05/12/2018 – News / Energy / Power / Nuclear / Small Modular Reactor / SMR Technology / UK
New report recommends UK subsidies for small modular reactor (SMR) technology
A recently published report – Market Framework for Financing Small Nuclear – has recommended that subsidies should be extended to small modular reactor (SMR) technology to help establish a supply chain and reduce technology costs in the UK – similar to initiatives in the renewable energy sector.
SCHOTT, a longstanding supplier of critical components to the nuclear sector, sees a bright future for SMR technology, as the UK already has a great deal of experience in this area. The firm’s GM of its Nuclear Safety Division, Thomas Fink, said that given the existence of current programmes for nuclear submarines and several large-scale nuclear power projects, a UK supply chain for this type of small reactor could easily be established. The UK’s ageing existing nuclear fleet will need to be replaced in the near future, which presents two possible scenarios. The first scenario is an initiative to replace the existing fleet with wind and gas power. The second option is to explore the further use of nuclear technology.
Excluding nuclear could cause rise in electricity costs and CO2 emissions
“Where the future of the UK’s energy supply is concerned, ruling out nuclear power altogether could have serious economic implications,” opined Mr Fink.
“A recent report commissioned by the New Nuclear Watch Institute (NNWI) indicates that excluding nuclear power from the country’s energy future would increase the cost of electricity by 15 per cent, while also tripling CO2 emissions out to 2030,” he continued. “SMRs could be the ideal model to achieve the balance required – both to help meet high energy demand and to keep prices relatively stable.”
SMRs: “An interesting opportunity”
SMRs present a very interesting opportunity due to their unique manufacturing process. These smaller-scale reactors can be pre-manufactured in a controlled environment, then brought to a location and installed. By building a large number of SMRs, budgets and project timelines should be far easier to control thanks to the potential to benefit from a higher level of manufacturing and construction predictability than ever before.
“SMRs are an exciting prospect for the UK market as they can be put to a wide range of uses,” Mr Fink continued. “They are ideal for use in remote areas where there is not significant grid infrastructure, for example, or to replace ageing coal fired plants, where they can be retrofitted to use the existing grid systems. Of course, there will be the typical questions raised regarding safety, but with the deployment of SMR technology comes the opportunity to commit to enforcing the highest levels of safety requirements. For SMRs, this means using the latest stringently-tested components for critical plant infrastructure. Modern nuclear safety systems have made quiet but significant advancements over the years and utilising them properly should alleviate any potential concerns.”