A Guide to Constructing a Nuclear Power Plant
At the time of writing, about 20% of the UK's electrical power is generated by nuclear reactors in power plants built across the nation. The government is expecting to retire roughly half of our current nuclear power capacity by 2025, however 2 new plants are still being constructed, and it's expected that there will be a number. The country operates 15 nuclear reactors right now, some of which date back to the 60s and as a result have some volatility issues related to their age. In today's article, we are going to talk about the construction of nuclear power plants and how the next generation of plants in the UK may be built.
First of all, any company seeking to build a nuclear power plant must acquire a license from the relevant authority. In the USA this comes from the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, in the UK you must ask the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Energy. Once you have permission, you need to prospect some appropriate sites for the plant. What makes a site appropriate, you may ask? Well, nuclear reactors require a large amount of water to safely expel the excess heat which they produce while operating. Those who have seen HBO's Chernobyl series will be familiar with how the scientists cooled their graphite-powered reactor with water pools and tanks. Chernobyl is of course not a good guideline for how to build a nuclear reactor, however the water cooling model is still used by many reactors today.
It's important that you clear the area of forests and wildlife as well. If there was to be any sort of radiation leak, local wildlife can become contaminated and spread particles further, which will only result in further spread and cause an ecological disaster. Ultimately all animals suspected of contamination will have to be exterminated, which would be an awful waste of life. Clearing forests will cause the wildlife to relocate elsewhere and will make any radiation leaks far easier to handle. Radiation leaks are unlikely with modern reactors, however they are of course a possibility, and construction companies which plan to build a new power plant must be aware of that.
Constructing a nuclear power plant is not cheap. It was calculated that the capital construction cost of a nuclear power plant is roughly £2,975 for each Kilowatt of energy generated. That means that to build a reactor of 1 Gigawatt, you would be looking at a cost of more than £3 billion. The cost of building the plant is typically higher than the cost of running it, however, so if your company intends to maintain the plant after construction, it won't be as much of a drain on your resources. Consider also the price of wind resistant demarcation, which will be necessary for a proper and safe construction process.
Overall, constructing a nuclear power plant is a costly endeavour. You won't find it easy to get permission from the locals, you'll have to navigate the bureaucratic process of acquiring a license, you need to deal with potential environmental concerns, and you need to safety-proof the entire site as any accidents on site could be disastrous. However, the site's energy and power output will be well worth the cost, and your company will be rewarded handsomely for all the power which your site will produce for your nation.