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GE Hitachi group announce contract for grid-scale small nuclear reactor, requiring large taxpayer subsidy .

GE Hitachi and 3 partners announce first commercial contract for grid-scale SMR in North America.Utility Dive 30 Jan 23

Dive Brief:

  • An energy and construction partnership announced Friday an agreement to build what it says will be the first grid-scale small modular reactor in North America. Terms were not disclosed.
  • GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, Ontario Power Generation, SNC-Lavalin and Aecon Group signed a contract to deploy a BWRX-300 small modular reactor at OPG’s Darlington New Nuclear Project site in Clarington, Ontario.

…………………………………….. Critics say SMRs, which are advanced nuclear reactors with a power capacity of up to 300 MW(e), according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, are financially feasible only because of large taxpayer subsidies. Detractors also say solar and wind power, which do not produce waste, can be deployed more quickly than SMRs.


January 31, 2023 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

As SMR developer X-energy moves to go public, merger partner Ares cautions investors about risks

Utility Dive Stephen Singer, Editor, Jan. 27, 2023

Dive Brief:

  • The partner in a merger with a small modular nuclear reactor developer going public has cautioned investors that changing markets and a “limited operating history” may ultimately be unfavorable to the business.

  • Ares Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company, warned in an S-4 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Wednesday of “limited operating experience for reactors of this type, configuration and scale” that could lead to higher than expected construction costs, maintenance requirements, operating expenses or changes in the timing of delivery. X Energy Reactor Co. announced the merger in December.
  • The market for SMRs generating electric power and high-temperature heat is not yet established and “may not achieve the growth potential we expect or may grow more slowly than expected,” Ares said. It’s backed by private equity firm Ares Management Corp.

Dive Insight:

The S-4 filing, which provides a preliminary proxy statement and spells out details of the renamed X-Energy business and market risks, provides boilerplate cautions to investors who require transparency and discussion of as many potential risks as possible. It highlights challenges in a still-emerging industry. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Jan. 19 certified NuScale Power’s SMR design, the first of its type to win federal approval………………………………

Ares said the market for SMRs, and particularly for SMRs using advanced nuclear technologies such as those employed in the Xe-100 — an 80 MWe reactor that can be scaled into a ‘four-pack’ 320 MWe power plant — has not yet been established. SMRs using advanced nuclear technologies have not been proven at scale, it said……………………..

Ares also warned that it may not attract customers for its SMR technology — a “relatively new and unproven technology” — as quickly as it expects, “or at all,” and acquiring customers may be more expensive than it currently anticipates.

In addition, Ares said the time and funding needed to bring X-energy’s nuclear fuel, TRISO-X, to market at scale may “greatly exceed” expectations………………….

Critics of SMRs have raised issues nearly identical to what Ares cited, calling out the reactors over the projected cost and time needed for siting and other approvals.

“Small modular reactors may be viable one day, but they are not today, will not be tomorrow and may never make as much economic sense as renewable sources of electricity,” the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis says. “We should stick to carbon-free energy sources that make financial and environmental sense.”………. more

January 29, 2023 Posted by | business and costs, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Rolls Royce wants to make sure that the tax-payer cops the cost of their small nuclear reactor folly

Rolls-Royce calls on government for more clarity on nuclear.

Executives of the engineering giant have cited Britishvolt as an example of a company which committed to a factory without having orders.

Dimitris Mavrokefalidis

Rolls-Royce has urged the government to provide more clear vision of its target to roll out 24GW of nuclear power generation by 2050.

During a session at the House of Commons Welsh Affairs Committee, asked when Rolls-Royce will start the process of building its first Small Modular Reactor factory, Alastair Evans, Director of Corporate and Government Affairs at Rolls-Royce SMR, said: “If you look at the Britishvolt example, that is an example of a company that committed to a factory without orders. We don’t have clarity on orders in the UK.

“So, as soon as we have that clarity that the UK Government wants to deploy Rolls-Royce SMRs, we will be able to get the first factory moving, but our shareholders need that clarity. Britishvolt is a very good example of where you try and run a business and build a factory and get things moving without that certainty, orders and customers.”

A few days ago, company representatives visited the first four sites which have the potential to host 15GW of new nuclear power capacity.

Mr Evans confirmed that once Rolls-Royce receives the green light from the government, then the whole process around the development of its first SMR facility will accelerate.

He said: “That was the purpose of doing our planning processes, getting the selection of our heavy pressure vessel sites – we’ve got 600 people in the Rolls-Royce SMR business today. So we are set up to deliver at pace. We are 600 UK-based workers looking at manufacturing, assembly, lead skills, and module concept. We are ready to go.” 

