Nuscale refutes smr critics local gas leak in car


At today’s natural gas prices (which will be here for some many years), there is no way you can justify to the ratepayers the vastly higher costs of the SMR when viewed in the competitive arena of the US power market. You’d have to be stark raving made to even try it. Ten years down the road, might be different.

Strikes me that a weak-link in the NuScale design is the assumption that the pool of water the reactor vessel sits in will always be there or at least will only be slowly depleted. Related to that is what happens if the vessel catastrophically fails? Please note: these are pretty remote events. I suspect the folks in Japan thought a tsunami would not cause several reactors to melt down nor did the Russians ever imagine one of their reactors would ever blow-up. The point is, perhaps the NuScale design needs some form of mostly passive backup (e.g. large geo-tech membrane lined pond adjacent to the plant) in their back-pocket to deal with the completely unanticipated and unforeseen rapid loss of water in the pool the vessel sits-in. Better-to-have-and-not-need than need-and-not-have (old Kansas farmer observation).

@ Keller. Yes, a combustion turbine could be installed quite quickly and for a few months would produce less expensive electricity IF the need for the electricity was in a place where a NG pipeline happen to be installed. For most of the retiring coal plants this is not the case. For the Islands in the Pacific this is not the case. For Cities in Alaska this is not the case.

You would not be stark raving made to try to replace 60 year old coal plants with new nuclear plants. The "low" price of NG is only where the pipes can reach and only a temporary situation. When the price is lower than the cost of extraction the price is sure to rise! Which is the case today.

45 MW is enough to power many small communities up to 30,000 people. It can power fairly large factories. The cost of fuel will be constant and once the plant is paid for the cost of electricity from the plant will be very inexpensive. Is it wrong to install a plant that will give a steady cost for electric for decades to come or to install a plant that will give a constantly varying cost over it’s whole life? Look at the spot prices in Vermont!

Also, your assumption that the pool could fail catastrophically is not reasonable with the level of engineering that has to go into these sites. Fukushima failed slowly and with enough time for people to react to the slowly changing situation. With all the natural destruction around there was still NO ONE KILLED. No one will be killed. The protection systems work correctly and are working correctly.

Natural gas pipelines are extensive and are generally not that far away from coal plants. A 45 megawatt replacement (or more likely a number of modules) for a coal plant simply cannot compete with the installed cost of a new combined-cycle power plant. That is precisely why so many combined-cycle power plants are being built (including to replace retiring coal plants).

If one wanted to power a factory, put in a small co-generation gas turbine – which is frequently done. The capital cost of an SMR could not possibly be a good business decision because the return on the investment is extremely poor (likely non-existent).

A combination of renewable power and diesel engine power plants is a better fit for islands. If you live in remote parts of Alaska (which means not much population), a small nuclear power plant could never be cost effective (how do the small number of people ever afford it?).

As to the lads in Vermont, there are vast amounts of power (particularly hydro-electric) right over the border in Canada. Incidentally, New York state has vast amounts of shale gas which will be tapped as the financial health of the state continues to deteriorate.