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NuScale, New Problems

James Krellenstein

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Dr. Chris Keefer  1:34  

Welcome back to decouple. I am joined by returning guests, James growl and Stein. And today we are going to be talking new skill. We are a couple of weeks late on this, this breaking news. But of course, the recent cancellation of the carbon free power project was a major blow to the company and a further blow to the stock price. Not that that's everything. But this is a major story and looking forward to getting my head around it. I've been following new scale, and a pretty superficial level, having a few conversations on the side. But you know, one thing I've noticed is that within the nuclear community, the industry, the advocacy community, I'll say there's not a great sort of free open exchange of ideas. And even myself, I felt hesitant to sort of venture into this and, and offer up any criticisms. Of course, this isn't a moment where, you know, I don't think anyone's celebratory about this. It's it's it's bad news for the nuclear sector altogether. And it's certainly not going to be our intent to sort of kick a horse when it's down. But I do think that a kind of sober look at you know, what's happened so far? And what's what it points out to in regards to some of the challenges going forward, not just for small or advanced nuclear, but but nuclear in general. So James, really excited to have you back. Once again, on d capital, for another fulsome conversation. So welcome back.


James Krellenstein  3:02  

Yeah, thanks, Chris, for having me. I'm sure your listener base is about ready to, you know, kill me at this point, just to get someone new. But, but, but you know, I think, you know, I wanted to sort of expand a little bit on your point you started with about the need for us to be sometimes sober and analytical and forget, and remember that nuclear engineering is not easy. And that seems like an obvious, obvious observation. But I think sometimes, especially in the advocacy space, and maybe some less point in the industry space, we are convinced that in some ways, it's almost like the nuclear industry can't fail, it can only be failed, right? And I think sometimes we have to remember that actually, there are some, we should be able to be open and discussing about what are the best path forward, especially where we are right now in North America and Western Europe, and even to some extent, you know, Asia, as well, where the industry is and where it needs to go. And what concerns me a lot is I don't think we right now have the commercial bandwidth to you know, get a couple wrong, get a couple right. I think we kind of need a win here. And I think we need to be strategically positioning ourselves so that the first foot that we move forward is a win and you know, I know in North America right, we have obviously the BW X projects going forward at Darlington, but in north in the United States of America. Where I have come from, although I'm in Paris right now, enjoy the nuclear powered electricity with with great relish. We don't have a solid order for another plant right now. For another power reactor. We have some experimental reactors, you know, the Kyros test reactor, I think is going forward, we have some stuff in IML, moving forward, but after Vogel four, you know, begins commercial operation, there's nothing in, you know, on that list. And you know, the carbon free power project at us by using this new scale design was sort of one of the more mature next projects on paper, at least. And to watch it sort of die is not something that I relish or happy about by any stretch of the imagination, it's tragic. But I think it should make us take a step back and think analytically, and objectively, and people are going to vary on their perspectives on this. But why that happened, and what we need to do maybe what we can learn from this failure. And I think sometimes we're too obsessed with this being sort of like a Twitter war, like, it's like you're pro nuclear, anti nuclear, and like, being in support of new scale is pro nuclear. So therefore, you don't want to be anti nuclear and say, well, there's some concerns that you have about this. But in the objective reality, if we can't, if our industry can't deliver projects that are economical, on time and on budget, then were forget about the pro nuclear anti nuclear debate doesn't matter how much government support, they're not going to get the commercial demand for this product to materialize. And that's right. Yeah.


Dr. Chris Keefer  6:28  

And I mean, let's let's be real as well, I mean, these are, these are challenging times, if this sort of the 2010s I mean, I kind of beat this point, like a dead horse. But, you know, briefly after the financial crisis, interest rates went negative. All four major forms of primary energy, oil, coal, gas, even uranium dropped peak to drop by 90%. I mean, the 2010s are kind of easy street. And we're heading into some tough times. And we're seeing that, you know, manifesting with projects that are actually happening, or we're in development, like offshore wind. And I guess, for some of those reasons, rising cost of capital and rising price of commodities, a new skill. That's, I think, part of the reason for the cancellation, part of the price escalation that led to it all the more factors at play. But before we get into those more factors, you know, I think you and I have both been getting some feedback, both on the episodes, small misunderstood reactors, but also just more generally. And I did want to take a moment just to talk about sort of the communications culture, I think within the industry, but also within the advocacy community. And, you know, in my four years of being engaged in this space, you know, what I've noticed is a risk. And this sounds superb superlative is that the right word underslept right now, but maybe like an exaggeration, but but just bear with me on this exaggeration. What I fear is that the communications culture within the industry, which tends to be, you know, very risk averse, very top down, okay, guys, let's figure out what the talking points are, we're going to kind of come up with one message, because then there's less risk of it being misinterpreted or opening up any vulnerabilities. And everybody just told the line, and certainly in my activism and advocacy in Canada, you know, I've, you know, in my group and are kind of analysts or analysis has led us to taking these heterodox positions like, oh, we should fight for the life extension version of Pickering. You know, we need large nuclear, you know, we're caught up in this SMR action plan and the kind of SMR hype, but let's not forget about large nuclear, but based upon the challenges, not just of climate change, but organic demand, or, you know, a very poor job of promoting CANDU when it's our national reactor technology, and we've got a big head start with the refurb. So, you know, those are all things which, you know, we took a certain amount of flack for, you know, whether that was overt or subtle. I certainly felt that our groups certainly felt it. I don't want that to be minimized. It's not like I'm being a crybaby, it was a huge source of suffering. But we had to persevere through that. And anyway, to sort of, I was talking about this kind of potential for exaggeration, but the communications culture and a very exaggerated sense reminds me a little bit of like, a top down authoritarian society, if we want to be really extreme, we could talk about like North Korea, you know, no, no free exchange of ideas, no, no open media, etc, versus a more dynamic liberal democracy or social democracy, where we really encourage free speech, but you know, a large range of ideas and generally speaking, I think one of the reasons for the success of liberal social democracies is that there is that free exchange of ideas, the best ideas rise to the top, there's tons of criticism, critique, we have a more fulsome dialogue. It's just common sense why that's going to lead to better results. But again, I think there's this culture of fear based upon you know, and it's justified to some degree by you know, constantly, you know, feeling victimized by anti nuclear narratives, but, you know, if any criticisms are brought up, that's just you know, Fighting fodder to the anti nukes, and that's what's gonna bring us down. So I mean, sorry for the long monologue there, but wanted to get that off my chest before we dive into something else, which again, will probably provoke some of those responses.


James Krellenstein  10:13  

So, you know, I think, even taken by the liberal democracy, you know, DPRK, you know, North Korea style J, you know, authoritarianism, but the way I often think about this is, well, these are actually complex projects, complex engineering tasks. And by, by every stretch of the imagination, as a professor, I was up at MIT last week or two weeks ago, and someone was joking that, you know, this isn't rocket science, this is harder. Right. And the, the way I always think about it is it's the great Richard Fineman quote, which is, you know, Nobel Prize winning physicist, who once said, you know, don't fool yourself, and you're the easiest person to fool. There's another Fineman quote, which is, you know, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature, for successful technology for nature cannot be fooled. And I think sometimes we're forgetting that it's not just the political battle here. That's a very big part of it. No, no one would ever argue that it isn't. No one was smart, at least, it's not just a political battle, there's a lot of questions that we need to be openly discussing about what is the better or worse technologies for the various applications that we have. And I think there's sometimes a little bit of this, you know, everyone wins approach, you know, you can't pick a winner. And I don't necessarily think we're in that stage of this industry, where often these projects are going to require large state inter, you know, state, definitely regulatory involvement, but also, often financing backing, you know, new scale, got a massive quantity of money, just to start there, of US Department of Energy money. And I don't think it's unreasonable, that we asked was that the right decision, given where we are now, now, I Hindsight is 2020. I'm certainly glad actually, that the DOE stepped up and spent that money, which was, you know, hundreds of millions of dollars and then more on backing new scale. And some of that money, of course, went to the NRC, but most of it was for development tasks and other things that the company to get off the ground. And I think we, we need to remember that let's not fool ourselves. Not every nuclear project is a good idea. Not every nuclear technology is the right folk way forward. And how do we have this discussion? You know, I think the biggest victory anti nuclear people could have and advocates is to scare us so much, that we're so petrified that we won't even be able to have a conversation amongst ourselves about what is the right way forward and what is not. And that's a real way to cripple our industry. Yeah,


