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Are small nuclear reactors actually small, safe, economic ?

Can Small Nuclear Reactors Really Help The Climate? QuickTake, Jonathan Tirone 27 Nov 2021 (Bloomberg) — Much of the world has been turning away from nuclear power, with its aging plants, legacy of meltdowns and radioactive waste. But some governments, big companies and billionaires including Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are convinced the technology can help save the planet.

1. How small is small? Of the more than 70 such reactors that the International Atomic Energy Agency lists as in some stage of design or development, the smallest are less than 5 meters (16 feet) in diameter and 10 meters in height. (The plant that would be built to operate the reactor would be bigger, of course.) SMRs typically have less than 300 megawatts of generating capacity, about a third of that of existing reactors.

………….  Do SMRs already exist? The only ones currently in commercial operation are two 35-megawatt units on a floating power plant deployed by Russia in the Arctic in 2020. China expects to begin trials in 2026 on an SMR being built near an existing power plant on Hainan island. The first commercial SMR project in the U.S., planned for the site of the Idaho National Laboratory, will consist of six reactors capable of producing a combined 462 megawatts. It’s supposed to be operational by the end of this decade.

……………..  smaller reactors would ideally be located closer to population centers, increasing the possible danger from an accident. And like their larger brethren, SMRs produce radioactive waste that must be stored safely for centuries.
…………..  What are the economic challenges? Cost competitiveness is an uphill climb. U.S. manufacturer NuScale Power LLC, to cite one example, is aiming for an SMR that can sell power for $55 per megawatt-hour. Yet wind power in much of the world is now about $44 a megawatt-hour, solar is $50, and in some regions, renewable energy will be below $20 a megawatt-hour by the end of the decade, according to BloombergNEF. A 2020 study by professors at the University of British Columbia found that on a lifetime basis, the cost of electricity produced by SMRs could be 10 times greater than the cost of electricity produced by diesel fuel.

Who’s investing in SMRs? Electricite de France, China National Nuclear, Japan’s Toshiba and Russia’s Rosatom are pushing SMR designs, as is NuScale. Gates and Buffett have teamed up to build and test a reactor at an abandoned coal plant in Wyoming. Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc raised 455 million pounds ($608 million) to fund the development of SMRs, with almost half of the financing coming from the U.K government.

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November 27, 2021 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

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