Global nuclear expansion now – dozens of countries



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Plan

The United States federal government should provide initial funding for integral fast reactors using the S-PRISM design in the United States.




Solvency

Initial funding solves investor confidence and creates rapid deployment


Lovering 12 [Jessica Lovering is a policy analyst, and Max Luke is a policy associate, in the Breakthrough Institute’s Energy & Climate program. Barry Brook is a Breakthrough Senior Fellow, November 16, 2012, “How U.S.-European Cooperation Can Deliver Cheaper, Safer Nuclear Energy”, Breakthrough Institute]
Advanced nuclear technologies and small modular reactors (SMRs) are being actively researched and designed, particularly in nations where governments recognize the strategic necessity of nuclear energy in the future energy mix – China, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, and others. Further research is required to understand how governments can best advance next generation nuclear designs, but many of the policies that have helped renewable technologies succeed – federally backed loan guarantees, feed-in tariffs, access to public lands for demonstration projects, and others – show signs of promise. Yet the initial development and deployment of advanced nuclear, which is required to give confidence to commercial utilities to build these at a large scale, is not occurring fast enough. It is time that the United States and European countries recognize advanced nuclear as a potentially crucial component of a clean-energy transition. Without the rapid deployment of nuclear power, our energy needs will probably continue to be met predominately by fossil fuels, and the oft-cited 2°C global warming target will almost certainly not be met.

Plan’s mechanism results in successful commercial demonstration


Kirsch et all 9 [Steve Kirsch, Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “The Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) project: Q&A”, collaborative attempt to answer questions regarding the integral fast reactor, contribution material, peer editing and review by George Stanford, PhD, a physicist, retired from Argonne National Laboratory, B.Sc. with Honours, Acadia University, M.A.,Wesleyan University, Ph.D. in experimental nuclear physics, Yale University, Tom Blees, Science Council for Global Initiatives, Carl Page, computer science professor at MSU, page last modified 2013]
Q. What's the next step?The commercial demonstration should be a top national priority. A private consortium involving GE might be able to do it as well. Ideally, Congress should fund DOE to have GE build a demonstration plant built. In order to expedite certification and licensing by the NRC, the most expeditious way would be to build a reactor vessel for $50 million, stick it at a university or national lab, and instead of filling it with sodium fill it with water. Build a mockup of the fuel assemblies, also out of non-radioactive material, and use that setup-which would require no licensing-as a prototype to demonstrate to the NRC the efficacy of the systems. For example, the NRC would say, what happens if you drop a fuel assembly when refueling. So you'd go over and run through it with the prototype. Once the thing is certified, you could drain it and use it in an actual power plant, where a single module would produce 380 MWe. They're designed to be built in power blocks of 2 reactor vessels each, feeding one large turbine that would put out 760 MW. You could fire up the first power block as soon as it's ready, even as you build further ones at the same facility. All would share a central control room and recycling facility.

