10.3.7 – Construction projects

There is some scope for using these “micro” reactors in construction projects, which often require power and heat in remote off grid locations (oil drillers for example, or ironically renewable energy projects!). But often the power demand varies depending on the project, meaning you need a range of reactors of different sizes. Building reactors this small, worse a range of smaller reactors, is going to be difficult to do on an economic basis. Also there is, again, the issue of supervision. It’s a lot easier (and thus cheaper) to train someone how to use a diesel generator, than how to use a nuclear reactor, even a “Turnkey” one! Also, as such sites move around frequently, moving our “nuclear circus” around would inevitably work out much more expensive than a simple diesel generator, even after we factor in fuel costs and future fuel price hikes.

Also, as anyone who has ever driven through road works late at night will know, rarely do such projects operate on a 24/7 basis, often just 9 to 5 on weekdays (yet they still make you do 30 mph!). There is little point in bringing in a nuclear reactor that’s designed to operate 90% of the year when its only needed 23% of the time!

So while there is some market for portable nuclear reactors, it’s unlikely to be huge. Given the development costs likely associated with such a reactor (especially if we want something with a reasonable “turnkey” capability) it’s difficult to say whether there is enough of a demand to warrant such an investment. Now I could be wrong in saying that and in the future some bright business person manages to make a small fortune with modular reactors meeting the niche energy markets they could supply (but it would be a risky investment strategy), but it won’t hugely change the global energy outlook given that you’d be talking about less than 1% of global energy use at most.

 

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