Nuclear Science: U.S. Electricity Needs and DOE's Civilian Reactor Development Program

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-05-29.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

I                                                                                      :i
                            United   States   General   Accounting   Office            i

    GAO                     Report to Congressional Requesters

    May 1990
                            NUCLEAR SCIENCE
                            U.S. Electricity Needs
                            and DOE’s Civilian
                            Reactor Development


    <;AO,‘RC:ED-90-15   1
                   United States
GAO                General Accounting Office
                   Washington, D.C. 20548

                   Resources, Community, and
                   Economic Development Division


                   May 29,199O

                   The Honorable John Glenn
                   Chairman, Committee on
                     Governmental Affairs
                   United States Senate

                   The Honorable Marilyn Lloyd
                   Chairman, Subcommittee on Energy
                     Research,and Development
                   Committee on Science,Space,
                     and Technology
                   House of Representatives
                   In responseto your letters dated September 11,1989, and August 30,
                   1989, and subsequentdiscussionswith your offices, we agreed to pro-
                   vide information on (1) projected U.S. electricity needsuntil the year
                   1998 and (2) the status of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Civilian
                   Reactor Development Program to meet future electricity needs.In addi-
                   tion, we agreed to obtain the views of selectedutility company and
                   nuclear industry officials on DOE'S efforts to promote the development of
                   advanced reactors.

                   Electricity projections developed by the North American Electric Relia-
Results in Brief   bility Council (NERC) appear to be the best available estimates of future
                   U.S. electricity needs.NERC, which represents all segmentsof the utility
                   industry, forecasts that before 1998 certain regions of the country, par-
                   ticularly in the more heavily populated eastern half of the United
                   States, may experience shortfalls during summer peak demand periods.
                   These forecasts consideredthe utility companies’ plans, as of 1989, to
                   meet electricity needsduring the period; these plans include such mea-
                   sures as constructing additional generators and conducting demand
                   management programs.
                   Working closely with the nuclear industry, DOE is supporting the devel-
                   opment of several reactor technologiesto ensure that nuclear power
                   remains a viable electricity supply option. In fiscal year 1990, DOE'S
                   Civilian Reactor Development Program was funded at $263 million. DOE
                   is using these funds to support industry-led efforts to develop light-
                   water reactors (LWR), advanced liquid-metal reactors (LMR), and modular
                   high-temperature gas-cooledreactors (MHTGR) that are safe, environmen-
                   tally acceptable,and economically competitive. The utility company

                   Page 1                      GAO/RCED-90-181   Civilian   Reactor   Development   Program

              officials do not expect these reactors to be operational until shortly
              after 2000.
              Utility company officials in the Southeast and nuclear industry officials
              that we interviewed generally support DOE’S approach to developing
              advanced nuclear reactors. However, the utility officials do not plan to
              purchase advanced nuclear reactors until after 2000 becauseof the high
              costs of constructing the reactors and public opposition to nuclear
              power. One official said that DOE should nonethelesscontinue its work in
              this area in the event these circumstanceschange and nuclear power
              becomesan option in the next 6 to 10 years.

              We performed our work between October 1989 and February 1990 in
Scopeand       accordancewith generally acceptedgovernment auditing standards. To
Methodology    assessfuture U.S. electricity needs,we relied, for the most part, on pro-
              jections developed by NERC, an independent council representing all util-
              ity industry segments(including investor-owned, federal, state/
              municipal, and rural electric cooperatives). DOE officials recommended
              that we use NERC’S annual lo-year electricity needsforecast.4NERC devel-
              oped its forecast by extracting data on the peak demand, capacity
              resources,generating unit planned additions, and retirements from data
              provided to DOE by utility companies,and from regional data submitted
              to it directly from its member councils. We interviewed NERC officials
              who prepared these projections.
              To determine the status of DOE’S Civilian Reactor Development Program,
              we reviewed planning documents, strategy papers, schedules,and other
              DOE reports related to the program. We also analyzed DOE budget data
              and verified this information with DOE officials. In addition, we inter-
              viewed officials in DOE’S Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for
              Nuclear Energy, the Advanced Light Water Reactor Program, and the
              Advanced Reactor Program. We also discussedDOE’S Civilian Reactor
              Development Program with officials representing five Southeastern util-
              ity companies and nuclear industry officials from General Electric, Gen-
              eral Atomics, and Westinghouse.

              We discussedthis report with DOE and NERC officials, all of whom gener-
              ally agreed with its contents, and incorporated their clarifications where
              41989 Reliability Assessment: The Future of Bulk Electric System Reliability in North America 1989-
              1998 (Sept. 1989) and 1989 Electricity Supply and Demand for 1989-1998 (Oct. 1989).

              Page 8                                GAO/RCED-90451      Civilian   Reactor   Development   Program
Page 6   GAO/RCED-90-181   Civilian   Reactor   Development   Program
Appendix V
Descriptions of         Light-Water Reactors
                        Modular High-Temperature Gas-CooledReactors
Civilian Nuclear        Liquid-Metal Reactors
Appendix VI                                                                                                  32
Major Contributors to   Resources,Community, and Economic Development                                        32
                           Division, Washington, D.C.
This Report
Tables                  Table I. 1: Electricity Share of All Energy Consumedby                               11
                            the Industrial, Residential, and Commercial Sectorsin
                        Table II. 1: DOE Expenditures in Civilian Reactor                                    18
                            Development Program

Figures                 Figure I. 1: NERC-U.S.Additions by Fuel Source(1989                                  13
                            Through 1998 ForecastedPercentages)
                        Figure 1.2:Peak Demand and Projected Available                                       16
                            Resources(1989-98 Forecast)
                        Figure 111.1:NERC4J.S.Map                                                            26

                        Page 7                     GAO/RCED-90-161   Civilian   Reactor   Development   Program
Page 9   GAO/WED-90-151   Civilian   Reactor   Development   Program
                                             Appendlx    I
                                             pr0jeet.d   U.S. Energy Needa   198998

                                             As an end-useconsumer of energy to fuel their generators, electric utili-
                                             ties consumedabout 31 percent of the total U.S. energy consumption in
                                             1979. This share of total U.S. energy consumption increasedto 36 per-
                                             cent in 1988 and, according to the Department of Energy (DOE), is
                                             expected to rise to about 42 percent by 2000. When the amount of
                                             energy used in transportation is excluded from the total of all U.S.
                                             energy consumed,electricity made up about 49 percent of the total U.S.
                                             energy consumedin 1988 and is expected to increaseto about 66 percent
                                             by 2000.

                                             Current DOE electricity forecasts indicate that the industrial, commer-
                                             cial, and residential sectors are all expected to substantially increase
                                             their consumption of electricity during the decade.Table I. 1 illustrates
                                             the actual and projected growth in electricity used in these sectors in
                                             1988 and 2000.
Table 1.1: Electrlclty Share of All Energy
Consumed by the Industrial, Residential,     Percent of total energy consumption which is electricity
and Commercial Sectors In 1988 and           Sector                                                                           1988            2000
                                             Industrial                                                                          14              18
                                             Commercial                                                                          41             48
                                             Residential                                                                         32             39
                                             Source: Prepared by GAO from DOE data.

