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No market for small nuclear reactors, so no justification for setting up factories to make them.

IEEE 9th March 2021, Small modular and advanced nuclear reactors have been proposed as potential ways of dealing with the problems—specifically economic competitiveness, risk of accidents, link to proliferation and production of waste—confronting nuclear power technology. This perspective article examines whether these new designs can indeed solve these problems, with a particular focus on the economic challenges.

It briefly discusses the technical challenges confronting advanced reactor designs and the many decades it might take for these to be commercialized, if ever. The article explains why the higher construction and operational costs per unit of electricity generation capacity will make electricity from small modular reactors more expensive than electricity from large nuclear power plants, which are themselves not competitive in today’s electricity markets.

Next, it examines the potential savings from learning and modular construction, and explains why the historical record suggests that these savings will be inadequate to compensate for the economic challenges resulting from the lower generation capacity. It then critically examines arguments offered by advocates of these technologies about job creation and other potential uses of energy generated from these plants to justify subsidizing and constructing these kinds of nuclear plants. It concludes with an assessment of the markets for these technologies, suggesting that
these are inadequate to justify constructing the necessary manufacturing facilities.

March 25, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

At last! – some media questioning the story that small nuclear reactors combat climate change

What’s the Role for New Nuclear Power in the Fight Against Climate Change?
Some fear that small modular reactors could rob cash from more proven low-carbon technologies. Greentech Media, JASON DEIGN MARCH 08, 2021 
Small modular reactors (SMRs) — nuclear reactors using novel technologies to fit into much smaller and mass-producible packages than the behemoth nuclear power plants of today — are presented as a way of rapidly decarbonizing the grid in the face of an ever more pressing need to meet climate targets. But some opponents claim new nuclear power could have the opposite effect, slowing the fight against human-caused climate change just when things should be speeding up.In September last year, for example, the Sierra Club Canada Foundation harshly criticized Canada’s plans to foster an SMR industry.SMRs “are not the solution to climate change,” said the organization, citing a University of British Columbia study indicating that energy produced by SMRs could cost up to 10 times as much as power from renewable sources such as wind and solar.

“Critics of SMRs say that developing experimental nuclear reactor technologies will take too long to make a difference on climate change and could drain billions of dollars from public coffers,” said the advocacy group.

Similar challenges have been leveled against U.S. utilities such as Duke Energy and Southern Company that include SMRs in the longer-range suite of options to fully decarbonize their power grids by 2050. Critics question whether the SMRs under development today can be commercialized fast enough to drive down emissions over the next decade or two and whether government funding to drive faster deployment might better be spent on other technologies.

That’s not the only criticism facing new nuclear. In 2014, NuScale Power, which looks likely to become the first Western SMR developer to commercialize a reactor, published a paper on the use of its SMRs for oil recovery and refining applications.

The aim of the paper was to show that SMRs could be instrumental in “reducing the overall carbon footprint of these industrial complexes and preserving valuable fossil resources as feedstock for higher-value products,” according to the authors.

Nevertheless, it doesn’t look good for the nuclear industry’s climate-fighting credentials when one of its upcoming stars is apparently touting wares to the oil and gas sector.

In a written statement, Diane Hughes, NuScale Power’s vice president of marketing and communications, told GTM that the SMR developer “does not comment or discuss what companies we may be talking to regarding potential business opportunities.”……

Doubts over government finance for SMRs

Despite this, the question remains whether it makes sense for governments to put money into SMR research and development when other low-carbon generation technologies can be used to combat climate change right away.

Nuclear skeptics such as David Toke, who researches energy politics at the University of Aberdeen in the U.K., don’t think so. SMRs “are a diversion from the development of energy systems that best mitigate climate change,” he said in an interview.

“Small reactors already exist, and they occupy a very niche zone, which is military marine, mainly. That allows very high costs. But that’s the point: They cost an awful lot of money. Just because something reduces carbon emissions doesn’t mean to say the state ought to encourage it.”  ….

March 9, 2021 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | 1 Comment

Despite the problems, small nuclear reactor salesmen aggressively marketing: it’s make or break time for the nuclear industry.

Entrepreneurs Look to Small-Scale Nuclear Reactors,   The American Society of Mechanical Engineers,  Mar 2, 2021, by Michael Abrams  ‘‘……… even concepts that are predicated on being small, modular, and fast to build seem locked into decades-long development cycles.

The key to reviving the nuclear power industry  is building these small reactors not as projects, but as factory-made products. That’s easier said than done. “Usually, a bunch of nuclear engineers go in a room and then they come out after a year or two, and they have a design that doesn’t have a lot of foundation in realty, and nobody can make it, and the projects dies,” said Kurt Terrani, a senior staff scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory………..

In terms of reactor physics, the NuScale concept is fairly bog standard: low-enriched uranium, light-water cooling. In essence, their reactor is just a smaller version of the nuclear plants already in operation. That NuScale didn’t go with a more revolutionary design to mitigate waste or utilize an alternative fuel cycle is no accident. To do so would require the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to come up with an entirely new licensing framework, said José Reyes, cofounder and chief technology officer at NuScale.

