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Suggested Citation:"2 Nuclear Power 2010." National Research Council. 2008. Review of DOE's Nuclear Energy Research and Development Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11998.
×

2
Nuclear Power 2010

BACKGROUND

The Nuclear Power 2010 (NP 2010) program1 was established by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as a budget line item in 2002 to support the near-term deployment of new nuclear plants in accordance with the roadmap (NERAC, 2001) prepared for DOE by its Nuclear Energy Research Advisory Committee (NERAC). The overall purpose of NP 2010 is to help achieve the goals of the National Energy Policy Development Group (NEPDG, 2001):

  • Enhance long-term energy independence and improve the reliability of electricity generation, with minimal air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions;

  • Increase diversity in the U.S. energy portfolio;

  • Expand the contribution of nuclear power to the U.S. energy portfolio; and

  • Address technical, safety/regulatory, and institutional challenges to the deployment of new nuclear plants.

NP 2010 is a 50/50 government/industry cost-shared effort with the following objectives:

  • Identify sites for new near-term nuclear power plants and obtain early site permits (ESPs).

  • Complete detailed, first-of-a-kind design engineering on two advanced light water reactor (ALWR) plants and confirm the safety of the designs by obtaining design certifications (DCs).

  • Obtain combined construction and operating licenses (COLs) in keeping with the Standardization Policy (10 CFR Part 52) of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC).

  • Develop an effective Inspection, Testing, Analyses and Acceptance Criteria (ITAAC) process to assure licensing compliance during construction.

  • Implement the standby support provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct05) for the construction of new nuclear plants.

  • Determine the capital costs and operation and maintenance costs, construction time, and levelized cost of electricity for the two plants.

  • Evaluate the business case for building new nuclear power plants and pave the way for an industry decision to build new ALWR nuclear plants in the United States. Construction would begin early in the next decade.

DOE’s responsibilities end with the issuance of the COL by the USNRC, completion of first-of-a-kind engineering for the AP1000 and Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) standard plant designs, and implementation of the standby support and loan guarantee financial incentives of EPAct05.

Based on these results, responsibility for the procurement and construction of new nuclear plants rests solely with the nuclear industry.

Program Background

The NP 2010 program is the culmination of a cooperative research, development, and deployment (RD&D) effort in the 1980s and 1990s between DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) and industry to develop improved light water reactor (LWR) systems for initial expansion, making them safer, smaller, and simpler, standardized and prelicensed by the USNRC, and competitive with nonnuclear alternatives. The program was initiated in the early 1980s by the U.S. utilities under the technical management of the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and grew into a broad cooperative effort, the ALWR program2 (Taylor and Santucci, 1997). Participants included DOE, the U.S. utility members

1

Department of Energy, Office of Nuclear Energy, Nuclear Power 2010 Plan Overview, January 2006. Available at http://www.ne.doe.gov/np2010/neNP2010a.html.

2

G. Vine, EPRI, “DOE’s light water reactor R&D program: An industry perspective,” Presentation to the committee on October 17, 2006.

Suggested Citation:"2 Nuclear Power 2010." National Research Council. 2008. Review of DOE's Nuclear Energy Research and Development Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11998.
×

of EPRI, major international utilities in Europe and Asia, and qualified reactor suppliers, all of whom cofunded the program. DOE established cooperative agreements with industry by which their management responsibilities could be discharged. USNRC was kept fully informed of progress, commented on the results of the program, and performed independent confirmatory analyses and experiments. A prime utility goal was to oversee the development of the utility requirements documents (URDs) (EPRI, 1990) to provide owner-operator guidelines to the designers of the new plants. A key purpose of the URDs was to apply the lessons learned in the first worldwide deployment of nuclear power, focused on increased safety, reliability, design, and operational simplification and integration. In 1992, a National Research Council (NRC) report on nuclear power encouraged continuation of that R&D effort on ALWRs (NRC, 1992).

Testing was completed on two 600-MWe designs featuring passive emergency core and containment cooling systems: the Westinghouse pressurized water reactor (PWR) AP600 and the General Electric (GE) simplified boiling water reactor (SBWR), on which the power-upgraded Westinghouse AP10003 and the GE ESBWR4 are based. Design certifications were obtained from USNRC for the AP600, the evolutionary advanced BWR (ABWR),5 and the advanced PWR System 80+.6

With rising concern over global warming, rapidly increasing energy prices, greatly improved performance of existing LWR plants with average capacity factors exceeding 90 percent, and the stimulation of U.S. energy policy (NEPDG, 2001), DOE sponsored the NP 2010 program, cost-shared with U.S industry. The principal focus of NP 2010 was to move beyond R&D to the deployment of new nuclear plants.

Approach to Evaluation

The criteria used in the evaluation of NP 2010 were those provided in the committee’s statement of task. The remainder of this chapter contains three main sections:

  • Overall program description,

  • Goals, timetables, and progress, and

  • Committee recommendations.

The areas covered under program description include primary milestones, licensing demonstration, costs, management responsibilities and organizations, standardization, ITAAC, infrastructure needs, setting priorities, oversight methods and metrics, cooperative industry–government R&D, economic issues, and EPAct05. The program descriptions are derived from DOE and industry documentation, presentations by DOE management, nuclear consortia leaders, and industry representatives from the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) and EPRI. The penultimate section brings the goals and timetables up to date and assesses progress. The final section presents the committee’s recommendations.

OVERALL PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

Primary Milestones

The NP 2010 program includes the following technical goals7,8:

  • Demonstrate key untested regulatory processes.

    • ESPs

      • Obtain three ESPs.

    • DCs for new reactors

      • Obtain approval of AP1000 design certification amendments.

      • Complete ongoing design certification of the ESBWR.

    • COLs

      • Provide guidance on COL generic issues.

      • Obtain USNRC acceptance of AP1000 and ES-BWR COL applications.

      • Complete ITAAC demonstrations.

      • Obtain two COLs.

  • Complete first-of-a-kind engineering (design finalization) of new standardized nuclear plant designs to provide improved safety, reliability, and economy.

  • Determine the plant’s capital and O&M costs, construction time, and levelized cost of electricity.

  • Provide technical support for risk insurance definitions (standby support) for the first six new U.S. nuclear plants (legislated in EPAct05).

Licensing Demonstration

Status

DOE solicited proposals from industry for New Plant Licensing Projects and design completions that would dem-

3

G. Davis, Westinghouse, “The certified AP1000 standard design,” Presentation to the committee on November 8, 2006.

4

R. Kingston, GE, “New units: ESBWR and ABWR,” Presentation to the committee on November 8, 2006. See also D. Hinds and C. Maslak, The next generation of nuclear energy: The ESBWR, Nuclear News, American Nuclear Society, January 2006: 35-40.

5

See Nuclear Energy Institute, New Reactor Designs: General Electric Advanced Boiling Water Reactor, 2006. Available at http://www.nei.org/keyissues/newnuclearplants/newreactordesigns/.

6

 See Energy Information Administration, New Reactor Designs. Available at http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/nuclear/page/analysis/nucenviss_2.html/.

7

R. Smith-Kevern, Acting Associate Director, Office of Nuclear Power Technology, DOE, “Nuclear Power 2010,” Presentation to the committee on August 24, 2006.

8

T. Miller, Deputy Director, “Light water reactor deployment,” Presentation to the committee on October 17, 2006.

Suggested Citation:"2 Nuclear Power 2010." National Research Council. 2008. Review of DOE's Nuclear Energy Research and Development Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11998.
×

onstrate the validity of the USNRC 10 CFR Part 52 process and its related standardization policy in assuring a reasonably predictable path to completion of design, construction, and start of operation of new nuclear plants. Two consortia of utilities responded to DOE’s request for proposal, accepting the primary goals stated above. DOE subsequently entered into contracts with the two consortia. USNRC committed to the licensing reviews required. Congress provided incentives through EPAct05 to enable the utilities to make prudent investments to build the first six plants.

The NuStart Consortium9 is made up of utilities, which include Constellation Energy, Duke, EDF-INA, Entergy, Exelon, FPL, Progress Energy, SCANA, the Southern Company, and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the reactor suppliers GE and Westinghouse. The NuStart cooperative agreement provides for the preparation of two COL applications and the submission of one application to the USNRC following a down-selection process for one technology at one site. NuStart is currently preparing COL applications for the ESBWR at Entergy’s Grand Gulf, Mississippi, site as well as the AP1000 at Exelon’s Clinton, Illinois, site and TVA’s Bellefonte, Alabama, site.

The Dominion Consortium10 comprises Dominion, Constellation Energy, GE, and Bechtel. Its cooperative agreement includes preparation and submission of a COL for the North Anna, Virginia, site with the GE ESBWR as the selected reactor design. The designs of both the ESBWR and the AP1000 are being funded with direct cost-sharing agreements between DOE and the companies producing the reactor designs.

