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Small modular reactors: What is taking so long?

Next-generation nuclear has long been just around the corner, but debate still rages over the silver-bullet credentials of small modular reactors.

By Oliver Gordon The growing urgency of the climate crisis and, more recently, the energy crisis has reawakened global interest in nuclear energy. Even the likes of Bill Gates and Elon Musk have waded into the debate to petition for a more prominent role for nuclear power in the transition to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. To that end, there is much expectation surrounding the development of small modular reactors (SMRs), a new generation of nuclear reactors that are being marketed as the solution to all of nuclear power’s previous shortcomings.

To that end, there is much expectation surrounding the development of small
modular reactors (SMRs), a new generation of nuclear reactors that are
being marketed as the solution to all of nuclear power’s previous
shortcomings.

In fact, SMRs are not forecast to hit the commercial market
before 2030, and although SMRs are expected to have lower up-front capital
costs per reactor, their economic competitiveness is still to be proven in
practice once they are deployed at scale.

Nuclear reactors are extremely
complex systems that must comply with stringent safety requirements, taking
into account a wide variety of accident scenarios. The licensing process is
extensive and country-dependent, implying some standardisation will be
required for SMRs to properly take off.

However – beyond the perennial
oscillation of public acceptance of nuclear energy – there are still a
variety of challenges SMR technology needs to overcome before it can reach
commercial deployment. “The hardest is economics,” says M V Ramana, the
Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security at the School of
Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia,
Canada, and author of The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in
India. “Nuclear energy is an expensive way to generate electricity.”

 Energy Monitor (accessed) 21st Sept 2022
 https://www.energymonitor.ai/sectors/power/small-modular-reactors-smrs-what-is-taking-so-long

September 21, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Small nuclear reactors emerge as energy option, but risks loom

The search for alternative sources to Russian energy during the war in Ukraine has refocused attention on smaller, easier-to-build nuclear power stations.

The Indian Express, By: AP Nicosia (cyprus) September 11, 2022. A global search for alternative sources to Russian energy during the war in Ukraine has refocused attention on smaller, easier-to-build nuclear power stations, which proponents say could provide a cheaper, more efficient alternative to older model mega-plants…………

While Rolls-Royce SMR and its competitors have signed deals with countries from Britain to Poland to start building the stations, they are many years away from operating and cannot solve the energy crisis now hitting Europe.

Nuclear power also poses risks, including disposing of highly radioactive waste and keeping that technology out of the hands of rogue countries or nefarious groups that may pursue a nuclear weapons program.Those risks have been accentuated following the shelling around Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, which has raised fears of potential nuclear disaster in the wake of the war

………………………………. Similarly, Oregon-based NuScale Power signed agreements last year with two Polish companies — copper and silver producer KGHM and energy producer UNIMOT — to explore the possibility of building SMRs to power heavy industry. ……….. Rolls-Royce SMR said last month that it signed a deal with Dutch development company ULC-Energy to look into setting up SMRs in the Netherlands. Another partner is Turkey, where Russia is building the Akkuyu nuclear power plant on the southern coast. Environmentalists say the region is seismically active and could be a target for terrorists.

The introduction of unproven nuclear power technology in the form of SMRs doesn’t sit well with environmentalists, who argue that proliferation of small reactors will exacerbate the problem of how to dispose of highly radioactive nuclear waste.“Unfortunately, Turkey is governed by an incompetent administration that has turned it into a ‘test bed’ for corporations,” said Koray Dogan Urbarli, a spokesman for Turkey’s Green Party.“It is giving up the sovereignty of a certain region for at least 100 years for Russia to build a nuclear power plant. This incompetence and lobbying power make Turkey an easy target for SMRs,” said Koray, adding that his party eschews technology with an “uncertain future.”

……………….. M.V. Ramana, professor of public policy and global affairs at the University of British Columbia, cites research suggesting there’s “no demonstrated way” to ensure nuclear waste stored in what authorities consider to be secure sites won’t escape in the future. The constant heat generated by the waste could alter rock formations where it’s stored and allow water seepage, while future mining activities could compromise a nuclear waste site’s integrity, said Ramana, who specializes in international security and nuclear energy.

Skeptics also raise the risks of possibly exporting such technology in politically tumultuous regions……………

Ramana said that there’s no guarantee nations will follow the rules. “Any country acquiring nuclear reactors automatically enhances its capacity to make nuclear weapons,” he said, adding that every SMR could produce “around 10 bombs worth of plutonium each year.”…………………………… more https://indianexpress.com/article/technology/science/small-nuclear-reactors-emerge-as-energy-option-but-risks-loom-8143584/

September 20, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Rethink Research throws cold water on the Nuclear Energy Institute’s enthusiasm for Small Modular Reactors (SMRs).

 For SMRs to remain competitive there will need to be heavy state-side subsidizes for consumers, as the initial cost of energy produced from them is considerably above wholesale auction prices.

https://rethinkresearch.biz/articles/smr-boon-forecast-by-nei-rethink-doubts-it/SMR boon forecast by NEI, Rethink doubts it, By Connor Watts, 24 Aug 22, Some 19 utilities surveyed by the US Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) says they see potential for up to 90GW of small modular reactors (SMR) within the United States by 2050. This would work out to around 300 reactors producing 731.3 TWh of energy, most of which would come online before 2050. Those numbers look pretty good until you look at current generation figures

During 2021 the US consumed around 790 TWh of electricity from nuclear power plants and 899 TWh from coal plants. The EIA projects that 16GW of nuclear plants will be decommissioned, alongside 69GW of coal plants up to 2050. This means that as much as 95% of potential SMR energy production could be going directly to the replacement of existing facilities.

This leaves only 5GW of remaining demand potential for SMR energy production up to 2050 outside of decommissioning existing facilities, we think even this may be optimistic.

Traditional nuclear plants take upwards of a decade to build and often run massively overbudget, making the energy it does produce once built more expensive as costs are attempted to be recouped.

SMR producers promise to do away with these drawbacks through standardizing their designs to enable factory production. Minimizing cost while shortening production times, theoretically addressing the main weaknesses of traditional reactors.

In practice it’s a little more complicated.

Considering the complexity and risks involved with nuclear power generation, commercial production and design of SMRs remains a slow and meticulous process. This has left many SMR sites still in the planning or design phase years after their announcements, almost competing in deployment time with traditional nuclear plants.

Once a new SMR gets deployed after its design and development period, it will need to be monitored for a few years to inspect for defects and inefficiencies within the design to prevent any mishaps. This is likely to add yet more time to an already long production horizon, adding costs as new units cannot go into production.

