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Small Modular Nuclear Reactors – their connection to nuclear weapons development

Although unstated, by far the most likely source for such support is a continuing national civil nuclear programme. And this where the burgeoning hype around UK development of SMRs comes in. Leading designs for these reactors are derived directly from submarine propulsion. British nuclear submarine reactor manufacturer Rolls-Royce is their most enthusiastic champion. But, amid intense media choreography, links between SMRs and submarines remain (aside from reports of our own work) barely discussed in the UK press. 

This neglect is odd, because the issues are very clear. Regretting that military programmes are no longer underwritten by civil nuclear research, a heavily redacted 2014 MoD report expresses serious concerns over the continued viability of the UK nuclear submarine industry. And Rolls-Royce itself is clear that success in securing government investment for SMRs would “relieve the Ministry of Defence of the burden of developing and retaining skills and capability” for the UK’s military nuclear sector.

Why is the UK government so infatuated with nuclear power? https://www.theguardian.com/science/political-science/2018/mar/29/why-is-uk-government-so-infatuated-nuclear-power

As the nuclear option looks less and less sensible, it becomes harder to explain Whitehall’s enthusiasm. Might it be to do with the military? Guardian,  Andy Stirling and  Phil Johnstone, 29 Mar 18, 

Against a worldwide background of declining fortunes for nuclear power, UK policy enthusiasm continues to intensify. Already pursuing one of the most ambitious nuclear new-build agendas in the world, Britain is seeking to buck 50 years of experience to develop an entirely new and untested design of small modular reactors (SMRs). In 2016, then energy and climate secretary, Amber Rudd, summed up the government’s position: “Investing in nuclear is what this government is all about for the next 20 years.”

Despite unique levels of long-term policy support, this nuclear new-build programme is severely delayed, with no chance of operations beginning as intended “significantly before 2025”, Costs have mushroomed, with even government figures showing renewables like offshore wind to already be far more affordable. With renewable costs still plummeting, global investments in these alternatives are now already greater than for all conventional generating technologies put together. With worldwide momentum so clear, the scale of UK nuclear ambitions are an international anomaly.

Unswerving British nuclear support contrasts sharply with obstructive national policy on other technologies. In 2015 various strategies supporting renewables and energy efficiency were abandoned, with the cheapest UK low-carbon power(onshore wind), effectively halted. The consequences of these cuts are now clear. The output of community energy projects has fallen by 99.4%. National investment in renewables has halved. Meanwhile, UK industrial strategy continues to prioritise nuclearNuclear R&D gets 12 times as much funding as renewables in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s “Energy Innovation Programme”. Instead of considering alternatives to spiralling nuclear costs, the UK government is looking to accommodate them with entirely new models of public financing. It seems clear that – for some undeclared reason and regardless of comparative costs or global trends – Britain simply must have new nuclear power.

The depth of this Whitehall bias creates a challenging environment for reasoned debate over British energy policy. To many, it seems scarcely believable that UK plans are so massively out of sync with current trends. The sheer weight of UK nuclear incumbency has successfully marginalised the entirely reasonable understanding that – like many technologies before it – nuclear power is simply going obsolete.

With direct reasons for the UK’s eccentric national position still unstated, we should pay attention to body language. Here, clues may be found in the work of the National Audit Office (NAO)Its 2017 report of 2017 points out serious flaws in the economic case for new nuclear – highlighting “unquantified”, “strategic” reasons why the UK still prioritises new nuclear despite the setbacks and increasingly attractive alternatives. Yet the NAO remains uncharacteristically unclear as to what these reasons might be.

An earlier NAO report may shed more light. Their 2008 costing of military nuclear activities states: “One assumption of the future deterrent programme is that the United Kingdom submarine industry will be sustainable and that the costs of supporting it will not fall directly on the future deterrent programme.” If the costs of keeping the national nuclear submarine industry in business must fall elsewhere, what could that other budget be?

