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Methods and system for siting advanced nuclear reactors and evaluating energy policy concerns...

by Olufemi A Omitaomu, Randall J Belles, Nicholas J Roberts, Andrew Worrall
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Progress in Nuclear Energy
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There is a growing sociopolitical desire to develop cleaner energy sources in the United States and maintain energy security. Regardless of politics, many coal-fired electric plants have already been shut down and many utilities are vowing to retire their current coal-fired assets within the next two decades. Replacement power assets require consideration of appropriate siting. A geographic information system (GIS)-based multicriteria decision analysis approach is useful to assist utility and energy companies, as well as policymakers, to evaluate potential areas for siting new plants in the contiguous United States. A GIS-based framework is simply a database of location information that allows for mapping, querying, modeling, and analyzing data based on location. The spatial output can be structured to be visual, allowing for easier analysis of location data. The need to site additional power assets, including renewable resources and clean power sources, such as nuclear, led to the development of the Oak Ridge Siting Analysis for power Generation Expansion (OR-SAGE) tool discussed in this paper. The tool takes inputs such as population growth, water availability, environmental indicators, and tectonic and geological hazards to provide an in-depth visual analysis for siting options. Energy companies and other stakeholders can use OR-SAGE to procure feedback quickly and effectively on land suitability based on technology specific inputs. Policymakers can use OR-SAGE to analyze the impacts of future energy technology decisions, while balancing competing resource use. This paper discusses the recent use of OR-SAGE for these purposes and plans for future development.