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Billions in Contract Awards to Build New Nuclear Power Plants

French nuclear fuel cycle company Framatome has signed “contracts worth multi-billion euros” with Sizewell C Ltd. The commitment by the UK government represents a new level of involvement in the Sizewell C nuclear new build project in the UK.

Framatome said the contract signing “follows the British Government Investment Decision in November 2022 to approve the construction of two EPR reactors at Sizewell on the Suffolk Coast”.

Framatome said it had been awarded several contracts including the delivery of the two nuclear heat production systems, from design and supply through to commissioning. The company will also provide Sizewell C’s safety instrumentation and control syst?ems.

It added that a “long-term fuel supply agreement, under which Framatome will fabricate the fuel needed to power the two reactors, as well as a contract for long-term services and maintenance to support the operation of the plant, are also part of the agreements.”

The twin EPRs will use commercial grade nuclear fuel at less than 5% U235 enrichment. Significantly, both the Sizewell and Hinkley EPRs will also be able to burn MOX fuel.

Bernard Fontana, Framatome’s chief executive officer, said in the statement that Framatome is “proud to continue supporting the UK’s Net Zero target by 2050 by delivering a replica of the Hinkley Point C project at Sizewell C.”

Fontana added that the Sizewell C project will “benefit from the valuable experience garnered from Hinkley Point C and our teams are determined to make it a success.”

Sizewell C is a planned 3,400 MW new nuclear power station in Suffolk in eastern England. The station will be a follow-on and sister facility to the 3,400 MW Hinkley Point C nuclear station being built in Somerset, western England, near the city of Bristol. Both stations will have two France-supplied EPR plants.

Sizewell C is 51% owned by the UK government and 49% owned by French state nuclear power company EDF. The separate Sizewell C Ltd joint venture company was created earlier this year to build and develop the plant.

Hinkley Point C / Massive Electrical and Instrumentation Contract

BGEN, one of the UK’s largest engineering firms, has been awarded an £84 million project by GE Steam Power Systems to provide electrical and instrumentation solutions to Hinkley Point C (HPC), which is a two-unit EPR nuclear power station under construction in Somerset, England.

When complete, Hinkley Point C is expected to deliver 7% of the UK’s CO2-free energy for the next 60 years. The plant is expected to supply more than 3.2 GW to the grid—enough to power about 6 million homes

GE Steam Power will supply the two conventional power islands for HPC, which include Arabelle steam turbines, generators, and other critical equipment. The Arabelle design produces 2% more power output than a traditional configuration and has a 99.96% reliability rate, with each turbine-generator set capable of producing 1,770 MW of electrical power.

BGEN’s scope includes the design, supply, and installation of electrical and instrumentation packages for Unit 1 and Unit 2 Turbine Halls of the nuclear power plant.

In terms of electrical scope, BGEN’s turnkey project solution includes the installation of the Isolated Phase Busducts (IPBs), design verification, seismic qualification, supply and installation of structural support and containment systems, the installation of electrical equipment and cables, and termination and testing work.

BGEN’s project scope for instrumentation engineering includes the design and seismic qualification of instrument frames and canopies, the fabrication and final assembly of instrumentation and associated equipment, the supply and installation of structural support and containment systems and instrument tubing, the installation of field instruments and associated equipment, as well as cable installation, termination, and testing.

 

Ukraine / Energoatom and Holtec Sign Agreement for SMR Manufacturing Facilities
  • The agreement provides for the creation in Ukraine of manufacturing capabilities for components for small modular reactors, plus storage and transportation systems for used nuclear fuel.

(WNN) The online signing of the agreement, by Energoatom’s Acting Chairman Petro Kotin (pictured above) and Holtec International’s President and CEO Chris Singh, took place in the presence of Ukraine’s Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko.

The agreement is intended to push ahead the deployment of Holtec’s small modular reactors (SMRs) in Ukraine “and to support unimpeded reactor operations through a successfully deployed used fuel storage facility”.

Holtec’s Kotin said: “This agreement is important not only for Energoatom, but also for the entire energy industry of Ukraine and the national economy. The creation of nuclear energy production facilities in the country will contribute not only to the strengthening of the country’s energy security … this Master Agreement will lead to a modern manufacturing and training facility which will spur economic development, create well-paying jobs, and pave the way for Ukraine’s emergence as the regional hub for Holtec’s SMR-300 and used fuel technology.”

Shawn Anderson, the US Embassy’s Department of Energy Office Director and Energy Attaché, said: “The signing of the Master Agreement marks a significant milestone as it paves the way for the establishment of a cutting-edge manufacturing facility aimed at localising the production of equipment for Holtec SMRs, spent nuclear fuel storage and transport systems, and other nuclear energy-related necessities in Ukraine. This collaborative effort between Energoatom and Holtec International is not only a critical step but also an inspiring one that promises to enhance Ukraine’s national and energy security, thus bolstering its economy.”