Although unstated, by far the most likely source for such support is a continuing national civil nuclear programme. And this where the burgeoning hype around UK development of SMRs comes in. Leading designs for these reactors are derived directly from submarine propulsion. British nuclear submarine reactor manufacturer Rolls-Royce is their most enthusiastic champion. But, amid intense media choreography, links between SMRs and submarines remain (aside from reports of our own work) barely discussed in the UK press.

This neglect is odd, because the issues are very clear. Regretting that military programmes are no longer underwritten by civil nuclear research, a heavily redacted 2014 MoD report expresses serious concerns over the continued viability of the UK nuclear submarine industry. And Rolls-Royce itself is clear that success in securing government investment for SMRs would “relieve the Ministry of Defence of the burden of developing and retaining skills and capability” for the UK’s military nuclear sector. Other defence sources are also unambiguous that survival of the British nuclear submarine industry depends on continuation of UK civil nuclear power. Many new government initiatives focus intently on realising the military and civil synergies.

Some nuclear enthusiasts have called this analysis a conspiracy theory, but these links are now becoming visible. In response to our own recent evidence to the UK Public Accounts Committee, a senior civil servant briefly acknowledged the connections. And with US civil nuclear programmes collapsing, the submarine links are also strongly emphasised by a former US energy secretary. Nuclear submarines are evidently crucial to Britain’s cherished identity as a “global power”. It seems that Whitehall’s infatuation with civil nuclear energy is in fact a military romance.

So why does the UK debate on these issues remain so muted? It is now beyond serious dispute that nuclear power has been overtaken by the extraordinary pace of progress in renewables. But – for those so minded – the military case for nuclear power remains. In a democracy, it might be expected that these arguments at least be tested in public. So, the real irrationality is that an entire policy arena should so comprehensively fail to debate such crucial issues. In the end, all technologies become obsolete. If we are not honest about UK civil nuclear policy, the danger is that British democracy may go the same way.

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March 29, 2018 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Much hype about Small Modular Nuclear Reactors – but are they viable?

Interest in Small Modular Nuclear Reactors Is Growing. So Are Fears They Aren’t Viable
SMRs are the future of nuclear. Will they always be the future?
Greentech Media 

March 17, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Los Alamos Board of Public Utilities – doubtful about viability of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)

BPU has doubts about nuclear power project http://www.lamonitor.com/content/bpu-has-doubts-about-nuclear-power-project, By Tris DeRoma, February 26, 2018 

February 27, 2018 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Vain hopes for Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) – expensive and there are no customers anyway

Small Modular Reactors for Nuclear Power: Hope or Mirage? https://www.theenergycollective.com/m-v-ramana/2426847/small-modular-reactors-nuclear-power-hope-mirage   by M.V. Ramana 

Supporters of nuclear power hope that small nuclear reactors, unlike large  plants, will be able to compete economically with other sources of electricity. But according to M.V. Ramana, a Professor at the University of British Columbia, this is likely to be a vain hope. In fact, according to Ramana, in the absence of a mass market, they may be even more expensive than large plants.

In October 2017, just after Puerto Rico was battered by Hurricane Maria, US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry asked the audience at a conference on clean energy
in Washington, D.C.: “Wouldn’t it make abundant good sense if we had small modular reactors that literally you could put in the back of a C-17, transport to an area like Puerto Rico, push it out the back end, crank it up and plug it in? … It could serve hundreds of thousands”.

As exemplified by Secretary Perry’s remarks, small modular reactors (SMRs) have been suggested as a way to supply electricity for communities that inhabit islands or in other remote locations.

In the past decade, wind and solar energy have become significantly cheaper than nuclear power

More generally, many nuclear advocates have suggested that SMRs can deal with all the problems confronting nuclear power, including unfavorable economics, risk of severe accidents, disposing of radioactive waste and the linkage with weapons proliferation. Of these, the key problem responsible for the present status of nuclear energy has been its inability to compete economically with other sources of electricity. As a result, the share of global electricity generated by nuclear power has dropped from 17.5% in 1996 to 10.5% in 2016 and is expected to continue falling.