“Pressurized water-cooled reactors have benefited from billions of dollars of research and development and millions of hours of operating experience over the past 50 year,” Reyes said. “NuScale went with a more traditional approach to assure a design that is cost-competitive and capable of near-term deployment.”

…………. The containment vessel will also sit underground in a giant pool capable of absorbing radiation from a leak. Multiple reactors would share the same pool. Being underground, they are also earthquake- and airplane-resistant. [ Ed. no mention of what would happen in the case of flooding, or of an emergency requirinfpeople to quickly respond underground] The company believes that its design is robust enough that utilities could site the reactors much closer to population centers, rather than in remote locations surrounded by an emergency planning zone.

So far, the concept and design have been convincing enough to win funding from the DoE and to move NuScale farther along in the regulatory process than any of its would-be competitors.

“NuScale’s small modular reactor technology is the world’s first and only to undergo design certification review by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission,”
NuScale set out to design a reactor that was small enough to transport to site, essentially complete. Not everyone agrees, however, that building out a power plant in 60-MW modules is optimal.

“The whole idea of SMRs is that smaller is better,” said Jacopo Buongiorno, a professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT and the director of the Center for Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems. “But within the class of small reactors, larger is still better.  If you can design a reactor that is still simple, that  is still passively safe, that can still be built in a factory, but that generates 300 megawatts, that for sure is going to be more economically attractive than the same thing that generates 60 megawatts.”

Buongiorno points to GE’s BWRX-300 concept as a potentially better option. It, too, is a light-water reactor with fuel rods and passive cooling. But its larger size makes it a more of a plug-and-play replacement for coal plants……
Holtec’s SMR-160 is intended to be installed deep underground; the steel containment vessel is strong enough to keep the core covered during any conceivable disaster. “
…… Other SMR designs are dispensing with solid fuel altogether. These reactors would instead dissolve uranium in a molten salt. Some of these designs are miniaturized versions of the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment built by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the late 1960s………
The one downside to molten salt reactors is that the salts usually contain fluoride, which is extremely corrosive. Simplifying the mechanical design of the cooling system cuts down on the parts in danger of corroding, but the pins that will contain the fuel are still at risk…..

Make or Break for Nuclear

Moltex is aiming for build costs at around $2,000 per kW—more than wind or solar, but less than newly built coal or gas plants, let alone competing nuclear concepts. “We’ve believe we’ve come up with a concept that can radically reduce the cost of nuclear power,” ……

Other SMR companies are less aggressive with their cost estimates—NuScale has its scopes on a cost of around $3,600 per kW, while GE is aiming for less than $2,500—but still come in under conventional nuclear power. …….
Proof of whether those costs can be achieved will be actual construction and commissioning. “This decade will be very telling,” said Chicago’s Rosner. “It’s the make or break decade for nuclear.”
Furthest along is NuScale, which in September 2020 announced its SMR design had been issued a standard design approval from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. That means the design can be referenced in an application for a construction permit—a big step, and one that had not been before achieved by a small modular reactor design. In August 2020, the NRC had completed its Phase 6 review and issued a Final Safety Evaluation Report (FSER).
The company also announced in November that it had uprated its Power Module to 77 MW, which should improve its economics by around 25 percent….

March 6, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, marketing, Reference, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Montana legislatures to review the law restricting nuclear developments

Nuclear on the radar: Part II Montana Free Press, 5 Mar, 21,   –In Part II we explore emerging nuclear technology that some Montana lawmakers laud as a smaller, safer and more affordable source of energy than the nuclear power plants of the past.

At the same time the House was reviewing a bill sponsored by Rep. Derek Skees, R-Kalispell, to remove restrictions on nuclear development, the Senate was at work on Senate Joint Resolution 3, which directs the state to study advanced nuclear reactors. The resolution appears well-positioned to pass — halfway through the session, SJ 3 has garnered unanimous support in the Senate.

Sponsor Terry Gauthier, R-Helena, becomes audibly excited discussing the measure. He said he sees modern nuclear technology as a way for Montana to send electrons to the energy-thirsty markets of the Pacific Northwest by tying into the high-voltage transmission lines leading out of Colstrip……..

Gauthier is particularly interested in a company called NuScale, based in Portland, Ore., that’s garnered more than $1.3 billion from the federal government to advance its small modular reactor, or SMR, design. It’s the only company that’s received approval from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission for that type of design — a significant milestone on the journey to market……….

Much of the debate about the environmental impact associated with nuclear energy is focused on what to do with the spent fuel. Some kinds of nuclear fuel can remain radioactive for hundreds or thousands of years. The U.S. has yet to arrive at a long-term solution for re-using or storing spent fuel, creating a contentious political issue that’s spanned decades.

As is the case with larger-scale traditional nuclear plants, spent fuel from SMRs remains a “significant issue,” according to Darby.

NuScale’s plan is to store used fuel underwater in a stainless-steel lined concrete pool located onsite for at least five years. They say the pool is designed to withstand “a variety of severe natural and human made phenomena” like earthquakes and aircraft impacts. After the five-year period when the used fuel is both hottest and most radioactive has elapsed, it’s moved to a stainless-steel canister surrounded with concrete that’s designed to contain the radioactivity.

