by Will Davis
This week I had some considerable interaction on social media in the area of replacing fossil power at existing sites with micro reactors or SMR’s (Small Modular Reactors.) As we see real progress happening now in these exciting reactor fields (NuScale and Oklo come to mind first, but there are others!) I’d like to share five things to think about as we begin to seriously consider replacing fossil power (coal, oil) at particular sites with nuclear.
1. Where is it? There are many metropolitan areas in the United States that still have fossil plants right near or even in downtown areas, and it’s pretty unlikely that we’ll see SMR’s installed inside major city limits. But there are also many plants just outside downtown areas – plants that already have the infrastructure such as steam plants to generate the electricity and interconnections to the grid via high tension lines which cannot these days be easily installed without displacing property holders one way or another. So it’s going to become very important to map out the best sites to install “small nuclear” (let’s just say SMR’s or micro-reactors fit this grouping) and ensure that these are preserved. We might think of this as deliberately keeping these sorts of sites open and closing others in reverse of what might immediately seem economical in order to preserve the better assets for nuclear power transition in the future. Once they’re condos, they’re not coming back!
2. What matches? As we know, most steam plants today that use fossil power have steam conditions that pressurized water reactors just cannot deliver. That means that we’ll need to take a look at the conversion itself pretty closely – what type of available nuclear steam supply system matches the characteristics needed for this or for that plant? Luckily we
by Will Davis