A Regulatory Pathway for Advanced Nuclear Energy by MIT Nukes
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SUBJECT: Climate CoLab Judging Results
Proposal: A Regulatory Pathway for Advanced Nuclear Energy
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Additional comments from the Judges:
Interesting idea. However there are sound reasons why nuclear energy has very strong regulations and policies. In the current context, it will not be easy to simplify the permitting of nuclear reactors constructions.
There is no doubt that an improved licensing process will be helpful to nuclear power in US. However, in reading the proposal, it raised many questions I would have liked to seen addressed. For example:
1. The proposal says enormous costs associated with designing, licensing, and building these plants – what are the relative costs of these three and how do they interact?
2. Nuclear plants are multi-billion dollar projects. It seems like any licensing fees are a trivial fraction of the costs. The big problem is that licensing issues cause delays which can translate into big dollars. Perhaps the proposal should focus more on this aspect.
3. How much impact could this proposal, if implemented, have on nuclear plant costs. The cost would almost certainly still be too high to compete in today’s US electricity market that is defined by low natural gas prices.
4. I am intrigued by the discussion of new designs for nuclear plants. Are there specific examples of where the licensing process has killed some of these projects? Are these reactors ready to be built commercially?
A practical idea to diversify energy and support new technologies to market, however, uncertain how this approach overcomes the barriers that exist in current environment.
Addressing regulatory hurdles for advanced reactor designs is critical. The method proposed provides an interesting approach that bears consideration. That said, the advanced reactor designs that would likely be affected by such a regulatory pathway are far from commercial readiness. I think that a combination of rigorous technology screening, focused R&D on the new fuel cycles with an eye towards commercial demonstration, and a regulatory approach will be needed.
Great idea - but highly susceptible to political/administrative whims and transitions.
Regulatory/licensing hurdles are of concern to continued and broader deployment of Nuclear Power, however there are other substantial barriers such as cost that should be considered.
I like that the team selected what they consider the main barrier and presented a plan for how to address the barrier.
I would like to see more detailed analysis of the business plan underpinning the recommendations both in impact to the NRC and on how the newly available funding matches the presumed need to support a new licensing approach for advanced reactors.
Also, the comment that Nuclear is the only immediately scalable source of clean energy should be better justified or removed for two reasons: 1. nuclear is not immediately scalable given that each new project takes ~10 years and 2. Solar and Wind are eminently scalable even though the individual output of a panel or turbine are small.
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