Nuclear News Update

The big news, of course, is that Germany has now closed its remaining reactors.  You can see the changes in their energy production and consumption mix at Electricity Maps.  It would be an irrational decision in any case, and under current circumstances seems pretty close to insane.  The good news is that there seems to be a lot of strong negative reaction to the shutdown, coming not only from conservatives and people mainly concerned with the economy, but also from a lot of people who are strong environmentalists and believers in the essentiality of CO2 reductions for climate reasons.  (Here’s a pro-nuclear rally at the Brandenburg Gate in Germany)  It is also interesting that Forbes magazine, a publications which IMO has becomes substantially less impressive and useful in recent years, ran an article responding to the shutdown with the headline Germany Embraces Pseudoscience.

Around the world, there are a lot of very positive things happening with Nuclear.

One of the two new reactors in the  very-long running expansion of the  Vogtle power plant in Georgia, Unit 3,  is operational and connected to the grid. Unit 4 is scheduled to enter service around the turn of the year.  These reactors are Westinghouse AP1000s.

French Members of Parliament voted to eliminate the targeted limit of 50% of energy produced by nuclear, which was passed in 2015 in the name of being ‘green’.  Mark Nelson recalls a righteous rant from 2017 in protest about a plant shutdown that was required by this limit.

In Poland, there are a lot of nuclear projects on the table.  The US is lending the country $4 billion to partially fund the construction of up to 20 Small Modular Reactors, which are projected to be BWRX-300s from the GE-Hitachi joint venture.  However, it appears that the first plant in Poland to go operational will be a large plant based on Westinghouse AP1000s.

Here is a spreadsheet of the potential Polish nuclear projects, with the customers, reactor types, and estimated timing.

A major problem with nuclear, and a reason often given for taking a dismissive attitude toward this energy source, is the length of time require to build new plants.  An example of a nuclear project accomplished on a considerably better than typical schedule is the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant in the United Arab Emerates.  The link (twitter) describes the approach that was taken; there’s also a video interview with Mohammed Al Hammadi, CEO of Emirates Nuclear. Looks interesting–I watched the first 15 minutes so far–Al Hammadi is an EE and started out as an engineer doing power network design. The reactors in this plant are based on a Westinghouse design and fabricated and installed by a Korean company.

Attitudes are changing toward nuclear in Denmark.

A large nuclear plant in Egypt is being constructed by Russia, with 85% of the cost ($28 billion) paid for via a loan from that country.

4.2 GW of nuclear capacity under consideration in Bulgaria.

Nuclear plant construction costs by country, over time.  (at Twitter)

Attitudes toward nuclear in Germany, by age range. (also at Twitter)  Compare these numbers with those from the same poll, two years ago (in the comments)…attitudes have become more positive. Will the politicians listen?

A deal among GE-Hitachi Nuclear, the TVA, and the Polish company Synthos Green Energy, involving GEH’s small modular reactors.

NuScale Power, which is focused on Small Modular Reactors, has placed an order for long leadtime materials with Doosan Enerbility of Korea.  The initial modules are for a project of Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, targeted to be in commercial operation as early as 2029.

But also, some not-so-favorable news:  Taiwan is shutting down a nuclear reactor which is apparently in perfectly good shape.   Angelica (at Twitter) says:  “The 985MW BWR from GE has served Taiwan well for 40 years. But for politics, it could have served for 40 more. What a tragedy…but also, a farce.”  (I wonder what kind of message about Taiwan’s strength and seriousness this shutdown sends to the CCP…never mind, I already know)

This post isn’t by any means a comprehensive report, just a roundup of some recent news and analysis that caught my eye.  See also my previous Nuclear News, featuring the currrent Miss America, Grace Stanke.