                                             US. utilities are undertaking efforts to meet this increased demand for
          Are Taking                         electricity that may occur in the 1990s.Although many existing electri-
steps to Meet the                            cal generating units are projected to be retired by 1998, utilities are
Increased Demand for                         planning to construct additional electricity generating units and better
                                             managetheir existing capacity by increasing the use of demand manage-
Electricity                                  ment programs.”

Generating Unit Additions                    According to NERC, approximately 729 new electrical generating units
and Retirements                              are planned to be added to the nation’s supply system between 1989 and
                                             1998, which will increase the supply by about 71,400 MW." Nonutility

                                             “Demand management programs include all activities undertaken by electric utilities or their custom-
                                             ers to influence the amount and timing of electricity use to reduce peak demand.

                                             “This total excludes the Shoreham nuclear plant. According to Long Island Light Company officials,
                                             Shoreham will not be permitted to operate as a nuclear facility in the state of New York, and power
                                             generation is not expected to occur ln this assessment period.

                                             Page 11                                GAO/RCED9@151       Civilian   Reactor   Development   Program
                                          Projected   U.S. Energy Needs ifi8fi.98

Figure 1.1: NERC4J.S. Additions by Fuel
Source (1989 Through 1998 Forecasted
Percentages)                                          3                                          ;;-FIRED



                                                                                                 PUMPED STORAGE

                                                                                                 NON-UTILITIES        (includes different fuel



                                                                                                 OTHER FUEL TYPES (includes refuse,
                                                                                                 solar, biomass, etc.)

                                          Source: Prepared by GAO using NERC data.

Demand Management                         Demand managementprograms provide the utilities with the ability to
Programs to ReducePea,k                   reduce demand and to possibly delay the need for somefuture electric
                                          generating capacity. NERCprojects that the utility companies’ demand
Demand                                    managementprograms will reduce the U.S. peak demand for electricity
                                          in 1998 from 623,000 MWto 608,000 MW. According to NERC’S1989 Relia-
                                          bility Assessment,
                                          Demand management includes conservation programs, improvements in the effi-
                                          ciency of both primary energy and electricity use, utility control of certain customer
                                          loads, economic incentives embodied in rate design, contractually interruptible cus-
                                          tomers, and many other similar activities.

                                          Only that portion of demand managementunder the direct control of
                                          electric utility system operators or interruptible by the customer at the

                                          Page 13                                   GAO/WED-90-151    Civilian   Reactor   Development   Program

                                         Appendix    I
                                         Projected   U.S. Energy Needu 1989.99

Figure 1.2: Peak Demand and Projected
Avallable Rerource8 (1989-98 Forecast)


                                           1989          1990    1991     1992      1993     1994         1QM            lSS6      1997      1996
                                           Thousands ot MW (Summsr)

                                                  -        ProjectedAvailableResources
                                                  ----     ForecastPeakDermandless LoadManagement
                                         Source: Prepared by GAO using NEW data.

                                         Although figure I.3 indicates that, according to NERC'S data, a shortfall
                                         nationally will not occur until 1998, forecasted electricity demand in
                                         someregions may exceedexpected available capacity generation earlier
                                         than expected, particularly if peak demand continues to exceedfore-
                                         casts. The following summarizes NERC'S forecasts of anticipated electric-
                                         ity needsin someof its regions within the next 10 years. (App. III
                                         provides additional information about the NERC regions.)
                                         East Central Area Reliability Coordination Agreement: A small decline
                                         in the availability of generating equipment, a slight increase in the rate
                                         of demand growth, or other factors such as implementation of mandated
                                         air pollution control strategies and transmission limitations, could
                                         quickly reduce the future electric system reliability to unacceptable
                                         Mid-Atlantic Area Council: More capacity additions are required in some
                                         years to provide adequate capacity margins, although planned capacity
                                         additions have been increased as a result of higher peak demands.

                                         Page 15                                 GAO/RCED-SO-161    Civilian   Reactor     Development    Program
                         B-239101                                                                                         ,i

                         officials we spoke with, all of whom were in the Southeast, generally
                         supported DOE’S efforts in developing these technologies.However, most
                         of the officials do not plan to purchase nuclear reactors until after 2000
                         becauseof the high costs of constructing nuclear reactors and current
                         public opposition to nuclear power.’

                         Electricity supply relative to demand remains an important area of con-
Meeting the Nation’s     tern. According to NERC, from 1989 to 1998 the U.S. summer peak
Electricity Needs Is a   demand for electricity is projected to increase approximately 2 percent
Concern                  per year from 622,000 megawatts (MW) in 1989 to 623,000 MW in 1998.2
                         During this period, the projected available electrical generating
                         resourceswill increase about 1 percent per year from approximately
                         644,000 MW in 1989 to 606,000 MW in 1998.3Certain US. regions, partic-
                         ularly in the more heavily populated eastern half of the country, may
                         experience shortfalls during projected summer peak demand periods.

                         In 1989, when these forecasts were made, utility companiesindicated
                         that they were completing the construction of nuclear generators, as
                         well as adding primarily oil-fired, coal-fired, and gas-fired generators.
                         Also, they planned to use demand managementprograms, such as agree-
                         ments with industrial users to interrupt their power supply during peak
                         demand periods. Utility company officials we interviewed said they
                         would take whatever measureswere necessaryto ensure that their
                         areas had sufficient electricity during projected shortfall periods.

DOE Working With         ment of several reactor technologiesto ensure that nuclear power
Nuclear Industry on      remains a viable energy supply option. DOE expects to obtain Nuclear
Advanced Reactors        Regulatory Commission (NRC) design certification for a large-sizeLWR in
                         1991 and two mid-size LWRSin 1995. In addition to water-cooled reac-
                         tors, DOE is also supporting the development of MHTGRS and LMRS. DOE

                         lElectricity Supply: What Can Re Done to Revive the Nuclear Option? (GAO/RCED-89-67, Mar. 23,
                         1989) contains a more detailed discussion of possible government actions to revive the nuclear option.
                         2According to NERC, many factors can influence electricity use and peak demand to the extent that
                         the actual peak outcomes could vary from those projected. There is an 80 percent probability that the
                         peak 1998 summer demand would fall within 666,000 MW to 673,000 MW.

                         “According to NERC, the possible loss of existing capacity, due to legislative changes such as amend-
                         ments to the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7401, *seq.) and to delays in completing construction of new
                         generating capacity, could reduce projected available resources.

                         Page 2                                 GAO/RCED-90-161      Ch4lian   Reactor   Development   Program

appropriate. However, as agreed with your offices, we did not obtain
written agency comments on this report.
As arranged with your offices, unless you publicly announceits contents
earlier, we plan no further distribution of this report until 30 days from
the date of this letter. At that time, we will send copies to the Secretary
of Energy. Copieswill also be made available to others upon request.
Pleasecall me at (202) 276-1441 if you have any questions about this
report. Major contributors to this report are listed in appendix VI.

