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Saudi Arabia Kicks Off RFP for Twin 1400 MWe PWRs

Dan Yurman's picture
Editor & Publisher NeutronBytes, a blog about nuclear energy

Publisher of NeutronBytes, a blog about nuclear energy online since 2007.  Consultant and project manager for technology innovation processes and new product / program development for commercial...

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  • Jun 3, 2022
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  • Saudi Arabia Kicks Off RFP for Twin 1400 MWe PWRs
  • New South Korea Gov’t Commits $320M to Develop SMRs
  • South Korea’s KHNP Ready To Invest In Poland’s Nuclear Program
  • Westinghouse and Hyundai Ink Nuclear Energy MOU
  • Hyundai Sets Roadmap For SMRs
  • NuScale / Nuclearelectrica MOU to Deploy First SMR
  • NRC Staff Says Nuscale Design Is Safe
  • Vietnam Airs Prospect Of Resuming Nuclear Power Development
  • Alaska Governor DunLeavy Signs Micro Reactor Bill

Saudi Arabia Kicks Off RFP for Twin 1400 MWe PWRs

saudi_arabia_pol_2003The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) issued an inquiry last week on the construction of two 1400 MWe nuclear power plants. The inquiry was sent to South Korea, France, China and Russia. The process of acquiring two reactors is a down sized effort from an ambitious goal set in 2014 to build 16 1000 MWe units.

Location?

It’s not clear what site(s) would be included in the project. Saudi Arabia has considered three separate sites after an process of evaluating prospective locations. As a practical matter it would be economically and logistically efficient to build both reactors at the same location.

In November of 2011, KA-CARE hired WorleyParsons to conduct site surveys to determine the best possible sites for development of the nuclear power generating stations. In September of 2013 three sites were identified as the primary options, given their proximity to coolant water sources, their position on the KSA’s electrical grid, and their location near electricity-intensive consumers, such as desalination plants. The identified locations are Jubail on the Gulf Coast and Rabuk and Jizan on the Red Sea.

Riyadh, the capitol is 264 miles west of Jubail the Persian Gulf and the two sites on the Red Sea are 450 miles to the east. Due to the lack of nearby sea water for desalination, it is unlikely that any site near the capitol would be chosen for the reactors.

Costs?

At $5,000/Kw, for bench marking purposes, the cost of the two reactors would be $7 billion each or $14 billion. South Korean sources told a business trade publication that they understand the expected price would be $9.76 billion for both units which seems to be a significant under shoot even with the efficiencies South Korea achieved in the UAE with similar reactors.

The timing of the long anticipated tender process is likely a function of the price of oil sailing past $100/bbl. As of 06/01/22 it is $117/bbl but the price is expected to moderate over time. At even $100/bbl Saudi Arabia can self-finance without accessing its sovereign wealth fund. The two reactors can be paid for with just 12-14 days of oil production a year. Saudi production capacity is about 12-13 million/day. At $100/bbl this revenue could pay for the two reactors and include a modest management reserve for cost overruns on a $14 billion project.

Competition for the Deal

France is expected to big with its EPR design but its continued inability to fully commission the Finland unit may be a caution flag for KSA. Russia’s prospects are unknown due to the uncertainties of the war in Ukraine and the potential impact of western sanctions on Rosatom’s supply chain. Surprisingly, India was not invited to bid despite its expertise building 700 MWe PHWRs which use natural uranium. The CANDU type reactors could be fueled by Saudi Arabia’s extensive domestic uranium deposits without the need for an enrichment plant.

Would KSA Play the China Card?

KSA is interested in China’s Hualong One and said as much in 2019. China is the wild card in the mix. It is one of KSA’s biggest customers for oil and could potentially propose a swap of nuclear reactors for oil without involving payment in U.S. dollars.

