Report Details Potential Of DOE-backed SMR Deployment Program

A 2018 report by Scully Capital in collaboration with Kutak Rock, Examination of Federal Financial Assistance in the Renewable Energy Market: Implications & Opportunities for Commercial Deployment of Small Modular Reactors details the government subsidization strategy of so-called renewable‡ energy (solar and wind) and looks at how a similar program could be crafted around small modular reactors (SMRs). Small modular reactors are advanced nuclear reactors that offer a number of benefits over classical reactor models, namely their smaller size, swift construction times, cleanliness, security applications and safer passive cooling systems. The DOE estimates that power shortages cost US companies approximately $150 billion per year, SMRs would greatly reduce this loss due to their ability to act as highly reliable back-up generators. Additionally, just like classical reactors, SMRs are a non-intermittent energy source.

Key findings:

  • SMR would be far more cost-effective than solar/wind.
  • To create a meaningful commercial impact the report suggest plan to incentivize and insure, 6 GW capacity by 2035 which would require approximately 15 SMR projects of 400 MW capacity each.
  • If such a plan was developed with production tax credits (PTCs) and DOE credit it would cost approximately 10 billion USD.
  • (Total) investments in wind and solar: $51 billion ($0.0108/kWh).
  • (Potential) investments in SMRs: $10 billion ($0.0034/kWh).

‡ Renewable is a obnoxious buzzword for numerous reasons, first and foremost is the fact that it refers to energy generation technologies which are manifestly not endlessly renewable. Putting aside the expiration of the sun and the earth (and hence the wind), solar panels and wind turbines still require raw materials which are of limited supply. Further, operating from the underlying assumption of renewables proponents, to say that “renewables” are the most desirable kinds of energy production technology is to also implicitly fall into alignment with the tendency to treat present and inferior (intermittent) energy generation technologies as superior merely by dint of their “renewability.” This is not to say that they should not be made but rather to note merely that such imprecise buzzwords are unhelpful to the degree they obfuscate or wholly obviate technical realities. Unfortunately, the paper makes no effort to dispense with the term.

Further reading

  1. Small Modular Reactors — Adding Resilience at Federal Facilities.
  2. Small nuclear power reactors

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