The United States doesn’t have a permanent underground repository for high-level nuclear waste, so those concrete containment vessels generally remain on-site or near the plant they came from. A 33-year-old effort to create such a long-term storage repository northwest of Las Vegas is still subject to heated debate. ……….

Another question hanging over nuclear energy development is the price of building a new plant. It’s not uncommon for new construction costs to exceed $1 billion. Concerns about cost increases led several cities that had committed to participate in NuScale’s demonstration plant in Idaho Falls to pull out of the multi-billion-dollar project last year.

NuScale told Montana Free Press that once production is rolling on their product, it anticipates the facility construction cost to be about $2,850 per kilowatt of producing capacity for its largest, 12-module iteration. For comparison, new construction of a natural gas plant averaged about $837 per kilowatt of capacity in 2018, and wind plants clocked in at $1,382, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Brad Molnar, a Republican senator from Laurel, told MTFP that cost will be an important consideration as the state plots its energy future. He said the study Gauthier is spearheading should involve the Public Service Commission, because it doesn’t make sense to conduct the study without landing on a cost-per-megawatt estimate.

Gauthier knows that nuclear is by no means the least expensive energy source, particularly if calculations are based on a strict dollars-and-cents equation…….

It’s not yet clear if Montana’s 1978 law requiring voter approval before a nuclear energy plant can be built in the state will still be on the books next year. The Legislature is still deciding the fate of HB 273, which would strike that law and remove nuclear projects from the purview of the Major Facility Siting Act.

Sen. Molnar has been asked if he’d carry HB 273 when it’s heard in the Senate, but he said he has reservations about the measure.

“By and large, I’m really hesitant to overturn a [voter] initiative,” he said, adding that the order of operations seems a little off to him.

“First you do the study, then you take action,” he said. “You don’t take action and then do the study.”

As of March 4, both HB 273 and SJ 3 have been transmitted to the Senate and House, respectively, for review. Hearing dates before those chambers’ energy committees have not been set.

March 6, 2021 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Is it wise for the Biden administration to fund Small Nuclear Reactors?

February 27, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, climate change, politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, spinbuster | Leave a comment

NuScale’s small nuclear reactor dream – dead on arrival?

in order to make advanced reactors accessible within the next few decades—even relatively simple reactors, like NuScale’s—the government would need to provide hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies …… the nuclear dream looks dead on arrival….

Biden’s Other Nuclear Option, Smaller nuclear reactors might be the bridge to a carbon-free economy. But are they worth it? Mother Jones, 22 Feb 21, BOYCE UPHOLT    ”………..

Four years after it opened, the partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island facility in Pennsylvania spooked the nation, and Oregon, like many states, put a moratorium on new nuclear plants. ……
In 2007, an engineer at Oregon State University named José Reyes began to resurrect it by imagining a reactor that would be “very, very different.” By shrinking and simplifying the standard nuclear reactor, Reyes believes he has created a technology that can generate power more safely at a fraction of the price. Last August, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a final safety report for Reyes’ design, recommending its certification. Construction on the first reactor could begin as soon as 2025. That puts NuScale, the company Reyes co-founded, at the front of the race toward “advanced nuclear” power

Donald Trump’s Department of Energy was “all in” on advanced nuclear, as a press release put it, pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into research and development. President Joe Biden is a fan, too. As part of his plan to shift the United States to 100 percent clean energy by 2050, he has targeted further investment in small modular nuclear reactors like NuScale’s.

But are these investments worth the money—and the risks? New designs or not, nuclear plants face daunting issues of waste disposal, public opposition, and, most of all, staggering costs. We must ramp up our fight against climate change. But whether nuclear is a real part of the solution—or just a long-shot bid to keep a troubled industry alive—is a debate that will come to the fore in the short window we have to overhaul the nation’s energy portfolio.

Few issues divide us as cleanly as nuclear power. According to a 2019 Pew Research Center poll, 49 percent of Americans support opening new plants, while 49 percent are opposed.

The popular argument against nuclear power can be summed up in a few names: Chernobyl. Fukushima. Three Mile Island. Nuclear dread is palpable. Some formerly pro-nuclear countries, like Germany, began phasing out plants in the wake of the 2011 disaster in Japan. The dangers begin well before nuclear fuel arrives at a plant, and persist long afterward; the rods that fuel today’s plants remain radioactive for millennia after their use. How to ethically store this waste remains a Gordian knot nobody has figured out how to cut.

The argument in favor of nuclear power boils down to the urgent need to combat climate change.  [Ed,  but nuclear does not  really combat climate change.]

