O&M costs to drop further

3 November 2002

Nuclear plant operations and maintenance (O&M) costs, already at historic lows, are likely to continue to drop. However, fuel and capital expenditures are expected to rise.

Robert Twilley, manager of Framatome ANP's new reactor programmes, said that the average plant is completing outage work "in less time and at less cost". Technology will continue to improve, further lowering costs.

Another area of expense has been the number of staff per unit. Twilley estimated that plants have average levels of 0.7 staff per MWe.

However, Twilley also said that he expected fuel costs to rise by 3-9% over the next five years. He expects capital expenditure to also increase, with some companies spending $250 million per unit for upgrades. This includes $130 million for component replacements, about $40 million for equipment refurbishing, $30 million for new systems, $25 million for system modifications, $20 million for system replacements, and $5 million for material condition upgrades.

Twilley said that he did not expect to see a new US reactor operational before 2010, although he predicted that orders would be placed before that time.

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