The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) is concerned with the plans of TSP Engineering to develop ‘small’ modular lead-cooled nuclear reactors in Workington, in cooperation with partners in Sweden. The Cumbrian company suggests over 1,000 new jobs could be created as part of a new industry developing multiple small reactors. They argue this could restore the new nuclear plans in the county after the collapse of the plans to develop the Sellafield Moorside site by Toshiba. NFLA has recently supported a detailed analysis of the prospects for small modular nuclear reactors undertaken by Professor Steve Thomas, Dr Paul Dorfman and Professor M V Ramana. This sober and independent analysis suggested the prospects for significant development of such technology is actually quite limited due to economies of scale and the large financial resources required to develop and promote the technology. The NFLA Secretariat have asked Professor Thomas and Professor Ramana for their analysis of the prospects for such new developments like this one proposed in Cumbria. Professor Thomas notes that the technology proposed by TSP Engineering is the ‘Leadcold’ lead-cooled fast reactor, which is one of eight designs that received money from the UK Government’s nuclear sector deal pot of £4m. An additional pot of £40m to further develop four of these designs was recently announced by the UK Government. However, such limited funds will not go far in developing such a reactor design. This Swedish design by ‘Leadcold’ has some presence in Canada but for a considerably smaller design of 3-10 MW. This design has to date only got to the preliminary stage in Canada. It is likely that this development remains many years away from starting the type of multiple factory style construction process being put forward, and not as rosy as the proponents for such technology suggest so often in the UK media.
NFLA 21st Aug 2019 read more »