Modular Nuclear

John Brian Shannon

Size Isn’t Everything! – The Modular Nuclear Reactor

By: John Brian Shannon

Canada News,Fossil-Fuels,Fukushima,Fukushima Nuclear Plant,GermanyItaly,JapanJapan Nuclear Reactor,Modular-Nuclear-ReactorsNuclear Decommissioning,Nuclear Power,Plant-Vogtle-ReactorSolar powerSpent Fuel RodsWind Power


The March 11, 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster has precipitated a world of change in Japan’s nuclear power industry.

Within hours of the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami, many of Japan’s 54 nuclear power plants (which had supplied 27 per cent of Japan’s electricity) were shut down on orders from then Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

Japan is now burning fossil-fuels to replace the missing electrical generation capacity and has recently signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia to purchase three times their total 2010 oil imports.

In the interests of public safety and for the peace of mind of residents who live near the numerous, but widely-scattered nuclear plants in Japan, the government has ordered “stress test” inspections of all nuclear plants in the country.

Even so, due to rising political pressure from ordinary citizens and the growing anti-nuclear power protest movement there, not every plant which has been “stress-test approved” may restart.

With Japanese newspaper headlines in mind, the government of Japan and power plant operators are discussing the lengthy and hugely expensive decommissioning process for the Fukushima plant, which may take more than 50 years to achieve, at a cost estimated to between 15 and 45 billion (US) dollars. It looks like Japanese taxpayers are stuck paying for the decommissioning costs.

As you may be aware, Germany is decommissioning all of it’s nuclear power plants by 2022 – although in typical German fashion, they are ahead of schedule.

Many of Germany’s nuclear power plants are decades old, have been problem-plagued and would have required a staggering amount of investment to meet contemporary safety standards. In Germany’s case, it was less costly over the long term to employ a temporary feed-in tariff scheme to speed earlier adoption of solar and wind energy, rather than constantly upgrade 17 old nuclear reactors to ever-changing standards.

Italy got out of the nuclear business in 1987 as the costs to retrofit their old power plants with better technology exceeded any profit they would have realized during the rest of their power-producing lifetimes. Switzerland has committed to scrapping their nuclear power program by 2045.

The United States, Russia and Canada are all in the same boat as they continue to operate many old, lower-tech, and very costly to upgrade, large nuclear power plants.

However, a new hope for the nuclear power industry has arrived in the form of a brand-new nuclear power plant design — known as a small scale modular nuclear reactor which arrives at a pre-approved site on a semi-trailer, is already factory-assembled and is ready to begin producing power as soon as it can be lowered into place and hooked to up water supply and electrical lines.

Modular reactors range between 45 and 300 megawatts and are microscopic when compared to conventional monster-sized nuclear power plants that range between 1100 and 1300 megawatts. Best of all, they all feature 21st-century architecture with many simple redundancies built right in, such as gravity-fed cooling systems which remove the problem of cataclysmic coolant pump failures as happened at Fukushima and at other nuclear disasters.

The modular nuclear reactor – with its low profile, easy location requirements, tiny nuclear fuel and water appetite, very low installation costs, easy grid connection, uber-safe design, and ability to generate both power and profits in a dramatically shortened time frame is going to be a tough competitor to beat.

This is a profoundly better answer to the astronomical cost of upgrading old nuclear plants widely-scattered around the world – most of which are long overdue for major refits.

Modular nuclear reactors are the future of world-wide nuclear energy.

The last behemoth conventional U.S. nuclear power plants to go into service are presently under construction and will be completed next year (upgraded with some of the modular nuclear reactor safety elements) at the nuclear power plant in Vogtle, Georgia, and a smaller unit in South Carolina. After those plants go online it is expected further U.S. plants will be tiny modular nuclear reactors between 45 and 300 megawatts.

The brilliance of modular is that they mesh seamlessly with PV-solar, and wind turbine power. Modular nuclear reactors will be an important and welcome partner of solar, wind, tidal and geo-thermal.

By the time those nuclear plants in Germany have been completely decommissioned, we should be at “all clean electricity – all the time” in most of the industrialized world.



NuScale Power LLC and NuHub, an economic development initiative in Columbia, will work together to pursue a small modular reactor project at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. (Image/NuScale)

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Topics  Energy  /  Utilities  /  AP

Officials to reveal plans for Mo. nuclear reactor

By AP  | April 18, 2012

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and energy officials are to announce plans Thursday that could include the development of another nuclear reactor in the state.

The Democratic governor’s office called the plans significant for energy development and economic growth in Missouri. Nixon and officials from Ameren Missouri and Westinghouse Electric are scheduled to make the formal announcement Thursday afternoon at the Missouri Governor’s Mansion in Jefferson City.

