Exelon, operator of the largest nuclear power plant fleet in the USA, is relying on uprates of its existing reactors to help it meet its self-imposed greenhouse gas emissions targets.
|An uprate program is underway at Exelon's LaSalle plant
In 2008 Exelon launched its Exelon 2020: A low carbon roadmap
business strategy, under which it aims to reduce, offset or displace its 2001 carbon footprint by the year 2020. The company said "primary actions to reduce our carbon footprint include: retiring four inefficient, carbon-intensive fossil generating units in Pennsylvania; customer energy efficiency programs at ComEd and PECO; and uprates at our existing nuclear plants. These initiatives are responsible for more than 75% of our targeted carbon reductions."
Exelon plans to invest almost $5 billion between 2010 and 2015 in cost-effective, clean energy projects. The projects include energy efficiency and smart grid programs, economic renewable energy investments, and increased output from its nuclear power plants.
In a 2010 progress report, Exelon said that it had added more than 100 MWe in new nuclear generation since 2008, as "part of a series of planned capacity expansions across the existing nuclear fleet through 2017 that could create between 1300 and 1500 MWe of additional generation capacity." The company noted that "such capacity would be the equivalent output of a new advanced nuclear reactor, but comes to market faster and with less cost."
Exelon said that between now and 2014 it will add more than 400 MWe of new generating capacity through the implementation of nuclear uprates. These uprates will avoid more than 2 million metric tonnes of CO2 emissions annually, the company said. It added that it has developed a plan to implement an additional 900 MWe worth of extended power uprates, "but these projects will not be achieved until 2015 at the earliest given their long lead times and large capital investment requirements."
Uprate projects are currently underway at Exelon's Braidwood, Byron, Dresden, LaSalle and Quad Cities plants in Illinois and at its Limerick and Peach Bottom plants in Pennsylvania. Exelon is expected to add more than 75 MWe in 2010 through uprates and megawatt recovery projects as part of its long-term commitments to uprate nine Exelon Nuclear plants. The company said, "In total, 1500 nuclear-generated megawatts over the next several years would displace 8 million metric tonnes of CO2 emissions annually and help Exelon more than exceed our 2020 goal."
Exelon said that it reduced its own energy use by 27% during 2009, compared with the 2001 baseline. "Notably, Exelon's nuclear plants are expected to continue to reduce their internal energy use even though planned uprates increase the total amount of auxiliary power required," the company said.
More than 90% of Exelon's electrical output is generated by nuclear power plants. However, the company noted that some 93% of its direct greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to its fossil fuel plant operations.
Exelon's chairman and CEO John Rowe said: "We are very proud of Exelon 2020. It reflects the unique contribution of our fleet of 17 nuclear reactors and the planning we began in 1998 to prepare for increasing environmental limitations on coal."
He added, "Exelon is halfway to our goal of abating 15.7 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year. This is equivalent to taking about 1.5 million cars off the road every year." He added, "Given this progress, I am confident that we will achieve our 2020 goal."
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News