January 28, 2023 Posted by | business and costs, politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK | Leave a comment

Former DEA Nuclear Security Official Says Wyoming Reactor Not Safe

the sodium reactor planned for Kemmerer has a high degree of potential for explosive accidents and proliferation of nuclear weapons material.

Sodium reacts with water and air, which Tallen said poses a huge risk for accidents.

Cowboy State Daily, By Kevin Killough, State Energy Reporter  January 25, 2023January 25, 2023 

When TerraPower and PacifiCorp announced in November 2021 that they had selected Kemmerer as the location of its Natrium reactor demonstration project, many welcomed the opportunity as a path to a diverse energy economy for Wyoming.  

In the next few months, TerraPower plans to break ground on a sodium testing project for the larger demonstration project. If the reactor design is proven, it would provide lots of carbon-free energy and provide a viable replacement for retiring coal plants in the state, TerraPower said. 

Wapiti resident Bill Tallen had a 20-year career with the Department of Energy that was focused on the threat posed by terrorists who sought ways to create improvised nuclear devices.

Tallen argues that the sodium reactor planned for Kemmerer has a high degree of potential for explosive accidents and proliferation of nuclear weapons material. Henry Sokoloski, executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC), which is based in Washington D.C., has a lot of the same concerns.  

Jeff Navin, director of external affairs with TerraPower, says these concerns have been considered and addressed as much as reasonably possible in the project’s design and development.  

Not Opposed To Nuclear 

Tallen said he’s not ideologically opposed to nuclear power. He said he rubbed elbows with that crowd years ago, but it’s not where he stands today.  

“The distrust of nuclear power is one of the major ideological tenets of left-wing, anti-establishment politics,” Tallen said. “I had to say to them, I can’t agree with you on many of your basic assumptions. I’m just saying that this particular [Natrium] technology pursued the way it is right now – I don’t think it’s a good idea.”  

Reaction Risk  

The Natrium reactor being built in Kemmerer uses sodium instead of water as a heat sink for the reactor core. That heat will then be transferred to water, which will produce steam to turn turbines.  

Sodium reacts with water and air, which Tallen said poses a huge risk for accidents.  

“There’s never been a sodium reactor that has actually met its promises. They’ve all had leaks and fires and explosions and toxic releases,” Tallen said. “Granted, in America we haven’t had big problems, but the past is not always prologue. The risk is still there.”  ……………………

Plutonium And Proliferation 

Sokolski with NPEC said these reactors produce plutonium during the fission process.  

“The plutonium produced in these machines isn’t just weapons usable. It isn’t even weapons grade. It’s super weapons grade,” Sokolski said.  

The Natrium reactors run on high-assay low-enriched uranium, known commonly as HALEU. It’s currently produced only in Russia, and due to the invasion of Ukraine, supplies of the material are scarce. This has led to a delay in the Kemmerer project.   

Tallen said that as these reactors grow and more HALEU is produced, it’s just inviting a nation like Iran to find sources of the material, which can be enriched to weapons-grade with the right facilities.  

“These are parties that do in fact have, or can construct, enrichment capabilities and will not be concerned by U.S. export restrictions,” Tallen said.  ………………………..

January 25, 2023 Posted by | safety, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Canadian MP Charlie Angus Questions the Claims of SMRs (Small Modular Reactors)

Proponents of SMRs are on a major spin campaign. None of them have been approved for licensing. The Toronto Star calls them a “boutique boondoggle”. The IPCC raises serious questions about the dangers of nuclear proliferation. Chris Keefer is their big proponent. Here is the exchange at the Natural Resources Committee.

  “Proponents of SMRs are on a major spin campaign. None of them have
been approved for licensing. The Toronto Star calls them a “boutique
boondoggle”. The IPCC raises serious questions about the dangers of
nuclear proliferation.”

January 23, 2023 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

U.S. approves design for NuScale small modular nuclear reactor, but significant problems remain.

By Timothy Gardner WASHINGTON, Jan 20 (Reuters) – The U.S. nuclear power regulator has certified the design for the NuScale Power Corp’s (SMR.N) small modular reactor, the first such approval in the country for the next generation technology.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s approval, published in the Federal Register late on Thursday, clears a hurdle for NuScale. The company plans to build a demonstration small modular reactor (SMR) power plant at the Idaho National Laboratory. NuScale says the six-reactor, 462 megawatt Carbon Free Power Project will be fully running in 2030.

There are significant questions about rising costs of the demonstration plant, expected to provide electricity to the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS). NuScale said this month the target price for power from the plant is $89 per megawatt hour, up 53% from the previous estimate of $58 per MWh.

Backers of next generation reactors including President Joe Biden’s administration and many Republican lawmakers, say they are crucial in curbing climate change. NuScale says they will be safer than today’s far larger conventional reactors, but the reactors, like conventional nuclear plants, are expected to produce highly toxic waste, for which no permanent fix has been developed.

