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Cost Competitive

IMSR® power plants are a clean and cost-competitive alternative to burning fossil fuels

The inside of an IMSR<span class="te-rtrademark">&reg;</span> core unit.
The inside of an IMSR® core unit.

The IMSR® uses Generation IV molten salt technology. This is the heart of its competitive advantage. Molten salts are thermally very stable and superior to water as a coolant; water is the coolant in conventional reactor systems. The use of a molten salt coolant permits the IMSR® to operate at both high temperature and lower pressure, and benefit from the transformative advantages of both.

The IMSR® power plant’s 700°C high temperature operation achieves 44 percent net thermal efficiency for electric power generation, a game-changer. Conventional reactors use water and are forced to operate a much lower temperatures of no more than 300°C and are limited to 33 percent thermal efficiency; small conventional reactors are unable to reach 30 percent. The 50 percent greater thermal efficiency of IMSR® power plants translates directly to 50 percent more electricity generated, and by extension, to 50 percent more revenues and lower costs per unit of electricity.

The IMSR® low-pressure operation avoids the considerable engineering complexity and costs of the high-pressure operation required for conventional reactors using as a water coolant.

When a molten salt coolant and molten salt fuel are used in combination, as is the case with the IMSR® design, the reactor incorporates the powerful virtues of inherent safety. Inherent safety delivers the high standards of safe operation that society expects of nuclear power, with considerably reduced engineering complexity and cost.

At 195 megawatts, an IMSR® power plant is right sized for today’s market opportunity, and designed for fast modular construction using modules manufactured in factories and transported by truck or rail for on-site modular assembly. This modular approach to manufacturing and assembly allows for construction of an IMSR® power plant in four years, under half the time required for conventional nuclear power plants.

Selecting an IMSR® power plant means significantly lower construction and financing costs. Being smaller, an IMSR® power plant requires a much smaller upfront investment (less than U.S. $1 billion rather than $10 billion plus for conventional power plants). Consequently an IMSR® power plant is more affordable and easier to finance compared to conventional nuclear power plants, which today require government backing and financing support.

It is the combination of high-temperature and low-pressure operation, inherent and passive safety, smaller size, and modularity of the IMSR® power plant design that creates its transformative commercial potential. An IMSR® power plant is a clean and cost-competitive alternative to burning fossil fuels.

In electric power markets, IMSR® power plants can generate dispatchable power at a levelized cost of under U.S. $50 per megawatt-hour. This is cost-competitive with natural gas and coal, and never faces the prospect of carbon penalties.

In industrial heat markets, IMSR® plants have the potential to be cost-competitive with natural gas and heating oil. They provide an in-furnace cost of heat of less than U.S. $6 per MMBtu. This cost is within 90 U.S. cents of North American in-furnace natural gas costs, which would increase by $2 to $3 with a $50 per tonne carbon dioxide tax.

Simple, fast, modular plant construction

IMSR® power plants are smaller and simpler to build than today’s conventional reactor power plants.

They use a modular design for ease and speed of construction, and each module is mass-manufactured in factory settings, easily transportable by truck or rail for on-site modular assembly.

This modular approach to manufacturing and assembly allows an IMSR® power plant to be built in four years, under half the time required for conventional reactor power plants. Selecting the IMSR® means lowering construction and financing costs very significantly.

Note: Reference spot natural gas price for power plant delivery is $2.74 per MMBtu.  A $1 increase in the price of a MMBTU of natural gas increases the LCOE of Gas Advanced CC electric power by ~$10 per MWh to $48 per MWh.  A $50 per tonne carbon penalty will increase the price of natural gas by $2.90 per MMBtu and Gas Advanced CC electric power by $30 per MWh to $68 per MWh.

Source:  US Energy Industry Administration  Levelized Cost and Levelized Avoided Cost of New Generation Resources in the Annual Energy Outlook 2020 – Table 1b

Learn More About Terrestrial Energy

Terrestrial Energy is an industry-leading technology company committed to delivering reliable, emission-free, and cost-competitive nuclear energy with a truly innovative advanced reactor design, the Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR®).