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DOE to award up to $80M to two advanced nuclear reactor projects

The US Department of Energy (DOE) issued a funding opportunity announcement (DE-FOA-0001313) to support the research, development, and demonstration of advanced nuclear reactor concepts. The announcement represents an early step in increasing investment in nuclear advanced reactor technologies, the DOE said.

DOE will partner with industry to fund up to two awards of approximately $6.0 million each in FY 2015. The Energy Department will invest up to $3.6 million in each project, with a federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) providing up to an additional $2.4 million. Recipients will be required to invest $1.5 million as part of the cost share. The funding opportunity allows for multiple-year funding for up to two awards with a total of $40 million in DOE cost share per award.

We have been encouraged by recent interest in advanced reactor technology. We believe this funding opportunity will foster scientific innovation to advance the goals of the Department in developing clean energy technologies.

—Acting Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy John Kotek

The objective of this FOA is to support two performance-based advanced reactor concepts for further development in the areas of safety, operations, and economics. The expected outcome of the resulting awards are to assess feasibility questions; to solve technical issues; to address licensing challenges; and to demonstrate the technical viability of the concepts features.

Applicants are required to submit a letter of intent by 31 August 2015. The application due date is 5 October 2015. DOE will issue a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) document addressing questions regarding this FOA. The Department will also conduct a Webinar covering project details and FOA application instructions at 1:00 p.m. (EST) on 24 August 2015.

DOE anticipates notifying applicants selected for award by late November 2015 and making award(s) by early February 2016. DOE reserves the right to make additional award selections using applications submitted in response to this FOA for up to two years after the initial award selection date, if agreed to by the applicant(s) selected for additional award(s). Award(s) for this project are subject to the availability of Federal funding.

Comments

Sirkulat

How many millions will "The Simpsons" get for perpetuating Mr Burns nonsense?

Paroway

In a peer reviewed paper over 97% of scientists agree that The Simpsons is a cartoon, and not real.

Nick Lyons

We need much greater investment in new nuclear--the carbon-free power that works 24/7 and has a chance of displacing, not just complementing, fossil generation.

ai_vin

We need much greater investment in new nuclear

No. We need a much greater investment in public education: We have enough knowledge to build the nuclear plants needed for a carbon free future but if the public wont accept them they will never be built.

In the meantime, people of all types do accept renewable power - even Koch brother funded TEA party groups; http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-04-11/green-tea-party-fights-more-environmentally-friendly-gop - so we should go with that until...

DaveD

$80 million in the nuke side of the world? That might by lunch for a couple of regulators who will get paid to delay it for 10 more years.

william g irwin

Come on guys - too negative. I sense a crack in the dam. I hope something actually comes from this investment in the next 5 years. I believe in the possibilities of thorium salt reactors etc. And I agree that the NIMBY issues need to be overcome with public education.

msevior

TransAtomic could use this money to hire some laywers to help with the regulatory hurdles.

http://www.transatomicpower.com/

I wonder if that qualifies for a grant?

ai_vin

Given that nuclear power is the answer to a carbon free future I'm surprised the nuclear industry isn't more active in spreading the word about climate change. I mean when you think of they money they could make they should be shouting from the rooftops. Instead, we've got installers from solar panel manufacturers on our roofs making their case.

Bob Wallace

Spending modest amounts on nuclear research makes sense. Perhaps a way will be found to make nuclear energy significantly less expensive. None of the currently used technology is affordable.

If you look at all the built/being built/bid nuclear in Europe and the US the lowest price is a subsidized 13c/kWh. (Vogtle's 11c LCOE by Citigroup plus 2c to cover the subsequent two year delay at $2 million per day.)

The current cost of unsubsidized wind + solar + storage to make them 24/365 electricity sources is about 8 cents. By the time a new reactor could be built the unsubsidized cost of wind + solar + storage could be 5 c/kWh or lower.

We'd need some real breakthrough developments. Not just trimming fuel costs (which are already low) or eliminating backup generation for safe shutdowns. Something that would cut the cost 50% or more.

msevior

Bob, point me to a link that will sell me PV + storage at 8 cents/KWHr.

My calculations are that my new house PV+storage will come in at around 20 cents/ KWHr.

Thanks!

BTW in my part of the world exporting electricity from PV's earns me 6 cents/KWHr.

DaveD

msevior,
I think it's apples to oranges...but here are some interesting prices at 4 cents and 3.87 cents respectively. :)

http://cleantechnica.com/2015/07/02/worlds-cheapest-solar-power-lands-in-austin-texas-under-4%C2%A2kwh-sort-of/

and

https://www.kompulsa.com/2015/07/10/playa-solar-2-achieves-3-8ckwh-the-cheapest-nationwide/

Darius

Bob Wallace,

Major part of nuclear energy price (80%) are generation facility price (investment) and major part of investment (70%) is spent on certification (for NRC procedures). In order to reduce nuclear cost you have find ways reducing NRC cost and risk. Who will invent the way will be genius. I have high expectations on modular setup - certification of module and multiplication. But it would require anyway big change on NRC side.
$ 80 mln is almost nothing for nuclear sector. Prototyping, testing and certifying of one modular unit would cost many fold more.

