The U.S. nuclear power industry has witnessed significant capacity additions through power uprates since 2001. Almost 3800 MWe was added during the period 2001–2011 out of total of about 6000 MWe added since 1977.
Capacity additions, however, have not been accompanied by an increase in capacity factors which have essentially leveled off at around 90%. The Capacity Optimization Working Group of the World Nuclear Association has identified several factors affecting capacity. These are: outage execution, equipment reliability, regulatory environment, organizational factors, engineering, safety performance, finances and, supply chain processes.
This paper focuses on the engineering factor, specifically thermal performance, which is becoming increasingly important in optimizing capacity. Using a case study, the paper examines some of the key capacity issues that were investigated, the findings and corrective actions that were implemented.