Dr. Chris Keefer  13:12  

yeah. Yeah. And, you know, it's a feed back into, I guess, some of the themes from the previous episode, I just had a, you know, a media interview with a Vancouver based British Columbia based morning talk show, not a massive audience or anything, but they want us to discuss an article. And they'd swallowed the Kool Aid, it was basically an article extolling, you know, the fact that the new currency was about to take off, because of small modular reactors, all the problems have been solved. And it's like, you know, people are drinking the Kool Aid on this. And when a project fails, or doesn't work out, you know, I think you're right, that the biggest kind of danger is that we don't have this free expression of ideas, because we're so afraid of the anti nukes, who let's face it are, you know, this isn't the 1970s or 80s anymore, they're becoming more and more and more marginal. I think there's a sort of hangover in terms of this, or post traumatic stress disorder of people, you know, that have been in this for a while and experience some of that? Yeah, I was really struck by it, and then trying to sort of diffuse some of those expectations, it feels like the wrong thing. I mean, I was still being a strong advocate for nuclear energy, but I don't want people's expectations to be set up that, you know, this can't fail, and oh, my god, like those idiots, those nuclear engineers of the last, you know, 4050 years, if they'd only seen this coming and thought of this earlier, we would have no problems with nuclear. You know, it's it's based on I don't want to beat this horse too much. But it's based on this idea that, you know, existing nuclear designs aren't good enough that they need a total rebrand, not just a rebrand but a redesign. And I guess we're going to talk about one of those rebrands today and I think, a bit of a victim of of that narrative. Do you think the design choices of new scale were, you know, which which is a pretty big departure from traditional plant architecture? Were based upon trying to respond to those, you know, those anti nuclear fears a an engineering problem to an anti nuclear communications problem or newskin


James Krellenstein  14:59  

A new skill designed comes out of academic research in Oregon, the state of Oregon in the United States, Corvallis and, and sort of developed their into a commercial product. And I think, you know, if you look at the one of the cool things about the new scale technology and his genuinely innovative is, they really have what we call an integrated or integral pressurized water reactor, the idea is almost at the end inside the reactor pressure vessel, sort of to have sort of come factory fabricated, you really have a primary system and a secondary system, that means that you have not only the system that moves the reactor coolant through the reactor core, and takes the water directly off of the fuel takes the heat, excuse me directly off the fuel, right from the fission reaction. But we also have a secondary system that then converts that high temperature, high pressure water, the heat from that, and sort of gives off the heat to a secondary system that has that boil steam that eventually goes to the turbine. And that's all in in what we call the new scale power module, right or the NPN, right, it's in this sort of thing that can come off off of these in two halves on a truck, right that you sort of, you know, ship over to the site that you're building it at. And that first plant is sort of what we think about oh, that's what I think about maybe naively, what I imagine SMR in our sort of platonic ideal would be is that rather than having a huge amount of safety, critical welding and assembly, that's happening of the nuclear steam supply system at the site, we haven't fabricated at a facility in this case, looks like it was going to be South Korea for Lucifer in Tucson. Tucson, but and then it's sort of shipped over as a module. And we sort of, you know, bolt it together, essentially. And we put in feed water and we get steam out. And all this sort of radiation stuff, the primary containment vessel is also within that, that single sort of, you know, power module. So it's all sort of there. And that it at first glance is sort of like what we owe all the SMR advocates and myself think about what we want and that's the more we think about like, I just flew from New York to Paris, right? And I flew on a Boeing 787. And you know, a Boeing 787 is a triumph of technology like and you know, Airbus A 350 is also an Airbus Boeing thing, I, I love both of them, right? I probably actually even like Airbus A little better. But but this is a massive triumph of technology that's mass produced at these big facilities in Washington State and South Carolina, in the case of Boeing and have components from all over the world that are factory assembled. When an airline buys, you know, this technology was supposed to be doing a very dangerous thing by at hundreds of miles per hour at 35,000 feet, you know, across oceans with only two engines with tons and tons of flammable fuel onboard. Right? We've done that we've mass produced it, it's amazing, if only we could translate that to nuclear and the to begin with the way I kind of liked think about the new scale project projects that we saw is it's like, yeah, like that new scale power modules. The Boeing 787 Great, like that is actually gonna be manufactured at a facility and Dusan, we're gonna get shipped over and pieces. But it's like, we're, it's like, in order to actually use that 787, that new scale power module, you got to build an airport. So it's like, you know, we're really good at building 780 sevens, we're still not very good at building airports. And the whole issue that I would say, to continue this metta, this sort of parallels is, you know, the civil the actual work of the buildings that we have to do to, in case, the new scale power modules in which are 50 megawatts, or 70 megawatts, electrical, right, and the newer upper upper version, you know, require much actually looks like more civil works, then a nuclear power plant even have a larger power generation size, larger output. And that doesn't seem like we're solving the right problem. Or maybe a better way of thing is we solve one problem, we've gone one step forward, one step backwards, or maybe even one step forward, two steps backwards. And that I think, is something that is an interesting design choice. And maybe some as I look at it when I was reading the F SAR earlier, in preparation, it's almost like I kind of feel like we lost the plot a little.


Dr. Chris Keefer  19:55  

So you're referring, I think, in terms of the civil works to this enormous I mean, it's, I hate I hate when people call spent fuel pools like swimming pools, but it's a large pool, which I think is rectangular, which, which gives it some pretty, and I think it's below grade, which gives it some pretty challenging features in terms of seismicity. And the need for, you know, really thick walls, lots of rebar, all things that are challenging. I'm thinking back to the MIT report, I interviewed Jack Bolan journal on this, but the cost of nuclear and as you were saying, the nuclear supply system tends to be 20 25%. But civil engineering side is mucho mucho. And I, you know, I brought that criticism up, I had some feedback that well, you know, in the large scheme of things, concrete and rebar aren't that expensive. But, you know, putting it together, I think really is and, you know, some of the challenges of Vogel Mitchell hopefully won't be repeated had to do with not putting it together, you know, within tight tolerances and having to blast it all up. But yeah, talk a little bit about the that civil engineering side, because again, I think part of the rationale that I've heard is like, you know, these are a series of modules, you can get one in pretty early and it can start paying off the capex, but again, you need the airport built in its entirety before you can even put a single 787 Answer land in it. So yeah, walk me through the