Still expensive

The inability of nuclear power to compete economically results from two related problems. The first problem is that building a nuclear reactor requires high levels of capital, well beyond the financial capacity of a typical electricity utility, or a small country. This is less difficult for state- owned entities in large countries like China and India, but it does limit how much nuclear power even they can install.

The second problem is that, largely because of high construction costs, nuclear energy is expensive. Electricity from fossil fuels, such as coal and natural gas, has been cheaper historically ‒ especially when costs of natural gas have been low, and no price is imposed on carbon. But, in the past decade, wind and solar energy, which do not emit carbon dioxide either, have become significantly cheaper than nuclear power. As a result, installed renewables have grown tremendously, in drastic contrast to nuclear energy.

How are SMRs supposed to change this picture? As
the name suggests, SMRs produce smaller amounts of electricity compared to currently common nuclear power reactors. A smaller reactor is expected to cost less to
build. This allows, in principle, smaller private utilities and countries with smaller GDPs to invest in nuclear power. While this may help deal with the first problem, it actually worsens the second problem because small reactors lose out on economies of scale. Larger reactors are cheaper
on a per megawatt basis because their material and work requirements do not scale linearly with generation capacity.

“The problem I have with SMRs is not the technology, it’s not the deployment ‒ it’s that there’s no customers”

SMR proponents argue that they can make up for the lost economies of scale by savings through mass manufacture in factories and resultant learning. But, to achieve such savings, these reactors have to be manufactured by the thousands, even under very optimistic assumptions about rates of learning. Rates of learning in nuclear power plant manufacturing have been extremely low; indeed, in both the United States and France, the two countries with the highest number of nuclear plants, costs rose with construction experience.

Ahead of the market

For high learning rates to be achieved, there must 
be a standardized reactor built in large quantities. Currently dozens of SMR designs are at various stages of development; it is very unlikely that one, or even a few designs, will be chosen by different countries and private entities, discarding the vast majority of designs that are currently being invested in. All of these unlikely occurrences must materialize if small reactors are to become competitive with large nuclear power plants, which are themselves not competitive.

There is a further hurdle to be overcome before these large numbers of SMRs can be built. For a company to invest
in a factory to manufacture reactors, it would have to be confident that there is a market for them. This has not been the case and hence no company has invested large sums of its own money to commercialize SMRs.

An example is the Westinghouse Electric Company, which worked on two SMR designs, and tried to get funding from the US Department of Energy (DOE). When it failed in that effort, Westinghouse stopped working on SMRs and decided to focus its efforts on marketing the AP1000 reactor and the decommissioning business. Explaining this decision, Danny Roderick, then president and CEO of Westinghouse, announced: “The problem I have with SMRs is not the technology, it’s not the deployment ‒ it’s that there’s no customers. … The worst thing to do is get ahead of the market”.

Delayed commercialization

Given this state of affairs, it should not be surprising that
 no SMR has been commercialized. Timelines have been routinely set back. In 2001, for example, a DOE report on prevalent SMR designs concluded that “the most technically mature small modular reactor (SMR) designs and concepts have the potential to be economical and could be made available for deployment before the end of the decade provided that certain technical and licensing issues are addressed”. Nothing of that sort happened; there is no SMR design available for deployment in the United States so far.

There are simply not enough remote communities, with adequate purchasing capacity, to be able to make it financially viable to manufacture SMRs by the thousands

Similar delays have been experienced in other countries too. In Russia, the first SMR that is expected to be deployed is the KLT-40S, which is based on the design of reactors used in the small fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers that Russia has operated for decades. This programme, too, has been delayed by more than a decade and the estimated costs have ballooned.

South Korea even licensed an SMR for construction in
2012 but no utility has been interested in constructing one, most likely because of the realization that the reactor is too expensive on a per-unit generating-capacity basis. Even the World Nuclear Association stated: “KAERI planned to build a 90 MWe demonstration plant to operate from 2017, but this is not practical or economic in South Korea” (my emphasis).