A Nixon spokesman declined to provide further details Wednesday before the planned announcement.

The state’s lone existing nuclear power plant is about 25 miles northeast of the state Capitol in Callaway County and is operated by St. Louis-based Ameren Missouri. Officials twice in recent years have attempted to clear the way for construction of an additional nuclear power plant, but those efforts have bogged down in the state Legislature.

To read the entire article, please click on the link below:–officials-to-reveal-plans-for-mo-nuclear-reactor?#comments


UPDATE April 19, 2012

Ameren Missouri Forms an Alliance with Westinghouse Electric to Apply for Department of Energy Small Modular Nuclear Reactor Investment Funds

Ameren Missouri Continues to Plan for Missouri’s Energy Future

ST. LOUIS, April 19, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — Today, Ameren Missouri, a utility company of Ameren Corporation AEE -0.64% , announced it has entered into an agreement with Westinghouse Electric Company, a proven, global leader in nuclear energy and small modular reactor technology development, to exclusively support Westinghouse’s application for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Small Modular Reactors (SMR) investment funds of up to $452 million. The investment funding, announced by the DOE on March 22, will support first-of-its-kind engineering, design certifications and operating licenses for up to two SMR designs over five years.

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UPDATE: APRIL 20, 2012

Missouri chosen as site to produce next generation nuclear energy (AUDIO)

Missouri chosen as site to produce next generation nuclear energy

By Jessica Machetta

Westinghouse — a global leader in nuclear technology — has chosen Missouri as the location to develop and manufacture new generation small modular nuclear reactors.

Gov. Jay Nixon says it’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity that could spark a next-generation manufacturing industry in our state.

Kate Jackson, Westinghouse Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, says the partnership coupled with Missouri’s workforce, strong foothold in the nuclear industry and central location create a competitive advantage.

Westinghouse will apply to the Department of Energy for project funding in May; Jackson is confident it will be approved.

No state legislative action or statutory change is needed to move forward … no taxpayer money would be used to fund the project.

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UPDATE: APRIL 20, 2012

Westinghouse and Ameren Missouri Partner in Pursuit of DOE Investment Funds to Develop and License SMR Technology; Collaborative Effort Seeks to Further Economic Development in Missouri and Provide Greater Certainty to Licensing SMR Technology

Westinghouse Electric Company and Ameren Missouri have entered into an agreement to respond collaboratively to the United States Department of Energy for developing and licensing the Westinghouse Small Modular Reactor (SMR).

Under the terms of the agreement, Ameren Missouri will become part of and co-chair a Westinghouse-led Utility Participation Group (UPG) made up of Missouri utilities, non-Missouri utilities and industrial firms interested in seeking the DOE funds to develop and license the Westinghouse SMR technology, which includes a phased economic development approach associated with the SMR program for the State of Missouri.

The Westinghouse SMR is a 225 MWe integral pressurized water reactor (PWR), with all primary components located inside of the reactor vessel. It utilizes passive safety systems and proven components, as well as modular construction techniques – all realized and already licensed in the nuclear industry-leading AP1000 reactor – to achieve the highest level of safety and reduced number of components required. Westinghouse believes that this proven approach will provide licensing, construction and operation certainty that no other SMR supplier can match with competitive economics.

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Last Japanese nuclear reactor to go offline May 6, 2012
For the first time in a generation, Japan is set to go nuclear-free next month. Nuclear energy has suffered a serious blow to its public image since the March 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, and Japanese authorities have been cautious about restarting idled nuclear plants. Over the weekend, Japan’s Trade Minister Yukio Edano indicated that on May 6 the last operating nuclear reactor in the country is set to be taken offline, meaning that for the first time since 1970, Japan will be getting zero energy from nuclear power plants.
To read the entire article, please click on this link:


Tepco gets government bail-out

10 May 2012

The Japanese government has approved amendments to Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (Tepco’s) ten-year special business plan which effectively puts it, at least temporarily, under state control.

Under the amendments, approved by trade and industry minister Yukio Edano, the government will provide Tepco with ¥1 trillion ($12.5 billion) in state funds in return for a majority stake in the company. Having more than half of Tepco’s voting rights will enable the government to push through reforms at the company. The transaction – which will bring the total amount of public funds provided to Tepco to some ¥3.5 trillion ($43.8 billion) – must be approved by a meeting of Tepco’s general shareholders in June. The move, if approved, could avoid the collapse of the utility, which is struggling to meet massive compensation and clean-up costs following the Fukushima accident last year.

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