The cost savings achieved through modularity and standardization are borne through mass-production and deployment. In a way this is the “gigafactory” approach for nuclear. Considering long initial production times, this will contribute significantly to a short-term increase in the price of nuclear electricity, minimizing its applications where it remains competitive.

SMRs are supposed to come to market at $60 per MWh LCOE – but already wind and solar are considerably below that, and what level will they be at after SMRs arrived on the scene in volume, by say 2030?

For SMRs to remain competitive there will need to be heavy state-side subsidizes for consumers, as the initial cost of energy produced from them is considerably above wholesale auction prices.

Another issue with nuclear power generation is water usage. Earlier this month nuclear plants in France had a rule concerning water discharging waived as heatwaves boiled most of Europe.

Typically, the reactors would reduce their output to minimize damage from discharging hot water into the nearby ecosystems, but this rule has been waived until the 11th of September to ensure energy supplies in the short term. SMRs will also need to use local water supplies as a coolant, which makes them ineffective in a drought.

This can be mitigated through the use of alternative coolants such as liquid metal, gas and molten salt, but many SMR designs currently work similarly to traditional nuclear.

To use the time horizon for SMRs makes them look economically  unfavorable, and while these 19 utilities may genuinely feel they like the idea of more nuclear, their controlling state utilities commission may well have something to say about whether they ever actually get installed.

August 23, 2022 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Bill Gates’ nuclear startup wins $750M, loses sole fuel source

TerraPower notches a record-setting investment round led by South Korea’s SK. But it has no supplier of the enriched fuel it needs, now that sourcing from Russia is off the table.

Canary Media Eric Wesoff, 18 August 2022, Nuclear fission startup TerraPower, founded and chaired by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, has raised $750 million to develop advanced nuclear reactors to serve as alternatives to the light-water reactors that make up the vast majority of the world’s civilian nuclear fleet. But cash alone won’t be enough to get the startup over the many hurdles that stand in its way.

TerraPower’s Natrium fast reactor design is radically different from the design of traditional nuclear reactors. For starters, it’s smaller. A typical reactor in the U.S. produces 1,000 megawatts of power. TerraPower’s first demonstration reactor, now being planned for a site in Wyoming, will have a capacity of 345 megawatts. The smaller size could enable the reactor to be built cheaply in a factory and not expensively on-site.

The Natrium reactor will also use a different fuel and a different coolant than standard nuclear reactors. It will be fueled by high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU), which is enriched with more uranium than the fuel used in traditional nuclear plants. And the coolant will be high-temperature liquid sodium instead of water. 

TerraPower’s new funding includes $250 million from South Korean chaebol SK Group. Previous funding for the firm has come from Gates and Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway. The company was also awarded $80 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to work on its Natrium reactor design.

Canary covered TerraPower’s technology in detail last year when the firm announced that Bechtel will build its first reactor in Kemmerer, Wyoming, near the site of a coal-fired power plant that is scheduled to be shut down. The U.S. Department of Energy and private investors will split the cost of the demonstration project. 

The startup claims that this first reactor will be in operation by 2028 and will cost $4 billion, including engineering, procurement and construction. If TerraPower comes anywhere close to meeting those wildly ambitious goals, it will strongly differentiate itself from the traditional nuclear industry, which is notorious for missed deadlines and shocking cost overruns. The only two conventional nuclear reactors currently under construction in the U.S., at the Vogtle plant in Georgia, are already six years overdue and will cost utility customers over $30 billion, more than double the original price tag.

Fuel folly?

One big new problem for TerraPower emerged earlier this year: its fuel source. The only facility currently able to supply commercial quantities of HALEU is in Russia. That wasn’t a great situation even before Russia invaded Ukraine. Now that the war in Ukraine has been grinding on for six months and shows no signs of resolution, relying on fuel sourced from Russia is untenable. 

In March, TerraPower said it had cut ties with Tenex, the Russian state-owned company from which it had planned to source HALEU, Wyoming-based nonprofit news outlet WyoFile reported. ​“When Russia invaded Ukraine it became very clear, for a whole set of reasons — moral reasons as well as commercial reasons — that using Russian fuel is no longer an option for us,” said Jeff Navin, TerraPower’s director of external affairs.

TerraPower did just get good news this week when President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law. The legislation includes $700 million to help build up a domestic supply chain for HALEU. The funding could give a boost to the U.S. Department of Energy’s plans to launch a congressionally authorized HALEU Availability Program. But developing HALEU production capacity in the U.S. will take years. 

TerraPower does not have wiggle room to delay. If it doesn’t complete its demonstration project by 2028, it stands to lose out on up to $2 billion in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program and the opportunity for expedited federal regulatory reviews. 

Some experts are skeptical that TerraPower will make the deadline, especially now that it has no source of fuel. ​“I didn’t think it was doable before this monkey wrench was thrown in,” Edwin Lyman, director of nuclear power safety for the Union of Concerned Scientists, told WyoFile in March.

A nuclear renaissance?

Despite these headwinds, TerraPower did just raise $750 million, so it’s not alone in anticipating a revival of the nuclear power industry. 

The Inflation Reduction Act will help not just HALEU-fueled TerraPower but the rest of the nuclear energy sector too: It includes a production tax credit for nuclear power, an incentive that will benefit struggling nuclear plants that already exist across the country as well as developers of new types of nuclear reactors. In addition to TerraPower, that latter category includes U.S. startups NuScale and Oklo.

…..  The bipartisan infrastructure law Biden signed late last year contains $6 billion to support existing nuclear plants and $3.2 billion for development of advanced nuclear power technology. The Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office has $11 billion in funding for nuclear plants and nuclear supply chains, according to Jigar Shah, director of the office. …………….. https://www.canarymedia.com/articles/nuclear/bill-gates-nuclear-startup-wins-750m-loses-sole-fuel-source

August 20, 2022 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

New leader of Canada’s New Brunswick Liberals breaks ranks with the party’s previous support for Small Nuclear Reactors

New Liberal leader questions small nuclear reactors. Susan Holt says it’s not clear the technology is a responsible energy solution

Jacques Poitras · CBC News · Aug 10, 2022 

The new leader of the New Brunswick Liberals is questioning whether small modular nuclear reactors are the answer to the province’s energy needs, a more cautious stance than her party’s previous full-throated support for the technology.

Susan Holt said after winning the leadership Saturday that while the potential jobs created by SMRs would be good for the province, she was looking for more evidence they were the right bet for clean energy.

