Federal Government uses UPLAN model to examine price volatility in ERCOT

LCG, October 11, 2022--The U.S. Energy Information Administration, or EIA, released its latest supplement to the Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) in the Texas market, assessing various possible scenarios using LCG’s UPLAN NPM model, with a special focus on the effects on wholesale power prices and market conditions.

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Michigan Governor Supports Reopening Palisades Nuclear Facility

LCG, September 16, 2022--The Governor of Michigan last week sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in support of Holtec International’s application for a federal grant under the Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) program to save the Palisades Nuclear Facility in Southwest Michigan. The federal grant could result in restarting the baseload, carbon-free, nuclear power plant.

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Industry News

U.S. Department of Energy Announces First Awards under Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program

LCG, October 16, 2020--The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) this week announced it has selected two U.S.-based teams to receive $160 million in initial funding under the new Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP). The ARDP is designed to help domestic private industry demonstrate advanced nuclear reactors in the United States.

The U.S. Secretary of Energy stated, "The awards are the first step of a new program that will strengthen American leadership in the next generation of nuclear technologies. These partnerships will help maximize DOE's investment in advanced reactors, which play a vital role in our clean energy strategy."

"DOE and U.S. industry are extremely well-equipped to develop and demonstrate nuclear reactors with the requisite sense of urgency, which is important not only to our economy, but to our environment, because nuclear energy is clean energy," said the Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy.

DOE is awarding TerraPower LLC and X-energy $80 million each in initial funding to build two advanced nuclear reactors that can be operational within seven years. The awards are cost-shared partnerships with industry that will deliver two first-of-a-kind, carbon-free advanced reactors to be licensed for commercial operations. The DOE plans to invest a total of $3.2 billion over seven years, subject to the availability of future appropriations, with our industry partners providing matching funds.

TerraPower teamed up with GE-Hitachi, Bechtel and Energy Northwest to develop Natrium, a sodium-cooled fast reactor that leverages technologies used in solar thermal generation systems. Natrium couples a 345 MWe nuclear reactor with a molten salt energy storage system that can flexibly operate with renewable power sources. The simplified design and decoupling of nuclear and non-nuclear systems allow for expedited licensing and construction. The team expects to reduce the amount of nuclear-grade concrete required for the plant by 80% compared to traditional large-scale reactors.

The thermal energy storage system will help boost power production to 500 MWe and improve the economics of the plant by matching grid demand or providing other services, such as the production of hydrogen. The demo project includes an initial one-year scope to start the design and licensing of an enrichment facility that would support the fueling of advanced reactors with high-assay, low-enriched uranium.

The president of Bechtel's Nuclear, Security & Environmental global business unit said, "This award is a pivotal moment for the future of resilient, reliable, low-carbon energy in the United States. It will shape the industry for decades to come and create the opportunity for a leap forward in innovative plant design, engineering, and construction - all aimed at making advanced nuclear competitive in cost and complementary to wind and solar. This is exactly the innovation we hope to bring to the Natrium team."

X-energy is partnering with Energy Northwest and Burns & McDonnell to develop its Xe-100 reactor and specialized uranium-based pebble fuel. The demonstration project will consist of a four-unit, 320 MWe plant that uses high-temperature helium gas to produce heat and electricity more efficiently. It leverages previously DOE-supported high-temperature gas technologies, and the fuel used is TRi-structural ISOtropic particle fuel (TRISO). Each 80 MWe reactor continuously refuels, meaning it can operate for a very long time before needing maintenance that might normally be done during refueling outages. The major components will also be factory-fabricated, making the plant faster and cheaper to build. The project includes the completion of X-energy's TRISO fuel fabrication facility that would support additional advanced reactor designs that choose to use this specialized fuel, such as high-temperature molten salt and gas reactors.

Both projects incorporate a range of design features to enhance safety and make them affordable to construct and operate, and to provide a foundation for the United States to deploy carbon-free, highly competitive advanced reactors domestically and globally.
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