That facilitates global expansion of the IFR


Kirsch et all 9 [Steve Kirsch, Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “The Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) project: Q&A”, collaborative attempt to answer questions regarding the integral fast reactor, contribution material, peer editing and review by George Stanford, PhD, a physicist, retired from Argonne National Laboratory, B.Sc. with Honours, Acadia University, M.A.,Wesleyan University, Ph.D. in experimental nuclear physics, Yale University, Tom Blees, Science Council for Global Initiatives, Carl Page, computer science professor at MSU, page last modified 2013]
Q. If this is really so good, how come GE isn't building S-PRISM on their own nickelNobody wants to risk it since it isn't a slam dunk. You don't get a reward if you solve global warming. And government funding doesn't seem to be so easy. DOE tried to get funding for GNEP (which included IFR technology) and got shot down (so far).¶ GE is a large conservative corporation. They already service a fleet of lightwater reactors, are building more of them around the world, and have the promise of yet more. It's hard enough in this country to move into new levels of reactor technology without trying to leapfrog straight into the 4th generation. Their 3rd generation ESBWR is in the 5th round of NRC certification, whereas the S-PRISM (a souped up and more developed version of the PRISM) isn't at the starting gate. These things take years at the glacial pace of the NRC, though of course if President Obama decided to go all Manhattan project on it we could most definitely get there quickly enough. If GE started pushing 4th generation breeder reactors, can you imagine the hue and cry from the antie groups? What's their incentive to do that? If they're convinced that ultimately we'll end up at 4th generation reactors anyway and they can make plenty of dough and keep a low profile just taking the go slow approach, don't you imagine that's exactly what they'll do? Besides, conceivably another country with whom we have nuclear technology sharing agreements might very well certify and build it before the NRC ever gets out of the starting gate, which would make it much easier for the eventual NRC certification.¶ Q. If this is really so good, how come someone in government isn't trying to get it restarted?¶ The DOE is attempting to resuscitate fast-reactor technology, as part of the GNEP (Global Nuclear Energy Partnership) initiative. See¶ http://www.gnep.energy.gov/gnepPRs/gnepPR011007.html, and http://www.gnep.energy.gov/.¶ The IFR is one form of fast-reactor technology (metallic fuel with pyroprocessing), but there are others -- inferior, according to the IFR scientists. The important thing these days is to get the U.S. back into a leadership role in the development and management of nuclear power, recognizing that recycling in fast reactors is necessary if the long-lived waste is to be consumed, and if the full energy potential of the uranium is to be exploited. The GNEP would resuscitate fast-reactor technology in this country.¶ Q. Critics claim fast reactors are “expensive to build, complex to operate, susceptible to prolonged shutdown as a result of even minor malfunctions, and difficult and time-consuming to repair.”¶ I'm not aware of anyone who is an expert on Integral Fast Reactor technology (who actually really understands the science) who has this view. One Nobel prize winning physicist who was recently briefed on the IFR (Burton Richter, former Director of SLAC) told me that, at best, there is insufficient scientific evidence to make such a statement. Is there someone who knows the fast reactor science as well as Dr. Chang or Dr. Till who holds that view? Certainly not the MIT study (as they admitted up front). So whose expert opinion are you relying on here?¶ Secondly, if your statement was true, then aren't these statements directly in direct conflict with the facts? If the critics are to be relied upon, then none of the following would have been possible at all:¶ – The Monju reactor was undamaged by the fire (rated 1 on a scale of 0 to 7, with 7 being the most serious accident), and has been kept shut down for political reasons. I think it has been given the go-ahead to start up.The EBR-II fast reactor worked flawlessly for many years (http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf98.html 31 years from 1963-1994)¶ – The Phenix fast reactor in France has been on-line for decades.¶ – The Superphenix reactor was shut down for political reasons, after it finally had its problems behind it and was working well.¶ – The Russian BN-600 has been working well for decades.¶ Ray Hunter was for the past 29 years as the former Deputy Director of the Office of Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Should his view count? Here's what he wrote to me:¶ My name is Ray Hunter. I am the former Deputy Director of the Office of Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). I spent more than 29 years in DOE and the predecessor agencies working on developing advanced nuclear reactors for civilian nuclear power applications. After evaluating several alternatives, I came to the conclusion that a sodium cooled fast reactor using metal fuel and non aqueous reprocessing offered the best option to compliment and eventually replace Light Water Reactors (LWR’s). The basis for my conclusion was the successful proof of principle demonstration work completed by Argonne National Laboratory. It is important to understand that there were had two versions of the IFR concept; the second version involved a sodium cooled reactor using mixed uranium oxide and plutonium oxide fuel and aqueous reprocessing. The second version required separating Plutonium-239 for fabrication into new fuel which was considered to be a major proliferation issue. Unfortunately, the Clinton administration considered all fast reactors concepts as too much of a proliferation risk and cancelled all work on fast reactors. Actually, the decision to forgo processing of LWR fuel as enacted into law by 1982 Radioactive Waste Management Policy Act was the precursor for ending fast reactor technology development. The Department did continue to support in corporation with industry advanced LWR designs for future use. These advanced designs have been approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commissions but none have been ordered in the U.S. because of the unresolved waste issue and the economic risk of trying to build and license a nuclear power plant in the U.S. Versions of these advanced LWR designs have already been built and are operating in Japan and South Korea.¶ The ill conceived U.S. policy of a once through LWR fuel cycle has never been adopted by any other nuclear power nation. According to Senator Reid, Yucca Mountain will not proceed as long as his any say in the matter. Until there is a path forward on LWR spent fuel, it is unlikely any new nuclear plant will be built in the U.S. The technical facts clearly show that the most cost effective and environmentally sound way to deal with LWR spent fuel is use the IFR concept with metal fuel and non aqueous reprocessing. While the proposed GNEP concept does not require plutonium separation, it is still based on oxide fuel and aqueous reprocessing which does allay proliferation concerns. Also, the GNEP concept is being offered as global solution for minimizing nuclear proliferation based on certain countries doing reprocessing including the U.S. but our current law precludes it. ¶ I am attaching a recent letter I sent to Senator Reid. In my judgment, we need to focus on the waste issue to break the logjam on nuclear power in the U.S. We don’t need to deploy the IFR in the private sector for the foreseeable future to get the benefits of expanded nuclear power use. If inviting the IAEA to oversee IFR facilities at government sites would promote acceptance of reprocessing, then we should proceed accordingly. Any thoughts you have on this matter would be appreciated.¶ Q. A lot of critics claim the plants will be too expensive to build.¶ The cost of a power plant is often expressed in terms of dollars per kilowatt of capacity. Every $1,000/kWe in initial cost adds, very roughly, one cent per kilowatt-hour to the cost of the electricity (assuming a 40-year write-off period and an interest rate of 8.5% per year).¶ The cost of a nuclear plant is very hard to predict these days, because it depends heavily on the regulatory climate. In more detail, here's something Eric Loewen (GE) has written on the subject of cost:¶ . . . This is not to say that PRISM or any other nuclear reactor will be inexpensive when built in the United States. The same GE Hitachi reactors that were built in Japan in the late 90s for about $1,400/kW are estimated to cost several times that much in the USA. Considering that the actual cost of raw materials is an insignificant portion of that price (about $35/kW), and that interest rates are at record low levels, the significantly higher price tags being bandied about by private utility companies reflects a regulatory/corporate/governmental environment that needs fixing. Part of the problem could be solved by a commitment to nuclear power from the federal government, streamlined licensing procedures for standardized designs, and shielding from interminable lawsuits like those that crippled the nuclear power industry in the 70s and 80s. ¶ There is nothing inherently uneconomical about nuclear power. Japan imports virtually all their building materials and has high labor costs. If they can build GE ABWR plants for a very reasonable price, there is no reason why the USA shouldn't be able to do the same.¶ Q. How many IFR plants do we need to replace all the coal plants in the US?¶ There are 200 nuclear plants now supplying 20% of our power. Coal provides about half our power. So you'd need about 400 new nuclear plants to displace all the coal plants.