James Krellenstein  21:10  

understanding. Just to give you an example, and I'm using for this, you know, the initial just because it's actually designed, certified right at the 50 megawatt electrical, new scale power modules. And this is for a 12 unit site, right, which is on the order I believe, of, I think next generation in the reference plant case, like about 580 megawatts, electrical. Right. So it's 1250 megawatt power on each power module can generate 50 megawatts electrical, each roughly 150 megawatts, thermal roughly. And we have basically the idea of the new scale design, as you noted, was we have multiple ones of these power modules in a large, common safety critical pool that's board rated, that has boric acid dissolved in the water. And this serves not only as a sort of, like, almost like a, what would be an equivalent to like, in containment, refueling water storage tank, in, in a in a PW, er, it's a kind of ability to refuel the plant by taking off the top head of the new scale power module and sort of getting into the core and replacing the core. But it also ultimately serves a functionality for for decay, heat removal, right? It's a large thermal mass, that given the new scale, passive emergency core cooling system design and passive decay heat removal system, right, ultimately works as a heat sink for decay heat in the event that we lose power, and everything else. And I want to I want to be also the liquid, there's a lot of other innovations that we can argue in the new scale design, one of the things that's really interesting and novel and one of the challenges that was associated with a long regulatory review of that is that the new scale primary system does not have a reactor coolant pump it instead of using forced circulation of the reactor coolant across the core, right, which is a major source of both cost and in many cases ons, operations and maintenance costs, right in a regular Pressurized Water Reactor. You know, we have depending on the design, if it's a Westinghouse or like a framatome design, we generally have you know, for each steam generator loop, right we have a reactive coolant pump and a combustion engineering or Korean or, or Babcock and Wilcox design, we generally have two reactor coolant pumps per steam generator loop. And, you know, in the case of new scale, we have eliminated that completely and instead just utilize the natural convection forces that are inherent in heating up water right when water heats gets heated up and gets to a higher temperature, it becomes less dense and it floats to the top as anyone who you know has ever I guess heated a pot of water knows and we use that symbol you don't want to call thermal head to drive the the coolant flow across the reactor itself. That's a really big innovation. I think it actually comes at a cost of low power density. But to go back to what you were just talking about on the civil wars. Let's just look at how large this building is. Right. So the reactor building for this 12 unit reference plant is right. It's approximately 350 feet long. That's about 100 105 meters long and about 150 feet wide. It's like 45 meters wide, right? And it extends approximately 81 feet below the plant ground that's about 25 meters. Below the plant ground, and it goes above, but 90, right, and it goes above, I'm sorry, it's 86 feet deep and 81 feet tall, right with a grade right at 81 feet above the grade and 86 feet below the grade. Right? So that is pretty deep and pretty large. So just looking at the surface area alone, right, I mean, it is 52,500 square feet roughly around 5000 square meters of safety critical concrete, right, that needs to be poured in a safety critical structure, right, that has to the entire thing be able to withstand an aircraft impact per both NRC and European Union regulations in the United States. And just to give you a comparison of what that is in the safety critical footprint of a ap 1000, say pressurized water reactor is 30,000 square feet. Right. And that gives you more than twice as much power as this plant is getting. So this goes back to the whole question that we brought up in the first SMR episode. This is a perfect example of where economies of scale exist, right? It's actually even more profound than I would think, right, because in this case, we're actually just larger for the smaller reactor design for the small plant design, excuse me, then we would be for a large one, but to go poke the point that Jaco made, and if you look at any cost, estimating what a nuclear power plant costs, from the EDB, for the Department of Energy, or even other ones civil in the nuclear steam supply system, is going to be Max 25% of your costs. That's what we've done all this innovation, and we've made the civil works, the seismic engineering, all of that much larger and much harder for a smaller amount of power. Which goes back to I totally concur. That new skill ultimately got in some bad timing, with interest rates being so high, coupled with genuine price increases in steel and concrete costs. But this design choices, I think, made it more sensitive to those concerns than another larger design would be per megawatt electrical. Like


Dr. Chris Keefer  27:47  

you can I don't think we're gonna see, God willing, some of the construction was at the AP 1000 lessons were learned, right. But, you know, not just in terms of an amount, I guess the the relative cost of the Civil Works probably has to do a little bit with the timeline. I'm trying to get a sense of just a micro question. I have a couple more that I wanted to follow up on things you said, but in terms of your sense of like, how much time the Civil Works takes compared to, you know, I mean, I guess a new skills case, building the module and Doosan or installing it, do you have any sense of like, just in terms of construction timelines, this is civil, we've heard the costing, but in terms of the schedule, and give you an idea of how long that the civil side takes compared to the nuclear steam suppliers. That's just a bit silly or


James Krellenstein  28:31  

so I you know, I think it's no one has built a new scale plant yet. I think we should be clear here. No one has actually done I mean, at least I have not seen the detailed sort of build ready a plant level architecture that would be necessary to really estimate in into a resource loaded scheduling estimation, really do it, but, you know, there has been external estimates that have been tried to look at you know, how much would you know, how many months would this take to actually build a large Reference Plan? And, you know, the the external estimates, you know, by folks at MIT and others are putting the construction time in an idealized world right at a pretty, you know, at about 50 months assume that you can have actually like 4500 people on site and the same estimation methodology, you know, comes out, you know, at about 52 months obviously idealize for a large ap 1000. Now, in defense of the all of these designs, that same methodology basically says it's 100 months for a large pressurized water reactor of the classical generation to design. So we are seeing progress here. Definitely. But I think the question that we need to ask Given these massive civil works that are necessary, is it better to just basically go for a larger passive plant, whether that's a, you know, an AP 1000 ESB WR something like that, I would personally not go for the SP WR, given the fact that we have actually, some simplifications, it's still pretty, you know, complex in order to get your economies of scale, if it's going to be take about the same amount of time, and, you know, the thing that just worries me about these, these designs, right is, is that the labor per, you know, unit, you know, electrical is higher, then you would have for a large passive plant, it's about a third as much more labor per unit megawatt, according to the MIT estimates of the AP 1000, is what a new scale plant is. And it's even actually slightly higher than that for a BW or x 300. And other SMR in this contingent,


Dr. Chris Keefer  31:08  

and labor, labor is definitely constrained, I hear that, you know, over and over again, just to my dealings, you


James Krellenstein  31:14  

know, once again, but labor actually, the, the overall size of the labor pool may be smaller, because it's actually a smaller plant. Right. And that's probably actually definitely true here. Although actually, for these sorts of plants, it's not really, that lets you know, for a 12 unit new scale plan, it's actually slightly more direct labor hours than 1000 megawatt, AP 1000, will be. But you know, if you look at a BW x 300, it's definitely less total labor hours, but it's a quarter of the size, right. And the problem is, is that you're getting or a third of the size, you know, you're getting essentially, you know, a lot less bang for your buck. And that's going to make these plants more not less sensitive to the macro economic conditions that we find ourselves in right now.


Dr. Chris Keefer  32:06  

Okay, so just a few other things before we move on from the civil works. And just, you know, correct me if I'm wrong in the following few statements, but, you know, extra 100, for instance, it's like a cylinder that's being sunk, it is going quite deep, but a cylinder is much better seismically than a concrete box, you know, if you want to imagine the shape of of new scale, as I understand it, I forget the exact comparisons you had in terms of square footage, but I did here. And I could be wrong on this as well that you could fit several, you know, APR 1400 containments, inside of the new scale box, and obviously get a lot less megawatts back. And just another kind of, if you can keep tracking in your mind, which I'm sure another couple things I'd heard. And I guess because the new scale module includes the steam generators maybe isn't an accurate comparison. But you know, the module, the new scale, 77 megawatt module, and maybe it was the 50 I think weighs in over 500 tonnes, and the x 300 is about 450 for, again, 300 megawatts. As we're going rapid fire here, I guess I heard that the refueling of new scales challenging because you have to kind of use a massive polar crane to move each of the modules over to a refueling Bay. And again, that necessitates you know, pretty solid civil engineering to be able to support such a large polar crane. So I guess I just gave you four things. I'm not sure if you can hold those in your mind and respond to them, but trying to get some rapid fire Crellin Stein here.


