Stephen Monk Lancaster University: Everything you need to know about mini nuclear reactors. The chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, now wants the UK to be a “global leader in innovative nuclear technologies”. Part of this plan involves spending £250m on a research and development programme to put the UK in with a chance of “winning” the race to develop small modular reactors (SMR). The main benefit of SMRs compared to full-sized reactors is probably financial – the capital start-up costs are far lower, reducing the cost risk for any interested builder. Another advantage over full-sized reactors is that most countries are better equipped for smaller power loads than bigger ones – the national electricity grid of some countries cannot handle the huge power load from a full-sized power station – they would simply overload and shut down – so SMRs would be ideal in these circumstances. The modular design of the SMRs also ensures they can be manufactured and assembled at a central factory then sent to their new location where they can be installed relatively easily. This is particularly useful in remote locations which might not have the best manufacturing facilities. The obvious drawback is the increased running costs – each kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity from an SMR would be expected to cost between 15% and 70% more than a kWh of electricity produced in a full-sized nuclear power station, due to economies of scale. This means power output decreases while other costs stay constant.
The Conversation 24th March 2016 read more »
In the U.K., a firm with 50 years of experience building SMR’s for the British Royal Navy’s fleet of nuclear powered submarines says it can generate power at less than a fifth of the price of new, much-delayed projects such as Britain’s proposed massive 3,200 mw Hinkley Point project. Rolls-Royce has submitted detailed plans to the British government for SMRs capable of generating 220 mw that could be used in tandem with larger arrays depending on the local demand and infrastructure and, even with the need for regulatory approval for civilian use, could be operational within 10 years.
Oil Price 24th March 2016 read more »