Small modular nuclear reactors could be a crucial technology in the drive to decarbonise our energy system, according to Small Modular Reactors: The next big thing in energy? published on Thursday by Policy Exchange. The increased take-up of electric vehicles, the general electrification of our energy system and the need to decarbonise all sectors of our economy mean we need new low carbon sources of electricity and heat to replace existing capacity and meet rising future demands. The diffuse and intermittent nature of solar and wind means that we cannot rely on them for 100% of our energy needs – for example, January typically sees at least one week where virtually no electricity is produced by either wind or solar compared with what is needed. Buying in electricity through interconnectors from other Western European nations will be increasingly difficult as our neighbours also turn to wind and solar and so have less capacity to export, while the battery storage capability to back up renewables could cost up to £1 trillion. We need a reliable and affordable low carbon form of energy – small modular reactors have the potential to be that technology. Policy Exchange’s recommendations include: Use SMRs as part of our energy mix to reduce the system costs of decarbonisation, thereby reducing consumer bills in the long term. The Government should proceed swiftly with the development of at least one third generation (Gen III) small modular reactor design after the results of their current consultation are published. Launch a consultation with heavy industry into what services advanced fourth generation (Gen IV) reactor designs could also bring that would be of use to them, like hydrogen production to use in low carbon steel manufacturing. SMR producers should prepare for hydrogen to become a larger part of our economy, from replacing the gas currently supplied to homes for heating to powering a new generation of low-carbon vehicles. This means developing the technology to create hydrogen using nuclear power. The Government should also commission polling of populations closest to potential sites for SMRs to inform decisions on where they are located. SMR producers should plan to make the most of nuclear capacity, heating nearby homes with the excess water currently pumped into the sea and developing storage battery storage to ensure the most efficient use of power generated.
Policy Exchange 25th Jan 2018 read more »
Demand for low-carbon electricity to power a future wave of electric vehicles could be provided by small, factory-built nuclear reactors. As Britain’s old coal and nuclear stations shut from 2025, the nation faces a tough challenge in keeping a future fleet of electric cars powered and meeting the nation’s clean energy goals when renewable sources like wind and solar aren’t available. “In the next decades, we are going to need previously unthinkable levels of new low-carbon electricity capacity for charging electric vehicles and to replace coal and gas,” said Matt Rooney, the author of a report on small reactors for the Policy Exchange research group. “There is no other low-carbon energy which can match nuclear power for scale and reliability.” The intermittent nature of solar and wind rules them out of providing all of Britain’s electricity. While battery storage is good as a short-term, small-scale backup, the amount of equipment needed to fill “week-long gaps” in Britain’s energy needs would cost as much as 1 trillion pounds, according to the report.
Bloomberg 25th Jan 2018 read more »
Can We Make A Nuclear Reactor That Won’t Melt Down? Yes we can. It’s called a small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) and NuScale Power is the company that will build the first one in America. Last year, they submitted to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission the first design certification application (DCA) for any SMR in the United States. Just two months later, NRC accepted their design certification application. By accepting the DCA for review, the NRC staff confirmed that NuScale’s submission addresses all of NRC’s initial concerns and requirements. Now, less than a year later, the NRC approved NuScale’s walk-away-safe concept. That means just what it sounds like – the reactor doesn’t need the complex back-up power systems that traditional reactors require and which traditionally add a lot of cost as well as some uncertainty.
Forbes 24th Jan 2018 read more »