Monday, March 7, 2011

TVA Nuclear Plans: The future is not clear.

TVA has issued its Integrated Resource Plan (IRP): TVA’s Environmental and Energy Future. Rather than offering a single plan, this document suggests a range of options between now and 2029. TVA views itself as having nuclear options that range between 1,150 MWs and 5900 MWe during that time span. it is possible that TVA may not be laying all of its nuclear cards on the table. The IRP suggests that during the time frame TVA could build as many as 5 reactors including the Watts Barn Unit 2 NPP. Other units include Bellefonte 1 and 2 which could be completed by 2020 under TVA's most ambitious projection. Two AP-1000s are projected for the 2020's. No mention is made of small reactors, even though TVA has indicated that it plans to build up to 6 B&W mPower reactors near Oak Ridge, starting about 2018. At least one of the Oak Ridge mPower reactors is expected to be financed by the Department of Energy and dedicated to producing electricity for ORNL's super computers.

It should be assumed that had the plan to build mPower reactors fallen by the wayside that would have been already announced. Thus we need to ask, how serious is the TVA IRP? The answer would seem to be, not very.


Anonymous said...


The future is never clear, obviously. The only cases that involved only 1150 MW of additional nuclear generation (WBN2 only), were the cases with little to no demand growth. The IRP is merely a guide. If WBN2 comes in at around the budget and close to on schedule, TVA will be more likely to add more nuclear, when generation growth is needed/warranted.

Additionally, SMR technology is not quite far enough along in development (in regulatory terms, at least) to be included in this study to a large degree. If the initial deployment(s) of SMR(s) are wildly successful, I could see TVA eventually adding more than 5900 MW of new nuclear capacity between now and 2039. TVA, at this point, appears likely to be the utility that will first deploy SMRs.

For you to criticize TVA for not including enough nuclear in their IRP, which is merely a guide, when TVA is at least as active if not moreso than any other American utility in the nuclear space, seems rather off-base to me.

Charles Barton said...

Anonymous it was not my intention to criticize TVA for a lack of commitment to nuclear power. The political winds are constantly changing. TVA has acknowledged that coal is going out. But Natural gas still is getting a big political shift. Completing 3 large reactors between 2013 and 2020 is about all TVA can expect to do in the short run, even if all 3 of them are old reactors that have never been completed. if TVA gets one or 2 more small reactors into the system by 2020 that will be accomplishing quite a lot. By 2020 I expect the public to wake up to the dangers that AGW poses, and momentum start to build toward a shift to nuclear. We will probably see TVA build more that 2.4 GWs worth of nuclear power between 2020 and 2030.


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