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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Delays, ballooning costs, stall Next-Generation Nuclear Reactors

Next-Generation Nuclear Reactors Stalled by Costly Delays, Bloomberg, by Stephen Stapczynski February 3, 2017, 

  • Toshiba seen booking billions in impairment on nuclear unit
  • Shadows of Fukushima impair industry push on new age reactors

reactor-generations

Costly delays, growing complexity and new safety requirements in the wake of the triple meltdown at Fukushima are conspiring to thwart a new age of nuclear reactor construction.

So-called generation III+ reactors were supposed to have simpler designs and safety features to avoid the kind of disaster seen in Japan almost six years ago. With their development, the industry heralded the dawn of a new era of cheaper, easier-to-build atomic plants.

Instead, the new reactors are running afoul of tighter regulations and unfamiliar designs, delaying completions and raising questions on whether the breakthroughs are too complex and expensive to be realized without state aid. The developments have left the industry’s pioneers, including Areva SA and Westinghouse Electric Co., struggling to complete long-delayed projects while construction elsewhere gains pace.

“The cost overrun situation is driven by a near-perfect storm of societal risk aversion to nuclear causing ultra-restrictive regulatory requirements, construction complexity, and lack of nuclear construction experience by the industry,” said Lake Barrett, a former official at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Toshiba Corp., Japan’s biggest maker of nuclear power plants, is the latest to join a list of companies facing impairments in the pursuit of cutting-edge reactors…….

Ballooning Costs

In 2015, the investment cost to develop a new nuclear plant was $5,828 per kilowatt, up from $2,065 in 1998, according to a World Nuclear Associationreport. In Europe, construction of a new nuclear facility in France seen costing $7,202 per kilowatt, compared with $2,280……..

“I don’t know of any recent examples of new, large, complex technological construction projects that have come in on time and on budget,” Allison Macfarlane, a former chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said by e-mail.

The industry has no agreed-upon definition for generation III+. Broadly, the reactors are expected to withstand an airplane strike and the cooling systems should operate for at least three days without electricity…….https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-02/costly-delays-upset-reactor-renaissance-keeping-nuclear-at-bay

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February 4, 2017 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, technology

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