The Biden administration is expected to continue the bipartisan strategy of accelerating the export of U.S. nuclear energy technology to overseas markets. Forbes reports that small modular reactors (SMRs) could hold the key for export success.
In the Forbes INTERVIEW, IP3 and Allied Nuclear CEO Michael Hewitt said the future of nuclear energy development is SMRs:
“I think the days of building large nuclear power plants are really in the past. Hitachi walked away from a major UK power plant project after spending $2 billion. Where does that leave us? SMRs.”
A subsidiary of IP3, Allied Nuclear advises governments in procuring nuclear technology and tailored financing; and with starting national nuclear energy programs.
“Once they’re at production, they can compete internationally,” Hewitt said of SMRs.
“Instead of constructing [SMRs], you’re assembling [them on site in country],” Hewitt said. “It’s a repetitive model” that gives investors a better handle on cost and cost overruns, he said.
The advent of SMRs opens up new market opportunities at home and abroad for nuclear energy developers. SMRs offer unique, tailor-made solutions to countries’ energy needs while cutting construction costs. As a cheaper, smaller and scalable alternative to larger light water reactors, SMRs also help sovereign governments avoid falling for the lure of “debt-trap” boondoggles built by Russia and China.
SMRs take center stage in MIT study
New analysis from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers confirm that SMRs cut costs and avoid construction delays associated with larger reactor types, including excess costs “caused by the need to make last-minute design changes based on particular conditions at the construction site or other local circumstances.”
SMRs promise to significantly lower construction costs of nuclear builds by allowing components or the entirety of a nuclear power plant to be built offsite under controlled factory conditions. These factory-built, prefabricated and self-contained SMRs could be then trucked in and delivered to their final site with the fuel already loaded.
“Numerous such plants could be ganged together to provide output comparable to that of larger plants, or they could be distributed more widely to reduce the need for long-distance transmission of the power,” MIT said.
“We need to build reactors like airplanes, not just for cost, but for financing and ramping human resources,” said Andrew Paterson, principal at Environmental Business International and a former senior advisor to the U.S. Department of Energy.
“You can never achieve progress on cost by building one here, one there. If we stay with the giant more than $20 billion plants and stick with building reactors onsite, the U.S. will be condemned to another 20 years of tinkering.”
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