Cheap power is important! It raises people out of poverty, frees up resources to spend on other necessities, creates jobs and raises living standards. We cannot blame developing countries for using the cheapest energy option – and today that is coal.
But the planet cannot afford for us to keep burning coal. There is only one win/win option – we must have a clean energy option cheaper than coal. The world needs a technological breakthrough – Bill Gate’s “Breakthrough Energy Coalition” and the intergovernmental “Mission Innovation” announced at the Paris COP21 said as much.
Stable Salt Reactors have the most credible claim among all nuclear reactor designs to be able to beat coal on cost.
A respected and entirely independent global nuclear engineering consultancy estimated that the capital cost per kW of building a Stable Salt Reactor to current high regulatory standards would be comparable to building a coal-fired power station. This was based on building a 1GWe reactor, on site and not using modular methods, in the UK - the most expensive nation in the world for nuclear building.
Even conventional nuclear fuel is far cheaper than coal, and fuel for the Stable Salt Reactor should be simpler and cheaper to manufacture than conventional nuclear fuel.
There are other positive cost factors: lower costs through modular construction, lower operation and maintenance costs because of the reactor simplicity. But just the low capital and fuel costs alone make it highly credible that Stable Salt Reactors would produce power at lower cost than coal almost anywhere in the world.
Energy from Stable Salt Reactors could be so cheap that use in heating, in industrial processes and in desalination would become widespread – decarbonising far more than our electricity supply.