Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Outlook for U.S. New Nuclear Build

Current industry analysis points to a reduction in initial new nuclear build, but plans are moving forward.  There is a World wide debate on the future of nuclear energy.  It looks as if most, including the U.S., continue to see nuclear as one of the few options for reliable, low emission, baseload energy generation.  The low cost of natural gas is currently one of the major drivers for the selection of energy production methods as exemplified by the many local small turbine peaker power projects.

See the excerpt below from Dan Yurman's recent blog entry:

What the future looks like for the U.S.
It is very clear that by the end of this decade six reactors will be completed in the U.S. They include two Westinghouse AP1000 units at Southern's Vogtle site in Georgia and two more at Scana's V.C. Summer Station in South Carolina. TVA will complete the Watts Bar plant in Tennessee by 2013 and can be expected to be well on its way to finishing Bellefonte in Alabama
Looking out a bit further, the Calvert Cliffs site in Maryland is likely to get back on track with a new investor and break ground perhaps as early as 2014. Right now the project is stalled because Electricite de France, as a foreign entity, cannot own more than 50% of a U.S. reactor project. As new management takes over at Exelon, it may decide that being the U.S. part of the consortium to build a 1,600 MW Areva EPR is a good deal. 

Will SMRs’ rule in the next decade?
In the 2020-2030 time frame new small modular reactor designs will enter the market. Most likely, those that are based on conventional light water reactor technology have the best chance of getting NRC design certification and licenses.
For NuScale and B&W, a price point of $4,000/Kw will open up the potential for customers among utilities that would not contemplate 1,000 MW units. You aren’t betting the company at $600 million instead of $6 billion. Plus, revenue from the first unit pays for the next, and so on, providing a new business model for medium size utilities to get in the nuclear game.
NuScale, which is developing a 45 MW design, may seek early market share and success in developing nations such as India before attempting a run at U.S. customers.
Babcock & Wilcox is working with TVA to develop a feasible licensing path forward for its 125 MW design at the utility's Clinch River site.

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