Nuscale Will Get 25% More From Modular Nuclear Reactors For Breakthrough Economic Value

NuScale used advanced testing and modeling to determine the NuScale Power Module™ (NPM) can generate an additional 25 percent more power per module for a total of 77 MWe per module (gross), resulting in about 924 MWe for the flagship 12-module power plant.

This breakthrough in economic value means that Nuscale modules will be clearly superior to all of the conventional large nuclear reactors and competitive against many natural gas and clean coal alternatives.

The overnight kilowatt cost for Nuscale is expected to drop from $3,600 to approximately $2,850.

For power generation capacity capital costs are often expressed as overnight cost per watt. Estimated costs are:

gas/oil combined cycle power plant – $1000/kW (2019)
onshore wind – $1600/kW (2019)
offshore wind – $6500/kW (2019)
solar PV (fixed) – $1060/kW (utility), $1800/kW (2019)
solar PV (tracking)- $1130/kW (utility) $2000/kW (2019)
battery storage power – $2000/kW (2019)
conventional hydropower – $2680/kW (2019)
geothermal – $2800/kW (2019)
coal (with SO2 and NOx controls)- $3500–3800/kW
advanced nuclear – $6000/kW (2019)
fuel cells – $7200/kW

Clean coal has higher operating costs and higher capital costs. Natural gas has high operating costs. The cost is mainly the constant usage of gas.
Nuscale will have very low nuclear-operating costs and baseload power reliability and the 60-year lifespan of nuclear reactors vs 15-25 years for solar and wind.
Hydropower requires flooding a large area of land and usually requires a river with the right characteristics.

Solar and wind only generate power some of the time and need either battery or natural gas backup. It would be far better for a future clean energy grid to have about 25-50% nuclear power and the rest of the power to be solar and wind with new low-cost batteries at a large scale. Wind would be a far smaller portion and solar will end up continuing to improve efficiency.

This Nuscale breakthrough should enable the US and Europe to update and add nuclear modules starting in 2027 and beyond.

NuScale is announcing options for smaller power plant solutions in four-module (about 308 MWe) and six-module (about 462 MWe) sizes.

Increasing the power generating capacity of a 12-module NuScale small modular reactor (SMR) plant by an additional 25 percent lowers the overnight capital cost of the facility on a per kilowatt basis from an expected $3,600 to approximately $2,850. The scalable, 12-module power plant will now approach a size that makes it a true competitor for the gigawatt-size market.

The increased power output comes without any major changes to the NPM technology.

The four-module small modular reactors (308 MWe) would cost only $878 million.
The six-module small modular reactors (462 MWe) would cost only $1.32 billion.
The twelve-module small modular reactors (924 MWe) would cost only $2.63 billion.

This makes the Nuscale reactors a far better economic value than all of the large generation 3.5 nuclear reactors. The low module costs means that it will be far easier to finance the Nuscale reactors. A utility could fund one 77 MWe for about $250-300 million.

This new solution allows NuScale to support a larger cross-section of customer needs including power for small grids such as for island nations; remote off-grid communities; industrial and government facilities; and coal power replacements that require less power and help customers meet clean air mandates.

The regulatory process of increasing the level of maximum reactor power at which a nuclear plant can operate is referred to as a power uprate. The power increase will be reviewed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission as part of NuScale’s Standard Design Approval (SDA) application, which NuScale is scheduled to submit in 2022.

NuScale’s initial new products will be a four- and six-module power plant solution, although other configurations are possible. These smaller plant solutions are economically competitive and are underpinned by and leverage the industry leading NPM technology and safety case that has already been approved by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Like the flagship NuScale power plant, these smaller configurations will retain the capability to deliver scalable power plant solutions with features, capability and performance not found in other SMRs. NuScale will be able to deliver its first module to a client in 2027.

Other Nuscale Benefits

NuScale design results in lower operational costs for a variety of plant systems.

* Refueling, a significant operational cost, is turned into a routine task instead of a costly every two-year evolution.
* Smaller electric turbine sizes allow for the use of standard workhorse turbines requiring little maintenance.
* Fewer nuclear systems translate into fewer opportunities for equipment to fail and less required maintenance.
* Operations of multiple module sites lead to centralized maintenance and reduced costs.
* Improved reliability cuts downtime and increases unit capacity factors to improve utilization of the plant as a capital asset.

Faster and Lower Risk Construction

Completion of discrete module systems leads to earlier electricity generation as modules can be operating while others are completing their installation.

Reduced site construction time as a result of factory manufacturing and modularization reduces financial risk and lowers financing costs.