Holtec has been developing its SMR unit since 2011 and the company has even longer-established links with Ukraine – in April 2023 an agreement between Energoatom and Holtec sought to pave the way for up to 20 of its SMR-160 units to be deployed in the country. Holtec says its SMR has undergone several design evolutions, the most recent of which is the incorporation of forced flow capability overlayed on gravity-driven flow in the plant’s primary system for the SMR-300, which is a pressurised water reactor producing around 300 MW of electrical power or 1050 MW of thermal power for process applications, and which Holtec says, remains “walk-away safe”.

Sheffield Forgemasters Earns ASME Nuclear Qualifications

Sheffield Forgemasters has been awarded a crucial strategic qualification, positioning the company to support development and delivery of the next generation of civil nuclear power plants.

The company’s nuclear qualification came after an American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Section III Division I NCA 3300 (NCA 3800), NCA 4000 and NQA-1 Code survey and audit, recommended it for Material Organization (MO), and welding (NPT) accreditations.

Sheffield Forgemasters’ status as the only company in the UK capable of manufacturing reactor vessel components for Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), coupled with its ASME status, make it a crucial capability in delivery of this advanced power-generation technology.

The qualification comes soon after the company announced a ground-breaking development in the acceleration of welding for large nuclear vessels, using Electron Beam Welding to reduce more than a year’s worth of manual welding to less than 24 hours.

As well as being the sole UK supplier of large, nuclear-grade forgings and castings, Sheffield Forgemasters’ MO and NPT status now makes it one of the only UK companies qualified for fabrication of the main components within a civil nuclear power plant.

Ian Nicholls, group technical director, at Sheffield Forgemasters, said, “We undertook the ASME audit in November and have now received confirmation that the audit recommendation has been approved by the committee. The accreditation is a huge development with heightened requirements and protocols embracing all our processes, employees and selected sub-suppliers.”

Ian added: “The ASME accreditation, coupled with our development of Electron Beam Welding for large diameter, nuclear grade vessels, places Sheffield Forgemasters at the pinnacle of development for Small Modular Reactors and presents significant possibilities for the UK’s domestic nuclear new-build program.”

The ASME code is the most comprehensive series of guidelines for civil nuclear manufacture in the world with an emphasis on doctrines that have parallels with the European Nuclear manufacturing code, RCC-M, and other submarine nuclear standards.

Sheffield Forgemasters first gained ASME accreditation as a Nuclear Materials Organisation in 1992 will now continue its work to advance manufacturing technologies for the next generation of SMR civil nuclear power plants.

Czech Republic Doubles Down on Dokovany and Temelin
  • Minister to boost nuclear plant bid in Czech Republic

The Czech government has announced plans to build four new nuclear power plants, two each at Dukovany, 220 km south of Prague, and Temelin, 130 km away. The bidding deadline for the project, estimated to be worth about 22 billion, is April 30th, 2024, with the preferred bidder to be announced in June.

CEZ, the government owned nuclear utility, had previously indicated the contract would be for one 1,200 MW PWR at Dukovany.  At an estimated cost of $6,500/Kw, a single plant would come in at about $8 billion. CEZ’s plan, in now requesting bids on two reactors at Dukovany and two more at Temelin, to get volume discounts on price based on taking a “fleet” approach” to deploying nuclear power in the nation.

The competition was narrowed down to a Korean consortium and Electricite de France SA (EDF) after U.S. competitor Westinghouse Electric Co. was disqualified.  The South Korean bid will offer the APR1400 and the EDF bid will likely offer a revised and less costly design of the 1,600 MW EPR or possibly a scaled down version at 1,200 MW.

A consortium of South Korean firms said they are bullish on their prospects for winning the contracts. Despite EDF’s strong position, the Korean group, consisting of Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. (KHNP), KEPCO Engineering & Construction Co. (KEPCO E&C), and Doosan Enerbility Co. said it remains competitive with reasonable prices.

According to the World Nuclear Association (WNA), Korea‘s nuclear construction cost per kilowatt-hour will be $3,571 by 2021, lower than the U.S.’s $5,833 or France‘s $7,931.

At this prices, four of the South Korean reactors would cost about $5 billion each. By comparison, the Westinghouse price, quoted in WNA report, for four 1,150MW AP1000s would be just under $27 billion, and the French offering, for four 1,2000 MW units, at $38 billion.

South Korea has going for its track record of delivering four 1,400 MW APR1400s in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for about $30 billion.  The first unit broke ground in 2012 and the fourth and last unit was connected to the grid in March 2024.

EDF’s track record of schedule delays and cost overruns for plants in Finland and France will be a consideration for CEZ as will the estimated completion costs of EDF EPRs in the UK.

Although Westinghouse has been dropped from the competition by CEZ, its experience with very significant schedule delays and cost over runs in building  two 1,150 AP1000s for Georgia Power at the Vogtle site works does not compare favorably with the South Korean experience in the UAW.

