There is growing UK and international interest in using ‘small modular nuclear reactors’ (SMRs) to generate electricity, and the UK Government announced a number of measures to support SMR development in the 2018 Nuclear Sector Deal. Stakeholders suggest that, compared with conventional nuclear reactors, SMRs could offer cost savings to operators and consumers, more flexible energy production and a greater choice of potential sites. This note examines key aspects of SMR technology, their economics and regulation.

Parliament 18th July 2018 read more »

New funding measures for advanced reactor research and manufacturing will help the UK retain and grow its nuclear expertise and signals support for a widening range of SMR applications, industry experts told Nuclear Energy Insider. The UK nuclear industry has broadly welcomed the UK government’s new 200 million-pound ($263.8-million) Nuclear Sector Deal which aims to cut the cost of nuclear power and bolster the UK skills base. The deal, announced June 27, includes 56 million pounds towards the development and licensing of advanced modular reactor designs—already set by the government last December– and 32 million pounds towards advanced manufacturing research. In addition, the UK and Welsh governments will jointly invest $40 million in new thermal hydraulics testing. The development funding will initially allocate a total 4 million pounds to eight non-light water reactor (non-LWR) vendors, to perform detailed technical and commercial feasibility studies. The eight vendors are: • Advanced Reactor Concepts • DBD • LeadCold • Moltex Energy • Tokamak Energy • U-Battery Developments • Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation • Westinghouse Electric Company UK. In April 2019, three or four of these companies will be selected to receive a total of 40 million to accelerate the development of the design over two years. UK nuclear regulators will receive 5 million pounds to support this process and a further 7 million pounds to build regulatory resources to assess and license new designs. The latest funding announcements could, for now, prevent an exodus of UK expertise to other countries supporting SMR development. Several advanced reactor developers are simultaneously pursuing SMR programs in North America, where government support programs are larger. In addition to baseload supply, SMR developers are targeting applications such as renewable energy load following, industrial power and heat, district heating, and hydrogen production.

Nuclear Energy Insider 18th July 2018 read more »

The US Department of Energy (US DOE) has selected GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) to lead an advanced nuclear technology development project for BWRX-300. The project will bring together Exelon Generation, Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy (HGNE), Bechtel and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). As part of the project, the team will identify various methods to simplify the reactor design, reduce plant construction costs, and minimise operations and maintenance costs for the GEH BWRX-300, a 300 MWe small modular reactor.

Power Technology 18th July 2018 read more »

Posted: 19 July 2018


GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) is to receive USD1.9 million in funding from the US Department of Energy (DOE) to lead research into ways to efficiently building a power plant based on GE Hitachi’s BWRX-300 small modular reactor. The research team includes Bechtel, Exelon, Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy (HGNE) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

World Nuclear News 17th July 2018 read more »

Compelo 17th July 2018 read more »

Posted: 18 July 2018

Nuclear Ships

On June 23, a tender was published on the website of state-owned China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) for the construction of a nuclear-powered icebreaker. The project, commissioned by China Maritime Nuclear Power Development (CMNPD), a joint venture established last year with China National Nuclear Power (CNNP) as the controlling shareholder, and Jiangnan Shipyards, and Shanghai Electric among its minority shareholders, would see the construction of China’s first nuclear-powered surface vessel.

The Diplomat 17th July 2018 read more »

Posted: 18 July 2018


Bechtel, a global leader in engineering, procurement, construction, and project management, today announced it will join researchers from reactor designer GE Hitachi, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Exelon Power Generation Company as recipients of U.S. Department of Energy funding from its Advanced Nuclear Technology Development program. The research will investigate ways to efficiently build a plant using GE Hitachi’s BWRX-300 reactors. “We’re excited to participate in this effort to study ways to build new plants using SMRs,” said Mike Robinson, operations manager of Bechtel’s nuclear power group. “We’ll look at ways to bring innovation and modular technology to the project with the goal of reducing cost and schedule, which are key factors for companies and utilities examining SMRs.”

Markets Insider 16th July 2018 read more »

GE Hitachi Selected by U.S. Department of Energy to Lead Advanced Nuclear Technology Development Project for BWRX-300 with Exelon, Bechtel, HGNE and MIT. GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy to lead a team of industry experts for an advanced nuclear technology development project.

Power Technology 16th July 2018 read more »

UK-based Moltex Energy will build a demonstration SSR-W (Stable Salt Reactor – Wasteburner) at the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant site in Canada under an agreement signed with the New Brunswick Energy Solutions Corporation and NB Power. Moltex becomes the second partner in a nuclear research cluster that will work on research and development of small modular reactor technology in the Canadian province.

World Nuclear News 16th July 2018 read more »

Posted: 17 July 2018


The UK Government has announced funding for an Advanced Modular Reactor (AMR) programme involving Birkenhead ship yard Cammell Laird, Cheshire nuclear fuel expert Urenco, and Manchester University. U-Battery is a micro modular nuclear reactor being designed to provide secure, low carbon embedded power at industrial sites and remote locations, currently focused on the UK and Canadian markets. U-Battery is intended to support Canada’s many northern and remote communities by providing a clean, cost-effective and safe source of electricity and heat, allowing them to move away from carbon-intensive diesel fuel, the company said in a statement. The reactor is also intended to power industrial sites, including off-grid mining operations.

Business Desk 29th June 2018 read more »

Posted: 30 June 2018


A £40m facility to support the design of advanced nuclear technologies will be developed in north Wales by the Welsh and UK governments. It is in addition to a £200m UK government nuclear sector deal to be launched in Trawsfynydd, Gwynedd. The deal will also see investment in technology to reduce the high cost of the sector and bring down energy bills. The chief executive of the company behind plans for Wylfa Newydd on Anglesey welcomed the proposals. The UK-wide deal funded by public and private money also includes: Up to £56m for research and development for “advanced modular reactors” £86m UK government funding for a national fusion technology platform at Culham, Oxfordshire. £32m for an advanced manufacturing and construction programme. £30m for a new national supply chain programme. A commitment from industry to reduc e the cost of new nuclear build projects by 30% by 2030, and the cost of decommissioning old nuclear sites by 20% by 2030. A new review to look at ways to accelerate the clean-up of nuclear ‘legacy’ sites. A commitment to increasing gender diversity in the civil nuclear workforce with a target of 40% women in nuclear by 2030. Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said: “This sector deal marks an important moment for the government and industry to work collectively to deliver the modern industrial strategy, drive clean growth and ensure civil nuclear remains an important part of the UK’s energy future.” Alun Cairns, secretary of state for Wales, said Trawsfynydd has an “exciting future as the potential site for the new generation of small reactors”. “Trawsfynydd is ready to be transformed with little upgrade needed to the grid infrastructure. “It’s in the right place with the right people and good links to leading ac ademic research institutions in the nuclear sector,” he said. Duncan Hawthorne, CEO of Horizon Nuclear Power the company behind the Wylfa Newydd plans, welcomed the proposals.

BBC 27th June 2018 read more »

A new generation of “mini” atomic power plants in the UK will get the strongest signal yet of government support on Thursday when the industrial strategy’s nuclear sector deal is unveiled. Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark is due to set out £200m of funding for the industry at the nuclear-licensed Trawsfynydd site in North Wales. While the bulk of the money is a re-announcement of support pledged last year, industry insiders say the site chosen to launch the sector deal is important. Trawsfynydd is seen as the most likely location for a small modular reactor (SMR) – a new design of a baby nuclear plant which produces far less power than a traditional atomic plant such as Hinkley Point, but is a fraction of the cost. SMRs will generate between 200 and 450 megawatts, compared with the 3.2 gigawatts due from the conventional Hinkley Point power station currently under construction. SMRs use modular construction, meaning they can be fabricated in factories and assembled on site, slashing costs. It is estimated it will cost £3bn to perfect SMRs and get the first one running, but then the price is expected to tumble. Hinkley cost £18.2bn. The Government also pledged to set out a new framework on how SMRs can be developed and deployed. One industry source said that it is highly unlikely the cash-strapped Government will finance getting SMRs up and running, but by launching the sector deal at Trawsfynydd, minister are signalling their support and willingness to create the right environment for the new technology to go ahead with private funding. Leading contenders for such a programme include NuScale Power, which is building an SMR project in Idaho, and a consortium fronted by Rolls-Royce.