But if nuclear power is going to help us mitigate climate change, a lot more reactors need to come online, and soon. Eleven nuclear reactors in the United States have been retired since 2012, and eight more will be closed by 2025. (When nuclear plants are retired, utility companies tend to ramp up production at coal- or natural gas–fired plants, a step in the wrong direction for those concerned about lowering emissions.) Since 1970, the construction of the average US plant has wound up costing nearly three-and-a-half times more than the initial projections. Developers have broken ground on just four new reactor sites since Three Mile Island. Two were abandoned after $9 billion was.. sunk into construction; two others, in Georgia, are five years behind schedule. The public is focused on risks, but “nuclear power is not doing well around the world right now for one reason—economics,” says Allison Macfarlane, a former commissioner of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Until Three Mile Island, public support was strong. Dozens of plants came online. In the 1970s, Reyes, seeing an industry full of promise, decided to pursue a degree in nuclear engineering.

……… Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, a state-owned agency that sells electricity across six Western states aims to offer its members the choice of fully carbon-free power, sees NuScale as the best available option for undergirding its existing wind and solar plants. In 2015, UAMPS announced a plan to build 12 NuScale reactors at the federally run Idaho National Laboratory. NuScale projected total construction costs at $3 billion—nearly a third less than the most recently completed US reactor, which came online in 2016 at a cost of $4.7 billion (though it will supply more power). And the next plant should cost even less, since NuScale’s small reactors will be built on an assembly line, rather than on-site. But the price will drop only if more customers buy them. “Taxes are more popular than nuclear power,” jokes Doug Hunter, the CEO of UAMPS.

To change that perception, Hunter and his team have spent the last few years visiting towns and utility companies that buy power from UAMPS, explaining the potential role of nuclear power and the safety of NuScale’s design. His persistence paid off. By 2020, the majority had signed on to the NuScale project—though only as long as they had plenty of chances to back out if the project went south……….

Even with new technology, we will need to mine uranium—a process that has leached radioactive waste into waterways—and find somewhere to put the spent fuel. (The current practice, which persists at Trojan and will be employed at NuScale’s plants, is to hold waste on-site. This is intended to be a temporary measure, but every attempt to find a permanent disposal site has been stalled by geological constraints and local opposition.) Lloyd Marbet, Director of the non-profit Oregon Conservancy Foundation believes we need to transition away from coal and gas immediately. But he worries that nuclear is too expensive, and a new round of investment might pull money away from more effective, and cleaner, solutions. ……….

These days, he’s watching the industry creep back. A Republican state senator named Brian Boquist has proposed a bill three times that would permit city or county voters to exempt themselves from the 1980 law, allowing a nuclear facility to be built within their borders. (The bill has failed twice; the latest version is with the senate committee.) Boquist does not seem particularly committed to fighting climate change: He and other members of the Republican minority refused to show up to vote on a cap-and-trade bill in early 2020, causing the Senate to fall short of a quorum. (When Gov. Kate Brown threatened to retrieve legislators using state troopers, Boquist said to “send bachelors and come heavily armed.”)

In 2017, as the legislature debated Boquist’s first pro-nuclear bill, Marbet testified that NuScale was making “an end run around [voters] in their quest for corporate profit.” He also noted the company’s ties to the Fluor Corporation. The Texas-based multinational engineering firm that has been NuScale’s majority owner since 2011 has invested $9.9 million in campaign contributions over the past 30 years, with nearly two-thirds going toward Republican candidates. (Fluor is currently under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission due to allegedly sloppy accounting practices.)

Marbet admits his view of the industry is jaundiced, but his experiences make him skeptical of NuScale and its claims. He worries, too, that if small reactors take off, operators will revert to old habits, cutting corners to make a buck. He points to a draft rule approved last year by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, over the objections of FEMA, that would reduce the size of the emergency planning zone around nuclear plants: Rather than a 10-mile-wide circle, a plant would only need an evacuation plan for the space within its fence lines. NRC commissioner Jeff Baran opposed the change, noting it is based on assumptions about small reactors, like NuScale’s, that remain on the drawing board, and might open the door to weakening safety standards for existing plants.

Old-line environmental groups like Greenpeace and the Sierra Club remain staunchly opposed to nuclear power, but politicians have been more open to it.

President Barack Obama was an outspoken proponent of nuclear’s potential. For 2020, the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously agreed to spend more than President Trump requested on nuclear research, and the Senate is currently considering a bipartisan bill that will streamline the permitting process and establish a national uranium reserve.

Now, as part of his $2 trillion climate plan, Biden is calling for a federal research agency that would pursue carbon-free energy sources, including small reactors. Biden’s was the first Democratic Party platform in 48 years that explicitly supported an expansion of nuclear energy. His pick to lead the Department of Energy—which devotes the majority of its budget to nuclear projects—is former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who has little experience in the field. Gina McCarthy, the former EPA administrator who is Biden’s chief domestic climate coordinator, has said that nuclear could play a key role in baseload power supply but indicated that waste disposal issues ought to be resolved before the technology is widely adopted.

A major hurdle for any advanced nuclear product is the regulatory process. NuScale spent more than $500 million developing its licensing application. The path to approval has consumed 12 years already, and it’s not over yet. In the months after my visit to NuScale, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission noted “several potentially risk-significant” questions that remain unanswered about the company’s reactor design, especially about its new version of a steam generator. Nonetheless, the NRC granted its initial approval of the design at the end of the summer; now NuScale awaits official, final certification by the commissioners, which is expected sometime this year. But further analysis of the generators will be required before a license is granted to actually build a plant.

