Ben Heard

Founder, Bright New World

Ben Heard is arguably Australia’s best recognised and most experienced advocate for the beneficial uses of nuclear technologies. He is a doctoral-qualified energy analyst and modeller (University of Adelaide), who modelled the integration of nuclear and renewable technologies to achieve affordable, reliable electricity supply for the National Electricity Market of Australia. He is also a masters-qualified sustainability professional (Monash University). Ben works as a consultant in the Asset Performance team of Frazer-Nash Consultancy, an international systems engineering firm. In 2016 he founded Bright New World, Australia’s first environmental not-for-profit that openly supports the use of nuclear technologies. Ben has delivered reviews of economic opportunities in the nuclear fuel cycle, proposals for advanced reactor and recycling project appended to used fuel storage, and a review of the environmental performance of the Australian uranium sector. He has authored award-winning and highly-shared peer-reviewed papers discussing the challenges of energy transitions and the role for nuclear technologies. He was a member of the Public Advisory Panel for the siting of Australia’s low-and-intermediate level waste store and repository. He is an environmental advisor to Terrestrial Energy, a Canadian-based developer of the Integral Molten Salt Reactor. Ben is a regular conference fixture at international, national and state fora in nuclear, mining and major projects, discussing contemporary challenges and opportunities in the nuclear sector. A regular contributor to print, radio and TV media, he has also featured as one of the global voices in the film ‘Juice: How Electricity Explains the World’, and brought the world inside the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station on a top rated episode of 60 Minutes. His broader sustainability experience includes renewable energy systems, climate change adaptation and mitigation, sustainable transport, and stakeholder consultation, including economic and business case development with multi-disciplinary teams.

 

Keynote Presentation: True Cost of Small Modular Reactors

Levelised cost of electricity is one of the most commonly deployed metrics to guide the conversation in comparing the costs of different sources of electrical power. However, LCOE is poorly understood outside of specialist circles, provides a limited view of system value, and is determined based on inputs that might be of higher or lower quality and rigour. This seminar reviews the costs recently published for small modular reactors by CSIRO in the GenCost process. We will review the methodology and inputs, vary and in some case correct key assumptions, and demonstrate the impact on levelised cost of electricity. We will examine the ‘value stack’ in relation to SMR nuclear to illustrated the limited insight provided by LCOE when used in isolation. Attendees will come away with an improved understanding of the strengths, weaknesses and pitfalls with using this common metric, and an informed positioned on how it might be applied to an emergent class of technology.

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