The U.S. Department of Energy has provided more than $600 million since 2014 to support the design, licensing and siting of NuScale’s power plant and other small modular reactors. NuScale and other companies that succeed in building next generation reactors could receive for the first time lucrative production tax credits contained in last year’s Inflation Reduction Act signed by Biden……………..

NuScale also hopes to build SMRs in Romania, Kazakhstan and Poland, despite concerns from nuclear safety experts who say Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and occupation of the Zaporizhzhia plant should make the industry think seriously about developing plants in the region.

January 21, 2023 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Uncertainty over government funding for Rolls Royce’s small nuclear reactors

 Concerns have been raised that the rollout of small modular reactors
(SMRs) in the UK could be delayed due to funding challenges. According to
The Times, a funding deal for the first fleet of mini nuclear reactors is
not expected to materialise for at least another 12 months, with a row
ongoing in government over the cost of Britain’s wider nuclear ambitions.

Going forward, SMRs, alongside large-scale nuclear plants, are seen as a
crucial tool in the country’s battle against the energy crisis and drive
towards net zero.

The government established a new body called Great British Nuclear (GBN) in conjunction with the release of its energy
security strategy with the aim of facilitating the growth of nuclear power on the grid.

However, Whitehall sources have now revealed that there
remains uncertainty over the government’s SMR investment plans. Rolls-Royce
has called for ministers to enter funding talks and start placing orders.
The firm is planning on building SMR power stations and recently announced
three shortlisted locations for its proposed factory and four potential
sites for the SMR plants themselves.

 New Civil Engineer 9th Jan 2023

A plan to build a fleet of mini nuclear reactors across the UK could be
delayed by at least another 12 months amid a row in the government over the
cost of Britain’s nuclear power ambitions. The Sunday Times cited sources
stating that there was still a large degree of uncertainty over the scale
of state investment in small modular reactors (SMRs).

 Energy Live News 9th Jan 2023

January 15, 2023 Posted by | business and costs, politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK | Leave a comment

Eye-popping new cost estimates released for NuScale small modular reactor

January 11, 2023 David Schlissel

Key Findings

NuScale and the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) announced costs of a 462-megawatt small modular reactor (SMR) have risen dramatically

As recently as mid-2021, the target price for power was pegged at $58 per megawatt-hour (MWh); it’s risen to $89/MWh, a 53% increase.

The price would be much higher without $4 billion federal tax subsidies that include a $1.4 billion U.S. Department of Energy contribution and a $30/MWh break from the Inflation Reduction Act

The higher target price is due to a 75% increase in the estimated construction cost for the project, from $5.3 to $9.3 billion dollars

Last week, NuScale and the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) announced what many have long expected. The construction cost and target price estimates for the 462-megawatt (MW) small modular reactor (SMR) are going up, way up.

From 2016 to 2020, they said the target power price was $55/megawatt-hour (MWh). Then, the price was raised to $58/MWh when the project was downsized from 12 reactor modules to just six (924MW to 462MW). Now, after preparing a new and much more detailed cost estimate,  the target price for the power from the proposed SMR has soared to $89/MWh.

Remarkably, the new $89/MWh price of power would be much higher if it were not for more than $4 billion in subsidies NuScale and UAMPS expect to get from U.S. taxpayers through a $1.4 billion contribution from the Department of Energy and the estimated $30/MWh subsidy in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). 

It also is important to remember that the $89/MWh target price is in 2022 dollars and substantially understates what utilities and their ratepayers actually will pay if the SMR is completed. For example, assuming a modest 2% inflation rate through 2030, utilities and ratepayers would pay $102 for each MWh of power from the SMR—not the $89 NuScale and UAMPS want them to believe they will pay.

The 53% increase in the SMR’s target power price since 2021 has been driven by a dramatic 75% jump in the project’s estimated construction cost, which has risen from $5.3 billion to $9.3 billion. The new estimate makes the NuScale SMR about as expensive on a dollars-per-kilowatt basis ($20,139/kW) as the two-reactor Vogtle nuclear project currently being built in Georgia, undercutting the claim that SMRs will be cheap to build.

NuScale and UAMPS attribute the construction cost increase to inflationary pressure on the energy supply chain, particularly increases in the prices of the commodities that will be used in nuclear power plant construction.

For example, UAMPS says increases in the producer price index in the past two years have raised the cost of:

  • Fabricated steel plate by 54%  
  • Carbon steel piping by 106%  
  • Electrical equipment by 25%  
  • Fabricated structural steel by 70%  
  • Copper wire and cable by 32%

In addition, UAMPS notes that the interest rate used for the project’s cost modeling has increased approximately 200 basis points since July 2020. The higher interest rate increases the cost of financing the project, raising its total construction cost.

