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Economic Aspects of Small Modular Reactors

The potential for SMR deployment will be largely determined by the economic value that these power plants would provide to interested power producers who would evaluate their prospects in relation to other options for generating electricity. To help better understand this proposition, DOE enlisted the Energy Policy Institute at Chicago in 2010 to conduct an economic analysis of SMRs based upon what is known today. Their findings were summarized in a paper by Robert Rosner and Stephen Goldberg, released in December, 2011, titled “Small Modular Reactors – Key to Future Nuclear Power Generation in the U.S.”

This brief paper will highlight some of the key finding from the study1 with references to the original document for more detail. First, it will convey estimates of construction and electricity generation costs for a generic SMR. Second, it will examine the financial implications of nuclear power plant purchases for U.S. utilities. Finally, it will present evidence of learning effects that may be applicable to SMR development.