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  1. A lot of the uncertainty for current plants is the presence of customers.  Vermont Yankee closed because it couldn’t get a new contract, and apparently Duane Arnold is going the same way.  This problem isn’t going to go away just because of a new design.

    The one thing that can cement nuclear’s position is customers willing and able to pay for reliable power.  Had someone been ponied up 5¢/kWh for VY’s output, it would still be running.

    1. @E-P

      Well, actually, Entergy held out for 6.1 cents per kWh. That was a good price compared to alternatives like wind and imported hydropower, but customers balked because it was a 50% increase over the PPA price agreed when for the first ten years after Entergy bought VY. Of course, those customers did not have a good understanding of the investments that Entergy made in the plant, both voluntary and designed to improve its performance and involuntarily to meet ever changing regulations.

      1. I’m looking at the business case for something right now and 6.1¢/kWh seems feasible.  Such a pity I didn’t have this idea 10 years ago and have it ready to roll when VY’s fate was being decided.

      2. @Rod Adams ” That was a good price compared to alternatives like wind and imported hydropower, but customers balked because it was a 50% increase over the PPA price agreed when for the first ten years after Entergy bought VY. ”

        I will never understand the, “Well it’s more than we want to pay, so we’ll decline and go with something guaranteed to cost even more.” mentality.

        That’s basically what Austin did in 2009 when they declined to participate in an expansion of STNP. On the other hand, given the problems the industry seems to be having managing large construction projects, perhaps it is not as terrible as it seems. Not good — just not as terrible.

  2. I don’t have any solutions, but would be interested in the type of investment you’re referring to. Keep us updated.

  3. What about using crypto-curency to facilitate moderate investing? If the businesses/ETF wanted to make a coin, and back it up somehow with their future profits, then they could set up an exchange and let it trade after some initial offering price. Obviously, it should be made clear that the payoff from the coin is not guaranteed, and that any given company is years away from having a truly “valuable” coin, if they manage to get one at all. In the meantime however, the coins could still be used to raise money as one would use company stock, and buy/sell them back as needed. I have a feeling that plenty of people investing in cryptos right now anyways would also be interested in investing in nuclear power.

    1. This is a huge gray area as there is a lot of confusion and government crackdown on ICOs used to offer securities. It is a possibility though.

  4. @Engineer-Poet

    Kewaunee and Ft. Calhoun could also have been saved if the owners had been able to obtain a PPA for most or all of their output in the same price range.

    I suspect at this point that most of the financially stressed nuclear plants would suddenly be quite profitable at such a firm price. In most unregulated markets, however, there are some odd rules that prevent nuclear plants from participating in the same kind of PPA negotiations and contracting that has enabled many RE projects to be viable.

    I’m still learning about how that system works, especially since nuclear plants can actually deliver on their promises minute by minute while wind and solar may only be able to supply a reasonably firm commitment for total energy supplied – at wildly varying rates – over a much longer period of time.

  5. Let’s start by making it easier in which to invest in the first place. A major reduction in regulation and requirements when building nuclear plants would help in many ways including, but not limited to, reducing the up front costs (engineering and construction), reducing the time for regulator approval, and reducing the amount of learning / knowledge one needs to have about the project (by this I do not mean that one would not do an appropriate amount of due diligence, but rather that nuclear regulations have their own neauances, techinical jargon, precedent history, etc. that an investor would need to be knowledgeable of. The less of that “stuff” the bigger the pool of potential investors becomes. Plus, it allows the investors to focus on the merits of the technology / idea and not so much on forecasting what the regulator would think about the merits of the technology / idea).

    For many of the advanced reactor concepts being worked on, this shouldn’t increase any risks to the public because the concepts are (in many cases) inherently “nuclear safe” already.

  6. Rod, I have been thinking along these same lines for a while now as well. You and I need to talk!

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