Listed here are publications resulting from some of LucidCatalyst's projects that have materially advanced the field of clean energy and decarbonization, as well as those to which LucidCatalyst has contributed. Click on the image to read more and access the publication.
Capital cost estimation for advanced nuclear power plants
Eric Ingersoll of LucidCatalyst contributed to this MIT study showing how SMR designs leverage five factors that make them more economically competitive than large reactors: 1) multiple units; 2) increased factory production and learning; 3) reduced construction schedules; 4) plant design simplification and 5) unit timing.
Hawkeye State Headwinds: A Case Study of Local Opposition and Siting Challenges for More Wind Energy in Iowa
To understand some of the real-world challenges of decarbonization, ClearPath and LucidCatalyst collected a database of all county-level wind ordinances in Iowa. We then conducted a detailed geospatial downscaling analysis of the Princeton Net-Zero America Project (NZAP) 2050 wind energy projections for each county in Iowa, applying each county’s setback requirements and standards. We qualitatively considered transmission and interconnection issues that could limit clean energy growth of all varieties. Ultimately, the wind development challenges in Iowa are common across the U.S. and should be incorporated into deep decarbonization modeling and clean energy policy.
LucidCatalyst partnered with ClearPath to develop this study, led and implemented by John Herter and Ian Woodhouse of LucidCatalyst. Eric Ingersoll provided the inspiration based on the idea that energy models must realistically reflect the true costs and risks associated with each energy source. Reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 will require a massive infrastructure build-out over the next 28 years, involving deploying enough clean electricity generation to meet all our needs while building the infrastructure necessary to electrify industry and transport along the way. Detailed computer models can optimize for the cheapest paths to achieve net-zero but cannot easily account for the political feasibility of the energy systems they project. Several constraints could limit the future ability to decarbonize, ranging from local opposition to regulatory delays, supply chain issues, and workforce capacity.
Beautiful Nuclear: Driving Deep Decarbonisation
This report by LucidCatalyst shows how nuclear energy helps meet all 17 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. No other electricity generation technology can match this diversity of beneficial impacts. The report argues that the priority for preventing irreversible climate change is decarbonisation, not the creation of energy systems which are 100% dependent on renewables. It is critical to take a whole system approach to the energy transition and for evidence-based decision making. In the context of the increasing urgency to replace fossil fuels, the range of low carbon options must include nuclear.
NUCLEAR TECH HUB: Co-siting cutting edge nuclear facilities with waste management sites
RAD WASTE SOLUTIONS — Spring 2022 issue — Eric Ingersoll of LucidCatalyst co-authored this paper with Charles Forsberg and Jacopo Buongiorno (MIT) — There are large economic and institutional incentives to colocate many fuel cycle facilities with the repository, and also to colocate proposed fission battery factories and nuclear hydrogen/synthetic fuel gigafactories with other waste management facilities (used fuel storage, low-level waste disposal, etc.) to create nuclear technology hubs that create economic savings, generate jobs and tax revenue, and simplify waste management.
Rethinking Deployment Scenarios for Advanced Reactors: Scalable Nuclear Energy for Zero-Carbon Synthetic Fuels & Products (LucidCatalyst for EPRI)
This study, prepared by LucidCatalyst for EPRI, identifies potential deployment paths for using advanced heat sources for producing zero-carbon liquid fuels. Nuclear (fission) technology is an energy-dense, dispatchable, non-emitting, and scalable heat source. We present four conceptual scenarios illustrating how advanced nuclear heat sources can be configured, fabricated, and delivered to participate in and decarbonize global fuel and other commodity markets. The scenarios employ innovative deployment models to substantially reduce project cost, schedule, and risk. The produced commodities are intended to provide drop-in substitutes for large, established markets to minimize or eliminate disruption of an existing supply chain infrastructure and consumer behavior.
Nuclear Law: The Global Debate (International Atomic Energy Agency)
IAEA Director General and leading experts discuss nuclear law-safety, security, safeguards, and liability. This volume focuses on current issues in the field and identifies potential areas for further development. LucidCatalyst's Missing Link report (Missing Link to a Livable Climate: How Hydrogen-Enabled Synthetic Fuels Can Help Deliver Paris Goals) is referenced and discussed in Chapter 6 "The Challenge of Climate Change—Complete Energy Transformation: No Nuclear, No Net Zero," by Tim Stone, and also in Chapter 13 "The Humanitarian Atom: The Role of Nuclear Power in Addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals," by Sam Bilbao y Leon and John Lindberg.