James Krellenstein  33:30  

Yeah. So you know, I, so let's go first, you know, the refueling, I think it's not a polar crane, actually, because it's a, it's in a box. It's a regular sort of, you know, linear crane that would sort of translate down, you know, down the long axis of the reactor building. And so it's not like you have in a cylindrical containment. In a, you generally actually have a cooling polar crane, and then also actually a refueling machine that actually is also translates linearly. So yeah, the, you know, the refueling is you're basically having to disassemble full integral integral pressurized water reactor, right. So that means you're taking off a very heavy, you know, the RPV head is not no longer just, you know, the control rod drive mechanisms and the integrated head package. It's now a whole lot of other things. It has the pressurized air, and then it has risers in this design, so this is yeah, the new refueling is a little bit complex or more complex. I'm not so sure that's a fatal design error. I actually not so sure, that's what's really problematic here, you know, the IAEA data on the the, the weight of each one of the, you know, RPCVs is, you know, the transport way and I believe it is taken into two components, right. It's about 200 pounds. 60 metric tons, right, I believe that for each half roughly are the heaviest half of the two things that you are transporting as part of the new scale power module. Now, to give you an A comparison of what's a an EPR, reactor pressure vessel containing a reactor pressure vessel has is 520 metric tons. And that's obviously, for a plant that is literally, you know, close more than 20 times as large. Now, let's be fair here, a new scale power module is not just the reactor pressure vessel and the control rod drive mechanism. As we said, it's the entire secondary plan, and the entire primary containment vessel as well, and all the emergency core cooling systems and engineered safety features and passive safety features in there. So it's really not a fair comparison, in new skills defense to say, well, the EPR RPV is only 520 times, you know, you really are getting a lot in new skills, defense of everything sort of compacted into a single fabricated and transportable reactor pressure vessel. And another thing that I'll give a lot of the new scale advocates that, you know, they're right on is is that this large, incredibly heavy and incredibly expensive reactor building, which in cases, the pool, and also in cases, all those new scale power modules, that complexity is a necessity out of a regulatory requirement, which is the aircraft Impact Assessment rule. In the United States, there's equivalent ones here in Europe. And that is just purely out of a regulatory compliance. So perhaps an argument, if you're really a fan of the new scale design, is to try to get rid of the aircraft Impact Assessment rule. This came into effect in the United States after 2009. And but it was really a long hand, you know, long fight as between the United States Congress in the US after the September 11 attacks, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, with the NRC multiple times being threatened by the US Congress that they will pass a federal law requiring the NRC to do it. If the NRC doesn't pass any rulemaking. I just worry a little bit from an advocacy perspective that I'm not so sure it's a great look for us. Yeah, even if it actually makes sense from a public health perspective. You know, I agree that, you know, there's a lot there's a lot more things that I if I was a terrorist, I would fly an airplane into than a nuclear power plant. I'm not a jihadist terrorist yet. I'm not ever going to be. It's not my so I don't really but I think the political battle here of actually going out and say, well, we need to basically get rid of this aircraft impact rule, because we can't build an economic plant with it. I don't think that's a great look for us to have in this in this point in our industries development. Oh, that's something that is certainly a fair argument to take the other side on, and I'll fully concede that, you know, is an argument that, you know, we're having is


Dr. Chris Keefer  38:17  

the swimming pool necessary? Like, is it because that seems to be an enormous amount of the civil works like this is the only reactor design I'm aware of? Let me finish because I want to make a candy point here. But it's the only reactor I'm aware of, that doesn't have this massive kind of thermal sink of water. I mean, of course, in our candles, we have a huge amount of lightwater around the clan jury as well as heavy water in the country. Candy Candy Candy over. But yeah, like, because that just seems bizarre? Like why is this just like chasing a safety margin under the pressure of going to events, anti nuclear activism or regulation, or what's up with the need for for a big pool? Well, the


James Krellenstein  38:54  

swimming pool is for serving two functions, right? Ultimately, the way that the new scale, you know, design handles, say a loss of offsite power, or transient or station blackout transient, where we have no onsite AC power, and we have to get rid of decay, he is literally actually dumping that heat into that big swimming pool and boiling the water off. And the new skill design has a low enough core power density that by the time actually believe it or not, that pool fully gets boiled while a the power is low enough at that time in the decay heat curve, that it can actually air cool after that, which is really cool. I mean, it's a really nifty, super safe design. And you know, there are obviously other passive and the other the other functionalities, of course, is how you actually refuel, you know, that also is a that's a common pool with where the refueling Bay takes place as well as the spent fuel pool as well. So it's all on one common huge pool that all 12 of these reactors have spent fuel pool and actually the refueling bay or All in. And it's a huge amount of, of actual you know, of reactor who have sort of a huge safety margin that we have for passive for passive cooling. And it does allow a total, you know, the musical design doesn't require any emergency power systems that are what we call class one e power system, it really has eliminated completely the class one e power systems, which is a huge driver of cost reductions, you know, having those high safety critical power systems, but I would argue, look at the end of the day, and this is, uh, you know, in a bone, let me give a bone to my anti regulatory, you know, my anti NRC friends, you know, building a large tank of water, a large pool of water shouldn't be that expensive, right? I mean, ultimately, yes, 150 feet by two, two, and you know, what, you should actually be able to do that, pretty cheaply, right? In the modern time, the problem is, is that this has to be seismic category one, right, it has to be able to withstand the pool has to be able to withstand, you know, its integrity during a seismic event, that the plan, you know, for the shape, safe shutdown, earthquake, and then a little bit of safety margin, obviously, beyond that. And actually, that is kind of important, because obviously, when you're thinking about like, when you're going to be using this passive safety system, decay heat removal system, a perfect example would be a large earthquake, that knocks out your on site and off site power. So you do want to be able to maintain that, but I think a large driver of these costs, is compliance with the aircraft Impact Assessment role. And we can't really argue that, that is true, that is what's driving this and making this so expensive, and so much concrete and so much steel. So I would argue that, you know, like, for example, I love the new scale power design, if you're a company, if you're a, a, if you are a country like Rwanda, right, the new scale power module is actually an amazing thing. And if your threat assessment looks quite different, then you know, doesn't the United States or the European Union, you're not very worried about an aircraft impact assessment, and you get a 50 or 77 megawatt electrical power module that takes you know, feedwater in and gives you non react radioactive steam out, that's an amazing technology. The problem is, is in this, the requirements of this incredibly large, incredibly complex board, it's, you know, all rated pool, and, you know, there's some really innovative designs coming out of, you know, Jake, Jura wits and Matt Slotkin who had this company called Blue, I'm gonna get their name around, blue pad blue energy, blue energy, the idea is to basically put these all out in in the sea, and basically utilize, you know, the ocean, essentially, as a defense against aircraft impact assessment, and having it in almost like a monopile, like structure. So you really reduce a lot of that of that civil works call, you know, that civil works a cost, and you really are able to take advantage of the great simplification in the factory fabrication of the power module itself. So I really think, you know, on that hot on that side, you know, that is a really, that's a really cool. You know, it is a cool technology that we're having, I'm just struggling to see how this actually becomes economical. In with the AIA?


