Energy Cast podcast: The future of next-gen nuclear technologies

Energy Cast is a regular podcast featuring some of the top experts across all links in the industry chain. Those include coal, nuclear, efficiency, renewables, oil and gas, as well as top government researchers. Dauenhauer created it and has been hosting Energy Cast for several years.

Click below to listen to the full episode:

The U.S. and other developed nations have a challenge meeting zero-carbon goals of the coming decades. They want dramatic carbon reduction in their electricity sector, but renewables cannot provide 24/7 baseload power.

One possible answer to a big problem? Let’s get small.

Nuclear’s small modular reactor industry is a sector right on the cusp of final regulatory acceptance and potential widespread deployment. SMRs such as those developed by NuScale Power and other companies offer the same carbon-free, full-time capacity of conventional large reactor projects, but they would offer a smaller footprint and less expensive construction phase.

In the second Energy Case podcast offered on Power Engineering, host Jay Dauenhauer speaks with Ed McGinnis, principal deputy assistant at the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy.  McGinnis discusses the challenges faced by large-scale projects—only one of which is in progress within the U.S. currently—as well as the benefits of future SMR power plants.

“From my humble opinion in the large reactors there is a limited market or customer base,” he told Dauenhauer in the podcast. “There is a far greater market out there for small modulars, for micros and others waiting to be realized.”

He also discusses DOE work with Oak Ridge Laboratory and others surrounding advancements in small modular technologies.

Reactor power accounts for 20 percent of the U.S. electricity mix and a comparable portion worldwide. Despite the abandonment of many planned nuclear projects and the slow progress of the Vogtle expansion in Georgia, the U.S. is still an innovation leader in the technology.

The average plant in the nation’s nuclear fleet, however, is about 39 years old, with some licensing applications stretching lifespans to 80 years for some plants.

Dauenhauer himself was previously executive director of the Clean Coal Technology Association in Texas. He also has worked as project director in power generation and transmission as well as a media analyst for TXU Energy prior to the $45 billion leveraged buyout of that company in 2007.

A Louisiana native and proud graduate of Louisiana State University, his career began as a TV news producer before transitioning into the energy sector. Back behind the mic, Dauenhauer hopes to bring his experience working across several energy sectors to you in a program designed to be accessible to both the public and industry insiders.

Dauenhauer also is a member of the POWERGEN International and DISTRIBUTECH International advisory committees. Clarion Energy is the parent company of Power Engineering, POWERGEN, DISTRIBUTECH.

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