The plan solves cost-competitiveness and international adaptation –

a. Gradual upsizing


Till 11 [“PLENTIFUL ENERGY ¶ The Story of the Integral Fast Reactor¶ The complex history of a ¶ simple reactor technology, ¶ with emphasis on its ¶ scientific basis for non-specialists¶ CHARLES E. TILL, Nuclear physicist and associate lab director at Argonne National Laboratory West, and YOON IL CHANG”]
Some notion of likely cost competitiveness can be gained from past fast reactor construction experience, but the information available is limited. It can be said that ¶ the capital costs per MWe of the early fast reactors built around the world were much higher than those of LWRs. But the comparisons are not by any means direct ¶ and unambiguous. In comparison to the LWR, every difference between the two ¶ adds a cost increment to the fast reactor. With one significant exception, they were much smaller in size and electrical capacity than the LWRs built for commercial ¶ electricity generation. There were only a few of them. They were built as ¶ demonstration plants, by governments underwriting fast reactor development. There ¶ was basically one demonstration per country, with no follow-on to take advantage ¶ of the experience and lessons learned. Nor were they scaled up and replicated. The ¶ LWR had long since passed the stage where first-of-a-kind costs were involved, and ¶ had the advantage of economies of scale as well. Further, their purpose was ¶ commercial, with the attendant incentive to keep costs down. None of this has ¶ applied to fast reactors built to the present time.¶ Experience with thermal reactor types, as well as other large-scale construction, ¶ has shown that capital cost reduction follows naturally through a series of demonstration plants of increasing size once feasibility is proven. This has been true in every country, with exceptions only in the periods when construction undergoes lengthy delays due to organized anti-nuclear legal challenges. But this ¶ phased approach of multiple demonstration plants is no longer likely to be ¶ affordable, and in any case, with the experience worldwide now, it is probably ¶ unnecessary for a fast reactor plant today. Estimating the ―settled down‖ capital ¶ cost potential is not an easy task without such experience. Nevertheless, as the economic competitiveness of the fast reactor is taken to be a prerequisite to commercial deployment, we do need to understand the capital cost potential of the fast reactor and what factors influence it. 275