Dr. Chris Keefer  43:46  

Right, right. And, I mean, I think what we're seeing with some of these designs, again, is a radical departure from traditional plant architecture, which, you know, it's innovative, maybe that's a good thing, it'll, it'll, you know, I'll come out in the wash. But for now, again, in the context of an industry, you know, where there's a lot of excitement, a lot of promises have been made. But a lot of challenges. You know, these these adventures in innovation, you know, potentially are the risky thing for a kind of first new build and in forever. Just just on that blue energy idea of of putting these things out at sea. I mean, to me, I kind of read that as a little bit of desperation. I mean, I'm not sure if we're going to talk about the short seller report. And, you know, there's definitely pushback from new scale on that. But some allegations that, you know, standard power is a bit of a fake customer. This was a, you know, an order on the magnitude four times that of the US order, you know, probably 37 billion, it would be the largest SMR contract ever, like the blue energy thing to me sounded like a little bit of desperation and just a way to sort of salvage the technology, maybe I'm a lot less charitable. Like is there any precedent for I mean, we have submarines out there, obviously, but it seems like it'd be a massive regulatory Lee Probably some corrosion challenges and other things. I'm not sure it's just dangling these things in the ocean.


James Krellenstein  45:06  

So, you know, I'm not going to talk, I think the new scale, the blue, blue energy ideas is a good one. And it's something that really warrants a lot of further exploration. I think both Matt and Jake, are very, very smart people. And you know, I'm not, I personally think it's rather innovative and interesting. And I personally think, you know, figuring out a way that we can use these power modules in a way for maybe different contexts than we're classically thinking of SMRs is something that I'm personally very interested in, particularly for lower income countries, or middle income countries that are just getting it and don't have the grid size to be able to take 1000 megawatt or even 500 megawatt plant, it's kind of actually, this is a real technological innovation, if I can just be a little bit charitable to new scale right now. And saying, you know, getting an entire nuclear steam supply system and a containment vessel into two transportable pieces that are factory fabricated, that's a really innovative and great thing. And I think that we need more companies like blue energy, that or blue energy itself that we're looking at, well, let's maybe rethink about how we're deploying this. And you know, on the short seller report, I don't really I haven't done due diligence on it, I'm not going to comment on what I know about standard power and that order, there seems to be some red flags. But look, a short seller ultimately is going to be motivated to throw the company under the bus, right? They're literally making money betting or trying to make money by betting against the shareholder price, I should say, I don't own any short or long positions in, you know, quote, SMR in that in that position, but and I'm not going to really comment on that. And I think we should always take those reports with a very big grain of salt. But I do think there is applications for this technology. I what I'm trying to maybe say is, for a lot of us, I think we knew the carbon free power project was going to likely never happen for maybe a year or two. It's one


Dr. Chris Keefer  47:11  

of the reasons why did we know that?


James Krellenstein  47:14  

Well, by January of 2023, we knew it because the power estimate price had jumped from $60 a megawatt hour roughly speaking, I don't have them in front of me in 2022 to over $119 A megawatt hour before you got a big production tax credit tax credit to the inflation Reduction Act.


Dr. Chris Keefer  47:32  

And then that's 100 $120 Is that Is that what Vogel's selling for?


James Krellenstein  47:37  

What was probably actually a little bit higher than that, okay. in that ballpark, I would argue it's in that order of magnitude. This scared me about that, I'll just be honest with you is that that was a paper, you know, pricing estimate from the vendor itself, right. And, you know, we have generally seen those cost escalations go way, way higher of what those paper estimates are. And the fact that we already doubled the price so so magnificently, in that time now, in defense, there have been macro economic, inflationary drivers, not just on the current price of steel and this price of concrete, but also, incredibly importantly, for a nuclear power plant, the cost of capital, or the cost, it actually costs to borrow that amount of money, interest rates are historically high. And that, that those are things that are outside of the control of new scale itself. But and you know, we should hold that necessarily against them. But that project wasn't going to be able to get off the ground at those power prices. And I'll go one step further. I think, for a lot of people who I speak to in the nuclear space, we looked at the civil engineering requirements of this reactor building to be all seismic category one, and we kind of were like why have we lost the point? You know, we keep on trying to think of these nuclear power plants as these things that come off a factory, but if you're having to build a massive below grade, you're 80 feet below grade and 80 feet above grade, roughly speaking, massive seismic category one structure that has to be able to withstand an aircraft impact. That seems like we're kind of making things a little harder. Then we started out from,


Dr. Chris Keefer  49:27  

I'm testing I'm testing your encyclopedic knowledge here, but like, is there a reference building that's anything like that anywhere in the world right now like I know, architecture buff but


James Krellenstein  49:38  

is big category one building of that size that is AIA, that's aircraft impact compliant. You do I'm not going to say what is your swan i i am trying


Dr. Chris Keefer  49:57  

are talking about first of a kind here. If


James Krellenstein  50:01  

I and you know, look, we should be cursive a civil engineering. Right? This is a different No, no, look, there probably is a structure of comparable concrete and steel use of comparable size, maybe like a submarine bunker dock or dry dock or something I'm trying to think, like, maybe, but that probably won't even be some of the, I actually don't know, I ended my shop now because I don't know of a comparable structure that has been built. Now you should we should be clear, this is like a shield building. It's not like a containment. It doesn't have to withstand, like, you know, pressure Trent, you know, a pressurization challenge that you'd see in a classical reactor containment building. But you know, it, the fact is, is that it is so much larger than the nuclear Island footprint of a ap 1000. Is and you're still getting half the power out of it. What I'm saying is, haven't we lost a little bit of the thread here? What are we trying to solve for at this point, if you have that much more. You know, if you have that law, just a period larger, as you said, you know, you could fit in if you want that containment, and then some probably an APR 1400, which is a very big, almost, you know, non passive plan, you know, in this thing, and you're getting a lot less power out of it, what are we solving? What isn't? What does an SMR give you as an advantage? And I wish we were a little bit asking this question a little bit harder, because I don't want to take anyone, you know, I feel terrible for what's going on at New Scale. And I feel terrible that they they have genuinely made innovations. And they have put new technology and new ideas of intellectual property into the world that are going to be very, very useful for anyone who's involved in the nuclear space. And they've engaged with the regulator in a complex and very expensive and time consuming process. But to go back to maybe our beginning conversation, why, like, why this design? What application? Does it have? What what problem and nuclear construction are we solving for? So


Dr. Chris Keefer  52:30  

again, I mean, steel man, that is it, you know, you have all these different modules, maybe they're better at load following. Maybe there's more flexibility in a smaller grid to kind of add a module at a time as the grid grows. I mean, this to me all seem pretty far fetched. But I'm just trying to like, can you steal man, any particular argument? So


James Krellenstein  52:47  

once again, I can see a madman. And like, I will say, like, once we get into lower income country, right, where we have a 300 megawatt grid, you can't build 1000 megawatts? What are you talking about, where you can build 50 or 70 megawatt additions, I totally get that, if I was in charge of new scale, my entire corporate focus right now would be on the lower income countries, except


Dr. Chris Keefer  53:08  

that those lower income countries, by definition, don't have the money, your good tech startup company, as I understand your back by floor or whatever, but you can't go in there and offer, you know, the kind of Build Own Operate, financing, etc. You know, waste management,


James Krellenstein  53:24  

you know, advertising, there are really innovative ways you can do this fic, you can use ExIm Bank, there are real you can use us AI D, right, there's a lot of ways that you can actually get the financing, especially if you're building a 55 megawatt electrical, sorry, building, you know, just a single power module, and you're simplifying your civil work so much that your construction costs are gonna be way, way way. Okay. Okay, right, and maybe even actually competitive with other things. Also Island markets, where you have isolated islands, but once again, you have to have a design that is able to basically be designed as one or two power modules to start and greatly simplifies and reduce the costs and maybe doesn't have the regulatory challenges associated with the aircraft Impact Assessment roll. Like, what I'm just trying to say is, and I, you know, I'm gonna get this is a terrible career move, just to be honest, to be even having this discussion. Probably publicly.