“It’s an interesting project on the economic development level … but I’m not sure it’s the solution for electricity generation for our province,” Holt told reporters.

“I think it’s not clear yet if it will really give us energy in a way that’s responsible and efficient with our investments, so there’s still more to determine there.”

Two companies based in Saint John, ARC Clean Energy and Moltex Energy, have received tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer funding to develop reactors………..

Last year the province handed ARC $20 million, while Moltex received more than $50 million from the federal government.

The previous provincial Liberal government gave each of them $5 million.

Holt held the title of chief of business relationships at the Jobs Board secretariat under then-Liberal Premier Brian Gallant at the time ARC and Moltex got that initial funding.

Both the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives have been enthusiastic supporters of SMRs until now, ………………..

at legislative committee hearings in January, former N.B. Power CEO Gaëtan Thomas and officials from Saint John Energy warned that SMRs may not be ready in time to replace electricity from the Belledune generating station, which must stop using coal by 2030.


Louise Comeau, the director of climate change and energy solutions for the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, welcomed Holt’s comments.

“It sounds to me like the new leader is open to more information and analysis, which is what we desperately needed on the question of small modular nuclear reactors,” she said.

“We’ve been more in a phase of hype and boosterism. … I think what she’s said is we need to have more information, we need to look at all options, and we would really agree with that. Wind and solar and efficiency and other options all have to be part of the portfolio.” 

Susan O’Donnell, a member of the Coalition for Responsible Energy Development in New Brunswick, said she was happy Holt was “reading the independent research about SMRs instead of the nuclear industry sales and promotional materials.”…………………..

In January, the Pembina Institute, a clean energy think tank, released a report that said small nuclear reactors would be more expensive and generate less electricity than a combination of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/susan-holt-questions-small-nuclear-reactors-1.6545007

August 9, 2022 Posted by | Canada, politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Why investors should be wary of small nuclear reactors

NuScale has some big challenges.

NuScale announced that completion of the project would be delayed by three years to 2030 and estimated the cost had climbed from $4.2 billion to $6.1 billion. This is a familiar old song in the nuclear energy sector: Big schedule delays and big cost-overruns.

M. V. Ramana, a physicist at the University of British Columbia who works on public policy was not surprised that so many utilities backed-out of the project. “They (utility companies) ought to be seeing the writing on the wall and getting out by the dozens.”

at least one study says that small nuclear power plants will generate more waste than conventional reactors.

NuScale: Finally Time For Small Module Nuclear Reactors?

Summary

  • Small module nuclear reactors have been discussed and researched for decades – going back to at least my college engineering days in the 1970s.
  • Yet for a variety of reasons, small module reactors (“SMR”) have never become a reality.
  • NuScale Power wants to change that and at the present time, the company appears to be the planet’s best chance to do so.
  • Today I’ll discuss my sense of NuScale’s chances of success and whether or not the stock is a good fit for an investor’s “speculative growth” bucket.

…………………………………………. My sense is that many of NuScale’s potential utility customers are waiting for – what I consider to be the “proof-of-concept” plant – to be built in Idaho.

Valuation

After a big jump in the stock price in July, NuScale currently has a $3.3 billion market cap (and a 13.7% short position):

……………… In June, NuScale gave a financial update re-affirming guidance for (only) $16 million in FY22 revenue. For the three-month period ending March 31, 2022, the company reported:

  • Total available capital was $383.7 million.
  • Revenue of $2.4 million and a net loss of $(23.4) million compared to revenue of $0.7 million and a net loss of $(22.7) million for the same period in 2021.
  • Research and development expenses of $24.4 million compared to $18.8 million for the same period in 2021.

Clearly the company is burning cash. However, even if the cash burn grew to, say, $30 million per quarter, the available capital would last more than three years.

Risks

However, NuScale has some big challenges. Back in 2020, several utility companies within the UAMPS group backed-out of the deal to build the first NuScale SMR power plant. Even with the infusion of U.S. federal dollars, NuScale announced that completion of the project would be delayed by three years to 2030 and estimated the cost had climbed from $4.2 billion to $6.1 billion. This is a familiar old song in the nuclear energy sector: Big schedule delays and big cost-overruns. It was a big-blow: After all, the whole idea behind a small scale modular nuclear plant was to reduce the risk of both schedule and expense.

According to the previously reference source, critics of the project said it will be “untenably expensive.” M. V. Ramana, a physicist at the University of British Columbia who works on public policy was not surprised that so many utilities backed-out of the project. “They (utility companies) ought to be seeing the writing on the wall and getting out by the dozens.”

The Department of Energy (“DOE”) previously agreed to $1.4 billion in funding for the project. However, as I reported above, the cost estimate for the project now is $6.1 billion. That’s a big gap in funding. Further, at that price, investors need to question whether or not renewable solar and wind capacity would be better back-stopped by battery backup, and more wind and solar capacity additions, as opposed to an SMR.

Meantime, I personally would be much more supportive of the effort if NuScale had a partnership of some sort, or at least a well publicized plan, to re-process or store spent radioactive fuel. That’s especially the case given that at least one study says that small nuclear power plants will generate more waste than conventional reactors. The report said SMRs would create up to 30x more radioactive waste per unit of electricity generated as compared to conventional reactors. According to Reuters, Lindsay Krall – the study’s lead author – said:

Even if (the U.S.) had a robust waste management program, we think there would be a lot of challenges to deal with some of the SMR waste.

The study said NuScale’s reactor would produce ~1.7x more waste per energy equivalent than traditional reactors. NuScale countered that the study used “outdated design information and incorrect assumptions about the plants.”

Summary and Conclusions

In theory, small module nuclear reactors sound like a great idea. And they have been sounding like a great idea for decades. Yet despite all the technology available to man, and the pressing threat of global warming, no small module nuclear reactor has yet to be built in the United States. And that should tell the investor something.  https://seekingalpha.com/article/4530416-nuscale-time-for-small-module-nuclear-reacto

August 5, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

US regulators approve small nuclear reactors – BUT – costs, delays, too late for climate help

The First Small Modular Nuclear Reactor Was Just Approved by US Regulators, Singularity Hub, By Edd Gent-August 5, 2022

…………………………………… questions have been raised about whether SMRs will really live up to their billing as a cheaper, safer alternative to traditional nuclear power plants. A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in May found that contrary to the claims of SMR makers, these smaller reactors are actually likely to produce more radioactive waste than conventional plants.

