UK project to study cost drivers for new nuclear plants

The UK’s Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has launched a project that aims to more fully understand the cost drivers for new nuclear power plants.  

Announced last week, the Nuclear Cost Drivers Project will identify and analyze historic, contemporary and future nuclear projects in order to identify potential cost reductions in plant design, construction and operation.

The project will use a database to develop a cost model comparing different reactor classes, including pressurized water reactors, sodium cooled fast reactors, high temperature gas cooled reactors, molten salt reactors and small modular reactors.

According to the ETI, its analysis has shown that nuclear could play a significant role in the UK’s low-carbon transition “as long as it is cost-competitive within the overall energy mix and there is a market need”.

Initially, the UK nuclear industry’s challenge will be to build and commission new nuclear projects in the next ten years “within acceptable norms of budget and schedule variation”, the ETI said.

The next challenge will be to reduce costs for subsequent plants “which can meet the expectations of government, investors and consumers”.

Mike Middleton, strategy manager for the ETI’s nuclear programme, said: “New nuclear capacity deployed by 2030, 2050 and potentially later depends on a wide range of factors including ongoing cost-competiveness. The cost of renewables has fallen over time through research, development and deployment but this has not been the case to date for the nuclear industry.”

He said the project “will seek to gather evidence to identify potential cost savings in the deployment of contemporary designs of large Generation III+ reactors and the potential for Generation IV advanced reactor designs to deliver a step change in reducing costs”.  

The ETI, which is a public-private partnership between the UK government and energy firms BP, Caterpillar, EDF, Rolls-Royce and Shell, is seeking collaborators for the project. A call for proposals will close on 28 July, with notifications of intent to submit due by the end of this month.  

See also:

Brexit could threaten UK nuclear plan says report

Hinkley nuclear project could be delayed again as labour dispute looms

Feature article: Paving the way to safer and cost-efficient reactors

 

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