Dr. Chris Keefer  54:18  

So,


James Krellenstein  54:19  

you know, when I'm begging for food in three years, you'll the


Dr. Chris Keefer  54:23  

couple will come through free James. Yeah, it might just be might just be some macaroni for Kraft dinner, but we'll get even though namebrand.


James Krellenstein  54:32  

You know, how does this fit in to a European or US power market? How does that fit in? How does this particular approach of using this huge reactor building? Right these these incredibly complex civil works, the labor costs are going to be probably higher than a passive plant than a large passive plant. Where does that fit in? To the markets that we're talking about? And even the, you know, you know, a classic thing we hear about SMR is that you don't need as much upfront capital, as you would, but I'm not so sure when you're talking about, you know, a 12, or six, there's a lot of upfront capital is probably less immediately than a gigawatt scale, but you're also you're the power prices that you're going to generate, you're gonna generate a lot less power, your payback period is going to be increased and your power prices are going to be higher. So what what are why? Why is the question that I keep on asking, What are we solving for, with the new scale design, and I fear that a little bit of what we've been talking about over the last couple of episodes, is coming. You know, we're having a sort of reality moment where we're starting to go out in trying to deploy this technology into the commercial space, and we're not being as successful as we would hope. And I would also translate this, I think, you know, my favorite SMR is the BW RX 300, I think it really has a lot of compelling advantages. And if there's one SMR, in my humble opinion, that's going to sort of make it it's going to be the x 300. But even on that plant, you know, that plant has a huge amount of as a very large reactor building, just even that shaft, even ignoring the rest of the nuclear island in the spent fuel pool. It's very large, on a per megawatt basis. And although we claim, you know, the claim made by the vendor, GE Hitachi is, it's 90% less steel than concrete than the ESP WR It's big 1500 megawatt. Plant. It's also 20% as much power. Right? So when you do that math that well, you're getting, maybe it's half as much concrete and steel, but I'm like, then the ESP WR, no one's ever built an ESP, WR. US still are having a much larger reactor, you know, a pretty large nuclear just that shaft is very deep, it's very wide, it's large, relatively for the amount of power you're making. I worry about the fundamental economics here. And I think it's okay for us to critically think in question, what really were the motivations of these SMRs. To a large extent, they're not even sure we solve the financing problem, not even sure we've solved the financing problem. And the finance ability way, forget about the economics of a plant, like a new scale plant, because considering how much you know, safety critical works, there's gonna have to be and how much concrete how large the facility is gonna be.


Dr. Chris Keefer  57:49  

You know, just getting back to the calm side of things again, and again, thank you for taking the career risk. You're a rare breed, I did try and get a few other people on. And, again, I think you've I think this episode under the previous one, you've been pretty damn diplomatic. So but again, I do appreciate you coming on and taking that risk. And that the macaroni dinner thing does stand anyway, but some of the hubris in the communications and I guess you just have to do this, you know, in terms of marketing yourself, but, you know, I think in response to some of the fallout over the US Steel breaking down, you know, and talking about some other opportunities that new scale has, you know, quote, you know, customers can rely on a proven SMR technology, with regulatory approval and active production. Well, there's active production going on and Doosan. There's regulatory approval, but this is not a proven SMR technology yet. It sounds like you know, from a tech perspective, it's probably going to work out just fine. But, you know, we don't have operational experience. We don't have the economics yet. Like I just the present tense that's used by reactor designs and companies that have not yet built. I think it's a problem.


James Krellenstein  59:05  

No comment there. Nothing further on that I really do agree with you there. But I need to maybe me, I'm gonna turn this this question back to you, Chris. Look, what are we, you're one of the world's premier nuclear advocates, if I may be, you know, fluff your feathers now for the first time. Like and you know, how to do nuclear advocacy. I mean, what's happened in Ontario is is amazing. And truly an amazing accomplishment for the climate for energy security for for Canada, for Ontario. I am always more interested in why are we we have two problems maybe more than two problems in this industry. One of course is that we Have a large organized anti nuclear opposition. And that's anti nuclear folks and advocates are not trying to anyway underestimate their power and their influence really have influence regulatory processes. Government policy in a way that has penalized nuclear and made it very, very hard for this industry, there is no one who will deny that and I'm the first one will say that. But I think we should be also a little bit reflective enough to say we as an industry, and this goes through the large reactors more. So to be honest, we have not always delivered on the way that we needed to. And in my opinion, we need to have a win now. You know, in the West, we need to have a win. And we need to have that discussion among advocates about what the best path from a policy perspective, from a technology perspective and so on, is to have that wind for new nuclear, because even though offshore winds in crisis, offshore wind is still deploy, ultimately, we're not in the United States even. Not very much. But it's still deploying, we're not deploying new nuclear. So I want to ask you a question. Why do you think there is a sort of instinctive fear? In some cases, of us having being a little bit critical of ourselves? Because I always, you know, came from, you know, the Don't fool yourself, you're the easiest person to fool. Right? My analytic analytical mechanics, Professor, one time opened the class with that. And I think he meant that also in reference to your grades and what you think you're my first serious physics course. But how are we going to solve these problems if we pretend that only the problems are external? And none of the problems are internal? And what how do we get here, and I think that's sort of more of what I'm interested in talking about, rather than the peculiarities of the new scale design, because I think that's the most important thing we need to solve. It


Dr. Chris Keefer  1:02:06  

is really, it is really interesting at this, this does betray the Canadian perspective. And it's a really interesting kind of attribute of the American nonprofit sector and the role of foundations, the kind of tax avoidance mechanism there the ability for, you know, really rich people, rather than sort of feeding into, you know, government administered entitlement programs, etc. To decide, hey, I'm interested in this, I'm going to create a foundation is going to fund that that's, that's led to a massive nonprofit sector in the US, which is larger than many, many, even mid sized countries economies around the world. And that does mean that the environmental movement in the US is incredibly, you know, orders of magnitude more powerful than than that in Canada. Again, I think that's actually just attributable to our tax structure. So I, you know, when I was minimizing, you know, in saying the environmental groups are marginal, that's a total Canadian bias. Obviously, the NRDC, Sierra Club, excetera. Friends with the Earth are our monoliths, south of the border, so I can take that back. And again, that that defensiveness is understandable in that regard. I really do like, you know, the blue team, Red Team, process, even just as a concept, we do need to sort of read team ideas, as you said, when is vitally important, without the sort of free open exchange of ideas without sort of fear of retribution. I'm not saying like whistleblowing here, but like, we need to share ideas in an environment where we don't feel scared. I mean, I luckily have a medical career that I've maintained and don't even have to fall back on. I'm still actively employed there. So and I think, you know, to toot the horn of the couple here, I think part of why people are engaged in listen is because we can say heterodox things and, you know, probably in my editorial angle, maybe I have a cognitive bias towards heterodoxy. But as I said, you know, our activism up here in Canada has been heterodox, I think it's been proven to be right. It's been wonderful, actually, to be proven right time after time. You know, in terms of that broader culture, and the fear of, you know, criticizing a certain design or a concept behind that design. You know, and again, speaking from the Canadian example, you have industry associations, they're trying to make everybody happy, they're trying to represent everybody, you know, and circle the wagons, I guess makes sense. There's a kind of all of the above his approach. I really reject that. I think, you know, just from a medical background and a sort of triage paradigm, I'm always thinking about maximizing the effectiveness of scarce scarce resources towards the greatest output. So that that all was, you know, motivates my thinking all of the best, not all of the above. And, you know, I'm glad to be able to create a space out there, pro bono for the nuclear sector to be able to have some red teaming and again, I'm glad for guests like yourself that can take the risk, I think in both episodes that have been cut controversial, I think you've been very balanced. Very fair, you know, very nuanced. So, you know, I hope those that are


