Economics of a Sustainable Solution
For a global energy solution to be truly sustainable, it must also be economically accessible. TerraPower’s traveling wave reactor (TWR) creates a cost-competitive nuclear energy technology. Compared to current nuclear projects, the TWR provides a more economical energy solution. It uses a simplified infrastructure for nuclear fuel. By making more efficient use of depleted uranium as fuel, TerraPower’s design results in a lower cost of power. TerraPower has also developed a way to use spent fuel from the TWR, eventually reducing the need for further enrichment. With the current amounts of spent fuel stored around the world, TWRs could power the world for hundreds of years.
- By eliminating fuel reprocessing, the TWR reduces the cost of nuclear energy production. On a country level, this simplifies the infrastructure required to kick-start and operate a nuclear energy program.
- The first generation of TWRs will reduce the need for enrichment and the second generation will eliminate the need for enrichment entirely. This leads to a further reduction of fuel and infrastructure costs.
- The TWR can run without refueling for about 40 years. While the reactor will occasionally pause to shuffle fuel, there is no need to stop for a fuel reload every 18 months. This reduces costs for operation and maintenance.
- Because the TWR burns its fuel more efficiently, it produces less waste for the electricity generated. In fact, it could generate a minimum of seven times less waste than today’s light water reactors. This leads to dramatically reduced disposal and storage costs for spent fuel.
Our conservative initial estimates indicate the overall costs will be much less than any current form of nuclear energy and less than all proposed forms of reprocessing-based nuclear energy. The TWR is expected to save approximately $2 billion in fuel costs compared to today’s light water reactors, over the life of the plant. The final cost of the TWR will not be determined until a location and vendor are determined. The TWR’s lower costs allow it to provide enhanced revenue opportunities for countries that pursue the technology.