Likewise, China is building one twin-reactor high- temperature demonstration SMR and some SMR feasibility studies are underway, but plans for 18 additional SMRs have been “dropped” according to the World Nuclear Association, in part because the estimated cost of generating electricity is significantly higher than the generation cost at standard-sized light-water reactors.

No real market demand

On the demand side, many developing countries claim to be interested in SMRs but few seem to be willing to invest in the construction of one. Although many agreements and memoranda of understanding have been signed, there are still no plans for actual construction. Good examples are the cases of Jordan, Ghana and Indonesia, all of which have been touted as promising markets for SMRs, but none of which are buying one.

Neither nuclear reactor companies, 
nor any governments that back nuclear power, are willing to spend the hundreds of millions, if not a few billions, of dollars to set up SMRs just so that these small and remote communities will have nuclear electricity

Another potential market that is often proffered as a reason for developing SMRs is small and remote communities. There again, the problem is one of numbers. There are simply not enough remote communities, with adequate purchasing capacity, to be able to make it financially viable to manufacture SMRs by the thousands so as to make them competitive with large reactors, let alone other sources of power. Neither nuclear reactor companies, 
nor any governments that back nuclear power, are willing to spend the hundreds of millions, if not a few billions, of dollars to set up SMRs just so that these small and remote communities will have nuclear electricity.

Meanwhile, other sources of electricity supply, in particular combinations of renewables and storage technologies such as batteries, are fast becoming cheaper. It is likely that they will become cheap enough to produce reliable and affordable electricity, even for these remote and small communities ‒ never mind larger, grid- connected areas ‒ well before SMRs are deployable, let alone economically competitive.

Editor’s note:

Prof. M. V. Ramana is Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security at the Liu Institute for Global Issues, as part of the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.  This article was first published in National University of Singapore Energy Studies Institute Bulletin, Vol.10, Issue 6, Dec. 2017, and is republished here with permission.

February 22, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, Reference, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

The not very rosy future for Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

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

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

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

February 17, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Holtec and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) are going to try to market Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

World Nuclear News 15th Feb 2018, Holtec International and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) are to collaborate
on accelerating the commercialisation of Holtec’s SMR-160 small modular
reactor (SMR). Their cooperation will initially include nuclear fuel
development and control rod drive mechanisms. Under a memorandum of
understanding, GEH, Global Nuclear Fuel (GNF), Holtec and SMR Inventec LLC
(SMR LLC) have agreed to enter into a “procompetitive collaboration” to
progress the SMR-160. GNF, a GE-led joint venture with Hitachi and Toshiba,
is primarily known as a supplier of boiling water reactor fuel. SMR LLC is
a wholly-owned subsidiary of Holtec established in 2011 to manage the
development of the SMR-160.
http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NN-Holtec-and-GEH-team-up-on-advancing-SMR-160-1502184.html

February 17, 2018 Posted by | Japan, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Collaboration to try and market Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)

 GE Hitachi, Holtec Announce Cooperation to Accelerate Commercialization of SMR-160 Small Modular Reactor, Power Magazine 
02/14/2018  GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH), Global Nuclear Fuel (GNF), Holtec International and SMR Inventec, LLC (SMR, LLC), today announced a collaboration to advance the SMR‐160, a single loop, 160 MWe pressurized light water reactor based on existing light water technologies.In a Memorandum of Understanding, the companies have agreed to enter into a procompetitive collaboration to progress the SMR-160 which SMR, LLC intends to develop, design, license, commercialize, deploy and service globally. The cooperation will initially include nuclear fuel development supported by GNF and control rod drive mechanisms designed by GEH, and may later extend to other areas.