A TVA-led consortium has completed a study,11 under NP 2010 sponsorship, of cost, schedule, and design changes needed to deploy the GE design-certified evolutionary ABWR at the Bellefonte, Alabama, site (TVA, 2005). The consortium is not active at this time. Another consortium, Unistar, made up of Constellation Energy, AREVA, and Bechtel Power Corporation, is not participating in NP 2010 but is planning to submit an application to USNRC for a COL and the design certification of the French 1,600-MWe evolutionary pressurized water reactor (EPR) from AREVA (DOE, 2004).

Timetables

The overall schedules call for obtaining the ESPs this year, the DC for the ESBWR by April 2010, the DC amendment approval for the AP1000 by July 2008, the COLs by early FY 2011, and finalization of the two designs by mid-FY 2011. The milestones for completion of the new nuclear power plant licenses by the consortia are shown in Table 2-1. The USNRC has adopted as a planning assumption that the required public hearings on ESP and COL applications will take up to 1 year to complete, following the issuance of the Safety Evaluation Report (SER) for a COL, before an ESP or a COL can be granted. This additional year is not included in the dates for USNRC approval of COLs in the DOE estimates shown in Table 2-1.

As of August 2007, a total of 14 companies, including those in Table 2-1, had announced their intent to seek a COL for a new nuclear plant: TVA, Progress Energy, Duke, South Carolina Electric and Gas, Southern, Dominion, Entergy, Constellation, Ameren, PPL, Amarillo Power, Alternate Energy Holdings, NRG, and TXU. Four of these companies are seeking, or have received, an ESP that could be referenced in a COL proceeding.

Design Finalization

A substantial portion of the plant designs will be completed to obtain a COL, but much more remains to encompass all features of the entire plant. The 5-year program plan of DOE’s Office of Light Water Reactor Deployment for NP 2010, issued in January 2007, schedules completion of the full ESBWR design early in FY 2011 (DC in mid-FY 2010) and completion of the AP1000 first-of-a-kind engineering design in mid-FY 2011 (DC in early FY 2006). Start of construction is set at the end of FY 2010 for both designs, before design finalization.

Costs

The funding levels of the DOE cost share of NP 2010 for FY 2005, FY 2006, and FY 2007 were $49.6 million, $65.3 million, and $80.3 million, respectively. The FY 2008 budget request for NP 2010 is $114 million. As of March 2007, the DOE estimated cost to complete NP 2010 was $550 million, leaving $240.8 million for FY 2009 and FY 2010.12,13

This funding is matched by the Dominion and NuStart consortia, including both GE and Westinghouse. The level of funding is about equal for each consortium and includes the payments to the USNRC to cover their licensing work. The largest portion of the funding supports the design engineering effort. DOE reports that industry is current with its contributions.14

Industry has testified that NP 2010 funding will not maintain the program’s momentum, recommending that DOE FY 2008 funding be increased to $183 million (Bowman, 2007).

9

M. Kray, Exelon/NuStart, Presentation to the committee on October 17, 2006.

10

E. Grecheck, Dominion Energy, Presentation to the committee on October 17, 2006.

11

See also R. Ganthner, AREVA, Presentation to the committee on November 8, 2006.

12

R. Smith-Kevern, Acting Associate Director, Office of Nuclear Power Technology, DOE. “Nuclear Power 2010.” Presentation to the committee on August 24, 2006.

13

T. Miller, Deputy Director, “Light water reactor deployment,” Presentation to the committee on October 17, 2006.

14

Communication between the DOE and a committee member on September 11, 2007.

Suggested Citation:"2 Nuclear Power 2010." National Research Council. 2008. Review of DOE's Nuclear Energy Research and Development Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11998.
×

TABLE 2-1 New Nuclear Plant Licensing Demonstration Project Milestones (as of April 15, 2007)

Utility/Site

Early Site Permit

Design Certification

Construction and Operating License

Dominion/North Anna, Va.

USNRC approvala May 2007.

ESBWR application in; USNRC approval April 2010.

Application submittal November 2007; USNRC approval April 2010.

NuStart-Entergy/Grand Gulf, Miss.

Permita granted April 2007.

As above.

Application submittal February 2008; USNRC approval April 2010.

NuStart-Entergy/River Bend, La.

USNRC approval December 2007.

As above.

Application submittal November 2008; USNRC approval February 2011.

NuStart-Exelon/Clinton, Ill.

USNRC approval August 2006; permit granted March 2007.

Westinghouse AP1000 DC received December 2005; USNRC approval of potential amendments July 2008.

Application submittal February 2009; USNRC approval September 2011.

NuStart-Duke/TVA-Bellefonte, Ala.

Not determined.

As above.

Application submittal October 2007; USNRC approval July 2010.

aAfter USNRC approval of the ESP application, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board holds a public hearing; upon satisfactory completion of the hearing, the USNRC commissioners grant the permit.

Industry further recommends (Bowman, 2007) that the total NP 2010 funding be increased by $354 million to enable completion of the full NP 2010 scope in a timely manner, requiring a $177 million increase by both DOE and industry to maintain the 50 percent cost-share agreement.

Management Responsibilities and Organizations

Office of Nuclear Energy

The Office of Light Water Reactor Deployment at NE provides overall management of the NP 2010 program, including program planning and development, program management and monitoring, preparation and approval of procurement solicitations, contractor award selection, conduct of program reviews and corrective action completion, program funding authority to the operations offices and the national laboratories, and dissemination of program information to DOE management and stakeholders. NE staff serve as project managers for specific projects, where they are responsible for overall oversight, performance monitoring, and management of functions related to the projects.

NE has assigned NP 2010 staff to interface with their project counterparts from the power companies and reactor vendors as well as other subcontractors during the course of their project management and oversight duties. As part of their management and oversight duties, NE-NP 2010 staff periodically meet with USNRC staff to advise them on the status of NP 2010 and to be advised on USNRC plans for handling the licensing load. NE staff also participate in various industry committees and task forces coordinated by the NEI to assure that industry concerns are fully addressed.

Industry Consortia

The industry consortia have responded to the DOE solicitation, proposing projects, activities, and funding requirements as partners on the licensing demonstration projects for ESPs, DCs, and the COLs. Pursuant to contracts with DOE, the industry consortia selected by DOE are responsible for the management and completion of project activities, including those activities subcontracted, interfacing with and reporting to DOE on project progress and financial status. DOE also entered into a cooperative agreement with the EPRI to develop generic COL application guidance and resolve generic issues that would affect the licensing demonstration projects.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

USNRC can issue an ESP for approval of one or more sites for one or more nuclear power facilities separate from filing an application for a construction permit or a combined license. The review of an ESP application may address site safety issues, environmental protection issues, and plans for coping with emergencies, independent of the review of a specific nuclear plant design. An ESP can be referenced for up 20 years and can be renewed for up to 20 years. USNRC review of a DC application addresses the safety issues surrounding a new nuclear power plant design independent of a specific site. Once issued, the DC can be referenced for up to 15 years. It can also be renewed for an additional 15 years.

The USNRC will docket and, subsequent to satisfactory review and comment on all safety aspects of the applicant’s power plant design and site, issue a COL to the applicant to

Suggested Citation:"2 Nuclear Power 2010." National Research Council. 2008. Review of DOE's Nuclear Energy Research and Development Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11998.
×

build and operate the plant. The COL will be consistent with the relevant ESP and design certification. USNRC reports that it expects 21 applications for 32 new units in the 2007-2009 time period.15 In addition, four companies are pursuing ESPs at seven sites; GE, Westinghouse, and Areva are pursuing DCs or amendments to existing DCs; and Mitsubishi is planning to apply to USNRC for a SER and a DC.

This surge of interest in new plants arises from

  • Financial incentives in EPAct05, including

    • Requirement for first concrete by 2013 in order to be eligible for production tax credits,

    • Limitation of the risk insurance to the first six plants, with a higher level of support for the first two plants than for the next four plants, and

    • Availability of the financial incentives on a first-come, first-served basis.

  • Requirements for new base-load capacity by utilities in the Southeast before 2015.

  • The probability of some form of carbon constraint (or tax) in the near future.

To support the anticipated number of new nuclear plants, USNRC is updating its regulations, regulatory guides, standard review plans, and other guidance documents governing the licensing and operation of new nuclear power plants (Reyes, 2006), so that these will be in place prior to the receipt of the first COL application, expected in the fall of 2007.

The USNRC is responding to needs for future application reviews by estimating the durations of the reviews and the resources needed (in staff, dollars, and technical assistance) to complete the reviews, ensuring the availability of critical skills within the agency or through contracts; and by developing the regulatory infrastructure to support future licensing reviews. On August 28, 2007, the USNRC published in the Federal Register the revisions to Part 52, effective September 27, 2007, which establish key rules governing new plant licensing activities (USNRC, 2006).