In an article in Counterpunch, nuclear power expert M.V. Ramana also points out that the cost of renewable energy like wind and solar is already lower than that of nuclear, and continuing to fall rapidly. In contrast, nuclear power has actually become more expensive over the years.

SMRs could cost more than bigger nuclear plants, he adds, because they don’t have the same economy of scale. In theory this could be offset through mass manufacture, but only if companies receive orders in the hundreds. Tellingly, some utilities have already backed out of NuScale’s first project over cost concerns.

Perhaps even more importantly, notes Ramana, SMRs are unlikely to be ready in time to contribute to the climate fight. Projects aren’t expected to come online until the end of the decade, by which time the IPCC says we already need to have made drastic emissions reductions.

The technology has some powerful boosters though, not least President Joe Biden, who recently touted NuScale’s “groundbreaking American technology” while announcing a grant for an SMR plant the company will build in Romania. Engineering giant Rolls-Royce also recently announced a shortlist for the location of its future SMR factory, which will be used to build 16 SMRs for the UK government by 2050.

Whether SMRs can deliver on their promise remains to be seen, but given the scope of the climate challenge facing us, exploring all available options seems wise. https://singularityhub.com/2022/08/05/the-first-small-modular-nuclear-reactor-design-was-just-approved-by-us-regulators/

August 5, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, climate change, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Small nuclear reactors produce more radioactive trash than large ones do- American Academy of Sciences

Despite being hailed as the future of electricity generation in the UK,
small nuclear reactors may actually produce more waste than their larger
counterparts, as our Gossage Gossip columnist explains.

A planned new generation of small nuclear reactors will create more waste than
conventional reactors, according to an authoritative new study.

The projects, called small modular reactors (SMR), are designed to be simpler
and safer than conventional plants in the case of an accident. They are
also expected to be built in factories and shipped to locations across the
world, as opposed to today’s massive reactors, which are built on-site
and typically run billions of pounds over budget. SMR backers maintain they
are a safe way to boost generation of virtually emissions-free electricity.


But the reactors would create far more radioactive waste per unit of
electricity they generate than conventional reactors by a factor of up to
30, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the American
National Academy of Sciences.

Some of these smaller reactors, with molten
salt and sodium-cooled designs, are expected to create waste that needs to
go through additional conditioning to make it safe to store in a
repository.

Allison Macfarlane, a co-author of the study and former head of
the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said SMR designers ‘don’t pay
that much attention in general to the waste, because the thing that makes
money for them is the reactor. But it is important to know about the waste
products, and whether they’re going to pose such difficulties in managing
and then disposing of them. Which they are.’

 Electrical Review 2nd Aug 2022

August 1, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, wastes | Leave a comment

Small nuclear reactors will bleed us dry and won’t solve climate change – unfounded promises

there is every reason to believe that if and when a NuScale SMR is built, its final cost too will vastly exceed current official estimates. 

Unfounded promises — Beyond Nuclear International Small Modular Reactors epitomize culture that embraces exaggeration
By M.V. Ramana
In 2006, Elizabeth Holmes, founder of a Silicon Valley startup company called Theranos, was featured in Inc magazine’s annual list of 30 under 30 entrepreneurs. Her entrepreneurship involved blood, or more precisely, testing blood. Instead of the usual vials of blood, Holmes claimed to be able to obtain precise results about the health of patients using a very small sample of blood drawn from just a pinprick. 

The promise was enticing and Holmes had a great run for a decade. She was supported by a bevy of celebrities and powerful individuals, including former U.S. secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, James Mattis, who later served as U.S. secretary of defense, and media mogul Rupert Murdoch. Not that any of them would be expected to know much about medical science or blood testing. But all that public endorsement helped. As did savvy marketing by Holmes. Theranos raised over $700 million from investors, and receive a market valuation of nearly $9 billion by 2014

The downfall started the following year, when the Wall Street Journal exposed that Theranos was actually using standard blood tests behind the scenes because its technology did not really work. In January 2022, Holmes was found guilty of defrauding investors.

The second part of the Theranos story is an exception. In a culture which praises a strategy of routine exaggeration, encapsulated by the slogan “fake it till you make it”, it is rare for a tech CEO being found guilty of making false promises. But the first part of Theranos story—hype, advertisement, and belief in impossible promises—is very much the norm, and not just in the case of companies involved in the health care industry. 

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

Nuclear power offers a great example. In 2003, an important study produced by nuclear advocates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology identified costs, safety, proliferation and waste as the four “unresolved problems” with nuclear power. Not surprisingly, then, companies trying to sell new reactor designs claim that their product will be cheaper, will produce less—or  no—radioactive waste, be immune to accidents, and not contribute to nuclear proliferation. These tantalizing promises are the equivalent of testing blood with a pin prick. 

And, as was the case with Theranos, many such companies have been backed up by wealthy investors and influential spokespeople, who have typically had as much to do with nuclear power as Kissinger had to with testing blood. Examples include Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley investor; Stephen Harper, the former Prime Minister of Canada; and  Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin group. But just as the Theranos product did not do what Elizabeth Holmes and her backers were claiming, new nuclear reactor designs will not solve the multiple challenges faced by nuclear power.

One class of nuclear reactors that have been extensively promoted in this vein during the last decade are Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). The promotion has been productive for these companies, especially in Canada. Some of these companies have received large amounts of funding from the national and provincial governments. This includes Terrestrial Energy that received CAD 20 million and Moltex that received CAD 50.5 million, both from the Federal Government. The province of New Brunswick added to these by awarding CAD 5 million to Moltex and CAD 25 million in all to ARC-100

All these companies have made various claims about the above mentioned problems. Moltex, for example, claims that its reactor design “reduces waste”, a claim also made by ARC-100. ARC-100 also claims to be inherently safe, while Terrestrial claims to be cost-competive. Both Terrestrial and ARC-100 claim to do well on proliferation resistance. In general, no design will admit to failing on any of these challenges. 

Dealing with any of these challenges—safety enhancement, proliferation resistance, decreased generation of waste, and cost reduction—will have to be reflected in the technical design of the nuclear reactor. The problem is that each of these goals will drive the requirements on the reactor design in different, sometimes opposing, directions.