Assuming the commodity price increases cited by NuScale and UAMPS are accurate, the prices of building all the SMRs that NuScale is marketing—and, indeed, of all of the SMR designs currently being marketed by any company—will be much higher than has been acknowledged, and the prices of the power produced by those SMRs will be much more expensive.

Finally, as we’ve previously said, no one should fool themselves into believing this will be the last cost increase for the NuScale/UAMPS SMR. The project still needs to go through additional design, licensing by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, construction and pre-operational testing. The experience of other reactors has repeatedly shown that further significant cost increases and substantial schedule delays should be anticipated at any stages of project development.

The higher costs announced last week make it even more imperative that UAMPS and the utilities and communities participating in the project issue requests for proposal (RFP) to learn if there are other resources that can provide the same power, energy and reliability as the SMR but at lower cost and lower financial risk. History shows that this won’t be the last cost increase for the SMR project.

David Schlissel ( is IEEFA director of resource planning analysis


January 15, 2023 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | 1 Comment

Japan and USA to develop small nuclear reactors”within each country and third countries.”

Japan and the United States agreed Monday to strengthen bilateral
cooperation on developing next-generation nuclear reactors during
ministerial talks on energy.

Japanese industry minister Yasutoshi Nishimura
and U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm also agreed during their
meeting that Tokyo and Washington will work more closely on securing
liquefied natural gas and other energy security matters.

According to a
joint statement, Japan and the United States will step up cooperation in
developing and constructing next-generation advanced reactors, including
small modular reactors, “within each country and third countries.” The two
governments already revealed a plan in October to work together on helping
Ghana introduce small nuclear reactor technology.

 Kyodo News 10th Jan 2023

 The US and Japan have agreed to strengthen cooperation on developing and
constructing next-generation advanced reactors, including small modular
reactors, “within each country and third countries”. Japan’s industry
minister Yasutoshi Nishimura and US energy secretary Jennifer Granholm met
in Washington to discuss the situation surrounding global energy security,
strengthening clean energy cooperation, and the importance of clean energy
transitions, including renewable energies and nuclear energy.

 Nucnet 11th Jan 2023

January 13, 2023 Posted by | Japan, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

The problem with nuclear energy advocates

There is something curiously bewitching about nuclear power that makes its backers disciples rather than advocates. They become nuclear champions first rather than energy champions (which is what everyone should be), and are either unaware of or intentionally ignoring the fact that most of the time, they are putting their efforts into a solution that is looking for a problem.

ROUGH TRADE, By Ben Kritz, January 10, 2023

I WAS asked over the weekend if I planned to respond to a recent letter to the editor (“SMR issues addressed,” published on January 5), which said it was a reaction to my December 29 column about small modular reactor (SMR) technology and the problems that have been encountered in trying to make it commercially practical.

No, I responded, I had not planned to react to the letter because I could not see much in it to actually react to; while polite and thoughtful, it essentially boiled down to the same long-on-enthusiasm and short-on-specifics kind of pitch for SMR technology I see every day.

Maybe that’s exactly the point you need to address, my annoying yet helpful self-appointed consultant suggested.

I realized she’s right; there’s a bigger problem with nuclear energy and its advocates than just the technical and economic details that make it difficult to develop and use. There is something curiously bewitching about nuclear power that makes its backers disciples rather than advocates. They become nuclear champions first rather than energy champions (which is what everyone should be), and are either unaware of or intentionally ignoring the fact that most of the time, they are putting their efforts into a solution that is looking for a problem.

For the record, my December 29 column dealt with two more exotic forms of SMR technology, the traveling wave reactor (TWR) and the Natrium reactor; the basic difference between the two being that the latter uses uranium fuel that is enriched to a concentration that is four or five times what is used in a conventional reactor, and the former is designed to use unenriched or depleted uranium fuel. For a variety of reasons, both of those technologies are at least eight to 10 years from even being functional, and whether or not they can be made economical at all is still an open question.

The discussion about the less extreme and more common form of SMR technology was in the column prior to that, on December 27, and detailed obstacles with the development of commercial-ready SMRs that have been identified through actually trying to build an SMR plant, on the one hand, and a couple of reliable studies by nuclear experts (Stanford University and the Argonne National Laboratory) on the other.

The first obstacle is cost. A plant being constructed in rural Idaho by SMR developer NuScale — which is designed to eventually consist of six 77-megawatt units — has run into massive cost overruns, despite the assumption that SMRs are relatively inexpensive due to being smaller and simpler than conventional nuclear plants. NuScale is hoping to have the first of the six units online by 2029, but the per-megawatt-hour cost of the plant has hit $58, the threshold set by the consortium of six utilities in the western US which are financing the project to decide whether or not to continue.