  • The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has long maintained that if it doesn’t get what it wants from a US 123 Agreement for export of nuclear reactor technologies, it has other options including buying Chinese Hualong One PWRs, at 1100 NMW each, similar to the two units now being built at a coastal site in Pakistan near Karachi.
  • Such an scenario would be a win for China, which would benefit from a long-standing relationship, first documented in 2003, between KSA and Pakistan, involving KSA’s financial support for Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program.
  • The Chinese Hualong One, a PWR at 1100 MWe is comparable in electrical power output to the Westinghouse AP1000 at 1150 MWe.
  • For its part, the US reiterated at the Munich Security Conference on 02/16/19 that the U.S. will not open door to Saudi Arabia building nuclear weapons, or predecessor facilities like uranium enrichment plans, and thus abandoning the “gold standard” set with a similar 123 agreement with the United Arab Emirates.
  • Saudi Arabia may be playing a double game with the U.S. On one hand it makes fiery disclaimers that if it doesn’t get a modified 123 agreement, it will talk to China. On the other hand, getting the reactors from Westinghouse and big chunks of its supply chain makes protecting Saudi Arabia from Iran much more in the US interest. Because KSA will now have our nuclear reactors, we will want to keep an eye on them for all of the obvious security reasons.

South Korea’s Prospects Could Make it the Front Runner

According to industry sources, the Saudi government sent the solicitation to South Korea because the latter has successfully built the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant in the United Arab Emirates. South Korea won the UAE contract in 2009 and has built four APR1400 reactors at a cost of US$18.6 billion. Unit 1 of the country’s first nuclear power plant was connected to the grid in August 2020, followed by unit 2 in September 2021.

The South Korean project came it at half the cost French company Areva proposed at that time for its 1600 MWe EPRs. Also, the UAE was concerned about schedule delays and cost overruns at EPR projects in Finland and France.

Just two weeks ago U.S. President Joseph Biden traveled to South Korea as part of a tour of Asian nations. The two nations signed a nuclear cooperation agreement including plans to continue cooperation in the development of small modular reactors (SMRs). The agreement also covers collaborative actions involving a long list of high technology industries including computer chips.  Full Text Joint Statement  White House Fact Sheet

The bilateral agreement has set high expectations for joint efforts supporting exports of South Korean nuclear technology.

“The United States and South Korea recently agreed to further cooperate in the industry and this can have a positive effect on the project in Saudi Arabia,” said an South Korean industry source.

“For example, South Korea may win the contract on condition that U.S. companies such as Westinghouse supply components and share the proceeds of the project.”

In the case of Barakah, about 10 percent of the total project proceeds went to U.S. companies.

South Korea is a clear ront runner. Most importantly, the Saudi procurement team can kick the tires of the UAE units, so to speak, prior to signing on the bottom line.

Another reason for KSA to go with South Korea is that the experienced skilled trades that are building the four units in the UAE will be available as the UAE units will be completed in the next two to three years. This experience is invaluable and could shave costs of construction since the contractors and their workers would have already built these types of units.

The UAE units will be operating in revenue service and available to train the Saudi plant operators in Arabic. Add to that the experience of the South Korean project managers, and the supply chain for long lead time large components like steam generators and reactor pressure vessels that is in place in South Korea, and the choice becomes even more attractive. Also, the South Korean 1400 MWe PWR earned the NRC’s design certification in August 2019 which is considered to be the global “gold standard” for safety reviews. Finally, and perhaps not coincidentally, the Saudi “inquiry” asks for a 1400 MWe power rating.

U.S. Nonproliferation Policies Could be a Deal Breaker

A potential stumbling block for South Korea is that Saudi Arabia does not have an agreement with the U.S. under Section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act which promotes the peaceful use of electricity.

The U.S. has insisted that countries signing such agreements set aside any plans for enrichment of uranium and reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. For its part Saudi Arabia has insisted it will not give up these plans. The absence of such an agreement could prevent U.S. firms like Westinghouse from supplying components to South Korea for a project in Saudi Arabia.

South Korea’s 1400 MWe PWR design, which is the basis for construction of four units in the United Arab Emirates, has substantial U.S. technology in it. South Korea would be seen by the U.S. as walking on thin ice if it claims that a modified version of the APR1400 is unencumbered by U.S. intellectual property (CE System 80+), and that it can be sold to Saudi Arabia even if there is no 123 Agreement in place.

South Korea’s 123 agreement, updated in 2016, with the U.S. still prohibits use of generally accepted methods of reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel (dissolving it in nitric acid which recovers plutonium as well as uranium) so it would not be able to take back fuel from Saudi Arabia for this purpose due to nonproliferation concerns. The 123 agreement between South Korea and the U.S. could opens the door for enrichment of uranium by South Korea, but only after further consultations. In diplomatic speak, that means the door is currently closed.

