What is killing the nuclear renaissance?
What is killing the Nuclear
10th IAEE European Conference
Steve Thomas ([email protected])
PSIRU (), Business School
University of Greenwich
2. Shortages of skills and manufacturing capability;
3. Unnecessary delays in licensing and planning;
The US programme
• Announced 2001, first plants to be in service by
2010 but orders not now likely before 2012
• Assumed Gen III+ plants economic but subsidies
• Range of subsidies offered but loan guarantees key
• Initially expected to cover 80% of debt, 50% of total
cost. Now expected to cover 80% of total cost
• Originally subsidies for 6 units, now 15 (5 designs)
• Expected cost up from $1000/kW to >$5000/kW so
• 31 units proposed but many not likely to proceed
The UK programme
• Gen III+ plants not assumed to be economic but
government committed not to offer subsidies
• 4 designs examined by NII but 2 withdrawn and
• EDF and RWE/E.ON both expecting to build 4 units
• EDF will choose EPR but RWE/E.ON have not
• Now lobbying by utilities for subsidies, eg a levy or
Why no orders?
• Financial crisis?
Will make finance harder but
• Shortages of skills and manufacturing capability?
If Renaissance does start, will inhibit it but not preventing orders now
• Unnecessary delays in licensing and planning?
Original schedules optimistic but no reason for regulators to delay for no good reason
Design deficiencies: EPR?
• Offered by Areva NP (Areva/Siemens) and derived
• Certified France, Finland, under review USA, UK
• Chosen by EDF for UK & 6 units proposed for USA
• Under construction Finland, France, on order China
• Olkiluoto > 3 years late and 50-60% over budget
• Flamanville > 20% over budget after 2 years work
• Instrumentation & control problems: Finnish
regulator threatening not to allow start-up and UK regulator not allowing certification
Design deficiencies: AP-1000?
• Offered by Toshiba/Westinghouse and scaled up
• AP-600 certified by NRC 1997 after 5 years but no
• Certified by US (2006) after 5 more years
• Revisions to design submitted after approval and not
• Under review in UK and reports of tension between
Design deficiencies: ESBWR?
• Offered by GE-Hitachi & probably most radical
• Good progress with NRC but no review outside
• 6 units proposed for USA but all in doubt
• Exelon said it wanted ‘more mature designs’ that
offered ‘more certain cost structures and better availability of information.’
Design deficiencies: ABWR?
• Offered by GE-Hitachi & Toshiba in competition
• First ordered 1989, certified by NRC 1997
• 4 units in service and 2 under construction in Japan
• Interest from India but no interest in Europe or
• NRC approval expires 2012: what will be required
for renewal (aircraft protection, instrumentation)?
• Will this make it gen III+ (cf AP-1000 experience)?
Design deficiencies: APWR?
• Late start with NRC, earlier version reviewed by
• 30 years of development but still no orders
• Is Mitsubishi experienced enough? No experience
• Up to 2002, nuclear industry predicted construction
• 2009: Ontario tenders $6700/kW and $10000/kW
• Cost estimates before construction always an under-
• If cost pass-through to consumers not guaranteed,
• Loan guarantees protect vendors & banks and allow
• They don’t protect utilities from bankruptcy or from
• If costs over-run, borrowing will be very expensive
• Estimated default rate for USA 50% so expensive to
• Scale of political support unprecedented
• Pro: decisions on planning, regulatory approval and
• Con: vulnerable to changes of government
• If fundamentals of technology and economics are
• Outcome may be a handful of heavily subsidised
units in USA, one or two loss-making plants in UK
• What would be the opportunity cost for renewables
• In 60s, vendors kick-started ordering with 12 grossly
underpriced orders that nearly bankrupted them
• Designs were scaled up too fast and economies
made on materials to bail out the economics
• These had consequences on reliability for decades
• Is the $1000/kW claim forcing vendors to make
• Now mistakes will be paid for by utilities, vendors,
banks and taxpayers if loan guarantees are offered
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