Making sense of nuclear's bad day
It's easy to over-interpret the death of small modular reactor firm NuScale's Idaho project, but it nonetheless has lessons — and omens — for the future.
Catch up fast: Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems and NuScale last week said there weren't enough buyers for the project's increasingly costly energy.
What they're saying: Energy analyst Todd Moss notes first-of-a-kind projects are always costly.
- That's true even though SMRs promise standardized manufacturing to prevent huge cost overruns that bedevil traditional reactors.
- "But getting to scale means getting over the early humps. This first hump proved too much," Moss, executive director of the Energy for Growth Hub, wrote on Substack.
The intrigue: Bloomberg's Liam Denning writes that amid surging renewables and storage, the SMRs use case may narrow to industrial energy, with grid-focused output a lesser focus.
Threat level: NuScale has the only SMR design with Nuclear Regulatory Commission approval.
- Nuclear critic Edwin Lyman, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the Idaho project's demise shows "broader challenges" for U.S. development.
- It "does not bode well for the dozens of other, more exotic reactor types in various stages of development that are being touted as the next best thing."
Yes, but: Moss said a "vibrant nuclear ecosystem exists," citing the many startups and projects somewhere in the pipeline — and he's confident some will survive.