Source: USNIC | Release | April 7, 2020

The U.S. Nuclear Industry Council (USNIC) has released the results of its 2020 Advanced Nuclear Survey of Developers.  Seventeen Advanced Nuclear companies completed the entire survey in March 2020.  Key policy issues facing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) were identified, as well as the characteristics of Advanced Reactors and the concerns of Advanced Nuclear Developers.

The top four NRC Policy Issues are:

  1. Appropriate Source Term, Dose Calculations, and Siting;
  2. Fuel Qualification for a variety of fuels;
  3. Use of Probabilistic Risk Assessment in the Licensing Process; and
  4. Fuel Cycle Facilities, Higher Enrichments, and Transportation.

Relative to prior USNIC Developer surveys, thanks to the progress NRC has made on developing its licensing framework, Licensing Basis Event Selection, although still important, is not listed as high on the list.

The need for coordination of regulatory issues between Canada and the U.S. was highlighted. 73% of companies plan for licensing their Advanced Nuclear systems in both countries, and there are benefits of working together; however, harmonization efforts should not slow down current reviews. Other countries where licensing activities may be appropriate also were identified.

Developers are more focused on commercialization and deployment than in previous years. All developers plan on using the site boundary as the Emergency Planning Zone, and a Generic Environmental Impact Statement for Advanced Reactors is needed.  More than half of developers will have fuel loaded that does not have to be reloaded for five years or more or have a lifetime core, which is different from the prior generation of reactors that require more frequent refueling. In addition, control room operators will be used by 80% of companies, and 20% of designs do not require operators on site.

Information on value and ways of improving the U.S. Department of Energy’s Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) are provided, and most companies have received or hope to receive an award from DOE’s Nuclear Energy Funding Opportunity Award program.

In response to the question “What keeps you up at night?” developers listed the following in order of importance:

  • Availability of High Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU)
  • Sufficient government funding for the development of advanced reactor technologies
  • Ability to sell initial 10-20 commercial units
  • Availability of financing for domestic development
  • Administration change to one that is not supportive of nuclear
  • Availability of financing for international development
  • NRC reactor licensing process
  • Sufficient domestic manufacturing resources to produce a design
  • Potential requirements for safeguards and security

Results of the survey can be found, HERE.