Opinion

U.S. Nuclear Plant Outages Increased in September After Remaining Low During Summer


daily U.S. nuclear capacity outages

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission data

Electric generation capacity losses as a result of U.S. nuclear plant outages were relatively low during much of the 2018 summer, averaging 2.8 gigawatts (GW) from June through August. This year's seasonal maintenance and refueling cycle began earlier than in recent years, and total nuclear outages averaged 14.5 GW in the last week of September. The earlier-than-expected retirement of the Oyster Creek Generating Station and a temporary plant shutdown related to Hurricane Florence also increased outages in September.

Nuclear capacity outages are typically lowest during the summer and winter months when electricity consumption is high to meet increased cooling and heating demand. Nuclear power plant outages can be either scheduled or unscheduled, and they can range from a partial outage, where only some of a plant's capacity is offline, to a full outage, where the entire plant is shut down.

A scheduled shutdown of a nuclear power plant is generally timed to coincide with the plant's refueling cycle. Nuclear power plants typically refuel every 18 to 24 months, often during the fall and spring when electricity demand is lower. During a refueling outage, plants typically optimize downtime by scheduling facility upgrades, repairs, and other maintenance work to be completed while the reactor is offline.

During the past six years, average refueling outages have become shorter, decreasing from an average of 46 days in 2012 to 34 days in 2018. The decrease in refueling outage times is a result of greater operator experience in regulated markets and competition from other generators in unregulated or wholesale electricity markets.

During a refueling outage, the reactor is entirely shut down and produces no electricity and, therefore, no revenue. Plant operators try to minimize lost revenues and non-operating costs by bringing reactors back online as quickly as possible. In 2017, six U.S. reactors had refueling outage times of less than 20 days: Peach Bottom Unit-3 (15 days), Vogtle Unit-1 (16 days), Nine Mile Point (17 days), Quad Cities (18 days), Dresden (18 days), and Three Mile Island Unit-1 (19 days).

average length of U.S. nuclear refueling outages
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission data

An unscheduled, or forced, shut down of a nuclear power reactor can result from equipment failure, operational error, or environmental conditions. Most unplanned outages occur because of non-reactor core issues—including external plant conditions, such as severe weather, or non-nuclear internal plant conditions, such as those involving steam turbine and electricity generation sub-systems.

Three unscheduled outages in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Arizona affected the available summer capacity in 2018. Tennessee's Watts Bar Unit-2, the newest U.S. nuclear power plant, automatically shut down for six days after a main turbine and generator tripped on June 22. Arkansas Nuclear One Unit-1 shut down from June 23–26 to repair a leakage in the reactor coolant system. The Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station Unit-3, located 45 miles west of Phoenix, Arizona, automatically shut down for three days beginning June 27 because of low steam generator water levels.

Hurricane Florence caused a nine-day unscheduled outage at the Brunswick Nuclear Plant near Wilmington, North Carolina, in mid-September. The 1,870 megawatt (MW) facility is located about four miles from the Atlantic coast and was safely shut down by plant operators before hurricane force winds and flood waters reached the site.

Also in mid-September, the 625 MW Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Plant in Forked River, New Jersey, permanently shut down. The plant was previously expected to retire on December 31, 2019, but the timeline was accelerated by more than a year to coincide with the end of the plant's final fuel and maintenance cycle. The retirement of the plant is considered an unscheduled shutdown in EIA data until the Nuclear Regulatory Commission amends its outage data to reflect the closure.

Total unscheduled outages as a result of these plant shutdowns decreased from 85 in 2015, to 78 in 2016 to 55 in 2017, and to 37 so far in 2018. These outages can fluctuate year to year based on plant technical issues and external circumstances.

total unscheduled outages
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission data

Outages are expected to continue increasing this year as nuclear plants enter the fall refueling and maintenance season. More information on the daily operation of U.S. nuclear power plants is available on EIA's Status of Nuclear Outages webpage, which is based on data collected by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Principal contributor: Slade Johnson


Visit source site

https://eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=37252&...

United StatesUSANuclearNuclear PlantElectricityEIAEnergy Information Administration EIA

More items from oilvoice


Premier Oil Trading and Operations Update

Premier has provided a Trading and Operations Update for the period to 15 November 2018. Highlights ·     Year-to-date production of 78.4 kboepd, up from 76.2 kboepd in the first half; forecast full-year production at around 80 kboepd ·    Record Catcher Area production rates of over 70 kbo ...

OilVoice Press - OilVoice


Posted 22 hours agoPress > Premier OilTrading UpdateOperations Update +1

Cairn Energy PLC - North Sea Operational Update

UK Norway Update - discovery and farm out Cairn announces the following; An oil discovery on the 9/14a-17B well and associated side-track on the Agar-Plantain Prospect in the UK North Sea Farm out agreement for a 40% non-operated interest of the Chimera prospect in the UK North Sea Commitmen ...

OilVoice Press - OilVoice


Posted 22 hours agoPress > Cairn EnergyNorwayUnited Kingdom +7

Suncor Energy Declares Dividend and Amends Normal Course Issuer Bid

Suncor Energy's Board of Directors has approved a quarterly dividend of $0.36 per share on its common shares, payable December 24, 2018 to shareholders of record at the close of business on December 3, 2018. Suncor also announced today that the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) accepted a notice filed ...

OilVoice Press - OilVoice


Posted 1 day agoPress > DividendSuncor Energy

Tullow Oil plc November Trading Update

Tullow Oil plc (Tullow) issues the following Trading Update for the period 26 July to 15 November 2018. Tullow will be hosting a Capital Markets Day on 29 November 2018. Please see full details below. The Group will also publish a Trading Statement and Operational Update on 16 January 2019 and Ful ...

OilVoice Press - OilVoice


Posted 1 day agoPress > Tullow OilTrading UpdateTullow +2

The Wolfcamp Play Has Been Key to Permian Basin Oil and Natural Gas Production Growth

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on DrillingInfo Increased oil and natural gas development in the Wolfcamp play has helped drive overall crude oil and natural gas production growth in the Permian Basin during the past decade. Drilling and completion operations within the ...

OilVoice Press - OilVoice


Posted 1 day agoOpinion > EIAEnergy Information Administration EIAUnited States +9
All posts from oilvoice