A major obstacle for Korea in securing the Czech nuclear power plant deal is Westinghouse’s intellectual property lawsuit over the design of the APR1400 reactor that KHNP seeks to export. Westinghouse alleges that this design infringes on its intellectual property and filed a lawsuit in January 2022 in the Federal District Court of Washington D.C.

The court dismissed the case a year later, citing Westinghouse‘s lack of standing as a plaintiff because export control authority rests with the U.S. government. Westinghouse appealed to the appellate court in October 2023 which is still pending.

The dispute was submitted to arbitration in 2023, but no progress has been announced regarding that process. The agency in Paris, France, conducting the effort declined to comment on the status of the talks.

To address the issue, South Korea‘s Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Ahn Duk-geun recently visited the United States to seek bilateral government cooperation for the Czech deal and was accompanied by senior officials from the ministry’s nuclear bureau. Prior to the minister‘s trip, KHNP President Hwang Ju-ho also visited Washington D.C., and reportedly took up the issue in discussion with senior US administration officials.

If Korea wins the Czech nuclear power plant deal, it will be the country’s second nuclear export in 15 years following a deal for the Barakah nuclear power plant in the United Arab Emirates in 2009.

Bipartisan Senate Effort to Speed Up Fusion Energy

U.S. Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) introduced bipartisan legislation to accelerate the development of commercial fusion energy. The Fusion Energy Act would codify the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) regulatory authority over commercial fusion energy systems to streamline the creation of clear federal regulations to support the development of commercial production facilities.

On April 14, 2023, NRC voted to separate the regulatory frameworks of fusion and fission energy and create a unique regulatory framework for fusion energy. The Fusion Energy Act would ensure the development of a tailored NRC regulatory framework geared toward supporting the growth of the emerging commercial fusion energy sector. The legislation would also require the NRC to study and report to Congress within one year regarding licensing commercial fusion machines, including streamlining considerations.

“Clear guidance through an appropriate regulatory framework is essential to the emerging fusion field. LLNL looks forward to partnering with Sen. Padilla and others in Congress in support of U.S. leadership in fusion energy, as the Lab continues to set historic records in fusion at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) — our unique national security experimental facility that supports the Nation’s strategic deterrent and provides fundamental data that also paves the way toward a fusion energy future,” said Dr. Kimberly Budil, Laboratory Director, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

“The Fusion Industry Association (FIA) has consistently supported regulatory and legislative efforts to provide certainty in the regulation of fusion energy. We support efforts to permanently and completely separate the regulation of fusion energy from the regulation of fission, and look forward to continuing to work with Members of Congress to see this enacted into law,” said Andrew Holland, Chief Executive Officer, Fusion Industry Association.

Congressional Fusion Energy Caucus Co-Chairs Lori Trahan (D-Mass.-03), Don Beyer (D-Va.-08), Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.-03), and Jay Obernolte (R-Calif.-23) passed companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

Last year, Senator Padilla welcomed the Department of Energy’s (DOE) announcement of $42 million for a program to establish three hubs to advance inertial fusion energy, including $16 million for a hub led by the DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California.

Additionally, Padilla and Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.-18) pushed President Biden to support the inclusion of over $1 billion in FY24 funding for the Fusion Energy Sciences program within the DOE’s Office of Science, consistent with the amount authorized in the CHIPS and Science Act.

The Fusion Energy Act of 2024

Fusion Energy – where atoms join together to create heavier ones and release energy – has the potential to produce abundant clean electricity without harmful side effects like carbon emissions or long-lived radioactive waste. As the U.S. seeks to decarbonize the grid by 2050, we must seek out opportunities to advance fusion commercialization.

The Fusion Energy Act bolsters the authority of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, accelerating the adoption of commercial fusion facilities and continuing the track record of U.S. leadership in this crucial energy technology.

What the bill would do:

  • Streamline the implementation of commercial fusion by codifying the Nuclear
  • Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) unanimous, bipartisan vote to create a regulatory framework for fusion energy systems under NRC’s byproduct materials process.
  • Require the NRC to study and report to Congress within one year regarding licensing commercial fusion machines, including streamlining considerations.

Why it’s needed:

Global Competition: The U.S. has long invested in fusion energy through the Department of Energy’s National Laboratories. This support has enabled U.S. leadership in fusion, including through Lawrence Livermore’s groundbreaking demonstration of fusion ignition in December 2022. With China spending over $1.5 billion a year on fusion, the U.S. must act to streamline federal regulations to win the international race to commercial fusion.

Carbon Free Energy: Fusion energy can be harnessed to produce incredible quantities of clean, reliable, carbon-free, and safe energy. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, fusion could generate four times more energy per kilogram of fuel than fission reactions in nuclear power plants.

Regulatory Certainty: Companies seeking to build out commercial facilities for advancing fusion technologies will be able to rely on a consistent regulatory framework designed to streamline construction efforts while also providing the best assurance of public safety and security. A stable regime of fusion regulations will instill confidence in the private sector of the long-term economic viability of fusion energy, encouraging greater investments and innovation.

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