In addition to the large number of ESP, DC, and COL licensing reviews for new plants discussed above, USNRC is also expected to review license extensions for many of the current nuclear plants and to begin the licensing process for the Yucca Mountain repository in the same period. Because of this increased workload, the USNRC is currently understaffed and is planning to add 200 staff every year for the next 3 years. Additional staff members will help to handle the extra work, but they must be trained for this purpose, which will take up to a year depending on the level of expertise required to process the applications.

Organizational changes are being made to better handle this heavy workload. In late 2006, USNRC established an Office of New Reactors to focus on licensing and building new nuclear power plants in the near term. It has also established the Human Capital Council, which is preparing plans to strengthen the workforce by upgrading their knowledge, increasing their numbers, and qualifying their staff to perform specific review tasks. The Government Accountability Office has completed an assessment of the personnel situation, observing that about one-third of USNRC’s workforce with mission-critical skills will be eligible to retire through FY 2010 (GAO, 2007).

USNRC is holding periodic public meetings with the industry to provide a common understanding of the emerging licensing framework for new plants. The early meetings indicate that considerable additional material will be required from the applicants. For example, USNRC is proposing that the applicant apply lessons learned in plant design and operational programs to minimize radioactive contamination, reduce radwaste by-products, and facilitate the ultimate decommissioning, through license termination after 60 years of operation.

National Laboratories

The national laboratories, including the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), provide limited support to DOE’s NP 2010 program. So far, laboratory technical support in several key areas has been used for soil characterization, spent fuel transportation analysis, and economic analysis. The national laboratories are also contracted by USNRC to provide technical support on USNRC reviews of nuclear plant safety issues.

Standardization

DOE and the industry have placed strong emphasis on standardization of each family of nuclear power plants (EPRI, 1990). The goal is that all plants of a design family will be the same, except for limited site-specific differences. Standardization covers the entire generating plant: nuclear and turbine islands and key supporting facilities such as radioactive waste treatment and includes design, licensing, operations, maintenance, and decommissioning. Form-fit-function specifications provide for standardization of components procured competitively from subsuppliers. Standardization also applies to commonalities in safety and licensing for different families of designs.

Standardization will reduce the licensing burden for duplicate plants and will reduce their construction time and operational costs as the learning curve proceeds. It will also lead to greater efficiencies and simplicity in all aspects of nuclear plant operations, including safety, maintenance, training, and spare parts procurement. Consortia pursuing COLs under NP 2010 have endorsed a USNRC design-centered licensing approach that promotes standardization

Suggested Citation:"2 Nuclear Power 2010." National Research Council. 2008. Review of DOE's Nuclear Energy Research and Development Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11998.
×

of license applications. A series of letters16 to the USNRC have clearly laid out team-based approaches for each of the plant designs currently undergoing initial or revised certification. The industry consortia are implementing this approach by outlining the proposed content of the applications and committing to response times on USNRC Requests for Additional Information (RAI) during review of the COL applications. This license standardization will help to reduce the time required for review of COL applications and the time and costs for the subsequent license applications for the same standard design.

Inspections, Tests, Analyses, and Acceptance Criteria

A primary purpose of 10 CFR Part 52 is to eliminate unnecessary construction delays and start-ups of operation caused by preoperational licensing or litigation. This requires resolution of design and siting issues before the start of construction and continued attention to assuring compliance with the COL during construction. To achieve this purpose, the ITAAC process was formulated to verify conformance with the COL as the construction proceeds.

ITAAC consist of license commitments (top-level key design features and performance characteristics) and a list of inspections, tests, and analyses to confirm that the plant was built in accordance with these licensing commitments.17 A set of design-related ITAAC are prepared and submitted to the USNRC as part of the design certification process. The COL applicant is also required to submit a set of project- and site-related ITAAC and performs the inspections, tests, and analyses during and after construction. Once the acceptance criteria have been confirmed, the licensee informs USNRC that ITAAC have been met. After USNRC determines ITAAC criteria have been successfully met, a notice is published in the Federal Register.

As part of DOE’s cooperative agreements with EPRI and NEI focused on resolving generic new plant licensing issues, DOE supported an ITAAC demonstration project. This activity was divided into two main parts: (1) working with USNRC to develop principles on how to meet ITAAC and (2) applying these principles to develop ITAAC determination bases (IDBs) for closing ITAAC. Westinghouse worked collaboratively with USNRC construction inspection personnel to develop guidance for defining IDBs. This process also included stakeholder participation through workshops, identified IDBs, and discussed types of documentation required for verification and various scenarios that could impact ITAAC for AP1000 systems and buildings. Black & Veatch showed that the principles cooperatively developed by Westinghouse/USNRC are valid and could be applied to a larger range of the ITAAC process when determining compliance with ITAAC.

Infrastructure Needs

Infrastructure Assessment

As part of NP 2010, DOE tasked MPR Associates, Inc., with deciding what infrastructure would be necessary to support construction of new ALWR nuclear power plants in the 2010 timeframe (MPR, 2004a, 2004b, 2005). MPR’s infrastructure assessment identified several infrastructure weaknesses and recommended for actions to mitigate their potential impacts on new plant construction schedules.

MPR representatives held discussions with Nuclear Steam Supply System (NSSS) vendors; equipment manufacturers; material suppliers; module fabricators; engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractors; U.S. Department of Labor; labor unions; trade organizations; and the USNRC to investigate their ability to support the near-term deployment of new plants. These capabilities were then compared with the resource requirements associated with a hypothetical scenario involving the construction of up to eight nuclear units between 2010 and 2017 to identify any resource shortfalls. For this assessment, shortfalls were defined as insufficient infrastructure resources or deficiencies that would require actions more than 5 years before the commercial operation date of the first new units, not including COL application work, site-specific design work, and normal early procurement activities. Where shortfalls were identified, further investigations were conducted to develop recommendations and lead times that would mitigate impacts on the construction schedules.

Availability of Large Forgings and Castings

Forgings for the large-diameter, thick-walled reactor pressure vessels (RPVs) are difficult to procure. They require a long lead time, and orders must be placed several years prior to installation at the plant site. The only facility worldwide that can produce these components is the Japan Steel Works (JSW). It is reported that 20 percent of the facilities at JSW is for nuclear equipment, with the remaining facilities utilized for other heavy equipment. The next slot available for manufacturing a reactor vessel at JSW is in 2009. Some initial steps are being taken to commit and enlarge future capacity:

16

Dominion (North Anna), NuStart (Grand Gulf), and Entergy (River Bend) COL application for USNRC Project Nos. 741, 744, 745, Response to RIS 2006-06, New Reactor Standardization Needed to Support the Design-Centered Licensing Review Approach, Letter 06-480 signed by Grecheck (Dominion), Kray (NuStart), and C. Randy Hutchinson (Entergy), July 17, 2006. NuStart (Bellefonte) COL USNRC Project No. 740, Response to RIS 2006-06, New Reactor Standardization Needed to Support the Design-Centered Licensing Review Approach, Letter signed by Kray, July 17, 2006. USNRC Regulatory Issue Summary 2006-06, New Reactor Standardization Needed to Support the Design-Centered Licensing Review Approach, May 31, 2006.

17

See SECY-02-0067, staff requirements memorandum (SRM), “Inspections, Tests, Analyses, and Acceptance Criteria (ITAAC) for Operational Programs (Programmatic ITAAC),” issued September 11, 2002; “Inspections, Test, Analyses, and Acceptance Criteria for Operational Programs (Programmatic ITAAC),” issued April 15, 2002.

Suggested Citation:"2 Nuclear Power 2010." National Research Council. 2008. Review of DOE's Nuclear Energy Research and Development Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11998.
×

UniStar announced in August 2006 that AREVA had arranged for the procurement of forgings for the EPR. In May 2007, Dominion signed a contract with GE Energy to order heavy forgings and castings and long-lead components for “a possible new reactor,” presumably the ESBWR. In connection with the plans to build the AP1000 in China, plans are being developed to provide substantial component manufacturing capacity in China as well as in South Korea, where Doosan Heavy Industries has been selected to fabricate many of the nuclear components for the AP1000s in China.

A significant concern is the limited global capacity to manufacture reactor heads and other large components with worldwide demand for reactor vessels, large components for fossil plants, parts for scrubber upgrades, liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities, pipelines, and new refineries.

Supply Chain for N-Stamped Components

Construction of fossil power plants, LNG facilities, pipelines, and other infrastructure for the petroleum industry is currently at a very high level. Most suppliers have adopted the ISO 9000 quality programs that are required to compete in the global marketplace. In comparison with the 25-year absence of business associated with new nuclear plants, many companies have not maintained the quality programs required for the N stamp certification of authorization. This certification confirms that the American Society for Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has surveyed the operations of the certificate holder and has authorized it to use the code stamps exhibiting compliance with ASME Codes.18

Many manufacturers that want to provide nuclear components such as valves, headers, piping, pumps, pressure vessels, and core supports will be required to adopt the quality assurance program to meet the safety standards set by the ASME. However, it is uncertain that a sufficient number of manufacturers will adapt to the nuclear marketplace in time to meet the demand for components.

