The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) continues to test its Watts Bar 2 nuclear unit at incrementally higher-and-higher power levels, reaching 41% generation early July 6, according to Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) data.
This appears to be the first time, or one of the first, where Watts Bar 2 has hit at least 40% power generation since it was officially synced to the grid on June 3.
TVA operators continue to gradually increase power generation at the roughly 1,150-MW facility in Spring City, Tennessee.
The plant has not been running continuously, as plant operators have taken it back down to zero power generation several times. Eventually, as testing continues, TVA will increase power generation to 100%.
When it connected to the grid, Watts Bar 2 became the first nuclear power plant to come online since 1996, when Watts Bar Unit 1 started operations, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Watts Bar Unit 2 is the first nuclear plant in the United States to meet new regulations from the NRC that were established after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that damaged the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant in Japan, EIA noted.
After the NRC issued an operating license for the unit in October 2015, 193 new fuel assemblies were loaded into the reactor vessel the following month. TVA announced at the end of May that the reactor achieved its first sustained nuclear fission reaction.
Construction on Watts Bar Unit 2 originally began in 1973, but construction was halted in 1985 after the NRC identified weaknesses in TVA’s nuclear program. In August 2007, the TVA board of directors authorized the completion of Watts Bar Unit 2.
Costs of completing the second pressurized water reactor (PWR) at Watts Bar station eventually totaled $4.7bn.