James Krellenstein  1:05:09  

yet to go back, though, you know, to your medical triage analogy, you know, I think we're like a, you know, I think the nuclear industry or what had it's more public acceptance for policy support than it ever has, or this for maybe decades has, at least in my opinion, we really are in a place, you know, in the United States, you know, down down south of your border, we, we have the inflation Reduction Act, which in some cases, right, if you properly cite a nuclear plant, you can get 50% of your project cost, including financing costs, your construction costs, you know, back as a tax credit, and if you're a municipal utility, you can get that as a check from the IRS. That's huge, right? Even half the cost of a nuclear power plant from a construction cost basis. Yet, we aren't seeing the order book Start filling back up. And so I know a lot of us are very excited about where nuclear is heading. I am too. That's why I made a career change myself to come, you know, into this industry. But I think we should also not be in denial about, we're still in maybe we're not in the ICU anymore. But we're in like the step down unit. Right. And, you know, the patient has a pretty large, we need to do a differential diagnosis, and make sure that diagnosis is right and make sure we have sort of goal directed therapy of some sort to, like, get us to the point that we need to be and I'm sorry to know you're speaking my language, I


Dr. Chris Keefer  1:06:49  

love it. This doesn't happen.


James Krellenstein  1:06:50  

ICU jargon in here, but we kind of like we have a septic patient, maybe he's off the vent, but like, he's, he's, he's sick, or she's sick. And I don't say that as because I don't love the patient. It's because I love the patient more than anything else. And I want the patient to get better. And I worry sometimes that we're so Oh, you know, like, you know, his lactate has gone down? I like Well, yes. But like, no, he's still he's still critically ill. And he's still pretty ill. And we need a goal directed therapy to get us out of the step down unit onto the regular floor and then in discharge. Right. And and I don't think you can look at where we are and say we're not sick. And having a couple of dozen startups is not us not being sick. Right? That is us, you know, having a lot of excitement and great thing, a lot of innovation, that's great. But we need to get into deployment. And we don't


Dr. Chris Keefer  1:07:50  

have any clinical, we don't have any clinical trials back on the novel treatments that startups are suggesting.


James Krellenstein  1:07:57  

So, Chris, I guess the question I have is, I look at I worry that we don't have the policy space right now to be doing five different reactors at first. And that means or 10. If we want to deploy it means we're gonna have to choose for the initial builds some stuff as advocates and fight for policies that get us there. I'll go one step further and argue, I think we as a sector need to be better and advocates too. And I've done a lot of advocacy in my life. And in public health, as you know, you know, Chris is part of a group called act up that did a lot of work on getting HIV treatments to everyone and accelerating and, you know, before my time but act of literally occupy the Food and Drug Administration in 1989, to basically change the way that drugs were approved, so that we can get drugs faster to pieces


Dr. Chris Keefer  1:08:52  

dozen people occupy the NRC, James, because I know that's really think the


James Krellenstein  1:08:57  

NRC is really the problem. Yes. And I mean, there are other ways probably to do it better. But the difference so one thing I will say about active as much as a crazy, you know, group of sort of radical kind of people who literally occupied the NIH and the FDA campus and the CDC campus. What they did do is they had an incredibly detailed policy roadmap. And they were meeting with every single official at the FDA, CDC and NIH all the time and exchanging ideas and writing white paper after white paper of how they're going to achieve this. What I worry about is that we are not, we are not on the pathway to even achieving the low hanging fruit that we need. For example, on our previous episode on fuel, we are still not we do not have a clear path to get off of Russian enrichment services right now, in the United States. Um, I don't know if that's really okay. We need to be demanding, you know, that. You know, that we had that policy change. And to go back to the AQAP example, I was one time one of my very close friends and mentors from this period was a guy named Mark Harrington and he went to MacArthur Genius, grant work, before his work. And it was a lot of research and a huge number of scientific publications, he actually published as an activist as an advocate for HIV. And I asked, How did you Why were you so scientifically rigorous, you weren't trained as a scientist? And his perspective was, he had HIV, of course, and his perspective was, well, if I got the advocacy wrong, that is, if I got the science wrong, and I didn't actually advocate for Well, I was gonna be dead. And he, after a couple of drinks, he coined this term, not even sure if he wrote, remember, this is like necro empiricism. Right? The idea that if he didn't get it, he didn't argue, if you get the right policy wins and get the right change at the FDA and the NIH and the CDC, then he would be dead. And that will be the end of it, there'll be no going back, you know, that would be the ultimate clinical trial and equals one, right, his advocacy was success, he would live obviously failed, he would die. And he's like, thankfully made it long enough that he lives and he's still alive today, and has HIV treatment to this day, but I worried says we're not thinking on well, how and that medicine is picking winners and losers shitting on some drugs and advocating for other drugs. And that's hard. If you're an industry person, of course, that's not an industry, job industry is to fight for their products and sell their product. And that's a really important thing. Thank God, we had the HIV drug companies, by the way, in addition to the, you know, public research, but we also need an advocacy community that says no, no, we need to fight for a vision of how we're going to deploy that first successful reactor build as well. And I know that this probably may be even worse now that I went into my ACT UP background, but it's, it's the way I think of advocacy. Advocacy is the end of a social engineering, right? It's engineering towards a policy goal, a policy win. And in my mind, we need to have a couple of successful large scale nuclear deployments under our belt in order for us to and that means changing regulatory structures, that does mean fighting for government policy that enables this, but it also means putting pressure on industry as well, to choose and deploy the right technology. Yeah,


Dr. Chris Keefer  1:12:26  

you know, it is interesting, because as you say, this, you know, I'm trying to find, you know, what's the correct analogy in the nuclear world to that community of advocates enact up? And obviously, it's it's analogies fail, I think here entirely, but but like, Okay, what's the what's the next best thing in terms of an example? And, you know, as you mentioned, the companies themselves, they have a different motivation, and God bless the firm's variants that were that are important, right? The industry associations, industry associations, again, imperfect vehicles, in some ways, because they are beholden to those companies. So who does it remain to? I mean, you know, like the, the, this this group of advocates that's going to be showing up at COP 28. You know, these these young, idealistic people, I mean, what are their institutions and again, I mean, I'm really not good at shameless self promotion. But, you know, if you recognize in that decouple as an institution that's contributing to this discourse, feel free to hop on Patreon, or get in touch, figure out how to make a nice big donation because we can sure use it. We can serve you as it were, you know, attempting to grow and I think we offer really important service


James Krellenstein  1:13:40  

folks, that maybe maybe it's somebody even and obviously donate to decouple, you know, 10% of your salary goes


Dr. Chris Keefer  1:13:48  

to future macaroni for for the curling Stein fund. Yeah,


James Krellenstein  1:13:51  

it will pay for my my considering this will be the end of my career, but, you know, so I think more of what we should call for and what the industry has, or one of the most important roles to play here. Right. I mean, we can't do this period, end of story without them. Right. But as advocates, and I'm gonna put my advocacy hat on here, I think we need to be starting discussion. We're fighting more amongst ourselves. Yeah, yeah. And not fighting in the way on Twitter. We hate each other and we're throat, you know, but in the words, having disagreements and saying, Actually, I think it should be this way versus that way. And being okay with us getting in and realizing that when we're fighting with anti nuclear folks, often we're kind of getting distracted sometimes. Yes.


