Owners must face up to D&D amid the ‘toxic economics’ of nuclear, analyst says

With the American nuclear community still reeling from the surprise early retirement of four reactors this year and a study revealing that a further 38 plants are in the crossfire of multiple shut-down risks, an analyst has said that the industry must now come to grips with decommissioning.

“The writing is on the wall for the US, and it is unmistakeable,” said Siobhan O’Meara, senior industry analyst at Nuclear Energy Insider. “With four reactors shutting down in the first half of this year – the first shutdowns in 15 years – and the recent spate of major uprates cancelled, it’s clear that owners are facing up to the toxic economics facing the US nuclear power industry.”

“The inevitable next step is decommissioning and decontamination,” she added, “which is far more technically challenging than uprates, with timeframes and budgets for D&D notoriously difficult to pin down.”

O’Meara made the comments as registrations for Nuclear Energy Insider’s 3rd Annual Nuclear D&D Supply Chain Conference hit record levels.

Taking place in Charlotte, North Carolina 19-20 November, the conference draws together top public and private sector owners, regulators, supply chain specialists and experts. Duke Energy, AECL, AREVA, Bechtel, Washington Closure Hanford, Black & Veatch are just some of the delegates signed up to attend.

Among the expert speakers is Mark Cooper of Vermont Law School whose July report, “Renaissance in Reverse”, identified 38 additional ageing reactors that face combinations of 11 risk factors – the same factors that made Kewaunee, Crystal River and San Onofre 1 and 2 no longer viable in the eyes of their operators this year.

This year’s D&D Supply Chain Conference will feature a special focus on commercial reactor decommissioning, with lessons shared from D&D programs already underway.

It will also showcase international case studies from EDF, Magnox, AWE and more.

“Nuclear plant uprates have been called ‘capex wildcards’ because of the cost and time escalations associated with them,” O’Meara said. “D&D is even worse.”

“We’re only at the beginning of America’s D&D journey,” she said, “so it’s important now for the industry to come to grips with the technologies, techniques and supply chain approaches that will provide predictability of outcome, and that’s what this year’s conference will focus on.”

For more information please visit http://www.nuclearenergyinsider.com/usdecom/