In the USA, engineers and even CEO’s of some of the leading nuclear companies are admitting that the age of nuclear energy is virtually over in North America. This negative judgment is not coming from people who are opposed to nuclear power, quite the opposite — from people lamenting the decline. See, for example, one major report from the Engineering faculty at Carnegie-Mellon University. That Carnegie-Mellon report includes Small Modular Nuclear Reactors in its analysis, without being any more hopeful for a nuclear revival on that account. The reason? It is mainly because a new generation of smaller reactors, such as those promised for New Brunswick, will necessarily be more expensive per unit of energy produced, if manufactured individually. The sharply increased price can be partially offset by mass production of prefabricated components; hence the need for selling hundreds or even thousands of these smaller units in order to break even and make a profit. However, the order book is filled with blank pages — there are no customers. This being the case, finding investors is not easy. So entrepreneurs are courting governments to pony up with taxpayers’ money, in the hopes that this second attempt at a Nuclear Renaissance will not be the total debacle that the first one turned out to be. Chances are very slim however. There are over 150 different designs of “Small Modular Reactors”. None of them have been built, tested, licensed or deployed. At Chalk River, Ontario, a consortium of private multinational corporations, comprised of SNC-Lavalin and two corporate partners, operating under the name “Canadian Nuclear Laboratories” (CNL), is prepared to host six or seven different designs of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors — none of them being identical to the two proposed for New Brunswick – and all of these designs will be in competition with each other. The Project Description of the first Chalk River prototype Small Modular Reactor has already received over 40 responses that are posted on the CNSC web site, and virtually all of them are negative comments.
Beyond Nuclear 23rd Feb 2020 read more »