Dr. Chris Keefer  1:14:44  

Yeah. And they're kind of winning,


James Krellenstein  1:14:46  

distracting us, by distracting us. And I want us to think because we're not on a path right now that I am I am worried about the path that we are on right now. And I don't know, you know, maybe I you know, I have a passive. Passive is a hypercar. You know, I have a little bit subtypes, I generally like to think of things realistically. And I think the question needs to be, how do we get our first whether large or small, new nuclear deployed in the United States, and then Western Europe, and in a way, that works really good. And I think, you know, we're all going to Dubai. And here, we have a perfect example of something that really went well, right, you know, the United Arab Emirates deployment, and we think Team Korea for this, right, they deployed that APR 1400. Pretty amazingly. And now there's talk a building to more reactors. And I think if we could have a Baraka like experience in Western Europe or in the United States, that is what I want. Now, maybe, maybe it won't be an APR 1400. Maybe I'm totally wrong, and it will be the new scale deployment. Maybe it will be a BW or X 300 deployment, that'd be great. And we're building those BW x three hundreds in Ontario, and maybe in TVA as well. And I'm not saying that I'm necessarily wrong, I can be completely wrong about what I'm concerned about with small modular reactors. I hope I'm wrong, actually. And when I'm only asking these people say, Come at me, right, you know, if you want to DM me, tweet at me, whatever, we can fight, but do it in a respectful and dignified way. That's ultimately because we both believe in the same objective that we need to be we can be a little bit more controversial and realize that we need some, you know, a little bit of credit criticality here, I'm gonna I'm gonna bring


Dr. Chris Keefer  1:16:50  

this to a Brazilian jujitsu metaphor. Formerly my jujitsu. So Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in particular. I mean, they call it aggressive cuddling. But, you know, basically, it's a bunch of joint locks and chokes, but it happens mostly on the ground water wrestling, that kind of thing. But the forgiving analogy here and perfect as it might be, but, you know, it's interesting because it's in a live martial art versus things like karate, which are very, you know, kata based and constrained by a lot of rules. There's, there's a rule set for sure, in jujitsu, but just the environment and the jujitsu gym, like you're all trying to beat each other so that you can all be better. There's such a, an atmosphere of cooperation and collaboration, of course, like there's ego involved, although, it's a pretty good antidote to ego to have someone who's just trained a bit longer and might be even smaller than you wrap you up, like a doughnut. But yeah, it's this kind of it's highly constructive experience, to, you know, within a nice rule set. And maybe that's just civil discourse. If we're, you know, bringing this analogy back to the advocacy community, it's something that ultimately makes us a lot stronger, like a battle of ideas doesn't need to draw blood. But I agree with you, I think it's it's vitally, vitally important, you know, for for a sector for a patient that's just getting out of the ICU. Not that we need to let me let me, you


James Krellenstein  1:18:07  

know, well, let me give you a couple of questions that I like to throw out to the audience or on the new scale idea to other advocates. Let's put my advocacy hat on here right now. And as one, what are the upsides of the how does the upsides of the new scale design, which I think we all agree, there are many, right? I am particularly the idea of having the entire primary and secondary system in the containment building in a single mass produced manufactured module or two pieces. But that's amazing, right? We can all admit that. But in what, you know, cost benefit calculation does that those benefits outweigh the cost of that particular design? And now you may met, and so that's the first question. The second question would be on the regulatory question, you know, you know, I have a reputation to some of the few people who know who I am right at being somewhat of an NRC defender. And it's not because I actually think the NRC doesn't need actually a lot of reform. I think, of course it does. It's a government bureaucracy, right. That is in you know, 2023 America, right. United States of America. Of course, it needs reform. But what I would argue there is two things. One is is that the NRC is generally not the rate limiting factor for everything. And I think probably a lot of people disagree with me on that. There are problems there but even in cases where we have six, you know, we have active combined operating licenses all over the United States. We're not seeing any builds there. And we've seen simplifications of this process like 52 Especially after we built a plant or two under 52 and a half standard up perfect to understand that process. But okay, let's even imagine you need Those reforms, what reforms the Nuclear Regulatory Commission or maybe the abolition of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, would you imagine to be necessary to make a design at the new scale designed, deployable? And what is the political cost calculation that you're willing to take there? Because I worry a lot. I mean, we talked so much about extreme changes to the nuclear regulatory infrastructure, we forget that that's going to require a huge amount of political capital to get behind us. And we don't have that capital right now. And that's going to have some cost and a lot of also opportunity costs, that's going to be associated with doing that. So I'm trying to imagine just to bring back to the subject of this episode, the new scallops so and you're an advocate, how do you think you would go on maybe I'm, maybe I'm wrong. On an advocacy perspective, I'm trying to think I've been up in the hill a bunch of times on nuclear related issues on Capitol Hill in the United States. I can't imagine how easily it would be going over as saying we have to abolish by federal law, the aircraft Impact Assessment rule. I think there's a lot of things I can go to Congress about, and they're gonna be like, bipartisan support, tell me what we need to do. Show it sign on the dotted line. Yeah, that one, I think will be really politically controversial. It's you agree with that as a much more experienced nuclear deny? Yeah,


Dr. Chris Keefer  1:21:22  

I mean, I think it's back to triage again, thinking tactically, strategically. That's also what guides my my sort of political strategy, you go for the lowest hanging fruit. And, you know, actually the danger up here in Canada, you know, we almost have pan partisan support by nuclear our left wing party, the New Democratic Party is being disciplined by organized labor a recent statement by the interior Federation of Labor, and animus support in our Liberal government, who would have thought, you know, the Greenpeace Minister of Environment and Climate Change, they've done an incredible U turn. I really they've checked all the boxes on my wish list here and you'll go Yeah, guilbeault and then we have the conservatives who are vocally pro nuclear, but you know, our I think trapped in a small government free market fundamentalists mentality. And, you know, they're saying, Get what can we do for the nuclear sector without spending a dime, basically, without get without any involvement beyond you know, cutting red tape and it's just assuming there's all this red tape that will be cut and that's enough. And you know, the message I bring back to them is, that may be enough for natural resource sector might be enough for oil and gas or forestry or whatever else but you know, precision, the precision manufacturing, the nuclear industry is very different, requires a very different approach. And frankly, it's it's it's more complex and difficult, so maybe lower hanging fruits, but but it's it's complex. So I think we're bleeding into another episode. A future episode may be on regulation, NRC. So we'll have to have to cut it here. But I hope again, that this has been fruitful. I've certainly learned a ton. So James, thank you for coming back on decouple.


James Krellenstein  1:22:57  

Thank you for having me, Chris, and to all those people out there who are about to, you know, blacklist me, please don't.


Dr. Chris Keefer  1:23:06  

All right. All right. I hope we're announcing a vision for a new a new way of interacting and new culture to develop. James really excited to meet you in person in Dubai in something like 10 or 11 days. Yeah, maybe we'll record I'm not I'm not going to be embarrassed. Even though Atkins realist. The OEM for CANDU are unveiling the gigawatt scale can do their I've been arguing for ages that they do a 3d mock up because I'm just sick and tired of like, just the social experience of being an even if it's just the Canadian Association Conference, but if you're taking things out on the road, the experience of putting goggles on a single individual and one at a time, you know, walking around a power plant, so different than, you know, being able to gather around with 10 or 15 people and look at a 3d model that can do for me again, I'm horribly biased but it just it looks like this kind of badass, totally integrate.


James Krellenstein  1:23:56  

They they do a great 3d model that you put on VR goggles, okay, but But epwp go old school I


Dr. Chris Keefer  1:24:04  

mean, I get I get carsick or nauseous or motion sick from from those goggles, just again, they have a 3d model they're unveiling I'll leave it there I'm beating a dead horse but they're gonna have it a comp as well. Really excited to see it.


James Krellenstein  1:24:14  

Well, I'm looking forward to meeting you and we'll have dinner some


Dr. Chris Keefer  1:24:18  

beautiful beautiful celebrate James I'm sure we'll we'll see you again. You're on decouple But thanks again.



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