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The Energizer – Volume 90

TWINNING NUCLEAR REACTORS WITH MACHINE LEARNING

A multidisciplinary team from the Idaho and Argonne National Laboratories, Kairos Power, and Curtiss-Wright, along with support from academics, have developed digital twin nuclear reactors. By using a US$5.2 million grant from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, the scientists and engineers have engaged a physics-based machine learning process to construct and later maintain the digital twin reactors. By grounding the machine learning algorithm in actual physics, the artificial intelligence model generates predictions that are more robust and reliable when compared to more abstract models.

The complex nature of this approach provides two layers of problem-solving simultaneously. First, a machine learning-driven predictive maintenance system actively avoids unexpected outages while optimizing maintenance, and predicts mechanical failure before prototypical mechanical stress indicates as much. Second, by developing this system as a digital twin, engineers have real-time data of the complex interconnections and components within a nuclear power plant. Engineers envision the digital twin model to serve as a complete software package available to other vendors to which they may apply specific models and information.

FERC INVITES POST-TECHNICAL CONFERENCE COMMENTS ON RTO/ISO CREDIT PRACTICES

On 21 April, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a notice inviting post-technical conference comments discussing principles and best practices for credit risk management in organized wholesale markets. Comments must be submitted within 45 days, or on or before 7 June. 

The staff-led technical conference explored the fundamental principles underlying credit risk management and how those principles are applied in regional transmission organization (RTO) and independent system operator (ISO) markets. Panelists also discussed strengthening internal processes and staffing.

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS WILL SOON COMPLETE FINAL PHASE OF SOLAR FARM 2.0 PROJECT

On 13 May, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (University) announced that it will complete the final stage of its “Solar Farm 2.0” project by planting native vegetation that will support a pollinator-friendly habitat. The custom seed mix will include 21 different native plant species for a total of 6.5 million flowering plants and grasses, and is expected to increase land resiliency and create a natural habitat for local and migratory birds and beneficial insects. The native vegetation will also provide opportunities for future research to measure any improvements in panel efficiency due to reduced ground temperature.

The 12.3 MW facility was developed by Sol Systems LLC, constructed by Inovateus Solar LLC, and is owned by Capital Dynamics Inc. The photovoltaic system uses bifacial solar panels equipped with single-axis trackers and has operated for three months, generating over 4,000 MWh. The University purchases this energy via a 20-year power purchase agreement.

The project advances the University’s climate action plan, which calls for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. With the addition of the Solar Farm 2.0 Project, the University will meet approximately 12 percent of its total electricity usage from clean energy resources.

SPAIN PASSES CARBON NEUTRALITY LEGISLATION THAT BANS FOSSIL FUEL VEHICLES FROM CIRCULATION WITHIN NATION’S BORDERS BY 2050

On 13 May, Spain’s parliament approved a clean energy bill designed to meet the EU’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. The bill establishes a national target to reduce emissions by at least 23 percent compared to 1990 levels, requiring that renewables constitute 42 percent of the nation’s energy consumption and a minimum of 74 percent of the nation’s electricity production. The bill also requires that energy efficiency be improved by at least 39.5 percent.

The bill will also prohibit the sale of fossil fuel vehicles by 2040, and the use of such vehicles within the country by 2050. The mandate’s phased approach will start with a requirement that all cities with populations exceeding 50,000 people have low-emission zones like in Madrid and Barcelona. While Spain is being criticized for the bill not taking big enough steps to meet the Paris Agreement commitments, others believe this bill is a step in the right direction.

Maeve C. Tibbetts & Oretha A. Manu also contributed to this article

Copyright 2021 K & L GatesNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 148
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About this Author

Buck B. Endemann, KL Gates, energy infrastructure lawyer, remediation projects attorney
Partner

Buck Endemann is a partner in the firm’s San Francisco office, where he is a member of the energy practice group. He provides comprehensive counseling on energy, infrastructure and remediation projects, including advice on air, water and waste compliance issues, and represents clients in related litigation. 

Mr. Endemann has extensive experience on the commercial, land use, and regulatory aspects of renewable energy and infrastructure projects throughout the Western United States, with an emphasis on California. He has a particular expertise...

415-882-8016
Daniel Cohen, KL Gates Law Firm, Washington DC, Finance Law Attorney
Associate

Daniel Cohen is a first year associate in the Washington, D.C. office.

Admitted only in Virginia / Not Admitted in D.C.
Supervised by Soyong Cho, member of D.C. Bar

202-778-9020
Molly K. Barker Environment, Land and Natural Resources K&L Gates Seattle, WA
Associate

Molly Barker is an associate at the firm’s Seattle office. She is a member of the environment, land and natural resources practice group.

Professional Background

Prior to joining the firm, Ms. Barker served as an associate at an environmental and energy law firm where she focused her practice on environmental, real estate, energy, natural resources and land use law. She worked with public and private clients to conduct due diligence for permitting energy projects, obtain regulatory closure for contaminated sites, bring business operations into environmental regulatory...

206.370.7653
 Natalie J. Reid Associate Seattle Environment, Land and Natural Resources
Associate

Natalie Reid is an associate at the firm’s Seattle office. She is a member of the environment, land and natural resources practice group.

206-370-6557
Matt Clark Associate Seattle Environment, Land and Natural Resources
Associate

Matthew Clark is an associate in the Seattle office of K&L Gates in the environment, land and natural resources practice group. Mr. Clark’s practice focuses on litigation, regulatory compliance, and transactions involving energy and infrastructure, environmental permitting, natural resource development, and land use.

206-370-7857
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