Nobody said building new plants will be like shooting fish in a barrel
The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the industry's policy organization, told Wall Street analysts this week that it expects the two dozen or so potential applications for nuclear reactor licenses to self-select down for the first wave of new construction. NEI projects that four to eight new power plants will move ahead and be operational by about 2016.
This interesting calibration comes to readers via a blog report at U.S. News & World Report by Marianne Lavelle who writes a regular feature on energy called "Beyond the Barrel." She writes this week . . .
"Although 17 companies are preparing license applications for as many as 31 new nuclear power plants, don't expect the "nuclear renaissance," if it happens—at least the first phase of it—to be nearly this big."
And she also notes that NEI has some new numbers on the cost of these plants. This is going to be especially interesting for firms that have already filed with the NRC.
"NEI officials estimate the plants to cost $3,200 to $3,500 per kilowatt of capacity—more than double the $1,400 to $1,500 per kilowatt the industry was talking about in 2003. That means each new plant is likely to cost about $5 billion in today's money and $6 billion to $7 billion by the time of completion."
Finally there is a great interview with John Rowe, CEO of Exelon. Just point your browser over there and check it out.
For those of you who want the source documents their links are below.
Smaller may be better at least for starters
Over at the Atomic Insights blog Rod Adams has a post that also comments on the NEI briefing. Rod argues the case that smaller nukes might be a good way for the industry to spread its footprint rather than shooting for the moon with much larger facilities. While he doesn't say which larger reactors are on his mind, he does have an idea about which smaller reactor would work.
It seems logical to wonder, then, why no one - including the vendor - has mentioned that there is an already certified design for a smaller reactor - the Westinghouse AP-600. Presumably, this plant could be built at a substantial discount to the larger units being proposed. In addition to the AP-600, there are a number of other designs at various stages of completion that might lead to an entry level design, one that could allow the industry to develop its expertise in smaller chunks, reducing the risk and increasing the learning, opportunities.
Now this is a guy who has been in the business for a long time, and worked it from an engineering perspective. The PBMR, which is a 200 MW reactor, won't be ready for prime time for at least another few years so Rod's idea about small PWRs might be right on the money.