I found this on my way out the door for my day job and wanted to share it with you. The recognition that small nuclear can overcome some of the issues that have slowed nuclear development and limited its market reach continues to build.
The NuScale reactor mentioned in the NPR segment has been priced out by a reputable engineering, procurement and construction contractor (EPC) – Kiewit Construction – at $4,000 per MWe in the described 12 pack configuration and $4,400 per MWe in a 6 pack with designed room to expand to 12 units. I got that information from a good source – Paul Lorenzini announced it to an audience of about 150 people on February 18, 2010 during a recent small reactor session at Platts recent meeting titled Nuclear Energy 2010.
I received a confirmation of that announcement a few days later – the man who was in charge of the estimating project turns out to have been one of my company commanders when I was a plebe at the Naval Academy. We spoke at the NEI/DOE hosted Small Reactor Forum held in Washington, DC on February 22. He told me that the company invested a substantial amount of resources in obtaining vendor bids and costing out all aspects of the project. I believe him.
That is a very competitive price for a system that can be brought on-line in an incremental fashion, adding capacity at a rate that can be matched to the growth in electrical power demand.
Wonder if Mr. Al Gore is reconsidering his repetitious assertion that nuclear energy only comes in one size – extra-large.
Of course, just because some developers are thinking about smaller reactors does not mean that the needs for the large ones have disappeared. The important thing to understand here is that nuclear fission is flexible – it can be scaled to fit the needs of the customers in a variety of market situations. Here is another short clip from NPR indicating the growing strength of the idea that nuclear can be a significant growth industry that can help meet a number of pressing challenges – energy security, preventing greenhouse gas emissions, and creating family wage jobs that instill a strong sense of duty and discipline based on production, not consumption.