Economics

The hardest challenge is economics. Nuclear energy is an expensive way to generate electricity. In the 2021 edition of its annual cost report, Lazard, the Wall Street firm, estimated that the levelized cost of electricity from new nuclear plants will be between $131 and $204 per megawatt hour; in contrast, newly constructed utility-scale solar and wind plants produce electricity at somewhere between $26 and $50 per megawatt hour according to Lazard. The gap between nuclear power and renewables is large, and is growing larger. While nuclear costs have increased with time, the levelized cost of electricity for solar and wind have declined rapidly, and this is expected to continue over the coming decades

Even operating costs for nuclear power plants are high and many reactors have been shut down because they are unprofitable. In 2018, NextEra, a large electric utility company in the United States, decided to shut down the Duane Arnold nuclear reactor, because it estimated that replacing nuclear with wind power will “save customers nearly $300 million in energy costs, on a net present value basis.” 

The high cost of constructing and operating nuclear plants is a key driver of the decline of nuclear power around the world. In 1996, nuclear energy’s share of global commercial gross electricity generation peaked at 17.5 percent. By 2020, that had fallen to 10.1 percent, a 40 percent decline. 

The high costs described above are for large nuclear power plants. SMRs, as the name suggests, produce relatively small amounts of electricity in comparison. Economically, this is a disadvantage. When the power output of the reactor decreases, it generates less revenue for the owning utility, but the cost of constructing the reactor is not proportionately smaller. SMRs will, therefore, cost more than large reactors for each unit (megawatt) of generation capacity. This makes electricity from small reactors more expensive. This is why most of the early small reactors built in the United States shut down early: they just couldn’t compete economically.

SMR proponents argue that the lost economies of scale will be compensated by savings through mass manufacture in factories and as these plants are built in large numbers costs will go down. But this claim is not very tenable. Historically, in the United States and France, the countries with the highest number of nuclear plants, costs went up, not down, with experience. Further, to achieve such savings, these reactors have to be manufactured by the hundreds, if not the thousands, even under very optimistic assumptions about rates of learning. Finally, even if SMRs were to become comparable in cost per unit capacity of large nuclear reactors, that would not be sufficient to make them economically competitive, because their electricity production cost would still be far higher than solar and wind energy.

…………………………………………. Cost escalations are already apparent in the case of the NuScale SMR, arguably the design that is most developed in the West. The estimated cost of the Utah Association of Municipal Power Systems project went from approximately $3 billion in 2014 to $6.1 billion in 2020—this is to build twelve units of the NuScale SMR that were to generate 600 megawatts of power. The cost was so high that NuScale had to change its offering to a smaller number of units that produce only 462 megawatts, but at a cost of $5.32 billion. In other words, the cost per kilowatt of generation capacity is around $11,500 (US dollars). That figure is around 80 percent more than the per kilowatt cost of the infamous Vogtle project at the time its construction started. Since that initial estimate of $14 billion for the two AP1000 reactors, the estimated cost of the much delayed project has escalated beyond $30 billion. As with the AP1000 reactors, there is every reason to believe that if and when a NuScale SMR is built, its final cost too will vastly exceed current official estimates. ……………

Timelines

The other promise made by SMR developers is how fast they can be deployed. GE-Hitachi, for example, claims that an SMR could be “complete as early as 2028” at the Darlington site.  ARC-100 described an operational date of 2029 as an “aggressive but achievable target”. 

Again, the historical record suggests otherwise. Consider NuScale. In 2008, the company projected that “a NuScale plant could be producing electricity by 2015-16”. As of 2022, the company projects 2029-30 as the date for start of generation. Russia’s KLT-40S, a reactor deployed on a barge, offers another example. When construction started in 2007, the reactor was projected to start operations in October 2010. It was actually commissioned a whole decade later, in May 2020. 

The SMR designs being considered in Canada are even further off. In December 2021, Ontario Power Generation chose the BWRX-300 for the Darlington site. That design is based on GE-Hitachi’s Economical Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) design, which was submitted for licensing to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2005. That ESBWR design was changed nine times; the NRC finally approved revision 10 from 2014. If the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission does its due diligence, it might be 2030 or later before the BWRX-300 is even licensed for construction. That assumes that the BWRX-300 design remains unchanged. And, then, of course, there will be the inevitable delays (and cost escalations) during construction. ………….

Waste, Proliferation and Safety

Small reactors also cause all of the usual problems: the risk of severe accidents, the production of radioactive waste, and the potential for nuclear weapons proliferation. …………

……………  small modular reactor proposals often envision building multiple reactors at a site. The aim is to lower costs by taking advantage of common infrastructure elements. The configuration offered by NuScale, for example, has twelve reactor modules at each site, although it also offers four- and six-unit versions. With multiple reactors, the combined radioactive inventories might be comparable to that of a large reactor. Multiple reactors at a site increase the risk that an accident at one unit might either induce accidents at other reactors or make it harder to take preventive actions at others. This is especially the case if the underlying reason for the accident is a common one that affects all of the reactors, such as an earthquake. In the case of the accidents at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, explosions at one reactor damaged the spent fuel pool in a co-located reactor. Radiation leaks from one unit made it difficult for emergency workers to approach the other units. ……………………………

Claims by SMR proponents about not producing waste are not credible, especially if waste is understood not as one kind of material but a number of different streams. A recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences examined three specific SMR designs and calculates that “relative to a gigawatt-scale PWR” these three will produce up to 5.5 times more spent fuel, 30 times more long-lived low and intermediate level waste, and 35 times more short-lived low and intermediate level waste. In other words, in comparison with large light water reactors, SMRs produce more, not less, waste per unit of electricity generated. As Paul Dorfman from the University of Sussex commented, “compared with existing conventional reactors, SMRs would increase the volume and complexity of the nuclear waste problem”.

Further, some of the SMR designs involve the use of materials that are corrosive and/or pyrophoric. Dealing with these forms is more complicated. For example, the ARC-100 design will use sodium that cannot be disposed of in geological repositories without extensive processing. Such processing has never been carried out at scale. The difference in chemical properties mean that the methods developed for dealing with waste from CANDU reactors will not work as such for these wastes.

Many SMR designs also make the problem of proliferation worse. Unlike the CANDU reactor design that uses natural uranium, many SMR designs use fuel forms that require either enriched uranium or plutonium. Either plutonium or uranium that is highly enriched in the uranium-235 isotope can be used to make nuclear weapons. Because uranium enrichment facilities can be reconfigured to alter enrichment levels, it is possible for a uranium enrichment facility designed to produce fuel for a reactor to be reconfigured to produce fuel for a bomb. All else being equal, nuclear reactor designs that require fuel with higher levels of uranium enrichment pose a greater proliferation risk—this is the reason for the international effort to convert highly enriched uranium fueled research reactors to low enriched uranium fuel or shutting them down.