The reason for this is that at that cost, there are already a variety of conventional and renewable energy generation sources available, so there is nothing to be gained by building the SMR complex, no matter how cutting-edge its technology may be.

The second obstacle is waste management. Again, because SMRs are smaller and less complex than conventional nuclear power plants, it is assumed that they would produce less radioactive waste, both of the more dangerous high-level variety in the form of spent fuel and the low-level variety in the form of wastewater and contaminated discarded equipment and other materials. 

This, however, is not the case, according to the Stanford and Argonne studies, both published last year. Both studies found the same result, that SMRs produce about as much waste as conventional light-water reactors, but differed in their subjective interpretation. The Stanford researchers concluded that this contraindicated the use of SMRs since they do not offer any improvement in waste management, while Argonne’s lead scientist suggested that the result was more positive, as it demonstrated using SMRs wouldn’t be any worse than conventional nuclear power.

Contrary to our recent reader-correspondent’s assertions, neither of those issues — the only two I focused on concerning SMRs, because they are not hypothetical, but demonstrated by real-world experience or analysis — are “addressed” at all by what he presented, which is “a unique approach to SMRs” being developed by an unnamed enterprise only identified as being Seattle-based. The design, according to him, uses “widely available, cheap low-enriched uranium” (as I have pointed out more than once, except for reactors running on exotic fuel like the Natrium, fuel is actually the least of the cost issues for a nuclear plant);  do not need to be refueled (are they then considered disposable?); and “are safe enough that their ‘plug-and-play’ generators can be placed anywhere with little infrastructure investment and without any special security.”

As for the application of this mysterious miracle technology in the Philippines, the company in question is “confident that they can satisfy all the requirements of the Philippine government regulators, the power companies and the public. They could even achieve the objective of having the current president preside over the ribbon-cutting ceremony before he leaves office.”

First of all, if the developer of this game-changing technology has created something that is ready enough that they are actively seeking a foothold in the Philippine market, one would think that they would be willing, even eager, to be clearly identified. I suspect I know who it is, and if I’m right, I’m going to be very disappointed because then this sly press release in the form of a letter to the editor (and yes, that’s exactly what it is; I get three or four press releases a day from different companies or trade publications that sound exactly like this) doesn’t even begin to answer questions that have already been raised about this specific company’s technology.

Second, even if this is just a standard-design SMR, we already know that a commercial version in its own country of origin will not be operational by the time President Marcos steps down, let alone be available to the Philippines. Local requirements might indeed be satisfied, but before that can even happen, the hoops that both US and Philippine stakeholders will have to jump through in order to secure export authorization from the US government — with the resulting agreement also needing approval from the Philippine Senate, the sort of thing it never acts quickly on — will take a couple of years at a minimum.

The Philippines could use nuclear energy, and it’s rational not to completely discount the future possibility of its doing so, provided a very long list of conditions are satisfactorily met. But it is in no position to serve as a test site for novel ideas that have been clearly demonstrated to be years from being a viable, let alone a practical, best option. Trying to mislead the public into believing that a magical solution is available for the asking — proselytizing for nuclear energy, rather than seeking actual attainable solutions for the country’s rather more immediate energy problems — is going to achieve very little, except to disappoint people and ensure this won’t be a market for whatever you’re selling.

January 9, 2023 Posted by | Philippines, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Holtec seeks $7.4 billion government loan for expansion tied to new reactor

an outrageous pickpocketing of hardworking American taxpayers to benefit a filthy rich private company.”

Jim Walsh, Cherry Hill Courier-Post, 9 Jan 23  

CAMDEN – Holtec International Inc. has applied for a $7.4 billion federal loan to fund expansion expected from future sales of a company-designed nuclear reactor.

Holtec would tap the loan to boost capacity to make parts at its existing U.S. facilities, and to build and commission “at least four” SMR-160 advanced light water reactors.

It also expects to build “one or more additional manufacturing plants,” the company said.

Holtec added it’s “actively evaluating” potential sites “for the new ultra-modern manufacturing plant(s).”

The firm has three nuclear manufacturing facilities in the United States, including one at its Camden corporate campus that was designed for the eventual production of SMR-160s. It also has a fabrication plant in India.

Holtec claims its small modular reactor produces carbon-free energy more safely than a conventional nuclear power plant.

The firm has invested more than $400 million in the reactor’s development since 2010. It was approved in 2020 for $116 million in federal aid “to support the SMR-160’s commercialization readiness.”

Holtec is seeking the loan from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office, which received an infusion of about $111 billion from last year’s Inflation Reduction Act.

