Inspenet, November 10, 2023.
NuScale project is canceled
NuScale Power announced last Wednesday the decision to abandon its plans to build a long-promised carbon-free energy project in Idaho. The lack of subscribers for the plant’s electricity was cited as the main reason behind this decision.
Coalition energy and climate spokesman Ted O’Brien had previously mentioned NuScale’s technology as part of the opposition’s argument for lifting Australia’s national ban on nuclear power. It argued that small modular reactors (SMRs) could be an affordable alternative to replacing aging coal-fired power plants.
Earlier this year, in an op-ed published in Australia, O’Brien highlighted NuScale’s integrated reactors, starting with the Idaho plant in 2029, as examples of a “burgeoning nuclear industry” and next-generation technology in the United States. USA.
Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen commented that SMRs were “the opposition’s only energy policy”.
“America’s most advanced prototype has been canceled. LNP’s energy security plan is nothing more than Peter Dutton’s talk“, he claimed.
“SMR companies are accelerating their development because the world has recognized that we cannot reach net zero without nuclear energy. If Australia is serious about reaching net zero emissions by 2050 while keeping the lights on and lowering prices, we can’t afford to rule out any options”.
Industry experts argue that small modular reactors (SMRs) are not commercially available, that nuclear power is more expensive than alternatives and, at best, could not play a significant role in Australia for more than a decade , probably not before 2040. The Australian Energy Market Operator has found that renewable energy could provide 96% of the country’s electricity at that time.
The Coalition opposes Labour’s goal of reaching 82% renewable electricity by 2030 and advocates a more gradual response to the climate crisis. It has also amplified local concerns about new electricity transmission connections and clean energy.
The projected cost of the NuScale project increased from $3.6 billion for 720 megawatts in 2020 to $9.3 billion for 462 MW last year. Despite receiving around $600 million in government funding, the project failed after obtaining subscriptions for only 20% of the required capital from a consortium of Utah-based electric companies. NuScale shares fell nearly 30% after the announcement.
Simon Holmes à Court, a clean energy advocate and coordinator of Climate 200, a political fundraising body, said the estimated capital cost of the Idaho project before its cancellation was 70% higher than CSIRO projections for the cost of building nuclear power plants by 2030.
This, he said, undermines the arguments of the Coalition and other nuclear energy advocates who had accused the CSIRO of exaggerating the likely cost of nuclear energy. Holmes à Court emphasized the urgent need for rapid deployment of solar and wind energy storage and recently visited nuclear energy projects in the United States.
“The simple fact is that commercial SMRs do not exist. There are none in operation or even contracted for construction outside of Russia and China. The cancellation of one of the three main proposals highlights the speculative nature of this distant technology“, he claimed.
“More than two-thirds of our coal generators will retire in the next decade due to aging. By pushing unicorn technology, Coalition poses threat to cost and security of Australia’s power grid”.
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