UK urged to renegotiate Euratom accords to avoid ‘cliff edge’; Canada’s Bruce Power installs Rolls-Royce analytics

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

UK must prioritize post-Brexit nuclear agreements to avoid 'cliff edge': NIA

U.K. Brexit preparations must prioritize new international agreements in nuclear cooperation, the cross-border movement of nuclear material, goods and services, and research and development (R&D) funding "to avoid a cliff edge for the nuclear industry," the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) said in a report published May 3.

The U.K.'s Brexit plans include an exit from Euratom, the European body which establishes a common market in nuclear goods and services as well as international safety agreements and R&D projects.

NIA's new report calls for the creation of a joint industry and government working group to develop a post-Euratom international cooperation framework.

NIA's priority areas include:

• Replacement of a Voluntary Offer Agreement with the IAEA for a new U.K. safeguards regime.

• Replacement of Nuclear Co-operation Agreements (NCA) with key nuclear markets such as the Euratom Community, United States, Canada, Australia, Kazakhstan and South Korea.

• Validation of the U.K.’s current bilateral Nuclear Co-operation Agreements with Japan and other nuclear states.

• Clarification of the process for the movement of nuclear material, goods, people and services.

• Agreement of a new funding arrangement for the U.K.’s involvement in Fusion 4 Energy and wider European Union nuclear R&D program.

The NIA called on the government to seek an arrangement with the EU that allows existing arrangements to apply until agreements of new arrangements are concluded.

UK government urged to create SMR testing facility in North Wales

The U.K. Institution of Mechanical Engineers has called on the government to publish a development roadmap for small modular reactors and allow the existing nuclear site at Trawsfynydd in North Wales to be used as a testing location for demonstration SMR plants.

A new SMR testing facility at Trawsfynydd "should be constructed in cooperation with U.K. companies, and incorporating modules engineered and manufactured within the U.K. by the nation’s nuclear industry," the institution said in a set of recommendations for the government ahead of the U.K.’s exit from the European Union (EU).

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Source: Nuclear Industry Association (NIA).

Earlier this month, the U.K. House of Lords Science and Technology Committee called on the government to clarify whether the U.K. should be a designer, manufacturer and operator of nuclear generation technology, or an importer of nuclear power equipment, in the context of the U.K.'s ongoing 'Brexit' negotiations to leave the EU.

If the U.K. government decides to back the development of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), U.K. involvement should be a joint venture with a foreign partner due to the "limited size of the domestic market for SMRs and the potential for cost reduction," the Committee said in a report published May 1.

In March 2016, the U.K. government launched a competition for the most cost-competitive SMR design. The government consulted competition participants in the summer of 2016 and was expected to announce an industry roadmap in the fall.

U.K. and international SMR developers have been building relationships with U.K. suppliers for several years and developers are now waiting for government direction on deployment timelines.

"The Government’s failure to make a decision on its strategy for SMRs is a prime example of its inaction in the civil nuclear arena," the Lords’ report said.

"Not keeping to the stated timetable for the competition has had a negative effect on the nuclear sector in the U.K. and if the Government does not act soon the necessary high level of industrial interest will not be maintained," the report said.

NuScale to build second SMR control room in Washington State

NuScale is to build a second small modular reactor (SMR) control room simulator at its Richland, Washington office, to develop operating procedures and a training platform for operators starting with Energy Northwest, NuScale said in a statement May 9.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has begun the full certification review of NuScale's SMR design after judging the Design Certification Application (DCA), submitted January 12, as sufficiently complete, the NRC said March 15.

NuScale’s Integral Pressurized Water Reactor (IPWR) is based on light water reactor (LWR) technology and the first plant of 600 MW will be delivered to power cooperative Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) and operated by Energy Northwest, a regional power supplier. The plant will be situated on a site within the U.S. Department of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and is expected to be fully operational by 2026.

NuScale already operates a control room simulator in Corvallis, Oregon and the Richland facility will allow Energy Northwest personnel to become familiar with the NuScale plant design and operation, Carl Markert, NuScale Power’s vice president of Operations and Plant Services, said in a statement.

