Lower cost advanced Nuclear power could dominate future US energy

EPRI, the electric utility industry’s R&D collaboration, thinks that advanced nuclear could dominate the US power sector.

EPRI has a detailed analysis of what it would take to fix nuclear energy in the USA. Extensive deployment of advanced nuclear would likely require new policies, innovation in technologies to significantly lower costs, and/or innovation in business models and markets to enable supplemental revenue streams.

If nuclear can be built for $2,000/kW and natural gas prices go as projected, we could have 300GW of nuclear by 2050. The existing 100GW fleet of nuclear plants provides about 20% of US electricity on an annual energy basis. So, 300GW would be 60% of electricity.

If nuclear can be built for $2,000/kW, gas prices go as projected, and there is either any kind of CO2 policy or any additional revenue streams, nuclear will be at least 80% of the power system.

Examples of additional revenue are thermal desalination, combined heat and power, or thermally enhanced hydrogen production.

Korean and Chinese light water nuclear reactors are already in this $2,000/kW price range.

Advanced reactors study A peer-reviewed study in 2017, undertaken by the Energy Innovation Reform Project (EIRP), with data collection and analysis conducted by the Energy Options Network (EON) on its behalf, compiled extensive data from eight advanced nuclear companies that are actively pursuing commercialization of plants of at least 250 MWe in size. Individual reactor units ranged from 48 MWe to 1650 MWe.At the lower end of the potential cost range, these plants could present the lowest cost generation options available, making nuclear power “effectively competitive with any other option for power generation. At the same time, this could enable a significant expansion of the nuclear footprint to the parts of the world that need clean energy the most – and can least afford to pay high price premiums for it.” The companies included in the study were Elysium Industries, GE Hitachi (using only publicly available information), Moltex Energy, NuScale Power, Terrestrial Energy, ThorCon Power, Transatomic Power, and X‐energy. LCOE ranged from $36/MWh to $90/MWh, with an average of $60/MWh.

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