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Hartlepool, Trawsfynydd & Small Modular Reactors,

text-SMRsMeanwhile the Wall Street Journal reports that using modular construction techniques for the AP1000 reactor hasn’t worked. Building nuclear reactors out of factory-produced modules was supposed to make construction swifter and cheaper, but costly delays have shaken faith in the new construction method at the two US sites. “Modular construction has not worked out to be the solution that the utilities promised”

NuClearNews August 2015  New energy minister Andrea Leadsom has given the strongest signal flag-UKyet that the Government is looking to support a new era of factory-built, nuclear power stations – with a Newcastle company leading the way on their development in the UK. Speaking at the Nuclear Industry Association conference Ms Leadsom said: “Small Modular Reactors are an option we are investigating further. These have the potential to drive down the cost of nuclear energy and make financing easier through shorter construction times and lower initial capital investment requirements, in addition to high value commercial opportunities.” (1)

 

 

Amidst a growing sense of frustration and hand-wringing over the delays in the current nuclear programme, new hope has emerged that support is on the way for a home-grown generation of Small Modular Reactors (SMR). Newcastle company Penultimate Power, formed by longstanding nuclear power advocate Ian Fells, emeritus professor of energy at Newcastle University, was created in 2012 to develop SMRs. It is the only UK company positioned to do so and wants to develop a manufacturing plant in the region and trial the world’s first SMR on land next to the existing Hartlepool nuclear power plant. (2)

 

 

A feasibility study by the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) was published in December 2014. It concluded that the UK has an opportunity “to regain technology leadership” in SMRs. It said there is a very significant market for SMRs in places where large reactors would be unsuitable and calculates the size of the market to be approximately 65-85 GW of new capacity by 2035, valued at £250-£400 billion, with demand in the UK of around 7 GW by then. (3)

 

 

 

In March 2015 the UK Government responded (4) to a Select Committee report saying that it recognised the long-term potential of SMRs as an additional source of generation, so on the recommendation of NNL it has commissioned a more in-depth analysis to establish the robust evidence base needed to enable a policy decision on SMRs and help Government decide whether it wants to pursue a UK SMR programme. This analysis will look at what is needed to bring SMRs to market, and clarify the economic case. There is already a provisionally agreed schedule which provides for one SMR design – following a selection process and subject to Government policy decisions – to potentially begin a Generic Design Assessment (GDA) in 2017. The Government is expecting one of the eight sites on the Nuclear National Policy Statement to be proposed. (5)

 

 

Trawsfynydd has also been suggested as a site for an SMR. According to the BBC two separate reports have suggested it could be an ideal site for a small reactor. (6)

 

 

Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal reports that using modular construction techniques for the AP1000 reactor hasn’t worked. Building nuclear reactors out of factory-produced modules was supposed to make construction swifter and cheaper, but costly delays have shaken faith in the new construction method at the two US sites. “Modular construction has not worked out to be the solution that the utilities promised”. The new building technique calls for fabricating big sections of plants in factories and then hauling them by rail to power-plant sites for final assembly. The No2NuclearPower nuClear news No.76, August 2015 9 method was supposed to prevent a repeat of the notorious delays and cost overruns that marred the last nuclear construction cycle in the 1980s. It hasn’t worked. Georgia Power Co., a unit of Southern Co. that is building one of the nuclear power plants, reports that construction is three years behind schedule, although it is making steady progress. (7)

 

 

  1. DECC 30th June 2015 https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/andrea-leadsoms-speech-to-the-nuclearindustry-association
  2. The Journal 9th July 2015 http://www.thejournal.co.uk/business/newcastle-company-head-pushcreate-9612055
  3. Small Modular Reactors Feasibility Study, National Nuclear Laboratory, December 2014 http://www.nnl.co.uk/media/1627/smr-feasibility-study-december-2014.pdf(see also World Nuclear News 4th Dec 2014 http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NN-National-Nuclear-Laboratory-urgesUKinvestment-in-SMRs-4121401.html)
  4. Small nuclear power: Government Response to the Committee‘s Fourth Report. Energy & Climate Change Committee, 5th March 2015 http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmselect/cmenergy/1105/1105.pdf
  5. For a briefing on SMRs see http://www.nuclearpolicy.info/docs/nuclearmonitor/NFLA_New_Nuclear_Monitor_No37.pdf
  6. BBC 16th July 2015 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-north-west-wales-33546634
  7. Wall St Journal 27th July 2015 http://www.wsj.com/articles/pre-fab-nuclear-plants-prove-just-asexpensive-1438040802

 

http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo76.pdf

 

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August 1, 2015 - Posted by | technology, UK

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