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Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program – How Does it Work, What’s the Timeline?
The coming innovations in nuclear power generation are designed to serve various purposes. Those now under development and headed for the U.S. Government's Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) are part of a larger plan to reduce energy production from fossil fuels. Just as with other industries overseen by, and having to pass government testing, new nuclear power designs need to be vetted, tested, and brought online with caution, yet expeditiously.
Nuclear Reactor Demonstration
The idea of reactor demonstration is to prove the new engineering, design, construction, ability to operate, and correct licensing. The ARDP is unusual in that it is a partnership between the public and private sector. The intent is to add nuclear generation to be used for powering residential and commercial property.
As much as the partnerships between the public and private sector are intended to speed the development of reactors. Other more talked about reasons include providing clean energy while creating jobs. But there is another critical reason; this is the need for speed. Moving as fast as prudent is necessary because the supply chain of the fuel could further diminish if not exercised. Bringing plants online, or at least operating in a test phase will help stop the infrastructure from decaying.
The Power of Grant Money
Through a government grant, the ARDP will be providing initial funds of $160 million to support demonstrating a plant’s concept, and design. The purpose, according to the grants.gov portal is “…to facilitate the development of U.S. private industry advanced nuclear reactor demonstrations.” The grant portal also describes, “These designs are expected to enable a market environment in which commercial reactor services are available that are safe and affordable to both construct and operate when compared to competing alternative sources of energy in the near- and mid-term. These designs are expected to provide significant improvements in safety, security, economics, and environmental impacts over current nuclear power plant designs.”
Who Can Apply is Limited
Each project's funding has various avenues for approval. The goal of the Department of Energy and non-federal parties is on the construction and actual demonstration that a reactor design is safe and affordable to build in the near- to mid-term. If the reactor would take ten years to build, the benefit may be much more limited.
ARDP identifies three separate pathways to meet this goal:
1). Advanced reactor demonstrations, which supports two reactor designs to be operational in 5-7 years
2). Risk reduction for future demonstration awards which supports two to five additional novel advanced reactor designs that have a commercialization horizon that is approximately 5 years longer than the advanced reactor demonstrations.
3). A third path, is identified in Congresses Appropriations Act of 2020, (H.R. 1865, Advanced Reactor Concepts). This supports the development of at least two new public-private partnership awards focused on advancing reactor designs toward the demonstration phase; these have a commercialization horizon that is approximately five years longer than the risk reduction for future demonstration awards.
The ARDP will use the National Reactor Innovation Center to test and assess ARD technologies by engaging the full capabilities of the U.S. National Laboratory system to safely walk these reactors from blueprints to reality
Knowing expected time frames used in the development of a plant or product is important. This is true whether you’re investing in plant and equipment, future patents, potential medicines, or anything involved in nuclear energy production. The U.S. is supporting bringing online new-tech nuclear plants with grant money under the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program, there may be potential for investors to benefit.
Answers as to whether an allocation to the nuclear sector in the form of uranium production is appropriate for your portfolio may be found at next week's uranium companies investor forum. Registration is free to registered Channelchek users.
The Noble Uranium Power Players Investor Forum is a virtual conference bringing together leading companies involved in the exploration and production of uranium.
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