“We anticipate that (the application process) will be ongoing for a while as DOE usually (has requests) for information or clarifying questions for an applicant,” said Holtec spokesman Patrick O’Brien………………….

Holtec also said it expects the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission “early this year” will license its planned nuclear-waste storage facility in New Mexico.

The complex, in the works for seven years, could hold “the vast quantity of spent nuclear fuel presently stored at more than 70 nuclear sites in 35 states,” the company said.

But an environmental coalition plans to challenge any NRC approval in federal court, said Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear, a nonprofit that’s sharply critical of Holtec’s plan.

Kamps said Holtec’s waste-storage project also faces court challenges from the states of New Mexico and Texas, as well as from businesses with mining and ranching interests near the proposed storage site.

He also described potential federal aid to Holtec as “an outrageous pickpocketing of hardworking American taxpayers to benefit a filthy rich private company.”

According to Holtec, the operation of a consolidated waste-storage site would spur nuclear power in the United States, “leading to the rise of small modular reactors.”

It also expressed the belief that modular reactors made in America would find “a large global export market.”

Holtec previously has predicted it could place 32 SMR-160s in the United Kingdom by 2050…………..

January 9, 2023 Posted by | business and costs, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Delay to small nuclear reactors as ministers battle over costs

Sunday January 08 2023, 12.01am GMT, The Sunday Times Harry Yorke

A funding deal for the first fleet of mini nuclear reactors is not expected to materialise for at least another 12 months, amid a row in government over the cost of Britain’s wider nuclear ambitions.

Last year, in order to triple domestic nuclear capacity to 24 gigawatts by 2050 — a quarter of the UK’s projected electricity demand — Boris Johnson set out plans for eight new large reactors alongside the development of small modular reactors (SMRs).

The government also announced the formation of Great British Nuclear (GBN), a body responsible for helping to deliver the next generation of reactors and SMRs by identifying potential sites, developers and investors.

 At present only one plant, Hinkley Point C, is under construction, with the financing and final investment decisions on Sizewell C still pending. However, even though all but one of the UK’s existing plants are set to be shut down by the end of the decade, the government’s nuclear strategy now appears at risk of stalling amid internal disagreements.

In particular, Whitehall sources have revealed that there remains significant uncertainty over the scale of state investment in SMRs. Rolls-Royce, which has created designs for a 470 megawatt SMR and wants to
begin building factories, has called for ministers to enter funding talks and start placing orders. Rolls is understood to be seeking a commitment for four initial SMRs at a cost of about £2 billion each, which it
believes would unlock orders from interested foreign buyers.

But a senior government source said the Treasury would not sign off on any orders or significant funding until the technology had approval from the Office for Nuclear Regulation, which is not expected until 2024.

While the government has already invested £210 million in Rolls’s technology, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is also still assessing whether its competitors, including GE Hitachi, may offer “more viable” alternatives.

Insiders have signalled that the government may opt to launch yet another competition to gather further evidence before any firm deals are struck. More broadly, Treasury ministers harbour big concerns over the
costs associated with GBN, which officials have warned is billions over budget. While officials expect GBN to be announced early this year, after months of delays, the internal wrangling could lead to changes to both the body’s scope and funding.

 Times 8th Jan 2023

January 8, 2023 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK | Leave a comment

SMRs – an oversold hype? 8 Jan 23 Writing in the venerable US journal Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Markku Lehtonen takes at look at Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), warning that they may be being oversold.  He says  ‘Despite the boost from the Ukraine crisis, it is uncertain whether SMR advocates can muster the political will and societal acceptance needed to turn SMRs into a commercial success. The economic viability of the SMR promise will crucially depend on how much further down the road towards  deglobalization, authoritarianism in its various guises, and further tweaking of the energy markets the Western societies are willing to go. Moreover, the reliance of the SMR business case on complex global supply chains as well as on massive deployment and geographical dispersion of nuclear facilities creates its own geopolitical vulnerabilities and security problems’.

A key issue for the selling of  SMRs is ease of deployment . Well it may not be as easy as some hope, although the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has recently moved to allow ‘advanced  nuclear plants’ to be built in thickly populated areas. The NRC decision entitled ‘Population-Related Siting Considerations for Advanced Reactors,’ was passed subject to one vote against from Commissioner Jeffery Baran, who said ‘multiple, independent layers of protection against potential radiological exposure are necessary because we do not have perfect knowledge of new reactor technologies and their unique potential accident scenarios… Unlike light-water reactors, new advanced reactor designs do not have decades of operating experience; in many cases, the new designs have never been built or operated before.’  

