In 2008, I had made an analysis of what it would take to get mainstream nuclear fission to the cost level of about 1.3-1.7 cents per kwh (including construction costs)
$1000/kw capital costs, 2 year construction, 80 year life, reduced fuel costs 2 cents/kwh for new construction, plus less waste handling with deep burn. I believe this will achievable in China and possibly with Russian reactors (with capital costs of about $1400-1600 per kw now). The faster two year construction times are coming.
Volume Improved Nuclear estimate 1 Fuel 2.0 (laser enrichment, 50% uprate) 2 Operating & Maint - Labor&Materials 2.0 (automation, improved designs) 3 Pensions, Insurance, Taxes 1.0 4 Regulatory Fees 1.0 5 Property Taxes 2.0 6 Capital 7.0 (loan guarantees,factories, high volume, longer 80 year operation so more amortization) 7 Decommissioning & DOE waste costs 1.0 (Deep burn the waste, more time until decommissioning with longer life,more time for interest to build for decommissioning fund) 8 Administrative / overheads 1.0 Total 17.0 equal to 1.7 cents per kwh
100-120 year lifespans for nuclear plants and reducing construction times to 1 year would further lower costs.
Major Redisign Improvements for Nuclear fission estimate 1 Fuel 0.2 (deep burn and reactors designed without the need for enrichment) 2 Operating & Maint - Labor&Materials 0.5 (automation, improved designs) 3 Pensions, Insurance, Taxes 1.0 4 Regulatory Fees 1.0 5 Property Taxes 2.0 6 Capital 3.5 (loan guarantees,factories, high volume, longer 80 year operation so more amortization) 7 Decommissioning & DOE waste costs 0.5 (Deep burn the waste, more time until decommissioning with longer life,more time for interest to build for decommissioning fund) 8 Administrative / overheads 1.0 Total 9.7 equal to 0.97 cents per kwh
One of my many articles that detail nuclear fusion technology discusses the potential for breakthroughs in energy costs from the most promising nuclear fusion projects.
The World Nuclear Association has breakdowns on the economics of existing nuclear fission reactors. The price per Kwh is about 3.4-7 cents
Cost breakdown nuclear fission
A big factor is interest rates and the time for construction. Longer time to construct means longer time before revenue while carrying the costs of building. Then there is the factor of how long the plant lasts. 60+ year life means more time to spread out the construction costs. A 5 year build with 60 year life gets down to 3.4 cents.
At 45,000 MWd/t burn-up this gives 360,000 kWh electrical per kg, hence fuel cost: 0.71 c/kWh.
Enriched fuel prices could be cut in half by using laser enrichment. GE is making such a plant with scheduled 2012 opening.
Burnup can go up 20 times (various kinds of breeder reactors – like the liquid fluoride reactor that others have told you previously to investigate. 900,000+ MWD/t is possible). If burnup goes up then more KWH per kg and lower cents per KWh.
China is looking to factory mass produce pebble bed reactors with 2 year or less construction times. Walkaway safe from meltdown because they will not exceed 600 MW thermal power per module using the pebble bed system.
Higher temps mean easier use of “waste heat” for industrial purposes (co-generation). Idaho national labs has achieved 19% burnup of pebbles. Up to 65% burnup is possible with more highly enriched pebbles. Better electricity conversion efficiency is possible with higher temps. China plans to build them by the dozen and share a control center and upgrade to the higher temps, higher burnup, more efficient Brayton cycle turbines later. By their 300th reactor module they will be quite advanced.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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