Building nuclear plants faster and in a more affordable way

July 19, 2021, 3:02PMANS Nuclear Cafe


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.

Related Articles

From the ground up: Building a workforce for advanced nuclear

Advanced reactor demonstration projects on the horizon will challenge the nuclear supply chain in new ways. A vital component that can be east to overlook is the need for skilled construction, trades, and craft workers. That's why Idaho National Laboratory is forging valuable networks to address these needs.

December 4, 2020, 2:01PMNuclear NewsMichelle Goff

Around the world, researchers in the energy industry are engaging in the work of studying, testing, and developing carbon-free energy solutions. Throughout these circles, many scientists and...