Towards standardized nuclear reactors: Seismic isolation and the cost impact of the earthquake load case (in Nuclear Engineering and Design)
Eric Ingersoll of LucidCatalyst co-authored this important paper about seismic isolation. ABSTRACT: Nuclear energy has a key role to play in global decarbonization. Impediments to the widespread deployment of reactors are their projected high capital cost. The earthquake load case is a key cost driver for a new build nuclear plant, because near-surface soils and seismic hazard are different at each site. To enable deployment at the scale needed for deep decarbonization, the cost and time impact of the seismic load case must be significantly mitigated, and plants must be standardized. Scheme-level designs of two fundamentally different advanced reactor buildings were developed to assemble cost data on the influence of the seismic load case. Standardization of safety-class equipment is made possible by seismic isolation, that is, equipment designed for minimal seismic robustness can resist earthquake shaking at a site of much higher seismic hazard. The average reduction in the capital cost of the safety-related equipment, enabled by seismic isolation, is a factor of two for first-of-a-kind equipment and a factor of five for standardized equipment.
An Assessment of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant for Zero-Carbon Electricity, Desalination, and Hydrogen Production (Stanford Energy report)
The Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in California, the only one still operating in the state, is set to close in 2025. Eric Ingersoll and Justin Aborn of LucidCatalyst joined a team of researchers at MIT’s Center for Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems, Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab, and Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research; Stanford’s Precourt Energy Institute; to analyze the potential benefits the plant could provide if its operation were extended to 2030 or 2045.
Superhot Rock Geothermal: A Vision for Zero-Carbon Energy “Everywhere” (CATF report)
Superhot rock (SHR) has been called the “holy grail” of geothermal energy—because, in most of the world, SHR could provide competitive, zero-carbon, dispatchable power and support zero-carbon hydrogen fuel production. It is one of the very few high-energy-density, zero-carbon resources that could replace fossil energy around the globe. John Herter and Eric Ingersoll of LucidCatalyst contributed to this important Clean Air Task Force (CATF) report.
Nuclear Cognition: Public attitudes, elite opinion, and the next generation of nuclear energy communications (Breakthrough Institute report)
Kirsty Gogan was a reviewer on this important report about restarting the conversation about nuclear energy, which will require the right audience, messengers, messages, and technology. Nuclear energy has been broadly misunderstood by the public, who are apt to conflate nuclear energy with nuclear weapons, associate it with fossil fuels, and overestimate the risks associated with nuclear accidents and waste disposal. They also underestimate how much energy nuclear produces, its environmental benefits, and its remarkable record of safe operation.
Decarbonising Hydrogen in a Net Zero Economy
Urenco published the findings from an independent study that it initiated with Aurora Energy Research to investigate the benefits of deploying both nuclear and renewables in hydrogen production, to support the energy transition and meet UK climate targets. To facilitate rapid decarbonisation and cut dependency on fossil fuels, both nuclear and renewables are needed for power and hydrogen production. The report was supported by the IAEA, EDF and LucidCatalyst.
UK Energy System Modelling: Net Zero 2050
LucidCatalyst contributed to this ground-breaking new modelling report just published by NNL demonstrating the role nuclear can play in delivering the UK’s net zero goals. This is the first time that such diverse, scalable and low-cost applications for nuclear technologies have been fully represented across the whole energy system.
Advanced Reactor Economics and Markets
Authors Forsberg and Ingersoll write that the viability of nuclear power ultimately depends on economics. The most important factor is an efficient supply chain, including on-site construction practices. This is the basis for the low capital cost of light water reactors from China and South Korea. The design can significantly affect capital cost through its impact on supply chain. The question is, how can advanced reactors boost revenue and reduce cost?
Missing Link to a Livable Climate: How Hydrogen-Enabled Synthetic Fuels Can Help Deliver Paris Goals
Our report shows that it’s not too late to still meet the Paris goals – but only if we are prepared to make major investments in clean hydrogen production. There is simply no other way to make the numbers add up – this truly is the missing link we need to maintain a liveable climate on this planet.
Driving deeper decarbonization with nuclear energy
By Eric Ingersoll and Kirsty Gogan, IAEA Bulletin. The Clean Energy Ministerial Flexible Nuclear Campaign we co-founded explores the expanded role that nuclear energy can play in de-risking the energy transition. Here, we describe two opportunities to drive deeper decarbonization with nuclear energy: 1) expand role of nuclear energy in electricity production through a combination of advanced reactors and thermal energy storage to complement renewables in future energy grids; 2) address the use of oil and gas by providing large-scale, low-cost hydrogen produced with nuclear power.
Managing Drivers of Cost in the Construction of Nuclear Plants
In this article, published in the The Bridge (National Academy of Engineering), authors Eric Ingersoll, Kirsty Gogan, and Giorgio Locatelli describe how the US nuclear sector can shift to standardized products with replicable designs delivered by consistent, experienced suppliers, as demonstrated by experience in other countries.
Clean Energy Ministerial NICE Future Initiative Flexible Nuclear Campaign Report
The LucidCatalyst team was honored to be invited to write both the NGO Foreword (with Energy for Humanity and ClearPath Foundation) as well as a dedicated chapter in the report focused on flexible advanced reactors in future energy grids and innovative new hydrogen production facilities.
