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Title: Light Water Reactor Sustainability Program: Digital Technology Business Case Methodology Guide

The Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Light Water Reactor Sustainability Program aims to develop and deploy technologies that will make the existing U.S. nuclear fleet more efficient and competitive. The program has developed a standard methodology for determining the impact of new technologies in order to assist nuclear power plant (NPP) operators in building sound business cases. The Advanced Instrumentation, Information, and Control (II&C) Systems Technologies Pathway is part of the DOE’s Light Water Reactor Sustainability (LWRS) Program. It conducts targeted research and development (R&D) to address aging and reliability concerns with the legacy instrumentation and control and related information systems of the U.S. operating light water reactor (LWR) fleet. This work involves two major goals: (1) to ensure that legacy analog II&C systems are not life-limiting issues for the LWR fleet and (2) to implement digital II&C technology in a manner that enables broad innovation and business improvement in the NPP operating model. Resolving long-term operational concerns with the II&C systems contributes to the long-term sustainability of the LWR fleet, which is vital to the nation’s energy and environmental security. The II&C Pathway is conducting a series of pilot projects that enable the development and deployment of new II&C technologiesmore » in existing nuclear plants. Through the LWRS program, individual utilities and plants are able to participate in these projects or otherwise leverage the results of projects conducted at demonstration plants. Performance advantages of the new pilot project technologies are widely acknowledged, but it has proven difficult for utilities to derive business cases for justifying investment in these new capabilities. Lack of a business case is often cited by utilities as a barrier to pursuing wide-scale application of digital technologies to nuclear plant work activities. The decision to move forward with funding usually hinges on demonstrating actual cost reductions that can be credited to budgets and thereby truly reduce O&M or capital costs. Technology enhancements, while enhancing work methods and making work more efficient, often fail to eliminate workload such that it changes overall staffing and material cost requirements. It is critical to demonstrate cost reductions or impacts on non-cost performance objectives in order for the business case to justify investment by nuclear operators. The Business Case Methodology (BCM) addresses the “benefit” side of the analysis—as opposed to the cost side—and how the organization evaluates discretionary projects (net present value (NPV), accounting effects of taxes, discount rates, etc.). The cost and analysis side is not particularly difficult for the organization and can usually be determined with a fair amount of precision (not withstanding implementation project cost overruns). It is in determining the "benefits" side of the analysis that utilities have more difficulty in technology projects and that is the focus of this methodology.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [2]
  1. Idaho National Lab. (INL), Idaho Falls, ID (United States)
  2. ScottMadden, Inc., Raleigh, NC (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Idaho National Lab. (INL), Idaho Falls, ID (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Nuclear Energy (NE)
Contributing Orgs:
ScottMadden, Inc., Raleigh, NC (United States)
Country of Publication:
United States
46 INSTRUMENTATION RELATED TO NUCLEAR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY; Nuclear Plant Digital Applications; Business Case Methodology; Technical Cost Benefit Methodology