Is nuclear power going to help the United States decarbonize its energy supply and fight climate change? Probably not. That is the conclusion of a remarkable new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in early July — remarkable because it is not written by opponents of nuclear power, as one might expect given the conclusion. The authors are in fact extremely supportive of nuclear and view its loss as a matter of “profound concern”: The other great hope of the industry is factory-built small modular reactors (SMRs), which are — or will be, it is hoped — faster and cheaper to build than giant plants because they are smaller and built from standardized parts. They can be deployed incrementally, matched to energy demand in particular times and places, and are meltdown-proof without human intervention. Several companies, most notably NuScale (which has already submitted its design to the feds), are trying to develop light-water SMRs. NuScale wants to build a test reactor on the grounds of the Idaho National Laboratories and more than a dozen companies have inquired about doing the same. So, with already-proven technology and lower construction costs, are SMRs the key to saving nuclear in the US? Using “a combination of engineering economic analysis and the use of structured procedures to elicit expert judgments,” the researchers took a close look at SMRs. Indeed, they “expended much effort in developing plausible scenarios of how an SMR domestic market might develop.” The results? Grim. Under every plausible scenario, power from SMRs is (and remains, even with subsequent generations of the tech) substantially more expensive than power from competitors. So they probably can’t compete directly in power markets.
Vox 11th July 2018 read more »
Georgia Power now says the cost to complete construction at the twin Vogtle nuclear units will go up by $1.1 billion, heightening concerns about the economics of the project. In a statement early Wednesday, the company said Southern Nuclear which has been managing the project for over a year revised the estimate cost to complete the project from $7.3 billion to $8.4 billion.
Atlanta Journal Constitution 8th Aug 2018 read more »
Less than a year ago, Southern Co. officials forged a political and financial deal to continue building a nuclear-power plant beset by cost overruns and delays. The company pledged that a new construction contractor would fix problems that had plagued the project. On Wednesday, Southern said its costs to build the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant had risen again by more than $1 billion and said it would take a charge to its second-quarter earnings to cover the new cost overruns. Company officials said they still expected to have the two new power-generating units completed by 2021 and 2022.
Wall St Journal 8th Aug 2018 read more »
A radiologically contaminated piece of equipment left the Hanford nuclear reservation and was taken into north Richland by mistake, according to a message sent Wednesday afternoon to Hanford employees. The equipment, a “spreader bar” that distributes weight while hoisting items, had been used at Hanford’s Plutonium Finishing Plant. Most work has stopped at the plant since a spread of plutonium was discovered there in December. Then several employee cars were contaminated and some employees inhaled radioactive contamination.
Tri City Herald 8th Aug 2018 read more »