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Monday, December 1, 2008

US nuclear renaissance explained

The 2008 issue of the Energy Bar Association's Energy Law Journal contains an excellent article on the US nuclear renaissance.

Energy Law Journal - The Current "Nuclear Renaissance" in the United States, its Underlying Reasons, and its Potential Pitfalls

This current and comprehensive (100 pages with 683 footnotes) article provides good background on the US new nuclear activity.

The author is Roland M. Frye, Jr. (a Senior Attorney at the NRC) with input from David B. Matthews (Director, Division of New Reactor Licensing at the NRC).

3 comments:

rsm said...

I have not made it through the entire article yet, but it is comprehensive. It was interesting to read his recommendation for the utilities to spend more money on plant material condition and staffing. That has been an issue between the utilities, NRC, and INPO for several years now.

Rollie said...

To me, the most startling part of the article was the comparison of the estimated "per kilowatt installed" construction costs of microreactors ($1000-$1280)to the same costs of the large power reactors ($4500-$7500), and the list of advantages that the former have over the latter. See pages 325-26. If the article's information is accurate, then I don't understand why the buyers of nuclear plants aren't pressuring the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to move the micros from the bottom of the design certification list (where they reside now) to the very top of that list. Entergy and its competitors would certainly receive a warmer welcome from prospective lenders (assuming there are still any left out there) if the design for the proposed plant carried a per-kW-installed cost only 1/8th to 1/4th of the amounts being quoted for the large power reactors. Plus, with the possibility of adding new capacity incrementally, these construction costs could be spread out over time. And then there are the advantages of (i) lower operating and maintenance costs; (ii) less frequent refueling (leading to higher capacity factors); (iii) lower security and proliferation concerns; and (iv) an expansion of the market to include small communities, military installations, and oil, gas and mineral production sites.

This one strikes me as a no-brainer. What am I missing?

P.S. And no, I don't work for Hyperion, NuScale or Toshiba.

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