BOSTON, June 29, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — By taking advantage of assembly line production, SMRs promise cost reductions and shorter construction times relative to their conventional counterparts. The first nuclear small modular reactors (SMRs) are already operational in Russia and China, but widening adoption will require both technical and regulatory developments, including development in fuel supply chains and international licensing standardization.
Cheaper and Safer
Nuclear SMRs hold the promise of bringing nuclear power into a new age by cutting costs while improving safety. These nuclear reactors, usually with an electrical capacity of less than 300MW and largely built on assembly lines, are expected to compete to provide baseload and demand-following grid capacity with intermittent renewables and energy storage as decarbonization efforts intensify. Furthermore, they could directly provide process heat to emissions-heavy industries, including steelmaking, alongside electricity generation. They could even reuse existing infrastructure at the sites of old nuclear or fossil fuel power plants, cutting the cost and impact of providing new grid capacity.
While SMRs are largely evolutions of existing nuclear fission technology, this does not mean that the nuclear industry can immediately transition to connecting them to the grid in great numbers. Drawing on analysis of government policies, the stated goals of SMR designers, data-based benchmarking, and more, the 20-year market forecast from a recent IDTechEx report predicts the next decade to be one of establishment for SMRs, with early demonstration reactors built to prove commercial feasibility and gain operational excellence. The next decade to 2043, however, is expected to be high-growth, as rollout widens and a commercial fleet of SMRs takes place globally.
But why these two distinct periods? For one, there’s the build time of the reactors themselves. SMRs tend to simplify reactor designs compared…