Plutonium is created in all nuclear power plants that use uranium fuel, but it is produced alongside intensely radioactive fission products. Practically any mixture of plutonium isotopes could be used for making weapons. Using the plutonium either to fabricate nuclear fuel or to make nuclear weapons, require the “reprocessing” of the spent fuel. Canada has not reprocessed its power reactor spent fuel, but some SMR designs, such as the Moltex design, propose to “recycle” CANDU spent fuel. Last year, nine US nonproliferation experts wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressing serious concerns “about the technology Moltex proposes to use.” 

The proliferation problem is made worse by SMRs in many ways. ……………………..

Conclusion

The saga of Theranos should remind us to be skeptical of unfounded promises. Such promises are the fuel that drive the current interest in small modular nuclear reactors………

Rather than seeing the writing on the wall, unfortunately, government agencies are wasting money on funding small modular reactor proposals. Worse, they seek to justify such funding by repeating the tall claims made by promoters of these technologies……  https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2022/07/31/unfounded-promises00

August 1, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

MidAmerican shouldn’t waste money studying small nuclear reactors

Small modular reactors and nuclear power represent a dangerous distraction from the changes needed to deal with global warming.  https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/iowa-view/2022/07/24/midamerican-energy-small-nuclear-reactors-uneconomical/10104142002/ Dr. Maureen McCue and Dr. M.V. Ramana, Yet again, MidAmerican Energy has expressed an interest in studying nuclear reactors for Iowa. Earlier, between 2010 and 2013, MidAmerican studied the feasibility of nuclear power for Iowa and concluded that it didn’t make sense. This time around, MidAmerican does not even have to embark on the study. We know already that the newest offerings from the nuclear industry, Small Modular Reactors, or SMRs, carry the same economic and environmental risks as their larger predecessors and make no sense for Iowa, or anywhere else for that matter.

In 2013, the Wall Street firm Lazard estimated that the cost of generating electricity at a new nuclear plant in the United States will be between $86 and $122 per megawatt-hour. Last November, Lazard estimated that the corresponding cost will be between $131 and $204 per megawatt-hour. During the same eight years, renewables have plummeted in cost, and the 2021 estimates of electricity from newly constructed utility-scale solar and wind plants range between $26 and $50 per megawatt-hour. Nuclear power is simply not economically competitive. 

SMRs will be even less competitive. Building and operating SMRs will cost more than large reactors for each unit (megawatt) of generation capacity. A reactor that generates five times as much power will not require five times as much concrete or five times as many workers. This makes electricity from small reactors more expensive; many small reactors built in the United States were financially uncompetitive and shut down early

The estimated cost of constructing a plant with 600 megawatts of electricity from NuScale SMRs, arguably the design closest to deployment in the United States, increased from about $3 billion in 2014 to $6.1 billion in 2020. The cost was so high that at least ten members of Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems canceled their contracts. NuScale then changed its proposed plant configuration to fewer reactors that produce only 462 megawatts at a cost of $5.32 billion. For each kilowatt of electrical generation capacity, that estimate is around 80% more than the per-kilowatt cost of the Vogtle project in Georgia — before its cost exploded from $14 billion to over $30 billion. Based on the historical experience with nuclear reactor construction, SMRs are very likely to cost much more than initially expected. 

And they will be delayed. In 2008, officials announced that “a NuScale plant could be producing electricity by 2015-16.” Currently, the Utah project is projected to start operating in 2029-30. All this before the inevitable setbacks that will occur once construction starts.

Time is critical to dealing with global warming. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, emissions have to be reduced drastically by 2030 to stop irreversible damage from climate change. 

Small reactors also are associated with all of the usual problems with nuclear power: severe accidents, the production of radioactive waste, and the potential for nuclear weapons proliferation. Indeed, some of these problems could be worse. For each unit of electricity generated, SMRs will actually produce more nuclear waste than large reactors. Whether generated by a large or small plant, nuclear waste remains radioactive and dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years. There is no demonstrated solution to permanently isolate this lethal waste, for both technical and social reasons

Most new nuclear reactor designs will rely on water sources for cooling. Nuclear plants have some of the highest water withdrawal requirements; in the United States, the median value for water withdrawal was calculated as 44,350 gallons per megawatt-hour of electricity generated, roughly four times the corresponding figure for a combined cycle natural gas plant. Renewables require little or no water because there is no heat production. Iowa’s lakes and rivers are already challenged by the warming climate, existing power plants, and polluting industries.

In medicine, a basic principle used to guide our decisions is “first, do no harm.” That principle will be violated if Iowa embarks on building SMRs. Small modular reactors and nuclear power represent a dangerous distraction from the changes needed to deal with global warming. Investing in these technologies will divert money away from more sustainable and rapidly constructed solutions, including wind and solar energy, microgrids, batteries and other forms of energy storage, and energy-efficient devices.  

July 22, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

YES! Experimental nuclear reactors (SMRs) DO need an impact assessment: Speak Out!

 https://www.cleanairalliance.org/yes-smrs-need-assessment/ 15 July 22 The nuclear industry plans to build experimental nuclear reactors (SMRs) in New Brunswick, aiming that one day they can be used in different towns and remote communities across Canada.

Pressure from the nuclear industry lobby changed our federal environmental assessment law in 2019, exempting many nuclear projects like SMRs from undergoing a full environmental impact assessment (IA)

The exemption not only erodes public involvement and oversight of the project but also means there will be no full reckoning of the alternatives to the energy project and its impacts to social, economic, Indigenous and environmental values.

The Coalition for Responsible Energy Development in New Brunswick (CRED-NB) is challenging the exemption for the “SMR Demonstration Project” planned for Point Lepreau on the Bay of Fundy.

CRED-NB is asking the federal government to order an impact assessment for this project which could have profound and lasting impacts on the Bay of Fundy and the coastal communities and marine life it supports.

For more information about why an impact assessment is required, please read the full request by CRED-NB to federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault,HERE

Please join us in this effort. Use our action tool to write Minister Guilbeault to support the CRED-NB request for a full impact assessment for the SMR Demonstration Project.

Your message will be sent to Minister Guilbeault, other relevant members of the federal Cabinet, your MP, leaders of the federal opposition parties, and provincial representatives in New Brunswick.

July 13, 2022 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Say “yes” to an impact assessment for nuclear experiment on the Bay of Fundy.

This is not just a New Brunswick issue. If successful, these SMRs could be deployed in hundreds of communities across the country, their radioactive waste added to our existing stockpiles for which no solution currently exists. 

