Monday, February 07, 2011

Another Look at Small Modular Reactors, and the NRC Process

The politically conservitave US Heritage Foundation has taken a look at the state of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) in the US. Here are some of the main points:
1 Small modular reactors (SMRs) represent an important development in the evolution of commercial nuclear power in the United States.

2 SMRs can be built in the United States and could provide important competition in the energy industry that will push technology forward while driving prices lower.

3 Their lower up-front capital costs than traditional nuclear power, scalability, and multi-functionality add to the benefits that attract investors.

4 Inefficient licensing and rulemaking, a failed nuclear waste management policy, and too much federal government intervention are creating barriers to the SMR progress.

5 Most current attempts to promote SMR development rely on government bureaucrats and politicians to decide the future of the industry rather than relying on market forces.

6 Instead, the federal government should develop a new, market-based approach that provides a stable regulatory environment, promotes competition, and relies on private investment and sustainable economics. _HeritageFoundation

There is much more of interest at the link above. It is important to note that while lefty-Luddite faux environmental groups have been instrumental in stalling the construction and halting the operation of many nuclear plants, in the end it is the US government and its NRC which create the largest obstacles to clean abundant reliable next-gen nuclear reactors.

It is worth mentioning again that Holtec International has entered the SMR competition.

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission -- along with all other government regulatory agencies which influence nuclear power and energy -- is at the center of the logjam for developing cleaner, safer, more abundant, and more reliable forms of energy for the US.

Gregory Jazcko, the US NRC chief, has announced that GE and Westinghouse will be moved to the front of the line to be considered for new license and permit reviews. Given the central positioning of General Electric inside the Obama administration, that announcement is not much of a surprise. Watch for any other signs of overt favouratism from the NRC.

Another "brave and daring" announcement from chief Jazcko, is his declaration that he feels it is time to move the proposed rules for the Westinghouse AP-1000 reactor to the "advanced" stage of public comment.

The various licensing and permitting processes of government bureaucracies such as the NRC, involve mandatory successive stages of processing. Consider it a huge make-work welfare program for government bureaucrats and associated contractors and flunkies. It does not guarantee a better service to the public, but it certainly guarantees an expensive "service," in terms of time and money transferred from the productive sector to the non-productive governmental sectors.



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