Techno-economic evaluation of cross-cutting technologies for cost reduction in nuclear power plants
Author(s)Champlin, Patrick A. (Patrick Alec)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering.
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The economic potential and readiness of various cross-cutting technologies, both nuclear-related and not, have been evaluated to find that a 28-38% net reduction in LCOE is possible for new nuclear builds beginning construction before 2030, and up to 65% after that. The short term benefit comes primarily from several capital cost reducing technologies such as seismic isolation (7-10%), steel plate composites and ultra-high performance concrete (6-8%), modular construction of mechanical components (4-5%), and high-strength rebar (~2%), with heat transfer coatings (~5%) being the only non-capital technology to have a comparable impact. The long term benefit is also predominantly due to capital technologies, with the additive manufacturing of large metal components (3-9%) and offshore siting (3-9%) accounting for most of the increased benefit. Existing sites likewise look to profit, with retrofits enabling savings equivalent to a 6-8% reduction in LCOE in the near term - principally because of the aforementioned coatings. Other technologies evaluated include accident tolerant fuels, advanced instrumentation and control, advanced power cycles, embedment, energy storage, and robotics. As plant overnight costs and construction times have tripled in the US since Three Mile Island, such technologies thus have significant potential to aid a troubled industry. These estimates notably do not include learning from accumulated construction experience, which can additionally account for up to a 20-40% reduction in LCOE and is a driving incentive of small modular reactors, or revenue enhancement from sources such as the secondary objectives of Brayton cycles, which were found to be the most likely motivation in selecting such alternatives, and energy storage, where thermal storage was identified to be the best fit for nuclear plants. Furthermore, the durability of heat transfer coatings was determined to be more important to their viability than thermal performance, once past a relatively low threshold. And though the above values define the feasible range of savings, care must be taken in implementation to achieve these savings. Issues with modular construction, for example, can arise if too much of it is implemented too quickly as it is generally less flexible than traditional construction. This problem was observed at recent US AP1000 builds.
Thesis: S.M., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, 2018.This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections.Cataloged from student-submitted PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 89-104).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Nuclear Science and Engineering.