A decade ago, NuScale suggested it might have a plant in operation by 2018. Now construction won’t begin until 2025 at the earliest. The plant at Idaho National Laboratory won’t be fully operational until 2030. Factoring in interest and other costs not included in NuScale’s $3 billion estimate, UAMPS expects a total 40-year lifetime cost of $6 billion for the plant. Some critics see this as the same old story: grand, early promises—a “dog and pony show,” as Marbet calls NuScale’s PR—followed by cost overruns and delays. Reyes intentionally used materials familiar to regulators, so as to speed along the process. But other advanced reactor designs, which use new kinds of fuel and coolant, may face an even slower and more expensive journey.

Recently, nine towns—more than a quarter of the subscribed members—pulled out of UAMPS’s project after changing their minds about their energy needs or worrying that it was becoming a financial sinkhole. (Meanwhile, one new town signed on.) The plant’s economics depend on running near full capacity, which will only happen if utilities outside of UAMPS also buy some of its power. The Department of Energy says it will chip in nearly $1.4 billion over the next nine years, which should help bring down the cost of the plant’s energy. But the projected price—$55 per megawatt-hour—is still above the current costs for solar and wind projects. And the federal money will require annual congressional approval. It’s possible that other new ideas might pop up, competing for limited dollars.

Biden’s climate plan hinges on a massive expenditure on research. What his administration will have to quickly decide, though, is how to divvy that pot. Allison Macfarlane, the former NRC commissioner, told me other industries deserve far more of our resources and attention than nuclear. Batteries, in particular, could steady out the uneven flow of renewables. They may even work better, since nuclear plants are difficult to power up or down in response to changing conditions. Once a pie-in-the-sky idea, battery storage now offers costs at least “in the ballpark” of nuclear, says Stan Kaplan, a former US Energy Information Administration analyst. Prices have dropped 70 percent in the past few years and are projected to drop another 45 percent before NuScale’s plant comes online. California—which also has a moratorium on nuclear builds—is rapidly expanding its storage capacity. Within 10 years, the niche that Nu­Scale is aiming for might already be filled.

……. For nuclear to persist as a hedge, it all but requires government assistance, given the enormous upfront costs of R&D. Another challenge is vetting which projects have real promise. “You have all these reactor vendors pitching their wares, and making all sorts of outrageous and false claims,” says Edwin Lyman, the director of nuclear power safety with the Union of Concerned Scientists. These claims have also been the basis of lowering safety standards, which offers a large indirect subsidy for operators. There needs to be a stronger peer-review process, he says, to make sure the government is only sponsoring truly worthwhile projects.

A recent study from Princeton found that even without nuclear power, the relative cost of a decarbonized energy system in 2050 could be about the same as in 2015, which at the time was a historic low. The study found nuclear could reduce costs even further—if it becomes as cheap as its advocates hope. But Abdulla, the UC San Diego researcher, has calculated that in order to make advanced reactors accessible within the next few decades—even relatively simple reactors, like NuScale’s—the government would need to provide hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies and substantially simplify the regulatory process. Abdulla believes nuclear energy should have been “an arrow in our quiver.” But given the economics, he says, “I fear the arrow has broken.”

if money were no object—if we could snap our fingers and scatter reactors across the landscape—…… But if Abdulla’s numbers are right, the nuclear dream looks dead on arrival….

 A great article. Just one problem.  The whole article runs with the assumption that nuclear power is effectively ”low carbon”. Yet this assumption is not challenged. There are several ways in which nuclear power is actually quite high carbon.   Just for one comparison with reneewable energy:  wind and solar power are delivered directlly to the turbines and panels – with no digging up of fuel required, no regular transport by road, rail etc.  The entire nuclear fuel chain with all its steps –   mining, milling, conversion, fuel fabrication, reactor, waste ponds, waste canisters , deep repositaory …       all this is carbon emitting.   


February 23, 2021 Posted by | Reference, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | 1 Comment

Big trouble ahead, on regulation issues, for countries desperately trying to export small nuclear reactors

Regulatory Harmonization: An Upcoming Hurdle for SMRs?
Nuclear developers may have problems selling small modular reactors abroad.
GreenTech Media JASON DEIGN FEBRUARY 15, 2021  The nuclear industry is betting on small modular reactors (SMRs) to regain its competitive edge in markets such as the U.S. and Canada. Proponents say the reactors can be built cheaply once multiple units start being ordered and can even lead to lucrative export opportunities.There’s just one problem. If you build an SMR in the U.S., for example, you can’t sell it in Canada until Canadian regulators have approved the design. And the same goes for every other nuclear market in the world. Even nuclear insiders recognize that this could be a big issue for SMRs.

Regulatory harmonization has a lot to do with whether or not SMRs are going to be able to achieve cost competitiveness,” stated John Gorman, president and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Association, in an interview.

… national regulations cover everything from food safety to vehicle emissions.

