by Tina Olivero

    Global Demand for New Nuclear Reactors Will Require $1 Trillion Investment

    Increased energy demand in the US will require the construction of new, smaller, cleaner, and more efficient nuclear reactors to exceed the current 20% contribution to the grid.

    According to the World Nuclear Association, the nuclear energy sector requires a $7,5 billion investment in refurbishment and maintenance of currently operating nuclear power plants to keep its energy production stable in order to meet the country’s growing demand.

    The Watts Bar plant in Spring City (Tennessee) has recently undergone a major refurbishment to optimize power production for more than 900,000 homes. Sarens, world leader in heavy lifting, engineered transport, and crane rental, has worked on the replacement of four steam generators.

    According to data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), the 1% annual increase in US energy demand until 2050 will force a boost in the generation of electricity from clean sources to the detriment of those that produce greenhouse gases (mainly by burning coal and gas), and the renovation and maintenance of the facilities in which this energy is generated. In fact, the demand for new, optimized nuclear reactors will require more than $1 trillion in global investment.

    Currently, 20% of all energy consumed in the USA comes from the 93 nuclear power plants distributed throughout the country, which represents 55% of all greenhouse gas emission-free energy in the country and 30% of the total produced worldwide. This requirement leads nuclear power operators – 30 companies, spread across 30 different states – to invest approximately $7.5  bn in maintenance and upgrades at plants built mostly between 1967 and 1990 to keep their production stable and to avoid downtimes caused by technical failures.

    One of the plants that have recently undergone major renovation work is Watts Bar in Spring City (Tennessee), one of the most modern plants in the USA. As part of its maintenance and refueling process, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) decided to undertake the replacement of four steam generators and relied on the international expertise of Sarens.

    Sarens team lifted two concrete dome sections using a Terex-Demag CC8800 crane and built two lift and support frames for the 3-foot thick concrete cutout, which was then water blasted for removal. Subsequently, two Steel dome liner sections, four steam generator cubical roof sections, and finally, four old steam generators were removed. Once the support structures had been replaced, the Sarens team proceeded to erect the new steam generators, weighing approximately 800,000 pounds, over 68 feet long, 16-foot diameter, and 168-foot radius.

    Thanks to these renovations and improvement work, the Watts Bar power plant will be able to maintain a stable energy production rate for a longer period of time. Prior to its shutdown, the facility had produced more than 11.4 billion kilowatt-hours during its 18-month operation cycle, enough to fully cover the energy demand of more than 912,000 households in the region.

    This is not the first time Sarens has undertaken a steam generator replacement project. Back in 2014, it was directly involved in the work on two units at the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant near Red Wing in Minnesota. Outside the USA, one of its major milestones was its involvement in the construction work at the new Hinkley Point C power station in England, where the SCG-250 crane, also known as Big Carl, the world’s largest crane, with a maximum load moment of 250,000 tons, allowing it to lift more than 5,000 tons, was used for the first time.

    About Sarens

    Sarens is the global leader and reference in crane rental, heavy lift, and engineered transportation services. With state-of-the-art equipment, value engineering, and one of the world’s largest inventories of cranes, transporters, and special rigging equipment, Sarens offers creative and intelligent solutions to today’s heavy lifting and engineering transport challenges.

    With more than 100 entities in 65 countries operating without borders, Sarens is an ideal partner for small to large-scale projects. Sarens currently employs 4,543 highly qualified professionals who are ready to serve the needs of any client worldwide and in all market sectors.


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