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construction are AP1000 reactors. Another Generation III+ plant that is under review in the US is the Economic Simpli- fied Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) from General Electric Hitachi Nuclear Energy.


Generation IV and SMRs Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) may be the next step in


the evolution of NPPs to Generation IV. Rather than building a single reactor capable of delivering a 1000 MWe or more, SMRs are much smaller units of 45–300 MWe that can be combined like basic building blocks to produce larger power stations. A real paradigm shiſt is that instead of being constructed on-site, basic reactor units are built in a factory and shipped where needed. For example, the SMR designed by NuScale is 80 × 15' (24.4 × 4.6 m) and weighs 650 tons (590 t). Tis means it can be shipped by truck or train to its site. “With SMRs, we have an opportunity to shiſt the paradigm of how we build NPPs; we can start to use the word ‘manufactured’ in the same sentence,” said Tokuhiro. Another advantage of SMRs is that they open up smaller electricity markets that may not have the economics to support the current NPP designs. Power plants can be built incrementally as demand increases, rather than starting with a single large plant with a great deal of risk attached. Increased safety is a major feature of many of the designs.


For example, the NuScale SMR, according to the company, can safely shut down and self-cool with no AC or DC power, no additional water, and no operator action. With simple design and economies of scale from a “factory-built” philosophy, NuScale is advertising construction costs of less than $5000 per kW installed. In December 2013, the US Department of Energy (DOE) awarded NuScale up to $226M over 5 years in a cooperative development program for SMRs, according to a company press release.


Adoption and Risk Developing new, groundbreaking technology is one


thing. Adoption is another. “We are in a period of financial conservatism,” explained Paul Murphy special counsel for Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP. He is a specialist in nuclear power development and financing. Tis conservatism is a result of many factors: the effects of the global financial crisis that started in 2008, Eurozone troubles, the coming of Basel III banking reserve requirements, and the heightened sense of project risk in the wake of Fukushima. Other issues he pointed out that negatively affect nuclear power adop- tion in general include both heavy governmental subsidies for renewables like solar and wind, as well as cheap natural gas in North America, which have had distorting impacts (especially, subsidized renewables) in deregulated markets. He also stressed that the high cost and long development and construction cycles of the Gen III and III+ designs in excess of 1000 MWe present particular challenges for debt


The AP1000 is a pressurized water reactor that is smaller and less complicated than previous generations of NPPs.


financing, given the history of nuclear power projects not being delivered on time and on budget. “SMRs have the potential to solve some of these key


issues,” said Murphy. “In particular they should be much faster to build, cost less—in the aggregate—and provide upgrade scalability, which can enhance financing options as well. Te downside of SMRs is their newness—nobody wants to buy the first of anything,” he said, stressing the need for government support for development, licensing, and a reference plant. For those considering SMRs as an export item from the US, there are also a host of other considerations in countries that may be adopting nuclear power for the first time. How will SMRs be successful? “Te first-mover will have


the advantage,” he answered, referring to whoever gets their design licensed and successfully built into a working plant for reference and demonstration. An existing plant means there are verified cost and delivery models, crucial in convincing skeptical investors. In the case of NuPower’s SMRs, Energy Northwest announced in December 2013 that it along with Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) entered into a teaming arrangement in an initiative to promote a commercial, small modular reactor project in the western US. Energy Northwest holds first rights to operate the project. However, showing some of the risks in the developing


SMR market, one key player in SMRs is drastically scaling back its work. According to the World Nuclear Association (WNA), in January 2014 Westinghouse announced that it was suspending work on its small modular reactors. Te WNA reported that Westinghouse said that it could not justify the economics of its SMR without government subsidies. Westinghouse did not receive funds from the US DoE program that supported NuScale.


Energy Manufacturing 2014 19


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