But the hyper-safety-conscious nuclear industry takes regulation to a whole new level. The SMR manufacturer NuScale, for example, claims to have spent more than $500 million, plus 2 million labor hours, in the process of passing its U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Design Certification Application…….

National regulations are not just highly detailed but also wildly divergent. The differences between the regulatory regimes in the U.S. and the U.K., for example, reflect not just different jurisdictions but entirely different safety philosophies.

………  even a regulatory approval from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission won’t pass muster in the U.S.,,,,,

February 15, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Even a pro nuclear enthusiast admits that Small Nuclear Reactors cause toxic radioactive wastes

13 Feb 21 I was quite fascinated to note a paragraph in a long nuclear  propaganda article, (by Stikeman Elliott, in Mondaq) yesterday, in which this, hitherto rather hidden problem, gets a mention.

Of course, this pro nuclear writer is not really worried all that much about the actual problem.

Oh no –  his concern is about the public’s perception of it –  that public perception might hamper the develoment of the nuclear lobby’s newest gimmick. Can’t have that!

”…….efforts need to be made to address the perceived risks so as to establish confidence in the ability of SMRs to operate safely while proving to be a viable source of low-carbon energy. 

While SMRs produce less nuclear waste than traditional reactors, the issue of radioactive waste still exists. Nuclear waste needs to be safely stored and transported to secure facilities. SMRs have often been proposed as a solution for electricity generation in remote areas, but this proves problematic from a waste perspective as any nuclear waste would need to be transported over long distances. There is currently no permanent nuclear waste storage site in Canada……”

February 13, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Unsafe plan for abandoning nuclear reactors onsite, and developing Small Nuclear Reactors

“IAEA guidance that entombment is not considered an acceptable strategy for planned decommissioning of existing [nuclear power plants] and future nuclear facilities.”

February 4, 2021 Posted by | decommission reactor, Reference, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

First a comment on military smrs – then the enthusiastic article about them

spikedpsycho169, 18 Jan 21, Small reactors on a battlefield where the enemy now has suicide drones, rpg’s and homemade rockets. What could possibly go wrong.? Other than electricity, reactors have little use on a field of combat. Some advocate the production of liquid fuels using in situ resources like ammonia, methanol, etc made using ambient materials like air/water. That requires temperatures above 600-800 degrees celsius, Which no reactor currently operates.  
 Reactors for powering non-combat or heavily defended bases is one thing. Building one for a FOB or MASH is prohibitively expensive and should the base be overrun or abandoned, how do you take it with you. A running reactor would irradiate it’s environment EVERYwhere it went. the ml-1 reactor needed 1000 feet exclusion zone; and That’s why commercial plants have these..


White House Accelerates Development Of Mini Nuclear Reactors For Space And The Battlefield

The order looks to accelerate and integrate the development of highly mobile nuclear reactors for space and the terrestrial battlefield.   BY BRETT TINGLEY JANUARY 16, 2021

President Trump issued an Executive Order on January 12 that aims to promote small, modular nuclear reactors for defense and space exploration applications. According to a press statement issued by the White House, the order will “further revitalize the United States nuclear energy sector, reinvigorate America’s space exploration program, and produce diverse energy options for national defense needs.” 

The order instructs NASA’s administrator to prepare a report within 180 days that will define NASA’s requirements and foreseeable issues for developing a nuclear energy system for human and robotic exploratory missions through 2040. The order also calls for a “Common Technology Roadmap” between NASA and the Departments of Energy, Defense, Commerce, and State for implementing new reactor technologies. The full text of the Executive Order can be read at ………

Section 4 of the Executive Order goes into further detail about the DoD’s energy needs, and outlines the role the Department of Defense will play in this new initiative to develop mobile nuclear reactors …….

The Executive Order also outlines a Common Technology Roadmap that “describes potential development programs and that coordinates, to the extent practicable, terrestrial-based advanced nuclear reactor and space-based nuclear power and propulsion efforts” between the Departments of Energy, Defense, Commerce, State, and NASA. This roadmap will also require “assessments of foreign nations’ space nuclear power and propulsion technological capabilities.” Naturally, one of the most pressing concerns with any nuclear technology is national security, and thus the order also instructs the DoD to work together with NASA and other agencies to identify security issues associated with any potential space-based nuclear systems.

With this new Executive Order, the White House seeks to propel the United States to the forefront of all of the work being conducted in compact reactor research. While the wording in the statement focuses more on space exploration, the Department of Defense’s involvement is highly important. Since space environments are similar in that resupply is a tricky, if not impossible, endeavor, NASA could help jump-start the DoD’s mobile nuclear program even further if both are really working on it collaboratively, although the requirements will be somewhat different. “There’s sometimes a risk of forcing too much commonality,” a White House official told “What this executive order does is ensure that there is a deliberate look at what those opportunities may be.”

If realized, the Executive Order’s accompanying statement reads, this initiative could lead to a “transportable small modular reactor for a mission other than naval propulsion for the first time in half a century.” 

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January 19, 2021 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

”Small Modular Reactors”’- governments are being sucked in by the ”billionaires’ nuclear club” 

SNC-Lavalin   Scandal-ridden SNC-Lavalin is playing a major role in the push for SMRs.

