Full Title: The Value of Nuclear Microreactors in Providing Heat and Electricity to Alaskan Communities
Author(s): Ruaridh Macdonald, John E. Parsons
Publisher(s): MIT Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research
Publication Date: November 21, 2021
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We evaluated the system cost of providing electricity and heat to serve the load profiles of two types of Alaskan communities, and calculated the cost efficiency of including a nuclear microreactor in the generation portfolio. We employed a capacity expansion and dispatch model augmented to co-optimize heat and electricity generation. Since microreactor designs are still in development and the eventual capital and O&M costs are speculative, our strategy was to explore the outcomes across a wide range of capital costs, and find the range in which a microreactor is included in the least-cost portfolio and the range in which it is not. We call the boundary between the two the capital cost ceiling.
We have identified the microreactor capital cost ceiling under a range of assumptions and scenarios. This includes two different load profiles—one reflective of demand across Alaska’s Railbelt communities, and one reflective of demand at a remote Alaskan mine and neighbouring community. We assessed the impact of natural gas fuel availability, whether a community had a district heating network, future reductions in the capital cost of renewables, the price of fossil fuels, and, last-but-not-least, the need to reduce systemwide emissions.