Victor S. Rezendes
Director of Energy Issues

Page 4                       GAO/RCED-W161   Civilian   Reactor   Development   Program

Letter                                                                                                         1

Appendix I                                                                                                    10
Projected U.S. Energy   Electricity Demand Expected to Increase                                               10
                        Utilities Are Taking Steps to Meet the Increased Demand                               11
Needs 1989-98                 for Electricity
                        Projected Shortages                                                                   14

Appendix II                                                                                                   17
Status of Civilian      DOE’sCivilian Reactor Development Program                                             17
                        Nuclear Industry and Utility Company Comments                                         23
Reactor Development
and Utility and
Nuclear Industry
Appendix III                                                                                                  26
North American          East Central Area Reliability Coordination Agreement                                  26
                        Electric Reliability Council of Texas                                                 26
Electric Reliability    Mid-Atlantic Area Council                                                             26
Council- U.S.           Mid-America Interconnected Network                                                    26
                        Mid-Continent Area Power Pool                                                         26
Regions                 Northeast Power Coordinating Council                                                  26
                        Southeastern Electric Reliability Council                                             27
                        Southwest Power Pool                                                                  27
                        Western Systems Coordinating Council                                                  27

Appendix IV                                                                                                   28
Major Shifts and        Program Shift or Decision                                                             28
Decisions in DOE’s
Civilian Reactor
Development Program

                        Page 6                      GAO/RCFD4JO-151   Civilian   Reactor   Development   Program


DOE       Department of Energy
F&AR      East Central Area Reliability Coordination Agreement
EPRI      Electric Power ResearchInstitute
ERCUI’    Electric Reliability Council of Texas
GAO       General Accounting Office
LMR       liquid-metal reactor
LWR       light-water reactor
          Mid-Atlantic Area Council
MAIN      Mid-America Interconnected Network
MAPP      Mid-Continent Area Power Pool
MHTGR     modular high-temperature gas-cooledreactor
MW        megawatts
NERC      North American Electric Reliability Council
NPCC      Northeast Power Coordinating Council
NRC       Nuclear Regulatory Commission
SERC      Southeastern Electric Reliability Council
SPP       Southwest Power Pool
wssc      Western Systems Coordinating Council

Page 8                     GAO/RCED-90-151   Civilian   Reactor   Development   Progrean
Appendix I

ProjectedU.S. Energy Needs1989-98

                       The North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) projects that
                       from 1989 to 1998,’ U.S. electrical peak demand2will increase from
                       622,000 megawatts (MW) to 623,000 MW.3 The utility companies’ demand
                       managementprograms will reduce this amount to 608,000 MW by 1998.
                       Utility companieswill also increasetheir electrical generating capacity
                       to attempt to meet demand by taking such measuresas constructing
                       additional electrical generators and purchasing electricity from nonutil-
                       ity generators. Despite these efforts, NERC projects that by 1998, availa-
                       ble resourcesin the United States will reach 606,000 MW, resulting in a
                       possible 2,000 MW national shortfall. Prior to 1998, certain U.S. regions,
                       particularly in the more heavily populated eastern half of the country,
                       may experience shortfalls during summer peak demand periods.4Utility
                       company officials told us they would take whatever measureswere
                       neededto ensure that their areas had sufficient electrical generating
                       capacity during projected shortfall periods,

                       The use of electricity has been growing, and this trend is expected to
Electricity Demand     continue. In the United States, peak demand for electricity occurs during
Expected to Increase   the summer months when businessesand residencesmake greater use of
                       air conditioning. According to NERC, electrical peak demand is projected
                       to grow at an annual rate of 2 percent over the 1989-98 forecast period,
                       increasing from 622,000 MW to 623,000 MW. However, NERC pointed out
                       that, becausemany factors can influence electricity use and peak
                       demand, the actual peak demand could vary from that projected..
                       According to NERC, there is an 80-percent probability that the peak 1998
                       summer demand would fall within 666,000 MW and 673,000 MW.

                       ’ 1989 Reliability Assessment: The Future of Bulk Electric System Reliability in North America 1989-
                       998  (Sept. 1989) and 1989 Electric Supply and Demand for 1989-1998 (Oct. 1989).
                       ‘Peak demand is the highest electrical requirement experienced by a power system in a year.
                       “Projections of peak demand and generating capacity are both subject to forecasting error. As a
                       result, computations which rely on them are also subject to forecasting error. Based on NERC projec-
                       tions, the most likely outcome is a shortfall of the reported amount. However, because of the forecsst-
                       ing error, it is possible that the actual shortfall will be greater or smaller, or no shortfall will occur at
                       4We did not review the NERC statistical analysis or the baseline projections in detail. NERC aggre-
                       gates the projections supplied by utility load forecasters from its member councils. Using a statistical
                       analysis technique, NERC calculates the bandwidths that establish an 8Opercent confidence interval
                       around the baseline projections. This confidence interval represents a range in which the actual peak
                       demand is expected to fall with an &JO-percentprobability. That is, NERC believes that there is a lo-
                       percent chance that peak electricity demand will exceed the top of the bandwidth, and a lo-percent
                       chance that peak demand will be below the bottom of the bandwidth. However, because the growth
                       in demand for electricity is heavily influenced by the growth in the gross national product, we did
                       compare NERC’s gross national product base line forecast of 2.6 percent annual growth to that of the
                       Wharton Econometric Forecasting Associates and found it to be generally consistent.

                       Page 10                                   GAO/RCED-SO-161       Civilian   Reactor   Development   Program
Appendix I
ProJected   U.S. Energy Needa lB8@-BB

generators7are expected to provide about 18,100 MW, or about 26 per-
cent, of this new generating capacity. The planned additions during the
assessmentperiod are shown in figure I.1 by fuel source.NERC estimates
that of the total planned new capacity, approximately 16 percent of the
power will be from nuclear power plants currently under construction.

The retirement of old generating units will offset the new capacity addi-
tions, reducing the total new capacity by about 6,540 MW. According to
DOE data, plants to be retired will range in age from 40 to 46 years.
According to NERC, the net gain in generating capacity over the 1989-98
time period will thus be about 64,860 MW. However, 63 percent of the
total megawatt additions are not yet under construction and someof the
planned capacity probably will not be completed on schedule.

7NERC defines nonutility generators as facilities for generating electricity that are not owned exclu-
sively by an electric utility but which operate connected to an electric utility system.

Page 12                                 GAO/RCED-@B-Ml       Civilian   Reactor   Development   Program
                                                                                                                      , ”

                      ProJected   U.S. Energy Needs 1088-98

                      utility’s request is called load management.For example, a large indus-
                      trial user, such as a chemical company, may enter into a contractual
                      agreement that allows the utility to turn off a portion of its electrical
                      power during peak demand periods. Usually, large industrial users have
                      the capability to reschedule certain work, for example, from normal
                      daylight hours to nighttime hours for this purpose. In its 1989-98projec-
                      tions, NERC indicates that about 2.8 percent of the U.S. summer peak
                      demand, or approximately 17,400 MW, will be under utility-controlled
                      managementor interruptible by the customer at the utilities’ request by
                      1998 as compared to 2.2 percent in 1989. Currently, load management
                      ranges from 0.9 percent to 3.2 percent of peak demand in the NERC
                      regions, and this range is expected to increaseto 1.1 percent to 6.3 per-
                      cent of projected peak demands by 1998.

