuclear fuel and help reduce the U.K.'s plutonium stockpile, it said.

"Generation IV reactors may also be considerably cheaper than existing nuclear designs due to less complex designs – though this will not be known until one has been constructed," the think tank noted.

The U.K. government has pledged to provide 250 million pounds ($359.3 million) to nuclear R&D over the next 5 years and in March it launched a 30 million pound competition to identify the most cost efficient SMR design.

The government should expand staff numbers at the Office for Nuclear Regulation since a lack of regulatory capacity is currently a major barrier to nuclear innovation in the U.K., Weinberg Next Nuclear said.

U.K. nuclear regulators can work closely with Canadian and U.S. counterparts "with the aim of developing a regulatory approval mechanism that would cover all three countries," it said.

Texas waste operator files license application for interim storage

Dallas-based Waste Control Specialists (WCS) has filed an application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to build and manage a Consolidated Interim Storage Facility (CISF) for used nuclear fuel in Andrews, West Texas.

“What we are proposing is an initial 40-year storage license for 40,000 metric tons of heavy metal [MTHM] to be built in eight phases. Each of the eight storage systems will be able to accommodate 5,000 MTHM, for an eventual capacity of 40,000 MTHM. Our proposal includes opportunities for 20-year renewals after the initial license period,” WCS President and CEO Rod Baltzer said in a statement published April 29.

The application is being led by WCS with partners Areva and NAC International and comes after a year of pre-application meetings with NRC. WCS aims to start up the facility in 2020.

WCS already operates a facility on its 14,000 acre site in Andrews, for disposal of Class A, B and C Low-level Waste and Mixed Low-level Waste.

Nuclear behind renewables, gas in global growth forecast

Nuclear power will be the third fastest-growing electricity generation source between 2012 and 2040, behind renewables and gas-fired generation, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in its International energy Outlook 2016 report published May 11.

Global nuclear power generation is forecast to increase by 2.4% per year, from 2,345 TWh in 2012 to 4,501 TWh in 2040.

In comparison, renewable generation is forecast to rise by 2.9% per year and gas-fired generation will rise by 2.7% per year, EIA said.

The majority of nuclear growth will come in China and total OECD nuclear growth is forecast at just 0.7% per year, to 2,246 TWh in 2040.

U.S. nuclear growth is forecast at 0.3% per year to 833 TWh while Canadian nuclear output is forecast to drop by 1.3% per year to 62 TWh, EIA said.

Nuclear output in OECD Europe countries is forecast to edge up by 0.2% to 896 TWh in 2040.

Global electricity generation will increase from around 21,600 TWh in 2012 to 36,500 TWh in 2040, EIA said.