Home > Features > Dependable

Dependable

ThorCon is Dispatchable

Not all forms of electricity are created equal as far as the grid is concerned. At the top end are highly reliable and highly dispatchable sources of energy, power that can both be counted on and adjusted quickly to meet changes in demand. Hydropower and aircraft derivative gas turbines are examples. At the other extreme are power sources that are neither reliable nor dispatchable. Since such sources require full or nearly full back up, to have a net positive economic effect, the cost of such electricity must be less than the value of the fuel they save, including any requirement for additional, fuel inefficient, spinning reserve.

ThorCon is by nature a load follower. Due to its negative temperature coefficient, the plant’s power output wants to adjust to the load. ThorCon easily meets the EU requirements for dispatchability.

ThorCon is Reliable

Each 1 GWe ThorCon is broken down into four 250 MWe modules which function independently of each other. Most failures, even major ones, will result in the loss of no more than one-fourth of the plant’s output.

Each module is made up of two sealed primary loops, known as Cans. The two Cans in each module are duplexed, one is operating and the other is in standby or cooldown mode. In many casualties, the plant will be able to switch from the failed Can to the non-operating Can in a matter of hours. Each plant always has a spare Can on-hand.

ThorCon is Fixable

No complex repairs are attempted on site. Everything in the nuclear plant except the building itself is replaceable with little or no interruption in power output. Rather than attempt to build components that last 40 or more years in an extremely harsh environment with nil maintenance, ThorCon is designed to have all key parts regularly replaced. Every four years the entire primary loop is changed out, returned to a centralized recycling facility, decontaminated, disassembled, inspected, and refurbished. Incipient problems are caught before they can turn into casualties. Major upgrades can be introduced without significantly disrupting power generation. Such renewable plants can operate indefinitely; but, if a ThorCon is decommissioned, the process is little more than pulling out but not replacing all the replaceable parts.

Since all active components are designed to be replaced regularly, extended outages from even very major failures should be extremely rare.

NEXT: Clean