“We are excited to leverage the experience and capabilities of world class nuclear companies like GEH and GNF as we bring our game changing SMR-160 technology to global markets,” said Holtec President and CEO Dr. Kris Singh. “SMR-160 has prioritized safety in its design, to produce a right-sized, passively safe and cost-effective solution for carbon-free energy. This collaboration will ensure the SMR-160 supply chain, to deliver and fabricate critical SMR-160 technologies and components, including at our new Advanced Manufacturing Division in Camden, New Jersey.”……http://www.powermag.com/press-releases/ge-hitachi-holtec-announce-cooperation-to-accelerate-commercialization-of-smr-160-small-modular-reactor/

February 16, 2018 Posted by | marketing, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Trump’s budget bill gives tax credits to save Vogtle nuclear plant expansion, and promote Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

Platts 9th Feb 2018, The budget bill President Donald Trump signed Friday morning to avert a shutdown of the US government includes a broadening of production tax credits for nuclear projects critical for the completion of two reactors at Georgia Power’s Vogtle station and designed to spur development of the first commercial small modular reactors in the US.

The 2,300-MW Vogtle plant  expansion in Waynesboro, Georgia, has experienced delays and cost overruns that threatened its completion. The Georgia Public Service Commission gave the go-ahead for rate recovery, which Georgia Power had said was crucial for completing the nuclear generating units. But the production tax credits were also a key element of the project’s economic case, Georgia Power officials have said.
https://www.platts.com/latest-news/electric-power/washington/us-budget-bill-includes-credits-for-georgia-nuclear-21293499

February 12, 2018 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

The USA nuclear lobby is now trying to tie up longterm tax-payer funding for Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

Report Urges Long-Term Power Agreements for SMRs at Federal Sites , Nuclear Energy InstituteFeb. 1, 2018—A new study funded by the U.S. Department of Energy recommends that federal agencies (such as DOE and the Defense Department) be allowed to enter into 30-year power purchase agreements with utility operators of small modular reactors (SMRs).

Typically defined as reactors having a generating capacity smaller than 300 megawatts-electric, SMRs are a good fit for sites like DOE’s 17 national laboratories, the study says.

For example, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory is the largest consumer of electricity among the agency’s sites and is engaged in several critical, round-the-clock defense and research-related activities………

“Leveraging the federal government’s strong credit standing as a purchaser of the power and its continual need for baseload power is important in the development of SMRs. Federal agency purchasers can help to set the market and offer more certainty to other initial buyers,” the study says.

“By creating an authority that permits federal agencies to purchase power for up to 30 years, SMR developers will be able to use traditional financing to repay a project financed project or a long-term bond over an up to 30-year term, making the financing more affordable.”

Currently, only the Department of Defense has the authority to enter into power purchase agreements of 30 years in duration, in certain circumstances.

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is currently going through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission early site permit process for developing two or more SMRs at the Clinch River Site.

The study urges moving the pilot project at Clinch River forward to completion……..

Another example of collaboration between a small modular reactor developer and a national laboratory is NuScale Power, of which the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) is planning to build up to 12 at the Idaho National Laboratory. Under this project, DOE or other federal entities could enter into power purchase agreements with UAMPS or its associated utilities. ……

Another example of collaboration between a small modular reactor developer and a national laboratory is NuScale Power, of which the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) is planning to build up to 12 at the Idaho National Laboratory. Under this project, DOE or other federal entities could enter into power purchase agreements with UAMPS or its associated utilities. ……

The report, conducted by Kutak Rock and Scully Capital for DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy, builds on a January 2017 report which studies the options available to federal agencies looking to buy power from SMRs. https://www.nei.org/News-Media/News/News-Archives/2018/Report-Urges-Long-Term-Power-Agreements-for-SMRs-a

 

February 3, 2018 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

British plan to provide household electricity by plutonium – in Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

 

Times 28th Jan 2018, Britons could be taking showers and warming homes with hot water piped
directly from a nuclear reactor, under proposals to build small atomic power stations in cities. Urban nuclear reactors, similar in size to those
in nuclear submarines, could generate not only electricity but also hot water, suggests a report by Policy Exchange, a think tank.