Terrestrial Energy…..  Terrestrial Energy’s advisory board includes Dr. Ernest Moniz, the former US Secretary of the Dept. of Energy (2013-2017) who provided more than $12 billion in loan guarantees to the nuclear industry. Moniz has been a key advisor to the Biden-Harris transition team, which has come out in favour of SMRs.

The “billionaires’ nuclear club”  …“As long as Bill Gates is wasting his own money or that of other billionaires, it is not so much of an issue. The problem is that he is lobbying hard for government investment.”

Going after the public purse

Bill Gates was apparently very busy during the 2015 Paris climate talks. He also went on stage during the talks to announce a collaboration among 24 countries and the EU on something called Mission Innovation – an attempt to “accelerate global clean energy innovation” and “increase government support” for the technologies.

Gates’ PR tactic is effective: provide a bit of capital to create an SMR “bandwagon,” with governments fearing their economies would be left behind unless they massively fund such innovations.

governments “are being suckers. Because if Wall Street and the banks will not finance this, why should it be the role of the government to engage in venture capitalism of this kind?”

It will take a Herculean effort from the public to defeat this NICE Future, but along with the Assembly of First Nations, three political parties – the NDP, the Bloc Quebecois, and the Green Party – have now come out against SMRs.

January 16, 2021 Posted by | Canada, investigative journalism, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Big doubts on small nuclear reactors – on economics, on waste problems

Former U.S. regulator questions small nuclear reactor technology,   Business case for small reactors ‘doesn’t fly,’ says expert on nuclear waste, Jacques Poitras · CBC News Jan 15, 2021   A former head of the United States’ nuclear regulator is raising questions about the molten-salt technology that would be used in one model of proposed New Brunswick-made nuclear reactors.

The technology pitched by Saint John’s Moltex Energy is key to its business case because, the company argues, it would reuse some of the nuclear waste from Point Lepreau and lower the long-term cost and radioactivity of storing the remainder.

But Allison Macfarlane, the former chairperson of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and a specialist in the storage of nuclear waste, said no one has yet proven that it’s possible or viable to reprocess nuclear waste and lower the cost and risks of storage.

“Nobody knows what the numbers are, and anybody who gives you numbers is selling you a bridge to nowhere because they don’t know,” said Macfarlane, now the director of the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia.

“Nobody’s really doing this right now. … Nobody has ever set up a molten salt reactor and used it to produce electricity.”

Macfarlane said she couldn’t comment specifically on Moltex, calling information about the company’s technology “very vague.”

But she said the general selling point for molten-salt technology is dubious.

“Nobody’s been able to answer my questions yet on what all these wastes are and how much of them there are, and how heat-producing they are and what their compositions are,” she said.

“My sense is that all of these reactor folks have not really paid a lot of attention to the back end of these fuel cycles,” she said, referring to the long-term risks and costs of securely storing nuclear waste.

Moltex is one of two Saint John-based companies pitching small nuclear reactors as the next step for nuclear power in the province and as a non-carbon-dioxide emitting alternative to fossil fuel electricity generation.

Moltex North America CEO Rory O’Sullivan said the company’s technology will allow it to affordably extract the most radioactive parts of the existing nuclear waste from the Point Lepreau Generating Station.

The waste is now stored in pellet form in silos near the plant and is inspected regularly.

The process would remove less than one per cent of the material to fuel the Moltex reactor and O’Sullivan said that would make the remainder less radioactive for a much shorter amount of time.

Existing plans for nuclear waste in Canada are to store it in an eventual permanent repository deep underground, where it would be secure for the hundreds of thousands of years it remained radioactive………..

Shorter-term radioactivity complicates storage

Macfarlane said a shorter-term radioactivity life for waste would actually complicate its storage underground because it might lead to a facility that has to be funded and secured rather than sealed up and abandoned.

“That means that you believe that the institutions that exist to keep monitoring that … will exist for hundreds of years, and I think that is a ridiculous assumption,” she said.

“I’m looking at the United States, I’m seeing institutions crumbling in a matter of a few years. I have no faith that institutions can last that long and that there will be streams of money to maintain the safety and security of these facilities. That’s why you will need a deep geologic repository for this material.”

And she said that’s assuming the technology will successfully extract all of the most radioactive material.

“They are assuming that they remove one hundred per cent of the difficult, radionuclides, the difficult isotopes, that complicate the waste,” she said.

“My response is: prove it. Because if you leave five per cent, you have high-level waste that you’re going to be dealing with. If you leave one per cent, you’re going to have high-level waste that you’re going to be dealing with. So sorry, that one doesn’t fly with me.”

Macfarlane, a geologist by training, raised doubts about molten-salt technology and waste issues in a 2018 paper she co-authored for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists……….

January 16, 2021 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, wastes | Leave a comment

Small modular reactor plan bolsters nuclear industry’s future, but renewables could address energy issues now,

Small modular reactor plan bolsters nuclear industry’s future, but renewables could address energy issues now,

While SMRs are hailed as start of a nuclear renaissance, there are big questions about costs and timeframe,  Eva Schacherl ·  CBC News   Jan 15  In late December, as many Canadians were easing into a low-key holiday break, Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan pulled out a bag of goodies for the nuclear industry. It was the much-hyped Small Modular Reactor Action Plan for Canada.