                      Many factors can affect the availability of electricity generation, Not all
Projected Shortages   installed capacity is available at any given time due to full or partial
                      forced outages,”deratings,gand downtime neededfor maintenance
                      requirements. Therefore, in making its projections, NERC reduced the
                      planned capacity resourcesto reflect the unavailability of certain elec-
                      trical generation equipment during peak demand periods. NERC refers to
                      this reduction as the “projected available resources.” Given the fore-
                      casted peak demand (minus savings from load managementand demand
                      management) and the projected available resources,figure 1.2 shows
                      that NERC’S data indicate that a capacity shortfall of approximately 2000
                      MW could occur in the United States by 1998. According to NERC, the pos-
                      sible loss of existing capacity, as a result of legislative changessuch as
                      amendmentsto the Clean Air Act’” (42 U.S.C.7401, et seq.) and delays
                      in completing construction of new generating capacity, could causethis
                      shortfall to occur by 1996.

                      sA forced outage occurs when a problem causes equipment to be taken out of service.
                      sDerating occurs when a unit’s power is decreased because of modifications, such as the installation
                      of environmental machinery on an older unit or changes in a fuel source, that may be necessary for
                      economic reasons.

                      ‘“New legislation could require reductions in the emissions from fossil-fueled electric power plants.
                      The additional costs of installing emission control equipment may not be economical for the utilities,
                      resulting in earlier than anticipated equipment retirements.

                      Page 14                                 GAO/BCED-SW-151      Civilian   Reactor   Development    Program
Appendix    I
Projected   U.S. Energy Needs 1989-98

Transmission reliability to deliver emergencyassistanceis another con-
cern wherein there could be significant shortfalls in planned capacity if
peak demand continues to grow faster than projected. If this occurs,
large amounts of additional capacity resourceswould be required in a
short time period.
Mid-America Interconnected Network: Generating capacity may be less
than required for adequate reliability in the mid to late 1990s.Addi-
tional load managementor short-lead time capacity will be neededto
ensure reliability. Another reliability concern in this region is the
unknown effects that acid rain regulatory actions related to pollution
control may have on future generating capability.
Northeast Power Coordinating Council: In the New York subregion, Long
Island may experience shortfalls if required capacity resource additions
do not materialize and capacity under construction and planned energy
purchases are not available as scheduled.Continued marginal resource
adequacy in the area will result from the closing of the Shoreham
Nuclear Unit (809 MW) until additional generating capacity is added. In
the subregion of New England, generating capacity now under construc-
tion, planned energy purchases,and demand managementprograms
must be available as scheduledto provide for adequate capacity by the
winter of 1993-94.

Southeastern Electric Reliability Council: Maintaining adequate capacity
margins in the latter portion of the assessmentperiod, particularly in
Virginia, Florida, and the Carolinas, will depend on projected resources
materializing as planned and continued high availability of existing gen-
erators. However, capacity may be less than required if conservation
and direct control load managementprograms decreaseand transmis-
sion systems are unable to supply the contracted power transfers.

Page 16                                 GAO/RCED-90-151   Civilian   Reactor   Development   Program
Appendix II

Status of Civilian ReactorDevelopmentand
Utility and Nuclear Industry Comments

                         The Department of Energy (DOE) is supporting the development of sev-
                         eral reactor technologiesto ensure that nuclear power remains a viable
                         energy supply option. In fiscal year (FY) 1990, DOE’S Civilian Reactor
                         Development Program received an appropriation of $263 million to
                         develop these technologies.To meet the nation’s 6- to lo-year electricity
                         needs,DOE, in partnership with the nuclear industry, is developing
                         improved water-cooled reactor designs.DOE expects to obtain design
                         approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission(NRC) for a large-size
                         light-water reactor (LWR) in 1991. In I996 DOE expects design approval
                         of two mid-size LWRS, which incorporate passive safety features, such as
                         natural coolant circulation and increased use of gravity for coolant sup-
                         plies, and modular designs.’ In addition to water-cooled reactors, DOE is
                         also supporting the development of advanced reactors that have the
                         potential to incorporate a greater degreeof passive safety than water-
                         cooled reactors. DOE’s advanced reactor program is centered on develop-
                         ing modular high-temperature gas-cooledand liquid-metal-cooled reactor
                         designs.According to DOE, neither the modular high-temperature gas-
                         cooled reactor (MHTGR) nor the liquid-metal reactor (LMR) will be in oper-
                         ation until the next century.
                         Utility company and nuclear industry executives that we interviewed
                         generally support DOE’S approach in developing advanced nuclear reac-
                         tor designs.However, someof these utility companiesdo not plan to
                         purchase nuclear reactors to meet their electricity needsat least until
                         after 2000 becauseof the high costs of constructing nuclear reactors and
                         public opposition to nuclear power. According to these officials, light-
                         water reactors will remain the leading candidate of choice until the
                         advanced technologies have been successfully demonstrated.

                         In the 1960s and early 19709,nuclear power promised to be a safe, eco-
DOE’s Civilian Reactor   nomical energy source. However, since then, safety concernsand soaring
Development Program      costs have clouded its future. As a result, the viability of nuclear power
                         as an energy supply option is being increasingly questioned. To ensure
                         that nuclear power remains a viable option, DOE, under its Civilian Reac-
                         tor Development Program, is supporting industry-led efforts to develop

                         ‘Modular designs use factory-built, factory-inspected construction modules. These modules are then
                         shipped to the site and joined together.

                         Page 17                                GAO/RCED-90-161     CMlian   Reactor   Development   Program
                                            Appendix II
                                            Status of Clvlllan      Beactor Development   and
                                            Utility   and Nuclear     Industry Commenta

                                            light-water reactors and advanced reactors that are safe, environmen-
                                            tally acceptable,and cost-effective.2’
                                            The Civilian Reactor Development Program, under DOE’S Nuclear Energy
                                            Office, supports the development of improved light-water reactors to
                                            meet near-term energy needsand advanced reactor designswhich will
                                            not be commercially available until after 2000. The light-water reactor
                                            program is part of a nationally coordinated effort to improve the techni-
                                            cal, licensing, and institutional requirements to construct and operate
                                            water-cooled reactors. DOE’S advanced reactor program supports the
                                            development of alternative designsthat have the potential for break-
                                            throughs in economics,safety, licensability, and waste management
                                            options. The primary emphasis of this program is to support continued
                                            work on LMRS and MHTGRS.

Historical Funding of                       Actual Civilian Reactor Development Program expenditures declined 74
Civilian Reactor                            percent, from $978 million in fiscal year 1980 to $263 million in fiscal
                                            year 1990. In constant 1989 dollars, as shown in table 11.1,the decline
Development Program                         over this period was almost 84 percent. DOE has requested $219 million
                                            for the program in its FY 1991 budget request.