Telegraph 27th June 2018 read more »

A £40m facility to aid development of advanced nuclear technologies will be built in north Wales by the Welsh and UK governments. It’s part of a £200m UK wide plan to drive down the costs of nuclear energy, develop new technologies and encourage more women to work in the industry. Ministers said a so-called Nuclear Sector Deal would secure the UK’s diverse energy mix and lead to cheaper energy bills.

ITV 28th June 2018 read more »

The £200m nuclear deal that could bring hundreds of jobs to Trawsfynydd and Anglesey. A £200m nuclear sector deal could give North Wales a triple economic boost that would create and retain hundreds of jobs. The UK Government has revealed its blueprint for nuclear energy innovation and it makes good reading for the Welsh economy. Under the plans a £40 million thermal hydraulics facility would be built in North Wales in a partnership between the UK and Welsh governments – with Menai Science Park on Anglesey understood to be the preferred location. It is part of the Nuclear Innovation Programme to support the design and development of advanced nuclear technologies and would create direct jobs at the facility and spin off roles on the island.

Daily Post 27th June 2018 read more »

Posted: 28 June 2018


A nuclear fusion experiment in Germany, dubbed the ‘star in a jar’, has achieved a world record for plasma production, according to its creators. Researchers were able to keep the device, technically known as Wendelstein 7-X, running for longer and at higher energy, than ever before. Its performance is the best recorded for a stellarator type reactor and brings the goal of producing limitless energy a step closer to reality, researchers say. The new success was thanks to modifications made to the walls of the reactor, which increase the temperature and efficiency of the reaction.

Daily Mail 26th June 2018 read more »

Posted: 27 June 2018

Nuclear Ships

China is preparing to start bidding on a nuclear powered icebreaker, the first nuclear powered surface ship in the country’s history. An icebreaker powered by nuclear energy would give Beijing access to the Arctic and its resources. It would also pave the way toward nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, giving the People’s Liberation Army Navy unprecedented reach.

Popular Mechanics 25th June 2018 read more »

Posted: 26 June 2018

High Enriched Uranium

The US Senate has approved a proposal for a USD15 million pilot programme to recycle used naval nuclear fuel for use as fuel in advanced nuclear reactors. The proposal – an amendment to the fiscal 2019 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill – was adopted by the full Senate by 87 votes to 9. Low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel used in today’s nuclear power plants typically contains less than 5% of fissile uranium-235 (U-235), but many of the advanced reactor designs currently under development will require uranium fuel enriched to between 5% and 20% U-235, known as high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) fuel. Nuclear submarines use highly enriched uranium (HEU). Used nuclear fuel retains much of its fissile content, and the project would aim to demonstrate the blending down of used HEU fuel from the USA’s naval programme to produce useable HALEU. Such a project could potentially reduce the amounts of nuclear waste from the naval programme requiring disposal.

World Nuclear News 22nd June 2018 read more »

Posted: 23 June 2018


Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) has received submissions from four international and domestic small modular reactor (SMR) developers to build demonstration plants at a CNL-managed site, the research agency announced June 12. CNL has designated SMR technology as a research priority and aims to build a demonstration plant on site by 2026.

Nuclear Energy Insider 20th June 2018 read more »

Posted: 21 June 2018