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Media is hyping Small Modular Nuclear Reactors , but doubts about them remain

a-cat-CANAll over the media, on matters nuclear, I see these glowing reports on the great future just about to take off – for Small Modular (Nuclear) Reactors (SMRs) . Note that they leave out the word “Nuclear” – knowing that it’s not very popular with us all – the great unwashed.

The arguments are many – from the need for huge amounts of energy (though that’s dubious), to the false claim that SMNRs solve the radioactive trash problem, to the claim that they’ll fix climate change.

But my favourite nuclear lobby argument is the one where they either say directly, or more often imply –  that big nuclear reactors are bad, so therefor Small ones must be good.

SMRs-mirage

Anyway, the mainstream media knows where the money is, in reporting. Even The Guardian wrote up a lovely PR for Small Nukes –  but I noticed that they sneaked in  a few concerns about them:

“…….The first small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) could be operating in the UK by 2030 with the right government support, according to a new report from theEnergy Technologies Institute (ETI).

The analysis, released today by the government and industry-backed energy research body, examined the steps needed to support the first SMR in the UK and concluded a credible schedule for implementation can be set out – as long as a policy framework is developed to reduce risks for SMR developers and increase investor confidence.

Setting out a timeline of key steps that will be required to deliver SMR deployment, the ETI said the UK should clarify and raise awareness of regulatory standards and expectations in the next five years and set out a clear statement of intent in relation to SMR development in the UK by 2024, with the aim to achieve at least one final investment decision by 2025………

-the ETI report argued that despite government support and warm words from ministers there is currently no programme for UK SMR deployment or SMR-specific policies to encourage private sector development.

While advocates of SMRs maintain they can safely bring down the cost of nuclear power and help to support an increasingly decentralised grid, critics argue there is still little evidence the technology will bring down costs where larger reactors have consistently failed to do so and fear they will come with inherent safety risks, which other low carbon sources of power could avoid…..  quoted in The Guardian, 29 Sept

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September 30, 2016 - Posted by | technology, UK

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