Friday, May 31, 2024

"Small modular nuclear reactors get a reality check in new report"

The fact they've been available for over a decade and not enthusiastically deployed hither and yon tells us there's something not quite commercially viable about the little nukes.

From New Atlas, May 31:

A new report has assessed the feasibility of deploying small modular nuclear reactors to meet increasing energy demands around the world. The findings don't look so good for this particular form of energy production.

Small modular nuclear reactors (SMR) are generally defined as nuclear plants that have capacity that tops out at about 300 megawatts, enough to run about 30,000 US homes. According to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), which prepared the report, there are about 80 SMR concepts currently in various stages of development around the world.

While such reactors were once thought to be a solution to the complexity, security risks, and costs of large-scale reactors, the report asks if continuing to pursue these smaller nuclear power plants is a worthwhile endeavor in terms of meeting the demand for more and more energy around the globe.

The answer to this question is pretty much found in the report's title: "Small Modular Reactors: Still Too Expensive, Too Slow, and Too Risky."

If that's not clear enough though, the report's executive summary certainly gets to the heart of their findings.

"The rhetoric from small modular reactor (SMR) advocates is loud and persistent: This time will be different because the cost overruns and schedule delays that have plagued large reactor construction projects will not be repeated with the new designs," says the report. "But the few SMRs that have been built (or have been started) paint a different picture – one that looks startlingly similar to the past. Significant construction delays are still the norm and costs have continued to climb."

Too Expensive
The cost of SMRs is at the forefront of the report's argument against the deployment of the reactors. According to some of the data it provides, all three SMRs currently operating (plus one now being completed in Argentina) went way over budget, as this graph shows....


Here's a post from 2010: "Hyperion to Build Demonstration Nuke the Size of two Hot Tubs for DOE Savannah River Site"

And a different company in November 2023: "Nukes: Small Modular Reactor Co., NuScale, Hit With Investor Lawsuit"

In between there were dozens of stories but not a lot of kilowatts. It took 'til 2022 for this "China Powers Up the World’s First Commercial Onshore Small Modular Nuclear Reactor":

Russia of course has the floating power plant anchored off Pevek 800km northwest of the Bering Strait, and in a pinch the nuclear icebreakers can supply a lot of juice. Additionally Kaz Minerals will be installing four modular nukes to power their giant Siberian copper mine, all links after the jump....

The Do-It-Yourself series had some ideas for our more energetic (so to speak) readers:

News You Can Use: "How to Build a Practical Household Bike Generator" 

Or, should one be more ambitious:

Say Goodbye To Big Tech Deplatforming/Cancellation/Censorship: Host Your Own Blog, Website, etc. 

News You Can Use: "'Collapse OS' Is an Open Source Operating System for the Post-Apocalypse"

Okay, Now That You Have Your Blog or Website Running On Your Own Undeplatformable Servers, It's Time To Consider Building Your Own Internet

Build Your Own Web 

Build Your Own Supercomputer (NVDA) 

Build Your Own Nuclear Power Plant 

 Surviving in Your Doomsday Bunker with Portable Nuclear Power to Spare

News You Can Use: "Aquatic refuges for surviving a global catastrophe"
Panic Rooms? Bunkers? New Zealand hidey-holes? Bond-villain island lairs?
What you want is a nuclear submarine....

News You Can Use: "How to Predict An Alien Invasion" (and how to rebuild the world from scratch)