Schedule based on 54 months mobilization to mechanical completion; 32 months critical path – first safety concrete to mechanical completion.

SOURCES- Nuscale
Written By Brian Wang,

78 thoughts on “Nuscale Will Get 25% More From Modular Nuclear Reactors For Breakthrough Economic Value”

  1. As near as I have been able to determine they have not generated one neutron. Yet they continue to "upgrade" the original 50MW design. All the prototyping I can find has been done with electric heat sources.

  2. I think the death you are referring to was a person outside who fell because of the tsunami. Not nuclear related. There were also two drowning deaths at the plant. WHO says there has not been, and will not be, any radiation related deaths at Fukushima Daiichi. Just like you correctly point out for TMI. As you also correctly point out, it is only deaths relative to alternative technologies that matter. And for that nuclear's track record is superlative.
    Of course the areas closed for contamination are safety theater. This is why we need to make a detailed, evidenced based plan on how to react to nuclear accidents before they happen. So that a machine that breaks in an otherwise empty room can be treated simply as the loss of capital equipment it is.

  3. If the land isn't been used then it doesn't matter. Nuclear power has a few problems. Its more expensive. Nuclear reactors are inherently unsafe. Nuclear waste is still an unsolved problem. And reprocessing nuclear waste as funny as it is generated even more waste.

    Cats and windows are the number one killers of birds.

  4. "Big Oil" is also "Big Gas". Thanks to fracking you can get gas and oil from the same site.

    In other parts of the world (or Hawaii/Alaska) diesel/gas fuelled power plants are normal. Hawaii generates half their electricity from oil. Remote Alaskan towns are diesel powered.

  5. Happens most winters in New England, when gas is going to domestic heating, and the power plants can't get enough. Will probably happen more often as coal and nuclear baseload plants close.

  6. Oil companies bribed Japanese in 1970 to make an unsafe reactor so that if a tsunami hit 40 years later the plant would be destroyed and oil could provide a bit less than 4% of Japanese electricity.

    Yeah. Sure.

  7. Lotsa Big Oil cash went out in bribes to make sure they looked the other way. Since then Big Oil has been making $100B annually on their investment.

  8. The last 7 Candu's built cost $2.7/watt $2019 avg built in 4 years and less which built by public power would run about 3 cents/kWh running at 95% capacity factor. Lotsa plants in China and Korea running about the same cost and build times and most engineering predictions have costs in that range or lower for the many SMR's in licensing produces once past first of a kind builds.

    Latest wind/solar builds in Alberta are running are $9/watt avg for wind and $12/watt avg for solar over a study time frame.

    Big Oil loves those gas backup sales and spends a lot of cash buying politicians to make sure the lolly keeps flowing. Add 40 cents a kWh to your wind cost to cover gas backup, massive transmission expenditures and surplus dumping and paid by the taxpayer.

  9. "residential rooftop solar is the most expensive way to make power"

    Yes, it largely overlaps the cost of new nuclear. SMRs will be the same way, the most expensive per unit and cheaper because you're building a small number of units.

    As expensive as rooftop solar is, people install it because the cost is small enough you can easily get financing. Not the case with nuclear.
    You can also get financing for PV+Storage, it doesn't need to be the cheapest to get built. Financing allows a lot of overpriced things to be purchased.

  10. And South Africa will be even more broke if they don't have an adequate amount of carbon neutral electricity.

  11. I was pointing out that very thing. 2500 with no mention of Space? Or Space Solar? A glowing example of "small world" thinking. And for both #1 and #2, CHEAP or even profitable.

  12. There are plenty of PPT reactors that fit in all sorts of truck beds. Semi down to a Ranger.

    Issue isn't truck size, it is cost to manufacture, operate compared to power produced.

  13. "rise to be 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit higher in 2500"

    Oh God In Heaven the hubris to project a model that far.

    Dan you need to change you SPS pitch as a win-win:

    win #1: clean solar power
    win #2: sun shade to eliminate effects of global warming

  14. Lots of other countries are putting their money there. UK has an interest in NuScale, just need the FOAK to be done.

  15. According to Lazard, residential rooftop solar is the most expensive way to make power. And operational costs for paid-off nuclear are among the lowest, on a par with combined cycle gas even at North American giveaway gas prices. It's a shame we don't know how to build nukes any more, and can only look at these behemoths built way back in the early eighties like Visigoths gawking at a Roman aqueduct.

  16. Only one person died of excessive radiation exposure at Fukushima, a worker who I believe actually fell into the reactor.

