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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

SNUPPS - Why it mattered then, and should now

Over on the ANS Nuclear Cafe blog, a large and detailed (if not overly involved or technical) article on the SNUPPS nuclear power plant construction project which I wrote has just been published.  My friend and colleague Glenn Williams provided invaluable help both in providing supporting information and peer review for this piece on what must certainly be considered the ultimate conceptual development for project management in the flood of new nuclear plant construction of the 1970's.

The question I need to answer here is this:  Why did I write it?

Frequently today in many varied discussions using every kind of media you can imagine (including the old ones like face-to-face and the phone) I find that knowledge of SNUPPS is non-existent.  Sure, some people have heard of it, but know little or nothing of what it actually was or how it was supposed to operate. 

I first learned about it as a "new nuke" back in about 1988 when I picked up a copy of "The Second Nuclear Era," which mentioned the project a number of times and pointed toward its advanced, standardized (duplicate, actually) nuclear plant design approach.  That book, however, gave no real details of the program.  Since then I've been curious about it and have wanted to write on it.  This reached a crescendo lately as discussions about how new nuclear plant construction in the United States could ever go forward considering the delays and overruns we're seeing with the new plants being built.  I decided that since every time I mentioned an integrated approach such as SNUPPS for US utilities, should they decide to work together, I got either silence or blank stares or even sometimes good questions, it was time to put permanently on the internet something that could show what the concepts of the program were, a bit of how it was carried out, and what some of the challenges turned out to be.

SNUPPS mattered then because of the enormous costs being incurred by delay, and the growing costs of regulation.  The program sought to cut these in an innovative way.  We see these problems now, today.  And they're not going to disappear.

So, having said all that, follow this link to ANS Nuclear Cafe and check out the article.  Feel free to comment on it or ask further questions.  I think we need ... dare I say it ... a paradigm shift again, and something like SNUPPS' management setup could allow a general approach by multiple, disparate utilities to get plants built en masse.

4:10 PM Eastern 3/17/2015

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

SMART SMR Moves Ahead - in Saudi Arabia and at Home

SMART SMR Nuclear Plant Integrated Design Concept, courtesy KAERI
It has been announced that South Korea and Saudi Arabia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which includes the construction of SMART Small Modular Reactor nuclear plants.

This follows the formation in January of a separate company to promote export of the SMART SMR.  See the text of Korea Atomic Energy Institute's press release on the formation of SMART Power Company below:


{SPC (SMART Power Co.), an entity responsible for the export of the indigenously developed 100MWe small integral reactor SMART was launched on January 29, 2015.

SPC’s full-fledged activities began with the opening ceremony that took place at its head office building in S Tower, Gwanghwamun, Seoul, with the attendance of important figures from politics and finance such as the invested companies’ CEO, former Prime Minister, lawmakers as well as relevant people from Office for Government Policy Coordination, MSIP and KAERI.

SMART is an integral-type small reactor, developed in 2012 after 15 years of research. It received the first-ever Standard Design Approval (SDA) from a regulatory body for a 100MWe (330MWth) integral reactor. SMART generates only a 1/10 of a large nuclear plant (over 1,000 MWe), but since it is an integral-type reactor it has enhanced the inherent safety by containing  major  components such as a pressurizer, steam generator, and reactor coolant pumps in a single reactor pressure vessel.  It was designed especially for export and can supply a city with a population of 100,000 with 90 Mw electricity and 40 thousand tons of fresh water per day concurrently. .

SPC, founded with the investment of capital and manpower from 6 corporations, including POSCO E&C, PONU Tech, and DAEWOO E&C, will make its proactive activities to promote the export of SMART by devising customized export strategies aligned with the demands of potential importers and by carrying out PR and joint feasibility studies in these countries.

MSIP plans to  form a government-supported consultative body  with the Office for Government Policy Coordination, the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy (MOTIE) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) to support SMART export cooperation activities and private businesses.

Keung Koo  Kim, Director  of the SMART Development Division, mentioned that "the potential importers of SMART are countries with small scale electric power grids, countries with scattered population that have difficulty in building grids for a large scale nuclear plant, or those with water shortages" and also pointed out that " Middle East countries that need seawater desalination facilities are one of the prime potential importers." }


It might go without saying, but it was necessary for KAERI - who developed the SMART SMR in the first place - to find some other outlet if it wished this design to move forward, since KEPCO (Korea Electric Power Company) had no desire to build small power plants in the size range SMART would provide.  Proof of this can be found in the ever-increasing size of plants being put on the South Korean grid -- now, the units under construction are model APR1400 which will deliver 1400 MWe to the grid, not the 100 MWe promised by the SMART single unit plant.

SMART SMR exterior view and cutaway (courtesy KAERI) shows classic iPWR configuration
According to early reporting of the deal by Korea Herald the MOU will see a three year development program launched, which will determine feasibility of building SMART SMR nuclear plants in Saudi Arabia.  The feasibility studies will be done by 2018 under this agreement; if plans go forward with one to two units the contracts (again according to early reporting) could amount to as much as $2 billion.

Alan Ahn of the Global America Business Institute, Washington D.C. observes that with "100% Korean technology, a US type 1-2-3 agreement is not required."  Ahn points out that the lack of such agreements definitely "poses barriers" for export of nuclear plants incorporating US technology. 

It is beginning to appear if South Korea is "hitting on all cylinders" now when it comes to nuclear plant export.  The APR1400 plants at Barakah, UAE are on time and on budget.  Now, a MOU (which definitely is not an order for plants, but is definitely the first step) for the KAERI designed SMR is on the books and real, meaningful work studying the construction of power plants using this design in arid locations is about to begin.

I will follow this development and update the story as other details emerge.

1:42 PM Eastern 3/3/2015

Monday, March 2, 2015

New Links / Reports on Fukushima Daiichi Accident Reports Page

I've added some new links on this blog's "Fukushima Daiichi Accident Reports" page.  Use the link below to get to that page (always also accessible from the right sidebar) and then scroll all the way down.  Particularly the first two links there offer a major spread of further links that could encompass hours worth of reading material on the latest information from METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan) as well as from the IAEA.

Fukushima Daiichi Accident Reports at Atomic Power Review

We're of course watching for results from the muon detection method which it's hoped will fairly accurately detail the location of melted nuclear fuel in the containment vessels / reactor vessels of Units 1, 2 and 3 and will report on that here if and when any details emerge.  The process takes a lot of time, so quick results or preliminary findings aren't really expected.

1:15 PM Eastern 3/2/2015