Email of the day on new nuclear
Comment of the Day

January 20 2016

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on new nuclear

This article recently published by Bloomberg caught my eye.   Do you have any insight into the technology and its potential? 

Eoin Treacy's view

I’ve been watching the Small Modular Reactors (SMR) sector for a number of years because it has the potential to drastically change the way the nuclear sector is perceived. With smaller designs and generation IV technology many of the issues associated with nuclear can be avoided. In additional the plan to build them in a factory in a process that can be repeated should help to control costs. 

In much the same way that the cost of replacing solar panels and wind turbines is an issue for those energy sources, the cost overruns in building new nuclear plants are an important headwind for the sector and SMRs may help solve that issue. 

The other side of the argument is that these are as of yet unproven technologies and people generally need evidence before they are willing to commit the capital necessary to build test plants etc. The experience of Babcock & Wilcox which had planned to have a working SMR reactor by 2022 is an example of where they could not get the funding together to achieve their goal. 

It’s for that reason China is the leading area right now for nuclear reactor experimentation and construction. They do not have close to enough domestic energy resources and coal is poisoning the country’s air. They need nuclear to play a major role in energy supply and that is regardless of what happens in the stock market over the next year. 

This article, kindly forwarded by another subscriber, highlights one of the latest designs the Chinese are contemplating. There is every chance that they will succeed in building a floating reactor because the technology would take them a step closer to the knowledge required to build their own nuclear powered aircraft carriers and submarines.



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