The outlook for the existing nuclear fleet is a complicated one. On the one hand, the need for a robust nuclear energy sector has never been greater. The overarching need to transition to a carbon-neutral energy landscape should place nuclear as the favorite to replace coal, natural gas, and oil as the baseline energy source.
On the other hand, while the nuclear industry has been providing reliable, safe power for over sixty years with a carbon-free footprint that makes it a keystone of United States carbon-free energy production, there remain economic forces that challenge its long-term viability. The industry’s unique regulatory environment and lower generation costs associated with fossil fuel plants are both factors, which sit squarely at odds with our climate objectives.
To ensure the continued viability of nuclear energy, we must deepen our understanding of key aspects of nuclear power generation and strive to continuously reduce generation costs using the latest, most effective technologies available.
There is a clear opportunity to apply artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to improve nuclear plant efficiency and costs. AI can be used over a wide arena of nuclear plant operations, from predicting component lifetimes and asset health to understanding core dynamics for more accurate reload planning and economical fuel purchasing.
The nuclear industry is on the precipice of assuming its natural place as the central backbone of carbon-free power. AI will accelerate this ascension and deliver insights and savings at new level.
Check out our feature article in NuclearNews to see how we are helping to make nuclear more competitive with AI-enabled BWnuclear Software Suite. In this article, we detail the application of AI/ML to reload core design. This has been a key player in reducing reload fuel costs, which make up 20% or more of total power generation costs.
NuclearNews is a publication by the American Nuclear Society (ANS). For more information about ANS and its mission, visit https://www.ans.org/.