Archive: Nuclear

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NRC Concerns About AP1000 Structural Strength Could Delay Projects

Concerns raised by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) about the structural strength of Westinghouse Electric Co.’s AP1000 reactor could cause delays for several nuclear plants that planned to use the design in the U.S. — and it raises questions for new builds started or proposed in China and the UK.

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Modularizing Containment Vessels in New Nuclear Power Plants

Using modularization in the construction of nuclear containment vessels can be one way to control both cost and schedule when building the next generation of U.S. nuclear power plants. Although the advantages of modularization can be significant, each new reactor design and plant site poses unique construction challenges and must be individually analyzed to determine the benefits of this approach.

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Plant Vogtle Leads the Next Nuclear Generation

In August 2009, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued its fourth Early Site Permit for two new units at Southern Nuclear’s Vogtle site and its first for the Westinghouse AP1000 pressurized water reactor design. The two new units planned for Vogtle also became the reference plant for the AP1000 under NuStart in June 2009. This means Vogtle Units 3 and 4 will be the first licensed installations of the new AP1000 reactor design in the U.S. Plant Vogtle is expected to get the NRC’s approval to begin construction in 2011.

New Nuclear Plants Are on the Horizon

Most of the big utilities, with an eye to ensuring a good mix of future generation resources, have a new nuclear plant in development. Even though federal loan guarantees are slow to materialize and financing these multi-billion-dollar projects has become a bet-the-company investment, the NRC has more than 40 applications from generators that continue to believe in the future of nuclear power.

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Benchmarking Nuclear Plant Operating Costs

In an exclusive agreement with the EUCG Nuclear Committee, POWER was provided access to some key, high-level performance and operational data from the group’s nuclear industry benchmarking database. All U.S., and many international, nuclear power plants are members of the committee and have contributed to its database for many years. This month we introduce you to the EUCG Nuclear Committee and share sample nuclear operating costs. Look for future reports on other key performance benchmarking metrics during 2010.

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Top Plants: Oconee Nuclear Station Oconee County, South Carolina

Duke Energy’s nuclear fleet provides electricity to approximately half of the utility’s customers in the Carolinas. The 2,538-MW Oconee Nuclear Station is part of that fleet and has been a pacesetter among U.S. nuclear plants since it began operation in 1973. In order to maintain the plant’s productivity and reliability, its staff implemented a comprehensive controls modernization project that spanned a decade. With its new state-of-the-art upgrades, the facility has become a leader in applying digital electronic technology in the nuclear power industry.

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Top Plants: Diablo Canyon Power Plant San Luis Obispo County, California

Diablo Canyon Power Plant, which is situated in a postcard-perfect location on the central California coastline, generates electricity for more than three million households in central and northern California. In 2009 the project team at the dual-unit Westinghouse pressurized water reactor facility replaced four steam generators at Unit 1 in just 58 days. Through meticulous planning and excellent project execution, performance on this Unit 1 project was an improvement on the earlier Unit 2 steam generator replacement project.

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HDPE Replaces Carbon Steel in Safety-Related Pipe System

Corrosion of steel water pipes in the safety-related piping systems of aging U.S. nuclear power plants is fast becoming a safety concern and a significant operational cost, not to mention an indication of potential future liability for nuclear utilities currently constructing new plants or retrofitting existing sites.

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India Designs Thorium-Fueled Reactor for Export

While the global spotlight is fixed on India’s massive coal-fired power capacity expansion, the country with meager uranium reserves has been pressing on with a unique long-term program that pushes for research and development of nuclear reactors using all three main fissionable materials.