There may be other ways for NRC to smooth the path ahead .  NIRS/WISE Nuclear Monitor 904, reports on the views of  Dr Ed Lyman, from the US Union of Concerned Scientists, who says SMRs and Advanced Modular Reactors are likely to be expensive and he lists some other possible ways to ‘cut corners on safety & security to cut costs’, that the industry would like NRC to consider. Here are some of them:  

• Allow nuclear power plants to have a ‘small containment-or no physical containment at all’. 

• No offsite emergency planning requirements. 

• Fewer or even zero operators. 

• Letting the plants have ‘fewer NRC inspections and weaker enforcement.’ 

• ‘Reduced equipment reliability reporting.’ 

• ‘Fewer back-up safety systems.’ 

• ‘Regulatory requirements should be few in number and vague.’ 

• ‘Zero’ armed security personnel to try to protect an advanced nuclear plant from terrorists.

We are almost talking about a ‘wild west’  free for all!  Hopefully some sense will prevail. And a more balanced view of possibilities, risks and benefits will be taken, in the US, and also in the UK, where there are plans for developing 20-30 PWR-type SMRs as part of the UK plan to triple UK nuclear capacity by 2050. 

Will it really happen?  There certainly are  a lot of very different ideas being mooted,  beyond just mini-versions of Pressurised Water-cooled Reactors, including sodium cooled fast neutron reactors, molten flouride salt reactors, and high temperature helium cooled reactors. But as I explored in my recent book, looking back how these ideas emerged and were then abandoned in the early days of nuclear experimentation, I’m not convinced that any of the new nuclear, variants large or small, has much of a future. Renewables are arguably a far better bet. And I’m not alone in thinking that SMRs are not the way ahead.

January 8, 2023 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | 1 Comment

Small Nuclear Reactor (SMR) developers submit 6 designs for UK approval

Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 6 Jan 23

Developers of six new small modular reactor (SMR) designs have applied for approval to deploy them as nuclear power plants in the UK.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is assessing submissions to enter the generic design assessment (GDA) process, reported the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC).

The designs come from established players and new entrants to the nuclear sector, the AMRC said. If they successfully enter the GDA process, they will be assessed for safety, security and environmental protection by the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency. The process is intended to support construction of a number of new power stations, by approving standard reactor designs that can be deployed in different locations.

GE Hitachi submitted an application for its BWRX-300 boiling water reactor in December, the AMRC reported. The BWRX-300 is a 300MWe water-cooled, natural circulation SMR, with passive safety systems adapted from the US-licenced ESBWR. GE Hitachi says it has been designed to achieve construction and operating costs which are substantially lower than traditional nuclear plants, and could be deployed as early as 2028.

The US-Japanese company’s submission was supported by Jacobs UK. GE Hitachi has also signed an initial agreement with Sheffield Forgemasters to discuss how the manufacturer could help meet the demands of deploying the BWRX-300 in the UK.

Holtec submitted its SMR-160 design, the AMRC said, a 160MWe pressurised water reactor developed in collaboration with Mitsubishi Electric of Japan and Hyundai Engineering and Construction of Korea. The US firm proposed to deploy 32 SMR-160s (5.1 GWe total) in serial production by 2050……….

Holtec Britain also announced a joint memorandum of understanding with Balfour Beatty and Korea’s Hyundai on construction planning for the UK, with potential sites identified at Trawsfynydd in Wales, and Heysham and Oldbury in England.

Applications from new companies include:

  • US firm X-Energy, which is working with Cavendish Nuclear to deploy its high-temperature gas reactor in the UK. The reactor is aimed at industrial decarbonisation as well as electricity generation. X-Energy said its first units will be deployed in the US from 2027, with the UK to follow.

  • UK-Italian start-up Newcleo, which is focused on lead-cooled fast reactors. The company is aiming to develop a 30MWe micro-reactor by 2030, followed by a 200MWe reactor fuelled by waste from existing nuclear plants.
  • UK Atomics, a subsidiary of Danish-based start-up Copenhagen Atomics, which is developing a containerised thorium molten salt reactor. The firm said it has already constructed a prototype reactor, and is aiming for first deployment in 2028.
  • GMET, a Cumbrian engineering group which last year acquired established nuclear supplier TSP Engineering, said it is developing a small reactor called NuCell for production at TSP’s Workington facility.

Rolls-Royce SMR is the only SMR developer to formally begin GDA. The firm submitted its 470MWe design in November 2021, with the regulators starting the first stage of assessment in April 2022.

January 6, 2023 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK | Leave a comment

What’s an SMR? Canada’s bet on the contentious next-gen nuclear tech, explained.

National Observer  Cloe Logan | News | January 4th 2023

What is an SMR?

An SMR, or small modular reactor, is a nuclear power unit used to produce energy. As of now, SMRs don’t technically exist; no unit has been fully built. But like nuclear energy in general, the tech is especially polarizing: while many — including the federal government — tout SMRs as a way to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and achieve our climate goals, others say the risk they pose heavily outweighs any potential reward.