Table 11.1:DOE Expenditure8 in Civlllan Reactor Development Program
Millions of 1989 constant dollars
                                                                                  Fiscal year
Program area                        1980     1981          1982         1983.    1984     1985        1988      1987           1988     1989      1990
High-Temperature Gas Reactor          65        55           46            44       36           37     34           22         24        20        22
LiahbWater Reactor                    42        55           66            49       65           60     54           37         33        27        23
Liquid-Metal Reactor                 592       512          512           466      366          137    110           60         59        54        35
Facilities                           411       308          296           204      188          166    148          138        137       140       163
Clinch River Breeder Reactor         276       257          241           280      101           20      0            0          0         0         3
Liaht-Water-Cooled Breeder            91        83           68            56       42           29     21           15          0         9          0
&al                                 1,477   1,270         1,229         1,099      798          450    367          273        253       250       243
                                            Source: DOE data adjusted into constant dollars by GAO.
                                            Note: All numbers do not total due to rounding.

                                            According to a DOE official, the federal role in liquid-metal reactor devel-
                                            opment was restructured in 1986 to focus on resolving key technology

                                            %.w report entitled Electricity Supply: What Can Be Done to Revive the Nuclear Option? (GAO/
                                            RCED-89-67, Mar. 23,lSSQ) contains a more detailed discussion of possible government actions to
                                            revive the nuclear option.

                                            Page 18                                  GAO/RCED-90-151     Civilinu    Reactor    Development    Program
                             Appendix II
                             Statw of CWlian Reactor Development     and
                             Utility end Nuclear Industry Comments

                             issuesand uncertainties in order to enlist private sector involvement.
                             Appendix IV contains a chronology of the major shifts and decisionsin
                             the Civilian Reactor Development Program since 1980.

Status of Civilian Reactor   DOE’S Civilian Reactor Development Program currently focuseson devel-
Development Program          oping designsfor water-cooled, high-temperature gas-cooled,and liquid-
                             metal-cooled reactors. Under the advanced LWR program, contractors
                             working with DOE are currently developing LWRSthat will incorporate
                             passive safety features and modular designs.A DOE official said that
                             these LWRSmay becomeavailable for construction in the mid 1990s.
                             DOE'S advanced reactor program is centered on developing the MHTGR
                             and LMR. (Seeapp. V for descriptions of the LWR, LMR, and MHTGR.) These
                             advanced reactors have the potential to provide additional degreesof
                             safety. DOE officials do not expect these reactors to be operational until
                             shortly after 2000. The following sections discussthe technologies and
                             their current status of development.

Light-Water Reactor          Currently, nearly all of the nuclear power in the United States is gener-
                             ated from LWRS. Building on the vast experience gained from these
                             existing LWRS, DOE and the utility industry are jointly sponsoring the
                             development of advanced LWRS. The objectives of DOE'S advanced LWR
                             program are to

                             support the Electric Power ResearchInstitute (EPRI) and industry efforts
                             to define the characteristics and performance parameters new plants
                             will have to meet;
                             demonstrate the improved standard plant-licensing processneededfor
                             all advanced reactors by certification of one or more large, evolutionary
                             LWR standard plant designs;and
                             support industry in developing and certifying greatly simplified mid-size
                             (about 600 MW) LWRSthat employ predominantly passive safety features
                             and modular construction.

                             EPRI, under the direction of a utility steering committee, and with the
                             support and direction of DOE, is preparing the requirements pertaining to
                             the performance and design of future advanced light-water reactor
                             designs.Drawing upon the experience gained from design features
                             found in over 100 operating nuclear plants in the United States, specific
                             regulatory guidelines, plant operator training methods, and specific
                             hardware designshave evolved. The principles established by EPRI to
                             govern the development of new designsare (1) a primary design empha-
                             sis placed on lowering the risk associatedwith a core-damagingincident;

                             Page 19                            GAO/RCED-O-161   Civilian   Reactor   Development   Program
Appendix II
Statue of CMlia.n Reactor Development   and
Utility and Nuclear Industry Commenta

(2) less dependenceon electrical systems and mechanical componentsto
achieve safety, relying instead on improved plant designsand passive
safety systems;(3) greater design margins to allow more time to assess
and deal with unusual conditions without jeopardizing or causing major
damageto the plant; and (4) the advantage of having recent advancesin
human factors engineering in plant designs,According to an EPRI official,
most volumes of the requirements document pertaining to large, evolu-
tionary light-water reactor designshave been submitted to NRC for
approval. EPRI plans to complete the remaining volumes of the document
covering advancedmid-size light-water reactor designsand plans to sub-
mit them to NRC in 1990.
To demonstrate the viability of the nuclear plant standardization and
licensing process,DOE is supporting, through a contractual cost-sharing
arrangement, the efforts of General Electric and Combustion Engineer-
ing to obtain Nuclear Regulatory Commission(NRC) design certification
of two large (1,260 MW and 1,360 MW) evolutionary LWRS. Evolutionary
reactors, according to DOE, are reactors that incorporate simplified
designs and state-of-the-art proven equipment. General Electric has sub-
mitted required safety analysis information for its reactor to NRC for
review. In fiscal year 1990, required risk assessmentsand safety evalua-
tions will be prepared, and revisions to the safety analysis and evalua-
tions as neededto resolve NRC'S comments will be submitted. According
to DOE officials, final NRC design approval, which will initiate public
hearings, is expected in about December1990 and NRC design certifica-
tion in September 1991.
As of February 1990 the status of Combustion Engineering’s efforts to
certify its evolutionary reactor design is unclear. Under its 1987 con-
tract with DOE, Combustion Engineering was required to design only the
nuclear island for NRC certification. IIowever, in April 1989 NRC imposed
new requirements that require the designsto encompassthe entire
plant, not just the nuclear island. Although Combustion Engineering has
submitted the majority of its safety analysis information to NRC, DOE has
been unable to provide additional funding to complete the certification
process.According to a DOE official, during March 1990 DOE and Combus-
tion Engineering are expected to meet to resolve this issue.
In addition to large-sizeevolutionary plants, DOE is also supporting the
design, development, and certification of two mid-size (600 MW) light-
water passive plant designs.These designsincorporate natural cooling
mechanismslike gravity and natural convection rather than electric-
powered core cooling equipment, resulting in greater simplification. It is

Page 20                             GAO/RCED-90-161   Civilian   Reactor   Development   Program
                                Appendix II
                                St&w of Civilian Reactor Development   and
                                Utility and Nuclear Indwtry Comments

                                expected that no operator action would be neededto keep the plant safe
                                to the public for 3 days after a major loss-of-coolant accident, if it were
                                to occur. On September 6,1989, DOE selectedGeneral Electric and West-
                                inghouse to complete designsof mid-size light-water reactors. On Febru-
                                ary 28, 1990, DOE and Westinghousesigned a contract for the
                                development of an advancedpressurized-water reactor. DOE signed a
                                contract with General Electric on April 2,1990, for the development of a
                                simplified boiling-water reactor. Under these contracts, DOE will match
                                General Electric and Westinghouseon a 50/50 cost-sharebasis up to $50
                                million. These advanced mid-size light-water reactor designs are
                                expected to receive NRC'S design certification in 1995.
Modular High-Temperature Gas-   Modular high-temperature gas-cooledreactors have the potential to
CooledReactor                   incorporate a greater degreeof passive safety than water-cooled reac-
                                tors. The safety characteristics of these reactors result from using
                                helium, an inert gas, as the reactor coolant; coated fuel particles that are
                                capable of retaining fission products under even severeconditions; and
                                graphite core and support structures that have a high heat capacity and
                                maintain their strength to temperatures beyond 5,000 degreesFahren-
                                heit. Further, passive cooling of the core can be achieved by conduction,
                                radiation, and natural convection without the fuel reaching a tempera-
                                ture at which the coating would fail during an accident. According to a
                                DOE official, the adoption of these design features offers the potential for
                                enhancing safety margins, reducing the plant’s reliance on electric-pow-
                                ered safeguard systems or operator actions.