Small modular reactors (SMRs) are experimental nuclear technologies that are still on the drawing board. They are the nuclear power industry’s hope for overcoming the problems that have plagued it: high costs, radioactive waste, and risks of accidents.

Public interest groups across the country, however, argue that SMRs won’t solve these issues.

The dozen SMR vendors backing the technology include GE-Hitachi, Westinghouse, and SNC-Lavalin (which, along with two U.S. corporations, already holds a multibillion-dollar contract with the federal government to run Canadian Nuclear Laboratories at Chalk River, Ont.). O’Regan’s plan did nothing to clarify the price tag of a nuclear renaissance, but it says the federal government expects to share the cost and risks of SMR projects with the private sector.

Proponents say that SMRs will cost less than conventional nuclear and be flexible enough to serve remote communities reliant on costly and polluting diesel. O’Regan has also said that SMRs are necessary to fight climate change: in short, a utopia of “clean, affordable, safe and reliable power,” as he told a nuclear conference last year.

But is this any more than a dream? The enthusiasm for SMRs sometimes sounds like a New Age cult — let’s examine the claims.

First, must we have a new generation of nuclear reactors to get to the promised land of net-zero emissions?

Many studies show a path to net-zero without nuclear energy. Energy scientists who modelled a 100 per cent renewable energy system for North America, for example, concluded that nuclear energy “cannot play an important role in the future” because of its high cost and safety issues. Closer to home, it has been shown how Ontario can meet its electricity demand without nuclear, using renewables, hydro and storage.

Meanwhile, a new study in Nature Energy uses data from 123 nations to show that countries focused on renewables do much better at reducing emissions.

Indeed, some fear that the federal government’s faith in nuclear reactors will delay Canada’s transition to clean energy. SMRs will take decades to develop and deploy, yet it’s projected that we have as little as 10 years left to stop irreversible damage from climate change.

Can SMRs one day be cost-competitive with renewable energy?

Right now, the cost difference between nuclear power and other low-carbon alternatives is growing because renewables and energy storage keep getting cheaper.

Meanwhile, the estimated cost of the most advanced SMR project, in Idaho, has increased from $4.2 billion to $6.1 billion before shovels are even in the ground. That’s nearly $12,000 per kilowatt of generation capacity.

The Canada Energy Regulator says wind and solar projects in Canada cost $1,600 to $1,800 per kilowatt to build in 2017 – and that their costs are expected to go down steeply.

an small reactors wean off-grid communities and mines from diesel fuel?

Perhaps some day. But if the government has a few hundred million dollars to spare for SMR projects, they should spend it now to speed up renewable energy adoption in those locations instead. Studies show that renewables would offer power as much as 10 times cheaper, using technologies that are ready to go now rather than ones still on the drawing board.

Finally, nuclear energy is neither green nor clean. All reactors produce radioactive waste that will need to be kept out of the biosphere for hundreds of thousands of years.

The proposal that some SMR models would reuse highly radioactive CANDU fuel and plutonium will only create worse problems in the form of radioactive wastes that are even more dangerous to manage.

For a livable future, Canada has pledged to get to net-zero emissions by 2050. Will we get a bigger bang for our buck from reactors that are still just design concepts? Or by retrofitting buildings, improving energy efficiency, and building solar, wind, geothermal and tidal power with existing technology?

Clearly, the latter. And it needs to be done now.

January 16, 2021 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

As pandemic cripples America, Donald Trump orders funding for military Small Nuclear Reactors in space

January 14, 2021 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, space travel, USA | 1 Comment

Most Maldon District Councillors oppose Bradwell big nuclear development: small reactors would carry the same dangers.

Maldon Standard 7th Jan 2021, A CAMPAIGN group is calling for a council to make up its mind about a proposed nuclear power plant. Last month, Maldon District Council voted in
favour of a recommendation to send a letter in support of the development of small modular reactors at the site of Bradwell B power station. The letter was sent to MP John Whittingdale and to the head of nuclear development at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in support of the development.
Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG) said “We find this suggestion flies entirely in the face of recent pronouncements from the Council.” Previously the council reviewed its
position to back Bradwell B due to the environmental and ecological impacts it would have.
Now BANNG says Maldon District Council “can’t have it both ways”. Spokesman Varrie Blowers said: “BANNG has always maintained that the main problem with any new nuclear development at Bradwell was the unsuitability of the site itself. “It was clear during the recent debates
on the plans for Bradwell B that a strong majority of councillors agreed with BANNG that Bradwell is an unsuitable, unacceptable and unsustainable site for nuclear development.
“It is this message that needs to be made clear so that the site is removed from the Government’s list of potentially suitable sites. “Small modular reactors would create the same
environmental, heritage and ecological problems as those opposed by Maldon
District Council in relation to Bradwell B.”

January 9, 2021 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK | Leave a comment