Preface. Peak conventional oil, which supplies over 95% of our oil, may have peaked in 2008 (IEA 2018) or 2018 (EIA 2020). We are running out of time. And is it really worth building these small modular reactors (SMR) given that peak uranium is coming soon? And until nuclear waste disposal exists, they should be on hold, like in California and 13 other states.
And since trucks can’t run on electricity (When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation 2015, Springer), what’s the point? Nor can manufacturing be run on electricity or blue hydrogen (Friedmann 2019). Once oil declines, the cost to get uranium will skyrocket since oil is likely to be rationed to transportation, especially agriculture.
Cho A. 2020. Critics question whether novel reactor is ‘walk-away safe’. Science 369: 888-889
Engineers at NuScale Power believe they can revive the moribund U.S. nuclear industry by thinking small. Spun out of Oregon State University in 2007, the company is striving to win approval from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for the design of a new factory-built, modular fission reactor meant to be smaller, safer, and cheaper than the gigawatt behemoths operating today (Science, 22 February 2019, p. 806). But even as that 4-year process culminates, reviewers have unearthed design problems, including one that critics say undermines NuScale’s claim that in an emergency, its small modular reactor (SMR) would shut itself down without operator intervention.
NuScale’s likely first customer, Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS), has delayed plans to build a NuScale plant, which would include a dozen of the reactors, at the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Idaho National Laboratory. The $6.1 billion plant would now be completed by 2030, 3 years later than previously planned, says UAMPS spokesperson LaVarr Webb. The deal depends on DOE contributing $1.4 billion to the cost of the plant, he adds.
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