    And meltdowns are always a– remote– possibility with large nuclear reactors. But nuclear power still has the lowest fatality rate of any energ system per kilowatt produced including wind and solar.

    The US had a melt down at Three Mile Island before Chernobyl and Fukushima. But no one died because we use containment structures.

    But it would be physically impossible for a small NuScale reactor to melt down even if it lost all of its coolant.

    But nuclear material is practically everywhere in our society. It powers our submarines and our aircraft carriers. And there's nuclear material at practically every major hospital in America– even though hospitals still have local political problems trying to get rid of their nuclear waste.

  17. A lot of what you propose is very desirable, but you do use the word ' easily ' rather too freely – if it was that easy, it would already be happening. For one thing, to synthesise methanol ( or better, DME ) using nuclear heat, you really need 700C or above, and that's well out of reach of these light water reactors, and also hotter than most actual or proposed sodium, lead, or salt cooled reactors – they tend to be in the range of 450-550 C. Helium would do it, but it will take a lot of development. Nuclear baseload, and maybe then hot salt storage for diurnal peaks, is the low hanging fruit.

  18. The US was broke when the Bay area built the Golden Gate Bridge. Building things that create wealth is how you end poverty.

  19. Well, the main cost is the local (Earth) labor rectennae, 50-80% of the total if you include the collectors on the Moon, so *Earth to Earth power beaming* that balances the rectennae size to be Space Solar ready will have an investment quality. A few redirecting sats and some radars at solar farms and we are going. Hard to imagine the military is not thinking of this for remote bases. This creates a market for solar cells in Space, a very *bright* idea. Please see ppg 12-13 for more:

  20. Levelized Cost of Energy and Levelized Cost of Storage(2020) —Lazard

    Give it time, costs will reduce for storage and increase for traditional on-demand generation.

    I expect SMRs will be cheaper in the same way solar on your rooftop is cheaper than a whole utility scale pv plant.

  21. The barriers are almost never physics, they're usually economic.
    The startup costs were a killer last time I checked, even if launch costs were free.

  22. I doubt very much that the South African build will ever happen. They ran their economy into the ground and now they are really broke.

  23. Its not simply about the cost of land. Its also about the environment. And many communities are reluctant allow so much agricultural and wildlife area to be covered with solar panels or wind turbines. And there are constant environmental battles going on about this.

    But you could easily quadruple nuclear capacity in the US from 100 GWe up to 400 GWe of capacity by simply deploying small nuclear reactors– at existing nuclear sites. The extra capacity could be used for the production of renewable methanol for powering natural gas power plants (replacing natural gas).

    But nuclear power plants don't even have to be on land at all. You could easily deploy small floating nuclear power plants in remote ocean territories to produce carbon neutral methanol that could be shipped by tankers to coastal cities around the world for the carbon neutral production of electricity. The EEZ areas near uninhabited US islands such as Baker, Howland, and Jarvis island and the Palmyra Atoll would be perfect.

    And since seawater is probably going to be the primary source of uranium in the near future, uranium could be extracted from seawater near such floating facilities too.

  24. The Obama-Biden administration were the primary advocates for Space X. In fact, they were constantly trying to take money away from the SLS in order to provide more funding for Commercial Crew development– which really angered both Democrats and Republicans in Congress. That's why Biden took full credit when Space X finally launched their first crew into orbit.

    There was support for developing small nuclear reactors during the Obama administration and I expect that to continue.

    The Federal government owns its own electric power utility (The TVA). So it needs to set a good example for private utilities by having the TVA go completely carbon neutral. And that could easily be done by increasing the nuclear capacity at the TVA's three nuclear sites up to 8 Gwe at each site using the new generation of small inherently safe nuclear reactors. Most of the extra capacity could be used to produce methanol as a carbon neutral fuel replacement for natural gas electric power plants. Methanol can also be converted into gasoline, jet fuel, and dimethy ether (a diesel fuel substitute).

    Financing the nuclear build could be done by selling off the TVA's coal power plants. But they should keep their natural gas power plants and simply convert them to use renewable methanol.

  25. It'll be abandoned. Maybe they'll be used as movie sets – like they used the Cherokee Nuclear Power Plant in Gaffney, SC for the movie 'The Abyss'.

    Nuclear is icky, after all. /sarc

  26. You think Biden will have a choice? Haven't you figured out yet that what they SAY isn't going to match up with what they'll DO? And it'll be President Harris soon enough. She'll be laughing hard when she announces that to save money they're cutting all sorts of programs that Evil Trump started.

