Economics of Really Small Nuclear Plants

Economics of Really Small Nuclear Plants 2There seems to be such a terrible rush to get Governor Youngkin’s plan for a small modular nuclear plant here in the coalfields. Could there be reasons for such a rush? Let’s take a look.. They say it will bring jobs but most jobs are in the construction. Newpapers report the small nuclear reactor can be built at a factory and shipped here. Now is this plant designed to be operated remotely not requiring manpower? Running this really small 80 Mega Watt plant may not employ many because we see on TV that the Zaporizhia plant in Ukraine –one of the world’s largest nuclear plants–has only a few teams (maybe a dozen in a team) running it. There is no comparison in the manpower needed for run the largest nuclear plants , maybe 500, to what it would take to take this really small 80MW plant.

Does anyone have a grip on the economics of nuclear energy? The tell tell heart of the matter…. The only nuclear power plant operating in California needs federal funds to keep running until there is enough clean energy on line. No new nuclear power plants have been built since 2013. A dozen U.S. commercial nuclear power reactors have closed in the past decade before their licenses expired, largely due to competition from cheaper natural gas (much of it from this area and eastern coalfields) massive operating losses due to low electricity prices and escalating costs, or the cost of major repairs. Several other economically distressed nuclear plants are in need of federal funds. The lead sinker is that nuclear energy is becoming less and less competive with clean energy such as solar and wind. Solar and wind power runs about $40 a MW and nuclear goes for about $175 per megawatt per the Internet sources. The really small reactor may run slightly higher per MG than from the big nuclear plants.

About three fourths of the nuclear power plants leak radiation into the soil and water-check the Internet on this . The Stanford and University of British Columbia found that small nuclear plants will generate radioactive waste by factors of 2 to 30 times that of conventional plants, may use chemically exotic fuels and coolants and may require costly chemical treatment before disposal. The neutrons are not so well contained in the SMR so there will be more radioactive steel to dispose of. Gosh, my county has already lost about 90 percent of the private drinking water sources from the mining. The coal seams held the aquifers. The wastes will be in the environment for hundreds of thousands of year. The radioactive wastes, chemical wastes of the highly regulated Hanford nuclear plant leaked into the Columbia River. The cleanup costs of Hanford site is at least $110 BILLION and will take 50 years. (What leaked into the ocean comes back to us in the rain and fish. ) It’s your tax payer dollar that funds.

Are the politicians celebrating this aware of the failing economics or just celebrating a project that will sop up like gravy the monies in the Biden Inflation Reduction Act and other bills past so it goes to the nuclear industry without input for the people or a care for far better, diversified investments. Dollar for dollar the Mega Watts out put of solar and wind is not equalld by nuclear industry—So, is the SMR the last ditch effort to gin up more business for the declining nuclear industry?

Submitted by Gerry Scardo
Clintwood, VA