The Government has just announced a £40 million research programme into so-called advanced modular reactor technology that is highly unlikely ever to see any practical use. That is because the so-called small modular reactors (SMRs) are much too expensive for civilian use. In an important sense it is nonsense to talk about research to develop SMRs as a ‘new’ technology simply because they already exist. They power military submarines and also US aircraft carriers. Their design is simply a smaller version of the Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR) design that dominates the world nuclear power industry. Indeed PWRs began as small projects housed in submarines which were then developed up in scale so that they could produce electricity more cheaply. At 450 MW for their proposed plant, the plant is not far off the same order of magnitude as conventional plant – for example the AGR series that currently generates the bulk of British nuclear plant has units of around 600-660 MW. In fact, as Tom Burke points out, they are close to the size of Britain’s first generation of reactors, the ‘Magnox’ reactors. Neither is the plant proposed by Rolls Royce modular in the sense that such plant can be rolled off a production line. What Rolls Royce claims is that some parts can be produced in a ‘modular’ fashion. This is not the same are producing whole units off a production line, and in fact the developers of the nuclear plant Vogtle in the USA also claim to produce parts in a ‘modular ‘fashion (although this plant is now hopelessly behind schedule with very large cost overruns).
100% Renewables 16th July 2020 read more »
A multi-million package of investment intended to kickstart the next generation of nuclear technologies in the UK has been hailed as positive news for Cumbria. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has announced a £40m package of nuclear investments. A total of £30m will support three Advanced Modular Reactor projects in Oxfordshire, Cheshire and Lancashire. AMRs can be used at remote locations because they are much smaller than traditional nuclear energy power plants. Around £5m of the funding is intended to support British companies and start-ups with smaller research, design and manufacturing projects. One company to benefit is Createc, in Whitehaven, which specialises in remote computer imaging technology. It received £314,595 of funding as part of the package. John Grainger, executive director of the Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster said: “The programme of work focuses on future reactor technologies, including fusion, as well as innovations in modular manufacturing.
Carlisle News & Star 16th July 2020 read more »