Financial considerations have caused many of the traditional manufacturers of nuclear plant electrical and control equipment to eliminate their special quality assurance programs for the nuclear industry. This has opened up a third-party qualification process for off-the-shelf equipment for replacing, refurbishing, and upgrading the existing plants: a process where standard commercial equipment is procured from a manufacturer and then qualified to meet USNRC safety standards. This process has been enabled by continuing improvement in the quality of standard commercial equipment due to processes such as the ISO 9000 international standard; it includes a series of functional, dimensional, and qualification tests to verify critical characteristics of the equipment; assuring that the component is capable of performing its intended safety function. All components are furnished under a Nuclear Procurement Issues Committee (NUPIC)-audited quality assurance program, with the third-party qualifying laboratory accepting 10 CFR Part 21 responsibilities. Documentation includes direct traceability to the original equipment manufacturer. It is probable that this process will be employed in part during the initial deployment while the buildup of N-stamped manufacturers proceeds.

The Personnel Problem

The industry reports that if 15 new nuclear plants are under construction between 2015 and 2020, it is estimated that 247,000 new jobs will be created. The demand for professionals, including engineers, designers, operators, health physicists, and technicians, will far exceed the current supply. Freshman engineering enrollment has actually decreased slightly since 2002 and is not expected to increase in the coming years. During the past two decades college graduates grew by 20 percent; however, in the next two decades that growth is estimated to drop to 7 percent.19

A skilled worker shortage of 5.3 million is predicted by the industry in the United States by 2010, and this shortage is expected to increase to 14 million by 2020. As NP 2010 is completed, and especially when the first plant is authorized, confirmation of the demand surge and evidence of new commercial and career opportunities may accelerate the supply, including overseas sources, alleviating some of the shortages.20

A large increase in nuclear power production and additional nuclear R&D will necessitate the education of many new engineers and scientists. DOE’s current support of university research and educational infrastructure must continue.

The construction of 15 nuclear plants by 2015 is expected to create 29,000 to 32,000 new construction and operating jobs. In addition, increased demand for electricity and other energy-related facilities will place pressure on the construction workforce. A shortage of welders, ironworkers, pipefitters, and maintenance personnel is anticipated in 2007 and beyond. One-third of the construction workforce is expected to retire in the next 5 years, and there are not enough training programs to replace these workers. If a large number of plants are under construction simultaneously, the supply of qualified tradesmen and heavy rigging equipment may not be adequate.

Setting Priorities

DOE reports that the priorities of the NP 2010 program are consistent with U.S. energy policy (Public Law 109-58) and further defined by the NERAC roadmap. In his presenta-

18

ASME Code Section III, Division 1, Nuclear Power Plant Components, requiring compliance with ASME QAI-1, Qualifications and Duties for Authorized Nuclear Inspection.

19

See http://ewc-online.org/degrees-data.asp.

20

Jim Reinsch, Bechtel, Presentation to the committee on January 8, 2007.

Suggested Citation:"2 Nuclear Power 2010." National Research Council. 2008. Review of DOE's Nuclear Energy Research and Development Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11998.
×

tion to the committee, the assistant secretary for NE, Dennis Spurgeon, stated that NP 2010 has top priority in the NE development portfolio. Within the constraints of funding, the NP 2010 program is following the high-priority roadmap recommendations to demonstrate the 10 CFR Part 52 process.

Oversight Methods and Metrics

DOE reports on the methods and metrics it uses for oversight of its projects to ensure progress and accountability, including semiannual project reviews, periodic progress report and schedule evaluations, invoice review, as well as participation in periodic project meetings and conference calls.

DOE has negotiated individual interface and oversight agreements with NuStart and Dominion to define the practices to be implemented on the COL demonstration projects. These agreements required implementation of the project management principles outlined in DOE Order 413.3 (DOE, 2003). Various project reviews are performed, including 6-month and annual review, participation in periodic project status conference calls, and, in the case of NuStart, participation in the meetings of NuStart’s Management Review Committee. In addition, DOE conducts monthly financial reviews using earned value data submitted by NuStart and Dominion and monthly invoices. DOE has also conducted external independent evaluations of the project baselines. The NP 2010 program evaluates the earned value data, which measures cost and schedule to ensure that adequate progress has been made (EIA, 1998). DOE has also had independent program assessments performed periodically by either NERAC members or outside experts.

Cooperative Industry–Government R&D

DOE reports that the goals of the NP 2010 program could not be accomplished effectively unless the program is cooperative, cost-shared, and governed by cooperative agreements. The success of NP 2010 depends on effective melding of the capabilities and responsibilities of industry and government.

Economic Issues

Economic competitiveness is the primary challenge faced in near-term deployment of new nuclear plants. Studies on the economic prospects of new nuclear plants have been completed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT, 2003) and the University of Chicago (UC, 2004). The MIT estimate for nth-of-a-kind levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) is $51-$67/MWh, and the University of Chicago estimate is $31-$46/MWh, indicating that coal presently has the competitive edge. Incentives provided in EPAct05, when fully defined, will allow the first plants to meet the challenge, but subsequent deployments must be competitive in the prevailing rate, regulatory, and market environments.

Legislation to constrain the release of carbon dioxide (CO2) is likely to be implemented within the next 10 years. For example, states in the Northeast have already taken action through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative21 to establish a mandatory CO2 cap-and-trade program in the electric power sector. In addition, California has enacted an aggressive greenhouse gas control law (California Senate Bill 1368 and Assembly Bill 32 [Nuñez/Pavley]). Federal legislative proposals to limit CO2 emissions have been put forth in the U.S. Senate and House [S. 280, The Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act of 2007, July 2007, and H.R. 5049, the Keep America Competitive Global Warming Policy Act, August 2006]. Evaluations of these bills (EIA 2007, EIA 2006) by the Energy Information Administration project substantial increases in the growth of U.S. nuclear power capacity as a result of such CO2 emissions control legislation.

The increased economic competitiveness of nuclear power if CO2 limitations are imposed is clear from comparing estimates of the LCOEs with no carbon tax with a $50/MT carbon tax or its equivalent, assuming that the average natural gas price will settle at $6 per million Btu (Specker, 2006). The present state of technology is assumed in these comparisons except it is assumed that in 2020 the technology will provide economical carbon sequestration for the Integrated Coal Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) and pulverized coal systems. The cost estimates (in 2005 $/MWh) are for nth-of-a-kind units in a series of standard plants. The ALWR would stay constant at $46/MWh; natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) would move from $55/MWh to $75/MWh; pulverized coal without carbon sequestration would go from $40/MWh to $81/MWh; IGCC without carbon sequestration would change from $47/MWh to $90/MWh; and advanced IGCC with carbon sequestration would remain constant at $55/MWh.

Independent of the legislative resolution of CO2 emission controls, NP 2010, as well as the EPAct05 incentives, are needed to establish that the COL process, in the actual practice of licensing and building the first six plants, will permit prudent investments in new nuclear power plants.

Energy Policy Act 2005: Provisions for New Nuclear Plants

Loan Guarantee

Title XVII of EPAct05 conferred broad authority on DOE to provide loan guarantees to projects that reduce, avoid, or sequester emissions of air pollution or greenhouse gases and employ a new or significantly improved technology. Although the first solicitation does not invite preapplications for advanced nuclear and petroleum refinery projects, future

Suggested Citation:"2 Nuclear Power 2010." National Research Council. 2008. Review of DOE's Nuclear Energy Research and Development Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11998.
×

loan guarantee solicitations under the final loan guarantee program regulation could help utilities interested in nuclear power raise the substantial up-front capital associated with these major energy projects and, combined with delay risk insurance (standby support), reduce uncertainty and reduce the cost of obtaining capital for sponsors of new nuclear plants. The Loan Guarantee Office has yet to announce how it will administer the first loan guarantee, but it has said that additional requests for solicitations are forthcoming.

The Loan Guarantee Office issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) in May 2007, which capped the total amount of loans at 80 percent of that allowed in EPAct05 and limited to 90 percent the share of a loan that would be guaranteed. DOE will gather stakeholder input in connection with the NOPR. It values such input and believes that DOE will be best served by a collaborative process for establishing the loan guarantee program. After resolution of the public comments on NOPR, the final rule will become the basis for future solicitations.

Production Tax Credit

Production Tax Credit-Section 1306, Credit for Production from Advanced Nuclear Power Facilities, permits an entity producing electricity at a qualified advanced nuclear power facility that is placed into service before January 1, 2021, to claim a credit equal to $0.018/kWh of electricity produced for 8 years. Among other requirements, the statutory provision specifies a national megawatt capacity limitation of 6,000 (MWe), which will be prorated among new plants that apply for licenses by 2008 and enter construction by 2014.22 This production tax credit has been granted to renewable sources, and nuclear energy is included in this category. The limitation is subject to an allocation process to be prescribed by the Department of the Treasury. The statutory provision further states that the process governing the approval and allocation of production credits is to be developed in consultation with the Secretary of Energy.

The production tax credit is administered by the Internal Revenue Service. The NP 2010 program will provide technical support for determining the eligibility requirements. Industry has responded favorably to the program to reduce financial and regulatory risk and to the incentives package. NEI reports that utilities and reactor vendors have spent or committed $1 billion to $1.5 billion on their preparations to build additional generating capacity using nuclear reactors.

Risk Insurance

Section 638, Standby Support for Certain Nuclear Plant Delays, of EPAct05 authorizes the Secretary of Energy to enter into six contracts with sponsors of advanced nuclear facilities to ensure against certain delays in attainment of full-power operation and to indemnify 100 percent of covered costs up to $500 million for each of the initial two reactors and 50 percent of covered costs up to $250 million for each of the subsequent four reactors after an initial 180-day delay. In August 2006, DOE issued a final rule on standby support23 that sets forth three types of events (Congress calls them “inclusions”) for coverage: (1) ITAAC-related delays, (2) preoperational hearings, and (3) litigation based on this statutory delineation. DOE’s final rule on standby support states that any ITAAC-related event, preoperational hearing, or litigation that delays the commencement of full-power operations is considered a covered event and would therefore be covered under a standby support contract. DOE defines litigation to include only adjudication in state, federal, local, or tribal courts, including appeals of USNRC decisions related to the combined license to such courts and excluding administrative litigation that occurs at the USNRC related to the combined license process.

GOALS, TIMETABLES, AND PROGRESS

Strategy for Accomplishing NP 2010 Goals

Key strategic elements of NP 2010 bode well for its success. A good working relationship has been achieved between DOE and its contractors in accordance with the related cooperative agreements and their statements of goals, milestones, project controls, responsibilities, and accountabilities. The selection of the projects funded is, appropriately, market driven. The cooperative agreement allows industry to convey its request for projects it deems will address the technical, regulatory, and institutional challenges to new nuclear plant deployment. There is a strong focus on demonstrating the regulatory processes, finalizing and standardizing the designs, and implementing the EPAct05 standby support provisions, all of which are essential front-end activities.

Yet, other activities essential to ultimate success do not seem to have achieved that same focus in planning, let alone implementation. Whereas standardization within a family of designs is progressing well, it has not progressed discernibly on common safety, regulatory, power reliability, and operational issues among the families. Construction planning that uses the most practicable and advanced digital simulation software is not discussed in the programmatic material. Standardization protocols, such as form-fit-function do not seem to have been established to permit competitive bidding on the great variety of smaller plant components. Subsequent sections identify in detail the main deployment and infrastructure issues that should be addressed in the NP 2010 strategy to assure ultimate success.

22

See http://www.irs.gov/irb/20068_IRB/ar07/html: Notice pertaining to EPAct05, Section 1306.

23

Final rule on standby support, Section 638(c) of EPAct05, August 13, 2006. Available at http://www.nuclear.gov/.

Suggested Citation:"2 Nuclear Power 2010." National Research Council. 2008. Review of DOE's Nuclear Energy Research and Development Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11998.
×

Progress vs. Goals and Timetables

Overall Progress

Although progress has been made on the licensing demonstration projects, the pace is far slower than that proposed in the near-term roadmap (NERAC, 2001), and there has been further slippage against the original NP 2010 schedules. This slippage does not suggest the high priority DOE has given to NP 2010. The NE budget for FY 2008, submitted to Congress in January 2007, has begun to correct the funding shortfalls with an NP 2010 request of $114 million. Congress has added $26.3 million to NP 2010 under the FY 2007 Continuing Resolution, bringing the FY 2007 total to $80.3 million. Additional funding is needed to accelerate design finalization and to pave the way for an industry decision to build new nuclear plants. Industry has recommended a total of $727 million in spending by DOE to complete the NP 2010 program.

DOE has asked the consortia for preliminary life-cycle baseline (cost, schedule, and scope through project completion) data. A detailed review of this information by an independent review team should assist DOE in putting in establishing baselines, which will improve out-year project planning and lead to more effective monitoring of project performance.

Licensing Demonstration

Solution Objectives Endorsement. The objectives of the licensing demonstration projects come from recommendations in the near-term deployment roadmap that action be taken to “resolve the uncertainties regarding the new plant regulatory approval process through actual use, and secure regulatory approval for several reactor designs and siting applications on a time scale that will support plant deployments in this decade” (NERAC, 2001, p. 44). In discussing the gaps that need to be closed to achieve this goal, the roadmap identified “key dimensions and solution objectives,” including three that require essentially complete resolution to achieve near-term deployment and which are strongly endorsed by the committee (NERAC, 2001, pp. 3-4):

  1. The DC process must be expedited to help resolve the “time to market” obstacle to nuclear plant orders in a deregulated market. In all instances of a design submittal that is complete and high quality, the DC process should take no more than three years, including the rulemaking phase. Experience gained from the first three DC rulemakings during the 1990s should provide a solid basis for achieving this goal. For DC applications that rely significantly on design information from a previously reviewed and/or certified design, the goal should be to complete the process in less than two years.

  2. ESP and COL processes must be demonstrated successfully for new plants to be built. The must be shown to be stable and predictable processes that can be completed efficiently, in no more than 1-2 years each.

  3. Generic guidance needs to be developed to ensure efficient, safety-focused implementation of key Part 52 processes, including ESP, COL, and ITAAC verification.

These key dimensions and solution objectives contribute to an important goal of NP 2010 and are predicated on assuring, through the industry’s design effort and USNRC’s licensing effort, that the new plants are even safer than the present ones. The central importance of this objective was reiterated by the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board,24 when they wrote that “the new regulatory process has not been completely tested, and generating companies have understandably been reluctant to be the first in line to exercise the new system.”


COL Schedules. The president and CEO of Southern Nuclear Operating Company noted in testimony25 before Congress that timely and predictable licensing was critical to investor confidence in new nuclear units. A key litmus test for the program would be the ability of DOE and industry, through the NP 2010 program, to demonstrate that ESPs, DCs, and COLs can be obtained through the untested USNRC processes within a reasonable and predictable time frame. This, in turn, would be an important bellwether of the industry’s willingness to pursue a new generation of nuclear plants.

Recognizing that substantial effort and funding are currently being devoted to preparation of COL applications for submission to the USNRC in 2007, aggressive attention should be paid by DOE and the consortia to ensuring that the COL applications are complete and of high quality and that they will be evaluated in an efficient and timely manner. USNRC currently estimates that the review of COL applications will take about 30 months, with an additional year to complete the public hearings. It is unclear to the committee what the basis is for the 30-month estimate.

Equally important, there appears to be no integrated schedule laying out how the technical and legal reviews, including any contested hearing, will be conducted and providing a detailed schedule for achieving each milestone. Other recent licensing efforts involving substantial intervention suggest that detailed milestones and schedules need to be established at the outset of the proceeding and reflected in a binding order issued by the USNRC at the time the application is formally docketed. This will require substantial effort by the industry, DOE, and USNRC in advance of the formal submission of the application. With the applications of two NP 2010 consortia slated for submission in the fourth quarter of 2007, this issue requires aggressive attention. In the absence of an effort to clearly define and establish sched-

24

Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, Moving Forward with Nuclear Power: Issues and Key Factors, January 2005, pp. 2-3.

25

J. Barnie Beasely, Jr., President and CEO of Southern Nuclear Operating Company, Testimony before the Committee on Environment and Public Works of the United States Senate, June 22, 2006.

Suggested Citation:"2 Nuclear Power 2010." National Research Council. 2008. Review of DOE's Nuclear Energy Research and Development Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11998.
×

ules and milestones, there is a possibility that the conduct of these reviews, including the formal legal review required to be undertaken by USNRC’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, will suffer from inefficiency and unpredictability. USNRC has not yet finalized Regulatory Guide (RG) 1.206 on COLs, which is needed to clarify the finality of environmental reviews, the change process for new plant designs that have already been certified, and the requirements related to construction and inspection.

Further attention should be paid to streamlining the COL schedule considering the ongoing efforts to standardize the COL application. The number of person-years required to process the COL application is not known at this time. It will depend on the successful resolution of all the issues arising in the development of the standardized COL application. Processing information, including time, cost, and level of effort, for the standardized COL is not available; however, processing the information USNRC required to certify the design of the AP600 required 6 years and 3 months. The USNRC review effort required 110 person-years. Westinghouse submitted a 6,500-page safety analysis report and a 4,500-page probabilistic risk assessment report. Westinghouse responded to 7,400 formal written questions and attended 380 USNRC meetings. The USNRC safety evaluation report (NUREG 1512 of September 1998) was 2,700 pages long. To obtain a DC for the power-upgraded version, AP1000, an additional 31 person-years of USNRC effort was required over 2.5 calendar years, and its SER (NUREG 1793 of September 2004) was 2,400 pages. Additional reviews of amendments to AP1000 are scheduled to take more than 2 years.26

Despite their efforts to prepare, it is probable that USNRC’s Office of New Reactors will be overloaded in the first several years.25 Similar circumstances existed in the late 1960s, when a sudden spate of new nuclear plant orders caused a large backlog of construction license applications, which led to significant schedule delays and cost increases. The present plan is to deal with everyone on a first-come, first-served basis, which may seem fair but might lead to long and indeterminate delays.27 The USNRC has already established criteria, set forth in a November 16, 2006, staff requirements memorandum, for prioritizing its reviews in the event that budgetary resources are constrained. These criteria should be adapted to provide a COL queuing process to avoid conflicts between applicants, to ease the USNRC workload, to maintain standardization, and to assure satisfactory USNRC reviews. Such an adaptation should give priority to companies that have made major financial commitments to deployment and have fully defined plans to build plants immediately upon receipt of a COL. In addition, the USNRC could establish priority based on the shortages of electricity projected by the utility commissions and independent service organizations in the affected area.

Vendors of nuclear steam supply systems (NSSSs) have specified the function but not the specific design of digital plant control systems and plant simulators in their DCs. Current USNRC guidance endorses older versions of Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers (IEEE) standards, and the software safety analysis is too general to support efficient design and USNRC review of control system software. USNRC needs to be given adequate lead time to develop new guidance. This action would need to begin now to meet the start of construction assumed in the NP 2010 program. DOE should consider cost-sharing efforts with the IEEE and the nuclear industry to revise standards and provide advice on revision of applicable regulatory guides by the USNRC.

Standardization

DOE and the consortia have all emphasized the importance of standardization. While standardization of the COL application is stressed for each reactor design, it is not clear that the COLs would be standardized with respect to common safety and licensing issues from one family of reactor design to another. This seeming lack of focus on standardization among different families of reactors is a concern.

It is encouraging that USNRC has adopted the design-centered review approach. It is also helpful that agreements are being reached on the length of time it takes the USNRC and the applicants to respond to questions and answers. Success in this approach requires high-quality design and license application preparation, supported by a thorough effort in code scaling, applicability, and uncertainty analysis.

Design Finalization

With completion of the new plant regulatory framework and standardization processes discussed above, more attention has to be given to completing a standardized, first-of-a-kind design of the AP1000 and ESBWR, because prudence requires that full construction should not begin without it.

Design completion should be accelerated. The new Five Year NP 2010 Program Plan schedules completion of the design for mid-FY 2011, but scheduling the start of construction for late FY 2010 violates the notion of completing a design before construction starts (DOE, 2006). Further, one of the most important outputs of NP 2010, a dependable cost and construction schedule estimate, is scheduled for the end of FY 2008, some 2.5 years before design completion.

The time squeeze between first-of-a-kind engineering design completion and meeting the deployment schedules will require ordering some components a long time before full attainment of the COL. Means of avoiding the long lead time should be planned for more explicitly. Standardization protocols are also needed to permit competitive bidding on plant components such as form-fit-function. Standardiza-

26

George Davis, Westinghouse, Information provided to the committee, November 8, 2006.

27

USNRC, Regulatory Issue Summary on COL Prioritization, April 16, 2007.

Suggested Citation:"2 Nuclear Power 2010." National Research Council. 2008. Review of DOE's Nuclear Energy Research and Development Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11998.
×

tion can be maintained when ordering components on a competitive basis by establishing the space within which the component must fit, the type and location of its connection to the overall system, and the function that it must provide. The details of design within that envelope can be determined by the supplier in conformance with industrial standards and safety regulations.

Greater attention to efficiencies of construction, operation, and maintenance in the design finalization effort will lead to more efficient construction. Although focus on the COL design issues is appropriate, parallel effort on the first-of-a-kind design issues outside the COL can speed up design completion.

ITAAC

Demonstration of ITAAC is not assured. The effort to fully define the ITAAC process has been dormant for almost a year but is now being reactivated through a NEI supplier committee. It is of crucial importance to economic deployment that these definitions be completed promptly. With the construction of 15 reactors from four or possibly five manufacturers by 2015, the demands on the USNRC to support the ITAAC process will be significant, particularly considering ASME’s requirements28 for authorized nuclear inspectors.

The ITAAC process may be particularly difficult to implement because of the large number of modules involved. The AP1000 involves 342 different modules (including structural, piping, and equipment modules). If the other four reactor plants have about the same number of modules, the USNRC will have to inspect more than 1,700 different modules. Moreover, these modules will be provided by a supply chain with plants in many countries. Clearly, inspection, testing, and analysis of this many different modules manufactured by a large number of N-stamped companies in several foreign countries will be a serious challenge.

Critical Deployment Issues

Other than a generally stated commitment to using modern construction processes, DOE and the consortia have not devoted sufficient effort to critical deployment issues such as preoperational testing, advanced construction technology or processes, and operational training. Examples are the use of advanced multidimensional CAD-CAM methodologies for planning and monitoring construction and component installation, application of advanced digital information systems to monitor and assess construction quality assurance and plant status, provision of a complete, construction-interactive database to assist the ITAAC process, planning for the preoperational testing necessary for a smooth transition from construction completion to preoperational systems testing, and preparation of operating instructions and employment of simulators for operator training.

NSSS vendors and EPC contractors should complete the plant design (including the routing of small bore piping, tubing, and conduit to the maximum amount practical) prior to starting construction, prepare a detailed critical path construction schedule, and plan for sufficient staffing for rapid response teams at the point of work for problem resolution. Not having this level of design completion and project preparation in the past often doubled labor requirements and construction schedule durations.

Nuclear utilities, NSSS vendors, component suppliers, material suppliers, and EPC contractors should ensure that appropriate quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) programs are in place and properly implemented for the design, fabrication, construction, and inspection of new plants. Experience detailed in NUREG-1055 shows that QA and QC problems caused major difficulties in earlier nuclear plant construction projects. These steps ensure that the work gets done right the first time so that additional labor and construction time are not needed to correct deficiencies.

In sum, notwithstanding the high priority that must be maintained on first-of-a-kind design completion, plans and processes for the actual steps in deployment need to be established now to provide a complete basis for investment assessment, to assure timely initiation of construction with a sufficiently supportive infrastructure, and to provide guidance to the designers on construction, operation, quality assurance, and maintenance issues. DOE’s present Five-Year NP 2010 Program Plan does not address these issues. The plan terminates NP 2010 when the COL is issued, when many of these deployment actions should be ongoing. Industry and DOE should seriously consider increasing the scope and funding of NP 2010 to address these deployment issues.

Infrastructure Needs

The de facto 25-year moratorium on new plant construction in the United States, along with a prolonged period of reduced government and industry funding of nuclear energy R&D, has badly weakened the infrastructure needed to support a major expansion of nuclear electric generation capacity. To date, NP 2010 has devoted little effort to this issue. The plan seems to be to wait until plant design and USNRC reviews are completed. A parallel rather than a series approach to infrastructure revitalization should be pursued to assure that NP 2010 provides the basis for construction for which it is intended. NP 2010 should include work to develop construction plans in parallel with design finalization. These plans should include the transition from construction to preoperational systems testing, operational procedures, and operator training. Such planning is needed to ensure that the

28

ASME Code Section III, Division 1, Nuclear Power Plant Components, requiring compliance with ASME QAI-1, Qualifications and Duties for Authorized Nuclear Inspection.

Suggested Citation:"2 Nuclear Power 2010." National Research Council. 2008. Review of DOE's Nuclear Energy Research and Development Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11998.
×

consortia’s construction time goal of 4 years or less will be met.

The construction infrastructure assessment provided by MPR Associates, Inc., for NP 2010 (MPR, 2005) contains important recommendations bearing on this issue:

  1. The NSSS vendors should

    monitor the availability of large ring forgings and adjust their procurement schedules to ensure that they will be available for RPV fabrication. If necessary and with financial support from their customers, NSSS vendors should purchase the large ring forgings early and arrange deliveries to support normal RPV fabrication schedules. If the demand for new nuclear units is sufficient, NSSS vendors should develop additional capacity for the supply of nuclear-grade large ring forgings. (MPR, 2005, p. iv)

    Perhaps the demand for very heavy forgings could be alleviated by considering fabricating the cylinders and reactor vessel heads from weldments. The use of weldments would reduce the size of the forging equipment required and expand the supply chain. Advance ordering of these key components should be given serious consideration.

  2. Reestablishment of the N-stamps by ASME should take into consideration upgrades in ISO 9000 formulated in recent years. It should be noted that the passive plants—AP1000 and ESBWR—have significantly reduced the amount of equipment requiring such qualification capabilities.

    1. Hiring highly-skilled construction workers needed to build nuclear units is expected to be a challenge. Qualified boilermakers, pipe fitters, electricians, and ironworkers are expected to be in short supply in local labor markets…. All other construction trades (i.e., laborers, insulators, equipment operators, teamsters, etc.) should be available in sufficient numbers to support the new plant construction projects…. EPC contractors as a group should negotiate and sign a national labor agreement with major labor unions to provide flexibility in staffing nuclear construction projects (e.g., allowing union members from different areas to work at any nuclear plant construction site). This step helps ensure the needed construction workers will be available. (MPR, 2005, p. v)

    2. Nuclear power plant operators should recruit and train health physicists, operators, and maintenance technicians at their existing nuclear plants to serve as replacements at their existing plants and to staff the new GEN III+ plants. This ensures that the plant operator’s staff is available for training and for supporting the start-up, commissioning, and testing of new GEN III+ units. (MPR, 2005, p. v)

  1. Interactions are needed among the stakeholders, reactor manufacturers, utilities, architect engineers, construction firms, NEI, the Institute for Nuclear Power Operators (INPO), DOE, USNRC, and universities to expand their efforts to increase the number of professional staff and skilled craftspeople and construction personnel as well as the manufacturing capacity needed to achieve the ultimate goal of NP 2010.

In view of the importance of these recommendations, DOE should follow up on them as part of the NP 2010 program.

Evaluation of Priorities

The priorities are appropriate and are derived from U.S. energy policy, the DOE and NERAC assessments, and management guidance for top-level utility executives. It is important to monitor progress in light of those priorities and devise recovery actions in the event of program delays. Close follow-up and guidance are needed from DOE top management, the industry’s top-level Nuclear Power Oversight Committee, and the NEI New Plant Task Force and should be a focal point for the independent reviews that are planned.

Evaluation of Oversight and Metrics

A good system has been established to ensure progress and accountability, although limited funding has had a negative impact on progress. Consideration was given to updating the NERAC roadmap, but it was concluded that the goals for NP 2010 for the next 3 years are clear and no update is needed.

Role of Joint Industry–Government R&D

The DOE–industry cost-sharing using cooperative agreements is an effective way of performing R&D for nuclear plant development and preparing for their deployment. Past experience with that approach gained in the DOE-industry ALWR program proved cost effective and valuable for producing an R&D foundation for the near-term deployment of new nuclear plants.

The Most Meritorious Elements of NP 2010

The beneficial elements of NP 2010 are as follows:

  • The focus on licensing demonstrations, including joint planning with USNRC,

  • Commitment to standardization,

  • DOE–industry partnership through cooperative agreements, which offer

    • DOE program management and authority,

    • Industry experience in design, operations, costing, and the marketplace,

    • Provisions for completing plant design so that realistic plant cost and construction time estimates can be made.

Suggested Citation:"2 Nuclear Power 2010." National Research Council. 2008. Review of DOE's Nuclear Energy Research and Development Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11998.
×

As important and necessary as these elements are, they are not sufficient to assure success without increased effort on planning for, and initial implementation of, subsequent deployment needs.

EPAct05 Incentives

EPAct05 provisions for the first six new nuclear plants are essential to paving the way for the multi-billion-dollar private investment needed to construct and operate these first plants. The definitions of the incentives have not yet been fully spelled out, nor have the qualifications for recipients or the administration of the incentives themselves been completed and should be expedited. DOE needs to take all necessary steps to ensure that the guidance for the incentives authorized by EPAct05 is finalized.

Although the direct responsibility of NE for managing NP 2010 is limited to standby support, all of the EPAct05 incentives for which DOE shares major responsibility are key to the success of NP 2010. The loan guarantee program, critical to new plant construction, has not yet been finalized. The reason cited is that industry has not yet committed itself to building a new plant. Yet, the incremental funds expended by industry to date exceed $1.5 billion. Recent progress has been made by issuance of the loan guarantee NOPR, but the proposed caps are lower than had been anticipated and allowed by EPAct05, raising concern about their adequacy to assure deployment of the first plants.

Effective application of the EPAct05 nuclear standby support provisions will contribute significantly to lowering the busbar costs of the first six plants, and it is essential that NP 2010 develop the contract terms for insurance against the potential risk of delays with these plants.

Commercial Implications of NP 2010 Portfolio

The commercial implications of NP 2010 and the EPAct05 nuclear incentives are immense. Successful demonstration of the new regulatory process will remove much uncertainty from estimates of construction cost and the time-to-market for building nuclear generating stations. Loan guarantees and production tax credits are essential for increasing the availability of capital at a much reduced cost for the first six new plants. Risk insurance protects companies from the financial losses caused by unexpected regulatory or litigation delays. The incentives may lead to the building of several privately funded nuclear plants every year from 2015 to 2020.

Commercial deployment of the new plants would entail sizeable private investment. NEI estimates that a $727 million total government investment in NP 2010, matched by equal industry funding, will stimulate over $40 billion of investment commitments to new nuclear projects by 2015, assuming that a substantial fraction of the plants scheduled for COLs are constructed in that time frame.

Balance of R&D Within Scope of Resources Considering NP 2010 Objectives

Although there is a substantial amount of development work needed to assure that new safety issues are addressed and that timely and cost-effective deployment is brought about, little research is being performed under the NP 2010 program. As discussed, the essential research has been completed. In the 1990s, DOE cost-shared the R&D that defined, tested, and obtained licensing acceptance for advanced LWR designs. The total cost of that R&D was ~$800 million, including in-kind contributions from the U.S. vendors, and DOE funding of ~$200 million.

The mission of NP 2010 is to complete the licensing and final design of new plants and prepare for their deployment; no further research is needed to accomplish this purpose. Additional research on these new designs could impede deployment.

Identifying Promising New R&D Not Currently Included in NP 2010

No research is proposed by DOE or the industry for NP 2010. NE has been sponsoring a small amount of additional R&D, cost-shared with industry, to improve the performance, operating cost, and long-term operational reliability of existing nuclear plants under DOE’s Nuclear Energy Plant Optimization (NEPO) program. But no funding has been provided for relevant new projects for FY 2008. A small NP 2010 research effort on high burn-up fuels was cost-shared with industry in the FY 2005 budget, but none is planned for the next 3 years.

Substantial R&D on safety, aging of materials, component reliability, coolant chemical controls, inspection/monitoring, and the man-machine interface is currently being funded by the utilities in support of the current operating plants. The results from this R&D can also be applied to the new plants when they are deployed. A DOE-industry cost-shared R&D effort expanding this program and including R&D on high-burn-up LWR fuel would be of significant value. Recently, EPAct05 authorized a new cost-shared R&D program, the Nuclear Energy Systems Support Program (NESSP), with the same purpose as the LWR R&D program described above, but no action has been taken on it by DOE. The R&D needed to improve operational plants was defined in the joint DOE/industry LWR Strategic Plan (DOE, 2004). If the goal of high-burn-up fuel is achieved, not only will fuel economy improve, but capacity needs for the spent fuel repository will also be reduced (EPRI, 2006).

This R&D should be pursued by NE outside NP 2010 through NEPO or NESSP to help assure the safety and reliability of U.S. nuclear plants. This R&D should be given a relatively high priority in the overall DOE nuclear energy R&D portfolio. But, adequate funding of design finalization in NP 2010 should have higher priority than cost-shared

Suggested Citation:"2 Nuclear Power 2010." National Research Council. 2008. Review of DOE's Nuclear Energy Research and Development Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11998.
×

LWR R&D if funding conflicts arise. The value of such R&D would come from enhancing the effectiveness of a growing U.S. nuclear fleet by

  • Assuring continuing and improved safety and reliability, a sine qua non for sustaining the nuclear role in the nation’s electric energy portfolio;

  • Increasing the investment value of the fleet by extending its productive life; and

  • Reducing capacity requirements for the spent fuel repository.

Relationship of R&D Program to the Idaho Facilities Program and NERAC

The Operations Office of the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) provides technical and administrative support to the NP 2010 program. This support includes solicitation and procurement activities, contract administrative activities, and headquarters project management and technical activities. INL has provided technical support to NP 2010 in soil characterization, spent fuel transportation analysis, and economic analysis. NP 2010 also cost-shared fuel research in 2005, when DOE transferred funds to INL to pay for facility usage. Currently, however, no technical support is being provided to NP 2010 by INL.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Strategy for Accomplishing Goals

Finding 2-1. Unless the commercial fleet of LWRs grows, nuclear power will be a diminishing energy resource for the United States and there will be little need for all of NE’s longer-term research programs.


