Virginia nuclear operator applies for 80-year lifespans; Hitachi signs up three engineering groups for UK new build

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

Dominion is the third U.S. nuclear plant owner to apply for 80 years of operations, following Florida Power and Light and Exelon. (Image credit: NRC)

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Dominion applies for 80 year operations at Surry reactors in Virginia

Dominion Energy has submitted a subsequent license renewal application (SLRA) to operate its 840 MW Surry 1 and 2 nuclear units in Virginia until 2052 and 2053, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said October 26.

Dominion is now the third U.S. nuclear operator to apply for an 80-year operating licence. Faced with intense power market competition, U.S. nuclear plant owners are looking to maximize returns on operational assets.

In July, Exelon Generation submitted an SLRA for 80-year operations of its 1.3 GW Peach Bottom 2 and 3 boiling water reactors (BWRs) in Pennsylvania. In January, Florida Power & Light (FPL) submitted the nuclear industry's first-ever SLRA, for two 800 MW pressurized water reactors (PWRs) at its Turkey Point nuclear facility. The NRC plans to issue a decision on the Turkey Point SLRA in 2020.

Dominion Energy also plans to apply for an 80-year operating licence for its 950 MW North Anna 1 and 2 reactors in 2021, according to the NRC.

Operators and nuclear industry groups have been working with government agencies to prepare the ground for license extensions.

Site-specific and industry-level research into key metals materials and reactor systems are supporting the case for longer operations, industry participants told Nuclear Energy Insider.


SMR developer Terrestrial advances to phase 2 pre-licensing in Canada

Terrestrial Energy has become the first SMR developer to enter phase 2 of Canada's pre-licensing vendor design review, the company announced October 16.

Canada's SMR development program is advancing at a rapid rate, as developers respond to ambitious research initiatives, supportive regulatory regimes and a wide variety of deployment opportunities.

To date, 10 SMR developers have applied to the CNSC for pre-licensing engagement.

In parallel, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) has designated SMR technology as a research priority and aims to build a demonstration SMR plant on site by 2026.

                            Canada's current pre-licensing reviews

                                                         (Click image to enlarge)

Source: Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, October 2018.

Terrestrial entered its Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) design into the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission's (CNSC) vendor design review process in 2016. In November 2017, Terrestrial completed phase 1 of the process, which assesses compliance with regulatory requirements.

Phase 2 of the process assesses new technologies for any potential fundamental barriers to licensing and is expected to take around two years. This phase will include an assessment of the IMSR design against 19 key focus areas in license applications.

"This is a critical commercial step that precedes site selection and construction of the first plant," Terrestrial said in a statement.

In a third phase, the SMR vendor can follow up on certain aspects of phase 2 and work with the regulator to assess design readiness.

Hitachi appoints Atkins, KBR, Wood for planned Wylfa Newydd plant

Hitachi Nuclear Energy Europe has appointed three engineering groups to support the delivery of its proposed 2.9 GW Wylfa Newydd nuclear power station in Wales, UK.

The Wylfa Newydd project consists of two Hitachi-designed ABWR boiling water reactors and is being developed by Hitachi subsidiary Horizon Nuclear Power. Hitachi will deliver the Nuclear Island and Architect Engineering and Horizon recently appointed Bechtel as Project Management Contractor (PMC).

The latest suite of contracts will see UK group Atkins, recently acquired by Canada's SNC-Lavalin, provide civil engineering design services for the nuclear island, while KBR will support on project controls and Wood will perform architect engineering services, Hitachi said in a statement October 22.

If the Wylfa project gains financial approval, the plant could be operational by the mid-2020s, according to the developer. UK government authorities are expected to start examining Horizon's application for a Development Consent Order this fall.

Horizon aims to build further plants at Wylfa for a total capacity of at least 5.8 GW.

The UK government is considering taking a direct stake in the Wylfa Newydd project in a bid to lower costs, energy secretary Greg Clark told Parliament in June.

The government has been under pressure to reduce the cost of new nuclear power plants after it guaranteed a power price for EDF's 3.2 GW Hinkley Point C EPR project at 92.50 pounds per MWh, considered by many to be uncompetitive given falling renewable energy costs. Cost of capital is one reason for the high power price. EDF and its Chinese partners are bearing all construction risks for Hinkley Point C, which is expected to cost around 20 billion pounds to build and is scheduled online from 2025.

The Wylfa Newydd plant "will be cheaper than what has gone before and after that, with smart financing, supply chain learnings and no need for first time overheads, future project costs will fall further still," Duncan Hawthorne, CEO of Horizon Nuclear Power, said in a statement in August.

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