Coalition for Responsible Energy Development in New Brunswick (CRED-NB) 15 July 22, To learn what this nuclear project on the Bay of Fundy is all about, read our request to federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault HERE. (French version HERE.)

Once again, NB Power wants to limit public input on their latest experiment. But this time it’s a nuclear experiment! We need to have a say!

The nuclear industry wants to build experimental nuclear reactors (SMRs) at Point Lepreau on the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick. They want to do it without a federal impact assessment!

This means the public will have limited input, it’s not fair and it’s not right.

Pressure from the nuclear industry lobby changed our federal environmental assessment law in 2019, exempting SMRs from undergoing a full environmental impact assessment (IA). 

We’re asking the federal government to order an impact assessment for this nuclear experiment which could have profound and lasting impacts on the Bay of Fundy and the coastal communities and marine life it supports.

Click here to use our action tool to write to Minister Guilbeault to support our request – it takes less than a minute! We’re working with the Ontario Clean Air Alliance to gather support across the country. Please use it and share!

The Coalition for Responsible Energy Development in New Brunswick (CRED-NB) is challenging the exemption for the “SMR Demonstration Project” at Point Lepreau on the Bay of Fundy. and asking asking the federal government to step in and order the project undergo a full, IA under the Impact Assessment Act. 

For more information about why an impact assessment is required, read the formal request to federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault HERE. (French version HERE.)

The current exemption not only erodes public involvement and oversight of the project but also means there will be no full reckoning of the alternatives to the energy project and its impacts to social, economic, Indigenous and environmental values.

In contrast, an IA is a “look before you leap” process allowing the public to weigh in on alternatives to the project, risks emanating from all stages of the project (from building to eventual decommissioning and oversight of the radioactive materials) and the project’s cumulative social, economic and environmental impacts. 

CRED-NB is asking people across Canada to support the campaign. This is not just a New Brunswick issue. If successful, these SMRs could be deployed in hundreds of communities across the country, their radioactive waste added to our existing stockpiles for which no solution currently exists. 

Please join us in this effort. Use our action tool to write Minister Guilbeault to support the CRED-NB request for a full impact assessment for the SMR demonstration project.……. more https://crednb.ca/dr/

July 13, 2022 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Small modular nukes fall short on climate promises, new study suggests.


SMRs are inherently less efficient, hence the “higher volumes and greater complexity” of the waste, says the study. SMRs leak more neutrons, which impairs the self-sustaining nuclear reaction.

GreenBiz, By Clifford Maynes, 1 July 22,  Small modular reactors (SMRs), seen by the beleaguered nuclear industry as a shining hope for a global revival, may have hit a serious snag. A new study finds that mini-nuclear power stations produce higher volumes of radioactive waste per unit of generation than larger-scale traditional ones.

The United States, the United Kingdom and Canada are among the countries investing in SMRs on the hope of a cheaper, faster way to build out nuclear capacity. In Canada, the federal government is leading and funding a “Team Canada” approach involving several provinces, industry players, and others, envisioning SMRs as “a source of safe, clean, affordable energy, opening opportunities for a resilient, low-carbon future and capturing benefits for Canada and Canadians.”

In Ontario, the Ford government selected GE Hitachi to build an SMR at the Darlington nuclear plant site, with a projected in-service date of 2028.

Now, however, the first independent assessment of radioactive waste from SMRs has modeled the waste from three SMR designs, Toshiba, NuScale and Terrestrial Energy. The conclusion: “SMRs could increase the volume of short-lived low and intermediate level wastes… by up to 35 times compared to a large conventional reactor,” New Scientist reports.

“For the long-lived equivalent waste, SMRs would produce up to 30 times more,” the story adds. For spent nuclear fuel, up to five times more.

Stanford University’s Lindsay Krall, who led the research, said information from the industry is “promotional,” echoing past criticisms that SMRs are still “PowerPoint reactors” with no detailed engineering to back up the concept. “SMR performed worse on nearly all of our metrics compared to standard commercial reactors,” Krall said.

SMRs are inherently less efficient, hence the “higher volumes and greater complexity” of the waste, says the study. SMRs leak more neutrons, which impairs the self-sustaining nuclear reaction.

“The study concludes that, overall, small modular designs are inferior to conventional reactors with respect to radioactive waste generation, management requirements, and disposal options,” Stanford News reports.

“The research team estimated that after 10,000 years, the radiotoxicity of plutonium in spent fuels discharged from the three study modules would be at least 50 percent higher than the plutonium in conventional spent fuel per unit energy extracted.” 

……………………………………. Proponents hope SMRs will have “small is beautiful” appeal and focus on their potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But critics say they sidestep public concerns about accidents, wastes, cost and other impacts, noting that SMRs aren’t small: the Darlington reactor will be rated at 300 megawatts, about a third the size of the existing Candu reactors on the site, and more than half the size of the units at the nearby Pickering station.

SMRs are also new and unproven, critics warn. They say there is no reason to think SMR construction will be exempt from the massive cost overruns and completion delays that typically plague reactor construction, and megaprojects in general. And there is no real-world experience to date to demonstrate that SMRs can be built on time and on budget.

The biggest concern is that SMRs will soak up investment dollars and grid capacity that should go to proven, successful renewables such as solar and wind, which can be rapidly deployed and have falling rather than escalating costs. Because of the time lag, nuclear is not expected to make a large contribution to meeting the immediate, global goal of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change noted in its sixth assessment that small-scale, distributed energy sources such as wind and solar had exceeded expectations, while large, centralized technologies such as nuclear had fallen short.

“It takes too long to site and build nuclear reactors, especially compared to solar and wind installations,” said MIT researcher Kate Brown.  https://www.greenbiz.com/article/small-modular-nukes-fall-short-climate-promises-new-study-suggests

July 2, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Much hyping for France’s NUWARD small modular reactor (SMR) design: construction to start in 2030 (but will it be a lemon?)

France’s NUWARD SMR Will Be Test Case for European Early Joint Nuclear Regulatory Review,   Power, 5 June 22. The French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN), the Czech State Office for Nuclear Safety (SUJB), and Finland’s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) have picked France’s NUWARD small modular reactor (SMR) design as a test case for an early joint regulatory review for SMRs. The development marks a notable step by European regulators to align practices in a bid to harmonize licensing and regulation for SMRs in the region.

EDF, an entity that is majority held by the French government, on June 2 announced the reactor design will be the subject of the review, which “will be based on the current set of national regulations from each country, the highest international safety objectives and reference levels, and up-to-date knowledge and relevant good practice.”

