Reason: The New Nuclear Energy Revolution
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Can the U.S. nuclear construction cost curve be bent downward again? And more importantly, can new nuclear power generation cost less than current fossil fuel alternatives, especially natural gas? Presentations at the recent Advanced Nuclear Summit in Washington, D.C., suggest that this might be possible. At the very optimistic end, the nuclear start-up ThorCon claims that the capital costs for its molten salt reactor would amount to $700 per kilowatt of capacity. Less optimistic analyses for new reactor designs put the costs at around $2,000 to $3,400 per kilowatt. This is comparable to building a coal-fired plant, but considerably more pricey than natural gas plant construction. On the other hand, Terrestrial Energy estimates that, if fuel costs are taken into account, its molten salt reactor would produce electricity at a lower cost than do natural gas plants.
In any case, throwing off excessive regulatory precaution to speed up the approval of new advanced nuclear power plant designs would go a long way toward finding out which energy sources are ultimately cheaper and safer for people and the planet.