POWER [November, 1 2009]

Cover Stories

Map of Nuclear Power Plants in North America

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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.

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.

Features

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.

Chile Plans for Growth with "All the Options" Energy Mix

Chile was considered a world leader for reforming and liberalizing its power sector as early as the 1980s. However, 25 years later, Chile is at a crossroads in terms of developing future capacity. With an estimated GDP growth rate of 2% to 3% during the current global financial crisis, a highly competitive economy, an established democracy, and a stable macroeconomic environment, Chile is considered a premium destination for foreign investment.

Modeling and Simulation Tools Reduce Plant Outage Duration

Replacing equipment inside a nuclear power plant requires careful planning that begins many months before the plant outage. Entergy has adopted advanced modeling and simulation tools that allow engineers to "walk through" the entire outage in a virtual model, thus avoiding unanticipated surprises.

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.

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.

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.

Departments

Commentary

The New Nuclear Fuel Market

If the planned expansion of nuclear power materializes, it will amplify demands on a nuclear fuel supply system that is only beginning to recover from decades of neglect.

New Products

Ambient Temperature Black Body

Wahl Instruments introduced the Heat Spy Portable Calibration Black Body, an ambient temperature black body used for single-point calibration verification and checking of thermal imaging cameras and point infrared thermometers.…

Conventional and Self-Aligning Rollerbeds

ESAB Welding & Cutting Products announced the addition of conventional and self-aligning rollerbeds to its line of automated handling equipment products. The durable rollerbeds are grit-blasted with a polyurethane finish…

Ethernet-Accessible Power Meter

Electro Industries designed the Shark100 meter in response to requests within the industry for low-cost Ethernet-accessible power meters. Featuring 100BaseT Ethernet capability utilizing Modbus TCP as its standard protocol, the…

Flex-Neck Torches Offer Better Joint Access

To help provide better joint access, Weldcraft offers several TIG (tungsten inert gas) torches with flex-neck designs. The company’s popular WP-9, WP-17, and WP-26 Series of air-cooled TIG torches all…

Pneumatic Torque Limiter

Nexen has launched the TL Series, a pneumatically engaged, single-position torque limiter for improved overload protection for industrial machinery. The TL Series uses a ball/detent interface and proximity sensor to…

Upgraded Retaining Heads for MIG Welding Guns

Tregaskiss has upgraded the design of its TOUGH LOCK retaining heads so that they now feature the company’s Dual Taper technology — a second rear taper between the gooseneck and…

Legal & Regulatory

Conn. v. AEP: Call for Congressional Action

In September, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court ruling in Connecticut v. American Electric Power ("Decision"), a lawsuit initiated by eight states, New York City, and environmental organizations against six power-generating utilities. The plaintiffs allege that carbon dioxide emissions from the defendants’ fossil fuel – fired power plants in 20 states are contributing to a public nuisance — climate change and global warming.

Focus on O&M

Catching Faults with Centralized Condition Monitoring

In 2007, Exelon Corp. began the Centralized Performance Monitoring (CPM) pilot program. The goal was to reduce downtime costs and lost revenue associated with the 25% of unplanned forced losses across its fleet of 17 nuclear power units without additionally taxing existing personnel or adding new personnel.

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.

Scale Model Testing Confirms Adequate Refueling Water Storage Tank Vortex Allowance

Recent Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Component Design Bases Inspection activities have scrutinized empirical approaches used to determine vortex allowances for emergency core cooling system (ECCS) suction sources.

Global Monitor

Europe's Offshore Wind Race

Denmark in September inaugurated a 209-MW offshore wind park — the world’s largest to date — off the west coast of Jutland, in the North Sea.

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.

New Pressurized CCS System Could Cut Energy Penalty

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) looking into new power generation cycles have designed an innovative oxyfuel system that uses a pressurized coal combustor to capture and concentrate carbon dioxide emissions for direct injection into deep geological formations.

POWER Digest (Nov. 2009)

News items of interest to power generation professionals.

Three CCS Tests Worldwide

This September — a year after Vattenfall launched the world’s first oxyfuel pilot plant for carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) at the Schwarze Pumpe lignite-fired plant south of Berlin, Germany — three high-profile and long-awaited carbon capture tests started operation around the world.

World's First EPR Gets a Roof

Olkiluoto 3, the world’s first EPR whose construction in Finland has been plagued by major delays, in September reached a significant milestone as its 200 – metric ton, 47-meter-diameter steel dome was hoisted into position 44 meters above the ground.

Speaking of Power

Time Flies

July 17, 1955, was the first time electricity generated by a U.S. nuclear power plant flowed into a utility grid. The experiment required Utah Power & Light to disconnect itself from the power lines to the 1,200 residents of Arco, Idaho, and plug in the Argonne National Laboratory experimental boiler water reactor, BORAX-III. The plant produced merely 2 megawatts for more than an hour, as planned, after which linemen reconnected the town’s grid to the utility. Since then, the U.S. nuclear industry has demonstrated excellence in operations, but more than 50 years after that first nuclear power supply, it is lagging far behind even developing nations in new construction.

GBR Reports