The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is set to hold a confirmation hearing today for Dan Brouillette, President Donald Trump's choice to replace Rick Perry as head of the Energy Department. Perry plans to leave office on Dec. 1.
The Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and Princeton University researchers have developed a three-foot-tall robot capable of identifying nuclear radiation sources using detectors that measure the level of neutron energy being emitted. The team hopes to develop fully autonomous inspector bots that can navigate independently and communicate with other bots during inspections.
Southern Nuclear President Stephen Kuczynski told a Georgia Public Service Commission hearing that the firm is on schedule to have Units 3 and 4 of the Vogtle nuclear power plant in commercial operation by the revised targets of Nov. 2021 and Nov. 2022. Kuczynski said the revised timeline "is a challenge, but achievable."
Some lawmakers are questioning how Centrus Energy Corp. received a $115 million no-bid contract from the Department of Energy to demonstrate production of high-assay low-enriched uranium fuel for use in advanced nuclear reactors. In a letter to the Energy Department, the lawmakers are requesting a response to specific questions by Dec. 3.
The US Army Corps of Engineers told residents living near the Niagara Falls Storage Site in Lewiston, N.Y., that a feasibility study for removal of radioactive waste left over from the Manhattan Project indicates it will take several years to complete. The project will cost between $25 million and $37 million and will be funded by the federal government as part of the Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program.
Berkeley-based Deep Isolation is working with NAC International to develop Deep Isolation's design for a horizontal borehole canister storage repository to contain spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste. Deep Isolation says the horizontal repository design could be more cost-effective than mined sites like the Yucca Mountain storage facility.
French utility Electricite de France has cut its 2019 French nuclear power generation target due to the shutdown of three reactors at its Cruas nuclear power plant following an earthquake. EDF says it "anticipates a gradual return to service for the reactors at the Cruas plant during the first half of December."
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis is moving to speed up construction of the planned new reactor at the Dukovany nuclear power plant and has pushed to 2022 the deadline for picking a supplier to build it. The previous target was 2023 or 2024.
Electricite de France CEO Jean-Bernard Levy told French lawmakers that the utility is working with its reactor unit, Framatome, to improve its EPR reactor design to be more cost-competitive, with a target of $77 per megawatt hour. "For those (countries) who choose nuclear energy, we want to offer a price level that is on par with gas, with the additional advantages of energy independence and low-carbon power production," Levy told a French Senate hearing.
While the US and Europe may be slowing nuclear power development due to cost increases and competition from other energy sources, China and Russia continue to keep nuclear in the energy mix with funding support from the government, according to S&P Global Ratings. "We expect the credit trajectories of nuclear companies worldwide to differ depending on national energy policies and the degree of state support for nuclear," said S&P analyst Elena Anankina.
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