    Nuclear power will be delayed through lengthy legal battles. SpaceX will likely get defunded. No more fracking – so gas prices will go up.

    AOC will save the planet – even if it kills the country's economy.

  27. The Japanese regulators were supposed to make sure it was an impossibility as well. They failed utterly. So it isn't a surprise that voters don't trust that regulators are actually competent at their job, especially in earthquake prone areas.

  28. Two weak strawmen.
    Cost is king. Land is like $10,000 an acre in the USA if it is like an hour drive away from urban areas. So the square mile a nuclear power plant uses is worth maybe $10 million . 2600 square meters at just under 40% coverage in solar and 20 percent panels gives peak of 200Wx1000=200MWe. At like $0.80 per nameplate watt that project is $160 million.
    The land cost isn't a concern.
    Now compare that to a 2.6GWe nuclear plant at $7 a watt. $18,200 million and $10 million for land.
    Llifespan isn't as valuable as you seem to think if you understand the discount rate (aka opportunity cost). Money earned 12 years from now is worth half of money earned now. Just compare what you could have made by investing that money 48 years ago in the S&P 500. So money earned 48 years from now is 1/16th of the value of money earned right now.

  29. The NRC is not a global agency, so your supposition shouldn't apply to other nations. I don't see nuclear doing particularly well anywhere across the globe.

  30. Just saw "The model suggests that even if emissions were to drop to zero this
    year, global temperatures would ultimately rise to be 5.4 degrees
    Fahrenheit higher in 2500 than they were in 1850 (that's 3 degrees
    Celsius)." The answer? CO2 sequestration. No mention of Space, or Space Solar. 2500. Should we tell them about it?

  31. "…to make about one sixtieth as much power…"

    To be fair, a wind turbine also costs slightly less than the Nuscale.

  32. It should also be noted that a melt down would have been– impossible– with a NuScale reactor since loss of coolant can't cause the the fuel to melt. That's part of the reason that they build them so small. So NuScale reactors are inherently safe.

  33. Of course, the reactor at Chernobyl had no containment structure so they were asking for trouble. Now Russians build their reactors with two containment structures. US reactors always have containment structures.

    And animal and plant life is flourishing around Chernobyl.

    But renewable energy has nuclear beat when it comes to disasters. China's Banqiao dam disaster back in 1975 is estimated to have killed between 85,000 to 240,000 people. Although China's official figure is only 26,000 deaths. It is estimated that nearly 6 million buildings collapsed during the flooding of the dam effecting 11 million residents. The Discovery Channel rated the Banqiao disaster as the greatest technological catastrophe ever to occur on Earth.

  34. I think Biden would look pretty stupid trying to fight climate change by halting the building climate change fighting reactors. And even AOC (Miss Green Deal) had no objections to nuclear power in an interview.

  35. Fukushima and Chernobyl are pretty land intensive, as in , all that land is intensively contaminated and is off the table and gone to us for use for a very long time.

  36. Just stop with the cheerleading nuc articles. It is a money issue, and no one is putting their money there. Alternatives are cheaper, have better returns and less risk.

  37. There are always easier ways to make money. Tree hugging and job killing regulations always gets the blame, but economics and poor engineering competence has killed nuclear in America.

    "With sharp cost reductions over the past decade, solar PV is consistently cheaper than new coal- or gasfired power plants in most countries, and solar projects now offer some of the lowest cost electricity ever seen." —World Energy Outlook 2020

    Solve storage and it's all over.

  38. If we get a “new” administration then we sure won’t get a single new nuclear plant. Nuclear isn’t part of wind-solar GND Unicorn.

  39. Both wind and solar and wind are extremely land intensive and require fossil fuels as back up power. A wind facility requires more than 300 times as much land area to produce the equivalent amount of power as a nuclear power plant.

    Wind and solar also produce power only half as long as nuclear power plants do. Nuclear power plants can operate at least 60 years and probably a lot longer.

    Solar panels produce at least 300 times as much toxic waste as nuclear power plants do per kilowatt produced. And if spent fuel is recycled from nuclear facilities then solar panels produce 9000 to 18,000 times as much toxic waste as nuclear power plants would.

    Wind power, of course, is deleterious to bats and predatory birds (the rarest of birds).

  40. In the picture we see a modular reactor on a really huge flatbed. I'd be very much in favor of any efforts toward making it about 1/4 that size. Something that could be put on a regular sized truck bed, rather than something you'd need to move a double-wide mobil home.

  41. Doosan in South Korea is the only partner I know of to build them. So parts of US origin will be some but I doubt more than a smallish minority.

