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No, There Won’t Be Nuclear-Powered Commercial Shipping This Time Either

Clean Technica 25 May 23

Nuclear for commercial ships is so obviously flawed from a business perspective that I didn’t even bother to include it in my quadrant chart of sexy vs impractical maritime decarbonization technologies.

A while ago, I published my sexy-practical quadrant chart for maritime shipping decarbonization. Sharp-eyed readers noted an omission from it: nuclear power for commercial ships. While I make no claims to be encyclopedic, I do try to be relatively thorough, and it honestly didn’t occur to me to include it. Imagine my surprise that a private nuclear commercial shipping representative, CTO Giulio Gennaro of Core Power Energy, was on the panel with me at Stena Sphere’s technical summit in Glasgow.

My take is that all inland shipping and two-thirds of short sea shipping will just go to battery-electric eventually. There will be hybrid solutions where when the batteries are replaced, the pure battery range will increase and less fuel will be consumed. And biofuels will take care of the rest……………………………………………………………..

As an indicator of that niche going away, while there are over 900 ultra large crude carriers in service, only one — yes, that’s not a typo, only a single ship of that class — was on order earlier this year. No one is buying them because everyone knows that they have a good chance of being stranded assets. As I found out this week, smaller carriers are being ordered, but the ones most suitable for nuclear aren’t.

He made it clear that they were arguing for small molten salt nuclear reactors (which I guess would be MSR SMRs?), but no one pressed him on commercial demonstration of that technology. For context, there are two prototype, non-grid connected, tiny MSRs in operation in China the last time I checked. This technology has been around since the 1960s and was never commercialized. And as the product doesn’t exist today, it won’t exist in any volumes for a decade at least. They have a preferred technology, but I see no evidence of a specific design. They appear to be doing more promotion of the idea rather than development of a product.


May 27, 2023 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

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