U.K. ambitions to build small modular nuclear plants may be realized as soon as 2025, according to Fluor Corp.’s NuScale unit, which is seeking to be a pioneer in the market. NuScale plans to submit its 50-megawatt reactor design for approval by U.S. nuclear authorities towards the end of 2016. That would leave it well-placed to seek the U.K. equivalent, called Generic Design Assessment, in 2017, Tom Mundy, executive vice president for program development at the U.S. company, said in an interview in London.
Bloomberg 18th Jan 2016 read more »
A nuclear power station that can be placed on the back of a truck – or even a barge – could be the future of atomic power around the world. While many big countries are building a new generation of nuclear power stations as a way of providing reliable power while also hitting carbon reduction targets, such facilities have proved expensive to build, often requiring significant government subsidies to ensure they are completed. As a result, some in the nuclear industry are pinning their hopes on new technologies, which involve building small nuclear power plants in modules in a factory and transporting them to the sites where they will run. “Small modular reactors will open up nuclear power to places and situations that have never traditionally invested in nuclear power,” says David Hess, of the World Nuclear Association. The idea of nuclear power on a small scale is not new. India and Pakistan have nuclear units with a capacity of 300MW – a tenth of the size of the £18bn facility planned for Hinkley Point in south-west England. Tom Mundy, an executive vice-president at NuScale, one of the companies developing small modular reactors (SMRs) comments: “We wanted to make sure our steam-generating unit could be transported by a special truck, on the railways, or the waterways.” NuScale’s main module, which contains both the reactor core and the water heating system, is roughly 22m long by 4m wide. Mr Mundy adds that the economics for SMRs only work if operators order a whole fleet of smaller plants, helping drive down the overall cost per unit. “We are not talking about economies of scale here but economies of multiples,” he says. Another change that has driven the technology has been the privatisation of energy markets around the world. While governments had big enough balance sheets to be able to finance larger nuclear projects, companies are less likely to unless they get some form of state support. The UK government has guaranteed EDF, the French energy company, £92.50 per megawatt hour of the electricity it will eventually produce at Hinkley Point. The current wholesale price is about half of that, leading to accusations that the taxpayer is being overcharged. Dieter Helm, a professor of energy at Oxford university says: “The big pressurised reactor approach has come to the end of the road. In developed countries, there is no appetite to develop these.”
FT 17th Jan 2016 read more »