Leon Cizelj, JSI: Reactors Could Have Lifespans of Up to 100 Years
Date: January 19th 2021
Author: Alenka Lena Klopčič
The lifespans of research reactors – not unlike power reactors or cars – could be, “technically speaking, almost endless”, says Leon Cizelj, the Head of the Reactor Engineering Division at the Jožef Stefan Institute (JSI), Ljubljana. Does this mean that the life of the Krško nuclear power plant could be extended again after the end of its first lifetime extension, provided that steady investment is made in equipment overhaul and upgrades? In principle, it could be, says the nuclear expert, citing cases from the U.S., where operating licenses have been granted for as many as 80 years to plants with similar characteristics than that in Krško. In its latest video interview (in Slovenian only), Energetika.NET spoke to Cizelj about the future of nuclear energy, starting with research reactors.
On issues in nuclear
On the importance of research reactor for Slovenian (nuclear) energy industry
On nuclear, hydrogen, and other ‘nuclear developments’
“When you have negative electricity prices, any technology applied to use surplus nuclear power is good enough,” said Cizelj, adding that solutions such as using nuclear power to produce hydrogen should be considered in advance, while the project for a new reactor is still being developed.
“Yes, definitely,” confirms Cizelj, adding that generation II nuclear reactors, specifically, are not very good at load following, so it is easiest if they are operated at full capacity at all times. Now that the highly variable renewable power capacity keeps growing, it therefore makes sense to combine nuclear power plants with other technological solutions, including hydrogen production.
As regards the power plants that use nuclear fission, there has been much talk of small modular reactors, with some two hundred start-ups working on this technology globally. Lastly, Cizelj also addressed some other developments in nuclear energy, highlighting the importance of science today in an era faced with the need to move towards sustainability.
This article is available also in Slovene.