                                Currently, MHTGR preliminary design work is being done under DOE con-
                                tracts with General Atomics, Bechtel, Combustion Engineering, and
                                Stone and Webster. In addition, materials, fuels, and fission product
                                experimental programs that support the MHTGR are being conducted at
                                DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennesseeand at General Atom-
                                its. DOE is also assessingthe MHTGR as one technology that could be used
                                for a new reactor it plans to build for the production of tritium, which is
                                used in nuclear weapons. A plan to coordinate and integrate this defense
                                research and development program with the civilian reactor program
                                has been developed, according to DOE. About $29 million of the funds
                                DOE has requested for the New Production Reactor for FY 1991 has been
                                earmarked for activities that are also in need of development under the
                                civilian program, These areas of commonality include the validation of
                                fuel performance and fission product behavior models and codes,mater-
                                ials development, and validation of the reliability of key components
                                and system performance.

                                Page 21                           GAO/RCRD-WlBl   Civilian   Reactor   Development   Program
                       Appendix II
                       Statue of CivIlian Reactor Development   and
                       Utility and Nuclear Industry Comments

                       According to DOE, in September 1986 General Atomics prepared and sub-
                       mitted a Preliminary Safety Information Document to NRC. The objective
                       of this effort was to obtain a Safety Evaluation Report from NRC that
                       addressesthe licensability of the MHTGR, the acceptanceof the unique
                       safety criteria, and agreement and concurrencewith the overall safety
                       assessment.NRC issued a draft Safety Evaluation Report in March 1989.
                       Resolution of the issuesidentified by NRC will be completed in FY 1991.
                       Completion of the civilian MHTGR preliminary design and submission of a
                       Preliminary Standard Safety Analysis Report to NRC are expected to
                       occur in FYs 1992 and 1993, respectively. Final design is scheduledto be
                       completed in FY 1996 with a Final Standard Safety Analysis Report sub-
                       mitted in FY 1996. Final NRC design approval is expected in FY 1997.

Liquid-Metal Reactor   Like the high-temperature gas-cooledreactor, the passive safety charac-
                       teristics of a liquid-metal reactor have the potential for reducing the
                       plant’s reliance on engineeredsafeguards equipment or immediate oper-
                       ator responseshould an accident occur. DOE initially consideredthe LMR'S
                       capability to breed more nuclear material than it consumesas its most
                       important feature. However, the emphasis is now being placed on the
                       LMR'S capability to recycle spent fuel and convert long-lived actinide ele-
                       ments (plutonium and neptunium, and other radioactive elements) pre-
                       sent in spent LWR, LMR, and MHTGR fuel. According to DOE, this would
                       reduce not only the amount of nuclear waste requiring disposal but also
                       the hazard of high-level waste destined for repository from hundreds of
                       thousands of years to hundreds of years. DOE planned to design and con-
                       struct a safety demonstration module becausesuch a demonstration pro-
                       ject should be completed before NRC can certify the design. However,
                       becauseof funding constraints, DOE is not certain when a demonstration
                       project, if any, will be constructed. According to one DOE official, the
                       earliest date such a demonstration project could be built is 2005.

                       In January 1989 DOE awarded General Electric a 3-year contract for an
                       advanced LhIR conceptual design with an optional 2-year preliminary
                       design phase. The engineering development work is on a 465 megawatts
                       of electricity modular reactor.
                       According to DOE, the conceptual design of the LMR was completed in
                       1985, and a Preliminary Safety Information Document was submitted to
                       NRC in September 1986. In October 1989 NRC staff issued a draft Safety
                       Evaluation Report and licensing letter defining the outstanding safety
                       issues.DOE expects to continue to update the LMR design features and to

                       Page 22                              GAO/RCED-O-151   Civilian   Reactor   Development   Program
                       Appendix II
                       St&w of Chilian Reactor Development     and
                       Utility and Nuclear Industry Commenta

                       resolve key issuesidentified by NRCat least through FY 1991. DOE-sup
                       ported research at its Argonne National Laboratory will continue to con-
                       firm the passive safety and improved economicpotential of the LMR.
                       According to DOE,current and anticipated funding constraints may limit
                       its efforts to evaluate the capability of the reactor to recycle fuel and
                       destroy long-lived actinide elements.

                       Executives representing five utility companiesfrom the Southeast and
Nuclear Industry and   officials from the nuclear industry generally support DOE’S efforts to
Utility Company        develop advanced nuclear reactors. Most of the utility company execu-
Comments               tives that we interviewed supported DOE’S“two track approach” of
                       funding the development of both the evolutionary, large LWRstandard
                       plant designs and the advanced mid-size LWRdesigns.One utility execu-
                       tive who was particularly impressed with the mid-size reactor concept
                       said that mid-size reactors offer numerous advantagesover evolution-
                       ary reactors. First, the smaller reactors will be less expensive and there-
                       fore utilities will have less difficulty in acquiring sufficient capital.
                       Second,the mid-size reactors will be “different enough” from the older,
                       larger reactors in service in the United States that the public will more
                       readily accept the new reactors. Finally, if utilities purchase the smaller
                       reactors, they will be in a better position to adapt to changesin growth
                       patterns becausethe smaller reactors can be added incrementally to bet-
                       ter respond to the public’s demands for electricity.
                       Although the five utility industry officials we contacted supported DOE’S
                       development of light-water reactors, they said that they would not
                       purchase advanced nuclear reactors during the next 10 years even
                       though additional electrical generating capacity may be needed.Reasons
                       cited by officials for their positions were the high costs of constructing
                       nuclear reactors and public opposition to nuclear power. One official
                       said that although there may not be a market for these advanced light-
                       water reactors until after 2000, the designsshould be made available as
                       soon as possible in the event circumstanceschange and make nuclear
                       power a viable near-term option. According to the Advanced Reactor
                       It is the present judgment of the majority in the nuclear power industry that the
                       LWRwill remain the dominant nuclear power technology for the next several

                       “Advanced Reactor Corporation, Report of the ARC Ad Hoc Committee on U.S. Department of Energy
                       Advanced Reactor Development Ikn, January 10,199O. This ad hoc committee was made up of offi-
                       cials from utility companies and the nuclear industry.

