Former VP at NRG Energy Inc
- NuScale’s 720MW SMR (small modular reactor) project risks
- O&M (operations and maintenance) costs and labour challenges for plants
- Renewables – threats and opportunities
- Regulatory challenges and outlook
Could you outline the trends contributing to the steady decline in nuclear energy, highlighting the North American nuclear sector?
How much of the decline in nuclear energy is due to public perception vs the O&M [operating and maintenance] costs for a nuclear plant? Have those costs changed over the past few years?
What is causing delays to expanding Georgia Power’s Vogtle nuclear plant, which you mentioned? Why do you think it decided to proceed with that expansion despite the harsh economics?
How much of a factor is sourcing labour at the planning stage for nuclear projects, given the industry is often referred to as being in decline? Would you say existing plants struggle to even retain labour?
How have nuclear reactors evolved over the past decade? Could you explain the difference between SMRs [small modular reactors] and ARs [advanced reactors]?
You mentioned the Yucca Mountain waste repository. How have nuclear waste storage costs trended? Is the environmental concern as pronounced as it used to be? Are there any solutions on the horizon?
How would you compare the US’s nuclear waste disposal system to Germany, China or other countries? Do you think the US has a viable repository option?
What federal regulatory changes do you think have contributed most to the nuclear power sector’s decline? Have any other major players taken the same approach as the US?
How do decommissioning costs vary across states as reactors are shut down across the US? Which operators do you expect to face the biggest bill?
Entergy has decommissioned its New York plant. What do you think are the main considerations when deciding which plants to maintain and which ones to close?
Emission standards are getting higher year after year and appetite for coal-powered peaker plants is dwindling. Could nuclear power ever replace current peaker plant capacity?
What do you think is the rationale behind NuScale’s Utah power plant? Why do you think it decided to go with SMRs? You alluded to it earlier.
How much of an improvement would NuScale’s targeted USD 55 per MWh for its Utah project be vs older plants?
What is the premium on building a new plant vs retrofitting an older one with new equipment? Do you think the USD 1.4bn funding for the NuScale project is justifiable?
Could you explain how the economics of NuScale’s project compare to a renewable energy-plus-storage offering? Do you think a renewable option might be more appealing?
How significant do you think the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories’ Nuclear Research Initiative is for the nuclear sector? What challenges around SMRs might it really be trying to address?
How have fuel and components costs trended in recent years? Do you think they could get cheaper or more expensive with SMRs rolling out?
How would you respond to the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s announcement that it will lead on developing an integrated nuclear waste strategy? How would that differ from Yucca Mountain?
Do you expect the Biden administration to have a significant role in nuclear power’s near- and long-term future?
What would you highlight as the most pressing issues the nuclear industry must act on to ensure its future health?
Is there anything else you want to highlight or expand on, perhaps around reactor types?
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