“Our system provides comprehensive monitoring and control of all plant systems for a 12-unit NuScale power plant in a single main control room,” Markert said.

The new simulator facility in Richland will also help regional proponents of SMR development "make the case for SMR technology with the public, members of the media and other lawmakers,” Sharon Brown, Washington State Senator for the eighth Legislative District, said.

Brown has supported several legislative measures aimed at making Washington more attractive to SMR manufacturers, including Senate Bill 5475, which provides business tax incentives for the manufacture of SMRs.

Bruce Power to install Rolls-Royce data analytics in efficiency drive

Canadian plant operator Bruce Power has entered into an agreement with Rolls-Royce to implement digital analytics tools to improve plant performance, the companies said in a joint statement May 11.

Bruce Power’s eight Canada deuterium uranium (Candu) reactors have a total capacity of 6.3 GW and supply more than 30% of Ontario's electricity from a site situated north-west of Toronto.

The new contract includes the implementation of Rolls-Royce T-104 digital technology which uses global nuclear plant data to improve operational efficiency. Forecasting models will "improve equipment reliability, reduce inventories and maintenance and materials costs, while improving operational and supply chain practices," the companies said.

"The end result is expected to be dramatic operating cost reductions as well as major reductions in capital tied up in parts inventories," the firms said.

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 ($48.3/MWh), up slightly from the previous contract price of CA$64.90/MWh.

The offtake contract allowed the company to announce a CA$13 billion 15-year refurbishment program, including digitization projects, to extend the lifespans of six plant units by 30 to 35 years.

"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," the company said.

Technology advancements in data analytics, remote sensors and robotics have opened up new opportunities to reduce operating costs and Bruce Power has launched a plan to implement the latest digital and robotic technology to increase operational efficiency, Sarah Shortreed, Bruce Power’s Chief Information Officer, told Nuclear Energy Insider in November 2016.

The plan will increase interdepartmental collaboration between engineering, IT and outage operations, she said. Diverse groups will develop and execute in parallel standards and best practice that fully exploit digitization.

“This is driving real business benefit as we avoid duplication of effort, and manage our talent through shared succession plans and skills transfer,” Shortreed said.

German federal government takes control of interim storage facilities

Germany's federal government has reached an agreement with Gesellschaft fur Nuklear-Service (GNS) to transfer its ownership of GNS interim storage facilities to the federal government, World Nuclear News reported May 9.

The agreement follows federal legislation, implemented in December 2016, which transfers responsibility for the immediate storage and final disposal of radioactive waste, to the government. In return, nuclear utilities must pay a total of 23.6 billion euros ($26.0 billion) into a state-owned decommissioning fund, which includes a 35.5% risk premium to avoid additional contributions.

The government will assume ownership of the GNS assets, including existing central interim storage facilities in Ahaus and Gorleben, from August 1. GNS will transfer the management of 12 on-site interim storage facilities at German nuclear power plants to the federal government from 2019, GNS said.

Germany’s federal government has ordered all nuclear power plants to close by 2022, and decommissioning activity will spike around this date, Jorg Viermann, Head of Sales Waste Management at Gesellschaft fur Nuklear-Service (GNS), told Nuclear Energy Insider in March.

“We will have up to ten plants to dismantle and decommission in parallel and that is a large opportunity, especially for companies from abroad because there is not enough capacity in Germany,” Viermann said.

Last month, the Baden-Wurttemberg environment ministry issued EnBW a permit to decommission and dismantle its 926 MW Philippsburg 1 Boiling Water Reactor (BWR).

In March, EnBW began decommissioning work on its 840 MW Neckarwestheim-1 plant after receiving a permit to dismantle the plant on February 3.

In the German state of Hesse, the regional government approved RWE's decommissioning plan for its shutdown 1.2 GW Biblis A and B reactors, allowing the dismantling of the units to start "immediately," environment minister Priska Hinz said in a statement March 31.

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