Discover more from Christmas Corp
Chronicle - Nov 12, 2023
Nuclear Renaissance Wannabe
Will there be a nuclear renaissance in the United States? Hardly. Especially if new nuclear projects are constantly harassed.
How the First U.S. Advanced Reactor Was Cancelled
Last week, NuScale’s small modular reactor (SMR) project in Idaho, Utah was cancelled. This is the first advanced nuclear reactor that got licensed from Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in the U.S.
In November 2014, the project was originally announced. It was designed for the Utah Associated Municipal Power System (UAMPS), which delivers power to utilities in many states. The NRC received the reactor design certification application in March 2018, and it was approved by July 2022. However, both UAMPS and NuScale abandoned the initiative last week, citing rising development costs.
The development costs did, in fact, skyrocket. The 462 MW reactor was initially anticipated to cost roughly $5.3 billion. However, it has been reported that the estimated expenses have risen to $9.3 billion. This includes a $1.4 billion subsidy from the Department of Energy.
Furthermore, UAMPS stated that the following costs are to blame: manufactured steel plate increased by 54%, carbon steel piping increased by 106%, electrical equipment increased by 25%, fabricated structural steel increased by 70%, and copper wire increased by 32%. In addition, loan rates for the project have risen by 200 basis points during the last three years.
Other factors, however, are not addressed. For example, throughout the planning stage, the project underwent numerous design changes, NRC licensing, construction testing, and other activities that caused schedule delays. The NRC licensing process alone has cost over $500 million!
To put this $9.3 billions reactor into context, let’s compare with China’s.
China is the first country to operate a tiny modular reactor. After nine years of construction, its 200 MW power plant in Shidao Bay came online in December 2020. Other power plants are under development at Shidao Bay, with a total power generation capacity of 3.2 GW. The overall amount of investment is estimated to reach $15.7 billion.
So, China can build 3.2 GW with expected costs of $15.7 billions, while the Utah’s SMR will cost $9.3 billions for 462 MW. It’s 4x more expensive to build advanced reactor in the U.S. than in China. And it was cancelled anyway.
What makes such a huge difference in the costs? Better designs? Or more efficient regulators?
How to Subtly Keep the Nuclear Power Plant Moratorium
The Utah case may spark ideas to keep the nuclear renaissance in check.
Last week, the Illinois Senate approved lifting a 36-year-old moratorium on new nuclear plants. But there is a catch.
The bipartisan legislation to lift the moratorium was originally intended as it is: lifting the moratorium. However, Democratic Governor Pritzker vetoed it, citing the problem of nuclear waste disposal.
The senate then proposed a tweaked legislation: lifting the nuclear plant moratorium, but only allowing small modular reactors to be built, and capped the output at 300 MW per reactor. Moreover, the reactors are only allowed to supply power to factories, not to the power grid. Both the Senate and the Governor approved it.
If the cost of building a small modular reactor in the U.S. could reach $9.3 billion, what kind of factories can afford it?
PAPL 0.00%↑ Pineapple Financial Inc. is a Canadian-based mortgage technology and brokerage company that provides mortgage brokerage services and technology solutions to Canadian mortgage agents, brokers, sub-brokers, brokerages and consumers.
LXEO 0.00%↑ Lexeo Therapeutics, Inc. is a clinical stage genetic medicine company dedicated to transforming healthcare by applying pioneering science to fundamentally change how genetically defined cardiovascular diseases and APOE4-associated Alzheimer’s disease are treated. APOE4 gene is the primary genetic risk factor for sporadic Alzheimer's disease.
GVH 0.00%↑ Globavend Holdings Ltd is a holding company incorporated in the Cayman Islands with operations conducted by a Hong Kong subsidiary, Globavend HK, an emerging e-commerce logistics provider offering end-to-end logistics solution in Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand.
ANSCU 0.00%↑ Agriculture & Natural Solutions Acquisition Corp, a blank check company incorporated as a Cayman Islands exempted company and formed for the purpose of effecting a merger, share exchange, asset acquisition, share purchase, or similar business combination. It intends to identify, acquire and build a company whose principal effort is developing and advancing a platform that decarbonizes the traditional agriculture sector and enhances natural capital at scale.
AITRU 0.00%↑ AI Transportation Acquisition Corp, a newly organized blank check company incorporated as a Cayman Islands exempted company. It intends to focus its search for a target business in the AI transportation industry, specifically focused on logistics, new energy vehicles, smart parking, on-board chips, AI algorithms, automotive services, and other types of “intelligent transportation”.
Thanks for reading Christmas Corp! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support our work.