The technical discussions and collaborative efforts associated with the review will both help ASN, STUK, and SUJB “increase their respective knowledge of each other’s regulatory practices at the European level,” as well as “improve NUWARD’s ability to anticipate the challenges of international licensing and meet future market needs,” it said.

A European Frontrunner

NUWARD, which is still currently in the conceptual design phase, may be a frontrunner in the deployment of SMRs in Europe. It was unveiled in 2019 by EDF, France’s Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), French defense contractor Naval Group, and TechnicAtome, a designer of naval propulsion nuclear reactors and an operator of nuclear defense facilities. The consortium in May tasked Belgian engineering firm Tractabel with completing—by October 2022—conceptual design studies for parts of the conventional island (turbine hall), the balance of plant (water intake and servicing system), and the 3D modeling of the buildings that will house those systems.

Launched as a design that derives from the “best-in-class French technologies” and “more than 50 years of experience in pressurized water reactor (PWR) design, development, construction, and operation,” the design proposes a 340-MWe power plant configured with twin 170-MWe modules. NUWARD is based on an integrated PWR design with full integration of the main components within the reactor pressure vessel, including the control rod drive mechanisms, compact steam generators, and pressurizer, CEA says.

As “the most compact reactor in the world,” the design is well-suited for power generation, including replacing coal and gas-fired generation, as well as for electrification of medium-sized cities and isolated industrial sites, CEA says. According to Tractabel, the next phase of the NUWARD project—the basic design completion—is slated to begin in 2023. Construction of a reference plant is expected to start in 2030.

Crucial to SMR Deployment: Harmonization of Regulations

On Thursday, EDF noted that while SMR technology innovation is important, deployment of SMRs, which will be integral to the energy transition toward carbon neutrality, will require “a serial production process and a clear regulatory framework.” Harmonization of regulations and requirements in Europe and elsewhere will be “an essential element to support aspirations of standardization of design, in-factory series production and limited design adaptations to country-specific requirements,” it said.  

Several efforts to encourage collaboration on SMR licensing and regulatory alignment are already underway in Europe. These include the European SMR Partnership led by FORATOM, the Brussels-based trade association for the nuclear energy industry in Europe, and the Sustainable Nuclear Energy Technology Platform (SNETP), as well as the Nuclear Harmonisation and Standardisation Initiative (NHSI), which the International Atomic Energy Agency launched in March.

The European Union is separately spearheading the ELSMOR project, which aims to enhance the European capability to assess and develop the innovative light water reactor (LWR) SMR concepts and their safety features, as well as sharing that information with policymakers and regulators.

SMRs Part of Future Plans for France, Czech Republic, Finland

Participation of the three countries—France, the Czech Republic, and Finland—is noteworthy for their near-term plans to expand generation portfolios with new nuclear. French President Emmanuel Macron on Feb. 10 said France will build six new nuclear reactors and will consider building eight more. Macron also notably said $1.1 billion would be made available through the France 2030 re-industrialization plan for the NUWARD SMR project.

In the Czech Republic, which has six existing nuclear reactors that generate about a third of its power, energy giant ČEZ has designated a site at the Temelín Nuclear Power Plant as a potential site for an SMR. ČEZ has signed a memorandum of understanding on SMRs with NuScale, and it also has cooperation agreements with GE Hitachi, Rolls-Royce, EDF, Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power, and Holtec.

Finland has five operating reactors, and it is in the process of starting up Olkiluoto 3, a 1.6-GW EPR (EDF’s next-generation nuclear reactor), whose construction began in 2005. Two others were planned: Olkiluoto 4 and Hanhikivi 1. Early in May, however, Finnish-led consortium Fennovoima said it had scrapped an engineering, procurement, and construction contract for Russia’s state-owned Rosatom to build the 1.2-GW Hanhikivi 1, citing delays and increased risks due to the war in Ukraine. On May 24, Fennovoima withdrew the Hanhikivi 1 nuclear power plant construction license application.

The VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is actively developing an SMR intended for district heating. While Finland now mostly relies on coal for district heat, it has pledged to phase out coal by 2029. VTT, notably, coordinates with the ELSMOR project for European SMR licensing practices. In addition, VTT says it is leading a work package related to the new McSAFER project, which is developing next-generation calculation tools for the modeling of SMR physics.

Sonal Patel is a POWER senior associate editor (@sonalcpatel@POWERmagazine).

June 6, 2022 Posted by | France, Reference, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

South Korean government to massively fund developing small nuclear reactors, partnering with USA companies NuScam and Terra Power.

Policymakers endorse massive injection of state money for SMR development

Lim Chang-won Reporter(cwlim34@ajunews.com) | Lim Chang-won Reporter, email : cwlim34@ajunews.com© Aju Business Daily & www.ajunews.com 
 June 2, 2022, SEOUL
— With the blessing of President Yoon Suk-yeol, South Korea’s nuclear power industry grabbed a new opportunity to rebound after policymakers endorsed a massive injection of state money for the development of a relatively safe small modular reactor called “i-SMR” that can be operated in an underground water tank and cooled naturally in case of emergency. 

Yoon, who took office in early May, dumped his predecessor’s “nuclear-exit” policy of phasing out nuclear power plants and vowed to actively revitalize South Korea’s struggling nuclear power industry and develop next-generation reactors, insisting that nuclear power plants are an essential factor in restoring industrial competitiveness.

Up to Yoon’s expectations, the proposed development of i-SMRs has passed a preliminary feasibility study, according to the Ministry of Science and ICT. Some 399.2 billion won ($319.9 million) will be spent from 2023 to 2028 for the i-SMR project aimed at developing a reactor with a power generation capacity of less than 300 megawatts. ……..

Mainly through partnerships with American companies, South Korean companies have jumped into the SMR market, such as Hyundai E&C and Doosan Enerbility, a key player in South Korea’s nuclear industry that tied up with NuScale Power, an SMR company in the United States.

 In May 2022, Samsung C&T strengthened its partnership with NuScale Power to cooperate in SMR projects in Romania and other East European countries. SK Group tied up with TerraPower for cooperation in the development and commercialization of SMR technology.

Separately, the government approved the proposed spending of 348.2 billion won from 2023 to 2030 to develop technologies for the dismantling of defunct reactors………

Hyundai E&C has tied up with its American partner, Holtec International, for the decommissioning of defunct nuclear power plants, starting with the Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan in Westchester County. https://www.ajudaily.com/view/20220602110820983

June 6, 2022 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, South Korea | Leave a comment