Nuclear Politics

US Must Keep Building Nuclear Plants To Stave off Competition From ‘Gung-Ho’ China And Russia

By David Dalton
14 January 2019

14 Jan (NucNet): The US needs to keep building nuclear plants so it has the workforce for the future and can stave off competition from “gung-ho” countries like China and Russia, Nuclear Energy Institute president and chief executive officer Maria Korsnick said.

In an interview with Columbia Energy Exchange, the head of the industry’s trade association in Washington said the US is not the only country building nuclear plants.

“If we stop building nuclear plants I am concerned that the US will lose that expertise. It’s very critical that we stay in the game because we want our non-proliferation standards and safety standard used around the world.”

Ms Korsnick said China and Russia are “gung-ho” about nuclear energy and will have the workforce for the future. China has 11 new reactors under construction and Russa has six, and the US two, both Westinghouse AP1000 units at Vogtle.

Mr Korsnick also said small reactors of 50 MW to 300MW “could be the future”. She said such units could provide backup for renewables or microreactors of less than 20 MW that can be deployed in remote areas and only need to be refuelled once a decade.

She said: “And you can add these units together so a couple of 50 MW units give you 100 MW and you can tailor the units to your needs.”

NuScale is hoping to be the first company in the US, and possibly the world, to build an SMR. In January 2017, NuScale became the first company to submit an SMR design for certification in the US. The US regulator said at the time the design was for a reactor building that holds 12 co-located 50-MW pressurised-water reactor modules for a total output of 600 MW.

NuScale is targeting the middle of the 2020s for it to go online.

“We need public-private partnerships to get these technologies built,” Ms Korsnick said. “The technology is there today.”

She said costs can be contained because construction is factory based. The investment is less and the factory construction environment gives higher predictability than building a large plant of 1,500 MW.

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