b. International cooperation and modeling


Blees et al 11 (Tom Blees1, Yoon Chang2, Robert Serafin3, Jerry Peterson4, Joe Shuster1, Charles Archambeau5, Randolph Ware3, 6, Tom Wigley3,7, Barry W. Brook7, 1Science Council for Global Initiatives, 2Argonne National Laboratory, 3National Center for Atmospheric Research, 4University of Colorado, 5Technology Research Associates, 6Cooperative Institute for Research in the Environmental Sciences, 7(climate professor) University of Adelaide, "Advanced nuclear power systems to mitigate climate change (Part III)," 2/24/11) http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/02/24/advanced-nuclear-power-systems-to-mitigate-climate-change/-http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/02/24/advanced-nuclear-power-systems-to-mitigate-climate-change/
There are many compelling reasons to pursue the rapid demonstration of a full-scale IFR, as a lead-in to a subsequent global deployment of this technology within a relatively short time frame. Certainly the urgency of climate change can be a potent tool in winning over environmentalists to this idea. Yet political expediencydue to widespread skepticism of anthropogenic causes for climate change—suggests that the arguments for rolling out IFRs can be effectively tailored to their audience. Energy security—especially with favorable economics—is a primary interest of every nationThe impressive safety features of new nuclear power plant designs should encourage a rapid uptick in construction without concern for the spent fuel they will produce, for all of it will quickly be used up once IFRs begin to be deployed. It is certainly manageable until that time. Burying spent fuel in non-retrievable geologic depositories should be avoided, since it represents a valuable clean energy resource that can last for centuries even if used on a grand scale.¶ Many countries are now beginning to pursue fast reactor technology without the cooperation of the United States, laboriously (and expensively) re-learning the lessons of what does and doesn’t work. If this continues, we will see a variety of different fast reactor designs, some of which will be less safe than others. Why are we forcing other nations to reinvent the wheel? Since the USA invested years of effort and billions of dollars to develop what is arguably the world’s safest and most efficient fast reactor system in the IFR, and since several nations have asked us to share this technology with them (Russia, China, South Korea, Japan, India), there is a golden opportunity here to develop a common goala standardized design, and a framework for international control of fast reactor technology and the fissile material that fuels them. This opportunity should be a top priority in the coming decade, if we are serious about replacing fossil fuels worldwide with sufficient pace to effectively mitigate climate change and other environmental and geopolitical crises of the 21st century.

c. Modularity


Blees 9 [“Integral Fast Reactors for the masses”, Brave New Climate, Posted on 12 February 2009 on post by Barry Brook, Professor of Climate Change @ University of Adelaide, Tom Blees, National Center for Atmospheric Research]
IFRs would be wholly modular, both the reactors and recycling facilities, built in factories and assembled on site. Thus the fabrication of the modules could be distributed among companies around the world (Siemens, GE, Westinghouse, AREVA, Toshiba, etc) and would certainly benefit from economies of scale, as well as improved quality control. In my book I assumed a cost of $2,000/kilowatt for the capital cost of the plant. As a comparison, private utility companies in the USA, where we suffer from a system that is broken on a host of levels, claim it will cost from $6-9,000/kilowatt.
(stopped here)
Yet GE was able to build their ABWR nuclear plants in Japan for about $1,400/kW. Clearly the USA (and GE is a U.S. company, and remember Japan imports virtually all the materials and has high labor costs) could do better if they got sane about their regulatory, political, and corporate mess.It’s been alleged that the cost of nuclear power plants are rising stratospherically because of the increasing cost of commodities, but that’s simply not true. Per Peterson, professor of nuclear engineering at the University of California in Berkeley, recently went back and calculated the materials costs for 70s-era nuclear power plants, which used far more materials/kW than the new IFRs would, but he plugged in commodities costs from 2008. The result: The cost per kilowatt comes to about $34! Virtually all of the cost of a nuclear plant comes from fabrication, labor, and profits, not from materials costs. And having a cushion from $34 to $2,000 should be seen as entirely realistic in a situation where something is built in factory-fabricated modules. In fact, should we begin deploying IFRs worldwide, the cost should be able to be considerably less than $2,000/kW.

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