                       Page 23                             GAO/RCED-90-161    Civilian   Reactor   Development   Program
Apjmdx     II
Statw of Civilian Reactor Development   and
Utility and Nuclear Industry Comments

decades.. . . Thus, an improved version of the LWRis expectedto be the leading
candidate for the next incrementof nuclear capacity ordered in the United States.

Utility industry officials generally concurred with this assessment,cit-
ing the industry’s vast experience with light-water reactors.
With respect to the overall direction of DOE’Slight-water reactor pro-
gram, officials from the nuclear industry who design LWRSand utility
companiessaid that DOEis generally moving in the “right direction” in
its support of the LWRprogram. Utility officials said that they are aware
of DOE’Sinvolvement with EPRIand the utilities in establishing the Utili-
ties Requirements Document. One utility company executive said that he
was impressed that DOEhas listened to the concernsof the individual
utility companiesabout safety and was working with EPRIto incorporate
this information into the requirements document.
Utility officials said that they are not as familiar with MHTGRSand LMRS
as they are with LWRSbecause they have no “hands on” experience with
these reactors. Although they recognizedthat these technologies have
the potential to provide additional passive safety features not available
on LWRSand that the LMRoffers the capability to recycle waste products,
they would be hesitant to select these technologies unless they had first
been demonstrated.

Page 24                             GAO/RCED-90-111   Civilian   ReactorDevelopment
 PW        ’
%;!I American Electric Reliability Council-
U.S. Regions

Flgure 111.1:NERC-U.S. Map

    ECAR       East Central Area Reliability Coordination Agreeme
    ERGOT      Electric Rellablllty Council of Texas
    MAAC       Mid-Atlantic Area Council
    MAIN       Mid-America Interconnected Network
    MAPP       Mld-Continent Area Power Pool
    NPCC       Northeast Power Coordlnatlng C~uncll
    SERC       Southeastern Electric Rellabllty Council
    SPP        Southwest Power Pool
    wssc       Western Systems Coordlnatlng Council

                                                          Source: Prepared by GAO from NEW data.

                                                          Page 25                             GAO/RCED-90-151   Civilian   Reactor   Development   Program
                        Appendix m
                        North American Electric   Reliability
                        conncil-U.S.  Regiona

                        The ECAR  region bulk power membership currently consistsof 27 compa-
East Central Area       nies (18 systems) which serve either all or part of the states of Michi-
Reliability             gan, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania,
Coordination            Maryland, and Tennessee.

                        recur is composedof 26 municipalities, 61 cooperatives, 6 investor-
Electric Reliability    owned utilities, and 2 state agencieswhich serve a total of 11 million
Council of Texas        customers.These systems operate 86 percent of the electric generation
                        in Texas and serve approximately 196,000 square miles, or 73 percent
                        of the area in the state.

Mid-Atlantic Area       M~ACconsists of 11 member systems and 6 associatesserving 20 million
                        people in a 48,700 square mile area. The region includes all of Delaware
Council                 and the District of Columbia; major portions of Pennsylvania, New
                        Jersey, and Maryland; and a small portion of Virginia.

                        MAIN is comprised of 12 regular member systems and 1 associatemem-
Mid-America             ber serving a population of 18 million in a geographic area of 170,000
Interconnected          square miles. The region encompassesIllinois, the eastern third of Mis-
Network                 souri, the eastern two-thirds of Wisconsin, and most of the upper penin-
                        sula of Michigan.

Mid-Continent Area      The MAPP Region covers all portions of Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska,
                        North Dakota, Illinois, Michigan, Montana, South Dakota, Wisconsin,
Power Pool              and the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan.Member-
                        ship includes 43 systems of 27 participants consisting of 11 investor-
                        owned systems, 8 generation and transmission cooperatives, 3 public
                        power districts, 4 municipal systems, and 1 federal agency.Associate
                        participants include 2 Canadian Crown Corporations, 13 municipals, and
                        1 investor-owned system. The total geographic area covers 890,000
                        miles with a population of 16 million.

                        NPCC represents a total of 23 investor-owned and publicly owned utilities
Northeast Power         serving about 44 million people in a 1 million square mile area encom-
Coordinatirig Council   passing 2 areas in the northeastern United States and 3 areas in eastern
                        Canada. In the United States, NPCC membersparticipate in either the

                        Page 26                                 GAO/RCED-!W161   Civilian   Reactor   Development   Program
                        Appendix III
                        North American Electric   Relhblli~
                        CQnncil-U.S.  ReglonB

                        New York Power Pool or the New England Power Pool. In Canada,the
                        Ontario, Hydro, Hydro-Quebec,New Brunswick Power, and Nova Scotia
                        Power systems make up the three Canadian areas of Npcc-Ontario,
                        Quebec,and the Maritimes.

                        SERCmembership includes 29 systems located in    9 southeastern states
Southeastern Electric   that are divided into 4 diverse subregionscovering 346,660 square
Reliability Council     miles. The subregions include the Florida peninsula, the Southern elec-
                        tric system, TennesseeValley Authority area, and the Virginia-Carolina
                        areas; they serve a population of about 26 million.

                        The SPP includes 43 electric power suppliers serving 6.6 million custom-
Southwest Power Pool    ers in the states of Kansas,Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi,
                        Louisiana, Texas, and New Mexico. Its membership is composedof 17
                        investor-owned utilities, 12 municipal systems, 10 generating and trans-
                        mission cooperatives systems, 3 state authorities, and a federal agency.
                        The geographic area served spans 600,000 miles containing a population
                        of 26 million.

                        wsscencompassesa total 1.8 million square miles of territory in 14 west-
Western Systems         ern states, 2 Canadian provinces, and a northern portion of Baja Califor-
Coordinating Council    nia, Mexico. The region is subdivided into four areas: the Northwest
                        Power Pool Area, (including the states of Washington, Oregon,Idaho,
                        Utah, portions of Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, and California and the
                        two Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia); the Rocky
                        Mountain Power Area consisting of Colorado, eastern Wyoming, and a
                        small portion of Nebraska and South Dakota; the Arizona-New Mexico
                        Power Area consisting of most of New Mexico and the western-most
                        part of Texas; and the California-Southern Nevada Power Area encom-
                        passing most of California, southern Nevada, and a northern portion of
                        Baja California, Mexico. The council has 62 member systems and 3

                        Page 27                               GAO/RCED-90-151   Civllhn   Reactor   Development   Program
Appendix IV

Major Shifts and Decisionsin DOE’s Civilian

                       The following summarizes the major program shifts and decisionsthat
                       have shaped DOE’s Civilian Reactor Development Program since 1980.

Program Shift or

1980                   Congresspassedthe Nuclear Safety Research,Development, and Dem-
                       onstration Act, resulting in the initiation of the Light Water Reactor
                       Safety Researchand Development Program.

1981                   DOE completed the conceptual design study for a developmental liquid-
                       metal fast breeder reactor.
                       President Reaganannouncednuclear energy policies for:

                   l Establishing a high-level radioactive waste storage facility.
                   9 Licensing and regulatory reform.
                   . Renewing breeder development program, including completion of the
                     Clinch River Breeder Reactor project.

