Remote communities, mining and oil/gas production sites, and government facilities are the three most likely customers of remotely-deployed VSMRs.
Canada has over 200,000 people in over 200 remote communities and 80% of energy comes from diesel powered generators, he said. “It’s getting increasingly difficult year by year to bring [diesel] in,” Humphries said.
The ice roads of northern Canada are crucial supply routes for providing fuel and resources to remote communities and mining operations in the winter.
The ice roads were late to freeze this winter and some reports suggested climate change was having an impact on the seasonal cycle. Other fuel transport measures include road train, special flights and ice breaker ships.
“You’re talking up to C$2/kWh [to supply electricity] in those regions,” Humphries said.
Many nuclear vendors are targeting initial Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE) in the range of C$0.30-0.40/kWh with a long-term goal of reducing costs to a level that would compete economically with the cost of power in an urban area, Humphries added.
StarCore Nuclear is developing a 30 MWe high temperature gas nuclear reactor. It is safe, reliable and operated remotely. This makes it ideal for two types of frontier customers in Canada – mines and villages. These customers currently rely on diesel generation and propane, which are expensive and increasingly unreliable due to shrinking ice road capacity. Starcore has identified two dozen mines where they can offer electricity and heat at prices well below the mine’s alternative cost and still be highly profitable. Villages are currently heavily subsidized by governments and utilities. For the larger villages, or those near mines, we can offer retail customers electricity at attractive prices, enable community development, substantially reduce the subsidies, and earn strong profits.
Beyond Canada, there are 1.3 billion people worldwide who have no access to electricity, and another billion relying on expensive diesel generation. Using the experience gained in Canada, we will offer affordable electricity and clean water to customers in this huge market, significantly improving their living standards and health, while earning attractive profits.
This is a new design from Northern Nuclear Industries in Canada, combining a number of features in unique combination. The 100 MWt, 36 MWe reactor has a graphite moderator, TRISO fuel in pebbles, lead (Pb-208) as primary coolant, all as integral pool-type arrangement at near atmospheric pressure. It delivers steam at 370°C, and is also envisaged as an industrial heat plant. The fuel pebbles are in four cells, each with graphite reflectors, and capacity can be increased by adding cells. Shutdown rods are similar to those in CANDU reactors. Passive decay heat removal is by air convection. The company present it as a Gen IV design
LEADIR-PS100 was presented by Ralph Hart at TEAC5 (Thorium Energy Alliance Conference) in May, 2013. Ralph Hart is Northern Nuclear chief engineer.
LEADIR‐PS100 has an output of 100 MWth
• Initial market focus is the Canadian Arctic and Western Canadian Oilsands.
• The small LEADIR‐PS100s, while meeting market demands, will serve as demonstration plants.
• The creep, crawl, walk,run approach is adopted.
• Future LEADIR‐PS reactors may have larger capacity, higher temperature capability, operate on a Thorium fuel cycle.
Comprehensive design requirements focused on safety, economics and minimizing development were defined
which resulted in high level requirements including:
1. Production on a modern assembly line.
2. Capable of remote unattended operation, with 3000MWth minimum operated from a central facility.
3. Have maintenance and refuelling services provided by
specialized crews deployed from central locations.
4. Have security and surveillance provided by existing or modestly enhanced organizations.
5. Facilitate siting within conventional facilities in populated areas (below large parking garages, etc.).
LEADIR-PS is an acronym for LEAD-cooled Integral Reactor-Passively Safe. LEADIR-PS integrates proven technologies including TRISO fuel, Pebble Bed core and graphite moderator, with molten lead coolant in an integral pool type reactor configuration to achieve unprecedented safety and economics. Plants under development are LEADIR-PS100 producing 100 MWth and LEADIR-PS300producing 300 MWth that are focused on serving the energy demands of areas with a small electrical grid and/or process heat applications. A plant consisting of six LEADIR-PS300 reactor modules serving a common turbine-generator, called the LEADIR-PS Six-Pack, is focused on serving areas with higher energy demands and a robust electricity grid.
In response to market requests, LEADIR-PS30 (30 MWth) has been defined, a variation of LEADIR-PS100. Work to date is limited to defining the core.
The Gen IV+ LEADIR-PS plants are inherently/passively safe. There is no potential for a Loss Of Coolant Accident, a reactivity transient without shutdown, or a loss of heat sink. No active systems or operator actions are required to assure safety. The unprecedented safety of LEADIR-PS reactors avoids large exclusion radius and demanding evacuation plan requirements. LEADIR-PS, withsteam conditions of 370°C and 12 MPa can serve over 85% of the world’s non-transportation process heat demands. In Canada, the electricity and process heat demands, ranging from those of remote communities and the oil sands to densely populated areas can be served by LEADIR-PS
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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