Last updateMon, 19 Aug 2019 4pm

Nuclear Power Industry Heading Toward Smaller, Cheaper Designs

During a recent public meeting, ClearPath executive director Rich Powell told the Nuclear Regulation Commission (NRC) that many of the nuclear industry’s problems can be addressed with more advanced small modular reactors (SMRs).

“Smaller, more advanced reactors offer many advantages over current gigawatt-sized nuclear power plants, such as reduced capital costs, he said. That could tackle one of the industry's key issues: price competitiveness with cheaper gas and renewable resources,” Utility Dive reports.

U.S. Chemical Production Continued to Gain in May

According to the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the U.S. Chemical Production Regional Index (U.S. CPRI) rose by 0.4% in May, following a 0.2% gain in April and a 0.3% decline in March. During May, chemical output was up across all regions except the Ohio Valley, which posted flat growth.

Chemical production was mixed over the three-month period. There were gains in the production three-month moving average (3MMA) output trend in organic chemicals, inorganic chemicals, manufactured fibers, plastic resins, synthetic rubber, other specialty chemicals and industrial gases. These gains were offset by declines in the output of adhesives, fertilizers, crop protection chemicals, consumer products and coatings.

Increased Pipeline Capacity Leads to Oil Production Record

The American Petroleum Institute released its latest Monthly Statistical Report and API Industry Outlook. U.S. crude oil production reached a new all-time high of 12.2 million barrels per day (mb/d) in May 2019 driven by a combination of productivity gains and new pipeline capacity that enabled previously drilled but uncompleted wells (DUCs) to begin supplying product to the market.

Oil Demand a Focus as Economic Sentiment Weakens

According to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Oil Market Report, the focus in the industry is now oil demand as economic sentiment weakens. In May, the OECD published an outlook for global GDP growth for 2019 of 3.2%, lower than IEA's previous assumption. World trade growth has fallen back to its slowest pace since the financial crisis ten years ago.

A clear message from this report is that there is plenty of non-OPEC supply growth available to meet any likely level of demand, assuming no major geopolitical shock, and the OPEC countries are sitting on 3.2 mb/d of spare capacity.

More New Natural Gas Combined-Cycle Power Plants Using Advanced Designs

Lower natural gas prices in recent years have spurred the construction of new natural gas-fired power plants in the U.S. Of the new U.S. natural gas capacity added since 2016, 31% use advanced natural gas-fired combined-cycle (ANGCC) units. Greater use of the new, larger ANGCC designs has led to efficiency gains and economies of scale, which have resulted in reduced capital construction costs. These lower costs are likely to substantially increase ANGCC’s share of new U.S. natural gas capacity additions in future years.

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