SMR advocates and interested parties gathering in Charlotte – April 14-15
In about 10 days, I’ll be arriving in Charlotte, NC for the 5th Annual Nuclear Energy Insider SMR Summit. the planned agenda indicates that there are people who are moving beyond talk and presentations.
Participants are clearly preparing to discuss and create initial action plans addressing difficult challenges associated with establishing a new industry that intends to grab a share of what is arguably one of the world’s largest and most fundamental industries – supplying reliable, on demand power.
Before smaller nuclear reactors can achieve commercial viability — even though there is already 60 years worth of experience proving that they can technically do the job of producing reliable, ultra-low emission power — there are numerous regulatory and economic hurdles that slow or prohibit the kinds of investments required.
Investors need more predictability for both costs and schedules. They need to understand what the regulations allow now, what changes have a reasonable expectation of implementation, and what regulations prohibit. Knowing the boundaries of a problem is an important first step in designing a workable solution that might later provide the basis for expanding the boundaries.
Even though I’ve accused the current Administration of failing to back its talk about SMRs with significant budget requests, when it comes to its support for SMR development, there will be opportunities to highlight the important, cost-free actions that the government can take to remove obstacles that do nothing to protect the public and everything to simply slow the development and deployment of valuable, non-carbon producing, nuclear energy facilities.
I’ll be there to continue reminding SMR proponents that their primary competitors sell equipment that burns coal, oil and natural gas, which means they are backed by the interests that have a financial stake in selling or moving those fuels.
Events like the 5th Annual SMR Summit can enable the vital discussions that can occur when leading thinkers, designers, and regulators engage in honest, intense debate.
Key attendees include:
- Senior VP’s & CEO’s from Mitsubishi, Exelon, KEPCO, CNNC, Curtis Wright, B&W, Areva and more
- Senior Project Managers & Directors from Ameren, PSEG, Fortum, EDF, Fitch Ratings, KPMG, DAEWOO, Northrop Grumman, UK NNL and many more
The event organizers will, for the first time, host a series of down-to earth panels and workshops that will allow the world’s nuclear decision makers to push forward their proposals for greater industry co-operation on the core challenges and provide the opportunity for commercial success for all.
Atomic Insights is a media partner for the Summit.
When you register for the event please include the following discount code: ATOMICINSIGHTS. It will save you 10% of the cost of attendance and it will help support Atomic Insights.
I always wondered when discussing SMRs how “small” are we talking. I understand the idea is that they can be factory built, and delivered to a site. But, what size site are we talking about that it can power? Shopping Mall size, Neighborhood size, Small town size?
Also, how self contained are they. Are they sort of like a battery, put it on site, plug it in, come back in 10 years and replace it. Or, is this something that needs 24/7 monitoring. I assume it won’t need on-site monitoring with the advent of Internet of Things I expect each SMR would be internet connected so it could be monitored/controlled from anywere in the world… which may cause more security concerns.
The municipal utility of the city closest to me only publishes dollar sales figures (not MWh), but guesstimating based on their rates their average load is about 30 MW. A NuScale is 47.5 MW(e) net, so one would do for the city and a fair fraction of the environs. The city is about 15k.
The NuScale steam supply is more or less self-contained, but the balance of plant requires operators for feedwater pumps, steam turbines, cooling water systems, electrical switchgear and everything else.
Basically, it’s a steam plant with a zero-emission boiler.
Note that no nuclear plant can go without monitoring, the regulators won’t allow that. As much as possible, the unit will be detached from the Internet. Connection to the Internet would present a huge security risk. With connections to power grids and communications grids in todays environments, people are worried that even these avenues can be sources of security breaches that can be used to harm the plant.
Rod – It’s great that you’re going and I know you’ll help keep things stirred up.
I’d like to see you promoting an additional strategy. Take a leaf from Terrestrial Energy’s book and encourage selling SMRs as energy sources to the oil and gas industry for fossil fuel manufacture. I see all of our fuels as manufactured products; raw coal doesn’t get tossed into those expensive B&W boilers; we don’t pump crude into our vehicles’ fuel tanks. Help the fossil interests realize that the less of their product they use to manufacture their product, the more they have to sell. Sharpen the point by showing that the first fossil companies to start delivering nuclear energy packaged as hydrocarbon fuels will gain a major advantage over their competitors. And nations that facilitate this change will gain major economic and trade advantages over other nations. IMO.
Presenting SMRs only as competitors to existing businesses will make them see SMRs as problems, not opportunities. I think the message should change to one of opportunity. And if you want the regulatory path to be smoother, you need the big money to see that it need to be smoother, in their own interests.
Have a great conference!
Hi Rod. Since you have a background in submarine reactor technology maybe you can answer this. How practical would it be to create a set of nuclear sub reactors into a single building or better still on a barge and create a commercial plant for such purposes as providing electricity to a reverse osmosis desalination plant? What kind of regulatory issues would it face?
I’m not real crazy about using SMR’s to manufacture more of the fossil fuels that are causing so many problems.
Of more general interest I believe is info about designs, the security q’s noted above, and info about the possibility of technology transfer to places where they are despirately needed. I am thinking especially about China and India with their horrific fossil fuel pollution problems.
Nor am I enthusiastic about it, but if there’s a choice between nuclear heat for liquefying bitumen and gasifying coal, I’ll go with bitumen. There’s less of it, and the bitumen industry isn’t inherently competing with nuclear electricity; coal is.
I think another important aspect is, revenue is revenue. Any small, growing industry needs revenue, and SMRs to extract bitumen might be the shortest path to high profit margins for a startup nuclear reactor company; which profits might be used to grow and more quickly penetrate the market. As market share grows, there will be net environmental benefits.
Cozying up to the fossil fuel industry, if they allow it, might be the fast was for nuclear to grow and ultimately displace fossil fuels. Which is also why the fossil fuel industry might prefer to burn their own product, so as not to give a hand up to a potential competitor.
Comments are closed.
Recent Comments from our Readers
The Clinton Nuclear Plant also in Illinois was shutdown essentially for almost 2 years before it was taken over by…
Good Podcast – Very informative One thing that was not discussed is how to deal with a particular fear that…
Renewables people are masters in marketing. Unreliable intermittent generators whose output is all over the place, and usually badly correlated…
Looking at their lineup, Westinghouse seems bound and determined to keep Gen IV in its “place” which is apparently the…
So they are developing a scaled down version of the AP1000, which is a scaled up version of the AP600,…