Exelon, DOE pitch in on $92M digitalization upgrade at Limerick nuclear station

Exelon Generation will utilize a $50 million federal cost-share award to fully digitalize the control room at its Limerick Generating Station in Pennsylvania.

Once completed, the Limerick plant would be the first fully digital safety system upgrade at a U.S. nuclear power facility. Exelon will spend $42 million while the U.S. Department of Energy will kick in the $50 million.

“Through this partnership, DOE and Exelon will pave the way for modernization of control room systems across the U.S. nuclear fleet,” said Kathryn D. Huff, Acting Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy. “These upgrades will strengthen the case for extending the operation of U.S. nuclear plants into the future, ensuring we maintain access to our nation’s largest source of emissions-free electricity.” 

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Exelon has retained Westinghouse Electric Co. to replace the analog reactor protection system and other equipment with digital controllers over the next five years. This effort marks the first fully digital safety system modernization using the new ISG-06 Alternate Review Process protocol, which optimizes the process of licensing digital safety system upgrades. 

The results of this effort will be directly applicable to other U.S. boiling water reactors, which represent about one-third of the nation’s existing nuclear fleet. The 2.3-GW Limerick’s two units operate GE Type 4 boiling water reactors and provides enough electricity for close to two million homes, according to the company.

The DOE said that pressurized water and future advanced reactors should be able to apply the lessons learn from the Limerick digitalization to future reactor demonstrations.

In 2020 Limerick generated nearly 19 million MWh of carbon-free electricity. A report earlier this indicated that Exelon Generation’s complete nuclear fleet performed at a capacity factor of more than 95 percent totaled nearly 150 million MWh in net generation.

Bechtel began building the Montgomery County facility in the mid-1970s, with Unit 1 entering commercial operation in 1986 and Unit 2 four years later. Limerick is licensed by federal regulators into the 2040s.

Nuclear power plants generate close to 20 percent of the U.S. electricity utility-scale total and more than half of the nation’s carbon-free power.

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Decarbonization, Digitalization and Optimizing Plant Performance are all singular content tracks happen at the POWERGEN International live event Jan. 26-28 in Dallas. Registration is now open.

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Author

  • Rod Walton is content director for Power Engineering, POWERGEN International and the online POWERGEN+ series. He is a 13-year veteran of covering the energy industry both as a newspaper journalist and trade publication editor. He can be reached at 918-831-9177 and rod.walton@clarionevents.com.

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