b'NUCLEAR DAYS AHEADIs completion of Vogtle just the beginning for U.S. nuclear energy?By Gary Burrows, AJOTSeptember 2023 | Published in AJOT Issue #757Plant Vogtle Unit 3 (left) and Unit 4 (right)As the first U.S. commercial nuclear reactors in more than 30Unit 3 was expected to be operational by 2016; Unit 4 by 2017. years come online, the U.S. government and energy companies seeBut the modularization approach did not go as planned. Delays, further development as a major tool in reducing carbon, despiteincluding redesign of the containment building in 2012, ultimately some hiccups along the way. forced Westinghouse into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2017 Georgia Power reported that its Plant Vogtle Unit 3 in Waynes- when it couldnt absorb the overruns.boro,Georgia,enteredcommercialoperationonJuly31.TheSouthern Nuclear, a Southern Co. division, took control of the energy utility also said the process has started to load fuel into theVogtle 3 and 4 site July 2017 and selected Bechtel to complete Vogtle Unit 4 reactor core, with the unit to be placed into service byconstruction in August 2017.the first quarter of 2024. Units 3 and 4 were expected to cost US$14 billion and be opera-Vogtle Units 3 and 4 will operate two Westinghouse AP1000tional by 2017. However, the project was completed six years later (Advanced Passive) nuclear units of about 1.1 gigawatts each,and US$17 billion over budget.providing power for 1 million Georgia homes and businesses. TheResponsible PartnerU.S. Department of Energy believes the project will reduce carbon emissions by 1 million metric tons in 2030. Despite pushback from Georgia electric customerswho will The Westinghouse AP1000 is a Generation III+ advanced pres- largely foot the bill Georgia Power and parent company Southern surized water reactor that relies on gravity and natural circulationCo. see the project as a triumph.for core cooling, even in the absence of operator intervention orThe Plant Vogtle 3 and 4 nuclear expansion is another incredible mechanical assistance, said Bechtel, the Houston-based engineer-ing, procurement, and construction giant that in 2017 stepped in to complete the Vogtle project. The units are designed and licensed to operate for 60 years.Modularization ChallengesTheWestinghouseAP1000wasseenasanevolutionary approach, which would provide a modular design in which modules would be manufactured off-site and assembled onsite. The plants would have a smaller footprint and simpler design with less piping, valves, and pumps than previous designs.Work began on Units 3 and 4 in 2009, with Westinghouse respon-sible for engineering, design and overall management, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based Shaw Group (later CB&I) to manufacture the pre-fabricated component modules and manage on-site con-struction. Kim Greene, chairman, president Brendan Bechtel, chairman && CEO of Georgia Power CEO of Bechtel6'