skip to main content

SciTech ConnectSciTech Connect

Title: Advanced Small Modular Reactor Economics Model Development

The US Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Energy’s Advanced Small Modular Reactor (SMR) research and development activities focus on four key areas: Developing assessment methods for evaluating advanced SMR technologies and characteristics; and Developing and testing of materials, fuels and fabrication techniques; and Resolving key regulatory issues identified by US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and industry; and Developing advanced instrumentation and controls and human-machine interfaces. This report focuses on development of assessment methods to evaluate advanced SMR technologies and characteristics. Specifically, this report describes the expansion and application of the economic modeling effort at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Analysis of the current modeling methods shows that one of the primary concerns for the modeling effort is the handling of uncertainty in cost estimates. Monte Carlo–based methods are commonly used to handle uncertainty, especially when implemented by a stand-alone script within a program such as Python or MATLAB. However, a script-based model requires each potential user to have access to a compiler and an executable capable of handling the script. Making the model accessible to multiple independent analysts is best accomplished by implementing the model in a common computing tool such as Microsoft Excel. Excel is readily available and accessible tomore » most system analysts, but it is not designed for straightforward implementation of a Monte Carlo–based method. Using a Monte Carlo algorithm requires in-spreadsheet scripting and statistical analyses or the use of add-ons such as Crystal Ball. An alternative method uses propagation of error calculations in the existing Excel-based system to estimate system cost uncertainty. This method has the advantage of using Microsoft Excel as is, but it requires the use of simplifying assumptions. These assumptions do not necessarily bring into question the analytical results. In fact, the analysis shows that the propagation of error method introduces essentially negligible error, especially when compared to the uncertainty associated with some of the estimates themselves. The results of these uncertainty analyses generally quantify and identify the sources of uncertainty in the overall cost estimation. The obvious generalization—that capital cost uncertainty is the main driver—can be shown to be an accurate generalization for the current state of reactor cost analysis. However, the detailed analysis on a component-by-component basis helps to demonstrate which components would benefit most from research and development to decrease the uncertainty, as well as which components would benefit from research and development to decrease the absolute cost.« less
  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
RC0116000; NERC014
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States