Washington (Platts)--29Sep2010/555 pm EDT/2155 GMT
The deployment of small modular nuclear reactors could have significant
economic benefits in the US, but the security of their use in countries new to
nuclear power is still uncertain, according to speakers on panel convened in
"They have really significant potential for achieving multiple goals"
including reducing climate change, increasing the US' manufacturing base, and
increasing the number of jobs, according to David Solan, the director of the
Boise State University Energy Policy Institute and a lead author of a study of
how SMRs would impact the US economy.
Overall, the researchers looked at the expanding construction and use of
theoretical $500 million, 100-MW SMRs through 2030. The construction of each
reactor would create $1.3 billion in sales, $404 million in payroll and $35
million in direct taxes, they found. All told, the construction would also
contribute $627 million toward the US GDP, and create about 7,000 jobs.
Annual operation of such a reactor would add another $107 million in
sales, $27 million in payroll, $9 million in business taxes, $68 million
toward GDP and 375 jobs, according to the researchers.
Solan presented the results at an SMR forum in Washington at the Center
for Strategic and International Studies.
While several companies are developing SMRs, none have yet been
commercially deployed. The US Department of Energy in its fiscal 2011 budget
request asked Congress for about $39 million to support SMR research and
SMRs are considered 300 MW or smaller, and have been touted as
potentially cheaper, quicker to build, and more proliferation resistant than
the much larger commercial nuclear power plants now in use.
While they have been peddled as more proliferation resistant -- because
they could more easily be buried underground and could avoid onsite refueling
-- a final design has not been built, and so it is too soon to judge,
according to Sharon Squassoni, the director of the CSIS proliferation
About 61 countries are interested in adopting nuclear power, and the
smaller size and cost of SMR could make them attractive to some of those
"If you have a lot more reactors and they are much more widely dispersed,
this could present diversion opportunities, either from a fresh fuel or spent
fuel," Squassoni said. "If you look at adding an additional 30 or 40 [reactors
worldwide]...you've got to consider what kind of impact that might have."
--Derek Sands, email@example.com
Similar stories appear in Nucleonics Week.
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