SMRs create energy through nuclear fission, similar to traditional nuclear reactors. That process creates heat, which generates electricity but doesn’t create greenhouse gas emissions, unlike fossil fuel energy sources such as coal and natural gas.

What does SMR stand for, and how are they different from existing reactors?

SMR stands for small modular reactor. Here’s a word-by-word definition……………………

Small: SMRs have a smaller energy output compared to traditional nuclear reactors…………..

Modular: According to the federal government, this means the reactors “are factory constructed, portable and scalable.” Compared to traditional nuclear plants, which are built from the ground up, SMRs can be constructed in a central factory and shipped elsewhere as a whole. However, that process will rely on how much demand there is for SMRs and how feasible it is to ship the units once they’re built. Because SMR technology is still in its early stages, this is still to be determined.

Reactor: The type of reactor an SMR uses can vary.

Why do we need SMRs?…………………………………. According to the federal government, SMRs could be used to help achieve our climate goal in three ways: by replacing coal plants, powering heavy industry operations in places like the oilsands and remote mines, and providing electricity for remote communities reliant on diesel.

……………………………… An analysis published in Policy Options found that as of 2018, 24 remote mines reliant on diesel were potential candidates for SMRs by 2030. However, the authors concluded the cost of producing an SMR was too high to justify an electricity demand of this magnitude. Rather, wind and solar are more affordable

The role of SMRs in powering remote, mostly Indigenous communities that now rely on diesel has also been contested. Research has shown SMRs to be one of the least desirable energy options to those communities, who are concerned with being left with nuclear waste and the high costs of SMRs compared to cheaper renewables.

Why are people against SMRs?

Those against SMRs often oppose them for three main reasons:

1. They will be in operation too late to address the climate crisis.

In Canada, the first SMR is supposed to be ready by 2028 for the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station in Ontario. However, some say that goal is unrealistic. An early SMR built by Oregon’s NuScale was originally supposed to generate electricity by 2016, but the completion date has since been pushed to 2029 or 2030. A new report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis described the project as “too late, too expensive, too risky and too uncertain.”

Meanwhile, renewable sources of energy like wind and solar already have technology that is developed and proven.

2. They’re too expensive.

Since SMRs haven’t yet been built, it’s hard to say how much they will ultimately cost, but it’s in the billions. Don Morgan, minister responsible for SaskPower in Saskatchewan, said a small reactor would cost around $5 billion. And the costs of projects underway have often ballooned: the NuScale project went from costing $3.1 billion in 2014 to $6.1 billion in 2020. As a result, the power generated by SMRs is expensive. A 2015 report from the International Energy Agency and the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency found electricity costs from SMRs are predicted to be 50 to 100 per cent higher than typical nuclear reactors.

3. They create harmful nuclear waste.

According to research from Stanford University and the University of British Columbia, SMRs are actually set to produce more nuclear waste than conventional plants. As of now, Canada’s nuclear waste is stored on site at facilities, but all of the locations are designed to be temporary. There is no waste disposal plan for nuclear waste from SMRs, and Canada has been struggling with where to dispose of the nuclear waste already created from existing and past reactors for around a decade. The Canadian Environmental Law Association notes: “SMR wastes will also have higher concentrations of radiation and the SMR designs that claim to ‘burn up’ existing radioactive waste will create new, even more toxic waste streams.”

Who is building SMRs in Canada and how far along are they?

In Canada, the federal government is currently backing SMR technology through its action plan, as are the provinces of Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick, all of which signed a memorandum of understanding expressing support for SMRs.

According to provincial SMR plans, the first one in operation will be at the Darlington nuclear site in Ontario in 2028. Plans are also underway in Alberta and New Brunswick, where ARC Clean Energy is aiming to have an SMR in operation by 2029, and Moltex Energy says its spent fuel recovery system and reactor will come online in the early 2030s. Four more SMRs will follow between 2034 and 2042 in Saskatchewan.

In the plans, they also note another type of SMRs which would be smaller and have less power generation. Rather than supplying grids, they’re designed “primarily to replace the use of diesel in remote communities and mines.” The plan also notes the nuclear research facility at Chalk River, Ont., which is aiming to be in operation by 2026.

Are SMRs viable?

That is the biggest question surrounding SMRs. Although the plans for these next-generation nuclear units might hypothetically work, their viability hasn’t been proven anywhere. Proponents of the tech don’t let that get them down: they say the proposals are strong and are the key to reducing emissions.

But there is no sign that opponents will back down, either. In Canada, numerous Indigenous, scientific, environmental and citizen groups have called the technology a “dirty, dangerous distraction” from real climate action.

January 4, 2023 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment