Notification: The Nuclear News and Views will be on hiatus for the month of August. It will resume publication in September.

In this week’s issue, we identify how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has reinforced global interest in nuclear energy as a means of strengthening energy security and decreasing dependence on Russia. We spotlight a proposal from the European Union to cut natural gas use by 15% in the coming months as member states fear a full cut-off of Russian gas supplies and how this has impacted Germany’s once ironclad decision to shut down its last remaining nuclear reactors. Finally, we highlight key nuclear technology, security, and political developments, reports, and analyses.
Russia's Invasion of Ukraine has Energized Nuclear Power
Yeseul Woo, Della Ratta Fellow, Partnership for Global Security

The European Union proposed that member states cut their natural gas use by 15% over the coming months as the bloc braces for a possible cutoff of Russian natural gas supplies. While the initial cuts would be voluntary, the European Commission also asked for the power to impose mandatory reductions across the bloc in the event of an EU-wide emergency. In response to this crisis, Germany is rethinking its plan to shut down its final three nuclear reactors in December. Once considered an unquestionable decision, Germany’s wavering on its nuclear exit portends a potential major energy policy reversal. As Russia continues to weaponize its energy exports, Poland has added another vector of pressure on Germany to keep operating the reactors by considering an offer to lease them. The idea originated with left-leaning Polish members of Parliament, one of whom opined, “In 2022, shutting down power in low-carbon sources is a climate crime… [and we need to]…publicize the absurdity of the situation that is taking place in Germany.” Separately, the International Energy Agency (IEA) recommends that the world’s nuclear energy capacity double by 2050 to improve energy security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Impact of the Ukraine Invasion on Nuclear Affairs and Exports
Russia’s large share in the global nuclear fuel market presents a major challenge for Western nations as they try to achieve energy independence from Moscow. Rosatom claims that it controls 36% of the global enrichment services market. To reduce this dependence, U.S. nuclear fuel supplier Centrus Energy has received approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to produce enriched uranium beginning this year. Additionally, the United States is collaborating with Japan on creating a more resilient supply chain.
Australia and France shipped vital radiation protection and monitoring equipment to Ukraine in order to reduce the risk of a nuclear accident or radiological emergency. The delivery consisted of more than 160 dosimeters and monitors for safety and radiation protection as well as hundreds of items of personal protective equipment. The shipment was the first to Ukraine through the IAEA’s Response and Assistance Network (RANET), with Australia and France being among 12 states that have offered to provide specialized equipment to Ukraine.
According to Ukrainian officials at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Russian forces have abducted a Ukrainian nuclear power plant official. The official, named Ihor Khayshnin, was taken to a destination, and Ukrainian nuclear utility Energoatom cannot currently locate him. Energoatom stated that the Russian invaders are trying to destabilize the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant by abducting top management personnel.
Nuclear Collaborations
Global Atomic and Enernet Global Inc. concluded an agreement for the supply of a hybrid power plant for the Dasa uranium project currently under development in Niger. Enernet is expected to complete the early engineering in late 2022. Once complete, the construction phase of the power plant will begin. The hybrid plant is due for delivery in 2023.
The Korean company DL E&C Co. and Canadian nuclear reactor vendor Terrestrial Energy have agreed to cooperate on the development and deployment of the Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR). Both sides aim to commercialize the IMSR plant by 2031. The IMSR uses molten salt as a coolant and fuel, and will be capable of grid-based electric power generation, and hydrogen and ammonia production.
Google and Chevron are investing in a $250 million fundraising campaign for TAE Technologies, which is a nuclear fusion startup that has now raised a total of $1.2 billion. A Japanese investment company, Sumitomo Corporation of Americas, is also participating in order to help bring TAE’s fusion technology to the Asia-Pacific region. TAE aims to have a commercial-scale fusion reactor that will deliver energy to the grid in the early 2030s.
Rosatom’s Training Academy, Rosenergoatom, and Uzbekistan’s Agency for Nuclear Power Engineering Development signed a memorandum of understanding intended to develop the national nuclear infrastructure for Uzbekistan. Special attention will be paid to the training program for teachers in Uzbekistan, technical tours to Russia’s nuclear power plants, and apprenticeships in the Russian nuclear power plant training centers. Uzbekistan’s electricity generation strategy envisages 15% of its electricity to come from nuclear by 2030.
The Norwegian Nuclear Decommissioning (NND) organization awarded an engineering company to Westinghouse Electric Company to plan the decommissioning of Norway’s two nuclear research reactors. The three-year agreement includes options of up to six years and is valued at $99 million. Norway’s two research reactors, Halden and Kjeller, were declared permanently shut down in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
Rosatom and Myanmar’s Ministry of Science and Technology signed memoranda of understanding (MoU) on cooperation in nuclear energy. The MoUs cover cooperation on training and skills development in the field of nuclear energy and shaping positive public opinion on nuclear energy in Myanmar. These agreements follow a preliminary agreement between the two parties in 2015 to cooperate in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
Nuclear Policy, Governance, and Geopolitics
France plans to pay around $9.8 billion in order to fully nationalize state-backed electricity company Electricite de France (EDF). The French Finance Ministry said that it would offer EDF shareholders €12 per share for the 14% of the company’s stock that the government doesn’t already own. The move is meant to give the government more control to fix ongoing problems that have plagued France’s nuclear power program and follow President Emmanuel Macron’s pledge to shield consumers from soaring electricity prices.
Canadian company Candu Energy signed the first contract with Romanian nuclear utility Nuclearelectrica for the refurbishment of unit 1 at Romania’s Cernavoda nuclear power plant. The contract covers engineering and early procurement for the retubing of the reactor core, which will extend the unit’s lifetime by 30 years. Nuclearelectrica plans to continue operating Cernavoda 1 until the end of 2026 and then undertake the refurbishment between 2027 and 2029.
The Belgian government and Engie subsidiary Electrabel signed a non-binding letter of intent on terms for the operation of the Doel 4 and Tihange 3 reactors for a further 10 years. In March 2022, the Belgian government began negotiations with Electrabel with a view to extending the operation of Doel 4 and Tihange 3, which are currently set to shut down in 2025.
South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) reported that the Shin Hanul nuclear power plant's unit 1 commenced test operation on July 15th; it will enter commercial operation in September this year. MOTIE plans for Shin Hanul units 3 and 4 to enter into service as early as 2024. Additionally, MOTIE announced that the South Korean government would invest 1.4 trillion won ($1.07 billion) in research and development related to the transport, storage, and disposal of high-level radioactive waste.
Turkey began construction of the fourth reactor at the Akkuyu nuclear power plant in Mersin province. Rosatom is building Turkey’s four VVER-1200 reactors at Akkuyu under a build-own-operate (BOO) model agreement, with the first unit due to start operating in 2023. When complete, the Akkuyu plant will deliver around 10% of Turkey's electricity demand.

Egypt poured the first concrete for unit 1 of the El Dabaa nuclear power plant, marking the official start of construction of the first of four Russian-supplied VVER-1200 reactors at the site. Construction permits for units 1 and 2 of the El Dabaa plant were granted on 30 June 2021, with the applications for construction licenses for units 3 and 4 are currently pending. Rosatom will construct the plant and also supply Russian nuclear fuel for its entire life cycle. Rosatom will also assist Egypt in training personnel and plant maintenance for the first 10 years of its operation.

The United Kingdom’s government has overridden the advice of its own planning inspector in order to approve the building of the Sizewell nuclear power station in Suffolk. Energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng gave approval for the 3.2 GW twin-reactor plant, overruling the independent planning inspector who rejected the scheme based on concerns about long-term water supply and its impact on protected habitats and species. The project remains subject to a final investment decision expected next year.

Australian company Paladin Energy Limited seeks to return the Namibian Langer Heinrich uranium mine to production in the first quarter of 2024. Production commenced in 2007 with a capacity of 2.7 million pounds U308 per year but was halted in 2018 due to low uranium prices. Paladin reported that the Langer Heinrich mine remains a low-risk, robust, long-life operation that is poised to take advantage of the improving uranium market conditions to deliver sustainable value creation for all stakeholders.

The United Kingdom launched a $90 million Nuclear Fuel Fund to accelerate domestic production of fuel for nuclear power reactors, reducing the need for foreign imports and recycling the material used in nuclear power stations to generate electricity. Up to $75 million in grants will be awarded to support the development costs of investments into new nuclear fuel capabilities in the United Kingdom, supporting a range of reactor types and sizes. The government also issued a Request for Information asking industry to share views on the proposed fund design and pipeline of potential projects.

In response to falling gas supplies from Russia, Germany is considering extending the life of its three remaining nuclear power plants. The Economic Ministry stated that power grid operators had requested a second assessment of the viability of nuclear power as Germany’s remaining nuclear plants are scheduled to be shut down by the end of the year. The new assessment will consider the potential impact of higher gas prices on electricity prices, more serious gas supply outages, and a halt in French nuclear power production.

Hot functional testing has been completed at the fourth reactor of the UAE's Barakah nuclear power plant. The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) announced that the Korean-designed APR-1400 reactor is scheduled to start operations next year. Once all four units are fully operational, the Barakah plant will produce up to 25% of the UAE's electricity needs and will prevent 22.4 million tonnes of carbon emissions every year.

China poured the first safety-related concrete for unit 3 at the Haiyang nuclear power plant, marking the official start of construction of the first of two CAP1000 pressurized water reactors. In April of this year, China’s State Council approved the construction of two new reactors at the Haiyang, Sanmen, and Lufeng nuclear power plant sites. A month later, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) signed a contract for the civil construction of the nuclear island and installation engineering for the Haiyang nuclear plant.

Negotiations to bring Iran back into compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) are coming to an end. France’s foreign minister said there were only a few weeks left to revive the deal, and it was up to Iran to sign what has been negotiated. The United States remains concerned that Iran has made alarming progress in enriching uranium and says Iran has tacked on demands unrelated to discussions of its nuclear program.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid signed a joint declaration committing to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The statement says that the United States will use all means available to deny Iran the ability to arm itself with nuclear weapons, as well as a pledge by Washington to continue U.S. military aid to Israel. Iran insists that it has no intention of building a nuclear program.
Domestic Civil Nuclear Developments
Holtec submitted Part II of a federal loan application to the Department of Energy’s Loan Program Office to fund the company’s plan to build four of its SMR-160 reactors. Holtec is moving forward with a $7.4 billion plan to build up to four small modular reactors and a reactor factory that would be based in New Jersey. The company also signed a memorandum of agreement with Entergy Corporation to evaluate the feasibility of deploying one or more SMR-160s.
X-energy has selected Zachry Group and a combined team of Burns & McDonnell and Day & Zimmermann as constructors to collaborate on the next phases of design and deployment of the Xe-100 advanced reactor fleet. The Xe-100 is a high-temperature gas reactor (HTGR) being deployed under the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program. There can be up to 12 reactor units at a single site.
Kairos Power commissioned a molten salt purification plant (MSPP) that will produce large quantities of a high-purity coolant for nuclear reactors. The MSPP is located at Materion Corp.’s campus in Ohio and will produce a mixture of lithium fluoride and beryllium fluoride salts. The liquid fluoride salts will be used to cool several test reactors that Kairos Power has planned as part of its pathway to commercialize a commercial-scale fluoride salt-cooled high-temperature reactor (KP-FHR).
A report issued by the New York Independent System Operator found that electricity from oil and natural gas increased 12% following the shutdown of the Indian Point nuclear power plant last year. Former New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s government brokered the 2017 deal with Entergy that led to Indian Point’s shutdown. However, oil and natural gas now contribute 89% of the state’s energy, an increase from 77% when both of the Indian Point reactors were still operational. The figures demonstrate how much New York will need to do in order to achieve its climate change goals.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued the final environmental impact statement from Holtec International’s proposed HI-STORE interim storage facility. The proposed facility would be built at a site located near Carlsbad on land owned by the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance (ELEA). The NRC Staff will make a licensing decision following completion of its safety evaluation report, expected in January 2023. In response to this recommendation, New Mexico governor Michelle Lujan Grisham released a statement condemning the decision and stating that New Mexico would not be willing to host a radioactive waste facility.
The U.S. Department of Energy awarded a 10-year, $3 billion management and operating contract to Virginia-based Tularosa Basin Range Services (TBRS) for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico. TBRS will support the DoE Office of Environmental Management’s mission by managing, operating, and maintaining the WIPP.
Noteworthy Research
The International Energy Agency (IEA) released a report outlining how countries can use nuclear energy to improve energy security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The agency recommends that the world’s nuclear energy capacity double by 2050, with construction of new plants needed in all countries that are able to build them. The report regards small modular reactors (SMRs) as holding great promise for nuclear energy due to their lower cost, smaller size, and ability to significantly reduce emissions. The report also notes that 27 of the 31 reactors that have started construction since 2017 have been designed by either China or Russia.
The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report recommending that regulators introduce additional security features after discovering that its investigators could use forged licenses to acquire small quantities of radioactive material. The primary recommendations are for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to require vendors to verify category 3 licenses with the appropriate regulatory authority and add security features to its licensing process. Using shell companies with fraudulent licenses, GAO investigators could purchase a category 3 quantity of radioactive material of concern from two different vendors in the USA. The investigation showed that the current license verification processes can be compromised, and that even a small amount of these materials could be used to build a dirty bomb.
The Fusion Industry Association (FIA) published The Global Fusion Industry in 2022 report on the status and potential of nuclear fusion technology. Over the past year, the report found that $2.83 billion of investment was declared by nuclear fusion companies, an increase from $2.03 billion the previous year. The FIA says that the survey showed that electricity generation is the primary market for nuclear fusion technology, with an increasing confidence that fusion power will be on the grid sometime in the 2030s.
The IAEA published the annual data from the Power Reactor Information System (PRIS). The report found that at the end of 2021, global operating nuclear power capacity was 389.5 gigawatts of electricity (GWe), provided by 437 operational reactors in 32 countries. As of December 2021, a total capacity of 58.1 GWe from 56 reactors was under construction in 19 countries. The biggest increase in nuclear power production came from Asia, rising 10% to the highest level in a decade. The IAEA argued that the comprehensive data shows nuclear power played a key role in helping the economy bounce back from the 2020 lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Nuclear Conversation
New items and summaries compiled by:

Patrick Kendall, Program Manager, Partnership for Global Security

Yeseul Woo, Della Ratta Fellow, Partnership for Global Security
For twenty-five years the Partnership for Global Security (PGS) has developed actionable responses to global security challenges by engaging international, private sector, and multidisciplinary expert partners to assess policy needs, identify effective strategies, and drive demonstrable results.