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Overnight Cost

This table compares the steel and concrete requirements of a 1 GWe ThorCon with that of a coal plant of the same capacity. The latter numbers assume a medium quality (Powder River Basin) coal. Both plants use the same turbine island, so we can focus on steam generation. The ThorCon nuclear island requires one-sixth as much steel and one third as much concrete as the coal plant boiler, fuel handling, and ash handling systems.

Table 3
Steel and Concrete Required for 1 GW Plant

Steel (metric tons) Concrete (cubic meters)
Steam Power Total Steam Power Total
Generation Conversion Generation Conversion
ThorCon 15,000 18,000 33,000 42,000 43,000 85,000
Coal 91,000 18,000 109,000 135,000 43,000 178,000

Moreover, almost all the ThorCon concrete is non-structural, simply dumped into the steel sandwich walls; while a large part of the coal plant concrete is slow, labor intensive, reinforced concrete. On a resource basis, everything else being equal, the overnight cost of the ThorCon nuclear island should be less than one-third that of the coal plant’s steam generation side.

Of course, everything else is not equal. A 1GW ThorCon requires 1500 tons of very high quality graphite, 1300 tons of SUS 316, 220 tons of the superalloy Haynes 230, 2,500 tons of lead, and 200,000 m3 of excavation. But these and other adjustments add a little more than 100 million dollars to the cost of a 1 GWe plant or about $100/kW. See the Executive Summary for details. Overall the resource cost of the ThorCon nuclear island is less than one-half that of of the coal plant’s steam generation systems, less than a $500 per kW.

ThorCon is cheaper than coal, even before we compare fuel costs.

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