With support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Paul Scherrer Institute and the Center for Climate and Energy Decision Making at Carnegie Mellon University jointly organised with IRGC on 18-19 November 2013 a workshop on “Small Modular Reactors”.
Implications on low carbon energy and nuclear security
Over the past decade, there has been growing interest in developing and deploying a new generation of small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs). SMRs hold the potential to make carbon-free nuclear energy available at smaller scales. They would be more affordable than large, conventional reactors. It might also be possible to reduce the cost per kWe. Ideally, these reactors would be manufactured in a factory and shipped to the site by road, rail, or barge. Developers promise that these reactors will either maintain or enhance nuclear power plants’ operational safety compared to existing designs and could thus contribute to restore or foster confidence in nuclear power generation. Some incorporate features that make them more resistant to proliferation than the current fleet of operating reactors, while more ambitious designs promise to at least partially tackle the waste question by producing smaller volumes of waste, or even by utilizing spent fuel as fresh fuel.
Goals of the workshop
The goal of the workshop organizers was first to evaluate the benefits of and challenges to developing and deploying the first generation of light water SMR designs, and then assess the technical and institutional barriers that must be overcome by later generations of SMRs, particularly non-light water designs.