Amidst the clamor and increasing world demand for energy, the continued use of fossil fuels for electric power generation has recently emerged as the bane of the industry. Green power is being championed as the new fuel de jour kid on the block. Environmentalists and other global warming advocates are successfully lobbying their political agendas for emission caps, carbon sequestration, NOx and SOx and other greenhouse gas limits. In many cases, these efforts have resulted in the outright cancellation, delay or unit reductions of new coal-fired plants. Similarly, simple and combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) units, popularized during the Enron “gas bubble” era are at the mercy of unstable fuel prices which have, in large part, relegated this generation type from base load to load follow. Wind, biomass, hydro, photovoltaic and other renewables continue to produce an increased percentage of the power base but total contribution remains costly, inefficient and pitifully low. Enter the nuclear renaissance. A dramatic paradigm shift, even by the green power advocates, has allowed the nuclear phoenix to rise with the promise of emission-free power, generation efficiencies, increasing ROI revenues and demonstrating an enviable safety record since TMI and Chernobyl. Assuming this energy source conceives and bears the gestated fruit of a renaissance, the next decade will be telling in terms of the challenges brought forward by licensing, design, financing, construction and operation of a new generation of nuclear power reactors. Paramount among these is a new, time-tested generation of construction materials that will be evaluated to insure a 40 to 60 or even 80 year operational life of these new plants. Consider the problematic copper materials that were chosen during the early 70’s for their high thermal conductivity, competitive cost and ease of fabrication. Contrast these past lessons-learned to current-day, state-of-the-art generation fleet construction standards where demonstrated long-term sustainability coupled with state-of-the-art designs & materials must emerge as the prominent industry players of choice. The paper will examine these and other relevant aspects of the technical and commercial supply chain that is predicted to both challenge and reward designers and material suppliers well into the next decade.

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