The race for small nuclear reactors is on. Russians, Chinese, Americans and French are interested in models, the “small modular reactors”, which have yet to prove their competitiveness. Will the irresistible global warming support a revival of nuclear energy, which emits very little greenhouse gas? And in the form of small units as well as powerful reactors from 1000 to 1700 megawatts (MW)? On Monday the Russian company Rosatom announced that the Russian Federal Service for Environmental and Nuclear Monitoring had authorized the construction of a 50 MW reactor, confirming its lead in “small modular reactors” (SMR), “prefabricated” plants that can be installed in areas without an electricity grid. Rosatom plans to launch its construction in 2024 in north-eastern Siberia, and to put it into service in 2028. It will notably allow the exploitation of a gold deposit. This pressurized water reactor is already being used to propel the three Russian icebreakers of the latest generation, and they will also equip floating power stations in the Arctic. The construction will be the first on dry land, after the commissioning of an SMR installed on a barge in the Russian Far East in 2020.
Le Monde 10th Aug 2021 read more »