During the current heat dome event in Texas and other southern states, three nuclear units in these states have failed to operate at 100% power:
Texas’ Comanche Peak unit 1 was at 0% power generation on June 17 and has been very slow in recovering up to 78% power today.
Mississippi’s Grand Gulf unit 1 has been around 96%to 97% power generation for over 4 weeks.
Louisiana’s River Bend Station unit 1 has been going up and down between 0% power generation on June 15 and 100% power today. In between it rose to 10% power on June 16, then 91% power on June 20, then dropping to 63% power on June 21, then 95% power on June 22, and then dropping to 73% power on June 25.
“Yesterday at 6:31CT, one of the four nuclear units in Texas stopped producing power,” Doug Lewin, an energy consultant and president of Austin-based Stoic Energy, wrote on Twitter last Friday. “A new fast acting backup reserve (ECRS, which is mostly batteries) stabilized the grid and prevented bigger problems.”
It happened again Tuesday, when a coal power plant went offline, Lewin noted in a second tweet this week. “This happens a lot during extreme temperatures. We’ll know in a few days which plant it was. Happily for Texans, battery storage filled in the gap,” he wrote. “Storage replaced 75 percent of the lost coal in minutes.”
Solar, too, played a role in preventing blackouts this week, said Lewin, who hosts the Texas Power Podcast. Texas now leads the nation when it comes to renewable energy, with a total of 17 gigawatts of solar power operational this year—or the equivalent of 17 nuclear power plants—which delivered much-needed electricity to the grid as demand skyrocketed, he said.
Better energy storage such as batteries, or pumped water, or dozens of others under development all can help reduce the need for fossil fuel baseload plants. Once again the need for more investment is huge.
I see no evidence of your claim that the heat dome over Texas is causing problems for the nuclear power plants. There are four nuclear plants in Texas. Since June 17, three of the four plants have been at 100% of full power output. Comanche Peak #1 tripped offline on June 16 due to a feedwater pump problem causing a low steam generator level trip. Comanche Peak #1 was back in service on 06/19 and has been at 78% output since 06/20. I don’t know why they are currently limited to 78% power, but I see no evidence it is related to the heat wave, since Unit 2 continues to operate at 100%. The combined output of the four nuclear plants in Texas is about 4620 MW, or about 93% of their full power.
Link below to the NRC daily report for June 30. The four Texas plants (South Texas #1, #2, Comanche Peak #1, #2) are in NRC region 4. I included the output for Grand Gulf and River Bend, which you mention. Grand Gulf is in Mississippi and River Bend is in Louisiana.
Overall for the US, year after year, the capacity factor for nuclear is above 90%. In 2022, it was 92.6%. The capacity factor for solar PV is around 25%, while the factor for wind is about 36%. See link below.
If nuclear power is no good because it doesn’t always operate at 100%, then wind and solar are also no good, since their capacity factors are less than 50%. Less than 30% for solar.
Wind and solar do have a place in the overall energy mix. Their fuel costs are zero, and they can supplement the grid when weather conditions are optimal. I have no problem with using wind and solar. But there are too many people who think renewables are all that anyone needs for running the power grid. It is not that simple.
The permitting process for large nuclear power plants has already been streamlined. The permitting process for small modular power plants is being developed. Solar and wind permitting also needs upgrading.
The shameful political influence of fossil fuels industries constantly trying to stop cheap, clean and safe renewable energy from being able to build needs to be eliminated.
Wind did not experience 1150 MW of power suddenly tripped because of a failure.
Solar did not experience 1150 MW of power suddenly tripped because of a failure.
If nuclear is so great in Texas, then why is Texas shunning any new nuclear power plants?
The answer is cost (money) and schedule (time) to build nuclear tells Texans that it is cheaper, cleaner, and safer to build wind and solar.
Yes we all know that we should be building renewable energy and energy storage at a much faster pace to meet climate change needs. We do not need to sink so much money into nuclear that takes so long to build. Renewables are easy and fast to build and energy storage is becoming easy and fast to build.
That was the idea behind the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor. The NRC pre-approved the design so customers using that design could apply for a license right away before construction started. Another streamline technique is to place new reactors at the site of existing reactors, because that eliminates a lot of the public process. This was the plan for the Vogtle 3 & 4 reactors.
However, despite all the advantages, the construction was project managed by the Keystone Kops and cost over runs and project delays after the project started were catastrophically large.
The doldo of consequence seldom comes lubed. After the Vogtle debacle, there is no scenario where traditional, large scale nuclear will ever even be proposed in the US.
There is a bright side however. Fortunately the job creators did not suffer. The project’s primary owner, Southern Company CEO Thomas A. Fanning’s who was in charge of the disaster became the highest-paid utility CEO in America with $27 million in total compensation.