Although new and advanced nuclear energy technologies (NETs) could provide reliable electricity and reduce carbon emissions for Department of Defense (DoD) locations, the values of these benefits and the NET's characteristics, costs, and regulations are uncertain. This dissertation proposes a decision framework to help DoD decisionmakers determine whether an investment in an NET is worthwhile.
I developed the framework based on observations from a literature review, a historical analysis of the Army Nuclear Power Program, a site visit to Eielson Air Force Base, and semi-structured interviews with subject matter experts. The steps of the framework articulate why DoD might invest in an NET, characterize each NET of interest, and identify which DoD locations could viably host that NET. The steps also describe how to disclose assumptions, account for uncertainties, and examine risks that could impact an investment in an NET. I scoped the framework to focus on NETs with low power capacities that DoD implements at locations in the United States for the entirety of the NET's lifespan. I demonstrate how to use the framework by applying it to unclassified data, which also produced key findings and recommendations for DoD decisionmakers.
The framework application showed that few DoD locations have a relative average electricity cost greater than an NET's levelized cost of electricity and an average power consumption greater than the NET's power capacity; however, there are some cases (combinations of future scenarios and NETs) with numerous viable location-technology pairs. The data suggests that DoD should abandon the independent pursuit of microreactors with 1-5 MWe power capacity for DoD locations in the United States because the monetary and non-monetary costs are greater than the monetary and non-monetary benefits for DoD. Alternatively, implementing a 17 MWe NET at twenty-one viable DoD locations in the United States could be a worthwhile investment for DoD. Therefore, this dissertation recommends DoD decisionmakers invest in more accurate cost estimates of a 17 MWe NET and perform a more targeted investigation of the twenty-one viable DoD locations.
Table of Contents
History of the Army Nuclear Power Program
Eielson Air Force Base Site Visit
The Proposed Decision Framework
Example of Applying the Framework
Summary of ANPP reactors' lifespan
The Framework Questionnaire (Step 1 through Step 7)
How Scale of Power Impacts NET Cost Estimates
Framework Application: Supplemental Content