United States (US) and International utilities are actively engaged in assessing the economic and societal benefits of operating nuclear plants beyond their initial license periods. Nuclear plant generated electricity is still the largest contributor to non-carbon dioxide emitting generation. In the US, a majority of operating plants has already received approval for an additional 20 years of operation, and soon it is expected that utilities will begin the process to seek a second 20 year renewal. The keys to successful renewal are to maintain safe and reliable operations by building a sound technical case through the following activities:
• Develop comprehensive understanding of aging degradation issues for systems, structures and components (SSCs)
• Implement specific plant aging management programs to address aging degradation
• Confirm behavior of degradation mechanisms for the entire period of operation
This paper will step through the above elements to illustrate how a strong technical case may be created for safe and reliable long-term operation. Examples or case studies will be provided to clearly link the fundamental science of materials degradation to the inspection, testing and evaluation efforts implemented at a plant and to the confirmatory data that is provided by both actual operating experience and the extensive research and development projects pursued by industry, governments, and the academic community.