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,