Letter to the Editor: Small modular nuclear reactors are like unicorns

DEAR News Of The Area,

Recently (NOTA, 2 May 2024) I asked important questions about the Federal Opposition’s nuclear policy, such as:
– Where will they be built?
– What type and size of reactors?
– What will happen to the tonnes of hazardous, high level radioactive waste generated by nuclear reactors?
– What is the risk of radioactive leakages, reactor failures and accidents?

So far, I have received no official answers from Liberal or National Party MPs, which begs the question: what are you hiding Mr Dutton and Mr Littleproud?

As for small modular nuclear reactors (SMNRs), they are a bit like unicorns: non-existent.

The most recent SMNR proposal was a seven module, 462 MW NuScale VOYAGR nuclear project in Utah.

After ten years in the development, capital costs ballooned out to US $9.3 billion (AU $14 billion), which equates to US $20,000/kW planned capacity (more than AU$30,000/kW).

The NuScale project collapsed and was terminated in November 2023.

According to GenCost 2023-24, the NuScale construction costs were much more expensive than renewable energy sources, such as:
– rooftop solar panels at AU $1505/kW;
– large-scale wind power at AU $5545/kW (fixed) and AU $6856/kW (floating);
– Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro at AU $5450/kW.

Hopefully fiscal sense will prevail and the Federal Opposition will stop chasing unicorns.

Kenneth HIGGS,
Raymond Terrace.

Leave a Reply