Three state-owned Indonesian companies, Pertamina, PLN and INUKI, have completed the ThorCon technology pre-feasibility study agreed to in the Memorandum of Understanding with ThorCon International. The ten-month study concluded that the ThorCon molten salt reactor design could deliver safe, cheap, clean energy, could be built now, would be economically viable, and would have the potential to replace coal power plants.
Who is ThorCon? Why Indonesia?
ThorCon International is a company on a mission with a schedule objective that cannot be supported under the current U.S. NRC licensing framework. They made an initial presentation to the NRC, digested the response they received and moved on to focus their efforts in Indonesia with manufacturing support in Korean shipyards.
Their mission is to design, manufacture and support safe nuclear power plants whose total cost per kilowatt hour is cheaper than coal.
Their mission cannot be fulfilled unless their power plants are operating and providing electricity – and perhaps commercially useful heat – to places that both need and want abundant, reliable, emission free power. Until their power plants get manufactured and begin operating, they are digital designs that are not increasing general prosperity and are not helping to improve the environment.
ThonCon’s primary owners are already in their 70s and expect to actively participate in seeing their mission through to completion. Their ten-year program development clock began running a couple of years ago. In order to achieve success, they found a customer that in willing, able and supportive. Indonesia’s power needs and wants are not able to be sustainably fulfilled with existing solutions.
Parts of Indonesia are modern, high energy places where the educated segments of the population have the opportunity to live well. That prosperity, however, rest on a foundation of rapidly depleting fuel sources. Other parts are desperately poor and power hungry. As a nation made up of hundreds of islands, connections between areas can be difficult or non-existent.
Land is often at a premium and evacuation is not a viable option. Any nuclear energy solution has to be one whose footprint per unit power is small and whose safety boundary is the fence line of the installation.
Pre-Feasibility study is complete. Next steps?
Following is from the company’s March 14 press release.
Following on from the pre-feasibility study ThorCon International has begun discussions with Indonesia Nuclear Agency (BATAN) to review the ThorCon design, and BATAN has agreed that if satisfactory BATAN will recommend to the government that ThorCon be Indonesia’s first nuclear power plant.
Nicke Widyawati is Indonesia electric power company PLN’s director of planning and signer of the original MOU. She sees ThorCon playing an important role in powering Indonesia, provided an upcoming Technical Assessment finds the molten salt reactors meet safety standards and are economically sound. PLN has conditionally included thorium molten salt reactors as an option in the National Electricity Business Plan for 2017-2026.
The Indonesia Nuclear Professional Association (APRONUKI) has agreed to be the project manager to conduct a Technical Assessment of ThorCon technology, with guidance from IAEA INPRO Methodology. The Technical Assessment team of national and international experts will be led by Professor Abdul Waris of Institut Teknologi Bandung. APRONUKI president Besar Winarto said, “While using INPRO methodology on sustainability of a nuclear energy system, APRONUKI will assess whether ThorCon technologies are safe and can produce electricity competitive with coal power plants.”
According to Bob S. Effendi, ThorCon Indonesia representative, “The Technical Assessment will enable the government to open the door for nuclear power, as called for in the National Long Term Development Planning and Government Regulation no 14/2015, which says nuclear power plant construction should start in 2019 and be operating by 2025.”
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