South Korea has long standing ambitions to reprocess spent nuclear fuel from its domestic fleet of reactors using pyroprocessing which does not produce plutonium as an output. In 2021 a joint U.S. / South Korea R&D effort proved the principle which is called PYRO-SFR. It is expected to help South Korean nuclear utilities utilize spent nuclear fuel since the technology allows to process transuranic waste (TRU) in fuel rods for recycle in accordance with the nuclear non-proliferation policy.

President Biden’s Planned Trip to KSA

President Biden, on the heels last month of inking a collaborative approach to nuclear technology exports with South Korea, is scheduled to travel to Saudi Arabia later this month. A question for bilateral discussions is whether the Saudi government will agree to modify its demand to the right to uranium enrichment in order to open the door to a 123 agreement and access to the South Korean PWR.

That seems unlikely for now given that re-establishing the Iran nuclear deal remains in limbo. Saudi Arabia’s stance on uranium enrichment is seen as a response to a perceived threat from Iran’s nuclear energy program. Absent any constraints on Iran with a revised nuclear deal, KSA will remain unwilling to give up the deterrent policy of insisting on the right to uranium enrichment.

President Biden’s trip to the Middle East also includes Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates and all of these countries share KSA’s anxieties about Iran’s nuclear program. Whether there will be progress to break the current impasse with Iran to close the deal for a new nuclear agreement is unknown, but presidential trips are intended to produce significant results. Another key objective for Biden is to discuss with Saudi officials ways to manage their production of oil to stabilize global markets due to European nations ending their purchases of Russian oil due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.

& & &

New South Korea Gov’t Commits $320M to Develop SMRs

small reactorsNewly elected South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol is offering the nation’s nuclear power industry a new opportunity to rebound after the prior government tried to put it out of business.

The new administration this week endorsed a budget of  $320 million as a massive injection of state money for the development of a small modular reactor called “i-SMR” that can be operated underground and is water cooled naturally in case of emergency.

Yoon, who took office in early May, ended his predecessor’s “nuclear-exit” policy of phasing out nuclear power plants. He vowed to revitalize South Korea’s nuclear power industry and develop next-generation reactors. During his campaign he insisted that nuclear power plants are an essential factor in restoring industrial competitiveness.

The proposed development of i-SMRs has passed a preliminary feasibility study, according to the Ministry of Science. The budget of $320 million is aimed at developing a reactor with a power generation capacity of less than 300 MWe.

In a press statement the South Korean science ministry described SMRs as a “gamechanger” for the nuclear power market and said South Korea aims to develop “an innovative SMR that is competitive in terms of economy, safety and flexibility to preoccupy the world’s SMR market.”

The domestic design of the i-SMRs will be manufactured in the form of a module at a factory for easy transportation to secure economic feasibility, the ministry said. It added the i-SMR project would create an opportunity to strengthen the export competitiveness and ecosystem of South Korea’s nuclear power industry.

No mention was made of previous efforts by South Korea to develop a 100 MWe “smart” SMR in collaboration with Saudi Arabia. In January 2020 Saudi Arabia updated its agreement with South Korea to complete a 100 MWe SMR, to license it for use in that country and to offer it for export.

& & &

South Korea’s KHNP Ready To Invest In Poland’s Nuclear Program

equity(NucNet) South Korea’s state-owned Korea Hydro Nuclear Power (KHNP) said it is ready to take up to a 49% equity stake in Poland’s nuclear power program.

Poland is expected to choose a technology vendor by the end of 2022. Commercial operation of a first unit in a proposed set of six is planned for 2033.

KHNP vice-president Seung-Yeol Lim told the Polish Press Agency (PAP) that the company has “sufficient financial potential” to take part in the project’s financing. Financial and legal issues will need to be resolved to close the deal.

“It is a large project requiring huge financial resources, which depends on various factors on financial markets,” he said.

Last month, KHNP presented an offer to build six of its APR-1400 pressurized water reactors (PWRs) for Poland with a combined capacity of 8.4 GW, with the first to be operational in 2033. For bench marking purposes, and assuming the reactors can be built for $5,000/KW, the six units would represent a combined investment of $42 billion from South Korea and Poland.

