Walk-away Nuclear Power

Advanced nuclear developer X Energy LLC, will help build its “walk-away safe, high temperature gas-cooled reactor known as the Xe-100.
Burns & McDonnell Engineering, and Southern Co., a subsidiary of Southern Nuclear Operating Co., will help to develop, with X Energy LLC, the cheaper and less time consuming factory-built reactor design. The reactor will be deployed in increments of 50 MWe. In case of a power outage, the Xe-100’s pebble bed system-based reactor would automatically cool down to avoid a meltdown. The U.S. Department of Energy awarded X Energy and Southern Co. up to $80 million to develop a viable and licensable advance reactor design within 5 years.

In the UK, the first small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) could be operating by 2030. The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) reports that a UK policy framework is needed to support development and installation of the SMRs. The ETI report suggests developers should consider using some SMRs as Combined Heat and Power plants. The small reactors could supply heat to small cities using hot water pipelines.

U.S. Energy Information Agency reported that almost 20% of our current electric power capacity from coal is scheduled to go offline by 2020. U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander reported that if these coal plants were replaced with nuclear power, it would require building 48 new nuclear power plants. The current administration needs to stop picking winners and losers. A big loser is the wasteful wind energy production tax credit. The extension of this credit cost taxpayers about $6.0 billion in 2015.