There is a lot of buzz around advanced reactors, and for good reason, according to Ashley Finan, director of the Department of Energy’s National Reactor Innovation Center (NRIC). In the article 3 Ways to Make Nuclear Power Plants Faster and More Affordable to Build, published earlier this month on the DOE’s website, Finan noted that advanced reactors promise to be cheaper to build and operate, offer enhanced versatility, and can help put the United States on a path to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
The key cost driver will be construction and project management, “areas that have plagued the industry for decades,” Finan noted.
“For advanced nuclear energy to realize its potential, we have to make it more affordable and scalable. Only then can it meaningfully contribute to our energy, security, and environmental imperatives,” she added.
The ACT Initiative: NRIC will be working with GE-Hitachi Nuclear and other stakeholders on the first project of the Advanced Construction Technology Initiative. The goal of this cost-shared public-private partnership is to help demonstrate three technologies that, when combined, could reduce the construction costs of building new reactors by more than 10 percent and significantly lower the scheduling risks and uncertainties associated with them.
New technologies: The three technologies discussed by Finan are vertical shaft construction, steel bricks, and advanced monitoring and digital twins, which all can be applied to a variety of advanced reactor designs. “If we can help make them available to reactor developers by the 2030s, we can ultimately help improve the economics of deploying advanced reactors,” she said.