For the 49% equity stake, KHNP said it would, acting alone, be willing to take a 20-30% of the proposed 49% stake in Warsaw’s nuclear project. A 30% stake would represent $12.6 billion more or less depending on the actual agreed contract price for the reactors.

“This (20-30%) would be KHNP’s direct contribution to the investment. The rest would be covered by financial institutions. On the Korean side, it would be export credit agencies,” Mr. Lim said.

It isn’t clear whether the contract to develop the six reactors will be a turnkey effort or a build and operate deal. KHNP would train Polish plant operators on South Korean reactors and most likely provide continuing on-site operational support once the reactors are commissioned. Poland has no nuclear reactors of its own and would be creating the necessary entities to regulate safety and operate the plants from scratch.

It remains to be seen if Poland can raise the other $21 billion. So far, despite repeated attempts, it has not been able to arrange for a combination of government funding and investor commitments to get its program off the ground to build full size nuclear reactors.

KHNP said it expects to get financial and rate guarantees from the Polish government for the project and could seek financing from commercial banks and other countries’ export credit agencies presumably including the U.S.

The Polish government  wants to initially have 100% of shares in a company set up to invest in nuclear energy, but once a co-investor is chosen the state will maintain 51% and the co-investor will take 49%. The nuclear program requires the co-investor be related to the technology provider.

According to KHNP, it intends to provide financing for Poland’s new-build project in phases, proportionate to the progression of the capital expenditure. The firm said funds could be provided in three batches for each two units of the six-unit program with the goal to preserve competitiveness and internal rate of return for the investor.

In terms of competition, in October 2021, France’s state-controlled EDF submitted a preliminary offer to the Polish government for the construction of four to six EPR nuclear power plants at two or three different locations in Poland.

US-based Westinghouse has also formally expressed interest in the project. In July 2021, Westinghouse and US partner Bechtel agreed to provide Poland’s Polskie Elektrownie Jadrowe (PEJ) with a front-end engineering and design study for the deployment of two nuclear power stations, each consisting of three AP-1000 PWRs.

& & &

Westinghouse and Hyundai Ink Nuclear Energy MOU

Westinghouse Electric Company and Hyundai Engineering & Construction (E&C) signed a strategic cooperation agreement to jointly participate in global AP1000 plant opportunities. The signing ceremony at Hyundai E&C headquarters was led by Yoon Young-Joon, President and CEO of Hyundai E&C, and David Durham, President of Westinghouse Energy Systems, along with officials from both companies.

Yoon Young-Joon, CEO of Hyundai E&C said, “The Strategic Cooperation agreement enables Hyundai E&C to have an opportunity to demonstrate our exceptional engineering, procurement and construction capabilities applied to Westinghouse’s AP1000 plant. Also, Hyundai’s presence in the green energy sector is expected to grow by jointly participating in the global conventional nuclear power plant projects led by Westinghouse.”

“Westinghouse’s proven AP1000 technology leads the industry in safety and operational performance; we look forward to collaborating with Hyundai E&C, a global EPC leader, on future AP1000 plant projects to jointly help countries achieve their decarbonization and energy security objectives,” said David Durham, President, Westinghouse Energy Systems.

If a customer is found it will be the first time a South Korean firm will be able to participate in building the 1150 MWe PWR. Westinghouse built four AP1000s in China and will be a supplier to new CAP1000 units, the licensed Chinese version, of four more units.

Two AP 1000s are under construction in Georgia and are approaching the finish line. However, due to supply chain problems and the inherent issues associated with first of a kind units, the twin reactors have been significantly delayed and nearly doubled in cost. The Westinghouse brand must also overcome the legacy of the failed V C Summer project in South Carolina.

Further complicating matters is that Brookfield,  the Canadian parent equity firm that owns Westinghouse, has put it on the market, for the second time creating uncertainty about whether the eventual buyer will be interested in building new nuclear reactors. When Brookfield bought Westinghouse from Toshiba, it said it was primarily interested in the firm for its cash cow businesses of nuclear fuel fabrication and reactor maintenance contracts.

Hyundai Sets Roadmap For SMRs

South Korea’s Hyundai Engineering is doubling down on micro reactor sector to cement leadership in the burgeoning small modular reactor (SMR) market and hydrogen generation for carbon emission control and energy security.

