Australian news, and some related international items

NuScale ups its propaganda for Small Modular #Nuclear Reactors

text-relevantNuScale hopes to change the conversation on nuclear power, Corvallis Gazette Times. 30 Aug 15 “…….On Aug. 20 he was in Corvallis, speaking to more than 200 like-minded souls gathered for a fancy dinner in the main ballroom of Oregon State University’s CH2M Hill Alumni Center for an exposition on nuclear energy sponsored by NuScale Power, a local company working to develop what it hopes will be the first small modular reactor approved for use in the United States.

Over plates of steak and scallops, Shellenberger painted a picture of a golden future in which human suffering and environmental degradation could be overcome with the aid of affordable, plentiful, carbon-free energy — if only we can get past what he called our irrational bias against nuclear power.

“Saving nature in the 21st century,” he said, “is going to require that we confront our fears.”

It was a theme that came up over and over again during NuEx, a two-day trade show and networking extravaganza that reinforced NuScale’s status as the frontrunner to win the first Nuclear Regulatory Commission certification for a small modular reactor or SMR, a next-generation technology touted as cheaper, safer and more flexible than traditional large-scale nuclear power plants.

Some 230 nuclear industry representatives, investment bankers, political operatives and journalists descended on Corvallis for the event, where they were wined and dined, heard market forecasts and inspirational speeches, toured NuScale facilities and discussed possible business deals with the up-and-coming company………

The second day’s speakers included Oregon state Rep. Dallas Heard, a Roseburg Republican who co-sponsored a bill in the 2015 Legislature that would have overturned Oregon’s restrictions on building nuclear power plants, and Washington Sen. Sharon Brown, who is pursuing the same goal in her state.

Rebecca Casper, the mayor of Idaho Falls, Idaho, talked about all the reasons she hopes NuScale will follow through on its plans to build its first operating reactor in her community.

And Dan Lipman, vice president of the Nuclear Energy Institute, said the trade association is working hard to build more support for small modular reactor technology.

“I think SMRs are the beginning of a new chapter for nuclear,” Lipman told NuEx attendees.

“We think the contributions being made here by NuScale are just phenomenal,” he added. “I can’t overstate the importance of what’s going on here.”

Gaining momentum NuScale’s design is based on technology developed at OSU by Jose Reyes, who co-founded the company and serves as its chief technology officer.


Each 50 megawatt reactor module could be operated individually or in arrays of up to 12 units for a total generating capacity of about 600 megawatts, compared to about 1,000 megawatts for a conventional nuke. The reactors and their cylindrical containment vessels would be small enough (76 feet long by 15 feet across) to build in a factory and ship by truck, barge or rail to their final destinations, where they would be installed below grade level in a large pool of water. The design uses natural convection currents to circulate cooling water, a “passively safe” approach that eliminates the need for an elaborate network of pumps, pipes and valves that can fail in an emergency.

Founded in 2007, the Corvallis-based startup emerged as one of the leaders in the race to be first to market with an approved SMR design in late 2013, when it was awarded the second of two Department of Energy grants worth up to $217 million toward design and certification costs. NuScale vaulted into first place when the other grant recipient, a consortium led by established reactor maker Babcock & Wilcox, announced it was scaling back its SMR development effort…….

While the NRC review process likely will take several years, NuScale is pushing ahead with plans to build its first nuclear generating plant at the Idaho National Laboratory in partnership with a pair of regional public utilities, Energy Northwest of Washington and Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems. That plant, which would have 12 NuScale power modules, is slated to be completed in 2024 at a cost of about $2.8 billion (the price tag is expected to come down to $2.6 billion for future “12-pack” plants)……….

No one has more to gain from NuScale’s future success than Fluor Corp., which rescued the Corvallis company from disaster in 2011 after NuScale’s chief investor, Venezuelan-American hedge fund manager Francisco “Pancho” Illarramendi, was indicted on federal charges of securities fraud.

Even though NuScale was never implicated in any wrongdoing, it went into financial freefall when the court froze millions of dollars in assets as part of a plan to compensate Illarramendi’s victims. The company was in a death spiral until Fluor swooped in with a $30 million investment, becoming NuScale’s majority owner and freeing it from court-ordered receivership.

Fluor has proved to be a powerful ally, upping its stake to $300 million to fuel NuScale’s NRC certification push and boosting the small startup’s credibility with its own financial stability and global reach. Headquartered in Dallas, Fluor is a major player in the international heavy construction market, with extensive experience in building nuclear power plants. It ranked No. 136 on the latest Fortune 500 list, has more than 43,000 employees, maintains offices on six continents and had $21.5 billion in revenue last year………

Another company, Areva, has a consulting contract to develop and test reactor fuel assemblies for NuScale and hopes to win a long-term deal to supply all the company’s fuel needs once it achieves NRC certification and goes into production. The French nuclear industry titan even brought a finished fuel assembly to NuEx, complete in every detail except for the uranium pellets.

“In the U.S., as the market slows for traditional reactors, this is an opportunity for us to move into SMRs,” said Bob Freeman, Areva’s vice president for U.S. nuclear fuel contracts and services.

NuScale, he added, looks like an excellent bet to become a high-volume customer.

“We think they’re going to be very successful,” Freeman said. “We’re hopeful the marketplace will embrace them. We’re here to help push them over the finish line.”…….

The challenge for nuclear power proponents, he acknowledged, is to get ordinary citizens to embrace an energy source that is still widely viewed with suspicion……

August 30, 2015 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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