HarveyD

Nuclear is OK for the few Americans (and others) who can afford it. The majority who pursue the lowest energy price at all cost will shy away from it as they do with current EVs.

Many $$$B in subsidies would be required to pay the ongoing R & D, product acceptance, high initial cost, high insurance cost and very high spent fuel disposal cost to match future low cost clean solar and wind energy sources.

We could always try to mix $0.20+/kWh nuke with under $0.10/kWh REs.

Bob Wallace

"Major part of nuclear energy price (80%) are generation facility price (investment) and major part of investment (70%) is spent on certification (for NRC procedures)."

Yes, the operating costs for nuclear is not high. But give me some documentation for "(70%) is spent on certification (for NRC procedures)".

Since we know that is costs a great deal to finance a reactor build I suspect you're claiming that the overnight cost without regulation would be approximately zero.

And I've got a couple of questions for you.

1) Which regulations do you think we could safely eliminate and how much would be saved with each?

2) Why is the cost of nuclear so high in countries which have very nuclear-friendly governments such as the UK (15c/kWh) and Turkey (12.5c/kWh)? Remember, the NRC does not control nuclear builds in any country other than the US.

Bob Wallace

"We could always try to mix $0.20+/kWh nuke with under $0.10/kWh REs."

(I'd say 11c to 15c nuclear to <5c REs.)

Why should we mix expensive with less expensive?

When you fill up your gas tank do you get part of a tank at Costco (cheapest around here) and then finish filling up at the full service place that charges 20c/gallon more?

HarveyD

To get (very expensive but) reliable base load energy on a 24/7 basis?

Bob Wallace

Harvey, are you saying that nuclear is necessary for a reliable "baseload"?

Let's take a storage technology we know works and is highly reliable - pump-up hydro. We've been using PuHS for 100 years and installed a lot in order to move nuclear from low to high demand times.

First we do a historical analysis of wind production, solar production, and demand.

With this data in hand we know how much wind and solar generation to install and how much PuHS to install. (And do what engineers do, build some extra for "just in case".)

Now we have reliable baseload. And we have adequate and reliable supply for everything above baseload.

BTW, baseload is nothing more than the daily/annual minimum demand.

HarveyD

BW...PUHydro works but USA is running of essential water in many places to do it 24/7 in large quatitity.

The H2 venue coupled with large FCs and FCEVs may be another solution, in very dry places like California + + +.

Small mass produced distributed fusion reactors may eventually replace many current energy sources.

Bob Wallace

California is going to have to deal with declining snowpacks. Snowpacks have be CA's water storage system. As the climate warms and snowpacks melt out quicker, or as precipitation falls as rain rather than snow, CA will likely build more reservoirs to replace snowpack storage. These can be dual/triple function reservoirs - water storage, power production and PuHS.

PuHS really does not take a lot of water. The initial filling can happen over a few years during rainy seasons and after that there is a need for about 10% replacement for evaporative loss.
--

"may eventually" - 'nuff said.

Henry Gibson

Since we are already using natural gas almost exclusively to make electricity in new power plants co-generation is the way to take the gas used now exclusively to generate electricity and use it in co-generation systems where it can be used to heat or cool as well. Cooling by heat is ancient known technology. The heat needed for cooling or heating can well come from the lower temperature of gas turbine or engine exhaust rather than from flames. Every new business or office or computer or factory building in California should be required by law to use co-generated heat for air conditioning and put waste (excess) electricity into the grid. The present natural gas and oil burning power stations can be eliminated and much carbon release be eliminated by using the fuels in co-generation systems. Honda in Japan even has co-generation systems for the home; now with pull cords for starting. Co-generation is more reliable and less costly than wind or solar even with the extra cost and can be built in days. ..HG..

Since potassium is has been always long term radioactive and all humans have potassium in them, dead humans should be treated as radioactive waste and buried at the same expense as the equivalent number of radioactive atoms in waste from other nuclear facilities and reactors. A rod with radioactive potassium could be made with far more radioactivity coming from it than the fuel rods put into CANDU reactors.

PowerPro

I would like to see development of new reactor designs that actually reduce our spent fuel storage requirements such as the General Atomics Energy Multiplier Module "EM2". 30 Yr. refuel cycle vs 18 Mo. and reduces spent fuel waste by 80% and runs on the waste products of our past designs. It runs on spent fuel and depleted uranium. If for no other reason the plants should be built to reduce our used fuel stockpile rather than hiding it in a hole deep underground. The bill for this service being sent to the previous generation of plants and the electricity "a waste product" given to the consumers at zero cost.

http://www.ga.com/energy-multiplier-module

PowerPro

On a side note. The problems with pump storage hydro plants are the high losses and the tighter more efficient energy market. The daytime vs nighttime prices are much closer with extreme price high and lows that last minutes instead of hours. I know of one such plant that prior to deregulation routinely cycled 24 pump/hrs of energy nightly all year long and now they are lucky to run a single pump for 5 hrs a night on the off peak season and maybe 2 pumps for 5 hrs 10 pump/hrs during the on peak season.

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