It plans to secure engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) rights for micro module reactor (MMR) building in Canada, the United States, and Poland by 2029, based on its current MMR project in Chalk River, Canada. It also plans to mass-produce hydrogen using high temperatures through technological advancement.

joint venture has been formed between Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC) and Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to build, own and operate the proposed Micro Modular Reactor (MMR) project at the Chalk River Laboratories site. The joint venture – the Global First Power Limited Partnership – is owned equally by OPG and USNC-Power, the Canadian subsidiary of USNC.

Other Markets

For the nuclear power plant decommissioning and nuclear fuel cycle, the firm will participate in the design procedure of temporary storage facilities for nuclear fuels after use in domestic power plants. Based on the expertise it will gain from the work, it plans to advance into overseas markets.

It also plans to bolster its business by securing EPC rights for pyroprocessing and radioactive waste treatment facilities in South Korea if the government and the U.S. can agree to authorize it.

There have been growing concerns about nuclear waste and the management of spent fuel because so far Washington has refused to ease restrictions on the development of reprocessing facilities in South Korea to acquire enriched uranium as fuel. This policy position may change if the U.S. sees that it really needs new sources of HALEU fuel.

Separately, the South Korean government approved the proposed spending of $282 million from 2023 to 2030 to develop technologies for the dismantling of reactors taken out of service due to their age.

Hyundai E&C has working with its American partner, Holtec International, for the decommissioning of defunct nuclear power plants, starting with the Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan in Westchester County.

& & &

NuScale / Nuclearelectrica MOU to Deploy First SMR

(NucNetNuscale-Logo(Horizontal_BlueTM)wTagUS-based SMR developer NuScale has signed a memorandum of understanding with Romania’s state nuclear power corporation Nuclearelectrica. The purpose of the agreement is to conduct engineering studies, technical reviews, and licensing and permitting activities at a site in Doicesti, south-central Romania, and about 60 miles northwest of Bucharest, that is the preferred location for the deployment of what could be the first SMR in Europe.

NuScale said Romania has the potential to accommodate the first deployment of SMRs in Europe and become a catalyst for SMRs in the region, as well as a base for supporting operatorship of this new technology in other countries.

The announcement is the latest step in a partnership to bring advanced nuclear technology to Romania and “a key advancement” of an agreement signed last year . NuScale and Nuclearelectrica – operator of Romania’s only nuclear station at Cernavoda – are planning to eventually deploying a NuScale Voygr-6, six-module, 462 MWe power plant in Romania. The project would use NuScale’s 77 MWe SMR design and the first unit would be completed by 2028.

The agreement, signed with great media fanfare at the COP26 climate conference, was the only tangible commitment by the US to nuclear energy to come out of the global meeting.

In a related development, NuScale announced plans to open an “energy exploration center” that includes an SMR simulator at the University Politehnica of Bucharest to support workforce capacity building of Romania’s next generation of nuclear experts, technologists and operators. The center will be the first of its kind overseas. There are three in the US, at Oregon State University, the University of Idaho and Texas A&M University.”

The United States Trade and Development Agency awarded a grant to Nuclearelectrica in early 2021 for a study to identify and assess several sites across Romania, including locations where existing coal-fired power plants could be replaced with SMR plants. The funding amount for the project was not disclosed.

The study, by US firm Sargent & Lundy, identified several potential suitable sites, including the Doicesti site, which Nuclearelectrica has determined to be the preferred location for the first SMR deployment.

Nuclearelectrica chief executive officer Cosmin Ghita said the site selection is “a great first step for Romania in our SMR roadmap, after more than three years from our first MoU with NuScale, in which we analyzed the technology, its safety, its maturity and its readiness towards deployment and meeting Romania’s energy security and decarbonation goals.”

& & &

NRC Staff Says Nuscale Design Is Safe

(Reuters) – nrc logoFollowing the release of an ambiguous statement in May that appeared to indicate the NRC might reopen NuScale’s license to build its 50 MWe SMR, the agency’s reactor regulation staff said this week that its evaluations are acceptable and that updates to design approval are unnecessary.

“Based on the material reviewed, the … staff continues to conclude that there is reasonable assurance of adequate protection,” the staff said in a note from Andrea Veil, the director of the NRC’s reactor regulation office.

The statement by the reactor regulation staff put an end to speculation that there was a deficiency in the license granted to NuScale by the agency.

