Identifying and Categorizing Risks Incumbent in US Nuclear Power Plant Construction

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In the US, nuclear power plants offer a means of generating power with less carbon emissions and higher efficiency as compared to traditional fossil plants. Because of this, they offer a solution that meets the requirements of the current regulatory environment. While both hydroelectric and nuclear power are attractive from an emissions standpoint, these technologies also include greater risk of cost overruns than other types of power plants, e.g., coal fired, combined cycle, or solar. This paper leverages a robust literature search to collect data about nuclear power plant construction projects in the US, and based on a peer-reviewed risk register, highlights the trends in risk prevalence based on nuclear reactor type, year of construction, and Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) region. This analysis revealed that there was no correlation to NRC region versus risk. Risks are, for the most part, present in all regions without an obvious correlation between region and risk presence or prevalence. The analysis also demonstrates that among the four reactor manufacturers present in the dataset, design risk was the most prevalent risk, and that Westinghouse reactors had the greatest occurrence of risk all together. This paper contributes to the power plant construction body of knowledge by (1) categorizing risks; cited in literature from 50 US nuclear power plant construction projects using an existing peer-reviewed risk register and (2) identifying trends in risks that lead to significant cost overruns over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number02018
JournalJournal of Construction Engineering and Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Industrial relations
  • Strategy and Management


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