Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Doubts and anxieties about the much touted Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

The reactor that could kick-start the nuclear sector comes in a very small package, True Viral New 

The grand promise of commercial SMRs is that they would be compact enough to prefabricate in factories and ship to their destination, where they could be stacked together to produce whatever level of energy generation is needed. …….

A number of other companies and research institutions are pursuing so-called fourth-generation SMR technologies, including molten-salt and high-temperature gas. But in general, those face tougher technical challenges, as well as regulatory ones, and may take longer to develop.

NuScale’s main financial backer is the large engineering firm Fluor, which took a majority stake in the company in 2011. In 2013, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded the company $217 million under the SMR Licensing Technical Support Program. But the Trump administration’s budget proposal includes sharp cuts to the DOE’s nuclear programs, which could jeopardize the company’s ability to secure the remaining $47 million of that grant…….

a number of Republican lawmakers urged President Trump in a letter in May to support the development of SMRs…….

Despite the promise of SMRs, the technology is not a sure bet. Notably, even if capital outlays are considerably lower, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will yield competitive electricity costs, particularly against low-cost natural gas.

Some players have reportedly already pulled back from SMRs, including Westinghouse and Babcock & Wilcox, at least in part because of competition from cheaper energy sources.

“The cost per megawatt-hour doesn’t necessarily come down just because you’re building a smaller plant,” says Ryan Fitzpatrick, deputy director of the clean-energy program at the think tank Third Way. “There have to be cost savings derived through other processes.”

Those could include things like shorter construction times and new design features that reduce regulatory expenses. But the key to driving down costs would be setting up factories to crank out a lot of reactors, says Neil Todreas, a professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT…..

That, however, may present a bit of a chicken-and-egg challenge: securing financing to build the plants will probably require a lot of orders, but it would be hard for a company to obtain those orders before it could reliably produce reactors cheaply.

In addition, the Union of Concerned Scientists has raised separate questions about how safe and secure the plants will really be. Among other issues, the group noted that a widely distributed network of smaller but more numerous reactors could make it harder to safeguard nuclear material that, among other dangers, can be used to make dirty bombs.

In the end, SMRs may or may not end up being the ideal or most economical way to add significant nuclear generation to the grid. But in a nation where it’s become nearly impossible to build any new nuclear plants, it could simply be the technology needed to get the industry moving forward again at all, Todreas says.

“I am not sure there will be a march toward small modular reactors across the U.S. for decades, or that they will completely replace large power plants,” he says. “But certainly in the near term, they’re very important for the health of nuclear power in the U.S.” In the end, SMRs may or may not end up being the ideal or most economical way to add significant nuclear generation to the grid. But in a nation where it’s become nearly impossible to build any new nuclear plants, it could simply be the technology needed to get the industry moving forward again at all, Todreas says.

“I am not sure there will be a march toward small modular reactors across the U.S. for decades, or that they will completely replace large power plants,” he says. “But certainly in the near term, they’re very important for the health of nuclear power in the U.S.”

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July 19, 2017 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. […] via Doubts and anxieties about the much touted Small Modular Nuclear Reactors « Antinuclear […]

    Pingback by Doubts and anxieties about the much touted Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | AGR Daily News Service | July 19, 2017 | Reply


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