Economics of a Sustainable Solution
TerraPower expects to make the traveling wave reactor (TWR) cost-competitive with existing light water reactors. The long view of the costs required for electricity production recognizes externalities often not accounted for in today’s per kilowatt estimates. Electricity prices go beyond simple metered energy costs. Modern energy services allow communities to create improved conditions that facilitate economic growth.
The International Energy Agency reports that 20 percent of the current world population lacks access to electricity. By 2040, electricity demand from population growth and development is expected to increase by 93 percent.
Accurate estimates for the real cost of electricity must consider the intangible benefits it provides. Investing in the infrastructure required to produce the electricity should also be an investment in improving the clean, reliable services to the 1.8 billion people still in need of them. One of the most sustainable solutions to poverty is to provide access to energy that fuels economic growth.
In part, TerraPower was founded to create a technological solution to facilitate this growth while minimizing impact on the environment.
TerraPower’s TWR creates a cost-competitive nuclear energy technology. The TWR’s great thermal and fuel efficiency, paired with its simplified fuel cycle, positions it as a sustainable option among current and proposed reactor designs.
- The traveling wave reactor integrates proven technologies into an innovative design, reducing development costs.
- The reactor also introduces safety features that reduce risks often associated with nuclear energy, in turn lowering costs.
- By using depleted uranium as fuel, it reduces the need for costly enrichment as well as offers an improved waste management scheme.
- Lastly, it also eliminates the need for reprocessing, removing an expensive step from the fuel cycle.
- Overall, the TWR’s simplified fuel cycle emphasizing energy-only applications offers countries greater independence and diversifies their energy mix.