Nuclear energy features heavily in the Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA's) newly completed integrated resource plan (IRP), which will direct the authority's developments over the next two decades.
|TVA's Watts Bar nuclear plant (Image: TVA)
The plan identifies the resources that will be needed to satisfy expected energy demand in the Tennessee Valley region over the next 20 years, said the authority. Together with an environmental impact statement (EIS), it was draw up after "extensive analysis and collaboration with TVA partners and stakeholders" over a two-year period.
In its draft IRP, TVA developed six future energy scenarios plus two different iterations of a reference forecast, then applied five different strategies to different scenarios to arrive at three top-ranked strategies for further investigation. From those top-ranked strategies, a so-called recommended planning direction was developed, which was then evaluated over all eight of the identified scenarios.
The final recommended planning direction sees the TVA adding nuclear capacity from a minimum of 1150 MWe - represented by the ongoing completion of Watts Bar unit 2 - up to a maximum of 5900 MWe in the period 2014-2029. New natural gas-fired capacity of 900-9300 MWe is foreseen on a similar timescale, while new coal capacity of up to 900 MWe might be needed by the end of the forecast period.
Going further, nuclear expansion is called for under all scenarios except those that forecast a significant economic downturn, when no load growth was anticipated.
Next steps recommended for nuclear energy in the IRP document include completing project specific evaluation of the technology earmarked for new nuclear capacity at the at Bellefonte site and refining timings for the project. Work was abandoned on two 1213 MWe Babcock & Wilcox pressurized water reactors at the site in the 1980s, but the TVA has requested that site's construction licence be reinstated with a view to completing one of the units as a preferable route to an entire new-build project. The document also recommends the continuation of studies on the development of small modular reactors.
The strategy underlines TVA's already avowed plan to "lead the nation in improved air quality and increased nuclear production," the authority claims. "TVA's IRP has produced an energy resource strategy that will help TVA meet the Tennessee Valley region's energy demands in the future in a sustainable manner. Implementing this strategy will also help TVA meet its renewed vision - to be one of the nation’s leading providers of low-cost and cleaner energy by 2020," it concludes.
The TVA's board of directors will be asked to approve the recommended planning direction at a meeting on 14 April.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News