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The not very rosy future for Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

A year in review: the trends in nuclear construction, Global Construction, By DAN BRIGHTMORE Feb 12, 2018 “……Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) and other kinds of so-called ‘advanced reactors’ continue to be positioned as a solution to the problems confronting nuclear power and the still costly renewal requirements of monolithic reactors. SMRs are nuclear power reactors with an electrical output below 300MWe and distinguishable from large reactors by modular design, with prefabrication in offsite factories and the potential for multiple reactors to be deployed at the same site to create bigger power plants. Proponents claim they will be faster, cheaper and less risky to build while safer to operate than large nuclear plants.

NuScale has claimed that “once approved, global demand for SMR plants will create thousands of jobs during manufacturing, construction and operation” and “re-­establish US global leadership in nuclear technology, paving the way for NRC approval and subsequent deployment of other advanced nuclear technologies”. It predicts “about 5,5­75GWe of global electricity will come from SMRs by 2035, equivalent to over 1,000 NuScale Power Modules”.

However, Danny Roderick, former president and CEO of (now bankrupt nuclear services market leader) Westinghouse, once countered: “The problem I have with SMRs is not the technology, it’s not the deployment – it’s that there’s no customers… The worst thing to do is get ahead of the market.” Currently there are no operational NPPs in the world that can be considered fully-fledged SMRs. Several countries and companies are at different stages in the development of SMR technologies. NuScale is the frontrunner to deliver a SMR in Idaho with the initial operational date of 2024. Meanwhile, mPower (another previous beneficiary of Department of Energy funding to the tune of $80m per year) has been struggling to advance a similar project mooted in Tennessee which was terminated in March last year. Elsewhere, South Korea’s System-Integrated Modular Advanced Reactor (SMART) is the first land based SMR to receive regulatory approval anywhere in the world. However, SMR’s are often found to be too expensive on a per-unit generating-capacity basis which has led to this project being shelved. The words of incoming South Korean premier President Moon echo the sentiments of many world leaders now exploring other forms of energy creation: “We will scrap the nuclear-centred policies and move toward a nuclear-free era. We will eliminate all plans to build new nuclear plants.”….


February 17, 2018 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

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