Archive: Nuclear

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.

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.

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.

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.

Africa Looks to Nuclear for Future Generation

Africa is emerging as a prominent voice in calling for a global nuclear renaissance. Driven by chronic shortages from population explosions, decades of drought, and dependence on hydropower — and spurred by discoveries of significant uranium reserves on the continent — several countries are considering nuclear power as a viable option.

Using the Sterling Engine for Solar and Lunar Power

Since Robert Stirling invented the Stirling engine in 1816, it has been used in an array of specialized applications. That trend continues today. Its compatibility with clean energy sources is becoming apparent: It is an external combustion engine that can utilize almost any heat source, it encloses a fixed amount of a gaseous working fluid, and it doesn’t require any water — unlike a steam engine.

Nuclear Developments in Europe

Recent months brought several developments in Europe’s much-touted "nuclear renaissance." Spain Extends Life of Nation’s Oldest Reactor Spain’s government on July 2 granted a four-year extension to the operating permit of the 466-MW Santa María de Garoña nuclear power plant (Figure 3). The decision follows a nonbinding recommendation by Spain’s nuclear regulator in June to […]

Sweden Selects Site of First Permanent Spent Nuclear Fuel Repository

In early June, as U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu confirmed to a House Subcommittee that Yucca Mountain repository was, without doubt, "off the table" and that a blue ribbon panel would further advise the government on what it should do with its high-level nuclear waste, Sweden announced the site of what could be the world’s first permanent spent fuel repository.

Canada Moves to Rebalance Its Energy Portfolio

Though Canada is rich in fossil fuels, nuclear power may fuel a significant portion of the nation’s future electrical generation needs, especially in provinces that have traditionally relied on hydropower and fossil fuels.

Steam Turbines: San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station Gets Upgraded Generator Rotors

Southern California Edison’s (SCE) 2,250-MWe San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) recently took receipt of a new and upgraded generator rotor for one of its two Alstom steam turbine generator units (Figure 1). Following the successful installation and flawless start-up of this new rotor in the Unit 2 generator, the former Unit 2 rotor was […]