  42. Land solar takes land, needs cells that are rugged. Rectennae can be farmed under, cells on Moon 1/10th as thick as tissue paper. These are easy facts, should know before talking about Space Solar. I already gave the site.

  43. Voting on comments suggests that pixie dust is more real than space solar 🙂
    So much easier and cheaper to build land solar than build space solar and gazillion hectare microwave receiver.

  44. Solar and wind power boosters usually quote Bloomberg New Energy Finance, as the arbiters of what LCOE is. Since BNEF makes a lot of its money by arranging finance for these projects, I don't give them much credence. They used to list 'dispatchable' ( fossil, nuclear, hydro, geothermal ) and 'non dispatchable' ( wind, solar, tidal ) sources separately, with a warning that direct comparisons were invalid. Now they just have a footnote saying 'These power sources may be completely useless for much of the time' ( I'm paraphrasing here.)

  45. The DOE will be testing a 12 module NuScale facility at the Idaho National Laboratory. It would be nice if they used that power to test the production of synthetic fuels like methanol that can easily be converted into gasoline and jet fuel.

    Nuscale is also supposed to build a 2500 MWe electric facility in South Africa.

    If I were the new administration, I'd order the TVA to agree to purchase NuScale units for at least 5,000 MWe of additional power at one of the TVA's nuclear sites for off site eMethanol production (a few miles away).

    I'd use the eMethanol to power some of the TVA's natural gas electric power plants. Its relatively cheap to modify natural gas electric power plants to use methanol. And methanol produces electricity more efficiently than natural gas. I'd also recycle the CO2 from the eMethanol power plants to produce more methanol. This would make the system somewhat– carbon negative.

  46. We really need to move beyond PowerPoint projects. These days we've got VR, so we can show vaporware in animated, ray-traced 3D!

  47. Agreed, "overnight cost" is a horrible way to compare diverse power plants. At minimum one should roll in average capacity factors by using "overnight cost per kWhr". (Using overnight cost/kW hands a huge [about 5x] advantage to PV solar, due to its very low capacity factor.) But LCOE makes far more sense, if done fairly.

  48. Like nuscale, this doesn't actually exist.

    As has been observed many times, comparing paper reactors (powerpoint these days) to real reactors, the paper reactors are always going to be much cheapers, faster, simpler and safer than the real ones.

    (See also, powerpoint anything vs the real alternatives. How much do you think the US invasion of Iraq cost when it was just a set of powerpoint slides? )

  49. Comparing "overnight costs" (Overnight costs refer to the cost of constructing the power plant if no interest rates were incurred during the construction process.) is handing a big unrealistic advantage to nuclear plants.

    Because one of the biggest issues with nukes is that politics and regulation means that they will always take years and years to build, assuming that no political dispute delays the project mid stream for even more years, or even decades.

    So the ratio of "actual cost" to "overnight cost" is much higher for nukes than other power plants. I think hydro is pretty high too.

    Comparing "actual cost" would make nukes look a lot worse than "overnight cost".

  50. If the reactors are walk away safe then the tight regulation would not be necessary. But do note fossil power plants have to be inspected daily and maintained often because there are a lot of complex operating equipment that run under very difficult conditions. Fossil power plant undergo major refurbishment ever twenty years or so.

  51. Just note that not only are wind and solar cheap in terms of capital but since they require little maintenance and no fuel are dirt cheap to operate. A fossil fuel and nuclear power plants must be manned and must be inspected daily and maintained often.

  52. Do they have a working prototype? If they haven't, they are at least twenty years from delivering a production unit. Have they installed a single reactor into a production power plant? Until they do this is nothing but hype.

  53. This and every other reactor in the US has extremely high fixed O&M costs because of suffocating NRC regulations.

    No power plant that requires a 24/7 military-style security force and an army of hundreds of compliance paper-pushers has a chance of being economically viable.

    Nuclear power has a regulator problem. Technical innovation that doesn't address this problem is pointless.

    The Natrium reactor is attempting to minimize the harm done by the NRC by separating the power plant from the nuclear island. Hopefully they can also find a way to avoid the militia requirement.

  54. "Solar and wind only generate power some of the time and need either
    battery or natural gas backup. It would be far better for a future clean
    energy grid to have about 25-50% nuclear power and the rest of the
    power to be solar and wind with new low-cost batteries at a large scale.
    Wind would be a far smaller portion and solar will end up continuing to
    improve efficiency." Of course, if you throw in Space Solar and power beaming, you get an entirely different result.

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