Research Papers: Nuclear Power

Competitiveness of Small-Medium, New Generation Reactors: A Comparative Study on Decommissioning

[+] Author and Article Information
Giorgio Locatelli, Mauro Mancini

Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, Piazza Leonardo da Vicini, 32, 20133 Milano, Italy

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In the MRA, the OECD countries are only the founding countries.

The weak economy of scale and multiple unit savings are not considered, i.e., the model compares a WWER with a “440 MWe IRIS.”

J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power 132(10), 102906 (Jul 02, 2010) (7 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4000613 History: Received July 23, 2009; Revised August 02, 2009; Published July 02, 2010; Online July 02, 2010

Small-medium reactors (SMRs) are going to be important players in the worldwide nuclear renaissance. The economy of scale plays against the development of this kind of reactors, even if sometimes its influence is overestimated so that SMRs appear to have a levelized unit electricity cost significantly higher than large reactors (LRs). However, the economy of scale applies only if SMR designs are similar to that of LRs, but this is not the case since the small size allows for original design solutions not accessible to large sized reactors. The literature already presents studies showing how, under certain assumptions, the capital cost and the operation and maintenance cost of a site provided by one large reactor is quite similar to another site composed of four SMRs providing the same power output. However, the literature still lacks this kind of analysis on the decommissioning cost. The paper fills this gap, investigating the cost breakdown of a decommissioning project and providing a literature review about its cost estimate techniques and managerial approach. This paper identifies and briefly discusses the different cost drivers related to the decommissioning phase of a nuclear plant focusing the attention on those critical ones in the comparison between SMR and LR (economy of scale, multiple units in a single site, technical savings, and decommissioning strategy—“immediate decommissioning” or “deferred decommissioning”). The International Reactor Innovative and Secure reactor is used as the example of a SMR to quantify the effect of these drivers, but the analysis and conclusions are applicable to the whole spectrum of new small nuclear plants. The results show that when all of these factors are accounted for in a set of realistic and comparable configurations, and with the same power installed on the site, the decommissioning costs of a SMR with respect to a LR drop from three times higher to two times. If more than one large reactor is considered, the gap increases since the large reactor investment also reaps advantages from site sharing.

Copyright © 2010 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

Structure of the model

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Figure 2

Evidence of the economy of scale and co-sitting savings. Elaboration from Ref. 3.

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Figure 3

Influence of location. Elaboration from Ref. 3.

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Figure 4

Immediate decommissioning breakdown cost. Elaboration from Ref. 15.

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Figure 5

Deferred decommissioning breakdown cost. Elaboration from Ref. 15.




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