1982                   DOE and the Electric Power ResearchInstitute signed an agreementto
                       cooperate on a large-scaleprototype breeder.

1983                   The U.S. Senatediscontinued funding the Clinch River Breeder Reactor,
                       thereby effectively terminating it.
                       The government’s lead role shifted from developing a liquid-metal fast
                       breeder reactor to a role of supporting and encouraging private sector
                       initiatives and cooperating with foreign nations in research and
                       DOE reduced and consolidated the liquid-metal fast breeder reactor base
                       program. DOE increased activities on licensing and regulatory reform.

1985                   DOE continued the restructuring of breeder development to focus on
                       resolving key technology issuesand uncertainties prerequisite to private

                       Page 28                     GAO/RCED-90-151   Civilian   Reactor   Development   Program
    Appendix IV
    MaJor Shifta and Decisiona in DOE’s ChiUan
    Reactor Development    Program

    sector demonstration and development with no new federally funded
    energy system demonstration project. This restructuring placed major
    emphasis on:
l Technology necessaryfor a breeder system (including power plant and
  supporting fuel cycle) that is inherently safe, competitive with nuclear
  and nonnuclear alternatives, has predictable performance, and meets
  market needsof utilities.
. Development of advancedplant conceptscompetitive with alternative
  energy sources.
. Increased reliance on international cooperation.
    DOE supported development of standardized requirements for advanced
    light-water reactors (LWR), i.e., the Electric Power ResearchInstitute
    Utilities Requirements Document.

    DOE shifted  efforts from a steam cycle/cogeneration high-temperature
    reactor to an innovative modular high- temperature gas-cooledreactor
    (MHTGR) utilizing a prismatic fuel design with coated fuel particles; and
    integrated the program with efforts to encouragedevelopment of next-
    generation, innovative conceptsfor nuclear power.

    Liquid-metal reactor (LMR) activities focused on developing an advanced
    liquid-metal converter reactor incorporating major technology advances
    to improve competitive position.

    DOE focused Advanced Converter Reactor technology (including LWR,
    MHTGR, and LMR activities) on developing advanced,high technology con-
    verter reactors capable of competing in the 19952020 timeframe;
    through innovative use of technology these reactors would be simpler,
    less expensive, safe, and secure.
    DOE placed emphasis on small, modularized plant                   designsand greater use
    of passive safety features.
    DOE initiated the development of reference high- temperature gas-cooled
    reactor design concept detail neededto support assessmentsof plant
    safety, operability, reliability, maintainability, constructability, licen-
    sability, and economicsfor processheat and defense applications.

    DOE reshaped breeder technology development program to                          reflect com-
    mercial introduction sometime after 2000 emphasizing:

    Page 29                             GAO/RCED-BO-lf51   Civilian   Reactor   Development   Program
           Major Shifta and Decisions in DOE’s CiW
           Reactor Development    Program

       l   Continued long-range technology and related fuel cycle development.
       l   Increased international collaboration and maintaining U.S. presencein
           discussionsconcerning nonproliferation and safeguards controls.
       l   Developing an advancedLMR breeder design capable of competing
           domestically and in the international market.

1987       DOE emphasizedcivilian reactor technology efforts to support industry/
           government program on development of advanced light-water reactors
           with the objective to gain Nuclear Regulatory Commissionfinal design
           approval and certification of at least two advanced LWR systems in 6
           DOE shiftedemphasis from primarily satisfying civilian needsfor
           advanced reactors to spaceand terrestrial national security needswhile
           maintaining technical, testing, analytical, and design infrastructure to
           ensure capability to respond to civilian needs.

1988       DOE selectedGeneral Electric’s PRISM concept as the basis for further
           development of a national advanced liquid-metal reactor design program
           to begin in 1989.

           DOE shifted emphasis from an oxide fuel cycle to a metal fuel cycle in the
           liquid-metal reactor.
           DOE focused on passive safety and improved economicpotential of a
           metal-fueled, modular liquid-metal reactor emphasizing the metal fuel/
           Integral Fast Reactor concept at Argonne National Laboratory.

1989       DOE limited the scopeof its work on liquid-metal reactor technology
           development in advanced instrumentation and controls, concept verifi-
           cation testing, and robotics becauseof reduced funding from the
           DOE increased its emphasis on the actinide recycle capability of LMRS and
           the potential to impact waste managementsolutions.

           Page 30                            GAO/RCED-!I@-151   CMlian   Reactor   Development   Program
&pehdix V

Ikscriptions of Civilim Nuclem Reactors

Light-Water Reactors      As the world’s most dominant nuclear technology, light-water reactors
                          use uranium as their fuel and ordinary water for cooling. In all reactors
                          used for electricity generation, the final stage in the processis turning
                        1 water into steam to turn the huge turbines that actually spin the genera-
                          tors. In designsknown as boiling-water reactors, the steam is generated
                          inside the reactor itself. In the pressurized-water reactors, hot water
                          from the reactor is transferred to external steam generators where
                          water is boiled to make the steam that drives the turbines.

Modular High-            The modular high-temperature gas-cooledreactor is a second-generation
                         power system. Basedon technology developed and demonstrated in the
Temperature Gas-         United States and the Federal Republic of Germany, the system makes
Cooled Reactors          use of refractory-coated nuclear fuel, helium gas as an inert coolant, and
                         graphite as a stable core structural material. The MHTGR'S fuel is made
                         by forming uranium into billions of tiny grains and covering each of
                         these with a tough ceramic shell that can withstand unusually high tem-
                         peratures. This ensuresthat the fuel and its radioactive by-products are
                         tightly sealed from the environment. Consequently, the safety and pro-
                         tection of the MHTGR is provided by inherent and passive features and
                         does not depend on immediate operator actions or the activation of engi-
                         neered systems in the event of an abnormal event.

Liquid-Metal Reactors    The liquid-metal reactor is a next-generation, sodium-cooled,modular
                         nuclear power reactor. The concept of the LMR utilizes liquid-metal as a
                         coolant and metallic fuel. The most significant property of liquid-metal
                         cooling is that the LMR can operate near atmospheric pressureswithout
                         requiring thick pressure vesselsto contain the cooling system. Metallic
                         fuel provides the critically important property of high thermal conduc-
                         tivity, which gives a high degreeof inherent safety to the LMR.

                         Page 31                     GAO/RCED-90-151   CivIlian   Reactor   Jhvelopment   Program
Appendix VI

Major Contributors to This Report

                        Judy A. England-Joseph,Associate Director
Resources,              Robert E. Allen, Jr., Assistant Director
Community, and          Duane Fitzgerald, Assistant Director/Nuclear Engineer
Economic                Edward E. Young, Jr., Assignment Manager
                        William P. Leavens,Evaluator-in-Charge
Development Division,   J acqueline Bell, Staff Evaluator

Washington, D.C.

(3Olfw)                 Page 32                    GAO/RCED-90-151   Civilian   Reactor   Development   Program

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