To foster growth of the commercial fleet of LWRs, the committee recommends the following:


Recommendation 2-1. NE should make the successful completion of the NP 2010 program its highest priority. It should take all necessary steps to ensure that guidance for the loan guarantee program authorized by the EPAct05 is finalized. NE should immediately initiate a cooperative project with industry to identify problems that arise in the construction and start-up of new plants and define best practices for use by the industry.

Licensing Demonstration

USNRC and industry need to improve the presently planned pace of COL reviews, avoiding review of already-settled issues and setting a more challenging schedule that assumes the applicants will submit high-quality design and license applications and meet schedule commitments for response to questions. In spite of the substantial effort that USNRC and the industry are devoting to preparing for the COL reviews, the planned schedules are still too long. Detailed milestones and schedules need to be established at the outset of the COL hearings and reflected in a binding order issued by the USNRC at the time the application is formally docketed. The ITAAC process needs to be defined fully and demonstrated to ensure against construction delays caused by questions about licensing compliance or by litigation.

The recent surge of interest in new plant construction, with 15 companies planning to apply for COLs for as many as 33 plants in the 2007 to 2009 time frame, will greatly increase USNRC’s workload. To address this crunch, priority should be given to applicants that have made major financial commitments to deployment and have fully defined plans to build the plant immediately upon receipt of the COL.


Recommendation 2-2. DOE should propose and support a joint DOE/industry/USNRC high-level working group to ensure that the following transpire:

  • High-quality, complete applications are submitted and response times to requests for additional information (RAIs) are met as stipulated in USNRC’s design-centered licensing review approach.

  • Schedules for review of DC, ESP, and COL applications, including the legal review by the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, are clearly established, complete, contain mechanisms for monitoring progress, show 3 years or less for review and approval of the initial COL applications, and show shorter durations for subsequent same-design applications.

  • ITAAC is being developed so that its implementation will minimize interruptions in construction and preoperational litigation delays.

  • Common safety and licensing issues among the families of reactor designs are fully standardized.

Standardized Design Completion

The present schedules for completion of the full designs need to be accelerated to be consistent with the goal of determining cost and construction time estimates scheduled for mid-FY 2008 and completing first-of-a-kind design before the start of construction. In addition to standardization across the families of reactor designs, as recommended above, design standardization efforts also need to be expanded to cover:

  • Construction, operational, and maintenance efficiencies,

  • Protocols such as form-fit-function to permit competitive bidding on the great variety of smaller components for plants, and

Suggested Citation:"2 Nuclear Power 2010." National Research Council. 2008. Review of DOE's Nuclear Energy Research and Development Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11998.
×
  • Change processes and operational standards for the plant life.

Recommendation 2-3. DOE should work with the industry consortia to increase efforts to standardize safety and licensing issues across all families of reactor designs. DOE should also provide additional cost-shared funds to accelerate the schedules in the NP 2010 Five-Year Plan.

Deployment and Infrastructure Issues

The 25-year-long suspension of new plant construction in the United States has badly weakened the infrastructure needed to support a robust and growing nuclear power industry. A vigorous and comprehensive program to strengthen it should be carried out to assure that NP 2010 provides the basis for construction for which it was intended.

More intensive construction planning and the application of advanced construction technologies are needed to assure that construction time will be no more than 4 years. The scope of this planning should cover the transition from construction to preoperational systems testing, operational procedures, the man–machine interface, and operator training. The impact of these issues on the success of the NP 2010 program calls for reconsideration by both DOE and industry of the decision conveyed in the present DOE Five-Year Plan to terminate NP 2010 when the COL is issued.


Recommendation 2-4. NE should immediately initiate a cooperative project with industry to identify problems that have arisen in the construction and start-up of new plants and define best practices for use by the industry.


Recommendation 2-5. DOE should include within the NP 2010 program a DOE/industry workshop to identify activities that would revitalize infrastructure for the construction of new nuclear plants, including the nuclear qualification of vendors and constructors; manufacturing capacity; and the availability of professional staff and skilled craftspeople and construction personnel. Additional tasks that merit further DOE support should be identified at this workshop.


Recommendation 2-6. DOE should fund a taskforce to work with industry groups on construction technology and planning to ensure that consortia construction time goals of 4 years or less will be met.

R&D Relevant to the NP 2010 Program

R&D needed to improve operational plants has been carried out primarily by industry and supplemented by joint cost-shared efforts with DOE under the NEPO Program. The work includes advanced materials, high-burn-up LWR fuel, coolant chemical controls, equipment reliability, and life extension beyond 60 years. If the goal of high-burn-up fuel is achieved, not only will fuel economy improve, but also the capacity requirements for the spent fuel repository will be substantially reduced. The R&D can be applied to new plants when deployed. Although Congress has authorized funding for this kind of R&D (NESSP), DOE has not submitted budget requests for that purpose.


Recommendation 2-7. DOE should evaluate the need for a reinvigorated R&D program to improve the performance of existing nuclear plants in a DOE-industry cost-shared effort separate from NP 2010. The estimated benefits to society should substantially exceed the government investment. In the event of funding constraints, NP 2010 funding for new plant deployment should have priority over this R&D for LWRs.

REFERENCES

Bowman, F.L. 2007. President and CEO, Nuclear Energy Institute, Testimony for the Record to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, March 16, 2007.

Department of Energy (DOE). 2003. Manual 413.3-1, Project Management for the Acquisition of Capital Assets, Implementation, Deputy Secretary of Energy Order 2003-004184, March 31, 2003.

DOE. 2004. U.S. DOE/Nuclear Industry Strategic Plan for Light Water Reactor R&D, Washington, D.C., February.

DOE. 2006. Department of Energy Five Year Plan, Office of the Chief Financial Officer. March 2006.

Energy Information Administration (EIA). 1998. Earned Value Management System, ANSI/EIA 748-A-1998.

EIA. 2006. Energy and Economic Impacts of H.R. 5049, the Keep America Competitive Global Warming Policy Act, SR/OIAF/2006-03. August.

EIA. 2007. Energy Market and Economic Impacts of S. 280, the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act of 2007, SR/OIAF/2007-04.

Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). 1990. Advanced Light Water Reactor Utility Requirements Document, Volumes I, II, and III. March.

EPRI. 2006. Program on Technology Innovation: Room at the Mountain, Analysis of the Maximum Disposal Capacity for Commercial Spent Nuclear Fuel in a Yucca Mountain Repository, EPRI 1013523.

Government Accountability Office (GAO). 2007. Human Capital Requirements and Anticipated New Reactor Applications Will Challenge NRC’s Workforce. GAO 07-105. July.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). 2003. The Future of Nuclear Power, An Interdisciplinary MIT Study.

MPR Associates, Inc. (MPR). 2004a. Construction Schedule Evaluation, MPR Report 2627. September.

MPR. 2004b. Application of Advanced Construction Technology to New Nuclear Plants, MPR Report 2610. September.

MPR. 2005. DOE NP 2010 Nuclear Power Plant Construction Infrastructure Assessment, MPR-2776. October.

National Energy Policy Development Group (NEPDG). 2001. National Energy Policy. May.

National Research Council (NRC). 1992. Nuclear Power: Technical and Institutional Options for the Future. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

Nuclear Energy Research Advisory Committee (NERAC). 2001. A Roadmap to Deploy New Nuclear Power Plants in the United States by 2010. Washington, D.C., October 31.

Reyes, L. 2006. Semiannual Update of the Status of New Reactor Licensing Activities and Future Planning for New Reactors, SECY-06-001, January 31.

Suggested Citation:"2 Nuclear Power 2010." National Research Council. 2008. Review of DOE's Nuclear Energy Research and Development Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11998.
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Specker, S. 2006. Emission-free Electric Generation Prospects, Resources of the Future Policy Forum. Washington D.C., March 30.

Taylor, J.J., and J. Santucci. 1997. The advanced light water reactor programme: An international endeavor. Nuclear Energy 36 (4): 313-321.

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). 2005. ABWR Cost/Schedule/COL Project at TVA’s Bellefonte Site. August.

University of Chicago (UC). 2004. The Economic Future of Nuclear Power. August.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC). 2006. Standard Review Plan (NUREG-0800) Proposed Revisions and Combined License (COL) Application Guidance, November 27. Available at http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/new-licensing/col-appl-guide.html#draft.

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There has been a substantial resurgence of interest in nuclear power in the United States over the past few years. One consequence has been a rapid growth in the research budget of DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy (NE). In light of this growth, the Office of Management and Budget included within the FY2006 budget request a study by the National Academy of Sciences to review the NE research programs and recommend priorities among those programs. The programs to be evaluated were: Nuclear Power 2010 (NP 2010), Generation IV (GEN IV), the Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative (NHI), the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP)/Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative (AFCI), and the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) facilities. This book presents a description and analysis of each program along with specific findings and recommendations. It also provides an assessment of program priorities and oversight.

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