The paper reflects government thinking, as the National Nuclear Laboratory hasalready drawn up plans for a first “small modular reactor” at Trawsfynydd in north Wales. The Department for Business, Energy andIndustrial Strategy has also supported the idea. Such reactors could befuelled by plutonium, a waste product of Britain’s existing nuclearindustry. Stockpiles exceed 100 tons.   https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/mini-nuclear-reactors-could-heat-homes-pxk3h8nkl

January 29, 2018 Posted by | - plutonium, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK | Leave a comment

The fantasy of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors for outback Australia

Volunteers wanted – to house small modular nuclear reactors in Australia,Online Opinion, Noel WAuchope , 11 Dec 17, 

We knew that the Australian government was looking for volunteers in outback South Australia, to take the radioactive trash from Lucas Heights and some other sites, (and not having an easy time of it). But oh dear– we had no idea that the search for hosting new (untested) nuclear reactors was on too!

Well, The Australian newspaper has just revealed this extraordinary news, in its article “Want a nuclear reactor in your backyard? Step this way” (28/11/17). Yes, it turns out that a Sydney-based company, SMR Nuclear Technology, plans to secure volunteers and a definite site within three years. If all goes well, Australia’s Small Modular Reactors will be in operation by 2030.

Only, there are obstacles. Even this enthusiastic article does acknowledge one or two of them. One is the need to get public acceptance of these so far non-existent new nuclear reactors. SMR director Robert Pritchard is quoted as saying that interest in these reactors is widespread. He gives no evidence for this.

The other is that the construction and operation of a nuclear power plant in Australia is prohibited by both commonwealth and state laws.

But there are issues, and other obstacles that are not addressed on this article. A vital question is: does SMR Nuclear Technology intend to actually build the small reactors in Australia, or more likely, merely assemble them from imported modular parts – a sort of nuclear Lego style operation?

If it is to be the latter, there will surely be a delay of probably decades. Development of SMRs is stalled, in USA due to strict safety regulations, and in UK, due to uncertainties, especially the need for public subsidy. That leaves China, where the nuclear industry is government funded, and even there, development of SMRs is still in its infancy.

As to the former, it is highly improbable that an Australian company would have the necessary expertise, resources, and funding, to design and manufacture nuclear reactors of any size. The overseas companies now planning small reactors are basing their whole enterprise on the export market. Indeed, the whole plan for “modular” nuclear reactors is about mass production and mass marketing of SMRs -to be assembled in overseas countries. That is accepted as the only way for the SMR industry to be commercially successful. Australia looks like a desirable customer for the Chinese industry, the only one that looks as if it might go ahead, at present,

If, somehow, the SMR Technologies’ plan is to go ahead, the other obstacles remain.

The critical one is of course economics. …….

Other issues of costs and safety concern the transport of radioactive fuels to the reactors, and of radioactive waste management. The nuclear industry is very fond of proclaiming that wastes from small thorium reactors would need safe disposal and guarding for “only 300 years”. Just the bare 300!

The Australian Senate is currently debating a Bill introduced by Cory Bernardi, to remove Australia’s laws prohibiting nuclear power development. The case put by SMR Technologies, as presented in The Australian newspaper is completely inadequate. The public deserves a better examination of this plan for Small Modular Reactors SMRS. And why do they leave out the operative word “Nuclear” -because it is so on the nose with the public? http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=19460&page=2

December 11, 2017 Posted by | Kenya, Reference, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Britain’s plans to become a leader in Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

The government has announced up to £56m in funding for the development of
mini-nuclear plants. The money will be available over the next three years
to assess the potential of designs of advanced and small modular reactors
(SMRs). It will also support early access to regulators in order to build
the capability and capacity needed to assess and licence SMRs and will
establish an expert finance group to advise how small reactor projects
could raise private investment in the UK. The first round of funding
comprises up to £4m for feasibility studies and up to £7m to further
develop their capability. Should these efforts prove successful, up to
£40m will be made available for R&D projects to bring the technology into
the mainstream. The government said it wanted the UK to become a world
leader in developing the next generation of nuclear technologies.

Engineering & Technology 8th Dec 2017

https://eandt.theiet.org/content/articles/2017/12/mini-nuclear-power-plant-concept-gets-56m-funding-boost-from-uk-government/

December 11, 2017 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK | Leave a comment

Scrutiny on Small Modular Nuclear Reactors as UK govt ploughs money into them , despite financial risks

Telegraph 7th Dec 2017, Ministers are poised to plough almost £150m into developing new nuclear
technologies even after the Government’s own investigation revealed deep
uncertainties about the economics of next generation reactors.

The Government’s plan to reboot its stalled nuclear ambitions by investing in
research and development has been mired by indecision and delay since it
promised in 2015 to provide £250m to help developers find new, cheaper
ways to invest in the low-carbon power.

Government provoked furtherconfusion today after issuing a flurry of funding announcements for small
modular reactors, known as ‘baby nukes’, alongside findings that they may
prove even more expensive than traditional nuclear plants.

The new reactors, being developed by industrial giants including Rolls Royce and
NuScale, will face another round of financial scrutiny by industry experts,
the Government said. But in the meantime as much as £460m has been
promised for new nuclear research and development by the end of the decade.

The money will come from the Government, Innovate UK, and the Research
Councils, a Government spokeswoman said. The research funding windfall
includes £86m to develop nuclear fusion technology and a further £56m
towards research and development of next generation nuclear reactors.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/12/07/nuclear-windfall-new-technologies-concerns-cost-persist/

December 9, 2017 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK | 1 Comment

Electricity from Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) would be much more expensive than from ‘conventional’ reactors

Power from mini nuclear plants ‘would cost more than from large ones’
UK government study finds electricity would be nearly one-third pricier than it would from plants such as Hinkley Point C, 
Guardian, Adam Vaughan, 7 Dec 17, Electricity from the first mini nuclear power stations in Britain would be likely to be more expensive than from large atomic plants such as Hinkley Point C, according to a government study.

Power from small modular reactors (SMRs) would cost nearly one-third more than conventional large ones in 2031, the report found, because of reduced economies of scale and the costs of deploying first-of-a-kind technology.

The analysis by the consultancy Atkins for the Department for Business, Energyand Industrial Strategy said there was “a great deal of uncertainty with regards to the economics” of the smaller reactors.

However, the authors said such reactors should be able to cut costs more quickly than large ones because they could be built and put into service in less time.

Advocates have argued that the reactors could be built in factories and achieve savings through their modular nature.

While the report covers the technology being used by several of the international companies seeking government support, it does not apply to the design being pushed by businesses including Rolls-Royce.

A government source said nuclear companies had told officials that the cost of the technology had come down since the report, which was finished in July last year but only published on Thursday.

As revealed by the Guardian earlier this week, ministers confirmed that SMR developers would receive £56m of public funding for research and development over three years. A further £86m was announced for work on nuclear fusion.

Greg Clark, the business secretary, said the backing would help the nuclear sector compete globally………

The government also defended Britain’s need for new nuclear power in the face of falling renewable costs.

Richard Harrington, the energy minister, said the record low subsidies recently awarded to offshore windfarms emphasised the challenge for the French, Korean, Chinese and Japanese companies building the UK’s new generation of nuclear plants to be competitive on price………

green groups and politicians accused the government of talking down renewables.

Doug Parr, the policy director at Greenpeace UK, said: “Instead of downplaying the rapid advancement of UK renewables, the government should concentrate on the export opportunities for this UK success story.”

Caroline Lucas, the Green party co-leader, called the UK’s energy policy a mess. “Ministers are ploughing huge sums of money into supporting overpriced nuclear, while retaining a de facto ban on onshore wind and failing to give solar the support the sector needs,” she said……. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/07/power-mini-nuclear-plants-cost-more-hinkley-point-c

December 8, 2017 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, technology, UK | Leave a comment