The ETI Nuclear Cost Drivers project: Full Technical Report
Energy Systems Catapult has just released the full technical report from the Energy Technologies Institute Nuclear Cost Drivers (ETI NCD) project by LucidCatalyst. This report demonstrates a credible path for nuclear energy to become a competitive Net Zero solution alongside renewables.
Drivers of Cost and Risk in Nuclear New Build Reflecting International Experience
In 2018 LucidCatalyst led the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) Nuclear Cost Drivers Study (NCD) suggesting that UK nuclear new build has very significant cost and risk reduction potential. The 30% Cost Reduction Working Group therefore commissioned LucidCatalyst to apply the insights gained in the ETI NCD Study to produce this short report.
Cost and Performance Requirements for Flexible Advanced Nuclear Plants in Future U.S. Power Markets
A new study by LucidCatalyst for the ARPA-E MEITNER program is the first to derive the highest allowable capital cost for advanced reactors across four of the major power markets in the US in 2034. Advanced reactors that cost less than $3,000/kW will be attractive investments, and create the most value for plant owners. The study shows how advanced reactors can complement wind and solar. Together, these technologies drive down costs, reduce emissions, and improve performance in future U.S. electricity grids.
Assessment of the Sustainability of Nuclear Power for the EU Taxonomy Consultation 2019
LucidCatalyst and its partners created this report for the European Commission Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance, as well as for the international investment and financing community, to help them fairly and robustly evaluate the overall sustainability of nuclear energy as an investment. Our central finding is that nuclear energy is a sustainable energy investment.
Advancing Nuclear Innovation: Responding to Climate Change and Strengthening Global Security
This report is a culmination of meetings and effort from Partnership for Global Security and the Nuclear Energy Institute under the Global Nexus Initiative. Advanced nuclear reactors, the smaller, flexible, and innovative nuclear technologies of the future, are rising in importance as the global community grapples with the vital challenges of cutting carbon emissions, supporting the global demand for electric power, and ensuring the continued peaceful use of nuclear energy in the 21st century. LucidCatalyst contributed.
Nuclear Power in a Clean Energy System: A Key Source of Low-Carbon Power
Kirsty Gogan contributed to this report, which focuses on the role of nuclear power in advanced economies and the factors that put nuclear power at risk of future decline. It is shown that without action, nuclear power in advanced economies could fall by two-thirds by 2040. The implications of such a “Nuclear Fade Case” for costs, emissions and electricity security using two World Energy Outlook scenarios – the New Policies Scenario and the Sustainable Development Scenario are examined.
Clean Growth Through Innovation – The Need for Urgent Action
The UK’s Nuclear Innovation & Research Advisory Board (Nirab) has recommended that the UK Government should consider investing up to GBP1 billion (USD1.3 billion) between 2021 and 2025 to boost the progress of innovation in the nuclear energy sector.
Stakeholder Engagement Curriculum for IAEA
LucidCatalyst created a Stakeholder Engagement Curriculum for newcomer countries on behalf of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The workshop aims to provide a basic grounding in the concepts and best practices of stakeholder involvement for a broad variety of participants, drawn from around the globe and across the full range of nuclear activities.
The Future of Nuclear Energy in a Carbon-Constrained World: An Interdisciplinary MIT Study
A fresh look at nuclear, given advances in inherently safer technologies, a sharpened focus on the need to reduce CO2 emissions in the energy sector, and challenges of cost and public perceptions of safety. LucidCatalyst's Eric Ingersoll and Andrew Foss contributed.
Net-zero emissions energy systems (in Science)
Eric Ingersoll of LucidCatalyst co-authored this paper in Science. Some parts of the energy system are particularly difficult to decarbonize, including aviation, long-distance transport, steel and cement production, and provision of a reliable electricity supply. Current technologies and pathways show promise, but integration of now-discrete energy sectors and industrial processes is vital to achieve minimal emissions. Some energy services and industrial processes—such as long-distance freight transport, air travel, highly reliable electricity, and steel and cement manufacturing—are particularly difficult to provide without adding carbon dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere. Rapidly growing demand for these services, combined with long lead times for technology development and long lifetimes of energy infrastructure, make decarbonization of these services both essential and urgent. We examine barriers and opportunities associated with these difficult-to-decarbonize services and processes, including possible technological solutions and research and development priorities. A range of existing technologies could meet future demands for these services and processes without net addition of CO2 to the atmosphere, but their use may depend on a combination of cost reductions via research and innovation, as well as coordinated deployment and integration of operations across currently discrete energy industries.
The ETI Nuclear Cost Drivers Project: Summary Report
Delivered by LucidCatalyst for the ETI, the purpose of this project was to use a data led approach, informed by the cost base of water-cooled power reactors, to identify the cost drivers within historic, contemporary, and advanced reactor designs to support investment in new nuclear power and its role in the UK’s future, low carbon energy system.