NuScale Power Corp’s (SMR.N) design for a new kind of nuclear reactor is adequate to protect the project from damage by earthquakes, staff at the agency said in documents seen by Reuters.

The flurry of media activity around the NRC’s statements was initially addressed by the agency’s public affairs staff. Scott Burnell, an NRC spokesperson, downplayed the move saying Dorman wanted staff there to better document their work on the reactor’s earthquake protection.

“The bottom line is that the agency’s standard design approval remains valid for the NuScale 50 MW/module design,” Burnell said in an email to the news media.

The issue arose after NRC engineer John Ma raised concerns about the project’s vulnerability to earthquakes. Ma’s position was supported by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Edwin Lyman, the director of nuclear power safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists said an independent panel of experts external to the NRC should evaluate Ma’s concerns. The NRC did not take any action related to Lyman’s request.

NuScale plans to build multiple small modular reactors (SMR) at the Idaho National Laboratory for UAMPS, its customer, with the first unit coming online in 2029.

& & &

Vietnam Airs Prospect Of Resuming Nuclear Power Development

(Vietnam English language business wires) Vietnam’s industry minister, Nguyen Hong Dien, told the national assembly that developing nuclear power is an “inevitable trend,” He said the ministry may be considering resuming a plan to construct nuclear power plants after the program was suspended six years ago. At that time Vietnam had an ambitious plan to build four 1000 MWe reactors, but it abandoned the program due to its cost.

The proposed nuclear plants, with a combined capacity of 4,000 megawatts, were due to be built by Russia’s Rosatom and Japan Atomic Power Co. in the central province of Ninh Thuan.

One of the reasons for the proposed project was to provide electrical power to exploit bauxite mines in the central highlands. In turn it would supply a planned aluminum smelter that would support export of the metal in ingots for export and also help develop a manufacturing center for finished aluminum products.

Dien also said Vietnam will boost development of renewable energy following a commitment made in November last year to become carbon neutral by 2050, but stressed this week that it still needed a “stable energy source.”

Dien said plans to develop the country’s first nuclear power plants were “suspended, not completely cancelled,” according to the government statement.

“We can’t develop more coal-fired power plants, while the country’s hydropower potential has been fully tapped,” Dien said.

& & &

Alaska Governor DunLeavy Signs Micro Reactor Bill

State_Seal_of_Alaska.svg(Alaskan Business Wires) Alaskan Gov. Mike Dunleavy signed legislation that could help bring nuclear microreactors to Alaska in an effort to help villages lower high electricity prices.

Senate Bill 177, introduced by the governor early this year and passed by the Alaska Legislature, streamlines regulatory procedures so that Alaska communities can pursue using the nuclear microreactors.

Nuclear microreactors are being considered as a potential alternative for Alaska villages that rely on diesel fuel for electricity, or for industrial sites like mines. Any installation of a microreactor would not happen for several years, the governor’s office said.

Currently, the U.S. Air Force is evaluating a plan to install a microreactor at Eielson Air Force Base by 2027. And Copper Valley Electric Association is also considering one in Valdez.

The microreactors could be shipped to Alaska villages by barge, and connected to existing micro power grid. The idea is to reduce power prices in rural Alaska using nuclear power instead of expensive and dirty diesel powered generation.

According to news media reports about the Alaska Sustainable Energy Conference, nuclear reactor vendors are already communicating their marketing messages to potential prospects.

Westinghouse is promoting its preliminary design of a micro reactor. Michael Valore, speaking for Westinghouse Electric, said nuclear waste from its eVinci microreactor system would not be left in villages.

“We bring the unit with the fuel in it, and we take the reactor away with the fuel in it,” Valore said. “There is no radiated material handling required in any remote area of Alaska with this design.It does not need to be refueled in Alaska., We designed this to be almost a drop-in type replacement for diesel generation.”

A representative of another vendor, Mary Woollen, with Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp. based in Seattle, is working on a feasibility study of the technology for the Copper Valley Electric Association.

Woollen said the microreactors use safe designs and technology. Temperatures in the reactor would not be hot enough to cause a meltdown, and the amount of waste the company would remove every 20 years would be about the size of a refrigerator.

“It simply can’t melt down,” she said.

Actual construction of a micro reactor for an Alaskan village is years in the future even if a lot of folks in the state are thinking about it now.

# # #

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