US Nuclear Power Update

According to the World Nuclear Association’s Weekly Digest first concrete was poured on two new US nuclear power reactors — the Summer 2 and the Vogtle 3. I previously discussed some of the dynamics behind this nuclear “renaissance.”

The concrete basemat for South Carolina Electric & Gas’ (SCE&G) Summer-2 reactor has been poured in a 51-hour operation. Three days later that for Vogtle-3 was undertaken in 41 hours. The pours had been delayed for months because of discrepancies between construction plans and the original design documents. The NRC approved license amendments earlier this month that allowed the concrete pour of the 1.8m thick foundations to proceed. These are the first such construction starts in the USA in three decades. SCE&G is building two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at the Summer site, each 1117 MWe net. Southern Nuclear is building another two AP1000 units at its Vogtle site. Reactor pressure vessels and steam generators for all units will come from Doosan in South Korea. The four units are expected to enter commercial operation in 2017 and 2018 in each case. There are also four Westinghouse AP1000 reactors under construction in China, at Sanmen and Haiyang, the first two of which are expected on line next year.

This comes on the heels of the February 2013 decommissioning of Duke Energy’s 860 MWe Crystal River PWR in Florida due to damage to the containment structure sustained when new steam generators were fitted in 2009-10, under previous owner Progress Energy. Its 40-year operating licence was due to expire in 2016. Some $835 million in insurance was claimed. Additionally, Dominion Energy’s 566 MWe Kewaunee PWR in Wisconsin is due to be decommissioned in May 2013, after 39 years operation.

For more, see Nuclear Power in the USA.